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asploring: nature’s beauty

A small prickly pear cactus. Each pad is adorned with spines, some two inches long. The pads themselves are mottled green & red.

… or spikiness, as the case may be. But even the spiky can be beautiful.

I knew this flower as Indian Paintbrush but it occurred to me that 1) probably the name is kind of racist & 2) probably the people who lived here first have another name for it so I went looking. The Dine name, it turns out, is Dahiitįį́hídą́ą́’tsoh & you may click on it for the pronunciation. I will need to listen to it a BUNCH more times before I’m willing to give it a try on my own, but putting in the effort seems only appropriate.

Anyway, they’re really gorgeous. & it turns out the flowers are edible!

Low green plants. Each one has a single stalk from which grow lots of long, narrow leaves, & each is topped with a bright orange flower.

We walked out to the Grandmother Piñon. I wish we’d been able to get a decent picture to show how truly HUGE she is, but, alas. She is old, though, & strong, & beautiful.

Grandmother pinyon, from maybe five feet away. Her trunk is a foot & a half across at the bottom, & her branches spread & rise to the skies.  The photo was taken from under her canopy & most of her foliage isn't even in the shot, though there's a bit showing behind her branches.

Her limbs house colonies of symbiotic lichens …

A horizontal branch about a foot thick holds clusters of lichens -- grey, pale green, & small spots of dark orange.

… & she drips with piñon resin. I took some from the trees around her, carefully, but I left hers alone.

Looking up into some of her smaller branches. Blue sky is visible beyond, & several places on her bark are covered with amber-coloured resin.

I will SO VERY be going out there again, to sit & rest under her branches.

& maybe next time I’ll manage a decent picture.

(all photos by Inoru, who did just fine, Grandmother Piñon is just too big)

This was posted originally to my Patreon, a little over a week ago.

If you want to see these posts sooner, & not incidentally help support me & my cats in our travels & such, the way to do that is to sign up as one of my Patrons for as little as a buck a month.

I’d REALLY like that.

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asploring: treasure

A horse skull & three old bottles sit on a carpeted floor. Also, I need to vacuum.

We brought home LOTS of treasure. LOOK at all this piñon resin. It’s more than five ounces, & that long piece in the back is an ounce & a half all on its own.

A pile of amber-coloured resin. One piece, in the back, is like three inches long.

I found a cool carved-stone pipe that I kinda love.

The bowl of the pipe is very round, & it's cut from a peachy-white stone. The stem is short & cut from a light grey stone.

The horse skull is what I went out to fetch — a friend needs one, so I’m going to ship it to them — & it’s REALLY cool. Needs a wash though.

The horse skull, seel from directly above.

Excellent bottles:

Three glass bottles. The lefthand one is clear & about the size of a wine bottle; the center one is brown, the same shape as the first but larger around; the shirt is maybe half the height, clear, & flattened like a flask.

… yep, it’s Bacardi.

A close view of the lefthand bottle, which has the Bacardi bat logo cast into it.

Horse jaws & teeth.

A close view of part of the horse's lower jaw, with some teeth still attached. A loose tooth lays on the carpet next to it.

& lastly, two Very Good Rocks.

One rock is smooth & white, with patches of rougher pinky-tan. The other is rough, mostly pale orange, with a brown stripe running along it.

Always keep your eyes open — you never know what you’ll find!

This was posted originally to my Patreon, a little over a week ago.

If you want to see these posts sooner, & not incidentally help support me & my cats in our travels & such, the way to do that is to sign up as one of my Patrons for as little as a buck a month.

I’d REALLY like that.

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cats in a time of covid

A closeup on Hades' face. He's gazing majestically off into the distance. Also the very tip of his tongue is sticking out.

They don’t care, except that Loiosh is getting bored because I haven’t taken him ANYWHERE AT ALL MOM (except for an emergency trip to Albuquerque but more about that later).

Mostly their lives are about the same, only with more opportunities to lay on Mom.

A view along the length of the couch, clearly taken by someone sitting on it. Hades is meatloafed close to the camera; behind him some of Major Tom is visible curled up. Loiosh has squeezed himself in right along the edge.

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this is the Very Best of all possible ideas

A pretty close view of me, but the important part is that I'm wearing a large basket as a backpack, & Major Tom is peeking out, just his pawn & the top half of his head visible. His eyes are REALLY WIDE.

(I did one loop around the house & let him out, he really did pretty well with it, but this is the funniest picture I have ever taken in my ENTIRE LIFE)

After that, though, it was time to stick Loiosh in the basket instead & go check the mail, because 1) he’s bored, 2) I’M bored, & 3) I had herbs coming. Not that kind. Continue reading this is the Very Best of all possible ideas

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Estrella Day 2: Timber Camp the First

Three tall conifers (Ponderosa pines?) stand out from a host of smaller trees, all against an amazing blue sky.

(not ‘part the first’ but ‘my first visit’ because why WOULDN’T I stop at such an awesome spot twice?)

What with one thing & another I had a choice the second day between reaching the Queen Creek Walmart at like 3pm OR finding a place to stop for the afternoon somewhere after Salt River Canyon, so of course I found a nice place to stop.

I mean. TREES. Continue reading Estrella Day 2: Timber Camp the First

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Estrella Day 2: Pintail Lake

A concrete path leads in a gentle curve through low desert brush dotted with evergreens, below a blue sky.

You see above a Good Path! It leads to Pintail Lake Wetlands near Show Low in Arizona, which was constructed to filter Show Low’s waste water & create habitat for waterfowl & all the many other critters that love wetlands.

It was a lovely day, I had plenty of time, & the path was promised to be short, so of course I walked right down it. Continue reading Estrella Day 2: Pintail Lake

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Estrella Day Mostly 2: Salt River Canyon

A big ol canyon with steep sides & a river at the bottom. The sun is about to set. I don't make good decisions, y'all.

Near the end of the first day, having gotten a good feel for how Tyrava pulls, I decided that I would challenge myself & see how well I was REALLY doing with this towing-a-big-trailer thing. I decided to do this by taking AZ60 through Salt River Canyon. Down through Salt River Canyon. The one with all the switchbacks.

… I didn’t say it was a GOOD idea. Continue reading Estrella Day Mostly 2: Salt River Canyon