Sunday, October 17, 2010

Working in a Barn - a P.S.

 P.S. Before being turned into a theater, the Old Barn at Parry Lodge in Kanab, Utah used to be a working barn. There's a very good chance that Trigger, Buttercup, Silver, Scout, and one of the many horses John Wayne used got to sleep there during movie filming. 

 There also used  to be a speakeasy-type club in back called The Black Cat where the stars used to go for their entertainment. Kanab has always been quite a quiet, Mormon town, and even though it's fairly close to Las Vegas, sometimes a little liquid refreshment or a game of cards on site hit the spot. The place burned down long ago, and not many people know about it. Now you do.

Working in a Barn

Like me, I'm sure you've occasionally done something stupid enough that someone asked, "Were you raised in a barn?" Well, although I was definitely not RAISED in that barn, I've now spent lots of time in one.  Since beginning work at Parry Lodge in Kanab, Utah on April 1, I've hung around in a barn three hours a night, five nights a week, showing old Western movies that were filmed in this area. 

Being raised during the 1950s and '60s, I grew up watching the Lone Ranger and Tonto save the West from the bad guys, the ones who almost always wore black hats. I very seldom missed an episode of "Gunsmoke" or "Daniel Boone," or "Have Gun, Will Travel," but gave absolutely no thought to where those TV shows were filmed. But now I know. 

Have you ever heard of Kanab, Utah? Before coming here four years ago to work at Parry Lodge, I didn't know this place existed until my brother once told me that he and his wife were considering moving here. My intelligent comment at the time was, "Where?" They didn't, but I've now spent a total of fourteen months here, a lot of that time showing old Western movies in The Old Barn. 

All of the films we show, nineteen this season, have been filmed in this area of Kane County and Kanab, Utah. Although the fantastic red rock scenery doesn't show to good advantage in black and white, in Technicolor it's beautiful. What a great place to make Westerns!

Actor Joel McCrea starred in many movies here: "Cattle Drive" in 1951 with a very young Dean Stockwell, based on Kipling's "Captains Courageous; "Ramrod" (1947) with a luminous-looking Veronica Lake; "The Outriders" (1950) with Arlene Dahl; and one of my favorites, "Trooper Hook" (1957) with Barbara Stanwyck. That movie was ahead of its time in serving as a commentary on toleration and acceptance of differences.

Rod Cameron starred in the forgettable, at least to me, "Oh! Susanna" (1951), which has absolutely nothing to do with a Susanna other than the title music.The plot concerns strained relations at an army fort during Indian wars. He also filmed "Ride the Man Down" (1952) with Forrest Tucker, a much better movie.

Two of my favorites this season have been "The Fargo Kid" (1940) and "Wagon Train," (1940), both starring Tim Holt, the one with a beautiful smile. "The Fargo Kid" is a light Western comedy about mistaken identity.

Of course, the hands-on favorite of just about everyone this season has been "The Lone Ranger" with Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels, filmed in 1956. Every night it's played to a full house with applause afterward.

As in any decent old movie house, I sell freshly-made popcorn as well as soft drinks and various kinds of ice cream. The comfortable, mismatched seats once graced various rooms in the Lodge. If you get there early enough, you can choose the most comfortable ones in the place--two plaid, overstuffed rockers.

Many guests have asked me how many people usually show up for the movies and, being honest, I tell them there's really no way of knowing beforehand. It all depends on how many people are registered at the Lodge on a particular night, how many tour buses, and what country the folks on those tours are from, and how many people from the community show up for a night out. The French rarely come, most likely because of the language difference; the films were made before subtitles. However, the Japanese, as a rule, love their Westerns and their popcorn. Germans like the movies, as do the British. Most of the old Westerns have enough action to satisfy just about anyone.

Enough talking. Here are some pictures I took the other night.

End of the season reflections

Here's a  little Kanab "movie-in-the-barn" trivia for you. Last night I calculated just how many times I've shown the 24-minute short feature, "Return to Little Hollywood," since April 1. My first season here, I complained about having to watch "Buffalo Bill" 38 times. Well, the figure for "Little Hollywood" is now at 160 with four more to go this coming week. Gee, do you think that might be the reason I can repeat it all in my sleep? However, I really love the freedom of this job. And smoozing with guests from all over the world is wonderful fun, especially when some of them dance to the pre-film Western music or applaud at the end of  "The Lone Ranger." That makes it all worthwhile.

It's the same here in the workampers RV park. As long as the place looks decent, I can pretty much do what I think needs to be done and set my own time for doing it. Getting rid of huge, still-green tumbleweeds is ideal as they take up a lot of space yet are very easy to pull up.

 The trick is to time their removal right before trash-emptying Thursdays. Otherwise they get dry and stickery before I can shove them into the dumpster. But,  I think it's going to take a while before I'll be able to see one in the desert somewhere and not think, "gotta pull that one up."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Goodbye, Monkey Mind

Writing the cookie blog this afternoon served as a way to get back into blogging more. But much more importantly, I hope it also served to focus my thoughts a little in order to keep my "monkey mind" from jumping from thought to thought to idea to idea to idea without really focusing on anything. 

I used to meditate regularly. And I thought that moving into the little RV would make that practice even easier in the small space. However, as sometimes happens, the expectation and the actuality turned out to be completely different. Perhaps in traveling from place to place, living and working in such a variety of spots, my mind also reverted to doing the same. I've found I can no longer sit still or focus on something for longer than a minute at most lately, spending lots of time on Facebook instead. As fun as that is, I feel a need to begin a regular practice again. 

There is much to consider, many things to think about, people to see, jobs to do. However, I would like my meditation practice to take precedence, beginning today. After all, my experience for several years was important and challenging enough to help me decide to become a minister and appreciate the wonderful experience of three years in seminary in Seattle. But somewhere along the way I changed. And I miss that other me very much.

More later.

The Cookie Lady

While volunteering at A Third Place Community Center in Turley, Oklahoma last year, I became known as "The Cookie Lady." Simple enough--every time I drove the 35 miles down there from Bartlesville, OK, I took along a supply of homemade cookies. They disappeared quickly and people started expecting them. And, who was I to disappoint such wonderful people! Of course, that's when I was living in a small house and had the use of a regular oven and even a bit of counter space. 

Remembering how much people appreciated those cookies, I started making them for the night front desk people at Parry Lodge here in Kanab, Utah. This time it's a little more difficult because the RV I'm living in doesn't have an oven nor counter space. I use the toaster oven and shuffle things around a bit in order to get enough room to make the cookies, and it works. Just takes a little patience. I've also started taking them on the nights I need to show the Western movies in the hotel coffee shop instead of in the barn, figuring since we can't have popcorn, soft drinks, or ice cream, at least people can have cookies, coffee, and ice water. After all, who ever watches a movie without something to nibble on?

The most popular ones are the Oatmeal/Raisin/Chocolate Chip cookies, followed by regular Toll House cookies. I even found a great recipe for gluten-free oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies for a friend. 

Ingredients are the key. I use real butter, fresh and unsalted, that I've found at The Dairy Store in Colorado City, AZ, a short drive through the desert on the way to Hurricane or St. George, Utah. That makes a mediocre cookie into an excellent one. We're lucky here because we can order really fresh eggs from a friend. Those also make a huge difference. And I always wonder, why bother using fake chocolate chips when real ones taste so wonderful?

Of course, it's so hard not to chow down on the cookie dough or the finished cookies. I haven't figured out a good way to handle that problem except willpower. Unfortunately, that's sometimes in short supply!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 31 Thoughts While Sitting Outside with a Glass of Bailey's Irish Cream

I'm looking at an expanse of red mud in what used to be a pretty good looking garden here in the high desert of Utah. A big thunderstorm with heavy rain last night did a better job of dirt removal and moving than even the best heavy machinery. It did a pretty good job here, making it necessary for two of us to spend quite a while cleaning things up, using, of all things in the desert, a snow shovel to clear the mud off cement patios. However, the results three miles away in Kanab itself were even worse. Streets, parking lots, and yards were covered with thick red mud. Motel swimming pools resembled the red sea. Workers were out in force trying to clean up all the mess, in some places bringing in large tanker trucks full of water for the cleanup job. Water and mud oozed its way under doors in apartments, houses, motel rooms, and stores. Not pleasant.

Here are some pictures Fran Meadows took early this morning on her way to work.

 Yesterday I bought a book by Craig Childs called The Secret Knowledge of Water. Looking through it this morning, I discovered a chapter entitled "Flood at Kanab." I've always been quite a believer in synchronicity but that was just a little too much.

While looking out at the red mountains behind us tonight, I also thought of friends and former colleagues who have spent two to three days in Phoenix, Arizona demonstrating and participating in actions against Senate Bill 1070. Many of them were Unitarian Universalist ministers and lay people, and a large number were arrested for standing up for their beliefs and for the people who will be most affected by this insane Arizona law. I'm so glad that Federal Judge Bolton rescinded the worst parts of it. However, it still took affect yesterday. One friend emailed me tonight with her experiences overnight in jail. Although I'm still not entirely convinced I'd be brave enough to get arrested, I'm leaning more and more in that direction, realizing it's more important to stand up for something I believe in than just pretend it will go away or that someone else will do something about it. I feel so proud of everyone who participated and know that if at all possible I will count myself among them next time.
Lee Marie Sanchez, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Anaheim, California, wrote this letter to her congregation about her experience in Phoenix.

Dear UUCA'ers ~

Dawn Usher and I were released from jail today
after spending about 30 hours in Joe Arapaio's
dungeon... otherwise named the Maricopa County
Jail. We were arrested after taking part in a
Civil Disobedience action at a huge intersection
outside of Arapaio's office at Cesar Chavez Park.

This experience is beyond words to describe it.
We began the morning by getting up at 2 am to
be at a prayer vigil with people who had been
praying and fasting for 104 days. We marched
to Trinity Episcopal Church for an huge interfaith
and very inspirational bilingual worship service.

Then we walked a couple more miles where we joined
with about 30 other protesters from Puente and
other local organizations but of which about half
who were Unitarian Universalists. Dawn and I had
taken hours of training the night before but nothing
could compare with what happened. We marched
in a solid square of human beings into the intersection
where we were met with police in riot gear. The
scene was like something out of a movie, with literally
thousands of supporters massed down the boulevard 
and hundreds of Phoenix police surrounding us, asking
us to move. We did not comply. The sound was really
deafening as after about a half hour of our peaceful,
but loud, chanting, singing and speaking, the police
moved in to tell us that we would be arrested.

I have to give the Phoenix police credit as they made
every effort to be polite and helpful as they unlinked
our arms and handcuffed us, taking all our valuables
and putting us into police vans.

We were taken to the the Maricopa Sheriff Jail and,
while I was given what I felt was some special attention
as I was wearing my clergy shirt and collar, I am an
older woman and I am white, not everyone was treated
this way. Some experienced rough and rude handling.

When we arrived we were taken out of the vans but
then placed back in as our UU Presient Peter Morales
and Susan Frederick-Gray, minister of the UU Church
of Phoenix, along with Puente people and other UU
ministers moved in to blocked the jail entrance. We
watched in horror as the sheriffs inside the belly of
the beast prepared in riot gear, shields at the ready,
and tear gas canisters in hand, scrambled to counter.
Everything broke loose, it was angry, crazy, chaos,
controlled by the overwhelming police force. Drums
were beating, people a movie scene.

I will tell you more about the actual jail experience
later. For now, let me tell you it was horrendous.
We occupied several cells, mostly UU's by this time,
with men in some and women in about three. We had
the lights on for 24 hours, were watched by men and
women guards constantly, no clocks, not enough of
the cinder block seating for all of us. When we tried
to sleep it was without blankets or pillows right down
on the very hard, cold floor! Yes, on the floor, but
not everyone could even lay down, some stood. 

We were joined by several women from the general
jail population, as well as Puente women. We sang,
chanted, tried to share the cramped space, used an
open-to-view toilet and were constantly moved about
from cell to cell to disorient us. Our only food was
peanut butter, oranges, packaged cookies and a little
bottle of sugary drink.. NO cups for the water in
the sink. The 2 phones usually did not work and we
had no idea what time it was or what was happening.
We were "awoken" (those few who slept) at approx
2 am for our cells to be cleaned & we moved again.

That night the UU's and Puente and others held a
prayer vigil outside the jail and we could hear the
drum beats outside the thick walls. The next day
after hours more of "processing" we were released.

I hope never to experience such an inhumane and
humiliating experience again. Dawn and I now have
a police record, we have pleaded not guilty and have
an August court date to return to AZ. More later...

I thank you all for supporting this action and the
two of us and I hope our church action was a success.
Apparently, we had lots of press, CNN, local AZ and
even the OC Register. More pictures and YouTubes will
be available soon and I'll send some of them along.

Tomorrow we need to keep collecting our gear which
was all over as we were not allowed to have ANYTHING
in the jail. There are more actions planned. Right now
as I type this Dawn & I are completely exhausted after
2 days with no sleep and a terrible jail experience, 
but our feelings of deep commitment along with the
friends we made with women of many colors & faiths
has left us with a feeling that nothing will ever again...

~ Standing on the Side of Love, feeling an overwhelming
sense of gratitude, & with more stories to tell about our
shared experiences, with love & !Si se puede! Lee Marie

Go here for all the late-breaking stuff happening now!

and here for what was in the OC Register!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


 For the past few days, I've been reading an excellent book by Paul Rogat Loeb,  Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time. It looks like I have an older copy because in searching for the Amazon webpage, I found the subtitle is now "Living with Conviction in Challenging Times." Interesting. 

Several years ago my youngest daughter gave me one of Loeb's other books, The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear. The title was more prophetic than I believe she knew at the time.

However, this blog entry won't be any kind of book review. No, I found two very meaningful quotes in Soul of a Citizen that I'd like to share. The first is from one of my favorite authors, Catholic theologian Henri Nouwen: "To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, 'I no longer hold offense against you.' But there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the 'offended one.' The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to freedom of the children of God."

The second quote is from Doris Donnelly: "Without forgiveness, hurts grow unchecked and we recycle failures, resentments, bitterness, and mistrust in our lives. With forgiveness, hurts are acknowledged and healed, and we are able to break a mindless cycle of retaliation by saying that the decisions of human life, even when they turn out badly are not beyond repair."

Strong stuff - and particularly meaningful for me at this time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I've been having thoughts about water today.
It's been very hot here in Kanab, Utah for about a month now, up into the mid- and high 90s. However, the humidity is low so it's almost bearable with enough air conditioning---and cold drinks. 
Marcie and Jim never go anywhere without a large supply of bottled water in the back of their car. They pass it out to anyone who needs it or would like it.
Other places, such as parts of Oklahoma, aren't so lucky. There the heat index, a combination of high temperatures and high humidity, is around 116 degrees today. Some people have air conditioned vehicles, work places, and homes, while many others have to do without. 
Ron Robinson in Turley, Oklahoma  writes "...extreme Heat Alert so we have turned A Third Place Community Center into a Cooling Station. Free Water, AC, and all our other services--food pantry, clothing, computers, TV, library, etc. Now off to see about setting up water station at the main bus stops here that have no shelter from elements. If you can drop off ice or water or lemonade, etc. much appreciated." Ron also pointed out that, as a heart patient, he has a car with A/C, cold juice and water available, A/C at the center and at home, but not all heart patients, especially in that area where life expectancy is significantly reduced, have access to those things.
Crystal Cheryl in Okmulgee, Oklahoma "...took some iced tea out to the city tree trimmers working in this heat -- sweet, lots of ice -- on a tray with real glasses. They [the workers] were resting in the shade on my back lawn and their faces lit up with big smiles when I came out with the cold drinks. Boy, did that make my day! Living in the blisssssss .... ♥ I think Ron inspired me. And I actually had to wrestle with myself. Had only a little ice made, and only half a pitcher of tea that I had just made -- was tempted to keep the tasty treat for myself. Such silly inner struggles with selfishness."
In the deserts of San Diego County in California, hundreds of people attempt to cross the border from Mexico for various reasons. They find hostility that extends to laws prohibiting others from providing food or water.
In March, before leaving for Utah for seven months, I volunteered for part of a day with Water Station, a group in San Diego County that places and regularly replenishes supplies of water at about 200 spots around the desert and other places people cross during blistering  summer heat. Many of those sites can only be reached by high clearance 4WD vehicles. No matter what your stand about illegal immigrants, they cannot die for lack of water.

 Do you know individuals or groups who freely and unselfishly provide water and cold drinks to others with no requirements or fanfare? Please tell about them in the Comments section here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Perfect Day

Just a few evening observations after a very hot, windy day in Kanab, Utah. I've been sitting outside watching the sun set, enjoying a fairly large glass of Bailey's Irish Cream, savoring the creamy taste. The wind has died down just enough to make it very pleasant to watch the gentle rustling of the cottonwood trees. My Earth Day flag blows sideways in the breeze. The temperature is just about perfect-not too hot, just right. I read a little from a library book, Miriam's Kitchen, by Elizabeth Ehrlich about her growing understanding about the importance of preserving her Jewish roots. I think about all the shopping bags I've finished in the past few weeks, all of them now hanging in the front of my RV, awaiting new owners. I treasure all of the plants now doing well in our impossible garden in the high desert of Utah, composed of red, sandy dirt. Nothing except cactus would grow without copious quantities of purchased garden soil in large, black plastic pots. However, with daily early-morning watering, all the tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, lemon cucumbers, Swiss chard, radishes, Kentucky Wonder beans, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, and zucchini are thriving. Petunias of all colors: purple and white striped, white, pink, and purple show off in baskets. Tiny Portulaca flowers spring out from small aluminum and pewter containers. Hummingbirds and orioles drink enough nectar to make daily refilling of their feeders a necessity. Part of a day was spent in Hurricane doing needed shopping with good friends and their dog.

Life is definitely good.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Garden Magic in Kanab, Utah - Phase 3

I need to get things ready to sell at the Farmer's/Craft Market tomorrow morning so for now will just post some pictures I took of our garden this morning. 

This is really an adventure and I think things are growing quite well, considering first the freezing weather, the constant high winds, and now temperatures in the high 90s for over a week.

In a nutshell, we've transplanted several cacti found in the hills: some grew, some didn't. We bought plants and good organic planting soil to make up for the rocky, hard, poor soil here and so far it's working well, either alone of mixed with the red sandy soil here. 

Everything else we've bought for next to nothing at garage sales and thrift stores as well as found free. The birdbath bowl cost $1.00, and we found the stand in a pile of junque at the side of the road. Jim built the structure in front of the twig fence to hid the hose.

This is definitely a labor of love as well as a work in progress.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Geezers Gone Wild

Geezers Gone Wild

Okay, I admit it: I really like this one for some reason, especially the many comments. It reminds me of my mother who, at age 82, bought a sporty, bright red car because it was "calling" to her. Not only that, but she asked me to find her some red sunglasses with rhinestones to wear while driving it. And she's driven that car ever since. Who knows, maybe my "wildness" was buying the RV and pickup and selling/giving away everything else, living in that small RV, heading to places I've never been before, and working at jobs usually considered the domain of much younger people. 

No, I'll never drive that big ol' Harley or piss along the side of the road. But I think the point is to be able choose your own "wildness" and not rely on someone' else's opinion of what a person of "advanced age" should do. The rocking chair can come later, if at all.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Mellowness of the Day

I was going to write Phase 3 of our garden saga. However, after spending the morning sewing in the clubhouse, making items for the Farmer's Market/Craft Market, I felt the need to mellow out a little. It's been a busy few days and was time to take a little time out. After some delicious French toast for brunch with Marcie and Jim, using the very fresh eggs from Koni's chickens, I braved the ever-constant (or so it seems lately) strong wind and headed to my rig to read and listen to music before work in the barn tonight.

Right now I've got some George Winston piano music playing in the background while reading People with Dirty Hands: The Passion for Gardening, a book Marcie picked up at one of the yard sales last weekend. From the frontpiece: "Why do some people have their hands in dirt? What caused someone to become obsessed with the process of growing something, whether it is a tangle of flowers, chiles hot enough to make your eyes water, or a rambling rose plucked from a tumble-down house? Author Robin Chotzinoff took a road trip (several, actually) across America to find the answers."

It's the perfect book for a windy, mellow day, especially since I can look out over our own burgeoning garden plot while reading and listening. I can watch the cottonwood trees sway and bend in the wind, the hummingbirds and orioles argue for space at the feeders, and the flowers and herbs grow inch by inch as the ground gets warmer. And I can view all the tomato, cucumber, and pepper plants we've stuck into good soil in pots and hope they'll produce some delicious feasts. I can watch the tiny radish seedlings emerge between the chard plants, three weeks later than they should have emerged. However, the weather has just been too cold.

Yes, it's a beautiful, mellow day, one to take advantage of before hosting the movie, "Cattle Drive" in the barn tonight. Last night everyone applauded at the end of "Fort Dobbs." That's always a good sign they enjoyed themselves and the movie.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gardening Frustrations

Marcie commented in my earlier blog, Garden Magic In Kanab, Utah - Phase 2  that I hadn't mentioned the frustrations we've had with the weather lately. Here it is the end of May and we still need to watch the weather forecasts closely in order to keep plants alive.  Just last night we were supposed to get rain and snow showers. People who live here year-round have all said the same thing: this is definitely not a normal spring. One woman told me tonight that the temperature is usually in the 80s by now. I've bought plants several times and tried to keep them alive. Alas,  no luck. They seem to commit suicide regularly without fail.

I've been spoiled by spending many, many years gardening in Oregon. There, all I had to do was stick something in the ground--plant, seed, stick--and it would grow, lushly and lustily. It didn't matter what it was - raspberry canes, snap peas, broccoli, tomatoes, fruit trees, tomatillos - everything grew. But here, in the high desert, it's a whole other story. Very frustrating.

But, rather than mope around about the weather and gardening mishaps, I googled to see what others have written about the relation between plants, people,  and weather conditions. Hope you enjoy these.  At least they've gotten my mind off dead plants for a while.
My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view.  ~H. Fred Dale

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.  ~Mirabel Osler

In gardens, beauty is a by-product.  The main business is sex and death.  ~Sam Llewelyn

Weather means more when you have a garden.  There's nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.  ~Marcelene Cox

Plant carrots in January and you'll never have to eat carrots.  ~Author Unknown

Last night, there came a frost, which has done great damage to my garden.... It is sad that Nature will play such tricks on us poor mortals, inviting us with sunny smiles to confide in her, and then, when we are entirely within her power, striking us to the heart.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The American Notebooks

Despite the gardener's best intentions, Nature will improvise.  ~Michael P. Garafalo,

There is no gardening without humility.  Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder.  ~Alfred Aust
In the meantime, we have high hopes for these latest plantings of tomatoes, peppers, lavender, and cucumbers. Fingers, toes, and eyes are all crossed in hopes that these plants will survive to adulthood.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Garden Magic in Kanab, Utah - Phase 2

When I left off at the end of the first phase, we'd just gotten started turning this 40' X 40' bare piece of desert dirt into a garden. I'd tried growing some things but the weather decided it just wasn't time to do that yet. This is why. No, it wasn't a heavy snowfall, but it snowed off and on for about three weeks, and with that snow came some below freezing temperatures. So, planting would have to wait. 

While waiting, I decided to make an addition to this first path. There was still a little mulch left and even several long branches. Some of them had been burned but no problem. I placed them so we wouldn't get black legs from running into them. And, several large rocks also helped. This view is from the rear of the garden, looking toward my rig and pickup, with Marcie and Jim's motorhome at the right.

Next on the garden agenda was building a raised bed. I found some lumber in one of the stacks near the front entrance and screwed them together. In order to keep from going completely broke buying garden soil, I shoveled and hauled many buckets of red dirt from behind us. Apparently someone last year planned to use that area as a garden but never did. Of course, I still had to buy some good soil because while the red dirt MIGHT grow cactus and sagebrush, it wouldn't work for tomatoes. Since the weather seemed to be warming up, I actually planted a few jalapeƱo plants. They did really well---until the NEXT frost. Well, goodbye peppers.

Since a really strong windstorm had completely demolished the first fence, it was time to rebuild it. This time I sunk about eight large limbs into the ground about a foot or so. Digging wasn't too bad AFTER I got past all the rocks. I then wired a length of chicken wire to the branches. Barring a hurricane or tornado, there's no way this fence will blow over. Marcie and Jim attached the rest of the branches to the fence foundation with plastic strapping, and we decorated the resulting fence with small ornaments and birdhouses. The rowboat got a new home on the opposite side of the fence, along with the whirly thing. In the foreground is a cactus that I dug and transplanted. It's doing VERY well.

The trees are now green and beautiful. 

For a while we hung the hummingbird feeders on branches. However, I found something even better for the little birds. Here's our "red" tree. I've seen as many as six hummingbirds at one or the other feeders, as well as some bright yellow orioles. It's fun to watch the bird wars when the male orioles chase away the hummers. The female orioles are very laid back and everyone co-exists nicely. But, those males seem to want it all to themselves. Of course, we've needed to refill the feeders about every other day.
Since it was still too early to plant veggies or flowers, we haunted thrift stores and garage sales for fence decorations. Here are a few of our early finds.

We also found a pair of child's boots for under one of the trees. Maybe it's our beginning of Boot Hill.

The end of Phase 2 found us with the basic bones of the garden, and getting really anxious to plant things.