Archive - Feb 2013


February 17th

Another day in paradise

Yesterday was one of those sterling Arizona days that makes you wonder why a person would spend winter anywhere else. Mid-70s. Slight breeze. Sunny. I sat in the back yard and watched the golfers while editing. Then I went on a slow walk down the wash and listened to all the different birds. Migration must be starting, as there are new songs every day. Somebody set up a bench under a mesquite tree in the wash, so I sat in the shade. Then went for a run. 

A perfect day.

The trip home for the blizzard made me doubly appreciative of the weather here. If you don't see and feel the alternative every now and then, you can get jaded by the monotony of endless perfect days.

Fifteen major league baseball teams are training in the Phoenix area this winter. I could drive to one of the complexes and watch baseball drills instead of sitting in the back yard and watching golfers. However, the nearest complex is 29 miles away, so that will require some planning.

On Friday evening, Lance and I picked up cousin Tina and went to a party celebrating the beginning of spring training. The host, a big St. Louis Cardinals fan, has two rooms in his house devoted to baseball memorabilia. I was reminded that the Cardinals have won the World Series 14 times in their existence. Below is a small sample: 


February 16th

National Geographic in the Bakken

This is the single most informative article I have read on the Bakken oil boom in the past few months. I am always thankful for the continued excellence of the National Geographic. 

Fertile shop teacher

I suspect the Herald's Ryan Bakken and Eric Hylden enjoyed reporting this story more than is journalistically proper. Get back to the city hall beat, boys! Look at the picture. My goodness. A pink welding helmet? C'mon. 

Van Halen comes to mind. 

February 14th

Back to AZ

As I drove towards Fargo last night, the weather worsened. Freezing rain, sleet, whatever you call it. Slick roads. Huge snowbanks. Just the stuff you stay in Arizona to avoid.

However, the people at the airport weren't even worried. With a slight delay for de-icing, the plane took off as planned and within three hours I was back in snow-free country.

This morning dawned clear and beautiful, with birds singing.

The trip home was good. I got to visit Aunt Olla twice. She is in such good spirits and looks great. I also got to spend a few hours playing the family game, Boggle. 

Joe's wife Kae is the life of the party, importing Thai cheer to the farm place where we can get preoccupied with the drear. She is the instigator for Boggle, even though she is just learning English. She tries out words and gleefully reports her score at the end of almost every round: Egg! Either for goose egg (zero), or for the shape a zero makes when you circle it, denoting your final score--it looks like a fried egg. It is difficult not to have fun when Kae is around.

While Lance and I are in AZ, sister Tracie is using the house for a massage studio. I got worked over yesterday. Well, worked over is the wrong term as Tracie is a practitioner of a more subtle form of massage called cranial sacral therapy. She worked on my brain yesterday. It certainly needs it. She got at my brain by putting on a glove and pressing against the roof of my mouth until she found the right spot and thunk! I was out.  

While I was home, we also had a delightful house guest, Megan, who is a sister to a friend of Lance's. She is a student and was spending a week at the Fertile Hilton job shadowing. They put her to use right away, so when she'd get back to the house, thunk! out she went on the couch. 

Sometimes it is good to have a house full. 

Meanwhile, Lance stayed back in Phoenix where he has been exploring the metropolis, finding the neighborhoods of Tempe much to his liking. 

I am inclined to start exploring the spring training complexes of some of the 15 teams who train here. What a menu of options!

In any case, the trip home to snowbanks and cold really woke me up to how good things are in February in Arizona. Wow. 

February 12th

Home for the storm

I came home Friday night in order to attend a Bush Foundation retreat which is a required part of my Bush Fellowship--only to have the weather intervene and prevent my driving to St. Paul. So, I have been a part of this storm which dumped on us Sunday and early yesterday.

I went in to visit Aunt Olive today. She's doing very well. Looks great. Emil, the Hilton's maintainance director, set Olla up with a big reader so she could read books and the newspaper more easily, but she has no interested. "I live on memories," she said. Television doesn't interest her any more, either. She sits in her chair and enjoys it thoroughly. I think she enjoys paging through her lifetime of adventures. 

When I am down in Arizona, I get all ambitious to get home and start on projects. Flying home for a weekend disavowed me of that notion. As soon as I returned, my energy level declined and all I wanted to do was sleep. Wow. No projects forthcoming. So, I look forward to flying back to AZ tomorrow and getting busy again. In fact, I think I will take my laptop to spring training and work.

From November through two weeks ago, I kept up a pace of writing 1,000 words per day for 65 consecutive days. At that point, I ran out of material, so I called it a book. Now I have to edit the thing and make sure it makes sense. That is turning out to be quite a task. I haven't really delved into it yet, but that will be my goal when I return to AZ. 

I will relish every moment of the warmth after getting my dose of winter. 





February 7th


I have been trying to upload pictures, but without luck.

On Tuesday, neighbor Rob from back home took me on a 4-wheeler trek. Two other parties met us at the staging area south of here near Florence, and we took off through the desert towards the mountains.

First surprise: You have to wear a facemask or a bandana to keep from breathing the dust. Why? In the dust is the fungus which causes Valley Fever, a disease you do not want. 

Okay, so I wore a bandana!

I also should have worn one on my head as I couldn't wear a cap, due to the speeds, and my balding head got a little burned with the sunshine.

Rob is an expert driver. The Polaris side-by-side 4-wheeler was amazing. Its suspension allowed us to roar over crevices, embedded boulders, bumps, ravines, the works. I had a handle to hang on to, much like I was steering, which gave me the illusion of control.

We put on 60 miles. We climbed right to the top of some small mountains, then dove down to the canyons, and then back up to the top, and so on. Most of the day I was hanging on to the handlebars quite tight.

I didn't say anything, but I got woozy before lunch. Carsick woozy. I knew all I had to do was eat, and when we ate, I felt better and was okay for the rest of the day. 

On the very primitive trails were dozens of other 4-wheelers, all manned by snowbirds. Then there were Jeeps bouncing up and town the mountainsides. One caravan had 9 vehicles. Three or four had one driver! I guess the fun is in the driving, not the passengering. But I enjoyed being a passenger.

The network of trails is impossibly complex. Every quarter of a mile, you have to make a choice. Rob, who was in the lead of our caravan of three, has spent the past 11 years learning the trails, so he went forward with confidence and knew just where to turn. Or at least, he never showed doubt!

Now I can say I have gone 4-wheeling in the back country.  

February 4th

Saguaro skeleton

saguaro skeleton.jpg 

Underneath the flesh of a saguaro is a beautiful, woody skeleton. Notice the green sprouts of grass and other plants. The desert is turning green due to recent rains. I suspect at some time in the next couple of months, the wild flowers will be in full bloom. I would love to be here for the event, but it is impossible to predict the exact time of bloom.