Welcome to my World

Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One for a lucky dog!

I just saw this on Yahoo and had to share. This poor pup is Husky and Shepherd (I assume German variety from his looks) which are two of my favorite breeds and he seems like one tough little guy as well as lucky. He's recovering from a near tragic and fatal  accident and they've got most of his vet bills covered but I agree that those rescue folks who went way out of their way to get him out of a bad spot and to safety definitely deserve a reward. Check this article out and kick in a little bit if you can. It will be good karma for sure. And hang on hard to those leashes when you go out walking with a canine friend. I know I do.

Here's the link to the article: http://news.yahoo.com/dog-cliff-oregon-rescue-save-kenny-171144105.html

Friday, October 17, 2014

The treasure of Friends

A week ago this evening I arrived in Tucson and spent a day and two nights with a dear friend who is currently in remission and maybe--hope and pray--cured of lymphoma. Hearing, while I was in Alaska, about her illness, I had vowed I would get over to Tucson where she now lives to visit, and that came about last week.

I first met Melinda (Melinda Rucker Haynes who is an author, a licensed and trained hypnotist and a multi-talented lady indeed) at an RWA conference many years ago. If memory serves it was probably the one in Anaheim, CA in 1998 but I could be wrong. When I found out she was originally also an Arizona girl, an instant bond began. We both cringe at the modern term "monsoon" for the desert summer rainy season and even know some people in common. From then on, we met at various RWA and RT events but it was always just to grab a few minutes to chat before we had to run off to this workshop or that panel or whatever. It was such a treat to be able to sit and talk non-stop for hours! We came away from this feeling we knew each other much better and just had a marvelous time!

She has lived in Seattle and in Arlington, VA the years we have been acquainted so I am glad she's back in Arizona and thus only about a six hour drive for me. I met her husband, also, and he was as much fun to talk with as she! I do enjoy people who can converse about almost anything with verve, reasonable knowledge and an open mind! So that made for a great visit. Here's a shot I took the morning I was leaving of them at their lovely Oro Valley home.

I also got to see my granddaughter and her two young kids, who are growing so fast I can barely keep up. I've very proud of Julie who is a single mom but handles it with grace and courage and so far is doing a fine job with her two youngsters. She's a credit to the family as are they and it is really neat to feel you can be friends with kinfolk that way!

I also saw another friend from my Cochise County days. Mary Frances Clinton, with whom I enjoyed lunch as I heard about her adventures with a kind of elder hostel group that operates out of Cochise College. She's met some interesting folks, even a couple of gentlemen who have caught her eye and ear. Never married, she has gone through a great deal over the years and struggled with bad baggage from the past, just as many of us seem to. She'd become almost agoraphobic so it is great to see her getting out and enjoying activities with others. I'm so happy for her. We met through the Sierra Vista "Sisters in Crime" chapter that we both attended for a time.

In between my visits I got in some train watching since the UP mainline parallels the highway most of the way from west of Las Cruces clear to Tucson. I did not get a shot to rival my old Stein's Pass one from two years back but did snap a "meet" at the Mescal, AZ crossing. In railroader terms that is a sighting of two trains passing on parallel tracks and hopefully having a chance to get a photo of it. In mine you can see the 'pusher' or following locomotive of one train and the leading two units or locos of the other. Pure luck, that.  Many modern trains now use what is called distributed power with lead locomotives and others in the middle or the end of the train. It seems to work better in most freight applications.

In a way trains are 'friends' too since I have been a railroad fan for many years and still enjoy watching them. A chance to take a few photos is a bonus. All in all, it was a great trip. I got home Monday afternoon, tired but well pleased with the trip. An added bonus, I found that my old house in Whetstone (Huachuca City mail address) has been bought and is getting fixed up and clearly loved by some new owners. Hurrah! I hated to see it empty and abandoned. Cherry on the sundae that!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Summer storms and me

I've neglected the ongoing chats about my life and the desert southwest lately but I'll see if I cannot do better now. Life is settling back to a routine after the summer's adventure and while I am working on the next chapter of that epic, there is much else to recall, think about and share. So today, the topic is summer storms--with pictures!

I think I have had a love-hate relationship with water all my life. To this day I cannot swim and although I treasure water since I'm a denizen of a very arid land, I also fear it, especially in large amounts and violent motion! As I have said, my memories begin in the old mining town of Jerome, Arizona which perched on rusty-dusty hills above the Verde Valley on the west side. I really do not recall much about storms there but vaguely that it did snow in the winter, that leaking water from the large tanks adjacent to our home froze on the fence at times and that the last summer we lived there, 1953, a summer downpour and resulting flood devastated a good part of the town.

Where we lived on Sunshine Hill, a separate ridge and peal north and east of the main town, we were above all that. It was on the main red hill where old Jerome was built, Cleopatra Mountain, that torrents of water poured down over and into the town. The damage was pretty frightful. Here is one shot Dad took of me looking at the mess. As I recall this was near the main street, a switchback or two above the Post Office and the service station which still exist on the squiggly main street, also Highway 89A, which goes from Flagstaff to Prescott through the Verde.

That and the decline of the town's infrastructure after Phelps Dodge ceased their mining operation there in 1951-52 resulted in our move down to Clarkdale which took place that fall. Not long after that, the first equines joined the family and I gradually assumed more and more of their care and maintenance. We lived in the lower town area and south of that ran an arroyo which drained some of the hills below Jerome and also received water once or twice a week when they drained the town swimming pool up behind the Clark Memorial Clubhouse which then housed the library, meeting rooms, an auditorium etc. So, when you had corrals to clean and animals to feed, rain was both welcome and a dratted nuisance!

I began to pay a lot more attention to the weather, especially the summer rains and the resulting flash floods that came surging down through the canyons. Here is a picture of brother Charlie in the bottom of that arroyo, only a matter of yards from the corrals housing some of our animals. That huge hole had been created where a rough dirt road had crossed this small canyon and exemplifies what rushing water can do.

In the summer of 1964, which was especially wet with some very heavy downpour type rains, a railroad bridge across Bitter Creek Canyon which ran between the main part of Clarkdale and the then-idle PD smelter facility to the north, was washed out twice. The large cement bases for the timber pillars supporting the bridge were washed out or so badly eroded on their foundations that they collapsed. And a major impact on my life was the indirect result for a Santa Fe B&B (Bridge and Building) Crew came to town to repair that bridge and we--brother and I--made the acquaintance of some of its members. But that is another story for another time. Here is another photo of some of the damage--not sure whether the first or second washout, probably the second since the heaped dirt and gravel was probably meant to provide protection for the first repair.

To be continued!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October's Bright Blue Weather

That phrase has always resonated with me because it is so evocative and fits the best time of year in the southwest so well. If I ever knew who coined it, I had forgotten so I checked. It's wonderful what you can find on the internet. I learned it is the title and a refrain of sorts in a poem written by Helen Hunt Jackson, best know as the author of the novel Ramona. She lived in southern California many decades ago before smog and cities and crowds so I expect the weather was much like I now enjoy in Arizona and New Mexico. Here is the first stanza:

“October’s Bright Blue Weather”
SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather;

And that is now upon us here at last. The latter part of the summer was very, very wet. One might even say soggy! July was the wettest month in central New Mexico up around Albuquerque but it rained the weekend I left for Alaska and quite a bit while I was gone and was much gray and damp after I got home. Hurricane Odile laid a swath of moisture heavily across much of the southwest and we got our share. Roof leaks and so on.... Too much of a good thing. But the weather can change literally overnight and change it did, on Tuesday to be exact and now it is clear and dry, the sky again that proverbial bright blue and the autumn flowers decorating the desert after all that rain. Not always good for allergies but lovely to behold if your eyes are working. Mine are back to fairly normal today; I think my ocular allergies may be due to molds. 

Anyway I took the red dogs walking and enjoyed the 'sneeze weeds' as well as the white, magenta and purple flowers, many of which I shared photos of last year. Maybe I will take a camera along the next day or two butt there is not much new to share, really. But it is nice to see even the cactus leaves plump and green, well watered for now.

The next few weeks should be wonderful to get out and enjoy. I'm hoping to make a trip to Arizona in a week or two and see some dear friends there that I miss greatly and I expect it will be very green there until the first frost and flowery as well. And on that trip perhaps I will take pictures. 

My skin already feels the absence of moisture and its back to the lotions and potions to forestall the lizard hide effect as much as I can! But I will tolerate that for the cooler evenings and daybreaks and the glow and beauty of my favorite early fall time. It's a good time to be alive and living where I do!

Here are a couple of rather iconic fall scenes; Alamogordo's balloon festival is earlier than Albuquerque's internationally famed one which begins this Friday and is supped to be terrific weather for it. The other is a few miles to the north and the grass will be green now not gray as this was in the late winter but the blue sky is the same!