Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Blessed Event

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be writing about whether or not I actually made it to Baja this spring, and I was, I really was! Yesterday morning I was inspired anew, wrote quite a bit, and had planned to finish the post in the evening, after my Little Miss Muffet lunch of curds and whey*.  But I was unfairly railroaded. By this:

If you've been paying close attention, you'll know that this summer, in additional to my usual opera flutist duties, I'm moonlighting here.  But what may not be apparent is that the cow in the idyllic alpine photo above is in labor.  It was supposed to be cold and rainy last night (it was!) with up to a foot of snow in the mountains.  Good thing I took my mountain ride a few days ago, because even then, it looked like this:

And just a few weeks ago, the calf barn looked like this:

Dawn. Time to milk the cows. In the.... SNOW?

But I digress.  Point being, it sure would be nice for Clara's sake if she were to bring a calf into this world under a roof.  Thankfully, we had just that sort of place in mind for her. And we got her there without a minute to spare!

Because only moments later, a tiny cloven hoof began to emerge. And then another. And then the startled face of a being leaving one world and entering the next.

Welcome, Little One!

Oh, auspicious day! It's a heifer**!  Clara tended to her charge like only an experienced mama would, cooing in her gentle bovine way throughout the process.

Good job, Clara!

We decided to give mama and calf some quiet time. Besides, we needed to fetch some basic necessities for these two for the night. After all that, Clara must be hungry and thirsty.  When we returned there was a surprise waiting for us...


*Not even kidding.  Leftover cheese curds + salt + pepper + garlic scapes + drizzle of olive oil = the lunch of cheese apprentice champions. They are especially satisfying after spending the entire morning, stomach growling, stirring those curds. These are the sorts of things cheese apprentices do. And eat.  And? The next day, once the curds have knit together, you can slice the loaf, fry the slice, and top it with roasted garlic scape pesto and roasted cherry tomatoes. Yep. You can.
**That's code for more milk. Which is code for more cheese!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Baja Prelude: Third Time's the Charm?

I really didn't think I'd be going to Baja this week. I mean, it's been on the calendar for months, and I've caught myself saying things like, "Yeah, I think I'm riding to Baja sometime in April," and I even hung up the maps and turned down work to keep the dates open. But I really didn't think I'd be going. For starters, I'm a bit queasy about crossing the U.S. border these days. Even back in 2015, during my border-to-border Return Migration (still only a draft-dream, as far as posts go), I had a headache doing so. Detained for no reason what-so-ever. Held in a small room by my own countrymen*. And Pilot Guy, in no uncertain terms, was given no other option but to pass through without me and wait. For what? For how long? All's well that ends well, but... I have no interest in experiencing that again.

My Baja motorcycling track record is not a good one**.  You know about my first try.  Round about November, 2015, I heard from Adrian. "I'm ready to try again. You in?" My response sizzled with excitable electrons over the wire. "I'm in."  April 2016 was blocked off the calendar.  In pen. We're in! Li'l Burro was fully refreshed and ready to go.  All wheels were in motion.  But mom got sick, so, I was, of course, out. Adrian, stout soul, went on his own, and has made at least two additional trips since then.

Fast forward to 2017 and the calendar was blocked out again. In pencil.  This week my dog pretended to have lymphoma (she doesn't), and Li'l Burro, in all his good humor, pretended to be broken (he isn't).  Like I said.  I really didn't think I'd be going***.

Miraculously, there is a heap of gear in my dining room, an array of devices charging in the next room, and a Yamaha**** out back, waiting, ever patiently, to be packed. Maybe I'll check the oil. And the tires, even. Third time's the charm?

Wish us well.

Since I haven't posted an actual photo of a motorcycle in... forever, here's one from Li'l Burro's 2016 Pre-Baja Check Ride.

 *Global Entry status not withstanding, even! Harrumph.
**My Baja by Little Aeroplane record is substantially better.
***Oh great. I've just been informed "five planets are in retrograde." That's bad, right? Carry on.
****New speedo gear and larger gas tank, even!

Saturday, March 18, 2017


When you open the hangar door to reveal a veritable and volatile pond beneath your aeroplane, well... it makes for the quickest pre-flight ever.   There goes 80 gallons of 100LL*. Can I just say, it's not always the Ducati that breaks down?

AvGas evaporates pretty quickly in these parts.

Day off! Let's go to Yuma! (??) There was a bit of sense to the plan. Pilot guy's friend is out there for an airshow, helping manage the smoke generators. You know, the letters in the sky? That smoke. Turns out, Pilot Guy helped design the system, based on GPS clocks, some years ago. Why not? And? There's a motocross demo to be seen!

As is the case with motorcycles, some days involving aeroplanes don't always go as planned.

The task of the day was more along the lines of siphoning 50 or 60 gallons out of the wings (who doesn't love the taste of AvGas first thing in the morning?), rather than any diagnostics. But on first glance it appears the left wing and the fuel selector valve are both leaking. Go big or go home!  (AvGas is blue, by the way.)

So we went out to eat, instead.

We've always been curious about the airport convenient, Flamingo bedazzled Sunny Daze Cafe. The  posole was pretty good!

This Sunny Daze flamingo didn't survive pre-flight, either, it seems.

And so, instead of presenting you with a photo of a motorcycle leaping through the air, here is a photo of a... horse. Because that's just kind of how the day went.**

Tucson Dressage Horse Show
Might as well, right?

*That's aviation fuel, to you and me. And about $500.
**We swung by Arizona Zipline Adventures, too, with the hopes of making today an even stranger collection of activities, but they were booked. It's a fun looking place! I'll be back. On a motorcycle.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Hope for 2017

They said it couldn't happen. Wouldn't happen. Until it did. One day, a tiny gray bird named Lucy unexpectedly made her nest in a decorative little bird house in one lucky Tucsonan's yard.  Despite her declining habitat, Lucy had, until then, steadfastly refused to rear her young in nest boxes. Lucy prefers the holes and crevices found in trees - mesquites, thank you very much - especially those of the dense stands found in riparian areas. Make no mistake: it's just these types of areas and trees that are in rapid decline.  Poor Lucy.  Consider her the next time you are tempted to buy mesquite charcoal.

Truth be told, I've become a little bit of a "crazy bird lady" recently.  I thought it was prompted by my having to cut down my old chinaberry tree/starling apartment complex this fall (both invasive, for what it's worth), but Pilot Guy reminded me of this strange day, and the haunting dream I had about both my mother and the yellow bird months later. No matter the reason, I've enjoyed watching, listening to - I'm a flutist, after all! - and photographing birds ever since.  (Here's a haphazard selection of some of my early attempts.)

So today, the Ducati and I - noses high in the air, inhaling the orange blossom and sweet acacia scented morning breezes - headed east, to volunteer for the Tucson Audubon Society's nest box project.  Our task? Install 100 nest box "replicates" to aid in determining just what sort of box, with what sort of height, and/or orientation, Miss Lucy might, if we're lucky, decide to patronize.

The boxes are almost as light and delicate as Miss Lucy herself. Until you try to push a wheelbarrow with 50 of them (and your lunch) through deep sand under an uncharacteristically hot March sun, that is.

Ducati No-Fly Zone (Yes, this is a river.  A desert river.)

Two teams installed, in random order, five different types of boxes in each of 20 sites, recording their GPS coordinates, height, arrangement, and orientation along the way.

Which one will Lucy prefer? I'll ride out for Audubon from time to time this spring, in an attempt to answer that very question.

The five "replicates," installed just in time. The migrating Lucy's Warblers are beginning to arrive in Tucson this very week.  (The first photo in this post is an extra credit box in the mesquite in my back yard. I'm hope, hope, hoping...)

The installation site is delightfully close to the base of Mount Lemmon, but my reward run up the mountain was slower than Sunday. The ascending traffic, a long snaking line of cars so slow it was nearly outpaced by the sweating, panting bicyclists, left me wondering if today was a holiday.  The smart rider stops for a sandwich constructed of Bosnian leftovers and enjoys the view.

Windy Point, Mount Lemmon

The return trip? I may have done a little - just a little - flying myself.

With our nation poised to leap backwards into an abyss of ecological apathy, if not downright assault, consider volunteering an hour, making a choice, planting a plant, or writing a check for a bird, bee, or tree near you.

April 24, 2017 Update!
I've checked the boxes twice, with no sign of activity, (I'm going back again tomorrow), and I don't know what other volunteers have seen (or not seen) at the other two sites, BUT...
I have a friend with a decorative bird house in her tree. Guess who moved in?

Photo courtesy of FastWinn Photography

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Things I Love

Is there anyone who doesn't love these things*?
 *Not Shown: "Free Speech," "Twisty Roads," "Transparency," "Education," "Facts," "Heath Care," "The Great American West," "Clean Elections"

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Neither Zen Nor Art

My mother died, so the motorcycle didn't make it to Utah*, so I thought I'd do some things I usually don't because I'm busy motorcycling instead. So I'm planning a maybe backpacking expedition to King's Peak (3 days, 30 miles) and I need granola, so I pick some cherries and dry them, but I need some butter, too, so I have to spend three hours fixing my bicycle to get the butter, and then the chain gets jammed up anyway on the way to the store, and I never get the butter (way better than oil, by the way), but -look!- there's one of my favorite brilliant yellow birds**, dead in the middle of the road, and suddenly I turn back; I must carry the dead bird home in my bicycle basket (what am I, eight years old?), and it makes me cry and cry and...see?  This is why I hate fixing motorcycles*.  The End
*This really does all make sense.
**Yellow Warbler? Wilson's Warbler? I'm not sure.

Granola tips: Use whatever bits and pieces you like, but instead of plain oil, used browned butter or coconut or olive oil,  and instead of honey/sugar/agave syrup/whatever, use maple syrup. Put in the dried fruit after baking. Cook it low and slow, turning it over often.  If you want it "clustery," grind up some of your oats and coconut into flour and let your final mix sit for a few minutes before baking it. Then pinch it together into clumps before baking.  (See here for the method, but I think this recipe itself is too sweet.) Mom, however, in her final weeks, had a sweet tooth that never would have been obliged in earlier days. She requested I pour caramel all over her granola when I made it for her this spring.  She remarked candied orange peel would make a lovely addition, and she was absolutely right.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Coffee Break

The last few months of my life have been spent not on a motorcycle, but on the commercial airlines. Something along the lines of AZ-FL-AZ-FL-AZ-CA-AK-FL-UT-FL-UT-AZ-UT.

Except for the trip to Alaska (miraculously not cancelled, whereas the repeat ride to Baja was cancelled and, by the way, hooray for Adrian* for making the ride with out me), these journeys have been filled with heartache and loss.  And in saying that, I'm not talking about the time American Airlines delivered me to the wrong city on the wrong day, or the times they charged me twice for the same checked bag.

As I sit waiting for the final leg of this reluctant game of hopscotch to end, I take more than a little pleasure in a coffee done right.

I admit, Cartel Coffee Lab hasn't been my absolutely favorite coffee in AZ, (Why does their downtown Phoenix location seem perpetually closed, anyway?), but they've just won me over for life. I could almost forget I'm sitting in a airport. Thank you.

This one's for you, Mom. 

So much to love:
The caffé macchiato is actually a caffé macchiato.
The caffé macchiato is served in a real glass.
The caffé macchiato is served with the appropriate glass of water.  I didn't even have to ask for it.
The olive oil muffin is not only delicious, with its crispy sweet sugar crusted top and golden rich interior, but is not the size of a truck.

*Yes, you've met Adrian. How could you forget?