Sunday, July 31, 2011

Adjustments & Observations

 There have been a couple of slow moving days this week, between the high humidity and general malaise associated with high humidity using me for a fence post, haven't felt like purging my mind on this particular endeavor. 
 However, the wheels of life grind on and a couple of trips were necessary to assist my friends at the Portal Store and Cafe'. Living on the side of a mountain sounds romantic and perhaps rustic, and it is, but when you are in need of most anything be prepared to travel a bit to get it. the closest gas station is 30 miles away, personal services such as dentists, dr's, etc. a good deal farther than that. Groceries and whatnot require at least a trip to Douglas, AZ and that's close to 70 miles in one direction. You try not to run out of anything if you can help it. Having said that, we ran short of several items and using that as a reason for going(I had run short of a few myself) I saddled up and went in search of needed items. Recently the preferred grocery store in Douglas closed it's doors, primarily due to it's proximity to Walmart. I really liked that store, it had a real butcher shop, a great produce section, friendly staff and was easy to get around in. Since they had no option but to close, I won't belabor that point. Going to Walmart is like having surgery with no anesthetic for me, I won't go so far as to say I hate them, just would rather crawl through broken glass to avoid going in to one.
 Adjustment time. I began a search to find the items I needed and what the Store/Cafe' needed in other parts of town. In old Douglas there is a small butcher shop (A REAL butcher shop) I'd been in there a few times and had never given it much thought, that day I introduced myself and found that one of the butchers knew me from my forays into the store that had closed, soon introductions were made all around and I was surrounded by new friends! Learning that I was in search of items for the Portal gang the owner produced his license to insure me anything I bought was in compliance for resale in a restaurant, wasn't really necessary but went a long way in customer relations. They cut and wrapped the items I requested in front of me and then upon learning I needed ice for my cooler for the drive back to Portal, double bagged several large scoops of ice and helped me get everything out to the truck and get it packed. Try getting THAT kind of service at you know where! The next adjustment began at the next grocery store commonly referred to as the Mexican store, due to the fact it is across town and is patronized primarily by the Mexican population across the border and the families living in Douglas. It is in fact a large chain store and is very well run, the patrons do speak mostly Spanish , but then every body speaks Spanish out here! the store is very well stocked has a fabulous produce department and has all kinds of exotic and wonderful spices you can't find elsewhere, a Mexican radio station plays over their store speaker system and is unobtrusive and kind of fun to listen to. Need assistance? Ask one of their employees and they scurry off to find the answer or get someone to help you, no blaring announcement over the speakers, just go find the answer! I found myself talking to the assistant manager, about food, business. bbq, produce and the state of affairs in general and during our conversation at intervals he called over a couple employees and introduced me as "El Chef de barbacoa asado de Portal. A title of respect to a near stranger and brought the understanding of just what I was looking for a lot closer.
 Shopping in this store is a bit different , the pace is slower and folks stop to chat and visit all the while casually moving up and down the aisles , the deli counter is a homing place for quite a few of the patrons, fathers and grandfathers and grandmothers sitting quietly talking, entertaining the ninos. That's right , very few children running amok through the store! What a novel concept! A family unit that takes care of each other.
 A parting observation, what you need is out there, you just have to go look for it.
Stay tuned,
Desert road

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It can always get worse

Gathering up over the Chiricahuas and Cave Creek Canyon
 I've said many times "it can always get worse", yesterday was one of those times.
A gathering of storm clouds early in the morning over the watershed for Portal and a drenching rain brought a flash flood down the canyon. While there were no casualties, the power unleashed got everyone's attention!
I made a trip out on the valley floor for some photos of the other side and found the video of the flood on line. With the tropical storm sitting out in the Gulf and the monsoons in full swing, things could get very interesting depending which way the tropical storm decides to travel. while I know my Texas friends don't want a hurricane , sure would be nice to see that storm weaken and bring some rain to those 3 million acres that burned not long ago. Might be we'll all get lucky! Stay tuned,

Peloncillo's in the lee of the storm

Sun has to be out somewhere, Peloncillo's just past Apache.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Flood at Foothills crossing Jul 13 2011

The rains keep coming, & a small flood

It's finally what the South-westerners call the monsoon season. rain nearly every afternoon with some of the clouds doing their impressive buildup towering over the mountain tops loading up with moisture and then dropping back to the ridge lines and peaks, then bursting open to drop cascades of precipitation on the parched earth and rock . 
Soot and debris sloughing off the mountain into the canyons and creek beds in a torrent of blackened muck, raging along until it finds escape onto the desert floor , water disappearing, leaving a trail of new boulders, rocks and dead wood . Not a pretty sight although impressive to see, natures way of cleansing the burnt areas after the fire. Even now there is evidence of new growth with patches of green showing , mesquite and conifers showing signs of new life. The chinaberry tree in the neighbor's yard so green it looks like St. Patty's day on steroids, some blades of grass peeking up and all is set off nicely by the brilliant yellow of sand bags piled hither and yon to keep the whole thing from washing down to the Mexican border! A nice bit of feng-shui to balance the chaotic event. Other than the high humidity making my personal life miserable I kind of like to watch it all happen. 
 I did get out and about and took a few pictures the other day just before one of these cloud bursts and also have a video taken by our neighbor Helen Schneider a local real estate agent. Not as bad as some places but it will give you an idea of the suddenness and violence these thing are capable of. Strangely enough there are signs everywhere warning you not to drive in these dips and arroyos and low spots, there are always a few that don't believe and have to touch the aint to see if it's really wet! sometimes they escape harm, sometimes they get scraped up with a putty knife.
Stay tuned,

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I stand accused! Worry not.

 A polite conversation with an outsider (one who lives in an urban area) managed to bring my gentle sensitivities to a near boil. This person had the audacity to declare and accuse ME of abject cynicism!
I do try and be objective and fair and was frightfully hurt as I informed this person that, I have lived long enough and studied enough history and read more than the average to feel my position and views were correct. This may have been more effective had I not been sitting on their chest at the time. Not really just kidding! Although the thought did cross my mind. I always find it amusing to find someone who feels like all will be right with the world if we can just get the government to throw more of our money at the problem. When queried "what do I think?", I replied, I want to see some people in charge with callouses on their hands, not some product of a political science degree in know nothing other than what was in a book. It's time the folks in charge actually had some practical experience in living and making a living and actually WORKING. I realize that's a foreign concept for any politician but it's a thought. 
 Wouldn't it be fun to take some of these dipsticks out of their ivory tower and stick them in a classroom full of kids and say "here you go , you teach'em" or out on a construction site swinging a framing hammer. Perhaps out on a farm humping bales of hay around in the summer heat, or in a fast food place flipping burgers or frying chicken . All of this of course at minimum wage or more appropriately for room and board! Oh and by the way don't forget to pay your taxes and SS !
 We can dream can't we?
 On a lighter side here on the mountain we are getting a bit of rain, the music is playing and life is pretty damn good. I've been trimming back a pomegranate tree and last night while grilling some sausage added a few bits of the wood to the charcoal. The result was wonderful , a nice taste, kind of different and tangy . A nice change from the hickory I usually use. If you don't happen to have a pomegranate to chop down , come see me and I can fix you up with a bagful. I have a bunch of it.
 I related my trip to Douglas and some of the things we were cooking for the weekend , here are a few pics of the results,
Berry Salad

Green Chile Cheeseburger

Homemade mushroom filled ravioli with creamy sun dried tomato sauce

Portal Pulled Pork with Spanish rice and Caribbean Black beans

Very Berry Grilled Chicken Salad


A nice job by the "Portal Crew". As for the accusation and slight rise in my blood pressure worry not , this is how I got to end my day, stay tuned,

a Real good day!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Black beans, Smoked Pork and an answer

 Getting ready to fire up the Trooper and make a grocery run to Douglas. That time again a little money in the bank and time to re-provision for a couple weeks. black beans are on the top of the shopping list, by popular request a pot of black beans a la' Jim on the menu for this weekend, along with pulled pork and some homemade Spanish rice. Other specials include homemade raviolis stuffed with mushrooms and ricotta cheese with a creamy sun dried tomato sauce, and the Sterling rib eye steak(hand cut of course). hopefully , if my computer skills are up to it, there will be a new web page just for the Portal Store and Cafe' in the near future. I have it started and will be able to give a blow by blow account of menus, recipes, and the general goings on here.
 An answer for one of my friends who asked why they didn't get a link to the blog after I had sent the first round out. If you want to see what craziness I'm up to there is a place you can subscribe to the blog on the sidebar and it will send the blog to you when I up date it, or just add it to your favorites list on whatever browser you happen to be using. You may notice there are no ads on this thing, I tried it when I first started and found I had no control over the content, the little bit of money that came from the ads surely didn't make up for the aggravation of seeing something pushed on my small group of friends and followers that I personally found offensive. so now if you see a link or recommendation here it's because I used it or have found the people involved are trustworthy. I don't receive any compensation from these folks, wouldn't put it in if I didn't like them or find the products/services reliable.
 On the bizzaro front today, I read the news this morning and the Casey Anthony thing is slowly fading from the front page. Now the Elvis-like sightings are spotting her all over the map. My word on this nutcake and to those who have nothing better to do Patience/Karma/Darkness. Somebody always pays, now or later. Nuff said.
 The local news is we are still in the monsoon season and are getting the much needed rain to cleanse the fire areas, so far no floods but the temps are reduced and unfortunately for me the humidity is up. Hit 35% the other day and thought my hips had frozen up! You get used to that moisture being down in the teens all the time, any little change is noticeable. The Park Service has re-opened the lower canyon at Cave Creek, and while there is still no camping allowed, you can go quite a ways up and some trails are open. Birds seem abundant, lots of small animals moving about and looks like eventually things will return to normal. The other side and the road over the mountain is still closed and is in bad shape. a lot of work needed before that area is available again. I'm not sure but I believe Masai point is open, will check with our friend Ron at the visitors center and let everyone know.
 The road is calling, need to get across that desert before it gets too hot. Stay tuned.

  Some pics of cooking large in the Caja China Box, 70lbs of prime rib, 80 lbs of 1/2 chickens, Mitch Webster(owner of the Portal store) and Chef Jeff handling the food.
 A little music from Sue Burkhart with some of my photos.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Early start

 Waking up to pain always sucks! You can either lay in and wallow in it or get up and manage it. Today I got my carcass out of bed and managed it. A pot of coffee, get the door and windows open get some of that clean mountain air moving through the place and click on the computer. 
 One glance at the news on the net and I started feeling better, seems the rest of the world is a whole lot worse off than I am. Mornings like this I'm grateful for no television, the printed news is bad enough! I subscribe to several newspapers online from East coast to West and none of them had anything resembling good news or at the very least something positive. Just a casual observation, sex and tragedy sells newspapers and advertising. On the positive side, after perusing this collection of catastrophes, disasters, and mishaps, I was able to manage the pain factor down quite a bit and face the day with a better attitude!
 By the by , what the hell is misspoke ? I saw that at least a half dozen times in scanning the political news and can't seem to remember that word in spelling class in school ! I do remember lie, liar, prevarication, don't know what I'm talking about, and bullshit artist (I learned that last one at recess). I tremble with anticipation should a politician come out and tell the truth or at least say I don't know , let me find out.
 At least this was the view from my front door and window this morning,

It's not at all bad having this greet you in the morning. The sky shot through the branches of the tree happens to be a pomegranate, got nailed in the bad freeze last winter and hasn't recovered, green at the bottom but needs trimming back. Some nice wood in there, wonder how it would do in my smoker? Anybody know , send me a message. 
 Another positive note the much needed rains have been gentle and no floods so far, hopefully we will continue to get a bit more to help the area recover and regrow.
 Sometimes my brain seizes up or perhaps it's just that getting older syndrome of CRS , but one of the things coming up in Portal is Irish music week, around Columbus day in October. It's not my gig, I'll only be helping with the food for the Portal Cafe', but here's a link, should be some great music as the people running the show plan on having evening jam sessions and some of the instructors are scheduled to perform.
 Going to get moving and sprint over to the kitchen to see if I can create some havoc over there.