Category Archives: Arizona Monsoon

The Week in My World 8-31-11

A harrowing, adrenaline-charged midnight rescue of a starving chained dog in my neighborhood…another neighbor with an old camper in his yard reports harassment by drug cartel members…so hot you can’t breathe…oh who the hell cares? Put the razor blade down and look at some recent six word stories and pictures from my world.

Autodidact’s delusions at least self-taught.

Noxious aura radiates from negligent psychic.

Dignity gone. Queasy dawn. Agreement withdrawn.

People’s revolution. Virtuous intentions. New oppressors.

Antisocial butterflies invited to somber soiree.

Forked road. Left, elimination, right, bereavement.

Don’t worry be happy. Lobotomy included?

Please amputate right leg this time.

Exfoliated angst shards predicted. Better duck.

Polluted hydrologist burst into brackish tears.

Beautiful, meticulous, handcrafted artwork. Price reduced.

Amo, amas. In extremis. Ante bellum.

Suicide hotline, on hold. Elevator music.

Every year during monsoon the nectarivorous Mexican long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae), come at dark to drain the hummingbird feeder. Bats are major pollinators and/or insect eaters and there is no reason to fear them. Plus, they’re really cool!

Long-nosed bat drinking sugar-water at the hummingbird feeder.

A big flock of them come every night and drain the feeder within half an hour. It’s definitely worth buying extra sugar to support them!

Beautiful, mysterious long-nosed bats love nectar and sugar water. Both their roosting sites and their main source of food, the agave, are being destroyed by people and fires.



The second brood of barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) have been born, raised, and fledged. There will be no more this year. This series of pictures starts with newborns.

3 days old. It takes about two weeks for the swallow babies to reach maturity. Like most birds, both parents are extremely attentive.

For the first week after the babies fledge, the parents continue to watch, feed, and guide them. The babies still return to the porch light nest every night for several more weeks.

Hey, you on the end! Listen up! I have important stuff to tell you!

During monsoon blasts of rain pour down in one part of town but not another.

We are at 5,000 ft., so we are actually IN the clouds. Picture taken from my street.

The Monument fire destroyed my favorite refuge, Coronado National Park, and the road in is closed due to destruction by flooding as there are no trees left to stop it. But the San Pedro River is lush and full, and the animals don’t care that the water is muddy.

Raccoon prints along the San Pedro, which is teeming with wildlife seeking water.

The Week in My World 7-30-11

Knowledge and growth are born of adversity. Writer Josephine Hart said, “Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.”  I know this is true. The shock fades and new skills emerge. It’s a weird sort of relief to know there will be no relief, so there’s no need to fake optimism. It forces one to deal with reality in less emotional ways. Lower your standards, expect nothing.

Drug Cartels Coming to a Street Near You!

My passion is animals and my cause is spay/neuter. It’s very hard to get people here to spay/neuter, but I never give up. After many years of working in animal rescue, I know that spay/neuter education is the single most important effort that can be made to stop the flow of stray dogs and cats. It would be easy enough for schoolteachers to give a lesson on it once in a while, but they don’t.

I’m currently trying to help neighbors get their dogs fixed for free. I’m all about free. If poor people consent to it (the first hurdle), they should get help. Some organizations make the pet owner pay the money back, but I don’t believe in that. Pay the vet bill for them, and DON’T spend thousands of dollars on a sick or crippled animal because you can’t stand to put it down. (They do that here, they’re all anti-euthanasia in Bisbee. It’s not realistic. In Douglas the pound puts them down too fast, within a couple days.  In Mexico the methods of euthanasia are medieval, I can’t talk about it. I seek sane case-by-case judgment but can’t find it anywhere.) But for the people who want to spay/neuter and can’t afford it,  I write emails, make phone calls, collect information, make appointments, coordinate funding, beg and plead. Works pretty good.

A lady I’m helping in my neighborhood has a fifth-wheel camper for sale in her yard. She told me cartel members have come to her house three times wanting to use the camper for a drug smuggling drop-off point. She said no. I asked her if she reported it, she said no, because they told her they had relatives in the local border patrol and she’s too scared. I don’t believe that. They don’t let agents work in their own neighborhoods for this exact reason.

Since I no longer believe we have a functioning government, I’ve been practicing, spending money on bullets because I think it’s important to know how to defend yourself. It took living on the border, a collapsed economy, and an arrogant leader to come to this conclusion—I sound like a nutcase in a bunker—but Americans need to wake up to reality. The America we knew, the one where you could walk into an employment agency and have a decent job in a week, is gone. The banks, corporations, and politicians who run this country are evil. War, money, oil. Yesterday in Egypt tens of thousands of hardline Islamic fundamentalists demonstrated, killing Christians and calling for strict Sharia law—as we send them billions of dollars to fight a hopeless cause. What did you think would happen?  Isn’t it kind of embarrassing to belong to such a stupid species?

RIP Amy Winehouse

Amy, Amy, Amy. Amy was a freak with the voice of a fallen angel. I have not read all the tributes to her online because my feelings are purely personal and I don’t want them tainted. I loved her music and her voice and her attitude. She was an outcast from the Hollywood rockstar mold and didn’t care. People made fun of her, she was an easy mark. Her “You Know I’m No Good” is my favorite song by her and gives me chills and makes me cry every time I hear it. I haven’t been this affected by the death of an artist since Janis Joplin, another member of the “27 Club.”

Coco and Chico

The two chihuahuas (see Help) got adopted and then sent back. The couple didn’t want them because they did not immediately bond with the husband. They only gave the dogs five days. Chico hiked on the guy’s clothes on the floor and he gave up on them way too fast. They’ve been shuffled around for months now—and after all, they were just neutered in June at age five years. Don’t expect miracles. We adore these loving, funny dogs. We’ll continue to work with them until they learn. They are a good project for someone with a lot of love to give. The dogs will love you right back.

Stormy day today with lots of rain, lightning and thunder.

Sonoran Desert toad, Bufo alvarius. I picked him up in a tupperware and gently carried him to safer ground, away from pets. These toads secrete a poisonous milky substance from glands on the side of their heads that can paralyze or cause seizures in animals and humans. He was big, about 5 inches long, about as big as my hand, and solidly heavy.

Canyon tree frog, Hyla arenicolor. There are variations among this species.

Another tiny canyon tree frog, even smaller, about an inch long. These frogs and toads are only seen during monsoon.

Caterpillar or larva of pipevine swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor. There are lots of them in the yard. They are toxic and their bright scarlet color is a warning to birds.

Chico on way to new home

Chico coming back after being kicked out of new home

Coco and Chico coming back. They love, love, love to ride in cars.

Two car-lovin’ chihuahuas need good home in southern AZ. Will deliver. Neutered, loving, funny. Do not want to split up. They don’t bolt. Open a car door and they jump right in and settle down.

Met some people carrying goats. They had just picked up this mother and daughter whose owner couldn’t keep them. This couple makes goat cheese which they sell at the Farmers’ Market, and also uses them for meat…of course I asked if they get attached to the goats…yes, but they grew up on a farm and are used to the slaughter. Not very nice to think about, is it. Please don’t ever throw meat away, give leftovers to your dogs.

Helicopter repair shop in Elfrida, AZ. Who knew?

Helicopter graveyard, Elfrida, AZ

The Week in My World 7-13-11

It’s been exactly one disturbing month since the Monument Fire began. Monsoon has started and instead of being the joyful respite we all wait for, new horrors have just begun for the people in Hereford Valley as their homes fill with ash and sludge. Everybody’s busy sandbagging their properties and buying flood insurance, which is really expensive.

I’ve received mail from uninformed people calling me all kinds of nasty names, but I write from the perspective of someone who lives here, not a couple thousand miles away. I hate political correctness but I find that many Americans accept it like sheep. It’s a really bad idea to troll blogs and leave aggressive negative comments. Much better to write your opinions on your own blog. If I see a post I don’t agree with, I leave, not start trouble.

But, life goes on. I’ve been highly motivated to clean up my property. I bought this house “as is.” The man who lived here worked in the mines but was completely self-sufficient when it came to taking care of his house and family. Maybe today he would be considered a hoarder. The barn and house were jammed full of every kind of scrap imaginable. We cleared much of it a few years ago, but a lot of it remained exactly where he left it when he died. He saved everything. Literally tons of metal, tires, wood, old refrigerators, half-empty bottles and cans of gooey unknown substances, thousands of parts from obsolete machinery, fencing and rotting hoses for his vegetable gardens. I’ve made countless dump trips and given stuff away. Since I’m scared to death of fires now, I’ve cleared most of the brush. The monsoon will bring new grasses and create new brush, but from now on I’m going to keep up with it. It’s a lot of work but I trust no one.

Something good happened—Gracie, the little tabby I rescued from a foreclosed home, was adopted. I still have the two chihuahua mixes and can’t wait to find a good home for them. I have nine dogs in my little house and it’s too much. People call and make appointments to see them and don’t show up. Other people call and want them for free. Others call with their phone set to “Private” and don’t leave their number. Little kids call. The stupidity, rudeness, and bloody waste of my time is discouraging.

Two confused chihuahuas after returning from the vet to get neutered. Coco and Chico, whose owner died and whose wife dumped the dogs the same day, need good home in southern Arizona. Will deliver.

“WTF? I thought you said we were going to get TUTORED!”

First brood of swallow babies on my front porch light. The parents come back every year and have two broods. I do what I can to keep them safe.

One died in the nest, I don’t know why. The parents couldn’t get it out, so we got a ladder and a pair of tongs and removed it.

If one more person tells me the prickly pears lost in the February freeze will come back, I’m gonna smack ’em.

The Border Patrol were all at the Monument fire for two weeks, now they’re back. Look at this agent on horseback….HOT. I would have liked to move around him and take better pictures, but they’re kind of busy.

Border Patrol bringing in a group less than 100 ft. from my back door. The concept of the BP being ruthless dicks isn’t true. They save lives every day. They are given fluids, taken to hospitals, then sent back.

Poor old guy at the gas station, empty tank and no money. He asked me for a dollar. I gave him my last five bucks.

Our friend Hogan (see Hoarder of History) finally retires his boots.

Monument Fire + Monsoon = Mudslides

Monsoon started about a week ago and so far it’s a strong one. There are various scientific methods used to predict the strength of an upcoming monsoon, but it turns out to be whatever nature decides.

But one thing is certain, and that is when mountain forests suffer major fire damage, natural waterways are not enough to absorb the heavy rains. The water has no place to go but down. On my way home today from Sierra Vista, mudflow had closed roads and I learned after stopping and asking that once again the people who live at the base of the Huachucas were told to evacuate.

Everybody here knows how the Monument fire started, but it has yet to be made official, and likely never will. I honestly can no longer see myself having a life here.

This is what Rt. 92 looks like all along Coronado National Park where the Monument fire burned for two weeks.

Monsoon rain is not like a normal rainy day. It comes in heavy bursts with high winds that can last for hours, stop, then start again. It's usually the best time of the year.

Miller Canyon Road off Rt. 92 was closed and the homes that firefighters saved will be in danger again for the next two to three months.

With the trees gone, mud comes down the mountains.

Natural waterways, called washes, are unable to contain the flow.

Streets flood with mud and debris.

We live near several prisons and often see "cons" doing various work around town. Today they had them making sandbags. The sandbags are loaded into trucks and placed around houses. I asked a con who helped me at the dump the other day what he was in for—two pounds of pot. What a waste of taxpayer money.

Update 7-12-11. Picture from KGUN 9 News. The mudslide was worse than I knew. It ruined homes and this is just the beginning.

The Week in My World 9/18/10

It’s still hot, but the rain keeps falling, though now in short bursts that don’t amount to much.  But the high desert still basks in the fluid infusion. Gush…lush…drip…grow, thrive, morph, prepare for sleep.

The ubiquitous hackberry bush in its September glory

Bisbee is tucked in under the cover of purple or red morning glories, transforming the town into linear shapes under a living blanket

"Perfection Bread" vintage advertisement, Old Bisbee

This is all you need to see to know it's a Bisbee girl. Farmers' Market, Saturday.

This guy lives in Bisbee and drives around with his two wolves.

Maxi at a jobsite this week

Heading south toward home on my street, I saw this little squall over Mexico. You can see where it's raining for hundreds of miles.

Lochlin Street, Old Bisbee

One of the many "art cars" of Bisbee. It's an art form here.

Close up of art car---Our Lady of Guadalupe icons are common here.

My friend Janice and I went to the Farmers' Market today and took some pictures of the animals for our local rescue group. We don't like breeders, we have too many strays as it is. We especially resent pitbull breeders, as the dogs end up in the desert, the road, or the pound, or the most obvious and vile, the fighting pit. This little guy is part pug and will be easily adopted because he's small and adorable.

The Week in My World 9/10/10

It’s finally slightly cooler but the lushness of summer still abounds with prominent profusions of wildflowers at every turn.  The fruits of the various local cacti are huge due to a strong monsoon—it rained steadily until a few days ago, but today the humidity dropped about 30 points to 36%.  Locusts are crossing the roads, probably for mating.  The “lawn” is knee-high again—they’re not kidding when they tell you the Arizona lawnmower is the weed whacker.

Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.

Look at the size of those prickly pear fruits

Pretty house and painted wall in Old Bisbee

Maxi is mad because we put her in these flowers and made her stay. Look at that pout.

A friend stopped by towing his "Sprint car," built for quarter-mile races.

Morning glories growing out of a drainage ditch in Old Bisbee

Tiny red morning glories overtaking a desert broom

These wildflowers are growing out of a crack in the pavement in Old Bisbee

Today's bandanna somehow ended up on Maxi's head, making her appear to be a tiny alien wizard

The Week in My World 8-27-10

The 2010 monsoon season will be tapering off soon, though no one wants to see it end. The storms have been occurring almost daily, replenishing water tables and turning the high desert into a lush, green, nurturing world. We have been fortunate.


Daily thunderstorms with heavy rain



Rain and rainbow, backyard



Magical sunset after storm



Arizona the drama queen



The dogs love a nice salad



The yard after finally being mown



Full moon rising after stormy day



Second brood of swallow babies on porch light



Hummingbird in her nest at house in Bisbee



View from house where I worked today overlooking Tombstone Canyon



A length of ocotillo fence along Tombstone Canyon this afternoon



A living ocotillo fence is a wonder to behold, especially after the rains


Arizona is Such a Drama Queen

These are pictures of the vast and beautiful skies of Arizona during monsoon season, all taken from our yard. Arizona is such a show-off!

Monsoon clouds to the south

Monsoon clouds to the north

Monsoon sky, backyard

Beautiful clouds to the northeast

Surreal lighting in the backyard

Early rainbow, June 2010

Sunset from the driveway

We are Life, Water Us

lightning in the backyard

Before I moved to Arizona I didn’t know there was such a thing as monsoon season in the US. I thought rainy seasons were the wild phenomena of faraway exotic places, India and Asia.

But monsoon season in Arizona is the most anticipated and welcome time of year. The rain is heady and powerful and everyone is drawn in. At the first crack of thunder the air becomes spiced with the sharp, earthy smell of ozone and creosote bushes. Frisky winds kick up dust and dirt and bend trees sideways under a blackened sky—but you never know from the first few drops whether you’re going to get pounded or passed by.

The monsoon brings a sort of  bonding to the community. The air is charged with electricity and there is no doubt it affects people. It’s also a dangerous time—from dumpsters crashing down Brewery Gulch during a flash flood to roads being washed away, especially in state parks where they don’t have the funds to fix them. Every year people get hurt or killed trying to drive through flooded roads. Perhaps the combination of dryness relief plus the thrill of  danger keys people up. Sure works on me.

Monsoon usually starts around the second week of July. Oldtimers will tell you the rain used to start earlier and last longer, but the weather has changed. Thirsty plants, trees and animals are desperate for water by now. I don’t understand how coyotes, deer, javelinas, bobcats, rabbits, birds—and the rest—survive it. Some people provide creature-accessible tubs of water outside of our fences, as the animals will come out of the desert into the neighborhoods looking for water. Their reality must revolve around it.

The monsoon storms are unpredictable and mighty, with hail, high winds and monster lightning. The water is fiercely needed but comes with its own form of destruction. The storms are hard on property. Fires start. “Lost dog” posters are common during monsoon—the thunder drives some dogs to break out of their yards and bolt. The combination of fireworks and storms makes this a time to take extra care with your animals. But it transforms the high desert into a lush jungle for a few months and empowers and nourishes our parched bodies and souls. And, it makes a great car wash.