Flames of Destruction

Fire . . . it’s one of those great equalizers.  It doesn’t care who you are, what you have, who you know.  It tears through everything, leaving total destruction in its path.  On September 4, through and act of juvinelle carelessness the Eagle Creek Fire started near Cascade Locks, OR.  With very warm temperatures, very low humidity, and a strong east wind, it quickly blew up into a major fire in the Columbia River Gorge.  And even with the Columbia as a very large, natural fire break, the fire managed to jump the river and start the Archer Mountain Fire in Skamania, WA.  Through the heroic and herculean efforts of firefighters, no lives were lost, and I believe only four structures were burnt.  But for those families whose structures were destroyed their lives will never be the same.

This first picture was taken back in the summer of 2013.  It gives a base of what the Gorge looked like.  The little haystack rock can be used as a focal point.



This next picture was taken about a week after the fire started.  We caught a bit of a break with some cooler westerly air flow.  You can see all the hot spots from the fire.


These last pictures were taken yesterday.  While the autumn contrast isn’t great the magnitude of the burnt forest can be seen.



As were rode up the Gorge yesterday on the motorcycle there were still plenty of hot spots burning.  This is even after we had 3 – 4 inches of rain last week.  This fire will in all likelihood continue to burn until we get a few weeks of constant rain.

The Gorge is a beautiful place to visit and live.  This has become my home and it pains me greatly to see what one moment of recklessness can do.

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I Am A Chile Addict


I am a Chile addict. More specifically, I am a New Mexico Hatch Green Chile addict. I have no shame in admitting that, nor do I have any plans of reforming. I’ve even gotten Poncho hooked on the stuff. So when August 1st came around, my mouth began to water, Pavlovian style, in the anticipation of acquiring my annual fix. So it was with a great deal of horror when I went to my source only to find all the Chile was taken. I guess I’m not the only addict in the area. I frantically searched online to see if there was any other dealer. Relief flowed through me when I found another outlet, then a bit of trepidation when I saw the location. Out on west Burnside in Portland. I hadn’t been in that area for at least ten years. But they had what I craved so I researched the terrain (i.e. looked them up on Google Maps) and made my way in. I was pleasantly surprised to see I had little to worry about from the locals. The biggest danger was coffee sipping moms stepping out in front of me. I made it to the store only to find I had to wait a half hour for the hot chilies to finish roasting. But now I could be patient. My fix was within sight. So I wandered the store. It must have been Hipster shopping day. Women in their yoga pants that left little to the imagination sporting their perfectly coiffed messy ponytails, and the men with their high and tight haircuts and fully grown out beards wearing short-sleeved plaid shirts with the tails untucked. The worse thing that could have happened was being accosted with a fresh baked baguette. When the chilies were finished and that beautiful smoky flavor was wafting in the air I bellied up to the table and made my request. The cook carefully weighed out my desired portion. Oh the joy of those little packets of love and flavor and heat. Now my salsa making endeavor can move forward. Yes, I am proud to say I am a Chile Addict.


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Tres Hermanas



tres hermanas

Dawn broke across the Rio Grande Valley. The eastern sky changed from inky black to indigo to cobalt to robin’s egg. The Sandia Mountains appeared, shifting from void to defined monolith. The clouds reflected deep purple then rose then orange and lemon finally settling on snowy white.

Maíz Azul was awake early, as was her way. She looked over her garden in the valley. Everything was in its proper order and place. Vegetables in well defined rows according to their height and purpose. Flowers arranged in neat clumps bordering the perimeter. She looked across the fence to see her sister Judía Pinta’s plot of land. It too was in order but with much more variety and texture than Maíz Azul was comfortable with. But her baby sister, Flor de Calabaza’s garden was a riot. Colors all mixed up, flowers and vegetables intertwining and cris crossing all over the place. Maíz Azul shook her head. That girl’s garden is as crazy as she is.

Maíz Azul turned to the noise of Judía Pinta coming out. They came together at the fence and greeted each other. They spoke of the butterflies and the hummingbirds. After a time Flor de Calabaza came outside. Maíz and Judía crossed over and greeted her. The three sisters spoke of the rain and the wind, of the day and the night. A roadrunner hopped onto the fence, a lizard in his beak.

At last they parted company to begin their daily work in the gardens. Maíz Azul busied herself with re-potting new geraniums. She knelt before her terracotta pots and deftly arranged the pink, and salmon, and red flowers in a pleasing arrangement. Judía Pinta focused on a variety of succulents around her stepping stones. Flor de Calabaza attacked the weeds that had sprung up through out her garden.

As afternoon waned the three sisters finished their tasks and cleaned up. The sun dipped behind the cottonwoods along the irrigation ditch. The sisters heard horses along the ditch and went to greet Hermano Al Pastor and La Encantada de Perros along with their puppies. Hermano Al Pastor unpacked the carne adovada that he brought, La Encantada opened up her satchel of herbs and greens. Maíz Azul brought out freshly made tortillas, while Judía Pinta fetched her pot of newly made refritos, and Flor de Calabaza retrieved a plate of calabacitas.

As the food was laid out on the outdoor table, firelitos were lit along with chimineas. The setting sun lit the sky on fire with yellows, oranges, and reds streaking across the heavens.

More noise came from the ditch. The sister’s suitors had arrived: first Ocotillo Hosteen, tall, dark haired and quiet; then Pera Espinoso, big, tall and good natured; finally Sotol Desierto, also tall with a spark of mischief. Each had brought the libations for the evening. Ocotillo presented to Maíz a bottle of red wine made from his own vineyard. Pera offered to Judía an aged flask of Caribbean rum he had traded for. Sotol made a preset of his own concoction of mescal to Calabaza.

Les hombres and mujers sat down to eat and drink. Sotol poured wine, and made mojitos and margaritas. Pera wove a rich tableau of stories told to him by the coyote and the raven. Ocotillo spoke of the sun and the moon and the firmament, and what lies beyond. Food was passed around until no one could eat another bite.

As the sky turned inky and the stars bloomed a faint noise could be heard far away. Soon the group could distinguish the flute of Kokopeli. Ocotillo stood and offered his had to Maíz. She placed her hand in his and they rose and began to dance to the mystical tune. Only briefly did the others watch before they too rose and danced to the tune that was woven just for them.



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What’s your Poison

Harley Quinn

Way back in the Stone Ages of the mid to late 1970’s, I slathered myself in the perfume of the day, “Charlie”.  Many junior and high school girls did.  It somehow made us feel more mature, more worldly.

Of course, that wasn’t my first perfume.  How many wore “Loves Baby Soft”?  Talking about a sickly sweet baby powder smell.  I can still bring that scent memory up today.  And two minutes later, I’m sneezing.  But I digress for the moment.

In my twenties I really went all out with Calvin Klein’s “Obsession”.  One of the first really high end statement making perfumes.  But I couldn’t always count on it.  There were times that I put it on and my sinuses went into overdrive.  So I put that perfume aside.

Then in my 40’s a friend turned me onto Christian Dior’s “Poison”.  Now there’s a fragrance that shows up ten minutes before you do.

Once again, however, I could not always count on the perfume to not set my histamine reaction on fire.  Today, I positively cannot wear any type of combined fragrance.  They all send my sinuses into snot making overdrive, along with minutes long sneezing frenzies, and skin that I just want to claw out of.

And it’s not just the spray on or dab on colognes.  It’s the perfumes that are in everything today.  One of the worst, in my opinion (along with my nose’s), is the perfume in Tide.  That is one of the most cloying, choking, make me run out of the house perfumes ever.  Why does every single product for health and hygiene have to have tons of perfume in it?  It’s almost impossible to even find one deodorant that doesn’t have some sort of scent.  I want to stop the smell of my sweat, not smell like a rainforest on a hot August afternoon.

Now I don’t have a lot of problems with single scents like Lavender, or Rosemary, or Citrus or Spearmint or Pinon.  Those I still very much enjoy in small to moderate doses.

So, how many out there have the same issue as I have; an extreme histamine reaction to perfumes?  Or do you layer scent upon scent every morning and throughout the day?

To see more posts about today’s Daily Prompt click the link below:


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Wanderlust – The Sandias


Traveling the desert southwest of the United States; for me there is nothing that soothes the wanderlust beast as easily as seeing these magnificent mountains.  And thankfully in just over two weeks I will be gazing upon their beauty once again.

To see other captures of wanderlust clink the link below.


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Red Sky At Night



“How’d that old saying go?” muttered Silas.  “Red dawn . . . red morning . . . oh yeah, now I remember.  Red sky at night, sailor’s delight, red sky at morning sailor’s warning.”

“I wonder where that came from?” he thought as he crouched behind the oak tree looking up toward the bedroom window of the Walker’s house.  Where ever the saying came from he knew that the red sky for him was lucky.  He pulled out his smart phone and snapped a quick photo to commemorate the night.  While the night may be providing him luck, it was meticulous planning that was going to result in the favorable outcome of tonight’s foray.

It all began innocently enough for the Walker’s.  Hiring Silas’s company to do the remodel work on their kitchen and bathrooms was no more that another good contract won by being the lowest bidder.  That fish symbol on the company logo always wins over the hardest fence sitting clients.  And the job really did start out as a standard remodel; no malfeasance was built in.

But the day Mr. Walker asked Silas and one of his crewmen to help move a big safe from the downstairs office up to the master bedroom closet, Silas’s imagination was set into motion.  Walker casually mentioned that he felt better having it closer to him at night.  He wasn’t sure he could hear someone if they tried to open it downstairs and he was upstairs sleeping.  So Silas and his crewman helped drag the safe upstairs and deposited it in the owner’s closet.  They then dutifully went back downstairs to the kitchen to resume their work.

However, all the rest of the day, and for the rest of the week, Silas couldn’t get that safe out of his mind.  It was an older safe, not the new digital kind that were almost impossible to crack.  This one had the knob that turned, allowing the tumblers to drop into place when the correct numbers in the correct sequence were selected, opening the door.  And Silas knew about those.  His uncle had been a safe cracker back in the day, had taught Silas the skills even though Silas never used them professionally.  That was going to change tonight.

After a couple of weeks watching the Walker house when the remodel job finished for the day, Silas got his chance.  Everyone was gone, dressed up for someplace fancy, all in a single vehicle.  Silas gave them a good ten minutes to return for something forgotten, then he picked up the bag his uncle left him when he went to Chino and crossed the yard.  He opened the side door to the garage with the key left to him by Mrs. Walker, quickly walked through to the kitchen door, stepped inside and punched the code to the alarm, courtesy again of Mrs. Walker.  That fish on the side of the company vehicles was definitely earning it’s keep.  He then strode upstairs to the master bedroom and the waiting safe.  A smile tugged at the corner’s of Silas’s mouth.

Yeah, red sky at night.


This bit of skullduggery is courtesy of the Fabulous Jester over at The Matticus Kingdom.

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Caballo sin Nombre

We have had a very long and hard winter here in the Pacific Northwest.  Since the first week of December we’ve been hit with winter storms about every four days.  Every type of frozen precipitation has fallen from the skies: snow, sleet, hail, freezing rain.  Poncho has spent countless hours on the tractor plowing the lane, putting chains on the truck, taking chains off, dumping snow in the bed of the truck for extra weight, clearing fallen trees, just so I can get to work.  Quite frankly we are both meteorologically exhausted.

During this extended, unwelcome visit from Old Man Winter, we’ve been viewing the Breaking Bad series.  One of my family members recommended it and it seemed like a way to wile away the dark afternoons and evenings.  To be sure, the characters in this series are crazy, funny, often very violent, but every now and then they accidentally do something very good.

The character that has had the most impact on me isn’t a person at all, it’s the city – Albuquerque.  That is where I am from and it is where the series was filmed.  The turquoise blue skies, the white cotton clouds, the fiery golden sun, the bleached sand, the pink granite Sandia Mountains.  I can almost smell the sage and chamissa and greasewood.  There is no rain (or at the most, very little), there is abundant sunshine, it is warm.  The Desert Southwest is everything that the Pacific Northwest is not right now.  It is Arid.  And I am missing it terribly.

I realize that there are significant trade offs.  That aridness means very little water, not much for spectacular greenery, and the wildfire danger is always present.  However, as I sit here and pick moss from between my webbed toes, I imagine myself riding in that yellow desert scene on a horse with no name.

Apologies to the bands Led Zeppelin and America.

For more posts inspired by the Daily Prompt click the link below.


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Snow Queen

She stands outside, glittering in the morning sunlight.  She whispers through the door, “Come outside and play with me.”  She undulates between the tall pine trees, pulling their boughs to her. The wind picks up the lacy hem of her skirt, swirling it around, tearing it away to be whipped along the ground and discarded with other bits of gossamer fabric in a low spot of the terrain.  “Come play with me,” she again cries through the door, now an octave higher, more shrill.  Clouds chase the loose pieces of her raiments; the wind lifts the tree boughs up, sending her careening across the landscape.  A low moan echos through the house, a shudder as the wind drops her crystal jewels against the house.  “Come play with me, NOW…” she howls.  The sun comes out again from behind the clouds.  She shimmers in its intense light.  It is a siren song she plays.  Icy, shining fingers stretch along the window panes, seeking a way into your sanctuary, trying to draw you outside.  She twirls again just outside the window, her garments lifting in the air currents.  She rips a shawl of sequined white off and it catches in the pines.  They too are now dancing, singing, “Come outside and play with us.”  A roar is felt as much as it is heard as one of her dance partners slams into the house, renting the corner open.  Her arms stretch out entering the once secured domain of your home.  Her fingers touch your cheek, “Come play with me, now…”

Inspiration courtesy of The Daily Prompt.  To see more, click the link below.


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Like A Heart Attack

I have felt an overpowering somberness and seriousness fall over this country that I call home.  The buffoonery that keeps coming out of the nation’s capital each and every day has all but squashed any and all little happinesses that try to poke their heads above the ground.  I’ve noticed a terrible pall these past several weeks that has come over everyone that I encounter, even those who had hoped the current government would settle down and understand the seriousness of the position which they were put in.  There seems to be no honor expressed towards the residents of this country, no respect toward other leaders, and certainly no dignity in daily conduct.

Every day it seems there is some new executive order signed.  No regard is given to the fact that this country has a division of power.  Any changes in policies, procedures, and laws should be routed through the legislative branch.  And these changes should be constitutionally sound as reviewed by the judicial branch.

But the sycophantic legislative branch has also changed long held rules just so unqualified lackeys can be put further into positions of power for which they have no experience.  They changed the rules governing civilian oversight of the military so a very recently retired general with questionable stability can be put in charge of that military.  They have changed rules regarding how a potential cabinet member is approved by a committee so that they can circumvent those in dissent.

There have been some references to George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, and Neil Postman.  And while there are certain aspects of these authors’ insights that are very much a part of our society today, I would never give the current person in the White House that kind of credit.  We are more akin to a nation being governed by a reality television program.

I have often heard from those who are still rabidly supportive of the current administration that I and those like me should “grow up”, or “get over it” or “why didn’t you vote”.  I am grown up which is why I am continuing to voice my concerns.  No, I won’t get over it; this isn’t a stupid football game with no real consequence to the world.  And I did vote which is why I will continue to issue my minority report.

But for today, Poncho’s and my wedding anniversary, I am going to shake off this mantle of seriousness that has been thrust upon me and go have a day of fun.  I invite everyone who also wears this cape of despair to attempt every once and awhile to drape it across the chair; go run and be free for a moment. We might not have many more opportunities.

For more entries from today’s One Word Prompt click the link below.


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Woodstock, Live

A few weeks ago, during one of the many snow storms we’ve had this winter, I heard a loud “WHACK” at the bedroom window.  I walked over, saw little feathers plastered to the pane and knew we just had a bird strike.  I looked down and saw a tiny little thing pile driven into the snow.  I rushed outside and downstairs to where I spied the accident victim.  I gently pulled it out of the snow, expecting to see his neck flop to the side, broken.  But the head and neck were intact.  I put a finger against the breast and thankfully felt breathing and a very rapid heartbeat.  I cupped the little guy in my hands and headed for the garage where I could ask Poncho for something to put our patient in.  I wasn’t very hopeful that this bird would survive.  I imagined it had a pretty serious brain injury based on the sound it made when he hit the window.  But while I waited for a container with a clean t-shirt to be fashioned, this sweet little bird grasped its talons into the palm of my hand.  As best as I could tell the bird was a Bewick’s Wren.  When the container was ready, I very lovingly disengaged the wren from my hand and set him in the makeshift nest.  I set the lid on and took it upstairs.  Ginger, the cat, was shooed from the bedroom, and I placed the little bird in the window sill where he would get natural light through the clear plastic box.  I made sure the doors were closed and went to take a shower.  Knowing the chances weren’t good for survival, I was very pleasantly surprised to see the wren fluttering around in the box, trying to get out.  Amazingly, he had shaken off his stupor and wanted out . . . NOW.  So I opened the bedroom window and lifted the lid so that birdie would fly away from me and not into the house.  It took about two nanoseconds for him to realize that he was free.  With a tweet, tweet, and poop he took off back into the wild.  Out here in the country when a bird strikes a window, chances are rarely in its favor for survival.  A couple years ago we had a young Red Tail Hawk break its neck flying into a window.  So It really warmed my heart that I could provide this tiny little creature the warmth, safety, and time needed to recuperate from his accident.

For more posts inspired by today’s one word prompt click the link below.


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