Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

As it turned out, the compost got up to 115 degrees F. but it only stayed there for three days. Linda says it needs more nitrogen, but the easiest ways to add nitrogen tend to be a bit stinky for use in the house. So, I’m thinking I’ll convert the compost bin into a worm bin and put some of my red wrigglers in there with some good groceries to eat. Next summer I can experiment with compost mixtures outside to see if I can come up with one that will heat up in small quantities and not be too smelly.


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Words of wisdom from the Denver Botanic Gardens . . .

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an injured owl

Today I heard the loud, long blast of a vehicle horn on the highway. A little while later I found this great horned owl in my garden. His face was badly injured, but he seemed strong otherwise. A rescue person came and took him away. I hope he makes it.

Great Horned Owl

[I’m sorry to say, the owl died that very night of head injuries. Thanks to everyone who scrambled to help me locate the rescue people.  -ds]

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Fall has arrived–a blessed relief to those of us who dwell in the desert. While I will miss the long days of summer, I won’t miss the heat.

In honor of autumn, I decided to make a cake! I love a simple chocolate cake, without any icing.

Here is my mom’s recipe with some additional comments by me.


Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cups flour

1 tsp each baking soda and salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup shortening [I used butter]

2 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup hot black coffee

Grease pans, dust with cocoa. [I use a single 9″ x 11″ glass baking pan.] Set aside.

Mix together flour, soda and salt. Set aside.

Dissolve cocoa in coffee. Set aside.

Cream shortening and sugar well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and coffee in 3 equal portions [each] to creamed mixture, ending with coffee and beating well [100 strokes] after each addition.

Bake at 350 degrees until done [center springs back after being pressed lightly or wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean].


I make cake the old fashioned way, mixing everything by hand with a wooden spoon, counting the strokes.

My mom was never fond of cooking, but I loved baking from the very start. We didn’t have a rubber spatula and I remember the first time I ever saw one–at my neighbor’s house. I was enamored of the spatula’s efficiency in getting every bit of batter out of the bowl. But I felt sorry for my neighbor (my best friend)–there was no batter left to be scooped up and licked from an index finger.

That was my first lesson in the cost of efficiency.

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The view from Wildflower House is always changing.

Recently, the neighbor who owns the property adjoining mine decided to expand his business. To that end, he bulldozed the hillside, which is his property, behind my house. The hillside and the mesquite tree in the corner of my yard were the view I photographed for the header of this blog. As you can see from this recent photo, the view has changed dramatically.


I will miss the view of the lush desert hillside and the smell of the creosote bushes after the rain.

On the other hand, I have to admire my neighbor for his success in a town with only about a dozen businesses and in the currently depressed economy.

Unfortunately, his business involves junk cars.

Fortunately, he plans to build a fence to screen my view.

And you know how those morning glories can spread . . .

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During the summer I bought a beautiful, delicious watermelon. It was grown not too far from here in a similar environment, so I tossed the seeds under the cherry tree and left them to grow as they would. I only watered them when I watered the tree–about once, sometimes twice a week. Sure enough, they sprouted with the monsoon rains and made three melons. Two of the melons were medium-sized and one was quite small. The weather got chilly last week (my garden suffered some frost damage) but I decided to leave the melons a few more days to ensure their sweetness before harvesting. On Thursday I went out to pick them and the biggest one was gone. Someone stole it. I know it was a person because there was no damage to the vines and they had clearly checked out the other medium-sized melon too; my dog picked up their scent on it.

I didn’t think that was very neighborly.

I intended to pickle the rind to give as gifts this winter.

Should I build a big wall around my property?

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