How green is my Palo Verde?

Contary to what most people believe the desert does have a lot of color besides beige, and a lot of flora besides cacti. My favorite is the Palo Verde tree. Green from its roots to its leaves during the spring, it is an eye-catcher with its brilliant green trunk. It is also a signal the spring round-up is on its way.

In the west that’s the time for cowboys to saddle up and hit the trail. It’s an exciting time of hard work for everyone, including the cattle. It means hard riding, eating dust, or in some cases getting bogged down in spring snow storms. No one understood it better, or captured it more realistically, than Joe Beeler, Charlie Dye, John Hampton, Fred Harman, and George Phippen. These five men were seasoned cowboys earning their living at one point in their lives by cowboying. However that is not what they are known for. All five were the founders of The Cowboy Artists of America, and a colorful lot they were. Fred Harman, Cold War spy, created the popular character Red Ryder before he turned to fine art, Joe Beeler won awards for his bronze and canvas work, John Hampton, WWII intelligence artist, was a New Yorker who out cowboy the western cowpokes, Charlie Dye cowboyed in the movies and provided national magazines with some of their best covers, and George Phippen started it all by insisting western art should depict what cowboys really did and not just show pretty trees and ranges. All five are gone now, but their art lives on in museums, galleries and private homes, and so does the organization they founded.

Here are a few places you can see their art: Denver Art Museum, Gilcrease Museum, Leanin’ Tree Museum, National
Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, The Rockwell Museum, The Museum of Western Art, Phippen Museum of Western Art.
Check the internet for addresses and more places to view the works of The Cowboy Artists of America. Include a visit on your next vacation. Its a treat for the whole family. Meanwhile read PAINT ‘N SPURS for a real insight into the lives of these fascinating men and their art.

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What Are Big Girls Made of?

What Are Big Girls Made of?

The ubiquitous “they” say little girls are made of sugar and spice. But, what about big girls? seems like something happens between birth and the age of 18. I guess all the sugary and spice is used up and what we have left is courage and capriciousness, determination endearing and bravery and bravado. That’s what big girls are made of. Doubt me? Let’a look at history.

Lucy Flake headed for Arizona Territory in 1877 in a covered wagon as a young bride. Things weren’t as comfortable or as pleasant as she thought they were gong to be. Not even the weather cooperated.

In her own words: “For three days the wind had been terrific. The sand and small stones had beaten into the faces of the horses. The wagon covers were wired down leaving only a small opening in front for the driver to see. The women and children were huddled inside on beds which were made on rope corded from side to side and end to end. With the falling of the wind same a heavy snow. When the sun came out the next day I ordered the boys to fill the tubs with snow which was heated. I stood with tub and washboard and scrubbed the clothes of ten members of my family and half a dozen hired men. My song of gratitude, happiness and cheer rang out far and near over the frosty air.”

How’s that for courage and capriciousness! From In Our Own Words: The Lives of Arizonas Pioneer Women.

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Sandy…The Monsoon Dog!

Sandy the Monsoon Puppy

monsoon wash 001

There was something brown bobbing around the wash swollen by the monsoon rains, pulled along by the swift, vicious current.  Leo Stanton Worthington knew it wasn’t a bunch of rags, or a pile of twigs, and when her ranch foreman Joey lassoed the bundle, it turned out to be a puppy.  Leo immediately named the small shivering bundle Sandy.

sandy good

Turned out Sandy was a very brave puppy and very loyal.  In the following months, the puppy grew into a loving and sweet dog; a courageous dog that saved Leo from the clutches of kidnappers bent on murder.  Of course, all of this happened in the late 1890s in the mystery novel, Take the Train to Tucson.

sandy good 3

However, there is a lot of truth in fiction, and Sandy is one of those truths.  The model for Sandy the Monsoon Puppy is the loving real life Labrador who has brought many years of happiness, and loyalty to her family.  For fourteen years she has chased after little children and watched them grew into men and women, she has followed her owner Bill and Candy around with love just pouring out of her. Fourteen years is a long time for any puppy, and now it is time for Sandy to find her rest, but her spirit will live on, if not in reality, than in fiction.



Thank you Sandy for sharing your love and life with us, you have made our lives so much richer.  May everyone be blessed with a Sandy in his or her life. sandy good 2


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Got the Hots? Cool it!

If you have not noticed it is hop then you are probably not in Tucson Arizona, where we are ‘enjoying’ temperatures over 100 degrees. It is so hot that my rear view mirror slide down my front window.

Think Beach.Shore

We do find creative ways to keep cool. One way is with eating stuff that makes us feel like the temperature has dropped.


Now Marie, the gourmet cook in Take the Train to Tucson might be a fictional character, but she has connections on this side of reality. One of her connections, Mike, chief chef and bottle washer in the Marriott household, has created a great receipt for Gazpacho, that Spanish cold soup perfect for hot weather. He roasts the veggies in the morning, purees them, and puts the results in the refrigerator. It keeps well for about ten days, although it never last past that in our house, so perhaps you can keep it longer.

You can add a dollop of sour cream on top. Serve it with a cheese quesadillas, or match it with a nice warmed loaf of Italian or French bread, and ice cream, or a shushy for dessert. Lots of good vitamins and nutrition for you and a tasty and cooling lunch or dinner.

Mike’s Gringo Gazpacho

1 sweet onion

1 head of garlic

6 medium ripe tomatoes

2 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded

1 small eggplant

1 medium red bell pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

Slap Your Mama hot pepper mix, (or a dash of your favorite hot sauce)

1 fresh lime for juice or a dash of lemon or lime flavored balsamic vinegar.

Salt to taste

Cut off the top of the garlic and wrap in aluminum foil with a little olive oil. Peel the eggplant, thinly slice and layout on a baking sheet with the eggplant. Find a spot or the garlic. Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle the veggies with olive oil. Broil until browned and tender. Cool and process the cooled vegetables with the cucumber until smooth. Add lime juice (or a dash of lemon or lime flavored balsamic vinegar.) Season to taste with the hot pepper and salt. Add slices or chunks of avocado. OLE!





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Getting ready for your vacation and you think how neat it is to be traveling in the twenty first century.  You have cars and airplanes, all they had in the 1800 was horses, stagecoaches, and with a bit of luck, a steam engine train.  Right!

Think again.  Two things…getting there, and getting home marred a recent trip to the Bahamas…a vacation that included pastel cottages and solo beaches.






Eleuthera blue










As soon as the trip started reality set in.  Each leg of flying was met by aircraft delays, canceled flights, rerouting, seats that were given away, and long waits on the tarmac while Mother Nature and the airlines negotiated routes, also socked in airports and go nowhere airplanes.

Now Leo Stanton Worthington had the right idea, although she didn’t have much choice in 1884.  She took the steam engine train to Tucson.  So what if she was robbed.  The outlaws didn’t keep her waiting four hours, then give her pretzels to make her feel better.  The robbery was quick and she kept her appetite.

When she couldn’t take the train, she hopped on a stagecoach.  Turns out her fellow passenger was a dead man, at least he didn’t complain, snore, or demand she get up every ten minutes so he could take a short walk down the aisle.

If you want a bit of the good old days, some western fun, and a western mystery, climb aboard and Take the Train to Tucson.  Its a good summer read whether you are on the Bahamas beach, at the lake, or touring.  It’s even good reading if you are stuck on an airplane.

Take the Train to Tucson is now available on, barnes&, and your local bookstore in e-book and soft cover.


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