Saturday Summerhaven Escape from the Heat

Our household started the day a bit later than we had intended, but it turned out to be a delightful day despite only getting to half the events we had hoped to attend.  The first one started at 9-ish, as in the a.m., at 9,000 feet.  A mountain brunch.  Actually Summerhaven, the mountain town where we were meeting friends for a birthday brunch, is only 8,200 ft. in elevation.  But still that is quite a bit higher than Tucson at 2,650 ft.  And we got there quite a bit later than 9-ish, but we were not the last to arrive.

The scenery on the way up was stunning, as always.

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A view of Tucson from the Catalina Highway as we begin the trip up.

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Buddy, as seen in the side mirror, is very happy to be on the road to cooler climes.

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A view of Hitchcock Rock at Windy Point as we pass by.

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And more great rock formations on the way up. I am not sure what the common name for the duck-billed rock is, but we always called this Nixon Rock.

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First view along the drive of the area that burned the Summer of 2003. The fire was called the Aspen Fire. About half of Summerhaven burned in that fire.

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Another view of the new growth with the still standing trunks of trees lost to the fire – closer to Summerhaven.

Then we arrived in Summerhaven and the Cabin.

Then we arrived in Summerhaven and the Cabin.

celebrating with the birthday girl and friends on a porch of a cabin in Summerhaven.

And we had a wonderful time celebrating with the birthday girl and friends.

Plant. Unidentified, but delicate and beautiful by the cabin.

Plant. Unidentified, but delicate and beautiful, by the cabin.

Small lap dogs had a wonderful time.

Small lap dogs had a wonderful time.

As did big dogs too.

As did big dogs too.

For old time sake we stopped at the turn off to the road we took many, many summers to where our daughter went to Girl Scout Camp, Saguaro Girl Scout Council, along Organization Ridge Road. Many memories.

Then on the way down the mountain, for old time sake we stopped at the turn off to the road we took many, many summers in a row, long ago, to where our daughter went to Girl Scout Camp, Saguaro Girl Scout Council, along Organization Ridge Road. Many memories.

 

Rain to the North of the Catalinas across the San Pedro Valley

Rain to the North of the Catalinas across the San Pedro Valley

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Or maybe it is looking out over Tortalita. Hate to admit it but I’m not sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is such an absolutely complex and varied ecological area.  For info to beef up your geological perspective, I recommend this publication.  It has a bunch of information you can use to identify geological formations at some of the well designed pull off Scenic Vistas along the way.  (We were reminiscing today about how the Catalina Highway to the top of Mount Lemmon has changed from road to real highway.)

The mountains around here are called Sky Islands.  To find out about the biology and biota of these islands with sea of desert all around check out the Sky Island Alliance.  And if you want to find out more about connecting the islands so wildlife can migrate (No border fences!) check out the info about wildlife corridor design.

Now back to the travelogue.

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Vistas that I once could not view for more than a second or two… because the heights freaked me out so much… but that I can now experience outside of the car!

One of my favorite pics of the day. View is of Thimble Peak in the distance. You can view Thimble Peak from the other side if you take the tram up Sabino Canyon.

One of my favorite pics of the day. View is of Thimble Peak in the distance. You can view Thimble Peak from the other side if you take the tram up Sabino Canyon.

The ability to experience such diverse climate, flora, and fauna in a drive up the mountain range that borders northern Tucson and takes only an hour is one of the fortunes given to you with residence in Tucson.

When I was married in the Summer of 1989 on the top of Mount Lemmon, the highest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountains, the record high temperatures in the Tucson Basin were above the 110°F mark.  It was in the 80s in Lemmon Meadow where we held the ceremony and camp-o-rama reception.

So long ago, geesh, I still drank Budweiser… why I was holding a Bud when we had a keg of Harp and vat of chilled Moet Chandon I still do not know.

Me on my wedding day, so long ago. Near the top of Mount Lemmon, in Lemmon Meadow.

Me on my wedding day, so long ago. Near the top of Mount Lemmon, in Lemmon Meadow.

 

Hubby and daughter posing in Lemmon Meadow with our two dear furry friends who are no longer with us, 18 years or so after Hubby and I were married there.

Hubby and daughter posing in Lemmon Meadow with our two dear furry friends who are no longer with us, 18 years or so after Hubby and I were married there.

Mount Lemmon, by the way, was named for Sara Lemmon a botanist in the late 1800s who was the first white women to climb the peak and describe and gather botanical samples from the unique biology of the range.

So anyway, I was jumping in and out of the truck to get pics of this or that and when I came back to the truck after getting the image of Thimble Peak, I felt like the guy in the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Cecilia.”

Someone had taken my place. Dog pretending he does not know I'm there nor that he is in my seat.

Someone had taken my place.

But soon we were back to the land of Saguaros.

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Saguaros are trees and this is a Saguaro forest.

By the time we got back home and were to clean up and attend another birthday party… it was ready to storm and we were exhausted.  The evening was spent watching Marlene Dietrich in Witness for the Prosecution and  then in Shanghai Express on TCM.

I’m sad that we did not make it to another friend’s birthday bash for her hubby’s 30th 39th birthday, but one of the rewards of being old enough to know better is knowing what your limits are before you have reached or exceeded them.

So that is what we did today.  Sometimes I absolutely love my experiential fortunes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Simple Life Truth

purpose and meaning of life quote by david viscott

The Quote

I ran across a variation of this quote this morning on Pinterest attributed to Shakespeare.  The quote is not by William Shakespeare.  It is by David Viscott from a 1993 publication Finding Your Strength in Difficult Times: A Book of Meditations, as best as I can tell after researching it without having a copy of the book in my grubby ol’ hands.

The Graphic

I used GIMP (gnu image manipulation program) which is an open source program, much like Photoshop, and that requires no purchase to download, to create this image.

The image of the girl reading is a public domain image from Pixabay.com.  I made the image square so it will look good when I post it on Instagram.

The Meaning

The quote itself embodies the essence of my new business project, The Women’s Legacy Project.

Small differences can change everything.  Women honestly recording their lives, just regular old life, and stories and sharing them with the world may be the biggest and best gift every given by women elders to future generations.

 

Security Recommendations for Blogging

Here a Hack, There a Hack, Everywhere a Hack, Hack

(Updated 2015 version)

In this world where hacking seems to be de rigueur, it is becoming more and more difficult and important to have a secure blog.  The attacks that began a couple years ago on WordPress sites left an especially sinister taste in my mouth. But every single node along the information superhighway can be hacked.  Heartbleed infiltrated via certain models of Cisco routing equipment.  Little guys and big guys are not safe.  Banks are robbed in real life.  Sites are hacked in real life.

It seems that there may be a staging happening for a future truly sinister attack.  I am not a conspiracy theorist! (Pardon me while I stamp my feet in vehement disagreement and adjust my tinfoil hat.) War is raging. It isn’t clear what the purpose of many of these hacking attempts might be.  This is one of the most worrisome aspects of the hacking.

But do what you can.  Keep your site up to date via software and plugins.  Don’t host abandoned sites that you aren’t keeping up on your self-hosted account just because you can.  If you have an account with a host and you have three sites on it, but two of them are just for testing or to maybe be developed in the future, and these two are not kept up to date as rigorously as your primary site – take those sites down.  They are veritable thru-ways for hackers.  Hackers want your server, not your blog.

Your chip embedded credit card info can be scanned from a distance, stolen, if you do not employ an RFID shield to protect your cards.  Mortgages, bank accounts, and credit companies have all lost private data, client data.  And these data losses are  from these major sites.

So it isn’t surprising that hundreds of thousands of smaller sites have been hacked.

Hosting

I have moved my business from a self-hosted to a managed host.   I may also be moving to another hosting company for my non-commercial site.  Because I am an impoverished blogger I will be learning how to maintain much of the site myself; it may take a while, but it will be worth it. Managed and maintained are different things in the hosting world, but I will take that on at another time.

Why am I switching?

I need a different hosting company.  I need a server company that I trust and that will be reliable and can let me know if anything looks flaky.  Fiduciary responsibility mandates I do the best I can. I need to know that I will have backup that will kick in should anything happen at their primary location.  I want a U.S. based company.  I want a company that will take it seriously if sites that share a server with me suddenly look like Swiss cheese from a security standpoint.

Many hacks of websites are simply to use the websites as tunnels to the servers.  I want to work with companies who are diligent in their attempts to foil hackers.

As a semiotic anthropologist I know something about information, more than most, but I do not know that much about computer security although I probably know a lot more than most bloggers.  This is the most straight forward account I have found of security and the current situation bloggers are facing:

While these attacks against popular content management systems are nothing new, the sudden increase is a bit worrying. Until the botnet in question is taken down, however, there is not much that can be done aside from ensuring you are taking every precaution. That includes using a solid username and password combination as well as ensuring your CMS and plugins are up-to-date.  From: The Next Web.

Tucson is a cool place that attracts cool people. That is a metaphor folks, it is hotter than blazes here in Tucson right now.  I like supporting local community, and I like supporting local businesses.  And Tucson is a blue oasis in a sea of red. And it has good karma.  People have lived here for thousands and thousands of years; some say humans have been here for over 10,000 years.  You can read more about community and good juice or strong referral and reputation credentials in the second part of my Juice, Juju, Karma, and The Business of Blogging.

It is difficult to decide what is the best platform for you.  I hate to say it, but if you are a small blogger that operates as a small business working on the solo-preneur model, you may be up a creek without a paddle.   Security costs.  Ad Sense and Etsy incomes just are not going to cover a hiring a developer to create a Drupal site for you.  (Think tens of thousands of buckos.)  If you are someone like me who is thinking about being able to sell digital downloads in the near future you know that you need a site over which you have control.  No one will take a  iwantafreewebsite.blogspot.com seriously as a major business.  If you do not have control over your own website and do not own your domain, which is  your basic online branded identity, you do not own the most important intellectual property associated with your blog.

This is why most bloggers who leave their blahblah.blogspot.com or blahblah.wordpress.com sites for self-hosted websites do so.  There are other popular platforms used for blog hosting, but WordPress has the largest percentage of the blog market. Some would argue that makes it a reason to not use WordPress as it makes it a huge target.  At one time that might have been an issue, but now with increased security and the general growth and maturity of Automattic, the company behind WordPress, the argument is moot.  The company has very specifically addressed security with the purchase and incorporation of Akismet and Brute Protect.

Most of the bloggers I interact with on a regular basis are either running collaborative sites or will be selling digital products if they are not already doing so.  With the hacking, the vast number of plugins a blogger has to use to have a sophisticated site you, it is not unreasonable to have to do several updates a week to keep up-to-date with security releases.

I was VERY uncomfortable with my attempts to create a pay site on a self-hosted WordPress site.  By the time I added up my costs for a somewhat secure framework, a responsive child theme, a payment gateway, social media, and curation plugins I am spending way too much money and time with too many different sellers, plugins and updates, for products that while they are much safer than the free versions of similar products, are by no means guaranteed to be secure.   If I am going to have to do all that I want a system where my efforts will allow me to scale up to add e-commerce, meeting software, webinar, direct feeds from my social media accounts, and integration with them for posting, and publication software.

So I am now hosting my business site through a well-established provider on which my ecommerce will be channeled on Rainmaker.  And surprise, surprise, this is a WordPress-derived platform.

As long as I own my domain, and keep backups of my content, I would rather deal with one known agent rather than a dozen vendors from who knows where.

Feel free to ask questions.  I will attempt to answer them, and if I can’t do that, I will talk to my network and get the answers.

 

 

 

 

 

Who Needs Excitement When There Is Synchronicity

Sometimes when a task has become familiar through repetition, it is difficult to be excited by it, no matter how much fun or benefit will come from completing the task.  That is where I  was a in the couple days prior to finally prepping and packing to drive on my solo road trip to the mid-west and back.

I made the decision to attend my 40th High School Class Reunion.  In and of itself, this would no longer be enough of a draw to get me to travel the almost 1900 miles to my town of birth from my home of the past 27 years.  But this trip is being made extra worthwhile as I meet my daughter in Chicago for four days of wedding planning fun after the HS reunion in Northern Indiana.

I wanted to make several other quick stops around Arizona and along the route.  Air travel, car rental, and hotel accommodations add up quickly.  This helped me inform my decision to drive there.  I enjoy driving.  I do my best thinking and can focus on planning and creating in a way that I cannot do when I am in my routine at home with cats, dog, turtle and husband and seemingly constant interruption and distraction.  I truly try to live in the moment, but have to make lists and plans even though the moment constantly teaches me that plans always change.

Eternity

He who binds to himself a joy

Does the winged life destroy

He who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity’s sunrise

                                                      – William Blake, 17571827

A beautiful lesson captured by a man born 200 years before me that still speaks as truthfully and as contemporary of a voice as the most erudite of 21st Century scholars and poets.
After spending the morning in a coffee house with good fair trade coffee and good wifi, I decided to grab a sandwich, something I have not been doing on the road.  I did this so I could proceed on to the library of my hometown and write a post or two.
Synchronicity pounces when we listen to others, to our inner voices, whims, and to the wind.
Buddha among plants trees and greeneryAs I walked in, found a table, got the wifi secured, visited the ladies room, and walked through most of the library over the course of these tasks I spotted a familiar face.  It took a moment to realize I really did know her.  My 8th grade teacher.  A woman who was a pivotal nexus of encouraging words who found a way to see and bring forth goodness and potential in so many of her students through the years.  Frances Brown though she had a different name when she was my 8th grade teacher.  Without her encouraging guidance, I do not know where I would have ended up.  I am grateful.  She recited the Blake poem for me after hearing about my Women’s Legacy Project.  
She introduced me to poetry; I wrote my first poem in her class.  She introduced me to the fragility of people and tenacity of culture by allowing me to do a huge project on the Holocaust.
And only this morning a classmate from that very same class told me, via Facebook, that Frances and she both had taught at the same school, the Woodstock School, in India.  I almost did not come to the library.  I could have easily missed her.  She never comes to the library at this time of day, though she visits many times, a week visitor.   We talked for an hour, like the best of friends,  joyous and in the moment.  She is 89.  I am 58.  Our spirits are the same age.  I am so moved, honored and thankful.
So I will continue to plan out my route casually to include some non-Interstate highways and byways so as to continue to catch wonders like those I have already visited: canyons with petroglyphs, labyrinths, archives, military cemeteries, platform mounds of Mississippian Culture.  I still have my class reunion, wedding dress shopping with my daughter, and runzas… and friends to visit.   Lots of friends.
What a wonderful gift this trip has been thus far.

 

 

 

Monday Musings

“Closed Mondays”

is the phrase on my favorite T-shirt that I haven’t seen for ages.  It is probably in a box somewhere. I cannot imagine donating my favorite shirt to Casa de los Niños. I have a bit of a challenge letting go. But as I move through life I change, I will not say evolve, as individuals do not evolve, only societies and cultures evolve, and I am more and more able to weed out keepsakes and keep fewer reminders of what has come before.  And sometimes we get smarter and more wise as we move along our life’s timeline.  Sometimes not.

I have managed to maintain a friendship with someone who irritates the hell out of me largely because there are bits of my past that I now connect with in the here and now only through him.  My best friend from early high school years died when she was 21.  Memories of those years, especially freshman year, are evoked through interaction with him.  He stirs the pot so to speak.  I remember her infectious laugh.  That is worth untold stacks of gold.

I have already lost so much of my life.  Having been isolated as a child, for me, means that only my brother Roger and Mom had any chance of remembering the same events in routine daily life that remember.  With them both gone, I have lost my social anchors to those times.  I have learned to value connection from a perspective of wisdom.  Wisdom is is only acquired through loss and pain it seems.

So people who might seem to be unlikely friends are treasures.  And sometimes they come through in the here and now too.  One such friend, as I said, suggested I stop in Tulsa today to visit the Gilcrease Museum.   Unfortunately the Gilcrease is CLOSED MONDAYS.  Sigh.

So the only art I will see today, other than green trees and grass, and the occasional stand out house of a different color with personal touches that thumb their noses at the pretty box phenomena, is the lovely view from my hotel to which I awoke.

 

Anyway, I first discovered Malvina Reynolds’ song “Pretty Boxes” through a Holly Near cover.  Perhaps it was with Ronnie Gilbert?  I can’t say for sure as I lost the connection to that part of my life, too.

So I leave you with wonderful word and music art from times gone by as I head out on what I guess is day four of this road trip, though I am only in the third 24 hour cycle.

Trip Log thus far:

Friday 3 p.m. to 8 pm.  On the road to Holbrook.

Saturday Holbrook to Rock Art Ranch then on to Moriarty, New Mexico.  I still have to review the Mexican restaurant down the street from the Best Western where I stopped for the night.

Sunday was driving, driving, driving (sung to the tune of “rolling, rolling, rolling” from the song “Rawhide.””) I stopped in Amarillo at a Barnes and Noble, conveniently located across the street from a gas station, where I purchased an audio book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which got me all the way to Oklahoma City.

Today, Monday I am starting the day out just past Oklahoma City.  I have to download an audiobook to listen to on the road today.