Our wildlife sighting adventure in the Apache Blue Range Primitive Area

IMG_7264I saw a black bear cub today. I caught a brown Trout. I went to New Mexico and back into Arizona on a fire road through a spot on the map called Blue, Arizona.  I saw the white Blue Cowbells in the meadows next to the stream that is the Blue river. I saw bull and doe Elk and several of their young.  I walked the bed of the windy Blue and parked a chair along it’s banks to watch my boys roll up their pants and stick their bottoms in the air searching for crawdads. They say they caught a grand-daddy!  I walked over a set of stairs put in place by citizen conservationist from the 1930’s to lead the way to a hidden area of petroglyphs along the rocky formations next to the Blue.  And I ended the day watching my sons catch and release Apache Trout from a hidden lake tucked away in a hole surrounded by Pine, Spruce and Aspen trees.

Tonight’s our last night at Hannagan Meadow Lodge. We haven’t taken a family vacation in 6 years and this is only our second family vacation, so I don’t have a lot to compare it to. But it’s the best so far!

Every year I usually take the boys to Oregon and Redding, California to visit family. They usually stay for a month with my sister, but this year we broke tradition and the boys went to ZONA camp at Biola University for a week and we all (husband included) went on a much needed family vacation to the beautiful high country in Eastern Arizona. And I am so glad we did.  I wrote 4 poems here. Took up watercolors (I won’t quit my day job) and wrote a list of observations at several places we visited. The time out here has been inspiring, refreshing, quiet and adventurous at the same time.

Hannagan Meadow Lodge, where we rented a cabin, is at 9000 feet elevation along the historic Coronado Trail (a.k.a. Devil’s Highway- it used to be labeled Hwy 666) in Arizona’s Blue Range Primitive Area. About a five minute car ride from Hannagan Meadow is hidden Aker Lake.  I painted two of my water colors there and wrote two poems there. You drive down a forest service road into a valley were at the bottom is a natural, small lake, tucked all around with green grass, Pine, Spruce and Aspen trees. There’s a simple wooden sign at the lake instructing fishermen: Single barbed hook and artificial lures, catch and release only. Aker is full of Apache and Brown Trout as well Greylings. My boys took a fly fishing lesson the first day we were there from Wendy, a pro-angler and sweet, intelligent, strong, active woman. So glad she taught my boys.  Now their hooked!  They want to get their own fly fish gear.

There is so much more I could tell you about this trip. I told my husband I want to write a memoir about it. But I’ll leave you with a list of wildlife (I don’t know all their scientific names, so some of this list is just a description) I personally observed in the past 72 hours. As well as some pictures from our wildlife siting adventure in the Apache-Sitegraves Blue Range Primitive Area.

Black and white butterflies

Monarch butterflies

Bright orange butterflies

Black/white swallows?

Finches with yellow breast

Bull elk (4 of them)

Cow elk (I lost count… more than 20)

Baby elk

Mule deer

Big-horned sheep

Swallows (and their babies in a nest on our cabin’s porch)


Brown Trout

Apache Trout


Grey squirrels

Dragon flies

Red breasted Robin

Bald eagle


Wild turkey

Black bear cub






Sundays just aren’t the same

It’s really beautiful out tonight.

I broke the normal Sunday night routine of dishes, laundry and dispatching children to the shower to get ready for work and school on Monday to come sit out on the patio and think, which means write, for a bit.

I’m really bummed about how Sunday’s have turned out for me and my family.

This summer it will have been 2 years (I think) since my church peacefully parted ways. Our small number of families set out to find a new church family and our pastor followed the call on his life to teach… all over the world. Between baseball tournaments for Connor and my work schedule, I have been at church maybe 2 Sunday’s a month at most. When I do go, it’s not always at the same place. We just haven’t settled anywhere.

 I want to find a church with a Saturday or midweek worship so that if baseball or my work schedule don’t allow us to go on Sunday we still have a chance to meet. This weekend was one of those weekends when neither Saturday nor Sunday would have worked for church since Connor had a tournament that extended into the evening Saturday and took up the morning on Sunday. And it’s nearly unheard of to have a Sunday evening service anymore. I miss that. Growing up we were at church Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night. Not that that makes you special or a better person, but it’s just so refreshing to pause from the business of daily life to have dedicated times (multiple times, not 1 hour on Sunday morning) when you can go hear the preaching of God’s word and join with others in worship. I miss it. A lot.

We have fun baby goats running and jumping around out there in the goat yard. Six in total. Five are bucklings (male goats). And a lone baby girl (doeling). We’ll keep the doeling. All the bucklings will be wethered (castrated) and sold. I wanted to try raising some of the boys for meat, but I’m having a really hard time thinking about actually carrying that plan out. And my macho-man husband isn’t helping. When I told him my idea about raising them until 8 months of age and then having them butchered, he protested. He can’t handle the idea of eating something he watched grow in our backyard. That’s the whole point actually… to know where your food comes from and that it was raised in an ethical and healthy way. But it is hard. I think I could go through with it, as long as I don’t have to do the killing (and I won’t), but I’m still undecided. I’ll probably put them up for sale, knowing they’ll be somebody’s barbecue, and if the don’t sell, I’ll destine them for the freezer in 8 months.  I’ll probably have to schedule that freezer day on a day when my husband’s at work… he’ll have no idea when dinner’s served.

Goats Make Soap Co. had our last booth at the Momma’s Organic Farmer’s Market at Parkwest in Peoria yesterday.  We were invited to be regular’s next year.  I don’t know what we’re going to do over the summer.  We’ve developed a regular customer base, and for now we are able (just barely) to keep up with the demand for our soaps and lotions.  Time is the issue.  Working full-time, raising sons, married life, goat farming… our days are full. We’re discussing making a formal business plan.  We’re also planning to approach Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Tractor Supply and Ace Hardware about become a vendor so that our soaps will be stocked in their stores… at least in Arizona.  That’s a HUGE deal.  Only because I have no idea how it works and I’m confident it’ll require equipment to make much larger batches of soap and packaging that’s suitable for store shelves.  We’ll make the plans.  The Lord will direct the steps.

Connor has taken his first paying job as a farm-hand for a neighbor to do evening farm chores once a week.  She has twice as many goats as we do and a much more extensive (and beautiful) homestead going on.  I’m really proud of him.  The foundation is starting to get a frame.  The ditch I started digging when he was a baby is starting to take form.  I’ve been raising a man, not a boy these 13 years.  I pray with even more desperation and fervency for the next 13.  Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain.



I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.- Psalm 9:1

(My guy’s current project: a small barn)

It’s Thanksgiving eve and the house is asleep. We have a couple of young guests tonight. My friend had surgery today and so we got to hang out with her kiddos (two of them anyway). It’s been a good night.

My feet are swollen from standing for too long and I didn’t deal with a situation between my boys and my husband tonight, so I’m ready to put my feet up and call it a day but, as David said, my heart smote me.  Dealing with conflict between children and husband is hard, especially when you feel your husband is in the wrong.  There was a time when I would have said nothing and pouted.  But now I feel I’ve swung the other direction, I’m not afraid to speak up, but when I do, it doesn’t seem to be helping anything.  Conflict resolution is not my forte.  Praying for grace to do it better.

So the verse at the top.  I’ve been thinking about it all day.  What if I really took time to recount ALL of the Lord’s wonderful deeds?  I need to give it a go.  Last year I put plates full of construction paper pieces on the table along with a marker and large plate in the middle of the table so each person at the table could write a thing or two or three they were thankful for and put in the platter before we started eating the meal.  This year, I’m going to try to fill that plate with my Lord’s wonderful deeds.

He created the universe with his words. He holds the universe together by his words.  From the most remote star to the smallest organism in the bottom of the ocean, He thought it up and brought it into being.  He created human beings to be Imago Dei.  In His image.  Imagers of God.  Even me. He saw me in my fallen dead-to-him state and drew me to himself and made me alive to the beauty and wonder of God in the face of Christ.


There’s a start.

Happy Thanksgiving peoples.