Posts Tagged ‘pioneers’


March 15, 2010

As previously mentioned, I’m working on a high school Arizona History curriculum, you know, in my free time.  Yeah, I’m a nerd.  But if you’ve been around My Sister’s Jar for any amount of time, you know that already.  History books make me salivate.  And old family photos, be still my heritage-loving heart.  Currently I’ve been reading about the pioneer folks who settled AZ… these were people with moxie, hardihood, pluck and mettle.  People of great strength and hardy stock.  Wow.  I read the stories of rivers flooding, houses burning, Indian attacks, unending water hauling and I realize it was an extremely difficult life… then I remember air conditioning wasn’t invented yet, adding another level of intrepidity.  Wow.

Above is a glimpse into my heritage… my Great-great Grandparents and their daughters.  GG Grandpa Bethel crossed the plains and settled in Oregon.  I know I’m partial to these attractive folks, but they seem a bit smarter than those who settled Arizona.  It’s relatively comfortable in Oregon in the summer!  Yes, it rains a lot, but then you don’t have to haul as much water and your vegetables grow into mammoth blue-ribbon-winning beauties.  And yes, there were Indians, but not the Apaches!  Mercy, they were a tough lot.

This picture isn’t dated, but my guess is 1890-something.  Both the daughters were married by 1901.  I’ve foolishly thought that I would have faired well in those times.  The more I read, I’m not so sure.  I love the outdoors, gardening and baking, sewing, being ingenuitive….. but not for survival purposes.  More like for a hobby.

Anyway, I’ll be reading AZ history books for the next nine months, so I’m sure you’ll get more thrilling information that you can pass on to others who don’t really care either.

Beauty in the Desert

July 16, 2008

Photography by ME.  Unusual for sure.  I usually lift them from Google images.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why any covered wagon settlers stopped here in the Sonoran Desert.  It just doesn’t make sense.  There was no air conditioning then, let alone swimming pools.  And from my limited knowledge of that time and practices, I think they had to travel in the summertime….  which leads me to say, “What in the world could they have been thinking?” 

Was it a completely broken down wagon… and no trees in sight… that caused them to pause here?  Or was it a botanist discovering the flowering cacti that forced his wife and chillens to stay on the dry, cracked dirt?  Or someone from the Sahara Desert who finally felt at home with the mirages and heat stroke?

I don’t mind living here… in this day and age.  It’s quite comfortable as long as you stay inside and your A/C doesn’t go out. It did take a bit of getting used to.  My first summer here, 11 years ago, I jumped into my Dad’s ’66 Mustang without moving the metal seatbelt out of the way.  I had a burned-in, blistered horse tattoo on my backside for a long while.  But we have the necessary tools of survival… NOW.  I’ve seen women driving wearing oven mitts so they don’t have to touch the steering wheel.  We have spring loaded window shades that take an ambidextrous person to collapse.  Not to mention the safety glasses necessary whilst opening them.

Today, it’s a balmy 102.  Relatively mild for July.  If I remember right, it was 118 this week last year. And I like water.  Lots of water.  Camel amounts of water.  It makes me feel… wet and cool… bloated and waterlogged.  As long as I don’t have to do yard work from May – October… I’m good with living here.

Garden Pests

June 10, 2008

There’s just something about growing food in my own backyard that creates in me a bond with my pioneering ancestors.  Just me and the dirt, a seed and God.  I feel organic, like I’m doing my part.  Ok, this is a stretch because I only have two fruit bearing species:  the never-yet-produced-anything strawberry plant that has healthy leaves… no berries, and the sickly-spindly-shriveled-leaf cherry tomato plant.  I have eaten every tomato that has come off of that pathetic plant…. with the exception of two.  One I lovingly shared with my husband, the other was a victim of a garden pest drive-by shooting.  Literally.

I had coaxed my thin waif of a plant through two ferocious wind storms that left the leaves mangled and brown.  Still I watered, talked sweetly and fertilized the cherry tomato hopeful.  Imagine my rush of pride when the first yellow blossom appeared, promising fruit.  I faithfully watered, sweet talked and protected the plant from the wind.  Eventually the little beauty appeared and grew to the size of the end of my thumb.  Daily I checked on it and watched the dark green turn pale, then yellow, orange and finally a scrumptious red.  I decided one day that the next day I would be savoring the sweet goodness.

D-Day.  I awoke feeling carefree and safe, not knowing that I had been victimized.  When I was at the kitchen sink that morning, I glanced out and the sight shocked me.  I could see the little tomato hanging on to the vine with it’s last bit of strength.  It was mutilated, I thought by birds, but I could see white dots that I assumed were insects.  Upon closer inspection, the white dots were indeed pellets from a youngster’s gun.  This was my first leaning toward gun control.  I could see how the bright red tomato was a tempting target, but for goodness sake, it was my FIRST one!  I returned to the kitchen and asked loudly, “Who shot my tomato?”  Laughter erupted.  Stern words were flung.  That was the last cherry tomato to die from gun wounds on our back patio.  Sheesh.