Tumacacori Fiesta 2014

Every first weekend in December, for 44 years, Tumacacori National Historical Park has presented two days of the Fiesta de Tumacacori. It’s a time when the community celebrates the cultural history and diversity in the Pima Alteria of southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.

TumacacoriFor the past four years I have been a volunteer at this event. This past weekend I gave two days to assist, and I had a great time. In the past I’ve photographed the dancers, musicians, and awesome views of the Santa Rita Mountains.

This year as a greeter and representative at the Tumacacori National Park Service booth I had the pleasure of presenting a new focus for the Discovery Center. The Discovery Center is a section of the fairgrounds filled with booths of hands-on activities, from writing with a quill pen to inspecting chain mail to making adobe bricks.

This year, those who visited the Discovery Center booths could receive rewards for collecting stamps on the printed programs they received when entering the fairgrounds. On returning to the NPS booth they could choose their reward based on the number of stamps they collected. The rewards were a book for five stamps, up to nine, and a metal Tumacacori water bottle for 10 or more. The smiles and giddiness of the children, and even the adults who participated were wonderful. The most selected items were the Tumacacori cook book with recipes by staff and volunteers, and the water bottles. I think it was a very successful new program for the Fiesta.

I also enjoyed talking with the members of the U.S. Border Patrol who brought a couple of horses from their horse patrol unit. These are fabulous horses that are trained to track and detain persons illegally entering the U. S. over rugged terrain. They are also trained to be around people. I took these photos of a little boy reaching out to touch them.

Boy with Horse

Mustang-Draft and Boy2This brown horse is a mustang-draft horse, a very unique breed. He is very large and requires a large rider. Currently he is backup horse and not on regular duty.

Another activity for children is the piñata. Twice daily children could try their luck. This is one of the piñatas they opened.

Pinata2For two days there was cultural food and music and dancing and demonstrations of traditional crafts such as Tohono O’odham basket weaving, making cornhusk flowers, and making leather and horsehair rope. And on Sunday there was a traditional processional and mass at the Mission of Tumacacori church.
For more information about Tumacacori National Historical Park, the horses of the U. S. Border Patrol, and the Tohono O’odham people you can visit these sites.






“Thirsty Ol’ Goats” Get Shaved for Charity

Terlingua - Cookoff 002-2Toward the end of last week my friend and I headed to Terlingua, Texas, a small western Texas town in the region of Big Bend National Park to experience the Terlingua Chili Cookoff. When we arrived we were surprised to learn that Terlingua was actually the site of two venues of chili cookoffs, one connected with the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI), and one known as the Original Terlingua International Championship Chili CookOff (OTICCC). The latter is the one we decided to attend from Thursday through Sunday, based on the admission price – $25/person versus $40/person. As it turned out we chose the venue that we had learned of when we visited Tolbert’s Restaurant in Grapevine, TX this past August. What newbies we are!

As noted on its web site, “The OTICCC is a 501(c)(3) Corporation. The purpose of our Charter is to raise Money for Charity through the Love, Appreciation and Promotion of Chili!” The charity associated with this effort is the ALS Association.

Near the Rio Grande - Big Bend Ranch State Park
Near the Rio Grande – Big Bend Ranch State Park

Borrowing from the Big Bend Now web site, “(The cookoff) was founded in 1967 by Frank X. Tolbert, a Dallas journalist and author of the chili book “A Bowl of Red,” Carroll Shelby automotive genius and innovator, and others. The first cook-off featured Wick Fowler, chili expert and Texas journalist, cooking against H. Allan Smith, a New York reporter. Wick Fowler died of ALS a few years afterwards. He is the motivation behind these efforts.”

Tents and RVs of all descriptions, untethered to any hookups, dotted the dusty hills, along with privately rented privies.  And plenty of hopeful cooks pulled out their tents, tables, cookers and ingredients to stir up batches of their delicious specialties.

Big Bend-Terlingua 002-cropped

Terlingua - Cookoff 013

The competition included not only the celebration of chili, but also beans (pintos and black-eye peas mostly), salsa, chicken, ribs, brisket, and margaritas. Finalists received their trophies in an extended and suspenseful presentation on Sunday, and winners of various raffles were announced.

A judging table - with a judge from Arizona, on left
A judging table – with a judge from Arizona, on left
Containers of chili for judging
Containers of chili for judging

Terlingua Chili - Ol' Goats 001croppedA big feature of the event is showmanship, and in the effort to raise awareness and funds for the ALS Association one group found a unique way to do so. Within the cooking team of “Pants on the Ground” several members began growing goatees. They called themselves Thirsty Ol’ Goats, and for about six months while competing in other chili events they let their chin hair grow. On Friday they auctioned off Thirsty Ol’ Goat aprons, and whoever won an apron also won the honor of cutting off a Thirsty Ol’ Goat’s beard.

Thirsty Ol' Goats - Before
Thirsty Ol’ Goats – Before

Following submission of the final entries by chili competitors at high noon on Saturday, the apron winners met at the Thirsty Ol’ Goats’ “Barber Shop” to shave their ‘goat’. Now, these opportunities don’t come cheaply! One apron went for $2300! And then there was the counter bid to keep one of the Thirsty Ol’ Goats from getting shaved. The counter bid was final at $1700, in addition to the apron winner’s bid (which happened to be from the Thirsty Ol’ Goat’s wife who really wanted that goatee to come off!)

Outbidded - Hubby kept his goatee
Outbid – Hubby kept his goatee

Thirsty Ol' Goats - After
Thirsty Ol’ Goats – After

As things progressed, we had the bearded lady who attached a goatee to her chin and then had it trimmed. She wore it until the end of the event. And the Thirsty Ol’ Goat who had to keep his goatee had his head shaved – by his wife. Another participant also got his head shaved – I only saw it with the ‘Mohawk’ cut, and I don’t know if he went totally shaved.

His shirt says it all.
His shirt says it all.
The Mohawk
The Mohawk

So, all in the name of Fun, and with the spirit of charity, the OTICCC raised approximately $35,000-$40,000 (maybe more) to benefit the ALS Association.

Other venues at this event offered Bear Whiz (I think it was apple cider), and a chili history museum. My friend and I even had the opportunity to judge the black-eye pea entries – 14 in all at our table. We are now doing research into how we can enter these contests ourselves – Yikes!

I was tagged - "You've been Bear Whizzed"
I was tagged – “You’ve been Bear Whizzed”

Here are some links that might be of interest.
Tolbert’s Restaurant – http://www.tolbertsrestaurant.com/about/about.htm

OTICCC – http://www.abowlofred.com/news.htm

Article at Big Bend Now – http://bigbendnow.com/2014/10/two-terlingua-chili-cookoffs-this-weekend/

ALS Association – http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html

Granny’s Helmet

Two things: First, I’m happy to have my blog back, even though I thought I’d lost it, and moved on to create another, new one! Second, I didn’t plan to write about this subject, but it just came up today.

001Helmet croppedAs some of you know I’ve begun a new friendship with a traveling man. Two weeks ago we completed a three-week trip through Texas, and I would say that we handled our “shakedown cruise” pretty well. We are planning to leave in a few days on another trip, this time to California, where my friend will be in a scooter race. After the race, which is around the Salton Sea, he wanted to explore the area, with me possibly seated behind him. In order to do that I would have to find a helmet to wear.

In the last few days I’ve been browsing through Craigslist here and tracking down leads for a reasonably priced, undamaged, used motorcycle helmet. Today I followed through on some of the contacts and managed to make an appointment to meet someone tomorrow who has two. It would be necessary for me to travel to the other end of town, nearly to Marana to see them. But I agreed.

In the meantime, I contacted a seller much closer to my home. This morning I texted him my interest in his posting, and he said I could see it after 3:30 this afternoon. When he asked me where I wanted to meet, I suggested in front of the nearest Fry’s grocery store at 4:00, to which he agreed. I told him I was a short granny with very short, white hair, and I would be waiting out front.

As I needed cash for the transaction I picked up a couple of items, got my money, and went outside to wait, sitting in a rocking chair just outside the store entry. At 4:20 I texted the seller that I had been waiting for 20 minutes and asked if he was coming. He texted me back and said he was sorry, he’d be there in 10 minutes, in a white truck. Within a few minutes I saw a white truck, and then got another text asking where my car was. I responded that I wasn’t in a car, (by that time I was standing outside on the curb.)

I saw the white truck make another circle around the parking lot, and as he pulled by the front entry I waved, and he waved back. He stopped and I went over to speak to him. He said he was sorry…that he didn’t think a granny would be wanting a motorcycle helmet. I told him he just didn’t know what grannies could do! I suggested he pull into a parking spot so we could talk.

So he got parked and I walked over to his truck. He was a nice-looking Hispanic male somewhere in his 40s, I’d say. He said he was so skeptical about the sale because he didn’t trust that a granny would be wanting a helmet, and he thought his son’s friends were playing a prank on him. So funny!!! I told him I felt he was being hesitant throughout our texts. He was just too wary! I told him that I was planning to ride with my friend and I needed a helmet. I said I was a granny not an old woman!

We chatted a short time about how we both live near the high school, and that my friend’s neighbor’s boy plays football for the team and we’d been going to the games. He shared that his son wants to be a doctor and he moved from his mother’s home in New Mexico to establish residency in Arizona so he could take medical courses at the University of Arizona.

I tried the helmet on – a good fit, and when I asked if he would take less than the posted price he lowered it by $10. It was a perfect fit for me both on my head and with my pocket book. Overall, a great ending to my search!

Aviator Women

USS LexingtonWhile traveling in Texas last month I visited the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier permanently anchored in Corpus Christi, TX, that has been designated an historic landmark for its service in World War II.

As I indicated in my previous post about the WASP, I’m interested in continuing to raise consciousness about women and their achievements. This post is similar in that many people may not be aware of women’s service in the U. S. Navy, Air Force and transport services, especially during WWII, coming forward to modern times.

On the USS Lexington, in the self-guided tour of Deck 3, where the Captain’s Quarters are located, one of the exhibits included the donated uniform of Jacqueline Escovar Allen, a former crew member. The description of the exhibit states, “The first women Naval Aviator qualified aboard Lexington in September 1981. The last arrested landing aboard Lexington in March 1991 was made by a woman.” (An arrested landing is one that is caught by the cables on the carrier).




As I have followed links on the Internet to learn more, I have become intrigued by the amount of information available about aviator women, and women in the field of aviation in general. I was surprised to learn about Marilyn Monroe who worked for Radioplane, a drone manufacturing factory before being “discovered”. Marilyn had married James Dougherty who entered the Merchant Marine in 1943.

“While Dougherty served in the Merchant Marine, his wife began working in the Radioplane Munitions Factory, mainly spraying airplane parts with fire retardant and inspecting parachutes. The factory was owned by movie star Reginald Denney.[23] During that time, David Conover of the U.S. Army Air Forces’ 1st Motion Picture Unit was sent to the factory by his commanding officer, future U.S. president Captain Ronald Reagan to shoot morale-boosting photographs for Yank, the Army Weekly magazine of young women helping the war effort.[24] He noticed her and snapped a series of photographs, none of which appeared in Yank magazine,[25] although some still claim this to be the case. He encouraged her to apply to The Blue Book Modeling Agency. She signed with the agency and began researching the work of Jean Harlow and Lana Turner. ”

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marilyn_Monroe)

See also:



As I continued my browsing I found a page related to military women aviator “firsts”. For instance, Patricia Denkler Rainey was the first woman to land a “fleet/combat” A-6 Intruder on an aircraft carrier in August 1982. USN LT Robin Erichsen was the first female to be qualified as a ‘shooter’ on a US Navy aircraft carrier. The ‘shooter’ is the officer responsible for the launching of an aircraft from a carrier. She qualified in 1991 and was then assigned to the USS Lexington and the USS Forrestal. Captain Lee Little, USN (ret) was the first woman commander of an aviation wing. She commanded Training Wing 6 in Pensacola, which provides primary flight training for Naval Flight Officers, Weapons Systems Officers, and International Flight Officers. Lee served on a carrier during the first Gulf War. (Source: http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/firsts4.html)


First Woman Thunderbird Pilot, Lt. Col. Nicole Malachowski


McSallyAnother of the first American women to fly in combat in the ’90s was Lt Col.Martha McSally, ranked as the top female Air Force pilot at that time. Lt Col McSally was among the first women trained by the Air Force as a fighter pilot. During a 1995-96 tour of duty in Kuwait, she became the first woman in military history to fly a combat sortie in a fighter aircraft. She also flew more than 100 combat hours on an A-10 Warthog attack plane over Iraq in the mid-1990s, and served as a flight commander and trainer of combat pilots. (Source: http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/pilots.html) (McSally is a resident of Tucson, AZ and is currently running for Congress from Legislative District 2 in the 2014 elections.)

For information about the first female aviators in the Navy, go to

And there is also a wonderful web site about Women Military Aviators, http://www.womenmilitaryaviators.org/

As I’ve researched the topic of women fliers, it’s become clear that I will be posting a Part 2 to this topic. As a teaser, please see this 2009 article by Kira Cochran of the The Guardianhttp://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/03/early-women-aviators.

And please look for Part 2 on my blog Views from the Edge. These women definitely lived and are living on the edge!

The WASP Nest

WASP Museum croppedI recently began another explorative journey with a travel partner, and on Monday we left Tucson with a small toy-hauler, loaded with two recumbent trikes, in tow behind the pickup, heading for parts of Texas, mostly unknown to me.

On Wednesday, as we drove toward Dallas, we saw the sign that read “WASP Museum”, located in Sweetwater, Texas. Being curious, we took a small detour and stopped there, at Avenger Field, the training ground for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II.

The information about these brave and adventurous women is astounding. The museum has handprints of many of the women who earned their wings to fly several different aircraft, often as the first pilots of the aircraft.


In 2010 NPR did a story on these women who filled the void of pilots needed during the war. You can read it at http://www.npr.org/2010/03/09/123773525/female-wwii-pilots-the-original-fly-girls

As mentioned in the article President Obama signed a bill awarding the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor given by the U. S. Congress. Although this was a civilian award, the WASP eventually were given military status in the 1970s.

Upon graduation from their pilot training they received their silver wings…Wasp Logo

The WASP wings–perhaps the most unique wings in all the world, were designed for the WASP–with a diamond in the center that symbolizes the shield of Athena–Greek goddess of war, take center stage on the floor of the hangar. Standing at the top of the WASP Wings is a bronze statue of Fifinella loaned to the museum by the Sweetwater Woman’s Forum. ( http://waspmuseum.org/about/)

Rather than paraphrase the history of how Fifinella became the mascot of the WASP, here is the explanation provided by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gremlins):

Fifinell 2

The Gremlins is a children’s book, written by Roald Dahl and published in 1943.[1] It was Dahl’s first children’s book, and was written for Walt Disney Productions, as a promotional device for a feature-length animated film that was never made.

The story concerns mischievous mythical creatures, the Gremlins of the title, often invoked by Royal Air Force pilots as an explanation of mechanical troubles and mishaps.[4] In Dahl’s book, the gremlins’ motivation for sabotaging British aircraft is revenge of the destruction of their forest home, which was razed to make way for an aircraft factory. The principal character in the book, Gus, has his Hawker Hurricane fighter destroyed over the English Channel by a gremlin, but is able to convince the gremlins as they parachute into the water that they should join forces against a common enemy, Hitler and the Nazis, rather than fight each other.

Eventually, the gremlins are re-trained by the Royal Air Force to repair rather than sabotage aircraft, and restore Gus to active flight status after a particularly severe crash.[N 3] The book also contains picturesque details about the ordinary lives of gremlins: baby gremlins, for instance, are known as widgets, and females as fifinellas, a name taken from the great “flying” filly racehorse Fifinella, that won both the Epsom Derby and Epsom Oaks in 1916, the year Dahl was born.

Fifinella WASP“It was “The Order of Fifinella” and Fifinella, of course, was our little good gremlin that took care of us and sat on our wings, supposedly. Walt Disney made the design and we got permission to use it and that’s how we started “The Order of Fifinella.” ~ Faith Buchner Richards, 43-W-4, Oral History (http://www.twu.edu/library/wasp-fifinella.asp)

Too often women’s history has been moved aside, allowed to fade, only to become almost a myth, it seems to me. So stumbling onto this museum has given me the motivation to once again put at the forefront a women’s history of powerful, brave, adventurous, and daring women who prevailed during a difficult time in this country’s history. These women were the women of my mother’s generation. They stepped forward into a “man’s world” to show that they could achieve on an equal basis the same as  men, and maybe more.


Child’s Play

tinkeringWhen I was a kid I lived in a wooded subdivision of Northern Virginia where you could skin your knees on the dirt and gravel main road, catch your sweater or your overalls on a barbed wire fence, collect ticks in your hair, and get eaten alive by chiggers. When I was a kid we played ‘fort’ and ‘cowboys and Indians’, in the woods behind our houses, hiding in the trees that were downed by bulldozers to make way for a new home in the neighborhood. And we would rearrange the junk, the off-casts from our own homes, for playing ‘house’.

We walked to the best hills for sledding in the winter, feeling protected by the watchful eyes of the neighbors, even as they drove through the ice and snow, knowing we were oblivious sometimes to their presence. We skipped along creeks, curious about what lurked there – frogs, box turtles, salamanders, and other creepy crawlies.

My parents, mostly my mother, didn’t want us in the house when she was home, and in her hair. “Go out and play!” was her mournful cry. Too much kid noise! Too much fighting, (probably for her attention, for which going outside didn’t help…)

When my daughter was a young Girl Scout, in an urban troop, the group went ‘camping’. Now, my daughter didn’t really take to scouting much, and I supported her in quitting when I went to pick her up from such an event, and learned that camping required being careful about germs. OMG! Germs! My parents knew we’d be living in the woods, and would be attacked by ticks. They took us to the health department for tick shots…We never thought about having germs.

In efforts to avoid lawsuits and making play ‘easier’ for children, and less dangerous, over the years children’s play areas and activities have been sanitized. And as technology has created visual stimulation ad infinitum for child and adult alike, it seems that the life skills needed for a healthy, well-balanced personality have been curtailed by indoor activity. Even schools have removed recess, where kids are free to run, uninhibited, on a playground, under the watchful eye of an adult.

As a student of urban planning I once did some research for creating parks and playgrounds where children could explore building things. Alas, building things would mean using tools – dangerous tools – like hammers, nails, screw drivers, saws, wire, knives…just name it.  I thought about a place where kids could learn social skills, and learn to create and work together, as well as learning how to use tools they might need as adults.

In many ways our culture has sanitized play and learning, and even the love of being children. So I was delighted to hear on NPR’s TED Radio Hour this morning about someone who decided that kids need to learn about the ‘dangers’ of childhood.

In his interview Gever Tulley says, “I was sitting around a table with some friends from the office at a corporate Christmas party; we had all just been talking about the kinds of adventures we had as children tromping around in the woods by ourselves, getting poison oak and bruising our shins. And then I asked them, how are you making sure that your kids have these kinds of experiences? And the immediate and clear response for most of the table was, oh, well, we barely survived childhood. That’s hardly appropriate for children today.

So Tulley created the Tinkering School, outside of San Francisco (www.tinkeringschool.com). It’s a place where kids can learn skills and create, and build self-confidence. The basic philosophy includes three assumptions:

  • 1) Kids are more capable than they know
  • 2) The freedom to fail is essential, and
  • 3) It can be done bigger and bolder.

Tulley says, “To this day, we’ve never needed much more than a Band-Aid. But the truth is, in an environment where the children realize, like, this is the opposite of being overprotected, we suddenly see the children take much more responsibility for themselves.”

I know that I would not have acquired the skills I have with tools without observing my father, and him allowing me to try some of them out. I haven’t tried a circular saw, but I do have and use a hand saw, a power drill, and other hand tools.

Although I wasn’t crazy about wearing overalls and going outside, especially on a hot, muggy day, I did find ways to spend my time, learning about nature. And nature is not all that ‘clean’ or sanitized. It can be downright dangerous, too. Kids need to learn that, not through trauma, but through healthy risk taking. That is child’s play.

Note: Photo from Tinkering School blog.

A Feminist Declaration

A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” ~ Gloria Steinem

This morning I listened to Diane Rehm’s interview of Danielle Allen about her book, Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality. On the air Ms. Allen read the full Declaration of Independence, and as I listened I thought about the injustices that women these days could declare independence from.

Then later, I listened to a radio interview with Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer, regarding immigration and the ‘crisis’ of all the children fleeing their homes, mostly from Guatemala, many of them finding shelter in southern Arizona. In my view she mostly spouted GOP ‘talking points’, refusing to really answer the questions presented to her. She took the opportunity to bash the current White House administration with the typical ‘memes’ of her political party about immigration policy. While I’m not surprised, I am disappointed that she couldn’t back off from her political post and ‘be real’.

She looks tough, she talks tough, and she acts tough. I wonder who she really is. Everyone has a story, and she does, too. So although I’m speculating about her, as a woman of a certain age myself, her story can’t be too different from mine. So as a woman, I wonder what has she had to live through to get where she is today? What has she given up for her position; how has she compromised her real self? Her decisions for the women in Arizona have been harmful, in my view, and I wonder why.

Francel Wright

Equality is the soul of liberty; there is, in fact, no liberty without it.”
Frances Wright

Women have been ‘fighting’ for equality since Adam and Eve, although according to some biblical scholars these two were created equal in the beginning. I’m not going into any diatribe about religious views, but I totally support the notion that men and women are equal, and different. One is not better than the other in terms of human value.

In his book A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, Jimmy Carter reviews the different ways that his Carter Center promotes women and supports their efforts to have fulfilled, satisfactory lives, even within the current paradigm of a still patriarchal global system. He writes, “We who are more privileged are not deliberately perpetuating our status at the expense of others, but we rarely wish to confront or be involved in the problem.

I’m not sure Jimmy is right in this comment, as I think that many times those who are perpetuating harm to others, mostly women and children, are mindful in some way of the true consequences of their behavior/actions. They appear unconscious, however, while they pursue their own agendas for power. And this includes both men and women, even religious ones. The ‘privileged’ are most often removed from the knowledge of the daily lives of the rest of us, and see themselves ‘above’ others. Again, this often includes women.

I am continually amazed at the number of women who venture into political realms who take stands on women’s health that are harmful to women and families. Where are they coming from? Many times it’s about ‘judgment’ and criticism of those who do not have resources – those who are ‘less than’. Of course, one must also follow the party’s position on these things when making legislative decisions. And I’m continually amazed at the number of men and women who profess Christianity who would put their standards on all women, while eschewing those same standards for themselves. They hold themselves up as models, while causing harm to other humans – how is this loving your neighbor as yourself?

And this question brings me to the following links that my friend researched and posted on facebook in response to the rants that followed the Hobby Lobby decision by the SCOTUS. There have been many postings by many organizations and thousands of people about how unfair to women this decision is, not to mention sexist. And there has been a lot of concern about whether or why women need to fight for their rights yet again. Is there a backsliding of support for women within our society? Do younger girls and women have information about the work of the women’s generations before them to gain rights they take for granted?

While it seems like it shouldn’t be, the reality is that women still need to be constantly vigilant, not resting, not being complacent, while laws and policies continue to erode the rights that women have fought for, and deserve. They should not be tied down by legislation that creates hardship, and that places barriers to taking responsibility for their own lives and health care.

So, to remember where we have been, and to support independence from societal dominance, here are some places to remind us of our rights and responsibilities – those foremost being to ourselves as women.

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2010/03/12/the-1960s-a-decade-of-change-for-women   The 1960s: A Decade of Change for Women

People & Events: Mrs. America: Women’s Roles in the 1950s

The Women’s Room is a novel by American feminist author Marilyn French, published in 1977. The Women’s Room has been described as one of the most influential novels of the modern feminist movement.

1960’s – 1980’s Women’s Liberation Movement

Second-wave feminism is a period of feminist activity that first began in the early 1960s in the United States, and eventually spread throughout the Western world. In the United States the movement lasted through the early 1980s.

The Women’s Movement

Perhaps we should read the Declaration of Independence, inserting our own words, declaring our true equality and independence from the limitations placed on us by unjust actions. It’s a delicious idea to me!


Adventures on the Road to Discovery