Trends in Writing, The Arts, Regional Events, and High Desert Living

Posts by A Flair For Words

How Can You Hate Halloween Bats?

Halloween bats are not your biggest fear for tonight.

bat rescue babies on clothesline

How Can you Hate Halloween Bats?

Bats are night fliers, sure, but they don’t really bite humans, they only come out at night to eat bugs that bug you. Aren’t these cute? In a rescue clinic down in Australia, they place them in little mini-sleeping bags and hang on a clothesline while they grow up. Ah … how cute!!

Bats Get a Bad Reputation

Yes, I did have a friend who freaked out when a bat got stuck in her hair. But she was getting out of a pool at dusk when the bats love to swoop down over water surfaces. They use their radar-like aerial system to fly fast and avoid hitting objects. She got out of the pool just as the bats were arriving to dinner hunting time. They didn’t know she was a dinner guest.

Not a Halloween Bat in sight!

Then in a panic, she swatted at the bat that got tangled in her hair even more. Panic of the other gals screaming while exiting the pool just caused more hysteria. And sure enough, the little scared bat bit her. I won’t go into the details here — but she survived. Although she does avoid pools … at night … in the summer … in the desert.

They weren’t even Halloween bats.

Like I said, your biggest fear should be those smelly, lurking zombies.

What’s up with that?

 

Rusty LaGrange

Goldstone Hosts Employee Family Day

Deep Space Family Day

Capturing signals from Deep Space is an interesting concept. Traveling out to Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex north of Barstow is an adventure.

Deep Space Complex, Goldstone CA

A sunset like none other through Goldstone Dish

Families whose fathers or mothers work out at Goldstone get to share the adventure with the next generation of rocket scientists? – we can only hope.

Space suits

Museum holds early space suits

Everyone wants to stare at the behemoth 70 meter dish — dish just isn’t the right word for the gigantic signal collector  — one of the largest in the world!

Goldstone Entertainment

All Ages

All Ages get to see Goldstone

Columbus Day, being a day off for most school children, was the perfect day to visit the canyons full of giant satellite dishes, roam through the Museum, and get free lunch.

martial arts

Guiterrez Martial Arts students demonstrate the floor routines

 

 

 

 

 

Martial Arts students

Martial Arts students

 

 

 

For entertainment, Goldstone admin and staff hosted Gutierrez Martial Arts students, who presented their floor exercises and routines; offered a close-up look at Ft. Irwin’s fire engine and police cruisers; and, held a Halloween costume parade for prizes.

Carpooling to see the sights

Families carpooled to the 70 meter dish

Tours

Interested in a tour of the complex with your family, civic group, or club? Just go to : www.gdscc.nasa.gov and look for the tour info or call Contact: Leslie Cunkelman
(760) 255-8688 or email directly to  gdscc.tours@jpl.nasa.gov

space suits

SUITS — past space trips

Rusty LaGrange

connect with me at www.RustyLaGrange.com

 

 

Cyber Crooks Hope You Make a Typo

Geneaology

A typo can lead you to Cyber Hackers and danger

Cyber thieves, ransomware, typosquatting– “om” my!

The latest ploy cyber crooks are using to spread ransom-ware and other types of computer malware to provide them with remote access to PCs and Macs or to steal log-in credentials, is to catch you making mistakes. After buying domain names with a missing or misplaced letter in website addresses belonging to well-known companies, they simply wait for you to make a typo. READ MORE »

“Forever Wild Sanctuary” Unscathed from Blue Cut Wild Land Fire

From Out of the Ashes

If you sat spellbound watching the news as the devastating wildfire raced into the High Desert, you were most likely wondering how any thing could survive.

The good news is that many homes and ranches in the Oak Hills and Phelan areas were spared. And where fire encroached deeper into the neighborhoods, fire fighting units deployed men and equipment to stand fast against the blast furnace-like flames. One critical non-profit business that I wondered about was Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary  — their close proximity to the fire and ash.

Defending the Sanctuary

Ready to Defend, a unit of fire equipment is stationed in the neighborhood.

READ MORE »

El Tropical Adds a Breeze of Latin Cuisine

A Nice Hide-Away Spot for Breakfast or Lunch

El Tropical sits in a hide-away spot near Nick’s Pizza and Stater Bros in Apple Valley on Bear Valley Road. You may not see it the first time around. Follow the strip of stores beginning with Nick’s and at the end you’ll find the cafe.

You can dine outside like a bistro or head inside to comfortable large booths.

Cafe in Apple Valley

El Tropical Coffee Shop and more

 

READ MORE »

Scenic 247 Route Moving into Approval ?

News around the High Desert can arrive in little gentle gusts of wind or full-blown twisters. In this case, the news about Scenic 247  is subtle and growing in a ground swell of political emotion.

Scenic routes and corridors can be a very good thing for remote locations like Barstow, Lucerne Valley, Johnson Valley, Flamingo Heights, Landers, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, and Twentynine Palms. They bring attention to natural attributes that desert communities can extol. Getting the politicians to jump on board is exciting.

vistas are what visitors crave

Scenic 247 offers visitors a vast stretch of pristine vistas

READ MORE »

Crayon in Hand — Create a Colorful Poem

National  Poetry Month and

Our Poetry Contest Continues

If you’ve ever sat to color with your siblings or your own children, you’ll notice that they usually grasp the brightest color on the table. They start with youthful enthusiasm.

Then, depending on their age, they pull back on the light glowing in their eyes and they

crayon color choices

Does Your Poetry Feel Like Pudgy Fingers Holding a Stubby Crayon?

become more thoughtful, more aware of their choice of color and where they use it. They also become more self-conscious of what they are doing in front of you.

Do they ask what color to use? Do they sort through them to find a better one? Do they find the challenge of getting the crayon to stay inside the lines? Do they give up because it’s too hard?

Simple Structure

These decisions are mostly made by the environmental influences of how others are perceiving them. Freedom of creativity is only free in your mind. We have too many other influences that can redirect us from our poetry goals. Choose your colors wisely and determine what message you are trying to convey. Stay focused and choose the form that works for you. Stay inside the lines but don’t be afraid to experiment, too.

Do you feel awkward and clumsy when trying to write a poem? Maybe it’s because you haven’t felt you could create something  worthy of calling it a poem. Poems come in all shapes and purposes. We place meaningful restrictions on ourselves — for no apparent reason. We demand better of ourselves, even when we don’t know why. It’s no surprise that so many writers don’t become poets. Crafting a poem is different than writing a story — even though they seem so similar.

This reminds me of my favorite Haiku poem in grade school. First, let me explain that Wayne (not his name) was a clown in class and always tried to get everyone to laugh out loud so they would get in trouble — not him. But when it came to the new stuff like Haiku and poetry in general, most boys whined but Wayne hunted for his best victim to taunt into laughter. Wayne was a brat.

Haiku, as an easy Oriental poem structure, has a simple form of three lines with five syllables in the first and third lines, and seven in the middle. It forces young minds to see a form and it offers shortness to adhere to their creativeness without beleaguering it.

Easy and Fast

So with our assignment in hand, we were told to come back the next day with a Haiku poem and the best five would be read in front of the class. Wayne sulked in the back of the room. He didn’t like the assignment or how the students were showing so much interest in a stupid poem. He couldn’t bait anyone to start giggling.

The next day our teacher announced that she had never seen such wonderful Haiku poems in all the classes she ever taught. She told us how much she enjoyed reading them and specifically she wanted to share her favorite right away.

This is a Haiku from Wayne:

Dum De Dum De Dum

I’m not the creative type.

Dum De Dum De Dum

Even though he thought he was being clever and silly, he accomplished what all of us wish to do — become memorable 50 years later. He fulfilled his assignment, and I love him for that, wherever he is.

Please consider entering our annual poetry contest, (Go to Contest Page above) whether you are a pro at contests, or if this is your first time, half the fun is sharing what you’ve created from within yourself.

And maybe you’ll be memorable 50 years  from now.

Rusty LaGrange

National Poetry Month — Create a Poem

Poem about Trail

Create a Poem From an Experience

A Poem is Not Rocket Science

I thought this might be a good time  to explain some of the creative ways poets bring a new poem to life. Your first experience with poem construction probably came in grade school classes where rhymed poems and maybe Haiku was introduced.

Poetry is foreign to many of our minds at that age — even though children create songs and play rhymes all the time when they’re not in school. Sometimes it’s the teacher that brings the love of poetry to them — other times the dread of “poetry time” is all consuming,  almost like taking a test.

Later you may have been introduced to “free-verse” where you don’t need to rhyme at all. But that doesn’t make it easier. Some poem crafters of free-verse work on it for weeks looking for the right words to convey their deep feelings, intellect, or concept.

Create a Poem From an Emotional Experience

Think about a special situation that brought your feelings into raw perspective. Let’s say you hiked a mountain trail and it was a life changing experience.

Now take those thoughts and write them down. Put them in chronological order or mix them with the level of emotion you felt. Find some strong emotional words with good visual meaning. Try to use your natural senses as motivation to help others understand how you feel: see, smell, touch, taste, hear. Use them all if you can. Make it a free-verse. Have fun with it.

So I thought about my first time I climbed to the cliff top trail of Bright Angel in Grand Canyon. I struggled with the idea of even going. You’ll see how I tried to talk myself out of it. (My excuses are part of the poem) I made plenty of excuses in my head. Everyone has a photo of that point. Millions have been there. Why bother? For me, the weather was growing stormy. I really should have gone back to the car but my sister and I were on the last days of vacation. We just had to go see — take a chance — it might be worth it.

Bright Angel Trail

I struggled to get here.

The parking lot was full.

I heaved thin air, lungs, ached.

I should never have come.

Then I forgot my camera.

Those batteries are so expensive.

My final step transcended magic.

No one will believe I came here.

Clouds billowed like sails below me.

How will I prove it?

Red cliffs rose like layered-cake bluffs.

I can even taste the fresh air.

I cried like an eagle … then soared.

I’ll remember. It’s carved in stone.

I just created this poem (really) and it was a wonderful jump back to 1976. What I didn’t say was the lightning that struck across the point while my sister was holding me steady against the wind so I could get a photo with her camera. I captured the lightning in my photo! We were giddy, hoping the shot would actually show the lightning! We had to wait until the film was processed to find out how awesome it was!

Our annual Poetry Contest begins this month and runs until May 15th.  I wish to personally invite you. Check out the contest rules  and fees on our Contest Page above. Submitting to a regional contest is one of the best ways to get good feedback from a cross-section of readers. I hope you’ll try to break the barrier of seeing poetry as too difficult for you to master. Take a chance. Share it with our judges and be sure to say you were inspired by this poem.

I’ll say it again: Take a chance.

 

Rusty LaGrange

I will read your poems but I may not be a judge. No decision has been made yet. We’re still working on the prizes for First, Second, and Third.

Flavor of Pumpkin in Spring

Craving an Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Flavor

Why should pumpkin breads, pastures, and pies be reserved for the Fall months? Sure that’s when they ripen on the vine and holidays soon follow. But we’re in the present age where you can have pumpkin any part of the year. I love pumpkin cookies in the Spring!

Recipe for Pumpkin Cookies

Light Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Puff Cookies

I looked around the Internet for the yummiest pumpkin recipes I could find. I’m a sucker for Pumpkin Mousse or those quick recipes where you don’t even have to bake the pie. Those are the modern recipes — I want the flavors that children were anticipating while sitting on the back porch deeply breathing in those rich pumpkin-scented wafts of goodness fresh out of the wood stove. I’ve been sharing a few recipes with chefs from KitchenHospitality.com and  PattiCake’sPantry.com — they both do more cooking in one year than I have in ten.

Melt-in-your-mouth Duo

However, I wanted an old-fashioned flavor that I hadn’t seen in awhile. I craved pumpkin and chocolate, so I dug back into my history files to find the melt-in-your-mouth duo. I came across this but I did ramp it up a bit:

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE PUFF COOKIES  (WITH SPLENDA)

2 c. Bread Flour                                                    1-1/4 c. Brown Sugar

1 tsp. Baking Soda                                                 1/4 c. Splenda

1-1/4 tsp. Baking Powder                                     1/4 c. Sugar

1/4 tsp. Ginger                                                       1-1/4 tsp. Vanilla

1 tsp. (or more) Cinnamon                                   2 c.Pumpkin Puree

1/4 c. Chia Seeds                                                    2 eggs

1/2 tsp. Salt                                                            1 bag Chocolate Chips

(Add 2 TBLS. of Old-fashioned Molasses for that rich tangy flavor)

INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 385 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Beat all wet ingredients in a second bowl. Fold in until wet dough is incorporated. Add chocolate semi-sweet chips. Fold in slowly. Scoop by round tablespoon onto a lightly oiled or sprayed cookie sheet.

BAKE: 13 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cookies should stand tall and browned lightly. Cool on rack. Makes 3 dozen.

OPTIONS: add medium apple, chopped; remove chocolate for Craisens; remove Molasses and Chia seeds

Bonus Recipe:

Vegan, Paleo, and More:One Health Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse: 

Pumpkin Moouse Dessert

Smooth Pumpkin Mousse

 

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup milk of choice

2 tbs sugar-free instant vanilla dry pudding mix

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Try  a 1/4 cup of Chia Seeds

3-6 tsp. of Splenda or other sweetener of choice to taste

Dense light whip cream (like Dream Whip) your choice

Instructions: Simply mix everything except the puree. Add it last so the whipped topping doesn’t get too heavy. Refrigerate for at least an hour. You can also add some crumbled vanilla wafers or graham crackers to the bottom of a globe style dessert glass before you serve. Place a large spoonful of mousse in the glass, add a wafer and a sprig of mint to the side. Then enjoy!

Rusty

Pesky Snakes in Your High Desert Garden

Know Which Snake is Intruding

Most gardeners will have a basic skill in identifying bugs and unwanted critters in their gardens, but sometimes the intruder just scares you into leaving first  — then wondering what to do. It helps to know that the skin patterns on snakes are helpful in identifying them. If you stop and get a quick look before you run, you’ll have a better chance of knowing what your next steps are.

Good Snake Versus Bad Snake

A “good” garden snake like the “Gopher Snake” has a splotchy pattern of cream and brown but with a distinct narrow pattern of aligned squares running down its back.

snake in the garden by PestKill.org

Gopher Sanke pattern

Pattern is more square for a gopher snake

 

 

 

 

 

 

A “bad” snake like the Diamondback and Mojave Green Rattlesnake have patterns that look more exotic, wider, and in a diamond-styled pattern. Some have a green or pink tinge to them.

Diamond pattern for Rattlers

The distinct diamond pattern is most common for Rattlers

Also, if you happen to be close enough to see a snake’s head, the good snakes appear more pointed, narrow, and shiny. In general their bodies are slimmer than rattlers. here’s a photo of comparing their two heads.

two heads

Rattler on left, Gopher snake on right

The bad snake’s head appears much wider, eyes are narrower, and they have “fat cheeks” — their glands and jaws fill their heads — making them look more aggressive.

Knowing these identifiers will help you be more aware of good snakes that your garden can benefit from to keep away other pesky visitors. However, if you see a rattler, back away carefully and call for help. Your local fire department can be called in most cases or phone a friend with a stronger constitution than yours.

Exterminators at “PestKill.org” recommend these methods to reduce snake intrusions:

 Find the nest. To chase any type of reptile away and to get rid of all garden snakes once and for all, you should find their nest and destroy it. Start inspecting the area around to look for shelters. Normally, they give their preference to well-hidden nooks and secluded corners, piles of wood, and compost holes. Even if there are no creatures inside, level the ground.

(Note: leveling your whole property will not stop snakes from crossing it.)

No garbage. Stop accumulating garbage outside. Do you know that such places are just perfect hiding and feeding areas for many types of these nasty reptiles?

No debris. Keep your backyard clean and remove debris, branches of trees and dried leaves regularly. Make some landscape changes in the area to modify the environment.

Keep grass low. If you have the luxury of growing a lawn, it is not a secret that snakes adore tall grass as this is a hiding place of mice, rats, squirrels, crickets and grasshoppers – their main food. To get rid of rattlesnakes, mow the lawn weekly!

Eliminating compost heaps. Gardeners need composts but they should be removed at some safe distance from your home. They are perfect hiding and leaving places in your backyard, attracting reptiles and their food sources right to you.

Erecting snake proof fencing is another alternative of how to get rid of snakes in backyard fast. A fence only 2-3 feet high made of fine wire mesh helps to prevent them from entering your yard and eventually your house. Be aware that snakes do climb — this is only a deterrent.

Use mothballs. Practically all types of snakes hate the smell of mothballs. So why not use this option in your garden right away? Don’t scatter the balls here and there. Just bury them into the soil in different parts of the yard instead. Though they may be toxic to their nature — when used carefully — they help to keep snakes at a bay.

No cool places. Sacks, bricks, and wood attract them as much as tall grass. Keep them far from your property and dealing with snakes won’t be your problem anymore. Also consider where you have water buckets and water feeders for your outdoor pets. Water containers stay cooler and will attract mice and snakes.
Read more: http://pestkill.org/other/snakes/

Rusty

Thanx goes to PestKill for posting their recommendations online

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