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Posts tagged High Desert Living

High Desert Sun Sets

Friday after noon was a great experience. I was at work at Starbucks. Well I don’t work for Starbucks, but I spend a lot of time there blogging at Starbucks. Then around 4 pm here came the rain. It was a downpour, the kind you would see in Texas were everything would be dry, and then the next minute there’s a flood.  Some folks in Houston, Texas will push their cars into an underpass that is flooded to collect insurance money. The wind was blowing so hard the rain was horizontal beating on the glass windows at Starbucks. Clouds were deep gray and moving in a way as if to say, “I’m done here. Time to move on.”  The streets were flooded, and the sand flowing on the pavement looked like it was dancing.

Yucca in the sunset

Well I enjoy photography and what a great day to take pictures. Rain makes everything reflect. It brings out all the colors, and my favorite is the sunsets with the clouds. There are spots I have searched out in advance for times like these.

Yuccas / sunset

So I waited and around 7 pm or so grabbed my Nikon 52oo  point and shoot camera and took off. This is the same camera I used in Iraq. It’s small enough to keep in your pocket, takes great pictures, and it has seen 6 foreign countries. Got to my place, and sure enough here comes the High Desert sunset. To me there is no place to see a sunset than in the desert.



High Desert Cactus

Hello high desert cactus huggers. If the northern California tree huggers can hug their trees, then we high desert folks can hug our cactus. And we can also transplant cactus. In my backyard is a ( I looked online for the name of this cactus but can’t find it), cactus that has so much over growth it had to be trimmed back.

cactus over growth

The first thing I did was to get a piece of ply-board and next got out my razor-blade knife. If you look online at other sites they recommend wearing gloves. I did and don’t anymore because the thorns get stuck in the gloves, and it’s almost impossible to get them all out; so there goes another good pair of gloves. It’s easier to pull the thorns out of my hands with a pair if tweezers.

Find a new place of growth and cut the cactus there.

Cut cactus where new growth begins

To transport the cactus the other sites say to wrap the piece of cactus with news paper. I don’t. I use tongs. That is a for sure way not to get poked and easier to get to in hard places. Now lay the cactus on the ply-board for a week or two in the shade. The cactus after being cut needs time to heal before you plant it in the ground. It’s like if you cut your finger then put it in dirt, that will make things worse so the same with cactus.

Healing time for the cactus/put in the shade

After it heals (and you’ll be able to tell by looking at it) then plant it with no water because water will rot the new roots and remember it’s a cactus. They live in the desert where there is no water. Bingo! Go plant it in the yard, in pots, or coffee cups, and place it in a window seal to get lots of sun. Hope y’all enjoyed this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it and replanting cactus.

Cactus replanted in front yard

Cactus planted in pots

Cactus planted in a coffee cup

Upcycle in the High Desert

Hi everybody! Do you know what time it is ? It’s upcycle time. Today you’re going to learn how to upcycle with me, High Desert Greg. Are you ready? OK, let’s get started.

First, you need a picture frame. You can buy one at the store or a yard sale or take one off your wall. Now take off the wire clips and the cardboard and glass and save them for upcycling on something else.

wood frame


Next, you will need paint, brush type or spray. Take the frame and sand it a little so the paint will stick. Paint outside where it is well ventilated because painting on your couch is not a good idea. While you’re waiting for the paint to dry, get a sifter. New is nice, but old is better.

nice old sifter

We need to clean the sifter, and I use rubbing compound, the type you use on cars. Then you need an old toothbrush. I always save my old toothbrushes because you never know when you might need one. If you don’t have an old toothbrush, then use your spouese’s. Wet the toothbrush, put some rubbing compound on it, and clean off the dirt that’s on the sifter. Use water to rinse off the sifter and your spouese’s tooth brush.

spouses tooth brush

The paint should be dry now so go pick a spot where you want to put this on the wall. Drill holes in the frame and with two wood screws, screw the frame on to the wall. Next, drill two holes in the sifter. Take two more wood screws and screw the sifter within the picture frame.  Now you are an upcycler.

Mounted on the wall.

Public Speaking Illustration Sources

High Desert Public Speaking Illustration Levels

In my opinion, this is the third level of illustrations which is you heard a story from another source like T.V., radio, newspaper, a book, Internet, or maybe from a friend. As long as you give credit where credit is due, tell anything that works in your speech because you must relate to your audience or it will be the last time they will come to hear you. In Texas a pastor’s wife told me this story:

There are five friends of hers and they decided to take a girl vacation overseas. Three of them were married, one divorced, and one a widow. At their destination and checking in the hotel, a man approached one of the ladies who happened to be the widow and struck up a conversation with her. He was handsome, charming, and looked rich. After a couple of dating days, she jumped in the sack with this guy. They were talking marriage and when it was time to leave and go back to state side at the airport, Mr. Handsome gave the new love a little box and told her not to open it ’til they were airborne. She promised. They kissed goodbye and off she went. Once airborne all her girlfriends gathered around to see what was in the box. It was surely a ring. She opened the little box and inside was a little black toy coffin. Shocked, she opened the little black coffin, and there was a note inside which read, “Welcome to the world of AIDS.”

I used this story across the country and had other public speakers doubting the truth in this story. So the next time I went through this Texas town, I asked the pastor’s wife again about this story, and she confirmed that it was true. It really did happen, and she personally knew these women. Whenever I told this story, I always mentioned I heard it from a friend.

Stalker of the High Desert… Under Your Sheets

Have you ever awakened in the night with a horrendous itchy bite? Summer time is the worst time for invading insects. It probably wasn’t a bedbug, even though most people think it could be. What is was could have been the stalker of the High Desert — the Conenose Beetle.
Assassin Beetle

The conenose is a slim, flat, red and black beetle that has a long pointy nose. They live outside in packrat piles and undercover in piles of wood debris. But when they get hot and dry in the summer they seek shelter where they can find moisture and a host to suck.

Last Wednesday, I was a host to a stalking blood sucker. If you are allergic to the bite, it can cause any of degree of swelling, hives, and even anaphylactic shock. If the swelling reaches your throat quickly, you need a hospital NOW. Some allergic reactions can be quelled by an “Epi-Pen” loaded with epinephrine. If you already know about your allergies to its potentially deadly bite, you know what they do to your skin, your general health, and the lasting effects until the poison leaves your system.

These beetles are also known by other names: assassin beetle, kissing bug, Mexican bedbug, and sleeping stalker. Whatever the name, be very careful to learn what it looks like and to kill it before your health is compromised.

It’s best to be aware of the bite’s destructive nature. The bite site is large, red rashy, and itchy, as much as a silver dollar in size, and won’t heal very fast, in most cases. Use insect spray around your bedroom walls, window sills, and around the base of your bed and mattress. There’s no guarantee that this will kill them but they seem to stay away. Spray once a week to keep them away.

For more information see a Wikipedia article about this bug.

 Rusty LaGrange

How Fasting Can Help the Public Speaker

High Desert and public speaking is like cactus and hot weather.

If you missed my last post I’m talking about fasting as part of public speaking so let’s continue.

Imagine with me if there were a golden public speaker god sitting on his throne. The public speaker god looks down at you and says, “Fast and be successful or flop.”

Please bear in mind I’m writing what works for me and if you have another way, good for you. Fasting is more mental than physical. When your subject is more important to you than eating, your audience will sense it and perk up and pay more attention, and that’s what you want. In the long run it will pay off.

If you fast more than  three days, break it easy with soft foods like soup or a small bowl of cream of wheat. Go easy on yourself, not like my friend in Houston, Texas who broke a week’s fast with pizza, and end up in the hospital. After breaking a fast, you will feel more energy, your mind will be sharper, and you’ll be ready to conquer the world.

After fasting, everything you say will resonate with  your audience, bingo! It will be a sweet small victory going without food for three, seven, twenty days or more but well worth it. You will be surprised how much our culture surrounds itself around food. Stepping out of it for a week is an eye opener, and your viewpoint will change.

Remember, when your mind is made up, nothing will stop you from completing a fast. Now go for it, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

High Desert Everyday Survival Kit that Will Help Your Blogging

Here is a High Desert everyday survival kit: a toothpick, rubber band, Band-aid, pencil, eraser, chewing gum, candy kiss, tea bag. Here’s why:

TOOTHPICK: to remind you to pick out the good qualities in others. This includes your kids. And remember if you’ve got a supervisor, boss, or owner of the company who never say a word about your work and you know you are doing the very best you can, say out loud to yourself a big thank you.

RUBBER BAND: to remind you to be flexible, things may not always go the way you would like, but it will all work out. Just wait and see. If you’re brittle you will break, and all the little things you fret about is not worth having a heart attack over. Fifty years from now nobody will even know.

BAND AID: to remind you to heal hurt feelings, yours or someone else’s. Humans are emotional creatures. Learn to control your emotions.

PENCIL: to remind you to list your blessings. Hey, you could be dead, but you’re above ground so thank your God. You’ve got friends, family, food, house, a vehicle-if not a car catch a bus.

ERASER: to remind you that everybody makes mistakes. When my daughter was little and she would spill her milk I would tell her, it’s okay, baby, even big people spill their milk too. I never condemned her for making everyday mistakes. So if you’re a High Desert nitpicker, go get an eraser now.

CHEWING GUM: to remind you to stick with it. You can accomplish anything. I went to a private party to raise money for the disabled kids. One of the “disabled” kids who just won a gold medal in the handicap Olympics said in his speech, “We may be disabled, but if you remove the “dis” then we’re “able”. I stood there thinking, OMG, I’ve got two good legs and arms and I never won a gold medal.

CANDY KISS: to remind you that everyone needs a hug and kiss. Get ‘er done.

TEA BAG: to remind you to relax and take a break . Smell the flowers while you drink your favorite tea.

After reading this, it should make you blog like a house on fire. Get ‘er done.

Desert Reptiles to Beware in the High Desert

Coiled Rattlesnake Ready to Strike

Have you ever slept with the devil? I’m not referring to your spouse. But really did you wake up facing death? Here in the High Desert at times you will find a spider in your boot or shoe.

When I was in Iraq I met a military guy who told me a story. He was on patrol and his captain told him to set up a gunners nest on the side of the hill, so he did. He  spent the night on the hill in the desert. The next morning he woke up, looked over his side, and saw a rattlesnake curled up next to him sleeping (I feel the warm fuzzy love here, don’t you?). Well he couldn’t just get up or try to jump and run because rattlesnakes, when they’re in a deep sleep dreaming about eating mice or chasing kids across the yard, they don’t take it too kindly when someone suddenly wakes them up. So using great wisdom and patience, he slowly picked up  pebbles and lightly bopped the snake on the head. After a very long time that felt like an eternity the rattlesnake finally got mad and left.

When you set a goal to blog, it will seem like every snake in the grass will show up to distract you. The snakes of  frustration, busyness, sickness, relationships going south, bill collectors, and the list can go on and on. This is what you can do to that mean old snake; throw a blog at him. At first he may not budge, but keep bopping that ugly mess on the head with more and more blogs. Keep blogging till he leaves.

Remember, you don’t have to sleep with the devil. Enjoy your next blog, my friend.

Clutter in the High Desert

Messy Car

The economy must be getting really bad in the High Desert land. One sunny day sitting at a coffee shop next to Lowe’s in Apple Valley I was doing what I do best, sitting. A car pulled up to park. It was an older vehicle, and the driver looked around mid 30ish. There was something else I noticed. His car was full of paper, not like recycle stuff, but trash like Burger King wrappers and paper coffee cups, newspapers, lots of paper and junk. It was stacked up to the level of the top of the seat. The passenger seat next to him was full, the back seat completely full of trash. When Mr. Hoarder got out of the car, he shut the door then LOCKED it. You know, it’s a good thing he did. There are a lot of criminals on the streets these days, and if you leave your door unlocked, those bad guys will sneak up real slowly,  reach up, slowly open that door and steal a paper cup!

If you’re reading this blog, I’m sure you’re not a teenager or a college student. Most likely you’re in your fifties or older. Looking back I cringe at things I’ve said and done. Some of it I meant well, and other times it was out of pure stupidity on my part. Hindsight is a learning time and a time of regrets. But no one can change the past, and the only option we have now is working on changing the future  in our short lives.

In your clutter life it’s time to clean out the trash. Open all the doors, and start ripping out all the papers, wrappers, and coffee cups. Then do yourself a favor. Burn that old car, set it on fire so it will never tempt you to go back hoarding your past. Truth will set you free, and now you’re free to blog some awesome blogs.

Homelessness in the High Desert

John with Blankies and Towels For Animals

Homelessness in the High Desert? Coyotes, rattlesnakes, jack rabbits and more creatures here in the High Desert have homes. Educated human beings who are able to work build things and communicate with others in the High Desert, yet unlike animals, have no home. There are great people like John Breckenridge who is the coordinator for Blankies and Towel’s for Animals. They collect comfort items for homeless pets in Apple Valley, Victorville, and Hesperia in the High Desert area. Their phone number is 760-666-9519 and email,, if you want more information about donations.

There are many folks like John that have a heart to help starving little animals. Yet we have High Desert homeless shelters for the needy. In California there are 656,129 homeless. Who’s counting? How do they do this? Someone walking in the woods shakes a bush and says, ” Hey! Anybody in there somewhere?” Okay, however it’s done, 656,129 homeless.

What are some of the reasons for Americans like you and I living in the streets? To start with, there are depressed wages, stagnant unemployment, unrelenting housing cost,  the lagging pace of economic recovery, and mental illness, some due to alcohol and drugs. I can understand the situations of these people. I came close myself to becoming homeless. The people I don’t understand are the ones who decide to live on the streets when they have all the abilities to be successful. Here’s a perfect example: Paul got out of prison. He came to our halfway house, and the first night we had to help him kick heroin. At one time I was using heroin and believe me, it’s not a piece of cake. After a hell-hole night, Paul broke free, started going to church, got married, had two boys, owned his own business, drove a nice car, lived in a nice house, then one day he walked away from everything and became homeless. A friend of mine tried to talk Paul to come back but this is what Paul said: “Why go back when I have a place to sleep (under a tree)?  I have food and clothes, so why go back? Paul died shortly after and how sad because when he was on top of the game, people liked him. He was great at helping others and fun to be with. What a waste of a life.

I will never know why Paul threw in the towel, gave up, and quit; but what I do know is when he stopped, he lost the best things in life, the ones who loved him. An old-time preacher once said,”Faith is like an airplane. When you stop, you drop.”  Maybe Paul wanted out of the system. Let’s face it. When you’re in any system, it’s going to challenge you almost on a daily basis. You learn the system at childhood with your parents. It’s called submitting to authority. Later you may have to submit to a coach, teacher, police officer, employer, military officer, and spouse.

This Sunday is the NFL Super Bowl. Somebody had to submit to a coach, and look what happened. Super Bowl time!! Some people want to be the independent. Okay, that could be good if you live in the jungle, but the truth is you’re not swinging from any vine in the High Desert (and if you are please e-mail me). Guess what rebel dude, you don’t submit to authority and it could  be you’re kicked out of the house, cut from a team, dropped from the class, arrested, fired from the job, given a dishonorable discharge, divorced. You’ll be sitting on a curb somewhere wondering where your next meal is coming from.

Bob Dylan wrote a song in 1979, “You’re Gonna Have to Serve Somebody.” When I think about High Desert Blogging, I have a choice to stay in the system or get out. If I choose to get out, then I’m at the mercy of the raw cruel world of being employed by someone who decides my income. High Desert Blogging is a system I choose to submit to because the more I work at it, the higher I’ll climb to reach my goal. So don’t stop like Paul, but keep posting blogs. Stay in the system. Remember the more you do, the more you’ll have.

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