House for Sale Fountain Hill Park Area - Fountain Hills, Arizona

Real estate has always been investment worthy.

People want to own a home and homes are assets that, in America, have historically appreciated in value. In retirement communities like this, there are always For Sale signs in yards. People die, move back home to be with the kids, decide they don’t need a second home, look to downsize, decide their second home experiment isn’t going to suit them.

This is typical Arizona suburbia with wide streets,cactus, stuccoed- patio homes with two car garages, covenants,property taxes, newspapers still thrown in driveways, mail delivered daily by mail women driving little white vehicles. looking professional in their white and gray postal uniforms.

There is a rock in a flower bed in this home’s entry way with the word ” Harmony ” engraved on it.

Harmony, as used here, means no crime, living in a gated community, not having noisy neighbors after ten in the evening, good schools for your kids and grand kids.

Marie shouldn’t have trouble selling this home. It is on the internet and her sign gives her phone number in large print.

This house comes with a nesting bird and all the Harmony you bring with you on move in day.

Houses don’t become homes till you move your coffeemaker and tooth brush in.


Nesting Bird- Video Arizona Home for Sale

In the front courtyard of a vacant home for sale in Fountain Hills, Arizona, a bird has made her nest in a God’s flowing hair.

She, quietly, doesn’t move as I peek through windows into sad, empty rooms where someone used to live.

By the time this house is sold, her eggs will be hatched, her babies will try their wings and fly away to start their own families and build their own nests.

God’s, some believe, write our scripts and they write them with miscues, forgotten lines, improbable entrances and exits, all at the Great Director’s discretion.

I am wondering, as I film this Mom, which script this God is writing for us today and what changes I will have to make to how I think, what I do, where I go?

I would prefer a long boring script, instead of a short intense one, but God’s have a mind of their own and I’ll be given what I need instead of what I want.

If I could fly, I’d nest in a God’s locks too.



Roots Building a storage shed

The things of man start with an idea.

Either you are hungry, uncomfortable, scared, envious, or in love.  Sometimes you are just bored and want to change because you can.

Chip and Lori want to live simple and live free. 

” It’s an experiment, ” Chip says, and, thankfully, his wife is going along with it. Moving in a different direction than your spouse is like trying to row a boat with oars going in opposite directions.

The corner posts go in first for a storage shed that will give Chip a place to store his tools out of the weather. He can put his generator inside and we can have electric to run our power tools.

I will come back to help when Chip has all his materials on site and we can put the shed together in a couple of  days.

Sitting around a campfire at night, under more stars than we can see, the place oddly feels like home, even if the wind whips up and the cold sneaks in under my bedroll and makes me wake up in the middle of the night.





Nowhere, Arizona Not at the end of the dirt road, but almost

Nowhere is a place too.

Nowhere is most often a remote, uninteresting, nondescript place, a place having no prospect of progress or success, obscure, miles from anything or anyone.

Nowhere is a place no one else wants to be, a place that offers no comfort, no wealth, no value.

Nowhere, however, can be a place to gain privacy, a place to begin new, a place to build what you now see that you didn’t see before.

Pioneers struck out to find value in the nowhere reaches of the old west. Astronauts went into the nowhere of space looking for new worlds. Explorers in the sixteenth century ventured into nowhere to find profit. 

Chip, wife Lori, son Bowen, and Scott are striking out for Nowhere, Arizona.

There won’t be a town here, but, by the time we are done, this trip, there will be the start of a storage shed for Chip and Lori’s stuff. Their homestead is still further down time’s road.

When you come to Nowhere, you don’t want to come with Nothing and you want to leave Something behind.

This is how it must have felt to the pioneers on wagon trains headed west after the American Civil War, a shared tragedy that hangs on us like a ball and chain.





Grand Canyon State Welcomes You Building a shed

Henry David Thoreau got tired of his rat race in the 1800’s and retreated to Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts to live a simpler life.

As a transcendentalist, he believed getting close to nature would get him closer to truth, wisdom, God, and peace. He built himself a little cabin on Walden pond, took daily walks, observed nature, documented his thoughts and daily chores in a book he called ” Walden, or Life in the Woods. ”

My road trip goal is to help Chip and Lori get a start on their simpler life in the middle of Nowhere, in Arizona, thirteen miles down a dirt road off a narrow two lane highway taking you from I-40 past Gallup to Show Low, Arizona. There are no ponds, but plenty of nature.

With 80% of Americans living in cities these days, the things you can’t do, in a free country, are astounding. 

The 20% of Americans who live outside city limits are an independent breed.These folks move to a different drummer, value individual liberty, work, helping your neighbors, keeping government at bay, They used to be everywhere, be your neighbors. go to your church, run for office. Now, they are scurrying out of the city as quick as they can get their resources together.

When all Hell breaks loose, do you really want to live in a city, anywhere?

Henry David Thoreau’s book is still resonating, a hundred and fifty years later.

I’ve heard, though, that even he would sneak back to town to have dinner with sympathetic readers and talk shop with Ralph Waldo Emerson  over a glass of wine and a big piece of the widow Smith’s award winning Angel Food cake.


Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria le Menor Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

There are, according to the web, 1.2 billion Catholics in the world today. 

This number, of course, changes every second because people are born and die every second and because counting anything is never easy. 

This Cathedral, in the middle of the Zona Colonia, is striking and was the first church in the New World, built in the early 1500’s. It is a huge structure with thick fortress walls, high arching ceilings and carefully laid stones.There are stained glass windows high in the interior of the Cathedral and the worship area features a huge open sitting area used for mass plus six chapels on each side of the common hall. At one time, the remains of Christopher Columbus were interred here and the tomb of Archbishop Merino occupies one of the twelve chapels inside.

The Catholic church itself is one of Christianities monuments and, at one time, was a glue that held much of the world together. Religion tends to transcend country and the binding power of the church is well known to many of my friends who got their hands struck by a ruler when they didn’t learn their ABC’s in Catholic School, talked out of turn, or told a bad joke. 

The Cathedral inside is so big, so tall, so heavy, so forceful, it makes me catch my breath.

Watching it being built would have been a sight. Working on it would have been a special honor.The best workmanship went into making the stones rise like fireworks to the top of the Cathedrals roof, positioned just right so balance and counterbalance would keep the whole structure together.

This is a must see for anyone visiting the Zona Colonia. In this Cathedral, history speaks, without speaking,and, in silence, makes its strongest statements.


Tour Guide Alcazar de Don Colon,Santo Domingo,Dominican Republic

The entry fee to this old home is only 100 pesos and includes a tour guide.

This palace, set on the far side of the Plaza Espana, was built in the early 1500’s for Diego Colon, a son of Christopher Columbus. In succeeding years it fell into disrepair and was eventually reconditioned by the local government and is currently maintained as a national treasure.

The tour guide is worth twice the admission price. You put  headphones on, turn the machine on, walk yourself through the palace at your own pace. When you come to a room you look for a little postcard with a number on the wall. You punch that number into your tour guide and it, cheerfully, gives you all the information you need to take yourself back to the 1500’s. These clothes, furniture, and decorations are those of the upper class, the privileged of the time. 

With my trusty tour guide, I get a quick education and run through  twenty postcards on the walls.

There were once little kids running these halls before going to their old tutors to learn about running an empire.

At night, having a cocktail at the Espana Plaza, it would be nice to see Columbus come out on cool evenings and regale us with stories of his epic journey as if he were still standing on the bridge of his ship looking at the stars on cloudless ocean nights.

It gets harder and harder to do unique things the further down time’s tunnel you appear and that makes those who have done spectacular look even brighter.


LaFonda Hotel Part of the Santa Fe History

The LaFonda Hotel has been a fixture in Santa Fe going back decades.

The current hotel was built in 1922 on a downtown site where the first Santa Fe hotel was built in 1607 when Spaniards came to town. It is on the register of the Historic Hotels of America, was once owned by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad, and from 1926 to 1968 was one of the famous  Harvey Houses that took care of train passengers riding from back East all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

In the 1900’s this was the favored haunt of trappers, soldiers,gold seekers, gamblers and politicians. The hotel, in the 1920’s, was designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter and John Gaw Meem and is still a favored watering hole for New Mexico state legislators and government officials who populate Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, affectionately called ” The City Different” by those of us who live in our state.

Santa Fe itself has long been a refuge for writers, artists, movie stars, and the local newspaper, ” The Santa Fe New Mexican ” is the oldest continuously operating newspaper in America. The world famous Santa Fe Opera is close by as well as Canyon Road with a gallery every other mailbox.

Up to Santa Fe for the day, Joan suggests I visit Boston. I’m thinking the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum would be my cat’s meow.

While the LaFonda Hotel is super comfy, charming,historical, quaint, revolutions always ring my bells.

Joan misses some ambiance, on the phone, fixing who is watching her kids , and when, with an unaccommodating ex in Boston.

Fortunate for me, or not, I have avoided these kind of revolutions.




House Car Home Sweet Home

This home on wheels was originally owned by a couple from Louisiana who traveled from town to town with a carnival. They sold kewpie dolls and prizes, and, as far as we know, lived as happy as the Old Lady who lived in a Shoe.

Inside, it is roomy enough for a couple that gets along.

For a couple that doesn’t get along, there is no house big enough.

In the Geo-Hut Home Bases

The Geo-Hut is adjacent to the derrick, hooked up to electric with heaters blasting 24/7 to deal with deteriorating colder and colder weather.

Snow started yesterday and has laid a six inch blanket atop the Geo-Hut roof. Inside the trailer-office-bunkhouse, one bed is covered with clothes,gear, and Max’s guitar. A sleeping bag is on the other. In a separate room is a desk, a microscope, and a place to spread geological maps. A bag of groceries is on the floor by the front door. There is no stove or frig and an orange portable toilet is at the edge of the drill site,at the field’s edge, and it has paper.

Max has been here several days, arriving after the well was surveyed and spudded. There are long stretches in drilling where nothing happens, then short quick stretches of anxiety or exhilaration when the drill bit enters a pay zone.

This evening, late, the creators of this business plan peer at samples, measure how the interior of the Earth is conforming to their mental picture of it, wait for more samples, decide which zones need to be tested to see if they are to be profitable. This well is the end of a long process of coming up with a prospect, leasing land, selling the deal to investors, lining up a driller, making sure your t’s are crossed and your i’s are dotted, all legal and proper.

We don’t stay all night, have an upstairs hotel room in Benkleman heated with three little electric heaters plugged into the walls. Tomorrow morning, early, we’ll be back.

The oil business is predictably unpredictable, in a predictable way.



Send this to a friend