castle valley sunrise

from my morning walk

that shade of orange…


We got a new puppy on Saturday. Her name is Sadie.

sadie bed

Hi Sadie!

Why did we get a new puppy?

Well, why not? I’ve always adopted dogs that were a bit older, and wanted the experience of raising one from a pup. Also, our Basset hound Penny seems to get bored sometimes. She tries to play with Lucy, but Lucy doesn’t quite know how to play. She just stands there and wags her tail.

So, puppy.

It’s been a busy few days, integrating her into the house.

Training her to sit, getting her used to the kennel, trying to not stop working to pet her ridiculously soft puppy face every five minutes…

I filled out the adoption paperwork last Tuesday, and met her at Petco on Saturday to make sure she’d be a good fit. We both had a long day, and a long drive back to Castle Valley.

sadie sleeping

Sadie slept most of the 4.5 hour drive home.

She’s been amazing, though.

We’ve had her sleeping in the sun room, with the doors shut to keep her from the rest of the house, since we are still working on basic ground rules (including please ignore the cats) and she has not whined or barked once. She just goes to sleep and waits excitedly when I get up for me to come and visit.

She has not gone to the bathroom on the floor, either. Amazing, for a puppy.

Sadie is getting along really well with our other dogs, a basset hound and a basset/lab mix.

three dogs

We adopted her from the Utah Friends of Basset Hounds, which is a fantastic organization. 🙂

My cat has not quite gotten on board with this whole “let’s get a dog” idea, but she’ll come around, eventually.

Welcome home, Sadie.

dust devil

a dust devil forms in Utah
On Feb 29th, 2016 I was running some errands in Moab, UT (last minute getting the car registered before it expires–no surprises there for Last Minute Markey).

As I was leaving the nursery in Moab–picking up some wonderful herbs to plant in the backyard, I saw the wind kicking up dust. I watched for a minute and it looked like it was getting more and more organized. I grabbed my phone and started to recording. I was too worried about missing a moment of filming, I forgot to not film vertically, like a dope.

Oh well.

The video is still pretty awesome. This thing goes from an interesting to swirl of dust to a tightly organize funnel in a matter of seconds. Very cool to watch the formation and dissipation.

Watch it on full screen. It’s amazing.

grocery trip

One of my favorite things to do is take long car rides.

This works out fairly well, since it takes about 45 minutes to get to Moab for gas or groceries (or any other errand). Sometimes, though, I like to double the drive-time and head to Grand Junction, CO.  It’s 90 minutes each way, but half of the drive is up the Colorado River canyon, and it looks like this:

The other half of the drive is down no-man’s-land I70, which is pretty empty.  This stretch of highway runs between Grand Junction, CO and Green River, UT, with nothing in between.

castle valley to grand junction

Summer can be a bit unpleasant, as the tourists jam up the road a bit, but most of the year there are only a handful of other cars on the road until I get to the city.

Three hours to listen to audio books, catch up on podcasts, and sing until I lose my voice? It’s one of my favorite things.

Last night I was coming home and a super-bright meteorite lit up the sky briefly. I was listening to “When All We Have is Taken” by Edison Glass, and not another car on the road the whole drive home. I almost hit a lazy hawk, and an even lazier skunk, but it was otherwise uneventful.

lucy & penny

December 15th we woke up to an impressive amount of powdery snow in Castle Valley. All of Utah and Colorado were slammed by this big snow storm, but our valley is pretty tough on storm systems, and we don’t tend to get hit too hard, usually.


This morning, though, we got more than I’d seen in the last year and a half of living here. So I grabbed the iPhone when I let the dogs out first thing in the morning. They had fun. Their tiny legs make it even funnier. I put the vid to some funk music (because why not?) and here’s the result. It’s pretty fantastic.

Turn up the volume and press “play.”

Snow Day

It doesn’t snow much in Castle Valley (especially compared to Salt Lake — where the lake effect snow really brought the valley a lot of snow.

The mountains that make up the southern valley-boundary get several inches of snow almost weekly, but down the geology of the mountains and cliffs and mesas that surround the valley aren’t very nice to approaching storms, and so a lot of the individual storms are broken up before they arrive.

Last night, it starting snowing at around 7p.m.  Beth and I hit the hot tub then, because it’s really pretty fun sitting in the hot tub outside while it snows on your face, and everything around you is white and brighter than usual.

Castle Valley Snow

This morning, a low ceiling + the sunrise made for some pretty dramatic pictures.  As always, it is so much more vivid in person, but the pics are petty spectacular as well, especially this pic of our house with Porcupine Ridge looming behind it all brightly lit and snow-covered.

Sun House Snow

Nesting Say’s Phoebes

A Say’s Phoebe built her nest on our porch light several weeks ago.  Yesterday, the babies finally hatched.  Here’s a quick video I took of her feeding on of them a grasshopper:

NYE 2015

Beth and I rang in the new year with homemade pizza, beer/wine, and a movie marathon. Oh, and we hit the hot tub for an intermission.

Me: pepperoni/ricotta pizza, CoConut Porter

Beth: eggplant/orange bell pepper/ricotta pizza, organic wine

We watched the second half of The Desolation of Smaug and the first half of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

It was a lovely night, and it was absolutely cold outside (in the teens), which made the hot tub both a delightful (settling into the 103f water) and miserable (walking back into the house) experience. But the 3/4 moon was amazingly bright, and the air very crisp.

Moving to Castle Valley in 2014

I really didn’t think, when we discovered and first flirted with the idea of moving to Castle Valley, that we’d make it out here before 2015 spring. But I was wrong. So the experience was extra special for me, being outside in the absolute quiet, the clean, smog-free air with the silhouette of various mesas, buttes, mountains, ridges, whatever they are.


At the start of the new year, a natural time for reflecting, I am especially grateful that Kitty is still with us. After being diagnosed with feline leukemia in 2011 and given ~ 6 months to live, she did unexpectedly well for several years, until November 2014, when she almost died. We rushed her to the vet E.R. one night—a 1.5 hour drive for an emergency blood transfusion. Her red blood cell count was ultimately 11% right before the transfusion (that’s really knocking on death’s door), but she recovered well. After the transfusion her RBC was 21%. A recent blood test showed her RBC to be 46%. Amazing.

As I write this, she is sitting on my chest, purring. Am so thankful.

It was a good night. I’m looking forward to 2015.  Am super happy I get to spend it with this girl:

beth and sean needles

Happy New Year!

Prehistoric Museum

To celebrate my surviving a very nasty encounter with what was most likely food poisoning, Beth and I visited the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum.  There, they had ACTUAL Utahraptor bones (including a real, not replica, fossil of a NASTY piece of bone known as the KILLING CLAW), a beautiful and in-tact Mammoth skeleton, and many Fremont Indian artifacts.

Here’s me and the Utahraptor:

It was a 2.25 hour drive, one way, and we drove through some (pretty) snow on highway 101.  Dinner was at Groggs Brew Pub, which was better than we thought it’d be!

My second favorite part of the museum (which included many full size dino replicas, such as Allosaurus and Stegosaurus), was the complete fossil of a mammoth.


Christmas 2014

Beth declared that Christmas is now Utahraptormas, so I made her a necklace of a velociraptor claw, and a website explaining the tradition.  It was fun. 🙂

beth with claw

Here is our rosemary tree with presents under it:

utahraptormas tree

And a lovely shot of our little garden space, with snow:

Sun House Yard and Snow

It has snowed a bit here and there in November and December, but this was the first really strong snow, that stuck.  Kind of magical!

We made seeded bread with marscapone + toasted hazelnuts + blackberry honey for breakfast, and had a nice oven roasted turkey and mashed potatoes in the evening.  After it got dark, we made vanilla bean + cinnamon ice cream and watched (2/3 0f) The Desolation of Smaugh.  [Spiders!!]