Every year in April, hummingbirds arrive in Castle Valley. At first it’s only one species, the black-chinned hummingbird.

Around late July, another species arrives: the Rufous hummingbird. Quick research suggest why: the black-chinned hummingbird travels from northern US/southern Canada to winter in Mexico, while the Rufous hummingbird starts its journey much further north, around Alaska. As it makes its way to Mexico it stops for a bit in Castle Valley.

Yesterday following a rain storm, I went outside to try and snap a few pictures of the Rufous hummingbird–as I have taken several of the black-chinned.

My iPhone camera did all right, but many of the shots (of the unmoving, perched bird) were blurry. Some day I’ll get a better a camera.

Here’s the best shot, full-sized image:


In the little garden just outside my office, I have a few bird feeders set up. Mostly little sparrows and, more recently, lazuli bunting. I love watching them fly about, chattering and arguing about who is entitled to which perch.

Beneath the feeders, even more little birds hop about and eaten the fallen seeds on the ground. There are also little ground squirrels and big fat tree squirrels picking through the blanket of seed husks for something dropped–not just discarded.

Frequently, we see cottontail rabbits passing through or digging into the red topsoil and stretching out in the cooler dirt beneath

My favorite, though, are the hummingbirds.

They arrive in mid-to-late April and stay through early fall.

This year I was ready for them, and had several feeders set up as soon as I saw the first one. In the last two weeks or so, the little birds have really increased in number. It rained today, and the temperature didn’t climb above mid-40s, but the hummingbirds were out in force.

At one point, I saw 6-8 of them drinking from the feeder at the same time, while still others buzzed around them.

Mostly, they spend their time defending the feeder (very territorial, these birds) or trying to slip in and get a drink.

I walked out this evening and stood very still right next to the hummingbird feeder. I’d say I was about a foot or less away. Before too long they came back to the feeder and were as active as ever. I recorded a video as I stood. Quite an experience having them hover near, checking me out, or buzzing my head as they flew past.

Here’s the video:


Bonus, here’s Castleton Tower, Priest and Nuns, and Adobe Mesa lit up during sunset:


I’m back in Flagler Beach, FL to visit my mother (who was recently in the hospital–she’s doing great now).

On Thursday, I went for a drive near the intracoastal waterway in the golf cart with Dad. We heard a helicopter, but didn’t see one for a bit. We pulled over and walked near the water. Here’s what we saw:

A helicopter near the river in Florida

A helicopter hovering near the water. We watched as it dipped the bucket in and flew over to the fire to drop. I’ve never seen anything like it. Amazing.

Here’s a video of the scooping and dropping:

Hello World, 2017


The first sunrise of 2017 in Castle Valley comes quietly, draped in clouds and with snow still on the ground from Christmas’s winter storm.

Hello, little new year. I hope you will be kind to us…

Origin Story

Ten years ago today, 9/25/06, I first started talking to some girl I met on the internet. We were both members of a small writing forum called Liberty Hall, where you would write one story per week after looking at a writing prompt, and spend the rest of the week critiquing other stories (and having your story critiqued)–culminating in an anonymous vote for “best story” of the week.

It was a nice little community, and a great place to practice the craft of writing fiction.

I was living in St. Augustine, Florida, in a little apartment right downtown, a block or two away from the college I was attending at the time.  She lived in downtown Salt Lake City.

It Starts

One week in mid September, Liberty Hall’s admin decided to have a “worst story” contest, just for fun. Not to get too far into a kind of “you had to be there” story, the forum also had fake money that you earned for posting (or something). You could send and receive this forum-specific currency with other members.

I’m not sure how it happened, but Beth started bribing people with this fake money to say her worst story was the BEST worst story for the weekly vote. I don’t remember who reached out to who first, but I *think* it was me via private message, to help her bribe the other members.

She is a trouble maker, and I am an instigator, so we started scheming.


Soon after we started chatting over Gchat (Google Chat) about our bribing, writing, and other interesting stuff (where do you live, what do you do, etc).

Due to the magic of Google keeping all your chats, forever (if you allow it), I can actually read our first conversation, and see the date and the time.


I am really interested in keeping track of dates. I dunno why, but it’s something I always make note of.

The day we first started chatting.

The day I first flew out to visit her in November, 2006.

The day we arrived home in Salt Lake together when I moved in, after driving from FL to UT in April 2007.

The day we got married.

Beth says I’m only allowed to celebrate one anniversary, and so we celebrate getting married every October.

But this September 25th is a bit special, and so we’ll head out tonight for a nice dinner together.

Ten years ago I started chatting with Beth, and we never really looked back. I flew to Salt Lake to visit her November 2006, after chatting with her for 12+ hours a day, EVERY day (basically). I canceled my flight home twice and stayed until New Years. Since I couldn’t leave in the middle of a semester, I didn’t move in with her until April 2007, but we planned it that December.

At 33 years old, 10 years is almost 1/3 of my life. It’s a big deal to me. That I get to share my life with my most favorite person–that’s just the best thing.

When I went back this morning and read our first conversation, this part made me laugh and laugh:



Just look at these kids: