Oujournalist’s Blog

The blog of a freelancing journalist in Arizona

My back porch April 15, 2018

Filed under: Artists in Pinal County,green,Pinal County,wildlife,writing — Candace Hughes @ 1:13 am

As the sun shines and illuminates spiderwebs in the early morning, I straighten my shoulders and tilt my face toward the rays. The Arizona Spring sun is strong even at 8 a.m. and I glance away to see a hummingbird with magenta mustache marks hovering by the crimson aloe blossoms. The buzzing sound alerts me to the bird’s proximity and his flashy colors sparkle in the light. I turn to feel the sun on my staff neck and breathe a sigh of relief as the warmth hits my arthritic joints. From this direction, I smell creosote and palo verde blossoms — a delight. Bees fly from one flower to another with their hind quarters heavy with pollen. I rise to touch the smooth aloe stalks but I stop myself from cutting a branch. The bees and hummingbirds need the nectar.

A brightly colored yellow and black oriole arrives to shock my eyes with its stark color contrast as it sips nectar. I refill the  birds’ water dishes and clean the hummingbird feeder. Inside, sugar water for the hummingbirds cools on the stove. I am reawakened from a reverie by the loud call of the oriole as it moves from one aloe to the next, inserting its bill and tongue to sip nutrition. My slightest movement send the oriole away, while hummingbirds are more tolerant. I hear doves cooing in the distance and view a mother dove on a nest on my back porch. The bird eyes me closely but stays put even when I am directly below her. Another mother dove with an iridescent blue patch on her wing sits on a small nest built on a cactus pad. I love hearing the house finch call as she decides whether to come close enough to me for a drink.img_2292


February 9, 2018

Filed under: Artists in Pinal County,green,Pinal County,travel — Candace Hughes @ 4:39 pm

Candace Hughes’ photographs continue in Apache Junction City Hall and Library art show.img_1844


New target restrictions on Tonto Forest January 25, 2018

Filed under: green,Pinal County,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 2:12 pm

Effective Nov. 20, 2017, exploding targets are prohibited on the Tonto National Forest along with refuse for the purpose of target shooting. Biodegradable clay targets such as clay pigeons are allowed along with self-healing targets removed after shooting. It is expensive to clean up targets, shells and refuse, unsightly for hikers and horseback riders, and damaging for wildlife. No shooting is allowed within 1/2 mile of roads and occupied structures.image


Morning pages get me started January 18, 2018

Filed under: Artists in Pinal County,Books,Pinal County,writing — Candace Hughes @ 4:19 pm

I use The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and in particular her Creativity Cards to begin each day’s session of writing. “Finding it hard to begin a project does not mean you will not be able to do it. It means you will need help–from your higher power, from supportive friends, and from yourself.” This card is particularly appealing as I look at all the ways I receive assistance with my writing life. Another daily habit is studying a page from The Elements of Stimg_2119yle. “Omit needless words in my favorite entry.”


Help from friends guides writer January 17, 2018

Filed under: Artists in Pinal County,Books,Pinal County,writing — Candace Hughes @ 4:03 pm

I have a number of people assisting me in my writing life. They include my Mom, who unearthed this index card from a high school or college class. In addition, the encouragement of meaning and mission comes from We Were Eight Years in Power along with the reminder to write on my blog. Adam J. Kurtz’s Things are What You Make of Them brings me daily ideas to keep my production going. I often read and reread the essay from The New Yorker “What Mary Oliver’s Critics Don’t Understand.” As the article states, Oliver provides a blueprint for how to go about observing the natural world and producing art. The Story Cure by Dinty W. Moore of Ohio University provides story starters that prompt me to find fresh ideas. Start Where You Are A Journal for Self-Exploration by Meera Lee Patel tells me to go outside and write down what I see. “Forget the Career Ladder: Start Creating Assets” by Mark McGuinness helps me as I continue to change from journalism to creative nonfiction, poetry and essays. These and other writings are starting my day today.image


The case for riparian protection and Pinal County Arizona November 1, 2016

Filed under: green,Pinal County,Uncategorized,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 5:08 pm

The Gila River near Riverside in eastern Pinal county, Arizona, has water during part of the year depending on rainfall and releases from a dam. It flows along the Arizona Trail and is a wildlife corridor. Animals and birds in the area may include the western screech owl, great horned owl, ringtail, and a variety of birds, snakes, and deer. This is part of the Sonoran desert where rainfall is scarce and water has been a particular problem during 20 years of drought in the western United States and Canada. If Pinal county approves Riparian protection we hope there will be no dumping of treated effluent in washes and no building in or alteration of washes which carry water during infrequent but sometimes violent storms.

The iconic saguaro often graces the sides of washes along with less rare sightings of cottonwoods and other native trees and plants providing habitat for birds and other wildlife. Washes,  or arroyos, provide protection from runoff damaging adjacent structures and human activity. While riverbeds such as the Gila often are dry, they once were free-flowing corridors providing food and shelter for Native Americans. Turkeys and other sources of food were available to people inhabiting the area before overhunting and habitat destruction decimated the game bird.

Offroading in and near washes destroys the stream banks and homes of wildlife such as tortoises, foxes, coyotes and burrowing owls.

A report by a county consultant is awaiting distribution and reportedly will detail the effects of a possible ordinance governing riparian protection.



October 24, 2016

Filed under: Artists in Pinal County,Books,green,Pinal County,travel,wildlife — Candace Hughes @ 6:25 pm

Here are my title suggestions for my National Novel Writing Month project:

Recovering Nature

Desert Desserts

Stop and Smell the Cactus Flowers

Finding Myself in Nature

Natural Pain Relief: Essays on Living in and With the Desert

Meditations on a Thorny Landscape

Get Close But Don’t Touch: Essays on the Sonoran Desert

Listen and Look, but Don’t Touch: Writing in the Desert

Finding Hope in the Southwestern United States20140302-171823.jpg