Everything Desert


My Desert Experiences Blog

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Announcing 2017-2018 season of custom classes

Posted on November 18, 2017 at 8:55 PM

Dearest Fellow Earth Walkers,  I have taken a 2 year sabbatical of rest away from years of active, intensive desert plant teaching.  At some point in a teacher's energy, she must stop talking for awhile at least, and settle into a period of pure listening and being.  Over the years I have been blessed with an abundance of students eager and engaged to learn about our incredible desert plants. Since we live here on the most biodiverse and interesting desert in the world, I would hope everyone would be called to learn more about all it has to offer us.  This is an extreme environment we have chosen to live in, and the plants that have lived here for centuries are willing and happy to teach us how to peacefully, abundantly and harmonously live in this in harsh climate alongside them.  Out of my period of rest, I have been called to emerge as my light, and begin sharing my intimate knowledge of our desert plants back to teaching in groups again!  Yea! I have missed you all and really look forward to making new frineds of the desert again.  This 2017-2018 season I have decided not to schedule specific classes for specific dates, but rather offer a format that fits your schedule and your particular group.  Puruse my class descriptions, gather your group and decide what type and level of experience you are up for.  Contact me at [email protected] (or through my website) and we will talk about what kind of experience would be best for your group (an easy one mile walkabout, a 5 mile hike, a slide and samples presentation, an intensive energy plant relationship class, medicine making...) I can accommodate any type of group (kids, school groups, women's groups, herbalist groups, beginners and advanced) and in any area of the Sonoran desert.

Fun Idea:  Many students in the past have gifted my classes to theri friends.  What a great birthday party gift or Christmas gift for your group.

Ask for an exciting customized class for your group

Posted on November 6, 2014 at 3:05 PM

I absolutely love to share my knowledge and experience of the incredible medicinal and edible properties of our desert plants. This 2014-2015 season I will not be posting an open schedule of classes , but will be offering to create customized classes by request.


Here's how it works:


◾you gather your interested group

◾contact me at [email protected]

◾you name the location or general vicinity

◾tell me what level or particular interest your group would like to explore

◾I will customize the walk, talk or class to fit the exact location and interest

◾the fee will be appropriate to the level of the class


◾Hiking groups, Medical groups, Herbalists, Survivalists, Scouts, School Groups, Friends groups, Community groups


◦Peruse my list of class descriptions below to get an idea of what I have offered in the past and we'll build on those depending on the level of intensity or lightness your group would like to explore

Desert Medicine Making Class

Posted on February 3, 2013 at 8:50 PM

As the damp clouds shrouded the mountain and the life-giving rains gently fell, we were cozy inside learning how to make real medicine for our uses. On my desert plant walkabouts we stop at length at the prickly pear cactus and I talk about all the incredible medicine it provides us: poisonous stings and bites (my favorite scorpion sting remedy), a drawing poultice, a healing poultice for sprains and broken bones, incredible sun burn remedy and proven cure for diabetes. BUT how ever do we get to the medicine through all those prickers, my students ask. In this medicine making class I demonstrated the fast and easy way to get into a prickly pear pad and how to scrape out the wonderful medicine.

The ocotillo bark is also a very special medicine I use. It is excellent for all ailments from the bottom of the diaphram to the knees: so urinary tract, reproductive organs, prostate, as well as for lymphatic movement and general muscle soreness. But the bark has to be removed from the inner core in order to use it efficiently. I was able to show the students how to do this easiy without getting poked by the needle sharp thorns. CAUTION: the Ocotillo is a protected plant. Harvest only on private proterty with permission, and only the youngest 2 joints of the branch.

The eager students were then able to get their hands on the desert plants and decide which kind of customized medicine to make to take home: hmmm, will it be an allergy relief tincture, a flu and cold rememdy tincture, an antimicrobial salve with analgesic properties or with astringent properties?

We had fun learning, customizing and now practiced to be able to make tinctures or oils and salves with any plant/herb from their environment, from the herb store or fron their backyard.

My last Medicine Making Class of the season is being offered on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013

Life-Giving Rain on the Desert

Posted on December 18, 2011 at 7:45 PM

Our desert plants are truly AMAZING in their ability to be able to adapt to extreme climate stress. Most of our woody shrubs and trees adapt to drought by dropping their leaves so as not to lose their precious internal water through the pores on their leaf surface (called transpiration). Cacti have other ways to adapt. With our recent, glorious rains the common, yet medicinally important brittlebush, triangle leaf bursage and wolfberry have just leafed out practically overnight. Just last week their stems were naked with a few dried leaf parts here and there, reminding us of the extreme lenght of time since our last significant rain. They have been waiting. And waiting. And now they are bursting forth with fresh, new life holding all possibilities for themselves and for us. On my walks, where once there was a mountainside of mostly nothing but dried clumps of stems and stalks, holding onto hope for a day of rain, now is alive with growth and abundant life. Even some of the wolfberry have put forth loads of new blossoms from which will provide their berry , so nutrious and high in anitoxidants. That is, if the winter rains keep coming and we don't get a late freeze, as happened last spring. The woody plants have deeper roots so take perhaps a week or so to respond to new moisture, whereas the cacti have shallow roots and respond to rains almost immmeditately. If you stand real quiet and still on the desert floor after a rain you can actually hear the water soaking down through the soil (and I imamgine I can hear s sigh of relilef from the plants' roots). Standing still I can also practically see the tiny green native grasses pushing up through the softened crust. I am happy to have by friends the brittlebush and wolfberry and bursage back with me. I have been waiting to be with them in their glory for 5 months.



Full Moon Drumming Circle: Healing of the Mt.

Posted on December 12, 2011 at 4:30 PM
The Healing Full Moon Drumming Firecircle last night was a very extraordinary and powerful community gathering. The intention of the circle was to heal all affected by the plan crash into the face of the Superstitions (practicularly in my front yard)> There was much feelings of sadness and grief in the circle before we started. We drummed to release the grief and to be transformed into the fire and that feeling of release and relief was tremendous, like a Whooosshhing!
We then drummed our love and healing light into the mountain, the communities, the families and those souls who have passed.
We give great gratitude to our community of friends who came together todo this important work, to the sacred firecircle which opening energy to commect together in this work and to the Mountain, who still remains steady, wise and supporting.

Harvesting Mesquite Beans

Posted on July 15, 2011 at 7:20 PM

Mesquite flour was a main staple of the desert Indians. The flour provides protein, carbohydrates and calcium and sustained them during the winter and early spring until other desert foods were ready to be harvested. The flour is very sweet, and when used in recipes it is wise to decrease the sweetner in the recipe. You can substiture 1/3 mesquite flour of the flour called for in recipe. It is gluten free so must be mixed with other flours for such goodies as muffins, cakes and breads.

All species of mesquite are edible and grind into good flour. The seeds inside the pod are indigestible, but when separated from the pod and soaked overnight in water, make a lemony drink. How do I know which beans to use in recipe? I taste it first. I love chewing on a mesquite bean as I am harvesting. It has a sweet tast with a hint of lemon.

If you're looking to plant your own mesquites and are an APS customer, you can get free trees with the APS shade tree program.

The beans are ready to harvest around late June when then turn light tan colored. You can hear a rattling sound, like a rattlesnake when they are ready and they then come off the trees easily. If you have to pull hard on the bean to be release from the tree, it is not quite ready to harvest. I gather only the ones from the trees. I leave the bean that have fallen on the ground for all the critters. I watch javelinas, deer, jackrabbits, cottontails and quail delight in the feast. It is very important to roast the beans before storing and making into flour because the bruchid beetles live in the pods (the tiny holes you see in the pods are the hatched beetles who have drilled their way out. You can roast them in the oven, spread them on a table in the June heat for a few days or my favorite way is to make my truck into a solar oven: I put the beans in paper bags, put them on my dash then mount my windshield cover (so the beans are sandwhiched in between the windshield and the cover) . I leave my truck parked in the full sun for 2 days. I once put an oven thermometer in the bag of beans and in 2 hours it read 175 degrees. That's enough to cook the inside of a rump roast to well done, so it must kill off the beetles as well.

I make flour by placing the beans in my blender, pulse a few times which separates the inedible seeds from the pod, sift out the seeds (use later to make a lemony drink), then blend the pod until it makes a flour. I have also roasted and stored my beans in large buckets to wait for the Phoenix Permaculter Guild to offer their milling day in October. They will mill the whole beans into a wonderful flour for a very low cost

For more information on milling opportunities vistit: Valley Permaculture Alliance.

If you're looking to plant your own mesquites and are an APS customer, you can get free trees with the APS shade tree program.

Prickly Pear Tuna Harvestiing

Posted on July 15, 2011 at 7:07 PM

It's that time, when the monsoons bless us with much anticipated moisture, a brake from the intense direct sun and the ripening of the luscious prickly pear fruit (tunas). The very early mornings on the desert in July is the time to walk about and harvest its bounty- just ask the quail. I first seek a sustainable stand of prickly pear and look for the tunas that are a deep mangenta. The glokins (those tiny prickers on the fruits that mysteriously get under your skin and pester you for a long time) are easily brushed off by using a branch of the desert broom. If you are not equipped with the natural broom, you can remove most of the glokins by gently rolling the tunas across gravel with a house broom.

Harvesting is easy with kitchen tongs, being careful not to puncture the skins. To finish the de-prickering, I put the tunas in a dedicated bucket, almost cover with water and agitate like a washing machine action. This action rubs the tunas against each other, knocking the rest of the glokins off and washes them as well.

I drain the water off then into the juicer they go. Out comes the most striking magenta liquid ever placed on this earth! An alternative to using a juicer is to halve the tuna, scoop out the meat and seeds, process in a blender, then strain the seeds through a fine sieve. Both methods accomplish acceptable resutls. Also I have heard of some people adding the whole tunas to a pot with a small amount of water and simmering and smashing down as they soften. Then straining through a sieve. Now you have the juice from which to make all kinds of yummy treats: syrups for pancakes, margaritas, martinis, and all kinds of drink concoctions, jelly, fruit roll ups, ice cream and ices. I freeze some of the juice in ice cube trays, then save in a freezer bag to add one each day throughout the year to my water or iced tea for its flavor and its medicinal aspect of blood sugar regulation.


**Important: juice the tunas the same day that you harvest them. They can begin fermentation rather quickly. Likewise, once juiced prepare your jellies or syrups to can or your roll-ups to dehydrate the same day. If you need to wait until another day to prepare your goodies, refridgerate the juice for 1-3 days or freeze to prepare later in the season


makes 4 half-pint jelly jars

2 1/2 cups prickly pear juice

3 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 pkg. pectin

3 cups sugar

1 tbsp. butter

Mix cactus juice, lemon juice and pectin in large pan.  Bring to boiling.  Add sugar all at once with butter.  Bring to rolling boil and cook 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, skim, pur into joars, seal and water bath for 5 minutes

Summer Solstice 2011

Posted on June 23, 2011 at 4:39 PM

I had a wonderful intimate celebration at my house under Superstition Mountain.  An owl swooped right behind my head.....many ancient cultures associated the owl with wisdom...