Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another mini 'Staycation'

We decided to take a back road to Prescott, Arizona to try to cool off a few degrees. This 110+ degree temperature makes us feel house- bound and crazy, so we just had to get out for awhile. After filling up the truck with $77 of regular--we knew we wouldn't be going much farther than that! While passing the old Vulture Gold Mine near Wickenburg, we caught sight of a raven perched atop a saguaro cactus , and one in a Palo Verde tree.

No vultures today--but at times they are circling around the sky looking toward the ground for carrion.

Check out the two top arms. This is an unusual configuration of arms. I think the growing tip was damaged on that one and it just grew two side arms near the top. It is the end of the bloom season for Saguaro flowers, but the remnants are still there.

At the bottom of Yarnell Hill, someone has painted this frog-shaped rock for as many years as I can remember! My father used to bring us to this the area to pan for gold when we were kids, and that frog was there back then. We found a few tiny nuggets and lots of gold dust, but not enough to sell at yesterday's (1950's) prices. Seems the price was $35 an ounce then. We probably put the tiny nuggets around our 'little people houses'. These make-believe fairies and elves lived in an old cottonwood tree that had a small hole at the bottom that went far inside the trunk. We collected many miniature things for the inhabitants--including lots of little food stuffs! My sister and cousin saw them coming and going daily, and I finally convinced myself I did too.
Once after a bomb drill at school (the one where you got under your desk and covered your head) we decided to bomb the fairy-elf house. We captured wasps that became dive planes, mixed them with a few alfalfa seed bombs and dropped them around the tree. Before we did that though, we made little fliers telling them this was just a drill.
Prescott was about 94 degrees and it was wonderful. After enjoying a healthy lunch, we took the well-traveled freeway home to the oven.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wildfire Update

The wildfire has spread and has consumed about 2500 acres, mostly Salt Cedar (Tamarisk.) That is the problem with this invasive tree--it gets in river beds and causes all kinds of problems. The winds keep shifting, making it difficult to control. They've evacuated 100 people, voluntarily, and they are staying in a Red Cross shelter. Most of the evacuees are from the Gila Indian Reservation.

We can't see the flames behind the mountains. They had many firefighters in the area and they are using slurry planes with fire retardants, but that didn't work, so now they are getting water for the helicopter drops from the Gila river. I don't think they will have to use water from our lake. We are lucky that the wind has blown the smoke away from this area, but even so, it hangs in the air all over the Phoenix Metro area.

Ending on a good note----Vincas are loving the heat!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Smoke and Clouds

Thunderheads are moving in! Monsoon season looks like it is here, or will be in the next few days. We had a dry lightning strike near here, and it caused a wildfire in the Gila River bed. Many fire fighters are at the site, but the winds need to let up before it can be brought under control.

Luckily, this is miles from any homes. The smoke is mixing with clouds--making an interesting photo.

There aren't any roads near the fire, so it's hard for the firefighters to get to it. Maybe they will have to bring in the helicopters or planes. If they bring in the helicopters, they will get water from the lake. Since I live on the lakefront, I can watch the activity from my patio. They lower big rubber bladders into the lake and when they are filled, they fly off and drop the water on the fire. This activity usually draws a crowd around the lake walkway.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hot, Hot, Hot

This is the result of a few days of 115 degrees! I guess we are lucky so far, in June of 1990 we had a recording-breaking day at 122 degrees. I survived this week's heat, along with a lot of my plants. More of my plants died during the 3 day hard freeze we had in January of 2007.

The flowers in my beds, along with all the ones in containers, are fried!

Rosemary--one of my newer plantings. The older ones are doing just fine.

Plumbago--a three year old, stunning flowering shrub, died--fried to death today. I have been busy pulling out all the dead plants throughout my garden. By July most of my beds are empty and ready for fall plantings. The Vinca plants will get though all summer--no matter how hot it gets!

Of course, all of my cactus and succulents will survive this heat and a few are blooming again!

Third time this one has bloomed. Usually the only damage to non-native cacti is the scorching that sometimes happens. The cactus will turn yellow in those areas, and may or may not go away in the fall. If they are badly scorched, then that portion will just die and get hard. It looks ugly, but if it isn't a large area, the cactus will live.

This is the second bloom from my
Wal-Mart rescue. We have a few months of hot-hot weather here, but we don't have---tsunamis, ice storms, earthquakes, snow storms, hurricanes, tornados, typhoons, or any other natural disasters--except for hundred floods from too much rain. But, that only happens about every 100 years, and right now we are in a drought. I wouldn't live anywhere else!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Still Hanging On...

Not sure how much longer the petunias will last in this 114 degree heat. The alyssum will be pulled out when the petunias wilt. The coreopsis may last another couple weeks.

The blue lobelia plants are still living in one area of my garden. Purple trailing lantana is much darker than it's showing in the photo and it will look a little ragged with a few more days of this hot weather. It will perk right up in early fall, though.

The Orange Jubilee --Tecoma stans hybrid--had orange flowers when I planted it about three months ago. All the flowers turned yellow this past week. Never heard of this happening. Will wait and see what will take place next!!

This Cascalote is planted in full west sun. So far it's doing great. I need this one to grow fast as I need the shade for all the cactus in the yard.

Cherry red lantana -The first time I have had luck with this color lantana. Yellow lantana grows the best in this area. This one is planted in the full west sun.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lazy Slump Inspiration

I went in my hobby room today to find something to work on to get me out of this lazy slump. I have quite a few gourds lying around waiting to be cleaned and crafted. They have been in the room for about three years ! I just can't get started! I took a few pictures of my past projects to post--trying to inspire myself. I don't think it's working....

The first and only gourd mask that I've made.

The left one is weaved with leather strips. On the others I used pine needles on the rims.
This was the first gourd I made. I drew the lizard freehand, then outlined it with a wood burning tool, then dyed it with various leather dyes.

Another freehand drawing of a famous western painting. I made this for my husband's den.

This is one I did at a class I took at the International Gourd Festival at Temecula, California a few years ago. We used tracing paper to outline the drawing, and then wood burned the design.

These are my favorites. They are called Spirit Dolls, and each one has its own personality which comes out as I assemble the gourds.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'm a Bee Helper!

My sunflower seeds arrived today from the Great Sunflower Project. I planted them this evening and should have flowers in about 6 weeks. Hopefully all the data collected will give us a clue as to what has happened to our bees!
This little mammillaria is in full bloom. Click to enlarge it. It didn't have a tag and was soaking wet when I bought (rescued) it from Lowe's last year. This is the only cactus I have with white blooms. I never did get around to potting it. I did pick up a few pots yesterday
and I Will pot all of them tomorrow! I do have a lot to do though--maybe next week....Oh well, they are doing just fine in their little plastic nursery pots!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Look Out Back

Turr Tull is enjoying a hibiscus blossom. See how muddy he is? I think he has dug under the fence and got into the neighbor's flower beds. Hope he doesn't fall into their swimming pool! I guess we will have to block off the entrance to his hole and make a raised area for him. If he fell into the pool, he wouldn't be able to get out.

Strange happenings in my garden again! Sweet peas are growing all through out my Vinca beds. They are about 4 inches high. I guess they are leftover seeds from the fall plantings.They won't be able to take the heat much longer--although they look pretty good right now.

Vincas will go all summer long, and look great no matter how hot it gets. The coreopsis come up every year-- just where I don't want them, of course! The only excitement around here in the summer is seeing what plants haven't fried!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hawaii Memories

After spending time reminiscing about my childhood on the farm, which I wrote about in my last post, My thoughts have moved up in time (and distance) as I remember my trip to Hawaii this time last year.

My granddaughter had graduated Arizona State University, and as her gift, she choose to go to Hawaii. We decided to make it a family trip. Nine of our immediate family members were able to go. We rented a house that also had a Ohana Cottage (guest house) attached, so we were all very comfortable.

After looking at hundreds of photos, I chose these to share. The Paintbrush Eucalyptus trees are on the road to Hana. Click to enlarge--they are not edited! I still can't believe they are real, they are so beautiful!

The pineapple plants were a real surprise for me. I Never gave it a thought as to how they grew. I guess I expected them to be grown on trees, not little bushes! (Remember--I'm from a small town Arizona farm.)

We like to go off the beaten path, and go at our own pace, so we explored the whole island for 10 days in rented jeeps. I loved everything about Maui and can't wait to go back someday!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sunflowers--My Muse

All my sunflowers are blooming. Once they start, they should bloom for a few months. This one has 11 blooms on the one stalk!

I do love this color. The sun is so bright- best photo I could get.

Growing up on our dairy farm we had lots of sunflowers growing along the irrigation ditches. They were all voluntary and we just considered them weeds. Those sunflowers were not the giant ones like I grow, but smaller versions. My sis and I had a little clubhouse that we built on our own by stacking long logs, just like a log cabin would be built. We did that all on our own at 7 and 9 years old. We would pick the wild sunflowers our clubhouse table, and one time, tried lighting up and smoking a sunflower stalk

In addition to the sunflowers, we picked up cattle bones, bird's nests, snake skins, rocks , broken glass and anything else that we could find to display on the table. I think it was supposed to be a museum. We built our clubhouse to have meetings of the Sunshine Club--my sister's idea so that she could be the boss and call the shots as President. We made a potato stamp alphabet to put out a little club newsletter. Needless to say the newsletter was short. If we wanted to do it again, we have to carve new stamps.

Our days were spent swimming in the irrigation ditches (except in Polio season) and dipping in the cattle-watering troughs. We licked the salt blocks put out for the cows, and scooped up globs of molasses from a 55-gallon barrel set on big steel dishes. As the cows would lick it up, more would come out onto the dish. It was a dietary supplement for the dairy cows, but to us, it was an occasional semi-sweet treat!

We loved smashing the cow ticks that crawled up on the milk barn walls, and we drove pickup trucks and tractors at 7 years old. We built lighting rods and and put them on the top of the haystack. (Now that was DUMB!) We climbed up the windmill, avoiding bare electrical wires on the way up to the top. (That was also DUMB!) We made trams for puppies that transversed the haystack and barn. We tried to use it ourselves, but it was too flimsy.

Yes, we were a little wild and daring, but we never got sick, had only a few stitches now and then and never lost a puppy to the tram. We had no toys or TV so we came up with something new and fun to do every day. So, I have a lot of great stories and memories from my childhood. All these memories, brought back because of a few sunflowers!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Wal-Mart Rescue

This is my rescue from Wal-Mart. They had 6 different cactus planted in a pink cereal bowl without a drain hole, and they were soaking wet. I brought it home and separated them, washed off the muck, replanted and was rewarded today with this yellow flower! I hope the others will feel the same way and bloom for me. It is a Thelocactus setispinus. It will stay small, no more than about 6-inches high.

This is another way to create a display of Devil's Claw. This was exhibited the Visitor Center at the Hassayampa River Preserve we attended last week. It's too much trouble to make one like this. If I could find one for sale I think I would buy it!