Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Full of Surprises

I planted the Carolina Jessamine on an iron trellis that I hope will hide the narrow space of my side yard as I plan to paint it a bright color. Always worried about the HOA! I don't want folks who walk around the lake to see my side view. I hope it fills in quickly before it gets too hot to paint. It's already 86 degrees today! I have chosen three colors that look great together! It's a surprise and soon you will see the finished project!

The Calendulas are crowding out the potted ornamental grass. The Calendulas and two unidentified shoots are a surprise! I planted Zinnias in the garden that have not come up yet-- but who knows--they may show up someday somewhere!

Each day a new color sweet pea blooms! Thanks to Claude on the tip from Grandma, the garlic powder saved them from no-see-ums. I will have a couple of months of pure unmitigated happiness!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Flowers Have Arrived!

Here are a few blooms from my garden this morning. The zinnias always look good! This one has an unusual pattern, with the tips of the petals a darker gold than the rest of the petal.

Parry's Penstemon--not planted here, but they came to this spot either from the wind or birds.

The sweet peas, labeled 'Old Fashioned', are very fragrant. The first blooms always seem to have the sweetest smell. A Swedish writer named Gunnar Ekelof, writes that every human being is allowed 180 seconds of pure and unmitigated happiness--not at once, but total in our lifetime! Well I have spent that 180 seconds just smelling my sweet peas today! I think he was mistaken- he most likely never met a gardener!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Desert Stomping

We were up at dawn ready to head north on any back road that looked intriguing. The destination didn't matter--the only expectation was to find wildflowers! I love getting up with no idea what lies ahead, so off we went...

Luckily, that car in the bottom of the riverbed isn't ours! Sometimes when riding on the narrow, bumpy dirt roads, seeing ravines on one side or another or steep inclines and drops, I imagine this is how we'll end up! (No pun intended.)

We heard the birds before we rounded the corner..and then, hundreds of black birds. We scared most of them of driving by. I would have liked to record their warbling--maybe those soothing sounds would help my sleepless nights.

The rock formation is crying out for one of the rock painters to create it into an animal. But then, it's against the law to deface rocks and stuff in the desert. I like the natural look better anyway. But, it I was a rock painter, I'd turn it into a fat dog begging!

These are the first and only wildflowers I found on this trip! Just the three poppies in bloom. What a disappointment. We just didn't get enough rain this winter to give us a spectacular display like last year.

The prickly pear cactus is growing uphill. It is rooted in the rock only on the bottom pad, and the top half is airborne! Looks like it is trying to climb the side of the hill. Maybe it's trying to find some top soil to root. Spunky little prickly pear!

After traveling over 4 hours (3 hours of hard 4-wheeling) and only making it 35 miles, we decided to call it a day! Another 4 hours back--ugh!--I didn't get a lot of photos as I was mostly interested in staying alive! I couldn't get out of the truck--couldn't climb through the gulches, ravines and rocks going uphill. I kept my eyes closed most of the way. Good thing Hubby kept his eyes open or we could have ended up like the vehicle in the top photo! We will find a better way to go next weekend. I am determined to find those elusive wildflowers!

It is so small a thing

to have enjoy'd the sun

to have lived light in the spring

to have loved, to have thought, to have done?

- Matthew Arnold

Sunday, February 15, 2009

White Tanks Trip Continued

These photos were taken on our recent White Tank Mountain trip. Click to enlarge any photo. The desert is lush and beautiful right now because of the recent rains. On this trip, we didn't see or hear any wildlife at all. Maybe they were hiding in the abundant grass and bushes on the desert floor.

You can see the steam from the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station from almost any area in the West Valley. It is located about 55 miles west of Phoenix, and it produces the most power--of any kind of power producer--in the whole United States. The plant was up and running in 1988.

According to Arizona Public Service, "Palo Verde is the only nuclear plant in the United States that does not sit on a large body of water. Instead, it uses treated effluent from several area municipalities to meet its cooling water needs, recycling 20 billion gallons of waste water each year."

This barrel cactus must have had some kind of damage to its top at one time. It looks like another, smaller cactus was grafted on top!

This Saguaro cactus is tenacious and just determined to live! I can't tell if the broken part is an arm, or maybe part of the trunk. Whatever it is, it's growing the two arms, which could mean it is a trunk. I'll check back in a few years--'God willing and the creek don't rise' to see if these two cactus are still alive and thriving. I can't wait for the next trail ride!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weird Cactus Day

My brother collected these Saguaro Boots from the cacti on his property. These boots are formed as scar tissue around the places here woodpeckers peck out a place to nest. They peck out the flesh of the cactus in a downward direction so they can put the base of the nest out of sight from the hole. It makes a boot shape. When the Saguaro dies, these boots are exposed within the cactus skeleton as all the flesh rots away.

My brother bought some land that was virgin desert, and when cleaning it up, he found the cactus skeleton and boot. It's illegal to collect these from the wild. People sometimes use these for craft making or as a natural display.

Grabbing some cheese and crackers, a few pieces of fruit we didn't want to waste another minute of the glorious cloudy day so we decided to check the progress of desert wildflowers. It had been raining part of the night and early morning, so of course the desert rain smell was the biggest lure. We drove about 30 miles to the west side of the White Tank mountains and took a back road to see what we could find.

There were a lot of trails to choose from. We only had to use the 4-wheel-drive twice, and I never had to get out of the truck! We drove 21 miles of the back roads and did not see a wildflower in bloom, or much wildlife for that matter, but saw plenty of strange looking cacti!

This Saguaro has arms growing from the base. I can't remember ever seeing one like it. They typically grow many years before the arms start growing. Because of the growth pattern, it may be a Cardon cactus instead of a Saguaro.

A hawk is watching us drive by.

Perhaps this is her nest.

This barrel cactus fell over and has part of its roots exposed. It has numerous heads growing from the top. I counted 31! Very strange!

Not sure what kind of growth this is. Could be a callus formed after it lost an arm, or maybe some of the liquid oozed out of the cactus after an injury and it hardened into a boot-like structure. I have not seen a cactus boot on the outside of a cactus! The growth is quite high on the tall, armless cactus.

This Cholla will be blooming soon.

Looks like this one grew a long time before deciding to grow the second crop of arms. Perhaps it was a change of life multiple birth years after the first born quads! As we turned around and headed for home, I though we'd had another splendid day loving and living in the Sonoran desert!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

I'm Lucky Enough

They say if you're lucky enough to live near water, you're lucky enough.
I am thankful for being able to live in this beautiful community in my small house by the lake.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bound for Another Try

I bought this Urban Rebounder a week ago. I have had about three of them in the past. This is the latest, a new and improved model with a bar attached to hang on to. So, I asked my Cardiologist if I could use it, even though I have intermittent high blood pressure. He ask me to jump up and down without it. I told him I couldn't as gravity was fighting against me. He said, "then you need to use it." I'm changing doctors!....