Gotta Keep Believing!


Change….Evolution…Everything begins and comes to an end….And then it begins again, sometimes when we least expect it! Life’s cycles should be expected, but are usually unpredictable. Like life in the desert. The seasons come and go, bringing with them lovely mild moments and breathtaking sunsets to the searing heat and ferociously destructive bursts of the Summer monsoons! Always changing and adapting, but forever surviving!

There is something comforting in that. I believe that there is always a purpose and a reason for everything! We have recently been faced with  a major life change forcing us to make profound adjustments. The stress is overwhelming. We may be faced with the decision to sell our home and leave Todd’s Backyard to someone else’s loving care. But, even if that happens, there will always be a ‘Todd’s Backyard’…somewhere. We will always find beautiful and fascinating material to keep this blog alive wherever we end up.

But, I do believe God gives us signs and direction if you pay attention. And, I am paying attention!  I am going to follow the path he has chosen, but it’s not going to be easy! Giving thanks with a joyful heart to the opportunities we are given will be the key!  So, with my trust in God,  I will  face the future with bright optimism and peace.

And for anyone else going through ‘prickly times’ I found these 5 mantras for surviving them:

  1. All situations are temporary- everything is always in transition!
  2. There is no wrong decision- what is meant to be will be.
  3. You have survived difficult times before- Think about how you got through them.
  4. Be still and know- Be in the now- don’t worry about the future, concentrate on the present. Take one step at a time!
  5. Trust the guidance of the universe- Choose to believe where you are is OK!

Everythingz Fuzzy!

Warning:  If you suffer from Spring Allergies, just looking at these photos might bring tears to your eyes! 

Though beauty abounds in the  Desert Spring, we sometimes endure it with a little sting. When the temperature rises and starts to prickle, our noses start running and twinge with a tickle. Budding plants, ready to burst with a buzz, are covered with soft and treacherous fuzz!

100_6717Treesy Sneezy!! The acacia is the worst! However, it smells delightful, such a terrible curse!


The creosote bush has small balls (and a bunch!) They might lack in size, but pack a mighty pollen punch!


But, some budding beasts will compensate our misery with a spectacular show of nature’s wizardry!


These small sleeping gremlins perched atop the Argentinian Giant, shed their furry coats as they wake up and burst into a floral triumph!



The furry buds below look  much the same…


Until they burst out into their splendorous brilliant flame!


Itchy eyes, runny nose, sinus headache, God only knows! Although we suffer through the season, there’s always a rhyme to the reason!  🙂

Where ever you are, what ever you do, ride out the Spring…God Bless and aaaaa…. aaaaaa….AAAAACHHHOOOooo!





Wood You Be Mine?….Or not…

It IS that time of year….a frantic buzz of excitement- the chirps , squawks and squeaks- the birds and the bees are stirring!  Spring mating time is noisy! One of the more raucous merry makers, are the quail. Their distinct “cacaaawww…cacaaaaaaawwwww!” is heard frequently. They have a funny little ritual of climbing trees to call out their potential tweet-hearts! Let’s say, they get high on love 😉

Late afternoon is when they particularly like to ‘get high’. It was at that time, last week, when we witnessed  a would be wooer going wacky!

Todd had installed an ironwood quail carving on the branch of one of our mesquite trees a while ago. I never noticed that it had ever drawn any attention from the local bird population. That is, until a lovelorn quail discovered it and was apparently enraptured.

He climbed to the limb above, that had been conveniently cut into the perfect perch. There, he would try to get his wooden maiden to notice him….When she ‘wooden’t’, he jumped down and climbed back up again….and again….and again…putting his male to the quail…to no avail.

The poor guy was so distraught that Todd had to take down the tree trapped temptress.  I had to set this sad love story to little music…..

And with that, my friends, we raise our glasses to this lonely quail’s attempt at romance- certainly a great ‘CaCaaaaaws’!

Meet the Varmints- Episode 1- Rocky

Todd’s Backyard is filled with an assortment of furry little creatures….Varmints, if you will. In fact, we seem to have created a varmint paradise. Supplying a plentiful bounty for our birds, of course invites these little bastards. But, they keep the hawks, snakes, bobcats and coyotes fat and happy around here! You could call it Todd’s  Backyard Wildlife Diner!

Now, ‘Diner’ really fits since we got our new little Bird Photo Booth ( a feeder that is attached to a motion activated camera! We decided to introduce the contraption to the ground dwellers, as they might provide some entertainment before the jaws of nature snap them up.

The first varmint that decided to check it out was our resident rock squirrel, as we so dubbed him Rocky. Not totally original, but fitting….


He figured out quite quickly, this was pretty cool…


As did a few others.

Rocky got a nice dinner and gave us some great mug shots…

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv


And that, my friends is Rocky!


The Unearthly Hour

Cue music and let the story begin…

Something haunting and mysterious happens when the sun sinks low in the sky and lingers for just a brief period of time.  The sun’s setting rays illuminate the desert landscape with dramatic effect. All of the strange little details are revealed, that, which might otherwise go unnoticed. The hour has come which turns Todd’s Backyard into a strange place, not of this world…


The show begins when some cactus catch your attention, having suddenly turned into bizarre silhouettes. Their shadowed forms, outlined with spiny halos, are transformed into some kind of grotesque creatures springing from the ground! I can almost imagine them like the many-headed serpent the ancient Greeks called the Hydra, hissing and writhing …(As if rattlesnakes weren’t scary enough ;o) !!!


Some of the cactus on our porch turn into wooly alien creatures that can make your own hairs prickle with the anticipation…Just waiting to see if they might start dancing or climbing out of their pots like little gremlins. Oh, the mischief they could cause!


Spiky flames, that were once agave, flicker with moving shadows, setting the yard ablaze in a shades of green…



Patches of short spiky spires carpet portions of the yard. Neither man, nor beast dare walk in their prickly path!


And as the visual drama heightens the senses, the bird’s happy songs turn into the screeching cries of souls that loom among the lightness and the dark! (Ok, maybe a little too sinister?)

But this IS rather sinister…Spider webs appear out of nowhere, now to be seen glistening among the cactus throughout the entire yard! (Yikes…now realizing how many spiders we have!)


And then, with only moments before the show ends, the sun sizzles on the horizon like a fierce red eye casting it’s gaze on the landscape, creating shapes and shadows that devour the yard in it’s glowering wake.


For that unearthly hour each day,  the spell has been cast.  We can put reality aside and just imagine. Be it monsters, fairies, demons or angels…It’s the time when our minds can play after a long day of work and possibly a few drinks ;)! And it is with this climatic ending,  that the curtain falls. The sun has sunk behind the hills and Todd’s Backyard returns to the serene sanctuary in the desert preparing for a peaceful slumber and the dreams to come….

I just hope I don’t have nightmares!….

Auuugh spiders….. and cactus gremlins…

Rocks of Ages

It’s a new year!

And Todd’s Backyard?….It’s still here!

Kinda like sands through the hour glass, (wink, wink 😉 , a little tribute to my mom’s favorite soap opera),  the days of our lives keep on sifting and shifting.  2015 was a little rocky. But, I guess somehow getting rough and tumbled now and then, can really ‘polish’ your perspective on life!! 2016 promises to be the beginning of a dazzling new year. And one of my many New Year’s resolutions is to start blogging again on a regular basis! So, it’s time to rock ‘n’ roll…

In the Sonaran Desert, rocks are, as you might suspect, plentiful! River rocks are a main staple in a lot of the landscaping in these parts. You will see many yards with dry rock river beds running through their property. In our case, Todd built this one that runs right off of our back porch which lines a natural wash. So, when it rains, it turns into a lovely little babbling brook! With El Nino visiting this year, it’s been running quite a bit!


 Todd has used a lot of river rock in his landscaping, but, we have been lucky to embellish the yard with the natural rock we find right in our own yard!   We just happen to live a stone’s throw from the base of a large copper mine! So we’ve created a few little rock gardens to show off and display the rich mineral colors that are the trademark of the South West…


Azurite, malachite, chalocite, antite, chalcopyrite, this-ite and that-ite…We totally dig living in the ‘ite’deal location for rock fans like us!! Several years ago, the town of Sahuarita redid the main street at the end of our block,  which runs close to the mine. They dug up tons rock filled with glistening crystals and vibrant colors, leaving the piles on the side of the road! So, we took our wheelbarrow and a pick and traveled down the street to do a little ‘mining’ ourselves….

Not only did we find some lovely colors, we were most happy to find some gorgeously quartz laced rock…




Alas, we found no gold, silver or copper 😉 But the crystals were a nice addition to Todd’s Backyard landscape!

 My interest in rocks actually goes way back! Back to the prehistoric era that was my childhood! I attribute my appreciation for rocks, to my mom. When I was 4 years old, she took me rock hunting on the shores of Flathead lake, where she grew up. It was there and then that I discovered some varieties of rocks that tickled my imagination….Like flint (the material that the indians used to make their arrowheads). Petrified wood (which looked just like wood but it was a rock!)  And best of all, agates! These beautiful rocks that are transparent  and glow with colors when you hold them up to the light! All of these rocks were special, magical…they were treasures that could be found right on the ground!  By age 10, my entire room was filled with rocks! Rocks that I had either found, or bought from rock shops on our many family vacations. I learned all the names and knew all the scientific facts of each specimen- My dream was to become a geologist! But years later, that bubble burst  when I found out that the mastery of math was involved in such scientific endeavors.  ;p

 I never stopped loving rocks. Inevitably, my eyes always go to the ground when I’m out in places where the prospects for finding a rocky treasure might be good!  Once a rock hound, always a rock hound! Years ago I passed on the best of my childhood rock collection to my nephew when he was younger. However, I held onto and still have, many of the rocks from my childhood. Todd and I have  given them a special home in Todd’s  Backyard….


There they sit, around the base of our chimenea mixed with other rocks that Todd and I have collected in the later years of our lives together. I don’t remember the names of many of them, but I remember many of the stories behind them….


Pictured above was one of the very first rocks I ever found, back on the shores of Flathead lake. Mom called it flint, but I believe most rock experts call it jasper. I always imagined the indians chipping away at it to make their arrow heads! We also found many arrow heads on those same shores!

 Now displayed where Todd and I can enjoy them everyday, these rocks create their own kind of magic and artistic inspiration, especially when viewed in a different perspective…

use10(Tourmaline, agate, petrified wood, rose quartz)

use4(Petrified wood, desert roses, turquoise, azurite)

use9(Agates, quartz, turquoise, azurite)

Close up, they can be appreciated for the exquisite artwork, only God can create!

Although I have aged and my mother is gone, these treasured rocks will remain ageless and will live on through the ages, holding within them all of the dreams once held by the little girl I once was.  And holding all of the memories of the woman that has found  some of her greatest treasures in Todd’s Backyard!


I’ve taken some of these photo images and created products that are available on Todd’s Backyard Zazzle Shop:

Grey Granite and Quartz Mug
Grey Granite and Quartz Mug by ToddsBackyard
Check out Rock Mugs online at zazzle
Turquoise Treasure Pillow
Turquoise Treasure Pillow by ToddsBackyard
Browse Zazzle for a different throw pillow.

A Summery Summary

It seems just like yesterday Spring had sprung, but before we knew it, Summer had begun. The mild temps and gentle  Spring breeze suddenly turned to a searing 100 + degrees!  But even over the Summer we love our desert home and will recount this season’s events with this little poem…

We  were pleasantly surprised around mid June with an early debut of the Summer’s monsoon! Quenching the desert and keeping it wet…


And the cloudy skies painted the most brilliant sunsets!


Everything slows down in the monsoon’s muggy heat. An afternoon siesta is a sweet Summer treat!


Unfortunately, there’s some creatures that just dont’ relax…Like the pillaging, plundering, leaf cutter ants…


In the darkness of night they march by the billions, causing so much destruction it shocks us human civilians!

IMG_7658The remains of a pepper plant in the garden.

Every night through the Summer Todd goes on the attack, with a flame thrower and flashlight he torches them back. It’s Todd’s futile fight and a nightly ordeal, but I guess playing with flame thrower holds some sort of appeal?


We have a new resident we see quite a lot. He’s out and about when the day is most hot. But, lizards do love the heat, that’s in their code, I just can’t figure out why they call this lizard a toad?

POEM11Horny Toad 


Summer brings hordes of tiny baby quail, lined up behind mom, with their dad on their tail.  Sadly, quail babies are easy snackable fowl, for hungry hunters out on the prowl. As the Summer moved on we watched their numbers shrink, but those young ones remaining have grown larger, like these getting a drink…


The baby quail , if not born into a family that’s wary, could end up as unfortunate Road Runner quarry. Some folks think Road Runners are really cool, but we think they’re creepy, sneaky and cruel. Small baby critters snatched away in a wink, even humming birds are not as safe as you think!

POEM6Road Runner- (Primary baby quail eater).


After our pond had been ransacked by a wayward heron last year, we  couldn’t bear an empty pond, as Summer drew near. So, Todd restocked the pond with some simple goldfish, hoping the heron won’t come back for another fishy dish.


Todd then decided to put his construction cap on and build a shady shelter over the pond. It’s an attractive addition the backyard scene, keeping the fish happy and the pond from getting too green!



With all the rain it’s felt almost like the tropics, making it seem possible to grow something rather exotic. However, a lush rain forrest we are not,  but something like pineapples, guess what, we got!

This is our neighbor’s amazing apple-of-pine…We helped them eat it, and it was divine!



Last year I bought this plant that already came with it’s fruit. We let it ripen, then we ate it, then planted it’s top to take root.

 Below is the plant thats growing from that little top. Who knew pineapples were such a yummy, recyclable crop!


However, we won’t expect a fruit for another whole year… Lots of patience required for this kind of farming career!

Todd definitely has some magic ‘green thumb’ power…. Early, his garden produced some lovely cauliflower.


There were also some broccoli and some nice chili plants. The chilis would still be chillin’ if not for those damn leaf cutter ants!

We do have another crop that’s just now ready to pick…the prickly pear fruit…we’ve never them so thick!


We will pick and deprickle them, then squeeze out the juice, which we freeze in ice cube trays for later use! (…like margaritas;)


Our Gerti has had an enjoyable Summer, hanging out with old friends and a few new comers.


She’s shared her house with lizards, rabbits and mice. And we uncovered some rattlesnakes in her garden, twice!! Thankfully, she didn’t seem at all destressed , but we totally freaked out, I must confess!


Gerti was introduced to her strange mini twins, she was not at all impressed, to our chagrin. Now, they’ve had a chance to get to know each other, I think the little ones think Gerti’s maybe their mother?


This Summer was the first after many changes last year, the loss of loved many ones we held so dear. But, we’ve been nourished by all of our many blessings as the desert’s season’s keep on progressing. The Summer rains have washed away the tears and renewed our strength with hope and cheer. Cheers!

Life keeps on going as time marches along…


And to this hot muggy Summer, we say so long!

Let Me Tell You ‘Bout the Birds and the Bees and the Flowers and the Trees….

And the Clouds Up Above…. And a thing called Love….

I LOVE this Spring! The desert is bursting with blossoms and buzzing with activity. The unusually wet weather has made this month aMAYzing!! It usually doesn’t get this lush and green until mid July! And the Palo Verde Trees were spectacular with their brilliant canopies of yellow! I just love the Palo Verde Trees!


 In fact, it’s been a monsoon-like this Spring…Just last week it built up in the afternoon. Big billowing clouds with distant rolls of thunder and a hint of rain wafting in the air. We love these kinds of days before the heat of summer has us in it’s grasp! Gotta Love it!!


Yesterday, the temperature only got up to about 73! By this time of year it’s not unusual to hit the 100 degree mark. Needless to say, the flora and fauna are flourishing with the cooler, wetter weather!  In April the Cactus started to blossom and paint the desert with their brilliant shades of magentas, oranges and yellows…


The Buckhorn Cholla. Love them prickles ‘n all!



 The Pencil Cactus…Love!

 And the Prickly Pear  popped with a variety of  peaches and yellows…Love, Love Love!



Some of the blossoms are bugged 🙂 Love…not so much!

The bounty of blossoms attract all kinds-

Even the beezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…


Um…..Love them????

A few weeks ago, we were shocked to discover the mesquite tree that sits right off of our porch, had been bee-dazzled by a huge swarm! We have never seen anything like this. I didn’t even notice them until my brother-in-law pointed it out! The dogs and I had been walking around the tree and sitting right next to them for some time.  These were, most likely, killer bees…or a killer bee hybrid which, I’ve been told most bees in this area, are now. I’ve also been told that they usually only get aggressive when they’re threatened by certain noises or smells. Luckily, we didn’t buzz them off!…We must smell and sound ok?  They disappeared as suddenly as they appeared, when it warmed up in the morning…Whewwww!

I’m pretty sure that the birds that frequent that particular tree were happy to see them go as well! I noticed while the bees were there, the birds, especially the humming birds were chased away by the buzzy bee guardians.  But after their abrupt departure, the usuals came back to their favorite hangout….


The Orioles


The Cardinals


And the Humming Birds. Love them all!

But unfortunately…


The dreaded Wood Pecker resumed his perch! Can’t say I love you dude!

Of course we have a huge variety of other feathered residents, but they tend to frequent some of the other trees in the yard.

We did have a different feathered visitor which we had not seen before in Todd’s Backyard….


The Grackle.

But evidently, he was not impressed with the accommodations and left…haven’t seen him again. Hey…you’re mission’ the love! Oh, well!

So, life goes on in Todd’s Backyard and we are relishing this incredible Spring with the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, and the clouds up above…And a thing called love 😉


It was a quiet Thursday, a little more that a week ago, when I was shocked to the point of virtual heart attack!  I may not have been so terrified, if I hadn’t been horribly sick with nasty bronchial virus, and I thought that I might be hallucinating. But, I wasn’t.

I was startled out of my feverish stupor when my brother-in-law came stumbling into the house with a giant prehistoric creature in his arms. He was screaming, not just with excitement, but with the strain of the ponderous weight he was hefting though the house onto the back porch!

Had I been in my right mind, I would have immediately grabbed my camera. But, I was in such shock all I could do was gape at this thing that looked like a large fossilized boulder with 4 spiny legs and a yoda-like face with large blinking reptilian eyes….And it was gaping back at me! Probably in more shock than I was, having been hoisted and joggled into this strange place!


It was a 100 lb. Sulcata Tortoise (African Desert Tortoise)!

I had never seen one in real life. We had the opportunity to get a couple of them a few years ago, but with out a fenced yard, it would be hard to contain something like this!

So, my brother-in-law had come across this creature  lumbering down the median on a busy street near our house. Obviously, not a good place for him to be! So Jody was able to get him in his car and bring the tortoise to us, knowing that we were good tortoise folk 🙂

The most hilarious part of this little story, was what happened when Todd got home from work. We had not notified him to our new guest and waited anxiously for his reaction….. We sat there like nothing was up for a couple of minutes while Todd recounted his day, when he was distracted by a crash on the corner of the porch where he witnessed the ‘Tortzilla’ plowing over the rock sculpture Todd had so carefully placed there.  “WHAT THE F*&%K IS THAT!!!” Todd screamed as he jumped out of his chair!….

Ahhhh….It was priceless…should have got it on video! But who can think when they are sick!

Anyway, after an afternoon of speculation about this tortoise titan, I thought I better go on line and see if I could find any posts about a missing tortoise…surely someone must be missing him!! He would not be hard to miss!! But, surprisingly, I didn’t find anything. So we barricaded the porch, found a large box and filled it with hay, fed him all of the vegetables we had in the house, and spent the next few days trying to figure out what to do.


Each day I looked on line for a missing tortoise ad with no results. And the speculation continued, our imaginations went wild… This is the story we concocted:

As a tiny baby, Tortzilla had been brought to Arizona from his native African Saharan Desert home as a exotic pet around 80 years ago. After his owner died, he was let out into  Sonoran Desert to fend for himself. There, he lived, sadly alone, since he was not native to this environment. But, he continued to grow and thrive until finally he made his way back to civilization seeking companionship…Serendipty ensues and he ends up in Todd’s Backyard!….Hey! You never know 😉


Our dogs had various reactions to their new ‘brother’ tortoise…


Daizy was intrigued, but kept a respectful distance, when there was a hhhhhrunmmmff from gentle giant. Our Cavelier, Baily was totally indifferent.  Our Chihuahua, Lulu,  was terrified and wouldn’t go near this strange thing. But Bizbee, she was bound determined to make Tortzilla her best friend, even risking her nose by getting all up in his business every chance she got!



Tortzilla was extremely patient and gentle. He was fascinated by our baby torti’s when we put them on the porch for their daily sunning session.



Although, I’m not sure if he wanted to love them, or eat them! But, the babies were certainly not scared of Tortzilla!

Saturday morning rolled around and Tortzilla had made himself right at home!  After all, when in Todd’s Backyard do what Todd does 😉


But, this is not where the story ends….Sunday morning, I finally found a  post on Craigs list- Family Pet, 100 lb. missing Sulcata Tortoise in Sahuarita from a house one street over from ours. My first thought was ” Well, maybe this isn’t the same Tortoise!”  But common sense ruled and I made the call.

The Grover family was ecstatic to get their beloved Chester back!! I didn’t ask how he got lost, but I had to know  his story….the real story…of this amazing creature!

Chester is only 18 years old! He can live to be 100!!! and will probably be twice this size ;0 He has lived with the Grover family for 8 years- they got him from a Reptile Rescue in Tucson. When they got him he was very ill and they nursed him back to health. A great story if I do say so myself!

And to the Grover Family….FYI…we really did not feed him beer! Only the best tortoise healthy foods are served in Todd’s Backyard!  Please keep up posted on him!!