Temper, Temper…ature!

WTF! We just survived the hottest June in Tucson history! As a menopausal woman with hot flashes, this is NOT the ideal place for me to live in the summer! ¬†But, regardless of the sweat drenched attempts to sit on the porch trying to enjoy some outdoor time, life in the desert goes on! Everyone and everything is just looking for a little relief, and there are those that can get a little bitchy, a little crazy and even a little tempra-mental! Take the cardinal that’s figured out if he comes and sits on the patio and screams at us long enough, he will eventually get a little refreshment…

TEMPERcardinalgrape

I’d like to think that if I sit on the porch and bitch long enough, someone will bring me a refreshing treat before I burst into flames! But, actually, I need to go into the house for a little blast of air-conditioning, get my own refreshment…perhaps an icy Tangueray and Tonic….ahhhh yes ūüôā And then I’m ready to go sit back out on the porch and sweat some more!

And after a drink… or two, with my irritability slightly extinguished, I can enjoy some summer antics happening in the yard, as the desert critters go about their business.

Now, here’s a guy that loves the heat! When nature turns up the heat, he turns up the colors! …Or wait a minute…did I just have one too many drinks? Actually, I believe his colors go crazy when he’s hot, like in a Van Haleny/ ‘hot-for-creature’ kind of way ūüėČ

TEMPER_LIZ

Poor Gerti (our desert tortoise)…

TEMP_GERTI

She can only dream about a ‘hot’ summer romance. No wonder she gets so grumpy!…Really! If you don’t think a tortoise can have a fit, think again! When she’s mad she stomps back into her house and won’t come out for days!

The sizzling summer heat brings out the beast in everyone! Check out these squirrels!…They literally went NUTS!

TEMPERCHIPMUNKS

I mean, holy crap!…You can actually see ’em ūüėČ

Thank goodness there’s only 3 more months of this crazy hot summer!!!

Quenched & Drenched

We’ve had 4 inches of rain, and still, the monsoons rage across the desert. The ground is soaked, the trees are green, the air is thick and mushrooms of various types are sprouting all over the yard.

I think this might be the wettest season I have experienced since living here! At this rate, Todd’s Backyard is likely to become a jungle!

We actually had a pretty wet winter. This is what the quail pavilion looked like around March…

This is what it looked like this morning! We’re lucky if it gets this green by the end of the monsoons (around mid September). We should have a great crop of prickly pear fruit this fall…mmmm….can’t wait for those margaritas!

I don’t know if the resident wildlife are happy this time of year. I can’t believe it’s easy for all the birds to weather the raging storms. The squirrels must be miserable getting flooded out of their underground homes.¬† The javelina have to love it…they get a nice bath (which they really, really need!) But for sure, all of the plants and the cactus are getting fat and happy!…Well, maybe…

Our old man cactus looks a little grumpy. But I guess his budding blossom would mean otherwise!

Monsoon Soon???

Oh, (sigh….)… everyone and everything in Todd’s Backyard is so ready for the desert’s Summer rainy season!¬† Almost every afternoon, for the past week, at the peak of the heat, we check the clouds that start to build up. Just to tease us, right now…

Heard a little thunder….but still, no rain!

Everywhere you look, the rabbits are stretched out, under the cactus, in the dirt,trying to get at least a little relief from the parched ground. Once the rains come, this will be prime rabbit real estate, as the ground cools off.

The once silky ‘old man’ cactus is really getting frazzled baking in the sun! Hopefully the moisture will restore his fluffy ‘do!

Waiting for the monsoons, the hummingbirds are resting more often. Usually with their little beaks open and wings fanned out, to cool down. They may also be resting up to save their strength, so they can endure the violent storms to come!

Everyone is looking forward to the monsoons! Especially these guys…

The Colorado River Toads- they hibernate underground all year until the rains come, then watch out! Sometime around August it’s likely to become Toad’s Backyard!

105 at 5…

And our feathered friends are unphased!

Late this afternoon, at 5 o’clock pm, I gathered my camera and a cold beer and ventured out to the porch to see if I could catch any entertaining activity in Todd’s Backyard. Even though it was like sitting in a blast furnace, the desert critters were still out doing their thing! I thought about going back inside to the nice air-conditioned house and watch some news. But, as I watched all my little feathered and furry friends go about their business, I couldn’t help but feel a little in jealous of their tolerance of the intense desert heat!

So I figure, if they can take it, so can I! So, I settled in to watch the late afternoon routine unfold.

Heat or no heat, I always look forward to seeing this little quail family every afternoon. The family consists of 3 babies and a Dad. The mom must have met her end. What’s really special about this group, is one of the babies is crippled…he has a gimpy little leg and hops along after his sibs and dad. The dad always patiently waits for his little hop-along baby. And under Dad’s watchful eye, they make their rounds.

Todd got a new feeder yesterday. A feeder that the big white wing doves can’t get into and eat all of the seed. Tonight smaller birds checked it out and giving it their whole-hearted approval!

This poor quail is still looking for a mate !….Every night, without fail, he finds his post and calls out for his long-lost love. We hear his ka-kaw! ka-kaw until the sun goes down!

Mr. cardinal found a nice shady spot to catch a little dinner.

The finches flocked to their 5 o’clock feast!

And the dove found a nice cool drink!

So, by about 6 o’clock, the thermometer had sunk to 100, I had consumed¬† a few more cold beers and life was good! And tomorrow, when once again it’s 105 at 5, it will be another amazing day!…Sweet!…..I mean Sweat!

Sunday Morning Serenity

This morning started with a bang….literally! A large white wing dove hit the bedroom window, flushed by a hungry hawk. The impact shook the house and instantly killed the dove. It hit so hard, it left a ghostly an imprint…

Needless to say, it did’t seem like a great beginning to an otherwise peaceful Sunday morning.

However, we were pleasantly surprised to open the sliding glass doors to a cool breeze reminiscent  of cooler spring days and the yard drenched in a lovely late Spring, early morning light! The day was looking up!

As we sat with our coffee, taking in the perfect peace, our little ‘Chi-otie’ found a patch of sun to get her warmed up for the day…

And the succulents perched on the porch ledge, were soaking up the sun as well…

I think it IS going to be a lovely day!

Just the Beginning

As I start my own new phase in life, Todd’s Backyard is lending me great inspiration in it’s incredible re-birth after a long rainy winter! The yard has never ‘lushed’ out¬† so soon in the season. It usually doesn’t look like this until July…

Now, this may not look like much to some folks, but the blossoming cactus are the star of the show….

And it’s just the beginning!

This is something we haven’t seen…two different colored flowers on the same plant!

The Buckhorn cholla, ready to burst with fiery fusha flowers!

And here it is…

The entire yard is ready to burst with color!  The possibility of  total dazzlement , is due to  all the rain that has  blessed the desert this winter. In the seven years we have lived here, this promises to be the most amazing seasonal event we have ever witnessed!

And this is going to be one of the most spectacular events….hopefully tomorrow night!

Can’t wait for all the incredible ‘blossombilities’!

I will keep you posted!

All Hail the King Quail

Last Sunday we got to witness the spectacular tournament of the local male quail competing for the rights of ‘royalty’. There were about 2o gathered at the base of a mesquite tree. Each would take turns trying to knock off¬† the quail perched on the highest limb.

Each male quail would take turns. As one got pushed out of the tree, another would  fly up to take his place.

On the ground, the defeated were consoled¬† by their disappointed mates…

A perfectly princely pose!

And finally the celebratory KA-KAAAAW!…KA- KAAAAW!

All Hail the King Quail

KA- QURADULATIONS!

Hooligans, Holes & Havoc!

I have been reminded in the past few weeks, how hard and sometimes haunting, life in the desert can be.¬† And, I have to keep reminding myself, that life at home in Todd’s Backyard, is not just a haven for harmony and happiness. There are more than a few residents that are destructive, dastardly, even deadly!¬† It may make it a little easier¬† to remind myself of these things, when I’m 1,000 miles away in Michigan, pining away for my peaceful desert oasis.

The¬† Cow Birds…

The scourge of the summer- 3 of them showed up about 2 weeks ago…now there are about 20. Next week, there will be 50! The nasty little secret about these birds, is that they look for the nests of other birds, like orioles and cardinals, dump out the eggs and lay their own.¬† Then, they leave their young to be raised by the surrogate parents! The cardinals and orioles must be a bit surprised when they see their foreign offspring, but nature’s duty dictates that they take care of them. We often see an oriole, cardinal, sparrow and other native birds feeding baby cow birds!

Then there are the Cutter Ants….

Ok….I’m in Michigan, can’t go take a picture of the ants. So, via Wikopedia here’s a pic-

Actually, I probably, couldn’t take a picture in Todd’s backyard anyway. These little beasts come out at night.

And….they can destroy and entire small tree or shrub in just 1 night! I was reminded of them today, when I was talking to some of my Michigan colleagues about gardens. They were talking about all of the flowers and luscious produce they will reap this summer. Todd was very excited to plant a ‘Salsa’ garden last spring. Peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, basically everything needed for a fab salsa fresco! Todd built an extravagant¬† cage to keep the garden protected from the rabbits and other hungry varmints. But….he did not take into consideration…..the ants!

The Cutter ants ate just about everything! So much for garden grown salsa!

Now lets talk about the Dirt Monkeys….a.k.a roundtail squirrels-

Oh, yes….they are cute!!

But for anyone who has walked around Todd’s Backyard, you know. With every step, you feel as if the entire yard will collapse beneath you!

And it could…

Holes, holes everywhere!

Yeah, we see you!

But perhaps even worse…Other creepy crawlers hang out in Todd’s Backyard’s underground laberynths.

This guy came out of his hole to hang with us on the porch one afternoon…Kind of ‘Halloweeny’!

He’s not deadly, but this guy is….

Luckily, we’ve had rattle snake traing for our dogs…but that’s a whole other story!

Ok….now I’m homesick!

Cowbirds, dirt monkeys, ants, snakes….oh yeah, I didn’t mention centipedes, scorpions, gila monsters, tarantulas/tarantula wasps, roadrunners (yes, they are vicious!) The Arizona desert can be harsh (Or ‘vicious’, as my Michigan colleagues claim) But, I love these things! Heaven wouldn’t¬† be heaven without a little hell! Hmmmmm? After all, it is the WILD west!

Sunrise or Sunset?

I don’t know about you, but it seems like every day I’m trying to pull my head above water and breath some optimism into my life. I don’t mean to sound morbid or depressed, but times now are kind of scary! Todd’s and my life has been blessed… But,¬† I’m more concerned for this world than I have ever known. I do pray everyday….And I’m not even a church goer!…Thats right…I Don’t Go To Church (God forgive me!)…But I know that I’m so blessed to have a sanctuary like Todd’s Backyard, to keep me focused and and centered in God’s love.¬† I pray for my family, I pray for my friends, I pray for this country, I pray for everyone in this world!

Some of the¬† most inspirational times in Todd’s Backyard, to me, are the spectacular sunrises and sunsets in the desert.

The most amazing sunsets are before, or after the worst storms!

‘The Eye of God’

The thing is, all of the photos that we’ve captured, have been of sunsets, even though the sunrises can be just as spectacular!

It makes me think about Benjamin Franklin, when he sat, in physical misery, at the Constitutional Convention. He kept his mind off of his physical pain by staring at the back of a chair which was carved with a sun…..He could not tell if, in this carving, the sun was rising or setting.

I think a lot of folks these days, think that the sun is setting, on their lives, on this nation, on this world….But I do believe the best could, and will¬† be ahead…because with the storm, the sunset may take your breath away, but there is always a sunrise to come!

The Cottontail Club‚ĶWhere great bunns like to party!

Warning: This post may be slightly offensive…. It contains a ridiculous amount of corny puns…but what else can you do when you write about bunns?

Bunns, bunns everywhere! (Rabbits, that is…)We’ve had a bit of a hop-ulation explosion in the past couple of years…. I expect the next few weeks things are really going to be hoppin’ around Todd’s Backyard. Lot’s of bunns in the oven this spring and the arrival of many new little bunn-dles of joy.

The Cottontail Club is not particularly exclusive… members only require a ‘hip-hop’ vibe. So, you may not be surprised to see quail, doves and dirt monkeys join their early morning and afternoon parties.

A pair of hares…. double trouble! (Are cottontail rabbits considered hares???)

When they’re not grazing, playing or partying, the bunns like to find a rab-bit ‘o’ shade and hunker down.

Zoe would love to join the Cottontail Club, but she certainly lacks that ‘hip-hop’ vibe.

Besides… A crazy cat in the crowd, could put a little damper in their scamper!

OK! OK! …enough! Somebunny stop me now!!