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…

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And the cloudy skies painted the most brilliant sunsets!

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

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

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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?

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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 

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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…

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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).

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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

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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!

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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?

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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…

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

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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…

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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 🙂 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 😉

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Poor Gerti (our desert tortoise)…

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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!

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

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

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A  puffy patchwork of purple and charcoal blue churn in the desert sky. The air is charged with a blend of humidity and anticipation. Critters scurry into their underground refuge. The birds find a strong branch perch. And Todd and I pour a drink and retire to the patio. All await the giant gust of wind and dust that signal the storm to come.

Everything  is very still and quiet. Then, a slight movement catches our eye….

There, behind the blue pot!…It is the creature!

The Creature from the Desert Hollows has arisen and joined us on the porch to announce the arrival of the season. The Monsoon is here!

The storm moves quickly, from the south, and is suddenly upon us. The yard is drenched for several minutes, when the sun breaks from behind the clouds in the west. Still raining, the drops appear as glitter falling from the sky!

It is magical monsoon moments like these that make us swoon!

The next few days hold the promise of more to come. So with camera and cocktail in hand, we will hopefully have some incredible shots of this year’s Monsoon Season!

To be continued…..

The Creature from the Desert Hollows

It was another muggy Monsoon afternoon in the mid-summer Desert. The humidity hung in the still air, the dark foreboding clouds collected in swirling pockets above Todd’s Backyard. Our skin crawled as deep thunder rumbled like warning drums….something wicked this way comes….

Family and friends gathered on the porch, cocktails in hand, awaiting the outcome of Mother Nature’s tricky plan. Rain, or not to rain? All was still, as the desert creatures stood in their heat beaten habitat waiting for the answer.

It was then, that we heard it….A blood-curdling sound….a deep rasping….croooooooaaaaaaawwwk!

Just then, a raindrop hit my arm, sending shivers down my spine. Another “Crrrooooooaaaaaawwwwkkkkk!” Then a small group wet drops splattered on the ground, followed by a burst of lighting and clap of thunder! The eerie desert drama started to unfold. Todd grabbed the camera to capture any evidence of the events to come.

He made his way into the yard, amid the sporadic droplets of rain….Then, Todd saw it! So, hideous, he was speechless!

There it was.

THE Creature

Staring up at him from the depths of hell. Beady eyes glowing with wild anticipation of the rapture that awaited him. Soon his ultimate power would be restored with the one thing that he craved above anything. Human blood!

Ok, not really!.. The thing he craved was rain.

But he was not to be tempted out of his den, as the pitter-patter of rain came and went. The clouds parted. The sun returned. The creature retreated back beneath the earth to await the next croakin’ joke Mother Nature might have in store him. Perhaps, next rain, we will get a glimpse of his toadally ugly self!

Aaaauuuuughhhhhhh!

The Hell-Bent Storm!

When the Summer Monsoons start building in the afternoons, they often just tease us with some ominous looking cloud formations.Maybe a little lighting and rumbling. And if we’re lucky, a few spurts of rain. When we await these storms with anticipation, Todd’s favorite expression is: “Maybe this will be the ‘hell-bent’ storm, baby!”

So it figures, that after our own personal ‘storm’, (Todd had an appendicitis while we were in Mexico over the 4th of July), a real tempest would be soon to follow….

It began yesterday afternoon. The clouds started to build and the humidity started to rise. It came upon us suddenly. The wind… then rain, then bigger-harder rain, hail…..

You know it’s a good storm, when the house starts rattling with the deafening sound of rain beating on the skylights. We opened all the screen doors and windows…ahhhh so refreshing! With the hail, the temperature plunged about 20 degrees!

But usually, these things stop as suddenly as they start. A 10 minute burst is usually about all we get!

About 20 minutes later…

Our porch soon became part of the wash. The water started rising throughout the yard…

By this time, our power had gone out and we were getting a little nervous as the water kept rising.

The washes that run through the back of Todd’s Backyard were overflowing. It sounded like we were on the banks of a raging river…And we were!

I think the storm may have lasted for about 40 minutes until, the rain turned to a drizzle and the water started to subside. With the power still off and nothing better to do, Todd and I decided to investigate .

THE AFTERMATH…

The washes ran for a couple of hours.

We even had a little beach front property for a while…

It’s hard to believe all the critters could survive. Perhaps many of them didn’t. We certainly haven’t seen the usual amount of wildlife activity this morning.

As we walked around Todd’s Backyard after the storm, we encountered many drenched birds…

Todd  plucked a baby bird out of the sand where it had been half buried in a wash. It was still alive, so I scooped it up and got it going…

It seemed to be ok after she warmed up a bit and shook all the sand out. She flew off without  being worse-for-wear.

And Todd, not worse-for-wear in Yasar Arafat mode, hobbled around the yard, still recovering from his appendectomy…

So this morning, after surveying the mess, it looks like I get to help Todd with the cleanup. Thank goodness, we didn’t lose any trees, but there are a few that need to be pulled upright. Let’s hope that this is the only hell-bent storm we get this season or for that matter the next decade….I think one is enough!

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!