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! Ā 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 šŸ™‚ 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 šŸ˜‰

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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 šŸ˜‰

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

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Snow What?

Last Monday the facebook posts were flying…It’s snowing in Tucson! OMG! It even made national news! For those who live in snow country, I’m sure you’re like, ‘So what’! But, for us in the lower elevations of the Southern Arizona desert, it really is a special event! The Tucson area is lucky to get snow once or twice a year. I’ve only seen it snow in Todd’s backyard once in the 9 years we have lived here. So, late Monday afternoon when I looked out the sliding doors and saw these huge white flakes of snow gently drifting to the ground, I immediately shut off my computer, built a fire in the fireplace, opened a bottle of wine and grabbed my camera! Ā Unfortunately, the magical moment couldn’t be captured on camera, as the snow wasn’t sticking and every picture I took just looked like a wet and gloomy day in the desert. And then, just as suddenly as it started, the snow turned back into rain….I went back inside, and back to work.

About 20 minutes later, Todd got home, and seemingly, with his arrival, the snow returned! This time with greater intensity and purpose! Of course, Todd had to go out and brave the ‘blizzard’!

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We expected it to stop at any moment, but when it didn’t we were giddy with excitement! We felt like kid’s on Christmas morning!…Like parents witnessing their child’s first step!….Like we had won the lottery!…Ok, ok, I may be getting carried away, but it was exciting when we witnessed the yard gradually growing a little whiter, and Ā a little whiter!

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Little patches of wintery whiteness dusted Todd’s Backyard. The grass in Gerti’s garden was looking particularly wintery…

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The snow fell for, maybe, 45 minutes. It never really turned the landscape into an actual winter wonderland. We never had enough to go out, stomp around and make a snowman. But Ā it was still lots of fun!
Although, I can’t speak for other folks that live around here, especially the ‘snow birds’ that come here to escape the winter weather. I have a feeling that they were not quite so excited about this snow event as we were.

But, I just happened to catch one bird out there that seemed to like it!

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Snow, there you go!

It’s a Wild Life!

Well, December 21st came and went. The Mayan calendar ended, the planets aligned, 2012 is coming to a close and life is going on without any major events…Except some nice stormy and wintery weather for the Holidays! For the most part, its been a good year. Todd’s projects have yielded a lot more landscaping, a beautiful revamped pond complete with fish, an outdoor potting/work bench, a chicken coop with chicken and a large garden plot ready for planting this spring! Our little desert acre is a mental sanctuary that keeps us from dwelling on the pressure and stress of ‘real life’! We have been so blessed!

Of course, one of the things we most enjoy about living here is having all of the wildlife that we can watch from our living room or the porch! This time of year, all of the reptiles, squirrels and dirt monkeys are safely tucked away in their underground homes, sleeping the winter away. We lose some of the variety of birds, as most go south, but we still have the quail, sparrows, mourning doves, and the cardinals…

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The cardinals dot the winter landscape with their brilliant color!Ā  (I just missed getting the 3rd bird in this shot!)

The javelina are thick and having lots of babies!

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But, the baby javelina are good eatin’ for some during the winter…

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Bob has been hanging outĀ  a lot!

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Although, we have not seen the bobcat get a baby javelina, we have seen him get rabbits! Quite gruesome!Ā  I think the coyotes are more interested in the baby javies than the bobcats! (This next year I hope to get a photo of a coyote..the only pic that I don’t have!) We rarely see coyotes during the day, but almost always hear them at night, yipping and yelping! The other night Todd ran outside because we thought they might be trying to get into the chicken coop! Since then, Todd has put lots of reinforcements on the coop to prevent that from ever happening! I think the coyotes and bobcats have been a major contributor to the dwindling rabbit population! Now, we are lucky to see just one or two bunnies at a time!

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Awww…One bun’s just no fun!

So we decided to get a couple of our own!

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Meet C-Lo (Carrot LOver) and Odie

They are living happily inside,Ā  and hopefully, we might train them to be good house rabbits (i.e. to use a litter box). We got a big portableĀ  pen to put on the porch so they can go out and run around a bit. It’s a riot watching them running and hopping around! They are little hip hoppers! We can’t leave them unsupervised for a moment though.

Fresh bunsĀ  would be delightful delicacy for this guy…

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More than once, Mr. Hawkins has flown under the porch to check out our other possible menu items…

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Like Feline ala Furreir

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Or perhaps just a plain hot dog!

The only other possible pickings we had to offer was Petite Puggle…but I believe that she is no longer on Mr. Hawkin’sĀ  menu…

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But Daisy had better watch out! Plump puggle would be a lovely dinner for Coyotes!

Fall La Laaaa!

Finally! This morning I stepped out on the porch and it was actually cooler outside than it was inside the house! Ahhhhhh! This is our favorite time of the year and we are ready to enjoy!

Ā Todd spent the month of August rebuilding his beloved BBQ…

It turned out perfect! Not only better feng shui, but it gives a fresh update to the old view off the porch!

Todd finished it just in time to fire it up on Labor Day!

For the next few months I suspect we will be grilling every weekend on the pit! There is just nothing better than the smell of mesquite grilling in the fall air!

This time of year the air is also buzzing with humming birds…it’s migration time which means Ā the hummingbird wars ensue! Their noisy banter and fierce arielĀ battles make it almost scary to sit on the porch! One wrong move and you could be impaled by a hummingbird!….Really! We’ve heard that has happened!

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Now, if the hummingbirds would just stay awake all night and guard their feeders from the bats, it might save Todd the hassle of taking the feeders down and hiding them…This is also migration season for the bats! They will drain the hummingbird feeders every night!

I guess it’s fitting that the bats make their appearance as Halloween gets closer. As do the toads…when it rains. We finally got up close and personal with the ‘creature’ from the desert hallows…

It’s been surprisingly rainy! The monsoons ended with a bang. We had a few more ‘bent hell’ storms before the official end of the season!

And even with the official end of monsoon, we’ve had some nice little rains! Hopefully, we will have a wet winter, not a frozen one, like we had last year. That freeze really effected our fall harvest this year! No mesquite beans, very few prickly pear fruit and we will have no oranges in January šŸ˜¦

The few prickly pear fruit we did have were quickly picked by the birds…

A terrible pricklydicament!!! No prickly pear margaritas for us!

And no tasty fruit treats for Gerti. Last year she was able to gorge herself on the P.P. fruit before she hibernated. This year, she did get a few hibiscus flower treats.

She’ll have another month or so before she goes to sleep for the winter, so hopefully we can find her something else nutritious to supplement her grass diet….And hopefully we can find something to supplement our happy hour cocktails since we are sans P.P. margaritas for the season!

(^~^)

The Birds and The Bees

Oh, theĀ  facts of life! 3 things are certain for the resident’s of Todd’s Backyard…birth, death and rebirth. The cycle of life is incredibly apparent over the years of documenting the seasons with photos. The Summer heat, the Fall lush, the Winter freeze and the Spring blossoms…over and over again. Always something to look forward to!

The yard is rebounding this Spring faster than we have seen it in the past. The bees are going crazy…But something is different this March. The orange trees have not blossomed. And, it seems they may not this year, after loosing all of their leaves to the freeze. Poor bees!Ā  Any hives around our place will be filled with ‘hummingbird food honey’.

Luckily, we haven’t had any bad bee encounters. I don’t know if these are Africanized bees, but no one has gotten stung yet. In fact, these bees are actually pretty friendly and entertaining to watch. (Lets hope they stay that way!) I had one fly up my pant leg, and he didn’t get mad…just gave me a tickle and flew back out!

The humming birds can still manage toĀ  get a sip, as soon as the fearless little Rufous Hummer comes in to chase all the bees away.

The Elusive Rufous Hummingbird….

Don’t let his cute looks fool you. He isĀ  a vicious little beast! As soon as he chases off the bees, he’s chasing off all of the other birds!

And the birds are thick! We’ve been able to capture a lot of new pics for Todd’s Backyard bird gallery…

The Cardinal

The Starling….. a new resident!

The Thrasher

The Oriole

Nests abound! The doves are in love!

Oh indeed! Hide your eyes!

Well, this is what happens in the Spring…. It is a ‘fact of life’….sometimes you just get screwed!

And as the old saying goes ….”The only things certain in life are birth, death and taxes.” I guess this pic pretty much sums it up for us! Alas, just as the desert is coming back to life, Todd and I have to face tax season. Ouch!!!

I can only hope that after this tax season we can rebound like the yard has! And life goes on!

Signs of Life

In the light of recent world events, it’s a good time to remember that out of bleakness comes brilliance. Renewal is one of the greatest miracles! Sometimes when looking at the bigger picture, hope appears futile. But focusing on the tiniest things, the smallest changes, can make anything seem possible!

In our little microcosm of Todd’s Backyard, we experienced the most devastating winter since we’ve lived here. Certainly not a dangerous, life changing event, but it did have significant effect on the plants and wildlife. With the advance of spring, the temperatures are warming and the days are getting a little longer. Finally we are seeing those small signs of life that will start to aleviate our winter woes.

Lantana buds are starting to peek out from under the frozen remains of last years greenery.

 

The barren branches are starting to bud. Hopefully, this summer, Todd’s kiwi (pictured above) will really take off!

And the bees are busy gathering nectar from the hummingbird feeders until the yard blossoms…

And it is blossoming!

One of the most exciting developments are the tiny fuzzy buds sprouting all over the Jactus!

We counted 13 buds…

And for anyone reading this that isn’t familiar with the Jactus, this is what we can expect in about 6 weeks….

And life goes on….

Wingin’ It

February in the desert. It’s that time between Winter and SpringĀ  (I like to call Wing). Or perhaps ‘swing’ would be a better term, as Mother Nature is afflicted with wild mood swings! A few days of freezing cold, iced feeders and blanketed plants. Then a few days of wonderful warmth…all the critters lounging in the sun,Ā  including us, as we don our shorts and flip flops.Then back to our jackets and fleece for another few days.Ā  Every week seems to bring the same crazy temperature cycle. On those freezing days, we opine for the hot days of summer, easily forgetting how we opined in the summer for the cold days of winter! Whatever…we shouldn’t be complaining at all, after watching the national weather news. I mean, really, come on Todd….snap out-of-it! (Ok, I’m just as bad!)

Really, the kind of only depressing thing about this time of year is the rather dreary landscape. Most of the vivid colors have been sapped away, replaced by shades of brown and greenish-grays.

After the frost, the trees have dropped most of their leaves and the cactus are drooping….This is the first year the frost has actually effected the cactus. We hope they will bounce back, otherwise Todd’s gonna have fun clearing out tons (literally)Ā  of dead cactus this spring!

The frostbitten aloe vera have turned into clumps of odd-looking alien plant life….

The barrel blossoms have petrified into spiney little pineapple-like pods….

AndĀ  the bones scattered across the yard have become more prominent in the withering landscape.

We should only have to endure our ‘unfavorite’ season for another month or so, but until then, we will keep wingin’ it, week to week! And we can certainly keep optimistic and inspired by the abundance of beauty that still surrounds us , even this time of year!