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!

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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!

Aaaaauuhhhhh! Trantulaaaa!

We’ve witnessed a lot of amazing things in Todd’s Backyard, but this had to one of the most creepy/crazy things we had ever seen….

I think this guy a male tarantula. They’re not mature until they are 10 years old! Then they leave their burrows.This on was wandering the desert looking for love… and he found it! (If that’s what you could call it!)

( Notice the fangs on the one on the right!)

Oh yes, it was love at first bite? As Mr. Tarantula wandered past the female’s burrow, she literally leapt out and pounced on him! A ‘struggle’ ensued for about 10 minutes, then the female went back in her hole and the male wandered up to the porch. Now, I’m told that the female bites the male, and the male dies. I guess at least the little guys have their 10 years of life prior….what a way to go out! The female apparently lives for up to 20 years!

Come out! Come out, where ever you are!…We’ve recently noticed this new burrow, so perhaps we will get to see our furry little friends again!

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…Where 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!!