From Death to Drenched

The Southern Arizona Summer engulfed us last June, like like the fiery blazes of hell! 120 degrees for days…100+ for a month. The only thing that kept us sane was looking forward to the cooling rains of the Monsoons, officially declared to start on June 15th. Sometimes- I think last year, in fact- they started early. We were hoping the same this year, we desperately needed the rains…the desert was dying!

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By the end of June we still had no rain. Not even a hint. The heat was depressingly oppressive!  You know its bad when the drought tolerant/heat tolerant cactus start to shrivel up and die…

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We thought this poor agave was a goner!

June dropped off the calendar-still with no rain.We started feeling like the cactus!

But, the 4th of July would be here soon, and we ALWAYS get rain on the 4th!! However, independence day came and went with only the booming of fireworks- not the booming of thunder we had counted on. Aaauuuuughhhhh the agony!

Todd even went to the extremes of putting sprinklers in the yard on some of our cactus to try to salvage some of  them! Something he had never had to do before. We noticed some of our neighbors were doing the same.

It wasn’t until about a week after the 4th, that Monsoon finally arrived! As we watched the lighting streaked clouds come rumbling in, Todd stationed himself on top of the shed to act as a human lightning rod….

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Here’s a little taste of the desert monsoon….

An no…Todd was not still sitting on the roof as I shot this!

I wish I could share the smell the rain drenched desert and feel the cool mist floating in the air. A mist that’s created as the rain dances on the parched desert ground. There is nothing like it! The temperature generally drops from 100+ to about 75 in a matter of minutes! The relief is almost euphoric!

Since then, over the past month, it has rained, and rained- one of the best Monsoon seasons we have had in years! Todd has marked over 7 inches of rain so far! Most of the plants that melted with the heat, rebounded!

Here’s the heat ravaged agave- unbelievable that it came back to life!….

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Now as Fall approaches, we can enjoy the beautiful desert, revived, refreshed and blooming! We celebrate nature’s gift, even though the ‘dry heat’ has turned muggy and mosquitoes  abound- we raise our glasses to Mother Nature with a toast: “Even though you can be a ‘bitch in heat’ or a frozen mother ‘f’er, when you pour…girl, you Reign!”

 

 

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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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NOTE: All events are true and captured as it happened by Todd this morning, over the course of about 1 hour and 1 pot of coffee. (For best entertainment value, read with a Southern drawl)….

Out back by the chicken coop, if you take a stroll,  ya’ll will find some high ground, full of little round holes. We call it this little rise ‘What-the Hill’… And, it’s where the tarantulas live and get on their thrill!

It just so happened, this Sunday morn, Todd stumbled upon some big spider porn. It was actually Daizy that found the big fella who was just out lookin’ for a little tarantella.

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This eight legged dude, with his ass in the air, was prowling with purpose and tarantula flare. In the rain he had been waiting all night, to find to girl of his dreams and do up right!

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He knew what he wanted, and he was on the right track, to his gargantuan gal with a big fuzzy rack. When he got to her place, he gave her a shout, then when he saw her, he thought, “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” He never expected this lovely blonde beauty with 8 gorgeous eyes and a nice fuzzy booty!

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“Come on baby, let’s give it a whirl!…You are the most super, spectacular, spiderlicious girl!”

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But she just turned her back and went back down under, making him think he’s made a big blunder. What had he done?  What had gone wrong? Maybe he had come on to strong!

Or maybe, just maybe he wasn’t playin’ her song….

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So he started to sway and he started to stomp, she poked out her head and said ‘Ok, boy, I guess I’m ready to romp!

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They started to two-step then went to full eight. This wern’t just a flirtin’, it became a full date! They danced and danced…and danced… and danced. They were in a frenzy, they were totally entranced!

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And so was Todd as he captured these pics…Like a Nat Geo photographer out in the sticks! The story that went with them was one to be told…The tale of the day two tarantulas tangoed!

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Pond Stars

Around mid July, when the monsoons are in full swing, the humidity climbs and Todd’s Backyard starts getting lush. And, us lushes start getting a little lushier since the most entertaining activity (that doesn’t require a lot of sweat), is to sit on the porch with a cool drink and watch the desert wild’s. One of the main attractions this time of year, is a little oasis we like to call…the pond….because, for lack of better words, that’s what it is. It started as just a ‘water feature’, but over the years, Todd has added some water plants, and then some fish,  and Wa La!…. it’s a pond!

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It has become it’s own happy little ecosystem, and thriving under Todd’s TLC.

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Of course, as you might expect in the desert, the pond attracts a lot ‘wild’ life!  It’s become a nice day spa for our feathered friends, in need of a refreshing splash…

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Or a nap enhanced with the soothing sounds of trickling water…

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Also a source for liquid refreshment for all kinds of critters! The rabbits, assorted squirrels and javelina frequent the pond to get a drink. We’ve even seen the bobcat quenching his thirst ! (Where’s the camera when you need it!) You might think the bobcat might try his hand at fishing, but either he doesn’t know that these strange bright orange fish are food, or he just hasn’t seen them. The fish are elusive! Anytime anything or anyone gets close, they dart under the rocks.  So, unfortunately, we rarely get to enjoy watching them up close.

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Yes, the pond adds a calming sense of peace and tranquility to Todd’s backyard….

Until the sun goes down!…

Then, let the ruckus begin!

The explosive cacophony of pond partiers starts up just about the time we go to bed, keeping us awake until the party dies down. So, the other night, I took the flashlight and the camera to see if I could catch them in the act, possibly scaring them into silence!  As I approached, I was startled by the brazen display of indifference. I also had to  calm my gag reflex at the disgusting sight…

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Happily frolicking and splashing around, two slimy frogs where having the time of their life! Both croaking at the top of their lungs, with a chorus of others that were hanging around in the bushes.

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I am not a frog fan! But the longer I watched, it was kind of fun seeing them have fun. Their little slimy bodies gracefully swimming and diving in the clear, flashlight-lit water.

Now,  if these were Colorado River Toads, I don’t think I would have been so entranced. (I don’t believe these were river toads as they are much smaller, lighter green and have different eyes).

The toad creatures are hideous!

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 Yuck! (gagging) Toadally gross!

Unfortunately, we’ve discovered Jabba the Toad hanging out in the darker recesses of the pond’s filter system.

Hopefully we won’t discover him in the pond.

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!!!

Hot Chicks!…Cool Chicks!

There’s a cool new Summer night spot in Todd’s Backyard!…The party starts at 6pm, nightly at Gerti’s ‘Goody’ Garden, where Gerti (our desert tortoise) host’s a nightly event… the Chick Party! Girls only!!!

And the guests?…

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3 hot chicks, one hot dog and one ha ha hot mama 😉 With the daily temps of over 100 degrees for about the past 2-3 weeks, everyone is looking for a little cool down…which we’ve found at sundown when the shadows start to cool the yard and the sprinklers shut off on the grass. Daizy (the puggle) and I round-up the chicks and head off to Gertie’s!

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There, the smaller guests enjoy a nice veggie salad while lounging in the wet grass. I enjoy a nice glass of wine, while putting my bare feet in the wet grass…ahhhhhh. But, things can get pretty wild when the chicks finish their snack. This is when the fun and games begin! Daizy never actually eats her snack, she just likes to claim it, nibble on it a bit, then wait for her feathered friends to come after it….a great game!

And quite entertaining to watch the chicks, relentlessly chasing Daizy around until she gives it up, which in the end, she always does!

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After the games, there’s time to catch up on some gossip…

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Daizy usually likes to see if she can dig up some other friends (lizards, baby bunnies, etc.) to join the party…

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You may be asking, “where’s Gerti?” while all of this parting is going on? Gerti is pretty much a ‘legs-off’ hostess. She’d much rather hang out on the sidelines than get involved in the friendly frolicking! And she really does NOT enjoy the pecks on the cheek!  But she will do a little mingling when there’s a special guest!

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Gerti stuck her neck out to join the party when my niece Megan was here! Gerti adored her and the chicks thought Megan was pretty cool too!

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!