Archive for the ‘lizard’ Category

This ‘n that

September 23, 2017

Last week we laughed because the weather forecasters talked about a cooling trend – in other words, double digits, 97° rather than 104°.  But today it’s absolutely balmy!  Only 85° with 14% humidity.

Worms and Spiders

I’ve had these tiny black striped caterpillars eating my parsley.  Been picking them off to save a few sprigs for myself, and putting them on the “hedge” of my neighbor’s cat’s claw above the wall, thinking they could eat anything green.  Only thought today to look them up.  Turns out they’re also called parsley worms.  Guess why!  Then they turn into pretty black swallowtail butterflies, and I guess I’m not going to have any more, having starved these poor worms.  These photos, and the info, from another blog:

Swallowtail caterpillars… serve as a food source for songbirds and other wildlife. After their metamorphosis into butterflies… one-third of the world’s cultivated crops depend upon the work of pollinators like butterfly and bees. In addition… just watching the whimsical flight of butterflies is enough to lift the spirits!  black-swallowtail-caterpillar

I had also seen inch worms on my basil (and mint and lantana) and had picked them off and deposited them in the cat’s claw.  Today more holes in the leaves but only a tiny yellowish white spider.  It couldn’t be eating the cutworms.

What if you can’t see any worms eating the… plant? The culprit might still be mint plant worms – cutworms to be exact. Cutworms are nocturnal feeders and then post feast, hiding in the soil during the day at the plant’s base or in its debris.  edible/herbs

And speaking of spiders, I have a number of pretty 1½- to 2-inch black and yellow garden spiders on my tomato plants and bougainvillea (this photo from Orkin, which, unfortunately, sells you chemicals to kill all bugs) but none of them have done the zippers on their orb webs I’ve seen before.  I just work around them; love having them eat the tiny insects.

Vegetable Garden

After spending half a day raking out two inches of gravel, which I guess the owner considers landscaping, dug my compost into another two feet of space for the vegetable garden, having found another section of soaker hose.  Planted seeds for a few butterfly bushes, broccoli and cauliflower plants, carrots, radishes, and nasturtiums.  A month too early for arugula.

Am still harvesting about a pint of cherry tomatoes a week, and made ratatouille twice, first from three Japanese eggplants, next from three small, round eggplants (Black Beauty).  The tomato bushes (Super Sweet 100) are so huge, had to buy a tomato tower to support one of them, which I had originally only planted with a tiny cage.  Tried a recipe for baked cherry tomatoes, and it made them way too sweet!  Slathered it on goat cheese sandwiches.

Lizards

After the bobcat and roadrunner appearances in my yard, have not seen any large collared lizards around, they’re being more cautious, just tiny ones doing pushups.  Googled that, even though I knew the answer, and got this cute column from the Tucson Weekly a number of years ago.  You must read it!  why-lizards-do-push-ups-and-other-tucson-wildlife-tidbits-you-need-to-know-before-you-die

The English Monarchy

Reading commentary in last Sunday’s New York Times about my cousin, Tony Blair, The Boys of Brexit:

Did Blair ever think he would see a time when the royal family would keep calm and carry on as the queen’s grandson moved toward marrying an American TV actress who is divorced and half black?

Huh?  I don’t follow the Monarchy (except to watch Netflix’s series The Crown and the 2006 movie The Queen, with Helen Mirren, about the royal debacle after Diana died), so had to look up which grandson was marrying an American.  Turns out red-headed Prince Harry is “dating” a divorced American actress, Meghan Markle, Jewish, half-black, and four years older that he is (36, 32).  And it appears that she has moved into his “cottage”, at Kensington Palace.  Nottingham Cottage is not a Thomas Kinkade cottage (gag), but small.  (Photo of the couple from Getty Images.)

Loved this detail of Kensington Palace from the U.K.’s Daily Mail.  You can click on it to make it larger.  Price Harry’s arrow is third down on the left.  According to Hello Magazine,

Harry’s new digs have been dubbed “the royal bedsit” due to the one-bedroom apartment’s modest facilities, which include a small living room, kitchen and bathroom.

Equifax

Another article in the Times, Consumers, but Not Executives, May Pay for Equifax Failings.  Thought I ought to see if I was caught in the web.  equifaxsecurity2017.com  According to the NPR news, you click on Am I Impacted? and get another page.

  1. Click the button above, “Am I Impacted?,” and provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.  [And prove you’re not a robot.]
  2. Based on that information, you will receive a message indicating whether your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.
  3. Regardless of whether your information may have been impacted, we will provide you the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier. After checking if you were impacted you will see an option to enroll. The enrollment period ends on Tuesday, November 21, 2017.

I did so and got:

Thank You
Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.
Click the button below to continue your enrollment in TrustedID Premier.

Darn.  But  was so gratified to know that:

Equifax paid $3.8 million in restitution to customers, a fine of $2.5 million and $200,000 in legal costs.

However,

Richard F. Smith, the chief executive and chairman of the Equifax board… received $15 million in total compensation in 2016, up from $13 million in 2015.

John Gamble, Equifax’s chief financial officer… received $3.1 million in 2016.

John J. Kelley III, the company’s chief legal officer… received $2.8 million in compensation last year.

Gee, that’s fair.  Read the article to see why they pulled in the big bucks.  Consumers, but Not Executives, May Pay for Equifax Failings

Stuff

August 10, 2017

First, watch this George Carlin video: carlin on stuff

A couple of weeks ago in the NY Times I read this commentary:  summer-bucket-listThe author, Bari Weiss, mentioned a Kondo closet, which I had to look up and found this article from a few years ago: Tidying Up.  (She also listed Buy Dyson hair dryer!  Had to hit that hot button.  They cost $400!!!)  I was intrigued.  Marie Kondo makes me look like a hoarder!   (OMG – there’s an American television series, Hoarders!)

Anyway, I got her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, from the library.  Before I’d finished the first chapter I began on my bookshelves and took three grocery bags of books to the library.  Then I started in on clothes, camping equipment and holiday decorations.  Four giant trash bags to Goodwill.  Plus numerous bags of recyclables and trash.  And I’m not even doing it right!  You’re supposed to start with your clothes and only keep ones that “spark joy”.  Now that I’ve finished the short book (and gotten her second, Spark Joy, from the library), I’ve learned to fold “properly” and the drawers that I’ve worked on are now only half full.  But it’s tiring…

Spurred by a comment in her second book, I started to throw on photos from albums.  Mostly buildings, such as ones I’d photographed in Mexico City.  Know the kids aren’t interested in them.  Then tossed out a few folders of student stuff from Pima.  And started in under the bathroom sink.  (Try it!) After than opened a few boxes in my third bedroom (AKA storage locker) and found the wrapping paper box I’d lost for a year, and some empty frames to donate.  Got my daughter to stop by to read old letters she had sent from her college year abroad in France so I could toss them.  Next she went through a pile of elementary school artwork.  Almost kept one gorgeous painting of a rabbit, but no, she’s got enough elementary school paintings by her own kids.

(Going to wrap up my son’s letters in one box and his elementary school paintings in another, and give them to him for Christmas.  Did that before – a number of years ago I had run out of room in my filing cabinet, so took two folders of each of my kid’s elementary school grades and awards, boxed and decorated them, and gave them to my son and daughter for Christmas.  My daughter had a hissy fit: Oh you’re trying to get rid of our memories, but my son read his, laughed about a lot of it, and then threw the pile away.)

Each time I visit my friends in San Diego, L & P, L asks me to help her clean out a room.  The last time it was her office, as she had retired as an attorney.  What I’m good as is triage – keep, donate, toss.  Because most of her documents were confidential, the shredder was working constantly.  We filled both the trash and the recycle bin, and even borrowed her neighbor’s.  To facilitate disposal, I even took four bags home to recycle them here.  (Scroll down in san-diego-continued for another project, Collection Triage, moving the chairs and bookcases in to the addition to their living/dining room, and “tidying up” in the process.)  L thinks I should hire out.

Seen in the past few weeks

There were four small bobcats in front of my neighbor’s garage as I drove past.  They heard the car and skittered under a huge red bird of paradise.  Not sure if it was a mother and three kittens, but when I took this photo there was some low growling.  When I checked an hour later they were gone.

This is the round-tailed ground squirrel that climbs the welded wire to eat my plants.  It’s trying to get away from me and my camera.  Cute as the dickens, but why we use that epithet is beyond me.  Dickens is a euphemism for  the devil, and why would a devil be cute?

I love to watch the mountains from the back of my house.  This photo at dusk.

A few unusual animals to see.  A red-headed lizard in my yard, probably a male collared lizard.  A (poisonous) Colorado river toad hiding from the heat in the corner of my daughter’s entry.  The hot gravel yards were no doubt inhospitable.

A defensive milky neurotoxin venom can be released from the parotid gland behind the eyes and similar organs on the legs. The venom is potent enough to kill a large dog, should the dog grab a toad. Symptoms of envenomation include foaming at the mouth, drunken gait, confusion, vomiting, diarrhea, or complete collapse. There is no antitoxin.
https://arizonadailyindependent.com/2014/05/18/the-sonoran-desert-toad-psychedelic-and-toxic/

A couple of police down the street from my daughter’s were watching an African spurred tortoise while someone was trying to find its owner.  They are much larger than our desert tortoise.  This article is probably about the tortoise on the lam: tucsonlocalmedia.com.  Think Oro Valley is a bit slow on crime…

A silky flycatcher (phainopepla) has taken a liking to my birdbath.  Learned something new about them:

The Phainopepla, when pursued by predators or handled by humans, mimics the calls of other birds; imitations of at least 13 species have been recorded. allaboutbirds.org

And my barrel cactus is blooming beautifully.

 

Dearly Departed

April 5, 2017

No, they’re not dead, just gone.  “My” baby doves got so big Mom couldn’t fit in the “nest” (a small pile of twigs) any more, but stopped by occasionally to give them some pigeon milk.  That was something I didn’t know about previously.  According to Wikipedia:

Crop milk is a secretion from the lining of the crop of parent birds that is regurgitated to young birds. It is found among all pigeons and doves where it is referred to as pigeon milk…

Then I didn’t see them in their nest, so I went out to trim some bushes outside the window of my breakfast room (which I am using for an office), and they were sitting on the windowsill, across the narrow side yard from their nest.  But I had upset them, so they flew away.  They returned in the evening twice to the wall outside the kitchen, but I think Mom had decided that they could be on their own, so they’re gone.


A week ago it was so windy that people with respiratory problems, old people, and young children were asked to stay indoors and refrain from exercise.  I heard that on the news as I was driving to the Y to exercise.  The mountains were almost obscured, but I still loved looking at them.

The soil is pretty sandy here, which is maybe why the cactus grow so large.  Here are three on my street, on the walk to the mailboxes.  The biggest yucca and century plant I have ever seen, up to the house eves!  And a plump and happy saguaro.

Spring has hit Tucson with a splash of yellow.  It started with the brittlebush and desert marigolds at the side of the roads (with  an occasional slash of red or pink penstemon), then on to the palo verdes, heavy with flowers (with intermittent stripes of gaudy magenta bougainvillea – this in my back yard, the same color as all of the bougainvilleas in my subdivision).

I stopped in a parking lot yesterday to take these photos with my phone, but the wind was blowing pretty hard, so they look “painterly”.  The blooms started in the washes, and have been climbing up to the higher elevations.  Beautiful along La Cañada and La Cholla, and River Road especially!  Oro Valley is a bit higher than Tucson, so my three palo verdes are still covered with buds.

Seen Today

A quail couple, apparently looking for a suitable place to nest, he on the fence, alert for predators, but giving his mate helpful suggestions, she checking out the purple Mexican petunia in the backyard.  (These beautiful flowers only last one day.)

A bulky guy with blond hair past his shoulders, in shorts, shirt tied about his waist, walking along the road.  (It was cool this morning, and I was wearing a sweater!)

The area behind the fenced-in part of the back yard is riddled with holes.  Saw the first round-tailed ground squirrel today, but he didn’t stick around for a photo op.

Sculptor Ira Weisenfeld’s Boat in a Tree, on Wetmore.  Must take my own photo of it.  This from the sculptor’s website, https://www.circleofironforge.com/about-me.

Ubiquitous clutches of cyclists in colorful lycra.

At a light, a taxi-yellow sports car in front of one of the palo verdes overladen with yellow.  I was turning, and couldn’t stop for a photo.

A roadrunner skittering along the outside of the fence.  There are now many lizards in the yard, a few zebra-tailed lizards recently (this photo from Wikipedia), so I was surprised he didn’t want to venture in.  Maybe the 18″ of chicken wire wrapped around the base of the wrought iron fence deterred him, although he could have jumped over.

A hawk sitting on a power line, watching the traffic on La Cholla go by.  Looked like the hawk on the cover of the book I recently finished, H Is For Hawk, by Helen Macdonald.

Equal Pay Day

March 24, 2017

The next Equal Pay Day is Tuesday, April 4, 2017. This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.1

I just got this email from the American Association of University Women:

April 4 is Equal Pay Day, and to mark this powerful day of action AAUW is offering a discounted introductory membership rate of just $21, of which $19 is tax deductible.
Right now the pay gap is so wide and closing so slowly that women will have to wait 135 years to receive equal pay. If we don’t step up now, the gender pay gap won’t close until the year 2152! I know you think that’s unacceptable, so please join.

This link has my code for your discount:
https://ww2.aauw.org/national-join/?appealcode=D17CEL1003A

Seen This Month

A woman driving a small silver BMW convertible with the top down, a tiny gold glitter Mickey Mouse cap at the top of its aerial.  It is cool and threatening rain yesterday, but a few days ago, when the weather was in the 90’s, I also saw two other convertibles with their tops down.

Then there was the young man leaving the Y with his two-year-old daughter on his arm, explaining why the car in the parking lot had no roof.  Why doesn’t it have a roof? He replied, So the wind can blow through your hair.

A dove made a typically flimsy nest near my kitchen window.  It laid two eggs and now has two young’uns.

I’ve been here a month and the lizards are just coming back into the yard.  The previous renters had a dog and the lizards have just figured out that the dog’s no longer a threat.

Lambert Lane, my east/west artery, is closed for three months, to widen it from two lanes to four.  But before they closed it, we were driving 25 mph as construction workers played in the dirt on each side, scraping away any plant life, moving dirt, concreting a hillside, and so on.  Was checking out a house right next to the construction – three coyotes were on the steep driveway, checking out something in the lot further on.  Usually when you see three together, it’s a mother and two pups.  These pups were well-grown.

There were a few items in this “new” house that had not been cleaned in a while.  One was the small storage shed.  Found, in addition to all of the screens that had fallen off the windows (’cause they had been velcroed on, and the velco had dried up), three desiccated pack rats, what looked like a mother and her pups.  Plus all of the stuff they had chewed up, along with the droppings.  Yuck!  (No – I did not take a photo, but here is one of my potted flowers, grass, and herbs, very happy to have morning sun.)

STILLNESS

The Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery, at the Pima College West Campus, had a showing which ended at the beginning of this month, STILLNESS. Our Contemporary Art Society went to the reception.  I love these descriptions from the Tucson Weekly.  (My photos were just taken with my phone.)

Kate Breakey, an internationally known photographer, lives in the desert outside Tucson. She makes gorgeous photos of desert moons and of the ocean waters of her native Australia, but most often, as she does here, she zeroes in on lifeless animals.

Constantly trying out new media, this time she has used waxy encaustic paint and pencil atop the black-and-white archival digital prints of her new series, Taxonomy of Memory, a wall-full of 34 works. The encaustics add a creamy texture to her views of the desert’s dead… a vermillion flycatcher…  She lays out small corpses that she finds on trails, and makes haunting pictures of them, blowing them up to grand proportions. As she writes, “A thing fills with exactly the radiance you accord it.”

Colin Blakely, newish head of the UA School of Art—he started in 2015—makes his community debut with an elegant suite of landscape photos…  Blakely’s “Yosemite Valley” is after an 1875 oil by Bierstadt, who painted Yosemite over and over. Both painters helped mythologize the monumental landscapes of the new American nation; in their art of the sublime, the grandeur of a thundering waterfall or a soaring western peak suggested the greatness of America.

Blakely contends that these mythical place exist in some ways only in “our collective cultural imagination.” To “disrupt” those familiar landscapes, he switches the medium from classic oils to archival pigment prints spit out by a computer printers. He ratchets up or tones down the color, and even shifts some elements in the compositions.

…a fairytale forest of golden trees.  In this dazzling installation by Sean-Paul Pluguez, no fewer than 100 “trees” are lined up neatly, row on row, planted into low birch platforms. Bending slightly, as real trees do, they curve upward toward an imagined sky, reaching about six feet into the air.

The trees are actually grape stakes, rough wooden posts that normally would be used to hold up grape vines in a vineyard. But they’ve been transformed by glimmering 24-carat gold leaf, painstakingly applied by the artist over the course of a year. The gold catches the light, and it’s thick and textured, dipping into hollows in the stakes or pushing outwards into lines and patterns.

“The Genetically Modified Forest” is a thing of beauty—who can resist the allure of gold?—but it carries a warning. The stakes are sharp and pointed at the top. And as many fairytale heroines have found, all that glitters is not really gold.

As Pluguez notes in an artist statement, the piece “speaks of man’s limited abilities to deal with his own planet.” We may think we can clear-cut our real forests with impunity or that we can dump coal dust into our streams, a practice lately authorized by our new leaders in Washington.

We can’t disobey the laws of nature for long. When we pollute our rivers, we lose our drinking water, and when we ax our trees, we lose their life-giving abilities to filter out carbon dioxide from the air and provide us with oxygen. A pretty fake forest is no substitute for a real one.

Even so, Pluguez’s meditative installation is a paean to the beauty and stillness of the natural world, properly preserved. It’s the anchor for a group show about nature aptly called Stillness; all four of its artists create a sense of calm in works that cover landscape, animals and the human body.2

1https://www.pay-equity.org/day.html
2http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/all-that-glitters/Content?oid=7599592

Pause

June 27, 2016

IMG_6468I still have four blogs from the Aegean that I need to add photos to. (My bad – I used a camera rather than my tablet or phone to take the photos, and I had not gotten a new memory stick that would have downloaded into my tablet, thinking that I may not be using the camera in a year.)  But a pause to comment on Tucson this past week.

monsoon 6-26-6I returned home a week ago to high temperatures (three hikers, one walker died on Sunday1, when it was 115°), but the monsoons really didn’t start until last night. Photo to the right from my bedroom window.  Photo below it from the news.2 The high winds and rain did not reach here, but the electricity went out at about 8:30, while I was watching a movie. Found my candles and matches by feel, but only one AAA battery (searching the house with a candle), and the book light needs two.  Nothing to do in the dark but try to sleep, but the lights came on in half an hour.

IMG_6466 Within the last week I have seen two quail with their two young chicks in my yard, a dove nesting on my patio, and a rabbit in the backyard.  Not sure how he got in, as there is a wall, but the hillside behind comes partially up the wall, so maybe he jumped in and couldn’t jump out.  I opened the gate, got behind him, and herded him out.

IMG_6478IMG_6476Unfortunately, a dove tried to fly through my office window; I found it sitting as though resting next to the front water pipe, but unfortunately dead.  Large collared lizards on the back wall and front tree, a whip-tailed lizard in the drive below.

A couple of months ago when I was in the garden watering I let my cat out.  When I turned around she was gone and didn’t come back for two hours.  I didn’t worry too much, as the desert hillside behind me is almost devoid of wildlife, only lizards, rabbits, birds, and an occasional coyote.  But when I heard her I caught something meow at the back door, there was a collared lizard, alive but slightly injured.  I picked him up and put him outside the gate.  Later I found two small dead lizards in the yard.  I have not allowed her out since.

I do miss the many animals in the wash behind my last house.  I even dreamed of bobcats last night.  This housing development was plopped down between the wash, which is now cemented, and the slight hill.  And there are vast swaths of scraped land for new developments within a few minutes of here.  There are too many people in the world.  We need ZPG! When I fly over Europe I am sad because of the lack of wild spaces.  According to Wikipedia: With the exception of Fennoscandia and northern Russia, few areas of untouched wilderness are currently found in Europe, except for various national parks.

1http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/32263660/authorities-suspect-heat-to-blame-in-another-death
2http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/32314396/storm-tears-through-winterhaven-knocks-down-countless-trees

Three

November 14, 2014

This morning as I was warmly ensconced in my down quilt, drinking a latte and listening to the news (http://www.npr.org/2014/11/12/363058646/coal-mines-keep-operating-despite-injuries-violations-and-millions-in-fines – does that only anger liberals?), my cat sat up, at attention. I noticed something just beyond my back yard fence, so I went into the bathroom (with an unobstructed view of the area under the large mesquite tree).  Three healthy coyotes were checking out the area, urinating as necessary over rival scents. Appeared to be a mom and dad and teen. I’ve never seen more than two coyotes together in my yard before (they were the two very young siblings1). No wonder the cat has been staying indoors so much lately.

Seen Today
At the college the cleaning woman had the door open to the cleaning supply closet near our classroom. On the top shelf were four healthy philodendrons (the only indoor plant my mother could grow), for decoration.

Cleaning
Speaking of cleaning, I’ve done a lot recently since my house has gone onto the market. Paid to have the windows professionally cleaned, and paid my friend’s housekeeper to help me one day with yearly maintenance on the deck, but didn’t want to get the carpet cleaned, as only the stairs and the hallway needed it.  I had finished a carpet cleaning spray for spots that hardly worked and took a lot of elbow grease. Online found a formula of peroxide and baking soda. Worked great, although with a modicum of scrubbing with a towel. Only problem was the baking soda doesn’t seem to dissolve well enough, and the sprayer kept clogging.

Saturday decided to empty my bedroom closet to oil the wood shelves which were incredibly dusty.  Was wearing my dreadful work shorts and tattered T-shirt and had just started unloading the  bottom shelf when the front door opened to a real estate agent and her client! She had called but I guess I had been upstairs eating breakfast and missed it. Oh well – luckily the rest of the house was clean except for dirty breakfast dishes.  I went back to work and could hear her extolling the virtues of the house (she must have been a cheerleader in high school), but her client seemed non-committal.  Darn.

Corporate Sponsors

Had to copy this from a friend’s Facebook page:

boehner

Walkabout

An interesting article in the NY Times a couple of weeks ago2 about a 40-year-old Swiss woman, Sarah Marquis, who hiked 10,000 miles (!).

…For that trip, Marquis lined up her first sponsor, the North Face. She doesn’t think she impressed the company by her pitch. She believes it gave her a few backpacks, a couple of tents and some clothes because, she said, “when I told them what I was going to do, they thought, We can’t let that little thing go out without gear.” To supplement the inadequate supply of noodles she could carry, Marquis brought a slingshot, a blow gun, some wire to make snares and a net for catching insects. In the warm months, Marquis ate goannas, geckos and bearded dragons. In the cold months, when the reptiles hid, she subsisted on an Aboriginal standby, witchetty grubs — white, caterpillar-size moth larvae that live in the roots of Mulga trees. (Raw, Marquis said, they taste like unsweetened condensed milk; seared in hot sand, they crisp up nicely.) Throughout, Marquis tried to minimize human contact. She hid her femininity with loose clothes, big sunglasses, hair piled up in a hat. When water was scarce, she collected condensation, either by digging a deep hole and lining the cool bottom with plastic or by tying a tarp around a bush. If those techniques didn’t yield enough liquid — and they rarely did — she drank snake blood. At night Marquis slept close to the trunks of trees, touching the bark in a way that she describes as “almost carnal.” She fell in love with a particular twisted and wind-bent Western myall tree on Australia’s Nullarbor Plain…

The rest of Marquis’s trip was not all Zen bliss. Seven months into the walk, she lost a molar. Her gum abscessed, and the attendant infection, which couldn’t be controlled with the antibiotics, started moving down her neck, and she had to be evacuated from Mongolia. Marquis returned to the precise G.P.S. coordinates she left and made it to China, where, one day, some children followed her. She sang with them and taught them how to set up her tent — and then they stole her BlackBerry. In Laos, drug dealers descended on Marquis’s camp one night, firing their automatic weapons into the air. Soon after that, Marquis contracted dengue fever. She tied her left leg to a tree so she wouldn’t wander off in her delirium and drown herself in a river…

Of course, if you don’t die — well, then the experience of extreme travel is fantastic. After swimming across a river infested with crocodiles, Marquis wrote that every time she finds herself in the bush, “my happiness increases tenfold.”

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/mesquite-seeds/
2http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/09/28/magazine/the-woman-who-walked-10000-miles-no-exaggeration-in-three-years.html

Books and Other Distractions

June 15, 2014

I do get distracted with google. But what I find out is so interesting! I’m reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, which a friend lent me, and one new book they ordered for the bookstore was House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, which I looked up and, according to Wikipedia: The format and structure of the novel is unconventional, with unusual page layout and style, making it a prime example of ergodic literature.

So I had to look up ergodic literature.  (All of these refs are from Wikipedia.)

In ergodic literature, nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text. If ergodic literature is to make sense as a concept, there must also be nonergodic literature, where the effort to traverse the text is trivial, with no extranoematic responsibilities placed on the reader except (for example) eye movement and the periodic or arbitrary turning of pages.grasshopper

Reminded me of e e cummings’ grasshopper, on which I had done a talk to waive one of my required education classes, back when I was getting my first degree.

Examples from Wikipedia were Guillaume Apollinaire’s poems, one shown here, shaped as a bird over a tree (hope you can read French):Apollinaire      and:

Raymond Queneau’s One hundred million million poems, a set of ten sonnets. They are printed on card with each line on a separated strip, like a heads-bodies-and-legs book, a type of children’s book with which Queneau was familiar. As all ten sonnets have not just the same rhyme scheme but the same rhyme sounds, any lines from a sonnet can be combined with any from the nine others, so that there are 1014 (= 100,000,000,000,000) different poems. It would take some 200,000,000 years to read them all, even reading twenty-four hours a day.

So I had to look up sonnet, as my degree in English was from 45 years ago. Sure enough, 14 lines (hence 1014). Some examples here, with different rhyme schemes:

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116”

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments, love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown although his height be taken.
Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come,
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom:
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

On His Blindness by Milton

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask; but Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

On my patio

whiptail 004whiptail 002whiptail 001An Arizona striped whiptail lizard (which is quite small), a roadrunner (which my cat chattered at), and our friend the bunny, who my cat did not kill, coming to drink.

Owls of the Sonoran Desert

Interesting article on Owls in my Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum News.  It’s not on the Web but this from their website:

A great horned owl can close its feet with 500 psi (pounds per square inch). The average human exerts- squeezing as hard as we can- 80-150 psi. However, the story that owls will eat your dogs/cats is an urban legend; an owl can only lift around its own body weight (2-3 lbs) and owls are found throughout urban areas. While we don’t like to say it ‘never’ happens, it certainly doesn’t happen with frequency. Owls will dive at cats, dogs and even people if they have a nest in the area, sometimes misconstrued as a hunting attempt.1

My brother who volunteers at the Bird Rescue Center in Santa Rosa, Ca (I’ve blogged about him a few times – here are a couple of them, the second with photos of him with some of the birds2,3) disagreed w/ some of the “facts” about great-horned owls:

We have three great-horned owls as resident birds, one of which is 26 years old. We get them all the time in rehab and just recently re-nested two fledglings last week.

We generally say they can exert over 200 lbs per square inch with their feet (not 500 psi) — but they do, indeed, take pets — it’s not an urban legend. Levi Leipheimer (famous bike racer) lost a chihuahua to a great-horned owl, and cats are regularly taken. They can only lift around their own body weight, but they can kill animals 2-3 times their size and just tear it apart on the ground…taking pieces to their young.
My first monitor bird was a great-horned owl (Jazz) and I regularly handle them — they’re relatively easy to handle.

And back in 2012 I had mentioned to him how sore my arms got from holding them out in the qigong standing by the stream meditation and he said try it with a raptor on your left hand!  At that point he was working with a large owl.  He said, The owl is a great-horned owl, and weighs about 3lbs (1460g); the heavier one weighs 1670g. I’m required to do at least three 3.5hr shifts at the Sonoma County Fair, which is our biggest fund raiser… probably with a great-horned but possibly with other birds.

1http://www.desertmuseum.org/visit/rff_greathornedowl.php
2https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/raptors/
3https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/cazadero-1214/

Packrat

June 6, 2014

When I had to replace one of my A/C units (there is one for the first floor, a smaller one for the lower, which rarely runs) last summer one of the guys said that I had had a rat or mouse in the heating room, but it was (luckily) gone.  So he sprayed some foam into the insulation around the pipes for the units outside where any creature could have gotten in.  A week or so ago I went to find the cat and she was sitting by the units watching that area.  A few days later I saw a tiny nose with whisker at the end in the insulation, and noticed that the foam had been chewed away.

So I borrowed my neighbor’s rat trap which catches them alive, baited it with peanut butter on a cracker, and sure enough, by next morning had caught one.  Darling creature!  (I neglected to take a photo; this from the Net.)  I know that my neighbor drowns pack ratcritters 008them in his pool (while in the trap), then throws them beyond his fence for the coyotes.  They’re always gone the next day.

critters 009I couldn’t do it, so let it go on the far side of the yard.  And plugged up the chewed opening with rocks.  But now I am worried that there are babies left behind, and they’ll die and stink up the place.  Sigh!  Must somehow get the plywood front of the area below the heaters….

But did order my own live trap, for further use.  Pack rats can be very destructive.  At the house I lived in when my kids were little we had a pool and spa.  The rats got into the equipment, and ate the wiring.  Cost a lot to replace the wiring, plus getting the pump and heater rat-proofed.   When my mother was ill and not driving her car, it sat in her carport, and a rat got into the engine area and chewed on  some wires.  This is quite common in Tucson with carports.

A friend with a carport tried bars of Irish Spring soap around the wheels of her car, and left the carport light on all night.  It seemed to work.  But another friend said that her packrats chewed on the Irish Spring soap!

The recent suggestions that I have gotten were: put mothballs in the den so they won’t return, and stuff aluminum foil into the opening, as rats won’t chew that ’cause it’s too hard on their teeth.  When the repair man fixed my spa he said that it looked like packrats wanted to make a home under the deck, so he scattered mothballs there.  Haven’t seen any sign of packrats there since, but when you sit in the spa there is an overwhelming smell of mothballs!

Other critters

critters 006A tiny bird (maybe 5″ head to tail) was dead next to my bedroom door.  Wings not right for a verdin.  No finch color.  Bushtits don’t have orange beaks.  Anyone?

Looked at the slider for the crash – sure enough, two tiny breast feathers stuck to the door.  My cat rarely catches a bird, but my house does, unfortunately.

Seen today: a young deer on the sidewalk, ignoring cars going down the street, eating palo verde seedpods from the tree.

critters 018Rabbits like to dig a shallow hole into damp dirt (from the drip system) to relax during the day.  Photo here of one next to the driveway hedge.

I tried corralling my cat on the deck by shutting off the spiral stairs with a child gate (used for my grandchildren).  Hah!  She inspected it for a few minutes, then leapt over.  May try three-foot chicken wire next.  Anyway, she stalked a rabbit cooling under a Texas ranger next to the house, in the shade.  Being older than the one that she had killed, it took off across the yard in a blur of fur.

critters 017Guess I don’t need to put out finch seed.  Not only do they love the seeds on the rosemary and creosote, but they feast on aphids and ants on my sunflower.  I watch them from my shower.  Four were on it this morning.  (And five this afternoon when I went out to the garden.)

Scorpions can be found anywhere.  In my bathrobe, I bent down and a tiny scorpion dropped from my collar.  I thanked it for not stinging me and let it scuttle beneath the cabinets.  Loading the dishwasher, I found a larger one below a dish in the sink.  I caught it under a glass, slide a card beneath it, and dropped it into the rosemary.

red 010A collared lizard (see photo), who likes to sit on my bedroom patio and lunge at bugs, lives in the rosemary and will probably eat all of the insects I drop into it.

critters 003The turquoise spiny lizard was back on my kitchen widow sill and watched me as I finished the dishes.

Reading

Friends here know that when I can’t remember something I usually say, I haven’t gotten my Google implant yet!  Well, after having read the novel, The Word Exchange, by Alena Graedon, I am never getting it!  In this dystopian  future, after everyone is tied to their “meme” (iphone) or their implant, and no longer try to remember anything, the company starts to charge per word.  So if you can’t afford it, you’ve lost all of your records, and can barely speak.  But it gets really bad with a computer virus…

A highly contagious, sometimes fatal virus called “word flu” has leapt from computers to their users, corrupting not only written language but also spoken words with gibberish and scaring the “pask” out of infected “netizens”.1

Just finished reading The God of Small Things, a Booker Prize winner by Indian writer Arundhati Roy2.  It was hard for me to slog through the dysfunctional Indian family story.  If you’ve had enough of India’s brutality against women and the lower castes, having just read about the two girls, 12 and 14, who were raped and then hung by their scarves from a mango tree3 in Uttar Pradesh, don’t read this book.  Well written, although I found I had to google avalose oondas (a rice candy flavored with lime and cardamon) and other Malayalam words, but totally depressing.

To offset that, I needed a bit of whimsy.  One of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels4.  The television series, True Blood, is dreadful, besides all of the graphic sex, but the books are funny.  Sookie is the main character, and her grandmother loves the vampire she’s “dating” because he was in the Civil War and she can have him speak to her “Descendants of the Glorious Dead”, an organization devoted to honoring the memory of the Civil War.  The vampires have “come out” and many people (especially where it takes place, in the South) have a hard tie dealing with it.  Not such a veiled reference to their warmth to the LGBT community.  Anyway, the books are a kick, and you can read one in a day (but you should read them in order).

Garden

critters 019I have lots of volunteer flowers in my vegetable garden because I make my own compost, and the seeds in it sprout.  I have dug some snapdragons up and put them in pots, but when I put them in my backyard the leaves were immediately gone.  Guess the rabbits loved them.  They don’t nibble on the wildflowers, however, the gazanias and desert sand verbena (some of which I’ve also transplanted from the vegetable garden).  Have a volunteer prairie coneflower next to the Mexican primrose, I guess from the wildflower seeds I spread two or three years ago in the compost.

1http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/books/review/the-word-exchange-by-alena-graedon.html?_r=0
2http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/25/reviews/970525.25truaxt.html
3http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/world/asia/caste-system-indians-angry-about-rape-hanging-of-two-girls-left-in-tree.html?_r=0
4https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/vampires-werewolves-and-ghouls-oh-my/

Red

June 1, 2014

red 014
red 011memorial day 006

Saguaro fruit, the volunteer petunia, “brushes” on my dwarf bottlebrush, a rosy finch, a cardinal.  And, of course, my “communist” leanings1.

red finch2cardinal 013

(The cat just came to attention as I’m typing.  A coyote had emerged from the neighbor’s yard, but before I could get to the window with my camera it had lopped quickly across the asphalt street and into the brush on the far side.  As it is presently 97° – at 10:46 am – I’ll bet that street is really hot.)

Lizards

A turquoise spiny lizard often sits outside my kitchen window, but I missed the photo there.  Here it rests in the shade on the wall.

lizard 005lizard 006When I work in my compost pile, a different spiny lizard comes out to watch me closely (and to eat the scattering bugs).   I  believe that it would eat from my hand if I had a handy cockroach.  Perhaps the blue one is the male, and this one the female.

These lizards exhibit metachromatism, which means they change color depending on the temperature: generally with darker colors in cool temperatures. They also change color with the seasons and for mating.

Rabbit

While I was communing with my lizards my cat was catching a young rabbit.  Looked smaller than the one who had peeked in my patio door (see last blog), but I haven’t seen that one since.

These lizards exhibit metachromatism, which means they change color depending on the temperature: generally with darker colors in cool temperatures. They also change color with the seasons and for mating. – See more at: http://www.arizonadailyindependent.com/2014/03/02/metachromatic-spiny-lizards/#sthash.SpghOEVc.dpuf
These lizards exhibit metachromatism, which means they change color depending on the temperature: generally with darker colors in cool temperatures. They also change color with the seasons and for mating. – See more at: http://www.arizonadailyindependent.com/2014/03/02/metachromatic-spiny-lizards/#sthash.SpghOEVc.dpuf
These lizards exhibit metachromatism, which means they change color depending on the temperature: generally with darker colors in cool temperatures. They also change color with the seasons and for mating. – See more at: http://www.arizonadailyindependent.com/2014/03/02/metachromatic-spiny-lizards/#sthash.SpghOEVc.dpuf

The Death of a Cottontail

A rabbit my aging feline caught,
Puddled in the tool room, with broken neck, carried by me
To the garden verge, and sanctuaried
Under the mesquite tree, in the shade
Of the narrow, bipinnately compound leaves, in a hot,
Bright, and a final glade.

The rare original heartsblood had stopped,
Spent from the furry hide, the tiny feet, the cotton tail,
As he drooped in my hands with staring eyes,
Warm as if he would return to life.
But soundlessly dead,
Not hearing the mourning dove coo,

In the dry but flowering desert
And cooling evenings, lost Leporidae emperies.
Day dwindles, drowning and at length is gone
In the small and open eyes, which still appear
To watch, across the graveled dirt,
The haggard daylight steer.

(With apologies to Richard Wilbur.)

Movie

I almost cried about the rabbit.  So to put it in perspective that evening I watched the old movie The Killing Fields, where, in Cambodia in the 70’s about half a million people were slaughtered, either by our bombing, or by the Khmer Rouge.

From January to August 1973, the Khmer Republic government, with assistance from the US, dropped about half a million tons of bombs on Cambodia, which may have killed as many as 300,000 people.

…[The Khmer Rouge] executed hundreds of thousands of intellectuals; city residents; minority people such as the Cham, Vietnamese and Chinese…  Many were held in prisons, where they were detained, interrogated, tortured and executed. The most important prison in Cambodia, known as S-21, held approximately 14,000 prisoners while in operation. Only about 12 survived.2

I’d seen the movie long ago.  It’s quite good.

The Killing Fields is a 1984 British drama film set in Democratic Kampuchea, which is based on the experiences of two journalists: Cambodian Dith Pran and American Sydney Schanberg. The film won eight BAFTA Awards and three Academy Awards…3

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/sage-green/
2http://www.cambodiatribunal.org/history/cambodian-history/khmer-rouge-history/
3http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Killing_Fields_%28film%29