Posts Tagged ‘bobcats’


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.

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:  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.

And my barrel cactus is blooming beautifully.


Art and the Desert

May 28, 2015

A week and a half ago TMA’s CAS (Tucson Museum of Art’s Contemporary Art Society) visited The Barrio Collection, the glass studio of Katja Fritzsche1 and her husband, Danny Perkins, who recently moved from the Seattle area, Whidbey Island.  Pilchuck Glass School2, where Danny was a guest lecturer, is right there.bobcat + purple 007

Danny Perkins is considered by critics to be one of the most innovative glass artists working today. His works are considered to be masterworks of contemporary sculpture. Each of Perkin’s pieces demonstrates his great skill in the use of both color and form. Perkins consistently translates his unique vision into great art.

Perkin’s glass art is represented in major public and private collections in the United States, Europe and Asia including:
* National Museum of American Art, Renwick Gallery, Washington DC
* Corning Museum of Art, Corning, NY
* Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland,CA3

My photo shows two of his huge glass works flanking one of his paintings.  This photo doesn’t really show off the glass.  See the Duane Reed Gallery web page for marvelous photos4.

Katja does cast glass, much in the same way I did bronze in the lost wax class I took. (See my blogs from a year ago re the lost wax process.4)  Her present work is influenced by Sumi-e.

glass 003glass 010glass 002In the first photo you can see the wax bird and the plaster cast, in the second a wax composition on plywood, in the third, a finished work, the light shining through the glass.


bobcat + purple 016

The large bobcat visited early the morning of Memorial Day, before I had even made my coffee.  My cat acts as a pointer; although she doesn’t hold her tail upright and lift her right paw, when she comes to attention, I check out what has appeared in the yard.  This bobcat came into the yard from the back and rested on the bridge over the small wash in the yard, behind the rosemary, so I couldn’t get a photo.  Then it took off, muscles rippling, and I rushed to the guest bedroom for this shot unfortunately in shade.

young bobcat 009Then in the evening the cat perked up again – a very young bobcat walked onto the bedroom patio.  I slid off the bed and started to take photos.  When it finally turned towards us, it didn’t even bother looking at me  (it acted as though I, with camera, was just a piece of furniture) but its eyes got large looking at my cat with her hair sticking up and her tail poofed up.  Then my cat started growling, and the small bobcat slunk out of the yard.

young bobcat 012young bobcat 013


Blooming, May 24, 2015

bobcat + purple 019

bobcat + purple 021The Mexican primroses are joyfully flowering pink, the texas rangers, happy with the increased humidity we had last week (and that tiny bit of rain),  have burst out in their dark violet blossoms.  The gaillardias add a nice touch of red-orange to my wildflowers.

bobcat + purple 023

And some blue flowers volunteered in my vegetable bobcat + purple 024garden, so I dug them up (along with a couple of the volunteer snapdragons) and put them in a pot on the bedroom patio. I think they’re veronicas.  Maybe I had bought some for a pot years ago, and the seeds got into my compost.


I haven’t seen the western screech owl that my neighbor says lives in his yard, but I hear the call after dark.  (This web site has the call: screech-owl)

It’s mating season and the birds aren’t thinking right.  A goldfinch bounced off my kitchen door, but it was still alive, just woozy, so I put it on a twig in the acacia tree.

bobcat + purple 014This one (a house sparrow?) didn’t make it.  It had smacked into the bedroom sliding door, where I do not have those decals which reflect ultraviolet sunlight. (This ultraviolet light is invisible to humans, but glows like a stoplight for birds.)  I have decals on my kitchen windows and the windows for the living and dining rooms.


Seen This Week

January 18, 2013


Wednesday was trash day.  Down the street a dozen javelinas had toppled a large trash container into the road and, ignoring the passing cars (one of which stopped, probably to take a phone photo), were gobbling as quickly as possible, nuzzling around each other like a swarm of bees.  A couple of hours later, when I drove by, the owner was sweeping up the mess, obviously disgruntled.


3 bobcats 0173 bobcats 0153 bobcats 010Wednesday afternoon I was on my deck cutting back some vines that had died from the frost when there was a terrible hullabaloo in the yard.  At first I thought it had to be javelinas, because of the racket, but they wouldn’t be in the yard.  Then I saw them – two bobcats fighting.  I ran for my camera and dashed outside.  The fight had ended but I discovered three bobcats!  One was in the tree, one was on the top of my wall, and the third decided to move farther away, strolling up to the front of the house.  But all of them posed when I asked them to.  (Look at the size of those paws!)  A guy I work with thought that two were males fighting over the one female.


A woman was in a sleeveless top, walking her dog.  The weather had changed.

Record Cold

Last week when I was in Virginia, Tucson had a spate of record cold temps.  Saturday’s official low was 26°; the high was only 46°.  Sunday 24°, 48°.  Monday 22°, 43°.   I got back home on Monday morning to a note from my house-sitter that the drip system had exploded, as well as that of my next-door-neighbors (visiting grandkids in California); she shut both down.  A guy fixed mine today – three parts broken, $$$.

Tuesday morning I had no water.  The temperature had dropped to 18°, breaking the old record low for the date, the high only 47°.  Tucson Water received more than 100 calls from customers with frozen pipes.  I checked their web site and found that I should have insulated the pipes and left one faucet dripping.  The pipes thawed by quarter to eleven, and then I wrapped them with towels and duct tape, like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.  And Tuesday night I left a faucet dripping in the kitchen, into a bucket so I could water my potted plants.

The weather service issued another hard-freeze warning for Wednesday.  (Its low and high were 25°, 60°.  For five days running the average temp was only 37°; I’ll bet the tourists around the pool weren’t happy!)  At least the chill in the air has kept the air-conditioner off in my car and my mileage now tops 29 mpg.

But I guess our winter is over.  Today’s high was 73°!


During the entire fiscal cliff debacle Republicans said they wanted deep cuts to entitlement spending.  They’re talking about Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and so on.  When I think of entitlements, I think not of the government benefits that 49% of Americans receive (including me, with Medicare and Social Security), but of all of the entitlements that rich people, and people with power acquire.  For example, Harvard, Yale and other Ivy schools have a preference for “legacy” students.  (This from Wikipedia.)

Legacy preferences or legacy admission is a type of preference given by educational institutions to certain applicants on the basis of their familial relationship to alumni of that institution.  Derek Bok, former Harvard University president, found “the overall admission rate for legacies was almost twice that for all other candidates.”

This is how George W. Bush got into Yale, even with his SAT scores of 1206, 200 points below Yale’s average freshman in 1970.  Possibly his father and grandfather having been Yale graduates helped?  (As a student, W studied in the Yale library’s Prescott Walker Bush Memorial Wing.)  He only graduated Yale in 1968 with a 2.35 GPA but managed to get into Harvard Business School after having been rejected from admission at University of Texas Law School.  (Today’s Harvard students average a GPA of 3.5 – no students are accepted with a GPA lower than 2.6.)1

Anyway, those are entitlements.  Not having to take your shoes off at an airport and have your toothpaste taken away ‘cause the tube’s too big is not a problem if you have your own jet.  That’s an entitlement.  Some people just inherit wealth.  (On her 18th birthday, Allegra Versace came into an inheritance valued at over $700 million.2)  That’s an entitlement.  Wonder how many of the rich entitled are Republicans…


Arizona Wildcats

October 11, 2010

The Bobcats

(Hah!  You thought that I was going to talk about football…)

Whenever I’m leaving the house, I first find the cat, to make sure she’s inside.  I looked outside and instead of my housecat, two bobcats were lounging on my deck.  I took a bad photo through the door, then went outside to ask if I could photograph, and they took a leisurely exit.  (It wasn’t until the last shot that I remembered about the zoom lens.)  Siblings or mates?

The Thorn Bush

I have mentioned my thorn bush in Love those clouds…  [A beautiful cardinal enjoyed the berries on the bush/tree (which name I don’t know)] and in Yes, but it’s a dry heat… [This morning the quail were trying to balance in a thorn bush to eat the berries]; today I finally got around to looking it up.

Desert Hackberry Celtis ehrenbergiana

SHRUB: Large or medium size leafy shrub with dark gray or brown bark.

ARMED: Sharp thorns 1-2 cm long, often with short apical spurs. The spines occur two to a node.

LEAVES: Simple and relatively large. Dull green, thin, leathery, margins smooth or with a few course teeth.

FRUIT: A sweet, bright orange berry, 7 mm dia., with one hard seed. Berries ripen July-Dec. with quantity and timing highly dependent on rainfall.

RANGE: Common along washes especially with increasing elevation and available moisture. Absent from the lowest, driest areas of the Sonoran Desert.

The edible berries are sweet to man and birds. Hermit Thrush, Northern Cardinal, towhees, Phainopepla, Townsend’s Solitaire, Cedar Waxwing, thrashers, White-crowned Sparrow and House Finch are among the birds likely to be seen at Desert Hackberry when in fruit.

I don’t know the Hermit Thrush or the Townsend’s Solitaire, and I’ve never seen a Cedar Waxwing around, but I’ll pay more attention.  (They don’t mention the quail.)

The Coyote

Yesterday the coyote looked in the fence, but didn’t enter the yard.

The Walkingstick

Rather an anticlimax to the predators, a walkingstick by my front door.

Bobcat Sighting

May 19, 2010

19May10 2:20

I walked into my bedroom and there was a bobcat sitting right next to the sliding glass door, looking in.  My camera, of course, was upstairs in my office (where I had just taken a photo  of the palo verde in bloom, shown here).  

By the time I returned it was no longer posing.  What was it doing out in the middle of the day?  They’re supposed to be 
crepuscular, out and about from three hours before sunset until about midnight, and then again from before dawn until three hours after sunrise.


A new bird (for me) – Cassin’s kingbird?  Classic bird shape, good-sized, and a nondescript gray except for a yellow belly that doesn’t come up to its neck.  I love sitting outside in the later afternoon when there’s no longer sun in the yard.

Darn!  My cat just caught a female black-chinned hummingbird.  I rescued her and she appeared traumatized but not hurt.  I put her in a live oak; I hope that she recovers.  (Photo.)

The desert is as loud as the jungle, without the raucous cries of the macaws.  Tweet tweet tweet tweet, whatcheer whatcheer, peep peep peep, ratatattat, cheep cheep cheep, goo goo g’joob (that’s the dove, not the walrus), twitter twitter twitter.

A tarantula wasp glides by.  They are so beautiful – black with burnt orange, but I like tarantulas and dislike what they do to them.  This from Wikipedia:

The female tarantula hawk … captures, stings, and paralyzes the spider, then either drags the spider back into her own burrow or transports her prey to a specially prepared nest where a single egg is laid on the spider’s body, and the entrance is covered. When the wasp larva hatches, it rips a small hole in the spider’s abdomen, then plunges into the spider’s belly and feeds voraciously, avoiding vital organs for as long as possible to keep it fresh. After several weeks, the larva pupates. Finally, the wasp becomes an adult, and tears open the spider’s belly to get out.

Turns out one of the crashes into my kitchen windows was a bird fleeing a hawk.  I found the circle of feathers that the hawk pulls out of its catch before it eats it.

Was sitting in my chaise longue two feet away from my bird bath when a flicker, ignoring me, stopped for a long drink.

Snail Mail

My snail mail now is 90% ads, mostly for nature organizations, since I belong to the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy, which I joined in SC and which keeps me updated on reef recovery.  The Natural Resources Defense Council wants me to help stop the war on wolves, the National Wildlife Federation, the World Wildlife Fund and others send me address labels and note cards and ask me to join.  As if people send notes and letters anymore.  I blog and email and even have my bills paid online automatically.  The only non-computer person to whom I send letters is my mother’s best friend who is now 91, and that’s mostly paper copies of my blog.

My change from paper to computer seemed to have happened so fast that I still have stationery and a few note cards left over from BC (Before Computer).  Last year I even sent my Xmas letter, w/ my own photos, by computer.  I noted that friends are doing the same.  I have another 91-year-old friend, in Virginia (my old Peace Corps director), who is adverse to computer use, but his wife does the family emailing.  And a good friend’s mother-in-law, at 97, loves my blogs and sends me emails.  I’m not twittering yet, but I have friends who do.  And to think that my grandparents were born in a time before cars!

Kids and Monkeys

Had my grandchildren visiting for a few days.  Was astounded at how smart 1 ½-year-olds are.  I only told my grandson once what not to touch (my light sculpture, see, and he detoured around it!

Also read The Moral Life of Babies in the NYTimes:

Note: never wear white when playing with monkeys or grandkids.  I’m so used to having a relatively clean cat (she does love to roll in the dirt and usually cleans only her “private parts” and feet), so I was surprised how dirty monkeys are.  Even though they spend time picking bugs off each other, there is no licking.  I’m still trying to get spots out of a white blouse from Rebecca.  (See for a photo of Rebecca.)

Desert life and Eastern lawns

February 9, 2010

Two rabbits were frolicking in the yard this morning, the first since The Bobcats had spent a week or two here.  Maybe that means that the bobcats, having eaten most of those cute bunnies in my vicinity, have moved on to greener pastures.

When I lived in the first house that I designed, the Bridge House next door, the fenced area for the dog was between the garage and the house, and the area outside the bedrooms downstairs was unfenced.  Hence many critters came to feast on anything that I attempted to grow.  The rabbits loved any tender new thing; the jack rabbits, much taller, ate the tops off bushes; the deer ate the tops off bushes and newly-planted trees, and the javelinas went in for about anything.  They even love prickly pear cactus and wiped out all that I planted.  I asked the nurseryman what I could grow that they wouldn’t eat and he replied that they’d try anything, and often, if they didn’t like it, they’d dig it up in anger!

One of the only species that survived was the century plant, which I had been growing at my mother’s condo, using it as a nursery.  Each time the century plants at my house had “puppies” I’d dig them up and add them to others outside Mom’s wall.  In fact, I hired two guys to move one which was three feet high.  We moved it onto a trailer behind my car, put it in (see photo) with difficulty, but it seemed to do fine.

Unfortunately, the one dreaded plant which none of the vegetarians eat is the desert broom, scourge of the desert, able to leap tall buildings at a single bound.  This plant establishes itself quickly, spreading white puffballs of seeds, our “desert snow” in the late fall, in disturbed soils.  It is commonly seen along roadways in Tucson. Once established it is almost impossible to remove.

Bulletin just in: I looked up from the computer to see two young bobcats strolling down my driveway.  I immediately ran downstairs for my camera, took one photo from the window (below) and went out the door.  When I called to them they turned around for a picture, but the battery was low on my camera and it kept shutting off!  Plus I don’t have the great 20x I gave my son for his birthday, just my old three-to-one, which doesn’t get close enough.   These are the best that I got.

Back to plants.  The present owners of the Bridge House believe in the Natural Desert and have turned off their drip system; two-thirds of the plants have died.  (Unfortunately the desert broom is still coming up.)  Because I have to look at their yard, I have considered volunteering to weed it myself!

Which brings me to a story of good friends of mine.  When she was teaching at MIT they lived in a lovely area in Waban, just outside of Boston, all two-story homes with well-kept lawns.  He decided to take up the front lawn and plant wildflowers for a meadow.  There have been movements to remove front lawns (see the books The American Meadow Garden: Creating a Natural Alternative to the Traditional Lawn by John Greenlee and Saxon Holt and Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn by Fritz Haeg) but back in 1980 any deviation from the Front Lawn was not acceptable.  The neighbors were up in arms.  The guy next door volunteered to cut their lawn, thinking that Jim didn’t want the work.  But no, he was on the forefront of change.

When I lived in South Carolina there was a terrible drought.

2.25.2008  South Carolina may be experiencing the worst drought the region has seen since long before anyone thought to call the place Carolina.  According to tree ring data, the drought plaguing the region is at least on par with anything experienced in the past 800 years, Ryan Boyles, North Carolina’s state climatologist, told the The News & Observer.  The drought is at least the worst on record, and statistics have been kept for 113 years.

I visited friends whose house had originally backed on a river; now their deck looked out onto a mud flat.  On my way to their house I passed by rivers that were merely a trickle, with boat docks and boats mired in mud.  All of the recreation lakes were ponds.  (Here is Lake Hartwell.)

But did anyone consider removing their lawns?  Of course not.  They just complained of the drought and kept on watering that grass.

The History of Lawns in America

We didn’t always have a love affair with our lawns. In fact it wasn’t until the industrial revolution that lawns became practical for most Americans. Lawns were seen as a luxury expense for only the wealthy who could afford grounds keepers to maintain the fine bladed plants using scythes. Not everyone wanted cattle or sheep grazing in the front yard to keep the green stuff at a manageable height as did Woodrow Wilson while occupying the White House.

Actually, it was an effort to draw attention to what could be done to free up men to fight and help with shortages of wool during World War I. The wool was auctioned off for $100,000 and given to the Red Cross. Speaking of presidents, early Presidents Washington and Jefferson both used sheep to keep their home lawns at manageable heights.

Green, weed-free lawns so common today didn’t exist in America until the late 18th century. Instead, the area just outside the front door of a typical rural home was typically packed dirt or perhaps a cottage garden that contained a mix of flowers, herbs, and vegetables.

In England, however, many of the wealthy had sweeping green lawns across their estates. Americans with enough money to travel overseas returned to the U.S. with images of the English lawn firmly planted in their imaginations. Try as we might, it wasn’t as easy to reproduce a beautiful English lawn. After all, they couldn’t just run down to their local hardware store and pick up a bag of grass seed. Grasses native to America proved unsuitable for a tidy and well-controlled lawn, and our extreme climate was less than hospitable to the English grass seeds.

By 1915, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was collaborating with the U.S. Golf Association to find the right grass—or combination of grasses—that would create a durable, attractive lawn suitable to the variety of climates found in America. Included in the testing were Bermuda grass from Africa, blue grass from Europe, and a mix of Fescues and bent grass. Fifteen years later, the USDA had discovered several grass combinations that would work in our climate. We were off and running, to find the most suitable pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that would protect and serve newly blended mix of grasses. After all, now that we had a good grass blend, we couldn’t let it starve or be eaten alive by some hungry pest, or succumb to some nasty disease.

The right grass and the right treatments weren’t the only problems facing homeowners wanting the perfect lawn, however. There was also the challenge of providing sufficient water to keep the grass green in summer. It wasn’t easy hauling a bucket of water out to the yard during the summer droughts. Cutting the grass was a challenge, as well. English lawns were trimmed with scythes, an expensive process that required a certain amount of finesse, or by grazing livestock on the greens.

Mechanical mowing came about early in the 19th century and there is a general agreement that an Englishman, Edwin Budding, an engineer at a textile mill, developed a cylinder, or reel-type mower. It was a series of blades arranged around a cylinder with a push handle patterned after a machine used in a cloth factory for shearing the nap on velvet. In 1870, Elwood McGuire of Richmond, Indiana designed a machine that basically brought push mowing to the masses. By 1885, America was building 50,000 lawnmowers a year and shipping them to every country on the globe.

For the average American, the invention of the garden hose and the rotary mower made the lawn a more realistic option. Until then, lawns were just too much bother for most families. When most of the necessary tools and types of grass seeds became readily available, the average homeowner was now able to grow a lawn of their own if they wanted. As of yet, there wasn’t a real big demand for green lawns in the front yard. It wasn’t until The American Garden Club stepped in. Through contests and other forms of publicity, they convinced home owners that it was their civic duty to maintain a beautiful and healthy lawn. So effective was the club’s campaign that lawns were soon the accepted form of landscaping. The garden club further stipulated that the appropriate type of lawn was “a plot with a single type of grass with no intruding weeds, kept mown at a height of an inch and a half, uniformly green, and neatly edged.” America thus entered the age of lawn care.

Today, U.S. homeowners spend over $17 billion on outdoor home improvements. More than 26 million households hired a green professional, according to a 2000 Gallup survey and this number is expected to grow. Your little patch of green has become a big business and for good reason.