Posts Tagged ‘cardinal’

On the Home Front

June 17, 2017

Okay – I haven’t done all of my Berlin blogs yet.  In the middle of Day 4, but took my granddaughter (11) to see Wonder Woman this afternoon.  Interesting comment on our warlike society (WWI).  At the age of 20, Israeli star Gal Godot served for two years as an enlisted soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, serving as a combat trainer. She learned to stop bullets with her wrists, to throw tanks, and to leap tall buildings in a single bound (with more panache – and less clothes – than Superman).  2 hours 20 minutes.

When I returned from my trip the garden was going crazy!  Kinda like jungle vines in horror movies that creep through your window and strangle you at night.  Then a wind downed the tomatoes, cages and all.  Lost a few cherries.  Had to put nails in the wall to attach them.  Many squash.  Am eating two tomatoes a day to keep up.

Heard some chirping in the garden this morning and when I went to check it out, a cardinal flew off with one of my cherry tomatoes.  Didn’t know they ate them but the internet said they do in dry conditions.  As in any time in Tucson.  104° today, but 113° by Monday.  Good time to be leaving for northern California, as in tomorrow morning.

I mentioned the second set of dove chicks in this blog, The Garden.  Went to clean out the nest when I returned to town, but the dove was starting a new brood!  Reminds me of my maternal grandmother, who had 11 kids (and then her husband died).  But yesterday morning, when I was out back in my yukata, two men walked into the yard!  Turns out the owner has a contract for them to “clean” the yard every 6 weeks.  (I was only there at that time of day because after two day of sitting for my three grandkids, I was too tired to go to exercise class!) The foreman was surprised how well the garden was doing.  Not sure the previous renters watered or trimmed anything.

“Cleaning” seems to consist of blowing all of the dead leaves into a corner, with the deafening noise of a plane taking off, then raking them up and taking them away.  All windows are then covered in tiny leaf pieces.  Plus (as the dove had flown in fright), they blew leaves off the top of the wall, and one of the dove eggs was blown from the nest, broken on the brick patio.  I did ask the foreman to trim a couple of rangy Texas rangers that I hadn’t gotten to before the heat hit.  And they carted off the 8-foot-long branch that I had sawn off the palo verde, but then had no energy to saw in thirds for the trash.  (However, I think that I may decline this service from now on.)



December 9, 2012

terry grossterry's voiceFor years I heard Terry Gross on NPR.  She had such a lovely, youthful voice I pictured her like this young blonde (left).

Was surprised when I saw her photo in the NY Times (right).  Turns out she’s only five years younger than me.

Likewise, Diane Rehm’s voice, altered by spasmodic dysphonia under treatment, has her sounding quitediane rehm diane's voiceold.  (Assumed she looked like the woman on the left).  True, she is ten years older than me, but she looks great (right).

I went out to pick some arugula from my garden for dinner and coming back around the house I saw a bobcat dart away across the yard.  My cat was watching intently from the bedroom door.  Had the bobcat been on the patio checking her out?  For a friend or a meal?  Is the bobcat’s presence the reason that I haven’t seen the coyotes in a couple of weeks?  (Coyotes will stay away from bobcats.)

cardinal 004Cardinal
A beautiful male cardinal at my birdbath.

A previous NY Times Travel Issue of its Style Magazine said of Cologne, “It’s pleasing to be in a city where book stores are common.”  Not easy to find one in Tucson.  A month ago I wanted to buy a book for my grandson.  Tucson Mall no longer has a bookstore.  I stopped in Target to get something else and voilà! They had a book section with the one that I wanted.

To Serve Man

October 28, 2012

I woke up this morning with a fear that if Romney wins we’ll be in a Twilight Zone episode (circa 1960), where

the pig-like “Kanamit,” testify that the purpose of their mission to Earth is to “bring to you the peace and plenty which we ourselves enjoy, and which we have in the past brought to other races throughout the galaxy.”

At the end, the UN translator finally deciphers the stolen book he has been working on (using a basic Kanamit-English dictionary provided by the aliens): titled To Serve Man, it is a cookbook!

Yes, Romney says he knows how to create jobs.  At Bain, he did so with Staples:

How do these “Romney job creator” jobs stack up against other jobs? Average Staples salaries for job postings nationwide are 51 percent lower than average salaries for all job postings. The pay at Staples appears to be around $8-10 an hour. That’s $16-20,000 a year, certainly not enough to support a family, or even pay rent in many areas, never mind buying food. (The 2012 poverty guideline for family of four is $23,050.)

I can’t even listen to the radio now without the latest statistics in the Presidential Race.  Can barely read the Sunday NY Times!  Aargh!

Big Change

I can’t help but think that the Big Change that Romney has been talking about is the $111.8 million that he and his party allies brought in during the first two weeks of October: 11,180,000,000 cents!

The Birds, again

“My” male cardinal, very much alive, contrasted to these birds from today’s Times: Casualties of Toronto’s Urban Skies

FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program) estimates that one million to nine million birds die every year from impact with buildings in the Toronto area. The group’s founder once single-handedly recovered about 500 dead birds in one morning.

If you go into the site, this composite photo is a Multimedia Feature with names for the various birds.

The Vegetarian Coyote

October 26, 2012

My coyote seems to like the mesquite seeds.  Definitely easier to catch than rabbits or mice!  (Photo taken at dusk, and he was moving.)  Noticed that he preferred pods that had fallen onto a bush, and would stand on his hind legs to get them, but he’d settle for ones on the ground.  From his scat I would say that mesquite beans made up most of his diet.  (Wondered if that was healthy so I checked and there are many vegetarian dog foods on the market.)

Studies have shown that when available, 80% of a coyote’s diet is made up of mesquite pods. [Non-sequitur: The temperature under the tree can be 15° F cooler than the surrounding desert.]

Cardinal v. Woodpecker

A Gila woodpecker and a female cardinal both landed on my birdbath at the same time.  (Unfortunately, my camera focused on the screen.)  After a staring contest, the cardinal won, and got to drink first.  The woodpecker returned after she was gone.

The Northern Cardinal has an orange beak, the Pyrrhuloxia (which I have been spelling incorrectly for a long time) has a yellow beak, and the Vermilion Cardinal has a grey beak.

The Gila Woodpecker has its red spot on its head while the Gilded Flicker (also a woodpecker) has its red spots on its cheeks.

Flash Mobs

I love flash mobs!  I was just sent this one, Beethoven’s 9th near Barcelona, Spain, Beethoven’s 9th and checked out a few others, this at a prison! prison  But my favorite has always been Grand Central Station: Grand Central Station and, of course, the Sound of Music: Sound of Music

Cool Weather, Heated Politics

August 18, 2012

August 18. 2012

The other day the newscaster said that it would be “cooler”, with a high of “only” 98°.  Only in Arizona would 98° and cooler be in the same sentence.  But the heat wave is over, having not broken the record of 99 sequential days over 100°.  And the critters are back, now that the temperatures have fallen below 100°.










The two young coyotes were checking out something in the next yard this evening, but behind too much brush for me to get a photo.  I asked for them to pose, and they each stopped to look at me before they trotted off, but not long enough for me to focus.  One of them had been nosing something next to my fence the other morning when I opened the bedroom door.  Startled, he jumped about two feet before he took off.

The female cardinal has been around a lot, but haven’t seen her mate.  Earlier in the day “my” hawk flew out of my large mesquite tree when I went out to the garden.  Saw it a couple of days ago too.  Think the wing span is about two feet.

The other morning I heard the javelinas.  (They chew very nosily!)  Went out with my camera, but the herd was beyond the brush, which is thick along the wash, only a lone youngster chewing mesquite seeds by my fence.  He posed better than the coyotes!  Had the herd kicked him out, forcing him to find a mate in another herd?  He’s vulnerable to coyotes alone.

It’s been overcast, and the past few days the scanty clouds have tried to rain, resulting in darkening the dirt, but if you scratch it, it’s totally dry below the top 1/16”.  My plants have no energy to call out for water anymore.  Drought, wildfires across the West, global warming, but

Last Thursday, in town hall held in Derry, New Hampshire, Romney argued that carbon emissions shouldn’t be regulated as pollutants by the Environmental Protection Agency.


Bugging me

I input what are those tiny black spots on my sunflower leaves? into Google and got ten sites discussing the problem.  Seems that they’re black aphids.  Same when I input how to get rid of mealy bug on my coleus? Many people with the same problem.   

I am ignoring the infestation of the sunflowers, because they’re annuals, but the coleus (seen here in its former glory) was heavily infested when I returned from San Diego, so I gave up and cut most of the limbs off.  Way too many white furry dots to squish.  I neglected to take a photo of the mealy bugs – this from the internet.  If I had to live on what I grew, I’d starve very quickly.  (Ok, ok, you don’t eat sunflowers or coleus, but you get the idea.)

To eliminate the aphids, I could buy a box of ladybugs.  (They love to eat aphids.)  Did that once, about 35 years ago, when I had aphids on my five rose bushes.  About 8pm the doorbell rang, and it was a postman with the box of aphids.  Why did I get the special delivery?  They were afraid that the ladybugs would get out of the box in the post office.  The instructions said sprinkle onto your plants.  So, in the backyard, at 8:00 at night, lit only by the houselights, I opened the box and attempted to sprinkle the ladybugs.  Right.  They were crawling all over the place, on the box, up my arm.  I was laughing pretty hard, but managed to disperse them.  The next day I could only find three ladybugs, but all of the aphids were gone.  In another day there was only one ladybug left.  Because they had been sent from Rough and Ready, California, I figured that they were homing ladybugs, and that they flew back to California to be repackaged.

Ryan’s Budget

Last Saturday morning the clock radio, which I had forgotten to turn off, started and I awoke to a nightmare.  Not from a nightmare, but to a nightmare, as it was announced that Romney had picked Ryan for his running mate.  OMG – that Ryan budget.  Bad for seniors:

Paul Ryan hasn’t ended his adventure to kill Medicare, he has simply changed his method from the electric chair to lethal injection. He does this by turning the Medicare system over to a wild insurance market deregulated by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“Obamacare” reduces Medicare Part D prescription drug prices. If it is repealed today, seniors on average can expect to pay $517 more each year in prescription drug costs right now. And if you are a senior that reaches the “donut hole”, Ryan’s plan will helpfully open the coverage gap back up for you, and will cost you an additional $16,000 over the next decade.1

And Ryan’s really bad for women:

He believes ending a pregnancy should be illegal even when it results from rape or incest, or endangers a woman’s health.2

I want to ask everyone who believes that abortion should be illegal for rape or incest, whether they’ve ever adopted one of those children.  Imagine, half of the genes from a criminal.  After the Bosnian War, where Serb forces systematically raped between 20,000 and 44,000 women, I remember seeing photos in 1995, probably in Life magazine, of the babies abandoned, filling orphanages.

The forgotten “rape babies” do not exist in the eyes of the law and are unacknowledged by their families. Most grow-up in a state-run orphanage in Zenica, a run-down building with broken windows.3

Romney’s Taxes

I was being  generous to Romney, thinking that ok, he only paid 13% on his 2010 income of $21.6 million, but he no doubt paid a lot of real estate taxes on his five houses, all of which, of course, are mansions, and googled how much real estate tax he paid.  Couldn’t find that, but found this comment:

The way Romney phrased it, that 13% could include sales and real estate taxes. Indeed, he could have paid NO federal income taxes and still have made the same claim.4

Here’s a website for how much the houses were/are worth.  (He has sold two of them; the Belmont, Mass home sold for $3.5 million in 2009 and the Park City, Utah chalet for a little under $5.25 million.)

Then stumbled onto this article, Mitt Romney Started Bain Capital With Money From Families Tied To Death Squads.5

You decide whether it’s important.






Grumbly Clouds

July 24, 2012

I do love these grumbly clouds, even when they don’t deign to rain on me.  Keeping the sun at bay keeps the temperatures below 100.


A hawk with a finely-barred tail in the acacia outside my bedroom door.  To get water from the birdbath, or to get a dove getting water from the birdbath?  I see the tail and think Swainson’s (this gorgeous photo of one from  Only got a glance; it had a fan tail rather than the Cooper’s hawk’s narrow tail.  (The right photo of a Cooper’s from Flickr.)  Wow, so many awesome bird photos on the internet!

A friend’s condo had hawks raising a family in the pine trees.  One of the neighbors put a birdbath on the ground between the large rocks.  Took a photo with my cell phone, but neglected to put it on zoom.  (My phone is ancient and doesn’t take those great photos like friend N’s did in Cuba.)  Anyway, friend thought that the hawks were Harris, but here is a photo of a juvenile Harris from the Web:  I don’t think so.


Night before last espied the young coyote eating something outside my garden.  Hard to take a photo through chicken wire.  Yesterday evening I was by the fence repairing a drip line with a crack (still prefer drip irrigation to moving hoses!) and noticed the coyote just a stone’s throw away pawing aside a rock to get something under it.  Or was it there to nonchalantly see what I was doing?  Had a one-sided conversation with it (as I do with all of my desert pals) and it trotted off.

Other birds

Two families of quail in the yard while I sat outside this evening; one family of four on one side, family of eight on the other.

Rather like this photo I took of a white-winged dove on my saguaro.  Here is its call:

Didn’t do too well with the female cardinal.  She turned her head as I shot.  Guess I’ll have to sit in the yard for a few hours with my camera to get any good shots.


May 20, 2011

I don’t know if it’s whether I can’t understand cardinal speak, or they don’t distinguish between crises.  Usually if they’re squawking up a storm it’s a roadrunner or bobcat, or even my cat that’s disturbing them.  Yesterday I didn’t see a predator, and, not walking around the yard, didn’t realize that they were peeping one of the chicks has fallen out of the nest.  Too bad.  Today the ants were at it.  Yesterday I could have put it back into the nest.

(It is not true that birds will ignore a hatchling that a person has touched.  Many years ago a curved-bill thrasher watched me put one of her chicks back in her nest in a cholla next to my garage and was perfectly ok with it – although she didn’t thank me.)

Today my cat was sitting on the patio watching the quail when I heard a ruckus.  A large hawk flew from the quail towards my cat (who ducked under the chaise lounge).  Haven’t seen any quail babies yet, so don’t think it got anyone.  Wonder if I only have one hawk around, the one who herds doves into my kitchen windouw.

The critters are pretty comfortable on my patio.  Pix here of a rabbit and a quail.  They’re all curious and peer into the bedroom.  Previously have had photos of a thrasher and the bobcat.
(bobcat-sighting/)  Glad there aren’t any alligators or hippos around.   (I love this youtube about Jessica the hippo raised by a South African couple: hippo)

The Test

Passed the SEI course (Structured English Immersion – the online class I whizzed through in just over a month) with flying colors.

Now studying Calculus for Dummies to review what I taught 35 years ago, to take the secondary school math test in July for my teaching certificate.  (Taking the English test next month, my other teaching major, but I use English every day, as opposed to calc.)

All of this work and who knows if any high school will hire a 64-year-old.  At least I know that they have a hard time getting math teachers.

This whole process is a bit pricey, the fingerprinting (no I’m not a felon), the SEI class, the English and math tests, the certificate fee itself.  But it does keep me out of trouble.  Hah!

BTW – if any one of you want to expand your brain power (and escape the dreaded Alzheimer’s), I recommend Calculus for Dummies.


A termite queen (in Africa anyway) lays an egg every 3 seconds for 15 years.  (Yes, that’s a termite mound behind me and the Maasai guide in Tanzania a few years ago.)

When you think you know who your friends are…

May 10, 2011


A great squawking this morning by the female cardinal.  I looked out and the male cardinal was worrying my friend the roadrunner, high up in the acacia tree.  Roadrunner, no doubt, had been thinking of raiding the eggs in the cardinal nest.  I assisted in the rout, walking towards the roadrunner until it swooped (they seldom fly) down to the ground and ran off.  Not sure if the ensuing cardinal peeps were meant as a thank-you.


A cottontail has been digging its burrow in the soft earth bank of the tiny wash which runs through my backyard.   (You can barely see its ears in the hole.)  Smart, in that the coyotes (at least the grown ones) can’t get through my backyard fence.  When the bobcats return, however, it won’t be any safer than anywhere else. 

When my cat sees the bunny she stalks it around the yard and it bounds off.  But this morning I looked out of the bathroom window and it was in my vegetable garden!  Admittedly, I had encircled the garden with welded wire, in 2”x4” rectangles, as that was more “architectural” than chicken wire.  I went out to shoo it away and it slipped right through the fence.  I am constantly amazed at the tiny apertures animals can squeeze through.  Guess I have discovered who devoured my arugula.


Just now a white-winged dove slammed into my kitchen window, but then flew away around the garage.  I went outside to see if it had collapsed there, only to see a  Cooper’s hawk (identified by the stripes on its tail) flying past the window to see if his ploy had worked.  I had heard that hawks herded birds into windows to knock them out and make the kill easier, but this is the first time I had witnessed it.

San Xavier

My cousin and his wife from Virginia are vacationing at his daughter’s in Phoenix this week, so they drove down on Sunday for a short visit.  Not time enough for a hike in Sabino Canyon or a trip to the Desert Museum, so we toured San Xavier mission.   This from Wikipedia (which has better photos than mine, shown here):

The mission was founded in 1692 by the Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino, founder of the Spanish missions in the Sonoran Desert chain, who often visited and preached in the area. The original mission church, located about two miles away, was vulnerable to Apache attacks that finally destroyed it in about 1770. The present building was constructed with native labor working from 1783-1797 with a loan of 7,000 pesos, and serves the Catholics of the San Xavier District of Tohono O’odham Nation.

For the interior restoration, fresco workers were brought in from Italy.

The on-site effort at San Xavier was supervised by Carlo Giantomassi and Donatella Zari of Rome, Italy, two of the world’s outstanding fresco and mosaic conservators… Giantomass, was a member of the technical commission overseeing the Sistine Chapel project.


May 1, 2011

Four deer this morning, nibbling leaves outside my fence.

The coyote had slept in too late, and nosed about at nine, two hours after the rabbits had gamboled about the yard with the quail.  (He had probably been picking off someone else’s rabbits at seven.)

A friend of mine, over today, noted that the bird singing its heart out in my tree was a cardinal.  I had thought that it was a pyrrhuloxia because it had brown on its wings, but I looked it up in my bird book, and pyrrhuloxias have lots less red.  So the birds nesting in my acacia are beautiful red cardinals.  I’ve changed the incorrect reference in this blog:


To continue to receive unemployment compensation (which, BTW, they have now asked me to repay for the last month, as I was not looking for any job, minimum wage included, not applying for five a week) I had started the process to renew my teaching certificate.

As part of that, I enrolled in the mandatory SEI (Structured English Immersion) class, and have been busting my butt trying to complete a semester class in a month and a half online.

The latest assignment was to interview two students, one in the US for over three years, the other in our country for under two years, to compare their language acquisition.

Ms. G, the ELL (English Language Learner) teacher at the school where I tutor for Reading Seed, chose two of her best students (no doubt to reflect upon her excellent skills).

K nearly broke my heart.  This absolutely gorgeous nine-year-old immigrated with his mother and baby sister four years ago from war-ravaged Sudan after two of his sisters had died in a house on fire.  His oldest brother and his wife had gone to Australia with his grandfather, but the other boys were left in Sudan with their father.  He has not seen his father in four years but speaks with him occasionally on the phone in their native Dinka language.

139 die in southern Sudan tribal clashes

Thursday 7 January 2010  News of Nuer attack on Dinka follows aid groups’ call for urgent diplomatic effort to stave off humanitarian disaster

At least 139 people have been killed in the latest outburst of tribal violence that is threatening the stability of southern Sudan.

Armed Nuer men attacked Dinka herders on Saturday in Tonj, one of the most remote parts of the autonomous south, stealing 5,000 cattle.

“They killed 139 people and wounded 54. Nobody knows how many attackers were killed. But it may be many as a lot of people came to fight,” Sabino Makana, the deputy governor of Warrap state, told Reuters.

Different ethnic groups in the region have long clashed in cattle raids and disputes over land. Since 2008 the tribal violence has proved especially deadly, with 2,500 people killed and 350,000 forced from their homes.

And although my recent readings were about survivors from different African wars, in Burundi and Sierra Leone, this put a face on the killings.

Strength in What Remains is an unlikely story about an unreasonable man. Deo was a young medical student who fled the genocidal civil war in Burundi in 1994 for the uncertainty of New York City. Against absurd odds–he arrived with little money and less English and slept in Central Park while delivering groceries for starvation wages–his own ambition and a few kind New Yorkers led him to Columbia University and, beyond that, to medical school and American citizenship. That his rise followed a familiar immigrant’s path to success doesn’t make it any less remarkable, but what gives Deo’s story its particular power is that becoming an American citizen did not erase his connection to Burundi, in either his memory or his dreams for the future… Tracy Kidder follows Deo back to Burundi, where he recalls the horrors of his narrow escape from the war and begins to build a medical clinic where none had been before. Deo’s terrible journey makes his story a hard one to tell; his tirelessly hopeful but clear-eyed efforts make it a gripping and inspiring one to read.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah …terrible atrocities that some descriptions in the book are hard to read. These heinous scourges occurred in the Sierra Leone region during the 1980s by rebel troops and Army Troops during that country’s Civil War.

K spoke of going to kindergarten in Tucson knowing no English, not understanding that the other children wanted to be his friends.  He now speaks excellent English, with no accent (which means a slightly Western accent).   He also highly praised Ms. G.  What a diplomat!  You’d think that he was running for President, except that he wasn’t born in the US.  (But we know that the CIA could come up with some birth documents…)

Coyote v. Javelina

January 13, 2011

I was on the phone, standing next to the outside door, when there was a crashing in the underbrush next to my fence, and a lithe coyote darted out, chased by a large javelina. When the javelina turned back to the herd, the coyote ran towards them again, no doubt trying to separate one of the little ones, and the javelinas scurried down the hillside into the wash.

I started my walk (sandals were a bad choice; I ended up with three blisters) and stopped to chat with a neighbor walking her two miniature (not toy) poodles.  She had curtailed her walk when three coyotes appeared down the road from them. She was afraid for her dogs. She said that she and her husband had sold their large house on the east side quickly, and were renting until they decided where to buy a smaller place. She said that she was too fearful here in the desert, for her small dogs, what with the coyotes and bobcats. My cat is no doubt warier than her dogs.

The Birds

I got a photo of the female cardinal (not a pyrrhuloxia). And for the first time at this house I saw a glossy black phainopepla, silky flycatcher, at the birdbath. It flitted away into the acacia tree and I didn’t get a very good photo of it; you can’t see his gorgeous crest. Quail are seldom seen in trees, but here the “guard” has chosen the acacia for his post.

Yesterday a roadrunner walked across my patio, to the interest of the cat inside; the day before, two quail traversed the patio. No other excitement.