Posts Tagged ‘collared lizard’


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.



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.


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).


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.



May 18, 2014

white 009white 007

My white flowers are almost gone.  The ground cover, myoporum, around my spa deck, has been white for a month.  My cilantro has flowered and is starting to seed, so I’m using it for flower arrangements.  In pots next to my bedroom patio are volunteer white 011white 008snapdragons and phlox, and on the deck the alyssum is almost finished.  The sahuaro white blossoms have mostly turned to fruit.
white 015white 010.






Birds, and a lizard

hawk 001An immature Cooper’s hawk sat at my birdbath, watching me.  I guess one of his parents is the hawk who often sits in the huge mesquite next to my backyard.  They love doves, and there are a few around here.

white 001I noticed “my” roadrunner was limping, and saw that his left leg had gotten tangled in twine when I enlarged this photo.  (Click to see.)

My cat dearly wants to catch this collared lizard.  Unfortunately, she ate another small bird yesterday (I white 002found the feathers of what looked like a goldfinch under a living room window, so it may have flown in and broken its neck) and of course threw up on the rug.  She is confined to quarters today.

We broke the ice on the Santa Cruz

We hit our first one hundred degree day here in Tucson on Friday, May 16th.  Saturday we had a high of 101°.1


Saguaro Boot

May 31, 2011

A couple of starlings are raising their chicks in my saguaro.  Here is a photo showing one of the parents and a few other holes in the cactus.  (See the fruit on the ends of the arms.)  Starlings are not mentioned in the Web info on which birds nest in the “boots”:

The saguaro is like a multi-storied complex; many animals live in close quarters and the occupants change constantly. The Gila woodpecker and glided flicker dwell in nest holes they make in the trunk of saguaros. These birds excavate new holes each spring and reject several cavities in one nesting season before settling in one and raising a family.

Once a woodpecker or flicker has hollowed out a nest, the saguaro heals over the injury creating a tough boot-shaped structure. Heavily impregnated with lignin, it resists decay and can offer nest holes to hundreds of birds through the life of the cactus.

The birds who compete for the homes include: American kestrel, cactus wrens, Lucy’s warblers, phainopeplas, elf owls, purple martins, screech owls, western kingbirds.  For residents, the holes are a retreat from desert temperature extremes. Well insulated by thick walls, the holes are as much as 20 degrees cooler in summer and 20 degrees warmer in the winter.


Who would have thought that a rabbit would eat leek greens?  I know that Peter Rabbit’s mother gave him chamomile tea for a sick stomach after eating too many of Mr. McGregor’s radishes, but leeks?!  (Or do the mice eat them?)

I have decided that I need a raised garden, away from invasive tree roots, screened from the nibblers.


My cat brought me a tiny bird yesterday evening.  Couldn’t identify it – slim, and in size between a hummingbird and a goldfinch, with a thin beak, and a nondescript dusty color.  I took it from the cat, gave it a pet, and it flew away.  (Faring better than the lizard, drawn and quartered, on the patio the other morning.)

A collared lizard has managed to escape her clutches so far.  It often suns on or next to my spa deck.

Mice and Spiders

I am losing the (outside) battle to the mice and spiders.  Half-a-dozen tiny holes in the hard dirt next to my patio must be from mice.  (I guess the cat inside the fence is less threat than the coyotes outside the fence?)  When my daughter visited last, with family and dog, the dog dug up a mouse burrow, a series of tunnels, among my century plants.  This must be where they then moved.

Now I am not opposed to having spiders around outside.  They do control the flying insects.  There seem to be enough gnats and moths around to keep them going.  However, the myoporum is covered by the webs of the funnel-web spider, and they have collected all of the dead palo verde flowers, as well as other detritus, and just look messy.  (Photo of the spider itself is from the Web – haha.)

Funnel-Web Spider
DESCRIPTION: Length to 1/2″. Color is brown to gray with various markings on body. These spiders are easily identified by their funnel-shaped webs.
NATURAL HISTORY: The spiders tend to stay hidden in the funnel of their web until an insect enters the web. The vibrations on the web are felt by the spider who then rushes out to seize its prey.


When Safeway started carrying Starbucks coffee (I buy their espresso blend – not as harsh as other espressos), I was delighted at the price, and didn’t realize, until I got home, that I had bought a 12 oz bag, instead of a pound.  No wonder it was cheaper!  Alas, a year later, I bought the least expensive bacon, and when I went to use it, it dawned on me that I had been snookered again – it was a 12 oz package.

Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.