Posts Tagged ‘roadrunner’


October 21, 2017


Tucson Museum of Art

After a summer of renovation and expansion, TMA reopened to members Friday night, with new galleries, new feature exhibitions, and new selections from the museum’s permanent collection.  And the public are free this weekend!  Because I hadn’t taken my camera Friday night, I went back for two tours today, one, Dress Matters: Clothing as Metaphor, by our curator, Julie Sasse, another, Desert Dweller, by the CEO, Jeremy Mikolajczak, and a guest curator whose name I didn’t get (both shown at left).

The museum looks totally awesome!  You must go.  Here are a few of the pieces I liked.

Wikipedia says that Nick Cave is a… fabric sculptor, dancer, and performance artist… best known for his Soundsuits: wearable fabric sculptures that are bright, whimsical, and other-worldly. He also trained as a dancer with Alvin Ailey.  Can’t imagine him dancing in this Soundsuit – made from fabric, fiberglass and metal, and covered in sequins, it looks very heavy.

A painting of a ballgown, Unfinished Conversations, by Laura Schiff Bean.


Bob Carey is the photographer and subject of the “Tutu Project.” This series of stunningly silly videos and still self-portraits was originally launched to cheer up his wife, Linda, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and later went viral. 5

This lithograph, Untitled (Joseph), by Robert Longo [who, according to Wikipedia] became a rising star in the 1980s for his “Men in the Cities” series, which depicted sharply dressed men and women writhing in contorted emotion.  (Unfortunately, I caught glare and/or reflections on most of these photos.)

Barbara Penn, a professor at the University of Arizona, came in to talk of her sculpture, On a Columnar Self, which she had originally done in 1994, but recreated for the show, and how memorials are being much discussed today (as in the Civil War memorials).  Her mother’s wedding dress on the plinth.  She said the eggs represent creativity to her, but could also be (obviously) fertility.

Angela Ellsworthwas raised as a Mormon; some of her work relates to that upbringing, such as the Seer Bonnet XIX24,182 pearl corsage pins, fabric, steel, and wood.  This series of pioneer bonnets represents the wives of Joseph Smith – this one is ascribed to Flora Ann.

Had to add this photo of Julie talking as I loved the outfit of the woman in pink lavender.

This gorgeous video by Sama Alshaibi – Wasl (Union) deals with climate change and is part of Silsila, a multi-media project depicting Alshaibi’s seven-year cyclic journey through the significant deserts and endangered water sources of the Middle East and North African… Silsila

WordPress has started limiting the amount and size of photos that I put in my blogs (it is free…), so I have to stop here and add more TMA photos to another blog.  On to other topics:


First, Arizona’s governor, Doug Ducey, gives his staff outrageous raises:

Ducey’s PR guy, Daniel Scarpinato… has scored 14 percent in pay raises since Ducey took office in 2015, bringing his salary to $162,000.
…Registrar of Contractors Director Jeff Fleetham, a campaign contributor… snagged a nearly 13 percent raise to $115,000.
…Department of Child Safety Director Greg McKay, whose 33 percent raise has boosted his pay to $215,250. Or Corrections Director Charles Ryan, whose 10 percent raise brought him to $185,000.
[and] …a long-time pal he promoted from assistant director to deputy director of the Department of Administration… Kevin Donnellan scored a 41 percent pay raise, boosting his salary to $161,200. That’s not counting bonuses of $4,836 over the past two years.1

Then he gives teachers only  1%:

…he proposed a four-tenths of 1 percent pay raise for teachers – though ultimately he was pressured to boost the raise to 1 percent.1

When they protested…

Ducey’s office… stated that those receiving raises had assumed additional responsibilities, and the governor has shrunk state government by shedding 978 employees…  The Republic found at least 1,700 state workers had been fired since Ducey took office, with the largest number from DES.

The majority of those fired across the state were over age 40. Older employees are more expensive to the state payroll because they typically have higher wages, cost more to insure, and their pension contributions are higher. Numerous fired workers told The Republic that Ducey appointees also targeted women, minorities, those with disabilities, gays and lesbians.2

The Church

This was on the news the other day:

ROME – A Vatican trial over $500,000 in donations to the pope’s pediatric hospital that were diverted to renovate a cardinal’s penthouse is reaching its conclusion, with neither the cardinal who benefited nor the contractor who was apparently paid twice for the work facing trial.

Instead, the former president of the Bambino Gesu children’s hospital and his ex-treasurer are accused of misappropriating 422,000 euros from the hospital’s fundraising foundation to overhaul the retirement home of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State. vatican/2017/10/14/

So I wondered if the guys in charge of Wells Fargo’s misfeasance went to jail.  But I didn’t even know about their bank fraud ring:

An Inglewood man convicted of running a bank fraud ring that pilfered more than half a million dollars from Wells Fargo bank and its customers was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison Thursday.3

Okay – steal $500,000, get seven years in prison.  So shouldn’t that happen to the cardinal and the contractor (who maybe should get 14 years, as he was paid twice)?  But no, I was thinking of the Wells Fargo employees who secretly opened 565,443 credit card accounts without their customers’ knowledge or consent.  Nope, nobody went to jail.  Not only that, but:

…it does not appear that Wells Fargo is requiring its former consumer banking chief Carrie Tolstedt…[who] was in charge of the unit where Wells Fargo employees opened more than 2 million largely unauthorized customer accounts… to give back any of her nine-figure pay… $124.6 million.

Wells Fargo… agreed to pay $185 million… to settle claims that that it defrauded its customers… The bank also said it had fired 5,300 employees over five years related to the bad behavior.4

More pleasant predators

The roadrunner has taken over my yard, and peered at me eating lunch.  And I caught a photo of the Cooper’s hawk at the birdbath.

5Tutu Project

More Stuff…

September 18, 2017

One of my San Diego friends, knowing that I had just read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and another of Marie Kondo’s books, Joy1, gave me a copy of The Story of Stuff, by Annie Leonard.  The subtitle (it seems you need subtitles nowadays – Tidying Up has The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing) is The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better.  It is way depressing.  A snippet:

In the 1950’s, the chairman of President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisors stated, “The American economy’s ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods.”  Really?  Rather than to provide health care, safe communities, solid education for our youngsters, or a good quality of life…

So I wouldn’t recommend that you read the book, unless you’re up for a downer.  However, she has made a 20-minute online movie, which (very quickly) summarizes the book, and I do recommend that you watch it (just click here): story-of-stuff. The only thing that bothers me about the movie is that she is too perky about a depressing subject (as opposed to Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth).

And speaking of Stuff:

DETROIT — A gun was pulled after two pairs of women fought over the last notebook on a shelf at a Walmart in Michigan this week, according to police.2  (Photo from  © James Dingeldey Video footage of a woman pulling out a gun at a Walmart in Novi.)

A notebook.  Really.

The other book I’m reading now is A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold.  Lovely charcoal drawings throughout by Charles Schwartz.

Admired by an ever-growing number of readers and imitated by hundreds of writers, A Sand County Almanac serves as one of the cornerstones of modern conservation science, policy, and ethics. First published by Oxford University Press in 1949, it has become a conservation classic.3

It is depressing in a different way.  He poetically describes all that he sees, but also writes about all of the animals and plants that have been eliminated from our planet due to “progress.”  However, he isn’t strident about it.  He killed many of the animals for his own meals, but the tree that he cut up for firewood had been downed by a lightning strike.  It is quietly sad.

On April nights when it has become warm enough to sit outdoors, we love to listen to the proceedings of the convention in the marsh.  There are long periods of silence when one hears only the winnowing of snipe, the hoot of a distant owl, or the nasal clucking of some amorous coot.  Then, of a sudden, a strident honk resounds, and in an instant pandemonium echoes. There is a beating of pinions on water, a rushing of dark prows propelled by churning paddles, and a general shouting by the onlookers of a vehement controversy.  Finally some deep honker has his last word, and the noise subsides to that half-audible small-talk that seldom ceases among geese…

It is a kind providence that has withheld a sense of of history from the thousands of species of plants and animals that have exterminated each other to build the present world. The same kind providence now withholds it from us. Few grieved when the last buffalo left Wisconsin, and few will grieve when the last Silphium follows him to the lush prairies of the never-never land.

These animals have not been eliminated by Oro Valley yet:


First time I’ve seen one in this yard.  Was working at the computer when I saw it, ran for the camera in the bedroom and got these shots from there.  Probably should have knocked on the window so it looked at me.  The third photo is it on top of the wall before it jumped into the neighbor’s yard.  I also grabbed my cat and put her on her stool so she could see it too.  Explained to her that was why she wasn’t going out any more.  She was very attentive.  (I mentioned the bobcat to my neighbor, so she’d watch out for her small dog.  She said the couple in this rental before me had a small dog.  One night they let it out, and never saw it again.  So it could have been the bobcat.)


First time I’ve seen one of these in this yard too.  (This taken from the family room.)


Each evening seven mourning doves sit on my back fence.  Tightly knit family?


An Albert’s towhee has been attacking my office window for the past three days.  This is the wrong season.  They typically attack their reflections in the spring, competing for mates.  Also, usually brightly colored birds do it, as they can more easily see their reflections.  Three houses ago there was a male cardinal who would attack the office window.  Was afraid he’d hurt himself, but a website said no.

Catalina Mountains

Of course, another photo of these gorgeous mountains.



May 2, 2017

Good that the doves breed all year ’round to keep the predators fed.  Not only the bobcat and snake I showed in my last blog, but the roadrunner that today jumped over my fence to drink from the birdbath.  And yesterday there was a hawk on my neighbor’s fence, Cooper’s I think, although I didn’t get a good look, as when I saw it, it saw me and promptly flew away.

The Goldfinch

On Saturday, when my daughter’s family stopped by, my daughter espied a baby chick on the ground.  We knew it was a goldfinch because a parent was cheeping at us from a tree.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t see a nest to return it to, and the large mesquite out front has been over-trimmed (why do people do that?) so that the branches are 30 feet up, with no way to get to a nest if we’d even seen it.

So… my daughter took it home, filled a container with rags and hamster bedding, made a mash of kitten milk, catfood, and ground seeds, and fed it with a eyedropper. Pretty horrible looking, isn’t it? It doesn’t have flight feathers, and it hasn’t opened its eyes yet.  A bit of smashed mash on the wings, as it would turn quickly.  (The grey feathers I added – they were left from the bobcat’s meal.)

Anyway, she then took off on a three-day field trip to California with her daughter, and left the nestling to me!  She said she’d been feeding it every hour or so.   Supposed to feed it until its crop (a bubble on its neck) is full.  And if its skin is red, it’s dehydrated.  I checked the advice online to verify.1

Decided it needed birdseed, so chopped up sunflower kernels and Niger thistle seeds (which didn’t grind well with the mortar and pestle), mixed with water, and it seemed to like that, cheeping and jumping about.

Something is seriously wrong with its eyes.  I googled, of course, I have a finch with encrusted eyes. What should I do?

You are observing a disease that was first observed in House Finches in the Mid-Atlantic States in 1994, that has since spread to most of North America. It is caused by a parasitic bacterium called Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis. So far, the disease is most prominent in the eastern population of House Finches. However, a few reports of the disease have been confirmed in American Goldfinches, Purple Finches, Evening Grosbeaks, and Pine Grosbeaks, all members of the family Fringillidae. There is a lot of information on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website — the FAQ page is particularly informative.2

So I looked up what to do for that.3

Then kept searching:

Avian pox is another disease that affects House Finches. This disease is characterized by wart-like growths on the featherless areas of the body such as around the eye, the base of the beak, and on the legs and feet. Avian pox can be mistaken for conjunctivitis when the eyes are affected. “Growths” on the eye are typically from avian pox.4

Then the meds for that.5  But of course my daughter pointed out that it was just a chick that fell out of a tree, and it would die, just not by predator.

Five days later and the bird is dying.  My daughter has brought it by on her way to work.  No cheeping today, no fluttering of wings, and  only two bites of food each feeding.  I cheeped at it in an attempt to get it to open its beak, and even played chirping goldfinch babies from the internet, earphone next to its head, but it wasn’t hungry, or we got the food wrong and maybe it’s stuck in its throat.   It is withering away.  So I thought it should spend some time outside, with the bird calls, the cooing of the mourning doves, underlain with the hum of my AC unit, the swish of cars along La Cholla, with the occasional low rumble of a truck.

A dried bougainvillea slowly rattles across the brick patio, the trees rustle in the wind, and there’s the whir of a hummingbird wings and their high-pitched ratchet call, along with the chitter of some small bird.  The white winged doves call “Who cooks for you?  Who cooks for you?”  There’s the loud cheep cheep cheep of the woodpecker or flicker (or is its call the scrak scrak scrak?), another twittering.

A goldfinch drinks from the birdbath, then swoops back to the area outside the fence.  Two mourning doves share it now.  Then the AC unit turns on again.  It had been windy and the sky was overcast all day, but it has blown over and the evening is cool.

My daughter picked the bird up after work and it died before she reached home.

[It] should have died hereafter…
Out, out, brief candle…
It is a tale…
Signifying nothing.



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



May 4, 2013

A white-winged dove
on the edge of the bird bath
asked me to fill it.

A roadrunner running across the road with a small lizard in its beak.  A neighbor said that she watched a road runner kill a rattler.  First it unfurled its wings (to confuse the snake?)  Then it grabbed the snake in the middle and shook it until its spine broke.  (Don’t try this at home.)  I had never seen a roadrunner with its wings spread, so, of course, I checked it out on the internet and found this video:  (Just watch the first minute or so.)

Same neighbor said that the woman across the wash from her scatters birdseed, attracting pigeons (which we normally do not have here).  But she said that the bobcats hop onto her roof at night (one-story house) and dine on the pigeons.

wasp 004Tarantula Wasp
A tarantula wasp1 had gotten between the screen and the door.  Took a few photos before I drew back the screen to let it fly out.  Its wings are such a beautiful coral.


My large mesquite has been showering pollen.  A light gold dust on everything.  Maybe that’s what I’m allergic to.  (My eyes are red and itchy.)

I’ve had my May Day luncheon for almost ten years (inspired by one in a Sonoma or Napa wine magazine, exchanging bouquets) and we used to dine on the deck.  Last year and this I’ve had to move the tables may day snowinside.  (Sunday 97°.)  You’d think that the globe was warming up or something…  Then the new shows photos of Cheyenne, Wyoming, which received more than a foot of snow Tuesday night and Wednesday morning!

 A Learning Vacation
There had been an article in the NY Times Travel section a few weeks ago, Professional Conferences Double as Vacation Venues2, which piqued my interest, as I love to learn.  But most of the photos were of Davosyoung things.  Except for one, showing people a bit older.  Turns out it was Christine Lagard, Managing Director of the IMF, and Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a bit above me.

There are several levels of membership: the basic level, which will get you one invitation to Davos, costs about $52,000. The ticket itself is another $19,000, plus tax, bringing the total cost of membership and entrance fee to $71,000.

A friend had already told me about TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design).  These are two of her favorite talks:


One of my College Algebra students pointed out this article about him in the college newspaper, Student’s winding road leads back home3, proud that he started off hopping freight trains at 13, later getting involved with a girl whose mom was selling speed to the Hells Angels, but now hopes his next realities include transferring to the University of Arizona and eventually earning a Ph.D.

My exercise class is a national thing:

The SilverSneakers® Fitness Program is an innovative health, exercise and wellness program helping older adults live healthy, active lifestyles.

Monday a group of Special Needs adults joined us, with their care staff.  Imagine a dozen people with Down’s Syndrome (actually only on man had Down’s Syndrome, but you get the idea) with varying abilities; some could follow instructions, some not.  Some had a range of motions, some not.  A few of us helped the aides.  Made us oldsters look like we could do anything.  Class went a bit slower today, but I’m so glad they’re out and trying.  They’ll join us once a month.





January 4, 2013

jan birds 002jan birds 003

A roadrunner on my deck with its feathers fluffed out.  Then it saw me and came to attention.  As soon as I went outside to ask for a photo op, it scooted out of the yard.  I checked my old posts, and it was way back in 2010 that I had a tamer roadrunner1.  And I wrote about the woman feeding a roadrunner bacon on the outdoor patio at the Catalina BBQ Co. & Sports Bar after a game of golf2 in 2011 but that happened back in 2003 or 2004 when I was building my present house, and after checking out the progress of the construction often went to the Sports Bar for lunch.

Was thinking of another event there involving a roadrunner.  One day I went for lunch and had my Airedale, Lucy, on a leash with me.  Attached her to a chair outside and went inside to order.  Stopped for a minute to talk to a friend; she was looking outside and asked Isn’t that your dog?  Lucy was dashing across the patio, dragging the metal chair.  I was told that a mother roadrunner had her nest next to the patio, and apparently she thought that my dog was infringing upon her space (and not proffering bacon).  Roadrunner can be nasty – they can kill rattlesnakes!

I remember having seen a similar scene in one of the Beethoven movies:

George brings home important clients for a barbecue and while George is inside Beethoven overhears the couple discussing how they are going to swindle George out of his company. While the couple are seated around a patio table, Beethoven, on a very long leash, encircles the pair. When a ball is thrown over a fence Beethoven chases after it, dragging the couple with him.

Anyway, my present roadrunner isn’t tame.

Taxes, Wall Street, and NASCAR

The 11th-hour deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff preserved billions of dollars in corporate tax giveaways even as it slashed take-home pay for millions of American workers.

nascarFor 2013 I and the other three instructors on our grant have had our hours of work at the college cut.  That combined with the loss of the payroll tax credit will cost me about $2K a year.  But hey, I’m glad that the Wall Street and those NASCAR guys got a break!

One of the more unusual tax benefits in the fiscal cliff legislation is a longstanding carve-out for racetracks used by NASCAR.

Since 2004, Congress has passed a series of stopgap measures that allow owners of motorsports complexes to accelerate their depreciation expenses. This means that owners can deduct more in expenses, reducing the taxes they must pay.

Supporters in Congress and industry groups have argued that the tax break is necessary to “maintain the current standard expected by our competitors and fans.” According to estimates by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the so-called NASCAR loophole will cost taxpayers $46 million this year and an additional $95 million through 2017. 3

Les Mis

Just saw the movie, Les Misérables.  Wish I had seen the musical when it was here in Tucson in 2005.  ‘Cuz when you’re watching the movie you’re picturing the scenes on a stage.  On the one hand, the movie dashed through the book (understandably, as the book is 1,488 pages), but on the other hand, at 2 hours and 37 minutes, the movie seemed very long.  Someone would start singing and it’d go on forever.  I was thinking, Come on let’s get on with the plot.  Guess I’m too used to those 90 minute popcorn films.

One reason to see the play rather than the movie is that with the play you’re far enough back not to see people’s teeth.  On a huge movie screen closeup, those stunning white teeth are startling.  If Jean Valjean was starved and beaten for nineteen years in prison, without even a toothbrush, there’s no way he’d have gorgeous teeth.  jackmanI was going to say that’s the problem with American actors – they all have beautiful teeth, but Hugh Jackman, who played Jean Valjean, is an Aussie.  For the first scene, when he is shown as a convict, he had…

barely eaten for 36 hours and hadn’t drunk anything, not even water, during this period.  Little wonder that [he] looked gaunt, with hollow cheeks and sunken eyes.

‘I’d already shed 20 pounds, through exercise and a very lean diet, before I embarked on that 36-hour period in which I drank nothing and ate very little and I knew I was pushing myself and my body to the limit.  But the non-consumption of liquids is a very clever bodybuilders’ trick for giving one sunken cheeks and sunken eyes and, boy, did it work. Maybe just a little too well…’

cosetteOk, he looked gaunt, but couldn’t they have blacked his teeth?  When I was working in Dublin, I remember a group of middle-aged, probably middle-class Irish going into a restaurant.  Their teeth were terrible!  And, of course, third world people tend to have bad or missing teeth.  When I was in the Peace Corps in Jamaica, thirty-five years ago, there was only one dentist in the whole parish.  He had no time for corrective work; he only pulled out bad teeth.

But I loved a lot of the singing.  I Dreamed a Dream, sung by Anne Hathaway5 was stupendous, rather like the only memorable song from Cats, Memory6.  Child actress Isabelle Allen plays the young Cosette and her voice is crystalline.  (She even looks like the 1862 illustration of Cosette from the book.)  les mis kidAnd I thought that 12-year-old Daniel Huttlestone who played the child-hero Gavroche sang beautifully!  Reminded me of the youngster in the Tucson Boys Chorus who performed as Oliver about forty years ago.

I also loved the choruses, especially Look Down, one of the best-known songs from the musical and repeated throughout, and Red and Black, sung by the students barricading the streets and fomenting revolution.

The June Rebellion was an unsuccessful, anti-monarchist insurrection of Parisian Republicans—led by student societies in June of 1832.

barricadesWhen I was in architecture school we studied Haussmann’s Renovation of Paris.  By demolishing many of the tenements of Paris, creating wide boulevards, Napoléon figured that barricades could no longer block access to his troops.

The Haussmann Plan was a modernization program of Paris commissioned by Napoléon III and led by Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, between 1853 and 1870. Haussmann’s boulevards established the foundation of what is today the popular representation of the French capital around the world, cutting through the old Paris of dense and irregular medieval alleyways into a more rationally-designed city with wide avenues and open spaces which extended outwards far beyond the old city limits. 7



November 25, 2012

Something crashed through the underbrush.  (Temperature around 80° so I’ve got the doors open to the screens, and can hear the desert.)  I went out to check, and four mule deer were out back, apparently having run from something, possibly those two coyotes that hang out under the mesquite tree, hoping to land the fawn for a variation in their diet.  The left one stood at attention for about half an hour.  The other three looked around as I talked to them.  (See the small antlers on the one in the back?)


A mockingbird at my birdbath.

Then the cat alerted me to another bird with the scratchy meow she uses to mention that there’s a bird outside.  Had to look around, but noticed a roadrunner on the spa deck.

(You can clink on any of these photos to enlarge them.)

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.

Tie-dyed Eggs

April 24, 2011

Spent the weekend in Phoenix with the grandkids.  My daughter had to work Saturday (she’s a nurse, which entails some weekends and holidays), so she assigned me to do the tie-dyed eggs with the kids.  And I do mean TIE-dyed, as with old ties. silk-dyed-eggs-aka-tie-dyed

She had gotten old ties at Goodwill and we cut them up and wrapped the eggs in the ties, then squares of an old pillowcase.  Next you boil them in water with a bit of vinegar, and voilà!  They turned out pretty well considering a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old did them.

(Have to give credit to my son-in-law for tending the baby, allowing me to do the creative, fun stuff.)

Of course, hunted for the eggs the next morning, and I fixed our family tradition – matzoh brei, for breakfast.  (As is my wont, I split before church.)


Spring Blooms

Beautiful jacaranda tree in bloom on Queen’s Creek Road (photo).  I10 was lined by palo verdes in bloom, and the texas rangers planted recently on I10 at the Orange Grove exit were blooming a deep purple.

The cat was happy to see me; as soon as I let her out she brought me a lizard.  (It was perfectly ok, so I let it go.)

One of the roadrunners was playing on the spiral staircase to my deck, bouncing up the stairs and sliding down the railing.  I bet if I tried, I could have him eating bacon out of my hand.

One day, when I was building this house, I went to the golf club for lunch.  On the patio, a woman at the next table took the bacon out of her BLT and fed it to a roadrunner.

So it isn’t just the Desert Museum who can train them.  (At the Museum roadrunners are part of the Raptor Free Flight Demonstrations that I reported on in February: Raptor Free Flight)

Oh my, the High!

March 15, 2011

(No, I’m not talking of desert hallucinogenics this time.)  Tomorrow the temperature is supposed to be 89°.  And we’re only halfway through March!  Contrast that to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  My Michigan friends who had visited a few weeks ago said that yesterday morning it was !  Ya gotta love the cold to spend winter in a cabin in the UP!

This Week’s Critters


A very large coyote slunk by my fence this morning.  I ran for the camera, but it had melted into the underbrush.  It’s amazing how stealthy it was.  Not a branch stirred, not a rock displaced.  The rabbit that had been there an hour before was long gone, and the fat quail had also disappeared.  The half dozen goldfinches, delighted that I added more Nyjer seed to the feeder, completely ignored the predator.


A large roadrunner has been hanging around recently, making that wind-up-toy whirring sound they make.  Yesterday morning it was hopping up the stone steps to my bedroom patio when my cat, apparently defending her territory, rushed down the spiral stairs from the deck.  Roadrunners can be pretty ferocious (they kill rattlesnakes), but discretion being the better part of valor, this one took flight (which they rarely do) and perched at the top of a nearby tree.  (Photo – mine from last year.)


Unfortunately, my cat brought in a small gopher snake last night, and when I found it she had bitten off the last 4” of its tail.  (The snake was only about 18” long.)  It looked dead, upside down, but when I put it in the rosemary it was moving its head about.  I hope that it lived.  This morning it was gone but I don’t know if it was taken by another predator.  (I was too sad about the snake to take a photo – I really like gopher snakes.  This one from the internet.)