Prickly Pear

Prickly Pear Cacti are members of the Opuntia genus. There are over 90 species of Opuntia in the United States. They are flat-stemmed spiny cacti with edible fruit.

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There is a large patch of Prickly Pears in the lot next to ours. Then one day, there was one tiny prickly pear in our yard. It was only an inch or two high. So I carefully outlined it with a ring of rocks and encouraged it to grow. In just a year, it had grown to a healthy 8 inch tall plant.

When a weed dared to grow next to my prickly pear, I carefully reached in (with leather gloves on) and as I plucked out the weed, I felt one ever so little prick on my finger. I took my glove off and there wasn’t any blood – not even a red mark.

Five minutes later, my finger started to hurt. I went into the house, washed the area well, and inspected it under a magnifying glass to make sure there was not a small prickle stuck in me. Nothing. Then my finger started to swell.

I’ve been gardening here in Arizona for 7 years. I’ve been ‘poked’ by all sorts of cactus. Agaves are the worst for drawing blood. But never before has a prickle caused as much discomfort as the prickly pear did.

There are no prickly pears in my yard any more…

What is the most dangerous plant in your yard?

Spines, Scales and Rocks

Arizona in April – this is what is happening in my back yard:

Arizona

I think this is a Claret Cup Cactus. If it isn’t, it should be because it seems like an appropriate name for it… Wicked thorns though…

How I like claret!…It fills one’s mouth with a gushing freshness, then goes down to cool and feverless; then, you do not feel it quarrelling with one’s liver. No; ’tis rather a peace-maker, and lies as quiet as it did in the grape. Then it is as fragrant as the Queen Bee, and the more ethereal part mounts into the brain, not assaulting the cerebral apartments, like a bully looking for his trull, and hurrying from door to door, bouncing against the wainscott, but rather walks like Aladdin about his enchanted palace, so gently that you do not feel his step.
– John Keats –

Arizona

The Side-blotched Lizard: If you look just behind the top of the front leg, you’ll see a long dark splotch – that is how this lizard got it’s name. These little lizards (4-6 inches or 10-15 cm in length including tail) are numerous, but easily overlooked because of their small size. They blend in well with the rocks and gravel, but are actually quite colorful when seen up close.

Arizona

The male Side-blotched lizard often has bright turquoise blue speckling on the tail, back, and upper surfaces of the hind limbs

Arizona

My yard is covered in a layer of gravel. The previous owner was big on ‘dry-creek bed’ features, so I have a lot of rocks that range in size from ‘pick up and carry around in your pocket’ size to ‘too heavy for me to lift’ size. I’ve been picking out oval shape flat rocks to build a ‘bed of rock daisies’.

Be a little boulder.
– Author Unknown –

Are you a ‘rock hound’? If you have rocks in your yard, are they an important part of the landscape or an inconvenience?

Arizona Wild Flowers

Spring Wild Flowers in and near McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Arizona. The challenge in taking these photos was that I only had a camera with a zoom lens and it was a breezy day. In essence, I was trying to hold the camera still while zooming in on a moving target… while watching for snakes…

Arizona
McDowell Mountain Regional Park – Mexican Gold Poppies

McDowell Mountain Park is located northeast of Phoenix, Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. Elevations in the park rise to 3,000 feet along the western boundary at the base of the McDowell Mountains.

Arizona
Mexican Gold Poppy

Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana – California Poppy or Mexican Gold Poppy
Golden Yellow to Orange – four petal flowers with finely dissected bluish green leaves.

Arizona
Coulter’s Lupine

Lupinus sparsiflorus – Coulter’s Lupine
An Annual with violet blue pea-like flowers that spiral – hairy, upright flower spikes. The leaves are green and narrow.

Arizona
Indian Paintbrush or Purple Owl’s Clover

Arizona

Castilleja exserta – Exserted Indian Paintbrush or Purple Owl’s Clover
An Annual with magenta flowers that have a narrow, hairy, beak-like upper lip and a broader lower lip with 3 yellow-tipped pouches.

Arizona
Brittlebush

Encelia farinosa – Brittlebush
A Perennial, Deciduous shrub with yellow flowers in branched clusters. The leaves are alternate, woolly, grayish in color, and oval to triangle-shaped. Brittlebush is valuable for rehabilitating low maintenance landscapes, critical stabilization areas, and disturbed areas such as those that have been burned.

Arizona
Gordon’s Bladderpod

Lesquerella gordonii – Gordon’s Bladderpod
In rainy years, this spring wildflower can carpet the ground with yellow flowers. The flowers have 4 rounded petals. The leaves are grayish green and covered with fuzzy hair.

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.
– Milton Friedman –

Let me tell you something that we Israelis have against Moses. He took us 40 years through the desert in order to bring us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil!
– Golda Meir –

I bought a cactus. A week later it died. And I got depressed, because I thought, Damn. I am less nurturing than a desert.
– Demetri Martin –

Mildly Amusing Missives #5

The Lighter Side of Arts, Crafts and Leisure Activities

I’m a ‘jack of all trades’ in the crafts department. I’ve never stuck with anything long enough to get really good at it… except for collecting quotes. Here are the ones about Arts and Crafts.

On the Crafts front, I’ve been collecting red Tim’s Iced Capp straws (so I can keep them out of where ever discarded straws go in my prairie province.) I wasn’t sure what to make out of them until I saw this sculpture by the artist David Moreno who makes these out of steel rods. I think I could use my red straws for a project like this – I have just about enough straws for the house on the far left…

In some Future Time or State

I believe in the hereafter.
Every time I walk into a room, I ask, “What am I here after?”
Andrew’s View of the Week

Grapefruit and the Post Office

We have a grapefruit tree at the Arizona house. Sometimes the fruit is oddly shaped, but it is delicious. I am more than optimistic that there will be enough fruit to last me until we go home, in addition to the fruit we will take to the post office every few days. No, we don’t mail it. Our post office simply has a box on a bench near the door where people share their fruit harvest.

Our post office also has an ‘alpha box’. This is a series of ‘pigeon holes’, each with a letter of the alphabet on it. You can ‘mail’ letters to anyone in our community (without buying postage) by putting them in the appropriate alpha box.

A Great Horned Owl on the Fence

It is impossible to not be optimistic about life when a Great Horned Owl sits on your fence.

He respects Owl, because you can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right.
– A. A. Milne –

How to Know When a Politician is Out of Touch

Catherine McKenna is Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change. She was lamenting about the cold. She had apparently not noticed how cold Canada gets every winter.

What examples have you heard where politicians in your community appear to have lost touch with common sense?

One Thing Leads to Another – Telemarketers

We are kind of like this dog when it comes to our home phone. Even though we know that 99% of the time a ringing home phone is a telemarketer, we still go over to the phone to check the call display!

Apparently, the best way to get a telemarketer to stop calling you is to say: “Please put me on your do not call list.” Don’t give them any other information. Don’t engage with them. Don’t get upset.

One of my daughters used to respond to telemarketers by immediately putting her Small Child on the phone. Small Child was always full of questions and observations. Telemarketers with heavy foreign accents were easy prey for a boy without much of a filter between his young brain and his mouth.

Arizona Snow Yesterday and Today

North of Fountain Hills

Yesterday (Friday, February 22, 2019): Our Arizona back yard (north of Fountain Hills). Heavy wet snow caused quite a bit of damage to trees in our area.

North of Fountain Hills

Today (Saturday, February 23): View from our roof top patio – The Foothills just north of us.

I’m not going to complain about the cold weather and snow we’ve had here this month. It is vastly warmer than our northern home in Alberta. We are, however, flying back to Alberta for a few weeks to attend a few family events. It is still pretty cold there, but the upside is Alberta home heating systems are vastly superior! I won’t need to be sitting in my chair with a couple blankets and a heating pad, waiting for the furnace to take the chill off the room!

What has your winter been like this year?