Sunday, July 29, 2007

Nighttime Hummers

Gee, it's been quite awhile since I posted!

I've been, of course, singing in the rain! And I've been reading like mad-books that I put on hold at the library only to have six come in all at once, enjoying the few days left to me of my Granddaughters summer vacation, trying, to no avail, to get a picture of the Acorn Woodpecker's baby peeking out of his nest on the underside of a long dead Ponderosa Pine branch, and planting and transplanting in my little garden while we are blessed with rain and there is humidity in the air to help plants get a start in our granite based soil.

The other day,
Omegamom mentioned watching hummingbird moths close to her home. I, too, have always been enamoured of these huge moths that appear in the evening to hover, wings moving as rapidly as real hummingbirds, around the sweetest smelling flowers in the garden. I found that they are officially called Hawkmoths and I ran across this old illustration of the various types.

Sadly, I only recently learned that one larva of these lovely moths is the horned tomato worm,and regret having killed many of these tomato and tomato vine munchers in the name of gardening. Had I known in those days, I could easily have allotted a plant or two to their use.

There have always been a few hawkmoths hovering about the flowers in my garden as the summer twilight deepens to night, but this year I have seen only one. Next year there may be none.

I found this
site that tells about our most common hawkmoth and the Datura it feeds upon. Datura is in the deadly nightshade family as are tomato and potato plants. It has huge, white, night blooming flowers that fill the air with heady fragrence. Like tomato and potato plants, the Datura plant is poisonous and Datura seeds are a powerful and dangerous hallucinogen . It's also called Jimson weed in the west and I think it must have been a city fella who wrote that old Sons of the Pioneers song claiming the lonely cattle feed on the lowly Jimson weed.

Datura flowers were a favorite subject of the American artist Georgia O'Keeffe. Here are a couple of her paintings.

This is the last week we get to play with our girls. They are back in school the sixth and seventh of August................

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Salt Crystal Lamp

We had one glorious day of rain! Each day since, promising piles of thunderheads have sailed in from the Southeast, but they have no flotilla following. Instead they drag behind them, like a raggedy bridal train, a thin cloud cover reminiscent of dingy, cotton batting. Occasionally, a few spectacularly large drops fall and we threaten to measure our rainfall in the time honored Arizona way, by measuring the distance between droplets.

But it did rain! And there's a cool breeze blowing in the evening, the trees and plants are perkier, and optimist that I am, I know there will be more. It's rained all around us so our turn will come up again. Won't it?

I had a birthday last week and my Mom, the Wise Old Owl gave me an interesting gift.

This is a salt crystal lamp made from salt formed hundreds of millions of years ago at the foothills of the Himalayas, when salt lakes dried up. The red coloration comes from iron and the yellow from manganese. My lamp is about eleven inches high and made from a rough piece of salt crystal, but they can and do carve and polish the salt crystal into shapes as well.

The salt crystal is said to absorb moisture from the air and the warmth of the light bulb causes a release of the moisture along with negative ions. The atmosphere around waterfalls and after thundershowers is filled with negative ions, and many people feel they are healthful.

Be that as it may, this is a pretty lamp, and Roo is going to love having it as a nightlight when she spends the night with me.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Waiting For Rain

It's a perfectly clear day. The sky is brilliant blue. It is about 10:00 a.m. A moderate wind starts to blow and huge piles of thunderheads build in the Southeastern sky. They have gray bottoms that, although flat, are heavy with moisture. They flash with lightening and grumble with thunder as they sail majestically forward, the vanguard for a flotilla of numberless followers. Piles upon piles, they collect to form a solid gray mass over head. Then the whole mass seems to sink, carried earthward by the sheer weight of its precious cargo. The air is redolent of ozone. The world holds it's breath.
(It's at this point I used to lead my befeathered and jingle belled children outside to do a rain dance. Until they started school, they thought we made it rain.)

About 1:00p.m., the clouds would give birth to a few huge raindrops and then immediately open entirely to spill pitchers, buckets, truckloads of water. Cooool, cleaaar, waater..... After an hour or two of this beneficence, they would gather their sails about them and scud speedily off into the Western sky leaving clear skies and fresh clean air in their wake.
One time I was loping home on my old horse trying to beat the rain. We were within a stone's throw of the driveway, the barn, the hay...... when the sky opened. He whirled around, put his back to the driving storm and nothing I could do would budge him until the rain lightened up. Only then did we make our sodden way to the barn. I still miss him anyway.

So much for memories, real or glorified. This is now, and we are waiting for rain. I've been trying to catch some birds at the fountain and bird bath with little luck and my pix aren't the greatest, but here they are.

This Lesser Goldfinch believes in Ladies First.

After his turn....Ah! That's better!

A male House Finch.

A little lady Lesser Goldfinch.

The bigger birds seem to prefer the birdbath, and although I filled it at dusk last night, there was a scant half inch or less at 7a.m. when this Tohee came along.We used to call this guy a Rufus Sided Tohee, but I think he's now classified as a Spotted Tohee.
He got into the scant bit of water and just sat awhile, not even making bathing motions. The little L. Goldfinch was doing the same in the fountain.

When this lonely Mourning Dove slipped in right after the Tohee left, she had even less water. She drank some anyway, poor thing. I did spray out and fill the birdbath before coming in the house, but at 3:30p.m., it undoubtedly needs it again. I'd better go do that.

Monday, July 9, 2007

How Full is My Glass?

Katie at Loosely Speaking tagged me with this meme.

Questions and answers:

  1. How full is your glass? My glass is empty at the moment. Or is it?
  • What kind of glass is it? It's a molded heavy glass/cup.
  • What's in the glass? There's nothing in my glass right now, at least nothing visible to the eye.
  • Reasons for #1., #2., and #3.
  • This glass cup is one of a set I bought to use for Irish Coffee. They were a bit larger than the glass cups I was looking for, but I thought they would do. This cup can be used for either hot or cold drinks.

    Since I bought it, this cup/glass has held hot drinks; Irish Coffee, rich hot chocolate topped with whipped cream, mulled cider to be stirred with a cinnamon stick. These drinks have been savored while in the quiet company of family and friends. They have warmed us as we sat, cozy before the fire, listening to the winter wind run sly, exploratory fingers about the exterior walls of our old house searching for the tiniest vulneribility in walls or chimney.

    They have been filed with cold, fruity smoothies, root beer floats, and versions of old fashioned phosphates complete with long handled spoons and straws to be sipped by little girls as they played board games, watched movies, or just sat outside, chatting and laughing in light, lilting, voices as the summer twilight deepened.about them.

    I have served plain coffee or tea in these cups when I wanted the moment to feel a little special.

    One of the things I like about this empty cup is that just looking at it conjures up happy memories of the times it was full.

    And, if I am lured by some pretty magazine picture to try a new drink recipe, my cup will accommodate whatever it happens to be. It is versatile and adaptable, always open to something new. It may look empty to the casual observer, but my glass/cup is full to the brim with bottomless possibility.

    Granny J at Walking Prescott has just done her version of this meme, and a clever one it is too!

    She has reminded those of us who do this meme to refer back to Starbucker who originated it. Sorry Starbuck! I should have had the good manners to do that in the first place!

    I am going to pass it on to a chosen five a little later when summer simmers down a bit.

    Tuesday, July 3, 2007

    Monday, July 2, 2007

    Eight things about solb

    " Eeyore, Granny J of Walking Prescott has tagged me to reveal eight fascinating facts about myself," I exclaim in some panic. "Please help me! What on earth is fascinating about me?"

    E looks thoughtful. "Well......," he says. "Well, there are many fascinating things about you."

    "Thank goodness," I cry, " hands poised above the keyboard. "What's the first one?"

    Silence ensues. I turn to look at him. His eyes slide sideways. A bad sign. I read detective novels, and I know these things. He turns from me then, apparently riveted by something outside the window. My hands fall from the keyboard. I wait with diminishing hope.

    Suddenly, Eeyore whirls around, looks deep into my eyes and says in the deep, intimate voice he used when courting me over forty years ago, "I find everything about you fascinating!"

    Whew! I watch him saunter from the room, and I am so pleasantly overwhelmed by the moment that I pretended not to hear the little chuckle that drifts back as he departs down the hall.

    So, I'm on my own. First the rules:

    1. Each participant posts eight facts about themselves.
    2. Tagees should write a blog post of eight random facts about themselves.
    3. At the end of the post eight more bloggers are tagged.
    4. Go to their blogs. Leave a comment telling them they're tagged.

    OK, prepare to be fascinated:

    1. In 1938 some misguided Physician prematurely induced my Mom's labor so I presented as a breech birth, my right leg had to be broken to extract me, and I went home with the broken leg strapped to a little board.

    2. I appeared in the newspaper version of Ripley's Believe It Or Not as an infant who could whistle. I personally think I pursed my lips and sucked in sharply as in, boy does that leg hurt and that caused the little whistling noise.
    3. At five years of age, I began to have severe asthma attacks, and because I was pronounced allergic to animal dander, my beloved Veterinary Grandfather had to shower and change his clothing before he could visit me.
    4. In 1947, a move to Prescott, Arizona, then known far and wide as a Mecca for those with breathing problems, was the miracle that allowed me to live a normal life. Thanks Mom.
    5. I was Prescott's first Medical Assistant. I attended school in Phoenix, and in 1969, with a bare modicum of instruction, we did it all. We took and developed x-rays, gave injections, drew blood, did ekgs, etc. Now each seems to be a specialized field.

    6. My Heroes have always been cowboys.

    7. I rarely drink anything but water or black coffee. No reason. That's just what I like.

    8. Although I learned to read at age three, I have never been able to learn to spell. I plan to do a post on this sad affliction one of these days.

    And the tagees are..........

    That's only five, I know, but these five are fascinating enough for eight or even ten other people.

    Sunday, July 1, 2007

    Home Economics 101

    My three youngest granddaughters, Piglet, Mu, and Roo arrived to spend Thursday and Friday with me as they did last week and will do every week until school starts.
    We shopped for fabric and sewed two skirts and a dress from pretty prints that had elasticized waistbands for the older girls and an entire elasticized bodice for a dress for Roo. These materials , with the elastic presewn, made great projects for them. We were finished in less than two hours and it was off to the library dressed in the new finery. I'm sorry, I forgot to take pictures!

    We returned home to find the AC had failed. It was hot and getting hotter. The girls drooped, spread their new skirts like limp petals across the furniture, and languidly spooned up ice cream as I read Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott aloud. I was inspired by
    Rowan's beautiful posting of the romantic poem to share it with the girls.

    Wisely, the girls opted to return to their own cool homes while E and I did our best to remain absolutely motionless (we found we have quite a talent tor this) until Saturday morning when our son-in-law helped E find and fix the AC problem. Thank you Gene!

    I spent Saturday sorting some mostly over ripe plums that had been given to Owl and turning the good ones into jelly and plum butter. In need of a reward for good behavior, I sat down to see what had been happening in the world of Internet to find I've been tagged. Twice.

    Granny J and Katie. I'm giving it some serious thought!