Saturday, September 29, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I've been distracted from blogging by the wonderful fall weather! Apparently it's the weather that has brought on what can only be viewed as a phenomenon where I'm concerned..the urge to clean things! Only a month ago some will-of-the-wisp carried on that first autumnal breeze was whispering to me to be off..to go where the wild goose goes..(for all you youngins, a singer, Frankie Lane used to belt out a great song..My Heart Goes Where the Wild Goose Goes).
Now, I find myself in prepare for winter mode. Again, this is nothing I am thinking, it's just something I can't seem to help....washing windows and curtains etc. I can't help thinking of all of our Grandmothers who were driven to a frenzy of housekeeping twice a year, spring and fall.
As I scrubbed out the fridg, trying not to think too much about the unidentifiable contents of various zip lock bags, I remembered a good friend who used to clean the fridge for me.
Our friends moved away to Florida about thirty years ago, so this was when we were young and our children were small. K and D used to drive the eighty miles from Phoenix to spend weekends with us in the forested community of Groom Creek about six miles above Prescott in the Bradshaw Mountains. We usually stayed up late playing cards, talking and laughing a lot. The next morning, while the rest of us slept in, D. would rise at his normal, early hour, make coffee and clean my refrigerator. By the time we were all up, the inside of the fridge gleamed like the inside of the space shuttle and all the various jars and containers were lined up in orderly rows arranged by size. It was great, and I still appreciate it, and like my spurt of seasonal cleaning, he just couldn't help himself.
On the other hand, K was my kindred soul, cleaning only when she had to and giving what my Grandmother called a lick and a promise whenever possible. Once in his slow and ironic drawl, D. said, "I try to move every five years so K can have a clean oven."
On a complete change of subject, I saw an interesting bit about Mammoths (if you click this you have to put up with a commercial prior to the report) on Fox News. It seems about 25 mammoth skeletons were found near Waco Texas about thirty years ago. Apparently, a herd was trapped by mud beneath a cliff. The cliff collapsed on them trapping and killing them all. I mention it because the archaeologists investigating the site have come to the conclusion that the adults were in the process of attempting to lift the juveniles out of the mud when the collapse occurred. This is sad, but interesting to me because some 50 to 70 million years ago these great beast were doing their best to save their young. Again, I am struck by animal behavior that humans can readily relate to.
Monday, September 24, 2007
I was going through my old pix and realized I'd never posted these of the girls feeding the big carp at Katherine's Landing just below Hoover Dam on the Colorado River.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Picture this: A proud little rooster, a Mille Fluer bantam, stands on a garden path, his head high as he watches over his hens as foraging in the dark green ivy and the furry gray leaves of lambs ears. The sun glints on his lovely red gold feathers bringing out their coppery highlights. His tail arches high, blue-black and shimmering with iridescence.
I can't find that picture! I spent a good portion of the day yesterday going through my folders of pix and can only come to the conclusion that I accidentally deleted it somewhere along the way. I have backed up a lot of my pix, but those are mostly of family and the rooster fell through the cracks and into cyberspace!
Too late now! I am primed to talk about chickens.
For the most part the bantam chickens stay in the back of the house on the lower level, so I do watch them, but it was when Little Sir Galahad decided to bring his harem of five lovely hens into my garden last summer that I got an inkling of their complex social behavior.
Here, I have to tell you that we have too many roosters. The Mille Fluers learn to fly early on and since they more or less run wild in the back and roost in the Juniper Tree, they are hard to cull out. So, too many roosters. Even watching casually, I can see the difference in roosters is marked by the number of hens they are able to attract. Some of them form gangs prowling about, vying for any hen that might appear loose. Many form an alliance with one or two hens and they go about as pairs or a trio. But, Little Sir Galahad, well Galahad manged to attract and maintain the devotion of five lovely young pullets.
When Galahad and the girls first started appearing in my little garden, I was delighted because my garden was over run with snails. I started tossing them bits from my breakfast and was soon taking out extra bread to entice them to stay. As soon as the first tidbit hit the patio, Galahad would run over and pick it up, and then drop it, clucking excitedly. The hens would come running in and start gobbling. Only when they were surrounded by enough pieces of bread to keep all the hens busy would Galahad eat a piece himself, and then he performed a ritual of picking it up and dropping it, offering it to his hens and having it rejected exactly three times. The fourth time he picked it up, he would eat it himself!
I have seen other roosters dash in, deliver a hard peck to a little hen and snatch a tidbit from under her nose. These bully-boy roosters never form attachments to any hen. Hens seem to look for the same things their human counterparts seek in their mates, kindness and consideration as well as someone who will look after their best interests and provide as well as possible for them.
Galahad spent a good deal of his time looking for spots that would make appropriate nesting places for his ladies. I would see a violent heaving of the silver lace vine, and suddenly his head would pop out from the trembling depths, usually quite high up in the vine and he would commence making the exact cackle a hen makes when she lays an egg. Proud and excited, he would summon his wives to this fine nesting place. They would approach, ascertain at once that while this might be an excellent nesting place for birds, it would never do for chickens. They would stand around for a few moments gazing pityingly up at him and then wander off in search of a snail or two.
One of the places Galahad thought would make an excellent nesting place was a planter of petunias I had placed near the patio. I had put an autumn sage in the middle of a large, shallow planter and surrounded it with petunias. For days, he would fly up into the planter and start making the lets-lay-an-egg cackle. Gently, I would shoo him out and send him on his way. I placed small sharp rocks among the petunias to discourage him, but one day I returned from shopping, took my iced tea out to the patio and found petunias and rocks scratched out onto the ground and on either side of the autumn sage, a little hollow and in each hollow, a little egg. Galahad had convinced two of his ladies to lay there!
E. brought a couple of little nest boxes up from the back and placed them in strategic places, and sure enough, a couple of the hens started using them. It was while one of these young hens was off her clutch of eggs that I noticed some interesting behavior. She was sunning herself in some sand at the side of the house, singing a little, spreading her wings and dusting herself about, just enjoying the sunshine, all common chicken behavior. Then I noticed that occasionally she would jump up, go over to a grassy place, and scratch busily about, all the while clucking in the way Galahad clucked to summon his hens to food, before returning to her sunny spot. She did this repeatedly. For a moment I was puzzled. There were no other chickens about, and moreover, she didn't appear to be eating anything herself. Then I realized that the young hen who had never before raised a brood, was practicing calling her chicks to feed. I found this immensely endearing.
How like her I was when my first son was born. As an only child, I had absolutely no knowledge of, or experience with babies. Like her, I wanted desperately to be a good mother, to do the right things in the right way, and I prepared for motherhood in the best ways I could.
Sadly, (for me) Galahad chose our renter Tigger's yard over mine this year and his two remaining wives hatched out their chicks there. Worse, a fickle three of his wives were enticed to run off with another gallant young fellow.
"How could they!" I exclaimed indignantly to Eeyore.
I had thought I might get another pic of Galahad this morning, but it's raining. I can't complain about that!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
This is the You Make Me Smile Award and the creator of this award has this to say:
The thing that I love most about blogging is that I learn so much about a person just by reading his/her blog. I have met MANY wonderful people with wonderful stories to tell and I am grateful every day for each person whom I have the pleasure of crossing paths in life with. I wanted to create something special for the top ten people who have inspired me through their blogging; the stories they tell, and the lives that they lead with grace and dignity. I visit their blogs for inspiration and encouragement. Although there are MANY people I want to give this award to at this very moment, I am going to choose ten bloggers:Please grab your badge and wear it(with a smile) proudly, and pass it on because you inspire and encourage me, thank you.
Well, I am just jazzed to get this blogger award from Joni at My Piece of Heaven. Frankly, I was so tickled that I thought of Sally Field clasping her Oscar and babbling, "You like me! You really like me!"
But I read enough blogs to know that awards. while deeply appreciated by all recipients, are supposed to be received calmly, with a degree of maturity and a modicum of dignity, So thank you very much, Joni.
In turn I have the difficult task of selecting ten from the many bloggers who, on a daily basis, light up my face with a smile. So I choose:
Monday, September 17, 2007
Eeyore's been prowling about his tiny meadow with the camera and got a terrific shot of this guy! When he was growing up, he heard these insects called Fly Hawks as they can zoom through the air and capture a fly on the fly.....ahh....in midair.
They are more commonly known as Robber Flies and they love to eat flies as well as other insects. I, for one, am grateful to them for in any way reducing the population of those nasty, and annoying scavengers!
What's that bug has an assortment of assassin insects. Strange looking fellows indeed!
I do hope you click on this to get the full impact of his wonderful, furry, mask like face!
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
If anyone has missed Granny J's amazing Tuesday Sept. 11, post of the horned lizard giving birth, pop over to Walking Prescott. I knew that our local horny toads gave live birth, but to see it is awesome!
I've added a link in my favorite places. The photography of Abe Lincoln at My Birds Blog is unexcelled and his commentary is interesting and informative.
Joni at My Piece of Heaven has tagged me with two memes. I'll respond tomorrow........
Yesterday, Eeyore and I were having breakfast outside. We had just remarked on the clear, rain washed air, when we noticed a dirty smudge among the meringue-like clouds blowing up from the South. At first we thought it was a Forest Fire, but it turned out to be a controlled burn.
Controlled burns are an evil we must periodically endure. The Forest Service burns off dry brush and dead limbs etc. to eliminate fuel for any real forest fire in the future. We drove out Iron Springs road to get a better look.
Seen from the steep road leading up to the mountainous community of Highland Pines, the smoke didn't look like much...
and we saw it was heading right down town. Prescott lies in a basin just on the other side of our most notable landmark, Thumb Butte. T.B. juts up in the center of this picture, and the town is to the far left T.B, where the smoke has just started to settle. Many people complain bitterly when this happens, as it usually does what with the town lying in a hollow.That was yesterday, and today..well...
today has dawned bright and clear, and the sky is an unbroken blue..
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
On the sixth day of our journey we broke camp and set off down river. Occasionally, mountain sheep watched, calmly indifferent to our passage. This ram had magnificent horns.
Around noon, we beached at Phantom Ranch. The narrow bridge high above the river is for the mules that bring people down from the south rim of the canyon. I saw a train of them pass overhead to disappear into the cliff face.
At first sight, Phantom Ranch confirmed the worst. Here, the flag flew at half mast. It was here, days after the unprecedented attack upon Americans on American soil, that we numbly listened to the unthinkable, four planes..the twin towers.....the pentagon....thousands dead.......
Monday, September 10, 2007
Rafting the Colorado through the Grand Canyon is, if nothing else, a way of defining who you are... a way of intuiting some sort of sense of yourself as you exist in the interconnected Universe.
The sheer power of the river and the evidence of it's timeless trajectory is overwhelming, and cannot bring, to a contemplative soul, less than a sense of abject humility coupled with an exultation at simply existing...in this time..in this place..in the now of life.
In a way, the river itself is like life, miles of peaceful meandering existence, broken by turbulent passages that must be traversed with care if one is to emerge unscathed.
Redwall Cavern didn't look like much as we rounded a bend of peaceful, green water, but it has been calculated to hold as many as four thousand people. It can also hold thirty fun loving people.
I love this picture because it illustrates not only the fun of being one of those silhouettes, but the enormity of the relentless passage of the river as it rounds a bend, seeking the most accommodating route to the sea. Oh sure, man has had his way with this river in the last seventy-five (and I'm being generous here) years, but in the eons prior to that, the river ruled. Just look at those canyon walls ...
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Sometimes you're up....
Here, E. kindly demonstrates the sensation of going down after you've been up...
you really need to click this one...
Sometimes, you're just..all under..
E., of course, told me. That night, as we lay in the utter blackness of the vast, silent canyon, looking up into the star bright sky, I reached across the gap that separated our cots.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
On September 9, 2001, Eeyore and I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. We met and joined a company of extraordinary people for a thirteen day rafting trip down the Colorado River, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
This is our group taken down river after a good deal of bonding had taken place. I don't remember which falls this is. I think it must be Deer Creek Falls. If I'm wrong, anyone out there, don't hesitate to correct me. I am the one on the far right in the green hat. E. is the one in the red shirt with the cute chick's arm around him. As you see we're among the oldest members of the group. Regrettably, these pix were not digital, in fact some were taken with one of those disposable waterproof cameras, but you can stillclick to enlarge them a bit.
This stretch of river is a clear, emerald green and icy cold as it has been released from the depths of Lake Powell at Glen Canyon Dam. Our quiet, competent river guides ferried us downstream, the only sound the slip of oars through water as we each became lost to anything but contemplation of the powerful river and the sheer canyon walls rising on either side.
We woke to a day that will live in infamy. But, of course, we didn't know it then..
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
This Moss Rose or Portulaca is much smaller than a real rose, but to my mind, viewed in this perspective, it's just as beautiful as any wild rose anywhere. I just wish I'd thought like a photographer and removed the brown, spent blossoms in the lower corner..
One time, I put a minuscule flower under the low power microscope. The flower was from a common plant here, a very small, lacy member of the Euphorbia family that spreads across the ground in the summer. The flowers look like tiny white dots, but when brought close to the eye, they have distinct petals so I decided to take a look.
Under the microscope that insignificant flower looks like the most lush orchid in the world! The petals appear fleshy, white and sparkling. the stamens rise from the center of the flower, a dramatic plum color tipped with perfect little hearts. It is one of most beautiful flowers I've ever seen.
I'll never forget that moment! Nor will I casually dismiss anyone or anything as insignificant again!
Saturday, September 1, 2007
This guy was interesting because he had spent his jail time raking dirt into the trap to make a cozy home for himself. Then he was reluctant leave. Brave E. gave him a prod with a little stick... then he was going..............