Devil’s Tongue Cactus Flowers

Devil’s Tongue Flowers

As Second Spring approaches the desert, my Devil’s Tongue Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus latispinus) is flowering again. This is the barrel cactus that started out in my California cactus garden and was transplanted to Arizona a little over three years ago. Judging from the number of flower buds, I’d say the cactus likes it here in Wickenburg. Click on the image to enlarge.

From How Stuff Works:

Ferocactus latispinus (devil’s tongue cactus) gets its name from its long, broad, red-colored spines. Another with a flattened, red, central spine is Ferocactus recurvus (devil’s pincushion). These cacti are easy to grow and can get quite large eventually. They like bright light, heavy soil with excellent drainage, house temperatures and good air circulation.

In Mexico, the skin and spines are peeled off and the flesh is diced to be eaten raw or candied. They also provide an emergency source of water in the desert — you slice off the top of the plant, stir the pulp with a stick and drink the sap.

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A Frog in Congress

Frog

Yesterday, Damsel and I hauled some canned goods up to Yarnell for the food bank there. We read in the on-line edition of the local newspaper that the food banks there were experiencing a shortage of non-perishable food, so we decided to head up there and drop off our collection of goods that have accumulated here one or two cans per grocery store visit for the express purpose of helping out those less fortunate.

As for the frog, the story goes back to the early 20th century when Sara Perkins, a resident of the area near Congress, AZ, decided to make a frog-shaped rock formation look more like a frog:

Originally, it was nothing more than a huge boulder perched on a hillside amid several other large rocks. Then along came Sara Perkins, a homesteader’s wife who observed that this particular rock, when viewed from the proper angle, resembled a frog.

She told her husband, Eli, about it, but he wasn’t as much of a visionary as his wife, so the story goes. He was also very busy with his work as a newspaperman - at various times, he owned both The Phoenix Gazette and The Wickenburg Sun - and as a state legislator. But he did suggest that a paint job would make the rock look more like a frog. His wife and their two sons hauled three large cans of paint and a ladder up the steep incline, and within weeks:

Voila! A rock became a frog.

[more]

Image courtesy of Damsel’s camera. Click on the image to enlarge.

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National Dog Day

The Dog Park

We didn’t know it when we took Beethoven and Cabela to the Wickenburg Dog Park today, but today is National Dog Day. I discovered that it was dog day while browsing the book of face after we got home.

The dogs really enjoy running around the dog park. They don’t generally get off their leashes when outside, but they run around sniffing everything and, as usual, give us an opportunity to clean up after them. Today, they enjoyed it so much that they took an extra lap around the park perimeter and didn’t seem to want to get on their leashes until after that.

After I discovered it was National Dog Day, I searched for it on the internet and found Holiday Insights:

National Dog Day has two goals: to honor dogs, and to rescue dogs from homelessness and abuse. It’s an opportunity for us to recognize and appreciate the value and importance of dogs in our lives.

This day is intended to honor dogs for all that they do for us. In addition to giving love and companionship, dogs help us out in countless ways. They are watchdogs for our safety. They lead the blind. Dogs aid in search and rescue, and they seek out bombs and drugs.

The second goal of National Dog Day is to rescue dogs in need. On occasion, dogs need us to save them from homelesness and abuse. The goal of the National Dog Day foundation is to rescue 10,000 dogs a year. Lend a hand to help a dog in need today, or any day.

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A Solar Optics Rainbow Cloud

Rainbow Cloud

Earlier today, I saw this cloud in the sky to the south that was lit up like a rainbow from the glancing rays of sunlight. It was an amazing little puff of rainbow color floating high in the sky. I grabbed my camera and got this image. Click on the image to enlarge.

From EarthSky:

These colorful clouds are called iridescent clouds, and the phenomenon is called cloud iridescence or irisation. The term comes from Iris, the Greek personification of the rainbow. It’s similar to the colors you might see when oil lies on the surface of a puddle of water. When you see a cloud like this, you know there are especially tiny ice crystals or water droplets in the air. Larger ice crystals produce solar or lunar halos, but tiny ice crystals or water droplets cause light to be diffracted – spread out – creating this rainbow-like effect in the clouds.

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Observing ISS Passes Overhead

ISS

For the last couple of days, we have been getting overhead passes of the International Space Station suitable for observing at dusk or a little after. The satellite tracker from SpaceWeather.com allows us to input a zip code and it will return a listing of satellite passes observable from the location selected. The tracker has the option of selecting a subset of satellites and in our case, we selected passes from the ISS since they are usually more dramatic and bright as compared to most other orbiting objects.

Last night and tonight, we had very good passes and, weather permitting, we should have two more, tomorrow and Monday evening observable overflights. In the image above, I halfheartedly snapped a photo of Friday night’s pass of the ISS and damned if it didn’t show up when I downloaded it to the computer. Click on the image to enlarge.

UPDATE (08/24/2014): Damsel and I went out again this evening to see the overflight of the ISS. We saw it, alright, but the display of stars and the Milky Way dominated the night sky. As the ISS flew from west-northwest toward the southeast, it encountered Arcturus, the constellation Scorpio and then winked out across the terminator as it entered the Milky Way. What a spectacle! We love our dark desert skies!

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Red Bird of Paradise

Red Bird of Paradise

While working in the courtyard today, I took the time to photograph a cluster of Red Bird of Paradise flowers. Also known as The Pride of Barbados, these shrubs are now in the peak of flowering season and completely dominate the courtyard with their fiery colors. Click on the image to enlarge.

More from Wikipedia:

Caesalpinia pulcherrima is a species of flowering plant in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas. It could be native to the West Indies, but its exact origin is unknown due to widespread cultivation. Common names for this species include Poinciana, Peacock Flower, Red Bird of Paradise, Dwarf Poinciana, Pride of Barbados, and flamboyan-de-jardin.

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Pink Daisies

Pink Daisies

I couldn’t find any of my favorite flowers this week when we went shopping, so I settled for a bouquet of assorted flowers composed by the flower concession in the supermarket today. There were a couple of Gerbera daisies, some other miscellaneous flowers and this conglomeration of tiny pink daisies, along with some greens to complete the bouquet.

Normally, I like to compose my own flower arrangements, but the selection of flowers today precluded that option. Click on the image to enlarge.

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New Tag Arrived Today

Tailgate

When I traded the old truck in for the new one, I removed my personalized license plates and set them aside until the MVD sent me the new tag to affix to the rear plate. Well, when I checked the PO Box today, the registration and tag were in the mail.

When I got home, I removed the temporary tags and installed my personalized plate with a new chrome frame. No front plate this time, since it would block the intake of the new truck. Arizona is one of those states where a front license plate is optional. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Cereus Cactus Flower

Cereus Cactus Flower

The last time I had one of these open, I completely missed the opportunity to photograph it. By the time I noticed the flower stalk, the bloom had come and gone. They only last up to late morning after opening during the night. I was lucky to get this shot between the rain showers this morning. Click on the image to enlarge.

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More Truck Accessorizing

Accessorizing

I did a little internet shopping for a couple of things we needed to add to the truck. First, we discovered that a dashboard cover is almost essential here in the desert. Even though the cars are garaged, the short time they are in a parking lot when shopping during the summer, the dash (and seats, etc.) gets mighty hot. You can see the dash cover in the top panel of the image above.

Next, we saw a TV commercial about WeatherTech floor covers. I ordered those this week and installed them today. The covers go a bit beyond the aftermarket floor mats in the auto supply stores in that they are custom fitted for the exact vehicle and cover not only the carpet, but the trim areas all around. You can see the driver side cover in the lower left panel and the crew cab cover on the right (the seats are in the up position).

The salesman who sold the truck to us recommended a couple of places down in the northwest Phoenix Metro area that can install the bed liner and tonneau cover. We will probably get those things done soon.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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