The Last Two Saguaro Flower Buds

Saguaro Flower Buds

Of all the dozens of spring flowers on our big saguaro out front, these appear to be the last two unopened buds. Sometime in the next few days, they will open, get pollinated and then wither while the stems swell to become saguaro fruit, just like the dozens of other flowers that preceded these two flower buds.

The fruit on this saguaro and the last big cactus that sat in this spot never amounted to much, since the birds peck on the fruit to extract the nutrients inside. It’s all part of the desert life cycle and we like it. Click on the image to enlarge.

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New Cowgirl Boots

New Cowgirl Boots

Since Damsel’s birthday is very close to Christmas, we have celebrated her half-birthday in June ever since we have been together. I usually get her some jewelry or some gift that can be given without trying it on first. Boots, on the other hand, have to be not only tried on, but must be approved by her taste in the style of the pair. Therefore, I took her shopping today at our local Boot & Saddlery outlet to get this nice pair which she picked out from a reasonable selection at the shop.

This photo is of Damsel posing with them in the courtyard. They weren’t a surprise, as most of her gifts are, but she likes them, they are comfortable and they look great on her. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Summer Solstice

Solstice

According to the clock here, summer officially started just a few minutes ago when the sun reversed its northbound travel (as seen from Earth) and will be heading southward again with the days getting shorter. June 20th daylight hours/minutes is 14:25, the longest day of the year.

Once again, I borrowed the screenshot graphic from Archaeoastronomy.com showing the frame from the animation where Earth passes through the summer solstice point in its orbit. The graphic shows the four seasonal starting points along with the four cross-quarter points of ancient significance.

Our summer weather is already here with yesterday and today’s highs above normal, hitting 116 yesterday and probably close to that again today. Damsel and I are cool and comfy inside our beautiful air conditioned territorial cottage.

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Three Queens

Flower Stalks

No, not a poker hand . . . These are three flower stalks currently growing on the native “Queen of the Night” (Peniocereus greggii) cactus up on the hill behind our house. This cactus is growing under a palo verde tree up near the northeast property corner.

The location of the cactus is unfortunate for us since it is a steep climb to get to the level where it is growing. Moreover, since these bloom exclusively at night, we likely won’t be able to see them open because of the following factors:

  1. steep night time climb where no lighting exists
  2. nocturnal critters like crotalus (rattlesnake), coyote, javelina and mountain lion can be present in our semi-rural patch of desert.

There are a couple of other Peniocereus greggii growing in more accessible locations lower on or near our property, but neither of them have mature flower stalks at this time. Damsel managed to photograph open flowers on one of them last year.

I am going to hike up there each morning to try and keep an eye on this cactus in order to possibly catch an early morning-after photo or two before the flowers eventually fade. Wish me luck.

Click on the image to enlarge.


UPDATE (20 Jun 2016): I went up on the hill this morning at about 0830 and found that two of the queen buds had bloomed overnight and were closing in the morning sun. The third flower should open after dark this evening. Click on the image to enlarge.

Two of three Opened

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Astrophytum Cactus Flowers

Astrophytum Cactus Flowers

When we returned home yesterday, this pair of flowers greeted me when I went into the courtyard to water the plants that had been neglected for a few days. I say neglected because we weren’t here to water them, but we see evidence that there was at least one moderate rain shower while we were away - tell tale pockmarks on the soil suggested a fairly good shower albeit with no evidence of flooding or running water.

As for these flowers, they are the second batch of buds that showed up on this cactus this spring. Last year, this cactus had flowers opening most of the spring and summer. We are eagerly anticipating a repeat performance this year. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Kamping in Kalifornistan

Kamping in Kalifornistan

We’re here again to visit the little grandson, his parents and the other set of grandparents. The drive was OK, albeit with a lot of 18 wheelers on the road, but we’re here and camp is all set up.

The weather was good with thin overcast and haze. Not exactly a boon for scenic photography, but the conditions were such that the temperatures were lower than they have been and the winds were mostly not enough to make the drive in the 32 footer unmanageable.

The baby’s Mom and the California Grandpa dropped by this evening for a visit. We enjoyed seeing the baby after our absence of longer than we like due to logistics and other life events. We’re already planning the next visit in July and will have the dates figured out before we depart for home.

The Baby’s Dad was still in the L.A. area this evening, but will be out tomorrow for the BBQ we’re planning here in camp. The baby is cuter than ever and sporting four upper and four lower teeth. We just love him.

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Wanderlust Throwback

Four Corners

We took a trip to Arizona and beyond in about 1995 or so, just to see the sights and enjoy the desert west. We had escaped from Kalifornistan to visit Indian Country, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and the Four Corners Monument near Teec Nos Pos, AZ.

In the composite image above, we had taken turns standing on the point where the four states (AZ, UT, CO and NM) converge. We were in Arizona looking toward Colorado from the camera perspective.

Lately, our RV trips have been frequent, but limited to visiting family in K-Stan. We are happy to see the kids, grandkids, one great grandkid and other family on those visits, but we are yearning to head out for more interesting, touristy places. Perhaps this summer, we will load up the dogs and head out to see some of the scenic west as yet unexplored by us.

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