Hummingbird

Hummingbird

The hummingbirds that visit our feeders seem to be accustomed to the presence of humans near the feeders. This allows us to stand near the feeders and get up-close and personal photos of the little guys when they come for a sip or two. This little guy was six feet away from the lens when he had his beak deep inside the nectar. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Fireball over Wickenburg

fireball.jpgDamsel and I were out in the courtyard to watch the overflight of the International Space Station this evening. It was still pretty light out and I wanted to see if I could see Sirius in Canis Major as a gauge for the predicted magnitude of the ISS at -1.9. Sirius is magnitude -1.46, a little less bright than the satellite.

Image: Similar fireball photographed over Russia.

When I turned my attention eastward to look at Sirius, a bright meteor streaked across the sky, bright white initially and turning to orange and breaking into fragments as I watched. It was gone by the time I called to Damsel to come and look. This is the first fireball meteor we have seen in Arizona and the first one I, personally, have seen in over 20 years of looking up. The image in this post is not of the event we witnessed tonight, but a stock image of a fireball seen over Russia in the past.

In scanning local news reports, I have not seen any mention of this event. The good news is that Damsel and I both saw a nice ISS pass which makes three out of four in this recent series of evening passes. One was rained out earlier in the week.

We like to keep looking up. The stars here are usually spectacular and we see the Milky Way most clear nights.

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Wet Weather Coming Followed by Cold

pacific-storm.jpg

The Pacific storm system currently going through California should be here in a couple of hours. All of the west needs the rain, but the colder nights are of little use to those of us with osteoarthritis and other cold-sensitive ailments (or just plain old hate the f@^&ing cold syndrome). The lows after the system moves through will be below freezing and the daily high temperatures are scarcely enough to thaw out the achy pains of old age.

The rain just started as I am typing this. I started the first paragraph of this post an hour ago while there was still some blue in the sky. Now, it is completely overcast and the rain and wind are apparent even from inside our secure little home.

We were going to watch a pass of the International Space Station this evening, but the clouds and rain (not to mention wind gusts to 30kts) preclude any stellar observations. If it clears up, there is another ISS pass tomorrow and a couple more evening passes early this week. We will bundle up and attempt to watch the flyovers in the cold.

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Early Valentine Gifts

Chocolate Strawberries

Since we’re going to be on the road during the St. Valentine’s Holiday, Bob thought it would be best to present me with my gift before we get going. Yesterday, I received a couple of pieces of Waterford Crystal, namely, a nice nine inch crystal bowl and a crystal seahorse paperweight which is more of a showcase knick-knack than a paperweight. I have received Waterford crystal for Valentines Day for a number of years now. It is nice to see the tradition continue.

Today, a box containing a dozen delicious chocolate-covered strawberries showed up. You can see from the image above, that I already enjoyed one of these tasty delicacies before taking the photo, since there are only eleven left in the box now in the fridge. I plan to “ration” them out at no more than one per day until they’re gone. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Warm Hands

Little HottiesDuring the winter months here in Arizona, the temperatures don’t get extremely cold, but to an aging couple, both with arthritic hands, the lower temperatures can bring some discomfort. Add to that the fact that we don’t run the heater in our retirement house, the minor discomfort is not limited to the outdoors.

Damsel suggested that we acquire some hand warmers for those occasions when a little heat might go a long way to relieve the little aches and pains in our hands. I went on Amazon and found these Little Hotties Hand Warmers. I ordered a box of ten pairs of them and today, I opened up one pair to try them out.

It was cool in the office this morning when I activated the pair of warmers at about 10AM. It is now quarter to eight in the evening and these little guys are still warm in the front pouch of my hooded sweatshirt. I have not had cold hands all day and the discomfort due to the cooler temps is virtually nil. We probably won’t need to use these every day while the cooler weather persists, but, on those occasions when the joints are acting up, they will be a welcome addition to the pockets where the hands go when they feel cold.

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Five Years in the New House

2011.jpg 2016.jpg

The Damsel and I moved in to our desert house in early January of 2011, just a few days more than five years ago. Since the move in date, we have made a few improvements over time. I took both photos above, one back then and the other today. Comparing the two, one can see the result of planned improvements to our rustic desert homesite. Click on either image to enlarge.

Almost immediately after we moved in, our contractor began construction on the courtyard wall. That was followed by the landscape contractor who installed irrigation and the shrubs, then finished with the river and red rocks covering the ground all around the house. Somewhere in the middle there, we had the sunscreens and security doors installed.

After experiencing several minor RV drive washouts from monsoons, we decided to have our contractor put in retention walls last February. We also asked them to pave the RV drive with concrete all the way around. Last summer, we had what the Maricopa County Flood Control District referred to as a “millennium” rainfall event, dumping up to five inches on us in less than two hours. The walls did their job of diverting the runoff and the pavement drained properly.

We now consider our home in a maintenance mode. We still have some minor improvements to make to the rock and cactus garden west of the house. We have taken it upon ourselves to spread some of the rock ground cover and to reinforce the runoff creek with large rocks and boulders already available on the property. All in good time, of course.

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Welcome Signs of Spring

Paperwhites

We have had some relief from the sub-freezing temperatures over the past couple of weeks. The really cold temperatures may be behind us, as attested by flowers opening in the desert.

In recent days, my Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus) have begun to bloom in the courtyard. We have had these perennial flowers come up every January since we planted the bulbs shortly after moving here, about five years ago.

Any resemblance to daffodils is not a coincidence according to Wikipedia:

Narcissus papyraceus (from papyrus and aceus; meaning paper-like), one of a few species known as paperwhite, is a perennial bulbous plant native to the western Mediterranean region, from Greece to Portugal plus Morocco and Algeria. The species is considered naturalized in the Azores, Corsica, Texas, California and Louisiana. The white flowers are borne in bunches and are strongly fragrant. It is frequently grown as a house plant, often forced to flower at Christmas.

Paperwhites are part of the Narcissus genus which includes plants known as daffodils.

In addition to the places listed above where these are considered “naturalized,” I submit Arizona should be added to the list. Click on the image to enlarge.

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