Argentine Giant Flowers Coming Soon

three flower buds

My Argentine Giant cactus has several buds on it that will likely open into giant white flowers. It will probably be a couple of days, but three of the five buds are almost ready to pop open with the beautiful flowers. The other two flower buds will follow with a couple more flowers a bit later.

The cactus isn’t particularly a giant, but the six-to-eight inch diameter flowers certainly are, among common cactus flowers. The cactus itself is only about fifteen inches tall, hardly a giant when compared to the saguaro, for instance.

The flowers smell like a fresh sea breeze the evening they open. I will post pictures of the flowers when they open. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Rescued Cactus In Bloom

Rescued Hedgehog Cactus Flowers Opening

The three lobes of the rescued cactus we planted in the rock garden in front of the house two weeks ago, have started flowering. One of the other three lobes we put in pots at that time also has an open flower. From the looks of all of the rescued cacti, it seems there will be lots of flowers coming.

We hope the cactus in the picture (click on the image to enlarge) will take root and become a permanent part of the landscape. We haven’t figured out where to put the other lobes in pots, but when the work for the concrete RV drive is complete, we will select a place. It will have to be in a place where the dogs don’t go because of the needles.

Speaking of after completion of the RV drive, I have some ideas about what to do on the west side of the lot. First, I want the landscape guys to remove some of the creosote bushes that have become rather out of hand in the four years we have been here. Next, I want some vertical cacti like totem and smooth cereus that get white flowers all summer long. I also want to place golden barrel cacti around the rock garden on the house side of the drive.

There is always something to do in retirement. I love it!

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A Simple Equation


The drone from the Greenbats continues without pause. Now, the Greenbat-in-Chief has directed FEMA to withhold disaster relief funds from states with sane governments. We so-called “deniers” are unworthy of federal money or some sh1t like that.

The worst part of it all, is that they know it’s all fabricated bovine feces. Yet, they peddle the poop as though it were real, in order to gain CONTROL. It’s as simple as that.

Well, I’m a “denier” and proud of it. There is real science that proves that solar activity is the principal factor in global climate variations.

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Pruning the Lemon Tree


As Damsel indicated yesterday in her Lemon Blossoms post, we planned to prune back the lemon tree. Well, today was the day that I attacked the spurious growth of the little tree in our “orchard.”

There were multiple suckers growing out of the ground near the main trunk of the tree in addition to multiple sucker growth low on the trunk. Although there were lemon blossoms on some of the undergrowth, they all had to go in the interest of confining the tree growth upward rather than outward.

I would have trimmed the tree into a perfect round shape if I could, but I did not because of the upper branches that are viable and will produce fruit this fall. Therefore, the shape is a little lopsided and has some thin spots, but there are lots of lemon blossoms and buds. As a matter of fact, I have already found some tiny lemons now developing on some of the branches.

The image above starts out with the ‘before‘ photo and can be clicked to alternate between that and the ‘after‘ image, courtesy of Damsel. Flash™ animation and code by yours truly.

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Lemon Blossoms

Lemon Blossom

It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were harvesting lemons from our little tree by the RV drive, but now the lemon production cycle is already starting again. I took this photo of one of the fragrant blossoms being pollinated by a honey bee today. Click on the image to enlarge.

We had intended, and still intend, to trim much of the tree back to eliminate some of the dead branches and suckers low on the trunk and in the ground. If we happen to lop off a few blossoms in the process, it probably won’t make that much difference in the yield this fall. We had way more lemons than we could use last season and gave a lot of them away.

Of course, we will be making more Limoncello and freezing lemon juice in ice cube trays* to keep until needed for cooking, etc. We’re looking forward to our next lemon harvest.

* Freeze the juice in trays, pop the cubes into a bag and keep in the freezer until you need some juice, then take out only what you need, keeping the rest frozen.

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First Day of Spring

equinox.jpg

Image courtesy of Archeoastronomy dot com. Click on the image to enlarge.

Our first day of spring here in Arizona is our usual March high temp around the mid-to-upper 70’s. Not so good for folks elsewhere in the US who are getting weather of another type: c-c-cold!

News from the National Weather Service

Although astronomical spring officially begins Friday evening, it will feel more like winter across much of the Northeast. Winter Weather Advisories are in effect from Northern Virginia to southern New England, with 3-6 inches of snow possible for some locations. Meanwhile, heavy rain and thunderstorms are forecast across southern Texas and the Gulf Coast.

We contend that these are the normal weather patterns that have been experienced for decades. There is no anthropogenic signature in any weather anywhere other than possibly some urban heat islands which don’t seem to be working for the cities in places mentioned in the NWS News above.

Sorry, Al Gore and the Greenbats. It’s only weather as usual.

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New Pocket Camera

ELPH 140 ISI don’t have a smartphone with a fancy camera built in and my flip phone takes such lousy images and is compounded by the problem of not being able to directly upload them to the computer. I also don’t like to necessarily lug the big camera along everywhere I go, so I like to have a pocket camera with me most of the time.

I had a Canon A1400IS Power Shot for a couple of years, but a few weeks ago I dropped it for the third or fourth time and this time it woke up dead. That prompted me to get on-line for a replacement. I finally settled on this ELPH 140 IS Power Shot which is actually smaller than the one I dropped. It has all of the same features except for an optical viewfinder. I found the viewfinder to be better than the 2.5 inch LCD in sunlight, but I will have to work around that. The other item that I have to work around is the fact that this camera uses a small lithium ion battery rather than the two rechargeable AA cells that I used in the old camera.

The ELPH takes fair pictures, is point and shoot and fits nicely in the ‘technology pouch’ of my cargo pants or shorts as did it’s predecessor. If you click on the link and see a price of $129, I actually paid $40 less for mine. Click on the image above to enlarge.

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Female of the Northern Cardinal Species

Female Cardinal

We enjoy seeing several pairs of cardinals that visit our feeders. This is one of the females that perched on the seed bell yesterday. She let both Damsel and I get fairly close to the bell before she flitted away. Both of our cameras were clicking away as we approached. I got this shot using the 300mm telephoto lens on my Canon SL1 from about thirty feet away. Damsel got another shot of her from a much closer distance using her Canon T3 and the standard lens at 55mm focal length.

With our mild winters, we see the cardinals all year around. We even saw one of them on the last day of 2014 which was our only snow day in six years.

This is from Wikipedia:

Although some controversy surrounds bird feeding (see bird feeder for details), an increase in backyard feeding by humans has generally been beneficial to this species. It is listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN Red List. It has an estimated global range of 2,200,000 sq mi and a global population estimated to be about 100 million individuals.

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Curve Billed Thrasher Nest and Eggs

Thrasher Nest 
Thrasher Cholla

For the third year in a row (that we know of), the curve billed thrashers have built a nest in the cholla cactus in front of our house. We discovered three eggs in the nest today.

The nest is in the inhospitable-looking cholla cactus seen at the lower right. One of the thrashers is seen in the lower left photo perched on a cholla. Click on any of the images to enlarge.

We were worried that the wall and RV drive construction projects would have discouraged the nest-builders, but, obviously, it didn’t bother them. The nest is typical of those we have seen in the past and you can see our used dental floss that we scatter outside in the winter and spring months woven in with the fibers and twigs.

If we have the chance, we may post some pictures of the thrasher chicks when they hatch, but we don’t want to disturb the birds as they nurture their young. In the past, they have laid eggs in the nest twice, so we may not get the opportunity until the second brood.

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There’s a Fungus Among Us

Fungus Cleaned Up

Well, there is still a fungus among us, but it’s just not as visible. This is the before and after photos of the base of the compost bin taken today when Damsel and I set out to eliminate the toadstools flourishing around the bin. Click on either image to enlarge.

We’ve been composting here in Arizona virtually since we moved here. We had a long time tradition of composting when we lived in California, and brought that with us here. We’re not enviro-freaks, but just interested in recycling what we can to our advantage.

When we noticed the toadstools we thought that it would be wise to eliminate them, given the habit of one of the two dogs to randomly pick up something off of the ground and eat it. We worried that this might be a toxic form of the mushroom genus.

I found several references on-line to fungus in the compost and they all indicated that this was a normal occurrence if the compost is not turned regularly. The references all said that toadstools would not hurt the compost.

So, we raked the red gravel rocks away from the bin, scraped the toadstool flesh off of the ground and tossed it into the bin. We used a couple of gardening tools to toss the contents of the bin to turn it over after taking some of the castings to use as soil for Damsel’s spring garden projects.

As I scooped out some of the rich compost soil, I could see that the worms are alive and well and will continue to do their natural thing as we recycle kitchen scraps, napkins, facial tissue, paper towels, flower petals and so forth. We find that the composting results in Arizona are, overall, better than we had in California.

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