Archive for February, 2016

Leap Day 2016

This day is when the “loose change” of four “quarters” collected during the previous four years is resolved into a “dollar,” or a complete day. 2016 and every other leap year has 366 days and today, February, 29, 2016 is the 60th day of the year which would occur on March 1st in non-leap years.

Before the Gregorian Calendar, Romans and other civilizations had to ad-lib synchronization of their primitive calendars to accommodate the actual sidereal motion of the Earth around the sun by adding and subtracting days and even months.

From Wikipedia:

The calendar of the Roman king Numa Pompilius had only 355 days (even though it was not a lunar calendar) which meant that it would quickly become unsynchronized with the solar year. An earlier Roman solution to this problem was to lengthen the calendar periodically by adding extra days to February, the last month of the year.

February consisted of two parts, each with an odd number of days. The first part ended with the Terminalia on the 23rd, which was considered the end of the religious year, and the five remaining days formed the second part.

To keep the calendar year roughly aligned with the solar year, a leap month, called Mensis Intercalaris (”intercalary month”), was added from time to time between these two parts of February. The (usual) second part of February was incorporated in the intercalary month as its last five days, with no change either in their dates or the festivals observed on them. This followed naturally, because the days after the Ides (13th) of February (in an ordinary year) or the Ides of Intercalaris (in an intercalary year) both counted down to the Kalends of March (i.e. they were known as “the nth day before the Kalends of March”). The Nones (5th) and Ides of Intercalaris occupied their normal positions.

Before the Gregorian Calendar, which is in use currently, the Julian Calendar also added leap days to compensate for the actual solar circuit. When Pope Gregory XIII, introduced the new calendar in October 1582, many of the Julian Calendar errors were corrected at the expense of rearranging some important historical events to different dates than were originally established, mostly out of the Church’s desire to celebrate Easter near the time of the Vernal Equinox.

Happy Leap Day!

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Rodeo Season

Bowman Rodeo Grounds

On our way up to the Wickenburg Sportsmen’s Club shooting range today, we passed the Everett Bowman Rodeo Grounds where a bunch of cowboys and cowgirls were warming up for one of the upcoming rodeo events here in town. During the winter months (and to a lesser extent the rest of the year), we see a lot of horse trailers on the roads and in the downtown and outlying arena parking areas.

We like the fact that the rodeo brings a lot of welcome commerce to our little town, even if it means more traffic on the road and more competition while grocery shopping. Both of us, although we aren’t rodeo participant types, enjoy seeing good horses and riders. We have been known to go to rodeos in the past and may do so again.

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Gerbera Daisies and Tulips

Gerbera Daisies and Tulips

The flower shop in the supermarket had cut Gerbera Daisies and some nice tulips today. I bought a bunch of each and fashioned this centerpiece for the dining table this afternoon. Click on the image to enlarge.

The flowers made our light lunch of healthy greens, tomatoes, cubed avocado and shredded chicken breast taste all the better. We enjoyed a lovely spring-like day here in the desert once more.

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Around the first week in December, I posted an image of an ultralight aircraft overhead at our little desert casita. Today, I had just finished delivering a package to the local UPS pickup point, when a pickup truck pulled in the parking lot with this contraption strapped in the bed.

Looking at the image I posted before, I can not positively say whether this is the same aircraft. This one has blue paint around the propeller shroud while the other one (seen in the inset) seems to have silver or white paint in that area.

I think that it is interesting that the pickup has a silhouette of a parafoil aircraft stenciled on the side, possibly indicating that there is a commercial enterprise associated with the two guys in the truck and the aircraft. Perhaps they are here for the rodeos that take place almost every weekend and on some weekdays.

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Lizard Sunning on a Rock

Lizard Sunning on a Rock

I noticed this lizard sunning itself on one of the river rocks below the courtyard out front this morning. I went and got my Canon SL1 and the 300mm lens to get this picture. The little guy obliged me and sat tight while I went in to get the camera. This is another view of the same lizard.

Despite consulting a desert wildlife book and looking on the Lizards of Arizona webpage, I am unable to identify the common or taxonomic name of this variety. We see lizards all the time, now that the weather is warmer.

Maybe readers like Crotalus or Glenn B, being desert and reptile aficionados, can shed some of their wisdom on this one. Right now, I call it “Gray Lizard with two-tone brown pattern on its back.”

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn B, the little critter has been almost positively identified as an ornate tree lizard. See Glenn’s comment below . . .

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Fire Ants

Ant Hill with Amdro Pellets

We have several levels of pests in the desert (excluding the humanoid ones) to include several mammal species, a bunch of reptile species and, of course, insects. Damsel can’t abide having ants anywhere on the property, so, when she finds an anthill, she wants something done about it.

The fire ant nest in the image is located down by the roadway in front of our house. It’s an area where we walk the dogs and Damsel worries about the ants biting the dogs. She spotted this anthill a couple of days ago and yesterday, I sprinkled some Amdro fire ant bait pellets on and around it.

When we arrived in the desert homestead, we were relatively new at the game of coping with desert denizens. One of the locals suggested the Amdro product to me and I have to sat I’m glad he did. The little worker ants take the bait down to the royal chamber in their burrow and poison the queen ant with the pellet taken down. The hive is doomed thereafter.

I bought a one pound container of Amdro about five years ago, and I still have several ounces left in it since it only takes a few pellets scattered on and around the mound to do the trick. Nests are usually completely destroyed about a week after the application of the pellets.

The mound was still active when I took the image above. It should be inactive in a day or three. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Signs of Spring

Cactus Flower Buds

We have been home for a couple of days following our recent visit to the California Deserts in the Coachella Valley and the Colorado River. We were fortunate to have had wonderful, warm (for the season) weather the whole time we were gone. Better yet, the weather here at home is just as beautiful and warm.

We did a little yard work today; since the weeds are vigorously growing, it was time to spray weed killer wherever we see them growing out of the rocks or near the trees in the orchard and in the courtyard. We noticed several indications that spring is coming soon - the plum tree in the courtyard has a lot of new flowers and growth, plus the beavertail cactus in the photo above is showing several flower buds. It won’t be long until the vivid pink flowers on this cactus are catching our attention (and the attention of the pollinators as well).

Unfortunately for the cactus shown in the photo above, it is one of the rapid growing species that we have decided to move out of the front part of the yard and into the rock and cactus garden on the west side of the lot. We will let it do it’s spring thing and then it will either be moved to the R&C garden or some of the paddles will be transplanted to that part of the yard. There are some bare spots on the hill near the fence line to the west where these will suffice as barrier cactus to divert the javelina to the back wash rather than into our improved areas.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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