Archive for June, 2016

Pruning Day


The little lemon tree next to the RV drive has been sprouting a bunch of new growth this spring and summer. The new stuff is fine, but it obscures the lemon fruit currently growing on the tree. Since it was a cooler day today (only 98 degrees), I decided to prune off some of the excess. The images above are the before and after photos of the lemon tree. Click to alternate between the two.

Damsel came out with me and took the shears to the mesquite tree by the drive (not shown) and took off a lot of the “suckers” (unwanted new growth on the lower branches). There were a lot of them even though we did this not too long ago.

The cooler weather is due to a moist parcel of air in the southwest that has, and will continue through Saturday, triggered thunderstorms and light rainfall. Well, light meaning not at flash flood stage yet. It also has made the humidity climb way above that which we are used to (NOT our famous Arizona “dry heat”). It feels as muggy as it does in Florida at this time of year.

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Monsoon Sky

Monsoon Sky

Damsel took this photo of the mountains to the north of town on our way home from the optometrist today. This view is of a giant cumulonimbus buildup over the Weaver Range between here and Prescott. Click on the image to enlarge.

Monsoon season is here. We have had several minor rain showers over the past week with lightning shows and the works. We enjoyed a brief rain shower this evening to wet the dust down a bit. The shower wasn’t particularly heavy, but it did block the satellite TV feed for a couple of minutes. It is still hot and sticky outside - feels like 80% humid, but that’s probably an over estimation.

We’re expecting more of this weather through Saturday (20-30% chance of showers), but it should clear for Sunday and Independence Day - we’re planning to cook out of doors all weekend. The cooking will involve the smoker, the steamer and the grill, all of which keep the heat and humidity OUTSIDE of the house where it belongs.

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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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