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Night Blooming Argentine Giant Cactus Flowers

Night Blooming Cactus Flowers

Our Argentine Giant (Echinopsis candicans) offered these two beautiful flowers last evening. This is the second blooming on this cactus this year. Since we purchased this cactus in 2011 and planted it in front of the house, it has reliably given us flowers every year. This year, it is also starting to grow “pups,” which are the three buds seen near the base of the cactus in the image at the left above. This variety of cactus spreads out as it ages with several pups, each eventually producing flowers.

About Argentine Giant from Wikipedia:

Echinopsis candicans has a shrubby growth habit, with individual stems up to 60 cm (24 in) tall. The plant as a whole can be as much as 3 m (10 ft) across. The stems are light green, with a diameter of up to 14 cm (5.5 in) and have 9–11 low ribs. The large white areoles are spaced at 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) and produce brownish yellow spines, the central spines being up to 10 cm (3.9 in) long, the radial spines only up to 4 cm (1.6 in).

The fragrant white flowers open at night. They are large, up to 19 cm (7.5 in) across and 18–23 cm (7.1–9.1 in) long.

Summer is not over by a long shot and there are more desert flowers to come. Stay tuned.

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Tropical Weather Activity

Tropical Storm CristinaAs we enter mid-July, the tropics are busily producing waves of disturbances and low pressure systems both in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Pictured is Tropical Storm Cristina in the Eastern Pacific currently moving westward and away from Mexico. We also have Tropical Storm Fay which is currently dumping moisture on the Northeastern US and Canada.

Image: T.S. Cristina (courtesy NOAA and GOES West). Click on the image to enlarge.

While Fay is drenching areas of New Jersey, Delaware, New York and beyond, Cristina poses no weather threat to land areas although it could still develop into hurricane force and dangerous to shipping in the 15° to 25° N latitudes in the Eastern Pacific. The storm is drifting westward at a rate of about fifteen knots.

The only effect Cristina is having on us here in the middle of Arizona is a few high clouds. We have summertime temperatures here for sure with forecast highs in the 110-117° F. range for the weekend. We almost wish the storm would make a hard right turn and bring us some monsoon weather, but I guess monsoons will be coming sooner or later without the help of T.S. Cristina.

In other news, we have been doing genealogy research here and have been discovering some interesting things about our ancestors. We now know that we had several ancestors who were in the military for the Revolutionary War, The War of 1812 and the Civil War (on both sides of it). We already knew about our grandparents and parents involvement in WW1 and WW2.

We also submitted a DNA sample and found out our roots from a general ethnic standpoint. The results dispelled a family rumor that we had Native American ancestors, which proved not to be the case. We have DNA in common with English, Irish, Scottish, German, Dutch and Swedish ancestors with a possibility of some other European lineage thrown in the mix.

The DNA result also proved that I’m related to other family members who also submitted samples: a nephew (my brother’s son) and a granddaughter (my daughter’s daughter). The DNA also shows we’re linked to other users of the service, most of whom we don’t know nor care much about (fourth to eighth cousins twice removed?). Some of those are sort of interesting in understanding the family tree, but we don’t especially want to dig any far distant relatives out of the woodwork at this point.

We are still sorting out facts and hints in the family tree (from a pedigree point of view) and are halfway through our third great grandparents level (of which there are 32 potential ancestors). I will post something further on this if I discover an ancestor built the Brooklyn Bridge or something of similar magnitude.

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Happy 4th of July!

Town Flags

Happy Independence Day from the little flag-waving town of Wickenburg, AZ!

Our local American Legion Post religiously plants flags all over town on every holiday as seen in the background image above. That image was taken (credit Damsel) along the main part of Wickenburg Way (a.k.a. US 60) in the old historical part of town. I added the greeting with a graphics utility I use from time to time.

To celebrate the holiday, Damsel prepared Star Spangled Chili for dinner yesterday. The dish included a medium-hot chili base with lean ground beef, sliced Hebrew National kosher franks and chopped beef tenderloin chunks garnished with avocado, sour cream and an olive. It was pretty awesome.

The beef tenderloin chunks were leftover meat from a whole tenderloin I butchered myself. Once you separate the “chain” and the “wing” from the main tenderloin, I set those aside to be chopped into the aforementioned chunks.

I cut the rest of the main tenderloin into steaks, a couple of small roasts (Chateaubriand) and tenderloin medallions or small steaks. There is a bit of fat and silver skin that goes to waste, but most of the meat gets used in some form or another. Considering that butcher shop tenderloin steaks (Filet Mignon) are upwards of $20 per pound, butchering our own saves us a considerable amount of cash.

There are a couple of pretty good videos on You Tube (here and here) that guide you through the process of butchering a whole beef tenderloin.

In the meantime, despite all the COVID-19 and BLM/ANTIFA chaos, we’re having a nice holiday weekend here in our little piece of the good old USA and hope that everyone else will be able to enjoy it like we are doing. Happy Birthday America - may she keep on going strong!

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Red Bird of Paradise

Red Bird of Paradise Flower

Today, the first few of the colorful Red Bird of Paradise flowers opened in our courtyard this morning. These flowers (a.k.a. Pride of Barbados) will be opening until fall. We have three of the Red Bird shrubs in the courtyard, so there should be plenty of color throughout the summer.

More about these shrubs from Texas Superstar:

Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is an evergreen shrub or small tree in frost free climates. The plant is usually tall, growing large even after freezing to the ground the previous winter. The leaves are fern like. Pride–of–Barbados has incredibly showy blossoms of orange and red. The individual flowers are bowl shaped, 2–3 inches across, with five crinkled, unequal red and orange petals, and ten prominent bright red stamens. The striking orange red flowers are an attention grabber!

The flowers get a lot of visits from butterflies, bees, sphinx moths and hummingbirds. We have seen these and more browsing the flowers throughout the summer. The sphinx moths mentioned above usually show up around dusk since they are mostly nocturnal.

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Summer Seems To Be Here

Our First Saguaro Flowers

In spite of the actual summer start date next month, we have had triple digit weather for two days now and the forecast is for more of the same for the next few days. I just went out on the back patio (4:30PM) and saw the temperature gauge showing 105°F. That’s about a degree cooler than an hour ago. We can deal with it since the air conditioner is keeping the house cool enough.

The flowers in the image above were open this morning on our big saguaro cactus out front by the driveway. These are the first two buds to open on this cactus and there are many more to come. There have been saguaro flowers open in other places in town for a couple of weeks now, but these are our first. We look forward to having a lot more of these in the weeks to come.

In the courtyard, I am expecting our Red Bird of Paradise shrubs to have flowers open any day now, and our Cherry Red cactus flowers coming shortly after those.

Despite the warmer temperatures, we always look forward to our summer flowers. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Arizona Spring Cactus Flowers

Beavertail Cactus Flower Prickly Pear Flower
Argentine Giant Cactus Flower Ball Cactus Flower

Since mid-March, the cacti in our xeriscape gardens have had open flowers. The individual flowers aren’t around more than a day or two at most, but, thankfully, the individual flower buds have matured at different times over the last five weeks providing us with almost continuous colorful flowers from day to day.

The two flowers at the top are from our opuntia cacti, a.k.a. paddle cacti. Top left is from one of our beavertail cacti and top right is a flower on a prickly pear. The bottom left is an Argentine Giant flower. one of three that were open simultaneously last week. On the bottom right is a flower from a little ball cactus that my sister in Stockton, CA, mailed to me last year. I don’t know the botanical name of this cactus, but it sure makes pretty pink flowers.

I love springtime in the desert!

All the photos were taken using my Canon EOS Rebel T6i camera or with Bob’s Canon EOS Rebel SL1, both equipped with EFS 18-135mm lenses. Click on any of the images to enlarge.

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Yard Cleanup - Feeding the Chipper

Feeding the Chipper

Over the past months (maybe over a year) we have trimmed mesquite tree branches away from the driveway and in the back and front yard areas. We also recently removed a few branches from the plum tree in the courtyard to encourage it to grow upward. When we don’t have time to break the limbs down and stuff them into the refuse bin, we sometimes drag them across the road to our lot over there to be dealt with at a future time.

Well, the future is here. Yesterday, Damsel and I took the chipper that we bought last spring over there to dispose of the branches and create some mulch for Damsel’s gardening. I took the 3KW Honda Generator in the back of the pickup so we could have power to run the chipper.

We got most of the work done in that single session and created a box full of wood chip mulch that Damsel can spread on her trees and other items she grows. There remains some thicker branches that we will chop into firewood for our neighbors that have fireplaces.

When operating the chipper, the manufacturer recommends protection for eyes and ears (pieces fly and it’s loud). I borrowed the goggles and earmuffs from the range bag for the job. Click on the image to enlarge.

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