Archive for Home & Garden

One Decade in Our Desert Home

January 2011 January 2021

Images: January 2011 and January 2021 - click on either image to enlarge.

Today marks the tenth anniversary of moving into our little Desert House. We were sleeping on a box springs and mattress with no bed frame, sitting on folding chairs and eating/computing on a 24×48″ folding table - virtually camping in the new abode, but we were “moved in” a decade ago.

Just after moving in, we had a short list of fixtures to be acquired and installed, plus some other improvements to be made. This is the list from ten years ago:

  1. gate2.jpgCourtyard - We spoke to our contractor last week and gave him specifications for a wall and gateway to enclose part of the house to form a courtyard in front and a dog run on the side of the house. We will have an estimate to build the wall this week and will ask that the work be scheduled right away.
  2. red-bird.jpgLandscaping - After the wall is up and the gate has been installed, we are going to start landscaping the yard. This will take some time to accomplish but we are planning to put gravel down on the RV drive through and in the courtyard. Later, we will bring some of Damsel’s cactus from California.
  3. shutters.jpgShutters - Today, we ordered shutters for several of the windows. We contacted a vendor in the Phoenix area that offers a southwestern shutter style that will match our Santa Fe style and will look very nice inside and outside of the house. The wood and stain will match the wood of the cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  4. sw-furn.jpgFurniture - We promised ourselves that most, if not all of the furniture in the new house, would be new. This week, our first priority will be to get a dining room set. Gradually, we will be acquiring furnishings and decorations that are appropriate to the old west and Santa Fe style that we love.
  5. door.jpgSecurity Door - We probably don’t need this door for security as much as we want the southwestern style and the ability to open the front door and let the air in and keep the bugs out. I contacted a vendor that is willing to travel to Wickenburg to meet with us and to measure the door. He will also install the door when it is complete. The style we select will match the color and style of Damsel’s sconces.
  6. screenmobile.jpgScreens - While driving through the neighborhood, I noticed a screenmobile parked about two blocks away. I took down the number and called our neighbor who installs custom screens. He came out to our property and immediately furnished a quote for screens for all the windows.

Some things turned out to be different from the list, but we got a lot done and are still making minor improvements. Very soon now, we will be getting all new furniture for the great room and new kitchen appliances now that the original stuff is a decade old.

Even after a decade, we thank God that we are here and out of the former residence. It feels good to be here and we remain very happy in our little desert home.

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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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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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Winter Cactus Flower

Winter Cactus Flower

Damsel’s so-called “Christmas Cactus” has flowers opening about a week after the holiday. From the looks of the plant, it’s showing that many more of the flowers will be opening over the next several days. Damsel took this image today when the sun was shining into the front window where the plant sits on the sill.

We didn’t post a new year message on the eve or the day, but we take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy and prosperous 2020. We let the post slip in favor of just relaxing and doing the usual holiday things, football bowl games, food, you know - celebrating in our own way.

It turns out that the switch from the old laptop to the new one has a few wrinkles. I have slowly been transferring all my “stuff” to the new one, but need to stay on line here until the complete switch over. My laptop is also the print server for the household, and it would put a drag on things if it were to be down for too long.

Another project associated with the computer replacement is the overhaul of the desk/workstation in the office. It needs to be reorganized and updated to new stuff. I just finished assembling a three-level desktop shelf (something needed for a long time) that will hold the various devices and get a lot of the stuff currently on the overcrowded desk up and out of the way.

So, we’re making progress on everything while keeping the pace comfortable for ourselves as we move through it all. Again, may you all have a blessed and happy new year.

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