Home & Garden

Delivery Instructions Signage

Because our courtyard gate latch is a bit wonky, we prefer that packages be delivered to the rear of the house by the patio. Now, most carriers allow you to specify delivery instructions, but some of the drivers don’t get the message and try to open the courtyard gate which is a bit difficult. A lot of the time, they just dump the package out front outside of the courtyard. We saw this as a minor security risk, so today we installed the sign in a location that can be seen from the driveway and courtyard walkway.

The sign is installed on the electrical box where the house’s circuit breakers are located. The box is made of steel, so I needed a good drill bit for drilling four holes to accommodate #6 sheet metal screws. I also needed a center punch to locate the holes. We gave away most of my old tool collection to family when we left Kalifornistan, so I had to buy the tools again. Although this is not my first time to do “handyman” chores around the Arizona house, this was the first time that I had to get special tools.

So I went to the hardware store and bought some #6 sheet metal screws, a couple of 7/64 drill bits (they did not have a number 36 drill unless I bought a set) and a center punch to indent the locations for the drills. I previously got the sign from Amazon, so we were now ready to do the installation. It all went as planned and you can see the resulting installation in the (clickable) image above.

This is sort of a mundane post, but since we got the new WordPress theme customized, we are motivated to blog more regularly on topics like this that might be neither exciting nor controversial. Of course, we will continue to post about major occasions and events.

More Spring Cactus Flowers

I took the dogs out this morning for their usual trip to the road outside and noticed that a lot of our May flowers were open on the various cacti around the house. I went back out armed with my Canon Rebel EOS SL1 to try and record some of what I saw when I was out before. I captured the shots as seen in the (clickable) montage above.

The most prevalent flowering cactus is our fourteen foot Saguaro out front of the house. There are buds, open flowers and some transforming into cactus fruit on the tops of the arms of the big guy.

Damsel has some small barrel cacti on the courtyard, a Bishop’s Cap cactus in a pot and a Star Cactus (Astrophytum) in the ground outside of the courtyard gate. Both are relatives of one another and produce flowers not only in May, but other times of the year as well. Both had open flowers today.

Individual photos in the montage above are (click to see each):

We will be seeing more cactus flowers during the summer since there are tell-tale buds on several of them that promise the opening of new flowers soon. Also, be on the lookout for some flowers on other shrubs and trees around the property this summer.

First Cactus Flowers of Spring, 2022

Actually, not the first ones*, but this is the first to open on the native cacti around the yard. Damsel took this photo of one of two flowers that were open today on a hedgehog cactus in front of the house.

From Wikipedia

Echinocereus is a genus of ribbed, usually small to medium-sized, cylindrical cacti, comprising about 70 species native to the southern United States and Mexico in very sunny, rocky places. Usually the flowers are large and the fruit edible.

The name comes from the Ancient Greek echinos, meaning “hedgehog” and the Latin cereus meaning “candle”. They are sometimes known as hedgehog cacti, a term also used for the Pediocactus and Echinopsis.

The article at Wikipedia lists most of the species of hedgehog cacti, but we’re not sure of which one this cactus belongs to. Click on the image to enlarge.

*There are several store-bought cacti in planters around the courtyard and other places which have already produced tiny flowers in 2022.

Winter Lemon Crop

Knowing that there was to be freezing temperatures overnight, Damsel and I decided to start picking the ripe lemons from our “orchard” yesterday – yes, we did it on New Year’s Day. We picked about an estimated three hundred of them before we knocked off for the rest of the day.

We stored the lemons in the wheelbarrow (image above – click to enlarge) in the garage overnight due to the probable freezing temperatures, but, as it turned out, the low was just about exactly the freezing point which wouldn’t have damaged the lemons. The forecast was for a “hard” freeze but the only effects were to freeze the top layer of water in the birdbaths and in the rain bucket. Dogs water dish under cover in the patio and in their wading pool did not freeze.

Despite having picked a couple gross of lemons from the tree, there are dozens more to pick (image below). I checked on the unpicked lemons this morning and none appeared to be damaged, which is a good thing. We plan on using many of the lemons for our annual batch of Limoncello and give the rest away to neighbors and the local food bank.

Since there are a lot of lemons still to be picked, we will probably not get to that until later this week. I have a couple of appointments, one for lab work and another with the dermatologist for my usual skin problems, but we will likely be able to work around those and get the pickin’ into our routine.

Visitors to our humble abode are likely to be presented with a complimentary bottle of our custom Limoncello.

Spring in the Desert

Beavertail Cactus Flower Pink Hedgehog Cactus Flower

For the past couple of days, some of our native cacti have had flowers open up. The one on the left is a flower on one of our beavertail cacti and the one on the right is on a hedgehog cactus. Both species are native and were growing here when we moved in over ten years ago (that long?).

Below are a couple of male House Finches who are engaged in their spring rituals of trying to attract the attention of female Finches with their spring songs and aerial dances. These are so nice to watch in addition to Cardinals, Doves, Thrashers, Woodpeckers and Phainopeplas doing their things as well.

There are many other species of birds and mammals running about this patch of desert in the springtime. It’s like having our own private zoo.

House Finch Singing House Finch on Rosemary Shrub

Click on any of the images to enlarge.

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.