Saturday, May 25, 2019

Hot, Birds and Agaves

It was hot today.  Summer is back for awhile.  Fortunately we ran the irrigation system this morning and checked on all of the bubblers.  Some of them were closed.  We're not sure how that happened, but they're open now.  Even the drought tolerant plants enjoy some water in the summer.  After that we extended a line by the palm trees so the water would quit running off the side of a berm. 

After sprinkler maintenance there was a restorative trip to the pool.  When we decided to buy a house there was a lot of discussion about having a pool, vs. having access to a pool.  Access won out.  It costs a fortune to heat a pool in the winter, and if it's not heated, it's only used in the summer.  However, it has to be maintained all the time.  There were three ladies laying out in the sun, in 90 degree heat, tanning.  It's so weird to see this, they did it at the RV park, too.  People would lay there, repositioning their lounge chairs to be in line with the sun.  We were in the pool wearing hats and sunglasses.  I don't put my head in the water due to the hole in my left ear drum.

Yesterday we had a lizard on the wall.  He sat there for quite some time.

This morning there was a dove on the agave.

The oriole was back, as well.  He's sort of a mean bird, he chases other birds off the flower spike.

Two little birds in the wash.

The agave down the street continues to open its flowers.  The hummingbird is happy about this.

Now I'm going to talk about that man.  Feel free to click away if you're tired of it.

He told the Intelligence Community to give Barr whatever he wants to see, so that Barr can investigate the "spying" on the campaign.  Barr can declassify anything.  He said to the press that he was making everything public, he was just that transparent.  One of those things may be an informant in the Kremlin, Putin would love that.  Do we actually think the the president wants to identify this person - so Putin can have him killed?  How far over the edge has he gone?  DNI Dan Coates has made it pretty clear he's not giving up anything about sources or methods.  At this point it's unlikely that any other country, other than Israel, will share intelligence with the US.   Why on earth would they ever trust us again?  He's using emergency powers to sell billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia so they can continue bombing Yemen back into the stone age.  Congress denied those sales, he's doing it anyway.  Someone doctored a video of Speaker Pelosi, making her appear drunk, he retweeted it. 

Then today, from Japan, he tweeted this. 

What is he talking about?  Japan was very disturbed by the missile testing.  They have a lot of skin in this game.  Does he really not know how to spell the former Vice President's name?  All other presidents have followed the rule that when in a foreign country, American politics are not discussed.  I guess he did not get that memo.

I'm not sure democracy can withstand four more years of this.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Birds, Tailings, and Theater of the Absurd

Today was spectacular.  The skies looked freshly washed, which is weird since it hasn't rained and there has been all kinds of blowing dust, but we'll take it.  We went for a lovely restorative walk in the desert.  We didn't leave until 11:00 because it wasn't hot.  How cool is that.  This time last year it was in triple digits.

I think this is a Hooded Oriole.  He's a pretty bird.  This morning he was on the flower spike that's in our neighbor's yard.

Monday Jim had to see the dermatologist.  He's south of here in Sahuarita.  Since it's a freeway drive it's faster to go a little farther than go to the office in town. Every time we make this drive, it's always mind boggling how far the mine tailings stretch.  The mines are no longer producing copper, but the tailings will be with us forever.  Huge real estate developments have gone up between the freeway and the tailings.

The land is never recovered.  Rosemont, a foreign company, recently got approval to open a new mine, and dump the tailings on national forest land.  I can't stand it.  Anyway, Jim got zapped with the liquid nitrogen (a lot) with predictable results.  This is one mine as seen from space.

This belongs to different neighbors.  They are taking off in the morning for points north.  I just love their rig.  They have a tractor, with a smart car on the back, and they are towing a giant honking 5th wheel.  Last year the did a summer of state parks, and he was able to get into all except one.  It's pretty impressive.

This is a photo of their trichocereus, which just put out another batch of flowers.

So, by now we all know that the president stage managed his infrastructure meeting with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, in a room with the drapes drawn, in which he stood for three minutes and said that Speaker Pelosi had said some bad things about him and that he could no longer work with the democrats until they stop investigating him, whereupon he rushed out to give a press conference in the Rose Garden and said that Democrats can either investigate or legislate, but they can't do both.

What was interesting was that the podium was already out there and ready for him to speak. 

Also interesting is that he had time to write up notes to speak from in between his departure from the meeting and his immediate arrival in the Rose Garden.

Today he held another press conference and demanded that other people in that meeting tell the press how calm and collected he had been for his three minutes.  Then he went off on a tangent about Japan and said the following:
 "It’s a very big thing going on with the emperor," Trump said. "It’s something that hasn’t happened in over 200 years. I am the guest, meaning the United States is the guest, but Prime Minister Abe said to me very specifically, 'You are the guest of honor. There’s only one guest of honor. You are the guest of honor.'"
"With all the countries of the world I am the guest of honor at the biggest event that they’ve had in over 200 years," Trump said. "So it’s a great thing. And we get along very well with Japan. I get along very well with the prime minister so we’re going to be spending two days over there."
He's unhinged.  An emperor has not abdicated in 200 years.  The previous emperor abdicated earlier this month, and the president was not there.  He's going to meet the new emperor and play golf with the prime minister.  They're also going to watch sumo wrestling.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Yet More Cactus

Who's tired of cactus yet?  No?  Good.  The trichocereus are continuing their display.  The agave blossoms are beginning to open.

Today is windy again, gusts to 45 mph.  I would really like a nice high pressure system to establish itself and stop all of this weather!

Monday, May 20, 2019

More From Tucson

It rained!  It's cool enough for long pants. And the wind is ferocious!  In May.  This weather has been so weird this year.  I really hope this is not the new normal, especially for the people in the middle of the country.  Their losses have just been devastating.  In news of the world, it appears that the president and his son in law were engaged in money laundering, but Deutsche Bank decided to sit on that knowledge.  Today their stock hit a new low.  Late Friday it was announced that there might be an additional 1,700 separated from their parents, it wasn't clear if anyone knows their whereabouts.  Justin Amash, a member of the Freedom caucus, is calling for impeachment, spurring furious tweets from the White House.

Did you watch Game of Thrones?  No?  Me either.  I'm too cheap to pay for HBO and my attention span is not long enough to remain fully immersed in these complicated tales of dragons and mystical powers and stuff.  I saw this on twitter this morning, and it was fairly amusing, even for a non-watcher.

We spotted a late blooming trichocereus next door.  No one is here to see it.  The house sold in April and the new owners will not be back until December.  They're from Wisconsin.

The agave flowers have not changed yet.

That's it - things are slow at the moment.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Palm Trees and Agaves

I think about writing about the current administration, the cruelty of lunch shaming, and perhaps how gerrymandering is bringing the US policies that 3/4 of the population doesn't want, but so far, I don't do it.  It's been hot.  Yesterday hit 98 and it felt so much hotter than the last time it was 98.  It wasn't humid, so one wonders why.  Coming out of the gym at 4 pm was like walking into an oven.  Today was cooler, but the wind is just ferocious.

We were up and early for a longish hilly hike.  There are no pictures because the bugs were so bad.  Every time we stopped they swarmed us.  The wind did not come up until after we were back.

Here is a queen palm getting bashed about.

One of the big palms is blooming.  Last year it showered the decorative boulder with little black ovoids.  I'm not sure if they're stunted dates or what.  Look at the thing sticking out to the left, that's one of the flower spikes.

There is an agave, different than the one we had, that has put forth the mother of all flower spikes.  We had the kind that is in the foreground.  The blooming plant is a different species.

Look at this!  I guess all of the yellow things will eventually open.  We will keep it under surveillance.

This house has two Muscat gates.  There is also one just in front of their door.  It's very similar to ours except for they painted them.

Here is a very funny cat video.  It's a hairless cat, which is why it looks like that.  It's only 5 seconds, so it should not take up too much bandwidth.

That's it - that's all I've got.

Monday, May 13, 2019

A Place Holder Post

I need to take my previous post down.  So as not to screw up everybody's blog roll that updates automatically, here is a cute picture.  He's a captive bred desert tortoise taking a nap on a cool tile floor while he waits for dinner.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Weather, the Cactus and Helium and Javelinas

At sunset last night we had a pretty sky.

Later we heard thunder, then we saw huge lightning bolts.  I can't tell you how unusual this is for May.  May is generally dry and hot.  This sort of weather starts mid summer during monsoon.  We checked a weather site and read this:

 Radar indicates the storm is moving to the west-northwest over Drexel Heights and the Tucson Heights area. Strong gusts to 60 mph will proceed the storm. Less of a threat exists for the Oro Valley area at this time. IMPACT...Expect damage to roofs, siding, and trees. Locations impacted include... Tucson, Catalina, Oro Valley, Marana, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Casas Adobes, Drexel Heights, Flowing Wells, South Tucson, Three Points, Avra Valley, Pascua Pueblo Yaqui Reservation, Tortolita, Summit, Catalina State Park, Tucson Estates, Saguaro National Park West, Catalina Foothills, Valencia West and Tucson International Airport. This includes the following highways... Interstate 10 between mile markers 233 and 268. Interstate 19 between mile markers 51 and 63. Route 77 between mile markers 70 and 85. Route 86 between mile markers 154 and 171. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... For your protection move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a building. && HAIL..
I really like the part about moving to an interior room on the lowest floor.  Fortunately we did not get the winds, but we did get a lot of rain.

Today we hiked up to the saddle between Golden Gate and Bren Peak.  It's sort of a stair master hike.  There are prettier places to be, but it gets the heart pumping and the blood moving.  This is not a May sky.  This is a July sky.

When we got home we tried to deer proof the new lemon tree.  They've been chewing on him and leaving the mature trees alone.  I have little faith that our structure will remain standing during monsoon, but when they kill the tree we can say that at least we tried.  

We also trimmed some spent palm fronds from the trees we can reach.  The stalk of the frond is really amazing.  Look at those thorns.  They have sort of a wave pattern.  They're also extremely sharp.

The trichocereus are blooming in the neighborhood.  They're different than the ones in the RV park where we used to stay.  Those would bloom at night and be dead by noon the next day.  These open, close at night, and then reopen.  Pretty cool.


And now, news you can use.  There is a helium shortage.  Party City closed 49 stores because they couldn't get helium for balloons.  Beyond the impacts to the balloon business, it also impacts MRI machines, semiconductor manufacturing and other important stuff.  I copied this out of an abc site.  It has too much video and some really icky ads so I'm not linking to it.

Where does helium come from?

Helium is the second-most abundant element in the universe, but to be of economic use, it must first be extracted from natural gas sources. All natural gas has some helium in it but only those sources with 0.01% helium by volume are considered economically extractable helium sources. Known sources of global production are in the Middle East (Qatar), the United States (Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas), Russia, Australia, Poland, and Canada.

What is it used in (besides balloons)?

There are many important uses for helium. Helium is used in MRIs, semiconductor manufacturing, fiber-optic manufacturing, aerospace applications (welding, leak testing, and pressurization), rocket propulsion, and deep sea diving, to name a few examples. The element also has military applications.
So - no balloons for you.

Shortly after hitting publish, 15 to 20 Javelinas went through the back yard.  They go through the yard of the neighbor behind us.  He did not put a wall up around his yard.  Usually they go through the wash, but today they climbed the bank and went through our hedge and out the other side.  They were moving fast, so pictures are blurry.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Good Skies - Pretty Pictures

Greetings Earthlings.  I have not shuffled off this mortal coil, I just don't have too much to say at present.  In light of the current constitutional crisis, the executive branch's brazen defiance of the will of the legislative branch and a few more shootings of unarmed citizens - I just do not have anything original or erudite to add.  Oh, and there is the matter of one million species about to be extincted, changing the planet for bad and probably extincting us, as well.  It's a good time to be old.

We did have some glorious weather.  A low sitting off the coast sent us a cool air mass and clear skies.   It was just delightful.

The saguaros are opening and are quite attractive.  They're hard to photograph because they are so tall.

The last of the chollas.  They're pretty much done.

The sky last night was pretty cool.  There were enough clouds to make some color.

That's it!  Back on your heads and carry on.