First, an update on our injured Cooper Hawk.  We released him on our property last Wednesday.  He got out of the box we’d transported him in…seemed a little confused, then with some encouragement (Fred shoved the box at him) he flew up to the top of our tractor.  We left him there, to reacclimate, and when we went to look for him 30 minutes later, he was gone….hopefully reunited with his family.

Fred also spotted a desert tortoise out for his evening stroll in our front yard (no, he wasn’t walking on his hind feet…I just can’t figure out how to re-position the photo)

Summer has also brought new growth to many of the plants; this barrel cactus is getting its second blooms, and they’re a vibrant coral, while in the spring they are yellow.

This prickly pear is bearing fruit….I know people who have made jelly from it but after my effort to cure olives 20 years ago, I think I’ll rest on my laurels.

And our fruit trees are getting ready for the next crop.  None for two years due to the frost damage of 2010.  But here’s our orange tree….with a green orange

And with apologies to Joyce Kilmer, he may have thought he’d “never see a poem lovely as a tree”… if you want something really bizzaro, look no further than the nearest saguaro!

Lotsa arms (or are they?:)

Mama Cactus?

And the temperature as recorded on our dashboard yesterday!

You’re darn tootin’ it’s hot here!

Off to Chicago next week!

Well, we’ve had a couple of exciting days….at least compared to the last couple of weeks.

First, a bird (later identified as a Cooper Hawk) flew into our glass front doorway.  Apparently they see the sky reflected in the glass, and don’t realize it’s a reflection.  As someone who’s walked into glass or screen doors, I can identify.  Here’s the poor guy laying outside our door. 

We called Tucson Wildlife (www.tucsonwildlife.com) and they came to rescue him within the hour.  As of last night, they said he was eating, drinking and jumping on and off of a perch, but wasn’t flying yet.  They think he may have suffered some soft tissue damage, or had a concussion.  But they are optimistic that he will recover…..by the way, I don’t know if it’s really a “he” but whatever the gender, hope the poor thing makes a full recovery!

And the monsoons are well under way.   One of the definitions I found that does not limit monsoons to India says they are: “seasonal changes in wind and precipitation patterns. Monsoonal winds and rains occur all over the planet, and can cause severe torms.”

Pretty accurate summary…..but last night, in addition to torrential rains, we also had thunder and lightning.  The TV screen flashed and we lost our satellite connection for about 15-20 minutes.  It eventually came back, but our brand new master-remote, and the system’s “brain” (as our AV guy calls it) suffered damage.  We thought that was the extent it, until Fred discovered pieces of brick on our back patio area this morning.  And then saw a large chunk of our brick wall laying on the roof.  LJ came by, climbed up our ladder and brought it down.  Quite a hunk of concrete!

If it’s not edible, Maya’s not interested.

   We then saw the spot it had come from…way up high, a corner of the the peripet. 

No rain today, but I can’t let the subject of this blog end without a tribute to Lou Christie singing the title of this entry 🙂

Fred and I went to New York for a week; my college roommate’s youngest daughter (of six kids!) was getting married outside of Utica, in the Adirondacks.  We spent two lovely days there.  Very lush and very green!  Weather was perfect and not one misquito bite!  Here is a photo of me, Annie (mother of the bride) and Virginia, another good college chum.  Amazing to think that I was Annie’s bridesmaid 39 years ago this summer!! 

We then took Amtrak from Utica to Penn Station, for a few days of “big city” life.  Went to the Neue Gallery (famous for its Klimts), MOMA, the Met, and the Botannical Gardens in the Bronx where they had a special “Giverney” exhibit.  We’ve been to the real one outside of Paris, but this was a reasonable facsimile.  Here are some photos:

Not sure if this was a joke or not?

This installation left me speechless….and I never did find the bullet hole?

Then returned home to the start (finally!) of the monsoon season in Tucson. The sky darkens and then the pouring rains come for about 15-30 minutes. Temperature drops about 20 degrees and all is fresh and green afterward. No great lightning storms yet….assume they will be arriving soon.

It’s hard to complain about the heat here when so much of the country is having record-breaking temperatures, PLUS humidity.  But our first “monsoon” storm arrived this afternoon, shortly after 3 p.m. The dark clouds were ominous over the city  and when they opened up, it rained, very hard, for about 15 minutes.  Not a record in any way, but enough to cool the temperatures to a current 73 degrees (23 degrees cooler than Chicago right now).

 

We will be leaving for upstate NY and NYC tomorrow morning….anticipating hot and steamy temps there but lots of air-conditioned museums and shops to escape to!   Happy Fourth of July, all! Image

Fred and I drove up to Mt. Lemmon yesterday.  Mt. Lemmon is  the highest peak of the Santa Catalina Mountains,  with an elevation of over 9,000 feet. The mountain is named after 19th Century botanist Sara Lemmon.   During the winter, it offers the southern most ski resort in North America.  During the summer, it offers temperatures typically about 20 degrees cooler than Tucson’s.  As it was another scorcher of a week, we thought it would be a nice day trip.  About one third of the way up, the saguaro cacti disappear and are eventually replaced by Ponderosa Pine trees!  I believe there are about seven different climate zones on the way up.

Ten years ago next year, much of Mt. Lemmon and its residential community of Summerhaven, were destroyed by the Aspen fire.  We happened to be in Tucson that 4th of July weekend and experienced the smoke and floating pieces of soot in the air, and could see the orange glow of the fire at night,  one ridge-line away from our house.  In fact, we were evacuated two of the five nights we were here.   A bright orange ” Sheriff’s Order” sticker posted on our front door greeted us when we arrived.  Turns out they cannot legally make you leave, but it’s a frightening enough to encourage all but the most foolhardy to “vamoos”.

Here are some of the photos I took:

Here is a sign when you have almost reached Mt. Lemmon

Here is what Mt. Lemmon should look like (and thankfully much of it still does)

Almost ten years since the fire, and much of the damage remains

This sign says it all

Water is a very precious commodity (or actually it’s NOT a commodity) in the desert. Tucson gets about 12″ of rainfall annually; Chicago gets 36″ and Seattle 38″. Of course, these numbers are based on 30 year averages, and I don’t think we are hitting “average” on anything to do with climate any more.

We recently met some people who recycle ALL the water they use and collect the little rainwater we get in Arizona. They don’t even have “flush” toilets, but rather some kind of incinerator that burns up the waste (I’ll spare you more details). Then we met a couple last night who have a garden where they grow all kinds of vegetables that devour water. The husband said “each ear of corn probably costs me an additional $40 in water bills!” I think I’m somewhere inbetween. I am very aware of using water when I rinse out cans, or take a shower. But not sure how I can cut back much more (and stay “hygenically” acceptable).

So I decided to experiment and see how fast water would evaporate. Put out a measuring cup with one full cup of water in it yesterday at noon. 24 hours later it was half gone. Even feeling a little guilt about that but it was all in the name of science 🙂

I’m NOT feeling guilty about running the A/C at about 74 degrees, as we put in solar panels two years ago and our electric bill as under $10 a month all winter. A little higher now, but still significant savings.  Here is a picture of our 64 :

“Heat” song for the week: Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” but after listening to the lyrics carefully, I don’t think she was referring to the weather 🙂

Image

Here was the weekly forecast as of Monday.  Thankfully, it only reached the 90’s on Monday. 

We bought one of those windshield shields for the car, as it’s basically a reflector, it’s almost too hot to handle when you try to remove after several hours in the sun.  And to think I used to use a reflector (and iodine tinted baby oil) to bake myself in the sun, 30+ years ago!

Am headed back to Chicago for two days next week.  Will have to switch gears and watch for i-phone thieves at bus stops instead of rattle snakes under rocks!  BIG CITY, here I come! 

Song for the day “Heat Wave” by Martha and The Vandellas (what IS a Vandella?)

and movie for the day “Body Heat” starring Kathleen Turner and William Hurt: Kathleen and William sweat it out.