Archive for Personal Shit

Lovebirds

IMG_8018The Peach-faced Lovebirds are back. They visit our yard every winter, arriving in group of thirty or so, and taking up accommodation in the desert willow trees behind the house.

Despite their bright coloration, we hear them before we see them.  They hide in the dense foliage of the trees, and announce their presence with their short shrill chirps.

Peach-faced LovebirdsLovebirds are not native to this area, they are from a small arid area in Africa, and have long been imported as pets. The common theory for their proliferation in the wild in the Sonoran Desert is a release (unintentional or otherwise) from a local aviary in Phoenix, AZ.

They quickly acclimated and are not dependent on handouts from people to survive in the wild. They are less shy than many of the other birds, allowing me to approach for photographic opportunities.

Peach-faced LovebirdsThey have increased their territory to New Mexico, according to some reports, but their main population seems concentrated in the Valley.  They are a nice addition to the generally earthtone birds that we see locally. They concentrate around populated residential areas.

IMG_8014Generally the introduction of an exotic species intoa new environment causes irreparable damage to the local ecosystem.  Fortunately, this does not seem to be the case with the Lovebirds. They are not encroaching on the habitat of local species, and are integrating rather nicely. This is good, since they have no natural predators in this area.

It was estimated a few years ago thatthere were hundreds in the Phoenix area, but our little enclave of thirty or so indicates to me that the population has been underestimated.

While other parrots have been released from aviaries, intentionally or otherwise, none have survived and reproduced in the wild locally. Lovebirds seem particularly acclimated to the dry desert conditions here that mimic their natural habitat.

Ringed-Neck Turtle Doves

Ring-Necked Turtle DovesWe have a variety of winged wildlife frequenting our yard. Most are desert birds, with plumage of varying shades of gray and tan. Even our hummingbirds are a Sienna brown.

The larger doves seem to control the territory, and dictate what other birds they will tolerate in their kingdom when they are around. Read more

It’s a New Year

Field and Stream TrailerIt is now 2015, and I have to get used to writing a new date. Maybe by June I will stop writing 2014 on the paperwork I sign 15 times a night at work…

This week I finally earned a week’s vacation time – and I have three days of personal time – I took one sick day this past year, and used the rest of the 40 hours during the holidays so that we could have four-day weekends.

It is almost 80 degrees today – as the Midwest and the Northeast are getting hammered with a cold front. We had our snow last week – and two days of frost – our winter is over!

I continue with demolition of the inside of the trailer – half of the interior walls have been ripped out, exposing the skeleton. It appears that a run to the landfill will be in order later this week.

 

Happy New Year

IMG_7828Snow on the Superstitions

The last time the Superstitions had a cap of snow was two years ago; Liz and my first winter here.

Prior to that snow, it was 35 years since the last snow. Read more

A Year In Review – or, “I made the mistake of looking back.”

shooting

Target shooting in the desert

The year started meek and mild – the temperatures were warm enough in January that I was wearing a tank top when I took Liz shooting in the desert.

I started a new job in January with a major home improvement operation, on the merchandising Team. On the plus side: 40-hours a week and generous benefits. On the minus side: I work nights, and the pay-scale is retail grade.

Read more

Stowaway

desert pack ratI suspected we had a stowaway in the Field and Stream trailer we recently acquired when I noticed new debris scattered on the freshly swept floor every day.

Jade had been frantically sniffing and inspecting the trailer, and we were going to get a Havahart trap to capture the beast.

Pack rats are cute, but a real nuisance. Beside carryng disease such as plague, they wreak havoc on wiring and love to steal shiny objects.

Jade cornered this little fellow, about five inches long – not including his tail – and I was able to capture him. I have him safely contained, I hope, until tomorrow when I can relocate him back to the desert where he will be able to live a hopefully long and happy life away from humans.

Packrats – the original hoarders…

My latest projectThis week we bought two used tires to replace the dry-rotted tires on the trailer, which was parked temporarily at Mike and Tami’s.

Mike has an impact wrench and a heavy-duty hydraulic jack, which made changing tires almost a cinch. I say almost – the original trailer tires had a slim profile, which allowed them to slide under the sides of the trailer easily.  The modern profile tires proved a bit of a challenge to squeeze into a space into which they di not really fit.  The first wheel evoked quite a bit of cursing on my part – but after we figured out the trick, the second side went much more smoothly. Read more

Winter is just a week away…

clouds 2Winter in the Sonoran Desert… this will be my third.

The first winter offered up lots of precipitation – it even snowed once. That was the first snow in thirty years.

Last year we barely had to turn the heat on, it was so mild. We have had the heat on a couple of times this year – and I owe most of that to our blood being thinner and unable to take the cold. I used to work outside in short sleeves in this weather!  I now consider 65° chilly.

The cloud formations this week have been nothing short of exceptional, bordering on apocalyptic. Last night Liz and I hopped in the car to get some photographs, as the mountain was changing color minute by minute. As we turned the corner onto the Apache Trail – the sky turned gray and the mountain black – that quickly!

I did all of my chores yesterday – so today I just relax before going into work at 9PM. Tomorrow we tow the new (really old) trailer home – I am sure that I will have news to post on that escapade, once we get the trailer secured in the back yard.

Clouds

cloud capped Superstitions

Cloud-capped Superstitions

It’s the weekend! Well, it is the middle of my weekend – working hoot-owl has its drawbacks such as having to be on the job at 9PM on a Sunday evening.

It is December, and we are entering the rainy season in the desert. Yes, we do get rain other than Monsoon. The winter rains are generally more gentle, and more drenching.

This front ushered in from California, which is now getting much-needed rain.

As the clouds push eastward, they are halted by the mountains. As I sit on the patio writing, there is blue sky overhead with sporadic cumulus balls of cotton overhead, with intermittent sprinkles.

Liz is working this weekend; the museum has a big event on Sunday. I did some repair work on her car this morning. I checked out the trailer to see how it fared under the rain. There are a couple damp spots, which I expected, but no severe leaks. Monday we are buying two tires, and will tow it to our yard. Then the fun stuff will begin.

CATS

catsThe two mortal enemies are finally accepting that they have to share space.

Natasha is still not too happy that she has to share her house with Samantha. Sam just wants to be friends, but being a kitten she likes to play. Tasha simply likes to sleep in peace.

They hang out together outdoors, and Tasha has taught Sam bad tricks, such as jumping onto the roof of the house, thus gaining access outside the walled-in back yard.

And now, more and more often, the two will sleep together. Natasha, however, always makes sure her back is to the kitten.