Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dream a Little Dream...

The lottery is where millions of idiots make one idiot look like a genius. But when it get this high it is kind of fun to imagine ways in which your world would change or ways you could change the world...So let's hear it; what would you do with this kind of money?

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Cactus Flowers

Can't hardly go to the gardens without a few cactus & flower pictures. Today was no exception. Enjoy...

Very Unusual Saguaro

I don't know where they get them, but the Desert Botanical Gardens has some very rare saguaros. The big ones can't be cheap to move - they may weigh over 5 tons! Some saguaros crestate on the top - sometimes even the arms will crestate. This one went in two directions and now has arms developing along the crest! Wow!!

New at the Desert Botanical Gardens!

If you haven't been to the gardens recently, you may want to check it out once the weather cools off a bit - or when you come to visit! This is the new cactus and succulent exhibit replacing the old aluminum structures that were hardly tall enough to cover many of the larger specimens. Shown here are the cacti - the succulent structure is the same.

Unusual Flower

Stopped in at the Desert Botanical Gardens today for a quick look at their new cactus & succulent displays. This was one of the plants in the succulent portion. This one probably isn't more than 8" tall. Not terribly unusual in and of itself, though it is interesting.

It was the flower that caught my eye. A strange looking one that looks as though it would be more at home underwater. Then there were the strange green bumps - individual flowers? seed pods? Who knows, but definitely interesting!

This aloe was also interesting, not so much for its leaves, which are different from your typical aloe - say aloe vera perhaps, but for its flowers.
These are the flowers. I noticed there were ants all over the stalks on this. I'm not sure if they show when you click on the photo, but there are several ants here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


The osprey was once one of my favorite birds (the honors still go to the cedar waxwing). I had never been this close to one before today. Just look at those talons! I understand the bottoms of their feet are padded so they can hold fish easily while they fly. They turn the fish head first so they are more aerodynamic in flight. Eagles will sometimes make them drop the fish so they can steal them and they grab the falling fish out of the air!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

THE Itsy-Bitsy Spider

OK Anna, this is the itsy-bitsy, or eensy-weensy, spider. In this picture its on a poppy flower stem, not a water spout. Its about the the size of a thumbnail. I'm sure there are smaller spiders around, but not as easy to get a picture of. Caught this one, a crab spider, in the spring - maybe a year and a half ago in the spring.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Busy Spider

With the temperatures finally dipping down in the evenings, seems there's a little more active nightlife in the parks. And not just the human kind! This one was busy building a good sized web between a storage building and a trailer. Kind of interesting how only one strand of the web is visible even with a flash. Maybe that's a good illustration on how insects can't seem to see a spider web before flying into one.

Probably not the eensy weensy spider here either. About the size of a quarter or maybe just a bit bigger (with the legs). Not huge but still a respectable size.


Our BIG, white cat is named snowflake because when we got him he was pretty tiny. He's 11 now and lies around a lot. This picture struck me as interesting with the shape of the chair pieces. It's about as abstract a piece as I will likely ever get around to doing.

Barrel Cactus Flowers

This is the typical barrel cactus in our desert, the Sonoran desert. Maybe the full ring in bloom at once isn't typical but the yellow is.

This is a different kind of barrel with a red flower. It isn't large enough yet to have a ring at the top - more of a cluster.

More on the Sun Spider

This little guy was outside the office again. Perhaps I should say 'big guy' - definitely not the eensy weensy spider! This one would cover the palm of my hand. I tried to get close enough to show the huge mouth parts.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Devil's Claw

This is what a Devil's Claw looks like before its the familiar looking, dried up pod most people think of when they hear the term Devil's Claw.

Kind of looks like an out-of-place pumpkin patch here.

Nice looking flower

Here is the fruit starting to grow. The long curved part is what will eventually dry up and split open forming the 'devil's claw'

Such large leaves should be an open buffet line for a host of insects, but this one doesn't seem to have many takers. The leaves and stems have kind of dewy/sticky hairs all over - must not be very tasty. This was about all the damage I saw.

If this one makes it far enough, I'll post some pictures of the final pod, too.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Great Niece Kyrianna turned 1

While Karen was in Iowa she was able to help Kraig & Danielle and Kyrianna celebrate with family Kyrianna's first birthday. Karen says she loves Elmo (Kyrianna does, not Karen so much), so the cupcakes were perfect for the party. She's holding the candle shaped like a 1. Start doing the music for Elmo's World and she will immediately start dancing (again, Kyrianna more so than Karen).


Saw this guy on the wall by our outside light last night. Obviously taking advantage of the bugs attracted to the light. One thing about some good summer rain is that they bring out a bunch of insects.
Here's looking at you, kid!

This one is a couple years old. When we put vines up by the pool this praying mantis decided to make it home sweet home. The boys thought it was ultra-cool

Saturday, September 6, 2008

AZ Science Center

Even with background noises these had cool sounds.

Digital beaded rain. How fun. Nearly as much fun to watch as it is to play in.


Jake (how we often see him)

And after digital distortions, we did digital manipulations:

Erik - I don't know why he was picking on the French.

Erik again

Yours truly

Karen flew back to Iowa to visit her mom & brother & sister in-law and family. Hopefully, she'll bring back pictures to post this time. We men took the afternoon to visit the Arizona Science Center. They had a new exhibit of digital fun. The boys didn't want to leave it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Carpenter Bee

OK, kids - don't try this at home! Actually, this one was dead and I wanted to show how big a beak it has. That's it pointing toward the bottom of Jonathon's fingernail.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Got Milk?

This is Snowflake, our cat, who patiently waits to see if we leave anything edible on the table.

Sun Spider

Not a true spider nor a scorpion, though it is also called a wind scorpion, but an arachnid (8 legs) called a solpugid. This guy was above the door at the ranger office tonite. I didn't think much of it at first, although even with a flashlight on it it didn't run off. Later I saw it was still there and thought that was odd. It wasn't until I saw the pictures that I realized - and now wish I had stopped again and taken more - that it was molting or shedding its skin. And this guy's already a good sized one!
The very large 'legs' in front are really mouth parts that help catch insects and bring them to the crushing mouth parts. The mouth itself is really interesting. It looks like four claws. I kept one for a while back in my early days as a ranger and they are so fascinating to watch when they eat (I fed it crickets).
If you think this is creepy, don't Google the 'giant egyptian solpugid' or you might have nightmares!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Labor Day

While most families go camping or have a picnic or just spend the day relaxing, Jake decided it was time to get his Christmas tree out of the attic and put it up in his room. He's beaten the retail stores by at least a month (let's hope at least two). If it were up to him it would have been up in July already. We tried to put it off as long as possible, but really, what is it going to hurt having it up now? Hopefully, he will think more about the birth of Christ than the idea of presents throughout the holiday season - which in our house starts now.