Monday, March 30, 2009

Rock Escheveria

A hike up South Mountain Park's Kiwanis Trail (and then across the road and up a short ways) will get you along side a few of these Escheverias. They aren't very big - the largest I saw was only about 4" across, though I have seen them something close to 8"

Flowers on stalks

Trailing 4 O'Clock

A hearty survivor, at least this particular plant, I have seen this flower over the years at pretty much the same place in South Mountain Park for well over 10 years. Obviously a low-lying plant with a small flower.
Closer up it looks as though the leaves are thick with dust, and that may be the case after the big winds we had last Thursday.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


A strange name, yes. Usually much smaller of a plant than the similarly curled fiddleneck, it's flower is slightly larger.

There's something about seeing bluish - purple flowers that make them seem so spectacular. I guess its the general lack of it in most of nature apart from the sky.


There are a number of types of cholla. This one is either a buckhorn or staghorn. Fairly close either way and right now I'm too lazy to look up the difference. (I'm leaning toward buckhorn).
One with three unopened buds.

With a partially opened bud.

The native bee dives right into the flower and practically swims inside. Look how full the pollen sacks are on the rear legs.

Another 'Front Yard' Cactus

Meaning I don't have the name right off for this one. It is flowering for the first time this year.


Here is the first of the native cacti to bloom in the spring. One of the richest in color as well.

One of my coworkers thinks if anyone needs proof of the existence of God, they just need to look to this beauty and they would have to realize that nothing this striking could come about by pure chance.

Golden Barrel

You generally see the golden barrels about 6" across. It takes them quite some time to get about knee-high, but then they start to flower.
Here's a look at the growth center. Flowers come up in a spiral around the center, though I don't think I've ever seen a complete ring of flowers on one of these.

And the close up shot. Really a nice flower that is often lost amidst all the yellow/gold of the spines.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Well, I went on Facebook and signed up. I hope that won't mean fewer posts here! Still cranking away on the house and will keep posting pictures here. But feel free to contact me on facebook if you like!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blast From the Past - 1963

I couldn't say exactly when this photo was taken, but I would lay pretty good odds it was well after New Year's as I wouldn't have been quite one year old then. The date the photo was developed was in May of '63. I doubt I was walking much before I was one, but you never know... Anyone with good sleuthing skills would be able to identify the month by the Reader's Digest and Banner issues in the magazine rack. Don't you just love the carpet & drapes?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tucson - World Wildlife Museum

Some faovorites from the World Wildlife Museum (also free with a Science Center membership - those memberships are paying off!).
Karen's favorite: anything with both the boys in it.

Jake's favorite (he took the picture)

Erik's favorite: A rather unusual half male-half female butterfly
My favorite: anything with cats in it. It was a toss up between these, the tiger and the snow leopard.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tucson - Reid Park Zoo

Our Phoenix Zoo membership allows us entry to other zoos and Tucson's Reid Park is one of them. Turns out we could saved a bundle when in Omaha a couple years back if we had been members then! Reid is quite small, yet it is put together very nicely.


Playful otters.

It doesn't have a huge variety of animals and the enclosures are on the small side, but that means the animals are closer for viewing!

Being warm to hot through much of the year, there is always the need to cool off. Jake loved the 'spitting mask' in "Kenya Get Wet."
They had an aviary here, too. Erik had to find each bird listed before we could leave there. Peacocks have free-roam at the zoo and this albino was quite willing to show off a little.

Tucson - Sonoran Desert Museum

This guy was sitting on the rock almost as if he were saying, 'Step right up! This way to see the amazing reptiles.'
And of course, snakes top the billing in the great reptile show.

black rattlesnake speckled rattlesnake

The aviary was really nice. Many birds seemed almost at home in the large enclosure. Perhaps too many doves, but the kids didn't mind that at all.

Pyrrhuloxia or 'grey cardinal' were all over the place. I saw a cardinal in there also, but it was deep in a bush and I couldn't get a shot of it.
Down in the 'cave' they had lots of minerals. In rich ore it only takes about 18 pounds of rock to extract enough copper to make a penny. In poor ore it is more like one or two tons! Here's Erik by a copper cube.
We didn't realize this place opened at 7:30 a.m. or we would have been there about that early. Jake is our early riser and by the time we got there at around 10 a.m. it was already getting warm. Even so, we managed almost 3 hours and didn't get to see nearly everything.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Touch o' Green

We just got back from Tucson for a quick get-away while the kids are on Spring Break. Thought it appropriate to start the shots with this touch o' green.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On the Wing

You should be able to click on these pictures for a larger view.

Catching a bee in flight isn't so difficult. I just thought there was an interesting look to the reflections on the left wing. Almost as though the wing was spinning to some degree.

The hummer wings do spin to some degree. I understand they rotate the wing plane so they get lift from both the forward and backward stroke, and that is how they can hover. I would guess the same must be true for the bee.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Turtle Time! Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!!

OK, We finally got our forms for the big Turtle Race. You may sponsor a turtle for $10, a 'nest' of turtles (5) for $50 or a 'bale' of turtles (10) for $100. Checks made out to Bethany Christian School or, the easier option, click on the underlined link and submit electronically (don't forget to include Erik under student name). This is for the big race with all the small turtles competing in one big lazy river.

Corporate or business sponsors have their own race with big turtles. As the turtles float by, they are announced for the crowd several times throughout the race and are listed in the program for the evening's festivities. These turtles are available for $100 each. And, as promised, those who sponsor the big turtles will also have their businesses mentioned and linked to if you wish right here on our WORLD-reknowned blog. That's a lot of free advertising!! We will need to know by mid-April, so get in on the action SOON!!

Obviously this is a fundraiser for the school. There are prizes to be won - $2000 travel voucher is the grand-prize!! For the other prizes you may need to visit to collect, or you could donate your prize(s) to a worthy family (hint, hint).


Give them water and brittlebush can grow into a pretty large shrub, but normally it doesn't get much bigger than 3' x 3'. The flowers grow on long, thin stalks atop the plant. The flowers are some of the larger desert wildflowers and usually quite numerous on any given bush.

You can see how thin the stalks are here.

And a closer look:

Almost forgot to mention; the name 'brittlebush' is due to the brittle nature of the branches which snap off easily.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


There are other flower with a similar spiral, but they are usually somewhat smaller than the fiddleneck. The size varies from barely above ground to past the knee depending on location, rainfall and temperatures.
Tiny, yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers appear toward the top of the spiral which continues to unfurl as the plant grows. Hairy nettles appear on the stems, the leaves and the base of the flower (and eventually the seed casing). They help protect the plant from most predators - at least the larger ones.
A super-close shot.

Teeny Critters

We'll start with this one, because the rest get a little better each time. I didn't see this one right away, and the tiny aphid I almost missed completely. The larger insect looking downward is a lacewing, I am pretty sure of that. It is smaller than most other lacewings I've seen, but they must grow from a smaller size to what I would term 'normal' size. Anyhow this one is about a third of 'normal' for green lacewings. They are helpful insects to have around as they tend to eat garden pests such as aphids. Lower middle of the picture you can make out the rear end of a lone aphid, probably about to become lunch.

I did my best to follow this tiny mite. Spider mite? The bright red made it easy to spot, even though it would barely cover the period at the end of this sentance, but would also fit inside the hole in the number8.

I don't know if it was trying to hide from me, but it was motionless as I first approached. Once I started trying to take pictures it started moving to the underside of the leaves and branches. With such a small range of focus, it took several attempts to get anything near decent. These are very tight crops of larger pictures to give you an indication of just how tiny this thing is.

I really don't know what type of fly this is, but it is very tiny. The middle part of the flower is maybe as big around a pencil eraser. The fly could easily fit inside a straw. Maybe someone with a little more background in bugwatching can help.

Here is the crab spider from the desert marigold picture a few posts ago. I cropped it tight in case it is too difficult to make out on the other post. This little guy could possibly stretch those long forelegs across my thumbnail.

Here is a good example of why lacewings and lady bugs are so helpful. One aphid isn't going to damage a healthy plant too terribly much. Take a large family of hungry aphids and allow them to raise their young and the plant isn't going to survive without some intervention. I thought these were flowers at first glance.

Friday, March 6, 2009


A member of the ragweed family, so if you have allergies, this is a nasty culprit. Usually about 1' - 2' high and up to 3' across. This one is heavy with blooms.
Here's a branch with a number of teeny, tiny flowers. You would hardly think such a small flower could produce anything to cause allergy problems. Allergens, perhaps, but problems? And the reason it is called bur-sage is the seed casing is a burr. There are a couple forming at the base of the branch. They trun brown and have velcro-like hooks that attach to animal fur or anything else brushing by.
Here is my hand after one tap from the branch above. I've walked in washes and come out with yellow pollen streaks on my pant legs.

Another Globemallow

Not a lot of color variety just yet, but here's a pinkish one. I've seen them white, light-blue(ish), and very red besides the typical orange - light orange.