Thursday, 31 March 2011


I was going to post today, but UPS just arrived with a box of new books, one that I have been waiting for for a long time.  Catch you later.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


219/365  This is a view of the sidewall of Sabino Canyon in Tucson.  The tall spindly cacti are saguaro and when you are close to them they are very tall and not spindly at all.  I find it most improbable that these giants of the desert choose to grow on tiny rock ledges way, way up a canyon wall.  You pronounce the name sah wher o. Sort of.

220/3675  Here is a closer look.
221/365  You have to see this to really believe it

222/365  This is a barrel cactus - that has just finished blooming.  This one is about three feet tall.

223/365  Woodpeckers make holes in the saguaro and they and other birds nest in the holes.  I think there is a bird in the right hand hole - I took a series because the wretch kept popping in and out.  Thw hole was about twenty feet in the air.  Thank goodness for aperture priority.

224/365  A close up of the blossom bud on a cholla (choy ya).

Okay.  Fixed that, dearest of my critics.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


On a day in mid-March, when a mixture of soggy snow, thick mud and rain (again) was making me grumpy, the YD phoned and said " I need sun!"  It was quickly agreed that we both needed a break and after a short negotiation we decided on Arizona as the best bet for warmth and dry.  The fact that a drain is pouring water into the cactus bed outside my window, here in Tucson, does not make our destination  a mistake.  We arrived Wednesday night last week and have had glorious sun and warm dry weather right up till this afternoon.  If it doesn't clear tomorrow, we have all of indoor Tucson to play in.
We opted for sunny and scenic and have spent the last five days on a small ranch a bit west and south of Chiricachua National Monument, of which more below.  What we got as a bonus was the biggest full moon to appear in some years, and perfect dry air through which to admire it.  This shot is one night before full.

210/365   Also one night before full.  I have lots of tries for fully full night, but it was full dark and I only had a monopod with me, so none of what I took is much good.  There is one funny one where the moon is falling out of the sky because I shifted the camera too soon.  I may put it up later in a post entitled 'oops'.

211/365.  The ranch is also a bird oasis.  There is a small pond and enough water from the Turkey Creek to run fountains and bird baths.  There is also enough water for a few full sized trees, and the small birds congregate in large numbers, sparrows, finches, doves, red-wing blackbirds and this guy, that I think is a waxwing. 

212/365  This shot is one of the fountains, taken at close range and cropped. 

213/365  The edge of the pond where Turkey Creek is dammed.  The water is very low because the region has not had any winter rains this year.  There is a flock of cranky tame geese stamping around in the dusty verges, grumbling.

214/365  The YD said she was not sure what this was supposed to be, but I figured it was an easy call.  Bird on crossed wires.  No?  You had better appreciate this, because I  had to stomp through a lot of dry and possibly rattlesnake concealing grass to get the angle right.

215/365  This is the YD surveying the rock formations inside Chiricachua National Monument.  We took a lot of pictures up here - the YD on a long solo hike one day and, after she complained that she was not getting the colour correctly, both of us with my trusty D90 and a lot of different settings.  The path she made me walk to get to this viewpoint filled me with terror.  And frustration when YD and other tourists just strolled along on the parts where my acrophbia was worst.

216/365  The rock formations have eroded from the rock formed by an ancient vocano's eruption and you can see all sorts of forms and faces in them.

This is me clutching two hiking poles and enjoying a short patch of wide trail, in between places where the poor YD had to haul me up and down and carry the camera.

217/365  Sunset across the plain between the Dragoon and Chiracahua Mountain ranges.  A nice border patrol guy stopped to see if we were okay as we took these.

218/365  The view out of our casa window at the ranch.  This place is a birders' and hikers' paradise - they also have trail bikes, mountain bikes and horses.  And friendly chickens.  Highly recommended.

 This is the YD's photo.  Sun and sky and most improbably mustard-coloured grass.  Or maybe lemon-coloured.  I am not sure we did it justice although we tried.
I have more tries at the grass, and a whole day's worth of photos yet to download, but that is going to have to be a new post, because I am getting po-ed with the laptop.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

A teasel (teazel, teazle) is a plant that flowers in egg-shaped, dense, spiny heads with long, slender, stiff, prickly bracts below the head and numerous, short, stiff bristles within the head, the flower heads maturing into hard, brown, stiff-spined structures that were used for teasing and carding wool (hence the common name). Flowers from July to September. Teasel occurs throughout southern Ontario in waste areas, meadows, roadsides, and sometimes in cultivated land, usually in moist areas and on coarse soils. (Source, Govt. of Ontario Ministry of Agriculture.)

I don't know whether our plant is an immigrant or native, but similar plants occur in Great Britain and Europe and have been used for carding, time out of mind. Thus the Miriam Webster definition - teased TEASE/ transitive verb:
  • to disentangle and lay parallel by combing or carding, to tear in pieces; especially to shred (a tissue or specimen) for microscopic examination;
  • to disturb or annoy by persistent irritating or provoking especially in a petty or mischievous way, to annoy with petty persistent requests, pester or coax;
  • to comb (hair) by taking hold of a strand and pushing the short hairs toward the scalp with the comb;
  • to tantalize especially by arousing desire or curiosity often without intending to satisfy it.
It's the second definition that is occupying my mind this evening. I am good and tired of being poked with spiny comments.

My mother sometimes said, sadly, that she hated her grandfather when she was a small girl. He was a great man for teasing children, sometimes to the point of tears, and then by the gift of a candy or coin buying, he thought, complete forgiveness. She loathed the teasing, steered clear of the man when she could, and never forgot or forgave him. In consequence, she never teased, not even her hair. And aside from the Christmas game of guess-the-gift, I don't do it either.

Women and men tease differently, I think. Little girls tantalize one another with secrets, gangs and whispers. Little boys tend to pull hair, shriek insults and, in my long ago and antique childhood, dip pigtails in inkwells. (Yes, I am that old.) And although this type of action becomes more sophisticated in an adult, the impulse persists in many people, long after they are old enough to know better. I wonder, sometimes, if adult male teasing is a way of expressing affection without becoming vulnerable by showing the underlying emotion. I wonder that about my great grandfather who, I assume, was brought up in the nineteenth century to be 'manly' and strong. I wonder if his actions, so wounding to his granddaughter, were the only way he could show he noticed her.

My maternal grandfather made me plasticine rabbits and rescued me from my grandmother's hens. My paternal grandfather taught me to play euchre, cribbage and poker and slipped me quarters (big money in 1949) when my mother spanked me. I was a precocious only child, bewildered by playground teasing and far too prone to hide in a book. A lot of the vicious girl gang warfare of late childhood simply went over my head. I remember some insults from high school, but I have never been able to figure out what the people who gave them out thought they would gain.

And then I went and married a man who likes, from time to time, to tease. His teasing is quite gentle and isn't petty or overly aggressive. But it does disturb and annoy me, so I guess it fits the definition. And I can't seem to be able to explain why I am disturbed or annoyed in a way that he can understand. The comments he means, I am sure, to be amusing always seem to come from around a corner and catch me unaware. I feel insecure and inadequate. Then I realize I am being teased and he doesn't mean it. Maybe I don't have any sense of humour. Maybe I wasn't properly seasoned as a child and teen. Maybe he is trying to tell me something indirectly. Maybe some day he won't do it any more.
Maybe I should just pick out the sharp little spines and get on with things.

How do you feel about teasing and being teased? And what do you tell your children?

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Making Tracks

208/365  The joys of late winter.  Warm sun.  Big tractor.