Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

I'm cheating on this pix--it didn't come from the neighborhood.   I tried to get a picture of our local fireworks, but the neighbor's trees have grown too tall.   When we first bought here, the trees were tiny versions of themselves.  At holiday time we would pull our lawn chairs to the sidewalk and watch the fireworks from the comfort of our front yard.  
Lately we have had to stand to watch, and this year even that didn't work very well.    I could only see the top third of the fireworks over the tree canopy.   Plus someone added a streetlight that is strategically placed to block the best ones.
So this picture actually came from Second Life.   My very good friend Grey Lupindo took it there and sent it to me.  They know how to do fireworks in the metaverse!

Even though the firework watching didn't work out, I was able to meet my neighbor on the sidewalk and catch up.   This time of year in the desert is like the winter in the East.  Everyone tends to do inside activities except in the very early morning and after it cools in the evening.   She had been out  for an evening walk as I was standing on the sidewalk staring at the sky.   It was good to chat and catch up.

We had a very nice Holiday weekend.   There's a new Japanese restaurant, Hayashi, that we checked out with our other friends.   Very different from our usual Mexican or Bar-B-Que picks.  I had some excellent shrimp.  We'll go there again when we get a chance.   

I listened to a reading of the Declaration of Independence for my official holiday celebration.  If you haven't looked at it or the Constitution for a while, take a peek.  So often the country seems to be cracking under the weight of the politics.  It's good to remember the foundation.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Quail Corner

   There's a new family in town.  Potentially, at least.   Kent found a nest of Gambel's Quail in the flower pot at the entrance to the courtyard.   This is right below the spot where the house finches nested earlier this year.   A popular spot.  

Gambel's Quail are interesting desert birds and very plentiful here.
They usually travel in a group with a couple of males acting as look-outs for the group.  Although they usually walk and won't fly unless startled, the sentry males will fly to the roof top to get a good look-see.   You have to admire that kind of dedication.

I didn't see as many baby quail as I normally see this year.  Last year we had a batch that nested in the courtyard in a larger flower pot.  They were hatched and gone within a day or two of Memorial Day.   This year that pot was empty.   So now we may be privileged to have some late-nesters.  

I counted 7 eggs today.  Usually they lay about a dozen or so, one egg a day.  Then momma quail sits on the nest for a while.  I'm not sure how long.  Suddenly in one day they all hatch and are almost immediately out running around.  The desert isn't a good place for tasty little creatures to linger too long. Lizards, coyotes, and bigger birds are always on the hunt.   In fact, we have two courtyard lizards that would probably eat the eggs if given half a chance.    

Newly hatched baby quail look like puffballs balanced on matchsticks.   They blend so well into the gravel that I have never been able to get a decent picture of them.   They grow rapidly.  

There was a batch that came to the water feature everyday earlier this spring.  While the chicks were very small, the adults kept them away from the water.   When they were a bit bigger and able to fly they climbed onto the top ledge to sip water that had pooled in the rock crevices.  We only run the water feature once a day, in the afternoon, but there is a trickle of water that flows continually.  That way the wildlife can drink without getting blasted off the water feature by the actual water falls.   Kent just installed this system recently, and the birds love it.

Right now I worry about whether this particular flower pot was a good choice.  It is right by the walkway that we use to come and go from the house.   We have been hunkered down avoiding the heat recently, but we still come and go through there.  Plus Kent walks by it everyday as he waters the plants.  I would think they could have chosen a quieter spot.   I'm concerned that they will abandon the eggs. 

But what do I know?   I have yet to hatch my first batch of quail.  Maybe Momma Quail does know best.  I hope so.  

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Happy Birthday to Me!

     June 29 was my birthday, and it was a very good one.   Since I love ice cream, I wanted a Hot Fudge sundae instead of the traditional cake.   Yummy!    Pizza was on the menu for my birthday dinner, at my request.  
     Three of us at work have birthdays that are close together so we celebrate them all at the same time. We had Kentucky Fried Chicken with all of the trimmings. Thanks, Dorothy! It was great. Most of us don't get KFC very often so it was a super treat.
      My son called me that evening to wish me a Happy Birthday.  It's always great to chat with him.  A few other good friends mailed cards, e-mailed or Facebooked their greetings.   Technology has definitely expanded the ways we can keep in touch.   
      At the end of the day I was thinking about my Mother, who turned 95 in May.   This was my 59th birthday.   If there are any Numerologists out there, let me know if this is a lucky sign.  (If it isn't, you don't need to write.)    
      We have both seen a lot of changes in our lifetime.   More for Mother, of course, but it is amazing to consider all of the new things that have occurred.   Computers would have to top my list.  I got a new one for my birthday, and it is fantastic.   More about it soon.   
      So now I am working toward the big 6-0 milestone next year.   Hmmm.  Maybe for that one I'll splurge on a banana split.