Sunday, February 27, 2011

Yes! Arizona does have seasons.

Winter rain in the night often means snow in the mountains outside my window in the morning light.

Ralph wears his parka and Buddy wears his fur coat.

We drive south to Amado with snow on the windshield.

We watch as the PGA Match play just north of Tucson is stopped momentarily for hail.

Rule: You may swipe the hail away from the line of your putt with your towel.
A rule I will never need to know cuz I wouldn't
be out there.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Birding with a spotting scope

Birding with a spotting scope is a neat thing.
I don't have one. Too expensive and to bulky to shlep around. But it is handy to have a sister that has one. Although she made me carry it.

These photos are taken with the camera, any camera really, set lightly into the scope as not to move it off the bird.

#1 the acorn woodpecker

#2 The little Least Grebe

#3 Mr. and Mrs. Northern Shoveler

#4 The Red-Naped Sap Sucker

#5 A male Gadwall hanging out
with the male Shoveler.

Note the similarity between the female Shoveler and the male Gadwall.
Check out the bill and the back feathers. Both have orange legs. Maybe Mr.
Shoveler got confused.

Camera is a Lumix DMC-ZS7, Scope is a Swarovski 65mm with a 20-60 X eye piece. Pics were probably taken at about 30X magnification.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pena Blanca Lake, Wrens and Grebe

Went to Pena Blanca Lake today. Pena in Spanish means 'sadness' among other similar words.
This lake was dried up for some years due to lead poisoning; possibly due to fishing with lead sinkers and mining. I first went here 20+ years ago and there was a log cabin store with a little German restaurant. That is long gone. In very recent time the lake has been restored by the Coronado National Forest and the Friends of Pena Blanca Lake.
The Audubon rare bird list had said that the least Grebe was sited there. And indeed 3 were spotted.
This is the smallest (little round fluffy) of the
North American Grebes.

Numerous ducks were there, the Ring Necked and
the Buffle Head as well as the ever present Shovelers.

Wrens were heard and sited foraging along the shore line in the weeks as grasses.
Much time and discussion was spent differentiating the three species that were there.
The Sedge, the Marsh and the Bewicks Wrens. Seen here in that order.
Wren photos from Google Images

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Birds at Sweetwater, Tucson

Beautiful day birding at Sweetwater Wetlands.
Total number of species was about 36. Here are the ones that were pleasant surprises.
The common moorhen.
The most common rail was chasing the coots.

The black and white warbler delighted us
with flights hither and yon.

The female summer tanager was vocalizing and alerting everyone to her presence.

The Nashville warbler was looked at closely,
bird books opened and with heads together
the birders came up with this identification.

Woodpeckers included a red shafted flicker,
the ladderback and this busy Red Naped Sap Sucker.

And the most delightful to me was the Common Yellow Throat that would peek out from the reeds and flash his black mask.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oscar nominations for feature animation

Those of you that read my blog know my feelings about animation. If you don't go because you "don't do cartoons" you are missing a very enjoyable and visual art form.

I have seen these 3 contenders for the Oscar. This would be my order of three of the best.

#1 - How to Train Your Dragon
#2 - The Illusionist
#3- Toy Story 3

Today I saw "The Illusionist", by far the most beautifully drawn, with the best musical score and an endearing story. From France, this is a story told with minimal dialogue. The animation and the music tell the story. What little language there is, is French, English and Gaelic. Translation is not necessary, IMO. A French magician who performs his act in vaudeville like venues is being replaced by rock and roll stage performers. To find work he ends up in Edinburgh, Scotland. On the way he meets a young woman who goes along with him. The story is one of changing times, an old man who understands this and a young girl who matures into a young woman. By the film makers of "The Triplets of Belville"; one of my favorites. 4****

As far as the most enjoyable, my favorite would be "How to Train Your Dragon". Also nominated for best music. This also is great animation, but quite different. It is a story with a moral. That is you don't have to be mean and weld a sword to train a dragon and become a hero to your community.

Toy Story 3 was a box office winner and the favorite. One of the sequels that has worked, eleven years after Toy Story 2. Another story with a moral. Stick by your friends no matter what.
Pixar's style of animation has less appeal to me.

I didn't see two other good box office animations that are nominated for Oscars.

"Tangled" the story of Rapunzel and her hair. IMO
'Been there, done that'.

I also passed on "Despicable Me". My Pisces
psyche didn't like the title.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Heart of the Matter

For centuries the heart was the center of the soul, the life, the passion of an individual.
Even after science has found that the heart is simply a pump and that the brain is the center of consciousness and all emotion. I think that I understand why we continue to have the heart the center of love and passion. I had a broken heart once. Only once so I guess I can consider myself lucky. But I remember it to this day. The pain was physical; even more so that emotional. Along with the tears was the searing pain in the center of the left chest -precisely in the heart.
A broken heart was the best description. I recovered. I may have forgotten the person but not the pain.

But life goes on and I still have a passion for the life I have. And I think that centers in my heart also even though it starts in my brain.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter Freeze on Cactus

Winter freeze damaged and killed many of our native cacti as well as non indigenous plants such as the palm. Several winters ago we had a good freeze but not as devastating as this year. Even today we had a low of 26 and a high of 78 at my house.

The palm usually doesn't do well but recovers in the spring after severe trimming. Here is a photo of a very protective taller palm that protects the smaller palm.

This decorative pear bloomed for
just about a week before the freeze killed the blossoms.

Even putting the paper cup cap doesn't work.

I fear my night blooming cerus will loose a lot of arms.

Prickly pear particularly lost a lot of pads. Almost like the freeze made
the pads so heavy that they just fell off.

Brownish yellow on the cholla may indicate loss of portions of the cactus.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ten Chimneys - The Play

"Ten Chimneys" is the current play by Arizona Theatre Company.
In the play Jeffrey Hatcher takes a look back to one of Americas favorite acting duos, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.
The setting is their summer home "Ten Chimneys" in Wisconsin.
The scenic design is great and is the perfect backdrop to the fabulous 1930's costumes.

The story is about Alfred and Lynn's rehearsing of Chekhov's play
"The Seagull", which is about an actress preparing for a play.
So this is a play within a play within a play.

The acting is first rate. Suzanne Bouchard and Steve Hendrickson
would do Fontanne and Lunt proud. Or would they? Considering the egos of these two acting icons.

The drama around the lives of the Lunt family; mother, sister and brother contributes to the plot. The characters of Sydney Greenstreet and Uta Hagen appear as members of "The Seagull".

I really enjoyed the comedy of the first act. And went into the second act expecting more of the same.
But I soon became perplexed with the quick turns to drama that occurred in the second act.
The humorous lines were still funny but then there would be a sudden very serious verbal exchange. Too sudden mood changes, IMO.

Therefore what may have been a 4****performance had to be reduced to 3***.
Still a good afternoon at The Temple of Music and Art.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Record cold at my house.

When there is a windchill announced in Arizona you know it is cold. Although we are known to
have a lot of wind. Wind AND cold = very cold.
All time record low in Tucson, 18 degrees at my house. Buddy eager for his morning walk but woosie me stayed in. No reason we can't wait till it is warmer - but, Hey! May not get much warmer.

Humming bird feed frozen to ice.

Pansies, one of the
heartiest of winter flowers,
hang their heads.

Running water in the house but not in the laundry which is in the garage.
Check that off for the day.

BUT as we watch the bad weather through out
the nation, we are glad that we don't have to
shovel and our cars start.

Been there done that.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Story of a Mink Jacket

Close to 40 years ago I made an impulse buy. Not the usual impulse buy, but a black cross mink and leather jacket. I am not sure if it was on my lunch hour or if I had taken the afternoon off. I was to meet my friend, Marilyn at the Magic Pan downtown Minneapolis. Arriving early, I stopped in at Albrecht Furs; saw the Jacket and swooned.

After lunch we went back and I bought the jacket.

I was young, I was petite and I had a good job.
The jacket has given me great joy over the years.
I wore it to football games, to concerts and shopping. With blue jeans, black slacks and skirts and dresses. Often accented with red.

Alas, I am no longer young and no longer petite. I decided to donate it to a charity auction.
Call it karma, spiritual or a coincidence but a young woman sat down at my dinner table and said "I bid on a jacket and I really want it".

Being the only coat in the auction, I knew what she was talking about.

I shared with her the history of the jacket and how much I loved it.

At the "2 min. warning" we bounced up to the coat and met another woman who also wanted it.
That is what makes a charity auction exciting and helps make money for a non-profit charity.

The young woman at my table announced that she really wanted the jacket and would pay the value price. And wrote a generous check to Casa de Esperanza

She invited me to visit the coat at anytime.

The best news is that she has been seen in the community wearing it. And I know that it is loved and has a good home.

Who says that a mink doesn't belong in Arizona.
It is going to be 18 degrees tonight.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dinosaur Poop - Is it real?

Not only is dinosaur poop real, it is often made into jewelry.

Petrified or fossilized dinosaur poop is called

My friend's visitors came down to Tucson from Idaho to the famed Gem Show. Over a glass of wine they brought out a piece of coprolite and the jewelry that had been made out of it.

I knew that jewelry could be made out of unusual
things, because I have a lovely piece made from
petrified Hearts of Palm. But poop! and Dinosaur poop?
Checked it out on Google and Google Images
and yep, it is real.

Want to be the first of your girlfriends to
have a genuine piece of dinosaur poop
(coprolite) jewelry?

Check out