Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

On Death

Death is a tough thing to write about. Americans avoid discussing death whenever we can. Because we all want to live to be 100 years old, we take vitamins and medicines said to prolong life. We exercise and eat “right” for the same reason. We make sure our cars  are built with lots of safety features and that all of the smoke alarms are in working order.

I live in a community of older people, but I know only two or three who are willing to talk seriously about our imminent demise, beyond making a will and telling the children who gets Aunt Myra’s dishes. On the other hand, conversations about our health, good or bad, abound. (Recommendation:  never ask a person over 65 about his or her doctor). And while there may be brief mentions of the deaths of friends or family memories, the fact of one’s own death is not often a topic of discussion.

Those of us geezers who try to be honest with ourselves, though, acknowledge that death is on our doorstep. Wrestling though the reality of one’s impending death, oddly, can bring a sort of peace. And for those who are in chronic pain, death is actually welcome.

Despite the apparent taboo and the accompanying downer effect, I’m writing about death today because it seems to surround me lately. The Orange Avenger’s sabre-rattling insensitivity to death and suffering is ubiquitously reported on the news;  he appears to have no idea of the terrible damage that even a small atomic weapon can do to the inhabitants of earth. (Somebody ought to put him in a helicopter and fly him over the ruins of Chernobyl, although I don’t know if even that would make a dent in his ignorance).

The horrible event in Las Vegas last weekend forced me to think about the vicious and violent tendencies of human being. How could anyone even contemplate such an action, let alone undertake the planning and logistics required, all the while pretending to be an ordinary guy? Such behavior is depraved. But this perp is not the only person who decided to work out whatever problems plague him by killing as many people as he could. And all of them are helped enormously by the collaborative Party of Death whose members will not even talk about tougher gun legislation. Even Steve Scalise, who was shot while playing second base during baseball practice, is unwilling to drop the party line.

Earlier this week I learned that my niece, who was only 59, died of a brain tumor. Here death seems particularly unfair. Judy was a lovely person who always tried to do what was wanted of her. She was married, had two sons and a grandchild. She took loving care of her older brother, who has cerebral palsy. She was a teacher and an expert seamstress and quilter. Judy lost her parents (my much-loved sister and brother-in-law) during a short span of months in 2014. She took the loss very hard. Ironically, she may have been felled by the same malady that took her Dad, and so now her kids and grand-kids, and those of another brother, must be watchful throughout their own lives.

Death sucks.


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Desert Blooms


Saw the first saguaro bloom in my back yard this morning. Nothing as rich as the one in this photo, but it’s a start. Usually the flowers wait until May to bloom. This bodes well for ground water levels for this summer, at least. And for the next couple of weeks, the drive up into Black Canyon will be a photographer’s dream.

So far, though, the mighty saguaros have been outdone by the Palo Verde trees that have put on a colorful show all over southern Arizona this spring.


The Palos in my yard have barely begun to blossom; when they do I’ll try to get pix. I love how in spring these trees create carpets of yellow wherever they grow.

“Palo Verde” means “green stick” in Spanish. Literal, if not as poetic in English (the trees have green bark).

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Spring Has Sprung!



At any rate the globemallow are out. And the fields around my house are glorious with color. The creosote bushes are ubiquitous, literally lining both sides of the roads with yellow blooms.


And in another sign of good things, this morning I heard a denizen of my little resort town telling another that, quote, “Trump is a fool.” Said denizen went on to complain that Trump has already spent more money traveling that Obama did in an entire year.

I couldn’t hear more because I was trying to walk past the conversation at a normal pace and I had a hugely suspicious smile on my face.





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No Picnic Today


 Trep’s back porch.

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Rodentia Familiaris

spermophilus_variegatusNot Tufty But A Reasonable Facsimile

A wonderfully playful squirrel visits my back porch nearly every afternoon. She (I presume her gender) perches on one of the concrete blocks that support the roof posts. Sometimes she chases birds who wander into her territory, but more often she simply lies there for as long as an hour, taking in the sights and the sun.

The internets tell me that Tufty is probably a rock squirrel, a species native to Arizona. She seems not to be afraid of predators but then she no doubt knows the coyotes and hawks and, less often, bobcats who visit my back porch usually appear in the very early morning hours. Luckily for her, none of my neighbors allow their dogs to run loose.

I have named her “Tufty” because something (or someone) once took a chunk of fur out of her otherwise luxurious tail. The tuft that remains near the end of her tail is a sign that the daily appearances are indeed made by the same squirrel. It’s nice to have a pet (sort of) who is so entertaining and who does not require regular feedings. I sort of hope that rock squirrels don’t hibernate.

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Shades of Hitchcock


For the last couple of weeks I’ve scattered birdseed on my back porch every morning in order to entertain Sassy, who seems to enjoy watching the gathered birds.

The local birds must have some sort of internet, because the group has become larger as time has passed. The daily gathering features mourning doves, chiefly, but also the occasional quail. Twice an actual roadrunner appeared, scattering smaller members of the group back to safety in nearby ocotillos and chollas. Small brown birds (that’s their scientific name) hover on the edges of the feeding frenzy, hoping to snatch the random isolated morsel.

If the group gets any larger I may have to stop scattering seed. The more birds there are, the more likely it is that larger birds will attack smaller ones who offend some invisible pecking order (ha ha). The other downside is the steady accumulation of birdshit on the porch. Plus I don’t want the local birds to lose the habit of hunting for seeds.

Maybe I should buy Sassy another ball to play with.



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It’s here!  Right on time!

After this June, I welcome the ten-degree drop in temperature that accompanies a monsoon. The fact that 83 degrees at four am is cause for celebration should give you an idea of what the weather has been like here in the Valley of the Morlocks this past month.

Showers are forecast for this afternoon, and as I sit at my computer with all the doors open, smelling the damp ground outside, I couldn’t be happier about that.

Hoo effing hah!





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