Animal watching is a favorite pasttime while we eat in our dinning room, which faces north. Rabbits, ground squirrels (pale short haired versions of the characters so plentiful in Toronto), and various bird varieties are almost constantly in view even during the cool winter days. As the temperatures rise again in late March (or during a warm spell), the lizards are out - we haven't yet seen any snakes, but most are hermit-like. Kitty has only snapped pictures of a small amount of the fauna and flora in and around the house during February and March - the time period covered below; we were busy so much of the time, the camera sat unused for long periods.
Hummingbirds can often be heard and/or seen as they gather nectar from the several types of trumpet shaped flowers that Kitty purposely planted around the house in the late 80s when the house was newly built. The one in the still bare Banksia Rose bush seen at the left had taken a momentary rest after hovering at numerous aloe vera blooms.
Here is a close up.
The post supporting the northeast roof corner can be seen from the dining room table through the sliding glass door (and also from the north facing living room window); and from there we watched a pair of doves and their eventual 2 chicks. The wooden frame had been built several years before to keep nests from being blown off in the occasional early spring storms.
Mama and Papa take turns sitting on the nest. This appeared to be a "changing of the guard".
This photo was taken 19 days after the first, but the chicks were already a good size. We guess that they are probably 7 to 10 days old, but admit that we're no experts. It was interesting to watch the babies become instantly still when our presence was noticed, as if mama (?papa) signaled "be still".
This photo, taken 4 days after the previous one (and through the screened window in living room), is of one of the parents and the 2nd chick. A couple of hours was spent by both parents encouraging the little one - from the ground and the railing - to leave the nest. At this point, the youngster had successfully fluttered down to the base of the railing and finally up onto it, doing a lot of wing flapping between moves. Finally it flew away. The day before we had watched the first chick go through a similar "outing" which had been to the ground beyond the railing.
This Bishop's Hat is Kitty's favorite succulent on the property; she purchased it about 10 years ago at one of the yearly sales events at the renowned Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. It is situated in front of the east facing wall of the garage along the front entry to the house. The symmetry of the flowers on the plant proper is truly beautiful.
One of the earliest cactus to bloom is the cholla, and this rambling one is doing more this year since the creosote under which it had been planted years ago was severely cut back. The small bright green leaves, however, give evidence that this most tenacious of central Arizona plants is far from dead.
A close-up of the vibrant flowers of this cholla
We visited Kitty's longtime friend Stan, from Motorola days, which included a trip to the grocery store with accompanying nutritional advice;>) Once back at Stan's home, we all chipped in and prepared dinner - cilantro chicken with yams and tomatoes;>) (very similar to our diet regimen version) - a success per Stan who let us know later that he also used the same ingredients with salmon.
Well, at least Kitty looks OK in this shot taken with a delay before we all started eating; sorry Stan and Paul.
Stan took these pictures of us. The first is being included for those who have mentioned that they don't see Paul with a smile often enough. Personally, the second is the one we prefer.
After numerous unsuccessful attempts to reach Kitty's aunt, who had been in Poland much of last year, we enjoyed a conversation-filled visit. Aunt Wanda, who is a very mentally and physically active 82, is off to Poland again where she enjoys the less hectic and, lately, less goverment intervenionist atmosphere. A visit to her there next year may be possible.
Yes, it does get cool enough in central Arizona to enjoy a fireplace, though the "season" is relatively short - typically just late December through mid-March. We enjoyed a supper in front of the fire this cold night (high 30s F) with smooth jazz on the stereo system.