Trips to the cottage take a 3-hour drive after we have gathered together our supplements, food and clothes for the time away from our main "headquarters". Unfortunately this means that impromptu trips are not reasonable for us - we need to decide at least a day ahead; and also with no Internet access there we limit our stays to only 3 days. Kitty broke out the camera on the first trip when the temperatures were summer-like.
Just a few days before the trip Paul got a new look - he had his longstanding typical haircut replaced by a "Letterman-look", otherwise known as a "buzzcut". Here he's trimming his beard real short to match the ~3/8 inch of fuzz on his head. He liked it so much that the next cut he had done even shorter. He's now thrown away his comb and wonders why he didn't do it sooner.
Paul sporting his new buzz-cut before his first swim of the season - actually only early June.
Kitty wants everyone to know that the water is as cold as it is clear. But she braved the chill - even sitting in it - just to say she'd done it and long enough for this photo. Swimming in cold water is not really enjoyable to her unless the air temperature is reaching 100F, and it definitely was nowhere near that warm.
Paul however just delighted in the water and didn't even have any "goose bumps" when he got out. But then he's a real Canuck ;>)
Kitty thinks that this is such a good photo of Paul - and shows a happy-self that many do not realize is really there - that it deserves a closeup.
As we have done other summers, we drove to Kitty's property in central Arizona for a two week stay to check on the property and receive an order of nutritional supplements.
Our driving schedule always gets us to the house in the wee hours of the morning. After about 10 hours of sleep and a meal we make it a practice to inspect the 3.5 acres of virgin desert with the "oasis" surrounding the house itself. On passing through the "narrows" between the outbuilding and a wall out from the house, Kitty caught a glimpse of a good size snake on the ground to her right near the wall. With a loud yelp she sprang forward away from the snake and quickly turning around saw the snake speedily moving alongside the outbuilding and around the back corner behind a small stack of lumber and plastic piping. The markings on the body closely resembled those of the common diamond back rattlesnake, which likely had been cooling itself in the partially shaded and damp ground of the plants that are watered by the drip irrigation in that area. You can be sure that during the remainder of our stay we both took a look around that wall before walking through the passageway.
In the late afternoon of the day after our arrival, and the incident described above, Paul spied this molted snake skin on the garage side of the wall where Kitty met "her" snake. We wondered if the event had been so startling to the snake that in a sense it had been "scared out of its skin" - or was it just ready for this periodic shedding. Of course it's also possible that the skin was from a different snake, though the two were about the same size.
A lizard looking very much like Iggy attached himself to the narrow ledge outside the dining room window and appears to be looking inside - at us? This same lizard spent considerable time on the back porch which is in full shade most of the day. It would be very nice to know that this is Iggy since that would mean that he survived a terrible experience last July of falling down from the roof into the exhaust over our stove and being trapped there for at least several days. The day after our arrival for our July 2003 visit, Kitty got quite a surprise. She was shaken beyond words when she opened the cover (after seeing the outline of an apparently dead lizard and many bugs) to empty the contents into a bag for disposal - the lizard moved! She quickly asked Paul to finish the job. The lizard, terribly blackened and dehydrated was let loose on the back porch from which he disappeared the next day. We put out some small pieces of food but don't know if he ate them. We did catch some glimpses of a similar sized lizard with what appeared to be extra large black markings last winter, but were not sure if it was Iggy. This one didn't have any unusual black markings but we don't know if lizards molt like snakes and therefore skin "scars" would disappear. (The exhaust vent since that incident has had an even finer mesh cover and only small insects manage to penetrate it.)
We wondered whether the ground squirrels would eat some of our table scraps and so put out a few - peanut shells, tea leaves, corn husks and a cob. Curiosity won out and this little fellow approached, examined and then nibbled on the cob. Despite this initial acceptance, by this one of numerous ground squirrels in the backyard, of at least the cob, the scraps did not draw any other critters. The animals in our yard appear to prefer the seeds and leaves from the many creosote bushes to what we offered them. This is an experiment that we will try again with different items.
The west-facing window in our office gets the attention of a bird - don't remember what kind he was and can't tell from this photo. But he sure does look curious about what's on the inside of this dark space. Unlike some other birds, this one at least didn't fly smack into the glass which usually results in a very dead bird.
Animals in the desert are very interesting creatures both in what they do as part of just surviving but in their reactions to the people who choose to live there also. And Paul is still not over his amazement at the quantity of wildlife that visits and lives on our unfenced property - far more than we see at the cottage in Ontario with its many deciduous and evergreen trees and bountiful lake.