A bit of beauty

Our gate looking out toward the street. It’s so beautiful with the plant in full bloom. Most of the year it doesn’t look like this.

This weekend I was stunned by the beauty in our neighborhood. I stop and take photos every day on my walks. I’ve posted several times about the desert in bloom, but more and more flowers amaze me.

Palo verde in bloom. They are all over the place in our neighborhood.
Ocotillo with red flowers


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The color on this Hedgehog cactus is brilliant.
The cardinal has been back!
This beavertail cactus is beginning to bloom.
I love this Yucca at the entrance to our neighborhood.

What are your favorite flowering plants and birds in the Spring?

A bit of sadness

Century plant
I’ve been waiting to see this Century plant in bloom. This photo was taken two weeks ago.
Fast growing Century Plant.
Still waiting for the blossoms….Look how much it grew. This photo was taken a couple days ago. My husband said he thought he could watch it growing taller right before his eyes.

I’m enjoying the blossoms on cactus, but they are very short lived. One day there are furious blooms and the next day, they’ve expired.

I’ve been keeping my eye on the neighbor’s Century plant and wanted to make sure I wouldn’t miss the flowers.

blossoms on cactus
Look at the gorgeous blossoms on this hedgehog cactus. Tomorrow they’ll be gone.

You can imagine how sad we felt when we went on our morning walk today and saw this:

Fallen Century Plant before it bloomed
We will never get to enjoy the blooms. We felt like we lost a friend. It also reminded me of our saguaros we lost.

The desert in bloom

We went away for the weekend to Puerto Penasco and came back home to warm weather and the desert busting out in bloom. What I’ve discovered is the blooms don’t last long. One day a cactus may have a gorgeous flower — the next day it’s gone.

I’m amazed at how many flowers are in blossom in the Sonoran Desert.

I have a little plant guide from the McDowell Sonoran Preserve called “Wildflowers” that categories native blossoms by color. I’m doing my best to use the book to identify the plants.

Here are blooms I saw during my morning walk:

Hedgehog cactus in bloom.
Palo verde tree in bloom.
budding hedgehog cactus
Buds on a hedgehog cactus.
purple blossoms.
This looks like Desert Hyacinth according to the wildflower book. But since it’s in a yard, it might not be a native desert plant.
Century plant with tall bud
The neighbor’s Century Plant keeps getting taller, but hasn’t blossomed yet.
red blooms on hedgehog cactus
Another blooming hedgehog cactus.
red flowering desert plant
I’m not 100% sure but the closest I could find is called Hackberry Beardtongue.
Honeysuckle orange blooms
Honeysuckle in my back yard.
Pink Fairy-duster pink blooms
Pink Fairy-Duster. Isn’t that a great name?

Red Four O'Clock
Red Four O’Clock

What is blooming in your neighborhood?

An amazing cloudy day

Our 80 degree weather with sunshine vanished. We had one day and night of rain and cool temps — back into the 50s. Then yesterday was a cloudy cool day. But I enjoyed the beauty of the clouds and will share them with you. Most often our days are filled with bright blue skies.

Sonoran sunrise on a cloudy day
I walked into the backyard to get this photo of the sunrise among clouds. It rained during the night and the world smelled like creosote.
Our front yard cactus garden
This is our front yard during yesterday’s cloudy day. The previous owner loved gardening and he was quite proud of his cactus garden. When we first looked at the house, my husband confessed he hated cactus due to a run in with one when he was young. I think cacti are growing on him now.
Cloudy day in the Carefree area.
A morning walk view in our neighborhood.
Cloudy day
More clouds.

I’ve decided cloudy days are beautiful and they add a nice contrast to our regular sunshine. I want it to warm up though so I can jump back into the pool and swim laps.

Do you like sunny or cloudy days more? Why? Do you think a sunny day makes you feel more hopeful or happier?

Friday Photos: Cacti Toppers

I’ve noticed a variety of toppers for cacti around our neighborhood. The purpose to top cacti is to give them a bit of insulation. They can die from the exposure to cold from the top down. I wonder if it’s going to freeze? Last January we got two days of snow. My iphone tells me the cold temps will be in the low 40s at night. Maybe that is cold enough to harm cacti?

This is all new to me at this end of the Sonoran Desert. Palm Springs, where I lived for 30 plus years, is the same desert technically, but it is so different with landscaped grounds with grass, ficus trees, eucalyptus and of course palms. It wilder where I am now.

Here are the cacti toppers in my neighborhood:

styrofoam cups to protect caci
Our backyard. We went for the standard white styrofoam.
Santa hats on cactus
Our neighbors went for the Santa look.
a blanket protecting a cactus
I’m not a fan, but I’m sure it’s effective.

A headdress on a saguaro
Hmmm.
Green cups on cactus
Our homeowner’s association uses green cups. I’ve also seen red solo cups at a neighbor’s house, but I didn’t get a photo.
baskets topping cacti
My favorite are different sizes of weaved baskets. I may look into this for another year.

Which toppers do you like? Do you have any creative suggestions? It seems like this could be something to have fun with.

Starts and stops

saguaro cactus with a full moom
Full moon view from my backyard. The holes in the saguaro are woodpecker nests.

I find myself starting things like my physical therapy, stretching and crunches — and then just as soon as I get a routine going — I stop. It’s such a natural inclination of mine that it takes me weeks to notice.

Why is that? When I know something is good for me, why do I stop it? With New Year’s a week away, is it possible to make some resolutions that I can stick with?

Is it laziness? Forgetfulness? Too busy? What keeps me from doing things that are good for me?

I do have a positive morning routine I’ve followed for years thanks to “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I religiously write my three morning pages, go for a walk and pray. I should be thankful that I accomplish those things each day.

Do you find yourself starting and stopping on things, too? What have you started and stuck with? What have you stopped?

I don’t do cold

cloudy Arizona sky
A cloudy view before the rain hit.

We woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of rain. It was pouring. My iphone didn’t let me know there’d be rain. It told us of a wind advisory. Back in California, the rain was intense. Record rainfall throughout the Southland with road closures and mud slides. I guess I’m lucky to be in Arizona.

I hid under a pile quilts and listened to the rain. It was a wonderful feeling. There’s nothing like the sound of rain when you’re tucked safely and warmly in bed. My husband had opened up the sliding glass door with the screen door closed so we could hear the rain. He also put the cover on the ping pong table at midnight.

This morning I’m freezing. It’s in the 30s and I decided for the first time in several years to forgo my morning walk. I bundled up to attempt the walk, but I couldn’t do it. It has to warm up later today, right? I wore my warm leggings. A fleece vest. A jacket. And I was still too cold to walk. I’m cold to the bone.

I hate being cold. I don’t do cold. Thankfully we put styrofoam cups on our cacti before this cold front came in.

cacti with styrofoam cups
Our cupped cacti.

The sun is out today and it’s bright and sunny, but cold. It must be my 30-plus years of desert living that makes me intolerant to cold weather.

I’m dreaming of our Christmas week at the beach. Of course, I’m picturing a summer day at the beach and not a winter one. We may be inside there, too. I used to say in Palm Springs that there were only a few days of good weather. That it was either too hot or too cold.

What is your favorite weather? Do you mind the cold? Or, is a change of weather something you look forward to?

tree being eaten by wildlife at the roots
Some critter is digging up our trees to eat the roots at night. Any guesses what is doing this?