Looking for Tarantulas

I wish I photoed a tarantula; not yet! I will keep my eyes open for the 3-4 inch tarantulas that grow here in the Sonoran Desert.

I did walk past a tarantula’s web the other day, but no 8-legged creature was seen by me! Tarantulas are nocturnal hunters and spend a lot of time in their burrow so I guess I am not surprised to not see one.

Desert tarantulas live in a deep burrow and line the entire floor of their enclosure with silk and surround their entrance with a silken “welcoming mat”. Tarantulas do not have great eyesight so the “welcoming mat” helps when it vibrates like guitar strings, yet it is not for capturing prey. Unlike other spiders with webs to catch insects, tarantulas take on an active approach to feeding by subduing and killing the prey themselves. When the tarantula is alerted to the presence and location of the intruding beetle, grasshopper, small lizard or mice, it will attack and kill by injecting venom through its fangs into its prey. Since they have no teeth, it is the venom that liquefies the prey and the tarantula uses its sucking stomach to draw in the meal.

Who keeps the tarantula population in check? Coyotes and foxes.

There are 4 dozen species of tarantulas in the USA and Mexico, so hopefully at some point I can capture a photo of one. In the meantime, keep an eye open for more “welcoming mats”!

Capturing Action of a Hawk

It was exciting! There was a Harris hawk on top of the pole. I knew it would soon take flight. I did not really know what I would see, nor what I would capture in a photograph. I readied my camera. Where do I begin!?!

I refer to myself as a novice wildlife photographer. I get so excited about the action to eventually unfold that I sense great hesitancy within myself in how I should get my camera ready for the action. I don’t want to miss the action, but I also need to be sure the camera is set!

I begin with shutter speed. Bird flying, I select shutter priority. Dialed in, got it. I consider depth of field and set my aperture. Yes, the hawk is still on the pole. What ISO? Test shot of the hawk on the pole looks okay so I believe I am set.

The hawk has something in its talons!

Do I really have the best lens for a photo as this hawk flies off? Maybe not, but nothing can change in that department. I was only carrying my camera today because I never know what I will see and want to photograph. Often I have had regrets when I do not have my camera. (Best bird watching happens when you have no camera!)

The hawk flies and I immediately see the talons were holding a rabbit in place atop the pole. Wow! Thankfully I had continuous focus and burst on as I tried to get a decent photo or two. Not bad for this lens, but also not great … that’s the way it is sometimes. Any way I look at it though, it was an amazing sight for me to see! Photo or not, it is in my memory!

Wish, then Take Action!

Decades go by as I continue to wish for increased global solar energy usage, equality, justice and education for all, along with clean air and water for the ever increasing planet’s population! Wishing for anything is never enough; what is needed is action! Even with action, reaction and solutions take time. Frustration does mount as the time it takes to solve issues is ridiculously long!

I understand all peaceful protests no matter the issue. What I do not condone is the violence, vandalism and arson most often happening under the cover of darkness. It might not be a bad idea for locals to not protest at night, so the agitators who are destroying our businesses are caught!

I understand we need to increase pressure on our politicians. Many of them collect paychecks with little to show in making the world a safer, healthier, just place for all. Why can’t our energy systems be environmentally safer? Everyone’s health, physical and mental, be cared for with the same health care policies as our politicians?

Racial and gender inequalities need justice to prevail so no one lives in fear. Our communities all need regulations to have and maintain the best quality air and water. All can be accomplished while simultaneously growing businesses and wealth for all. If we wish and take action, let’s prompt the legislators, business leaders and world leaders to see the benefit for all is a minimum requirement in making this a planet where we can all survive even 10 years from now.

Write your politicians, peacefully protest, support local businesses, speak up when injustice happens and you are present, boycott places you cannot support their stance on issues, and be an ally for those needing protection. You and I are in this together; let’s take action!

Under the cover of darkness, let there be peace!

Driven Weed Crazy …

My front yard is covered with many weeds; yes, it is weedy. Who cares? Well, actually there are people and home associations that care. They see green growth on my front yard that are not on the approved plant list. Oops! Yet for me, I see the unwanted plant, a weed, important for all of us and especially while it has a flower. No way will I pull that plant out by its roots at that time. A seed blew in or was part of the hydro-seed thrown down when the landscape was created and now the plant is growing. It is beautiful with its flower and I want to see it each day it is there. When there is no flower, then I will pull it. You see I have a method to caring for my landscape. I appreciate nature’s colors and the role of all plants in our world.

During my latest weed-pulling hours, I thought this would be a good time to remind myself of the importance of weeds. Often people think they do not want that plant, the weed, and forget the role these plants play in our natural world. Weeds do grow much faster than other garden plants and for good reasons. They grow, flower, and produce more young weeds to continue the cycle of life. Weeds hold soil in place for a hillside to remain stable and not be washed away in a heavy rain. Weeds absorb nutrients from the soil and when they die the nutrients are released. Their process of photosynthesis is important for us all too! In nature, you rarely see many bare soil areas. There is much to be accomplished by these weeds and their seeds simply move in and do what they need to do.

There is one weed that drives me crazy! I get so frustrated with this one. Unless I look at the plant from a particular angle I cannot see it! This plant is called skeletonweed. Perfect name choice! I am sure it is doing all that a weed is supposed to do. But just as I walk away from an area of the yard where I think my weeding is done, there is another skeletonweed! Take a look for yourself … do you see it in the photo below?

Skeletonweed growing out of the rocks.

Your welcome. I photographed it so you could see it! If I included a photo of its first growth or younger growth or from a different angle, you would not see the plant. I don’t care it is a species of wild buckwheat; I just know it arrives every year to drive me crazy. For me, this weed is tougher to love!

Wished for Wisconsin Travel

January 2020, I had a great idea! Could I organize a road trip to Madison, Wisconsin? Once settled at a state campground, here was my plan: photography and bird watch in the morning, photography and bicycle ride on bike paths and rural roads during the day, and enjoy dinner and craft beers in the evening.

February 2020. So I could camp at state parks, I got my Non-resident Annual Admission Sticker to WI State Parks and Forests and to bicycle ride on their trails I got the WI Annual State Trail Pass. I wanted both done to have 2 less things to do when in the state. Campground and hotel reservations were also made from Arizona to Madison and Stevens Point, Wisconsin. My plan was to be traveling for a month but I only booked half the accommodations. I researched Audubon Centers and other places of interest, along with bike paths that criss cross the state of Wisconsin. How could I not get excited about eating cheese in this state? It has the largest number of milk goats and 600 or more cheesemakers. I did not know it is a large cranberry producer and despite being known for its Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, I heard a craft brewery scene had been growing. I wanted to check all of this out!

I was ready for Wisconsin camping and bicycling!

March 2020, do I have to cancel my May into June visit to Wisconsin? Covid-19 has run rampant the past few months around the world, including the USA. What shelter-in-place world am I living in now?

April 2020. The numbers of USA Covid-19 cases and deaths related to the virus increase across our nation. I cancel all my accommodations. Thank goodness I only booked a couple of weeks, but I am sad. I love to travel and discover new places and things. Darn, darn, darn!

May 25, 2020, I thought I was going to be on the road this day, Memorial Day. I had booked my WI state park reservation back in the winter since I figured everyone else would be camping this weekend too. Instead I am home in Arizona with limited access to most places and our Covid-19 cases still on the rise. I will take time on this day to honor the men and women who died while serving in the US military. There usually are parades, but there is a 3pm, your local time, national moment of remembrance on this day too … a time to think and thank those who served, and I want to thank those individuals who still serve!

You and I are alive; let’s have a good Memorial Day wherever we are!

The message on this trail is a good one!

Bicycling the Path … an Issue

We are fortunate to have at least 131 miles of dedicated bike path available to us Tucson,AZ bicyclists. Why are we fortunate? It is so much safer to maneuver around other bicyclists, runners, walkers, roller bladers, and anyone else out on this dedicated path than to be on a roadway.

We have a beautiful, smooth bike path with appropriate signage and I feel safe cycling on it. (The farther I can be away from automobiles the better.) Yes, I hear people complain about speeding cyclists and working around walkers, but in the overall scheme of things this is all pretty great.

YET… my annoyance is when someone comes along and writes political messages in chalk on the pathway. I do not care what the message is, it should not be done! First off, I call that graffiti on a public space … I do not like it and would say a person should be found and fined. Secondly, we are all outdoors for exercise and a space to relax, not needing any prompts to piss us off!

Please keep your messages/gripes/political views to yourself and off our bike paths. Yup I was annoyed, so all I could do was squirt some of my water from my water bottle on those messages. Which annoyed me all the more since it was hot here and I did not want to be wasting my drinking water on graffiti. Geez don’t you know, water is precious here in the desert!

Bike path separate from autos.
People enjoy a graffiti-free, smooth and very long path.

Use This in the Kitchen?

A couple of years ago I was given, let’s call it an egg cooker, this gift from one of my younger sisters. I do not remember any special reason for the gift, except for maybe she was not making use of hers! Actually I now have two of these “egg cookers”. The funny thing about it all … I always think of her when I use it, plus it is one of my quick go-to ways to make breakfast. I now know what to do with this egg cooker! This is my creation.

Here goes.

Line up your ingredients: raw egg, cheese and mushrooms if you wish, roll or bread if you wish, egg cooker, fork, knife, salt, pepper, salsa if you wish. Crack the egg into the white side of the egg cooker and beat the egg with the fork. Toss in sliced mushroom and some cheese, my first choices, but you can add in what you want. Be sure the egg covers all the added items. Close the clear lid over and cook in microwave for 90 seconds.

Finally, out of the microwave and removed from the egg cooker into a roll or onto bread. Maybe add some salt, pepper or salsa and your breakfast is ready to eat in no time flat! Enjoy!

Ready to eat! So easy!

Things I learned from using the egg cooker:

  1. Do not throw in beans or tomatoes or any foods that when they heat will explode in the microwave. You do not want to spend time cleaning the microwave later. I learned the hard way and only once!
  2. I can create a breakfast meal in the same amount of time it takes my coffee to brew.
  3. Salsa is the best to add once out of the microwave; adds so much flavor to it all!
  4. The egg cooker is easy to clean: wipe it out with paper towel and put it on the top rack of the dishwasher.
  5. I think of my sister every time I use this egg cooker, and I like that! So glad I now have two! Thanks sis!

Flyover: Honors First Responders!

Sometimes I am lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Yesterday was one of those days!

After various home projects and it being warm outside, I decided to drive toward Mount Lemmon and stop at a parking area instead of traveling an hour to the top of the mountain. At the elevation I stopped, the air was a bit cooler and it was an overcast day. I overheard a woman ask a man about when the flyover would be and if we will see it from this vantage point. A quick discussion with them, of course I was physically distanced from them, and I had basic info to Google for more specifics.

The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson and the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing were to fly four aircraft over areas around and including Tucson, Arizona. Again as luck would have it, I had wifi to know the flight path and time the aircraft would fly over where I was standing.

This flyover was to honor first responders and civic leaders in Pima County fighting Covid-19. For the aircraft buffs reading this, there were two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and two F-16 Fighting Falcons. I snapped some photos and will share them here.

I truly hope everyone understands and appreciates the work of first responders. Whether it is the current pandemic or another emergency, these individuals need to be recognized beyond this flyover. Let’s not forget to thank them in our own way too.

Aircraft in formation.
Profile of the aircraft.

Birthday Twice Enjoyed!

Events mark a time. Whether time is in seconds, minutes, hours, days, months or years it is of no consequence till tagged with an event. Time is always present and takes on more meaning when attached to a birthday or death or whatever we wish to acknowledge with the moment in time.

I like the fact my birthday is on the calendar of time with certain years it falling on Mother’s Day. I also enjoy a story my Mom told me years ago about my birth. Mother’s Day was on Sunday on May 11, 1952 and celebrated as usual in those days, from what I was told! Although my Mom thought it would have been nice to have her first-born child on Mother’s Day that year, she said it was worth waiting for me to arrive when I was actually born the next day!

To this day every year, I recall the story on Mother’s Day and my actual birth date with a smile. I love the story. While time marches on, my birth marks a moment in time while also sharing another date every year along with Mother’s Day. As a result, I celebrate some years twice and that is really cool! Thanks Mom!

Desert Mariposa Lily… beauty every time I see it!

Happy National Teacher Day!

I remember National Teacher Day, when I was educating young people years ago, being celebrated while school was still in session. But the Covid-19 pandemic has forced state governments to cancel school attendance requirements from now and to the end of the school year. We are truly living a different reality!

However, it is the perfect time to thank public and private school teachers who have worked this year and all their career years of teaching service. Also thanks to people who volunteer as tutors, educational mentors, and/or role models in displaying appropriate teaching and learning behaviors. Thanks to parents, guardians and leaders who teach children as need be and especially now when school responsibilities have shifted to the home front. The role of teacher is varied. Even in a single, simple moment anyone can be part of a teachable moment and be the teacher … thank you to you too when that happens.

It should not take a pandemic for the world to understand how valuable school teachers are for all of us! Our American society does not place the high level of respect other cultures have with their teachers. This is unfortunate, but I do hope people are realizing the importance of teachers. Respect and salaries commensurate with their experience would be admirable too as we treat these people as professionals in higher standing. Everyone stepping into teachers’ shoes currently certainly understand the huge responsibility teachers have each day with 25 – 35 students per class and the variety of subjects to be taught. Many would never choose to do this work, so let’s be sure we tell teachers they are appreciated and thank them for choosing the profession.

People in education love working with children and are missing work time with them. Teachers are staying connected with their students during this pandemic with new and exciting technology, where it is available. Kudos to teachers for all the work accomplished with our children!

Happy National Teacher Day!

School message to their students during this pandemic.