Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Native Fave of Mine and Hummers
This is Justicia palmeri--a native shrub which, left on its own, blooms in summer and fall with the rains. In my garden it likes semi-shade, though I have seen it on rocky exposed slopes where cows love to munch on it. It might bloom year round with extra water. It benefits from native brutality (hacking it back to stubs once a year). It will grow to 4-5 feet without brutality. It is transplantable--I cut the tops off and keep as much soil with the roots as possible. You can also propagate it by layering. That means bending a branch to the ground, putting some soil over the branch and putting a rock on top to keep it all submerged. If it gets some water, rootlets will sprout within a month and you can eventually separate it from the parent plant. Now, I can recognize seedlings so I just transplant them. Understandably, the hummers love this plant as much as I do.
I've encountered this young iguana repeatedly in or around a large mesquite near the house. It allowed me to creep closer and closer until I was only one foot away. Spiny-tails are found on the Pacific coast of Mexico and in Baja. They live in hollow branches, rock piles, crevices, and pipes will do in a pinch. They are surpisingly agile in trees, jumping limb to limb, but have unimpressive ground speed. This one was munching on portulaca leaves before climbing up the rock. They are said to be primarily herbivores, but capable of eating small animals.
In the fall, the hatchlings are bright parrot-green with dark charcoal bands on their back. These green babies fit right into the jungly rain-induced vegetation. With a few months, their green skin morphs to gray tones as the land dries and plants shed their leaves. I suspect this one (at 14" or so) hatched last summer. I rarely see big iguanas--they can reach 4', but I am filled with joy to see any spiny-tail iguana. For me, they are a touchstone--I'm always surprised and delighted that they continue to live nearby.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Photography- My Faves
Please check out my favorite photographs, all taken with my Nikon digital cameras (the Coolpix 995 died, replaced with a Coolpix 4500). Getting film developed when living in a remote beach village is not appealing. Without digital photography I would never have photographed anything. Now, I can print archival prints up to 13" wide with amazing quality.
This is a Hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus brandegeii). It's native, has flower buds now, and will bloom in July. Truly magnficent.
House Finch Eggs
We have a palapa (palm thatch) roof. Every spring, the orioles industriously weave elaborate hanging nests in the dangling palm fringe on roof's edge (safe from cat claws). They only use the nest for one season, and house finches frequently squat in the abandoned nest. They add a bit of fiber and fluff and lay their eggs.
Flower of the Day
Prickly Paint Update
Well, I soaked my sliced-up prickly pear paddles for 3-4 days and strained the ooze through cheesecloth. The slimy liquid went in the blender with a spoonful of yellow ochre. I prepared a second batch with red iron oxide powder. I painted it on the back wall of the garage over very faded yellow- orange latex paint. In the photo, see yellow ochre ( left), and red iron oxide (right). The dried (vs. wet) cactus paint was much lighter in color with a matt surface. When I rubbed it, some powder came off on my fingers. But, the next day..... to my great surprise, hardly any rubbed off! Later, I rubbed linseed oil over some areas to make it weatherproof, and glossier. The linseed area is the darker part of the photo's mid-lower area. Overall, I'm encouraged and have another pail of cactus juice brewing. I learned that you can't let it sit around for 5-6 days or the stench is unforgetable. Maybe I should try freezing any extra.....
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Rats Need to Eat Too
Our morning ritual includes cappuccino, the tinkling sounds of the fountain, mixed seeds on the ground for the doves and quail, and sunflower seeds in the treehouse for the cardinals, jays, etc. Well......we have a new guest. I guess it's ok as long as it stays outside. Recently, we had one in the house that chewed TV wires (no loss), our referigerator cables (big problem, but was repaired), and holes in a down sofa pillow. Oh, I forgot--tennis socks too. After several days of hilarious and embarrassing effort, it was permanently apprehended.
Green Angels Share Nectar
Natives Thrive on Brutality
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Rancheros from old Baja used to (and some probably still) make whitewash paint from prickly pear cactus slime, lime (not the kind from trees, but calcium hydroxide) and salt. I found a recipe on the web a couple of days ago, marched out to the garden with my pruning saw and hacked up some paddles to soak. The water is supposed to get slimy--slime equals glue, I think. Maybe it's slimy. When I dip my hand in, the liquid comes off in an even stream, not in drips like water. I don't have any lime yet, and need more salt. Of course, I would never be satisfied with white, but plan to use red iron oxide powder, yellow ochre, or pick up some red clay by the roadside. Stay tuned.
Papayas Like it Hot
Years ago we put chicken wire up around the base of our fences to keep rabbits out. Guess what--it keeps them in too. We've seen Bun Bun for a couple of months in our property and our first reaction was to act scary and shoo him/her away--him/her is not afraid. We had a recent change of heart/mind and realized Bun Bun is cool to have around, like the birds. He/she hasn't eaten anything valuable yet.