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Desert Broom

These are the female flowers, getting ready to release their seeds to the wind. The male flowers are more yellow and without the long tassels. In another month they will be creating snowdrifts in the wash. I saw another sort of white-green flower in clusters on a plant with narrow cylindrical soft green leaves.

Yesterday Rick and I saw a possible pair of Cooper’s Hawks, and today as we came back there was a Harris’s Hawk on the TV antenna.

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Marching band

Rick and Tweety came into town for the Phoenix reception for Amy and Aaron, and we took them to see Sally’s band do their show, before going to dinner at Cafe Poca Cosa (which has declined since the lady who started it passed it on to her sons). I have been frantic trying to get the Algebra book finished, and we have landscaping and renovations to the guest house going on as well, so all in all it wasn’t the best time for visitors. Rick has a sort unease of place when he travels that makes him very critical, and Tweety wanted to control Amy’s excessive use of color in tiling. Amy, Tweety and Rick went for a walk up the Pima Canyon trail on Friday (Rick made it all the way to the top, at the expense of some prickles).

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Anna’s hummingbirds

The one with his wings open flew in, stayed for half a minute, then flew out. The other one was not particularly aggressive, perhaps because it was too cold, or out of breeding season.

Also saw a butterfly I couldn’t identify, very close to an Empress Leilia but lacking some of the identifying marks. Perhaps through loss of some parts of the wing.

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Christening of the orno

I got home from the Committee on Education meeting in Washington in time for dinner with Amy (Sally was at Emily’s and Abby was at work). The orno had acquired the new flagstone patio that will make it less lonely, and since it was a crisp cold night we tried it out. We had no trouble getting a roaring blaze going from all the dry wood stacked along the east wall. The outer surface was still warm early the next morning.

On the flight home I read Orhan Pamuk’s Snow, instead of working on the Algebra book as I should have done. It’s a rich book that seems thoroughly misunderstood by some of the reviewers on the flyleaf, who call it a “thriller” and “political novel”. There’s lots of discussion of politics and religion in it, but it’s no more a political or religious novel than it’s a weather novel for all the discussion of snow. It’s about Pamuk’s theory of the self. It’s about memory, imagination and reason, the three axes of the snowflake on which Ka arranges all his poems, intersecting in the central poem “I, Ka”. And, duh, in case you didn’t get it, Ka is the ancient egyptian soul or self.

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Female Phainopepla

It seems that every season has its bird. The Phainopeplas have been moving in for a while, now they sit on top of the bushes showing off, and have started making their soft whurp. They can’t be breeding, can they? Why weren’t they singing earlier in the fall?

Abby identified the common plant I wondered about here, the one with dull green, long, lobed, spear-shaped leaves: it’s a Canyon Ragweed. I found one this morning with small light green galls all over the leaves, like warts. Abby says they are made by a type of gnat.

Also saw a couple of Black-tailed Gnatcatchers darting low into a busy, and spotted one, pretty white-eye ring, creamy grey breast, narrow beak, making wheezy, raspy, upward call.

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American Snout

Libytheana carinenta, was on another bush, that had been covered with them a couple of days earlier. I guess it get’s its name from the long “beak-like labial palps”, described in the Peterson guide.

Also saw a Black-throated Sparrow: two prominent white stripes on the side of the face, black throat speckling into a white breast, grey-brown crown, tail with white edges, fluttering low in bushes or hopping on the ground.

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Gall on Whitethorn acacia

This was hard and resinous, about the size of my thumb above the knuckle. Inside was a mass of tough fibers and yellow yoke-like substance.

Also saw a beautiful Verdin showing red shoulder patches.

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Butterflies and bees on Desert Broom

Danaus plexippus). Notice the yellow spots on the right one. The undersides of both had veins marked with black. There’s a bee in the photo halfway between and below the two butterflies. Another bush had a similar flock of a different species, and was also buzzing with bees.

Saw a beautiful glossy black Phainopepla as well.

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Sally’s Band

This is Sally at the Sahuaro High School football game. The band is performing songs by The Who, including Pinball Wizard, which involves a complicated manoeuvre on the field, where lines of clarinetists pretend to be pinball flippers.

We didn’t stay for the football game (like watching TV for the advertisments), but met Abby for dinner at Feast. Abby is house-sitting for one of the real estate agents where she works, feeling anxious about things, and wanted to talk. She is much more mature and self-aware than her peers.

A couple of weeks ago, September 22 I guess, we had Vanda round for dinner. I had run into her at Broadway Automotive, where I discovered she was selling her house and moving to Mexico. She seemed thin to me, and she confirmed this at dinner that she had been losing weight. Amy thinks she is depressed. Becka has said she’s not coming back to Tucson, and is finding her own life in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Vanda turned down some job offers, either because they were not the life she wanted or the money was tainted.

We have had a couple of weeks of accelerating change in light, bringing on fall distractedness as the brain prepares for hibernation, without the blessing of fall coolness. Yesterday we had a nice late lightning storm, which brought out the spicy smells of the desert. The Margaret River Cabernet we had at Feast tonight had the same quality of desert dust and rain-awakened aroma. But I’m not supposed to talk about eating anymore. (The mashed potato tacos were very good, however.)

Jalal is supervising work in the guest house to prepare it for our friends Deborah and Alan, making it handicapped accessible for him and finally, perhaps, getting rid of the smell—when they removed the bathtub they found an uncapped pipe to the septic tank. I hope we have found the cause.

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Northern Mockingbird

He was hanging around just north of the dirt road, making calls like the pea-whistle sound of a flycatcher, but with the give-away repetition. He’s been around for the last few days.

Saw a small brown bird on the telephone wire, creamy breast, grey head, and brown stripe back from eye. Turns out to be a juvenile House Sparrow.

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