A Little Convincing

A curve-billed thrasher with its feathers flared looks down into the cavity of a broken saguaro in Scottsdale, Arizona on March 20, 2021. Original: _RAC5168.arw

This might as well be a portrait of me each spring when I try to convince myself the pool is warm enough and I should just jump in and start swimming. I don’t like being cold in the slightest so it always takes a bit of convincing. Always nice to find a thrasher in an expressive pose as it can be hard to convey their personalities in pictures.

A curve-billed thrasher sings from the cavity of a broken saguaro in Scottsdale, Arizona on March 20, 2021. Original: _RAC5219.arw

A curve-billed thrasher sings from the cavity of a broken saguaro in Scottsdale, Arizona on March 20, 2021. Original: _RAC5182.arw

Dirty Paws

A clean pair of Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 trail running shoes at Cavalliere Park in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 17, 2021. Original: _CAM0814.arw

I’ve been really happy with the Hoka One One Challenger trail running shoes I bought a couple of months back so I recently picked up a pair from their more trail-oriented line, the Speedgoats, to use on longer hikes when my feet get a bit sore in my regular hiking shoes. REI had several colors in my size and I liked them all, two fairly subtle and this pair in Superman’s colors. I debated which pair to order but decided on the playful colors even though I knew from experience the desert would quickly mute them. I have two identical pairs of my regular hiking shoes, one in black and one in tan, and it takes more than a quick glance to distinguish them.

The picture above was from their first hike to the top of the hill at Cavalliere Park, it’s good for testing new shoes since the short loop never takes you too far from the car but it also has a hill with these jagged rocks at the top to test out the footing. Last weekend I took them on a 4 mile hike in the morning on gentle terrain and a 6 mile hike in the afternoon with some elevation changes. The picture below is from the high point of the afternoon hike where the Quartz and Flat Rock trails meet at Cave Creek Regional Park, a thick coat of dust dulling the colors in the evening light.

Love them so far, I think they’ll be a nice addition to my little family of hiking shoes.

A dusty pair of Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 trail running shoes on the Quartz Trail at Cave Creek Regional Park in Cave Creek, Arizona on April 25, 2021. Original: _CAM1048.arw

The Sleepy Brothers

Our cat Sam sleeps on the back of the couch while Boo sleeps on a cushion on April 10, 2021. Original: _CAM0782.arw

Sam is fully recovered from his oral surgery and is now on a blood thinner to make things easier for his aging ticker. Fortunately his medicine is in pill form as he loves Greenies Pill Pockets and gobbles them right down, let’s just say getting liquids down his throat is more of a challenge so we are always happy when the meds are pills.

Boo went in for a checkup to see how his kidney-friendly diet is faring and there was good news on that front. I slept well most of the week, a relief as I’ve been battling occasional insomnia the past couple of months. Friday morning though a certain tuxedo kept waking me up, as he has done at times the past few weeks, so it was rather fortuitous they had an issue with the network at work so I worked from home and didn’t have to drive in.

You’d think with such excellent teachers I’d be able to curl up and sleep at will but I doubt it will ever be so easy. Last Saturday I couldn’t sleep so I put that to my advantage and grabbed a couple hours of shut-eye on the couch before getting up for my first proper sunrise hike of the year, returning to settle in with my compatriots for a well-deserved nap.

The Wanderer

A close-up of our cat Trixie as she looks out from her cat bed on April 5, 2021. Original: _RAC6772.arw

I was working from home yesterday, sitting in the living room instead of my office, variety being the spice of life and all. I noticed sounds outside that seemed louder than they should be and got up to investigate and realized to my horror the door had accidentally been left ajar. Boo and Sam were sleeping near me but after a quick check of the house I couldn’t find Trixie. She is sometimes hard to find but rather than look further I grabbed a pair of shoes and stepped outside and found her sitting on the wrong side of my office window.

She ran back towards the door but seeing it closed panicked and ran back towards the yard. I wasn’t able to catch her but fortunately she kept running back and forth near me until I was able to grab her and bring her back inside. The picture is from a few weeks ago as she slept in the cat bed on the proper side of the window.

Let’s not do that again little one, I’m not sure my heart can take it.

Fur-lined

A male house sparrow holds leaves and fur in his beak as he perches on a leafy branch of an ocotillo in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 11, 2021. Original: _RAC6982.arw

I’ve not seen a house sparrow in the local desert but they are neighborhood residents, judging by the leaves and fur in this male’s beak I imagine he’s building a nest nearby. We may not be contributing to nesting materials here but I like to think a great many birds in our Irvington neighborhood in Portland grew up in the luxury of a fur-lined nest courtesy of a black lab who seemed to shed her weight in fur each week.

Curves

A curve-billed thrasher perches on a leafy branch of a flowering ocotillo in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 11, 2021. Original: _RAC7013.arw

We left blue jays behind when we moved to Oregon but gained scrub jays and the occasional Steller’s jay. The large gregarious birds were a favorite of our cat Emma who would chirp to me from her perch in my office to let me know who was visiting our backyard, crows and flickers also being favorites. In Arizona we have another noisy neighbor I think she would have loved, here sitting in a flowering ocotillo on a warm spring morning. I saw a number of curve-billed thrashers on my walk last weekend in addition to this one, one pair was already feeding hungry babies in a nest in the arms of a saguaro.

Two Favorites

An environmental portrait of a common side-blotched lizard perched on a granite boulder in front of a tall saguaro, taken on an offshoot of the Latigo Trail in the Brown's Ranch area of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 4, 2021. Original: _RAC6033.arw

I’ve been in the mood for environmental portraits so I was delighted to take one of two of my favorite desert inhabitants, the saguaro and the common side-blotched lizard, one of the largest residents and one of the smallest (at least one of the smallest on four legs). As much grief as I give my pattern-matching self for spotting marmots in the rocky hills when he knows there are no marmots here (he’s mostly stopped with the occasional relapse) and for spotting lizards that turn out to be protuberances in the rocks, he nailed this one from afar. The little fellow was a ways off and wasn’t worried about me so I had time to find a spot on the trail both where I could see the saguaro behind him and place him in a gap between the giant arms so he’d be easy to see against the blue sky.

I quietly wondered if he’d be willing to stick around for an hour-and-a-half for the last light of day but I knew he wouldn’t stay that long and neither would I, I wanted to get some hiking in and I had only just begun. In any event I finished the day further east, taking environmental portraits of another favorite resident, but no spoilers …

A Quiet Morning in December

A view of Granite Mountain from the Fraesfield area of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in the early light on December 29, 2020. Original: _CAM8536.arw

A quiet morning in December, looking north to Granite Mountain. The large depression was created decades ago when the giant lizard who had been resting beneath the mountain finally woke, shaking off its slumber and heading west to California and the Pacific Ocean. It was seen swimming in the direction of Tokyo but I don’t know what happened to it after that, hope it had a good life.

The Letter of the Law

Our cat Trixie is visible behind our cat Sam as they sleep in my lap on March 31, 2021. Original: _RAW5871.arw

A couple of days after his surgery as Sam slept high in my lap I judged his mood to determine how close I should let Trixie get. I kept her at arms length which she followed to the letter of the law, sticking out her front paws such that one was resting on her older brother. He didn’t mind so I let it go, though I had to keep a watchful eye as she would try to inch closer to her hero. Thankfully she didn’t try too hard to smother Sam with affection until he was feeling better.

Our cat Trixie sleeps below our cat Sam as they sleep in my lap on March 31, 2021. Original: _RAW5875.arw