Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Floral census

Today brought our first open oxblood lilies! Other flowers are rose of Sharon, Turk's cap, lantana, tithonia (Mexican sunflower), ruellia (Mexican petunia), morning glories, asclepias (milkweed in two colors), pride of Barbados, fennel, hyacinth beans, Bright Lights cosmos, wild sunflowers, bolted lettuce, and one calendula in a pot. Volunteer plants just appearing are chiles (probably serrano) and cypress vines. Garlic chives are covered with buds. All these are more than we could expect, since we adhere rigorously to the official watering days and times, using only two hose-end sprinklers, and don't have much time or inclination for hand-watering. We are happy to continue to see goldfinches, hummingbirds, honeybees and various kinds of wild bees, toads, anoles, tree lizards, and more. Now that our lantanas are in a new flush of bloom, we see that those in a neighbor yard are also putting on a show, with more variety (pink and cream, plus yellow, orange and yellow, and trailing lavender). For the first time ever, we've seen squirrels pulling down sunflowers to eat the seedheads. One squirrel spends part of every day in a particular hanging flower pot, with his front paws and his tail trailing over the sides. As soon as it's just a bit cooler, four o'clocks will bloom again.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Circus: what a bargain!

The band had better arrangements than ever, and there's nothing like singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" to live accompaniment as a star-spangled woman rides around the ring in a spotlight waving the flag. It was fun when the band struck up backing chords from "My Girl" and a large part of the audience sang along very loudly, recognizing the tune and knowing the words. Segways were employed ingeniously sans center-post and handlebars (those are acrobats, after all). The costumes were immaculate, and the choreography was outstanding. The clown routines were more appealing than usual, the "Batman," brandishing baseball bats, and "Iron Man," accompanied by items that usually glide atop an ironing board, constituted just two of the visual puns. All the acrobats were a joy to watch, including especially the trampoline act with the flame-demon costumes. The strong-man act was well paced and humorous. This circus truly was a delight to children of all ages. The show attended appeared to be sold out or close to it. Circus is like opera, a complete theatrical experience.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


We're trying to keep everything alive, but it's tough with just two watering days a week. Neighbors complain that low water pressure keeps them from running two sprinklers at once. We do run two twirlers during some of the permitted hours if we happen to wake up, but they both twirl very slowly. I suspect that a reason for the low pressure is all those who have irrigation systems and run them every night under cover of darkness and sometimes every day on "secret soak" setting. The aura of chlorine is ever in the air. We sometimes see two goldfinches at once, here for the wild sunflower seeds; we go for years without seeing one in the pleasure grounds. The Turk's caps, Bright Light cosmos, and pride of Barbados flowers attract many hummingbirds, which sometimes go into aerial combat in territorial disputes. We thought we saw one ruby-throated hummingbird, but otherwise they're all black-chinned hummingbirds. White-winged doves prospect on the ground every day and seem to be consuming the fennel seeds that drop into the street. Lantana flowers are attractive to hummingbirds and to honeybees, and the seeds provide some food for cardinals and mockingbirds. We know that the bluejays accounted for at least some of the figs, now all gone, but they were attractive to seed-eaters and to fruit-eaters of all kinds, winged and quadruped. A very large raccoon tried to open a screen door one night, and I've seen opossums, armadillos, and one gray fox, which actually barked. All creatures range far afield in search of sustenance. We keep at least three shallow containers of water and one deeper one filled at all times, so that the creatures may drink and bathe. Live oaks are dropping all their embryonic acorns, but pecans seem to be forming nuts, although smallish ones. There will be at least some loquat fruits. Yesterday, we found a clematis flower. That's a first for this time of year. We don't succeed in enjoying any tomatoes or peppers for ourselves; they go overnight. Very occasionally, we see a giant swallowtail butterfly; every day, now, there are one or two gulf fritillary butterflies. We find a very few anoles, tree lizards, and toads. This morning's big surprise was the sight of two sprouts of oxblood lilies. This is a sign that summer will end, sometime.