Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

All through November, we still have some butterflies in our backyard in Picture Rocks, AZ

Friday, November 22, 2013

Winter Rain in the Desert

Margie Wrye's 'Cats'
Finally rain blew in.  A couple of days ago, Fb friend Margie Wrye photographed beautiful lentil shaped clouds over the Catalinas, but today the Catalinas and even the Tucson Mountains were completely obscured by low hanging clouds, fog and sheets of rain. I had been wishing for weather like that for a long time. How romantic to see rain pour down the window pains and hear it drum on the roof while sitting by the fire place. Instead we were of course having breakfast and lunch outside on the patio with the dogs. Laika and Cody were wondering if their indoor beds wouldn't be more cozy? 

Even our Twinpeak is shrouded in  clouds.  The rain came to late for the Palo Verde on the right - we lost several over the last four years, but we also have some nice new seedlings growing up.

Friday morning rain gauge
The Saguaros are also quite skinny. Their root system is spreads close under the surface and absorbs water quickly. This one has a lot of room left in trunk and arms to store water and fill out the accordion-folded skin. But check out the light area underneath the chollas: that's  reflection form a little wash that formed. The rain gauge showed more than half an inch in the morning. It has been raining all day since.

mostly Mourning Doves and Gamble's Quail
 Temperatures fell when the storm rolled in so the birds are all hungry. Between showers, Randy quickly fed the ground-feeders their usual breakfast....they completely finish the seeds before they can get very wet and spoil.

Our resident Costa's Hummer seems to enjoy the rain. He has a perch under roof, but he keeps darting out into the open to sit in  the creosote bush (you should smell the aroma!), where he preens and spreads wings and tail feathers under the raindrops. Our hummers are all crazy about showers and often follow us around to bathe in the spray of the watering can or, even better, the hose. The little Costa's is the same guy that bumped into the studio window last week (the right photo shows his minute-long convalescence in my palm).

For the last week we had a steady influx of either Painted or Westcoast Ladies. I never got close enough to check and for now they have disappeared. But I did find this little Empress Leilia that had taken refuge from the rain among the needles  of a saguaro close to her Desert Hackberry bush.
At least two more rainy days are predicted, and now I'm already hoping for a few more sunny warm days to enjoy butterflies and harvest  tomatoes and bell peppers that are finally growing very nicely.

Rain gauge on Saturday morning

On Saturday morning Randy woke me up with the rain gauge in hand. Close to 7 centimeters! He assured me that he had emptied it after I took the Friday picture. That's more precipitation than we've ever had in this gauge in 10 years! More than this years total monsoon rain as well. 
The Tohono O'odam call the steady gentle winter rains female and the violent downpours of summer male. While a lot of the summer monsoons just quickly rushes off down the washes, the continuous drizzle of winter soaks deeply into the thirsty soil. Maybe it will bring us a good spring flower season.   

By Saturday afternoon the sun was shining again, but  this little Costa's girl still thought that it was quite cold.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Nature Illustrated at Tohono Chul Park

When I gave a power point presentation about pollinators at Tohono Chull Park last spring, I used several of my watercolor paintings as illustrations. Preparing the exhibit Nature Illustrated, curator Ben Johnson remembered those images and invited me to participate. Thank you so much, Ben!

My contributions are watercolors of beetles and bugs as well as photo collages of Arizona beetle species.

I missed the show opening last Friday evening because I was still preparing for the weekend art show at La Encantada - autumn and winter are our busiest seasons in Arizona.  But in a way, I am glad that Randy and I went today in the morning to see the show:

 The exhibit room is in one of the historic buildings of the park.Beautiful windows overlook desert vegetation, courtyards, fountains and bird feeders, and instead of distracting from the artwork, this background added a very fitting dimension. I think that speaks for the skill of the exhibit designer as well as for the strength of the artwork. This photographer, unfortunately, is unable to balance wall-art and window-views with her camera...  

 The emphasis of the exhibit was on nature illustrations that are esthetically pleasing and scientifically accurate, created to educate and inspire interest in our complex desert ecosystem.

The works of Linda Feltner, Paul Mirocha, Lois McLane, Rachel Ivanyi, Narca Moore-Craig, Margaret Pope, and Manabu Saito fulfilled this requirement in exemplary fashion and I am very proud that my pieces are part of the show.

The exhibit will be open til February 16, 2014, so there is a lot of time to see it, but right now you get the added bonus of some late blooming flowers in the gardens that are still drawing a surprising abundance of butterflies.