Cat Poetry from our Poetry Collection “Two by Two”:  Poem 31. Domestic

Cat Poetry from our Poetry Collection “Two by Two”: Poem 31. Domestic

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Today’s post is an excerpt from our collection of poetry, Two by Two: Into the White. It is available for purchase for just 99 cents on Amazon!

31. domestic

rounded mountain back
dip of concave shoulder blades

swish, swish, flick
periscope tail never wags

soft paws, rough tongue
white chin, green eyes

eighteen claws, twenty-three whiskers
lick, lick, lick, never done

stripes and spots standing on end
watching, listening

crouched down low to the brown
brown carpet of earth

among the tall grass
of dining chair legs

The Inspiration

cat, feline, domestic shorthair

The inspiration for this poem was Billy, the Most AMAZING Cat!. We’ve been family for nearly eight years now and I have spent a lot of time just observing his movements. That might sound creepy to some extroverts, but to introverts, observing is our number one hobby. The introduction to the “nature” section of Two by Two reads as follows:

dogs and deserts and domestic shorthairs
dancing on the mother earth

daring to do, to live, to be
while we admire and provide rationale

I think that really captures why we love animals so much. This poem is a vignette of Bill as he goes about his business. He doesn’t worry about how others perceive him. He doesn’t second guess himself. He just is.

A great lesson for us humans.

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Living in the Southwest: While the Heat’s Away, the Animals Will Play

Living in the Southwest: While the Heat’s Away, the Animals Will Play

posted in: Entertainment, Home and Garden, Living in the Southwest, Nature, Photography | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Today’s post marks the start of a new series on this blog called Living in the Southwest. In this series i will be posting photos of the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona.

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I will also be posting these photos for sale via Zazzle. You will be able to find these either in my Armadillo Amore website or Zazzle shop.

Spring is here and the desert is bustling with activity. Here in Southern Arizona, spring starts earlier than most of the rest of the country, but it ends sooner too. Today was the first day at 100° and there are plenty more sweltering, but dry days on the way.

Round-tailed Ground Squirrel

Where I live in Tucson, Round-tailed Ground Squirrels are quite common. Around here, people call ’em “potguts.” I caught this one peeking over my wall. They are pretty cute but I have had to put wire caging around one of my cacti after I caught one with a mouthful of my baby cactus in it’s mouth.

Also, they attract snakes who see the potguts as a tasty snack. So it is best to deter the adorable rodents from hanging around too close to your home; that is if you don’t want to also find rattlesnakes. YIKES!

potgut, round-tailed ground squirrel, tucson, arizona, sonoran desert potgut, round-tailed ground squirrel, tucson, arizona, sonoran desert

Desert Spiny Lizard

Desert Spiny Lizards are also pretty common where I live. These ectotherms enjoy sunbathing on my wall. They are fairly large, their body length alone can read to almost six inches, and kind of rotund.

These lizards have a big personality. If they feel threatened by you, they will most likely run away, but some like to stand their ground and try to intimidate you.

They do this by doing push ups and staring at you. Kind of macho! This always makes me laugh since I am a giant compared to them.

desert spiny lizard, tucson, arizona, sonoran desert

Gila Woodpecker

Gila Woodpeckers are kind of flighty birds, if you walk too close to their nest they will take off and then return when you are a safe distance away. They like to take up residence in saguaros where they create a hole large enough for their body to fit through.

The inside of the saguaro has ribs that serve as a support system for a green fleshy exterior. When the woodpecker damages the flesh to make a nest the saguaro it forms a walled off space inside to protect itself (aka scar tissue) and thus becomes the perfect nesting site for the woodpecker. Read more at Nature.com.

Gila woodpeckers are very recognizable with the brilliant red spot on top of their head and their back feathers are black and white spotted.

gila woodpecker, tucson, arizona, sonoran desert

Graduation

Northern Cardinal

This is a male cardinal that I spotted singing to its mate one morning. Male cardinals are brightly colored whereas the females are a more drab gray color.

The red makes it very easy to spot in the desert environment since it is a palette of greens and browns.

cardinal, tucson, arizona, sonoran desert

Costa’s Hummingbird

Southern Arizona has several varieties of hummingbirds that call the desert home. This is a Costa’s Hummingbird drinking some nectar from a variety of aloe vera.

Their wings move so quickly that you can literally hear them humming around and that is how I caught this picture. I heard one nearby and turned around just in time to catch him grabbing a snack.

hummingbird, tucson, arizona, sonoran desert

Anna’s Hummingbird

I have a hummingbird feeder in my backyard so I can enjoy seeing the hummingbirds throughout the day. This one is an Anna’s Hummingbird that stopped to drink some of my sugar water.

My house back’s a wash (a dry river bed that only flows during the heavy summer rains – aka monsoon season) and several hummingbirds hang out in the trees there.

Sometimes there can be two hummingbirds dive bombing each other and chasing each other around because they don’t want the other one to drink from the feeder.

hummingbird, tucson, arizona, sonoran desert

I hope you enjoyed this post. I will have the high quality version of these images for sale on Zazzle within the week.


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Porcupine at the TFOB: Quills, Porcupettes, and Homeward Bound

Porcupine at the TFOB: Quills, Porcupettes, and Homeward Bound

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The next animal in our Tucson Festival of Books roundup is Rue, a North American Porcupine, and a resident of the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Thank you to Robin Kropp, Education Specialist from the Museum, for taking the time to show us Rue!

Rue is around six years old and guess where she was found… Downtown Tucson, on a porch! Being a desert dweller for most of my life, that really surprised me. I never would have guessed porcupines lived in Tucson.

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north american porcupine, porcupine, tucson festival of books, arizona sonora desert museum
Yummy yummy snacks!

Rue weighs about 22 pounds. North American Porcupine’s can vary in size and color depending on where they live. You can see a map of the range of the North American Porcupine on National Museum of Natural History’s website.

In the southern United States, like in Tucson, these porcupines are smaller and of lighter color than those that live further north.

north american porcupine, porcupine, tucson festival of books, arizona sonora desert museum

As soon as Rue stepped out of her kennel, I fell in love with her. I felt like the emoji with hearts in her eyes. You know, like this: ?.

Look at Rue’s precious face! Look at it!

Porcupines can live 15-18 years. In the wild, these tree-climbing rodents consume the sweet inner bark of trees, bugs, leaves and flowers. Porcupines can retreat up trees to escape predators or wedge themselves into a hole and use their quills as protection.

north american porcupine, porcupine, tucson festival of books, arizona sonora desert museum
I love corn on the cob! How did you know?

A brief digression, for all you porcupine lovers:

Rue’s quills are hollow and have small barbs on the end, which allow the quills to burrow deep into the predator’s flesh. A porcupine has about 30,000 quills all over her body except her face, belly and paws. They shed their quills like hair and regenerate more.

north american porcupine, porcupine, tucson festival of books, arizona sonora desert museum

Porcupines usually give birth to one porcupette, but occasionally have two porcupettes. That’s really what they’re called!

The young are soft when they are born and then the quills harden a couple days after birth. Porcupines are very solitary animals and not very attentive to their young. These creatures do not have a good sense of sight however they have an excellent sense of smell.

north american porcupine, porcupine, tucson festival of books, arizona sonora desert museum
Carrots are pretty delicious, too!

I read a funny thing on Wikipedia about porcupines, but couldn’t find it’s original source. Usually that means I won’t quote it, but I think this is too funny to pass up.

“The porcupine is the only native North American mammal with antibiotics in its skin. Those antibiotics prevent infection when a porcupine falls out of a tree and is stuck with its own quills upon hitting the ground. Porcupines fall out of trees fairly often because they are highly tempted by the tender buds and twigs at the ends of the branches.”

Isn’t that adorable/cute/sad/adorable? Not sure if it’s true, but definitely adorable

What do you think of the beautiful Rue? Of porcupines in general?

One of my favorite memories of porcupines is from the movie, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. Did you ever see that movie?


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Gila Monster at the TFOB: Osteoderms, ER Flashback, and Fat Tails

Gila Monster at the TFOB: Osteoderms, ER Flashback, and Fat Tails

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The first panel we attended at the 2016 Tucson Festival of Books was presented by the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. We arrived at the tent half an hour before the program was scheduled to begin so we could pick the perfect seats to view the animals. The tent was empty, and we decided the front row was the obvious best choice.

gila monster, arizona sonora desert museum, tucson festival of books

We were not disappointed! The first animal displayed and discussed was a magnificent male Gila Monster, a venomous lizard native to the Sonoran Desert. Thank you to Stephane Poulin, General Curator of the Desert Museum, for the presentation.

Gila Monsters have bony growths, called osteoderms, embedded in their skin that create a bumpy, tough exterior. Their coloring can range from an orange and black to a more pink and black pattern, used as camouflage to blend in with the rocky desert. Each Gila Monster’s pattern is unique, very much like a human fingerprint.

The first time I remember hearing about a Gila Monster was on an episode of ER (specifically Season 6, Episode 16, titled “Under Control” aired March 2000) in which one had latched onto a man’s arm, refusing to let go. Not a great first impression.

It’s worth noting that Gila Monster bites are usually not fatal to humans, according to the San Diego Zoo, and they usually avoid larger animals (including humans).

gila monster, arizona sonora desert museum, tucson festival of books

Gila Monsters are known as nest raiders due to their proclivity for stealing baby rodents and other eggs from nests. These lizards have the ability to store fat in their tails, which allows them to go long periods without eating a meal. Gila Monsters can eat as few as two or three meals a year. They are a fairly slow moving lizard with a top speed of about 1.5 miles per hour.

You can read more about Gila Monsters at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum website. Read my post about Big Horn Sheep at the Desert Museum here.

gila monster, arizona sonora desert museum, tucson festival of books

We visited the Gila Monster again at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum tent on Saturday afternoon. We discovered that Gila Monsters are adorable when they are sleeping, as you can see from the photo above!

While writing this article, I discovered another cool fact: Gila Monster venom can help fight diabetes! It’s not actually the venom, but rather a synthetic form. The drug is called Exenatide, and helps manage type 2 diabetes.

Who said that the first impression is the last impression? Gila Monsters are now in my good books.

What are your impressions of these lovely creatures?


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Nature Notes: Hummingbird and Frost

Nature Notes: Hummingbird and Frost

posted in: Entertainment, Garden, Home and Garden, Photography | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Hummingbirds are one of my all-time favorite animals.

Over the past year and a half, thanks to my regularly refilling of the hummingbird feeder, they like me too, treating me to frequent visits to the backyard.

This may not be surprising because according to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, hummingbirds of both genders are highly territorial.

Winter may be cold, but the hummers are still out and about, protecting their little corners of the desert.

Yesterday, I walked out into the backyard and found this one in the mesquite tree.

hummingbird, winter, december, nature

A striking profile, wouldn’t you say?

hummingbird, winter, december, nature

They are always on the lookout, almost like owls with their heads on swivels. Looks a bit cold – all puffed up!

hummingbird, winter, december, nature

I believe this is a Costa’s hummingbird, given its squat proportions.

hummingbird, winter, december, nature

This is likely an immature male from looking at the chin. You can see his adult feathers are beginning to grow in.

hummingbird, winter, december, nature

Here is what an adult Costa’s male looks like:

hummingbird feeder

I can see you!

hummingbird, winter, december, nature

Our photoshoot ended when the young hummer dived after another hummingbird who was audacious enough to enter his territory.

hummingbird, winter, december, nature

Did you know that hummingbirds can clock speeds of over 60 mph during their dives!

(Source: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum)

With the hummer gone, I turned my Sony a390 (previously blogged about here) to my wintry garden.

winter, december, nature

My Gomphrena globosa (globe amaranth) and Gazania look quite poetic covered in frost.

winter, december, nature

Lantana looking frosty! Brrr…

winter, december, nature

Frost-covered rosemary embodies the spirit of December, doesn’t it?

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hummingbird, winter, december, nature

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Haiku: Rust Red

Haiku: Rust Red

posted in: Entertainment, Photography, Poetry, Travel | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

past the rust red arch

 

road curves through the evergreen

 

azure sky abounds

 

The poem was inspired by our visit to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah in 2015. Specifically it was inspired by this photo:

bryce canyon, utah, nature, arch
 
 

Enjoy Rust Red? Get Two by Two today!

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