Learning the Largo

Largo Bridge Music

For the past couple of weeks, I have been studying and practicing on the keyboard a small part of the score from the Opera Xerxes by G.F. Handel. The excerpt above has been transposed to the key of C major which is easier for me and my arthritic old fingers to perform as I learn the fingering and tempo.

The piece I’m learning is the bridge music between the recitative Frondi Tenere (Branches Tender and Beautiful) and the aria Ombra Mai Fu (A Shadow There Never Was) both of which are sung by the title character Xerxes of Persia. The piece is only fifteen measures in length and can be executed in about 35 to 40 seconds but the fingering and tempo are a little challenging to me. I’m sure I will get it down soon, but in the meantime, I’m still practicing.

Handel’s Largo, as it is popularly known, is actually a Larghetto tempo, slightly faster than Largo. The opera was designed to be a comedy with Xerxes, a Persian King, falling in love with a Plane Tree. Regardless of the original intent, the interlude above along with the aria Ombra Mai Fu is not only one of the most beautiful compositions in classical music, but has also been adapted with lyrics and performed as “Holy Art Thou” in Christian Churches.

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Argentine Giant Cactus Flowers - A Dozen!

One Dozen Argentine Giant Cactus Flowers

In keeping up with the opening of spring flowers, we cannot overlook this spectacular display of a dozen open flowers at the same time on our Argentine Giant cactus. This is after five other previous flowers this spring on this same cactus. This is, by far, the most activity we have seen since planting this cactus in front of the house almost eight years ago.

The cactus is also showing other activity in the form of “arms” or new branches growing around its base. In time, the new growth should become cacti in their own right, with their own flowers and perhaps their own new arms. This should be interesting over the next few seasons.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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New Throwback Dining Room Set

Dining Room Set

After finally retiring the old dining room furniture to a local charitable organization, Bob and I assembled the new table last week. Today, we ate our Easter Sunday Dinner using the new furniture.

The photo does not clearly show the snow white color of the table top but it does render the candy-apple red faux Naugahyde™ chair color and the shiny chrome on both table and chairs. The whole dining room set effect takes us back to the 1950’s Diner era with its appearance.

We think it’s charming. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Showy Cactus Flowers

Opuntia Basilaris Flower

And now the cactus flowers are opening. This is one of many beavertail cactus flowers open on the beavertail (opuntia basilaris) cactus in front of the house today. There are many more flowers to come on that cactus.

From Wikipedia:

Opuntia basilaris, the beavertail cactus or beavertail prickly pear, is a cactus species found in the southwest United States. It occurs mostly in the Mojave, Anza-Borrego, and Colorado Deserts, as well as in the Colorado Plateau and northwest Mexico. It is also found throughout the Grand Canyon and Colorado River region as well as into southern Utah and Nevada, and in the western Arizona regions along the Lower Colorado River Valley.

This cactus is a medium-sized to small prickly pear cactus 70–400 mm (2.8–15.7 in) tall, with pink to rose colored flowers. A single plant may consist of hundreds of fleshy, flattened pads. These are more or less blue-gray, depending on variety, 50–210 mm (2.0–8.3 in) long and less than 100 mm (3.9 in) wide and 10–15 mm (0.4–0.6 in) thick. They are typically spineless, but have instead many small barbed bristles, called glochids, that easily penetrate the skin. Opuntia basilaris blooms from spring to early summer.

The Wikipedia article fails to mention the Arizona High Sonoran Desert as a beavertail habitat. I assure you, they are here too. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Early Spring Flowers Opening

Purple and Yellow Freesias White Freesias
Yellow Freesias Gardenia

Some of my flowers in the courtyard are opening this week. Purple and Yellow Freesias, White Freesias, Yellow Freesias and a Gardenia.

Other than those shown above, we have daffodils and paperwhites that have opened. Also in the courtyard are several Cherry Red cacti which we separated from each other last fall which all seem to have flower buds coming.

Outside of the courtyard, there are numerous buds on the cacti around the yard. There are beavertail and hedgehog cacti with buds about to open soon and other prickly pear cacti with buds just starting to show.

It will be a colorful spring around the house this year. More pictures coming! Click on any image above to enlarge.

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Flowering Plum Tree

Plum Flowers

Spring officially starts tomorrow at about three in the afternoon Arizona time. Already, we are getting flowers in abundance on the plum tree in the courtyard. Click on the image to enlarge.

The rest of the xeriscape garden is also showing signs of spring. We have several beavertail cacti which all are sprouting flower and paddle buds. The Argentine Giant out front is showing flower buds and a new arm sprouting, maybe two. The other prickly pear cacti will be getting flowers later in spring. The giant saguaro out front should also be getting flowers in late spring.

In the courtyard, I have planted daffodil bulbs and the flowers are coming out as well. I love springtime in the desert!

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Queen of the Night Cactus New Branches

New Branches

The queen of the night cactus (Peniocereus Greggii ) on the east side of our driveway has branched out a bit. The two new branches in the photo above started last summer and look to be doing well. We monitor this cactus more since it is in plain sight from the driveway.

This cactus has bloomed with at least one flower over the past two years. We’re hoping to have at least one flower, and maybe more, this coming summer. Click on the image to enlarge.

I took this zoomed close-up of the branches using my DSLR Camera with the new EF-S 18-135mm lens. I shot the photo with the following camera settings:

Model - Canon EOS REBEL SL1
Date Time - 2019:02:28 16:40:11
Copyright - COPYRIGHT (C) VERNABOB.COM
Exposure Time - 1/250 seconds
F Number - 20
Exposure Program - Aperture priority
ISO Speed - 640
Shutter Speed - 1/256 seconds
Focal Length - 135 mm

The focus stayed sharp for the depth of field needed. Love the new lens.

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