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Valentine’s Day 2020

20200214-valentine.jpg

My gift from Bob was this nice little Waterford Heart Box with a nice card. Click on the image to enlarge.

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February Decorations

February DecorationsIt’s February again and that means it is time to decorate for Valentine’s Day! This is the mailbox down by the road in front of the house. I used red and white plastic flowers and a heart-shaped wreath to adorn it.

The mailbox is set into an old milk can and stuck into the ground with concrete stabilizing things. I stuck the flower stems down into the can and fastened the wreath to one of the handles on the milk can. I also have a heart-shaped Mylar balloon that I was going to add in the mix, but it broke away from the stick it was mounted to. I’ll glue them together and add the balloon decoration soon.

Now, neighbors and visitors to the neighborhood will see the decorations appropriate to the season. Next month, I will place some nice spring flowers in the can. Click on the image to enlarge.

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It’s Almost Wintertime And The Bees Are Still Buzzing

Cactus Flowers and a Bee

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are less than two weeks from the official start of winter. Regardless of that fact, and the unusually colder weather happening everywhere else in the country, here in Wickenburg, we are enjoying our usual mild temperatures with highs in the 60’s or 70’s.

This Bishop’s Cap Cactus in the courtyard had a couple of open flowers today. I took this photo of the cactus while a bee was browsing for pollen. The cacti aren’t the only source for pollen in as much as the Rosemary shrubs behind the RV Drive still are producing flowers. You can see the bees browsing them as well.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Landscape Improvements

Path Through the Rocks

Last week we had our landscapers embellish our yard with some additional red rock gravel ground cover. They did a good job by placing the additional rocks and spreading them over the bare ground adjacent to the RV drive.

After the work was done, Verna went to the retention wall by the little wash behind the house and discovered that she had trouble walking on the rocks. She goes back there to feed some table scraps to the cottontails that live out there.

So, we decided to clear a pathway leading to the wall for easier access. I accomplished the project incrementally yesterday and today by raking away the red rocks and lining the path with medium round rocks. The path is “T” shaped so Verna has her access to the wall going left and I have access to the bird feeders out of view up the hill to the right.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Clear Skies Over Arizona

Clear Skies Over Arizona

Last week (10/22/2019), I captured this image from one of the GOES weather satellites in geosynchronous orbit above the western hemisphere. GOES East showed this area of the southwestern US which I cropped to highlight Arizona which is centered, more or less, in the image. The image showed the area mostly clear of clouds at that time.

October in our part of Arizona has the in-between hot summer and cooler winter temperatures which are still warm (80-90 degree highs) and we call “Second Spring” because of the flowers we have open this time of year. As I write this post, the late October temperatures have started to drop and soon we will be back in flannel and long pants.

Anyhow, back to the satellite image; you can clearly see the Mogollon Rim which is defined by the darker forested area at its southern side that extends from the New Mexico border on the east and arcs toward the north across the northeastern part of the state and ends in northern Yavapai county in north central Arizona. The two darker forested areas continuing north are the Kaibab National Forest. The gap between the southern dark area and the northern dark area is where the Grand Canyon is located.

Other interesting features visible in the image can also be seen; over in New Mexico toward the right lower side of the image you can see the White Sands area where WW2 Atomic Bombs were tested. On the left side, in California, you can see the Salton Sea. Finally, at the bottom left corner, the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) in Mexico is visible.

I look at the satellite images on a regular basis to help me identify our weather patterns. I use them in addition to radar and other tools to get an insight on our weather. You may click on the image to enlarge.

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Milestone - One Decade of Retirement!

block-10.pngToday marks the tenth year milestone since I began my retirement from the Aerospace Mill for which I worked many years. I must say that those daily routines of getting up out of bed, commuting to the office, participating in whatever the plan of the day might have been, finishing up for the day, commuting back home and attending to home matters were comfortable for me right up until the last day. Now, however, at a decade down the road, I must also state that I don’t miss the old ways a bit.

During the last decade before retirement (starting 20 years ago), Verna and I spent a lot of time planning for the retirement we were to have. It turned out that by the grace of God and our own foresight, we managed to get our basic plan together. Thankfully, my employer had good a retirement plan and an incentivized 401(k) savings plan, both of which we participated in. Upon retirement, we exercised our choice to roll the 401(k) into a managed payout mutual fund designed just for retirees. We opted for the retirement pension payout as well. Bottom line: we’re doing OK.

Sure, there were still some unknowns and other events post-retirement that would shape our destiny, but the foundation for our sustenance was set by the time we were out of there. We weren’t prepared to lose our California house to flooding, for example, but our insurance payout and a fortunate find of a “flipper” to take that property off of our hands made it a sweet departure from home ownership in California. Otherwise, we would have had to do the fixing up and “flipping” ourselves for which we weren’t exactly prepared. Between that example and a couple of other post-retirement glitches, we have managed to stay afloat.

Pardon all the metaphors, but it seems that we’re set for smooth sailing for the next decade of our retirement, God willing.

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Turkey Buzzards’ Farewell

Turkey Buzzards

Now that Summer has abruptly ended (a 20° drop in daily high temperature since the first day of Fall), the Turkey Buzzards (Vultures) have been showing signs of migrating south for the Winter. Today, there were several circling overhead (as they generally do) and these two came to roost on the ridge just to the west of our back yard. It’s as if they dropped in to say adios as they head to Mexico. They will return sometime in the Spring of 2020.

More about Turkey Vultures from Wikipedia:

The Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) is a scavenger and feeds almost exclusively on carrion. It finds its food using its keen eyes and sense of smell, flying low enough to detect the gasses produced by the beginnings of the process of decay in dead animals. In flight, it uses thermals to move through the air, flapping its wings infrequently. It roosts in large community groups. Lacking a syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses. It nests in caves, hollow trees, or thickets. Each year it generally raises two chicks, which it feeds by regurgitation.

We look forward to seeing the Buzzards in the Spring when their return signals warmer weather ahead for us. Click on the image to enlarge.

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