A walk down the wash (Christmas blog hop)

The weather has been perfect down here in Arizona. The kids and I went for a nice, long walk up a nearby wash to the dry culverts. They have been dubbed “the tunnels”.

The wash also doubles as an alley, so there’s always interesting junk out here to look at.
Here’s the culverts. The only time they have water in them is during a rain. As you can see, it hasn’t rained in a while.
Culverts are huge caves when you’re three feet tall.
Gorgeous clear day with mountains in the background.
A variety of prickly pear cactus with fuzzy spots instead of big spikes. The fuzzy spots are also horrible spikes, so don’t touch.

It’s always such a nice walk, with lots of things to see. In the spring, there’s quail with chicks running around.

Butterflies and music

Summer is getting rolling out here in the Southwest, and we’re spending a lot of time out by the pool. The pool at our apartment is surrounded by lantana bushes, and they attract butterflies like crazy.

640px-LantanaFlowerLeaves
Lantana, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Anyway, as I’ve been sitting out there, watching the kids splash around, I’ve noticed a ton of butterflies tootling around. I’ve recognized the ubiqutious swallowtails, painted ladies, and monarchs, but a few have been completely new to me.

A little Google Fu later, I discovered:

Giant Swallowtail, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Giant Swallowtail, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Pipevine Swallowtail, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Pipevine Swallowtail, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Aren’t they cool? I’ve been sitting watching these weird black butterflies zipping around, going, “What is THAT?” Apparently these are all very common in the American Southwest. I found them in a list here.

So then I was tootling around online, and found some music that I’ve been looking for for MONTHS. I’d found it by randomly clicking around Spotify, and added it to a playlist. Then it got pulled from all online stores, and I couldn’t remember the name of it for the life of me. Imagine my delight when Spotify emailed me to tell me it was available again!

It’s this moody piano-violin thing, and goes into a sort of rock sound halfway through. It’s delightful mood or writing music. It’s by a guy named Paul Schwartz, and I actually found his Aria albums listed on his website. No other vendors carry them ANYWHERE. Thank goodness for Youtube!

In other news, not much else has been going on. This has been a vacation week for us, as the child I babysit has been at summer camp all week. I feel like I’ve been getting to know my own kids again. In August, we will have babysat him for a year, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. It’s been … grueling.

I’ve been working through edits on Malevolent, and I’m about halfway done. Before long I’ll be spamming it all over the place. I mean, hey, it’s a teen paranormal romance a la Twilight or Teen Wolf or insert random popular YA book here. People LIKE these. I keep thinking of it as almost like Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo, actually–except set in our world. And my hero uses his dark powers for good whenever he can. (I was heartily disappointed in the cliche twist in Shadow and Bone–I really wanted a dude with darkness powers to be good for once.)

Anyway, that’s what’s been happening in our corner of the desert!

Cicadas are weird

Last night I was sitting here typing away on the computer. It was quiet. The kids were in bed and my hubby was in the other room.

Then something started knocking on the window.

It was kind of irregular, so I figured it was a bug of some kind. I went and looked outside. Nothing out there. I returned to my chair.

After a minute, the knocking resumed. I went on so long that I went and looked out the window again.

First thing I saw was our neighbor’s cat right beneath the window. Her eyes were enormous moons and her tail was lashing like crazy. She was hunting my mysterious insectoid knocker. So I started looking around at the window.

I spotted this guy. A cicada.

Cicada by William H. Majoros via Wikimedia Commons
Cicada by William H. Majoros via Wikimedia Commons

Aren’t they bizarre? Looking them up on Wikipedia (that bastion of truth) says that there’s lots of different species of cicadas. What we have out here are the desert variety, which actually “sweat” to cool themselves off. They extrude moisture and have to drink lots of tree sap.

I’ve sat out with the kids at the pool and listened to them call. They talk to each other. There’s always one cicada per tree, and one will call, then another will answer and the first one will go quiet and listen. They buzz back and forth to each other.

They also make funny clicking sounds when they fly, like an in-flight call. They were pretty upset during our last storm. The thunder would boom and the cicadas would fly around and click like agitated birds. If birds clicked.

We were making cicada jokes on Facebook.

I wondered why my ears were ringing. Then I realized it was the cicadas.

I thought there was something wrong with the lights. Then I realized it was the cicadas.

I wondered why I could hear high-tension power lines. Then I realized it was the cicadas.

I wondered which anime I’d left on in the background, then I realized it was the cicadas.

I thought the hotdogs were going crazy under the broiler. Then I realized it was the cicadas.
I thought I was in Hell. Then I realized it was the cicadas.