Saturday, May 31, 2014

Walk In The Park

The hike was another one of those days where I stopped more than I hiked. It was a walk interrupted by views and exploring and learning.

The raven perched atop a saguaro was the start of the hike. The raven tolerated one photo and then took flight.

The jack rabbit also cooperated for a few photo poses.

Then I found something most unusual. A prickly pear growing out of the crotch of a saguaro. Growing from a seed in some debris in the crotch, the prickly pear didn't look in great shape. Depending on a little moisture in the crotch of saguaro has to be a tough living. Guess the prickly pear hasn't evolved to set a root into the saguaro to become a parasite.

Since many of my recent posts include a photo of saguaros, how about an unusual crested saguaro with some blooms.

A decades long hiking habit has been observing footprints on the trails. Were the prints from today or were they from a previous day. The size of the footprints and the depth of the impression allows me to surmise and make guesses about other hikers on the trail. Many times I have been able to confirm my thoughts about the hikers from sizes to weights to sex. Those experiences have made me a better tracker.

On a recent hike, I saw this print. My first reaction was a hiker walking on the sole of his foot and had no heel.

When I noted a couple of foot prints from horse shoes, I decided this must be the print from barefoot shoes for a horse. I had seen horses with barefoot shoes on previous hikes. This particular horse appeared to have the barefoot shoes only on the rear. Is that possible.

This is a barefoot horse shoe modeled by a horse. (Found on the internet.)

That was enough learning for another day and then back home before nine after the four to five mile hike.

Did I mention that Tucson is warming up. 100 degree days are a daily event. That heat is an incentive to be on the trail before six and before the sun has risen over the Rincon Mountains.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Saguaro Fruit

The saguaros are still in bloom, but there are many less than a week ago.

Some of the early saguaro blooms have ripened to a red fruit. Time to make jam. Considering that it would be illegal for me to harvest the fruit, it makes my decision a whole lot easier. Another reason for passing on the opportunity was the lack of lots of ripe fruit.

While some bird was harvesting this saguaro fruit, the husk was knocked to the ground for this photo closeup.

I've never tasted the saguaro fruit jam. With my memberships the Sonora Desert Museum or the Tonono Chul Gardens, I could make a purchase to check the flavor. Will there be a flavor of the saguaro fruit or will it be masked by the major ingredient -- sugar.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Stop Acid Production

With decades of acid reflux and heart burn, there were times when I started to take Prilosec (or another acid blocker) after a doctor recommendation. Twice was after a visit to the hospital emergency room with what I thought was a heart attack. No. It was just a serious case of heart burn.

The doctors know best. Or do they. So I started taking the acid blocker medication. Fortunately, the medication gave me more pain than the heart burn it is was supposed to mask. So I stopped taking the drug.

The nagging question from this skeptic remained. If we cut back on the acids, wouldn't that be a bad thing for the well tuned body.

The doctors didn't seem concerned why the body was producing the acid. Proscribe a drug to eliminate the pain issue. Next.

So why was I having heart burn and acid reflux. Over two years ago it was an accidental discovery when I eliminated ALL grains and grain products (i.e. breads, pasta, cinnamon rolls, etc.) from my diet. In addition, elimination of tomatoes and some other members of the nightshade family has resulted in very infrequent episodes of heart burn or acid reflux.

So why am I relating this. I frequently browse the internet for articles about healthy living and eating. Occasionally, I find corroboration -- or questions -- of my way of living, eating or taking medications.

The article As The Stomach Churns confirmed my suspicions about acid blockers. The article describes that the acids are required to extract nutrients from the food we eat.

Don't stop the body's acid production. It is needed for body health.

Combating Acid Reflux May Bring Host of Ills is another article about the down sides of the frequently prescribed acid blockers.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Adapting To Hot Days

With a predicted hot day, I arrived at the trail head this morning before six.

Early in the morning the birds are active. As I walked along a trail, a cactus wren flew out of the nest in the cholla. I then peered in to see the peeping of two wide open mouths. Grabbing the camera, I was too late to catch the baby birds mouths. Rather than a nest, it is a cave of sticks and grasses.

At one point I could hear the distinctive song of a purple martin. Soon I noted a couple swooping at a saguaro. It appeared that the one time home of a gila woodpecker had become a nest box to raise a generation of purple martins.

My grandfather (in the farming village of Morrison, Wisconsin) maintained a condo style bird house specifically designed for the purple martin. Nesting material from previous years was removed. With plugs for the holes, those plugs were not removed until purple martins arrived in spring. That was to prevent the sparrows from making their nest in the condo spaces.

As I hiked, I spotted cottontails, jack rabbits and lizards. Might have been too early in the morning for rattlesnakes. That's okay.

Some varieties of cholla have been blooming for a couple of weeks. Perhaps jumping cholla are just beginning their bloom. I found a single bloom on one plant.

The saguaro are still in bloom. Along my walk this morning, I noted one saguaro that did not have a bud or a blossom. It certainly was an unusual find since I couldn't spot any others without buds or blossoms.

Using the cameras telephoto, I was able to catch the morning sun shining through the petals of a saguaro blossom.

I was back home before 8:30. Time for a nap.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Du Bist Ein Treichel

You are a ding dong. Could that be how my ancestors got the name Treichel. Treichel in Swiss German is cowbell or bell. It appears that several people were called ding dongs since it is not an uncommon name in some areas. There were a lot of people with that surname in the neighborhood of northeastern Wisconsin where I grew up.

When I started genealogy research for my ancestors about 1990, the definition of Treichel meant small herder. There was even a coat of arms. Yeah. Right. Of course, there was money to be had in selling something. There was a list of the Treichels in the United States and for a few dollars they would sell you a copy of your coat of arms and the list of Treichels in the United States. This was pre 1990 before the internet grew to what it is today.

When hiking Colorado's mountains in the mid 90s, I met a fellow hiker who was visiting from Switzerland. He told me that Treichel was a bell. A couple of years later in 1998 when in Australia on a hike with a group of Germans, they also said that Treichel was a bell.

When doing more genealogical research early this century, I found more references to the definition of Treichel being a bell.

That was when I made up a story about how a cow bell became known as Treichel.
Back in the late 15th century in today's Switzerland, Herr and Frauchen Treichel had some cows. When it was time to bring in his cows from the grassy commons of the Alps, Herr Treichel listened for the bell on his lead cow. However, that sounded like most every other cow bell. Being an inventive man, Herr Treichel decided to get a different sounding bell. So he went to Herr Schmidt -- the local blacksmith.  Herr Treichel described that he wanted to get a different sound from a bell. Herr Schmidt said that was no problem. A week later Herr Treichel had the new bell on his lead cow. When farmers heard the bell, they wondered if Herr Schmidt might be able to make that same bell with a little different tonal sound. No problem. Soon Herr Schmidt was a very busy man as farmers came to him to make a Treichel (i.e. bell) for them.
That is my fictionalized version how Treichel became known as a bell.

I could have been more creative with my fiction. In recent searches of the internet for cow bell, quoting from cowbell at Wikipedia:
"The importance of the cow bell is highlighted in Swiss folklore, which reflects a period when a great Trychel, or large cow bell, was a rare and much-coveted item. The legend of the Simmental tells how a young cowherd strays inside a mountain, and is offered by a beautiful woman the choice between a treasure of gold coins, a golden Trychel, or the fairy herself. He chooses the Trychel."
According to that quote and others I found on the internet, it seems that bells were identified as Treichel for a long time.

When the population adopted surnames 500 years ago, some took the name Treichel. Others were called ding dongs (i.e. Treichel). It stuck and Treichel became the surname for other families as a result of the pejorative ding dong.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

From The Gallery

This is what happens when taking a saguaro blossom out of context
 and adding some artistic license with Photoshop.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Big Horn Sheep

My exploring today was a visit to the Sonora Desert Museum. This morning when I arrived at 7:30, no doubt there were more docents than guests walking the trails. The animals were still active before the heat of the day.

With addition of a lamb, the animal population of the park has increased since my last visit to the bighorn sheep exhibit.

It was great day for exploring to find something new at the Sonora Desert Museum

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Collared Lizard

Rather than my usual solo hike, Paul joined me for a short hike in Saguaro East.

Paul and I had met on the road when we were full time RVers. Coincidentally, when he decided to stop being a nomad in January 2014, he settled right next door in Far Horizons East. Our hike was catching up on life and living.

At one point Paul was leading the way on the trail and he spotted this collared lizard with the fresh colors of a recent molting.

As we hiked, we noted bouquets of blossoms atop many of the saguaros. However, I didn't take any more photos to add to the ever growing photo archive of saguaros.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hiking Saguaro National Park

For exercise, some people go to the gym. Some go for a run. Some get on their bicycle. For me it is hiking in the nearby desert -- every other day.

More appropriately my hike might be called a walk. It is not a brisk pace as I walk. As I walk I stop a lot to enjoy the views and the flora and fauna. I note the nearby birds -- cardinal, cactus wren, gila woodpecker, thrasher, quail and others I can identify from the song or call.

Another bird identified by its call is the white winged dove. Migrating from Mexico, they assist in pollination of the saguaros and when the fruit ripens, they assist in the distribution of the seeds -- each the size of a poppy seed. Their song or call is not the most melodic. Actually, I find it rather annoying. This is a white winged dove perched atop a saguaro.

Birds aren't the only fauna sightings. I see jack rabbits, rabbits, and some type of desert rodent. On a recent hike, I finally saw my first rattler of the season. The rattler just crawled into the brush without scaring me. Until I spotted the movement as his tail moved into the brush.

Fauna moves too much for photos. Not so with the flora of the desert. That becomes a whole lot easier for photos. And I have a lot of them.
In mid May there are a lot of saguaros in bloom. The blooms are barely visible from a distance.

In most cases there are just a few of the flowers in bloom atop a saguaro. Then there is this saguaro with a bouquet of blooms.

Most photos of the saguaros are taken with a telephoto. However, I've found a saguaro that has one arm that hangs down so the blossoms are at head height. That makes a great opportunity to take a macro photo of the bloom.

Over these past couple of weeks, I have taken many photos of saguaros. To close this post, here is photo that I gave a water color look. At least that is what was intended.

Tucson's temperatures have been in the mid 90s recently and more is predicted. Because of that heat, I have been on the trail as early as 6:30. The good part is that I can be back home before ten as the day begins to get seriously hot.

Back to Saguaro National Park East on Saturday for more photos of saguaros.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Books And Ebooks

Without a permanent home for 13 years, my reading included print books and ebooks. Used book stores provided the print books which I could then sell back after they were read. Some of the ebooks were purchased. Over the past three years I have been a patron at the Pima County Library where I have been downloading from their catalog of ebooks.

I don't know how the library decides which books to purchase as ebooks. However, I do know that the selection is definitely smaller than print books. Since most of my reading is non-fiction, that may contribute to the limited number of titles of ebooks available to me.

There are a few writers of fiction that I read. Since those authors don't create a new book every year, there isn't a whole lot of fiction that I read.

Searching the library catalog for another ebook to read had become a habit. It was only in the past two weeks, that it dawned on me (first sign of senility?) that the library also lends real books.

With a settled existence in Tucson and a nearby branch of the Pima County Library, a whole new world has opened up. I have a rather lengthy list of "books to be read". They were placed on the list awaiting an ebook that I could download. When I went to the library's catalog and searched for the first book on that list, it was there awaiting for a reserve. About a week later I received an email that the book was at the local branch.

Wow. This is a wonderful world. A nearby library is a definite advantage to this settled existence. 

Photo is of the Carnegie Library building in San Luis Obispo. Built in 1905, today the building is the San Luis Obispo Historical Museum.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Camping Memories

Yesterday Tohono Chul Gardens had a car show celebrating Route 66 and the cars that traversed the road.

That is where I found this well restored combo -- a 1956 Airstream and a 1959 Cadillac four door hardtop.

That combo would certainly be camping in style.

That wasn't my style. When that car and trailer were new, my bank account allowed for borrowed tents -- and eventually I owned one. The tent was heavy canvas. Usually, there was a hint of mildew and after a rain there was a definite mildew odor.

That was the downside of tent camping. The upside was being outside exploring -- or fishing. The end of the day was sitting around a smoky fire making hot dogs, That was followed by brown/burnt marshmallows before retiring for the night under a starlit sky.

Those are good memories!

Saturday, May 10, 2014


One of my pass times is solving crossword puzzles. Some days no puzzles are done. Other days I may do more than one. I am no whiz. And I do them in pencil. I'm good for Thursday (New York Times ranking) puzzles. Some times I can get through most of the Friday puzzle. I'm pleased when I can solve -- without looking at answers -- over 50% of a Saturday version.

Although crosswords are my favorite, occasionally I will do other word games such as Jumble or Scrabble.

Then there is Anagrams. About 20 years ago, I wrote several word programs in Visual Basic. One of those was an anagram program that found the words contained in a string of characters. Since I have no desire to create that code on the Mac, I searched the internet for the solution. The Wordsmith website did the job for me.

To test the program, I used my first and last name "lloydtreichel". The list of phrases was extensive and most of the combination of words were nonsensical.

Three phrases survived the cut. If I was a one time monk, "tried holy cell" would have been an apt anagram. With talent for singing standards from the 40s and 50s, the songs could be described as "cheery old lilt". If my profession was a florist, "hold lily erect" would be an apt anagram. Yes. I am aware that it could be a double entendre.

The Anagram Hall of Fame on the same site provides interesting reading. One near the top of the list is dormitory which contains the anagram "dirty room".

Wishing you fun finding a descriptive phrase from your name at Wordsmith.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Christmas Cholla Added To Landscape

A few days ago I wrote about the Wascaly Wabbit mutilating the Christmas Cholla that I had planted.

Shortly after that post, I had gone to explore Tohono Chul Gardens. After exploring and taking photos of the gardens, I ended at their retail greenhouse. There I saw a potted Christmas Cholla. Perfect. Deciding that I was not going to do any landscaping until fall, now I knew where to get the plant when I returned. I was assured that they always had at least one Christmas Cholla.

After the Tohono Chul visit, I was chatting with Tucson friends Flora and Phil. Upon their recommendation I went to Bach's cactus gardens to check out their cactus selections. They had two Christmas Cholla. There were only two in their acres of cactus -- and they were on the $10 close out table. As not a big seller, there would be no guarantee that they would have any in fall. I've proved it once again. Seems I am always into the unusual and doing something off the beaten -- and popular -- path.

With no guarantee there would be a plant in fall upon my return, I bought one of the two plants. I took it home and waited for the first cool day to plant. That was more for me than the plant. To make sure the Wascaly Wabbit wouldn't mutilate this plant, I spent as much time installing chicken wire around the plant. I hope the plant will develop enough thorns to keep critters from future mutilations and then I can remove the chicken wire.

Perhaps there will never be enough spines on the new growth that comes from the bottom of the plant. I sure don't want that chicken wire there permanently. Perhaps I could build a double row of six inch long pikes around the base of the plant facing outward to prevent the access by the Wascaly Wabbit. Geesh. This could get expensive.

That will definitely be a fall project. I just have to get the plant to survive the planting and the long hot summer ahead.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Book: Endurance

Mini book review: Endurance written by Alfred Lansing

The sensations of cold and wet were constant companions as I read Alfred Lansing's Endurance. Lansing tells an adventure story of the crew of the ship Endurance spending almost two years in the most forbidding icy cold and windy climate of Antarctica.

In 1914, Ernst Shackleton sailed from England in 1914 with the intent to cross the continent of Antarctica. In early 1915 the ship Endurance became lodged in an ice floe. Unable to extricate the ship, the 28 man crew was resigned to salvaging what they could from the Endurance before it was crushed by the ice. Soon they were living on an ice floe. Drifting with the ice flow for a long time, eventually they were able to launch their small boats heading to an island where they set up camp. Not much warmer, but it was land and not ice which frequently broke apart. From the island, Shackleton and just five others took a 22 foot boat braving the cold waters to get help at a whaling station on an island over 500 miles distant. They succeeded and then came back to rescue the 22 that were left at the island.

Using Endurance crew members' diaries and through skillful story telling, this book will keep you riveted. Although you know how the story ends, the author relates the two year long story of icy cold and wet. Lansing keeps the reader involved to the day when Shackleton returns to the island to rescue the remaining 22 crew members.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Butter Is Back

I like butter.

A long time ago, I grew up on a dairy farm and real butter was on the table for every meal. Topping for mashed potatoes. Smear on the bread. Fry the eggs in butter. I also left finger prints in the butter dish in the refrigerator. Mom didn't approve of that.

Over the decades, we have been told that saturated fats are bad for our health and will cause heart disease. The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease relates how the "no fat" mantra started and where the science has gone in 50 years.

So what happened when the fat was taken out of food. It just didn't taste good so sugar was added by the agribusiness created foods. To get that fatty feel, other additives were added for texture on the tongue. Considering the health and obesity of Americans over the past decades, some people are beginning to wonder if perhaps we may have been wrong about saturated fat.

In the recent past, there have been several articles found via the internet that explore the myths about unhealthy foods. One of those is Everything You Need To Know About Unhealthy Food Is Wrong.

There is bad science and there is good science. I am always on the lookout for anything that will support my belief. I am no different than anyone else in a similar situation. I search for material that supports my belief that butter is good for me. Articles and books can be found to support a belief that butter and saturated fats are bad for you. So who do you believe.

My belief system says that butter is great. Butter Is Back supports my belief.

Note: For me, the butter of choice is Kerrygold. There are other cultured (European style) butters, but I prefer Kerrygold over the other brands.

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Wasscly Wabbit

The plans to landscape the two foot by fifteen foot space in front of my home included a Christmas Cholla. It is a low growing cactus and the red fruit would provide color through the winter months.

So after checking some nearby cactus nurseries, I found a young plant without fruit. With confidence that it would grow to what I envisioned in my mind and seen in the desert, it was the only cactus planted this spring.

About a week later after planting, I noted some of the much longer shoots had been cut off. With no tracks in the dirt, I eliminated a javelina. Then I wondered if a park resident had done the damage. A couple of days later there were more shoots cut from the plant.

Checking with the grounds crew what might be eating my Christmas cholla, I was told that rabbits would be blamed. Yup. The wasscly wabbit was the problem.

There just weren't enough thorns on the cactus to prevent the rabbit from dining on the Christmas Cholla. Not sure how he could eat it. I always handle the plant with leather gloves because even those little spines can be quite painful and bothersome.

Hunting is probably not allowed in the city limits so I couldn't follow through on the Elmer Fudd routine. So I went to Home Depot and bought chicken wire to protect what remained of the plant after the wasscly wabbit did a major pruning to the plant.

After the initial investment in the Christmas Cholla and the additional investment in chicken wire (rabbit wire), I am beginning to wonder about the costs of my future landscaping endeavors. To counter the rabbit dining in the future, all plants will be mature with huge spines.

Or I could use the left over chicken wire -- make that rabbit wire -- to protect a future Christmas Cholla from the Wasscly Wabbit.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Book: Peter The Great

Peter the Great written by Robert K Massie.

Peter The Great lived from 1672 to 1725. During his reign, Peter the Great was the force to westernize Russia and move it from its medieval culture. Through wars with Sweden and its Baltic Sea empire, Peter won wars to allow Russian access to the Baltic Sea. By removing Swedish control of the Baltic Sea, Russia become a major European force.

In addition to access to the Baltic Sea, Peter also fought wars to get access to the Black Sea through the Ukraine and Crimea.  Considering the headline news of the 21st century,  it appears not much has changed in 400 years. Only the names have changed.

Note: Peter the Great was read as an eBook. The original hard back edition was 900 pages long. It took me almost the full three week library loan period to finish reading the ebook.