Barrel cactus look a lot like a spiny barrel. No surprise, right? But you might be surprised at how beautiful the flowers are. Yellow and orange are the most common colors, pink and red less frequent. But whatever the color, the flowers only bloom on top of the cactus. Barrel cactus are usually about 3′ or less, although some have been found as tall as 9′. Whatever the height, they can live to be 100 years old.

Fun fact, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Barrel cactus can fall over because they grow based on sun orientation. They usually grow towards the south to prevent surface tissue sunburn, giving the name “compass cactus.”

And here’s my favorite cactus quote:

I bought a cactus. A week later it died. And I got depressed, because I thought, D**n. I am less nurturing than a desert. ~Demetri Martin

As with all cactus, admire the flowers, but don’t forget the spines!

Once a month, tea drinkers and snack lovers from all over the world virtually gather in New Zealand to share tea and friendship (with goodies throw in for good measure) at a virtual tea party hosted by Su.

Today I’m offering High Grown Kenyan from Williamson Tea in Kenya. It’s a lovely, full-bodied black which means it does have caffeine. But if you don’t want caffeine, there’s an easy way to remove almost all of it. Brew the leaves for only 30 seconds, throw out the tea, then re-steep the tea with boiling water. It’s easy and you’ll have no worries about how the decaffeinating was done, either. I’m happy to brew some that way for you.

To go with it, I’ve made blueberry crisp, probably my family’s most-requested dessert. I like to make it in this cobalt blue dish because I love the color and there’s the added benefit of not showing any possible blueberry stains. You can gild the lily with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you like. So take a seat, relax, and enjoy Thursday.

for virtual afternoon tea 9.17.20

As many of you know, I or we go to Wyoming every summer. I think I’ve missed two since college. The route has stayed almost the same for all those years and since I moved to Cleveland in the mid-seventies, it’s always been along interstate 80 and 90, simply shortening when we moved to Illinois.

However, once we moved to Arizona, that all changed. Only the last 30 miles are the same, so I had a lot of new territory to discover. My brother and his family have been going this way for many, many years, so my brother suggested I stay in a small motel in Raton, New Mexico.

While Raton has had its day, it seems that day might be in the past. There seem to be lots of empty a/o decaying buildings. Just a fun fact: you might have heard of a group form there called The Fireballs, a rock and roll group, had a number-one hit with 1963’s “Sugar Shack” and number-9 hit with “Bottle of Wine”. At any rate, I found these two marvelous retro buildings with their doors. I think this gas station is wonderful.

The theater or the theatre? Depends where you are. I may find more buildings and doors in the upcoming years but these will have to do for today.

for Thursday Doors 9.17.20

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Let’s take a closer look at a few of the cacti found in Saguaro National Park. One of the first places to get out and walk that we encountered was a paved loop giving great views of a variety of cacti, a number of which were in flower or had fruit. There’s quite a bit of room between many of the cacti, but be careful where you step and don’t back up without looking!

Here’s a lovely bunch of prickly pear cactus with fruit. Prickly pear jelly can be found in the Southwest and the fruit can be eaten but you have to be very careful to completely removed the outside so no spines of any size are left. I think I’ll stick with jelly!

When I started this post I didn’t realize that cholla, the type of cactus I’m showcasing next, used to be part of the same genus as prickly pear, despite what this information board says, but have now been separated because of some differences we wouldn’t notice, . However, the board does show how important each part of the desert flora and fauna are.

I also didn’t realize that there are boatload of species of opuntia, not a hundred, but a LOT! If you’re interested in identifying the flowers, this is (un)likely to help and made me laugh:

The flowers are typically large, axillary, solitary, bisexual, and epiperigynous, with a perianth consisting of distinct, spirally arranged tepals and a hypanthium.

If you do know what all those mean, do NOT tell us or I will ban you from the blog and flog you with a wet noodle or possibly o-puntia you across the desert for being a showoff!

Read the rest of this entry »

for One Word Sunday: three

I hate to be negative, but Amy’s asking us to go that way this week and I must comply. I actually use a lot of negative space when taking macros, so I had a difficult time deciding what photos to use even when only going through a couple files, trying for some variety.

Thanks for stopping by and hopefully you’re enjoying your weekend.

for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #114: Negative Space

for Six Word Saturday 9.12.20

These small cactus were everywhere at Saguaro National Park. They might be small, but take notice of the multitudinous spines! Don’t mess with small. They have large, beautiful flowers and the bees, as you can see, loved them. The cactus, mammillaria grahamii or mammillaria microcarpa, has a rather unfortunate common name: Graham’s nipple cactus. I have no idea where that came from as the resemblance isn’t evident to me!! Even Madonna at her worst wasn’t as sharp as this.

Let’s go with its other common name: Arizona fishhook cactus. This is a rather specialized cactus found in a small area of west California, southwest and south Arizona, southwest New Mexico and a few small areas of far west Texas