This is a male tarantula hunting for a female.  He wasn't pleased when I poked him with a twig.


Look what I found when I opened my office.  It is a gopher snake.  It's trying to reach a bird's nest over my door, but it simply isn't long enough (only four feet).
The monsoon rains have finally started.  The yard was awash and lightning forked all around us, driving all sorts of interesting things onto higher ground.  I’m not sure I can put pictures on this website, but I’m going to try.

THIS was in the bathtub.  It is a  half-grown Giant Arizona Centipede.  It was trying to catch crickets.  The adults (9 inches) can eat mice.  Underneath, at the top end, are pinchers that can inject painful venom.  Each of the legs has a little black claw that can also inject venom.  When I was a child one of these ran across my arm in the middle of the night and left what looked like a tiny tire track.  There were two rows of red blisters.  My mother told me it was a centipede and that I was lucky not to have waked up.

We are on high ground and not at risk for flash floods, but most of the people here are not so lucky.  They have been given heaps of bright yellow sand bags to keep water away from their houses.  A picky-poo sand bag isn’t going to stop a flash flood.  There was one in a canyon a couple of days ago and boulders the size of recycling bins skipped along the flood like pebbles.  

Yesterday was one of the hottest days on record.  We went to Tucson and I think it was 118 degrees there.  I returned to find everything in the greenhouse wilted and a herd of javalinas emptying the five ponds we keep for wildlife.  They didn’t move when we got out of the car.  They were too thirsty, and before they left two of the males rubbed their backsides against a fuse box in the yard.  They were marking territory, telling the other javalinas to stay out.  Next time I change a fuse I’ll remember to wash my hands.

Tomorrow is the local 4th of July celebration, but we aren’t having fireworks.  I think the townspeople would lynch anyone who set off a firework after the fire we just had.  Across the border of New Mexico is a huge warehouse stuffed with giant (and illegal) fireworks.  Tonight the men will dig a huge fire pit to roast 500 pounds of beef and tomorrow the women will shred it to make tacos.  Personally, when the temperature is 118 the last thing I want to see is a fire pit full of meat.  With any luck, a thunderstorm will blow up.

Our local handyman has a walled garden with 70 pets.  I haven’t seen it yet, but he has pot-bellied pigs, peacocks, ducks, a fish pond and a grape arbor for them to take shelter from the heat.  His assistant, Robert, has caught his enthusiasm and has bought four ostrich chicks.  He plans to race them.  Harold explained to him that ostriches are not really tame and they can kill you with one kick and anyhow they don’t understand anything about racing.  Robert is sure he can make the scheme work.  Harold’s car was once stuck in a dry riverbed in Africa.  A male ostrich tried to drive him away by trying to break the windows with his beak.  When that didn’t work, the ostrich lifted his tail feathers and crapped all over the hood.  If Robert doesn’t put up a high fence I think the coyotes, mountain lions and bears will take care of the ostrich problem.