Friday, July 20, 2007

Southwest Sundries

Cell Tower--Arizona Style

This cell tower, disguised as a Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta) popped up recently in our neighborhood. The only giveaway from a distance was its height, compared to the many shorter palms in the area, but it was still within the range of possibility as the Mexican Fan Palm can reach 100 feet. It's really a good replica, and certainly better than a bare cell tower. I've also seen a couple of towers disguised as 60 foot Saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea) but those wouldn't fool anyone. Too tall, too green and the arms just weren't right.

Low-rider Lizards?

The Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magisteris) a common sight in my garden. There are dozens of them, and that's fine with me. They eat crickets and other insects and for the most part just mind their own business. I do like to watch them, because they have many little tricks. Their push up movements reminds me of low rider cars doing their thing with the hydraulic lifts. The lizards also do some head bobbing and puffing up. As kids, we thought the push ups were to keep their little bodies off the hot rocks, but it turns out that the movements are signals for courting, communicating among their own kind, and showing dominance over other lizard tribes or romantic rivals.

Thorny Issue--Cactus Sticker Removal

As a cactus lover, I've had my share of stickers over the years, and not just in my hands. I've fallen into a cactus patch with some serious damage to my legs and backside, and I've even had a barb in my cheek. I was lucky not to have put out an eye! I've found that the best way to remove Opuntia glochids, which have rearward angled microscopic barbs, is to use regular white household glue. Generously coat the affected area, wait until completely dry, and then peel it off. Most of the glochids will come out onto the glue. You will know it if spine fragments remain under the skin, but there's not much more to do at home. It sometimes takes two to eight months for the discomfort from the embedded barb fragments to go away. If it is really painful or looks infected, a trip to the doctor is usually necessary so that the little bumps can be "unroofed," as my doctor called the procedure.

I've found the best defense against thorns, glochids, and barbs is GardenArmor™ Garden Gloves. Unlike leather, which is easily penetrated, the special coating on these gloves prevents entry of even the toughest spine. The material is thin enough so that it's easy to remain dexterous.

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