Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What Can Happen in a Week?

Ash-throated flycatcher 6-7-09

The sun shines brightly over Sycamore Canyon when I awake on Sunday morning. I fell into bed exhausted last night but woke early with the sun. Now I am sitting out on my patio enjoying the cool temperature as I try to process the events of the past week. It is 6:30 a.m. MST and the birds are all around me fluttering and singing, eating and flying. My yard and the wash around me is a very active place. Could it really be that just a week ago my youngest child got married?

Diane, the bride 5-31-09

Diane made a beautiful bride as she walked down the aisle. Alex and Diane asked me to be their photographer, so I was preoccupied with trying to make sure I got all the shots they would want. Now as I look through and process the photos it brings tears to my eyes. What a beautiful day it was. What a beautiful bride.

Alex and Diane say their vows 5-31-09

I use to wonder if Alex would ever take this step, but now, here he was promising to love another woman for the rest of his life. When he was 4 years old, he insisted he would marry me when he grew up. Now my baby has a new love for the rest of his life. We left the wedding reception around 5:30 in the afternoon. After a 2 1/2 hour ride home we barely made it in time to let the poor dog out before turning around and heading back to Tucson to pick up my brother Stephen at the airport.

Stephen working on his webpage 6-4-09

This is my brother Stephen's first time visiting me in Arizona. As the owner and writer of the American Triathlon Calender he is a busy man. He brings his laptop everywhere to keep up with his website. Stephen grew the Calender from a small web page he wrote using Web TV to the largest Triathlon Calendar in the world. On his way to visit me he stopped off in Boise, ID to run a duathlon with his new business partner. Stephen will be here for a week before returning to CT.

Stephen runs up the mountainside in Sycamore Canyon 6-4-09

He wants to do some high altitude training, so he maps out a mile course up through the new Sombra neighborhood. Here the road is paved, but there are no houses yet, so it is a peaceful place to run with views of the mountains and birds and wildlife all around. The jackrabbits and cottontails watch as Stephen runs up....

...and Stephen runs down.

Gus shows off his stitches 6-4-09

When we first made these plans for Stephen to come, there wasn't any wedding planned, nor any surgery for Gus, but on Tuesday Gus had surgery for his carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar neuropathy. Both of Gus' wrists and elbows bother him. It got so bad that he could no longer hold the camera up to shoot pictures. We got him the smaller Cannon, which is what he uses now. Since then I have taken primary control of the Nikon D80. He wanted to have this surgery done months ago, but it was delayed by the need for an angiogram first. Finally he got the all clear and the surgery was scheduled. They did the left hand first and when that heals up they will do the right hand. He came home the same day groggy and in pain. On Wednesday he got worse and on Thursday he ran a fever. It was our anniversary this day, but it went unnoticed. I just wanted Gus to get well. We had all planned on going out for dinner on this day, but those plans had to be scrapped. Meanwhile, a new idea was born...

Stephen observes saguaro ribs 6-5-09

... Stephen would run a race in Arizona! He looked for races nearby and the only one we could find was in Ft. Huachuca on Saturday, the day he had to leave. Thankfully, he didn't have to leave until the evening, so he signed up. But first I take Stephen for a walk through my beautiful desert. Everyday I live here I love it even more. The weather is so wonderful. I can be outside almost any day of the year. On Friday our skies were overcast allowing for a comfortable stroll through the desert. for the first time since he arrived, Stepehn got up close to a saguaro. Farther down the path I showed his the ribs of a dead saguaro. He found this plant fascinating with its inner support system and outed pleated skin. We could hear the wind whining as it blew through the saguaro spines and we watched as the giants cacti swayed gently like a tree in the wind. the saguaros we walked past were probably close to 200 years old with their large size and many arms. It takes anywhere from 40 to 60 years for a saguaro to even begin to sprout arms!

Lizard 6-5-09

Since it was windy and the middle of the day we did not see a lot of birds but, but the lizards scampered everywhere. We also saw cottontails and giant jack-rabbits. We had a pleasant walk.

Xavier meets his uncle Stephen 6-5-09

Later on Friday afternoon Trish and Xavier arrived to meet my brother. Though G and Trish have been married for over 5 years now, this is the first time that Trish has met my brother and the first time Stephen has seen his new nephew. I think they have the same eyebrows! Then, while I watched Xavier, Trish drove Stephen off to pick up a racing bike he rented to use in the Fort Huachuca Duathlon the next day!

Yep, my brother Stephen is participating in a duathlon! While he has run a triathlon before, this will be his second duathlon in a week! He found the race online because he wants to run a road race in every state. So, early on Saturday morning we got up and drove to Sierra Vista where Ft. Huachuca sits at the base of the Huachuca Mountains. Ft. Huachuca is a well known birding destination, but we are not going to the canyons where the best birds are, we are going to the corner of Site Monitor Road and Whitside, where the race begins.

Stephen sets up his bike 6-6-09

It is a sunny and windy day in Sierra Vista. The road is blocked off for the run and the nearby music speakers blast a song with lyrics that say "running with the devil..." don't ask me who sings it, but it was perky enough and loud enough to scare away almost all of the birds! Yes, I brought my bins and camera with me. I had my notepad and pen in my back pocket, just in case I got the opportunity to count birds!

Before the race begins the national anthem is played and everyone places their hands over their hearts or salutes. I see people of all ages here, from old veterans to young children. All are ready to run 2 miles, bike 10 and then run 2 more miles. Me? I'm just here to observe people and birds! The race is put on by Thunder Mountain Running Club and the Army's MWR which I find out stands for Moral, Welfare and Recreation. Before the race we meet Lynn Jones, Vice President of The Thunder Mountain Running Club who is a triathlete herself.

They're off!

Stephen waves as he runs past.

As if on cue a roadrunner runs down the same street! I hope he read the sign first!

In the distance the Huachuca mountains rise.

Turning the corner to mount the bikes...

I watch as my brother rides off and wait anxiously for his return. He is so competitive and so fast I am sure he will be returning soon, but rider after rider passes me and still no brother. I walk about 1/2 mile down the road to get farther away from the blaring music in hopes of seeing some birds, but all I see are mourning doves and ravens and another road runner hiding in a tree. Finally I see Stephen and he comes riding up to me. He has a story to tell of a popped tire and a good Samaritan who helped him change it so he could finish the race!

We never got his name but he had the best smile!
Thank you whoever you are!

Though Stephen's time is way off now, he does the best that he can...

...and burns it up at the finish line at 8:30 a.m.!

40 minutes later the last runner crosses the line. Everyone cheers her on...

...then it is time for the awards. There are trophies and medals in every category. This young man poses for a photo for his beaming parents.

Stephen and Greg McQuaide 6-6-09

While we wait, we make new friends.

Then we head home to return the bike. Stephen has to leave tonight. I will be sad to see him go. We are both exhausted since we have been awake since 3 a.m. and up since 4 a.m. for the race. However, I take Stephen by Saguaro National Park East's visitor center so he can buy a couple of gifts for his grandchildren. While we are there I look out the picture window and for the first time since I moved here over 2 years ago I see...


There, napping in the shade by the building! And they have babies! Cute babies! So cute I want to run out and pick one up, but I don't, because that would be really stupid! Javalinas can give a nasty bite and will defend their young viciously. So, instead I rush excitedly over to Stephen who is browsing the gift shelves and drag him to the window. What a way to end the day!

Kathie and Stephen 6-6-09

We return home where Stephen takes a shower while Gus orders pizza. We have just a short time to eat before I have to take him to the airport. Due to Gus' surgery we didn't do half of the things we had planned on, but we still had a really good time. I had so much fun at the duathlon. I hope my brother will return and do it again next year! He is trying to get me to do it with him, but I don't know... can I count birds and run at the same time?

As I drive Stephen to the airport we talk about the Adams Road Race which is coming up later this month. In a little more than a week I will be boarding a plane for Connecticut where Stephen will pick me up at Bradly International Airport and I intend to count birds all over New England and in New York City!

The birds are visiting me in large numbers here this morning. I had not intended to count birds today as I sit here on the patio recalling the events of this week, but as species after species flies by I can't resist. Soon I am glad I did, for in the 2 hours I sit outside I see over 20 species of birds, including 2 Ash-throated Flycatchers! I have also had black-throated sparrows on a reagular basis lately. I can only assume that they are feeling more comfortable as the vegetation fills in from the original construction. I think this may be the largest yard list I have ever recordeded in one day.

Birds seen from my yard on Sunday, June 7, 2009

1. Turkey Vulture (1)

2. Gambel's Quail (9 adults + 5 juveniles = 14)

3. Mourning Dove (13)

4. White-winged dove (2)

5. Pigeon (30)

6. Gila Woodpecker (3)

7. Gilded flicker (5)

8. Costa's hummingbird (5)

9. Purple martin (1)

10. Say's Phoebe (1)

11. Ash-throated Flycatcher (2)

12. Raven (2)

13. Cactus Wren (3)

14. Curve-billed thrasher (3)

15. Canyon towhee (1)

16. Black-throated sparrow (2)

17. Northern Cardinal (1)

18. Brown-headed Cowbird (1)

19. House Finch (15)

20. Lesser Goldfinch (12)

21. House sparrow (29)

Apparently a lot can happen in a week!

(I hope you will return to read further adventures in Sycamore Canyon. Plus, I will post a New River Wrap-up later on this week.)


Gaelyn said...

Wow, you have been one busy lady. The bridge and groom look exquisite. Your running brother is quite handsome. Hope Gus is doing well after surgery. Have a great trip east. You deserve some down time.

Deborah Godin said...

Boy, I'll say - you really had a jam-packed time! Wonderful photos of all the big events, you have a lovely growing family!

Girl Tornado said...

What a busy (and fun) week you have had. :) I loved all your photos since I love AZ. Mom sold her house in Cottonwood last year, but when she spent a month there in April she couldn't resist and bought a mobile home so she can go back in winter. :) I'm glad, now I can visit again!

Those pics of the javelina are awesome and the baby is sooo cute.

Heather said...

Wow Kathie, that IS a busy week! I hope Gus gets back to his old self soon. Lovely pictures of your family, must have been great to have your brother visiting. Take care!

Anonymous said...

A busy week, but well worth it, I'd say. What lovely family memories you have to look back on - and it's so good to hear Gus is getting his surgery behind him.

Kathie Brown said...

Gaelyn, thanks for stopping by. It has been a busy couple of months and I won't get much down time in CT. I already have a full schedule. Perhaps I will get some down time when I come home. Usully the Monsoon is peaceful for me except for the excitment of the storms!

Deborah, thank you so much! It has been busy but I do love my family!

Oz Girl, thanks! AZ is a wonderful place and I fall in love with it more every day! It was so awesome to see the javalinas! I can see why your mom can't stay away!

Heather, having my brother here was a blast and I loved showing him the desert!

Wren, thank you! Hopefully he will heal well because he still needs the other arm done!

Dawn Fine said...

Beautiful post!

Yes allot can happen in a week...you sure did experience allot...surgeries, wedding, diathalon.birds,new beginnings...

Congratulations on the marriage of your youngest son!
Congrats on your anniversary...you had mentioned briefly a new idea was born..and re=read and somehow missed what the new idea was...I am curious now..

I bet it was nice seeing Arizona through a new comers eyes..i know when I first went to Arizona..everything was so different and amazing!

The baby havalina is soo cute!

Where in Ct will you be? We move our Homey from Ma. to Ledyard, CT. the day before fathers day and will be there a month..
I will keep you informed about the Az,Birders who blog, tweet and chirp get together..so glad you are interested and I look forward to meeting part of the VA. gang!

nina at Nature Remains. said...

A Roadrunner--PERFECT!

Anonymous said...

Great story telling as usual! I am glad that Gus is doing better. That roadrunner with your comment, too funny! The Javalinas priceless!

kesslerdee said...

Well congratulations-it was fun seeing a little of your family life!

Doug Taron said...

Sounds like you had a great time with your brother. Tell Gus I hope he's feeling better, and that I got to see the Sox beat the Yankees at Fenway on Wednesday night. I'll be in Tucson July 25- Aug 2.

DeniseinVA said...

Wow, what a busy week, I feel exhausted just thinking all you did in such a short space of time. It was great to see your son's wedding, you with your brother, Xavier and Gus, the activities at the run and oh my gosh you ended up with that cute experience with the javelina's. And then the bird count. I enjoyed it all Kathie, so well written and awesome to read. Have a nice RELAXING weekend. I hope Gus' hand is feeling better and that he isn't in so much pain.

Kathie Brown said...

Dawn you are right. I wasn't very clear about that. It comes from writing too fast and with little time for review. I have since fixed the information. The new idea was that my brother would run a road race in AZ. Thanks for pointing that out to me! As for CT, I will be nearby to where you are but my time is so limited and scheduled already that I doubt I would get a chance to say Hi. Sorry! It would be nice though!

Nina, Hi! I need to come see you!

DJB, thank you on all counts. Gus gets better everyday. He can't wait to get his stitches out!

Dee, thanks! It was fun to have my brother here.

Doug, Gus watched that game and he is jealous! I hope we will get to see you while you are in town.

Denise, thank YOU for all your kind comments! We did get a good rest this weekend and now its back to work! I have to clean house before I leave on Tuesday for CT and more birding adventures! Gus will be here with the pets holding down the fort.