Hacienda flowers and butterflies

black-beauty2

Black Beauty

Her real name is Polydamus Swallowtail – not a variety we see in Texas. We were intrigued that most of the flowers and bushes were the same as we have in the sub-tropics but much more lush. I buy my plants from a nursery and the owners come from Guadalajara and for some reason, they never die. It helps that they are actually grown just a few miles from my home.

striped-butterfly

Band celled sister

Isn’t this one a beauty. We get a similar zebra stripe in Texas but it is so exciting to see new varieties.

poinsettias

Poinsettia

red-blossom

Gladioli

I had to put in a shot of a Ponsettia – it was Mexico and Feliz Navidad! The chili peppers below were just so tempting…

Chili Peppers

Chili Peppers

yellow-butterfly

Julia Heliconian

One final shot of Miss Julia Heliconian, wearing a beautiful yellow outfit. I have that little coral bush in my garden but it very rarely flowers.

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The Chicken Murder…

Feral chickens in Ybor

Feral chickens in Ybor

It’s Friday, the global market is falling apart so let’s have a laugh and get down to basics. As soon as Teddy got his job offer, I raced to the internet to book a short trip before he started work. It had to be somewhere hot, not raining and preferably with wildlife – so Tampa it was. In the next week I will give you a step-by-step tour but I just want to share this story.

We went to the old town of Ybor in the center of Tampa to look at the architecture and museum. I noticed all the chickens on porches of houses and businesses. It reminded me of Key West where you are not permitted to harm them. After we spoke to the museum ranger, she confirmed that it was much the same in Ybor. When the Cuban immigrants moved here they brought the practice of cock-fighting, so they banned any mistreatment of the chickens. Now they are feral, like pigeons, but much prettier.

The ranger went on to tell us that she was leading a party of museum guests (including children) when they heard a blood-curdling scream from outside. They all ran out to see a red tailed hawk blissfully eating his lunch (a young chicken) in the tree with blood dripping down into the courtyard. The city folks were traumatized but I almost fell on the floor laughing. It would have been a perfect opportunity to show that chicken nuggets don’t come that way and that the cute little baby hawks need to be fed, too.

On a more serious note, I am quite knowledgeable about animal husbandry both from living on a farm, having grandparents who were farmers and working in animal sanctuaries. I rarely eat meat and always try to eat happy meat. In Scotland, our butcher used to accompany all his animals to the slaughterhouse and then brought them back. On the chalkboard would be listed which animal you were eating today. This is why you should give thanks for every animal that has died to feed you. It was much the same in Egypt. One day you are living on the farm, next day you go for a little trip, someone chooses you and snap you are in chicken heaven. That is a much better life than most first world chickens.

Since I took such delight in the chicken murder, the ranger took us aside and told us about her sister in New York who is a teacher. They had a biology project where they children cared for a caterpillar that pupated and finally emerged as a beautiful butterfly. The children were so excited to gather in the playground to release the butterflies. As soon as they did, a flock of blue jays came and ate every single butterfly! Can you believe that they got counselors in? What the heck is wrong with parents today – you should tell your children where there dinner comes from and then there might be more vegetarians around. Again, it was a perfect opportunity to show pictures of fluffy little baby blue jays that also needed fed…

Teddy and I did wonder if the blue jays gathered at the school every year for the lovely buffet lunch that was provided by the kind children. 😉 HAPPY FRIDAY!!! Stop worrying about your stocks and shares, you could have been born a chicken – LOL!

Grand Junction, Colorado

colorado national monument Grand Junction is a lovely little town in west Colorado, very close to the Utah border. It has the nearest airport to access Moab in Utah. United Express flies regularly from Houston. I was accompanying my better half who was training in the field. When I last went to Moab, I thought that Grand Junction was just lovely and this time the trip was focused there. It seems to be an affluent little town nestled between the most magnificent mountains and canyons. The Main Street is partially pedestrianized and I was really fortunate to be there during the town’s Cinco de Mayo’s fiesta. The sun was shining and everyone seemed so happy. The dancers were local Hispanic young men and women and their families, who mostly looked like migrant farm workers, were proudly applauding their various dance sets. It was very impressive – not just the dancing but the beautifully intricate costumes which must have been expensive. Despite the nearby mountains, the valley is fertile with orchards, vineyards and other produce. Not far from town is the Colorado National Monument, a national park which preserves one of the United States most fabulous landscapes. There are amazing views into the red rock canyons and valleys and it is easily accessible. I drove there early in the morning and it was fantastic watching the sun burn off the morning clouds, illuminating the rosy sediments. It was really easy to negotiate the roads around Grand Junction, get deliberately lost out in the countryside and wind slowly up the canyon roads. Small town living is so appealing when you live in one of the largest conurbations in the US. Click on the link for some lovely photographs and read about my adventures.POSTCARD FROM GRAND JUNCTION – click here