A Butterfly Grows in My Garden

…floating effortlessly on the soft breezes, possibly to lift our spirits lowered by the demise of the baby hummingbirds, is a butterfly sprite of cerulean polka dots and bands of gold called Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa).

butterflyrock6

With a nod to Lizzi @ Considerings who asked the question on her Facebook page and got me thinking about one of my favorite books, Betty Smith’s 1943 novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; here in my garden, although water use is now restricted because of the drought and we can no longer grow brightly colored but thirsty blossoms, there’s still beauty if you look for it.

Mother Nature is amazing.

Catching some rays on the rock garden.
butterflyrock1So pretty…
butterflyrock2 Can I come a little closer?butterflyrock5What grows in YOUR garden?

The Final Installment of Princess Rosebud’s Empowering Road Trip

California is beautiful.

Everyone should go on a road trip vacay and drive down (or up) the coast through the central coast along Highway One.

It’s spectacular.

The scenery is amazing and the views are breathtaking, BUT driving around Big Sur, the twistywindytwolanehighway is SCARY, more so if you’ve previously experienced a near death event.

One one side, there’s the vertigo-inducing views of the Pacific Ocean beneath a precipitous embankment, and on the other side, close enough so that if you open a window and reach out, you could almost touch the mountain.

“Mom, why is your lip bleeding?”

“Because I’m biting it to keep from screaming.”

“SLOW DOWN. SLOWDOWNSLOWDOWN!”

“See the red lights on the car in front of us? That is your very obvious CLUE that you need to react and SLOW DOWN.”

“Sssllllooowwwwdddooowwwnnnn…” says the crazy backseat driver.

“Heeheehee.” That’s Angel Boy chuckling at my terror.

“How about leaving a little more distance between you and the car in front of us?”

“Would that be too much to ask?”

My right thigh was becoming numb as I constantly phantom-braked during that entire death defying journey.

I clutched the dash so tightly, I thought they’d have to pry my fingers off of it.

In the back seat, DIL was listening to music and texting, observing this exchange between mother and son.

(I think she was laughing, too.)

My son lives his entire life by multi-tasking every single moment of every single day.

Even while driving, he’s eating, talking to his GPS, and carrying on two conversations.

His new name is Dr. Distracto, because the ONE thing he needed to concentrate on — DRIVING — what should have been his primary focus — was third or fourth on the list of what garnered his attention.

“Geez, pay attention to the traffic, would you?”

“STOOPPPPP!”

I was hyperventilating, fanning my face, telling him, “Do you want to give me a heart attack?”

Remember that film I liked, Guilt Trip, with Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogan?
(Read my review HERE of the best Jew-mom film EVER.)

This was OUR version of a road trip.

It was actually pretty funny. In reality, my son is a good driver in spite of being an absent minded professor.

When it was all over and we were once again on wide, straight roads, I apologized for my bout of insanity and praised his patience and even tempered disposition.

I highly recommend camping with one’s adult child and spouse.

I haven’t heard about too many other people who’ve done this. Let me know if you have and maybe we could start a club.

Popping a squat side-by-side on the trail with one’s DIL makes for a great bonding moment.

They had thoughtfully packed two tents, a huge family-sized Hobitat, and a smaller one in case I wanted to sleep in my own tent, and not with them.

I chose the “mother-in-law” unit because I didn’t want to disturb anyone or crawl over them if I had to get up and to to the bathroom at 3 a.m.

Two highlights of our road trip were day hikes  to Jade Cove and Julia Pfeiffer State Park.

I’ve always wanted to explore Jade Cove but I had no idea that it was going to become the challenge of a lifetime.

I had no idea that the only way to get down to where the jade could be found was by rope. THIS was where the EMPOWERMENT really kicked in.

NO WAY was I gonna do that.

Nope. Never. Not in a million years.

It should have been an absolute dealbreaker, but my desire for jade and serptentine treasures made me think I MIGHT be able to take the risk.

It would have been such a shame to come all this way and give in to my fears.

My son patiently coaxed me and DIL all the way and made sure we safely descended the nearly vertical bluffs, while he scrambled down like a mountain goat.

I AM EMPOWERED. 

(My hair looks HORRIBLE, but I’m grinning from ear to ear.)

jadecoveme1

The Jade Cove Trail is a simple flat path that loops out to the coast with a steep but short path down to the water where you can hunt for jade (please follow local regulations about collecting rocks.)

From the top.

Jadecove1 Jadecove2
jadecove4
jadecove9 Animal print kelp?jadecovekelpTreasures from Jade Cove!
JadeCovetreasures2

After that, we drove to Julia Pfieffer State Park for a day hike. This state park is named after Julia Pfeiffer Burns, a well respected pioneer woman in the Big Sur country. The park stretches from the Big Sur coastline into nearby 3,000-foot ridges. It features redwood, tan oak, madrone, chaparral, and an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean from the Overlook Trail. A panoramic view of the ocean and miles of rugged coastline is available from the higher elevations along the trails east of Highway 1.

Overlook Trail and the cove with famous turquoise water.

juliap7McWay Falls, one of only two coastal waterfalls in California, where McWay Creek falls 80 feet over a granite cliff onto a sandy beach, or at high tide directly into the Pacific Ocean.Juliap8McWay Creek
JuliaP1 JuliaP2 juliap3 Majestic redwoodsjuliap4Squint your eyes and you can see Angel Boy and DIL at the base of the gigantic redwoods.
Juliap5 juliap6And now FINALLY, tugboat man’s flight has been confirmed and I’ll be driving to the airport tonight. He might not be home long enough to go back to to Montana de Oro or Jade Cove, but here in SoCal, surf is up and the champs on ice, so life is good.

Bottom line: Empowerment is empowering. At any age.

Read the rest of my Empowerment Series here:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

No Rain But Maybe a Tugboat Man Sighting?

I’m STILL trying to finish up the EMPOWERING series about my recent camping trip and what it’s like to go on a road trip with an adult son and daughter-in-law (funny),  but got news late last night that my erstwhile tugboat man MIGHT be flying home TOMORROW — what’s up with not giving any warning??? — and that changes everything in my world.

I don’t have flight information yet, but all signals point to a positive outcome.

Sheesh, he better not get called back again while we’re driving home from the airport. THAT wasn’t any fun at all. I know that’s the life of a merchant mariner, but it still sucks.

He says he misses me, and I’m sure he DOES, but there’s a HUGE south swell coming this weekend from Hurricane Blanca– we all know what he really misses is SURF.

Ha ha.

No, REALLY.

Now that we’re down to watering only two days a week and no rain, the grass is already brown and all the other plants look stressed and thirsty.

SoCal gardens might not be as lush as those of yours who have enough rain, but there’s a bit of color to be found if you search for it.

Mandevilla

Mandevilla mandevilla2

Artichokesartichokemay2015 Purple Sagepurplesage1 PurpleSage2015 White Sage

whitesageflower2 WhiteSageFlowers1

Lily of the Nile

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RawrLove for Rara

Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain's Wife:

How about we become the village that helps one of our own? Rara could use a little help rebuilding her life, especially with the recent death of her beloved husband. I can’t even imagine what that must feel like, to know you have to go on without your soul mate and navigate the world solo. Every little bit helps. Thank you!

Originally posted on Fear No Weebles:

We interrupt our regular programming (I know, I know, the programming hasn’t been regular for a while, I’m getting to that) to bring you this very important message…….


This one is for Rara, the well-loved blogger whom you may know as Rarasaur. As you may already know, Rara has been serving a prison sentence for the past year—we don’t have to get into the details here—she has written about her situation in detail on her blog. Suffice it to say, she was given a bum rap. She’s scheduled to be released in a few months.

A few weeks ago, her beloved husband, whom you may know as Grayson Queen (also known as Dave), died suddenly. He died way too soon and way too young. His last posts are haunting; he wrote of not feeling well and described some troubling symptoms. And then the posts stopped.

DJMatticus took on…

View original 281 more words

Empty Nest Disaster

I need to finish the last bits of my empowering road trip, but first must share sad, sad news.

When I woke up this morning, the first thing I did (as always) was to check on the baby hummingbirds.

They have grown so much and by my calculations, would be fledging the nest next week.

I took this picture on Sunday.

HummyMay303

When I didn’t see two little heads bobbing up and down and squirming around, I opened the back door and saw this empty nest.

Hummyemptynestjune1

The chimes upon which the nest was built was in disarray and a feeling of dread washed over me.

I knew something bad had happened, but couldn’t find any clues to suggest who or what had attacked the nest.

I had one last hope; that the two babies were in the mulberry tree that shades the deck, and were only trying out their new wings.

But then mom flew by and sat on the nest looking all around.

She was as confused as I was.

Calling out to her babies, I could feel her distress.

Over the course of the morning, she’s flown back no less than a dozen times, looking everywhere for her children, which confirms my worst fear that they were abducted by a raccoon or a crow or even a hawk.

But this story gets worse.

As I climbed on the bench to peer inside the empty nest and to snap a pic, I positioned the nest/chimes with my hand to get a better angle.

When I went back in the house to sit down and email tugboat man the tragic news, I saw tiny little creatures crawling on my hand.

I HAD BIRD MITES ON ME.

After washing my hands and arms more times than Lady Macbeth and dousing my entire upper body with rubbing alcohol, I took a boiling hot shower and scrubbed myself and my hair three times.

The mere thought of a creature in my hair and I knew my life would be OVER. Thick, long, curly hair is hard enough to deal with, but the thought of mites nesting up there provokes extreme mental anxiety.

I threw away the shirt I was wearing and washed the other clothes twice in bleach and hot water, so much bleach that they’re now completely devoid of color at this point.

Then I freaked out that the mites were going to invade the house and with gloves on, cut down the nest and chimes and put them into a sealed bag to put in the trash or somehow keep the chimes if I can sterilize them to my satisfaction.

After that, I found ant spray (the only chemicals around) and sprayed every possible surface on the deck and the eaves where the chimes/nest had been.

Bird mite infestations from nests is a real thing. There are horror stories on the internet about it.

Crap.

I wonder how long the feeling that things are crawling on me is going to last?

I’m a clean freak ANYWAY, but this is pushing me over the edge, and hub is out of cell range and not available to calm me down and/or offer his sage advice.

An empty nest is bad enough. To be violently snatched from a warm bed in the middle of the night is every mother’s nightmare.

I don’t know what to say to the hummy mom.

Even now, she’s desperately searching for her babies and there’s no way I can tell her that they’re gone forever.

Her heartache is palpable. I can FEEL her pain.

Hub and I fell in love with the whole process, from watching mom build the nest to laying the jellybean sized eggs to watching them hatch and grow.

This is not the ending I could have predicted.

Poor mom.

She’s extremely distraught; even as I’m typing this, I still hear her calling to them.

Who said animals don’t feel things?

Because of course they do.

A mother’s love has no equal.

I feel like I let down mom down, that she trusted me to help her take care of her precious kids, and I failed miserably.

One of my favorite photos…

Property of enchantedseashells.com

Property of enchantedseashells.com

Sometimes Mother Nature sucks.

June 1 SUCKS.

Princess Rosebud’s Empowered Solo Vacation: Part Three

Hiking at Montana de Oro.

After a horrible night of not much sleep thanks to a bunch of obnoxious college students who must have been too drunk to understand that, to most people, camping means peace and quiet, not a beer binged free-for-all, we embarked on a day hike.

Our goal was Valencia Peak, but we first made a loop up Oats Peak Trail.

Valencia Peak is a coastal mountain located within Montana De Oro State Park. This trail offers gorgeous views of the Central Coast, great views of Morro Bay, Cayucos, and on clear days, you can see Cambria and beyond — with amazing views of Spooner’s Cove to the south.

It’s an easy trail with gentle elevation gain; I didn’t even need the alpine walking sticks I packed.

The spectacular views begin right away as you ascend up onto a saddle, and the rest of the hike is before your eyes.

The trail gets a little harder the closer you get to the top.

DIL and I stopped shy of the peak; my son wanted to run to the top and back, so we took a break, ate lunch, and admired the view of the ocean.

There was cell service, so I called tugboat man to say hi and to let him know we are DEFINITELY going to spend a few days here when he returns.

The views are beyond breathtaking. It feels like you’re on top of the world.

The hike down is much easier, but watch out for rattlesnakes. We saw a baby, whose venom is more potent than the adult rattlesnake.

Not too difficult, right?
montanadeorohike1

Ah-may-ZINGmontanadeorohike2 Kind of a hazy day, but perfect hiking weather.montanadeorohike3My little goat boy.
montanadeorohike4A narrow passage.montanadeorohike5View from the Visitor’s Center.
montanadeorohike6Part Four: Jade Cove, Julia Pfeiffer, Cambria, and Costanoa.

Princess Rosebud’s Empowered Solo Vacation: Part Two

After the mostly tranquil train ride (except for one poorly parented relentlessly screamingfordonuts toddler who seemed not to be bothered by her screeching while staring at their smartphones), I was met at the train station in sunny Santa Barbara by Professor Angel Boy and we stopped for lunch at an organic foods cafe.

We made an unscheduled detour because he wanted to check out the surf at Morro Bay, and because it’s always really all about him, that’s what we did.

Driving up the coast to Morro Bay.
campingmaysantabarbara2

I’m not much of a seagull lover, but this guy was too photogenic to ignore.campingmay22seagullmorrobayAfter a brief surf session, we continued to Montana de Oro State Park, six miles southwest of Morro Bay and seven miles south of Los Osos on Pecho Road.

It’s fairly rural and rustic, but SO beautiful. We set up camp and were able to manage a late afternoon hike.

With the sun low in the sky; clouds and fog actively moving over the tops of the mountains, it was serene and enervating at the same time.

campingmaymontana3

Crossing a small creek.campingmaymontanawater

Lichen.

campingmaymontanalichen2Pretty yellow flowers.
campingmaymontanaflowersAh-MAY-zing view.campingMay23oroA mole peeking out of his hole.
campingmaymontanamole

Quail are everywhere and for a while, their melodic conversations were the only sounds we heard. These guys were walking around directly outside my tent.

Later that evening, after a relaxing fire and glass of wine, we heard the unmistakable scream/growl of a bobcat across the canyon.

At that moment, life was perfection. The only way it could have been better was if tugboat man wasn’t oceans away and not able to enjoy our holiday.

Little did we know that in a few short hours, in sharp contrast to this beauty and tranquility, we would endure the WORST EVER camping experience of our lives.

As we settled down to a good night’s sleep under a star-filled sky, a group of approximately twenty college students set up their camp nearby and proceeded to drink and yell and party LOUDLY until 4:30 a.m. in spite of the 10pm-7am quiet time rules.

Apparently, nobody, including us, got up to inform the camp host or the rangers of this HELL we had to endure, but we all complained to him the next day.

Just awful.

However, at approximately 3:30 a.m. just as we were dozing, or trying to, during the bacchanal, three fat raccoons furiously attempted to tear apart the locked food cabinet next to our picnic table. My son had to get up and shoo them away, and as he put the food in the car, one of them tried to sneak in.

Amazing.

It was an eventful night.

Right after THAT little adventure, a bobcat screamed so close we thought it was within feet of where we were sleeping, and figured that he had an altercation with those raccoons.

No one slept much after that, because we wanted to stay awake in case we could see him walk by.

No luck with the bobcat sighting, but as I unzipped my tent in the morning, see who was looking at me? An beautiful gray fox. These aren’t the best pics because I was in such a hurry to snap them before he ran off.

campingMay23fox1 campingmay25fox2

What an astonishing gift to sort of make up for the rude frat boys.

So far, quite an adventure, don’t you agree?

Part Three: A Ten-Mile Hike

Princess Rosebud’s EMPOWERING Solo Adventure

(Blogging from the train, which is OK except for spotty wifi and my paragraph edits aren’t working, so this post won’t look exactly right.)


“It’s never too late to become empowered” she said.

Well, thank you very much for that unwanted opinion.
At 6:15 a.m., I was the first one in line when the Amtrak Station opened up.
I’m on my way to Santa Barbara to meet my son/DIL and have a little camping and hiking vacation. This is something that tugboat man and I had been looking forward to, but alas, he was called back to work immediately upon arriving home, so I decided to be a BRAVE princess and venture forth into the big scary world all by myself.
What was I thinking??
Confession: I’m not much of a traveler. Although I do travel alone from time to time, mostly tugboat man and I are together and he takes care of everything and all I do is stand here or sit there and do as I’m instructed, moving from point A to point B.  It works out better that way for both of us if he takes the lead. I mean, he’s so GOOD at it, and it reduces my stress level (and his) if he does all the thinking.
But this adventure is all my own.
My son’s dad picked me up a little before 5:45 a.m. to give me a ride to the train station, which is why I was there bright and early at 6:15.
I had many questions for the Amtrak employee:
1. Where do I go?
2. Where will the train be?
3. How will I know it’s the right one?
4. Where will I sit?
5. Where will my son pick me up?
6. Where will I find my suitcase?
7. Will you lose my luggage?
I explained to her that I never travel alone and I’ve only taken the train one time twenty years ago, and that’s when she proceeded to give me a life lesson that I didn’t expect, didn’t ask for, and didn’t really need.
“I never travel alone.”
“Well, you DO travel, don’t you?”
“Yes, but when my husband and I travel, he takes care of everything”
That’s when she said, “It’s never too late to become empowered”
I have to admit her tone was ever-so-slightly snarky, and this was corroborated by the nice young man from the United States Marine Corps (whom I have attached myself to for dear life).
He was standing next to me listening to all of my questions and I believe that he felt sorry for me (reminded him of his mom) and felt like he was performing in the intereste of our national security to guide me on the train when it arrived, and now we’re sitting next to each other.
He’s on leave for Memorial Day to his family ranch in Los Osos.
Of course, I thanked him for his service and I must say that I feel very safe and in good hands until my son collects me from Baggage lol.
Stress level is high, but if I could make my way SOLO to Goettingen, Germany to stalk visit my son while he was there for his junior year abroad, I can certainly sit on a train for four hours with my own personal USMC escort, dontcha think?
After all, like I keep telling my Angel Boy, that umbilical cord will stretch, but will never evereverever BREAK.
There isn’t a place on earth he can go that I won’t follow.
I know that sounds like a threat, but it’s really not. It’s just a mother’s LOVE.
I stand corrected…an EMPOWERED mother’s love.
Here’s a few pics from the train…
Train1 train2 train3 train4

Let’s Not Forget The Merchant Marine on Memorial Day, OK?

We honor all who served and made the ultimate sacrifice, but let’s never forget our merchant mariners.

California…December 1941: Submarine Sinks U.S. Ship; Fires on Rescue Boats

Montebello1941rescueYou can read about the attack of an oil tanker off the coast of Cambria, California here. The oil tanker crew were all merchant seamen.

http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1941/12/24/page/5/article/submarine-sinks-u-s-ship-fires-on-rescue-boats

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the pipeline oil spill in Santa Barbara. 

That’s where I’m headed tomorrow by Amtrak train  to meet my son/DIL for a few days of camping and hiking along the California coast while my tugboat man tows an eight-hundred-foot barge across the high seas.

Did you know that all tugboats (and I’m sure other vessels) have an Oil Spill Response Plan?

That’s part of hub’s job, to respond to oil spills and actively contain them. He’s nowhere near Santa Barbara, so he’s not part of that cleanup, but he’s been involved in cleaning other spills. 


Our United States Merchant Marine had the highest casualty rate during World War II, yet received no GI benefits…

The U.S. Merchant Marine has rarely received its due recognition in helping the Allies win World War II, although mariners were the first to go, last to return and suffered the highest casualty rate of any group that served.

One in twenty-six mariners was killed in World War II; by comparison, one in 34 Marines was killed.

The first American victim of Axis aggression was not at Pearl Harbor, but a Merchant Marine ship two years earlier.

By the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, 243 mariners had already died from Axis attacks on the ships that shuttled materiel to U.S. allies already at war.

The Merchant Marine suffered its own Pearl Harbor at the Italian port of Bari, Dec. 2, 1943, when a German air attack sank 17 Allied merchant ships with a loss of more than 1,000 lives. The attack released a cargo of 100 tons of mustard gas bombs.

The conflict claimed 8,300 mariner lives at sea and wounded 12,000. At least 1,100 of those wounded succumbed to their injuries.

One in eight mariners experienced the loss of his ship, and more than 1,500 Merchant Marine ships were sunk during the war.

In 1942, on average, 33 Allied ships went down every week.

Until the middle of 1942, German submarines were sinking merchant ships faster than the Allies could build them.

Many of the crews who perished in these sinkings were blown to death or incinerated. Thirty-one ships simply vanished without a trace.

These casualties were kept secret to avoid providing the enemy with information and to keep supplies flowing to soldiers. A soldier at the front required 15 tons of supplies. Most of those supplies moved on ships.

Who were these 250,000 seamen who kept these supplies moving?

The volunteers ranged in age from 16 to 78. Many, like Tom Crosbie of Saybrook Township, dropped out of high school to serve their nation. They were often rejected from other branches of service because of a physical defect – one eye, heart disease, a missing limb.

It was the only racially integrated service during the war.

The end of the war was not the end of their service; 54 ships, including one on which Tom Crosbie was serving, hit mines after Japan and Germany surrendered.

President Roosevelt, upon signing the GI Bill in June 1944, suggested “similar opportunities” would be provided to mariners.

That hope died when Roosevelt passed the following spring.

Mariners were denied everything from unemployment to medical care for disabilities. It took years of court battles for the mariners to finally receive partial veteran status in 1988, too late for many of those who had served.

They continue to seek full, official recognition for themselves and their spouses.

For more information, including pending legislation, visit http://www.usmm.org. From http://www.starbeacon.com/

A Mother’s Love #WordlessWednesday

Our very own full nest.

Property of enchantedseashells.com

Property of enchantedseashells.com

#hummingbird #nature #nestingbirds #birds #MotherNature #love #motherslove