Flowering Mulberry Tree — Photos

Even in SoCal, fruit trees go through the whole process of dropping leaves in the fall, staying dormant through our mild winter, and spring is the time for budding, flowering, and fruit development.

This is our uber-prolific mulberry tree with fresh new leaves and unique flowers.

As the new leaves develop in mid-spring, tiny male and female flowers hang on separate small, slender, inconspicuous spikes. The male cluster is longer, the female rounder.

It’s been unseasonably warm — almost ninety degrees!! — and I think that’s what is causing an early flowering.

mulberry2 mulberry1

Click on the link for my mulberry jam recipe. http://enchantedseashells.com/2013/06/25/here-we-go-round-the-mulberry-bush-tree/

 

*Secret Location* Hike with Princess Rosebud and Her Tugboat Man

Now that my masterful mariner is totes recovered from the flu and the weather is AMAZING, it was time to drag him away from watching surf videos in his man cave and hit the dusty trails.

I can’t tell you where this spot is.

I wish I could but I can’t.

BUT  I promise if you come to my neck of the woods, I’ll blindfold you and take you there and you will LOVE it as much as we do. I promise.

In one direction, there’s a spectacular view of the ocean and off to the east you can see snow high atop the peaks of Mt. San Jacinto near Palm Springs. We could see snow today, but it was a bit hazy and the pic didn’t come out very good.

It used to be a place that only locals knew about; really primitive, but over the years the trails have expanded and are now managed and maintained and protected as open space by the city of Carlsbad, which is one of the FEW good things they’ve ever done (now you know what I think of the politics in my little town).

This secret spot is about five minutes by car from our house; sometimes we ride bicycles there but now we only have one bicycle ‘cos my son took tugboat man’s to a seminar at UC Irvine and it got stolen and we haven’t yet replaced it.

I snapped lots of pics. Click on them for a bigger and better view.

If you think you know where we are, let me know!

 

I’ve Looked At Clouds That Way

We don’t often get the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of cloud formations here in dry Southern California, but I think my new #CanonRebel did a good job of capturing the sheer magnificence of our sky.

Listen to this Joni Mitchell song, “Both Sides Now” as you look at the pics. Cool, huh?

clouds3 clouds4 Clouds1 clouds2

Dripping Caves: Hiking Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park @Orange County, California

alisosignA few days before Christmas, we picked up Angel Boy (my son– and yes, we still call him Angel Boy even though he’s thirty-two-years old!) from the John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

We drove RIGHT BY South Coast Plaza but my mind was too excited to see my baby to care about stopping at Chanel or Valentino or Cartier or Gucci or Harry Winston….HARRY WINSTON!!

Crap, did I just miss an opportunity to check out Chanel???

Sigh, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

Aliso hike

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park is a jewel of solitude and natural beauty in hectic Orange County.

It comprises approximately 4,500 acres of wilderness and natural open space land. Originally, part of the Juaneno or Acajchemem tribal land, it later was owned by Don Juan Avila, Louis Moulton, the Mission Viejo Company, and now is under the jurisdiction of OC Parks.

Within the park lands are mature oaks, sycamores, and elderberry trees, two year-round streams, and over thirty miles of official trails. Many rare and endangered plants and animals make this park their home. This park is designated as a wildlife sanctuary.

To get to the main trailhead for Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, exit the 5 freeway at Alicia Parkway and head towards the ocean.

Of course it was imperative that we feed the child. Whether they’re four or thirty-two, the first thing they think about is FOOD! I had prepared a huge amount of food for the hungry traveler and we ate it at a picnic table near the entrance to the trailhead, under a canopy of old shade trees. He ate a couple of his favorite sandwiches: tuna with celery, apples, nuts, avocado, tomatoes, cheese, and lettuce — along with Lentil Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Veggie Chips, Persimmon Bread, and an apple and an orange. We never fail to marvel at the AMOUNT of food Angel Boy can pack away…and that doesn’t include the nuts and raisins for the hike.

What’s up with that kind of metabolism?

He eats so much and burns it all and needs to eat again every couple of hours or so. This is just his normal — I once took him to an endocrinologist to make sure his levels were OK, and we learned that he’s just an extremely efficient food user. All I can say is that he didn’t get that from me.

After almost eight miles, we drove home — exhausted –but in a good way, and restored by the fragrance of Southern California buckwheat and sage.

Of course it was time for dinner and another feast of epic proportions: the stuff of mom-joy, that’s for sure.

Shadow and light, me and my tugboat man.

alisoparkhike

Great blue heron.

aliisobirdA hidden pocket of water.

Aliso1

More water, rushing over rocks.

Aliso2

A gorgeous meadow and hills, but look at the houses on the hill.
So close to civilization!

aliso4Fairy-like foot bridge.
alisobridge

alisodrippingcave

alisocave

Another cool cave.

alisocave1

Some leaves DO change color in SoCal!alisotree

A happy mom ‘cos my Angel Boy was home,
even if only for a few days.

alisome

Beachy December Festival of Light and Color: Photos

Even though it’s the beginning of December and was the fifth night of Hannukah, here in Southern California we enjoyed a brief summery Sunday before a massive winter storm barrels down the coast from Alaska.

A late afternoon beach walk in Carlsbad with my tugboat man…magnificent sunset, boats, seagulls flying home. Not such big waves though, or he’d be surfing and not walking!

Maybe that’s why I get so excited for the WordPress snow to appear.

It’s the only snow I see unless we go skiing!

These photos have not been retouched. This is exactly what it looked like. AMAZING, right?

Decsunset6

Decsunset1 Decsunset2 Decsunset3 Decsunset4 Decsunset5 Decsunset7Decbirds

The Boy Who Is My Heart. So Much Depends On A Yellow Steamroller

Update: This poem was recently published in Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream Volume 34 #4 

The Yellow Steamroller

So much depends
upon

a yellow
steamroller

buried
in the dirt
 
behind the shed
On a bitterly cold afternoon, my tugboat man and I embarked on our annual yard cleanup project. I raked all the pine needles shaken loose during the fury of Alaska-borne winds that roared down the coast to Southern California while he trimmed the eucalyptus and mulberry trees.
Metal rake clanged against metal.
I saw bright yellow igniting the dirt and pine needles suffused it with a gleaming radiance through the brown. steamroller1
I threw down the rake, crouched on all fours, and with bare fingers dug through the wet fecund soil to uncover an abandoned yellow Matchbox toy from the spot where there once was a sandbox that my son’s dad  built for him when we first moved to this house in 1985.
I discover in situ a three-inch wide artifact imbued with all the wonder of my perfect child. 
I gently brushed away twenty-five years of encrusted soil and sand.steamroller2
sandboxI was engulfed in a wave of memory. I was there. I saw him–my four-year-old son in this beautiful huge sandbox filled with fresh, clean sand.  I saw him as I often watched him from the bay window in the kitchen overlooking the backyard where I would wash dishes and keep an eye on him, keeping him safe–always keeping him safe–as he played in the sand with his dump trucks and cherry pickers and this steam roller and his buckets and plastic cups and forks and sticks with his cats and dog always near, and the loveliness of the memory set me on my heels and I cried.
Happy tears for the exquisite soft rosy glow of healthy well-fed cheeks, the deep Imperial jade green eyes, the curls that were my curls, my boy, my angel love.
The boy whose every breath contains a whisper of the intangible all encompassing LOVE I possess for this being who was a part of me before he was a part of the earth and sun and sky and sand.
The boy who is my heart.
I shut my eyes tight to keep the pictures from disappearing, but the ephemeral/evanescent impressions floated away with the tears that spilled out for the remembering of the beauty of a luminous child playing in a sandbox, singing to himself and constructing sand sculptures of the future, or, in his case, building words and spinning thoughts and erratica.
Those grains of sand that between his fingers mashed and smashed into forts and tunnels were the detritus of the granite from whence his brain reformed them grain by grain into skyscrapers of words and sentences that flow like a path from the back door to the sandbox.looking down from the hill
A sort of homage to…
The Red Wheelbarrow
William Carlos Williams
so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens.

Best Things to Do on Carlsbad Lagoon

Stand-Up paddleboarding and kayaking — on a perfectly perfect Southern California day.

When my son was here over the weekend for a brief visit, we took our new inflatable Sea Eagle kayak out on the Agua Hedionda lagoon along with hubs SUP (stand-up paddleboard) for my son to play with.

Ever the professional mariner, my tugboat man likes to do what he calls a “shakedown cruise” to make sure everything’s working right and our vessel is seaworthy.

Our lagoon was packed full of kayaks, SUPs, rowboats, and dogs running around the sandy beach — a thoroughly awesome Southern California day.

We’re taking the kayak on our vacation to Zion National Park in Utah and Yellowstone.

I’ve always wanted to hear the song of the wolf, and I hope my dream comes true on this trip.

US-National-Parks-Yellowstone-Wolf-Quest-2-wolves

I’ve got a VERY nice hub who likes to make my wishes turn into reality. SORT OF. He’s taking me on this vacation to placate me so that he doesn’t feel too guilty for running off on a surf trip to Nicaragua. He won’t come out and ADMIT it, but he doesn’t exactly deny it, either. Whatev, I’ll take the kind offer to camp out under the stars and hopefully not get mauled by bears or bison.

Sea Eagle kayak

Selfie! None of my hub especially since he was behind me and really doing all the work as usual! Well, MOST of the work; I did as much as I could with my injured arm.

2013-08-04 02.25.31

SUPUh oh, Professor, watch where you’re going! Navigational hazard ahead!

Carlsbad Lagoon Jboy

Whew! He made it, we went under it, too, but no pics.

Lagoon Carlsbad 1

Just a pretty little area, full of crabs and native plants.
Right then a huge fish glided by but you can’t see it, too bad.

LagoonEven though it’s so much more built up since we moved here in 1985, Carlsbad is still an idyllic place to raise a family. There are so many healthy activities on the water. We used to always walk to the lagoon and our dogs would play while we had a picnic.

Agua Hedionda Lagoon — also known as “stinking waters” ‘cos the mud STINKS for real — is a saltwater wetland and watershed and offers year-round recreational and commercial use.  The lagoon includes mud flats, salt and freshwater marsh, and deep water and is actually comprised of three lagoons:  a 66-acre outer lagoon, a 27-acre middle lagoon and 293-acre inner lagoon. The earliest inhabitants were the native Indians who lived on the shores and upland areas.

Going to the beach year-round;  riding bikes or walking everywhere–it’s a great place EXCEPT for shopping. Shopping in Carlsbad SUCKS. That’s one of my biggest complaints–the mall is the worst EVER.  Except for the Carlsbad Outlet Center with Barneys; nada, nothing. Oh well, I can always drive to South Coast Plaza, so I’m not too upset! :)

The Sad Saga of Spirit Squirrel™

THIS IS PART THREE
Read Part One: “Spirit Squirrel™ is Back”
Read Part Two: “More Adventures of Spirit Squirrel™”
_
________________________________________________________________________

“Hello, there’s a sick squirrel slowly walking around my yard. His tail is dragging. He doesn’t look right.  He’s all squinty. He’s not bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Now he’s reclining under a rose bush. Can you please come and rescue him? “

squirrelRIPSitting on a comfy boat cushion with a garden spade in my hand, I was in a state of Zen transplanting clary sage seedlings in the rear part of our yard. A lovely day; quiet except for the crows, I see out of the corner of my eye  – less than a foot away from my hand — something that doesn’t look like a plant, but it’s not moving. At the exact moment my brain registers that it’s a squirrel, I can tell there’s something really, really wrong with it. Here in SoCal, we’re used to ground squirrels digging holes in our yard, eating bird seed, and being annoying. They always run away when a human’s around. But not this poor little guy.

What are you supposed to do when you find a sick adult squirrel?

Now we’ll proceed to commence the frustrating and annoying round of telephone calls to useless govenrmental agencies who pass you on and on like a game of “Hot Potato”.

“No” says the City of Carlsbad Environmental Services,
“We don’t do that”. “You should call Animal Control.”

Nope, San Diego County Animal Control can’t do anything either, but they say that because it could possibly have or carry the bubonic plague, I should call the County of San Diego Vector Control. Vector Control specialist Chris informs me with a chuckle that only the squirrels on Palomar Mountain test posiitve for the plague and it’s impossible this one has the plague, maybe he “ate some bad food”  but they won’t help this little critter.

“Let Mother Nature take its course”, he says.

When I tell him that, as a compassionate animal advocate, I’m having a hard time grasping that concept, and while I’m at it, I’m wondering what exactly it is that Vector Control does,…he suggests I try to call Project Wildlife — but, he cautions, I shouldn’t get my hopes up because squirrels don’t rate very highly on their list of animals they like to rescue. However, if I could trap it in a box and bring it to them, they would have to accept it.

If you can’t picture me somehow trapping a potentially extremely sick animal and putting it in my car and driving it to Project Wildlife, that’s because it would never happen in a zillion years. A bird, yes; a dog, cat, coyote, bobcat even, but not a squirrel or a rat or a racoon that’s listlessly walking around in circles with squinty eyes.

Isn’t that what these city/county agencies are for? Isn’t that why we pay taxes?

I called Chris back, unwilling to believe that he can’t see the potential public harm from a squirrel that is obviously not acting like a normal squirrel, and he suggests that I “get a family member or a neighbor to put it out of its misery or just wait until it dies and put it in the trash.”

I hung up before I said anything that could be classified as a threat…..

I ran inside and locked the door and emailed my tugboat man. If ever there was a time when I hated him for being away, this was it. If he had a normal job, he could have left work, driven home, and helped me out. But no….he’s a zillion miles away. Here’s the email:email

Amazingly, he called while I was keeping an eye on the sicky squirrel with a pair of binoculars. He suggested that I get the hose out and gently sprinkle it in the general direction of the squirrel to guide it away. While I was on the cell with him, I turned on the water, and with hubs encouragement, sprayed near the squirrel. Oh NO, that was the wrong thing to do!

THAT MOTHERF***ER CAME AFTER ME!  

Instead of running up the hill and hopefully back to his den, he began to walk straight AT ME. I’m screaming in hubs ear and running around in circles and swearing at him and telling him to get on the first goddamn flight to do his job as a husband and protect me from being attacked by a wild animal — and he says,

“No, I cannot do that, Rosebud. I cannot tell the company that my wife is being traumatized by a ground squirrel and I need to have the United States Coast Guard fly me home.” “Good luck with that, ‘cos that’s not gonna happen. That’s not what we consider an emergency.”
NOTE: He really said CANNOT and not the informal can’t.

Well, thanks a whole lot, Master Captain Butthead. I won’t forget how you abandoned me in my time of need.

If you want to know what it’s like to be the wife of a tugboat captain, this is a fairly accurate scenario.

After we hung up, I called a few exterminators and no one seemed interested in humanely trapping the little guy.

Finally, I went next door and told my neighbor about this situation because they always have grandkids around and asked him if he wanted to come over and take a look at it.
He came over and kind of shooed it with a broom under the fence into his yard and went back home.

A few minutes later he returned and said it was gone — as in GONE  – as in GONE FOREVER and I owed him a pan of brownies or chocolate chip cookies or something…

I didn’t want details; I’m just glad the little guy isn’t suffering anymore.

And that’s the end of Spirit Squirrel™…. RIP little buddy.
Spirit Squirrel Tombstone

UPDATE: On the news this morning…a segment about squirrels and the plague, referring everyone to the San Diego County Department of Health’s News Release.

SQUIRREL ON PALOMAR MOUNTAIN TESTS POSITIVE FOR PLAGUE
Campers and Hikers Warned to Take Precautions

P.S. Getting started on those brownies now.

How to Recover a Torn Outdoor Swing Cushion

If you already read Recycled, Repurposed, Reborn, and Reformed, you won’t be too surprised to learn that I also hate to RE-place torn, ripped, or worn out things.

Last week, I spent a hot day (in the upper eighties) working on a project and I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.

In the past few years,  I’ve purchased a couple of replacement cushions for the deck swing.

Every time I do it, hubs asks me why I’m not sewing or repairing it — as we all know that I’m mostly super cheap  thrifty and frugal — I say mostly ‘cos I’m obsessed with pricey designer handbags and shoes (and shopping in general).

Hey, who said that a woman has to always be consistently one way or another? Sometimes it’s less painful for me to whip out that credit card and buy a Chanel than it is to  fork over $2.99 for a roll of twine. (Read all about that HERE.)

Southern California sun is wickedly harsh on fabric — even though I put the cushions and chairs in the shed when not in use, it weakens, tears, and eventually disintegrates completely like this:

torn cushion

I went to JoAnn Fabrics near 24Hour Fitness in Oceanside and was so happy to discover outdoor canvas material on sale —  half off  the regular price of $19.99 a yard. Yay! I needed approximately 54X70. The sales associates were very helpful and suggested I try fusible bonding web for heavy fabrics and my trusty glue gun for reinforcement areas. Anytime I can fire up that glue gun is a great day! (Also a day for an injury, more on that later.)

cushionrepair

                                            Beautiful bright colors!

The fusible bonding needs heat;  I brought the ironing board and my Rowenta on the deck. Yes, it’s leopard covered. Of course it is.

ironoutsideI ironed a sharp crease on all four sides; went upstairs to my craft room and sewed a lovely seam.

sewing machine

Look at that old sewing machine from the 1970s.
It weighs a ton, but works like a dream.

I placed the cushion flat on the deck, spread the material over the cushion, and then turned it over.

torncushionondeck

Measuring and ironing the fusible bonding all the way around.

stitchless sewing

cushion

The webbed fusible bonding for heavy fabric worked better than I thought. This isn’t the most professional looking job, but the material is bright and fresh and way less expensive than another replacement cushion.

closeupcushion

finalcushion

I used the glue gun to reinforce the corners and this blister was my reward. 

blister

My research indicated that the temperature of the glue is about 385 degrees, but I swear it felt like I had dipped my finger in the bowels of Hell.

I might go back to JoAnns and get more material to redo the awning to match. Although it’s still in good shape, now it bugs me that it doesn’t match the cushion!

Four Reasons I shouldn’t have left the house today

funny-grumpy-cat-meme-monday-goodTugboat Man Update…
Day 19: That’s how long my tugboat man’s been gone. He’s been out of cell phone range for more than a week which means I haven’t heard his voice, but the satellite email works, so I’ve been sending him all the news about Boston and the earthquake in China and the avalanche in Colorado, along with a daily surf check to let him know what he’s missing — including me, of course.

It was a weird day to be out and about. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Reason #1plumbers crack 1

My neighbor is driving me cray cray with his second childhood. OK, it’s getting warm enough here in SoCal for shorts and flipflops and stuff, but I wasn’t mentally prepared for the shorts-only look that greeted me when I stepped out my front door. Picture a sixty-something slightly overweight man wearing ONLY a pair of delightfullly low slung shorts bending over his hot rod.  I’m not talking plumber’s crack here, I’m talking the whole damn Grand Canyon. His wife must have been absent ‘cos all weekend long he had his male friends over and they were playing with their stupid cars, revving them up, moving them around, screeching up and down the street like teenagers. If this is the buttcrack of male menopause, my tugboat man better watch it. I won’t put up with any of that shizz, I can promise you that.

Reason #2

I had a few errands to run which is really just a roundabout way of saying I wanted to go shopping at my fave secret consignment shop where I’ve previously come away with the treasure of a vintage Valentino. I’m kinda sorta looking for a new outfit to wear out to lunch on Wednesday with a few ladies from Generation Fabulous so I tried on a bunch of clothes –nothing, nada, yuck. I guess it wasn’t in the stars today. I just HATE when I come home with nothing. My life has no meaning. Only kidding.

Reason #3

text some cardIs is ‘cos it’s Monday? Is it ‘cos the sun is out? Who knows what the reason is, but drivers were absolutely horrible today. Texting, on the phone, making turns with barely one free hand, speeding, cutting me off, tailgating, straddling two lanes, running stop signs, almost running over a pedestrian  – geez, it’s the Wild Wild West out here, y’all. You’re taking your life in your hands if you’re on a bicycle, too. I drove along Carlsbad Blvd. observing several close calls with cars and bicyclists in the BIKE LANE. Who needs helmets? You need full-on body armor around here if you ride a bicycle. Check out the articles below — it’s dangerous.

And then I came across the crazy car, which is Reason #4 that I should have stayed home.

crazy car carlsbadThis car is always parked in a different location in and around Carlsbad but I never see anyone with it or in it. The messages are never the same but this is the first time I’ve noticed a website: thatgreencar.com  Tell me what you think. It’s a WordPress  blog!  I’m still shaking my head. This is one of the comments: “`Who are you? What are you on? What dream world, 5th dement-tion are you from??? You are reeedicalous!”

How was your Monday? Was it manic?