Will You Bee My Friend?

I used to be terrified of bees mainly because I’m allergic — which is certainly a plausible rationale for fear, but I have so many bees here at Casa de Enchanted Seashells–they love rosemary and lavender and other herbs, that I’ve decided to quell my anxiety and bee friendly.

Bees are incredibly valuable to sustaining life on Earth; they deserve our love and protection, along with a healthy respect for their ability to cause pain. Angel Boy 2.0 and I spend quite a bit of time researching bees.

This little guy took a rest on the deck from his hard work saving Planet Earth and was perfectly amenable to pose for a series of photos and then he buzzed away. More flowers, more pollen, more honey!

Who Am I?

Although I could probably ruminate for a few hours to ponder that existential question; light a candle and meditate with a mantra, I’m not. Instead, I’m wondering is what and who is THIS?

Does anyone know? I’m not sure it’s albino but I have never seen an alligator lizard this color. I can’t find any information at all. He comes out every day from a spot near the veggie garden and hangs out for a bit.

Most of my other alligator lizards look more like this:

Totally different, right? Even the scales look different. Maybe I discovered a new species or maybe it’s an odd, aberrant mutation. I sent this photo to the local herpetological society to see if they can identify my new friend.

If you have an idea, let me know!

UPDATE: Mystery solved! San Diego Herp Society got back to me right away with this great website and information that pretty much explains the odd coloration. Apparently it’s a variation of a Great Basin Fence Lizard. If you scroll down the page, they talk about Rusty-Orange Variations.

http://www.californiaherps.com/lizards/pages/s.o.longipes.html?fbclid=IwAR35ItZm3k6mLudiGD0b8ZOZ9b_16js0U-fGIvNFu2vinK4cggMxBchtfQ8

Say Hello to My New Garden Visitor

Welcome, friend!

I hope to see your babies one day, too!

Are you thinking about Pepé Le Pew? I’m thinking this is another beneficial creature that enjoys a stroll around the garden along with the coyotes and bunnies and possums and raccoons. I don’t include rats or ground squirrels in that group ‘cos I really really don’t like them!

Moose in Grand Tetons

What a beautiful boy! He was almost completely camouflaged, resting in the cool grass, enjoying a late afternoon snack. Those antlers are magnificent, aren’t they?

I could have stayed there for hours, watching him in silence, but I had to go. He didn’t seem too concerned and kept eating and eating.

My Neighborhood

Yesterday started out sunny and peaceful and then we had a bit of excitement.

I was digging and digging in the front yard, trying to arrange sixteen pavers in the most perfect aesthetically pleasing design to create a stepping stone effect. I tried three times because nothing gave off the right vibe that I was searching for.

First I placed them in a straight row but that looked too cold and harsh and militant, especially as it was bordering a rocky dry river bed that had natural organic lines. The second time I mimicked that meandering shape. Nope, that looked too busy and didn’t seem right. The THIRD time I created a gently curving line like a rainbow that seems to work OK but I’m going to leave it for a day or two and see how that feels. That’s the beauty of it…I can simply dig them up and move them wherever I choose. I call it the Goldilocks effect or it’s just my OCD, either one.

Side note: Each paver weighs about twenty pounds. 16 x 20 lbs =320 lbs. No wonder my arms are sore!

While I was digging and pondering, I heard a commotion down the street. My next door neighbors heard it too so we both investigated.

We observed a stray dog walking up our street and another dog was barking at it. That’s a big deal around here because we don’t have many unaccompanied dogs in our ‘hood. Cars were stopping; everyone was asking each other if anyone knew who he belonged to.

He was a nice looking boy, well cared for, a mid-sized brown German Shepherd. He walked up to our houses, walked around, even in the garage, sniffing everything.

I gave him a bowl of water but he wasn’t really interested and continued to walk slowly and deliberately up the street. He had a collar but no tags and no one could remember seeing him before. Just as we were deciding who should collect him in their backyard, he walked away. Another neighbor came by, said she would get a leash and bring him to her home until the owner could (hopefully) be located, so we all returned to our outdoor projects.

Minutes later, a truck and SUV drove up. It was the owners and their children! They had accidentally left the garage door open and their sweet old boy had walked out.

The dad said his boy was a retired police dog, very nice, but still had the police dog training, so they REALLY needed to bring him home. I called my friend who planned to host him at her house but she said she hadn’t been able to find the fugitive but they were still searching. He seemed to have disappeared in a matter of minutes.

My neighbor and I got in my car and set off to help the search. Others in my ‘hood did the same. We all drove up and down and around and couldn’t find him. What a mystery!

Thirty minutes later, we circled back and stopped at the owners house for an update.

He told us that another neighbor had been outside bringing groceries in, their car door was open, and their dog jumped in and sat down in the car. She was still outside wondering what to do when she spied the family calling for their doggy, and he was returned to a happy and grateful family. Yay!

We went home and I continued with my day; staring at a pathway that didn’t really go anywhere.

While there’s a lot to bemoan about this hectic world we inhabit, it’s positive and uplifting when an entire neighborhood comes together to help a family find their beloved dog.

What a wonderful world!

Update: I dug up the pavers yet again to move them four inches back which seems to render the right kind of feng shui. Now I think I’m happy. We’ll see. I’ll post a pic when the project is complete.

Through the Window

This little one returns every spring to nest in the same old birdhouse.

For some strange reason, I woke up with a raging migraine that haunted me all day. I have no idea what triggered it. Thankfully, I rarely get them but this one was especially dreadful because I was nauseous for hours and hours. I slept most of the day which is so unlike me but my body insisted.

At one point when I forced myself to drink water so I wouldn’t get dehydrated, I looked out onto the deck and was greeted with a melodic, warbling song and couldn’t resist grabbing my camera for a couple of photos and then I went back to sleep.

On a side note, I semi-watched Perry Mason and Wagon Train and Mash and Happy Days, not my usual choices, only because I didn’t have the energy to look for the remote to change the station or turn off the TV. I was able to discern a lot of nuance from Happy Days that I had originally missed, in case anyone studies old TV shows.

I feel better today.

Tail up.

Tail down.

P.S. Migraines are debilitating; I lost a whole day; my heart goes out to anyone who suffers on a regular basis.

Unlikely Friends: Egret and Ducks

On my walk today, I looked through the fence into the culvert that drains into Agua Hedionda Lagoon and saw a pair of white egrets. One flew away, but I was able to snap a pic of this beauty. Look closer and you’ll see he’s sharing a bit of land with two ducks.

And then this other handsome sun-glistened mallard decided to swim over and join the fun.
Co-existence peacefully without social distancing!

The late afternoon light intensifies the male’s colorful plumage that helps them attract females.

Maybe they’ve forged a friendship while they forage together for food. It could be possible even though I learned that egrets (and herons) can and do eat ducklings, but I watched their interactions for quite a while and didn’t observe any aggressive or frightened behavior. It was all peaceful and serene, just like my wishes for happily ever afters.

Birds of SoCal

Here in SoCal it’s pretty warm during the day, bugs are out and about and these noisy little birds snapped them out of the air right in front of me. It was daylong entertainment, at least half a dozen birds catching flies and (I think) termites in mid-flight.

Black Phoebe

Scratching on the ground, a few California Towhees make my garden their home. They love their reflection and tap at the window or anywhere they can see themselves.

This was a peaceful first weekend of 2021.

(Some) Creatures Great and Small

With a nod to All Creatures Great and Small by veterinarian James Herriot, this is what my Sunday looked like.

We started off the day at the beach and I’m beyond sad that I didn’t have my good camera with me so I couldn’t capture the magic of a school of dolphin jumping and splashing in the water. I’m sure this paddleboarder was happy because they seemed to follow him wherever he went. Trust me, there are about six dolphin in this photo.

On the way home, we saw a bit of an odd sight…check out these seagulls that shouldn’t have been this far away from the beach. They usually only fly inland when there’s a storm, so I have no idea why they were flying around in circles and then perched on the telephone lines.

Today was a work project day in the garden, cleaning up around the rosemary and lavender. I sat down for a minute for a wheatgrass break and this little alligator lizard stopped by to say hi. I scratched his back with a stick and he allowed me to take these pics.

All in all, a great Sunday for creatures great and small.

Leaves of Birds

Since the ash tree endured its yearly abscission, I raked fallen leaves for the very last time and have been enjoying this disrobed version until late afternoon when I noticed the branches were once again full; not of leaves, but of dozens of happy, chirpy little birds adorning every space.

So completely adorable.

One by one, they flew away, and the tree was once again barren.