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.

#LevarBurton for #Jeopardy Host

UPDATE: This post was liked by the REAL Levar Burton!!! I really hope he becomes the only rightful host of Jeopardy. Then maybe I could convince Angel Boy to become a contestant…

Thirty years ago my Angel Boy entered and won a poetry contest hosted by Reading Rainbow.

My son never watched much TV but he loved to read and he loved Reading Rainbow.

I know I still have the poem he wrote but I couldn’t locate it and didn’t want to tear apart the boxes in his bedroom–yes, I confess…I proudly saved EVERY SINGLE essay, poem, picture, craft, test, report card — from the first day he started kindergarten up until NOW.

What I could easily find, because it’s framed and I can see it every day, is the official photo taken at KPBS studios of the local children who entered the contest.

Somewhere in that group is my fashion-forward Angel Boy.

Since the death of Alex Trebek, no one is no one more qualified or more right for the job of Jeopardy host than Levar Burton.

Please click on the link below to sign the petition to make Levar Burton the next host of Jeopardy: I did!

https://www.change.org/p/sony-pictures-entertainment-levar-burton-should-be-the-next-host-of-jeopardy

A Light Bulb Moment

Literally.

Photo by Luca Nardone on Pexels.com

I don’t know how long it’s been since I needed to buy light bulbs; maybe five or six years, something like that.

I can’t remember exactly, but I had so many of them go out at the same time that I was compelled to navigate the light bulb aisle at a local home and hardware store.

I must have looked sufficiently confused because an employee walked over to me and said, “I’d ask you if you need help, but I can tell you do!”

I DID need help!

Apparently, I’ve been on another planet because the entire light bulb industry has changed while I’ve been gone.

Weird shaped bulbs, lumens, CFL, LED, halogen, incandescent, wattage, energy saving, HID, voice-enabled, smartphone technology–pretty soon even the light bulbs will be listening to our conversations like Alexa and Siri. It’s a whole new world.

I paid no attention to the lesson he gave me (sorry, nice man) but I told him what I wanted or what I used to have in the good old days, and let him choose the appropriate replacements.

They’re also way more expensive than they used to be, also a shock, but when I got home and restored illumination to previously darkened rooms, I was grateful for his kind assistance.

Have you ever gone on a pub crawl?

Confession: I never have, but I did something SIMILAR…a garden nursery crawl!

SO MUCH FUN.

The get-together was originally planned for last week but I came down with a mysterious and debilitating migraine and we postponed the outing for a week.

I was picked up in a snazzy (does anyone even use that word nowadays?) metallic blue Tesla, and we were off.

Our itinerary included places I had never previously visited–hidden gems in SoCal– and I wasn’t disappointed. An added plus is that it felt as if things were almost back to pre-Covid times.

We weren’t offered a menu of wine and cocktails at every stop on our crawl; instead I found Marzano tomatoes (best for homemade sauces) and orange mint and perpetually producing spinach; more strawberries, Yerba Buena, wasabi mustard greens, and an exotic hot pepper, plants not usually found at corporate garden shops.

We saw adorable and friendly goats and followed secret garden pathways that revealed exotic and delicious edible veggies, fruits, and herbs.

If I wasn’t under constant assault from aggressive squirrels and bunnies, I would have brought every single one of them home with me, but first I have to figure out new ways to outsmart those little critters.

When we returned home, we sat in the shade and enjoyed fresh herbal water festooned with nasturtium flowers and chatted about the next day when we’d plunge our hands in the soil to put these babies in the ground and watch them flourish.

A pub crawl would be fun too, but we woke up with clear heads and zero hangovers, so it’s probably a much healthier activity than to to go from one bar to the next and get progressively more drunk.

PS I’ll post a recipe for the herbal water tomorrow. It was amazing!

The Big Four-OH-MY-GOODNESS

March is the birthday month the two Angels share but there’s no way I have a child/boy/man who turned forty today at 9:42 a.m. NO WAY.

In my mind, I still see him as being four or eight or even as an obnoxious and sarcastic teenager, but FORTY?? A dad with two kids? AND a fully tenured professor?

It’s not possible. I’m still shaking my head.

I needed to do the math to make absolutely sure I was correct and there’s no doubt about it. I gave birth to the original Angel Boy forty years ago today after a seemingly neverending 24 hour labor that resulted in an emergency Caesarean section.

Stubborn girl that I am, I tried and tried to push him out but his gigantic head got stuck (TMI) and I only capitulated to the C-section when I saw his heart rate was being compromised. I really wanted that whole Mother Earth experience but of course would never harm my baby boy to satiate my ego. I can always look at that perpetually lopsided scar where the surgeon had to open me up FAST between contractions.

He’ll always be the love of my life, my shiniest and most lovely baby boy.

Even today, I can feel the weight of him hugged tightly in my arms, despite the fact that he’s now over six feet and no longer sits on my lap (‘cos that would be just plain WEIRD.) This is one of my favorite photos if we can ignore my horrible haircut where she obviously didn’t know how much curly hair SHRINKS when it’s not styled properly.

I am forever grateful for this sparkly emerald green-eyed boy.

He called me a bit ago. What’s he doing on his birthday? He took the day off so he could go to the Dirt Exchange, fill the car up with soil and mulch, and spend the day gardening. He has a green thumb to match those eyes.

Read more about AB and his almost catastrophic illness in 2014 here:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2020/07/24/that-dreaded-call-at-300-a-m-2/

And more about the birth here:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2014/03/22/i-fell-down-and-a-baby-popped-out-2/

And more about my love for this special boy who will always be my heart here:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2020/05/10/the-boy-who-is-my-heart/

[glitter in the air]

Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air? I tried several times, and attempted to capture it with my camera, but all that happened was that I wasted a ton of glitter!

You should have been here; it was a bit too windy (also a total failure) but funny.

Oh well. No worries, nothing to stress about. This pic is better.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I’m feeling incredibly Pink right about now. Love her and LOVE glitter!

Friend/ship

This is funny.

A certain website I needed to access for an important document had been giving me a consistent error message to close out my browser every single time I input my password. No matter what I did, I encountered the same message.

I couldn’t figure out what the problem could possibly be, so I called the company tech support number. I wasn’t angry or frustrated; it seemed like this could be easily solved if I took a deep breath and asked for help.

An hour later, I have a new friend.

She instructed me to close out my ENTIRE browser, not simply the tab that was open to her website.

I said, “Oh my goodness, not that! All those tabs? That’s going to ruin my life!”

She started laughing and told me I made her day, and then I started laughing, and that in turn opened up a conversation about life, the weather (she’s on the east coast), and our kids and grandkids. We shared that each of our moms had lived with us and we both took care of them while they were sick up until they died, and what a blessing it was to have been able to give back some love and kindness.

She asked me why I was laughing about the tech issue instead of getting angry and yelling at her (which is the emotional state she usually encounters) and I explained to her that in the grand scheme of life, this seemed to be a minor blip on the screen of my universe.

She told me she had been depressed and I cheered her up and that in turn made me happy.

Oh, and she solved my access problem so I was able to get into the account and acquire the info I needed.

If I hadn’t had a problem, if I hadn’t made the call, I wouldn’t have connected with a beautiful soul three thousand miles away, and I wouldn’t have been able to shine a light and a laugh into her darkness. In my opinion, this was a win-win scenario.

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on Pexels.com

An outstretched hand.

Friend/ship.

Skyward: Tail(s) of a Mare

Mares’ tails are my FAVORITE cloud formation.

(This led me down a grammar path: one tail as opposed to plural tails; hopefully I’m using proper syntax and punctuation.)

They’re a type of cirrus cloud known as cirrus uncinus. The name is derived from Latin and means “curly hooks”.

An old weather proverb goes, “Mares’ tails and mackerel scales make lofty ships to carry low sails.”

Cirrus uncinus clouds and patchy altocumulus clouds often mean that rain is on its way.

A mackerel sky is a common term for clouds made up of rows of cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds displaying an undulating, rippling pattern similar in appearance to fish scales. This is caused by high altitude atmospheric waves and can also signal changeable weather.

National Weather Service forecasted our region to receive about two inches of heavy rain along the coast, so everyone should prepare for the inevitable flooding and mudslides in the fireburned areas.

I wonder if the full Wolf Moon will affect the storm’s intensity or the total amounts of rainfall. I bet it will.

As above, so below.

Well, this was an adventure…

I think by now I can safely assume that y’all figured out that I’m a tiny person with very curly hair who lives in a Southern California beach town.

You know that I love seashells and rocks and being outdoors. I have an amazing son and brilliant DIL who combined their DNA to create two of the most adorable humans to ever exist.

Moreover, I’m a passionate animal protector and defender.

My dad was an attorney and my mom was a SAHM — an RN who went back to nursing when I was in junior high. With certainty, I admit to living a less than edgy life. More like ballet or the symphony and learning to bake my mom’s best ever apple pie than drunken brawls and broken windows on Saturday nights. My memories are of a slightly quieter and more genteel childhood. You get the picture, right?

Maybe that’s the reason why, every so often, I crave a bit of excitement or an adventure or maybe the truth is that I’m too naive (or stupid) to know what it really means when I put myself in potentially dangerous situations.

So this happened.

Would you be at all surprised if I told you that I watched a burglary in progress and then I offered to chase after the guy with the store manager (yes I really did and FYI he declined my offer.)

Definition: Burglary (entering a building with the intent to commit a crime inside) and larceny (theft) are two different crimes, although burglaries are often committed for the purpose of theft. Shoplifting is typically defined as the unauthorized removal of merchandise from a store without paying for it. In certain cases, the intent to steal, along with an act in furtherance of that intent, can also result in criminal charges for shoplifting (or retail fraud). 

Here’s the whole story:

Monday is my pandemic grocery shopping day; I try to do it all early while there are fewer people out and about to reduce the amount of viral aerosol drops. Traders and Sprouts are my go-to stores for my vegan food; stuff like tofu and hummus and veggies and lentils and beans, along with pea protein powder, coffee and tea. Not very exciting food, I guess, but I stock up for a couple of weeks, because you never know when stores will close again, either for the pandemic or because we’re in an insane civil war.

After that, I went to ATT because I was having a potential issue with the charging port on my phone which decided NOT to exhibit the malfunction while I was there so it was a wasted trip.

After that waste of time, I drove to one of my favorite retail stores because I need a new black zippered hoodie. I love to bleach pretty much everything, but made the mistake of wearing my black hoodie to bleach the kitchen tile and I ruined it.

Since the recent alarming surge in Coronavirus cases, retail stores again limit the number of people that can shop at the same time, so there was a very short socially distanced line. We were all masked. The masked employee was counting people in and out. From my vantage point, I could see a man walking very fast on the sidewalk toward us. For some reason, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. He was dressed all in black with a black hoodie pulled down low over his forehead, black sunglasses, and a black backpack. He had a black mask that wasn’t on correctly. He flew past the employee at the front door. Uh oh, I thought. What a jerk.

“Sir, there’s a line. Sir, Sir, Sir, there’s a line.” He completely ignored her. We looked at each other and said, “What the hell was THAT?”

Hmmm. That’s when I got the gut feeling that I normally ignore and this time was no different. I had a totally random thought that he gave off REALLY dangerous vibes and I bet he had a gun in his backpack. I thought to myself that SOMETHING might happen and it would probably be a really good and prudent idea to simply avoid it all by walking back to my car. I mean, I could fulfill my desire for a new hoodie on another day; it’s not important. Not at all.

But I didn’t do that.

It was my turn to go in the store and I thought I’d be like Nancy Drew, Junior Detective, and keep my eyes and ears open and be aware of my surroundings. I searched for the guy and saw him walking up and down the aisles really fast, pullings items off the racks and piling them in his arms. He never looked up. When he walked toward the handbags, I went up to an employee who was stocking the area and said,

“Do you see that guy over there? (I pointed.) He’s going to run out of here with a lot of things.”

She said, “Yes, I’m watching him, he’s taking the expensive purses with the security tags.”

At that exact moment, he flew by us and bolted out the door, just like I predicted. The stolen handbags with the security tags set off the store alarms. The employee who was outside tried to stop him, but he kept running.

The manager came to where I was standing with the employee and I said to him, “Let’s go after him, I’m a witness. COME ON! We can catch him.”

“Thank you, but I can’t do that. He could have a weapon.”

The manager told me the video cameras at the front captured a picture of him as soon as the alarm was tripped.

I then told him I would wait there while he called the police.

Now here’s the crazy thing. He said he wasn’t going to call the police because that wasn’t “corporate policy”.

Have you ever experienced anything like that?

I was shocked by what he said, and when I went out to my car, I called the nonemergency police number who told me they couldn’t do anything unless the store called and it’s apparently their choice whether to do that or not. She agreed with me that it was not a great decision but law enforcement’s hands are tied. Unless the store calls, they can’t do their job.

I told dispatch I wanted to run after him but the store manager didn’t and she started laughing at the thought but warned me to NEVER do that. Even thought my intentions were noble, there’s always the chance that I’d be harmed. I’m no hero, but sheesh! Right is right, right?

I still can’t believe this thief got away with armfuls of stolen items with zero consequences.

WTF.

It was a sort of adventure, slightly thrilling with a touch of danger, but nothing really happened except that I watched a guy run into a store, brazenly steal a bunch of stuff, and get away. It was like a movie and I was an extra or a bit player. Like most of my acting career, my scene will probably be cut from the final edit.

What would you do?

Witch Ball, Y’all

Following the horrific acts of violence –sedition, insurrection, treason–in the Capitol with the knowledge that it was incited by that orange POS, discovering that many people from my little town are among his supporters, I decided it might be time to secure my house with something more than an alarm system, just in case civil war breaks out.

I had never heard of witch balls until I was looking for clear, empty Christmas decorations to send to the Angel Boy 2.0 as a craft. Have you ever heard of them?

My thought was that he could go on a nature walk with mom and dad and pick up special things like we do when I’m there; rocks, seashells, leaves, feathers–but I didn’t know that it also had a historical spiritual connection.

Image may contain: text that says 'Witch Ball A Witch Ball is a hollow glass sphere filled with herbs, crystals, sticks and stones (etc) According to Appalachian Mountain folklore, a witch ball was tool used protect the home. "hanging a witch ball near window, or in a corner of a room provides protection from negative spirits and thoughts, but they can also produce luck, much like the purpose of an upturned hanging horseshoe.", ilmypsychicjane'

I sent four clear plastic spheres thinking it might engender a family crafting experience, but I discovered that AB 2.0 appropriated them all for himself–he’s a hoarder like me–and I guess they’ll remain stashed away in his bedside drawer until I can finally get there and do it with him.

I also got a couple for myself and had a great time filling them and now one is hanging near the front door and one is near the back door so I feel completely protected and all demons have been vanquished.

Mine contain cinnamon sticks, red toyon berries, lavender, rosemary, bay leaves, sparkles, sea salt, sand, seashells, rocks, feathers, rosehips, white sage, faux pearls and diamonds, and crystals.

It was fascinating to see how many things I could fit inside the sphere. I felt like I should be mumbling an incantation under my breath as I was meandering around my garden, but I only laughed out loud and thought happy thoughts.

Just another very witchy day at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.