Happy World Wide Naked Gardening Day!

That’s today, May 7, and that’s also a definite hard NO from me, whether it’s “world wide” or “worldwide”!

I’m out in the garden, fully dressed, thank you very much. However, if YOU choose to celebrate sans clothing, please wear sunscreen and please DO NOT send pics!

Random Chat with a Princess: Secret Revealed

Those two little humans I’m honored to spend time with love nothing more than to perch themselves on the bar stools, four elbows on the countertop in order to scrutinize and narrate my every move in the kitchen like a TV chef.

From chopping onions to slicing red peppers for an afternoon snack, to helping roll out pizza dough, I’m the star of the show.

“We have that same kind of hummus, Grandma.”
“Grandma, my almond butter at my house looks like yours!”
“I go to Trader Joes with Daddy. He lets me get snack bars. I like strawberry.”
“Did you get your almond butter from Trader Joes, Grandma?”

“I have a Traders too, Angel Girl, and a lot of the food I get at my store is the same food you get at your store. The next time I go there, come with me and we can compare all the labels and the similar types of food. Won’t that be fun?”

There was a unanimous request for breakfast burritos, so I placed all the ingredients on the counter and started preparing them like a short order cook.

When I opened the plastic bag of tortillas, I saw that SOME of them had a TINY–literally microscopic– bit of mold on them. (Ooops.)

That did NOT escape the eagle eyed surveillance of a curly haired little girl. She doesn’t miss a THING.

“Grandma, we have tortillas at our house too, but ours don’t have little green spots on them.”

“Why do your tortillas have little green spots on them, Grandma?”

She was seriously conjuring up a memory of the tortillas at her house and comparing them to these with admittedly very TINY moldy spots on them. As a reminder, this child is two and a half years old and speaks in complete sentences like her kindergarten brother.

I couldn’t stop laughing to myself because I have a slight problem I’ve tried to hide from everyone. It’s this: once in a great while, I confess that I’ve been known to camouflage or cut out mold on bread or tortillas and this brilliant and observant child just outed me to the world.

I poked through the layers of tortillas and found a couple that did NOT have telltale little green spots on them and finished their second breakfast of the day.

(Don’t worry, I don’t make a practice of serving moldy food!)

Later….

“Grammy, why are there so many seashells in your house?”

“Well, you know how much I love seashells and rocks, don’t you? I save them every time we go to the beach at your house and I bring them home.”

In the upstairs bathroom as I ran the water for a bath, T (the math lover) counted all the seashells, forgot where he stopped, and had to restart the count about four times.

“Grandma, there are thirty two seashells just right here.”

“That’s a nice even number”, I said, as we toss all the toys in the bath.

“But they’re everywhere!”

“Well, my friend, I guess you’ll have a lot of counting to do, right? But now it’s bath time, so in you go and then it’ll be time for Char’s bath.”

“Out of the mouths of babes” is so accurate. You gotta be on the top of your game 24/7 with those two bright humans.

April’s Garden Beauty

From April’s angst to something a little more palatable and because I try to always look on the bright side, these are some photos I took to cleanse my brain while the rat guy was disinfecting the shed. I carefully avoided that area…

Delosperma Cooperi – succulent ground cover against a backdrop of insane ceanothus with some (I think) Cape Daisies and Creeping Aloe.

Pride of Madeira.

A baby pomegranate!

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly caterpillar on my Palo Verde tree.

No rats here! Just peace and serenity.

April’s Angst

I don’t know what the heavens have unleashed, but since April 1 every day seems to bring a new disaster, a series of unfortunate events…

—I tore or somehow injured my medial collateral ligament on my right knee, the one that had previous injury issues! Talk about collateral damage…It’s starting to heal; KTape is my new best friend.

—The day after our big rainstorm, I went out to my pond to empty the filled up basin so I could use the water for the garden. There used to be a waterfall with a motor that kept things moving along, but that’s no longer working cos it’s some sort of big job to fix the electricity.

—I very gingerly knelt down to protect my painful knee. I then leaned IN (not the kind that Sheryl Sandberg wrote about) with a small container to transfer the rain water to a larger bucket. Everything was still slick with the inch of rain we had and as I leaned my left hand on the rocks surrounding the pond (some cemented in, some not) I apparently leaned on a rock that was NOT cemented in which was super slick and my left hand slid right in the water, while my right hand which had been acting as a stabilizer got sliced on the other rocks. There was blood EVERYWHERE.

That’s not even the worst of it. I fell so hard and unexpectedly that the larger cemented in granite boulders directly collided with my upper left quadrant rib area. I have prominent ribs and oblique muscles so there wasn’t a whole lot to cushion the blow, which felt like I got hit by a bus. Now I have either bruised or cracked ribs or cartilage, not sure which as I’m going to wait as long as possible to call the doctor. I think that’s called “blunt force trauma.” I figure as long as I’m not having a problem breathing, I can be pretty sure that my lung wasn’t damaged, not so sure about the spleen, but I’m hopeful the ribs caught the brunt of it.

Did you think that was it?

Nope, there’s more…

—Yesterday I went in the shed to take out all the deck cushions and toys to get ready for a visit from the Angels. (My ribs are sore and I know I shouldn’t be lifting anything heavy.) I haven’t really been all the way in there for a while, maybe only briefly to get a rake or some clippers so I was absolutely SHOCKED to see that everything was covered in layers of fresh and old rat droppings. It is quite literally the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.

Apparently in our tight housing market, the first rats to move in must have communicated this free space to their entire extended family and they set up an elaborate condo development. The rats also ate completely through the plastic bags of fertilizer and snail killer, which was NONtoxic (unfortunately).

I thought about cleaning it up myself, but as I looked around at the filth and contamination, I realized that it was beyond my capability. I don’t even know what I’d do if I saw a rat run out of there; I’d probably be scarred for life. The shed also appeared to be a perfect breeding ground for the hantavirus which I definitely didn’t want to breathe in and become infected with, so I found a company that’s coming with biohazard gear and they’re going to take everything out, vacuum up the droppings, disinfect it all, and help me figure out how to avoid another catastrophe like this in the future.

I love all animals but the not the ones that bring disease.

You have to know that a situation has to be REALLY REALLY bad if I don’t clean it myself. I have pics but you probably don’t want to see them. The only one who seemed interested was Angel Boy 2.0 who wanted me to flip the camera around so he could see.

“Show me the rat poop, Grandma!” “Wow, that’s a lot!”

Yuck. I’ve lost my appetite, hope I didn’t do the same to you.

This garden has possums, coyotes, bobcats, hawks, and owls; all of whom include mice and rats on their menu. I’ve tried to make a hospitable environment for them here at Casa de Enchanted Seashells and all I ask in return is that they keep my space rodent free — and they let me down. They failed. I’m very disappointed in our relationship.

What more could April bring? I don’t even want to know. Tell me when it’s my birthday month of May, OK?

UPDATE: The rat guy left and the infestation was so bad that a lot of stuff had to be discarded!! It’s all clean and disinfected now, but WOW. If anyone’s in the SoCal area and needs similar services, I 100% recommend Pacific Coast Animal Control.

A Whimsical Flower Garden Bouquet For ME!

Tomorrow might be all about the original Angel Boy as it’s his birthday, but today is all about me, so I walked around the garden and picked all the flowers blooming in early spring to celebrate myself.

Back in 1981, he was already a week overdue on March 22. I had walked my dogs, Sabrina and Beowulf, early in the morning where I tripped on an uneven sidewalk and fell down.

Other than being annoyed at my huge bulky belly that got in the way of everything, I didn’t think about it. I felt fine.

My mom came over to take me out for lunch and shopping, two of my most favorite pastimes (then and now). I remember exactly what I bought. She wanted me to have a pretty nightgown to commemorate the birth of her first and only grandchild. In fact, I still have that little rose sprigged lacy cotton gown, mainly because I never throw things away and besides, it’s a lovely reminder of that day with my mom.

As we were eating lunch, I excused myself to use the restroom. When I returned, I said to her, “It’s so weird, I don’t know why my pants feel like I wet myself.”

Well, my mom who NEVER freaked out, was always calm, freaked out, “Your water broke. Why didn’t you tell me? We need to get to the hospital. When did this happen?” “What other symptoms do you have?”

I told her about falling earlier in the day and she deduced that I had partially ruptured the placenta. I don’t remember much about driving home except for her repeating, “You might have introduced bacteria, you might have introduced bacteria. Why didn’t you say something sooner?”

Stubborn as I am, I did NOT go to the hospital right away, although I was having slight labor pains. I wanted to take a shower and walk my dogs again.

She and Daddy-to-be called my doc who agreed that I needed to get to the hospital to be safe.

I was extremely upset because for nine months I planned to have my baby at home with my mom attending. She was an amazing nurse, had worked for many years in labor and delivery and had brought home a sterile delivery kit, kinda sorta like Call the Midwife.

The fact that there was even the slightest chance that my baby was in danger caused my mom (and Dad) to refuse to allow me to play the role of Earth Mother and stay home. I had planned to have all my animals surround me to participate because their little brother or sister (we didn’t know) was being born.

I had to reluctantly agree with them that it wasn’t all about me, plus the vaginal mucous plug or “show” had started to separate from the cervix which meant actual labor was progressing. We arrived at the hospital about 7pm.

I’ll save the rest of the story for tomorrow, because after that day it was NEVER all about me ever again–it’s always and will forever be about my Angel Boy.

Here’s me on March 22, on that final walk, taking a break with my beautiful Sabrina, a couple hours before going to the hospital. I’m really happy to have this photo. My sweet Sabby looks so old.

I’ve shown this pic to my other Angels and they get a kick out of seeing their Daddy inside Grandma’s body before he came into the world. “There’s Daddy!” And “Grandma, you love Border Collies so much, don’t you?”

But not more than you guys. Nope. Never more than you, my Angels.

Strange Encounters

Do you listen to your inner voice? Do you pay attention when you’re in a situation and something doesn’t feel right?

I know it’s a been a good long time since we’ve gathered in groups. For me it’s been a bit more than two years because I had a feeling that this mystery virus was worse than anticipated and stopped going to the gym or any other public event at the end of February 2020, a couple weeks before the proverbial shit hit the fan.

Now we’re in this sort of post-pandemic limbo coupled with a country inhabited by repression and rampant racism, banned books, elected officials who want to turn the clock back to a time where women had ZERO rights (reproductive and otherwise), and schools are prohibited from teaching certain subjects and acknowledge individual gender identity — and if we add the genocide in Ukraine, the world seems bleak.

A few days ago I had every intention of attending an all day seminar but I left after a few minutes.

Here’s why:

Right off the bat I got some weird vibes (only way I can describe it) from a group of guys that were clearly in the military. There were about a dozen of them, very young and all unmasked although masks were still required. They stood in the hallway just outside the room. One of them, way too clean cut and extremely militant looking, for some reason picked me out and started interrogating me with rapid fire questions in an insistent, belligerent, almost hostile, overly assertive voice, “Are you the teacher?” “Do you know where we’re supposed to go?” “Are you taking this class, too?” I took a moment to breathe and assess the threat level (haha) and responded, “You sure do ask a lot of questions” and he tried to stare me down before he walked away to stand with the guys he arrived with. It’s not easy to intimidate me so he obviously picked the wrong person. I might be only five feet tall, but that’s misleading if anyone thinks I can be bullied. I can turn into ghetto grandma in the the blink of an eye. (Namaste, y’all.) My initial feeling is that they were white supremacist/Oathkeeper-types. No, I have no proof, only a feeling, and not a good one. Why they were there didn’t make sense.

I observed another man, older, also unmasked, making the rounds of the room before the seminar started. He seemed to think it was one of those instant speed dating events as he chatted with all the women. When he came up to me, I purposely made no eye contact but he didn’t seem to care. “You must be cold. YOU MUST BE COLD.” I glanced at him. “Your arms are folded, you must be cold.” I ignored him. I don’t play the “friend finder” game. He was annoying and obnoxious. He walked away without escalating his sales pitch, thank goodness.

I don’t think it was ME — I wasn’t spewing negative energy — I was minding my own business.

The instructor showed up and closed the door. I was sitting all the way in the back nearest the exit and counted about fifty people in the room with only ten masked, including myself. All I could think about was the newest variant and how it might not be prudent to be stuck in a room with no open windows or air circulation.

When I quietly told the instructor’s assistant that I didn’t feel comfortable being there, she was extremely gracious.

I feel like I totally did the right thing by leaving for all the reasons.

I wonder what the story was all about with those Marines because they were out of place. I heard the instructor and his assistant talking about them too, so I know it wasn’t just me. Something didn’t fit. Something wasn’t right.

Are things back to normal for you now? Would you have stayed?

A Sunday Pictorial

Just a day in the life…

Caring for a friend’s old and adorable cat for a couple of days…

Chasing butterflies in the garden…

The clouds hung around after a bit of welcome rain.

A whole lotta bicyclists ride down the beach highway.

There were supposed to be waves up to eight feet but not here, I guess. It was kinda disappointing, but still a beautiful Pacific Ocean scene.

Happy Sunday from sunny Southern California!

Time for a Confession

I need an intervention.

I’ve watched so many British TV shows that I called somebody a wanker (under my breath) and actually started to get in my car on the OTHER side.

Sometimes I use the word “whilst” and stop myself from adding a “u” to color, honor, favorite. I actually think they look better with the addition, but that’s a personal issue.

I think it all started years ago with Absolutely Fabulous and all the British baking shows, Downton of course, Broadchurch, Vera, Scott & Bailey, Call the Midwife, Endeavour, Sherlock, The Crown, Unforgotten, Grantchester, now All Creatures Great and Small…soooo many!

Honestly, I don’t watch a lot of American TV unless it’s reruns of The Nanny or Bewitched or Emergency and it’s turned me into a bloody fool, but I should stop whinging. I’m cheeky like that. No worries, it’s all brill.

My DIL thinks I’m so funny because she likes to watch American shows and I don’t think they are nearly as well acted or written. Oh, we love to watch trashy Dynasty, but that’s a one off for me.

One of my favorite sayings is “needs must”. I reckon those two words speak volumes.

Cheers! Off you go then.

Angel Boy Chat #323 “I TAUGHT GRANDMA SOMETHING!”

I have a lot of posts in my drafts folder; this sweet little convo took place the last time I saw the Angels.

“Tell me one fun thing you did at kindergarten today, my beautiful boy.”

(Note: I try to never ask questions that will never elicit a yes or no response.)

“I can subitize. Can you, Grandma?”

“What word did you say?”

“SUBITIZE!.” “SUBITIZE!!!” he yells RIGHT in my ear.

[Laughing] “Dude, I can hear you just fine, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that word. Say it again slowly.”

“Subitize.”

“What is that?”

“It’s like this” and he grabs a domino, looks at the amount of dots on it, and says “Eight”.

“Do another one, T.”

“Six.”

“How do you know without counting each one?”

He shrugs his TEENAGER-ISH shoulders, “I dunno, that’s subitize, Grandma.”

OK, well of course I know how to look at a group of items and my brain automatically counts them, but I didn’t know there was an actual word for it, so I learned something from our little kindergartner and he was BEYOND pleased that he could teach me for a change.

“Mommy, I taught Grandma something!” He was so proud of himself for knowing something that I did not.

From that day forward, our game is to say “Subitize me!” so he can quickly subitize sections of tangerines or apple slices or carrot sticks lined up to dip into hummus.

Did you know this word? Am I the only one who didn’t??

Subitizing is the rapid, accurate, and confident judgments of numbers performed for small numbers of items. The term was coined in 1949 by E.L. Kaufman et al., and is derived from the Latin adjective subitus (meaning “sudden”) and captures a feeling of immediately knowing how many items lie within the visual scene, when the number of items present falls within the subitizing range. Sets larger than about four items cannot be subitized unless the items appear in a pattern that the person is familiar with (such as the six dots on one face of a die).(Wiki)

Happy February | Imbolc | Chinese New Year

This is a great day for all of the reasons!

Have you ever gone to a store with a purpose, on a mission, like you know exactly what you’re looking for or need, BUT you become sidetracked and MUST HAVE what caught your eye?

Well, that happened to me. I was looking for prezzies for my almost six-year-old. I like to start accumulating stuff way in advance of his March birthday and not wait until the last minute. I put a lot of thought into the gifts I choose; some educational, some for fun, some for artistic craftiness.

Up and down every aisle and there’s really nothing that I/he can’t live without…until I spy a pink butterfly and I’m entranced. When I get closer, I’m hooked. I’m in love. Obviously I’ve forgotten all about my original intention because this beauty was coming home with ME.

It’s a 12×12 pink butterfly pillow and it’s entirely crafted out of beads and sparkles. Oh my. It’s EVERYTHING. It’s gorgeous and sparkly and pink and tactile and PERFECT for my bed, and it’s on sale. It’s obviously not to be used as an actual pillow; it’s decor– it’s princessy and enchanted and beyond precious.

I have no idea why it was discounted 50%, but I l very gently– reverently— carried it in my arms to the register.

The employee said, “Where did you get that? It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” I pointed, and she said, “Just a minute, OK?” and ran over to snag the only other one.

“I had to have it”, she whispered, and I nodded. “I know. Sisters.”

What a simply perfect way to start the lovely month of February.