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.

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!

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?

What’s Your Inspo?

Friday thoughts…

(inspo = something or someone that serves as inspiration or motivation.)

deviantart.com/ignisfatuusii/art/In-the-Magic-Forest-3311904

I’m a forever child, never to grow up, still talking like the perpetual thirteen-year-old that I was/am, and sometimes a fairy princess in an enchanted forest with flowers in my hair surrounded by gentle creatures.

It used to irk my son when I’d repeat key phrases from South Park or Beavis and Butthead that were sooo INAPPROPRIATE, but now he laughs with me. A snarky chuckle, but a laugh nonetheless.

One day when he was in graduate school, we were eating lunch with a few of his friends and he put me on the spot and made me imitate Towlie from South Park. “Wanna get high?” in that Towlie voice. Good sports, we all laughed. I knew they were laughing AT me, but it wasn’t in a mean way. I laughed at myself, too. The jokes on them though, ‘cos whatever I did as a mom inspired my son to become a professor. HAHAHA.

Here’s Towlie in case you didn’t have a teenage son in the 90s…

NEVER GROW UP, that’s my mantra. (A girly Peter Pan without leaving all the narcissistic destruction in my wake.)

Just now at the ATT store I noticed that I was the ONLY one who was enthralled with two little starlings who walked all around me in a circle, not a care in the world with regard to humans and cars, and then I looked up and saw a gigantic White Egret. There was a UPS man parked right next to me and he followed my gaze as I was looking up, so I said, “Look at the beautiful white egret!” Nothing. “It’s a BIRD.” Nothing. “It’s really special!” Nothing. He continued with his stressed and frenzied pace to get those packages delivered and delivered and delivered. He looked at me like I was slightly off center but I wanted to tell him that he’d have a better day if he stopped just for a minute to BREATHE and LOOK UP.

There are miracles all around to be seen and heard. The simple things are the greatest bringers of joy and gratitude. It’s also true a Chanel handbag can bring its own kind of joy, as much as a seashell. Same.

Back to inspo

What’s MY inspo? Now it’s mostly Theo and Charlotte, and always my original Angel Boy, that’s a given.

I’m putting the finishing touches on Theo’s half birthday gift, another one of my personalized books with photos and beginner words that I write just for him.

Yes, we celebrate half birthdays around here. It’s a tradition started by my mom, the original Charlotte. Hee hee. Not only did I get presents on my dad’s birthday, I received gifts and HALF a cake on my half birthday in November. The same was done for AB and now his kids. I think it’s an awesome tradition.

When my son turned twenty-one, I embarrassed him (yet again) in front of his friends with my speech about my love for every breath he’s ever taken and then gave him a gift of a star that I named for him because he was and will always be my entire universe. Check it out: International Star Registry, Scutum RA18h 47m 46d D-12′ 24′

Do you celebrate half birthdays?

What’s your inspo?

Aquafaba. Not Awkwafina and definitely not Paso Fino

NOT Awkwafina, one of my fave actors and comedians from one of my all-time fave films, Crazy Rich Asians.Awkwafina has a scene-stealing role as Constance Wu's old college roommate in "Crazy Rich Asians."

And not a beautiful Paso Fino, either. I had never heard of that breed as I’m not a very horsey person but I met one while hiking at the Daley Ranch and fell totally in love. He was the most gorgeous creature I’ve ever seen and I couldn’t stop petting him. He was all dressed up in a shiny silver bridle. I’m mostly afraid of horses because they’re so big but this guy was gentle and affectionate.(This isn’t the horse I met; this pic is from Wiki.)

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No, what I’m talking about is AQUAFABA. I don’t know how it is that I’ve never heard of it, but that’s the truth. It slipped right by me, like the noxious slime that it is.

Up until now, I thought that the viscous liquid in cans of garbanzo beans was vile and slippery and I drain them IMMEDIATELY before making hummus or veggie burgers.

Who knew that some brilliant person must have thought to herself, “Hmm, what if I whip this shit up into a frothy mass and use it as a vegan replacement for egg wihites?”

And who came up with the NAME??? Aquafaba

I(t reminds me of that stuff I put on my lips ‘cos it’s so dry in SoCal: Aquaphor…)

I would really like to have a chitchat with that person because my unimaginative brain does NOT work that way.

My brain is more like “EWW, gross.”

I promise to try it in a recipe and post the results. I’d like to see how it compares to egg whites in a lemon meringue pie or a chocolate mousse or marshmallows. Apparently, it’s virtually calorie-free, so that’s a plus.

Try this site for some great recipe ideas: https://www.vegansociety.com/news/blog/20-amazing-things-you-can-do-aquafaba

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever worked with aquafaba.

My New Best Friend

This little guy visits me every single time i’m outside. He’s easy to identify because of the dark spot on the top of his head. I’m not sure if it’s a wound or an injury, but he seems healthy. I pet him with a little stick; he also enjoys a back massage.

I see nothing wrong with having an alligator lizard as a bestie, do you?

“Hey, man.” Convo with the brilliant one.

No one can pinpoint the etymology of this phrase with regard to our extremely precocious almost 4.5 year-old, but yesterday was the first time I heard it.

We were FaceTiming so he could tell me about their week-long camping trip. He was regaling me with how much fun he had and how he went surfing and how his baby sister enjoyed her first time living on the feral, as we say.

As an aside, he started referring to his almost one-year-old sister as “Missy” and when I asked him who he was talking about, Mom took the phone and said he started calling her that after I sent an Amelia Bedelia book where the child she babysits for is called “Missy.” T has a very active imagination.

As, we’re chatting and he shows me some new crystals he got at a yard sale–green and purple, his two favorite colors–I heard Dad in the background say, “Tell Grandma about the lake we went to this morning.”

“Oh yeah, hey man, I jumped all the way in from really high, you would have been too scared, little Grandma!”

I said, “What lake?” and “What did you just say?”

And he replied, “Let me ask Daddy.”

He walks over to where Dad is sitting on the sofa (I’m dragged along on FaceTIme) and says, “Hey, man, what was the name of the lake we went to?”

My son started snickering and said. “It was Kachess Lake”.

T said, “Hey man, it was Kachess Lake”.

I replied, “Oh, I saw the pictures and thought it was Green Lake.”

He corrected me, “No, man, it was Kachess Lake. Hey man, did you see me jump?”

“I did. You are a brave boy. Hand the phone to Dad for a minute, please.”

“Hey J-boy. What’s up, man? Where did he get that?”

*snickering again*

“We have no idea; he must have heard it somewhere or maybe on Sesame Street, that’s all we can think of, but literally EVERY other word out of his mouth is ‘man this or man that’.”

“Hey man, I’m gonna hit the red button now. Is that OK, Grandma?”

“Yeah, man, that’s cool. Catch you later. Bye, Angel Boy.”

Have you ever heard a little one use that term in the proper context? He sounds so grown up, so sophisticated. SOOOO precocious. Heaven help us when he’s an actual teenager.

What does a shiny green beetle, pennies, and a lizard on my bed have in common?

What does a shiny green beetles, pennies, and a lizard on my bed have in common?

Probably nothing, but that’s the puzzle.

Yesterday, I found a baby lizard on my bed–on top of the comforter, apparently hanging out. It didn’t look confused or lost, but as much as I love animals, I don’t really want to share my bed with an alligator lizard so I ran in the kitchen, grabbed an empty hummus container, and RAN back in the bedroom, hoping he was still chilling out and hadn’t moved. Thank goodness, he was in the same spot. As fast as I could, I scooped him up into the container, slapped on the lid and released him/her outside in the garden. How strange is that? I know we live in SoCal and there are lizards everywhere, sometimes in the garage, but rarely ever in the house. I don’t have pics, but you can believe me. It happened.

(Here’s a photo I just took of either the same baby lizard or a cousin, catching some rays on the sprinkler. Stay outside, little one!)

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Very strange, I think to myself.

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Early this morning while I transplanted a few baby herbs, I found an old scruffy penny. As I looked around in another part of the garden for something else to fill up more empty spots,  I found another penny.

Hmm…that’s odd, I think to myself.

A couple seconds later, I spied something shiny and green on the lawn. When I got close to check it out, I saw it was a dead beetle which I’ll save to show AB 2.0 at some point in the future.

Hmm…that’s odd AND strange,  I think to myself.

So what’s going on at Casa de Enchanted Seashells?

I have no idea, but a little research revealed this:

Finding a lizard on your bed implies that you are losing control or authority over someone or somebody. Okie dokie. Not sure about that, but I’ll consider it. This is better…The ability of the lizard to drop its tail, and grow it back has led to it being a symbol of growth, regeneration, and survival. To many Native American tribes, the lizard survivability has made it an important symbol especially when it comes to the birth of a male child. Many cultures see lizards as protectors and guards. This is particularly true when you consider many native American cultures. For instance, any Plains Native American tribes revered lizards for their ability to survive. Umbilical cords were sewn into amulets that resembled lizards as this ensured the health, masculinity, and strength of baby boys.  (https://www.snaketracks.com/lizards-symbolism/)

The beetle is a Cotinis mutabilis, also known as the figeater beetle (also green fruit beetle or fig beetle), and is a member of the scarab beetle family. I don’t have any fig trees…Symbolically, if you see a beetle of a green color, it’s the symbol of good health and prosperity, The beetle is often seen (in many cultures) as a lucky charm. Some even use it as an amulet. … Beetles are also associated with change, balance, and consistency.

Regarding found money, the most common thought is that coins are a sign from a departed loved one sending you their love and support. Ok, I get that, but I wish my mom or dad had left a couple million dollars buried in the garden, not two copper pennies. I’m GRATEFUL for the message, but still. Ya know? Oh well. Thanks, guys.

And it’s not even 10am here. I wonder what the rest of today will bring.