Heavenly Sky in SoCal

Tonight’s sunset was so effing glorious that for the first time in years, I saw people stopped in their tracks, looking up at the sky instead of down at their phones. It was like an episode of Twilight Zone, all heads tilted up staring at the beauty of sundown.

It was a shared moment of humanity; there were murmurs of “Oh my goodness, did you see that?” leaning on their cars in the Marshall’s parking lot, doing nothing but absorbing the beauty of the universe.

Time stood still for all of us for the duration of the last visible rays of the sun.

“Wow, that was amazing”, was the consensus.

Apparently, there’s still a glimmer of hope for us.

These are raw, unretouched photos from my iPhone.

Mother Nature, I raise a glass to your magnificence. It’s truly humbling.

IMG_3693IMG_3692IMG_3695IMG_3694.JPG

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Empty Nest Disaster

I need to finish the last bits of my empowering road trip, but first must share sad, sad news.

When I woke up this morning, the first thing I did (as always) was to check on the baby hummingbirds.

They have grown so much and by my calculations, would be fledging the nest next week.

I took this picture on Sunday.

HummyMay303

When I didn’t see two little heads bobbing up and down and squirming around, I opened the back door and saw this empty nest.

Hummyemptynestjune1

The chimes upon which the nest was built was in disarray and a feeling of dread washed over me.

I knew something bad had happened, but couldn’t find any clues to suggest who or what had attacked the nest.

I had one last hope; that the two babies were in the mulberry tree that shades the deck, and were only trying out their new wings.

But then mom flew by and sat on the nest looking all around.

She was as confused as I was.

Calling out to her babies, I could feel her distress.

Over the course of the morning, she’s flown back no less than a dozen times, looking everywhere for her children, which confirms my worst fear that they were abducted by a raccoon or a crow or even a hawk.

But this story gets worse.

As I climbed on the bench to peer inside the empty nest and to snap a pic, I positioned the nest/chimes with my hand to get a better angle.

When I went back in the house to sit down and email tugboat man the tragic news, I saw tiny little creatures crawling on my hand.

I HAD BIRD MITES ON ME.

After washing my hands and arms more times than Lady Macbeth and dousing my entire upper body with rubbing alcohol, I took a boiling hot shower and scrubbed myself and my hair three times.

The mere thought of a creature in my hair and I knew my life would be OVER. Thick, long, curly hair is hard enough to deal with, but the thought of mites nesting up there provokes extreme mental anxiety.

I threw away the shirt I was wearing and washed the other clothes twice in bleach and hot water, so much bleach that they’re now completely devoid of color at this point.

Then I freaked out that the mites were going to invade the house and with gloves on, cut down the nest and chimes and put them into a sealed bag to put in the trash or somehow keep the chimes if I can sterilize them to my satisfaction.

After that, I found ant spray (the only chemicals around) and sprayed every possible surface on the deck and the eaves where the chimes/nest had been.

Bird mite infestations from nests is a real thing. There are horror stories on the internet about it.

Crap.

I wonder how long the feeling that things are crawling on me is going to last?

I’m a clean freak ANYWAY, but this is pushing me over the edge, and hub is out of cell range and not available to calm me down and/or offer his sage advice.

An empty nest is bad enough. To be violently snatched from a warm bed in the middle of the night is every mother’s nightmare.

I don’t know what to say to the hummy mom.

Even now, she’s desperately searching for her babies and there’s no way I can tell her that they’re gone forever.

Her heartache is palpable. I can FEEL her pain.

Hub and I fell in love with the whole process, from watching mom build the nest to laying the jellybean sized eggs to watching them hatch and grow.

This is not the ending I could have predicted.

Poor mom.

She’s extremely distraught; even as I’m typing this, I still hear her calling to them.

Who said animals don’t feel things?

Because of course they do.

A mother’s love has no equal.

I feel like I let down mom down, that she trusted me to help her take care of her precious kids, and I failed miserably.

One of my favorite photos…

Property of enchantedseashells.com

Property of enchantedseashells.com

Sometimes Mother Nature sucks.

June 1 SUCKS.

A Mother’s Love #WordlessWednesday

Our very own full nest.

Property of enchantedseashells.com

Property of enchantedseashells.com

#hummingbird #nature #nestingbirds #birds #MotherNature #love #motherslove

Butterflies, Bees, Bunnies, Babies, and Bliss

Everybody needs some bliss; especially ME when tugboat man comes home unexpectedly and then even more shocking, gets a call to return to work WHILE WE’RE DRIVING HOME FROM THE AIRPORT!

It’s not unheard of in the maritime world, but I’ve not really experienced it until now.

Glass half full; we had an enjoyable one-and-a-half days. Thirty-six hours is better than nothing.

It’s important to stay positive and present in the moment, rather than dwelling on the injustice, which would be a waste of time, and TIME is precious.

So he’s gone again and it’s time for a little bliss in the form of Mother Nature.

Breathe deeply and OMMMMMM….

Butterflies…

ButterflyMay172015may2015butterfly3 Bee on buckwheat. may2015bee Bunny trying to get into the vegetable garden. May2015bunnyI also saw a baby bunny running around, but couldn’t snap a pic before he ran under the deck.

Baby announcement!

The ultimate blissful event is the birth of one of my resident hummingbird’s eggs; you can BARELY see a miniature fluffy speck huddled in the bottom of the nest.

HummybabyMay16Mom feeding her newborn. HummyfeedingMay15

And JUST NOW, the second egg hatched! Could anything be more amazing than Mother Nature?

Hummy2eggsMay17-

Here’s an update: Pretty good close up video of the two newborn hummingbirds:

Ending with the B is for Bliss theme, a boat birdhouse.

At least THIS boat is firmly anchored and will stay in one place, right?

boatbirdhouse After the rain; blue sky bliss.

BlisscloudsGone in the blink of an eye; it’s as if he was never here, except that he fixed a couple of my car’s minor problems and I have more laundry than usual.

Tugboat man should be home for sure at the end of June; at that point he’ll have been out to sea for more than ninety days when it was only supposed to be for six weeks.

Such is the life of a tugboat captain’s wife.

PS All photos, unless otherwise noted, are property of EnchantedSeashells.

Another Empty Nest, Another Sad Mom

Another empty nest

Poor mama bird, I know how she feels…

 

I found a broken shell from a newly hatched baby under the ficus tree. A pair of warbling vireos make a home year after year in this birdhouse.

 

It’s so sad that she puts all that work into building a nest and feeding her babies and they always fly away.

They always leave mommy. *sniff*

I guess that’s the way Mother Nature intended it to be, but it still sucks.

Facebook is full of moms who can’t wait until their children turn eighteen, almost pushing them out of the nest with a packed suitcase and a sigh of relief so they can resume their “lives”, but that’s not the way I feel about it.

As much as I’m bursting with pride at the independent and successful young professor he’s become, his bedroom is still quietly waiting — just as it always was, with fresh sheets on the bed, clean clothes in the closet, and his favorite books lined up on the shelf.

In the beginning, when he first left for college (years ago), the hardest thing to deal with was the silence — the QUIET was deafening. I have no idea how one child could fill up the space with his presence, but he did.

Now, nothing makes me happier than a call telling me he’s coming home for a visit (sigh) so I can load up on the ingredients for his favorite foods.

You know how mama birds feed their young, don’t you? They regurgitate partially digested insects and worms directly into the beaks of their babes.

I’m not THAT extreme, but you know what I mean.

It’s one of my greatest joys to watch my son eat.

I admit it. I do. I sit across from him at the table and soak it all in, every single mouthful.

(Don’t feel sorry for him, he’s used to it.)

And then he leaves again, and the quiet fills our house and our hearts.

Can you guess that I’m missing my Angel Boy right now?

The Great ANT Invasion of 2014

English: Small hand-drawn ant graphic

English: Small hand-drawn ant graphic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a day like any other day.

My tugboat man and I awoke to the caw-caphony of a million restless crows, wishing us either a good morning or something less pleasant from the tops of every eucalyptus tree in Southern California.

I could almost taste that first fragrant sip of coffee as I put on my glasses and pulled open the drapes.

Trader Joe’s French Roast, freshly ground, filtered water — I was salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs (need I interject how much I abhor and detest any kind of animal experimentation?)

Tugboat man opened the patio doors.

“Good morning. It’s gonna be a hot one”, he said.

“That’s what they say”, I replied. And “Good morning to you!”

We are polite like that, we really are! (Well, most some of the time.)

“You’re not gonna like this”, cautioned my tugboat man.

“Uh oh, what’s wrong?”

“The kitchen is covered in ants.”

“On every surface.”

“I know you’re going to go crazy. I better leave now, haha.”

“OH MY GOD!”

“AY DIOS MIO”

This day just turned into the worst day ever.

Can you imagine what a roomful of ants, not only on every surface, countertop, floor, sink, and cupboard DOES to someone like me who is ever-so-slightly OCD?

I didn’t know where to start.

But I knew we needed coffee before anything was going to happen.

However long this cleanup would take, my strategy was to begin where it was most needed — the coffee pot area.

Can you believe there ware ants INSIDE THE GLASS CARAFE?!

Because of our ongoing drought and extreme heat, I guess they were searching for water; quite possibly that’s why the kitchen sink was black with swarming ants.

Or maybe they just decided to choose Casa de Enchanted Seashells for some sort of karmic retribution — for what, I have no idea, as I try to NEVER hurt or maim one of Mother Nature’s creatures.

But this was too much to bear.

I could foresee the hours of my day…purging all of the pots and pans and dishes out of the cupboards and food out of the pantry — cleaning and sterilizing every f***ing thing.

Like soldiers marching on the Rhine, they broke me.

I retreated.

I waved the white flag.

But it was only a strategy designed to divert those little soldiers from their goal of full-scale conquest.

I reached under the sink, surreptitiously pulled out a gigantic canister of ant spray, and with a battle cry reminiscent of Mel Gibson In Braveheart I let loose a vigorous stream of poison with the force of General Leslie GrovesManhattan Project atomic bomb testing in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Princess Rosebud won this round. I’m not proud that I surrendered to the use of toxins to win this war, but I felt I had no choice.

steaming-heart-cupFinally, we enjoyed a well-deserved mug of life-giving, life-sustaining dark, rich, bold coffee.

The spoils of war, my friends.

Mission Accomplished.

P.S. As much as I wanted them GONE, I can’t help but admire their determination. Let’s all sing along with Frank Sinatra in “High Hopes”

SUNDAY UPDATE…BREAKING NEWS…
Mission NOT so accomplished. A terror cell of insurgents split from the main army, invading our bedroom. Coming from the attic, this has nothing to do with being thirsty. This is a military coup. Princess Rosebud is fighting back alone; her tugboat man retreated to the safety of a beach. 


 

Gif source: http://webhost.bridgew.edu/jhayesboh/coffee/steaming-heart-cup.gif

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.