Self-isolating roses

All the rain we had in SoCal a couple weeks ago caused my roses to grow like crazy.

Planted at least six feet apart in order to comply with all social distancing orders, here’s a couple of little bouquets displayed in a Waterford crystal sugar and creamer, just because…

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…and my magical secret garden with a working windmill…

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…as well as an afternoon visit for snacks from Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, also complying with social distancing directives!

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I hope you’re enjoying a lovely weekend!

Rain and sun, wet and dry, shadow and light

The opposite of rain is sun. It rained all week here in SoCal, heavily at times. We received an official total of 6.20 inches of rain. That’s a LOT of rain for a mostly desert climate.

At times, it seemed as if it would never end. That’s the way a lot of things feel. Sometimes, you can endure so much pain and sadness that it seems as if it will never go away, that you’ll never be happy again.

I think it’s like going through a tunnel. When you enter, the light becomes dark and you are so immersed in it that everywhere you look, everywhere you turn–is darkness. It’s so dark you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. Every once in a while, someone might light a candle and you feel a momentary sharp stabbing pain to remind you of what it used to be like, but then the flame’s snuffed out and you’re thrust back into complete and total darkness. Which way is the exit? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel or will I simply stay here in limbo, in pitch-black inky hopeless melancholy? What’s the point of anything?

That was a heavy detour; my mind devolved and digressed and rambled through a rabbit hole of despondency. So there’s that familiar dark night of the soul too, that black spiraling tunnel of anguish.

Maybe I hit replay too many times on Kesha’s Praying. (see link below).

All I really set out to do with this post was share some pics of how much rain we had and how flooded my gardens were, in contrast to one day later, when we enjoyed a shiny sunny blue sky.

When author Alex Banayan interviewed Maya Angelou, it is alleged that she told him to write this sentence on his notepad and to never forget it. “Every storm runs out of rain.”

I hope so. I really do.

Here ya go:

Thursday’s rain…my arroyo seco, dry river bed, wasn’t so dry anymore!

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Saturday’s sun and the birds are singing:

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Kesha Praying

The Day I Caressed a Butterfly

That was today, actually.

It was around noon. I was in the garden, watering because it’s uncomfortably hot here in SoCal. Not as bad as Paris, cos there’s still a bit of an ocean breeze, but HOT.

A pretty orange and black spotted Monarch butterfly began to follow the spray of water from the hose, and she and I had a little chat.

Well, she listened while I talked to her.

“Hey, pretty girl, are you thirsty?”

By way of response, she floated to the ground and folded up her wings like a beautiful fan. Or like pressed together hands in namaste.

“Are you OK?” “Are you injured anywhere?” At the same time I wondered how in the world I could take a butterfly to the emergency vet.

I turned off the water and crouched down to get a closer look.

What do you need? Are you having a little rest?”

Again, no response, but I inched closer and slowly sat down, hardly daring to breathe.

We stayed that way for a moment or two, each of us motionless.

Can I touch you?” I asked. “I won’t hurt your wings, I promise.”

(By the way, the powder on the wings of a butterfly or moth is actually tiny scales made from modified hairs, and it doesn’t actually damage them if they’re touched.)

Ever so tentatively I reached out my right hand and ever so gently touched the charcoal gray folded up underside of her fan wings, and then I simply sat still as a statue.

After a few seconds in which time stopped, she opened her wings once, twice, three times, and then lifted off the ground and fluttered away.

Thank you” I whispered, and held my heart to keep the love from spilling out.

It was nothing short of an amazing encounter, don’t you agree? One of my most enchanting and enchanted days.

Gangsta Butterfly

Rain of any kind in SoCal is something to be grateful for because for a brief moment, we can enjoy green and lush hills and gardens.

Now that we’re back to sunshiny blue skies again, I took pics of the lawn ‘cos it’ll never look this velvety smooth again.

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Even though I have the flu or some version of it in spite of a flu shot, no way would I miss spending an entire day working in the garden. Dirty hands, twigs in my hair, muddy shoes. HEAVENLY.

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But I wasn’t alone.

This happy gangsta butterfly not only followed me everywhere I was, but sat on my head for a few marvelous seconds, too! It’s too bad I couldn’t snap a pic but it was impossible, so you’ll have to trust me. Fluttering and flapping wings all around my face and head. And listen to the birds! So much joy.

Was there a message or a lesson the butterfly was attempting to convey? Or maybe just a shared joie de vivre?

We can coexist in peace, my friendly Mourning Cloak butterfly.

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Yes, s/he was upside down or maybe I was upside down? It’s all in your perspective. Totally LOVING the apple blossoms.

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Knowing that our rains are brief, all the plants put their best foot forward. The rosemary is a riot of blue flowers and bees.

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Bees, so many bees!

 

Happy all planets direct and Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse tonight!

 

Christmas Lights 2017

Ever since I was a little girl in Detroit, I loved the lights of Christmas.

It says sparkle and excitement and anticipation. We mostly had snow around the holidays, but here in SoCal with zero snow, we still enjoy decorating our homes.

I went for a walk around the neighborhood and snapped a few pics of the more elaborate displays.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and enjoy the WordPress snow!
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Bitter+Sweet

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This is how I know I had an amazingspectularawesome fun time with Angel Boy 2.0–when his playroom looks like we’re in the eye of a Category 5 hurricane.

Hurricane Theo lol.

Yes, that’s a ukelele–Theo loves music, and yes, that’s a tent. He won’t sleep in a crib and we’re exploring other options.

Since SoCal had record breaking heat, most of our time was spent at the beach or the park or in the garden.

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Or even cooking with Grandma…which actually meant he was eating all the food in the bowl as I prepared my world famous Kugel, the only time canned fruit enters this house haha.

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I hope everyone had as wonderful and exhausting Thanksgiving as we did.

Now it’s time to clean up the mess.

That’s the bittersweet part. Saying goodbye. And the silence. No squeals, no laughter, no JOY!!!

Strawberries, Sage, and Stevia

Sorry to most of the rest of the country but here in SoCal, our growing season is pretty much never over.

Here’s the raised bed tugboat man built for me the day before he left. I planted tomatoes, kale, red leaf lettuce, beets, beans, and broccoli — I packed a LOT in a 4×8 space. He was supposed to build a second bed, but this is another one of those “such is the life of a tugboat wife” moments where I need to wait until he’s home again.raisedbed

There wasn’t any room for the eggplants or these spicy jlapenos.

jalapenospotI dug a fresh, new herb garden directly under our bedroom window. I’m hoping the lovely aromas will waft up and in.Herb garden

There’s a couple different kinds of sage; basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, lemon verbena, cilantro, and STEVIA.

SteviaDid you know you could grow stevia?

Neither did I, but when I saw a pot of organic stevia at Armstrong’s Nursery, I had to try it. The leaves are super sweet. I’ve seen stevia extract on the grocery shelf as a sugar substitute but I’ve never tried it.

From Mother Earth News, a few facts about stevia:

If growing your own calorie-free, natural sweetener sounds too good to be true, it’s time to get to know stevia.

Native to Paraguay and other tropical areas of the Americas, the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) produces leaves packed with super-sweet compounds that remain stable even after the leaves have been dried.

Stevia leaves have been used to sweeten teas and beverages throughout South America for centuries.

More recently, diabetics and dieters alike have turned to stevia to reduce their sugar intake because, unlike honey, maple syrup, agave or molasses, this natural sweetener has zero calories and is not metabolized by the body.

Stevia is especially well-suited to sweetening drinks, fruits, salad dressings, yogurt and most creamy desserts. Stevia can substitute for some, but not all, of the sugar used when baking, because it does not provide all of the multiple functions that sugar does.

Many commercial drink mixes and packaged sugar substitutes are sweetened with a derivative of stevia.

This sweetening compound is called Rebaudioside A and is listed on labels as either Reb A or Rebiana.

These are highly processed products developed by large food corporations. Most of the raw stevia used to produce these products is grown in China. These “natural sweeteners” have been stripped of many of the plant’s healthful properties.

On the other hand, growing your own stevia to produce teas, extracts, and tinctures made from high-quality, whole-leaf stevia contains up to seven sweet compounds (glycosides) and an array of antioxidants. Growing stevia is easy in well-drained beds or large containers, and the leaves can be dried for winter use like any other herb. Stevia grows best in warm conditions similar to those preferred by basil.

Here’s a link to making your own stevia powder and liquid:
https://wholelifestylenutrition.com/videos/how-to-make-your-own-pure-stevia-liquid-stevia-part-2/

Last weekend I hosted a community garage sale for a local nonprofit (post to come) and someone brought a box of strawberry slips. I took a few, quickly dug a bed, and put them in the ground. Since we hardly ever throw stuff away, I found a length of white wire fencing tucked away behind the greenhouse. There’s nothing better than organic strawberries! Yum, can’t wait!strawberrybed

The weather is so crazy here, my apple and plum trees are blossoming again.

During the last few days SoCal broke tons of heat records along with a few drops of rain —and then nothing.

But it was a beautiful sunrise over the lagoon, right?sunrise looking toward lagoon

Living in the Shadows in Sunny Shiny Southern California

There’s another side of California that you might not know about.

Sandwiched between the manicured lawns of upper middle-class residential subdivisions in SoCal, there’s a microcosm of humanity living in the shadows — migrant laborers from Mexico in makeshift camps.

In my own neighborhood, just minutes from the beach and overlooking chaparral-studded canyons, hidden behind purple sage and giant coyote bushes, we recently went for a hike and found evidence that suggests there are still active encampments.

Mostly these men are invisible, ignored by us as we speed up and down our streets, shopping, caring for our families, and only sometimes do we notice these shadow people standing on the roadside waiting to be picked up for day work or at the local liquor store buying twelve packs of beer and money orders.

Like the crows that fly in and out of our trees in a raucous cacophony, there’s an exodus out of the canyons at dawn and back at sunset.

Whatever side of the undocumented worker discussion you’re on, it’s a  blight on our supposedly civilized society that in 2015, in this country of overabundance and excess, men and women live in the bushes without benefit of safe shelter or even running water.

When you scratch off the thin veneer of Pilates classes, weekly mani-pedis and facials, that fifty dollar bottle of pinot noir, and glance beyond Anthropologie and Sur la Table, in the hills behind The Forum, and probably most of the other open spaces that are clinging to life —  that’s where you’ll find them.

It doesn’t seem quite fair for us to have so much while others are living in squalid conditions.

It’s sad, don’t you agree?

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We especially liked the misspelling. There’s a certain poignancy.

There were several white rags hanging from trees along a certain path; we assumed it was to mark the way when it was dark.kellytrail2I think this is a creek, or it could be runoff from all of the developments.
Kellytrail Hard to see the turkey vulture among the clouds.
kellytrail4Do you know who and what lives beneath the surface in your neighborhood?

 

 

Flowering Mulberry Tree — Photos

Even in SoCal, fruit trees go through the whole process of dropping leaves in the fall, staying dormant through our mild winter, and spring is the time for budding, flowering, and fruit development.

This is our uber-prolific mulberry tree with fresh new leaves and unique flowers.

As the new leaves develop in mid-spring, tiny male and female flowers hang on separate small, slender, inconspicuous spikes. The male cluster is longer, the female rounder.

It’s been unseasonably warm — almost ninety degrees!! — and I think that’s what is causing an early flowering.

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Click on the link for my mulberry jam recipe. https://enchantedseashells.com/2013/06/25/here-we-go-round-the-mulberry-bush-tree/