Hot summer day in the garden

Really hot for the beach…

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And probably super crowded, too difficult to maintain proper social distancing, so I’m here:

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with a couple friends …

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and some mulberries that aren’t quite ready…IMG_6688

along with some pretty pretty flowers…fullsizeoutput_df1fullsizeoutput_df2I’m enjoying all the lush and colorful garden because pretty soon no matter what I do, the grass will turn brown ‘cos we probably won’t have more rain until next winter and the dry hot SoCal Santana winds make watering a futile effort.

Beach Walk

I got up early, made my French roast coffee (black), observed from the video in the outdoor camera that my coyote came to visit last night around 3:30 a.m.,  got dressed and walked to the beach while it was still overcast and relatively cool.

It’s a hilly walk and I was already sore from a hard workout yesterday, but I kept going. I wanted to avoid the crowds that were sure to descend as soon as the sun came out.

Here’s a couple pics of a very flat Pacific Ocean, although it’s so crowded, I don’t think epic surf was anyone’s goal.

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And then I saw this gem of sage advice on the sidewalk in front of the house where a couple of feral children reside. I know they’re little assholes because at one time I saw them throw rocks at their cat and I told their dad, who turned out to be a bigger asshole. Apple def didn’t fall far from the tree in their genetic pool. He didn’t respond in a kind manner when I told him he was successfully breeding future sociopaths.

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“All roads lead home”

Not necessarily true in all scenarios, but it’s a lovely thought–especially when it’s a text from the original Angel Boy.

Here’s the backstory:

I didn’t want to go the gym ‘cos it seems like everyone is sniffing, sneezing, or coughing, and I don’t want to get sick.

It was a beautiful sunny SoCal morning,  so I thought it’d be fun to try out my new hiking boots, spend a few hours out in nature and soak up the new growth sage-y fragrance blooming after our recent rains.

It is a fact that I have hiked this hill at least a hundred times. It is also a fact that when I go solo, I get lost 100% of the time. I don’t know why or how it happens, but I start out with a solid plan and by the time a couple hours has passed, I’m all turned around and can’t figure out where I am, how I got there, or how to get out.

One time I was lost until dark. I wouldn’t call for help and stubbornly walked until civilization emerged. However, I was fully prepared to sleep with my coyote family if necessary.

I don’t panic anymore. In my head, I say, “Well, Princess, it looks like we’re lost again. Let’s just enjoy the journey.” And then I laugh crazily to myself.

True to form, I got lost. Knowing that my DIL added me to the tracking GPS on her phone, she could be counted on for support if I was in real danger.

I texted my son, “Guess what, I’m lost again.”

He texts back, “All roads lead to home.”

Which wasn’t really helpful in my current dilemma, but it was awfully prosaic of him. (And snarky.)

After a couple of hours wandering around in an aimless pattern, I spotted two young boys riding their bikes. I asked them if they could point me in the right direction to get back where I started. They very kindly did (super nice that they didn’t start laughing at me) and I proceeded to follow their accurate directions.

Love my new hiking shoes, loved the hike, but glad to be back at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

Apparently, all of MY roads DO lead home. My Angel Boy is a genius.

Who can guess where I was? It’s embarrassing to admit how often I’m clueless up here.

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I can see snow! It was hazy today but that’s definitely snow.

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Bright red toyon berries.

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Coyote scat and my awesome new hikers!

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Power plant off in the distance.IMG_8593

New cairns have arisen.

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I bet a lot of locals know where this is. Do YOU?

 

 

 

Cats, Rats, and Bats

Sorry, no pics to share ‘cos the video is grainy and black and white, but these were my three visitors last night at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

In that order. The first video shows a cat sitting on the steps, looks to be dark gray and I’ve seen him before. The next is of a very large rat running down the steps, and the third one is a bat flying directly across the camera lens.

It sounds like it could be the start of a joke…”A cat, a rat, and a bat walked into a bar…” (Although I have no idea what kind of a punchline to write. Maybe Mrs. Maisel or Suzie could help.)

Or a children’s book, “The Tall Tale (Tail) of the Cat, the Rat, and the Bat”,

Or as Theo would say, “Grandma, that rhymes!”

Since I don’t have any decent pics of last night’s guests, here’s our beloved Bandit who ruled us all for thirteen years before she died of chronic renal failure.

The bat is from one of my favorite books, Stellaluna, by (my friend) Janell Cannon.

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And the rat, well, this gif says it all…

(There were no coyotes this time, but I’m happy to report that I’ve been seeing TWO beautiful creatures in the garden, which is awesome as coyotes mate for life. I would be even happier if one day they brought some little ones to visit. It would be a dream come true. I could be their grandma, too!)

Low tide. Tide pools. King Tide.

Amazingly otherworldly photos from Carlsbad State Beach at low tide this afternoon. Lots of wind and blue skies.

Do you think this looks like a donut as much as I do? It’s not though, just a rock treasure alongside a seashell treasure.

Cool tide pools.

Sometimes it’s what you don’t see

Right this minute, there’s nothing to see here except for a fence and a pine tree.

Not a bad view as far as views go, but it’s what happened seconds BEFORE I snapped this pic that makes it memorable.

For me; sadly, not for you.

So it’s a memory stored somewhere in my hippocampus and now hold on a sec, I need to save this draft and swiftly do some research to make sure I’m right.

OK, I’m back and here’s what Google taught me…

Deep inside the medial temporal lobe is the region of the brain known as the limbic system, which includes the hippocampus, the amygdala, the cingulate gyrus, the thalamus, the hypothalamus, the epithalamus, the mammillary body and other organs, many of which are of particular relevance to the processing of memory.

I’m right; memories are stored in the hippocampus.

Use your imagination because I’ll try to explain what you didn’t get to experience:

In the photo, if you pretend you can see what you can’t see, the bottom of the fence that you can only see about half of, there’s a potting table.

I was standing there planting lavender that I had propagated myself. I’ve been doing that for years with a decent amount of success, and it was time to birth another lavender baby.

I wasn’t making a lot of noise, but I wasn’t quiet, either…I was fully immersed in the whole procedure, enjoying the blueblue sky and eighty-five degree weather.

There was a cooling mug of ginger tea next to me and next to that was my phone.

I looked up as two doves flew out of that pine tree.

At almost precisely that same exact time. a HUGE redtailed hawk (who must have been stalking the doves) perched himself on the the fence.

He was LITERALLY INCHES AWAY FROM ME.

I mean, if I had longer arms, I could have reached out and touched his beautiful feathers.

REALLY REALLY.

His golden eyes looked right at me and they widened, as if he was surprised-like WTF human–but he wasn’t nearly as astonished as I was. I froze. We stayed that way, eye to eye, gazing at each other for an eternity of probably less than five seconds before he launched himself off the fence and flew away. There was no fear, simply the connection between the hawk and myself.

It was a MOMENT.

I am not at all kidding; to look into the mystical magical gaze of a hawk and see the recognition that he was trying to make sense of the encounter as much as I was–is HUGE.

Moment-ous. Important.

Regretfully, no pics to share. But I’ll never ever forget the way he looked at me. Eye to eye.

I read that November 11, 2018 is a memorable time in this Universe. If you believe in things like this, it’s SIGNIFICANT.

And I believe that my hawk experience was significant, too. And if not, it was so so beautiful and made me happy and joyful and grateful. All good stuff.

Happy Sunday, y’all!

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An Afternoon’s Journey

I know other parts of the country are freezing, buried under a mountain of snow, but here in SoCal, it was about seventy-five degrees and sunny (don’t hate).

It was the perfect day for a hike in the back country to inhale sandy, dirty trails and think about setting positive intentions for 2018.

We drove for a couple of hours (to a secret spot) and started walking. As the sun rose to its celestial meridian, I started shedding layers.

Does this look like it could be a Native American bedrock metate?

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Beautiful fruiting manzanita; well, I think it’s manzanita…

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We know it’s a going to be a great day when the trails are heavily strewn with coyote scat!

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And this remnant of a coyote or bobcat’s meal. Upon close inspection, it looks like part of a tail but I’m not too sure how it ended up perched on the dried grass.

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Steep and rocky.

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Stopping for a snack and water, the perfect time to touch up dry lips with a little Chanel. I’m always prepared!

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Who says leaves don’t change color in Southern California?

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There’s really nothing more soul satisfying than exerting oneself physically until you’re bone tired and then eating a huge late lunch (with french fries) and feeling zero guilt about the amount of calories consumed!

#gratitude #nature #hiking #backcountry

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.

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My Fave FOUR-letter Word

What do you think it is?

Nope, not that.

Not even close…

It’s SCAT.

S-C-A-T.

HAHAHA…

I bet you NEVER would’ve guessed that, would you? WOULD YOU?

I took myself on a little hike today to a local spot, and was so happy to see several piles of coyote scat (that’s “poop” for those that don’t know.)

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It warms my heart to know that coyotes are still living in this concrete jungle, in spite of the egregious overbuilding here in Carlsbad, that insatiable and sick hunger to remove habitat for any and all living creatures that don’t have the capability to line the pockets of our city leaders–allegedly, of course…

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Another “s” word!

SNAKE!!!

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Facebook friends said it’s harmless; I’m still glad I gave it a wide berth.

 

Destination…top of the hill!IMG_2576

Beautiful oasis even though it’s manmade…Lake Calavara

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Running water!

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Monkey flower and black eyed Susan!

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Cool green unknown plant!

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Pretty spring flowers…

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Happy Pink Moon, everyone!

7 Ways to Use Lovely Lemony Lemon Balm

The epic rains that soaked SoCal this year gave birth to a springtime of lush floral beauty and emerald lawns, something I don’t think I’ve experienced in the thirty-two years I’ve lived at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

Before that, I lived in the area and there were definitely some heavy rains, but I didn’t notice nor did I appreciate the luxuriant plant life like I do now.

Flowers that previously lay dormant for seasons now burst forth in riotous color and perfume, like the lovely freesias, stock, Jupiter’s Beard, and borage.

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Most exciting for me is the herb garden.

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Just look at the abundance of this patch of lemon balm. Planted directly under a bedroom window, the lemony fragrance wafts up and in with even the slightest breeze.

Ahhhh.

Heavenly!

Lemon balm was traditionally used to uplift the spirits and to enhance memory. Some of its healing properties were spiritual in nature. This herb was used in spells to heal broken hearts and also to attract romantic love. It was believed that a lemon balm bag put under the pillow could help promote sleep and put in the bath would promote relaxation. (https://www.mountainroseherbs.com)

Easy to grow Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), a member of the mint family, is considered a calming herb. It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion (including gas and bloating, as well as colic).  help heal wounds, and treat venomous insect bites and stings. Today, lemon balm is often combined with other calming, soothing herbs, such as valerian, chamomile, and hops, to promote relaxation. It is also used in creams to treat cold sores.
http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lemon-balm

Lemon Balm is useful for nursing mothers that want to reduce overproduction of breast milk or when in the process of weaning and drying up milk supply. DIL added it to her sage tea when she weaned Angel Boy 2.0 and it worked!

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Add it to any dish that might benefit from a little lemony flavor, including cookies. I’m going to experiment on a vegan Lemon Balm & Lavender cookie, and will let you know how it turns out.

Seven Ways to Use Lemon Balm

1. Chop a couple tablespoons of lemon balm and add to your favorite salsa.
2. Chop together with cilantro in guacamole.
3. Lemon balm salad dressing is yummy and so easy! Combine your favorite oil with white balsamic or champagne vinegar, 2 TBS chopped lemon balm, pepper, Pink Himalayan sea salt, and whisk!
4. Pour hot water over lemon balm leaves. Let steep and enjoy!
5. I add a few sprigs to a pitcher of water with ice cubes and sliced lemon.
6. Lemon Balm Pesto:
2  cloves garlic
1/4 cup almonds or pine nuts (or both)
2  cups fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh lemon balm
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (don’t add if vegan)
2  TBS fresh lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
In food processor, add all ingredients except oil and pulse. Pour oil in steady but thin stream while pulsing until very smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with dried red peppers if you like it spicy.

If you Google it, there are loads of DIY recipes on the internet and Pinterest using lemon balm, but I chose this one to share with you ‘cos it’s cool and seems fairly easy:

7. Lemon Balm Extract
Combine your favorite carrier oil (sweet almond oil or sunflower or grapeseed with chopped lemon balm leaves in a small jar. Make sure the leaves are submerged in the oil.Cover and place in a sunny spot for two weeks, turning/shaking every so often while still making sure the leaves are submerged. Strain out the leaves and the oil is now ready to use.

**While it’s generally considered safe for most people, lemon balm might inhibit thyroid function. If you’re on thyroid medication, check with your doctor or pharmacist before using internally. As always, if you’re pregnant, nursing, or have any other questions, talk with your doctor.“Melissa Officinalis produced a significant inhibition of TSH binding to its receptor and of antibody binding to TSH”http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14759065