Holiday Pet Hotel

Guess who will be checking into Holiday Pet Hotel in Encinitas, California, You guessed right…. CALLIE

I am pretty sure that most cats don’t like to go to a kennel but in Callie’s case, she loves people so much that I think it is a better solution than having her stay by herself and asking someone to feed her. She likes to be entertained and spoiled and having someone stay at the house would be in for a rude awakening when she politely asks for a serving of her frozen kibble in the middle of the night. I explained this phenomenon in an earlier post called: Please Pass the Frozen Kibble. I will have a 30 minute playtime scheduled every day and her favorite food, Science Diet Oral Care will be provided and Callie can learn to tolerate other cats from a safe distance. 

The wonderful staff at Holiday Pet Hotel are to be congratulated on work well done. You don’t see dogs being dragged into the front office. They drag their owners by the leash and the happy barking of dogs attending day care makes you smile. Maybe I could ask them to board Callie with the dogs!? Now, that would be an interesting twist. Callie loves dogs but I am afraid most dogs would love to chase her.

We will return in 2 weeks to update you on her stay. I will ask the staff to take photographs of her playing if they have the time and then I will share them with my readers…

Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Anza Borrego Desert State Park was named after the 18th century explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and borrego, the spanish word for sheep. ABDSP is the largest state park in California and is home to the Peninsular big horn sheep. I happen to live in Borrego Springs, a small town next to the park, and while biking around De Anza Country Club, I am delighted to encounter chance sightings of the sheep when they are forced to come down to lower elevations when foraging becomes difficult to find. It is usually several collared ewes or females that lead the herd with the young frolicking behind and the big males in the back. Some of the juveniles mock fight during rutting season and you can hear the boom of their horns when they make contact. The bigger more experienced males plod along at the very back as if they have seen it all and try to ignore the pesky young teenagers. The dominant male has a gorgeous set of horns and brings up the rear and is protective and powerful looking. If the ewes stray away from the herd he snakes his head and shakes his horns and forces them to band up tighter. It appears to me that the females have a say in where they will end up foraging, but have to tow the line in staying close together. I try to keep my distance, and always have a palm tree I can duck behind if i am charged. This particular herd looks very healthy and there are about 5 kids, or young sheep that have come down from the higher elevations for the first time and act so  curious. The sheep are searching for the grass on the golf course and I suppose there are mixed emotions concerning them grazing when golfers are trying to play. It is survival for the sheep though. Because of the natural springs in the area, park visitors may see roadrunners, kit foxes, mule deer, iguanas, red diamond rattlesnake, ( one of which I almost ran over with my bike sunning in the middle of the street) coyotes, golden eagles, jack rabbits, kestrels and mule deer. It is an oasis in the desert and is home to the only native fan palm tree.  I have lived here for a year and a half now and after surviving the outrageous temperature of 124 degrees over the summer, I am appreciating the mild autumn. We have experienced two good rainstorms this week and maybe the wildflowers this spring will be abundant. I cycle all over ABDSP and Borrego Springs and have found it to be a wonderful place to cycle, take photographs and enjoy a big sky and lots of sunshine.

Two Timing Cat!

About a week ago I went to visit my sister Gayle and I was gone for 3 days and 2 nights. I had to leave Callie behind and when I returned home, I was pleased to see that Callie and my husband Michael had gotten along very well indeed. He spends a lot of time on his laptop doing research and Callie loves to tuck herself in between the laptop and his hands. She expects to be petted and stroked when she is by your side and if you appear too preoccupied or become distracted, she will gently bite you and get up in a huff and walk away. Michael can spend up to 14 hours in one day working on his research and this provides a serious block of time dedicated to Callie’s pleasure. I am way too active during the day for Callie to rest next to me and it appears that she has switched her aliegence to Michael since my return. I keep walking in on the two of them together and if she notices me she startles and jumps off his lap and dashes away to a safe distance. It is almost like she thinks I will get jealous of her new love affair. She refuses to cuddle next to him if I come into the room and will only hang out with him if I am nowhere to be found.  Lately she has herded me into the bedroom at night and when I am safely tucked into bed, I see her cute little rear end with her tail held high in the air, quietly sneak out and disappear down the hall. I feel like tiptoeing after her and once she has settled onto Michael’s lap, I jump up with arms raised and yell, “caught you!” She also communicates with Michael in a different way and has a much louder meow as if she thinks he is hard of hearing. And if not hard of hearing, maybe he isn’t as smart about knowing what her needs are because she is very bossy and demanding with him. Yesterday, Michael walked down the hall to get something out of the front bedroom and Callie followed a few minutes later meowing loudly and demanding to know where he was. She had to walk past me before she noticed that I was there and pretended she wanted to visit me all along. She meows very quietly to me and barks and chirps at Michael. It appears that Callie has both Michael and me wrapped around her little paw and her technique for getting what she wants has been customized to fit our different personalities. Michael loves having her seek him out for attention and I like chasing after her for attention when it suits my needs. What a smart little two timing cat she is…….but what does that make us?

Want To Go For A Ride?

Most people that have a dog know that dogs love to go on car rides and hang their heads out the window and take in the sights, sounds and intoxicating smells that wiz past them effortlessly. The wind blowing through their fur and the smells rushing by are heaven to a dog. Well Callie loves it too, and if you don’t go too fast, she hangs out the window as far as I will allow her. I have her harness and leash attached and hold on to one back leg for good measure because she would love to hang out of the window even farther. She closes her eyes and inhales the lovely scents of the desert and relishes the sunshine and breeze blowing past her. There are few cars on the road and we can go slowly and let her enjoy herself without feeling rushed. It is a treat for all three of us and if I ask her if she wants to go for a car ride, she jumps up on the table to be snapped into her harness and off we go. People get a kick out of seeing a cat hanging out the window and Callie gets a kick out of them too. It is a lovely way to spend an afternoon.



Queen of the Olive Trees

Today dawned with the golden eastern light illuminating the foothills behind the house. The temperature dropped last night to 49 degrees but will be a perfect 76 today. All the plants and animals sigh with relief after the brutal heat of summer and it is a perfect time to be in the desert. Callie enjoyed her pre-dawn romp in the olive trees and loves to survey her surroundings from the highest branches possible. She had a particularly skillful climb today and leaped from branch to branch and was able to climb to the top with ease, so I have dubbed her,”Queen of the Olive Trees!”

Waiting For Rain

The ocotillo is one of my favorite plants in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. It is designed to survive minimal rainfall and is drought resistant.  The cane-like branches of this shrub reach to the sky and dominate the landscape. It produces up to 100 branches from a shallow-rooted crown. I have seen ocotillo up to 30 feet tall and because there are so few trees in the desert, birds perch on its thorny branches and seek protection from predators. While biking I have come across huge flocks of doves that lift off as one when you get too close. The branches bob up and down after the weight of the birds have taken skyward and it is quite the display if the cane like branches are flowering. The thick leathery ovate leaves seem to grow over night after a rainstorm and it is not unusual for an ocotillo to leaf out and go dormant five times a year. The ocotillo’s bissexual, bright red-orange flowers are clustered at the tip of each stem and have a nectar-secreting gland on the flowering buds. A variety of insects and hummingbirds frequent the flowers and the green and red of the shrub add color and height to the desert landscape. They are wonderful to photograph and add a lot to the stark beauty of the desert because you can see through the thin branches and can place them in the foreground of the photograph. Anza Borrego is home to many ocotillo shrubs and when off roading, biking or hiking, they add a prehistoric graceful beauty to the otherwise low lying flora that hug the desert sand.

Let Your Little Light Shine

I am a morning person and Callie is a morning cat and sadly, Michael is neither one… It is still dark out when I get up and Callie is waiting for the moment when she can dash outside and run up the first olive tree. She isn’t allowed to leave the yard unless I am with her, so olive tree climbing will have to do.  There are always hummingbirds around that scold Callie and zip from one branch to the next while teasing her and putting on a show. Callie loves it and tries to outdo her personal best from yesterday and climb just a wee bit higher. It is a little nerve wracking when the branches become so thin that they bend under her weight, but watching her little light shine and the glow of the hillside at dawn, makes it all worth while. Callie loves this time of day best, when she can be free to climb and chase the birds and wait for the morning light to fill up the sky. The desert is peaceful at this time of day, even in the middle of summer, and Callie and I have made it a morning ritual. When we have had our fun, and the foothills have lost their golden glow, we come back inside and have breakfast and I finish my cup of coffee. Michael is ready to get up by then and we prepare to go on a bike ride. Biking in Borrego Springs and Anza Borrego complete my morning ritual and I am ready to let my little light shine too…

Put On Your Rain Dance Shoes

The storm arrived last night around 1am and I felt like doing a happy dance in the still of night. It is such a big deal when it rains in the desert that everything and everyone celebrates on some level. I didn’t exactly put on my dancing shoes, but I did pull on my UGGS for a second day in a row and Callie got to chase olive leaves and observe a beautiful rainbow developing in the northwest.  It is fresh and brisk outside and the trees have been washed and the dust and sand packed down for a day. The winds are just starting to pick up and there is a chill in the air which means I actually get to put a sweater on too! With the winds come beautifully formed clouds that spiral and sail past the mountains at dizzying speed. When a storm arrives, it is time for me to get out the camera to take landscape photographs. Cloud formations add so much to the overall scene and the desert landscape has such a big sky format that it compliments the dry and arid ground. Southern California received some much needed rain yesterday and Anza Borrego Desert State Park accepted the storm today with relief and appreciation. It feels like the ocotillo turn green and leaf out over night and the beautiful red blossom on the tips of the branches were noticeable today when I went out on a bike ride. You can smell the sage and creosote and quail are dashing around in the underbrush while the white winged doves choose to risk flying erratically overhead. There is a sharp-shined hawk that is so athletic and fast out here that even when the doves are hiding under a bush, it can divebomb down and force them to take flight. There is much more of a sense of the precariousness  of life in the desert and every day a bird or jackrabbit survives is a gift. I could hear the coyotes howling last night and the young pups do their best to join in the chorus. Their voices are higher pitched and so joyous that you just have to hope the season will be kind to them. The scorching hot summer temperatures are behind us and for that, I too can rejoice. Thanksgiving arrives this Thursday and Michael and I and hopefully our good friend, Fred are going to go to Ram’s Hill Country Club for our traditional feast. I don’t have to cook this year, another cause for celebration! Happy Thanksgiving to all…

A Need for Green

Anza Borrego State Park and neighboring Borrego Springs is a desert, and living here with Callie and Michael is a unique experience for me. Every once in awhile and because it is so arid in the desert, Callie and I need to feel green under our feet, and so we take a walk over to the De Anza Country Club Golf Course. It is a beautiful golf course built the year I was born in 1955. There are many mature trees and a lush green belt for us to walk along. Callie has a chance to feel grass under her feet and never misses an opportunity to scratch and sharpen her claws on the trunks of trees we happen to walk past. Golfers will look up from their game and ask if that is a cat I am walking on a leash, and I have to agree with them that yes it is. It always comes as a surprise to the golfers and many of them take a moment to walk over to pet her. Callie expects this and is not shy about their approach and relishes the attention by frequently rolling over for a belly rub. A need for green becomes a social outing and questions are asked and questions are answered, and Callie takes it all in with her usual calm and love for people. Today a woman golfer walked over to stroke Callie’s beautiful fur and she said she was still grieving after a year and a half after having put her 17 year old cat down.  Petting Callie for a few moments seemed to revive her and off she went to continue her game with a renewed sense of appreciation for the beautiful day. Rain is a possibility tomorrow and maybe Southern California will get some much needed rain. There are clouds building in the sky but no wind. We usually get wind if the storm is powerful enough to cross over the barricade of mountains. Only time will tell….so a short stroll along the golf course was a refreshingly green outing, and Callie got a little exercise and worked up an appetite and after a bite to eat, can now take a nice long nap.