Words Cannot Describe

I lost my best friend to suicide yesterday. She had been laid off from work and had financial troubles. Her social security was not enough to cover expenses after Medicare. She was 65 years old and was single, without any children, no family and had worked hard all her life. I am at a loss for words and cannot describe the sadness I feel for her situation. I am going to honor the good times and memories though and the fact that she chose to end her life by her own hand.

I love you Dolly and will miss you greatly. We had lots of laughter to share and we both complained mightily about the injustices of American politics and the ugliness of Trump. Dolly could not understand how any critical thinking American could possibly support this monster. Goodbye Dolly and may you Rest In Peace and no longer suffer. You were the light of my life and I will continue to take photographs of beauty to share with the world.

As an old Chinese Proverb states: Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

I’m Never Letting Go

Callie has never loved a toy like she loves the worm on the hook! I would not have guessed it and only bought it out of desperation at the grocery store because she had such a pathetic toy collection while traveling in the RV. At least Callie can hang out on the dash and watch the world go by, but at times, a good rousing game of “worm” is what she wants most of all. And when we stay at home for weeks at a time like this time, she needs other diversions to keep her occupied.

I have had to limit her play time with this ugly thing though because it becomes the ONLY thing that she wants to do. She absolutely loves hooking the worm with one claw and has to have it ever so gently ripped out of her paws. I don’t know what it is about this toy, but somebody got it right when they designed it. The cord is elastic and can be pulled to the limits of its elasticity and then she lets go and the worm goes flying through the air much like a fishing line. After we are done playing, I brush her for awhile to calm her down. She gets pretty wild and crazy pretending that she is destroying this creature.

The Return of Worm

It is such a beautiful morning here in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Borrego Springs. The winds have died down and the temperature is only 66 with a high of 81. A light rain is falling on the coast in San Diego and our mountain barrier has a thick layer of dark clouds that are trying to make it over the peak. This storm won’t provide rain for the parched desert; wind and cooler temps are all this storm will provide. If the winds don’t get too strong this morning, we will be able to go on a bike ride.

Last night I played with “worm” again and Callie absolutely loves this toy. I had to put it away for awhile because she became too obsessed with it and didn’t even want to go outside and climb her beloved olive trees. When she sat on the floor with the worm draped over her head and refused to move, I knew I had to do something. So I put it away for the day and only play with it in the evenings. When dawn arrives, she is more than happy to climb her trees again. The bucking bronco chair is her third choice of play activity, so we have all 3 bases covered and I have hit a home run!

Personal Pride

Callie takes her job as the official olive tree climber quite seriously. It is an important part of the start of her day, and the higher she can climb, the better she feels about her personal accomplishments. I can see it in her eyes and demeanor once she reaches a certain height and turns around to descend back down. Yesterday’s tree climbing involved having to skirt around a limb that made coming back down very difficult. The bark of the tree gave way and she slipped but caught herself and then continued all the way down head first. She literally pranced after her successful climb of the day once her paws hit pay dirt again. What a great way to start the morning. The rest of the day Callie is curled up with a paw over her eyes to prevent the light from coming in.

Biking in Borrego

I am not sure if I would have become much of a cyclist if I hadn’t moved to Borrego Springs which is nestled alongside Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. When I get on my bicycle and head out into the desert, I rarely come across any cars and viewing wildlife is an everyday occurrence. This morning a coyote dashed across the street but stopped along the tamarisk grove on Henderson Canyon to watch Michael and me intently. They don’t seem to recognize us as a threat as much as if you were walking or driving in an automobile.

I tried to whip out my iPhone in order to take a photo of this handsome guy who I have seen on numerous occasions, but the simple act of reaching for the camera made him skittish and he took off at a fast lope. It is a good thing that he is afraid, otherwise he may get shot. I happen to really value the predators in the desert and appreciate their role in keeping a healthy balance with the up and down population of rabbits and small rodents.

Yesterday morning I chanced upon another gorgeous cactus bloom and stopped to take photographs. These flowers only last 24 hours; when you pass them the next day, they are all shriveled up and having served their purpose, wilt and drop off from the main stalk. The brilliant white petals didn’t have a flaw on them and the wild desert honey bees hadn’t even discovered them yet. This morning when I biked past them again, you would never have known how beautiful they were just the day before. I also came across some brilliant red blooms and these flowers had attracted the bees.

We have decided not to go to Rancho Cuyamaca this week for various reasons and are enjoying some rather unexpected, lovely weather and the temperature won’t rise about 95 degrees. That is so wonderful that we have decided to hang out for a couple more weeks. Once the temperature soars, we will have to pack up and head out for most of the summer months.

Callie has been taking it easy and I am being much more protective of her when she is in the backyard ever since the bobcat made his appearance. This cat was so bold and lightening fast, it brought the wild right inside my backyard in a flash. She wouldn’t stand a chance if a cat like that decided to make a meal of her. I always leave the backyard door open too so that if she is startled, she can run back inside.

A Visitor at Dusk

Living out in the wild of the desert is probably what provides me with the most appreciation for my life’s circumstances. I was living on the coast in Encinitas, California, and the change from coastal to arid desert was extreme. I love wildlife and nature and the quiet solitude of the desert, and for this alone I am most grateful. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t witness some event or see an animal living out its existence independent of humanity, doing what it takes to stay alive. It is a harsh environment and not befitting for the faint of heart. It is still wild out here and the top predators have stood their ground and refused to be pushed out any farther.

Last evening at dusk, I just happened to, at the spur of the moment, pick Callie up from outside as she was sitting alongside the verbena and insist she come inside. She let out a squawk of protest but I was tired of keeping an eye on her and wanted to make dinner. We have been giving her just a little more freedom, but every five minutes or so I would check on her to make sure she stayed close to the house. It may sound neurotic and overbearing to many people, but I love this cat and she is my muse, and to discover her missing, or worse, watch her being hauled away by a coyote, would break my heart.

After I brought her inside, not more than a few minutes had passed, when a 40 pound, sleek and well-oiled bobcat, sailed over the fence and strutted across the yard like he owned the place. We were sitting inside watching basketball and I was in awe of his lubricated joints and large size and pointed him out to Michael. Michael, on the other hand, rather than be impressed, jumped into action and said to me that he didn’t want this cat feeling welcome. He threw open the door and ran outside barefoot to save the day and chase the bobcat away.

The bobcat startled slightly, jumped up on the wall with the greatest of ease, looked back at Michael, rather annoyed and with an expression of, who gives a damn. Michael had to charge him and throw fistfuls of sand and a rock at him before he sauntered off without so much as a backward glance. He was not at all intimidated about Michael being a threat to him, and if anything, he was irritated. They made eye contact and stared each other down before he walked off slowly and with as much attitude that only a feline can have. Can you imagine a 140 pound mountain lion staring back at you? Maybe I would run if a cougar attacked me! Michael even took it one step further and went out into the desert to continue confronting the bobcat. Suffice it to say, there wasn’t time to take a photograph and I was just so grateful that I had brought her in.

I don’t know if the cat was watching us before I brought Callie inside, but I can tell you, the image of him streaking across the yard at blinding speed and snatching Callie up in his jaws was very unnerving. I have always been concerned about coyotes, but this was a whole other beast to worry about. She wouldn’t stand a chance in hell with a predator like that. He would climb right up the olive tree in pursuit of her and she wouldn’t have much to say in her defense; I shudder at the thought.

I thought it was very impressive to see this cat in my yard, but Michael on the other hand did the right thing by making his presence unwelcome. Callie will have to tolerate us being a little more attentive again. She may not know what is best for her in order to stay alive out here in the wilderness, but we sure do.

The Mohave Indigo Bush

On our bike ride this morning to Coyote Canyon, I did a double take and switched back in order to admire this lone bush filled with beautiful indigo colored blossoms. This is the Mojave Indigo Bush and it was absolutely loaded with flowers and the wild desert honey bees were swarming all over it and having the time of their lives. The buzz was deafening and I respectively took photographs while giving them enough space to do their work.

It is difficult to believe that this wild bush that had received so little rainfall could produce such an abundance of flowers. The color can range from pale blue to the deep, purple indigo blue that this bush sported. It made my bike ride extra special and because it was so windy out due to the thunderstorms in the surrounding mountains, I was a little surprised to capture some of the bees attempting to harvest pollen. When you look closely at wild bees, their pollen sacks are the color of whatever flower they have come into contact with. When I lived in Redlands, California, the bees would have brilliant, golden orange sacks laden with pollen because of the citrus trees.

A Crown Jewel

Michael and I biked close to 20 miles today! That means we probably biked 19, but 20 sounds more impressive and who’s counting! It is starting to heat up in Anza- Borrego Desert State Park, but if you get out the door around 7 am and return by 10:30, you will miss most of the intense heat.

We biked up to Di Giorgio and over to Coyote Canyon, took Henderson Canyon to the starting point of the state park, over to Seley Ranch- the ruby red grapefruit farm, back to Di Giorgio and south to the Locust and Scorpion sculptures, returning to the Dragon Sculpture and around the De Anza Country Club Golf Course.

During our bike ride we saw at least 3 different coyotes hunting, numerous cottontails, kestrels, roadrunners, a jackrabbit, common grackles, quail, and doves. It is the tail end of spring and everything is trying to eat or not be eaten before summer settles in with a vengeance. When I watch the cottontails enjoying a moments respite in the bright sunshine, all I can think of is being here and now; they are a good meal source for many of the predators. Watching a bobcat chase one down, only to abort the hunt because we came along on our bikes, this particular bunny was saved to appreciate one more day. As we rounded the bend on the last leg of our journey, I spotted these bright yellow cactus blooms, a crown jewel to me, and the desert willow, which smells just like fresh, clean soap and were covered with wild desert honey bees.

It was beautiful out and now I can start preparing for Lake Cuyamaca as we will try and leave first thing in the morning. There is a thunderstorm predicted for tomorrow and I love storms. It will be windy here, so I am really appreciative that we are heading up to the mountains. Reading about the mountain bikers that were attacked by a male cougar in Eastern Seattle was a little unsettling. I have seen evidence of mountain lions when we bike in Cuyamaca and know that if I were to come into contact with one of these majestic predators, I would not run. The friend that was killed, took off running when his friend was attacked. The man that was attacked watched as his friend was chased down by the 110-pound cat and was able to bike away himself to call 911.

They tracked the cat down and found him standing over the dead man’s body. The cougar was chased up a tree and then shot. You must make eye contact and do what it takes to fight back. Use your bike as a weapon and start swinging it around. Throw your helmet at it. Scream, shout, anything but run. They have more of a right to be there than we do and if they succeed in attacking someone, they are hunted down themselves and destroyed.

Looking forward to my next adventure, and Callie is more than ready to go. She gets bored hanging around the house and loves to travel. As soon as the motor starts up in the RV, she jumps up on the dash and is ready for action.

Ride ’em Cowgirl

I have been forced to hide Callie’s butt ugly worm toy because she became so addicted to it that she wouldn’t even go outside to climb her beloved olive trees. That was quite a startling revelation for me and I pondered over the thin line between seeking pleasure and it becoming an addiction. I have Bipolar Disorder, so I have to always be aware of being too attached to something, anything, everything. Balance and moderation with a good dose of routine, exercise and healthy eating habits is the key for me.

When Callie sat over her worm toy and only wanted me to play THAT game with her, I had to put it away and find other fun things for her to enjoy! Ride ’em cowgirl is her new fun and favorite thing, but it doesn’t consume her every waking hour like the worm did. She jumps up on my old leather reclining chair and sweetly looks up at me and invites me to get behind it and literally rock it back and forth aggressively so that she can ride her bucking bronco. She holds on for dear life as I tumble her back and forth. What a funny one she is. I have to make sure that there is balance in her life though. Climbing trees, going on walks, riding in her bike basket and being the queen of the RV dash is the variety that keeps her stimulated and engaged, but healthy and happy too!

We leave for Lake Cuyamaca on Monday and the fun will begin again for her and for us. We all go a little crazy out here in the middle of nowhere after a while, even if it is beautiful Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Off-road biking and hiking the beautiful trails of this gorgeous country park will be restorative and exciting. Callie hates being bored and hanging out in this house for too long drives her crazy. I can relate!