Celebrating “What” Exactly!

Donald Trump’s, in your face display of fascism and division on sacred native Indian land at Mount Rushmore left me feeling horrified and saddened with the disgusting turn our country has taken with this presidency. It has brought out a side of humanity that I had hoped was buried for good and for all after Hitler died. But no, there is an element of nationalistic fervor still brewing amongst my fellow American citizens. If at this point, my post is offensive to any of you readers, go away, we have nothing in common and you aren’t welcome here anymore.

Callie had a tummy ache again after we finished a 10 mile bike ride yesterday along the many miles of closed beaches of Pacific Grove. She rushed over to me as soon as I stepped up into the RV and did her classic, demonic chew that expresses hunger and/or discomfort and promptly threw up several times. There is nothing less fun than a cat throwing up in the small confines of an RV. I quickly remove all of the rugs and roll them up because that is her preferred choice to barf on and I also stop feeding her even when she goes into overdrive about telling me she is very unhappy. She thinks she is hungry and pats me constantly and chews and this will go on throughout the entire night. Fortunately for me, at 1 am when Michael chose to come up to bed, we were able to feed her a small amount and she slept well, and so did I for that matter, for the rest of the night.

This morning she and I both got up nice and early and I turned the heater on for her and we are having a pleasant enough dawn while I have a cup of coffee and appreciate my health and her much improved health. The fairgrounds are celebrating the 4th of July with fair food and I walked over and picked up funnel cake and kettle corn yesterday that people could drive through to pick up (you weren’t supposed to get out of your car) but I had walked over from the campgrounds, so I was an exception to the rule. The fairgrounds would normally be humming with hundreds of people going on thrill rides, checking out display booths of all kinds and celebrating our independence with fireworks at the end of the evening. This has all come to a grinding halt again because of COVID-19. The virus did not go away like a miracle and infection rates seemed to have spiked and actually have accelerated since opening the country back up too soon and it is another example of the retched incompetence of this monster in the White House.

Biking along the coastline, all the beaches have been closed in anticipation of large crowds and it is forcing people to keep social distance and masks are required for everyone. Wearing a mask while biking is difficult and my mask kept fogging up. I apparently don’t have it snug enough around the nose and under my eyes. So today could have been a celebration of all the hard work of those of us who have sheltered in place since March, instead of the horror show playing out all across the county now. The economy will only recover if we help those in need by paying people to stay at home and to distance ourselves from one another until a vaccine has been discovered. Stay safe everyone and do your part to help heal this country. The hospitals and health care workers need our participation so that the ICU beds don’t reach full capacity as they are doing now in Texas and Florida. We will happily do the same in our 24ft Class C RV. Happy 4th of July.

Morro Bay Heron Rookery

I have made a new friend at the Heron Rookery and it is a Black-Crowned Night Heron. He is quite comfortable around me and as long as I don’t intrude on his space, he poses so elegantly and goes about the business of hunting and standing on his perch without fear. Night Herons are notoriously shy, so I feel quite amazed that he is as tolerant of me as he is. I am reminded of my relationship with Sweet Pea, a Costa’s Hummingbird that I have known for years in the desert. I get up early most mornings and head over to the rookery or the marina for a couple of hours of photography, and then I return to the RV for photo editing while Michael focuses on his research papers. We both enjoy life in our cozy 24ft RV and the setting is conducive to uninterrupted quality time to focus on our passions that we work on side by side for hours at a time.

Morro Bay has managed to coexist with wildlife and it is rather unique if you ask me. Many of the eucalyptus trees that line Main Street are filled with Black-Crowned Night Herons, and to turn the other cheek when it comes to the massive amounts of bird poop that falls below is the exception to the rule. When you park your car here, if you see a white discoloration all over the sidewalk, find another space to park your car or you will have poop on it too. Most cities would find a way to scare the birds away in favor of people, and it does my heart good to see the tables turned with animal nesting sites instead of the other way around. We have encroached so much on wildlife habitat that they have been forced to nest within city limits, but a balanced approach is necessary. The herons are very messy, so I do hope that they don’t over stay their welcome and force the city to evict them.

Michael and I also bike over to a look-out south of Morro Bay towards Cayucos every day for exercise and Callie is back walking on a leash because she became too bold when left to her own devices. She has rough and tumble playtime every day and her asthma is controlled again with a chicken-free diet and prednisone cream that is applied to the inner ear flap. We will be here until the end of the month and head north to Monterey for a month after that.

Happy Father’s Day to all the men out there who have raised or who are raising children. It can be a difficult but rewarding job, and a very important one too. Our society seems to be tearing apart at the seams, but hopefully we can vote Trump out of office and bring civility back to the United States. Vote Blue in November as if your life depends on it.

Believe in the Black Lives Matter movement; racism needs to be addressed and stamped out once and for all. BLACK LIVES MATTER!

Great Blue Heron
Heron Rookery
Great Egret siblings battling out dominance
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Great Blue Heron
My friend!
Black-Crowned Night Heron
A room with a view!
A game of cat and mouse!
Sweet Pea
Morro Bay lookout!

In the Doghouse!

I am shocked to inform my readers that Callie was brave enough to walk clear across to the other side of the RV Park and was sitting under a parked car in the street when a good neighbor by the name of Kathy recognized her and shooed her back home. Needless to say, Callie has lost her privileges to run free and must now be walked on a leash again. It was fun while it lasted and I am grateful she was discovered before something tragic happened to her. Cats are notorious for getting into trouble and Callie is no different. She is pretty street savvy though from her early years in Redlands. California, but I am not taking any more chances.

On another happy note, the photography opportunities have been awesome here in Morro Bay and just about every day I have managed to capture a baby Sea Otter and it’s mother, Osprey, Snowy Egrets, Black-Crowned Night Herons, Great Herons and Great Blue Herons, Red Shouldered Hawks, and many more. I feel very fortunate to be able to stay here for 3 more weeks because of how well the wildlife coexists with humans. We head to Monterey July 1st.

Full Moon setting behind Morro Bay Rock, an extinct volcano plug.

CBD Oil and Asthma in Cats

Callie developed heart-wrenching asthma several years ago, and to watch her wheeze and try to clear her lungs enough to suck inadequate oxygen pulls at my heartstrings. She will be having a wonderful time wrestling with me and will roll over playfully, only to have to sit up violently to cough. Brushing her right away seems to calm her, but the coughing fits are coming more often and taking lo her to subside. When she was finally diagnosed with asthma after 6 months of antibiotics from another incompetent vet, Dr. Stephens in Morro Bay put her on prednisolone cream that is applied to the ear flap and causes Callie very little stress when administering it.

But now that we aren’t going to Morro Bay as much, we have had to change vets and have a lovely vet named Sandy, at Encinitas Village. Unfortunately for us, we ran out of the cream quite some time ago and are waiting for a delivery that will arrive on Monday. She first prescribed prednisone orally, and that did nothing for her cough, so we got creative and chose to purchase some CBD oil from a local dispensary. The olive oil-based CBD oil is dropped into soft food and the usually very picky Callie laps it up like it is the best-tasting food she has ever tasted.

The results have been pretty conclusive and her cough is down by 75% and she appears relaxed and happy. The only downside that I can see, is an increase in her appetite and gum disease by eating soft food. I resist the temptation to feed her canned and only feed her dry kibble once I have given her the medicine, but Callie’s preference for gummy canned food is going to be a challenge. When we first rescued her as a 3-year-old, she already had advanced gum disease and we had to schedule her for teeth cleaning. Her gums really improved and she hasn’t had any oral issues ever since. I can already smell her bad breath again though and will have to be very careful.

We pick up the prednisolone cream tomorrow on our way to Las Vegas and will be staying at the Thousand Trails Campground for the first time. This summer we became members and now we can stay for free in any of the campgrounds that are in California and Nevada, Washington and Oregon. What a great deal! We are very excited to see our daughter again and I hope to do some landscape photography at Valley of Fire, Snow Valley, and Zion. Once I have the cream for her ear I won’t have to give her the CBD oil as much for asthma but will be using it for separation anxiety that makes her throw up, and that is another story altogether!

Happy Holidays to all of my beloved readers. I hope that you have recovered from Thanksgiving and can move on to Christmas and Hanukkah and whatever it is that gives your heart joy and causes you to reflect on your life and all that you should be grateful for. I am so grateful for having rescued Callie. She has become my muse and contributes so much to my life and the adventures I am having traveling in the RV with my wonderful husband of 41 years.

A Hitch in her Giddy-Up

Callie has been given the somewhat grave responsibility of being able to explore her surroundings outside free and unattended while staying at Cypress RV Park in Morro Bay, California. I realize that many people believe that cats should not be allowed to run free outside because of the danger they pose to themselves and to wildlife, and I totally get it, but I do let Callie roam a bit while parked in a safe and enclosed RV Park that she is familiar with, and I keep the door and a window open and check on her frequently. She usually stays within sight of the RV and if I don’t see her after a short time, I whistle and she comes running.

The other day I was aware that she had been gone for a while so I went out and checked on her and whistled and whistled and she was nowhere to be found. I stood outside and whistled some more and finally, she darted out from a parked truck one site over and she was being chased by a noisy cowbird that was swooping down and pecking at her as she ran as fast as she could toward me. Callie had to run across loose, medium size gravel and an old shoulder injury made it difficult for her to get to me fast enough. As she limped along at a pathetic lope, and with the bird hot on her tail, the term, “a hitch in her giddy-up” came to mind. No wonder she hadn’t come back home any earlier, she needed me to protect her from the bird that was harassing her and she was waiting for my back-up before she headed back to the safety of the RV.

It was quite the hilarious scene witnessing her being tormented by a bird and I think she viewed the whole experience with a mixture of fear and trepidation. Her desire to go exploring seems to have faded because now she parks her rear end next to the picnic table in our site and keeps a wary eye out for those pesky birds.

Chilling in the RV

Sheltering in Place

We have finally escaped the desert heat once again and this time because of COVID-19, we are sheltering in place in Morro Bay. Cypress RV Park had accepted our reservation before the pandemic hit and honored it as long as we stayed put for a couple of months. The public restroom facilities are all closed up and we are fully contained in our CLASS C RV and only go out for bike rides, photo opportunities, and grocery shopping.

Callie has been given permission to explore freely outside for short periods of time because we are nestled way far back in the park with no one next to us. The streets that border the park are quiet and there are very few cars. She is having a blast and loves sitting out in the sun with a cool marine breeze washing over her.

I have been taking lots of sea otter photos and the bird life here is especially rewarding. There is a female Peregrine Falcon named Sierra that has 3 chicks high up on Morro Rock and Great Blue Herons and Snowy Egrets are everywhere. I even captured a Common Loon that looks like it has bright white polka dots on his back feathers.

The virus crisis is far from over, and the lack of testing while opening up the country is a foolish and irresponsible move. I can only hope that most of you readers follow the science and support our first responders and health care workers by continuing to social distance yourself and wear a mask while inside buildings. Stay safe and healthy everyone. We will be enjoying Morro Bay for at least several months and I look forward to sharing lots of photos with you.

Common Loon
Mother otter and pup
Snowy Egrets
Great Blue Heron
Morro Bay
A mother otter trying to rest with a rambunctious pup.
Big Sur
My little helper!

Nature is Thriving

The coronavirus is affecting humanity in a way that has not been seen before in my lifetime. It is a humbling experience to think of a tiny virus, a microscopic blob of RNA, can kill one person within weeks and leave another one with mild symptoms. None of us knows whether they will be one of the lucky ones and live to tell the tale. Those of us who are hiding out in our homes and behaving responsibly are sheltering in place and practicing social distancing while watching the numbers of deaths go up at an alarming rate. And until a vaccine is discovered, we will all be vulnerable to catching this virus and possibly dying from it. There is no place that is safe anymore.

I am spending my days exploring the backyard with my camera in hand and the wildlife is thriving and actually doing better without all of the people around. The birds are singing with less interruptions, and my neighbor down the street even had a wild turkey hen visit her backyard. Sweet Pea, the dominant male, Costa’s Hummingbird rules his territory with lots of spunk and plenty of girlfriends, and I had a Phainopepla, a rare blackbird with red eyes that usually only lives in Agua Caliente, visit the other day. He must have blown in with the fierce winds that have rattled the blooming ocotillo that then scatter seeds and pollen everywhere across the sand. Hooded and Bullock’s Orioles arrive to raise their young and the bright golden yellow of their feathers is startling to see after the faded and washed-out colors of the windblown brittlebush have all but disappeared. A Belted Kingfisher suddenly showed up one day and announced his arrival with a comical cackle that pierces the silence when he dives down into the murky water from a tree limb that hangs outstretched over the shoreline. He quickly disappears under the surface with a splash and effortlessly catches a fish and flies straight back up to the same branch he left just seconds ago with a tiny fish wriggling in his strong beak. The graceful Great Egret soars across the surface of the water silently on huge outstretched wings and settles down on the safety of a rock for the evening in the company of noisy frogs croaking loudly in the fading light.

Callie is doing marvelous and has a brand new passion. Every evening a family of some kind of desert mouse comes out from their daytime burrow and zips along the outside of the sliding door of the entertainment room in search of a meal. She waits with heightened anticipation and excitement at dusk and just about the same time every day she chases them along the glass barrier until they disappear into the night. They seem to know that she can’t hurt them because they stop and stare at her which drives her absolutely insane. Her tail jerks spasmodically as she chirps to herself in frustration at not being able to catch her prey. The bats won’t arrive again in huge numbers until the summer months, so thank goodness there is a new game in town for her to enjoy.

I hope that all of you are staying safe and healthy and learning to cope with your newfound reality. If you are reading this blog post, surely you have a blog of your own and have a creative outlet to explore. I can’t imagine not having something to do that gives you joy during these difficult times. Thank you again for taking the time to read my adventures with Callie blog. I am hoping we can hit the road again soon.

The Pond
Sweet Pea
Sweet Pea’s Mate
Costa’s Hummingbird with Aloe Vera Blossom
Costa’s Hummingbird with Ocotillo
Belted Kingfisher
Hooded Oriole
Bullock’s Oriole
Great Egret
Mallard Duck
Callie on her walk!
Waiting for the mice to come out to play.

Self-isolation

In response to the Coronavirus, and because Michael is over 70 and especially vulnerable to lung infections, we packed up and headed to the desert to try and ride out the worst of the pandemic. Fortunately for me, I love to read and write and go out and shoot photographs. I am so fortunate that I bought several weeks’ worth of groceries and stocked up on one, 12-pack of toilet paper. Shame on anyone who took more than their fair share. We must all try and work together as a society and look out for the elderly and those that are all alone. I have two neighbors on the same street that share my passion for photography and we are here to show support of one another if needed.

Callie is doing very well and is self-isolating too. I pulled out her old Kong bed that she used to stomp on and collapse the roof before sleeping on top of the bed instead of inside. She has aged considerably and mellowed out since the last time she saw the bed because now she really loves curling up inside to take her naps. It won’t be long before she jumps back up on the roof though.

I can only hope that most of you are doing the best that you can under these trying circumstances. The more we choose social distancing, the quicker we will get a handle on this virus and a vaccine will possibly be developed. Stay well my friends.

If the Box Fits

What is it about cats and boxes; it is a universal trait and even big cats like tigers and mountain lions will crawl up into a box if they come across one. Callie is no different, and when a wonderful neighbor dropped off some goodies for me and after I had unpacked the sourdough bread and strawberries and placed the empty box on the floor, she didn’t hesitate to claim it as her own. The box was just a tad bit too small though, but that didn’t seem to discourage her as she curled up extra tight in order to fit and sighed deeply while closing both eyes and settling down for a nice long catnap.

Time to stretch out and get petted!

Bloom Where You’re Planted

“Bloom where you’re planted” was a favorite piece of advice that my mother would tell her 7 daughters and one son. It is a phrase I remind myself of frequently. One must always strive to do the best that you can under any given situation.

Living in the desert with March right around the corner, the creosote and brittle bush are in full swing and the scent of flowers is everywhere. The mimosa tree will stop you in your tracks if you get within 30ft of it. All the plants in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are offering up their pollen and nectar to insects and birds and the desert is alive with chirps and buzzes and brilliant flashes of gold and orange colors.

Callie is doing very well and we have found the right medications for her asthma. She is less stressed with the CBD oil and the prednisolone cream that is applied to her inner ear flap has lessened her coughing spells.

I finished a painting of a bighorn ram that I have titled “Size Matters” for a flora and fauna show at the Borrego Art Institute, and if it is accepted, I will have put my toe in the door for exhibiting again. Bloom where you’re planted, has been achieved.

Waiting for birds to arrive
Out on her walk
Chuparosa and Costa’s Hummingbird
Female Costa’s Hummingbird
Chuparosa
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Sweet Pea
Costa’s Hummingbird and Creosote
Verdin on Brittle Bush
Carpenter Bee
Verdin on Ocotillo Blossom
Desert Bee and Brittle Bush
Sweet Pea
Size Matters