Callie’s Troubles are Behind Her

Michael, Lara, Fred, Callie and I all pulled out of Borrego Springs this morning at 7:30 am and made it to Morro Bay by 4:30 pm. I drove ”Pipsqueak” and Fred drove his Minnie Winnie. Michael hung out with his best friend Fred and the girls all traveled together separately. As soon as we made it up Montezuma Grade, I had two truck drivers motion me over. I assumed it was because I was going too slow up the pass, but it was actually the bike rack that had slipped down with the extension arm, and Lara’s bike was actually dangling and the only thing holding her bike on, was a bungee cord.

I pulled over to the side of the road and Lara and I were able to secure the bar back up into place and get her bike back on the bike rack. It could have turned out really bad and we were so fortunate that kind and attentive truckers alerted us to the problem. Michael and Fred were ahead of us and because of bad phone service, they didn’t even know we were having difficulties.

The two of them finally came back to us and Michael helped me attach the bike even better and with more security. Apparently, the extension arm wasn’t locked into place. I am not placing blame on anyone, but it wasn’t me that loaded up the bikes!:) When we were finished, I looked up and over at a pasture full of cows in the heavy mist, and I happened to see a beautiful and very unusual white rainbow or a sun halo, so I quickly took a photograph and away we went. If we hadn’t stopped, I wouldn’t have seen this strange phenomenon!

Callie hopped up on the dash right away and she takes her job of Dash Queen Cat quite seriously. Once I start the engine, she leaps up and settles into her spot. She gets all in a huff if we start without her. Callie was obviously exhausted because she slept the whole way up the coast. I don’t think she will be spending too much time worrying about whether Romeo is making an appearance anytime soon. She has much better things to do now and places to see!

The Greatest Show on Earth

There are a lot of beautiful places on earth, but for now, I am in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and my very own “Mount Illuminous” lit up with molten gold this morning. Every sunrise is unique, but after a rainstorm, the desert visibly responds to the moisture and the air is permeated with the intoxicating scent of negative ions, sage, creosote, and flowers. It is so fresh and alive outside, that you can’t help but skip and dance and throw your arms up into the sky with joy and appreciation. The desert depends so heavily on what scant rainfall that does drop from the clouds, every living creature, plant, and animal, rejoices after a storm that provides rain.

The coyotes were yipping and howling last night once the wind finally subsided and it makes sense to me that the party starts when they reunite with the fast-growing pups. I used to think they began their chorus after a successful hunt and kill, but I now believe that it is just the adult coyotes returning to the younger members of the pack. I suppose it could be both, but it doesn’t really make much sense to howl after a cottontail or jackrabbit is caught because they would be busy devouring it. Coyotes actually hunt more insects and date palm dates that require little effort, than expending so much energy running down a bunny. You rarely see fur in their scat.

So this morning dawned as the greatest show on earth for me today. It is beautiful outside and the desert will reach 80 degrees today. We leave tomorrow for our RV trip up north so I probably won’t be entering as many blog posts for a couple of weeks. Time to be in the moment and enjoy the great outdoors. Writing has helped me so much while living in the middle of nowhere, and I am so grateful to my readers for following my blog posts. It helps me feel a little less isolated and to also appreciate the unique environment that I am currently living in.

Callie, of course, ran up her beloved olive tree and surveyed her domain with regal curiosity. She seems to be getting over her love affair with the absent Romeo. The suitcases have come out, and she knows what that means. She loves being Queen of the dash and RVing.

We Got Rain!

Another storm has been drenching Los Angeles, and we are actually getting light rainfall too in the desert. It has been a very dry winter so far and there aren’t many wildflowers blooming, but it is still a welcome relief and very much appreciated.

Callie loves it when a storm front moves in and you can tell the smells are intoxicating to her. She sits primly on the pool deck and wiggles her nose in search of scents riding on the wind. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is always buffeted by wind before any rainfall is received and this storm was no exception. The wind roared last night as it pulled the storm up and over the barrier of the mountains.

The rain finally came around 5:00 pm and while not much of a drenching, it is still so dramatic with the dark and ominous clouds and lighting. It was also much cooler today. I just finished listening to the chorus of coyotes yipping and howling behind the house. The Coyotes love a storm too!

The Stories just Write Themselves

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t take at least a couple of photographs of poor Callie. Whatever we are doing together, I have my iPhone 7 plus handy and I am always capturing the moment with images of her. I would hate it if someone had the lens turned on me, and Callie sometimes shows great irritation when I have it aimed at her, but for the most part, she is a good sport about it all.

So this afternoon we spent time rescuing wild desert honey bees from the pool and basking under the diffused light of the sun. There is a hazy cloud layer but the temperature is warmer, maybe 82 degrees and the insects are starting to hatch and the gnats which feed the hummingbirds aim for your eyes and nose and ears. They are quite annoying but a necessary part of living in the desert where water has been interjected.

So many wild animals benefit from the water sources of golf courses and the trees and shade that they provide. I for one am not a fan of golf but do appreciate the shade and cover from the sun the park-like setting provides for birds, cottontails, and coyotes, even the bighorn sheep depend on the grass and water before the rains come. There have been times that I am driving at night and I will see an entire pack of coyotes romping along the lush green belt.

Springtime is almost upon us and you can feel it in the air. The days are getting longer and this is probably the best time of year for desert inhabitants. Cactus start to bloom which feed the hummingbirds and pollinators, insects thrive which in turn sustain the flocks of migratory birds and people get to enjoy the mild climate in a paradise setting.

Mount Illuminous

Since my dear friend Dolly has fondly named my beautiful foothill behind the house Mount Illuminous, so shall I with fondness. It is an apt name for such an unremarkable pile of purplish rock and stone, that is sprinkled sparingly with sage, some creosote, and the occasional barrel cactus. This insignificant hillside lights up with illuminated rays from the rising sun, and when the sun is parallel to the foothills, glorious color unfolds every morning that puts on quite a display for anyone wishing to watch.

Today there is another storm blowing through with 20 mph winds and big, puffy, ominous clouds that have not produced any rain. A lot of rain has fallen on Los Angeles, and because California so desperately needs rain, I am happy about that. The sunrise was spectacular though and lit up the hillside like a golden torch. I was even able to spot a tiny diffused rainbow nestled in the canyon, and if you look closely at the last few photographs that I have displayed, you will see it too!

It is not a day for biking or even hiking because the winds are blowing so hard, but it is a day for staying indoors and reading and writing and tucking oneself in under a quilt made by my late mother. A cup of hot chai tea sounds wonderful too! Callie was able to get in one quick roll in the sand before the wind drove her back inside too.

Where’s BatGirl?

I sometimes refer to Callie as ”BatGirl” for obvious reasons. She has this cute little black mask and loves to play pranks and gets quite physical with olive tree climbing and running along the sand with her tummy flattened and pretending that she is invisible.

One of her favorite forms of play is to hide and I seek. She really believes it takes some time for me to figure out where she is and delights in my ineptness. I, of course, being on the constant lookout for her and potential danger out here in the desert, really know exactly where she is most of the time. She can’t run loose outside of the yard and the call of the wild speaks to her now and then, so I have to be super vigilant. Ever since Romeo has made his nightly appearance, she is even more apt to scale the wall in search of love.

So this morning at dawn, we played a rousing game of hide and seek in the backyard while I pretended I couldn’t find her for the longest of time. I can tell that her eyes and ears follow me while I look up the olive trees and behind the oleander bushes all the while calling her name. When I finally spot her, she makes a dash for the house with me chasing close behind. After a delightful romp in the early morning sunshine, she rested by basking on the floor with rainbows flickering where prisms of light reflected multicolored flashes of color along the wall and couch.

She is a wonderful companion animal and is really quite the muse. I used to be a painter but now find painting too draining emotionally. Callie provides a creative outlet that actually fills me up with positive energy and a desire to take photographs and then write about it afterward. I am left feeling refreshed and energized, and Callie is spent and exhausted and ready to rest for the day.

She is still searching for Romeo in the evening, but alas, he did not pay her a visit this morning. Fortunately, I kept her mind off of her troubles by playing ”hide and seek” with her.

In Search of Romeo

Callie was called upon by a tomcat last night, and once it was light enough in the morning for her to go outside and into the backyard safely, I opened up the slider and Callie didn’t even make it past the door jam before she stopped to inhale the scent of Romeo’s calling card. It was intoxicating, to say the least. She then proceeded to check out all of the olive trees, oleander bushes, and the back wall. She knew exactly where he had been. At one time she would have had her hackles up and been totally outraged and indignant, now she seems interested and curious. Nothing like playing hard to get, to turn a feline on like little miss hard to get, Callie. I wonder if her suitor will ever show himself in the light of day?

Callie has a Suitor

I have suspected for several nights now that Callie’s suitor has returned because she disappears in the evening for hours at a time, and after searching for her, I found her under a chair in the master bedroom that has a hollow base to it. She curls up under this chair with her front paws and chin facing the sliding door, and peers out intently into the blackness of the night. When I caught her hiding under there, she got up quickly and sat by the window and kept staring. I can’t let her out at night because of coyotes, so she has no choice but to stare at whatever it is she is looking at but with the glass door as a barrier between her and it. Living in Borrego Springs prevents her from unchaperoned access to the outdoors, and I am not about to let her out after dark when I can’t see a thing.

About a year ago, we had the tuxedo tom, a relatively young black and white, tall and lean, gorgeous male in his prime, strolling through the backyard, meowing as tomcats will do, and Callie would throw herself against the door in outrage as she screamed like a banshee and scared the shit out of me. She has always despised her own species because the boys in particular when we lived at the beach, would take one look at her cute little behind and darling back legs and be totally smitten. They would advance on her aggressively instead of taking it slow and easy, and this would make her very upset. I would have to chase them off when we went out for walks together and she hated the attention.

There is also a ginger tom that has managed to survive as a semi-feral male for at least 4 years now that I know of, and he is squat with a thick neck, is short legged and one tough looking home-boy. I am amazed he is still alive and can only surmise that someone must periodically feed him and provide fresh water. I suppose he has access to all the backyard pools too. But summer temperatures can reach a whopping 124 degrees, and most people leave until the fall, so this is one tough cat. He has managed to avoid becoming a meal to the many coyotes in the area and hunt for himself, so this makes him a hero to me.

Both mark the olive tree and the screen door because Callie reacts by curling her lip and staring out into space with a funny, intent look on her face when she gets a whiff. Living out here in the desert for almost two years now has left her just a little bit lonely, and I think she doesn’t mind their presence as much as she used to. This morning because of the brightness of the moon, I got up at 4 am and while I was sipping coffee and Callie was resting on the stereo that provides warmth for her, we heard the distinctive mournful meows of one of her suitors. I couldn’t see which one it was, but Callie jumped up on the windowsill and stared out into the void, and this time she appreciated the attention.

Now I know why she is secretly going into the back bedroom and staring out into the backyard for hours. She is carrying on a secretive romance with Romeo, and this time because of the glass barrier, he is having to take it nice and slow and easy, just the way she likes it!

Rain in the Desert- Snow in the Mountains

What a magnificent winter storm! Finally, we received rain in the parched desert and snow in the dry and thirsty mountains. There is nothing quite like waking up before the sun rises in order to watch it illuminate the foothills of the San Ysidro Mountains behind my house. I have photographed the same view for several years now and every sunrise is unique. When the sun is just starting to peak above the horizon, it sends radiating, low lying light directly onto the foothills turning them molten, or purple, pink and rose. I never tire of the show that nature puts on and it drives me out of the house at a run in order to capture the scene. I have to jog across the yard and hop along the back wall and after steadying myself, I start shooting photographs. This morning was particularly beautiful and from what I have heard, snow is falling hard in Mount Laguna and the San Bernardino Range. California needs water, so bring it on!

Callie is all snuggled up in the bedroom loft bed that I created for her on the TV hutch. She has to jump up quite high in order to reach her bed and feels safe and warm above it all. She can also look outside at the same view that I have photographed while she listens to coyotes yip and quail click and cluck. Maybe the 4 sister turkeys will pay a visit today too!

Settling Back in to Borrego Springs

Saturday evening, Michael, Lara, Callie and myself pulled into our driveway with the stars twinkling overhead and coyotes yipping and howling in the desert. It is a little unnerving to hear a pack of at least 20 coyotes celebrating the full moon or a kill, or just enjoying an evening under the stars so close to where you are unloading the RV. Callie’s attitude has changed concerning coyotes since she came eye to eye with one in Death Valley earlier in the day. She most definitely knew the difference between a coyote and a dog. Now instead of ignoring their howls, she sits straight up and looks to where they have gathered.

Today is Wednesday and we are all settled in and enjoying the beautiful weather. It is only 80 degrees out and the sunshine is mild and the sky free of clouds. We have taken up biking every day and Callie gets to bask in the sun outside on the patio. She knows she is not allowed to leave the yard and doesn’t question it as long as I am around. Michael says she tries looking for me if I have left to visit my sister though, and he has to be on constant alert to make sure she doesn’t go over the wall. For now, all is well and a nap is in order.