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
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

Riviera Mobile Home and RV Park

When we headed down from Whitney Portal so that I could find a place to park the RV while I waited for my eye surgery and the removal of a Pterigium, we decided to wing it and just hope for the best as we got closer to Encinitas. Well as luck and good fortune would have it, Steve from the Riviera Park returned my call when I left a message, but only to tell me that there was a strict “no” pet law enforced and that I should call Oceanside RV Park. When I tried calling repeatedly, the line was busy, so I called back and told Steve I would jokingly flush Callie down the toilet! He was appalled by that and reassured me that he would work something out and to try and get there before dark because that too was an issue as the office closed at 6 and we were still in Murietta.

Well, it all worked out and Steve found us a place in the Mobile Home section where animals are allowed and we were able to make it to the surgery the day after and the surgery went better than expected and Callie did NOT need to be flushed down the toilet! We used Uber to get back and forth from the Morris Eye Clinic and the surgical center below and everything worked out better than planned. The surgery was a success, Callie had a blast walking around the facility on a leash and taunting all the dogs, and we bonded with Steve and will be going back again on Thursday for follow up care and for Michael to be scheduled for cataract surgery. Getting older is the pits, I also have to have a neurological exam for an old back injury that is causing numbness in my feet. At least we have good medical care, and we now have a super awesome place to park the RV at while we seek treatment.

It was a little more than sad to walk past the bench that I was sitting on when I heard of my good friend, Dolly’s death, but life goes on and I am glad she isn’t suffering anymore. I got to see another good friend, Nancy who goes way, way back and Michael has Fred and Robert that live in the area too! It will also be wonderful to get out of the heat again. It was 120 degrees in the desert today and it puts such a strain on living in Borrego Springs in the summer. We will get laundry done, check on mail and the house and will try to pack up and head out again either tomorrow or Thursday morning.

I was able to get my hair cut and colored and do a little grocery shopping and Michael did most of the laundry while I was gone. I needed to offer Callie ice water and try to keep her cool because only one of the air conditioner’s is working. It was 96 degrees last night in the house, but at least tonight it is only 87. Still really hot though.

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.

Gone with the Wind

Summer temperatures are upon us and it shall soon be time to hit the road in our RV and be gone with the wind. Biking over to Henderson Canyon, I reminisced about the super-bloom and how Anza-Borrego Desert State Park was covered with wildflowers. It amazes me to look out over the sand dunes now and see how the wind has shaped the environment and patterned the sand with ripples and waves. If you look closely, you can see the tracks of small animals going about their nightly business of searching for something to eat while not being eaten in return. The study of animal tracks has always fascinated me.

I happened to bike past a plain looking cactus that had somehow managed to create an obscenely beautiful flower and was thankful for the opportunity to photograph it before it too would be gone with the wind. The gnats and bees were frantically hovering over it because it was the only show in town. The citrus is flowering too, but this blossom was an opening act of high billing and in a league all of its own!

As I continued down Henderson Canyon Road, I happened to look up to see that a hawk was perched on a telephone wire over by Seley Ranch, the famous Organic Ruby Red Grapefruit farm. When I biked too close, it flapped it’s mighty wings and soared over the giant tamarisk hedge that is used as a windbreak for the fragile citrus. Neither trees are native to the area and require special care so that they can survive. I finished the bike ride with a stopover to take a picture of the Kneeling Camel by Ricardo Breceda. I am so appreciative that the wind is gone, but in its place is the rise of temperature. This beautiful desert will soon heat up and be in the high 90’s all of next week. The temperature in summer can exceed 123 degrees. I joke that birds flying overhead, drop from the sky fully roasted when it gets that hot! Summer is almost here, and we too, Callie and Michael and me, shall be gone with the wind.

Bone Dry

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park received scant rainfall this year, but two years before that we experienced the super-bloom. It just amazes me to no end how the flora and fauna of desert life survive in such extremes. I hear the pack of coyotes most evenings and once again at dawn as they howl and yip their joy at being reunited once again after a long night, the big horn sheep that come down to the golf course to drink and graze on the grass have moved back up to higher ground, my cheeky roadrunner will stop and look Callie right in the eye if she happens to be outside while he is making his rounds, the Anna’s hummingbird dips and dives and attacks any other bird that comes into the yard, the mockingbird that Callie almost killed when we first moved here is still singing up quite a storm, and I could go on and on.

I biked today around the De Anza Golf Course and took photographs of every bloom I came across. The ocotillo have thrust out their bright orange/red blossoms even if there are only a few pathetic leaves on the stalks, the scrubby creosote have white, puffy blooms that look like cotton balls before they turn a pretty yellow, there is scarce purple desert verbena in small patches, cactus of all kind including a saguaro which is not native to this desert has gorgeous white blossoms on its tall, slender sides that bats, moths, and hummingbirds find irresistible, beaver tail, cholla and yucca throw everything they have left into desperate, ornate flowers, but the plant that gets first prize for putting on the most dramatic and dazzling display this season, is the hardy and thorny, acacia tree.

As I stepped up to each tree cautiously in order to take a photograph, the deafening buzz of thousands of wild, desert, honeybees filled the air as they covered the tree and left me in awe at just how much nature depends on these industrious pollinators. The hardy, wild bees that live in the desert year round are much smaller and darker than their European cousins, and I marvel at how they can survive in the long, hot, summer months? They are also much more aggressive and protective, so you do have to be careful when getting too close to them. So everywhere I looked today, I could see the bright, golden yellow blooms that completely covered the acacia trees dominating the arid landscape. It is a welcoming sight for an otherwise bone-dry desert, with little else that was native, even remotely green as far as the eye could see.

Oh, and did I mention the intoxicating scent of the acacia along with the well watered and pampered, grapefruit and orange blossoms of the farmers groves that are grown here locally? These farmers can tap into the ground water in Borrego Springs for free and use up all the water that they need! That is another story to be told, but the Ruby Red’s, Navels and Valencia’s, plus the seedless Cuties that everyone loves to eat are offered here at local stands and shipped out everywhere.

Callie has been very happy and healthy ever since she was diagnosed with asthma and is also on a special diet for her itchy ears. She loves dashing up the olive tree in the morning and then sleeping the day away, high up on her loft bed. The heat hasn’t arrived in all its vengeance yet, so it is still a hospitable place in which to live. In another month or so we will have to make our great escape with Pipsqueak, our 24 ft Class C RV, in search of cooler ground.

A Cat up a Tree

Callie has been stuck inside all day because of the strong winds blowing across the desert this morning that lasted until dusk. Lara tried taking her outside in the middle of the afternoon, but she didn’t make it past the doormat before she aborted her claim to the great outdoors and scurried back inside with her ears blowing sideways and her tail wrapping itself around her head. We get a lot of wind here in Anza- Borrego Desert State Park, that and a lot of sand that is carried along by the wind in clouds of sand called: sandstorms.

Right about the time that the sun is slipping behind the San Ysidro Foothills, the wind does seem to die down and I was able to successfully encourage Callie to climb up one of her beloved olive trees and check out the unique cloud formations in the sky. I love how unusual the clouds appear as they are blown every which way, high above the desert floor once they have made it up and over the Santa Rosa Mountain Range.

Callie climbed her trees and had some fun before she was blown back inside once again along with the swirling bougainvillea and oleander blossoms. Tomorrow should be a little calmer and maybe I will be able to take Callie out for a walk along the De Anza Golf Course.

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.