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.

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!

Now Until the Rains Come

The Peninsular Bighorn Sheep of the De Anza Country Golf Course will be making their way down from the highlands to the green of our country club until the rains come and new, native plant growth, occurs. They have no other choice but to search out food to eat for about one more month on the desert valley floor.

The dominant ewe has learned to take the herd down to eat every day around 10:00 in the morning. It is fascinating to watch them descend so rapidly and straight down the sheer rock cliffs, that they sometimes outrun the falling rocks that are dispersed as they jump. Today it took an agonizingly long time for three young males to get up enough nerve to cross the street, only to be frightened back up a third of the way in seconds flat. They are incredibly fast and agile, and almost silent on thickly padded hooves.

Once they feel safe enough on the golf course, the herd of about 30 sheep, settle down to graze for several hours before ascending back up to the top of the hillside where they remain until tomorrow. The sheep do a fair amount of damage to people’s landscaping, and especially to the barrel cactus, but most of us are happy to pay such a small price so that these native species of bighorn can make it through until the winter rains return.

An Update on Callie 

Callie and I went to see Dr Laporte in Poway, on Wednesday afternoon, and after a culture and sensitivity, X- ray and examination, he sent us home without an antibiotic until the culture grows, so that he can determine what we are up against. 

It is now Saturday, and of course the 4th of July weekend, and the pharmacy is closed until Monday. Callie’s cough has turned into a wretched wheeze and she is worsening by the day. I had to drive over to the middle of the De Anza Golf Course to pick up a signal with the phone, and I called up the Poway office and told them I needed to get Callie on an antibiotic today. Michael has some Cipro at the house and after some discussion on my part, they did the research and determined that it would be ok to give it to her.

Michael, being a retired podiatrist, measured out the dosage after grinding up the pills, and we divided it up and put one dose in a small amount (1cc) of half and half and loaded up the syringe. Michael then went and got her and I wrapped her up in a towel and administered the medicine. Wow did we get a reaction! She lurched out of my arms and foamed at the mouth and attempted to run and hide under the bed. We had to drag her back out in full protest, to give her a little bit more because she had gagged some of it out. Poor little thing. It has been a rough road for her. She has been sick on and off since the beginning of March.

She is resting comfortably now, and we will know in 24 hours whether it is helping her. We only have until Monday, and then the culture should be able to be read. If she is showing improvement, we will keep her on the vile tasting Cipro. It is hard on the kidneys so you can only use this antibiotic sparingly. Thank goodness for the discovery of antibiotics. She would probably be dead by now if she wasn’t under medical care.

Callie is exhausted and sleeping in her favorite bed, and it is quiet out except for the roar of the swamp cooler that is blasting out cool air. At least she is safe and sound and well looked after here at the house. She can sleep uninterrupted for hours at a time and try to get well. I make sure to check on her without disturbing her often. I hope this does the trick. I give Callie credit for my attempts at writing and starting this blog. If it weren’t for her, I don’t think traveling around in the RV would be nearly as much fun…….

How to get a Cat to Sleep at Night

It has been cold and windy in the desert and when the weather is not conducive to playing outdoors, Callie is forced to stay inside and she becomes restless. When this happens, I have to get creative and come up with activities that will engage her so she doesn’t keep me up all night. Going on a car ride around De Anza Desert Golf Course is just what the doctor ordered, so we loaded her up and off we went at a blazing speed of 10 miles per hour. She was able to hang out the window the entire ride and loved every minute of it. There was no one around and no cars behind us so we never sped up and she got the ride of a lifetime. Callie loves to sit in my lap and stand up on occasion and drop both front paws over the window. I hold onto the leash and harness and she puts her weight on one leg and then the other in a cute little happy dance of joy. I love driving in the car with her because she is so enthralled with the sights and sounds that pass her by and it makes you feel happy for her. Michael is kind enough to be our chauffeur and indulges both Callie and me so that I can take photographs of her. It took us 40 minutes to drive around the entire course and she was very tired when we got home. She has been sleeping ever since… 

A Walk on the Wild Side

Callie and I are enjoying a quiet day after too much adventure yesterday. The storm has subsided and it is sunny and calm outside. After sweeping up from the debris of the storm, Callie and I decided to go for a walk over to the De Anza Country Club Golf Course and soak up some sunshine. She is becoming very comfortable on the leash and harness and we are able to go for quite the distance before she quits. She has to roll frequently and smell often and of course, sharpen her claws on the huge eucalyptus tree at the golf course green. On our way back home she decided to climb the wooden, big horn sheep statue that resides across the street from the house. Callie looked like a miniature mountain lion and you could tell that she felt proud of herself while taking a walk on the wild side of life. Nothing beats a nice stroll on a beautiful day… I am tired from travel and feel a little bit jet lagged. This was a nice break in the day.

How to Teach a Cat to Ride a Bike!

Now, you may very well ask that question, how DO you teach a cat to ride a bike? The answer to that question, is that you can’t. And to put it more bluntly, how can you teach a cat to go on a bike ride with you?  Dogs, you can teach, but cats need to be asked if they are willing to try something new. In the case of Callie, I first introduced her to a backpack and taught her how to enjoy walking around with me in the safety of the house. She wasn’t exactly thrilled with this new activity but she was game to the experience. Callie and I have a wonderful relationship and for the most part she trusts me and accepts that I am the boss. I placed a rolled up towel at the base of the backpack so that she could stand up in the pack and put her front paws on my shoulders. I also have a harness that I clip onto the backpack just in case we have a disagreement on whether she wants to stick around or not. Once she got use to walking around the house, I was able to graduate her to the bike. She took to the bike like a duck to water and from the very beginning, I knew I had her trust and the rest was easy. She loves riding around the De Anza Golf Course and checking out the birds and sometimes, bighorn sheep, coyotes and butterflies. It is especially thrilling to sneak up on the common grackle, which will explode in a flurry of feathers and noisy shrieks when we get too close. Riding over a puddle makes her flinch, but the only thing that truly frightens her are loud noises from trucks. If a truck roars up behind us, she dives down into the backpack like a turtle pulling its head back into the shell. As soon as the truck has passed, she pops her head back up and leans into the wind. It is a wonderful way to take in the sites and Callie likes this almost as much as riding in the car. When she has had enough, she licks my ear, and homeward bound we go.