The Mercy of Nature


Super Moon


On Sunday night, Mister and I pulled out the binos to have a look-see at the Super Moon, and it did not disappoint. Even with regular old binoculars, we could see craters galore and what I refer to as the moon’s belly-button. Later that night, I had a little trouble sleeping. I blamed it on the moon.


Monday brought warnings of Santa Anas. Such an innocent-sounding name for such potentially deadly winds. Many of us watched and listened, but the day proceeded with little worry. On Monday night, I again took out the binos and looked in the direction of the moon. Still fantastic, still clear. But the winds were picking up and I could see a haze nearing the moon’s glow. It wasn’t clouds, really. It felt wrong. It was wrong. During the night, I woke to the sounds of the wind and struggled to get even a little sleep. I felt mad at myself, for not being able to rest. The whole of the night limped along that way. When I woke Tuesday morning, I logged on to the interwebz, read a post from The Bloggess, and realized that she had written about her own sleep struggles where nature is concerned, and in a far more eloquent manner than I might ever accomplish. I’m giving you the link to that post here, so that you might read the work of a beautiful writer, as well as get a glimpse of what some (maybe many) of us encounter while being a part of this world, even though our triggers can be quite different.


Tuesday also found me cleaning soot, dirt, limbs and leaves from the pool. The Santa Anas had wreaked havoc up the coast, sending fires blazing at an astounding clip. Back here at the homestead, after an hour of cleaning, I had removed most of the leaves and solid sizable debris from the pool’s water. The bottom of the pool was black, however, so I left the poor filter running for a bit, hoping a dent might be made in the sediment.


Fire North of Los Angeles


I had a few pressing engagements beyond the house, so I ventured out into the devil winds. At one intersection, I saw three separate leaf-filled funnels swirling in the street. The air was dirty and each time I left the relative calm of the car, my eyes burned and itched. News from Ventura, just up the coast, was dire. Before I could get my head around that fire’s continuing damage, news of another fire hit. This time it was just outside Los Angeles proper. I wondered about friends living in those areas. As I drove into North Hollywood, I looked up and saw smoke plumes. The winds continued. No relief.


Tuesday night, I went to bed and hoped for the best. The winds were still whipping, still angry, still dangerous. At just after 2am, I woke to strong smells of smoke. I listened intently, in case I could hear the whispers of flames. I heard only wind, and got up to check the area. None of my neighbors’ homes were burning, so it must have been the shifting winds – bringing the heavy smell of destruction to our street. When morning came, there was an added layer of soot on every surface. The pool cleaning began anew, this time with Mister handling the duties. More fires were reported and more damage had been done. Schools were closed. Businesses, too. Folks required to work outside were wearing breathing masks and goggles. The smoke smell was everywhere. There was no keeping it out. Morning news devoted itself solely to fire coverage.


I had a lunch meeting slated and while driving there, a sickening haze of smoke hung in Laurel Canyon. If it had been fog, the air would have been cooler. But that wasn’t the case. It was hot out. And this air hurt when breathed in. At the restaurant, a couple sitting nearby were intently following news updates on their phone. After a brief word with them, my table-mates and I came to understand the couple lived only a few streets over from the blazes of the Skirball Fire. They showed us video taken from their backyard, video of too-close flames and low-flying planes, doing the lord’s work by dropping fire repellent where they could. The couple could do nothing but wait. My friends and I offered prayers. Otherwise, there was nothing at all we could do.


As I write this, it’s Wednesday, early evening. Properties have been destroyed or are burning. Evacuations are being enforced. Freeways are closed, as fire danger is too near to risk allowing vehicles in certain areas. The Santa Anas are expected to blow through Saturday.  To say we here in Los Angeles are on edge is terribly inadequate. We are heart-broken and we are terrified. California has been scarred by fires this year (as well as years past). The damage is far from over. I don’t know how some folks will recover from this. Sadly, many will not. No matter where we live, we tend to think we control our home life. In suburban settings, we cultivate gardens and mold our outdoors into something pleasing to ourselves. In city settings, we trade home greenery for local parks. And yet, no matter where we reside, we control nothing really. Fires can spark. Tornadoes can twist. Floods can surge. The world, for all its beauty and wonder, is a tricky place. And no matter how much we love it, we will never truly control it.


I don’t expect to sleep well tonight. I am at the mercy of Nature.


London - The Last Day - Highgate Cemetery - Photo by Mister

Bernie Sanders Broke My Phone



We have received exactly one robo-call this primary election season. It boomed with the instantly recognizable voice of Senator Bernie Sanders and went straight to voice mail. Although we’ve not experienced other robo-calls for comparison, this one was typical and ordinary in its delivery. Except for one thing. It broke our phone.


I don’t know what happened. Before that Sanders robo-call, the land line was working great. After the call, our phone became stuck in “New Message” mode and won’t allow a reset. I’ve never been a fan of robo-calls, but I really don’t like them now that Bernie Sanders broke my phone.


Still and all, it’s Primary voting day in California. Let’s do our parts, please.




Sometimes I feel, well, untethered. In those moments, I want to find myself, and I want to feel grounded.



But wanting to feel grounded and actually feeling grounded are two different things.



So I look to places for a sense of belonging. Occasionally, I get lucky. More often than not, I am left feeling as lost as ever.



Heaven help me – I will probably always be searching…

What Do I See?



About a month ago, a friend and her mum invited me to go on a native plant tour. For those unaware, we here in California are experiencing an ugly drought and water-hog lawns are therefore seen as evil, evil, evil. Sadly, most of us have lawns. Learning about native plants can help deal with our consumption.


Anyhoo – it was pretty awesome and I was particularly interested in design using plants of varying heights. Sometimes when we think of plants needing little water, our minds go straight to desert foliage. I’m a big fan of that look, but I don’t want to limit my options. The plant tour opened my eyes to the amazing possibilities in the world of low-water yards.



One homeowner was gracious enough to invite attendees back this past weekend. She wanted to give us the opportunity to see the native garden in bloom. I jumped at the chance and this time Mister tagged along. I wanted him to broaden his thinking, too, as the dude has to live with me and whatever I end up doing to the front yard. We took our time, and at some point I looked over and said, “That wasn’t doing that before.” I pointed to a large, purple shrub and wondered aloud if it could possibly be a Smoke Bush. I’d only seen photos, so I wasn’t quite sure. We meandered in that general direction and when we approached, a few people were talking about the plant and how beautiful it was. Turns out it was indeed a Smoke Bush.



I plan to keep investigating front yard options and to learn more about hardscapes. I’ve no idea when Mister and I will bite the bullet and rip out the lawn. We may just let it die. Either way, I’m excited about the project and knowing I can get my very own Smoke Bush is crazy-smile-inducing.

“The Christmas Song” – Who Knew?



Did you know that “The Christmas Song” was written 70 years ago? Well it was. And it was written by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells in Toluca Lake, California.


Last week Toluca Lake held its annual Holiday Open House. The song’s anniversary was celebrated during the festivities.


As I understand it, the song wasn’t written at Christmas, but was instead penned during a super-hot July afternoon in 1944. Nothing like a cool song to lower the fahrenheit, eh?



The Holiday Open House was a fairly simple to-do, with a single decorated truck rolling up and down the main drag. As the street remained open, you couldn’t really call it a parade. But those on-board the rig were singing their hearts out, so I guess they didn’t need multiple floats to boost their holiday cheer.


Small-town celebrations can be fun. They can serve as a reason to get together with friends. Or to do some window shopping. Last week, one small-town celebration taught me the history of what may be the most played and beloved holiday song ever. Who knew?


Island of the Blue Dolphins



During my foot recovery, I am trying to get some reading and sewing done. Today I’m sharing the first book I’ve completed while being laid-up.


I didn’t grow up in California. I don’t know squat about the state’s history or lore. The things learned by Cali schoolchildren escape me.


I spotted Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins on a friend’s bookshelf and asked to borrow it. I’d heard of the book when other friends mentioned it as being part of their children’s school reading lists. I thought I’d give it a spin.


Turns out, this is a darling book about a real-life 1800′s girl in California’s coastal history. She ended up living alone on San Nicolas Island for 18 years. It’s an easy read, but does contain some very real loss (death), so it may not be appropriate for the youngest kids. But if you have a kid who reads, and you’re not living in California, look for this book for your child. This big kid really enjoyed it.


By the way, the tape on the cover is due to my negligence. I accidentally tore my friend’s book. I am now on the look-out for a replacement. Dag!

Homeward Bound



The home quest continues. It is a fascinating ride, too, friends. California is a crazy place to live, not only for the unbelievably high prices but also for the unbelievably high number of documents one must wade through in order to secure an abode. In other words, Mister and I are up to our earballs in “what the heck is going on?”


As we were up late last night combing through page after page of stuff-that-must-be-addressed, I’m too pooped to post. Forgive me. I don’t know when, but at some point I’ll be back in the saddle again.


Dang! That line sure does make me want some chili.


Some would say I’m not nearly focused enough. But I say…


Oooooo! Butterfly!

Fluffy Little Clouds



When I first moved to California, I marveled at the clouds. They seemed so familiar, but not in a first-hand kind of way. I recognized those clouds. I knew them. But from where?


One day it hit me: those clouds were from Looney Tunes! Those fluffy little clouds, floating against that perfect blue – I had grown up watching those same clouds in animated form each and every Saturday morning. Those clouds served as the backdrop to my laughing at Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig and the Roadrunner.


They don’t always show themselves in their Looney Tunes fashion, but when they do, I am as enamored as ever. And they always make me giggle. I love those fluffy little clouds!

“The Californians” on SNL



I finally saw some of last Saturday’s SNL, and a skit called “The Californians” had me in tears.


Though I’m not a California native, I must admit, they did portray us fairly (in a caricature sort of way). In particular, the traffic talk killed. I had to watch it twice!


If you live in CA, how do you assess the skit?