Remember when I told you about the lizard shown above, and how he seemed to be waiting for me to open the back door so that he could waltz into the house? Well his patience and persistence certainly did pay off – for him – as he clearly made it inside while I wasn’t looking. And now he’s an unwanted squatter at the new pad.


He’s fast and he’s very good at hiding. At least I hope he’s a he, as I don’t want that Sticky laying eggs and taking over the joint. I mean really! I read that lizards eat insects, but we don’t have too many of those around, so I’m not sure what he was hoping to gain from coming inside. Maybe news of my awesome a/c repair job got around and he wanted to cool off. Or maybe he’s a beer lover and heard about my supply. Honestly – if I find that lizard sitting on the rumpus room couch, beer in one hand and remote in the other, I may have a conniption fit. Or keel over from laughter.


For now, I’m hoping the little guy gets bored or hungry and heads for an open door, back to the outside world. Nature. I swear.

Franklin Canyon Reservoir



I’ve wanted to go for ages. I’d heard about it and read about it, but for some reason I just wasn’t making it happen. Then friends invited us to join them for a nature walk at Franklin Canyon Park and we knew we would finally see it.


It did not disappoint. There was actual nature there! In L.A.! We were part of a large group and we all hung out, picnic-ed, took in the sights and communed with all the beauty around us. For me, it was nostalgic, as the opening credits of “The Andy Griffith Show” were filmed there. You know – the part where Andy and Opie are skipping rocks? That’s the Franklin Canyon Lake, friends. And it’s lovely. (By the way, “Creature From the Black Lagoon” was also shot there. So was “On Golden Pond.” Heck – there’s a whole list of things filmed there, listed on the wiki page.)


Now that I’ve gone once, I know how easy it is and will definitely go again. For a little while, that outing made me forget I was in a crowded, concrete city. And it was just gorgeous. Truly.



Humdinger of a Hummingbird



For some reason, we have quite a few hummingbirds buzzing about the New Pad. (They’ve even flown inside the house.) Maybe it’s all the crack nectar we make and put out for them. Whatever the reason, it’s cool. I happen to like them and they’re sweet.


But recently a hummingbird has been thrumming around the back door. I spotted her a few times, landing atop a janky electrical socket. She didn’t seem bothered by our presence, and we weren’t bothered by hers, so all was well.



Until it wasn’t. It seems the old gal was building herself a nest in that socket, and once she’d finished, she was none too fond of our comings and goings by way of that back door. In fact, she has buzzed both my and Mister’s heads a few times, protecting the nest. We’re not too keen on that behavior, but I told Mister I’ve come up with a strategy: I keep my head down and tell her she’s the one who picked that spot, so chill the hell out! I’m thinking something is lost in translation, because she doesn’t seem to chill the hell out at all. Not even a little bit.


Oh well. We still don’t mind her being there. And I’m kind of excited to see itty-bitty baby hummingbird heads popping out of that itty-bitty nest. Nature is a hoot.


Sol Legare



This is the commission I’ve been yakking about. It’s called “Sol Legare,” per the buyer’s request. For the record, I had not one problem obliging the buyer on that front. She was free to name the painting and “Sol Legare” is lovely. Plus – I know it’s personal for her and her family.


When I was approached about taking on this project, the buyer told me only that she wanted a painting of the back yard of her husband’s childhood home in South Carolina. She sent me several photographs for reference and I set to work. Though I definitely took some artistic liberties, it turned out to be a decent representation of her hubby’s family homestead.


When I looked at this painting, all I could think about was what fun it would have been to grow up there. All that nature! While living with the work (before delivering it to the buyer), Mister and I took a liking to its colors and depth. And we were both a little sad to see it go.


But we know “Sol Legare” is in a good home. And we know art is meant to be seen. I’m so happy I got to be a part of this project.

I Buy Flowers



Many weeks ago, I bought flowers for the rumpus room mantle. Since then, I’ve continued. And I like it.


There’s something stirring about fresh flowers in a home. Maybe it’s the sheer beauty. Maybe it’s the presence of nature. Whatever it is, I am taken by it and now accept flower-buying as part of my budget. That’s a big deal for me, y’all! I’m frugal times ten. But I’ve decided it’s worth it. Not for the lovely factor, but for the soul factor.


Yesterday at the grocery store, while doing the weekly shopping and choosing which colorful stems to bring home, I discovered another benefit. Before I knew it, I was singing “Flowers” by my friend Kate Graves. And though I mostly remembered the tune only, I did remember a few words from the chorus: I buy flowers – every day. So not only did I bring home flowers, I got to smile and think of a dear friend. I’d say that’s a pretty sweet day at the market.

The Circle of Life



Mister had himself a mosey to check on the bees and reported back to me. It wasn’t good. We then moseyed together and I saw for myself.


Mister pointed out that what’s left of the hive appears like a haunted house. The occasional lost bee circles around, a ghost who once lived there. I’ve no idea how long the ghost bees will search. At some point, I suppose they’ll fall to the ground, like the old rotted hive. After a while, there will be no sign that they ever existed in that spot. No living trace. No dead trace either, for that matter.


It’s the Circle of Life, friends. And it’s as natural as breathing, no matter the cause. The bees will find themselves a new home, a new place to thrive. And that will last as long as it’s meant. I know nothing of a hive’s life cycle. I only know I mourn for this one.


Poor, Poor Bees



I was out and about the other day and thought I’d check in on the bees. I’ve been following them for a few years now, and you may recall from my first post about them, they looked great (as shown in the old photo above).



I’ve consulted and read and tried to understand this hive. After first discovering it, I was fascinated and sort of in love with the little workers. When that first winter at the new pad rolled around and the bees started disappearing from their hive, I fretted and worried. After a local bee-keeper told me this was normal for the season, I relaxed and looked forward to spring. Lo and behold – the bees showed up, just as predicted. And I loved them even more.



But their numbers appeared to be less than before, and to look at them, their hive seemed to be getting smaller. Each time I found myself in their vicinity, I’d look in on them. And each time I did, I saw fewer and fewer bees.



When I checked the hive a few days ago, my heart sank. It was a struggle to find any bees at all, and the hive looks dark and lifeless, as if no one is home. More than that, it has that same soulless look an abandoned house gets, as if it’s closing in on itself and dying from the inside. Like the life force that has kept it living for so long has simply disappeared. And now the hive is a shadow of its former self. And there’s nothing I can do about it.



Nature will take care of itself. (Dear lord, I hope that’s true.) I know bees are suffering the world over, and I don’t like it. But rather than obsess over it, I prefer to acknowledge how grateful I am to have found those bees in the first place. I’m so grateful to have admired their little world, and to have marveled at their very existence.



They will be missed. In more ways than one.

Not Good



I haven’t checked in with the bees for a while and yesterday when I did, it was not good.


When I first encountered the bees a few years ago, I was so smitten. Their hive seemed healthy, though I don’t really have a clue about that sort of thing, and there were a jillion of them. Now…



The bees’ numbers are visibly dwindling. The hive has the appearance of winter, and that simply isn’t the way it should be right now. We can all speculate until we’re blue in the face – drought, climate change, pesticides, pollution, etc. – but none of that will change the fact that the bees are going away.


Honestly, I try not to dwell on it too much, as a gal could drown in that muddy thought pool. Instead, I plan to check on the bees now and then and keep my fingers crossed. It’s nature, after all. I may be part of it, but I’m certainly not the boss of it.

You Get What You Need



L.A. can be hard. She teases and she tortures. She promises and she robs. She doesn’t always see your worth, and she sure as hell doesn’t always give you what you want.



But every now and then, in spite of herself, L.A. gives you what you need. And so it was the other day, as Mister and I strolled around a part of the city not everyone gets to see: DreamWorks Animation studio. We were there, writing welcome letters to athletes participating in the upcoming Special Olympics Games. After we’d dropped off our letters, we strolled around the grounds and got ourselves an eyeful of nature. It really was beautiful and I felt wonderfully calm after our walk. Nature will do that to you.



Living in Los Angeles, I don’t always get what I want. But more often than not, I do get what I need. This week’s dose of nature fit that bill perfectly.

Desert Nature



Mister and I spent last weekend in the desert of Arizona. And it was fabulous. The foliage was in bloom and the wildlife was teeming. I guess you never know what you’ll encounter in the desert.



Outside our door, we found this nest of baby birds. Their mama was hilarious, and would swoop over us like a bat each time we entered or exited the room. Her bird-cry almost sounded like “Move! Move!” She was just doing her job, and those little birds were darned cute.



One morning I awoke and looked outside the window. I saw this little bunny, nibbling on the foliage. Much like the baby birds, this baby bunny was also darned cute.


And then there was the evening we spotted another bit of desert nature. This time the specimen was alert and aware of our presence. He even posed for us when we lifted our camera. No doubt about it, that baby dude ranked high on the cute meter, too…



Like I said, you never know what you’ll encounter in the desert.