Saturday, August 31, 2013

Old Family Photos

After the swim, 1932.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Old Tow Truck Left Behind

Another picture of the old tow truck left behind up by the barn.  I'll definitely take more pictures of this truck, it's a great subject ~~ and it stands still (as opposed to the critters I try to photograph)!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

50 Years Later

Dreams realized

Nightmares continuing 

Great things accomplished

More to be done

To be free at last

We must all move forward, together

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Peace Bell ~ Mountain Spirit Center

The Peace Bell at the Mountain Spirit Center, 
Tehachapi, California, USA. 

"Living Together in Peace and Harmony" reads the inscription at the top of this magnificent bell. Below, "PEACE" in hundreds of languages encircles it and children from all over the world, wearing traditional costumes, and holding hands, dance around the bottom of the bell. Both the Peace Bell and the structure that houses it are painted by hand. 

When I posted the picture of Rachael walking toward the temple a while back, Susan Kane asked how the temple came to be in this particular place. 

I had heard that native people of this area held vision quests in the deep canyon where the center is located. And once you enter it, you just know it is a deeply spiritual place. How the Abbot found this place, I had no idea. I couldn't find their website, so I looked them up on, and according to them, the Abbot had looked for a place in the mountains for this center for many years, and he finally decided on this land because it is: "a wonderful energy point according to oriental principles of geomancy." 

The monks at the Mountain Spirit Center are very conscious of the environment; electricity is generated by solar and wind power, well water is used for irrigation, and no toxic chemicals are found at the Center. 

If anyone is interested in reading my earlier accounts of visits to the Mountain Spirit Center, here are the links:

My friend Fran, aka fishducky, said in her comment above that she'd found a poorly made video of the Peace Bell on youtube. I checked it out and it was indeed not that well made, but if you want to watch it here's the link:

Thank you, Fran, for taking the time to find the video. It has inspired me to step up close to the bell and take pictures of the children and Peace in all these languages, the next time I visit. Looking for Peace in the languages I know would be fun. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Last of My Wildlife Tales ~ Where We Learn the Bear Slept Here and a Rattlesnake Comes By to Visit

As it does most days, a strong wind blew the other day when I was up by the garden, rinsing dirt off a bunch of radishes I had just picked. Suddenly, I sensed something coming at me from behind, and my heart took a little leap, I must admit, after all these wild critters visiting. I turned around and was nearly knocked down by this gigantic tumble weed that came rolling up the hill and in my face. Nearly as tall as I, it was impressive as it continued on its way.

This morning, I took Samson up the hillside to where it had finally been stopped by a juniper tree. I wanted to take its picture to post here. The first thing we saw were bear tracks and three big piles of fresh scat, which looked like the bear had eaten too many juniper cones and had an upset stomach. Deciding to forget about the picture, I took Samson for our regular walk. 

Later, I took my husband there and, as we walked around, we came upon the bear's resting place under a juniper, and also this spot where it had rolled around in the dirt. 

This is right behind our house. Up the hill a ways. 

We also saw a small coyote drinking from our leaking faucet, all the while being watched by a huge Jackrabbit, sitting up on the hillside. From the right angle, that would have been a National Geographic moment, but since I was in the house, all I could do was enjoy the moment. The small coyote limped as it walked away. I wonder if the rabbit knew it was safe all along. To the left in the above picture, you can see a clearly marked trail, traveled mainly by coyotes. 

After the racer snake came into the dog enclosure back in June, my husband bought this stuff at Home Depot and sprinkled it around the house. It's safe for dogs to step in and not toxic. In addition to getting rid of snakes, this made the fence lizards move over to our sheds, and also got rid of the mice. A disappointed Samson has only caught two mice all summer long, not much compared to last year's haul. 

From 2007, this is my favorite picture of a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake. 

Unless something really exciting happens, this will be the last of my wildlife tales for now. But it wouldn't be complete without a rattlesnake visit. And it happened yesterday evening, as my husband was showing our new neighbor, Luis, our veggie garden. 

When we first met our new neighbors, my husband suggested that the flipflops they wore were not appropriate here because of the rattlesnakes. That was in May, and once May is over, the snakes only come out at night, so the neighbors never saw one. I'm glad he got to see one, so he can now believe they are for real. He had never seen one and my husband said he was quite excited, videoing it on his phone. But my husband was sure Luis did not believe the bear story. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Black Bear in Our Garden ~ Night Visitor, Leaves Tracks

In the spring we said we would do it right if we were to have a garden this year. It got later and later, hubby installed a sprinkler system and June was almost over when he started working the parched, dry, hard as rock earth. After some hard work, since we don't have the proper tools to make life in the country easier, we were ready to till the soil.

It was quite an adventure, done with me driving the truck and hubby hanging on to this grader we found in the shed that he hooked up to the truck. He had to actually lie down on it, yelling at me to do this or that with the truck, so we wouldn't damage the sprinkler system. If I couldn't hear him, he started pointing and waving his arms, a sure way to get me to go in the wrong direction. But we managed without major traumas, although we are pretty sure to rent a rototiller next year. 

On July 13, hubby sowed the seeds, while I sat in a chair above the garden, and noted what went where, so we'd know later. I definitely had the easy part of that chore. 

The seeds sprouted with amazing speed and all went well, some deer had gently stepped over the fence to drink some of the water left in a furrow and three gophers had to bite the dust. Then one morning the little fence was broken and a much larger visitor had trampled around in the east end of the garden. A black bear. 

While we could see the tracks, the bear had muddied everything up so it was really hard to get a picture of them. The above paw print was the best I could do. There were also some clear ones of the bear heading east after quenching his/her thirst and trampling our seedlings. 

The bear came back the very next night, and the above paw print also appeared. I know it's hard to tell here, but it was much, much smaller, still with five toes, like a bear. A cub, perhaps? We have a few black bears around here and sometimes in late summer they come to our place and eat juniper cones, so it's possible it was a mama bear with a cub, not something you want in your backyard. Or your veggie garden. 

After that second visit, hubby decided we needed a taller fence, so we got into Old Betsy, as we call our truck, put her in 4-wheel drive, and took off out on the land to see what we could find. And we found plenty of fencing material and metal fence posts, ideal for this venture. It's amazing what people leave behind. When I was younger, like in my late 60s, and lived here alone, I cleaned up a lot of it. And had a lot hauled away. But there's still so much left to do, and I just don't have the energy now. What you see in the truck are some of the leftovers from our round-up.

My husband put up the five-foot fence in one day, a lot of wiring the fence to the posts, but he got it done. He's so patient, unlike me. And the garden took off. On August 18, it looked like this. 

While everything may not mature in time, we will eat lettuce, spinach, collard and mustard greens, radishes, zucchini, carrots, and so on, for a long, long time to come.  

The big bobcat has come back, but we haven't seen any evidence of bear visitors in the night. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Battle of the Bobcat, the Coyotes, and Two Ravens

The bobcat pictured above used to come by here quite often. It's a large cat that also used to hang out at the donkey rescue. Both Rachael and I became familiar with it. Though large, it's nowhere near as large as the bobcat in my previous post, and it has that square body and a small head:

The most recent bobcat visitor, large, tawny, but smaller than a mountain lion. It gets your imagination going though.

This cute bobcat came by a few years ago. It's a small cat. Very speckled. Sorry about the bad quality of the picture.

What interests me about this cat, in addition to its color and size, is the large size of its head. I hope it comes back again so I can get a better look at it.

My favorite picture of a bobcat hunting. I have it in the sidebar of my blog.

The Battle of the Bobcat, the Coyotes, and Two Ravens

The bobcat came through the long dry grass running, unusual for a bobcat, they always seem to stroll along, aloof and in control. This cat seemed to have lost its calm as it crossed our driveway and ran into the next field. Then I see two coyotes following the cat, closely, quietly. This caught my attention, but I had no idea I would soon see something remarkable. 

Two electrical poles sit in that field and when the cat reached the first pole, it began to climb. Now that's a very long climb to the top, with nothing to hold onto, no branches, no knobbly outcroppings, just the plain old pole. While I'm looking, rooting for the cat to make it to the top, the two coyotes stop, look up also, and sort of shake their heads and move on, out of my sight. 

Two ravens are perched at the top of the pole, also looking on with interest, as the cat continues to climb, making quite a racket, scratching its way to the top. The two ravens, annoyed now, fly off to sit on top of the other pole, regrouping. The bobcat rests on top of the pole, safe for now, surveying the land below. I'm standing there with my mouth wide open. It seems unbelievable that the cat made it that high up. Just by its own strength. And then it begins.

The ravens attack. Poor cat, after all that, it is getting dive-bombed by the two ravens. I see the cat hiss and claw into the air, but it has no chance, these birds are large and they are mad. I guess the cat invaded their pole, their territory or something. This goes on for a while and I grab my cellphone and call Rachael down at the rescue, to share my exciting adventure in the animal world. As we talk, I look away for just a second, when I look back, the ravens sit proudly at the top of "their" pole and the cat is gone. "Rachael," I cry, "the cat is no longer there, did it jump? Did it fall? Does it really have nine lives, what about the coyotes?" Rachael, not one to panic like me, suggests I walk over there and check it out. I do, I look under all the rabbit brush, I look everywhere, there is no cat in sight. Nor any coyotes. But two ravens sit atop their pole, victorious, their dangerous large black beaks shining in the sun. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Have Water & They Will Come ~ Bobcats, Bears, and All Kinds of Critters

Our leaking water faucet continues to attract a number of birds, and many other animals, including this large bobcat. And before we got our taller fence up, a black bear came by a couple of nights, trampling around, leaving paw prints in the mud. More about that in another post. In the above picture, the cat sees me and begins to slowly walk away.

Being a cat, he feels compelled to make me understand that I am but a slight annoyance in his daily routine.

So he sits and scratches behind one ear. Not a second look my way, he sits, superior and calm, scratching. 

Then turns and walks off up the hill and disappears behind the junipers.

I enlarged this last picture so you can see the size of this cat. He hung around for a few days, left his calling card outside our bedroom window ~ it smelled like house cat x 10, at least.

Oh, my, says the cottontail rabbit, I get so scaredy, so scaredy when I see that big cat, I run, I hop away and hide in my hidey hole. 

I agree, says the hare, better known here as the Jack Rabbit. Coyotes are bad enough, but cats are much, much worse. Stalkers they are, and ambushers too, yes they are, they are.

I'll fly away, says the bird.

I'm so quick, says the chipmunk, ain't no kitty gonna catch me! Come on you big kitty you, just you try! 


Just as I finished writing this, Samson was barking his special large wild critter alert bark, so I ran outside to see what's up, hoping to catch a glimpse of that black bear from a safe distance. The above is an older picture of Samson, but this is what he was doing, trying to climb the fence, alternating with climbing the picnic table, barking ferociously all along. It was the cat again, sauntering away through the dry grass as if he had not a care in the world. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Seasons in the Canyon



Lovely seasons both.

~ ~

It's what lies between that's a bit difficult, hot, dry, tiring.


~ ~

But it's not all bad, far from it.

~ ~

Of course we have winter too, but later for that. It just seems so very far away.

Samson Says: How far away, mommy? I need me some winter soon!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rachael and I Visit the Monastery on the Mountain

Some of my blogger friends were surprised when I posted stories about the Zen Buddhist Center in our canyon. You may also be surprised to know that there is a Norbertine Monastery on Tehachapi Mountain. The cloistered, contemplative community of the Norbertine Sisters of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph was founded in 1997; and in the year 2000, Mother Mary Augustine and four sisters moved to this location. The convent has expanded and there is now a new building where the nuns live. 

Rachael had never been there, so when she came to visit last month, we drove up the winding road, boarded on each side by Blue, Black and Live Oaks, as well as other trees and bushes. All green and fresh and wonderful for my desert dry soul. 

Unfortunately, we arrived during the nuns' mid-day break, when they close the gift shop and use the chapel for their own services. We disturbed this big dog's nap too, but he didn't seem to mind. 

We took some pictures of their garden and then drove down to the fields below and visited the goats.

Lavender grows everywhere; the nuns use it for soaps, salves, and other items that they sell in their gift shop.

When my husband and I were here in June, the goats were not at all interested in us and only the ram came up to check us out.

The rest stayed put and didn't even give us a second look.

Those of you who are familiar with Rachael and all that she does for animals, will have no doubt that she immediately became a huge attraction. Nearly all the goats came running. It's really true, and it was an amazing sight. 

This one managed to get her head through the fence and got the most attention from Rachael. Ooh, she was one happy goat, getting her ear scratched.

Rachael has a gift with animals that's a joy to watch. She's sort of an all around animal whisperer.

Agreed said this pretty goat.

After petting the goats for a while, we drove up to the mountain park where Rachael admired the Lodge Pole Pines and other tall trees.

And waited for me, while I visited the rather primitive facilities. A good day spent with a good friend. Thanks for stopping by to share it with me.


Related Posts with Thumbnails