Thursday, April 29, 2010

Looking for Wildflowers

Yesterday, on a cold and cloudy morning, I took Angel, Princess and my camera on a hike up the hill to look at the wildflowers.
I still remember the names of the Swedish wildflowers, those that were such a joy after a long, dark and cold winter. But I only know the names of a few that grow in my backyard and in the canyon.
I spent some time yesterday looking in my books and on, but was not very successful. But I learned about a book called The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada. It was recommended in our local paper as the best field guide for the Tehachapi Mountains. It isn't 100 percent, because we are influenced both by the San Joaquin Valley to the west and the Mojave Desert to the east. I'll check the library to see if they have it or I may buy it. This interest in finding out about things in nature is yet another thing that living here and blogging about it has done for me.
Angel in the midst of Goldfields - I believe that is the name of most of the flowers that cover the hillsides here.  
 Princess admiring the wildflowers (she was really just eating some tall grass she found up there).
Everywhere you looked the hills were covered in golden flowers. 
Angel to Princess: Let me sniff your mouth, I want to know what you were eating up there. Oh, just some grass.

This is Gwendolyn's grave. Gwendolyn was a California Desert Tortoise that Rachael rescued, but who unfortunately died a couple of years ago. She is buried here, always a lovely place, but even more so now, surrounded by wildflowers.  
Fiddlenecks flourish under the protective branches of a juniper tree.  
A fragile beauty. 

Curly Dock - I believe is the name of this plant. 
One of my favorite places is this mini-cave. Every spring I find pretty red flowers here, so we went to look for them.
 And we found them.
They are up there among the rocks too, so pretty against the gray. I'm glad I didn't have to climb up there though.
I'm ending with the Spring Gold that I began with in my blog about the old beer truck we found about a month ago. It has grown a lot since then and is now all over the lower portions of our property. I didn't see any higher up on the mountain.

Thank you for visiting!

Please let me know if you found any errors in the names I assigned to the wildflowers or know the names of the ones I didn't. It's so much fun to learn more about them!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This Morning

We got up early this morning and I took Princess and Soldier for a walk up by the barn and around the fields a bit. Since I wasn't feeling well yesterday, I never got the mail, so I after I dropped Princess and Soldier off at the house, I took Angel and the camera and we walked down the road to the mailbox.

On the way back home, facing east, this is our road with the mountains in the background. The Mojave Desert is on the other side of those mountains. I got some comments about the Mojave Desert, so I thought I'd let you know where it is in relation to our house.
Fence posts for older versions of the barbed wire fences I talked about in my last post are often made of juniper branches like this one.
I wanted to show how green it gets here in the spring, but wasn't very successful capturing the green in this field.
Something caught Angel's attention. Probably the cows. The dogs are fascinated by the cows, well one cow and two steer (or is it steers, no, steer sounds better to me) that were let out in the fields next door last fall.
Here is something the color green after all.
Then it was time to mow. Since I'm not 100 percent well, I'm trying to contain myself to small patches at a time and then rest. But you can see how tall it's getting and so fast. It's a bit frustrating for me to not be able to just breeze through it.
Talk about rest! But don't let her restful pose deceive you, she's keeping an eye on both me and all the surrounding area, watching out for anything unusual or any wild animals.
The small lavender flowers have grown up. Oh, how fast everything grows this time of the year here.
The first ladybugs have arrived. I'm so happy to see them and did my best to shoo them away so as not to mow them down.
So that was my morning with the dogs, some hard work, and the wonderful smell of freshly cut grass. Is there anything better?

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Changing Landscape

My east coast blogger friend, Louise, has shown an interest in this high desert landscape and that gave me inspiration to bring my camera along yesterday. I had to go to the lab on the other side of town for some blood tests. As always, I was struck by the difference in the landscape. It's only 12 miles away, but here there are trees and bushes of all kinds, not just the juniper trees of my area, and lovely fields with horses, sheep, and cows.
As I got in my car to drive back home, I was struck by how pretty this looked -- the branches full of young leaves framing the distant mountain.
I decided to avoid the traffic on the main route and took Cherry Lane back to town. There used to be large cherry orchards there in the past, so this time of the year it's a lovely drive through some pretty farm country with cherry trees in bloom everywhere. Don't ask me why, but I have no pictures of them.
But on my way to Cherry Lane, I saw a couple of poppies and decided to stop. I was really looking for fields of poppies, but didn't find any.
But just one flower can be as magnificient as an entire field. And this is what makes blogging so much fun for me. I become more aware of my surroundings, from birds to plants to dog antics and all the rest in my ordinary life here. Noticing the poppies, stopping the car, getting out, taking a picture. Wow, that's something that would not have happened before I began to blog.
I like these rusty old barbed wire fences. An article in our local paper showed the many different designs and techniques used to make barbed wire in years past. Who would have known? It just goes to show it's never too late to learn about stuff.
I thought this field was lovely. It's empty though and I wonder why I didn't take any pictures of animals. I saw so many of them -- from a most beautiful chocolate-brown horse to a gorgeous rooster with a flock of chickens wandering a bit too close to the road -- for my comfort anyway. I have to blame all these missed opportunities on the lab tests that made me eat my lunch way too late for me. But then this could be another fun project, perhaps: Go back for a farm animal photo shoot.
This is one of only two busy intersections in town. No wonder the brakes on my car has lasted so long! No bumper to bumper traffic here.
And this is how it looks in the canyon where I live, only 12 miles to the east of town. About 1,000 feet below us and 20 miles to the east, lies the vast Mojave Desert. And there the landscape changes again to that of the high desert of California. Before moving here, I had no idea of how absolutely gorgeous the high desert is, particularly in the early morning light. Hopefully, I'll get there again some day soon with my camera, so I can share it with you.

Thanks for visiting with me in the California mountains.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Working, Resting, Reflecting -- And The Weather

Yesterday, I mowed our front yard. This strange patch of land consists of various grasses, weeds, and wildflowers. I believe we are the only ones in the canyon that actually have a green "lawn." I would rather have something else, some sort of groundcover or just plain red dirt/sand like everyone else. Half of this will die by June, the other half I will water all summer long, but it will never look good. Since we have no neighbors that might be bothered by the way our "lawn" looks, I just do the best I can with it and let it go at that.

I checked the lilac bush and saw that the flower buds have grown since the last photo. I worried about the storm that I knew was on the way. Snow promised to 4,000 ft, and that's us.
As I sat down to rest on our front porch, I noticed the sunlight playing on the hills across the way. As the clouds rushed by, the pattern changed and it was truly beautiful. It felt peaceful to sit there and watch. I thought about my friend Jane who just went to NYC. I thought about the city that I have only seen from Newark airport the last few times I flew to Sweden and haven't visited since the 1970s. Then I realized that this coming weekend, it will be a year since I spent a day with Jane and her husband at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA. That was the last time I was in LA and it is only 100 miles away!
Thinking about cities, it crossed my mind that while I miss both Stockholm and London often, I don't think about LA or New York at all. I sort of wondered why, but let it go, glad I'm happy with where I live now in this rough and strangely beautiful canyon. You get to musing about all kinds of stuff while sitting on your porch, that's for sure. But all I wanted to blog about was springtime in the canyon yesterday and then this came overnight:
I'm tired today from all that work yesterday and glad the weather is so crummy not even the dogs want to go outside. I always feel slightly guilty when I don't take them for a walk, but today we'll stay home, close to the fireplace.
They will snooze and I'll mix up resting with some slow-paced, much needed, housecleaning work.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Princess Tries Her Best to Round up Run-Away Dogs

Yesterday morning, we took all four dogs for a walk in the hills around here. I wanted to get some pictures of the yellow wildflowers that cover the hillside to the north of us but my husband and the dogs they just wanted to walk. And in a hurry they all were too.
I didn't get any good pictures. But I will go back and climb up closer.
These grew close to the road, so I took a quick photo of them.
After a while, we meet a guy on the trail and he and my husband get to talking, the rush all but forgotten. Since I know this may take a while, I wander off to take some pictures.
One of the canyon.
Another of the surrounding mountains.

I'm disappointed that  I see no other flowers and no wild critters. So I walk back to see if we will be on our way soon. Suddenly there is a lot of commotion and Princess takes off like a rocket. Samson has somehow gotten away from my husband and is taking off. Since the distance was short, Princess caught up with him and knocked him over with her shoulder. He got surprised and disoriented, so she had no problem herding him back to us. It all was so fast, like a flash!

As my husband continues his conversation with this guy and picks up Samson's leash, Soldier gets away from him and takes off running. I take off after Soldier and so does Princess. My husband says: "Don't chase him," meaning that Soldier will take this as a game and run faster. So I stop, but then my husband starts to chase him and Soldier takes off, running even faster, with Princess following him. I thought good that she went with him, because I'm sure she can find her way home. But I also know she won't be able to keep up with him. And if Soldier gets away, he'll have no idea how to get home.

So we spread out, my husband on the road and I through the bushes. We go to the edge of a cliff where we have a good view of the fields below. We don't see anyone, nothing. I start to think that now both dogs are lost in the hills. So I call Princess and whistle for her. Her hearing isn't that good, but I know she can hear a whistle and the way I yell, panicked that I am, I'm sure she can hear me. Nothing, no rustle in the bushes, nothing at all. I decide to backtrack and my husband decides to continue on the road. When I get back almost to where we started looking for them, there comes Princess. But she's alone….Oh, no, where is my boy? I'm getting very worried, but call my husband's cell to let him know I have Princess. And he tells me he has Soldier. As he was walking down the road, the one we went on to the ruins and that old abandoned beer truck, Soldier had turned around and was coming back. Phew!! That was a close call.

And Princess certainly did her very best to keep up with Soldier, but she is heavier and I believe that she is also older (they are both supposed to be 10), or getting older much faster than he is. So there was no way she could keep up with him. But she really, really tried. And on the same day, she got Samson back before he managed to get away. Princess is a black lab/border collie cross, equally good at herding dogs and retrieving balls.

Here she is – my HERO!
Thank you, Princess; you are the best and most wonderful dog!

The lesson here: It's awfully easy to lose a dog forever in these mountains and we really have to pay attention when we walk with them.

Phew!! What a day! But it ended well and I'm so grateful for that.

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Something's Smelling Good!

The other day, I made some banana-nut bread that came out of the oven smelling heavenly!
As witnessed by the crowd it drew into the kitchen.
Soldier hit the spot: Oh, it's coming from here, the oven! See, I told you, I have a pretty good nose.
Good for you, my Soldier boy! And of course I'll share some with you all when it cools off.

There is just something about baking bread, even if I with my diabetes can't eat much of it. (My husband loves home-baked breads, so I keep whatever I bake in the freezer for when he comes home. And, of course I'll eat some too. )

Banana-Nut Bread

Preheat oven to 325

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar or ¾ cup honey
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3 medium bananas (about 1 cup mashed)
1 cup regular flour
I cup wheat flour
1/3 cup hot water
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 + t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger

Melt butter and blend in sugar. Mix in eggs and bananas.
Sift flour with dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to
banana mixture, alternately with hot water. Stir in nuts.

You really can't go wrong with this one.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April Fooled Me After All

What a wonderful surprise! Both Princess and I just love the snow and even though I feel sorry about the reduced odds for lilac and daffodil blooms, I'm so happy that Princess is having so much fun. She's getting old and she is tired, so I worry about her. That's why I took her out alone with me early so she could get a good roll in the snow and have special time with her mommy. She was so happy! I was too!
While she was playing, I checked the trees that I posted such spring-like photos of the other day. This is what they looked like this morning:  The tree above, is the one with the big leaf buds. Now the buds are enclosed in ice, but they'll be OK.
But the lilac bush…..OUCH! I wonder what will happen to the blossoms now.
And here's my baby cottonwood tree -- full of icicles!
I had planned to hike up the hill this morning, to take a look at all the different kinds of yellow spring flowers that started to bloom on the hillside up there. I guess the spring flowers will have to wait for another day.
I thought it was going to be slush, but instead it was cold, with the snow glittering in the sun, and making those wonderful crunchy noises underfoot, as we walked up the snow-covered road.
Thanks for visiting; I hope you enjoyed this spring surprise as much as we did.


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