Friday, June 28, 2013

A Birthday Picnic on the Mountain & Visiting the Nuns' Goats

All I wanted for my birthday was a picnic on the mountain. True to form, my husband fixed a chicken salad we packed  all the necessary picnic stuff and took off. Located at 5,782 feet and only eight miles southwest of town, Tehachapi Mountain Park is another great getaway in this area. 

We both soaked in the lush greenery that lined the winding mountain road, so good for our parched desert souls. "It looks like the South," said he as we made our way up the mountain. 

Once we reached the park, we selected a spot among stately fir trees for our picnic and I took a distant picture of my husband who doesn't want to be seen on my blog. 

Ground squirrels were practically tame, begging for food.

After we ate, I tried to take some pictures of the tall trees, but  it was a bit difficult since we were on a sloping mountain side.

So, instead, we took each other's pictures like crazy, giggled, and had a great time! Having just received my new driver license with, yes, its up-to-date, revealing picture, I was happy with this one. Taken in the shade, it doesn't show my wrinkles, which are multiplying at an alarming rate. I was so happy, I made this my new blog photo.

The trees around us were climbing up this steep slope and 

down as well, so tree tops got chopped off in the pictures. The trees were beautiful and the place smelled heavenly of pine needles and all the wonderful smells of the forest.

Look, the Wrangler is spotless, like a mirror! This is impossible since our dirt roads are so dusty now, but there it is. This could be my Saint Patrick's Day picture, don't you think? 

After lunch, we wanted to visit the Norbertine Monastery, located just below the park. The nuns' driveway is incredibly steep and once we reached the top, there was no parking. So we turned around and spent some time in the lovely fields below. The above picture is from the fall of 2010 when my friend Judy and I visited the monastery. 

There were hundreds of woodpeckers, noisily working away in the tall trees. This may be an Acorn Woodpecker, he and his flock were lined up on the fence posts at the monastery, like sentinels. Probably they were after acorns dropped by the many ancient oaks that grow in fields and on hillsides around the monastery. The nuns could not have selected a more peaceful place for contemplation and prayer. 

So instead of visiting the chapel, we spent some time with the nuns' mellow goats. 

When I worked at the donkey rescue, the highway patrol stopped some Mexicans and after checking them out, the cops heard some strange noises from the trunk of the car. They found, I think, five grown goats inside. A couple of them died and the rest went to jail. The donkey rescue took in two. Rachael and I named them Julio and Eduardo and I fell in love with GOATS. I had never known any before then. Oh, were they wonderful ~ every day I stopped by their enclosure   for a chat, while they tried to distract me so they could nibble on my hat or camera or whatever I had in my hands.  They are in Texas now, I hope they are OK. I miss them.

There were many, many goats resting in this field, but this was the only one to come up and say hello.

Driving back down the mountain, we were fascinated by green grass, green bushes, and green trees. I don't think I ever appreciated the color green as much as on that day.

At the end of the mountain road, there were two horses and a foal. Of course the foal decided to turn his rear end to me as I snapped. 

After that, we drove around the wide open ranch country to the west of our canyon and town.

Then we drove on this one road, high, high above a valley with no guard rails. Since my blogger friend Feral Woman complained about the lack of guard rails here in California, I have paid it some attention. I think I was too nervous to take a picture of the worst of it, but this one may give you an idea if you take note of how tiny those oaks look down below.

Safely back in town, we stopped by the store and bought a carrot cake and some ice cream to continue the birthday celebrations at home. A great birthday, my 73rd!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Barn Below the Mountains

The days grow long, the mountains beautiful
The south wind blows
Over blossoming meadows
Newly arrived swallows dart
Over the steaming marshes
Ducks in pairs drowse on warm sand 

Tu  Fu, 8th century

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Samson Meets His First Snake

Samson Says: 

OK, so the other day, as mommy opened the door to let me out, I spotted movement over in a corner of the dog enclosure by daddy's so called snake-proof fence. I thought it was a lizard, so I ran over there, but it was something else. Mommy yelled at the top of her squeaky voice: Stop, Samson, a snake!! She's taught me how to stop (I'll say that much for her) so stop I did. That critter was gone in the blink of an eye, it was that fast!

Mommy went and got daddy and told him he was not allowed to kill the snake. He said he'd use the water hose. When I heard water hose, I went in the house and looked out the door window to see what they would do. 

Sure enough, daddy found the snake's hiding place and started spraying water on its rear end, directing it with the hose to the fence. Mommy stood next to him, monitoring to make sure he didn't kill the snake. I saw it slither up the fence by the gate post. I guess that's how it got in. I almost felt sorry for the thing myself, as daddy directed the hose to its bottom and it had to climb up all that way. 

Mommy said it was a racer snake and not poisonous. Daddy said it could still bite. Mommy said, auntie Rachael says in her classes that anything with teeth can bite. I said to myself: What else is new? 

I wish mommy had taken some pictures of it instead of standing over daddy like that. The three above are some that mommy took a few years ago of another racer snake that couldn't decide if it wanted to hide or stick its neck out.

Samson: Mommy, while we're talking about snakes, I've been treated very well by my vet, so I trusted that I would get no more needles there. But last time, in comes a smiley person, a boy, and before I know it, he takes me away into another room. Where I get a needle, and OK, a pedicure. Why did I get a needle again?

Mommy: It was a rattlesnake vaccine. In case a rattlesnake would bite you, you would have some protection. 

Samson: That's what I thought you said, but this snake was so  scared of me and left so fast I barely got to see him. 

Mommy: This was a racer snake, it's different from a rattlesnake. A rattlesnake may stand his ground and if you were to get too close to try to bite him, he could bite you first. And then you would be in big trouble. 

Samson: You mean he wouldn't run away?

Mommy: Well, run? He has no legs, so run, no. What he may do is curl up in a ring, sort of, and rattle his rear end.

Samson: Rattle his rear end! That sounds like a lot of fun. I wish I could rattle my rear end, heh, heh, heh.

Mommy: This is no joke, Samson. He rattles to warn you to stay away. Because if he bites you, you will get very sick. Look at this snake, it's a rattle snake. See the rattles?

Mommy: You have to promise me to stay away from all snakes, particularly if they have a rattle on their rear end. Promise, Samson.

Samson: OK, mommy, I promise to himself: But I bet I could kill him first, while he's busy rattling away

Have a nice day everyone!

Posed by Samson, the Samoyed Dog

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Midsummer in Sweden ~ Summertime in America

I'm a bit late for Midsummer's Eve, so let me wish my friends and family in Sweden a happy summer with lots of sunshine and warm weather. The latter is not always a sure thing over there. 

And for my friends and family in America ~ well, it is hard and difficult to read about one horror after another, tornadoes, tropical storms, hurricanes, floods, and fires. My heart goes out to my family, friends, blogger friends, and the people of Colorado, which so far has been the hardest hit by fires. 

I hope for a peaceful summer here in the U. S., like the ones I remember from my childhood in Sweden. Should this not be the case, remember:

The human spirit is stronger that anything that happens to it. ~ Unknown

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Murals of Tehachapi, California ~ The Loop & A Village Scene

At the Tehachapi Loop long trains go around in a circle and through a tunnel where the front of the train crosses over the tail end. Since my photos of the mural are not that clear,  please check the Loop out on Google and YouTube; it's really  interesting to view.  

The Historic Tehachapi Loop ~ Artists: John Pugh and Marc Spykerbosch ~ A portion of the mural was repainted by local artist Lyn Bennett in 2008 

The Tehachapi mountains form a barrier between the San Joaquin Valley, one of the major produce growing areas in the United States, and the Mojave Desert to points south and west. From the floor of the San Joaquin valley to the Tehachapi Pass, the mountains rise to 4,000 feet over 46 miles. When the Southern Pacific Railroad was built through the valley, it was thought it could go no further when it reached the foot of the mountains in 1875. The engineers in charge considered it an impossible task to continue the railroad up the steep mountain grade. 

Legend has it that chief engineer William Hood observed how donkeys and mules traversed the mountain in circles and got the idea for what became the famous Tehachapi Loop. What he actually did was to survey the mountain from the top rather than from the bottom. After studying the layout of the land, another version of the legend has it that one morning he staked out the two huge circles, measuring over 3,700 feet, that would become the Tehachapi Loop. In addition, 18 tunnels were built into the mountain. The railroad was built by Chinese workers; about 3,000 came from Canton, China, and many stayed in the area after the work was completed. 

Today, this is the busiest single-track mountain railway in the world. 

Considered one of the seven wonders of the railway world, the Loop is also one of the most popular trainspotting sites. Fans come from all over the world to view and photograph trains going through the Loop. What they are most interested in is to see a very long train go in through the tunnel at the bottom of the Loop, come out the other side, and then circle the actual Loop, and finally crossing over its own last cars as they move into the tunnel below. I have seen this and it is something to behold. 

People of the Mountains ~ Artist: Colleen Mitchell-Veyna, 2004

This mural depicts village life of the Tehachapi Native American tribe, the Nuwa (or Kawaiisu), before they had any contact with Europeans. In the days before the Europeans arrived,the Indians lived in villages of 60 to 100 people. They harvested plants and animals found in the mountains and deserts, and used available raw materials. As seen in the mural, the Kawaiisu made beautiful baskets and are well known today for their skill in basket weaving. They also used the Gray Rabbit Brush,   my nemesis here,to make tea, dye, and for medicinal purposes.

In 2011, Tehachapi's Kawaiisu Project received the Governor's Historical Preservation Award for its work in documenting the Kawaiisu language and culture. There is also a section devoted to the Kawaiisu in the Tehachapi museum. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

fishducky's art corner

Pen-and-Ink Drawings by Fran, aka fishducky

The details of the last two drawings are incredibly tiny and fine; they were difficult to capture in these copies of copies. The originals are stunning. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Old Family Photos

At Landsort Lighthouse, 1937 ~ My dad to the right, his brother Sven to the left, and my uncle Edvin in the middle. Uncle Edvin was the husband of my mother's sister, Margit. 

Looks like they had a great time out boating in the Stockholm archipelago.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Murals of Tehachapi, California ~ A Legend, A Flight, And A Blacksmith Shop

In early 2010, my friend Carol and I visited the small town of Exeter, California, famous for its murals. I took lots of pictures and the post that followed became quite popular. Back in 2004, our town decided it needed some murals of its own and now we have plenty. In the coming weeks, I'll post pictures of them together with a little local flavor and history.

The Legend of Avelino Martinez ~ Artist: Patti Doolittle, 2007

It's fitting that there's often a police car parked below this mural as if to keep an eye on Mr. Martinez, a cowboy who once worked for a famous outlaw. Martinez, who was of Mexican, Indian, and Chinese descent, came here from Mexico as a young boy, looking for his father. He worked as a horse groomer for the outlaw Joaquin Murrieta, and after Murrieta and his gang were captured, Martinez worked at Rancho El Tejon for almost 70 years, then finishing up his working days at Cummings Ranch in Tehachapi. Only four feet, four, Martinez was quite a character. After an evening of drinking in town, a friend would fetch, not only his pistols, but a stool, so that Martinez could mount his horse for the ride back home. 

Avelino Martinez died in 1936 at the age of 112 (some accounts state 115). He is buried at the old cemetery, and legend has it that the grave diggers got tipsy and dug his grave facing north-south, instead of east-west. His is the only grave facing in this direction.

Air Mail ~ Artist: Mark Pestana, 2007

This mural commemorates the 1938 inaugural Air Mail flight from Tehachapi to Bakersfield. The flight,in turn, marked the 20th anniversary of the first U.S. Air Mail stamp, as part of a national celebration. 

Built after the 1952 earthquake, this building now houses the Hitching Post Movie Theaters, but it was for a time the local U.S. post office, so the mural commemorates the old post office building as well.

The pilot, a Tehachapi resident, is pictured next to his plane at the Tehachapi airport, with Tehachapi Peak in the background. The airplane was a Porterfield CP-40 Zephyr and the flight went off without a hitch. The airmail envelope is addressed to the pilot, Harry Beauford, Jr., at Kern County Airport #4, which was the name of our airport in 1938

Red Front Blacksmith Shop ~ Artist: Lyn Bennett, assisted by Barbara Anderline, 2007

I grew up in a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden, on what had once been a large estate. The original manor house sat in its beautiful park, abandoned and boarded up. However, the stables, barns, and outbuildings were intact. Some of the buildings were (and still are, I believe) used for stables and an arena for a large riding school (yes, as a young girl, this was heaven for me) and the building closest to our home housed a blacksmith shop. We knew the blacksmiths and were fascinated by their work when we were children. 

So this mural holds a special meaning for me.

In addition to honoring the blacksmiths, the mural commemorates the era of cattle ranching in our mountain valleys. Many cattle ranches were spread out across the five valleys that comprise this area, and,if you look closely, you can see the cattle brands used by some of the larger ranches at the bottom of the mural. 

The real Red Front blacksmith shop was also located on this street, which is the street that the cattle and sheep would came down on their way to the stockyards,located at the railroad depot a few blocks away. 

Source: Tehachapi Visitor's Guide 2010

Please click on the link below to see my post about the murals of Exeter, California:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Samson Says: My Life As A Big Dog

Hello everyone, do you want to know what I do every day? I don't eat, that's for sure. Last month when I went to the nice vet, I weighed so much it's a state secret, but it made mommy argue with the lady and the scale, both. "Must be something wrong, he's leaning into the wall, he's not sitting still, he's on a diet," she argued, I was embarrassed at her. Little did she know that while she's had me on a diet, daddy felt sorry for me and kept giving me dog biscuits! 

When she found the empty biscuit box, she had a fit! Smoke was coming out her ears, and I had to go and hide. I don't like arguments at our house. So now we get up early and instead of hiking in the hills, we walk/run around in a big circle around the barn. We start here.

Round and round we go. "You must lose 10 pounds," she says. "You are at risk for diabetes, it's in your breed, and you have this other illness already, so we have to work out." - -Blah, blah, blah.......

See here we're at the other end. Round and round and mommy is getting pretty good, keeping up the speed. We do 10 laps, it's called laps, and mommy says we need to work up to 20 first and then see how it goes. 

It's fun at first, we always scare up all the little rabbit babies. They are terrified of me! One morning, we saw a mommy quail with a whole lot of little quail babies. They were tiny and mommy thought they were so cute. I was thinking food supplements. But then it gets boring, so I play the game of walking fast, like a good dog, then jumping in front of mommy's legs and coming to a dead stop. Heh, heh, heh!

After we get home, Soldier gets his walk, then we eat our breakfast. After that I play with Gracie 2. She needs a bath real bad, but you know who is not giving her one, so I have to lick her clean. 

After I rest, I need to go outside and, if I'm lucky, a stupid lizard will sit on the fence. They do that and that's why the are called Fence Lizards. I chase them and sometimes I get them....

but this time the lizard got away. 

Later in the day it gets hot, so I sit in my chair in front of the fan and dream of the Siberian tundra. See, that's where I'm from, well not me, I'm from Lake Elsinore, but my breed. 

You would think if someone got a dog like me while living in the desert, the least you could expect is for them to have some airconditioning! 

After I cool off, it's time to play with the magic chair. I sit on it, minding my own business, and all of a sudden, the bottom jumps up at me. It's a bit disconcerting (see, I bet you didn't think I knew a long word like that, but mommy reads a lot and I like to chew on her books ~ I learn a lot that way). I figured out I can step to the side and get off the magic chair that way.

By now it's afternoon and I'm hungry again. Since daddy and me got busted with the biscuits, there's nothing else for me to do than to go lay down on the nice new slate tile that daddy installed and hope dinnertime isn't too far away. 

It's so cool and nice, I love to sleep here in my corner. You can see our new carpet here too. Those are not spots, it's just the way it looks. It's very pretty and no one has made a mess on it. Yet!

Have a nice day everyone!

Posted by Samson, the Samoyed Dog.


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