Southern California, Coachella, and being *less* stubborn.

 

Sometimes it can take a while to think about a trip and fully understand your thoughts about it. What you returned home liking could be very different from what you expected to like, and this was the case with my recent trip to Southern California.

To start with, this was my first trip to California, which most people find shocking. The truth is that I never really cared to go. Well, of course I want to visit EVERYWHERE, but it was never at the top of my list.  Places like The Badlands of South Dakota, Bar Harbor, Maine and St. Joseph, Missouri top my list, so it’s clear that Los Angeles would be the outlier if included.

The entire trip was beyond my comfort zone. We were attending Coachella (the huge music festival) in the desert, with lots of people. Heat, sun and crowds are normally my kriptonite, but I knew I would appreciate the experience, especially since we would hopefully get to see wind farms and some neat 50’s architecture in Palm Springs.

There are so many things to post about this trip, so I’ll touch on a few of the high points for me – the unexpected things that made the trip memorable.

#1. Los Angeles.  Really I didn’t get to experience LA, so these are a few brief and superficial thoughts until I get to visit again.  Los Angeles really is very smoggy. Yes, I’ve heard this before, and expected it, but seeing it was another thing all together.   The  iconic Theme Building at LAX has been on my architecture bucket list for a while, so thankfully I was able to get some glimpses of it.  Overall, LAX chaos made me appreciate Atlanta’s Hartsfield orderly chaos a bit more.

#2. Chino Hills.  While we didn’t get to stop and spend any time here, I made note of how pretty the hills were in this area.  In the same way that marshy coastal Georgia fascinates me as the murky transition from ocean to land, this area seemed to reflect the transition from the greener coast to the east and the desert in the west. Literally one hill would be green and the next desert.  I would imagine there are some good hiking spots around there.

#3. Palm Springs.  My expectation for Palm Springs was completely off. I expected a late 50’s version of lifestyles of the rich and famous, but found some beautiful houses and “normal” people. Most of the people we met seemed to be from somewhere else and had moved there to pursue happiness. At the grocery store I came across a guy wearing a West Virginia tee-shirt! I excitedly asked him if he was from West Virginia (who else would be wearing a WV shirt?) and he excitedly asked “Is this West Virginia?!?” as he pointed to his shirt.  I quickly retreated from the situation as Vacation Day 1 was too early to give someone the stink eye.  Our rental in Palm Springs was one of the most beautiful homes I’ve stayed in.  It’s recent renovation that calls on the areas mid-century designs. Small, but open and well designed. We stayed in the casita by the pool, which was a welcome change from the craziness at Coachella.  Staying at this house and lounging by the pool warrants its own vacation.

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#4. Wind Farms. I love wind farms. Seriously, I love wind farms. The design most turbines is sculptural and beautiful. Green energy is wonderful. The uniform movement does something for me that I find hard to explain. Obsessed? Maybe. Then when you put them in formation with others it’s an even greater experience. The play on size and space and perspective as they stretch across the valley reminds me alot of the art of Christo and Jean-Claude (another obsession).  Did I mention that I love wind farms?

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#4. Coachella. Wow.  Just wow. Basically Coachella is about cramming as much art and music as possible into two weekends, and then braving the heat, sun and partying to see your favorite acts.  If you knew me better, you would be surprised to see me going to this event. It’s the opposite of everything I usually like, but it was awesome!  I’ll even go so far as to say that its one of the best times I’ve had in years. I loved it, and am so glad that I didn’t try to wiggle my way out of the trip, which did cross my mind.  Yes, I was exhausted, tired, and a good bit older than the others attending, but it seemed well-organized and the people were friendly. Everyone was mellow and were just happy to be there.

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In hindsight, this trip was about comfort zones and trying new things, but also open-mindedness and being able to admit being wrong and then embracing it. I could have  (and in the past have) made an excuse not to go, or could have (and in the past have) been too stubborn to enjoy myself since I didn’t expect to. But I didn’t do those things, and had a wonderful time.

Lesson learned.

Could this be a Native American trail tree?

Have you ever seen a Native American trail tree?  Native Americans would alter trees in order to mark trails to important locations. It’s fascinating that they still exist in the forest and can be found today.  According to this Mother News Network article, “these markers were used to designate trails, crossing points on streams, medicinal sites to find plants, and areas of significance like council circles.”

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A few weeks ago, dad and I went down to Lake Horton, Georgia to do some fishing. Just off the main road to the lake, at a prominent intersection, there was a tree that looks exactly like a trail tree! 

It’s not a large tree, so I wonder if it’s even old enough to be altered by Native Americans.  A few searches on the internet yielded no information, so if anyone knows how to further research this please let me know. Though I would love for this to be a trail tree, it’s not likely. Still, its fun to think that it could be.

A sweet gift – honey from Grandpas farm.

Can you believe the color in this thirty-year old jar of honey?

Dad came to visit last week and brought two jars of honey that grandpa jarred for the family.  They are still beautiful.  It’s probable that they are the last from grandpas bee gums.  He’s been gone many years and I assumed all the honey was eaten long gone also. Sometimes I want to open the honey and eat it a dozen ways, and other times I feel like I should put it on a shelf and keep it forever.

Maybe eat one and save one?

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Bye bye, bluebirds.

Over the last week the young bluebirds have been much more curious about what lies outside of the birdhouse.  Even as we sat on the deck, within 6 or so feet of the box, they would hang their heads out of the box to check us out. Today they seemed more interested in the cardinals, catbirds, and other birds eating suet nearby, and before long one was standing in the entrance, thinking about flying off.

All three ended up leaving within a few hours. The first two I watched, but the last one was shy (leading to the nickname Shy-a la Bird,  which is probably not funny to anyone other than me), so I set up the camera and left him alone.

The video quality impressed me as it was zoomed to the max and resting against a dirty window about 8′ from the bird house.

Good luck blue birds!

 

Old tools: What’s a corn shucking peg?

Today’s post is about an old wooden corn peg that my dad gave me a few years back. His good friend, an old man in Abraham, WV gave him to him before he passed away. He used the peg to shuck corn from the field next to his house. Grandpa Collins also had a cornfield. As a kid I remember seeing his truck parked next to busy roads selling bushels of corn to people driving by. The peg has become one of my favorites because it connect memories of dad, grandpa and the old man in Abraham. (The gentleman in Abraham had a name, but I honestly don’t remember it – I only remember hearing him referred to as “the old man”.)

Back to the corn peg, the peg is basically a pointed piece of wood with a strap on it that would go around your middle finger. The sharp end would be used to pierce the husk on a ripe ear of corn, allowing you to more easily pull the corn from the stalk. While researching, I came across this article on Catherine’s Corner website that was interesting.  Once of the family stories is of the harvest and using corn pegs.

Another new development for this post – VIDEO!  This is my first video, so don’t judge too harshly. You can tell I haven’t shucked corn since moving to Georgia, but you get the point. Hope you all enjoy.

 

 

Monday’s garden haul.

 

I’ve been lazy and haven’t maintained the garden like I should. It’s a good thing some people farm without weeding, so there’s a convenient excuse I can use if anyone sees the mess in the backyard.

This week the jalapenos, banana peppers and cherry tomatoes were producing most. Cabbage and brussels sprouts are looking horrible, so they will be removed to make way for more peppers and tomatoes that dad bought for his garden, but forgot here. (Thanks dad!)

It’s worth pointing out that many of the tomatoes in the photo above are from the plant mentioned in my “the little tomato that could” post from back in the winter. It came up late in the fall, lived in my bedroom over the winter, and was planted in the garden in spring.  Read more – The little tomato that could.

Hopefully later today I will pick beans and bring in some more garlic and onions to dry. I’m researching the best ways to do this, so if you have ideas let me know in comments.

Be good!

 

 

A tale of two kitties.

Folks in the neighborhood know that I am a sucker for an animal in need, and this week, due to my friend/petsitter/enabler, I ended up taking care of a tiny black kitten. It was found sitting in the middle of the road, covered with mud and cold from the nights rain. It was covered with pests, and was very weak. The petsitter cleaned her up and named her Mazey, and started to look for a foster to take her in.  None was found, so she came to our house for a few days. I’m allergic to cats, so I reluctantly agreed.  Mazey came over, got settled and the next day we ventured to the friends vet for an exam.

As I sat there, unemployed, and now with a kitten, a woman walked into the clinic. She was holding a small kitten away from her body as if she was scared of it. I overheard her tell the receptionist that it was found in the road near the clinic, and had been hit by a car. Both of its back legs were twisted.

The clinic advised her that they are not allowed to take drop offs. They provided the number to animal control, and the woman asked “Should I just put it back outside in the rain?”.  She laid the kitten down on the ground as I called another vet to see if they had advise. The cat crawled past me, fairly quickly, and that’s when I realized the legs were not broken, they were misshapen, but didn’t hinder the cat’s mobility.

Of course I offered to deal with the kitten. Now I found myself unemployed and with two sick kittens to handle.

Little Mazey, the black stray that was found in the road, unfortunately didn’t make it. She was so weak and scrawny. Despite glucose, fluids and antibiotics she didn’t make it. Her little body had been through too much before we got to her. She loved curling up in an old winter hat (see pic below). After feeding her, she sat with me and purred, then shortly after she passed.

Little Murphy, (see the headline photo) though dehydrated, has been doing well.  He is eating well, is very mouthy and is very loving. He scoots around the house and is very curious. Most websites refer to his condition as twisted leg syndrome or Flexural Tendon Contracture. At this state, it really doesn’t seem to affect him. He has always been this way, so I guess he does not realize he is different. He “walks” on the knee area of his leg, and amazingly has learned to balance his weight on his front legs. It’s amazing to me that he can do this at 3ish weeks old. He starts by walking, speeds up, then his rear end will rise up over as he walks on his front legs. Its adorable.

There are many animals that get this syndrome. They can live very happy lives, but there are treatments such as exercises and splints that can help correct the position of the legs. For now, the little guy has gone to live with a friend in the neighborhood that fosters cats. He is retired and instantly fell in love with Murphy.

I wont lie – I grew attached to Murphy, but as is sit here with puffy eyes and an odd rash on my side, I am thankful that he has found someone who can help him get the care he needs.

If you would like to know more about twisted leg syndrome, this article published by the Animal Medical Center of Southern California.