Friday, December 29, 2006

Sunset After The Storm

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After much rain, fog, mud and muck for several days over Christmas, we finally got clearing skies this past Tuesday only to be smacked with 75 mile per hour winds at 1:15 AM on Wednesday.

The wind knocked down trees (again), took out power lines and, this time, the Internet cable.

Our power is back on now and last night we were rewarded with this beautiful sunset for all our troubles.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Winter Solstice!

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Jack Frost has been at it again! This time on the grill cover.

Blooming "Razzle-Dazzle", covered with frost.

A frosty Rosa rugosa looks as though it's been sprinkled with sugar.

Today, at exactly 7:22 PM, the Winter Solstice will occur,
marking the beginning of Winter and also the lengthening of days.

This makes me happy.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Orchid

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It was at this time of year, a year or so before my friend Gloria died, that she and her husband Bill came up here for a visit. She and I had gone to the local grocery store where Gloria spied a beautiful, locally propagated orchid plant, in full bloom.

We admired it as we got in line to pay for our groceries. Then, as I was taking the bags out to the car, Gloria came out of the store with the orchid in her hand. "Here," she said in her no-nonsnese way, thrusting the pot at me, "Merry Christmas."

The orchid continued to bloom for a full month after that, making me smile and cry at the same time as I looked at it and thought of her and the fight that was ahead of her. She lost that battle a year and a half later.
My orchid only bloomed the one time, going dormant no matter what I did to keep it growing.

Told that these specific orchids do well outside in our rather temperate weather, I put it out on the front steps, watering it sporadically. It survived but didn't thrive. Then an orchid grower told me to spray it with water daily. Just a bit, but do it daily. I did.

A few years went by, then several weeks ago while weeding the front flower bed, I saw that the orchid had put out 5 flower stems with big, fat buds growing along each stem.

Elated, I brought it into the house, babied it, talked to it, put it outside again when there was a warm rain to wash its leaves, brought it back in and babied it some more.

Five days ago it began to bloom. Just in time for Christmas.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Little Darlings

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Aren't they sweet? Looking for all the world like heads bowing in adoration... for eachother. These are Darlingtonia and they live in a pot set about 4 inches into my half-barrel water pond which receives south-west sunlight.

Don't be deceived by their amorous aspects. Also known as Cobra Lily, these guys are carnivores, trapping unwary insects through an opening under their hoods. Once an insect enters, it cannot escape and is consumed by the plant.

Native to the Northern California mountains and Oregon, they are hard to cultivate outside their native habitat. I feel lucky to have such a collection of these creatures in my yard.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas In Trinidad

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When I was a child growing up in Davis, my mother collected a whole village of tiny, paper houses that were painted delicate pastel colors, their roofs draped with clear glitter-embossed white paint evoking snow. The windows were covered with transparent cellophane and there was a hole in the back of each house where a christmas light could be inserted to light up the inside, making the entire village a glowing, magical place where the imagination of a child could soar.
Each year at Christmas, my mother would place this village on a billowing, white, fluffy cotton material that she spread under the tree, making tree-lined avenues, ponds for skaters and copses of woods with tiny green fir trees for a few curious spotted deer. To me it was absolute magic. I wanted to be very small so I could live in one of those houses, skip down the streets and roam with the deer who, of course, would be my friends.
Over the years, those paper houses slowly deteriorated, the little pine trees lost their vibrant green color and fell apart, until only a few remained to remind us now grown-up kids of that long-ago magic.
Then, several years ago, someone, probably about my age with similar memories of his or her own childhood Christmases, began reproducing the houses, the trees, the ponds. I was ecstatic. Until I looked at the price tags. How could I spend so much on just one house when I had a large extended family to buy gifts for? I couldn't. I moved on.
When we went to New England this fall, while in Newburyport, MA, I happened to walk into a store that was already decked out for the holidays, and there they were: affordable, adorable village houses, so very reminiscent of the ones my mother used to put under our family Christmas trees.
Knowing I would have to hand carry these back to California, I carefully chose two of my favorites and now here they are, nestled in "snow" and surrounded by a few of the trees and one pond mirror from my childhood's Christmases; lined up on the windowsill that looks out over the pathway to our house, welcoming all who approach with a warm twinkle of lights and the magic of my childhood memories that dwell within.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Winter Blooms

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Photographed yesterday and this morning, there's always something blooming in my garden. Take a look.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Full Moon At Sunset

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Monday, December 4, 2006

The full moon rose at 4:50 pm with the sun setting soon thereafter.

I'm told this doesn't happen very often; that the full moon rises before the sun sets.

These photos were taken from the lighthouse overlook platform on Trinidad Head and are shown in sequential order.

I was able to stand in one spot, just off the platform, and turn southwest to shoot the sun then look northeast to shoot the moon. It was sooo cool.

More photos of Trinidad Head and surroundings may be viewed here.