Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fangorn Forest

When a college student’s laptop takes it’s last breath and there’s a 7-cent balance in his checking account, life isn’t good. Fortunately, a loaner-laptop was available for use; unfortunately, it was at home, not school. For the second weekend in a row, Mom’s Delivery Service to the rescue (and another trip to the Fangorn Forest as reward!)

Remember the Lord of the Rings (Movie) Trilogy? Definitely a favorite, funny how an unexpected trigger can bring back fond memories. My son was in his early teens when the first LOTR movie was released. He saw it with friends then insisted that I see it too. Instantly hooked, I could hardly wait to see the next two movies. The characters; wonderful acting; interesting images; classic good vs. evil; Sam, my favorite hobbit; how could I possibly forget?

After stopping at the University on Saturday, this Pixie headed uphill to fish and to enjoy the Western Junipers. Thick and twisted with age, these trees are able to survive flash floods while protecting the soil from erosion. Jeffrey Pines are tall, majestic, and favorite homes to Western Gray Squirrels. (Smell the bark to enjoy a delicious aroma of vanilla.) Pinyon Pines, California Black Oaks, and Willows round out my version of the Fangorn Forest.....

Notice too, the smile:-)

A felled tree once blocked this trail, so forestry workers removed the offending portion. Exposed ends were turned into opposing seats (resting places for weary hikers). The worker with a sense of humor (and creativity) carved a happy face on one seat (not quite Treebeard of The Two Towers fame, but cute!). Yes, the forest can be magical....

Let us not forget the Monty Python song either....LOL

Monday, September 22, 2008

Take a Hike!

Normally, Moms get a little frustrated when their college-student children are forgetful or disorganized (especially in regards to moving back to the dorm). This year I was kinda glad when my son forgot some items, because I got to take a hike;)

Mom’s Delivery Service made the trip to Redlands early Saturday morning. Hugs and kisses for my little one, here’s your stuff, let me use your bathroom, and then See Mom Run! Highway 38 (aka the back way to Big Bear) was calling me!

Fifty-plus miles of scenic driving from Redlands to Big Bear Lake (which the City of Redlands owns, BTW). The road makes a fairly steep ascent once it passes the turn-off to Forest Falls, and climbs to over 9000-feet before dropping into Big Bear City (6700-feet). This stretch of highway passes through Angelus Oaks and Barton Flats, with a side loop to Jenks Lake, and many campgrounds, dirt roads and hiking trails to be found along the way.

The Big Bear area has lots to offer, but today we visited the Discovery Center then donned the hiking boots to search for critters. The Acorn Woodpeckers were busy, as were lizards, squirrels, and even a couple of Gray Foxes. I was hoping to see hummingbirds, especially the Calliope Hummingbird. It’s North America's smallest bird and is usually found at the higher elevations of the western mountains. We heard hummingbirds, but as we approached, they became quiet. (Mountain hummingbirds must be shyer than their urban cousins.) Obviously there for the flowers, Hummingbird Trumpet was in bloom everywhere!

Summer is waning and ski operators are probably praying for early snows, but this trip to our local mountains was perfect. Hmmmmm. Wonder what the child will need delivered next weekend? ;)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tomato Summer

While I’m not one to be a loyal planter of veggie gardens, every Spring I plant tomatoes (except the few years that “volunteers” have saved me;) It’s tradition. My ritual. Home-grown ‘maters to eat and share. Yum!

In the past, we have grown various varieties, but lately my choice has been Grape tomatoes, namely, Roma Grapes. No knives needed, they are the perfect size for salads or snacks. This year produced a bountiful harvest, so I’m trying this roasted tomato recipe. The aroma in the kitchen is wonderful....

Our little section of Southern California stays pretty mild year round, so tomato plants can be wintered over with some luck and plastic “pup tents”:) Kinda cheating, don’t you think? Turn, Turn, Turn. To everything, There is a season.....A time to plant, a time to reap.

Soon I will join Autumn for some house-cleaning. Her winds will strip the trees of leaves while I empty the planting beds, say goodbye to the stragglers, and store the cages till next year...

Come Spring, I will ritualize...once again;)

Friday, September 5, 2008

One Tough Old Bird...

My Daddy;)
He will celebrate his 80th birthday in January of 2009.....

“Johnsons” are tough....especially the ones from Northwestern Iowa. The eldest of six children, he lost his mom when he was only 14 years old. The family struggled financially so he had to work on neighboring farms for his room and board while finishing high school.

Now he’s a retired LA County Fireman who plays golf twice a week in Chino Hills, California with fellow retirees. Last week he was finishing the back nine, pulled the flag pin for a fellow golfer, and passed out. Initially, the other golfers thought he had fallen, but he knew otherwise. In pain, he played four more holes (including a bogey on a par 4) and rode the last two. His reasoning to me: “Terri! I had such a great front nine, I just couldn’t quit!”

The pain became unbearable the last couple of holes and his friends wanted to summon help, but he refused. His friend John wanted to drive him home. No! He would drive himself, and did so....the entire 35 miles. When my mother arrived home, she found him in excruciating pain and wanted to call 911. No!

He took his carotid pulse and noticed a flutter, so finally agreed to go to the Emergency Room. Diagnosis: Four broken ribs, numbers 5, 6, 7 & 8 with indications of heart issues and a collapsing left lung. He spent two nights in the hospital.

Initial tests indicate that his heart is good, but he’ll have a chemical stress test next week to see how it reacts under a load. Partial blockages in the subclavian artery will need to be dealt with too.

My dad is my hero. He gave me the Johnson-gene of exploration and adventure; an appreciation and respect of nature and the outdoors; a love of birds; and, hopefully, he shared just a little bit of his tough gene too;)

But right now, he's just itchin' to play a little more cow-pasture pool!