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Water, Water Everywhere~

And not a drop to drink. I can relate to The Ancient Mariner.

The Holler flooded with nice cold drinking water while we were away visiting the baby grand-twins. A faulty refrigerator filter was the culprit. There are 84 industrial fans and scores of dehumidifiers running our electrical bill through the roof. We do, thankfully, have insurance.

The damage is legion,

causing me to dream at night of waves,

and sea creatures.

When the dream waves became violent,

and the creatures creepy,

I knew it was time for a change of scenery. (We are thankful for family members willing to stay and monitor The Holler).

So now we are in the desert, where the temperatures are hovering around 105F which is cool for summer in the desert and thunderstorms are in the forecast. I love the desert in the summer, and in all the years I have been coming here, I have never seen a summer desert thunderstorm. The clouds are forming and I can’t wait! So, bring on the water….

Cheers to you from the soon to be sodden desert~

Floribunda~

The flower is
the stem’s cry of beauty
to the universe.
-Vassilis Comporozos

Thimbleberry flower, Washington State.

These pink and red poppies

were also found bursting in bloom in Washington state.

We can’t grow peonies at The Holler, but I buy them in season,

to display in bouquets.

Holler white rose.

Holler sweet peas.

We had loads of blooms this year due to the wonderful rain.

Rhododendron Washington State.

Cheers to you from summer’s smiling flowers~

Bird on a Wire~

Ospreys aren’t usually avid people watchers.

But this guy was!

He couldn’t hide his cross-eyed curiosity about the strange human looking up at him.

Eventually, he resumed more raptor-like disdain,

and went about the serious business of people ignoral.

He focused on anything but the nosy photographer.

Finally, my presence outlived his patience,

and off he flew in a rapturous huff!

Cheers to you from the people-watching osprey~

Flow River Flow~

The Holler is getting hammered by storm after storm. This is the view looking north from our back patio, taken on Valentines Day as The Holler was being hit with the most massive rain storm. You can see raindrops on the lens. My iphone sent me 6 flash-flood warnings in 24 hours.

Here is the lower pasture being chewed up by the little creek which turned into a rapid-filled, raging river. The pasture gate is the white structure in the back left of the photo. It partially collapsed in the onslaught.


The river flows.
It flows to the sea.
Wherever that river goes,
that’s where I want to be.
Flow river flow,
past the shaded tree.
Go river, go, to the sea.

(Lyrics: The Byrds)

We hiked along the creek in the pouring rain on Valentines Day. You can see my son by the oxbow, to give you perspective on how big the creek is. It was thirty feet wide at some sections and was carrying logs and trees along like matchsticks!

Our rain gauge kept over-filling at 6 inches, and more storms are on the horizon.

Southern California is getting more snow than Boston, and the Sierras have the biggest snowpack in the country.

This is The Holler looking east this morning. It is still snowing in the mountains, which are obscured by clouds, but there is sunshine here today, with more rain forecasted.

And this is the view to the west. Our multi-year drought is finally over!! Cheers to you from the very wet, and very happy, Holler~

Hiking the Holler~

The Holler is surrounded by thousands of empty acres.

It has many oak groves, and permanent and seasonal creeks running through it.

900 of these acres are set aside as a permanent nature preserve, and many more 1000’s of acres are still free from human development.

There are no hiking trails or public access, but we live adjacent to the preserve and hike it several times a week.

The Holler was first settled in the 1890’s and consisted of 2,700 acres. It was a working ranch for much of its history. Crumbling fences and old ranch dirt roads remain. We hike the dirt roads, and game trails, which are everywhere.

This is the lower pasture below our house, and this is where we access the preserve.

Since people are not here, The Holler is full of wildlife and has an entirely different feel from hiking in parks that people frequent. This natural ecosystem is unique for over-developed Southern California.

We see oodles of tracks, coyotes, bobcat, cougar, raccoon, but no deer. There are no deer because there are too many predators for them to survive. There are lots of kill sites and bones scattered around, but I will spare you photos of these, even though I have them.

And of course there are hundreds of birds! Cheers to you from the still wild Holler~

Enraptured~

Elusive raptors,

rarely let you near.

When they do,

you are enraptured.

Melanistic red tail hawks have more melanin or pigment in their feathers than other hawks making them distinctive. It used to be thought these morphological distinctions were an isolated variant, but now scientists are noticing behavioral differences associated with the changes in feather color.

Melanistic hawks typically let me get much closer than other hawks and I wonder if this might be due to behavioral differences associated with their color variance. After all, it is often true, those who are different, are also braver!

Cheers to you from the brave and different hawks~

Bluebirds of Happiness~

Western Bluebirds live at The Holler, but basically never visit The Holler Spa.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when these beauties showed up in force!

I am convinced they came,

as bluebirds of happiness,


to wish you a very Merry Christmas and even Happier New Year!

To you and yours this season,

and into the New Year,

Cheers from The Holler~

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluebird_of_happiness

Herbert!

You may remember Herbert, the feral kitten we adopted about seven months ago from the wonderful organization, “Love Your Feral Felines.”

 Here he is all ‘growed’ up, and definitely a most important member of the family! 

If it weren’t for ‘Love Your Feral Felines,’ Herbert would have been euthanized. He is such an amazing, social and loving cat, and he always looks you straight in the eye! We are very grateful to have him.

Herbert enjoys being my secretary cat, but has difficulty following directions. (This reminds me of all my report cards from elementary school, and I still, proudly, have this problem).

Herbert goes through kleenex like nobody’s business. (Now my husband will know why he is buying me so many boxes of kleenex. He thought it was my allergies.) You can’t keep secrets when you blog…….

Here he is being “King of the Fountain,” in his own private courtyard!

Cheers to you from ever vigilant Herbert, the no longer feral cat~

Waders~

Wading Birds like this oystercatcher are fascinating to watch. I photographed this American Oystercatcher in South America.

This Black Oystercatcher, near The Holler, was a rare sighting.


California has about 668 species of birds. The Holler, and nearby environs alone, account for approximately 500 of them, including a variety of waders. Little Blue Herons can be found near the coast, and are seen less often, closer to The Holler.

Majestic Great Blue Herons are common.

They sometimes show up at our front door!

Sandhill Cranes stand over four feet tall and are further afield.

They winter at The Salton Sea.

Snowy Egrets are everywhere. This guy was near the coast.

His green crab lunch was a bit crabby and hard to swallow!

Cheers to you from The Holler’s wonderful waders~

The Canadians Are Coming~

I have heard quite a few Americans talking about moving to Canada, (including yours truly on occasion).  But I never hear Canadians talking about emigrating to the USA.  So I was very surprised when these guys showed up in force on Holler lakes. They haven’t been here before.

I also rarely see Canadians squabble amongst each other, but these guys certainly do! We were hanging out with a congenial group of happy gooseys, when all of a sudden, an invading nautical army launched themselves across the lake, to drive the peaceful gooseys away!

Come to think of it, they do kinda remind me, just a bit, of Canadian hockey players……

Anyhoo, the hockey player geese certainly did not hesitate to ram their way ashore and displace the more peaceful gooseys. 

There was lots of hissing and honking, shoving, and general mayhem, just like a hockey game!


The peaceful gooseys were so upset by this hostile behavior, they just packed up their picnics, and swam away. I knew just how they felt. I tend to respond, to even a hint of conflict, in the exact same way.


The smartest goose of all, stayed away from everyone, hung out by himself, and took a nap on the hiking trail.


He made friends with my son, smart goose.


I suspect the fires up north confused these gooseys and they decided to fly further south and check out the real estate. Apparently, they liked what they saw, cuz’ there are a whole bunch of them here! I hope they decide to stay all winter, and come back every year, because I love Canadians! 

Cheers to you from The Holler’s new Canadians~