Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Soggy Solstice

We've received 17 inches of rain in these mountains in the past three days. The biggest of the three storms is supposed to arrive late tonight, with up to 2 inches of rain an hour falling. That's a LOT OF RAIN. Along with all that rain and snow there will be wind gusts of 65 miles per hour.

Roads are closed all over the mountains, with several closures on Hwy 18, the main road to access most of the mountain communities. The pictures below were not taken by me because I'm just not going out in this mess. (I deal much better with snow than rain). I got them from the Internet, from the sites http://www.rimoftheworld.net/ and http://www.abc7.com/

The photo above is Hwy 18 (Michael P. Neufeld, photographer). This is really dangerous since there is roughly a 1,000 foot drop beyond the guardrail.

This is the only road in to, and out of, Forest Falls. The people who live there aren't going anywhere for a while...

I have a feeling a lot of us won't be going anywhere for a while!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mid-December Magic

There are frost flowers blooming tonight, the waxing gibbous moon adding her magic to the ephemeral magic of the Frost Faeries.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Making Merry in Mouseford Falls

Well, of course they're making merry! They're all ready for Christmas. Trees decorated, presents wrapped and placed under said trees, houses decorated, baking done, perfect snowfall, children happily skating and sledding, carolers singing in beautiful harmony, and Santa poised to make his big entry.

But...that's not quite the way it is in my world. The ground is mostly bare, it's really foggy, no snow in the forecast (unless one happens to live above 8,000 feet, which I do not), none of my presents are wrapped, my baking is only about one-quarter done, and MY Santa (also known as my husband) fell off the roof yesterday!! Thankfully he was only up on the porch roof, and not the third story roof, so he got off with only scrapes, bruises, and a wife who had a near-miss with cardiac arrest.

Oh, and my tree? Well, it's only partially decorated, thanks to this little person:

Darling Miss Rita Mae MoonSparkle. However, I've recently found out her real name is Rita Mae the Tree Terminator. In the photo above, she is actually chewing on the tree branch and every time I put an ornament on the tree she takes it off and HIDES IT UNDER THE COUCH!!!

And not a caroler in sight. Only the editor of the local newspaper, who showed up dressed as Santa. Don't ask.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I See You

This Red Tailed Hawk is letting me know that he (or she...who can tell?) sees me.
I think it might actually be posing! "OK, left profile."

"Now, right profile. Am I not a gorgeous bird?"
Well yes you are, but I think you might also be the reason I haven't seen very many birds at my feeders lately.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sculpting and Sniffling

Today the high temp is 50 F! The snow is almost all gone, although a little more is predicted for Sunday and Monday. But down by the creek, on the north side which is shaded even in summer and just plain dark for most of the day at this time of year, the trees are still wearing their ice jewels. If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you can see how the wind has sculpted the ice on each individual needle into an interesting shape. Some of the wind's sculptures are round, some are knife blade thin, some are wavy. I wonder if the wind has as much fun sculpting as I do when I'm making a painting?

I'm also wondering if the crazy up and down temperatures are responsible for this darn head cold I've been battling for 22 DAYS now. It's the worst head cold I've had in years, and it just won't go away! Grrrrr...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's All Relative

All these gorgeous leaves are gone now. Winter, even though it won't officially arrive until December 21st, is holding us firmly in its ice gloved hand.
These two Band Tailed Pigeons weren't bothered by the small amount of snow (4 or 5 inches instead of the foot of snow the weather people had predicted) we received last week. What was bothering them was the lack of peanuts on the feeding tray. The look they're giving me most definitely says, "WELL? What are you waiting for? Get those peanuts out here NOW!"
The temperatures have been unseasonably cold, with highs for the past several days only reaching the low 20's Fahrenheit (-6 to -3 Celsius) and low temperatures dropping to as low as 4 degrees below zero (-20 Celsius). Add 30 mile an hour winds to those temperatures and that equals BRRRRRRR!
This morning when I opened the door to go battle the ice on the animals' water bowls I was pleasantly surprised by how warm it felt. I went back inside and opened a few windows to let the fresh air into the house and happened to glance at the thermometer on my way outside again.
The temperature was 39 degrees Fahrenheit (3 Celsius).
I guess it's all relative...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Table

This is what the table looked like yesterday (Thanksgiving).
For once, I remembered to take some pictures before we sat down
to eat our feast. Usually I'm rushing around so much I forget, but this
year we were only four; my husband, my sister, my friend Kathleen, and myself.   Different, but nice nonetheless...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Keeping Memories

This is the roasting pan that belonged to my grandmother, then my mother and now me. It is incredibly heavy, and even though the outside enameling has a few chips here and there, it still works great. It is the pan that roasts our Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys every year. It's certainly not the most valuable thing they left me, but it is one of the most treasured because it holds so many memories. Just think of the tales it could tell if it could speak. The kitchens, full of various female relatives helping with the cooking, children underfoot, and the roasting pan sitting there listening to everything that was said. Oh, my.

Every time I lift it to put it in the oven I think of my grandmother, using it to roast a turkey in a wood burning stove as a young married woman, later using, as she described them, "one of them newfangled gas things that might could blow us to Kingdom Come any minute," and my mother, who cooked with stoves pretty similar to the ones of today.

I have several serious health issues, but when I lift that pan, which usually has a 25 pound turkey in it, it seems light. I wonder if that is because... just maybe...my grandma and mama are right there lifting it with me?

I like to think so.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chasing the Colors

I took this photo around the first of November. I just cannot get enough of Autumn's colors when they're showing off in the late afternoon, or early morning sun. The light is so fleeting, and shooting locations are so numerous, that I spend as much time as I can, over a space of several weeks, chasing the colors down the mountain.

Autumn first appears the last week of September or the first week of October in and around Big Bear, starting at the 7,500 foot altitude.

The Big Bear Valley doesn't have a lot of indigenous trees that turn really bright colors, since mostly pines grow at that altitude. Most trees that do show color, like the ones in the photo above, have been planted and maintained by residents and businesses.

By mid-November I finish up down around Lake Silverwood, at an altitude of a little over 3,000 feet, which doesn't have a lot of trees or plants that are colorful either, and not many pines or cedars. (There used to be a lot of Douglas Firs and Western Red Cedars, but they burned in the devastating 2003 fires). However, there is still beauty to be captured in the sere, faded grasses and seed heads, along with the occasional oak tree.

I feel so lucky to be able to prolong Autumn by following her down through the altitude changes. By doing that, I'm able to see her colors for almost 6 weeks!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Sunsets - A World Away

Photo taken November 10, 2010, near Redlands, CA

Well, actually this is only a 45 minute drive from the mountains that I live in, but in terms of climate, vegetation, pollution, terrain, crime and a vast difference in population numbers, it may as well be a world away! Every time I drive down from the mountains, it makes me aware of what a lovely, fragile little bubble we who are fortunate enough to live up here inhabit.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Switching Seasons

We've been getting torrents of rain, sleet, hail, and snow all last night and all day today. Hooray! Fire season is OVER! But, just to be on the safe side, I'm knocking on wood anyway. With Climate Change unchecked, and unlikely to be so, who knows what the weather will do?

We're supposed to get nearly a foot of snow tomorrow - or did the weather man say Sunday? I just saw the report a little over an hour ago, you'd think I could remember! Oh, well. I'm not going to be too hard on myself because I've spent the last hour trudging back and forth from the cottage to the storage/potting shed. Husband and I have been bringing in Christmas decorations. Usually I leave the autumn things up until after Thanksgiving in the dining room and kitchen and just get the living room decorated for Christmas, but this year H said he didn't feel like doing it in two shifts, so...

I'm glad I collected a lot of colorful leaves before this storm came in, and I still have some real pumpkins and gourds which I rescued from him just before he put them in the trash. At least I can make a harvest-themed centerpiece for the table. And I have the autumn dinnerware...oh, no. I hope he didn't swap it out for the Christmas china!

Ahhh...caught him just in time!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Faeries Friday - Fleur

In the warm months, Fleur lives high up in the Dogwood tree outside my studio. Obviously, this photo was taken in the summer. Several days ago, I moved all of the Faeries that were outside into my studio for the winter...except for Fleur. I forgot about her! She's pretty ticked at me, and who could blame her?

My husband is also ticked; it's starting to rain here and I remembered that I hadn't brought her in when I was looking for a picture to post for 'Faeries Friday.' He just spent 15 minutes out in the rain, in the dark, high up on a ladder rescuing Fleur. I can't blame him for being ticked at me, either; but I have a feeling he'll get over it far faster than Fleur will, thanks to the mug of hot tea, a plate of fresh baked cookies and lavish gratitude and praise.

None of these things would work with Fleur, although I did apologize profusely as I was drying her off. So I expect there will be Faerie mischief going on in my studio for several weeks. Because, even though they seem to be little statues, everyone who knows anything about Faeries know they come to life when we're not looking!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Good Idea? Bad Idea?

I found this picture on a magazine web site (I think maybe it was Country Living). Cute idea, huh? Although I don't think the birds would think so, since they're used to having water in their birdbaths! Maybe they'd let me borrow just one to put next to the doorway on Thanksgiving. They have eleven others to drink from, plus the creek...

If there are no postings from me after Thanksgiving, you'll know they took offence to me 'stealing' one of their birdbaths and decided to behave like the birds in the famous Hitchcock movie. Ha. Like they'd kill their source of peanuts and suet cakes. They wouldn't...would they???

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I never tire of just sitting and watching how the sun illuminates and changes the look of the forest as it moves across the sky. In all seasons, the shifting, changing light can make me see familiar things in a brand new way, but I think this effect might be at its most spectacular in autumn. This tree is bare now, the leaves strewn carelessly here and there by the wind. But I think she knows that, after a brief sleep, her glory will return in the spring when she is covered in hundreds of creamy pearl white blossoms, then the emerald leaves of summer and then, once again, the ephemeral citrine, peridot, topaz and ruby jewels of autumn.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Delicious Autumn

"Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns." George Eliot

I took this on a foggy-day walk through the woods. We've had so many foggy, even rainy, days this autumn.  I'm hoping this weather is just a preview of a wet, snowy winter!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Little Gifts

I found these artfully arranged by the side of the path while walking to my studio this morning. Little gifts like this from Mother Nature always brighten my day!

It felt so good to get back into my studio. I've been driving up and down the 'hill' (mountain) to Redlands for the past several days to take my sister to various appointments. It's a lovely town, full of old Victorian houses and charming Craftsmen bungalows, but it's 45 miles (one way) from my home. I used think nothing of making the 90 mile round trip five days a week for work, and then getting a couple hours of painting done when I got home, but that was back when I was in my twenties. Several decades do make a difference in one's stamina. (And not for the better, either, darn it). That's a little 'gift' that I could do without!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Light and Shadow

I love the drama that late afternoon sunlight can create. Every once in a while I'm lucky enough to catch it with my camera. At least I hope I captured it; I've been sorting through the hundreds of photos I've taken during the last week or so and my eyes feel like they're crossing!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Sunsets - Autumn Gold

Well, not really autumn, as it was taken in August of last year. But I've noticed that Gaia likes to tuck little bits of other seasons into the current season. To me, these are little bits of everyday magic, gifts from Gaia to those of us who are paying attention.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Goodbye October

I always hate to see October leave. It's such a magical month and, for me, this one was more magical than others have been recently. Why? Instead of being hot and dry like the Octobers of recent years, with the nearly overwhelming worry of forest fires, it was cool and we had quite a few days of fog and rain. It felt like an October should feel, a time of transition, of endings, instead of a continuation of summer.
And, if you're attuned to it, the magic of Samhain/Halloween can be felt growing all through October.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

This 'n That

This little witch and her cat are one of my favorite Halloween decorations. She's actually fairly large; 16" in diameter. I think I might paint her hair a lovely shade of red, though. She's far too young to have grey hair!
This is a spice cake with cream cheese frosting that my husband made for my birthday, which was several days ago. How sweet was that? And what a wise man; he used just a few candles. If he had used the number that matches my age, the house probably would have caught fire!

A cup of tea in a Halloween mug was the perfect complement to a slice of the cake...which I was so eager to eat that I didn't take a picture of it. Ah well, just trust me when I say it was delicious!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Cattwell Family

This was actually posted on October 29, 11:16 p.m. This is Inky, Midnight, and Meowra Cattwell, of the famous Cattwell family from Halloween Hollow. Every October, they graciously consent to live on top of the living room armoire. But, as you can tell from the looks on their faces, they don't like having their picture taken! I'd like to tell you more about them as they have a really fascinating history, but so far they haven't been too keen on having their story told. Maybe someday...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Sunsets

Taken in November, 2009, from Hwy. 18 near Running Springs.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

An October Moon

I was unable to get a picture of this month's full moon last night as it was overcast. But this is an October Moon if ever there was one! I have a collection of these moon faces (a Harvest Moon, a blue moon, an opalescent moon, etc.), which are made by Kirks Folly. They're sold on QVC and


and they're a good size, usually measuring between 4" and 6" across. Kirks Folly also makes beautiful jewelry with moon faces. All of their moons are hand made from glass and are just magical! If you love La Luna as I do, check out the websites. They also make other kinds of great jewelry and stuff for the home, like goblets (I'm trying to get a decent picture of my 'Season of the Witch' one to post on here) and windchimes.

Of course, my favorite part of this moon's decorations is the little black cat wearing her witch hat!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Faeries Friday - Rowan

Rowan is one of the many Faeries who live in my studio. She was a gift from my husband, and I named her Rowan because the leaves on her bodice and tights sort of remind me of the leaves of a Rowan tree.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Almost Here...

Only ten days away! And this makes me both happy and sad.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pantries and Rambles

This little Acorn Woodpecker is sitting in front of her pantry. See all the holes behind her? She excavated those, and many more, so she can shove acorns into them. I took this photo back in the spring. Today, when I was carrying out dry blankets to the feral cats' houses, I noticed every storage hole in her pantry has an acorn in it, and she's all set for winter.

I didn't take any pictures today because a gentle rain has been pattering down all day. We also had some thunder and lightening. The air smells delicious, full of the scents that mean Autumn to me. Rain, wet earth and leaves, wood burning in fireplaces, the cold, sharp perfume of the creek and pines...they all combine in the chilly, wet air to produce a marvelous fragrance. Breathing this kind of air is a powerful tonic.

After I finished with the cats' beds, I went for a walk through the woods. (The picture below was taken earlier this month, and the one of the wet cedar was taken through a window).

I walked through the wet leaves and trees, snug and dry in my wellies and rain coat. The dogs refused to come with me, preferring to stay in by the fire, but I had the pitter-pat of the rain and the quiet voice of the creek to keep me company, along with the occasional remark from a bird and the friendly brush of a cedar frond across my cheek.
The cedars are my favorite tree in the forest. The tip of every frond has its own tiny jewel when it rains. They're especially magical when it rains, then freezes. As the breeze moves through them, the branches shimmer with millions of tiny sun-sparked diamonds. Look too long and I think you might find yourself under a Faerie enchantment.

After a good ramble, and some interesting conversations with the birds, my stomach informed me it was time for tea so I returned to my warm little cottage. My husband was home today, and he had fires burning cheerily in every fireplace. He even had a mug of tea and a plate of scones, slathered with some of the apple butter from our own pantry, waiting for me...bliss.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Sunsets

Taken 7-27-08.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Sunsets

Taken this past July at Lake Gregory, Crestline.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rain, Blessed Rain

Gorgeous thunderheads on Sunday had banded together by Sunday night...and draped themselves gently over our rain starved mountains, entwining themselves around the trees, adding soft layer upon soft layer of cloud on the trees' branches, leaves and needles...
until they could hold no more and begin to let tiny pieces of cloud in the form of water drops fall to the parched earth below. Very early in the morning hours of Monday more clouds came to join the ones already here, and they enthusiastically set about the task of washing everything clean, giving all living things a good drink, and refreshing a land that has not seen real rain since last May.

It rained most of Monday and Tuesday, and temperatures dropped to nearly freezing. Outside, the feral kitties curled up in their little houses that my husband made for them (insulated, double wall construction, waterproof), each with plenty of regular blankets plus a special small blanket on the top that acts like a heating pad, but without any cords. They work by reflecting the cat's body heat back to the cat. I've put my hand inside a house just after a kitty has left and it's surprisingly warm. They look like this (they also come in black and grey) they measure 18" by 22" and the item number is 9B - 13563
and I get them at

Inside, all was cozy, too. My husband made a pot of beef stew for himself...
and the cats and dogs (they each get a few spoonfuls of gravy). I made a pot of vegetarian rip-your-lips-off-hot chili for myself. Yes, I am the only vegetarian in a houseful of carnivores. I've given up on trying to convert my husband. And the animals...well, they were created to be carnivores and I think it would be bad for their health to feed them a vegetarian diet.

And, of course, George was hogging the hearth!
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