Oh Say Can You See…

I’m a flag waver. Proud to be. I used to just display the colors on the various national holidays, but last year I hung the stars and stripes from our porch beginning on Memorial Day and left her up through Labor Day, and I’m doing the same thing again this year.

Hanging as it is from a pair of mismatched eyehooks screwed into a leftover dowel I’m obviously not a  fundamentalist stickler when it comes to proper flag display protocol, except for one particular point: if you’re going to let your banner yet wave in the dark it must be directly illuminated. I see it as patriotic homage to the rockets’ red glare Francis Scott Key witnessed and wrote about. Proof through the night that our flag was still there, and all that.

Plus, it looks purty.

But for the last two weeks-plus, mine has not been so proved. And it’s bothered me. But not toothache bothered me… more like Gary Coleman’s ex-wife or The Bachelorette bothered me. And so I finally addressed and remedied the situation yesterday and admired her last night.

It’s Aliiiiiiiive!

Yeah, I know… Coyote Corner doesn’t looks much different than it did  in the webcam still captured the afternoon after planting 100 sunflower seeds in it five days ago, but trust me, we’ve got a nice bunch of sprouts rising. There’s more than 30 coming up in the patch itself, and a few more I scattered around the perimeter and out of view to the right.

In case you’re wondering what’s written on the sign, which I borrowed from its long-standing place in the northside garden, it’s “The Earth Laughs In Flowers.”

Right now there’s just some tittering going on, but with a little luck (more sun and less June gloom!) I’m hoping the crescendo will build to an all-out guffaw. Or at least a hearty chuckle.

Oh and I almost forgot: I came along at the right time for a leeeeeetle mouse that The Jig had been using as a cat toy. Though it looked plum tuckered out from being the object of Jig’s attentions, it didn’t appear injured and once it got its bearings it dove into the safety of the frontyard ivy. Before it did I snapped this pic of the cute feller (click to biggify):

My Sunflower Timelapse Has Begun

So I tilled some earth yesterday. I love saying that: “tilled some earth.” Show of hands, when was the last time any of you city slickers boasted of that activity, huh?

[crickets]

Anyway, this city slicker got busy yesterday with the electric tiller on the corner patch of ground in the front yard (pictured above) that five/six years ago was densely overgrown and most notable for being a place the local coyote couple liked to hang out in… up until I discovered them there after one tried to lure Shadow in for an ambush. Instead I ambushed them and ran them all the way south down the block  and around the corner. Then I came back, cut down all the dense foliage and accumulated leaf litter they liked to hide in, and ringed it with river rocks. Since then, pretty much it’s sat unused by either man or beast, but this year I decided to change that and get a sunflower patch growing there, with sunflower seeds saved from last summer’s small backyard bunch of the flowers that I planted and tended, and that amazed me to no end.

I’ve already got a baker’s dozen or so growing in that same backyard space as last year, but since Coyote Corner is one of the few places on our property that gets some great prolonged  sunlight from the late-morning onward this time of the season I figured I’d sow 100 or so seeds in five tidy rows this morning before work and see how many might germinate. Then I thought wouldn’t it be swell if I relocated a webcam to a vantage point over the hopefully soon-to-be sprouts and left it capturing a frame every 10 minutes compiling their growth into a timelapse movie.

We’ll just have to see how that turns out.

First Fleur

I’d wager it was two years ago when the gardening crew that we ultimately fired for using a gas-powered leafblower against our repeated requests not to, helped seal its fate when they apparently mistook this flourishing plant in the frontyard planter box and whacked the hell out of it. That or they just didn’t give a shit what they were destroying.

In the springs since then, it’s put out a minimal amount of delicate blooms, each which last little more than a day or two, and spent most of its time being left alone by us to recover and regrow from the destruction it suffered. And regrow it has. Like crazy. It’s in need of a serious trim, but Susan and I have opted to wait until its bloom period passes.

Found loud and proud this morning that’s the first of what I expect will be a whole bunch of blossoms. I’m not sure of the common name, but I call them rice paper flowers because the petals are literally that delicate and thin.

Ballona Creek Under Overland 7:10 p.m.

ballona(click for the bigger picture)

The long afternoon’s worth of rain had passed before nightfall, and when I left work near 7 p.m. I was eager to see what increase there might be to Ballona Creek’s water level.  The good news is it wasn’t enough to warrant the locking of the bikeway entrance gates. The bad news is it wasn’t enough to warrant the locking of the bikeway entrance gates. But the creek was still up and moving with a swift intensity, and that was enough to warrant me stopping in fascination just to listen to and watch the rushing water, and get the above 15-second exposure.

You have to understand, as a native of Los Angeles with its channelized river no one talked about much less paid attention to unless a dead body turned up in it, I grew up in absolute awe of moving water wherever I could find it. During or after a rain I would often occupy my afternoon hours in the gutters on the streets I lived on, either just watching the water or launching paper boats I’d made and chasing them downstream until they either got snagged on debris or got too close for comfort to the sewer entrance waiting to swallow them up.

The first time I saw a real river, I was 7, staying with my aunt and uncle and cousins for the summer. It was the Tennessee as it curves through Chattanooga. It was full and flowing through the city and entirely blew my tiny mind.

I remember one time, maybe I was 8 or 9. It was a Saturday and it had been raining hard all Friday. So my friend Danny Lindell and I spent the better part of the morning hammering and glueing together these ridiculous flat-bottomed boats out of some junked wood pieces that we found in a nearby alley with the intent of sailing them along the small rivulet of a creek that used to run through the park behind LACMA, only a few blocks east from where we lived on Tower Drive south of Wilshire on the literal eastern edge of the slums of Beverly Hills. The 90212.

Once we were finished we marched over there, thrilled to find the tiny waterway much more full thanks to the storm. Of course, our boats were way too big and heavy to float — and on top of that being so close to the La Brea Tar Pits there was tar everywhere that Danny and I succeeded in getting all over our hands and shoes and clothes. And the boats, which we threw in the trash.

Was the excursion a failure? As shipbuilders, totally. And boy did our moms think so when we got home soaked and tar-caoted. But to me, not at all. Because of the water. The moving water.

So that’s why, 40 years later I still seek it out when I can. I still stop alongside it. I close my eyes and listen to it. I’m fascinated by it. I get out my camera and try to balance it still on fence posts in attempts to capture it. Because in LA it’ll be gone tomorrow and who knows when it’ll be back.

Re:Solutions

I don’t have any REAL resolutions for this year. No definitive achievements being sought, no dietary restrictions. Nothing along the lines of “read a book a month,” although it wouldn’t hurt if I picked up a tennis racquet and swung it at least that often.

I have some creative goals in mind and a fantasy of putting myself through Rio Hondo Police Academy and becoming an animal cop with the Los Angeles SPCA, but I’m still debating the merits of such a drastic career change.

If there’s one resolution that comes close to being of the quote/unquote capital “R” variety, it’s more philosophical than physical. It’s about letting peace begin with me in an effort for there to be peace everywhere. And by that I mean that I hope to catch opportunities I have for negativity — no matter how big or small or how inward or outward — and instead release some positivity.

Tall order? You bet.

So that’s why my other lower-case “r” resolutions are far more frivolous (and of course, bike related).

Resolution No. 1: I resolve to “Crazy Ivan” on my bike at least two times a week. To what? Lemme ‘splain: If you’ve read “Hunt for Red October” or seen the film version, you’ll recognize the term. If you haven’t, it’s basically the name given to an unorthodox tactical maneuver employed by the Russian sub commander, in which out of nowhere he’ll call for a sudden and drastic course deviation that brings his boat either hard to port or starboard and in a complete circle. What does that have to do with me on a bike? Well, what I plan on doing is employing that maneuver at random, basically by executing left or right turns that take me off my intended path and send me around a block or two. Why? Why not. I might get to see something I would’ve otherwise missed or most likely just explore a little bit more of the big city.

Resolution No. 2: And I have to confess, I started this one before the end of the year. I can’t remember exactly when, but on a couple of my commutes mid to late last month I found and removed nice-sized nails from the roadways upon which I was riding, later on tweeting a “your welcome” to the motorists of the city for making the streets safer by a couple less flat tires waiting to happen. From there was born the goal to attempt to remove some bit of metallic found floatsam every time I ride (maybe with an eye towards welding it all together in some sort of sculpture; but more than likely recycling it all at the end of the year), and so far here’s what I’ve procured: a AAA battery, a massive heavy sumbeech of a brass hose coupling, a sealed bearing, a sheared bolt, a crumpled wheel alignment counterweight, a round washer thing, a slotted nut, three nails (the one closest to the bottom of the frame I got today) and a weird ringed pin:

metal

I’d say so far I’m off to a good start making the world (or at least my travels through it) a more fun and less hazardous place.

Yosemite Christmas Pix Are Up!

Susan’s still working on her collection, but got her awesome pix up here, and I managed to cull some 185 snaps from the more than 400 I shot during our three days in Yosemite — such as this one, taken by a kind gentleman who offered to snap Susan and me backdropped by Half Dome beside a snowman in a meadow we didn’t build so much as stand back up and add a misshapen noggin after I’d discovered it tipped over and headless.

PS. My mom was stalked by a mountain lion, but I’ll save that strange tale for another post.