Sunday, May 30, 2010

oh poo

we'd been looking forward to seeing U2 for months. i LOVE having something to look forward to. and U2! i really am sorry bono is in pain and needed surgery just the other day. and i really really hope he feels better soon. because that is most important. but i won't lie and say i wasn't disappointed to find out only 9 days before the concert that it's been cancelled. i spent much of yesterday undoing our train tickets, hotel reservations, time off work... they should be back on track come august, for the rest of the european tour anyway, but we found out we'll have to keep waiting here in the u.s. , till next year! bugger. oh well, i do have a birthday to look forward to tomorrow, and that means cake!

♥ lori , older and a wee bit wiser ;)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

a field trip and some scary things

hello there.
i am a horned lizard and i live here at the desert tortoise natural area
in the western mojave desert (i'm not the scary thing)...

in addition to me, horned lizard, there are 27 other species of reptiles, 29 species of breeding birds, 23 species of mammals and many species of arthropods living on the natural area...

we woke at 4:00 am and arrived to the mojave around 7:00 am, only missing one or two turns on unmarked gravel roads. a naturalist (ed) was there at the interpretive center (a trailer) and kindly answered all the questions we had before we headed out on the trails.

we hoped to see tortoises and ed knew just where one was so we followed him...

here she is! this is turquoise, she's a wild tortoise (gopherus agassizii) estimated to be around 40 to 50 years old. she's expected to live 30 to 40 more years, if she were a captive she could live 50 more years.

i could see her eyes open half way checking us out and then she squeezed them shut tucking her head in at the same time. she was quite uninterested in us. in order not to cause her undue stress we said goodbye and continued on to..

wildflowers! the last thing we thought we'd see in the desert at the end of may.
it was about this time that my camera stopped working. putting frustration aside, i was grateful for my little leica point and shoot. it takes more photos for this blog than my canon anyway...

thank you little leica for not failing me too...

sorry i didn't know the name of the pink flower above, but this is winter fat
(krascheninnikovi lanata) now used as a grazing plant by ranchers. indians made tea to drink and to wash their hair. the zunis chewed the fresh root and used them as a burn remedy.
birds collect the soft seed to line their nests.

here is my husband getting a photo of a lichen covered rock and...

this side-blotched lizard (uta stansburiana) isn't he a beauty? the weather was uncharacteristically cool so he was out warming himself on the rock. he tolerated several photos,
even posing for a few.

this is an ant ring, it looks a bit like a volcano doesn't it?

i wonder if anyone knows what this little tube is? can you even see it? most everything in the desert is camouflaged. this little turret here is the home of a desert dwelling spider called the wolf spider. he builds his home out of gravel, plant debris and rabbit pellets. then it ambush's it's prey. this is the scary thing. even scarier is the larger tarantula.

here is a perfect example of desert camouflage, can you see whats in this photo?

it's the super cute and friendly horned lizard.
(phrynosoma platyrhinos calidiarum)

aren't his markings gorgeous? we held him for a minute and then let him back down to the sand. as far as lizards go, these little guys have a wonderful personality.

this is one of my favorites, the paperbag bush (salazaria mexicana). the inflated seed pods resemble tiny paper bags. and just look at these colors.

a leopard lizard (gambelia wislizenii) , named for how stealth they are and how fast they run...

and here a zebra tail (calisaurus draconoides draconoides), because it has a striped tail (sorry that's not in the photo). zebra tails are one of the fastest desert reptiles, they can run up to
18 miles per hour.

here is a desert tortoise in it's burrow. they spend most of their lives underground in burrows or caves. it's fascinating how the shape of the burrow mirrors the shape of the tortoise.

we spent hours hiking around looking for these animals. the desert tortoise is california's state reptile. it was listed under the federal endangered species act in 1989 and is classed as threatened. this has been their home for millions of years, i've joined the desert tortoise preserve committee in hopes that they'll remain for millions more. i read that perhaps its because of their gentle, inoffensive ways and behavior, desert tortoises are very popular animals. it would be sad indeed if the tortoise was allowed to go extinct.

golden cholla
(opuntia echinocarpa)

creosote bush
(larrea tridentata)
this covers much of the deserts in california.
i love it.

it's the horned lizard again. actually it's one of his many cousins, we found several of these guys on the trail and in the washes...

see how sweet?

the sun was beginning its decline and so was i. we had been out walking/hiking for over 6 hours. first it was cold and windy, then it was hot and breezy. and now it was cooling down again and i was letting down my guard. can you see the small coiled object a quarter of the way up from the bottom in this photo?

it is the "mojave green" rattlesnake.
(crotalus scutulatus scutulatus)
reputed to possess the most toxic venom of any u.s. rattlesnake.

i almost stepped on it.

i wasn't scared, but chuck was. he saw it first and yanked me backwards just in the nick of time. it upset me to see him shaken, he said if my foot had come down it would have been on it.
after the initial scare we were so excited.
i don't think we were in any danger taking these photos. the snake was very calm and docile, it woke slowly and gently checked out the new visitors (us).

we watched it move out of it's coil, but only partially. it seemed to know we wouldn't cause it any harm and it wound it's self back up and seemed to go back to sleep.

(when we got back to the naturalist he id it as the mojave green,
a female that had recently given birth).

we'd decided it was time to head back home, our field trip had been a great success, we saw so much, more than we ever expected.

driving away from the natural area, on the gravel/dirt road to the highway, we had another fantastic find, here is chuck running back to make sure we didn't run over another....


this time a coachwhip or a gopher, we were not sure.
but he was a beauty.
it was a perfect ending to a great day.
♥ lori

Sunday, May 23, 2010


flowers in the garden...

from my thoughtful husband (favorite vitamin water and wine too)...

flowers blooming everywhere.

it seems the closer one lives to the beach here, the smaller plot of land one has. i have a tiny garden, almost everything grows in containers. this is the start of seeds sent from blogging friends janet in south africa (on the left) and natalie in australia on the right...

growing steadily week after week...

and then, one day last week, look what has bloomed where it was planted.

australian daisies in my own backyard (notice my garden inspector on the left) :)

how do you think the south african one's are coming along owen?

our new garden gates to keep our little inspector safe...

he approves, sort of....

the first peas are ready...

when my children were small we'd grow several plants of sugar snap peas, they are so good to eat right off the vine...

bloom where you are planted. my puppy and garden remind me of this. in the midst of so much sadness and confusion, i only have to come out here. see life going on, thriving and happy, and i know that everything will be okay.

♥ lori

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

a page in time

if i had a billion dollars i would give it to scientists who are working to eliminate disease. i'd give it to Val and Geli to finish building their new school in Mozambique, and i'd fly all around the world delivering fresh picked bouquets and a box of chocolates and a hug too to each of you beautiful bloggy friends. your gift of words to me on my previous post truly left me speechless, (but not tearless). i've decided to buy my first lottery ticket this week, i'm really feeling lucky. thank you.

i'm going to do a different thing now and post pages from my journal one year ago this journal of africa. one of the things my mum loved was to read my travel journals. it started with the first one i wrote back when i was 17 years old and our family took a 6 week trip across and around the United States. I was appointed the trip journalist slash photographer. plus i did alot of the driving, remember how much fun we had lindy? everything was great until we got home and my mom and dad wanted to read the diary of our trip. read it?? i didn't think they'd actually want to read it. my poor mum, here i'd gone and added a few expletives (f***n this, and f****n that), i was 17 after all and not happy about missing all of summer, surfing, the beach, friends...

but my mom, being a very good sport, looked beyond that and continued to read every thing i'd write. and up until this last trip, she's always been my biggest fan. my only fan. so if you don't mind, here is a journal entry from last may, 2009. from zimbabwe, africa.

clicking on photos should enlarge them (i hope)

i hope you enjoyed :)
♥ lori