Category Archives: California

WEP- Change Of Heart

HEART SF ♥

It all happened so fast like an ocean wave pulling her out to sea, the wedding in Dublin and the birth of their son, then the voyage across the ocean to a new country. So much hope about what the future would bring. There had not been much to look forward to back in their home town. The oldest son had inherited the farm. Nothing to do but look for the future far away from home in the land of opportunity, America.

Norah missed her sisters and their easy chatter as they all worked in the field. Two of her youngest sisters had already emigrated to Canada, and just one sister and brother remained on the family farm.

“We’ve all been washed out with the tide, carried to distant shores, and now just your letters make me feel like home,” Norah whispered as she put away the latest letter from her sister Mary Ann.

Norah was busy settling into her new home and expecting her second child in a few weeks time. She was grateful to have a roof over her head and that her husband had steady employment even though they lived in a flat. They scrimped and saved to buy a house. They took in boarders, new immigrants from the old country whose lilting speech pulled at her heart. Norah and Garrett were happy to help the newcomers get on their feet. Norah was especially fond of Jack, a young single man who reminded her of her brother. He always had a smile and was quick to laugh. There were jolly parties with fiddlers playing jigs and reels. They didn’t have much in material things, but their music and friends kept their spirits strong.

“When I hear the fiddlers play I could almost believe I am still home in Tipperary,” Norah spoke wistfully after the party ended.

“This is my home now,” replied her husband.

She knew he missed the old country and the horses he used to care for on the farm. Norah bit her lip hard and kept silent. She didn’t want him to think she was unhappy. He was working so hard to make a home for them.

“I do love the evenings when the fog rolls in. It makes me want to cuddle up with you.”

Garrett smiled at his young wife as they walked back to their bedroom, their borders already asleep for the night. It was in the early hours of the next morning when the cataclysm struck. A horrible rumbling and then a violent shaking threw them from their bed. They rushed out of the flat with the rest of the occupants. The air was filled with screaming and the sickening sound of buildings collapsing, with wooden planks and bricks falling into the street. They stood dazed on the sidewalk.

“We better get what we can out of the building before it collapses,” Jack shouted. They quickly ran a relay in and out taking what they could as the building groaned and creaked ominously. They hadn’t had a chance to save much but their lives.

The army moved into the city at the request of the mayor to keep order, provide first aid, and prevent looting. Tent camps were set up in public parks for the survivors who found themselves homeless. People walked around in stunned silence while a child wailed for his mother.

The buildings weren’t the only things broken by the quake. Water mains underground ruptured. Stunned residents salvaged whatever belongings they could, treated the injured, and counted the dead. The moans and cries of those trapped in the rubble would haunt them for years. Their young border, Jack, was killed when a wall collapsed on top of him as he tried to rescue a child.

A woman made breakfast for her family unaware of the broken chimney that caused a fire that burned down her house and half the city. The broken water mains prevented water from reaching the hoses of the firemen. People would later call it ‘the ham and eggs fire.’

What Norah and Garrett couldn’t salvage was burned to ash. They joined the other displaced people in bread lines and tent cities that were set up in public parks. It was the next night that Norah gave birth in one of those tents to a daughter, Rachel. Some of the women assisted in the delivery. An older woman told Norah, “Your little girl baby will have special powers because she was born at night. She will be able to see the dead.”

A chill ran through Norah as she heard the prediction, but she shook it off saying, “That’s old country superstition. We left that behind when we came to our new home.”

“I’m sorry I brought you to this place, Norah,” Garrett whispered as he watched his wife and new baby sleep. His young son Patrick was curled up against his mother’s back.

Many left The City, but the ones who remained were a hearty, optimistic lot, not ready to give up so quickly. Norah and Garrett were counted among those brave ones.

“It all seems like so long ago now,” Norah said as she closed the door to their new house on Eureka Street. “All the bad times are behind us.” Norah walked into the kitchen to finish supper for her little family while Rachel played with her toys on the floor. Patrick had started school, and in a while, they would walk down the block to pick him up. Norah was stirring the stew when she heard her little daughter muttering. She looked over to see Rachel was staring at a kitchen chair and talking as if someone was sitting there.

“Do you want to hold my dolly, Jack?”


WEP Write…Edit…Publish August 2018 Challenge Change of Heart is hosted by Denise Covey, Nilanjana Bose, and Olga Godim.

Word count: 960

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Featured image: ‘San Francisco before the earthquake’ ( unknown author) via wikimedia.org

 

Yard Birds

Amateur backyard birdwatchers my husband and I. We have noticed a little bird on our patio the past couple of days. It seemed pretty bold coming up to perch on our patio table chairs and tweeting its head off at us. It was making quite a ruckus this morning. I may have discovered why. I saw a pair of birds flying back and forth from the large Echeveria plant near the edge of our patio with pieces of wild grass in their beaks.  Are they building a nest inside the plant?  Is the bird on our patio standing guard?

Our little lookout could be a chickadee because he fits the discriptions with a black head. The sound he was making at us was like that warning alarm sound you hear in the last part of the little video above. Why are you sending up the alarm? We were minding our own business inside our kitchen when you happened to spot us.

I read that in California you are called the Chestnut-backed Chickadee.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee by VJ Anderson


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is hosted by Linda G Hill. Today’s prompt is ‘Why/Y.’ Chickadee video by LesleytheBirdNerd on You Tube.

Shades Of Green

600px-Color_icon_green.svg via Wikimedia

Green, green, my pool is green. We lost our pool guy a few months ago and being not too handy at pool maintenance ourselves our pool has gradually turned a deeper shade of green. I checked out the 38 shades of green listed on wikipedia to determine a match and it was a bit overwhelming. I like some of names of the colors like asparagus. Cal Poly Pomona green,  and dark moss green might be close.

Moss_covered_rocks,_Beddgelert_Forest_-_geograph.org.uk_-_542866

Moss covered rocks by Philip Halling

I had to pick Cal Poly Pomona green because I live in California for gosh sakes. There’s even a Slytherin green, cool! Just added 2 packages of Shock this morning and did some quick research on pool care. I think we need to hire someone to take care of the pool again. It might cost us some money but I am yielding due to our lack pool cleaning capability.

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Green Lacewing

Haven’t seen any of these lacewings lately. I will have to monitor my pyracantha when it starts to bloom again.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is hosted by Linda G Hill. The prompt for today is ‘mon’. Color chart via wikimedia. Green lacewing by Gilles San Martin on Flickr.

Rainy Day Rabbit

I have mentioned my backyard visitor before and how hard it is to capture him/her with my cell phone camera. Usually, it spots me at the window and hops off. But today I was able to get several pretty good photos of the little guy. We had steady rain this morning for over two hours at least, which is great for us in my section of Southern California. I spotted the rabbit taking shelter from the rain under one of our succulent plants. Then after the rain stopped, it came out and munched on the assorted ground cover for a bit. I have seen it hop about 2 feet up to a retaining wall in the yard, but today I have photographic evidence of this ability.

Flapjack

Octopuses occasionally occupy the ocean floor.

“While diving off the central California coast, the team of E/V Nautilus encountered this Flapjack Octopus (named for its ear flaps) lingering on the sea floor.”- EVNautilus via You Tube

Flapjack or Opisthoteuthis californiana via Monterey Bay Aquarium on You Tube. The octopus looks red because it is being illuminated by a red light which it can’t see and thinks it is in the dark. This little octopus is a rare find in the ocean.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is hosted by Linda G Hill. Today’s  “prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “oc.” Find a word that starts with “oc” and use it in your post. Bonus points if you start and end with your post with an “oc” word.”

Redwood

Rachel Baum was looking forward to another opportunity to get out in the forest. Her job as a biologist at UC Berkeley was the study of the effect of climate change on Redwood trees. In recent years there was a growing alarm at the rapid changes in the California climate and how it was stressing the trees. Many felt it could be reaching a tipping point with how long the trees could adapt and survive. Her work sometimes required her to climb to the top of a 300 foot tree to check instruments that monitored the weather up in the canopy.
Rachel loved the spectacular views from the canopy and listening to the wind in the leaves. She came to the grove with another biologist who remained on the ground. Josh would send up any needed supplies with a pulley. There had been reports of a storm front moving in but Rachel and Josh thought they would have enough time. As she reached the top of the tree she heard a loud rumbling and looked up to see dark clouds rolling in.
“We better make this quick, Rachel,” Josh called over the two-way radio.
“I just want to check the fog monitor and then I will head down.”
Rachel was reaching over to the monitor when she saw the little Spotted Owl on a lower branch.

Female Spotted Owl

She was about to catch a quick photo when she felt the hair rise on the back of her neck. The lightning hit a nearby tree sending chunks of wood exploding through the air. A large piece hit Rachel.
Rachel was traveling through a tunnel. She felt the tunnel closing in on her body, squeezing. She thought she heard a young woman cry out and then she forgot about her life on Earth as she came into a new world. The midwife smiled as she welcomed this new life. Her parents named her Alexandria.

Alexandria Mata was one of the first babies born in the Mars colony. Her parents were part of the first colonists to live on Mars. They were both botanists working on plant cultivation. Growing up Alex liked exploring the gardens and small nature areas that were part of the biosphere. Her parents often found her reading her books under one of the few trees. Alex loved stories about trees. She grew up to be a botanist like her parents and her affinity for trees continued. Many of her contemporaries considered her a bit odd for her interest in Forest Biology because, as they told her, the forests are gone on Earth and there would be no forests on Mars. There was one friend who shared her interest in trees, Jeff Kimura. His focus was paleobotany, the study of fossil plants.

776px-Concept_Mars_colony NASA

Artist concept Mars Colony via NASA

Alex was working the day a small package arrived in a shipment from Earth. The contents of the box were not revealed by the label which said it had come from the University of California, Berkeley. As she opened it she found a note from a biologist. I hope you can find a home for this specimen of Sequoia Sempervirens and help this majestic spirit survive in the universe. Most of theses trees had been lost on Earth during the Great Drought of  2030-2045 when there were years of little rain with many months of wild fires. Global warming had denied the moisture giving fog to the giant trees and the drought dried out the soil and the surrounding undergrowth. The fires did the rest. Alex wanted to show the seedling to Jeff but he was at a dig site on Olympus Mons.

Olympus Mons was an old shield volcano and one of the tallest mountains in the solar system. Jeff’s team hoped that the volcano had some buried secrets in its slopes. They were looking for signs of earlier plant life on the planet.  Jeff knew Alex would be very interested in what they discovered, part of a fossilized forest.

“Jeff, this is fantastic, proof of ancient forests on Mars! When will you get some specimens back here?”

“We have them here now if you want to come over to my lab.”

” Right away!”

Word spread fast among the scientists and Alex found a large group in the Botany lab. The lead paleobotanist, Dr. Albero, was speaking. ” The microscopic evaluation of the fossils suggest these trees were ancestors of Sequoia Sempervirens, or Coast Redwoods.”

“How could Mars and Earth have the same trees? “ Alex thought, incredulous.

After the announcement people broke up into smaller groups to talk about the discovery. Jeff signaled to Alex. She walked over to a corner of the room where he was standing.

“Can you believe it, Coast Redwoods on Mars?

“We found a body.”

“What! Where?”

“We found a body buried near the trees.”

“What kind of body? What did it look like?”

“Like this.” Jeff showed Alex a photo he had stored on his communicator.

“Oh my God! This proves there were humanoids here on Mars.”

“Well there was one anyway.”

“Why wasn’t the discovery of this body announced?”

“Dr. Albero wants to discuss it with some higher-ups at NASA. He thinks this discovery might cause some panic in the colony.”

The colony leaders called for a community meeting the following week. Dr. Albero was asked to speak about the discovery.

“I know there have been rumors about the other discovery made on Olympus Mons. We found the body of a humanoid buried near the petrified forest. Further testing on the remains indicates that this humanoid is genetically related to us.”

******

The expedition found two planets in the solar system with environments compatible to their home world. They decided to introduce some of their flora prior to colonization to see if it could survive. They planted some seedlings from one of their most revered and beloved trees.

 

Ancient Coast Redwoods tower above hikers at Simpson Reed Grove Trail

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.” – John Steinbeck


More information about climate change and the Redwoods. And 100 Practical Ways to Reverse Climate Change: Drawdown.

Featured Image ‘Growth, plant’ by Antranias on Pixabay.com. Image of ‘Female Spotted Owl’ by Emily Brauwer of the US National Park Service via wikimedia. Image of ‘Petrified Wood,  Petrified Forest National Park, USA’ via Pixabay.com. Image of ‘Mummy’ from British Museum Collection by Klafubra on wikimedia. Image of Coast Redwoods in Redwood National Park via US National Park Service.

This post is part of the Write…Edit…Publish #WEP#ff December Challenge, The End is the Beginning hosted by Denise Covey, Yolanda Renee, Nilanjana Bose, and Olga Godim.

Word Count:  990 (excluding quote)

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WEP CHALLENGE FOR DECEMBER ............THE END IS THE BEGINNINGS

Wild Fires

” When you’re evacuating from a wild fire it’s hard to decide what to take with you.”

My ability to write provides a path for expression about my life experiences. I am often moved to write when my feelings about a thing run high. Maybe a part of being a writer is the need to chronicle your life.

I thought we had been lucky and avoided the fire season in our section of Southern California. But as it often happens, the fires have their own secret plans. We were evacuated from our home a little over 10 years ago in the middle of the night so this time we decided not to wait until the evacuation order to get packed. Experiencing an evacuation does that to you. You know it can come suddenly, with little warning, and you must go. There had been no evacuation orders yet but we were busy gathering a few mementos and family photos, our wedding album, videos of our kids growing up and my son’s bar mitzvah, a small photo album of my son’s wedding, a few precious notes from my daughter, our kid’s baby shoes…It’s hard to decide and remember what to take with you. My son and daughter in law had to pack up all the equipment in their car for my little baby grandson, just in case. It’s not just the fires but the threat of power outages. Some medical equipment he needs requires electricity. We talked about them coming to our house or her parents depending on who loses power. If all of us lose power they may have to go into West LA to other family. We can see the smoke in the air and hope the Santa Ana winds die out soon.


This post is for One Liner Wednesday hosted by Linda G Hill and the monthly post for the Insecure Writers Support Group, #IWSG , Co-Hosts: Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner!