A Short Divide

It’s coming to that time of the year where I peer into lobbies and storefronts for Christmas decorations on my walk to the office. These are the companies with money and they spare no expense with the decor. What makes it so striking is inside you’re in fairyland, or more precisely, Santa’s attic with his elves, gawking at 10-foot trees dripping in gold and sparkles, with beautifully wrapped red and gold presents amidst the poinsettias, and soft holiday music in the background. I know because I go in and take pictures.  But outside on the dirty sidewalk you’re stepping over sleeping bodies of the homeless. The contrast takes my breath away. I wonder how many see it as they rush to their buildings clutching their peppermint mochas and early morning podcasts stuck to their ears.

I’ve noticed a woman who scoops up one of these homeless men. He sits on the street with a teddy bear. He has long grey, bushy hair and is usually reading a book. She takes him to the corner store and lets him pull down whatever he wants from the shelves. It’s usually chips, candies, coffee. I don’t know how often she does it, but she’s my hero. I know this because I’m in the same store. May her tribe increase.

I’m thinking of ways to help these people too, especially when the temperatures drop and the streets thin out because people are on vacation for the holidays.

Calvin says, “I have an idea. Send out a brigade of volunteers with their therapy dogs to give hugs and kisses. That would be a gift.”

 

 

 

Ablaze of Color

California doesn’t have trees that change color in the fall. Evergreens seem to be the look most often when you’re driving. I don’t know why. It’s a pity really. I have to cross the border into Oregon to see them. Those Oregonians planted lots of maples and they reap a riot of color in October. It’s so beautiful it takes your breath away. I can’t imagine what Canada looks like this time of year. The East Coasters got the right idea, they too have these beauties. Here are three from Oregon. Calvin says, “A tree is a tree.  As long as it’s upright, it works for me.”

 

Garden Invasion

The re-design of my garden in finally complete. I wanted an English garden. What I got was a Japanese version with some Mexican thrown in. It all works.

I have a lot of lavender and rosemary plants paying homage to Jerusalem where the highways and byways are flanked by these bushes.

I have a purple butterfly bush for the Monarchs that come to visit except so far only white butterflies got the memo. I’m hoping the Monarchs are still in Mexico catching their breath.

Oleanders in pink and white are bursting with flowers right now.

I have the citrus trees – lemon, grapefruit and orange – continuing to dominate the landscape with their fruit. Yesterday I picked fifteen lemons off the ground. I found them everywhere, under the maple tree, in the lavender, and on the gravel pathway. It was like finding Easter eggs.

Everything is unmanicured, and nothing needs mowing, which makes me deliriously happy. I’m at that stage in life where I don’t want to take care of anything anymore, least of all plants.

Several times now when I’m in my chair surveying my garden hummingbirds come whirring around me, staring me down, as if to say, “Who are you?” They behave as if they own the place and I’m the intruder.

The other day I caught one bathing in the sprinklers and then drying off in the orange tree. Then it flew straight for me and checked me out front and back. If they weren’t such adorable midgets of the air I’d say they’re invaders. This is my space, I designed it, and I’m staying.

Calvin says, “Oh oh. Does this mean I have to fend for myself from now on? That I’m not a cute little midget, but a hot, fat, lovable bundle of fur with slurpy kisses and a nose for trouble? Hey, I add stimulation to your life.” 

 

The December Dilemma

Yesterday evening I took a walk around the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights on houses, Santas in front yards, and wreaths on front doors. Except there weren’t any. I asked myself if I had the right month. I checked my phone. Yep, I did. What happened to my neighbors? Then it hit me. Most of the neighbors that traditionally went wild with their lights and front lawn decorations have fled the area for warmer pastures. I miss them. They had a spirit of Christmas I didn’t so I lived on their enthusiasm. They brightened up the neighborhood and made us smile. We were proud people who basked in their twinkling lights. We could count on them every year. Now they were gone and took the spirit of Christmas with them. Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are now flying high over sand dunes. And no, I’m not going to take over the tradition. You’re lucky if I have a bow on my front door. Inside the house is another matter. I enjoy displaying  several trees in the living room, lights over the mantelpiece, and Christmas cards on a table.

So I gave up on Christmas decorations, and settled for the natural growth around the neighborhood. Here are some pictures.

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Calvin says, “Yeah, I miss those midnight walks. I tingled with excitement.” beagle

Moose in the Air

 

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At this time of year I like to search for unique Christmas tree decorations. Not to buy, but to enjoy looking at. Typically office lobbies don’t have them. Neither do department stores. However there are places that make an effort to showcase the novel and the unique.

My favorite store that tops my list is Carrigg’s of Carmel. At this time of year they have more than a dozen decorated trees in the store that delight and transport you to Christmas heaven. Forget the shopping, the eating, and the staying in Carmel. I go just for the design therapy at Carrigg’s.

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I stroll from room to room. When something catches my eye, I take a quick picture with my camera that I keep hidden in my jacket. After the second room of sensory enchantments, I stop being stealthy and keep the camera in full view. There’s so much to photograph and I don’t care who sees me. I’m like a child in a magic castle.cropped-photo61.jpg

Whoever decorates the store is a genius. There’s so much to absorb it takes several hours, but I limit myself to drooling for 60 minutes. Besides, Alf is waiting for me on the street reading headline news on his phone. Calvin is pulling at his leash attempting to meet and greet all the other pedigree dogs walking their owners.

Calvin says, “Carmel needs a pop-up store for dogs with Christmas delicacies like rabbit jerky.”  beagle

 

 

 

 

Not Here

While I love Christmas trees, and the more ornate the better, I won’t put one up at home. I used to when my children were young. Our cat perched herself in place of the angel, and the dog peed a few times until he was banned from the festivities, and left to howl in the backyard.

Today our children are grown and out of the house and Alf and I don’t really care to get involved with the untangling of lights, dusting off of ornaments and hunting for the perfect tree that doesn’t cost a paycheck.

Instead we put a wreath on the front door, full of color and flair of the season. This suggests there are Christmas decorations inside the house.  IMG_4714

You’d be wrong.

You wouldn’t see a jingle bell, or a poinsettia, or even hear Christmas music.

I do showcase the few Christmas cards we receive on a living room table. People don’t send them anymore. We get more of the email version with a series of pictures. It’s hard to put those out.

My neighbors next door shun the Christmas hoopla like a disease, too. Both our houses are shrouded in darkness. Meanwhile the rest of the neighborhood is ablaze with icicles dripping from eaves, twinkling reindeer on front lawns, and blinking trees in windows.

These are our Indian neighbors.

Calvin says, “I remember those episodes of howling in the back. They crushed the fun right out of my puppy heart.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

Ho Hum

It’s the season. As I walk down mid-Market the buildings are showing off their trees.

They seem to pop up from the underground overnight.

Who decorates them, I wonder?

Do companies have “decoteams” that appear at night, dressed in black, with boxes and ladders and glue guns?

Or do they contract out? Probably wiser since you don’t need them the rest of the year, unless of course they’re your HR people.

“Christmas decorator for hire. Experienced with 12 foot trees and all the trimmings. Any color scheme. Brings her own tools and elves.”

Here are some of them:FullSizeRender (7)

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Okay, so the poinsettia isn’t a tree and it required no decorating, but these plants say Christmas more to me than a tree.

Calvin says, “Christmas trees – ugh. Not easy lifting a leg around those low hanging ornaments.” beagle