Old Town, San Diego

Colorado House

Stable Museum

Close to the Immaculate Conception Church is a Pioneer Park with original and replica buildings from the origins of San Diego. As I wandered through the park, I wondered about my ancestors. Was I walking in their footsteps?
This is a quote from Old Town San Diego guide

“Old Town San Diego is considered the “birthplace” of California. San Diego is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in California. It was here in 1769, that Father Junipero Serra came to establish the very first mission in a chain of 21 missions that were to be the cornerstone of California’s colonization. Father Serra’s mission and Presidio were built on a hillside overlooking what is currently known as Old Town San Diego”.

I bet it really was cosmopolitan back in the day!

Spice shop

I was fascinated by the huge scale. It made me think of bushels and pecks – such descriptive measurements. When we moved back to the States, I was delighted to find imperial measurements instead of Metric weights. Sometimes you are just to old to adapt to kilos… Then I discovered that American imperial measurements are different to the old British ones. The gallons are different – WTH???

Senora de los Meurtos

I visited just before Halloween and Dia de los Meurtos and loved the vivid color in these displays in the restaurant district. You can tell that it is autumn in San Diego with that fantastic clear light. It was about 80 degrees with NO humidity – yay! I fearlessly ate lunch outside without misting systems and didn’t get bitten by mosquitoes. When you live in a sub tropical swamp, those weather conditions are heaven. As I write this, it is heavenly weather in Houston but there is always some bloody mosquitoes…

Ah, it was a perfect day visiting ancestor’s graves at an appropriate time to honor them and then being able to imagine how they lived.

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Fall Fungi

Gourmet critter fungi

Here in the subtropics, fall comes late. After enviously looking at other autumnal posts with amazing red and yellow trees, I searched my garden for some sign of winter coming. It is subtle but the leaves are started to drop and the fungi have arrived. I loved the pretty edge of the larger fungus above and noticed that the critters were digging a trench.

Fungus blossom

There can be such delicacy in fungi and I loved this pretty little one, above with a frilly edge. By contrast there was a stoater (Scottish for very big) in the front garden.

Stoater!

There is something kind of scary about some fungi and this one, below, was a little creepy. It looked like straw but the critters had been playing with it, so someone enjoyed it. Right now, one of our garden animals has dug a really big tunnel under the deck and I suspect it is the armadillos. They are getting their new deck ready for cooler nights…it is like living in a commune. 🍄

Strange Fungi…with some colored leaves!!!

I saved the best one for last – a little bouquet of pretty flowers.

Fungus flowers!

Fall in the sub tropics – part II

fall-dark-cloud-reflection

Winter is coming…

autumn-fluff

Autumnal Fluff

seed-pods

Seed Pods

Winter is coming… The evil Canadians sent it last night and the temperature dropped by almost 50 degrees. Those beautiful orange leaves, from the last post, are all on the ground.

Despite that, some of the hibiscus are still blooming and the bottle brush and giving us a splash of red.
bottle-brush

Translucent Berries

Translucent Berries

My friend at Evil Squirrel’s Nest urged us to feed the outside critters with the cold front and this is a cute little Texas Fox Squirrel eating her snacks. I love the way they look slightly different from state to state. Ours aren’t very furry but their tales are really long.

I'm coming down for the snacks. Muchas Gracias, Senora!!

I’m coming down for the snacks. Muchas Gracias, Senora!!

Nom, nom, nom

Nom, nom, nom

Fall in the sub tropics

The tree outside my house

The tree outside my house

Houston is in the sub-tropics, I live a little further north just on the edge of an ecological division between coastal and piney forest. Whatever the case, fall comes late to these parts. Sometimes we don’t get one at all if a hurricane runs through. It was similar in the north of Scotland. One day it was summer and then the tail end of a tropical hurricane would blow all the leaves off the trees and BAM – it was winter.

Most of my local photographs are taken next to our containment pond. For those unfamiliar with the term, the pond is there to soak up our many floods. It also dries up to barely nothing in a drought. Usually noisy Teddy is with me but I was quietly stalking and suddenly saw this precious pair.

baby-nutria

Baby nutria with mama after a swim

Nutria is an invasive water living mammal not unlike a beaver or coypu. They were introduced to the south for the fur trade so, as usual, we humans are to blame. The baby was gently bleating to Mama about the strange lady with the camera. I haven’t seen them for a while because the Rangers remove them. For the short time that they are here, I will enjoy their little furry faces.

mama-nutria

Mama nutria swimming

As I was walking about I could hear the drying leaves rustling and the ever present noise of the frogs that live at the pond. Then I spotted this poor cold turtle – he stayed right on his little island because it was too cold in the water. It’s all relative, temperature wise, as the temperature was mid 60s and sunny. ☀

cold-turtle

cold-agave

A ‘Chili’ Agave!

Resolution No. 2 – get more sunshine

sunshine-blogger-awardI was afraid of nominations for blogs before but I am enjoying this fun. Nick, my friend from fiftywordsdaily has nominated me as a Sunshine blogger. I can’t remember how I found his blog but I loved his concept of short, funny, insightful posts. He makes me laugh out loud.

Here are his questions (thank you for making them easier than yours, Nick, and less esoteric). I have a hangover…
1. What is your favourite food?
Easy – avocados. I eat at least half a day with salt and pepper. None of this fancy guacamole nonsense… 🙂 Although I will eat anything with avocados in it. Well, not ice-cream, that’s just weird.
2. What is your favorite time of day?
BED-TIME! My mum said that when I was a baby, she had to wake me up to feed me, and I slept around the clock. Nothing has changed. My husband is driven crazy by my desire to go to bed at 7 pm but has compromised at 8 pm with a couple of hours watching TV. We have turned it into a ritual – we take a glass of wine, water, a savory snack and whatever cat is available and sit enjoying Game of Thrones. Sometimes this works to his advantage… Especially if I have had a couple of glasses of wine.
3. What makes you angry?
I would like to say something worthy like the situation in Syria (and it does) but really it’s other motorists. All my feisty Hispanic, Irish, Middle Eastern and North African DNA boils into a short-tempered, horn-tooting, gesticulating crazy lady. “CAN’T YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YIELD AND MERGE – TAKE YOUR TEST AGAIN, IDIOT”. Most of this is mouthed through my window and since they are texting anyway they don’t notice.
4. What is your favourite book? (you can have three if one is too restrictive)
Pookie the Flying Rabbit. I guess it should be Grapes of Wrath or the like but this was a Christmas present from my mum many years ago and I loved it.
5. If you had to be an animal, what animal would you be?
Come on – it has to be a Cougar! Apart from the obvious sexual connotation, I really love big cats. Did you know that Cougars are the only big cats that purr and they are so beautiful? Purrrrrr.
6. What is your favorite season?
Autumn or fall. I have always loved it, wherever in the world I visited or lived, but I particularly love it down in the south of the States. It’s still hot, usually in the 80s, the trees still change color but not as spectacularly as the north. I can start wearing my beloved boots and tights but it’s not really cold. Best of all, it means hurricane season is coming to an end and Thanksgiving is around the corner.
7. Why do you write? (this is optional because I would hate to answer it)
I write because I always have and it gives me great pleasure. I express myself best in the written word although, if you met me in person, you would think I spoke well also (if a tad forthright…). Writing allows me to stop, think and elucidate.
8. Have you already broken a New Year’s Resolution? If not, why not?
Ha,ha,ha. It is lunchtime and I am in bed, not yet bathed… Mrs. Stripe is sitting suspiciously close to my armpit so I think I have already broken No. 1.
9. What is your favorite (short) joke?
My mum could barely get through this juvenile joke before laughing her head off. A family of polar bears are sitting on an iceberg. Daddy bear says, “I have a tale to tell.” Mummy bear responds, “I, too, have a tale to tell”. Baby bear whines, “My tail is told (cold)”
10. If you didn’t live in your current country of abode, where would you most like to live?
At the moment, Baha, Mexico. I often consider living in places we visit but I liked everything about the little mission town, especially since it was filled with Ortegas (my maiden name). Do you think we should still call it a maiden name? I really wasn’t a maiden…
11. Which languages can you speak?
Perfect English which is sometimes disputed in Texas because of my pristine Scottish accent that enunciates everything exceptionally well! Mi Espanol es malo, un peu de Francais and a smattering of Arabic. I used to be able to give taxi drivers complicated instructions in Arabic and go grocery shopping but from misuse it has been reduced to friendly greetings. Someone once asked me why I didn’t join the CIA?? Unless bananas (mooz) is the code word for Semtex, I wouldn’t have a clue. The name’s Kerry not Carrie. 🙂

Now I have to nominate five blogs so here goes –

All Thoughts Work TM Outdoors

aroused

organic is beautiful

Middle Me

Student in Snowdonia

Please feel free to ignore this invitation but join the fun if you would like to!

My questions are
1. Are you a sunny person?
2. What is your favorite smell?
3. What makes you laugh out loud?
4. Are you a good driver?
5. Spender or saver?
6. New Year’s resolution?
7. How do you have fun?
8. Favorite movie of all time?
9. Most embarrassing moment?
10. What is your porn name (name of first pet followed the name of the first street you lived in).

Unbelievably, my porn name is Snowy Bush. You can’t make this stuff up…

Autumn beckons

rust&green

It is the birthing of a new season and the dying of the old. Both exist together as they do with every species. This tree fern has a whiskered texture as the leaves prepare to feed the ground below. Summer is in decay, humidity and heat dissipating likewise the cicada chirps. Autumn is sprinkling it’s magical orange fairy dust as the nights close in.

sweetgum

The Sweet Gum leaves are not ready to surrender to old age and the invasive Tallow bewitches us with it’s exquisite oriental leaves in every season.

tallow

Yet, the seasonal food is naturally colored for autumn and contrasts so prettily with the ancient rock and lichen.

3pumpkins&rock

Samhain and Day of the Dead

family of the dead
Woo-hoo! This has been an epic publishing month for me. About a year ago I noticed that a local magazine was looking for writers and applied. They responded and asked what sort of subjects I would like to write about. Then nothing… As soon as I returned from Glasgow in August I received an email from the Editor asking if I could write an article about Halloween with a short deadline. I suggested starting with a history of Halloween and then listing all the local festivals. I have rarely worked so hard – phoning everyone from church secretaries to Resort Managers to get the precise details of events. Yesterday the magazine arrived and it looks fabulous – laid out in a way that just delighted me. They even used my photograph from last years Renaissance Festival. There has been some problems associated with Halloween here, not helped by stupid movies. Some more conservative churches don’t like the witchcraft angle or the sexy costumes (I love the sexy costumes)… Latin Americans have felt that the commercialism of Halloween has taken away the spirituality of their Festival, Day of the Dead. I tried my best to address this in a light but informative way.

This is the first part of the article and a link to the online version of the magazine which unfortunately does not have the wonderful layout of the printed version.

Scary and not-so-scary fun is on its way to The Woodlands to celebrate autumn and Halloween. Did you know that Halloween has its roots deep in the old country? Samhain was likely a pre-Christian festival, celebrated in the Celtic lands of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. The date was around the time of the autumnal equinox, and it marked the passing of the lighter nights into the dark of winter. Celts have always been superstitious and believed that otherworldly creatures, such as fairies and spirits, were visible on Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve. The spirits could also see us, which is why we dress up in costumes to disguise ourselves.

Over the years, the dates of Celtic festivities have changed, usually to mesh with the Roman calendar. It is a similar story with the Mexican and Latin American festival Dia de Los Muertes — Day of the Dead. Originally the festival, which may have its roots in Aztec history, took place in the summer and was a commemoration of the souls that had passed on. After the Spanish invasion, the date was moved to coincide with All Saints Day.

So let’s take a moment to honor our ancestors and then enjoy the many events in and around The Woodlands. We have perfect fall weather, still warm with less humidity. Go out there and have fun! Check websites for admission fees, more details and weather updates.

Click on the link to see the full article.
http://woodlandslifestylesandhomes.com/fun-abounds-in-october/