Broken Water Main

square830The street was slick as if we’d had a good rain. The closer we drew to our light at the crest where Saddleback Ranch and Glenn Ranch met, the wetter the road. It was flooding near the top. A pair of police cruisers hedged off the road. In the darkness, I could see a blue-white geyser shooting into the air in a steady torrent. A firetruck stood at the ready. At the other end, more police cars blocked off the road. We splashed past our usual turn and made a left at El Toro. Lynn and I schemed about what we would do if our water was cut off by the burst. “The only water we’ll use is for drinking and flushing the toilet,” she said. “I have Gatorade on hand,” I added helpfully. When we got home, we turned on the kitchen tap expecting it to scream as empty plumbing does. But a stream bubbled into a glass and I drank it.

Herd

square813As I blundered down the Edison Trail — entering tags on an Instagram photo — I looked up.  Seven mule deer gathered near the dead end of the trail.  I crept toward them, cursing that I had left my DSLR at home.  A step then a check of my cell phone camera.  Another step and another check.  A final step — and I was too close.  The does ran off, surrounding a yearling while the antlerless bucks screened them.  Then all were gone as fleetingly as a good memory.

Mountain Lions in Whiting Again

square788Rangers blocked the gates at Whiting Ranch Wilderness. I knew something was up. When I passed Concourse Park in my truck, I saw three trucks and a small crowd of rangers at the entrance gate. So I stopped. “Please tell me that there hasn’t been another mountain lion attack.

No, this time it was only “an incident”. And when I pieced together the details, a most amusing incident it proved to be though the bikers involved probably did not find it so. A mountain lion had spooked some park-users along the short but tenuous Serrano Cow Trail, not once, but twice.

According to a local news site:

A video of a mountain lion in the park was posted online over the weekend prompted state Department of Fish and Game officials to search for the big cat1, which did not leave the area even after it was fired upon with beanbag-type rounds in an attempt to scare it off, O’Neil told the Orange County Register.

“During the investigation, they spotted the mountain lion very close to the trail and unwilling to move,” said O’Neil. “Park rangers closed the park as a precaution while DFG officers continued the investigation.”

Fish and Game managed to capture the beast using a massive “Have-A-Heart” trap baited with a piece of beef. Though I told my Facebook users that I feared the worst for the lion, Fish and Game seems to be following a So-you-wanna-be-around-humans-we’ll-let-you-live-around-humans” policy and sending it to a zoo.

For my own experiences with mountain lions, check here.

Here’s the video that precipitated the Fish and Game search of the wilderness. Most people around here would rather that they removed the coyote — those eat our cats and dogs:



  1. Isn’t the Internet powerful? []

A Ragged Shape

square751One of those things that worry me flitted into consciousness the other night. Lynn had just turned off of Saddleback Ranch Road onto Ridgeline when I spied it off to the left: a dark gray-brown form, ragged at the edges and possessing four legs. It looked to me that Lynn was about to hit it so I cried out. She stopped about ten feet past the beast. I looked back. No creature, no bloody tracks where the car had dragged a dead body. Just the parked cars on our right.

Had I seen something or was it one of my hallucinations?

“Did you see it? Did you see it?” I repeated to Lynn.

“No,” she said. “But just because I didn’t doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.”

I held my silence as she made the left toward our home. What was it? I thought “cat” at the glance. “Raccoon” or “skunk” could also have fit the outline. What worried me most was the possibility that my anti-psychotic had stopped working. I didn’t need to suffer a relapse into the strange world of the seen but nonexistent.

I hope that somewhere out there, there is a cat or a raccoon or a skunk that has been scared into a lesson.

It Moved Like a Cat

square737The man had two dogs — a small white one that snapped at Drake and another larger, brown dog of unknowable breed in the dark. “There’s something out there,” he said. “A cat.” He held out his arms to show how big it was. “I didn’t see what it was, but it was this big and it moved like a cat.” Could it have been a raccoon? Or a possum? “No, it wasn’t. It moved like a cat.”

We parted ways. I climbed the grassy knoll where the gingko tree grows behind the condos and looked for it. “It could have been a bobcat,” I said to Lynn. “But I am more worried about a coyote.”

Nothing moved in the dark groove between the gingko and back wall.

Dead Skunk and Turkey Vultures

square730Two black bundles of feathers swaggered along the curb on Ridgeline Road. The turkey vultures held their scarlet heads even with the horizontal tilt of their tails. As we passed, they abandoned their carcass and flew into the trees. The brash, bitter scent of their prey — a skunk — blinded the nostrils.

Three hours after sunset ended the scavenging, the odor climbed the hill and barged in beneath the crack of the door.

Passing of the Purple Plum

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square671Long time readers of this blog remember my long antagonism with the tree in front of my condo, the dreadful purple plum. The tree savagely bore down on my head when I passed on the sidewalk and obstructed my view from the deck ever since we moved in 1999. No edible fruit grew on it. It splattered the concrete with its progeny. On the other hand, it brought me moments of profound intensity:

Tonight, beneath the white blossoms of a purple plum tree and an electric lamp which hummed away the silence, I stood. Not a very interesting story to tell, but the moment was thick with the immediate presence of the night and the white corners of the condos.

It never did well due to its place in the shadows. But this season the plum had been struggling. No flowers sprang from its branches. Only a few deeply colored leaves stuck to its whiplike branches. Where its confederates flourished, my nemesis exuded mere weak fingernails of life.

Yesterday when I went out to take Doggy to the park, I hurried along the sidewalk. Turning my eyes to the left to set my eyes for a second on the leaden grayness of the familiar trunk, I noticed an absence reaching down to a medallion of sawdust at my feet. The gardeners had taken down the purple plum. The object of my mocking interest had been cut down.

The Fires in Orange County

square504Things are not so interesting here as they were last year. The Orange County fires are on the other side of our mountain in the Santa Ana Canyon. We do have some light Santa Ana winds blowing, but they are northeasterlies which means we are well out of harm’s way. I stopped to watch the tops of the palm trees swing in a parking lot, but my nose and my eyes could not detect the slightest wisp of smoke. I can rest at ease knowing that all the land that might threaten us was burned over last year. This year Portola Hills is safe.

The best source for news is, again, The Orange County Register. We are also keeping our fingers crossed for the folks in Los Angeles County who are threatened by the fire in Sylmar. I have already heard of one Twitterer who learned that his house was lost in that blaze when he saw it burning on the TV news.

For my accounts of the Santiago Fire click here.

Coat Weather

square445Rabbits have begun to appear in the coyote brush that fringes Portola Hills. I saw three on a short walk around Concourse Park in the fog yesterday. In the spring, they will breed more, and then the offspring will discover that the burnt-out district is quite free of predators. So this year will be a good year for rabbits, at least until the bobcats, the coyotes, and the hawks find places to hide or to perch.

It was foggy until this morning. The hills are bright green where the grass is coming back, a pale green where they were sprayed with a hydroseeding compound, and brown in the places where neither Nature nor Humankind made provision. People still come to gawk: on my Saturday afternoon walk in the park I saw a cluster of tourists led by a man who was pointing. The rabbits paid them no heed. I just hurried home, holding my coat close.

High winds made it coat weather even with the sun.

Scenes from the Bipolar Ghetto

square294My neighbor across the way moved out abruptly. The sound of hammering woke me on Monday, but I did not connect it with anything until I saw a workman breaking up the deck. Pieces of wood and insulation flew about for a couple of days before ceasing this morning. Last night, I noticed that the furniture in the condo was gone. She and her children had disappeared without notice. Neither Lynn nor myself know where they went. We doubt they’ll be back.

Today while I was feeding the birds (yet again….) someone called from over there “The Great Birdfeeder”. I looked to see a red sleeve and then just an elbow disappearing into the side of the window.

My therapist feels that I need to make more contact with people who are not bipolar sufferers. I agree, but not at the price of giving up my friends. We’ve been giving thought to getting a dog so that I will meet other dog owners. Either a [[pug]] or a [[Boston Terrier]] sound good. I’ve been doing some searching, thinking. It has to get on with cats. And I have to get on with people outside of the Bipolar Ghetto.