Early Mom’s Day Visit

Mom and Judy admiring mom’s backyard garden

Judy and I visited my mom (93-years young)  yesterday and took her out for an early Mother’s Day luncheon. We wanted to avoid the Sunday Mother’s Day restaurant reservation madness and we wanted to spend some quality one-on-one time with mom.

Mom is a very independent lady and she is surely the influence and source of my own independent nature. My mom is now suffering from dementia but currently still insists on living alone in her home with her cat(s). Mom has wonderful gardens, but her gardening passion has waned over the past several years as her dementia increases. Our next visit to mom’s will probably be a work visit to weed her gardens and bring them up to the standards she kept them.

My sister Joanne is a true saint and  has been the principle caregiver for mom for a number of years now. With our relocation to California we are only a 90 minute drive from mom. We are now finally at a point of our settling in process that we should be able to spend some more time visiting mom and helping out Joanne.

We took mom to Buster’s Beach House (http://www.bustersbeachhouse.com/html/bbhlbframeset.html) which has a great view of the Alamitos Bay inlet in Long Beach, CA. It’s a great place to relax and watch sailboats and yachts enter and exit the inlet to the Pacific Ocean. We had a great meal and a very nice time with mom.

Getting to and  from mom’s house is an adventure. Sixty to ninety minutes of high concentration white-knuckle driving on four different high-speed freeways with speeds ranging from 80 mph to 10 mph. Seldom can you make the trip at a steady speed. Having to be constantly alert with what is going on around you doesn’t allow for any sightseeing along the way. Driving the freeways in CA is not for the timid.

MOM’S GARDEN – Christmas in May – poinsettias, Nasturtium Alley, Pink Geranium, White Flower – – Click on photo for larger image


I spent the morning rearranging and filling the bird feeders. I was also looking for new visitors to the backyard since I added a nice backyard bird yesterday while waiting for Judy to get ready for our trip to see mom.

I was scanning the valley below and noticed a white bird flying over the fields along Murrieta Creek. Gulls and Great Egrets fly along the creek frequently and I first thought it was probably a gull. Its flight behavior however quickly ruled that out and I thought,  “it couldn’t be, could it?” I quickly located my binoculars got on the bird and exclaimed, “Yes, it is!” I continued to observe the White-tailed Kite as it worked back and forth through the area occasionally hovering as it searched for prey. I began to wonder whether there might be a pair of kites nesting in the area but then realized that the plateau was covered with a blanket of fog. I suspect that the kite probably came off the plateau to the valley below where the visability was better for hunting. I looked frequently this morning but saw no kite activity in the valley this morning. The plateau was clear this morning as well.

Today, while enjoying my coffee and catching up on the news, I noticed a pair of birds quickly land on the backyard railing checking out the feeders, and then quickly flying off. I thought damn, that was Judy’s bird and the sunflower feeder was empty. Judy had seen an interesting bird a week or so ago in the backyard and described it to me by showing me three different birds in the field guide and explained to me that the bird looked like, “part of the this one, and part of the bird looked like this one, and  the other part of the bird looked like this one – WHAT IS IT?” I just threw up my arms and said, “I don’t know, a complex-hybrid perhaps?”

Well, Judy was right, it was one of the 3 birds she had shown me, and it was the best of the three I thought. When the Black-headed Grosbeak flew in this morning for a brief stay, I said, “there’s Judy’s bird!” I told Judy that I saw the bird she had described and she has since been proudly stutting around all day.

I just went to the kitchen and look what I found was sitting in the refilled platform feeder.

Quick shots of the Black-headed Grosbeak – More Later. Click on photo for larger image

Our backyard bird list continues to grow but we still have had only the Anna’s Hummingbird at the feeders. Yesterday we saw an Allen’s Hummingbird in mom’s garden. The California Towhee that tried to erase his image from the small chrome watering can is still around now trying to eliminate his image from the stainless steel BBQ. Compulsive frustration for sure, or more likely, he is just never found a mate this season and is taking it out on himself.


Though I haven’t yet conducted a serious “birding only” Santa Rosa Plateau (SRP) trip, I may have located a Spotted Dove roosting/breeding site on the plateau  in my recent ramblings. I have had several fly-overs of a dove darker and larger than a Mourning Dove and having no wing-whistle. The heavy oak/riparian woodlands site I located has a good number of doves moving around in the heavy woodlands. The calls coming from the area fit that of the Spotted Dove.  Though the Spotted Dove was an introduced species to Southern California in 1910 it has currently been extirpated in most of its introduced and expanded areas. I plan to investigate the area further.

Jim, Judy, and VELCRO

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness – Mark Twain

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