Saturday, July 25, 2009

Red dirt girl

With appropriate homage to Emmy Lou Harris and east Texas, I live in red dirt country. Specifically, dirt derived from the Permian Yeso and Sangre de Cristo formations (yes, it's a hint to where I live). It is pretty dark red, as seen in the photo below, and stains everything (if anyone has a suggestion to how to get it out of my five-year-old's clothes, I'm all ears). When dry, its clay content makes for great adobe trails and the dirt roads in the 'hood get well compacted and easy to drive. It would make a nice house from adobe bricks, but that's a large project for another lifetime.

The reason I bring this up is that geology is often the root of many incidents in my house, including this morning's. Because of the red dirt, and the current monsoon storms, I have a policy of no shoes in the house, in an exercise in futility to keep the red dirt off my new fake-wood flooring. [The kitchen floor tile and grout is actually the same color as the dirt, as I presciently knew the result of putting my mud puppy-child and significant other together in this environment, so close to the back door.]

The occasional result of this policy is shown below. The outside shoes end up in the once black and white dog's mouth (now black and white with reddish-brown legs), with the following results.
As I was reading other blogs this morning, I looked out the dining room window, to note the black, white and red dog wandering by with a distinctly hot pink small Timberland sandal in her mouth. She got yelled at. The shoe was saved. I got a blog post.

The offending dog, happily posing for a picture.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Franciscan Melange, Oak Woodland Savannah and MJ videos

The five-year-old was curious about MJ and all the media fuss over him and his demise. Having reached my majority around the time when he was releasing his first solo albums and becoming "king of pop", I set about to educate my little one on the finer points of moonwalking while simultaneously reliving a wee bit of my late teens and early twenties through watching a series of his videos this last week.

What struck me the most, at least in the outdoor videos, was the fact that most the scenery seemed to have been shot at his Santa Ynez valley ranch, Neverland. I know because one of my favorite hiking trails for about 9 years, in the 90s, was right next door, while I lived in Santa Barbara.

I pretty vividly remember the last time I hiked that trail. It was spring, and a very good flower season. One of the peaks above, a triangular-shaped one whose name I forget (Zaca Peak?), was bright orange with eschscholzia california, California poppy. I came across one of the more beautiful groups of sisrynchium bellum (blue-eyed grass), I'd ever seen. It was a different blue, lighter than what I was used to seeing. The lupinus longifolius, bush lupine, was in full flower giving off that wonderful grape-juice scent. Down on the valley floor, the quercus lobata, or valley oaks were dripping with the green of their fresh spring leaves.

Out of all the landscapes I've been, that driven by the Franciscan melange is my favorite, and the drive from Los Olivos up to Figueroa Mountain across the main ridgeline and over to the saddle between Figueroa Mountain and the San Rafael peaks best exemplifies that landscape to me. [Figueroa Mtn Road to Happy Cyn Road back to San Marcos Pass Road] From the serpentine Franciscan knockers, to the grassed shaley slopes, to the tall foothill pine forests at the top of the range, this landscape speaks to me like no other.

The Franciscan melange in the San Rafaels along Figueroa Mtn Road is composed primarily of marine sediments, with serpentine Franciscan knockers showing up occasionally at the top of the mountain and along Happy Cyn Rd. The mix of differing sediments, each of which supports its own mini-ecosystem of flora, gives rise to a ruffled, patchwork landscape which is like no other I've seen, and is definitely one of my favorite.

Though I don't have any photos (didn't have a digital camera back then), this one shows the triangular peak and really exemplifies the beauty of the area: Figueroa Mtn, Flickr image courtesy of Kimberly Perkin.

Though any fascination I might have once had with the "king of pop" is long gone, whenever I see one of his videos, I'll fondly look for images of the Santa Ynez Valley.