Now that I’m retired, I have more time to go exploring each day.
This past Sunday I took a walking tour of the ten most important trees in San Diego’s Balboa Park.
Number 8 on the list is one of the four Dragon trees (Dracaena draco) in the Desert Garden just across the street from the San Diego Zoo, the tallest one in the following picture.
These four were planted in 1914 for the Panama-California Exhibition of 1915-16. That tallest one is about 25 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 3½ feet. It has been named Frank Allen Jr. in honor of the man in charge of designing and installing the landscape for the 1915 Exposition.
Dragon trees are members of the asparagus family. They are indigenous to the Canary Islands where the Guanche people used its sap in their mummification process.
Quite popular in Southern California landscapes in the 20th century, they rarely are planted today.
I have been fighting actinic keratoses and skin cancer on my face and scalp for several years now. Nothing serious, just ugly and itchy.
Last month my new dermatologist recommended a procedure called PDT (Photodynamic Light). Wow. What a procedure. I can highly recommend it, though.
More interestingly for me is that I got 16 opioid pills to alleviate pain. I can’t say that they specifically alleviated any pain but they did let me sleep up to six hours.
I have been a “polyphasic sleeper” all my life, so sleeping up to six hours was quite interesting, especially since I had dreams for the first time in my life. I always died in the dreams, which is when I woke up.
Now that I’m out of opioids, I’m back to sleeping “normally” for me, up to 2½ hours at a time. No dreams.
All of that makes me wonder just what effects opioids have on all those people who are addicted to them.
So far in 2019 I have had 37¾ inches of rain at my front door. Other parts of Southern California also have been getting a lot of rain, and lots of rain in January & February mean lots of flowers in the mountains and deserts in March & April.
Yesterday I went to see the supper poppy bloom in Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore, California. I love mass plantings, especially flowers, and the supper poppy bloom now ranks #1 on my list, ahead of the Texas bluebonnets in the Houston/Austin/College Station area and the tulips at the CN Tower in Toronto.The poppies are California poppies, the official flower of the State of California. Enjoy them in their native habitat!
There were People, Parking, People Parking, Poppies, Poppy Parking, Puppies, Puppy Packing, and Purple flowers (for contrast):
Back in 2003, I stopped by a plant nursery in Solana Beach, California, after a home inspection. I had never been to it, did not know about it, and simply stumbled upon it while delaying going home in rush hour traffic. I used to include 10% discount coupons to the nursery in my home inspection reports, and I know that many of my home inspection clients used the coupons.
Fast forward to 2017. I stopped by Solana Succulents to tell the owner that I had retired as a home inspector. He thanked me for all the years of sending my clients to his nursery. He gave me free copies of his first two books that he had authored, “Under the Spell of Succulents” and “Soft Succulents.”
He had a third book, “Aloes & Agaves in Cultivation,” that was in the process of being printed, and he was starting on a fourth book to be titled “Spiny Succulents.” I went home and immediately started reading the two books and looking at the glorious pictures.
Since I was a copyeditor and writer for the Department of Chemistry, the College of Science, and the University Press at Texas A&M University from 1983 to 1987, as well as the Department of Chemistry at Stanford University for six months in 1987, I have this habit of looking for errors in my reading materials—makes it really fun to read the uncorrected advance editions of novels that my husband brings home from Warwick’s bookstore at the San Diego Airport.
After several pages, I noticed that there were a lot of grammatical and punctuation errors, as well as some word use (“compliment” instead of “complement”) and spelling errors (it’s for its). I went back to page one and decided to make a list. Whenever I find a huge number of errors, I always inform the author, and that’s what I did with Jeff Moore’s books.
Fast forward another two years. Jeff asked me if I would like to do the final editing and design layout on his “Spiny Succulents” book. I was an easy sale. I got the pages on January 30. 350 pages to edit and create the final layout. I just finished page 139.
I wanted to share a few pictures of some of the beautiful plants in the book. You’re getting a free look that no one else has had. These are low-resolution pictures specifically for my WordPress blog. Enjoy!
Yes, the Christmas poinsettia is a succulent!
“Mad World” by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules, 2001
(from the movie “Donnie Darko”)
“Mad World” by Adam Lambert, 2009
(from the eighth season of “American Idol”)
I never had a dream that I can remember until a few months ago. Now it seems I’m dreaming every night, and I remember the dreams, and the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had….
My wise old grandmother used to find me awake in my room in the middle of the night, with a flashlight, reading. That was shortly after she adopted me in December 1965, just a few months short of me turning 11. At first she got upset, and punished me. However, after many nights of catching me not sleeping, she finally took me to the doctor, the same doctor (Dr. Newell) who had brought me into this world on March 11, 1955, at 11:58 p.m. After an extensive physical exam, including my first check for hernias (I will always remember the first time someone else touched my junk!), he diagnosed me as “a catnapper.”
I have been a catnapper all my life, but I have learned to use it to my advantage. I used to tell my bosses that if they needed anything done overnight that I could make it happen. Eventually, bosses were approaching me at 4:45 p.m. with work that needed to be done by 5:00 a.m. (8:00 a.m. for our East Coast clients). Russel was on it! No problem!
Using it to my advantage didn’t mean that I was happy being a catnapper. I spent many thousands of dollars at Boston Medical Center, Houston Medical Center, and UCLA Medical Center trying to find out what was wrong with me that I couldn’t sleep more than three hours at a time, never reaching REM sleep, and never dreaming.
Finally, I got involved in a sleep study here in San Diego THAT PAID ME instead of me paying them. After nine consecutive days (two weekends and a week) of sleeping in a laboratory, the doctors diagnosed me as a “polyphasic sleeper.”
Prior to 1989, we were catnappers. Now we are polyphasic sleepers.
I’m still a polyphasic sleeper, getting my 8-10 hours of sleep each day in increments of 30 minutes or so every 4-6 hours. However, when I finally hit the sack for the last time, around midnight to 2:00 a.m., I am able to sleep for 5-6 hours. I’m fairly certain that my newfound sleep and dreams are related to new medications.
That means that I enter REM sleep and get to dream.
And the dreams are vivid!
They seem to be based on movies and TV shows I have enjoyed, especially Stephen King movies, science fiction movies (Star Trek, Star Wars), TV shows (The Time Tunnel, and back to Star Trek).
And I always die.
And I always wake up the moment I’m killed.
And I always remember them.
Although I will admit that I’m probably lucky that I didn’t have these dreams when I was a child. They probably would have been called nightmares!
The Flower Fields in Carlsbad open today and remain open through May 12.
Their specialization is the giant ranunculus, which they grow on about fifty acres. There are another five acres of other flowers: roses, petunias, columbines, water lilies, geraniums, sweet peas, poinsettias, cacti & succulents, and more.
If you’re in the San Diego area during this time, I can highly recommend a visit to The Flower Fields.
There are lots of activities for the family, as well. They often have a maze for the children that is created out of tall walls of growing sweet peas plants, all in flower.
Instead of being forced to go through a gift show on your way out, you’re forced to go through what I believe is Armstrong Garden Centers’ biggest and best nursery.
If you don’t spend the whole day in The Flower Fields—I do!—there is a lot more to see and do just around the corner:
Legoland with its awesome SeaLife Aquarium
Museum of Making Music where budding musicians, as well as musicians in full flower (puns intended!), can play drums, guitars, and quite a few other instruments
Green Dragon Tavern & Museum with great New England cuisine and a Revolutionary War Museum.