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Veronique de Turenne

We're going to need a bigger ladder

it grew a foot since last year

Last season's Christmas tree grew (and grew and grew) during the year it spend in the courtyard garden. It's coming inside next week and I can't wait. It smells so good.

Signs of Saturday: Bu plate special

Bu plate special

This one has extra resonance post-fire.

After the rain

In the hour before sunset last night the winds here were howling, blowing birds and runners off course at ground level and, up in the stratosphere, rearranging the clouds.

post-rain sunset

Now it gets dangerous again

Solstice Canyon oaks were hit hard

When the rain began here on Wednesday it wasn't too bad, gentle and light. Long before dawn today though, a steady downpour began. It hasn't let up since. We're under official flash flood warnings, mudslide warnings, and PCH is closed in several places, as are other streets where flooding has become quite bad.

The fire, when it raced through, was burning so hot that it pushed waves of combustible gases down the canyons. Moments before the wall of wildfire actually reached us, the landscape was already exploding into flames.

Solstice Canyon, decimated

Today that leaves tens of thousands of acres in the Santa Monica Mountains -- they're saying up to 100,000 acres burned -- utterly naked. The shrubs and scrub and grasses whose root systems anchored the hillsides, whose foliage spread and slowed the winter rain, helped funnel runoff into certain arroyos and specific gullies which, over the decades, formed a kind of hydro-logic, are gone. Now it's a free-for-all. On the hillsides, rain sheets down and gravity takes over, no undergrowth left to stop or even guide it. It's just mud and ash and debris and rocks and boulders, all mixed into a freight train of slurry.

new channels appear with every rain

We've been hiking through Solstice Canyon lately and even last week's rain, a storm that was weak and short, transformed the landscape. New streams appeared, surrounded by mud that was ankle-deep. Solstice Creek itself was a thick sludge of slow-moving muck.

Solstice Creek runs thick with ash and mud

You'd see lines of deer tracks and groups paw prints that were definitely not dog, the wild animals here navigating an environment that has been radically changed.

deer tracks in a mud flow in Solstice Canyon

there are debris flows throughout Solstice Canyon

The whole point of this being don't take the flood and slide warnings lightly. Post-fire, it's a different world.

It's Puppy Wednesday and guess what?

Dog in raincoats!

I got these a few years back for that El Nino that never really reached us and have used them ever since. Walt adapted well and likes wearing his. (He looks chic.) But Daisy still hasn't quite forgiven me.

he's very chic

that face

walt waits for daisy



far afield

coyote scent

What happened to the oak grove in Solstice Canyon

in solstice canyon before the fire

solstice canyon after the fire

Red sky at morning

There's talk of rain on the way and today, the morning sky agrees.

first light

red sky at morning

Safety in numbers

Hundreds of wild parrots are flocking together in Solstice Canyon these days, ignoring the clan divisions or rivalries or whatever it was that kept them in separate groups pre-fire. Now they stick close to a cluster of trees, voices rising to a sheet metal screech each time a pair of patient hawks, endlessly circling, come too close.

parrot flocks unite post-fire

the parrots are OK

10 seconds of flying parrots

Signs of Saturday: Welcome home

It's just another sign until you walk into the store and employees welcome you back with a bear hug, know which customers' homes didn't make it, listen as tales of the fire get told (and re-told), of harrowing escapes, missing pets, the devastated landscape, bewilderment about what comes next, acts of kindness that give meaning to those hand-lettered.

warm hearts

The wild parrots survived the fire

Shocked and dazed like the rest of us, but still here.

wild parrots after the fire

so glad to see some wild parrots

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