Tag Archives: plumeria

San Diego flowers and freeways.

It’s been a week since I departed on my trip, which took me first to my childhood home and family that I wrote about in my last post. After a very full day there, I drove to the San Diego Airport, where I fetched Annie. She and I spent the night slightly inland, where the most temperate marine breezes blew through the windows that our hosts like to leave open as much as possible. We were wined and dined along with other guests including their daughter whose birthday it was. We slept like logs.

San Diego freeways had a good reputation in my mind, even before I drove them a bit six years ago with my husband. When I’m whipping along where frequently there are four to six lanes — sometimes seven! — in each direction, and merging and exiting and noticing other freeways crossing above and below, it seems that much of the land must be covered with them by now. But no, it’s a large county, and there is lots of the sunniest part of California territory still left to walk on, closer to the earth and at a more human and humane pace.

Our first full day we drove to my cousins’ place in Vista, even more inland and at least ten degrees hotter. I first saw their property six years ago with my late husband, and was looking forward to the tour that Joe might give us again of all the self-started trees that he calls “bird drops,” and the succulents and cacti that thrive in that climate, like the tree-climbing cactus above that found a post supportive enough.

By late Friday afternoon Annie and I had made a big loop-de-loop, stopping by her great-great grandparents’ graves that I had last visited in 2015, and we ended up at the condo where most of the groom’s (my daughter Pearl’s) family from Washington and Wisconsin were staying. We joined a group weighted strongly to the young: five or six of my grandchildren and their significant others between the ages of 17 and 24. Toddler Lora, my great-granddaughter, was the youngest in the group. I slept in another Airbnb close by — with plumeria near the front door — and hung out with them a lot as we got ready in various ways for the wedding that was Sunday.

That first evening in Encinitas the boys had groomsmen events, and the females gravitated to the beach, which we got to by jaywalking across a busy street, picking our way over the railroad tracks, down through a gate…  then a run across four lanes of the coast highway and on to the path descending to the rocky shore. Dozens of surfers were silhouetted against the setting sun. I was the only one of our group who kept farther back from the edge while I took my views and pictures; the others all had fun getting drenched to some degree by the surf breaking right there. The next morning boys and girls alike were out early to surf and swim.

That was the day that I went south again to meet in person for the first time two long-loved blogging friends. Emily’s large family will soon be moved from Coronado where she has been cultivating a beautiful garden for several years. It was one son’s birthday at her house, too, but no one seemed to think it strange to have a strange grandmother drop in. Emily sent me off with bags full of starts of many of the succulents that grow enthusiastically all around the house and pool. It was delightful and really heartwarming to meet in person six of the family who were just as happy and gracious in the flesh as they appear in the tales and pictures I’ve been enjoying for so long.

Sara lives about a half hour mostly east of Emily, on a hill with a wide view, and the perfect patio and small waterwise garden in which to sit and take it all in; huge jacaranda blooms show in the tops of the trees from their steep hillside below. But first, we went to lunch, and she took me to the water conservation garden nearby. I had inconveniently come in the hottest part of the afternoon, but we wore our sun hats and strolled in a very leisurely way among the paths.

The garden has been there long enough for the Australian trees to grow to great heights. There was a butterfly garden/cage where evidently those creatures weren’t bothered by the heat. I took so many pictures! My heart was overflowing with flowers and plants way too many to process or learn much about, but because I was discovering them in the company of my friend I was content to let them remain a somewhat anonymous backdrop to our time together.

I had wanted to sit for a spell on her own patio, too, which we did, and I got to chat a little with her very kind husband. Sara gave me gifts of printed prayers like this beautifully illustrated one:

After I said good-bye at their door, on my way to my car, it was then that I spied this gardenia, a rare encounter for me, and it immediately seemed the perfect emblem of Sara and her blogger’s voice that is such a refreshingly sweet and reserved one in this noisy world, saying, “Here is beauty: look!”

My grandson Pat got married the next afternoon! His whole family was handsome, and we sang all the verses of “Be Thou My Vision” during the ceremony. The choice of that hymn tells you a lot about the bride and groom. May God bless them!

The day after the wedding was our last day of San Diego freeways, at least for a while. I was driving on them for about three hours before we got out of the county and on our way to my mountain cabin. Daughter Pearl rode with me, which made the day pass very pleasantly, in spite of it consisting mostly of driving, at least half of it on freeways, for twelve hours. But as I write, I am in recovery, and composing the report on this next portion of my outing, the vacation part! First installment coming soon: Summer in the High Sierra…

Maui Diary 4 – Bright Trees and Critters

Hibiscus looks nice against volcanic rock.

For most of my life, the image that came to my mind when someone mentioned Hawaii was of beaches, and volcanoes spewing lava into the ocean. Ten years ago or so a friend visited the islands and told me about the beautiful flowers, and at that point I began to be interested.

Reading The Folding Cliffs, about the history of Kauai in a setting that highlighted the lush landscape, took my imagination further along, to the point where I was willing and interested to visit.

bougainvillea bush

If our stay on Maui had a focus, I would say it was the ocean, based on the amount of time spent, but with the flowers blooming everywhere I turned my head, I came away with my visual sense more than satisfied in that department — it was more than I could take in.

Right out our back door there were spider lilies and red ginger, and multi-colored bougainvillea trained into shrubs. Along the roads hedges of hibiscus or bougainvillea or even more extravagant flowers let us know we were in the tropics.

African Tulip Tree

The writer of the plant guide we took to Maui was clearly biased against species that were not native, or that at least had been brought from other Polynesian islands long ago, but I admit to liking many of those plants very much. The African Tulip Tree makes lovely splashes of orange against the green landscape, and it at least doesn’t seem to have spread into the weed category yet.

Bougainvillea along roadway

We’d heard reports of wild chickens being found all over Maui, and we were happy to see a lot of them on beaches, along streets, most anywhere. And other beasts who had no doubt escaped from households and barnyards generations ago.

On the drive to Hana we ate our lunch at a wayside park where a green lawn ran up the hill to a tall and thick forest — or perhaps on that rainy stretch it would be called a jungle. I spotted chickens with shiny feathers up there, and walked up to try getting a picture. It was not to be: the closest bird disappeared behind some vines, I followed as quietly as I could and peeked under the trees, to see a couple of cats lounging there with the chickens. It was just a glimpse, and then the whole inter-species family was gone from sight.

Where I saw cats and chickens

This cat sat patiently under our table while we were picnicking, and waited for us to drop a bite of sandwich. And at Honolua Bay a bright rooster in the middle of the jungle path was engrossed in pecking the meat out of a broken coconut. Many times we saw road signs warning of the approach of a pig or nene crossing. Nenes are the type of goose that is the state bird of Hawaii.

Feral chickens in Iao Valley
Common Myna

We were on the island for several days before we discovered that the perky bird we saw everywhere is the Common Myna, native to Asia but living all over the world. On a list of the 100 Most Invasive Species, there are only three birds, and the Myna is one of them. Found this picture on the Internet.

My favorite animal sighting was in the Upcountry where there are farms and ranches with jacaranda trees catching your eye with their purple flowers. We drove past a large pasture with a herd of dark cattle grazing on the green, and as many white birds as steers walking around chummily in their midst. I assume that they are what has been sensibly named the Cattle Egret.

picking mangoes

It seems that a lot of trees bearing flowers or fruits are so tall that it takes some trouble to harvest the crop. I asked the rosette-pinning woman (whom I tell about further down) if pickers use ladders to get the flowers from those tall plumeria trees, and she replied that they “mostly climb” to fetch them. Walking around Lahaina, we saw a man picking mangoes with a long pole contraption, and it’s certain one would need a ladder or good tree-climbing skills to get papayas.

tiny plumeria tree at center


Plumeria! I’m in love with plumeria. I knew of leis, of course, and I’d heard that flower mentioned, but I had to go to Hawaii to see what a plumeria blossom looks like or get intoxicated by its scent. It was a surprise to find that these sweet flowers grow on trees.

I wish I had taken a dozen more pictures of plumeria trees. Many of the taller ones look at first glance as though they are some kind of dead thing, but then you notice the flowers at the tip of every smooth and bare branch.

We went to a luau where a girl in Hawaiian dress taught female guests how to stick plumeria flowers on to a toothpick to make a rosette, which she then fastened into our hair with a bobby pin.

When we had first arrived at the luau, I was given a tuberose, which I had been carrying around for a while, so I stuck that on to my toothpick as well, and while our taste buds enjoyed the traditional foods, my nose feasted on the rose and plumeria delicacies. I already have forgotten most of the food I ate, but the memory of my fragrant rosette lives on.