Tag Archives: Pride of Madeira

Where is home, and where is Heaven?

Sooo slow I am in fully returning to Being Home. Though I suppose I never will be living in my house in quite the same way as before, having sojourned so distantly, and changed in God only knows what ways. I grew older, for sure. But maybe I grew younger, too?

clean air, vineyards and mustard bloom

I was so surprised, when I walked in the front door on my return from that other world, to see that I have wood floors. At that moment I didn’t feel the lack of windows and light, but only felt the warmth and welcome that my house had held in trust for me all those weeks, even though I had learned to live happily with hard and cool marble floors, and the strange light coming through a multitude of windows, reflected off the Arabian Sea and filtered through smog.

It’s taken me nearly three weeks just to fill and start up the fountain again. The finches were having to make do with winterized nyger seed, that is, frozen and thawed, rained on and packed down into a brick at the bottom of the feeder. But I fixed those things today and looked around some more at the garden. Rosemary is blooming and the fountain is now tinkling.

I just learned that Swiss chard is also called silverbeet!
Jerusalem Sage
Pride of Madeira with no blooms yet…

Do you remember Miss Grenadine? She was a gift from Mr. Glad. She kept watch over my bedroom while I was gone, and still does during the day:

I had lunch with my goddaughter last week. She and her husband lost their house in the fires that ravaged our area last October. A day or two after that dreadful event, she texted me, “Wherever our family is together, that is home.”

I understand some of that. Ever since my husband passed from this earthly life three years ago this month, I have felt most at home when I am with my children, wherever a few of us are gathered. I don’t think I would feel this way if we didn’t all agree on this: though we’ve been supremely blessed in this life, it’s not satisfying in itself, no matter what beautiful place you live in and with what dear humans.

At this moment I’m thinking about things homey and cozy (or cool, as we preferred, in Mumbai), but of course concurrent in all of our lives is pain and suffering. Wherever I go, I bring myself with my sin-sickness, and I carry in my heart the burdens of those whose suffering seems to me hardly bearable. But in every place, Christ is. He is the one who makes the atmosphere sweet with the scent of flowers or the affection of our children. He is always giving us Himself.

At the end of things, The Blessed will say, “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven.” And the lost will say, “We were always in Hell.” And both will speak truly.
― C.S. Lewis

March colors, surprises and celebrations.

ceanothus blue so hemI took a long walk around the neighborhood this morning. If I had brought my camera, I’d have more pictures to post, but then the prayer and exercise benefits of my outing would have been greatly reduced, so I don’t regret not thinking of it.

I noticed fuzzy chamomile plants close to the ground, and the cobalt blue ceanothus bushes such as we used to have at our former property. Many types of ceanothus grow wild in California but you can also buy them at nurseries. The picture above shows the color that is blooming around here right now.

pine cone forming 3-15 March is the month of our wedding anniversary, which makes it the month that we have many times made day or weekend trips within northern California to celebrate. Usually some blue bushes are flowering in the places we are visiting, and we are outdoors a lot walking or looking from highway overlooks. Maybe this is one reason that blue flowers have long been my favorite.

For example, Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans), which I first noticed decades ago in Big Sur. It can grow in our county and we even had one on our church property for a while, but they must not thrive here. The picture at bottom I took last year in Cambria.

P1120593 forget-me-not 3-12-15
forget-me-nots in the garden

At home this morning the pine cones that are forming in our big tree caught my eye. It seems to me there are double or triple the number of them that have grown there before — or maybe it is just my imagination.


Is there some climactic condition that could cause this, say, severe drought that makes the tree feel that it is dying, and ought to get busy and reproduce? I’ll have to ask the children if their memories are different from mine. I still don’t know what kind of pine this is. The task of finding out needs to go on a project list that is buried somewhere here. It will be a small project just to find it.

P1120548 cones

The children I want to consult with, all five of them, will be here celebrating with us this month – we’re letting them do the traveling this year. It’s not like the early years when we had to get away to be alone. Nowadays being alone is the usual thing, and we are thrilled when any kids converge on our house.

Mr. Glad and I sat in the back yard this afternoon, on a bench in the sun. If I have many more days in which I accomplish both a walk beside a creek among the trees and sitting in the sun, I may find that I don’t need the Christmas lights that are still shining around my kitchen window.

sourgrass 3-15 crp

While we were relaxing and facing my potted plants, it suddenly dawned on me that sourgrass was living and blooming in the miniature rose pot. When did he move in? I don’t remember having sourgrass anywhere on our property in all the 25 years we have lived here. Maybe a bird dropped in a seed.

Another new thing is the Christmas cactus in bloom. The story behind my cactus is long: Friend May and I had both admired the mother cactus in our friend Jerry’s house for decades. It was a prolific bloomer and it was a huge potted plant on wheels, taking up a space about 4′ x 4′, with most of that measured out by long arching stems. When Jerry moved to a retirement home 3-4 years ago, May gave me a big chunk of his cactus plant with roots.

But I don’t have the wall of windows Jerry did, or any sunny and convenient indoor place for houseplants, so I moved my piece of cactus from place to place outdoors, and under the eaves in the winter. I made many cuttings from it and managed to give at least one away before they died of neglect. Last month my sister told me that her grandchild of the Jerry cactus was blooming beautifully on the central California coast, which was a big relief to me — my guilt at not providing a nurturing home for my adopted child was assuaged by knowing that the next generation was prospering.

first Thanksgiving cactus bloom 3-15 JerryNot a week later I walked past the corner of the utility yard where my poor peaked plant would have gone unseen as usual if its flower buds hadn’t glowingly called up to me, “Look at us!” I was shocked and blessed no end, and quickly moved “her” to a sunny place. Now that my cactus has shown a desire to perform, I am endeared to her in a  new way and have named her “Tylda,” after Jerry’s late wife.

pride of Madeira cambria 14

This site tells how to care for these plants, and it showed me that this one is not a Thanksgiving cactus as I had previously thought, but a Christmas cactus. It also says that they require cold temperatures to spur them into blooming. So perhaps it’s not a bad thing that I left it outdoors. I’m thinking of ways that I can be a better houseplant owner in the future.

But this month, it’s the outdoor plants for me, and I do enjoy whatever colors they are dressed in when they bloom. But especially blue.

green and blue coastal views

As I mentioned in my last post, we took a short trip down to California’s Central Coast – which we were amused to hear referred to as The North Coast, by those evidently oriented not to the whole state, but to Los Angeles…?

While anticipating the getaway, which was all my dear husband’s idea, I started thinking about the edges of the oceans, and how they give us a certain perspective. If you sit or stand on the shore and look seaward, you have all those millions of people behind you, and before you a vastness of water and sky to soothe the eyes and mind, and to make you think. Why don’t we all constantly gravitate to the coastlands so that we can be philosophers? It must be because we have so many worthy things we are called to DO.

Part of me wants to philosophize in this post, about a score of ideas and realities that are connected in a fascinating way. I could even write a short book for me to read about the ramblings of my mind over the last week, stimulated as it was by books and movies and history and theology that all seemed to relate to our trip.

But I will restrain myself, because I had my time sitting by the shore and now that I’m back inland I need to get on with other things. I won’t want to take the time to read that book anyway, so I’ll just make this a simple chronological report.

It was at Paso Robles on Hwy 101 that we cut over toward the coast, and the hills began to be greener, with even greener fields of newly-sprouted Something scattered here and there. The farms! Of course we have lots of farms in our county, too, but south of us they grow lots of different things and it does my heart good to see it. Thank you, Lord, for sending the rain to green-up the hills that will soon be golden — and brown — again.

Our hotel room in Cambria had a lovely view from the balcony, not just of the ocean, but also of the lush gardens on the property, with some of those favorite plants that I only see when away from home, like proteas and our beloved Pride of Madeira.

Pride of Madeira

The latter is one that we enjoyed many times on wedding anniversary trips we’ve taken, because it blooms in March. This time I told Mr. Glad that we might consider it “Our Flower.”

a protea
town of Cambria from the boardwalk

As soon as we brought in our bags we set off on the boardwalk along the long strand of Moonstone Beach, which appears to have a population of thousands of ground squirrels living under it. They popped up on one side or another every few feet to say hello and beg demurely.

Many benches sit along the boardwalk, too, providing places for philosophers to gaze out at the great beyond. Some had extra, very personalized signs and plaques, screwed into them.

Down below we scrambled on the rocks and found crabs and snails and seaweed in the cracks and tidepools.

All the salt water stands in stark contrast to the drought that is especially bad on the California coast. At our very nice restaurant in Cambria they charged us for water with dinner! Just 30 cents for a bottle, but enough to draw attention to the problem and prevent the waste of all those glasses of water that diners might ignore.

When we left Cambria we drove south and stopped near the town of Harmony to try out the Harmony Headlands trail that cuts through a swath of farmland to link up with coastal bluffs. We could smell the sagey-beachy scent that let us know the ocean was just over the hill, but we never seemed to be reaching a place from which to get even a distant view of it, so we eventually gave up and turned back. On the way back to the car this snake slithered off the edge of the trail. When I followed him into the field he froze and posed.

Neither of us had ever been to the town of Cayucos, which was our next stop. We liked this place a lot, with its casual and less touristy flavor. It used to be a shipping hub in the late 1800’s, and it’s close enough to San Luis Obispo and the college of “Cal Poly” that there were lots of students in town, and surfers to watch as we relaxed on the sand near the old pier.

Cayucos from the pier

At one end of the beach a woman drew in the sand with her foot, to draw attention to a seal pup that was lying like a lump near the shore. I did think it was a lumpy rock, until I saw her circle.

She was also standing guard against dogs who had been bothering the animal that she said was malnourished and waiting for the marine mammal rescue people to come. When a group of school children approached, the pup lifted its head long enough for me to snap a picture.

blue ceanothus, cistus, and CA poppies

Later in the week on our way home I got in more close-up views of some favorite Spring-y color combinations — at a highway rest area!

My tangible souvenirs were three, two rocks and a piece of sea glass, my material Gifts From the Sea. As to non-material and most valuable things gained….I’ll be meditating a long time on that realm of Beauty.