Small Wildflower Art

I took these photos in the prone position with the camera about five inches from each wildflower. It’s a whole other world down there in the brush. (If you were saying this last sentence in the 18th Century you might utter “it is a whole nother world, ” but today that statement would send Spell Check into orbit.)

California Kingsnake

I almost sat on this California kingsnake.
The non-venomous kingsnake was picked up by a park “official” who returned the snake to a densely wooded part of tjhe park.

This weekend I was taking a photo class at a county park when I encountered a brightly colored snake exploring a rest area. It was calm and curious and I was unsure. Poisonous? I informed the “ranger” of my encounter and he, in turn, called on an associate who studies snakes. He said it was a non-venomous California kingsnake which he promptly picked up to allow it to slither around his arms. He later carried it further into the park away from people.

The kingsnake, this one was close to three-feet long, kills its prey by constriction and for its size is considered the strongest constrictor of any snake in the world. It is naturally resistant to rattlesnake venom. The “king” label comes from its ability to hunt and kill other snakes, including the rattlesnake.

The Adventures of Chartan: An Option

            (Last Sunday: Chartan and Gina begin discussing a name for their baby-to-come. Two of the six teens Chartan drove to the prom are still missing.)

            Chartan eased the limo onto I-80 with Mrs. Minerva on the back chatting on the phone. It was the usual roundtrip from Sacramento to her therapist, Dr. Kodor,  in San Francisco. In a few minutes he expected her to begin peppering him with questions about Gina’s pregnancy and his perspectives on fatherhood, a far departure from the early days when she called him “driver” and not much else. Of course, Chartan had become a minor legend, apprehending the car window bandit, disarming Elise at a Sacramento coffee house, calling in a forest fire by his apartment complex and, most recently, his role in driving two missing teens to the high school prom.  His only comment on the missing teens was “they were strangely quiet in the limo.” The local TV stations used his words to hype the mystery about where the teens might be.

            “My dear, Chartan.” Minerva’s voice eschoed in the front seat.

            “Yes, Madam?”

            “Is that son of yours kicking up a storm?”

            “Gina reports we have a soccer star on our hands.”

            “And a name? Do you have one yet?”

            “We discussed a name last night and I hope to have one in a day or two.”

            “Let me know as soon as you do—I want to set up a trust fund for him.

            Chartan replayed Minerva’s unexpected words before he smiled. “That is most generous of you.”

            “You are a friend, not just a driver.”

            “Starbucks today?”

            “No, thank you. I want to be as calm as possible for Dr. Kodor.”

            “I understand.”

            The intercom clicked off and they did not speak again until he held the door open for her in the reserved space in front of the Knob Hill Victorian that served as the famed therapist’s office.

            “You know, Chartan, I come here out of habit, one I can afford but one of questionable worth. I’d like to discuss an option with you on the way back.”

            She stared at him briefly as she passed—he was still holding the chrome door handle when she opened the ornate front door. Option?

            (Continued next Sunday)

Rolling in the Dirt

Don’t get angry if your dog rolls in the dirt. Dogs that go paws up in the dirt are comfortable with their surroundings. In the photo Molly lays on her back in the sun while twisting away. Amazingly the oils in her fur make it easy to brush off any debris by hand. It’s a different story when a dog rolls in dead fish at the beach–major wash required afterwards.

Geraniums: Disliked by Spiders and So-So with Honeybees

Honeybee hovering around a geranium.

Some 70 years ago I went into a brick house built in the 1760s. What I remember about the insides was the smell of red geraniums–they were everywhere. The elderly woman who lived there said geraniums keep spiders away–they don’t like the odor. To this day I think about that day when I see red geraniums.

We have a large number of these plants in our backyard. I’ve been told that honeybees don’t bother with geraniums because they produce little pollen. So, I took photos yesterday of a honeybee working our geraniums. There were no spiders to be seen and just this one bee.

The Adventures of Chartan: A Name

            (Last Sunday: Two of the six teens Chartan drove to the prom are missing; Brazil concentrates on taking Russian prisoners to a detention center.)

            Although Chartan tried not to wake Gina when he entered the apartment, she stumbled into the kitchen, fresh from a deep sleep.

            “You’re late,” she said. “Everything okay?”

            “Two teens I drove to the prom are missing—police can’t find them. They told me to go home and stay near a phone.”

            Gina sat at the kitchen table and yawned.  “I’m too tired to think, but that sounds like trouble.”

            “The fare was strange from the start.” Chartan sat down across from his wife. “I’ve had a lot of strangeness in my life—this is just another chapter.”

            “Am I strange?”

            “Of course, not. You’re the shining light in my life. I’m anxious for parenthood.”

            “Not as anxious as me—he’s kicking tonight.”

            “Maybe it’s time the ‘he’ had a name,” said Chartan with a smile.

            “Agreed. Do you have a name in mind?”

            Chartan stared at the table top and the crumbs from a blueberry muffin he had in the morning. He looked intently at Gina and said, “You realize I am not a good example—I have the same first and last name and that is odd to most people.”

            “Surely, you parents didn’t name you that.”

            “Their last name was Evers and they called me Charlie. After they died I legally changed my name to Chartan Chartan—I was 19, confused—I wanted to be alone, to start over again. I was into maps at the time. Charts are maps of a sort—that’s where I came up with the name. I only use one Chartan now—it’s legal.”

            “How come you never mention your parents?”

            “Sounds like a media interview?”

            “We’re bringing someone into the world without grandparents,” said Gina. “Our child will need a road map of where he came from—your parents are gone and I haven’t  seen either of mine in ten years—they may be dead for all I know.”

            “I pray Brazil returns safely—he can be a grandfather.”

            “And Julie would be a grandmother by default.”

            “Still doesn’t get us a name,” offered Chartan.

            “Maybe tomorrow, I’m falling asleep here,” said Julie.

            “Tomorrow sounds good.”

(Continued next Sunday)

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