There are two dogs in our family that currently share our home and the hilltop, and what a pair they are. They’re great companions, and enrich our lives. Both are house dogs, but enjoy being outside during the day.

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Last April I wrote about pollinator gardens, but spring keeps arriving earlier each year. Now is the time to begin establishing your pollinator garden. Of course the real establishment begins in autumn and can take a year or two. So let’s not wait another month! We can begin now to support our threatened pollinators, especially our native species, who are suffering each year from habitat loss. Creating a pollinator garden is an easy way for homeowners, even with small yards, to mitigate some of that loss. 

All cattle communicate with each other. We refer to it as bawling, which is a loud cry. But sometimes they make a gentle mooing sound. The noise a cow makes to find her wandering calf echoes across the hills. Often this loudness is with good reason. The calf, much like their young human counterparts, probably isn’t listening. Or more accurately, the calf chooses not to answer because they are “busy” doing something else. They aren’t ready to run obediently to their noisy momma, simply because she thinks it’s time for junior to eat.

Last week I wrote about botanical tolerance like to drought, salt and shade. This week, let’s talk about human tolerance.

There is so much news buzzing around the 21st Century Cures Act these days. One of the things the act talks about is a class of drugs the FDA designates as Regenerative Advanced Therapies (RAT). This means that these drugs or formulas work at the cellular level to regenerate, build and repair our tissues.

My affection for the Japanese maple shows in the number and variety of Japanese maples in my yard. I have one next to my garage door with succulents growing under it.  I have two in containers around my pool. I have two others against my fence for privacy. I also have one on the front wall of my home. I have chosen various colors and styles of the tree.

We usually experience the first frost in our gardens in the middle of November. For this reason, it is important to finish up your gardening projects at the beginning of the month. Move all of the frost-tender plants into the house, onto the patio, or under the eaves. 

We all know someone who has been given the diagnosis of cancer. It is definitely life-changing. The first time I was effected by the diagnosis was when my father received it. I didn’t think to ask him what went through his mind right then. I just watched him deteriorate for three months. Each day I hoped someone would give us the answer. Then he went to the hospital and didn’t come back; his was my first funeral.

I have taken Golden Sunrise Pharmaceutical products off and on for about three years now. On Nov. 22, 2015, I was involved in a horrendous car accident and was airlifted to the Fresno California Trauma Center. My injuries included and epidural bleed, a dissected carotid artery, five broken areas of my lower jaw, torn ligaments of the C1 and C2 vertebrae, eight broken ribs with a punctured and collapsed left lung among other injuries. During the 13 hours in the emergency room, I flat lined for 3 minutes and was given Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). I was intubated and a respirator breathed for me for a few days until I gradually began to breathe on my own. 

There are over 300 species of grasses native to California, but grasslands are among the most endangered ecosystems in the country. Looking at our hills we may find this hard to believe. But most of the grass species in pastures are not native to California or even to the United States. They are forage grasses and like all invasive species, have reduced diversity up and down the food chain in the environments they dominate. 

Irrigating native plant gardens is not difficult. The challenges arise when we plant species that like well-draining soils in clay, or when we plant California native plants and expect them to thrive on no water. Most of us have grown up knowing better how to water roses and turf lawn than our own native plants. The learning curve may be steep at first, but once we figure out how to irrigate with our climate  instead of despite it, things go smoothly.

The other day, a few of us were sitting around and talking about the school where one lady is working. We were comparing the school lunch/breakfast/food program to the school lunches we had when we were in grade school. Most of us carried our lunches and swapped the contents with our friends. Then the schools began to have cooks that prepared the food in the school’s kitchen. 

Almost everyone has suffered an ant invasion in the garden at some time, and the drought has made ants especially prevalent in our watered gardens. Although there are over 12 thousand ant species in the world, and 270 in California, only about a dozen species are serious pests, and less than half of those are pests of the garden. But if you are dealing with an invasion, you are still battling thousands of ants.  On the other hand, ants perform important functions such as controlling termites, fleas, caterpillers and eating tissue from dead organisms. We need ants in our world, even if they can be a nuisance or damaging. 

Whatever you grow, however you are connected, California agriculture offers an organization or association you can join and find compatibility and purpose. Some of them are realigning to face new and different challenges. 

On the way to Mammoth for an annual reunion with a group of backpacking friends, Al and I stopped at Lone Pine for dinner and lodging. Mount Whitney was clearly visible through the windows of the café, looming behind a ridge of peaks in the distance. Hikers sitting in tables around us were sharing their stories, reminding us of the excitement and lure of climbing the 14,497 foot mountain.