Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens with Sonja


Last week I tagged along with Payam for a work thing and since it happened to be in my friend Sonja’s neighborhood, I decided to visit my old 7days buddy. It’s been a few since we last hung out, sadly. But you know what makes me happy? She didn’t even mention that I haven’t visited in forever and she took me on a walk with her boys to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens! I LOVE that she thinks nature trails when I come to visit. That’s the kind of friend I want to be.


It was a beautiful spring day, squeezed in between weeks of dreary rainy days so we felt like we won the lottery with the weather. It was so nice! Look at that snow! I’ve been scrolling past post after post of snowmageddon images on Instagram feeling major FOMO so getting a glimpse of snow like this is gleeful. Wee! Snow! If only I owned a cabin and we could pile the dogs in the truck and head up for a day of it. Not gonna happen though. I am on budget-watch 2019 and no trips to the snow are included. Sad face.


But that’s okay because we have things we can do for free like visit nature trails and look at native plants and art installations…


This particular installation was so perfect for the gardens. If I was a sculptor making stainless steel origami statues I would definitely want them placed strategically around these gardens. It was wonderful. Walk into a clearing, there stand some iron origami horses. Look sideways into a dark patch of evergreens, there’s a tower of origami cranes. 


Paper airplanes, floating boats, standing bison, iron eagles… it was very imaginative and fun. Hats off to the artists.


Of course there were animals to watch too.


We brought our very own wild animals with us. Just kidding.

Sonja’s boys are not wild animals but they are boys and therefore very different than girls, which is what I’m used to. No chatting about ASMR or singing Ariana Grande songs or whining about who gets to sit in the front on the way back but definitely lots of climbing, stick stealing and rock-throwing… At one point we were by a pond and her boys were throwing big boulders into the pond. Sploosh went the boulders one after another until a woman nearby who was eating her lunch chided them to stop. They stopped and threw little pebbles into the pond instead.

Then later they were sliding down a stone wall next to a staircase and someone piped up that they sure hoped they didn’t get hurt which passive-aggressively meant: please stop doing that. Sonja very kindly informed the woman that the boys were fine and she was keeping an eye on them. I had to admire her parenting because if boys can’t play in a botanic garden full of nature, where can they play? I suppose the commenter preferred they sat quietly on a bench sketching or something but if anyone knows boys, they know that is just silly.


I supremely enjoyed myself even without any quiet sketching. I could have easily wiled away an hour or two sketching my favorite plants but it was fun to see the park through new eyes. Not just flora and fauna but fun jungle gyms and rock launchers, stinging nettles, noisy palm fronds and which stick would make the best walking stick.


I suppose this post is going to be pretty boring to most. Except the 2 percent who love native California plants like I do. Hey there 2 percent! Let’s be friends! Happy, sunny black-eyed Susans, curling spindly reddish manzanita…these are a few of my favorite things!


Don’t hold back on the spikes dudes!


Before I close up this post I should also mention that they have lovely facilities if anyone wanted to throw a gala event or a wedding. How pretty, right? There were white paper solar powered lanterns everywhere.  I would love to come back at night and see how they glow.


Very lastly, on the way to the parking lot actually, we visited the nursery. I wanted to take home a few spikey friends but my drive was long and I didn’t really do my research yet on where I should plant them at home so they stayed there. Next time!


Descanso and THAT Face


You know how it is when you look forward to something for months and then when that day finally rolls around and your kid is in a mood where she wants to wear the ugliest sweatshirt she owns, she refuses to wash her hair AND she makes THAT FACE every time you pull the camera out? You know that face where she pulls her chin in so that she has about three double chins? That face.

Granted, double chins run in our family (it’s kind of hard not to have one) and she has had a camera in her face since the day she was born so she does kind of have a right to say enough is enough and rebel but….

LE sigh. I am that mom who is bummed about THAT face. And the more bummed I become, the more she makes that face!


So yeah. That day I was looking forward to was the day we went see all the pretty lights at Descanso Gardens. We’ve been three times now. I’m sad to say that I think with the latest addition of THAT FACE, I am officially done with Descanso Gardens. It’s still really pretty and I still really like it but the traffic is three hours of nightmare, the displays are all pretty much the same (not counting the ones that my middle-aged brain forgot about) AND the kids are officially bored of it. At least Bug is.


Joon was a perfect angel of course. That’s how they are. When one is acting up the other turns angelic. When Joon is talking back and getting argumentative about something Bug turns into the sweetest kid ever. I guess they know I can only take so much OR they know they are getting points at the other’s expense.


Anyway, Descanso was as pretty as ever. I was a little disappointed that there were no new displays. I guess I am spoiled from times before when they installed these really cool spinny lights.


This time everything was the same. Funnily, my memory is crap these days (a side effect of menopause and a possible vitamin deficiency causing brain fog)  so many of the displays seemed new to me even though they weren’t . Of course my kids were very quick to answer in chorus that there was indeed NOT anything new and it was just my old fart dementia. My turn to make THAT face.


Someday when I’d dead (and still paying for this site hosting with my book royalties) they will read these old words and wish they were nicer to me. Heh.

Maybe they will or maybe they won’t but I do want them to know that I love them to pieces…


EVEN when they make that annoying face and are ruining almost every photo!