Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Colors

We had our rush of yellow daffodils last month, and the yard lit up like the quintessential dream of spring. The flowers are already gone, and nothing is ready to burst forth in bloom to remind us of the season. So we've been out finding other splashes of colors in our world.

This California Tortoiseshell showed up last week and hung around long enough for a quick photo. It's already a bit bedraggled by time, but still, that orange color is a welcomed sight.
The Western Bluebirds have been coming to the yard at dusk and hunting for food. And luckily for them there's plenty here for them to munch on. They typically catch ground-dwelling insects such as grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, ants, wasps, and pill bugs, as well as eating spiders and snails. We hear them chattering away to each other as they fly from roof to pole for a better view of the yummy yard buffet!
One morning we noticed a duck in the pond. From a distance it was hard to identify. We knew it was a male of some species because we could see some hint of color, and just assumed it was a mallard. It wasn't until later in the day that we remembered to look again and more closely. What a grand surprise it was to see this wonderful, astonishingly beautiful wood duck. It was around for two days. We're hoping it will find a mate and use the nest box Roger built for wood ducks a few years ago. (You really need to click on the photo to get a sense of this guy's colors.)
Roger had his minor surgery last Wednesday (April 9th) to remove that squamous cell carcinoma bump by his eye. It was the surgery he was quite squeamish about because of its location. It all went well, and here's a photo of his black and blue eye a few hours after surgery.
But now the eye has taken a back seat to the rhinovirus that is currently knocking him out. Somewhere in his travels to doctor and dentist offices, and the travails of surgery and anxiety, he picked up a virus. I've never heard Roger cough so much in all these 25 years we've been together. He's definitely on the the mend, but damn I think he's had enough health issues on his plate to last the rest of his days. So, universe if you're listening to a small voice on a small planet whirling in this galaxy, I'm shouting "Knock it off." LOL!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Low Tide Walk

We did get to take a low-tide walk while we were in Capitola. It is one of our most favorite things to do. We knew we were lucky that our visit coincided with even this minimal -0.2 tide. That was enough to get us out there and walking. I found the below photo online that shows you an aerial view what the beach typically looks like.
The cliff face above the bay
If you click on it, you'll see why this stretch of beach is really only accessible at minus tides. The path from Capitola Beach heading south east has a sign warning walkers not to go this way. It's dangerous for so many reasons. The cliff is literally crumbling into the sea. But it is such an enlightening beach to walk to see the fossil layers in those cliffs, we always take our chances. We also always hope there won't be an earthquake while we're out there. That would be the absolute end of the bums.
How the cliff face crumbles (with Roger doing size perspective!)
This is what the debris looks like after a bit of crumbling. I wrote about it here, when I took this photo in 2009. But when we have a chance to see the beautiful cliff walls, we just can't stay away.
The stratified layers on the cliff face
On our most recent walk, the tide was not nearly as far out as it is in the above photo (taken in December 2008), but it was out enough to let us take a look around. The sand was so high there were no tide pools visible. None of our favorite fossils could be seen in the big rocks strewn about the beach. But we did get a good look at how much erosion is happening here at the top of the cliff.
Backyard cliff face erosion
If you click on the photo, you'll see the fence that probably wasn't always suspended over space like that. It's an interesting view of the ongoing erosion here. I look at the light pole just a few feet away and know its fate. Just hope that there isn't someone down below when that thing comes down. Who ever expects to get hit by a light pole when they're out taking a nice walk on a beautiful beach? Certainly not us.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014

We Took A Long Drive

We decided to drive to the coast and spend a few days in Capitola before Roger's minor surgery for that small squamous cell carcinoma bump next to his eye. Interestingly, Roger is more anxious about this surgery than he was about his colon cancer surgery. Here's why: He is not going to have a general anesthetic, just a local right there next to his eye. And then… he is going to be awake the whole time the surgery is happening right there next to his eye. See? It's a little claustrophic with surgeon hands, and an assistant, and Roger's eye. So he's anxious. He called the surgeon and asked for a prescription for Atavan, and the doc prescribed Valium. Good enough. He'll relax with some Valium. Right? Well, he went to pick up the prescription and the pharmacist handed it to him and said, "Here's your one valium. That'll be 33 cents!" Seriously one valium for Roger? That's crazy. Roger is a fainter. His GP once had to lance an abscess on his shin while Roger was lying on the floor.

So we came to the coast to relax before the surgery on April 9th.
A pelican among the gulls

A good storm is supposed to blow in Monday and Tuesday so we walked down to the wharf right away to get some sunshine and view of the calming blue-green waters.
Otter dining al fresco
Sometimes when the timing is just right we are reminded of these lines from the song Southern Cross that Stephen Stills wrote for Crosby Stills and Nash:
When you see the Southern Cross for the first time,
you understand now why you came this way…
You looking at me?
That's how we feel when we see an otter eating or looking back at us.

That's how we feel when we see a Snowy Egret walking the surf line looking for food.

We understand now why we came this way.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Halos, Arcs, and a Walk

In February the skies were uniformly gray. Most of March, they have been endlessly blue. For an atmospheric optic lover, it has been a long stretch of time without having to run for the camera for a quick shot of something beautifully ephemeral. Then this happened.

What is this? It's a supralateral arc with a circumzenithal arc above; it's a 22 degree halo with some other kind of arc shining off the top of it. Ooh. I was really really happy to see this. I couldn't stop running outside to look up, even though I was in the middle of preparing food for dear friends who were coming to visit to take a nice long walk with us. Yes, I ran outside again. The upper supralateral and circumzenithal arcs had disappeared, but I saw this.
Oooh, this sight made me dancing-happy (like that Pharrell Williams song). Oh yes. This is the kind of thing I would run outside and let food burn on the stove for, luckily it didn't come to that! I know that we are looking at a 22 degree halo here, but it's the other stuff that's a bit more tricky. I think there's an upper tangent arc and very faintly a parhelic circle with the hint of a sundog on the right. This was truly one of the best arcs and halos moments I have ever experienced.

Our friends arrived for lunch and a walk. We took one of our local ditch walks right out the door. We love when we don't have to get into the car to take a hike. We call this the upper ditch because we do have to walk quite a bit uphill to get here.
There were native plants blooming along the trail. Like this Sierra Gooseberry (Ribes roezlii).
And this Giant Trillium called a Wakerobin (Trillium angustipetalum).
We had a wonderful walk with good friends under a dazzling blue sky. We sure do love a happy-dancing kind of day like this!