Sunday, November 23, 2014

Timing

We got lots and lots of rain over the past few days. The weather report promised and delivered. I think we are above average for this time of the year, which really helps given the parched drought conditions we have been in. The meteorologists always have to warn that just because we've gotten a bit of rain doesn't mean the three-year drought is over, lest some people erroneously think a few inches means water restrictions will end. Nope. Not yet.

Once the rain passes, we head out for some good long walks in the neighborhood. All the grasses have turned back to their beautiful greens, and the birds are busy looking for food in the new shoots.
We did get to see these two crows preening on the high voltage post. I thought at first it was a pair of ravens, but after downloading the pics, not so much.
The one on the right was so patient, preening and preening, while the one on the left seemed a bit put off by all the attention. We hadn't seen these birds interact with each other quite like this, so we took a while watching them.
We were pleasantly surprised when the one on the left decided to return the favor and preen his/her friend. It was a lovely gesture. I said to Roger, "Isn't it great to be out to watch these two? Such good timing." (Just discovered that this behavior for Corvids is called allopreening. It's a way of strengthening the bonds of a mated pair.)

Then we walked on and came to the little goat-pig-cow-turkey-chicken farm. I noticed that the little piggy was no longer in the pen. It was a friendly little thing, always coming grunting over to us when we walked by, maybe looking for a little food or a bit of a scratch behind the ears. Oh well, it is Thanksgiving season, I suppose someone may be having some piggy for dinner. Then, we rounded the corner just in time to see a large turkey being held by its feet, upside down ready to be slaughtered. Our eyes met. I bolted and ran ahead with my hands over my ears. I didn't want to hear a sound, and I didn't.

Damn, timing is everything.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

Irrational Exuberance

We almost bought a house. We were distracted by it for a week. We didn't think about anything else. We made an offer on it even though it really wasn't what we wanted. It had some things that were great, but way more things that weren't good at all.

To give you an idea of what the housing market looks like here, imagine this: most of the housing stock was built a long, long time ago, and much of it has not been upgraded at all. That means single-paned windows, no insulation, old plumbing, and mold.

This is NOT the house that we thought about buying. This is right down the street from us, in the neighborhood where we are renting. It was built in 1850. It is on the market right now for $595,000. Yup, you read that correctly. More than a half a million dollars. It does have 20 acres, but still, that's a 164 year old house. It currently rents for $2500 A MONTH!!!
This is the garden next to that old house. It's not fancy. The rest of the 20 acres is used for cattle grazing. Investors buy a lot of the houses here and rent them out to students. It's easy money. Yes, this place is rented to students. The house we crazily thought about buying had another interested buyer-- an investor. Of course.

We have not lost our enthusiasm. We are optimistic. We have a real estate agent who keeps us posted about all the new listings. We're ready. We were just a little bit surprised by our irrational exuberance about finding a house that wasn't even really close to what we wanted and making an offer on it. We set some rules. Now we just have to see if we can follow them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Winter's Divers and Dabblers

Eared Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Sleeping Green-winged Teal

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Something New (with update!)

Les Cowley at Atmospheric Optics has something spectacular on his website all the time. It's one of my first internet stops in the morning to see what fantastic image is posted there. Sunday morning he had a photograph of a mirage taken from Vancouver Island looking out to the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Here's a link to it. Go take a look, and then come back and I'll tell you why it blew my mind.
There's an arrow pointing to what Moss Landing usually looks like on a cloudy day across the bay. Not zoomed in at all.
Here are two views of Moss Landing. The above image is what we usually see from the beach house. The image below is one I found on the internet. It gives you a better idea of what Moss Landing typically looks like.

Back in May, Roger and I went to the beach house in Capitola to celebrate my birthday with my twin brother. The three of us went for a walk and looked out across Monterey Bay and saw this.
The smoke stacks across the bay are the Moss Landing Power Plant. Those stacks are visible throughout the Monterey Bay area. They are definitely a landmark. On this day they appeared half-way covered by a fog bank or something. My brother told me he had seen them like this a number of times. Dully reflective and strangely optical. I was intrigued, but not excited. The above photo was taken at noon. At 12:25 it looked like this.
Click on the image. That's a mirage. I didn't know that's what we were looking at until I read Les Cowley's site Sunday morning. I was glad I had saved these images even though they made no sense to me. I'm still not sure what kind of mirage this is, and I plan to write Les to find out. When I went back to my photo archives I found another image taken from a slightly different perspective.
Here's a close up of that.

I can't begin to understand how this image is possible. Seriously. What are we looking at here? I have no idea. But that's what we saw, and I'm going to embark on a journey of enlightenment to find out. I'll keep you posted.

Here is Les Cowley's response:
"Your mirage is a superior type, so called because the extra images are above the object being miraged.    Air normally gets cooler with increasing height.   When there is a cold ocean current the air near to the waves gets cooled and there is a temperature inversion - cool air below warmer.    In California in some months it is exacerbated by warm air coming off the land and layering above the cool ocean air.  Light gets refracted as it crosses the temperature gradients of the inversion and forms the mirage.

At Santa Cruz you have an inverted image of the coastline and buildings above the horizon.   The inversion layer does not extend to the height of the chimneys and so they poke out from the mirage apparently unaffected."

He wrote that there is a hint of a Fata Morgana as well. 

He also sent a link to another photo on his website. I highly recommend that you take a look.