Friday, December 31, 2010

The Sky At The End Of The Year

These two photos were taken less than ten minutes apart.
Just shows, you never really know what's coming next.
This time it was a snowsquall and white out.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

There Is No Parable: Hawk and Dove

It's the kind of thing I should be used to already. After all, hawks kill birds in the yard quite often. We find the feather evidence at least once a week, sometimes twice. But I've never watched the whole thing happen until Tuesday morning. I was sitting at the table sipping my tea. The seed-eaters were all over the yard: in the platform feeder, on the tube feeder, under the feeders, in the garden where the seed is scattered. It was both an energetic and bucolic scene.
For some reason the doves never have a chance. The other birds always sense danger first and fly away like their lives depended on it. The doves almost always stop and listen; they take their time; they doubt the danger and go for one more tiny seed. It never fails. I watch them. Their minds always seem to be on something else. Their little heads bobble forward and back, forward and back, as they walk from under the feeder to the garden and back. It's like they are wearing earplugs and are listening to their favorite music as loud as they can. "World? What world? Hawks? What hawks? I'm grooving to my inner music and heading to get me some more seed over there."
Pow. A hawk flies in from the tall pines and slams a dove. Feathers swirl around like a brief snow flurry. Then nothing. Quiet. The hawk stands over the dove, its talons sunk into its body. It waits. It squeezes and waits.
It takes a while for a dove to die. Longer than I thought it would. It's a brutal few minutes of struggle. The hawk looks over its shoulder. It looks down at the dove. The dove tries to flee, its wings flap. The hawk shifts position. It squeezes and waits. Minutes pass, until it finally takes off with its prey, leaving nothing but a pile of feathers and blood on the driveway. Roger hooked up the hose and washed that away for me.

I'm a little surprised that I watched the whole thing, but I did. I even shot a 40 second video, which I won't post because I can't stand to look at it. I understand the nature of things, it's the suffering I find unbearable. I wish I had learned something I did not already know.

We always say we feed all the birds, and it's true. Both the hawk and the dove.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays

Sometimes the way the light hits the tree or the way the smallest drops of rain shine blue and red from the branches, you just know how the season came to be. Happy holidays from The Bums.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010


My father and his sister were born one year apart on December 19. Helen was born in 1917 and my father in 1918. I love looking at this photo, seeing them in the grass with their much loved dog, Gypsy. I love my father's eyes and how he looks at the camera. I love how my Aunt Helen looks playful and happy, the way I remember her in life.

My father would have been 92 years old today. Everyday I see something, cook something, laugh or scoff at something, feel my heart break about something that reminds me of him. Reminds me of his shyness, his quietness, his quirkiness, his protectiveness, his love. If he knew, all these years later, how much his family still holds him gently in their hearts, he would know what a great job he had done as a dad and husband.

I love and miss you, dad, happy birthday.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Updates and Mushrooms

There's only one thing to do this time of the year: Look for mushrooms. They are brought to us by the persistent gray, rainy, foggy, and wet weather of December. The Sierra Mountain range is 138% of normal snowfall now. I haven't even checked how far out of average we are for rainfall, but we are absolutely soggy here.

This time of the year I go out in search of color. For me, mushrooms are to early winter as flowers are to spring. That beautiful burst of life out of the brown earth. I don't go looking for edibles, I go looking for species, for variety, for shapes and sizes. Spongy bottoms or gills, stems and veils, pointy caps or round? They're all pushing up through pine needles and rain-soaked leaves. It just makes me happy to find them. Six days before winter solstice and the crazy low angle of the sun, I take that happiness how ever I can get it. The photo collage above is of the mushrooms I've seen around the house the past few days. The big one in the middle though is from last winter. A beautiful oldie, but goodie photo.

The local mushrooms that have really caught my attention are these. Out of an old oak stump in the yard, these mushrooms grow in clumps from every crevice and crack. Roger pointed out a new crop growing where he had dug into the ground for the foundation of the sauna. He uncovered part of the oak's root system, and these mushrooms sprang out of there, like they'd just been waiting for the low light and the rain. This perfect moment.

In other news and updates: We did receive a reimbursement check in the full amount from the dealership. We have decided to take that money and buy a woodstove insert for the fireplace. The propane gas insert really does not heat the house in any appreciable way, so we've started looking at woodburning ones. Quite exciting, and way more practical than a useless, fraudulent extended warranty. Win-win!

Bonsai the kitty cat has been responding to the pureed pumpkin lately. I won't go into the messy details, but let's just say that it works incredibly well as a feline laxative. I put two teaspoons in his wet food with plenty of added warm water to make his favorite gravy, and yum yum yum. He's happy, and he's not constipated. Win-win!

Roger starts his fifth round of chemo therapy Wednesday. He took two weeks off to recover from a persistent upper respiratory cough and that foggy-headed chemo brain. He does feel some better, but not completely well. This part of the update is neutrally noted.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wacky Weird Warranty Wednesday

Last Thursday, FedEx dropped off an empty box sent by Apple to put my Macbook in and ship to them for repair. On Friday, we dropped that box off at the local FedEx. My computer spent the weekend in Memphis at the FedEx hub, and was delivered to Apple on Monday. Apple emailed to tell me they had it and were working on it. They emailed again Monday night to say it had been repaired and was being shipped back to me. FedEx delivered it to me Tuesday afternoon. I am typing this post on it! Isn't that an incredibly fast turn-around? Here is the list of things that Apple replaced on my computer:

Main Logic Board
Top Case

When we bought this computer, we purchased a three-year warranty, and thanks to that warranty, there was no charge for this service. My mac feels different to my fingers. I think that might be explained by the replaced Top Case. The keyboard feels tighter. It feels like a new computer. I am absolutely pleased!

This is the very best kind of warranty story, but then there are other kind of extended warranties, like the story we are about to tell you:
When Roger and I bought the used Subaru back in October, we bought a 4 Year-48,000 mile extended warranty. We hadn't really thought about buying such a thing, but when the salesman was taking us out for a test drive, he said, "This car is in such good condition, I would buy an extended warranty on it." We both thought that he was trying to sweeten the deal by buying us the extended warranty. Later, when talking with the financial adviser who drew up the paperwork and contracts for the sale, we learned that the salesman was only making a recommendation, not an offer. Still, he had planted a seed, and we thought it might be a good idea to purchase the warranty. It cost $1756, but as the financial adviser pointed out, one major engine problem could easily cost more than that. It was worth the investment for our own peace of mind. Well, okay. We were convinced, especially since by that time we were utterly exhausted by how it long it takes to buy a car and process such a transaction. We couldn't think clearly and ask pertinent questions, like why the financial adviser kept looking in his drawer for information on the warranty, but never actually showed us what he was looking at.

After two weeks had passed and we hadn't received any details on the warranty, which in the contract said was with Warranty Company A (not the real name), I checked our envelope of documents from the sale and discovered there was no copy of that paperwork in it. So, began a series of phone calls with the dealership to find out the status of our warranty. First, we were told that it could take two-four weeks for documentation; then we were told it could take four to six; and then six to eight. Roger asked for some documentation of the original application and coverage, and was sent a xeroxed copy of the application on 8 1/2 x 11 paper, which cut off the address and contact information of the warranty company and our signatures. And, we learned on one phone call that the warranty was not really with Warranty Company A, but with a company named Warranty Company B. There was no website for that company to be found.

We were quite alarmed by all of this, and late last week I called the dealership again and asked for paperwork to be sent to us, but this time with the pertinent details that had been omitted on the xeroxed copy. That document arrived on Saturday. We were shocked. Roger's signature looked absolutely forged to us. Something was definitely not right with any of this. The dealership said they no longer contracted with Warranty Company A, and that their name was only an erroneous computer default on the sales contract. But we suspected that the something made us ineligible for Warranty Company A and the dealership had tried to cover it up by submitting paperwork to Warranty Company B, and had signed Roger's name to it. But really we had no way of knowing what was going on.

On Monday, I called the dealership and left a lengthy voice mail message with the General Manager. I told him what I've written here, and that we no longer wanted the warranty, but wanted the dealership to reimburse us in full for it. I thought the dealership had treated us in an incredibly unprofessional manner. We never got the same answer twice when we called them. In addition, if the warranty company couldn't get a single bit of information to us in two months, how could they possibly handle a claim in a timely and effective manner? The General Manager returned my call later in the day, and agreed to reimburse us in full. He did try to sell me on the importance of the warranty, but I held my ground.

So, here are my questions for you, friends:

1. Do you think they were trying to commit some kind of fraud?

2. Should we report them to the Better Business Bureau (after we receive our check, of course!).

3. Should we talk to someone about the forgery? The above photo has four documents that purport to have Roger's signatures. Just look at those signatures and tell us if one looks inauthentic.