Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Lot Of Numbers For Joy

My first sighting of a beautiful Pipevine Swallowtail 4/26/13

In 14 days I'm going to 61 years old. I don't feel 61, but maybe I just don't know what 61 feels like, and this is it. My bones are 61 years old, and they feel it. Mostly in my stupid arthritic neck which drives me a little bit crazy 24/7. I guess there's no getting away from the ravages of degeneration. So maybe this is what 61 feels like.

Here's a cool story about the power of the sun on these old bones. In 2007 when Roger and I were still living up in cloudy Port Townsend, WA at latitude 48 degrees north, and missing the sun like 39 degree latitude junkies, I had my vitamin D levels tested. The normal range for Vitamin D is between 30-100. Mine was 13. THIRTEEN!! Yikes. And, of course, I had a bone density done and was diagnosed with osteoporosis. Holy shit, said I.

We left Port Townsend and moved back home to the sunnier climes of California. I started taking 400 mg of D3 everyday and spending more time in the sun. In 2009 we moved to Grass Valley where the sun is strong and relentless. I began a morning routine showering, and then drying off for 20 minutes on the deck in sunshine every sunny day. When I had my D level checked again in 2011, it had doubled to 26. Yes, that is still slightly below normal, but almost in range. The doctor asked me what I was doing in addition to my 400 mg of D, and I told her morning sunshine. She thought that was pretty impressive considering that it was winter and the angle of the sun is low. I also had a repeat bone density which showed me in the osteopenia range instead of osteoporosis. Yes, it was happy dance time.

Fast forward to March 2013 and I had my Vitamin D levels checked again. The results were 32.8. That's in the normal range. I'm still only taking 400 mg of D3 and still getting about 20 minutes of sunlight every morning. Imagine what that number would be if the level had been tested in the high angle sun of summer time.

I'm pretty delighted with these results. I'm shooting for 40 next time, but 32.8 at 61 in 14 days is a lot of numbers for joy!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Lousy pic of the three coyotes.
Okay, can we all just say that last week was the week from hell?

With the Boston Marathon bombings and the crazy manhunt aftermath, the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas that should have gotten way more attention, and the Senate's blunder on gun control and background checks I think we tipped the scales to emotional overload in a very big way.

Roger and I rarely turn the TV on during the day. We are not news watchers, and prefer to get information from online resources and then later from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. The only way we can really endure the current events of the day is if it has been filtered through brilliant comic minds. This bit of wisdom comes from our old age: laughing is way better than crying.

But when the call came Friday morning that my mother had taken a pretty bad fall and was in an ER at a hospital 450 miles from us, that pretty much sent me over the edge into stressed-out land. It was really too much. Fortunately, my sister lives very close and was able to spend the TWELVE FREAKIN' HOURS in the ER with my mother, while they tried to determine if she had a fractured pelvic bone, and get her a room. It was finding an available hospital room that took the most time. But really it is an outrage that my poor mother with her aching body had to endure such a grueling experience, not to mention the incompetent staff who let her food sit for two hours, who tried to give her medication that she does not take, who munched on potato chips in my sister's face and told her to call the pharmacy herself to check on correct medications. WTF? They're definitely getting a letter from me. I can't wait to write it. (Late breaking news: My mom is okay, seriously bruised but nothing broken. She's going home from the hospital on Monday.)

With nerves jangled by such stuff, we also learned that one of our neighbors' friends spotted a MOUNTAIN LION on our road, when he was driving off their property around 8:00 pm one evening a week ago. That explains why the usually robust deer population here has been scarce for about two weeks.

Then Sunday morning Roger announced, "Hey Robin, come look! I see a coyote." So, I got up and ran to the front door to see THREE coyotes trotting up our driveway toward the road. THREE HUGE COYOTES! ISN'T THAT A PACK? (Click on the pic at the top.)

I go out every morning just after daylight and feed a little feral cat that our neighbors abandoned. I also rehang the bird feeders (which we have to take in every night because of the BEAR). I have always gone out knowing that I could have a close encounter with a coyote, but I never considered running into a pack. The other day I said to Roger, "If you hear me scream, it's because I'm having a close encounter with the mountain lion." Now, I swear, I could be screaming about so many things.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sunset Rainbow

A couple of years ago, when we first moved to the foothills, I often ventured outside to see if I could photograph the crazy light that shone on the trees at sunset. On one particular evening there was a rainbow in the sunset-colored sky, so I photographed that as well. As I have been learning about the sky and light and atmospheric optics, I have discovered that rainbows at sunset are actually somewhat rare occurrences. I just love learning about the sky. Les Cowley of Atmospheric Optics writes, "Sunset rainbows are unusual and can be unbelievably red as the sun's long path through the atmosphere results in nearly all the blues and greens being scattered away before the light reaches the raindrops."
He also wrote, "whenever there is something noteworthy in the sky it is good policy to check the opposite direction - Nature's wonders can come in pairs."

So, next time I'm definitely looking west!

Saturday, April 13, 2013


last summer we found a water leak in a buried line supplying outside faucets. the supply line for these faucets branches off the main pipe to the house, so turning off the water to stop the leak also stopped water from getting to the house. divining where the pipe might go i dug up the next in line outside faucet and found the other end of the leaky pipe. alas, i had to cut the pipe to cap it so we could have water in the house. i should add that the leak was in a copper fitting. when someone put in the outside faucets and ran a line under where a driveway would go, they changed from pvc to copper. i don't fix copper without an air pressure test because it is very hard to fix a leak after there has been water in the line. a lesson learned the hard way. so i needed to be able to turn off the outside water system and still have water to the house. and to do that i had to locate a buried pvc pipe. i had a place to start where i dug enuf to find the pipe next to an outlet. i could see the direction the pipe headed. so i dug a bit further. uh oh. it's curving.
the white things are bits of pvc pipe showing the arc of the buried pipe, determined by digging holes where i guessed i would find it. i installed a valve, repaired the copper line, tested it, and restored water to our outside faucets.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


When I think of spring, I always think of yellow. The daffodils come first, quickly followed by the forsythia. Such a welcomed burst of color after the grays and browns of winter. Soon after though what I look forward to is this yellow blossom on the native yellow star tulip that blooms in our yard.

But there are subtle colors as well, like these light green new leaves on the hillside trees,
and the beautiful camouflage on this grasshopper, blending so well in the wood chips and weeds.

On the still-bare stems of last year's flowers and grasses it's easy to spot the rainbow reds and yellows on the back of this jumping spider. A truly dazzling little bundle of color.

And, if you look really carefully you'll see the lovely blue spots on this lizard. I first saw this guy doing push-ups on the Buddha's head. I thought to myself, there must be a profound lesson in this I'm sure, but I have no idea what it is. I just loved it and laughed out loud.

PS-- Bonsai is hanging in there in what we are sure is the ninth of his nine lives. He is a tired old kitty cat, but still enjoys a good bite of food and some water everyday.

Sunday, April 07, 2013


We both had ideas and photos for a post here, but our attention has been distracted by an ailing kitty cat. We've had Bonsai for almost twelve years. He was a rescued stray with a lot of strange disabilities. Last week, though, we could discern among his quirky behaviors, seizures, and unsteady gait a whole new set of ailments. Bonsai is sick. We think he may have been eating some of the new green shoots of the native iris. Turns out those shoots are quite toxic to cats. Bonsai's behavior is an exact fit for the list of symptoms.
So, instead of a post about all the other things that could have been posted, here's a photo of the beautiful native iris.

Monday, April 01, 2013


we like to look back through this blog to see what and how and when we did garden things.

here are our recently moved raised beds, the ones with the with wire mesh covers, which will support shade cloth in the summer to protect the kale and chard we just planted. visible also are a low bed of strawberries, two raised beds with garlic, another raised bed with garlic and onions, some chives and beets in the nearest bed, and onion flowers and carrots off to the lower right.

seedlings in our recently moved raised beds. kale and red chard.

bush sugar peas