Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Surprising Egg Story

Our friends on Facebook have already seen this, but I really wanted to post it here and tell you the surprising story of the big egg.

Roger and I did cat care for his daughter and family while they were out of town for the holidays. They live about ten miles from us. It's a beautiful drive through cow country and then over the Humboldt Bay bridge into Eureka. We love making the drive, so it was a real treat to head over there every morning for a few days to feed little Kitty Meow Meow. Roger also checked on the chickens and gathered a few eggs on Friday and then again on Sunday.
It was the Sunday egg gathering that completely surprised us. Roger came into the kitchen holding this huge egg. He said, "Can you believe this? Is this not the biggest chicken egg you have ever seen?" Yes, wow. That's wild. No, I couldn't believe it, but there he was holding it. It was huge. I photographed it in the palm of his hand.
When we came home I asked him to hold an extra-large chicken egg from the dozen we had just bought at the store. I wanted to put together a side-by-side comparison photo. This is what I came up with.

We wondered what would make such a big egg. We had absolutely no idea. It could be two yolks, but we have all seen an egg with two yolks and it didn't look like this. So, I posted the photo on Facebook, and Roger's daughter commented and added a photo of what the egg looked like after she had cracked it open to make some fried eggs on Monday.
Wow. This egg had a second fully formed egg inside. What a crazy shock that was. I immediately googled "egg inside an egg" and found an article that discussed this phenomenon called counter peristalsis contraction. It is quite rare, but as you can see, it does happen. The linked article discusses the biology behind such a phenomenon, and it's really quite interesting.

So, that is our surprising egg story. If you are anything like me, you are thrilled to learn something new everyday. I was so happy about this. Who knew such a thing was possible, and how wonderful it is to have held such an egg and seen the craziness inside that big shell.

And this is our last post of 2014. 
Happy New Year, friends! 
See you in 2015.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Post #77 for 2014!

We did it! We topped the number of posts that we had done 2012 and 2013. When I changed the blog archive format and could see in the cold hard numbers how much our blogging had declined from those early heady days of 2005-2010, I was shocked (and dismayed). Only 67 in 2012 and 76 in 2013. Yikes, where had our creativity gone? I think I remember a few years back contemplating doing one post a week. Yeah, I could do that and still keep the blog going. But when I looked at the numbers, I thought, there must be more we could say, do, photograph, contemplate, consider, and dream. So, I set a small goal, more blog posts than 2013. We did it!
Varied Thrush on the fence in the yard
There is always something worth looking at and photographing right outside the window, like this beautiful Varied Thrush (one of my most favorite birds). Or, even on a foggy day when the weather report promised us a day of sunshine after weeks of gray and rain, we find a reflection in the high tide that wavers gently in the breeze that makes us glad we took the walk anyway (click on the pic!).

Tower and reflection during a high King Tide
And because the year is not yet over, there will probably be one more on Wednesday. We're on a roll. I think the goal for 2015 will be two posts a week. What do you think? Too much? We'll keep you posted. LOL!

We thank you thank you for your comments and for stopping by. We appreciate your presence immensely.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

The only snow we will see here, this snowy egret and her snowflake feathers.
Click on me!

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Past Few Days

We have gotten a ton of rain. The month of December has been an incredibly soggy mess. The backyard is squishy when we walk out there to look at the newly potted chard plants. The rains keep coming. I check the rain gauge out in the yard whenever the rain lets up to see the incredible numbers. It may not be drought ending yet, but we're on our way.  So there hasn't been much in the way of photographic opportunities. There's hardly been a chance to get out for a decent walk. We really need to improve our rain gear. It's been so long since we've needed anything like that, we simply don't have the stuff to keep us dry. We know we need to go to the store and SHOP. (Oh yeah, like that's going to happen!)
I did check on The Cloud Appreciation Society website the other morning and found this photo that I had sent to them in early November. What a delight it was to see it there and to find that it had been added to their "Our Favorites" list. It certainly put a bit of sunlight into an otherwise bleak day.
There was a slight break in the gray skies on Friday when this appeared on the eastern horizon, a Kelvin Helmoltz formation above a cloud that looks so much like a breaking wave.
And, we did see this fantastic example of Asperatus Undulatus just before the skies darkened even deeper and the rains didn't let up for two days.

We just celebrated the winter solstice. We're looking forward to more light. We know it returns slowly, but just knowing that the sun is heading back our way is enough for now. Here is a photo we sent to friends and posted on Facebook. We share it with you here and wish you all a Happy Winter Solstice.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

arcata garden!

we have been in arcata 6 months now in a rented house, checking out every house that comes up for sale. some are interesting but not quite it. many are too expensive and/or too big. some are not even interesting. 

we have had large flower and vegetable gardens for many years. our rental has a large enough back yard and suitable southern exposure for a garden. but we were optimistic that we could find a house to buy before a garden would get far along, so we put off garden thoughts.

we do walk a lot and shortly after we arrived we noticed freshly planted chard and kale starts in local gardens. all sorts of flowers. pumpkins. we looked longingly but consoled ourselves with visions of our own garden soon to be. as the months went by we noticed that the stuff we saw freshly planted was yielding produce and flowers.

tasty organic locally grown produce is readily available. we eat well. but growing your own has benefits beyond nutrition.

the other day, in the wonderful, but sometimes abused, local tradition of putting out free stuff, someone put out, among a highly varied offering, some large grow pots. maybe 3 gallons each, made of lightweight black plastic. easy enough to carry 4 blocks to home. we succumbed to the lure of gardening.

the food coop still has plant starts. so we have 6 beginning red chard plants. out in the rain for their first watering. they will go under shelter if the rain gets heavy.

Friday, December 19, 2014

December 19th

I've posted this photo here on the blog a couple of times. It's my father and his sister in 1937. They were born a year apart on December 19th. Helen was born in 1917. My father William in 1918. They are both gone now for many years, but they are still dearly loved and sweetly remembered. Happy birthday to to my very dear father and to Aunt Helen. Everlasting life happens in the hearts of those who love you. We say your names.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Computer Breakdown

Remember this top photo? I posted it on the blog on November 18th. After I had finished editing it in Photoshop, I quit the program and opened up my Firefox browser to create the blog post. The browser was open to my Facebook page, and this is how the page looked.
I  should have known something was really not right with my computer. Somehow the photo and the browser combined to make this bizarre image. I took a screenshot of it and posted it on Facebook. Computers don't act like this when they are well and functioning happily. I dismissed it as a strange computer glitch and expected/hoped/wished it would be okay. I tried not to think any more about it. Between November 18th, when I took that top photo and December 10th, when my computer died, I noticed some crazy stuff going on. My browser never quite shut down without a "force quit." I got the Macintosh "spinning ball of death" many, many times a day. I often had to do a hard shut down because the computer literally stopped functioning. Then, on December 10th, after my zillionth time restarting it, the computer would not restart. We took it to the local MAC repair shop, and after a few days they notified me that they had to replace the hard drive and the operating system. A new hard drive meant that I had to reinstall my files from my external backup. I had done my last backup on November 30th. So, the only photos that survived between then and December 10th were the ones I had posted on the blog and Facebook.
I had taken several photos of this Townsend Warbler on December 6th, but this is the only one I posted on Facebook. I was so glad to see it. The really interesting thing is that without this visual reminder I wouldn't have even remembered what was missing from my iPhoto files.

 Like, this beautiful sunset of December 3rd. What a sight. I had taken about fifteen or twenty shots of the sun going down on this evening. This is all that's left.

After the computer was repaired and I had reinstalled all my files from backup, I tried to do some system updates when I got this message.

Oh I was not happy to see this. Back to the MAC repair shop it went. So, for about a week I used our old PC, learning the ways of that world. Then, on Tuesday the 16th, the repair folks called to say that they had done all updates and run hardware diagnostics. "Everything is fine, Robin," they said. Everything.

I now have my mac back, but I am wary. Weary and wary.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


our dehumidfier arrived right on time. it's really a kind of air conditioner or refrigerator. there is a cold coil, as there is inside a refrigerator, and a hot coil, as there was on the outside of older refrigerators, to dissipate the heat removed from the cold coil. the dehumidifier sucks in room air through the cold coil. water condenses on it and drips into a tank. the air then goes through the warm coil and back into the room at close to the temp it entered the machine.

the tank in the machine holds 30 pints of water. the machine shuts itself off if the tanks fills. i have emptied the tank at half full 5 times. 5 times 15 pints = 65 pints = 30.5 quarts = 7.625 gallons!!! that's in four days.

the ritual pouring out of the water

the air in our bedroom is down to 55% relative humidity. three other rooms are under 50%. neither robin nor i have ever had a dehumidifier. where does all this water come from?

Friday, December 12, 2014


it seems that complaints about high humidity are usually about warm places. steamy tropical jungles. new jersey in summer. hawaii. here in humboldt county the air is quite damp. at 12:30 pm december 11 the relative humidity was 82%, and it wasn’t raining. we live in a house that was built at least 55 years ago. no insulation. even the newer double pane windows get condensation.

there is a gas-fired wall heater that keeps the house warm enough. except for the room where we sleep, an addition down a long hall from the heater. we fixed that fairly well with a fan on the floor sucking low, cold air from our room, causing the higher warm air close to the furnace flow back into our room. so we went along for a month into colder, wetter weather keeping warm using the fan to evaporate any visible condensation, thinking we were keeping ahead of the damp.

well, there was the discovery that my only leather shoes, in a closet next to an exterior wall, had some green mold. hmmmmm. i moved them out of the closet and now we leave the door open.

but the damp is like rust: it never sleeps. it just creeps on in.

we keep a printer, a file cabinet, and a modem/router in a spare bedroom. we call it the office. there is a stapler, tape, printer paper, envelopes, and a stack of unfiled papers. robin went to get an envelope and found that all of them in the box were sealed shut. and the printer paper felt damp.

we wanted to know how humid is it in our house. we resorted to science. i recalled the drybulb/wetbulb method of determining relative humidity. we only have one thermometer so i recorded the dry temp (22 C) and then wrapped the thermometer in a wet sock and set it in front of a fan. after a decent interval i recorded the wet temp(18 C). a check with a handy weather calculator in the intertubes gave us a relative humidity of 68%. a bit of research indicated that a healthy level of humidity in a house would be below 50%, maybe best at 35%. we are all wet.

                  dry bulb                                        wet bulb
we decided that we needed a dehumidifier. we ordered one. it arrived. will report.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

When It Rains

California is expecting a huge storm over the next 48 hours. It is predicted to be serious and damaging, the biggest to hit the state in years.

Here are few images from the National Weather Service and local newspapers to give you an idea of what the online reporting and warnings looks like.

This is a weather map of northern California from the NWS. Here on the north coast we're expecting high surf and high winds. We're going to get rain, but not as much as the bay area, Sacramento Valley, and the Sierra foothills.
The San Francisco Chronicle had this photo and headline on their front page. When it rains in California after years of drought, there is much to plan for: flooding, trees falling, mudslides, and power outages. A big storm like this would have scared us if we were still living in the foothills, where they are expecting five inches of rain. We're feeling relatively safe here in our little town, pretty far from possible floods and falling trees.
This lovely photo and headline is from the Sacramento Bee. I grabbed it because I really liked the artistry of it!  The LA Times reported, "The winter storm also has an "atmospheric river" which can be up to 400 miles wide, move with weather and can cause major flooding when it stalls over an area... The weather service describes atmospheric rivers as relatively narrow regions in the atmosphere responsible for transporting water vapor horizontally outside the tropics." I read on Wikipedia that an atmospheric river can carry a greater influx of water than the Amazon River.

I'm sure you'll hear about this on the news and read about it in your local newspapers. California is about to be slammed by a huge storm, and unlike an earthquake, we are being forewarned. I think we're ready. We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Meet Our New Car

We had been talking about giving our 2005 Subaru to Roger's daughter Indigo (mom to baby Luna). So, the other day we decided to drive over to the local Toyota dealership and look at the brand new line of the 2015 Prius. We specifically went to look and not buy. Didn't want to rush into anything, but did plan to come back and buy one.

The very nice salesman showed us the three Prius models available right now. They all look pretty much the same, just with different degrees of high-end computer gobbledygook to really confuse the otherwise computer literate buyer. So, we took one car out for a drive. It drove very well, just like a regular car. Zoom zoom zoom, we went. The very nice salesman didn't try to hard-sell us and talk us into buying a car right then and there. He wrote down the numbers of how much we would spend to buy the car we had just driven. We told him we wanted to go home and think about it. And that's what we did.

The next morning we went back in to buy the car. It took a little longer than we had expected. We had to talk to someone who took our money and then tried to sell us every bit of high end insurance we could ever want or need. We had just bought a brand new car that the salesman had been raving about, and the subtext of the conversation we were having with the person was: CARS BREAK. CARS BREAK. CARS BREAK. BE AFRAID. BE VERY AFRAID.

We were very calm. We said. No, thank you. Please can we go home now?

New cars are seriously in a whole new world. No key to unlock the door. No ignition switch. The speedometer, gas gauge, car temp, dashboard are all electronic. The information lights up and tells you a story all the time. Then, there's the steering wheel with gadgets and buttons so that  the driver can communicate with the car without his/her hands ever leaving the wheel. The car connects to our cell phone via bluetooth. We hardly connect to our cell phone at all. We are primitive people. It's a scary beast this new car. It doesn't turn on unless you do everything in the right order. Seriously. If you hit the Power button before you hold down the brake, nothing happens. Red lights blink at you furiously from the digital dashboard. It might as well be screaming, "Hey dummy you're not doing that right. Start over." I may need a cheat sheet for a while to keep the order of things at hand.

We did learn that we're supposed to drive the first 500 miles at varying speeds to "break the car in." I don't think we've put 500 miles on our old Subaru since we moved here to Arcata. This is a new effort for us, driving around town. We're giving it our best shot. That's why we drove 20 miles up the coast to Trinidad and back. The reward for our efforts was this spectacular ocean and sky all along the way.

Thursday, December 04, 2014


wednesday morning over tea and toast, which we enjoy while still abed, robin told me that her morning check of weather and tide indicated a very high tide and possibility of flooding. and that the very high tide is happening NOW.

i said "wow. extra high tide. let's go to the marsh!" the only question was should we go in our jammies. we got properly dressed. so we went and noted the water level higher than we had ever seen.

i should explain that the arcata marsh, a wonderful civic amenity, is on the northern edge of humboldt bay and has lovely walking trails on the levees seperating the bay from the sewage treatment ponds. really, it is a beautiful place. award winning.

one last picture as we were leaving. we did get out of the car and walk around a bit but it was raining so we didn't linger. this was at 8:30 am.

the floating dock was down about four feet from its level this morning. this was taken at about 3:30 pm. note the white part of the post with the sign. completely covered in the high tide picture. the vast tidal flat doesn't show the full range of the water level. there is a nine foot tidal difference.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

End Of November Photos

I was looking back over our old posts recently and noticed that last year I had started posting photos at the end of the month, pics of things that didn't make it into a post. So I thought I might end November on a similar note.

Crepuscular rays taken with the iPhone

High tide at the marsh

The ride home from Eureka, taken at 55 mph from the car window
Cirrus iridescent cloud above the roof of our house
Wet fence Rorschach Test

Roger with his sleeping grand-daughter Luna

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

These are a few of the birds we've been seeing here on our walks at the marsh and in our little neighborhood. It's a wonderful thing to notice the little wildlife all around us.
White-crowned sparrow

Our first Bonaparte Gull (rare here on the coast)

Heron with the cows
Belted Kingfisher

House finch

Difference in size between a Snowy Egret and a Great Egret
We'd like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for stopping by to read our words and see our photos. We are grateful for your presence and kindness in our lives.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


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.