Friday, October 29, 2021

The Spiders Are Prepping For Halloween

It is definitely spider season here and perfect for Halloween. Many of our neighbors have decorated their houses for the coming "knock-knock trick or treat" day, but we're leaving it up to the very reliable spiders to do the work for us. This is what our front-yard fence looks like.

We think this is spooky enough. What do you think?


Our favorite pumpkin in the neighborhood

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Adding A Great New Handshake

I've been trying to piece together the number of times I've written here on the blog about my handshake collection. I first wrote about it 2005 and have added to it a few time since then. I collect handshakes and have ever since I heard the story about Orson Welles telling someone that his mother had shaken hands with Abraham Lincoln. I just found this while googling around about Welles' handshake collection, it was in some online newspaper Mail Online in 2018.

A few evenings later, Welles was in full flow. He swigged a mouthful of wine and grabbed my hand. ‘This hand that touches you now, Dorian, once touched the hand of Sarah Bernhardt. Can you imagine that? And when she was young, Mademoiselle Bernhardt had taken the hand of Madame George, who had been the mistress of Napoleon! At this very moment in time you are three handshakes away from Napoleon! It’s not that the world is so small, but that history is so short.’

So, yes, I collect handshakes and yesterday I added someone new to my list, even though the handshake took place many years ago. I just didn't know the connection back then. My sister-in-law who sends me photos also sends links to interesting articles. She sent this link, an article by Paul McCartney that he wrote for the The New Yorker about writing the lyrics to Eleanor Rigby. It is a lovely and interesting story. In it he mentions that while he was writing it, he showed the poem to Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. WHAT??? I was so surprised. Paul McCartney knew Ginsberg and Burroughs? That's wild news to me. So, back in the day when I was the volunteer coordinator of the Kerouac Conference in 1982 at Naropa and doing a poetry workshop with Ginsberg, and going to Ginsberg's house to file away his "faded yellow newspaper clippings" for him, and giving William Burroughs a ride back to his hotel and helping him out of the car... I was adding Paul McCartney's handshake to my list. I was so surprised and absolutely beamingly happy about that. Paul McCartney... and you know what that means... John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr... even the Queen... no wait.. I think I already had the Queen's. Does the Queen even shake hands? Turns out she does! Scored!

I love a new handshake.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Testing A New Camera

My sister-in-law sent some photos the other day. She bought a new camera and has been experimenting with it. So she and my twin brother went to Point Lobos to take some photos. Here is what the California Parks website says about Point Lobos:

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is outstanding for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, SCUBA diving, and jogging. In addition to the spectacular beauty, nearly every aspect of its resources is of scientific interest. There are rare plant communities, endangered archeological sites, unique geological formations, and incredibly rich flora and fauna of both land and sea. Deriving its name from the offshore rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos, Point of the Sea Wolves, where the sound of the sea lions carries inland, the Reserve has often been called "the crown jewel of the State Park System". Point Lobos has offered many things to millions of people who have visited it over the years.

Kim's photos were so beautiful I just had to share them here. 


The birds in this photo reminded me so much of a bird I had photographed out at the marsh a few weeks ago. I couldn't ID it, and I didn't think about it until Kim wrote that these were Peregrine Falcons. I was so surprised. I think this is a Peregrine Falcon perched on the very tall electrical transmission towers at the marsh. 

I haven't ever photographed a Peregrine Falcon before. I was so glad my brother and sister-in-law went to Point Lobos to test out that new camera. I love seeing new birds. I think I may have to buy a new camera just like Kim's.

Friday, October 22, 2021

A Sad and Cautionary Story

 On October 9th my brother Marc got a puppy. He emailed my siblings and me with his utter enthusiasm about his new doggie. Marc has always been a dog person. From the time he got his first dog Jeffrey more than 50 years ago. So we knew that this new puppy was very lucky to have found her way into his heart and home.

He sent us this photo along with his sweet request to help him come up with a name. We all sent him ideas. It was a fun long-distance family way to welcome this little pup into our family from coast to coast. Marc and his partner Zanne decided on the name Pearl for black pearls which are rare, only one in 10,000 pearls are black. So, we welcomed this rare little beauty into our family. "Hello, Pearl" we all shouted to her from miles and miles away.

Marc and Zanne fell in love with this pup right away. She was smart and so well behaved for a 12 week old. She was easy to train and loved to play with her toys. She always put her toys back on her sleep cushion. 

She also loved going outside with them into the garden. Marc has 80 acres of land in Virginia. He grows much of his own fruit and vegetables. He works the soil often. He has been there for many, many years. Introducing Pearl to the garden was interesting. She liked to go out there and eat things. Last Saturday on October 16th, Pearl was out in the garden and ate a toad. No, she didn't actually chew it and swallow it, she just swallowed it whole. Not a good thing at all.  She started foaming at the mouth right away. Big frothy foam. Marc cleaned her up, and after a little while she seemed okay. No long-lasting issues. Then she started to eat some mushrooms. Also not a good thing at all. Marc stopped her, but she had eaten several mushrooms. 

Pearl started to get sick a day later. Very sick. She was throwing up and had started pooping all over the place. So, Marc called the vet and brought her in to be seen. He realized it was likely that she had been eating poisonous mushrooms. There had been several days of rain before they headed out into the garden. The mushrooms had sprouted up everywhere. 

The vet kept Pearl there on an IV drip. Her glucose levels were well below normal. She was not doing well at all. The vet did all she could do to help, but Pearl was dying of intestinal issues brought on by what she had eaten. Very early Thursday morning she died. 

The other day my twin brother saw a neighbor out for a walk with her dog. Michael had seen this neighbor many times with her dog out on walks, but this was the first time the dog was wearing a muzzle. Michael asked why and the neighbor said it was because she couldn't stop the dog from eating so many not-good things when out their walks. She said it had already cost her lots of money at the vet to handle all of her eating mistakes. 

I had no idea dogs did stuff like this, eat things that are not only bad but could literally end their short sweet little lives. So, that's our very sad and cautionary tale. Please watch what your dogs eat out there. You never know if that toad or mushroom is going to be the sad end. 

Rest In Peace, Pearl.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Weather Forecast

 I took a screenshot on Monday of the ten days weather forecast. It did not look good.

Well, it does look good for the earth, the forests, lakes, rivers, and ocean. So, we're glad that the rains are coming. But I'm not quite looking forward to the endless deluge of it. There's also going to be some big winds. Early Wednesday morning could see 50 mph wind gusts (80.5 kph). Yikes! 

But it didn't rain at all on Monday. We were surprised by that. In fact it was clear enough to watch the almost full moon rise.

It had been a while since we've been able to see that beautiful moon come up over the coast range. 

Then I went out early Tuesday morning and was surprised to see another clear sky. So I grabbed the camera to get what may be the last glimpse of colors for the next few days.

It was a beautiful sunrise. So I zoomed in a bit for a closer look at one of the clouds.

Yes, that beauty is just what I needed to prepare me for the next ten days of rainy gray.

And there's always the hope for rainbows when the weather says rain. So I'm hoping!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Our African Violet

 I water the house plants every Sunday morning. It's a once-a-week ritual. When I watered our African Violet I thought about how old it is. It was a gift to us when we bought our first house in 1995. This is a 26 year old plant. Who knows? It actually could be older. We've had it for 26 years. I love it and it seems happy. Here are a few pics of it over the years.

This is what it looked like in 2008. It was 13 years old and not particularly flowery. We had just spent four years in Port Townsend, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula so perhaps it was just responding to the endless gloomy weather there. 
This was taken in 2013. It was much happier in Grass Valley. If it could talk it would have shouted out gratitude to the sunny days there. Eighteen years with the bums.

This was taken two days ago. It's still pretty happy. Not so sure about the weather. It may have heard us talking about the La Nina winter heading our way, with the first real week of rain in the forecast. Twenty-six years with those bums seems to be working out pretty well. 

Have you ever had a plant for this long? 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Blue Skies and Family Time

 We're finally getting out for our early morning walks. It had been quite a while and mostly that was because of the persistent morning fog. But lately the skies have been clear and pretty. We even went out on our little deck in the pre-dawn darkness and stared at the clear skies. If not for small city lights, we probably could have seen the Milky Way. 

On Friday, just as the sun was coming up over the mountains we had a lovely view of the radiation fog in the cow pasture. 

Later in the day we had a visit from the grandkids. They were cute as always. 

Ian picked nasturtium flowers and placed them artistically on the very old barrel cactus (the one my father dug out of the desert in the late 1980s). Silas looked at me and wondered what I was taking pictures of.  He was probably thinking, "Why does she always have that camera?" or maybe it was, "Take my picture, Robin." So, I did.

Sunday morning the sky had a lovely cloud formation (I hope you'll click on the photo). It was fun to run outside just before 7:00 am with the temps a very chilly 41 degrees (5 degrees C) and shout out hellos to the beauty of sky once again. 

That's what we've been up to. Life felt almost normal... almost.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Like A Bird On A Wire...

  ... there it was. Our first sighting of a Say's Phoebe. In fact, we had never even heard of it before.

I photographed it and sent the pic to my brother and sister-in-law to see if they knew what it was. They knew right away. The Say's Phoebe is only in our area during their migrations, whereas they spend non-breeding time where my brother and SIL live. We always love seeing a new bird. 

We also love seeing a beautiful familiar bird like this lovely little American Goldfinch sitting on a blackberry vine.

And a crow (or is it a raven?) getting ready to take off from a pole. 

It's always a delight for us when our paths cross with our feathered friends, especially a new one for us. 

Monday, October 04, 2021

Is That A Real Heron?

 We went out for our big neighborhood walk the other day and saw what appeared to be a Great Blue Heron on a garage roof. 

But it wasn't just any garage roof. It was the garage on the property where there had been a fake pig on their front steps. Remember the fake pig, our sweet little Oinky who is no longer there?

Here's Oinky, in case you have forgotten. So I had to take a closer look at the Heron to see if it was real of if they had found another great little piece of art to fool and enchant the neighbors.

I zoomed in to take a closer look. No movement. Just a very still little statue of a bird. Mmm? Interesting little beauty. 

Then it did something the little fake pig Oinky never did. The heron moved while we were looking at it. It turned around as if to say, "Are you crazy? Of course I'm real."

And then it took off to make its point as clear as possible. 

We shouted out, 'Thank you for the laugh, beautiful Heron. And if you, see Oinky, please tell her we said hello!"


Friday, October 01, 2021

Friday Music: Enough Is Enough

We are posting this song in memory of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and the 23 other species that were declared extinct this week. Enough is enough.