The Markham arboretum in glorious Spring colors

What a difference a few storms made at the Markham arboretum, now wearing its vibrant Spring blues, greens and reds from blade of grass to treetop. The Galindo Creek meandering through the gardens remains a few feet at its deepest, hummingbirds have begun their courtships, but the countdown to summer has already begun.

Markham Arboretum
Markham Arboretum

The following photos were all taken yesterday during the course of a single walk through, taking advantage of the blooms we waited months to see. There were over twenty of them, so we decided to arrange them in a slide show for convenience. Below, that, you’ll find a short video of Anna’s hummingbirds courting.


The female hummingbird perched at the very top of a tree, is being buzzed by a male. The chirping sound you hear as he passes by is made by fanning out his tail feathers.


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Requiem for a car: Mercury dropping

Our Mercury Grand Marquis is finally being retired after six years of service and exploration. A mechanical vessel of a bygone era, a sturdy vehicle short on electronics but safe and comfortable. It’s been argued it was too big a vehicle for the dense, hostile environments of the San Francisco Bay Area, but smaller cars don’t fare any better.

The Mercury in better times
The Mercury in better times

While the Mercury was parked on the street, the driver side front marker light was hit. This was fixed. It happened again within 6 months. This time, we let it be and I patched up the damage with aluminum tape. One night, a hostile life-form (an angry homeless dude) ambled down the street kicking cars. The result: dented rear passenger side door. But the worst came after Saint Patrick’s day…

This lovely shot is brought to you by idiots that don't know how to parallel park.  This is round two for this part of the car.
This lovely shot is brought to you by idiots that don’t know how to parallel park. This is round two for this part of the car.
Right above the door handle is where the angry homeless guy kicked it. We got lucky. The other cars lost side mirrors to go with the dents.
Right above the door handle is where the angry homeless guy kicked it. We got lucky. The other cars lost side mirrors to go with the dents.

All holidays are just an occasion to get good and drunk, evidently. Aside from erratic drivers running red lights, swerving and speeding, even parking carries its own risks. About four blocks from our apartment, one street has a particularly odd parking configuration: perpendicular to the curb one side, parallel on the other. The Mercury was hit there on the past, which left a crease on the driver side front wheel well. But can lightning strike twice in the same place, really?

Since the crease was vertical, it was probably a small pickup that hit it.
Since the crease was vertical, it was probably a small pickup that hit it.

Well, I should have known better after what happened to the marker light. The drinking does not start on Saint Patrick’s day. It starts before, spikes during and slowly returns to usual levels of consumption after.

I found an impact on the front of the car that was bad enough to push the body  panels, right front fender and hood, out of alignment. I would need a pry bar to open the hood and then, I’d probably be unable to get it shut again.

The final hit. You can see that the corner of the hood is lifted off kilter.
The final hit. You can see that the corner of the hood is lifted off kilter.

This was three months before our move out of San Francisco, just as the Endurance program planning was ramping up. The check engine light was coming on intermittently because of a bad valve, the brake light was on permanently, probably because the rotors were not turned at the shop. Not dangerous but annoying.

Bear in mind, we had not yet really begun the search for the Endurance, nor the search for a place to dock it. We had a lot of ground to cover and a damaged vehicle to do it in. Would it last?

Of course, it did. It took us to the Central Valley looking for trailers, to the East Bay looking at RV parks and shuttled our belongings to and from storage once we found the Endurance. It continued commuting to work, It did everything. In better times, it took us from Pinnacles National Monument to Yosemite, from ocean beach to mountain ridge. Now it’s time for it to return to the Universe one last time, its metal and plastic separating to be reformed and perhaps see the road again. I hope so.

Farewell you good old car. Farewell
Farewell you good old car. Farewell

The Mercury carried the Catonauts to the Endurance, their new home. Without it… Well who knows?


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Remember to stop and smell the flowers

…or at least take pictures of them. Lastech and I have been snapping pics like crazy. This year is a bit off with the drought and all, so none are wildflowers.

Photo by Lastech
Flower by Lastech
Photo by Rudha-an
Flower by Rudha-an
flowers c
Flower by Lastech
flowers d
Flower by Lastech
flowers e
Not a flower by Rudha-an
flowers f
WTF? by Lastech
flowers g
Flowers by Lastech
flowers h
Flowers by Rudha-an
flowers i
Flowers by Rudha-an
flowers j
Flowers by Lastech
flowers k
Flower by Lastech

Oh, I should add that Lastech was finally awake early enough to see Titanescu at his most tyrannical when it comes to begging for his breakfast. There’s no photo evidence, but here’s a close example of what he’s like. Yeah, he’s really a grumpy ole fart. 🙂


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After the storm

Lastech managed to take a couple of pics from the pier and at the Embarcadero. They weren’t taken on the same day, but they all occurred after the storms that have been blowing through.

dock denizens

Morning glow
Morning glow
Bay Bridge
Bay Bridge

We have had lots of rain, small hail, thunder and lightning. The pointy eared people were not amused, but they only hid during the hailstorm. They didn’t hide for long at all. That’s evidence (to me) that the Feliway is working.


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Childhood revisited

The Sunday before Christmas, Lastech and I braved the unruly masses and went grocery shopping. Once we got home, and put away our supplies, Lastech told me to get ready to go out again and to grab the camera. The next thing I knew we were headed across the Bay Bridge.

He wound up taking me to Tilden Park to ride the steam trains. Redwood Valley Railway was established in 1952. It uses a small scale steam engine that runs on 15 inch track. The track is a bit over a mile in length and winds around through redwood trees that were planted there back in the 50s.

Naturally, I just had to ride the train. 🙂 I felt like a little kid again. Here are a few of my pics. Forgive the quality. The lighting was bad as it was late in the day.

#7 getting ready to take another load adventurers around the track
#7 getting ready to take another load adventurers around the track
We sat in one of the open cars. The Kids in the car ahead of us were excited
We sat in one of the open cars. The Kids in the car ahead of us were excited
The back half of the train had covered cars and a caboose
The back half of the train had covered cars and a caboose
Off we go
Off we go

TrainE.jpg

Yep, there was even a tunnel
Yep, there was even a tunnel

The ride was over too soon. The next time we go, we’ll leave home sooner so that we can ride it more than once. In addition, there’s an even smaller gauge steam train adjacent to this one. It had just made its final run when we got there, so that ride will have to wait.

On our way back out, we made a point of stopping by the roundhouse where they work on the different engines.

The roundhouse
The roundhouse

Lastech and I plan to go back again soon. 🙂

Here’s a video that shows the train in action.


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Random pic from Lastech: The tree

Lastech hasn’t posted much at all. He’s currently working a LOT of overtime. He still tries to take a pic or two when he’s working.

Trees and the sky by Lastech
Trees and the sky by Lastech

I will try to post more of his photos as he takes them.


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… And speaking of play…

I know we’re maybe supposed to talk to the cats about catnip… But it’s too much fun and they’re all having a good time. Jenny in particular, likes to chew on her toys. Especially after I place them in the catnip jar and shake it…

Chew, hug and toss ’em. This last time, of course, she farted when I reached down to pet her…

Gimme some...
Gimme some…
Mousy! I LOVE Mousy!
Mousy! I LOVE Mousy!
Om-nom-nom-nom
Om-nom-nom-nom
INTENSE NOM
INTENSE NOM
Annnd... Mellowing out....
Annnd… Mellowing out….

 

Everything is illuminated
Everything is illuminated


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