Anniversary adventures: up in “our” grill

On March 19th, we celebrated our tenth anniversary. Ok, we didn’t actually. Poor Lastech caught an evil cold, so we postponed it. I didn’t mind and it wouldn’t have been a celebration if he wasn’t feeling well. As a result, we went out last Thursday. We divided our celebration into two parts and this was the first day.

We weren’t planning much for that day, but we had an ice chest with food and went out to grill some of our favorites. We originally planned on going to a lovely spot on the Marin Headlands, but it was closed for renovation. Instead, we explored the headlands for a while, clouds and bird watching before returning to The City to do our grilling at Baker Beach. We grilled carne asada, zucchini, mushrooms and a few bratwurst. We made tacos and had a very pleasant time.

We then took a trip to the arboretum to see what wildflowers might be blooming as it’s that time of year. It was lovely and we found azaleas, ferns and wisteria blooming. We also came across an old friend. 🙂

Yes, it was our old friend the hawk. We also watched a young couple walking around the arboretum. Both were so intent on their phones that they never saw the hawk. I don’t mind technology, but I would never want to be so unaware of the beauty that surrounds me. To be so close to a hawk is not a moment to be wasted. I’m simply amazed that it has happened so many times now.

The next day we went hiking on Angel Island and that will be the next post.


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Looking for Ceiling Cat, from attics to foundations

For the past two to three months or so, the pain in my hands and fingertips made it virtually impossible to sit down and type. But I’m finally getting used to spending the day wrestling with tools, cutting sheet metal, pulling and bending recalcitrant panels off furnaces in order to service them.

With my current job, the first stop of the day’s a warm up, working out the kinks and pushing through the aches and pains. I do enjoy climbing up into attics and crawling under foundations, places with a gothic feel, in spite of rat turds, fiberglass insulation mixed with rodents’ crap and sometimes their decaying carcasses.

Blake was right, long is the way, and hard that leads to Ceiling Cat…

Keep your head down or look like Hellraiser's Pinhead...
Keep your head down or look like Hellraiser’s Pinhead…

I once had to scrape off Mickey Maus’ dessicated corpse off a furnace blower it was ‘stuck’ to, almost rested my head on a mummified rat which looked like gloopy foam insulation, and breathed the stench from the bloated, whitened corpses of a bunch of rats laid in rat poison.

mummified rat
The rat formerly known as Squeaky Fromage…

I could have used a cat or two at times, especially under foundations, if only for the company. Last week, I had to use another technician’s van since he’d called off sick. On my second appointment, I finished after the customers had left the house. I duly locked up everything, got back in the van and realized I’d left my clipboard with paperwork and payment on the kitchen counter. Ooops. I Walked around the house, trying windows (all locked), in a hurry in case neighbors got suspicious, until I found the doggie door in the back. I reached in and unlocked the handle, but the door refused to budge, stuck as it was in its misaligned frame.

The dog even stopped barking, cocking his head sideways “whatcha gonna do?!?

I managed to wriggle myself through the doggie door, made it to the kitchen, grabbed my stuff and back out through the front door again… At my next and last stop, I inspected the furnace, and went to check what size filter they would need. The intake was on the ceiling, but no problem! I’d grab the ladder from -… Ooops. I’d left the ladder on the porch of the previous home. In another city...

I’ve found a couple of sayings in HVAC to be true. One is “on this job, you’re gonna bleed”. And sure enough there’s dried blood stains on our seats and steering wheels. Another expression is “get ready to s..k the day’s d..k”. As Bart Simpson put it,  sometimes “it blows and sucks at the same time, what I thought was a physical impossibility”

Oh but, this is what I look forward to, coming home to this every day, in this case, Miss Jenny on catnip…. Until


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Midnight Movie Madness: “night of the lepus”

Night of the lepus” – (88 minutes, USA,1972 – PG)

They could have titled this one “follicle follies”. In the vein of eco-inspired horror flicks of the ’70s, the premise of “night of the lepus” makes your hare stand on end: in a single night and starting with a single wabbit injected with some experimental hormone shot, the rabbit population of southern Arizona ‘splodes into hordes of 150 pound ravenous long-hared mofos eatin’ and a-killin’ and a-screwin’ anything and anyone in their path.

Lepus? WTF is a lepus?!?
Lepus? WTF is a lepus?!?

Dilemma: coyotes have all been keeled by some dude who did his job too well and now the ranchers’ lands are ravaged by wild rabbits running even wilder…

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Midnight Movie Madness: “food of the gods”

“Food of the gods” – (88 minutes, USA, 1976 – PG)

The ’70s… Roller skating, creepy-crawlers, bean bag chairs, disco balls, and of course, Earth Day… “Food of the gods” is pure 1970’s grade fun which wonderfully makes no sense whatsoever.

Loosely inspired by part of an H.G. Wells story, “food of the gods” begins with a cautionary monologue by the protagonist, Morgan (Marjoe Gortner), about the wrongs done by man against nature: “just let man continue to pollute the way he is, and nature will rebel”, his pop used to say…

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Caturday: Health edition

With Rudha-an suffering a sore (parched?) throat down in the desert where the wind sandpapers eyes and nose alike, and Miss Jenny getting (slowly) over her case of the unburied runs, Titanus Grumpicus continues to eat like a hog and rests his weary bones in the kitchen window soaking up the sun.

Note the chiseled features
Note the chiseled features of the proto-fascist

Manx kittoons being subject to arthritis, we suspect it partly explains his grumpiness…
What with their nubby tail, long legs and sometimes short spine, the poor bastards don’t always know whether to run or hop around. Although Titanescu doesn’t seem to be in a lot of pain, he looks uncomfortable when the petting hand wanders down his back, legs or neck. Then it’s “I CRUSH YOU” time.
I know the feeling: it takes me about ten minutes to “unkink” myself after I sit for about an hour…

Captain Kleenex
Captain Kleenex wants to play

None of that fazes Tito who thinks he’s got a handle on old coot. When he’s not sure whether he’s gone a bit too far with the auld cat, Tito looks over at us to gauge our reaction if any. Smart cat.
We’re not yet sure what to make of Jenny’s odd behavior of late.

Litter box' over there...
Litter box’ over there…

On two occasions, she has acted very scared, her pupils dilated, running at a crouch, “slinking” really, into the kitchen to hide in a cabinet. Combined with squirting melted Hershey bars which gross her out too much to bury, she bears watching. Well , not every Caturday can be about fun after all, but neither is it all drama…. Until next week!


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Caturday: JBoD mornings…

Eventually I manage to kind of “bat” Jenny away just long enough to check the time, 9:39 a.m., crap I’ve only slept three hours. She walks back and forth across the pillow and darts when I pet her, almost coquettish “oh no, monsieur, really you mustn’t! Hee! Hee! Hee!”

Back and forth, back and forth.

With this tail I offended myself...
With this tail I offended myself…

It dawns on me she’s digging around my night stand for something specific. She picks up an eyeglass cleaner in its wrapper and spits it on the floor, bats a small bottle of aspirin aside and gnaws at a pen, her eyes big as saucers and purring up a storm, with the determination of a French cop from XIX century literature, coquetry out the window now.

Jenny Javert, Javert-Jenny, whatever, I’m doomed by strawberry-cream jellybeans…

I get it, finally, and palm the toy laser before she picks it up to spit in my lap. She hasn’t seen me do it but she ‘senses’ I got something, so she walks over still purring loudly, extends her neck to smell my face, maybe give me a morning kitty kiss. She half closes her blue peepers, then vurps a small cloud of fishy breath up my nose.

But there’s worse now around here… Speaking of literature, of a Russian flavor this time. Titanus Grumpicus being treated for halitosis, his ‘affections’ can be fetid, especially after he’s nommed his canned food: I mentioned before he slobbers a bit. Well, that, combined with dragon breath and the tiny bits of Friskies mixed in spit he dribbles shape my dreaming into an episode of “Alien” where the freaking monster corners me in a dark service corridor and prepares to spear my forehead.

I crush you.
I crush you.

And do be careful trying to shoo him away, no matter how gently: he’ll swipe at your hand with surprising speed with a slavic-accented yowl you can interpret as “I crush you!” Old bastard.

Ah but Tito, the gentleman, rolls back and forth on the kitchen floor cooing, trying to prod the old coot into a game of tag, drawing him away from my eyes still puffy from sleep, cat vurps, farts and spittle, bless him. Of course, eventually, he’ll chase Jenny around and they’ll race across the bed, launching off of us like gut-punches or a brass-knuckled haymakers to the face. To the face

Oooooh.... Pretty!
Oooooh…. Pretty!

So fine. I’m up. And we know Jenny and Tito have their theme music, but now we have to think of something for comrade Titanescu, something purple maybe? Like our bruises..?!?

“Start wearing purple” by Gogol Bordello…


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Raccooneers of New Barbary Coast: threat over the water

Most San Francisco visitors I encounter seem eager to run through certain areas of the City, just so they can snap a few pictures here and there, before returning to their hotel satisfied they’ve pretty much seen it all… Fools.

It is like this:

The photos below were taken at tremendous risk, hence the shaky quality of some shots, but one does not simply tangle with raccooneers and expect to hightail it fully intact.

 They saw us. Sh*t's about to get real
They saw us. Sh*t’s about to get real

For those few who understand there’s more to the park than meets the cursory glance, I say go to the Conservatory of Flowers, Bison paddock or Stow Lake, all those storied places worth hours if not days of exploration, “but I do warn ye, if ye value yer life: ye stay well clear o’ North Lake. Place be full o’ monsters with ’em little teeth”.

The party readying to come ashore
The party readying to come ashore

We ain’t – I mean we’re not talking about cute Strawberry Hill over in Stow Lake with them owls and their neighbors, the blue herons. No.

Land Ho!
Land Ho!

I’m talking about that gloomy islet, New Barbary Coast, where Charlotte Raccoon (nĂ©e Badger) and the others, like the Harpes,  scourge of squirrels and raiders of birds’ nests, ply their trade from dusk ’til dawn…

Who's that devil with a blue peeper?
Who’s that devil with a blue peeper? Major Tom?!?
A stare to chill the hardiest soul
A stare to chill the hardiest soul

One last word of warning: don’t feed the raccooneers, they’re turning into fat b****s… This ain’t no Disney movie.

raccoon smells humansYeah, bring your camera too, 'cuz we're gonna eat all of that
Yeah, bring your camera too, ‘cuz we’re gonna eat all of that


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2012: JBoD’s year in review

Happy New Year!

Now is the time to take a minute and look back on this past year, and the ways it affected the JBoD microcosm.

We spent much of 2012 watching sunsets and wildlife (fins!) from local beaches, but in April, we chose to visit the neighboring hill known as Bernalwood where stunning California poppies in full bloom awaited. On another more recent trip, amazing clouds treated us to an ‘air show’…

California poppies on Bernal Hill
California poppies on Bernal Hill

In May, we finally managed a trip to see the California Academy of Sciences. The albino alligator named Claude is a real beauty.

Academy of Sciences
Claude on his warming rock. He’s quite a handsome devil. Photo by Ron DeCloux.

I took a lot of photos, so it’s in four parts. One, two, three and four.

In May, our glorious Golden Gate Bridge turned 75 years old. I’ve lived here for ten years and I never get tired of seeing her.

Golden Gate Bridge

In June, a contractor working a few doors down from our home base cut into a gas line, resulting in a gas explosion and fire. Purely by chance, prevailing winds minimized the spread of the damage, a very good thing considering how long it took to shut off the gas. The kind of scene best left in movies, not real life. The Pointy Eared people weren’t amused…

Gas fire and explosion on San Bruno Ave
Firefighters in action. The tan and brown building on the far left is where the construction was. The dentist office was in the white building.

Then in July, we lost our sweet, comical tyrannical food thief Kitsy to FIP. It was sudden and awful and I still haven’t been able to write a proper post for him. As for Lastech, he is still coming to terms with the possibility that the virus which took him might have been introduced by Miss Jenny. So little is known about FIP and no test being available, it remains a painful mystery.

Kitsy narrating LOL woman in black
“… Don’t go chasing shadows, Gigadoon…”

In August, we went to the park on a foggy morning and came across some wildlife with a pissy attitude.

Belligerent crayfish Hey stupid

In September, Miss Nightshade Jenny brought me a most bizarre gift.

Miss Nightshade Jenny
Don’t let those innocent blue peepers fool you

Later in September, we got to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor fly over the Golden Gate Bridge. Incredible!

Space Shuttle Endeavor by Lastech
Space Shuttle Endeavor by Lastech

In November, we went to the Japanese Tea Garden and Arboretum for a bit of zen. We wound up having a wonderful surprising encounter with a hawk.

The hawk was sitting in the tree just above eye level and only ten feet from the path.
The hawk was sitting in the tree just above eye level and only ten feet from the path.

A week or so later, we went exploring the Coastal Trail near the Golden Gate Bridge. We encountered another hawk, a couple of hummingbirds, a slug and a wonderful sunset.

Anna's hummingbird
Did I mention that hummingbirds like the pretty purple flowers?

We finished off the year by exploring the cliffs around Battery Mendell, a coastal battery that was built before WWI.

Battery Mendell
Photo by Rudha-an

That was our 2012 for the most part. Some was good and some was bad. Hopefully, 2013 will be an even better year.

Happy New Year from JBoD

Rudha-an, Lastech, Tito, and Miss Nightshade Jenny


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The Coastal Trail: Before the Storm

On Tuesday the 27th, we went for a walk along the Coastal Trail near the Golden Gate Bridge. We knew there was a storm coming, so we wanted to get some time outdoors before it hit. It turned out to be a wonderful little jaunt that was full of surprises.

Golden Gate
Lastech looking out across the Golden Gate. Point Bonita (on the Marin Headlands) is visible in the distance

I wanted to break up the trip into two posts, but it just wasn’t going to work. We had some very nice surprises along the way.

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Traveling with pets: additional musings

Ah, San Francisco… We fancied a trip to Baker Beach yesterday and took a long walk barefoot through the edge of the surf, having the enchanting experience of watching porpoises breaching the waves just offshore.

Baker Beach, a week ago

At one point a sea lion pup watched us before slipping back under the water, while dogs chased birds and each other, a perfect jellybeansofdoom kind of day.

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