The Gardens at Heather Farm and the Fur Kids

Our weather has finally become a bit more normal. For a while it got up to the 90’s, then down to the 50’s, and then hot again. Now it’s settled into warm, at times breezy. Since the weather finally cooperated, we set the Endurance’s life support systems to stand by for the crew and headed off to the Gardens at Heather Farm. As I had hoped, the roses were blooming madly. The last time we were there, the roses were just beginning to put out buds.

Roses
Mystery bug. I’m not sure if this is a Mexican bean beetle or something else. Photo by Lastech

There are more pics, but now it’s time for the fur kids to shine.

Miss Jenny
Titanescu
Tito’s big yawn
Pepi

Now for the rest of the Heather Farm pics. There aren’t a lot, but I put them in a slideshow to make it easier. There are non rose pics along with a couple of critters.

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Caturday: Botanical garden at Tilden Regional Park

I wanted to post this last week, but power outages and other assorted things got in the way. We managed a return trip to the botanical garden at Tilden Regional Park. I’m really glad we got there when we did as we had lovely cool fog hugging the hilltops and everything was still very green. We’ve experienced a heatwave or two since then and the hills are already turning to their summer tan. It’s still beautiful, but I already miss the green color.

First though, it’s time for the pointy-eared people and the floppy-eared one to shine.

Tito and a sunbeam
Miss Jenny doing a sexy dead bug
Titanescu bird watching
Miss Pepi: I’m a good girl!

When we went off to the botanical garden, the hills were still bright green and we had a bit of fog.

View looking back over San Pablo Reservoir (foreground) and the Briones Reservoir, just visible above and beyond it.

The botanical garden preserves and exhibits the native plants of California. According the park website:

Notable among the many specimens that have been brought in from all corners of the state are representatives of nearly all the state’s conifers and oaks, and probably the most complete collections of California manzanitas to be found anywhere. There are also extensive collections of California native bunchgrasses, bulbs, aquatic plants, and representatives of about 300 taxa that are classified in the California Native Plant Society’s landmark study, “Inventory of Rare and Endangered Vascular Plants of California.”

I must inject a quick note. After that trip, we found a beer that got our attention, so we tried it. It was made by a local brewery called Fort Point Beer Company. It was called “Manzanita”.

This beer was amazing and was the perfect beverage to go with grilling.

Anyhow, back to the botanical garden… There were plenty of things to see. We even saw a beautiful butterfly.

Swallowtail
Western Azalea – very aromatic
Pretty yellow blooms

I put the rest in a slideshow

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Caturday: Cranky sea lions and more power issues

Yes, we wound up with more power issues. This time it wasn’t with us or the park. It was the neighbor. Helpless people annoy me and I have issues with them. I don’t mean helpless in the disabled way. I mean helpless as in clueless and with no desire to GET a clue. Our neighbor had her move-out-move-back-in thing. It was her third and she still wasn’t ready when the tow arrived. She doesn’t know how to unhook the stinky slinky, raise the stabilizers, or turn off the propane. In a year and a half, she’s learned nothing and has made no effort to learn. She’s probably in her 50s and she didn’t want to live with her kids after her husband passed. I think a trailer was a mistake for her.

She was being towed back in when I left to pick up Lastech at the station. When we got home, there was no power. Lucky for us, the heatwave had been the prior week, so it was cooler and survivable. It took me a bit to check on the trailer and make sure we hadn’t blown a circuit breaker. I suspected the issue could be with the power inverter, but I really hoped it wasn’t. Then I walked over to check the meter box. Oh my. My meter and two of the neighbors were off, but the neighbor lady’s was on. I noticed that part of the electrical box cover was on the ground. Hmmmmmmm. When I opened the box, I discovered that three of the four circuit breakers had been shut off. The neighbor lady had hers on. I flipped the other three back on and all was well.

I finally pieced it all together. She came home and deployed one of her two slide-outs. The second one didn’t work. She went out to the electrical box to flip switches, not understanding that slide-outs work on battery power. If she had learned anything about her trailer she would know that. Either she needed to let the battery charge up or it was bad. A repair guy came to work on it and got it running. I like my neighbor, but she needs to get a clue, and soon. Had she shut off our power during the heatwave, it could have killed the pointy-eared people and the floppy-eared one. Can you tell I now have issues with my neighbor? I’m not giving her a bad time about it. I think the park management has already done that. Instead, I’ll just be paranoid every time we have to leave home when it’s hot out.

Speaking of the fur kids…

Tito and Jenny saw something

OMG! What is it?
It’s a giant mosquito! Run!

It wasn’t exactly a giant mosquito, but they thought it was. It was a crane fly.

For those who don’t have them, they’re about an inch long or so.

Titanescu didn’t care. He fears nothing. Especially when he’s asleep and using Miss Jenny as a pillow.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

As for Miss Pepi, she and Tito had a little love fest.

Ear bath!

Oh, and about the sea lions. They’re cranky. Very cranky. Especially when surrounded by the harem and offspring. The have their own docks at the pier, but they haul out wherever they like. With males weighing in just short of 800 lbs, they’re mostly left alone. Lastech had to patrol the dock.

Hey
I said hey
HEY!
HEY! Ok, now I’m pissed
Yep, Lastech skeedaddled right on out of there.
Here’s a bull (knobby forehead) watching over his family

One last thing. No picture sadly, but last evening I was sitting next to my window when a very large bird dove into the shrub about 3 feet away. One of the wings actually brushed the window on the way by. It was a hawk. I figure he/she was after the sparrows that sleep in the shrub. It was amazing though. Tito had a “WTF wazzat?” look on his face.

See ya next week if WWIII doesn’t start.

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Caturday: Clouds, wind and fur people

Yes everyone, we’re back. I was going to post last weekend until I remembered that we had to do our semi-annual move-out-move-back-in thing. At least the weather was nice. Lastech took last week off so that he could help and have a bit of extra time off to boot. After we were back in place, we took a day trip up Diablo to go cloud watching.

First it’s time for the fur kids to shine.

Mister Tito
The delightful Miss Jenny
Comrade Titanescu
Miss Pepi the dumpster dog (where she was found)

I never get tired of watching clouds. The rainy season is pretty much over, so I enjoy any clouds that appear. This week, the heat has arrived and the hills will start turning back to their summer tan. It’s also dry and windy and that will accelerate the process.

Pretty fluffy clouds

As you can see, the hills are still green. It won’t last long now.

Green hills and clouds

The turkeys were out too. It’s fun to be driving along with the window open and suddenly hear a chorus of gobbling bursting out of the tall grasses. Turkey gobbles always make me smile.

Turkey on alert for danger

Here’s the slideshow for the rest of the photos.

We made another trip last week to the Tilden Botanic Garden. This is just one of many pics. I’ll save those for next week. 🙂

Tilden Botanic Garden
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Caturday: Maniacal beeping and a melted outlet

Hello world. Last week was interesting. I was puttering when I heard a loud beeping. I looked around and saw nothing. Awhile later, I heard it again. Aha! The microwave. I reset it and went about my business. It was beeping again. It even beeped at 4 am. I finally flipped the breaker that controlled it and the beeping stopped. Then the modem kept turning off, followed by the power shutting off at 5:30 am. As soon as the sun was up, I went outside to check on things. I was quite startled to find that our 30 amp plug and the outlet it was attached to had burned and melted. Evidently melting shore power outlets is not that uncommon. The manager managed to get the electricians in to fix things up.

Melted 30 amp plug
Melted 30 amp plug
Melted 30 amp shore power outlet. It was stinky

Needless to say, the timing for these things is never good. Oh well, the Endurance is powered up again. Now it’s time for the pointy-eared people and the floppy-eared one to shine.

Tito lounging in a sunbeam.
Miss Jenny grooming her jellybeans
Titanescu using Miss Jenny as a pillow
Miss Pepi enjoying the outdoors with us

Lastech managed to get a couple of fun pics from the pier and a sunrise

Sea Lions hauled out on the pier
Sea lion getting ready to join the others
Sunrise Noir

We plan on being back next week, provided WW III hasn’t started. Happy Easter to all who celebrate it.

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Caturday: Spring is here, no foolin’

It appears that I have survived to see the onset of Spring. I’m still mostly deaf these days, but this latest round of antibiotics seem to be doing the trick. I’ll believe it when I can go for week or two after the round without getting another ear infection. My fingers are crossed, at any rate.

The pointy eared people and the floppy eared one are enjoying the Spring weather. The kitties are finding the birdie watching to be excellent, while Pepi enjoys spending time outside on the porch with us.

Tito
Miss Jenny looking lovely as usual
Titanescu watching the birds
Pepi: Yes, I eated my bed.

Spring has definitely arrived. Heavy rains have given way to pretty sunsets, pretty birds, wildflowers, and even a turkey.

Sunset from the pier

Female lesser Goldfinch
Male lesser Goldfinch
California poppies and lupines on Mt. Diablo
Just a turkey walking down the road

My ears were good enough to make going to the top of Diablo a safe trip. From the top, we were able to see across the Central Valley to the snow topped Sierra. Here’s a slideshow with the rest of the pictures. It was a beautiful day.


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Caturday: is it Tuesday yet? and what is that racket?

Is it Tuesday? It must have been when the doc prescribed Cipro to counter Rudha-an’s (aka Julie-the-nose) sinus infection. I was nodding off in the waiting room, since I’m now back to working nights, drifting off to a scene of the doc plunging swabs painfully up nostrils, expressing a professional opinion summed up as “ewwww!” and listening to faint gurglings and wheezings from whence he plunged his apparatus.

“Is that you?”, he asked her. I’m not sure what he expected. Amoxycillin’s for amateur night, we were talking New York City in 2020, on Tuesday, Soylent Green day, when there’s no damn Soylent Green to be had.

Up that nose, the crushing masses of microbes (the most common first name for male microbes is Mike, Becky for females, as in Bacteria) could not even get out of the swab’s way. In truth, some were already dead, but those sinuses being standing room only, who would know? In came the swabs, like the sanitation trucks brought in by the riot Police, punching through starving crowds of Mikes and Beckys in the sweltering heat.

Cipro might be our only hope, our “Charlton Heston for the truth” shooting Mikes with his .38. Swabs… No wonder Joseph Cotten (no pun intended) couldn’t take the guilt….

Tito enjoying a bit of sun
Miss Jenny looking beautiful, as usual
The stoic Titanescu
Pepi having a run at the arboretum

Rudha-an here. Lastech is currently sleeping, so I’m going to add the bonus bits. He’s on graveyard shift, but he had to go in early on Thursday. On his walk from the train station to work, he came across a bunch of people taking pictures of a tree.

Just some birds in a tree

When he got a closer look, this is what he saw.

Make that some parrots in a tree
slightly blurry closeup

Yes, it was a whole bunch of parrots. While both of us have seen the parrots, it’s only been in very small numbers. I’m envious of his luck in seeing so many at once. For anyone who doesn’t know, back in 2003, there was a documentary and book released called The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. The author of the book agrees that the title is a misnomer as the parrots range as far away as Brisbane. Still, the bulk of them hang around Telegraph Hill where Coit Tower is located. No one is quite certain how they came to be there. As for the type of parrot? This is what KQED (our local PBS station) had to say.

The wild parrots in and around San Francisco are called cherry-headed conures. At one point, a mitred conure joined the flock and bred with the cherry heads. Now the flock is dotted with hybrids.

Here is a video he took that afternoon and you’ll notice that in the middle of the vid, one of those parrots told him to FECK OFF!

This is a vid he took the next morning. It’s mostly to show how many there are and how loud they can be. All those dark spots high in the trees are parrots.

This is the trailer for the documentary. I recommend it if you get a chance.


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Caturday: Playing in the snow

Ok, we didn’t quite play in it, we did manage to hike in it. While there has been plenty of snow in the Sierra Mtns., the snow level rarely drops enough for it to cover the top of Mt. Diablo. Last weekend, it was cold enough. I was afraid it would be rained away Sunday night, but nope. It was still there on Monday, so off we went. We had a snow day. I know many of you live in snow country and are probably rolling your eyes. 🙂 This was the first time I touched snow since January of 2002.

I’ll post more but right now it’s time for the stars of the show. In light of the fact that this last week highlighted International Women’s Day and A Day Without a Woman, Miss Jenny gets to lead off the show.

OMG! WHAT IN HECK ARE YOU DOING!
Tito: Me? I’m just watching the neighbors
Titanescu: I do nothing. I see nothing
Pepi: What? I didn’t do anything! I swear!

Back to the snow day. We lit out before noon. It was a beautiful day. We were careful to dress for the cold though as we knew it would be cold and wet at the top.

At the foot of the mountain, the hills are bright green
The birds were out having snackies

The road to the top was closed to cars at the Diablo Valley view point, so we parked and hiked from there. We decided to take the hiking trail up instead of the road. Lots of people were there along with their kids. We decided that some people are just stupid. I mean really stupid. The temps were nice at the base of the mountain. However, it was cold and wet at the top. Idiots were wearing shorts and sandals. Oh well.

As we climbed, we could see sparse bits of snow
The higher we got, the more snow there was. We were also in the clouds, so visibility was low
We finally made it to the top. It was a bit under two miles and a climb of about 950 feet.
This is a view from the top

Out of view on the left side of that last photo, there was a microwave tower. It was mostly hidden in the clouds, but there was no doubt about where it was. Chunks of ice could be heard falling though the structure with very loud crashing noises. After taking the trail up, we decided to hike back down via the road. The upper part of the trail was very steep and icy and while we managed it without a fall, we didn’t feel that going down that way would be as lucky. All in all, it was a 4 mile round trip and I’m so glad we got to do it. I’ve included the rest of the pics in a slide show.


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Caturday: More rain, with kitties and a dog

Yes, more rain. It’s not a deluge this time, I don’t think. The storm isn’t really here yet though, so the cloud watching has been fabulous. We honestly don’t need more rain, but as long as we’re not talking floods, I don’t mind.

Ear report. I’m on day 22 of antibiotics. 5 more days to go. The doc gave a stronger one on Monday and so I think I’m making some good progress now.

A week ago, we made a trek to the lake down at Heather Farms. I posted the pics on Caturday last week. After we were there, it happened that three of the geese got into a bit of a pissy match with some poor guy. He fell and injured his knee escaping them. Maybe one of the culprits was my “lonely goose” from last week. You can see and read the story here. While geese can be very dangerous, they don’t normally go on the attack unless you startle them. Right now, they’re rather territorial as they’re getting ready to lay eggs soon. We heard several goosey spats when were were at the lake. Obviously, keep children well supervised. Oh, the vid is great. I totally lost it with giggles at the end, though I feel bad about the guy’s injury and I hope it heals quickly. 🙂

Anyhow, here are the stars of the show.

Tito looking intense
Miss Jenny as a drawing (photo effect)
Titanescu in the pike position for maximum sunbeam soaking
Pepi taking herself for run

Since I’m still fighting an ear infection and Lastech is still fighting the flu, we haven’t gotten out much. Still, the arboretum showing signs of spring and bird watching from the trailer is still fine.

Seeds. Photo by Lastech
Yellow sneezy tree. I love them, but I honk and sneeze. Photo by Lastech
Arboretum kitty. Lastech detoured around with Pepi while I got a pic. Kitty wanted scritchies, so I provided some.
This is how the pic came out of the camera. The only thing I did was resize it. The sky is crazy blue
Oxalis. photo by Rudha-an
Tufted titmouse in the mulberry
A couple of Towhees came to visit.

That’s it for this week. I’m hoping we’ll get out next week, but Lastech needs to be feeling better.


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Caturday: kamikaze hard drive and crappy hearing

Yep, I’m losing my hearing and my hard drive bit the dust. In the middle of all that, Mother Nature was trying to reshape half the state of California.

My hearing was always tenuous at best. I was born mostly deaf and even had an eardrum replaced back when I was in high school. I managed my later years without too many problems, learning how to avoid ear infections and things were going well. Then last November when we got the flu, the resulting infection migrated to my ears. It’s been an ongoing battle ever since. On Monday, the doc will probably prescribe a more powerful antibiotic as one of the three bacteria critters is a bit tougher and really, really likes me. Once we get rid of the infection, we can schedule some tests to see how bad the damage is and I don’t expect it will be good news.

As for the hard drive? It was working fine and then it wasn’t. It’s dead Jim. I went out and got a new one, put on my computer repair hat, and went to work. As you can see, I’m up and running again. I lost a lot of pictures that were on the drive. It’s my own darned fault. I’m going to be setting up an account for online cloud backup. That way I’m covered if this ever happens again. Lucky for me, most pics were backed up to Google Photos, although not in their original size. I want to be able to save everything as is. I kept the old drive and when the budget permits, we’ll look into having a pro look at it to see if the files can be rescued.

So that’s why we were missing for a week or so. We didn’t wash away. In spite of the frustrations listed above, life isn’t bad. We rode out the storms and we’re fine here in our little trailer. We’ll see what kind of crucible 2017 turns out to be.

And now for the stars of our show.

Titanescu giving Lastech a stinkeye…with drunk overtones. Hahaha!
Miss Jenny looking reflective. Seriously. Look at her eyes. 🙂
Tito was thrilled with the sunbeam.
Pepi nomming away on her chewie.

In spite of the rains wreaking havoc, we managed to get out and commune with mother nature. It was cold and wet, but good.

The creek which is usually a trickle, was flowing nicely. Photo by Lastech
Lastech got this cool pic
Yes, spring is coming
Green Heron: run away! run away!
Mystery sparrow
I’m just a lonely goose
Yes, we saw river otters with fishy noms
If you look closely, you can see the other otter peeping out on the left side of the one in front.
Duckies
Bufflehead ducks
Bufflebutt
Black Phoebe. They’re graceful gnat catchers.
Cormorants

Now for a few birdies viewed from the trailer window

Female Sparrow
Tufted Titmouse gathering nesting material
Male sparrow

Between the time I started writing this and now, I set up an account with Backblaze and my files are backing up as I type. Here’s a good review on Backblaze as well as another one (same author) comparing it with 23 others. So far so good.


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