musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser

July 11, 2008

I promised pictures

Then my computer crashed for a couple of days. Here they finally are:

Tara at nearly 15 weeks and 3.5 lbs, in a rare moment when she’s sitting still —
Tara Still

Tara as a blur (her normal state) —
Tara blur

The first tomato? We’ll see.
1st Tomato

In case anyone is thinking that my fresh interest in gardening means I have a lush, fully planted yard, I have to confess here that these photos are a cheat. They don’t show the ground still barren of any planting. We live on a granite hill, partly decomposed and partly still-composed boulders. We also live in a semi-arid, overly populated part of the country, so water isn’t cheap. I’m also lazy. I’ve planted around what my husband already planted or nursed back to health, and that might make me appear to be a more productive gardener than I am. But I love my few plants, they’re producing, and I have big plans for next year, so we’ll see.

Sunflower front

Sunflower back

As you might have guessed, part of my garden is for the birds, though I like sunflower seeds too, so even the sunflowers aren’t entirely for the birds.

I’ve read somewhere that there’s a German paper company that makes fine stationery from sunflower stalk fibers, and that gets an artsy-craftsy person like me thinking. . . .

Sunflower 01

Sunflower 02

Of the seven or so sunflowers growing in our yard right now, most face east, most of the time. There’s one near the front door that faces the door, to its north, which means I see its shining face as soon as I walk outside. It’s had the same ladybug on its bloom (below) for three or four days now. I hope she’s taken up residence and plans to take care of it and keep it pest free until it’s finished blooming.

Sunflower ladybug

Then there’s this one (below), which faces the southeast (back) corner of the yard. Is it an errant sunflower that thinks it has to stand in the corner — my generation’s equivalent of a time-out? Or does it like the chattering of the caged parakeet the neighbors down there sometimes leave out on their patio during the day? Maybe it’s made friends with the bougainvillea. I don’t know.

Sunflower 03

I almost forgot one of my favorites, a picture of the quintessential Tara — at least when she’s mellow and not stalking whatever prey or toy or window screen is available to do her destructo-cat number on. This is from two weeks ago when she still had a little kitten fluff —

Tara sleeping

— Barbara @ rudimentary 9:13 pm PST, 07/11/08

July 8, 2008

Catching up

Our summer weather has set in, likely until mid to late October, so I have to wake up early to get all my outdoor work done. I’m amazed how fast things can grow in the warm weather and get away from me — mostly things I don’t want to grow, like weeds.

My usual care to wear gloves when working in the yard had lapsed recently, but working outside earlier than usual this morning meant that I happened across two black widow spiders. One, on the lower rock wall, was attempting to kill a big iridescent green June Beetle, or what we call a June Beetle here, aka Fig Eater Beetle. The beetle was 10 to 15 times the spider’s size. Their struggle mesmerized me for a moment as I wondered who would win, the beetle snapping spider silk as quickly as it wrapped around it. It was the noise he made that drew my attention in the first place. I would’ve intervened, if I’d had something handy to kill the spider with, but the next time I walked past, the spider — hiding from me, no doubt — was nowhere to be seen and the beetle was bumbling away. I’ll be more careful to wear gloves and not work in flip-flops anymore, unless I’m only watering. Black widows usually hide from people, but I don’t want to surprise one.

My little friend Tara is growing fast. A kitten in the house means lots of interruptions to play, or to stop misbehavior in its tracks, or just to cuddle. I’ll try to post an updated photo later, but it might be a blur unless I catch her when she slows down to nap, bask in a sunny window, or watch TV. She’s now more than three times the size she was when I took these pictures, and darker since her kitten fluff has been replaced by a true dark tabby coat. She’s a Siamese mix, but you wouldn’t know that to look at her.

Tara watched Mikhail Baryshnikov dance, in an older video on the arts channel last night, and I think she decided he’s the most cat-like human she’s seen. I hope she doesn’t expect us to move like that! But maybe it’s good that she knows some humans are capable of it, just to help us keep the upper hand. Sometimes we call her Rocket Cat, and one day recently, as the dog and I watched in glazed over amazement while she raced around and up and down a room, I commented to him, “You know, cats can almost fly.” Indi seemed to agree.

I’m not really sure what all else keeps me busy, but there’s a lot of it, whatever it is. I don’t work in the garden enough to excuse not blogging, but I do spend some time finding things to do with the excess produce.

We’ve had loads of squash from just four plants, so far, some of it now in the freezer and some given away. We may need a bigger freezer if I keep gardening. One way that we like zucchini is simply sautéed in a little olive oil with basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. We’ve had some cucumbers, which I personally think would make a good breakfast food, because just one bite seems to wake me up with its fresh, clean crispness. The tomatoes got a late start (from seed), so we haven’t had any to eat yet, but they’re blooming and setting fruit, growing like mad in the heat. There’s a San Marzano Roma about the size of the end of my thumb that I predict will be the first to the table, unless that little cluster of marble sized cherry tomatoes beats it to perfect redness. With the salmonella scare still pretty much a mystery I’m looking forward, even more than I expected when I planted them, to fresh homegrown tomatoes.

Yesterday we discovered how well extra garden produce can pay off, when we gave a large zucchini to a neighbor boy to take home, and later his mom sent over four of the most perfect little quesadillas I’ve ever tasted. Oh. My. God. These were not the quesadillas you find in Mexican restaurants, or the floppy things we usually concoct with flour tortillas and cheddar cheese, in a skillet. Every part of hers was homemade, including flaky six-inch corn flour shells folded in half and crisped. They were filled with chicken, some kind of white cheese, possibly one of the Mexican cheeses described here, and fresh cabbage, and they came with a magical homemade chili sauce to pour over them. I am positive we got the better end of that exchange. You can’t get food like that in any restaurant, and I’m in heaven just remembering them. It’s odd how a really good hot sauce can actually cool you. As my mouth heated up, my body seemed to cool right off. Must’ve been all my pores and sinuses opening. It was positively delicious. Mmmmh!

— Barbara @ rudimentary 12:49 pm PST, 07/08/08

May 30, 2008

Gardening habit or gardening revolution?

Mystery author Eric Mayer* mentioned in a recent blog post that his blog journaling hasn’t been very habitual of late. He went on to write about habits, and that got me to thinking about my habits, and how they’ve changed in the past year or so. Obviously, for me, blogging has taken a back seat to other things. So has my fiction writing, other than attempting to sell my latest finished manuscript, a mystery about a tarot reader whose awakening ability as a medium gets her involved in a murder investigation. (Interested agents or publishers are welcome to inquire here.)

Habits can be good or bad, and I’m sure everyone has some bad ones they’d like to unload. But one new habit I’m happy to have taken on this year is gardening.


Gardening is indeed a habit, one that gets into your blood in a way I didn’t anticipate when I started out this year. I’d done a tiny bit of gardening as a kid, when I remember planting one rose bush of my own but mostly helping my grandmother with her strawberries and vegetables on the embankment behind my parents’ house. Later, in my first apartment, I nurtured a few houseplants, and throughout my work life I’ve usually kept a potted plant on my desk. I kept African Violets in a north facing window in the last house we rented, until a cat took over that window sill. Still, my husband did most of the outdoor gardening, with a little weeding here and there on my part, until March of this year.

It started this spring with tending a few vegetable and flower seeds until they sprouted, and then the seedlings until they went into the ground. From there I progressed to caring for plants in the ground and preparing the soil for more of them. It’s rapidly expanding to a succession of all of these things, in the hopes of keeping some fresh produce in our salad and veggie bowls through this summer, as well as brightening a corner of the front yard, where my ultimate goal is to keep flowers blooming in a little cottage style bed year round. I’m a ways from that goal yet.

I’m still new at this, and I got a late start this year, but I get help and advice from various sources, and gardening is now a firm habit that I won’t easily give up. It’s one of the first things I think about in the morning and one of the last I think about before the sun goes down.

The plants seem happy about my gardening habit, when they can figure out what season it is. Our weather this spring switched back and forth for a couple of months from one extreme to the other, first dry Santa Anas with temperatures in the 90s, and then thick cloud cover and a shifting Jet Stream chilled the air to the 50s. This went back and forth for weeks, with little pleasant weather in between, and it kept our plants confused. In the past two weeks the weather has leveled off, and the plants are loving it.

They say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and I’ve recently realized there’s little more beautiful to me than a tiny plant bursting out of its seed container. Call me crazy, but I think baby plants can be almost as cute as a kitten, and they, like the kitten, draw out my mothering tendencies.


(I’ll bet you expected a photo of a seedling, but I couldn’t help the obligatory kitten shot.)

To some this pleasure might seem like taking joy in watching paint dry, but to me it’s more like watching a sunset at the end of a heat wave.


We celebrated our first avocado blooms a few months ago.


Now some fruit has set, which we hope will grow to maturity.


Avocados, according to my resident expert Ken who’s read something like 200 online agricultural reports about them, tend to drop a good portion of their fruit early, which can be disappointing to home gardeners. It will be disappointing to me, if it happens, because Reeds are my absolute favorite avocado variety.

Two days ago I celebrated my first squash blossom.


Zucchini may seem an ordinary thing to seasoned gardeners. It’s one of the easiest things to grow and the butt of gardening jokes, usually in reference to an overabundance of it. But I like zucchini, I love my resplendent squash plants with their huge green leaves, and those yellow-orange blossoms are gold to me.


I’m learning more about the various weeds that grow in the garden, some of which are edible. For instance, purslane and dandelion make delicious salad greens. Note, if you decide to try eating weeds from your garden, be careful that you know what you’re eating. Ensure that the plants haven’t been subjected to herbicides or pesticides and that they aren’t in fact toxic weeds.


Even some semi-edible weeds, like the sour grass we all discovered as kids, can be a problem if eaten in quantity, I’m told, and purslane looks very similar to a toxic type of spurge that often grows right alongside it. Have an expert show you how to identify edible weeds, and examine carefully whatever you pick to eat. This point was driven home to me when I found spurge, with its milky sap, growing in my own little purslane patch.

Yesterday Ken pointed me to a Los Angeles Times article about Guerrilla Gardeners, which linked to a slide show on how to make “seed bombs” as well as two blogs, here and here, about guerrilla gardening.

Gardening has not only revolutionized my daily routine. It’s apparently a revolution that’s spreading once again, as Victory Gardens did in the last century, with people today gardening to save money on local food and working on a clandestine volunteer basis to re-green the land.

_ _ _

* In case you aren’t aware, Eric Mayer and Mary Reed’s latest John the Eunuch Byzantine mystery, Seven For A Secret, was released in April by Poisoned Pen Press. If you haven’t kept up with their historical mystery series, it’s not too late to start. The earlier books in the series are still in print, and some are now available as Kindle editions.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 3:27 pm PST, 05/30/08

May 17, 2008

We’re cat people — even the dog

I’ve always been a cat person, and my spouse converted soon after we got together. Our dog is a cat person too, since he grew up with cats. Ever since Emily died in August, Indi has been lonely and bored. He started acting like a very old dog. We’re apparently boring, depressing people for a dog to own unless he has a cat around to spice things up, and he’d known and loved Emily all his life. Well, things got spiced up again yesterday, but good.

Meet Tara, named for the Goddess Tara, revered in Tibetan Buddhism as well as in Celtic lore. Cats are supposed to be worshiped, right? Tara thinks so.



In the second photo she’s making friends. Any time she ventures near her new doggy friend she receives a great big juicy kiss on the face, which of course any cat should be delighted to receive. Especially if she just finished washing the last kiss off her face. Indi also loves to get swatted in the face. I think Emily taught him to see that as fun, as a former owner had Emily de-clawed. Indi realized earlier today that Tara comes fully loaded, though she only swats when she’s playing.

We were a little concerned about the introduction, since lately Indi’s become enthusiastic about chasing strange cats out of his back yard. But when his new kitten was introduced as a member of the pack, he happily reverted to baby sitter. Tara took to him with no hissing, having been born into a home with dogs. She knows the drill. Avoid doggy kisses by cruising behind furniture and darting under beds. Especially after the doggy has just taken a long drink of water. (Very drippy business.) Indi is getting old, which you can tell by all that white fur on his face where it used to be mahogany. But having a kitten around has put a smile on all our faces and zest in our steps. (Handy when there’s a kitten darting about underfoot.)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 4:42 pm PST, 05/17/08

April 18, 2008

Spring swelter

No, I did not mis-spell “sweater” in the title. We’re having a summery spring, with hot, dry Santa Ana conditions interspersed with normal spring weather, and it’s confusing our poor little seedlings.

I’m actually doing a tiny bit of gardening. Though I’m a plant — especially flower — lover, and I’ve hankered for some fresh garden produce for a long time, I’m shamefully lazy at doing anything about it. Any yard we’ve had that looked good in the past was entirely my spouse’s doing, except for a little weeding here and there on my part, and even now with my surge of interest in finally getting a real garden started here, I’m quite a bit lazier than he is. I’m much better at mental or creative, sedentary work than physical labor. But I’ve had my bursts of productive activity too, and I’ve gotten a little spring cleaning done indoors as well. Not enough to suit me just yet. There’s a lot of catching up to do around here. Thus my long absence, which has been partly rest periods due to the early lapses into summer. Hot weather tends to make me just want to lie down in a dark room with an icy drink of something and whine about the heat. When the thermometer rises above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, my brain even seems to go on vacation. Hopefully that helps explain the long absence from blogs — mine and yours.

How’s your spring going so far?

Had any summer yet?

Want some of mine?

— Barbara @ rudimentary 4:00 pm PST, 04/18/08

March 17, 2008

The hawk and the dove

That title sounds like a metaphor for something, maybe political. But it’s not.

Earlier I wrote about the Ringed Turtle Dove I spotted one morning under our pine trees. I’ve been keeping a lookout for it, and have since seen it with a second dove, and the two of them courting. I think maybe they’re nesting in the pepper tree in the yard behind and downhill from ours. They like to hang out in our back yard, and I’ve seen them on the ground, on the fence, on the satellite dish, in the palm tree, in the pine tree, and on the old aerial antenna on our roof.

I also wrote earlier about the Red-Shouldered Hawks and Red-Tail Hawks in the neighborhood. I’m not sure which it is that’s been stalking the doves, but at one point yesterday I went out back and saw one of the doves perched on the satellite dish. As it sat there, I saw a hawk swoop out of the sky, diving for something in a yard two houses up the hill. I think it was a Red-Tail. The dove apparently didn’t see, or wasn’t concerned, even as the hawk flew over our yard, without any prey I could see. Disappointed, I suppose. The dove remained sitting there calmly, right out in the open, either unaware or unconcerned about the hawk.

A few minutes later, out front, I saw the hawk still flying around, getting hassled by a crow, but staying close by. When I returned to the house I took another look out back, because I’d just seen the hawk again. The dove was now perched on our back fence. I started to turn away, heard a kind of thump behind me, and turned my head. The hawk was flying away from the spot where the dove had just been. The hawk let out a frustrated cry, though, and then I saw that the dove had escaped into the nearby pepper tree. It sat there under the leaves, looking ruffled and scared. Yeah, me too. I think the noise I’d heard may have been the dove jamming off the chain-link fence into the tree with a split second to spare, but I’m not sure. It must’ve moved faster than I’ve ever seen it move.

A moment later I heard the dove cooing in the tree, but I didn’t see it sunning itself out in the open anymore yesterday, and today when I saw both doves up on our antenna, they seemed a lot more wary. The hawk, or possibly more than one, keeps circling the area, passing over now and then to see what prey is sitting out in the sun not paying attention.

I’m trying not to pay too much attention — though it’s difficult when these dramas unfold right in my back yard. It’s nature, and I love nature, but nature is dangerous at times, its beauty and peace transient at best. Today I’m keeping a respectful distance.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 12:01 pm PST, 03/17/08

March 15, 2008

Specialist or generalist

Have you ever had trouble deciding which topic to read about next, or what to major in in college? Has anyone ever told you that you have too many hobbies? Have you ever thought about leaving a perfectly good job to look for something else that might interest you more — even if it doesn’t pay more? Maybe you’re a generalist.

This past Saturday, Dave Pollard at How To Save the World linked to an essay in his Links of the Week that he described as brilliant and liberating, and I agree.

The essay, by William Tozier of the Notional Slurry blog, is titled, There are exactly two ways: one, and many. The two ways he discusses are specialization and generalization.

William Tozier proposes the notion that we’re all evolved to be generalists, that specialization isn’t normal. I tend to agree when I consider that many of our forbears were more general in their skills and knowledge than we are. Even today, skills tend to be more generalized in humans living closer to nature, and survival in a wilderness requires a lot of flexibility.

When I think about it, the only things our earliest ancestors planned was to survive, and they were never sure how they would have to do that. The only things they finished were a good meal when food was available, or a new tool or garment when an old one wore out — often taking time to add improvements or embellishments, so even they were never finished. They paused to take in their world and observe it. They learned from everything around them. They were creative, they were nomads, and they were students of life. They paid attention to what came their way, they took them as signs of what they needed to do, for now.

William Tozier discusses the problem of explaining to specialists what we generalists do, how to label ourselves in today’s world. It can be a problem, and I think this must be why, long ago, I started to think of myself as a writer. Aside from having an aptitude for English and composition, a writer has to read and learn about many things in order to do what she does. Writing provides an excuse to research anything and everything, as possibly relevant to a project. Later still I began referring to myself as a creative person, because that can involve lots of different interests too, even more than writing. It can encompass activities that are finished when they’re finished, or never finished, rather than finished to deadlines. Of course writers have deadlines, if they hope to make money at it, and there the generalist has to adapt to the specialized modern world.

I conformed to the specialized world for years, in being a reliable employee and meeting deadlines. I glued myself to my chair and focused on my job. I met deadlines, and earned awards and promotions for my conformity and work ethic. But I wasn’t happy. I didn’t even feel healthy doing that. Eventually it became habit, and I got so I felt uneasy if I didn’t have a plan. So then I was really stuck — uneasy with my schedule and commitments, and uneasy when I didn’t have any.

After a lifetime of thinking I wasn’t doing life right, that I needed to be more energetic, and get more done, finish more things, I feel relief and satisfaction to realize that I’m a generalist and always have been — and there’s nothing wrong with that. It explains so much. Some people may think of being a generalist as a bad thing and call us dilettantes, or unwilling to commit, and some may even think it’s a sign of a problem, one of those recently defined mental disorders for which there always conveniently seems to be a new drug. (When did we start inventing diseases to match the drugs instead of the other way around?) Heaven forbid any of us should be anything but cookie cutter normal, whatever that means. In our culture it apparently means we have to specialize in something, we have to plan everything out, have goals and deadlines, in order to succeed. We have to finish long lists of things, and fill every minute with structured activity.

Today we don’t just have a work ethic, we have a work ethic on steroids.

I for one am ready to stop the madness. If we were intended to plan everything out, then why do we need artificial planners like Daytimers, Palm Pilots, and Blackberries? If we’re supposed to have jam-packed calendars and meetings overlapping meetings, then why didn’t we evolve to keep our schedules in our heads, and to be in two places at once? If we were supposed to travel the same road everyday, then why do we love vacations so much?

Unfortunately, being generalists brings some of us less material success in life, since it’s much less likely that we decide on distinct, well-defined career paths, and even if we do, we get this itch to change careers now and then. We’re looked down on when we tend not to finish things to a schedule — and I agree that makes sense when others are depending on us to finish so they can do their things. We’re often better off working on our own, to our own schedules, which are pretty much nonexistent, and without anyone else depending on us conforming to a schedule. Sometimes we’re called Jacks of all Trades.

Provided you figure out eventually that this is how you’re supposed to be, that there’s nothing wrong with you for wanting less structure and commitment in your life, being a generalist can bring a great deal of freedom and happiness. After all, what makes you happier than being yourself, no matter how many directions that may lead you?

I’m a generalist, and have been all my life. I’m grateful to finally figure this out. Thanks, William and Dave.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 12:22 pm PST, 03/15/08

March 9, 2008

Memoir fraud

A few days ago the New York Times ran a story headlined Gang Memoir, Turning Page, Is Pure Fiction, about Margaret Seltzer, alias Margaret B. Jones, and her memoir that wasn’t a memoir at all. She has admitted it was fiction. Today Alternet reports on yet another memoir writer who lied, in Literary Frauds Strike Again … and Again.

So, let’s see if I understand this. We’re supposed to sell our fiction as memoir now? Is that what I’ve been doing wrong? Is this what they mean by creative nonfiction? I’m confused.

I guess the little hand slap mainstream media gave James Frey, not to mention his second book contract, weren’t very good deterrents to the hot new trend in books — memoir fraud.

Readers expect a memoir to be true, if from a limited perspective of the writer’s personal experience and memory of events, which can of course be slightly skewed. We don’t all remember events that happened when we were growing up the same way our siblings or parents remember them. Obviously a lot of other nonfiction is opinion, or facts mingled with theories, presented from a single biased viewpoint. But a memoir isn’t supposed to be deliberately made up and then presented as the author’s own story. That’s called fiction.

These so-called memoir authors sold what they wrote as their own life stories, when they knew the stories either weren’t true or weren’t their experiences. They could’ve called their stories novels, or fictionalized accounts, but they didn’t. They called them memoirs. Some of them (Frey, at least) made a lot of money.

I don’t know about you, but when I spend hard-earned money on a book, my expectations are still pretty high. Those expectations are being fulfilled by books less and less often these days. I’m starting to think it’s no wonder people are reading fewer books, and I think the problem boils down to simple greed.

We all need to make a living. But most of us try to work hard and put in an honest effort at something for our living. We don’t resort to cheating, theft, fraud, and sloppy ethics. So who’s to blame here? Are these people just laughing at all us dummies who bother to actually be honest about our work? Laughing all the way to the bank?

The LA Times has published another opinion on why this type of thing happens in Why we fall for the fakes, an editorial that blames not just the writers, but the publishers, and finally the readers who keep purchasing these books.

What do readers think about this? If you pick up a memoir to read, do you want to know the person is at least attempting to be honest and accurate? Do you want to believe the publisher did their part in making sure they weren’t helping to perpetrate a fraud, or even instigating it? Do you think the writer is making a promise he or she is responsible to keep? Or when you pick up a memoir do you expect a certain amount of fiction?

What do you consider getting your money’s worth from a book? What are your expectations of authors and publishers as far as honesty? Are consumers partly to blame when we keep buying and don’t demand quality and integrity from the companies selling us products? Are we the readers to blame for books that fall below standards in either quality or integrity? Are we voting with our dollar for dishonesty? Or is that just an easy excuse for those who knowingly sell us shoddy or misrepresented products? Isn’t that blaming the victims, something like the purse snatcher saying, “Well she was just walking along the sidewalk. What was she doing there if she didn’t want it stolen?”

Perhaps most important of all, how does this make you feel about telling young people they should read more books?

— Barbara @ rudimentary 11:40 am PST, 03/09/08

February 23, 2008

More birds

We’d seen it before, many weeks ago. A big bird of prey with black and white bands on its tail. The rest of it was paler than a Red-tailed Hawk, but we only caught glimpses of it flying over, and not a long enough look to identify it. We thought it was stalking the ground squirrel that moved in last summer. Maybe it was, because the ground squirrel hasn’t been around for a few days now.

Day before yesterday, we saw the big bird perch on top of the nearby telephone pole, and we got binoculars out for a really good look. Its breast, the undersides of it wings, and its beak are indeed paler than a Red-tailed Hawk’s. Its breast is almost pinkish or strawberry blond.

It’s a Red-shouldered Hawk, which is apparently found all over the eastern part of the country and along the California coast. I’d never seen one here before, not close enough to identify anyway. Our dominant hawk is the Red-tailed.

I wonder how long it’s been here, because last summer we watched what we think was a clutch of young hawks taking their first flight from a neighbor’s palm tree. Maybe this is one of the parents, back again to nest in the same tree. Or looking for the squirrel, or more squirrels. Poor squirrel, if so.

Our local birds continue to intrigue me with their variety and number. I’ve read, in a Harvard study, that this area is one of the most biologically diverse in the continental US, and that doesn’t surprise me, just basing my opinion on the birds.

I saw lots of owls from the road, when I used to leave for work while it was still dark. I’ve seen plenty of Black Phoebes here the past few weeks. I can’t seem to walk outside without spotting one of them. We have what I think may be Purple Finches, a variation from the House Finches we knew in San Diego, though I’m not certain. Some kind of small woodpecker likes the neighbor’s palm tree. We even have a small flock of feral parrots in the neighborhood, though I haven’t seen or heard them yet this year.

I’ve also seen lots of Mourning Doves, all my life, as I’m sure most people in North America have who pay any attention to wild birds. I’ve heard their mournful song since I was a girl and learned to recognize it. But this morning I heard a dove that sounded different, so I looked out the back window and saw a Ringneck Dove, also known as a Ringed Turtle Dove, under our pine trees. These doves aren’t natives. In fact they’re supposed to have been domestic for the past 3,000 years or so. But I suppose quite a few may have escaped into the wild at one time or another.

I just heard it again, out there, hiding in the pines and cooing, reminding me to post this. I wonder if it’s moved in to nest. If so, I guess it had better watch out for the Red-shouldered Hawk.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 2:45 pm PST, 02/23/08

February 15, 2008

Still winter

It turns out that this Snow on Mt. Palomar, back on December 9, 2007, was nothin’.

But you couldn’t have told me that three days ago, when our high temperature was about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and I was certain spring had sprung with a summery vengeance. I almost tucked away my warm clothes and pulled out my summer shorts.

There was no more snow on Mt. Palomar. It had all melted since around Feb 5th, when the mountain didn’t boast nearly as much snow as in early December. I did get a nice view of the entire mountain with snow on it, from our polling place on the 5th. But I didn’t have my camera with me, so this view was from our yard. As you can see, it wasn’t as much as in December.

Mt. Palomar 02-05-2008 melting

And like I said, by three days ago that was gone, melted. History.

But I’m glad I never got around to putting away my sweaters, because yesterday I don’t think the outside temperature ever rose above 50 degrees, and although the forecast had called for a light drizzle overnight, instead we got dark, threatening skies, cold wind, and steady rain for several hours yesterday.

I was sure that once the clouds parted there would be a fresh layer of snow on the mountains. But when they did, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Here’s our view just as the clouds lifted yesterday afternoon.

Clouds lifting 01 02-14-2008

Clouds lifting 02 02-14-2008

Below shows our view from our side yard at just around sunset yesterday, when the snow reflected the setting sun.

Sunset 02-14-2008

We can only see the lower, southern peak from our side yard, and that’s possible only in the past few months since we removed some obstacles. Below is a view of the entire mountain, from the vacant lot two houses down the hill, this morning. I’ve circled the portion visible from our yard in the second view below.

Entire Mtn 02-15-2008

Entire Mtn South Peak Circled

I don’t mind a little warm weather, and I don’t mind a little cold or rain. We can always use more rain around here, and snow is beautiful from a distance, but this snow looks more like Washington, Idaho, or Sierra snow than Southern California snow. Okay, maybe it’s like Big Bear snow. But it’s not normal San Diego County snow. We had roads close near Campo yesterday, which is near the Mexican border! Is it possible the entire region shifted north and we didn’t know it? It’s confusing, and I guess it’s time to dress in layers for a few weeks.

What the news people have to say:

A wintry surprise for area: Snow, sleet, hail, rain turn nice weather upside down

‘Slider’ brings rain around county, snow in moutains.

See what happens around here when it snows? People get stranded, roads close. Just a little snow can set us upside down and sideways. It’s not supposed to snow here.

But it sure looks pretty.

More 01 02-14-2008

More 02 02-14-2008

— Barbara @ rudimentary 12:18 pm PST, 02/15/08

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