On the other side

Wow. Since I was last here, there was a pandemic, there was an apocalyptical fire season, we finished the project.

On the micro level, I spent 2 weeks with family. I flew down to AZ to get my mother, flew her up here, spent almost a week and then drove her back, visiting two brothers along the way, spent a few days during which we went to visit an aunt and a cousin.

It was fun. A lot of driving and a lot of visiting. And now I’m home. It feels like it will take some time to remember what it is I do here. The gloomy weather doesn’t help.

I have some thoughts.

A family trip is great, but it’s not the sort of vacation where you go off and do exactly what you want. Next May I’m going to go down there and spend a week looking for birds. And hiking.

I really hope this pandemic is really over because it’s fabulous to get out of the house. Pleasant as it has been to spend a year in the house. And for the most part it has been kind of fabulous to have all external obligations disappear. Except work.

What have you been up to? I’ve read a lot. I haven’t been outside as much as I should have. Well, that’s not true. I’ve been outside but haven’t been hiking. I planted the whole backyard with native plants.

Hard to step back in having stepped out.

Desert ironwood
Barrel cactus

Cleaning out

We’re getting ready for a big house project. We’re building a deck off the kitchen, and under the deck a study for K, and in the basement we’re digging out in preparation for an eventual apartment.

It’s possibly crazy. We have a three bedroom house— shouldn’t that be big enough for two people? But the fact is, It often turns out that it’s good we have two guest rooms. And it would be great for everyone if K had a place to store all his papers. He really does not at the office.

So. We’re going for it. And I’ve been clearing out the basement in preparation.

Coincidentally, it’s also fall, which means there’s a lot to do in the poor neglected garden. Also coincidentally, but because it’s fall, it’s fire season, and power has been cut off to the campus I work at for the past three days.

So I’ve been doing a lot of clearing out. And finding boxes of stuff we shoved into the basement when we moved in, 13 years ago.

It makes me nostalgic.

I’m sitting in the pleasant, airy backyard. I am very glad that all this packing and cleaning, which had the cat very alarmed, is not because we’re moving anywhere.

It’s going to be great.

Brooks Island

Q38hvt8sR2+NbMIwSPyoWQI went out to Brooks Island! It’s an island in the bay that is notoriously hard to get to. I’ve been looking at it for 30 years and I finally made it out there with a class I’m taking. You’ve got to go out with a park ranger, and the fact that it’s surrounded by shallow water and lots of mud makes it that much harder.

ZrcKMuuIQheMRUobId7wLAORHLIs5wREaLgSFDyfsZLgL%tXDpgxQq21w56oUEDPBAF79JHf7DT+qvomgOK+MQ5gGwD3SGKhRTa190Aq1+tiYAIt was worth it.

Family reunion


I went to a family reunion for my grandmother’s family. I have kind of  weird feeling about them because they are very much a clan, some of them are fairly well off, and because my grandmother’s father and mother died when she was young and because she then married and moved to North Dakota, she was kind of cut off from them.

However, this reunion was kind of fun.

The family pretty much made its fortune moving across the continent cutting down virgin forest. All of siblings ended up stationed in some place where they were involved in milling lumber, from Vancouver, B.C. to the bay area.  The talk was very much about trees. We talked about all the giant redwoods they were responsible for destroying and how the woodwork in the family home was pretty much heartwood redwood. We also talked about how much of coastal northern California used to be covered by redwoods. Probably a lot.

It also seems like other cousins had similar ambiguous relationships to the big group.

I’m glad I went because  liked some of them —




Still here, just busy.

Rushing home, in fact, because N’s girlfriend is staying with us (she’s at a conference), so I think I should rustle up some dinner.

Anyway. The capsule summary:

  • We seem to have hired a new person at work, which is excellent.
  • I’m going on a field trip on Sunday for a class I’m taking at the local community college. The class is on islands, and we’re going to Brooks Island. I am very excited. It’s an uninhabited island in the bay that I have been wanting to explore forever, but you can only go on a guided tour. Really, I am very excited.
  • I am very tired. I picked said girlfriend up from the airport last night at 11 (I didn’t have to! I volunteered!) which is so far past my bedtime I can’t even tell you.
  • I’ve also managed to go to the gym 3 days this week. Pathetically this is a record, recently.
  • I’m working one more year, but I am really itching to retire. I volunteer for a local national park, and as a volunteer they have all these really interesting free classes, on, like Wednesday morning. I can’t do any of it until I retire, and now that it’s close, I can’t wait. Also, at the community college, there are tons of classes I would like to take, many of them in the middle of the day. Anyway, it something to look forward to.
  • Seems like there’s more, but I really have to go –

Have a good weekend!

Stuff I learned today

I went to work today, but really I was just hanging out in case disaster struck — the library is pretty much staffed by undergraduates all weekend long.

Disaster did not strike, though there was some complication with the reading room lights, and I mostly just sat in my office. Where, by diligent searching on ancestry I found out that my grandmother had a lot of relatives around here. I knew she had some, but she had more.

I find it hard not to get sucked in. Janet, who was called Jenny at home, married a guy in Michigan (they were both Canadians who had come across for lumbering purposes. Originally they were all from Scotland). They lived in Ukiah and Everett, Washington, and then Oakland — all the while lumbering, and then he died, and of the five kids, three married and went away, one married and went away and then came back, and one never left. Her daughter married a ship’s pilot, and she died young and the son grew up to be a ship’s pilot, too. There are pictures of him on Treasure Island, which was a naval station in the bay.

Anyway — they are just people — I guess they would have been my grandmother’s cousins, so not even so closely related. But it is interesting to try to figure out how they lived.

I’ve got to find all the pictures my mother has stashed away somewhere before they are lost forever. There are great ones of my grandmother and my great-grandmother. There’s one of my great grandmother on a timber claim in Idaho, and one of my grandmother as a little girl standing on a pier in the water somewhere near Vancouver.

There’s another relative on my grandfather’s side — his aunt, in fact, who was named Nora. She eloped with a man from Kentucky. He later died or disappeared and her son went to jail. That must have been a shock.

Anyway, a project for retirement.


More animal news

My daughter Maddy rescued a dog!


Maddy lives in Beijing. This dog was hanging around her neighborhood.


He didn’t seem to belong to anyone, and he seemed like a nice dog —

IMG_0517She was worried the security people would take him away or worse, so she did some research and found a rescue place that would take him, train him, and try to find a home for him. She just had to catch him and take him to the vet, and the rescue would pick him up from the vet. There were even people who would help her catch him.

Last week she met other residents of her garden, which is what a neighborhood is called in Beijing, who were the dog’s friends. They were worried, too, and thought Maddy’s plan was a good one. So today, Maddy, the dog catchers, the dog friends, and Maddy’s boyfriend all gathered to catch the dog to take him to the vet. It was raining, so Maddy was worried that they might not find him, but they did!

IMG_0515Armed with treats and a leash, they found him, cold and wet, and lured him into the car. The vet said he was healthy, so it’s off to the rescue. Maddy will visit next week.

He seems like a sweet little thing. I wish she could keep him.

In other news, I’ve been working in the garden, where suddenly everything is in bloom. It’s nice to be out there.


Maybe 2X will be the charm and this blog business will stick.

I took today off — I have to work on Sunday, so it seemed only fair — and went birding with a friend. The trees in a canyon about an hour from here are full of migrant warblers, and I saw two hermit warblers, a bird I’ve never seen before. Also we saw a black-headed grosbeak, which my friend had never seen, so all in all a fruitful trip.

Yesterday was hatch day for the pair of peregrine falcons nesting on the campus bell tower and yesterday was hatch day. We got the campus art museum to show the live stream of the hatching falcons on their giant outdoor movie screen. That was very fun. Lots of people stopped by — it’s sort of on the path from the campus to the subway, but also lots of people had heard and came by.



There’s a small bit of sadness — two eggs hatched just fine, but one seems like it won’t make it — the chick pecked all around from inside but somehow couldn’t summon the strength to get out. Still — two chicks is fine, and it will be fun to watch them grow up. The livestream is here, if you want to watch.

Anyway, now I’m home, and Cora the cat and I are hanging out on the porch. Tomorrow I don’t really have to do anything which I am extremely happy about. I think I’ll go buy a broom and sweep up all the leaves —



Suddenly, I find that I am missing a place to post quick notices of daily doings. I can’t promise that I’ll keep this up —

  1. It’s spring! or maybe even summer! I rode my bike to work yesterday for the first time since last fall, and then to a party, and then home, up a giant hill. It was exhausting, but surprisingly doable. I’ve been trying to go to the gym regularly (i.e., for the past two days) and I am completely worn out. But then I was able to ride my bike up the hill — I can’t figure out if I’m in terrible shape or ok shape. I think, maybe, with my 60th birthday breathing down my neck, I’m going to have to just expect things will take me longer. It’s probably not ever going to be that I am going to beat 30 year olds up the hill, but then again, just getting up the hill at all may have to be good enough. I may never be able to hike 25 miles in a day. Oh, the other thing is that this lengthy ordeal was about seven miles. 🙂
  2. Also, I really do want an electric bicycle.
  3. I’m taking a class on the natural history of the California islands at a local community college. That’s another weird thing — what can I do with this? I sort of want to go on and get an AA in biology. Is that nuts? I mean — obviously I should not take a spot away from some young person who can go on and have a career. But it’s interesting, and I am enjoying it — hmm.
  4. I’m hungry —