Monday, March 31, 2014

Rain and Sunset

This afternoon it rained.  Actually, for about one and half hours, it poured.  Cats and dogs sort of rain.  Midway through the storm, I pulled on my boots, put on my coat, found my umbrella and then the dogs and I went for a walk.  It was glorious.

The pond is, ever so slowly, gaining in volume.  There are two mallard ducks who seem to have taken up residence there.


The lower creek is almost flowing.

Sadly, the rain stopped just as we were about to get the runoff from the hillsides that capture the water and get the creeks to rushing downwards.

I came back inside and sat down at my computer to do some work.  Then a bright glow gleaming through the window over my shoulder made me look around.

And there it was.  The most beautiful sunset I have ever seen on the last day of March.

Or maybe it's the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen.  It hardly matters.  It was glorious.

Five minutes later, the sun slid behind the hills and the colors had faded to a soft violet.

Sometimes I'm afraid to blink for fear of missing something.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Walk

The other evening Bruce, Murphy and I drove the mile past Vista Point, pulled off onto Telegraph Road and took a walk.  The sun was setting, the crickets chirping and the fragrance of baby leaves drifted through the waning sunlight.
In other words, the universe was there singing for us and we were there to appreciate it.

How perfect is that?


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Steampunk Owl House

This is our second owl house, in an old pine in a hollow below our pond.  I put it up over 15 years ago and it's been a popular abode for many barn owls and their raucous broods.

In all the years that the box has been up, I've never cleaned it out.  I always meant to, but it was one of those jobs that was easy to put off for another time.

Finally, last autumn, I noticed that the weight of the debris inside the nest had split the sides of half of the box and things were definitely askew.  However, I hadn't seen any owls around it in awhile, so figured that they'd moved on to better digs than our ramshackle box with daylight pouring in through the sides.

Imagine my surprise when I was out on my walk last week and spotted an owl sailing out of the box and into the woods.  If the box was empty, I didn't see any great harm in leaving it as it was -- but if an owl was planning on raising a brood in there, something had to be done to at least hold it together.

On closer inspection, it was in really, really bad shape.  I'm surprised that any self-respecting owl would even consider moving in there.

As we stood below the tree, looking up, an irrate owl flapped out (only several very blurry pictures of this).

I decided that it may be too upsetting to the resident owl if we cleaned the box completely out, so Bruce found two straps with ratchets on them that I could use to bind the whole thing together.

It only took a few false starts before I had the straps in place the right way.  I then was able to ratchet the straps tightly around the box.  There still was a little gapping, but it was a lot better than it had been.

Hmm.  Yes, I like the seedy look of the owl house's new red-checked suspenders.  It's got a steampunk sort of vibe to it now that brings an exciting new trendiness to Frogpond Acres.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Flower Show

 Bruce and I got in the truck and drove over to the Bay Area on Saturday for the San Francisco Flower Show.  The exhibits were awesome, we bought so many plants that we staggered under the load (somebody forgot the roll-y cart), and ate chicken shish-kebabs and drank wine.  A fun day.

This gazebo is made from grape cuttings fastened to a pvc frame.  Naturally, in the euphoria of the moment, we thought we could easily make the same structure in our own yard.

Here's something else that caught our eye and which we felt we could tackle.  How difficult could it be to construct a bamboo water wheel?

   It was a lovely day.

This handsome fellow came home with us

Friday, March 21, 2014

The First Evening of Spring

Last night's sky was a rather ordinary one until just after the sun set.  As it sank behind the hill, bright color spilled upwards across the clouds.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Owl House

We have owls!  How do I know?  Just look at their nicely smudged front door.  And if that wasn't enough proof that they've taken up residence in the box we put up in the big pine on the hill, just look at what they've dropped down in their front yard...

Owl pellets -- heaps and heaps of them peeking through the grass.  All those tiny piled up gopher bones and skulls bring a joy to my heart.  Animal lover though I am, I can't abide the little varmints:  chewing up my tree roots, toppling my zinnias, nipping through the stalks of my sunflowers and pumpkins.  Lets hear it for barn owls and their hearty appetites.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Nothing Gold...

One more spring.  One more occasion for this poem by Robert Frost to bounce around my head and come out of my mouth like a mantra:

Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only for an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.

This truly is, to me, one of the most beautiful, bittersweet and true poems ever written.  It goes right along with one of my favorite words in the English language:  ephemeral.  The weather is warm, dry and windy.  The tulips are saying their wistful farewells.

Even though they're at their flamboyant peak for only a very short time, it's so very worth it to plant them up here in the harshness of Copperopolis.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Dove Invasion

The native doves that live in our area are Mourning Doves -- rather demure and retiring.  I don't know when I began noticing it -- sometime in the past year or so -- but, they definitely seemed louder, brasher and larger.  Bruce is the one who finally did some research and discovered that the doves around the house weren't Mourning Doves anymore, but Eurasian Collared Doves.

They somehow turned up in Florida in the mid 1970s and have since spread exponentially across the US.  They are, to put it mildly, very successful in their new home.

Bruce took some remarkable pictures of them landing at our grain pan.  They are magnificent (in a dovey sort of way).  Researchers say that the Eurasian Doves don't appear to be driving out our native species.  I hope that they're right.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Last evening, Mama and I trundled up to the swing with glasses of wine in hand and several dogs in tow.  Times like this are magic and I'm so glad that Bruce took the time to snap this picture from the house.  Let's hear it for telephoto lenses!

The Cranes Return / The Crane's Return

School has been (more than ever) all-consuming.  It's crazy-time season there -- the normal sort of events that come at us thick and fast have been joined by negative politics that have struck at the heart of our school.  I'm having to figure out how to ride out all of the negative changes that appear to be coming our way.

Meanwhile, spring has arrived at Frogpond.  The pond is still little more than a very large puddle, but the recent rains have brought some green to the hills.  I'm grateful for that.  Yesterday I dug out the roses that had begun languishing in the barrels I'd planted them in years before.  I wheeled them down to the lower garden, where I hope they do better.

While replanting them down there, I heard the creaking, plaintive calls of Sandhill Cranes overhead.  Looking up, I saw a huge flock come circling into view.  Hundreds of birds formed patterns against the sky as they spiraled and soared through the thermals.  Bruce and I stopped work to admire the living Chinese scroll that swirled above us.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Max in the back of the truck, inspecting the hay bales

Last Sunday was a lovely, drippy day -- it was the kind of rainfall that brightens colors even though (perhaps because) the sky is dark and grey.

The tulips and daffodils are in high bloom.  After four months of dry weather, I was afraid that the bulbs wouldn't be able to perform very well this year.  But the February rains got everything growing in double-time.

Seal looking grumpy, but really smiling

Happy, wet hen

Arby on the porch, staying dry

What we still need like crazy is a gully-washer of a rain to give us massive amounts of precipitation.  These gentle washings from above are appreciated, but we'd need hundreds of them in order to raise our water table and fill the pond.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Kitchen Project: It's not easy being green

I love the Craftman Style cabinet fronts built by Hugh, but am not so sure about the green color I painted the frames.  The kitchen now seems too dark.   The green seems a little...wrong.  Is it too dark?  Or too light?

Oh, and it doesn't help that the green hasn't hardened like it should and still scratches down to the white primer coat very easily.  If the green stays, I'll need to do touch-ups and hope that the paint sets one of these days.

 I got more paint chips and am thinking of changing the color to a very warm white.  Bruce photoshopped the cabinets to give an idea of what this might look like.  My opinion?  A rather hesitant, "I don't know."

What I do know is that the thought of clearing out the kitchen once again, and then resanding, rewashing, repriming and repainting another two coats is daunting.  In the extreme.  So much so that I've just about talked myself into letting the green stay for awhile in hopes I learn to love it eventually.