Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The genetic source of tree carnage

It's my dad's fault that I enjoy tree carnage so much.  Most recently, we got to help him take down a large cedar that was growing too close to their house.

Now they have one less tree and lots of wood for fence posts.

We tried to convince Nimue to drag branches to the debris pile, but there are so many distractions for a kid in that yard.  Fun with static electricity!

More wretched excess on the Salsa Vaya

Yesterday I went on a bike ride from home looking for things like this:

on trails like this:

and ended up riding through no fewer than eight parks, 50 miles of mixed dirt and pavement, and roughly 5000 feet of climbing.

Another day, another fine ride.  Good bike.

For the curious, parks were:

Fremont Older Open Space Preserve
Montebello Open Space Preserve
Upper Stevens Creek County Park
Long Ridge Open Space Preserve
Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve
Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
Coal Creek Open Space Preserve
Arastradero Preserve

Could have easily picked up a couple more, given more time.  Good place to live.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dodging rain showers

I headed out to the coast for a short hike at Wilder Ranch earlier this week, despite the threat of scattered thundershowers.  For once, I hit the gap in between showers.

Egret playing in the waves.

The seagull on the right had just gulped down a little fishie.

Lazy lazy lazy sea lions sunning themselves.

Who knew that snails swim in puddles?

Happy Easter

Nimue is happy to report that she received a solid chocolate bunny, as well as numerous   jellybeans and assorted goodies.

We had Todd and Sarah and kids over for Easter dinner; as usual, Todd and Chad performed demented Easter Bunny duty. 

 Kids move too fast for photos while searching for eggs.

A yummy birthday chocolate cheesecake was snuck in at the end.  Mmmm...chocolate.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

March goes out like a lion and brings April flowers

We finally got some rain at the end of March, and I've ridden my bike way too much lately, leading to an uncharacteristic lack of bike motivation, so last week I took a day to go search out wildflowers at Santa Teresa County Park.  This park down in the south part of San Jose is on many lists as a local wildflower hotspot; I took my mom here last year when she visited at the end of May, only to find that that was a little too late.  I had to go back.

 This year, perhaps I was a little too early.  Still it didn't stop me from finding a couple of lovely hillsides full of flowers, and a total of at least 30 species that I was able to at least tentatively identify.  Much of the landscape is on serpentine, which around here at least seems to lead to numerous interesting blooms.  Here are a few for you to enjoy:

Two of my favorites -- cream cups and blue-eyed grass.  I just find them aesthetically pleasing (and easy to identify!), and I just like the name blue-eyed grass.

The poison oak is looking glossy and fecund.  I'm not sure I was ever aware that it flowered visibly before.  Evil itchy stuff.

I can't help but include the teasel for my mom, who famously made my dad stop on the side of the road to collect some on a long-past family vacation.  Species name dipsacus, so y'all learn a new word.  Invasive, but sort of cool and sculptural.

Topsy-turvey two-toned tidytips.  I don't remember taking this (must've been an accident!), but like the alliteration.  And the lopsided-ness.

A couple of new ones for me:  this poisonous Blue Witch, and the bright pink checkerbloom

The park itself is fairly small, but you can still pack in an 8 1/2 mile hike and not hit all the trails, with views of both Mt. Hamilton to the east and Mt. Umunhum to the west.  (yes, there are views of Hamilton without the power lines, but I am constantly amused by the urban/wild interfaces around here.

Along with all the flowers, there were a number of bugs and critters to stalk.  There seemed to be a particularly large number of turkeys -- the last shot is of one getting a running start just before it took off in flight and glided over a 100 foot ravine to get away from me.  I didn't know they could do that...most amazing.

Friday, April 6, 2012

One tough kiddo

The Small One, after walking 59 laps at her school walk-a-thon last week.  She just didn't stop -- not for bathroom, not for food, not for drink.  I periodically handed her sustenance from the sidelines like one of those people who hold out the bags of food and water bottles during bike races.

Then she skiied powder all weekend, in keeping with the mantra "Be tough like Ma!"  Good kiddo.

Who Did You Bite??

I came home the other day to find thick gooey bloodstains on the carpet.  (Cat toy included for scale)

Hmmm.  A grisly feline offense, perhaps?  The two cats don't get along, so my first thought was to check out victim kitty (aka Mariam).

No sore spots.

Check out the Bobber:  also no sore spots.  Nothing else out of place.
A closer look at evil kitty revealed some tell-tale spots on her fur under her chin that she was unable to clean off.  Aha -- evil kitty is indeed the perpetrator.

But who did she bite?

I've been waiting all week for the other shoe to drop.  Mariam hasn't shown any signs of being bitten.  One fears some hapless small critter snuck in through the garage when we weren't looking, only to be met by compulsive Fang-O Bobber.  Something will start to smell.

I ran the roomba, even though I feared it would drag some small carcass out from under the couch by its mangled foot.  Nothing.

Days later, there is still no reek.  Maybe she ate it wholesale?  A mystery, and Bobber's not telling.