Tag Archive: cisco

We woke up on Saturday morning to find three to five inches of snow on the ground. Cisco had a field day.

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My friend Tim makes his dog Moby’s food from scratch. During last year’s trip to San Francisco, I helped out with the process, and it was an experience. I’m not about to do all this myself, but we did start giving Cisco a raw egg maybe twice a week. Makes his coat even softer.

But Rich will take Cisco out around our property most afternoons, and he sniffs out the wildest food you could imagine. I’m usually not along on these excursions, and I really don’t want to see what he finds anyway.

No pictures (you’re welcome), but here’s a running list of the things Cisco has found to feast upon around our land:

  • Deer spines. Frequently. He chews on the cartilage.
  • A maggoty rat’s hind end. (I would have NEVER let him near that, but Rich is more liberal)

And here’s a running list of things where Cisco has dug out their holes and dragged out and eaten:

  • 3 mole pinkies. Hauled out their nest and ate them one by one. Hardly even chewed.
  • A fully-grown mouse. He held it down with his paw and ripped its head off. Then he ate the rest. At least he’s quick about it.
  • 2 baby rabbits. Each around 4-5 inches long. Ate them all. He needed some serious digestion time after that.

So, Tim, beat that!

Finally went to the nursery and got my container garden going for the year. I don’t dare start earlier than mid-May, because we’ve gotten snow as late as Mother’s Day before. From left to right, we’ve got some green beans, Lemon cherry and Juliet cherry tomatoes, Millionaire eggplant, and Habanero pepper:

Cisco supervised. He loves looking for lizards behind the pots.

Cisco supervised. He loves looking for lizards behind the pots.

Last year’s Italian flat-leaf parsley and English thyme both survived through the winter, so they got replanted to new pots:

container garden-last years survivors

The galvanized tin tub with lemon thyme, basil, and more Italian parsley. I love that stuff:

container garden-herbs

And last but not least, a mint plant:

container garden-mint

San Diego gets regular marine inversion layers in May and June, aka “May Grey” and “June Gloom.” But up here at altitude, we’re usually (but not always) above it. Makes for spectacular sunsets:


We have regular braided tug toys for Cisco, but by far, he prefers this scrap of microfleece. When he feels the need for some play, he goes to where we keep it and he pulls it out by himself. On a related note, is it possible to play tug with a dog and *not* make growly sounds?

It’s been about a year since I got the bonsai tree. I removed last year’s wiring around November, and it’s gotten a lot of new growth. I cut out the only patch of moss that took hold. Let’s hope it takes here. First I used a chopstick to gently coax the old dirt away from the roots, and trimmed the root ball. Then it got re-potted in good bonsai soil. Then a good soak in some fertilizer water. Then, new wiring and shaping. Then, trimming. Finally, re-setting the decorations and the patch of moss, plus a bit of that invasive greenery I saved. Here’s before:

The only moss that took hold was (interestingly) the patch surrounding the Japanese kodama tree spirit.

The only moss that took hold was (interestingly) the patch surrounding the Japanese kodama tree spirit.

And after:


The kodama got a new rock to sit on, and I added this really old-looking metal “monolith” I found in the woods. It’s set with JB weld onto a cool red-and-blue striped rock.


Rear view.

Spotted a rainbow on the way home from Thanksgiving with Mom yesterday:


t-day rainbow

Then this morning, we were treated to a winter wonderland!

black friday snow

black friday snow1

Cisco was so tired after the big day yesterday. Here he is sleeping with his blue squeaky bone as a pillow.

cisco sleeping on bone

This has easily been the weirdest July ever. Lots of thunderstorms. It’s already the wettest July on record, and that all fell in one weekend. Now we’ve got drought, wildfires, AND flooding. Whee.

It's pretty much looked like this all month.

It’s pretty much looked like this all month.

Rich & I met his old friend Darren at the Alpine Tavern & Grill. Great place — lots of rustic charm. They have tin tubs full of unshelled peanuts and smaller tubs for the shells. There’s a tiny garden courtyard in the back with a darling wooden shed. Got this raven strutting around on top of it:

raven on shed

We recently removed the kitty vestibule that housed the litterbox and served as a conduit between the cat door and the steps down to the ground outside. Now the cat door is open to the world. We keep it locked, but it serves as a perfectly-sized puppy window, just at Cisco’s height. Here he is looking out at dusk and whining at a deer:

cisco window

Rich & Cisco gently horsing around with the tug toy, waiting for Cisco to wear himself out.

On 6/30, we had a tremendous thunderstorm. I’d just raced down to the solar shed to disconnect the electrical system. That’s why I’m out of breath in the beginning of the video. I was soaked to the skin and dripping wet. But we sure as heck don’t want to lose our inverter. A neighbor lost their internet. The storm lasted for a good 20-30 minutes. We got more than a half inch in that short time.

For a short window of time every year, a wild strawberry patch near our house produces fruit. Since I could only pick a small number at a time, I brought them home and saved them in the freezer with some sugar. When the patch was finished producing, I took my spoils and made preserves. Here’s the collected strawberries macerating in sugar:

Look at how little they are. But B-I-G flavor!

Look at how little they are. But B-I-G flavor!

And the final product. I think my friends Tim & Alex might have to get the small jar.

The larger one looks a different color because the glass jar is blue-colored.

The larger one looks a different color because the glass jar is blue-colored.

It’s been super warm the past few days. Spotted a gopher snake cruising past the bird feeder at the height of day:

gopher snake

Cisco all tuckered out after a day outside. Just his puppy feet sticking out:

puppy feet

Fractured my toe Friday morning in the shower. I’ve never had a broken bone in my life. Heard an audible crack when I banged it against the ledge I was trying to put my foot on and missed. The bruising came in almost immediately, and spread throughout the day. So did the pain. Did a hot/cold contrast bath that evening, took a bunch of ibuprofin, and taped it to its neighbor. The taping definitely makes it feel better. It’s getting better every day, and I can put a bit of weight on it now. Keeping it taped, though. Feels way too vulnerable without it.



toe day 2


Here in SoCal, we get a natural weather phenomenon called “May Grey” and “June Gloom,” where a thick marine inversion layer settles in every late afternoon/evening and stays put until mid-morning the next day. Every year, we see disappointed tourists on the news complaining about the lousy beach weather. Do your homework, people — this happens EVERY YEAR. You want sunshine, don’t arrive until at least July. Sometimes the layer is high enough that is comes right up to the edge of our neighborhood at approximately 4,500 feet:

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Cisco knows to leave the birds at the birdfeeder alone, but if he sees a squirrel (or chipmunk – he can’t tell them apart) approaching, he barks insanely at them until they leave. It’s his new job. And he takes it VERY SERIOUSLY. I love how he throws his whole body into each bark.

When he’s had a big day, Cisco sleeps like it’s his other Very Important Job.

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Can you spot the grouchy old man’s face in these branches? (Sorry, GOM – no offense!)

Looks like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons to me.

Looks like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons to me.

Finally, we went to Tecate yesterday and got some of those incredible street tacos. Even snagged a small jar of their chili sauce to bring home! The main plaza there has been undergoing some renovations over the past several months, and they’re almost done. Right next to the Taqueria Los Amigos, there’s a brand-new mural. She’s a bruja (witch) complete with a deer-spirit materializing from the hair-fan she’s holding, and on the far right, you can see some spirits arriving to her summoning (behind the scaffolding – it might not be completed yet). I bet this is an actual person – she’s depicted so realistically, right down to the cataract in her right eye.

bruja mural

Cisco Howling

Apparently, sometimes after I leave the house, Cisco will howl for a little while. Just heartbreaking. Poor baby.

Day 5 — Wednesday, April 29, 2015 — Last Full Day (Part 3)

We took a Lyft back home from Chinatown. Next on the agenda: Wine night at the local dog park.

First though, right across the street from the dog park, Tim pointed me down an unmarked private residential breezeway and told me to just follow my nose, that they’d meet me at the park. Curious, I made my way through and quickly saw an enchanting courtyard garden with stone benches, tinkling chimes, and a bubbling fountain:

An open door at the back invited me in:

And I immediately saw why Tim had sent me back here. It was a tiny, charming little Wicca shop called Sword & Rose, dimly lit by a single stained-glass skylight:

Some folks inside were discussing an upcoming channeling workshop. I wandered around the tiny space and looked at the overpriced crystals, chimes, incense, beads, candles, books, herbs, oils, and other similar magickal items.

Left with a “Blessed Be” to the proprietress and made my way back over to Tim & Alex at the dog park.

Wine night, every Wednesday at dusk, is a social time for dog owners to chill and get to know each other better.

Moby & Gio's dog

Moby with Gio’s dog, Snarles Darwin, a Great Dane mix.

tim throwing ball

Dogs dogs dogs

Dogs dogs dogs

I got to pet this sweet little black Chihuahua love-muffin for a while, which was really nice. I miss Cisco! Baroo!

A couple of the folks there, Gio and Will, would also be joining us for dinner on my last night there.

Last of the architecture:





Gio (short for Giovanna) brought three dozen fresh oysters from the farmer’s market and set about shucking them for us. I helped Tim whip up a spiky red sauce for them, with lemon juice, ginger, and Sriracha. OMG OMG OMG. I’ve had raw oysters only once before, at the Fish Market on San Diego’s embarcadero. I thought they were okay, but they didn’t change my life.

These oysters changed my life.

And that was just the appetizer. Will and I got to chatting over glasses of an amazing Sangiovese and mostly stayed out of the way. Alex made an outstanding garlic bread, and Tim did sous vide salmon fillets on beds of pureed fresh peas topped with sauteed shitake mushrooms (the ones I brought home from the Ferry Building), plus asparagus spears with breadcrumbs and a dreamy dill sauce. Here’s a video of the technique Tim used. The salmon came out incredibly moist and tender.



As if that wasn’t enough, then we had a four-berry pie with hot tea for dessert. The conversation was fun and stimulating. I had a blast. Didn’t get to bed until 12:30 am, which is terribly late for me, plus I had to be rolling for the airport by 7:30 am the next morning.


Day 6 — Thursday, April 30, 2015 — Travel Home

Tim was a trooper. He got far less sleep than I did, but he still drove me to a downtown BART station and dropped me off. Such a sweetheart. Love you!

Tried to sleep on the train to SFO. TSA security at SFO is much tougher than at San Diego. Unlike SAN, I had to remove my tablet, my baggie full of 3-oz. toiletries, my shoes, the contents of my pockets, and my coat. All I had to remove at SAN was my meteorite bracelet, and that was only because it set off the metal detector.

Then they sent me towards the big backscatter X-ray full-body scanner, and I stopped and said no thank you. I don’t mind plain old metal detectors, but the amount of radiation you get from those underwear scanners is ridiculous. Not to mention the radiation you’re going to be getting just from being in the plane itself. They had to get a female TSA agent to give me a pat-down, which actually only took a couple of extra minutes, which I had plenty of.

Got an orange juice and a banana ($6.11 – holy cow!) to put on top of the Dramamine, and took another nap in the airport lounge. When it was time to take my pill, I went over to the Buena Vista Cafe in the SFO terminal (yay, they have a location here in the airport!) and got one of those lovely Irish coffees to help settle my almost-borderline hangover. Sat by the huge window overlooking the luggage-cart staging area. Ate the banana and the Dramamine and made some phone calls. Felt so much better, I got another Irish coffee. I know, it was technically still morning, but there were plenty of other folks at the bar, so at least I wasn’t alone. It’s happy hour somewhere, right? Besides, in an international hub airport, people are on all sorts of time zones. 🙂

Anyhoo, remember how at the Buena Vista on Hyde, two Irish coffees plus a Shirley Temple came to $19.75 before tip? Well, imagine my shock when I got the bill for just two Irish coffees, and it was $26.70! Good fookin’ lord, they got me good. Airport prices. Captive market.

Regardless, I was sufficiently sedated for this flight that I didn’t feel even a glimmer of airsickness. Whew. Rich picked me up, and we stopped in Alpine for lunch at Al Panchos on the way home.

As fun as the trip was, it was SO nice to get back home. Here’s the joyous reunion with poor Cisco:

Check out next year’s San Francisco 2016 Travelogue!

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