Tag Archive: julian

It’s been some weeks since we’ve seen Brindle, but Mini is still hanging out at our property. Rich has made up an elaborate shelter that slides under the shed he’s been sleeping under. But this past week, after some nasty weather, we’ve coaxed Mini inside for long stretches of time, usually overnight. In the morning, he meows to be let out. Mini and Cisco have been surprisingly chill around each other, too, thank goodness.

Still wet here.

Still wet here.

mini indoors-loving this inside stuff


Gazing at Rich in adoration

Gazing at Rich in adoration

Totally on board with this “warmth” thing. He’s got a super loud purr, like a motor, but it’s hard to hear on video for some reason.

And the belly rubs are acceptable, too. You will DIE when you see the stretch at 0:20.

Some deer hanging out near the salt lick:

deer in backyard

We have a handful of junked-up properties here in our area, but this disintegrating ruined trailer in another neighborhood nearby takes the cake. This was taken from the road. What a travesty.

ruined trailer

For Christmas, my Mom gave me a piece of heirloom jewelry: my father’s 1958 West Point pin. It was the very first gift he ever gave to my Mom.

WP pin

It’s not the sort of thing I’ll wear, plus the pins on the back are super tiny. After searching Etsy for a “pincushion frame” I decided I could make one myself.

WP pin closeup

I’ve been collecting acorns for making acorn meal. I’ve got enough to last me through all winter!

green egg acorns

Black oak leaves, backlit by the sun, look like little stained glass windows.

oak leaves

A recent sunset.

sunset 151025

Loving this cooler weather, too!

An amazingly beautiful sunset the other evening:

altamira sunset

There’s an elderberry bush at the end of our road. At least I’m pretty sure they’re elderberries. Harvested a big bowlful and now they’re in the freezer. I’m thinking of making elderberry syrup with it. I’ve got a good recipe here, from one of my writing clients, and it’s supposed to be full of vitamins and great for coughs and colds.

Freshly picked

Freshly picked

Got around a cup and a half.

Got around a cup and a half. They look like teeny tiny blueberries.

Spotted what HAS to be the same big black tarantula again, this time making tracks for another part of the property.

This guy sure gets around.

We’ve had some wildlife come near the house the past few days. First, we were sitting outside when this enormous black tarantula came right up to us and froze here for a minute:

Then he was on the move again. Cisco was literally vibrating with excitement — I had to firmly hold him on my lap.

The next day, we were inside working when a towhee outside was chirping loudly and insistently. Finally I got up to see what he was up to, and that’s when I noticed what was making the bird so agitated: a gorgeous king snake. They’re the good guys; they eat other snakes. It was hard to get video through the window screen, and he kept to the shade, too, making him almost impossible to see. But then he broke cover and swam across a skim of water on the ground. Eventually he disappeared around the side of the house, with the towhee scolding him the whole time. He may have been hunting for lizards. You can hear Rich’s police scanner squawking in the background.

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

An assortment of the daffodils, poppies, lilacs, a baby oak tree, and other tiny bulbs blooming around the yard right now:


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Cisco has become OBSESSED with chasing lizards. Chipmunks and bunnies are okay, too, but he thinks about lizards night and day. He’s already completely dug out a rock pile trying to get at one. He’s one strong little dude. Yesterday, Rich took him outside for a few hours and he went bananas sniffing critters out. Actually wore him plum out. Here he is all tuckered out in a sunbeam.


When I read this fascinating article about Indian marker trees, I realized we had one right here in our neighborhood. I walk Cisco by it every day.

Looks like someone's elbow.

Looks like someone’s elbow.

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