Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wildlife in our backyard

Deer are frequent visitors to our yard, especially when there are young shoots on which to nibble. They leap a fence to enter, but we think they feel safe behind our fences. The two below are beneath our blossoming plum tree. They will be back later to eat plums, either from low-hanging branches or from the ground. They seem to prefer the ones on the ground which are often fermented. Alcoholic deer?

Our most notable backyard visitor was a peacock, a solitary bird from parts unknown, who took up residence and began to advertise loudly for a mate. The neighbors complained so bitterly that we called the pound. The animal control officer brought a wire cage large enough to hold a peacock or even a small mountain lion, and baited it with choice seeds. The peacock never was tempted inside but slept on top of it. At the end of the summer, having attracted no similarly displaced peahens,
he shed his feathers and disappeared.

He did, however, inspire me to write this poem:

Regally he paces into view --
step, then pose, then step --outside our room,
small imperious head with swept-back plume
balanced on its column of shocking blue.

He wears his wedding raiment, trailing train
or iridescent satin, feathered sheen
of circlets -- emerald, sapphire, turquoise green
on shifting bronze and gold. We tap the pane.

His strident outcry penetrates out walls,
pierces our minds, awakens memory
of gothic tales, estates that used to be.
What is it he demands with raucous calls?

His hens? He was alone when he appeared
and claimed our unkempt yard, small urban stage.
Wide lawns of empire lost, another age
when he could strut and preen and never feared
the thorny vines that strip each nether quill?
Shrill, he summons his retinue. Who comes?
We lean past garbage pails and toss him crumbs,
sole loyal subjects who obey him still.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Warm weather

It isn't spring, but more like summer today. This has been a great year for California poppies. They have been flourishing in road dividers as well as gardens and vacant lots. It's an abundance that almost rivals that of my childhood years when we thoughtlessly picked them by the armload. Only once since then have I seen as many. In the year after the great Oakland fire, poppy seeds, that had been dormant ever since houses were built above them, sprang forth in the ashes of said houses.
Otto and I have been searching our files and printing photos to try to convince the world's most suspicious IRS auditor, that, yes, we really are a business, and that, yes, we did actually take those business trips that we deducted. And yes, we did pay for tests of our equipment at certified laboratories. We have been audited every year for the past 2 decades. This particular audit is of the year 2003. Our tax lawyer is himself an ex-IRS employee, and he can't believe what is happening. If anyone reading this wonders what our business is, here is the link to Otto's website, PhaseAble .

Saturday, April 21, 2007

3rd attempt to make link to Peacock Blue work!

Friday, April 20, 2007

I was charmed by this corrugated-board book by the granddaughter of my good friend and fellow writer, Mary Parks. Lucy Parks Urbano was 5 years old when she drew the front cover and the inside of the back cover of this book. She is 6 now. The story, entirely her own, was dictated.

This is the entire front cover
The following is the dictated story itself:
Chapter 1
Once upon a time a family that loved to dance danced every night - the foxtrot. And the foxtrot was a very important dance to them because they were very rich and in those days rich people usually ate foxes and bagels and cream cheese for dinner. So they liked to do the foxtrot. The sister danced with the brother and the mother danced with the father.

One night after they had done the foxtrot six times because the sister thought it was so fun the brother said that he didn't want to do it ever again. The mother said it depends on you and the next morning when the brother and sister woke up they were out of the house in one minute but too soon the mother realized that they had run away with all their clothes but they
were so rich that they had 89 nightgowns, 76 shirts and pants and 11 hats and 89 jackets. And the mother and the father looked out the window and saw a carriage rolling away and they thought it must be the carriage that they had gone in. So they just stayed there for a million years getting richer and richer.

And one hot summer day the brother and sister came home.

I abridged this inside back cover by cutting a bit off the left side as it had no drawing on it.


Yesterday I posted a link that didn't take. I'll try again for Peacock Blue which today has some photographs that you really should see!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I was in a panic yesterday when I accessed this site and found that all of my pictures - every single one except my own ID one at the right - had gone missing, leaviing a blank space. I fussed with all sorts of potential on-line help, found that others were having the same problem, finally joined the "blogger help group" and found that the problem was temporary. What a relief!
I forgot to give credit to the two photographers of my great-grandchildren in the Easter and spring pictures below.. Summer and Baxter's photo was lifted from Daria's Day blog (with permission).The photographer was Daria Bishop, their mother, who is a professional photographer. Jon's picture was taken by another granddaughter, Josie Andersen, and is from her blog, Jonster's Days .
Recently I discovered another blog that I find cleverly written and illustrated, Peacock Blue . She posts many striking photos, but two recent ones, one is of a sunset, another of an egret that she spotted nearby, inspired me to post the following urban landscapes.

This is an early morning shot of San Francisco taken from my bedroom window. It was taken with telephoto and trimmed. Clouds obscure the background hills. The large black building is the Bank of America building, the spire is the Trans-America pyramid.

This capture of a rainbow was made by my son-in-law, Clinton Shock, who was out for an early morning jog. It is taken from a viewpoint about halfway down our block where several lots are too steep for building, thus opening this view to the west, of Berkely, Albany, the Bay and the Golden Gate. Our hills rise steeply behind him, still shading the lower branches of the trees and the rising sun behind him touches their tops. Squally March weather with misty showers probably explains the rainbow.

.California poppies. What else better expresses a California spring?

Here is my own poetic expression of spring:
Spring Is...
Spring is not allegory. It is weighed
in density of sound from drunken bees,
intensity of sky, contrast of shade
and glinting leaf, the whisper brush of breeze
against my sleeveless skin; and it is seen
in swooping jay's blue stitchery that sews
pure cherry blossom white to tender green.
Spring is the sun-baked boards between my toes,
strawberries tart on tongue, the first warm night
that lilac scent, as thick as honey, pours
through open windows, moths around the light
and filmy dust of pollen on the floors.
Don't try to find a meaning or define,
for spring is real, and here, and now, and mine.

Monday, April 16, 2007

No problem with ants today, and no wonder! It's a day when anyone would prefer to be outdoors!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Enough of dragons! How about some real live great-grandchildren celebrating Easter and Sprigtime? At left Summer and Baxter Bishop color eggs, and at right Jon Andersen enjoys the spring wildflowers of Texas.

Yesterday, the day after I had bragged about our Berkeley spring weather, there was a torrential downpour that convinced one or more outdoor ant colonies that they were flood refugees. Their scouts are wandering about the house looking for a suitable relocation spot. Today is beautiful again. How can I convince them that they really prefer the great outdoors?

Friday, April 13, 2007

I'm not sure exactly what I have just done on this blog. I had tried to install one of my animated gifs (of Dramock, my favorite dragon - my own drawing), published it to see if it continued to be animated, found that Dramock remained stationary, sought to revise the blog and inadvertently caused even stationary Dramock to disappear. I seem to have a compulsion to try things...

Since I feel sorry for Dramock, I posted a different picture of left. Should you wish to know more about Dramock, go to my website, Dragonhaven, and access the dragon page.

Spring has been loitering around Berkeley for several months causing trees to flower, bulbs to sprout, and leaves to take on every shade of green. Today, however, is the first day I have ventured outdoors without sweater or windbreaker.

Monday, April 9, 2007

We had a nice visit with Myrtle a week ago when she was in Berkeley for an archeological conference. Here is a picture of Myrtle showing her grandfather a good way to access certain files. She is working on my laptop, and that is my personal mess-of-a-desk in the background. (Why am I usually trying to do a dozen things at once with papers relating to each project accumulating in an unorganized pile?

Byron was with us the last two days (Easter), which we celebrated here. Sterling, Joni and Roxanne came up from San Jose for easter dinner.