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Monday, December 22, 2014

Days of Comets and Bobcats

The very-nearly-a-miracle of the double Rainbow
Have practically been living in Watsonville for since mid-November. I am in the hills, below which berry farms and apple orchards dwell. I am here because my buddy Barbara had back surgery and I am her nurse, bandage changer, and dog care professional. Miraculously, we find ourselves co-existed for longer than any time since we were housemates back in the '70s, when hippies ruled the earth.

Now, add to the above, Barbara's son Eric, his girlfriend Alicia & Alicia's twee daughter have also been in temporary residence since Thanksgiving week. Miraculously we are all thriving in a 800 square foot, one room house like it is the 1800s and Pa is out plowing the back forty. Barbara sleeps on her modern & newfangled Murphy bed, I sleep on a comfy, cushioned massage table that imagines itself a twin bed, and the rest of the gang sleep on pillows and comforters on the floor.

Oh, and I must point out during Thanksgiving week, we had no toilet. On the bright side, Eric's girlfriend Alicia became my night time 'Pee-Buddy' as we trekked together on star lit nights, into the wilderness, learning anew to acquaint ourselves with the beauty of Orion.

Oh! On our way back from a a shopping expedition for plumbing tools one night, Eric and I saw a HUMONGOUS green meteorite, crash through the atmosphere. The meteor was amazing!It gave one the feeling that some delightful deity was watching over us all, giving us a sly wink as if to say, "My stars, but you guys and your under-functioning toilet are keeping all of us up here in stitches."

*HARUMPH*. I reckon it was all fun & games for some.

The toilet, or rather, surviving the lack thereof, wasn't our only miracle. In November we had also survived 'the miracle of the torrential rains'. Post-deluge we viewed the miraculous double rainbow - the one shown at the top of the post - just outside Barb's front door.

But there was another miracle that kept me enthralled. Again, Barb's current home is on a tiny plateau, quite in the boondocks, and just opposite her house is a hillside with donkeys, cows, and the odd flock of wild turkeys or deer and a prowling bobcat. Now, if your breath didn't catch in your throat at the thought of seeing a Bobcat from a window, of the place you slept in the previous night, you are taking life too much for granted. Me? I've been as overly excited about this wild cat, as is Alicia's little daughter at cookie-time. A Bobcat - *awe & wonder*

The first time the cat showed up was a month or so ago. Barbara was tending her garden, and looking up, to see the cat peering back at her, from just a hundred feet away. They stared at each other until one grew bored and left; not sure if the bored one was Barb or the cat. Anyway, since then, the Bobcat no longer comes that close to the house, but it still roams the nearby hillside. The cat was out yesterday, but I was too slow to get a photo. Today it lurked closer, just on the opposite slope where I sat, camera at the ready.

It seems to me to be an older kitty, no spring chicken so to speak. It was pensive, standing and watching things that seemed edible in the grass. It often just sat in the shade, enjoying the scenery like the rest of us.

I wish the kitty would bring over a friend or two with it - perhaps a Mountain Lion, or am I being too ambitious or greedy?

Here's a photo taken at 100mm (other photos are at 400mm) to show how far away the sitting Bob-kitty was. It's in the photo, as ratted out by the yellow arrow.

I hope at some point to have my spotting scope and iPhone ready for some really good photos and hopefully some video of the big kitty.

Eventually the cat left and while hopefully awaiting its return, I got this lovely shot below. It is one of a pair of Lincoln's Sparrows that Barb has one of her 30 something yard-bird species. Lincoln Sparrows. For me, it's an exciting species, however often I luck out and see one. When I think of them nesting nearby in the spring I go positively giddy with happiness. 

The duller in color of Barb's two Lincoln Sparrow neighbors

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Full Karenina

Haven't posted much on theater lately, but there has been some theater going on my part. A new friend of mine, Melanie, got a part in a new production of Anna Karenina. To encourage her, last month, some friends and I got together last night to watch her toy with Tolstoy.
Now everyone knows, Anna Karenina is a total tome, which I haven't read, but I've seen the movie... you shut up! You haven't read every great novel either. Where was I? Oh, yes, I've been told Karenina's devilishly difficult to put into production because it has more characters than your comrade Russian mutt has fleas. So the production challenge is to cull characters without killing the story. This production managed that Volga boatman heavy task, getting all the right stuff on stage, and in a v. clever fashion. Example; I remember, from a recent movie production, Anna's forbidden lover rode in a fateful horse race, essential to the story line. Now really; no one expects a horse race in a stage play and neigh-ther did I. Yet, surprisingly, there was a horse race in this production. No horses, and surely no pantomime horses, yet, I swear to you, unless some audience members wore blinders, I swear, we all saw the full field of horses foaming as they raced around the track in our brains. I kid you not - talk about your clever production values. In all, it was a great little play; surprising, touching bits of emotion and yes, for me it also had that oh-so-necessary ingredient: humor.
Melanie on the Marquee

After the play we hit the Spanish restaurant, Tapa the World for some midnight dining with Melanie. She filled us in on the horrors and joys of producing such a sterling stage production. Bravo y'all. Bravo. Oh, and did I mention, Melanie was not surprisingly funny, and clever in the play. A double Bravo to Melanie!

That brings me to this yesterday. Mommy Nancy and I trekked down to her sister's house in Monterey. I haven't seen Nancy's sister Julie in ages, and it's been quite a while longer since I saw her now grown up daughter Claire, but that's another story for another day. We were delightfully HQ'd at Julies' Christmas packed home, and Saturday night we attended The Full Monty at the Golden Bough Playhouse.

Early on, both Nancy and I were only medium-enthralled with the musical. That was, until the bit where the bashful men auditioned - within the play - for roles in a male stripper act. When the character Noah tried out for a spot on the strip-team he really totally pumped up the energy levels on stage. The entire play was viagra'd (is that too rude a metaphor, she asked, as if it being so would stop her using the reference?) the production up to a b'jillion degrees of fun and happily the remainder of musical remained at that level for the rest of the night. My word, where is my desk fan? 

The Full Monty; show stopper Noah (played by uh... a nice man) is second from the left).
Oh, and least I forget, my other favorite in the show was Jeannette (played by uh... a lady), who played piano for the guy's rehearsals. She had a bag-full-of-gravel voice, and lungs full of smoke & sass, but fun ruled whenever she was on stage. I found this bit of her kickn' up her ancient stage aged heels on youTube. Yeah, she has a point; things could be better round here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Rustic Birding for Rustic Bunting

Birders before beholding Bunting birdie
Not long after I got back from my Peruvian vacation, I headed down to Watsonville. There I spent two weeks with my bud Barbara, who is recovering from recent back surgery. Meanwhile, a 'code 3' - e.g. 'holy crap!' - rarity, vagrant bird, a Rustic Bunting, settled into San Francisco. Rustic Buntings are yet another Eurasian bird that flew right when it ought to have flown left, ending up in California. Now I happened to have gone home to tend to a few things and I decided to bring Barb & her boxer dog Chori, home with me. Hey, that was easier than leaving in a helpless pile in Watsonville. So abandonging the pair in the comfort of my house, I raced off on a day trip to the Bay Area, where I met up with birder buddy Don. We headed for Golden Gate Park, where the little sparrow-like bird was holed up in the company of juncos (juncos are tiny birds, not derelicts). 

Seconds after arriving I found a parking spot across the street from Bunting land - praise the saints of parking spots. We no sooner crossed the street when the bird in question flew up out of the shrubbery, giving us a quick but memorable view. HURRAH! We high fived and congratulated ourselves for at the very least, having had our binoculars at the ready. We spent the next hour or so chatting with other birders who like us, had traveled from the four directions to see the treat of a bird. There was also a lot of explaining WTF to passersby, who wanted to know why there were so many people with binoculars, scopes and cameras loitering about the meadow.

Later we got a second longer look at the bird, as it scampered about a brush pile, giving everyone present long satisfying looks. Ugh! If only I hadn't accidentally left my camera down in Watsonville. Again, Hurrah for a lifer bird for both Don and myself .

The juvenile Rustic Bunting: Photo by Aaron Maizlich