Instagram


23
Apr 24

A most usual hodgepodge of wonderful things

It’s going to turn cool again. Cold, actually. We’re going to have nights where we dip down near to freeze warnings. This makes sense for the last week of April.

If spring is going to be short, summer better be long. And since we’re custom-ordering things, it’d be OK if summer was two percent milder than last year. Or without the two or three weeks of extremely July July we had last summer.

It was perfectly timed. Post-move last summer, while we were still trying to get settled, it was weeks before I could do a few chores without looking like a full workout was underway. In those first days it seemed like it took forever to cool anything. The fridge, me, anything. Turns out it was just the summer.

Which seems like a silly thing to complain about when it’s going to be 39 tonight and even colder in the evenings to come.

So in come the plants. Again.

For the third time.

I was out back looking for little bits of things that belong to the greenhouse — there’s always something to look for around here. Always something new to learn. Always some reason to wonder why things are the way they are. Always a puzzle to tease out.

So there I was, hands and knees, peering through some shadows, looking for small parts and found this.

That’s from a neighbor’s tree. I wonder how long it’s been sitting down there, caught between the greenhouse and the fence. All those intricate veins look like a suburban map, doesn’t it? It’s rather beautiful, but I wonder how and why a leaf withers away like that.

Nature on it’s own schedule.

I went for a 30-mile bike ride today. There was nothing remarkable about it, there was a tailwind, and then there was a headwind and then there was a pasture.

That’s right on the outskirts of a town, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense, really. It’s a nice town, but they don’t seem the sort to allow fun things like livestock. Nevertheless, there they are, eating and drinking and being raised.

Sometimes when you go through there the sheep aren’t in that lot, but the dogs that work them are. Today, no dogs, just sheep.

Let’s go back to California! There are many sights to behold, and we’ve been enjoy some of the critters we met at the Monterey Aquarium, like this on.

The mauve stinger (Pelagia noctiluca) is a beautiful nocturnal hunter. They aren’t the best of swimmers, but they seem to be spread easily by winds and currents, and so they are fairly ubiquitous. Odds are, if you’ve ever had a stinging encounter with a jelly, it just might be one of these guys, or a closely related cousin.

 

They go very deep until nightfall, which is when they move up to shallow waters to chase down plankton. The tentacles and bumps on the jelly will leave its prey with a powerful sting.

I’m still way behind in the Re-Listening Project, meaning I’m right on schedule. The Re-Listening project is the one where I’m listening to all of my old CDs in the car, in the order in which I acquired them. Then I write about them here to pad out some posts. These aren’t reviews, usually they are just memories, but mostly excuses to post some music.

In 2004 I bought 1999’s P.S. (A Toad Retrospective). It’s a greatest hits record from Toad the Wet Sprocket. At the time, 1999, Toad was broken up, so this was just a label cashing in and fulfilling a contract, I’m sure.

Here’s the memory. I have the hardest time keeping the Toad chronology straight. If you asked me without the benefit of liner notes or Wikipedia, I would swear that two or three of the same songs could be found on each subsequent record. I don’t know why I can’t keep this straight. It’s a problem unique to Toad the Wet Sprocket for me. Maybe it’s because of their radio and MTV airplay. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get any of their records for way too long. But, anyway, it’s a greatest hits record, so they’re all there.

So here’s one of the previously unreleased tracks.

And here’s the other new track.

Each of these songs have some internal-band-dynamics backstory to them, but they’re a quarter century old and don’t matter much to us. What matters is that they’re a band again.

And so here’s the other memory. In 2022, after 30 actual years, including a two-year Covid postponement, I finally got to see Toad the Wet Sprocket play live. (Twice!)

They still sound great, which was a good enough reason to see them twice that year. And they are on tour this summer, too. Maybe I should see them again.


16
Apr 24

Cats and bikes and jellies

No matter the day of the week — and it should belong on Monday, but there was already a lot of material here on Monday — the weekly check with the cats is the most popular regular feature on the site. So we, the cats and I, are always pleased to bring you what you want most.

Phoebe will spend part of any afternoon in a shopping bag if you let her. That is, of course, between pets and chasing the birds just outside her windows and looking for milk.

And also her naps. This is a late afternoon nap. And I’d like you to study that face. No one relaxes more intently than this cat.

Poseidon has lately discovered the watering can. The plants on the front porch were thirsty for a few extra seconds while this took place. First, I filled the can. Something about the process got Poe’s attention. Ever helpful, he jumped up to peer into the sink and, then, into the can.

I think he could hear the water moving around in there, and so he decided to investigate, first with a look and a sniff, and then, as you see here, with his paw.

He swished it around, and realized he had water on his paw. He, being named after the god of water, put his paw back in the water, swirled it around, pulled his paw back out and then licked the water off. He did this two or three more times, like he doesn’t have multiple water bowls conveniently located around the house.

Had a nice little bike ride this evening. The weather was pleasant and the company was better. We did about 15 miles together, and then my lovely bride took a left turn into the neighborhood and I did the first big triangle shape of the year.

Just before the golden hour.

Which quickly turned into the golden hour.

You know how trees will line a road? Sometimes these are called woods, but sometimes, it’s just one thin little row of trees between the road the field behind them? Sometimes, when you’re dealing with that thin little row, a gap will appear. And, sometimes, you can see that coming up. Those narrow little spots where the tree gives way to the crops or the pasture or the yard behind them are all about timing. Even at cycling speed, I have to reach in my pocket, open the camera app and try to frame this shot before I glide by.

Sometimes you get lucky with those.

I picked these things up in those last 10 miles. If you know anyone missing these items, send them my way.

And if you don’t know anyone missing those items, send someone else my way. I just want to get this stuff off the shoulder of the roads.

Back to last month’s trip to California, here’s one more view of the purple-striped jellyfish. They are highly localized to the central California coast. They can sting you, and it would hurt, so you’d be better off staying away, though human interactions with them are rare.

The bell on these can grow to about three feet. In the wild, those frilly arms can be twice as long as a human, or more.

 

That’s the last of the purple-striped jellies, but not the last jellyfish. We’ll see several more beautiful specimens in the next few days. You’ll love them, of course.


13
Feb 24

An officially unofficial day

We generally observe today as the anniversary of us being a couple.

It was a friend group, you see. There were about six of us who were all in the same grad school cohort and within the group there were the two of us palling around all the time. Nineteen years ago we were at a small dinner party and playing board games. The next day we were hanging out again and somewhere in there realized that people thought of us as an us. People, in our group and in the larger cohort and some of our professors too, thought of us as a couple within the group. Where there was the one there was the other. So we celebrate today.

Tonight we marked the occasion with a late dinner at an empty local little restaurant. I also commemorated the evening by teaching myself to hand-fold envelopes, in which I put two little love notes.

Last month, of course, we were celebrating under water. It’s amazing how much material I can get out of a few days worth of dives, no? You should see how many of my dive buddy I’ve not included

And I’ve only added a few of my lovely dive buddy’s photos to the collection. Here’s one now, and that’s me in the middle distance!

I love that wide composition. Like it’s just you in the water, all by yourself. It’s a nice feeling, especially since you’re not. There’s a handful of people not too far away, but you spread out, juuuuust enough.

Here’s some young yellow tube sponge growing on this coral covered outcropping.

And I got lucky floating directly over this nice bowl sponge.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you something else I was lucky to see: a giant turtle.

Last night I had class where we talked about the Super Bowl, and the Huxleyan dystopia. The readings and the schedule lines up perfectly. Also I had the chance to make fun of myself and one of the students absolutely nailed the punchline. I should have dismissed class right there. It was perfect.

One element of some of the readings in this particular class is to help create a healthy skepticism of the media around them. So we also talked about Edward Bernays. And then, as a palette cleanser, I offered them astornaut and author, Ron Garan.

On the way out I saw this on a bulletin board.

Imagine that! They’re publicizing their scholars’ work to the student body. Novel concept! I’ll be sure to attend some of those.

Tomorrow, a giant turtle, and more from under the sea. I’ll put some flowers here and we’ll see one of the oldest courthouses in the land. Be sure you’re here for it all!


20
Sep 22

And, most importantly, no one got hurt

Saw this car this morning. I believe it is as MG TD. I don’t know, but a cursory examination of the interwebz leads me to believe this may be a circa 1953 MG T-type.

I drove in this morning, parked near this car and figured I’d never see it again. But it was there when I left this evening, because I left earlier than I’d anticipated.

At a glance, you can tell that the owner is proud of this vehicle and, I assume, is happy to have people notice it. I wonder how often it sees the road. Perfect weather day for it today, but you surely pick your spots with a classic, right?

The MG people produced 30,000 TDs over three or four years in the UK. Some 23,000 of them were shipped to the US. You can buy one today ranging from $17,000 to $32,000.

And, yes, if you have a MG, you get an MG hat and you wear the MG hat.

But why did I leave earlier than I’d anticipated today? Excellent question.

After they closed the building for the day I worked elsewhere. And I got to go home at the regular time, rather than after watching the news — which they did outdoors this evening, which was impressive.

So we went to the lake, and floated on tubes into the early evening.

Fine way to spend a Tuesday.


12
Jul 22

Two points

I photo my thumb accidentally took while idly fiddling with my phone and watching the news and waiting for The Next Thing of the Day.

Two points if you can figure that out. I know what it is, but I’ll be impressed if anyone here can take two points off of my hands.

The Next Thing of the Day proved easy and uneventful. Started on time, ended on time, everything in the middle was assuredly a smash hit. A Tuesday to be remembered! If you could make the normal Tuesday stand out somehow or another.

Two points if you can figure that out, too.

In my idle chatter I mentioned I had a tube going on my bike. I took it off and found just the tiniest little hole seeping air. I was tempted to slap some super glue on it and experiment, but, in another sign of my own maturity and wisdom, decided this was not a profitable experiment.

You can wrap a tube in a dollar bill to finish a ride in a pinch. (Two points if you get it right on the first try!) But I was already at the house, and not in that pinch. If you’re lucky, though, the currency can hold up for weeks. I can also buy another inner tube and just be done with it. We have a small stack for just such an occasion. I went to the room where we keep stacks of things and found that we have one spare inner tube.

This does not a stack make.

Opened the little box, pulled out the tube, prepared it for installation and …

So I had to put my spare on my back wheel. The spare is the one you carry with you, not the one from the room where we keep stacks of things. That means I don’t have a spare to carry on the bike. So tomorrow’s ride will feature a new back tire, and one with a tiny pinhole on the wall. I should throw a dollar bill in there, too. Juuuust in case.

I always carry a few bucks on the bike. (Two points to me for being prepared.) You never know when a ride goes farther, or takes longer, and you want to stop at a store for water or extra fuel. And, also, for emergency tire patching.

One last point. They’re in the Alps in the Tour.

Click through that mini-thread and you get four little photos that the world feed used as cutaway shots.

The Alps get more intriguing all of the time.