Saturday, October 30

I knew Tea Baggers sucked

I hate coffee.

(AHHHH! You thought I was going to say something else, didn't you?)

I'm a tea girl in a world of coffee lovers. Don't get me wrong, it's not a problem, it's just a fact of life. I also don't like alcohol... ok, I maybe indulge about once a year. I like Diet Coke but I know it's terrible for me. In the end, I like water, lemonade and tea and that's about it.

For my birthday a colleague gave me a tin of tea. This was no ordinary tin of tea. This was a beautiful fabric covered tin with balls of tea that bloom in my tea pot. I made some the other night after work and it rocked my world. I've come to realize that I've never really had quality tea before. It was so softly fragrant that it didn't even need any kind of sweetner. It's just delicious on it's own. To top it all off, the bloom was gorgeous! I was so impressed with it that I went to the tea shop she bought the tea at. It's called Teavana and I highly recommend a visit. The staff is incredibly nice and helpful not to mention very enthusiastic about tea. There are dozens of varieties of loose teas to choose from. I happen to be very sensitive to caffeine so I stayed with the white and herbal teas. I bought a glass tea pot... the better to see my blossoming tea with. I also picked up the following:

Lemon Youkou
Wild Orange Blossom
Tranquil Dream

Then, for the health benefits, I picked up the Silver Yin Zhen Pearls White Tea. I've tried white tea in the past and have seriously disliked it. This white tea was spendy but, when added to herbals, has a mild flavor but adds loads of antioxidants which folks insist are really good for us. Sold!

The tea my friend got for me is called Strawberry Misaki Blooming Tea. Man is it good. I asked about the Monkey Picked Oolong variety (well, wouldn't you?). I asked if it was, God forbid, literal. They explained that it is not picked by monkeys but in the past monks did sometimes train monkeys to pick tea leaves for them. I'm not a fan of oolong so the idea of a monkey picking it just doesn't work for me, even if it is in name only.

I'm sipping a mix of the orange and Silver Yin Zhen teas and I love it. I feel as though I've never had tea in my life. I'm afraid I'm pretty mad at Lipton right about now. All of those years of bitter harsh teas. DAMN YOU LIPTON! I had no idea what I was missing out on. I don't like bold flavors. I don't like my food over dressed (think salads). I like enjoy flavor but I don't like to be hammered over the head with it. Coffee is too bold, water is, obviously, too boring but this tea is just right. I'm so happy to stopped by the "tea shop". I'll definitely be back for more.

Saturday, October 23

Who knew?!

Turns out my Dad was a much bigger deal than I'd ever realized. I knew he was a good bird watcher and smart and a consultant and all but... I had no idea. It seems he was a major league birder. I just knew him as Daddy. He never boasted about all he was doing. He just did what he did because he loved it and it mattered to him. It took him away from home a lot but when you're raised with it, and your Mom doesn't mind Dad traveling for his "hobby", it doesn't seem unusual.

Turns out Dad kept some impressive company too. I was packing up some of his books and realized that half of them are written by Dad's friends. I can't part with them because they are all signed with wonderful inscriptions. I knew Dad was loved and admired but, again, I had no idea how much. The friends I affectionately call the Nerdy-Birders are all incredibly well respected and accomplished doctors, biologists and authors. Who knew? I just thought they really liked road trips and chasing birds around the state.

At first I was a little upset by my level cluelessness. How could I not even know my own Dad? I quickly realized that I only knew him as a good Dad because that's all he ever wanted me to know him as. I wouldn't even know now how influential he was except that while going through his things I'm finding thank you notes and publications that say some extraordinary things about him. There are incredible artists, authors and biologists out there because they met Dad at an impressionable age, liked what Dad had to say and do about birds and the environment, and their life paths took a turn for better. It's such a nice discovery. I've told friends that it's sort of like being one of those kids who hung out in her Dad's jazz bar and never knew her Dad and Uncles Dizzy, Louis and Miles were a big deal.

Today, it happened again. One of Dad's oldest and dearest friends, Bill, came down from San Francisco with his wife to visit Mom. We all went out to dinner and I started asking Bill about his yoyo hobby. I knew Bill had traveled some as a sort of ambassador for the sport of yoyoing but that was about all. Well, Dad once mentioned that Bill was a Yoyo World Champion but I just knew him as a super nice guy from my childhood. I didn't really recall the champion title but it all came back as Bill started talking about the traveling he'd done. Even then, Bill was just like Dad, he wasn't boastful, he just spoke about how great these kids are today and how much he enjoys judging them in competition. After dinner he did a yoyo demo for us. My brother's kids were in awe. Bill was amazing! It was dark out and hard for him to see what he was doing but people still stopped to watch him. The only story I remember hearing about Bill and his yoyoing was that he used to practice outside during his lunch break at work in San Francisco. People regularly stopped to watch Bill practice and would drop money in front of him thinking he was a street artist.

When I got home from dinner I Googled Bill. I learned that he is a Grand Master who is called a "living legend" and "The Yoda of yoyo". Who knew?! I sure didn't. I guess the moral of the story is to pay more attention to all of these people in my life who are really good at their "hobbies".

Sunday, October 17


As previously mentioned, it's like Land of the Lost in the backyard these days. I've been trying to plant a little kitchen garden but the critters have been treating it like a buffet so I gave up. A few weeks ago new holes began appearing in the garden so I called in the big guns. I called my friend KAW's dad who is a professional in the field of pest control. I wasn't sure what type of animal was digging the holes. KAW's dad confirmed that they were from the non-native ground squirrels around these parts. I say non-native because there is an important distinction between them and the native squirrel population. The non-natives have driven the native population out of the yard. They wreak havoc wherever they go and propagate quickly. When they tire of the yard and it gets cold they will often move into attics. Our little bastards were beginning to dig holes in our hill and that could quickly become problematic. KAW's dad left some bait boxes to help. They ensure pets, kids and birds don't get hold of what's inside. Let's just say that the plague carrying bastards will be leaving our yard with one helluva tummy ache and wont be returning.

This is what we found after the first night with the bait boxes out:

Some animal went on a rampage out there! I figure it was too large to get in the box considering the fit he threw! Here is a view of the box at ground level. You can see why a curious plague carrier would want to scamper in there to find what smells so good. It's just big enough for our squirrels and any rat that might wander by (I just KNOW they're out there too) and that's fine with me.

Speaking of rampages. Check out what Mom did to the rosemary bush. She thought it had gotten too big and went crazy on it. You can see what's left of it in the upper left side of the photo. There is still plenty for cooking. If anyone wants some rosemary, come on by!

That sad looking patch of the yard behind the trash can is our next garden project. We are going to plant some flowers out there since vegetables are currently out of the question.

In the mean time, mushrooms have started popping up all over the lawn. I took a couple of pictures before picking them up.

Because all kinds of critters are active around here at night, I set up Dad's Critter Cam. I'll post whatever it takes pictures of. Of course, I don't have the USB cord it needs but I'll get one soon.

This could get interesting. I'm just sorry it doesn't shoot poison arrows.

Sunday, October 10

Before & After

I've got a couple of before and after projects to share today. The first was a quick one, the second a bigger deal but so worth it.

Remember this from about a month ago?

I still don't know why Dad left the retro pink scalloped concrete border when everything else around here is either stone or brick. There is absolutely no way he liked it. I guess he just never got around to replacing it. Today I pulled it out and replaced it with stones he had lying around. What do you think?

Then there is the long overdue pool bathroom re-do. (It actually happened a while ago but I don't think I ever posted pix).

Back when Dad did all of the stone walls he used acid to scrub and clean the the mortar from the stones. The only problem was what to do with leftover acid? Well, Dad left a gallon of it in our bathroom out by the pool and forgot about it. All was fine until we realized that every metal surface in the bathroom was rapidly corroding. It was bad. Then my niece and nephew came along and wanted to swim all summer. That was fine but tracking pool water in the house was a drag. We certainly couldn't send them in to the acid bath(room). Finally, Mom and Dad decided to fix it up. Here a few before and after shots:

There was a mirror hanging over the sink but the wire it hung from disintegrated and it fell to pieces on the ground. Check it out now:

So, how does such a remarkable improvement happen? Well, in Mom and Dad's case, they went down to Home Depot, picked up the cheapest tile, paint, fixtures and toilet they could find then found a handyman to do all the work. Now we have a bathroom the kids can use without risking life and limb. Yay!

Sunday, October 3


Mom and I visited some wonderful old friends in Coronado this past weekend. We toured Coronado, and even the Naval Base, and really enjoyed our little getaway. While getting ready to grab one last meal with our friends before heading home, I got a call from a dear old college friend of mine.

I met my friend Jan while getting my BA in Journalism. Jan remains one the most gifted Editors I've ever known. Jan worked at a successful upstart, cashed in her stock options and went to Spain to teach English as a second language. We have kept in touch over the years but don't get to see or even speak to each other much. Jan's mother, Emily, died a year ago next week. I always knew Emily as a wonderful woman who was so full of life. She taught yoga for a time and had a great outlook on life. She had been ill for a long time and finally succumbed to a cruel, painful, degenerative disease.

I was so thrilled to finally hear Jan's voice this morning. I've thought of her so much this last year. Then, when Daddy died, I wrote on email explaining what had happened. This morning we were finally able to speak for a while and the ease of our conversation reminded me why we are still such easy friends after all these years. Jan opened up and told me a bit about the last days of Emily's life. Near the end, Emily was in a lot of pain and was delirious. She was thrashing about and repeating "Done with life. Done with life." This was so very difficult for Jan and her sister as they sat trying to comfort Emily. Emily continued to repeat "Done with life, Done with life." Suddenly, Emily shifted and started repeating "On with life. On with life. Jan, where ever you are, on with life." Man, that got to me. I have often thought how Dad would say those very words to me if given the chance. I know with absolute certainty he would expect me to go on and have a wonderful life without him. I really loved Emily and hearing about her pain hurt me and hearing those words really got to me. Jan went on to tell me that those words have really changed things for her. Whenever she wants to just sleep in or stay at home she thinks of Emily's words and gets out. She says it's really given her a new perspective on life and helped her move forward.

Soon after Dad's death a friend told me to "be aware and look for signs" of Dad. He believes that our loved ones leave signs of comfort for us after they are gone but we have to look for them. I don't know if I believe that but I sure do love the idea.

I've been thinking of Emily's words and think I should probably take them to heart too. Then, out of the blue, I realized the acronym for "On With Life" is OWL. Then I freaked out. Anyone who knew Dad knows that he literally died protecting owls. Owls were a particular favorite of his. Our home is filled with pictures, sculptures and figures of owls. People worry that I now hate owls. I don't hate owls. I have told many friends "I can't hate what Daddy loved." The owls all over the house now stare at me, wide eyed, and remind me to continue "On with life, Lucy. On with life."

I'll never look at an owl the same way again.