Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Frosty Morn

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Same strawberry, one day later

Some critters didn't make it

The 2-inch edge of a 2x4 (above)

Jack Frost did some fancy footwork on the glass-top table that resides on the deck. The ice is actually white but the reflection of the sky turned it blue when translated through my camera.

And of course my little dog Jack wants to play ball no matter what the temperature.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Winter Strawberry

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It's 40 degrees outside, feels like 32, and this morning I come across a strawberry. Good grief!

Monday, November 27, 2006


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It began as a downpour of rain, pounding the roof, the trees, the tarp outside spread above our grill. Then suddenly it changed to hail, the tiny round beads pounding down, sliding off the tarp, making a blue-white pile on the grass.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Orb Weavers

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Notably absent from my autumn garden this year, I usually run into (literally) the webs of these guys strung across pathways where I walk, causing no small amount of sudden surprise quickly followed by, "Is it ON me"!? "WHERE"?
This is one of a mere handful that I've seen since September and seems oddly out of place traversing the cement pad in front of the shop building - a long trek for an arachnid.
Much as I dislike walking into their webs, I do hope they will return next year, in the great numbers they once were, thereby quelling, however briefly, my fears that they too may be succumbing to the effects of global warming.
Click on photos to enlarge. The details are spectacular.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hangin' In There

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Caught out in the mist, heavy with dew, the intrepid caterpillar hangs on, and hangs on, and ...


It took a little rest, uncurled itself and, not able to shake itself like a dog, crawled off to climb, climb again.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Red Sky At Night . . .

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. . . Sailors' delight. But there was a red sky the following morning (Sailor take warning) and it's been rainy ever since. It's hard cleaning up soggy plant clippings in the rain.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Early Azalea

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The first pink azalea bloom of the season. These blossoms usually don't appear until December, but this is hardly what I would call a normal year. It's been rainy and warm, in the 60s. Global Warming? I think so.

Monday, November 20, 2006

An Unseasonal Snake

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A common site in my summer garden, I was surprised to see this adult snake out in plain daylight today. After the rains begin (and they have, believe me), these guys usually hide out until the following spring. Maybe the rains caught him or her unawares like they did me this year. After doing my camera magic, I gently shooed said snake under a log. These snakes have never bothered us. They seem very docile and mostly just want to get away. I've tentatively identified them as Garter snakes, but none of the photos I've found on line really match them. If anyone knows more than I do about these critters, I'd love to hear from you.


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I've been outside cleaning up for the arrival of Thanksgiving guests, raking leaves, hauling plant clippings to the burn pile and occasionally turning over a log or large flower pot. These two were under just such a pot; the first salamanders I've seen this year. Salamanders are prevalent on the north coast of California. Judging from the photos on this web site, the ones I found are called Ensatina. I also come across the Pacific Giant Salamander and a really tiny one called a California Slender. Obviously I find them enchanting. After subjecting them, gently, to the indignities of being photographed, I safely returned them to the underside of the flower pot.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Next Spring's Demolition Team

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They looked kind of pretty all clumped together, nesting in the earth and decaying leaves under a log. So much so that I couldn't smash them even though they will turn into slugs sometime over the winter and invade my garden in the spring. I'll leave them be for just a while longer.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nature's Way

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Nature has a way of arranging her "things" so artistically. Don't you agree?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

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For several days now, this tiny bird* has been camped just outside my office window, safe amid the tangle of vines and roses. It flits up and down the glass looking either to get in, silly bird, or to catch bugs. Whichever it's doing, it hardly ever holds still enough for me to get a photo. I felt lucky to get these. Poised to have another go at the window, it looks a bit angry, doesn't it? Compare it to the size of the rose leaves and you'll get an idea of just how small it is. These photos were taken through the glass which is another reason for their fuzziness, the first being that the bird (see note below) was in constant motion.

11/13/06, Author's note: This post, previously entitled "Wren", found me in error in identifying this bird. It's a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, probably a female. Click here to read more about one of the smallest birds in North America. In the meantime, I'll try to get a better photo.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Joseph's Coat In Autumn

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The sun graced us by peeping out from behind a cloud today, gently shining on this Joseph's Coat Rose which is valiantly trying to open in the cold and the rain.

Nov. 12th: To answer Paz's question, has the rose opened yet, here is a photo taken two days later than the first. It's trying!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


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Our yard is a treasure trove of small fauna. We leave boards, stumps and other pieces of wood laying in places away from traffic patterns, undisturbed, to provide a habitat for these critters. After a good rain is a great time to go exploring to see what has crawled under a log to hang out. Today, turning over a board, I found several of these millipedes clinging to the underside. They all got away before I could take a good photo. Then I spied this creature on the ground where the board had been laying. Click on photo to enlarge.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Fall Colors Of Home

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I am determined to put up some of the photos that I took while we were in New England this fall. And I am slowly working away on them so I can share them with you. Any of you reading this who are bloggers know only too well the immediacy of blogging and that yesterday can recede into the far, far past before you know it. In the meantime, here are a few snaps taken yesterday and this morning in my yard.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Arms And Legs: A Tumble Of Spiders

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A nest of spiders in a tumble of arms and legs creating an almost hair-like illusion is on the porch eaves. I disovered it today and now I'm very aware of it as I walk in and out of the house. Did you know that if you blow on them or disturb them in any way they will bounce up and down on those long legs. It's supposed to make them look ferocious. It's quite fascinating and rather eerie looking. If you're not taking care, they can quite suddenly drop down on top of you. So it's best not to stand directly under them...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Raindrops On Asters

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Bam! The rains blew in yesterday with flashes of lightning and booming of thunder then proceeded to dump buckets on us. Buckets, I tell you. It's still raining today and doesn't look to be stopping anytime soon. I wasn't ready for this.

Neither were the asters which looked so pretty with just a few sprinkles on them and now are flattened to the muddy ground. In general I welcome the rainy season; but all at once? C'mon.

Still, it's a warm rain.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bird Food

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This is Pyracantha, a noxious weed here on the north coast, so I really shouldn't be letting it grow. Off and on I've had plans to erradicate it. It does feed the birds though, especially the robins and Cedar Waxwings. How can I deny them? Once thought to be poisonous to humans, pyracantha is now being made into jelly. Now how bad can that be?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Round Sassy Red Hips

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Late fall means juicy, red hips showing off between the green leaves of my rugosa roses. I never remember to get out and pick them in any great quantity before the birds get to them, so I just do what the birds do; pluck one off a bush and nibble on it.