Toad in the Hole January 2006 Archives

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January 31, 2006

Bird-Related Weekend

Saturday we took an armload of munchies to a fundraiser for Keep Barn Owls in Berkeley. (Sometimes the site's a bit wobbly; try again later if it won't load.) Joe appears to be a founding member. Lisa Owens-Viani, who we work with now and then, is another.

The deal is: Berkeley has a population of barn owls, some of whom we've met, and it's a good idea to have them in town as we also have lots of rats and mice. If people keep cutting down the trees they live in and putting out rat poison, we won't have them long. So.

This meet featured a live barn owl from a Marin County rescue joint -- most impressive -- and later a live burrowing owl; they're also in trouble. Boy, you want to get looked at, be in a room with an owl or two. Oh, and we also got a bottle each of Reilly's Barn Owl beer, with the label Joe designed. If you also want to feel like hot shit, know a home brewer. Nice batch, Reilly.

Sunday we ran up to Mare Island for the annual Flyway Fest. We had a great time there a couple years ago, when we signed up for a tour of Skagg's Island, which is usually off-limits to the public and is quite hawky; I think we had half a dozen species including a peregrine roosting in a tree -- and also looking back at us. This year we didn't have time to reserve for any tours, but we met our friends Dick and Mona and we all did the self-guided marsh march together. Best thing was multiple harriers scattered around hunting, and a white-tailed kite, and a sort of token argument between them. Nice grouping of ducks in the water, too -- scaup, canvasbacks, redheads, shovelers; plus coots, p-b and eared? grebes; overhead, flocks of willets and dowitchers and godwits and one avocet. And chorus frogs in the water! Must be fresher than I'd thought.

Also we cruised the vendors and orgs inside the fest, as usual; there's always something to connect to. And I got a pair of moonbat earriings. Top that!

Posted at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2006

Annals of Human Stupidity, Chapter Lazy-8

This little item has bestirred the Toad from her annual deep-winter torpor just to note its existence as a cultural marker. NB that pyrethrin/um/oids can be a potent allergen... yer average allergen is totally natural, after all, and this set has been pretty widely reported.

Thanks and a hat tip to homie PSoTD for the link.

Posted at 05:05 PM | Comments (4)

January 10, 2006

Stress Hierarchies

So I've been discussing the classic sources of stress with our friend Emma. Emma is bunching 'em just now: She just changed jobs; she's moving (to Vacaville! The new job's in Fairfield.) (from an apartment landlorded by Bali Reddy Lakireddi, or Lakireddy Bali Reddy,, in both configurations); in the process, she's given away all her fish and aquaria (but not her herps) (and not to us). Her mother died late last year; her father had died within the last two years. So she's stressin'.

She likes the job so far, though. Her last one wasn't exactly a hard act to follow.

We just installed OS X (Tiger) on the laptop. We weren't exactly eager to mess with all that stuff -- computer upgrades generally fall under the heading of Schlimmbesserung -- bad "improvements" -- anyway, and all these cute new kittycat things from Apple are getting to sound like Michael Jackson's just-one-more-nose-job, really. But we finally hit the wall, where we need OS X to make something essential work with the computer. We're both still alive and neither of us is vomiting blood or sagging on one side or even filing divorce papers, so.

It's spang in the middle of my own traditional late-winter funk, which doesn't help. Clinical-grade funks do have an effect on one's cognitive faculties. (I had to ask Joe to help me find the word "cognitive," e.g.) There have been a few other potholes lately, including the braces (frighteningly expensive, ugly, which I don't need any more of, an interference with one of my chief remaining pleasures, and physically annoying when they're not painful) and some stuff I don't blog about, which is actually a bigger deal day-to-day. Instead, I bitch about the braces.

Oh, and things don't look so good over at Terrain either, and it's chipping flakes off my heart even though I ran away screaming. I actually do like the current staff and hate to see them getting bled dry, and besides I'm still fond of the old rag -- we did stuff no one else did. Like the man said.

So the point is that one of the many surprises about getting old is that there's such a thing as a trivial cancer. It's definitely not trivial that the dermatologist poked my nose with needles and sliced off the apparent colorless mole (which at least was numb) and left me to finish my Yule shopping with a ridiculous gauze dressing on my nose. But the biopsy (which conveniently required the whole bump, good riddance) showed a basal call carcinoma, which despite the scary name is not such a big deal. "Here's a specialist. You should get it taken care of, oh, before Easter."


So yeah, I will, and yeah, it's true that the C-word sets up great frazzles of static in one's brain for a few days, and yeah, in contrast to the other stuff biting my ass recently, well, it's trivial.

My right big toenail's falling off -- no medical connection with the rest of that -- and that's probably going to be a bigger annoyance, depending on what shoes I want to wear. I have two pairs that aren't absolutely flat (one-inch heel or less, both of them) and that might be a dealbreaker for a few months. Eh. Getting old really is the death of a thousand cuts, though. After a while they all get to feeling the same.

Posted at 11:30 PM | Comments (12)

January 08, 2006

Aloha Sunday the Templebar, and not a moment too soon. Joe made reservations two weeks ago. We knew we'd need a dose of Aloha.

It's been a hectic week -- including the rare write-this-fast-and-we'll-pay assignment -- but I couldn't leave this unmentioned, with a hat tip to Miranda Writes, Ali, and the whole ARC gang:

MMmmm, Large God Lollipop!

late addition:
The band that shows up sometimes at Aloha Sunday, Eono Kane, was good as always, and (as not always) in full forse, all six of 'em. We bought their CD. Better than a Prozac-Valium coctail. Better even than a Mai Tai. The kahlua pig was particularly good this Sunday, too.

And we got to witness another cultural first when they opened the mike. Sung solo to ukulele accompaniment: Havah Nagila. Yes there was a sing-along.

Posted at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2006

First Bird

The first bird of the year for both of us was a junco -- I scared one off the feeder on the back porch when I looked out to see if it was actually raining. Hey, at least it wasn't a house sparrow.

As it wasn't raining, we went to Arrowhead Marsh for the high tide. We did this last year too -- same routine: heavy rains, superhigh tides (as always between Xmas and New Year's), therefore rails popping up to be seen. There were reports of double-digits of clapper rails and soras, some Virginia rails, and a merlin yesterday.

So we plunged through the huge puddle-pond at the parking lot entrance -- we did it last year, so I more or less knew how deep it was -- and got the brakes wet again, but that's just noise if you know how to treat it. And there were indeed rails popping up, and we could even see them despite enough wind to make everything shaky. (Note to self: put a toque in the parka pocket. Keeps the short hairs out of the eyes.) We even managed to set the scope up on the new tripod -- being careful to keep a hand on it at all times. Yes it was a bit windy. Made me stagger a few times.

Clapper rails right underfoot, swimming, bobbing about on floating debris, and walking along the shore and right up on the boardwalk. They really do generally think they're invisible. Soras, ditto, especially under the boardwalk, where a lot of the rails were hiding. A few Virginia rails, and this year we actually got a decent look at one or two. A merlin zipping low over the water, trying to perch on debris and some little wooden structure in the water, but not for long -- the wind was so stiff that evidently it was easier to fly into it than to try to hang onto a perch. Kind of tawny underparts; I'll have to look up which race it was.

All the geese were Canadas, all honkers this time. (We had a couple of white-fronts and cacklers last year.) A few ducks, gulls, cormorants, terns, savanna sparrows, song sparrows, yellowthroats, marsh wrens. Everybody clearly a bit discomfited by the flooding of the usual hide-outs.

And one real tantalizer. Other birders were tantalized too. Under the boardwalk, smaller than the sora next to it, not black but just a bit brown-motley, short bill, a bit dumpy-looking, I thought. Not a good look, dammit, and then after a minute or two it disappeared. Arrgh. If it was a yellow rail, it was a lifer. But I'm not happy with it.

There was one reported there last year at the New Year's tide.

Cripes, I guess we'll have to go to North Dakota now for a better look --- maybe.

Posted at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)