Note to self…

Note to self:  Don’t work on sprinklers and drip irrigation when your two year old pup has a 6 month old friend over to play.  Although there was plenty of dry ground available for playing chase and wrestling the water was like a magnet and these two had quite the time.


Thought bubble over Kloe’s head:  “That was awesome!”


Thought bubble over six month old Chewie’s head:  “Are we in trouble?”

Needless to say, baths followed and the irrigation project was put on hold for a couple of days.

Ducks Like Rain!

It’s still too early to expect it.  All we can do is hope it eventually arrives.  If it doesn’t get here soon we are in deep trouble.  Especially our farmers, our ranchers, and our eco-systems.  Yes, I’m talking about rain – or lack of it – out here in “droughtville”.

“They” say El-Nino is coming.  I hope whomever they are know what they’re talking about!  I’ve never been a fan of rain but lately I find myself praying for it!  Many of my neighbors are replacing lawns with drought resistant plants, rocks, stones, and cement.  Yuck!  Suburbia is all about green lawns, lush parks, and strip malls.  Ok scratch the strip malls;  we could definitely do without any, or at least with less, strip malls. But I’m holding out one more year and, at least for now, the lawns are staying.  I’m giving the grass enough water to keep them alive but not so much as to exceed our mandatory reduction percentages.  My five minute showers in the morning have been pared down to two minutes and I’ve allocated that water to my lawn.  Well at least that’s my rationalization…

Meanwhile, we did get some rain this past week.  It wasn’t much but it was rain.  A steady drizzle.  Precipitation.  Whatever – we’ll take it.  Even with that little sprinkling the yards around the neighborhood seemed to come alive.  More importantly it surely helped the firefighters around the state battling a number of record setting wildfires.  The drought resistant plants could give a hoot but the rocks and stones sure looked pretty when they were wet!

Even our creek and pond seemed to come alive.  The water levels with even this little bit of rain seemed to rise a couple of feet.  This morning along our walk the duck’s seemed happier.  Seriously.  They were swimming and preening with newfound gusto.

There was a male in the middle of the pond quacking loudly and proudly as if to say, “Ducks like rain!”.

The duck caught Kali’s attention for several seconds and I believe I saw her smile as if to say, “Hey feathered friend – I’m happy for you”.  I smiled too.  Seeing the pond and creek looking a little bit like it’s old self made me happy.  And for a few seconds on this glorious sunny and warm morning time stopped and it was just me, Kali, and mother nature enjoying a moment.

It's nice to see the water levels higher - at least for a few days. Last week this area was totally dry with just cracked mud.

It’s nice to see the water levels higher – at least for a few days. Last week this area was totally dry with just cracked mud.

Even this stoic Blue Heron seemed happy as he surveyed the pond.

Even this stoic Blue Heron seemed happy as he surveyed the pond.

I guess Kali and I got a little too close for Mr. Heron’s comfort and he flew off to the other side of the creek.  Have a great day BH, enjoy the water and sun.

If you’ve made it this far down the page and post congratulations!  Your reward is the full lyrics of “Ducks Like Rain”.

DUCKS LIKE RAIN by Franciscus Henri

Quack quack quack quack quack
Quack quack quack quack quack
Quack quack quack quack quack
Quack! Quack! Quack!

Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks like splishing splashing in the rain.
Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks llike the rainy weather,
Water running off their feathers,
Ducks like splishing splashing in the rain.

Quack quack quack quack quack…

Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks like to widdle waddle in the rain.
Ducks like rain! Ducks like rain!
Ducks like to widdle waddle,
Water knee-deep in the puddle,
Ducks like to widdle waddle in the rain.

Quack quack quack quack quack…

The Lighted Angel Ritual

Kali was disappointed. She tried not to let on but I could see it in her eyes. “This is it?”, she seemed to say. “This is the big deal?”

In a recent post I mentioned a fall ritual that involved setting up a lighted Angel in front of our house to mark the beginning of the holidays. This year, as with most, the ritual took place the day before Thanksgiving. The ritual has been greatly streamlined over the years from strands and strands of of lights and yard decorations to a simple lighted Angel. The children are all adults now and only one still lives at home. The first year that there was an absence of lights on the house and just the angel one of my boys was home for a visit. He asked me about the lights; why weren’t they up? What about tradition? I invited him to go into the shed to dig out the box of lights and yard ornaments, get the ladders out, and get to work. He said something like, “the angel looks nice”. And that was that.

So on Wednesday Kali and I headed out to the shed to get the angel, check her lights, and get her positioned and secured in front of the house. In my romantic version of this ritual the day is cold and damp, the skies are dark with rain threatening, the shed is on the “back 40” requiring a pre-dawn start in order to finish the job by sundown, and a flask full of brandy is in my hip pocket for purposes of warmth and motivation.

The "back 40" (in my mind)

The “back 40” (in my mind)

It’s fun to romanticize about a cold and harsh fall ritual with a lighted angel but in the spirit of honesty here is what really went down this year with Kali and the lighted angel ritual.

Kali and I head to the shed to get the angel. The shed is not on the Back 40. We don’t have a Back 40. I don’t think I have ever been on a Back 40… the shed sits about 30 feet from the front yard and is easily accessed from the backyard. It’s 2:00 pm, the sky is clear and blue with no rain forecast for at least a week. The outside temperature is 74 degrees. I consider getting some brandy but opt for a beer instead. After all, it’s 74 degrees out and with the low sun feels more like 80! Kali is already suspecting that I misled her. She was really looking forward to the Back 40…

I didn't sign up for this...

I didn’t sign up for this…

OK, so Kali has the stakes and hammer and we set off to secure that angel in place. But wait, it’s 74 degrees and the rose bushes think it’s spring. We’ll need to do a little pruning first.

I didn't sign up for this either

I didn’t sign up for this either

Kali’s endurance (interest) is less than anticipated so she needs a break. She opts to take the break on the “Front 0.16”.

Union dog taking her "15 minutes"

Union dog taking her “15 minutes”

The Angel is finally secured, my beer is empty, and Kali of course proudly accepts thanks for a job well done.

I did it all by myself - where's my brandy?

I did it all by myself – where’s my brandy?

Later that night Kali invites Smokey out to see the fruits of all her hard work.

I look good under lights don't I?

I look good under lights don’t I?

Kali and Smokey chilin' in the mild evening air

Kali and Smokey chilin’ in the mild evening air

And yes Kali, this is the big deal.

Kali’s New Fall Rituals

Today Kali and I closed down the backyard. “Closing down the yard” is one of my annual rituals that marks the ending of warm weather and outside living. It’s also marks the preparation for the Holidays and winter. Yes – the harsh Northern California Winter where some days we have to actually put on a coat and wear shoes… what’s up with that?!? 🙂

Closing down the yard is a rather silly ritual and more of a mindset than a physical act. These days the activity consists of packing up patio cushions, throwing covers over the patio furniture, moving small outdoor items into the shed, performing light pruning, and swapping out the Summer BBQ for the Winter BBQ. What? Doesn’t everybody have two?… None-the-less it took Kali and I around three hours all the while taking our time to enjoy the relatively warm fall morning since we didn’t have anything else specific planned for the day.

Since my Bailey Boy died five years ago I’ve performed the ritual alone. So this year it was great to have Kali helping. As usual she supervised and I did the work. I say supervised but really Kali is a bit of a micro-manager. She’s never more than a few feet from where I’m working following me around and cracking the whip. By cracking the whip I mean watching my every move in between short naps of course and an occasional sprint and woof chasing off a squirrel or bird who may distract her worker (me) from doing a good job. Eventually she’ll stop following me around and set up a command center with a global vantage point allowing her to monitor my activities without having to get up as I move from spot to spot.

Global Command Center

Global Command Center

I’m fine with the micro-management. I like having Kali by my side. I’ve become so accustomed to it over the past six months that on the rare occasion that she’s not right there next to me it feels a bit odd and I’ll call her or go looking to see what she’s up to.

The next Fall ritual Kali and I will share is setting up the lighted angel in front of the house while listening to Kenny Loggins’ album called December. This will happen on the day before Thanksgiving. In years past this ritual involved strands and strands of Christmas lights hanging on the house and a variety of lighted lawn decorations to assemble and place around the front yard. There would be ladders, hammers and nails, trips to the hardware store to get replacement strands or bulbs, brandy, and a little swearing. When my kids were small it was important to them that the house had a full complement of lights along every eave and window. I was younger and I liked doing it. When they were away in college they’d come home for the holidays and I wanted the house lit up for them as we drove in from the airport. I liked it a little less but I still did it because it was what they remembered and wanted. But these days there’s just the lighted angel; simple, elegant, and less likely to need multiple trips to the hardware store and little cause for swearing. There will, however, still be brandy.

So this year Kali will supervise the Angel ritual just as she did the closing of the yard ritual. And there will be more after that. The setting up the Christmas tree listening to the Vince Guralidi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas album ritual, the taking down of the tree and lamenting that Summer is light years away ritual, the re-hanging of the SF Giants flag ritual, and, wait for it…… The opening of the backyard ritual.

And for all these things and a blessed life I am so very thankful that Kali will be by my side supervising my every move.

Kali:  "job well done dad"

Kali: “job well done dad”

Back Yard Buddies

My beautiful wife Holly with our Golden Kali

My beautiful wife Holly with our Golden Kali

During most of Spring and Summer I spend a lot of time in the backyard doing light yard work and relaxing.  When Bailey passed away five years ago I lost my Back Yard Buddy.  The canine “helper”  who followed me around the yard providing encouragement and periodic diversion to throw a ball or dispense some praise and love.  I love my yard and besides my wife Holly there was no one I wanted to share it with more than Bailey.  I’ve really missed that interaction over the years.

It’s so great that Kali has now stepped in and filled that role so eagerly. If I’m in the yard so is she. Like Bailey, she follows me around interested to see “whats up” eventually settling in the shade somewhere close to observe my activity.

Bailey was never a digger and was totally trustworthy in the yard and respectful (or oblivious?) to my landscaping. But, if I was working in the dirt with a shovel Bailey would get inspired and go to a spot that wasn’t landscaped and begin digging. It seemed the more effort I put into making my hole for a tree or shrub the more effort Bailey put into his own digging efforts.  On hot days during his later years he especially liked to dig himself a bed in the dirt and cool off.


Bailey in his later years cooling off after digging a spot for himself in the dirt

Bailey in his later years cooling off after digging a spot for himself in the dirt

So yesterday, while I was doing some planting, much to my surprise, Kali sauntered over and “planted” herself right next to me in the dirt. This was quite the nostalgic moment for me. It reminded me of past times hanging out with Bailey who I still miss so very much.


Kali nearby while I do some planting

Kali nearby while I do some planting

It also reminded me of how blessed we are to have Kali in our life. There is such a comfortable and calm manner about Kali. She is very respectful of the house and calmly welcomes all visitors. She’s learning not to beg and is increasingly interactive and loving with her little brother Smokey, the Maltese/Yorky mix.  She is tolerant of the various critters and birds that visit the yard. Unless Smokey enlists her help to chase them away. Smokey is just ten pounds but has some swagger and hates the squirrels. So occasionally, Kali is happy to provide her powerful 58 pounds as back up to Smokey’s ten pounds of swagger.

Ten pounds of swagger

Ten pounds of swagger