Category Archives: Neighborhood

The Condo

So we’re living in a rental condo while the remodel continues apace.  I haven’t lived in a rental since I think 1976.  My biggest problem before the move was the fact that we couldn’t look at the place until the day we got the key (it was occupied).  Once we saw it, it was and is very nice.

condo interior

Our house is 1,600 square feet and the condo is only 750, but our house is 2 stories, so this is about the size of our first floor.   It’s a good thing we don’t mind spending a lot of time together, there’s no room in a one-bedroom unit for a privacy freak.  There’s also (ahem!) only one toilet; we’re used to a spare on the other floor!  The kitchen is adequate (except that we both prefer gas stoves) but really not big enough for both of us to potter around in it at once.

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Also posted in Personal Tagged |

Oakland Shoreline Afternoon

The other weekend, a friend of mine had a birthday party at Martin Luther King Shoreline Park.  It was a nice party, but it wasn't my party, so I didn't take any photos of it.  I did take photos of the estuary and some of the birds there, including a pelican whom I caught just taking off:

Pelican taking off

The pelican continued on and I got a nice closeup of him, with the Oakland hills in the background:

An urban pelican

Most of my photos, though, were of these little guys.  There was a whole flock of them.

Long-billed dowitchers

After doing some research online, I think they're long-billed dowitchers, but I have to consult an expert before I can be sure.  As you can see, there was quite a flock.  I didn't realize how many until they decided to take off:

Shorebirds taking off

Feel free to enjoy the rest of the photos in the gallery.

Also posted in Nature Tagged |

The Neighborhood Skunk

I am not referring to an unpleasant neighbor; I like my neighbors.  The skunk I refer to is furry and black, with a vivid white stripe down his back and along his large fluffy tail.  He’s about the size of a large house cat.

I’m not sure why, but my mental image of skunks is that they’re kind of slow.  This little guy is quite agile.  I saw him Wednesday night, returning from rehearsal around 10:30 – as I came into the last block of Patton Street, he ran across the street in front of me, tail rippling, and dived into the schoolyard. Fortunately, I was never close enough to him to scare him.

Tonight at about 10:40, I realized that I’d never taken in the mail – the mailman was very late, I went out for dinner before he got here, and I must have forgotten to check when I came back in.  I opened our front door – to find a full mailbox – and the skunk was at the end of our front walk, on the sidewalk.  He was no happier to see me than I was to see him, so he turned and ran into my neighbor’s yard.  I hope nothing annoys him while he’s there.  It’s right under our bedroom window.

Also posted in Nature

Birds in the Tree

I didn’t get any photos because I was indoors riding the exercise bike.  I noticed a commotion in the Chinese hackberry tree that inhabits the parking strip – since the exercise bike is on the second floor, I was looking straight across at it.  We had robins.  We had a lot of robins, I could see 4 or 5 at a time and there were more I couldn’t see, disturbing the branches and leaves, flying from branch to branch eating the hackberries, if that’s what those little black things are.  Also one much smaller greyer bird, also apparently after the berries.

It rained off and on today, not very hard, and we had a lot of birds.  I’ve noticed before that a gray, drizzly day (with a light rain, but not usually a heavy one) is often a day when we get a lot of birds in the yard.  If they were on the grass or in the flower bed I’d say they were after worms but there are no worms in the hackberry tree.

Looking for a collective noun for robins (apparently a group of robins is a worm), I found a comment (from the British Trust for Ornithology or BTO) that robins are territorial and don’t flock, but that “severe winter weather pacifies their mood with individuals becoming much more congenial.”  I wouldn’t call today’s weather “severe”, dismal would be more like it, but we certainly had many more robins together than I’m used to seeing.  I like birds, but robins always seem kind of aggressive to me.  They certainly were today.

Also posted in Nature Tagged |

The Halloween Parade

One of the unexpected pleasures of living on our street is that, every year around Halloween, the entire population of the elementary school, half a block away, dresses up in costume and parades up one side of the street and back down again the other side, one classroom at a time (preceded by signs identifying the teacher).  Today was a bright sunny Halloween Monday, and there they all went.  I stopped eating lunch to watch them.

Some of the costumes were really imaginative.  We had the usual brides, tramps, witches, wizards, and ghosts, of course.  But I also saw:  two little girls dressed as a pair of dice (yes, square cardboard costumes); two different boxy robots; a child in a totem post costume more than twice as tall as he was, with accurate Northwest Indian designs; and a young lady dressed as an 18th century court lady, in white satin and lace, with a full Madame Pompadour wig almost a foot high (the jeans visible under the skirt hem kind of took the edge off that one).  There were several penguins (at least one adult), wearing floppy yellow felt feet, with red chili peppers on the breast and a sort of crown of flames made of construction paper.  I saw a Spiderman, but also a Flash (the Justice League RULES!).  Orange and black striped knee socks were popular.  I do think the young lady in the frilly dark red tutu should have reconsidered the hot pink leggings, they didn’t go with it.  My husband said he saw a bunch of chicken suits, but I missed those.

Our neighbor across the street stared in amazement, he said he’d never been home for it before.  Then he went and got his camera.  I didn’t get any pictures, sorry, but it was a lovely parade.  We have an elderly neighbor who walks a very small elderly dachshund; they waited in our front sidewalk for quite a while as the cavalcade streamed past.  I don’t think the dog appreciated it.

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