Friday, October 8, 2021

Cat tale

I was already slated to adopt a kitty from a local shelter when I came across Bart running around the mean streets of Bernal Heights. I hadn't meant to keep Bart--I had a new kitty coming home to me soon after all--but finding his owner proved more difficult than I thought it would be. 

I noticed Bart, the pretty gray and white adult cat you can see in below images, dodging car traffic and fending off dogs along a busy commercial corridor here in town. Bart was yowling and hissing and doing a sort of crab walk, fur standing on end, while two dogs were being held in place by their owner. The dog owner sort of looked amused which pissed me off. When the dogs were finally yanked away down the sidewalk, Bart decided to run out into traffic prompting a passerby to yell out, 'Look out, cat!' Then I hopped into the street in order to act as Bart's crossing guard, holding up the palm of my hand to a motorist coming toward us while Bart scurried to the other side of the street.

I wondered who would let their kitty out near such a busy thoroughfare. Maybe he'd escaped from a home unnoticed? He wore no collar and the bridge of his nose with crossed with old scratch marks presumably from tussles with other neighborhood cats. He was friendly, rubbing up against my legs and purring, so I bent down a gave him a few cuddles before deciding to take him to a vet to have him inspected for an ID chip. I got him into my car with little fanfare and drove him to the only vet I could find that would see him short notice. It turned out that Bart was chipped, but the ID no. attached to the chip not registered to anyone, unfortunately. Not wanting to release him back into the area where I first found him, I took Bart home from the vet and made him comfortable with kitty treats, a few toys, a scratching post, and a cat box--all the things that were meant for the cat I was soon to adopt, actually. Bart took to his new situation very well, so I was sure he'd have to have been an indoor cat at some point. But what about now? Where were his people?

My husband and I decided to create a 'Found Cat' post for the 'Cats' section of a local social media platform. Our post received some attention, but no owner stepped forward to claim our new house guest. The next weekend we went back to the neighborhood where Bart was found roaming and I asked around local businesses if they'd recognized Bart. Nobody did.

As you can read, we named him, 'Bart', short for 'Schnurrbart' as he has a wee mustache. I'd still be amenable to returning him to his rightful owners, but, at this point, I'd really rather not as my husband and I have become very attached to him.

Bart and newly adopted kitty playing with ball and ribbon. (Bart is mostly watching new kitty doing all the playing.)

Bart regarding new kitty's paw.


Tuesday, September 28, 2021


The Dahlia Garden in Golden Gate Park is still flush with fantastic flowers. I cycled over this past weekend to take in the view and snap a handful of pictures. 

Here is a not-so-select batch of photos:

Finger in shot for scale. 

I don't have the greenest of thumbs, but, inspired by this lovely garden, I wanted to try and reproduce some of the magic in my own back garden. What I learned from my first attempt at planting Dahlias was important. 

  • Give each individual plant ample 'elbow room'.
  • Prune around the base of each plant.

So, here's what happened when I didn't start out doing the above two things---

MEGA amounts of moths had laid eggs in and among the densely packed together plants thus resulting in my plants being devoured by nocturnal caterpillars. Once my husband and I figured out what why flowers and leaves were being munched to death, I went out four nights in a row armed with a flashlight and gloves and picked off as many caterpillars as I could find. I also tore out those few plants that had been noshed on beyond all repair and made it so I could easily see the soil (and thus the bugs) around the remaining plants. Now I check the Dahlias every few nights or so for crawly interlopers. So far, so good.

One week after the great purge & the Dahlia are looking A-OK.

I don't think that his type were the culprit, but I shooed him away nonetheless!

Note the space between plantings at the Dahlia Garden in GGP.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Hi, all.

Since I last wrote my mother has become a widow, I have adopted a stray cat, and work has picked up. I have thought about all of you and wondered how you've been getting on as we still slog through the pandemic. I kept thinking I'd pop in to this space to write a bit or, at the very least, read your blogs, but just felt a bit too 'meh' to want to do either, ultimately. For some reason, today's the day. I'm glad to be here now. 

At the risk of airing a bit of dirty laundry, I've been struggling a bit emotionally. Although I did not care for my mother's husband of 38 years, I worry about my mom's well-being now that she's on her own and wish that she were financially able to move closer to me and the rest of her friends and family. As she's a rather private person I can't say how she's set in the funds department. I do know that she's slated to receive her spouse's social security checks, so that is a small yet stable help. I check in with her many times a week to see how she's getting on. She's still in the process of getting through certain bits of paperwork that come with one's spouse dying. In fact, she's over in Oakland at the moment obtaining both a copy of her marriage certificate and a copy of her husband's discharge papers from the Navy. I presume such info. is needed in order for her to obtain the s.s. checks. 

Although I did not want to attend, I and my husband went to mom's husband's funeral. It was held at a military cemetery on the outskirts of Sacramento, our state's capitol. As one might imagine, the day was baking hot---somewhere in the 90s F/30s C--and we were sweating in our dark clothing. I don't know if Covid dictated that the service be short, but it was and mercifully so. As it was a naval service, included was the ceremonial folding of the US flag. I had never seen anything like it before save for maybe on TV. The ritual of the flag folding was interesting to watch, but also, somehow, felt a bit over-the-top. The performance aspect of it---two men talking turns slowly saluting a folded American flag--kind of took me out of the service. However, I think mom appreciated the ceremony, so that's all that matters. 

We're calling him Bart, short for Schnurrbart. 

The above little cutie was found dodging cars and fending off dogs on a really busy road over the weekend. I 'kit-napped' him and took him to a vet's clinic to see if he were chipped as he was found without a collar. He is, indeed, chipped, however the chip has not been registered to anyone, unfortunately. I then posted on our local social media platform called Nextdoor that I'd 'rescued' our man from the streets, but have not received any nibbles as to who the owners might be on said platform. He likely could be a stray as he has scratches across the bridge of his nose and was a bit scrubby-looking when I came across him. My husband and I will foster him for the duration and if no one comes forward to claim him we will likely keep him. He's a champion biscuit-maker, knows how to use a cat box and is generally pretty chill. 

I think he's missing the thrill of the Great Outdoors as he's howling at dusk to be let out. It's unlikely we'll let him roam free again, but we have been taking him out in the garden with a harness and leash on for 'walkies'. -better than a kick a head, as my dad used to say! 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sweeney Ridge

I went on a birthday walk with my cousin and his family today at a place called Sweeney Ridge. My cousin lived in the vicinity as a teen and had fond memories of the area. He left for college in 1987 and hasn't been back until now. And I only recall hiking the trail with him when we were both teens. Back then there were horse stables up on the ridge. My cousin's step-mom boarded her horses there. Tasked with taking care of the horses when his parents were away, he remembers hiking the trail in order to feed and brush them. I think I 'met' the horses at some point. There were two of them and I remember one was called Smokey. My cousin and his step-mom would often go riding up along the ridge and even down around the nearby Crystal Springs reservoir. How they were allowed access to what is actually our local source of drinking water, I do not know. No one but a park ranger living near the reservoir has that sort of permission these days.

In the intervening years, Sweeney Ridge has come under the jurisdiction of the National Parks Service. What was once a sleepy trail at the end of a residential street in a fog-covered neighborhood is now a bustling walk path with an ever shortage of attendant parking spaces. 

The picture directly below shows a barely legible bit of lettering reading: FOG LINE. From this point on a yellow strip of paint down the middle of the path is meant to help keep walkers on the footway. The fog this morning was not too dense, so following the yellow line wasn't necessary, fortunately. 

Fog line, baby!

Rather cheerful-looking local flora.

A bit of (very early) berry.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Back to work...

I have been working a couple of days here and there the past few weeks. It's been good, but fatiguing. I have had to re-adjust to standing for longer periods. Fortunately, I'm working with both friends and family, so if I need to 'take five' and rest the feet, then it's usually not an issue. 

Last weekend, I worked at the crepe stand my friend runs. We were at a well-visited Famers' Market in the East Bay. I hadn't worked with her since 2018 before a foot injury temporarily sidelined me. Most of how to do the work came back to me like riding a bicycle. Figuring out the payment system (Square & an iPhone) took me a minute as it's not second nature. Apple Pay was pretty dang easy to pick up. The customer holds his or her phone over the merchant's phone (aka the hand-held payment device) and VOILA! funds are transferred. 

Below is a shot of the crepe stand at the end of the day. I had already begun taking down the menu boards and the French flag before I thought of taking this picture. Does anyone recognize the flag not yet taken down? 

A small pile of lemon crepes to-go.

I worked a decent amount window-washing with my brother and his business partner this past week. The partner's adult daughter was on-hand as well. We all get on for the most part until someone mentions politics. The partner and daughter are political knuckleheads, to put it bluntly. During lunch one day this week I was recalling the time I was nearly sent back on a flight to the USA from Heathrow because it seemed that they thought I was trying to stay in the UK illegally. I had been put in a room with other travelers from Europe, Africa and the Middle East and my passport was removed from my person. After about three hours, I was released and able to join my friend who'd been patiently waiting for me to emerge from the international area of the airport. Both the partner and daughter were like: Whoa! If only we were that tough! We let everybody in! Blah-blah-blah....

The daughter, I should mention, is on government assistance. She lives in subsidized housing and she pays a pittance for medical appointments and prescriptions. I don't begrudge her the tremendous governmental support she receives, but I wonder if she's thought much about how the political party she identifies with would rather see her destitute than give her the aid she needs. I guess the question I would like to pose to her is: How can you both be a Republican and be on food stamps?  (Dear Reader: I will never ask.)

Monday, April 26, 2021

From cats to bats.

I have been watching every bat rescue vid I can find on Youtube. Meg, of Megabattie fame, does a bang up job of rescue and rehab for (mostly) flying foxes. I think I heard her say in one of the vids that her eyesight isn't what it was, so it's easier to see the 'bits' on the larger variety of bats. That and she doesn't really enjoy feeding meal worms to the microbats. (I, personally, find the megabats/flying foxes much cuter than the insect-eating bats and would prefer to work with them as well, were I to have a choice!

We do not have fruit bats, aka megabats, flying free here in the US. Our wild bats are strictly tiny, meat-eating variety. In fact, I don't think I knew that fruit bats looked a bit like a cross between a fox and a dog in the face until a few years ago. (Thanks, David Attenborough!)

All bats, whether large or small, fruit or meating eating, are extraordinary mammals. Bats spend a majority of their lives upside down. They eat upside down, give birth upside down and sleep upside down. What they don't do, appropriately, is relieve themselves upside down. Through a process known as inversion, bats flip right side up, hang on by their thumbs, empty bladder and/or bowel, then perform a little shake of their entire body before dangling once again by their feet. It's a little bit funny to watch the whole routine, but it gets the job done! 

Speaking of funny, I found a vid of Meg's from a few years' back in which one of her colleagues caught a naughty juvenile bat taking a milk bottle from a holder and absconding with it. The only problem was that without actual hands with fingers, the poor battie couldn't figure out how to tip the bottle nipple down in order to procure the milk. 

If  you're keen to have a chuckle, then take a gander at this botched milk theft video--

Saturday, April 17, 2021

News of late.

I was starting to feel a bit anxious re: Covid vaccination accessibility last month. Starting back in January, relatives and friends of friends who weren't immuno-comprised yet desperate to skip the queue were able to get the jab via somewhat questionable means. Some cousins of mine who are in their 30s claimed that they worked in the hospitality industry and therefore were able to get the jab. One had her hubby put her on the payroll at his restaurant, the other just said she tended bar, in fact she used to, but now no longer does. So did she need to bring proof of employment? And, if so, what did she show the folk at the vax center? Someone I know owns and runs an event space where beer and wine are occasionally served, so she was eligible and got the jab. I thought, should I be doing this, too, in order to be vaccinated earlier than others? Is that a correct thing to do? In the end, I felt it wasn't, but couldn't shake feeling nervous about not being able to easily obtain a vax appointment once they became available to my age group. After fruitless online searches, thanks to social media (said usually no one ever), I caught wind of an abundance of vax appts. at a local college. I was able to book online the very first go. The initial dose was administered on April 7th. I will go back for the second injection on May 7th. Those of us who booked at this particular site were offered either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine. I chose Moderna not for any other reason than it was the default choice on the website. 

My husband, who is a year younger than I am, is now able to be vaccinated along with everyone else ages 16 and over. He's tried booking an appt. for the past few days, but has so far come up short. I suppose if he were willing to travel some long distance, then he could possibly be able to book an appt. sooner rather than later, but who wants to drive 75 miles away to have a needle stuck in their arm? 


Since the start of lock-down, a portion of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park has been closed to vehicular traffic. As a driver, I could stomp my foot and talk about 'my rights' as a car owner and demand that all of JFK be re-opened to car traffic, but it's not just about me. Having this roadway in the park closed to all but walkers, joggers, skaters, bikers and parents with kids in strollers has been a real boon to those of us wanting to be in a leafy-green park, but with a decent amount of social distance between us. Now the folk behind the big-monied museums in the park just off this closed bit of roadway (note: buses are still able to drive through) with ample underground parking between them, are crying that barring car traffic from almost literally their front doors is a hindrance to visitors. Even with the partial street closure, through-traffic in the park still exists as do over 4,000 parking spaces. So, really, why are the museums squawking? You'll get your $$$. People are still showing up, ffs.

In addition to the museum heads, we've even heard from district supervisors in SE San Francisco, now predominately neighborhoods of color, complaining that the park closure represents some sort of 'recreational redlining'. I call bullshit on that. As someone who used to live in SE SF at the beginning of lock-down, I could either take a direct bus into the park or drive to the park and PARK IN or around said park. The only issue that I take with the partial closure of JFK is that it doesn't seem to take into account those with pronounced mobility issues who might wish to visit either the museums or the Conservatory of Flowers now that this institutions are beginning to re-open to the public. 

Many SF families with young children have been able to enjoy the park together. I have seen more than my fair share of little'uns learning how to ride bikes without the worry of cars whizzing by and many parents on cargo bikes with their brood in tow. I don't need to be a parent to recognize that the park street closure is a good thing. Again, it's not about me as a motorist who wants to easily and quickly get to the other side of town via Golden Gate Park, it's about the majority. And the (vocal) majority are San Francisco families who want a car-free JFK. 

This past Saturday I attended a car-free JFK Dr. rally in front of the Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park. There were a good couple hundred folk in attendance. Most attendees were parents with children, but there were a few of us 'non-breeders' there as well. No one from City Hall showed up in support. Fortunately, state assembly member David Chiu (who lives in SE San Francisco, no less) took part in the rally and he also lent his voice to the cause. Here he is from behind in the picture below delivering a solid message of support to rally participants. 

Hope all of you are safe and well! x Bea

Cat tale

I was already slated to adopt a kitty from a local shelter when I came across Bart running around the mean streets of Bernal Heights. I hadn...