Friday, December 12, 2014

Biggest Storm Since 2008

On Wednesday, we got the news that the biggest storm since 2008 was coming on Thursday. All day we were monitoring the latest news on the storm and whether the school was going to close on Thursday. Some people laughed at the word "storm." They don't think California has storm. Some people laughed at the possibility the school would be closed because of this "storm." Having been a resident of Northern California for over thirty years, I knew it could be bad. While we are usually suffering from drought, when it rains, it could rain hard for days, and then everything breaks down - traffic lights, big trees, cars (get stuck in gigantic pools of water), power supplies, hills (mud slide), etc. At the end of Wednesday, we got the words that Oakland Unified School District, San Francisco Unified School District, and many other schools were closing on Thursday in order to avoid putting any student and school staff in danger. When I made the announcement to the entire school community, the staff members started cheering. I was extremely relieved that I didn't have to take a sick day. My voice was completely gone as I had been sick and still dragged myself to work.

On my way home from work, I could feel the wind picking up speed. The sky was a dreadful shade of gray. I stopped by the store to get a bunch of canned soup. All I wanted was hot soup when I wasn't feeling well.  When I woke up around 4 a.m. on Thursday morning, I noticed that the power was out. It was still out when I got up at 7 a.m. I could see BART train running from my window but all the houses around me were completely dark. I went looking for my camping stove and lamp to make breakfast. The heavy rain was steady and coming from all 3 directions. I couldn't open two of my doors without my floor getting wet immediately. The only door I could opening without forming a puddle of water inside of the house was the door to the dog run from the garage. Kelsey and Cracus stayed inside all day. I took Cracus out 3 times to go to the bathroom. He got almost completely soaked just from being out for a couple minutes. Kelsey absolutely refused to go out. She barely drank any water and didn't go to the bathroom all day. It was a treat for all of us to be able to stay home on a day like this.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cracus' First Off Leash Walk

The weather cleared up briefly today for a change. It was the perfect chance to take the dogs somewhere so they could take a nice long walk. I have taken Cracus to Point Isabel a few times already but always kept him on a leash. I guess having a couple Alaskan Malamutes as my first dogs, I am always unsure whether a dog would just take off. Not that they were bad dogs, but Malamutes are very independent and tend to go on their own adventures. Niki and Okami escaped and went on a few trips of their own although they always managed to come home.

By now I know Cracus is a lap dog. How did people ever create lap dogs? He just wants to sit on my lap all the time while I am at the desk or watching movies. He follows me everywhere when I am home. I was pretty sure if I let Cracus off leash, he wouldn't just run away to be on his own. Well, it turned out that he was more well behaved while we were out. He followed me closely and ran up to me whenever I called his name. He wanted to play with other dogs regardless of their size. Having Kelsey as his big sister, he's fearless of large dogs. He didn't run into any mud puddle or jump into the bay.  He didn't bark at any person or dog and didn't act crazy at all.  People thought he was cute.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Turkey Tails

Wild Turkeys of El Cerrito are back

The wild turkeys of El Cerrito started showing up under the BART track on Masonic in between Marin and Darthmouth every morning for the past week. I have been seeing them every day on my way to work. Today I had my camera in hand to take a snapshot as I drove by.  I really wanted to get out of the car and get some better photos; unfortunately, like most of people, I am always running late in the morning. The photo says 8:35, but it was actually 7:35 a.m. and I have to be at the school no later than 7:55 a.m. to open the doors to let the kids in. As I drove by, all the gobblers were showing off their tail fans to the hens. As you can see in the photo above, the hens are the ones on the right without tail fans. I always wonder where the turkeys hang out for the rest of the year since I usually only see them around end of October to December. How I wish I could put a tracker or a small camera on one of the turkeys.  What do they do all day and where to do they go? These are the questions I wonder.

It's been raining on and off for the entire week. Today I noticed the wine barrel planter in my backyard is full of turkey tail mushrooms!  Turkey tail is the common name of rametes versicolor for obvious reason. It's a common mushroom found throughout the world. It also contains medicinal components. It is believe that it may be useful against cancer. Turkey tail exact can be purchased online or one can just grind turkey tail into powder and make tea with it.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Introducing Cracus

I have been thinking about getting a second dog for a while.  I thought about what are involved in having another dog - space in the car, additional cost in food, living area, additional shedding and bathing of the dog, training, and vet bills, etc. Even though I would love to have another dog that's similar to Kelsey's size, I decided it would be easier to get a small dog. I stopped by Berkeley Animal Services and was immediately drawn to this super cute young labradoodle, who was adopted immediately a week ago but was returned due to his constantly playful nature. I could see that would be a problem for me as well but he was super cute. I almost wanted to get him out of impulse. The animal control officer gave me a book, Love Has No Age Limit, to read over and take everything into consideration before getting that second dog. It is a wonderful little book, which I highly recommend to anyone who is thinking of adopting a shelter or rescue dog. I have never even considered getting a dog from a breeder. All of my dogs were pre-owned.

Now with 2 dog houses

I ended up finding this little white dog at Animal Refuge Response in San Pablo. They think he's a poodle mix and is about 9 months old. The little guy looked so eager to get out of the shelter and is so sad when someone walks away. He would just then curl up in his little bed and wait for the next person to come by. I ended up taking him home on the same day. Little did I know he could turn into a little crazy monster.  He jumps on people and Kelsey and would try to bite my hands with his little sharp teeth. He also makes this crazy wild animal noise and runs super fast. He reminded me of Gremlins with his pink lips, nose, floppy ears, and somewhat unpredictable temperament.

Cracus vs. Gremlin

I wasn't sure what to call the little dog, but I kept calling him crazy little circus dog. I thought about calling him Gremlin or Mogwai (from Gremlin). At the end, I figured Cracus would be perfect. It sounds like a real name but it's basically Crazy + Circus = Cracus. He probably looks pretty normal and cute in the photos above. Take a look at the way he plays with Kelsey in the video below. Kelsey tried to ignore Cracus for a couple of weeks, but I guess she finally decided that she had to try to wear down some of his energy.

Friday, November 21, 2014

New Fruit Vines for New Home

With my new garden, naturally I have to plant something new. Since my gardening time is now extremely limited, I decided that I needed to just get a small plant instead of trying to grow something from cuttings. I stopped by one of my favorite nurseries in the area, East Bay Nursery, to check out their fruit trees. Initially I was very interested in a persimmon tree specifically of Jiro variety, the flat round kind not the pointy kind.  Persimmon trees are quite expensive, so I started looking at apricot, avocado, pineapple grava (feijoa), etc.

I know with our cool weather in the East Bay, growing avocado and pineapple grava would be tricky. I went back to East Bay Nursery a few days later to take a second look. To my surprise, they have kiwi vines, which I completely missed during my first visit. I searched online for golden kiwi vines, but the only vendors selling them are in New Zealand, and they can't ship them to the States. Having been deeply in love with New Zealand, the decision was for me. I knew that in order for kiwis to fruit, there have to be a male and a female vines growing close to each other.

East Bay Nursery has both male and female vines. They also have one last pot which has both male and female vines in the same pot growing next to each other. I grabbed that pot and took it home. I have been keeping it in my kitchen for now. After reading more about growing kiwis in the Bay Area, I am considering the possibility of growing it inside. Alternatively, I could transplant it in the yard in the spring.

My kiwi vines