Friday, December 26, 2008

We Had a Very Merry Christmas

Looking back on the whole Advent season, it's nice to realize how calm and happy it was. Sure, we didn't get our Christmas cards and letter started by the 25th, and didn't do our Christmas shopping until the 23rd, but that may just be why we didn't feel stressed. We had a great season of concerts (singing and in the audience), special events at church, fun parties, and good times with friends. On Christmas Day, we had a great time with almost our entire family, small as it is. With Tim and Mary Ann arriving from San Antonio on Christmas Eve, everyone was at our house except for Sam & Jenn who were up north.Here's a picture of the three siblings (Jane, Tim, and Tom) together for the first time in a few years. Other photos of the Christmas season can be found by clicking on the posting title or just looking at the December 2008 albums on our Kodakgallery site.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Has Arrived

The Winter Solstice arrived well before sunrise yesterday morning but "winter weather" actually arrived last week when a cold storm blew snow onto lower elevations in the Southwest that had not seen that much in nearly thirty years. On December 18th, Las Vegas got 3.8 inches of snow and the I-5, I-15, and CA Highways 14 and 38 were closed when the Cajon and Tejon Passes were covered in snow. Even the Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu got a little bit of the white stuff. It was amazingly spectacular but according to the record keepers (of whom I am one) almost twice as much fell in December of 1979. I woke up to a soft rain this morning and am thankful it was clear and dry over the weekend. I got about a third of my spring bulbs planted between recovering from my cold and preparing for our Choir Christmas Concert. These are a few shots of our local mountains after last week's storm cleared.Click on this photo and look closely; you'll see some of the strawberries that survived the rain and cold and are ready to be harvested.

Friday, December 19, 2008

If This Season Is Getting You Down

Not all of us derive extra joy and inspiration from the Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza season. Understandably, those of us who miss our loved ones find this a tough time. People who have lost their jobs, are ill, or are finding themselves with much less than last year are also feeling less than happy. For all those people as well as those of us who feel constantly blessed, here's a video my friend Janet G. sent this week:

Nick Vujicic on YouTube

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Venus, Jupiter, and the Crescent Moon

I shot these photos from our balcony on Sunday. There was too much light around to really show the crescent of the moon, but it helped when I shot from behind the curtain. Too bad the double-paned windows created some "echos" because as NPR and The Manila Times stated, depending on where you were on the globe, some people could see a "smiley face" and other people saw a "frowny face".:
This article by AP Science Writer, Seth Borenstein - published Tue Nov 25, 4:21 pm ET - put me on notice to look in the sky yesterday. I was so busy and tired after the Alternative Christmas Faire, it took a phone call from Tom (who almost always works in his classroom on Sunday evenings) to tell me to look at the sky Sunday around 6pm.

(Quoting from Yahoo! News):
It's not just families that are getting together this Thanksgiving week. The three brightest objects in the night sky — Venus, Jupiter and a crescent moon — will crowd around each other for an unusual group shot.

Starting Thanksgiving evening, Jupiter and Venus will begin moving closer so that by Sunday and Monday, they will appear 2 degrees apart, which is about a finger width held out at arm's length, said Alan MacRobert, senior editor at Sky and Telescope magazine. Then on Monday night, they will be joined by a crescent moon right next to them, he said.

Look in the southwestern sky around twilight — no telescope or binoculars needed. The show will even be visible in cities if it's a clear night.

"It'll be a head-turner," MacRobert said. "This certainly is an unusual coincidence for the crescent moon to be right there in the days when they are going to be closest together."

The moon is the brightest, closest and smallest of the three and is 252,000 miles away. Venus, the second brightest, closest and smallest, is 94 million miles away. And big Jupiter is 540 million miles away.

The three celestial objects come together from time to time, but often they are too close to the sun or unite at a time when they aren't so visible. The next time the three will be as close and visible as this week will be Nov. 18, 2052, according to Jack Horkheimer, director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium.

I took the rest of these yesterday after work - before the moon and planets set into the fogbank that has been hanging out in the area for over a week:

(If you click on the photos, you'll see bigger versions)I took this last one from Oxnard Shores. It was pretty dark but you can see the moonlight on the water and that light on the horizon is an oil platform.

Home & World Improvement Rather Than Christmas Shopping

Carpet shampooing, wood floor cleaning and oiling, and ivy trimming took up our weekend after Thanksgiving. The annual Alternative Christmas Faire that I've organized for many years took place the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and in only two hours plus a few more purchases over the next two weeks, we raised $7,000.00 for local and global organizations - literacy programs, California wildfire and 2008 hurricane relief, flocks of chickens, building supplies, elderly care, food and services for homeless families and people needing mental health services all benefitted from the generousity of our church's and community's people who made donations at the Faire. It's good to know that even in tough economic times, there are still a lot of people willing to share their resources for the good of others!

Thanksgiving in Costa Mesa

Since Renata had to work the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we stayed in the area and got to celebrate with the SoCal part of our family. (There are just a few more photos to see if you click on the posting title.)

Catching Up: CLA in San Jose

I always enjoy the annual California Library Association conference learning opportunities, special events, and seeing old friends. This was my second CLA in San Jose (the last one was spent finishing and turning in another set of culminating papers so I could finally get my MLIS!) This time, besides the workshops and speakers, I got to tour the Adobe Systems corporate library shortly after arriving from Tahoe and checking-in Friday afternoon. At the end of the afternoon Saturday, I was treated to wine and hors d'oeuvres and a tour of the Almaden Community Center and Library. What a fabulous place! (These are photos of their TeenSpace.)There were other special events: Brodart invited me to the Friday night Awards Dinner and I attended the State Librarian's Breakfast Saturday morning. After returning from the Almaden Branch Library, I barely had time to enjoy the final hour of the San Jose State School of Library & Information Science Fundraiser at the San Jose Art Museum - a quick bidding time at the silent auction where I got two autographed books, a few more hors d'oeuvres and wine, and a brief look at photos of Frieda Kahlo and some fabulous cardboard and glass art. On Sunday morning, I took part in a poster session about the How I See It: My Place program.
Of course I took lots of pictures; you can see the album by clicking on this posting's title.

Catching Up: Tahoe Trip

With the Veterans Day holiday and two vacation days off before CLA's annual conference, I drove up to visit Sam and Jenn. I got to finally see their new apartment, visit Ingrid and see her new home, AND finally totally satisfy my Fall Colors desire (the Big Bear trip helped a lot but I wanted to see MORE!)
Photos of Sam, Jenn, Diesel, and Tahoe

Pictures of my visit and walk with Ingrid outside Grass Valley

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Return of the Red-shouldered Hawk

Just as I was locking up and checking on the pond before leaving for work this morning, this guy flew up from around the avocado tree. I think he might have been drinking out of the water bowl I keep filled for the cats and possums, but I'm not sure he wasn't sitting in the crook of the tree trunk waiting to catch a gopher or something.
At any rate, too little time went between my awareness of the bird and the time it took him to fly up to the neighboring roof. What I was most aware of was the hawk's wingspan - I don't think it was my imagination that made it look like 40".
I looked up information about red-shouldered hawks (University of Michigan and Cornell) and they are described with 37-44" wingspans. I'm glad I had enough time to take his picture before he flew away. Since these hawks are solitary and territorial, I'm assuming this is the same bird we were so surprised to see this summer.
Thank goodness Bob is as huge as he is. He didn't need to be hiding in the tree, but I'm glad he was!

Friday, November 21, 2008

How I See It: South Oxnard

After months of anticipation and weeks of preparation, we finally held the Opening Reception for How I See It: South Oxnard. Some of you know I applied for this grant from the California Council for the Humanities almost a year ago - my first grant application, so I feel quite lucky to have been chosen to take part in the program. I attended a weekend orientation in L.A. for the 21 librarian Project Directors back in May. After completing our Summer Reading Program and recruiting teens for the project, we had our first session on September 16th. We met once or twice every week for the first six or seven weeks, increasing to three - and finally, four - times a week as our exhibit opening got closer. This is a video created by our City of Oxnard Public Affairs folks, Luis and Christina. Watching it on causes a bit of distortion to the images and sometimes stops to reload periodically, but it does an excellent job of introducing you to some of the teens and their work. Click on the Play button image and you'll see why I'll miss working with this group now that our project is over:

How I See It...South Oxnard Library Photo Project from City of Oxnard on Vimeo.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I'm Ready for Winter Now!

Like the ads say, "it isn't winter until the new Warren Miller movie comes out." I know that Fall has barely begun, but now that I've seen this trailer I'm ready for the snow! The new movie is called Children of Winter. Turn up the volume and enjoy this clip!

(Sure wish they would add some venues. There is only one showing on the Central Coast and I have to work that night!)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

YES, we can!

Wow, I have to admit I had my doubts this would ever happen, so thanks to all the people who, unlike me, knocked on doors and made phone calls to assure Barack Obama would be elected tonight! We have a lot of hard work ahead, but I am so full of hope tonight - there is so much change that can be accomplished if we can just keep up the momentum and if we can truly work together over the next few years.
Election Results Map

Obama sweeps to victory

As happy as I am with the way the election went, I'm very sorry that Proposition 8 (the anti-same-sex marriage amendment) passed. The country demonstrated that race is not as big an issue as it used to be, but there are still too many people willing to discriminate against people who happen to love and want to spend their lives with men and women who are the same gender as they are.

Monday, November 03, 2008

One More Day to Go

Halloween is over and so is Dia de los Muertes and All Saints Day. Daylight Saving Time is also over. We had our first rain of the season and it came down in over an inch. Change is on the way!Obama is ahead in the polls but what about the "Bradley Effect" and any other last-minute poll booth decisions? Now that's scarey!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Tom's Autumn Recess

One of the advantages of Tom's semi-year-round school schedule is that he gets a week off in October. This year, he split the week between San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Ventura, and Big Bear; he covered a lot of area in a week! He started right after school was out on Friday night by flying up to San Francisco where he rendezvoused with his friends-since-freshman-year-at-UCSB, Chris and John. While there, the guys were joined by two of their sons - Jesse lives in San Fran and Sam came down for the weekend. Sunday, they drove down to Santa Cruz and spent the night at John & Judy's, and Monday, Tom drove Chris's rental car down through Big Sur so Chris could spend a couple of days in Ventura before flying home to Boston. I really wanted to see fall colors, so the following Friday, the two of us drove up to Big Bear. It was a quick trip since we needed to be back Saturday night, but we got to see autumn leaves, check on the cabin, relax, and enjoy some time alone together.

Monday, October 20, 2008

More Pond Visitors

I have been trying to catch these birds for several weeks but wasn't able to capture them on camera until yesterday.
Last night, I surprised a couple of our neighborhood opossums as they were crossing the bridge over our pond. I'm one of the weird people who think opossums are cute and often put out old fruit for them by one of the outside water bowls. I was up late doing laundry and so surprised the little one, it jumped into the water! Luckily, it was small enough that it didn't knock anything into the water as it climbed out. What a cute little thing. I got this shot of the mother(?) when it came out from under the porch.
I've often wondered whether to call these "possums" or "opossums" but have learned that only oppossums live in North America - where they are commonly called "possums". While searching for more info about these critters, I ran across a great blog: Camera Trap Codger. Take a look and you'll see some great photos!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Yippee! Another Unsuccessful Racoon Attack

After several years of coming to our backyard ponds and cleaning them out of all fish in September and October, we hope that last night's second unsuccessful fishing expedition will reinforce the message not to go fishing in the Hundley ponds. Last time, the intruder(s?) knocked some rocks, plants, and knick knacks from the waterfall in the big pond and knocked the fountain tubing out of the square pond so that it lost about 30 inches of water. All fish survived that night. Last night, it/they messed up the water lilies but seem to have left the square pond alone. (The two goldfish living in that pond have learned to stay down deep and hardly ever come all the way to the top anymore.) They knocked over the big pottery urn and disconnected the hose from the pump in the big pond, but all fish are accounted for. Knock-on-wood that the masked critters give up and go somewhere else. (Actually, they are soooooo cute, that I wouldn't mind them just visiting and maybe just drinking from our outdoor water bowls - but that is probably too much to ask!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Changing to Fall Colors - Leaves AND Fish!

With the first day of Fall this week, we expect - even in SoCal - to see some of the trees turning orange and red. Seems the old goldfish (the ones born in the pond last year) have also decided to change colors this season. All three of the surviving goldfish (they survived last fall's infamous racoon attacks!) kept their black color until this spring when one of them turned orange . . . then orange and white . . . and now that one is totally white in color. The other two are just beginning to turn from totally black . . . to black and gray . . . and now are beginning to show some orange!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Autumn Has Arrived . . . .

. . . You can tell because the "wildlife" in our backyard has changed. The little yellow birds have reappeared (I'm still trying to have my camera with me when they come to the pond.) The monarch butterflies are starting to be seen on plants and floating through the air. The hummingbirds are also back, and it looks like the racoons are beginning to revisit the pond. All are welcome in our backyard - as long as they don't tear anything up (and in the case of the coons, they don't try to eat our fish!)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sam Spent His Birthday in Ventura

It was fun to have Sam and Jenn here for Sam's 27th birthday. Brian, Davey, and Mike were on hand and it was just like the old high school days - except the boys have grown up and are much more fun to be around ;-)