Sunday, January 15, 2023


Top six of 2022:

6. Curry in Belfast, Ireland.
5. Disneyland with my chem twin.
4. Death Cab show with my Mom.
3. My brother Ryan's surprise for my 40th birthday.
2. Raising our chicken beepers.
1. My brother Philip survived!

1) Nick Drake - Pink Moon
2) Death Cab for Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart

Wednesday, January 19, 2022


A few things that happened during Year 2 of the Pandemic:
  • I read 12 books.
  • I mastered my sourdough loaf recipe.
  • I became a Big Sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
  • I played frisbee with my dad and brother like the old days.
  • I dipped my toes in Lake Michigan.
  • I SUPed for the first time.
  • I finally visited Red Lodge, MT
  • I went back to work onsite (and put on hard pants).
  • Steve and I went to a Milwaukee Brewers game.
  • I threw a 70th birthday/Retirement party for my dad.
  • I hammocked.
  • I danced in my kitchen with my parents.
  • Steve grew his hair longer than mine and perfected the man bun.
  • I surprised my bonus dad for this 60th birthday in Montana.
  • I went to Yellowstone National Park.
  • We got vaccinated and boosted.
  • I happily attended a virtual baby shower.
  • I sadly attended a virtual memorial service.
  • I roasted mallows in my own fire pit.
  • I hauled and stacked a ton of wood.
  • I wore a mask everywhere.
  • I cooked and ate deer and cow testicles.
  • I got a haircut.
  • Steve got a haircut.
  • I celebrated 15 years with Promega.
  • I turned 39! 
Enjoy the show!
Snow in Gothenburg by Kasbo
Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Growing old together

Isn't it romantic
A walk in the white winter woods
A sugary sweet smooch among the owl hoots

Isn't it fun
A bonfire above the frozen alfalfa
Bubbly brown mallows and ice cold beer

Reminiscing about where we've been
Skateboarding along del playa
Dancing with the girls DT

An email about getting caught in the rain
Avocado and CD surprises
Phone numbers scratched on paper

Eating quesadillas in my studio
Talking to the plants and listening to Of Montreal on Higuera
Tall cans and tunes over the shower radio at Montana de Oro

Motorcycle rides to the pines in a pink helmet
Growing palms and tending fruit trees
Tending to our hearts

Big eyed winding through white country roads
New red birds and orange tractors
Grey hair and tiny wrinkles framing kind eyes

Every single simple moment before this moment
Brought us here
And still we grow old together.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020


1) Weird Fishes / Arpeggi by Radiohead
2) Bros by Wolf Alice
3) Fake Empire by The National
4) The Wild by Mumford and Sons

Sunday, November 01, 2020

The Best Thing We Ever Saw - Final Chapter

To bring you up to speed, in 2018 a pair of barn owls moved into our owl box in our backyard in Arroyo Grande, California. I documented the activity and you can read the previous posts here:

Today's post is the final chapter of that first year. Another pair (or maybe one of the 2018 crew) raised their young again in 2019. I'll share another post with pictures from 2019 to follow.

Flappy was the first owlet to fledge so in my last story he had just made his first few flights while his brothers watched eagerly from the door. 

July 31
Flappy emerges early and jumps out of the box right away, landing straight on the willow. Then he makes a risky attempt and flies clear across the yard to try to land on a wire. He misses and falls to the ground. In defeat, he hops over to Steve’s work table for a rest. From there, he flies to the top of the box for more dancing and jumping. He flies into the nursery and then reappears on the phone wire above.

Pally and Squeaky are getting anxious at the door. We can see Pally really wanting to follow after his brother but is so nervous flapping his wings inside the box and looking all around. Finally, he makes a jump for the willow and crashes hard. He recovers and stays still while Flappy encourages him to flap his wings! He flaps and flies into the big tree and misses and falls to the ground. At the same time Squeaky jumps to the willow. He isn’t ready but he is missing out on the fun so he plunges for the willow. He is so discombobulated he isn’t sure what to do. Flappy joins him in the willow to coach him through it. Together they flap their wings. 

Flappy returns to the top of the box for a rest. Pally makes his way to the wood pile and walks back and forth along the ridges of the wood. He seems confused and never flaps. Squeaky stays in the willow not sure what to do. Flappy gets bored and goes back inside. 

Squeaky attempts to fly to the box from the willow but can’t get any height. He gets stuck on the pole and falls to the ground. 

Night falls and we aren't sure if Squeaky or Pally found their way back. Mom comes by to drop off food and there's lots of squeaking but it's hard to tell where the noises are coming from.

Steve turns on a light to check it out and sure enough Pally is on the pole of the wood pile and Squeaky is still on the ground underneath the box. They look a little out of place. Squeaky gets scared and flaps his way along the ground into the safety of the willow. 

All night long we hear screeches and screams, crashes and chaos. The sound of metal clanking and who knows what - sometimes sounding very close to the patio outside our bedroom window. The raucous doesn't end so we have to close the window.

In the morning I check the box to see if Flappy and Pally are sitting in the window like usual, but it's just Flappy. 

Maybe the other two never made it home? I scan the yard and wood pile looking for evidence. And then, I spot beautiful golden owl feathers nestled in the willow tree. The binoculars reveal it isn't just one owl in the tree..but both Pally and Squeaky!! Together, they are cuddled up among the branches and curly leaves. Pally, once again, being his usual best pal ever to his brother. 

Meanwhile, Flappy is enjoying the peace of having the box to himself and sits in the window fast asleep. Will Pally and Squeaky find their way back to the box today? We shall see!!

August 1
After work, we check on the owls and Pally and Squeaky are still in the tree fast asleep!!! 

At around 8pm, all of the owls wake up and Pally almost immediately flies into the box on his first try! Squeaks tries to follow but can't get his wings untangled from the willow. He has to reset and try again three times. On his final attempt he makes it to the box but just barely overshoots and lands on the roof!! 

Flappy flies to the willow then to the roof to be with Squeaky to give him some wing flapping pointers. Meanwhile Pally is at the door acting like a baby - he is not as willing to fly out of the box again after being stuck in the willow all night and all day.

We soon realized Squeaky was not the best name because this calm bird did not make a peep this entire time...while Pally is hollering at the door nonstop. So we rename Squeaky to Fuzz. An ode to the baby owl fuzz that he still has all over his belly and atop his head. 

Flappy is still having the time of his life, flying around longer distances to our chimney, pointing his butt in our direction and farting!! And then into the nursery, he hovers and lightly lands on a wire. He has it down!!! He stops on top of the box to visit and cheer up Fuzz, showing him how to jump and flap and give him encouraging kisses and preens. 

Will Fuzz be on top the box all night or will he find some courage and fly around and make his way safely back to the box tonight!? Will Pally be too scared and never leave tonight? 

August 2

Flappy makes his way out first thing to begin his practice. Pally is at the door but hesitating, still haunted by his long night in the willow. But eventually he goes for it. And now we see Fuzz is in the box, so he made it back the night before! Pretty quickly he follows Pally, not wanting to be left behind. Pally flies up to the top of the box while Fuzz honors his previous name and squeaks in the willow, too afraid to move but wanting to be near Pally. Eventually all three owls make their way to the top of the box and oh what a sight. Mom flies over seeing all her babies up there, proud as ever. Flappy shows them some wing flaps and head bobs and flies off to the wire. Fuzz flies back to the willow and crashes into the leaves. 

Then Pally from up top the box wants to try something new. He flaps his wings and jumps towards the wire on the phone pole. But another wire was right in the way and he smacks right into it with a very loud crash. Pally falls straight to the ground. Fuzz and Flappy stare down at him squawking away with concern! 

August 3 and 4
No Pally in sight but Steve hears three distinct calls.

August 5
Pally is seen!! He survived! All three birds are now flying around, getting more comfortable. They are all still practicing various moves - landing on a wire and sometimes not catching their balance and wobbling trying to stay on. Sometimes aiming to land on a wire and completely missing. Each night they go back to the box for feedings.

We see them outside of the box more and more but pretty soon they won’t go back to the box at all. 

We hoped they'd stay in the sycamore tree and make it their new home, but night after night they'd fly further from the box, and eventually we stopped seeing them altogether. They grew up in our yard, and now as adults they are feeding themselves, finding their mates, and with any luck will return to our box to raise their own families.

This was our favorite experience with nature ever, and we talk about our owl friends often. A highlight of Dwight Ranch that we will never forget.
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