So photos!

To begin with, here’s the tank early on, as a reference point.

earlier tank

Lots of nice plants started, and the first fish. So here’s the tank now.

whole tankwhole tank 2

So, more fish…. and the plants are thriving. Basically the whole back of the tank is a jungle. These guys are doing well now too.

algae eater

In the middle is the Algae Eater, one of two. He used to be the same size as these guys.

oci guys

The guys hanging onto the glass are the Oci cats. Poor Algae eaters used to school with them, and it used to be just the hanging on the glass thing that set them apart, but now they are about twice as big. They mostly just lurk in the greenery, munching algae. And these guys also lurk back there – I only ever see them when I feed them.

better gourami

Hard to believe it, but you simply cannot see him when he’s back behind the plants. Weird.

Someone else who is hard to see – and I can’t get a photo of him – is the BABY MINNOW. Lurker was over, and she saw him. He’s still mostly just pale, but I think he’s another of the golden fish. And I think he’s big enough to be past the eat-on-sight stage, so he’s probably safe from the big guys. Instead of being like 1/4 inch long, and looking like a pair of eyes, he’s more than 1/2 inch, and really looks like a little fish.

For all I know, there could be dozens of them back there. EEK!

EDIT: It’s not a baby minnow. It’s a baby albino catfish!

So, it’s been a while

I keep getting distracted, and time slips by.

What’s new?

The fish tank is chugging along now. There was a terrible pea soup algae situation which I finally resolved with a very fancy new filter/uv light gadget. Basically all the water passes though a tube with a uv light, and it zaps the single-celled beastie’s dna, and voila, no green water. Apparently it also kills of a wide range of fish pathogens, so it is full of win, but does mean I’m stuck with a filter. The water quality is consistently great although the tank is densely populated, so the plants are definitely doing a great job.

And, surprisingly, all the plants and fishes and snails and shrimp survived the algae overload.

…wait, the shrimp? Yes, I have five Ghost Shrimp. They are really weird, and I’m not sure I like them. I have to work very hard not to think cockroaches when I watch them. But if I can avoid the eek-an-insect reaction, they are different from the fishes, and cool to watch. Mostly they hide under one of the rocks, but sometimes I’ll see them ghosting delicately about in the plants.

Still no fry from the Golden Minnows. Maybe they have attempted something I missed. I think, though, that the Neon Tetras are likely to scarf up any baby fishes that appear, so if I wasn’t right on top of a hatching I doubt I’d see the fry. After all, it took me weeks to finally see the shrimp. I put them in the tank and they vanished. There is a forest of greenery in there at this point and anything could be in there. Heck, for a day or two I was wondering whether I’d somehow lost the two-inch disc-shaped gouramis, but it turns out they are just really well camouflaged by the weeds.

What else? The Siamese Algae Eaters have doubled in size. They just focus on each other, fortunately, so it doesn’t matter that they are big guys. They swim differently than the other fish do, hovering in place like humming birds, their fins whirling away. And they are faster than anything else in the tank, so they add a bit of flash. I’m becoming fond of them

I also have lots and lots of snails, and I need them. Keeping all the plants going has a side effect of encouraging algae growth on many surfaces. This isn’t the stuff that floats in the water, so the filter doesn’t effect it. Most of them are Nerite snails. They are largish – about 3/4 of an inch in diameter – and colorful, and best of all, they won’t reproduce in fresh water. So total win. Some are brown and red and reminiscent of pottery, and some are yellow and black like little bumble bees. I also have some ramshead snails that, unfortunately, do reproduce. But since I think they are the ones doing the lion’s share of the algae cleaning, I don’t regret them. But I do fish out the ones I see on a constant basis. Even so, they reproduce so skillfully, and there are so many hiding places for them, that all I am doing with this is preventing truly exponential population growth. I doubt I could eliminate them all, no matter how many I remove, especially since anything I’d introduce to get rid of them would do in my Nerite snails as well. But mostly I am liking to see them all, Nerites and ramsheads, busily at work polishing the tank walls and plants, so that’s okay.

The corys are thriving. They hang about in little packs, rooting among the gravel and plants. They have lots of sheltered areas under rocks and driftwood and plants, and they sit there in piles. They are also given to swimming around in groups of five to nine or so. It looks fun. The pandas are my favorites, being smaller and more enthusiastic somehow. I also have some albinos. They are larger, and given to uprooting plants. They also seem somehow morose. Pretty, though, against all the green. And there are a dozen ocis as well, vacuuming up algae like mad, and hanging about by their mouths. They have little round stomachs from all the algae, and seem content. They are also given to randomly resting upside down, which is oddly endearing. A bit goofy.

So it is all very busy in there, and – knock on wood – nothing seems about to crash.

Fish are Dating in my Aquarium

I was looking at the Golden White Cloud Minnows, and some of them were looking lumpy. I was worried, so I looked up fish diseases, vaguely remembering fish can get something called dropsy where they swell up. But it isn’t, and they all look perfectly healthy, just lumpy around the stomach.

So they are just full of eggs. Way more than half of them. It’s hard to tell because they school so skillfully that I can’t get a count. Or even be sure of their gender – the egg-packed ones are females, but are the others males, or just immature females? Are there any males? Well, it would simplify things a bit if they were all females, but it seems a bit much to hope for.

I thought that I’d checked it out and the minnows were not all that easy to breed before I bought them. There was a lot about raising temperatures and then dropping them to imitate seasons. Soft water. Lots of details. It should have been really difficult to get it all started. I don’t want a population explosion.  But here we are, a whole little band of egg-packing minnows. Apparently when they finally get around to it, they will spawn on top of some plants. At that point, probably the snails or the other fish will nom on the eggs and hatchlings, I hope efficiently.

At least, so far I’m not seeing courting behavior among the non-swollen-with-eggs fish. The boys are supposed to start displaying to each other, and showing off. In fact, all I see is the lumpy females playing chase with each other. Who knows what’s going on. Maybe I have a lesbian minnow commune here. Who knows?

Probably they shouldn’t use particle board for SUPPORT BEAMS

I wouldn’t live in ANY of the new Berkeley construction, not for free, not if they paid me.–Not-For-Our-Kids-Not-in-Our-Backyard–Becky-O-Malley

How To Make Your Own Relentlessly Gay Yard Lights

So here’s the math

So here’s the official word on the “overloading” of the balcony:

Questions have also been raised about whether the deck, which measures about 4.5 feet by 8.9 feet (4’-5¾” x 8’-10¾”), was overcrowded and that, perhaps, the weight of the young people on it contributed to its collapse.The deck was constructed to 1988 code standards, which required it to hold 60 pounds per square foot, according to Chakko. That meant the balcony should have been able to support at least 2,391 pounds, which is more than the 13 students standing on it would have weighed, assuming an average weight of 150 pounds (total of 1,950 pounds).

It has no bearing on the tragedy

“Segue Construction, the Library Gardens general contractor, was involved in two San Francisco Bay Area lawsuits in recent years involving allegations of dry rot and substandard balconies at condo and apartment projects in Millbrae and San Jose. Among other things, Segue was accused of improperly waterproofing balconies.

Both cases were settled in 2013 with Segue, developers and other parties agreeing to pay millions of dollars.

Segue spokesman Sam Singer said such litigation is common on large projects and “has no bearing on the tragedy” in Berkeley.”

Six dead kids, and life-threatening injuries in others

I heard the noise it made, last night, and the sirens. I’m balanced on that awful edge between horror and anger. The fuckers. the damned corrupt fuckers, they’ve managed to kill six kids. For stupid bloody profit, a quick buck. As you can see here, the folks that built this travesty took their money and ran long ago:–By-Richard-Brenneman

So now it’s corporate shell game time! Trace the money, Lay the blame! Find the culprit! The original developer here:

“DeClercq said a top-notch contractor built Library Gardens and used “the best steel guy in California.” DeClercq couldn’t immediately remember the name of the contractor (he was in shock) but said the company was located in Point Richmond and used union labor.”It was a reputable local general contractor. They hired the best steel and concrete subcontractors. It was a very strong team.””

I’m not really sure where those best steel and concrete workers did their thing, though, since the photos of the fallen balcony show rotted wooden beams that simply broke off. It shouldn’t have been built like that; it should have been better maintained, but, heck, our Planning and Permit department is funded solely by developer fees, and this thing made a lot of money for a lot of people. The guy who headed Planning when this went through retired, and he now contracts with developers to “help” them get their projects okayed by the city. The only rein on development here is citizen outrage, and the city is pretty good at ignoring that. Enforcement is a joke: there’s an unpermitted, uninspected, and totally illegal wooden rooftop deck atop a three-story house a block from here that zoning knows all about. It’s been there about four years now. I hope it doesn’t just slide off one of these days – and that builder is working on literally a half-dozen other projects – Planning loves his stuff. It’s the wild west.

The comment sections on the news articles – god help us – abound in blame for the silly students. Thirteen of them out on a balcony, obviously just asking for it. Welp, the thing was 5 X 10, according to the BBC, and it had French doors opening out onto it. Silly them thinking it was solid and meant to be used. Guess that’ll learn ’em! Because, god knows, an eight-year-old balcony in an EXPENSIVE building can’t be expected to hold anything more than a stored bike, I guess.

Some of the comments also assume the students were dancing or jumping – though I think most likely they were out there smoking. Yes, the building manager did say he thought perhaps the balcony had fallen because maybe the kids had been jumping or something. But that was just an idea he had. He wasn’t there; he saw and heard nothing; he knew nothing. I mean, he is a paid manager, and there was a party there loud enough that the police were called, but he hadn’t gone to deal with it. He had no special knowledge of what was happening before the thing fell. Because lousy management is a complete package – all complaints – noise, maintenance – are equally ignored. That guy was just talking through his hat, trying to imagine what could have made a piece of his building fall off. He might as well have said sunspots. But just tons and tons of comments blaming the kids. People just suck sometimes.

Our fearless leader mayor hasn’t made any comment yet, not even a simple condolence. I guess it is all difficult, given that he is totally committed to making Berkeley more like Manhattan – what a great idea! He’s announced a news conference for later today, but for now he’s been busy with other concerns:

Berkeley city officials have shut down access to public records regarding the construction of the apartment complex, which was completed in January, 2007. Normally, they would be viewable upon request but zoning office staff cited a pending police investigation and request by the Berkeley city manager that the records not be made immediately available.” [L.A. Times]

The guy’s gotta have priorities, you know. Quick, a broom! Lift the rug! We should be able to cover up all this crap if we get right on it. I mean, what the hell did they build this thing from anyway? A neighbor remembers seeing the OCB supplies sitting out in the (pre-drought) rain, and being concerned that they were going in already waterlogged. Now I’m wondering whether the whole thing will just collapse into a pile of sludge if we ever get regular rains again. I guess that’s why the developers sell these things as fast as they can – hot potato time – cash out before it falls apart! Dang, these things make the 1960 crackerbox buildings look solid by comparison. The thing is, they’ve been throwing up dozens of these crappy buildings all over town – hundreds and hundreds of units. And lots of the buildings have pretty little balconies and other decorative outcroppings.  I’m wondering how many deathtraps are out there right now.

And now there are fish in it!

It’s still a work in progress. I’m still fiddling around with the lights – there’s a fancy programable light coming Friday, so it will turn on and off on its own. And maybe more plants. But the bones of it are set, and probably this is it for fish.

full tank

So that’s the tank, with the golden minnows and the neons hanging out up in the clear top space. That’s pretty much what these guys do. Mostly they clump in schools by kind, but sometimes they all swim together in one big pack. And there are these guys:

2 gourami

That’s a pair of dwarf blue gouramis, two males. They are said to be gentle with other fish, but get aggressive and territorial with each other. I crossed my fingers, though, and got two. After all, the tank is pretty big, and all planted up, and it seems to be okay. At first they did a little fancy displaying at each other, and a couple of times one of them shoved the other. But since then they’ve taken to the opposite sides of the tank. They make the occasional quick foray into each other’s bit, and sometimes they meet each other in the middle, when there is food to be chased after. But all they do is swim about a bit, then settle into their respective corners. So here one is escorting the other back across the middle of the tank. Mostly they just sit in their own plants and swirl around.

And this is the best shot I can get of the corys. Silly things are always either zipping around really fast, or sleeping under the plants.


Here they are turning about, getting ready for another dash across the tank. They bop about in groups – I’ve seen as many as nine of the twelve of them in a pack. Or else they just sit on the bottom, making me me think maybe they’ve died. One or the other. This lot are babies, and rather adorable. They’ll be about twice as big when they’re grown.

So that’s the tank. Still being ignored by cats.

Moar little fishes

I added a half-dozen panda corys. They are a little disoriented. There were like forty of them in the pet store tank. So in my bigger, all planted up tank they can actually lose track of each other. I think I have to get more.

But it is so cute – the golden minnows keep coming down into the plants and staring at them.

And fishtank update

I got a lot of different kinds of plants. I’m sort of thinking I may even do a second tank later, so I could use these to propagate plants for it. See, that makes splurging on them now practically fiscally responsible, right?

Well, anyway, the tank is now properly set-up with a layer of potting soil, then gravel, then very generously planted and filled with water. The new LED light came, and it is pretty nifty. For one thing, it stays cool. Also, in theory, I can program it to turn off and on, but it isn’t being simple. The directions say  I press the set button and I get a green light and start setting on and off times, except that I don’t get a green light. Sigh. I will work on it some more later, because it would be convenient to not have to fuss with it, but for now it turns off and on just fine so we are go.

I did a number of water changes when the first lot of water picked up a yellowish tinge from the soil, and now it seems over that. We’re not down to zero ammonia yet, but the planted-tank gurus tell me I can go straight to adding all my fish – the plants theoretically gobble up the ammonia. Instead I’m being wimpy and treating it like cycling a new tank, and so adding fish gradually, watching the water chemistry and planning on some more water changes if needed.

I did get a bunch of golden white cloud minnows, and they are hanging out comfortably, doing fish stuff.


So ten of these guys. Mostly they just school around, except that there is always one fish that isn’t sticking with the crowd. I can’t tell yet whether it is always the same one guy, or whether the outlying fish thing is a rotating position. But it is cool to see them exploring.

If things seem stable, I may add some more fish over the weekend. I just don’t quite know to what extent I really Believe in the experts and all. We’ll see how it goes with these guys in place. At this point I’m thinking ultimately these minnows, a bunch of maybe miniature corys, and than a school of cardinal tetras, after I’m sure the tank is working. Then also maybe something else, maybe a betta or maybe a couple gouramis. I think I’ll hold off on things that tend to multiply until I have a second tank available. Maybe.

And maybe I will set up a betta in a small tank on the table, since Tom seemed a bit unhappy that I moved the fish tank over to the window. It would give him something to interact with in the mornings. But when I look up bettas online, it says the fish likes to be quite warm, but then I see them in stores at room temperature. Hmmm. It would be easier to set him up there if he only needed a light, but I wouldn’t want to be treating him poorly.

No rush on that, though, since I don’t want to overwhelm Tom with fish, but I think he might like a small betta tank, like five gallons?, with a light and plants. Maybe when I’ve got this one all set. And I’m not yet discussing a possible second tank in dining room at this point….

There was this accident

I had a fish tank. For years. Your basic tropical fish, sitting on the kitchen table so you can watch them over your coffee. Or they can watch you. I’d been ignoring it, rather, for a while, but once you set up a tank and it is chugging along, it doesn’t take much for it to keep going. I’d been thinking for a while that I might just pack it in, so I was just waiting out the last fish in it, who were starting to get elderly. Then the heater went wacky, and killed them all. I came down in the morning to find an absurdly warm tank with my last six fish all dead. Sigh.Thinking about it, I realize I’d bought the thing in like 1995, so it isn’t astonishing that it failed. Still, I would have imagined a heater that broke would just stop working, rather than the thermostat failing to turn it off. It made me really sad. So I think all this might be guilt. Anyway, I’ve cleared away the old tank entirely, and I’m starting over. New, bigger tank (thanks, Criagslist!), and an entirely different set-up. This time I’m going to try setting up a Walstad tank: method. I’ve always had a rather planted up tank, but method supports the plants better, and generally uses less chemicals/machinery. Basically, running with this method you have a tank full of plants, with fish, being a little eco-system where the plants are consuming the fish waste and there is no need for an external filter. We will see. Now I’m waiting for the new light to arrive – LED, cheaper to run and programable, so the plants remain really happy – and to get some more plants before I start adding fish. Also I’m putting it right at the kitchen window to make use of the sunlight as well. Once I get some fish, there will be photos! Though there won’t be anything too fancy. Too many of the coolest fish end up getting really big. Instead I tend to like mostly smaller, and fortuitously relatively cheaper fish: platies, mollys, corys, and sometimes even guppies. The kind of guys that hang out together and seem less bored. So I am back in the fish tank biz – R.I.P. little previous corys. I I

I haz a rain barrel!

Though, of course, it isn’t raining here these days. But I have plans. It’s taken days to set up, but so far here’s what seems to be working.

I threaded a hose underneath the sink out the same hole as the drain pipe, to empty into the barrel. At the top I’ve got it attached to what used to be the faucet of a small drink dispenser that is now sitting in the sink. This way I can just rinse things directly over it, and drain the (relatively) clean water out to the barrel. Many people just toss rinse water out the back door, but you can’t really reach any plants easily from there, and it scares the cats. The little dribbles will add up and eventually water stuff along the side of the house.

I’ve also got a hose with a funnel set up by the tub, and I’m hoping I can syphon cleanish water into it. For now it just drains directly onto the other side yard.

Maybe I can keep things relatively green. Maybe. We shall see.

Another rain barrel is in the works, to go in the laundry room and capture rinse water. I’m thinking I can thread a hose out where the dry vent goes through the wall. That’s for the back yard.

This drought really, really, sucks.

Useless cats

That’s pretty much what we have at this point.

Nikki is locked in now, because we kept getting calls from people worried about him wandering around out in a busy street. That and two unexplained major injuries that I sincerely hope were accidents. So he’s in, but sulking. And — cats have their own rules on these things — he appears to think he’s not allowed to sit with us, and instead beds down in the front hall where he can pounce on the other cats at 2am.

Sextus is also locked in, but he keeps escaping. When he’s outside he reverts to feral and won’t let anyone come near, and it takes days and days to get him back in. Then he sleeps on my face for two days straight, because indoors he is my cat. I think maybe something is off in his brain.

Sisko and Doc have their own code for asking to go in and out, and seem to be reasonable enough in their comings and goings to be okay. Sisko just wants to sit on the front porch and watch people go by.

Wolfie watches for the door when Doc or Sisko are coming and going, and comes in to nap and visit. He’s a very satisfactory little kitty.

Habibi is a drama queen and attacks the door viciously to indicate her desires. She used to sit on my lap in my chair, but seems to have forgotten how.

And the visiting feral, Loper, sits in his cat bed by the front door, getting patted around 1am. I also feed him, but about half the time he ignores it, and it ends up going to the possum I refuse to consider a pet. (Possum is willing.)

But I shouldn’t call them useless, because someone gifted me with a rat yesterday. Probably Sextus and Doc working together.

It suddenly turned back into winter

It even rained today (YAY), and will rain again in a couple of days, they tell us.

The house is cold.

The couch is filled with cats. They aren’t really buddies, so they are equally spaced, all curled up with the comfy blanket in individual nests.

Guess who can’t find a spot to sit now?

I’m going to try to be here more often

It’s just, mostly, life, with a side of laziness, of course.

But I am going to make an effort to pick up all the dropped stitches and carry on. A lot of distractions have lessened, so it’s time to get organized, decide the things that matter to me, and get at them again.

I have a fair amount of updating to do. Sair and her girlfriend Alex got married here, in August. I’ll do a separate post for that later, but for now I’ll just say it was a lot of work, and wonderful fun, and they were beautiful, the ceremony was beautiful, and I am utterly impressed with Sair’s new family. I just wish they weren’t on the opposite side of the world.

I did scads and scads of cleaning and fussing with the house for that – we put up a good half-dozen out-of-town twenty-somethings on couches and floors. Again, great fun, and I’d be happy for them all to come back again sometime. Except maybe I’d want to add another bathroom first. I did a lot of work making the backyard a more welcoming space, but with the drought I can’t really landscape it much. Maybe there will be rain next winter. Maybe.

Nikki the Adventure Cat made a miraculous return from his Odysseus-like travels. It’s a bit difficult fitting him into the current cat family, but slow improvements are coming.

I’ll get into more detailed posts anon, this is just sticking my toe in to test the waters.

Pic of the Day – 10/10/14

gad, cool, or what!

Check Your Premises

Cleopatra’s underwater palace off the shore of Alexandria, Egypt.

Cleopatras underwater palace-Egypt

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Wild Food: How To Make Acorn Meal

so cool

Check Your Premises

It’s that time of year, so this is worth a re-post:

A year ago, our neighbors the Groths gave us some acorn meal they’d made from wild-gathered acorns. I vowed to try it myself the following fall. It’s turned out very well. It’s even better (we think) than last year’s. The process is not complicated at all.

First, you’ll need to gather acorns. This part is fun. It’s like an Easter egg hunt. Starting in early October, look under large, mature oak trees. The green ones are freshest, but there should be acorns in all shades of green turning to brown. They should feel heavy for their size, and cool to the touch. If they’re black, they’re last year’s acorns and too old.


Discard any ones that have pinholes or rotten tops:


Also discard any that have obvious cracks in them:


Some will look perfect on the outside, but are…

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Well, that’s not okay

The good news is that the dishwasher I wanted was in stock and is here.

The bad news is that I can’t use it yet.
As the installation guy finished up and was leaving he told me that the cap on the t-pipe at the sink drain was cracked and had been leaking, but he didn’t have one with him so he wouldn’t fix it.
When I’d cleaned out under the sink so he could work, there had, indeed, been signs of a slow drip.
I’d had to throw out one box of wax paper that was a little damp.
So I figured, slow leak, I’ll get the plumber by to fix it.
Now that I think of it, though, he did say that since he’d handled it, it might get worse.

But, slow leak, I decided to go ahead and run the dishwasher, because I had a sink full of dishes.
When I emptied out the cups and things that had been soaking, suddenly I am standing in water because the leak is no longer anything like slow.
So far as I can tell, everything is coming straight out onto the floor.
So my guess is that the “might get worse” means that when he tested the dishwasher it leaked floods and he knew it, but didn’t feel like putting any more time into the job.
So I called, and my plumber is coming by at 8am.
He was – reasonably enough – a little puzzled at why a guy installing dishwashers didn’t have the relevant part and was willing to leave things broken.
The reason I have a t-joint under there is that the previous dishwasher installation guy put it in.
You know, in order to install the thing.
Or, even if he didn’t have one, why he didn’t just get on at the major plumbing supply store literally around the corner from my house.

At that point, considering the $$$$ all this had cost, only to leave me not only with no dishwasher, but also now with no sink, I got crabby enough to call the store and complain.
It’s a local place that I’ve gotten appliances from for years and years – three apartments worth of fridges, and washers, and dryers! – and I’ve never had any kind of problem with them before this.
Their installations, though, are handled by an outside guy, and this is a new and different contractor, who has only been with them for a year -I know this because I made small talk at him, briefly, before I got out of his way.
Anyway, the store guy didn’t seem to think it sounded okay either, and he called the guy to come back by and fix it.
Sounds good.
But when the installation guy called, first he gave me a lot of attitude – “You said you had a plumber, and that’s the sink pipe and not the installation.”
Of course, before he touched my sink pipe I didn’t have any real problem there, and he didn’t tell me I had major flooding when he left.
As I pointed out.
And then, second, when he told me he could be there in half an hour (having mysteriously acquired the part), he also told me he would charge another $50 dollars for the work – on top of the $185 he’d already gotten.

Sooooo, nope.
I told him no thanks, and that I was done dealing with him.
Even though my plumber will probably cost more, just no.

I called the store back to tell them I was unwilling to pay the guy to come back to finish his job, and expressed a lot of unhappiness about the whole thing.
The guy that says for my plumber to call them when he comes by in the morning, and that they will work something out with their installation guy.
So, I don’t know what the upshot of it all will be, but I don’t have a sink or a dishwasher until stupid o’clock in the morning, since that’s when my plumber (who is a hero) is squeezing me in.
(He says, “Oh that, that will take no time.”)
So maybe they will pay for some of my plumber’s cost.

Actually I had planned to ask the guy about installing a vent for my stove as long as he was here.
Just he seemed a bit grumpy, and that before all the drama.
It’s just that when I was at the store, I was talking to their salesperson about it (after paying for the dishwasher), and picking up the price lists and all.
I really want to finish painting the kitchen, but I gave up partway when I realized that even as I was working on the ceiling it was getting cooking dirt on the new paint.
Apparently, though, now the things can be routed down and out through the basement rather than up through a bedroom, and that means I can get one.
Except that it is the same installation company, and I frankly don’t want him in the house again.
I wonder whether my regular contractor guy knows how to install those things.

How’s Things?

I’m back, sorta, but basically 2013 was just a crappy year.
I just noticed, though, that it is 2014, and I am committed to it being better.
If so, I need to get on the case then, since it is already well-started.
Today, though, isn’t that great a day.

To being with, the dishwasher just died.
It’s lasted 19 years, with only one service call that I can remember, so I don’t think I can really complain.
(But I guess I am at that.)
I am basically replacing it with the same thing, but still there goes two day’s fussing that I hadn’t planned on, not to mention $$$ flying out the door, just to maintain the status quo.
On top of that, the house has somehow acquired a small population of flies that are driving me nuts.
I’ve gotten about half of them.
Even Habibi is sick of them, and won’t chase them anymore.
And I think I put Tom’s disabled parking placard into a mailbox, bundled in with a bunch of bills.
That kind of day.

On a happier note, I am off now to see whether I can find a reservable picnic space in Tilden Park that has redwoods or water or preferably both.
The reservable spaces I’m familiar with up there are mostly just meadows, but there are lots and lots of them so maybe there is one that will do.
I’m taking a camera so that I can send off photos and other people can decide.
I have been discovering that most of the pretty outside places where one (read Sair) could have a marriage ceremony are run by entities who want to have you have a real wedding, with processions and fancy clothes, and charge you upwards of $1200 just to be there, with hidden charges galore.
Sair just wants a pretty place for some photos and a party.
I think the suggestion of face painting was a joke? but that is a good measure of the degree of formality they are seeking.

Oh, so, yeah, Sair and Alex are getting married in August.
They are both in Canberra until mid-June, and the groundwork on setting things up pretty much has to happen now, pretty much by me.
What they’d really like would be something like a ceremony on the Marin Headlands, or Muir Woods or the like.
But (as Sair ought to remember as an August baby!) August in the Bay Area is generally foggy and cold, especially at the coast.
Besides which, we have a high proportion of people from here who don’t even have cars, not to mention a bunch of Alex’s Australian family members who will be jet-lagged and driving on the wrong side of the street and probably want to drink things too.
In addition to which, getting from Berkeley to the coast on a Saturday afternoon in the summer is hellish to begin with.
So that’s why I’m hoping Tilden has some good possibilities for us, even if it lacks an ocean.
The fallbacks are maybe the UC Botanical Garden, which will be pricey, and definitely not at all an informal venue, or possibly the Berkeley Rose Garden, which is a city park in Berkeley itself on a Saturday.
My sorta plan is that there is an early afternoon pretty outdoors thing with maybe champagne (snacks?) there, then back to the house (much cleaned) with a lot of food and more drinks, and hanging out with no bugs or time limits, and with real bathrooms and plates and such.
If this is okay with them, since it is their thing and they should have something they like.

And – good news! – apparently any resident of Alameda county can now take a short class and then be officially allowed to perform one ceremony.
So we wouldn’t have to go by some county office on the Friday to do paperwork, and have the celebration on Saturday.
And their marriage certificate can even have the day they want, and not the nearest weekday.
I don’t think it would be fair for me or Tom to do this, but there are a couple of people I can think of who would do a really good job.
I think they even have a good notion of who they want to ask, and that could be really nice.
This could actually come off.


Oh, that’s better

Habibi kitty had decided she could pee on the floor in the corner of the bathroom.
Ah ha, sez I, and I put a box there.
So one guess who won’t use that box.

Found in the news…. srsly?

Look out for warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease this holiday

By: Amy Lipman
Posted: Fri 6:16 PM, Dec 27, 2013

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The more holiday seasons spent with elderly loved ones, the more likely they are to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
“When adult kids and grandkids come home for the holidays, they start to notice some subtle changes perhaps in their parents and grandparents,” said Laurie Frasier, director of Senior Daybreak at Hilltop. “They notice that their memory isn’t what it used to be.”

I don’t think that first sentence means what you think it means.
Either that, or maybe you kids should stay home this year.

Hey, Some of You Peeps, WP Won’t Let Me Comment!

Like Laurie, and Jaypo.

I’m suspecting it has to do with posting privately, but there isn’t any point where it tells me I need to use a password, and it does let me see the post.


I am reading, and thinking of you.


He’ll Have His Own Show Next

Nikki is getting fan mail.
(There is a little gender confusion going on – everyone thinks he is a she?)

I went out to call him tonight, and saw a card on the kitty climbing structure out front
“Thank You,” it said on the front.

It had artwork too!


Dear Our-Address Resident,

I just wanted to thank you. Last night, when walking home from a final, your cat approached me and cheered me up greatly. I really appreciated her (sic) company, and she was a great comfort to me when I was feeling really low.

Your cat is incredibly sweet and I am very grateful that I could have met her at such an opportune time.

You are incredibly lucky to have such an affectionate, adorable, kind cat.

Once again, thank you.


Blake St. resident

It’s all true, of course, he is our little miracle kitty.



It’s so cold here,

So very cold,
That I have locked all the cats in the house, and sealed the cat door so as to keep some of the so-called heat in.
And it finally is heating up, slightly, and the cats are all settling in somewhat.
So here I sit being slightly warm, with scattered kitties adapting to all being inside – eek – all at the same time – eek, eek.
And out of the corner of my eye,


There goes the possum,
Getting all cozy in the warm.
You never really know who all are your pets….
But I do draw the line at possums.
Sigh, took ten minutes, with a lot of maneuvering under the kitchen table involving a broom and moving things around to create a clear path.
But poor boy is out in the cold again.
(There is a perfectly good crawlspace available, he’s okay.)