Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Sounds of Summer

Young Katydid on Xhosa's Dream Herb blossom
When most people conjure up the sounds of a late summer's evening, they think of the endless repetition of field crickets scratching away, and remember that time when...

Sadly, I don't have crickets in my yard. Instead, I have katydids.  Closely related to grasshoppers and crickets (all three groups are considered part of "the night singing insects." Almost sounds like the name of a folk-rock band...), katydids look like whacked-out grasshoppers, only smaller and sweeter.

The most common katydid here is the Greater Angle-winged Katydid (microcentrum rhombifolium - could be the name for a new vitamin for dieters) and its call sounds nothing at all like "katy did".

If I'm lucky, I begin to see baby katydids in early spring, in shades of soft browns and greens.  Then they are veewy, veewy quiet.  But by full-on summertime - one very wet year, it took until early October - they begin to make noise.  Not loud the way crickets are, but kinda like a metallic clicking sound. Until you know what you are listening for, their call is somewhat hard to hear. But once you recognize the sound, you will hear it throughout the day and night, usually well into December.  And then you will think back to that time when...

Adult Katydid

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Volunteers of Oakland #1

I'm losing my most friendly and loyal and helpful garden volunteer. It's so sad for all of us here! Ben (right) and his family are moving away this week.

Most of the time Ben is out and about playing with the other kids on the block. (Yes, the helmet is absolutely critical because of the outrageous vehicular - trikes and scooters - traffic on the street.  Or rather, on the sidewalk.  For these drivers, "sharing the road" is still a very airy concept.  Heaven help us when they graduate to machines that only start with keys.)

But when Ben has had enough of riding, or the older kids are across the street (he's not allowed to cross the street without an adult, and he deeply respects that rule.  As a kid, I don't know that I would have been able to stay behind...), then, well, then I have a helper.

We knuckle down and get straight to work. Watering. The onions, the sunflower (yes, singular, and not even blooming yet - completely piss-poor germination this year), the basil, the rosemary, my pants, his shoes and anything else within range. Occasionally Ben's younger brother Leo gets involved too, and then we all practice that vital life skill: taking turns.

Once they're gone though, who's going to help me with all my yard work?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Brag, Brag, Brag #3: Kathleen Hawkes

Kathleen Hawkes, our niece who has just signed up to be a professor of photography at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, has been living in Fiji for the past five-plus months, compliments of the Fulbright Program.

While there, Kate's been working on a photography project looking at contemporary life and domestic space in the South Pacific.  (As a punk kid, Kate and her family lived in Western Samoa for a year.  For her, the big disappointment of that trip was that they weren't able to live in a grass hut.) 

We tend to think of Fiji as a place for a romantic get-away, which I'm sure it is. Gorgeous landscape there. There being an archipelago of over 330 islands, not near anybody else except for a bunch of other islands - not only is Fiji "down under" but "sorta off to the right somewhere" as well.

Approximately 850,000 Fijians live and work on the islands. And they have normal everyday problems just like everyone else - fishing to do, families to raise and homes to rebuild on stilts now because of flooding.  Hmm...

Kate's camera has documented all of these activities.  Her blog Pacific Island Nation features some of what she has been working on while in Fiji.  And her professional  website shows even more goodies.

So, if you're thinking of visiting Fiji any time soon, let me know.  I think I have someone who can show you around....

Photos courtesy of Kathleen Hawkes

Friday, August 3, 2012

Updates: #1

Some days it seems that nothing is ever going to be different or finished or at least picked up and dusted.  But looking back, occasionally there is positive motion (I refuse to call it "progress"). For example:

The Zucchini Sex Goddess has had remarkable success this summer.  If only "she" could wave her cotton swab and make the tomatoes ripen as well.

Michael Reardon has a number of pieces in a group show at the Thomas Reynolds Gallery in San Francisco (one painting already sold!).

Kathy Kenny will again be at the Oakland Art Murmur on August 3rd.  She sold seven of her lovely handmade jewelry pieces last month.

Two large bags of corks stopped being passengers with me - they had enough driving time completed that they were eligible to take their driving test(s) - and filled up the bin at BevMo last week.

Photo by Ann Rubin
The deadline for sending handmade woolen goods to afghans for Afghans has almost arrived (August 15th), and the response has been wonderful. On Tuesday afternoon I helped pack up nine hundred hats to arrive in time to keep school children warm this winter in Afghanistan.

Peter Nicks, the director of The Waiting Room was interviewed on the PBS NewsHour on July 18th.  We saw the film at the Temescal Street Theater in June.  Hats off to the Street Theater organizers!  Actually, it was so cold that night that you would have kept your hat on (or wished you had borrowed one from afghans for Afghans) and wondered why you didn't bring your gloves and scarf, too.  For information on future screenings of The Waiting Room near you, click here.

And lastly, Princess is back in the pink!