Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Was that an earthquake?

The rains are back.

After a dry January, the rains started about 2 weeks ago. We got about 10 inches over Valentine's Day weekend, and it's been raining on and off ever since. The ground is like chocolate pudding, and everything is green and alive.

When we started getting ready for bed Sunday evening, our driveway looked more or less like this:

As we were winding down for the night, we heard a low rumble and the front of the house started shaking.

“Earthquake!” I thought as I scrambled for the nearest doorway.

“That tree's down!” reported the children from the sliding glass door.

It didn't look like a big tree when it was in the ground, maybe 70 feet tall and between 2 and 3 feet thick at the base. Some of the douglas firs across the street are 8 feet thick and substantially taller, and, of course, the redwoods get bigger than that.

Spread out across the driveway, however, it was big enough:

It took out two fences (but not the posts) and a couple of retaining walls, but managed to avoid doing any serious damage. Once Garry had cleared away a few of the branches, we were even able to get our cars out.

Sombrito thought the newly upturned soil smelled very interesting.

And Malcolm ventured off for a walk in the woods.

Bricks from the walk were sprayed all around, and one of the boards from the retaining wall was flung 15 feet from its original location.

Tree cutters stopped by to offer their services, and the neighbors came over to survey the damage and lend a hand.

We have a start on next winter's fuel supply anyway.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Venus and Mars in Opposition

15 February 2005

Yesterday was one of those lovely Hallmark holidays. On Sunday, the boys and I made fancy valentine cookies. Malcolm was the child most into making valentines this year, and we have lacy hearts scattered around the house. Remus John pretended to be Cupid John, shooting everyone with his little plastic coat hanger bow. He delivered valentines for people, and we made a great show of falling in love with one another whenever we were shot.

I decided to forgo the romantic candlelit dinner in favor of water aerobics. When it comes to atmosphere, water aerobics has it all -- soft lighting, intimate apparel, mood music, good company. Plus, you get a good workout.

I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few odds and ends. I shop at this store twice a week, but I've never seen it like this before. The place was swarming with men, especially the card and flower displays. I was practically the only woman in the store.

I got my prosaic groceries (snap peas, string cheese, cereal, mushrooms, pepperoncinis, french bread, and laundry soap) surrounded by men carrying roses, chocolates, and bottles of wine.

Over the cheese display, I commented that I had never seen so many men at the grocery store.

"I didn't forget!" the bearded guy snapped, rolling his cart away.


I mentioned the gender balance to the checker.

"Hey," he said, "these guys are all regulars. It's safe to turn them loose with a grocery list."

He conceded, however, that it was extremely unusual to see so many men in the grocery store. He then treated me to a diatribe against Valentine's Day, how it was all about men doing things for women. Being long opposed to the guilt aspect of Hallmark holidays myself, I appreciated this, but I could not resist needling him.

"What's wrong? Did your honey forget Valentine's Day?"

"She dumped me a week ago."

I commiserated in a maternal sort of way, and he told me that he'd be all right. It was just making him a tad bitter.

A young woman took my groceries out to the car. On the way out, I commented on what a shame it was that the checker's girlfriend dumped him.

"He probably deserved it," she said darkly.

No wonder roses have thorns and Cupid shoots arrows. Valentine's Day is a major engagement in the war between the sexes.