Friday, May 25, 2007

Decoration Day

Memorial Day has become merely "the three-day weekend which marks the start of summer." But I remember veterans visiting cemeteries, and the vast veteran's cemetery near the intersection of Wilshire Blvd. and Sepulveda Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Today, I learned of a group that helps support the survivors of soldiers killed during their service careers. No Greater Love

You can send them an email of support (or ask them how to donate funds) to

Most Saturday nights, after I leave my group of quilting friends, I drive home past the Lafayette BART Station, and see a hillside full of crosses, crescents, stars, and other memorials to U.S. soldiers fallen in Iraq. The video I took is too large, so I will find a place to post it, and then come back and revise this message.

And I don't know the significance of the three tiny crosses in the center front.

-- Rachel

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lizard Info

Seems it was an alligator lizard, a species native to northern California. They _can_ bite, so I guess I'm glad this one didn't.

   The California Herps website has some good information and lots of clear photos. This shot of a San Francisco alligator lizard (note that this one is brown, while the one I saw was quite greenish) was taken by Gary Nafis.

If I ever see another one in a space as unsuitable as a parking lot, I will capture it, put it in a safe container overnight, and drop it off in Golden Gate park or somewhere similar, free of cars.

-- Rachel

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sad postscript: no more lizard

My co-worker Bill reported seeing the lizard, dead in the parking lot, having been killed by a parking car. -- Rachel

Lizard in the Office Parking Lot

At first he tried to hide against the side of the building.

Then he turned to face me, and ran across the driveway.

I tried to "herd" him back to the building, since it seemes like a safer place for him to be. At one point, we both just stood there, and then he astonished me by walking towards me, and climbing up my foot and finally up my leg to about my knee. I began to slowly walk back across the driveway, and he stayed on my leg for most of the trip. Eventually he turned around and walked back down my leg (I was wearing jeans), and went back to a sunny pad of concrete. When I came back later, he was gone, and I haven't seen him since.

Can anyone tell me what kind of lizard this one, and what is its normal habitat? Thanks.

-- Rachel

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bike to Work Day

I actually biked to work today. No excuses for anybody -- I have the rattiest bike and helmet in the world. Here's my helmet, with its visor held on by a combination of double-sided sticky tape and this amazing, non-sticky tape (the purple stuff, if you look closely) that only sticks to itself and is slightly stretchy. I think the Clotilde catalog sells it, and so do some hardware stores.

I am always careful to wear my velcro ankle bands made of reflective tape, when I cycle. They're at eye-level for cars, and I'm convinced they make me more visible to drivers.

-- Rachel

Friday, May 11, 2007

New Car for Me

The interoffice email said, "Free car...will need a clutch...first come, first served." I phoned. I had my mechanic check out the car. "It'll need a clutch in a few months," he confirmed. I'm registering it right away, and I've already added it to my car insurance policy. A huge thank you to my generous co-worker, Billy Bicket.

-- Rachel

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Plant sale purchases

I went to the sale on Saturday (it turned out the Friday night sale was only for members of the Botanic Garden), and came away with four plants: a golden currant (which is supposed to actually bear fruit, plus have beautiful yellow flowers in spring), an erodium -- a small tufty plant with white flowers that have dark pink veins, a sort of iris that has blue flowers, and a white cistus (non-thorny, non-scented roselike flower).

The helpfulness of the garden volunteers at the sale was just amazing. No sooner did you pick up a plant, than a volunteer would appear at your elbow, offering to carry it to a safe place for later pickup. When you were ready to pay, you went to the pickup place and verified the plants they had set aside for you, and collected a slip of paper with the prices. Then a volunteer would ferry the plants on a wagon to the garden exit, where you could pick them up by showing your "paid" slip. If you wanted to load plants into your car, there was an extremely efficient system for waving you to a special section of curb and bringing you the box of plants you'd purchased. Everybody was friendly, too, not just efficient -- they seemed really glad to see you planning to use native plants in your garden.

As Californians become more water-conscious, using plants that don't need summer watering makes sense.

-- Rachel