Monthly Archives: August 2007

Congratulations Dr. Brian May!

Anybody who knows our family knows we’ve all loved the band, Queen for decades. Over the years it’s been acknowledged that Queen‘s members – Freddie, John, Roger and Brian – were all very bright guys, and the latest proof of that is that Brian’s been awarded his PhD in Astrophysics.

Not bad for a hard rockin’ old guy, eh? (Brian turned 60 last month.) Congratulations to Brian from the Two Big Cats! (Collage via Brian’s website, copyright Jennie Waitt)

(An aside: Our boys grew up rockin’ to Queen and now Olivia loves them. On the recent trip to Tahoe, ‘Liv listened to our Queen collection on the iPod while riding up to Tahoe. When they arrived at the Lake, ‘Liv jumped out of the car and said, “Grandpa Cat, have you ever heard of Queen?” (and she meant it 🙂

A Penny Saved…

Sometime in the Winter of 2000, Joanne decided we need to bring a little balance to our feline – dominated household. She set off scouring various rescue centers looking for just the right dog to join us. Sunnyvale, Cupertino, San Jose – heck, no distance was too great.

One day she found a Border Collie mix at a local center and thought she might be a good match for us. Unfortunately, after spending a bit of time with the dog, Joanne felt the dog was too “clingy”.

Guess what happened next? Joanne mentioned to Hal there was a nice dog but that she seemed to clingy and they should pass on her. So what’s Hal do? Visits with the dog and immediately takes pity on her pleading eyes, scratching paws and leaning-post posture and says, “you can’t leave her here, she’s miserable.”

Hal’s since discovered those words translated to, “Let’s take her home where she can suffocate us with her clingy needs and we can be miserable.” Ah, good thinkin’. For the first couple of years our family nickname for her was “hemorrhoid” – you figure it out.

Pen’s been with us for 7 1/2 years now and over time, she’s gotten less needy. Doc Ueno figures she was a couple of years old when she came to us, so she’s coming up on 10 pretty soon – that makes her 3rd in line for succession to the “this is my house” crown.

Our Daphne

As some of you know, in her previous life, Joanne bred and trained dogs for many years; Hal had a number of companion dogs, too. (Cats came later when our youngest son wanted one.)

Our first blended-family dog was Daphne. Daphne was a wonderful little Cocker who came to us by way of a breeder in San Jose. When Daphne was a puppy, she used to follow Hal around wherever he went. In this photo, Hal was working on our Boston Whaler dive boat so that’s where Daphne had to be – on the rear-facing seat, watching the tanks being put into place, etc. Being the hard working puppy she was, once she made sure things were in order, Daphne was usually “checking for light leaks” (family code for sleeping) within a few minutes after settling down to watch the action. Not long after we moved into this house, Daphne suddenly passed away from an undiagnosed illness. We were absolutely crushed.

Because Daphne held such a special place in our hearts, when we acquired a piece of Italian sculpture from the De Young Museum in SF in 2001, we had the statue installed in our backyard by the dry stream bed and named her “Daphne”.

As you can see from this picture, Daphne is beautiful any time of day in any season.

Truth be told, though, we think she’s most beautiful when we wake in the early morning hours (say, 2 a.m.), there’s a full moon out and shining down on her – she’s absolutely luminescent.

The Two Big Cats

Someone mentioned to me the other day that it “would be nice” if we’d put more pictures up of the friends and creatures that fill our lives. While I wait for permission to use photos of our human friends, here are some of our animal companions along with a few of the backyard. Delilah is the cat on the top level, Pandora is in the lower frames.

11 years old this summer, Pandora is our most “mature” creature. Pan is just over 3′ 6″ long – nose to tip of her tail – and (back in good health once again) she weighs in at just under 18 pounds. (Last year when she was so ill, her weight fell to 12 pounds, 5 ounces.) Here are two pics of her: Close up and in the backyard during the Fall, playing under the apple tree while we work in the yard. As anybody who knows us knows, Pan’s gotta be about the best cat ever. Pan loves to be around humans, love to be held and have her tummy rubbed while being told in a soft voice how wonderful she is. Pan loves people and creatures of all types – she even goes with Hal to Farmer’s Market on Sundays. When they’re at the market she always draws a crowd and revels in the attention and affection she gets from the humans who beg for her attention. (what a hoot)

Next oldest in the pack – and Pan’s half-sister – is Delilah. Dee turned 10 this summer and like Pan, is just over 3′ 6″ inches long and (last we checked) she weighs in at just under 18 pounds. While she’s a wonderful creature in her own right, Dee is quite different in personality than Pan.

Dee’s much more comfortable spending time by herself. And although there are times when she’s extremely affectionate and cuddly with family members, all things considered, Dee would rather be alone, thank you very much. Here are two pics of Dee: Close up and a more typical “I can’t hear you, nyah nyah, nyah” cattitude pose.

In case you’re wondering, we don’t have favorites – they’re both wonderful creatures. We’re very lucky to have had their company for so long and we look forward to many more years over hangin’ with Pan and Dee. (You’ll read a great deal about them in the Legend.)

Neighborhood Transitions

Having been part of Campbell for just about 25 years now, we’ve observed a lot of changes take place over the years. Most of them have been changes for the better, but the truth is, some of them take a little more getting used to than others. Things like kids growing up and moving away to take what life offers them, neighbors moving on / new neighbors moving in and sadly, people we know whose life on earth have come to an end. Over the past month our little corner of the world saw each of those things happen.

Our young neighbor friend rolled up her goodies and headed off to university. We’ve only known her for 9 years, but during that time we had the pleasure of watching her grow from a friendly little girl to a bright and charming young lady. Those of us who happened to fall in her “universe” will miss seeing and chatting with her, but know that she’ll do great at school and we’re looking forward to hearing her stories over the holidays.

On the other end of life’s spectrum, we’ve lost a dear neighbor – someone who lived and raised her family in Campbell for many years. Again, we’ve only known her for 9 years but during that short time we’ve always been charmed by her bright personality and the pleasure she took her family. We’re saddened by her loss, but comforted that she’s in a better place now and, of course, we send our love to her family.

And finally, in a welcome bit of serendipity, former back-yard neighbors of ours have bought a house on Walnut Drive and so become our neighbors once again. Welcome home, J &V – we’re glad to have you back!

We be jammin’…

As everyone in our area knows, we’ve all had a pretty good fruit season this year. As if to put a fine point on that, over the weekend Joanne and I picked ~ 100 lbs of plums, ~ 40 lbs of apples and ~10 lbs of figs. From that, we’ve already made 15 cases of goodies for the holiday season:

  • 1 case of fig jam (still have a big bag of figs on the counter)
  • 2 cases of spiced pear jam
  • 2 cases of apple-pear chutney
  • 1 cases of plum conserve
  • 2 cases of applesauce
  • 4 cases of tart tangerine marmalade
  • 2 cases of tart orange marmalade
  • 1 case of blackberry jam
  • 1 gal of the best apple juice you’ve ever had. (thanks gala tree 🙂
  • … and much more to come (pomegranate, peach, more fig, lots more plum)

Because we can’t use all the fruit produced this year, this morning I donated 80 lbs of plums to Second Harvest. I think we’ll use most of the apples we picked this weekend, but expect we’ll donate at least 200 lbs in apples over the next month or so.

If you’re around and want fresh figs or apples, now’s the time to give us a call – plenty to go around.

There’s a fish in my tree!

I was talking with my brother about our neighborhood over the weekend. Mainly, I told him about how active with one another we tend to be: neighborhood bbq’s, house / pet watching, rides here and there, jam and jelly parties, etc… Walnut’s a lot like neighborhood’s many of us grew up in back in the 50’s and 60’s.

(Perfect example:
As I drove up to our house yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see 5 bicycles in the front yard of a neighbor and, when I drove into our driveway, the kids were running from their backyard, up the porch and into the house – laughing and carrying on the whole way… it was great to see them doing things together outside and having fun.)

Anyway, as we were talking about all the activities / coming’s and going’s in the neighborhood, our conversation turned to the Parrots and Hawk pictured in an earlier post. In turn, that led to my telling him about the Osprey in a neighbor’s tree 2+ years ago. (Short version… as short as I can make it, anyway)

Back in May of ’05, we were out working in the backyard back one weekend afternoon. (Like it always starts…) Suddenly there was a tremendous amount of crow noises coming from “over there” (big house next to us) and when I looked up, I saw there appeared to be an Osprey in the neighbor’s tree being harassed by a small flock of crows.

Hey, that’s not nice!

Thinking “photo-op”, I ran, errr, ambled with purpose, to grab my camera /telephoto lens. By the time I returned to the back yard, the crows had been joined in their efforts by what appeared to be a robin. (“Bad Robins of Campbell?” huh?)

Apparently the osprey’d had about enough of this and began shifting about the top of the tree, eventually taking flight. I was able to shoot a rapid sequence of 5 frames and, as you can see from the pic, the poor bird was just settling in to enjoy a bite of fast food (trout are very fast) it’d picked up at the Perc Ponds when the crows (and robin) decided the osprey needed to eat someplace else. I’m not sure where the osprey went, but it’s quite likely it returned to the relative quiet of the Perc Ponds.

Who knew?!

As some of you may know, we recently headed up to Tahoe for a week’s vacation with Olivia and Owen. Turns out that while we were away, the Two Big Cats replaced the cat-sitting guidelines we’d left for Ellen with this detailed diagram.

Having resided with them for many years now, we weren’t surprised at their attention to detail in specifying the detail for each area, but frankly, we’re impressed by their ability to color within the lines – not an easy thing to do given their lack of thumbs!

(btw, thx to Digg / Hilary B. Price for this very cute cat, errr, cartoon)

Parrot Hawk

I mentioned in an earlier post that we’ve had the Parrots around the neighborhood lately. Here’s a photo of four of them + their red-headed stepbrother, Hawk, I took last year. Here’s the story behind the pic:

About 8:30 or 9:00 AM one day last summer I heard a tremendous amount of Parrot noises in the surrounding air… lots of screaming and carrying on, just a few notches of agitation above their normal flocking noises. When I stepped into the backyard-facing powder room, I saw what appeared to be one Parrot chasing another Parrot at a very high rate of speed – I’d never seen any of them move that fast before, period. As they approached the fir tree, I could see the lead bird was a Parrot and the other bird was a Hawk: Hawk was chasing Parrot.

Hey, that’s not nice!!!

At about that time, I couldn’t help but notice there were 3 Parrots in the large pine (two lots over) screaming encouragement to the Parrot being chased, while another Parrot was slightly in the “outfield” trying to distract the Hawk from grabbing his family member.

As the Parrot being chased reached about 100 feet of altitude, the 3 Parrots in the pine all leapt off the tree and appeared to give chase. Apparently not so: what happened next was the Hawk seemed to be overwhelmed by the potential and began going from one Parrot to the next, with the eventual result being what I saw in my camera viewfinder – 4 Parrots and Hawk sitting in the same tree, with Hawk unable to get hunting speed or angle on any of them.

When you check out this picture (if you click on the picture, it enlarges in your browser – just hit the green return arrow to return to normal size / blog text), note there are 4 Parrots and Hawk – I’m not sure where Parrot 5 disappeared to, but it’s survived to this year, so things are good in the neighborhood.

(For future reference, to make it all a bit easier for me to deal with, all neighborhood Parrots are named Parrot, all neighborhood Hawks are named Hawk, all neighborhood doves are named Bob, and all neighborhood hummingbirds are named Molly.)