And so…what exactly is this creature? Vol. 2

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You’ll recall I first asked this question back in November.

The answer then was: persimmon.

Today, in my continuing quest to understand what in the sam hell is growing in my own backyard, I bring you the next installment in the series.

Ladies and Gentlemen…ask you. What exactly is *this*:

(no fair answering first, Natalie!)

I have a tree laden with these little guys. The birds fight over the fruit that bears a color and skin resemblance to an apricot.

The neighborhood squirrels will come running up the power line, put their little paws together over their head, and swan dive into the tree to sample of these fruits.

The bugs love this tree so much, a spider has moved in and built one hell of a web. This allows him to freely sample of the bug buffet. There are bug carcasses strewn all over the place. I haven’t seen a spider web like that since Hawaii!

The fruit on the tree looks a little bit like a small peach or a big apricot. But they aren’t.

Curious, I pulled one that looked ripe from the tree and split it open.

This mutant fruit has not one but TWO stones at the center!

Another I opened had not two but THREE stones!

What the hell?

I didn’t sample the fruit right away. The saliva-evaporating tannin in the under ripe persimmon I ate first and asked questions later taught me a huge lesson.

Nope, I was going to do some research before biting in this time.

With a little help of another overheard conversation between my landlord and his elderly father, I remembered them discussing the old man’s love of something called a loquat.

Hmm. Loquat. It sounds like a concatenation of a couple other words…like lemon and apricot. Or lemon and kumquat.

Is this one of those weird hybrid fruits? No. It’s not.

Loquat is actually an Americanized spelling of a Cantonese word, lou gwat, or the words mean “reed orange.”

This is another tree that is found mainly in Asian countries and was brought along to the Bay Area. It’s a very hardy tree!

Evidently the fruit has a mild sedative effect.

Evidently the seeds have a mild bit of cyanide. Yay.

Note to self: eat the fruit, not the pit.

Okay!

So today I dove in like a squirrel and picked a couple ripe samples.

It’s very tart like a citrus fruit but a consistency much like an apricot.

I like it!

Ok, mystery solved! Off to find recipes for loquats!

Oh, by the by, I also have this creepy creature in my backyard:

It’s almost a foot across and it looks like it could devour small animals.

Fortunately, I know what this bad boy is….

It’s an artichoke that my neighbor grew and forgot to pick.

If it gets any larger, I may have to move.

Just sayin’.

And so it came to pass….

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….that living in the Land of Schwarzenegger, in the area of the Bay, there came to be a fish. A small fish. A fish who was filled with faith and hope.

A fish purchased under the accursed impulse-purchase vexation.

The fish was of the Betta clan, and was given the name of Benito, meaning “blessing” or “blessed one” in the Spanish culture (and meaning tiny little dictator in the Italian tradition).

And so it was that Benito came to live in the house of The Good Man and true to his name, blessed us all.

Benito swam and ate of the bloodworm. And it was good.

Until it wasn’t good.

And forsooth, Benito ceased to eat, and lay on the floor of the tank, flat on his side, and took on a gray pallor.

Which only raised memories of Frank, also of the Betta clan, who came before Benito and expired so painfully.

And so it was that The Girl wept, felt necessary to rend her garments, gnashed her teeth and howled to the heavens, “Why! Why must I have the curse of killing helpless fish?”

Then The Girl resigned herself to the knowledge gained that she was not meant for fish ownership.

Another matchbox coffin was prepared, and sadness befell the house of The Good Man.

In the last, desperate hours, The Good Man proclaimed, “he who believeth in the bettas shall never die.”

Thusly, The Good Man brought his mighty hand down and created freshly treated water and added the miracle of the antibiotic powder.

The limp body of Benito of the Betta clan was deposited into the fresh, medicated water and hope was not held out.

In the break of the morn, The Good Man, in his grace, went to the tankside of Benito of Betta, and proclaimed, “Yea, tho I believe this crazy fish is hungry!”

And chopped up pieces of bloodworm were deposited in the tank, and verily Benito of Betta did eat.

“No %$&#ing way!” came the cry from The Girl, who stared in disbelief at the miracle The Good Man had wrought.

“Yeah, don’t get your hopes up,” The Good Man admonished, but despite his downplaying the whole thing, The Girl did ignore him and did in fact get her hopes up.

And forsooth! Benito of Betta did continue to eat. And became more upright, and began to flap his fins in a normal manner.

And Benito of Betta was thusly nicknamed the Lazarus Fish, having risen from the dead.

So it is that some two weeks from coming to the house of The Good Man, Benito of Betta continues to live and eat and could almost be described as thriving.

And with the focus on a new, recovering fish, The Girl finds the sadness over the loss of Frank is beginning to ease.

With the help of The Good Man, guardian of the broken pets, The Girl may in fact learn to be a suitable owner of small helpless fish.

And for the moment, it was good again.

But don’t get your hopes up.

P.S. Margaret, female of the Betta clan, and The Good Man’s fish, continues to thrive quite nicely, thankyouverymuch.

I know a Zen Master

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Uh huh! Yes I do!

The Master knows how to simplify life.

Food, brief exercise, then long periods of, er, meditation.

At least I think that’s meditation.

Yesterday I had an anxious day. Lots of reasons, my own mental weirdness, no need to detail it all here. But really rather hyped up and I could find no way to calm down.

At the end of the day, I sat on the couch, still fretting, trying to let go. That’s when the Zen master came and sat on me.

And did this:

(Turn up your sound…about a 500k file, runs 14 seconds)*

Suddenly I was listening to the sound of contentment. Pure, simplicity of peace.

And I exhaled that tense breath that had been pent up inside my chest all day.

The muscles started to relax.

And I felt…calm.

Damn Feline might be on to something. She should charge for this kind of therapy!

Here, the master holds a yoga pose…and holds it…and holds it…..

*If the embedded player doesn’t work in your browser, you can click here instead.

Mine is a *special* alarm clock

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I’m a bit sleepy today.

You see, there is this rather large male blue jay that has decided to make our backyard its home territory.

It is a rather beautiful bird, nice to look at. But the jay does not have the prettiest of all the birdsong.

You can hear the sounds here (at about :08 is the beginning of what my jay sounds like), though I’m not sure that clip entirely does the volume and rastyness of the jay in my backyard any justice.

There is a power line that runs through the yard, and he perches on that, stares into the windows of my home, and squawks. Loudly. It can only be described as a squawk. And Mr. Jay makes this unpleasant sound at about…oh, I don’t know…a half hour to an hour before my actual alarm clock goes off.

So I’m nice and awake well before I ever wanted to be awake.

Ah, but if only I could fit the blue jay with a timing mechanism so that it would raise up its blue jay raucous at *exactly* the time my alarm goes off…well that would be nice.

Because ya can’t sleep through the racket.

And he ain’t got no snooze button either.

The good news is, in case the jay decides not to show up on a certain day, I have a backup alarm.

Another rasty animal who is all to happy to put up a hungry racket well before the alarm clock:

Cranky Feline

It’s a wonder we can get any sort of sleep around here at all.

New Additions to Our Family

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So, out of nowhere about a month ago, I decided I wanted to get a new pet.

I’ve no idea where this impulse came from. It just did. Considering that we can’t have any more fuzzy pets in the rental place where we live, it became clear that I had to go small.

Like fish sized.

Hmm. Trouble is, the only fish I’ve ever owned in my life was a goldfish from the New Mexico State Fair.

That one lived quite a while, by the by.

So this quest required some research. I looked for a fish that was easy to get set up and easy to care for. The answer was simple, a betta.

I spent hours going through the pages on bettatalk.com and I learned a lot. I made lists. I fretted. I thought about it a lot. And then yesterday, the waiting was over.

The Good Man and I went to the pet store.

And we came home with not one but two new fish friends!

Without further ado, may I introduce you to:

Margaret The Fish

Margaret The Fish

She is actually The Good Man’s fish. When we set out on our journey, we were just going to get one fish. But once we got to the store, The Good Man was so charmed by this inquisitive little girl, she had to come home with us.

I’m charmed by her too, actually.

So heck, easy solution. We decided to get two fishes and let them live in their own tanks side-by-side.

It’s a good solution.

Margaret is a pretty little fish and she’s happy to have interaction and already recognizes us. She’s not eating a whole lot yet so we’re hoping she’s still just a little shocky from the move and will be feeling right soon.

So now that you’ve met Margaret…please meet:

Frank The Fish

Frank The Fish

So named because of his vibrant blue eyes. He has all of the looks and none of the charm of Sinatra.

As you can see in his photo, Frank is a bit of a stalker. He stares at Margaret.

A lot.

In a creepy mouth breathing way.

He’d totally send her inappropriate messages on Facebook if he was a human. Instead he just stares. A lot.

Margaret mostly ignores him.

So we’ve got them set up in their respective tanks and they are doing (*coff-coff*) swimmingly.

As for the existing member of our pet family….

Well, the word indignant comes to mind.

The feline is sort of not amused by these new items taking our attention.

Thankfully, she doesn’t try to attack them. She just watches, shrugs, and walks away.

I suppose all will settle down in the house soon.

And The Good Man and I are learning a lot about how to care for these new friends.

I never thought I’d be a fish person, but here I am, all enamored of my fish.

Tis a crazy, wonderful, mixed up life.