(For more about Yoda, click on her picture.)
If you arrived here by way of our Home Page, you know that I am Yoda, one of the three kitties of the Three Kitty Kompany. (If you want information about the Three Kitty Kompany, please click here. If you want to go to our Home Page, please click here. ) Everyone thinks I am the cute, but crazy one. Little do they know that I am just as "normal" as any kitty can be. I'm just energetic. I'll try to restrain myself while I tell you the stories of Mom and Dad and their life in La Honda, CA.
Dad did ask that I include some of his pictures with the stories. Please click on any image to see it larger.
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
There are many things that Mom and Dad have seen that they are sure only happen in California. These are their tales.
One day while Mom and Dad were driving home to La Honda (on Highway 84) from the coast, they came upon a group of bicyclers. This in itself is not unusual. However, one of the bicycles was unusual. It was towing a trailer that was constructed of a set of wheels attached to the bottom of a surfboard. Surf's Up.
Mom and Dad often have to drive on winding 2 lane mountain roads. When road maintenance has to be done, it is done very carefully and very systematically. For several miles before one arrives at the construction site, there are signs warning that there will be delays and a "flagman". The flagman is reminiscent of the school crossing guards that Mom and Dad knew as kids. The flagman is a person with a sign that reads STOP on one side and SLOW on the other. He/she is in radio communication with the flagman on the other side. Traffic is allowed through the construction site one lane at a time. There is also often a "pilot car'> This is a car that drives up and down the construction site leading the traffic through. The pilot car not only defines required lane changes but also very effectively controls the speed of the traffic. Pretty cool.
Down the block from our house is the community duck pond. In the pond live several species of water fowl (ducks, geese, coots etc.) The road that we live on parallels the pond so Mom and Dad have to drive past the pond to come home or go out. The water fowl are often in the road. They eat in the road. They sleep in the road. They even make baby animals in the road. Everyone takes care of them and even the County Sheriff's Deputy watches out for their safety. The white geese love to chase Mom's little white car and Mom often has to get out of the car and chase the geese out of the road because beeping the horn causes the geese to honk back. Beep beep.
Every Summer, late in the season, we experience the annual termite metamorphosis. For one or two nights, there are things flying around that look like the seed pods of Sugar Maple trees. Anyway, they fly at night and seem to die in the morning. Very strange.
When Dad was commuting over the mountain to work, he used to tell people that it was a lot like flying. He would go up through the clouds and travel along the crest of the mountain range. When he got to his destination, he would "return his seat back and table tray to its full upright and locked position" and prepare for descent through the clouds into the valley. Wow!
Whenever there is volcanic activity in the Far East, the sunsets here in La Honda become spectacular. The colors become predominantly red, orange and a mixture of blue, pink and grey. Even long after sunset, the night sky in the west is tinged with red so the stars and occasionally the moon are shining from a deep, dark red sky. Hello, Mars...
Here in La Honda many of the ordinary residents pitch in and help with projects, activities and emergencies that are normally handled by the government in bigger municipalities. One evening, the water main in the front of our house broke. The head of the Department of Public Works, the head of the Fire Brigade Board of Directors, the water project contractor and Dad spent the entire evening standing in the mud in the 3 foot deep trench (when they weren't laying across the road to turn off/on the water valves. The group couldn't get their pump to work so they used Jack's Shop Vac to pump several hundred gallons of water out of the trench. A portable lighting unit was plugged into an outlet on our deck. When the project was halted for the night, at about 1AM, there weren't enough steel plates to cover the trench so the construction crew parked the front-end loader over the hole. That's deep.
The weather here in the San Francisco Bay Area is one of "microclimates". As such, there are sometimes some very strange weather conditions. When we have rain, we usually get several inches in a day. Often our rain falls in inches per hour for short periods of time. If you go 20 miles inland of La Honda, the same rain storm might deliver only half an inch of rain. When Mom and Dad drive over the mountain, they might travel through rain, sun, fog and ice on the same trip. The demarcation between the rain and the sun is often very sharp and very sudden. Mom and Dad have seen more rainbows since moving to California than they did for the rest of their lives put together. They even occasionally get to travel through a rainbow. (They said there was no pot of gold, however.) When someone is in a rainbow, everything is the wrong color. The trees look red, a dog was purple and the street was orange. A white house even looked blue. Like a cartoon.
Speaking of weather, when the winter storms do come, there will often be a wind that accompanies the rain. After a storm, there are leaves and small branches everywhere. It looks like some person put the trees through a grinder, shredder or maybe a thing Mom calls a Cuisinart. The soil also becomes very slippery when it is wet. When the soil dries, however, it is as hard as concrete. This means that Mom and Dad can only pull up weeds and build gardens before the soil dries and hardens in the Spring. So much work, so little time.
Everything in California seems bigger than in the Northeastern U.S. The hills and mountains are higher. The redwood trees are the tallest known trees. As hard as I try, I can't climb to the top. The canyons are deeper, steeper and wider. But nothing looks big because it is all on the same scale. As a result, it is very difficult to estimate distances. As a person looks across a valley, the house on the hilltop may be 1 mile or 10 miles away. This is complicated by the fact that the air here is generally cleaner and the sunlight brighter and crisper than on the East Coast. This makes the shadows very distinct and the contrast between sun and shade very great. Sunny areas and areas that are in shade of the trees actually can have different climates. On the warm, late Summer and Fall days, it is cooler and damper under the trees than on the chaparral across town. The temperature could be as much as 10 degrees (F) cooler under the trees. Under the trees, we also have our first frost of the winter (Yes, we do get frost here. Not all of California is like Los Angeles.) several weeks later than on the open land. Weather forecasters beware.
One day as Mom was driving up the winding mountain road to the "other side of the hill", she saw a car stopped at the side of the road. The driver's door was open and the person inside was sort of sitting half in and half out of the car. Mom felt sorry for the person who she thought must have been sick due to the motion of the winding roads. After Mom passed the car, she saw in her mirror that the driver of the other car had a bird identification book in her lap and on the ground beside the stopped car was a dead bird that was being identified. Surprising but not weird.
Quite often the people from Hollywood will come to the San Francisco Bay Area to make movies. If their efforts impact state highways, the movie company may hire California Highway Patrol people to do traffic control etc. One day when there was a Highway Patrolman waiting at the edge of the highway for the movie company to arrive. As he sat there, one of the peacocks from the neighboring ranch strutted by. As Mom and Dad drove by, there was the Patrolman, sitting in his car with the door open and a peacock standing in the doorway. Cute.
When there is a small rockslide at the side of the road, if there is no immediate hazard, the highway department will put a red and white striped saw horse over the slide and clean it up when they are doing maintenance later in the season. By the end of the winter, the highway looks like there is a herd of saw horses nesting on the side of the road, all sitting on rocks, trying to hatch them. What will the babies look like?
Most of the people in La Honda have mailboxes in the Post Office. One day while driving past the Post Office, Mom and Dad saw someone who was going into the Post Office with a wheelbarrow. A lot of mail there.
La Honda is sufficiently rural that the animal rescue organizations will sometimes release rehabilitated animals close to where we live. Mom and Dad think that was the case with a very special squirrel that they named "Sammy". One day Dad was working in the basement and he felt a nudge on his pant leg. He thought it was one of us kitties but when he looked down, it was a squirrel, sitting up and begging. This behavior continued every time Mom or Dad was outside. Sammy would actually come up to see them. Mom and Dad invested in a squirrel feeder and spent a few months feeding not only Sammy but the other squirrels in the area. Eventually Sammy found a girl squirrel and we've not seen him since. Now that's definitely weird.
Among the birds that visit our gardens are the California Quail. These birds are a little bigger than a pigeon. They travel in groups of 20-30 birds. Several times a day the entire group will walk down our driveway and into the garden. They cluck, coo and chirp between themselves as they go. When they get to their destination, they start scratching the soil and pecking the seed like chickens. As they are pecking, the little crest on their heads bobs up and down. One bird is always the sentry. He (and it is always a male) sits in a tree or on the fence or on the garden gargoyles to be even a foot off the ground and have a better view of any danger that is lurking. When the alarm sounds, or when the group is done eating, they all run, single-file back to where they came. If the danger is immediate, they will fly. They have short, stubby wings and it isn't easy for them to get off the ground. Wild.
There are lots of other stories. As Mom and Dad tell them to me, I'll add them to this page. Please stop by periodically.
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