Thursday, July 28, 2016

The arboretum at UC-Santa Cruz

Late on the second day of our visit I took some time to explore the arboretum on the UC-Santa Cruz campus. What a wonderful and very different landscape than the main area up in the redwood forest!

This path was inviting and magical, and I love the carpenter bee sculpture:

There was gorgeous color along this path, so lush against the background of golden grasses.

Sadly I didn't have time to peruse each plant and document the names of things but I greatly enjoyed my walk and the quick browse. This tree made me want to climb in and hide out with a book.

I loved this brightly colored flower.

This was a favorite vista, in part because it is so different from our lush green in North Carolina.

The succulent bed was lovely. My photo doesn't capture the essence of the color it held.

The palm felt almost misplaced here, but was striking in its height.

Loved this little side path and the message on the bench.

I would love to have seen owls but it wasn't the right time of day.

This scene was striking too - I was up on a hill and the clouds looked like flying saucers in the distance. Wouldn't have been surprised if Mulder and Scully had appeared. 

This was simply gorgeous. I wish I could have one of these here on November Hill.

I saw this on my way out. I was one of only a few people there that afternoon and would have been spooked a little had I seen it going in!

This is only the tiniest look at the arboretum. I only took one path and didn't have time to fully explore the place. I hope I can go back again and see it for a longer visit. I love that it is actually on the campus. What a gorgeous place to unwind after class!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

November Hill farm journal, 13

It's been a crazy week with lots going on here. We have been quite hot and dry for the past couple of weeks and yesterday we finally had a huge thunderstorm and got a couple of inches of rain. We had another one today and got another inch. I can feel the earth sighing with relief as the water seeps in.

We've also had more logging on the hundred acres behind our house. This prompted a flurry of communication and suddenly, after years of wanting to add land to November Hill, we're negotiating for 5.5 acres that will give us a very nice buffer behind, some land that might be usable as additional pasture, and a beautiful strip of woodland to add to our back wooded path. 

I tried for more but right now they want to keep the larger parcel intact. 

It's not finalized yet so I appreciate good thoughts for this working out for all concerned. As you can imagine, the possibility has me buzzing with ideas and new projects:

A perimeter trail.

November Hill Honey.

A tiny guesthouse in addition to the writing studio.

A refocusing on the original woodland path with an extension to make a longer walk.

I am never happier than when plotting new projects and I am so hoping we can add this piece of property to our little farm. 

It's been sad to see and hear the trees coming down back there. It would be nice if the larger parcel continues to sit on the market long enough that our ability to add more comes to pass. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

UC-Santa Cruz - my visit to the biology department

A few steps away from physics I wandered into the biology building and happened upon this:

It looked like something my daughter my enjoy so I kept going.

Then it looked like something we both would enjoy so I decided to take a few photos for her.

The room was crammed with interesting displays.

Birds were a major feature of this wonderful room.

I wandered around looking and clicking.

She was hidden by the table of birds but there was actually a young woman sitting at that iMac in the background. She graduated in June but was staying on to work in the collection through the summer. She was so welcoming and encouraged me to look and visit as long as I liked.

Of course I started talking to her and asking questions and telling stories and she ended up taking me into the private collection room where there were huge cabinets with hundreds of drawers with preserved birds of every kind imaginable. She pulled them out one by one, let me hold them, told me wonderful facts about them, and spent about 2 hours with me. It was absolutely mesmerizing and so very kind of her. She shared her experience as a woman undergrad on campus and we talked about field trips and research, animal encounters on campus, and the multidisciplinary approach UCSC takes. 

She was a wonderful tribute to her school. I was very impressed.

I finally thanked her for her very generous time and went outside where I immediately encountered this:

Monday, July 25, 2016

Finally, the milk paint adventure begins

This weekend we had two hot dry days back to back and I decided this was the right time to power wash the front porch and get all the debris off the screens in preparation for painting. The power washing set up revealed that we need a new water faucet on the grass paddock side of the house, and since it was so hot and I wanted to Get This Done dear husband took two hoses and wound them around the other side of the house and through the front porch rail so I could proceed.

It is crazy how you think you can check something off your to do list but in doing so you have to add new things to do! 

It was satisfying to see the dusty brown water sliding off the walls. It was a bit disappointing to see one layer of porch floor paint lift up and spray all over everything. I decided I could not deal with that mess so I backed way off with the power washer and just rinsed the porch floor. I'll have to use a stripper to get all of what is there off if I want to use milk paint and tung oil on the floor. That's a project I'm relegating to a way back burner for now.

Within 24 hours everything was bone dry due to the heat. I proceeded with soft white milk paint mixed with outdoor additive powder and got one upper porch screen completely done plus the inside of the main support beam on that same end of the porch. Two coats was perfect. It looks fantastic!

Now I only have the lower (larger) screen, the porch rail and posts, 5 more large screens, another top screen, the remainder of the support beam and the entire other one, and the porch doors to go. And the rest of the porch rail and posts. And the steps. And of course the cat tunnel and ramp. (sigh)

I was dripping sweat the entire time but had my iPad out there playing music and it was a pretty nice way to spend part of a Sunday. 

It's a big project but I love being able to do it section by section as weather permits. And my reward for getting this part (the front porch) done will be to go pick out 4 beautiful door pulls to install and I am thinking a new porch light fixture and (possibly) a ceiling fan!