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! 

Friday, July 22, 2016

UC-Santa Cruz physics, day 2

I got more photos the second day. I love the front of the physics building but I love even more how UC-Santa Cruz groups their science buildings under the umbrella of interdisciplinary studies. The sciences form a semi-circle and you can go from one building to the next with only a few steps.

Inside, a Nobel Prize winner:

And a very very cool double pendulum:

This thing was capable of taking your hand off so I was gentle with it!

I took a walk to another science building but will share that wonderment next!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Back to UC-Santa Cruz

We spent three days here and I have so many photos to share. The library quickly became one of my favorite spaces on campus, though as you have already read, I loved it all.

Here's the walk to the library. The redwoods seem to gather in circles as if they are doing something sacred and important. I spent some time standing in the middle of the circles and soaking in their amazing energy.

These bridges are more beautiful than I have captured. I should have photographed the view off the bridge to reveal the forest floor and the path below. It is almost like there are two levels on this part of the campus - one above the forest floor and one on the floor itself.

The front of the library is stunning. You don't see the trees in this shot but they are everywhere around it, as if a building full of knowledge simply landed here and the trees stepped aside to let it be.

The space inside was the most inviting I've ever seen.

I spent some time here writing and reading and then I headed back to the student center to visit the bookstore. (Which had an entire section of fiction, very well stocked, and a wonderful collection of beautiful notebooks and blank journals - I was totally impressed.)

The student center was undergoing renovation but is very distinctive. I would love to go back and see it when they're done with the work.

Stay tuned for more. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

November Hill farm journal, 12

Three years ago we said goodbye to Salina on the same morning the 11-acre wood next door to us was clear cut. Two years ago we mourned the timbering of a large section of the 100-acre wood behind us.

Now when I hear the scream of the cutting machines I feel the loss like an old bruise that still aches when pressed upon.

I heard those sounds this morning and they have gone on throughout the day.

Friday I found pink tape marking the property line at the back edge of our farm. I contacted the real estate agent who has the listing for the 100-acre wood and said again that we would be interested in acquiring a small parcel that would clean up the property lines and give us a buffer zone and a little additional acreage.

This time they offered to take our interest to the owner. There was no mention of logging so I figured it was the hunters who sub-lease the land who had put up the tape, marking their territory in advance of deer season.

I've emailed again today to check in but meanwhile I'm cringing every time a huge old tree hits the ground.

The land seems so precious to us and the trees equally so. 

This morning one of the red-shouldered hawks who lives at the edge of the 100-acre wood came and sat on a fence post and gazed in my bedroom window. It felt like he was asking me to come handle this travesty and I wish there was something I could do.

They have lowered the price of the 100-acre wood to 900k. I hope they realize that the more trees they cut the less likely it is that anyone wants to buy it.

I'm putting up walls of white light around November Hill, and, in spite of myself, beams of Edward Abbey fury are aimed at those screaming machines. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

We have a birthday on November Hill!

Rafer Johnson is our midsummer night's dream birthday boy and he is 9 years old today. It seems like yesterday that he came to live with us, but he's been with us through many moments of joy, laughter, and a few trials and tribulations as well.

Rafer broke his leg when he was a year and a half old and his speedy and complete recovery here on November Hill taught me so much about how caring for equines to keep them happy so healing is easier.

Rafer was the donkey who would bring the hoof pick to me and request that his hooves be cleaned. He would follow my daughter over jumps on the pony in the arena. He has tried to lunge the pony with the lunge whip, often stands in the middle of the arena and gives me lessons when I ride Keil Bay, sometimes tips my mounting block over while I'm riding as a joke, and turns the lights on in the barn if he gets tired of the dark.

He became Salina's best buddy almost instantly but he's also a good friend to each of our equines. Now that Salina is gone Rafer and the pony have become very close. 

Rafer stood by Salina in her feisty years with us as well as the years she began to slow down and decline. The last year and a half of her life she would sometimes get down and be unable to get up without our help, and Rafer (and Redford too) would stand on either side of her and bray to let us know we needed to come out and help her.

When she needed to stay near the barn he stayed with her. If she called he came. And when she finally went down one final time and we knew she just didn't have it in her to get up again, he touched her nose and then he went with Redford to the front field to join the geldings while we said goodbye.

He came back when she was gone to say goodbye again and then he turned to me and put his head up on my chest and gazed into my eyes. It was the purest expression of grief and love I have ever seen.

Rafer stood by her grave on a regular basis over the next few months. Not so much in mourning but in the way that felt like he was visiting with her for a bit. I let her halter hang on the hook for over a year after she left us. Rafer would on occasion take it down and walk around with it. I know he misses her. 

I always said that Salina was the heartbeat of November Hill and when she passed away I believe Rafer took on that role for her. He's a very special guy and we love him dearly.

Happy birthday, Rafer Johnson! We'll have a party this afternoon and get your birthday portrait then.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Travelogue: Santa Cruz and UC-Santa Cruz, my favorite campus ever!

Our first morning in Santa Cruz we found the coffee shop I used to go to back in 1990. It's bigger and better and in a slightly different location than when I last went, but the coffee is still wonderful and the ambiance is pure Santa Cruz.

We headed from there over to the UC-Santa Cruz campus. I was so busy finding my way and getting to the parking so my son could get to his first meeting I didn't stop to photograph the entrance to this gorgeous campus. So today's post will highlight some of the interior of the campus. I did get photos of the entrance and will post those later this week.

For now, enjoy my first walk inside UC-Santa Cruz.

I immediately felt I was in a state park.

The campus proper is situated in a redwood forest. I loved seeing this near the marine biology building.

Of course the first real stop was the physics and astronomy building:

Physics departments seem to always have very cool displays in their lobbies:

I explored more of the campus while my son had meetings.

This was the walk to the student center and some lunch:

This is the main walkway that passes between the student center, the bookstore, and the cafe, where I met an old (twenty years now?) cyber-friend who lives in Santa Cruz. It was wonderful to sit and talk on this gorgeous campus.

On my way back to the physics building. This is the campus! I was in love with it immediately.

After meeting back up with dear son we headed back to the car.

Everywhere I looked this beautiful golden light was beaming down through the towering trees:

This is one of the main drags on campus. It was stunning. Like a parkway.

The buildings were seamlessly integrated into the landscape.

More golden rays on the main drag.

The inside of this building was illuminated by the late day sunlight.

Even the parking deck was green.

Heading out:

Earlier in the day: I came upon this deer as I explored the campus. I'm not sure I've ever seen deer on a college campus before! 

There are many more photos which I will share later in the week. I loved this campus so much, and loved the quiet juxtaposition of academics and nature park setting. Of all the campuses we visited this is the one that puts together what I would want in a college experience if I were applying today. 

And I love the college mascot. The banana slug!! 

More to come.