July 2016

Extremely Interesting Times

Just fine the way it is? Then you know who to vote for.


“May you live in interesting times” might not be an old Chinese curse, but at least it’s a modern global one.

China declaring that it owns the South China Sea right up to the high tide line on the surrounding nations.

Turkish President Erdoğan continuing to move the country toward a dictatorship.

Islamic terrorism.



Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Yemen, Sudan, Israel, Libya, and poor Venezuela, which doesn’t deserve all that.

And here in the United States, where we are faced with a choice between four more years of the same under our Wall Street war hawk Clinton or a standing broad jump into ruin and greater totalitarianism under Trump with his honorary Vice President Vladimir Putin.

Could very well be the latter.  There must be people who have recordings of at least some of Hillary’s Wall Street speeches, and when they are released about a month or three weeks before the election, they’ll tip the scale.  Start practicing in front of a mirror:  “I love President Trump”.

Well, unless somebody gets into the NSA’s files and does another Wikileaks exposure, this one detailing Trump’s indebtedness to Russian oligarchs and tipping the election the other way.

Oh, it’s gonna be such a rollercoaster.

And that’s before the election.

Meanwhile, since my friend David has recently got me interested in fences by posting some of his fine shots, here’s a scene off the Petaluma-Marshall Road on the western outskirts of Petaluma.

off the Petaluma-Marshall Road

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Jo Ann’s Garden

To give the people a three-day weekend, my birthday is observed on the third Monday of July.


Jo Ann lives at the edge of Petaluma in a little house on a very large lot, and she’s put in a marvelous garden, a mixture of decorative and edible plants.

Since the decorative ones are, ummm, better looking, i’ll focus on those.

























































Love Lies Bleeding - Amaranthus caudatusLove Lies Bleeding – Amaranthus caudatus

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Empty Nesters

By now, most of my friends are empty nesters, at least those whose nest hasn’t been repopulated with grandchildren, but now i’m one, too.

Yep, as of a few minutes after noon yesterday, the nest is empty.

The good news is that i had a front row seat the whole time.  I covered the early part of this, starting from when barn swallows began building their nest and continuing until the three babies hatched, in my post “Barn Swallows“.

All along i was training them to be accustomed to my standing near the patio door, then to my moving a bit inside the door, then to my opening the door and sticking the camera out, so i’ve been able to get some photos.

Here’s the rest of the story.

Turned out that a couple of days after my previous post on them, a fourth baby appeared.

Barn Swallows


Alas, he didn’t last long, and soon i was seeing only three again, jumping up for joy at Mother’s approach.

Barn Swallows


But mom and dad faithfully took turns regurgitating partially digested insect puree into their gullets until they got old enough that the parents no longer had to puke puree into ’em but could just swoop in and hand off a bug.

Barn Swallows


They grew rapidly until at some point they found the nest too crowded and pushed the weakest one out, and then somewhere along there the two got old enough that the nest could hold only one.  Incidentally, i found only one corpse and, damn me, failed to photograph it before i interred it in the compost pile.

Barn Swallow


The sole survivor kept growing until he was pretty much the same size as his hardworking parents but kept sitting there letting them feed him all day long every day.

And finally yesterday noon i looked up and he was no longer sitting in the nest.  I slid the patio door open, stepped out, and sure enough, he wasn’t quite strong enough to fly up over the patio fence and was fluttering around inside.

Barn Swallow


Well, until i got the camera right in his face and told him i’d never eaten barn swallow but he sure looked delicious.

Which was all it took, and now i’m All Alone.

Well, not really.  Seems that he found the wide world a bit harsher than he expected and food more elusive, so now he flies back to the nest and sits there letting his doting parents continue to feed him.

Barn Swallow

Oh, and since he’s been seeing me all his life. he’ll sit there unconcerned on the nest while i walk around on the patio.  He’s probably expecting me to bring him tasty morsels.

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I wrote last fall about blundering onto one of Petaluma’s railroad aficionados named Steve while i was out photographing the new Haystack Landing drawbridge and how he let me know that the railroad swing drawbridge at the mouth of the Petaluma River was still in operation, which led to a significant improvement in the “Bridges of the Petaluma River” photo essay.

He also told me that he and a pack of other railroad buffs met on alternate Saturdays in the lot on East Washington Street between Baylis and Copeland to work on the old railroad cars there.  These dedicated men network with others of their kind and scour the nation for restorable cars and for cars beyond restoration that might be cannibalized for parts.  Finally got around to visiting them.

They’re the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society and have finished restoration of two cabooses, NWP Caboose #13, completed in 2003 and currently housed in Willits, and PS&R Caboose #1, completed last year and on display here.

PS&R Caboose #1


PS&R Caboose #1


PS&R Caboose #1

I say restoration was completed last year as if restoration can ever be truly complete since if you’re lucky you keep running into precious old components moldering unloved in a barn or field.  Like for example this iron corner sink for which there is some evidence that it was originally installed in this very caboose.

PS&R Caboose #1


They are currently working on two other cars.  NWP Coach #123, pieced together from two cars, the lower portions trucked in from Baltimore.  Work has barely begun on this one.

NWP Coach #123


And NWP Baggage #605, on which considerable progress is being made.

NWP Baggage #605


NWP Baggage #605

Stop by some alternate Saturday.  Or just click on their link and send ’em a donation.


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