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Fall has fallen

14 Sep


The end of our summer has been long and hot.  In my non-air-conditioned-because-we-are-too-close-to-the-coast classroom, my students and I have been sweltering.  I’ve had kids go home sick because of the heat.  Miserable.

I am not one who enjoys hot weather with good grace.

I prefer spring and fall.  Perfect temperatures, perfectly wonderful skies, and perfectly delightful color all around me.

So, the rain that finally fell today was celebrated in my house today.  We stopped making dinner and ran outside and enjoyed the rain.  I could just feel my garden going, “Ahhhhhh!  Finally.”  The earth was opening and relaxing.  My roses and pomegranate were unwilting.  My maples softened their scorched leaves.  The redwoods heaved a huge sigh of relief and oxygen.

Later, with windows open all over the house, we heard the rain really fall, so I went out on my porch and listened.

I think that I will become famous for my videos which are all dark and filled with sound.

I did look for a bird enjoying the rain but my children were also out enjoying the rain and therefore birds were not in great abundance.  Thank goodness for Flickr Photostreams.

Chickadee in the rain

For more birdies in the rain, please visit Bird Photography Weekly!


A Hopeful Sign

10 Aug

African Violet

Native Thistles

13 May

BEG commented yesterday that she loves thistles too but that they are an invasive species. So, I wondered if there was a thistle that was native to California.

And, what do you know!

There is!

Venus Thistle, J. E.(Jed) and Bonnie McClellan © California Academy of Sciences

Venus Thistle, J. E.(Jed) and Bonnie McClellan © California Academy of Sciences

Venus Thistle (Cirsium occidentale var. venustum)

It’s definitely beautiful but perhaps not as striking as the invasive one I featured yesterday.  I may try to find some at one of our local native plant nurseries.  I LOVE the color of them.

What is your favorite native plant in your garden?

I know the Spring

26 Apr


I know the Spring
sweet scented air
dawn of song
brightest clearest softest blue


I know the Spring
cool nights
warm caressing sunlight
humming wisteria


I know the Spring
bright light clear light
singing from on highest height
abundance, promise
spilling forth
pouring out and over and through

I know the Spring for it fills me up to full.

I am honored to be featured today by the Nature Blog Network! I hope you’ll take a moment to visit their site and stay awhile. They do good work there, do Mike and Wren, and John, and N8. Thank you all, especially Wren who interviewed me so painlessly, making me sound much better than I had any business sounding!  I also want to thank my readers for keeping me on the front page of the birding list that the Nature Blog Network keeps.  Thank you!

All content written or photographed by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2009, Liza Lee Miller.
Creative Commons License

Sky Watch – Vultures

2 Apr


Do you see that tiny speck coming in from the left?  My son did and knew exactly what to do.  He came and got me . . . good birds are worth disturbing mom.  Plus, he had a plan!


Where there is one vulture, perhaps there are more.  There was no time to waste.  He flew (ha!) into action.  Or rather inaction.


He knew that Vultures like dead meat so the threw himself to the ground and pretended to be dead!  That’s me boy!


As you can see, it worked!  He lured in a total of six.  My husband was saying useful things like, “If they land, don’t let them start peeking out your eyeballs!”


They rode around on the warm air currents of the late afternoon before flying off into the sunset, sans 9 year old boy eyeballs!


And, what a beautiful sunset it was, too.

view . . . vulture
carcass on the ground
may not be as dead as it seems
call your friends to check
there’s no death

©2009, Liza Lee Miller

Is our drought over?

20 Feb


With our intense rainfall over the long holiday weekend, the question remains as to whether or not we can stop worrying about drought.  The short answer is nope.

The long answer requires looking at some data.  First of all, I found an amazing website called US Drought Monitor.  Wondering if there’s a drought anywhere in the US?  Wonder no more . . . every week, they analyze the country and determine the drought status of every region.  They have a great map and a code.  My region in California is currently in a D1 (Drought Moderate) but we’re surrounded by D2 (Drought Severe).  One storm changed my area from D1 to D2.  Hopefully, we’ll continue with slightly higher than normal rainfall for the rest of the season and pull out of the fear of drought altogether.

Using data from our Water District’s historical record, I used figured out the Mean, Median, Mode, and Range (just like I teach the kids at school).  I didn’t use all the data — just the data since 1975.  The mean (average) is 52″.  The median (put all the data in order from least to greatest and find the middle number) is 46″.  The mode (most common — after I rounded the numbers so that any of them were common) is 50″.  Our range for Boulder Creek is 20″ to 100″.

When I first talked about the lack of rain, we were at around 15″ for the year which is frighteningly low especially since we had received almost no rain in the month of January which is typically one of our heaviest rainfall years.  We are now at 28″ for the year and more rain is coming.  This is very hopeful.

The problem is that even if we make it up to our normal rainfall, we haven’t hit that normal mark in the last two years.  Last year, we had 40″, the year before that 30″.  So, we are making up a deficit.  Our reservoirs are frighteningly low.  One year of normal rainfall won’t fix that.

So, no, not really.  We’re in much better shape but we need a few more storms like that one before we’ll feel safe.  Still, it’s looking like I’ll be able to water my garden this summer which is a good thing!

Spring Dress

Orchid Overload

14 Feb


I’m going to need advice from the Orchid Goddess, Julie Zickefoose, on this one. I attended a Valentine’s Party yesterday with a gift exchange. One of the women opened this amazing orchid and said, “Oooo, I’ll kill this one quickly.” So, when someone stole my beautiful little bird house from me, I didn’t hesitate to rescue this amazing orchid-boganza and bring it home. It’s cheering me up just to walk into my kitchen and see this much beauty staring back at me.

A Garden Party

17 Nov

Another frog

This frog was just one of the charming, whimsical features in a magical garden.   The many succulents were delightful and appealing — particularly in this time of year.  It’s almost like having flowers in the late fall.  (Although there were many delightful flowers as well and you’ll see some of those later this week.)

Succulents in garden Succulents in garden Succulents in garden Succulents in garden Succulents in garden

And, as we were leaving, we noticed another friendly frog bidding us good day.

frog on steps

Another Fun Day Birding

15 Nov

I went birding again in an unusual place.  My sister-in-law took us to a home in Capitola, California where a woman and her daughter run their own monthly used clothing (high-end, in spectacular condition) shop.  The clothing was fantastic and I did buy a few pieces.  However, I also fell in love with her garden.  She had delightful garden statuary everywhere mixed in with gorgeous flowers, fascinating succulents, and a particularly funny kitty.  You can look for stories on those topics later in the week.  The birds really caught my eye and I will say that I had an urge to cause a scene and then in the hubbub to steal several of them.   I had a very strong jealousy of this lovely garden — I would very much like to have the same sense of beauty and whimsy in my own too-long-ignored garden.

Birds in Capitola

This LBB was especially endearing — isn’t it sweet the way it’s hiding behind the wire?

More birds

Last time I couldn’t tell a goldfinch from a sparrow so I’m not going to give even a guess at IDing these sweet, little vine dwelling darlings.

More birds

More sweet little birds.  One is too shy to look but the other is giving direct eye contact.  Amazing.

Any ideas on IDing these unusual birds will be quite welcome!  Thanks!

Fall Flowers

20 Oct

seed pod

fuchsias at Wilder Ranch

Both were seen at Wilder Ranch State Historic Park last week.  Fall in California . . . it’s a beautiful thing.