Potted

I’m in love with a houseplant. It’s a maidenhair fern, its frilly little leaves dangling from willowy stems. There’s something about it that just makes me incredibly happy. It’s true, my heart even flutters a bit when I see it. This is my first adult relationship with a houseplant. As a kid, we had plants […]

Wish We Were Here

This is a travel story about a place I’ve never been. Maybe it’s a strange destination—a single, cold room. It’s thousands of miles from where I am, though, which makes it seem fascinating based on distance alone. But even better: inside it, you’d find pieces of the whole world. More than 500 million tiny pieces. […]

Same River Twice

Since last week, we’ve been watching the weather forecast with something that’s almost joy, but won’t quite let itself be. Often, the weekly report has a beaded string of sunshines, with different ways to describe them. Abundant sunshine. Plenty of sun. Hot. Sometimes, there are clouds. But even when the slot machine lineup of my weather […]

Redux: Water Year

This post first appeared on October 8, 2015, when I was still hopeful that a good strong El Nino could hold off California’s water problems a while longer. Where I am, it didn’t work. One of our reservoirs is now at 7 percent capacity. At another, the dam worker now needs water trucked in to […]

Thankful? Oh, Really?

Ann:  It’s been a fairly dreadful year, personally and nationally, and giving thanks is going to be a stretch.  But even when I was a kid, I was thankless.  When my grandfather said grace at Sunday dinners — “Bless, oh Lord, this food to our use and us to thy service” — I thought the […]

A Tale of Two Fish

I am taking care of two fish this weekend. One is a nice, respectable goldfish. It’s orange and black, it lives alone in a bubbling tank with some seaweed and a little fake wooden log to swim through. It eats a few pellets of food every few days. The other has three eyes, and it […]

Pablo, Pablo and me

I’ve always had mixed feelings about tracking animals with satellite tags. It’s so cool that we can now see where creatures go, sometimes moment-by-moment, but I wonder about losing a bit of the mystery that surrounds some of their lives. (In the animal uprising, privacy issues may be high on their long list of injustices.) […]

Road Trip

Several times in the last few weeks, I’ve found myself driving Highway 101 from Santa Barbara to Berkeley, a 320-mile route. The trip starts out along the ocean, then dips in and out of oak-dotted hills. Later, the road slices through the Salinas Valley and then into Silicon Valley. The last part is my least favorite—the […]