Tag Archives: animals

Dear Tom, Which is it?

An eagle or a hawk?

Eagle one

He was born in my backyard. Eating something in the yard across the street.

Eagle two

Which is he, an eagle or a hawk? Anyone?

Or maybe just a handsome guy? His favorite perch is the crest of my roof. (He rips meadow voles in half and drops the heads onto my deck for me to sweep up.)

And here’s a pick of Dylan checking out the world…

Dylan Rose 26

Dylan Rose 2 months.

XOXO! Julia

P.S. Just got this one–

Dylan Rose 41

She’s a pixie!

Dear Tom, it’s been a helluva ride!

No, not leaving yet, but I’m about to close up shop temporarily.

We’re moving to Montana! I’ve dreamed of this for five years. Oscar saw the light… at last! As his job has become more and more untenable/onerous and California has become an increasingly challenging place to live.

All I can say is~ yes.

About damn time.

We recently returned from a ten day visit to the ranch. We babysat the cows, horses and dogs. Split and stacked two years worth of wood for our daughter and son-in-law, and met with a real estate agent in Bozeman. We put in an offer on a house and lo and behold… it was accepted right off! (Although my husband pulled a Chip Gaines and tried to fool me into thinking the offer had been rejected! Shiplap ho!)

Thus begins the hard work. I have to get our house on the market. Fingers crossed, it will sell ASAP. We had the hardwood floors refinished while we were away. Lookin’ good, I tells ya!

Yes, I do have two twenty-ish kids here, one of whom is pretty flummoxed at the idea of her parents moving. We are leaving the only home she’s ever known. Even though she doesn’t live with us, the idea of us gives her roots. I get it. My kids are the sole reason I’ve stayed.

But, all things must change. Seems like everyone I know is transitioning in one way or another. We wish us all the best!

In the meantime, enjoy the view from my new backyard! I know Jake will!


The Bridgers from our new backyard!

XOXO! Julia


Dear Tom, my son promised he wouldn’t weaponize the ghost peppers.

Ghost Peppers or Red Naga: Where the Ghost Pepper is From and Why It’s so Hot.


The (dreaded) Red Naga.

My son made me grow them. He has plans. I did warn him there would be no weaponizing of the Ghost Peppers. Merely harvesting them was scary enough. For the time being they are safely ensconced in my freezer. Along with these chilies- bought the seedlings from a corner vendor:


Chilies Diablo.

All he could say was~ “Chilies Diablo. Muy caliente.” So far I’ve harvested two quart bags and I’ve got at least another couple quarts still ripening on the plants. I too have plans!

Sambal Oelek!

I’ve very excited about this! Chrismukkah presents for all!

I’ve had a little time on my hands and a little produce left over from last year. Finally got around to dealing with it.

I added this year’s quince harvest to last year’s harvest (freezer) and made two pints of quince jam. The stuff is like gold! A gallon of quinces made a measly two pints.


Quince Jam.

I also dried my drunken figs. Yes, drunken. They’ve been soaking in rum for a year, I’ll have you know! I dried them with my new food dehydrator.


Dried Drunken Figs.

These are killer, man. Each one is like a shot of rum.

I thought I’d give a shout out to Jake- He treed a mountain lion last week. Dang! The thing was yowling at him like a kazoo! Jake went insane chasing the lion across the yard. It managed to scramble up into one of our redwoods. Seriously, the yowling sounded like a kazoo. My son said, “Mom, I don’t think there are any wild kazoos marauding around Napa.” Took me a long time to get the dog back in so the lion could be on his/her merry way. Hey, I don’t care about mountain lions. They snag the vicious marauding raccoons, so… (And yeah, it’s always me who has to go out and retrieve the dog. Oscar can sleep through an earthquake.)

Speaking of raccoons– Another shout out to my goldfish. Our little pond is a good example of survival of the fittest. This tough guy is two years old! He’s outlasted twelve other goldfish, all of whom have been eaten by raccoons and egrets. He’s super smart. Has a good hiding place. Only comes out for me even though I’ve never fed him. Occasionally I pull out some of the algae, otherwise the pond is a nice little ecosystem. Provides him with all the food he requires.


The Goldfish.

His name is Fishy-Fishy. If anyone has a better suggestion I’m sure he won’t mind.

Still recovering. More on that at a later time.

That’s about it for now. Peace out.



The day my daughters played with #Bigfoot.


Speaking of the Church of Bigfoot…

As it happens I’m a nonbeliever. However something extraordinary occurred one day out here in California, something that I cannot explain. I promise I will not exaggerate and if one daughter wasn’t busy with calving and branding/castrating and if the other wasn’t busy with her new startup, they’d write their own versions of the story. Their perspectives do differ from mine. After all, I wasn’t the one who played with Bigfoot.

It was a Saturday. My nine year old son was off with friends, my husband was working, and I’d taken the two girls, six, and three, to the grocery story. When we arrived home I instructed them to go in the backyard and play, which they did quite willingly as neither wanted to help unpack the car and put away groceries. They took the dog with them, our golden retriever, Rosie.

As I unpacked the groceries I glanced out the kitchen window and noticed both girls gathering sticks, Rosie running circles around them. Good, thought I. Sticks will keep them busy! Then my mother called, so while I put away groceries, I chatted with my mom.

While I put away groceries and chatted with my mom, my older daughter kept running through the open patio door into the kitchen. She was as excited as I’ve ever seen her.

“Mommy! Mommy! There’s a bird out here and we’re playing with it! Mommy! We’re playing with a bird. We’re giving it sticks. Come outside and see!”

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. “I’ll come outside as soon as I put these groceries away. I promise.”

“But Mommy…”

“I’ll be right out. I need ten more minutes. Okay?”


But she kept running in, time after time, urging me to come outside and see this so-called bird.

At last I paid attention. I looked out the window and watched my two girls shove sticks under our back fence. Something took those sticks. Something that was not a bird. I did a double take. I squinted. I couldn’t see what it was but I could definitely see that that was no bird reaching its beak under the fence.

Time for mommy to go outside and investigate.

By way of explanation– at that time there was an alleyway, actually a utility right of way that ran the length of our street. The city had borrowed ten feet of each property on our side of the street to create a right of way. It stretched from the end of the street behind the house to our left, where it opened onto a through street across from vineyards and forest, all the way to the other end which opened onto the far entrance of our court. The cross street there ran alongside open space. Although it is no longer open space (unfortunate housing developments), at that time the area teemed with deer, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and yes, mountain lions. It was common to find deer in our yard. A bobcat hunted in our court. From time to time someone would encounter the mountain lion out for an evening stroll.

The alleyway had never been used (by humans), in fact, our neighbors tried blocking the entrance from the through street, although as soon as they’d board it up, the boards would be broken or knocked down. The alleyway itself was overgrown with trees and shrubs. It still is, what remains of it. Most of our neighbors, unbeknownst to the city, have pushed their yards back, taking over that ten foot space. We’ve left ours intact because we don’t want to have to remove and rebuild fences and landscape/water anything more than we already have. Anyway I like it. Used to be it was a wildlife corridor. The raccoons and possums still use it. A family of squirrels lives in our section, along with a resident hummingbird family and, of course, the owl.

So on the day in question, yes, the alleyway was still viable from one end of the street to the other.

I headed outside. My daughters ran up to me. “Mommy! Mommy! Come see the birdie! He’s taking sticks! Maybe he’ll make a nest. Watch.”

My six year old led the way. She grabbed a handful of twigs and stuck them halfway under the fence. She wiggled them around. What happened next rocked my world.

I watched this huge hairy human-like hand complete with long streaked dirty fingernails reach under the fence into my yard and grab the twigs. Then this same hand pushed a handful of different twigs and leaves and grasses back under the fence for my girls to grab.

The girls were having a grand old time playing with this thing.

The fence was old. There were big gaps between the slats and it sat three inches above the ground– we’d had heavy rains over the winter that had eroded the soil and the retaining wall in the back of the yard along the fence line.

I had to see what this was. There was some creature or man in the alleyway that was attached to this giant hairy hand. It was playing with my children. I needed to know what on earth was playing with my children. Had some homeless man set up camp back there? Some homeless man with dark brown palms, 2-3″ long sparse reddish-brown hair on the back of his huge hands, with unbelievably nasty looking fingernails?

I climbed up the mound of dirt (where the retaining wall had been washed away) and stared through the slats.

For a few seconds, no, for more than a few seconds, I couldn’t breathe. I definitely had an out of body experience. I felt like I was seeing something I should not see. There, in the alleyway, squatted an enormous creature. Judging by its size where it squatted, I estimated that if it stood it would be well over six feet tall, maybe over seven feet. I saw huge thighs, calves, calloused bare feet. I could see its buttocks and its back. Its humongous arms and shoulders. No neck, or at least not much of a neck. Huge head. I saw its profile. The face was humanoid but not entirely human. The skin was dark brown and all but the face, palms of the hand and soles of the feet were covered with longish sparse reddish brown hair. A slight breeze blew up and ruffled the creature’s hair. That’s when it turned toward me, looked at me. Its eyes were definitely humanoid. It was not a gorilla. It was not a chimp. It was not an orangutan. I do not know what it was.

And that’s when I said, “Girls, go back in the house. Go. Now. Right. Now.”

I grabbed the dog and followed them inside. I called the police. They laughed at me. Even though I didn’t say Bigfoot is in my backyard, they laughed. I said, “There’s some kind of ape in my backyard.” They thought it was a hoot. But they did send animal control. Animal control arrived two hours later and found… (surprise surprise) nothing.

The memory of this day is vivid. Both my daughters remember it as well. This isn’t something one forgets. When they have time they’ll tell their own versions of — The Day My Daughters Played with Bigfoot.

If you don’t believe me, it’s okay. If I hadn’t seen this with my own eyes, whatever it was, I wouldn’t believe me either. 🙂