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Upon Closer Inspection

A DP Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

These medusoid euphorbias aren’t as striking as some of the colorful flowers and succulents planted around the Ruth Bancroft Garden. But if you take a closer look and really pay attention to the details, your opinion might be changed.


“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” ― Abraham Lincoln (via Goodreads)

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Ruth Bancroft Garden

For my birthday yesterday I went to the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA. It was one of those gorgeous 70 degree January days that causes so many people to visit California and never leave. I like taking photos of plants so I can remember what they look like, and bring a little bit of that beauty home with me.

If you like these photos, check out more HERE.

This Plant #7 – My Big Old Valley Oak

(republished from flora-file)

Valley Oak – Quercus lobata

One of the very first things anyone notices in our backyard is the oak tree, which is far larger than our little house. It is a deciduous oak, so it lets in lots of light in the winter, and shades out the heat in the summer. During the summer its lobed leaves let in dappled light that is perfect for many California native plants. Of course, it drops about 30 cubic yards of leaves every fall, and every two or three years a gazillion acorns, which is all fine and good until I’m trying to wheel a 500 lb green waste can filled with 10,000 acorns to the curbside.

Our house was built in 1950, which is when most of the smaller trees in this top photo were planted. The oak tree on the other hand takes up a large portion of our backyard and part of our neighbor’s, and it must be at least 200 years old. These older Oak trees only grow where there is a nearby source of water, and we do live along an aquifer that carries water to the SF Bay Delta from nearby Mt Diablo. Our proximity to the aquifer actually means our house is in a flood zone. I’m not sure what  intricacy of fate saved this tree from being cut down at some point in the past as folks started paving over most parts of this neighborhood, but now it stands as a stoic survivor from a previous, unpaved era. When I think how the world has changed in the time this Oak Tree has been growing here, it puts things into a whole different perspective.

We had to get this tree trimmed recently, and had numerous arborists come by and give us quotes. Every one of them told us how healthy our tree was, what an awesome, amazing, huge, old tree we had. It’s interesting that everyone referred to it as our tree or our valley oak. The fact that anyone can try to claim provenance over such ancient organism seems more and more ludicrous to me the more I think about it. Really this is the oak tree’s property.  We are just passing through.

More photos of the Oak


The story of my life told through the story of my plants. Read more This Plant stories ======> HERE.

A Pirate in Disguise

Depending on which direction you’re traveling, our street is one block past Sunshine St. But the direction of approach is important. One block past Sunshine from the wrong direction and you end up in front of a long line of apartment complexes, the check cashing place, the laundromat Señor Burbujas, and the shady liquor store my wife is scared to go into. There is also a dive bar called Catfish Charlie’s.

I thought it might be a fish market or a sporting goods store at first, but when I finally got the courage to enter and explore all I found was a dingy hole in the wall that smelled like a recycled ashtray. The two guys sitting at the bar each had an eyepatch. What was the chance of that? I wondered briefly if Catfish Charlie’s was actually a pirate bar, which would explain a lot.

The inside of the place was greasy, smokey, sticky. It felt if someone actually lit a cigarette the entire place might ignite, including the two dirty pirates bellied up to the bar. At least the bartender had two eyes. But upon closer inspection one was a glass eye that seemed to be pointed in the wrong direction, like a pirate in disguise.

Mister Mustache

mister m

A humorous, touching, and unusual collection of short stories and flash fiction. Written by a former surf bum, biologist, and professional athlete turned middle school teacher, this collection documents both the ridiculous and sublime, and everything in between.

Read the the Short Story Mister Mustache at East of the Web

Read the the Short Story Droning at Bartleby Snopes


====> available on itunes, barnes&noble, and amazon