Strange Little Weekend

air quality at dusk

Smoky gray skies at dusk

Local temperatures soared again this weekend, breaking into the triple digits. What made it surreal was the oppressive air. Though wildfires still burn up and down the west coast, the Bay Area has been relatively untouched, other than a few small and quickly contained grass fires. This weekend the skies were a murky grey with the smell of burning wood. We kept going outside hoping to locate the source. The acrid smell got worse at dusk, probably due to the heavier evening air.

According to KTVU, one of our local TV stations:

Fire departments across the Bay Area received numerous calls Saturday, from concerned residents about seeing and smelling heavy smoke in the area, officials said.
KTVU meteorologist Rosemary Orozco says it has to do with a shift in the weather pattern. She says the onshore breeze normally would blow the smoke towards the Oregon and Nevada borders.
But a change in the weekend weather pattern is blowing the smoke from the Gold Country down towards the Bay Area.

Leading up to the weekend, I couldn’t wait to get started on another sheet-mulching project. After nearly four months, we finally have our lawn replacement plans in hand. Yes!!!

To qualify for the lawn replacement rebate, I have to wait for San Jose Water Company’s final plant approval. They have strict instructions NOT to start planting without prior go-ahead and that could take up to six weeks. The rebate pays $2 a square foot so it pays to play by the rules. That said, I am so over our brown, crispy “lawn.”

landscape rebate application

Forms and more forms. Santa Clara County likes to keep it old school

I drove the list of plants, the application and other requisite forms to the water department. Knowing how slow government agencies are, I didn’t want to waste another day mailing the packet. I left with an official looking date-stamped slip of blue paper. Now we wait.

The better news is that they we’re allowed to remove the lawn while we wait. The preferred method is sheet mulching.  Since I already sheet mulched half the lawn last fall with great success, I was ready to get started.

sheet mulch fall 2014

I sheet mulched this area starting last October. It used to be lawn.

On Saturday morning, my back garden looked like this:

beginning sheet mulch august

Did a wild raccoon go crazy with an overturned garbage can?

Did the rats throw a party in the compost bin?

Nope. I made that mess. On purpose. But only because my Friday night self didn’t know about our Strange Little Weekend ahead. Excited to get started, I tossed cardboard, compost and compostable material on to the pile just before dark. By the time I was home from Pilates and haircuts the following day, temps were searing hot.

This week I’m practicing patience while I hide from the heat. I’m thanking the universe for the extra time indoors to catch up on (yawn) my boring (yawn) paperwork. This heat won’t last forever.

How was your weekend? Is your week off to a good start?

san jose weather

I have no right to snicker since I make mistakes all the time, but according to the paper, we can expect low “clodus” at the beach.

 

Connections: Our Big Beautiful World

Nandini and boys

Nandini and our boys

Sunday morning I spoke with my long-time friend, Nandini via Skype. She currently lives in Chennai, India. It’s wonderful to connect.

I shared this passage on Facebook:

Nandini and I worked together at a start-up called Pretzel Logic Software in 1995. We became fast friends, then first time moms when we had our boys just six weeks apart in 1997. We supported each other through those sometimes difficult and perplexing first months of parenthood. We met weekly for tea, pushed our strollers through the park, and enjoyed time at our respective homes. It was a sad parting when she moved back to Chennai in 2000 in order to support her aging family. I’m grateful for the technology that allows us to continue our conversations, and to marvel at the fact that those baby boys will soon turn 18.

That’s when all the connections (my word of the year) started rolling in.

When you tag someone in a photo on Facebook, their friends can see it too. After several lovely comments from my local friends, Nandini’s cousin, Sujatha left a few words. When she did, it showed that we had a mutual friend named Akila. Akila’s son attended pre-school with my younger son here in California. Incredible.

Akila joined the conversation, saying she knew Nandini’s cousin as a family friend. That’s when Nandini’s friend, Parvathi posted, saying she also knows Akila. Nandini knows Parvathi because their sons are schoolmates in India.

It’s been amazing discovering these connections throughout the day. I’m humming with the joy of it.

How about you? Have you uncovered an unexpected connection between a friend or colleague? Please share your story in the comments section, below.

Any one person is connected to any other person through six or fewer relationships, because it’s a small world. SixDegrees.org is about using this idea to accomplish something good. It’s social networking with a social conscience.

Lawn Tree Traditions: Greening up the Neighborhood

mother and son

Mother and son

If you drop by this week, you’ll see Christmas trees up and down the block. Our neighborhood has an extensive and coordinated effort to display cut Christmas trees on our lawn each year. The trees go up the first week of December and come down New Year’s day. I’m the block captain for our street.

We try to make it a family affair, but now that our boys are teens, their interest wanes.  This year my older son did the heavy lifting along with his dad, dropping trees at each house while I drove the truck.  My youngest son asked if he could stay in bed!  So it goes.

the muscle

The Muscle

Our neighbor, Greg lends us his truck for deliveries.  I get to dust off my manual transmission driving skills once a year.  It keeps me in the game.

christmas tree bundles

Ready for delivery

The Bay Area is diverse.  Not all neighbors celebrate this tradition.  When I was a young, I wondered why one or two people wouldn’t want a tree in their yard.  Then I grew up and understood that the world is full of different religions and cultures and it all made sense.  We see Menorah in neighboring windows and understand others simply don’t embrace the ritual.  It’s a great time of year to pause and reflect on the richness of diversity.

We have an artificial tree indoors, and a cut tree on the lawn.  I wrote about the pros and cons of real vs fake last year.  You can read more about that here.

Do you celebrate Christmas?  Do you display a tree?  Real or fake…or both?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments, below.

Organized at Heart

I’m posting a series of articles featuring organizing around the holidays this month on my blog Organized at Heart. If the subject interests you, please go take a peak. Today’s blog: Holiday Storage: The Case of the Shrinking House. 

Of note: Wikipedia has a wonderful and detailed article on the origins of the decorated Christmas tree.  I’m always learning something new on that site and must remember to make my annual donation accordingly.