Category Archives: home life

The envy of Rose Street

Some of you may recall the air strike our landscape gardener called on our front yard. After several weeks of installing sprinklers, building a retaining wall and installing grass, we are now looking quite respectable.

We still haven’t finished putting plants in the front. I’m still researching drought-tolerant and shade-loving varieties. Stay tuned.


Filed under gardening, home life

Like an air strike

The wife and I returned from our anniversary dinner Saturday to our darkened home, as I forgot to turn off the front porch light. I had posted a message on freecycle about a small maple tree we wanted to donate.

As I pulled into our driveway, I noticed a pile of roots on the front yard.

“Hey, what’s that? Did someone come get the tree?”

“Looks like it, there’s a big pile of HEY! WHERE’S MY YARD!??!”

While we were having dessert in the garden of a bistro, under the shade of a pear tree, our gardener friend from church, Luis, was taking a backhoe to my front yard. He’s replacing the old, galvanized-pipe sprinkler system, after I ripped my heel on a sprinkler head that stuck out of the ground a few inches. Amelia shredded one of her toes on the same sprinkler head. We’ve named it “The Widowmaker”.

For the record, Amelia asked me to put on my shoes not 30 minutes before I tripped on my sandals and cut my heel. At least it didn’t happen on our anniversary weekend.

Hurt me, hurt my woman, you leave me no choice but to call in an air strike. At least that’s what it looked like afterward. If you look closely, you can see the twisted galvanized pipe.

After seeing the wreckage on his iPhone, my brother commented “Ay !  War torn Yugoslavia, reporting from the front lines.”

1 Comment

Filed under gardening, home life

The wife: Adventures in Ethnoculinary delights

One of my great joys in life is mocking my wife’s primitive ways in the kitchen. We live minutes away from several cooking stores that sell the latest in kitchen gadgetry, but no!, my wife is content, even joyful at the prospect of grinding pepper in late grandmother’s molcajete when she needs it.

I don’t have the patience for this anthropological field work. When I’m hungry, I grab and go. If there’s no pepper, I do without. Who am I kidding? I go to Noah’s on most mornings.

My wife’s a fabulous cook but I can’t help but mock her ethnic ways. We listen to too much NPR and drink too much coffee in our house, so in the morning, I walk around the kitchen and pretend I’m a field reporter in some remote Mexican village.

High in the mountains of central Mexico, Xochitl rises early in the morning to grind the fiery pepper that will season her family’s food, as her ancestors have done for centuries.

I never realized how Americanized my upbringing was until I married my wife. She cringes when I tell her I never knew tacos were actually made with finely chopped, seasoned meet cooked on a grill, not ground beef. Which goes to show you how sheltered my upbringing was in Salinas, or how underground authentic Mexican cuisine was in those days. These days, you can’t walk 100 feet, it would seem, without running into a neighborhood taqueria.

Leave a comment

Filed under home life, humor, Latinos

In the midst of a wet, dreary winter

After enduring a flooded basement, lagoons of trapped water in front of my porch, clogged rain gutters and a limitless supply of caked mud tracked across our hardwood floors, our Camellia bush and winter Crocuses bloomed. A brief respite from a wet winter, and a reminder that better days lie ahead.






Leave a comment

Filed under gardening, home life

Now I know why the previous owner wanted to move

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

One of the joys of living in a old neighborhood are the handsome old trees that line the streets. Their branches from opposite sides of the street interlock in a canopy, diffusing light to the passersby on the sidewalks and streets.

What are not diffused are the brood of feral leaves that find their way to my doorstep. I spent nearly an hour raking leaves in the dark. I couldn’t stand looking at them for another day. I didn’t even bother picking them up, I just raked them onto the street for the street sweeper to deal with. I pay my taxes. I’m entitled every now and again.


Filed under home life

An open letter to a thief

Dear Thief,

The chairs you stole from our front porch weren’t heirlooms. They were silly little canvas beach chairs purchased at Tarzhay for around $20 each. (see below)


Continue reading


Filed under home life, Stockton

Monkeying around with the camera

The Missus has been after me to take some photos of the view from our front porch and dining room. My camera batteries (both sets) are losing their ability to charge and I’ve been busy taming The Paper That Ate Manhattan. Finally, today, after spending a half-hour in the yard and catching up with dear, dear friends who dropped in for a visit (with goose paté in hand, mind you, cuz my hi-dolla-dolla peeps just roll that way), I grabbed the camera and popped off a few shots.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under home life, photography

Who you gonna call?

Martin Schongauer, St Anthony tormented by Daemons (1480 engraving)

We kicked out an unwelcome guest in our home Sunday evening.

We’re in a new house and getting used to the acoustics. We’re finding that my usual detached mumbling is insufficient for communicating in the house. Or so my wife would have me believe.

So, I was in the restroom while my wife was talking to me in the hallway. She didn’t know I was in the restroom; she was talking into the void and waiting for me to respond.

From her peripheral vision at her right, she saw a shadow pass from one doorway to the next. Thinking it was me, she kept talking. Moments later, I walk out of the bathroom from the opposite direction. There was no way I could have walked to her left unnoticed, since she was standing diagonally, with the restroom at her immediate left.

An evil spirit was living in the house. Continue reading


Filed under home life, spiritual warfare, Stockton

The happy homeowners


Today, we celebrate. We thank the good Lord for his incredible generosity in providing a home for us. In our present housing market slump in which mortgage companies are closing from one day to the next, we are extremely grateful for the resources to purchase a home. As the crisis in Darfur worsens, as bodies continue to gather in Iraqi morgues, as Hondurans and Nicaraguans deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Felix, I have a safe, clean home on a quiet street with old-growth trees and a park nearby.

Thank you, God. You didn’t have to do all of this. There are certainly more deserving people that us. All I can say is that I will use this home as a place of healing and community for those around me.

With keys in hand, the finality of the purchase has hit us square in the face. We are now the proud homeowners of a craftsman bungalow. I can’t believe we own a home. A stylish one at that, with all the wains-coating, hardwood inlay and built-in hutches we can stand. A backyard in which to plant a garden, a garage and a basement in which to putter. Life is good. Continue reading


Filed under home life

The Mac is in the shop

The wife says I look like Lon Cheney from nearly a week of packing, so I’ll make this quick. The Mac is indeed in the shop, apparently the victim of my ham-handed typing and knack for spilling water on the keyboard. I didn’t spill much but it doesn’t take much, as I learned from the local authorized repair shop staff.

If all goes according to plan, I should have my Mac back by tomorrow, er, today or Friday. Thank goodness for Apple Care, the warranty repair program for klutzes like me. Our poor children. My wife is an absolute klutz, too. We’re hoping the klutz genes work like an algebraic equation and one will cancel out the other. Will we raise circus acrobats or Buster Keatons?

Leave a comment

Filed under home life, wifey