Friday, June 19, 2009

Birds I'm Watching: Trip to MacKerricher State Park, Near Fort Bragg

Drove up to Mendocino and Fort Bragg yesterday. Took a walk around the small lake at MacKerricher State Park. Didn't see a lot, but did see an Osprey over the lake, a tree swallow pair feeding an out-of-the-nest baby, and heard marsh wrens. There were many tree swallows and barn swallows scooping up insects over the water. Also saw what was probably an immature great blue heron. On the way up, stopped at Bodega Bay. Saw common terns, pelicans, and marbled godwits.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cost of Health Care Reform: $1.6 Trillion Seems Cheap

Remember when John Kerry was ridiculed for suggesting the Iraq war might eventually cost the country $200 billion? I think at the time, the Bush people were saying it would cost around $50 billion. According to the estimates I can find on the Internet, the Iraq war has now cost anywhere from $600 to $850 billion over about six years, and some say the eventual total cost is likely to be around $3 trillion. So why are lawmakers balking at new estimates from the Congressional Budget Office that reforming the health care system might cost as much as $1.6 trillion--and that over ten years, not six? The only conclusion that seems logical is to say that our government feels more comfortable spending money to kill people than it does spending money to provide health care. What does that say about us? Nothing good. Or am I missing something?

Birds I'm Watching: Feeder Wars and Woodpecker Blues

Woke up this morning to the sound of a pair of acorn woodpeckers banging on the gutters and then fighting with the scrub jays over access to the bird feeder. Both birds are big enough to trip the anti-squirrel device on the feeder (their weight lowers a sheath over the feeding holes), but both are smart enough to have learned to hold the holes open with one foot long enough to grab something. If I were a blues musician, I would have written something like this.

Woke up this morning, woodpeckers on my roof
Woke up this morning, woodpeckers on my roof
Never heard so loud a bangin'
Done knocked my head right off

Although a recipient of a Living Blues Award,  I'm not a blues musician, so I'll leave it at that.

Also had a big flock of bushtits at the fountain this morning--probably about thirty. I love to watch them flop around in the water, twittering all the while. Who says Twitter is new?

Food I'm Eating: Excellent Dinner at Syrah Bistro in Santa Rosa

Had an excellent dinner at Syrah Bistro last night. Enjoyed the food along with a good rosé from Acorn--their 2008 Russian River  Valley Alegria Vineyards Rosato. The winery appears to be in Healdsburg, which is close by. I'll have to go visit. The wine is made from a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, and Sangiovese. In other words, it's a field blend rosé, which is rather unusual. It was substantial, but crisp. It was perfect with a Caesar's salad, Monterey Bay sardines, lemon-scented squid, and pork in a Port wine and currant reduction sauce. Yum. The sardines came with crostini topped with a fava bean pesto. The pork was served on a bed of barley. All presented very attractively. Good service. Good wine list. Pricey, but probably worth it. Glass wines overpriced (why do restaurants insist on doing this?). Overall, however, I can recommend Syrah Bistro. If I were to nitpick, I'd complain about the Caesar's salad. Actually, there's a whole essay I want to write about the Caesar's salad. I'll save it for that.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Beekeeping: Opened the Hive Today (June 15, 2009)

I opened the hive today for the first time this season. Even after the huge swarm that left a few weeks back, the place is humming with activity and packed with bees--and honey! It looks like two full shallow supers are nearly full of capped honey (see photo). It will be nice to have a supply again after having lost the bees two seasons ago. There are still many flowers in bloom and there is plenty of nectar around, so I expect them to quickly fill the third super I added today.
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