Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Sea Lions Are Back on Seal Rock!


Living two blocks from Ocean Beach, Seal Rock, Lands End and the ruins of the Sutro Baths, I often walk or run around the area. A few weeks ago, I heard something unusual: It sounded like the bark of sea lions, which most commonly haul themselves onto the floating docks at Pier 39. (Live Web cam here.)

But while Seal Rock used to be a popular sunning spot for the pinnipeds, I understood from researching and writing this story that they mysteriously had abandoned the hangout around the time of the '89 earthquake.

So today, when I set out for my walk, I looped binoculars around my neck and determined to get to the bottom of this. (Cue Harriet the Spy, my inspiration.)

Sure enough, when I reached the Lands End parking lot and peered through the goggles, there were sea lions atop Seal Rock!

I padded down the trail for a closer look and, as luck would have it, ran into a volunteer from the Marine Mammal Center who had been called on a report of a stranding (the subject of the call, luckily, had returned to the ocean). In fact, this volunteer had been featured in a story by a colleague of mine about a disturbing increase in the incidents of sick sea lions.

He said that this year, for some undetermined reason, hundreds of pups have shown up much farther north than usual.

I put the spy glasses to my eyes again and couldn't believe what I saw -- what I previously had taken for vegetation on the rock was actually hundreds of chocolate brown pups.

In the dead of night, through my bedroom window, I listen to the sound of waves crashing. I can only hope a time comes when the pups' barking will punctuate the lull of the ocean and the moans of the moody fog horn.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Ridiculous Things Delight Me

It was one of those days. Long and chock full of "moles" needing to be whacked. Like the Rashomon interpretations of our new deadlines (it's kind of like a scavenger hunt for good information in the newsroom).

So I was all kinds of prickly when I reached the Walgreens by my house, where I was picking up some dog food. When I came across the most ridiculous dog bed -- on sale! -- that I just had to buy. I whisked it to the cashier and announced, "I'll take this ridiculous thing." I couldn't keep the smile from my face.

I have to admit: I am that consumer -- the definition of impulsive and impressionable.

So here it is, before and after Lucy found it. (1 1/2 cats included to show actual size.)


Sunday, July 05, 2009

My Neighbors Stink.


I happened to look out the window this afternoon and caught a phalanx of four skunks slinking across my neighbor's back yard. I've seen coyotes and raccoons, and once a skunk on my steps in Noe Valley (it was so cute I had to restrain myself from coming right up to it and trying to pet it), but never around here. I'm a bit concerned for them to be out in broad daylight, as they are nocturnal, and hawks commonly frequent this area. They moved so gracefully, and close together, that at first I couldn't tell how many there were. I was amused at how like cartoon skunk Pepe Le Pew they looked. Adding to the scenario was a black-and-white neighborhood cat who was watching them, camouflaged in the grass, no doubt to avoid their ardor.