First Blush

Reflections and sightings from [almost] daily jogging at dawn

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sunrise 6:56: Game day - go Bruins

The female Dawn Jogger completed her Saturday Big Dish route and then read a couple of sports section to get a morning climate check on Final Four game day. None of the writers offers much hope of a Bruin victory over the Gators. One dissenter is LA Times' columnist Bill Plaschke, who admits to picking UCLA to lose in year's past. He writes he's not making a "seventh mistake. UCLA beats Florida tonight" citing the "Howland effect," the "championship effect," and "the Collishipp effect." The female DJ admits to getting overly worked up by these big games and predicts that the male DJ will admonish her to stop swearing like a sailor before the tonight's game is over. At least the police cows (grazing on Stanford land, no less) were sporting Bruin blue and gold...

Friday, March 30, 2007

Sunrise 6:58: Blue and gold morning

It's about 36 hours to tip off and to keep the karma going the female Dawn Jogger was on the look out for some more yellow/gold flowers. She it the jacket pocket on Yale Ave. (how collegiate) in Menlo with a Bruin jersey blue mailbox. Now how can she paint the police cows blue and gold tomorrow...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sunrise 6:59: Countdown to game

The female Dawn Jogger thinks it worked pretty well last well, posting yellow/gold flowers on Thursday, which, was actual game day. This will be countdown to game day on Saturday when the Bruin take on the Gators for the right to play in the national championship. It turns the female DJ's morning outings into a kind of yellow scavenger hunt. These flowers were spotted on a trellis adjacent to Stanford dorm...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sunrise 7:01: Morning of sounds, not sights

The ducks sounded disappointed. That's what the female Dawn Jogger thought as she jogged along along Junipero Serra adjacent to Lake Lagunita. The barest hint of first light was on the horizon, and, overhead, a pair of mallards was circling the dry lakebed and quacking loudly. Were they a returning pair dismayed to find no water? Ten minutes later, the female DJ was atop the Big Dish ridge when she heard a sound that she couldn't identify. Seconds later six geese flew directly above her; it was so quiet that she could hear the sound of their wings in the air. One sighting: the herd has returned - or a new herd has appeared...


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sunrsie 7:02: Red sky, red barn

The female Dawn Jogger was around the lake before the sun made its appearance today.
By the time she was passing the Stanford Red Barn, the reflection was making for a red morning. Appropriate for a school whose mascot is the color Cardinal...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sunrise 7:04: Living versus dying

The Dawn Joggers have talked a lot about the Edwards decision to continue in the race for President. They've read the news analysis and watched the couple on 60 Minutes last night. The female DJ thought more about it on her jog across the Stanford campus this morning. She gets the "I don't want to be pitied" notion easily. It's been one of the hardest aspects of the male DJ's illness. ("You were such a wonderful couple" well-intentioned folks have said to them.) It's also been hard because friends and family want answers: what's the prognosis. Like the Edwards, the DJs don't have pollyanna glasses on. They understand the seriousness of a treatable but incurable cancer. And also like the Edwards, they just don't know what the course of the illness will be. So, they can go on living, which means trying to live each day in a normal manner. Or they can start dying, which, ironically, could mean "spending more time with family," "cutting back on work," "doing the things you always wanted to be doing." To some those things might seem like "getting your priorities right." To a couple facing life-threatening illness, they may also seem like dying. The tulips are on display in the community plot fo the senior housing complex on Sand Hill...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sunrise 7:05: It's baby time

The female Dawn Jogger first spotted the pair of Blue Herons on her Wednesday Dish run. While she and the male DJ have seen egrets in the Dish area over the years, neither could recall seeing a Blue Heron, let along a pair, even though the species of "Big Bird" was frequently spotted on the dry lakebed of Lagunita. The pair was in a similar place - on the Alpine Rd. side - when the female DJ did her Saturday jog. This morning she took Cassie for a walk around the Lake. The same pair (she presumes) was hunting in a small open area near Governors Corners. She'd like to think that they're a nesting pair, although the monogamous species usually nest in colonies.

There was bigger news on the nesting front last night at a birthday dinner for the male DJ at Cathy and Mike's. (The Levy clan - Terye, Jacob, Josh and Lauren - was also in attendance.) Julie and John brought a gift-wrapped present, which upon opening, revealed a pacifer with a note: "Happy Birthday Grandpa! See you in November. Love, Baby." Wow, a lot to process, but what a perfect moment to share with friends who are like family...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sunrise 7:07: Keeping golden

It was an uneventful Big Dish outing. The female Dawn Jogger snapped a couple of good shots of the hillside, now carpeted with pale purple wildflowers. And there was a good shot of the "sculpture tree" on the Alpine Rd. side with fog creeping over Windy Hill. But the publishing of yellow/good flowers the over the past two days has been working, and she was too superstitious to break the flow. Win another one, Bruins...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sunrise 7:08: Altered route

The female Dawn Jogger took a slightly altered route this morning that took her buy the Allied Arts and a bushy plant with huge yellow flowers that she doesn't remember seeing before. (Actually the petals themselves are small but the effect is large.) Because of her lack of botanical knowledge, it will go unidentified. She admires people who can name everything...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sunrise 7:10: Morning poppies

The female Dawn Jogger was about 10 minutes later than usual on her Lake Lagunita route this morning. While sun the wasn't up by the time she made it around the lake, it had gotten high enough in the sky to start waking up a poppy stand at Oak Ave. and Sand Hill Road. She's counting on Aaron Affalo waking up this evening. Go Bruins...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sunrise 7:11: Day after spring

The female Dawn Jogger heard the KFOG newscaster declare today the first day of spring. The calendar date of March 21 would be correct - if this was the UK instead of the US.
As Natalie Angier (one of the DJs all-time favorite science writers) points out yesterday in an article in the New York Times, "Coordinated Universal Time is what used to be called Greenwich Mean Time, but the new name doesn’t make it any more universal than it ever was, and it remains a time zone centered in Britain. For those of us in the United States, the vernal equinox arrives while it is still the evening of March 20." She goes on to give a wonderfully poetic account of the earth's tilt and seasonality. Even a half day late, it was a pretty morning atop the Dish, though the sun didn't make its first appearance of spring until the female DJ was well down the Alpine Rd. side. The female DJ admits to being thrilled that she's not along in being an observer of the sun's tilt; thank you, Natalie...


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sunrise 7:13: Startling images

The female Dawn Jogger is rarely nervous jogging alone in the dark. Most areas are well lit and wide; the Dawn Community is out and about. But she's never liked the new path along Sand Hill that is just now getting lights installed. It was very dark this morning with thick rain clouds overhead. As she started down the new path toward Stock Farm Road, she could see a figure ahead in a long garment of some kind (bathrobe?). The attire was not typical, neither jogging nor work clothes, so to be cautious, she slowed to a walk, keeping the figure ahead of her. The new path is not only dark, it has a fence on both sides, leaving fewer options for escape. The path curves slightly in an area where there are more bushy trees, and as she came around the curve, she could no longer see the figure. Just as she was about to turn back the other way, a Dawn Community member who she sees but doesn't know, came along in his distinctive white running suit, so she moved ahead with him. The person in the long garment had disappeared. Yep, it was creepy. The painting, snapped through a window of the LGBT Resource Center as she made her way across campus, matched her mood. Illusions get the best of all of us...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sunrise 7:15: Mustard madness

Wild mustard is at its best in March in the Bay Area. Where once a massive mustard field stood is now Stanford West housing, but along the remaining walking path, the plant is still in evidence. Food writer Linda Gilbert gives a great rundown of how mustard got here and how to use it. The DJs recall flying into Heathrow late spring and seeing what the English call rapeseed fields...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sunrise 7:16: Rejoice! A new rector arrives

It was up at first blush for the female Dawn Jogger for a quick trip around Lake Lagunita - and a rare appearance for the DJs at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church's 10:00 am service. The occasion was to welcome the new rector, the Rev. Michael Spillane, whose first Sunday was today. The female DJ was a member of the rector search committee, an assignment that spanned 2006 and a process distinct from other executive searches. She had been one of three committee members who traveled to Boise last fall to inteview the then candidate. Father Mike's message from the pulpit: "Rejoice!" (Demonstrating the luck of his Irish heritage, he received the gift of an easy Gospel passage, Jesus' parable on the return of the prodigal son.) Trinity's tradition is to greet a new rector with a "pounding," the giving of non-perishable gifts to welcome him and his family and equip the rectory, and a table had been set up in the courtyard. It's back at 5:00 for the DJ's "real" service and then a celebratory dinner...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sunrise 7:18: Wearing of the green

The area around the Big Dish was doing its "green" best to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. The female Dawn Jogger noticed that the oaks are sprouting new leaves. (The Dish area also has a fair number of deciduous oaks.) To the surprise of many (she thinks) St. Patrick was not Irish but an English or Scottish missionary to Ireland. It's been a religious festival in Ireland for hundreds of years; in fact, the pubs were required to close on March 17 until the 1970s. The parades associated with the day are a U.S. invention. The female DJ was dismayed to read earlier in the week a movement to secularize St. Patrick's Day by renaming it Shamrock Day...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sunrise 7:19: Morning cheer (in the dark)

It was still dark when the female Dawn Jogger spotted daisy like wildflowers in the Stanford arboretum. She noted that sun should be shining brightly on them a regular March morning but needed Silvio's flash to snap a photo in the new early daylight savings time March. Gold flowers, a good omen for the Bruins...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sunrise 7:21: Matter of minutes

The female Dawn Jogger left the house just a few minutes later than usual this morning. But those minutes coupled with the minutes gained on the time of sunrise made it possible for her to see as she went around the lake. No sign of the sun but at least light in the sky. Another sign met her on the new 'bad' bike path - notice of its closure from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm for the next month in order to put lights in. On that schedule, the lights well be in place when needed the least...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sunrise 7:22: Meet Madison

The female Dawn Jogger knew it was going to be dark on the Dish this morning, but she was struck with how really dark it was going up the hill from the Junipero Serra entrance. It seemed much darker than she recalled from late January when she first started the Wednesday Dish jogs. If there were critters lurking on either side of the paved path, she certainly couldn't see them. The first rays of light were just appearing when she reached the top. She was curious if the usual Wednesday suspects would be joining her in the dark, and the answer was largely, yes, with the exception of one man she's seen every time, who's just starting out when she's coming down the Piers Lane side. As she headed back home along Alpine, she encountered a small dog and its mistress, who were right on schedule. They stopped to chat at the corner of Sand Hill, and she was formally introduced to Madison, part Yorkie and part Bichon Frise. According to her owner, she loves to jog, especially on her way home. Sort of like a horse on the way back to the barn...

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sunrise 7:24: Pretty in pink morning

The female Dawn Jogger finds one small silver lining in being plunged back into darkness in the morning. Over the next few weeks, until it gets to be daylight again, she knows she'll see some spectacular sunrises. She was near the Red Barn today when she turned to the West and saw a pretty in pink sky. The Stanford clock tower is confused by the March time change; it only struck six times...


Monday, March 12, 2007

Sunrise 7:25: Chirps in the dark

One of the things that the female Dawn Jogger thought would be absent in the newly-dark March was bird sounds, so delightful in the light of spring. But she was surprised to hear them chirping and singing away long before sunrise. Arent't they confused to be plunged suddenly back into winter darkness just as the nest building is getting done in earnest? The sun's first blush could be seen by the San Mateo Drive bike bridge...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunrise 7:19: Surfs up - sun, too

On this first day of daylights savings time - and the third day of the surprise kidnap birthday, the Dawn Joggers and Cassie hit the beach, Pismo Beach. While the male DJ and Cassie nosed (literally) around the quaint downtown area, the female DJ did a four mile jog along the broad, flat beach, spotting some early morning surfers, who expressed disappointment at the swellls compared to yesterday. After breakfast, the went down to the very pretty cove near their hotel for one last walk before heading home to celebrate Julie's birthday. The female DJ is steeling herself for the darkness of a work day morning tomorrow...


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sunrise 6:20: Going California classic

Continuing the tradition of the kidnap birthday surprise, the female Dawn Jogger loaded the male DJ and Cassie into the Escape Hybrid yesterday afternoon and headed south down 101. When she went to UCLA, 101 was the driving route as 5 hadn't been built. Many of the landmarks remain, including Camp Roberts - always so hot - where her father trained for WWII and the A&W that she always stopped at with her friend Stephanie. The destination this time was Pismo Beach where they plan to explore the classic California pier and the dunes today. It was soon after sunrise that she and Cassie strolled along the bluffs...Update: the pier displays the California class theme...


Friday, March 09, 2007

Sunrise 6:29: Oaks are taken seriously

Just for some diversity, the female Dawn Jogger took an entirely different route this morning. She went up behind Oak Knoll School to an unincorporated area of Menlo Park known by some as University Park. It's locally famous: Ken Kesey and Jerry Garcia were once residents. Fifteen years ago when the DJs moved to the adjoining neighborhood, the University Park homes were small, some almost cabin like. That's changed, and there are now an increasing number of mini, mini-mansions. But neighborhood pride remains. A magnificant oak once stood in the middle of Perry Avenue - it was quite a landmark. It fell, as old oaks are prone to do. The residents planted a new oak - its trunk is only about eight inches in circumference - and erected a plaque. That's the kind of action that binds communities...


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sunrise 6:31: Lake of green

The female Dawn Jogger is starting to get pretty discouraged about Lake Lagunita actually becoming a lake this year. Clearly there will need to be a series of heavy rain storms followed by Stanford opening the spigot so that water from other areas on its land can flow in. For now the lake is a pretty grass meadow. The Bay Area is at its green best around St. Patrick's Day...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sunrise 6:32: Underground passage

The female Dawn Jogger was really hoping for a spectacular sunrise, knowing that the next few Wednesday Dish runs will be spent back in darkness (thanks to daylight savings time starting this weekend). But instead she got a thick cloud cover and a gloomy morning. So with focus elsewhere, she stopped to inspect the California tiger salamander tunnel that runs under Junipero Serra. This endangered amphibian has long migrated from the area of the Dish to Lake Lagunita. The problem is the well-travelled road. So some years ago the tunnel was constructed as an underground passage. She has no idea if the salamanders think it's a good idea...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sunrise 6:38: Oak tree down

The first time the female Dawn Jogger experienced the sound of a large, mature oak falling was in South Pasadena when a tree went down in the DJ's front yard, just barely missing Nana and Booka's car. It provided a great natural fort for John and his boyhood friends for the next month or so. An oak in the field near the Red Barn's corrals fell sometime between last Thursday and today. Old oaks often fall after a period of heavy rain when the ground has become saturated. At this time of year, the now fallen oak may provide good nesting ground for some creature...


Monday, March 05, 2007

Sunrise 6:35: Morning display

It's the kind of morning display that the female Dawn Jogger saw this morning that she'll miss next week when the darkness of daylights savings times descends. The clouds were vibrant pink as she jogged along the new practice golf course. By the time she headed across Roble field, they'd softened in hue but were even prettier. Portend for a better week to come...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunrise 6:37: Small step to normalcy

There's no denying that it's been a rough two weeks for the Dawn Joggers, clearly one of the most challenging since the male DJ's brain journey began last October. While clearly far from feeling as good as he did for most of January and February, the male DJ felt just a tad bit better than he has since the overwhelming fatigue compounded by a virus hit him. Being a warm spring day, the DJs ached for a hint of normalcy and, with Cassie in tow, drove over to Stanford to be close enough to stroll around [dry] Lake Lagunita without needing to walk the mile from home to lake bank and back. A tree in bloom brought some cheer...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sunrise 6:38: Oak against the hill

It may be the greenness of the grass that set off this one particular oak on the Big Dish ridge. The female Dawn Jogger doesn't recall noticing before how it seems to be pulling itself uphill as if it's trying to reach the top. The famous quote from a George Herbert poem - "storms make the oak grow deeper roots" - seems fitting both to this tree's life and the challenging events the DJs faced this past week. Ironically, they happened to read about Herbert on March 1. He was that day's "saint" in Robert Ellsberg's All Saints. Ellsberg writes that Herbert's poetry "seems to reflect the virtures of balance and moderation so prized in Anglican spirituality." Balance and moderation appear to be lost in the current Anglican controversy...

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Sunrise 6:40: Earthquake jitters

The female Dawn Jogger thinks many of the older Stanford buildings show off best at sunrise, the rays giving them a golden hue. She happened to pass the old Chemistry Building this morning, the day after the East Bay, at least, got a good shaking from a 4.3 earthquake. The Chemistry Building, now known as Old Chem, was one of three buildings that Jane Lathrop Stanford pushed to have built following her husband's death - and the only one to survive the 1906 quake, which caused considerable damage on campus. It was repaired immediately and served students until 1986 when it closed due to structural and maintenance issues. It sustained more damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta quake and remains a fenced historical relic today. Will some alum eventually write a very big check to save it?...


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sunrise 6:41: March toward darkness

Well to be frank, when the female Dawn Jogger started this post many hours ago, she was going to lament the countdown to morning darkness that will descend March 11 with the earlier start of daylight savings time. It will mean it's less likely, at least until the sun catches up, that she'll have friendly encounters like she had this morning with the workman giving the Stanford Red Barn paddock horses their morning breakfast. He thought it was cool that she chronicles the dawn...