First Blush

Reflections and sightings from [almost] daily jogging at dawn

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sunrise 6:55: Signs of spring on campus

The female Dawn Jogger spotted signs of the silliness and fun of spring all over the Stanford campus this morning. With winter finals behind them, the students appeared to have unpacked - or purchased - things that take full advantage of the recent warm weather. There's little chance that the kayaks (far rear of top photo) will get launched in Lake Lagunita, which is down to a couple of large ponds, which may mean the hammocks get full use. The kid who set up a swimming pool also has a complete barbeque equipment. The female DJ remembers when spring meant the start of 'protest season'...


Monday, March 30, 2009

Sunrise 6:57: Grass cutting time on the farm

When the Dawn Joggers walked up the road between the vines on her cousin's ranch yesterday morning, they could smell fresh cut grass. It looked like the clumps at the end of each row had just been mowed. It's grass cutting time of year on the Stanford farm, too. The crew this morning was in the eucalyptus grove adjacent to the memorial tombs. Not all of the workers dress in hazard wear...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunrise 6:59: Is it a baa or a bleat?

Granddaughter Grace was very clear about the sound the farm animals she met when she went into the Dawn Joggers' cousins' yard yesterday - baa. She spent much of the rest of the afternoon saying "baa" and walking towards the three sheep and one lamb in the hopes (never fulfilled) that they would stand still for her. She was more stalker than shepherd. The sound of "baa" - or was it a "bleat?" - was the first thing the DJs heard this morning in Potter Valley, where the grass is green but spring hasn't quite come. Neither the vines or the oaks have sprouted leaves (good, according to cousin Robin as the chance of frost still exists). It was a gorgeous, cloudless morning and, accompanied by Drake the Labrador retriever, the female DJ jogged up the center road of the vineyard, stopping near the ridge of oaks where they had scattered her father's ashes yesterday afternoon (and where her mother's ashes were scattered five years ago). She was almost back down when encountered the male DJ and dog Molly on their way out - so back up they went. When they returned to the house, a great farm breakfast was waiting...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sunrise 7:00: Wow - what a fab morning

Sunlight streamed through the windows of their second floor rooms of what was once the commanding officer's home at Fort Baker this morning and the birds were twittering (which was once left solely to birds). Tucked as it is almost under the Golden Gate Bridge, the weather at what is now the Cavallo Point Lodge can be quite foggy, but the lingering high pressure made it gloriously sunny and the Dawn Joggers took full advantage. While the male DJ walked up a short hill to some historical bunkers, the female DJ jogged up a longer hill behind the fort, then back down along the waterfront. The met on the front porch of the dining room (Murray Circle - their dinner last night was excellent and creative!) for breakfast where they could watch the comings and goings of the boats on the bay. It was a really satisfactory way to spend a morning...


Friday, March 27, 2009

Sunrise 7:02: Sun up with the herd

The female Dawn Jogger noticed before she set out for a Friday Dish run that the sun was going to rise shortly after seven o'clock this morning so she figured the timing might be right to see it happen from the top of the ridge. She ended up waiting a minute or so - she could almost feel it pushing itself up over the horizon. About a quarter of the cattle herd was on the eastern portion of their Dish grazing area, and the early rays light of the hillside. Yes, it really is moments like this that give life its blessed fabric...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sunrise 7:03: Like an Irish spring...

...but about 30 degree warmer, undoubtedly. That's what the female Dawn Jogger has felt like the past few mornings, now that it's getting lighter and all the greenery can show itself off. The geese have taken over what's left of Lake Lagunita and, like the ducks, don't seem to mind the lack of water. As she was coming back by the horse paddocks, the adjacent field was really glimmering and there were pretty colors in the sky. The resulting photo is pleasingly dramatic but lacking the colors. The male DJ says that's because the dynamic range of the human eye is greater than the sensor in the digital camera and that the brain is superior at enhancing images. From past experience it knows the field is spring green...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sunrise 7:05: Return of the leaves

The female Dawn Jogger is always startled about how quickly deciduous trees go from bare to leafy. She noticed - even in the predawn light - that her favorite oak that sits just below the Big Dish was all of a sudden green. The entire Dish area is at its most lush with the tall grass...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sunrise 7:06: More ducks than water

The rain this past weekend didn't amount to much so the female wasn't surprised that Lake Lagunita hadn't benefit much, if at all, making it increasingly unlikely that there will be boating and ducklings come Easter. The many ducks didn't seem to mind that their temporary home was looking more pond-like daily. As usual they were greeting the dawn with noisy enthusiasm...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunrise 7:08: Sentinels take their stand

The Cantor Museum at Stanford is running "Passion for Collecting" exhibit. When it began the female Dawn Jogger isn't sure nor was aware that the exhibit was not solely contained within the walls of the museum itself. On her jog across campus this morning, she noticed a sculpture next to the Landau Economics Building and stopped to investigate. Named Bedford Sentinels (after the alumni Peter and Kirsten Bedford who made their donation possible), the trio of bronze works is by American sculptor Beverly Pepper. The intricacies of the shape require further study...


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunrise 7:09: All about Grace

The female Dawn Jogger's friends know that she's not much into 'grandma stuff' - under the age of 5 that is. But she has to admit, having 16-month-old Grace around for the past 24 hours has been pretty terrific. She's becoming a little person with lots of words, expressions and opinions. Tears come only when she's disappointed or frustrated and she's rarely whiney. She loves to sing and dance. There's an Elmo that does the hokey pokey; the mechanical toy kept announcing "Elmo's pooped!" but Grace wanted to keep dancing. This morning after some play time to herself following breakfast, the DJs took off for a walk to Tinker Playground, which is almost across the street from 1100 Hillview Drive (now on the market - John and Julie plan to take a peak in) and the same tot yard that Grace's father played in as a baby. Swinging was the hands down favorite activity. She does know how to look like a princess when sitting in a Queen Anne chair...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sunrise 7:11: Clouds are the star today

Rain is predicated today but when the female Dawn Jogger headed out on her full circuit Big Dish run the sun was still shining brightly. It set off the tall green grass in the fields this year's herd hadn't been grazing in. By the time she'd gone up, down and up again and was ready for the final descent back to Piers Lane, clouds were obscuring the sun - but in a fantastic pattern. Everywhere she looked there was another great scene ready to be photographed. The male DJ like today's selected photo the best..


Friday, March 20, 2009

Sunrise 7:12: New mystery bike

The female Dawn Jogger isn't quite sure when the bike that's been tethered for years to a pole on the corner of Oak and Sand Hill went away. She knows it was in its place for most of last year and appeared first sometime in 2006 when the Sand Hill construction was going on. The mystery is that it seemed always to be in place - who was the rider and when did the bike get ridden? In the last week or so, she's spotted a new mystery bike, this one propped up against a fence adjacent to the bike bridge over San Francisquito Creek at the end of San Mateo Drive. It, too, seems not to move. But maybe its rider claims it later in the morning...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sunrise 7:14: Lake by moonlight

It's a spring pleasure to jog around Lake Lagunita when it has enough water to provide temporary housing for ducks and geese. The time change - with the sun rising about the same time the female Dawn Jogger returns home - means viewing isn't optimum but the setting is tranquil (except for all the quacking) nevertheless. The moon was still overhead this morning...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sunrise 7:15: Moon returns

The almost full moon was a blessing on the first dark morning that the female Dawn Jogger got up to run after returning from New Orleans following the beginning of daylight savings time. But then it started waning (as moons do in cycles) and has also been hidden by clouds, making for even darker mornings. It was back this morning, providing good light as she scampered across the first and second fairways on the way to her Wednesday Dish run. And it planted itself in good juxtaposition next to the Big Dish itself...


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sunrise 7:18: Pretty sunrise

It's still dark the whole way around Lake Lagunita when the female Dawn Jogger does her loop. Like last week, the she could only hear, not see, the ducks like have taken residence in the rapidly shrinking body of water. It wasn't until she was on her way back home that a pretty sunrise appeared. The fields are all a glimmering green, today in salute of St. Patrick...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunrise 7:18: Construction continues

There's not a lot the female Dawn Jogger can see in the dark but the new fence and construction sign around Crothers was impossible to miss. Stanford is in the "largest construction program in recent memory" Jack Cleary, associate vice president for Academic Projects and Operations told the Stanford Daily. This despite the university suspending $1.3 billion in construction projects. Construction on campus has been constant since the DJs moved north, some due to damage from the 1989 earthquake...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunrise 7:20: Inside 1100 Hillview Drive

The female Dawn Jogger got up and out early today, doing a neighborhood jog before church. Magnolias are at their peak. Then after busy morning at church - including the pleasure of hearing another great talk by the Rev. John Kater - the DJs went by the open house at 1100 Hillview Drive. It was the first time they'd been inside the home where the female DJ grew up since her parents sold it. The big changes were some new windows and built ins, granite counters in the kitchen and lots of bright paint. Otherwise it was much the same. A few lumps in her throat were unavoidable...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sunrise 7:21: Geese have arrived

The Dawn Joggers headed to Baylands for their Saturday morning walk/jog. The big difference since they were there six weeks ago (other than the absence of the dense fog) was the arrival of the geese - lots and lots of them. Except for the stretch along the Bayshore frontage road, the female could hear geese sounds the whole time she was jogging. And more than once she had to watch her footing owing to the amount of goose poop. The male DJ got a great goose in-flight shot...


Friday, March 13, 2009

Sunrise 7:23: Cold, dark and damp

The female Dawn Jogger is cranky. She can't break out of the spell of the languid pace of New Orleans, of walking and always hearing music somewhere in the distance, of eating more oysters cooked yet another way. Even a semi full Lake Lagunita can't cheer here. She can hear the ducks and geese but it's too dark to see them, the moon hidden by a thick overcast this morning. The male DJ promises a special dinner tonight...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sunrise 7:24: Fueled by music and moonlight

It was back to the grind for the female Dawn Jogger this morning - in the darkness albeit one fueled by the light of a full moon. Although she chose to go up and over the Dish in an attempt to burn some calories brought home from New Orleans, she couldn't put the city entirely behind her, keeping her play list on that city's music on her iPod shuffle. Her trusty camera, though, was tuckered out from their travels - the battery had died, so she missed a good shot of the moon shining down on the grazing herd. It really was a good trip...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sunrise 7:15: Along the mighty MIssissippi

The fog was only on the river this morning, making for prettier scenes this last morning in New Orleans - and the female Dawn Jogger's last jog on the Mississippi levee. A barge (middle of top photo) is ghostlike in the mist. One of the herd of feral cats that lives under the ferry dock next to Riverwalk agreed to pose (most scamper away). The DJs are heading for breakfast at Stanley followed by beignets at Cafe du Monde...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sunrise 7:16: Where did the river go?

The female DJ was awakened just before sunrise with the tweeting, chirping, text messaging sound of the male DJ's iPhone going off frequently, the modern day version of birthday greetings (it's his day). So she decided to head to the levee of the Mississippi for an eye-opening morning jog. But where did the river go? The ground fog was so thick that the river was invisible even though she was only 10 feet away. It did make for a couple of atmospheric photos; the sun reflected in the water was taken as the fog was lifting. The celebration began last night with a great meal at Stella! that included a lengthy visit with the chef explaining his new menu...

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sunrise 7:28: Walking through New Orleans

The female Dawn Jogger had a literary theme on her mind as the DJs set out for a walk through the streets of New Orleans this morning after a very pleasant breakfast in their courtyard. Their part of the French Quarter is quiet and residential, and just a couple of blocks away on Barracks St. was the home (or was the home) of Nine Lives character Frank Minyard, who was the New Orleans coroner (the female DJ is still in the pre-hurrican part of the book). They checked it out and noted the slave quarters in the back (where Minyard resided) before heading down (actually probably up) to the river.

New Orleans is a city of encounters - the kitchen helper who chatted with the female DJ up while she photographed a colorful locker through the window, the elderly trumpet player/singer who stopped the female DJ and crooned while the male DJ snapped photos, the bar crowd (midday buzz apparent) at the Old Point where they stopped for a beer after walking along the levee in Algiers, reached by ferry across the Mississippi. (Finding great dive bars has always been a favorite pastime of the DJs, albeit one they don't often admit, and the Old Point should be on the historic record of such places - it even had the candy apple red old Lincoln Continental in front.)

If just drinking in the atmosphere wasn't enough to give them a Tennessee Williams feel, they ate lunch at Stanley and plan dinner at Stella! (The exclamation point is part of the name). Both are owned by local celebrity chef Scott Boswell who was using the afternoon at Stanley to work on a future project. It really is fun just to wander around...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sunrise 7:18: Alive in the city of New Orleans

It was clear from their first walk through the French Quarter last night on their way to dinner that they'd left the Bay Area far behind. There were voodoo and ghost tours taking place on every street corner, and a cathedral square was rimmed with fortune tellers. Things are done differently in New Orleans as the good book the city, Nine Lives, points out. Reading it all day yesterday primed the female DJ for what she was to see (even though she'd been here before).

Their courtyard room at the Soniat House danced with light this morning, following a brief rain shower. Off they headed to church - Trinity Episcopal in the Garden District - were they were promptly welcomed by its charismatic rector, the Rev. Henry Holt. The church is in the part of New Orleans where change comes gradually (according to Nine Lives) and clearly the DJs were not part of the regulars (the men still wear coats and ties - the users list included one of the names from the book). They walked the Garden District before and after a fun jazz brunch at Commander Palace, and past the house at 2525 St. Charles inhabited (still?) by Nine Lives character Billy Grace. It's an immense, imposing home and no photo can quite show off its grandeur.

They took the streetcar back to Canal Street and walked the 12 or so blocks back to the Soniat House, which is in a quiet part of the French Quarter next to an Ursuline convent. They head out soon for some Cajun music before dinner. Such a busy, on the go schedule wouldn't have been possible a year ago - all credit to the male DJ's hard work...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Sunrise 6:32: NOLA bound

The Dawn Joggers saw the sunrise together this morning, a big fiery ball coming up over the eastern hills, as they headed to SFO to catch their flight to New Orleans. It's a culinary journey to celebrate the male DJ's birthday. Hoping to catch some of the sounds of the Big Easy as well...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Sunrise 6:33: Lovely last morning of light

The female Dawn Jogger will be spared the initial harsh reality of the time change next week - when darkness again descends on the dawn - as the first three days won't be a 'get-up-and-go-to-work' day. (The DJs head off tomorrow on a jaunt - little birthday treat for the male DJ). But she nevertheless relished every glorious moment of her late winter outing in the light of day this morning as she went up and over the Dish. It was pretty every where she looked - so green, so sparkling. And the clouds formed a great pattern in the sky behind the Dish...


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Sunrise 6:35: 1100 Hillview Drive for sale

The female Dawn Jogger's friend Barb had alerted her that the Hubbard home on 1100 Hillview Drive was on the market earlier this week, and it had been at the back of her mind to alter her Thursday jogging route so that she could swing by and see the "for sale" sign herself. The light rain this morning cinched the deal - no need to slog through the mud around Lake Lagunita. More has stayed the same with her family home than has changed in the since years since her parents reluctantly sold the home they so loved in 2001 and moved to a senior housing complex. It's yellow now and new windows have been added, a good addition due to busy Santa Cruz Ave.(which was just a quiet street when the house was purchased new in 1951). Barb reports that there are now granite counter tops and some nice built in cabinets, but the '50s vintage tile in both bathrooms remains. The planter box on the front porch that her father built is still there as is the light at the end of the walkway. The female DJ continued down Hillview Drive, past the Moffets, Otts, Connors, Rundells, Ackles, Flickas, Giskes, Patersons. At each doorway she could see the Donna Reed-style mom with apron on and cookies in hand. It really was that way growing up on Hillview Drive...


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sunrise 6:35: Bright shiny morning

The female Dawn Jogger was backed at it this morning after yesterday's torrential rain. (The creek is running to strongly the DJs can hear it from their backyard). It was soggy everywhere - large puddles on the first and second fairway and water streaming down from the highest area of the Dish. When the sun came up everything took on a silvery shimmer.
And a rainbow set off the scene...


Monday, March 02, 2009

Sunrise 6:39: Showery Monday

The rain just keeps coming. After a blustery and rainy Sunday, showers persisted this morning, enough to get the female Dawn Jogger pretty soaked. A group of exercisers had sought refuge under the arches adjacent to the main plaza. Yes, we need the moisture but...