Faux Rain

I had forgotten about this until today. We had heavy fog that to people from Los Angeles would refer to as…rain. You can’t see more than 20 ft in front of you in the afternoon while you can see farther the air is so thick with humidity that if you stand around outside for a half hour you look like you walked into a rain storm.

This is always something you have to be careful of especially when you’re driving as the water will build up on your windshield fast and if you don’t have intermittent wipers you have to be quick with your fingers or you’ll run into something or worse, someone.

Heavy fog also tends to be brighter with the tiny water droplets diffusing the light making you at times wonder if you’d see better by putting on sunglasses. I guess the faux rain of heavy fog is kind of like weather that can’t make up it’s mind.

I can remember walking the few blocks to school in this kind of weather and looking like I had been hosed down. Umbrellas don’t help, but you can try. They mind at least keep the top of your head a little drier, but not much. It’s also barely enough to keep you from having to water your garden if you have one and there’s almost nothing worse than seeing your neighbor out in their garden with a raincoat watering. I guess that falls into the same category as putting on your winter coat to go out to barbecue in July. It’s a Sunset thang.

Checking my handy dandy iPhone it tells me that we’ll have to deal with this until Sunday when it will stop. Until then, stay dry my friends.



Summer….IN SUMMER?

There is a little known fact about San Francisco. We like Australia don’t get our summer in summer. June, July and August are normally in the low to mid 60’s and foggy. It’s actually rare that the sun comes out in summer on even a single day. Well thank you global warming, things have changed.

San Francisco typically has its summer wrapped around people’s normal summer. Usually May the weather warms up and the heat rises only to cool down when June comes around. Then sometime late in August we get our Indian summer which runs up to late October. When we have the El Nino weather it’s gone on to last through New Years where one year I remember barbecuing on New Year’s in 80° heat.

Ocean Beach has never been a place for the faint of heart. You usually need a very rustic bearing of Scottish sea farer to stand up to the hardships that Ocean Beach gives you. That wasn’t so yesterday and it won’t be today either. My weather app told me that we could expect up to 78° yesterday and I had the chance to meet up with an old friend out in the Bayview. When I left at noon I walked outside in steamy 90° heat that you never get in June in San Francisco. I immediately turned on the AC only to realize I was half way home before I could feel that there was cool air coming out of it.

As I got home a sweaty mess it was at least in the upper 70° out by the beach. I double check my weather app and notice that the temps are going to stay hot for the rest of the week. I’m come to notice that whatever the weather app says is pretty close to what happens. At least it looks like we’ll be seeing some proper June weather for San Francisco by the weekend when the temps should drop to the upper 60’s, but it’ll be overcast. THAT is what a summer is like in San Francisco.

Stay cool my friends.


Gardening in San Francisco

San Francisco is composed of four separate microclimates. I as you all know live in the fog belt. For a short six years I lived in the banana belt which the hipsters call the mission. Herein lies a problem if you own a house or rent one and want your backyard to look pretty.

My father used to get up on weekends, eat breakfast and go out into the yard about 10am and he wouldn’t come back until 4pm. I am not like my Dad. I am what you’d call the lazy man’s gardener. I don’t like going out every day and pulling weeds. Getting a hose down to the bottom of our 100′ backyard is a pain in the ass because of all the stuff that my Dad added in to our terraced backyard.

When my parents bought the house the backyard was pretty much flat and sand. My dad used to talk about how he’d take the dog and toss it over the back fence and let it run wild in the sand dunes that were behind us. San Francisco dirt is pretty much sand unless you bring it in from somewhere else, which is what my parents would do.

I think they spent the better part of a year driving to Muir Woods and digging up dirt and bringing it home in bags so that the water would stay in the soil for more than a couple of minutes. Still, while my Dad was a great gardner, he really sucked at landscaping. He was one of those, here’s dirt let’s stick a plant in it. That didn’t always work for him.  Well, most of the time it didn’t work for him unless you’re talking about the raised beds he built around the perimeter.

What he left us was basically a weed strewn sandy mess. We tried all kinds of plants. Foxgloves looked pretty good, but they died every year and you had to pull the remains out and replant. Annuals were not for us. We got an idea one day when we were looking at this tiny abused succulent called an Aeonium. We bought it in a tiny pot when we lived closer to the beach and stuck it in our window and forgot about it. It never grew because we hardly ever remembered to water it, but it wouldn’t die so decided to send it off to the graveyard for plants or what you would call, the backyard.

Oddly enough, the fog belt agreed with the aeonium. We didn’t have to water it because of the fog and rains so it started to grow. It moved up to 5″ pot, then a 10″ then finally to an 18″. During this time the winds had blown the pots over several times and broken off pieces. We just stuck those in the dirt of the bulkhead and they started to grow too.

Then my wife got the idea of taking the remains of the jade plants my Dad had in the front and putting them out in back. The brick bulkhead my Dad had built suddenly changed and became alive. The succulents started to grow and multiply filling in the entire bulkhead. We started to move them off to the sides and added landscape ground cover and blue river rocks to keep the weeds out.

Now our work is finished for the most part. We do have to go out a couple of times a year and spray some Round up to kill the weeds that sprout up on top of the landscape fabric, but we now have healthy plants that take little care. I kind of miss the citrus trees that we used to have out in the mission, but Meyer’s Lemon trees do hold up out here in the fog belt if you pay some attention to them. For now we’re happy with our succulents that don’t take much care. I may be a lazy gardener, but that at least looks better than our neighbors who hang their granny panties to dry on the clothesline in their sandy weed infested backyard.


Taking a break…

Hello my friends and readers. I just wanted to let you know that while writing every day doesn’t always take up too much of my time, the researching does and I feel I need to step back a bit so that I’m giving quality and not quantity. I want to make sure I get to fact check anything I put out there unlike some of the modern day journalists. So I’m going to try something…

I’ll write Monday through Friday and keep the weekends to myself. That’ll give me time to travel around San Francisco more and get more pictures of my nefarious deeds and actually have some time to work in audio interviews for the podcast I’m trying to get started. Besides, I need to get out of the house more and moreover, I need to get out of the Sunset District more. Not because I don’t like the fog. It’s one of the things I actually like about the Sunset because I appreciate the sun so much more.

So for now I’m going home early, wait, I’m already home. I guess I’ll go out and take some photos around San Francisco. For today I’ll leave you all with some of my pretty pictures taken at Ocean Beach when we had good weather. Let’s all hope for a nice spring this year! Cheers to my friends at the Ocean Beach Bulletin!

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San Francisco Rain

“Here comes the rain again, falling on my head and it’s drizzly, falling on my head, but it’s not an ocean.” —with apologies to Annie Lennox.

Yes, we have some rain for the first time since the end of January. This contrary to what many people are thinking is not a bad thing. It used to be that San Francisco was a city with two kinds of weather, raining and gonna rain. I never remember it quite like that as there was a fair amount of heavy fog mixed in that my friends from Los Angeles who didn’t know better thought was rain. No that’s not rain, for you guys it’s rain when water from the sky stings your eyes and rusts out your cars.

San Francisco rain is different. It’s usually pretty mild and we have less stormy days with heavy rains than we do sunny days. Thank you global warming. I can’t even remember the last time I needed an umbrella when I went out in the rain, but I usually only had a short distance to walk to get to my car so that isn’t so bad. Here’s a few things that I like about San Francisco rain:

  1. I don’t have to water my garden: My father always disagreed with me on this. He was always out there every day rain or shine watering the lawn and the garden in the back. I have found this caused him to grow more weeds that he had to get out there on nice days to pull. Now while our lawn is a little patchy at the moment, but that’s from the gophers we had, we don’t have to run the sprinkler system from December to April cutting our water bill by tons.
  2. I don’t have to wash the car: Everyone’s car looks wet in the rain. When it’s dry out you have to think about how to make your car gleam and shine if you’re into trying to bag ultra sexy women who will drain your bank account, but I’m happily married and have no need to drain my already drained bank accounts for a piece of eye candy on my arm.
  3. It helps clean the dirt off the streets: Well, maybe not as much as a power sprayer, but you’d be surprised at how much dirt there is out there on your house and trees and cars. Previous to the rain of Monday morning my car was beginning to look like something from King Tut’s tomb when it was first opened now it looks brand new. San Francisco tends to have rather loose soil that is easily moved around by our rather breezy wind conditions so the rain helps this out somewhat, but it leads to another condition as well…

Pollen run off. This should have been number four, but it’s so big right now that it deserves its own section. When you’re walking down the streets you might see puddles with yellowy streaks running through them, kind of like the picture to the left, but not so much. I was reading sfgate.com about the upcoming storms and someone commented that they were happy because it would wash away the pollen and her allergies would go away for awhile.

I hadn’t really thought of that until we made our trip out to the local Trader Joe’s to try and find some produce that wasn’t already past it sale date. In the puddles as we were walking towards the doors to the shop you could see these yellow streaked puddles everywhere. I was wondering if it was really pollen or not and dropped pollen run off into google and found the picture to the left.

Yep, it is definitely pollen run off you’re seeing in the streets. The storms are supposed to be strongest Tuesday night through Wednesday so hopefully we will get all of this washed away and be left with a much cleaner city in the end. Somewhere along in my life I realized I had developed allergies to pollen and I have no idea why. I suppose I was having too much of a good time and the gods said, “This should fix that.” I’ve notice that I haven’t had as much need to blow my nose as much so I like the rain. It makes the plants grow for free and keeps our city clean. Now maybe if we could have it be a warm rain for a couple of days we could make it OK for the homeless to go naked and get a free shower and wash their clothes.