Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Last month, just before our Oakland trip, I came down with a beautiful head cold. I spent the two days before we drove out in bed, and was pretty fuzzy during the trip itself. It’s been kind of hanging around since then, so yesterday I went off to the doctor’s to find out what was going on. Well, the results: it’s not a sinus infection; I’ve developed some pretty good allergies.

I’ve never had problems before, with all the growth and plantings we did in San Diego I never had a reaction to anything. B was hit in the springtime, and is very knowledgeable in all over the counter allergy medications available. But three years in the desert and now I have problems.

I was out spraying the olive trees again this past weekend. We have two big trees out front that right now are just full of blooms. We spray then with a product that is supposed to stop fruit set and prevent the flowers from turning into olives, it works, but not totally. Which is why the ground under the trees is covered with olives from last year. We’ve got pigeons down there eating the olives all winter, and this morning as I walked out there were still some doves and a mockingbird munching away. If I didn’t spray we would end up with tons of olives instead of just a few buckets full. Hope I sprayed in time this year, our driveway is covered with purple stains from driving over the fruit last winter. As I was spraying I could see drifts of yellow pollen falling down. Our sidewalks are covered in what looks like yellow chalk from all the pollen. Now the yard looks like it has had a light snowfall from all the blossoms falling down.

Spring is an active time in the desert for allergies. Because plants are so far apart and insects so rare most plants have come to depend on the wind for pollination. This means that lots of pollen must be produced, which really flies around on any slight breeze. Springtime is a big desert bloom period, as plants are still thriving off of winter rainfall and trying to get seeds out before the summer heat sets in. This way the resulting seeds will be ready next winter for any water that falls. But there are so many different plants that something is in bloom almost all year ‘round, so those with allergies can get hit any season of the year. But the nice thing about spring is the fragrance – every bush has a different scent. So as you walk around besides seeing the flowers you are enveloped in the real feel of them.

My doctor is rather amusing – she also has only been in Vegas for a few years. It’s strange having a doctor about the same age as my kids. I never thought that I would get old, but somehow here I am. Playing with grandkid when it seems like we were just talking about having kids. But Dr. Mary said that she too has developed allergies since moving here. She asked if I was taking any over the counter medications, and when I asked her if she was she laughed and said no, she just hit the samples cabinet. She said that nose spray that is getting lots of advertising time – the one with the bee and the flower – works very well. And it’s going generic in a few months. But then she offered me an injection for allergies. I don’t remember what the stuff is, but she said it lasts for a year and is fairly broad. I must admit that my nose has dried up and I can breath pretty well right now.

Our daughter came over to borrow the pickup truck on Sunday. Several years ago oldest son gave us his old pickup when he bought a new one. He is in construction, so needs to have a fancy new truck on the jobsite. The old truck is a ’74, and a nice color of faded red and rust – it is just about what I want in a truck. I just wished it didn’t leak so much oil. I’m debating about replacing the engine with a new one, will cost money but be much cheaper than buying a new truck. But the truck resides in our back yard, and I get to pay insurance and pass smog inspection every year. It gets out about once a month for a Home Depot or plant run. Sunday was a Home Depot run, to get some fencing to go around daughter’s swimming pool. Since E is starting to walk she figured it might be safest to finally put in that fence that we offered to install a while ago. Doesn’t sound like she is doing it right, but even when they are big kids refuse to take advise. Oh well, I’m the same way.

The weather is warming up. We had a cold front move through at the end of last week. On Friday it only warmed up to 81f, much lower than normal for this time of year. But it’s forecasted to hit 96f tomorrow (36C) so we are back on schedule. Water in our pool is up to 84f (29C) and on Sunday I was the first to jump in this year. Looks like it’s time to do some weekend BBQs and have people over before it starts getting too hot. May and June are usually pretty nice months for doing things outside. With our big patio we like having groups over, guess I better email B and schedule something. For some reason she likes to be informed before I start inviting people over. Don’t know why, usually I remember to tell her as the doorbell rings with the first arrivals.

Back to our Oakland trip. On our last night we walked down to a BBQ place we kept walking past. It was always packed with people, with others out on the sidewalk waiting for a table.

Oakland has a very large diverse population. The section of downtown across from our hotel is labeled as ‘Chinatown’ on city maps. All of the storefront signage we saw out the hotel window was in Chinese characters. We watched every morning as stands were set up in front of all the stores with fruits and veggies. On our Friday there the street was closed and the weekly farmer’s market was set up. We wandered around before catching the BART into SF and admired all of the fruits and veggies that California produces.

Driving up the central valley we were able to see all of the farm production. California’s central San Joaquin Valley produces a very large percentage of the fruit and veggies eaten in the US. The valley is about 60 miles wide and 300 miles long, running from Bakersfied in the south up past Sacramento to the north. We drove up I-5, which runs in the foothills on the west side of the valley. We could look down at all of the acres and acres of plants. The southern section is warmer, and filled with lots of nut trees – walnuts and pistachio groves run along side the interstate for miles and miles.

Most of the valley is flat, and suitable for growing just about anything. California has a vast network of canals coming down from the Sacramento delta bringing water to all of the crops. There are seemingly endless cotton fields, and areas with just about any fruit tree you could imagine. It doesn’t get cold enough there for fruit that needs winter cold, like apples and such, but most citrus and stone fruit (peaches, apricots, etc) do well and are represented. The Midwest US is better suited for vast corn and wheat growing, but California has just about everything else. We didn’t do many photos during the drive – shots of flat fields are kind of boring.

Back in Oakland we again were amazed at the California housing prices. The house right across from our son’s had just sold – take a look

It’s around 900 square feet (275 sq. meters), two bedrooms, one bath, about 80 years old. Being older it has somewhat of a yard, but nothing too grand. Want to take a guess at the sales price? $895,000. Wow.

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