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Real Rain

What is that?

ANGLE. DAVID. He is still in an amorous daze and doesn’t even feel the increasing rain. It starts to pound harder and Margaret looks to him in terror.

Guess what movie? (click to cheat)MARGARET
What’s going on?


Real rain?

Yeah … You don’t have rain either?

She looks at him frightened. David smiles.

Right. Of course you don’t …

He puts his jacket around her and starts to lead her up the grassy slope. A dozen other couples go scurrying up the bank, looking in terror at the water falling from the sky.

Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiin!!!!! It started sprinkling lightly yesterday and has been raining all day today. Real rain. I bet the firefighters are as happy as I am for the late spring soaking. I was afraid we were done with rain for the year, having had none since March. I’m happy to report that the windshield wipers on the Blazer actually work pretty well, as we discovered when we drove to town to visit the post office and have lunch at a favorite restaurant.

The air outside is cool and misty, with lacy curtains of water drizzling from low gray skies. The scent of the damp earth is heavenly. Living in Seattle all my life, I have sometimes forgotten what a luxurious gift rain can be. The bugs have taken the day off, and the hummingbird swarm is unusually mellow. I had an afternoon nap in the gentle, cloud-filtered light with a book and a blankie.

I like today.

All Hope Abandon, Ye Who Enter Here

Airloom, Seattle racing yacht on which I crewed for many yearsMy Uncle Fred, master sailor, all-around good guy, and expert on Croydon family history, poked a hole below the waterline of my personal image the other day, I’m sad to report. He didn’t mean to, really. It’s just that, as it turns out, I’m not a pirate, after all.

It all started when my sweetie Conal’s brother, Joseph, got the Elliott clan interested in, an online genealogy/social networking (and may I say, very cool) website currently in beta. In next to no time, Joseph had added relations all the way back to the 1500’s! I enjoyed the visual and interactive nature of the site, and got my own family involved in the fun.

Remembering that Uncle Fred had done extensive research and documentation of my father’s family, as well as produced beautiful printed family trees and booklets, I checked in with him to find out if he would be interested in contributing information or participating directly in building our family tree on Geni. Turns out he entered his extensive collection of information into a software program that uses standard GENCOM format for genealogy data. The folks at have said they will soon allow import of GEDCOM files into their database, so I’m looking forward to being able to see and interact with all that wonderful history Fred researched and assembled.

While reviewing the handful of ancestors that Fred entered manually onto our tree, I was surprised to see the name Pengelley only a couple of generations back, in my great grandmother’s era. I had always thought of the Pengelley name in association with the family pirate legend, going waaaaay back in time. The rumor I heard had one of the Pengelleys as a marauder off the coast of England in the 1700’s. I don’t remember hearing any details beyond that, but I didn’t care. What I liked was believing that I, a sailor in a family of sailors, had actual pirates in my bloodline! How cool was that?!

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Enemy Mine

We have woodpeckers. Acorn woodpeckers, I think they are, specifically. Each morning as the sun comes up, we are jolted awake by their rapid pounding on the house. Often, they go at it in twos and threes, making a heckuva racket. We get up out of bed, shoo them away, and go on about our day. As the day proceeds, our activities are punctuated by frequent hollering sessions at the boogers as they return again and again and again.

The hammering noise is bad enough. What distresses me even more is the damage that they do to the house siding and fascia boards. They drill holes everywhere, poke acorns into the holes, even jamming acorns under the edges of the roofing material, to the point of lifting it away from its underlayment.

Our house is surrounded by lovely oak and pine forests. I wondered what was so compelling about our house (and Ann’s next door, which over the decades is being slowly turned into a swiss cheese of ‘pecker holes) to attract them away from the trees all around. A few minutes of online investigation informed me that the little blighters have more than one motivation for banging on things with their heads.

One reason they drill, I learned, is to hollow out spaces to make their nests. Another reason is going after insects in the wood. I don’t think I’ve seen the kind of damage I would guess to indicate either of those behaviors, however, based on the examples I found. A third reason may be at work in our case.

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Hillbilly Notawannabe

Sometimes, if it’s been days since I’ve been to town, say, or seen a car or another human being besides Conal, I think to myself I’m becoming a real hillbilly. And then I realize… ohWowMaybe not so much.

Small Town Life

Today was a softly lovely pre-spring day with temperatures in the mid-sixties and warm sunshine. Yay, California. It was a wonderful day for getting out and about, and Conal and I decided to go to town. We had some banking and light grocery shopping to do, as well as the usual post office stop (mail is not delivered where we live). Our internet satellite bandwidth limit has been chafing a bit lately, so we planned to stop by the library to see if we might find it a comfortable place to take the laptops and get online, once they finally get around to installing a public wireless network, which Conal was told by a library staffer “might be late spring.”

Our occasional town forays are also a chance to have lunch at my favorite San Andreas eatery, The Blue House Bistro. Their vegetarian burrito with fresh green salad is our favorite choice. Today, we also particularly enjoyed their light and delicately floral iced tea, which the server told us was a local brew. We’ve been there enough times now to know where to sit to avoid being overwhelmed by the jazz standards and kitchen/bar activity. This time, we had a lovely little window table at the far end of the dining area. We also had the place virtually to ourselves since we arrived just after the lunch rush.

After lunch, it was just a few steps into the next parking lot to visit the bank. Then we were off to the post office, where we ran into neighbor John G. as we checked our boxes and sorted through our mail. Dropping a reject piece of mail into the basket on the counter in the main office, I said hello to Angie, our Purty Post Office Princess (I like her long braid and irrepressible humor) and she howdy’d in return. As I was scooting back out the door, the woman Angie was helping at the counter said, “Who is that?” and Angie said, “Oh, that’s Holly and Conal–” I don’t know what was said after that, as I was already out the door. I would have eavesdropped a bit more if I could have figured out how to do it without getting caught.

Once outside in the parking lot, John’s wife Ann came up to us to say hello and check in about coordinating gardening efforts in Conal’s mom’s deer-proof garden space. After a nice chat we said our see ya’s and went off to Treat’s (our funky little hardware/grocery store). Well, golly, as we were rolling our cart up to the registers, there again was John. Not only that, but John was visiting in the checkout line with Jim N. and his wife Polly, the next neighbors down Murraydale Lane. More friendly banter ensued.

After asking John in the parking lot outside the store for the location of the nearest mailbox (in the excitement at the PO, I forgot to drop our outgoing mail in the slot), we detoured to the blue box on the next corner, and then around the block down historic Main Street to go the back way to the library.

As we were pulling in to the library, who should be walking across the parking lot but Ann G. We all had a chuckle at seeing each other for the third time in half an hour, and the laughter only increased as we walked in to find Jim and Polly there, too. Apparently, all three cars were running synchronized errands and didn’t know it.

Ah, small town life.

About Holly

I live in a small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills a couple of hours east of the Bay Area. My sweetie Conal Elliott and I live on twenty acres in a hillside house overlooking a lovely forested canyon with a creek. Our place is about three miles from town up a skinny dirt road. The area is known as Murray Creek. Remote? Mm-hmm, a bit. The electrical line terminates at our panel; beyond us, no electricity and no phones! Our house at night is like a ship on the vast, dark ocean, floating in utter darkness. Conal’s mom, Ann, lives on the sixty acre family property next door. The air is clear, the oaks wonderfully old and twisted, the weather hot in summer and cool and wet in winter. Deer stroll by daily. A possum raided the kitchen the other day. There are a ridiculous number of stars visible at night–at least, when the moon isn’t hogging the show. It’s pretty darn cool place to be.

I am interested in the evolution of consciousness in human beings, in art, music, cars, vegetarian/veganism, chainsaws, language, ballroom dancing, salsa dance, learning, social and cultural evolution, vegetarian cooking, technology, singing, country life, blogging, animals (especially horses and cats), relationships, emotions, spirituality… so much to think and write about. I’m also interested in finding out what it’s like to live in the country, which is lucky, since I live in the country.

I’ve started this blog in order to work out some thoughts, share pictures, and point out fun stuff I find on the web. I think. We’ll see what actually pans out…

  • Want to read more about me? Visit my website,
  • Interested in my work with Conal? Check out
  • Still want more?! Slake your thirst for all things Holly at LinkedIn and/or Facebook.
  • Wanna get in touch? Email me at holly [dot] croydon [at] gmail [dot] com. Usual formatting.

I may expand this profile eventually. For now, I’m still kickin’ the tires on this blog thingy. I’m sure having a good time. Feedback is appreciated. I’d love to hear from you.