June 11, 2020

Whether on a hiking trail or in your garden, you have probably seen small white sticky, frothy masses on plants. These are the bubble homes of spittlebugs, related to aphids and cicadas in the order of Hemiptera, identified by botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1758. On a recent hike on Mount Tamalpais, I noted healthy young coyote bushes on both sides of the trail. At a distance, they appeared to be covered with small white flowers. A puzzle — this couldn’t be. On closer examination, I discovered these were not flowers but a profusion of spittlebug houses. The white foam blobs are produced by the immature spittlebugs called nymphs. (Joan Lynn Bekins photo / For The Ark)

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June 4, 2020

I’m not sure if I’m just seeing my garden with renewed interest or if it really is having a very nice spring, better than many others. I’ve had two amaryllis produce giant blossoms this year and don’t recall them blooming in the past. The nasturtiums decided to clamber up one of my stone pillars and on to the climbing hydrangea, which has produced a couple of blooms for the first time in its 15 years or so in the garden. I ordered it from Heronswood, a nursery in Washington, and it arrived in a tiny 2-inch pot in the early 2000s. It’s a wonder it’s survived given the lack of care it’s received. I don’t see it often in Bay Area gardens, which makes me think the lack of blooms dissuades people from growing it or maybe it needs more sun than my shady garden can provide. (Diane Lynch photo / For The Ark)

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May 20, 2020

Unlike most 30-somethings diving into the local real-estate market, Maggie and CJ Jackson weren’t looking for turnkey when they began their home search some eight years ago. They wanted a project house, something Maggie, a skincare marketing executive, could give a makeover. Reluctantly, the couple chose the practical path — a just-remodeled house in Tiburon. That was in 2012. They told themselves they weren’t giving up their dream, just deferring it. Five years later, with both boys in school, Maggie and CJ were ready. Maggie first spotted the 1956 house on real-estate website Trulia. It was on Windward Road, her favorite street in Belvedere. The Jacksons closed on the house in October 2017, applied for a construction permit right away and were doing demolition by January 2018. 

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May 14, 2020

Even before architect Miles Berger retired last year, he and his wife, Piper, began to talk about their future. They both loved their Tiburon home and wanted to stay in it indefinitely — but they knew the house would need some changes. So Miles, a current Tiburon Design Review Board member and former mayor, and Piper, the former longtime archivist for the Belvedere-Tiburon Landmarks Society, got to work on an eight-month renovation to their Raccoon Lane home designed to allow the couple to age in place. 

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April 30, 2020

After more than 30 years of guiding Strawberry-based SingersMarin in its mission to make and share uplifting music, Jan Pedersen Schiff is retiring from her role as artistic director this spring — though the coronavirus pandemic has postponed her official goodbye. Pedersen Schiff, who is moving from Mill Valley to the Palm Springs area, originally planned to sign off after Wings of Songs’ annual spring concerts, set for May 9 in San Rafael and May 10 at Community Congregational Church in Tiburon. Those shows are on hold indefinitely due to the outbreak, but she says she plans to make a return visit for a makeup concert when it’s deemed safe for large groups to gather again.

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