Purple skirts: My parents tell me that as soon as I was old enough to say a sufficiently complex sentence, I announced that I wanted to wear dresses or skirts every day, and never wear pants again. And ever since then, with the exception of camping trips, I've pretty much stuck to that. Circle skirts are the best kind (always have been), and these days, I generally prefer them between mid-calf-length and ankle-length. Any bright color will do, but purple has been my favorite for the past 17 years, since I turned queer. Especially royal purple.
Unusual weather phenomena: The vast majority of California, including my region of it, has one of the five Mediterranean climates in the world - each occurring on the southwestern side of a continent: California, southwestern Australia, southwestern South Africa, central western Chile, and the Mediterranean region of Europe. In a Mediterranean climate, summers are very hot and absolutely bone-dry, while winters are rainy, with mild temperatures. For example, where I live, we receive an average of 22 inches of rain each year, virtually all during the winter (we usually go from June to September without a single raindrop). I can't find the record high and low temperatures for my current town, but it would be similar to Sacramento's, where the record high is 115 °F (46 °C) on July 25, 2006, and the record low is 17 °F (-8 °C) on December 11, 1932. We also tend to get buried under a solid wall of tule fog most days from December through February. These unusual characteristics of our weather seem to call for being written about on LiveJournal from time to time, especially when they're making life difficult for my plants.
Discovering new writers: Susan reads a lot more nonfiction than I do; she reads incredibly fast - seriously, I think she averages one book every day - and frequently passes on her books to me, so I've been reading more nonfiction too. Currently I'm reading her copies of Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson (it's fascinating!) and The Lynne Truss Treasury by Lynne Truss (it contains mostly fiction, but we both started out reading Lynne Truss's nonfiction bestseller Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation before reading this collection of her other books). Normally I've read primarily fiction, making particular efforts to read fiction by non-Americans and non-Europeans, which has led me to discover a lot of writers who are less well-known in the United States.
Local plants: My interest in native plants is partly born of necessity: it's just not easy to find plants from anywhere else that can handle the dual shocks of going six months every year with no rainfall at all and 100+ °F temperatures and then spending the other six months of every year in a swampland when the winter rains flood our heavy clay soils far beyond their capacity to drain. But there are plants from other Mediterranean regions that would grow here, so my interest in locally native plants is also partly born of the recognition that the California Floristic Province, one of the world's greatest hotspots for biodiversity, in which more than half our native plant species grow nowhere in the world except in California. Since approximately 75% of the land in California is now replaced by cities or farmlands, many of these rare native species are in imminent danger of becoming extinct. Given all this, it would seem bizarre if I didn't take an interest in growing native plants.
Prop 8: I want to marry Susan. For five months I have the legal right to marry Susan, except that her dissolution of domestic partnership with her ex wasn't finalized yet. Then our neighbors put up huge yellow lawn signs for several months - around here there was at least one on every block, often four or five on consecutive lawns - asking each other to vote to call off our wedding. This made the entire neighborhood extremely unpleasant. I put up opposing signs, all of which they tore down before Election Day. I did not tear down their signs. And then 52.3% of California voters did vote to call off our wedding, and now I can't marry Susan until their votes are either changed or overturned somehow. Also, we had expected Susan's dissolution to become final at the end of January, but as far as we've heard, it still isn't final yet. We were told that her ex wasn't contesting it, so I'd really like to know what the holdup is.
I skipped over to your profile, and now you get a bonus question: Xeriscaping? What's xeriscaping? Xeriscaping is selecting and arranging plants in a garden in such a way that the amount of water they receive naturally from rain and groundwater is approximately the correct amount for them. The goal is to not have to water them much, if at all, to keep them healthy. The term is usually used by gardeners who grow primarily non-native plants, because if you're growing plants native to your area and microclimate, they'll pretty much automatically be xeriscape-appropriate. But it's possible to grow locally native plants that aren't xeriscape-appropriate, if you choose plants that grow on the banks of your local rivers, for example, when your garden isn't on the bank of a river. Also, the term is frequently associated with desert gardening, in which the challenge is simply to find plants that can survive on the smallest possible amount of water. But for me the challenge is more complex; I don't want to grow exotic plants that need daily watering all summer long, but I also need plants that can survive heavy rainfall and horrendously bad drainage in the winter. I've lost more plants to drowning in rainstorms than to 100+ °F temperatures and the complete absence of water from June through September. Choosing plants that won't drown during rainstorms is also part of xeriscaping.