Category Archives: Castle Willett

Thinning Patience

A half hour last night, another half hour tonight…

We have a problem with our cable signal and of course we can’t get anyone on the phone other than people who want us to reboot our cable box, make sure that our wires are all tightly connected, and check to see if we’ve got the TV set to the correct input source.

Anyone want to tell me horror stories about DirectTV or AT&T or Dish or whatever other options or out there so that I’ll realize just how good I’ve really got it?

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Filed under Castle Willett, Freakin' Idiots!

New Mycelium Attack Plan – Early & Often!!

Okay, gather ’round! Here’s the new plan for taking over Paul’s lawn! Instead of four or five big mushrooms pushing up on Wednesday just to get cut down on Thursday, let’s have a bunch of small ones pop up on Monday!!!

It could work!

(David Attenborough narrator voice: “It will not work.”)

But in that little gap between the sidewalk and the grass was this guy, who freaked out of his pinhead-sized brain and started scurrying around like a lunatic until he went straight off the sidewalk and into the gutter, where he continued to scurry until he suddenly froze.

Smaller than my little finger, maybe he thought if he closed his eyes and he held really, REALLY still and he couldn’t see me, then I couldn’t see him.

I do love my little lizard pals!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Photography

Dividing But Not Conquering

While they might be thinking in their mycelium-ic (mycelic? myceliumish? myceliumbic? I’m making this shit up, obviously) brains that instead of growing in clusters, they’ll take over the yard by dividing and conquering, the simple fact is that the gardeners have all of the power tools.

Spreading out isn’t going to help – Thursday is coming.

Whether due to the spread out nature (these might be slightly different genetically from those that grew in clusters? or are they all the same since the mycelium underlying the yard is one huge organism?) or the heat (it was 107°F here today – again), these guys are more split and oddly-shaped than the last ones.

That does however leave them open to getting pictures taken of their gills and other structures, which were pretty well hidden in the earlier blooms.

It also has led to the somewhat inevitable by some of the neighbors that there’s one weird-ass dude living here.

One of the neighbors that I haven’t actually spoken to yet came out while I was taking these pictures tonight. I heard her Corgi barking at me first – I got up and tried to be friendly and say something, but she wasn’t having anything of it. As soon as the dog did its business, the two of them were headed back inside as fast as those little Corgi legs could waddle.

I’m sure it wasn’t the weird guy on the lawn taking pictures of mushrooms that had them hustling. I’m sure it was the heat.

Yeah, that’s it.

It was the heat.

Thursday is coming.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography

Post-Eclipse Full Moon Rising

Earlier today there was a spectacular lunar eclipse, the longest one of the century. In North America, we saw none of it because it happened in the middle of the afternoon from our viewpoint, which means we were on the sunny side of the the planet, not the moony side.

We’ve seen our share of lunar eclipses over the years – I’ve got pictures here and here. But not today.

Yet when the full moon came up an hour or so ago, it was still a deep shade of orange and red. WHAT DARK SORCERY IS THIS??!!

Similar look and effect, different cause. The eclipse makes the moon look red and orange and dark because it’s passing into the shadow of the Earth. Los Angeles and Southern California saw the moon look red and orange and dark because we’re seeing it through clouds of smoke from some large brush fires off to the east.

I found my tripod, so the pictures are better. Some of the “blobs” on these images aren’t lunar, but leaves and branches as the moon rises and we’re looking through the trees from our back yard.

It most certainly is a pretty sight. This evening during dinner one of the big hawks came and perched out in the open on one of these branches. I decided to sit and eat dinner instead of jumping up and grabbing the camera. This may or may not indicate “progress.”

As the moon got up a bit the extent of the smoke and haze became apparent. We haven’t seen the mountains in a couple of days, but given what the folks in the fire zones are dealing with all over the state, we’re good.

I hope you got to see the eclipse if you’re on the other side of the planet and the skies were clear!


Filed under Astronomy, Castle Willett, Photography, Space

New House Critter Census

Some we’ve seen, some we’ve just seen signs of…

Rabbits? Check! Some nights you can spook or or two on the lawn if you go out late, some nights you can spook five or six.

Raccoons? Check! Haven’t seen any in our yard or heard them on the roof (we don’t have that super secret hidey hole that they loved like the old house did) but we did see two of them about the size of full-sized beagle or poodle, just trotting down the sidewalk at sunset one night.

Gophers? Check! Haven’t seen them, but their holes are in the yard and I keep filling them in and they keep getting dug back out.

Skunks? Check! There was a dead one in the middle of the road earlier this week… (You fill in the rest of the lyrics!)

Something (probably one or several of the above) has been digging. First I saw a good-sized hole in the back yard (size 10 included for scale):

Then there was something digging in the front garden:

…and here we’ll find little footprints sometimes that make me think it’s raccoons.

Birds? Yeah, we have the usual sparrows and crows and hummingbirds and hawks and now this oriole.

Bats? Check! Not quite the crowd that we had (for whatever reason) at the old house, but there are bats.

I love it!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Photography

Back Again For Two Days

Last night when we took the scopes out in the front yard, I saw these guys making another appearance:

Timing is everything – the gardeners come tomorrow. This is a losing battle!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography

Front Yard Star Party

Front Yard Star Parties – They’re Not Just For The Weekend Any More!

Even though it was Tuesday, I had the scope out tonight. The Long-Suffering Wife had been talking about our previous views of the moon and Jupiter last week and had invited over a few friends to take a gander – and to show off the new house as well. (It was a two-fer!)

It’s a little later in the month so the moon is still low in the east at sundown, so setting up the scope by the house or in the back yard wasn’t going to work. But down by the end of the driveway we could peek over the house and see the moon between the trees.

Even before sundown, even with the sky not yet dark at all, the moon was gorgeous.

Even with just a quickie photo using my iPhone held up to the eyepiece.

Our friends that showed up enjoyed the viewing quite a bit – hard to say if it was the adults or the kids who liked it more. Once it got dark the moon was fantastic to look at, Jupiter clearly was showing a few prominent cloud bands and all four Galilean moons were strung out in a line and clearly visible. But the show stealer was that “little star” right next to the moon – turns out that was Saturn, rings visible clearly.

The the neighbor family with the three dogs wandered by – EVERYBODY had a good time and got an eyeful!

There’s nothing like hearing the oohs and aahs of people looking through a telescope and seeing Jupiter or Saturn or sunrise on the rim of Grimaldi for the first time!

We’re gonna call this one a big success, despite a few high clouds, that tree that tried to keep getting in the way, the 90° and humidity even an hour after sunset, and all of the bugs.


Filed under Astronomy, Castle Willett, Photography, Space