Category Archives: Castle Willett

Final Countdown

I noticed when I got home from the hangar yesterday that The Big Blue Bomber was now on the last stages of the countdown to 200,000 miles.

Since I usually only drive it on the weekends to the hangar in Camarillo and back, it’s still going to take three or four months, but this milestone is getting closer.

Gotta take tiny chunks of joy (or at least interest) where you can these days.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography

Under The Extended Centerline For KBUR Runway 08

It’s over —-> way about twenty miles or so.

We really don’t get a lot of jet noise since they’re still up about 4,000′ above us. Since I’m fond of aircraft to begin with, I consider it more of a benefit than a problem.

(Image from FlightAware)

I can just sit out there and watch them come in like beads on a chain at times.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Flying, Photography

Jumpy A Little Bit?

It might be a small case of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) previously unnoticed. Or at least previously untriggered.

An hour or so I started getting a whiff or two of smoke. Very faint. Enough so the first few I wasn’t even sure that I was really smelling it.

Then there was a bit more – but not much. Enough so that I thought it might be something minor like a light heating up with some dust on it. Sort of like that burnt smell you get when you turn on the forced air furnace for the first time in the fall and the dust in the burner goes up.

But it didn’t go away, and I got a couple more stronger whiffs. Now it’s time to get up from my desk and check it out.

Nothing in the hallway at all. Go out into the living room. Nothing really, maybe just the faintest trace.

Open the front door and step out – and it hits me like a hammer. It wasn’t my imagination.

The cause was obvious. We’re hitting an unusually cool stretch for Los Angeles in late May, highs barely reaching 70°F, and the lows down into the upper 40’s. It’s 56°F now. Someone in the neighborhood, possibly a couple someones, had their fireplaces going, or a backyard firepit for their holiday BBQ. The end result was that the air was heavy with the scent of wood smoke.

No biggie, right? That’s a homey, comfortable, happy memory smell of fall and winter in Vermont, Christmas mornings… Well, it used to be. Now?

Remember last November less than a half mile from here as we had our valuables packed in the cars ready for the “Go!” command to evacuate?

That would explain the way a whiff of wood smoke put my brain into high alert mode and being outside in the dark with the air filled with the scent doubled my heart rate in a matter of seconds.

Olfactory cues can trigger strong associations with specific memories. It might be a while before the smell of wood smoke again means a cozy evening in front of the fireplace instead of panic and evacuate.

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When we moved into this house a year ago (and by the way, geez louise, look back at my posts from last May, I have no clue how I survived that), we got a new flag for the front porch.

A year of the SoCal elements have taken their toll, especially some of the high winds and rain of the last month or so.

I’ve left it up like that for a few weeks since it’s sort of symbolic of how the whole country is doing.

But enough’s enough. A new flag went up today for Memorial Day.

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Then Came A Touch Of Rain

It didn’t take much.

Rain in SoCal in May is reasonably rare. The average is 0.31″ for the entire month.

Today’s official total at Van Nuys Airport was only 0.01″. The closest weather station to us reported 0.10″.

It wasn’t even enough to wash the layers of dirt off my car. It was only enough to make it splotchy and look worse than normal.

But the white and pink rose bush took it hard.

As it’s supposed to, I guess. The rose bush didn’t seem to mind. For all I know there are critters out there that are going to eat well over the next few days on these rose petals.

But I’ll miss them.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Flowers, Photography

Pink Roses

Some things just speak for themselves.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Flowers, Photography

The Running Of The Butterflies

Something unusual has been happening around Los Angeles this year – butterflies. Clouds of them. Swarms of them.

We’re not talking “blotting out the sun” swarms, nothing apocalyptic. But for a few days last month there were days at the house on the hill where we would see what I estimated to be several hundred per minute flitting by for hours at a time. It’s been quite impressive.

They’ve been notoriously difficult to get pictures of. For the most part they’re not stopping or refueling on any of those flowers in our yard that I shared last month. They’re just bobbing and weaving in the breeze, a half dozen here, ten there, a few more over there, coming past the house and being gone downwind in just a few seconds.

Then they were gone for several weeks and I figured that was it. Until they started showing up on Thursday and Friday. Yesterday while driving back home from the hangar in Camarillo I saw the largest clouds of them I had seen yet, easily ten times the rate that I had seen last month.

This morning they were flowing past the house at a pretty good rate and I finally got some pictures. I found a corner of the house with a good view of the sky where the butterflies were coming around the house at my back and then silhouetted against the sky. I got video from my iPhone, than did some screen captures of freeze frames.

The individual images are somewhat blurry and small – they’re just a tiny crop of a full frame with a picture of a small-ish butterfly, typically five or six feet away. The video is found at the bottom.


Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Photography, Video