Category Archives: Castle Willett

Slower Than The Speed Of Smell

Last night I posted some quick pictures at the last minute about 23:50, pausing in the middle of a marathon packing and panicking episode. Then, because this really HAS to get done this weekend, I went back to loading the truck.

Being a good neighbor (even though it doesn’t matter because, hey, we’re moving away!) I was working hard to keep the noise down. I didn’t haul any of the big metal shelves up the big metal ramp into the big echoey metal truck, I tried to step quietly, etc. Which was going well. Right up until the point where something in the garage made a big metal screechy sound.

Ever seen a Rube Goldberg machine?

I make a big metal screech sound, standing near the entrance to the open garage door…

…which made the dog across the street two doors down start barking madly…

…which startled and freaked out the skunk that was trotting down the sidewalk on my side of the street…

…who did what skunks do when threatened…

…which, being just 50 or 60 feet from me, suddenly made me want to gag, vomit, and die, not necessarily in that order…

…which didn’t matter to the skunk, who was no longer being threatened and was now in front of the open garage and seeing all of the light figured something was up (perhaps he’s been talking to the lizards?)…

…which left me gagging and dying and trying to figure out how to dissuade the skunk from coming INTO the garage while at the same time not startling him again.

The skunk finally decided that there was probably nothing edible in the garage and the Freds would just have to figure it out on their own. But I got to spend the next hour and a half wondering if anyone in the neighborhood had a spare gas mask.

You’re right, Donielle, it’s an ADVENTURE!!!

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Moving Out & Moving On – April 12th

This is going to be a long, exhausting weekend.

The “plan” was to load up tonight, take to storage tomorrow & unload, then load up again tomorrow night, then take the second load out and unload on Sunday. Maybe even a second load on Sunday! Aim high!

19:30, there’s that palm tree and the sunset. Let’s make the magic happen!!

Three hours later, about the time I figured I would be fully loaded, I’m maybe 40% loaded.

Four hours in, I’m a little more than half loaded. Perhaps the timeline needs some revision…

They say that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If I live until Monday, I’m going to be one BAMF!!

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The Rise Of The Freds

While packing and loading and so on, “the Freds” continue to act bizarre and to multiply. We’ve seen them in the yard for a few years now, but you’ll see one here, one there. I think the most I’ve ever seen at one time is three.

Now I see four and five and six at a time, and over the course of the day at different spots in the yard I’ll see twelve to fifteen of them. They’re not wearing name tags, but they appear to all be different just based on size, shape, and some color differences.

I’ve seen a couple of the “back yard Freds” hanging onto the stucco, but up until today I’ve never seen any of the “front yard Freds” doing it. I guess they’ve been comparing notes and taking lessons from each other.

I’m also seeing them where I haven’t seen them before. There was one of them way out by the curb, nearly getting stepped on when I was loading the van for a trip to storage.

And there’s another thing. ALWAYS in the past if I got within eight to ten feet, they were gone! Into the bushes, into the tree, under the porch, wherever. I never before got within about five feet of one – except of course for the one that ended up in our toilet. Now? I got within about six inches of this guy and he ignored me.

Ditto for this guy. That’s not a shining example of the iPhone’s amazing telephoto lens – that’s a wide angle shot from about three inches. This guy never moved, except to turn his head and swivel his eyeballs to keep an eye on me.

The lizards know something is up!

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Moving Out & Moving On – April 7th

They say, “write what you know.” What I know right now is that I have something like 47 days (fewer would be better) to get everything we own out of the house I’ve lived in for over 27 years. You, as my loyal minions, are probably going to get a lot of this for the next couple of months.

It’s going to be an exciting adventure!!! I’m really looking forward to it as an enlightening growth opportunity! (Hi, Donielle! I’m drinking the Kool-Aid!!)

The strategy is to divide and conquer:

  1. What is going to our next home? There’s some uncertainty here since it’s not clear how much room we’ll have – since we have no freakin’ idea at all where we’re going. Will it be a small two-bedroom apartment? A large three-bedroom apartment? A three-bedroom house with a garage and maybe 1,800 square feet? A 400 square foot “extended stay” hotel room?
  2. What’s getting tossed? With a big house and decades to fill it up, there’s a fair amount of stuff that’s gone into the “I’ll take care of / fix / use this one of these days, real soon now!” category. I might not be quite as ruthless in culling this group as I should be, but I’m a **LOT** more ruthless than I’ve ever been in the past.
  3. What’s getting donated? There’s a lot of clothing, toys, books, dishes, etc that is surplus, but still perfectly useful and function. Some of it’s going to the kids, but a lot of it’s going to Goodwill and the thrift stores.
  4. What’s going to storage?
    1. And which storage? Some stuff is organized and going there to wait for the big move to our “forever home” out there in the retirement-based, not-living-in-California-ever-again future. But that future is years away, with the number of years also being a big unknown. So that stuff is going into long-term storage.
    2. There’s also a huge time factor involved with us getting out of this house, so there’s a lot of stuff that’s not an immediate “throw out” but may or may not be stuff to keep. There’s just no time to figure that out right now. For that there’s a second storage area that’s intended to buy me some time to work through that process after escrow closes.

It’s not quite like planning the D-Day invasion of Normandy, but it’s all non-trivial. Then, of course, my boss still expects me to show up at work on those pesky weekdays.

Come along for the adventure. Sorry, the EXCITING adventure!

Or ignore everything other than the critter pictures. Or mute me for two months.

Or offer snide comments and smartass commentary. Yeah, that would be the best of all!


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After we had a reminder that we live in earthquake country the other day I was talking online with someone about the experience of living through a big earthquake and how the worst part for me was the aftershocks.

I hate aftershocks.

The absolute worst were not the ones five minutes, five hours, five days after the big shaker. It was the ones five months and twenty-five months later, usually just about when you suddenly thought to yourself, “Hey, self, it’s been a while since we had an aftershock or an earthquake!” Just when you thought you were safe. Just when you thought that your life could get back to normal.

It has often occurred to me that there are similar patterns (which I hate similarly) to other monumental events in life.

For example, many years ago when we were visiting Montreal, our rental car was broken into. Among other things stolen were my briefcase with an assortment of documents, credit cars, my checkbook, and so on.

I got a new rental car, got back to Vermont, wasted some vacation time in the local library (mom’s house didn’t have internet) cancelling accounts and getting new credit cards sent and so on. It was a pain in the ass (much like a major earthquake) but in a day or two I thought we were back to normal.


Once I thought I was safe, once I thought things were back to normal, the “aftershocks” started. I go looking for some document or piece of camera equipment or credit card or something – only to realize it had been in that stolen briefcase and now not only wasn’t there when I needed it, but that I had yet another mess to clean up. It got gradually better with time, but it was a pain.

I think of this tonight because I suddenly recognized that it’s happening again. This time the “major life changing event” isn’t an earthquake or a theft, but the fact that we’re selling our house and into full pack and panic (not necessarily in that order) mode.

Over on FaceBook and Twitter there are starting to be postings about the best places in the Lompoc, CA area to see the Insight launch in four weeks. Insight will be launching from Vandenberg AFB about three hours north of Los Angeles, headed to Mars.

I would love to see that launch. It’s currently scheduled for a Saturday and because of that, unless the launch date slips, I’ve got it penciled into my brain as a day to spend three hours driving north to watch a rocket launch for five minutes and being 10,000% worth it.

Better yet, there’s a NASA Social for the launch. A three-day long NASA Social, including up-close VIP seating for the launch itself. I’m not sure how I would get the Thursday and Friday off work (*cough* maybe I’m coming down with something already?) but I would figure out something. So I applied a couple weeks ago, and for the first time in several years I didn’t get turned down outright. (I’m not complaining, I’ve been to five NASA Socials and figure they’re spreading the wealth around.) I didn’t get an invite, but I did get put on the wait list in case one of the primary invitees can’t make it. That’s got me very excited!


We’re in escrow and have months worth of work to do in the next fifty or so days. I get home from work, usually at 19:00 or 20:00 or later at this time of year (audits, tax returns) and now I’m up until midnight every freaking day packing and panicking, while also trying to squeeze in the occasional minute or two of CAF work. And I’ve got a five day trip to Toronto to squeeze in there as well.

Barring a literal “act of God” there is no way I can afford to take a whole Saturday off to go see the launch, and that’s a zillion times more true about the idea of taking a full three days off for the NASA Social.

Just when I thought I was safe. Just when I thought there might be the tiniest sliver of normalcy to be found in the chaos…


There will be more. They may keep getting bigger and/or more frequent.

I hate aftershocks.

Now if you’ll pardon me, it’s only 23:40. I have at least two or three more boxes to pack tonight before I can go to sleep.



Filed under Castle Willett, Disasters, Space

Fearless & Foolish

I managed to snap a couple of quick pictures of my two new friends from the other day:

Here’s Fearless Fred when he charged up near me, just a couple of feet away.

A good way to get yourself stepped on!

A few minutes later, Foolish Fred followed me around to the other side of the car.

Bizarre behavior for these little dudes – I hope it doesn’t lead to them being eaten by a crow!

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It’s Been A While

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a really good sunset around these parts.

How many more do we have from this viewpoint? Not many, it would seem.

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