Category Archives: Castle Willett

Lizard Update

The “new” house (we moved up here in May, 2018) has almost as many lizards living in the yard as the “old” house (so far, none of them have appeared in the house, thank god) and it has a wider variety in terms of types, colors, and sizes. There are routine sightings almost daily, but for the most part the little guys are skittish and tend to scurry off into the bushes or under the car or up a tree trunk long before we get near.

But in the last couple of days there have been a couple of closer encounters.

First, during that big wind storm (and accompanying brush fires) a couple weeks ago, the cover for the barbecue ended up off the grill and in a pile on the porch. Yesterday evening I was picking it up. Given what’s in the yard, my biggest concern was the likely possibility of black widow spiders (they were there and got squished). What I didn’t expect was the biblical plague of crickets hiding underneath the cover. THOUSANDS of the little guys.

Fortunately I’m not bothered at all by crickets, so I simply started shaking the barbecue cover like a sheet to flick off all of the crickets. Which is when I saw the lizard on the inside, clinging on for dear life as I flapped the cover in the breeze. I didn’t want to hurt it, so I simply dropped the cover and then pulled it back so the lizard was exposed.

I expected it to take off toward the bushes like a bat out of hell, but was surprised that it took a few minutes and some nudging before it mozied on.

In retrospect, I think it was giving me the stink eye because those zillions of crickets were probably a feast of unbelievable magnitude for the lizard and I had gone and screwed up everything.

Yes, I did. It’s what I do. (Ask anyone.)

This evening I was taking the trash cans out and found this guy sunning itself on the driveway. It also wasn’t at all interested in moving so long as I wasn’t interested in stepping on it.

Back at the old house there were a couple of lizards that I saw repeatedly and I thought that they had actually gotten acclimated to me. When I was packing the car to move out, they would come right up to within a couple feet and watch. This guy had a similar behavior, but I don’t recall seeing him before.

There was a tiny, tan lizard that’s been running around by the garage doors, but just two days ago he was maybe a fifth this size. If he’s grown this much in two days, in a week it will be the size of a T-Rex.

Pretty sure that would violate the “no pets” clause in our lease…


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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Photography

Wind & Fire

The Santa Ana winds have started blowing again in Southern California. (As you no doubt have heard, in Northern California the winds have also been howling and the despicable and criminally stupid officials of PG&E have turned off the power to 1,000,000+ people for several days in order to avoid liability for any brush fires that might be sparked when their horribly poorly maintained system starts breaking and dropping  live power lines into dry brush. But I digress…)

My first reaction when I got home this afternoon was the “Hawkeye Pierce” go-to response for me – humor:

“Wind damage at our house – be strong, we will rebuild!”

This had been hanging by a cup hook but twisting in the 35 to 50 knot winds it had literally unscrewed itself and fallen. Hadn’t seen that before.

Yes, there were a couple of branches down in our yard. And on the way home I had seen three separate spots where streets or business driveways were blocked by fallen trees.

But our power was still on. This barely rose to the level of “inconvenience.” Nothing like everyone who was trying to deal with a multi-day blackout caused by bureaucratic incompetence, greed, and stupidity.

Then the fires started here in SoCal. (Fortunately, nothing near us. We had enough of that shit last year, thank you very much!)

Other areas haven’t been so lucky:

Welcome to California in the era of climate change.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography, Weather

Announcing His Presence With Authority

I got home yesterday evening and the house was FILLED with birdsong. I thought that there was one that had gotten into the house and was squawking to get out.

I didn’t see anything inside, so I went out onto the back porch. Ah, there’s the problem.

This guy’s sitting on the edge of the chimney and the sound is coming down the flue and echoing through the house.

But now I’ve made the mistake of coming into his back yard, and this action must be challenged!

Well, I’ve got a few thoughts about who’s back yard it truly is, so I took a step or two in his direction…

Time to go into camouflage mode! You can’t see me here!!

Gotta love mockingbirds…

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Luna Rising

Do you see it?

Way out there, on the horizon. If you have binoculars you can see Griffith Observatory. Right over it.

It’s not quite full – that’s still fifteen hours away, at 21:33 PDT. But it’s 99% illuminated, so the casual observer wouldn’t notice.

The the naked eye it leaps out at you – the iPhone camera takes a bit of coaxing to reveal it. Then again, the iPhone camera didn’t evolve over a few hundred million years out in the Serengeti, where the light of the full moon could give an advantage to predator – or prey.

It’s cleared the hills down there in the haze.

99%? Close enough.

Time to howl!

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Filed under Astronomy, Castle Willett, Photography, Space


When I was getting up at 03:00 to be leaving at 04:00 to be on site at 05:00 last week, I found this monster hanging around on the wall by the front door. I figured it was a rare catch, or at least unusual, and it would fly away at any second.

But then it was still there when I got home. And the next night. And the next.

Finally it was gone, with just a gooey red streak on the wall where it had been. Not quite sure what that all adds up to.

But it was a honkin’ big moth!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Photography

No Context For You – August 22nd

It’s one thing to have a picture on the Camera Roll of my phone that just looks like a button got pushed by accident – the photographic equivalent of  a butt dial.

It’s another thing to have the metadata say that it was taken at home at a time when I’m pretty sure everyone was asleep and the phone was sitting on my nightstand, minding its own business.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography

Joy Should Be More Than Simply The Absence Of Misery

Hardly PhD level  insight.

However, this evening I had the “joy” of fixing a toilet and while doing so I pondered the meaning of “joy.”

There is NO joy in repairing a toilet.

I’m sure there are some among us who would invoke “a sense of pride in a job well done” or some such bullshit. Perhaps. But that is not “joy.”

No, the closest I can come to feeling good at all about twenty minutes spent on repairing a toilet is that we can be truly miserable if the toilet remains broken.

So, in repairing the toilet, we avoid those hours, days, and (the way my schedule looks right now) the potential for weeks of dealing with the inconvenience and mess and misery of a broken toilet.

But – joy should be more than simply the absence of misery.

We need working toilets in our lives. And tonight, at least in Casa Willett, we have them.

We also need some joy in our lives. The more, the better! That, unfortunately, might be a bit more rare and elusive.

I hope you’re being more successful in that pursuit.


Filed under Castle Willett, Deep Thoughts