Category Archives: Castle Willett

Long Live The Big Blue Bomber

Today’s photos aren’t about astronomy, since this is what the sky looked like. The brown stuff in the lower right is smoke from the brush fire in the Palisades and Malibu. So, no moon or stars or ISS (and it was a GREAT pass) tonight.

(Click to enlarge image)

A couple days ago I, subconsciously or randomly or somewhere in between, picked some “random” old photos, and it turned out to be my van that brought home just about twenty years ago. Here are their matching photos from today.

She was a great car, over 203,000 miles, but it was time. She never got driven much any more, and we don’t need an eight-passenger van.

She was often ridden hard and put away wet, but she rarely failed me.

Just shy of twenty years – can you count all twenty tags?


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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography

Random Old Photos – May 11th

If I’ve learned one thing as an adult that I wish I had known as a small child, it’s that naps are SERIOUSLY underrated by children. We should be allowed to have many, many more.

It’s odd that my “random” search through the archives pretty quickly came to these – it really makes me wonder how much heavy lifting the subconscious is doing and how truly random it is.

These are from June, 2001, almost twenty years ago, the day I brought home the new van. Coincidentally, or not (ask my subconscious), I’m tying up loose ends to find a place for it to go off to be stripped for parts or sold to anyone who will give me a couple hundred bucks for it.

It’s carried on for over 203,000 miles, and could go for another 100,000+ or could go belly up in the next mile. But now it’s the spare 3rd car and while it gets used occasionally to haul stuff around, it’s driven so rarely that it would be cheaper to get a U-Haul if/when it’s needed.

An inanimate object that has been ridden hard and put away wet – but it still feels weird.


Filed under Castle Willett, Photography

Hiker Down, Choppers Up

Just to our west about three-quarters of a mile you get into some park and wilderness areas, with Castle Peak the most prominent feature. I’ve shown it to you many times since we moved in here almost two years ago.

Folks go hiking here (which is good) and occasionally have an accident (which is bad).

Much like my experience with the cargo 747’s going overhead and rumbling the house, our first indication of a hiker in distress is usually the sound of multiple loud LA City or County Fire Department helicopters orbiting repeatedly past our house.

The green line will show their path over the last hour or so… This guy was the eyes, followed by the actual rescue crew.

And if we need confirmation,

What did we do before we had these supercomputing telecommunication devices in our pockets? Just stand out in the yard and wonder what the helicopter was doing?

More importantly, what did the hikers do before they had them, or had rescue helicopters? I mean, besides bleed and pray to be found by someone friendly before the coyotes found you first?

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Filed under Castle Willett, Flying

Hummingbirds Are Assholes & The Tree Is Reading My Website

Wasn’t it just two days ago that I showed pictures of the (finally!) barren tree in our back yard, noting,

“The winds have taken the leaves and the tree is pretty much stripped now. Just in time! Next week it will be March and we’ll need to start seeing those spring buds come out. I hope that sap didn’t get too comfortable down in the roots.”

I was out there today and noticed this, NONE of which was there forty-eight hours earlier.

Honestly, a week ago I wouldn’t have thought that this tree shed its leaves in the fall or winter at all.

Even with the nasty winds we’ve had on far too many days this winter, while a few leaves would fall, overall it was fully enfoliated. (My computer says “enfoliated” isn’t a word – it has to be a word, I just typed it twice in this paragraph! Stupid computer.)

Then, overnight it seemed, 99% of the leaves were on the ground. Prompting Tuesday’s pictures and my snarky comment.

This afternoon the tips of the branches on a good chunk of the tree are exploding with the 2022 model of Leaves-A-Go-Go! Don’t stand too close! You could lose an eye if one of these suckers pops out at Mach 3!

I can only believe that my tree is, in fact, reading this website and taking my advice. It’s the only logical explanation !

But that wasn’t why I was out in the backyard with a camera…

I’ve been working on several “deadline from Hell” projects and needed a break. I had gone into the kitchen and saw three or four hummingbirds flitting around the fruit trees and the feeders, so I grabbed my camera and went out.

The instant I went out, still 20-25 feet from them, they all bailed. I could hear them up in the pine trees at the back of the yard, clicking that weird little electronic-sounding chirp of theirs, but they wouldn’t come out.

I waited.

Eventually I noticed the new buds on the tree and went to document it. Now that I was otherwise occupied, the hummers started coming back out, flying overhead near the field of view where I was looking up into the tree. But the second I started to shift the camera over to them… “Warp Factor Eight, Mr. Sulu!! Get us out of here!” And they’re gone again.

I waited.

They came back over by the feeders, which by now are 40-45 feet away because I’m over by the big tree. Every time I took a step in that direction, they flew away like little emerald, iridescent UFOs.

I waited.

Again they were back, but every time I started to raise the camera, they teleported away to Planet Hummingbird.

I said, “Screw it!” (Close enough…) I have deadlines, I had gotten some sun and air, I was going to go back in. I got back to the porch, walking right next to one of the feeders, when…

One of the little monsters flew up to the other feeder, over by the fruit trees, about eight feet away. I froze, verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry carefully and slowly started to raise the camera…

And the little asshole flew over and started sucking out of the feeder six inches from my head. I could have (in theory, at least) reached out and grabbed him, BUT MY CAMERA IS USELESS BECAUSE I CAN’T FOCUS A TELEPHOTO LENS THAT CLOSE!!!

They were toying with me. I hope they had fun.

They were teasing me. Little assholes!


Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Photography

Fall Arrives

It’s late February and we’ve had more and more windy days than I can remember. Time is all screwed up, in so many ways – even the trees are confused. At least our tree is.

The big tree in our back yard has just this last week decided to drop all of its leaves for fall. I guess it just didn’t feel like doing it in November or December.

I know that the season may arrive a bit late in these temperate, warm, semi-desert conditions, but this is ridiculous!

The winds have taken the leaves and the tree is pretty much stripped now. Just in time! Next week it will be March and we’ll need to start seeing those spring buds come out. I hope that sap didn’t get too comfortable down in the roots.


Filed under Castle Willett

Erratum – January 24th

In the past two days I have posted pictures, taken both during the day and at night, showing the tall, thin, coniferous trees in our front yard being blown hard by the wind. I have erroneously referred to them as “cedar” tress, even going so far as to use that term in the title of yesterday’s post.

Thanks to the diligent eye for detail and gentle words of correction from The Long Suffering Wife, I know now that these are not cedar trees – they’re Italian cypress trees.

I stand corrected, and regret the error.

On the other hand, in order to maintain a properly petty and sarcastic tone, I would not that no one, not even the omnipotent and omniscient Google is 100% correct, even on this subject. While researching these facts Google offered a link to “Italian cypress trees near me,” which did NOT mention the ones not fifty feet away from here.

They don’t know everything.


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It’s Seen Better Days

…but then again, so has the country that it represents.

This is the same flag that had started to shred back in October with the wind storms that came through. At that point, leading up to the election, it was my opinion that things were pretty messed up and getting dangerous in the United States, so I left it like that as a symbol of the country’s condition.

Since then the wind has continued to shred and wrap, much as the political winds have. Today, of course, that culminated in the second impeachment of a lower-than-whale-shit waste of protoplasm who never should have been within 100 miles of the White House.

But assuming that creature doesn’t do something truly insane and is allowed to do so by enough evil cult sycophants, in 6 days, 14 hours, 9 minutes, and 11 seconds (there’s an app for that!) I think we’ll be in a much better place (albeit with a metric shit-ton of work ahead of us!). I’m sure there will be some champagne, and I’m sure I can swing a new flag as a symbol of that new beginning.

But for tonight, we’re all still hanging on by a thread.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography, Politics

Cloudy Friday

So many things actually accomplished today, so tired, feeling like so many things got left as loose ends… It’s Friday? Good, I guess…

Cloudy tonight, so no views of the Great Conjunction. Maybe tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the house is going insane.

Who knew that these fancy programmable thermostats could flip a digit, blow a fuse, crater a chip, or whatever it was and all of a sudden not allow any temp to be set except 40°? That might have been comfy if it were Celsius, but in Fahrenheit it’s a bit nippy for my taste.

The good news is that it wasn’t an intermittent problem – it was a fatal one, at least for the thermostat. It would have been extremely frustrating to have the landlord show up for repairs and have it then (of course) be working fine. Nope, it conveniently had turned into an electronic brick that would only reliably tell the time and the current temperature.

All better now, but not what I wanted to spend a chunk of my Friday dealing with.

How was your Friday? Onward, bravely, into the weekend!!

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Cold Wind Sunset

The sunset was nice, if not spectacular. It’s chilly, and the winds are again really whipping up here on the hill.

How windy? Lemme tell you a story…

In my home office (aka one of the spare bedrooms) I prefer it warmer than the rest of the house, so I tend to keep the door closed. The computers and printers keep it warmer just fine. But unless I’m actually on a call or a Zoom meeting, I don’t necessarily want the door shut all the way, so I’ll leave it partially closed. Not latched, not open, but in that in-between position where the spring loaded latching mechanism has engaged and put some tension on the door frame, but it hasn’t clicked into the hole in the door frame yet.

Four or five times today the house has flexed enough with the pressure of the wind that it has torqued the rectangular, interior, hallway door frame enough to allow the latching mechanism to find the hole and snap shut. This sounds like a freaking rifle. And when it comes totally out of the blue, especially after it’s NEVER done this before in 2+ years here, it’s disturbing. Scares the shit out of me.

I’m not a fan of the wind.


Filed under Castle Willett, Photography, Weather

2020 Christmas Lights – Round One

As much as I had thought about starting Christmas lights a week or even several weeks early this year (because 2020 = SUCKS while Christmas lights = anti-SUCKS, in case that wasn’t obvious), the intentions might have been good but the work load and that whole “only 24 hours in the day and that’s the LAW!” thing sort of ruled that out. But now it’s after Thanksgiving, the normal time for starting to put up lights, in no small part because there’s a four-day weekend, so off we go!

I got up about half of what’s normal for this house over the last two years, but it’s the harder half with almost all of the roof lights and ladder work done. The lights that still need to go up go into those bushes and ground cover and that’s pretty straightforward and quick. (I hope!)

Plus there’s a 13 day-old moon rising, one day away from full!

Still need the lights over the garage door, but let’s hope it’s quick tomorrow and Sunday. Remember, if you aren’t blowing circuit breakers, you can still put up more lights!


Filed under Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Photography