Category Archives: Castle Willett

Halloween Decorations

As the seasons move on and we enter fall for the first time in our new neighborhood I notice that there are substantially more homes with Halloween decorations out than in our old neighborhood. It was one or two as soon as October rolled around, but now the number is growing. (This gives me great hope for Christmas, although it’s equally likely that we’ve just inadvertently moved into a neighborhood of vampires, ghost, goblins, and ghoulies and we’ll never see Christmas because we’ll be eaten alive on the 31st… Never mind!)

Most of meager supply of Halloween decorations are still in storage after the move, but a couple of lawn ornaments got shoved into the garage during those chaotic weeks, so this weekend I put them out in the front yard. Of course, last night we had our first severe Santa Ana wind event and they got blown over. (In the old neighborhood we were at the bottom of the hill and somewhat sheltered – here we’re at the top of it and pretty exposed. It got windy.)

No harm, no foul, everything’s back up again tonight, but in that mindset, the Halloween zeitgeist as it were, I noticed something else tonight.

From our front yard security camera, during the day (the mail carrier is likely not a ghoulie) it looks like, well, a front yard:

However, tonight I noticed that that bush in the foreground right by the porch looks quite different when lit from the porch light only:

Am I the only one that sees a crazed, screaming face in that bush? And why do the eyes follow me when I look out that window and move around the room?

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography

Sunset From Anthony’s Deck

Meet your neighbors. Make friends.

The urban legend says that no one in LA knows ANY of their neighbors. This has a grain of truth to it – there were people who lived across the street from us for 27 years at the old house and I don’t know that I ever said two words to them and I most certainly didn’t know their names. On the other hand, the other five or six closest houses to us on the street as well as the folks who lived on the other side of the wall in the back were all at least casual acquaintances. We knew their names, we knew their dogs, if they were going out of town for the weekend we would keep an eye on their place and bring their trash cans up from the curb, and they would do the same for us.

Since we moved in May I’ve met several of our neighbors and I go out of my way to say hello, introduce myself, find out who they are, invite them over if they see the telescopes out in the front yard, and so on.

Tonight that paid off.

There are the remnants of a “small” hurricane to the south of us, streaming lots of moisture across Baja and into Arizona at the moment. That stream of rain and thunderstorms is shifting over us, so I figured there might be a decent sunset to look at. Fortunately, it came just as halftime started (where my beloved KC Chiefs were beating the Broncos to go 4-0) so I grabbed my camera and went out.

As I’ve mentioned, we’re at the top of the hill, on the side of the street where our back yard drops off to the east. To our west, there are a bunch of trees and lots of power lines.

Things were starting to look colorful – but trees, neighbors’ houses, etc. I wandered down the hill a couple of houses.

Back to the west, with all of these layers of clouds and the sun setting through the layers to the west, there were some interesting spots of color floating in a sky full of darker clouds.

As the sun started to get to the horizon and peek out from under the last layer of clouds…

…the colors started to get vivid near the horizon. But still, trees, antennas, neighbors’ houses. Better, not spectacular.

The pinkish mid-layers got even more pronounced.

One of the neighboring wives came out to leave and saw me, asked what I was taking pictures of. I told her – she called for her husband to come out. I had previously met Anthony and he told me I should come with him. They live on the other side of the street with the hill dropping away and giving a clear view to the west, and they’ve got a deck so that it’s a particularly spectacular view.

Down below in the gloaming are the West Hills Baseball fields where we spent so many hours with all of our kids. The central hill there we always called Castle Peak, primarily because it’s surrounded by Castle Peak Park.

Meet your neighbors. Make friends. One of them, like Anthony, might like sunsets just as much as you do, and they might have a great view of the western horizon.



Filed under Castle Willett, Los Angeles, Photography, Weather


Shit, it happened again. Busier than god all day at my paying job, come home and spend all evening busier than god at my non-paying job. All of a sudden it’s 23:44…

Drop back ten and punt, at least in the blogging, website, “NDIAD” (Not Dead In A Ditch) sort of way. (NDIAD is how my kids learned to report home when they were travelling or staying over at a friend’s house and wanted to let me know they had gotten home safely or whatever. It’s a Willett thing.)

Oh, and I got turned down for the latest NASA Social that I had applied for. SHAZBATT!! It would have been for the Mars InSight landing, held at JPL, and would have been really, REALLY cool! Which is no doubt why a ton of folks applied and those of us who don’t have 5,000 or 25,000 followers (or those of us who have already been to five) didn’t get picked.

How did your day go?

Oh, if you’re anywhere on the US eastern seaboard, please stay safe – it’s going to be a rough couple of weeks. Check in once in a while, that sort of thing.

It occurs to me that NDIAD can also stand for Not Drowned In A Ditch…

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Filed under Castle Willett, Paul, Weather

Bringing In The Mycelium Second String

While I realize that just about absolutely no one on the entire planet gives two shakes about the mushrooms in my yard, it has also occurred to me that it’s my website and I can post any stupid crap I want…

You’ve seen that the new front yard occasionally sprouts mushrooms (here, here, here, here, and here) but it’s been a losing battle against the gardeners’ lawn mowers. The lawn gets mowed on Thursday, so popping up on Monday gives you a three-day lifespan, while popping up on Saturday only gives you five days.

The lawn was mowed today (it really IS Thursday, right?) but when I got home and was taking out the trash I found these guys:

Not clear if these guys started coming up just after the lawn movers passed, or if they started coming up yesterday or early today and were just too short to get lopped off by the spinning blades o’ death!

It’s possible that the big puffballs I’ve seen before are actually the same type/species/family as this guy and I just never noticed one this small – but it looks different. Maybe the mycelium has send in the second string!

This guy on the other hand looks like a distinctly different breed than the big white puffballs. It’s also small enough to have not get lopped, but it looks like it’s a different shape, different stem, different coloration.

I’m most certainly no expert at all on the subject of mushrooms, but I have learned that the mycelium can be a massively huge organism that underlies that suburban putting green that covers the ground in front of the house. What I wonder about now is if it’s made up of different types and species of mushrooms or is it supposed to be monospecific? (I’m astonished that “monospecific” is an actual word, and even more amazingly, it means exactly what I wanted it to mean when I thought I was making it up! Mrs. Henry would be so proud!)

Again, I’m sure no one gives a rat’s patootie – but as Kevin MacNamara said about me way back in high school, I’m “easily amused.”



Filed under Castle Willett, Photography

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