Category Archives: Castle Willett

The Rosy Side Of The Driveway

Last year was “thin” for roses – not getting any water will do that. They’re on a drip system, but even that was cut back to two days a week with the water rationing measures in place in SoCal.

This year, after near record rainfall over the winter, rain STILL coming very late in the year and well past the end of the rainy season, and use of the sprinklers again authorized when it’s not raining:

There are still a couple of little holdouts there in the middle, but I have faith that they’ll get their act together and start contributing soon. Or maybe they’re holding out for all of the others to bloom and fade so that they can then have the stage to themselves.

Roses are so tempremental!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Flowers, Photography

A Place Lost

Where is home? I know where I live, but that’s different.

Too late now.

I was there for an hour or two. That will have to do.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography, Travel

Odds & Sods, April 20th

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you heard that SpaceX launched its SuperHeavy booster and Starship spacecraft. You also heard that it blew up.

There are lots of folks who aren’t fans of money spent on space programs, either private or government, and a lot of folks who aren’t big fans of Elon Musk. They’re all having a field day making¬† jokes and declarations that the day was an epic failure.

It was far from a failure. This was a first test flight of something so cutting edge that it’s never even been fantasized about by any other space program. I ranted a bit about what an eventual success of Starship will mean for the world, humanity, the future of mankind, blah blah blah.

For something this revolutionary, never tried before, the first flight is truly a “test” flight. They’ve done tens of thousands of hours of simulations and systems tests and static fires and wet dress rehearsals. Now it was time to push the big red button, light those 33 engines, and if they all light (or at least most of them) then you can get off the ground and see what actually happens. That was today.

Now there’s going to be months of analysis. They’re going to have to figure out why those couple of engines didn’t light. They’re going to have to figure out why the stages didn’t separate. They’re going to have to rebuild big chunks of the pad and figure out how how to keep it from getting chewed up on the next launch.

Disappointment? Sure, it would have been really cool to go off flawlessly. But that’s not the real world.

They’ll figure it out. Be patient.

Speaking of disappointment, I got the news today that not one, but two houses that I’ve been lusting after got sold. We’ve been looking at houses for a couple of years, if by “looking” you mean “looking at thousands of houses on Zillow.” It will be a big move, but renting sucks.

One house outside of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois we went and saw last summer when we were in Chicago. I had serious house lust, the place was glorious, huge, majestic, and incredibly low priced compared to the LA real estate market. However, I was alone in those feelings.

The other house was up in the High Desert about three hours away, two hours outside of Los Angeles. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was very functional, good sized, lots of storage, a decent neighborhood, and reasonably priced for the LA real estate market. We’ve been meaning to take a trip up there to take a look but the schedule never worked out. Now it’s gone.

Disappointment? Sure, it would have been really cool to get one of them. But that’s not the real world.

I’ll figure it out. Be patient.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Space


Following the party on Sunday, there were leftovers. Salads for the next week, soft drinks, BBQ, beer, desserts…

…and enough red & yellow M&Ms (plain AND peanut) to feed a battalion.

To get the monocolor M&Ms you have to buy them in one pound or two bound bags. Most folks at the party were snacking on the other appetizers and the Crumbl cookies and the M&Ms were pretty and admired but not eaten.

So much for my diet!


Filed under Castle Willett, KC Chiefs

Super Bowl Champions Again

It was a GREAT game, very evenly matched, very tight, comebacks by both theams, could easily have gone either way. In the end, my beloved Chiefs prevailed for their second Super Bowl win in the three Super Bowl appearances in the last four years, and the franchise’s third Super Bowl win overall.

May be an image of 4 people, people playing American football and text that says "IHDE OMBARDI TROPHY CHIEA SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS H" (From The Kansas City Chiefs)

The party here was a ton of fun, a good time was had by all! Tons of snacks, both ours and those brought by friends and guests.

There was much to eat and drink, desserts, all highlighted by BBQ up the ying-yang from world-famous Joe’s BBQ in Kansas City.

In the end, I was grateful to once again pop the champagne.

And now? Sleep. Much needed sleep…

It was a great day!


Filed under Castle Willett, KC Chiefs, Photography, Sports

The Stage Is Set

If you’ve read this site for very long, you know that I’m a passionate fan of the Kansas City Chiefs football team. (Kansas City is one of the places I grew up, the grade school years.) If you’e American and haven’t been under a rock for the past two weeks, you know that the Chiefs are in the Super Bowl tomorrow against the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s their third trip to the Super Bowl in four years, having won three years ago and lost two years ago.

Tomorrow we’ll be throwing our “traditional” Super Bowl party for family, friends, and coworkers. We’re ready to rock & roll!

We’ve played Tetris with the fridge to get everything in.

The “spare” fridge out on the back porch is responsible for holding all of the cold beer, water, and soft drinks.

The champagne is ready for cooling, the margaritas for mixing, and the red wine for those who swing that way. (We don’t have a ton of the “proper” glassware, but we’re not going to lose a single second of sleep over that. If push comes to shove, we have an industrial sized package of “Chiefs’ Red” Solo cups.

We ordered in an emergency package from Joe’s Kansas City BBQ, a legendary hallmark BBQ site from a city legendary for its BBQ.

Of course we have desserts – I’ve heard a lot about this new cookie place taking the world by storm and they opened one nearby… Why not?!

While I’m obviously hoping for and expecting a Chiefs win, I’m also expecting a legendary Super Bowl between two great teams that are very evenly matched.

We should have invited a cardiologist!

Enjoy the game, y’all!

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Filed under Castle Willett, KC Chiefs, Photography, Sports

A Hint Of Green

One almost immediate benefit that’s come from all of the rain that we’ve had is that the back yard is starting to look a tiny bit less barren.

With a few days of sun in between a few days of rain, for the first time since the lawn watering restrictions went into effect back on June 1st the back yard has some green to it. There’s a long way to go, but any port in a storm! (So to speak…)

Unfortunately, it’s not grass, except for a couple of patches around the sprinkler heads where there were slow drips. Instead it’s this clover-like stuff, so it’s not clear how much actual coverage we’re going to get, how sturdy or hardy it is, or anything else.

I would probably worry more about it if I owned the house. But we’ve been renting for 4+ years, and it’s ultimately not going to be my problem. I try not to be a schmuck about such things, but I’ve also got my limits on what I can afford to spend time worrying about, and someone else’s landscaping when under a strictly enforced set of water restrictions is over the line for me.

Welcome, little clover-like stuff! Don’t get eaten by the birds!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography, Weather

Christmas 2022

Cupcake down!!!

It was suffering horribly, so it was put out of its misery. (It was delicious.)

Meanwhile despite my common sense suggesting, demanding, shouting, and finally whimpering pathetically about moderation, I ate far more than I should have today. “Moderation” will resume tomorrow, as in, “I may not eat until New Year’s Eve.” But the food and company was great, gifts were received and given, and in general a good time was had by all.

I hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday or a relaxing Sunday and are able to do whatever you need to do tomorrow, whether that be lying around like a beached whale, cleaning up after the present pillaging, or just relaxing after the stress of the this holiday and starting to prepare for the next one in six days.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography

Christmas Eve Eve Hot Dogs

As I come into the kitchen to fix my plate I find the hot dogs already in the buns, with a whole smorgasbord of condiments laid out.

From the living room, she shouts, “Your hot dogs might be a little bit…charred. Put lots of stuff on them!”

“They look fine! Wait…did you put them in the buns already so that the charred side is hidden?”

“Of course, how stupid do you think I am?”

She probably learned that from my mother. At a very young age I realized that Mom would often leave one side of a grilled cheese sandwich a bit more “well done” than the other. That side was always on the bottom as the sandwich was served. By my teen years I would get the sandwich served still hot on the spatula with the top side visible, then plopped and flipped so that the other side could be seen.

Mom’s been gone for a while now, but somehow that family tradition continues on. I’m pretty sure I served grilled cheese sandwiches to my kids that way back when they were still at home.

Christmas Eve Eve. It’s been a heck of a week, lots of little victories, a couple of big ones, and still a ton of things to get wrapped up (see what I did there?) before the jolly fat guy slides down the chimney tomorrow night.

Hot dog powered, I will prevail.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Family, Photography

The View To The West Has Changed

The house across the street from us will be getting new occupants soon (details unknown, mainly because it’s none of my business) and whoever’s in charge now is doing some massive amounts of cleanup and landscaping work. Yesterday morning I woke up to chain saws and trucks and chipper-shredders.

It was a bad day for the neighborhood bunnies – that heavy brush is home to dozens as far as I can tell. At least, that’s where they run when I spook them out of my yard.¬† Of more interest to me was the fate of that giant pine tree.

It’s a gorgeous old tree and I like trees. It’s also home to hundreds of birds, and you may have noticed that I like birds. But it’s not my house and not my tree.

Also, let’s face it, if you’re looking toward Vandenberg to see a launch, the rockets rise RIGHT SQUARE BEHIND that tree. Take a look at many of the ISS pass photos over the last four years from here and you’ll see that tree blocking some part of the flyover most nights. So if it were to be gone, it wouldn’t all be bad…

Presto chango! Or maybe presto chainsaw-o! There’s now a LOT of open sky to my west.

Let’s see when the next ISS pass is. Or the next launch out of Vandenberg.

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