Category Archives: Castle Willett

Plan B

Lemons —> Lemonade

I had work to do at the CAF hangar as I normally do on Saturday, but we were having an event there which had the entire location packed to the gills. I probably could have gotten in since I work there, but I had a new printer (weighing in at 50 pounds) and would have had to park blocks and blocks away, then walk while carrying the printer plus my briefcase and other stuff.

I had a Plan B.

Our storage unit is just on the other side of the runway (this is not an accident) and I’ve still got plenty of work to do to clean up following our move eleven months ago. Way too much of the last few days (looking back at it I still can’t quite believe we actually pulled it off) was spent simply stuffing boxes into storage as fast as possible because there were no other options or alternatives. So sorting stuff into order is still a work in progress.

Five hours later I was quite exhausted – I don’t get enough exercise these days, which has got to change. But for today there was more sweating, lifting, hauling, and flat-out grunt work than I’ve had in several months. So I locked up and went over to the hangar to see how quickly I could get the bare minimum “accounting stuff” done. (About three and a half hours.)

The good news is that my watch is thrilled with me. For the first time since I got it, I closed all three rings. (If you don’t have an Apple Watch, just go with “It’s a good thing!”)

What I find hilarious is the red graph – four to five hours where the activity readings are pegged, followed by a rapid decent to the rest of the day sitting at a desk and plotzing, watching repeats of yesterday’s SpaceX launch, watching the new Star Wars IX trailer, and generally being sore and stiff and waiting for the sweet, sweet release of the grave.

Tomorrow’s another day. Kick ass – take names!

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Filed under CAF, Castle Willett, Health

The Winds, She Are A-Howlin’

49 MPH?

Sounds about right! And here’s what it sounded like…

Those wind chimes will be working overtime. I guess it will be a stress test on the workmanship in the new nest out on the patio that those house finches built.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Weather

By The Mailbox

On a day which featured a truly ugly and horrible thing along with all of the usual crap, it was a surprise and a small joy to find these next to the mailbox when I got home:

If they’ve ever been there before in the eleven months we’ve lived here, I’ve been blind to them.

Which may in fact be the biggest takeaway. It’s possible that they only bloom for a few minutes a day around sunset, or that they only bloom for a few days every year…

…but I’m going to go with the probability that they’ve been there before, but I was busy getting the mail and ignoring the flowers that were six inches from my feet.

I did not stop to smell them – one thing at a time. (Plus, they’re not roses. I don’t know what they are, but they’re not roses.)

Thinking tonight of those who are having much shittier days that I did.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Flowers, Photography

Big Black Fred

This guy was sunning himself next to the trash barrels when I went out this afternoon:

I’m actually surprised by what the photos show him to look like in detail. From where I was standing and taking the pictures (about ten to fifteen feet away with a big telephoto lens) he looked to be solid black.

As you can see, he’s got a much, much more detailed and not quite as dark scaling pattern.

He was also pretty calm about standing his ground – I’m guessing that he’s pretty comfortable with the environment around the trash bins and the ivy and bushes immediately behind them, so he knew that he could get to cover very quickly. Most of the other lizards I see in the “new” house sun themselves more out in the open and are pretty skittish. This guy let me step up to within about seven or eight feet on this picture before he boogied.

But he was back out quickly after I dropped off the trash – I saw him back out there just a couple of minutes later. Something besides the sun had his attention.

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Spring Returns – Day Fifteen

For the third Sunday in a row it was nice and warm and sunny today. Two weekends ago that warmth and wonderful weather inspired me to go out and shoot pictures of the back yard as it woke up to the warmer temps and  bloomed and budded. Last week it was the front yard. Today I was out listening to crows (and wondering if they’re actually ravens), investigating a big soggy spot in the back yard (broken irrigation pipe?), and trying desperately (and completely unsuccessfully) to photograph butterflies.

At the back end of the yard, where it goes down over the hill and you have that great view all the way to Griffith Observatory (which is where we started this sequence of posts two weeks ago), the neighbor’s ice plant has come through the fence and is taking over the steps down the hill.

The good news is that ice plant has the most brilliant, vibrant purple flowers. The bees and hummingbirds approve.

And with that I think I’ll let spring get on with its work on its own. All of the flowering plants shown over the past two weeks continue to fill out, and the other fruit trees that didn’t have spectacular flowers are now exploding with leaves. The lemon tree (which is green year around) has a handful of lemons ready to be picked and used in the kitchen. The succulents over by the BBQ have gone thermonuclear, while Lazarus hangs on still.

Tonight we had our first dinner out on the porch, which was lovely, if a bit breezy. The outdoor table is just a few feet away from where the new bird nest is, so for much of the meal we were being scolded by the house finches. They don’t understand that we’re mostly harmless. The mockingbirds were zooming from side to side across the yard, making sure that we knew that it’s THEIR yard, not ours. I love their songs, even in the middle of the night, but if they’re going to have that attitude they need to start paying some of the rent.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled nonsense and falderal!

 

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Filed under Castle Willett, Flowers, Photography

Spring Returns – Day Fourteen

For the second Sunday in a row it was nice and warm and sunny this last weekend. The previous weekend that warmth and wonderful weather inspired me to go out and shoot pictures of the back yard as it woke up to the warmer temps and  bloomed and budded. (Read those earlier posts by clicking something at random in that box o’er on the right that says “Recent Post” – after taking the quiz on this one, of course. You were warned last night that there would be a quiz.) This last Sunday, since getting out of the house and walking around in the sun makes my smartass watch happy, I did the front yard. (For the record, wandering around the front yard on your knees with a camera taking pictures of “weeds” and bees will make the neighbors look at you oddly. This is to be encouraged.)

While a lot of what I’ve been posting as signs of spring’s return (bushes, flowers, trees, birds, bees, lizards, weeds) have been “wild,” these are more domestic. Along the far side of the driveway are a dozen or so small rose bushes.

I’ve rarely seen them bloom at all during the eleven months we’ve been here, but at least a few of them seem to be showing up for work now. Not sure if it just took a year for the roses to decide we weren’t monsters, if they’re more seasonal that I thought and we just missed the previous season when we moved in, or if they’re blooming like hell 365 days a year and getting eaten by the stupid rabbits.

Whatever the cause, for now at least four or five of the dozen-plus plants have decided to justify all the water that’s been put on them for the last year. I appreciate it!

I especially like this one, the orange and yellow roses. I’m sure there are homes around that have vast stretches of pristine blooms, carefully cultivated, perfect all year around. This doesn’t describe our house. But I’ll appreciate the little things we have. Too many people take them for granted. I try not to.

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Spring Returns – Day Thirteen

For the second Sunday in a row it was nice and warm and sunny this last weekend. The previous weekend that warmth and wonderful weather inspired me to go out and shoot pictures of the back yard as it bloomed and budded and woke up to the warmer temps. (You can go see those earlier posts by looking in that box over on the right that says “Recent Post” – after reading this one, of course. There will be a quiz.) This last Sunday, since getting out of the house and walking around in the sun makes my smartass watch happy, I did the front yard. (For the record, wandering around the front yard on your knees with a camera taking pictures of “weeds” and bees will make the neighbors look at you oddly. This is to be encouraged. And is anyone actually reading this first paragraph or just assuming it’s the same every day?)

The neighbors might look at you funny for crawling around on the lawn taking pictures of weeds and bees. This guy is much more paranoid. And vocal. And aggressive.

We’ve been in the new house a bit over ten months now, and long-time readers will remember numerous mentions of the crows when we first moved in. Every time we came out the front door there were a couple of them swooping over the yard and being very noisy. “Every time” as in “Every! Freaking! Time!”

I wondered if all the attention we were getting wasn’t due to the one that started living on the front porch for a few days. I figured it had to have been sick or injured or afraid of flying and I always wondered what happened to it. We never found a bunch of feathers in the yard or on the porch, so if it went off and got eaten by a cat or coyote or hawk, it did it in someone else’s yard.

After Edgar (the sick/injured/psychotic crow on the porch) disappeared, within a week or two the crows disappeared as well. At least, the ones from the nest in the palm tree across the street that were harassing us. There are still plenty of crows around all over – but OUR crows were noticeably absent.

Until about two weeks ago. Now they seem to be back, or at least a similar group with similar habits. Do crows have a pattern of migrations over an area throughout the year? Our baseline is a little small on this data sample, but at least at first glance it seems possible.

The telephone pole by the driveway is their favorite perch. It gives them a good spot to see and be seen, and to squawk at great volume and with splendid agitation. I’m glad that I gave them something to feel threatened by, I guess.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Photography