Category Archives: Castle Willett

Bold Lizard

I went out into the back yard (it was about 89°F – sorry to my friends in the sub-freezing climes) and spooked a lizard.

This is one of the “tree Freds” – they’re often found sunning themselves on the side of a large tree just off to the right in this view. I went out for something, Tree Fred felt that caution was in order, and he bolted for the bushes along the fence, seen behind him.

But he stopped to watch me. He was a bold lizard today.

I had time to go in and get my good camera with the telephoto lens and Tree Fred was still waiting.

I took a couple of pictures from across the yard, just after I came out onto the porch, then started slowly walking toward him, a couple steps at a time.

Every time I got closer I expected him to bolt, but he was a Bold Lizard!

I was getting a lot of side eye, and I’m pretty sure he knew that he was much faster than I was. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he could make it into those bushes before I could blink, if he so chose.

I finally got within about five feet of him, then backed off in respect for his ectothermic lifestyle. He had a nice, toasty spot on the sidewalk and who was I to deny him those solar photons? I promised to keep on taking any crickets that I found in the house and releasing them back into his bushes. I’m going to assume he appreciates it.

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No Context For You – November 09th

There’s something tantalizing here. Almost enough detail to recognize where and when I inadvertently pushed a button and saved an image without realizing it.


Meanwhile, Jeez Louise, *WHEN* did it become **NOVEMBER**??!!

Sorry, it caught me off guard today.

Way back at the beginning of the year I wrote about how last year became the “year without Christmas” for me. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, given what I got to exchange Christmas for, but it was odd. (And to answer the question posed at the end of that article – right here at home, given the nature of the business at my new job.)

But then 2019 has had its own unique sets of “challenges,” many of which have impacted other holidays, both societal and personal.

For example, between 2018 and 2019, it’s the first time in forever that we didn’t go somewhere to watch fireworks on July 4th. Oh, from the new house, which is on the top of a hill, we can see them off in the distance – but it’s not the same.

In both 2018 and 2019, it’s the first time in forever when we haven’t been to an Angels baseball game. None. Not one. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Labor Day or thereabouts used to be Worldcon. Maybe not every year like when I was in college or soon thereafter (i.e., before the kids arrived) but usually at least 2 out of three years, or three out of five. Now – nothing since 2009. Hell, we didn’t even get to the Worldcon in San Jose last year!

Our trips to the movie theaters have plummeted. We used to go at least once a month – now it’s once or twice a year. Maybe.

Halloween at the new house has been a non-event for two years in a row now. We used to have so, so many kids come by and bring out the telescopes. Now, even though we’re only a mile away, we might as well be on a rural highway halfway between Renwick and Hardy, Iowa.

So here we are in early November and Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away. We’ll be doing…what?

And Christmas is only six and a half weeks away. We know we won’t be traveling, but will the lights and festivities and decorations and celebrations be up to our familiar standards?

One might start to think that we’re doing this “adulting” thing incorrectly.

(Thank you for attending my TED whine!)



Filed under Castle Willett, Family, Photography, Travel

Party #3 With Babies & Virga

That was quite the wedding! A good time was truly had by all.

Today was the third party in three days, this time for The Long-Suffering Wife’s family.

Again the back yard in our entertainment-friendly home was pressed into service – again a good time was had by all. There were babies there as well, which explains the stroller/jumper that had been sitting in the living room (a serious source of conversation for those visiting for the first party!). In addition to the brunch and mimosas and champagne, there was T-ball, coloring books, and a little bit of poop.

There was also virga, much to my surprise.

Yesterday the amount and scope of the virga in the area was much, MUCH larger and we actually got some brief showers earlier in the day when I was taking people back and forth to the wedding venue. Imagine my surprise when, with 0.00% chance of rain in the forecast for the next ten days, we had to worry a bit about rain (it was a partially outdoor venue) when for weeks we had been worrying about the threat of fire.

Finally, did *I* have a good time at my daughter’s wedding?

(Photo taken by my brother-in-law)

You bet your ass I did!

(Yes, I also tied that bow tie all by myself, for better or for worse. Why do you ask?)

Now to get folks to the airport, back on the road home, or off to their next vacation destination. We’re in the home stretch!



Filed under Castle Willett, Family, Photography

Halloween 2019

It’s one night in particular when I miss the old house.

We always had hundreds of kids coming by. Families. Teenagers. Little kids. Pets.

If it was clear we always brought out the telescopes and let everyone take a look. It was magical.

No more. Last year I think we had a small handful of trick or treaters, a dozen at the most.

This year, not a single person stopped by. We’re at the top of the hill and off on a side street, but I didn’t even see anyone on any of the streets leading into our tract when I drove home.

Maybe it’s the fires. There’s another big one going off tonight, over 5,000 acres already in just a few hours. The “good” news for us is that it’s off in
Ventura County and doesn’t seem to be a threat to our wedding plans for Saturday.

Let the partying begin. Halloween’s over and was something of a bust (although we did have a fun Halloween lunch party at my new office!)…

…but the wedding weekend is going to be AWESOME!

Hello, November!

Let the partying begin!

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At The Top Of The Lift Hill

Anyone who rides roller coasters is familiar with the “lift hill.” It’s the slow part at the beginning of many coasters where you slowly get hauled up a big, BIG hill to get the gravitational potential energy that’s going to be expended to propel you through a series of high speed twists, loops, spins, and other maneuvers generally intended to make you puke.

Usually you’re pulled up by a big chain underneath the car and you hear it clacking and clanking all the way up. But at the top there’s a change in the timbre of the sound as the first cars start to go over the summit and the rest of the train quickly follows and the cars pull away from the chain.

In a metamorphic sense, that final sound as you go over the top is the theme song for today.

There’s the new job, which is going well, but which is extremely busy and a bit intense.

There’s my usual bit at the CAF hangar where I’m always running the Red Queen’s Race.

And the winds have started howling here again tonight while the humidity has dropped into single digits. In the Bay Area there are close to two million people without power (NOT a typo!) as PG&E deliberately shuts down the grid to prevent the fires that its faulty infrastructure started two or three days ago. Here in LA there are still a couple of fires burning but the evacuation orders have been lifted – for now. We remain vigilant and nervous.

But for us personally, the big source of life’s flips, spins, loops, and stomach-lurching changes is a wedding next Saturday. Our youngest daughter is getting married, and the family starts coming into town tomorrow. I got to spend most of today frantically cleaning up the back yard and preparing it for the multiple parties and celebrations being held here next weekend. I spent a while this evening putting together a baby walker for some of the young ones coming in, one of whom I’ll be meeting for the first time.

I got my tux today. (First one I’ve ever owned.) I have a week to learn how to tie a bow-tie. (I accidentally got a clip-on as an emergency back-up if needed – I won’t need it.)

So maybe expect short posts the rest of the week.

Oh, and needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I won’t be doing “NaNoWriMo” this year.

No matter how much I might enjoy the roller coaster of life, there’s only so much screaming I can handle!

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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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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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