Roses Vs 121°

It hasn’t been that bad here recently – upper 80’s, low 90’s. A dry, SMOKY heat, since we’re still getting a lot of it from the local fires, including the Bobcat fire which is threatening the world-class, historic astronomical observatories on Mount Wilson. As of last night, the flames were within 500 feet of the observatory grounds. You thought that I was worried and upset about Lick Observatory near San Jose when it was threatened a month ago? This one REALLY has me worried.

But a couple weeks ago, when it was 121° a couple miles from here and 117° here, I was out in the noonday sun (like an idiot, because… well, I’m an idiot) and noticed a couple of roses that had tried to bloom in the previous couple of days.

They were losing the fight.

As pretty much are California, Oregon, and Washington at the moment.

Good thing that we’ve got such a proactive, supportive, aggressive Federal assistance response going on to help us out! We can count on the White House and Congress!

(And I’ll leave it at that, leave this site relatively family friendly, and go back to Twitter to see what I can say about the GOP and President that might get me put into Twitter jail again.)

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Filed under Flowers, Photography, Politics

Random Old Photos – September 15th

Leaving Essex, New York, heading across Lake Champlain.

I’ve only been on a ferry once or twice. This was in June – I kept wondering what this trip would be like, if they can do it at all, in January or February. Their web site says that it’s all-year – weather & ice conditions permitting. The lake does free over, although these days (climate change, like it or not!) it’s about three times a decade instead of seven or eight times a decade.

I’ll guarantee you won’t see this guy out here in mid-winter. I’m just glad that he saw us and we saw him.

Pulling into Charlotte, Vermont, just south of Burlington, where we were flying out of to get back home after a week in Vermont and New York.

I do think about being there all the time and then coming back to LA for a week or so every couple of years instead of the other way around. I always seem to be happier arriving there than I do getting back here.

That might be a sign. If happiness counts.


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Twitter Jail Again

When having a Twitter “discussion” with a religious fanatic who’s trying to defend the “President” against the blood of 200,000+ COVID deaths on hands, it is apparently not allowed to say “Religious cult members can all fuck off and die.

Who knew?

Apparently that’s targeted harassment and indicates that I was “wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm.” I always thought that it was just a figure of speech, but next time I’ll remember to tell them to just fuck off. Period.

I know, I should have said, “Bless your heart! I hope when the day comes that you meet your Lord God and Savior you find that They’re the just and beneficent One advertised and when you’re judged you get everything that’s coming to you. Everything. (Prepare to be surprised!)”

But I didn’t. So I guess I’ll see y’all back on Twitter in (tries to post something…) nine hours and 11 minutes.

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Smoky Sunset

The smoke sucks.

Another day of smelling it, sore eyes, a nagging small cough.

Even with that, while it’s not great here, it’s far, FAR worse in so many other places in California, Oregon, and Washington.

Not to mention the actual, you know, FIRES, that are killing dozens, could kill thousands, and are destroying entire towns and literally millions of acres of forests and grasslands.

But the special effects… WOW!

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Mourning Dove Morning

The mourning dove, sometimes known as a turtle dove, is pretty common just about anywhere in the US.

They’re incredibly common around here, unlike my mysterious Black Phoebe or the heard-but-never-seen Northern Bobwhite Quail.

I love hearing their calls in the morning, and I usually see them on the wires out front, occasionally in a tree.

This one leapt out at me because, to the best of my recollection (and I’m pretty good about noticing and remembering little details like this), this is the first time I’ve ever seen one down on the ground feeding, and it’s definitely the first time I’ve seen one in the back yard where it’s normally hip deep in finches and mockingbirds.

Timing is everything, I guess.

Wait – cheese it, he’s seen us! Run for your life before it attacks, these things are viscous!!

(No, that’s not a typo. It’s cheap, late, late Saturday night humor.)

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Lizard Right Outside The Front Door

I think this may be the same big guy who was on the grass the other day when it was REALLY hot.

It’s hard to tell with the high contrast setting he’s chosen (wisely) to hid himself in. Bright sunlight was right there, but inches away were shadows and the bushes to hide under and in if threatened.

In retrospect, I’m amazed that he didn’t take off like a bat out of hell the second I opened the front door. This spot is only about five feet away from the porch mat, not even social distancing!

This close up the depth of field on the photo sucks, but I do love seeing the texture and spines on his scales where it is in focus, as well as those long, agile toes.

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Thoughts In Search Of A Message

Sometimes I guess I just need to write, knowing that there’s a message in there someplace, but being too tired, too close to the problems, too confused, too swept up in the chaos to find the optimal path to salvation. But one thing I got out of some training at both Annapolis and Pepperdine was a technique for dealing with such situations – MOVE. Not panic, not random motion, but get your ass in gear. Make your best choice, be ready to change direction if you get new or better information, but avoid paralyses  by analyses.

So let me ramble a bit and see if my muse can guide us toward an actual point…

One of the reasons that these thoughts are dwelling tonight is because do-or-die deadlines have been met and, for the moment at least (I’m well aware that this can change in a heartbeat) I’m not seeing any additional do-or-die deadlines on the immediate horizon. Meeting those deadlines has involved working a lot of hours right through what should have been a four-day holiday weekend, plus some 20+ hour days that had me up until 3AM or so this week – but the deadlines have been met. So I can breathe. And come up for air just a little bit.

It’s not like I have nothing to do. There are myriad other things that got pushed onto back burners, both at work, at home, at the hangar, and in my personal life. And it’s not like hitting those do-or-die deadline tasks was antagonistic or confrontational. Quite to the contrary. The people I’m working with now are supportive and wonderful. Making the move last October was the luckiest and best career move I’ve ever made. But in the end, by nature of the beast, my shoulders were where the burden fell (and will fall again in the future) and mine is the responsibility to get ‘er done.

The pressure and time requirements can be significant, the outcome uncertain, the anxiety levels high. But the feeling of accomplishment when it gets done? The kudos from people who I admire and enjoy working with? Those are significant as well.

Now, an ever so brief pause. Or at least a chance to ease it back out of overdrive and off of the afterburners for a couple of days.

There’s still this truly annoying, nagging, urgent voice in the back of my head that’s telling me that I have to optimize, and maximize, and be extremely efficient. How do I take advantage of this pause to catch up on the highest priority items off of those back burners? How do I gain an advantage and not waste the opportunity? When what I would truly like is the opportunity to waste away, to not think for a bit, to catch up on some recreational reading, to watch “Hamilton” again (I can’t believe I’ve only watched it once on Disney+!), to do something mindless for a couple of hours like crushing those cans in the garage for recycling, or take a walk with my camera (wearing a mask, socially distanced of course) to take pictures of things outside of my yard.

I think it’s a matter of balance. (I might have said something along these lines a few hundred times before, but I guess I need to remind myself.) Read a few chapters in that book that I’ve been neglecting for weeks, but also get caught up on some stuff for the hangar that’s past due. Watch “Hamilton” again, but also get those backups done and take a look at that hard disk that’s getting glitchy. Crush those cans, but also spend a few hours sorting and filing that increasingly threatening pile of loose documents in back of my desk that’s making it time-consuming and frustrating to find anything quickly.

Remember that there’s good in the world. The NFL season started tonight, and my beloved Chiefs pretty convincingly won the season opener. The three-minute long trailer for the new “Dune” came out and it’s freakin’ SPECTACULAR. I’ve got a big stack of new CD’s to burn and listen to, new music to sort through looking for new additions to my “best of” playlists.

Don’t despair. I know it’s so easy today – friends online let me know today of an acquaintance who lost her battle with depression. The fight is hard and there are days when we all wonder how much more we can take. I can’t be proud of the fact that I’ve yet to come that close to the end of my rope – I prefer to be grateful, knowing that darkest hour could be out there lurking somewhere.

Don’t forget. It’s just over a year ago that my dear friend Sandy passed away suddenly and totally unexpectedly. I’ve been thinking of her a lot this last week especially. I can talk to her in my head whenever I want, but I can’t get any answers. But for every “what if” question there are happy memories to offset the sorrow.

In summary, I guess the message for myself from this moment of reflection (remembering Tonio K.’s lyric from “American Love Affair, “No one’s let her take the time to think at all, much less think twice”) is to cut myself some slack, take some down time, but don’t take too much, and don’t forget to tell people that you love them. They may really, really need to hear it, and some day you may not get another chance.


But keep moving.

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Yet Another Baby Lizard

Between the pandemic, quarantine, working from home, and all of that, as I’ve noted before, there are a limited number of things to take pictures of or write about. Unless of course you want me to start ranting about politics, idiots, evil GOP Death Cults, or how QAnon folk need to be rounded up and given massive amounts of psychological help. And those topics, accompanied by massive amounts of swearing, are what Twitter is for!

This guy is bigger than some, smaller than others, but it’s his coloration and tail that make him easily identifiable among the dozen or so scurrying about the front sidewalk.

He’s a tan or khaki color, which I haven’t seen before.

His tail is also shorter and thicker than normal – compare it to some of the others from a couple days ago.

Like most of these new guys, he’s extremely skittish. Try to take a half step closer and he’s already 2/3 of the way under that bush. I’ll never catch him under there!

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Mama Or Papa Lizard On The Grass

This is probably the same (potentially) Mama or Papa Lizard that we saw on Saturday. It would be so much easier if they would wear name tags…

Same spot, over by the driveway and the bushes by the front door that all of the micro lizards are hanging out in. Well, those that are still alive.

What was strange was that it (he? she?) was on the grass, propped up like this. That’s a first, I’ve never seen one of them out on the grass except to possibly scurry across it toward the bushes or a tree for safety.

Especially because of the way it’s using all of those splayed out, long toes to stay up on top of the grass, I suspect this was because it was 117° F (and we know what the “F” stands for!) degrees.

They like the sun, but let’s get real. There are limits!!


Filed under Critters, Photography

Baby Lizards Getting Sun

There’s plenty of sun to be gotten – it was fortunately only up to about 102° today. I practically need a sweatshirt.

Out in the front yard, two of the new baby lizards were working on their tans.

This guy couldn’t decide if I was threatening enough to cause him to give up this toasty, warm spot.

He eventually spun around to face the bushes so he could make a quick escape if he had to, but I, of course, let him be.

This tinier guy was right outside the front door and spooked as soon as I opened it.

I didn’t move other than to close the door behind me (an A/C 76° inside, a lizard-friendly 100+° outside, you do the math) and take pictures.

That was okay for a minute, but as soon as I tried to lean down to get closer or squat to get to his level, he went from zero to Warp Factor 8 in about two seconds.

Probably a good move – I’ve seen the remnants of at least two of his siblings out there already. Between the crows, hawks, mockingbirds, and whatever omnivorous predators are on the prowl, there are slow lizards and there are old lizards, but there are no old, slow lizards.

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