Door Dragon

Today the door dragon was on guard.

Can you see him? I mean, the clouds were gorgeous just before sunset, the view over Castle Peak as lovely as ever. But there’s a dragon there.

So he’s a relatively tiny dragon, but he’s on guard nonetheless! He’s not just there for the warm sidewalk and near infrared radiation.

He’s also there to eat! He doesn’t do this for his health. The presence of hawks, mockingbirds, and various other predators have a bearing on the odds of surviving the afternoon out there somewhat in the open. But right there along the far edge of the sidewalk… See it? Dinner on the hoof!

Even under the best of times there are ants everywhere here. With it as dry as it is now, the worst drought in decades and threatening to become the worst in recorded history, the ants are everywhere.

And while that sucks for us, it’s a feast for the fence lizards! So let him sploot out there on the porch, I won’t bother him. Let him eat his fill of ants any day.

Just watch out for the hawks. And the mockingbirds. And all of the other critters higher up on the food chain in that whole circle-of-life thing.


Filed under Critters, Photography

Another Saturday Night, Another Play At The Ahmanson

Tonight we get “Dear Evan Hansen.”

“Oklahoma” is for September at the end of the season. “Prom” is next month.

Gotta admit, these theater & concert subscriptions are pretty cool!

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Flash Fiction Revival?

Those of you who are new-ish around here might not be aware that, way back in 2013 when this site got started, one of the key features was a more-or-less weekly post centered around Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction challenge.

For my part, I was out of work for the first time in my life, the job market sucked, I was over 50, and I had worked at the same company for over 27 years. That’s four strikes in the job hunting game. In order to keep active and somewhat sane, as well as “networking” and keeping my skillset sharp, I took on two critical tasks. First, I became the Finance Office for the CAF SoCal Wing, giving me continuing hands-on accounting experience. Secondly, I started this site to be writing and creative every day.

Chuck Wendig was in the early stages of his now brilliant writing career (his “Wanderers” from two years ago was amazing, and the sequel “Wayward” comes out November 15th, so get “Wanderers” now, read it, you can thank me later, and you’ll be ready to get “Wayward” in November – you’re welcome!) and had a great website talking about writing and Pennsyltucky heirloom apples and horror and stuff (it’s still there!) and once a week he would give us a prompt and an assignment. No prizes, no “winning,” no real contest, no professional editing or advice from Chuck, just something you could try to do for your own practice, honing your writing skills, publishing on your own site and then posting a link in the thread on his site. Folks there would read and comment on other folks’ stories, some folks there would read your story on your site and make comments. I remember the whole process very fondly.

The whole thing fell by the wayside as Chuck’s career took off spectacularly and he needed to spend time, you know, writing for a living and paying the bills. But in today’s post Chuck mentioned in passing that he’s musing about restarting that Flash Fiction challenge. Would anyone be interested?

Well, DUH!!

If it happens, it happens. I’ll be more than willing to dive back into that practice writing on Day One of its revival should that come to pass.

But today, prompted by that, I was curious how eight to nine years of distance would color those snippets. So I went back and read a half dozen…

I realy and truly enjoyed reading every one of them. Several I didn’t remember writing at all, but they’re pretty good. None of them are going to win any Pulitzers, but they were coherent, well structured, escaped from being too trite or cliched, and the words flowed well. One where I had deliberately written a real sexist asshole as the first person character (the prompt for the week was a shirtless man with a pair of automotive jumper cables on his nipples) was still (in my opinion) humorous and didn’t suck at all. In fact, of the six that I sampled at random, none of them was a real stinker. (This one was also really intriguing.)

A lot of it was stuff that I normally wouldn’t have ever have tried. Write a story in ten short chapters. Write a story in the voice of a religous devotee. Write a story from the point of view of someone who doesn’t speak the language. And so on.

My favorite, which we did three or four times? Week one (W1) write 200 words, not 1,000. Week two, everyone take a W1 story from someone else and add 200 words to it. Someone may or may not take yours, you take anyone’s you want, so some may not get taken, some may get taken by multiple other folks. Week 3 we do this again, adding another 200 words to someone’s W1+W2 story fragment. Ditto W4, and W5, ending up with 1,000 words or so in five segments done by five different authors, to tell one story, but without any active collaboration. It’s additive, not collaborative.

Challenging. Fun!

I’ll wait and hope. In the meantime, if you’re interested and missed any of my stories the first time around, they were all published here. Just do a search for “Flash Fiction.”


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Skyscapes – July 28th

Some days you don’t even have five minutes to take a break and go looking for birds or lizards or flowers or anything interesting.

That doesn’t mean that the interesting or unusual or beautiful things aren’t there. It just means that you have to take advantage of the opportunities you have.

Maybe, for example, before your busy, busy, busy work-from-home day starts and you’ve just scraped your sleepy butt out of bed you remember it’s Thursday. Which in turn means that before you jump in the shower you have to slip on sweats (so as not to upset the neighbors) and go out to unlock the back gate so the gardeners can come in. Sixty seconds, tops. In a hurry, on the run. But wait…

Look at those clouds!

…2…3…4…and okay, NOW hustle back in to that shower and breakfast and emails and Excel files and reconciliations and Zoom meetings and computer repairs and phone calls.

It’s a little bit better because you stopped for five seconds and looked at the clouds.

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Filed under Photography, Weather

Night Clouds

Scattered clouds tonight, no moon, just the lights from the city reflecting off of them.

Scorpius to the south, a night where it finally cooled off a bit.

A bit of breeze, the sound of mockingbirds and coyotes through the canyons.

The kind of night when it might be nice to lay on the grass and watch the sky. But the megadrought in the US Southwest is in its fifth year? Seventh? Tenth? And with the severe water restrictions in place the grass has died, turned brown, cruncy, and pokey. Maybe let’s just stand here on the sidewalk for a few instead.

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Weather

A Nihilistic Take On Advertising – BMW

Here’s a new BMW “Summer Sales Event” ad that’s been playing on TV for a couple of weeks. It’s the one where a couple of guys are playing with a virtual reality headset and one of the guys and a woman take off for a ride in the BMW while the other guy is out of touch with reality, playing his game. If you haven’t seen it or don’t recognize it, take a look.

Now – who are these people? What’s their relationship?

The article I’ve tagged says they’re roommates. Okay. Maybe. If you insist.

I’m calling bullshit.

Okay, so I’m that guy. But really, what did you think. Three random roomates, two guys and a girl?

The first time I saw this I instantly saw a completely different scenario. I see the glint in that woman’s eye and the smirk on the face of the guy she takes off with. I see the confusion and betrayal on the face of the VR guy when he finally takes off the headset and finds himself alone. I see the dog trying to hide, because he knows exactly what’s going down!

Our gorgeous young femme fatale isn’t just a roommate! My money says she’s the girlfriend/fiance/wife of the dude wearing the AR headset. But he’s too busy worrying about his virtual reality to be paying enough attention to her in real reality. So when he gets goggled up, she and the boyfriend’s friend are going to go have a good time.

Nailed it!

I will not be taking questions at this time.

Now let’s talk about why someone who can afford one of those BMWs needs to have a roommate instead of just owning a home free and clear…

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Filed under Silly Shit

Pressure Test To Failure

Water. Heat. Steam. Biological chemistry. Seven small test subjects.

Will they survive the ordeal intact? Or will one fail?

Will it be quiet and subtle, a tiny crack, a weakening of structural inegrity but not a failure?

Or will it be spectacular, explosive, creating a mess and leaving an end result only vaguely resembling the desired result?

Some days you are one with the egg.

Intact, cracked, or exploded, do your best to do your best and know that at the end of the day, when the pressure goes away, know that you’re worthy and valuable, no matter the result.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Photography

I Found The Secret Base

Some comings and goings over Friday and Saturday evenings had me wondering. The good news is that I’m seeing an influx of hummingbirds.

In the past we’ve once seen a hummingbird nest out where I could see it. Normally they’re off in the hedges and since they’re very small, they’re very hard to find. But while looking at the bougainvellea over by that side of the house, I noticed a lot of hummingbird activity where there isn’t a feeder.

So this morning I went out to take a look, and there’s something in there in the vines behind this drain pipe. Could it be another hummingbird nest?

It’s really hard to see through the vine leaves, so I took another half step closer to get this picture…

…and in seconds I had at least two hummingbirds buzzing my head like a couple of F-18’s driving off a Russian destroyer that gets too close to their aircraft carrier.

Hmmm. I’m thinking that’s a confirmation that there’s a hummingbird next in their. Since I’m not willing to have an angry, energetic, viscious humminbird impaled in my ear like an errant lawn dart, we’re not going to do anything further to confirm that and just take it as a given.

Maybe I’ll put up another feeder over there as a peace offering.

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Filed under Birds, Critters, Photography

Non-Splooting Lizard

I found this handsome specimin out in the yard today.

He loves being on this bit of wooden trim or edging. It’s got enough sun to keep him warm, but when it’s really hot it’s also got some shade.

I’ve seen him before a number of times, and I often stop to talk to him. I don’t know that it’s helped in getting him used to my presence, but he does seem relatively calm and allows me to get within maybe seven or eight feet, sometimes less.

He even lets me move around and shift angles without fleeing.

The tricky part today was getting down on my knees near him, which I haven’t done before. He even didn’t freak out when I went through the gyrations and exertions necessary to stand back up while holding the camera, shooting pictures, and trying desperately to not lose my balance and fall on top of him.

The detail and colored spots on his back are spectacular and beautiful!

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Filed under Critters, Photography


Some days you get a teeny, tiny bit of knowledge or trivia and it’s enough to declare victory and quit for the today.

Today’s one of those days.

A few days ago I posted about how the squirrels in our back yard will lie on the concrete porch, spread eagled. Long-time reader & contributor & author & purveyor of her own site Jemima Pett commented that it was to cool off in the heat.

This evening I ran across a random tweet which I might normally ignore. But it had a picture of a squirrel, spread eagled, and a local television/news station article about this very phenomenon.

It’s called “splooting!” (I think the “!” is optional, but hey, with a goofy looking squirrel layed out on the pavement like a bearskin rug and a word like that to describe it, how could anyone not include the exclamation point?)

I was tempted to leave well enough alone and just go with the silly, funny word, but decided to check other sources. I was afraid that I might find that this was a made-up thing from that Texas television station. Then I would have to quickly find something else to write tonight, or at least a different spin.

But, no! It really is a term, particularly in reference to dogs. (Google an image search for “splooting puppies.” You can thank me later.) I remember our Lucky Puppy and Jessie doing it from time to time. But lots of critters sploot.

Now you know!


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Filed under Critters, Silly Shit