June 2006

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

5 PM - When they worked on my car yesterday they found two huge rats nests in the battery compartment and the air filter.  They chew on the wires and cause serious damage so I've got to get serious again about mouse patrol.

The final two kittens left today for their new home. I was really surprised at the number of people who wanted to adopt. I'll miss them but I still have Blackie for company. He sleeps in a basket on the top of some shelves I built next to my desk.  Every now and then he comes down to visit and sits on the extension that goes directly over my desk. (see photo) And he still wakes me up every morning a 5 AM.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

4 PM - I was up early to get the truck in for its 18,000 mile service. The most exciting part of that transaction was when one of the people in the waiting room didn't know how to operate the free coffee dispenser and emptied the entire cauldron on the floor. He couldn't speak English but for some reason picked me out of the crowd as the "go to guy" for help.  So I'm there fumbling around with the thing trying to stop the flow while he sits down and tries to look innocent.  The station staff finally showed up and started acting pissy about the mess and of course assumed I was the knuckle-head who created it.  Eh, I just sat down. Innocent bystander convicted with circumstantial evidence.

The squirrels are getting into the chicken coop again and stealing feed and eggs.  I have live traps set though my backup plan is to just try and shoot them. When I say try, I'm referring to my poor marksmanship.  I tend to lack patience and go for the quick long shot that usually misses.  I do much better when going for the tricky shots that force me to take the time to aim carefully. Big game hunting on the ranch.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

9 AM - 90 degrees though no lightening yet to knock out the power like yesterday.  Cath & I rushed out to get our walk out of the way and now we'll be in the house for the day.  Found two more rattlers that I trapped and hauled off to a safe place along with another ground squirrel.  Of course we're running the air conditioner a lot these days and I'm trying to maintain the temp at 78.

Finished reading The Mayflower and have moved on to The world is Flat by Thomas Friedman.  I may bail on that one however.  The author seems genuinely astounded by all the technological changes that have made the world smaller.  To me, his discussions are common knowledge. I've been watching these events play out over the last 30 years and it just sounds like old news. Yep, multi-national corporations are using the internet to teleconference and outsource. Big whoop! Where have you been Friedman?

On the other hand, I know some people in my age bracket who have never used a computer and could care less about e-mail. They don't own a cell phone and are proud about it.  I suppose they're the ones who should read The World is Flat. Of course they'll never get the book because it's too much trouble to hook up their horse and buggy and ride to town.

Oh, not that anyone would (or should) care, I cut off all my hair. Feels good.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

8:30 AM - Lightening strikes in the area.  We've lost all power & it may be off for the day.  I'm on battery power so I'm shutting everything down but the scanner.  Have a good day everyone.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

1 PM - Not a lot going on.  I did a 30 minute walk and a little watering before it got too hot. A dove flew into the window and broke its neck so I'm trying to figure out a way to keep that from happening again.  We have one new peacock chick and I'm still tending the two kittens that should be adopted on the 29th.

I've been reading The Mayflower which obviously describes the pilgrim settlement of Plymouth in 1620. I guess most people who have studied the period know that politics, hate, envy and religious bigotry were the driving force in that community.  The Indians were also ruthless when it came to undercutting other tribes in political power struggles. It's impossible to find a "good guy" in this cast of characters. As always, money and greed topped the list as the principal influence on social behavior. Yes, it sounds exactly like the state of affairs in today's government. Some times it's too easy being cynical. I need a more challenging philosophy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

7 AM - The solstice was at 6:26 this morning which means the days are getting shorter and winter is on the way.  Boy, I can almost smell autumn in the air.

5 PM - Temperatures over the last few days have been in the upper 80's and now the forecast is calling for a heat wave over the next week. There's not much we can do under conditions like that and outside activity just shuts down.  The newly planted trees struggle and even watering doesn't help much.  The transpiration rate is so high that leaves still wilt even when the roots are getting water.  Catherine has lost several maples that haven't been able to establish root zones that can provide moisture to the leaves during the blistering heat.  This coming week could prove disastrous for her orchard.

June through October are our hot dry months. By hot I mean everyday normal temperatures in the upper 80's . (That doesn't count the heat waves like the one that is predicted to start tomorrow).  By dry, I mean it's highly likely that we won't get a drop of moisture for the next 5 months. On the rare occasion that we have a summer thunderstorm, the rain usually amounts to nothing more than a few sparse drops that raise a little dust when they splatter on the ground.

We're going into survival mode which means keeping the water tank full for fighting fires and watering only the un-established new plantings.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

7 AM - We have two kittens left out of the original 8.  Thanks to all those who came through for us and adopted. And the two that are left aren't exactly rejects because we have a tentative home lined up for them on the 28th.  I am however, concerned about the mother who we haven't seen for a couple of weeks.  I've arranged to have her spayed through the Feral Cat Coalition though the logistics of trapping her will require some careful preparation.

2 PM - What's wrong with this picture? The lighting? The lack of action and boring subject matter? No, it's that I'm wearing socks with sandals!  Bad, bad!!! (At least according to my nephew and the fashion police.)

Before I retired I always had student workers who would tell me when I made a dress code faux pas. (Once I wore red shoelaces with my hiking boots and was nearly laughed out of the office. And there was the time I got dressed in the dark and didn't notice that I wore different types of boots on my right and left feet. Maybe that's more of an example of encroaching senility.)  Anyway, apparently wearing sandals with socks is the nerdiest thing you can do. This is no small thing and it gets even more complicated.  You can wear socks and sandals but only if you're wearing long pants. If you wear sandals, socks and shorts, you will be scorned, mocked and ostracized from all the cool fraternities.

I'm not alone though.  Here is a link to a website that posts hundreds of photos of nerds like myself who refuse to go sock-less when wearing sandals. Prepare to scroll down a mile, they're all on the first page. (This is important stuff) http://www.sandalandsoxer.co.uk/home.htm

Sunday, June 18, 2006

10 AM - This four day back-ache is pissing me off. Feeling cranky Rob?  Yep.  With every step I knock something on the floor that I have to bend over and pick up. On every other step, I get a sticker in my sock and I have to squat down and fish around to pull it out.

And it isn't just the bending over. The gnats are here and every trip outside is a "bug in your face" ordeal.  And they're not dumb.  The second your hands are full, they buzz in for the kill and surround your face getting in your nose, mouth and ears.  The flies stay just out of swatting distance and focus on attacking the back of your neck, elbows and knees.  From the sound of it you probably think I live at the city dump. (They're from the lush moist vegetation that hasn't dried out yet.)

And while I'm at it, what's the deal with Charles Osgood and that goofy bow tie? Man, I was never a school yard bully but I swear, if I saw him at a bus stop I'd knock him down and take his lunch money.

And speaking of CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, they did an article about men who use half a dozen types of beauty cream every morning when they shave.  No wonder the world hates America!!!!!!!!  I hate America when I see crap like that.

More reasons to hate America?? How about American Idle? Good god, everybody please stop talking about it.  Don't you know Rock & Roll was invented so we wouldn't have to listen to crap like that?

How about some people I wish would just go away. - Britney Spears, Shawn Penn, Paris Hilton, Tom Cruise, Oprah, Madonna, Brad Pitt, Mel Gibson....

Thursday, June 15, 2006

9:30 AM - Yesterday while I was crawling around on the floor playing with kittens, something in my lower back snapped.  So today and probably for a couple of days, Ill be hobbling around like an invalid.

Gee, for some reason I'm not being overwhelmed with requests for kittens.  What's the matter people, don't you know it's your patriotic duty to fly the flag and adopt stray kittens?  See today's photo.

I'm having trouble finding reading material and since there's nothing on TV these days I've been looking for light reading. I finished The Husband by Dean Koontz and The Cell by Stephen King in two days so maybe I've been going too light.  I may get my newest order from Amazon today which will be The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century and Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War.  These might hold me a while and yes, The Daily Show with John Stewart is a major source for my selections of reading material. Man I really hate it when he wastes time interviewing ditzy movie stars. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

6 AM - Thanks to advice from Jamie Campbell from the Feral Cat Coalition we've moved the kittens out of the barn and into the house.  I hesitated to take them from the mother so early but apparently it's more important to get them used to humans at an early age.  When I was a kennel worker in college I learned how hard it is to deal with wild teenage cats.

These kitties are going to go fast so get your order in now. I deliver!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

11 AM - If it was one kitten I wouldn't have a problem but trying to deal with 8 is really hard.  I have them in the barn stall where they were born and I'm giving them food and milk which they seem to be eating.  I'm leaving the door open so the mother can get in though I haven't seen her for a couple of days.  When I can, I hold them to try to get them used to people though they prefer to hide if they can get away.  This is going to be a long process.

 Monday, June 12, 2006

6 AM - Blast! Catherine found 8 kittens hiding under some stuff in one of the barn stalls.  Of course they belong to the feral cat we've seen on the property and she is still nursing them.  The mother won't let us get near her but we can touch the kittens who are about 4 weeks old.  They're right at that stage when they are learning to fear people and I'm afraid we have to intervene soon before they go completely wild.  I just don't know how to proceed.

4 PM - Dang it all and jeez lou-eze!!  People who dump cats should be strangled.  People who don't neuter their pets are lazy assholes.

Ya know, I�m mindful of the emotional ups and downs that living can cause and I try to recognize the feelings that can suck me to the extreme in either direction. �Take the middle road grasshopper.�  I avoid situations that will obviously lead to suffering but of course I know that in life, circumstances will come up that can�t be avoided. And when you see road-kill on the way to work, you can't let it ruin your day.

My "road-kill for the day" probably started two feline generations ago when someone dumped  a cat in the country because they were too lazy to deal with the humane society.  That cat had a short miserable life but not short enough to prevent it from giving birth to the feral cat that prowls our property.  In this neck of the woods, cats don't live long what with predators, starvation and disease. I've caught glimpses of her struggling to survive and now she's delivered 8 kittens that don't have a chance without human intervention. Uhm...I guess that's where I come in.

Would you like to know how to tame feral kittens!!! Here's the site: http://www.feralcat.com/taming.html

Friday, June 9, 2006

1 PM - If the neighbors suspected I was a little odd, the flag of the day should convince them.  I raised it in honor of the multinational corporations who are trying to hijack the internet for selfish profit. I'm talking about internet neutrality and the prospect of losing its true egalitarian format.

Details at: http://www.itsournet.org/How_This_Affects.php

I made a trip to town and picked up the parts I needed to finish irrigating Catherine's maple grove.  The gnats and flies are out in force today and with this headache I don't have the energy to do battle. I'm headed for bed.

8 PM - Finished the day by feeding the chickens and peacocks some cat food (it's their favorite food) and releasing a 1 foot rattler on a desolate section out Boulder Creek road.  She was a docile snake and didn't even rattle or strike.  Using the catch and release method for snake control is a little more trouble but satisfying. One more example of me trying to be one of those smug, self satisfied tree hugger types. 

And speaking of neighborhood crackpots, I may have solidified that position by leaving my Jolly Roger flag up all day.  Next week I'll be flying the international Buddhist flag which should really baffle the locals.

I'm grateful that at least the headache is gone. Normally my migraines will hang on for 24 hours but this one let me off the hook early.  And I've been reading the new Dean Koontz book, The Husband.  An Escapist thriller type book that I'm finishing way too quickly.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

6:00 AM - I got the new valve installed with a minimal of problems. No leaks. This means I can test the fire pump without using special measures to turn on the water from the tank.  Running a pump without water is a bad idea and another reason I wanted the water valve to operate reliably and easily.

But first, I'm going to work on installing irrigation in Catherine's Maple orchard.  She's invested a lot of hard work and money on 15 small maple trees and if anything goes wrong, I don't want it to be from lack of water.  We plan to make a fortune by being the only west coast supplier of fresh maple syrup. Shhh, don't tell anyone.

9 AM - I got all the pipe laid out and glued and now I'll start shopping for the nozzles.  I'll need to go with some sort of low flow type of emitter though with our well water I have to choose wisely. Even with filters we still have a problem with grit building up and plugging the outlets.  Drip irrigation is not a low maintenance form of watering.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

3:30 PM - This is the 4" gate valve that I have to install on the fire hydrant.  At $117 dollars I got a good deal but it's replacing a $225 dollar ball valve that should have done better.  The old valve is freezing in the closed position and I actually broke the handle trying to get it opened.  When the fire comes I can't be fooling around with fussy valves so I'll be doing the replacement tomorrow.

Oh yeah, I opened the bag where I was storing my 150 feet of 1-1/4" fire hose and found that they had started to mildew and rot.  Man it gets frustrating when equipment that you're not even using falls apart .  I thought I was being smart when I stored them in a way that the rats wouldn't get at them.

Ok, Ok. The hair. Yep this is the worst time of year for long hair and yesterday I almost gave myself a buzz.  It itches and gets in my face and it's hot and I have to wash it every night.  Don't know what I would tell Catherine if she came home and I was hairless. She is pro long hair.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

11 AM - I just finished 3 hours on the weed trimmer.  The day started cloudy and relatively cool so I jumped on the thing and got quite a bit done.  Because of the fire danger, certain areas have high priority and need to get done first.  We trim 5'  along every access road and of course trimming weeds away from the house is important.  Dang that was a lot of work, I need a nap.

2 PM - Flag waving makes me a little uncomfortable.  For some reason America has a lot of issues with the flag and now people are talking about amending the constitution to make flag burning against the law. It seems like there are more important things that congress should be doing.

I don't like the fact that right wing extremists have hijacked the flag and made it their icon of patriotism. To me, they've made the act of displaying the flag seem jingoistic.  With that said, today I installed our flagpole on the upper northwest end of the property.  It's a windy spot and I used 240 lbs of cement to secure the base into the ground.

In 1960, my brother, sister and I were beachcombing along Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island when we found a longboat oar that had washed up onto the shore.  Longboats aren't used any more but they were large and had crews of 10 who manned the 20 ft oars.  My father was inspired and he converted the oar into a flagpole that has flown the flag at our family home for the last forty-six years.  I've decided to carry on the tradition and the flag I ordered should be delivered this week.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

8:30 AM - Record heat.  It's 8:30 and already 85 degrees.  I did my trail walk, checked the chickens for water, started painting the flagpole and pulled the fire pump out of the barn so I can haul it up to the tank later.  I'll probably be holed up inside for the rest of the day till late this afternoon.

9 PM - Having 90 cool minutes at the end of the day is really frustrating. (By cool I mean 80 degrees.)  I've spent the day thinking about all the  odd little chores I need to do and then I try to cram them in during those last minutes just before dark.  I try to do too much and instead screw things up and frustrate myself.

My main accomplishment today was getting the fire pump out of the barn and dropped off by the hydrant.  I checked the oil and added gas and sometime this week I'll hook it up and make sure that it pumps water.  In my old job I worked with pumps a lot and they always seem to break.  Last year a wood-rat had stored her acorns in the 3" intake hose and I didn't figure it out till I had sucked them into the pump and plugged the thing up.  I took precautions this year but who knows what new problem will arise.

And Monday, tomorrow is the official start of fire season in San Diego County.

Friday, June 2, 2006

5:30 AM - "Snide cretin who memorizes labels" was how one person described me in response to my rant below.  Actually I was expecting much worse so I probably got off easy.  I'm not trying to turn this journal into a public forum though it did feel good to blow off some steam.  It's an easy topic that didn't require a lot of deep analysis before throwing opinions around.  A rant is just a rant and not a well reasoned argument. And yep, I'm no William F. Buckley Jr.

9 AM - 80 degrees and they're calling for it to get close to 90 today.  I made a quick run with the weed trimmer and cleaned up the area around the fire hydrant.  Gotta have quick access to that thing.  I'm also collecting the material I'll need to put some irrigation around Cath's orchard.  She'll be visiting her sister for two weeks and she's already lost two trees from lack of water.  I'll be holding down the fort taking care of the chickens and cat.  If this heat keeps up I won't be getting much time outside.

5:30 PM - We made it to 90 degrees today and it's still 85 right now.  I took a ride into Descanso and got some chicken feed (scratch) and I'm going to try to wean the turkeys onto it instead of feeding them sunflower seeds.  They'll probably revolt; heck, the chickens don't even like chicken feed.

And I saw another Golden Eagle along Boulder Creek Road though of course, I didn't have my camera with me.  (Or anyone to witness it) It looked like the one in this photo only more brown. As usual it was eating road kill and I got really close this time.  To the local skeptics, no it was not the common California Vulture and no, it was not a hawk.