March 2006

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Friday, March 31, 2006

7 PM - Kind of a dis-jointed day and I'm late at making an entry here. Started out by going to Home Depot which is always a hassle unless  you get there before 7 AM.  Fridays are pretty bad and don't even think of going there on Saturday.  I picked up some plumbing supplies and rat traps. 

Our barn is being over-run by rodents; so much so that they're jumping into the traps without bait.  Today's prisoner was really un-happy about his situation though it ended well.  I let him out in a secluded, wooded area with water near by.  A case can be made against re-locating trapped varmints but I'll leave that for another day.

Spent some time researching ticks but didn't come up with much useful information.  I started getting a little pissed when I was reading a tick article by a guy in a backward eastern state and he spent a bunch of time  taking cheap shots at people who live in California.  I ran into his type when I was backpacking around Europe and people found out I was from California. Besides hating Americans in general, they really hated Californian's in particular.  Eh, I must be tired if this is getting to me... (OK, OK, "backward eastern state was a cheap shot too, I just couldn't resist. If you had read the article you'd know what I mean).

Thursday, March 30, 2006

7 AM - I just heard that this weekend we go back on daylight savings.  That really caught me off guard but I'm grateful just the same. It means more time at the end of the day to do outside stuff and more time at the beginning to get the bird feeders re-loaded.  As it is, the birds are always up and waiting for me to get out there with their breakfast.  The turkeys are becoming especially trained and they come running when they hear me out there filling the feeders. I don't think that is such a good idea and I shouldn't be teaching wild animals to act like barnyard chickens.  Have to re-think this.

Still working a lot on this site and added pages on the Deer Feeder  I'm putting in and a description of our House.  Most people in the US will be flabbergasted to hear that I'm trying to attract deer to the property. Everywhere else they're having a population explosion.

4 PM - When we can and if they cooperate, we take them alive and let them go in a remote location.  This little guy went in a trap that didn't even have any bait.  I set it up in the barn along the side of a wall where they travel back and forth. This is going to be a bad year because of the mild winter and lack of predators. The ground squirrels are already running amuck.

I started out on my walk this morning and then remembered that for some reason we had no water at the old house.  We discovered it last night and shut everything down so I could check the pipes during the day.  On that section of the property we have two acres of pipe that run in all directions and feed the old house and hose bibs that are spread out over the area. We have a devise on the well that shuts down the pump when it detects too much flow from a break but we only know something's wrong when the water stops. Today, after I turned the pump back on I never did find any breaks.  It's a mystery and I hate it when that happens. It means something went wrong and probably needs to be fixed, but I don't know what it is.  Something that could cause even more damage if not detected early.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

6 PM - The rain finally came though we only got a half an inch instead of the possible 4" they predicted. It was a cool cloudy day and I spent most of it inside fooling around with this website. Placing the Google ads on this site has become real entertainment.  For now it's replaced my other usual past time which was playing the solitaire game "Batsford" over and over.  I started paying more attention to the Google company a few weeks ago when Nightline did a story on the two CEO's. They've been criticized for being arrogant because they used the motto "Do no evil" when referring to their company but I kind of liked their attitude.  I suppose any day they'll be in the news for crimes against humanity but till then, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Any income the ads generate is in the realm of pennies but I do enjoy it when they relate to the content I've put on my pages.  First off, I don't choose the ads; they are all generated by Google and based on key words a computer robot finds when it scans the pages.  When it works, the ads can be quite relevant and useful though I'm not able to click on them myself.  Google frowns on self clicked ads and they will freeze the accounts of any web owner caught doing it. Anyway, from what I've read, the web owners who make money are the ones with hundreds of pages and thousands of visitors a day.  Not likely to happen here when all I write about are birdhouses.    (Oh by the way, I'm not making hints here. If you feel like clicking, do the public service ads.)

The weather cleared up a little at the end of the day and Catherine helped out by planting more wildflowers on our decomposed granite soil.  She's taking it one step further by covering the area with screen to keep the birds and turkeys out.  And speaking of birdhouses, we've had no takers yet in the one I just placed. Actually, none of the neighbors have had much luck with theirs either. The real estate bubble must have broke.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

5 PM - Good news from Factory Expo where we bought our manufactured home.  They paid for all the damage that was caused by the leaking roof.  I've got to hand it to those people, they've been really good to us. Considering the complexity of the transaction and the technicalities of shipping a home from one state to another, we ended up satisfied customers.  In my experience, something like that doesn't happen very often so I wanted to to give them a plug and post a link to their site.

We've been waiting for a storm that was due but so far, the clouds are parting and the sun even came out.  I've been watching the satellite images showing all the clouds speed to the north of us and I wonder why the weather service doesn't notice that as well.  Sometimes I think those people don't have windows in their office.



Monday, March 27, 2006

4 PM - It's spring and I'm obsessing about our local wildlife. This month it's birds and next month I'll only be talking about the deer feeder I just ordered. After that will be brush clearing month and I'll be discussing my weed trimmer ad nauseam. I guess I'm posting this as a warning.

I started the day off by fooling around with a new birdhouse and studying my new Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds. I don't think I'll ever be well versed on the bird names but I am learning some of the basics.  Did some research and added a page to this website about where to put birdhouses.

I'm still trying to amend the soil around the house so that it can sustain plant life.  The decomposed granite is rock hard when it dries and nothing has a chance to get established.  The grass and native flowers I planted a week ago are starting to come up but those are only temporary. I've got to change the sand to soil and being a licensed landscape contractor, I know how to do it.  It's just that after spending so much $ getting the house put together, I'm balking at any further expense.

Today I dumped a layer of oak leaves on the area and then mixed in a load of soil that I collected from the pasture.  I should rototill  this in but I'm holding off till later in the season when I'll get serious with bales of compost.



Saturday, March 25, 2006

8 PM - Today we went out with a small group of people from the Sierra Club to visit Sunshine Mountain which is about 7 miles north of our place. Nice people and a beautiful day for a hike.  The others were in their 30's and Cath and I are, well... twice that.  The hike was 4.5 miles and we did find our selves lagging a little behind the rest.  They were a polite group and held back a bit to let us stay up.

Cindy, the group leader and Nathan, a nearby neighbor, have an amazing amount of knowledge about the area.  They know this part of the county like the back of their hand and can name every peak, valley and stream without resorting to a map.  Nathan brought us a beautiful 1 gallon Tecate Cyprus that he raised from seed. It'll be going in the ground tomorrow.

We bumped into several groups of turkey hunters while we wondered around.  Hard to imagine that these people are hunting the birds that walk through our property every day.  Cath and I were sitting by a small pond and we could hear the hunters using their turkey calls to try to entice the birds in.  Not sure if the turkeys could tell the difference but we sure could.  I've got no problem with the turkey hunters but we did worry that we could be mistaken for one of the birds.

Friday, March 24, 2006

11 AM - Yeha the new bird feeder cam! OK, I'm easily pleased.  Anyway, because all the predators left during the fire and never came back, we've had a population explosion of rats, mice and ground squirrels.  The squirrels are especially troublesome because they burrow under foundations, eat garden vegetables, raid the chicken coop and steal weeks worth of food in a matter of hours.  Since they do the same to the bird feeder, I purchased this special squirrel proof model.  When the squirrel puts weight on the seed perch, the door closes and shuts off the supply of food.

On our morning walk I was talking to our neighbor Gail and getting advise on how to put out a bird house. She gave me a run down of all the problems nesting birds have and I was kind of discouraged.  Without proper precautions baby birds are susceptible to all sorts of predators like snakes, raccoons, rats, mice, other birds and even insects.  In our area, it can get so hot that the baby birds can die from the heat if the house is not properly placed.  I guess I'm not going to just throw up the $5 bird house I got from Wal-Mart. Gotta think about this.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

5 PM - I really didn't wake up till about 2 PM today when the headache went away. Now at 5 I'm cleaning house, drinking coffee and ready to start the day.  Well actually, I was up at 4:30 AM talking to a guy in India about why my internet connection wasn't working.  Direcway farmed out their tech support to one of those Indian companies you might have seen on 60 Minutes.  As you know, India has millions of highly educated men and woman who are hungry for work and can speak passable English. When you call up tech support at Gateway Computers or Dell, chances are you'll be speaking to Amulya Anad in Bangalore. He'll call himself Bob.

The wind woke me up and my weather station data told me that we were having 35 mph gusts that had started at 1:30 AM.  The data also confirmed that I lost my internet connection at about 1:30 AM.  Not a good sign because I remember how difficult it was for the highly trained technician to get the satellite dish pointed perfectly.  It's gotta be perfect and if he had trouble, I don't have a chance at doing it myself.  If the wind tweaked the dish, I'm out of luck until the technician can make it out here for the $200 service call.

On the phone, Bob wasn't optimistic either. His English was fair but I still had to have him repeat many of the directions he was reading from his prepared script.  Together we walked through the generic equipment checks until he finally asked me to unplug and switch the two coax cables that come from the dish to the modem. Still no luck until I put them back into their original connectors and suddenly all the lights on the modem lit up.   Even Bob was surprised. He said that the wind must have built up static electricity in the modem and it was released when we crossed the wires.  He said it was the first time he had had someone try that technique and he was going to add it to his repertoire from now on. Yay for Bob.

FYI � In Hindu, Amulya Anad means Priceless Bliss.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

4:50 AM - Today I'll be servicing the weather station. It runs on 1 lithium battery and 2 nicads which need to be replaced every two years or so.  They recommend that you do it on a sunny morning so the solar panel will have a day to "top off" the nicads.  Too bad they don't stipulate that it be a warm day.  It's 29 degrees out there!

9 AM - It took exactly one hour to change the batteries in the weather station.  I can tell by looking at the data on the computer and seeing how long it was down.  The  old batteries were still good and would probably have lasted for many more months. The solar panel had kept the nicads charged to just over marginal for over a year. Good enough.  

The lithium transmitter battery was readily accessible but the nicads are buried deep in the  fan section of the station.  Had to take the whole thing apart and not drop the screws while balancing on tipsy rocks.  At least this should hold me for a couple of years.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

8 AM - I was up at 3AM this morning staring at the ceiling, literally.  The predicted rain had arrived and we were getting a steady soaking that finally amounted to .41 inches.  Not a gully washer but it was enough in that short period to give a good test of our most recent attempt at roof repair.  It seems to have worked and I've had no more drips in my office ceiling, yet.  I did find another drip at a roof flashing that will be very easy to patch and I'll probably do that later today when things dry up a little.  For now I'm sick of talking about this so from now on, no news is good news.

Later I may take a drive out on Boulder Creek road to look for  some Golden Eagles that I think I saw the other day.  A neighbor  also had an unconfirmed sighting in the same area and the circumstantial evidence is mounting. Actually, San Diego County is the year round home of Golden Eagles though they are so few that we know the exact number. 208 mated pairs.  Our area (Cuyamaca) is described as a suitable habitat though none have been observed. (ref. San Diego Bird Atlas)  I'll take my camera this time and see if I can be the first on my block.

Dang, just looked out the window and it's snowing.

4 PM - Crusin' for Golden Eagles - My new movie. 

Around 11 AM I went back to the site on Boulder Creek where last week I had seen three large birds take off when I passed in my truck .  By large, I'd say they had wing spans of about 5 to 6'.  They weren't Hawks or Buzzards which are pretty common in the area, and they were brown.  They were Golden Eagles. There, I said it. Of course they weren't there today but I did find the corpse of a dead coyote that they had been scavenging.

I'm currently reading, How to be a Bad Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes so I've been learning about all the tools of the trade.  The tools are basically, a field guide and a pair of binoculars. Actually I got rained out though I'm sure that wouldn't have stopped a good birdwatcher. Luckily I got the bad birdwatcher version which meant I could go home and drink coffee.

Monday, March 20, 2006

9:30 AM - Waiting for someone to come and check out our leak.  Kind of trapped till then so I've been amusing myself by straightening up the place.  I'm spending some time watching the birds visit the feeder and I'm looking up the names of the ones I can find in the field guide.  I realize that this elevates my status to "world class nerd" but what the hell, I was pretty close to begin with.

For your amusement, I'm providing a photo of where I broke through the ceiling.

I have my own ideas on how to fix it. You can see an example of my work skills in the photo. ;-)

12:30 PM - Bill Raver came by and took a look at the roof.  The only possible place for a leak was right at the scupper (roof drain) where some of the roof membrane wasn't sealed.  He patched it with some Henry's sealant and we'll see if any drips appear with the next rain (probably tonight).  I showed him the damage on the inside and he will have to cut out the sagged dry wall ceiling and replace it. That also goes for the spot I broke and repairs will take a guy one day.  First we have to be sure we sealed the leak and I may cut out the sagged ceiling dry-wall myself just so I can get a good look in the crawl space. Onward...

6 PM - Received news from the county Ag department that Blacky's tick is negative for Lyme's disease. Not a surprise to me.

The bird of the day at the feeder is: The Dark-eyed Junco, sometimes confused (by me) with the Spotted Towhee.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

9:30 AM - More snow last night though nothing like last week.  I went up on the roof to try and prevent any of the problems we had before.  Our house was made in Arizona but even though, it is supposed to deal with some snow. OK they wouldn't recommend it for the Lake Tahoe area because of the parapet sides and low roof slope but it should handle the occasional dusting that we get in our area.  Actually, it did except for the one spot in my office.

In the picture you can see the snow covered ridge cap that goes down the middle of the house.  That cap actually covers the crawl space vent holes. The manufacturer suspects that wind driven snow may have blown up under that cap and then leaked into the crawl space when it melted.  I don't agree because of the localized spot where it dripped through the ceiling and I suspect that it got sucked in around the water heater vent.  Whatever the case, from now on I'm going to scrape the snow away from all possible entryways. Having snow accumulate in our area is really rare so it could be years before this comes up again.

4:30 PM - Oh good grief!  I started the day off so optimistically. I guess the part where I fell through the ceiling set me back a little.  The drip started up again this afternoon and this time, it couldn't have been due to snow.  Something's leaking and it may be a spot on the northwest side where one of the roof drains is.  That spot looks perfectly fine from the outside so I'm a little baffled.  One of the guys who put the house together is coming by tomorrow to take a look.  Technically the manufacturer should take care of it but I'd like to know exactly what the problem is before I get them out here.

Fell through the ceiling?  Well... As a mater of fact, I was trying to get out of the crawl space and uhm, fell through the ceiling.  I put too much weight on a section of wall board and a butt sized section gave way.  Ya know that's the problem with this sort of problem.  Before you're done you've created ten times more damage than the original problem.  Kind of like the time I set my circuit breaker box on fire when I was trying to clean out a mouse nest.

Perhaps I'll post pictures tomorrow.  For now, I'll just have a beer and watch 60 Minutes.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

9:30 AM - Rain again today with snow flurries. So far, no leaks from the ceiling though the dry wall is bowing in where it leaked the other day.  Got it propped up with a 2x4 for now.  More on that later. For now I'm headed into town for a quick shopping trip then back home to work on taxes.

5:30 PM - We had another inch of rain and the ceiling hasn't dripped anymore so I'm convinced that the accumulated snow from last week caused the drip.  Unfortunately the dry-wall in the ceiling got wet and began to sag.  We were told that when it dried out it might return to its former shape but instead it got worse and I was afraid it might collapse.  From the photo you can see that I've put up a cross brace supported by a 2x4. I plan to leave it up for a week or two until I'm confident that everything is dry and hopefully it will stay in place.  Not much else I can do.

Today I'm sorting out my tax information for Catherine.  When we had it done professionally, Cath found all sorts of mistakes so she's been doing it herself ever since.  It's been kind of an expensive month with auto insurance and house insurance all due at the same time.  Just the usual stuff that everyone has to pay. 

Thursday, March 16, 2006

6:30 AM - Up early as usual.  Cath works half time at SDSU and on those days I get up when she does (5 am) but on her days off I still get up at 5. The cat sees to that.

I only had one question about Mouse Patrol. And the answer is: "Mouse Patrol" is the never-ending, ongoing battle against mice you will be required to fight when you live in the country.

Today we're expecting a repairman from the people who built our home.  It's been a year and he will be here to take care of any warrantee work. Can't believe its been a year and I kind of hate it when time moves so fast.  I want things to slow down a bit so I can savor my retirement.  Time flies when you're having fun. Yada yada...

5:30 PM - The painter from the house builder was here and did some touch ups.  We looked into the drip that I had the other day and decided it was caused by ice damming and snow getting blown into the ridge vents.  The insulation is drying and hopefully hasn't caused permanent damage.

I spent some time working on the driveway trying to repair erosion damage caused by last weeks storm.  Hauled some dirt around in the cart and spread out grass seed in the bare dirt areas. Laid down in the back of the pickup for 10 minutes and actually got a little sunburned.

Kamps Propane came by and filled our tank for $305 which should get us up to the summer.  Still some cold days ahead though.

Exciting day.  I'll be describing my junk mail next.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

6:30 AM - Late yesterday afternoon I noticed a quarter sized drop of water next to my desk. Thought I had spilled some coffee till I heard a dripping sound and then noticed drops of water coming from one of the fire sprinklers in the ceiling. No, the sprinkler wasn't leaking, the roof was.  It seems we had melting snow on the roof that was somehow making its way under the water heater flashing, dripping into the crawl space then coming through the hole for the fire sprinkler. I went up on the roof and shoveled the accumulated snow and the drip stopped in about an hour.

Apparently, when rain is running off the roof we don't have a problem but when snow accumulates and melts slowly, the water has time to make its way under the flashing.  I'm not real happy with this development and not sure how to deal with what must be some sloppy wet insulation in my crawl space. I'll be ruminating on that today.

5 PM - Today was mouse patrol.

When you live in the country, mouse patrol is serious business.  If you have a barn, mice get into every closet, drawer, box and piece of equipment you have.  They get into your tool box and make nests out of the insulation they ripped out of the walls. They get into your truck engine, chew on the wires and make nests out of the insulation they ripped off the inside of the hood. They get into any storage container that has an opening as small as a dime.  They chew up anything made out of paper or plastic and they crap everywhere.  They get in your car's vents, die, and smell for months (if not forever).

If they get into your house, they live in the walls and chew through your wires. They skitter about in your ceiling all night long and have babies by the dozens. They get in your clothes, chew holes, urinate and leave droppings. The mouse in the movie, The Green Mile was cute.  In real life, they're not.  If you see one, you've probably got dozens.  Oh yeah, they come in a multitude of varieties, in different sizes with different feeding habits and preferences. We have Field Mice, House Mice, Meadow Jumping Mice and Deer Mice. And don't forget the rats. We have Roof Rats, Kangaroo Rats but mostly Wood Rats (Pack Rats) that chew up your plants and steel shiny objects out of your tool box.  They get in your cars air filter and pack your carburetor with acorns and grain.

So today was mouse patrol.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

12 PM - We've had a crazy morning.  The power went out late last night from a lightning strike and it just came back on an hour ago.  People in Southern California don't have a clue about how to act when we get winter weather and this snow storm has the entire county in an uproar.  The Cleveland National Park is  next to our property and I monitor their frequencies with my battery operated HAM radio. Their staff has had their hands full with snowed in campers and unplowed roads and one of the rangers was getting a little testy this morning.  He couldn't get Caltrans to come in and plow the road so he was threatening to form a convoy and evacuate people himself.  I think the power going out was the last straw for him.

Cath and I decided to join the fray so we went for a drive to see the excitement.  Because our area is the entryway to Cleveland National Park, people from San Diego drive up whenever we have snow.  The roads become clogged with city folk who have brought their kids, sleds and huge inner tubes.  Usually the local news is there filming the carnival especially when the highway patrol won't let these people in because they don't have chains on their tires.  The city people then park anywhere they want and climb over barbed wire fences to get into private pastures where they can let their kids frolic and build snowmen.  I suppose I'd feel smug about living up here except our people do the same thing to the beach communities when we have July heat waves.

5:30 PM - Late Sunday afternoon. The type of Sunday afternoon that makes me reckon back to the old days when Ed Sullivan was on and I was dreading some test or oral report that I had to do the next day. Getting old isn�t all bad. I�ll stay right here thanks.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

6:30 AM - It snowed during the night. We don't have huge snowdrifts but for us 4" is a pretty good snow storm.  The satellite dish was covered and not transmitting so I headed out with my whisk broom and gave it a dusting.  At our elevation the snow could melt away during the day though the prediction is for more throughout the weekend.

6:30 PM - Neat day with more snow than we've ever gotten. It was constant all day long and I had to make several trips out to the satellite dish.  The highways have been closed in a couple of spots and it was nice to be safe at home all day.  We did drive the mile & a half to the mail box which was our only adventure.  Of course the mail lady didn't deliver.  Too dangerous for her.

I kept seed out for the birds and we must have had hundreds that stayed all day.  They even came right up on the patio next to the sliding glass door to get stray seeds.  Blackie the cat was greatly entertained and a few times he couldn't control himself and lunged at the glass.

The storm should be tapering off tonight so most likely tomorrow we'll go out for a drive.

Friday, March 10, 2006

8 AM - I got up at 3AM when I heard noise coming from the living room.  It was snowing and Catherine was moving her citrus trees in from the porch.  They're in pots on rollers and she even built a ramp to help get them over the threshold. They probably would have done fine since they are under cover and get the warmth from the house but she got nervous.

Added a small section to this website about our fire fighting preparations. I'm talking brave now when it's raining and snowing but I'm not sure how I'll feel when the flames are headed my way.

5 PM - It's been raining and snowing all day, just the way I like it.  A little while ago we had lightening strike close by and I had to scramble to get all the computers and phones unplugged.  We've had bad luck with that and I've lost a computer and several phones.  Of course I've also got my HAM radio antennae set up which means 200' of copper wire spread out over the landscape. Probably not the best idea during a thunderstorm.

Tomorrow we were planning on going out with the Sierra Club to help with a native plant census but I just got the cancellation e-mail.  This storm is supposed to peak over the next day and that area is pretty rugged and remote.  No doubt Cath and I will head out anyway just to look for weather excitement.

6:30 PM - For fun I've been fooling around with adding affiliates to this website. No, I'm not going commercial but I do think it makes the pages more interesting when there are ads that relate to the content. The advertisers are the ones who make out with these schemes. Most will only pay the website owner a few pennies and that's if the person who clicked on the ad actually purchased something.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

6:30 pm - A cold cloudy day with the prediction of a winter storm approaching for the weekend.  They are calling for lots of rain and snow at our level so I've been making a few preparations.  Nothing too extreme just stuff like putting away tools and equipment. 

After the fire I used to get calls from the newspaper whenever we were expecting rain.  They knew I lived in the burned out area and because I had my weather station, they thought I'd be a good source for stories about erosion and flooding.  I disappointed them.  The burned hills in our area suffered little from the effect of erosion, at least nothing dramatic enough to print in the paper.  I could almost feel the reporters disappointment when I didn't have a juicy flood story to tell.  I got the impression that he would have preferred that I embellish and exaggerate what was going on.  In subtle ways he prodded me to spice things up but I just couldn't come through for him.  Guess I don't have much respect for reporters because they tell stories and truth isn't necessarily their most important objective.

Actually, the worst erosion we had in the area was in places where people had scraped the earth down to bare dirt to avoid brush fires. Some times you just have to leave things alone.

Started the day off by having Cathy cut off about 8 inches of hair. Boy she hated to do it cause she likes the long hair, pony tail look and she's encouraged me to keep it long.  Frankly, I'm not that enthusiastic about the look myself and having hair that long is a real pain to deal with.  I'm not really interested in making a "statement", (whatever statement long hair makes) and I'd prefer to just be comfortable.  Anyway, even with 8" gone I still have to keep it in a ponytail so Cath isn't totally disappointed.  Yes, the photo was before the cut. :)

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

6:30 AM - Another foggy wet morning and I don't mind a bit.  I'm not complaining because till recently we've had no winter at all.  Here on the ranch, with our desert like climate, we rely on the winter rains to get us through the summer.  A winter season without rain is disastrous.

As usual, Blackie the cat made sure that I was up at 5.  Actually, he starts his get-up campaign around 4:15 and by 5 I've given up and started the coffee.  Right now he's in his basket sleeping and I'm on my second cup.

6:30 PM - A busy day doing a lot of odds & ends.  Was contacted by our local town hall to update the website that I created for them years ago. Hardly anyone up here browses the internet and most of the town hall officers don't even know they have a website.  I used to spend a lot of time on it creating calendars and schedules till I realized that it wasn't getting visited. It did teach me a bit about web building when I was just starting out but I doubt I will spend much time on it anymore.  It's a lot of work.

I did find time to bake some bread today.  OK, I used a ready-made mix and dumped it with some water into our bread machine. But I did plug it in and push the buttons!

Well, I guess I'm headed in to sit with Catherine and watch "Lost" on TV.  Boy that show is annoying!  They stretch 10 minutes of content out over an hour and the characters are always running off into the jungle after they've been told to stay in camp.  I met one of the writers this summer when I was up in Glendale.  He said the nicest cast member is the guy who plays the "Bad Boy".  I suppose that's as close as I'll get to hanging out with the rich & famous.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

10 AM - The day started wet and cloudy but things are starting to clear.  I'm still getting used to my satellite internet connection and have noticed that it struggles when we have low, wet, foggy cloud cover.  It's intermittent and recovers quickly when the clouds move around.  Have I mentioned that satellite internet services are the last resort for people who live in rural areas?  It's way better than dial up but if cable or DSL is available, you should always go with those options.

I'm also spending some time trimming some of the nonsense off of some of my computers.  By nonsense I mean some of the utilities that Norton Internet Security installed.  That program really takes control, over-complicates and slows things down.  Of course I paid for the network version so after that expense I'm in denial. I just don't want to dump the program till I'm sure it's the culprit.

7 PM - Reading Time Magazine about the latest research into the time-line of migration into North America by native cultures.  For a while the tabloids were whipping up a case for early European exploration especially after a 9,500 year old skeleton was discovered in Kennewick Washington and a scientist was misquoted as saying it looked Caucasian.  It wasn't.

We have some Indian sites on our property where they ground acorns and we've found some pot-shards and chipping waste.  I think a lot about the first inhabitants on our property and I wonder when was the last time they set foot here. Or, when was the first time they set foot here. 

Monday, March 6, 2006

8 AM - It's already been a busy morning and I'm still having trouble with my e-mail. Some is being returned and some can't get passed Norton's e-mail protection scheme.  Working on that.

Added Michael to my journal update list.  His was the first journal I ever read and I get nostalgic when he writes about the Santa Rosa area. (I spent some time there) He also has been updating everyday for years.  Impressive!

I added a section about turkeys to this website.  I won't go so far as to say we're being over-run by them but they've definitely been getting our attention lately.  In the morning, the bunch in this photo literally run to the spot where I put out seed. 

I especially feel sorry for one who has a bad leg and she really has to struggle to keep up with the rest. We call her Hoppy and she has been around for a couple of years.  Lately she's been slower than usual and I've found her by herself, obviously left behind.  We're considering trying to catch her and putting her in one of our large outdoor cages but when you try to intervene with nature you usually do more harm than good.


6:30 PM - Catherine's really been  following up on the tick that we pulled off Blackie on Saturday.  I really didn't pay much attention, I guess because when I was a kid they were no big deal.  Apparently, because of Lyme's disease, ticks are taken more seriously now and the county Department of Agriculture is running a test on ours.  Man, one more thing to worry about.  Frankly, I think a lot of the hysteria about killer flu, plagues, Lyme's Disease, Mad Cow Disease and flesh eating bacteria are just hyped up yarns spun by the media.  Tune in at 11.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

9 AM - I've been updating the website a bit and added a section on water tanks.  Posted a story from my old journal on how we had the tank helicoptered in.

4:30 PM - I've had no physical activity at all today, Cath even had to go on her bike ride alone.  Spent much of the day fooling with my wireless network trying to get it to do what it used to.  I honestly don't know how the average person keeps their computer up and running.  Unless you're a computer hobbyist, it seems like no one would have the time to keep up with all the problems that arise. 

I run Norton Internet Security and I'm convinced that that program is the cause of many of my problems.  Actually, I'm convinced that the anti-virus companies actually release viruses just to keep their businesses in the black. Yep, another conspiracy theory.

Anyway, I finally got the troublesome computers to "see" the others (sort of) and I'm able to do what I needed. Sort of.

I like John Stewart so I may watch his monologue on the Oscar's tonight.  Hope he doesn't shoot himself in the foot like "Uma, this is Oprah" Letterman did.  Well, I thought it was funny.

Saturday, March 4, 2006

1:30 PM - Started the day at 5 AM and had to remove a tick from Blacky's neck.  He's an indoor cat though Cath takes him out every now-and-then on a leash.  I was talking to some people about how to remove ticks and was surprised at all the different suggestions. We decided that the cautions about not pulling them out are flawed.  We had tried all the different ways but they never worked and we always ended up just pulling the darn things out. The concern is that if you pull it out, you might leave the head in and cause an infection.  I'm declaring that concern an urban legend.

Spent a few hours working on the Yamaha Rhino and changed the oil and filter.  The thing is basically a motorcycle with a single cylinder liquid cooled engine.  It's also the best piece of equipment we have and it gets used every day.  After the oil change I headed over to a neighbors to use it to haul trees to their new orchard.

5 PM - Added my friend Clarence to the update list. He has a great blog at: . I haven't been automatically adding people from my old list. I figured some of them might be relieved to be off the hook but I don't want to offend anyone either.  Might as well add Jim. His journal is at: and I've been reading it for years.

I'm going through wild birdseed mix like crazy. We're getting hundreds of birds and the mornings are a real riot around the feeder.  I throw seed on the ground as well but before you know it, 30 turkeys wander through and clean that up in minutes.  Of course we have a ground squirrel that helps himself and even a rabbit that sits out there grazing for seed.  (Thought they preferred grass)  I must have gone through 20 lbs in two weeks.  Might need to put them on a diet.

Friday, March 3, 2006

6 AM - Yesterday was lost to me.  Another migraine and it was also shopping day.  When I got back from the big city with my groceries I just tried to take a nap.  Too many migraines lately so I'll be making an appointment soon.  They've had me on blood pressure meds for years to combat the headaches but now they're getting worse so it's time to see what new migraine meds they've come up with.

Today is Rhino maintenance day.  I'll be changing the oil & filter though, the filter they sold me looks suspiciously different from the current one.  Won't know till I get involved.

Got an e-mail from  Denver Doug ( ) asking me to start a notify list for this journal. I tend to update at various times during the day but I know how useful it is to have a reminder e-mail with working link. Doug Franklin at: has posted an entry every night for centuries but it's still nice to get the e-mail link. So... anyone interested just drop me a line and I'll add you to the list. Doug & Doug, you guys are already on the list ;-)

1 PM - Spent the morning screwing with my e-mail setup. My account at SDSU and the new Direcway ISP were having some conflicts. Kept me busy for hours.

It's raining so I've postponed my oil change but I did check for new Stealth Cam pictures.  No, that's not the cougar I've been trying to photograph.  It's the neighbors cat.  Had my heart going for a second though.

Wednesday, Mar 1, 2006

7:30 AM - Today I'll be seeding this area with wildflowers.  I'm using a Southwest Desert mixture along with California Poppies that will hopefully withstand this dry hot area.  I'm mixing the seed with rye and fescue to add volume when I spread it out.  I'm hoping that the grass seed will distract the birds while the wildflowers get established.

I've been waiting all winter for a chance to do this.  With no rain, the opportunity didn't present itself till now.  This was the area that was disturbed during construction and I'm trying to get some native growth reestablished.  I'll take anything I can get that will add organic material to this mostly decomposed granite soil.

2 PM - Finished my project and watered in the new seed.  If our neighbors up on the hill can see me they probably think I'm nuts for watering but I want to make sure the seeds are moist.  The seeds didn't go as far as I would have liked but they were pretty expensive (home depot).  I'll start looking for a better source of native wildflower seeds and post it here.

3 PM - The best I could come up with was Larner Seeds for seeds of native California plants.  Actually, the wildflower seed prices seemed on par with what I paid at Home Depot but they do offer some interesting native grass seeds that aren't readily available.  I'm looking at Achnatherum hymenoides or Indian Rice Grass. They say: "This bunchgrass is important to Indian life because it will grow without water in pure sand and furnishes food for man and beast. It has been destroyed in many areas by overgrazing. Seed was ground into mush." Ornamental, drought-tolerant, and graceful. "