9:30 AM - I
was browsing internet journals last night and it occurred to me that the vast
majority are written by women. I looked up some journal directories and yeah,
that seemed to be the case. Not sure how it evolved but over the years the few
journals I still read are all written by a men. Maybe it's because I�ve noticed
that many journals written by women will inevitably have entries that put men
down. Ya might have to go back a month or two but there it will be. Of the
journals I read that are written by men, I�ve never once seen them put down
women. As an equal opportunity cynic, my opinion has always been that the whole
human race sucks with neither sex (or any race) outdoing the other in stupidity.
Anyway, I found a
journal that I started to enjoy until I got in a few lines and found the
obligatory "men are doofuses" entry. This person then went on to set down
all sorts of rules about who she would allow to contact her and who's journals
she would honor by reading. And posting that your material is copyrighted, jeez.
Common folks, by definition, people who write journals are self centered but
sometimes ya just gotta get over yourself. Trust me, nobody wants to steal your
12 PM - Speaking of
doofuses, lately I've been reading some of the gun forums. I'm interested
in target practice but man, those forums are really over-populated by
stereotypical gun nuts. They're obsessed with "home invasion" and they
never stop braying about how they'll blow away the BG's. (A BG. is a Bad Guy)
I'm not sure what sort of neighborhoods these people live in but they make it
sound like it's Fallujah. With all their macho, blowhard swaggering, I can't
help but think that these are the type of guys who slept with nightlights till
they were 18. Dang, they're afraid of everything.
And yes, many are
the racists who believe that foreigners are streaming over the border to rape
our women and then sing the national anthem in Spanish. They want to form
militias, wear camouflage and patrol the border with their guns because by gosh,
"somebody's gotta do it". They're the ones that are always warning about
the coming apocalypse though secretly, that's just what they're wishing for. It
would mean they could sit in their bunkers and eat all those K-rations that are
left over from the millennium disaster.
In today's photo
I've strapped on my 500 cc SF-250 R Stihl Weed Whacker and it's ready to take on all the
BG's. We don't take crap from nobody.
OK, I'm done for
the day. Time to take my medication.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
7:30 AM - Not much of a
photograph but it shows yesterday's half hearted attempt at digging a hole for
our flagpole. Back in 1960 my father found a longboat oar on Narragansett
Bay in Rhode Island. It's about 20' long and he made it into a nice
flagpole that he placed in our front yard. When my father passed away I
ended up with the flagpole and I've been toying with the idea of setting it up
on our property. With our high winds, it's a bigger project than it sounds
and I'll have to pour cement and plan carefully.
Spent some time yesterday mowing
weeds on the upper pasture and watering trees. The "upper pasture" is
actually a leveled off section of ground that was probably intended to be a spot
for a house. It was never used but since flat spots are hard to come by in
our area, we really appreciate having it. Putting it to use is another
5 PM - Not a lot going on
around here. I'm holding off on serious brush clearing for a few more days till
the weeds dry up a little more. I'll be brushing off and servicing the
fire pump this week and placing it next to the fire hydrant. The surrounding
hills are already drying up to a point where I wouldn't rule out the possibility
of brush fires.
I suppose I could get into
political commentary like many bloggers but frankly, they do it so much better
than I ever could. If anyone really needs to know my political sentiments
I suppose I could just sum them up by saying that I'm a registered independent
with leanings toward being libertarian. I respect Jimmy Carter and Ralph
Nader and I don't think I've ever heard Bill Maher say anything that I really
disagreed with. Oh, Blah blah, yada yada ..... Just disregard this
last paragraph and I'll stick to writing about things I really know about.
Uhm... that would be... complaining about my migraine headaches and describing
how a gopher ate the rutabagas.
Sunday, May 28,
4 PM -
I've been getting pretty frustrated with the computer so
today I did an upgrade and some servicing. With all the multitasking I do,
the thing has been running slow and noisy. Besides needing more memory, it
was getting pretty dusty inside which heated up the processor and caused the fan
to run annoyingly loud. I used one of those cans of air to
blow out the dust and added another 512k of memory to give the processor a
break. The upgrade seems to have paid off and I've gotten a noticeable
kick in speed along with a quieter machine. Barring any setbacks I should
be able to run comfortably for quite a while.
whipping/brush clearing season in our valley and the hills are echoing with the
sound of small engines. George Bush has really misrepresented the
activity; it's not something you want to do on your vacation. Actually, many
people in our neck of the woods hire Mexicans to do the work and I wouldn't be
surprised if George W does the same when they turn off the cameras.
I'll sidestep the politics
(for now) and just say that around our place we do our own work. I also
try really hard not to hack down the wildflowers and give them a chance to go to
seed. Some years are better than others but because of the light winter
rains, this year we don't have a lot of color.
The pictures show
some of the Scarlet Bugler and Foothill Penstamon that came up near our propane
Friday, May 26, 2006
8 AM -
I'm paying the price for walking around
the property in sandals. Got bit on the foot by a red ant yesterday and it
swelled up and hurt like hell for several hours. It's still throbbing this
morning though at least I can walk on it now. When I was a kid and my dad
was stationed in the Mojave Desert, I used to get stung all the time but I don't
remember it ever hurting as much as this. Guess I've gotten wimpy in my
11:30 PM - I started some
chili in my slow cooker though I'm having trouble coming up with a good recipe.
My problem is that I get the urge on the spur of the moment and always come up
short with the ingredients I'll need. I never seem to have green peppers
on hand and if the recipe calls for tomato sauce, all I'll have is tomato paste.
Today's recipe called for canned diced tomatoes which I have never bought in my
life. As usual, I ended up just mixing a bunch of leftover
ingredients with chili sauce, hamburger and pinto beans. Guess I'll find
out how successful I was in 8 hours or so.
9:30 AM -
Yesterday was a great day. We had a winter-like rainstorm that is almost
unheard of for this time of year. A half an inch of heavy rain that sunk
into the ground and washed the oak pollen out of the air. Of course this
means the weed & bug season will be extended a few days but I'm not complaining.
Today's photo is
of the hose-bib that I ran over with the mower the other day. A really
stupid accident because I could see the thing; I just tried to get too close and
it's not the first time I've hit that faucet.
And I just got
back from my 25 minute walk. I managed to work up a sweat though I'm going
to have to extend my time a little. I haven't dropped a pound since I
started my diet. OK, OK - I gained a pound!
12 PM -
I've been held hostage today waiting for a package to be delivered.
Getting packages delivered to rural areas can be a task and not all carriers are
the same. After 16 years, this is what I've learned. UPS has had the
best record. They're in our area every day and their drivers complain the
least when they have to come to the boondocks. US mail is the worst and my
packages have been pilfered and stolen. The postal clerks lie and blame
the sender even when confronted with irrefutable evidence that proves otherwise.
Fed Express is inconsistent and lazy. If they don't have other deliveries
in your area they'll let packages sit on their trucks for days and when they do
come, they just dump it off at our mailbox which is a mile from our house.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
4 PM - I slept through
it but apparently the neighbor's dogs were down at the barn at 3 AM barking up a
storm. Catherine told me about it while we were on our morning walk and it
put me in a cranky mood. A feral cat has been hanging out in the barn and
I'm sure that is what they were barking at. This is one of those "no win"
situations with several people involved and different philosophies in play.
Because Cath is a bird lover she
is never happy to see a feral cat in the neighborhood. I'm ready to accept
the cat because of the mouse problem and I'm willing to overlook the occasional
bird fatality. The neighbors let their dogs run at night because
this is the country and not some sleepy suburb where people get upset over dog poop
on the lawn. But I'm trying to encourage native wildlife that will never return
when dogs are running loose all night chasing cats.
Unfortunately, in our neck
of the woods, Cath and I are "out of step". We've noticed that many people
who move to the country do everything they can to turn their area into a bedroom
community complete with lawns and trophy McMansions. They never saw a native
plant that they didn't think was a weed and thanks to pesticides, many houses
are surrounded by bare dirt deserts. Dead trees and bushes are considered
unsightly and are cut and mulched without delay. The other day, one of our
neighbors asked if I thought he could clear Chamise off his property by using an
ATV to pull it out by the roots. It never entered his mind that he should
leave it alone. Fire prevention is the excuse most often used though I suspect
that anal-retentive tidiness is the real
mechanism at work.
Oh well, there are always two sides to a story. Our neighbors say that our
house looks like a Taco Bell.
The photo above shows a dead oak
that is near the entrance to our Valley. It's a prime example of why
dead trees should be left to rot in place. You can't tell from the photo
but at the top is a large nest complete with a Red-tailed Hawk chick whose
mother is standing guard. I'm afraid that most people only see an
unsightly dead tree. "Hey, it lowers property values and what if it caught on
6:30 AM - I
haven't been too ambitious recently though I did get out with the weed whip
yesterday afternoon and do some trail maintenance. Most of my time has
been spent dragging a hose around to the new trees to make sure they get a head
start before the blistering summer heat arrives. We have been getting into
the 80's but at least it cools off at night. Soon, even the night will
stay uncomfortably warm.
The turkeys still
come by every morning for sunflower seeds though now we're getting more males
than females. The females are out in the brush sitting on eggs and soon they'll be bringing their chicks by for breakfast.
Actually, some of the
turkeys have begun to hang out in the back yard almost all day long. At
times I'll see rabbits, squirrels, turkeys and birds all grazing at the same
time, usually within a foot or two of each other.
struggling to keep the weeds and grass green in the area though that is a losing
battle. Won't be long till the heat turns everything golden brown.
12 PM -
Besides clearing trails so we can see the snakes, I also do it so we can avoid
getting foxtails in our socks. It sounds trivial but the second you
venture into the weeds, you gather so many needle like seed pods in your socks
that walking becomes unbearable. For quick trips to move the hose I don't
wear any socks at all. For more ambitious jaunts into the brush, I wear
gaiters; the type you would normally use on winter snow hikes. Cleaning
the stickers out of your socks can be a daunting task and you're bound to miss
the smaller seed heads that are impossible to find but drive you mad with every
step. Just another one of those little details you learn when living in the
Thursday, May 18, 2006
8:30 AM - 83 degrees
already. We hustled out early to get our half hour walk in but it was already
uncomfortably hot and buggy. It's a little early for summer schedule.
Summer schedule is when you have to get out first thing in the morning and do as
many chores as you can then, get back inside and stay till late afternoon.
The bugs and gnats are probably the most annoying part of being outside at this
time of year. When the weeds die back from the heat, things will ease up a
5:30 AM - I
fixed the air-conditioning myself, yay! I talked to the installer and he
gave me some tips over the phone though as usual with these things, it was just
trial & error that led to the solution. As I suspected, the electrocuted
mouse was just a fluke that distracted me from the real problem. The relay
switch had junk under the contacts (probably a squished bug) and I wasn't
getting the full 220 volts to the compressor.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
12:30 PM - Took a quick run
into town to get some oil for the mower and some gas for the weed whip.
$3.70 a gallon for the gas at one of the cheaper stations. $75 to fill my
truck tank and the 7 gallon canister. I think I'm going to have to cut
back on my casual trips into the city. For me a trip to the Wal-Mart is 60
miles round trip and hard to justify when I'm mostly going because I just want
to take a ride. Shopping over the internet is making a lot of sense these days
though I don't suppose I can get UPS to deliver my groceries.
The weeds are waist high in some
places so I'm dusting off the Dr Mower and the Weed Eater to cut paths to the
barn and essential hose bibs.
7:30 PM - Spent
about two hours weed whipping snake trails around the property. It's too
early to do any serious weed control because they're still growing with gusto
and if you cut them too early, you'll just have to do it again a month later.
On the other hand, we still have to walk to various locations so I do cut paths
to the most visited spots. We call them snake trails because its easier to
see the rattlers when you don't have to walk through waist high weeds.
And speaking of that,
my last chore of the day was killing a 3' rattler that was coiled up under some
junk in the barn. I'm not big on killing rattlers and when we come across
them in other areas of the property we either let them alone or trap them in a 5
gallon bucket. We then take them somewhere safe out in the county. Finding
them in the barn is a different story. Knowing you have a rattler
somewhere in the barn but not knowing where it is makes you twitchy. If
you fuss about trying to trap it, chances are it will slither under some
immovable object and then you have to wait and hope you're prepared when it
decides to come out. For that reason I always keep 22 caliber "snake shot" on
hand and dispatch barn rattlers as soon as I see them. Snake shot is like a
teeny little shotgun shell and it kills the snake instantly without tearing
things up or ricocheting around the room.
6:30 AM - One step
forward, two back. Late yesterday afternoon I was headed out to do some
quick weed mowing when I noticed that the air conditioning unit wasn't working.
I did a quick test with my multi-tester and found voltage to the unit but when I
took off the panel cover I found an electrocuted mouse across the capacitor
terminals. Poor mouse but I guess it was quick. I removed the mouse
and fired up the unit but still no luck. Unfortunately I've exhausted my
knowledge of electrical trouble-shooting so I'll have to call someone on Monday.
I'm getting voltage to all the motors but that may be part of the problem.
I should only be getting voltage when a relay switch is activated, which it
In the photo you
can see the mouse corpse laying on the top of the unit. Actually, I can't
even be sure that the mouse is the actual culprit. Considering all the
mice we have running around this place, it could be just a coincidence. Boy I'm
tired of mice. This website is turning into one big mouse extermination
headquarters. Most of the hits I get are from people looking for tips on
how to eliminate rodents. In the past two weeks I've had to remove mice
nests from my truck engine, the Yamaha Rhino engine, my tool box in the barn and
the mower carburetor. They're taking over my world!!!! It's
Koyaanisqatsi and we're all doomed !!!
Friday, May 12, 2006
11 AM - The health
appraisal results are in and overall I'm in better shape than I was two years
ago. Funny, though my cholesterol is down from 247 to 213, this time they
want to put me on medication for it. Yeah, it gets complicated with the
different forms of cholesterol but the bottom line is that I'm now taking 40 mgs
of Lovastatin daily. And I gotta lose weight, and I gotta exercise more
and I gotta take 1 aspirin a day...
I was out at 9:30 doing some
target practice and one of the neighbors called up to make sure everything was
OK. Even though it seems like everyone up here has a gun, they weren't
used to hearing shots coming from my end of the valley. Since I'm the long
haired, peacenik, tree hugging hippie of the area, I guess they assume that I
wouldn't own a gun. As long as they don't start thinking I'm another
Speaking of long haired hippies, I
was looking into downloading the new
Neil Young album but ran
into problems with my virus protection software. No, I wasn't trying to steal
the album, in fact I'm happy to pay for any music I get from the net but once
again, Norton's security jumped in and complicated the transaction. Even
when I disable Norton's and enable pop-ups, it still works in the background
blocking screens that I need to start the download. Of course I'll
eventually figure it out but man, Norton's sure annoys the hell out of me.
8:30 AM -
I've really been suffering from allergies lately and this morning I took a
couple of pills to help alleviate the symptoms. Unfortunately the side effects
will have me dragging around in a stupor for the rest of the day.
I did manage to
start early and get some chores out of the way. I found a barrel of bird
seed at the old house so I can postpone my trip into town till tomorrow when I
go in for the second half of my health appraisal. Alex Bennett is a
liberal talk show host on the Sirius left wing channel and he's been talking for
weeks about his recent proctology exam. Pretty funny stuff and I have to
admit that the humor has relaxed me a bit about my upcoming exam.
10:30 AM -
The first rattler of the year photographed by Catherine on Boulder Creek Rd. She
took the picture with her cell phone on the road along the way home from work.
It was cool and didn't even rattle but it ran away after she took its picture.
Well, slithered away.
Monday, May 8, 2006
AM - Saturday was a headache day for both Catherine & myself but Sunday was
Cuyamaca Mountain excursion day. It had been postponed for a month but we
finally got together with Walt, Cindy & Nathan for a walk up the southwest side
of Mount Cuyamaca. Walt is 83 and in exceptional shape from a lifetime of
hiking. He has a degree as a linguist and worked for the Foreign Service
of the State Department. Walt spent 20 years in countries all over the northern
hemisphere and hiked extensively in all of them.
I made it through the hike with a
sunburned face and aching joints but I felt pretty humble by the end of the day.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that Walt is truly inspirational. Today I'm
hanging out at the house but I expect he's out for a walk around his
PM - I�m reading Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel which
was published in Germany in 1953. The author was a German philosophy professor
and while teaching in Japan, he spent 6 years studying Zen Buddhism. In the Far
East there are many ways to practice Zen and working with the arts is an
accepted way to help develop the concentration used in Zen meditation. Total
immersion into rituals like The Tea Ceremony, flower arrangement, Yoga,
painting, and archery are meant to help train the mind and develop mindfulness.
Getting noticed and ego gratification by becoming �the best� is not the purpose.
Unfortunately I�ve noticed that �Mindfulness� is becoming a faddish �buzz word�
though when you consider its 2,500 year roots, it�s really not so new on the
scene. On the other hand, from the western perspective it�s new and authors like
Echart Tolle are propounding its benefits.
Today I continued my archery practice though I�m having trouble increasing my
distance from the target. Thirty meters is normally the beginning distance for
outdoor target archery though finding a hundred feet of unobstructed flat space
on our property is almost impossible.
Friday, May 5,
10 AM - Today a
House Wren has taken up residence in our one and only bird house. Important