Tuckered Out

Funny weather this morning: clear-sky temperatures that had been in the mid 80’s to upper 90’s suddenly plummeted and I awoke to an overcast sky and low 50’s – because anything can happen in the Sierras in the summer (even the foothills), and winter has left for sure. Cold and gray left me staring out the window.
My enthusiasm for mowing and abusing the poor little riding grass-cutter (besides abusing myself sacking the grass), has been satisfied lately, and since it has never received anything but the stick I figured it was time for special oils and emoluments.
I had to find a half-inch ID tube to connect the oil-drain thingamajig that was loose and weeping, and some 30-weight happy-juice for the motor, an unmolested Briggs-and-Stratton ((HAhahahahahah! WordPress spell-check wants to correct Briggs-and-Stratton to “Briggs-and-Castration”! Talk about un-molested or something)) oil-filter, dig out my drip-pan and a big funnel, and get a fresh spark-plug. My rounds lead me to Home Depot and Camino Power for the tube and the oil and oil-filter, and after running up the engine to warm so the oil would flow and drain on the cold morning, I finally wound up at O’Reilly’s for the $2-something Champion RC12YC sparky.
In all that fiddling around with the joyful mechanicking tools, I re-discovered the factory-kit issued spark-plug “tube-wrench” for the KTM, and because that was cheap and lightweight (and packed in my enduro pack where it belongs) I picked-up a $4-something 5/8ths-inch plug-socket at O’Reilly’s for the smaller plug-size that small engines share. On a side note the NGK plug that the KTM uses is a special low-crown high-discharge unit that barely fits between the cylinder top and the tank-bottom and requires a special super-thin plug-wrench just to get it out – and the plug costs something like $30 a unit. You REALLY don’t want to go fouling that without a backup to get you home, so at any time you’re out riding you have a spare $30 plug in you fanny-pack and it’s as good as cash-money to other riders, or a promissory 12-pack.
So now the mower can mow again….hmmm, dammit it could probably use a fresh air-cleaner too…
UPDATE: $20 for a tubular pleated-paper air-filter made in Bangladesh? But it really needed it. No sense getting the mower lubed up if you just choke it.

Breakout on the Western Front

The Western Wall of the Siegfried Line could not withstand the powerful Ariens-Attack, and we made breakthrough around 9:40AM yesterday, crushing the enemy in a widening swath. Further efforts will be deployed shortly, LTO – Local Theater Time. Socks-on!
Meanwhile up on the Embankment silver ground foliage and connecting drip-lines went into place over the weekend.
Looks like I need some more!


















UPDATE (and Local Color):








Seen up in Pollock at the old Pony Express restaurant.

Wayne’s Silver

Back around the other side of the house the actual “lawn” got a two-inch cut, and we advanced on the embankment pulling weeds and wild grasses and cleaning up in between the daffodils and other bulb-plants. There was a lot of nasty little stuff that crept in during the early spring days, growing around the cut-in steps and wherever purchase was available – and some small shrubs that needed pruning back, including the quince “hedge” which is doing quite well. I just need to prune the low branches and encourage upward growth.
And last week the dogwood got a haircut and it’s ears lifted, to get more light into the interior.

The stuff that I have in a bed along the front walkway looks like a good candidate for embankment ground-cover, and I snapped-off bit of branch and took it around the corner and down Mother Lode Drive to the nursery, to see exactly what it was. On the way a service-station sign reminded me that the truck’s A/C could use a re-charge, but the weather today was cool and mild, with a breeze coming up from the Delta.

What it is: a typical California Fuchsia called “Wayne’s Silver” that grows abundantly and needs little watering or much attention, so it’s about perfect for my neglectful gardening technique. Too much water will make it rot so to err on the dry side is perfect.
I bought ten plants to spread across the embankment that I intend to fully ignore and just let it take-over. Where I already have it growing it does a good job of keeping weeds down and spreading – and Mom liked it a lot, as do the hummingbirds which she also would have loved.
The Memorial service for Mom is in a couple weeks and I don’t look forward much to that, but maybe it won’t be as horribly weird and awkwardly uncomfortable as other events (and people) at the old Church of my distant memory and misspent youth. I wonder if they will make lime-sherbert and 7-Up punch like in the old days…?


Got a bug up my ass yesterday, and after the morning work spreading seventeen bags of “gorilla hair” (above), I took a noon-time cool-down ride up Pleasant Valley Road, to Snows Road and up to Apple Hill – and the cool/hot dappled light and smell of pines reinvigorated me to continue with another load of tanbark.
Between three o’clock and 5:30 over twenty-two sacks of wet mulch got laid-down and scattered in a plan that had been brewing in my mind for a while. Nobody at Home Depot came out to help as requested, so in the hot afternoon sun I loaded the sopping and heavy bags myself, and got a good workout (and messy pants and shirt) as the tanbark juice oozed and dripped out of the sacks.

In the morning light it looks OK, better than anticipated. Also I need the exercise and burned a lot of calories in the process. Who needs to count steps and silly stuff like that when other. serious and more effective (as far as improvements go) opportunities to exercise abound?

Mostly Sunny

I have the feeling this is going to be a short spring as we are already hitting temps in the mid 90’s. Tan-bark around the raised planter beds needs to be replenished, and also around the cinder-block parapet that supports that.
The prairie is about half mowed but the spring(s) are still running, and the center is still very muddy. The clear water in the large spring-pool is kind of marvelous and cool. Maybe I’ll build a little brick “wishing-well” wall around it, complete with a roof and a bucket. Or at least maybe lay down some big stones so I keep from driving the mower into the slop.
Also it might be that a new, more heavy-duty mower – one with three blades and 48-inches is in the future. It’s something I keep thinking about it, so it must be an agenda-item.
A good friend keeps trying to come up with ingenious methods to “fix” it (as if it needs fixing, it don’t) that will never work because he forgets that, “the water comes up from below.” A whole mess of fill-dirt brought in my semi-trucks may raise the pasture a foot or two in places, but at what cost and how will the big trucks get out there without getting stuck themselves? I’m really not interested in having an ass-flat parking lot at any price.
At the Gun Club dinner-meeting last night the discussion turned to the August picnic and raffle, so we drift into summer rapidly. Meanwhile bluebirds have taken up residence in the bird-houses.

Up and Down, Sun and Shadow

Over and under. Another week of wet and sunny weather mixed together, and today is a rain-day. My Neighbor-The-Hunter has an arborist over who is limbing some tall pines, not beetle-kill but possibly widowmakers.
Down in the Bay according to Big Sister Dad’s doing alright.
No mowing or yardwork today but Sunday-last, in the warm sunshine we got some tomatoes into the planter beds, a San Marzano in the Giant Cage, and some Sweet 100 cherries in a circular thing – and an Anaheim pepper – all set up with drips and water and timed to go when the rain lifts. Still under water restrictions up here, but the floodgates at Folsom are pouring as the fresh snow-melt comes down the mountain.
And my Fox Creek motorcycle jacket (off eBay, 42L) arrived and it fits! Heavy duty stuff. I just realized my Arai Signet/e lid is about as old as the Gentleman’s Express and maybe I should look into a new one. They simply wear out over time, from inside-out, and even though they may appear to be new the interior foam degrades and becomes compromised. Indeed checking the chinstrap on the D-ring side, it’s stamped “08/98” which would coincide with the Edelweiss High Alpine Adventure trip and the age of the R1100R itself. It’s a little dated in style, and lacks the dual forehead vents my wife’s Signet GT has and improved chin-ventilation. And my dirt-lid is of similar age and decrepitude.
Sheesh, it’s been a while! Maybe something red metallic to match the bike. Or Captain America style…
I need to get with the times!

Meatloaf and Irrigation

Bacon-wrapped meatloaf, before and after. Baked on a cookie cooling-rack, the fat renders out onto the cookie-sheet below, so it’s not boiling in its own juices, and PLUS it’s more of a low-cal food! You flatten it after it comes out off the mold-pan in order to bake more eavenly.

The large stones at mid-left will become the edging for the widened pathway with a gap at the driveway edge, and more of the big stones (instead of small) will line the driveway in proper neolithic fashion. Not quite enough to build a mini-dolmen or cromlech, but the thought has crossed my mind.

All this crap is coming up!

Two points on the perimeter got capped, with some water on “Station #1” continuing to be delivered to the Japanese Maple, while an errant break occurred in “Watering Circuit #3” that had to be patched-up. Oops!! A trip to Ace for some 45-degree elbows and fresh pipe was necessitated.

Something like 1200-calories were burned leaving a sweaty stench in the air and muddy clothes that needed washing.

Landscaping the Neolithic Low Granite Outcrop

While awaiting our carpenter friend with the finally-finished black-acacia-wood cap-rail, I donned my muck-boots and set-to digging up the buried PVC drip-line on the driveway-side of the Airport Lounge. We have decided to level off an area bounded by rocks and a mini-terrace, to create a larger and more useful expanse – and all the stupid connecting drip-lines had to go. This will mirror the improvements made on the opposite side of the house, where we leveled and reduced the number of micro-terraces and joined them together to crate a broad and less cluttered sitting area.
The occasional gardener my wife employs had uncovered the white vertical bits poking up from where the azaleas had once glommed and lush-wet flourished – but the general directionality and arrangement of what was to be removed remained hidden beneath the dirt. So I started at one end and worked my way around digging and garnering directional clues. How was the arrangement of vertical emitters linked together on a single watering circuit?
It’s going to take a while to dig it all up, and we don’t want to remove absolutely everything that makes-up “Watering Station-One,” but I need the muscle-building exercise and the calorie-burning weight loss – a need brought on by the sedentary Silicon Valley computer-centric lifestyle where I had bloomed up to something like 200+lbs. I’m using an Under Armour app on a iPad called “My Fitness Pal” to track physical changes, along with an Omron “Body Composition Monitor and Scale” – and so far the results have been interesting as I lose weight and gain muscle mass.
I looked-up “how many calories burned digging ditches?” on the Interwebz and got a couple different answers. In one case for a 180lb “person” the result was 696 calories for an hour’s heavy labor – with “Related Exercise” considered: Fencing, Rugby, Frisbee – general, Frisbee – ultimate, and Playing an Instrument. I’ve done both fence-post-fencing and foil/epe/saber fencing and while those are each sweaty efforts they are not very similar to each other and nowhere near anything like playing a trombone or an oboe.
In another more precise instance, for a 180lb, 73-inch tall, 59-year old Male-person, the result was 538 calories.
I’m not sure how (or what) a “Xi-xe-xer” or whatever new-pronoun Leftspeak semi-gendered humanoid would measure-up, but recent evidence derived from those who turned from “male” to “female” and now play “female” type sports seem to indicate a win-bias for the original male genes.
Meanwhile, still waiting for our carpenter to show-up, I dug out several large rocks that would dwarf the one recently found in the Prairie and began to set a curved line where the wider pathway would go against the terrace that houses the large blue-spruce. I couldn’t find “stone-stacking” among the exercises but I’m sure it’s somewhere between stacking and splitting wood.