Back to Work

The brief pause in fix-it activity was a blessing. There is a reason to keep one day Holy and absent of work, so that the suffering is not prolonged unalterably. But we needed to get the closet finished and the door-stops done – and we did. The DeWalt screw-gun is a blessing, and so is the hammer-torque driver. And so is the battery-operated skill-saw.

Meanwhile I received a letter from my Old Friend and mentor who hired me for the first Real Job that I had, one with some responsibility and one that proved I could do it. He taught me to drink single-malt Scotch neat, and always had hair-raising stories – like when he was Stage Manager for the Rolling Stones “Sticky-Fingers” West-Coast Tour and had to provide Security for the mis-managed event at some Arizona University arena full of College Kids who were clueless… He had a stroke several years back and went from lopsided shuffling, to walking with a cane, to full wheel-chair invalidity. While I was between-jobs (on one of those many occasions), I acted as his butler – or something. He is a man with a precise and photographic memory, and the stroke had no effect on that or his speech, but the physical debilitation has had an un-happy cascading effect. On my calendar was a birthday reminder, and so I sent him a belated Birthday card/thank-you for taking a chance on me, the weird-kid all those years ago. He and his wife were close friends through my Theater years, and my girlfriend/now-wife attended many annual summertime Croquet-Tournaments/drinking-party that they hosted with other friends from that Theater Tribe. In later years and following a different career trajectory, and after his illness we were not as frequent visitors. But it was good to hear from them, very good, and they were both pleased to hear from me/us.
That’s it for now, partly. I picked up some nice actual-wood wooden screen doors that I will fit, they will allow for a cross-breeze and keep bugs-out on days when it’s not too hot and the A/C isn’t cranking. Oh-and the “lawn” -the one that’s decorative – not the wide expanse of Prairie – on the other side of the Ranch, needs mowing. And weeding.

I hate Hippie Spiders

I realize that in Nature (red in tooth and claw), all things find their balance and there is a hierarchy of who eats what and who is eaten by whom. The previous owners had a relaxed and laissez-faire attitude towards much of the outdoors and its’ creepy and feathery inhabitants. Too bad they adopted the Hippie, spider-friendly ethic – or maybe they were overwhelmed by the volume indicated. Maybe they didn’t recognize the terminal threat to their own children that existed with the “peaceful co-existence” and co-habitation with Spiders.
Out there in the thick prairie, in the Moeibus Loop of Life, there are mites feeding off bugs feeding off katydids feeding off…our eventually decaying corpses. And it happens whether we are shipped to a burning Ghat or a more efficient crematorium, or (especially) just wrapped in a cloth and laid six-feet under.

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out,
The worms play pinochle on your scalp,
They eat your eyes, they eat your nose,
They eat the jelly between your toes.
A big green worm with rolling eyes
Crawls in your stomach and out your sides.

But in my admittedly vastly negative experience, there is no place in a HOME where I LIVE for an infestation of any kind of spiders. My extreme prejudiced for spiders is based n experience, and is akin to how I would respond to a thief creeping around in the house in the dark at night with a .357 magnum – with extreme prejudice.
Spiders are not the benign victims of anti-spider Media-frenzy, illegal-spider immigration, or a raaacist anti-Spiderphobia. Spiders in the wild are like rattlesnakes in the wild. You do with them as you please, and I’ll do with them as I please – Bang!
In this ranch-house on the primeval-vegetal Prairie, I have notice a few here and there, and some also inside. I’ve sprayed the house perimeter with the stuff that comes in a white jug from Homie-Despot or Costloco.
I have sprayed the thick nests and webs in the garage – and removed them physically. I chased a big fat hairy one from those nests as it darted quickly back and forth and tried to dodge the insatiable sucking maw of the ShopVac. And I missed. I stepped on one outside and saw a dozen teeny-tiny ones run in every direction. I think the host (Mom) was dead and they were feeding on/off it.
This may become a frequent war-effort, as I will NOT be bitten by a Brown Recluse again.
And tonight I was cleaning-up crumbs under the corner-cabinetry toe-kick, down on the3 floor by the sink, when the back of my hairy hand brushed a thick cobweb. So I proceeded to spray inside. The result will be as with a thief in the night, like the game of Clue – Mr. Spider/Thief was “stopped” in the Kitchen, by Mr. Sig Nitron-P220, in .45 – with the laser and hollow-points.
But I fear this is not yet game over.

Woodpile

trailerwoodpile
I stuffed an 18v. battery in the mini DeWalt Skillsaw, and went after the plum branches resting on the railing of the raised-beds. We’re not sure why the raised planting-beds have railings around them that don’t keep anything out and require you to hike your skirt to climb over. Maybe that’s the secret. So I hiked my Wranglers and set-to cutting until the 12-to-16-inch remnants filled the dump-trailer. Then we motored us over to the wood pile and pulled the tailgate.
UPDATE: Ok so it’s not a very big pile, and it’s fruitwood that will burn hot and fast. It’s a start!

Midsummer Weather

Got some steaks on last night as the sun went past the meridian and the shadows moved out to cover the grill and the afternoon cooled – then some rain in the evening. Big thunder-bumper clouds had been bunching up over the Sierras from a storm that had clocked in around from the south, and as the heat blasting off the Valley collided with the unsettled air the magic began. The evening was quiet, but in the morning the skies were turbulent with high and thick gray clouds, and the big bass-drums had occasion to boom.
Must be a bit like Colorado up at Rampart when the heat boiling up off Nebraska hits the cold air on the backside, accelerating up into altitude like a surfer on a seven-thousand foot wave. Once when we were dirt-riding there (Colorado, Rampart) at night the skies above our campsite came alive with thunder and lightning in a huge drenching shower that descended onto us, with explosions of lightning in between the trees and down to the floorboards – what excitement! Fortunately nobody was hit, but it was loud and brighter than daylight when the electricity lit us up, inside the cloud.
Right now (9:30AM) there was more thunder and it started to rain… Not the typical dry CA summer weather, but not unusual for the Sierras either. Anything can happen up in the High Country, and I think this bodes well for a El Nino winter.

Midsummer

It was 103° Fahrenheit at 9:45AM today and I was out with my new best friend, the arborist from Michigan who works for our realtor’s husband, whacking at three overgrown plum trees. And more. He’s a funny guy with his head on right and a LOT of experience with plants and chopping things down – and you should see him when he gets into a red-ant pile. White people CAN dance! We got him brushed-off real quick though.
Two of the plums shade the narrow driveway entrance, and the other is merely “decorative,” up the hill by the “front-door” – on the cockeyed side of the house. IMHO the house is sited weirdly, based on an equatorial rather than longitudinal sun exposure. Or something.
At some point about five years ago – before the immediate predecessor owners, somebody had made an effort to prune them, but since then nothing whatsoever, and the plants’ interiors had grown into their own wild criss-crossing jungle thicket – and into the overhead power-lines. The artistic hand of the arborist had also been busy and felt at the Dogwood tree-shrub underneath and outside the master bedroom, and we had cut-back its neighboring companion, a leggy verbena, with a seriously hard, high, and tight Marine Corp haircut. We butchered it.
Or whatever. IMGP2266x1000
As a certified non-plant person and guaranteed Black Thumb, a lot of this was really kinda new to me. Besides the deadly familiarity with loping shears, I’m not very plant sensitive or green-caring. Don’t ask me to water your petunias or I’ll drown them – if I even ever get around to applying water in any form. A motorcyclist friend who soundly thrashes his bikes to the last inch describes his personal vehicular tendency as a profound lack of “mechanical sympathy.” I’m the same with vegetation and plant-things that purport to “grow.”IMGP2265x1000
Yesterday we were were out there too, but it was only 95° degrees at 8:30AM when I was out digging into the #2 hillock making sure it was not hiding a stump, or gold – but no such luck, it was only a crap-pile of alluvial gravels. Or an old midden-pile. Some of the dirt “clung” together… But no buried treasure.
In fact the little hill looked for all purposes like the dump site for excess crap-dirt that was mostly rock, so I filled the dumper-trailer (TWICE) with such crap-dirt and drove over to fill-in the ankle-breaker hole. Big sweat.
No explanation for the knee-deep, manhole-sized cavity in the prairie, but who knows. Then I bent to work on the second hillock to fill the long rut running along the fence line.
So yesterday’s work included a preliminary whack-job, and the stump grinding. Three of the stumps were so old and dry the simply blew-up, expediting the process. On required actual work – which fortunately was in the shade of the big oak.IMGP2259x1000
And on Sunday before all this got started, I set-up two fresh and clean bluebird houses, on trees facing each other across the prairie. We have a number of bluebirds out in the4 surroundings, and the inch-and-a-half hole is designed to attract them. And they eat a lot of mosquitoes, which is AWESOME.
IMGP2256x1000

It’s ALIVE!

Got the mower out in the tall grassland, around 8:00AM after a breakfast of bacon and eggs. I’m not sure what “Country-Neighborly Protocol” dictates but I kinda think that to start mowing at 6:30 might be the beginning of a new name, “Hey Asshole!” Maybe 7:00AM is “safe”??
So I motored around for a good hour-and-a-half, stopping under trees to pick up dropped branches that might do harm, hitting buried unknowns that went bang, and I still have a lot to do but it’s already 80-degrees and gettin’ hotter today.
After the half-assed mow I quit at 9:30 because the engine began stuttering from fuel starvation and so I ran it up into the side driveway and parked.
Gas from the 5-gal gas can with the stupid CA-CARB mandated gimmick nozzle for eco-safety. Saturn’s moon Titan has more gas than Earth and with no evidence of “fossils” I believe that then notion of “fossil-fuel” is a huge bit of Ecotard distraction and head-fake.
After re-gassing I applied the water attachment to the wash-out port and cleaned out all the caught-up clippings and jammed-up mow-bunch stuff, then flaked the garden hose like my father taught me (and I think he learned in the Navy), in a figure-eight.
Looking around the garage I loosened the jam-nuts of the Mighty KTM from the jack-stand and heaved her off. Tipped some old pre-mix into the tank and laid her over on her side to fill the float-bowl. With the difficult to engage (and dis-engage) choke button pushed-up, after a few kicks she started!
SHE’S ALIVE!!
So I ran a few laps of the yard in my cowboy hat and boots. Good enough. Oh man that dirt feels so good! I need to get some more pre-mix going in that baby and do some Dunlop weed-whacking. Oh man – my yard, my bike, my-oh-my…

Hot and Muggy

Yesterday a thin layer of moisture-laden haze hung everywhere and amplified the suns rays like a lens, making moving the gun-room a bigger chore – plus the AT&T guy had to search high and low for two undamaged wires that could connect to the handset and provide a dial-tone. Great guy with a lot of local knowledge since he’s from HERE and not Bangalore – or Massachusetts, or Florida – same as the Cable Guy who happens to be married to the cousin of our realtor’s husband. And the Fort Knox guy is just down the street.
IMGP2227x1000Apparently we live next to the old drive-in movie – which is where my neighbors pasture themselves. We also have wild turkeys who peck through the tall grass.
Do I really need a sweeper attachment for the mower, or should the cut grass (and weeds and other unidentifiable plant-a-zoidal fluffy crap) lay organically fallow? Is fallow the right word?

Rain Again

About 5:00Am I was awakened by the rolling thunderclap and the sound of huge raindrops slapping down on the roof – and our roof is well insulated and nearly soundproof. She was up already, watching the approaching sound-and-light show, up and awake since much earlier having gone to bed at 6:00PM. The large raindrops hit with the force of snow, with a cold splat – and then disappeared. I should check the rain-barrels.