August 5, 2011
Guys like my robot. Their mechanical curiosity immediately pops up at first site of it, and they check out his movable arms and legs, and head; his spark plug toes; radio tube eyes. They act like teenagers looking under the hood of their first car. (It helps to know he is made of car parts.) One piece comes from a 1947 Plymouth, the artist told me.
Rust has caught up with my robot and I tried to move him inside, out of the weather until I could attend to the problem. Unfortunately, the weld on his foot gave way and down he came, his head came undone and rolled to the side. Oh, no! Some rusty looking oil spilled out of his “crank case” and there he lay. Now, where is one of those handy car guys when you need him? No putting off the job. I got out the steel wool and sandpaper, bought some aluminum paint and went to work. Not a job I wanted to do just now, but the robot needs this fix.
Several hours yesterday morning, I managed to get two legs finished on one side only. Hmm! This is going to be a long process I can see. I’m enthused. He looks much better. Now, to find a handy welder kind of guy to put him back together before I leave.
I spent the afternoon with an old quilting buddy, Kendra North. We didn’t quilt, we talked about the quilts we haven’t finished yet, our high school reunion experiences and had lunch instead. I am so fortunate to have so many talented friends. Kendra, a cancer survivor, can saddle a horse, shoe a donkey, weed eat her acreage, stave off the coyotes with her rifle, tutor her grandchildren, build a chicken coop, make gorgeous quilts, and keep her ancient Volkswagen running. She doesn’t weld.
July 12, 2011
Last night, shots rang out and I knew the feral pig hunters were actively patrolling. The picture above is a skinny pig compared to the pictures my neighbor, Gary Gonzalez got of five pigs invading his yard July 4th. Sunday night, one of my Hanging Tree neighbors in a golf cart-like vehicle, with a powerful strobe light and a cross bow, was cruising the road flashing the woods looking for pigs. I’d planned to take a cool evening walk Monday night and thought better of it. Not only because of the hunters but because Gerry Baumgartner, another Hanging Tree neighbor reported he had been visited by a bear twice in the last two weeks and the neighbor above him has had three visits from two different bears. Both have armed themselves with canned horns. Its beginning to feel like an armed encampment here.
Bears and pigs are related and their meat tastes similar. I know that for a fact since I once butchered a bear for my brother who hunted and killed a bear in neighboring Tuolumne County when he was only 18 years old. Bears and feral pigs compete for the same food. Both can be aggressive and can and will attack humans if cornered or threatened, though that rarely happens. In the 1980′s I encountered feral pigs in Wilseyville and Railroad Flat, the upper, mountainous western part of Calaveras County. I’ve lived in Murphys since 1978 and have never seen a bear within two miles of my place, nor have I seen feral pigs. I find it somewhat disturbing to realize that the bear population and feral pigs are wandering into new territory. It makes me wonder what shift in the environmental balance caused them to hunger out of their range? From past experience, it is usually human activity that upsets the balance. In any case, one neighbor was feeling very sympathetic to the feral pigs being hunted and considered setting out corn for them. It seemed to be the right time to get educated about feral pigs and the damage they do. I looked at a couple of sources but Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has the most thorough information on feral pigs and I copied my pictures from them:
There are approximately four million feral pigs in the United States. Fact: more people are killed by pigs than sharks. Domestic pigs were originally brought here from Spain and allowed to propagate in the wilds of California. Russian razorbacks and pigs from Germany were brought to New Hampshire, the Carolinas and California in the early 1900′s. They are ferocious fighters, can produce two or more litters per year and live for 25 years. They’ve become a serious problem in 23 states.
Mountain lions, bobcats and bears will feed on young pigs but the adult pigs are voracious predators. President Roosevelt once watched a pig dismember a jaguar.
” They especially relish acorns as well as hickory and beech nuts in the autumn. At other times of the year they eat forbs, grasses, leaves, berries and other fruits, roots and tubers, corn and other agricultural crops, insects, crayfish, frogs, salamanders, snakes, mice, eggs of ground-nesting birds, young rabbits, fawns and young livestock, such as lambs, calves, kids. They can also kill larger livestock that are weak from illness or injury. When fresh meat is not available, feral pigs will also readily scavenge carrion.”
They destroy wetland habitat, muddying the waters, breaking down the banks of rivers, destroy aquatic plants and have been known to corner larger prey and hunt as a group, breaking legs and getting an animal on the ground. Their powerful bite can snap a kneecap or crush a peach pit with equal ease. They have been known to gnaw down a small tree and trample bushes in the wild. In domestic gardens and landscaped areas the damage is formidable. So, I say to my neighbor, don’t feel sorry for these invaders and let us support our hunters. In Wisconsin, they can be taken at anytime. In California, hunters need a pig tag, unless you are defending your property or livestock. I’m told they are better tasting than what we buy at the store. Luau time.
July 11, 2011
I just got a message from the League Of Conservation Voters about a new bill in congress to repeal the mandate for efficient light bulbs enacted with a lot of bi-partisan support in 2007. It seems Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck have been ridiculing them on their shows, and, in the process, distorting the truth about these new bulbs. That, then translated into a bill by a friendly congressman. It always amazes me when congress people listen to rumor and crap and disregard solid science when they make decisions. Kind of makes you wonder if candidates shouldn’t have to pass the citizens test given to immigrants before they run for office.
Truth be told, I didn’t like the new bulbs either, at first, because I’d purchased several of them at a high price only to have them fail. You can return, them, yes, but who keeps the receipt? What bulb did you buy where? I began keeping the cardboard backing and attaching the receipt to it and writing where those particular bulbs were inserted. All for naught. In the end, most of the bulbs work just fine and last a long time. And, the cost has come down, down, down. In fact, in Arizona second-hand stores (where Jim and I always look first for anything we need in the motorhome), the bulbs are subsidized by the state to encourage their use.
But all this talk of bulbs made me kind of reflect and chuckle because while working in the Bay Area at the Santa Rita Jail in the 1950′s, I was told about a light bulb still burning in the Livermore fire department that was over 50 years old. I eventually went to look at it and indeed the story was true. Just for kicks, I went into my search engine and asked for the longest burning light bulb, and sure enough, it’s still going. Here is what wikipedia has to say:
The world’s longest lasting light bulb is the Centennial Light located at 4550 East Avenue, Livermore, California. It is maintained by the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department. The fire department claims that the bulb is at least 109 years old and has only been turned off a handful of times. The bulb has been noted by The Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, and General Electric as being the world’s longest-lasting light bulb.
There are some other long-lasting light bulb stories on the wikipedia site if you want to check them out at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longest-lasting_light_bulbs
The other reason I didn’t like the new bulbs is they didn’t fit into my lamps and my light fixture globes didn’t fit over the new bulbs. Bare, they are just plain ugly. But, I’ve dined at some pretty fancy restaurants and seen those same ugly bare bulbs and figured if they can do it. I can do it. And, they are going to transpose the lighting fixture industry which translates into more jobs. The real benefit, as I see it, and the reason that the bill won’t pass, is because businesses that watch their bottom line already realize the cost savings of these new bulbs. They’ve already made a $12 billion dollar annual savings in this country alone. So, while Beck and Limbaugh claim the new standards are part of a “nanny state” governance, the reality is the bulb technology is getting much better because of the law and we (or our children’s children) may someday be reading about a rare thousand-year light bulb.
May 26, 2011
Baskets have amazing functional qualities. At one time I collected them and hung them all over my kitchen. I’ve kept some useable baskets that I cherish, but for the most part they were decorative. American Indians made them strong and serviceable. And, while they were at it, they decorated them.
If the weave was tight enough, the basket could hold water. It swelled and kept the water in and the owner cool on a hot day. Woven mats kept your seat on a stone softer; kept your food from touching the blanket used for a “table” cloth.
And the baby carrier had a built-in cap to keep the sun off the baby’s head and out of its eyes. I’m in awe of how clever these resourceful people were. If you’d like to see the other pictures I took of the basket collection at Maryhill, click the link below:
May 13, 2011
Interesting that this small town of Newport has the tallest remaining lighthouse, and the smallest remaining lighthouse in Oregon. Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the tallest, at ninety-three feet, and 114 steps. In fact, if you put a dollar in the tank at the top, you get a pin declaring you survived the climb. The keepers had to be in good shape after working this lighthouse carrying oil cans up those stairs to the lense. This lense is one of the first Fresnel lenses and did not rotate.
The oil supply containers remain from the old days. Imagine hauling oil up this steep rocky point with just ruts for a road in the 1800′s. Its not easily accessible even today. It requires a 12 minute walk to get there on a nicely provided even surface. The point is 162 feet above sea level.
The keepers desk remains as well. The keepers were instructed to record everything about them, whether it was windy, raining, foggy, sunny, the temperature changes and times, ships seen, ships lights seen, but also such mundane things as debris on the beach. If there were lightening strikes, an inspection or a ship smashed on the rocks, things got exciting. The logs were kept partly to alleviate boredom. Keepers were provided a boxed library to encourage them to read and better their education.
Below the lighthouse the beach is rugged, rocky and attractive to seabirds that feast on the mussels at low tide. The tide pools are available for sightseeing by traversing eighty-six well built, safe steps to the bottom of the hill. Walking across the volcanic cobblestones that make up most of this beach was a bit challenging for those in good physical shape.
The cobblestones were formed when lava hit the cold ocean and made instant stone droplets of all sizes. The tide pools had fat, green sea anenomes some round and some oblong. Kelp strands unfamiliar to me and starfish.
It would have been nice to pick up some mussels for dinner but no harvesting was allowed. Instead, we had lunch in town around the once famous Nye Beach resort area. Lot of neat shops and galleries to look through.
The BLM handles Yaquina Lighthouse site with an excellent interpretive center. Maintaining an old quarry on the grounds for tide pool viewing for people with disabilities is another unique feature of this particular park, which surrounds the working lighthouse. Of course, the lighthouse is only valuable to fishing boats and pleasure craft and people like us who love to dip back in time. If you find yourself near Newport, don’t miss it.
May 12, 2011
Yesterday was cold and windy in the morning and rained hard most of the afternoon. We decided to tuck in, watch a movie and for me, catch up on e-mails, some small housekeeping chores and play on the computer. Some trivia I saved for a rainy day:
There have been so many earthquakes and storms of late. But, the deadliest earthquake occurred on Jan. 23, 1556 in central China. In that area, most people lived in caves carved from soft rock. In fact, when I visited China in 2007, we viewed a cave residence. Cave dwelling is still popular in some parts of China. But, that earthquake killed an estimated 830,000 people as the mountain crumbled.
Did you know the term sarcophagus means flesh eater? I didn’t either. It is the name Greeks gave a special marble found in Asia Minor near ancient Troy and was used in caskets. The marble, so goes the lore, had the power to destroy the entire body except the teeth within a few weeks. Makes you wonder who “determined” that bit of nonsense. I have a ceramic sarcophagus in my living room that I dearly love. Of course, it’s a work of art.
Before porcelain teeth were perfected in the 19th century, dentures were commonly made with teeth pulled from the mouths of dead soldiers. After the U.S. Civil War, teeth were shipped to dentists in England by the barrel full. I didn’t know that. Yuk!I thought false teeth were made of wood.
On a more fun note, the Brooklyn Dodgers were named the Dodgers after the local folks ability to dodge trolley cars. They were called trolley dodgers.
Late, about five, we finally got out for a walk to stretch our legs and breathe the fresh, clean air.
This park has Frisbee golf, something I’d never seen nor heard of.
This is what a “hole” looks like. It also looks like fun. Jim said he used to have a frisbee but he doesn’t know what happened to it.
Horse tail was poking up between the rocks on the bank of a creek.
Liatris is a water lover and grows lush here. I have it at home and it struggles on woody stems and crawls tight to the soil in our hot sun. Even so, its beautiful.
We had a nice hot pea soup for dinner last night and expect to get out and about today, weather be damned.
May 10, 2011
Where we are parked is near the north end of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Its interesting topography, with sand and wind formed plants. Low bushes looked carved; tough grasses sway with the wind and hold the soil. Swampy salt marshes mingle with dunes. Much of the area is over burdened with the invasive Scotch Broom again. Here it is absolutely monstrous in spots, showing the effect it has on crowding native plants. It doesn’t detract from its beauty, though.
We hiked up to the top of one dune. It’s still cold enough to discourage swimmers.
We drove to the South Jetty area and hiked out to watch a guy wind surfing.
By the time we got close enough to take a picture, he was out of the water with his loyal dog nearby.
Various views reminded me of picture post cards.
Then we went to town for an early dinner at the Waterfront Depot and the “promised” good food. Not disappointed. The crab encrusted halibut in a cream sauce with a caesar salad was every bit has wonderful as promised. The sauce wasn’t overly rich and dependent on gobs of butter. It had a slight tang and sweetness that was new to me. For appetizers Jim and I shared steamer clams and mussels in a garlic butter broth with bits of fresh tomato and parsley. Again, the butter was reserved rather than overpowering. They have an extensive wine list, and good beers as well. Desert lovers praised deserts here and our waiter tempted us with a thin slice of a Mexican chocolate cake, but we managed to resist.
The menu changes depending on what fish is in season, but I saw an order of ossa busso come out of the kitchen and regretted that we would not be spending another night here. The entire menu, by the way, is on the chalk board. You can click on it to enlarge it.
From our window seat in the restaurant, we could see these kids playing in the sand and water. The cold never daunts kids. They just go for it. In a sense, that is what I’m doing with my life right now. Seeking nature, and changing places. I’m glad I’m not sitting in front of a television in my warm comfortable house cursing the news.
I took 35 pictures that can be seen at:https://picasaweb.google.com/106530979158681190260/201159DunesWaterfrontDepot#
March 1, 2011
Does it make sense to have a door where you must warn people who may inadvertently touch it? I’ve extolled the virtues of staying at this beautiful resort in Palm Springs, and the weather here is cool and nice. But it puzzles me why anyone would choose a metal door when cool and nice are only winter temperatures. The summers here are brutal. So brutal, this park closes from mid-May to mid Sept.
Another sign I noticed at the lodge is this newspaper rack with the above sign. I can’t say I understand the sign and why the rack is on vacation. Maybe it is a local paper and they haven’t caught up with the returning snow birds yet? It beats me. And then there is all the asphalt parking lots around town without a shade tree in sight. Makes me wonder how the year round population copes.
Since I have family in Las Vegas, I know that people stay inside in their air conditioned cubicles and venture from house to the pool if they are lucky enough to have one. Also, in Vegas, a special type of asphalt that is cool to the touch in even the hottest temperatures are required by law so that children can’t burn themselves on playgrounds. Makes me wonder if they use it around here?
Its been another day of morning walk, morning hot tub, and resting Jim’s cold and reading. My arm has improved dramatically using the hot tub.
Most of the snowbirds are headed for Borego Anzo for a big pot luck and feed. The featured food is the current southwest rage called a Sonoran Hot Dog. Its a Mexican import that now has many stands in Tuscson and other places in Arizona. I looked it up on line. Its a hot dog in a steamed botillo roll, or a regular soft bun of any sort. It is grilled with bacon, covered in warmed pinto beans and chopped tomatoes, onions, cheese and jalapeno peppers are added along with a long list of possibilities including roasted green onions and pineapple. I looked up a recipe online and tried a version for supper last night. It was good, but I’ll have to try an official version because praise for them is overwhelming. Let me know if you find the secret. I love finding niche food.
February 21, 2011
The kids played. (Their parents are friends of Ken and Laurie’s)
We enjoyed good food and conversation with Kelly and Jeff, the parents, and,Mike. Everybody had a good time with good eats.
And, we said our goodbyes. Jeff, wrote and played a song about Walmart, and their 39 hour work week so they don’t have to pay any benefits to their employees while buying all their shoddy goods from China, including produce, in some cases.
Unfortunately, my battery went out before the video was complete, so this is but a short sample.
It was a great to be able to spend several weeks in Las Vegas, spend time with family, and get my new computer off the ground. Today, we are headed for Palm Springs.
February 19, 2011
I’ve owned a computer since 1983. You’d think by now, I’d be quite knowledgeable about computers. Nyet! It doesn’t work that way.
Being a writer, I used it like a typewriter. I never put fancy scrolls around my Christmas letter, nor included pictures, or made a column…nothing- just typed. To type and correct errors without getting out the eraser and, later, the fabulous product, Whiteout? Yahoo! Like throwing away the iron when perma press came on the market!
For what I paid for my Commodore 64, I could buy three far superior computers today. Who would ever have thought one would need more megabytes than 64?
Hah! Fast forward to 2011. Now, I depend on that little black box and I use it every day. It functions like a phone, a camera, a typewriter, a video producer; it brings me music, entertainment, and laughter. The list goes on and keeps increasing. The catch is, they have to work efficiently.
I bought a new computer Dec. 7th and hadn’t been able to use it. It came without an email program and without many of the basics operating software we’ve become used to. It took my partner 6 hours to download an email program that I hated.
Enter computer genius Sam Valapp. First, he reconfigured my machine and customized it by loading my old program from my dying computer and added some new things. Then, he returned yesterday and got my web-cam and power point to work. When I asked him what type of computer he uses, he told Jim and I that he bought parts and built his own. Now that, my friends, takes genius. I’m sure there are others like Sam, but he came to the door, took the computer away and returned it like a new born baby. Ahh. I am a happy camper.
If you live in the Vegas area, I gotta tell you, Sam’s the man: www.computerhighland.com
Just give him a call at 702-415-9996.