Tuesday, April 21


I figure that by tomorrow, this lamp will be toast. Yes, this morning I forgot once again that the pointy end of our weed trimmer is a lot stronger than glass. Again I was wearing a hat, so no blood was lost as I heard the now-too-familiar sound of breaking glass overhead. The worst part of this all is that I have to go grubbing around in a ten to twelve-foot (3 to 3.5 m) area picking up bits of lamp glass, then sweep it all into a heap for disposal. Some of the glass is in the soil of the nearby driveway. Some of it goes sliding under the stairway. So it takes a lot of searching to get it all.

I am writing this as I wait for the trimmer's battery to recharge. It looks like there will be another three or four days or more of trimming to ready the place for summer wildfires. I am sure that by then this lamp will be history. Looking on the IKEA Web site, I have found the lamp's successor. It will be loaded with an LED bulb, too. I figure that even if I smash the bulb's glass outer shell, it will still work.

I think.

Monday, April 20

We lucked out

I folded up the two work tables in our dining area so we could take them up the road for tomorrow's roundup. As I swept the floor, I recalled the time we laid the tile and the fear that we wouldn't have enough to finish the job.

We had bought the tile decades ago for another project, but ended up not using it. It looked like there was enough, so without counting the pieces we started the job. The pile was getting smaller as time went on, so we took one of the tiles to the tile store in Fresno where we had bought oodles of other stuff. We wanted to be sure we could buy more if we needed to.

"Nope, they don't make that anymore," the tile guy told us. Uh oh.

For some crazy reason which I can't recall, simply counting the remaining tiles wouldn't give us the information we needed to assure a complete job. We sweated it out as the job went on, and any cuts I had to make were done with absolute accuracy so there wouldn't be any mistakes. As we laid the last tile, I checked the "tile pile" and saw that along with cutoff waste there was one whole tile left. ONE!

We lucked out.

Morning view

This morning when I looked out the bedroom window, a big gorgeous oak tree got my attention. These trees have worked out a way to stay alive even during drought times.

There is a patch of five—count 'em, FIVE!—digger pines* along the road. All are dead, offering themselves up to be processed into firewood. Unfortunately all five are situated so that when they fall, they take out several hundred yards (several hundred meters) of wire fence. At least the fence is wire, not wood.

As the picture shows, the grasses and forbs are drying out. Soon they will become nothing more than a huge fire hazard, so my days will be spent clearing at least a hundred feet (30.5 meters) around the house, then around the garage, then around the solar array. At least it gives me a chance to give our new trimmer a workout, after which we will put it away in the garage and replace the hanging globe lamp on the back porch with something more crash-resistant.

*Also called bull pines or gray pines. Scientific-minded folk call them Pinus sabiniana Dougl, but who pays attention to those guys?

Sunday, April 19

3-Gal Sal

For the roundup, we need vittles. One special treat every year is Karla's scrumptious potato salad. Here's how she whips up three gallons (11 liters).
First, cook and chop all the parts
Build it up a layer at a time. Add all the parts, but only maybe twenty percent per layer

Stir each layer up real good

Add whatever needs to be to make it perfect, then…

…bag it up for the fridge! Cool for a couple of days before serving to hungry guests
There you have it. It takes the better part of a day, but hey—who's counting? Let's eat!

“Breaking” it in

A couple of days ago we bought a new weed trimmer made by Echo. While we were looking at the display of 58-volt tools, the store manager came by and filled us in on their advantages. He said The Home Depot store managers gathered in Las Vegas (tough duty, I’ll wager)* where the Echo company extolled the new line of tools' virtues, so he really gave us the  pitch. Mostly it comes down to power and duration of charge.

 So far I’ve put in over two hours of continuous use with the trimmer, and it still has nearly one-third of a charge remaining. In the photo the four red lights indicate that it's fully charged. In only forty minutes! Slave-driver!  At least with our old gas-powered trimmers, you have to refill the tank after just under two hours, giving you a nice break.

When I go to put the trimmer away on the back porch I carry it vertically. The spinner end is up in the air and has a tendency to hit the hanging lamp. I hit it once yesterday, breaking it a teensy bit. Then I whacked it again today and that did the most damage. Fortunately I was wearing a hat so when the glass came down it landed on the hat. Only one little piece hit my arm and the loss of blood was so tiny even a mosquito would starve if that’s all it got for a meal.

While at the store, Karla spotted the 16-inch (41 cm) chain saw that uses the same battery. “I want it,” she said, complaining about how hard it is to start a gas-powered saw after it’s been unused for months. That idea sounds good, since I can’t remember ever breaking a hanging lamp when putting a chain saw away.

*Get it? Wager, Las Vegas. Heh heh.

I Suggest a Merger

I was tidying up the kitchen sink when I happened to notice the label on the faucet, Moen. I was thinking about the products Moen makes when I remembered that our shower control and spray head are also made by Moen. Since they are in the body cleaning business too, I thought it might be a good idea for them to sell the peripheral products used in bathing. I looked on the Internet for a good candidate and found a company named Delon.

Sounds like an ideal merger—Moen Delon.

Saturday, April 18

Today: Charlotte Is Two

Two whole years! It seems like only yesterday she was born! Oh, wait—it was Elliot who was born last week or so. My bad.
Nice tiara, Kiddo—makes you look like a princess!

Our granddaughter Charlotte enjoyed a large crowd of friends who brought a plethora of gifts which she appreciated very much. Toys, clothes, dolls, a playhouse and the pièce de résistance—a bright pink tricycle from her Mom and Dad. It even has a nice-sounding bell to warn the dogs and cats away as she tears up the road. Actually brother Ben is the road terror since Charlotte will have to grow a bit to reach the pedals. Next winter she'll be the one to watch.

A good time was had by all, and the ice cream cake she's eating here was a hit with all of us.

Friday, April 17

Interesting road

This morning Karla and I took off for Fresno to do some shopping. Next Tuesday we will have a whole bunch of people over for our annual roundup. There could be twenty-five or more people here, some of whom are actually going to be useful in handling the horses. Lots of them are spectators and diners who like the spread we will lay out for lunch. Just the meat, a humongous takes-two-hands-to-carry tri-tip cost way over a hundred bucks since cow meat is getting pretty pricey these days due to the lack of water to grow their feed.

We were going to buy a carful of stuff, so we took the Highlander since it is way more capacious than the Prius. Also, the Prius won't hold boards that are nine feet (275 cm) long. Turns out our doors-to-be inside the house are way bigger than normal doors and the normal frames we bought are short.

Anyway, we hit up Costco for most of the food and bought a whole boatload of sodas and beer. Then we bought a whole 'nother buncha stuff and ended up filling the car to the gunwales. (Does anyone know how to pronounce gunwales? It's gunnels. Impress your friends with this tidbit of nautical knowledge, courtesy of your faithful blogger and former navy sailor, Tommy.)

On the way to Fresno this morning, I got the usual Toyota-seat pains in the butt and right leg. We've had four or five of those cars, and the seats in every one of them aggravates at least some of my nerves and I have to stop, get out, and walk around to rid myself of the pain. While I was out, I took a few iPhone pictures of the pavement. They accompany this article, and are for your pleasure and contemplation.


Thursday, April 16

Number 1301

I just noticed that my last post was number 1300. Whether that means anything I've yet to find out. Thirteen isn't necessarily my lucky number. Neither is hundred. Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with luck at all, but rather perseverance. I took a very long break of over a year then got back to writing an average of an entry per day. Guess I'll keep it up and see what comes of it. Unless I run out of things to say. Yeah, right. Fat chance.

We also like orange

In my previous post, I mentioned that we tend to use green for an accent color in our new house. Several minutes later, I went to the kitchen to make a cuppa, and noticed that in the adjacent living room there were some orange accents. Oh, yeah, orange—I forgot.

Like the little table next to the recliner. Photography can't capture the brilliance of that thing; it's positively fluorescent, the color used to get your attention. Like a highway worker's vest. We have another identical table next to another chair. A subtler orange is on a high stool we're using as a plant stand.

But we also have a whole bunch of green plastic lawn chairs scattered throughout the house. Nice bright green. At first we bought them to fill empty places where we needed chairs, intending to replace them later with "proper" indoor chairs. Over time we came to like the lawn chairs so much we're going to keep them as indoor chairs. Besides, we have almost a dozen of them, so why not?

Toss a pillow on one of those chairs and it's transformed into a luxury item, comfort-wise. Spend our money on something that's important instead, like window and door trimming, baseboard, and the like.


After only 2,300 years, the dripless candle has come to be. I remember reading about how this miracle could be accomplished by simply using a harder wax on the outside of the candle. The heat from the flame melts the softer wax of the interior, while the further-away outside wax still holds its shape. It sounded so simple, but nobody seemed to make candles that way. Feeble attempts gave us candles that dripped less, but weren't truly dripless.

Until, of course, IKEA came along. The last time we were at the Sacramento store, we bought a box of green candles. (Somehow, we seem to be using the color green to accent things in our new house.) We burn a candle during all of our meals every day, so we go through a lot of them and really appreciate dripless ones since they make it easier to keep the candle holder nice and clean.

So remember when buying candles to get ones with harder outside wax. How you determine that before purchase I don't know. Simplify things by going to IKEA. Their stuff works.

Sunday, April 12

Don't bother us, Grampa…

Ben and Charlotte dive into yogurt and blueberries at their favorite table.

Our prep/dining table in the kitchen is one they really love because the chairs are way high off the floor and there's room for only two of them. Luke had some star thistle to get rid of on our place, and some lumber to pick up that was left over from our deck and front staircase. Ben and Charlotte love to go on short trips around the acreage, and they also love to see what Grandma has cooked up as a snack.

And of course we welcome them all whenever they can come down for a spell.

Drought? Bah!

What's all this talk about drought? You'd be hard pressed to prove it around here! On our morning walk, we passed this profusion of spring flowers, proving that at least in some places there is no drought at all. I guess that where there's northern exposure and fairly tall cliffiness, profusion profuses prominently, purposefully, and purty.