Sunday, July 26

Not-so-nearby wildfire

There is a wildfire a few miles from our place, over between Bass Lake and North Fork. We get only two things from a fire that far away: smoke and overflying water-dropping planes. This morning we were alerted to the relatively new sound of a Boeing 727* jet aircraft with a red belly. It made a turn right near our house to line up with its drop zone, and I tried to get a picture of it. Having only my iPhone as a camera, I was thwarted from getting the aircraft’s tail number and couldn’t even see if the pilot was wearing his Foster Grants.

So, since the plane was so tiny in the overall picture, I am substituting another iPhone picture I took a little later. It’s Karla walking down the hill from the water tank at our old place. She was checking to see how full it was so we could figure how long to run the pump to fill it.

I’ll take looking at a picture of Karla over some ol’ airplane picture any day.

*My dentist corrected me today. He says it's a DC-10.

Saturday, July 25

Just sayin'

There was a wreck on Highway 41 south of Oakhurst Friday morning. We heard about it on the radio pretty early, and figured it would be cleared up by the time we got to that area on our way to Fresno. An hour and a half later we arrived at the tail end of stopped traffic just up the hill from Oakhurst. The wreck was still there and hadn’t been cleared even a little bit. So we were parked for about 20 minutes till we were allowed to creep up the hill and pass the mess.

While stopped, I studied a traffic sign and wondered about two things: why is the word BY in a smaller size than the rest, and the word RADAR is spelled backward.

Go figure.

Saturday, July 18

Wow. Eleven whole days…

I just realized that I haven't posted anything for almost a week and a half. Sorry. I know some of you expect to see new stuff every couple of days or so. It's not that I've been especially busy, although I did have a raging toothache a couple of Fridays ago. Doesn't that always happen? The dentist goes home Friday afternoon so that's my cue to get a toothache. But after almost seventeen years of dealing with the same dentist and his great staff, I'm not likely to shop around for someone else.

I have done so much business with this one dentist in Mariposa that he actually gave me a free tooth. It was a central incisor the color of which he didn't agree since he had installed a cap on an adjacent tooth. "Please let me replace that one, Tom," he almost pleaded. Also, he and I were students in Merced learning how to fly an airplane several years ago. I was actually doing it for Hilary since she was being home schooled and I couldn't seem to get her interested in science. Learning to fly makes you use lots of math and a pretty good smidgen of science, and it worked for her really well. Out of a class of, what—fifteen students?—she got the top grade on the FAA exam. (Better than my grade for what that's worth.)

Today Karla and I will be hanging an outdoor shade for an east-facing window in "my" office/den. The morning sun comes blasting into the room now, and it's almost unoccupyable (is that a word?) for at least a couple of hours every morning. We will then be re-potting a bunch of plants we have on our covered deck on the south of the house, and sticking a bunch of drought-resistant agaves in the ground to the south. And more.

I promise to write more often. (Yeah, right!)

Tuesday, July 7

Pump it, don’t squeeze it

Many years ago, like maybe 20 or so, I decided that dispensing dish detergent by squeezing the bottle was wasteful. It also lacked repeatability of the amount squozen. So in the interest of frugality and accuracy, I saved the pump from an old shampoo bottle and attached it to the dish soap bottle. Over the intervening years, I have found that one-and-a-half pumps dispenses just the right amount of detergent to wash dishes for two.

I am almost certain the dish detergent makers and sellers will despise my idea; after all, I am sabotaging their income. Imagine this scenario—it’s the FIFTEENTH TIME IN A ROW that you get dishwashing duty and you’re ANGRY. You pick up the old, unmodified bottle and squeeze it like it’s your spouse/partner’s neck, pouring way too much detergent into the dishpan. The soap-maker’s face brightens as he/she sees more money pouring down your drain, and more profit pouring into his/her pockets.

So now you know why I lock all the house doors after dusk; these guys are after me, I’m sure. Excuse me for now, I’ve gotta go take my paranoia meds.

Wednesday, July 1

Power bill: $9.81

Free power? Hah! Today I dumped almost nine whole gallons (34 liters) of distilled water into our 40 house-powering batteries. Good grief! It seems I have to do this at least twice a year! And we all thought solar power was free? Hah!

Sunday, June 28

Thanks, guys

Karla is brushing Little Bear’s tail. She already did Mick’s, and will finish off by giving both horses a complete brush-down. This happens every morning, usually around sunrise before it starts getting hot.

These two horses are staying on our 40 acres, while another six or so are up the hill on the 525 acres foraging for themselves on this year’s abundant wild grasses and forbs. (Ooh—forbs. betcha didn’t know that term, eh? Stick around and you just may learn a thing or two.)

All the rest of the horses are in the high country where the grasses are still green on the meadows. These two horses are being given their time off for good behavior. They hauled lots of gear and guests at the Muir Trail Ranch during their careers, and deserve the very best care and loving attention to their needs till they pass away. We treat all our horses and mules that way—it’s only fair.

Oh Me Oh My

Way back in the early 1960s I was driving my Austin Healy Sprite, with the top down, in downtown Fresno. The radio was on, and at the top of the hour they announced that the temperature was a record—110° in downtown! That’s 43,3° Celsius for those Down Under and Across the Pond. And, by the way, just about everywhere else!

So the accompanying picture here isn’t too spectacular in the light of history, but I thought since it brought back a flood of memories I would share with you. Wait till July and August when it really starts to get hot around here. More to come, I’m sure.

Tuesday, June 23

Who needs these tags?

Yesterday we bought four new washcloths and face towels. Nice price at Costco, and very good quality. One thing I don’t like about the towels though—the stupid tags.

Tags are stiff no matter how many times you wash them. They’re too big also, about the size of a matchbook, and thick because they’re folded over. Everything you don’t want to know about a washcloth is outlined on the back of the tag, like—

Wash before use. Duh. I always wash before use.
Machine wash warm, normal cycle. Good grief, who doesn’t know that?
Tumble dry low. Of course!
Use detergent without optical brightening agents. So what’s my recourse? Use aural brightening agents?
Avoid fabric softeners. I like the rough feeling of a towel and a washcloth anyway.
Wash dark colors separately. Hey, people, these things are white!
Do not bleach. What?—and leave them dingy-looking?
And finally, Do not dry clean. Oh sure—like I’m going to take these in with my tuxedoes and gowns? And all those instructions are in three languages!

I’m sure they could have included more caveats, like Do not eat, Do not toss out of the car if on fire, Do not try to bring to life using magic incantations unless you are really really lonely.

Oh well, I carefully clipped the tags off as close as I could without cutting the fabric. I halfways hope I can find a use for them.