Friday, September 16, 2011

Like a Hawk

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Off and on for quite while, I had grieved over our loss of Betty. For a little history of Betty, see the Bitchin' Betty post. Finally, another hawk appears to have taken official ownership of Betty's perch on our roof. This fellow is big, aggressive, and appears rather young. Just this morning, I watched him drive another hawk of "his" fence south of the house. Yes, it seems this fine-feathered friend of ours has declared our fence his territory and that effectively makes the large open space west of our house his hunting ground.

Later, when I took this photograph, the hawk sat on the roof occasionally showing me those yellow eyes that you don't forget once you look into them. Periodically, he calmly checked on me, uttering that "guh-runk" I had never heard. If this fellow had let rip one of the shrieks for which these the Red- tailed Hawks are famous, I would have immediately abandoned my post. There is a reason that movie makers almost always use the screech of these hawks when they want any sort of raptor to curdle blood.

In spite of some interest in keeping track of me, this hawk was mostly attentive to signs of movement in the grass below. Eventually, when he flew away, he soared all the way to the edge of the road. That means his prey was at least one hundred yards away. Makes you think about that phrase watching like hawk.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Puppy Dogs and Flowers

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A couple of days ago, I recklessly promised photos of dogs and flowers to balance all the angst and drama around here. Still feeling a bit lazy, I thought I would see if I could get away with a cheat and combine the two.

As I have mentioned previously, Galen loves to perch on benches. If I hadn't met the dam and sire, I might wonder about our dog's heritage. Never in my life have I had a dog who so loves to perch on benches even the bedroom window seat for a good view. Heck, given an opportunity, he moves from the window seat to the window sill.

One day while hanging out by my rocking chair—no doubt lulled by the clicking of the virtual keyboard in my lap, our pup suddenly succumbed to an ill-advised impulse to leap up on the windowsill beside us. There is no window seat in the living room; but, I suppose, in that tiny doggy brain, he thought such a convenience was superfluous. Needless to say, I was yanked to attention by a crash on my left and the sight of a rather stunned looking pup scrambling to his feet.

In the bedroom, transitioning from the window seat to the sill is a piece of cake. Still, as you form your mental image of this maneuver, keep in mind that Galen is not one of those tiny, delicate Shelties. He is one of the "big boys" from the litter—just over the limit for showing. That, of course, broke our hearts. Such plans we had for the little one. Dreams dashed before he fully matured. I hope you realize that the last part was written with tongue firmly planted in cheek. We bought him with full intention of loving and reveling in being loved. We needed no more. It was a wise investment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Still Here and Smiling Now

I am late with this and have no energy for an ambitious post, but wanted to thank all for the encouraging words. We never saw the fire in the valley. It was over the western ridge. But the ridge isn't far away; the smoke was a nasty reminder; and, what news we could get was not comforting. Waiting and watching, searching for updates with details—all were less than entertaining. Having always had a healthy respect for firefighters and a much more personal sense of the role they play in my life since living in southern California, my respect for these people has grown another notch.

The Comanche complex (four smaller fires that came together) is largely contained as of 8:00 AM, today. I found these facts interesting and thought I would share them. This complex was tamed by 35 crews utilizing 30 bulldozers and 136 engines. A total of 1586 people faced the four fires and won. By the time the smoke had begun to clear, 30,000 acres were devastated by the Comanche complex alone.

Here are my favorite facts: All evacuation orders have been lifted in the Tehachapi area; full containment is expected by September 15; injuries—0; structures destroyed—0.

Galen was sick during the night. It would seem that he picked up on the "local" anxiety. He seems quite cheerful now. By tomorrow, I should be ready for puppy stories and gardening tips-or something in that general neighborhood.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where There's Smoke or If it Ain't One Thing....

No, it isn't a damp, foggy afternoon in sleepy little Bear Valley Springs. That haze is smoke from the Comanche fire to the west of us. This one has razed 15,000 acres already and, at 2:30 PM, it was 30% contained. We thought it had been wrapped up last night, but no such luck. By 10 PM last night, there were 50 fires burning in Kern County. Today, several are 80% contained, some 30%, and many we can't find figures on. The wind in our vally is still ESE, blowing against the fire. But, a few miles the other side of the ridge, the wind comes from the west. Tonight the wind here is supposed to switch around and come from the west. There wasn't much rain in our immediate area last night unfortunately, but the forecast offers hope once again: 30% chance of showers, tonight.

We are on Bear Valley Road and this afternoon I have watched bulldozers being hauled in, and fire engines rolling out with sirens blasting. Still, because I am not your intrepid reporter from channel whatever, I took this from the shelter on the safe side of my bathroom window. I am already breathing my allotment of smoke. You deserve a better photo since I chatter on about this, but chalk it up to lazy reporting. Hey, I am still worth every penny of my salary.

The Husband has sprinklers soaking the west side of the house. He is taking another load of lumber scraps to the dump. Is his work more than likely unnecessary? Yes. But, he takes this fire business seriously. (Not that I don't.) Not long after we met, many years ago, he faced a fire in Malibu Canyon fighting to save a house he had in the non-chic part of Malibu. More recently, he returned to help a friend and trailered horses out of that canyon during yet another fire—one that roared right down to the Pacific Coast Highway. He stood, on the beach, with horse owners trying to soothe their nervous and exhausted animals, while the flames danced just across 5 lanes of asphalt. He is not a man to take this lightly.

We hope our listeners will tune in the next few days for the latest on cute dogs and photos of flowers. Fashion stories and fishing news may be delayed, but we are looking forward to a moratorium on drama. Maybe a feature on square dancing, or a documentary on the latest Zumba workout videos. Sorry. No film at eleven.

While I was proofing this, it began to rain. It is the most beautiful rain I have ever seen. If I could be tap dancing, I would out be there dancing and singing in that rain. The sun is still shining, so it will be a brief shower, but this stuff is wet! Wahoo!