Monday, November 30, 2020

I'll Have PIE

 It's been rather chilly around here in the mornings.  30-32 degrees, meaning there's no more outside morning coffee and I have to chip the ice from my kitchen faucet.  I've been heating my house a tad in the mornings with the fireplace.  Yes it's cold ... put on a coat.  I'm too cheap to pay that ridiculous PG&E bill.

That can make baking difficult because things need to be at room temperature ... like cream cheese and butter.  It's at room temperature alright, 60 degrees.  So here you see my cream cheese getting to "room temperature".

Why do I need cream cheese?  The non-bakers can skip on down the page if you like, but this is the best pumpkin "pie" I've ever had.  I included the recipe, it's that good.

Here's the secret to the best graham cracker crust I've ever made.  Use 2/3 graham crackers and 1/3 gingersnap cookies.  It was just a fluke because I didn't have enough crackers.  What a world of difference that made in the taste. 


 Press it into a deep dish pie plate.  Here's where I went a little off the track.  It says to take one cup of filling and place it in the bottom first (the white layer), then mix in the pumpkin and spices with what's left for the top layer.  One cup was not enough.  My bottom later was pretty skimpy.

I baked it in my Breville oven for 40 minutes.  Does this not look wonderful?  Here's the best part, it didn't deflate like most of the pies I've cooked over the years. 


 Now comes the BEST PART!!!  You take an entire tub of Cool Whip.  No, you can't see that part in the recipe.  I stole it from ANOTHER recipe for a similar pie.  Cool the pie in the fridge for at least three hours before dumping the ENTIRE tub of cool whip onto the pie.  Make it pretty.

For demonstration purposes, I just lobbed on a huge scoop.  It takes me a week to eat this much pie and the cool whip would become yucky.  It doesn't last you know ... cool whip needs to be eaten up rather fast, thus the HUGE glob of white on this and every piece I've eaten so far.  I wouldn't want that cool whip to go bad.  I would take this over pumpkin pie any day of the week!!

 About the time it came out of the oven, that dreaded BEEP noise began.  Beep ......... Beep ....... scaring the puppies into a panic.  I don't know what it is about that sound.  I drug the ladder out of the garage and went in search of the ghosty.  

I finally found it in the living room ... one I didn't even know existed.  It took some work to get the battery out, but amazingly, it's one I have not changed since I moved in here ten years ago.  How could that be?  I guess they don't make batteries like they used to.

 On the way back to the garage, I found another problem.  One of my outside lights has actually fallen to the ground.  The socket is still hanging, but everything else was on the concrete.  I tried a quick fix, but being perched on top of a 10 foot ladder trying to force the cover over the socket wasn't working at all.  How in the world did it ever come out of the cover?

With no place to tie a rope to ensure I didn't fall off, I let it go for now.  I guess a trip to Home Depot is in order.

Lastly .... you knew this was coming.  After four days, I took a quick trip out to the back fence to see if any wayward skunks had returned.  Well OF COURSE they had.  There were four huge fresh holes dug and the one I covered up was now a freeway.

The trap has again been set.  Big sigh.  I'm feeling rather defeated!!  Maybe another big piece of pie will help. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

What's For Lunch Mr. Hawk?

 I checked my Mickey Mouse watch first thing in the morning.  There is one slight problem ... you can't see it in the dark.  It might have helped if Mickey had glow-in-the-dark hands, but even his white gloves don't show up.  Turns out it was 3:45.  That's 2:45 to California folks.  

Once awake, there's no going back to sleep, so I got up.  It was a 2-cup-o-Joe morning.  That got my brain to working on the watch upgrade problem.  If I'm really really lucky, I think I have it solved.  

 The Elks Lodge has WiFi.  I might possibly even talk them into using the "special" one with no traffic.  I can sit and have lunch, even the liquid variety if I wish, without sitting in the flower bed.  If it takes six hours, I can even sack out in the back room.  

In the meantime, as I hit the fridge for the umpteenth time, I spotted this guy sitting on my fence again.  He comes back every year about this time, so the lunch menu must be a good one.  I finally stuck my longest lens on the camera and lugged it outside.  

Still not the best of images ... he's a very long ways away up in a tree and I'm holding the camera against the stone pillar.  What a beauty.

 He flew down to the fence and sat watching for several minutes.  In a flash, he took off in a downward dive and landed in my corral.  I've no idea what's there except ants and skunk holes.  Wouldn't it be cool if he got a skunk?  Hahahaha

I know, no way, but it's a nice thought.  He came back up to the fence with his prize.  What's for lunch?  Whatever it was, it was too tiny for me to see.  I'm thinking maybe a lizard?  He took about three bites and it was gone. 

You looking at me???? 

 In a flash, he was gone, back to his perch in the tallest tree.  In no time however, I had another visitor.  Isn't he a beauty too?  This is the baby that got caught in my skunk trap.  Very smart kitty kitty this one.  He ate all the food I placed AROUND the trap, even some inside, but he NEVER stepped on that trip plate again.  We had a stare down for about ten minutes!!

 For MY lunch, I picked another Every Plate recipe ... a simple hamburger.  Kind of boring really, and I skipped the accompanying roasted carrots.  Let me just say this was one of the best burgers I've ever had with the simplest of ingredients.  

Salt and pepper, fry the burger.  Mix mayo up with a tad bit of wasabi.  I would NEVER buy that hotter-than-fire condiment, nor even THINK about putting it on a burger, but it was the best thing I ever did.  

Add to that a heaping clump of carmelized onions with the tiniest bit of sugar ... I'm not kidding, I could have eaten FOUR of these!!!  I bet it was much better than what the hawk had for lunch!!

 Now for some exceptional dessert ... flan.  It's one of my favorites, but I don't make it much due to the size the recipe creates.  Wait ... I found a recipe for Instant Pot flan ... meaning it was a much smaller pan.  I think I rather overdid the caramel part.  It was beautiful, but maybe a bit beyond burnt.

I thought the 14 minute cook time was a little long, but did just as the directions told me.  The hardest part was letting it cool in the fridge for 3 hours.  

At last my magnificent dessert was ready!!  I flipped it over to the plate.  Nothing.  I gently tapped the bottom.  Nothing.  Pretty soon I was slamming it on the counter, trying to get it OUT of the pan.  At last it fell, just as I was lifting the pan, causing the sauce to splatter all over my kitchen.  Great ... and it's pure sugar ... a gooey mess to clean up.

No matter ... I'm ready for the taste test.  It should be soft and pillowy.  It was so dense I had to cut it with a knife.  Really?  It didn't even TASTE like flan.  It was like chewing on one of Cooper's rubber play toys.  Where's my shovel!!!  This is NOT a picture of my flan.  It didn't even last long enough to get one.

 It died a horrible death as I slammed it into the hole in the corral.  So much for flan!!   Hmmmm maybe that's what the skunks have been after!!  

Better luck next time honey!!  Leftover Halloween candy was dessert.


Saturday, November 28, 2020


 I don't know why they call it that.  It has always sounded ominous to me ... like witches, black magic and dead people.  Apparently it inspires others to spend all their money on "bargains" like a computer they marked up 100% then sold for 50% off.  

I knew it was probably a bad day to go looking for a computer and to get my apple watch fixed, but hey ... I'm always up for a madhouse adventure.  After all, I had an appointment.  I figured everyone would be at Walmart anyway, NOT the Apple Store where they have absolutely NO discounts of any kind.

This image above is what I was looking for.  It's a MacBook Pro laptop computer.  I've had two over the last 14 years, which in computerworld isn't bad.  The best part is I've never had one single problem with them as I downloaded and worked on literally thousands of photos.  

My problem comes from the Photoshop people who decided not to sell their product any more, but to stick it up in the clouds for you to download, whereupon they can charge you $15 a month for life.  Talk about a cash cow!!  If I update my computer, I lose Photoshop.  If I DON'T update my computer,  I lose all my online banking sites.  Maybe the solution is to have TWO computers. 

 The other reason for going is to try and get my Apple watch updated.  I didn't have to purchase a new phone because I finally got it up to par.  The watch is another story altogether.  It now won't work at all unless it's updated, but the update now says it will take THREE DAYS!!  SO ... I was off to the Apple Store on the worst day of the year.

 I'm happy to say everyone is following the excellent example set by our esteemed Governor who not only went out, but met with families at a big party, did not wear a mask, shook hands and ate in a restaurant with many folks he is not related to.  I guess Newsom forgot to look for the cameras.  

Not only that, but almost the entire legislature of California traveled to HAWAII for "meetings".  What was that about staying home?  Obviously the GUIDELINES only apply to us peons and not the politicians.  Or maybe they know something we DON'T about Rona!!

Traffic was pretty heavy with the construction work going on.  I'm pretty sure our little town is the last one getting a remodel on it's asphalt that would shake your teeth loose.  You might want to take an alternate route for the next two years.

Luckily I found a parking spot because the huge mall was packed to the brim with cars.  What used to be Macy's turned Forever 21 is now in the process of becoming the biggest furniture store with the cheapest furniture.  At least it's not another Dollar Store.

First let me say don't waste your time making an appointment.  When I arrived, I had to wait in line for ten minutes to get up to the point of speaking to a person.  I was supposed to answer seven questions, which I did with one "NO" before they took my temperature.  I was then stuck in ANOTHER line.  

I finally asked the eight people in front of me if they had appointments, and they all said NO, they just walked up.  Wait .... I had an appointment and I have to wait in line behind all these people who just walked up?  As one person walked out of the store, they let one in.  I could feel my blood pressure rising and the headache coming on.

I'll skip all the computereze talk.  I had printed out exactly what I wanted and it was available, but of course I had to order it online.  Here's the latest and greatest BAD news for practically everyone.  You know those USB connections you have?  They are all going away.  The industry has decided to go to something that looks like this called a USB-C.  If you never need another device, you won't have to worry.  For me, it causes problems.

The new computers are coming out with this type of connection ONLY.  I can't download photos, plug in my phone, use my printer or use any other cable unless it has a USB-C connector, which of course they do not.

 I have no idea if Windows computers are going this same direction, but I wouldn't be surprised.  Can you just imagine how many people will have to buy new printers, new cameras, new everything just so they can plug in with the latest and greatest USB-C?  What a great marketing pitch to make their sales go up.

For the time being, I purchased this ... a USB-C to USB adapter cable so I can at least plug in my USB camera card reader.  Since my printer works better tethered, it will work for that too.  Isn't technology just grand??  This was $21.00.

 On to the watch.  The guy hooked me up to Apple's WiFi to download the update.  It said two days.  Seriously?  Just then it clicked and said 33 minutes.  "You can't wait inside because we have people waiting to get in" he said.  "You can do this right outside the door".  But wait ... it says I have to keep the watch on the charger the entire time.  

You're not going to believe this ... he took me outside and plugged it in to a receptacle in the flower bed.  Really?  I'm supposed to stand in the shrubs for 30 minutes while this downloads?  In a flash, he was gone and my phone flipped to TWO HOURS to download.  Nancy was not a happy camper!!

I threw the entire thing in my purse and walked off.  What a waste of money this watch was.  Once home, I looked through my entire selection of running and cheap Arizona MarketPlace watches to find something I could wear.  

Elvis wasn't in the building (dead battery on that watch) so I picked up Mickey.  He immediately came to life.  Who knew Mickey Mouse would come to my rescue.  It's powered by movement.  It took a few shakes to get it going, but it works like a charm, amazing since I bought it in 2006 and haven't worn it since.  YOU GO MICKEY!!!

 So ... did I buy the computer?  Yes, yes I did (big sigh).  It's why I worked the Pumpkin Patch.  At least I will be able to see the entire screen.  You see I tripped in Arizona and barely tapped one corner, which caused a big chunk of the screen to be black as night.  It's not fixable.  I could purchase a less expensive Windows model, but have always had trouble with them.  

By the way, as I stood in the flower bed, shopper after shopper came out of the mall loaded down with bags and boxes, staring at me because ... well, I was standing in the flower bed.  Neither Rona nor a hypocritical governor has kept anyone away from Black Friday shopping deals. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Thanksgiving Day

First off, I want to say how thankful I am to have people who read and comment on my blog.  Some days that's what keeps me going.  You also keep me laughing at myself as I try to describe all the daily crazy adventures, even if it only involves a cemetery burial.   I hope your Thanksgiving Day was filled with happiness, family and good friends.

Mine started off with a long walk.  I woke with a headache having been woken up several times by my Hoo-Hoo buddies.  Obviously I'm a light sleeper because their cavorting in the trees out back wakes me up every time.  

Some people, when they don't feel good, get to lay down and they feel better.  I won't get any relief unless I walk a mile or two.  It's just not fair because I'm really good at couch sitting.

There was not much going on except for two peacock escapees hanging around the pens.  These guys are the best watch dogs ever.  We had some on the old ranch in the high desert.  They perch high up in trees and scream every time something comes by, warning all the chickens and turkeys to hide.   Best emergency warning system ever.

Back home I took out the second $10 turkey, determined to make this one taste better.  Since it wasn't going to be Cooper food, I seasoned it up from one end to the other after first cutting off every little extra piece of fat and skin I could find.  I think that was the problem with the other one.

I gathered lots of rosemary from the most fragrant plant I've ever encountered which just happens to live in my back yard, along with stealing half the thyme from the next Every Plate meal.  Into the oven it went.

In the meantime, it's time for some lunch.  These tacos were next on the schedule.  The chicken came in the usual package.  I assumed ... you know what that means ... I would cut the chicken up.  Thank goodness I was holding the bag over the sink, because it all fell out, right into my not-so-clean sink bottom.  Gosh ... how nice of them to cut it up for me!

Well at least it didn't end up on the floor as I washed every little piece and tossed it into the frying pan.  That heat will kill anything, right?  I chopped up the Persian cucumber (who has ever heard of that?) and pickled it with sugar and lime juice.  It just didn't seem too taco-ish but I persevered.

I tossed the bag of cabbage into the cooked chicken and added the sweet chili sauce.  I sure would like to know where they get their tortillas because they were pliable, thin and delicious!!  The drizzle over the top is sour cream with sriracha sauce stirred in.  

The taste test:   It was really good!!!  I'll have to see if I can find some of that sweet chili sauce!!

 All the while making those tacos, I was babysitting the turkey.  I turned the pan around for even browning and cooking maybe four times and basted it with rosemary butter.  Pretty nice, eh???

 I didn't have a mind to make gravy, but when I saw the drippings, I couldn't resist.  With no mashed potato water (what my mother always used) I scrounged up a can of chicken broth from the cupboard.  Okay, I admit it's the saltiest gravy I've ever had, but the flavor was the best I've ever made.

 So here's turkey dinner.  A little leftover broccoli, those leftover Thai noodles and turkey with gravy.  Definitely not your traditional fare, but it actually went together pretty well.  I could have gone the entire mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing route, but knew I would eat WAY too much and be miserable for two days afterward.

I was so full after that piece of pumpkin cheesecake with mounds of whipped cream that I didn't even eat dinner.  I'm still full, but the next recipe for a grilled onion hamburger is calling my name.  

In the meantime, I'm off to the Apple store to talk computers.  Won't THAT be fun!!


Thursday, November 26, 2020


Here's hoping everyone is happy and healthy this Thanksgiving morning.  I have lots to be thankful for .... things like I haven't burned my house down with my cooking adventures ... and I haven't cut any fingers off while cutting up matchstick carrots with a dull knife.   I am VERY thankful for my puppies since they keep me sane.

 The first order of business yesterday, besides making sure there were no black and white creatures slinking around my back yard, was to insulate this water pipe.  They did it right when they built this house as all the plumbing is inside the walls except this one.  That means I have no problem with freezing weather which is now upon us.  

I'm the culprit here since I wanted water to the horse corrals, which of course I don't have a need for now.  Anyway, my last tape job lasted about five years.  This one should be good for awhile too.

When I got back in the house, I heard that little chortle.  It's exactly like a little kid giggling in the bedroom loud enough that you KNOW something is up.  I went straight to the cage, only to find Jonathan GONE!!  Uh oh ... he's in the same house as two dogs better known as gopher killers.  I began the search, giving him the disco disco kitty kitty sweet talk until he finally talked back.

AHA ... there you are!!  These guys are master escape artists.  You cannot leave a regular snap lock on a cage because they will work at it until it's free.  I use alligator clips on the outside, not that it matters, because I actually found it laying on the floor.  Padlocks are a much better solution!!

Why does it matter?  Because parrots are notoriously destructive.  They like to chew big holes in everything they can get their little beaks near, including walls and furniture.  Ask me how I know that!!

When the doorbell rang, I knew it was my latest internet order.  On-line shopping can be dangerous when you can't see or feel what you are buying.  Jonathan was out of raw sunflower seeds, which are not available at my local grocery store.  Weird, right?

I found them online, but there were two sizes.  The bigger bag was such a great bargain ... I should have paid a little more attention.  I couldn't understand the huge box it came in until I removed the bag.  Good grief!!  There's enough nuts here to feed him for three years!!  FIVE POUNDS!!

I divided it up into 5 ziplok bags and stuck it in the freezer.  Anyone have any tasty raw sunflower seed recipes??

I still have some of those Every Plate meals to share with you, but instead I decided to try this one given to me by a friend who has a sister-in-law straight from Thailand.  Why yes, I would love to try these rice noodles with sauce.  Just add in any vegetables you want she said.


Can anyone read those directions?  There aren't even any English subtitles!  I went online to find a suitable recipe.  Here's the thing .... all rice noodles are not alike.  Who knew?  I soaked them for 30 minutes like the recipe said while I chopped and hacked carrots, broccoli, brussell sprouts and peanuts.  

Then I boiled the noodles for two minutes.  That was probably twice as long as needed.  I ended up with a pretty gummy mess.  Undaunted, I stirred in HALF the sauce, only because my friend mentioned they like their food rather hot.  The gummy mess soon turned into a blob of glue in the pan while I tried to stir in the veggies.  

It came out in one big blob on my plate, so unappetizing, I didn't even take a picture.  I grabbed a fork.  That first bite .... well it nearly burned the skin off my tongue.  Mama Mia that's HOT!!!  Like Thai chili hot and I didn't even use the entire package of sauce!! 

It was rather tasty, reminding me of pad thai which I love, so I kept eating.  The burning did subside slightly, but two hours later my lips were still on fire!!  I love my friend but I think next time I'll pass when she offers up some Thai goodness.


I'm off to cook my turkey this morning.  No fancy side dishes.  I'm hoping if I add a little turkey to the remainder of the blobby noodles that it will not be quite so hot. 

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family.  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Why We Can't Have Nice Things

 Gosh, I think I just used up my entire internet allotment for the next month, loading this short video.  It is however, funny to watch and is exactly why we can't have nice things in this house.  This goes on every single day for hours on end.  It's part of the "ball" game.  

Well RATS ... try as I might, I cannot get the video to play.  Maybe you will have better luck.

 So ... on with the downloading saga.  Now that my phone is working ... sort of ... there are a few hiccups ... it was time to hit the road and try to fix my Apple watch.

Here's the problem.  The only internet I have is a small MiFi that looks like this.  I've had it for about ten years now.  Wherever you go, even to Alaska, it connects to Verizon towers and gives me internet access.  

Yes I could go to Starbucks and connect to their WiFi after giving them access to my computer (not a good idea) or even McDonalds.  Those are okay if you are just surfing the internet.  For banking and buying, that's not a very safe option.  

This one is password protected and I never leave it on so someone could hack it and use up all my data.

It just happens that at MY house, the signal is terrible.  That's one reason I'm up at 4:00 every morning when everyone else is sleeping, meaning I get access.  Otherwise I'm out of luck.  Driving down to the Church where the MiFi signal is five times as strong (don't ask me why cuz I have no idea) allows faster download speeds.

I headed off to the church to download the new update for my watch that now doesn't work at all.  I had everything plugged in and charged up.  This is the message I got once I hit the download button.  Yup .. SEVENTEEN hours.  Are you kidding me?  It only took 30 minutes (60 of actual time) to download my entire PHONE update.  

As you can imagine, I didn't sit there long.  I closed everything up and went back home.

I thought a little hot chocolate with a pound of whipped cream might give me some solace.  Don't let those marshmallows fool you.  They are less than 1/8 inch and by the time you stir the hot chocolate, they completely disappear.  Thus the whipped cream!!

What an exciting morning THAT was.  I am happy to say at least there have been no skunk smellings or sightings in the last few days.  Hard to believe that Big Momma was making all those holes by herself, maybe with the help of one baby.  

Today I'm plugging up all the holes I've left open.  If I see any new tunnels under the fence, I'll know to put the trap out again.  In the meantime, I've got water pipes to wrap since the temps are getting down to freezing every night now.

I hope your turkey is already thawed, or better yet, you have reservations at your favorite restaurant.  Order an extra plate to take home for leftovers!!  Thanksgiving is upon us!!


P.S.   I have now looked at my wrist 395 times to see what time it is.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Download

I know we've all had technical problems both with phones and computers, but sometimes I think they are just out to get you.  Don't you just love talking to a guy on the phone who obviously thinks you are an idiot?  It immediately becomes your fault, especially when your WiFi signal is so bad.  Ummm I think that's Verizon towers, NOT me.

When I worked with the IT department, they used to say it was an ID 10 T problem.   Look at that closely and see what it spells.

At any rate, I truly cannot afford both a new computer and a phone.  The phone alone is $939.  If I don't buy it at the Apple store, I lose my 20 plus year old unlimited everything plan.  Yes they do again sell unlimited plans, but they cheat!  If you use too much data, they slow down the rate you can download and upload.

 SO .... stubborn me decided to try and upgrade my phone to iOS 14.  Really, I have no choice because all of my banking apps will not work any more.  That means umpteen trips to town.  As readers recommended, I could go to the Apple store and use THEIR WiFi.  

That's a 45 minute drive one way for me.  Better to put my problem in God's hands and just drive down the street to the Catholic Church.  How appropriate is that?  Maybe I'll have a little help.  Not my picture by the way because I was too busy watching my signal strength. 

I parked right in front and said a little prayer. 

 This is the screen I got.  At first it said 45 minutes, an improvement over the 4 hours at my house.  Then it flipped to 28 minutes and froze ... just like the movie Frozen!!  I wasn't far behind that because it was freezing cold and I didn't want to sit with my truck running the entire time.

 It took 45 minutes to download those 28 minutes.  I'm not sure what clock Apple uses.  I said another prayer hoping the battery lasted long enough.  In no time, my MiFi was hot like a pocket warmer, so I used it to thaw out my hands.

 You can see in the upper right corner of the above picture, I had that much battery life remaining.  In a flash, the battery died along with my download!!!  NOOOOOOO!!!  I frantically searched through my truck for any kind of contraption that I might plug in to.  I never use anything like that in my truck, but low and behold I found a cigarette lighter USB connector and plugged my phone in.  Of course I had to start the engine to get power.

 Then I carefully navigated every screen all over again until I got the download screen.  The church did it's magic and the little wheel was still turning.  Whew!!  That was a close one!!

Finally ... the download was complete and it said INSTALLING.  I sat for another 30 minutes.  It then asked me for my passcode and Apple ID.  Of course I left all that information at home.  On the third try it finally worked and YAHOO I was back in the phone business.  I immediately checked the app store for my Bank download and there it was.  I can't believe I finally got this thing upgraded.

I was pretty ecstatic when I hit the door, only to see my watch doing flip flops on my wrist.  What the heck?  Here's the bad news.  Now that my phone is up to date, my watch is not and it died a quick death.  Really Apple?  Yessirree ... it stayed on long enough to tell me to put it on the charger and begin downloading the update.  Needless to say, I was not a happy camper as the watch went completely black.

So if you need anything, I'll be down at the Catholic Church, downloading the watch update.  I could just scream.

  The OTHER good news is that with the phone upgraded, I was able to make that appointment at the Apple Store to check out my computer.  Not that I will come home with one, since once there, you just talk to them about exactly what you want, then you go online to order it.  

Do I want it delivered to my house?  Would you want a $3,000 computer delivered to your door by UPS or FedEx who will probably drop it six times?  

I might try to download the computer upgrade using my MiFi but I'll have to pay rent on the parking spot at the church.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Simon Sez

 Remember that kids game Simon Sez?  I play it all the time at the Pumpkin Patch with the kids.  They are always asking if the dinosaurs are real because they don't move.  That's because the T-Rex's name is Simon ... and when he sees the tractor coming, he says SIMON SEZ FREEZE!!  And all the dinosaurs freeze in place as you drive by.  Yes I finally do admit they are not real, but it's fun to see the expressions on their faces.

The game is played for REAL by the hundreds of ground squirrels on the property.  Every year when it rains, they throw seed out and let it grow to provide food for the birds.  These guys take full advantage eating up every little bit of green that grows.  

When you drive or walk by, they play the game.  FREEZE!  I mean to tell you they don't even blink or twitch an ear and they really are hard to see.  Later in the day they will all run down the nearest hole (usually not more than three feet away) to escape whatever might want THEM for dinner.

Half of the refuge is built like huge rice patties, with levies surrounding each section so it holds water.  Each section runs into the next, so turning on the water at the top fills the entire refuge.  Rarely do you see hawks, but here's a beauty.  I'm guessing it's a red-tailed hawk looking for one of those squirrels.  

There were two actually, one actively hunting in the grass below and this one, probably the girlfriend, just waiting for dinner to be served.


Surrounding the entire refuge is more pasture land, food for the blue herons who are not water birds.  To see this entire area covered with grey birds 2-3 feet tall is pretty impressive ... and stinky.  There's no fertilizer required.  At the end of the year, they graze cattle until the grass is again short so it will grow for next season.


Mom wasn't all that happy that her wayward kids were slipping underneath the fence and running off.  FREE!!  WE'RE FREE!!!  She was telling them to get their butts back inside the fence.

This is also supposed to be a refuge for Tule Elk, critters that have roamed this valley for ages.  Alas, I've never in my 70+ years ever SEEN a Tule Elk, nor did my Dad, but they advertise them at this refuge.  There is supposed to be 10,262 acres here, but you only have driving access to about 300 acres.  Maybe one day I'll drive around the outside and see if I can find those elk.


I'll check back in a couple weeks to see if the geese have shown up yet.  They usually arrive around Thanksgiving.  If they don't hurry up, there won't be any dinner left.

 On to my next problem ... upgrading my phone.  I spent an hour on the phone yesterday with Apple who now says my phone can be upgraded.  However, it takes a dsl line to do so ... my crappy little WiFi isn't working fast enough.  

I tried to get an appointment with the store nearby, but I can only do that with an upgraded phone.  ????  I can't upgrade without a better signal.  I called three times, but kept getting the same guy who had no answer.  My alternative at this point is either sit in my truck underneath a tower, hoping it works, or crash the Apple Store demanding service.  

But first ... let's check out the critter cam for tomorrow!!



Sunday, November 22, 2020

Bye Bye Birdie

 I rather imagine you have heard of the Pacific Flyway.  It's a North South corridor that migrating birds follow from Canada all the way to Patagonia.  It's a little late in the year to be visiting the birds heading South to warmer climates, but since I live just a few miles away, I like to check it out often.

Sadly there are no turkeys there, but there are lots of gorgeous yellow cottonwood trees finally changing their colors.

It seems like millions of years ago, but my Dad was known as one of the best cat wranglers around.  Not civvy cats but CAT as in caterpillar heavy equipment.  Now you know where my love of heavy equipment came from.  He actually helped build this refuge when they first opened it up.  At the time we all thought they were crazy until a hundred thousand birds discovered the fields of hay and grain planted by the farmers for their cattle.

It didn't take long for them to gather together and donate land just for the birds.  It was planted with grains that were like candy and covered in water for the ducks and geese.  In no time, it became one of their big feeding and breeding spots on the way South ... or North as the case may be.

It's flooded with leftover irrigation water twice a year so as to be attractive to every kind of duck and goose flying by.  I can remember irrigating our cattle pastures, only to have them completely covered with birds that evening.  If you've never been close to 20,000 birds squawking and talking, you can't imagine how loud and noisy it is.

 Of course I cannot remember the name of these guys.   The water makes for great reflections.  As they walk along, every two seconds they stick their head in the water and come up with bugs and tiny fish.

 It's fun to just sit and watch them wade around.  Soon they will all find a sleeping spot on one of the big islands out in the middle.  As you can imagine, there are lots of hawks and coyotes out here looking for dinner.

 Dark rain clouds were making it look like it was bed time, but they just obscured the sun for a minute or two.

 Pretty gorgeous, yeh?  I could sit out here all day and just watch the critters and listen to the birds.

 Sadly, most of the birds have already flown the coop.  Here's a few lesser blue herons heading out into the wild blue yonder. 

 There are still some blue herons hanging out, but far far away from any access road or I would have a much closer picture. 

The Ross and white fronted geese have not arrived yet, but this is what they look like when here.  You just cannot imagine seeing this many birds in one spot.  If just one makes a wrong move, they swarm the skies in seconds, then land back in the shallow water.  It's an amazing sight to see.

These guys are everywhere, in just about every irrigation ditch around.   Here's an interesting fact I bet you've never heard before.  


See this lovely little guy?  He's a tadpole shrimp, very tiny and very destructive.  They eat the tiny roots of just sprouted rice kernels and can devastate your crop.  The cranes eat them, but not fast enough.  We actually planted our fields (once flooded) with tiny fish that would eat the shrimp, thus saving our rice crop.  Yes there were chemicals you could throw out there to kill them, but our Japanese rice buyer said no.  You just never know what a farmer has to go through to raise your food.

At any rate, it's bye bye birdie time as most of the sandhills have left the area.  The geese usually come in around Thanksgiving, but I haven't seen any yet.  Maybe they have come and gone, or maybe they are late to dinner.  

In the meantime, due to operator error, the camera batteries again went dead and I missed whatever ate all the kitty food I set out.  Wouldn't you know!!  Those were my best rechargeable fancy dancy photography batteries too.  Better luck next time.