kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
We had another band of thunderstorms roll through today. It did not rain that much and did not reduce the temperatures a great deal, but it did apparently start a fire north of here.

Fire to the North )

As I started to compose this message, I thought I'd get an updated picture of the fire and got a small surprise when I went out onto the porch.

Hello, Bunny )

After all of the wildfires that we've had around here, it's almost hard to believe there was much more left the burn, but there's clearly a lot more dry brush out there, even with hailstorms and thundershowers flattening things.
kevin_standlee: (Family)
For reasons related to some property management, I need to so see my mother twice a year, in January and July. It has to be done in person. Today was my day for getting it done. Lisa didn't have to come along and elected to get extra sleep. I got started later than I would have liked, having told Mom I would be there at Noon. Instead, it was well past 1:30. She'd left me voicemail, but I didn't hear the call come in and didn't notice the message until I was already at her place and had to wait for about an hour for her to come back from the farmer's market, where she can gone, having given up on me.

Old Home Week )

After Mom got back from the farmers' market, we dealt with business, I gave her a list of all of the places I would be (and how to contact me) during the Europe trip, and we talked for a while. It was about 3:30 when I finally left. The idea that I could be home in time for a 6 PM San Jose Worldcon committee meeting call was fading fast.

Not a Short Cut at All )

My mother's house is less than 120 miles from my home. I left at about 3:30 and it took me more than five hours before I got home, albeit that I did stop several times, including long enough to buy some groceries in Reno that I figured Lisa would want.

I made a separate mistake of not putting on any sunscreen. My face is redder than usual tonight. I'll put ointment on it before I go to bed and hope I don't peel too badly.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF License)
I left for Yuba City around 7:30 this morning, after having breakfast at the Wigwam. No free breakfast won this week; that's why it's called gambling.

Rabbits and Trains )

It was excellent traveling weather in the morning, and I made good time. I'll write more about the full day later, but it took me to Yuba City, then to Sacramento. I'd packed an overnight bag in case I needed to stay down there, but after stopping for dinner in Auburn around 5:30 PM, I decided to push on home.

Cutting it Close )

Wet snow began to accumulate on the windshield, but not the road. I had some difficulty getting the windshield to clear even with the defroster on full blast. Fortunately, the snow faded away around Floriston, just before the Nevada state line. It rained thereafter off and on until just east of Fernley, where it was windy but dry when I got home. Lisa had a fire going.

In retrospect, although I did get home safely, it would have been more prudent of me to have stopped for the night at Colfax and to have come home tomorrow. But I'm here now and I don't have to travel again until next Sunday. I hope it won't be snowing again then!
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
My train is running roughly an hour late, so I won't be able to get breakfast on board; however, that meant I did have time to walk to the Wigwam Restaurant and have breakfast there. (And also win it back on a free-play slot coupon.) On the way home, I was taken by how clear the weather was today.

Literally Not a Cloud in the Sky )

It was only just above freezing, but it did not feel that cold due to all of the sunshine and no wind.

According to the Amtrak web site, my train is now just passing the US-95 grade crossing south of I-80, so it's about time for me to shut down and finish packing so Lisa can take me to Reno.
kevin_standlee: (Wildlife)
Yesterday started off gloomy and overcast, but the sun came out and it warmed to a comfortable temperature. I kitted up in my coveralls, Lisa got out the electric chainsaw, and she cut branches from the small cottonwood trees along the west fence line. I raked brush into a pile, and used hand clippers to get rid of the smaller growth, then fed the branches as Lisa cut them into burnable-sized pieces. When we were done, we had somewhat reduced the fire hazard on the fence line, and had a wheelbarrow-load of cottonwood, which we hope will dry out over the summer and provide for a day or possibly two of heat next autumn.

Later in the day, Lisa called me outside to have a look at something. "George is back!" she said.

Hello, George! )

Today, in contract to the warm, sunny conditions yesterday afternoon, was cold and blustery. I ended up kindling a fire in the fireplace for the first time in a week. Apparently it was snowing up in the Sierra Nevada, but it didn't even rain here. However, it felt particularly cold when you got out into the wind. I assume the lizards retreated, waiting for sunnier days.
kevin_standlee: (Snow Day)
In case any of you thought I was serious, I know that the little bit of wind-driven sleet and snow we got yesterday doesn't qualify as a blizzard. But it was cold, for me and for Lisa, and for our resident rabbits.

Rabbits in the Snow )

This morning, there were a few sheltered spots with a bit of leftover ice, but by mid-day it was all gone. The next few days are forecast to be clear and brisk, but above freezing. That's good, because we have some spring work around the property that we would like to get started on doing. Spring is one of the times of the year when we can get things done because it's neither too hot nor too cold.
kevin_standlee: (Wildlife)
As I've mentioned before, we have rabbits around the property. Not a lot of them; I've never seen more than four at a time. But this morning, three of them were out bouncing around as I took my usual walk before starting work.

Every Bunny Loves Some Bunny Sometimes )

I have sometimes left out leftover carrots and other produce for them, but they rarely touch the stuff. They seem happy to munch on sagebrush and thistles. They're welcome to all of ours.
kevin_standlee: (Rolling Stone)
I got away from the office a bit later than expected yesterday, and I had a couple of errands to do before I could leave. First I refueled the Rolling Stone and confirmed that it's no longer throwing gasoline overboard. (9.8 mpg isn't great, but it's better than the 3 mpg that it was getting as it hemorrhaged fuel.) Then I went to my mechanic's shop and paid for the repairs. It cost about a week's salary (after withholding), but besides the actual value of the repair, I effectively got free parking for the Eurocon trip, which can be offset against that cost.

By the time I actually got going, it was too late, and I was trapped in slow-moving traffic from Fremont to Tracy to Stockton to Lodi Junction to Sacramento. There were spots where it lightened up at times, but much of the trip was in pretty congested traffic. I visited my sister at the nursing home in Sacramento after a stop at Fry's Electronics for a minor item that's tricky to get in Reno, then detoured to the Roseville Galleria Mall where there is a Lush store that stocks my after-shave ointment. (No Lush stores in Reno.)

By the time I got to Colfax, I was seriously dragging. Since I got back from Europe, I've been going to bed around 8 PM, and it was past that time already. So I stopped at the Gold Run rest area, buttoned up the RV, and called Lisa to tell her that I wouldn't be getting home tonight. She knew that was a possibility and endorsed the decision.

The rest area was full of big rigs parking overnight as their drivers got their mandated hours-of-service rest. When I woke up about 3 AM, a full-sized RV (not a little one like mine) was taking up a bunch of the parking spaces next to me. California allows up to eight hours parking in a rest area (unlike some states that have foolish short-term parking rules), and thus I was unconcerned about my sojourn at Gold Run.

About 3 AM I woke up initially, and after an attempt to go back to sleep that failed, I concluded that I might as well head home. I stopped in Truckee for coffee (Starbucks having just opened for the morning when I got there) and at Verdi for breakfast (taking my time lingering over breakfast so the sun wouldn't be directly in my eyes when I returned to the road.

Greeted by a Flock of Quail )

I was still pretty worn out despite the five or so hours of sleep at Gold Run. Aside from a visit to Walgreen's to replace the blood glucose meter I lost at London St. Pancras and the grocery store for some immediate needs, I mostly took today off. I would have gone to bed when I got home, but I think that would have made things worse. However, I do expect to get to bed early again today. Although I had little problem making the time adjustment to Barcelona, my body clock on the return has stubbornly remained somewhere out over Northern Canada. It's vaguely helpful with my job given that I have to coordinate with people in the Central time zone, but I'm looking forward to getting back on Pacific time this coming week.

It is good to know, however, that laying up at Gold Run is a viable alternative plan for when I'm traveling between the Bay Area and home.
kevin_standlee: (Beware of Trains)
Having received the latest issue of the Western Pacific Railroad Museum member newsletter, which gave the museum's hours as being open until the first Monday of November, Lisa and I got the idea of heading over to Portola and spending a couple of hours looking around. They don't do train rides that late in the season, but that didn't trouble us. We're members of the museum, but it has been over a year since we last visited, so Sunday morning we hitched up and headed for Portola, which isn't nearly as far away as I thought it was.

Uh, Oh. )

We were of course disappointed at not being able to visit the museum, but it's only an hour's drive from Reno, so it's not like it was a catastrophe. And on the drive back through the Sierra Valley, we got to see some wildlife.

Oh, Deer )

The day wasn't a total loss. We went back to Reno and cashed in some coupons and frequent-buyer credit we had at Cost Plus World Market and Grocery Outlet before going home. For a change, we did not have dinner in Reno, as neither of us was especially hungry.

Looks like we'll have to wait until next year to actually use our museum memberships in Portola again.
kevin_standlee: (House)
Yesterday morning, while taking a load of laundry upstairs to dry, I was startled by a skittering noise that at first I thought was a mouse.

No, Not a Mouse )

This morning, Lisa was startled to find George the Lizard in the kitchen downstairs, but once again he skittered away before we could do anything about it. Later in the morning, I heard scratching sounds from a paper bag full of dry trash sitting in the kitchen. George had somehow got into the bag and was struggling to get out. I closed off the top of the bag and carried it outside, much to George's distress as he ran about trying to escape.

Be Free, Little Lizard! )

We actually like having these lizards about, because they eat bugs. We just would rather not have them inside the house if possible.
kevin_standlee: (House)
A few nights ago, I went into the kitchen and startled a mouse that had been on the kitchen counter. It scurried away as mice do. The next morning, I found where it had chewed into a package of instant oatmeal. At Lisa's suggestion, I poured some of the rest of the package into the "tin cat" humane mouse trap we have in the kitchen and put the trap near where the box of oatmeal had been.

Last night, I heard clanking sounds coming from the kitchen. When I went into the kitchen and turned on the light, the sounds stopped, but when I picked up the trap I could feel that the mouse was in the box as it skittered around in distress. (The trap has one-way doors; mice can get in but not out.) I walked across the road into the outskirts of the railroad yard and lifted the lid. The terrified little mouse was trying to hide in the door where it had come in, but was betrayed by its tail. When I poked at its tail, it jumped out of the box and ran off into the sagebrush.

I hope the mouse won't make its way back into the house. It's welcome to try and make its way in the railyard, if it can avoid the feral cats and a few raptors in he area. I have no problem with field mice. It's house mice that I don't want.
kevin_standlee: (Beware of Trains)
This morning I heard the Union Pacific local (the "Fernley Flyer") tell the dispatcher that they needed some time on the main line because they had some cars to switch into the "house track." That is unusual because the two house tracks (so called because they flank the site of the former Fernley depot; a "house track" or "freight house track" is track other than the main track near a depot or freight house used for storing or switching cars) are normally the preserve of BNSF, switched by a local train five days a week and used as the interchange point for traffic off the "Big BN" through freights. So despite the cold, when I heard the Flyer approaching, I went out to see what was going on.

Spot the Bunny )

Disposal of used wooden ties is a serious and expensive issue for the railroads. I'm glad that this pile of ties is about to leave Fernley, for selfish reasons: it has been blocking our view of the main line!
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Crew)
Yesterday evening we could see that the clouds were moving in just as the sun was heading for the horizon. Moonrise was supposed to be about one minute after sunset, but obviously we wouldn't be able to see the eclipse with all of these clouds moving in. Looking to the north and checking the satellite images, it looked like there might be clearer skies up toward Gerlach, and if we moved quickly, we might be able to get there while the moon was still eclipsed. So on a whim we headed north up NV-447 (the road to Burning Man, for those of you who have been there).

No Joy )

The one good thing about last night's trip is that we've now spotted a place where if we want to go look at the sky at night, we can probably get a really good view far away from most city lights and with relatively few passing cars (about one every twenty minutes) to spoil our night vision. The sky last night was clear to the west and above, and we had a great view of the Milky Way straight overhead, and we both think we saw several shooting stars. So it wasn't a wasted trip, even though we didn't get to see the Main Event.
kevin_standlee: (Wildlife)
Late this afternoon, Lisa came in the front door very carefully and motioned for me to be quiet. "The bunny is right in front of the van outside." I carefully went outside and had a look.

Very Useful Rabbit )

As I've said before, I don't think the land around here can support large numbers of rabbits, so I'm not really worried about them over-producing. Besides, there is a whole colony of feral cats two blocks away, and I expect the cats prey on the rabbits.
kevin_standlee: (Wildlife)
In addition to the poor little mice that we inadvertently transported from Idaho to Fernley, in the past few days we have had a number of different small wildlife sightings around the house.

Where Do You Go When You're Toad Away? )

We're happy with all of the critters around the house except the black widow spiders, which scare me greatly, and mice in the house, which Lisa detests.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
This afternoon, Lisa and I went into Reno to do our major grocery shopping. First we went to the Atlantis, where for a change we ate at the Purple Parrot coffee shop rather than the buffet. After that, we played a bit of slots, and when Lisa hit a good jackpot on the third pull of the Walking Dead machine (a 600-1 payout on the 40-cent bet), we called it a day on gambling, with a net (including the $9 I lost at keno) surplus of $6.20. Checking my affinity card balance, I discovered to my surprise that we'd actually spent enough to make it to the second rung (of six) of the program. I never thought we'd ever get out of the entry-level class. They issued us a new card, and we now get $2 off buffets, and a two-for-one breakfast buffet on any weekday.

On the way out, we spotted a machine that cried out for a photo.

It seemed somewhat related to this year's Hugo controversy )

Full of breakfast and with a small gambling surplus, we set out to do our shopping. Nothing really exciting, just stops at Cost Plus World Market to use a 15% off coupon and buy more honey-wafer cookies for my sister, Whole Foods Market to get good cheese, Grocery Outlet for bargains, Winco for staples, and Raley's to get four packs of the San Pellagrino orange sparkling water that Lisa came to greatly admire during Westercon.

Lisa drove us home. As we pulled up in front of Fernley House, we once again stirred up one of the rabbits who lives near our house.

Everybody Loves Some Bunny Sometimes )

We seem to be pretty well stocked for a while now. If we didn't need to go to Reno for an appointment with Lisa's tinnitus specialist on Thursday, we'd be home all week and perfectly happy to be here, as long as we can keep the house cool enough for me to work.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
Just down the street from my house is the Celite plant, owned by Imerys Minerals. (Celite is a brand name for absorbent materials made from diatomaceous earth, like kitty litter.) Because of the lay of the land here, there is a large depression across the street from the plant, and because Fernley is built on an ancient lake bed, standing water doesn't drain away very well, but instead sits in depressions until it evaporates.

Lake Imerys Shrinking Away )

With temperatures in Fernley forecast to go up to 40°C this week, I expect that "Lake Imerys" will be gone for the summer by the time I get home this weekend.
kevin_standlee: (Wildlife)
Yesterday morning after the Balloon Excitement, I noticed that the rabbits are back. I was worried that the feral cats had run them all off.

There Are Two Rabbits in this Picture )

I suspect that I'd be annoyed if I had hundreds of rabbits around there, but a handful of bunnies I find entertaining.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
Lisa and I went to Reno this morning and had brunch at the Atlantis, then did some grocery shopping. As usual, being full of buffet restrained us from over-buying from the grocery store.

On the way home, we impulsively decided to explore an exit off I-80 west of Fernley to see where the road goes. Where Exit 40/Painted Rock Road goes is to a road running along the bank of the Truckee Canal, and we followed it out to where it petered out at a locked gate before making our way back toward home. Partway back, Lisa noticed a photographic opportunity on the hillside overlooking the canal.

Look at the Horses! )

After our brief horse encounter, we headed home, where Lisa helped prep the Rolling Stone for my trip back to the Bay Area tomorrow.
kevin_standlee: (Wildlife)
A couple of nights ago, Lisa was going out the front door, stopped, and motioned me to come and look at our visitor.

No Duck Season in the Desert )

I like having the rabbits around. They are dumb bunnies, though. I left them some carrots once out in the middle of that field and they never ate them. I guess they like chewing on sagebrush better.

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