Monday, August 31, 2009


This photo was taken from my front yard on Saturday afternoon at about 3 pm. It is a pyro-cumulous cloud created by the fire itself. The height of this cloud is about 20,000'.

We have a really destructive fire buring out of control to the north of Los Angeles. The Station Fire has been bruning for about six days and is only about 10% contained. It doubled in size overnight and has grown to a monstrous 84,000 acres--about 75 sq. mi.--of habitat burned. They do not expect full containment until Sept. 8.

I always feel so bad for all the wildlife--so many killed and displaced. They say this area has not burned in more than 60 years, which means that the ecosystem is very well established and contains the territories of many thousands of animals, birds, and reptiles. Truly a very sad time for the critters.
I haven't been able to find out which hiking areas may have been affected, but a lovely spot below Mt. Wilson called Switzer may be in harm's way.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


On a recent picnic with friends at a nearby canyon we were visited by a doe and yearling deer. These are California White-tailed Deer, which are common in the Santa Monica Mountains. They were attracted to the big water bucket used for watering horses; the little one drank for almost 10 minutes. Then they went foraging, but were finding mostly dried grass. Both deer were a bit thin and had ribs showing, but otherwise looked healthy. It was a special treat to see these creatures so close. I hope they both found more food somewhere and are able live a safe life for a while.
[composed while listening to the "Return of the King" soundtrack by Howard Shore]


I was in my front yard one morning last week when a woman walking across the street stopped, looked down in the gutter, and exclaimed, “Wow! I’ve never seen anything like this before!”

There was something smallish and brown in the gutter, and at first I thought it might be a dead bat. But when I when over to look, I found a live crawdad! When I bent down to get a closer look, it raised its pinchers up and started waving them at me menacingly—very feisty little critter!

Well, I’m not one to turn my back on any of Nature’s critters, so I went to the garage and got a spare small litter box that I had stashed away. I got the crawdad to grab onto my car key, and then dropped him in the box. I poured distilled water in, about 4” deep; as I knew it was a freshwater species.

Then I went online and Googled up some information and found out that they make good pets. I decided from the first that I could not in good conscience turn him loose in a nearby lake or marsh because I don’t know exactly where he might have come from—and they can carry disease that might be detrimental to a habitat. So I’ve decided to give it a good home in a 10-gal. aquarium tank.

Apparently they are scavengers and will eat anything, which means it will be low-maintenance. They are not long-lived, so this won’t be a long commitment, either.

I’ve named it Mr. Pinchy. I thought it would be perfect given his fearsome set of claws!

Monday, August 24, 2009


Lately I have been hearing news reports of the continued mountaintop removal mining and now I read that the Army Corps of Engineers (those bastards that seem hell-bent on pouring concrete on every living river and stream), have given the go-ahead to a gold mining operation in Alaska to dump its waste into a nearby lake. Super. Thanks a lot. Once again greed triumps over nature. When will it end?

"In the great stretches of glass and concrete and steel hide the natural landscape. Where is there one long view of earth and sky to show the seasons or rest they eye, or a silent place to rest the ear? Or the space to stretch and play, or to be still and alone?"--Jane Whitbread

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


This is the coolest outdoor tip I've seen in a long while! (It's about in the middle of the short vid). This old guy knows how to camp comfy.