Rivenrock Gardens Cactus Blog

Looking for Santa Barbara area actors

I got an e-mail from some folks I know….
They are looking for Santa Barbara area actors to use for a Christian-based short film

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Small start up Christian Film Company is looking for actors of all ages for
30 minute modern day Good Samaritan Film. Shot on Pro Hi- Def Cameras and
35mm prime lenses. A great project if your trying to build up your reel and
be a part of a Film with a great Message! Please send experience and head
shots to Isaac at info@meeksmediahd.com and Sandon at
sandon@pacificcamps.com and we will let you know if we would like you to
come in for a reading.

List of Parts looking to Cast
AMY KINDLE, a cheerful 6-year-old.
BRITNEY SKAGG Amy’s fellow school-mate also 6 years old
Three Jr. High girls
The (Lead Role) Good Samaritan DURRELL, a 20-year-old who’s punked out with
spiked hair, piercings, tattoos, studded shirt, black pants and boots,
RAMZI, (Durrell’s brother) Editor for Rolling Stone a clean-cut man in his
mid 20’s,
Female News Reporter between the ages of 20-30 years old
Prisoner #1 A Hispanic man in his late 30s about 5 10” Two hundred pounds
with a thick mustache
Prisoner #2 A white male with a completely shaved head 5 11” 260 lbs.
A Middle Eastern man dressed in a ghutra headband
ELDERLY WOMAN
HITAB COMAN (Adivs Son), a 5-year-old Middle Eastern boy,
ADIV COMAN, (Supporting Role) The in his mid 30’s, who’s Middle Eastern and
wearing a kummah headdress,
DAANIA COMAN (Adivs Wife) ,in her early 30’s, wearing an abaya dress and a
hijab headcovering,
Older Businessman in his 50’s,
Homeless man pan-handling
Store clerk working behind mini mart counter
A large man dressed in western wear,
Durrell, Ramzi Mom in her mid 40s
Fire Chief between the ages 30-55
DR. BATES, Supporting Role a gray haired gentleman with glasses between that
ages of 45-65
DR. Bates Chauffeur A scholarly looking man in a suit and tie between the
ages of 35-50
COLLEGE KID #1 Male between the ages of 17-24
COLLEGE KID #2 Male between the ages of 17-24
COLLEGE KID #3 Female between the ages of 17-24
COLLEGE KID #4 Female between the ages of 17-24
A HIGHWAY PATROLMAN
Nurse Between the ages of 25-55
AMY’S MOM a Woman between the ages of 35-45

Little Man and the Guineas

Little Man and the Guineas

Little Man and the Guineas

   Little Man, the Shetland Pony who used to ride children around at a fair in Los Angeles has been living in the canyon for some fifteen years now. He’s pretty old now… heck, he seemed old when the local farrier came back into the canyon with him after rescuing him when he heard the owners of the kiddie fair were going to have him out down due to his age.

   Since then he’s become something of a fixture in the canyon. He used to roam free, visiting different houses in the canyon and eating what he could find or was given. Now, since some objected to him eating their gardens and flowers he has to stay locked up. So now,  many people in the canyon give him some of their leftover veggies…. but he can’t chew well either, so it has to be soft foods.

   Some of the local women and children will open his pen and take him for a walk up and down the canyon road… to give him something interesting for the day.  All in all, it’s a bit of a sad life for the little old guy.  Still he’s better off than many animals in factory farming conditions… kept in stalls too small to turn around in, and deprived of sunlight. This would never have happened if he were only in France… they’d have eaten him by now.

    He’s blind in one eye now too.  In the wild animals never really grow old… they get killed by some predator….

   The local Guinea hens have become friends of his… perhaps lured by the occasional produce lobbed over the fence.

Do I ‘Clean Cultivate’, or ‘Mulch’, or ‘Let It All Grow to Hell?’

    There are many schools of thought when it comes to agriculture….. and since it is one of the oldest professions with a history of some ten thousand years, you can be that almost every option has been tried at some time or another. 

   Oddly, in that ten thousand years, some of the greatest advances in ag have come about in the last few hundred years… the advent of the ‘Green Revolution’ was greatly heralded in the sixties. Yield-per-acre has been increased due to new varieties, new advances in technology and equipment…. and (I hate to say it as an organic grower) new advances in chemicals.   Sometimes philosophy and practicality rub shoulders, and sometimes they seem diametrically opposed…. but sometimes that latter is influenced by your preconceived notions and biases.

   “When you change the way you look at things,
the things you look at change”

Wayne Dyer

   So much of human thought is stuck in ruts…. agriculturalists are perhaps better at being in ruts than other people…. something that’s been done ‘such-and-such-a-way’ for thousands of years is hard to want to change. If a change can mean no food production, it makes one loath to commit full resources to change. It’s probably not by accident that most farmers and ranchers are conservative in thought process… even the organic ones. In fact, it is not a bit of a surprise that organic growers are conservative, they are carrying on traditions rooted in thousands of years of hard-won experience. Even when they abandon the synthetic farming of their parents, they are embracing the organic methods of their great-grandparents.

   Still, even organic growers that were raised on synthetics and went organic are going to have some pre-set biases that might require years of ‘working through’ to accept…

   Here’s my lay-down on the three main systems of ‘weed management/Ground Cover Issues’

   Clean Cultivation

   For much of the last few centuries the most common method of weed-cultivation was called ‘clean cultivation’.  This is nothing more than making sure there are no plants growing in the area other than the desired crop plant.  This method used to be accomplished by flame-weeding, or hand weeding with hoes or by hand, and sometimes with grazing animals such as fowl. With the advent of chemical herbicides these tasks were accomplished with much less labor, and the amount of land a farmer could manage increased.  But clean cultivation has many drawbacks. It is much more susceptible to soil erosion by both wind and rain. It can lead to dirty produce as raindrops and overhead irrigation might splash dirt upon the crop. And if a grower wishes to be organic, they are pretty-much relegated to hand or flame cultivation if they wish to have clean ground.

clean cultivation in a cactus patch

 

 

clean cultivation in a cactus patch

  Organic Mulch

   For growers wishing to be organic, an organic mulch is often recommended.  Such was our choice for a few decades.  Four inches of oak-leaf mulch on our soil makes the ground below moist several months into the dry season due to it’s shading effect. It also keeps most weeds from growing well…. most seeds below a thick mulch will be unable to grow through it. Most weed seeds that fall onto the surface will not grow a healthy root through four inches of packed mulch… those that do are VERY easy to pull up when you see they are growing.  An organic mulch is also great for the soil and the microbial population due to the decomposition that occurs.  The mulch will slowly break down over several years…. after a few years the layers nearest the soil will be very dark and starting to turn into humus. The actual process of creating humus can take decades….. we have had our humus levels tested at nearly 14% in some areas. This is due to the tons of ground trees we used to bring in as mulch material.  Just as there are drawbacks to clean-cultivation, so to with mulch inputs…. these thoughts operate on two levels… practical and philosophical. The practical thought process goes that one never really knows what substances were on the trees that produced the leaves…. so bringing them onto an organic farm is a bit of a risk. I can understand this train of thought and it is the main reason we have brought no mulch in now for three years. The philosophical argument says that since the world is a closed-loop, so too should each farm be. Each farm should use frequent ‘fallow-crop’ intervals such that the soil is constantly regenerating itself and replacing the nutrients lost due to harvest. This is a bit of a fatuous argument however… because while the earth is a closed-loop system, any particular portion of it is usually losing part of itself, or gaining something from somewhere else due to the usual ups-and-downs of the earth and all the associated system therein. And no farm should be seen as an entirely closed loop since you are continually (hopefully) selling your crop. Those nutrients sent out do need to be replaced….. but MUST it be solely from outside inputs?

Nopal with a chipped wood mulch

 

 

Nopal with a chipped wood mulch

 Living Mulch

  This brings us to the third system of weed management, the one that was probably pretty much in heavy use until a few-hundred years ago… that of a living mulch of plants.  This system works quite well under many plants that have some vertical space under the leaves, for instance an orchard. In this system a native or a planted crop will be grown between the rows of your cash crop, or perhaps underneath the very leaves of your cash crop. A field of corn might be planted also with a clover, the two plants will grow together, the clover able to survive under the corn leaves, covering the soil, and after the corn is harvested, the clover will die over the winter. Any corn material that returns to the soil will accompany the many pounds-per-acre of nitrogen the clover will give the soil, not to mention the extra bio-mass which will largely decompose into the soil, increasing that ever-precious humus level.  There are disadvantages with this system also… and they also split along both philosophical and practical concerns. The philosophical side accepts the age-old wisdom of ‘enterprise’ and ‘labor’….  having ‘weeds’ growing in your fields is a sign of sloth…. ‘weeds’ are often accused of ‘stealing’ both moisture and nutrients from the cash crop. They can act as a shelter for bad bugs, and they can act as a bridge or ladder for ants or other pests to easily access the structure of your plants.  All of these accusations are valid to various degrees, but they can also be ameliorated to some degree by some small planning and effort.  And this will ALL depend on your own circumstances. 

seasonal living-mulch cultivation in a cactus patch, pre mowing

   This is Opuntia robusta, two year-old plants growing in the native grasses in California.
   This is at the beginning of the dry season, the annual grasses have all died.

seasonal living-mulch, after mowing @ beginning of dry season

   This is the same area after mowing. You can see the cut-down native grasses do a good job of shading the soil.
   The soil is also greatly protected from erosion…. and the grasses will eventually rot into the soil.

    For us for instance, the native grasses are allowed to grow between the large cactus plants.  They will take advantage of the winter rains just as in nature. Over the winter they will actually keep the soil from being too wet which would injure the cactus. Once springtime comes and the grasses set seed I mow between the rows, and use a weak weed wacker between the plants (a weak one so it won’t cut through the plants if I accidentally touch them).  The grasses will form a straw mulch over the ground, shading it and eventually decomposing into the soil the same way an imported mulch would have done.  So in this way I have put our own home-grown mulch onto the ground without having to bring in material from off the farm like before. I used to think I saved  a lot of time bringing in mulch… my thinking was each hour of mulching saved three hours of weeding, and put humus into the soil… well now, I don’t bother bringing in material, it grows in-situ and merely needs to be mowed down. This is a lot less labor than I had before.  One downside is that in the springtime, I have a lot of little spiky grass seeds in the cactus areas… these get caught in your clothes. But seriously, in the three years or so we’ve been doing these large plants that way, we’ve had no downside other than the stickers in the grass.

   For the small plants we still do a clean cultivation. The plants are very low to the ground, and we don’t want anything growing that will overwhelm the small plants. So in that instance, I’d prefer to have mulch. I may start collecting it from beneath our trees. For the short-lived perennials, one good thick mulching will last for a few years. 

That which you cannot change,
you must bear with

Mexican Proverb

 

   Someone asked me recently whether having to stop bringing in mulches to comply with the new Federal Organic Laws was a problem for us. My reply is this article…. so often in life we have to make adjustments based upon expectations of others.  When these things happen all we can do is find the best option to allow us to continue. Sometimes we are caught in ‘The Traditional Way’ to do things, other times we are hampered by a need for the approval of others…. for us, the hardest thing is getting used to ‘letting weeds grow’… but oddly, I’ve found that this method is actually very well suited to our large cactus plants. They grow just fine this way, and we don’t have to work hard driving a large truck into town to pick up mulch and bring it back, so our fuel costs are lowered (I only put 400 miles on the big truck last year).  So perhaps all-in-all, this will probably turn out to be a good thing.

   A closed mind can keep you from new opportunities,
yet you don’t want your mind so open that it falls out when you tie your shoes.

Downed Tree, Windfall for the Taking

A downed Tree near the road

A downed Tree near the road

   We had a big storm come through here almost two weeks ago.  Every time there is a big storm, we’re likely to have big trees alongside the road fall over and block the road.  This is a California Live Oak that fell over onto the road. The local custom holds that any tree that falls onto the road is fair game for any locals who have a saw and wish to take wood.  The first thing to do if you have a saw is to cut an opening for vehicles to pass… then you can cut the rest of the tree into smaller pieces to take home.  Don’t cross fences….  the ability to take these ‘windfalls’ is extended only to the edge of the road technically.  This tree probably blocked part of the road…. but it has been cut quite a bit far from the road. Perhaps the landowner permitted the extra cutting…. more likely, whoever got here first with a saw just kept cutting closer and closer to the stump, and taking all that nice ‘Red Oak’ home. The one big branch on the ground still attached is holding much of the weight of the entire tree… when it was initially knocked over it was probably a few thousand pounds.  Cutting into that branch might cause the tree to move and hit you…. the ground here is actually pretty steep, so it can become very dangerous. Doing such work one must be continually aware of everything around oneself… no place for daydreaming…. this work.   One time years ago I was coming back from work early in the AM from night-shift at the plant… and there was a huge sycamore that fell across the road…. with steep impassable banks on both sides there was no way around, and I was still five miles from home and the saws…. and I was soooo tired and wanted nothing more than to get home to bed.  Walking around the tree in the dark,  trying to find a solution I looked up as a neighbor was coming down the road on his way out to his work… we traded trucks and he went to his work in mine, and I went to my home in his.

    Another time I was coming into the canyon and there was a fellow standing in the road scratching his head looking over a giant oak tree that had fallen down from the top of the cliff above…. it extended quite a ways out over the creek which is impassable….. he was stuck. The odd thing is he was following his friends who were guiding him into the canyon to their ranch…. they were perhaps a hundred yards ahead of him, and passed before the tree fell…. it fell just in front of the visitor.  This was a tree so huge you could not wrap your arms  around the trunk…. luckily he was not going a bit closer to them… he held back so his air filter would not get so much dust from their truck.

   Once going out early in the morning to work, there was a tree down…. I went back home for a saw and went and cut a hole big enough to get through and rushed on to work…. it was 2AM and not a good time to be cutting wood under headlights while I’m supposed to be getting to work.

  

  

Hoeing Weeds

Hoeing weeds

Fast weed growth
Fast weed growth

 

   After some five or six months with no rain, we got a two day gully-washer
that dropped some five to six inches on the area.
This was the largest October storm system to hit the state in 45 years.

   The combination of warm temperatures and moisture has led
to an explosive growth of weeds.
The photo above was taken only five days after the rain started. Very fast sprouting!

 

   Keep in mind, when I say ‘Weed’, I merely mean a plant that is growing where I do not want it.
   These plants in the photos are right in front of our house where we want nothing growing so that we have no flammable vegetation near the house. We’re better off having the ground bare and clear all around the house to lower wildfire risks.
   We could have a lawn there, but that takes a lot of water, water I’d rather use to grow food, both to sell and to eat.

   The plants in the photo are the types that need to be growing on the hillsides where they can help to bind the soil reducing erosion.

   It is when plants are in this young and tender stage that they are the easiest to kill. A simple swipe with a hoe will scrape them from the soil surface, slicing them from their roots and leaving the leaves to dry in the sun. A nice day that will be sunny is said to be the best to scrape these weeds from the ground. The sun will hasten their demise. A rainy day might allow them to get their roots going again.

   If you let the weeds grow, they will set their roots firmly in the ground, and you will have a harder time removing them, if scraped with a hoe, the roots might set up a new stalk…. you might have to pull them from the ground by hand.

   Take care of your weeds before they get out of hand.

   “A stitch in time saves nine” Old Proverb

 

deer path weeds

deer path weeds

This is a deerpath in the wilderness, the photos taken the same day as the one above.
We can see that even though the plants are different, they have the same germination speed, although perhaps a lower rate of germination due to the rougher soil.

   There are several factors we can learn form in the two photos….
Notice the deerpath has a lot of debris on it… leaves and duff from the nearby bushes.
These have lowered the germination rate.. perhaps some weeds were under a large leaf that did not allow the small sprout to grow properly.

 

When you hunt an animal you have to learn its habits….
when you have weeds, you should learn how to control them
by knowing their growth habits, and vulnerabilities.

   A seed is a marvel of life…
it has the accumulated nutrition and energy given to it by its parent for its early life…..Just as most humans and animals will do anything for their young, so too did the parents of these annual weeds sacrifice themselves for their progeny.
   The parents of these annual weeds grew during the moist winter in our mild climate… they waxed through the winter. And when the springtime came and the rains stopped, the plants, programmed to seed at the beginning of the dry season, took every bit of energy they had in their roots, stalk and leaves and packed every bit of this essence and energy into the seeds they carried. This is why seeds are so nutritious.  Every bit of fat, protein and carbohydrate the plant can manufacture is given to the seeds, so that they will have a good chance to grow in the next generation.

   So now we are left with a seed that has lain in the ground for five or six months,  waiting for the right environmental conditions to sprout.
   Plants are grown and adapted to their area….. the plants here ‘know’ they should not sprout before the rainy season has began. In order to make sure that a stream of urine from a passing deer or a short unseasoable sprinkling in July will not cause them to sprout, the seeds are coated with a hard ’seedcoat’ that will keep out short-term moisture.
   When it has rained for a couple of days the moisture will seep into the seed itself.
This will start the seed’s germination. To germinate too soon would mean death for the seedling,  nature sets these effects in place to ensure enough plants grow to continue the process.

   It is when they are newly growing that they are easiest to destroy…. if you have a space in which you don’t want any new plants growing,  this is the time to take care of them,  when they are young tender seedlings that have no large root system,  nor copious leaves to cause interference.

~Lao Tzu~
Chapter 63

Accomplish the hard task while it is still easy.
Handle large affairs while they are still small.
For even the most difficult and large of tasks and affairs
have a point where they are still easy and small

Hoeing weeds

Here we see a photo of a large hoe being used to scrape the newly-grown weeds.

 

   What means you use to destroy these young seedlings depends on your resources.
One method used for nearly a century is ‘flame-weeding’.
Some tractors are adapted with systems that shoot a flame
onto the ground beneath the crop plants.
Just a second of heat from the flame will cause the moisture in the small leaves to boil,
rupturing cells and resulting in dessication and eventual death.
You can also purchase hand held flamers that will run from a small propane bottle.

   I prefer using mechanical means….
if the ground is not covered with a mulch,
I use a hoe, gently scraping along the soil surface,
scraping the plants from the ground.
This does not require hacking if the plants are young enough….
gently scrape the plants from the ground in a space a foot or so…
then push the scraped soil back to cover the ground.
This results in what the old-timers used to call a ‘dust mulch’.
The broken soil will reduce the wicking action of the soil surface
and act much as a mulch of leaves would…
covering the soil with a blanket of soil shading it from the sun etc.

    If you have a mulch of leaves, straw or some other organic material, you can use a rake and be able to kill the weeds trying to grow on top of the mulch.
    These are the weed seeds brought onto the mulch by wind or animals.
If left unchallenged, they might possible be able to grow through the mulch and enjoy the same healthy conditions you desire for your crops plants.  

 

weeds scraped from the ground

weeds scraped from the ground

Here we see the ground scraped across the entire photo.  
The left-hand side is scraped, and the right-hand side is scraped
and the removed soil put back onto the soil as a mulch.

 

   It is generally seen as better for the environment overall to keep the soil covered with plants.
    Plants cover the soil keeping the nearby areas cooler. Bare open ground tends to be hotter, and much more susceptible to erosion by rain or wind. Here in the summertime we often see ‘dust-devils’ on open fields, and even on our own clean scraped driveway. 

 

~Lao Tzu~
‘Chapter 48′

Common learning consists in doing something new each day,
In pursuit of the Tao, every day something is dropped.
Day after day something else is not done,
until one reaches the point where one is able to do much by doing nothing.

Less and less you work and desire, until you reach the state of non-action.
By not striving to control the world, it offers itself to you.
You cannot master the world by trying to enforce change on it.

 

    Unless there is an overwhelming need for clean-cultivation, I argue against it. We remove all vegetation from near our house because of the high fire danger in our area. We want no organic materials next to the house. Clean and open rocky ground is what I want… the small pebbles are unlikely to blow away with the wind.  We also have some garden area that is clean-cultivated. Some of our cactus species are small, and would be overtaken by allowing other species to grow with them.

 

   Most annual gardens do well with clean cultivation… before you plant, prepare the soil in the usual way…and then water as if you had planted… in a few days you will see weed seedlings sprout… rake the soil to kill the emerging seedlings, and water again. Within the next two weeks, water and rake four or five times…. you will kill most of the weed seeds near the surface…. then when you plant, do not dig the soil again, you will bring up seeds from deeper…. just make your tiny seed plantings, and cover them…. hopefully you’ll have very few weeds growing when your vegetables emerge.

    It is hard for many people to not do all the work at once… but there are times it pays to do less now… and take much longer, doing a little bit here and there… don’t rush nature, she usually doesn’t rush much… and you can’t push her hard.

 

 

“When you throw Mother Nature out the window,
She comes back in the door with a pitchfork”

~Masanobu Fukuoka~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atlas 5/DMSP launch

We had a local launch of an Atlas V this morning.

Atlas V Launch

 

Atlas V Launch

The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program is the agency that oversees
many of the military spacecraft launches at Vandenberg AFB California.

This launch was designated AV-017

 

I didn’t know it was going, so I wasn’t prepared,
and got out too late to see the glow of the motors.
The fire burning from the engines can be very bright and impressive.We’re some forty five miles from the launch site, so by the time we heard it,
the craft was already in space, and all we got to see was the smoke.

Crawling the Canyon

I went for a walk uphill…. to look for a plant I’ve seen from a  bit of a distance….

Stuck in the hillside….

Old Lady Cactus

Old Lady Cactus

First I head out the door past the ‘Old Lady Cactus’ in the front yard

 

Down the Driveway
Down the Driveway

Then I go down the driveway.
Chica stayed with me as part of my ‘security detail’.

 

Remote hillside

Remote hillside

Pretty Steep hillside, footing precarious… following a narrow deerpath
The dogs turned around and went home long before this point.
They’re pretty smart.

 

The view, still a bit caged in, but more open

The view, still a bit caged in, but more open

 

 

The first sight of the Euphorbia

The first sight of the Euphorbia

Euphorbia close-up

Euphorbia close-up

Euphorbia close-up

Euphorbia close-up

Euphorbia Vista

Euphorbia Vista

It was a nice walk…

 

Arroyo Grande Morning

Arroyo Grande Morning

 

Arroyo Grande, Grande Avenue

Arroyo Grande, Grande Avenue

Arroyo Grande means ‘Big Gully’ in Spanish.

   A.G. as it is known locally, is the town north of us. Technically it is the town we are attached to, our phone bill says we are in A.G.  But in our canyon, we prefer to say we are in Nipomo, because it is just over the hill.
   A.G. is a very nice town. It has a flavor of the West combined with a hint of ‘East Coast’. The people here are really interesting also, there is a very substantial hint of ‘Old Hippie’ in this town…I fit right in.

Arroyo Grande, Grande Avenue

Arroyo Grande, Grande Avenue

  I like AG for the architecture, the old buildings, many from the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. False-front Western-style buildings rub shoulders with stone or brick buildings that look like they were brought over from Massachusetts. There is a huge diversity of shops, antique stores and boutiques which will keep many people browsing for hours. There are also some specialty butchers who process the wild game which is taken in the nearby hills, you can get some great sausage made at my favorite butcher shop on this street.

 

Arroyo Grande, Grande Avenue, Pub

Arroyo Grande, Grande Avenue, Pub

 

   AG also has some fine bars and pubs. The one in this photo is an Irish pub, and has a lion in the front window.

Arroyo Grande suspension bridge

Arroyo Grande suspension bridge

  The village of AG has a lot of reasons that tourists and travelers should stop by for a day or two.  One of them is the strange ‘Swinging Bridge’ that joins the two sides of the town as it crosses over the arroyo. This bridge was actually originally constructed in 1875 by a fellow named Newton Short who own property on both sides. He built it as a suspension bridge without sides. The sides were added in 1902. When the village of Arroyo Grande was incorporated in 1911, Mr. Short donated the bridge to the city.

Arroyo Grande suspension bridge

Arroyo Grande suspension bridge

   It’s fun to walk across this little bridge, it swings and sways, and you have a nice look deep into the gulch it is built over. Even more fun is watching the people who cross it, many people cannot seem to keep from standing in the center and making it swing just a bit side to side. Grown men become little boys when they are on something like this.

The suspension Bridge in Arroyo Grande from the creek

The suspension Bridge in Arroyo Grande from the creek

  This is a view from the bottom of the gully, looking up over the rushing waters from the recent rain, at the swinging bridge. It is easy to see why Mr. Short would have wanted a bridge to cross over the gully, it would considerably shorten the daily walks back and forth. But having it built without sides is a bit of a perplexing thing.  But I suppose after walking over it a few times without sides, it would become a regular part of the day, and not a big worry after all.  Much like working alongside a busy freeway or high up in the air on a  building. Bit by bit, the human organism becomes accustomed to the things that cause worry and consternation when first introduced.

   Arroyo Grande is right on Highway 101, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco (a bit closer to LA), so anytime you are cruising through, do take the time to pull off for a pleasant break in a quaint little town.

Fire and Rain

  It’s been said that we live our life “one foot in the cradle, and one foot in the grave”.

  Here in these hills we live our lives around two distinct realities, fire and rain.

   One represents the killing off of all life it touches… and the other one represents the giving of life, and renewal, but is also a double-edged sword.

 

  Fire is the great leveler, bringing all down in a cataclysm of ash…. capricious, often passing one home over, and destroying those around.  It can be prepared for, and the home can be shielded somewhat, but you are still at the whims of a force of nature, as awesome, uncaring and terrible as a hurricane, tornado, or artillery, and the devastation afterward can resemble an apocalyptal moonscape.  There is not a whole lot more sad than to drive through an area of burned homes, steaming stumps and chimneys marking habitations.

   Rain can come as the great cleanser after a fire. While it gives life and renewal to the natural landscape… on fire-devastated land it is the affliction that follows the curse.  The heat-sealed soil will lock tightly after a fire, creating a ‘terra-cotta’ effect, sealing off much of the soil from the water.  The water will run down ashen slopes that were covered with chaparral and trees that previously shielded the soil, preventing erosion and allowing entry of the water reducing run-off…. as the water rolls down following the contours, it will pick up stones and rocks which will break through the locked soil surface…. as they all roll into the opened raw soil, they will scour the soil creating a channel, a gully, this can quickly open pulling many tons of soil away, washing it downstream to silt watersheds, rivers and creeks… and taking the good soil from the slopes.

   The rain we got the last two days came at a good steady rate for us… we did not have any creeks running, the dry soil took all the rain that fell.  We are glad it was enough to get the ground wet, and we’re glad is was not enough to cause run-off on our place.  We pray for the places that had burns, hoping they gain a cover of green before the big rains come in Jan and Feb.

   Here’s what the weather blogger Jeff Masters says about our latest storm:

The remains of Super Typhoon Melor dumped record-breaking amounts of rain over California over the past 24 hours, but the storm is now departing the state without having caused major damage. Mining Ridge in Monterey County had an extraordinary 21.34″ of rain, and several locations in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Santa Clara counties had over 10″ of precipitation. Downtown San Francisco recorded 2.49 inches of rain, which is the greatest 24 hour rainfall for the month of October (records have been kept since 1849). Monterey also set a record for the greatest October rainfall, 2.66″. Strong winds accompanied the storm, with the Twin Peaks in San Francisco recording a hurricane-force gust of 75 mph, Angel Island, 77 mph, and Los Gatos in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 87 mph. Sustained winds in excess of tropical storm force were experienced at several locations along the coast. The Point Reyes Lighthouseexperienced sustained winds of 46 mph, gusting to 63 mph, at the peak of the storm. The Sierra Mountains probably experienced hurricane-force wind gusts, and received several feet of snow. California was lucky this storm came early in their rainy season, since the ground was dry from a year-long drought and the soils were able to absorb a great deal of the rain. Melor’s Deluge in California will be a great boon for the state, helping it to overcome one of the most severe droughts in the past 50 years.

 

 

 

 

‘Fire and Rain’
James Taylor

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus?
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way

Oh, I`ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around
Well, there’s hours of time on the telephone line
to talk about things to come


Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

  

London Double Decker Bus in SLO

A London Double Bus in SLO Calif

A London Double Bus in SLO Calif

This bus is parked at a Diesel Repair shop in San Luis Obispo.
It is a pretty impressive bus, and for sure must be fun for parades (when operational).
Someone ought to buy this rig and do tours of the sights in some town.

A London Double Bus in SLO Calif

A London Double Bus in SLO Calif

The front end needs some work though.
My guess is this is a tough machine to find parts for.