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Saturday, November 01, 2003

Early rain

Halloween night was almost spoiled by the first rain of the Winter last night. As I set up my little effects and such around 530p it started to drizzle. Luckily, the large elm tree in the front garden shields the driveway, so I was able to stay fairly dry while waiting for the trick-or-treaters.

We had about 100 kids of various ages. My little "leaf-blower ghost" effect, which pops up out of the garden has developed a bit of a reputation over the years. It is basically a trash bag pulled over my leaf blower and triggered with and X-10 remote control. Quite startling actually. Rosanne knows it is there, but I even scared her once during testing.

Around 815p the skies decided to stop fiddling around and actually rain. I tore down all the electrical parts and was comfortably ensconced back in the house by 830p.

I usually like to do a big garden leaf cleanup before the first rain of the years arrived, but this is the earliest that it has ever rained in our 17 years here in the San Fernando Valley. Now I have a mat of leaves on everything. It will take a little while for it to dry out enough to be raked and blown. I need to brush all the leaves off the roof of the house, as well. We have so many trees that it pays to sweep off the leave litter so it doesn't create a dam and force water under the shingles. We haven't had a problem with this since we re-roofed the large addition on the back, but better safe than sorry.

The locust tree outside the back door had already started turning and dropping its small leaves. The first rain usually knocks the rest of the leaves off in one fell swoop, but this this one came so early the leaves were a bit more firmly attached.

As happens every year, the first rain quickly brings forth the first bulbs. This backwards bloom always confuses me. Our Winter is like Spring most everywhere else in the country. I noticed some snow bells and daffodils starting to poke their way up. I never got my other daffodil bulbs in the ground, but figure I have some time before the next rain to do it.

It is a pleasure to get away from all the heat of last week and hopefully this will put an end to this years fire season earlier than normal. You might think the fire danger is greatest in June or July, but any firefighter will tell you that October and November are traditionally the worst, especially when we get a Santa Ana Wind as we did last week. By this time of year, everything is at its most tinder dry, waiting on that first rain of Winter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Happy Halloween!

Click for larger image

While these fine pumpkin specimens didn't come from my garden, (I wish they did), I think Joe, Rosanne and I did a fine job carving up them up. Old Jack himself would be proud, I think, although they are quite a bit larger than turnips.

Happy Halloween to all!

Smokey Tuesday

We have been pretty lucky over the last several days, as the winds were pushing the smoke from the wildfires to the west and south of us. With last night's change of wind direction, though, we have been socked in all day.

Taken around 3 pm today in Van Nuys -- Click for larger image

I was already suffering from some sinus problems, but today has been nasty. Even without any particular smoke smell, there is enough junk in the air to feel it in my breathing today.

We have kept the house closed up today, due to the heat, but I am not sure what to do tonight, when we usually open the windows to let the cool air in.

This is a cross post from my general blog, My Word.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Wildfire Information and Maps

You can get detailed maps and up-to-date information on the extent of the California Wildfires by visiting GeoMac Wildland Fire Support's California Wildfire Viewer.

It is an interactive application that allows you to quickly jump to views of each individual fire, showing areas both currently burning and already burnt.

The system is a bit slow, as you might imagine, but it is, by far, the best information available regarding fire location and extent.