Friday, May 30, 2008

sight of a lifetime

A buddy of mine located a sharpshin nest and we've been watching it for a couple weeks. I haven't seen much action, myself: mostly the male ("musket") preening, and the female once.

The babies are due to hatch fairly soon, so we've stepped up the observation.

There's a spot where they transfer food a short distance from this hiking trail. I got there about 5:40, sat down and barely 5 minutes later the musket showed up -- he cruised around me and up towards the nest site, but continued past. I lost him for a little while, though I saw him circle around high up once. About 10 minutes later he came back and chirped once. This time he had a little bird that he was plucking in the tree right next to the trail. I could see feathers dripping down. Then he moved and started chirping a lot, and the female came and they did a transfer. It was so fast it was like a mugging.

They were both gone for a few minutes, then he showed up and preened a short while, then flew deeper into the woods.

I didn't see the female come in, but just briefly they were both back at the transfer spot. Then she turned around and flew straight toward me, heading back to the nest. She flew *2 feet* over my head. The air rushing through her wings was loud as a stage whisper. I could have put my hand up and caught her, or more likely ended up with a sharpy-shaped hole in my hand. I was completely amazed and thinking I would never see something like this again.

I waited another 15 minutes to make sure they were away, then moved to a spot on the trail where we can best see the nest. This time I saw her tail tip, right against the tree. I saw her move twice, like she stood up and sat down again.

Jelly knees!

Monday, May 26, 2008

lawn education

As I posted earlier, I have no familiarity with lawns at all, and now I'm getting some. The house has one of those sprinkler timers, which is a good thing to have if you want to water at night. What was driving me spare was the box can control 9 groups of sprinklers, but after running all 9 I couldn't get the front and side yard. None of the 9 switches controlled those areas.

I resigned myself to having to water the thing by hand. Which I've been doing.

Until today, when I sat down and studied a pair of pipes in front of the house. They were obviously water. I figured they were cutoff valves and had been turned off, so once they were on, the Rainbird would work. Each had a small black slider set to the off position, so I turned one on. Water started gurgling.

Those were the sprinkler switches. They weren't hooked to the control box at all. One covered the front, the other the side yard. It's manual in a way -- it won't automatically turn on and off at 2 a.m. like the other set -- but at least I don't have to stand around and walk around with a hose anymore.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


For some reason, every house in this neighborhood has a shed in the backyard. I guess it was the style then. At my place, someone built a playhouse attached to the shed. I repainted the interior last week (from lurid orange to the greenish-white I picked for one of the bedrooms), and this week turned it into a mews. I built a door, hung it, screwed PVC bars on the windows, and threw in one of my ubiquitous green outdoor carpets.

Not that I'll actually use it for keeping hawks. It's nice to know that I could, though. No, it's mostly for legal reasons that I want to have it. USFWS and F&G can legally come onto your property to inspect your mews: that is one privacy that you give up when you become a licensed falconer. If you have an outdoor mews, they cannot enter your home without a warrant. Ergo, if they're having a crackdown, this mews will keep them out of my house. Not that I have anything in particular to hide, but when they're on the crackdown agenda, they consider you guilty already, and seize whatever they think may prove your illegal activity: in short, the computer.

Now, they can have just about anything they want except my computer. I need it. It's work, it's about half my social life, it's shopping, it's research, it's my preferred medium for creativity these days. I back it up regularly but not frequently enough to keep up with everything I do. I cannot afford to have it taken away.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

well, maybe not just one

Those were the minimum essentials for living. There are a whole bunch of optional things that I could do/get. This is why Home Depot makes a lot of money.

- a small TV stand with a cabinet, for my baby stereo
- replace an incredibly noisy fluorescent fixture in the kitchen with something cool looking
- get some decent lighting in the living room. There really isn't any.
- replace or repair the bathroom faucet which isn't quite properly seated
- replace some wobbly pipes behind the bathtub

Saturday, May 17, 2008

just one thing left to go

The new sofa and chair are here, as are several secondhand items from Craigslist rounding out the complement of furniture. Still to come is a coffee table (new), and that will do it.

A few days ago I bought a coffee table on CL for $35 but it just didn't work with the carpet. So I turned it around and put it right back on CL for the same $35. I am Asian and I hate to say this but Asians from the old country can be jerks. This lady knows it's a steal at $35, and she certainly can afford $35, but she still offers $25. I stand firm, she offers $30, then when I note that I've fixed up the lame foot and added some clear pads under the glass and I'm not asking for more than what I paid for it -- finally she meets my price. Haggling between Americans always seems much more straightforward, and it's generally not done for something as cheap as $35. We save our haggling powers for the big-ticket items, and we don't fuss over nickels.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

exactly one

It's one year that she's been gone and so much has changed. I don't think about her every day now (housebuying and moving chaos logistics have been distracting) and there is a new woman who might become an important part of my life. But the mate is with me and in me; conscious thought isn't necessary for her to influence my choices.

I think I'm relatively happy, which she wanted me to be. I think that's all a person can ask for.