Monday, December 28, 2015

Tree cutting around the house Dec 2015


Merry Christmas to everyone! 

After the Butte Fire, I took a look at my house and realized that there were some trees that were too close to the house. However, they also were hanging over the play house on the deck and I knew there was no way I could remove them myself. Here is what they looked like...and the one branch was within 2 feet of my roof.

As you can see from the one on the left, the play house was covered.. and the one on the right, the branch is nearly touching the roof of the deck.

I asked around and got a recommendation for a local company called Lone Pine Tree, owned by Dennis Caywood.  Lone Pine Tree He came out and gave me a quote but he had about an 8-10 week backlog of work! And no, he wasn't cheap.. in fact he is more expensive than the others but he has a great reputation, and he is fully licensed and insured. We originally talked about him coming out in February because of his workload. But surprisingly, he gave me a call on Monday and said he could fit me in that Sunday if I was willing to let them work on Sunday.I said yes of course!
It was a dry and brutally cold day, around 29 degrees and covered in frost when they showed up on Sunday morning. They backed their trucks up the hill and got to work so fast! The first tackled the playhouse trees which were the trickiest.. see below.

Do you see the guy IN the tree doing the cutting? His name is Angel and his job was to climb up these trees and take out the high branches. They made a joke about not needing a "boom" truck, real lumberjacks don't use them. 

And then they moved on to the other trees...

Sun coming up and shining on Angel still in the tree.

They keep cutting and cutting and poor Angel had to stay up in those frosty trees for 2 hours!

But then, when they were finished it looked so nice!

I can see from my deck all the way down the hill again. And the trees branches are back a safe distance from my roof. I still have to bring up the logs they cut, split and stack them for wood next year but it is really nice to have this part of it done.

Have a Happy New Year!


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Trip To Finland Sept 2015


My new job with Nokia requires that I go to Finland for work to the headquarters. My first trip was in late September and since I have never been there before, I stayed an extra day to see the city. 

It was actually gorgeous weather the Saturday I was out and about.. so everyone in the city seemed to be out as well. They have a lot of shopping centers and it seems that shopping, along with coffee, chocolate and ice cream are a national pastime. I went to the fish market and then out to an island fortress called Soumenlinaa. Soumenlinna Official Website
Here are the pictures from the trip..
National Museum




Fortress Wall

Island Church

Signs were funny! But about 400 people live on the island year round

Fortress wall
Inside the wall

Tunnel through the wall

Cannons still there!

Kings gate

View from on top of the walls

Finnish flag flying on the top of the fortress

Beach Area - this was used as a picnic spot for centuries by the Finns

Beach Rocks

Hundreds of names and initials are carved in the rocks

this was from 1830

Building on the island

View back to the Helsinki harbor

It was a good trip - and I have already had to go back! This last one I managed to get over to Trondheim for a weekend as well.. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Onions and Garlic Planting - Halloween 2015


So first I would like to say that I am sorry for not posting in such a long time. In late August, I left Riverbed where I had worked for 10 years and took a job with Nokia Technology. That job was about a 2 hour commute from my house so I decided to move closer to it last weekend. I have been so busy that writing the blog entries just couldn't fit in. But as it was Halloween yesterday, you know what that means? It is time to plant the garlic and onions! You have to understand that I still have some onions and garlic left as well but they will not last more than a few months.
First, of course I added some more compost and organic fertilizer to the beds and worked that in well.
Adding compost to the beds
Spacing the beds

Yellow Onions

This time I decided to not crowd the onions so much and spread them out more, with one bed being red onions and the other yellow.The room that was left, I planted with garlic that I harvested from the biggest bulb of last years crop. 

Bulbs in the bed- onions are in the background.
garlic bulbs

All total, it was about $30 to do this. The onion were $10 for 100 starts, so yes that is 0.10 per start. When I was shopping last year, organic red onions were selling for $2 each so I am thinking this is probably one of the best investments I have here at the house!

And finally, some of my greenhouse residents, the California tree frog. They move in during the summer and winter and move out when the rain comes... which is hopefully soon!
Can you see them?

 The frogs are all colored differently and they blend in really well.

This one is an easy one for you! He was just looking out the window..


Sunday, September 20, 2015

House Update after Butte Fire 9/20/2015


I am happy to say that my house is still standing after coming very close in the Butte fire. The fire came within less than a mile from my house but the fire line was able to hold. Over 500 homes were lost in the area which is a huge percentage when you consider how many people live there. Here are some pictures and links...

Fire Map

This was Saturday at 11 AM

Sheriff coming to tell us to evacuate but we weren't there - notice the glow in the air?

This is Saturday as the fire is close by...that is smoke.. not fog.

This is just before the fire got going... notice the difference in the air? Plus I love this turkey!

We had to wear masks the smoke was so bad..
I am so grateful that we have a house to go back to... and now I can focus on the other things that need to be done.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Update on Butte Fire 9/13/2015


I went up with my son yesterday to go check on things and the house is still there... This morning the fire was at 65K acres and 20% contained which is a lot better than in the last couple of days. We are still under mandatory evacuation and the fire right now is 1.42KM away from my house which is a little closer than before. We saw the crews and heard the bulldozers cutting the fire lines so we know they are trying to make a stand. The town of Mokelumne Hill looks okay right now, the old historic downtown and the houses by it. You can see the fire wrapped around the town on the map so the firefighters must have fought it there too. I am afraid my realtor who sold me this house lost her house as she is under the pink zone there... I emailed her but haven't heard yet.

The fire map this morning... the star is my house
Yesterday morning about 10 AM

You couldn't breathe the smoke was so bad and we had to wear masks.. the power has been out so we cleaned out the freezer and fridge and dried everything up. Right now it is all in a big trash can until the dump opens this weekend. Our clothes smelled like smoke and we didn't stay long. There are looters in the area which is upsetting but once again, my location is such that it will keep my house somewhat protected I think. 

The weather today is cooler with higher humidity and less wind so that should help..


Friday, September 11, 2015

Butte Fire 9/11/2015


My house is currently surrounding by the Butte Fire here in California.. my son was able to go up and rescue some items and while it seemed close this morning it looks better now.

to follow the fire ;
twitter #ButteFire
fire map...,-120.6889469,4384m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!6m1!1szp8nK_5H0MFQ.kzTmU5XK-qJQ?hl=en


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Beeswax Candles - My First Try at Making Them...


I got the brilliant idea one day to try and make beeswax candles after reading an article in Mother Earth news about them. Since I have a bunch of hives, I asked my beekeeper if he had any beeswax he could give me.. and he left me this;
This is beeswax after being removed from the hive and it is dirty! Well the article said the best way to melt it was to put it in a cooler with a light bulb overnight, which I did.

But it didn't work at all. I asked around and found an old crockpot that someone didn't use anymore and started melting the wax in that.

It worked a lot better but once it was melted, what do I do then? I first tried to put it in a plastic container but couldn't get it out very well.
Now What?

Then I lined it with foil and that worked better.... came out like this. 
The dirt went to the bottom so I could scrape it off... I ended up melting it 4 times. The next weekend I was going to make candle but didn't have anything that would work for a mold. So I used a plastic egg carton from Costco. (Not paper which would stick, or styrofoam which would melt) They had little gaps between the cups that I filled with wax and then I used a bit of wax to hold the wick in place.

Wicks with wax 

Filling them up

All the way full now

Waiting for them to cool

Once they cooled the popped out pretty nicely but man were they ugly!
Not pretty to look at!

They did burn nicely though!
So now I need to find a proper mold to put these into... so that I don't have short, ugly candles. Oh and this ruined a bunch of utensils so you have to be careful of what you are doing....