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Friday, September 9, 2011

Wildlife rebuilds after fire

As I was walking through the burned area from 3 weeks ago, I noticed this line in the ash/sand.  At first I thought it was from someone drawing with a stick.
But someone drawing with a stick would not have gone across another stick in the ground making a mark like this.  So I looked closer.
And much closer I could see that it was an ant trail that had been cleaned out by the ants.  I noticed the husks of some seeds laying beside the trail.  Perhaps when we get some rain in a month or so, the seeds will sprout and the area will turn green again.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Is this my friend's house?

The city has finally removed the road blocks from the area of my neighborhood that was burned by the fire on September 5, 2011.  I walked down the street to see how well a friend's house did in the fire.  I think this picture is the house.  It used to be a beautiful two story home and now it is a pile of brick and charcoal.
I wonder if they are going to put a "car for sale" sign on their car.. it is fairly new as I remember it, low mileage.  It could use a paint job (who is it... Earl Shibe? $299 paint special) but it should sell good.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My morning walk has turned to ash

On most mornings I take a walk around the neighborhood, chat with morning joggers, take a few pictures, do a little bit of exercising.  Often I would walk a trail through an area that is mostly covered in cedar trees/bushes, live oak trees, and weeds to look at some of the local wildlife.  We have birds, squirrels, deer, rabbits, cats, and others that I don't see.

Yesterday I walked through the area that used to have the trees.  Since it burned on August 15 things are just not the same as it used to be prior to that.  The ash on the ground remains mostly undisturbed except by the tire tracks of vehicles that were used in checking for hot spots after the fire and footprints of the people who searched and dug out the hot spots.  There are a few other footprints now, dogs, deer, and mine.  It smells like smoke and ash.  The ash lays on the ground like a thin layer of snow or frost. The charred wood and grass heats quickly in the Texas sun and the smell of charcoal is in the air all day and night.  There has been no rain to water the ash into the ground even if it could soak into the baked earth.  No new green grass shoots coming up to reclaim the sun from the now dead trees.  The only green in the burned area is the top of a broken glass bottle lying near the base of a burned tree.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hard Disk Free Space

I spent some time today burning files from my computer Hard Disk onto DvD for storage off of the computer.  I made double copies and put one away for backup and then I have one for use when I need the files. Then I delete the files off of my computer drive unless they are files that are often used.  I make a directory of each DvD by doing a DOS prompt command similar to this: DIR I: > PictureDvD207.txt

I have directory files like this on my computer and I regularly burn those files onto a backup DvD along with other files.  Only difference is that I do not delete these listings off of my computer and I use them to search for specific pictures so that I can easily grab the desired DvD.  These files are also backed up on another HDD in my computer so that if one drive crashes I still have them.

Anyway, I do this quite often; burn files to DvD, erase files from HDD.  And yet, toay I still have very little free space on my Hard Disk!  LOOK!
Here is a capture of my drive's stats as captured with Yahoo!Widgets/Screen Shooter program.  You can easily see that my data drive (Drive D:) has less than 10% free space!  I don't think 10% free space is enough to do a disk cleanup.. is it?  Might be JUST enough, but I don't have it so I can't do a disk cleanup on that drive.  I can do a cleanup on the drive that holds my operating system and a few programs and utilities. I've updated one drive to 320 Gb and filled it up, guess it is time to move up to a larger drive.  I do have other drives that are external, used for backing up data, programs,  downloads, pictures that I use a LOT, programs that I have written, etc.  If my boot drive crashes then I have about 6 hours of lost time in rebuilding it (when you figure in all the Windows Updates that have to be done too) but I don't lose any data or software that I have downloaded and installed.  I think that I have a full image (iso file) of my main drive saved off onto one of my external drives (main drive is only 160 Gb) which are 320 Gb, 500 Gb, or 2 Tb in size.  I also make some backups of other people's files if they get onto my computer for some reason (such as someone wanting me to burn a DvD or CD of their files).

Before I post this and go out taking pictures, I would like to mention that I think my FIRST Hard Disk Drive held a whopping 40 Mb.  I never filled that drive up even halfway.  Today, I have single files much larger than that on my computer!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

More Old Pictures

I've been searching through some old photos and making them of a decent file size to upload to this blog.  Here is what I found this morning:

We used to spend a lot of time at the mine

OK, it is all fake, the photo was taken at Disneyland.

Below are some pictures of my garden when it was in my front yard (about 2001 to 2008).  You can see that I did not do a lot of weeding and some places had mulch while others did not.  The 32 gallon trash barrels in the background are for collecting rainwater off of the roof.  I put 5 feeder goldfish (cost about 10 for a dollar) in each barrel to control mosquito larvae.  I figured the dropping from the fish would help fertilize anything I watered.
 Somewhere hidden in the weeds are my crops. The bushy plant on the left edge of the cattle fencing is a habenaro (sp?) pepper plant that just came up on it's own. The tiny peppers are REALLY HOT, but good for making salsa.  I gave most of them away to neighbors because I only used 1 or 2 each time I made salsa.

 Something looks strange in this picture.. OH! I must have weeded! My favorite tomatoes, Sweet 100's!  Produce a LOT of cherry tomatoes that go well in salads, salsa, or just eating as I walk out the front door.
And of course I have to grow jalepeno peppers and yellow sandwich peppers.

My Garden, not big, more of an experiment

I plant a raised bed garden each year in my small yard.  I used to plant three small beds in my front yard so I would remember to water it and weed it (basically just take care of it).  I had grapes in my back yard (removed them to build a large shed for storage) and one grape vine in front.

This is what my front yard used to look like a few years ago. A doorway through grape vines and behind it a garden on left and right as you approached the front door.

  Here are some pictures of my gardens in the past and this year.
 This was my garden bed last year, it was moved from my front yard to the side of my house.  The normal soil in my yard is about 4 inches deep before you hit some kind of hard material that does not let water soak through it. For that reason, I added some building stones around an area and fill it with more dirt making a total of about a foot deep (maybe a bit less).  I figure with proper watering and fertilizer I can grow a few tomatoes and peppers, maybe even some green beans or cucumbers.  I did not get much of a crop out of it last year because I planted much too late in the season (or at least that is what I thought at the time) and I modified it this year with a cage to keep out birds and also added a watering system.
First I plant my seeds in seed starter kits

Then I transplant them into seed cups which I cover with cutoff 3 liter soda bottles to keep them moist.

When the weather improved, I move my seeding trays and bottles outside to harden the plants in the shade.  After a few days I transplant my seedlings into the raised bed (which is filled with a mix of topsoil and purchased garden soil since my ground soil is horribly poor for growing a garden otherwise).  This year I added a cage and I installed micro drip watering on a timer to keep them watered twice a day ( I have no clue how often or how much to water them in this Texas heat and with shallow soil).
Eventually my plants started to grow inside the cage that I had built to protect the cherry tomatoes from birds.

But the plants I had in a secondary bed grew better.  The first bed doesn't get as much sunlight as the second.  Tomato plants in the first bed don't flower, while those in the second bed flower and produce fruit.  You can see how tall the tomato plants have grown and the lower green plants are lemon and lime basil.  Also in the same bed are Zinnia plants, oregeno, and yellow peppers (well, the yellow peppers have not produced any peppers yet.. I don't think they get enough sun).
I had started a LOT of tomato plants this year, so to keep from wasting them I added three 32 gallon trash bins behind my house to plant the rest of my tomato and basil plants.  The tomatoes grew tall before getting enough sun to produce flowers and fruit.  So far the only problem with pests I've had is with a couple of horn worms. The problem with horn worms is they can eat most of a tomato plant down to the stems before you see them the next day. I was lucky my plants were only half eaten and recovered after the worm removal. I learned a lot about growing a garden in containers and what amount of sunshine tomatoes take before they produce fruit. I also learned that Basil is very easy to grow, and it tastes sooooo good fresh! Oregeno does not grow so easily but it is also great fresh flavor!