The last coyote

I had to be out in the North Ranges at 6am this morning for a lengthy inspection. I drove my little work ranger around the base of the hills, at the edge of the dry lakebed, and the sun rose copper red behind smoke from a fire in the North. The light was dim, but not dark.

As I drove slowly over an unfinished road re-pave, a coyote wondered out of the desert in front of my truck. I stopped. He stopped and sat down. We stared at each other for an eternity. It felt like he looked in to my soul. It felt like we were the only two beings left on Earth. The last man and the last coyote.

With a Yip, he finally stood up and walked away.

I drove on.

Categories: animals | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

What is a mom worth?

What is a wife and stay at home mom worth? That’s the question that has been raised in a couple of venues I have been in recently. Now, I am not talking about the love aspect, because love is priceless. I can’t and won’t put a price on my love for my wife, that just IS.

My beautiful wife and I both worked when we were first wed a couple of months ago, but due to totally opposite and conflicting schedules, money that wasn’t worth the time, and just her physical well being, we decided it would be best for the family if she stayed at home. So now she is a stay at home mom and housewife and I absolutely love it. Money is tight, but the girls have their mom all day, which I believe is important. She isn’t taxing her body like she was before, which always worried the hell out of me. Also, she doesn’t have to stress and worry about her safety being a waitress working a graveyard shift.

To me, this is all priceless.

Lately she has shown some concern over money as things are tight, to which I have this to say: Babe, you are contributing more than you think. I don’t worry about things like I used to, we will get through the tight finances and debt and we will be okay. Don’t worry about not bringing home a paycheck. You do things that are just as important, if not more so, on a daily basis. I love you.

This article says these things in a much better way than I can, so I will share it for your reading pleasure: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/parenting-roles/value-of-stay-at-home-moms/the-value-of-stay-at-home-moms

Now, if some of you disagree with me and this article and think that this is all easy and stay at homes mom have it easy, I say try and do it without one. See how hard it can get. Better yet, hire out to other people. Get yourself people that do all the things a stay at home mom does and see how much it costs you. The average stay at home mom puts in 96.5 hours of work a week according to Salary.com and Forbes. Imagine paying a housekeeper, a cook, a launderer, a driver for errands, (etc.) for all of this and then having them on call for nights too. Yup, it would run you a huge bill.

In the end though, as I already said, it is all priceless. You can’t put a value on what a mom and a wife does, it will never come out right. Just love them and help them when they need it.

Categories: Family, Life, money, Work | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Fathers Eyes

I’m sitting here at work and waiting. Waiting for a phone call from someone I need to talk to about running a class and waiting for someone to come in so I can fit test his respirator. Sometimes this job is a lot of hurry up and wait. Waiting leads to thinking and pondering.

This morning getting out of bed was not high on my priority list, though it had to be done. I hit the snooze button on my alarm, only for it to magically go off again right away (I’m sure to the annoyance of my wife). I looked at the clock and it said it was five minutes later, but I know that was a lie. I had just hit the snooze button, no way it could be five minutes later. I dragged myself out of bed and in to the bathroom, cat weaving in and out of my feet, to discover the top hinge on the bathroom door was broke. Mentally cataloging another fix, I closed the door, turned on the bathroom light and looked in the mirror. It wasn’t my eyes looking back at me.

I saw my fathers eyes in the mirror looking back at me, clear as day. Sure it was my face, but it was his eyes. Not the eyes of my dad in the months before he died, but the eyes of the man I remember from 20 years ago. Still blue, but bloodshot and wrinkled in the corners, a bit of a permanent sun burn, and tired.

There is a picture of my grandfather (mom’s dad) when he was still in the army, but after he came back from Korea. He was around 21, in uniform, and sitting on some grass looking up at the camera. I first saw this picture when I was about the same age as he was in that picture. We looked just alike, scarily so. My cousin looked at the picture, looked at me, and said “You could have been twins!” Scary, especially as you know if you read my blog, my mom says that him and I are very much alike. However, as much as I may look like my grandfather, act like my grandfather, and in many ways think like him, the eyes staring back at me in the mirror are not his.

They are my fathers.

Categories: Family, Father, Grandfather | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Birthday

Today is my birthday, I am 34 years old. I don’t really know where the last ten or so years have gone, they are very much a blur. I know much of my early through mid twenties was spent in a haze of drinking my way through nights and spending my days working for peanuts. Mid to late twenties was getting myself together and going back to school, getting my heart broke, starting a job that has become my career (at least currently), moving out of my codependent mothers apartment, and just being me without someone there trying to tell me how to think and feel. Late twenties to early thirties was becoming more established in my career, reconnecting with old friends, losing old friends, getting my heart broke again, and then finding the woman and girls who would become my wife, daughters, and the loves of my life. I gained 20lbs, lost my dad, gained ten more pounds, and then got married.

My life has been easier than many other peoples in this world, but I know people that tell me I had to grow up way to fast and that I had it hard. All I know is that the preceding 34 years made me who I am as I sit here, killing time at work, writing this, and wanting to go home to my family. All in all, the 30’s have probably been the best part of my life so far.

Maybe it just gets better from here?

Categories: Family, Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wedding, breakfast, no privacy honeymoon, ducks, and cohabitation.

It’s been a life changing couple of months and I have been spending time adjusting to a new life, new schedules, etc. As I stated a few weeks ago this is why I haven’t been writing much, though I have wanted to.

On April 10th, in a small outside ceremony that was attended by most of our immediate family and close friends, my beautiful bride and I were married. My sister Margaret officiated the ceremony, making it not only short and sweet, but special. She incorporated our two daughters in to the ceremony, so for the last half they stood with us. As this was thrown together on somewhat short notice, we had no groomsmen, bridesmaids, etc. It was just us. We said our own vows; hers were written down, heartfelt, sweet, and beautiful. Mine were not written down, just a jumble of things I wanted to say and in no particular order. I kept going over it in my head in the days before the wedding so I wouldn’t forget…..I almost forgot in the moment and stumbled a little.

A word of advice, write them down.

Our reception was a small, intimate, pot luck affair. Old friends caught up, new family met, and new acquaintances were made. At the end of the day, we were so tired we went to bed early and crashed very hard.

The next day we met DjMatticus, his Queen, and the little prince for breakfast. This is the first time my Queen and their royal family have met, and everything was great. Matticus will always be my brother, part of my Ka-tet (Read the Dark Tower series).

From there it was the honeymoon weekend at a Bed and Breakfast in Bishop. That was a mixed experience. The owner of the B&B didn’t really believe in privacy, going so far as to enter the room without knocking once. My new wife was very upset. We balanced it out with a little shopping, some great bbq, the Laws Railroad Museum, Shats Bakery, and she faced her fear of ducks and survived.

She still doesn’t like the wooden duck I keep in the bedroom. She says it stares.

From there it was seeing her family off, me moving in to her rental with her and our daughters, and learning cohabitation. Our friends say that we have been acting married for a long time now, so they are glad we finally made it official. These are the same friends that say they never thought that I would get married; I was the perpetual bachelor. Perpetual bachelor no more.

I gotta say, I love being married.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Randomness

I was looking over my blog postings while killing some time at work and realized just how random I am. Some postings are history lessons, some are about my car, some are little short fictional stories, and some are basically just journal entries on my life. Are all blogs so chaotic or am I just gifted/cursed with a head full of wonderful chaos? I’ll have to ask the wife, maybe she will know?

So keeping in theme with the randomness of the day, here are some observations:

1.) I read blogs about Death Valley and other parts of the desert and people like to exclaim about how hot it is. Yet, most of them haven’t even visited during the hottest season. For us desert dwellers this is nice weather. I really want to call these people pansies, but then I realize I could never live where they do. Some live in places where they get multiple feet of snow per winter. F**K THAT! I hate the cold and I have arthritis. Others live in the city…I can’t stand cities. I can barely tolerate visiting them for a few days. Living in them? I would go insane. Too many people, too much traffic, air you can taste…no thanks.

2.) Kittens are the cutest damn things in the world.

3.) Engineers and PHD. Chemists are really really smart…yet really really dumb at the same time. No common sense.

4.) My grandparents are getting very old. This is not something that pleases me.

5.) Life is unfair and the world doesn’t owe you a damn thing. Get off your ass and do whatever you need to that will allow you to better your life. Stop making excuses and don’t blame the town where you are from. It all falls on you and the decisions you have made in life. Stop being a fuck up.

6.) What the hell, California?! (I feel that this phrase covers many topics and situations).

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

She was wating for me…..

My dad died last June, the weekend right after fathers day to be exact. He had a major aneurism a couple of days before Fathers Day, as he walked in to The Roadhouse in Kramer Junction. His Chrysler 300C was sitting beside the diner for a couple of days before my fiancée and I drove her up here. After he died she sat up here for a few months, and then was moved back down to my dads house, where it sat. My siblings and I all agreed (even the ones that do not get along), that the car belong to my brother T. T bought the car for my dad about three years before, and before my dad died he probably put close to 3,000.00 in to the car.

When my brother bought the car for my dad it had a little over 74,000 miles on it. As it sits now, it has over 247,000 miles on it, and still runs pretty strong. Mostly highway and interstate miles. The car had been in really good shape, but as my dads health became worse, his cognitive abilities lessened, the miles grew, and the car became a bit battered and bruised, inside and out. Hence, the 3,000.00 that was put in to it. Water pump, radiator, hoses, alternator, oil pressure sensor, windshield, etc.

My brother T let the car sit, he didn’t want to deal with it at first. I think later he just wanted to let the car “retire.” However, as I am getting married on Friday he agreed to let me have the car for my fiancée. She needs something other than my 21 year old, falling apart Explorer, even if it is only for a couple years until we can afford a decent car for her.

The car has been sitting since June and hasn’t never even been started as I had the only key, no ones else wanted the responsibility of the key. So last night I caught a ride to my dads, jumper cables in tow as I figured the battery would be long since dead. I walked up to my dads car wondering if I would have enough gas to drive the 20 miles to the nearest gas station, wondering if I was going to get pulled over for driving a car that wasn’t registered or insured, wondering how much money this was going to cost me in the long run, wondering if I was even going to be able to get the car registered in my name, worried that something would go wrong, and then I got a strange feeling that I should try the key, so I did.

She unlocked when I hit the button on the key fob and turned over when I started her. She had about a quarter tank of gas and all the tires were fully inflated. She had an oil starved tick from the top end when I started her, but as the oil flowed and she warmed up, she quieted down.

I pulled my dads clothes out of the trunk and put them in his house, along with his glasses and address book. I’m not sure what will happen to them, but I know that my fiancée and I will take care of his car.

As I pulled out of the gate and drove down the road, she started running even better. After using up most of the old gas and replacing it with new gas, she ran even more confidently down the road.

It was like she had been waiting for me to come back and rescue her the whole time.

Categories: Cars, Death, Family, Life | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Prospector

The wind whipped his beard and the blowing sand stung his sun and wind leathered face as he kneeled down and picked up the rock. He looked see if it had the right color, a trace of a vein, a fleck of gold, anything to give him hope. It of course had nothing, but he knew this area had already played out.

He stood up and looked towards the setting sun, figuring that this was as good a place as any to set up camp for the night. He didn’t see the beauty of the sunset now, as he did when he was younger. Numb to the bright red, pink, and orange hues that the desert sunset gave, it was just a sunset now. He took the rope to Joseph, his old mule and tied it to a thick Creosote Bush, then tied a feed bag with the last of the oats on to Joseph’s head. He was careful to take care of Joseph, the cantankerous old beast carried all his provisions, including his water. If Joseph wondered off or was injured, he might not make it out of the desert alive.

As he settled down for the night, eating some old jerky and drinking warm, stale water, he thought about the next town he could get supplies and news. He would be there by the end of the next day and would see if their were any new strikes in the area. He didn’t hold out much hope though, he hadn’t heard of any new strikes in years. The big companies owned all the mines now and most everyone he knew had died or gone off to some hospital in the Southern cities.

This was all he knew, all he knew how to be, and he would keep doing it until the buzzards took him.

As he settled in for the evening, a plane went screaming overhead disturbing his reflections. Joseph brayed and bucked, but soon settled back down in to his oats. Jets he thought, last time he had been in town he had seen one streak overhead and asked the woman at the store what it was. She said it was a new type of plane being tested at over at Muroc, it was called a Jet.

He remembered when the Corum family first settled that area, it had been big news when they had brought the post office in. He thought about times gone by as he drifted off and 60 years of prospecting the desert rolled through his brain as he slept.

Categories: History, Stories | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Los Angeles, Owens Valley, and Water

My Maternal family came to the upper Mojave Desert in the 1950’s. During that time my grandfather started talking to the “old timers” as he called them. These were men and women that were in their 50’s -80’s back in the 1950’s. My grandfather tells one story in particular about a man who came to the Antelope Valley and Mojave area with his father when he was a young boy, sometime around the late 1890’s or 1900. The old man said that at the time this part of the Mojave Desert was a very different type of Desert, almost a grassland. There were still some antelope in the Antelope Valley (Lancaster/Palmdale area), and the area was lush with wildlife. The old man, as a boy, had to ride on a mule that his father led. His father wouldn’t let him walk across this high desert/grassland because their were so many rattlesnakes, it was dangerous. These days you have to try to find a snake.

When the Death Valley 49’ers eventually struggled out of Death Valley and Panamint Valley, they came to the Indian Wells Valley. The springs they found there, down along what is now Highway 14 and in to the Antelope Valley is what kept them alive long enough to reach Los Angeles. If you go out on remote parts of what is now Edwards Air Force Base you will find remnants of duck blinds, springs, and artesian wells. That area and in to the Antelope Valley was prime duck hunting through the 1920’s. The whole area had spread out farms and ranches that were irrigated with groundwater. Up through the late 1960′ and early 1970’s there was still just enough groundwater to have a large alfalfa ranch between Boron and California City.

What is now the upper Mojave Desert, from the Antelope Valley to Mojave, to Boron, North to around Ridgecrest, and even some ways east of Boron, wasn’t the desert we know today. Wondering what happened to it? What made it the way it is now? The easiest and most direct answer is this; Los Angeles.

LA was a small and dirty city at the turn of the last century, desperately in need of water. In contrast, the Owens Valley was a farming community and was becoming the fastest growing area in California. The Owens River flowed in to Owens Lake, which was 20 miles long, pretty darn wide, and had steam paddle boats that ferried people and mining products across. There were large farms and ranches in the area, all of which used irrigation farming, and wildlife, especially birds, were abundant. In 1904, two men, Fred Eaton and J.B. Lippincott traveled through the Owens Valley on a camping trip and marveled at the available water.  Fred Eaton was the former mayor of Los Angeles and had also worked as a supervisor for the water company. J.B. Lippincott worked for the Bureau of Reclamation, which was at the time looking at a public irrigation project in the Owens Valley which would have greatly helped out the farmers.

Eaton went back to LA and convinced William Mulholland, the head engineer for the water company, that the answer to LA’s water problem was the Owens Valley, over 250 miles away. Lippincott, working for the Bureau of Reclamation, went out and surveyed the Owens Valley, found out where the water flowed, how it flowed, how much of it their was, and where the key water rights and ranches were. Instead of giving this info to the Bureau, he gave it to Eaton and Mulholland. Eaton and other LA officials were able to pass a bond in LA to get enough cash to buy the key ranches to gain the water rights in the Owens Valley. In these days, news did not travel like it does now, and the Owens Valley had no clue LA was out for its water.

After the bond was passed,at the end of 1905, Eaton and Mulholland, using Eaton’s extensive political contacts, as well as dubious tactics such as bribery and deception, to acquire enough land and water rights in Owens Valley to block the irrigation project. Eaton posed as a rancher that was working for the Bureau of Reclamation. The Owens Valley thought that he was buying land for himself, to be a rancher, and buying land for the irrigation project. By the time they found out the truth, it was too late. by 1907 LA owned the key water rights and the irrigation project was blocked. At this point the rest of the water rights were obtained through bribery and coercion. In 1908 the LA aqueduct began to take life.

When the aqueduct was completed in 1913, the all of the water that had once flowed in to the lower Owens Valley, and Owens Lake, began to flow in to LA. A substantial portion of it was diverted in to the San Fernando Valley, a agricultural community that was not yet part of LA. It just so happens that all of the key players in the purchasing of water right in the Owens Valley and various high powered political and public figures had all recently purchased land in the SFV. The land values skyrocketed, surpassing the purchase prices.

After the aqueduct was completed in 1913, Lippincott immediately quit his job at the Bureau of Reclamation and went to work for the LA Water Department.

In the 1920s, the Owens Valley farmers that had not sold out were watching their farms drained of water, nearly every drop of which was pumped into the steadily growing San Fernando Valley. By the mid 1920’s the Owens Lake had become prematurely and totally dry. In 1924 and again in 1927, protesters blew up parts of the aqueduct. This period of time is known as the California Water Wars.

In the late 1930’s LA again needed more water, so the aqueduct was extended North through the rest of the Owens Valley, Long Valley, and in to the Mono Basin. It was completed by 1940.

It was also during this time that the Antelope Valley and the upper Mojave Desert started to become the desert that it is today. The Owens River and Owens Lake fed a multitude of underground rivers and streams and traveled many many miles South. When the river was diverted, and the lake dried up, the desert took on the form we know now.

What of the Owens Valley? With its giant lake drying up faster than nature intended, their was nothing to hold down the lake bottom and it became a giant unnatural salt flat. For many years it became the single worst source of dust pollution in the United States, it still may be. The wind will create alkali dust storms that that carry away as much as four million tons (3.6 million metric tons) of dust from the lakebed each year. The dust plumes can at times be seen from space, and will travel as far South as LA, can’t say I feel sorry for them though.

A decades long court battle ensued because of these dust storms, with the Owens Valley finally winning in the end. LA has to now put back just enough water to stop the dust storms and create some bird habitat.Not enough to restore Owens Valley. LA wasn’t exactly happy about having to give back water. Last year, they devised a way to till the land and cover it with giant dirt clods. In theory, the clods will hold the dust down and LA will only have to give 1/3  as much water as before. Only time will tell if this method actually works.

Today, NASA says that California only has one year left of water. It seems that in the end, LA raping the Owens Valley didn’t help it. Karma is coming, just too late to actually affect the men who legally stole the water in the first place.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A visit from the dead

The dead came to visit me the other night. As I lay in my half awake, half asleep state from possibly hearing a noise, I felt them rush into the room, a wave of pressure and fury. I stayed still, eyes closed, refusing to acknowledge their angry presence. If you don’t communicate with them they can’t hurt you, right? I could feel them watching me, waiting with malevolent and hungry intent. Part of me wanted to grab the 45 on the nightstand, another part of me said “stay still, the gun won’t matter anyway.”

Then all at once they were gone. The dead travel fast.

Next thing I know my alarm is going off and I am waking up with what feels like a sinus infection. Was it a dream brought on by my illness ? Was it real? Am I just crazy?

Categories: Supernatural | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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