Landscape Improvements

Path Through the Rocks

Last week we had our landscapers embellish our yard with some additional red rock gravel ground cover. They did a good job by placing the additional rocks and spreading them over the bare ground adjacent to the RV drive.

After the work was done, Verna went to the retention wall by the little wash behind the house and discovered that she had trouble walking on the rocks. She goes back there to feed some table scraps to the cottontails that live out there.

So, we decided to clear a pathway leading to the wall for easier access. I accomplished the project incrementally yesterday and today by raking away the red rocks and lining the path with medium round rocks. The path is “T” shaped so Verna has her access to the wall going left and I have access to the bird feeders out of view up the hill to the right.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Clear Skies Over Arizona

Clear Skies Over Arizona

Last week (10/22/2019), I captured this image from one of the GOES weather satellites in geosynchronous orbit above the western hemisphere. GOES East showed this area of the southwestern US which I cropped to highlight Arizona which is centered, more or less, in the image. The image showed the area mostly clear of clouds at that time.

October in our part of Arizona has the in-between hot summer and cooler winter temperatures which are still warm (80-90 degree highs) and we call “Second Spring” because of the flowers we have open this time of year. As I write this post, the late October temperatures have started to drop and soon we will be back in flannel and long pants.

Anyhow, back to the satellite image; you can clearly see the Mogollon Rim which is defined by the darker forested area at its southern side that extends from the New Mexico border on the east and arcs toward the north across the northeastern part of the state and ends in northern Yavapai county in north central Arizona. The two darker forested areas continuing north are the Kaibab National Forest. The gap between the southern dark area and the northern dark area is where the Grand Canyon is located.

Other interesting features visible in the image can also be seen; over in New Mexico toward the right lower side of the image you can see the White Sands area where WW2 Atomic Bombs were tested. On the left side, in California, you can see the Salton Sea. Finally, at the bottom left corner, the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) in Mexico is visible.

I look at the satellite images on a regular basis to help me identify our weather patterns. I use them in addition to radar and other tools to get an insight on our weather. You may click on the image to enlarge.

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Breaking In a New Laptop

New Laptop

Both of our computers are getting older and, as a consequence, not able to keep up with the latest things we see online or from our accessories (cameras, etc.) which interface with the computers. We’re used to our current Windoze7© operating system and it will be a little challenge to transition to the W10 version, but we’re proceeding with it. Which brings us to the new laptops; hers is this one shown in the image above and is one we bought a couple of years ago and postponed transitioning to it. But now it’s full steam ahead.

The one shown on the test bed (literally a bed) is a HP 15.6″ Touchscreen 15-g059wm Laptop (AMD Quad-core A8-6410 Processor, 4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, Windows 10 64-bit) and is still available from Amazon Marketplace, although we bought this one at Walmart (whom we no longer patronize after their gutless cave-in on guns and ammo after the El Paso shooting episode). Her computer will be ready to go after I set up some of the fundamental things she needs, i.e. browsing, email, printing recipes, Fecesbook™, etc.

The laptop I ordered will not be here until Saturday, so I will not need to begin transitioning to it until next week, perhaps. The new one is also an HP: 2019 HP 15.6″ FHD IPS Touchscreen Laptop Computer, 8th Gen Intel Quad-Core i5-8250U up to 3.4GHz (Beat i7-7500U), 16GB DDR4, 1TB HDD + 512GB SSD, 802.11ac WiFi, USB 3.1, Bluetooth, HDMI, Windows 10. I ordered it from Amazon. My transition will be a little more involved since I have a large number of applications and several peripherals that Verna’s does not. I will get through all of it in time, I’m sure.

UPDATE 10/22/2019: As of yesterday, Verna’s new laptop system has been fully integrated into her desktop setup with a 22 inch external monitor as a second desktop. The transition was smooth and with few changes to the way she has to do things. The new operating system and the computer should make for faster loading on most applications and websites.

Integrated system

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Milestone - One Decade of Retirement!

block-10.pngToday marks the tenth year milestone since I began my retirement from the Aerospace Mill for which I worked many years. I must say that those daily routines of getting up out of bed, commuting to the office, participating in whatever the plan of the day might have been, finishing up for the day, commuting back home and attending to home matters were comfortable for me right up until the last day. Now, however, at a decade down the road, I must also state that I don’t miss the old ways a bit.

During the last decade before retirement (starting 20 years ago), Verna and I spent a lot of time planning for the retirement we were to have. It turned out that by the grace of God and our own foresight, we managed to get our basic plan together. Thankfully, my employer had good a retirement plan and an incentivized 401(k) savings plan, both of which we participated in. Upon retirement, we exercised our choice to roll the 401(k) into a managed payout mutual fund designed just for retirees. We opted for the retirement pension payout as well. Bottom line: we’re doing OK.

Sure, there were still some unknowns and other events post-retirement that would shape our destiny, but the foundation for our sustenance was set by the time we were out of there. We weren’t prepared to lose our California house to flooding, for example, but our insurance payout and a fortunate find of a “flipper” to take that property off of our hands made it a sweet departure from home ownership in California. Otherwise, we would have had to do the fixing up and “flipping” ourselves for which we weren’t exactly prepared. Between that example and a couple of other post-retirement glitches, we have managed to stay afloat.

Pardon all the metaphors, but it seems that we’re set for smooth sailing for the next decade of our retirement, God willing.

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Turkey Buzzards’ Farewell

Turkey Buzzards

Now that Summer has abruptly ended (a 20° drop in daily high temperature since the first day of Fall), the Turkey Buzzards (Vultures) have been showing signs of migrating south for the Winter. Today, there were several circling overhead (as they generally do) and these two came to roost on the ridge just to the west of our back yard. It’s as if they dropped in to say adios as they head to Mexico. They will return sometime in the Spring of 2020.

More about Turkey Vultures from Wikipedia:

The Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) is a scavenger and feeds almost exclusively on carrion. It finds its food using its keen eyes and sense of smell, flying low enough to detect the gasses produced by the beginnings of the process of decay in dead animals. In flight, it uses thermals to move through the air, flapping its wings infrequently. It roosts in large community groups. Lacking a syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses. It nests in caves, hollow trees, or thickets. Each year it generally raises two chicks, which it feeds by regurgitation.

We look forward to seeing the Buzzards in the Spring when their return signals warmer weather ahead for us. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Nice Arizona Sunset Colors

Nice Arizona Sunset Colors

We finally got some decent rain yesterday when a monsoon emptied its thunderstorms in the area. We went all summer without a monsoon and finally, on the first day of autumn, we got a couple of inches of precipitation. In the aftermath today, we had some winds and a few clouds, some of which gathered to our west just as the sun was setting. I took the photo above from the courtyard with our front yard mesquite tree silhouetted against the colorful sky. Click on the image to enlarge.

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From Ancestors to Descendants

alex1.jpgToday is the fifth anniversary of the birth of our eldest Great Grandchild and the first Great Grandson, Alex. Happy Fifth Birthday to Alex and many happy returns.

That’s a recent photo of Alex at the right, nearing his fifth birthday and like all boys that age showing some maturity (his pose) and some less mature dirt on his face, typical of most normal five year old boys. Alex, his cousin Maci and brother Mikey were on a park outing when this photo was taken.

The three kids I mentioned are our three great grandchildren aged 5, 3 and 2, respectively. The kids live in the Santa Rosa area of California with their mothers, our eldest two granddaughters.

Our eldest granddaughter is the mother of the two boys aged 5 and 2. The second eldest granddaughter is the mom to our only great granddaughter (at this time).

As we watch these kids grow up at a seemingly accelerated pace, we realize that we are growing older at the same rate. We further realize that our youngest descendants are rapidly maturing to become parents themselves in years to come. We can only hope that we might still be around to see the beginning of that next generation

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