Archive for the ‘General Information’ Category



The California Settlers are now reasonably settled. The initial “shock and awe” experienced by settlers arriving at their new location has waned a bit and everyone has calmed down becoming more comfortable and familiar with the new surroundings.

Jim no longer takes 100’s of photos of sunsets, sunrises, clouds, plants, animals, and anything else that catches his eye in the process of exploring the new area. He is now more discriminate with his photo selections. He now concentrates on finding the better shot of what he already has and spending time cataloging the photos to see what he is missing.

Jim and Judy have become more involved with local activities. Judy continues to improve her garden and is active in the Temecula Garden Club. Jim is active with the Santa Rosa Plateau (SRP) and is leading 3rd-grade students on Nature Hikes several times a week. Judy has also been volunteering at the SRP occasionally working at the SRP Visitor Center and finding it a lot of fun.

I have settled in as well. I no longer run and hide on Thursday’s when the trash trucks arrive, nor do I run and hide every time the doorbell rings. The skateboarders however still bother me somewhat. Karter my next door neighbor comes by most every day and we converse through the screen – he from the outside and me on the inside. He is a big showoff and occasionally drops off  a present at our back door demonstrating his hunting prowess.

When I am not napping, begging for food, lying stretched out absorbing the sunlight, rubbing against Jim and Judy’s legs, or stomping all over them in the middle of the night, I have been studying the geology of our new location. I learned that we are residing in a GRABEN. I suggested to Jim that we probably ought to change the name of our BLOG now that we are comfortably settled in. My suggestion was to name the BLOG to “From the Graben.” I further suggested that Jim create an illustration explaining a GRABEN (see below). Part of my rationale is that From the Graben would best describe the specific area where we now reside, not to mention that I love that sinking feeling.

GRABEN – In geology, a graben is a depressed block of land bordered by parallel faults.
Graben is German for ditch. A graben is the result of a block of land being downthrown
producing a valley with a distinct scarp on each side. Graben are produced from parallel
normal faults, where the hanging wall is downthrown and the footwall is upthrown. The
faults typically dip toward the center of the graben from both sides.

With regards,
Velcro, the CAT

“OH, it’s been a long long day . . . . . . . .”




 The Marine Layer 

Marine Layer Lifting


  While growing up in Southern California (SoCal) I was always interested in the weather. As a child I built a weather station in our backyard and monitored it daily recording all the data and plotting graphs and charts. One of my friends at the time gave me a subscription to the US Weather Service daily weather maps which arrived by mail several weeks past the real time dates. The weather in SoCal hasn’t changed much in all those years. It is still pretty boring for weather enthusiasts (weather weenies).  

What has changed is the technology and tools. NEXRAD radar, satellite imagery, forecast models, and the Internet now provides real-time weather reporting, maps, and warnings. The other change that I have noted is the terminology used by today’s network weather oracles to describe the often mundane weather in SoCal.  

I recall when growing up in SoCAL during the early summer months we would often wakeup in a FOG (meteorologically speaking, of course) which is now referred to as the Marine Layer by the SoCAL weather oracle community. The fog would usually burn-off before noon just late enough to ruin plans for an early beach day. Of course this fact isn’t revealed by SoCal natives to the outside world for fear of diminishing the tourist traffic. Much like the Seattle, WA natives seldom speak to the outside world regarding the traffic on Interstate-5.  

The other day I was actually startled to hear one of the weather oracles utter the word fog. I had never seen this oracle before, nor have I seen him since.  Obviously he was new and now no longer, most-likely being punished for uttering the banned weather word. Today this marine layer ebbs and flows along the coastal communities and sometimes reaches over the Santa Ana Mountains into the Inland Empire just the same as the fog did 40 years ago. We have had a number of foggy mornings; I mean marine layered mornings that have made their way over the Santa Rosa Plateau and into our backyard. They do provide for a nice cool day.  

Marine Layer Burn Off  (VIDEO) Click to veiw time-lapse VIDEO of Marine Layer (a.k.a. FOG) lifting (dots are birds-hummingbirds and finches).  

Gray May – June Gloom  

The SoCal weather oracles have developed meteorological terms to describe the marine layer phenomenon. Gray May describes the flow of the marine layer in the month of May and June Gloom describes the same event in the month of June. June Gloom was actually extended into July this year which locals tell me never happens. The forecast for later this week is for the marine layer to make several more appearances along the coast and Inland Empire a – August Disgust, I imagine!  


Spring 2010 rainbow from the backyard of our new home.


During a winter visit to SoCal several years ago there were a lot of nice cumulus clouds while we were there. At the time Jason was fascinated by the clouds and repeatedly photographed them. I must admit they were impressive but they were just clouds commonly seen on the east coast throughout the year. I asked Jason about the fascination and he told me that winter was the only time they got clouds like this. I had forgotten that fact having spent the last 40 years living in the mid-west and east coast.  

When we arrived in SoCAL in mid-November we had clouds on a regular basis which continued through the rainy season and into spring. I was impressed by the beautiful sunrises and sunsets that the clouds provided and took advantage by photographing a lot of sunrises, sunsets, and rainbows. Becoming busy with settling into our new home there was always more work to do and as the clouds drifted out of sight with the changing season, they drifted out of my thoughts as well.  

The Southwest is currently in the monsoon season. I never thought there was such a thing until I attended a conference in Phoenix, AZ years ago. I was expecting nice dry heat and couldn’t believe how humid it was. I awoke the other morning and when opening the blinds and curtains to welcome the new day, I observed CLOUDS! “Wow,” I thought, “clouds, neat little popcorn cumulus clouds, VERY COOL!” Some of the monsoonal moisture had moved in from the east overnight. I now know the feeling that Jason was having with his fascination of the cool clouds. I hadn’t missed them until I saw them again, and they were impressive. I was rewarded that evening with one of the more spectacular sunsets we have seen since we have been in our new home.  

Popcorn cumulus cloud sunset - early summer 2010


We were fortunate to spend nearly 40 years living in the Midwest and Northeast, areas where one can experience the change of seasons firsthand. It is nice however to be back in Southern California enjoying the uneventful, mostly sunny, weather and listening to the network weather oracles try to make the mundane same day-after-day weather into something it is not. But I suppose that isn’t really much different from the eastern network weather oracles competing to predict the exact time of arrival and the precise amount of snowfall the approaching storm will bring.  

Since everyone experiences the weather and you are in the business of talking about it you had better be prepared. You can either impress the masses with your meteorological knowledge and prowess, or you can be an attractive person of desirable proportions that will distract the viewer from whatever you are saying.  

CA Settlers  

Jim, Judy, and VELCRO  


"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."   Mark Twain


Predation in California

American Kestrel with prey

 Yesterday afternoon I observed some activity on the chimney of the house across the street. Upon closer observation I noticed a handsome male American Kestrel dining on some prey he had just captured. The captured prey turned out to be another bird and the kestrel was wasting no time in consuming his prey.  

It was difficult to positively identify the prey bird but unfortunately the bird appeared to be a Spotted Towhee.  

Predator/prey relationships generally have a winner and a loser. If the predator succeeds – the predator wins! If the prey escapes – the prey wins!  Seldom, if ever, is there a win/win situation. The natural world is beautiful, but not neccessarily kind. It’s all about survival.  

Today we personally experienced a Predator/Prey relationship and like most all Predator/Prey relationships there was a winner and a loser.  

When I was closing the trunk to the car after grocery shopping yesterday I noticed that the sticker on our PA license indicated that it had expired on 03/2010. I thought that couldn’t be true we purchased the car in late August 2009. We did however transfer Judy’s Handicap plate from her trade-in to the new car. Still believing that the license plate had been updated to the same calendar as our new vehicle purchase, I checked the PA registration – “EXPIRY 03/2010,” it read. We had been driving our vehicle in CA for a month without a valid registration.  

I had a sinking feeling that I had just become a target Spotted Towhee. I returned home and after unloading the groceries, I immediately went to the computer and “googled,” well actually “binged” (I’m trying it out) the CA DMV. A nice website with all the neccessary information I needed – online forms to fill and print out. That accomplished we settled down for the night and rested for what was about to come.  

We headed to the Hemet, CA DMV office this morning hoping that it would not take a lot of time to get the problem resolved. After a 30 minute drive we arrived at the DMV office and there were people wrapped around the building waiting to get in to conduct business. With Judy’s handicap we were able to “buck the line” and go right in. We received our number and two hours later our number was called. The towhee was now heading directly towards the kestrel. The clerk was very nice and accepted our documentation.  

After a considerable amount of time while the clerk, working on behalf of the kestrel, calculated all the figures informed us that State of California (kestrel) would require $802 to register our “out-of-state” vehicle. The kestrel was now picking the bones of the towhee and it didn’t feel good at all. We paid the kestrel and now have a temporary registration but still have to get a SMOG test before they will provide us with a permanent registration and license.

The natural world is beautiful, but not neccessarily kind. It’s all about survival – and the State of California continues trying to survive.  

We feel blessed that we have already had more than $802 worth of sunrises, sunsets, sunshine, rainbows, and new places to explore and visit that have cost us nothing. It all equals out! 

On a positive note, we attended the Temecula Valley Garden Club Flower Show over the weekend and placed some raffle tickets in some of the nice offerings. Yesterday, I received a call that we had won the Picnic Pack. Both of us had forgetten which offering that was but when I picked it up this morning it turned out to be one of the one’s we both wanted.