Year of the cock

“Year of the Fire Rooster comes a crowing saying, Wake up!  His crow alerts us that a new day is dawning, but we must rise and mobilize into action as we come together for the wellbeing of our roost/planet,” says Mysticmamma.com in the Astral Insights article, “Chinese Astrology for 2017 Year of the Fire Rooster~.”

DSC_0089 Year of the cock 2017

Our rooster couldn’t wait to arrive at Agua Caliente County Park in the Anza-Borrego Desert to celebrate and crow about the new lunar year, the Year of the Fire Rooster, which promises to “be yet another super-charged year, infused with intensity,” as noted in Sara Coughlin’s “What You Should Expect During The Year Of The Rooster.”  In CNN’s Year of the Rooster article, Hong Kong fortune teller Priscilla Lam predicts “What’s in store for world’s top leaders.”  Not surprisingly, she predicts, “There will be protests” (which have already begun, as seen in the Indivisible movement*).

DSC_0024 Year of the Rooster table

Unless I was determined to photograph the desert sunrise, I awoke on most mornings, not to the crowing of the rooster,* but to the sight of beautiful golden rays of sunlight bathing the interior of our 2007 Airstream Safari trailer.

DSC_0092 Surnrise in Airstream trailerMeanwhile, Larry has already been up and setting up our festival tree with Chinese New year decorations.

According to Wikipedia, red is the predominant color used in Chinese New Year celebrations.  Red is an auspicious color, an emblem of joy and symbolizes virtue, truth and sincerity.

Seen below are two red and gold firecracker decorations used to scare away evil spirits and associated with the Chinese New Year Legend of Nian.*  Below the firecrackers are three fish symbolizing wealth and abundance.

 

DSC_0087 Chinese New Year decorations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the day, Larry worked on a new Happi coat

DSC_0047 Larry worked on Happy Coat

while I hiked and photographed ocotillo showing new green growth due to recent rains.

DSC_0096 Ocotillo new growth

Abundant rainfall this season should produce a wonderful spring wildflower season.  But winter is not over.

DSC_0123 Desert dusk silhouette

A chillness set in as the sun descended and the Full Snow Moon* rose following seasonal planetary and natural cycles.

DSC_0120 Snow moon rising

History is also seasonal with recurring generational cycles, called turnings, according to the Strauss-Howe generational theory created by authors William Strauss and Neil Howe and explained in their book The Fourth Turning.*  Apparently, in this theory, we are currently in the “Crisis era“, analogous to the seasonal cycle of winter, which is followed by the “High era“!

With the turning of winter into spring, we look forward to returning to the desert this month to chase the lion and welcome the lamb and feel the sunshine, which almost always makes me high!*

In Like a Lion Out Like a Lamb,”* a beautiful poem by Marion Dane Bauer (read aloud).

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Carnival season in the desert

Carnival season is an annual period of public revelry traditionally beginning on Twelfth Night (January 6), and culminating on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), and is thought to have its origins in primitive times as a way of celebrating the new year, return of the sun, and rebirth of nature.  For us, it began in the Anza-Borrego Desert with gorgeous sunrises that make it worthwhile to leave a warm bed before the crack of dawn, quickly throw on clothes and scamper out of the Airstream Safari with a Nikon camera* in hand to capture the moment.*

DSC_0017 Desert sunrise

Larry had gotten up even earlier and was chatting with Monica from San Diego with her rescue dogs Gus & Bali (whom we have seen here on two other occasions).

DSC_0027 Larry, Monica with Gus & Bali

After my photo shoot, I dashed back into the trailer to get warm and brew coffee.*  I love the aroma of coffee steaming up from the filter and glistening in the morning sun. (They have a lot of coffee in Brazil per The Coffee Song sung by Frank Sinatra)*  (In the background of the photo below are homegrown Mexican limes from Monica’s garden.)

DSC_0047 Coffee steaming

For years we have enjoyed deliciously rich San Francisco Bay French Roast Whole Bean Coffee, available at Costco and made by the socially responsible Rogers Family Company,* who run their own coffee farms and mills. As the sun rose and the air warmed, I enjoyed this coffee, along with panettone (seen below)* and apple and orange slices at the picnic table festooned with carnival beads, masks, and Mardi Gras colors of purple (justice), gold (power), and green (faith).

DSC_0102 Panettone on Mardi Gras table

Venetian masks, such as the Commedia dell’Arte mask (seen above) re-emerged in 16th-century Italy and became the emblem of Carnevale di Venezia,* and allowed people to feel free and able to express themselves regardless of social class.  Carnival was outlawed by the fascist government in the 1930s and it was not until a modern mask shop was founded in the 1980s that Carnival enjoyed a revival.  “People dress up because they need moments of freedom,” says artist mask maker Sergio Boldrin.* (Enjoy the spirit and beauty of the masks and this season by viewing Mysterious masks of Venice masquerade*)

The jester character is the most popular costume for Mardi Gras.  Jesters often wear a motley costume of bright colors, especially the Mardi Gras colors, and a distinctive hat with floppy points with jingle bells.  Jesters are often seen laughing and holding a mock scepter.  (See The Jester; Court Jester or a Fool!*)  Larry enjoyed sewing jester style floppy points together for a costume collar for our corgi Mac.

DSC_0160 Larry sewing jester hat pieces

DSC_0201 Mac with jester collar

Meanwhile, I enjoyed another hike. This time I joined Monica for a hike up Agua Caliente County Park’s Desert Overlook Trail, which features views of the entire park and surrounding desert floor as seen in “It’s cooking up in the desert, again!

DSC_0176 Monica on Desert Overlook Trail

At sunset we lit on our festive wreath celebrating the return of the sun…*

DSC_0180 Festive wreath and sun

and enjoyed the Full Wolf Moon.*  Giorgia Fumanti: *Spente le stelle*

DSC_0185 Full Wolf Moon

The next full moon will occur on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar calendar and will mark the celebration of the Chinese Lantern Festival,* the final day of the lunar new year celebrations.*  2017 is the Year of the Fire Rooster.*  (See your Chinese zodiac horoscope prediction!)*

Encore song: Emma Shapplin – Spente Le Stelle*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

10-year sealed battery requirement for smoke alarms!

More cities and states are now requiring that “new smoke alarms that are solely battery powered must have a non-replaceable, non-removable battery that is capable of powering the smoke alarm for at least 10 years.”  Kidde lists the following states and cities with 10-year smoke alarm laws: Oregon, California, Louisiana, North Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Phoenix, New York City, Madison WI, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Louisville.  Although many of these laws, such as California’s smoke alarm requirements, apply to dwelling units intended for human occupancy and not to mobile homes or coaches, the laws impact RVers by limiting the selection of types of smoke alarms locally available when it is time to replace a 10-year old alarm (its life expectancy).

Our 2007 Airstream Safari is now 10 years old and like clockwork, its OEM Universal Security Instruments SS-775 smoke and fire alarm installed by Airstream (seen below in upper left corner) stopped working and required replacement.

DSC_0035 2007 Airstream Safari interior

My first impulse was to replace it with the same or similar model so that it would be easier to install in its original mounting bracket.  But as I did more research, I thought it would be best to comply with the growing national trend requiring 10-year sealed batteries… and would be a selling point when we sell the trailer (see CA smoke alarm law video).*

Once I decided on getting a smoke alarm with the 10-year sealed battery, I had to choose the sensor type: ionization, photoelectric, or a combination of both.  See the excellent video “How do Smoke Detectors Work“.*  This video explains that photoelectric sensors are better at detecting slow, smoldering, and generally smokier fires, whereas ionization sensors are better at detecting smaller amounts of smoke that come from fast flaming fires, and are more common and less expensive.  Our OEM smoke detector used an ionization sensor.

I found and installed an economical, ionization smoke alarm with good reviews: Kidde i9010 model (aka Code One 10-Year Lithium Battery Smoke Alarm at Home Depot for $17.97).  One of its features is that it has a Hush Button that allows nuisance alarms to be quickly silenced, as required by California’s Updated Smoke Alarm Requirements.  For example, if the alarm goes off when cooking and the hush button is pushed, you have about 8 minutes of silence, permitting time to open the door, windows, and turn on exhaust fans to clear the air!

Our new smoke alarm (seen below) is about an inch wider and was placed in the same location as the OEM model.

DSC_0211 Newly installed smoke detector

I reused one of the original alarm ceiling holes and started a new hole with a smaller drill bit for the other screw.  I used the original OEM model screws since they were shorter than the ones supplied with the new alarm (and I didn’t want to risk puncturing the exterior aluminum panel)!  The mounting bracket was screwed in place and the alarm was placed on the bracket and rotated clockwise until it ratcheted in place and automatically activated as indicated by an audible beep and confirmed by pushing the test button.  The sensor was tested by blowing out several votive candles under the unit, which then elicited its signature sounding of high pitched triplets.*  This unit is equipped with a red LED indicator light that flashes about every 40-45 seconds in the standby mode indicating it is receiving power.

DSC_0218 Kidde i9010

Walter Kidde founded the Walter Kidde Company in 1917 and “produced the first integrated smoke detection and carbon dioxide extinguishing system for use on board ships in 1918.”  Kidde is now a division of United Technologies, “built on the pioneering innovation of our founders [such as Walter Kidde] and the industries they created.”*

Smoke Alarms Save Lives*                           Smoke Gets In Your Eyes*                          Learning to eat fire*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Haunting echoes of Canada geese

Like clockwork every fall, Canada geese and Bert and Janie Gildart wing their way south to milder climes.

DSC_0079 Bert Gildart- A Movable Feast

The significance  of this event is conveyed in Bert’s article, “A Movable Feast,” Airstream Life, Winter 2016, page 44:

High overhead, a flock of Canada geese were winging their way south through the chill night air. Wave after wave passed above us, honking among themselves. As we watched, they vanished much too soon, leaving only faint, haunting echoes.

To some, the sound of the geese is synonymous with the changing of the seasons. To me, hearing them on the eve of the equinox was an omen that fall throughout the Northwest would be a season of splendor, unveiling many wonders as it had done so many times before while I made my autumn journey south following the sun, the birds, the peak transformation of fall foliage, and the pageantry of wildlife preparing for winter.”

This season, unexpected surgeries have delayed Bert and Janie’s trip south, as detailed in Bert’s blog post last week, “Open those Stored Boxes. They Could Surprise!

Former back-country ranger in Glacier National Park, writer/outdoor photographer/Airstreamer Bert Gildart has been providing spectacular photos and enriching stories for Airstream Life ever since it’s first issue, Summer 2004.

DSC_0027 Bert Gildart focuses Nikon

Snowbirds, Bert and Janie, have often spent winter months in Borrego Springs with friends while hiking and photographing interesting sites such as the Sculptures of Ricardo Breceda, Galleta Meadows, Borrego Springs, as documented in Bert’s post, “Year of the Dragon” and my post, “In pursuit of dragons and pearls.

DSC_0081 Bert & Janie, Larry holding pearl

For the past 6 years, we have preferred the quieter Agua Caliente County Park 45 minutes south of Borrego Springs, where we have enjoyed Bert and Janie’s visits while spending time hiking and feasting!

DSC_0092 Bert & Janie gaze at sheep

Bert points to bighorn sheep on nearby ridge (note the size of his telephoto lens)!

DSC_0078 Bert focussing on bighorn sheep

His happiness is contagious!

DSC_0079 Bert's happy to see bighorn sheep

And he knows how to light up a scene… and brighten our spirits.

DSC_0125 Bert's lighting technique

See his photos of the above scenes in his post, “Surviving In a Land Where Everything Either Sticks, Stings, or Bites.”  Bert’s got it down to a science and it comes out as iconic art, as mentioned in “Bert Gildart’s art.”

DSC_0044 Bert Gildart at work & play

It is cold and snowy in Montana where Bert is convalescing while his spirit of adventure continues as he discovers historic treasures left in boxes for him by his parents 15 years ago, such as a newspaper clipping from the famous Honolulu-Star Bulletin‘s Extra Edition December 7, 1941.* On the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Star-Bulletin published its most famous extra edition, as Editor Riley Allen and staff scrambled to print the first paper in the world with news of the assault. Extras were being sold on the street within three hours (Wikipedia).  This clipping is a haunting echo from the past for both of us because both my dad and Bert’s dad were in the Army there at the same time. (My dad Joe stands on left next to his buddy Wes.)

My Dad, JWD, Pearl Harbor Survivor

We wish you a speedy recovery, Bert, and look forward to your and Janie’s return to Borrego Springs!

To Be By Your Side*      Old Black Crow (Tony Feathers)*      Here’s to the crazy ones (Think Different)*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Joyful air streaming into 2017

dsc_0024-bill-corgis-its-a-new-dayWe are so ready to charge out of 2016 and stream into a fresh new year with joyful possibilities. Yesterday, our Airstream smoke detector commemorated our 10th year of Airstreaming by emitting a death rattle just before its programmed death… the wonders of “smart” technology.  And in 2014, California passed a law, Senate Bill 745, with new requirements for smoke alarms sold in California.

Every new smoke detector sold and installed in California must come with a 10-year battery that can’t be removed!  So our 10-year old OEM Universal Security Instruments SS-775 smoke and fire alarm installed by Airstream must be replaced by an undoubtedly more expensive “smart” one.

So out with the old  and in with the new!  Swiftly streaming air swept away the desert dust and lifted our spirits.

dsc_0057-air-streaming

dsc_0052-streaming-desert-textures

dsc_0184-arching-ocotillo

And when the wind stops.. there is peace, serenity, and a silent beauty…* and a sense of timelessness…

dsc_0182-agua-caliente-landscape

And a joyful playfulness as exhibited by the Costa’s hummingbirds* visiting our campsite.

dsc_0162-fying-airstreams-hummingbird

Joyfulness was contagious as our corgis Mac and Tasha showed off their holiday outfits made by Larry!

dsc_0168-lets-celebrate-larry-corgis

Our corgis are so looking forward to the new year when they can return to the beach!

dsc_0001-are-we-at-the-beach-yet

Our Safari basked in the morning sun after a wild night of wind and flying rain…

dsc_0194-airstream-after-night-storm

And a beautiful rainbow gave us hope* that this will indeed be a happy new year…

dsc_0186-desert-rainbow

And together, we will bring joy back into this world!*

*This is a link to a You Tube video.