screen breach

July 23rd, 2016


Just as Roundrock Journal has been breached (this is the first time I’ve been able to get into the back end of the blog in weeks), so have the screens at the cabin. Something seems to be eating the screens on the north-facing windows.

This has actually been going on for nearly as long as the cabin has been standing, but it’s gotten more extensive in the last year. I’d tried to take photos of the damage for a while, but I’d made the mistake each time of being inside the cabin and shooting out the window, into the comparatively brighter light. Thus the detail I wanted to capture was washed out. Then, as I was bumbling along the back of the cabin one day and noticed the chowed-upon screens, I wondered if a shot looking in might work, and it did, as you can see above.

My guess is that the critter (and I assume it’s an insect) is not trying to get into the cabin. Rather, I think it is probably something that gets trapped betwixt the screen and the window and is trying (successfully) to get out. (Also, by the definition in the Roundrock Lexicon, this particular critter has become a varmint.) I guess further that it is a horsefly, and a female at that since they have mouth parts that can bite (painfully) and perhaps can chew as well.

The screens are not made of metal but rather some plastic fabric. I suppose eventually I’m going to need to take the affected screens in and have them rep

still here

June 30th, 2016


I’m still here, but I can rarely get into the back end of this blog because the malware infection isn’t fully cleared up yet. I suppose it’s the same for all of you on the front side.

I hope you can stay patient with me.

ticks are upon us!

May 23rd, 2016


Libby and Queequeg and Flike and I went to Roundrock on Saturday, with the intent of staying the night to listen to the whippoorwills as we sat around a crackling campfire. We were thwarted in that hope, but we did manage to make a good overnight weekend out of the trip.

There was all of Saturday to be filled before we could listen for the whippoorwills, so we managed to find things to do. Libby and I took a long hike through our woods (leaving the dogs in the cabin since the ticks are already thick in the scrub). Because the top of the dam was a dense growth of tall grass (grass that might have prevented the spillways from washing out — again — had it been growing there before), we diverted around it, going to our eastern property line and pushing through the scrub there, thinking foolishly that the dense trees would stifle the scrub growth. Flike might have made it through there with us, but Queequeg would not and would have been carried. (It would have been easier had we just crossed the dam.)

We had no specific goal in mind on our walk, and when we finally found ourselves across the lake and on the north-facing slope, we wandered through the trees, looking at this and that, and more or less following our feet to the west. The growth is in full ambition mode now, and I know that by August, this will seem to have been not a good idea, but what does youth know, right?

We made our way to the western end of the lake, which was at full pool and looking splendid, and crossed in the gravel to the south facing slope, making our serpentine way back to the dogs and the cabin. We stopped at a small pile of stones where we hope to some day build an actual house, and I left a pink gemstone atop it. (It is a 2-inch diameter piece of glass.) We direct our feet to this part of our forest frequently, and I’m eager to see if the gemstone remains or is carried off by some “collector.” It’s a big item, so I don’t think it will go far, but I won’t be surprised when I return and find it knocked off the rock and in the leaf litter.

We spent the rest of the afternoon picking ticks off of our clothes. We did have a campfire, but unexpected, distant thunder and lightning arrived, as well as a few drops of rain, and I think that may have quieted the whippoorwills. This means, of course, that we must return and stay the night so that we can listen for them again.


May 18th, 2016

I don’t know how many people are still reading this humble blog. I know some malware has frightened a few away; there are times when even I can’t get to the site. For those of you still visiting, welcome and thank you.

Today is my 11th anniversary with the blog. (Never mind half of 2010 and all of 2011 when I was on hiatus.) There is always something new going on at Roundrock. Unfortunately, I’m not always there when it happens.

I’m hoping to get out to my woods this weekend, perhaps for an overnight. Maybe I’ll have new stories to tell.


May 11th, 2016

You may know that I am reading the novels of Iris Murdoch in sequence. I’m currently reading The Bell (for the third time) and enjoying it a great deal. Some say it is her most approachable novel. In any case, the more versed you are in mythology, Plato, Buddhism, and the like, the more deeply you can appreciate her novels. To that end, I bought myself a nice reading copy of The Metamorphoses, written by Ovid. My intent was to read all of these myths and become a better Murdoch reader as a result. I acquired it last fall, and I haven’t gotten through the introduction yet.

But never mind about that.

One of the stories that has always interested me is that of Daphne, a nymph who was being pursued by the rapacious, salacious Apollo. About to be subdued, she begs for deliverance from various sources (her father, who is a river god, and others) and is transformed into a laurel tree.

And so much for today’s mythology lesson. What interests me is how this transformation has been depicted in art through the ages.




You get the idea.

It’s fascinating (to me, anyway) what the sources of these myths are, how the ancients understood their worlds by telling these stories. What seems consistent in these depictions is that Daphne is transformed in an upright position. What might have inspired that understanding?

I think those are all bogus, PG-13 depictions and that the real inspiration for this myth was something a bit more . . . graphic. Behold this tree in a park not far from my house:


nuf sed?

big, big buckeye

April 28th, 2016


I know I talk about this buckeye in front of the cabin a lot. (It’s actually three buckeye plants in that cage.) I’ve had it in place for four or five years, and after its first year, it brought out flowers. I’m pleased with its progress, though I’m years away from removing that fencing from around it. (Those vandal deer!) The trio on the other side of the cabin are doing well enuf, but they’re not nearly as robust as these three. I think I need to get them more sunlight.

Anyway, these three seem to have hit their adolescent growth spurt. You can see how the branches are now a couple of feet above the top of the fence. (I can remember when they were wee things at the bottom of the cage.)

If you look closely, you can see the many flowers emerging. I think by now they are in full bloom, and I’m hoping some hummingbirds have arrived from the south to enjoy the nectar. Wish I could be there to see it.

traveling tarp

April 26th, 2016

tarp 1

This is where the tarp spent most of the winter. I placed it there to squelch the grass and weeds there were coming up in this area that I’d prefer be exclusively gravel. (You can see the lake at the top of the photo, which is why I don’t use herbicide on this area.)

The tarp method of green plant eradication is more effective in the growing season, and that’s why I left the tarp in the same place for so long; winter ain’t the growing season.

But on my last trip to Roundrock, I decided to move it to a new area of upstart greenery in my gravel. Here is what I found beneath it when I pulled it away:

tarp 2

Plenty of dead grass, and plenty of leaves as well. I don’t think I would have left those leaves there when I laid down the tarp (although I may have). Maybe little critters brought them in?

I moved the tarp closer to the cabin this time:

tarp 3

It should do the job well here, and more quickly, so then I can move it again to a new place. (Everyone needs a hobby, right?)

This tarp has been a workhorse around the area. We’ve had it since before the cabin was built. In fact, it was our shelter tarp for several seasons, more or less rising right where the cabin stands today.


April 25th, 2016


This photo is a close up of the back of one of the comfy chairs at the fire ring at Roundrock. I don’t think I’d ever noticed this pattern of gnawing on the side of it.

Some critter went to a bit of trouble to gnaw on this part of the chair. This is the back, as I said, and the side, and it’s nearly three feet above the ground. The critter would either have to perch on the arm of the chair to do this or exploit the chair when it was in this unfortunate state:

drunk chair

Actually, that doesn’t look like a better angle for a gnawing critter. The part of the chair that is gnawed on is protected by the grill (on the right of the ring, barely noticeable).

In any case, my guess is that Libby or I had handled some food (perhaps ground beef or a sausage) preparing it for cooking on the fire and touched this part of the chair. The grease then attracted the critter, who made a thoroughly non-nutritious exploitation of the plastic.

We have four of these green chairs, and they are worth talking about. We’ve had these longer than the many others of their kind that have come and gone. They have outlasted the others by holding together despite the bitter winters and searing summers for longer than the cabin has been standing. They were a gift from our friends Todd and Tracy years ago, and I think they’d be surprised to learn the chairs are still around and giving us good service.

Skywatch Friday ~ April blue

April 22nd, 2016

blue sky

The green is slowly returning to the forest down in the Missouri Ozarks, and I won’t get this view of the sky in another couple of weeks. That’s the roofline of the cabin at the left and a Blackjack oak rising from the lower right.

Four days of cloud cover and rain followed the weekend when I took this shot.

one-match fire, too

April 21st, 2016

one-match fire

My trip to Roundrock last weekend was an overnight, so that meant a fire. I think I could count on one hand the number of fires I’ve had on trips that were not overnights (mostly when we had guests out who wanted to make foil dinners and roast marshmallows, I think). I’m reluctant to have a fire, put it out, and then leave; I always fear the fire isn’t fully out and that it will flare up in my absence. Better to give it an overnight (when I’m sleeping?) to ensure it is fully out before I leave.

I spoke before about the great, great quantity of strike-anywhere matches I have, as well as my snail’s pace at using them. My pride in building one-match fires does not help with their use. If I built a one-match fire every day for a year, I would use only one-sixth of the matches I currently have. Since I don’t smoke ceegars anymore (#runnerproblems) I don’t use the matches for those either. So I suppose I should make sure the dispensation of the matches is listed in my will.

Anyway, the fire was a success, and I was able to cook my dinner over it:

hot dog

It wasn’t very tasty, to tell the truth, but Flike didn’t object when I shared it with him. Then a few hours of musing before the coals as the night sounds wrapped around me. I heard the frogs, of course, as well as many barred owls all over the Central Valley, and even some yipping coyotes. It was only when I rose in the middle of the night that I heard a whippoorwill.