The Flying M Aerie on Google


Yesterday, I was looking up something on Google Maps and was thrilled to discover that they’d finally updated the satellite image in for my area to include my home. I can’t be sure of the exact date, but I estimate that this shot was from sometime in the spring, before things had really greened up and gardens had begun to grow.

I cropped the image to my exact property lines — on the east, north, and west, anyway. The southern boundary of my property is the road, so everything above (north) of the road is mine. It’s 10 acres.

My property, annotated
Here’s an annotated satellite view of my property; everything above (north of) the road is mine.

A few notes:

  • When giving people directions to my home, I tell them it’s two miles down the gravel road, on the left with the big green roof. Most people can’t miss it — unless they use Google Maps, which either directs them to the airport (for reasons I can’t quite understand) or to the house across the street two doors back from me. Yes, Google got the address wrong.
  • Lookout Point is where I’ve put a bench for looking out over the valley. My property drops off quite steeply just north of that. It offers sweeping views from the Mission Ridge Ski Resort southwest to the mouth of Rock Island Creek to the northeast.
  • Chicken coop is where my chickens live. I’ve just redone it for the third (and hopefully last) time. I have five hens and a rooster but hope to expand my flock in the spring.
  • I’m going to be planting a few more fruit trees near my home. So far, I have two struggling cherry trees, which were given to me by one of my clients. I think the grasshoppers took a real toll on them. I have enough room in that cleared out spot for about five fruit trees: cherry, apple, pear, and apricot. I’ll plant in the spring. Irrigation is already there.
  • The bee yard is on the far east end of my property where the property lines make it very narrow. Although they used to be much closer to my home, the east end is more convenient for road access. But the real reason I chose that spot is because it gets the most sun; with the cliffs to the south, direct sunlight is scarce in winter. The farther north you go, the more sunlight there is. This is a perfect spot.

I had an irrigation system installed earlier this month. It runs in two zones down my entire 1100 feet of road frontage. Last week, workers planted 25 Scouler’s Willow trees to the west of my driveway. This will give me privacy from the road and help keep the dust down. Because they are native willows, they require less water than the Austian willows so popular here. They’re only about 2-3 feet tall now, but they should grow to 30 feet or more, likely within 5 years.

On the east road frontage, I’ll be planting Ponderosa pine (which grow naturally in the cliffs) and aspen (which many of my neighbors have planted) in grove-like bunches. These trees, also on irrigation, will grow very tall very fast. I’m hoping they’ll help teach my black-hearted neighbors, whose house appears in the lower right of the satellite image above, how to mind their business. They should probably take lots of photos of their view now, before those native trees block it.

(On a side note, I never realized how close my neighbor’s house is to the talus basalt rocks at the base of the cliffs to the south. Hell, one good rock slide and their backyard will be full of boulders. Who would build so close to such a hazard, especially with all the talk of earthquakes possible in the Pacific Northwest? City slickers, I guess.)

One of the nice things about having so much undeveloped land is how much can be done with it. My five-year plan calls for planting either a small vineyard or orchard in the area between the bee yard and my driveway. I’m thinking of devoting 2-3 acres to it. There are a few hurdles I have to jump first, though. No rush — I have plenty of time to move forward — and it’s a hell of a lot easier to do when I don’t have to compromise with a cheap, risk-adverse “partner” every step of the way.

Old Satellite Image
Bing Maps still has an old satellite image of the area. This is the same crop shown above; you can barely see my driveway. Based on the construction status of my neighbor’s home, I think this one might be about three years old.

And on that note, isn’t it amazing to see what I’ve accomplished since buying this lot back in late July 2013? Back then, the only thing I had was a partial driveway. Now I’ve got a home. It took a lot of hard work and money to make it happen, but it’s been worth it.

2015 Resolutions

A very ambitious list.

I’ve been slipping — and it’s got to stop. So I’ve decided to set up and stick to some New Year’s Resolutions.

1. Fight the Social Media Addiction

I spend entirely too much time on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Actually, if you spend more than 30 minutes a day on social media — and aren’t being paid to do it as part of your job — you probably spend too much time, too.

Think about it. Yes, you enjoy it. It’s a nice, convenient social experience. But it’s also a timesuck. And the time you spend online looking at cat photos and clicking like buttons is time you could be spending doing other more rewarding things like engaging in personal interactions with family and real (not virtual) friends, working on projects that enrich your life (or bank account), and getting some fresh air and/or exercise. These are all things I want to spend my time doing. I don’t want to sit in front of the computer after breakfast, tune into Facebook, and look up two hours later to discover that half my morning is gone and nothing constructive has been done.

So I’m placing a limit on social networking:

Less FacebookFacebook:

  • No checking in between 8 AM and 8 PM. “Checking in” refers to logging on for the purpose of reading new updates on my newsfeed and checking and responding to comments on my or other people’s updates.
  • Maximum of 3 updates per day, including updates of photos or links but excluding updates automatically generated when I post to my blog. These can be done at any time.
  • No likes. (I actually began doing this a few months ago and I find it very rewarding, mostly because it prompts me to share more meaningful commentary when I like something.)


  • No checking in between 8 AM and 8 PM. “Checking in” refers to logging on for the purpose of reading new tweets, checking and responding to notifications on my account, and adding or removing followers.
  • Maximum of 12 tweets per day, including photos, links, tweets automatically generated when I post to my blog, and retweets but excluding scheduled tweets. These can be done at any time.


Stop using it. Period. This should be pretty easy since I only check in once every month or so and always leave with a bad taste in my mouth.


Really? People still use this?

I know this sounds silly or even kind of extreme — almost like a mom setting parental controls for her kid — but I have identified a problem and I have decided to tackle it by setting limitations. Let’s see how I do.

2. Watch Less TV.

I think I watch an awful lot of TV, especially when you consider that I (1) don’t have cable or satellite TV, (2) only get 4 live channels, and (3) rely mostly on Netflix, Hulu+, and other Roku-available content for options. Again, I think this has to do with the long winter nights — I certainly didn’t watch much TV when the sun was setting after 8 PM.

What’s reasonable? I think 5 hours a week is reasonable. That’s less than an hour a day. That might seem a bit low, but when you consider that I’m out with friends a few evenings a week, it should be pretty easy to maintain.

Read a BookAnd there is this added cheat: a movie — no matter what length it is — counts as just an hour. But, at the same time, an “hour-long” TV episode watched without commercials, which is really only about 44 minutes long, would also count as an hour. I’ll need a scorecard to keep track. It should be interesting to see how I do.

What will I do instead? That’s easy: read.

3. Lose 15 Pounds

MeasureYes, I need to lose weight again. Doesn’t everyone?

Back in 2012, I lost 45 pounds and went from a size 14/16 to a size 6/8. Since then, my weight has crept up a bit, although I’m still able to (barely) fit into all of my new clothes. Time to nip that in the bud and go back to my goal weight. Remember, I burned the bridge to fat town back in 2012.

I’m not very worried about achieving this. I’m going to use the same diet I used in 2012 to lose 45 pounds in 4 months. I expect to get back to my goal weight within 2 months but will likely stay on the diet for an additional month for the added benefits it offers — mostly appetite reduction. That’s what made it possible to keep the weight off as long as I did.

In my defense, since the last 10 pounds came on very quickly — over the past two months — I suspect it has a lot to do with my reduced activity level. Winter means short, cold days here in the Wenatchee area. Unless I’m out doing something that keeps me busy and warm — like skiing or snowshoeing — I’m not likely to be outside. And there isn’t much exercise indoors — although climbing scaffolding can be pretty exhausting after a while. This is my best argument for going south for the winter and I may do it next year. (Yeah, I’m a snowbird for health reasons. That’s the ticket!)

Oh, and if you’re one of those people who think “big is beautiful” and that being thin is something that society forces upon us to make us feel bad about our bodies, wake up and smell the deep fried Oreo you’re about to shove in your pie hole. I never said I wanted to be thin. I’ve said (elsewhere in this blog) that I wanted to remain a healthy weight for the rest of my life. The added benefit is the ability to look good in clothes, have lots of energy, and feel better about myself. Don’t be an idiot. If you’re more than 10% over what’s a healthy weight for your height, you owe it to yourself and your family to shed those extra pounds. Trust me: you will be glad you did.

4. Write More

Writing PadOne of the things social media time has stolen from me is writing time. Instead of sitting down to write a blog post or an article for a magazine or even a chapter of a book, I spend that time on Facebook or Twitter or even (sometimes) LinkedIn. Or surfing the web. This are mostly unrewarding, unfulfilling activities. I get so much more satisfaction out of completing a blog post or article — especially when there’s a paycheck for the article.

I want to blog more often — at least four times a week. Blogging is something that makes me feel good. I wish I could explain it. I think it’s because I’m documenting the things I’m doing, thinking, and feeling. Creating an archive of these things.

I’ve been blogging for 11 years now and am very proud of that fact. I’m also thrilled that I can go back and read about the things that interested me so long ago. Why wouldn’t I want to do this?

I also want to explore new markets for paid article work. I have opportunities and when I can focus I can write and submit work I can be paid for. Why aren’t I doing more of this?

And I definitely need to complete a few work-in-progress books that I’ve started. And turn some of my blog posts into ebooks I can earn a few dollars on.

And I sure wouldn’t mind reopening some of the fiction work I began 20 or 30 years ago — work that was once so much a part of my life that I’d think about it in bed to help me drift off to sleep. Time to bring all that back into my life.

5. Just Say No to Starbucks

Say No to StarbucksWhy do I go in there? The coffee isn’t even that good!

I live in Washington, for Peet’s sake (pun intended), a place where there are coffee shops on nearly every corner and more drive-through coffee stands than gas stations. Why am I going into Starbucks, a place where saying “medium” instead of “grande” can earn you a snicker from the order taker?

Chocolate Covered Graham CrackersAnd don’t say it’s the dark chocolate covered graham crackers. Although it could be.

I guess I just don’t like the idea of supporting a global corporation with mediocre products when I could be supporting small, local coffee shops with slightly less mediocre products.

What I really should do is stop drinking coffee in the middle of the day.

This will be easy to do once I set my mind to it. I just have to not crave coffee when I walk into the Fred Meyer or Safeway supermarkets.


Because I’m so anal, I’ll keep a scorecard to see how I do. I’ll try to report back with success — or failure — at year’s end.

Wish me luck!

And why not share a few of your resolutions for 2015? Use the comments link or form for this post.

Search Phrases that Brought Readers Here, 19-Nov-14 Edition

Questions answered?

I was going to blog about gun control and open carry this morning but, in all honesty, was not in the mood to formulate an argument to support my view point. So I went into the stats page for my blog and took a look at the top 10 search terms that brought readers here yesterday. I do this sometimes to trigger ideas. Yesterday’s was a gold mine, mostly because of the variety. I thought I’d build a blog post with brief answers to those questions.

sound made by helicopter

I’m pretty sure this search phrase led the reader to “Writing Tips: Writing Accurate Descriptions,” which I wrote back in 2009. In that post, I discuss an email message I got from a reader who was looking for help describing the sound a helicopter made. She’d come up with a meaningless cliché: “the deafening drill of the helicopter’s rotors” and apparently wanted me to rubber stamp it. I couldn’t, of course. Instead, I gave her a laundry list of things to consider when trying to come up with an accurate description.

I don’t have much to add to this. If you’re a writer and you’re interested in coming up with a description of what a helicopter sounds like, go listen to one. It doesn’t sound like a drill.

how do you strain pastina because its so small

This one made me giggle because yes, pastina is tiny.

I blogged about Pastina back in 2007. Not many people do, so my post usually comes up on the first page of Google if you search for Pastina.

The answer to the question: I don’t know because I don’t strain it. I cook it in water or broth and let the broth fully absorb into the pasta. No need to drain.

traeger junior rib rack

How many times have I blogged about my Traeger? And how many more times will I? Too many to count. Why? Because I love my little grill and the amazing ribs it makes.

But I have the Junior model and it doesn’t have a large cooking surface. I use the rib rack so I can smoke up to 4 racks instead of just two. Thought I had a picture here, but apparently I don’t. So I dug one up.

Rib Rack
Because the Junior Traeger is smaller than other models, I have to cut the racks in half to use the rib rack. There are 3 racks in this photo; I can fit 4.

a what sound of helicopter blades

A lot of people seemed interested in helicopter sounds yesterday. I guess this person zeroed in on the same post I mentioned above.

how to build the bottom board for bee keeping

A bottom board is the bottom part of a beehive. The hive boxes or supers stack on top of it. Bottom boards can be solid or screened. I can only assume the person searching with this phrase found my blog post from this past spring about rebuilding a screened bottom board. In this case, I didn’t build one from scratch; I modified one a friend had made for me.

I do want to build them in the future. Seems easy enough and with my new shop, I have plenty of room to do the job right.

what goes on first sheet or electric blanket?

Way back in 2010, I blogged about my electric blanket, which I’d gotten back in 1977. Then, in 2011, I blogged about the death of that blanket. I can only assume the person searching with this phrase stumbled onto one or both of these posts, neither of which answer the question.

Here’s the answer: blankets go on top of sheets. Electric blankets are supposed to go on the top of the pile, but I put mine right under my comforter (over the top sheet). My new electric blanket can roast me on its lowest setting.

las vegas hiking meetup group

How cool! Someone found my blog by looking for my very favorite hiking group: the Around the Bend Friends, which I blogged about in the autumn of 2012. I had nice things to say about them — and you would, too.

Heck, I was even considering wintering down in the Las Vegas area just so I could go hiking regularly with them this year.

who generates to kindly copy, paste, and share this status for one hour to give a moment of support

Some people take search phrases to the extremes. This is certainly a long one.

I can only assume this person used this search phrase to find my post about echoing canned sentiments on my Facebook status. I do not answer the question, mostly because I don’t know the answer and don’t care to know it. This is spam and people are idiots if they echo it. Period.

how much a helicopter ride cost 3

Not sure what the 3 is all about, but I’ve written quite a bit about helicopter costs — although not specifically what a ride costs. I assume this person got to see the most popular post of all time on this blog: “The Real Cost of Helicopter Ownership.”

Ride costs for passengers vary widely depending on the location, length of ride, and type of helicopter. The cheapest ride I do these days is $35/person at airport events. Normally, however, I charge $545/hour for up to 3 people with a 1-hour minimum. That’s for an R44 Raven II in Wenatchee, WA.

Questions Answered?

Those are the top 10 search phrases for yesterday. Not sure if my blog or this post answered the questions visitors had. But it was a real pleasure to see such a variety of search phrases. Normally, they’re mostly related to helicopter costs and operations — and even I get tired of blogging about that all the time.