email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fall Plants

I went to Walmart today.  I am perfectly happy shopping at Walmart for brand-name stuff and AFAICT, their generic stuff is just fine.  They buy their generic dishwashing liquid and aspirin from the major manufacturers anyway.  On the other hand, they also sell the cheapest appliances (like M/W ovens that are near the bottom of the Consumer Reports ratings and I don't buy those. 

And they usually have cheap plants and yard supplies.  The same brand of Product X is typically 10-20% cheaper at Walmart than at Home Depot or Lowes and I want to reward cheaper prices.   My cardinals can't tell where I buy black oil sunflower seed and the cats can't tell where I get the Tidy Cats litter buckets from.  And keep in mind it is not a question of small local stores versus Walmart.  The small local stores are all gone.  It is between Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe's, and sometimes Safeway around here.  I would mention Giant Food, but I buy mostly fresh produce abnd Giant's is pathetic.

So I wanted Mums and pansies and various odd stuff today.  I saw that Safeway was selling 1 gallon Mums for $9.99.  Home Depot and Lowe's (between which is never a penny of difference) $10.98, and Walmart $3.99.  Guess where I bought 4 pots?

They didn't have pansies yet.  Next month...

The Mums were beautiful and healthy.  I already had 2 orange from last year.  Now I also have 2 yellow and 2 red. 

The deck pots of Summer Marigolds and Salvia have been great this year...

The Salvia have been so good this year, the hummingbirds visit them first and only "top off" at my nectar feeders.  Next year, I will have lots more Salvia.

Now, THIS is where Walmart fails.  I want nice pots to set the plain black plastic ones into until I plant them in more permanent spots in November.  Walmart was done with planters in August.  They have Christmas stuff up now!

Well, I have saucers to hold rainwater. and I water the deck plants every other day when there is not 1" of rain.  Tjey should look great until dormancy and planting.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Those Toolshed Shelves

Those shelves are becoming annoying.  I mentioned last post that I made a template to rest on the floor from a scrap board, thinking that I couldn't possibly have any problems knowing where it drill in the exposed studs to make the shelves perfectly level.

After I got the shelf boards cut a little shorter than the narrow wall of the shed, they all went onto the template-installed brackets beautifully (after I flipped it to account for some brackets having holes on the left instead of the right like the bracket I used to make the template.  I had checked the level on the floor under them first, and it was fine.

So yesterday from the project for the day. I set about installing 2 more shelves abbutting the new ones.  I predrilled holes just like in the first, accounting for the number of brackets I had remaining.  The shelving boards were nice and flat, how could anything go wrong?

The cruelty of the Universe is SUBTLE and unending...

I attached the 40 shelf brackets.  I placed the shelf board on the brackets.  To assure the shelves abutted  the previous ones, I clamped the ends together.  The shelf was 1/2" above the bracket nearest the previous shelf.

HUH?  How was that possible? 

I placed the board template next to the bracket; it was in the right place.  All 4 brackets were.  I was frustrated.  It is possible to be both frustrated and patient at the same tie.  "Frustrated" is a momentary annoyance, "patience" is long term.  Patience usually solves frustrations.

I removed the brackets.  I physically held  a bracket up under the shelf and marked new spots to drill.  I drilled.  I reinstalled the bracket.  Then I checked the shelf for level with a 4' long level.  It was 1/2" off.  Worse, it leaned forward a bit.

Frustrating.  I'm not obsessively perfectionist, but I do want shelves to be pretty much level.  So redid the brackets, changing exchanging the left-hole brackets for right-hole ones to make the holes a bit apart so the lag screws wouldnt get into the wrong holes. 

Then I loosened the clamps holding the shelf to the previous one.  It popped down 1/2".


I went away from the toolshed for the day.  Trying to solve problems when you are frustrated is not a good idea!

So I went back at it this afternoon.  Well, I should mention something about the shed.  It was built almost 30 years ago.  Because local property assessment laws said a ground-contact outbuilding would be taxed but a "temporary" one (such as a shed set on cinder blocks would not), I built it that way. 

Over the years, apparently, the cinder blocks have settled a bit, and the shed (basically just an empty box with a floor and roof) had slowly twisted to adjust.  The floor is no longer level.  The wall studs are no longer perfectly vertical.  Nothing about it, in fact, is still square! 

Damn!  Well, the structure is still sound.  I do not intend to rebuilt it just to make the shelves level!  But I still wanted the shelves to be level.  So with the new shelf board clamped to the previous new shelf, propped the far end of the new shelf to were it was level lengthwise and and narrow-wise.

Surely the brackets would fit squarely under the shelf...  HA!

Well, I have some packets of shims.  These were as long as the brackets, going from 1/4" to 0.  Holding the shim against the stud and holding the bracket to the shim, it was utterly, perfectly level!

I glued the shim to the stud and went off to weed the garden for 30 minutes while the glue dried.  I went back, knowing I would see the bracket fit perfectly under the shelf!  How could it be otherwise?


It was 1/4" off.

The cruelty of the Universe is subtle and UNENDING...

I can't make shelves level in both directions in a shed box that isn't square in any dimensions.  I'm sure a professional could, but apparently I can't!

I'm going to just put the last 2 shelves on as best I can, screw a 1"x2" board on the front of the shelves so nothing can fall off, and call it done.  Declare victory and walk away.

I have too many other things to do...

And I should mention that I have a newer real toolshed next to it.  Concrete floor, build like a small house, solid.  Yes, I have that much gardening stuff to need the old one too.  I think I'll have some company build a 2nd like it to store the stuff in the old one and be rid of it.

But I still want the old one until then.  I have 1/4 of my basement filled with stuff that belongs in a garden shed.  And until THAT stuff is removed, I can't set up my shop equipment without crawling over stuff everytime I want to use a tool. 

Fill the old shed with stuff from the basement, organize the basement, do woodworking over the Winter.  That's the plan...

But I still can't believe how frustrating just adding level shelves were...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Shelves Et Al

I made a template for brackets for the shelves in the toolshed.  It didn't work.  The brackets had offset holes.  But it turned out some were on the left and some were on the right.  So I still had tpo "wing it".  Worked.

An 8'x12' toolshed doesn't mean the INSIDES are that size.  I went crazy cutting the shelves down to lenth to fit.  And 1/4" short so they could expand from humidity.

I saw a groundhog at the far end of the yard yesterday.  He saw me too and went to his borrow.  Under the toolshed!  I have to chase it out.

But first, I have to clear 50'x50' of brambles.  Several possibilities.  Hire someone (tried that and failed.  Too small an area for them to bother with).  Tried cutting them with a hedge trimmer then a chain saw.  The brambles just kept falling on me with difficukty getting loose of them.

It looks like I am finally going to have to use the gas weed whacker with the steel blades.  It scares me, but if I am careful...

I'll make sure the neighbor is available in case of an accident.

Saw a picture of a cool way to make a circular saw 45 degree angle cutter in a woodworking magazine.   Cheap materials but great results.  Bought the hardboard piece today.  If it works, I'll show pictures.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Neighbor

I have to laugh.  I have not yet met the new neighbor.  But he/she has a lot of contractors doing a LOT of outside and inside work.  Which is good I suppose; means they care about the property

But I had to laugh because the contractors first trimmed up the trees 12" high.  OK, a little more light in my yard.

But then they came back and cut down every single tree in the yard (trimmed before or not) EXCEPT the only ones that shaded my yard.  It is to cry...

BUT, a little positive manipulation...  I talked to the Boss worker.  Told him he might score some points about this one tree.  A mulberry tree.  The berries fall on the ground.  You step on them and you stain the bottoms of your shoes.  Then you do inside and it stains the carpet.

That's true.  It is why I cut down mine years ago and where their's came from.  He said he would tell the owner.

If that doesn't work, I will point out to the new owner that the berries attract mice and rats.  Not that we HAVE rats around here, but the new owner won't know that. 

I am only slightly embarrassed about telling a fib.  OK, a lie.  But I sure would like that tree to be gone.

I wonder if I could bribe the workers...  Somewhere between $20 and $50?  $100?  They get paid by the hour for their work anyway...  And the more hours the better, right?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Car

Well, the dealership got the metal spout of the gas can pulled out.  The ticket manager I spoke to didn't have all the details, but she said they used some hydraulic "puller" to get it out.  The mechanic who did the work wasn't available at the timer.  Probably laughing his ass off to hard...

I suppose it doesn't matter what they used.  *I* sure didn't have one and never will.  What are the chances that would ever happen again?  I know for sure I will never make that mistake again. 

She WAS pretty sure they had never had to make that exact repair before. 

They also said I should replace a timing belt.  A mere $1,050.  I asked why and they said "age".  Well, yeah, the car is a 2005 and I bought it new, but it only has 27,975 miles on it.  I don't drive much.  They seem to have just seen the years and saw "timing belt" on their list.

But great, now I have to worry about that every time I drive...

I've been trying to make this car last until I can get a functional hydrogen fuel vehicle.  I probably can't make it last that long.  Low mileage or not, age DOES matter.  I don't really need an SUV.  I could go for a hybrid mostly, but I do have to haul a trailer sometimes.  I may be stuck with at least a wagon. 

I'm not sure I can sit in a car that low anymore.  So I may be stuck with an SUV.  I had to rent a sedan for a week a few years ago, and the visual perspective was SO WEIRD!  Habits form...

I had a timing belt fail once.  By great luck, I was right next to a service station.  It took 3 hours of sitting around.  They had other cars they were already working on.  But it was only a few hundred dollars.  I think I  will take my chances on the timing belt lasting a while. 

And the new vehicles are coming out in the next couple months...

I don't like all the fancy stuff on the new cars.  I'm not a heavy internet person.  This desktop does about all I need.  So having internet access in a car is not a deal for me, and I'm not sure I'm ready for a car that decides on it's own to stop suddenly.

I usded to laugh at people who bothered with manual transmissions because they liked the "control" it gave them.  I may be doing the same, but I don't think so.   The new stuff is more proactive. 

I've kept cars a reasonably long time.  Oh I don't men like some guy who loved his 20 year old car and kept it running 200,000 miles.  But my last cars have lasted 10 years, 8 years, and 12 years.  Maybe it IS time for a change.  Mileage isn't "everything".  I don't like a car I can't trust.

Maybe I'm talking myself into a new car...

Bet I'm looking at Consumer Reports magazine about SUVs tomorrow!

Monday, September 11, 2017


Forever and always, never forgive and never forget...

I didn't see the 1st WTC  tower fall.  I saw the 2nd.  I FELT the Pentagon explosion right up through the floor where I worked in Washington DC.  I didn't know the cause of the THUD at the time, but I learned soon enough.

Everyone was evacuated.  I saw the traffic jams outside, so I stood on the roof of the building while there were rumors of another suicide plane.   It crashed in Pennsylvania due to the bravery of the passengers.  I won't forget that either.

When the traffic vanished, I drove home.

"Embedded in the memories of everyone who lived through it, this was the day four jet planes were hijacked and crashed into the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, causing the deaths of 2,977 people. The fourth plane (United Airlines Flight 93) was directed at Washington DC, but its passengers bravely attempted to take back control and it crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania."

Image result for 9-11 images

Never forgive, never forget...

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Random Thoughts And Observations

It has been so rainy here lately, the slugs are crawling up on the front steps to get out of the wet.

The moquito larvae are drowning in the grass.

Rice is growing wild in the lawn.

I used an umbrella to get the mail 3 days ago and set the umbrella to dry in the garage.  It is still wet.

The cats found a fish hiding in the basement!

My Civ2 game declared all my land units drowned.  But I have lots of Subs.

The local gas station is giving away free water with every fill-up.  And if you take away 5 gallons, they give you a gallon of gas free.

The local dowser turned his forked stick upside down trying to find dry spots.

A dry spot appeared in the sky and everyone cheered.    And took pictures.

Local Republicans are acknowledging "Climate Change" and blaming local Democrats for not doing something about it.     Local Democrats are denying they ever liked "rain" and proposed a Bill banning it.  President Trump is denying it is raining.  He says it is "fake news".

The cats insisted on going outside but they got tired of swimming in the lawn and came back inside.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Not that we have had all THAT much rain compared to Houston or India, but we got more than usual here for 2 months...  I have never seen such huge mushroom here.  Those are standard 22" flats next to them...
And the rain gauge nearly overflowed...

Sunday, September 3, 2017

House Anniversary Day

Yeah, I know it is Labor Day, and that is a meaningful Holiday here in the US.  But for me, it the day I moved here.  First and only owned house, 31 years ago now.  I never would have expected to be here so long on that day I moved in!

Every year, about this time, I think about moving.  Before I retired in 2006, it was because of the traffic.  I live in a town where The Highway comes through, and traffic was bad then and worse now.  But being retired, I can avoid most of the traffic now, shopping at 2 pm Tuesday-Thursday.

The past 5 years, it has been because the neighbors have let trees grow all around my property line, and the loss of sunlight makes gardening harder. 

But I know every square inch of the yard and I could walk around the house in complete darkness.  I really like the room arrangement too.  You walk up a half-flight of stairs and the kitchen, living room room, and TV room are connected in a circle.  A hallway goes off one side and leads to the main bath and the 3 bedrooms.  And the neighborhood has buried electrical lines, which are great.

When I saw the floorplan 32 years ago, I knew it would work for me.  I can see the TV from where I prepare food in the kitchen.  And since I spend a good bit of time doing both, that is great!  I don't like the basement though.  It has a staircase right through the middle of it, which makes arranging my woodworking equipment awkward.  I chose to have a built-in garage.  I wouldn't do that again. 

If I moved, I would want the same floorplan above basement without the built-in garage below and would want the garage to the side (2 car garage if possible - 1 bay for a boat.  2 acres of land to assure sunlight for the garden.  City water and sewage.

But for now, again, I will stay...

But 31 years, hurray!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

This Is A Weird Post

Forgive me, this has been an odd week so far. 

Monday, I woke up to find no water pressure.  Hmmm...  Maybe there was a water main break.  Well, OK, I got a letter from the water company 2 days before and should have opened it, but I assumed it was the regular quarterly bill.  Maybe it was a notice of repairs.

So I opened it.  It was a notice I was Past Due and they were shutting off my water Monday morning.  Oh great!.  I lost the regular bill among the junk mail.  It happens every few years.  Its the only bill I can't set with automated payments that matters.  Well, the Property payment comes once a year, but all THEY can do is add 1% after 3 months overdue. 

The County shuts off your water after the bill is due.  And they will not arrange for direct billing to my bank account.  They do it because they can.  You can't live a life without water.  I went through 4 hours of no water while I arranged a telephone payment and THEN called another office to get the water turned on again.

I actually have some odd tools that would have turned it on again, but that is probably a hanging offence.  But they did respond quickly to turn the water on again.

My week went along til last night.  I visit some forums most of you wouldn't.  Religious, political...  Gets me really worked up sometimes.

So last night, after spending 6 hours at them and burning through 2 packs of cigs, I suddenly wanted to listen to a particular piece of music.  I don't know the name of it and I can't display musical notes, but is it the standard piece used for charging horsemen.  You would know it if you heard it.

I couldn't find it, but I found a lot of music I liked.  "I Will Wait For You" always gets me.  I've found that site by accident before.  There are other versions.  I listened to them all.  And for some reason, the site suggested darker songs. 

Black is Black, House of the Rising Sun, Eve of Destruction, Smoke on the Water,  When the Bullet Hits the Bone, etc.  I spent 4 hours going from song to song.  I am in a black mood...

This has happened a few times.

"I Will Wait For You" by Connie Francis sounds lovely, but to me it is when Fry in Futurama discovers his long-lost dog fossilized in the  future and it could be resurrected,  He chooses not to because he only knew 3 years of the dog's life and it lived to 15.  So he (wrongly) stops the resurrection. 

And then we see the dog after Fry disappeared.  It spent the last 12 years waiting for him faithfully.  You see him waiting patiently waiting treated well by the people working around the spot. 

He was waiting for Fry.  And when he could have been ressuurected to rejoin him, he wasn't.

I cry every time I see that and the Connie Francis song comes on...  And I spent 4 hours listening to versions of that and then to darker songs, all tear-jerkers. 

I think I will go to those other sites I visit and be mean... Get it out of of me for a while.