email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Friday, December 2, 2016

Thanksgiving Dinner

Before and after shots...

Smoked turkey thigh, corn on the cob, mashed sweet potato with honey and butter, tossed salad with italian dressing, asparagus with cheese sauce, assorted garnishes, and wine and a Cavebear Sling (1.5 oz gin, 1 oz of lemon juice, fill up glass with ginger ale over ice)...

Good holiday meal for oneself...  A bit late posting, but I enjoyed the meal. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Got Stuff Done

Its been a working week. 

I planted 250 daffodils.   And I did it RIGHT.  I have a drill auger that gets down about 8".  I tossed loose soil back in the holes, set down the bulbs, filled the holes with 50/50 topsoil/compost, and sprinkled 0-6-6 N-P-K fertilizer on the top to seep down over the winter.

100 of them were to fill in the area not planted last Fall.  Guesing where the planted ones were was done by pictures I took last Spring.  I lined up the pictures using background landmarks.  I got it very close.  I only augered up ond existing bulb.  And I filled in the entire unplanted area.  So next Spring should be good.

But that left 150 Hillstar daffs.  I REALLY over-estimated the number of daffs I needed to fill the existing bed.  So where to put the Hillstars? 

Oho!  I have never found a good plant to use as the border for my fence-side flowerbed.  The Dusty Millers died, the annuals had to be replanted each year, and the crocuses got eaten by the voles .  So the Hillstars went into the border.
 Image result for hillstar daffodil
I came up 5' short, but that's OK, I'll fill in.

Meanwhile, I got 2 bucketloads of 50/50 topsoil/compost from the local nursery (about 2 cubic yards).  My framed beds settled since I filled them the first time last year.  That was some work moving the stuff from the trailer to the beds. 

Last year, I shoveled it from the trailer to a yard cart towed by the riding mowers them shoveled it into buckets to carry and dump into the framed beds.  That was a real pain. 

So this time, I shoveled the mix from the trailer into buckets I loaded into the yard cart and drove the trailer to the framed beds.  Then carried the buckets to the beds.  Much easier.  I have 3/4 moved.

And I need to empty the trailer.  One tire finally just broke after 15 years - rubber fatigue!

And now I have a real problem.  I can't drive the trailer to a repair place with a flat tire, and the bolts on the wheels are 15 years of rust.  ACK!

Well, I have to remove the tire (both actually - the other tire has to be about to fail).  I'll soak the wheel bolts in Liquid Wrench (a lubricating oil that claims to loosen rust), heat the bolts to cause uneven expansion that might loosen the rust connection, and then use an air-powered impact wrench to finally break the nuts free.


And I need the trailer to be working again soon to pick up a mower I couldn't get started and brought to a repair shop...  So that I can mow down some backyard brambles.  So that I can lant 5 specimen trees in the backyard.

Everything is connected.  Empty the trailer, remove and replace the tires, pick up the mower, rent a brush-cutter (hauled on the trailer), use the mower to cut the bramble stubs lower, dig holes for the specimen tree saplings, keep the brambles cut low until they die, and surround the saplings with old carpet so the roots don't have competition until they grow tall enough in a few years to shade out the ivy.

I had the whole backyard cleared out 5 years ago, and I let it go for 2 years.  I'm paying for that lapse now!

Next year is going to be killing all the wild ivy, the unknown vines, and the mock strawberries.

The good news is that I learned how to use my battery-powered string trimmer properly.  Used hard at an angle, it can clear weeds to ground level.  It gets long stringy grass wrapped around it if I'm not careful, and that drove me crazy at first unwrapping them.  But I learned how to disassemble the head in 20 seconds and slide all the wrapped grass right off. 

Experience is wonderful!

Now I think I might be ready to use the gas-powered steel blade whacker on the briars and brambles in the far back yard...  Without losing a foot in the process. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

New Camera

My current camera has been acting oddly.  There seems to be a waterspot "sometimes" near the center of photos, but mostly, it has been showing strange wavy shadows around the edges of pictures.  I can usually do some "straightening" (which in this case means "unstraightening") and/or cropping to eliminate most of them.  But it was obvious I needed a new camera.

So I went to Consumer Reports website to check the recommended point and click cameras.  The cameras are getting expensive $400 and over-featured.  I don't need an 83X zoom lens or 16MB pictures (I resize them all down to 100-250 KB for the blog or emails anyway).  And when I went to Amazon, people didn't like them!  The 1 star ratings were up around 12% and that's getting pretty high.

So it occurred to me that I had liked my previous camera pretty well.  It took fine pictures, the menu was easily to navigate and I liked the non-pop-up flash.  Its just that I left it outside one night and it rained.  So I looked for it refurbished.  Those got REALLY bad ratings!  But I found a dealer (through Amazon) who had new unopened ones.

It arrived yesterday, the battery was charged this morning, and I took a few pictures.  Just got done processing them and they look fine.   Its a Canon Powershot ELPH  130 IS.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Getting Busy Again, Part 3

Tomorrow is  Hosta Dividing and Moving Day!  The deer have "loved" my front yard hostas too much; they have to be moved into the back yard where the deer don't go (good fence).  I have 2 spaces for them.

The first is just under the edge of the deck.  I planted coleus and impatiens there this year , but I stuck in 2 small hostas and they thrived.  So it is a good place.  I will add my fanciest hostas from the front, ('June' and "Paul's Glory' and a few 'Gold Drops').  The larger ones will go into a hosta bed I created years ago along the fence to replace some that have died and increase the number of them.  I have decided having more in the bed is better than just having a few several feet apart.  Well, the originals there didn't grow as big as I expected.

I also have a few dozen Japanese Painted Ferns.  The deer never bothered them, but I would prefer most of them among the hostas.  I love the combination.

However, there was 1 large LARGE hosta the deer never bothered.  It is 'Blue Angel".  It is HUGE!  It is 3' across and 2' high with thick bluish crinkly leaves, slug-resistant and (apparently) deer resistant.  It might get larger.  But the important thing is that each is large enough to divide into 4ths.  And I have 3 of them.  That makes for 12.

3 of the divisions went back into nearby spots a little more spread out.  Instead of 3 across (where they were overlapping), there will be 2 across and 1 centered behind.  They were covering my paver path to the hose spigot, so they needed to be moved anyway.

The good part is that  that leaves 9 divisions for the larger landscaping box to the other side of the front steps.  They will fill that box mostly and I will put some of the volunteer Japanese Painted Ferns between them.

After removing all the existing deer-loved hostas first, of course.  I will leave no plant behind.  I stuck landscaping flags in the center of every existing hosta last month, so I know where to dig even if the leaves are all gone.  I expect 90% will survive the transplanting.  Hostas are tough! 

I had 4 very common boring solid green hostas I removed before a landscaper scraped the soil off a ridge leaving it flat.  I divided each one in 1/4s and stuck them under the stairs from the deck there it is really dim light.  15 of 16 thrived!  I expect all the other hostas I divide and move will do as well.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Getting Busy Again, Part 2

So I had to get the mower to a repair shop.  Home Depot has equipment repair services, but I prefer to support local business when I can.  There is a local place called "Tool Solutions" and I have brought some equipment there in the past.   They got my riding mower running last time, tuned up the engine, sharpened the blades, and just because it bothered their sense of "equipmentness", they scraped all the dried grass clipping from the bottom of the deck.  It is just 3 people, and it is good to support people doing work like that out of a small shop. 

I attached the trailer to the riding lawn mower (it has an attachment on the back for things like trailer hitches and baggers), drove it out to the front yard, and hooked it up to the car.  Got the push mower up onto the trailer, secured it, attached it to the car, and drove the the repair place. 

And since I was going off with the trailer, I put a large tarp and a bunch of bungee cords in the back of the car.  I wanted to get a few bucket-loader loads of 50/50 topsoil and compost from the local nursery.  The soil in my framed beds settled during the year and there is room for 4' more soil (leaving 2' from the top).  And I can always add any extra on other spots. 

2 bucket loads is about 60 cubic feet.  It is sure cheaper than buying "by the bag"!  I have done this before and learned a few things about transporting soil, compost mulch, etc.  The trailer came with boards on the bottom with spaces between.  I used to put a tarp on the bottom to keep stuff falling out through the spaces, and put another on the top to keep stuff from blowing out.  I kept ripping up the bottom tarp shoveling the stuff out.

I got tired of that, and 2 years ago, I fitted pressure-treated plywood on the bottom.  And I figured out a trick for the top tarp.  I set up the top tarp so it was slightly under the front inside of the trailer.  The contents hold the front of the tarp in place, so there is no driving-wind flapping and ripping.  Even the landscaping guys were interested in THAT idea.  Then I just use bungee cords to hold down the sides of the tarp tightly in opposing directions.  Logic is wonderful.

So I left the house with a mower needing repair and returns with 60 cu ft of topsoil/compost.  A good day.

It feels good to get busy again at practical projects...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Getting Busy Again.

I got at the rototiller, mower and snowblower yesterday.  None of them would start on the previous day's try.  I tackled the rototiller first, since I had an immediate need for it.  There was gas.  The spark plug was clean and dry, the air filter wasn't clogged with dust.  The wire controls at the top were moving levers down below.  No reason I could find  that it wouldn't start.  I had started it right up last year and it had been sitting around for several years with old gas in it then.

So I tried this trick about leaving the air filter off and spraying carborator cleaner insidethe exposed carborator, waited a few minutes to let it dissolve old gas, gave it another spray for fuel, and pulled the rope a few times.. It coughed, sputtered as I tried to adjust the choke, and died.

But that was better than before!  So I gave it another spray of the cleaner stuff and it stater again.  And died.  Took 2 more tries before I get the choke adjusted to keep it running and then it purred like a kitten.  Well, OK, its not a quiet machine.  I sounded like a congested bear snoring in hibernation.  But you get the idea.  I used it immediately!

Wheeled it to the big bulb bed, set the manual depth at 3" and went through the weed/grass roots easily.  The occasional baseball-sized rock made it jump around a bit, and I had to make sure it didn't till down too deep (I was going over some existing bulbs).  Took only 15 minutes, but that beats at least and hour on manual spade work. 

I raked the area and was pleased to see no bulbs dug up.  I knew where they were generally.  I planted then from the outside edge inwards, but I hadn't marked there they stopped.  Fortunately, I have found a couple of good pictures, so I can estimate where to plant the additional ones this year, but that's anouther post.

So, encouraged by getting the tiller running, I attacked the mower.  I was in trouble from the start.  There is a hollow rubber priming button you push 3x to get some gas into the system.  I pushed it in, and it wouldn't come back out.  UH-OH!

Well, I then tried all the same tricks as with the rototiller, but it wouldn't even cough and sputter.  It had to go to the repair shop. 

So I checked the snowblower.  It has electric start and it wouldn't start.  I checked the spark plug, I checked the air filter.  No problems.  Sprayed in some carburator cleaner.  No luck.

What is the first question the computer repair guy asks?  "Is it plugged in"?  Well, I checked the gas tank.  Bone, dry, clean.  Not even dried old gas.  I must have done what "they" always tell you to do with seasonal equipment; drain out and or absorb it out with a old clean towel, then run it until it stops.  No gas left; no bad gas left.

So I added a cup of gas, started right up!  I let it run for a couple of minutes out on the driveway.

2 out of 3 ain't bad!  

Tomorrow:  Two errands in one trip!

Monday, November 14, 2016

While I Was Gone

I moped around the house for a couple days and stayed in bed a lot.  Then I got up and did some hard angry work.

I took out the 10" electric tiller that I bought a few months ago for work in small spaces and attacked the area where I want to plant 200 daffofdl bulbs.  That didn't work out too well.  The tall grass wrapped around the tiller blades.  So I spent 15 minutes cutting and pulling them loose.  Then took out my weed whacker and cut all the grass to ground level.  Then went after the soil again.

That didn't work out any better.  The ROOTS just wrapped around the tiller blades.  So I removed THEM.  It was rather therapeutic.  Burned off some anger.  I attacked them with a ground digger knife and pliers and by hand.

But the small electric tiller is obviously only designed for bare ground and flowers.  So I pulled out the big gas one.  Which wouldn't start.  Old dried gas I suspect.  I'll try it again tomorrow after some new gas has a chance to dissolve the old gas.  And if that doesn't work, I can take apart the carburator.  I learned a trick from a repairman about shooting spray carburator cleaner into the system that often works.  Failing that, it goes to a local repair shop for real repair and tune up, and it has been a few years so it needs it.

I did get a lot of angry energy used up pulling on the starter rope.

The manual rotary mower wouldn't start either and I read online that that usually means the blade disengagement bar on the handle is stuck.  I couldn't find anything wrong with it, so that has to go for professional work too.

I better check the snowblower too.  When you need it is NOT the time to go looking for fast repairs.

I have a small cast iron Lodge grill good for cooking a couple of steaks at a time.   I didn't use it for a couple of years.  I stayed under my covered smoker grill, and with a cover of it's own.  I pulled it out a few weeks ago and it was COMPLETELY rusted under 2 covers!

Perfect "angry energy" project!  I wirebrushed that sucker for 3 hours.  THAT got a lot of anger out.  Still wasn't good enough.  It will never be free of rust again.  But I have a 1,000F temperature wood stove Rust-Oleum paint I can use on most of it.

According to online advice, the cooking surface will have to be soaking in 50% white vinegar and water for 4 hours, rubbed dry with a clean cloth, and then oiled and seasoned in a 300F oven like any new cast iron skillet.  If that all works, I will buy a tightly sealed plastic bin to keep it in afterwards.  If it doesn't, I'll buy a new one.  Maybe I can just buy a cooking rack replacement.

I had a nice little steel one decades ago.  Just the right size for 6 charcoal briquets and one steak.   I wish I still had that.  I can't find one like it.  Some stuff just seems to disappear over the years.  Maybe it burned through the bottom.  I can't recall.

Still need some projects to burn off "angry energy".   Maybe it is time to bring out the steel spade and start scraping under the roots of weedy grass in the flower garden.  I still can't kneel well, but if I sit on the ground and push on the back of the spade with my feet, that should work. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

I'm Back

I'm not even sure where to start.  The election night was a real kick in the gut.  Its not that being for the losing candidate is such a shock.  I supported McCarthy, McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, Kerry, etc over the years, and I knew by Election Day they were losing..  Gore's loss was a hard blow to take too, and he actually won!

I suppose it is partly than I never considered the winning candidates I didn't support "evil or "sick".  Nixon in 72 seemed at least experienced and competent, Reagan had been Governor of a large State, and Bush Sr had been in government and politics for decades.

My biggest disappointment before was Bush Jr winning but even that was only because I thought he was rather stupid, Cheney WAS evil, and I thought Gore got cheated.

And part of it is that I thought Trump was a bad joke from the start, "running" only to improve his business prospects, and he would fade away like Ben Carson or Herman Cain.  As the Republican Debates and Primaries went along, I kept expecting Trump to be eliminated.

He was obviously not qualified for high political office, and as more information about his personal and commercial actions came out, I was sure Republicans would turn away from him in favor of some more standard like Jeb Bush, Kasich, Ryan, etc.

Even when Trump captured the Republican nomination, I wasn't all that concerned.  I thought it meant a Democratic landslide, and the polls seemed to support it.  Right up to Election Eve, it seemed there was no way Clinton could lose.

1.  That the voters realized she had experience when Trump had none.  That as a Senator, Clinton had domestic experience and a reputation for working with both Republicans and Democrats.  As Sec of State, she had international experience and a good reputation abroad.

2.  That voters realized the Clinton' "scandals" were minor.  The email server thing has pretty much been shown to be a molehill instead of a mountain, and even the most angry House Republicans published their Ben Ghazi report without any specific blame on Clinton.  The suggestions of Clinton Foundation conflict of interest proved to be way more minor than Trump Foundation outright theft and deception.

3.  That Clinton's personal behavior was so far beyond reproach compared to Trump's that there was no comparison.

So I went into watching the election returns come in slowly.   I watched a science DVD...  Later I returned to TV just in time to hear "So we are calling the election from Donald Trump.  Other channels agreed.

I went into a sort of shock.  I felt like I had shifted universes like in some sort of science fiction movie.  But wherever I am now ;) I am there and Trump won.  I was so stunned I considered moving to Canada or Australia.  It's harder than you might think AND if I can't get myself to relocate within my own State, I'm hardly going to leave my country.  I realized I was acting like a child considering running away from home.

The past few days of watching political shows on TV (I generally watch MSNBC, PBS, and CNN) have given me some hope.

1.  They point out that Trump is not yet President and we don't know what he will actually DO once in office.

2.  They point out that some people elected President have been considered unqualified yet gone on to do well in office "the office makes the man" idea.  Lincoln is the best example.  He was considered to be a buffoon by most; and "accident' of  politics.

3.  They point out that close associates say that Trump is very different in private than in public.  That in private he is a listener, thoughtful, and a fast learner.  That he adopts public personas that suit his private goals and casts them aside when he has gotten what he wants.

4.  They point out that Trump has previously considered himself a Democrat and has given more money to Left and Centrist candidates than Conservation ones.

5.  They point out that Trump considered the Republican party more vulnerable to a takeover than the Democratic party because of Clinton's assumed victory there.

6.  They point out that Trump is extremely practical, holds no extreme political views, and is creative in negotiations.

7.  They point out that he is entirely willing to talk to people of extreme opnions, while not being swayed by them.

8.  They point out that Trump has a habit of sitting be himself in a private room and thinking carefully about what he will do.

9.  They point out that Trump has a habit of trying to beat his oppenints into the ground, but recognizes and admires opponents who make good arguments and fight hard.

So I have decided to wait and see.  I don't have much of a choice.  I have no allusions that Trump is a nice person.  His sexist, racist, nativism, anti-immigrant comments cannot be erased.  I suspect most of his comments reflect his true beliefs.

But I also have to think that the pressure of the US Presidency can change people.  Some people change greatly after sitting in the Oval Office.  Truman was pushed for VP as a result of the powerful Pendergast political machine out of Kansas City.   Truman was basically told to "go home and don't bother us" by Roosevelt after the 1944 election.  But Roosevelt died and Truman was President.  O won't say he was a Top 10 President, but he did pretty well.  He pushed down the Pendergast political machine, and acted on his own.

He forced the Japanese surrender in 1945,  he pushed the foundation of the United Nations, Issued the Truman Doctrine to contain Communism, passed the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, Supported and recognized the State of Israel, ordered the Berlin Airlift in 1948, helped create NATO, and helped save South Korea as a democratic nation.

Not bad for a former VP politico who was told to "just go away".    So I hope Trump can improve.

We will know a lot more when he announces appointments to executive agencies.  Does he have the slightest idea what HUD or the EPA does, or will he just trade those jobs to political supporters in return for political support?  Well he just put some gas company VP in charge of the Energy Dept so they can rip us all off and destroy renewal energy .  We don't know.  We will find out.

Will he govern from the middle, or from his party on the right.  Maybe not, Establishment and Conservative Republicans distrust him.  Democrats hate him.  Perhaps he will find middle ground, move left or right, or just fail.

We just don't know yet.

What I do know is that I have spent enough time angry about the election, and life goes on...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016



President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump, President Donald Trump, President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump, President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump.

Sorry, I just get can't get a grasp on that.

Something is very very wrong here...

It is one thing to disagree with a choice of President.  I disliked Reagan, weird choice.  I disliked Bush Junior intensely, but I never considered him a COMPLETE idiot.  And surely not evil.

Trump is evil, sick, and psychotic.   And I have 2 choices.  Stay the 4 years or leave.  I am exploring leaving. 

And it is not so much Trump, it is the people who elected him.  Nations thrive and eventually fade.  History teaches us that.  This election may represent the end of America.

In the 1930s, many smart people left Germany and the surrounding nations, thinking that bad things were coming.  This might be a similar time...

I am looking at immigration rules for Canada and Australia.  I am prepared to sell everything I own, keep personal stuff, and move.  Because I don't want to live in a country that thinks Donald Trump is a good choice as a leader. 

Leaving your country is scary.  But my ancestors did, and for similar reasons.  I don't know if I have the same bravery they did.  I'll find out. 

In a sense, nothing President Trump does will affect me much.  I have a retirement annuity, I don't actively engage in politics, I keep a low profile, and I am not much known on the internet.  Just doing nothing would be safe.

But I can't do "nothing". 

Still, I'm between horrified and "sick" about this travesty of an election.  The people chose, and that is what democracy IS.  So do I flee or fight?

My initial shock is over.  I've talked myself a way through it.  What do I do tomorrow to end the Trumpism?

I guess I have my answer.  I had to work through it.