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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

My life is Not Going Right

Have you ever felt that too many things are just mostly not going right?  That you thought it was all OK, and then suddenly you wanted to screaming out into the night looking for a clue about how it should be going? 

I shouldn't be at 68, but I am.  Maybe I have lived alone for too long and it is finally catching up to me.  But I can't imagine living with another person 24/7.

Maybe I''ve just lived just lived in the same house too long.  But I can't find anything wrong with the house.  It is actually easy to live in, a nice circular arrangement of kitchen, living room and TV room with 1 and a half baths and 3 bedrooms at the other.  The yard is a 1/2 acre and that's not bad. 

Maybe politics is getting under my skin.  Sometimes it seems to me that we are collectively going crazy.  The world is getting crazier.  Nations are becoming more partisan and controlled by crazy people.  Evil people are learning to control the world again.  I used to think the United Nations could solve some things.  I don't think that now. 

Or maybe it is just domestic politics.  I used to think things were getting better there, but they seem to be getting worse too.  I used to hope about elections; now I just dread them.  Everytime the political commentators say we have hit the bottom, the bottom gets deeper.

Well, maybe the yard has gotten out of my control.  I was 36 when I moved here and felt I could tackle any problem.  32 years seems like yesterday in one sense, but ages ago in another.  I can't do what I used to do.

Or maybe it is just the same old same old furniture.  I've lived like a college guy in his first apartment with hand-me-downs.  And the furniture does mean something to me being old family stuff.  But I don't want "House Beautiful" either.  I live a relaxed style.  My parents once asked us kids what we wanted from their house when they moved to a Florida rowhouse.  I waited for my siblings to choose and then named some furniture after they chose what they wanted.  Dad kept bugging me to chose "something".  I didn't expect them to be alive when the time came to "claim the stuff". 

I didn't want what I had "claimed".  It was a fancy walnut dining table with chairs, china cabinet, lowboy, etc.  That's not me.  And I'm introspective to understand "why".  When I was a child, I wasn't allowed to do any rough stuff on the "fancy furniture".  Maybe if I bought fancy furniture on my own it would be different, but who knows? 

Rosewood seems interesting, but I would be afraid to live with the stuff.

The garden is frustrating.  Not enough sunlight.  I could poison a few trees to make enough sunlight get through, but I can't get myself to do that.  I found a spot where the sun shines brightest,  and planted 3 tomato plants there in July.  And I got more heirloom tomatoes from there in the past 2 weeks than I got in the regular garden all Summer.  All at once of course.  I picked 7 tomatoes today.  I can't eat 7 tomatoes today.

I understand this doesn't match the problems some people have.  But they are MY problems

But together, it means I'm not in the right place, I'm not happy here,  I want a different house (all one level) and I'm on emotional tear here.   I don't like my life.  I need to make some serious changes. 

And I think I am "losing it".  I'm going altogether nuts.  I want to move, but I'm afraid to because I have so much "stuff".  I'm afraid of losing my good city water.  I'm afraid of losing my Verizon cable service.    But I also want to get a good garden and escape this traffic jam of a city. 

When I moved here 32 years ago, it was on the outskirts of residential places, there were no trees round, and life was great.  Now it is a traffic jam morning to evening, I get no sun for gardening, and light pollution is so bad I haven't seen the stars at night for years. 

I'm being stupid.  But also real for me.   

2005 Toyota Highlander Car

I wanna new car,
Without scratches and dents,
One that looks like it should,
That costs only pence.

I wanna new car.
Electric would be good. 
That could haul a small trailer
And a small boat too.

I wanna a new car,
13 years is quite long
Its starting to die,
And it won't be long.

I wanna new car,
Black was never right.
You can't see that car,
In the dead of night.

I wanna new car,
Another SUV.
The height gets me up
Over headlights, you see.

I wanna a new car,
For the pride, ya'll.
But it has to fit the garage,

And the door's kinna small.

I wanna new car,
Without tech-stuff, ya know.
I don't call when driving,
And I know where I am.

I wanna new car,
One that keeps me alive,
And keeps me protected
In front or behind.

I wanna new car,
Hydrogen's good
But there ain't that stuff
In the neighborhood.

I wanna new car,
But maybe keep what I've got.
Get it detailed and painted,
Let mechanics fix it up.

I wanna a new car,
I could buy one you see.
But this one could last,
Another 10 years and three.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation

I write tonight not to condemn Brett Kavanaugh.  That has been done to death, as have supportive statements.  That part is over; Brett Kananaugh is now a Supreme Court Justice and will probably be one the rest of my life.

My comment today is about the failure of the process of deciding who gets confirmed to the Supreme Court and how.  And it is about fairness.  And partisanship. 

Partly, it is about how politics have become more partisan over the past decades.  It has happened before, of course.  Early in US history, political arguments were intensely personal and slanderous (worse than today) where political parties owned newspapers and the editorials and editorial cartoons were uncontrolled and facts were not even thought relevant. 

A political cartoon today might exaggerate a person's appearance (Obama's long face, Trump's hair), but older ones had them actually portrayed as animals.  And in 1852 Representative Preston Brooks (D-SC) used a walking cane to attack Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA), nearly killing him while others looked on.  Things got calmer later.

But we are returning to irrational anger.  It is a different kind of anger.  Today the political parties attack the reputation, honesty, and factual memory of others at any opportunity.  They attack when they don't even seem to believe what they say themselves.  When presented with facts disproving their arguments, they say "Oh well, that is just politics".

No, it isn't!  Politics is "the art of the possible".  It is the skill of reaching an agreement with someone you don't completely agree with to get something you both think more important than what you each give.  It is the idea that people you disagree with have honorable things that matter to them, just as you have things you consider honorable yourself.

It can be theoretical trades.  One Senator wants higher taxes on imported goods to support a national manufacturing base and another Senator wants higher minimum wages so that struggling workers can afford their rent and decent food.

Or it can be more practical.  One House Member sees a need in his/her District for a bridge to connect manufacturing to highways and another sees a need for road improvements between 2 large cities.

Or both sides want to change some social laws and agree to meet in the middle for things to be changed in the future as society changes.

But that isn't what is happening today.  Today, what happens is that both sides say they want 100%  and the other side gets 0% and they fight to the death about it as if the slightest degree of negotiation is fatal.

Because it is.  The US has not been so polarized since just before the Civil War.  When I was young, there were Liberal Republicans and Conservative Repulicans.  There were Liberal Democrats and Conservative Democrats.  Each Party had to first find some degree of agreement within themselves before they could nominate some Presidential candidate.

The result was that the candidates were either close to "centrist" or had to be close.  US politics, as a Social Democracy worked well that way. 

Nixon ruined that by enticing all the conservative democrats his way, Goldwater exemplified that, and the Democrats responded by slowing absorbing the Progressive Republicans (like me). 

And here we are now.  Civil Wars occur when a people are geographically split, ideologically split, religiously split, or politically split.  We are reaching all 4 of those.

What to do?  Get our elected leaders back toward the center.  Choose centrists in every election. Or at least the least extreme candidate.  Politicians don't elect themselves, it takes we voters to put them in office.

In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan is a Republican.  I normally vote Democrat by default because the Republican candidates seem too extreme usually.  I disagree with some things he has done.  But he is closer to the center than his Democratic opponent. 

I will put my vote toward the more centrist candidate.  I have to start somewhere.  I'm not choosing a Party, I'm choosing a candidate.

Look at your own State's candidates.  Choose center.  Put people in office who can actually work together.  Because those are the leaders of our future.  That House Member you elect next month may be the President in 30 years,

Friday, September 28, 2018

Matching Paint, 2

So I went to Lowe's because Home Depot said they had the same (Duron Aztec Rouge) paint color in Valspar.  Well, of course Lowe's had no idea what I was talking about.  According to their computer, they had no such color.

It was maddening!

But I had info with me...  And all I wanted was a color card.  Lowe's sells Valspar paint.  I had the closest Valspar color name with me.  They couldn't find it!  Not the color sample card or even the color.  And Valspar had it on their website.  But Lowe's couldn't find it in any of their colr sample cards.

I showed the paint guy  the formula for the paint, but he didn't understand it, which was frustrating.  Paint color is defined in 3 numbers.  Hue, Saturation, and Lightness.  All paint companies understand that.  That is HOW they define their colors.  If *I* worked in paints, I would make sure to understand that.

My original color was Hue, Saturation, and Lightness 4, 46, 84.  I found that Valspar "Hearts Afire" was only one number different.  But they couldn't even find that in their own line of paint.

But I also had a Pittsburgh paint name of the litterally same color with me.  One number different in a different category.  Lowe's could find THAT!  They mixed a quart of paint for me.

I probably don't even care much if there is a slight color mismatch.  Its a black-out bedroom and the color hasn't faded much after 25 year but maybe some.  Better a close match than bare plaster patch, right?

But this experience of color matching is really reinforced my conviction that even the "experts" in retail sales haven't the slightest idea of what they are really doing.  They just learn "the system" and are good little employees.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Matching Paint

I have an odd color in my bedroom.  It doesn't bother me because I'm usually in the dark there.  And it is 25 years old.  The paint can is long gone.

But a few years ago, I had some electrical work dome and ended up plasterig some holes.  I sanded them down just fine, but I didn't have any paint left.

So there the patches sit mocking me in the whiteness of the plaster...  I mock back by turning out the lights... 

But there comes a time to fix all things and I decided to prime and paint the plaster patches.  I assumed that, because I knew the name of the paint, a match would be easy to get.  Silly me!  I looked up the color name "Aztec Rouge" and went to the DIY store to get a match.  And they had no idea what I was talking about.

They have some really cool equipment there.  They can match any piece of color I bring in.  But they only match colors by formulas in their books.  If I gave them a pice of my wall, they could match the color because their machine tells them to take a white base and add an ounce of this and 3.5 ounces of that.  Voila!  Which IS pretty impressive. 

But I didn't have a piece of wall to give them.  What I DID have was the exact hue, saturation and lightness numbers (which define a color).  Because I found that no-longer-existing paint color on the internet.  The exact numbers are 4, 46, 84 if you understand that stuff.  I do because a former art-major girlfriend didn't and I learned enough to help her pass her "you make it" color-wheel chart (and she probably doesn't understand it to this day, but I hope she has a great life).

So I cave the hue, saturation and lightness numbers to the DIY paint department, and they had no idea what to do with them.  In fact, they said the numbers meant nothing.

And I was sure they were defining the color.  But when several professional paint clerks say they mean nothing, there isn't much to discuss.  So I went home and did some research.

Don't be shocked that I was right.  I'm used to it.  At a paint color-matching site, I found my exact color, and changing the numbers changed the color slightly,  so the numbers did mean something; the paint clerks just didn't understand them. 

The old paint no longer exists.  But I found one with only one number different by "1".  I doubt I could tell the difference, and the paint I found is slightly paler than the original and that should match the old paint better anyway.  But the the nearest store that sells it is 20 miles away.

That should be my worst problem, LOL!  At least I solved it. At least now I can get them to match it.  In Pittsburgh paints, the color is called 'Cranapple' and their book tells them how to make THAT! 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Lawn and Flower Stuff

I mentioned previously deciding to overseed my lawn and improve it a bit.  That involved aerating the lawn and mowing the grass short, then raking all the clippings up for removal, roughing up the bare soil so seeds would have better contact, and planning to broadcast good quality fescue seed (shade and sun blend since my lawn varies in sunlight) before a few days of forecast sunny days.

Unfortunately, the sun never showed up (always a few days in the future).  Well, I think it managed to rain nearly every day this month (and not much from Hurricane Florence).  I have always been told to seed in dry weather so the seeds fall through the existing grass and reach the ground, and because the seeds might rot in wet weather.

But I was running out of the right temperatures, so I checked on the internet.  To my surprise, some sites (apparently not connected to sellers) actually recommended overseeding in mild rainy periods.  They said that wild grass naturally germinates in mild rainy times and it avoids having to water the lawn 2x a day.

Well, as I said, it is getting cooler, and germination rates go down (and emergence slows down) when it is cooler.

And forgive me, they said what I wanted to hear, LOL!  That's not something I usually pay attention to, but I'm running out of time.  The forecast is for drizzly weather for the next week at least (never pay attention to weather forecasts more than 5 days out).

So, today was dry.  I mowed the lawn short again, re-roughed the bare spots, and spread my grass seed according to the spreader setting recommended by the seed company.  And ran out of seed halfway!

So off to the DIY big-box stores I went.  Walmart was only selling little bags at high prices.  I went to Home Depot looking for big bags of separate Sun and Shade varieties of fescue.  Some bags didn't specify of were seed and fertilizer combos.  Earlier this month, they might have had each, but I finally found a good sun/shade blend.  Naturally, that was the only grass seed without a price label!

I found a clerk and he searched the racks for the pricing label for about 5 minutes without success.  Finally he pulled out a digital gadget and scanned the barcode and got the price in 10 seconds.

What IS it with some people?  He knew he had the scanner.  Does he hate customers and enjoys passive/aggressive punishment of them?  Did he resent me disturbing his rest against the shelves?  Does he hate digital gadgets?

But the price was "OK" and off I went.

I was also looking for a lot of pansies to plant for Fall color.  They only had single plants in individual 2" pots for $3 each.  I wanted about 50.  But not for $150!  But they did have a really unusual Mum that caught my eye.

Most mums are fluffy-flowered and red, orange, or yellow.  This one had vivid red petals with a bright yellow center.  It was called "Red Daisy".  It was only available in a 2 gallon pot for $11.  I usually buy smaller plants, as they grow well for me and I'm patient.  I just looked it up.  It gets BIG!  3' tall and 5' wide.  The label didn't mention that.  But it lives about 10 years and I bet dividing it every few years helps it live longer.  Well, I was planning to re-arrange the flowerbed anyway (many old plants dying off - even most "perennials" aren't "forever") and this will nearly force some changes.  I am planning to go with larger individual flowers interspersed with annuals.

So I went to the Lowe's next to them for Pansies.  They had the same $3 pots,  BUT they also had 12-cel packs in same color per pack for $10.  I bought 2 packs of yellow, and 1 each of purple, blue, and bronze.  And 2 of the blooming pansies in one purple pack are nearly BLACK!  I've never seen that before.  Those will go in a special pot on the deck.

I got the new grass seed spread after I returned home.  Now I just have to wait to see what grows in the rain.  The bare spots will be proof of success or failure.  If grass seed doesn't germinate and grow well in a week of drizzle, well, at least I tried!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Almost Delivered

The DR brand self-propelled brush mower arrived at the nearest delivery depot they use today.  Its a Fedex depot.  I chose that because DR ships stuff freight and the options were (since a freight truck can't back up into my driveway and get out in my dead end residential street):  I offload a 250 pound crate from the truck (yeah, right) at no charge or the truckers uses the tailgate to lower the crate to ground level and pushes it off (on the street) for $99.  I considered that, as the mower is probably mostly assembled and it would mean I mostly had to break the crate apart (we are not talking cardboard boxes here).

For no charge, I could have it delivered to a depot and pick it up or arrange redelivery into my garage.  Well, it was a Fedex depot, and they deliver stuff in trucks that can manage residential driveways.  And I could pick it up for free if I drove there and they would load it on my hauling trailer.

So I called Fedex about residential delivery.  I should have called them before I ordered the brush mower.  The depot is out of my delivery area.  They can have it redelivered by a contract company though.

But the Fedex person asked a question I did not expect.  "Do you have permission from the shipper to have a 3rd party pick it up and deliver it to you"?  I had to admit I did not specifically have such permission.  So they are emailing the shipper to receive that permission.

When you get a question you did not expect, it can be hard to think of follow-up questions on the spot.  So I said, yes please email the shipper.

Afterwards, it occurred to me I should have asked why permission was needed.  After all, the shipper had completed the delivery (to the Fedex depot).  Why would they be involved in any further movement of the crate? 

In my working career, I was very good at asking follow-up questions to surprises like that.  These days, not so much.  It might be age, experience with the subject matter at work, less frequency of experiencing surprise questions these days, etc.

But anyway, now I'm waiting for a company to give me permission to have a 3rd party pick up my crate at a depot and deliver it into the garage.  I expect they will grant such permission as a routine matter.

I could drive 40 miles to the Fedex depot and pick it up at any time.  But towing a heavy crate on a 5'x8' trailer is not the safest thing in the world.  And I really hate driving long distances.  40 miles with a trailer is "long" to me.

Everything will get resolved successfully eventually.  I can't WAIT to cut down that 1/8th acre of blackberries, plant some specimen trees and get that part of my back yard back!

Saturday, September 15, 2018


I'm not a great movie-watcher.  Mostly sci-fi.  But I've watched some good movies.  One was 'True Grit'  (some movies are just unique) and today I found a remake offerred from 2010 free TV.  I had some doubts.  The Texas Ranger seemed sexist.  I mean, when I first switched to the movie, he seemed a bit "stalkish".  So I went elsewhere, but I went back.  I mostly never like remakes.  And I hardly ever remember names.

So, the girl character was right, Rooster Cogburn was right, the Texas Ranger was mostly right (Glenn Campbell seemed more honorable in the original) but got better as the movie went along.

The bad guys were good as actors (and bad guys are seldom good actors). 

In fact what impressed me was that all the characters were as good or better than the originals.  I think even the bad guys did a good job of being bad.   If there was an award for "best remake", I would suggest the 2010 version of 'True Grit'.

Watch it if you get the chance...

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Odds and Ends

1.  I had to dispatch another groundhog a few days ago.  I've gotten in the habit of finding their burrows, stuffing the carcass into the opening, and covering the opening with the dirt from around the burrow.  Well, this last one made a weird entrance that was just under soil level.  I covered the carass and tamped down the soil.  I do that because I figure new varmints MUST sometimes intersect old burrows and the existence of a dead groundhog ought to discourage the new ones.

I noticed some movement around the burrow the next day, and realized there were 3 vultures standing on my toolshed!  I went out (and they flew away) and discovered just a slight exposure of the groundhog from pecking at the soil. 

I've seen nature shows that state that vultures find dead food only by sight.  They are wrong.  The burrow was not visible at all due to thick overhanging overgrowth.  They can smell as well as see.  After I covered the carcass with 4" more dirt, they came back the next day.  So then I covered it with heavy boards.  They haven't been back.

2.  I lost power today.  No storm, no lightning, it just went off for an hour.  That was a surprise.  The bigger surprise was that my computer went off.  I have a backup battery for it, but it didn't activate.  I did some chores by dim daylight (cleaned litterboxes, collected trash, prepared veggies and chicken for dinner, and listened to a battery backed-up radio.  I have buried electrical cables here, so outages are rare.  Which means I forget how much I depend on electricity.

I had to laugh at myself when I tried to open the garage door (electric opener), walked into rooms and flipped light switches, etc.  I've read that leaving too many electrical things on after a power failure can throw circuit breakers when the power returns from sudden demand, so I went around and turned off everything I could expect for a couple lights to let me know when the power returned.

3.  It has been raining for so long that my tomatoes and beans are dying.  I picked all the ripe tomatoes and most are cracked open from all the water and fungal diseases are rampant.  Fortunately, I have 3 tomato plants that are under the rainshadow of the overhanging roof.  I means that in dry times, I have to water them more, but in rain, they do better.  And they are all looking healthy and loaded with fruits.

4.  The mosquitos are breeding like crazy.  The ground is so wet, the larvae are surviving in places one would never expect.  Even when I drain planting pot saucers carefully each day, there is enough moisture left (and new rain) to keep them alive.  I even found some growing in a slight depression in a tree branch (I drilled a hole through the depression on advice from a garden site).

5.  The constant rain is depressing.  I stepped out on the deck yesterday just as the sun broke through briefly (must have been the one hole in the clouds for hundreds of square miles) and got a bit silly.  I pretended I was burned by the strange light in the sky.  As if I was Gollum tied with an Elven rope).  But seriously, everytime it isn't actually raining, I let the Mews out so they don't go stir-crazy.  They have been stuck inside so much for weeks, I'm cleaning the litterboxes 2 and even 3 times a day.  Which tells me how much of their "business" they do outside...

6.  I may have gotten the mower running again, but it isn't a happy engine.  I mentioned fishing some debris out of the gas tank.  It makes funny noises when it does start, so I suspect some debris has been sucked into the fuel tube.  I've looked, but the fuel line is cleverly hidden from DIYers like me.  I can't even figure out how to get at it.  I've lived here 30 years.  The first mower lasted 10 years.  This one is 20 years old.  It might be a good time to just buy a new one.  New ones cut better and more levelly and use less gas.  I might buy a "zero-turn mower".  And maybe I just want a new one.

7.  Speaking of "new ones", my Toyota Highlander is 13 years old.  Things are starting to go wrong.  It only has 28,500 miles on it (I don't drive much).  But age matters too.  Last year, I brought it in for regular maintenance.  They did the work, but suggested I replace the timing belt, all engine belts, and the waterpump.  IIRC, they suggested a cost of about $1,000.

I declined at the time, but they planted a seed of concern in my mind.  Now I worry about the timing belt breaking.  That means the car just STOPS and there isn't anything you can do about it.  You can only have it towed somewhere to have a lot of work done.

Well, I've been thinking it was time to replace the car.  I've been hoping to wait for a decent electric vehicle that could tow a small utility trailer (or even a fuel cell vehicle), but I don't think I can wait much longer.  

Because I called the dealer and asked about the cost of the timing belt and the other work.  Over $2,300!  I'll call a non-dealer repair shop and get an estimate, but it probably won't be much different.

Which leaves me in a slight dilemma.  I don't want a new car with all sorts of internet connections built in (privacy concerns plus I just wouldn't use them - but tell me why I might want them) and I don't like to buy used cars (someone traded it in for a reason). 

I am considering a new Toyota Highlander (for familiarity) or a Subaru Forester.  Both have top Consumer Reports ratings and I am used to SUVs.  Since I drive so little, gas mileage isn't a concern.  I also have some idea of buying a renovated car from my younger days plus a small electric-only vehicle for local errands. 

Oddly enough, a renovated Pontiac Bonneville Convertible or Eagle Vision (my 2 favorite cars I've owned) and a small electric wouldn't cost much more than a new Highlander (and there is a shop in town that specializes in services old cars). 

8.  I mentioned the house is 30 years old.  It needs work.  I redid the roof and siding a few years ago, but the inside is OLD.  30 year old cheap carpeting is literally something to sneeze at.  I'm almost afraid to vacuum it lest it just falls apart.  I'm fine with most of the house.  I don't need any walls removed, kitchen renovations, etc.  But my furniture is like that of a college grad in his first apartment with old hand-me-down mismatched stuff from the parents and leftovers from previous roommates.  I have windows that can't be opened, and plaster-patches left over from electric work 3 years ago.  It is bwyond DIY work for me.  I need to change all that and get a general contractor in here. 

9.  Time for a new Will, too.  What I arranged in the 90s doesn't match what I need today.  Different family needs, different charities, and my assets have changed too (the stock market I poured savings into in 2009 has been very very good to me). 

10.  The house is a mess.  I used to clean weekly before Dad moved here in 2012, I cleaned more often when he was here (to avoid listening to his beloved Fox News), but I've been lax since he left.  There may be some cobwebs in the tall corner of the staircase from his time here.  I need to spend some time catching up. 

11.  I have 2 toolsheds.  I built one 25 years ago.  The other was built by a professional 10 years ago.  Mine leaks.  If it ever stops raining before Winter, I will replace it.  Properly, this time.

Enough for now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Bad Lawn Overseeding Advice

So, to make sure I didn't forget anything since the last time I overseeded my lawn, I went to the internet.  OMG, what nonsense I found.

WikiHow seemed like a good place to start.  What they said at first matched what I remembered.  But then it got weird.

They had 2 sections; overseeding an existing lawn and seeding a new lawn.  I ONLY looked at the overseeding part.  They said to cut the grass short (right), and dethatch if necessary (right) and rough up bare spots (right).

But then they said to till the soil 1-2" deep and rake the debris away.  Whoa!  Why cut the grass and then till it away?  That is for new lawns.  They messed up their instructions.

So I looked at another site about lawn care.  They said to overseed your fescue lawn in early September (here) when the high temperature is 55-70F.  OOPS!  The temp isn't 55-70 until mid October at best (here).  And fescue germinates best at 75-85F.  Another fail!

Where do these sites get their information?  Do they just ask some random stranger?  Do they just make it up?

I'm going to visit WikiHow and see if there is a way I can correct their disinformation.

Meanwhile, my plans to overseed the lawn are at a standstill.  Not because of bad internet advice, but because of weather.  I thought I had things planned well.  The soil was wet, but there was a 4 day forecast of non-rain.  The first morning, I would aerate the lawn and mow the existing grass short, rake a few bare spots caused by my trailer to help the seed settle in, and spread the seed.

As mentioned previously, I got half the yard aerated and mowed when the mower ran out of gas.  It was afternoon the next day before I got it running again and finished the job just in time for a surprise rainstorm (and it rained the next day too).  You can't spread seed in wet grass.  It sticks to the exiting grass blades (now reaching the soil), and rain makes the seeds rot.

Well, I could wait a few days for it to dry out.  No such luck.  It kept drizzling off and on for several more days.  Then there were thunderstorms for a couple days.  And now there is Hurricane Florence coming.  Heavy rain will loosen rooting grass and kill it, and unrooted seeds will wash into ripples across the lawn downslope. 

So I've been forced to wait.  The good news is that Hurricane Florence is predicted to take a more westerly course when it makes landfall in 3 days.  And then it should move east again as it weakens.  So maybe now more rain for a while after the weekend.  Then I can do the preparation all over again and finally spread the grass seed. 

We have had an bizarre number of rainy days this summer, and some weeks have had a lot of volume of rain as well.  My 6" capacity rain gauge has been filled a couple times, and 2" every couple days is routine. 

This is really unusual.  A decade ago, it was routine to have the soil in my lawn crack open from dryness in August and the grass go brown and dormant until late September.  Today, I pushed a 12" screwdriver into the soil easily right to the handle.

Weather variations are maddening!