email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Refrigerator Problems

I replaced an old refrigerator in 2000.  Mainly, I was tired of the fridge section on the bottom (I reach into the veggie tray a lot and the bending over was getting really tiring), and the door opened the wrong way.  Laugh, but I didn't know doors could be reversed at the time...

Well, right after the new one was installed, I learned the door stayed open unless deliberately closed because it was mis-leveled.  I could adjust the levels.  No problem.  Right!

I ended up detaching a wheel and having the whole thing fall on my hand (10 years ago).  I escaped serious injury, but ended up with a front corner on a block of wood.  There it sat for 10 years.  I kept meaning to have a repair service fix it properly, but I let it go.

Well, last year, the cooling started to fail.  I kept moving the control knob to more cooling.  Two weeks ago, I reached the maximum cooling setting.  I'm not stupid, I knew that meant it was running less and less eficiently, probably due to dust bunnies around the cooling tubes behind the fridge.  But I could pull it out to clean it because of the missing wheel.  I even found my owners manual and wrote down the repair telephone number to have the wheel replaces and the unit checked next Monday..

I waited a week too long.  The fridge failed last night!  This morning the fridge temperature was 60F.  The freezer is working just fine, which saved me about $50 in frozen foods.  I know it stayed cold because I keep an ice cube in a small sealed container.  I've done that for years, and it is a good trick.  If you are ever away and the power fails then returns, you will know because the ice cube melts then refreezes flat.  My ice cube was still a cube.

Fortunately, the old refridgerator is still working and down in the basement.  I moved everything I could to it, but there was a lot of stuff I couldn't feel safe about.  All stuff like mayonaise, salad dressings, and raw meat had to be trashed.  And I through out some stuff that was probably safe to keep (mustard, ketchup, tartar sauce).  Why take any chances for cheap stuff?

The old fridge warmed up in the time it took to fill it with the sodas and veggies and fruits and pickles from the upstairs fridge.  It took hours to cool down below 40F.  I suppose I can't even trust the milk I bought today.  So it goes tomorrow.  I guess I put too much volume at 60F in the old fridge for it to cool it all down quickly enough.

The aggravating part is that the soonest brand name repair appointment I can get is next Thursday.  Another generic repair place might be able to come out Tuesday, but I won't know til Monday.  I won't blame them for that because they keep appointment slots open for people who have refrigerated medications to deal with.  Those they take immediately.  That actually says good things for them.

But I may be dealing with awkward cooking arrangements for almost a week.  Blah...

At least I'll get the front wheel replaced so that I can pull the refridgerator out every few months and clean the coolant tubes...  But it serves me right for not dealing with this last year! 

Friday, July 30, 2010

More Problems

Well, I have to apologize.  I haven't really been doing anything worth mentioning lately.  Everything has just been to maintain the yard and house, and nothing worth taking a picture about.  I water the garden, spray some weeds, do laundry. Wow, how exciting...

OK, I have a few pictures but they are embarrassingly routine.

Here I am watering some plants...
I get bored holding the hose for 6 -7 minutes, so I jam the spading fork into the lawn and stick the hose nozzle in it.  It really works quite well, and I can pull weeds in the next part of the beds while the hose does it's thing.  Or sit in the shade and drink beer.  Guess which effort has been winning out in this heat?

Here is the groundcover I am watering.
It is called 'snow-on-the-mountain' and not happy in this MD heat.  It loves NH!  But it looks good April-June, survives July-August, and looks good again September-October in the shadiest areas.  Mostly, it is tenacious and keeps sending up fresh leaf stalks.  Each of these clumps were mere single leaves last Fall.  Next year, it will be a full groundcover.

The front hosta bed is looking good...
This is from May, but they haven't changed any (well, they have some flower stalks).  Watering 2x weekly has helped.

I picked some tomatoes 2 weeks ago...  Those were eaten up in 4 days.
Sadly, it was so hot in June that I only have small fruits developing now...  It was too hot for them to pollinate.

And it hasn't been much better in July.  So far, I have had 20 days over 90F degrees this month.  Today actually dipped below 80F, but I wasn't able to take advantage of that.  More about that tomorrow...

I picked my first ripe bell peppers of the season yesterday...
I was surprised the purple ones ripened before the red or orange ones.  I've grown purple ones a couple of times in the 90s, but these are the first to grow well.  They aren't as sweet as my Red Lipstick variety, but they look good in a salad.  They turn gray-green when sauteed, so I use them fresh.

Gee, I guess I did have some things to post about...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Raingutters Again

Well, at least I cleared the gutters over the deck today.  I have a mesh screen over them now.  I think I will pull them off.  They don't work!

They get covered with oak flowers, leaves, and twigs.  It finally occurred to me today that the rain runs down the roof, hits the debris on the top of the raingutter mesh, and flows right over it onto the deck.


Now, when I originally built the deck, I installed a proper flashing against the house.  In spite of that, rain got into the basement wall below.  So when I had the deck door replaced 5 years ago (believe it or not, but LC the cat cracked the double pane seal by head ramming it - I was there when it happened), I had the professional replace the nearby boards and the flashing.

Then again, the gutters fill with debris even with the covers and block the downspouts, so maybe the rain is backing up into the walls from there.  I don't know.  So I am going to take the covers off so I can clean them out a couple of times each year until someone designs a gutter cover that actually works.  From the research I've done, NO gutter cover actually works...

So I used a stepladder to clean out the gutter and downspout hole over the deck.  The cover made it a miserable effort, but I managed it.  Then I got out the old extension ladder.  The nylon rope had rotted (nylon rope rots?).  I found a replacement rope at the Home Depot.  I put it on wrong the first time and had to re-install it while it was up because I couldn't lower it because it was caught in the gutter (stabilizer bars wedged in the gutter covers).

Don't laugh yet, it gets better...

When I had the rope attached correctly, I pulled on it.  The pulley popped off.  I'm going to buy a new one as soon as they go on sale.

Meanwhile, the gutter has loosened right over my corn, and the washout beat several plants right out of the ground back when it rained in early June.  I replanted them and placed a sheet of plywood at an angle against the house to deflect gutterfall (naturally, that was the last rain for a month).  I only had to do that because my attempts to install new gutter nails was useless.  I think the board on the roof is rotted.

Meanwhile, 3/4 of the raingutters are clogged with debris.  I fear it is time for a roofing/gutter professional to do some repairs. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Poison Ivy and Hoses

1.  The last of the poison ivy is turning a lovely shade of yellow as it dies.  YAY! 

2.  I finally moved different lengths of hoses around to get them matched to the lengths most useful.  I have a 4 outlet gang valve at the house.  2 of the valves hold hoses. 

1 hose goes to a post 20 feet from the gang valve (so I don't have to drag the hose through my flowerbed).  The hose there now just reaches another post and hose that extends the reach into woods (where I have astilbes and hostas  and ferns).  The hose there reaches a 3rd post and hose that reaches to the back of the yard where there are goatsbeard shrubs (Aruncus dioicus) that need more water than nature provides.  I got tired up coiling and uncoiling 150' of garden hose just to reach the back of the yard...  But the last hose broke and the repair coupling leaked in spite of my best efforts.  So I needed to replace it.

The other hose goes along the fence to the garden way in the back yard opposite the wooded area.  I only needed 50' of hose there and had 100'.  Well, that hose is now at the last stage of the woods hose train.

The front yard hose was too short to reach the corners, so I bought an additional one a few years ago.  Great, now I could water the neighbors' yards.  That one alone is long enough for the front yard.  So the older shorter one there is now in the garden area!

Don't worry, it all works out perfectly.  But It sure took a lot of stretching hoses out and pacing off their lengths to figure out what needed to go where...  And a lot of moving them around and sealing the new connections with plumbers tape.  I think the neighbors were quite entertained watching me drag hoses back and forth.  LOL!

3.  I did buy one new hose.  I regret it though.  I went for the best.  An industrial quality unkinkable 3/4" hose that is UV and mold immune.  Sounded great!  But the hose is as stiff as a board.  It is nearly impossible to coil on a hose holder.  It is now the first hose in the front, where it will almost never have to be uncoiled move than a couple of coils.  Meaning that if I have to water the mailbox daylilies (a rare event) I will need to undo only 2 coils of it.

The good news is that, in case of nuclear war, there will be 2 things left on the property - moles and that garden hose.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

RAIN!!!

Finally, it rained yesterday!  And not a thunderstorm of 20 minutes where a lot of the rain would wash off the concrete-like lawn.  It was a nice steady drizzle 3 separate times.  It only totalled 5/8", but every drop soaked into the soil! 

Merely 1 hour after the first morning rain, I could see underwatered plants perking up all around the yard.  Even plants that I had been watering every few days looked happier.  It takes a LOT of watering to match even a meager rain! 

Still, we are just entering the traditional dry season, so I expect it is going to be a long hard Summer...

I'll try to put a good spin on it:  The mosquitos are having a harder time of it than I am.  Even those damn Asian Tiger mosquitoes need "some" water to lay their eggs in.  May they all die unreproductively...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Back At Work

I meant this to post July 8th, but typed 18th, so it didn't show when I expected.  The reason I'm doing this will be obvious when I post about "today" tomorrow...  LOL!

July 8th - Well, with the beastly temperatures of the past month, plus straining an ankle (twice) so that I was limping around pretty bad for 2 different weeks, I have gotten back on some projects the past few days.  But first, some summary about the weather:

High temperatures - The average high here is about 80-85 degrees in June.  We had only 2 days that were (barely) below average.  We had 12 days in a row where the temp got above 90, and we set local records on 2 days (99 and 100 degrees).  There is a measurement called "degree days" where the daily high degrees above 65 are accumulated (a high of 85 means there were 20 degree days for the date).  The "normal to date" is 431.  The "actual to date" is 713!  In June alone, there were 472.

Rainfall - We haven't reached the average rainfall for any month this year.  Normal to date is 19".  So far, we have had 13.6".  My lawn already looks like it normally does by mid August.  Ive seen poison ivy plants dying from the lack of rainfall.  I seldom water the flowerbeds, but I have had to do it every few days for the past 3 weeks because the plants wilt so badly. The garden veggies do get regular watering, but that is routine in any year. 

I don't use large water-sprinklers, mainly because I can live with the lawn grass going dormant for the summer, and because little of my flowerbeds and garden (non-lawn) benefit from large rectangular watering patterns.  So I water by hand in specific spots.  Standing in one place watering is too boring, so I have learned that a D-shaped spading fork handle holds a hose nozzle quite nicely.  Stick the fork in the lawn, aim the hose nozzle to fall only on the flowerbeds, leave it in one spot for a good 5 minutes (quite a lot of water in one small area), then move it 6' to the next spot.


The downside is that I have to stay outside the whole time (about 2 hours).  The upside is that, instead of holding the hose, I get to sit in the shade listening to the radio while sipping on a beer (or two).  And while sitting, I get to watch the local wildlife.

For example, today I watched a hummingbird feed from the butterfly bush, some salvias, a cardinal flower, and a daylily.  I watched the finches feeding at the thistle seed feeder.  I watched cardinals at the sunflower feeder.  I saw squirrels chasing each other through the trees.  I watched hundreds of bees at the various flowers.  Most are bumbles, but there are also a fair number of honeybees around my flowers I'm organic and I think that helps them), and I have learned to recognize a number of smaller less-common native bees.

I have even noticed that many of the "bumblebees" are actually Sphinx moths (aka hummingbird moths).  Sadly, the Spinx moth caterpillar is the dreaded tomato hornworm, which can really chew up tomato leaves.  But they aren't originating here, because I thoroughly inspect my tomato plants for them every week.  So I can enjoy the adult's graceful nectar-feeding habit at the flowers without worrying that their babies are eating my tomato plants!

Speaking of the tomatoes, they are doing very well.  I have 8 plants of 5 main season heirloom varieties this year (Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Prudens Purple, Aunt Gertie's Gold, and Tennessee Britches) plus one regular cherry tomato growing from a hanging bucket.  There are a few fruits "breaking color", so I should have my first ripe ones soon.  I can hardly wait!

I did the 3rd (and possibly last) poison ivy spraying for the season today.  There is an overgrown corner of the backyard I have been clearing out gradually.  I would dig up scrub saplings and regular vines for a few feet across and 20' wide, then expose another large clump of poison ivy and spray it.  Then 2 weeks later, rake those away and dig up a few more feet.  I will reach the fence next time!  Then I can decide what to do with the spot.  I think I will plant azaleas.  The spot seems good for them, and they are relatively low maintenance.  I sure don't want any more lawn...

I was lucky with that area.  It was originally for stacking firewood.  But I don't use the fireplace much anymore and the wood started to rot.  It got overgrown in the first place because I didn't need to get at the old firewood and it became a dumping space for cut saplings.  I was afraid there would be hornets or yellow jackets in there, but thankfully, none.  No termites either, which surprised me.  I think I can just spread the decayed firewood around on the ground as mulch for the azaleas.

I am hoping to get back to projects with some photo potential this week...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day, America


As has been my habit for many years, I went out on the deck and read the Declaration of Independence aloud.  I do not shout it, there is no audience, and I do it for my own pleasure and remembrance.

But I thought I would also post it here because it is worth seeing the entire document...

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.