email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy Old Year 2014


Yesterday...  Had accumulated points at the grocery store worth 90 cents per gallon of gas expiring yesterday, so I HAD to go shopping to use them.  And since I was there...

Happy OLD Year,
Happy OLD Year,
I couldn't let this go this year.

I wanted to end 
The Old Year right
So Grocery-Shopping off I went.

Happy OLD Year,
Happy OLD Year,
I couldn't let this go this year.

"Loaded up the big store cart.
Went for all the stuff I love
Though at Winter prices, not that smart.

Happy OLD Year,
Happy OLD Year,
I couldn't let this go this year.

Didn't bring a list this week
Depended on inspiration
Got the bill, it made me weak.

Happy OLD Year,
Happy OLD Year,
I couldn't let this go this year.

But I'm happy now at home
Admiring my treasures.
Steak, hot sausage, cordan bleu.

Marinated artichoke hearts,
Even fancy oliveses.
Aparagus, fresh brussels sprouts.

Long seedless cucumber

Even went for cheddar cheese
(Not my favrit, but seemed right).

Grape tomatoes firm and sweet.
A bag of Navel oranges.
Had to have some apples too. 

What's an apple without a pear.
Good ones, ripe.  Those are rare.
Got to have a melon, too.

Dead of Winter, so I cared
To buy some soups of hen and beef.
Pop-top soup is all I dared.

Wanted a lobster but even fer me
There are limits to my budget.
Shrimp are very much the same.

Got butter for the melting,
Made my own coctail sauce,
Ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice.

Now I just have to eat this stuff 
Sometime in the next 2 weeks.  
Trying not to put on pounds...

Happy OLD Year,
Happy OD Year,
I couldn't let this go this year.


Not exactly a poem, but I had a great time shopping and it registered the event.  I'll discuss packing stuff away tomorrow.

But goodbye 2014...


Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Why is December such a hard time on cats?  It seems so many leave for The Bridge in this month. 

Is it the short days that depress them? 

Less time outside for those who DO go outside?  Or just fewer sunpuddles for those who stay inside?

Do the longer nights just suggest going into "forever"?

It seems to me that we lose more cat-friends in December than any other month, and I don't know why...

The short days sadden ME.  I have to fight it; I get depressed at this time of year too.  But I know WHY.  Maybe its harder when you DON'T know why maybe they just get saddened and all.  Who knows the minds of our cats.  We try, but as close as we feel toward them, we cannot ever truly understand their thoughts.

I just know that December is a real hard time on cats. 

And so, for myself, and for the cats, I keep the house brightly lit, I keep them active, I stuff them with food, and I keep them on my lap as much as possible.  I don't know if that makes the slightest bit of difference. 

But it makes me feel good to try...  Special places to make them happy.

My lap.
Good places to sleep at night.
Interesting new spots.
Anything I can do...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Winter Holidays

To All My Friends -

The shortest days of this season have caused people the world over, of all times and cultures and beliefs and philosophies, to create reasons for celebrating the lengthening days. 

From ancient pre-history days when the Winter Solstice was celebrated to recognize the first longer days, to the old Persian Sadeh ("to defeat the forces of darkness, frost, and cold"), to Malkh (a celebration of the Sun in the Caucasus Mountains), to the Saturnalia of the Romans (Saturn was their god of plenty, wealth, and renewal - with exchanges of gifts), Yalda of the Iranians ("the turning point"), Modraniht of the Saxons ("Mothers Night" - and I'm guessing there was a fertility festival 9 months earlier), to the celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas in the modern religions, this time of year has always been celebrated in some sense of renewed life.

I tend to think of the initial causes of all these celebrations as the Winter Solstice and think of that day as my holiday.  There is no unique belief associated with it, as it is a natural function of the Earth's rotation and axial tilt.  Holidays established to recognize this event vary mostly on the precise date due to historical calendar changes.  Another reason I prefer the Winter Solstice itself...  That event is consistent.

So to everyone, whatever your reason is to celebrate at this general time of year, Celebrate and Be Joyful!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Not sure why this came to mind, but I suddenly remembered this vaguely, and I had search far and wide to find it again.  Its why we haven't been contacted...

Imagine if you will... the Leader of the fifth Exploratory Force speaking to the Commander In Chief...

Leader:"They're made out of meat, Sir."
Leader:"Meat. They're made out of meat."
Leader:"There's no doubt about it. We picked several individuals from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, probed them all the way through. They're completely meat."
Commander:"That's impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars."
Leader:"They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don't come from them. The signals come from machines."
Commander:"So who made the machines? That's who we want to contact."
Leader:"They made the machines. That's what I'm trying to tell you. Meat made the machines."
Commander:"That's ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You're asking me to believe in sentient meat."
Leader:"I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in the sector and they're made out of meat."
Commander:"Maybe they're like the Orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage."
Leader:"Nope. They're born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn't take too long. Do you have any idea the life span of meat?"
Commander:"Spare me. Okay, maybe they're only part meat. You know, like the Weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside."
Leader:"Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads like the Weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They're meat all the way through."
Commander:"No brain?"
Leader:"Oh, there is a brain all right. It's just that the brain is made out of meat!"
Commander:"So... what does the thinking?"
Leader:"You're not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The meat."
Commander:"Thinking meat! You're asking me to believe in thinking meat!"
Leader:"Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you getting the picture?"
Commander:"Omigod. You're serious then. They're made out of meat."
Leader:"Finally, Yes. They are indeed made out of meat. And they've been trying to get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years."
Commander:"So what does the meat have in mind?"
Leader:"First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the universe, contact other sentients, swap ideas and information. The usual."
Commander:"We're supposed to talk to meat?"
Leader:"That's the idea. That's the message they're sending out by radio. 'Hello. Anyone out there? Anyone home?' That sort of thing."
Commander:"They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?"
Leader:"Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat."
Commander:"I thought you just told me they used radio."
Leader:"They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat."
Commander:"Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you advise?"
Leader:"Officially or unofficially?"
Leader:"Officially, we are required to contact, welcome, and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in the quadrant, without prejudice, fear, or favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole thing."
Commander:"I was hoping you would say that."
Leader:"It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact with meat?"
Commander:"I agree one hundred percent. What's there to say?" `Hello, meat. How's it going?' But will this work? How many planets are we dealing with here?"
Leader: "Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but they can't live on them. And being meat, they only travel through C space. Which limits them to the speed of light and makes the possibility of their ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact."
Commander:"So, we just pretend there's no one home in the universe."
Leader:"That's it."
Commander:"Cruel. But you said it yourself, who wants to meet meat? And the ones who have been aboard our vessels, the ones you probed? You're sure they won't remember?"
Leader:"They'll be considered crackpots if they do. We went into their heads and smoothed out their meat so that we're just a dream to them."
Commander:"A dream to meat! How strangely appropriate, that we should be meat's dream."
Leader:"And we can mark this sector unoccupied."
Commander:"Good. Agreed, officially and unofficially. Case closed. Any others? Anyone else interesting on that side of the galaxy?"
Leader:"Yes, a rather shy but sweet hydrogen core cluster intelligence in a class nine star in G445 zone. Was in contact two galactic rotations ago, wants to be friendly again."
Commander:"They always come around."
Leader:"And why not? Imagine how unbearably, how unutterably cold, the universe would be if one were all alone."

I don't know why this one got dredged out of my memory, but I'm sure glad I found it again.

The Other Special Decorations

The other decorations are so special.  Some on the tree this year, so not.  And for reasons.

Of the special ones on the tree, this is among the best.
It was a housewarming present from Mom when I bought my house 28 years ago...  This tiny 3" decoration has my name, and a the mailbox open to suggest receptiveness.  Sometimes, when I don't even have a tree, I dig this one out of the box to set it up on the table.

And it shows up nicely in the dark too...

The ones I haven't used this year are the glass icicles.  I have dozens.  But with the built-in white lights on the tree, it didn't seem to me that they would show up, and I don't like to over-do a tree.  I'll save them for next year with a real tree.

Instead of 1,000 white LED lights, there will be glass, reflecting strings of blue lights.  And after after that, strings of red and green lights.  Its good to have changes.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Decorations Up Close

 It's not your usual tree...

Well, lets see the close-ups of the ones I used this year...  The cardinals always have to be there.  I love Cardinals. 
A general view of one side of the tree.
The bird nests are favorites.  And yes, those are real bird nests.  The eggs are painted wood.  
I love my apples.  They are at least 40 years old. 
I didn't even remember these.   Glass pine cones all covered in glitter!
A view of another side of the tree.
A glass hummingbird.  I have 6 of pairs of colors.  I LOVE those.
And of course, what is a tree without a cat?  This is an old decoration from Mom.  I think there used to be buttons for eyes that got replaced when she (Mom) was young, by ink.  I hope to pass this one (and others) along some day.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Tree

Start To Finish...  And a long one; as someone said, "grab a beverage", LOL...

I was initially discouraged by all the branch and stem and twig adjustments needed.  It sat there with just the base opened for a week (I seem to have lost THAT picture sadly).  I dithered about returning it and buying a real tree, the amount of work to adjust all the ends was daunting, but adding all the lights to a real tree is no great fun either.

It seemed so balanced either way... 
But my earliest jobs required a lot of repetitive work, and I WAS good at that, so I considered managing all those bendy branches from a repetition work point of view.  They were assembled in a way, they must open in a way.  I found a pattern.  The internal branches go "left, right, up, down" just to fill in the background.  Its not like you are going to hang ornaments next to the trunk of the tree.
So I just started spreading the tightly packed stems and twigs.  The instructions said "10 minutes and you have a lovely tree".  HAH, HAH, HAH!  But 3 hours and I did!   just had to actually stnd there and DO IT.  The biggest annoyance and time-waster, was that the outer "new-season" twigs were flat on one side and full on the other, and they were almost always upside down.  Easier for the poor people constructing the trees I assume, but poor quality-control at the end of the production line.  I'll bet I had to turn over 1,000 stem-ends.  But only once.  Next year, I won't have to.

It helped to wear thin "driving gloves".  Those plastic needles can wear on you after a while.

So it was a good-looking tree after all the set-up.  It looks better than I expected, actually.
Then I turned on the built-in LED lights...  WOW!

With camera flash...
With slow-synchro camera flash...
With camera flash OFF.  The lights really shine that way.  And it looks the same with the room lights off.
And decorated!!!   With flash on...
And off...

Hmmm. ..  Didn't notice that one cardinal was fallen over...  Well, everything can't stay perfect.

I love real trees for the smell and reality.  And you don't have to arrange the branches.  And I'm not sure tree farms harm the environment.  They produce oxygen.  And I know one cat who survived under them until finding a Forever Home...

But fake trees have advantages too.  One lasts for a decade or so, they have 1,000s of built-in LED lights, they don't require watering so they are safer.  And in theory, they can fold up "OK" with the branches spread (but folded up, if that makes sense).  Well, let's just say it wouldn't fit back in the box, but it will take up less space than as currently spread out.  All the branches are on hinges.

I always hate to say this, given my general sarcasm to "Martha Stewartism" but this IS a Martha Stewart Tree...  (According to the box and I didn't know that at the time).  All I knew at the time was that it was a pretty realistic-looking fake tree...

But what finally decided me on keeping the one I bought was that the branches are sturdier than real trees and I have a lot of rather heavy ornaments.  Ornaments that I could not keep hung on real trees stay on this one.

But I have a lot of very light ornaments too.  So I think I will alternate between live trees and this one.  Best balance I can make.

Tomorrow, close ups of the decorations...  I forgot to use the macro setting and they were all blurry up close.  So I need to take new pictures.

But the close-ups are great, so tune in tomorow.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Coincidence and Memes...

Its a small world after all.
Ita s small world after all.
Its a small world after all.

Its a small small world.

Now get THAT out of your head...  LOL!

And I was actually there to hear it originally...

The weirdest thing about the trip to the 1964 New York Worlds Fair (I was 14) was that we stopped to have lunch at some exhibit (I want to say "Wisconsin" but don't hold me to it) and there, just several places down these long tables, by utter coincidence, were our neighbors from up the street..

It WAS a small world after all.  According to a display, there were only 175 million Americans at the time.  If I recall correctly (but then, I WAS only 14 and memory is tricky).

And I'm STILL trying to decide whether to keep the artificial tree or buy a real one...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Holiday Tree

I should have known not to buy an artificial Holiday Tree!  I don't like artificial things all that much.  And I didn't even go shopping to get one.  I was at a DIY store to buy furnace filters weeks ago, and there were all these nice-looking artificial trees so nicely decorated.  Two thoughts came to mind.

First, I recalled memories of younger days with the family decorating the tree, and I thought a nice artificial one would be "satisfactory", convenient, and cost-effective over the years.

Secondly, I had had to empty the attic a few months ago to have the attic sealed and additional insulation sprayed in, so I had all these boxes of Holiday decorations stacked up in the cat room.  The decorations were on my list of things to keep or donate.

So I was looking at the trees in the store and thinking of the all the decorations I'd collected over the years and ON IMPULSE I bought an artificial tree.  Impulse purchases are not my habit, but by definition "impulse" is not planned.

I opened the box today, and it was NOT what I expected.  I EXPECTED a box of a dozen or so stacking rings of perfectly formed branches that would be ready to go with a simple plug-in (and me adding special ornaments and my bubble-lights.  Foolish me!

Instead, there are only 3 sections (of branches that DO hinge down, to be fair).  But each branch is as tightly squeezed into a tube-like shape as wrapping paper.  Each individual stem and twig has to be bent out into a realistic shape.  A quick estimate suggested there would be 100 branches of about 20 stems per branch and 20 twigs per branch (= 40,000 if you really do it right).

A sample branch of the middle section took 2 minutes to make look realistic.  So, 2 minutes times 100 branches = 200 minutes (or 3 hours and 20 minutes).  And adding in some time for discomfort caused by handling the prickly plastic needles, hand-cramps from all that bending of stems and twigs, and back-cramps from being bent over and around reaching them, I decided that was more than I wanted to do in order to have a Holiday Tree!

I re-evaluated my concerns over killing live trees.  I guess if I am perfectly willing to have chickens and turkeys raised just for the purpose of being killed for my eating pleasure, I can stand having a real tree grown and cut down for my decorating pleasure.  At least trees just use sunlight and produce oxygen.

Hey, I can rationalize my decisions with the best of them, LOL!

That's IF I get a real cut tree...  I probably will, but it's not definite tonight.  I haven't bought one for a decade, so there may be sticker-shock involved.  I have to think about this.

Its not like there are children or visitors who would see my tree.  But it HAS been years since I decorated and I DO have all the boxes of decorations out of the attic already.  And none of the cats has ever experienced a real tree in the house and that might be interesting.  Skeeter and LC (and the cats who came before) always seemed to enjoy them.

I could justify buying a real tree just for the cats, I suppose...  Hmm, yeah, that could work.  A tree just for the cats.  And they wouldn't mind if I decorated it with cheap plastic ornaments at the bottom where they could reach to whap them.  They'd LIKE that...  I'll put the "good" stuff higher up.

And the birds would like it too.  I used to dig a hole in the backyard to set the tree in after I was done with it inside.  The tree leaves a bare spot under it even when it snows and the birds LOVE picking at the seeds I toss under it.  I had almost forgotten about that.

So, well of course, I'm not buying a live dead tree for ME, I'm doing it for the cats and then the birds.  What could POSSIBLY be more noble?

Oh my goodness!  I better go shopping for a real tree ASAP.  The cats are waiting, and the birds will be happier into the New Year, and the New Year is something to celebrate too...


Friday, December 12, 2014

Men Are From... Camo?

I was shopping at Walmart yesterday.  I had a list.  I shop at Walmart for some brand-name items they happen to sell cheaper (cat litter, non-prescription drugs, vitamins, printer ink, calendars, etc).  I rarely buy anything not on my list (I am a relatively disciplined shopper).

But pushing the cart past the shoe department, I was stopped in my tracks.  I'll try to do a Ron White imitation here (I love his off-beat, low-key style)...*

They Call Me Camo Slippers

"So I was in the Walmart, the other day, and in Maryland, they can't sell liquor, so that was a bit weird.  But the printer ran out off all the ink at the same time, and I needed to print out Holiday cards and the Staples store wasn't open yet.  I'd been up all night destroying the Scrabble bots, and suddenly I felt a need to go buy kitty litter.  Yes, there was wine involved, isn't there always?

So there I was in a Walmart that doesn't sell wine in a State that doesn't allow it, and I carted past the shoe department and put the brakes on the cart.  There were slippers!  Now, I love my feet.  They mostly keep me upright, and with enough wine, that's a good trick!  I appreciate that...

I own a few pairs of slippers.  My favorite ones are the Hobbit slippers.  Bigger footprint - better standing up ability...

But these were CAMO!  I checked my internal inventory list and I was pretty sure I didn't have any camo slippers.  Then I checked my internal inventory list a 2nd time and it agreed with the 1st list.  Internal consistency in wonderful.  Not something that happens all that often for me.

Yep, I didn't have any camo slippers...

I HAD to have a pair.  Now, Walmart usually has only 2 sizes of anything.  XXL and small.  Fortunately, and as my several ex's have commented, "small" is about right for me.  You can argue about size all you want, but you can't fake shoe size and I'm a 7.5 (or an 8 with really thick socks).

Sorting through the 1,000 dozen XXL slippers, I found the 1 pair of small , and tried them on.  Which was rather easy; my favorite type of shoelace is "velcro" and my shoes mostly use those.  You can be too drunk to tie a shoelace but you can't be too drunk to use velcro.  Even a close try works.  It may have been invented for that purpose.  Sure, NASA says it was for astronauts with clumsy gloved hands, but I know better.  The astronauts were sniffing the fuel tanks for a lack of wine...

So I tried them on.  They didn't fit - they were actually too small, and I'm not used to that!  I bought them anyway.  Fortunately, there was paper stuffed in the toes.  Not unlike what I do with my pants personally when I go out to bars.  That can get awkward at times, but usually doesn't alter the course of the evening.

But I bought them because they were CAMO, and "camo" is to guys what "pink" is to women.  It defines us small macho types and suggests what is not really there.  Like pink lipstick, and rouge and all those things the women use to suggest what is not really there.  You KNOW what I mean...

I'm wearing the camo slippers now.  I feel MANLY!

Never mind that I am hardly invisible in the house because of the camo slippers.  You can't be invisible when you are wearing bright green golf pants and a red plaid shirt just because you are wearing camo slippers.  But you can PRETEND to be.  You can THINK you are invisible.  

Let's say a lion has crept into the house.  He knows you are there, SOMEWHERE.  But he can't find you because you are wearing your camo slippers!

So that's when you grab the ever-sharp Ginsu knife and slit its throat!

And THAT'S why I bought the camo slippers..."

* Everything except the camo slippers is completely fictional... 
Everything except the camo slippers is completely fictional...
Everything except the camo slippers is completely fictional...

This started by me wondering why men love camo clothes (and I do) and sort of took on a life of it's own.  And there IS something about camo that men love.  Hope you all enjoyed it... 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Missing Skeeter

TBT:  Today, 6 years ago, my heart cat passed over the Bridge.  His name was Skeeter and he was the best cat I ever had. 

He slept under the covers hppily without dsturbing my sleep, he sat on my lap without feeling heavy, he licked my hand without roughness.  He happily ate whatever I provided (especially tuna), played wand toys any chance I gave, and was a kind and protective big brother to LC who arrived the year after he did.  He protected LC from Mean Old Tinkerbelle. 

He patrolled the yard endlessly to make sure there were no introoders.  He was a dedicated and talented Mouser.  He was always relaxed in in himself, by which, I mean he knew who he was and never had to pretend to be otherwise. 

Skeeter was Skeeter all the way. 

He had a hard start.  I found him in a small local pet shop alone in a cage where the whole store was being beaten apart loudly.  I had gone in looking for a Siamese, I came out with him.  It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

He never quite recovered from the horrible noise and dust of his kittenhood, and I protected him from that all the days of his life.  When LC came along from the same store, he welcomed her.

Skeeter was MY kitty, LC was his...

Skeeter once grew to 16 pounds of mancatly hunter.  I saw him jump once 6' high to catch a sparrow.  He was all muscle!!!

In his last years he lost weight down to 14 then 12 pounds.  He was still a great hunter.  There were fewer voles and mice his years than any years before or since.

In his last year, he lost weight and muscle.  I had never had a cat who lived to 16 before.  The Good Vet explained about kidney failure and we did our best for him his last months.  The vet said he would start to loose balance at the end, but would not be feeling pain, but that I should bring him in at that point. 

"That Point" occurred on December 9, 2008, and I brought him to his final vet visit Dec 10th.

He left my world at 3:45 PM, in my arms, as I told him much I loved him...

I brought his body home and laid it out for LC and Ayla to sniff.  I wanted them to know (as best they could) that he gone, not wandered off.  LC understood, I think.  Ayla was young, but she seemed to understand.  They both sat next to him for a while.  Then the both slowly walked away at the same time.

I brought him out to the spot he had last seemed to enjoy and dug a 2' deep hole for him. 

I love Ayla, Iza, and Marley very much, and I am deeply glad for them.  And I am glad for the ones who came before.  But Skeeter was the first cat who lived his whole life with me and had me send him off to the Bridge. 

His first moment home...
 In his prime, and just look at those fur patterns..

On his last day...
Oh Skeeter, I miss you so much.

You would be proud of the Cat's-Who-Came-After.  Marley keeps the peace as you did.  Iza and Marley are great mousie-hunters.  Ayla remembers you (and LC), and is the great hunter you taught her to be.  Your hunting skills have lived on from one generation to the next...

I just KNOW you and LC are romping through the fields over the Bridge together.  We will meet again one day...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Officially Old

I had another "I'm Officially Old" event today.  I got my shingles shot...

I had been thinking of it for a few years, but I figured I would have it when I visited my regular Dr for an annual physical.  Only I keep not doing that.  The Dr I last visited left the area and I just keep not finding another.

Part of the problem is that I am, as my friends say, "disgustingly healthy".  I haven't had a cold or flu since I was 12.  And even then, while my brother lay sounding like he was dying of flu, I was only mildly annoyed.  I even had to heat the thermometer over the heat vent to get it high enough to stay out of school an extra day.

I only got my first flu shot when Dad was living here in 2012 because I read that you can be infected but not show signs of it yourself, but can infect other, and I didn'r want to kill Dad inadvertantly, so I got a flu shot.

I got it at the local grocery store.  The shot was so good I couldn't even tell he had done it without looking.  The same in Dec 2013.  Dad had moved to an assisted-living facility by then, but I decided I should probably get the annual flu shot for the safety of others. 

So I got the flu shot again this year and probably will each year for the rest of my life.  Not so much for me, but in case I can carry it without symptoms, getting the shot seems socially responsible. 

No pain, $30, no big deal and I get a 10% off coupon for the days shopping.

This year, I got the shingles shot.  Its not covered by my (or darn near any)insurance, but it seems to be something that attacks 1 of 3 people my age who had chicken pox as a child (and I did).  Mom had it and it drove her crazy for weeks several times.  So I sure didn't want to go through that.

I actually felt the shot!  The previous flu shots were nearly undetectable, but I felt the shingles one.  The Pharmacist said it the larger amount of injection.  Well, 1 second of mild "ouch" isn't much to complain about.  It was just that I was surprized.

The Pharmacist insisted on putting bandages over the injection sites "because they bleed.  I told him not to bother because I heal oddly fast.  But he had to according to "the rules".  I took them of as soon as I got home and there wasn't the least drop of blood on them.

They never believe me about not bleeding, but I don't fight about it.  If it makes them happy to put a bandage on, fine.

I probably don't need the flu or shingles shots for myself.  They are both viruses and I seem to be immune to viral  infections and colds.  Maybe I should contact a testing experiment.  I suspect that because I spent 30 years in carpools with young mothers who both had sick kids AND went to work when they were sick themselves. 

If I can't get sick around sick carpool members an hour each way in an enclosed car while the sneeze  (and sometimes did worse), I probably can't get sick.

Not to say something new coming along wouldn't kill me next month...

I think it is genetics.  Ancestors from all over Europe, into North America  (Canada and US and likely some Native American).  Wish I had a bit of Asian ancestry too.  Viruses aren't going to kill me; smoking will...

Bet I catch something awful just because I've mentioned all this...

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Ghost In The Machine

Well, not a ghost of course, but there is a weird harmonic in my heating ducts that is making a disturbing noise...

There's a pattern to it.  The heating comes on about 22 minutes each hour when it is below freezing outside.  A function of the insulation of the house.  About 10 minutes into the heating cycle, this odd sound starts and stops.  Imagine a 1-note C on a wind instrument...

Not that I can tell notes, so imagine any moderate note on a wind...

Its obviously a harmonic in the ducts.  I can feel the vibrations if I stand on a ladder long enough and touch the ducts, but I can't pin down the source.  This isn't the first time either.  Previous years I've wrapped bungee cords around some pipes and ducts and it has stopped for the season. 

But it keeps coming back year after year.  I can't call it "spooky" because I haven't the least sense of superstition, ghosts, etc.  Its just a noise caused by a vibration I can't seem to stop. 

It seldom happens in daytime.  And I would notice it if it did.  You live in a house 28 years and you know every creak and squeak.  But at night (when it is coldest), it starts. 

Slowly, a tiny vibration at first.  Then a little louder.  And longer.  After a few minutes, it is going on for 15-20 seconds.  And a minute later it starts again.  Stronger and Stronger until it sounds like a trash truck driving by, but its not, and then the demon in the ducts stops suddenly.

I was up 3 times last night trying to figure out the cause.  It eludes me.  I can feel the vibrations anywhere I tough, but that stops it.  For a few minutes. 

I'm making light of this, but it really is driving me nuts and waking me up at night.  And I sleep poorly enough as it is.  It even got into my dreams...

Anyone had this problem, have any ideas on how to stop it?  I'm thinking of removing all the existing rubber straps that have "solved" the problem before.  Maybe if it gets worse, it will be easier to identify the real source...

And, BTW, I'm "pretty sure" I'm not insane...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day 2014

I'm thankful for a lot of stuff, but I mention those things as they happen.  Today was TURKEY DAY!  I often don't bother cooking a turkey, for several reasons:

1.  I assume a standing invitation to visit my sister for Thanksgiving day.  Sometimes I visit, but 2 hours driving each way is a lot for me (I hate driving at all) and I especially hate holiday traffic on crowded interstate highways like we have here. 

2.  I used to cook Thanksgiving Dinner for all my single friends, but over the years, they have gotten married, left the area, or gradually faded away.  It was a habit from when I had apartment roommates for whom a TV dinner was a challenge.

3.  The smallest whole turkey is about 10-11 lbs and that's too much for 1 person (even with 3 cats)

4.  A turkey breast is smaller, but white meat is not my favorite.

5.  I prefer the dark meat, but turkey thighs cost $5 a pound this year and chicken thighs (my most regular meat) is only $1.29  and turkey isn't much different from chicken.

But I decided to go for a turkey this year.  Partly, I wanted to hickory-smoke a whole turkey, just because I hadn't for years, and partly just to fully participate in a holiday for a change.  So I had the frozen turkey all thawed in the fridge for 4 days, brined it overnight; and injected it with a mixture of apple juice, cinnamon and spices. 

Most of the smoke gets in meat during the first couple hours so I did 2 hours and then let the briquets die down til it was 200F in the smoker and transferred the turkey to the pre-heated 250F oven.  It was slow...  But I wasn't on a schedule, so "whenever done, its done". 

I did it a bit fancy for just me after that.  Baked brussel sprouts with grated nutmeg, asparagus with grated cheese and melted butter, small potatoes, a nice tossed salad, gravy, and a can of "sweet potatoes in syrup".  Zinfandel wine.

Well, one bite of the canned sweet potatoes in syrup and that went straight to the compost bin.  YUCK!  The rest was good.  Well, the packaged gravy was salty.  I had it sitting around for years so decided to use it.  I make it better myself.  The brussels sprouts were good, the new potatoes (home-grown) were good, and I always love a tossed salad with italian dressing.

The turkey was PERFECT!  Probably the best I've done.  The smokiness was just right, the brine kept even the breast meat moist, and the injected flavors were just right.  I am convinced that 2-3 hours of smoking outdoors and finishing up in the oven at 250 is the way to go.  And I do that thing of cooking it breast side up half way and turning it breast down the remaining half.  It makes a difference.  "Breast side down" the last half of cooking keeps the breast moistened by thigh meat fats dripping down the sides.

To be fair, the 450F oven cooking for 30 minutes and then lowering the temp to 350 works pretty good too and I've usually done that for faster cooking (and more reliable timing), but the slow-cooking is best.

I don't set out a whole table display (its just me), so there isn't much to show, but the turkey had a beautiful mahogany skin, so I have a picture of that. 
I hope all of you who went the turkey path today had great dinners too.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Little Computer And Some Garden Problems

COMPUTER:  Well, first, I KNEW everything wouldn't be perfect on the new old laptop.  The thrill of connectivity deceived me.  Oh, it's not terrible news, but the "M" key came loose right away, and my reader list keeps disappearing from the sidebar.  It sticks on the desktop but not the laptop.  I'm sure I'll find out how to stick it permanently, but haven't so far. 

And there are other annoying problems.  I'm sure most can be fixed, but some may just be part of using a laptop.  I was expecting that since I was only using the laptop for reading blogs (at the moment), what did I care about security?  There's nothing ON the laptop.  But then I started getting unending, nearly constant ads.  It was like "Whack-A-Mole"!  Close one, another pops up.  I went 15 minutes doing nothing but closing ads at one point, and even closing some of them seems to have generated some email responses to the ads even though I don't have any email set up tat I know about.  Probably some basic gmail embedded in the computer.

I went into the system preferences and made some adjustments which reduced the ads but haven't eliminated them.  I was hoping not to have to buy MacKeeper for the laptop (it can prevent pop-up ads among other things.  I may find free software that does that.  Apparently, I'm going to have to compare files on my desktop to the laptop, see what I can copy over, and maybe buy some simple versions of other software.

If anyone has Mac desktop and laptop equipment and some of those things sound familiar, please drop me an email with any useful advise, please!  Reattaching the "M" key is actually a priority, but the other long term stuff is more vital.

GARDEN:  We had an unusual 70+ day today, so I set about constructing the 5th of 6 framed beds.  I thought it would go fast, but NOOOOO....

I mostly have to laugh at all the surprises a project can offer.  Well, it doesn't help to complain.  Not that I don't both laugh AND swear sometimes.

I got out in the garden at 1:30.  First, I had to carry the precut boards  (by me, not the Home Depot guy after the first bad experience).  I carried one out to the garden, then decided to try using the dolly to carry 2 at a time.  Didn't work, they were too tall and awkward.  So I carried them all out one at a time.  2"x8"x7' preservative-treated boards are heavy, but on my shoulder one-at-a-time worked.  That part was fairly expected.

So the 5th frame was to go 2' from the last and since there had been old beds there before (full of good soil), I only shoveled soil enough to lay down the new boards (different sizes from the old and 90 degrees in rotation).

Dragged out all the usual tools from the shed, connected the 150' of electrical cord, set up the radio on Classical, and started to dig some trenches where the new frame would set level.  There are invading vines from a neighbor, and I have been digging them out as I go.  Dig, pull, toss, dig, pull, toss...  Only one looked odd out of the corner of my eye, so I looked at it.  A poison ivy plant!  Sure, why not?  I haven't seen a poison ivy plant in the garden for several years and I was holding it in my bare hands.  Might as well find one now. 

So I dropped it in a remote corner where it could die peacefully and went into the house at once to wash my hand.  Holding the hand up so that I wouldn't touch anything in the house with it, I got safely to the bathroom and washed with soap for 5 minutes (hurray for pump soap).  Then I washed again with rubbing alcohol.  If I'm not complaining of poison ivy in 5 days, you'll know it worked.

So I was back out at the garden and set out the corners for the 5th bed.  Which meant clamping a long straight board to the end on the previous bed so that they all stay even with each other.  Naturally, I had brought the small clamps back to the house for a different project, so back to the house I went.  That 150' of walking back and forth adds up!  So I clamped the "straight-edge board" and set some corner bricks to support the lower lever of the frame.  Yes, I've developed a routine after the first 4 beds.  Experience accumulates.

The distance to the far end of the 5th bed was farther than I eyeballed it, so I had to rip out more of the old frame boards and dig off more old garden soil into the existing beds than I had expected.  More time gone.  And then I hit a 3" tree root from my neighbor's junk trees.  And I mean "junk".  He just let whatever grew, grow.  None of them are good trees, just invasive ones that grow thickly and unhealthfully.  Someday, I may ask him if we can just cut them down and plant nicer smaller ones like dogwoods and crabapples or whatever he likes.

But it meant I had to find my ax to cut the invasive root, which was back in the house, of course (for a perfectly good reason).  Then I remembered that the ax was a bit dull, so I had to sharpen it.  And the bench grinder on a stand was behind a bunch of stuff moved when the insulation guys worked in the basement, and by the time I got access to it and sharpened the ax to "OK" that was another quarter hour gone.  And of course, the root was loose in the ground so chopping it with the ax took some time.

An hour and a half and I still hadn't gotten the first board in place for the 5th bed...  I used some bad words.

But I was finally able to start with the frame.  Previous frames, I leveled first and constructed later.  I tried constructing first this time.  If you place bricks angled at all the corners, you can get all the board corners to match.  That worked pretty well.  I got the lower layer of the frame attached in only 30 minutes.  That sounds long, but I am obsessed with getting all the corners matching as perfectly as possible.  These beds should last 20 years and I'll be looking at them a lot, so why not go for the best appearance?

To construct each layer of the framed bed, I set the long boards on a brick at the corners.  The brick also holds the short end boards at the same level.  After that, I can use long clamps to loosely hold the 4 boards together.  After that, I tap the boards until the square ends match up.  Sometimes the boards are not exactly the same width, so I wedge one up to match the next.  I used little twigs on the first few beds but realized the axe blade was very good for that.

I have 2 drills for the project.  One is a standard electric drill for drilling pilot holes for the long screws that go though both boards at the corner.  The second drill is a cordless drill with a screw setting (has a slower speed and a torque control to not overdrive the screws in).  But most importantly, it means I don't have to keep changing the drill bit for the screwdriver bit.  And I'm using lubricated star-drive screws designed for preservative-treated boards.  Those resist the P-T board chemicals AND go in easier.  They are worth the very slight extra cost.

I got the lowever level of the framed bed finished and saw bad news.  The sun was on the horizon!  It was only 4:15!  But my horizon is not flat horizon.  The land slopes up radically on my west side.  But I had all the tools out, the 2nd level of boards ready, and I wanted to finish the 2nd level today.  It supposed to rain tomorrow and get colder.

And wouldn't you know it, my box of screws was empty.  Back to the house...  I thought, and correctly, that I had another box of them "somewhere".  Took only 15 minutes to find them.  Yes, they were in an obvious place, but not obvious to ME today...  LOL!

So back outside in the fading light.  Fortunately, the 2nd level of boards is WAY easier than the first.  And I found a few quick tips to make that easier.  I had used a square piece of 4"x4" to establish square corners on the first couple of 4' wide framed beds.  I found that using 4" bar clamps on the 3' wide 3rd and 4th beds was easier.  I tightened them loosely, tapped all the corners flush, then tightened the claps more and drilled the holes.  Worked great. 

Except the 5th and 6th beds (like the 1st and 2nd beds) are actually 4'3" wide and the 4" clamps are JUST too short.  Well, guess what, you can hook 2 clamps together!  So I attached a 4' clamp and a 12" clamp across the beds at both ends and locked all the corners tight after making them flush in all directions*

After that, and with the sun over the local elevated horizon, I got the last of the screws in!  The framed bed isn't complete.  The 2 levels are not attached to each other.  I uses a 1"x6"x6' P-T board for THAT.  I attach it on the inside of the long boards.  Half the width above the seam between the frame boards and screw it on.  Then attaching screws in that 1" board below, draws the 2 levels together beautifully!

Tomorrow isn't going to be as nice as today.  50 degrees vs 75.  But 50 is OK  I might get the last  LAST, LAST LAST framed built finished tomorrow.  If it doesn't rain...

So close to the end, and chasing the decent weather to the finish, LOL!

But you know, if there weren't surprises all the time in a project, it probably wouldn't be worth writing about it.    Seriously, how exciting would it be to just write "I built 6 framed beds this year"?

* I still had to tap boards around in all the corners until the matched up evenly horizontally AND vertically.  THEN I tightened the clamps hard and drilled pilot holes for the screws.

Pictures in a few days when I finish...

Friday, November 21, 2014


I KNEW it wouldn't be easy gettig a laptop to just connect to the wireless router,.  The laptop asks questions I can't answer.  Verizon said it would just ask for a "SSID and a "WEP KEY".  Yeah, ROTFLMAO!  Worse, it offers options I don't understand.  Even WORSE. I think it is offerring me connections to all the neighborss' wi-fi  (and one is either very innocent or downright dirty).  I don't want to know that stuff.

But I can't get the laptop  working and I used up the battery earlier, so it is charging again (and I'll leave it connected).  I'll call Apple after it is charged.  I think I know the right details for Verizon.  Its the laptop questions I need help with. 

This is why I didn't do this before.  Any two pieces of computer equipment do NOT want to talk to each other...  And I'll mention again  MY BAD LUCK on minor things like this...

Need to do live chat with Apple and that typing kills me.  I bet they tell me to talk to Verizon.  That  makes me the bouncing ball between the two of them...


UPDATE!  With the hour-long struggle with the Verizon tech help (as opposed to the USELESS TWO hours of non-help from Apple)  we have achieved LAPTOPNESS!  I have to say that no matter what the problem and whether it was actually a Verizon issue or not they have helped me through thick and thin.  And yes it is 11:30 AM here and I've been up ALL NIGHT again, struggling with computer challenges , but it was worth it (as it usually is when successful)!

And I have to say my $200 cheapo refurbished MacPro 13" laptop is acting SUPERBIO-PRIMO!

The next comments you get are going to be laptomese and I think The Mews will love it too!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A New Piece Of Equipment

Well, having a desktop computer being my single piece of high tech equipment since my first Commodore computer in 1983, I have LEAPED into the 21st century!

I now have a cheap refurbished 13" screen Mac Laptop.  Its cosmetic condition is way better than promised by the seller (on  It's sole intended purpose is to visit my (and the Mews) blogging friends.  I figure we can visit our friends on a more regular and timely basis if we have a laptop out in the main part of the house.

I talked to my ISP and confirmed that my existing router should accept a signal from the laptop, and I have the information they SAY is sufficient to connect.  It is charging now, and I will see what happens tomorrow.

According to the seller, I have 30 days to decide if I like it, but I should know on the first day.  It was cheap enough to give it a try without much concern.  Security is no concern, as it won't actually have any information on it.  I mean, it has a good basic set of software, but I won't be keeping any files on it.  If I understand correctly, just reading blogs and not even email won't leave anything to be read except my blog-visiting history, and I can't see what good that would do anyone (though I will add firewalls and such anyway if they aren't already on there).

I do think I want to download a manual for it (wasn't included) to see what I can do with it (or should not do with it for security reasons).  It's portable of course, but I don't plan to use it that way.  I just wanted a remote station to read blogs and possibly browse during TV commercials.  It won't have connectivity to my desktop computer (I will check on that because I don't currently WANT it to).  Mostly, I need to start with one feature and see how that works. 

It seems a reasonable good deal for $200.  The keyboard isn't full size, but it is close.  And I bought a cheap wireless mouse  to go with it.  I typed on it a bit before I started to charge it up and I'll have to be a bit careful.  But its not like I would have to use  it for extensive typing.

And who knows, maybe  this will get me into more of a wireless world.  Which is a bit ironic, because from 1988 to 2006, I was the Telecommunications Manager at a Federal Agency overseeing policy and operations for all the landline and wireless voice services, yet never used any of the wireless stuff myself.

Looking forward to the powered-up laptop access tomorrow!

Monday, November 17, 2014


Thank you, The Washington football team, for being so embarrassed by the lowly Tampa Bay Bucanneers.  Now I don't have to even THINK about watching the homie team for the rest of the year...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fun With Lumber

Or I could title this "I have bad luck on minor things"!  I went out and bought the lumber I needed for the remaining 2 framed garden beds a few days ago.  Back at home, I decided to back the trailer up to the garage so I wouldn't have to carry the heavy preservative-treated wood from the far corner of the front yard where I store the trailer.

I'm sure anyone who has some experience in backing things up with a car knows that the longer the hitched item is, the easier it is to back up because the directions don't change as quickly as with short items.  Well, my trailer is only 8' long, and I couldn't even see it in the rear view mirror, or by opening the front car door and looking out.  I finally had to go in the garage and clamp a board upright in both rear corners of the trailer.  I think I will attach a couple of small flags on dowels attached to the trailer corners!

But I got the twelve 8'x2"x8" boards unloaded into the garage and the trailer put off into the yard corner.  Today, I set about cutting them to size.  The preservative lumber is odd.  They are not a full 2" thick or 8" wide, but thy ARE longer than 8'!  Perhaps that is so the poorly-cut ends can be recut better.

Anyway, I needed most of the boards cut to 7' long, so it didn't really matter.  Except the few end boards which I wanted to cut into two 4' long boards.  Still, the extra length made that not a problem.  I carefully measured each board's length before I made any cuts, and they were all 8'1" long.  Perfect.

Except one board.  Which I failed to measure.  Which was one of the few boards I chose for the two 4' pieces...  So I got a 4' board and a 3'10" board, which just won't make a rectangular framed bed!

Think about it.  For 8 of the boards, it didn't matter (they were getting cut to 7').  For 3 of the remaining 4 boards, I measured (and they were all at 8'1").  The ONE board I didn't remember to measure NEEDED to be 8'1" so that I could square the ends with good smooth cuts.

So the ONE short board had a 1/3 chance of being among the 4 boards that HAD to be over 8' long AND a 1/12 chance of being the only board I didn't measure.  Giving a 1/36 chance THAT board was the only one I didn't measure AND was too short.  Which means that, with 36 sets of identical boards, I would have NOT had a problem 35 times and a problem only once...  And I managed to achieve that "1 in 36 times event".

I have the worst luck with minor things!!!

So now I have to go back to buy 1 board.  Grumble, grumble, grumble...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Random Successes

1.  Got the 4th of 6 framed beds completed.  Next job is to fill them halfway with existing soil from where the 5th and 6th of 6 beds will go.  Today is about the last decent day to work outside for a while, so I better take advantage of it.

2.  Accumulating more stuff in the basement to have Salvation Army pick up.  It sometimes seems everywhere I look there is more stuff I really don't need.  Some of it is so odd I am labeling it. 

3.  The new trash pickup service is great!  The fact that they provide company-labeled trash bins is a great improvement.  With the labeled bin, they don't forget me if I only have enough trash to tput out once a month.  If they see their bin, they empty it.

4.  The strong winds this month have been a benefit.  Usually, the basket oak trees hold on to the leaves until January.  But they are almost all fallen now.   I can mow over them several passes with the riding mower until they are all mulched into the lawn.  What falls from the trees seeps into the yard to feed the trees.  And the grass.

5.  Getting ready to have the tub tiles replaced.  After 28 years, they are coming loose around the faucet.  I should have been aware that there was a problem, but some things happen so grdually, you don't notice.

6.  And as long as I have some tile work done in the bathroom, I might as well fulfill a minor design fantasy.  I always loved Rachel Ray's green tiled kitchen.  I think I will duplicate that.  I do love green.

7.  Dug up 4 Basil plants before the freezes hit.  Will keep them in the south-facing window so I can pick some leaves all Winter,  I hope.

8.  Have 3 planter-boxes of Meslun, Leaf lettuce, and Head lettuce.  Hoping for routine salad improvements all Winter.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

I am not a veteran.  I came of that age during the Vietnam War and I was against that war.  In my 2nd year of college, the draft lottery started.  I gave up my college deferment and took my chance.

My number was something like 254.  They didn't reach that number and I was free of the draft after that.

I will not say that upset me.  I thought the war was dumb.  But I did not think less of those who did serve.  Had my number been called, I would have served (reluctantly).

My father was rejected for service in WWII for heart reasons.  I had many uncles who did serve and valiantly.  Most of them thought the Vietnam war was idiotic.

I sometimes wonder how differently my life would have gone had my Vietnam number been called.  I wouldn't have been a great soldier.  I abhor militaristic hierarchy.  But I would have done my best.  I would probably have been killed, because I do have a sense of getting out in front of situations.  But my number wasn't called and I am here today.  Some people I knew in college surely aren't.

Everyone has a view of how to live and what to die for.  I didn't choose to risk mine in Vietnam.  But I have no doubt that I would risk it to push someone out of the path of a speeding truck or in stopping a fight.  Its all where you decide you would risk death.

I thank those who decide to risk theirs and serve in war.  To each their own...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Energy Use After New Insulation and Other Stuff

1.  Energy Usage After New Insulation:

One month does not prove anything much, but my first post-insulation project usage for October shows that my Oct 2013 usage was 1326 "some unit" and the Oct 2014 usage was only 973.  It is promising, but weather in one month can be different one year to the next.  I'll wait to see the next few bills.

But it does look good.

2.  The framed raised garden beds are progressing.  3 of 6 completed and the boards for the 4th are all cut.  Now that I have the process of building them routinely, the 4th will be easier than the first.  And I am set to buy the lumber for the 5th and( last) 6th  any day the weather is "OK".

3.  I'm continuing to accumulate a pile of donatable items in the basement.  Its not the "usual stuff".  Today I cleaned out the top shelf of the pantry.  Anyone have  a bamboo multi-layer chinese steamer?  I do, and I haven't used it in 20 years.  Onto the pile it goes.  I hope the Salvation Army knows what it is.  LOL!  I keep holding off calling Salvation Army for a pickup because I keep finding new stuff to add to the pile.  I wonder what they will do with a 4" lens refraction telescope, for example.  But that's their problem/good luck.

4.  I'm loving the new trash pickup!  I got rid of 12 bags of kitty litter last Friday and 10 today.  They say they don't accept "lumber", but I have a barrelful of scrap ends, and so far as I can tell watching them mechanically lift and dump the dedicated container they provided, they can't see what is in it.  I can keep cutting the trash lumber into 6" pieces and put them in bags all month until is is all gone.  It sure will be nice to not have to drive to the landfill this winter!  And I have a lot more junk to get rid of.  I'll fit it it into the dedicated Evergreen container even if I need a sledgehammer to break it up.  And I'm not trashing any recyclable or compostable stuff.

5.  Last night was the first hard freeze here.  I dug up 4 Basil plants to try to keep them growing inside on the south window.  Picked the last tomatoes too.  A few were at orange, so they might ripen.  For the others, I will look up "fried green tomatoes".

6.  Got out my 3 window box planters tonight.  I can get some fancy mesclun lettuce from them over the winter,  I have just enough potting soil left from last Spring to fill them.

7.  The lowering sun this time of year is now blasting my eyes through the kitchen window.  I found a tension rod to fit across the window and a valance to hang just low enough to prevent the glare as I make my lunch.  28 years and I'm finally getting around to doing that!  I had a choice of 2 valances.  One white lacey and one red.  I chose the red; white lace isn't quite my style.  Red doesn't fit the white wall and black appliance colors, but who cares.  The cats won't complain.  I've been considering having the kitchen tiled in various shades of 4" green and painting the rest of the kitchen celery.  Maybe I'll hang a little label on the red valance "annoying red dissonance".  LOL! 

Actually, I like red/green/black as a color scheme.  My living room is hunter green, the TV room (traditionally the dining room) is dark red, and all the other stuff is black except for the medium wood furniture.  Oh well, I never expected to be displayed in "House Beautiful".  I like what I like.

8.  Next indoor project is to arrange the planting area.  Everything since Spring has just been piled into the grow-light shelves.  Since growing season starts indoors here in 2 months, I better get started on that soon.  Or I'll need to do it fast the day I want to start planting.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Blogblast For Peace, Elections

Can't help it, I just love this one...


I can't forget US election day, though.  I won't try to suggest who to vote for anywhere.   But things have been improving since the Great Recession of the middle 2000s, we are out of 2 unilateral wars, and back into building alliances (as difficult and slow as that can be). 

Mostly, though, I just want to say:  VOTE!

Since my first vote in 1972, I have only missed voting in one Presidential or Mid-Term or Primary election.  I skipped the presidential election in 1980 because I couldn't stand either Jimmy Carter OR Ronald Reagan and supported John Anderson.  And with the long lines and the hopelessness of his chances, I just stayed home.  I regret that.

Voting is precious.  If you don't vote, don't complain about the results...


Monday, November 3, 2014

Waterbed Management

I sleep on a King Size waterbed.  Lots of room for me and the Mews.  And Marley slept the entire night under the blankets at my side last night.

Did you know that water escapes a big thick plastic waterbed mattress?  Yeah, me neither!  It happens very slowly, and I suppose few people have a waterbed undisturbed for 28 years.  I'm guessing some random breakdown of water into hydrogen and oxygen (there was a big air bubble in the mattress), some very gradual escape (even plastic/rubber isn't 100% impermeable forever,and "something else" (its always wise to cover all possibilities, LOL!).  But over 20 yeras, the water in the waterbed had lessened,

SO...  I hauled a garden hose into the house.  I kept the connector to the waterbed all these years (I've had this waterbed mattress for 38 years - talk about a good deal).  Well, the waterbed frame has drawers below it, so it just sat patiently in there waiting to be used again after the 28 years since I moved here.

The hose in through the bathroom window...
The window...
Outside the window...
Hose from the stand...
Looped over the holder...
Inside.  The blue thing screws onto the waterbed fill at the long end.  There is a black hose valve so I can start the waterflow from inside the house...
And finally, towels around the waterbed fill connection.  There is always some leakage as it is detached.

So I connected the garden hose to the waterbed mattress connector and turned it on full blast.  For . 10. Minutes.

That's a lot of water.  The mattress is twice as thick as it was before.  Now you have to understand that the incoming water is cold.  I hope the Very Small Heater can warm it up enough by the time I go to bed.  A cold waterbed mattress can suck the warmth right out of you even through several blankets.

But oh is it going to be nice tonight!  It had gotten to the point where, when I turned over, my knees hit the support frame below the mattress.  That sure won't happen for ANOTHER 20 years, LOL!  And honestly, in another 20 years I doubt I'll notice.  Or I'll have to do it again!

Update,  it warmed up nicely.  I slept like a good baby and I haven't done that for a while.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Garden Enclosure Again

Got back to work on the framed beds.  Bought twelve 2"x8"x8' pressure-treated boards yesterday morning and cut up half of them in the afternoon.  Half because I bought boards for 2 beds and decided to do them one at a time.

First, I discovered why the first set of boards I bought a few weeks ago for the first 2 beds were hard to get squared in construction.  I had the store staff cut them on their huge fancy saw.  Silly me!  I assumed the boards were the lengths the labels said (like 8' long).  The length didnt matter for the long sides of the beds, but it did for the widths because I simply said "ct them in half". 

"Half" isn't a measurement...

Only after constructing the first 2 beds did I realize that all the boards were not equal.  Not exactly a functional disaster for a garden bed, but it vaguely offended me.  I should have been forewarned by the very surly male store person who was talking to the female cashiers when I made him do some work.

So this time I simply took all the boards home to cut myself.  It was a revelation!  The boards varied in length from barely 8' to 8' 1"!!!  End the ends were NOT square by as much as 1/4" over the widt.  No WONDER I had had so much trouble getting the first set to match up square!

I have a radial saw to cut long boards to length easily.  I have a good table saw too, but you can't slide an 8' board on it.  Radial saws work best for that.  So first, I measured a board and found it was long and not square at the end.

I have it next to an 8' workbench at the same level height, so I can handle 10' long boards.  The radial saw is great for long boards because the saw moves, not the long boards.  I bought it when I built the fence because I had to cut about 1500 long boards (yes 1500) for that project.  It paid for itself just for that and I've probably cut almost as many more since then.

But back to the odd lengths and unsquareness of the boards...  I first shaved 1/4" off one end of each, then stacked them to the side.  When all were done, I clamped down a board at 8' from the saw blade (as a positive "stop"" and cut them to exact length.  Perfect length and all square ends!

Two of the 8' boards were WAY heavier than the others (I could barely lift them), so I kept them aside to cut into the smaller widths for the bed ends of 3'.  Like the longer boards, I shaved off the ends to get them squared.

Nothing ever works out as planned.  I set up another positive stop (meaning a clamped board away from the saw blade an exact repeatable distance).  And clamped the board against the saw fence so that there could be NO errors.

There was an error on the very first one.  I screamed in frustration!!!  How could it have been wrong?  Oops, the edges of preservative treated lumber are not "perfectly" straight along the long edges.  I had chosen the straightest ones I could find, but flat straight ones vary along their length.  So, as I kept adjusting the clamping to get them as straight as possible, the board slipped away 1/4 inch from the positive stop...

You can't win sometimes!  So this bed isn't 8' long; it is 7' 11 and 3/4" long.  *sigh*  It why I don't try to build furniture.  I'm cursed with minor errors.  OK, in the garden framed beds, it doesn't really matter much.  But it still ticks me off!

So, this early afternoon, I went out to construct the 3rd bed.  I have the digging routine down pat.  The yard is sloped, so I have to dig a trench for each bed to make it level.  I set the lower end of the long boards on a brick and raise it until it is level.  Then I dig down the upper end by that much.  It works.  Then I level the end board and clamp the long boards to it.

Making the end board fit even with the long boards, I drive in three 3" screws on each side, then raise the other narrow end up onto a board to keep them even.  Drive three 3" screws into each side there.  Then remove the support boards and settle the completed frame into the shallow trench.

If it isn't level, I lift the frame and push dirt under it until it is level.  Not usually required, but I did have to once.  Then I make sure the frame is really square.  You do that by measuring both opposite corners.  When I tap them a bit so the opposite dimensions are the same, I know it is really square.

It started to rain slightly after I got the first layer of frame for the 3rd frame in place this afternoon, so I had to stop and put all the tools away.  But at least that was done.  Putting the 2nd layer of boards on the top of the 1st level is always easy.  You just match the tops to the bottoms.

I cut a scrap board into two 2' pieces to space the beds apart for walkable/wheelbarrowable paths.  The upper left is the bottom of newer box...

But the rain stopped.  I didn't want to haul all the tools out of the shed in case the rain started again, but I did have time to haul all the boards for the 4th bed out of the trailer and into the garage.  At least I know how to do the cutting better than the first time, LOL!

That will be tomorrow's start.