email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Monday, November 28, 2016

Got Stuff Done

Its been a working week. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Experience is wonderful!

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

Sunday, November 20, 2016

New Camera

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

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

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

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


Friday, November 18, 2016

Getting Busy Again, Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Getting Busy Again, Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Getting Busy Again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 out of 3 ain't bad!  

Tomorrow:  Two errands in one trip!

Monday, November 14, 2016

While I Was Gone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 12, 2016

I'm Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We just don't know yet.

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2016



President Donald Trump

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

President Donald Trump.

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

Something is very very wrong here...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I can't do "nothing". 

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

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

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

Election Results

I am ashamed more than I ever thought I could be.  I never thought it possible that such a person as Donald Trump could lead our nation.  I have disliked some elected presidents, like George Bush the Shrub, as being an embarrassment.

Trump goes beyond all bounds of decency and obvious leadership failure.

Which means my fellow citizens are failing in the basic requirements of choosing leaders who have ANY basic leadership skills. 

The next 4 years, and maybe 8, are going to be a period of utter insanity and inanity in the US.  I won't accept the guilt.  I tried in many discussions and discussion boards to warn my fellow citizens about his insanity.  I failed. 

Apparently, the majority of Americans are very angry about the world.  That is not a good thing for the world.   Anger combined with power is very very bad. 

I sort of saw it coming, but I didn't see it coming so fast.  America is breaking up.  I was hoping I would die of old age before it happened. 

I am considering leaving the US.  I want to live in a more liberal and peaceful place.  Another option is to move to where I can basically go "off the grid" locally. 

I'm retired, I get an annuity, I have savings.  I could simply ignore almost anything Trump could do.

I bet Canada, Australia, and England are getting a lot of questions today about immigration requirements.   I never thought it would come to this.

The "Pax America" is over.  

I am reminded that through history, the people who dare to leave a failing place are the smartest ones.  They take chances in better places.  I'm not sure that makes sense to me at 66.  But I'm giving it real thought.

I have a few months to decide what to do.  But I don't expect to be blogging like I used to.  My heart isn't in it.  The idea of not wanting to be part of my country again is too distressing.  A country of people who want a leader like Trump is not a place I want to be.

Election Results

I am withdrawing from posting for a while.  I do not respect the majority of my fellow citizens.  I have to think about this.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


So much trouble...

Walked in and went directly to the registration desk.  30 seconds...

Went directly to the ballot desk.  15 seconds...

Went directly to a voting booth.  Filled in  some circles, 60 seconds...

Went directly to a scanner which read and stored my ballot.  10 seconds...

Received my "I Voted"sticker, 5 seconds...

Total time spent voting, 2:00 minutes...

I could have almost held my breath the entire time!

UPDATE 3pm:  I voted at about 1pm today, ran some minor errends, and went home.  Where I did some minor yardwork.  That was mostly laying traps for the last generation of mosquitoes for the year.  I set out a bucket of water in some shrubs last week and checked it every day to see if there were larvae.  

There were some today, so I dumped THEM on the ground to die and set out 6 small inviting containers  nestled down into groundplants and sprinkled some mosquito bT into each one  with some water.  This bT is a bacteria that specifically attacks moqsuito larvae.  If you see anything called "mosquito doughnuts, that's the stuff.  It is about 100% effective.  Used at the very end of the year, it REALLY cuts down on their start next year.

Update 6pm:  There won't be any election information for an hour, so I made dinner.  Full of nervous energy, I did too much cooking.  I cooked a 1.5" Del Monico steak, corn on the cob, a potato that I fried in the steak fat, a tossed salad in 1,000 island dressing, stir-fried mushrooms and onion and red bell pepper, and some fresh spinach.  Too much to eat for me, but half of everything was fine.  The rest tomorrow.  

Whenever I'm not sure what to do, I cook.  Some people clean, others read, I cook.

Update 10pm:  The election results are too close to be predictive.  CNN breathlessly announced that Trump was leading Clinton in North Carolina - with 1% of the vote in.  That is both utterly meaningless AND maddening.  I turned the TV OFF!  I will wait to see meaningful results later.  

I did some USEFUL work finding out what self-propelled surface-level brushcutters cost to rent for a day at the local Home Depot (only $94 per day) and confirmed that they have at least one to rent.  

I also have a serious gas roto-tiller and a mower than won't start, so I checked on the most likely problems and how to fix them.  Basically, I suspect the problem is old gas.  I haven't used either in several years.  That is "medium" easy to fix.  

Take a couple parts loose and spray the cleaner in usually does it.   And if it doesn't solve the problem, there is a local repair shop that does good work.  I have a trailer to deliver them.  

Meanwhile, I would still prefer to hire someone to do the brushcutting and debris removal (especially because they are mostly brambles and briars).  I'll accept any reasonable quote.  But it is good to know what the actual equipment cost is.  $94 per day rental is a LOT lower than what I expected.  

Update 12:30am.  I am horrified.  It looks like Trump might win.  I do not comprehend this.  Fortunately, there are some uncertain States to go.  It was just reported that Canada is postponing immigration requests from US citizens.  So they don't make rash decisions, I suppose.  Good idea.

Personally. I'm not sure what I would do if Trump wins.  More about that if it happens.

Monday, November 7, 2016

3rd Yardwork Project

The other major thing I want to do this Fall is move the surviving fancy hostas from the open front yard to the fenced back yard where the deer can't get at them.

The fancier they are, the more the deer seem to like them.  The good ones are marked with landscaping flags.  So where the impatiens and coleus have grown this year, there will be the best hostas.  The others will go into a 50'x6' long bed where there are some empty spots over the years.

I will be moving the numerous Japanese Painted Ferns all around after the far back yard gets cleared of blackberries in a week or two..  They seem to like it here and spread well.

The place where the fancier hostas will go is a framed area around my sunken patio.  And there is a reason.  I was in a carpool for years that met at a spot where hostas were up at stomach level.  I loved the effect.  I am replicating it.

Most will be Captain Kirk and June
Image 1

With Blue Cadet

 And small gold drop all around.

The deer DON'T seem to like the large rough-leaved 'Sum and Substance' and 'Big Daddy' hostas.  So I will be dividing them and filling the spaces in the front where I am taking out the other hostas.

I prefer to deter them from eating my plants passively.  But I will set up a motion-detector strobe light to drive them away.  And if that doesn't work. I can sit quietly in a blind in the corner of my yard with a crossbow.  Deer need to relearn to be afraid of humans again.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

2nd Yardwork Project

The next most important project is the bulb bed.  It is a 20' diameter edged circle.  I planted 100 tulips there in wire cages (to protect them from voles) last year.  They looked great this Spring.  I also had 200 daffodils of 2 varieties (one early and one late).  Voles don't bother daffs, so that was just drilling holes with an auger and setting them in.

I ordered more daffs for this year.  50 more each of the existing ones and 150 of a different one for the unused space in the circle.

I should have marked the space where the existing daffs were planted.  Well, you know, you think you won't forget exactly where they are but you do.  I have pictures, so I should be able to guess pretty well where to plant more of the same ones safely.  And where I can start planting the new ones next to them.  I HOPE, LOL!

But over the Summer, weeds grew.  I want a clean planting area for all the new bulbs.  My gas powered roto-tiller is just too big for the area, so I bought a small 10' tiller.

I tried it out today.  What a disaster!  Every grass leaf and root wrapped around the tiller blades  2 10' rows and the things was stuffed like a hard ball of cotton.  It took 20 minutes to pull them all out.  But it did do a decent job of tearing up the soil an inch deep, which was exactly what I wanted.  But that was way too slow and difficult.

So I used my electric string-trimmer to beat down all the long grass leaves.    That was an amazing 3 wheelbarrowfuls of plant debris!

So I tried the little electric tiller again.  It was actually worse.  The previous use has a lot of grass leaves in it, this time it was all roots.  It took 30 minutes to pull them all out.  They get wrapped and tangled very tightly.

So that wasn't the way to go.  The little electric tiller is great for small areas of bare dirt.  But it doesn't chop up roots.

So I raked off all the weed-whacked debris.  Then I decided to pull out the serious tiller.   It is kind of big for the job.  I couldn't get it to start.  So I thought about mowing the area.  I can use the drill auger to make holes for all the new daffs if weeds are down to ground level.  I couldn't get the push mower to start.  Last option was the riding mower but that is really awkward changing from forward to reverse (you have to stop the blade each change).

So Monday, I bring the gas rototiller and the gas push mower to a repairshop.  There is a good local one.  Fair prices.  I hope they aren't busy.

And then I can get back to MY interests which is USING the equipment to do things I need doing.

Saturday, November 5, 2016


The approach of Winter is pushing me to get some yardwork done.  My knee is about back to normal as long as don't kneel on something hard (walking is general fine again even stairs feel normal).

I have several projects to complete.  The major one is a 1/3 of the backyard that has become overgrown with ivy, volunteer saplings, and blackberries.  What a weird combination!

I attacked it 2x this week.  I can cut down the saplings with loppers (a few demand a saw), but getting at the blackberries is horrible.  They drape over in a circle, so every one I cut HAS to fall on me and grabs my skin and clothes like an angry cat.  I was spending more time getting each individual came loose from me than cutting them.

The area is 50'x65' and that is not going to work.  The job requires EQUIPMENT!  I priced those glorified gas-powered ground surface hedge-trimmers and decent ones start at $2500.  Not the best idea for something I'm not likely to use again.  So I called a couple of brush-hoggers.

One came by today.  He just cuts everything off at groundlevel.  A high-powered mowing and debris removal service.  That might be good enough depending on the price.  With that, I would have a clear area.  I have a good roto-tiller and used it back there once.

It's rough work, but if all that is left is 1" stubs and roots, it WILL tear them out and a regular mower will keep them cropped until the roots are exhausted and die.  I can handle THAT.

I would PREFER someone to come in with a small bulldozer and scrape the soil a couple inches deep, remove the plant debris, them spread the soil out smoothly.  I haven't found someone to do that yet.

Landscapers want to turn everything into lawn or planted areas with their own shrubs and flowers.   I don't want that.

Excavators just want to flatten everything in sight and leave the debris in place.  They really don't want to mess with removing piles of brambles.

Part of the problem is that it is a tricky area.  There is a 9' diameter pond needing a new liner and a 40' water raceway uphill that flows pumped water down into the pond.  They don't want to get close to that.

I may have to take what I can get and try to do what I can afterwards.  But at least on this, I am willing to pay someone to do the rough work.

This is all because I had some trees that were shading my garden removed.  As some as they were removed, the space under them received a lot more sunlight.  I knew I had ivy around, but the blackberries were a complete surprise.  They just erupted out of no where.  I assume the tree shade prevented them from growing before.

So here is my plan.  I have five 2' tall specimen trees (2 korean dogwoods and 3 sourwoods) that should grow only about 20' high.  They won't shade my garden.  But they shold shade the ground around them to replace the shade that kept the blackberries and ivy from growing.  The ground under the older taller junk trees was nearly bare.  I'm hoping for a return to that.

I will help the 5 specimen trees grow by surrounding them with scrap carpet.  Carpet lets water through but not plants up.  I done that with many shrubs and trees and it works great.

The trees I bought are not yet dormant.  I water them every couple of days waiting for the cold weather.

If it works, I will have lovely Spring and Fall small trees in the back, no wild growth, and no new shade on the garden. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016


I just HAD to post this...

That one was just too funny...

More Political Silliness And Illogic Comment

I received a comment from Angel Abbygrace's Mom in response to the original post.  The comment is detailed and it is valued.  And I don't want to change a normally personal and friendly blog into a heated discussion in the stress of the last week of an angry and partisan political campaign.

But a response is deserved, and I'll put hers it italics for ease of identification.  And unless noted otherwise, I will accept the accuracy of her statements (this is not Fox News, after all, and we are not competing talking heads.  She is a friend whom I respect).

And unless otherwise noted I am commenting on her quote, not her conclusions FROM the quote. 

As she quoted, From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.

"Chains" are series of emails on the same subject.  They can, as we all well know, contain many subjects varying widely as the "chain" goes on.  What starts as a chain can be about personal family matters, get into a brief argument about politics and then go right back to family matters.

In this case, I see that there are some numbers that seem to have meaning and some that do not.  "110 emails in 52 email chains" sounds like a whole lot.  Many people will multiply 110 by 52 and think "about 55,000 emails".  No.  It is still only 110 out of the original 30,000 emails.

That is "not many".

The numbers of emails that were "sent or received" is deceptive.  It is not a crime to receive improperly-marked classified information.   If I sent anyone of my friends classified information not properly marked as such, you would not be guilty of anything.  *I* might, IF I knew the information was classified.

The question is whether the information in the emails was known to either of us.

From what I understand, most of the emails considered to include classified information fell into 3 categories.

First, there was information not classified at the time but classified at a later date.  You are not guilty of handling information that was classified LATER! Such as, if you take a medication today and the Government declares it illegal next month, you can't be charged.

And even with classified information, there is a "lag time".  If some agency declares "Fact X" classified today and you refer to it tomorrow before you are told about that, you aren't guilty of anything.

It gets worse.  Suppose Agency A declares Fact A classified and Agency B says it isn't?  You still aren't guilty because there is reasonable doubt.

Second, classified information has to be properly identified.  In the movies, every classified document has a big red "CLASSIFIED" stamped at the top.  And maybe they do.  But they don't always show up that way in emails.  I have seen claims by seemingly objective sources that WHEN a classified email or  attachment in an email was sent to Clinton, there was simply a large "C" at the end.  

And there are 2 problems with that one.  If you only learn the information was classified AFTER you read it, there isn't much you can do to forget it.  And a "C" is not the same as a "classified" stamp...

Third, most of the information that is being challenged was "upclassified", meaning it was classified only after recent review by one Federal Agency or another and at a later date than the emails.  And if anyone has to choose between classifying information and NOT classifying it, it gets classified.

If my job was classifying documents, I would classify my office softball team schedule rather than make a mistake.  Because the is no penalty for over-classifying docoments, but a HUGE one for not when you should have.

Which leads me to my last 2 point, which I will combine.  Just because a document is classified doesn't mean it should be.  Just how many secrets to you think we have from the Russians and Chinese?  I think it was Kissinger who said that the only Nations we can keep secrets from are our Allies.  And apparently, we can't even do that anymore.

So I ALMOST question our whole habit of secrecy.  The only people who DON'T know US government secrets are the US citizens, LOL!

From AbbyGrace's Mom:  "The Top Secret email chains alone should set off alarm bells whether you support or don't support HRC as a candidate. If you had sent or received classified email on your own private server while working in the Government do you think the FBI would have been as lenient to you?" 

HRC has about the highest clearance.  I don't.

"Also from the director's statement: Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

"Careless" is not the same as "illegal".  If one classified person mentioned classified information to another privately at a party,  that is not illegal, but it is careless.

"One other note on classification from the Director: But even if information is not marked “classified” in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it"

At a certain level, probably almost anything could be classified.  And you have to be able to talk to people in real time without having staff research every fact for classification status.  I suspect that our classified system has gotten way out of anyone's ability to keep within the rules. 

I bet I could find half of the US classified information on the internet without trying too hard.  I think the whole classified argument is a mountain made from a molehill. 

Not that some information shouldn't be classified, but that most shouldn't.

And let me finish by saying again, no harshness, just my best answers to a good comment...