email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Holiday Decorating

I don't often decorate for holidays.  In fact, I don't usually pay much attention to them these days.  I don't have visitors, family is scattered, and former friends have gone their separate ways.

But sometimes,  I make an effort.  I used to get real trees to decorate, but that was a lot of effort.  Then I bought a very realistic artificial tree, but that was even more work than a real one (real ones at least come with branches in the right places).  Re-boxing the artificial tree was awkward.

So last year, I bought a 3' artificial tree on post-holiday clearance ($5).  How much trouble could a 3' tree be?  You pull it out of the box, the branches are on hinges and fall nicely into place, and you plug it in.  Right?

Wrong.  Somehow I missed seeing the "unlit" description on the box.  The DISPLAY model was beautifully lit, had realistic-looking needles, and was at least 2' wide at the bottom.  Out of the box, I saw no lights and it was a mass of wire branches you had to bend into shape.  The "needles" were flat shreds of green plastic. 

Well, at least it was cheap enough to just throw away after this one use.  Because I sure won't ever use it again!  But it IS this year's tree.  Next year, I will use the fancy 6' realistic artificial tree.  It's a little easier to set up actually, and sturdier.  In fact, the branches hold heavy decorations better.  It's the packing away back into the box that is harder and I even figured out how to do that easier sliding the 3 sections into large garbage bags to close up the hinged branches tightly.

But here is a picture of the existing one...

I am NOT impressed!

Monday, December 11, 2017


The ivy cuttings...
The spider plant that was a few dying leaves pinned with a tent peg in March...
The snake plant pot I need to divide, but can't pull the rootball out of...
Ah, the "Comfort Station"...  I never used to drink cocktails until Dad moved in with me  in 2012.  He loved Martinis.  I could never stand such pure stuff.  But I found fruit-based drinks to accompany him.  
My favorite is a "Gin Buck".  Sling glass with 4 ice cubes.  1 oz gin, 1/2 oz of lemon juice, fill with ginger ale.  2nd is what I call a "Peach Comfort".  Sling glass, 4 ice cubes, 1 oz Southern Comfort and 1/2 oz Peach liquer, filled with ginger ale.  3rd is what I call a Cavebear Sling.  Same glass and ice, 1 oz of gin and 1/2 oz of Pomerganate juice.  Tart.  I drink them all with a straw.  Purists would wince.  I like it because I drink it slower.  I can't just "sip"...

There is bourbon and vodka in the back for odd variations, but I seldom go there.  Vodka is just for getting drunk and that's not my interest.  Bourbon is for visitors who like it. 

And I have 2 glasses of Zinfandel wine with dinner.  The White wine is for spicy chinese dinners.  And I eat dinner slowly, so the wine goes slowly.  I'm retired, who cares?  LOL!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Catching Up

It is supposed to snow tonight.  At first, the forecast was for 1-3", then 2-4", then 4-8".  So Winter starts...

I spent the past 2 weeks getting the yard ready for Winter while the temperatures were till in the 50s.  Mostly small stuff like pulling out the dead tomato and pepper and corn plants.  Harvesting the last of the carrots and celery (leaves only here). 

But a few major things.  I have 2 toolsheds.  One is 25 years old and a tree fell on it about 5 years ago.  Poked a few holes in the roof.  Which didn't matter much since I didn't put anything under the leaks.  But I replaced the shelves and wanted to use them, so I slipped new shingles over the holes.  That didn't work. 

The roof needs replacing, but I didn't have the time.  So I screwed on a piece of 2'x8' plywood over the holes and caulked around the edges.  That will work until Spring when I can replace the entire roof. 

Two toolsheds may seem a lot (both 8'x12'), but I have a lot of equipment and a dislike of having to move 4 things to get at one).

I put a bag over the new metal hose reel.  The manufacturers say the powder coating should last many years, but I think protecting it in Winter will make it last longer, so why not?

I had black plastic sheeting covering the 30' round bulb bed all Summer to kill weeds and keep the bulbs dry (bulbs like dry soil).  It was pretty much used up and brittle, but I spread it out off to the side and cut it into pieces.  I folded those up 3x to make some weed and grass smothering over winter in the flowerbeds.  Come Spring, I should have no weeds to fight with when I want to plant annual flowers.

I also used some to cover the garden paths.  They are paver squares on gravel, but weeds even grow in THAT, but they won't do well covered for 4 months.  With luck, the paths won't have weeds to fight with in April.

I also pruned briars to the ground.  They thrive here with the least bit of inattention and I was very inattentive this year.  I can only do so much.  Cutting them back will cause the roots to diminish (not being fed by the leaves) and digging them out next year will be easier. 

I filled the trailer with plant debris too tough to compost (thorns seem to survive forever), and planned to bring them to the County Brush Composting site (where they can get huge piles that even decompose thorns) last Saturday (the only day they operate November though March) but I stayed up too late and is is going to snow tomorrow.  Figures...

I'll get there tomorrow if the snow fails or next Saturday.  Between 7:30 am to noon, I can get a free load of mulch in return for the debris.  I'll spread it over the bulb bed to keep down the weeds.  Actually, I think it will take 3 loads to make a 3" thick layer, but I can manage that even in cold weather.

I have 2 large pots of Snake Plants.  I took one rootball out and divided it into pieces.  The plants grow thick tangled roots and are not easily separatable, so I just cut them apart with an old serrated Ginsu knife and put the best pieces in eight 6" pots with new potting soil.  They are slow-growing and have energy reserves in the thick roots, so I won't know if they are growing until I see new leaves probably in a few months.

Meanwhile, I have another pot of them in a wide shallow ceramic bowl that I can't pull the plants out of.  I'll try soaking the pot in a large bucket for a few days, but I expect I'll have to break the pot to get at the roots.  I have a very useful plastic container 2'x3' and that will help.

I took some variegated ivy that were in small 6-pack cells all Summer and grew long stems while I wasn't paying attention.  I cut the stems of one into short sections to make more, and I set the others into 4" pots in new soil.  I may end up with a dozen ivy plants.  I'm thinking of hanging a pipe from the ceiling and supported a 6' planter box of them from it to make a "waterfall" of them.  Watering could could get drippy, so I'll need a shallow box below them.  I don't know of a product like that, so I'll have to build one.

The 6 cuttings of my original Waxy Hoya plant all seem to be rooting well, and I'll need to find a place for them too. 

Between the Waxy Hoyas, the Snake Plants, and the Ivies, I need a lot more light.  In Spring to Fall, some can be out on the deck, but Winter is a problem.  I think I need to make another light stand designed for tall and hanging plants.  Well, that will give me something to design and build over Winter.

And that doesn't count de-clutterring the basement.  With the old toolshed secure from rain (I hope, and am waiting to see), I can move a lot of stuff in there.

With more basement space free, I can get at the regular Winter project of making new starter/potting soil.  I like making my own.  It's cheaper, but I also get to make it right.  new fertilizer, and a good blend of peat moss (that I sift into powder myself), vermiculite, sifted compost, and fine sand.   It works for me and I fill a large trash barrel with it.  Which is the amount I use up each Spring.

I sure won't be bored before Spring!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Daffodils 2

So I had daffodils in some tubs and meant to replant them last Spring after they bloomed.  But didn't.  I got busy with other stuff.

I tipped the bins over last week and picked the bulbs out of the soil,  Wow, those bulbs loved the rich soil!  Most had multiplied into 4.  Well, I have this new island around a tree and boulder in the front yard.  About 40'x20'.  I tried planting Astilbe there, but the deer just kept pulling them up (couldn't eat them, but kept trying).  Well, I know they sure can't eat daffodils (toxic to most mammals). 

The bed was covered with large saucer magnolia leaves.  I raked them just off the bed so that I could use my little electric tiller (which is great for small areas) to kill the weeds.  I have a large tiller, but it isn't good in small areas.

I planted those recovered 100 bulbs in the front island. 

I am now utterly worn out.  I have put away all my planting tools.  I am done for the season...

And actually, this was several days ago.  I am really done.  I've pushed myself to my limit, getting inside before sunset and sitting in a chair exhausted.  I get muscle cramps from all the digging and bending.  I've been getting my hands clenching up, cramps in my legs, stitches in my sides.


But oh next Spring is going to look SO wonderful...  It will all have been worth it. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


I wasn't just working on the hose reel platform this week.  I was planting daffodils too.  And a LOT of them.

The original plantings looked like this...
One quarter daffodils...  I decided to complete the circle this fall (avoiding where I had planted tulips and hyacinths in vole-proof metal cages) 2 years ago.  I ordered 500 daffodil bulbs and they arrived 3 weeks ago.  I looked at them all and said "OMG, WHAT was I thinking"?  How could I ever plant so many?

It took 2 hours per day for 4 days.  First, I thank technology for drill augers!
Bulb Planter Fits 3/8in and 1/2in Drills 2-3/4in Auger Drills 8in Deep

Attached to an electric drill, you can get fast holes  for bulbs to go into.  They even cut some small roots and lift out small rocks.  It takes some work, but works better than those cylinder push-down bulb-planters in rough soil.

I kept track of where I planted bulbs from day to day by surrounding the planted area with bright yellow nylon marine rope and leaving the closest row of bulbs unburied.

And I had to do some exploratory digging.  I had covered the tulip and hyacinth cages with cardboard cut to size and pinned with tent pegs.  And the whole are was covered with black plastic sheeting to smother the weeds and keep the bulbs dry (which they like).

But even then, I was surprised to discover that some of the cardboard markers rotted and some were loosened when a windstorm came through right after I removed the plastic.  Sad timing.  But the tent pegs were still there and I spend a whole afternoon finding them.  Which allowed me to replicate where the cardboard covers had been,

The recreated covers looked like this...

I planted all the new daffodil bulbs around the cardboard covers the other 3/4 on the bed.

Almost.  I came short a 6'x5' section at the end.  Home Depot had 40 bulb bags on clearance.  Most were blends and I didn't want THAT!  But I found ONE bag of one kind (King Alfred) and JUST barely filled up that last area.

Bed Complete!

But I had some in some tubs that needed a permanent space.  That's tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hose Reel 6

So the post is in and solid.  The metal bars are assuring it stays upright and level.  Time to attach the hose reel...

The hose reel has 4 front screw holes and 4 back ones.  I used 1 1/2" x 3/8" lag screws in pre-drilled holes.  I put rubber hose washers on the bottom and fender washers (large washers with small holes) above those and drove the galvanized lag screws down tight.  THOSE aren't going to come loose!
The hose reel turns to the left...
To the right...
And rolls up the hose...
It's a bit ugly because it is coldish outside and the hose isn't as limp as it will be in Summer.  But as a test of the system, it is good.

After testing the "reeling", I used it to water the newly-planted daffodils.  The hose came off the reel beautifully from any angle.

Tomorrow, planting daffodils...

Monday, November 27, 2017

Hose Reel 5

I had a hose hanger on a 4x4 post there, and pulled it out.  Then used a 6" spade and a post hole digger to deepen and enlarge the hole.  That was easier than I expected.  The soil was quite good.  The bottom foot was mostly clay, and I saved that for backfill.  Its stronger.

This picture shows getting down 20".  I got down to 24" but the picture failed.  I usually take several of each event and all are good, but not this time,  Figures...
But I got the post into the hole and stood it upright.
I backfilled from all sides gradually.  I didn't have a good tamp available, but realized the D handle of the shovel worked well.  I'm good at using whatever is near at hand.

I packed that clay soil hard! 
Then put a level on the top and made some slight adjustments.   Tamping hard on one side adjusted the post to perfect level.  And then I set metal bars on either side (anchored with cinderblocks) to hold it it place.  Then I used a piece of 4x4 post (more useful scrap) to really pound the clay soil around the post.
The top was utterly level!  I left the metal bars in place to assure the post didn't move while I soaked the soil  and tamped some more.  
That post ISN'T moving!

Tomorrow, attaching the hose reel to the platform...

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Hose Reel 4

So the post and turntable are all set for installation.  I released the bench vice holding it and went to lift it.  I couldn't lift it!  It was TOO HEAVY!

I had to drag out my dolly.
Harper Trucks 700 lb Steel Dual Purpose 2 Wheel Dolly and 4 Wheel Cart with 10" Flat-Free Solid Rubber Wheels
It took 5 minutes to drag it out of the basement to the installation site!  Clutterred basement, rough ground...

Tomorrow, the hole for the hose reel post...

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Hose Reel 3

The rotating hose reel project has been a real challenge.  Every time I think I has something right, it's wrong.

The original plan had a 6"x6"x5' post (a leftover from when the deck was built 3 years ago).  Leftovers are always useful for SOMETHING eventually.  That part stayed. 

I was thinking that the turntable construction needed 12" boards across it for stability and some other boards as braces on the sides. 

But it occurred to me that metal angle brackets would to that side strength.  And then I realized the more metal brackets could replace ALL the boards.  And a lot easier to install...

So what was first a rather complicated structure of 12" carriage bolts and 10" lag screws became a simpler build of 3" deck screws into angle brackets. 

So I dragged the 6"x6"x5' post into the basement and clamped it upright in my bench vise.  I needed two 3" angle brackets on the front and back and two 4" brackets on the sides.

But then I decided that having 2 brackets on each side of the post was even sturdier.  One is good, two are better!  I've never seen anything I can't over-build...

I had some 3" brackets and screwed them in.  I had to buy some 4" brackets.  To my surprise, all the DIY stores were CLOSED on Thanksgiving day.   They are even open on Easter!  Walmart was open though.  But they had only 3" brackets.  So I got the 4" ones Friday.  

Reality is cruel!  When I went to attach the 4" brackets, the screws hit the 3" bracket screws!  ARGH...  I don't have a picture of the 3" brackets screwed in, but the dots mark the spots
I decided to offset/lower the 3"brackets  by adding a strip of 1/2" plywood cut to size (more good use of scraps).  That caused all the attachment screws to miss each other.
 Here, you can see the plywood strips, and brackets successfully attached...  4" ones here...
And 3" ones on the othe sides.
Note how the bracket screw holes are now offset from each other...
The post, with the turntable top is now complete, and has strong as can reasonably be made!

Tomorrow, installing the post outside...

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hose Reel, Part 2

The turntable drove me completely crazy!  I watched 3 youtube videos about how to install them and none made much sense.  So I went back to the workbench and turn the pieces around in all directions seeking some way, seeking some understanding.

Think of it this way.  Put a slice of ham between 2 slices of bread and THEN put mustard on the ham without lifting the bread or pushing it in sideways...

I went crazy!

I attached the turntable to the top and bottom pieces of wood in all possible ways.  I even considered the turntable was sold cheap because it was non-functional.  But I knew it wasn't.  It was MY failure to comprehend the one BIG HOLE.

When Sir Issac Newton was trying to figure out the orbits of the planets, he tried many geometric shapes.  And he hit on the right one, but made a simple math error and rejected it.  Looking back later, he figured out his error and solved the problem.

I looked back too.  And realized I had it right once but didn't realize it.  Not that I'm like Newton, but we all make mistakes and find we were right at some point and didn't realize it.

I figured it out...

I can't possible explain, but I could show it.

All I can offer is some pictures...

IT SWIVELS, IT SPINS!  There are a lot of wrong holes in it, but it WORKS!  And with new wood, I could do it again better.  But it works.  I got mustard in the sandwich without lifting the bread, LOL!

I bought heavy duty lag screws to attack the hose reel to the top piece.   I drilled the holes to attach it.

But before I do that, I need to create a solid platform to attach it to the existing 4"x4" post.   More of the same size scrap pieces glued and screwed to the post and cross pieces across those.  But that's another day...

My friends say I "overbuild" things.  But my stuff doesn't fall apart after a few years...  I would have designed the Pyramids just as they are...  LOL!

Wait til you see the finished product...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Hose Reel

I bought a hose reel a few weeks ago, not sure exactly how to attach it to anything.  The instructions say it MUST be attached to a wall or affixed to the ground.


I decided I wanted it to swivel, so that I could pull the hose off in different directions.  My initial thought was to put a 2" metal pipe in the ground and set a 3" PVC pipe on top of that so that would rotate on the metal pipe with some support structure to hold the hose reel.

That got kind of complicated, and PVC pipe is not the sturdiest stuff.  So I let it sit in my mind a few days.

I was shopping for other stuff at the DIY store, and noticed a little 4" turntable (aka Lazy Susan) and thought, "Hey, I have a 12" one of those I bought at a yard sale years ago because I thought it "might be useful".

But I couldn't figure out how to attach it to a post AND attach it to the hose reel.  The internet is an amazing thing.  Ask the RIGHT question, and some other people know the answer and even do a video showing how.

I had figured out how part of it worked.  There was a big hole in the bottom that allowed access to all the smaller holes.  But I still couldn't see how to get at both the top and bottom since it seemed the holes got covered by a board no matter what I did.

Sneaky tricky stuff, but it all had to have a purpose.  The big hole was the key.  And not attaching the hose reel directly to the turntable.  The video I watched showed about using the big hole to allow access to all the other small srew holes.  I got THAT right.  But then it showed attaching 2 square boards to the top and bottom and THEN attaching your "whatever" to the top baord.

DUH!  Slapped forehead.  And the video even expected that.  It said "you can't do it the way you want to directly".

So I needed 2 boards suitable for outside conditions.  Well, I could buy a sheet of pressure treated plywood and cut it to size.  Or use stuff I had.  I didn't have anything 12" wide.  But I had scraps of 2"x8" boards leftover from building the framed garden beds 2 years ago.

But I had to attach 2 pieces of it twice together (a top and a bottom).  Gluing wasn't sturdy enough.  But I had a "biscuit joiner" I bought 20 years ago and had only used once.  AHA, I had a reason to use it!  A biscuit joiner cuts oval shapes in the edge of a board and you gkue precut ovals into the cut slots.

I ran the scraps of wood through my planer to make the surfaces flat and exactly the same thickness, used the plate joiner to cut slots in the edges and glued in the biscuits (ovals).  Clamped them tight and held them flat with clamps and weights.    The wood ovals swell up from the moisture in the glue and the squeeze-out gets between the boards and hold even more.  He stuff makes 2 boards are solid as one larger board.

Naturally, I forgot to take pictures (and I had my camera in my pocket)!  But I can replicate some of it to make sense of all this text.

And that is where I stopped for the day to bring some deck plants in because of the first hard freeze of the season.

More later...

Monday, November 6, 2017

An Old Project Done

Sometimes, I buy stuff for a project and never get around to it.  Sometimes it is funny just seeing the stuff sitting around for months or even years, thinking "I really need to get that done:.  Sometimes, it is really annoying, like when I look at a bag of bolts and hooks or some stuff and have no recollection what I intended to do with them.  And sometimes, I know what they were for, but I did something different to solve the same problem.

At least THIS time, I knew what the parts were for and still wanted it done!

Twentyfive years ago, when I was building the fence around the backyard, I needed sawhorses.  I bought these cheap aluminum brackets you screwed 2"x4" boards into, and the sawhorses were flimsy.

Ten years ago, I bought some sturdier-looking brackets with a unique way of attaching boards.  And they sat around at the back of a shelf every since.

Hang in there, there WILL be pictures...

Yesterday, I looked at them and decided to just "get them built"!  The poly-something brackets are nicely designed.  They are specifically molded to accept both 2"x4" or 2"x6" boards, and you can bolt wider tops on if you choose.  The bracket is also molded to hold 2"x4" legs at a proper angle with heavy-duty poly wedge blocks that are ridged to dig into the boards a bit.  The box even has a convenient chart to tell you how long to cut the legs to get about a dozen possible heights.

So yesterday I went to the DIY store I went for a 2"x6" top.  The 2"x4" pressure-treated boards  (P-T boards because they are for outside use - I have fancier adjustable stuff for shop use) I found there were JUNK (twisted or bowed)!  I chose the best I could find.  But when I went looking for the 2"x6" board, I discovered better quality 2"x4" boards next to them.  So I returned the junk boards to the bin and selected the good ones.  $1 more per board...

So with my perfectly straight boards, I went home and and cut them to length.  That was enough for the afternoon and I had other things to do.

Today, I went to assemble the parts.  The first thing I discovered was that the 2"x6" top board didn't fit in the pre-molded slot.  I had tested a bracket with a regular 6" board, but apparently, pressure-treated wood gets a little bit swollen in the process.  So I had to shave off 1/8th" from the ends using the table saw.  Same with the 2"x4" legs.  Its a bit ugly, but it's just a sawhorse.  If I had it to do over again, I would have just ripped 1/16th" off both sides.  And it actually would have been easier.  Ahh, "hindsight"...

But everything fit eventually.  I marked the spot where the 6" top needed a 5/16" hole drilled for a carriage bolt to attach the top through the poly wedge to hold the legs in place and set up my drill press to get the holes perfectly straight. 

And then discovered they should have said an 11/32" because I had to hammer the bolts through the board to get them through.  Well, I suppose they figured not everyone has an 11/32" drill bit.  I do, but hammering was easier than drilling all the holes slightly larger.  I do not object to "brute force" on rough projects.  And carriage bolts are designed to be hammered into place.  They have a 1/8" square shape intended to be pushed into the wood to keep them from turning.

Holding 2 legs AND placing the poly wedge was a bit tricky while I placed the large wing nut of the bottom of the carriage bolt, but a shoulder was a sufficient "third hand".  I have gotten used to doing things that require 3 hands, LOL!

Tightening the big wing nut between the sawhorse legs took some creativity.  I finally figured out that using a large screwdriver as a lever got 1/3 turn and a large pliers got another 1/3 turn, repeated over and over.  There are some things that are hard to describe but obvious when you try them.

Anyway, I finally got that wingnut so tight that The Hulk couldn't pull those legs loose.  And even then, I might put a couple of 2" screws through through the poly bracket and into the legs. 

And the instructions suggested that added crosspieces of wood across the middles of the legs would improve stability.  Naturally, I did that.  But the legs are at angles.  So, feeling a bit "perfectionist", I wanted the crosspieces to match the angles of the legs and not stick out. 

One little tool I love is an angle tool.  It is nothing but 2 pieces of metal with a wing nut tightener at the connection.  You loosen the nut, set the 2 pieces to match the angle you want, and bring it to the tablesaw to match the angle of the miter gauge to the saw blade. 

It worked perfectly, and I even used scrap PT 1"x3" wood (intended for but not used on the compost bin project).  After I screwed THOSE on the insides of the legs, I sat of the sawhorses and they didn't give at all!

Now, finally, PICTURES...

The 2 sawhorses...
The poly-something bracket...
The leg crosspieces (showing how nicely the angled cuts match the legs...
 They don't exactly "nest" on each other, but can be stacked...
The box info.  The brand is Crawford and the model is #90.   I looked them up on Amazon and they are up to #90-6, so maybe there are improvements.  And there are similar products from another brand.
Very worth it for outdoor sawhorses.  These might outlast me.

Saturday, November 4, 2017


Today I went around and snipped off all the flowerheads I could find in the meadow bed.  I figure they will do better if I keep them in the fridge over Winter, and spread them out next Spring.  I filled up a continer of rubbed-aoart seed heads.

Then I did the same for the bee/butterfly/hummingbird bed flowers. 

Then I did the same for the odd huge marigold that volunteered this year. 

3 containers of hopefully "self-sowing" seeds and I will try to help them in Spring.  I figure spreading them around rather than just letting seedheads fall in clumps will be a good idea.  We'll see.

Sunday, October 29, 2017


After a good home-cooked meal, you need a good dessert.  I like fresh fruit, nuts, and a taste of chocolate...
And some TV...
And cats on my lap...

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Compost Bin

Well, I thought it was finished, but it wasn't.  The tops were heavy to lift.  And keeping them lifted meant lifting them totally up and over to rest on the fence.  Which annoyed me.

And then I had a totally wicked idea.  Counterweights...

The tops took 17 pounds of upward pressure to lift before (I weighed the lifting pressure with a fishing scale).  So I screwed 2"x4"x6' boards to the tops and added some 6"x6"x53" posts left over from building the new decks (I save scraps and this is why).

Here are the bins now.
The 6"x6" posts are attached to the boards.  I used two 7" lag screws anchored with fender washers up into the posts per board.  Those posts won't ever come loose!
The weight of the posts is perfectly matched to the weight of the tops.  Instead of  17 pounds, I can lift the tops with a finger.
And close them just as easily!
The tops sit upright on their own...
The front slats lift out for easy access to the compost contents.
The slats have small pieces of wood as spacers...
That fit into slots I created by sandwiching a 2"x4" board between two 1"x6" boards ...
 All the sides have braces...
And I even have a barrel of dirt to shovel a couple inches into the bin after every 6" of compostable material.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Looking At New Houses

Every Fall, I wish I had more sunlight for my garden, a little more distance from my neighbors.  And every year, the neighbors' trees grow a few feet higher and hang over the yard a bit more.

But staying has advantages.  No Homeowner Association, all-electric house (and buried cables, so few outages in storms), familiarity, the ease of staying in place,  city water and sewage, dead end street so little traffic, optical fiber internet service, a fence the cats don't climb all around the backyard, and years of landscaping.  I can walk through the house in pitch-black.

But one thing keeps whispering in my mind.  The longer I wait to move, the harder it will be if I EVER do.  And I will get unhappier the longer I stay.

I've emailed the agent to set up an appointment to visit the property I like.


 Inside is open. 

Wondering, since I moved here from an apartment to a new house...  What does it really take to move a whole house?  I can hardly imagine it and it seems daunting!  A 1000 boxes?  How would I even pack drawers of kitchen stuff? 

The last time I moved I had a living room and a bedroom.  Now I have 20 times all that stuff.  Do the movers pack most of it?  Or do they expect to just find everything small in boxes?  What will they do?

I'm only here now because Im afraid of the moving process.  Its unfamiliar and unkown..

Sadly, the times my parents moved us, we just got sent out of the way.  No learning experience there.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The New Samsung HDTV

Well, the Samsung Plasma HDTV repairman arrived Wednesday.  The Samsung Service Center was sure it was a power supply problem easily fixed in spite of the fact that I told them the red indicator light on the set was on.  Well, OK, maybe the power goes there first and then to the TV components.

And I had bought a 24" Samsung HDTV for $138 to use for the week it took for the repair visit (and to show the rest of the system was working).  Half of my TV use is really just listening to political talk shows and science shows, so the small picture was "OK" for a week.

The repairman instantly recognized the problem wasn't the power supply.  He said, if that little red button is on, you have power.  He waved some gadget across the screen and found a tiny crack in the front panel that caused the screen to fail.  "The gas escaped slowly until it failed".    He arranged to have a new front panel shipped, total cost $1,000.

But the next day, I got a call saying that front panel was no longer made or available from secondary sources.  And that Samsung would call me.

Which they did.  They prorate depreciation over 5 years, mine was 3.7 years old, therefore, I will get 30% back.  Aside from that, I was out of luck and was free to purchase any new TV (or not).

So I read up on the newest 60-65" HDTVs at Consumer Reports website.  The bad news is that there are no more plasma HDTVs.  I liked them; the colors are better and the refresh rate higher than on LED HDTVs.  But the LED HDTVs are better than they were a few years ago.  I set my sights of a particular one (another Samsung - the slightly higher rated TVs were a brand I don't know anything about, and I have all these Samsung remotes, LOL) and went looking.

The nearest place turned out to sell ONLY Samsung!  Well, they have a price-matching guarantee and I had already looked up the prices of the model I thought I wanted and the prices were all with a couple of dollars.

So I was expecting to buy the model from Consumer Reports.  The salesman asked to show me one before I told him what I was looking for.  It was a newer more advanced model.  2160 instead of 1080, many times more pixels, double the screen refresh rate, etc.

I am suspicious of tech advances; some don't mean anything.  But he showed me a special picture on it.  Granted, it was designed to show off color and black background (which creates "depth").  I sure don't know everything about TVs, but it was noticeably better than the same display on the standard Samsung LED  HDTV.

As I said I don't know every about TVs.  But I can follow wiring, and both TVs were receiving the same signal through optical fiber.  Well, if they faked that, they are too good for me to tell.  While the salesman was away briefly selecting the surround sound modes, I looked at the 2 TVs .  The lesser picture quality was the exact model I had come in to purchase!  I had not mentioned that to him.

So I was looking at what I expected to purchase vs one with a noticeably better picture. And I understood why the picture was better.  More smaller pictures equal better picture resolution.  The better TV cost $1,000 more, but came with a 5 year repair guarantee, free delivery, and free removal of the old unit.  That adds up.

I chose the better one.

I was delivered today and the picture is WONDERFUL!  Well, showrooms are designed to make the TV pictures look best.  I know about those tricks.  I watch TV ads seeing the tricks and smiling to myself about them.  But the picture of this 4000k HDTV is really good.  It's worth it.

They tried to sell me a surround sound system.  I didn't go for that.  The Bose soundbar in front of the TV was $700 and the wireless speaker to go behind me and the subwoofer was another $700.  Actually, the subwoofer was so strong, it vibrated the chair and that would have made me nauseous.

I have my TV "audio out" going to my stereo system controller.  My floor model DCM speakers give fine sound after a decade )I don't play music load very often).

But there is an odd effect right now.   I was seeing people speak, but silently.  If I had the TV-only speaker on, they spoke.  Something about the system is separating the audio channels.  For now, I have the TV speaker and stereo speakers both on, But I will have to look at the plugs in the TV control box  soon to see if I can connect them better.

Because right now, If I want to change the volume and keep it balanced, I have to change both the TV and stereo volume, and that's a pain.  There will be a way, I just have to find it.  And I've explored the TV controls and seen many options.  For now, a great picture and good sound is enough.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Not Painting The Fence

And FINALLY, I get around to explaining why I don't want the neighbor to paint my fence on hos side...

I have a personal image of my property.  Let's start by imagining I only lived inside my house.  I don't see the outside of it.  But my neighbors do.  They may or may not like the color of my house, but they agree it is mine and all the sides of my house match in color.  As it occurs, my house siding is dark green and fits into the landscape.  There is no Homeowner Association here to complain, but it is not like I painted it hot pink and added lime green shutters.

So the neighbor can't decide he thinks the side of my house that he sees should be painted beige and could just go ahead and do that while I was on vacation.  I care about my house looking rather consistent in color all the way around.  OK so far?

Now, I think of my fence in the same way.  The entire fence is on my property and and I want it to look the same all the way around.  It, in its own way, partly defining my choice of how my property is viewed by outsides just as my house is.

Having the neighbors view my fence in a consistent color makes a difference to me.  One side being one bold different color from the others just destroys my vision of my yard. 

I understand that my neighbor has a view of his internal yard.  But he should have thought to ask who owned the fences around him before he just had people paint them.  I am probably the only person who knows that all the fences around this new neighbor's property are owned by others.  The only fence he owns is those small parts from the sides of his house connecting to the sides.

And I may be the only person who cares.  But I do care.  I specifically like the look of greyish aged pressure-treated wood.  And I don't want people looking at my property from the outside seeing it of different colors.

I hope that all made sense...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Yesterday, Neighbor and Project

The neighbor just amazes me more and more.  If there is anything he can do wrong, he does.

Yesterday, I looked out over the fence and saw the neighbor's contractors had made "volcano mulch mounds" around several trees.  You don't DO that.  It smothers the roots, invites fungal diseases around the covered tree trunk and invited voles to gnaw the bark away.

If I even meet this guy (he has to move in eventually, there is way too much work being done for a flip or a rental) I will try to help him.  Don't laugh, but I am a real boy scout and helpful type.

But the contractors were ordered to do the weirdest thing so far.

Most house on the street have "swales" at the front of the street.  Those are designed to catch rain from the street and direct them sideways in storm drains.  Those are all just slight depressions in the front lawns.  For some reason, the neighbor's property had to have an actual concrete depression.  I remember the builder being upset by having to install that at his own expense.  Maybe because it was between 2 storm drains.

The new neighbor had his contractor fill it up with rocks!  Rocks like the size of a child's fist.  I didn't say a word.  I'll do almost anything to not provoke this nut into painting my fence and make me take him to small claims court.

You know what happens when you fill a low space with rocks?  Dirt blows in, leaves fall in, mowed grass falls in.  Eventually, it fills up with soil.  And when a space designed for rainwater drainage fills up, water collects.  And around here standing water means places for mosquitos to breed!

And I have to laugh.  They had 3x as much rock delivered as they needed.   Evidently, the owner or the contractor failed geometry in high school.  And do you know how hard it is to shovel irregular rocks?  It is like digging into broken bricks,  A shovel cannot get a good scoopful of irreular rocks...
But while those poor suckers were trying to spread the irregular rocks, I was working on the compost bin.  The last part (I thought) was adding 1/2" wire mesh to the top to keep varmints out.  I measured it perfectly!  It fit precisely on the top.  I found zinc screws ans washers that would hold the mesh down tightly.

Oops, on only the front and back...  Well, the stuff is so stiff, I wasn't worried about the unsupported sides.  Until I pushed only a little and it bent down several inches.  ARGGGHHH!

OK, I can fix that.  1"x3" pressure-treated wood strips will be attached under the sides and I can screw washer over that to hold the sides in place too.  And THAT will complete the project.

I wanna see a varmint try to get into THIS compost bin.  I don't care how clever some varmints are, they can't.  When I put the latch on the front of the tops, I'm not sure some PEOPLE could get into it, LOL!

An addition...  My beloved 60" Samsung plasma HDTV died last week and I might have mentioned that.  The repairman was scheduled to arrive here today between 10 AM and 2 PM.  But that was last week.  So I called them at 9:30 AM to confirm the arrival and also ask if the schedule was more firm.  It is and they say he should be here before noon and will call 30 minutes before.

I've been watching a cheap 24" TV (Sumsungm LED from Walmart and not bad for $138) for a week and it is driving me mad*.  Political news shows are just fine that way, because I only listen to them really.  But the best shows the past few days have been about outer space  and I guarantee the universe does not look as impressive on a 24" TV as on a 60" HDTV! 

Nor do baseball playoff games!  My hometown Washington Nationals have played 3 games and I can't even see where the baseball is.  It is hard enough to see the players.  With luck (assuming the 60" TV CAN be fixed), I might see them "win or go home" later today.

* I must remember/mention that the first TV I ever saw had a 10" screen and when we got a 16" TV in the 60s it seemed amazing.  We never actually knew what Lucy Ricardo looked like before that.  And, BTW, that is why animated shows like the Flintstones were popular.  The characters were drawn LARGE!

TV producers caught on to that and that's why sitcoms and dramas had lots of close-ups back then.  

Historian Mark...  

Well, the TV repairman came.  He found a crack in the screen.  He showed it to me on a handheld device.    I felt there with a fingetip and could detect it. a slight crack.  He said the screen uses a gas sealed front panel.

He mentioned that this one was about the finest plasma HDTV Samsung ever built.  I could shrug that off as a repair pitch, but Consumer Reports said so at the time and that's why I bought it. then.  So he was correct.

It is going to cost $1,000 overall, but you can't get that plasma HDTV at any price now.

And let me say that $1,000 is a large amount.  I could do other things with that money.  But I have that TV on most of the day and love the detail.  Ayla follows golf balls across the screen.  Iza watches lions.  Marley pays no attention.  

The rrepairman asured me of a few things.  Wiping the screen occassionally had caused no damage to it.  I did not cause the failure.

Sometimes things just break...

So a mew front panel is coming.  If from California, several days.  if from New York, 1 day,  He doesn't get to decide that  But he will be the one to replace it.  

If I got scammed, they did a good job.  I suspect not.  Hopefully, in a couple days, I will have a rather  excellent Plasma HDTV good for 5 years.

There are times when you can't tell if you are being played for a sucker   

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

An Incident

I was going to write about my fence tonight, but I was surprised by the sound of gunfire.

I live on a quiet dead-end street at the bottom of a neighborhood behind a department store.  No one finds there way into here by accident. 

So I suddenly heard 3 gunfire shots at 9:38 pm.  "Crack, Crack, Crack"!  And then 2 minutes later, 3 more shots closer, same Crack, Crack, Crack but louder and less echo.  I turned off the room lights and looked out through barely-parted curtains.  I saw 2 people walking down the street, seemingly unconcerned.

I called 911.  Gave them the facts, time, mentioning noticing 2 people in dark clothes.  I told them I had enough experience as a hunter to know it wasn't a shotgun or rifle.  The sharp "crack" sound suggested a handgun.  I said the sounds were too regular and sharp to be firecrackers and that the apparent distance of the sounds matched the walking speed of the 2 people I saw.  I expressed concern about poosibledomestic violence.  The 911 dispatcher said there was a related call nearby.

I always have to warn people about my street name.  I live on street "X DRIVE".  There is a street "X  COURT" nearby.  It causes confusion.  But they are close tother and it can't be hard to get from on to the other.

They said they would have a police car come by.  I said I would be glad to talk to them.  I waited...

It took 10 minutes for a car to drive down the street at somewhat high speed.   20 seconds later, just the time it would take to reach the end of the road at full speed and return, it returned with police lights on.  So I thought it was going to some other street where there had been a problem and the gunfire sounds fooled me.  Nope.

No such luck. 

After another 20 minutes, I called 911 again to ask about my report and any results.  They found my report and said the police didn't see anything.  Well, gee, at 40 mph I suppose they didn't!  They also said I hadn't asked for the police to talk to me.  I had.  I could point to directions of the initial and 2nd gunfire and the direction the 2 people walking had gone.

They also claimed there was no other report of gunfire (though they had said that in the initial call).  When they asked if I still wanted a policeman to come by and talk to me, I said there didn'r seem to be any point to a visit by that time, and the person cheerfully said "OK", and hung up.


I gave the police a report of handgun firings.  From a person who has no record of calls, problems, or complaints.  And they didn't consider it worth investigating carefully.  They did the fastest drive-by check possible, and didn't stop by to even ask questions of me as I agreed to. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Some Good Things

I complain sometimes.  Well, the things that go wrong bother me.  I don't like failures.  But some things have been going right.

1.  In spite of all my measurements for the new double compost bin,  I failed to  account for the 1/2" hardware cloth on the top accurately enough.  I missed it by an inch.  And an inch is enough for mice and even rats (though we don't have rats here to my knowledge).  A rat in the yard?  Marley would catch those easily.  LOL!

So, today, I added 3" boards to the top . I found 6" wide pressure-treated boards among my collection of excess wood.  I cut them to length and then ripped them in half the long way.  I glued and screwed them under the top frames.  That narrowed the gap to be covered with 36 inch 1/2"mesh to 32"'

Even a mouse can't get through 1/2" mesh wire.  Tomorrow, I attach the 1/2" mesh.  That will complete my compost bins.  Well, OK, I can add some chain to hold the tops at 110 degrees when lifted, but for now they can rest on the fence and that is fine.  I'm declaring the project "complete".

2.  The first compost bin is now a foot deep of kitchen waste and cut weeds.  I have a trash barrel full of old soil and dumped an inch on the top.  That will encourage worms to move there.  I am also setting a small area of good lawn covered with a tarp.  That will stay damp and encourage more worms to the surface.  And I will pound a metal stake into the edge.  When I pound it later, the worms will come the surface.  A trick I learned from Dad.  I will collect them and drop them in the compost bin where they will think they have gone to Heaven.

3.  I had the trailer full of old pressure-treated lumber from the old framed beds of 20 years ago and more from the original 25 year old compost bin.  I hesitated to bring the load to the landfill when it was raining every few days because of the mud and then just never quite got around to it this month.

I finally went there yesterday.  The landfill is more user-friendly!  Small customers like me get to just drive a few 100 feet to a dumpster and toss it in.  They haul it to the real landfill area later.  They don't want cars stuck in their mud.  And there was even a guy there to help me unload my trailer!  OK, I know he was doing "community-service work" paying for some minor crime, but he was friendly and I didn't ask for details.

4.  I took out my electric chain saw and tested it to check that the chain was properly tightened.  In the coming few days, I have 6' long  6" diameter oak logs to cut up into 1" "coins" (like cutting a carrot into round pieces) for use in the smoker,  2  dwarf apple trees to cut down (the squirrels steal all the unripe apples anyway).  More good smoker wood there.  And a bunch of shrubs I no longer want and never loved.  And there are new junk trees that have grown 5' high and must be stopped.

5.  And speaking of unwanted stuff, there are the wild blackberries covering an 1/8 acre after I removed a few trees shading the garden..  You can't win sometimes.  I am debating on how to remove them.  Cutting them down with a hedge trimmer works, but drops them all on me thorns and all and they are hard to pull off.  The chain saw is worse because it is shorter and I have to really get under them.

No brush remover company wants to accept the job.  It is either too small a job for them, or they want to use equipment too large for the area (there are spots I don't want scraped clean 6" deep because there are 100s of daffodils planted there.

I think I need crazy handyman with a steel-bladed weed whacker.

6.  I took 4 wheelbarrow-loads of garden pots out of the basement to the new shelves in the old toolshed.  Every wheelbarrow load makes the basement easier to get around in.  I am even close to being able to have a fire in the fireplace.  I have piles of old scrap wood waiting to be burned.

Between the garden stuff being moved to the toolshed shelves and the scrap wood being burned, I will have 100 more square feet of usable space.  That will be wonderful.

One small improvement every day...

7.  I made pizzas 2 nights.  Hadn't made one for a few years.     They weren't round, but they were good.  And I had dough left over, so I made a calzone filled with bell peppers, cubed smoked pork, an italian cheese blend, and crushed simmered canned tomatoes.

I've never made one before.  It was an experiment.  I made it way too stuffed and large.  Crimping the edges was tricky.  And getting it onto the pizza paddle was delicate.  But nothing broke and with the cornstarch on the paddle, it slid off onto the 400F pizza stone perfectly.

I would normally have cooked it at 500 (and the recipe DID say 400), but I had beets baking on the top shelf so I waited.  The crust was supposed to be "golden at 14 minutes".  14 minutes came and went.

I finally accepted the crust "done" after 24 minutes.  And it turned out GREAT!

On the other hand, why bother?  It is just a pizza folded in half.  I'll just make pizza more often.

Funny story:  My sister and hubby visited me 10 years ago and I made pizza then and referred to them having made it for me when I visited them a few years ago.  She kept trying to "shush" me and I didn't catch on at first.  Oops, 2nd marriage...  It was the first guy who made pizzas...  Yeah, I'm dense...

8.  The Washington Nationals baseball team won a playoff game!  They are notorious for losing them.  So when they were losing in the 8th inning 3-1 I was expecting the worst.  But when they scored 5 runs suddenly, I was shocked.  Maybe they have a chance.

I try not to refer to the home teams as "we".  I'm not on the teams.  But I'm glad when they win.   Not sure "why".  Yeah, it is a bit irrational.  Maybe it is because the core of the team are long-term members.  And it is a "built" team, not a purchased one.  Even most of the new guys are from the AAA farm clubs.  That makes an odd difference.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Less Than Great Week

My normal routines have gone entirely out of whack this past week or so.  Too many annoyances...

Let me say clearly,that my troubles are minor compared with many peoples'.  But they are MY troubles and on my mind constantly. 

1.  I just can't seem to get in tough with the owner of the neighboring property.  The contractors won't tell me (don't want to get in trouble).  The County tax records still list the previous owner and I know ownership passed to a bank and then the property was sold.

I need to talk to the actual owner or whoever is managing the contractors renovating the property.  I can't find the person, though the contractor boss says 'he".  I am worried every day they will start painting or tearing down MY fence when I'm not looking.

WHY I care if they paint it is a whole separate post and I will try to get to that soon.  Meanwhile, it is my fence on my property and I claim the right to decide how it looks.

2.  My beloved 60" plasma HDTV died Wednesday.  It just went *blink* and then nothing.  It is only 3 1/2 years old.  The soonest appointment for a repair I could get is next Wednesday.  Actually, I called Samsung for trouble-shooting advice hoping for some rebooting advice.  I didn't know that repairs on those things were even possible. 

The Sumsung service desk says it sounds like a power supply problem.  I have my doubts, since there is a little red power "on" indicator and it is lit.  But maybe there is a circuit past that which can be replaced. 

Anyway, the idea of having no TV at all for week was just too much, so I went to Walmart and bought a 24" model for $138.  Plus, I wanted tit as a test o know if it was the TV or just some cable or the cable box etc.

Right out of the box, the new little TV came right on.  It's the 60" that is having the problem.  Plus I can show that to the repair person.  Having a small TV isn't bad.  Since I have MSNBC on most of the day, I listen to TV more than I watch it.  Who needs to watch talking heads?

But The Washington Nationals baseball team are in the playoffs, and watching THAT on a small TV is annoying.  But I'm old enough to remember our first family 12" B&W TV and then years later thinking a color 20" TV was just "amazing".  So I pulled the TV stand closer to the chair and got used to it.  4 days of "tiny" TV isn't the worst thing.  Some people drink water from polluted creeks...

But I'll still be happy to see the big screen again.

3.  I mentioned a couple weeks ago getting the metal spout of a gas can stuck in the car's fuel inlet.  The dealership did the job removing it just fine.  How they did it is not something I expect to have to know for future situations, but they did suggest I have the timing belt and all drive belts replaced.  Not from wear, but due to age.  They wanted $1000 for that.  My automatic response was no because there was no actual problem.  It wasn't like they said "we looked at your timing belt and it is worn out".

But now everytime I start the car I worry.  Some problems you can see developing.  The engine is hart to start, the engine runs rough while driving, there are noises, the brakes squeal, etc.    But when a timing belt breaks, everything just STOPS all at once and nothing first. 

It's like falling off a cliff.  The falling isn't the problem.  The problem is the sudden "THUD".  A broken timing belt is a "THUD".  That happened on a previous car, and lucky that I was directly in front of a good local repair shop.  They just pushed it into the shop and replaced the timing belt in an hour!  I doubt I would be so lucky again.

I think I may pay for the whole belt assembly.  I've been lucky.  No sense pushing my luck.  The Toyota Highlander is 12 years old.  It only has about 28,000 miles on it.  But it has mostly been stop-and-go traffic commuting and local errands, and that is really hard on an engine.  I want to keep the current car running until there is a good SUV hybrid or fuel cell model available.  I like SUVs for the height and cargo capacity.  And since I don't drive much, gas mileage isn't a concern.

4.  I'm listing information about Iza to bring to the vet.  My thanks to everyone who mentioned things to ask about.  I want to talk to the vet about a plan of exams rather that just bring Iza to the vet and say "do stuff"  I want the vet to think about it, advise me of what tests he indends to perform, and them look them up before I agree. 

But I'll do anything within reason to make her life (and mine) better.  My regular vet of 30 years gets the first chance to identify her problems.  I trust him a lot because of years of good attntion but also because HE was the one who found Ayla had almost a whole ovary after the breeder's vet did 2 failed spay operations.  But he might not be so skilled/equipped at detailed tests.   I know of a certified feline specialist (an annoying hour drive away because of few bridges across a river but closest - 40 road miles, 10 as the crows fly) and will go there if my regular vet can't find the problems. 

But to be clear, the feline specialist vet wanted $1700 for exploratory surgery and my vet did it for $400.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

More New Neighbor, Part 2

I have to laugh.  When the contractors arrived at 8 am, I went over and greeted them a "good morning" and asked if the owner was around.  They said "no" but would arrive in about 20 minutes.    So I waited, and when a guy in a pickup truck arrived in 20 minutes, I went over to introduce myself.

He wasn't the owner.  The workers considered him the "owner" perhgaps because he is their boss. He wasn't actually the owner, LOL! The workers are not native-english speakers (just a fact), so I can understand that "boss" and owner" may seem very similar.

But I talked to him (the boss) and we discussed the fence, the trees shading my garden,  and where the property line actually was.  He agreed that they would not paint my fence, and that he would give the card I had made with the my name, address, phone number and email to the actual owner (but he feared giving me the same information would get him in trouble).  I understand contractors can be cautious about that.

The main thing is that he seemed to understand the fence was not their's to paint and he would have the actual owner contact me by email or phone.  Hopefully, that will start a discussion.  I understand the new owner wants a particular look on the inside of his yard.  But I equally want an exterior view of the outside of mine.  A besides, it IS my fence. 

But until I get some assurance from the actual owner that he won't just tell his contractor to paint the fence anyway, I won't be sure.

It will be interesting to see what happens next.  I want the new owner to contact me be email so that it is all on the record.  If he calls on the telephone, I will insist on a followup email about what we discuss.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

More New Neighbor

I stepped out on the deck this morning, and noticed the contractors were spray-painting the inside surfaces of all the fences around the yard.  Fortunately, they started on the far side from me.

The new owner doesn't actually own any of those fences.  They were all built by neighbors.  The only fence the new owner owns is the small amount from the side of the house to the other fences.

I might be the only person who knows that.  AFAIK, I am the only person residing here who knows who built the fences.  All the neighbors are newer than me.  So maybe they don't care.  But I do.

I deliberately set my fence 1' inside the property line.   I did that partially because my Dad said it would give me the right to repair the outside of my fence if I had a difficult neighbor.  But it also occurred to me that the neighbors could mess with my fence claiming a shared ownership.

Which means they couldn't damage it with trellises, hooks for planting vines that would dig into it, huge hooks from the fence to a tree for hammocks (one tried), or paint it.  That 1' beyond the fence is still MINE, for access for repairs and not damaging the fence.

So I walked into the neighbor yard and asked the contractor if he intended to paint the MY fence.  He said that was his instructions.  I  asked for the telephone number of the owner. He claimed not to have it or be able to get it.  I advised him that the fence between the properties was ENTIRELY on my property and they were not allowed to paint, replace boards, or do anything connecting to my fence.

He repeated that he had instructions.  I declared I would have the police here promptly if they touched my fence in any way.  That stopped him.  I told him to have the owner visit or contact me to discuss the matter.

I have a few ideas and facts respecting property here and in general.

1.  There is no neighborhood association here.  That is a MAJOR reason I stay.  I want the freedom to do as I please.

2.  I have lived here 30 years and neighbors come and go every 5 years or so.  I pay little attention to them so long as they don't throw loud late-night parties or get into screaming domestic violence fights at 3 am.  Both have happened with some neighbors frequently.

3.  You can't touch my property.  Including the fence,

4.  My view of my property from the outside (street and from the neighbors' views) are mine to control.  I control what people view from the street about my house.  I equally control how they see the OUTSIDE of my fence (and mentioning again the fence is all set in 1' from the property line, so the fence is ALL MINE)!

That also means the neighbors have to see my fence (on my property) as I choose to present it. They don't get to paint it to suit them.

5.  I like natural wood and earthen tones.   I can enforce that on my OWN fence.

Can't wait to see what happens tomorrow.

I've tried to identify the new owner, to nor success.  The County tax assessment site show the owner as the the guy who abandoned the house a year ago.  A bank owned it after him and it sold the property to an individual.  I can't identify the actual owner at this point.  County records seem to be almost a year out of date.

I might be open to some negotiations.  There are some junk trees that shade my garden that could be removed if the roots are grinded out and not allowed to grow back.  There is a specific mulberry tree (that they pruned heavily but will grow out more branches in respose) that I would like to see removed entirely (roots ground out for thorough killing) that shades another part of my yard.. 

If the new owner agrees to do that, I might allow the painting of the outside of my fence. 


Sunday, October 1, 2017

My Crazy New Neighbor

The foreclosed hose next door has had contractors there for 3 or 4 months now.  I appreciated the clearing of some trees.  The original contractors wouldn't tell me who the owner is.  OK, I don't blame them.  They might get in trouble. 

But this week, they painted the bricks on the front of the house.  Its a color I'm not sure how to describe.  "Dried Blood" seems closest.

Then they planted some evergreens in the front.  2' away from the foundation and 3' apart.  After they left, I saw the labels were still on the plants.  Arborvitae Smarang or something like that.  It will grow 15' tall and 5' wide.  LOL!

I really can't wait to meet this person.  Either they are a totally whacko, or they may be the most "interesting" neighbor ever. 

And I say that cautiously because the lady next door on the other side has metallic frizzy purple hair and wears only black.

There has been pounding going on there for 2 months.  I haven't been able to think of any renovation requiring 2 months of hammering.  The truck in the driveway always says "Cabinets".  Maybe they are digging down and building a really fancy "end of world" shelter complete with rec room, LOL!.

The tree-cutting was interesting.  First, the workers cut all the branches of the overgrown apple tree below 10'.  And then a couple scrub trees (that weren't shading my yard). 

Then a week later they cut it down entirely.  I tried to ask them for them if I could have the wood (apple wood, smoker grill, good flavor) but none of them spoke English.

Somewhere in there, the owner must have been around, but I couldn't just stand there shouting "hello" all day.  When whoever it is moves in, I'll probably recognize he/she/them.  Oh for all I know it will be the cabinet truck guy doing work for himself..

No problem, just I'd like to talk to the owner before they get all settled and decide they love that tree I want cut.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Week In The Life.

Some of you know that I don't live a regulary-scheduled life, LOL!

So here is the past Tuesday through Saturday:

1.  Stayed up all night Tuesday 8pm - Thursday 8 am visiting cat blogs, processing camera pictures, and shifting between a gardening forum and an atheist forum.  Yeah, that 36 hours.  Went through a 1.5 l bottle of wine and 4 packs of cigs (hey, it WAS 36 hours). 

2.  Visiting my cat-friends takes about 2 hours, and then I get email notifications to new posts and I comment.  I always comment.

3.  I love reading posts at the gardening site and spent a total of a few hours there.  Sometimes there are questions I know something about and I answer.  I've been veggie and flower gardening for a few decades, so I have some experience.  I I have a good library to consult when I'm not sure.  I consulted my Peterson Guide of Eastern Trees when somewhere was trying to identify the specific one in her back yard.  It was one I have never seen, but the leaf shape was unique, so I mentioned it.

Sometimes there is new information I value.  Sometimes I ask questions.  I am new to growing Venus Fly Traps (for example) , so I'm the one asking questions there. 

4.  The atheist forum takes a lot of time.  There are atheists, agnostics, and theists there, and many of the posts are long and factual.  It takes some time to reply to those well.  I probably spend a lot of time there.  I joined this forum October last year and have over 4500 posts there now. 

Mostly, I discuss everyday events with other atheists.  Yes, atheists discuss almost everything from politics to cooking, to movies.  But it does mean we don't have a religious view on them.  Atheists may have a more reality-based approach to life, but we also love sci-fi and can do the "willing suspension of disbelief" as well as anyone if not better.

5.  I tend to switch back between the gardening and atheist forums.  I use up all the threads in one and go back to the other.  I don't mean that I post fast.  I give a lot of thought to each.  My interest is to answer posts carefully, well, and in detail without be overly long.

You can always tell tell the theists' posts by length.  They go on forever before they start quoting religious texts to get to their point.    I treat them kindly, with facts.  They can decide whether to change their minds if they want. 

6.  After a long time on the computer, I usually feed the cats (yes I fed them regularly before) but always make sure to feed them a good meal before I go to bed.  Because staying up that long means I'll sleep 12 hours after.

7.  When I got up Friday, I started on making a hinged top for the new compost bin.  Sometimes you build things by measurement.  But having the compost bin built, I simply put boards on the top and marked the edges for cutting.  Friday, I cut a lot of boards to size.  I glued and clamped some but even with mosquito repellent all over me, they were fierce around my eyes and fingers.  I worked fast and ran.

8.  Saturday afternoon (after another 12 hours in bed- I did have to catch up)  I went out to complete the top.  Fortunately, it was windy and the mosquitoes have trouble with winds over 10 mph.  I got the entire top structure completed.  OK, not the screening, the wood structure.  The hinging was perfect.  The 2 bins now have tops that lift up smoothly.  All I have to do now is attach 1/2 wire mesh to the top and add a few spacer boards under it.  That will leave no space for even a mouse to get inside.

9.  Added a lot more garden stuff into the old toolshed with the new shelves.  Every day, I will clear more basement space.  Weeded the Fall garden a bit.  Not many weeds left.  A year of weeding as removed most and I suspect there aren't many viable weed seeds left there.  Which means I can FINALLY tackle the part of the backyard overgrown with wild blackberries soon.

There is always SOMETHING that needed attention "last year", and I am always behind on some part of the yard.  On the other hand, suppose I caught up with everything?  What would I do?  OK, fix up the house better...

I'll do that when Winter arrives...