email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Surprise Storm

It's one thing to have a 40% chance of a thunderstorm and quite another what we had here this afternoon.

I am glad I took pictures of the first 2 daffodil blooms and a few new crocuses before the storm.

 Because they aren't there now...

The rain started a bit sooner than forecast, but that was no great surprise.  Maryland, being between the Appalchians and the Chesapeake Bay east/west, and the northern and southern weather patterns, is considered one of the trickier areas of the US for weather forecasting.  We get unexpected swirls from all directions.

I was appreciating that there would be some rain; we have had only about 1/2" so far this year.  So I was watching the first few raindrop.  Then the hail came down!

We don't get hail often here and it is usually the size of peas when we do.  It falls straight down, bounces around oddly and lasts about 5 minutes.  The hail around here is usually the size of peas; this stuff was grape-sized.  Not much compared to what some people get elsewhere, but surprize is whatever is more than you are used to. 

Today, we had a hail-blizzard!  I've seen snow going almost sideways in serious blizzards before, but I have never seen hail do that.  The hail didn't bouncely politely of the roof; it smashed into the windows and doors.  It was so heavy (briefly) that it just looked like a thick fog outside (moving rapidly sideways).

The sound was deafing on the side of the house facing the wind and I am hoping that when I can see it in the daylight, there is no dented or broken siding.  It was exciting in an odd way (meaning I couldn't stop it, so might as well observe it for the experience).

And then the power went off.  It came on a few seconds, went off a few seconds, and then went off for 3 hours. 

It wasn't yet dark enough to need candles, but I did go around the house and collect battery-powered stuff in case it lasted a while.  I have several radios with rechargeable batteries,  a couple lights that operate off cigarette plug in cars, 2 portable battery packs with plugable outlets, several maxlite flashlights, and even a crankable emergency radio.  And multiple-wick emergency candles.  We do sometimes have hurricanes here.  And I always make sure to have dry wood and a couple bags of charcoal for cooking outside if things get bad for more than a day. 

I am SO boy-scoutish...  LOL!

The radio said we had wind gusts up to 60 mph and heavy hail.  There was a possible tornado reported nearby, so the wind gusts made sense.  I don't keep a rain gauge up in Winter so I don't know how much precipitation fell, but in the 30 minute storm the drainage easement was running higher than I have seen it for years.  I a thankful for 2 things about that.  First, that I raised the level of my lawn around it by 2' 3 years ago, and second, that I got the County out here to clean the imbedded debris in the storm drain at the end of the easement.  Otherwise, the street would have been inundated!  Even so, my front lawn near the street had standing water a foot deep.  Even a storm drain has finite draining capacity.

There is temporary damage.  The only 2 first 2 daffodil flowers were crushed, I think most of the crocuses are beaten down.  Perhaps most sadly, I lost a few 100 saucer magnolia buds that were about to bloom due to the warm weather of the past weeks.  I'll take heart that so many are left.  And the unopened daffodil buds seem undamaged.  Flowers are fragile; buds are tight and tough.

The deck...
The new edged front island...
The backyard...
Keeping to good thoughts as much as possible, the hail will melt slowly into the ground.  The ground needs water. 

The power came back on in time for me to re-heat a pre-cooked frozen meal (pulled pork with jalapeno peppers in roasted tomato sauce with noodles) and M/W sweet potato and a big tossed salad.  Good thing too, because I was staring at a can of beef chili and considering using the hibachi to heat it...

What irritates me the most (aside from the loss of the saucer magnolia buds really) is that I was JUST going to the basement to plant my tomatoes and peppers and cole crops when the power went out. 

And stranger?  It is dribbling hail.  Just started as I typed the last sentence...

Thursday, February 23, 2017


slam the microwave oven door when you are annoyed at the news... It can stop working. 

So here I am with a selection of frozen meals (all home-made) to select from.  I'm not even sure I remember HOW to thaw and re-heat a frozen cooked turkey drumstick.  I haven't actually BAKED a potato in 15 years  (Nuke it 5 minutes, instant "baked" potato).

The cats are horrified: "How will he heat our canned food", they wail (sit can in hot tap water for 5 minutes. 

 I can't imagine reheating a turkey drumstick wrapping it in foil for 30 minutes.  It seems so wasteful of energy.  Maybe I'll simmer it in broth in a pan on the stovetop.  Or maybe I should finally order a pizza for delivery.  Do they still do that (its been a few years)?

I've ordered a new one and should arrive Saturday.  Just actually heating water in a pan tomorrow for my morning green tea is going to seem odd...

I better turn on the oven if I want to eat tonight...  LOL!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Outside

Today was even better than yesterday!  It reached 70 in midday!  I spread more compost in the wildflower bed.  I went light on it yeterday, not knowing how fr it would go, but I barely used 1/5 of the trailerful, so I was more generous today.

I have about 1/2" overall now and enough left to cover the seeds when I broadcast them tomorrow plus some to spread VERY lightly over them afterwards.  The need light to germinate, so they relly only want a sprinkle on top. 

And THAT leaves half the trailerload of compost for use elsewhere!  I have an surfeit of compost and what gardener does not want more compost? 

I will spread the remainder on the Spring Bulb bed.  As the worms work in into the soil, it will feed the bulbs roots and make them stronger next year. 

And I have good news about the bulbs!  I went to a lot of effort in Fall 2015 to plant tulip and hyacinth bulbs in wire cages to protect them from voles and squirrels.  The tulips came up fine.  But not a single hyacinth emerged.  I was ready to dig up the hyacinth cages and replant last Fall, but decided to with them another year.  Sometimes bulbs take some time to grow roots, and I had planted the hyacinths late.

Guess what I saw today?  Hyacinth shoots emerging from the soil!  I don't know how many will emerge and bloom, but however many come up will be good.  And THIS year, I will cover the spots where they grow with cardboard cut to size so that I will know where not to dig this year. 

And I am thrilled to see daffodils emerging from 2 years ago AND last Fall's plantings.  Just this one bed should have 4x as many as last Spring.  I now have 200 early daffodils, 200 mid-season daffodils, and 200 late-season daffodils!  Plus the usual old plantings of various daffodils around the backyard. 

I prefer tulips and hyacinths for color, but you can't beat daffodils for dependability.  I have some that are 30 years old now and still blooming.

And I've seen the first tulip leaves showing up. More than I thought I would have.  The wire cages seem to work as protection against the voles.  The unusually warm weather is bringing them up sooner than usual.  If it gets cold again, I will cover them.  But it is sure good to see them emerging again.  Tulips are my favorite flowers.  Especially the multicolored ones. 

Daffodils and hyacinths can't match THAT!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Another Nice Day Outside

I can't believe the mild weather we are having here.  It reached 70F here and in generally forecast to stay in the upper 50s to low 70s for about 10 days, never dropping below freezing.  This is weird.  It's MID- FEBRUARY!  There should be snow on the ground and daffodils huddled just below the surface waitibg fir decent weather so they can emerge in March.

Well, I'll take advantage of the nice weather!  Today, I spread compost over the wildflower bed.  Wildflowers are new to me, and as they are generally self-sowing (hence "wildflower").  Apparently all, the seeds want is want is some soft soil to land on so they can get sunlight to germinate and grow. 

I spread compost thinly today.  It went so well, I think I will spread more tomorrow.  I have had this neat gadget for that for 25 years and seldom used it.  It is a wire mesh barrel on a handle.  You fill it with compost and pull it around.  It distributes the compost evenly and thinly.

I could have dumped compost on the new wildflower bed and raked it around, I could have dumped compost on the new wildflower bed and raked it around,
Peak Seasons 25A Compost Spreader, Green - 18 x 24 in.

I could have dumped compost on the new wildflower bed and raked it around,  but there are some wildflowers from last years seeds and I didn't want to injure them.  The thin layer of of compost spread by this just rolls over them.  I can add more, I think.

Then I'll spread the seeds with a handheld spreader.
Handheld Broadcast S…
You mix up the small amount of seeds with sand or vermiculite of bulk to help with even distribution. 

I'm cheating a bit.  I also bought separate seed mixes for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.  Those won't last many years but will get things started faster and shade out the grassy weeds. 

More Even Randomer Thoughts

1.  Star Trek: Voyager joke - He was SO dumb, they called him 9 of 7...  If you get that one, let me know.

2.  So I was randomly checking out channels and found Star Trek: Voyager, and got the first episode with 7 of 9.  Watched it of course.  Cool about "being human and not".  And how one can not be either at some point.

3.  Then realized that they were showing the episodes IN ORDER, so I had to watch more.

4.  THEN realized that there were very basic themes like in the original Star Trek.  Really, I never got into Voyager at the time.  Loved Janeway and Tuvok et al, but couldn't watch a "voyage of the damned" so to speak.  Bad timing for my karma at the time.  I like it better now in my peaceable older age.  Makes more sense.

5.  Kes and 7 were both demanding the right to chose paths.  Kes to expand her conciousness and leave; 7 to return to Borg if she didn't like "human life".  Janeway was arguing opposite decisions for each one.  Fixed it, of course.  Kes left, 7 stayed.

6.  Then next episode, Betanna (sp) and 7 were both struggling with issues of aloneness.  One half Klingon and one trying out humanity.

7.  And BTW of the above, not unlike Fry and Leela on Futurama both "out of place".

8.  I understand them...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Grocery Store Frustrations

I shop mostly at one grocery store.  They have the most extensive variety and the best quality (until you get to organic stores where broccoli is $9/lb).  But it has a few habits that drive me crazy. 

The first is minor.  They offer strawberries at $3/lb at the front of the store and $4/per 2lbs further back.  I can deal with that trickery.  I just leave my 1lb container among the 2lb containers so they know I switched.  Minor sneakiness...

Another habit is mixing up produce.  They have Granny Smith apples labeled Yellow Delicious (They suppose any apple that isn't red must be "yellow"?) .  The parsnips were labelled "rutabagas" today.  The individual bags of fresh spinach, collards, kale, and cut cabbage were are labelled "collards at $3lb even they they were actually 3 different prices. 

Worse, when you can FIND a produce clerk and ask a question, they always have to take a sample back the storage area to check.  It's because they don't know what the produce is and have to ask the Produce Manager.  Most of them have never eaten half the stuff they sell. 

The worst habit is lack of pricing labels.  It drives me crazy!  I go to the store with a list, but I'm always open to good deals.  Conversely, if what I have on my list is expensive, I'll change.  I like almost all veggies and fruits, so I can shift.

More than once, I have found the actual Produce Manager out on the floor and led him in a brief tour of all the several above errors.  I suppose I am annoying...

Today it got seriously annoying.  I like yellow peaches over white ones.  Yellow ones separate from the pit easily and are sweeter.  The bin had 2 shelves and one label marked "yellow peaches". $2/lb  One shelf had smaller riper peaches than the other shelf.  I chose mostly those, but there were a few larger ones that seemed ripe, too.  I also bought some plums.

At checkout, I watch the register display carefully.  The clerks punch in the product codes from memory (and they are quite good at it but not infallible.  When there is an error, the price is usually the same and I don't care.  Sometimes it is computer errors back at the programming center.  If THEY somehow call item #4043 white peaches instead of yellow peaches I don't care if the price is right.

But today was weird.  I bought a bag of peaches and a bag of plums.  As I pushed the cart away, I noticed the receipt said I had plums, peaches and nectarines.  So I pointed that out the the cashier.  What followed was 15 minutes of confusion...

Taking the plums out of the picture, I was charged twice for my peaches.  Seems straightforward, but they were different weights and prices.  Well, the cashier had been having a problem with the scale.

We finally figured out (to the extreme annoyance of the other people waiting in line) that my bag of peaches had both yellow and white peaches (from a single bin that had 2 shelves and only one label).

I know this cashier. She is a very nice friendly and helpful person.  But she is easily confused by problems. 

I suggested the easiest way to resolve the confusion.  Refund me for the nectarine charge, refund me for the mixed bag of yellow and white peaches, and I would just go buy another bag of all-yellow peaches (now knowing the product code) and I would pay for them separately in an express line.  She said she could do the refund action easily.  Nope! 

That was too confusing...  She had to go to another cashier several times for every step.  (Where was the cashier manager?")

If the glares from the customers behind me in line could kill, I would not be writing this post now...

It eventually all got sorted out and fixed.  But the whole problem was created because the Produce people can't manage to keep their produce labelled!

And there is an afternote:  I had 4 cloth shopping bags.  2 are cheap store crap.  2 were cherished handmade gifts from a deceased sister.  I know I had them in my cart when I went in the store.  One was missing at the checkout.  Someone snatched one the the bags while I was shopping...  The service desk said none were turned in but I will check again next time. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Wristwatch, Part 2

I still miss the look of the old Phasar watch.  And I'm keeping it in case I find a good repair site.  Not that I expect to, but the little watch doesn't take up much space in a drawer I keep weird stuff in.

Here is a picture of the new watch from the selling site...
Casio Men's Illuminator Digital Watch

Ignore the resin watchband; that's what I tore off.  But do note that the display shows time to seconds, day and date above, and 'PM" to the left of the time (not shown).  I don't have to push any buttons to know everything I want from a watch.

There is still too much unnecessary junk wording around the top and bottom,  but that was the simplest I could find.

The new band is a double velcro type that is hard to find.  But it is also black, and that suits me.

I expect to have to change the battery soon.  Very oddly, the watch came with a notice that the installed battery was for testing and evaluation and may not last as long as a new commercial battery.   Somehow, they managed not to mention that on the sales site.   Well, that's OK, I have the tools to replace it.

I am actually quite pleased with the new watch.  Black suits me, the small amount of blue is not especially obvious in daylight, and the replaced velcro is soft and comfortable. 

Here are pictures of the assembled watch and bands...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Wrist Watch

I have been wearing the same wristwatch for about 40 years.  It is so old, there isn't even one on ebay.  It is a Sears Phasar digital watch.  There is a Phasar 1000 and a Phasar 2000, but not the original unnumbered one. 

I love that watch.  It loses about a second per day, but it does NOTHING other than show time and day/date.  But is a little line at the bottom that underlines the day of week.  There are 2 buttons.  One selects something to change, the other changes it.

Simple, straightforward, and the buttons are so small you can't activate them by accident.  It was a gift from my parents the day I got my first career job in 1975.  I have had the battery replaced about once a year, and every 10 years, the velcro band has worn out and I replace that with my favorite watch band "sharkleash".  It has 2 velcro straps, so working while wearing it, it doesn't loosen.  Watch and band are so part of me.

The watch finally died.  Well, gee, who would imagine a cheap digital watch from 1975 would only last 40 years?  ;)  A jeweler replaced the battery and it only worked when cold; arm-warmth stopped it.  So, time to replace it...

WAAAHHHHH!!!!  I loved that watch...

But everything good goes away eventually, so I looked for a decent replacement.  I learned that I hate all modern watches.  They DO too much.  Alarm features, Stopwatch features.  Even "foreign time zone" features whatever that is.

All I want is time, day, and date.  And small is good.  I don't want some big clunker on my arm.  I would happily wear a "ladies" watch, but they are too small.  Having to put on my reading glasses just to read the watch sort of defeats the purpose.

So I found one that didn't have too many features (and WOW had the sharkleash band), and it arrived a couple of weeks ago.  I struggled for 2 hours to program it.  The manual was only on line and deciding which manual to use was iffy.  No specific model identifications on any of the manuals.   Utter frustration.

I barely got it to show time, but every time I touched the darn thing, it seemed to change displays.  I got permission to return it to Amazon.

But before I did that, I really had to find a better one.  I found one that seemed better at Sears, a Casio Illuminator with a simple resin watch band.  It had fewer features and one less side button.  I went to Sears and bought it.  But I hate the watchband.  Its a buckle type and I LOVE the velcro type.  But it just takes popping the watchband pins and replacing the band.

Wrong!  This watchband doesn't have the old removable pins.  The pin is solid and would not be removed.  Internet searches suggested you could just push the pins out, but these were unpushable.


I have a set of watch repair tools.  They didn't get the solid non-spring pins out.  OK, I have bigger tools.  With a small slot screwdriver, I bent the damned pins and pulled them loose with a vise-grip plier.  I was only risking $16 if I destroyed the watch anyway.

The watch repair tool kit has, among other things, a bag of dozens of spring watch pins.  I found 2 that would fit in place of the solid rod pins.

So I ripped the damned solid pins loose and that got the stupid resin buckle band off.  My sharkleash band was wider than the watch so I used a pair of surgical scissors I got from the doctor who removed my appendix in 1968 (I keep everything that seems useful) and cut a notch in the sharkleash band to fit.

It only took 15 minutes of fighting with the spring-pins to get them in.

But now I have the simple straight-forward cheap digital watch I preferred on the watch band I preferred.  It only took 2 online orders, a trip to the local Sears store, and about 3 total hours of work, but I have what I wanted.

For $16 for the Casio watch and $15 for the watch tool kit, I can return the $49 clunky watch I hated to Amazon for free.  And I don't care about the money.

I'm a persistent type, LOL!  I got what I wanted at the end...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Storm Drain

I have the misfortune to live at the bottom of a gradually-sloping neighborhood.  There are several drainage easements ending on my street.  The major 2 both combine at my yard in deep-well storm drains.  One works fine.  The other brings an unending supply of tree debris and general trash down.

When I chose this lot 30 years ago, I considered many things.  A drainage easement wasn't one of those things I had any knowledge of.  I SAW it, of course.  It seemed to work fine.

I signed the construction contract and moved in on Labor Day 1986.  The month after, the serious Fall rains hit and the drain got covered with loose twigs, branches and debris.  I cleaned the covering grate off each time. 

It got worse as years went by.  After a hurricane, the entire street around my house was covered by drainwater.  I got really tired of cleaning the drain top.  When I called the County office back then, they told me the property owners were responsible for that.  The drainage easement is exactly on the property line, so my neighbors were equally responsible.  But their lawn was 2' higher than mine, so I got all the water; they didn't care.  So I had to keep it clean in self defense.

One year, the drain top got cleaned mysteriously and I thanked my neighbor.  They said they "knew a guy" at the County and he arranged for the cleaning as a favor but only that one time.

They moved out and another couple moved in.  So the County "in" was lost.  I asked the County on several occasions for help in cleaning the drain.  No luck.

3 weeks ago, I asked again, using an online site.  Imagine my surprise when I glanced out my front windows and saw an unfamiliar reflection of the storm grate top!  The County had come by and scraped it clean and made some further digging to improve drainage! 

I didn't even hear them doing it!




Friday, February 10, 2017

Absorbant Dish Towels

I bought various types of dish towels over the years.  None of them (100% cotton or not) would wipe water cleanly.  I was frustrated.

But I knew something that would!  Old cotton t-shirts.  Cleaned every drop of water in a single wipe!  So I decided to convert them.  And you can too!

Tools:  Pinking shears, 2 identical sized pieces of plywood, 4 clamps, old worn cotton t shirts.

The pinking shears were a laugh.  I recalled my mom decades ago mentioning to me that they were for making cloth cuts that didn't fray.  So I went to a craft store and asked for one.  They had no idea what I was describing.  The clerk brought me to the fabric expert.  She thought they were for decorative cuts.  I actually had to demand to know where the scissors were.

I found a pinking shear (Fiskars, good brand).  It said right on the package :for non-fraying cuts".  I showed it to the "expert".  She was surprised.

Where do they find these people?  It was a specialty store!

Anyway, I went home with the pinking shears.

I cut 2 pieces of plywood (plywood stays flat) smaller than the T shirts. The identical size is important.

So, I placed a plywood board on a bench (raised for easy rotation).
Placed a T shirt on top
And the other plywood board on top.

Clamped them hard on the corners.

Cut around the edges of the plywood...

Voila' - 2 pieces of non-fraying cotton dishtowels...

I have 12 of them.  Just the first has stayed unfrayed and amazingly absorbent after a week's use.  They aren't for cleaning, just water-wiping.  Use those bad dishtowels for cleaning.

I am quite pleased with myself.

Besides, I hated the grey T shirts, LOL!

My next project is a mailbox delivery notification device.  There are commercial products and some DIY devices I've seen online.  I can do better.

UPDATE:   Megan asked a good question in her comment (as she so often does):  "Why was it so important to you to cut the cloths the same size?"

Answer:  It wasn't; it was only an outcome of my process.  To explain...

I cut a piece of plywood sized to maximize the area of usable T-shirt (4th picture above, avoiding the seams at the arms and neck).  I cut an identical sized piece of plywood in order to hold the T-shirt firmly between the 2 pieces.

I did THAT only so that I could cut cut the cloth easily using the edges of the plywood as a guide.

The result was identical-sized pieces of cloth from each T-shirt .  Not important, just the result...

I hope that clarifies things.  :)


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Groundhog Day

It's a little late, but I had some thoughts about Groundhog Day.  I know the basics.  It started in Europe with Germanic tribes paying attention to when Bears and Beavers came out of hibernation.

And there were folk-sayings about "If the shadows are bright on Candlemas Day, Winter will be long" (Candlemas Day was halfway through Winter same as Groundhog Day is).

Somewhere along the line, the beavers and the shadows and Candlemas Day 1/2 through Winter got connected.

And let me note that Groundhog Day results are completely random in results.  There is a 33% random chance of the groundhog being "right", and it actually is 37% (no meaningful difference).

But what really confuses me is why bother with the groundhog.  People cast shadows too.  So why not just step outside and see if you have a shadow YOURSELF?  Do people think the groundhog will have a shadow and THEY won't?   LOL!

What?  It's just a fun thing to do?  Oh.  OK, "never mind"...

Monday, February 6, 2017

Computer Software

When I worked, the office used Windows, so I kept my home computer to match it.  When I retired, I switched to Mac software because my home Windows software kept crashing.  At work, the network kept Windows working (mostly).  At home,  it crashed daily.

So I learned the Mac software.  The office-type software (Pages and Numbers) are AWFUL!  Few of the features I was used to on Windows.  Let's just say I am a control-freak about arranging things in documents and Mac software didn't provide what I was accustomed to.

So I bought Windows Office 2008 for Mac (in 2008) and thought I was back in familiar territory.  Wrong!  Windows Office for Mac had more features than Mac software but less than Windows on a Windows computer.  I sufferred with it, setting my old Windows computer up as a stand-alone for special projects.

Then last year, Windows Office for Mac simply stopped working.  It wanted to be re-installed.  Memory said that I downloaded it online, but I checked all my software boxes just in case.  I couldn't find it.

I could have bought a new version, but everything new is now an annual subscription and I resent that.  So I sufferred with Pages and Numbers...

And THEN, I found a dusty box lost behind other stuff at the back of a shelf.  Windows Office for Mac 2008!   Hurray.  I reloaded it.  Now I have it back.  I still can't do all the things I want to, but more than I could with just Mac software.

Example:  One thing I am very used to doing is copying website or word document charts into Excel so I can make changes.  Things like sports schedules or garden-planting documents in column format that have TMI so I can delete the junk.  Copying into Mac Numbers or Pages won't do that; copying into Windows Excel will.  So a chart with teams, dates, TV channel, logos, ratings, site , etc can be reduced to date and channel.  Hurray!

Example:  I love to make cards in Excel.  Excel lets you import pictures, rotate them, draw, add borders, all kinds of stuff.  I missed that.  It's why I didn't send home-made cards this year.  Now I can again!  Hurray.

Mac almost never crashes, but the software I use most does less (I do love iPhoto though).  Windows software on a PC does more, but crashes.  Windows Office for Mac is mostly better parts of both.

I am thrilled to have it back and working.  I changed a 3 page University of Maryland Mens and Women's basketball schedule to a 1/3 page that fits on the refrigerator...  Next up is drawing the framed beds in my garden so I can can print out blanks for writing where the veggies will go in Spring.

It may not matter to anyone but me, but I feel insanely pleased about that right now.  LOL!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Random Thoughts

Sometimes connections occur to me.  Sometimes they make sense, sometimes not.

1.  I watched a new commercial a few days ago for Butterfingers.  It mentioned "crispety, crunchy".  And I immediately thought, no that should be "crispety, chrunchity", for logical verbal balance.  And sure enough, at the end, it said "crispety, chrunchity".  I may have missed my calling in life.

2.  My garden seeds finally arrived in the mail.  I have a boatload of new ones.  Well, my old seeds weren't going to last forever even refrigerated in sealed containers.
Sometimes, you HAVE to buy new ones even when there are still old ones in the fridge.  Germination rate is always important.

3.  I've been designing a new compost bin.  Yeah, any circle of wire actually works, but I like to build things and I put almost ANYTHING that will degrade into the compost.  Some of it attracts pests.  So it is time to make one they can't get into.

It is a 2-bin system.  The sides and back are hardware mesh wire, the front is removable slats.  I made one for a friend in 1992 with dado cuts for angled front slats.  It was amazing (and BTW, I saw it copied in a gardening magazine 6 months later) but it was some unnecessary work.  I figured out a better one.  But it is just the design right now, since I can't actually build it in the frozen soil right now.  But it is good to have all the parts figured out now.

4.  I clipped some azalea stems 3 years ago when I had a ridge leveled.  Some were white, some red, some purple.  They won't grow in the small planter cells, so I need to transplant them to larger ones.  But some bloomed a few days ago.
I have a corner of the back yard where nothing is growing but weeds; they will go there.

5.  The old perennial flower bed is going to become a cottage garden.  Random flowers that self-sow everywhere.  I have NO idea how it will work out, but there will be pictures regardless.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Yard Work

I've been busy outside in the unusually decent January weather.  We went 10 days here without it getting below freezing and THAT is a rare event.  The average low temp is 26F here now.

So I took advantage of the weather and got a trailer-load of compost from a local nursery.  I load the stuff into buckets in a yard cart and use the riding mower to haul it to the destination.  Buckets are easier to dump than shovelfuls...

And spread it out.  There are some weeds poking up, but most will be smothered.
This is where I planted annuals for several years, but this year it will be for heirloom tomatoes.  Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, and a few new ones.  The cages are ready to use.

I have been meaning to set up an island planting are in the front yard for 20 years.  I planted that saucer magnolia tree and the big rock there years ago with the island idea in mind.  I FINALLY got around to doing the island edging. 
 I was amazed at how well digging the slot for the edging went.  When I moved here 30 years ago, the soil was all clayish.  Planting crocuses 3" deep in the lawn was a struggle.  But I have been leaving the lawn clippings stay on the lawn all those years.  It really matters!  My edging spade went down 6"with almost no effort.  30 years, 6" of good soil!
The neighbor has a maple tree planted between our houses.  Maples are nice trees, but not next to houses.  They have surface roots and are famously foundation-breakers.   I mentioned that to the previous neighbor and they cut the tree down.  But maples are hard to kill and it came back with multiple trunks.  I should have poured Roundup on it when first cut down to kill it, but I assumed it would die on its own.

Bitter laughter...  It came back as a multiple-trunked tree.  I am going to use my "Saws-All" to cut the roots at the property line this Spring, pour in some Roundup hoping to kill the tree, and put cuttings of leftover edging against the roots hoping to keep then from regrowing to the existing roots in my yard.

But meanwhile, the tree dropped all its leaves.  I had 2 thoughts.  First, the heavy layer of leaves would kill all the grass on my side yard and the neighbors.  The neighbor abandoned the house in foreclosure, BTW...

Second, I would have to look at all the dead grass on the neighbor's lawn (I raked all the leaves from my lawn).  So, I raked up all his leaves too.  He doesn't care; he is gone.  And I could use them...

I filled up the edged area around the Saucer Magnolia after I set in the edging, and I will move the leaves I raked up from my yard to add to that. 
And then I will add 3" of compost from the nursery on top.  Compost on top of decomposing leaves; the worms will love it!

I'll plant some deer-resistant annuals there this Spring, but the main plan is to fill the bed with daffodils, ivy, and any perennials that deer don't like.

And anything that means less mowing is always good!