email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Productive Stuff

Some days I just have to catch up on household stuff.  And yesterday and today were good for that.  I let things collect sometimes and then get through them all at once.

I made bread today AND rolls.  I make bread every couple of weeks.  I've tweaked the bread machine recipe until I LOVE my own bread and visitors who have any comment in surprise at the taste (yes, I'm bragging).  I use beer instead of water; and I add 2 tbls of dried oregano and a tbls each of garlic powder and onion powder.  It really makes a difference!  Making rolls is a bit new to me so I follow the recipe exactly, but I will probably start changing the ingredients in those too.  Bread and rolls freeze wonderfully, so I can store them.

The IRS sent me a notice that I owed them some money a couple of weeks ago.  I was surprised since I use tax software.  The notice didn't say exactly why.  I called them yesterday and got to an agent after 45 minutes on hold.  After going around in circles a few minutes with IRS terminology, I finally realized that I had simply forgotten to include a CHECK for the amount I owed above the withholding.  50 years of paying taxes and I finally messed up!

I figured out why afterwards.  I had intended to use the electronic payment the software offerred but decided not to because of the fee.  And then sent the tax form the next day thinking I had paid electronically.  At least the penalty was only $13.

Next on the list was a recurring fee on my credit card for an anti-virus software for the Windows computer I bought in March and then promptly stopped using because I like Apple better.  Researching the company, I found a number to call with questions.  The area code made me suspicious, so I looked up the software name and discovered it was a scam.

The recurring fee was $8.99 per month and that is almost $100 and I have never paid that for anti-virus software.  The scam-busting site stated clearly that it was indeed a scam program that prevented its own removal and also prevented other software from detecting it.  Further, it gave false reports of infections.   It could be downloaded directly OR unknowingly by a user visited a legitimate but hacked website without the user knowing about it.

Anyway, I contacted the credit card company and spoke to an agent who said they were removing the charges (I read them the scam-busting site description).  But they warned me the company could dispute my claim and then we would all have to argue about by letter.  I doubt the company will contest.  Meanwhile, I have printed out special instructions for how to remove the software.

You can't remove the software from the infected computer directly, but you can download removal software to another computer and transfer it to the infected one at boot-up with a USB thumb drive.  It's an annoying process, one of those deals where you have to press a couple of keys at start to enter a safe mode and do about 10 things after.  I've done that sort of thing a few times.

The last annoying thing was to change my Federal tax withholding so that I wouldn't owe anything next year.  I had printed out an IRS form and sent it to them in April, but it turns out you have to send it to the company that pays you.

I got to them online and struggled to log in.  They are one of those places I visit once a year and the password expires in 3 months.  So they wanted me to answer some previously given security questions.

I keep a printed list of all sites I visit with the user name, passwords, purpose, and security question answers in a notebook.  I keep the list in Excel on a computer not connected to the internet, of course.  My list didn't have the security question answers!  And my best guess to the one they asked was not accepted.  ARGGHHH!

Turns out I had an old page of sites in my notebook and found my password on a newer page.  I really need to redo the list.  It is full of hand-written changes and arrows to new passwords, etc, that it is nearly unreadable.  That a new project...

But I found the newest entry and signed in.  The site was so slow, I fed the cats while waiting for it to load.  But after that, I changed the withholding easily.  Yay!

Having taken care of the serious things, I balanced my checkbook, then turned my attention to the clutter on the dining room table.  I have piles on clipped out newspaper recipes, interesting sites to visit, DIY ideas, and gardening suggestions.  I have several boxes full of that stuff.  One of these days I will go through them and save no more than a 6" high stack!  But not today.

With enough space on the dining room table to actually eat at, I turned my attention to the basement.  Lots of work to do there.  I have been working on the new compost bin few a few weeks, and things clutterred up in the basement.

So, do the projects that stuff was sitting around waiting to be used.  None took a lot of time, but there were many.  First, mark the places in the Spring Bulb garden where I can plant more bulbs without disturbing the existing ones.   You may have seen pictures of cardboard covering the tulip cages.  Well, I had to wait longer for the hyacinth and daffodil foliage to die back naturally..

I surrounded the daffodil areas with rope and held it in place with tent stakes.  Then I added more cardboard to the hyacinth cages held down with more tent stakes.  I have daylillies arounfd the front of the bed, but they will still be growing when it is time to fill the rest of the area with more daffodils  In a few days, I will cover the entire non-daylily area with black plastic to kill the weeds. 

The Spring bulbs like to stay dry in Summer, so they will be happy.  And I should be free of weeds there by October.  The voles will like the cover, but they can't eat daffodils or lilies and the tulips and hyacinths are in wire cages!  When they emerge looking for food, the cats will have fun...

Next was to put the 3 Venus Fly Traps into proper containers.  I researched it.  Those tiny 2" pots they come in are no good.  They need deeper containers and more soil.  Not "dirt" soil, but  a mixture of relatively sterile peat moss and sand, 2 parts to 1 part.  The containers for each one are 6" deep and wide.  They also need at least 4 hours of direct sun (a surprise to me) and water "with few dissolved solids" (distilled or rainfall water).  No wonder most people who buy them are unsuccessful at keeping them alive. 

So I bought a gallon of distilled water, and I'm saving the rain from the large rain gauge.  I'm also making a rain collection device.  It's a plastic trashcan lid with a hole in the center attached to a 1 gallon container.  Distilled water is only 88 cents at Walmart, but free rain water is even cheaper.  I LOVE to make useful things!

Speaking of the Venus Fly Traps, I have had a blast feeding them.  They catch some insects on their own, but I want them to grow well and send off baby shoots.  Eventually, I want to have a wading pool bog of them.  So I've been catching flies and small cabbage worms for them.  Heh-heh-heh!

I and the cats are in and out of the house often enough so that houseflies get in.  I've learned how to catch them by hand,  I sneak up on them against the window and their escape paths are limited there.  I catch them about 25% of the time.  A quick flick of the hand close to the floor and they are stunned.  Into the Venus Fly Traps they go.  Watching the traps close on them (a slight rub with a toothpick triggers the trap hairs) is darkly fascinating...

The next basement project was to plant lettuce and boy choy and celery in windowsill boxes.  I don't keep the boxes on a windowsill, but those are good containers for the top of the deck rails.  I tie them down so Summer storms don't blow them off.  I harvest individual leaves so they keep growing, but eventually they flower and are bitter, so I needed new plantings. 

I have endive, red romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and arugula in 3 containers.  Another container has bok choy (the grocery store stuff is old and tough).  Another has celery that was already growing in small pots but I transplanted to give them more space to grow.  If you have never just added celery leaves to a salad, you should try it.  They are MUCH tastier.

Refilled the regular bird feeder with black oil sunflower seeds (a weekly thing) and refilled the finch feeder with nyger seed (a daily thing).  Topped the 3'x5' pond with water; we haven't gotten much rain in June.  I have Sweet Flag and Oriental waterlilies in there.  I should add some goldfish.

Saw a groundhog in the backyard a few days ago, so I set up my live trap baited with a 4" piece of old honeydew melon.  They love melons.  Baited the squirrel live trap with peanut butter.  They can't resist that.  They get relocated.

I'm way late on planting the deck pots with flowers, so I reluctantly went to Walmart and bought 3 pots of marigolds; they were cheap.  They are all just 4 individual plants in each pot and easily separated, so I will have 2 in each small container and 3 in the larger ones.  I also have self-grown seedlings of Zinnias and Salvias which I'll add to the hanging baskets. 

I also found 4 matching 16" pots at Walmart and I will plant some Australian seeds in those.  The old pots are falling apart a bit and I wanted new ones that could stand being brought inside for the Winter.  I would have planted them sooner, but they need a lot of sand in the soil mix and I kept forgetting to buy some (my pre-printed shopping list somehow doesn't have "sand" on it, LOL!).

Finally, I went out and measured the tops of my new compost bin.  In spite of my best efforts, the 2-bin container isn't perfectly square and the tops have to be fitted to match what exists.  So I will be constructing deliberately non-square frames.  "Square" is theoretical; "Fitted" is reality. 

So after all that, it was time for dinner.  I splurged...  Thawed out a 4 oz beef tenderloin steak, cut up fresh asparagus, made a nice tossed salad, and de-silked a bicolor cob of corn.  Chopped up some cremini mushrooms, vidalia onion and red bell pepper.  Cooked all.  Got the steak to a perfect 130 degrees, the salad tossed with ranch dressing, and the aspargus and mushroom mix cooked al dente.  The corn was perfect.  Used the steak juice to make a sauce with horseradish, red wine, and garlic.

I think I earned it...






1 comment:

Megan said...

Phew! I'm tired just reading about it all Mark! And yes, you'd definitely earned a fabulous dinner.

Megan
Sydney, Australia