Saturday, October 23, 2021

Facebook

I've been on some discussion sites for years.  They are supposed to be dedicated to people of one thought as a safe place to discuss things among people of similar thoughts.  And I don't know how you will think about it (and some of you know), but I'm an atheist.  Always have been.  We are about 15% of the US population now and growing.

It used to be something to hide, but nor so much as time goes by and I don't worry about it all that much these days.  But the sites I visited have been allowing some really crazy people just to increase post count and maybe some ad revenue.  

So I went looking for an atheist discussion forum that promised "only atheists".  I ended up on a Facebook site.  I looked at it and it seemed OK.  But Facebook is weird.  I spent an hour trying to get my Cavebear avatar pic to fit their demands.  Never succeeded, but I suppose the front half is better than the back half, LOL!  There are probably assumptions and skills I do not "get".

But it is weird in other ways.  You can't seem to make more than one paragraph in reply, because "enter" sends the comment.  Finding previous comments baffles me.  Some seem to show up automatically, some don't.  Maybe that is a length of time thing.  

And well, by the rules, no non-atheist person is supposed to be allowed to post, the site is full of people posting who are.  I saw one post saying that saying "hello" was a mark of the devil because it included "hell" and saying "Hi" wasn't much better for some numerological reason.

I think I need my own site.  But I don't understand enough to set up and manage one safely.  Anyone out there who can wants a small side gig?  I'll go to a hiring site like Indeed , but I would prefer someone I know.  I would be the Administrator of course, but just to block the really crazy people.

Meanwhile, have to look at the FB site.  I posted a few replies and need to see if they got responses I like.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Electrical Outage

I've mentioned often enough that one of the positive things about my neighborhood is that we have buried cables.  So naturally we lost power yesterday!   Usually that means something at the switching station or a car accident knocking over a pole on the main road through town and lasts 5-10 minutes.

After 30 minutes, I knew something was unusual.  So I looked outside and saw construction equipment on the corner...  Great, some damn fool chopped the cable.  

Actually, the timing was fortunate.  10 minutes earlier and I would have been all soaped in the shower in a windowless bathroom.  THAT would have been fun!

So after another 30 minutes, I decided to go out to do some errands.  Haircut, grass seed, food...  Of course, that meant unhitching the garage door from the electric opener (yes OF COURSE I unthinkingly hit the "open" button first - habits are habits).  Geez, that door is heavier than I remembered.  

As I was pulling the car out of the garage, I noticed the small lamp on the opener was lit.  Was in on a battery backup?  No, the power had just been restored!  I closed the door and drove off anyway.

On the next street, I saw that people were burying concrete pipes along the side of the road (improving our drainage situation).  Certainly they had cut a cable.  If *I* had done that, I would have been charged for the repair.  But the County isn't going to charge a fine to itself, LOL!

Other than having to reset a few clocks when I got back, everything was fine.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Old Dining Table

The new one replaces and old.  I was reluctant, as there is family history attached.  The table originally belonged to my maternal grandparents and there were a couple of matching pieces.  The only one *I* know of is a secretary desk I still have and the table.   Mom probably ate there when she was young.

I suspect there were more pieces of a set that were discarded over the years.  But the 2 pieces lasted through my parents and to me.  The secretary (writing table?) desk is pretty much untouched.  The dining table has sure gone through some changes though.  The 2 pieces were "honey oak" according to Dad.

He stripped the finish at one time as rec room furniture and painted it avocado with black legs. I got it as part of my first apartment furniture.  I eventually stripped it and renewed the original wood.   Dad saw it once and said I did "OK".  He was never heavy on praise and I might have been a bit heavy on the finishing.

But it has been my dining room table for many decades in spite of the weak side extensions.  Still,  I always wanted a sturdier one with a center leaf extention.  Bought it.  You read about the assembly yesterday.

The old one will live on though.  I have gotten it into the computer room.  It will be the platform for my old Civ2 offline game machine.  Beats the folding card table I'm using now.  WAY more stable.  I had to take all the legs off to move it and reattach them after.  Put a towel under the table to slide it on edge across the floors.


And quite frankly, as it is part of my family history, I can't bear to part with it...  I'm not sure what to do with the chairs...   I'll just find space to store them.  If someone wants the table after I go, there should be the chairs with it.

And all this (organized and without some junk parts)) will go on it...  Time to re-organize the computer room...


So the table and the matching writing table/desk live on.  I will probably keep them all my life.  What happens to them after depends on a time after I am gone...


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Dining Room Table

 I bought a new dining room table and 4 matching chairs.  Self-assembly.  A couple reviewers at Amazon said assembly was horrible, but most said it wasn't too bad.  So keeping in mind that I've built a deck, a fence, and a shed among other things, I figured it wouldn't be a problem.

It was horrible!

You have to know something about assembly to truly understand, but I'll give some examples.  The whole table is assembled with a hex-head wrench.

Hex wrench - Allen wrench - for common robot button head ...

It is a nice little tool when designed for proper use.  There are bolts designed for hex-head use (as opposed to slot or phillips head screws.  It doesn't slip.  But I emphasize "when used properly".

The table arrived with all the right parts.  Tabletop, legs to assemble and attach, and under-table cross braces.  The design and support structure is very solid.  I could tell that from looking at the various views online.  I'm not an engineer, but my Dad was and I didn't escape teenhood without some experience.


It took nearly a day to seperate the parts.  The box seems to have been mislabled "this side up".  There were parts to wouldn't separate.  Had I opened the box on the other side, it would have been easier.  Maybe it was my error...

\But iIt's the way the parts have to be assembled that was horrible.  There were holes where you have to feed a bolt into and tighten them.  They were designed badly.  You have to fit the hex wrench into the bolt (technically a "machine screw" if you care) and turn it.  1/4 turn at a time forever...  

And in the dark.  You can't get at it and shine a light in any way.  Your hand HAS to cast a shadow.  So it is all by feel.  And the fit is tight.  And sometimes the bolts locked up from poor fit.  I solved THAT by driving all the bolts with a socket wrench before I assembled the pieces, but that was just more wasted time.

The table had to be assembled upside down.  Damn it weighs a ton (or so it seemed).  The leg assemblies took a frustrating hour each.  Fitting the hex wrench for each 1/4 turn was difficult.  Each of 4 of the legs seemed to take forever and I had to take "frustration" breaks.  But I eventually got them together.

Had the assembly been easier, I would have remembered to take more pictures, but in frustration, pictures were the last thing on my mind.

That meant attaching the assembled legs to the upside-down tabletop.  That part was easier.  I had cut off 1/2 inch of a same-size hex wrench (good hacksaw) because it fit into a socket wrench socket.  That allowed faster turning when there was free access to the bolts.

And then I could add the cross braces between the legs..  That took some pushing but it worked out well.  I eventually had the table completely constructed, but still upside down...

The male friend across the street had a knee replacement a couple months ago and a 2nd one scheduled in a couple weeks. The lady mentioned recently she had an arm-sprain.  No one else to ask for help.  So no one else to ask for help.

I was worried that, if I tipped the table up on one side of laegs, they might break.  After all, sideways isn't what they are designed for.

I figured out many ways I might possibly get the table upright.  But the one that seemed most secure was to clamp the heck out of all the weak spots..




First, I had to get the upside-down table up on its side.  That was hard enough.  Not much gripping area at the edge (flush to the floor).  I finally got a small piece of scrap board and lifted the tabletop enough to shove the scrap under.  From there, I could reach far enough under to get a decent grip and turn it on a side position.  Hurray!

Then I needed to turn it from the side to upright.  That was what really worried me.  All the weight of the table  would be on 2 legs.  But that's why I had all the braces and clamps.  It did occur to me that when I turned the table from side to upright, the far legs were going to have a sudden shock of weight.  

So I taped styrofoam under the legs to aborb that!  And the edge of the table top was no more easier to lift sideways that flat.  So I had to do the "lift and scrap wood push under" again.  It took a few tries but I got it.  Full hand-room under the edge...

I was pretty much worn out by that time.  But there was only one more 90 degree turn to go.  One more HEAVY lift (squat, lift from the legs and stand up), and the table was upright, undamaged... 

Removed all the clamps (which I credit for the non-damage to the legs) and the styrofoam that eased the sudden weight of the table hitting the floor.


And here is the table upright.  The instructions said it requires 2 people.  Yeah, did it by myself...  I'm ornery that way.




I have 4 matching chairs to assemble.  I hope that goes easily.  Ay least they are each lighter to handle, LOL!

The table has a center leaf.  I probably won't use it, but I wanted the option.  A center leaf table is a lot more sturdy than a side leaf table.  My previous dining table had weak side extentions.  More about that next time...







Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Strange Neighbors

You may be getting tired of this, but there is always something new.

Mototorcycle Guy is driving back and forth up and down the street less frequently lately.  I don't know why, but maybe it finally became boring.  Or he can drive further away legally.  Or someone complained.  Or he he has a new hobby.  Or is getting older.  Or my brain is tuning it out.

My eastern side neighbors are taking up the noise slack from Motorcycle Man, though.   The lady there has taken up leaf-blowing.  Gas, not electric, of course.  She spent 3 hours blowing all the leaves into a pile in the back up the yard a week ago.  And did the same yesterday into a 2nd pile.  Why 2 separate piles?  I have no idea.  

I want to tell them that just mowing the leaves into the lawn if good for the lawn and a whole lot easier, but I hesitate becaue we didn't start out well.  They tried to burn my fence and then intruded on my property with a gas-powered metal-bladed whacker around a tree.  And I had to yell because the guy wouldn't turn his noisy whacker off.  And then complained I was yelling...

And I see a pile of brush along with the leaves.  I hope she doesn't plan to burn them.  It isn't utterly dry like it was last year, but it is routinely windy.  If she starts to burn it all, this time I will just call the Fire Department.  They will explain things with more authority than *I* have...

And they recently added some solar panels.  The Flip-Renovater added them on the south roof before they moved in, but I'm pretty sure there weren't any on the NORTH side of the roof until recently (it's not a noisy job, so I might have missed it happening).  I did see some ladders up to the roof last month, but didn't pay much attention.

Why would they do that?  There is little sunshine on the north roof here.  Maybe they don't know how solar panels work and that indirect ambient light is what powers them.

The neighbors 2 yards east had a nice hedge but cut it down 2 years ago.  Not down to the ground, 2 feet high.  The shrubs are completely dead, but they leave them in place.  Well, maybe the stumps serve as a property line indicator.  After all THEIR west neighbor is MY east neighbor who doesn't seem to quite understand property lines...  But a long row of dead shrub stumps?  That's odd.

I was surprised to look out the window (petting Ayla who loves windowsills) and see a guy walking the roof ridgeline of my helpful neighbors.  It's not something you see every day.  Then I noticed other people walking around all wearing identical tee-shirts, so it was some business.  So there was some project going on.  The van parked in front had a simple name that said nothing about the purpose.

I hope whatever they were doing doing out well.  I like that couple.  I'll have to wait for a chance meeting to ask about it.  But at least they tend to do sensible things.

The west-side neighbors continue to leave a fallen-down willow tree on their front lawn after 3 years.  They have a mowing service that carefully mows around the tree.  I almost never see them outside.  Five or so years ago, I saw them all in the far back yard digging.  I think they were burying one of their dogs.  I din't go looking over the fence of course, that would have been intrusive.

I live in a neighborhood where you can't just go knock on a door and ask "what just happened" or "why did you do that"?  People just aren't that interested in their neighbors.  Neither am I personally, but I enjoy seeing the odd things they do.  

I myself, am perfect in all regards, of course...  LOL!

Monday, October 4, 2021

Complaints Update

Well, the neighbors 2 houses away resolved my remnant tree trunk curiosity; they cut those down last.  But 5 DAYS of chainsaw noise - wow!  I can't tell if their yard is much brighter (probably is but surrounded by a fence).  The backyard between us sure is brighter; I wonder if they are happy about it.  

I can even tell some difference in my backyard in early morning.  There are patches of sunlight where I haven't seem it for years.  Unfortunately, not in my garden area.  The rising sun quickly goes behind trees of my southern neighbor.

Speaking of the "neighbors between us" who surrounded most of their tree trunks with kitchen plastic wrap, I remain baffled.  Internet searching finds nothing about it, so it is probably some hare-brained idea (given their apparent inexperience at yardwork). There ARE plastic tree-guards you wrap around trunks of young trees in Winter to prevent bark-scorching, but that is entirely different heavier-duty stuff and the there are holes in it to allow air circulation to the bark.  

I'll have to post a question on a gardening site I visit occasionally.  Actually, I hope what they are doing kills those trees.  THAT would open up some light to my garden!  I don't mind that they are "junk trees"; to some extent, "trees are trees" in the same way that green weeds in a lawn are at least green.  And they produce oxygen just like weeds in the lawn do.  But I sure wouldn't mind if they rotted and died from the plastic wrap, LOL!

So the chainsaw music from the neighbor 2 houses away ended Friday.  Another neighbor started their own cutting project Saturday.  Tis the time of year, I guess.

I might be doing the same soon myself.  I have a Beech tree that died last year.  I gave it this one to see if it send out any new shoots.  It didn't.  I have a small specimen tree that also died last year.  It sent out a few shoots in Spring, but they withered, so it's dead.  

And a huge Sweetgum tree in the westside neighbor's backyard lost the top 1/3 some years ago and another 1/3 fell into my backyard last year (which makes it my problem).  Fortunately, it missed the 2 Sourwood and 2 Korean Dogwood saplings I planted 2 years ago.  I'm depending on them to grow fast and tall enough to shade out the wild blackberries that sprung up when I cleared the backyard of my own junk trees.  So I need a professional service to clear those out.

Motorcycle Man continues to just ride back and forth along my dead end street.  He goes back and forth every 20-30 minutes most of the day.  I originally thought he was doing motorcycle repairs in his garage, but I finally realized it was the same 3 motorcycles all the time.

It isn't like the motorcycles are the huge types that gangs ride, but the sound still penetrates the house and it's the repetitiveness that is most annoying.  I don't know anything about the rider.  He wears a visored helmet.  But he is too large to be a teen hiding his riding from the law.  I'm guessing an adult  either living in his parents basement or married with an unhappy home life.  

One of these days, I'll take a stroll down the road and see if I can figure out what house he is in.  It's not that he is doing anything illegal, but it sure is annoying.  Sort of like someone putting a church bell on their roof and having it ring ever half-hour 8 am to 10 pm.

I've probably been complaining too much lately.  I'll try to get back to more positive stuff soon.

Monday, September 27, 2021

More Odd Neighbor Stuff

 I don't want to harp on the neighbors too much.  But I don't like mine a whole lot.  I think they are kind of weird.  The neighbors to the east are odd.  They don't have much sense of property lines.  And forgive me, it it hard to discuss concerns well.  They don't speak American well.  Damn that seems bad to say, but you have to be able to talk to resolve problems.

I can manage that slightly, but they seem kind of new to yardwork safety.  They  decided to burn fallen tree branches once, right next to my wood fence and below small trees.  And had no water supply near.  Then the guy decided to use a metal blade trimmer to remove grass around a tree in my yard.  It died the next year.  When I told him to stop, he seemed to think he was helping me.  

Now they have their tree trunks wrapped in clear plastic, taped all around 5' up.  None of my business, I suppose, but I'm curious and can't ask why.  

The neighbors one further had all their trees cut down, but only 8' high.  They left the trunks.  I can't imagine a reason.  That's the east...

My neighbors on the west side have a tree across their front lawn that has sat there for 4 years.  They have a mowing company that does their lawn, but they ignore the fallen tree.

The people to the south have poison ivy beds that creep into my yard.  I spray them, but they come back.

I have some neighbor down the street a few houses who just drives a motorcycle back on forth along the the street.  I thought maybe he had a repair business on the side, but it is always the same 3 motorcycles.

I feel trapped.  I love the city water and sewage, the buried electrical and good internet cable, the dead end street and the grandfathered no Homeowners Association.  And I feel like I have too much to move; woodworking equipment is delicate in some ways.

But if I don't move soon, I never will...

Monday, September 20, 2021

Deck Mums And A Surprise Visitor

I didn't do too well with the planters hanging from the deck rails (usually Zinnias or Salvia) but the deck floor planter Mums are beginning to bloom...





The beds were mowed for renewal, but do you notice a small object near center top?
A bunny was visiting...
Marley and Ayla have mostly retired from hunting the bigger critters (mice are just fine these days) but Laz has an interest in rabbits and squirrels.  I mean, he was LOOKING at the backyard (see the top pic).

It was funny.  The rabbit was obvious to ME, but even when I picked up Laz and aimed his head to it, he didn't see it.  Because the rabbit wasn't moving.

I understand.  I'm shape/color/movement/far-sighted evolved and he is movement/sound/near-sighted evolved.  And sees yellow-blue best (which is why bunnies and i are brown, I suppose).

So I whistled suddenly and the bunny twitched its ears.  Wow did THAT get Laz's attention!  He was off like a shot (I have a wound to prove it) and went right after it.  No chance to catch it off course but he was enthusiastic.  Give a rabbit a headstart and no hope for a cat.

But it probably made his day.  He didn't need any food, but "the thrill of the chase" was good...

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Catching Up With The Yard, Part 3

I meant to show the clearing and mowing of the 3 beds and forgot...

So here some are:  Plus the goldfinch feeder.  Just couldn't leave that one out...








Some spots went unmowed for the year but that is mostly done now and thge mowed stuff will smother the grasses.  I have 2 Yuccas in one bed and a wild daylily in another.  There were 3 Yuccas originally, but I have one in the original spot that can be divided in 3 now and moved so I will have 5 in the future.  I'll wait to see the daylily color next year (I plan to divide most of them in the original area this Fall and mix up the colors anyway) while creating more plants.

The last picture is of a front yard island around the Saucer Magnolia (my best Spring-flowering tree).  There are daffodils planted around the bed, but I want Painted ferns and variegated Bishop's Weed in there too.  The Astilbes didn't thrive,  but the other 2 seem to like the area and the deer don't eat them, so they are good choices.

The unmowed area is where some Astilbes survive.  I will move them to a better location.  I have landscape flag next to each one, so I can dig up the roots and hope they like a new spot.


Friday, September 17, 2021

Catching Up With The Yard, Part 2

I mentioned that grasses were taking over some areas of the yard.  And those were flowerbeds.   Well, I "got behind" this year.  I wasn't healed from the ladder fall until about June (and will never be fully, but let's say I might be about 80%).  I can do most things OK.

But I have catching up to do.  I slacked last year a bit and then couldn't do much until June this year (and I have done a LOT of cutting-to-ground-level and digging this year.  So I'm doing basic stuff this late Summer and Fall.

Two losses were the meadow bed and the pollinator bed.  The meadow bed wasn't all THAT bad.  Lot's of Queen Anne's Lace, some Black-Eyed Susans and a few surviving wildflowers.  But both failed, so it is time to start again.

I cut all the tall plants near ground level with a hedge-trimmer (worked great) and then used the mower at the lowest level.  There is probably enough fallen plant material to smother the grasses.  Or maybe not.  But as they decay, it will sure be good for the soil.

But I have a plan.  The Meadow Bed will become a mix of native and adapted flowers that do well here.  Mostly Black-Eyed Susans, Purple Coneflowers, Queen Anne's Lace, 



And some various self-sowing flowers (Tithonia, Calendula, and Butterfly Weed) that seem to attract pollinators.  

How to Grow Tithonia (Mexican Sunflowers) - Dengarden

Butterfly, Asclepias (Butterfly Weed) | Urban Farmer

Calendula - FineGardening

The pollinator garden will become more of a source of beneficial insect growth area.  A plastic tub will serve to host milkweed for monarch butterflies and others will help other beneficial insects.  I'll be deciding next month about what to plant for them.  There are lists on the net.

But the first thing to do is try to smother the more wild grasses that invaded the beds in the first place.  I've collected enough permeab;e black weed-smothering fabric to cover everything.  I tried solid black plactic over the Spring Bulb bed, but THAT did was create pools of rainwater for the mosquitoes.  Some pereamble it must be.  It WILL smother the grasses eventually.

I made a mistake trying to plant the specialty beds several years ago.  I SHOULD have covered them first for a year to kill the grasses that survived the rototillering.  But I was impatient.

Had I done that then, I would have 3 year old mature meadow and pollinator beds now.  You live and learn.  And such beds were new to me.

I have all THOSE above flowers growing now around the yard and in a nursery bed.  I'll be collecting the seedheads as they mature and dry to spread around in the 2 beds.  I think I will spread all the various seeds around about equally.  Some may grow better than others, and I would rather see a general spread of flowers adapted to my area all over than have barespots.  I can always diversify in a future year.




Thursday, September 16, 2021

Catching Up With The Yard, Part 1

I got some stuff done in the yard in June and July (which got undone as weeds regrew in August) but at least it isn't as bad as before.  Young new weeds are better that old tough ones. 

August was odd.  Too much rain.  I never thought I would complain about THAT!  My 1st 25 years here, the soil would get so dry that it would crack open like a lesser version of parched mudflats.

Green plant growing from cracked dry soil - Stock Photo ...

When some rain DID fall, it would immediately be sucked into the depths.  OK, unlike the above picture, I DID have lawn grass, but dry and brown.  Things have changed.  Partly, by my own efforts to leave grass clippings on the lawn which gradually improved the soil.  And NO, grass-clippings do not cause "thatch". Frequent but only surface watering causes the grass roots to spread on the top inch or so (where the water is), and THAT causes thatch.  And that leaves the grass roots subject to drying and death.

I have a healthy lawn almost year-round these days, and I seldom water it.  But when I do, it is a long deep watering.  Healthy grass can send roots down a foot or more if that is where the water is, and deeper water doesn't evaporate away as fast as surface water.

And I'll mention the clover is good for your lawn.  Clover sends roots down several feet and brings nutrients back up to the surface as the leaves die.  But bees like clover, and I sure don't mind helping the bees.  

As far as the lawn goes my rule is pretty much "If it is green, it is OK".  I don't even mind a few dandelions.  I don't have many because the grass is healthy and I cut it at 3" which is enough to smother/shadeout most weeds.  

I have neighbors who cut their grass to 1" and are constantly fighting with weak grass and happy weeds.  I'm pretty sure all the dandelions I DO have come from them.  Well, you know, most people don't exactly study about lawns.  They just do their best in their busy days.  I've always been interested in growing things though, and a lawn is like a garden.  

In fact, it is time to spread corn gluten meal on the lawn.  It inhibits seeds from developing and Fall is when the dandelion and most lawn weeds germinate.  And since it is also mostly nitrogen, the grass loves it.  Turf grasses in temperate zones grow roots best in Fall/Winter (which admittedly does seem odd for most plants) and good roots make healthy lawns.  But Spring bulbs are like that too, so they aren't unique.

But the corn gluten that prevents weed seeds from developing also affects grass seed.  So I generally cycle the  Fall treatments.  Two Septembers, the corn gluten, and the 3rd, new grass seed.  My preferred lawn grass is tall fescue and they are not spreaders.  So new seed has to be spread "sometimes".  

Every few years, I get a trailerful of free compost from the County and spread it around on the lawn.  It's really kind of a cool system.  You have yard debris like fallen branches and even Christmas trees and bring it to the Mulching Center.  

They pile it up into huge mounds for a couple years while it heats up and breaks down.  Then they move it to a 2nd spot for a final "churn" where it heats up again.  The result is something between mulch and compost.  It's not like finely-sifted compost of course, but it is ready for lawn and garden use.  

I like it for several reasons.  It's free to dump the raw stuff at the start and free to pick the finished product.  And if you go on Saturdays 8am-Noon, they use a bucket-loader to fill the trailer for free.  I LOVE "free".

The commercial nursery near the County mulch center probably hates that.  They get $40 per bucketload (my trailer holds 3).  But they offer sifted compost and a 50/50 blend of topsoil at the same price and sometimes I buy some of that.  And I only know of them because I have stooped there on my way to the County mulch center, so they get some business from me for that and sometimes I buy plants.

But back to the lawn.  I spread the compost over the lawn thinly most Springs.  Every little amount helps.  An 1/8" of compost helps the grass quite a lot (they are good at living on very little help (consider that most grasses worldwide live without human assistance)...

But all that is about the lawn.  I have problems with TOO much grass in other places.  More about that tomorrow... 

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