Showing posts from 2021

Happy Holidays

 Gone for the Holidays.  See everyone next year.

By Request: Secret Service Man

  Run In Number One: I was in college and between classes with a couple hours to spare. Per my habit, I decided to walk down to the Memorial Union building which houses a campus food service area with large areas full of tables where I could get something to drink while hitting the books until my next class. As I got close, I saw a guy a few feet in front of me standing and looking right at me as I approached. Thinking nothing of it and assuming he was looking beyond me, I swerved a bit to my right only to have him swerve and step right in front of me. My attention caught, I looked up with a WTH look in my face. That is when he asked me what my business was in the Memorial Union today. I told him I was going to get something to drink and do some studying. He said no I wasn't and told me to leave. It was only then that I noticed the sunglasses and especially the ear peace hooked up to his ear. It was then that I remembered the campus newspaper from the day before saying President Cl

Missing From the Picture

 One more shot of the greenhouse from an angle I haven't taken before, from the comfort of the deck off the back of our house. The reason for me not taking a picture from this location until now can be explained by the vague circle like spot in the lower part of the picture. Until a couple days ago, a trampoline used to reside there. When my oldest reached jumping age, about the same time as her younger sister was born, my mom bought her a trampoline. It was one of those giant things about the size of a room with a mesh wall encircling it so stray children wouldn't go flying off of it. It was so big, for many years I had to go out to lift my daughter up onto it or off of it. With the configuration of our yard, there aren't very many flat spots to put such a huge affair and so I assembled it directly over our firepit. Less than a week later, a straight line derecho with 100 mph winds was forecasted as heading our way and so I drug it up to the deck and lashed it to the house

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Steve over at Shadows and Light posted a picture not to long ago of an airport scene that he had shot in which Google had imposed snow onto. It wasn't so bad that Google had artificially created snow but it was an indoor scene in an airport so was a bit out of place. But it made me look at what google has done to my photographs. I had three photos in which Google has created snow upon and while I remember taking one of those photos, I don't recall taking either of these. The top one looks like a tide pool along the gulf coast, a place I've visited many times in the past and I would probably take a picture of such an interesting sight but I have no idea what the bottom picture is about. Oil in a wok? I have a lot of pictures where the snow would blend in much better than these two pictures so it makes me wonder what sort of algorithm they used to choose these. Like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, I may never know the answer. 

A Double Funeral and a New Working Theory

 The inevitable (at least in my opinion) happened and two of the three jellyfish scrunched up their bells for the last time. The first one just disappeared and my daughter couldn't find him. He had gotten so small that we both theorized that he had gotten wedged into the filter media somewhere. He was pretty much written off at that point until the second one died. The bell shape part of it had grown so microscopic that it was nearly impossible to see. All that remained were four long legs and finally, the food stopped sticking to them and so there was no way for it to feed the microscopic stomachs in the bell that we couldn't see. I didn't rush my daughter to make any decisions but after a few days, the legs got stuck to the back wall and she deemed it dead.  On a side note, how one deems a jellyfish dead isn't as easy as I thought it might be. No pulses or mirrors in front of mouths to see if it still breaths. In fact, if all you can see is legs and those legs gently

A Big Blow

  Does a tree falling outside your bedroom window in the middle of a night make a noise? I'm not sure but if it did, I didn't hear it and was surprised when I looked outside and saw the above mess. With most of our leaves gone, the winds forecasted for the early morning hours really made an impact. Nothing to slow them down and I did hear the wind howling. Fortunately, it is in a part of the lawn that I don't mow anymore so there is no rush to have to clean it up but I reckon I will eventually just so I can get rid of all the debris.  Not shown are our two compost barrels that were sitting on a pad of cement behind our garage. My wife unfortunately emptied it right before last night so both were down at the bottom of the hill. One lid was on the opposite side of our house laying next to the street and the second lid is still missing in action. I walked around until I was chilled enough to have to go back inside to warm up without seeing it. Winds strong enough to blow a liv


 Donna W. said, " I would think he'd get in the house again however he entered originally." Crawling from the depth of some dream, I realized that the electric guitar rift from the intro to "Smoke On the Water" was playing loudly and really close to my head. What the heck? Why was somebody calling my cellphone at, I glance at the alarm clock, 2:30 in the morning? Then I noticed the caller ID said the person calling was my oldest daughter who should be in her room just around the corner. More confusion but I answer. It was my oldest daughter who wasn't in her room but in her younger sister's room along with my wife. I pat the bed behind me and ascertain that my wife was indeed not there. They have locked themselves in that room because apparently there was a bat in my oldest daughter's room. Two bats in the space of two weeks seemed like a bit much, especially since I can only recall one other bat in the preceding  decade. I suspect Donna W. may have

One Man's Wilderness

A while back on the long weekend over the Thanksgiving holiday, we decided to go on a local road trip and so I did a little google magic and found some places near my home turf that I had never heard about or seen. One was an apple orchard, another a creamery and a third was, I'm not sure how to describe it, a truck farm turned into a tourist destination, relatively speaking. It essentially was a hobby farm where the owners raised local produce and had seasonal activities to draw people in to buy said produce.  It turned out to be a beautiful day and we enjoyed our time spent at those places, all new to me. At the orchard, they had a barn with some goats and miniature ponies for the kids (and adults like me) to look at while the others were inside sampling the wares. Eventually my kids and I wandered into the barn where they had more pens, two of which contained animals that I can't identify. Anyone out there? A fancy bird and an albino kangaroo? But the highlight of the trip

Liberated From Earthly Toils

In the waning days of fall, I stopped down at a local dealer that sold lawnmowers and after negotiating a bit, bought a new lawnmower on order to be delivered sometime in February. Like everything, they were backordered but I didn't mind. Although water tight, I still don't have siding on my storage building for the lawnmower and the lawn had already been mowed for the last time this year by the company we hire, so there wasn't a need to get it any faster. But it showed up anyway, many months early as I was outside hanging up Christmas lights on one of the final warm days of the season. I ended up going over the entire lawn mulching leaves and getting a feel for it before parking it in the shed for the winter. It definitely will take some getting used to but I'm looking forward to spring and next year's lawn mowing season. When I put the above in my trunk, it always strikes me as very criminal feeling and so I always obey all traffic limits and signs... just in case


Earlier this fall to celebrate my wife's birthday, we drove to the urban jungle for an overnight stay and to visit some of her most desired places. In the evening however, we had some time to kill and after searching the local calendar, found a brass quartet playing in a church and decided to stop by. Although they were all very good musicians, the concert itself was unremarkable until for the finale, they decided to play a musical piece that I know very well. It brought tears quickly to my eyes but salve to my soul in a way. More on that later in this post. On the third anniversary of my mom's death, as I have done the previous two years, I opted to remember the occasion by doing something my mom loved to do and went for a hike along the river. My wife's schedule didn't allow her to get the time off this year and for reasons unknown to me, the local school system cancelled school a couple days early (in the leadup to the Thanksgiving holiday) so my two girls had time o

The Funeral That Still Isn't

  The above photo is a stock photo and not a picture I took of my daughter's moon jellyfish. She has really enjoyed raising her jellyfish and I must say, I've enjoyed learning about them too. Although it has been around five months, we've had our share of scares. My daughter monitors their water chemistry fairly often to keep it within the narrow bands they require and occasionally it has spiked causing fear and frequent water changes. But each time, my daughter is able to get things back in control and learn from the experience as to what caused the spike so not to repeat it.  Still, they have continued to shrink in size which isn't normal. My daughter increased their recommended feed to four times what she started out at and still they continued to shrink to just a fraction of their original size. Right now we aren't sure if it is the quality of the food or feeding method. If you overfeed jellyfish, they just excrete their undigested food into the water, I guess t

Packing It In

My wife and I made one more quick trip down to the garden before calling it good for the winter. With a new storage facility back at our house on the edge of town, I am going to take over lawn care duties starting in the spring and so picked up a battery operated weed eater to help in that regard. I wanted to try it out and so brought it with me. It made quick work of the weeds around the strawberry beds and underneath the old apple tree. Above is what we refer to as our berry patch which is in the remains of our original orchard where only three decrepit trees remain. Hopefully in the near future there will be strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and grapes growing there. The north end of our east garden was really wet for much of last year and probably a reason why the popcorn crop didn't do all that well. So more soil was added to it to build it up to allow for better drainage. Hopefully that will fix the problem. Above is our new orchard now on the other end of the garden ar


  The backstory. I had just finished up with fitting out our new walk-in pantry when news of Covid in Seattle hit the news. It just hit me that there may be a long period of shut down just like in China occurring here so my wife and I both went out to two different stores that day and stocked up on shelf stable foods. We filled out pantry completely up in one day. As it turned out, it wasn't a week later when our grocery store was nearly emptied by frenzied people stocking up and it would be months before it returned to a fully stocked condition. I was fortunate in that instance though neither of us thought to stock up on toilet paper. Live and learn. I should have made the connection that with more people stockpiling food, that it might cross over into canning supplies for gardens but I didn't. By the time our garden was producing that year and I decided I needed to get some more jars and lids, they were completely sold out and would remain that way for the rest of the year. I

A Bat Story

My wife suffers from the inability to sleep much past 3 a.m. So I was amazed recently when I woke up much later and she told me there was a bat in the house and I hadn't been woken by her terrified screaming. She said she had stifled her screams as she swung at it with a broom. She asked me to hunt it down and remove it. But I've been down this road before and knew that searching for the bat was useless. They are such tiny creatures and can crawl into tiny dark spots and short of completely dismantling the house, I probably wouldn't find it until it presented itself again. I kept my eyes peeled all day but say nary a bat. That evening my wife was disappointed that I hadn't seen the bat and was fearfully contemplating another early morning encounter. It was at that point, I learned that she had actually hit the bat with the broom during her first encounter, hard enough that it squealed at her. At that point, I figured that it had been injured enough that we would probabl

T-Shirt Blanket

 Last year we helped clean out the farm closets of some of my mom's clothes. Some we sold for a pittance at a garage sale this spring, the bulk we gave to Goodwill, but we still ended up with a sack of personalized T-shirts that others wouldn't be interested in but meant a lot to my mom. I wasn't sure about what to do with them at the time but kept them in a sack in the basement.  By chance, a friend of mine posted a Facebook post on a T-Shirt quilt she had made for someone else and I seized the opportunity to ask if she would do the same for me. She was done for the winter but promised to add me to her list the following winter after her garden was done for the year. Well that time arrived and you can see the results above.  I didn't end up with enough for a quilt but if we used some of the backs (or fronts) with no writing or uninteresting writing and mixed it in with the rest, she had enough for a large throw blanket so that is what I signed up for. I picked it up la

Not Much of Any One Thing

 I don't know what has happened this week but it has just flown by and I have little to show for it. Or perhaps I've just haven't taken any pictures of things I have been working on which would give me something to talk about. I think it is a little of both. Looking for a project, I pulled one off my lengthy list and began it earlier this week but haven't taken a single picture. It isn't real glamorous I suppose but I'll try to get one tomorrow when I put the finishing touches on it. My siding came in a full month early! Perhaps it wasn't stuck out in the bay of Los Angeles like they thought it was when I placed my order. Having never installed vinyl in my life and this is vertical vinyl instead of the typical horizontal vinyl siding, I've had to do so research on how to make it work.  I just received a project that I sent out because it is well out of my wheelhouse of skills and it is upstairs sitting in a shopping bag but I haven't yet looked at it

I'm Living In the Future

 As I mentioned earlier, we had an unexpected death in the family and I felt I needed to go and support those who it affected most. They were there for me when my mom was dying and I have never forgotten that. So when word of the death came, I bought a plane ticket and flew into the deep south. I remember my first flights as a young boy flying out west for a vacation with some distant relatives. It was such a treat to sit in a comfortable seat and have people wait on you as you were whisked thousands of miles away in a very short time. This feeling lasted well into my 20's until something shifted in that industry forever. Now, I look forward to flying just about as much as I would a double root canal. The seats are shoved so close together and shrunk to the point where claustrophobia sets in. This causes the passengers to be in foul moods. You are lucky now to get a tiny package of snack mix on all but the longest of flights. Airlines now charge for everything, including bags so no

Landscape Evolution

 Back when we just thinking about buying this house, I walked around the perimeter snapping photos which turned out to be fortunate as I often look back at them. This shows the backside of our garage and the nook outside of our dining room. It has been a problem spot for us to deal with. On of our first projects was to reside the house (covering up the unused side door) and then we planted a bunch of raspberry bushes on the backside of the garage. The first mistake was just that they didn't get enough sun on that side of the house and animal depredation took care of what remained in short order. Weeds soon grew back up in that spot. Although I can't seem to find a picture of it, soon after the above picture, I installed landscape edging and some weed control fabric along with more mulch. The edging helped keep the mulch up on the slope a lot better. I also replaced the rotten logs holding up the earth at the end of the concrete wing sticking our from our house with a small rock

This and That and Adieu

 Life has been pretty busy for me so I haven't spent a lot of time online in the past couple weeks. I have mostly been working on finishing up a big landscaping project that my wife started despite my protests and the weather hasn't been cooperating. I will do a post on it at some point but it will require some time looking through old pictures to illustrate it and I haven't had time to do even that. My brother came up again and we were preparing to spend our week on the farm doing our annual terrace and sprout patrol. For those new to the blog, it means we drive through all the fields fixing broken and displaced tile risers that help drain water away in a controlled fashion instead of eroding precious top soil. Along the way, we look for trees, especially those with thorns, that are growing up in undesirable places where they are likely to cause future flat tires or other damage. However, a family emergency called my brother immediately back home and so I've been out o

The Finish Line

My wife can be impatient at times. I am nearly daily asked if IT is done yet when we both know it may be well into next year before it will be completely done. I know she really isn't referring to that but is actually referring to when she can start moving stuff into the greenhouse side of it. So with that in mind, I made use of a spectacular sunny Saturday, the last one in October and possibly the year, to build the benches inside the greenhouse.  The were a fairly simple build with the structure made out of 2x4's screwed to the walls and topped with plastic deck boards. That was my first experience with plastic deck boards and I must say, I'm not a big fan. They were all over the map in length, which I didn't discover until I had carried them all down the hill and into the greenhouse. That meant that they didn't line up with the support I had carefully measured and placed at eight feet from each wall. They were also not the easiest to fasten down with the blind fa

Side Job In Waiting

  As you can see, I got the other set of doors installed. I went with double doors for a couple reasons. I wanted something wide enough I could drive a zero turn lawnmower through for storage and I wanted something mouse proof. From experience on the farm, mice are unforgiving to wires, plastic and various parts of just about anything when given free rein all winter long. Also, at least on just this side (at the time of the photo), I got everything trimmed out so it is essentially water tight and ready for siding. We haven't yet decided on siding but are leaning towards plastic unfortunately. I'm not a big fan but it will meet our needs. We have a healthy supply of woodpeckers who poked holes into any wood surface on our house for nearly ten years before I got everything clad in cement, plastic trim or metal flashed. Wood siding is definitely out. I don't want to do cement siding like our house by myself and it seems a bit of overkill for a storage/greenhouse building. I do

This and That

Above is the end result of a small project that I began probably several months ago. Earlier this spring we planted a row of blackberry and raspberry plants. Half of the raspberry plants died immediately but the blackberry on the end are thriving and a couple raspberry plants are still hanging in there. They are all thornless varieties and it is recommended to build some sort of trellis to contain the canes and minimize the space they take up. So I built some supports with wire strung between them to support the canes, presumably next year when they get tall enough. To the right is one end of an eventual row of grapes. We only have one plant there and it too needed some sort of trellis to allow it to get up off the ground. But it looks pretty sorry right now and so I didn't photograph it. We were harvesting the first sweet potatoes I have ever grown and I came across a root that looked similar though slightly paler. Thinking it was the mother of all sweet potatoes, I followed it fo

Building Panes

 Above are the four panes I built from scratch to fit the weird sized opening. As it turned out, they were neither very time saving or cheap. Evidently acrylic prices have spiked thanks to Covid and unlike lumber prices, they haven't come down much. Also, in the midst of this build, I opted to get my Covid booster and flu shot and suffered a bit for a couple days. But I persevered and got the windows built. They are waiting for glue to dry, need caulking and then I can hopefully work to install them in the next day or so.  To make the frames, I started out with some select grade studs so they weren't especially crooked or knotty like building grade studs are.  It took me about an hour of table saw work to cut the geometry on them the first time, and another half hour later on when I realized I was two pieces short for my windows, after painting them all. So I ended up with another day of delay in their cutting, painting, and sizing the final two pieces I needed. At least this i


  Projects are all about compromise. Knowing it would take a bit of thinking to create typical greenhouse ventilation by raising roof panels while maintaining water tightness and that I would be pushing the season limits of getting this project done, I compromised. I bought new windows for four of the openings. Had I planned this out, I would have looked for some salvaged ones somewhere but I ended up just buying some bottom of the line big box store ones. They were super easy to install which saved me on the time element.  The middle slot however on this side and the other, as well as the ones on either side of the door were not standard sizes. I could have ordered windows to fit but increased the price drastically. I could have spent longer planning things out and designing around salvaged windows or standard sized windows. Or I could just fill those in with a plexiglass window and call it good. I chose the latter route this time but in the end, it wasn't all that much of a savin


 I had hoped to get some help roofing from my brother while he was up visiting but my youngest daughter suddenly ended up with a fever and a cough. Since she can't get vaccinated yet due to her age and only had the original alpha variant of Covid, we assumed it was Covid again, this time the delta variant. The tests came back negative for flu and strep but we had to wait three days for the Covid test results. They finally came back as negative, meaning she just has the average viral cold, thankfully. So while waiting for the results and assuming I was perhaps going to end up with a break through infection, I spent my time applying the roofing panels alone. It wasn't the easiest process but it wasn't too difficult either and I just kept plugging away at it over two days and got it done. Just getting to this stage makes me really happy and hopefully will give me a burst of energy to finish the rest. After the negative Covid results, my family came up and spent a couple hours

Ready To Raise the Roof

After getting the last of the rafters up, I put in the eave blocking. It is the board between each rafter right above the green sheathing on the outside of the building and essentially fills up that gap so when the roof is on, everything is tight to animals and birds. It was pretty repetitive work requiring lots of trips up the ladder. Next I installed the fascia board to the ends of the rafters. This will provide a nice cosmetic look but will also allow us to install gutters at some point which will allow us to capture water for use in the greenhouse. As you might notice, I have to get creative hanging a eleven feet long board with only two hands and one ladder. I made a jig that I temporarily screwed to the bottom side of a rafter to help support one end until I got the other end lined up and nailed into place.  To attach the roof panels, it will require me to have to reach across a four foot sheet without putting all my weight on the panels and perhaps going right through one. It do

Last Rafter

 Although it feels like a momentous accomplishment to get the last rafter fastened into place, I still have quite a bit of work before I can start adding the roofing panels. I still have to attach the fascia board so that someday in the future we can add gutters and perhaps a water collection system for use in the greenhouse. I also need to add some blocking to fill the gap between the top of the wall and the bottom of the roofing (and comprise the third build in purlin for support) and I have to flash all the fascia. Then I can start putting on the roofing material.  Then I can finish siding in the gable ends, apply waterproofing tape at all the seams, install doors and windows and everything will be weather tight. Hopefully all this happens before snow flies.


 A week after our last visit to the garden, we returned to find all of the above. Probably well over 100 pounds of filipino upo, three baskets full of green beans, another basket mostly of tomatoes plus tomatillos, egg plant and okra and another basket of filipino sitaw (long string beans) and bitter gourds (those green warty looking things).  It was way more than we cared to consume or preserve and so we sold all the upo to the asian store on our way back home. The three baskets of green beans, along with some bitter gourd, we gave away via social media and I turned the tomatoes and some frozen ones we had around into twelve pints of tomato soup ready to heat and eat this winter. I would have preserved some of the beans but we still have probably a two or three year supply already canned up.  I did start some tilling though it is really too dry to really do more than chop up the green vegetation on top and the mulch a bit. My goal is just to till in the mulch a bit so that come next s

Seething Over Sheathing

 With the exception of the gable ends, I finally got the exterior of the building sheathed and ready for application of siding, windows and doors. It wasn't without problems however. When I was trying to calculate how many sheets of plywood I would need to sheath the entire building, calculating it made my head hurt. So I figured I would order what I felt would cover most of it and then estimate how much was left and order that. It only had a lead time of a week the first time around and I knew I could haul the remainder in the minivan to avoid another delivery charge. So I put up what I had, calculated what I needed and place a second order.  The lead time on the website had changed from one week to three weeks but I didn't think that would matter as I had other places I could focus my attention on. But three weeks later on the last day of September, my order switched from being delivered on September 29 to just being on order. No notification except that change of the order s