Ouchy Ouch Ouch

Ben (our wannabe sled dog) dragged me over yesterday, onto the steps up to the sun porch sliders.  I landed on my shin, elbow, and fingers.  Don’t ask.  That’s the last time I ever take him out for a walk wearing sandals.

Sure, I quickly got an ice pack out of the freezer for my shin, but didn’t think about the rest of it at the time.  OMG.  My fingers and elbow are so swollen that they don’t really work properly.  I hope this only lasts for another day or two.

We have a realtor preparing the paperwork for an initial offer on our old place.  Assuming a little bit of bargaining back and forth, I’m going to have to sign the final contract.  It’d be nice if I could actually sign my name without having to grab the pen like a crayon.

Weekend Off

It’s nice to have a weekend to ourselves.  I don’t mind visiting mom every other weekend, bringing our own lunch, and doing household chores for her, but those weekends in between visits are great for getting things done around here.  The weather’s not always cooperative, though.

Yesterday, in anticipation of today’s open house at my old place, we had to go over there to mow the lawn, and do a lot of cleanup and mulching around the foundation beds.  The rain held off for the mowing, but there we were in the rain, weeding, cutting out dead perennial stuff from last year, and spreading mulch.  Not ideal.  My god, I had no idea how many thistles were starting to sprout among the azaleas, peonies, etc.  All I could do was dig down below soil level with my loppers, and chop off their taproots.  Couldn’t even nail what was left of them with Round-Up, because that needs an hour or two to dry before getting wet.  Forgot to bring the Preen with us.  Oh, well.  We got the mulch down in front of the house, which is what people see when they come up the walkway.  It looks so much better now.

Continue reading

Hori Hori Magic

Spring is here for real.  Lawns need to be mowed, instead of driveways plowed.  Aside from catering Easter dinner for my mom, and doing some household chores for her while we were there, we spent the weekend doing all sorts of lawn work.  We got the asparagus crowns and onions planted, along with the blueberry shrubs, and Elberta peach tree.  I’ve picked out a location for the fig whip; it’s a “Chicago Hardy” variety, which is supposedly hardy to USDA zone 5.  It should work just fine here.

I need to find the electric hedge trimmer in the barn, because I must get going on those overgrown arborvitae that are encroaching on our pool and patio areas.  Manual hedge clippers aren’t going to get the job done with any efficiency whatsoever.  Same deal with whatever perennial grass intersperses them.  Just cutting out the dead stuff from last year to let the new growth come in is exhausting.  So, I gave up on that after a few hours.  Save it for later with a power tool.

I put in the perennial herb garden after I weeded it by hand, drove in the stakes surrounding it, and let my other half staple the chicken wire to them.  So far, it has kept the chickens out of it, although it needs mulch to keep the weeds down.

The rest of the beds surrounding the house and pool needed weeding, too, but the old grab and yank method wasn’t going to get it done efficiently.  Fortunately, I managed to find my magic hori hori out in the barn.  Some people refer to it as a knife, but it’s really a Japanese multi-purpose gardening hand tool, primarily meant for digging.  I swear I grab that thing far more often than a trowel, a bulb planter, and a dandelion digger, combined.  It makes really short work of weeds, including the crap like dandelions and thistle that have taproots.  A hori hori is a glorious, magical tool, especially for tight spaces.

On another note, “Foghorn,” as I call the neighbors’ leghorn rooster, attacked me last week, on my own patio, while I was walking away from him, “Red,” the Rhodie rooster, and the girls.  I felt this flup-flup on the back of my knee, looked round, and there was Foghorn having a hissy fit, jumping up at me flapping his wings on the back of my legs.  He did this three times before I got pissed off enough to turn around, stomp my foot, and lean forward at him.  He backed off, and we had about a three second stare down.  That was the end of it.  I’ve no idea what set him off, but the next morning, he was as friendly and tame as ever.  I’m sure it would have scared the crap out of a little kid, but I thought it was funny.  What’s even funnier is that so far this week, Red has taken it upon himself to put Foghorn in his place from time to time.  I know jack about raising chickens, but I sure do enjoy observing them.

The Ghost Shark of Pinellas Park

Mom was okay with us skipping a visit this past weekend, because we plan to cater Easter dinner for her next Sunday.  That left us all weekend to get a lot of things done.  Sure, we did the usual grocery shopping.  We also did “guy store” shopping.  That meant Home Depot for a couple of potted perennial herbs, a six-pack of red leaf lettuce, a gallon of Ortho’s version of Round-Up 365, a dozen 1″ x 2″ x 36″ stakes, 50′ of 2′ tall chicken wire, and a dozen landscape timbers.  Got that stuff unloaded, then headed up to Tractor Supply Company.  That was a fruitful trip, in more ways than one.  Got two blueberry shrubs, a good sized Elberta peach tree, both red and yellow onion starter bulbs, a pack of russet potato seed potatoes, 100′ of 5′ tall 2″ x 4″ welded utility fencing, and a pair of men’s/boy’s Levis on super sale (in my size, which almost never happens!).

I wanted to fence off the herb garden area from the chickens, even though I’m not sure whether they’re into rosemary, oregano, sage, etc., but wanted a low enough fence that I could easily step over it.  The rest of the fencing materials are for the main veggie garden that we’re in the process of putting in.  It’s been rototilled a few times; the first time was breaking up lawn, but once that was broken up, it was much easier for subsequent passes.

Then, I moved on to looking for swimming pool accessories.  The old style super-sturdy canvas over rubber inflatable raft-like things we had when I was a kid, for beach or lake use, are still made, but are too short for an adult.  It’s amazing how expensive some of these pool float things have gotten to be, when you’re looking for something that’s either unsinkable closed cell foam, or something inflatable that’s not easily punctured.

Anyway, I found what I was looking for, but in my travels, so to speak, I came across Nicky’s ghost shark!

It’s even got handles, so he won’t get bucked off while riding it bareback!  It comes in a hammerhead model, too, which is probably more appropriate for FL than the great white model pictured.  I once saw a guy hook a hammerhead along the intercoastal waterway between Daytona and Daytona Beach.  The look on his face was “Oh, shit.  What now?”  Cut the line, buddy.  Cut the line.

Nicky hasn’t posted anything interesting since his arrival in FL.  Maybe he’s still overwhelmed by the change of scenery and climate.

Over and out for now.  I’ve got a lot of yard work to get done today, along with planting a bunch of the stuff we got over the weekend.

Nicky Should Have Arrived

Nothing yet from Nicky?  He should be there with Sheryl and Mark by now.  He did mention something a week or so ago about having sound on his computer when he gets to mommy and step-dad’s house.  Whether that means they have a new computer for him there, or his messed up sound drivers will magically reinstall themselves upon arrival is not known.  I’m curious to know how the trip went, and how much money he blew in the dining and bar cars on Amtrak.

On a completely different subject, it looks like one of our Kubota tractors is having a bit of an engine problem.  It’s the old one with shift drive, and power steering by “Armstrong.”  One of the cyclinders appears to have either quit, or was only partially working, after rototilling a half dozen rows worth of lawn for what will become our main kitchen garden.   It lost significant power to the rototiller attachment, and was belching out twice as much exhaust as usual, including some that had a bit of a blue tinge to the white-ish, instead of the occasional puff of black-ish, like it’s supposed to have.  For now, we’ll see if the rototiller can be hooked up to the three point hitch and power take-off on the smaller, hydrodrive tractor.  The front end loader should provide enough ballast.

We stopped by Tractor Supply Company yesterday for some spare hitch pins, another heavy duty j-hook ratchet strap, a 35 lb. bag of bird seed, 20 Jersey Knight asparagus crowns (always a reliable variety in heavy, rocky clay), and one Chicago Hardy fig whip.  The cashier told me she expected them to get in more Honeycrisp apple whips (they always seem to have an empty bin of them when we go there).  The chicks and ducks are still in stock, although I wouldn’t know what to do with them, if we bought any.

Back to my original subject:  where’s Nicky?  My apologies to the writer of this kids’ song for bastardizing the lyrics:

Oh where, oh where
Has our little Nick gone?
Oh where, oh where can he be?
With his height cut short
And his hair cut long
Oh where, oh where can he be?

UPDATE:

The rototiller attachment was successfully transfered off the old tractor onto the new one, and is making short work of digging up the rest of the lawn area we marked off for the new veggie garden.  Excellent.  It beats the hell out of having to dig up the rest by hand with shovels!  We can plant the asparagus crowns today, if we want, in another garden area, but it’s still too early to direct sow anything, or plant nightshade family seedlings we’re growing indoors for now.  It seems unlikely, but we could still get a snow dump later in April.

It’s Moving Day

Today is the big day.  Nicky makes the move from Morris, IL, to Pinellas Park, FL.  Thanks to Baup doing the research, we have an itinerary of sorts:

If I’m reading the Amtrak schedule properly, Nikki is in for a hell of a ride.
He has a
Six hour layover in Chicago
Seventeen and a half hour ride from Chicago to DC
Six hour layover in DC
Seventeen and a half hour ride from DC to Orlando
Just under 3 hour bus ride from Orlando to Clearwater

Holy guacamole, Batman!  That leaves an awful lot of room for him to toddle off and get lost between connections.  Even if he doesn’t, it’s going to take him roughly 50 hours to get to Clearwater.  Will Sheryl or Mark go pick him up at the bus station, or will he pull a Stella, and rely upon the kindness of strangers?  Only The Shadow knows …

He should have taken Greyhound.  It’d be faster and cheaper.  It’d be funny as all get out if he ended up at the Scientology Center in Clearwater.  Can you imagine the fuss he’d cause?

Concert Tickets and Chickens

Some people go see movies in a theater.  We prefer to see musicians perform live.  I bagged tickets to see BoDeans and Al Stewart later this Spring at a venue that is small, cozy, and wonderful.  We’ve seen them both before, more than once.  Kurt Neumann did a post-concert meet-and-greet, and posed for a pic with me.  Al signed two posters last time, and the time before that, signed a CD cover insert.  Both guys are very nice in person.  Got a front and center table for two for Al, which is even better than the front row table we got for Edgar Winter.  Didn’t have any such luck for BoDeans, but still got a table close to the stage.

Continue reading

It’s Aliiiiiiive!

Hat tip:  Sabledrake

After laying low for a while, I have it on good authority that Nicky’s reared his head once again.  He’s been harassing Brian Keene over the past week or two. My understanding is that the gist of it is some nonsense about how his Social Security number isn’t a toy, and how Nicky needs it to get a job.  Nicky, of all people, wanting to get a job?  Ha!  I wonder whether that was a precondition for moving in with Sheryl and Mark.  Unless he starts taking showers and washing his hair a few times a week, nobody’s going to hire him, even to stock shelves at WalMart.  Plus, his track record has been such that he either gets fired, or quits, within a few weeks.

He’s moving to Pinellas Park in three days.  Shouldn’t he be more worried about that than using his Tracphone to harass other people?  Anyway, he posted this last night to his public FB page.

It was accompanied by a very nice photo of Mr. Keene, copyrighted in 2014 by John Urbancik.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day

Nope, I won’t go anywhere near green beer, or wear anything green other than my emerald ring, and spruce green aran knit sweater.  Truth be told, I prefer Harp to Guinness, but whatever floats your boat …

My favorite local pub had its St. Paddy’s party last Sunday, with live music, probably because it would bring in more customers than they normally get on a Sunday.  We accidentally arrived there when it was in full swing.  We forgot they were having it five days early.  Oh, well; mostly it affected finding a parking space.  Everybody who works there knows us by now, and even the ones who aren’t working our table stop by to say hello.

Try the veal, and tip your waitress.  Um, or should that be try the lamb?  I used to like lamb when I was a kid, but cannot stomach it now; it’s too rich, and it smells funny when you cook it.

Whatever.  Happy St. Paddy’s, everyone!