Strawbs Tix

Suh-weet.  I just snagged tickets to see Strawbs at one of my two favorite venues, and got our two favorite seats!  They’re contemporary with Moody Blues and Wishbone Ash, and sound like a weird mix of both, plus a few others from that era, including some country and Irish things, with their own sound.  The tickets were a really reasonable price, or I wouldn’t have bought them.

Some people spend spare bucks on going to movie theaters.  We prefer to spend them on live music concerts.  Funniest thing is that this venue originated as a movie theater back in the 19th century.  It’s almost as old as my house.


Brought over another “care package” for our neighbors yesterday.  Since their zucchini crop is underwhelming this year, we tucked in four zucchinis, a couple of straightneck yellow squashes, some bell peppers, jalapeños, Thai chilis, a loaf of homemade zucchini bread (the recipe I use from Beard on Bread makes two loaves), and a half-pint of homemade hot pepper jelly.  Used our zucchini, and their eggs for the loaf of bread.

They had a kid’s birthday party pool party on Saturday, so I didn’t want to intrude on their property while that was going on, even to just leave the box by their front door.  They decorated the whole pool area, and even hired a DJ.  Made sense to wait until Sunday to drop it off for them.

I’m not sure why they’re having zuke problems this year while ours are going gangbusters, but it does give me the opportunity to give them our excess.  We only planted two hills of zukes, and one of yellow squash this year, yet our harvest is as good as I’ve ever seen it.  It’s all organically grown.  The tomatoes are all coming along nicely, but won’t be ready to harvest for another two weeks, since that’s how late everything is this year after a cool Spring.

It’s going to be a fantastic year for hard squash.  Those vines are taking over the garden, and every so often, have to be redirected so they don’t strangle other things.  They’re are an odd mix of pure butternut, pure sugar pumpkin, and a couple of other things that seem to have hybridized, so we don’t really know what they are.  Regardless, they’re all edible.

The canteloupe vines seem to have made a comeback from the critter chewing they got earlier in the season, but the cuke is so pathetic after its chewing that I expect nothing from it.  Oh, well.  If I want to make dill, or bread & butter pickles, I can always buy the cukes at a grocery store.  They’re inexpensive in season — assuming I can find the pickle sized ones, instead of the long slicers.

This growing season for our kitchen garden is turning out to be a really good one.  It’s always questionable the first year you plow a grassy spot, fence it in, and try it.  Obviously, I picked a good place for it in the yard, but year to year is always a surprise, regarding what produces.

Got to (Partially) Return Favors

As many of you know, our next door neighbors occasionally drop off free range eggs for us.  We had no way of reciprocating until the section of lawn we dug up, fenced in, and planted for a kitchen garden last Spring began to produce something.  It’s producing loads of stuff, but the only things harvestable so far are peppers and a couple of varieties of summer squash.

Finally, yesterday, I was able to deliver a boxful of garden produce to our neighbors.  They tell us their zucchini yield isn’t so great this year, so I tucked in a couple of stuffable sized ones, a yellow squash, some sweet banana peppers, some pepperocinis, and a giant fistful of jalapeños.  Also threw in a pint of red raspberry syrup that we only processed and canned last week.  I’m not sure about the alleged pepperocinis; they look more like cubanelles.

My neighbor didn’t see me cut across his front yard to drop them off by the front door, because he was going out to their pool with two little girls, but on my way back, he saw me, and waved.  I waved back, and semi-yelled the 50 yard distance at him that I’d left some veggies by his front door.

FWIW, I rather like it that we don’t as a rule trespass on each other’s property, unless there’s a reason to do so, and we’re both pretty easygoing about it.  For the sheep shit delivery, we gave him permission to drop it off behind the barn, so that’s not even trespassing.  They only keep chickens next door; the sheep are over at the B&B farm they own a few miles down the road.  When it’s been aged, it doesn’t stink, and it’s great fertilizer.

This is shaping up to be a fantastic year for the winter squash varieties that we grow:  sugar pumpkins, banana, and butternut.  All make either good soup, or mash for “pumpkin” pie, because of their low water content.  Our cucumber and canteloupe production is still questionable, but mostly because either a rabbit or groundhog made it in there to nibble off chunks of them two weeks ago, and they’re still recovering.  The potatoes are looking really good, too.  Everything’s happy with the load of sheep shit.  We do grow our veggies organically, but since we’re not a working farm selling “truck goods” to anybody, even at a dinky roadside stand, there’s no point to getting government certification to prove it.

On a different subject, my other half hitched up the big trailer and picked up a barely used 5′ wide box blade (sometimes called a box scraper), yesterday, for a little under half the cost of a new one, and got the better part of  the rocky spur of our driveway that leads to the barn regraded.  It’s like having a whole new driveway section.  We questioned whether either one of our tractors had enough horsepower to pull it, instead of a 4′ wide one.  Turns out both do, but when you’re regrading something, you’re going to do it in first gear, anyway.

Best Bathing Suit EVAH

Generally speaking, I look much better in one piece suits than bikinis.  But, when they’re wet, they are so difficult to get out of, and back into, when a potty run is needed.  A “skirtini” is a good second choice, and I have one that looks fine on me.  But, on a lark, I bought a Reebok tank suit that has a zipper in the front.  OMG, that’s the best of both worlds — easy off and back on when wet — and it covers everything in front and back that needs to be covered.  No, the zipper doesn’t slide down by itself, which is fantastic!

I originally thought all my old bathing suits were losing their zippity do dah around the legs.  Nope.  They were simply one size too large for me nowadays.

Cousin Visiting Next Weekend

Finally, we have a (semi) firm date for my cousin and her husband to visit us, and see our farm.  I’ve never met her husband, but mom likes him.  Of course she would; when she first met him, he spent an entire day working on the iPad dad used before he died, to get it up to speed.  He even tried to teach her how to use it.  Mom’s not good with anything electronic, or mechanical for that matter.  She can’t even change an AA battery in an analog alarm clock, and reset it, or change a lighbulb.  She puts that on her honey-do list for whenever we visit, or my cousin does.

Anyway, my cousin and her husband are driving up from NC to visit her niece first, for a day, then my mom for a day and a half, and swing by our place on their way back home.  She wants to spend half a day here, seeing the place, and take us out to dinner.  She refused my invitation to spend the night here, even though they could have had the entire annex to themselves.  The annex is set up to be it’s own apartment, which can be closed off from the main house.  Mostly, she wanted to be sure to get to Longwood Gardens the moment they open the next morning, so they could go through it, and hit the road back to NC early afternoon.  They won’t have time to visit Winterthur after Longwood, this trip, which is unfortunate; she would love it. Continue reading

Box Blade and Baby Gate

Ever since I bought that used Kubota tractor with less than 300 hours on it, my other half has decided it’s the best thing since sliced bread.  Originally, it came with a 48″ mower deck, and landscape tires.  I paid extra for a new snowblower for the three point hitch, and a set of wheels/tires that have really deep tread, instead of just landscape tread.  That was my contribution to the cause.

Since then, my other half has paid for a new front end loader, which has already been put to good use for more than ballast, loading and moving dirt and sheep shit, a new “potato harvester” that digs nice furrows, and two other used attachments for the hitch.  Yesterday, he found a used box blade in really good condition.  The guy selling it bought it at a barn sale, with the objective of reselling it.  He originally wanted $400 for it, but came down to $300, when he admitted that it’s missing one blade (which has no effect on its usability).  It had obviously been stored outside for years, but not used very much.  We’ll see if we can pick it up late Wednesday afternoon or early evening.  The seller is a good two hour drive from here.  He’s got the wherewithal to load it onto whichever trailer we decide to use.

We need the box blade to regrade the unpaved portion of our driveway that leads off the main drivway down to the barn.  It’s getting a bit washboard-y, which is not unusual for stone over dirt roads and driveways.

FWIW, not everyone who lists something on Craigslist is a jackass.  That’s how we got our big trailer, the bush hog, a second Kubota tractor that can easily pull a fully loaded hay wagon, and the pool table.  If nothing else, these private sales don’t have state sales tax added to the agreed upon price, and it’s not my problem if the seller doesn’t fork it over to the state after the cash deal is done.

On a completely different subject, some woman who lives in my old neighborhood a couple of miles away wants our baby gate.  We used to have two of them to keep our dog away from the cats until he learned to ignore them.  She was looking for one now that her 18 month old goes everywhere and gets into everything.  My other half gave one away months ago to someone who worked in the same building he does, so we only had one left.  Told her she could have it for free, since we no longer have a use for it, but she’d have to come pick it up.  It really is a baby gate, not a dog gate.

She knows we no longer have the mounting hardware for it, but it will hand crank to wedge in pretty tightly anywhere from 24″ to very close to 4′ wide.  It’ll fit anything from a stairwell to French doors.  She and her family are on vacation this week, and can’t come pick it up until next week, but she is thrilled to have it.  If it doesn’t do the trick for her, she can toss it, or give it away to someone else.  I simply hate getting rid of items that are in perfectly good shape, for which we no longer have a use, which is why I haven’t already thrown it out.  There’s no point to even asking a token $5 for it.  Take it; it’s yours.  Just come pick it up.

Pet Store

The one I use happens to be Pet Supplies Plus.  Some things are cheaper elsewhere (rawhide strips at my local grocery store, or pig ears from my local feed mill).  Nonetheless, it’still the best place to go for kitty litter, cat food, and dog food, when they have a sale going.

This time, I forgot to bring my printed out $5 off $30+ coupon, and thought I was screwed.  Not so.

If you ask, you might not get, but if you don’t ask, you won’t get.  I asked, and got the extra $5 off, even though I forgot to bring the coupon with me.  I love this pet store.

Dad’s Shirt

This shirt that I wear as a bathing suit cover-up is a leftover from the 1950s.  Dad gave it to me years before he died.  On him, it came down to the top of his hips.  On me, well, it covers what it needs to.

Yay, dad!  Your legacy lives!

Visiting Mom

Drove over to mom’s yesterday to visit for a few hours, weed her foundation plantings, and do other household stuff for her.  That took an hour. As always, she had tales to tell, half of which we’d heard before.  Despite her complaints, she seems to be doing well, or at least is in pretty good spirits.

We arrived before she got back from getting her lunch.  She was expecting us, and left a door unlocked, so we didn’t have to stand in the driveway until she got back.  She noticed that my car looked a little different, but thought “maybe it’s the way the sun’s hitting it.” then drove past it into her garage.

So, I introduced her to “Helga,” and gave her a mini-tour of it.  Of course she asked how much I paid, and what all the features are.  Questions asked and answered, she was very enthusiastic about it, especially since she’d been telling me for that past year “you should get a new car,” even though there was nothing wrong with my old one, except that it was approaching 10 years old, which is when I typically trade them in.

I also gave her two gifts:  dryer balls, and a tea towel from Spam, as in Hormel.  She liked them.  She completely got the Spam thing.  The Spam museum is in Ausin, Mn.

Funniest thing?  She’s thrilled I got a new car, and really likes it.  She likes it better than her Lexus.  And, it’s just a Volvo.

I told her I was going to get either a Volvo or Audi, but the Volvo won!  Sweet car, and nice visit with mom.



Kudos to my local Volvo dealer.  Got a sweet deal on a fully loaded vehicle for cash, plus my trade-in, for $12k less than MSRP, delivered price, including tax, title, and registration.  Wasn’t looking for “fully loaded” per se, and probably won’t use half the features, but the vehicle I got was the best value they had in stock by far.  It happened to have all the extras.  I cut the check last night to buy it outright, and took delivery today.  Refused to pay extra for an extended warranty, or shit like tire and wheel insurance.  The thing is, by the time I make an appointment with a car dealer’s sales manager, I already know what I want.

I lurves it!  It’s like driving my old Saab, but 10 years newer.  It’s got the same semi-stiff suspension I’m used to, all the controls are where I expect them to be, and if anything, it’s a bit zippier than my old car, which is pretty remarkable for its heavier curb weight.  Cruise range and fuel tank capacity are similar.  I’ve nicknamed it Helga.

Tomorrow, I sell the old house.  After what the buyers put me through leading up to closing, I didn’t even leave them an extra roll of t.p.  We cleared out everything that we had left in the house and machine shed this afternoon, which wasn’t much.  No bottle of champagne in the fridge for them.  Not from me, anyway.

The broker’s fee, and the county transfer fee, will be deducted from the sale price, along with some other minor things, but I get a prorated refund on the muni, county, and school taxes I already paid, so, with no mortgage to pay off, I end up pocketing approximately 93% of the contract price.  I could buy 10 Helgas for what I’m going to receive, in the form of a check, at closing tomorrow,  which basically is cash, once it’s deposited.