Archive for May 2015

05-30-2015 Journal – Computer Nightmare!   Leave a comment

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Gardening and other outdoor pursuits have taken a spot much lower on my priorities list today. Yesterday we had a very short thunderstorm (badly needed) but with it came many problems.  Some sort of power surge crashed my home network and fried my router. I spent most of yesterday attempting to repair and correct the problems.  What a pain in the butt.

My home network is quite comprehensive (when working) and an absolute nightmare when it isn’t.  Losing the router shut down our alarm system, the telephone system, the Xbox, the DVD player, the MyCloud, the Internet, and all printing capabilities.  It’s times like these that force me to realize just how much our household relies on this damn technology.

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After doing a lot of testing I determined the router had truly been destroyed.  Since it was rather old replacing it wasn’t that big of a deal.  Unfortunately that old router had been attached to the Time Warner modem on the Internet feed which was also badly damaged. It was off to my home-away-from-home, Best Buy, to begin the rebuilding process.  I upgraded to a newer model of  router and also purchased a network battery backup system. Then I stopped off at Time Warner on the way home and traded in the old modem for a new data modem.

I returned home and installed the new equipment which turned out to be much easier than I anticipated.  Good news, right?  No effing way.  As I began the process of making sure all of our devices were reprogrammed to the new system I found a new problem caused by the upgrade.  My “Old Faithful” of a desktop computer refused to connect to the new and improved network.  Unfortunately this desktop is four years old and is my main storage device  for over five thousand music files and an additional twenty-five thousand photographs. Please, just shoot me now.

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The desktop also has my only working copy of Windows Live Writer which is one of the best programs ever created for posting blogs. Microsoft in it’s infinite wisdom has discontinued the product and that puts me in a serious bind.  If I can’t resolve the network issues with this computer I’ll be totally and truly screwed.  The repair work will continue today and this posting will probably be handled through the WordPress system.

I love computers but OMFG can they be frustrating.  Between virus protection, firewalls, hackers, and network requirements, it can make a person crazy.  Hopefully I’ll figure things out quickly but as always with computers I expect the worst. I’ll keep you posted ( no pun intended).

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05-28-2015 Journal-Bright Colors!   2 comments

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Now that the vegetable garden has been planted I can relax and enjoy my summer a little. Since I’ve been boring everyone with a continuous stream of vegetable garden information I thought it was time to change things up just a little. I’d like to talk about flower gardens.

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My better-half and I decided a long time ago to split the responsibilities when it came to yard work. I was responsible for the vegetable garden and yard maintenance and she would take care of the many flower beds on the property as well as her container garden on the deck. Her results over the last few years have been more than a little spectacular.

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It’s still May and we are only a few weeks away from that cold and miserable weather of April.  Her early plantings and seedlings that she started weeks ago are already beginning to bloom.  We both love as much vivid color as we can get and that’s reflected in the many containers on our deck. All of these photographs were taken yesterday and will give you some idea of the variety of colors we’re hoping to have all Summer long.

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In another month these deck containers will turn the deck into a wonderland of color.  Late in the Summer it’s like walking through an arboretum.  A wide variety of colors combined with unusual herbs help to make it a fun place to sit, relax, and enjoy a good book.  It’s a win/win because the deck is on the second floor which translates to no mosquitos, bugs, or other annoying creatures except for the occasional wasp.

I’ll update these photo’s as the season progresses. It’ll be getting positively Mother Naturish (my made-up word) around here by July.

05-26-2015 Journal – One of Those Days!   Leave a comment

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I’m suffering from a total lack of interest today. It rained through the night just a little and I’m not really in the mood to be playing in the garden mud this morning. I rolled out of bed a little later than usual and had an unappetizing breakfast of healthy cereal which tasted a lot like cardboard. I knew it was going to be one of those day when I left a kitchen cabinet door open and then proceeded to walk into it a few minutes later putting a small notch in my head.  That’s what I mean when I say "One of those days."

The next thing was the damn alarm system.  It’s nice to have technology in my life but when I have to put up with a smart ass alarm system telling me how stupid I am, it’s kind of embarrassing. After screwing around for ten minutes I finally set the alarm, got in the car, and left the garage.  Five seconds after the garage door closed I realized I’d forgotten my camera and telephone.  Back to the house, turn off the alarm, get my stuff, and then back to try and set the alarm once again. If the burglars have as much trouble getting in as I had getting out we should be completely safe.

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I then headed to the first of six nurseries trying to find cayenne pepper seedlings.  For some reason unknown to me or the nurserymen, there seems to be a shortage of cayenne peppers this spring.  I normally can buy a six pack of the plants for a couple of dollars but not this year.  My last stop was at a nursery well known for it’s impossibly high prices for just about everything. They had only three cayenne pepper plants, each planted in separate container, with a cost of $3.99 a plant.

BS I tell you!

As I was leaving empty handed I had an uninterested employee ask me in that awful politically correct tone, “Have you found everything you were looking for sir?”.  I nicely told her no. I was looking for a few decent prices but couldn’t find even one.

Double BS!!

I’ve also been looking for a new garden bench for the last few weeks with no success. I stopped at Home Depot today after checking out their website which listed close to twenty different types. I searched for twenty minutes through that huge building and was beginning to get a little frustrated.  Depot has never been known for it’s customer service and that hasn’t changed a bit. After tracking down a store employee who did his best to avoid me, I asked about the benches. He explained to me, the pain-in-the-ass customer, that they have no benches in inventory. He gave me one of those smarmy smiles and told me they were an online purchase only. 

Triple BS!!!

Screw them, I left in a huff after wasting most of my morning.  I revisited my reliable local nursery and purchased a few additional Ghost pepper plants and a six pack of orange bell peppers. Total cost, $5.20.  I never did find a effing bench but I’ll sit my butt on the ground before paying $199.99 for one.

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This day has sucked soooo bad.  I guess it’s time for me and the cat to kick back and relax on the deck. I can sip a drink and relive the last few hours of this stupid day and try to smile. The cat could care less either way. He just lays there like he always does thinking about what cats think about. He’s not smiling either.

05-24-2015 Journal– Garden Progress!   Leave a comment

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The final plants are being planted and within a week the garden will be left to grow and bloom on it’s own.  It may require fertilizer one more time in mid-summer and steady watering but the hard work is mostly over for me.  I’ll be back at it sometime in October for the final harvesting, cleanup, and soil preparation for next year.

Even though we had a frost scare the other night the plants are doing fine.  A few of them were nipped by the cold but should survive without a problem. Feeling a little motivated this morning I was in the garden early to do some final plantings.  It was another chilly night last night and the winds haven’t lessened in the least.

The better-half recently purchased a spaghetti squash plant and I planted it today. We love spaghetti squash but have had no luck growing our own. Maybe this year will be different. 

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I decided to plant another basil because our original plantings look terrible. They may ultimately recover but I thought another large plant should be planted just in case.  If they all take off like I hope they will, we’ll have more than enough to dry and store this Fall.

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I planted another dozen marigolds around the perimeter of the garden which will hopefully keep those annoying critters away.  It’s a win/win because they also add a nice touch of color to the garden.

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We’re also trying to grow leeks for the first time.  I don’t anticipate them growing too large due to our short growing season. We’ll probably be eating them half-grown like scallions for use in soups or salads.  I may even be able to freeze some for our winter meals.  I’m crossing my fingers on this one because I love the flavor of leeks.

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So we have another garden almost completed and the waiting can then begin.  Barring any unforeseen catastrophes we should have great results in the Fall.

05-22-2015 Journal – Memorial Day!   2 comments

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‘Remember’

With the Memorial Day weekend looming we can all sit back and watch the television programming meant to honor those service men and women who have paid the ultimate price.  Being an Army veteran I hesitate to participate in the required litany of praise, sorrow, and remembrances that seem to be mandatory these days.  As a vet I never expected praise for my service because it was the right thing to do, for me.  I wanted to pay back a little to the country that kept me free.  It’s more comfortable for me to celebrate the holiday in a private manner without all of the hoopla. 

I had a number of friends who proudly served their country but never made it home and I remember them all too often.  I have no need for making some sort of holy pilgrimage to "The Wall" in DC to stand and sob and leave tokens. I’ll fly my flag with pride in silence, remember my lost friends in silence, and try to live my life in a way to make them proud.

So there’ll be no sad stories here because I prefer to celebrate this day my way. It takes special people to voluntarily place themselves in harms way with the fear of dying a real possibility, especially these days.  Nothing saddens me as much as the people in this country that have never served and criticize those who do.  Waving a flag and watching fire-works displays twice a year leaves me flat.

I’m looking forward as most people do to the Summer months but using Memorial Day as a spring board for that seems a little disrespectful, to me. Make a contribution to the Wounded Warrior Project, quietly remember the fallen, kiss your children, and live your life to the fullest. That’s the best way to remember them because they died so you could.

Let’s make flying the American flag the only dignified display required for celebrating this day.

IS YOUR FLAG FLYING?

05-20-2015 Journal–Time for Planting!   Leave a comment

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It appears that the weather will finally permit me to get back into the garden.  I’ve been monitoring the long-range weather forecast for a week and it looks as if the chances of a hard frost are behind us.   Most of the night time temperatures for the next two weeks are in the high forties and low to mid-fifties.  Today is the day that the majority of the garden will be planted.

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I’ve had a lot of plants in my cold frames for more than a week letting them get accustomed to the weather and cooler temperatures.  I collected my three dozen hard boiled eggs, a bag of fertilizer, and headed to the garden.

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Dig a five inch deep hole, drop in an egg, crush the top, drop in a little fertilizer, and set the plant in place.  Do it about ten more times and you have a nice patch of jalapenos peppers  to harvest later in the Summer.

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Next came the cherry tomato plants. I decided to double the number of plants from last year because we eat so much salad during the Summer months. We came up a little short last year and I don’t want that happening again. What good is a salad without tomatoes.

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I planted the zucchini, yellow squash, and kohlrabi’s next but ran out of eggs.  I plan on picking up more eggs tonight and tomorrow I can plant all of the remaining cucumber plants.  Twenty minutes of sprinkling completes the planting for today. Hopefully we’ll get some rain in the next few days or I’ll be running the sprinklers again.

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I was a little surprised to find that I had two areas in the frames where I could add some miscellaneous plants.  The better-half and I will decide what else we need and have them planted over the weekend.  My goal was to have everything planted before the end of the Memorial Day weekend and we’re right on schedule for a change.

05-18-2015 Journal–It’s Festival Time!   Leave a comment

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With Spring underway in Maine the plants can’t wait to get out of the ground.  With such a short growing season no time is wasted by either Mother Nature or the people who live here.  As I posted a few weeks ago people were on the beach already wearing bikinis.  That’s even early for native Mainer’s but it didn’t stop them.

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The tourist season in Maine is huge and it’s important to keep the visitors entertained and happy.  That’s why during Spring and Summer months there’s a steady stream of festivals, farmer’s markets, fairs, and individual town celebrations.

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Last weekend my better-half returned from her week long trip and we were able to get out and enjoy the sunny weather on Saturday.  We were making our way through the city of Sanford to visit a nursery further south in North Berwick. We happened upon our first town gathering of the year.  It was some type of farmer’s market where booths were set up by neighboring farms selling their homemade products and plants.  We immediately parked and began to mingle.

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It’s always fun to visit with the farmers and to purchase a few products while also snapping a few pictures.  Everyone was enjoying the beautiful day and the excellent company.  It was one of my first visits back to the city where I lived for eight years and I was glad to see things hadn’t changed at all. People were as friendly as I remembered and welcoming of any and all visitors.

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‘It was a great start to what will be a great Summer.’

05-16-2015 Journal– Squirrel Peace Treaty!   Leave a comment

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I’m happy to announce that a peace treaty has been reached in my eight year struggle with the squirrels.  Every place I’ve lived and gardened over the years I’ve been forced to deal with those little delinquents who insist on driving me insane.  I’ve tried just about everything but I’ve never gotten the upper hand. 

Seven years ago we were inundated with a population surge of red squirrels. They’re much more aggressive than the grays and caused a great deal of damage to my deck and feeders.  I spent some money for ammunition and was able to thin the herd a little.  After tons of research and the expenditure of more money than I care to think about, I found feeders the little bastards couldn’t get into.  They continued to visit my deck and tried over and over again to piss me off without much success.

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One side of our property faces a wooded area where gray squirrels dominate and on the other side of the property the trees are filled with reds.  I was beginning to feel overrun like the last guy at the Alamo.  I hated shooting them so I continued  looking for a way to make peace.

Earlier this year I decided to try misdirection on them by installing a squirrel feeder behind the house.  It’s easily in reach by both factions but it also keeps all of them away from my house and deck.  Now they can battle amongst themselves for the food I supply and I get to sit back and watch the fun.

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Finally I have a little piece of mind.  I had to buy the feeder and the corn to put in it but I can live with that. As you can see from these photos these little guys have no fear of humans, especially this human.  I walked around taking these photo’s and he never blinked an eye.

His new routine begins every morning around 7:30 am.  He shows up for his breakfast and then climbs back into the trees.  I’ve made peace with the reds but the grays have yet to attempt a visit to the new feeder.  The war will continue between them but for a change I won’t be stuck in the middle.  It’s worth every penny.

05-14-2015 Journal- Family Gardening!   Leave a comment

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I love the Spring of the year.  It rejuvenates me like no other season can.  I can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning, go outside in the garden, and just mellow out.  I’m sorry if I sound a little like a hippie or a New Ager but it can’t be helped. 

With the better-half still out of town I decided to get as much done as possible with the garden before she returns home.  I traveled a few miles down the road to my favorite nursery yesterday.  It’s rather small and family run but the plants and seedlings I purchase there always seem to do better than the stuff the big box stores are peddling.  This small nursery takes a great deal of pride in supplying their customers with the healthiest and happiest plants they possibly can.

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I arrived at the nursery the day after Mother’s Day and the place was cleaned out.  The staff was busily restocking the greenhouses and repotting seedlings as fast as they could.  The owner who’s become a friend of sorts over the years told me that this Mother’s Day weekend was the best weekend they’ve had since opening the nursery almost fifteen years ago.  I love hearing things like that. It seems people are once again finding a home garden something they want to do and do properly.

I can thank my parents for my interest in gardening.  My late Mother was really into growing a large assortment of flowers and her knowledge of herbs was amazing.  She passed that knowledge on to me and I  thank her everyday.  To me she’s always seems to be hanging around my garden talking with the plants and checking things out as she always did. 

My Dad was more into growing vegetables and I picked up a lot of information and tips from him over the years as well.  He also educated me on the proper curse words to use when describing deer, groundhogs, and rabbits.  His war with them was epic and never-ending and it gave the rest of the family a lot of laughs over the years.  Just as a point of fact, he never won that war.

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‘Culpeper’s Complete Herbal’

This is my favorite book on herbs.  I’ve had my old copy for more than thirty years and for me it’s a real connection to the past.  Some of the information is outdated but in it’s day it was the ultimate source for herbal facts and remedies.

I purchased a few dozen marigolds yesterday that I intend to plant around the perimeter of the garden. They seem to magically keep the deer and other pests away and it something we’ve done for years.  Many of my neighbors complain constantly every summer about the wildlife that comes to visit and damage their gardens. I’m not sure just why marigolds keep them away but they do. I’ve been told it has something to do with their  fragrance but who really knows?

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Tomorrow my garden work continues with a general clean up but I won’t be planting anything else for at least the next two weeks. The fear of a hard frost  remains a real possibility until sometime after Memorial Day.

I can’t wait to get up and get going.

05-12-2015 Journal–Trivial Pursuits!   Leave a comment

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I think it’s time for another installment of what this blog is all about,  everyuselessthing. It’s a few of those less than important facts you’ve never known you wanted to know. I have a lot more free time this week since my better-half left Maine for vacation in Delaware. Why Delaware? Who knows, maybe she’s attracted to the second-rate beaches and the throngs of uninteresting people.  Things are beautifully quiet here and my time is my own at least for the next four days. The cat and I have settled in rather easily as two lone bachelors.

So lets kick this off right now with a load of these odd, weird, and true facts.

Enjoy.

  • Dean Martin, born Dino Crocetti, boxed under the name Kid Crochet as a teenager.
  • A fully mature oak tree sheds around seven hundred thousand leaves every year.
  • Banging your head against the wall burns 150 calories an hour.
  • The storage capacity of the human brain exceeds four terrabytes.
  • The average talker sprays about three hundred microscopic saliva drops per minute – about two and a half droplets per word.

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Not bored yet?  Keep reading, I’m not nearly finished.

  • Societies in ancient Rome, Germany, and China used urine as a mouthwash.
  • It takes only seven pounds of pressure to rip off your ear.
  • The world’s termites outweigh the world’s humans by ten to one.
  • An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.
  • The par for the world’s largest golf hole – the 909 yard seventh hole on Japan’s Sano golf course – is seven.

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Now lets look into the wonderful and delicious world of food.

  • Miss Piggy once said, “Never eat more than you can lift.”
  • Almonds are members of the peach family.
  • Pepper is the top selling spice in the world. The second is mustard.
  • Bombay Duck is actually dry, salted fish.
  • Tic Tac’s contain carnauba wax. The same ingredient found in car polishes.

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And last but not least a few sexual tidbits.

  • Humans spend two years of their lives making love.
  • Four pope’s died while participating in sexual acts.
  • Every year more than eleven thousand Americans hurt themselves trying out bizarre sexual positions.
  • A real orgasm is said to burn 112 calories. A fake orgasm is said to burn off 315 calories.
  • On average it takes two tablespoons of blood to make a man’s penis erect.

Do you feel any smarter than you did a few minutes ago?  If you do then I suspect you’re delusional or just kidding yourself.  It’s called useless information for a reason and it will have no redeeming social value whatsoever.

I’m almost sorry about that but not quite.