Friday, July 22, 2016

Storm Watching

There is something deep inside me that loves a storm.
Last night there was a thunderstorm that blew through here late in the evening. Lots of cloud-to-cloud fireworks, with an occasional groind strike. Lots of nice flash and bang. Thunder cells rolled through one after the other.
I have always loved storms. My first recollection of an outstanding storm was the Columbus Day wind storm in Seattle. Sustained winds of sixty miles an hour with gusts up to eighty or so. I stood on the porch of our house on 21st ave and watched trees fall, power lines go down. Scary but somehow very enervating.
When I was stationed on Okinawa a Typhoon came though that was particularly nasty. When it was rolling up typhoon alley, they ordered all the B52s off island to protect them. When it passed by, they called them back. About the same time they got on the ground, the storm did a buttonhook and came back and hit with a vengance. Several planes were damaged. I heard that the head Airforce commander lost a stat over that misjudgement. I spent the night out in the storm.
I tied myseld to a pole out in the barracks parking lot so I couls feel the power of the storm. I was almost creamed by a garbage can. It was flying across the parking lot and I had to lift my legs to avoid having them smashed. It was such an awesome experience.
 The next storm that came through, we were called in for emergency duty in the hospital at Camp Kue. Our barracks was in Sukiran, about five miles away. We were loaded in a duece-and-a-half with the canvas removed and driven through the teeth of the storm. Our barracks was halfway up the side of a hill, and when we gor down to the bottom of the hill, the water was so deep you could not see the street. We had to look for fence and sign posts aling the side of the road and aim halfway in between. On ass kicking ride. Once we god there we had sandbag and mop duty.
When I was a single dad, living in my first home in West Seattle, there was a day long thunder storm. It was a warm cloudy windy summer day. In the evening, we were running low on milk, so Nathan and I walked up to the store to buy some. On the way back, a dog who had apparently been driven a little nuts my the storm came running bown the street growling and barking. Scared us pretty bad. With my left hand I pushed Nathan behind me to protect him. I stepped forward and with my right hand pointed at the dog and yelled 'stop" at the top of my lungs. At the exact momment I pointed and yelled there was a bolt of lightning that struck real close. It turned everything white for a second and the bang was deafening. The dog skidded to a stop right in front of us. His eyes got very big, and he turned tail and ran the other way as fast as he could go, yipping all the way.
I looked at Nathan and he looked at me, and we broke up laughing. I told Nathan "I think he thought he tried to bite god." We laughed all the way home.
SO when there is a storm you are likely to find me out in the middle of it feeling the power of nature. It is simultaneously invigorating and makes me feel insignificant.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Exhastipated

Exhausted + Constipated = Exhaustipated.
Definition: Too tired to give a shit.
Today is my 6th birthday, but I am too tired to celebrate. Mrs A came down with a nasty toothache a couple of weeks ago. Of course when she did, her regular dentist was on Vacation, and wouldn't be back for  better than a week. She got in touch with her dental assistant who came in to take an x-ray to see if anything showed up on the film. Nothing looked terribly bad, but they gave her a prescription for an antibiotic and an appointment when the dentist came back fro vacation.
Two days pass, and she is in terrible pain. I give up and call around until I find a dentist that will see her on an emergency basis. He really couldn't see anything on the z-ray, but sent us to another dentist to take a full panoramic film. Then back to the first guy. He gets a look and decides to send her to a third dentist for a root canal. That dentist convinces her to get a root canal and try to save the tooth. By then It s four days later and she is in terrible pain. They  did the root canal, put her on pain killers and more antibiotics. They didn't do the root canal. just opened up the tooth and squirted in antiseptic and antibiotics.
She doesn't get any better, so we make an emergency stop back with the Root canal lady, She is disturbed bu the fact that Mrs A is no better. She sends us to see an oral surgeon.
He is concerned that she does not seem to be responding to the antibiotics, and they decide to take out the tooth. It has now been two weeks.
The doctor tells us to keep a close eye on her, because at this point she is one step away from a visit to the emergency room.
Meanwhile she is miserable, and a terrible patient. Over the next couple of days, she is either awake and on pain, or takes her pain killers and antibiotics, and sleeping. I have pretty much stayed awake to keep an eye on her. We have actually talked about going to the emergency room a couple of times, but wait to talk to the dentist.
Today she seems to have turned the corner.  The hives and rash has gone down. The pain seems to be lessening. SO that is my birthday present, her turning the corner towards regaining her health.
Other than that I have not had what could in any way had what I would consider an outstanding day, but I am too tired to really care.
I had planned a visit to Neah Bay to visit the Makah Museum, and Caper Flattery, but Mrs A was just not up to it, nor to be truthful, was I. As soon as she is better ans we have a nice day, I plan on making the trip. Back about a couple of hundred years ago there was a landslide at Lake Ozette, which completely covered a pre-contact Makah village. The material excavated has been conserved and put on display in a museum at the tribal headquarters in Neah Bay.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Been too long

 So When I brought up my blog, I saw tht my last post was April 25th. Talk about a slacker!
Now that I am retired I find lots of  thigs to do otherr than write here.
Lots.
Solitaire.
Candy Crush.
Facebook.
You know, IMPRTANT stuff.
I do a lot of work outside though. Lately, we felled and cut up, split and stacked six small alder trees around the house. They were leaning over the house, and besides depositid stuff on the roof and patio, they cut off a lot of light.
I have not yet finished grinding up the leaves and branches with the chipper. It is more work grinding up the limbs than it is doing the rest of it.
One thing that has gone extremely well is the berry picking. For the uninitiated, that means trailing wild blackberries. Not the invasive Himalyan Blackberry that adorns every vacant lot. Those are mediocre. The trailig wild blacberries are much more scarce. Since we didn't get ere until the end of June last year, I only got in on the end of the season, and was hard pressed to get enough to make a batch of jam.
This year I went out erly, when the vines were in bloom and walked the area to spot areas that showed blooms. Then I kept an eye out for the first berries to ripen. By the middle of June I had my first gallon of berries, whch I immediately turned into jam..
There is nothing like some toast with butter and wild blackberry jam.M y very favorite. I went out picking every other day for the month od June and half of July. By now the season peak has passed, and I have another couple of gallons of berries in the freezer.
My mom's 90th birthday is in November, and I figure I will bring her a batch of jam for her birthday. She will appreciate the work that went into the picking and processing of the berries. It's not loke you can go to the store and buy some sugar free wild blackberry freezer jam.
Things have been a little hectic around here lately. Mrs A developed an infected tooth. Her regular dentist was, of course, on vacation, but the dental assistant came in to take a set of pictures of the tooth, gave her a prescription for an antibiotic and set up an appoontment for the next week. This was a week a go Monday, with the appointment the next week. By thursday she was in major pain, so I called around and fund a dentist willing to take her in on an emergency. He looked at it, and sent her to another dentist to take a panaoramic picture. He didn't like what he saw, so he sent her to another dentist for a root canal. Mrs A wanted to get the tooth pulled, but they opened up the tooth and squirted in some antibiotic and told her to come back on Monday. On Monday, they did a root canal, gave her some antibiotics and pain pills. It just got worse.
We went back in on Wednesday because she was in such pain. We were sent to yet another dentist, an oral surgeon.
He pulled the tooth. More antobiotics and pain killers.
She has been miserable for about two weeks now, but I think she has turned the corner. The oral surgeon was real concerned aout how she didn't seem to be responding to the antibiotics, told her that the next step would be a trip to the hospital if she doesn't get better.
Never a dull moment.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Checkup

Went into Port Angeles to see the doctor today. Just a periodic checkup.
One of my goals has been to get off of insulin, and I am right on the edge of doing just that. I need to get my createnin levels down a little more, but the trend has been downward ever since I got rid of the enormous kidney stone. It is not a huge deal, just an inconvenience to have to Carry around insulin and syringes.
On another front, when it was me VS the maple stump, I won, but not without cost.
 I irritated my bad shoulder, which has settled in to a case of bursitis. This limits my activities. Not being able to exert my left arm makes working in the yard difficult. It is getting better slowly, just not quick enough to make me happy.
I talked to the doc about getting a cortisone shot, not being in any hurry to shoot up steroids, and he agreed we should delay. Partly because he felt if he gave me a shot and my shoulder started feeling better, I would go out and do something stupid and re injure it (who, me?). SO I agreed to delay it, hoping it would get better by the time I have my next appointment.
The fruit trees we planted are all doing fine. I doubt we will have any fruit this year, but getting them in the ground and established was the goal for this year. Mission accomplished. It will be fun to see what happens with the five-in-one apple trees
The vegetable garden is doing fine, but by next year I hope to have more raised beds. I am currently using every square inch of the three raised beds I already have. I did lose one tomato plant. It was kinda sickly when I planted it, and it never did recover from being transplanted.
Four of the five everbearing raspberry plants are doing fine, but the fifth just site there. It has some buds on it but they don't seem to be doing anything. Hopefully I will get SOME berries this year. I love raspberry freezer jam.
We went out and bought a John Deere riding lawn mower. I was not particularly in favor of the purchase, but Mrs A wore me down. I agreed that some day we were going to need one, but figured we could get by with our old Honda self propelled mower for a couple of years. Carol was adamant. If we would need it i a couple of years, why not now? I had no argument that amounted to anything, so I caved.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Vacation

Just rolled in last night from a week of vacation.
It might be a bit difficult for someone on the outside to discern the difference between being on vacation when you are retired. The difference is that if we were home I would feel like I OUGHT to be doing something, even if I am not, whereas if we are somewhere else it becomes moot, as I cannot do the stuff I would feel guilty about not doing, even if I was not doing it.
Three days at Cannon Beach Oregon, one of our favorite places. Very artsy craftsy, with some high end galleries. Not to mention the Driftwood Restaurant which has the best clam chowder anywhere (for you Seattleites, yes I believe it is better than Ivars).
Unfortunately a couple of days before we got there, a wind had blown ashore a zillion purple sail jellyfish. Once stranded onshore, they of course commenced to rot. The stench was pretty bad. Also unfortunately you could not get down below the tideline without walking through their rotting corpses. When we got back to the unit the shoes had to stay outside. Mrs A was in favor of burning them, but I sat outside and cleaned them with my Swiss army knife. But they didn't thing one of the uses for the knife was to clean rotting animal corpses out of the tread of your tennies.
Then on to Coberg Or to visit my cousins. Ginger and her husband Par were our hosts and Rick and his wife Robin were our cell mates, or fellow guests. A good time was had by all. but Rick and Robin had to leave a little early to take care of a domestic situation. (Damn kids anyway).
My first proposition: In nature, if you see a structure on an animal that seems disproportionate to it's function is for cooling. For example the ears on an elephant are much larger than necessary for hearing. Why are they so large? for cooling. Same with the frill of the frilled lizard etc. What structure does mankind have that is disproportionate to the other members of the animal kingdom?
The brain. I propose that the intent of the large cranium is to cool the blood. The more surface area it has, the better the job it does. Our brains are very wrinkled so as to add more surface area for cooling. So the brain is a cooling tower for the body. The fact that it also allows some of us to formulate rational thought is just a byproduct of its primary purpose of cooling. This secondary characteristic is not as prevalent in some people, whose brains seem to serve little more purpose than cooling the blood.
Second proposition: Sociologists have suggested that mankind was originally a nomadic society, who followed the seasons and animal migrations, and eventually settled down to agriculture to grow grain as a food source. It is my counter proposal that mankind settled down too grow grain, but for the purpose of making beer. The earliest Sumerian villages left evidence of having vessels specific to brewing beer. How long did it take for them to discover fermentation, and then design a specific vessel to use for fermentation? Hundreds of years? Thousands? They didn't really have to settle down to grow grain for the table, Grain could be found in season. But brewing beer would require facilities and a steady supply of grain. SO therefore beer is the foot of all civilization.
The third and last proposition is that a good marriage can be obtained by the frequent repetition of the following words; "I'm sorry dear, it's all my fault, I apologize."

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Spring!

I  have neglected my blog as of late. My main excise s the weather. It has been too damned beautiful to sit inside on the computer.
I have been gardening. We have three 4' X 8' raise beds off of the patio. They were bereft of growing things when we moved in, so I planted Grandfather's onions in one and waited for spring. Well, spring is officially here, so in go radishes, lettuce, carrots and purple pod beans.
I bought and planted raspberry starts, I planted a "Fruit Salad" and a bush cherry. Then Lisa and Kieth brought over a bunch of stuff Two Bing cherries, a couple of "Five-in-one" apple trees.
The apple trees are cool. they have five varieties of apple on one rootstock. Then they had included four tomato starts, three cabbage starts, three broccoli plants and some flower bulbs an a couple of roses.
We split the flower bulbs 50/50. Half for the meadow, half for the flower gardens.
As I was planting there was something tattling around in the back of my head about Bings. Went on line to check, and yes Bing cherries require a pollinator. So I had to go in to town, and I found a Black Tartarian cherry at Home depot. Plants can be weird. A lot of plants are self pollinating, that is the blooms carry both male and female sex organs, so they can have reproduction all by themselves. Some species have male and female plants and require one of each to reproduce, and some, like Bing cherries require pollen from a different variety to produce.
In addition to the planting trees, I cut down a good sized alder tree and cut it into sections, getting it ready to turn into firewood. I have about half of it split and in the wood shed.
Unfortunately, I have had to take it a little easy, because I gave myself a bout of bursitis when pulling the maple stump out of the ground. So fay the treatment plan is: take a pain pill and keep on keepin'on. While that works out functionally, it doesn't do much for healing.
One of the common complaints here as far as gardening goes is the deer. All those succulent young green growing things are like a dinner table specifically set for the deer. As I mentioned to my buddy Dwight the other day when he commented that his money was on the deer "But I have automatic weapons" mind you the automatic weapon is a reproduction 1924 Thompson submachine gun that only shoots 6mm airsoft pellets, after a few ties of getting stung in the ass, I am sure that deer will get the idea. If thy don't I may have to step in up a notch.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Stumped

As I mentioned, I have been working at making a meadow full of wild flowers out in the woods.
I am taking the day off because it is raining out.
No, let's be completely honest here, I am taking the day off because I am sore and exhausted. The fact that it is raining is just the excuse I am using to take a day off.
It is coming along well, if slowly. The change in elevation is as much as five feet in places, so a lot of dirt needs to be moved around. Also that dirt is currently occupies by a jungle of ferns and salal with the occasional stump.
Most of the stumps are old and rotten. However there is the one......isn't there always the one?
It is a medium maple stump, a couple of feet in diameter, very twisted and gnarly. When I get it out, I am going to slab it out and turn it into furniture.
The key element of that plan is "getting it out".
To start with it is at the bottom of a hole or depression. The ground was five feet higher on one side than on the other. Then the root structure is convoluted. Layers of roots on top of layers of roots. Pick out a root and chop it is two only to find there us another root underneath that root, Uncover more of the root and chop it off further away from the stump to get it out of the way. Repeat.
I have finally gotten it to the point that, it I give it a good kick, it actually moves a little. Enough that I know I am close to getting it out.
The trouble is that I have chopped off all of the visible roots, and don't know of any additional roots to chop. I just need to go at it with mattock and shovel until I find the last remaining root (at least I pray there is only one move).
To add to the problem in the fact that in moving, I seem to have lost all my chains, rope, come-alongs and my chain hoist. The stump, when cut loose will probably go a couple hundred pounds. I think a trip to Harbor Freight is in the near future.
However, there is a can of black powder I just bough for my muzzle loaders.
Here, hold my beer and watch this.........