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.........

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Next Winters Wood

Although we have a very good heat pump, we choose to heat the house with a wood stove. Electricity is expensive, and firewood is free as long as you don't mind the work.
Since we have 3 1/2 acres of woods, there is plenty of firewood for the stove, but it is in no condition to be burned.
When we got here, there was about a cord of firewood, aged and in the woodshed. (For you city slickers a cord is a stack of wood 4' X 4' x 8')
There were a couple of downed firs laying around, so I got a chainsaw and turned them into stovewood.
That was all dead stuff, and there were a couple of dead snags, so I also turned them into firewood. We ended up with about four cords of firewood in the woodshed. We are now down to about a cord and a half, which should work out about right, since the worst of winter is over.
So now is the time to start working on next years firewood, since it needs to dry and age for most of a year before it is seasoned properly.
I am working in an area to the northwest of the garage, which had a couple of downed trees, which have been processed, That pretty much opened up an area about40 feet in diameter, which is covered mostly in ferns and salal.
I decided it should be turned into a meadow. I felled a small maple and a fir that was about to fall down. When I get finished with them, I am going to go in and clear out the brush. Then for the good part.
I have gotten a bunch of wildflower seed mix, called "Meadow in a Can" which I will sprinkle throughout the area. It has like fifty varieties of flowers, so it ought to be beautiful. I just need to get out there and do the work to clear the brush and stumps out.
It will be a LOT of hard work, but if it lives up to my vision, it will be awesome.

Friday, January 22, 2016

1 3/4 thumbs up

I haven't posted much on here lately for a couple of reasons.
There has been a quite a bit going on, and also I chopped off the end of my left thumb.
While chopping off the end of my thumb is embarrassing, in the end it will be of no major importance.
I had started working on next winter's firewood. There was this rather spindly Maple in the area where I have been working. Eventually I want the area to be an open meadow. I have purchased a bunch of wildflower mix and want to seed it with wildflowers. So I cut down this maple, When I was breaking it down for firewood, I came across a piece that had this incredible beautiful grain.
I thought it was much too pretty to run through the fireplace, so I set it aside to make into something.
The pieces aren't real big, so it would have to be something small, like a jewelry box
I was slicing a piece down into 1/4" slabs to dry, when one piece got stuck in the saw. I reached over with my left hand to free it, and got my thumb a little too close.
Zing!
O shit!
Much blood.
I grabbed a paper towel and put compression on the wound. I didn't want to look at it, but did long enough to tuck things together and get them compressed. Carol was in town taking the dog to the Vet, so I was on my own.
I scratched out a very shaky not to tell her I was on my way to the ER, got in the truck and drove into Port Angeles (about 15 miles)
I called home and left a message. It seemed to be taking forever to get me admitted, and I was in a lot of pain, but eventually I get admitted, and they gave me a couple of shots of Lidocaine to numb up my thumb. Man was that a relief.
The Doc stitched together the chunks and they loaded me up with antibiotics and sent me home.
It has been healing very well, although it will take a quite a while for it to heal up completely. It has now been 10 days, and no signs of infection or anything.
I am still in a moderate amount of pain, but it is manageable. Not being able to do much of anything s, however, driving me nuts.
I put the Westphalia in the shop because the defroster fan motor was making noised like a garbage disposal. I looked into repairing it myself, but it is a bitch of a job. I had called around to get an estimate for the repair before we moved and the quote was over a thousand dollars. You have to tear the whole dash apart, and then the motor is in a box, which is spot welded together.
When driving into Port Angeles, we noticed a place on the right hand side of the road that had a bunch of Westies out in the parking lot, so I dropped in to get an estimate. They quoted my about $750, so I left the van there and they gave me a ride home. I hope to get it back today. I had them repair a couple of other things while they were at it, but the bill should end up under a grand.
I think when I get it back, I will see about betting the Z in for some repair work. I sure miss driving that car around..
For right now, I am spending a lot of time on the couch reading, since I can't do much. Maybe I'll dig out the card table and put together a jigsaw puzzle.
That's about as much excitement as I want right now.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Counrty Christmas

This was our first Christmas in our new home out in the country.
On one hand we missed out on the Warren Family Christmas Eve Party, so I missed out on the opportunity to explain to my sibs why they are wrong about everything, not that they would listen anyway.
On the other hand three of our four children and one grand kid were here for a couple of days, and a good time was had by all.
The good thing about having a captive audience is that they pretty much have to listen to you.
My daughter Rose was MIA again. No phone call. nothing no card. Oh well, it is her choice to live the life she does and there really isn't anything I can do about it.
Mrs A and I's Christmas present to each other was a telephoto zoom lens for our Nikon camera.
The other day, we were out and about and went up the road towards the mountains. When we came back down thee was a herd of about 20 elk at the power lines right around the corner from the house. We went on home and grabbed the camera and went back to take some pictures, but even at full zoom, the elk are barely visible. There have been several other picture opportunities that haven't come out because the lens on the camera didn't "zoom" enough.
So we bought ourselves a 70-300 mm zoon lens for the camera. I also bought a camera backpack and a UV filter. Now we will be better prepared when the next opportunity presents itself.
There were three bull elk contesting for leadership and breeding rights. They were magnificent animals. A real sense of presence about them. When we got back from fetching the camera, we got out of the car and Mrs A took a couple of pictures, but they can't convey the essence of the Elk. I doubt this will be the last time we see the herd, so we are prepared for next time.
I have started on next winter's wood. There was a 2' diameter maple in a clearing out by where I have my stuff set up for splitting wood, so I dropped it and started cutting it into rounds, preparatory to splitting it into firewood. That is some hard wood. I had to stop and sharpen the chainsaw twice in the short time I was out there. The second tie, I decided to call it a day. Plenty of time to cart it out of the wood and split it.
The reason the maple was cut down was a part of my long term plan.
The area where it was growing is fairly open, and I want to turn it into a meadow with wildflowers, so the first step is to fall the trees, then grub out the bushes and ferns and level it out so I can seed it with wildflowers. A lot of work but it will be worth it when it is done. No hurry.
All in all it was a very nice Christmas.