Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013

A few moments from now - this is a scheduled post - I will probably be bugging people to get the hell out of that loud annoying bar.  I won't be drunk because I am driving and I want to be able to enjoy the day tomorrow and the Rose Bowl tomorrow afternoon.  I am tired and had a long day today but no one cares, everyone wants to go out so go out I must.  Have a safe one, everybody.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Xmas Rewind

Well, I should recall this past holiday on my little blog here as this is my diary of sorts and it has come in handy several times when we have tried to recall past events.  Obviously I'm not overly excited about doing that judging by the time that has elapsed since.  I've made no effort to hide my displeasure about this time of year for reasons that have already been stated several times in the archives, but the show must go on...

Last Sunday we trekked to Iowa to visit my Mom's new home.  It was nice to see them and my Sis and her kids but we missed seeing my brother's family, unfortunately we barely see them ever at all.  (It might be nice to change that, maybe this Summer I can invite them up for a day trip to the zoo or something.)

It was there that we received our only 'real' gift this year, a little GPS unit for the car.  We don't travel much, yet I thought it was a very thoughtful gift, and perhaps expensive.  In fact, we could have used it on our (mis)travels to their new house that morning.  I had it set up the next day and we used it on Christmas day to go see her family even though we didn't need to.  They seem to come up with good gifts and I credit my Mom's new husband, Dan.  Thank you, Dan (sorry Mom)!

I have learned that my wife's side of the family can sometimes be an adventure, so to speak, not that mine is storybook.  I've learned to take things in stride a little better over the years - and I'm certainly not perfect normally, let alone my holiday mood.  After some strife, we went to both of their gatherings and no harm was done.  Jolly good, then.

Now, for the upcoming New Year's Eve party.  Once again we will be having people over before going to a local establishment for the lead-up and ringing in the new year.  I feel I'm getting too old for this.  I am the old man of our group of friends and find myself having to keep up or get left behind sometimes, yet staying home and having a party makes a lot of sense to me.  At the bar you can't hear anyone more than 2 feet from your ear, wait for and pay more for drinks, and have to deal with the crowds of idiots that may feel the same way you do.  Well, maybe not the young ones.  Next year I will be pushing for just a house party with all our friends.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hypocritical Hollywood

I love this.  The first video, below, is a response to all the gun violence today.  The second video is a response to that video.  Now, I am no fan of guns - in fact I have been shot at - but these Hollywood 'stars' are hypocrites.  Their money is made by their gun-glorifying, violent movies.

The original:

*Edit 12/29:  The original video has been removed by the user.  Just watch the vid below, the original video is in it and the edits are the reason I posted in the first place.

The response:

I promise an 'Xmas Rewind' post soon, when I have more time and perspective.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I really can't find anything nice to say right now so I will say nothing at all.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blizzard Conditions Coming - Updated

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About 8:45 pm last night:  The snow starts.
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5:00 am this morning, after the first shovelling.
The dreaded snowstorm arrived last night and I was never able to get my snowblower started.  Still, I was determined to get to work so I got up about twenty after three this morning to do the first round of shovelling - or shoveling, I guess both are correct.  This pic shows the shallow layer of snow that we already had from Tuesday.

The snow was heavy and wet and while I tried to be very careful with my back, I ended up sore.  I didn't feel anything pop or get strained, but it started tightening up right after so I had to take a muscle relaxer right away.

20121220 008
12:30 pm, after the second shovelling.
Eventually, after my back was neatly knotted up and watching the news and seeing everything closed down and the city begging people not to go out on the streets, we called in to work.  At about noon Kate and I went out to do it again.  this time was about half as much as the morning's work but still wet and heavy and I appreciated her helping me.  We are expected to get hit hard again this afternoon with the wind picking up and the temperature dropping before the snow finally ends this evening.

I shall update this later, probably after the third shovelling, and fourth if needed.

20121221 002
Third shovelling, 6:00 Thursday evening.
Update 12/21, the next morning.

We went out again about 6:00 last night to do it again.  This time was a little more than last time and, since it was still snowing, I knew it wouldn't be the last.  As you can see, the driveway is white already here, shortly after we finished.

20121221 004
Final shovelling after the big storm, about 4:30 am Friday morning.
This morning I was awoken by the annoying chirp of dying batteries in our carbon monoxide detector.  After replacing those batteries, I noticed that the snow had finished last night and a snow plow had finally come down our road, one pass only, leaving a mountain at the end of the driveway.  Sigh.  So, again at 3 something in the morning I got up (barely) and headed out to do it again.

Each time shovelling I got slower and slower and took more breaks, and when all was said and done I felt lucky that I wasn't more injured.  Still no pop or significant strains in my back, but it is tight and sore as hell and I seem to need my knees bent when I stand so shall be calling in to work again today, Friday.  I see a day of muscle relaxers, ice packs and naps headed my way.  I haven't seen any snow totals yet, but I would guess 5 inches the first time out, then 2+, 3, and 1 for a total of about a foot in just over 24 hours.  (Edit: It was 15.2 inches, so I underestimated a bit.)

I'm getting too old for this stuff.  I plan on calling a mechanic friend to see if he can help me get my snowblower running, and if he can't then I know a mobile service where the guy comes out to your house to work on it.  It's my own fault for waiting to try to get it started until the last minute and I hope I remember this so it doesn't happen again.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Snow Omen

Our first real Winter storm is approaching and I can't get my blasted snowblower to start.  The snow is due to arrive this evening and finally end sometime later tomorrow afternoon.  I had the snowblower serviced the Summer before last, and we only used it once or twice last year, so I don't know what is wrong with it except for maybe lack of use.  I tried all the usual fixes and troubleshooting to no avail.  Oh well, I have to keep trying or risk throwing out my back shovelling.  If it didn't have an electric starter then I may have thrown my back out by now.

Otherwise, I have been spending my half day off wrapping presents and backing up our computer onto a new hard drive.  We had to get a new one because the old one was full with the current backup and all my music and videos.  Now, I will use the new drive, 2TB, for the backup, because that seems to get bigger and bigger, and use the old one, 1TB, for my rather extensive audio and video library.  That should set us for a while.

As the holiday approaches stress becomes visible in many people I know.  I'm actually not that bad, yet.  When the day comes that we have to travel and see family I will be in my usual holiday way, though, and that is not good.  I hate to travel for holidays.  I hate the expectation that you should be somewhere, you should spend money, you should enjoy family, and you should shut up and like it. 

Goddammit.  I guess it has started already.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 12 12 12 12 12

I had meant to post at 12:12:12 here on 12/12/12 however I had forgotten and when I remembered I was at Brothers Three having a sloppy joe and fries for lunch.  Happy belated 12 12 12 12 12 12.

The End Is Near

Eff Christmas.  Why didn't anyone remind me that the world is going to end in 9 days?  Here I've been stressing about gifts and dreading the holiday travel, all for naught.  Instead I should be taking off work and doing anything and everything I want to do before judgment day, or the apocalypse, or whatever you want to call the end of the world...  But there are just a few things wrong with that thought.

Work is too busy to take off, I don't believe in a 'judgment day' and I don't think the Mayans ever meant to imply the end of the world.  They carved a calendar into a rock, probably the biggest they felt they needed to use.  They probably figured that by the time their calendar was up that someone else should have figured out how to do the same thing to continue tracking the years.  Do we really think that an old calendar coming to an end is the end of the world?  Pshaw.  These days you can just run to the shops and get a new one.  I would like to think that they would have figured we'd come up with something like that by now.  This is my impression.  If I got some 'facts' wrong it is only because it is not worth my time to research it further.

Some people are just idiots, some just people are idiots, some idiot people are just, and all idiots are just people.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

First Snow Of The Season, 2012

20121209 012I managed to sleep until 9:30 this morning, still less than 8 hours sleep, and I awoke to the inevitable slap in the face that is called snow.  An event that I seem to post every year, and always seems to be right about this date, plus or minus a week, the last four years.  At least it is pretty wet and just above freezing so hopefully the accumulation is minimal, though the roads may be a bit 'crunchy' on my way to work at stupid o'clock tomorrow morning.  I'll have to clean my car off before everything freezes up this evening.

Last night we had a wonderful time with a household full of friends that came over.  Again, my wife put out an amazing array of foods and snacks as always.  Her favorite hobby spoils me rotten.  Everyone seemed to have a great time and the cats received lots of attention even though they were kept in the basement most of the evening.  It was much fun but today is ours and tonight is the Packers!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Reluctantly, I'll Go In Peace... And More

As much as I hate to travel for the holidays, instead preferring to use the time off work as down time at home, it looks as though we shall have to travel to Iowa this year.  The nieces and nephews are the reason, we just don't see them enough.  My wife's family is local while mine seems to be moving farther away all the time.  I hate this time of year.  Well, I haven't written much of anything in quite a while so it is time to start typing and see what happens:
  • We have had overtime at work recently, and more to come I'm sure, so finding time and energy to write and things to write about have been difficult for me yet I have never posted less than seven times a month and don't want that to become even less so post I must.
  • Still no snow on the ground.  Temperatures have ranged from average to above average so far this season.  If this keeps up I find myself wondering about our plants.  Next Spring's garlic has started growing already.  That reminds me, I guess I could do another post over at the old garden blog sometime soon.
  • The kitties are almost 8 months old and still growing.  They are a joy to have despite some of their evil shenanigans.
  • I have to start Christmas shopping very soon.  Mostly just for the kids, the adults can have my holiday cheer.  I would appreciate any ideas my family would like to send my way!
  • A recent post by Delcatto got me thinking of the various animals I have spotted in my yard since we've moved in to our house - in the middle of the city.  Not counting birds (even woodpeckers and hummingbirds), there are tons of squirrels of course, and several little chipmunks.  But there have also been opossum, raccoons, rabbits and even a skunk.  We saw the skunk a couple weeks ago passing around the back of our house then a day or two later you could smell it outside, so there may have been an unfortunate dog or cat outside that day.
  • I haven't had a 'Latest Listening Pleasure' post for a while now.  I am still listening mostly to the band PAIN, and have been since I found out about them more than a year ago.  They've just come out with a new live DVD/2CD set that has finally shipped...  weeks after the CDs have been on the internet and one of the shows has been posted on YouTube.  Doesn't matter, really, I like to support the bands I enjoy by purchasing their releases.
That sounds like a good note to go out on.  Here is Pain's official 'We Come In Peace' trailer.

Sorry there's not much substance in this post, there has been nothing extraordinary to write about.  Oh, I could pontificate on Bret Bielema leaving the Badgers or Packer injuries, even politics if I wanted, but that is not what I do here and I think I'll keep it that way.  If rants are what you're looking for, check out TJ (or TAA), who I stole my closing below from.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Tour Of The International Space Station

In her final days as Commander of the International Space Station, Sunita Williams of NASA recorded an extensive tour of the orbital laboratory and downlinked the video on Nov. 18, just hours before she, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency departed in their Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft for a landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan.

It's 25 minutes long but doesn't seem like it.  Worth a go, I'd say.  Sure beats trying to come up with a real post when I just don't feel like it.

Reposted from Bits & Pieces and YouTube.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Late Flower

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In the corner between the house, porch, stairs and air conditioner, among the leaf litter and mulch, a day lily flower opened today.  All the others are gone except this one stem, and it even has a couple more buds on it that may open.  Here it is, late November, there have been several frosts and cold stretches.  But there it is.  Have a good upcoming holiday, everyone.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Highest Resolution Machu Picchu Picture

See the pic here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Last Nice Day?

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Yesterday was beautiful for this time of year, sunny and in the mid-sixties.  Probably the last time we will see anything that good until Spring, and unfortunately that also meant that this was to be a workday.  So, after an inauspicious start to the day, I got to work outside, took a break to watch the Badger game, then was joined by my wife outside for even more work.  Gutters, leaves, mulch, house washing, stairs scrubbing, garden cleanup and more.  But now the yard looks good and ready for Winter, I just hope we are, too.
20121110 022The garden has not been done yet in this pic, there will be more pictures and discussion of the garden and compost bin shortly over at my garden blog.  I'll try to do it soon, but I'm not really in a writing mood right now, it just takes too long to get it juuuust right.  OCD, y'know.

20121110 041 I'm already eyeing up a possible Spring project for next year, cleaning up along the side of the garage.  This past year I pretty well poisoned with Round-Up every weed that tried to grow over there.  My first thoughts are to remove and wash the rock that is there, even out the dirt, and put down a good landscape cloth.  Then I think we will get several stepping stones and use the same rock around them.  Then, hopefully, it will stay neat with little maintenance for years to come.

We have not decided what we are doing for some of the holidays yet, but no one should hold their breath.  I've always hated to travel and if you expect that to change then you're nuts.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blogs and Writers

I got started reading blogs long ago, shortly after we got the internet.  Over time I have read many blogs that either ran out of steam or I grew bored with and moved on, but there are some that I still read to this day or was referred to from one of those first ones I read.  Most of it started with the old blog 'Random Acts of Reality' by Brian Kellet, aka Tom Reynolds.  That blog is no longer, but I do have a link to his current page on the right.  From there I moved out to Diamond Geezer and Bill Sticker, all of these from across the pond, and looking at their blogrolls I picked up on Tears Before Pearls and others that are no longer on my radar.  Thus, most of what I read originated from the UK, and most just happened to have something to do with healthcare, since most started from an ambulance driver's blog.

What I have come to realize, however, is that many bloggers are actual writers.  At least the ones I read, and that may not be coincidence.  Writers should be able to put together a pretty well written post normally and that is what makes it enjoyable to read and keep coming back.  Even my newest blog on my reading list turns out to be a writer in Georgia, Mike Firesmith.

I'm no writer.  Oh, I write here, and I enjoy it, but I am no storyteller or wordsmith.  I know my limitations and am comfortable with them.  My place may not be much and it may not be very interesting to too many other people, but I like it.  Thank you to all who I read and have read in the past.  You may have inspired me to start this little page, but believe me, I know I am not a writer and I have no aspirations to be one.  But, please, continue what you do, I enjoy all of you!

These blogs and more listed in the right column.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

If one more person tells me to vote I'm going to pop a friggin blood vessel.  I am so sick of the flyers, phone calls, mailings and door knockers I want to scream (sound familiar?).  I should refuse to vote anymore until we have more realistic campaign periods, like a reasonable six weeks instead of two-plus god damn years.

I will be off to cast my ballot soon tonight.

If there are any higher powers then they better help whoever knocks on my door or calls my phone tonight.  I am almost enraged.  Here's what I don't get:

Why the hell isn't everybody?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Leaves and Candy

Today seems almost like a weekday and I'm playing hooky from work.  My wife was required to work today so she got up and left early, also there is no Badger game today, this is their bye week.  Nonetheless, it is Saturday and I had stuff to do.  I finally left for the grocery store late this morning, and when I got back it was time to tackle leaves.

Most of the leaves have fallen in the neighborhood, our tree in back is still holding on to a bunch for some reason.  Today is cool, dry and overcast, good leaf raking and mulching weather.  I started by raking all the leaves in front into one big pile that I then attacked with the mulcher.  Then I moved on to the back alternately using the rake, blower and mulcher.  By the time I was done I had barely enough leaf mulch for our flower beds, but I'll probably have to do it once more with fewer leaves in a couple weeks when I do the gutters.  I don't think I'll ever put leaves by the street again, in fact, I think I only put some out there the first year we were here.  It's so easy to mulch the leaves, like I did or with the mower exclusively like my neighbor Dave, and not have to put anything out for collection.  Of course, if I had 2 or 3 more trees I might feel differently.

On Wednesday night we had somewhere between 30 and 50 trick or treaters, not as many as we expected, but there were many cute costumes and even some parents were dressed up in nice costumes.  They came in several small groups and when it got fully dark there was nothing, not even teenage stragglers.  Now we have tons of leftover candy that I don't need and my wife doesn't want.  Problems, sweet problems, eh?

Now the rest of the day is mine.  Later on, my wife will be coming home from work and a couple hours later a friend is coming over for movies and pizza.  Happy Saturday to you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween 2012

Another Wednesday post, I have the time this day of the week to do it.  My half day was pretty unplanned this week until I broke my headphones at work yesterday.  So I had to make a trip to a local store for a replacement set and a couple odds and ends.  Then, after an early lunch out, I had tentatively planned on doing some work in the yard, raking and mulching leaves.  Well, there are still leaves to fall and all the plants in the flowerbeds aren't even done yet, we still have day lilies blooming outside the back door, so I've made the rest of the day mine to be lazy and relax a bit.  There is still plenty of time to clean up the yard, perhaps another 6 weeks or so, by my reckoning.

About the time I left work kids were starting to come through.  In this department people are allowed to go home and get the kids to come and trick or treat at work.  I only saw a few by the time I left, but we'll have plenty more here at home tonight.  Kate is worried that we will run out of candy, but I think if we stick to only 2 pieces per kid we should be okay.  And if we run out, oh well, I want to go to bed early anyway.  Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Day, Part Two

Last week I obviously got a little frustrated with cats and a list of things to do.  The good news is that I felt much better after writing that post and managed to get most things listed done, and even a few things more.

20121024 008 carToday my half day off got off to a bad start.  When I left work I noticed a ding in my windshield that was not there 4 hours earlier, I would have noticed - I couldn't have not noticed with the location.  I abandoned my errands and drove home like a grandma, hoping it would not spiderweb before I could get it fixed.  I've watched windshield cracks grow in front of me before, it's not a good feeling to watch it grow from a free repair (with insurance) to a few hundred dollar new windshield (at my cost).  The security guard at work has reviewed the tape and no one apparently approached my vehicle, so it was probably just a rock kicked up from somewhere.  Just my dumb luck.  I called around and found a place that should be able to fix it later this afternoon so at least I won't have to miss time at work getting it fixed.

20121024 015So aside from that, there are a few things I can get done around here while I'm stuck at home.  I have already done the little bit of painting in the living room.  I'm hoping it matches better when dry or else I may have to get a darker shade of white.  (Why are there a million different kinds of white paint?)  I was able to mow to mulch leaves a few days ago on Saturday.  It should dry out a bit more later this afternoon so I can do the back yard again.  Almost all of the neighbor's Black Walnut leaves have fallen so I hope to mulch up what is on the lawn so I can use the rest of the leaves that fall as mulch in the flower beds.  Also, I am overdue (once again) for a garden blog update.  I just took some pics a bit ago, but I may wait for it to dry out so I can blow some of the leaves out of the garden before I post pics over there.

In the meantime, I may just have to put my feet up for a bit....  PTFO

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I'm Having A Day

Today is Wednesday.  Wednesday is supposed to be my day.  I work 9 hour shifts every other weekday, Wednesdays I usually get off at ten in the morning.  My last task at work was a headache,  I had to make some sense out of a messed up batch of work.  When I got home the cats just would not leave me alone, still won't.  I tried to find a fix for our end table situation in the living room.  It does need upgrading($) eventually, but what we have now seemed to be working for the time being until my wife suddenly wanted them rearranged last night.  I'm also trying to make a cheesecake for us now but I can't find the right measuring spoons anywhere in the kitchen.  I finally found the beaters but I don't know where the hell the mixer is, and I've looked, and looked.  I wasn't planning on mowing because I thought it was going to rain, but it's not, so I should.  I'm hoping to go out to lunch, then I'm tasked with some scraping, spackling and eventually sanding and painting in the living room.

I'm not very happy at the moment.  Most will get done, but not all.  I will go out to lunch and then just take it from there.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Just Spilling My Brain

PhotobucketIt has been some time since I have spilled my gray matter all over the page, so it is time to start typing again and see what comes out...

  • As I sat to write this it occurred to me that I hadn't gotten back to childhood chum after several weeks, so I paused this to write him a reply.  It seems there is talk of a possible reunion of our small parochial school class.  If it comes to be, I think it would be pretty interesting to meet and get to know them now, as adults.  We'll see.
  • The weather is turning cooler, leaves are falling, and this weekend we are getting the rain we missed all summer.  I have started some of the yard cleanup for Winter, but there should still be plenty of time, especially with another very mild Winter expected again.  Even though I am not a huge fan of Winter, I would trade a mild one for a more seasonable Spring and Summer next year.
  • We had friends over a week ago Saturday for what we expect will be the last fire pit party of the year.  Temperatures were in the low 40's, but the fire made it much nicer to be outside.  Our friends, B&Z, brought over their home brew for trying, but again it was forgotten over the course of the evening.  Last time they came over they brought homemade apple crisp using the apples from their tree and again it was forgotten in the festivities.  I'm sorry, B&Z, the slights have not been intentional.
  • I managed to throw out my back again on Thursday after work.  I missed work Friday, but I'm feeling better already.  I've certainly hurt it worse than this in the past, but I am no longer used to the muscle relaxers that I take so often, and without that tolerance they make me very tired.  So at least I got some good sleep!
  • Family-wise, my sister has a dog, her kids have emails now (that I haven't used yet), and they are all settling into their new home a state away.  My brother I have not heard from in a while, but if he's like me then no news is good news.  My Mom still wants me to go a different neighboring state to see her new home.  I hate to travel and now we are more scattered than ever.  Sigh.
  • A couple weeks ago when we returned home from a weekend away with the in-laws we had no cable, phone or internet.  It was fixed after a few hours, but after terrible customer service over 2 days and 3 long phone calls I gave them a piece of my mind and now I have the sports tier on cable for free for 3 months.  Speaking of, the NFL Red Zone Channel is on right now...
PTFO - and Go Packers tonight!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Guided Tour Of The View From The ISS At Night

Reposted from Bits & Pieces.  Thanks, Jonco!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Latest Listening Pleasure... Nightwish, Part Two *with asterisk

Annette Olzon, formerly of Nightwish
Nightwish was also my second LLP post, but it comes with an asterisk this time because it is under odd circumstances.  They have replaced their lead singer, Annette Olzon, in the middle of their US tour when Annette became 'sick', using replacement singers one night.  She was publicly displeased with the decision to go on with the show without her, but she returned for the next night's show, then she was booted.  The boys in Nightwish brought in a new singer, Floor Jansen, whom it seems had already been planning on joining them as a replacement for their dates after the US tour, so things just seem to have been moved up hastily.  Drama, drama, drama, but the videos are on Youtube so I have been watching.  And the albums are on my ipod so I have been enjoying Annette's expressive voice sadly, but I stick by the band.

Below is a song from the show two nights ago in San Francisco, "I wish I had an Angel' featuring the now replacement singer, Floor Jansen.  I am reserving my full judgment yet, but I do feel positive about her so far.  Annette's voice seemed more powerful and expressive, but Floor is yet to be comfortable, thrown quickly into having to memorize all the words, and is, after all, only named as a replacement singer, not a new member.  I could see that happen though, if the chemistry still works after touring through the new year.  Enjoy the video below!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Leaves and a Gnome

20121004 005Because of our warm early spring and then our two month summer drought, many of the plants and trees have been a bit 'off' this year.  Leaves have been falling a bit here and there for quite some time now, but in the last two days I've noticed a significant increase.  In fact, yesterday I was lucky enough to get a 2 hour nap in on my half day off, and from just before my nap and then after my nap there was a very noticeable increase in the amount of leaves on the lawn.  On my drive home today I went through neighborhoods where the sidewalk was completely covered for stretches, gutters and lawns were full.

Here at home, most of the leaves you see are not from our tree, which is still mostly green.  Some trees we can see from our back yard are bare, some are yellow, and there is still some green among them.  There doesn't seem to be a lot of red, but I had heard that might be the case this year because of the Summer drought.

I have started cutting some plants down, the 3 peony bushes around the yard and the irises seen in the lower part of the picture above.  If you look hard at the top you can see our little gnome that used to be poking out from between the hostas, or you can look at the close up posted below.  The hostas will have to be mowed down in the next few weeks, latest.  I got this gnome for Kate a few months ago because, well, because she said we needed one.  Now that we have him, I would agree.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Latest Listening Pleasure... Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird at Overture Hall, Madison WI 9/26/12 - A short review

Last night Andrew Bird and his band kicked off his fall tour in Madison.  We went to see him at the same place almost exactly three years ago and it was a show that I enjoyed very much.  He layered his sounds very well and connected with the very respectful audience.  Back then flash photography was not tolerated and you saw very few cell phone lights during the show.  Last night seemed a bit more disjointed, both on stage and in the crowd.  There seemed to be fewer people this time and more photos, cell phones and shouts to the stage.

He is an artist and his music evolves over time, with the albums showing a snapshot, so you don't always hear what you expect.  Last night, his layering of sounds sounded more haphazard to me as well, oftentimes I would lose any semblance of beat or rhythm while trying to tap my toe.  Now, I did enjoy the evening, but I do think he was better in 2009.  My wife and I had good seats, mezzanine - front row center, though she found the height a bit dizzying.  Overall, with dinner and a short trip down State Street, it was a very nice evening.

When it comes right down to it, I enjoy his music very much.  I have enjoyed listening to him often recently in anticipation of this show, and that is why Andrew Bird is my Latest Listening Pleasure.    Enjoy.

Andrew Bird - Eyeoneye

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Naughty Kitties

As much as they act like they love us, it seems they just can't wait to escape!
20120924 cats plan escape

Actually the screen door is locked, they are learning what handles are for even if they can't operate them - yet.  The biggest escape attempts have been at the back door.  They only go to the bottom of the stairs and don't run from us, but they are too young to be trusted outside without their harness and leash.

Monday, September 24, 2012

In-Law Cabin Fever

20120923 012We spent the weekend at a cabin on Castle Rock Lake, north of the Dells, this weekend with my wife's family.  It was a nice cabin and had a nice view of the lake and the sunsets over it.  Overall, it was a pretty good time.  We played games, had a camp fire, and talked quite a bit (there was no TV, just dvds).  I actually found myself talking more at times than I think I have with this group.  After being married for over 11 years, like it or not, they are becoming family to me, too.

20120923 020I was able to escape to a place called Boomer's Pub to watch the Badgers play on Saturday.  I sat in the bar with only Boomer, talking and watching the game for the first half.  Then a couple more people showed up, especially a very nice, funny, older couple (60's) that I enjoyed very much.  We had a great time, the Badgers won, then I went back to the cabin and took a nap!  Cheers to Boomer, Mark and Linda!  If I'm ever in the neighborhood again...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Not Business.. Busy-ness

Life seems to have been rather busied lately.  I work hard at my job all day because I can and I enjoy it.  I'm still learning and improving some aspects, but that will come with experience.  Now, when I get home it's not like I'm busy working until bedtime, I still take my needed down time, but that time has shrunk much lately.  I need to air some things and organize my thoughts:
  • I have no project at the moment.  The compost bin was a good one, and I still have a bunch of lumber in the garage so I have been thinking of things that I could build for us.  I have a few ideas of what I could do pretty easily... if I can find the time these days.
  • Football season is here.  Many years ago I used to go out for the games, but as I've gotten older I enjoy sitting in my easy chair, watching my TV and rooting for my favorite teams.  So far it has been 'off' a bit this season.  First, all the weeknight preseason games were a pain.  Football should be played on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, in my opinion.  That is what they have ingrained in us over the years and because of that, that is my ideal watching time.  Also, friends want to come by for the game more often than in the past.  I like my friends, but especially Sunday afternoons, I would kind of rather be alone with my game before I have to go to bed early for Monday morning.  It's just what I like now.
  • I finally called the newspaper to stop my daily delivery.  I have read it daily for most of my adult life, but an earlier starting time at work has me leaving before the paper arrives and when I get home, well, I have other things I want or need to do.  I'm not going cold turkey, though, I will still get their Wednesday and Sunday package deal.  It will be different, but there's just not enough hours in the day.
  • The cats have been energetic to put it best, little hellions otherwise.  Oh, they could be worse and, thankfully, they aren't as bad as they could be, but they can sure be a handful sometimes.  Still, they are very young (about 5 months) despite their ever-increasing size, and I'm sure they will calm in time - even if it is a few years!  Care for them is ongoing and can't be skipped - they won't allow it.  I give them soft food every morning and when I get home every evening, the litter box is done while they are eating so I can clean it in peace.  Then there's the occasional claw clippings, baths and walks.  The problems really come from trying to modify their behavior.  Keeping them off the table, out of the dishwasher (and oven!) and not destroy our blinds or anything else.  And then they get the crazies....
  • My drive home from work has been doubled to about half an hour due to road construction.  It wasn't really that bad until school started back up recently, now there is more traffic and big, slow buses when I am trying to get home.  I want a transporter like they had in Star Trek, is that too much?
  • I had a recent post about an odd letter I received.  I did email him and sent him a link to my post.  He did respond after a couple of weeks, now it has been longer since I have responded back.  I will, though, but I would rather be relaxed and thoughtful about it than just hammer out an email to someone I haven't otherwise talked to in almost 35 years.
  • Unfortunately, I know what will have to go to make time.  I do not watch TV usually unless there is a game on or I am almost or in bed.  I use the internet as my entertainment.  I have a list of blogs and sites that I check daily, as well as podcasts to listen to if I don't find the time at work to play them.  I love the internet, but I may have to cut back.  I can be on it anywhere from 2 to 4 hours on a weekday, so just trying to be on it less every night would be good, but I'm thinking more of an internet-free couple of nights a week.  I don't know if I could stand it, but it is worth considering.
And there are the other daily chores and duties, dinner with people here, a birthday party there, and more coming up soon that I'm saving for another couple of posts.  How long ago was my vacation?  I think I want another one.

There, I feel better.  Now maybe I can relax for a bit before doing it all over tomorrow.  Thanks for listening.  PTFO

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Happy 9-11 To Me

9-11 01
I turned 45 today.  Thank you to those who emailed and sent cards or gifts.  I have taken today and tomorrow off, a luxury that I haven't been afforded in quite a while.  A Tuesday sucks anyway, but I also have this 9-11 stuff to look forward to every year now.  Well, it could be worse, I know.

Just what I need, another reason to drink...

Really, though, I slept in today, and then napped for quite some time in the afternoon and it felt really, really, really good.  Earlier this evening my wife and I made a very rare mid-week outing to our favorite local bar and grill for dinner and drinks.  I have tomorrow off and I may just surf the net, catch up on my newspapers and maybe tie up some loose ends here and there.

My next planned vacation day comes later this month, the day after the Andrew Bird show at the Overture Center.  We went the last time he was here, back in 2009.  This post from 3 years ago today shows how I am looking forward to it.  Last time I got pretty good tickets in the back of the main floor, this time I got tickets in the front row of the first level up and almost dead center.  I'm looking at this as a nice occasion to show my wife that I have some class and treat her to a fancy night out.  You know, dress up a little bit, have a nice dinner and then off to the show.  This is no heavy metal concert, and I may be one of the older ones in this audience, but all I know is that I like what I happen to like.  Thankfully, this is one performer that my lovely wife can appreciate enough to do this with me.
Or at least she humors me well....

Andrew Bird - The Happy Birthday Song. 


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Kittens Are Becoming Cats

The kittens are listed as being born on April 20, so they're not even 5 months old yet, but the size difference since we got them on June 9 is amazing to us, and they're not nearly done growing.  I was looking back through our photos and I tried to find a couple that have something in them for perspective (a chair and my lap, in this case) to demonstrate how they have grown.  The pics on the left are dated June 25 and the pics on the right were taken yesterday and today.  They look pretty cute here, but they are very mischievous cats, indeed.

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20120908 002

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68% evil, my ass.  Oh, my wife is only 50% evil, somehow I find that more believable. ;-)

I am 68% Evil

You Are 68% Evil
You are very evil. And you're too evil to care.
Those who love you probably also fear you. A lot.
Well, how did you do?  Tell me in the comments.  Thanx Joanne!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Latest Listening Pleasure... Pain, Part Two

My first LLP post featured the band Pain.  Seven months later, and while enjoying my other LLPs greatly, I find myself coming back to Peter Tagtgren's project more than ever.  There hasn't been anything new released, but I don't care, I'm still enjoying Pain's whole catalog of music immensely.  Enough to share it again. 

Here is probably their biggest song, Shut Your Mouth.

And another of my favorites, Bye/Die

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Fire With Friends

20120826 fire pit

After work on Friday, Kate and I went out for a couple drinks and a snack.  When we got home we proceeded to have a couple more drinks and someone (me) suggested we have a spur of the moment fire pit with friends the next night, Saturday.  So after a half day of recovery we prepared to do it again.  It was fun to get together around the fire, now that the fire ban has been lifted and the lawn is almost all green again.  I still used the pallet and grill mat, I don't want to scorch the grass like I did the first time we had a fire.  That brown spot was in the lawn almost all summer, that year.  It was nothing fancy on Saturday night, just a few friends who mostly would otherwise be sitting at home gathered around a fire and enjoying each others company.  It turned out to be a very enjoyable evening after all, though we did pay for it again on Sunday.  I'm getting too old for that much liquid fun in one weekend, I think.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bullets and New Ink

Hi!  How are you?  It has been over a week since I've last posted.  I know I have been lazy about blogging, and I don't really have a lot to say, but let me say a few things just to keep in touch.  Yes, bullet points again.  It just makes it easy and quick for me.
  • We went out on Kate's friend Terry's pontoon boat on Sunday.  It was a nice day for it and her dog was relatively calm.  I don't think I got on the lake at all last summer due to health and healing so it was nice to be on the water, um, except all they do is drive about 10 minutes from the marina to a cove and put down anchor.  If it was my boat I would spend a lot more money on gas and see the sights and sounds around the whole over 200 square mile lake.  But, alas, it is not my boat, and I'll take what I can get... sometimes.
  • I have been meaning to do some maintenance around here, mainly the right column.  Lists and links need to be updated as it has been more than quite some time since I have done anything.  That's another lower priority thing to get done, but it bugs me more and more so it will probably get done sooner than later.
  • Now, I think that I get 300 MB of memory a month for free from flickr.  I'll have to look into that later, or be lazy and let it play out.  So far, 1 pic seems roughly 1 MB.  I may learn to like flickr after all.
  • I'm sorry I haven't called you yet, Sis! I'm glad the appendix came out okay and I hope all is well with your new home and the kids. Send me pics!  I'll call you this weekend, I promise!
  • After work yesterday I went straight to an appointment I had at a local, well-regarded tattoo shop.  It has been 20 or more years since my last tattoo.  I spent about 3 and a half hours in the chair and received a touch up of two older tattoos and a new design to pull them together and another brand new one that I really like.  I won't post pics of them here, but you can get a hint from the bandages I took off this morning if you dare!  No, it's not really too gross and, yes, that is the paw of a bad kitty in the lower right corner.
Picture after the break

Monday, August 13, 2012

Photo Uploading and Final Compost Bin Pic

For about three and a half years I have uploaded pictures to this blog and my garden blog without a care in the world... until I could no longer post photos.  I didn't realize I had a limit of free space so I shared a lot of pics, 1 gigabyte, if I remember right (I forget those measures of memory sometimes, is that irony?).  So anyway, I had to venture out and do what I hate to do - sign up with another site.  I've been on the web for quite a while now but I have always been judicious about what I sign up with and why, so I hate this. 

I now have a flickr account.  I have finally figured out how to get the picture from there to here.  It's not quite as convenient as it used to be, but I will get used to it.  I'm not sure how this will change the viewing experience, but then, I guess if you didn't click on the pics at all then it will be pretty much the same.  Flickr is allowing me 300mb of space for free, so from this point on I will be more careful as to what pics I post.  I like using accent pics for the post I'm writing (like above), and I should be able to link to one in google pics or something for those occasions (again, like above), thereby saving my free space available in flickr.  Sorry folks, I think the Pic Dumps are dead.  If I do anything like any pic dump again it will only be for a very good reason.

Now, with all that said, it would feel like unfinished business if I didn't post the pic of the finished compost bin placed in the corner of the back yard near the gardens.  I also have to go update that site now.  PTFO

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

An Unexpected Letter

I received this letter close to a month ago.  I have been unsure how to react so I set it aside and have looked at it now and again and I still don't know what to do.  As soon as I saw the name on the return address I recognized it immediately as an old grade school classmate.  I had probably last talked to him when I was 11, in 1978 or so.  Our class was rather small in that catholic grade school, so my first thought was of a reunion, perhaps.  I was a little taken aback by what I then read.
Red is the letter, Blue is my thoughts and responses, just to be clear.

Hi [Scoakat],
This note is from [childhood chum].  I don't know if you'll remember me, but I was in your class at [grade school] in [city, state] before your family moved away.  I hope you don't mind me contacting you out of the blue like this.

No, really, not at all.

I'm sure it's weird getting a note from me after 35 years!

A bit, but my first thoughts were good ones.

The reason I am writing is to ask your forgiveness for being such a jerk to you in grade school.

Really?  Now I was one that was prone to bullying*.  But I probably would have expected this letter from 1 or 2 others than this classmate.  He was a real dick sometimes, but also a showoff, as all kids are at that age.

I am currently working through some issues in my life and actually going through the Twelve Steps made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous.


When I got to step 8 and started making a list of people I treated badly in my life, I thought of you.  I remember some distinct times where I treated you badly when we were kids and wanted to write and let you know how sorry I am about that.  You certainly didn't deserve it.  I remember some times of being friends and doing fun things together (like watching those old SpiderMan cartoons at your house), while at other times I'm sure I must have seemed much more like an enemy.  At the very least I was a really poor friend.  so I hope you will receive this apology and be able to forgive me.

As I noted earlier, that was a very small class even for those days, I always thought we were pretty tight as a group when it came right down to it.  Well, I thought we all felt that way back then, but I moved away and they had to grow up together!  I had bad moments and good moments with each, to varying degrees, but I never considered myself as bullied too much, unfortunately I just was near the bottom of the pecking order then.  Cripes, we were kids!

You were a nice kid, and I have good memories of you.

Well, thank you.  Really kind of unnecessary, but if it helps, thank you.  The next few sentences are just personal info and chat.

Sincerely, [Childhood Chum]

He did provide his email in case I wished to contact him, and I may. Now that I have written this I may just send him the link as my response and then take it from there. In that case, I do want to say thank you for your thoughts, Childhood Chum, and good luck dealing with whatever brought you to this point.  All my sincere best wishes to you and yours.

Regards, Scoakat

*Edit  8/22 - What I meant by 'prone to bullying' is by other kids.  Sorry if my writing was misleading.
*For perspective, when I was that age I can say that I had no older siblings, no kid relatives (cousins, etc.) in the area and even if I did I was one of the oldest of those, and my dad got home late and left early six days a week.  I could go days without seeing him and when I did it was usually to berate me and/or whip me with the belt.  I'm just saying that I had no one to look up to or out for me back then and I didn't really do a good job of it myself.  But that was as kids, mostly when I could tell you my age on my fingers.  I've turned out as fine as anyone.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pic Dump 42

Once more, time to dump my collected pics since last time...   No, I haven't fixed my photo uploading problem yet, this is one I had in the can for a week or so.  Again, some are funny, some are strange, some are wonderful and some are NSFW.  Many are a combination of the above, and much, much more after the break.  Enjoy!

Once again, many thanks to 'My Favorite Sites' listed in the right column always, and here now:
Bits & Pieces, Crazy, Lazy, Silly and Strange, I Have Seen The Whole Of The Internet, Naughty Bits, and the Watcher's Web Funny Farm

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Photos, Compost Bin and Kittens

There have been a few things rolling around in my head lately.  Time to shake my head sideways and see what falls out
  • I still can't post photos unless I use one with a url.  Tomorrow I hope to find time to tackle that issue.  I may have to look at other sites like flickr, etc., so I don't lose any from earlier posts.  I wasn't expecting this issue to come up, but it is fixable, I'm sure.  I just have to spend some time looking into it.
  • Overtime at work was cancelled a couple days ago so I was able to take Friday afternoon off.  I spent my time building the doors for the compost bin.  It is now completely finished, well, except that it has to be moved into the back yard.  Kate is hosting a small party tonight so we should have more than enough help.  I'll have to remove the top for the move, then put it back on once the bin is in place.  I was outside this morning doing yard work and leveling the area so it drops in easily.  Oh, and 'sweating buckets' is not just a saying, it is very hot and humid today.
  • The kittens, Basil and Hamish, are growing bigger every day.  They must be twice as big as when I posted all these pics of them - and that was only a month ago!  We have been trying to give them baths every so often so they get used to it.  Basil enjoys them, Hamish not so much.  We're also trying to keep their front claws clipped.  The best time to do it is right before they nap so they're too tired to mind too much.  Training them to stay off the dining table, computer desk and, eventually, the counters is problematic, but we got the litter box downstairs easily.  They have no fear of the basement.  Hell, they have no fear.
  • I received an odd letter a few weeks ago.  Hmmm.  You know, the more I think about it, this deserves a post all by itself.  I guess you can look for that one soon.
In fact, that's about all I have right now. PTFU

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sunday at Miller Park*

Yesterday I enjoyed my first trip to see the Brewers play at Miller Park.  The park has only been open for a decade or so, so I guess it was time, eh?  Normally I prefer to stay away from places where there are that many thousands of people, and it was sold out so that's about 45 thousand in one place, but not having to be the driver and only being able to just be a follower to my friends made it pretty easy on me.  We did get to see some good baseball, and the Brewers were ahead when we left around the beginning of the seventh inning, but on the drive home we listened to the opponent come back and win in extra innings - an all too common occurrence with this team lately.  No matter, I had a lot of fun!  I guess Lambeau is next, but that's even more people.  Sigh.

Well, there were more photos that I wished to upload, but it seems my Picasa photo album is 100% full and I do not wish to buy more storage.  I've never dealt with Picasa except for this blog, and I don't deal with it then, that's just where Blogger puts them when I upload them to this blog (Google owns both Blogger and Picasa - plus Gmail, Youtube, etc.  Basically everything I use on the internet it seems).  So until I figure out how to get into my album and delete some old pic dumps or something there will be no pics.  Fear not, I'll probably have time to get to this on the weekend and I already have the next pic dump ready to go to be posted in a couple days.  PTFO

*Edit 8/2:  I can't post photos yet but I can embed videos.  2 vids of conversation and some plays on the field at Miller Park after the break!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Finishing the Compost Bin

Well, finishing this main part of it.  The compost bin has shaped up well and looks rather nice, I think.  A new friend, Mike, came over this morning to help me finish it and turned out to be the best help I could ever ask for.  He just assisted in every way and let me go about it as I wanted, it was very nice to have a second set of hands all day.  We worked right up to 4 o'clock, longer than I had planned - but I do admit to a leisurely pace.  So far, it has turned out exactly as I had intended, almost.  I still have to figure out how I want to do the doors in front.  That will be the next thing I do, sometime in the next few weekends.  For now it is in the garage waiting for a coat or two of water seal this week.  Late in the week I will have to go back and clean up the corner so we can drop it right in place next weekend. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Weekend Plans

Well, a week has gone by now since my vacation.  We had mandatory overtime this week (and next) so my time has been taken by other things than blogging.  I have not worked on the compost bin since my last post, but tomorrow a friend is coming by early to help out.  It may take until mid afternoon to finish (at my pace, anyway) with a lunch excursion at some point.  My hope is to have it done tomorrow so Kate (who will be on the lake tomorrow, lucky her!) and I can put a coat or two of water seal on it during the week before moving to the back yard with help when we have people over next Friday. 

Sunday I am going to visit Miller Park to watch the Milwaukee Brewers play some baseball.  Unfortunately they are in a free fall, having lost 7 games in a row going into tonight's game.  But it is Bob Uecker bobblehead day and I am going with Jerome and another friend from work so it should be a real fun day!  I will take my camera so I'm sure I'll be posting pics of the park and, uh, stuff. 

We have finally gotten some rain over the past week or so.  While many plants are lost, my lawn is coming back well so far.  There are still some areas that may need some seed.  Okay, that's all for now, I'm pooped.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Vacation, Day Five

Once again, although I got up early I didn't really do anything until 10:00 or so.  I was a bit sore from all the hours I worked on the compost bin yesterday so I didn't plan on much today.  I was able to get the front built and I used a sealer around the edges of the screen on all the pieces.  By then it was after two in the afternoon and getting hot so I thought it was a good time to clean up and go in and turn on the air conditioning. Here are the pieces I have finished so far kind of mocked up to visualize a bit better.  The front piece is in back leaning against the ladder.  My feeling now is that I will assemble it in the garage, it will be much easier to square up.  I'll just have to round up some friends to help me move it to the back.

Now, since I've finished early, maybe I'll take my first nap of this vacation.... if the kittens let me!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vacation, Day Four

We got another 1.5 inches or so of rain last night, so while today was overcast and much cooler, it was also very humid.  Still a lot better than stupid hot, but that will be back in a couple days.  While I got up early I dawdled for a bit before I began constructing the compost bin.  I got off to a great start but then had to stop because I had plans to go out to lunch with my friend, Jerome.  He started working second shift a few weeks ago so we don't have the opportunity much anymore.  It was nice to see him, but after that I went right back to the task at hand.

I was very pleased that things have turned out exactly as I planned so far.  I was able to insert the hardware cloth into the rip cut with little difficulty, but it is apparent I will have to use some kind of sealer so water doesn't sit in there.  There's not a whole lot holding the sides and middle parts together but the hardware cloth, but when put together with the back, and then the front, it will be more than solid enough.  I'd like to put it together here in the garage but then weight would be an issue.  I'm using a pallet on top of the trash bins as a work table, the height works out nicely for my back.

Once more, I was late to remember the camera so I only got a few shots when I was almost done for the day, shortly after my wife got home.  I completed the back, both sides and the middle piece.  I still have no plans for the front doors, I'm thinking of something solid, but I just haven't thought about it too hard and probably won't until I have it in the back yard.  I will have to have a top in place because I'll need to have the hinges attached before it is placed in the corner.  The top will look much like the back, I believe.  All the hardware cloth will eventually be faced with trellis, for form and function, except the interior piece.

It is now 69F degrees (but 81% humidity) and we are about to open the windows for the first time in ages.  I'll have to have them shut again probably by midday tomorrow for who knows how long again.  Whatever happened to moderation?  Why does everything have to be so extreme these days?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vacation, Day Three

The only thing to note is that it was finally raining when I woke up.  We got over an inch of rain from one of those "isolated showers" they always tease us with on the news.  Still, less than an inch and a half since the beginning of June.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grandmas and Vacation, Day Two

Grandma L, 93
Grandma W, 86
My wife and I went to see my grandmothers on Saturday.  I'm late posting about it but it slipped my mind with all the projects I was looking forward to this week.  They are both very old, 86 and 93, and wondering what they are still doing here.  Kind of sad, but we were happy to spend time with them when we could on Saturday.  Love you both, Grandmas!

Now on to day 2 of my vacation.

This is morning it was already over 80F degrees and humid, but the show must go on.  I went about removing the old edging by neighbor Dave's fence.  It was hot, but I had shade on my side, at least until noon or so.  I went at it slowly, to not overheat and being very mindful of my back.  I forgot to take any 'before' pics, but I found some old pics from my photo album that kind show the way it looked (,thanks a lot OCD).  Most of this job was very low to the ground and with my back and knee I opted for dragging a chair along with me everywhere.  I'm a bit tired and sore now, but it was worth it.

The fenceline requires some kind of edging due to the ground level being a few inches above the sidewalk on neighbor Dave's side.  The old edging was, well, old, and over the years has been pushed around by whatever forces to resemble somebody's terrible, uneven teeth. 

Here are a couple old pics of the fenceline in the background, sorry I forgot to get better ones today.

For blogger's slideshow click on the pic, for full size, right click and open in new tab or window.

And the new look fenceline today, below.  I'm not sure how Dave will like it but I don't think he's worried about it too much.  To prevent the buckling and leaning this time, I dug down trying to find the edge of the sidewalk so I could insert a 2x4 ripped in half along that edge and then the edging would have support and hopefully remain much straighter. Well, sidewalks sink and tilt, but generally it worked out. All the dirt I dug up was bone dry. I was able to put some back as fill along the new edging, but much was distributed wherever I could around the yard.

Now, I did find a use for much of that old edging.  In the back corner of the yard where Kate started some cone flowers last year, there is the same edging along the back several feet of the fence.  I was able to extend it along the fenceline and up and around the front of the area to make it look like a proper flower bed.  At right is how this area looked on June 2 (note: we've only had about 1/3 and inch of rain since this pic was taken).  Below is how it turned out.  I think, considering the age and condition of the edging, it looks rather well.

This post is longer than I usually like on my front page, but, well, I guess it's my blog and I'll post what I want to!  All the pics I took this morning are dumped after the break.