Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year 2017

I was just looking back at the past few NYE posts on here.  From my griping about going down to the bar to last year's plans to stay in but canceling the party because my wife was ill.  I also noticed that I used to do morning after posts.  I'll have to see how I feel about that tomorrow.  Tonight we'll be having a few people over for food, drinks and games.  It should be fun, but I should probably try to get a nap in before they get here.  Again, I'll be the oldest one in the house tonight, I need my rest...

Happy New Year to you all.  The ones I read, the ones I love, all my friends and all of you who take the time to read me.  Whether you comment or not, I can see you're there.  Thank you.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hit From Behind

Don't worry, I'm fine.  I was on my way back from my yearly haircut (Hi Laura!) on the other side of town, and I was almost home, when I was hit from behind.  Traffic came to a stop rather quickly and all stopped but the person behind me, who admitted she was changing lanes and was looking back when it happened.  Yes there was the cops, a tow truck and a witness who kindly stopped and gave me her information.  Good times.  I am getting a bit sore now, and I am somewhat surprised by that as it was not a high speed accident, I was stopped at the time.  I'll deal with the insurance companies more tomorrow.  Tonight I'm gonna make a few drinks.  Good times, indeed.
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'Good' news, the tow truck driver cut the plastic away from the tire so I could drive it home.  Rear door won't open.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Doro / Lemmy - It Still Hurts

Doro Pesch released this early in 2016 on her "Love's Gone To Hell" EP.  One year on from losing Lemmy, she put out the video for their duet, It Still Hurts.  Strangely appropriate, now.  RIP Lemmy.

Link here for you email readers.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Season's Greetings

I've known for a while that I should post something for the holiday.  Days passed, but nothing I saw appealed to me or inspired me so I just kept procrastinating until here we are, now.  It has been well documented here in years past my dislike of holidays and travel, so I won't go into that.  I've read enough negativity this holiday season and maybe you have, too.  So before I start sounding grumpy, just know that wherever you are and whatever you are doing I hope it is enjoyable for you and yours.  Cheers!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Weather Gripe

Madison is the tiny white cross in the middle.
Two weeks ago I wrote about our first snow.  It was 5 inches, officially, and we got about the same last weekend.  Now, this weekend, we are having another 'snow event.'  It started snowing early this afternoon and it is forecast to be about 9 inches or so by the time it ends Saturday night.  We'll probably go out to clear the walks either tonight or tomorrow morning (hopefully not both), and then when it finishes up.  Temps have been in the teens and single digits recently, but after the snow we go further  into a deep freeze for a day or two.  What the hell!  Why the weekends?

Yup. Just like riding a bike, here in Wisconsin!  In fact, I'm sure some literally still will.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dee Snider on Standing Rock

Dee Snider posted a video for a song called 'So What' off his recently released solo album, We Are The Ones.  If I remember right, his son directed the video and the crew had an interesting experience filming - scenes from some of the 'riots' included.  The censored version was released yesterday, this uncensored version was released today.  It says the F word a few times, is all.  After a few listens yesterday and tonight, I find it to be a good song and a good adaptation of it to current events.

Dee Snider - So What

Link here, for interested email readers.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

First Snow, 2016

It started snowing this morning and fell steadily all day until recently.  We just came in a little bit ago from clearing the driveway and walks, at almost sunset.  A wet, heavy 3 or 4 inches of the stuff.  I was going to post a picture I took earlier but I changed my mind and decided to post some short videos I took today of the cats by the front windows.  See, I had laces delivered for my boots earlier today and during the Packer game I decided to change them out.  The cats were fascinated with this process so when I got done I gave them the old laces to play with, draping them over their throne.

You can see plenty of our first snow in the back of the videos while enjoying a short video of our adorable cats!  The first video is Hamish, clearly the leader in this kind of play.  Second is Basil, taking a turn after Hamish got a little tired (yet he still jumps in at the end!).

After the break is a Hamish video that I uploaded first mistakenly and can't make myself remove it since it's already uploaded.  Just more kitty cuteness with freaking snow in the background.

Like it or not, winter is back.  Here.  Now.  Sigh.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving, 2016!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Scoakat's Garden, Vacation, More

I'm not sure when it happened, but my link for the garden blog is no longer in the right column.  I've re-added the link under the blog list now, no more special treatment.  I've largely neglected the garden blog this year.  Similarly, the gardens have been largely neglected this year.  I'm not sure how that site will be used next year.  We'll see what happens in spring, I guess.

Hamish and Basil, brothers from the same litter, size comparison.
This came up because I posted what will probably be the last post of the year over there this morning.  Another tour of the yard like I had posted over there a few times this year.  Spring, summer and fall, all on one page of posts.   Here's the link, if you wish to take a look.

I am in the midst of nine days away from work, between vacation and the holiday.  I've so far been working on getting the yard and house ready for winter.  We've been lucky with a very mild fall so far, but we've had hard frosts the last few nights now and the daytime temperatures have turned much more seasonable.  Still, no snow yet, which is always good news to me.  My wife's car is in the shop, today and yesterday, which has put a small damper on my time off so far in that I have been getting up early, like a normal work day, and driving her to and from work.  Still worth it, though.  I'll still have a few days I can sleep in.  I think we're just going across town for a few hours for Thanksgiving on Thursday, otherwise not travelling.  I haven't even thought of the Christmas holiday yet, though it will be here quickly so I shall be forced to soon.  As for today, I want to get out, get some food and maybe shop a little.  I really have no agenda for the rest of today except picking up my wife and getting her car back.  Nice.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Depressing Comics

Blue Witch happened to post some comics today and that reminded me that I just so happened to save two comics last night in a draft to possibly post today.  I would have totally forgotten and just deleted the draft later due to timeliness if I had not seen her post this evening.  Thanks BW!  Both cartoons are from yesterday and I found each oddly amusing:

From Cyanide and Happiness and Garfield.  All links are also in the right column.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Trump Fire Pit

20161112_204849They say thing go in threes so, just to wrap up my little political posts of the past week, here is a picture from our fire pit Saturday night.  If you're from across the aisle you may move on, regular blogging will continue shortly.

When I grabbed some newspaper to start the fire it happened to be the front section of Wednesday's local paper declaring Trump the winner.  I used the whole section to help get the fire lit (and it went right up!) but I saved the front page for Terry to throw on the fire later, when she arrived.  Not planned out, I just thought it a bit of fun at the time.  What is odd, though, is how serious and spooky these girls look doing it.  (Children of the corn, anyone?)

None of us are political extremists and this is no veiled threat to anything or anyone.  Just a bit of fun, is all.  Thanks for the pics, Terry!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Well, America...

...We got what we deserve.  Now just watch the old, bigoted blowhard try to act presidential.

I didn't do it, but I feel the need to offer my personal apology to the rest of the world.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I Voted

Now we wait.

My wife enjoys this more than I.  Tonight will be her Superbowl, watching all the returns come in.  The winner can't really change a whole lot by themself, thankfully, but they can seriously alter the direction we're headed.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016

Happy Halloween, everyone!

We've not much going on, it being Monday and all.  Just waiting for some trick-or-treaters this evening.  I thought about getting some pictures but me photographing little kids may get me on some kind of bad person list, or questioned by the police.  Same kids, same costumes in every town across America, anyway.  The Hickory Head Hermit, aka Mike Firesmith, has his Halloween story again this year.  (See last year's here).  I hope to catch up on it later tonight.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Caturday! with Basil and Hamish

I promised a Caturday post earlier, so here it is!  Featuring our favorite cats that thankfully agree to live pretty much peacefully with us, Basil and Hamish!  I could have taken photos from old albums but I wanted to only post new, so here is what I came up with over the last week:

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I came home early on Tuesday because I did not feel well.  All I needed to do is go to bed, but I waited a couple hours until I had to move them.  They take over the bed in the morning hours after we leave, it's where they sleep most of the day when we're at work, I believe.
If they're not enjoying their main cat tree in the living room they are usually enjoying their first cat tree out on the back porch, while weather permits, anymore.  They are lucky kitties with fine, tall cat trees that are kitty corners of the house with full windows!  Their summer days home alone, well, if I could only do what they do for one day....


Hamish usually occupies the upper part of their cat trees but Basil gets up there sometimes.

They are brothers but so different in body types, I think it's just more comfortable for the bigger Basil to stretch out on the larger lower levels of the newer cat tree in the front of the house.  The older cat tree that's now on the porch was absolutely perfect for the first few years, (I highly recommend it for it's height and steps for kittens,)  Basil has just outgrown it now, I think.  Hamish still hangs in the crow's nest often, when the porch is open.  It is not a heated porch but the sun helps nicely this time of year.

There's more pictures from earlier this week through tonight after the break, and captioned for my pleasure!

Also, at the end is one of my favorite cat stories, as told by George Clooney on Dennis Miller Live years ago.   It's worth it, really.

Monday, October 17, 2016

October This-And-Thats Part II

I've had more thoughts recently, so I decided to list some ideas over the last couple days and now is where I start typing about them and see what happens.  Let's go!
  • I've gone https!  Since the blog needed an overhaul recently, I just made the switch, though I had to lose a few things I liked in the sidebar.  You do not need to update your link, the http site now redirects.  I have some of my lists rebuilt in the sidebar, but they are still a work in progress.  There may be a few more changes in store, too, but nothing major.  I still like the overall look of the website and template.  Email readers - you should stop by the actual site more often, the link is at the bottom of your email!
  • I'm off the nasal spray, and I did it without some 12 step program.  Allergies kicked my ass early this summer and I turned to a medicated nasal spray to breathe.  But I kept using it, and became dependent on it.  When it wore off I became more stuffed up than ever, even partially stuffed up was hard to deal with when the spray was so easy and made my sinuses so free and clear.  I had my last spray over a week ago on Friday morning before work.  I made it through a stuffy weekend and haven't used it since.  Kids, don't do nasal spray.  Snort some coke like we did in the old days.  jk!
  • Remember my 'Sammi' story?  Well, she contacted my wife through farcebook a few weeks ago.  She said something like how the messages we sent got filtered and she never saw them.  My wife thinks it's possible, I'm much more skeptical.  I told my wife to simply not respond.  You can read the whole story about me and Sammi here, she was my best friend some time ago.  Like I said there, I left my contact information.  The message she responded to - after more than a year - has my contact information in it, my phone number and this blog address.  She can easily contact me if she's serious.  From what I've seen her post on her farcebook page though, I don't know if I should look forward for that or not.  What I miss is what we had, way back when.  I've grown a lot since then.
  • Autumn, wow.  A couple weeks ago, literally, almost all the trees were fully green.  Now winter isn't that far off and most of the trees are colors other than green, and falling to the ground and blowing around.  This seemed to really sneak up on me this year.  It's like the whole month of September I enjoyed as summer and totally blocked out that October and cooler weather was just about to happen.  We had our first frost last week, albeit very light one at our home.  I've put away summer clothes and brought out the winter clothes, jackets, long underwear and long sleeve tee shirts.  Damn.  I spend all summer never wearing socks or long pants unless I'm at work.  Now I'm having to wear both - in the house!  Yes, we have turned the heat on occasionally, recently, though more off than on so far.
I wrote most of this over the weekend and although it's another short one I figured I best just post it before it gets outdated.  I also need to remind myself to post some pictures of the cats, Basil and Hamish.  They've not made an appearance on the site in quite some time.  I'll keep the camera handy this week for maybe a Caturday post!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

October This-And-Thats

You know the drill.  Sit, type, see what comes out.  Here we go!

  • I've not been posting so much this summer, but I think I hit most all the highlights.  I may have missed a boat trip or a couple fire pits, for example, but not all has to be documented here.  I've also scaled back my commenting on other's sites.  It's just been summer, there have been other things to do, is all.  I also don't want to be the guy that comments all the time and for no particular reason.  I do need to wish Delcatto a happy birthday, however.  I'll jump over there now and return the greetings, be right back.  
  • Besides not writing as much, I've just generally been neglecting my corner of the internet this summer.  I've had a broken counter widget for some time now, over 5 years of a running count, now gone.  And recently all my link lists in the right column have disappeared.  The blogs I read, my other favorite sites and my favorite bands.  Poof.  Gone.  I have all the links either in my favorites or they are easily searchable, but what a pain.  I've looked for where I can try to get some support from blogger but only find articles that do not help me at all.  I don't know why they disappeared but I'm sure my only recourse is to replace them.  Sigh.  I'll get around to website maintenance one of these days, but don't hold your breath.
  • Early this summer I was having issues with my sinuses.  For several years now I seem to have been developing allergies and this was the worst year yet.  I tried a couple things to keep my nose open, eventually turning to a medicated nasal spray.  Now, a few months later, I find myself dependent on that spray to breathe through my nose.  The spray makes my sinuses so clear that I get used to that, then when I'm even partially clogged it bothers me.  Weening myself off the spray has been miserable and, so far, unsuccessful.
  • Speaking of summer, it is now over.  The weather has taken a turn for the cooler and skies have been more gray than blue recently and for the foreseeable future.  We still have much to do in the yard before winter arrives, but there is time yet.  The leaves in the trees are still green, well, for the most part.

Well, a short This-And-Thats post this time but that's all I can think of at the moment.  I notice that I mentioned 'summer' in each of my points above.  That will probably be the last time that happens this year.  Happy Autumn, everybody!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Garage Workbench Redo

As I had mentioned earlier, my project for this vacation has been a redo of the workbench I have in the garage.  Not a huge project, but satisfying - and I only had to buy less than ten bucks of boards, I had everything else I would need.  I do spend a lot of time in the garage and at my workbench in the warmer times of the year and I felt it needed to be better organized.

New and improved!
I first got the workbench as a kit back in 2010.  At the time I modified it to be 10 inches higher to accommodate me and my aching back, and that's when I added most of the shelving in the garage as well.  Other than that it has evolved since by adding tools, shelves, power tools, and eventually the metal pegboard.

The height of everything is built for me, I can reach it all as needed.  The brackets I was using for the shelf above ran on the front of the stud keeping me from raising the pegboard so I just used a 2x4. I also added a lip at the back of the shelf so I can't push anything off the back.  Below the shelf, the pegboard holds some of my most commonly used tools, keeping them all very handy for me.  Raising the pegboard allowed me to build mini shelves between the studs for even more storage.  I had the dozen red bins since I got them for free a long time ago.  They've just been sitting in a box in the basement since.  Now I have tons of spots for all the little clutter.  As of now more than half are still empty - we'll see how long that lasts!  To the right of the little red bins I put all my nail and screw boxes.  Seemed reasonable at the time.  It does have height there that I may use for other things later.

The 'before' picture.
Sitting on the right of the workbench are two box shelves that I built in middle school.  A total of four this size - the other two are on my workbench in the basement - and two larger ones that I still have them all to this day.  A big one on the other side of the garage holds firewood, the other holds painting supplies and such in the basement.  I considered trying to mount these on the wall in the same area but they are not very light.  In the end I decided leaving them where they were, sitting directly on the right supports for the workbench, was still the best option.  Unfortunately, due to the new shelf I built, the gray bin on top for rags doesn't slide into the corner anymore, but I think I can work with it.

The modifications for the workbench included dropping the lower shelf and adding an identical shelf above that.  This gives me a handy area for my growing power tool collection.  The bottom is tall enough to comfortably fit the air compressor and anything I may need the space for in the future.  For now it also holds the fire pit and odds and ends.  The only other thing I added was a 1x4 screwed in along the top so there is no gap in front of the red bins where thing could have dropped.

That's it, that's my new and improved workbench.  I think it's pretty neat.
A few pictures of the process, start to finish, after the break:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Birthdays, Vacations, and Moms

Yeah.  Birthday.  Here we go again - wait, what?  Terry is having a bash out at a place with a bar and big TVs for the first Packer game to celebrate her birthday - on my birthday - and I'm included for nothing?

DSCF5118No brainer, right?  Well for me it wasn't so simple, and went from possibly scary and/or embarrassing to a perfect, fun birthday for me.  See, I was first presented with the idea on one of our outings on the boat, it was one of those things where everybody looks at you and says, 'right?' and so you just say 'okay, right,' without being able to think about it much.  First of all, it was to be on the day of the first regular season Packer game.  Second, it was on my actual birth day.  And third, it was at the beginning of my long needed vacation.  I had plans, kinda (hint: this is why OCD is a label on this post).  Certainly not great plans, but still, I do what I do on Packer Sundays (-and noon, Sunday Packer games are prime viewing but becoming less and less common.)  So I went with it at the time.  Later when I was thinking about it more and having a rather fruitless - for me - discussion about it with my wife, it was settled - I was going to someone else's birthday party on my birthday.  Not an accurate way to state it, but the funniest!
It turned out to be a great private room at a local place with our own bar, bartender and buffet.  Not to mention the one huge projection and two big screen TVs to show the Packer game.  We didn't have near enough friends show up to fill the room but plenty of friends were there to have fun with and we were able to spread out as necessary.  Of course, Terry included me in everything even though she planned and paid.  I was very happy for the friends that showed up, all our mutual friends and through Terry and even a few of my own friends were nice enough to show up - and bearing gifts!  Thank you all, and many thanks to Terry, this was a pretty good day!  And the Packers won!

DSCF5128Of course, I guess I was having such a good time still after the game that we stopped off at a local tavern for a few, and then I guess I had even more at home.  The problem with day drinking is night doesn't tell me when to stop, I guess.  I paid for it Monday, like I haven't in years.  I did get the few things done that day that were required, but otherwise I was bottle-flu-boy all day.  Eh, you live, you learn, then you forget and learn again.

Vacation.  As I said, I am on vacation this week.  Thank goodness because I never would have made it to work on Monday (see above).  I like to have one big, main project on my staycation vacations, in addition to a list of smaller things to complete.  This year my main project has been a reset, of sorts, of my workbench area in the garage.  I was going to post about that here and now, but that is worth it's own post, maybe tomorrow, but if I state that it usually takes a few days it seems.

It was supposed to be started on Monday, well, that never happened.  So much of Tuesday and the first part of today went into the garage.  And the thing about tearing up the workbench area to redo it is that once everything was deconstructed I had no idea where the tool was that I needed when I needed it.  I found my way eventually.  Anyway, more to come on that.  Now...

I love my Mom, and I know she loves me, and us.  And the internet.  Thank you for stopping by, Mom, and at 49 years old now but at the risk of sounding like a selfish teenager that gets embarrassed by their parents:  Gawd, Ma, this isn't facebook!  I know you love us, thank you for stopping saying it in every single comment recently, but now you're commenting on almost every effing post.  Back off!  When I need a president for my fan club I'll let you know.  Gawd!

Seriously, I love you but I feel your presence has been great recently.  You texted me, sent a card, and commented for my birthday before I could write about it.  My name is not even on this site, on purpose, let alone my details.  And if the only comments I get now are from my mom I need to seriously rethink doing things here.  Please call me, it would seem we need to get together soon.

Sigh.  Am I a bad son?  Happy Birthday to me.  Gawd!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Another Lake Voyage

It's been a busy week and I've neglected to post pictures of last weekend's venture on Lake Mendota with Terry and her sister, Becky, on Terry's pontoon boat.  Again, it was a beautiful day - sunny but enough clouds to keep you from roasting out there.  It turned out to be a little windy so the adventurous plan of crossing the lake to visit Picnic Point was just not feasible for the boat and horsepower we had this day and with this wind and in this direction.  The waves were a little much, as you may see after the break.

DSCF5082We settled for veering off to the old, standby cove where it is always easy to anchor and relax with other boaters, out of the bigger waves in the middle of the lake and in shallow waters where you can touch the bottom.  Still, I appreciate their willingness to venture out in the boat more this year, even trusting me in the driver seat.  I did grow up around boats a bit when younger and this all reminds me of how I loved the water and boating then, and still do now.

The specialty drink of today's venture was something with vanilla fluff (marshmallow) vodka, orange soda and topped with a floating marshmallow Peep.  A very sweet way to enter the lake!

There was also one very amusing moment when a mutual friend texted Terry by mistake, which led to each of us texting him back different things, trying to give him major hell, of course.  I think he finally got it and understood his mistake.  Thanks for the comedy relief, James!

I will see all these people and more this weekend so I'm sure to post something about that next week.  I'll be on vacation, finally, and I have a project to document, so stay tuned...!

A self-indulgent dump of boating pictures after the break, captioned for my pleasure!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Stump Flowers in September

I know I haven't posted anything recently.  Well, life happens.  I'm sure I'll have something to share soon.  Until then, here's an updated picture of the plants we potted to fill the stump.  Some are showing the wear of late summer.  The cucumber plant in the bucket is headed for the compost bin, we got 4 cucumbers off it.  And, finally, the monster plant in back is flowering.  I took a lot of pictures outside yesterday - the good, the bad and the ugly of it all.  You can see them over here, if you fancy.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

New Roof!

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We had a new roof put on the house and garage recently.  Not terribly exciting for anyone but us, but I did enjoy taking almost one hundred pictures of the process.  No, I won't ask you to look at them all.  But I did want to post a couple pictures going back to when we bought the house.

First picture is the house as it was when we bought it.  Our little, bland, white house.

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Late 2013
This next picture is after we had the windows installed in November, 2013.  The new windows, aside from being so much more efficient than the original windows, look so much better.  Inside, the fake wood grain finish blends right in with the original trim, and outside we had black flashing installed around the windows to make them pop a little.  We think it worked out rather well.

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Today, 2016
Finally, the third picture is our house now, after the new roof and gutters but before the power company removed the electrical wire protection, top left, that they put on when the permit was pulled.  No, you can't really see the roof, but it looks like any other new roof.  We got ours in black onyx in keeping with the black and white theme.  We also repainted the foundation and front railings since the second picture, 'black as Swedish death metal,' as the paint mixer at the store put it.  We also changed out the front door light and added new, black, more visible house numbers.  And, among other things, we still want a new screen door for the front, and perhaps a new mailbox - black, of course.

The only real difference that you can see in this last picture is in the drip edge along the roof line.  We have no overhang so I came up with the idea of making the drip edge black on the front and back gable ends of the house to give the roof more definition, and we are very pleased with the result.  Even the roofing crew that installed it was impressed that I came up with it.  One even told me he wishes more homeowners did something like this.  The black edge does exactly as I intended, and with the twin peaks out front it looks very good, indeed.

A good, straight on picture is after the break:

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Nice Weekend

DSCF4999I had a pretty nice weekend, I hope you did, too.  On Saturday I got several outside chores done, including getting firewood cut with my new chainsaw!  It's bigger than I actually need, but it was a really good deal.  I had been saving scavenged wood for fire pits but that would be a lot of cutting with the hand saw, now I can scavenge away and not worry about the work of cutting it up.   A few more fire pits and the saw will have paid for itself rather than buying expensive bundles of firewood from the store.  There's a lot of trees in Madison, and a lot of falling branches that are free for the taking.  Later that day we also went over to my sister in law's house to see our newest and tiniest nephew.  Well, I'm not posting pictures of that, so that's that, then.

We were invited by Kate's friend Terry to go out on the boat Sunday.  I was not sure that I wanted to go, but I'm glad I did.  Thanks, Terry!  I was able to kick back and have a few drinks and not drive anything anywhere.  Again, it was a beautiful day for it, not too hot and not too sunny.  Still, don't let the clouds you see below fool you - I came home with minor sunburns on my arms and knees.  My own fault as I skipped the sunblock because I wanted more color.

A zoomed in look across the lake at the Wisconsin State Capitol building in the distance.
A few more pics after the break:

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Atwoodfest 2016!

Atwoodfest, a neighborhood festival on this near east side of Madison, happened this past weekend.  Bands, beers, vendors, beers and friends, all day each day.  Well that would be a bit much, but we did manage to spend a few hours down there both Saturday and Sunday.  The weather was beautiful, temperatures in the low 80's and the sun made it quite warm, however not as hot as last year.

After Mike's visit on Saturday (see last post), we walked down to the festival.  It's just a great atmosphere - and it seems to be getting bigger every year.  We tried some food, though not as much as years past, and bought frivolous festival wares.  We saw some friends and coworkers on our walks up and down the street.  This Atwood Avenue area is only about a 15-20 minute walk from our house, depending on your gait, but then you are on your feet the whole time unless you are lucky enough to come across a rare chair, ledge or curb..  My legs and feet held up well this year, but it did take a toll on my back.  Thus I have the extra time to write this now.

Some more pictures after the break!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Old Friends, Again!

Last year was my 30th class reunion, and it was the first one I had attended.  I talk about that here.  At that time one of my great friends from and since high school, Gary, came back to the area for the reunion from down south and I was able to spend some good time and have some fun hanging with him again.  That post about Gary's visit is here.

Mike and Me.  Man, I hate posting pics of myself....
My other great friend from high school is Mike, and he and Gary were friends well before I nosed in.  I got myself invited to a Ronnie James Dio concert here in Madison, with Dokken as the opening band.  That was in late 1983, maybe 1984...  'twas a long time ago now.  We lived in a town less than an hour away.  Mike was a year younger than me and Gary in high school, I'll repost the picture of all 3 of us from 25 years ago, a few years past high school, somewhere below.

We've been mostly out of touch for many years, just checking in when things happen and such, and I think that goes for all three of us.  But it should also be expected, as we all live in different states now and have our own lives that are busier and more complicated than back then.  I just happen to be closest to where we came from to be able to benefit from getting the chance to see them sometimes on their travels back for other reasons.  I'll take it, these are some of life's treasures.

Me, Gary, and Mike at the Black Bear Lounge, 1991
Mike and I had a couple chances to meet up in the recent years when he came back in the state, but for circumstances it ended up just not working out.  He seemed to want to make it a priority this time, and I was more than happy to see him when he showed up here midday yesterday.  I knew his destination was the hometown but I didn't realize at that time it was for his class reunion.  He had his young son with him and they had been on the road for some time.  After a welcoming and settling in we had grilled burgers for lunch.  Kind of a last minute plan, and I thank my lovely wife for doing all the work so we could visit.

 Mike is one of my oldest and best friends.  He was coming to my house and I wanted to impress him because, you know, we're still friends even though we haven't been close recently so he hasn't seen the cool little house and yard we have and all my toys and creations that go with it.  I did give him the nickel tour, also so we could separate and discuss 'adult' topics without the boy listening.  Yes, stuff happens that I won't write about here.  Man, I miss hanging out with him like we used to, but that couldn't happen today.  Still, he's got a great boy and I know Mike is proudest of him above all.  I did make one faux pas during our visit when I forgot what was actually in a music video I played on the TV with the boy in the room.  Nothing terrible, just a little inappropriate.  Typical for me, I know I have the most unspoken embarrassing moments between me, Mike and Gary of our shared, youthful experiences.  Thankfully they've always seemed to have my back when it counted, as I have theirs, and always will.  We have more years behind us than ahead of us at this point, we have to value what is there for us when we can.

Thanks for stopping by, Mike!  I enjoyed our visit and hopefully we can spend more time in the future.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Trump v. Clinton

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Stump Flower Repotting

Today we re-potted some of the flowers on the stump.  If it wasn't full before, it is now.  I think I picked out some pretty decent plants this year, and we will be able to keep some that are perennials.  The garden blog has been updated with some neat pictures, have a look!


Sunday, July 10, 2016

'Critters' Explained

Lately I've referred to  having trouble with 'critters.'  I haven't written much more because I didn't know enough about it for a full post.  Still don't know as much as I'd like, but the current situation seems to be resolved enough for reflection.

DSCF4845Several weeks ago I noticed holes dug in the strip of grass that I have between ours and neighbor Dave's house.  I knew Dave had issues with moles in the past so I asked him about it, and wound up borrowing his deterrent, a device that you put into the ground that emits a sound at intervals, every 30 seconds or so.  And you want it in tightly to better conduct the sound through the earth.

Now a little back story.  There have been news articles recently about a rat infestation near here, 6 or more blocks away in the dumpster at a fast food joint.  The house behind it found about 300 rats taking up residence under their garage, with tunnels to the dumpster area.  Steps have been taken in those situations by now but the articles mentioned things like putting your garbage away, how they like open compost and wood piles, and how chicken coops can attract them - and we have a few neighbors with chickens.

Then, that same evening that I borrowed neighbor Dave's sonic device, neighbor Jane on the other side told me about seeing a rat in her back yard the day before.  That changed my thinking a little bit.  And it made me think of how even when we had the netting over the strawberry plants the berries were disappearing before we knew they were there.  Thinking that maybe rats were stealing them creeped me out.  I was already going to buy some type of small animal repellent, now I was going to add rat poison to my list.  That night I ordered rat poison and small animal repellent online and it arrived by the time I got home from work the next day.  Very impressive, Amazon.

DSCF4846So I spent a few days putting out the poison chunks down every hole I found, about 4 by the side of the house and a couple in the back yard between the garden and the compost bin.  Neighbor Jane threw about a dozen on the other side of her fence near where she saw the rat.  We did not want any in Jane's yard because of her dogs.  After a few days of this, checking the chunks I put out and replacing many, I came home from work and put 5 out behind and around the compost bin.  Nothing had been getting into the bin but it was near the holes in back and pretty out of the way in the small spaces between the bin and the fences.  Less than a half hour later I went back to check and all 5 had disappeared.  It was then I decided that was enough, I wouldn't put out any more poison because I still was not sure what I was poisoning.  When Jane got home I even went over to make sure partial poison baits did not get dragged over there, where the dogs could get at them.  Thankfully I didn't find anything, but 5 gone that fast is pretty crazy.

DSCF4844The sonic device was seemingly having no effect, so the next day I removed it and filled the holes.  The following day all the holes had been reopened, even the hole that I had made just for that sonic device.  I sprinkled the repellent around the area again and left it for a few rainy days.  Eventually I went out to refill the holes again.  This time I sprinkled in the small animal repellent into the hole, refilled the hole, and sprinkled more repellent on the filled in holes and some in the whole area, and did the same to one area in back.

Now, several days later, the refilled holes have not been disturbed.  The 'critter' situation seems to be under control once again, even though I don't know exactly what it was.  Really, I never even saw anything, alive or dead, in these areas, only the evidence of activity.  Who knows what goes on in my yard when I'm not looking?  I'm sure the cats have a pretty good idea, but they don't seem interested in cluing me in at all.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

PAIN - Black Knight Satellite

PAIN - Black Knight Satellite lyric video.  New album 'Coming Home' out September 9!

Last album was 2011, other than Lindemann and Hypocrisy.  Killer HD graphics here, too!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Holiday Fire Pit

We managed to get a decent (read: not overly hot and humid) weekend for the holiday.  On Sunday night we had some friends over for a few hours of food, fun, drinks and conversation around the fire.
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Much of the same cast of characters as usual, but we have not seen B&Z in a very long time, James (orange hat) just moved back to town after a year and a half or so, and he brought another Kate with him that we have known casually for a few years.  Terry and Becky also came, and Terry brought the only fireworks of the evening - extra large sparklers.  It never entered my mind to buy fireworks but, boy, it had occurred to many others in the neighborhood!  I certainly didn't mind, but there were fireworks going off all around us each night of the weekend.  I didn't see a lot of them, sometimes just the tops over trees and houses, but you could hear how much were set off nearby.

There's enough cut wood left for one more fire pit so I must get to the logs/branches that I have sitting out.  I also spent much of the day Sunday sealing the cracks between the slabs in the driveway.   I got all the easy ones, now I have the tougher, wider ones down by the garage to do yet.    I was standing over that torch much of the day and it was the backs of my upper arms and shoulders that got burned to a nice, bright red color.  And I'm a side sleeper so either side hurts now trying to sleep!  Anyway, two more chores for the list.  Maybe this weekend will be nice enough to get them done.   Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

On The Lake Today

This was a good way to start the holiday weekend.  Cruising the lake on a perfect day.
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It was not too hot, there was a good breeze, and the sky had a good cloud cover while still getting light and sun without getting baked and burned.  If I could be in the same place at the same time in the next two days as the picture above, we'd see the lake much busier with boat traffic.  I was a bit surprised how slow it was when we were out, it is a holiday weekend, after all.  But as we came in there were already many more boats coming out.  That was mid afternoon, maybe about 3, we had met Terry and Becky at the boat at noon.

They let me drive most of the way so I took us a different direction than towards the cove that we usually end up in (which was crowded with boats as we saw on the way back).  We dropped anchor for a bit by a beach in Middleton for drinks and snacks.  I considered trying to go all the way across the lake to Picnic Point but for the slow speed of the pontoon boat would have made this a considerably longer adventure to get there and back.  Basically shooting straight across the lake, too.  I tend to like viewing the shoreline - the nature of it all and, you know, rich people's houses!  We also saw the castle-like house today that has a turret and gargoyles.

It was a great time on the lake today and a beautiful day for it.  Life needs more moments like these!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June This-And-Thats

Before June gets away from me I suppose I should write about a few things.  I've taken enough time away from here already, but there has been nothing major to discuss other than what I have already posted this month, so it's once again time to start typing and see what happens!
  • I'm glad that I made it a policy not to discuss my work here.  Even though my name is not on the site, I would worry that some of my gripes over the years could make it back there.  Especially most recently.  Then again, I would probably be posting much more often!
  • We have decided on a contractor for our new roof project and decided to wait on the porch project as that will be pricier than we had hoped.  The papers are signed but the work isn't scheduled yet, though we were told about 50 days out.  The foreman has visited to get details and we are waiting to talk to the electrician about the exhaust vents.  I'm not worried about not having a date yet, I just want it finished by fall and I have no reason to believe it won't be.  I've also contacted them since to change the color of the drip edge on the gable ends of the house to black.  Since we have no eaves or overhangs, I thought it would give the upper edge more definition.  Also, it will match the nearly new black flashing around the windows we had installed in 2013 and the foundation that we repainted black last year.  Our house and garage will be fully white with black trim, foundation and shingles.  Not as exciting as some of the colorful houses of this eclectic, near east side of Madison, but I think it will look rather sharp, nonetheless.
  • For some reason we don't get many thunderstorms here.  I watch the radar; I watch them coming right at us; I watch them fall apart as they approach our lakes while continuing along the line to either side.  I do enjoy a good storm, but nothing too dangerous, of course.  I don't enjoy death or destruction in my nature but I do enjoy samples of its power.  It's exhilarating watching the lightning, jumping at the thunder and smelling the ionized air.  That being said, things must have gotten a little windy the other night.  No real storm, but we did have much rain and wind in the early hours.  On a related note...
  • I have more free firewood thanks to stormy winds on Saturday night.  When we got up we had a 12 foot craggy, leafy live branch hanging off the side fence and mostly in the lilac and purple-floppy-plant.  We waited until around midday for all to dry out some, then I went and trimmed all the little leafy branches and saved the main logs for firewood.  As I was trimming that I heard a crack and crash and watched a dead branch from one of the same black walnut trees fall feet away from me on old neighbor Dave's side of the fence.  Oh, I saw it coming just in time so didn't even freak out, but it did make a little bit of a racket.  It was at least half as big as the live one but less dense, being dead.  I finished the branch I was working on and, after an hour or so break, went over on my neighbor's side and did the same to the dead branch.  I talked to him last night.  He didn't see me doing it but he did notice them disappear at times when he looked out the window and thanked me.  Which leads me to how...
  • A couple years ago neighbor Dave had moles, but not last year.  Last year I didn't have moles, either, but not this year.   I've seen holes in the short space between ours and his houses and even more in the back yard between the garden and the back fence.  I asked him about the device he used a few years ago, a thing he stuck in the ground that made a sound at intervals, and he still had it.  So I put that in the ground between the houses, now I need to shop for some kind of critter repellent for the back yard.  A nice side effect would be keeping the damn bunny rabbits out, too.
Well again, just start typing and see what happens, that seems to be good for me.  Still, time to wrap it up.  I do need to get on Amazon and look for critter repellent, after all.  
*And one last thought - like last year, we have been wanting to have a fire pit and invite all we know.   though just like last year seemed to go, every Saturday has been the hottest, most humid day of the week for several weeks now.  This week should change, so I need to get on that.  
Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Stump Flowers

I've been neglecting this space, sorry about that.  Not up for writing at the moment, either.  So here's an updated picture of the stump flowers I just took.  Compare to the picture I posted two posts (and almost a month!) ago and you can see the growth.  I think I'll dump the rest of the pictures on the garden blog.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Holy Cow!

This is what one-quarter of a cow looks like in our freezer.
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Some time ago a friend asked if we would be interested in going in on a cow.  We had talked about it previously but now it was time so we jumped at the chance.  Grass fed, corn finished, and from Door County, Wisconsin.  The cow had been picked a while ago but it took some time waiting for the cow to fatten up for slaughter, so we've been waiting for several weeks.  Then I got word earlier this week, it's time!  Our friend went up to get it from his dad (who lives up there and also had a share of the cow) after work yesterday and showed up here late last night to drop off our quarter of the cow.  It is a shared quarter, meaning we have front and back cuts of meat.  I was told over 200 pounds, though it appears lighter.  Still, we paid a good rate across the board for good beef that includes several kinds of roasts and steaks, stew meat and soup bones, and over 40 tubes of ground beef between one and one and a half pounds each (in a box at right under tenderized round steaks, among other cuts).  Kate took inventory this morning, but we still need to get it sorted better in the freezer.

Well, that's one less thing to think about now for quite a while.  And it makes grocery shopping easier, too.  We had this in mind when we bought the freezer and I'm glad it is now full of meat.  Should be a lot of fun grilling this summer.  Yum!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Plant Day!

DSCF4730I took the rest of the week off for a little spring vacation, and with the holiday weekend I have six consecutive days off!  I've needed it for some time now.  I haven't really given myself one or two bigger projects this time off, but I do have a list of lots of little things to get accomplished.

Today was forecast to be rainy almost all day so I wasn't thinking I would get plants in at all.  Instead, it was a beautiful sunny day until storming for a short time mid to late afternoon and now is clear and nice again.  We got some hanging baskets last weekend, now I needed to buy more pots and plants to fill them.  Kate wants the tree stump out back filled and that's what I set out to do.  Plus we had our pot out front to fill and space for some perennials by the porch.  That space has some plants that were in pots last year.  It's quite the hodgepodge of perennials in that corner and they will probably have to be separated eventually.  I was a planting machine this afternoon.  I managed to use up all the new and all the usable pots we had, and I still have 4 marigolds to put somewhere.  They'll probably end up in the flower bed in front of the two perennials I planted.  Also, the white bucket on the stump has a seed pod for cucumbers.

DSCF4738I think most of what I got are perennials.  And no petunias this year, for a change.  When my wife got home she was asking me what they were but I have no idea for almost all, but I kept the tags.  I picked out plants that I found pleasing to look at, colorful - or will be, and could handle full sun.  I did not purposely look at what anything was called, I don't know enough about plants for it to mean much to me.  The plants in the pot out front are part sun/part shade and I had a couple of the red ones left over that are in back that I will keep an eye on.  In fact, now the games begin... with the bastard squirrels!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cheers, Wisconsin, we’re No. 1!

This story has been out for about a week now, but I read this editorial this afternoon in today's edition of our local paper, The Wisconsin State Journal, while in the waiting room for our dentist after work today.  (Yeah, that was fun, too.  I might write about it later, but anyway.)  Our city of Madison is number 4, and our state of Wisconsin has 12 of the top 20 cities.  Twelve of the top 20 drunkest cities in all of America.  Surely nothing to be proud of... but that's not how we roll.  I hate to say it, kinda not really, but this editorial hits the nail square on the head.

Click the text for the whole article!  Written by Ben Bromley.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

May This-And-Thats

DSCF4729It's been some time since I just typed and let things out.  In fact, I haven't really felt like writing anything in a while, I guess.  Other than my Ace Frehley LLP post, I've mostly written just to post pictures to keep up with our garden and spring flora.  Starting to type and not knowing exactly what will come out can be - and has been - fun and interesting.  And, well, life is ever forward so shall we get started?

  • I reached out to 8 contractors, heard back from 6, and received quotes from 3.  We know who we want to hire for the roof project, but as of now we are waiting for the quote for the porch project from the same company.  It will affect how we go about financing, if we do just the roof right now or both projects.  The roof project is the highest priority for us, the porch will be pricier.  Neighbor Dave tells me the porch was being built at the same time his deck was, about 1973.  He also said he knows it was not permitted, and after taking a closer look at the construction, there is no doubt in my mind no permits were pulled and no inspection took place.  It's not in danger of falling apart, but no inspector would approve of the building method.
  • I used Bayer Season Long Weed Control on my lawn a couple weeks ago.  I've been sold on the product since it finally got rid of many tiny weeds in my front lawn last spring, I think.  It's the kind of thing that you hook up to the hose and spray the lawn.  I did my full front and back lawns, and I even did a strip of my neighbor's lawn beside our driveway.  I've had issues in the past with crabgrass and other weeds coming down her side and getting into my yard.  The only thing is I got a little too close to a couple peony bushes, a small one of ours and a very large one of the neighbors.  The plants got all curly and sick looking in just a day and they remain that way.  Thankfully it only affected a part of my neighbor's plant, but I think our peony is done for this year, though I do think it will come back.
  • Before I forget, Kate was in California a couple weeks ago for a work conference.  This has happened before in years past.  It's during the week so with work and chores it goes by quick.  Then, just as the cats and I start getting used to her not being there - she's back.  It freaked Basil out quite a bit last year but he seemed to take it better this year.  I was also glad to have her back, even though we both seemed a bit testy with each other for a few days for some reason.  We also have an anniversary coming up, kind of a milestone one, too.  No, I don't think they're related, but I do have to start looking for some kind of gift!
  • Spring is finally here.  I was so anxious for it to be here this year.  I want it to be comfortable without a coat outside and I want to get the outside fully cleaned up and ready for summer.  Aside from some of the usual projects, all that is left is plant shopping and that will most likely happen next weekend.  We had frost warnings the last couple nights and the high temperatures still are not enough to have all the windows open comfortably.  I hope we get some of that all-day open-window time before it inevitably becomes central air time.  For the time being, the heat remains on.
  • Another thing about spring, and this year especially, the lilacs burst with blooms and at the same time the lily of the valley is starting to peak.  I brought in some of each yesterday making the the house very floral scented.  We had to put them in different rooms to spread it out a little.  They both smell so nice and are so fleeting in spring we must enjoy it while we can.

Well, when I sat I only had a vague idea of what I might say and look at all the stuff that came out.  Now, I better wrap it up before it gets too much longer.  I'm sure I'll have forgotten something, I always do, but I also don't want to make a post so long no one reads it. 

It will be another summer of projects and activities so I'm sure I won't run out of anything to write about anytime soon.  Thanks for reading.

Ta ta for now.