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Neighborhood party, and bobcat sighting!

July 13th, 2018 at 02:12 pm

The more exciting news first...I saw a bobcat in my back yard this past Wednesday night!

It was by no means dark. It was about 7:45 pm, and about 10 minutes prior, I had been weeding in the exact area where I later saw the bobcat; there was also a small bunny I noticed as I walked inside.

Anyway, I was in the sun room watering my plants when my Early Warning System (aka, Luther) alerted me with his tail all bushed out and looking very wide-eyed. From inside the sun room, I glanced in the direction of where he was looking, peering through a thicket of hydrangea branches, and the first thing I see is the rear end of an animal and I saw it was a tufted tail.

Then it rounded the bend, skirting my newly rebuilt patio, and I could see it was a very healthy looking bobcat, maybe 2 or 3 times the size of my cat (small but fearsome), but with a shorter body and longer legs, tufted ears, tan with black spots.

I was surprised it didn't see me, but at that time of evening, the interior of the house is very dark compared to outside, and I was hidden by the large, bushy snowball hydrangea (which by the way I need to trim).

It walked the length of the back yard, alert and purposeful, before disappearing from view. Luther and I both raced to the kitchen to follow it, but lost it.

This marks the 3rd bobcat sighting in my yard in the past 3 years!! Last year I also saw a bobcat (perhaps the same one?) in July. I've read that a female bobcat range is about 6 miles while the males can range as much as 30 miles.

So awesome, and disconcerting at the same time since I was so recently outside in that exact same spot.

So I'm having a party, kind of impromptu, tonight! More like a neighborhood Happy Hour. I was just going to have my neighbors who live behind me over for a glass of wine, to show off the patio, and one thing led to another. I invited another couple I'm friendly with from further up the street, my neighbor (a widower) from across the street and a divorced woman who used to live on our street but now lives on an adjacent road. Plus my dad. So, 7 people, a nice small group. Everyone except my father can walk here. Smile

Getting ready...

I ran around yesterday for food/drink supplies and am just having assorted micro-brewed bears, 3 kinds of wine and gin/tonic for dad, along with nonalcoholic drinks if anyone wants.

Food-wise, I'll have 3 dips: hummus, guacomole and salsa with nachos, plus cheese and crackers, red grapes, carrots, pistachio nuts. I think that should be do it. No cooking, voila.

I realized I would really need some of those domed food covers to keep insects away, and I had seen them at Aldi's for several weeks. Of course, they were out of them when I went there yesterday, but I found them at TJ Maax in town, where I bought the last 2 in the store.

I have just barely enough seating (all mismatched but it'll do), including a wood bench I bought at a yard sale on my street last summer, which I had to drag out of garage and to back patio. I haven't really used it much because it's painted wood, and it'll get ruined if exposed to the rain. Eventually, like next year I hope, I'll get a pergola up on the patio and maybe that would offer some protection from elements. My mason told me about a pergola "kit" that includes louvers you can operate to open/close.

A day in the life....

July 9th, 2018 at 05:54 pm

I hit the library book sale this weekend, picking up 4 books and 2 CDs for just $6. At checkout, one of the guys sitting at the tabled observed my Janis Joplin tape and said "Wow."

I never did learn exactly what that meant, but maybe it struck him as odd that a woman in her 50s is buying Janis Joplin music. Hey...my observation is, we tend to stick with the music we grew up with, and for me, that meant:

A. Classical music and opera (my step-father was a classical pianist who taught at NYU)

B. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Seals & Croft, Janis, Crosby Still Nash & Young, Joan Baez, Carly Simon, Carole King, Simon & Garfunkel, etc.

Anyway, when I put the CD in the drive for my car ride to work, I realized the cellophane tape was still on the CD. Brand new and just $1! Cool.

When I was walking around on the town walking trails, I noticed the gooseberries were ripe. I used to grow them but had always eaten only the green (unripe) berries becus the birds would get the ripe ones first.

So I was curious what they'd taste like. I picked a handful of berries and continued walking until a man around my age stopped me, curious to know about the berries, which he had seen too, but had been afraid to eat.

I assured him they were safe to eat, and before long, I learned he was born and raised in my town, really likes sour candies and he had met Adam (the shooter) 2 times, once at Big Y supermarket, when Adam seemed very, very angry about something.

At one point, the man told me, "You have gray/great hair." I wasn't really sure if he said I have GREAT hair, or GRAY hair, both of which would be true.

But then he followed that with, "So do I....but not like yours." He actually did have white hair, so again, he could have been insulting me or complementing me, depending on how you take it.

It kind of amused me to think about.

I have to take my father to the Social Security office in nearby city this week to replace a lost card. It makes me cringe to think where his card is now. Most likely, he left it at a doctor's office, since he says they ask for it, but you would think they would have contacted him by now if they had it.

I might suggest a freeze to him when I see him.

Dad and I enjoyed drinks on the new patio before leaving for dinner. It was very pleasant out there. He said I need to entertain more, now that I have the patio space, and I agreed. Next up: inviting my neighbors over.

Now I can't get these Janis songs out of my head. Now c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, take another little piece of my heart now baby.....you know you've got it, if it makes you feel good......

Happy 4th

July 4th, 2018 at 07:54 am

I was sort of expecting to work today, as the agency I work for has no qualms about keeping the office open if there's a big project with a deadline looming. It's the nature of the beast.

But as it turned out, it IS a holiday for us, so I only logged 14.25 hours this week. It's okay, I'm pretty sure I'll make up later in the year.

I got my property tax bill, which totals $6,684 and is to be paid in 2 installments. The increase on a monthly basis is fairly noticeable, going from $492 a month to $557 a month. Oh well. Not much I can do about that now, though once I turn 65, I'll qualify for tax credits, both at the town and state level, if I keep my income fairly low.

The state (CT) tax credit is much less generous: if your income is under $35,300, you get a credit up to $1,000. That's a very low income, but since I won't be working at all by that point, I should still qualify.

But you can have an income of up to $44,999 to qualify for the maximum town property tax credit of $2,525, and even those with an income of up to $55,000 would still get a smaller credit of $1,750.

My car tax was $246; each year, as the car depreciates, the bill becomes a little smaller. My car is a 2013, to give you some idea. Thanks to Trump's tax law changes, I won't be able to claim the full amount of taxes paid on my federal return, since they exceed $10K.

My thermometer registered nearly 100% humidity outside. Yuck. I know I need salad greens and soymilk, so I guess I've got to go out to Aldi's at some point.

I've been blocking the cat door to basement, where the litter boxes are, so Luther won't catch mice down there and bring them alive, up stairs, in the middle of the night.

He's been fine with that, and has shown no urgency in using the litter box in the morning. But one morning he bolted right down there, and just a few minutes later bounded up the stairs with a mouse in his mouth! He must be hearing things I just can't hear. He had it in the family room. I did the box-and-broom routine, which doesn't always work, but this time, I was able to sweep the mouse into box in a few minutes' time and released it, alive, outside.

But wait. There's more! Luther was showing unusual interest in a certain corner of the family room, and yes, there was another mouse. Somehow I swept up that mouse too and released it outside.

The fun wasn't over. When I came home from work yesterday, I found 2 more dead mice on family room carpet. He had found a nest.

He's very efficient at catching mice, but I can't stand having them at all; i'm going to try getting someone to block entry areas in basement. I have a general sense of where they come in, where the house rests on sill/foundation, based on where I see the cat always crouching. Not easily accessible areas, so I'd rather pay someone to do it.

A sultry Sunday

July 1st, 2018 at 05:35 pm

I don't know about other people but the tremendous heat wave we're into just causes me to stay home and not do much of anything.

The AC is set at a mostly comfortable 77 degrees. You can really tell the difference when you walk in from outside. Any higher and it's too hot upstairs.

I've whiled away a lot of hours getting into succulent propagation. I had 2 echeverias that were lanky, so I deadheaded both for replanting, and also pinched off lots of leaves which, after they callused over this weekend, I then "planted" in dry cactus soil, to encourage them to grow roots. This rooting process will take weeks; it's an exercise in patience, but hopefully I will have lots of baby Echeveria Black Prince and Echeveria Perle von Nurberg.

I did also tidy up the garage, and I've been watering all my potted plants on a daily basis.

I have plenty of yard chores, but just can't bring myself to do them.

The USDA site where I logged all my exercise shut down effective June 30 (thanks Trump) but I found a much better site do record exercise and diet at cronometer.com. It automatically calculates your calorie intake based on food items you input.

CD rates are rising

June 29th, 2018 at 01:23 pm

As I was doing my end-of-month expense and investment reports (I'm down $10,000 for the month), I noticed that 2 of my laddered CDs are coming due in August and September.

This is part of my cash position, and the idea behind laddering CDs is that each time you renew one of the CDs in your spread of 4 or 5 CDs, all taken out at different times, you can improve your rate of return based on current rates.

I checked bankrate.com to see how much better rates are since I got these 2- and 5-year CDs which are currently earning 1.35% and 1.98% APY, respectively.

I was happy to see Barclay's is offering 2.85% on its 5-yr CD, but I can do even better than that: a 5-year CD with Connexus Credit Union earning 3.25%.

If you don't meet the criteria for becoming a member, based on where you live or where you work, you can just pay $5 to join. SmileSo in late August I'll open up a new CD with Connexus with $10,000 from a maturing Barclays CD, and in September I'll consider opening up another CD with them with $8775 from a maturing State Farm CD.

After so many years of ultra-low bank saving rates, 3.25% actually sounds good.

As it turned out, I worked a nearly normal work week this week, as work was slow. So I left at my usual time after a half day on Wednesday, and yesterday I worked from home for just an hour and a half hour today.

Today is the start of very high temps in the upper 80s and 90s. Sun/Mon is supposed to be the worst, with high humidity.

So far I'm making do in the house with onlyl the ceiling fans running, as I anticipate I'll need the central AC Sunday/Monday and am trying to keep costs down.

The other day I noticed that my Aldi's $20 shelving system (purchased last summer) partially collapsed because I put too much weight on it. I'm thankful none of my plants crashed to the ground.

So that's destined for the landfill but in the meantime, I decided to use one of the old plastic shelves I kept from my mother for my outdoor plants. I mean, plastic won't rust, and the rain won't rot it like wood, and these are much more sturdy than the Aldi's shelves (although this year I bought a different set of shelves...;metal...from Aldi's for the same cheap $20, I think, that I really love, although they were a pain to assemble).

So I unloaded all the paint cans and other stuff on the shelves, which I'd been using in the basement (because the basement tends to be damp, so plastic works well there too), and lugged it to the back patio. It may not be the prettiest thing to look at, but it provides lots of shelf space and kind of acts like a "wall" delineating the outdoor seating space.

I have several pots of parsley on the top shelf, which I don't think chipmunks will climb. They kept periodically marauding the parsley (which I'm growing for black swallowtail butterflies) right on my front stoop. So the plastic shelves (about 5 feet high) will do a much better job of protecting my parsley.

I still have to watch it with the weight, and I decided some of my larger terra cotta pots can't go on it, but that's ok. I would love to buy another set of metal shelves like the other set I got this spring, but it's a seasonal item at Aldi's, I guess, and I haven't seen them there since.

The same shelves are being sold elsewhere for $60, and I don't want to pay that.

After watching a You Tube video, I decided I felt confident enough to pull off leaves and deadhead my Black Prince Echeveria. Once callused over, the leaves can be used to form new pups (plants) and I can replant the top of the plant I deadheaded. Truth be told, I'm not sure any of the leaves will root because they are all kind of yellowish looking; I wasn't watching it and it got a lot of rain recently. We'll see.

I also planted some wandering Jew cuttings I had sitting in water on the kitchen windowsill which I salvaged from a plant I nearly managed to kill. These plants are so easy to grow; I remember them from my teenage years. Not sure what I did wrong, but am trying again with the rooted cuttings.

So that's about how my day's gone; I haven't done anything much or gone anywhere, yet it was kind of enjoyable just the same.

June --a spendy month

June 28th, 2018 at 06:18 am

As expected, I am in the red for month of June spending, coming in at a whopping $11,740 spent due to the redo of my new patio. I budgeted $5,000 for home improvements, so technically, I exceeded this line item by $4200.

If I don't include the patio redo at all, then my spending came in at a reasonable $2540, just $24 over this month's income. (It helped a bit that I had 5 paydays this month instead of 4.)

Still, I spent a little too liberally in the categories of "household," (the new fountain for patio), clothing ($100), entertainment (my Ancestry renewal, at $100, and taking dad out for Father's Day, $83), and over $100 on various annuals, hanging baskets, grass seed and so on.

So year-to-date, I wiped out my modest savings of $4300 and am now at -$7385 YTD. I hope to return that to the black by year's end.

We got lots of much-needed rain this morning, with more to come, with strong thunderstorms, this afternoon. I was able to bring all my cacti and succulents inside this time, because invariably they get soaked, even sitting under the front entry overhang.

Today's agenda includes filling up the gas tank and a stop at BJs and Aldi's. I saw a cheap laundry cart on wheels that's narrow and meant to fill the space between washer and dryer. Just $8, and I was thinking this could be good for some of my cacti, which tend to be in small pots. It's small enough I could easily lift it to sheltered area when it rains. That's my thought, anyway.

This week's doings

June 27th, 2018 at 04:05 am

My bank is doing another fun promotion to try to get me to use my debit card. If I make 5 purchases with it in the month of July, I'll get a $10 Amazon gift card. Easy peasy.

I had another tick spraying yesterday. Organic cedar oil. You can smell it after they leave. So far, I don't really think it's been that effective, but in fairness, I have so many critters running around here (like chipmunks and deer) that probably keep reinfecting things that maybe it would have been worse without the spraying.

I stuck around to meet the guy to at least reinforce I want them to be as thorough as possible, and to ask him to avoid spraying anything flowering, even though he said their studies have shown bees aren't hurt by direct spray.

So I'm not sure it's worth it; it's $100 a visit, but anytime I see a tick I just call Tick Ranger and they do a respray at no charge and come within a few days time. So far I've had 2 resprays and 3 paid sprays. I'll reassess whether I want to continue this next year at the end of the summer/fall season, I guess.

I got some great ideas from a FB group I belong to about how to beautify the ugly well cover that I incorporated into my back patio design. (I wanted to connect the patio to the stairs leading to my drive, so I had them do this circular walkway around the well.

Anyway, the best idea I got was to cover it in mosaic tile, an idea I love, but I'm not sure I'm up to the task. I've always wanted to try mosaic tiling.

Something like this:

I'm usually too impatient for the finished product to enjoy the journey. But, a mosaic there would really be a highlight of the whole patio area, and it would be meaningful if I did it myself. Anyone here ever dabble in mosaic? It needs to be weatherproof, obviously, but I understand they sell frostproof grout.

I'm connected to town water supply now, but when I connected, I kept my outdoor faucets tied in to the well. A decision I never regretted since it ensures I can use all the water I want for car washes and garden irrigation for free. So it's only used on a seasonal basis and I've never had a reason to remove the very heavy concrete cover to get into the well, except to note how low the water had gotten in very dry years.

If I did have to remove the cover after installing a mosaic, I would just need to be very, very careful that whoever moved it did not chip an end while doing so.

I'm working a full 5-day week this week as my counterpart is on vacation. UGH. I miss my free time. Hopefully, the rest of the week will not be completely full days.

That's about it. I've been revising the whole should I eat seafood thing by checking the latest research. I'm mostly vegan, but probably a few months back began a habit of eating wild sockeye salmon once a week. There are a lot of sources saying I should eat fish twice a week, and I was considering upping the fish meals with only "clean" low mercury fish like either more salmon or pollack or herring, but then I go to other sites that say until we have cleaner wild or farmed fish environments, it's best not to rely on fish for omega 3s and take a micro-algae supplement instead. It's really hard to make a decision given all the conflicting evidence.

We all got to see the new Lab puppy at the office yesterday. He's very cute.

New face at work

June 20th, 2018 at 05:59 pm

It was a quiet day at work today. The co-owner husband and wife left for Mississippi, where they are adopting a blond lab puppy, just a few weeks after losing their beloved Golden Retriever. The first dog was named Dylan, after Bob Dylan, and this puppy shall be called Bowie. Smile They are bringing him back on the plane, and are nervous about doing that.

I will get to see him when I return to work on Monday. They always bring their dogs to the office so they're with about 8 or 9 of us animal lovers all day log. And the hired dog walker comes daily (or did for Dylan).

My manager, in the meantime, is on a business trip to Munich. I'm SO jealous.

Next week, the person who I job-share with wants the week off for vacation, so I will be working 5 days next week. Frown I didn't really think I could say no, but at least a few of the days will be not full days. But I'm sure it will feel like a VERY LONG WEEK. Ugh.

Today, I couldn't resist buying this teeny tiny cactus at Aldi's for just $1.99.

Someone in my cacti FB group told me it's a torch cactus.

I really do love cacti and succulents, though truth be told, my long-term success rate with them is only 50/50. Some do well under my care, and others slowly die. I enjoy researching care instructions, but even then, it's somewhat hit or miss. I hope this one will be a keeper.

My dad asked me to take him shoe shopping tomorrow, and after a trip to DSW (or maybe New Balance), I'll have him stay for lunch.

The valve stem on one of my tires has been leaking air and needs topping off every 2 weeks, so to replace the whole thing, Sunoco wants to charge me $60. Which I think is a lot of money for a valve stem! I don't think I have much choice though, and who has time to go shopping that around? Sigh.

I spent way too much time trying to lessen my online presence. Specifically, I googled my name and was shocked to see that many data mining sites list my complete address, phone, the names of my parents and much more. Having to hunt and search for an opt-out method (each site is different) is a real pain in the neck. One site requires proof of residence and that you email them a scanned image. I hope junk mail's sufficient because that's all I felt comfortable sending. I complained to BBB about one site because they provide NO phone number contact on their site, and my email to them came back undeliverable.

I got thru about a dozen sites and I'm sure there are more. Google your own name and see what you find! I've done this before, but apparently, I only scratched the surface.

Shingles vaccine, part 1

June 15th, 2018 at 03:49 pm

I've been reminding myself to get the shingles vaccine at age 60, but somewhere along the way, I've been hearing that insurance companies will cover it 100% for anyone over 50. So I figured, what the heck, why wait? Might as well do it now as I could get shingles at any time. I did have chicken pox at the age of 16.

There was a New York Times story about the vaccine where the author said you had to have a prescription for it, but I found that not to be true after calling Walgreen's and CVS. Walgreen's told me they were temporarily out of the vaccine due to a distribution problem, so I then went to CVS.

It was pretty easy: I just walked up to the prescription window and announced my intent. The woman had some trouble figuring out what to type in her computer, but eventually got it, and I got my shot.

The pharmacist warned me it would not be a great weekend for me, that a lot of other people were complaining about flu-like symptoms and headaches, achiness and tiredness, and a very sore arm, and some even chose to defer getting the shot until a better time.

I did have a mild headache but that's about it...so far. And yeah, the arm is a little sore. I'll have to go back for the 2nd shot within 2 to 6 months' time.

I'm glad I'm halfway done with this particular chore, because I've heard of several cases of very bad shingles, and the vaccine is supposed to be 97% effective. (That being said, I read that if you have MS, the vaccine is somewhat less effective.)

So a few weeks ago I saw first-of-the-season cherries in the supermarket, but they were a jaw-dropping $8.99 a pound. I passed. Today I saw cherries again the store, and the price had come down some, to $6.99 a pound. I passed, again. I love cherries so it's hard to do this, but I'll wait til they're truly "in season."

Today I had been thinking of going to Ikea, but truth be told I don't really "need" anything. I had it in mind to look at plant stands and cacti there.

I decided against it and instead did mostly a little of this, a little of that: some weeding and cutting back of spent bulb leaves, reading, quality time with Luther, wasting time on Facebook and not much else, but I enjoyed it.

I've missed this season's The Bachelorette due to spotty TV reception, but then remembered I can watch it online, so last night I enjoyed the premiere and tonight it'll be the 2nd episode. I am a sucker for reality TV...not all of it, but some.

Yesterday I did my grocery shopping at Aldi's and filled up the gas tank. I also stopped at Christmas Tree Shoppes, where I got a new doormat (for back patio entry into sunroom) and one of those metal garden hoses. (I hate the heavy rubber hose that always kinks, and those fabric ones I also loved, alas, they burst very easily.)

Ants: Problem and Solution

June 13th, 2018 at 05:47 am

Monday I worked late at the office and got home around 9 pm to find a swarm of about 20 or 25 carpenter ants on my kitchen counter. I had left a small amount of leftover sugar water in a cup on the counter after refreshing the hummingbird feeder.

I took a deep breath and squelched the impulse to kill them all, ASAP, and instead I set out some Terro liquid ant baits. I'd forgotten I had these and so they were well over a year old. They had leaked out of the unopened containers but I put them out anyway, on little index cards to catch any spill-over. The ants quickly took to them.

The next morning, there were still ants feeding on the Terro, but not as many as before. When I came home from work that night (yesterday), there were just 2 ants.

But even more amazing is this: About a week earlier, I was actually hearing crinkly sounds coming from either underneath my upstairs bath window or from under the roof shingles where the roof of garage/sunroom meets the bathroom wall. I had a feeling it was ants because I'd noticed dead insect parts dropping through the ceiling of the sunroom below that area several years earlier, but had sealed up a crack in that area with caulk and foolishly, perhaps, never really did anything else.

But with that crinkly noise, it seemed an ant nest was thriving inside the wall, and I reluctantly decided it was time to call an exterminator, who would probably want to drill holes through the wallpaper in my bathroom to dust them.

But after I put out the Terro ant baits in the KITCHEN, there was no crinkly sounds coming from upstairs bathroom wall!

Apparently, the ants were traveling from the side of the house by the bathroom to the back center of the house on the back wall to kitchen. In fact, when I had the swarm of ants going after the sugar water, there were enough ants coming and going that I could finally see where they were coming in: they drilled 2 tiny holes in a corner of trim by the ceiling above the kitchen door.

No wonder when I looked around at night with a flashlight I could find no ant trails leading to the house...they were already nesting elsewhere inside the house.

10 stars on Amazon for sure!

Weekend visit

June 11th, 2018 at 04:27 am

I had Dido come up for the weekend and we had a nice visit. We crammed a fair amount of stuff into just 2 days.

I made a nice lunch for us when she arrived, and after that we strolled around the 4th annual Catherine Violet Hubbard Butterfly Party & Adoption Event. They had many dozens of rescue groups there trying to place everything from cats and dogs to bunnies, ducks and llamas.

After that, we walked over to the municipal center where there was an opening reception for an art show by a local woman who owns a vineyard in town.

I did a brief driving tour of my town, pointing out various points of interest.

We met my dad at home for drinks on my new patio, except that it was still a little too warm outside, so we settled for the kitchen table. Smile

Then it was off to dinner at the trendy new restaurant at the end of my street, right on Main Street. The chefs are British/Italian.

After saying goodbye to dad, we squeezed in a walk around my neighborhood.

Next day, we did a longer walk on the walking trails and hung around more and chit chatted before Dido headed home.

Weekend fun

June 9th, 2018 at 06:46 am

"Dido" is now winging her way to my place for a visit. She should be here just in time for lunch. Smile

It will be a short overnight visit so I haven't planned too much. What's nice is that the 1st 3 activities all take place in the same location.

1. A walk on our paved walking trails.
2. The butterfly party and pet adoption event.
3. Art exhibit
4. Drinks on my new patio.
5. Dinner out with dad.

Here's the new patio, after I "decorated."

What you see is the well cap, which I'm pretty much stuck with, so I decided to have them do a circular walkway around it that leads to an old set of stairs going to the driveway.

The pagoda on top of it is only missing its top; I found it at the landfill and brought it home. I stuck a flower pot in the top instead and will maybe put some vinca vines in there so the vines cascade down and soften the concrete look. Can't plant too many flowers because the woodchuck will eat them. If anyone has any other ideas for softening/beautifying the look of the ugly concrete, let me know!

I really like the 2 rattan-look planters. They are actually some kind of vinyl, so they'll stand up to the weather, and were just $20 each at Aldi's. The flowers were actually more expensive.

I just bought this fountain for the patio and I really like it. A pump sends the water bubbling up to the top, where it then overflows and cascades to the lower level "cups" you see. I threw some colorful marbles in there just for fun.

Since it's a plug-in, I have it near the one outdoor outlet I have, which conveniently is close to the kitchen window, so I can hear the sound of trickling water if I listen carefully at the sink. Smile

Here's a little garden inside the paver walkway, filled with ground phlox, mostly. After selling all my other perennials back here, I decided to keep the phlox. It's not looking so spiffy at the moment as they pulled out and killed a lot of it but should be fine next spring.

Nearly there

June 6th, 2018 at 05:58 am

The Great Patio Rebuild is nearly done. I was super happy with everything, but when I got home last night and saw their latest progress (Day 4), I noticed that different parts of the patio were noticeably pitched in a way that I didn't want.

The large rectangular-shaped patio is slightly pitched, which I asked for to ensure rainwater doesn't drain toward the house/basement.

But then when they did the small square path around the bird statue, that also pitches toward the house, and it looks a little funny. Then the circular path around my well head (the path connects with my stairs going down to the driveway) pitches in another direction, toward the stairs. It all made me feel like I was on a ship and everything was slightly tilted one way. I don't want want visitors to feel unsteady on their feet.

So I talked to the mason last night and again when he arrived this morning, and we worked out a solution to the tilted square walkway. It will take them about an hour to fix that and hopefully it will be nearly level.

As for the circular path around the well head, that can really only be made level when I have the stone stairs redone (next year), due to the terrain, unless I wanted a small step inserted right at the circle, which I don't want.

It's all a little tricky, with certain drawbacks or benefits to doing things a certain way. Like, whether the mower can do a clean cut over level stones, or whether I'll have more trimming to do against stones that aren't flush with the grass.

Well, we'll see what Fiscal Fitness girl thinks when she gets here.

I am eager to have the masons finish up and tidy up the loose ends so I can "decorate" a little with some planters and patio furniture, along with a fountain that should be arriving today.

Work zone

June 1st, 2018 at 12:37 pm

The long-awaited patio rebuild is underway. What a mess!

They arrived just as I was getting ready to leave for my friend's house to continue helping him declutter his condo. Basically so his family doesn't have to worry about that. His PSA levels are sky-high (around 2200 when "normal" is 2 or 3). Things don't look good for him.

We cleaned out his small attic and I also went with him to WalMart where he wanted to buy a new mattress for a new twin frame he bought so he can sleep downstairs and not have to climb the stairs. I brought boxes of stuff to Good Will afterwards.

So it was just as well I had somewhere to go for a few hours at least because having major work done at my house kind of stresses me out.

They have made amazing progress in just 1 day. They are 4 or 5 over-50, topless Macedonian men with heavy accents working for the kid who now runs the show after having learned the masonry trade from his dad. They work like dogs; I hope they are paid well. If the price I'm paying is any indication, they are.

All the materials were delivered by heavy truck on my new driveway. Hope it stands up. There are pallets of pavers on my lawn. Sure hope it survives. And there's a large pile of old bricks also on the lawn which is making me cringe.

They have already excavated a neat, large rectangle about 6 inches down. They had to excavate becus the siding on the back of the house is only a few inches above ground, so if they didn't dig it out, the new pavers would be up against the siding, which I didn't think would be a good idea.

So they'll be dumping a large amount of dirt nearby on the north side of my house where I've been wanting to plant grass but which now has a lot of vinca and some poison ivy. I have a feeling both of those will easily survive several inches of soil being dumped on them so it may be pointless to sow grass seed when I know vinca will be popping up through it. I use a vinegar/salt/dish detergent spray to kill poison ivy (slowly) but vinca has a waxy coating that is impervious to sprays.

They unearthed a strange old pipe coming straight up out of the ground a good 10 feet from the house. No idea what it is; maybe part of the makeshift drainage system previous owners rigged up. I have come across an old house gutter they buried underground in an effort to divert water from the house.

So the finished patio will actually sit lower than the rest of the yard (kind of like an amphitheater?), and they'll use some Belgian blocks to edge it off. I hope it looks okay. A little hard to picture. They are also sloping the patio every so slightly so any rain runoff will flow away from the house.

I am hoping the whole thing will be finished in less than a week, in anticipation of Dido's visit next weekend. Right now it's quite the construction zone. Update: He said it will be done by Tuesday, or just 4 days!

Here's what it looked like "before."

This shows the overall size and dimensions of the patio. It's going to be huge!

One of 2 large piles of the old bricks on my lawn. He said they'll be gone tomorrow.

I told them they could dump the excavated soil here, where I don't have much grass growing and where there are a lot of potholes from various plants dug up

This shows how much they had to excavate. They will also be doing a little square walkway around the bird statue. I hadn't originally planned on making this part of the project, but I ran out of steam digging up all my plants back here and at the same time couldn't bear to see my phlox destroyed, so he agreed to do this part at cost...because I recommended him to at least 3 people who have ended up hiring him. Not to mention this is my 3rd big project with him (and not the last).

So anyway, the little square will be one step up from the main patio. I think it'll be fine.

My unfortunate lawn is suffering under the weight of several tons.

Staging area for I don't know what.

This is how my day goes

May 28th, 2018 at 08:48 am

I was mixing up a batch of non-toxic powdery mildew spray for 3 jade plants afflicted with the fungus. As I went downstairs to mix the spray, I accidentally kicked a glass tea mug down the stairs, which I had placed there to take down with me on my next trip.

It's a bad habit, but I do it all the time. Note to self: A small table would work better.

And so it tumbled down, shattering at about the 4th step.

I had to stop what I was doing to sweep up the broken shards before Luther came round to investigate. I carefully swept every stair, dumped it in the trash, and then decided to vacuum for good measure.

Upon plugging in the vacuum cleaner, I noticed Luther had barfed up a hairball right in front of the outlet.

So, on to cleaning up the hairball mess.

Then I returned to vacuuming the stairs, but upon close examination, I wondered if teeny shards of glass could have fallen through a few teeny tiny crack where the stairs meet the risers and fallen on my basement stairs directly below. I recalled that I can see daylight when I'm standing on the basement stairs and looking up.

So I decided to vacuum the basement stairs, too. Don't want glass shards embedded in little paw pads.

OK, now where was I?

This is how my days at home often go, bumping along from one half-done task to the next. So easy to get distracted at the PatientSaver residence....

Finally, I could return to my original task, mixing up the powdery mildew spray and spraying it. I hope it works.

Long weekend goings on

May 27th, 2018 at 06:29 am

I'm enjoying my long weekend, but it will be a tiny paycheck next week since I'll be losing 1 of the 2.5 days I normally work, due to Memorial Day.

I did my May expense report a few days early and see I'm in the red by $222 due to a variety of atypical expenses: $108 for another year of my TracPhone, $200 for a more powerful yard blower, $212 for doc visits related to the tick bite and a dental cleaning, $200 for the cleanup of storm tree damage and $146 to replace the engine cover under my car.

On the plus side, I did make $423 selling perennials and a few other items online.

This kind of shortfall of income vs. expenses will likely continue into early fall; I don't like it as it's not the way I've usually managed my personal finances, but work should pick up in late fall into winter and I hope to see increased income as a result.

Random news:

1. I earned a $10 credit at the healthy pet food place on my latest purchase.

2. My 70-year-old cousin, through eating better and exercising, lost 30 pounds and is no longer using a cane! That's like reversing a disability! I told my dad and hoped I inspired him. Talked to him twice in the past few days.

3. The cousin who is bent on learning more about my maternal grandmother's Slovak roots hired a Slovak who was able to confirm, with documentation, that my maternal great-grandmother was from Hunkovce, Slovakia (the former Czechoslovakia)! Pretty exciting. That town is located in northeastern Slovakia, near the Polish border, and was near a major WWII battle between the Russians and the Germans.

I spent some time this morning cruising the streets of Hunkovce using Google maps, but it's a tiny village with not much to see except rather ugly concrete homes and chain link fences. There is a beautiful church there, though. (Amazing what you can do via the Internet!)

4. I bought some veggie seedlings at Lowes and planted 2 cherry tomato plants, 1 cucumber, and 1 eggplant in big pots. Herb-wise, I have parsley (for the butterflies), basil, peppermint and bronze fennel (for the butterflies).

I also have a bunch of potted annuals like cosmos coming up; I collected all the seed last fall, so it didn't cost me anything.

5. So my free, 3-mth BJs membership expires June 30. I will let that run, and now I got a postcard in the mail offering a $25 annual membership, so that's more than half off. I will do it! And I don't think I'll ever want to pay full membership again.

So in the end, I'll get 15 months worth of membership for $25, or $1.66 a month.

Their gas, at $2.99, IS the cheapest around here.

6. I made a batch of granola (usually lasts about 2 weeks).

7. Did a load of laundry.

8. Got some free range eggs at the farm over the hill from me. I could have gotten them free from my back neighbors, but I don't want to take advantage....next time.

9. Saw my dad for lunch.

Today's agenda:

1. Woman coming over in an hour to buy a mini organizer from Pottery Barn.

2. Think I'll hit WalMart for a few things.

3. Vacuum.

4. Plant my iris and daisy seeds.

5. Spray my 3 jade plants for powdery mildew.

6. Use the trimmer around the yard.

Spring has arrived on the heels of the storm

May 20th, 2018 at 04:53 pm

Some pix of the yard, now in bloom!



View to the northeast...a forest in the making.

Hard to believe I planted this giant doublefile viburnum when it was just a wee stick seedling. Now I've planted some of its seedlings, too!

Closeup of the viburnum flowers.

North side

Ground phlox

And that's just the front yard!

Feeling the warmth

May 20th, 2018 at 03:53 pm

I'm "feeling the warmth" after 3 days of no heat. We had a scary storm here this past Tuesday, and when I got home from work, just after a macroburst had come through my town, I had no power. There were 2 tornados in my dad's town and an adjacent town, and the tree damage there was much worse; most of the town was without power.

My property and my immediate neighborhood was spared, but certainly not the town. Coming home that day was dicey, with a few detours around downed trees, or under trees that were held up only by the power lines.

I bought a few big bags of ice and continued eating food out of the fridge, but after that, I decided it was a losing battle. The only thing I threw out, actually, was a package of 2 salmon steaks, which had completely dethawed.

On Friday I helped my friend declutter by packing up about 6 boxes of mostly valueless knickknacks and glassware for Good Will and brought them to my car so I could drop them off on my way home. I also walked his dog for about a half hour. He has no energy with the chemo treatments. He was very appreciative. I will do the same thing this week if he wants me to.

I also found him an organization that networks with local housekeeping services and makes it possible for cancer patients to get free housekeeping. It was actually for women only, but when I called, she agreed to arrange it for him.

On the genealogy front, I found another new cousin! Actually, she found me as she was researching a specific family line. She's my grandmother's sister's great grand-daughter. She's in her 20s and very interested in textiles and researching the Slovakian line so she can make an authentic ethnic costume and wear it. She lives in NYC but grew up in the same little town my parents were from, a town known for its significant Slovak population.

She got me excited enough that I renewed my Ancestry membership for another 6 months. I'd been planning on doing it at some point soon, and although I was going to wait til Father's Day as they may have a promo going on, I just didn't want to wait. Smile

We exchanged a flurry of notes back and forth. I printed all of hers out and brought them to my usual dinner with dad. I read them all out loud while we were waiting for our dinner. Dad really enjoyed hearing the latest; when I first started getting into genealogy, he wasn't that interested, but as I began discovering all sorts of fascinating tidbits, he "got the bug" and looks forward to new finds as much as I do. I must say genealogy wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable if I didn't have a close family member to share it with.

I was going to do some yardwork today, but I found 2 small ticks on my boots and then felt way too squeamish putting them on, so I'll forgo the yardwork for now. We've gotten tons of rain, every day, since Tuesday, it seems, and they love this kind of damp environment. Will wait til things dry out a little.

To the Toshiba loser

May 19th, 2018 at 02:32 pm

Dear loser who keeps posting spam to my posts:

We are automatically notified when we get a reply on our blog, so it's very easy to go and delete yours!

Friday Doings

May 11th, 2018 at 05:44 pm

I'm posting more stuff for sale for my dad on Facebook Marketplace. I was over there today to take pix of a canoe, a kayak, a dozen old earthenware jugs, an old rocking chair, a steamer trunk and an old table.

He's gotten very strong interest in the kayak, some interest in the canoe and even some interest in the old jugs, which surprised me. (They're pretty beat up.) Evidently, Friday night is when everyone shops on Facebook Marketplace.

It's kind of a pain in the neck becus a lot of people ask if it's still available and when i say it is, would you like to see it, i never hear from them again. It's a lot of back and forth with people who may or may not be serious.

So far, I have two guys scheduled to come tomorrow afternoon, and one person coming for the smaller jugs. It's supposed to rain so I hope that doesn't cause some people to cancel out.

UPDATE: We sold the canoe, kayak and more than half the jugs.

Had a nice chat with my lawnmower guy, who surprised me by telling me this would probably be his last season mowing. He invented a deicer product so he wants to spend more time marketing it at trade shows. I have someone in mind to take his place next year, and I think this may be an opportunity for me to possibly reduce the cost from $45 per mowing to $40 per mowing. As it is, I only have it done every other week, to save money, and to give the many interesting wildflowers a chance to bloom.

My new 56 volt cordless battery blower was delivered today. I have a 20 volt blower now, but as much as I love using it to clear debris and leaves off my driveway, it lacks the power to use on grassy surfaces.

Hence the new 56 volt blower, which I plan to try out tomorrow. I was considering hiring the guy who cut up my fallen crabapple tree to do a spring cleanup, which is basically using blowers to blow leaves off the lawn and perennial beds. He never did tell me what he'd charge, but I'm pretty sure the blower I just bought will pay for itself in 1 or 2 seasons.

So I'm charging up the battery pack now. Compared to my 20 volt battery, this one is a monster! It looks capable of sending a small child into outer space.

I'm getting impatient waiting for a start date from my patio guy. He's running behind schedule. He promised a start day for me by tomorrow, and I'm hoping it will be sometime next week. I'm expecting an out-of-town visitor, hopefully this month, and I'd like the patio to be done before she gets here! And yes, she's an SA member. Smile

Here in Connecticut, plant sales abound this time of year. Usually, it's the local garden clubs that do this. There are 2 tomorrow I am thinking of checking out after my early morning yoga class. Then there is the Tractor Supply Market Day, where local craftspeople will be set up in the parking lot. Later that night, dinner with dad, and meeting a guy I sold a light stand to last year to give him a tiny lightbulb I found that I think goes with the light stand. It's an unusual bulb, and he said yes, he wanted it, so I'm meeting him in the parking lot of the restaurant I'll be going to with dad.

So..another busy day, for sure!!

The fuse it is!

May 10th, 2018 at 06:12 am

OK, I've had my share of embarrassing, not to mention needlessly costly, service calls when something stops working.

I scheduled a service call for today when I discovered first that my central air was not working, and then the heat.

Luckily, the HVAC guy who installed the central air suggested I check the fuse, and that's what it was. Saved me over $100 for a service call.

Always check fuses, circuit breakers and furnace on/off switches before making that call!

The guy who bought some plants for me was back again yesterday to dig up a few more shrubs and some blueberry plants. Kind of sorry to see them go, but they would never thrive here with browsing deer unless I fenced them in, which is not in the plans.

Just having him take 3 shrubs roughly 3-4 feet high running alongside the outer edge of existing patio really opened up the view from kitchen window or the patio, which always felt kind of closed in to me. Once the new patio is done, I want to just plant grass where those shrubs were to keep things open and to allow space for pergola posts to go in next year. Either that, or perhaps a row of small boxwood that wouldn't exceed 1 foot in height.

He also dug up a cherry tree stump that was still alive despite my trying to hack it down last year, so he took that, making it easier for my lawnmower guy to cut the grass.

Another guy was here to clean up the crabapple tree; he disposed of 90% of the all the tree branches as I wanted him to in a large brush pile, but inexplicably left a few large ones. I decided not to say anything since his price ($200) was dirt cheap compared to the other estimates I got, so I really can't complain.

Mower guy starts this Friday...so yardwork is well underway.

Also found my newly transplanted sedums, near road front, has been muched on. Deer don't usually do that, and I suspect it is the resident woodchuck, although I have yet to see him this year. Darn, I'll have to use some plastic fencing to protect them.

I need to do something about weed suppression at this new, and fairly large, planting site. Instead of buying a few yards of mulch, I will try Preen after using a hard rake to pull up the many garlic mustard weed seedlings.

The outbreak of hives I had Sunday night, turns out, is apparently due to the Doxycycline antibiotic I was taking for the tick bite. I have stopped taking all Doxy and both of the 2 herbs I'd been supplementing with. The hives subsided when I first stopped the herbs becus it was my assumption it was the herbs causing the hives. But when I took another dose of the Doxy, it only took a half hour for the hives to act up. So I've taken none of the 3 since Monday night and I notice the hives seem to subside but then reassert themselves, albeit much less severely, at night. That last dose of Doxy Mon night was good for 12 hours, and probably take at least another day or two beyond that to fully leave my system, so am hoping the hives go away soon.

I skipped 2 meetings last night that I wanted to go to, but I just didn't feel like cleaning up quickly after all my yardwork with the plant guy, and in fact it was so nice out I just felt like continuing with it, so I did. Truth be told, I'm not much of a "joiner," although I try.

On today's agenda: getting 2 nice hanging flower baskets for the front entry. I think I have a small gift card left I can use. Also returning some chewable aspirin to Walgreen's becus I see it has RED DYE in it, a known carcinogen. Also really want to vacuum and wash my car, and rake and Preen the new front perennial bed, fence the sedums and continue pulling out pachysandra roots from around where the plant guy took the shrubs so it doesn't grow back.

Also change the hummingbird water, get gas, go to BJs, and continue moving lungwort and phlox away from patio area.

In short, a busy day. I hope with all this yardwork I start feeling "in shape" soon.

Poison ivy AND hives

May 7th, 2018 at 06:20 am

I've been doing lots of yard work lately, and while the poison ivy wasn't even up, leaves-wise, even touching the roots will get you, and I think that's what happened.

So on Friday I found a big welt on my chinny-chin-chin, my finger, inside my wrist and my right side. I scrubbed everything well with Tec-Nu, and for the next few days, nothing spread from the 4 primary locations. It was mostly a pain in the butt as I tried not to rub it when sleeping.

UPDATE: Woke up last night around midnight to discover, to my horror, that I have red, itchy hives over most of my body. The only place I don't have welts is my lower legs and lower arms...my extremities, while my trunk, front and back, is most affected. It really seems systemic, not a spread of the rash.

I was up all night and couldn't sleep. Discovered I didn't have any aspirin or anti-inflammatories in the house, but I did make a paste of baking soda and water which helped quite a bit, but i couldn't apply that to my back, which was the worst of it.

So around 2 am I took a very, very hot shower (online research actually suggests this) and that also helped quite a bit, allowing me to at least lie in bed with much less itchiness. I popped some kind of pill that made me drowsy and probably got a few hours of sleep in.

I think the hives are hives, not worsening poison ivy as I first thought, and are an allergic reaction to 2 Chinese herbs I'm taking for the tick bite.

As you may remember, I'm taking antibiotics now but also decided to take 2 of the 3 herbs I've frequently taken in past years when I had a tick bite, because there were times the herbs seemed to alleviate my symptoms that were still ongoing when the antibiotics were done.

One of those 3 herbs, andrographis, caused me to get a much milder case of herbs once before, so I have not taken it since. Now, either the cats claw or astragalus is causing the hives, I'm pretty sure, even though I'm taking it at a much lower dose than I have before.

Even though my online research says both herbs are sometimes used to TREAT hives, it says hives could be an allergic reaction to anything.

My usual APRN isn't in today, but got an appointment with someone else, not til 10:30 am.

I emailed my boss telling him what the problem was and asking if I could come in late and work late. He wrote back expressing sympathy but saying it was going to be a slow day and I could take the day off. I wasn't planning on doing this as i work so few hours as it is, but I was also sort of relieved, wondering how bad the itchiness was going to be through the day.

So I'll see the doc today but otherwise stay home. It will also give me time to contact my plumber. I spoke with them briefly on Friday because my central air is not working. They had their answering machine on all day becus they were super busy and one gal in the front office had left the job, so they were shorthanded. I was supposed to get a callback to schedule an appointment.

I have since found out my heat is not working either, so whatever the problem is (I heard a loud noise when I turned the a/c on last week), it's likely something with the furnace, not the a/c specifically. I hope it's not a cracked heat exchanger.

I'm through with the plant sales but still have some plants I already dug up. So I joined 3 different local gardening swap and trade Facebook sites, but only one of them seems especially active, and I haven't really gotten any responses. I'd love to get a blue hosta with the jumbo sized leaves, for example.

Do you remember my friend with prostate cancer, who recently started chemo? He wound up on the hospital a few days ago because he got pneumonia, since the chemo knocks the heck out of your immune system. He'll likely be there a few more days as he is very weak.

He is totally distracted from his own problems, however, because he accidentally learned that his niece, the one who he's gifted so much $$ to over the past 5 years to in the form of a big house down payment and lots of home improvements, secretly took out a loan and refinanced her mortgage with an iffy mortgage outfit, adding $75K to her debt when she did so.

The Plant Stand

May 4th, 2018 at 12:36 pm

For the past few days, I've been browsing for plant stands on places like Houzz, Overstock and Amazon. I saw some metal ones priced at around $58, but they had to be assembled, and that is SO not my forte. I saw some others made out of renewable materials like bamboo and fir but they were higher priced at around $80.

This is not a stand for a single plant, but with 3 tiered shelves for multiple plants. I envisioned putting my growing collection of cacti and succulents on them.

Then today I did my grocery shopping at Aldi's, and what do I find? A metal plant stand for just $19.99! I grabbed it, and spent way too long putting it together this afternoon, but it's done!

It's just outside my front door. I'm hardening off all the plants for a few days until they acclimate to the stronger sunlight. This spot does get strong morning sun so I may have to move them in the morning, but I like them here because they are also protected from rain by the overhang. However, in a very strong thunderstorm, they would get wet.

Anyway, for $19.99, I'm very satisfied.

Dental visit and other things

May 4th, 2018 at 05:23 am

Visited the dentist yesterday. Paid $126 for a cleaning. The dentist's exam is, I think, an extra $90 or so, but he was busy with another patient and I didn't want to wait too long as I was expecting a callback from my neurologist sometime after 11 am.

So I decided to pay and leave, and the dentist then came over to tell me (again) that I really need to get on his dental plan ($264 a year, for those who don't have dental insurance). It's a good plan, covering 100% of 2 cleanings a year with his exam, plus x-rays (if you want them) and 25% off fillings and crowns.

He told me this last time I was there and I guess I didn't really focus in on it since it was 6 months ago. He can be a little pushy, just like the way he is with x-rays, which I resist getting annually.

I've made $318 in plant sales now (!!), and I think I'm just about done. I had one customer and a few no-shows yesterday. I have just a few remaining plants which I guess I'll hold for a few more days to see if anyone wants them, but otherwise, I plan to shut down the sales very soon.

The one customer I mentioned earlier is supposed to come today to dig up one rhodie and one mountain laurel (free for the digging). I decided to offer him 5 mature blueberry bushes for just $25, but he'll have to dig them out too. I hadn't considered selling them before because I didn't think anyone would want to dig them out, but he does.

They've been there about 20 years and some get lots of berries, but the picket fence that somewhat protected them is falling apart and i don't plan to replace it. So the deer browse the bushes mercilessly, and my lawnmower guy just sort of sideswipes that area due to the bushes being there, and bittersweet and poison ivy grow there too.

I feel bad losing the blueberry bushes but just want to tidy up yet another "maintenance issue" near the house, and knowing the bushes are being taken by a groundskeeper at an aroboretum makes me feel like they're going to a good home.

I'm really worried about my friend R. He called 911 2 nights ago and is still in the hospital,, with pneumonia, a side effect from taking chemo which lowers your immune system. He said it was really hard to call 911.

A nurse came in with breakfast so we didn't get to finish our phone conversation, but that will happen later today.

He told me the reaction he had from the chemo (shortness of breath) was so bad, he wanted his life to end right then. His doc had told him he could divide up the once-every-three-weeks chemo dose into 2 smaller doses, to hopefully lessen the reaction, but my friend R. says he reached a tipping point last night and just doesn't want to do it, says he needs to face the fact the cancer's terminal, help his niece with her credit card debt and make the best use of his remaining time.

Say what? Help his niece with her credit card debt?? He's already paid for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of home improvements, not to mention the down payment on the house itself, which she could never have afforded on a school teacher's salary.

But he says being a single mother (recently divorced) she feels guilty for shortshrifting her 2 kids, so she's leasing an expensive SUV and is flying down to South Carolina again so the kids can visit their grandparents (her ex's parents).

It kills me that he is so obsessed with helping her out. She's nice, but her 2 young girls are really spoiled. I remember bring over Easter baskets when I had dinner with them last year, and they spent about 10 minutes on them before losing interest and moving on to something else. I guess that's what kids do, but her kids really seem like they need to have limits set. JMHO.

So my friend said he's ready to take me up on my offer to help him dispose of more of his personal stuff so his heirs don't have to deal with it. His condo is kind of a mess.

Garden stuff

May 1st, 2018 at 05:30 pm

Well, the plant sales from this weekend continued into the work week with people coming over Monday night after work right before dark and Tuesday morning before work. People are still asking for more plants. You'd think this was the only game in town.

To date, I've sold $280 worth to 15 people, plus a 48-star flag I was also selling. I expect to wrap it all up by Friday (surpassing $300) because scheduling visits and digging up plants is taking up all my free time; plus, I'm nearly out of inventory. Wow.

Overall, I'm very pleased and sales greatly exceeded expectations, especially since at first I wasn't even sure I was going to bother. It will all go toward defraying the cost of the patio.

But wait! It's not over. There's a guy coming tomorrow to dig out BY HAND 2 large-sized shrubs about 4 feet high and 3 feet wide: a mountain laurel and a rhododendron. It will be back-breaking work but he seemed up for it, since I offered them free. He works at an area arboretum and knows his plants. If he takes them, it's one less thing the mason's crew has to deal with to just clear the area before laying the pavers.

In addition, 2 more plant buyers are coming tomorrow afternoon and that night i have another free dinner at an Italian restaurant.

I loaded some bricks into my car tonight so I can drop them at the transfer station when I bring the trash tomorrow before work. The mason said his crew would do it, but it's such a mess back there and it's easy enough for me to do since I'm going there anyway. I've pulled a lot of bricks up as I dug out plants because many of them found a way to grow up between the bricks. I don't know what the carrying weight is of my car, though, and they are pretty heavy.

I can drop another load of bricks off Thursday morning since I'll be passing right by the dump again on the way to the dentist.

After using my new 3-month BJs membership pass just once, I've managed to lose it. I've looked everywhere. Can't figure out where it went and I was there just last week. I guess I can get another card at the courtesy desk.

The bank just sent me a new ATM/Visa card after I told them I lost that!

Plant sales bonanza

April 30th, 2018 at 03:59 am

Yesterday I hit the $200 mark for selling perennials from the yard, 3 days' time. Every time I had a customer leave with plants, I went out to dig more up, putting them in my own temporary containers and storing them in a shaded area of my driveway.

Here's what I'm selling:

Lady's mantle

Leaf detail...note the interesting scalloped foliage which collects rainwater so prettily.

Lungwort, now in bloom.

Goat's beard, sometimes confused with astilbe

Blue sedum groundcover

And people are STILL coming this week. I have one woman traveling 40 minutes to meet me tonight and she said she'd take "everything you've got." Which means probably most of the rest of my lady's mantle and 1 large sedum, plus a 48-star flag I posted ages ago.

So hopefully she'll make it. Her purchases tonight will push me close to $300 in sales! Nice. But now these sales have given me incentive to find other little plants to divide or dig up to sell. This is just too easy.

I've been paying $70 a month for landline phone and Internet with Frontier for over a year, but recently noticed an online deal with AllConnect and Frontier for $40 or $50 a month, depending on what Internet speed you want.

So I'm going to call later this week to see if I can take advantage of it, as that would be a big savings. I'll call Frontier first to see what Internet speed I have now; curiously, this is one detail they don't bother to list on my bill, which I find annoying and strange.

So last week I checked the Health Dept website daily to see if my tick tested positive for Lyme, and while they got up to tick #30 by Friday, I should know about mine (Tick #31) today.

However, I've been having ongoing dull headaches since probably Friday night (the only symptom I've ever had in the past when I had Lyme), and I rarely get headaches. I decided not to wait anymore and ran out to Walgreens to fill the prescription last night and started the antibiotics, reluctantly.

After off and on rain all weekend and a chilly day today, we're looking at temps in the 70s and 80s all week!

Selling plants at a brisk pace

April 28th, 2018 at 05:42 am

Several times in early spring I've sold plants growing in my yard and had good luck doing so. So I decided to post some for sale since I'm clearing out the patio area for the rebuild, which may take place as early as next week.

Yesterday I offered lady's mantle, coral bells, goats beard and a blue sedum groundcover, and posted pix from earlier years. I priced them cheaply at $5 a plant.

Oh my gosh, what a whirlwind of interest. Over 20 people have inquired about it. Three people stopped by yesterday and one this morning. I have 4 more people scheduled to come Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

I have to laugh. One of the people who came to buy was a young person tethered to her phone. She pulled up in my driveway and I was standing outside my front door for several minutes, patiently waiting for her to emerge; she was busy texting me to tell me she had arrived. Smile

Then, when I was standing with her and showing her the plants, instead of actually looking at them, she had her phone out and was looking at the photo I had added to my for sale post....strange!

Apparently everyone else in Connecticut is itching to plant as I am. But I know from prior experience that if I try selling the same plants a month or so later, I'll get a much less robust response. There's a narrow window of opportunity to really grab gardeners early in the season.

So far I've made $150 from just 2 days of selling plants!

Sky-high tree prices

April 26th, 2018 at 04:28 pm

Here's a trivia question for you: what do tree work and medical procedures have in common?

Prices for both can vary wildly. The same medical procedure at different hospitals can be thousands of dollars apart.

I've found the same applies to yardwork, brush cleanup and tree work, too.

Here are the quotes I got for cutting up a crabapple tree brought down by a storm, along with some white pine branches, and just throwing all debris into an overgrown area.

I figured it would be about 2 hours of work and that about $200 should be plenty.

Estimate 1: $480
Estimate 2: $700
Estimate 3: $1,488

I was blown away by Estimate #3 and was so miffed by the outlandish prices that I decided to just keep calling people until I found a price I could live with, and that if I had to use my little hand saw all summer to dispose of the tree myself, I would.

The final estimate #4, the guy who stopped by tonight? $200.

He'll be doing it next week.

You know there's something wrong when prices for the same thing vary so widely from one contractor to another. I think it's because some of these contractors have invested in lots of heavy equipment, cherry pickers, etc. (even though my job wouldn't require that), while others are basically just a guy with a chainsaw with next to no overhead.

I did get back to Estimate #3 guy and told him I thought his price was cray-cray. He immediately came down $200, and when I said that was still out of the ballpark, he came down another $538, claiming he misunderstood the scope of the project.

I was able to use the coupon for 3 months free membership at BJs. I wasn't sure if they would take it or try to tell me it's for new members only. I let my membership lapse in February and wasn't sure the membership was worth $55.

So I bought just 4 things: walnuts at $5 a lb, frozen organic strawberries, guacomole and sockeye salmon.

On the patio project, I dug up 2 goat's beard and most of the rest of the phlox, and I posted some of the perennials for sale on facebook. Got 3 interested replies so far; hoping some translate into visits as I just don't have the space for these plants but hate to see them go to waste.

MRI test results: the good and the bad

April 25th, 2018 at 06:13 am

With the advent of electronic record-keeping in the medical world (welcome to the 21st century), I was able to access my MRI test results online about 48 hours after my MRI.

So I didn't need to wait for my doctor to tell me, and in fact, I'm not sure there's a need for me to see him again in June since I was able to stay on my current medication and I know the MRI results. So why spend the $50 copay?

But back to the results. They did both brain and cervical spine. While there are still multiple brain lesions (indicative of MS), there are NO NEW, ENLARGING, OR ACTIVE demyelinating plaques that have occurred in the 13 years since my last MRI.

That means NO disease progression. Which makes sense, since if you don't count my stiff toes (the new neurologist is not so sure it's MS-related), I've been largely asymptomatic for a long time.

This is excellent news. I must be doing something right. As you may know, I do focus a lot of energy on getting regular exercise and eating vegan. This won't change.

An even more intriguing test result, and perhaps one reason I'd be tempted to see my neurologist in June so I could talk to him about it, is mention in the report of resolution of a previously noted lesion identified in 2005. "Resolution" means the lesion/plaque identified in 2005 is no longer there (or at least is too small to show up on the MRI). Lesions shrinking or disappearing means that the inflammation responsible for the lesion is resolving and the blood-brain barrier resealing.

So that all is great news, and the reason I got the MRI done.

The not-so-good news is that the cervical spine MRI showed degenerative changes/stenosis in several areas since my last MRI in 2005. This is also known as osteoarthritis, aka, aging. So it's not my imagination that for the past few years, I've felt very stiff and creaky when I get up out of bed in the morning.

Really the only thing I could do to slow the process, in addition to what I'm already doing with diet/exercise, is to LOSE WEIGHT.

While not overweight in the past, with each passing decade, I have gained a little weight. This trend became more pronounced after menopause. To get back to what I weighed in my 30s and 40s, I would need to lose 20 pounds.

You would think this wouldn't be that hard, especially being 95% vegan, but I have not lost any weight. Hence my newfound interest in intermittent fasting, which someone else just posted about here. I'm going to try it tomorrow.

Spring cleaning

April 22nd, 2018 at 04:48 am

I made it to 8:30 am yoga today. Glad I went; I walk tons, but am not that flexible. They were giving out free packets of flower seed because of Earth Day.

Tick Ranger came shortly after I got back to spray the yard with organic cedar oil. I told him to be as thorough as possible and showed him the boundaries of the yard. I'm so happy he came and I really hope the 4+ sprayings this year will make a difference.

I want to put the hummingbird feeder out this weekend.

I continued digging up perennials in the back patio area so I can save them before the masons come to rebuild the patio. There's a lot to do, but I got all the Autumn Joy sedums.

I was running out of room in my existing perennial beds in the front yard, so I decided to divide and plant them in the very large clearing near the road where the 3 white pines were taken down.

Thing is, I realized, I'm just creating yet another area that will need constant weeding and/or mulching to control weeds. There are a lot of roots of something in there; the whole understory of those pines was brushy overgrowth: bramble and wineberry, poison ivy, Virginia creeper and bittersweet.

I feel like I have a unique but very limited window of time to take back that area and tame it as the guys who took down the trees did a good job with cleanup, removing a lot of the brush. I can see that a lot of roots remain, though, and probably some plants were just flattened down by the equipment they used in there, so I'm going to have to keep pulling roots and seeing what comes up. So far in that area I've planted 2 small viburnums, 5 peonies, and 5 sedums.

I spent my $25 Whole Foods gift card in a flash on some very expensive honey, organic lemon juice, apples, vegan butter and soy yogurt. I was curious to see how prices seemed since it's been said Amazon has lowered them, but I really couldn't tell. Whole Foods will remain for me a rare treat when I earn the occasional credit card gift card, but maybe not even then.

I still have no symptoms from the tick I pulled off last Tuesday (headaches, fever, achy joints) though I am super sore from yesterday's yoga.

We're rounding out the weekend with another beautiful repeat of yesterday but 5 degrees warmer, so I will be continuing The Great Perennial Dig-Out and taking a walk on the rail trail.

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