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Spring Has (Hopefully!) Sprung

Catharsis: noun, plural catharses [kuh-thahr-seez] The purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.

It has been an “indoors” sort of winter for me. Bad weather just didn’t encourage me to go outside, and I spent most of my time in my chair – hence my spreading backside! 😉 When we did get a couple of good days, well, as you know if you heard about it, a blizzard came along and put the kibosh to that . . . and it looks like it killed my fruit trees a well. Sigh. So, when the weather changed again, I fell on it like a ravening wolf, ready to drink in great drafts of the outdoors – and gardening!

20160422_134621_resized_1 20160422_134611_resized_1The beds were left with all the dead plants rooted in over the winter. I wanted them to rot as much as possible in the ground, and pulling them up now instead of in the fall means I loosened up the soil when I pulled them. As you see from the photo, I have garlic, strawberry and mints coming up, hooray! They made it through the winter! I have already ‘top dressed’ this bed (spread several inches of composted manure over top) and I have one of the other beds done as well as about a third of the third usable bed. I will hopefully finish that one up later this afternoon. I got really worn out yesterday carrying the heavy mulch so I started filling the roughed out beds with mulch.

I have my seeds I saved from last year, and have added to those. My grow light setup came in, but now I have to figure out where I am going to put it. It is past time to get tomato, pepper, etc. seeds started before it is too late. As the setup is only 4’[Lifetime Warranty] LED Grow Light, InaRock 24W Plant LED Grow Light E27 Plant Bulbs for Garden Greenhouse and Hydroponic Full Spectrum Grow LED Lamps long I am sure I will find a spot, but I have to do it today! I also have two other grow lights that I was given to test by the company I will be setting up today. Click on the photos to check out the listings.

20160422_135033_resized_1As you can see, my manure heap is a lot smaller than it was. I want to get more, but you see, I have this little issue – as in a HUGE pile of chopped up trees in my driveway! LOL (And yes, is my finger in the photo – I took it after a looong day of working in the beds, and I was way tired and sweaty. Hey, want to clean out your pores? Garden! Digging in the soul is not only cathartic for your soul, it is works for your skin as well!) You can see how large the pile is 20160422_134810_resized_1compared to my neighbor’s big ol’ pickup. Cool, huh? Free mulch!! A local tree company was cutting trees in my neighborhood after the blizzard and they were more than happy to dump them in the driveway. No having to haul them away and dispose of the mulch themselves. So, I got two full truckloads.

20160422_134727_resized_1 20160422_134736_resized_1These two beds are going to be filled with the mulch up to the top and left to overwinter. Yes, those are ripped up phone books – the phone company will insist on throwing them in the driveway, though they have been asked not to. Ah well, more paper to rot! 😉 That big branch in the one photo has stumped me. My chainsaw will insist on throwing its chain and trying to take my arm off, and I finally gave it up for a bad cause and that limb will have to go to the pile of brush I have in the back corner of the back yard. Small animals like to nest in there – squirrels and certain birds especially. It is fun having a special habitat back there that is completely wild.

The rest of the mulch, after the boxes are filled, I will spread on the yard to rot. The soil here is horrible – just sand and more sand, which means weeds and more weeds.  I am hoping if I can dump enough mulch that over time it will allow grass to grow. But then, as I am careful of water usage, I would be just as comfortable just having the bark mulch stay in place without grass growing. Hum… we shall see. Of course, I am slowing eating away at the yard anyway. 20160422_134933_resized_1Oh, look! All that lumber is still sitting there, waiting for me to build my cold frame! (Didn’t I say I was going to do that last fall?) But I did find a solid glass door to use for a top (free, of course!) so I am putting together a list of the lumber sizes and figuring out what to use for the standing braces to bury in the ground and screw the sides to. But that is for later in the year.

Off to dig again, and I hope you all find a wonderful way to spend your Sunday as well!

Plant List for this year:

Hungarian Yellow Wax Pepper (medium hot orange-red 4,500-5,000 Scoville heat units)
Pasilla Bajio Pepper (chili negro for dried pods and powders)
Mixed Sweet Cherry Pepper (no named – for pickling)
Sweet Coral Belle Pepper (intense orange/compact and reliable
Pineapple Tomato
Mickylee Watermelon (not heirloom but it is small/8″-10″ so doesn’t hog space)
Cube of Butter Summer Squash (tiny baby squash)
Baby Round Zucchini (French import heirloom)
Cascadia Snap Pea (I haven’t grown peas before)
Sugar Pie Pumpkin (The dogs love dried pumpkin chips, and I love pumpkin bread)
Homemade Pickles Cucumber (I remember these from when I was a kid)
Monstrueux de Viroflay Spinach; Ruby Red Swiss Chard; Nero Toscana Kale (I have to tent these so the rabbits don’t get it all!)
Two types of beets, red and golden, no name heirlooms

Saved from last year:
The Papaya Dew melons didn’t work out for me last year, they never ripened, so I won’t sew the saved seeds. I will send them to anyone who wants them!
Pineapple Tomatillo was Delicious!!! I put them in with all the other tomatoes before the first frost, simmered them down with lime juice and salt, and the outcome was amazing.
Persian Baby Cucumber (didn’t get to plant these last year, ran out of room, but I plan to plant them this year in the flower bed in the back yard so they can spread. They are hybrid, so I don’t want them mixing with my heirlooms. My other hybrids will go in the back as well.)
Red Siberian Tomato (Russian heirloom) grew well and were sweet and tasty
Ancho/Poblano Chilie Pepper (Always a favorite)
Black Beauty Squash (Heirloom. They didn’t fruit last year, I think I will set them aside this year)
Black Krim Tomato (Grew wonderfully and tasted that way too. Very juicy, great for canning but too ‘wet’ for sandwiches)
Speckled Roman Tomato (Roma style striped tomato, very flavorful but only grew so-so)
NuMex Joe E. Parker (These, along with several other plants, never came up because I tried to start them outdoors and we had a brutal spring cold snap. Will try these again.)

I only have so much room, so one plant of each is all I can fit in. If I have enough compost I will try some of the hybrids I have in the mix in the back yard. We shall see!

 

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Review: The Embroidered Garden by Kazuko Aoki

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.” –William Blake

There is often great delicacy in beauty. Tiny stokes of paint, gossamer fabrics floating on the breeze. Tiny stitches on fine cloth.

“The Embroidered Garden” exhibits this sort of delicacy. Tiny, fine stitches, depicting flowers, butterflies and bees, fragile blooms which seem to float upon cloth, as if blowing in the breeze.

Embroidery is, literally, an ancient art form. From the ecclesiastical to the trim on luxurious smalls, embroidery has waxed and waned throughout history. Once a requirement for every young ladies training,  these days it is rarely seen outside quality couture shops and Victoria’s Secret.

It is nice to see such gorgeous handwork paid attention to once more. Aoki has brought back the beauty and elegance of a craft it would be ashamed to lose to the technical world we live in. I once did embroidery – the tiny stitches calming, repetition and the growth of beautiful handwork soothing to the soul.

Anyone with an interest in beauty and gorgeous hand work should find great pleasure in this book.

I received The Embroidered Garden from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Description

Whimsical, beautiful embroidery motifs created by an avid gardener—stitch roses, bees, or whole garden scenes. Kazuko Aoki has a unique talent for translating the beauty of the garden with needle and thread. By offering forty motifs, Aoki invites us to explore her gardens through embroidery. The forty motifs explore the roses and wildflowers that appear season to season, as well as the bees and butterflies that enjoy their nectar. The designs here are exquisite, detailed, and artfully rendered. Beyond the motifs themselves, Aoki also presents projects that feature the embroidery: brooches, notebook covers, pin cushions, and pouches. For those new to embroidery, detailed how-to illustrations are included.

 

Gardening Time!

IMGP1890It was beautiful and warm out yesterday, my back is feeling MUCH better, and I have had insane cabin fever, so I went out to the lumber pile and started dragging things around. Last summer I only gardened in pots, but  IMGP1891I got all sorts of excited and came up with two boxes for veggies, herbs and flowers! I will, of course, have to put netting around as I have a whole colony of bunnies that live under the garden shed . . .

IMGP1894I am lining the bottom of the boxes with cardboard (being a reviewer for several different companies, I get lots of boxes from Amazon!) and then with the ground cloth you see in the photos. It will keep the weeds down (and I have plenty of those!) and the cardboard will eventually rot.

I have already opened up one of the compost piles IMGP1895and pulled the newest off the top and moved that to the new pile I started. The enclosure is just concrete wire – if you have new construction around you can probably bum cut pieces off the contractors to make your own. I am moving the cages over closer to the garden shed so that I have more room around the garden boxes. When I can afford it I am hoping to put a perimeter around both boxes and put in a layer of stone. I think it would look nice, and it would give me a surface to stand on when the ground is wet when I want to gather or I need to do something in the garden. Exciting!

The boxes are scrap lumber, mostly offcuts from the fence install and scrap posts. The box on the right is made of offcuts and topped with pieces of old fence board. I am going to use pieces of offcut fence board to brace everything together on both boxes so it they are more sturdy. You can see the pieces leaning against the ‘walls’ in the top photo. I may paint the box on the right, according to if the paint in the garage froze and is ruined or not…. Best of all?

Free!

IMGP1888Under the tree where you see all those beautiful rocks? There used to be a loose circle around the tree made of the stones, filled with bark – but of course bark composts down and weeds spring up, and it wound up being a huge mess…. so, I moved the rocks out in the fall and pulled out the weeds. Now I plan on putting in a Bee Mixture (my neighbor, Ruth, raises bees!) of wildflowers. Well, once I get the strength back to move those darn heavy rocks again! Ruth is coming over in a bit. I have the following heirloom seeds that we are going to plant in starter trays:

Heirloom Seeds 2015
Tomato Principle Borghese (special for oven roasting, sun drying)
Tomato Cherokee Purple
Chile Padilla Bajio  (Chile negro) (for drying and smoky flavor)
Pepper Chile Anaheim NuMex Joe E. Parker (mildly hot Anaheim for roasting)
Tomatillo Pineapple (fruit salsa and jam)
Cucumber Homemade Pickles
Pepper Poblano/Ancho (mildly hot)
Melon Papaya Dew
Sweet Pepper Yolo Wonder Sweet
Pepper Chile Jalapeño Jalafuego – (stuffing for rellanos etc)
Tomato Black Krim – (hint of smoke)
Watermelon Moon & Stars
Tomato Cherry Rainbow Blend (7 varieties in pack)
Tomato Pineapple (fresh eater)
Tomato Speckled Roman (Paste Tomato)
Tomato Green Zebra

Will direct seed lettuce, herbs, etc. once the boxes are finished! Can you tell I love peppers and tomatoes?

DIY Potting Bench built with cedar fence boards for $45, FlowerPatchFarmhouse.comIf you haven’t found Pamela’s site, Flower Patch Farmhouse, and you are at all interested in gardening or painting you should check out her site. These 5 DIY Garden Projects are fun and easy. I want to make the potting  bench! Of course, if I accomplish that or not, well . . . 😉 Of course, if I were really motivated, I would build THIS!!

DIY Studio Garden Cottage to build, link to plans to build yourself a fabulous place to create, FlowerPatchFarmhouse.com

Anyone Have A Goat I Can Borrow?

I love to garden. No, really, I do! You could just never tell from what the yard l right now….. Sigh. This house sits on a sand pile. Literally. It has been here since the 70s and you would think that being this far up that I would have a rock problem, not a sand problem, but that is the way it goes I suppose. This is the rose bed that I spent two whole weeks last year cleaning out to ground level, fertilizing, putting down ground cloth, then bags and bags (and bags) of red bark mulch. This is now. . . Yes, all that green is dandelion and other weird crap!

IMGP1824
But last year it was so Pretty!!! All that green stuff? Weeds. Yep. Weeds.

So, I started pulling up the corner bed where I had planted a Butterfly Bush – which died, of course. Here is where I am in pulled up the weed cloth that was no use at all, as it just let the grass grow through. Why, again, does the real grass grow in the beds and NOT in the yard? Sigh. The the black ground cover cloth that I put down over the heavy duty white ground cover cloth  is simply rotted away.   I am pulling out all the bark and weeds and dumping them into the compost pile, while the rotten black ground cover is going in the trash I guess. The white stuff isn’t coming apart, so it can be used again, but I wonder why I bother… I think I am going to need a backhoe to get the grass out! From now on, no bark!

IMGP1827
NO Butterfly Bush – but LOTS of grass… And the ground cover? Pfft.

I have small stones between the pavers in the path… Of course, that is a mess too! The wind blows the bark around, and the weed seeds and small sticks and all of a sudden, my lovely stone path with the rocks between is toast. Yes, there are indeed small river stones between the big flat ones – you just can’t see them!

IMGP1832

 

 

I really never did much with this bed – it was just bark and stones in a circle around the tree. Now you see where where I am pulling it up – that pile  on the cloth is a good six inches deep. I will have to dig that all off with a shovel before I can pull up the cloth all the way and do a new layout. It seems all the bark and dirt that blows around just uses it as a bed to build up a new home for the weeds! Sigh…

IMGP1829
Look, real grass! Only it is around the tree and pretty much nowhere else but on top of the ground cover. . . Sigh

Worse, here is what the yard looks like. You notice that in the corner flower bed there is real grass? Well, all I get for the yard is dandelions….

IMGP1828
Dandelion salad anyone?

 

IMGP1831
Happy little wild violet faces!

Then, all is not totally lost! I have these beautiful little violets that are hidden amongst the dandelions.

IMGP1830
Pretties!

So, I want to dig up the violets and salvage them, but I am at a loss as to how to kill off the dandelions. I did read a good article about weed killer that uses white vinegar, salt and dishwashing liquid, but it is a total vegetation killer that kills everything it touches (well, that is good) but it also makes it impossible to plant new grass for a long time (bad). It changes the soil also, which in my case I don’t think it will matter, as it is just sand anyway!

IMGP1830
Click for the Homemade Weed Killer site.
IMGP1826
Smelly stuff! Why couldn’t the GOOD smelling herbs have gone wild???

I did find a site that looks really interesting, Click the little dandelion head to go there.

Then, there is this thing. It is popping up all over and I think (there ya go, thinking again) that it might be lemon balm? I know I planted some in with the herbs, but it smells more like chemicals than lemon. I am going to be going over to Echters Gardens (check out their website by clicking the name) on the weekend if I can get away. I will take some of it with me and see if they can identify it!

Lemon-Balm
A picture from holistichealthgurus.com of Lemon Balm. I think this must be what is growing in the yard. . .? Click to go to their site!

I did find a picture online that looks a lot like it (thanks holistichealthgurus.com for the picture).  But the leaves of mine are darker, as you can see. Maybe it is the lighting?

Ah, well. I will go out when later in the afternoon and dig around some more. Looks like this is going to be a L.O.N.G. process! And with money so tight, it is “Do It Yourself Or Don’t Do It At All! I did pick up three bags of Miracle Grow Flower and Vegetable (the one in the yellow bag) today. Two cubic feet a bag for just over eight dollars each. I have decided to concentrate one one small piece at a time (the corner bed for now) and go from there . . .

IMGP1837
Bright shiny faces!

But all is not completely lost…. A “Find” that gives me a tiny bit of hope! This is growing out of the brush pile…. must have been there before and I never noticed it. Now I have to figure out when and how to transplant them to a safer place! Guess that calls for help from Echters too!

 

Home Improvement (Ooo ooo ooo – or however Tim Taylor said it)

Click click click click click . . . arrrgh! I have listened to that from my ceiling fan for at least the last year. Click click click click. Survey shows, I definitely need a new ceiling fan! Don’t get me wrong, that one has served well for at least ten years. In Colorado summers, you need the air movement, even living in a brick house that holds the nights cool air if you seal it up every morning. But I digress.

Click click click click . . . So, I have been saving my nickles and dimes for quite some time, because there is a specific fan I want.

Pretty, huh?
Pretty, huh?

It is a Hunter 26407, a 52-inch Architect Series, bronze with cherry-wood blades (digression – HAHAHAH – more like fiber wood with “real faux cherry-wood design on one side, real faux walnut-wood on the other! Oh, well, what did I expect? The company may be in Memphis, but five will get you ten it was made it Korea or someplace similar.)

So anyway, (click click click click) I finally save up enough nickles and dimes and my fan arrives. Oh, goodie goodie goodie! Whee!!!

Now, you have to remember, I have a lot of home renovation under my belt. (Oh, Pandora is Playing Up Around The Bend – good, it is 4 AM and I just got up, my tea is made, and life begins . . . And Led Zeppelin Radio helps get me moving at this hour.) So. Where was I? Oh, yes, home renovation. bungalowI started out with a 1901 California Bungalow when I lived in California. This picture is the same structure, nearly exactly, but my photos were all lost in a flood when I lived in Seal Beach, so I don’t have any photos of the one I did, but other than the paint colours, this one is the same.) Stripping off layers and layers of paint from real old-growth redwood and cypress trim, stripping and sanding down wide plank flooring and sealing it with spar to bring up the grain and pure color. Believe me, you haven’t lived until you are sanding floors that are in a house homeless drug users have used as a flop. And let me tell you, having to borrow a girlfriend’s fire department standard hazmat suit and chain metal gloves, and using a carpet knife and long pliers to rip and strip the carpet and drag it out to the dumpster was NO FUN. . . those suits are HOT… and there must have been two dozen needles and three pounds of busted up fixings in the old shag that probably went in in the 1960’s. That stuff was nasty! But what can you expect from a neighborhood undergoing ‘gentrification” after years of not wanting to drive through the neighborhood without an armoured vehicle? Anyway, new paint on the antique plaster, sealer on the trim work, new kitchen, new bathrooms. At least the old wavy glass in the windows miraculously made it through mostly in one piece, only a few had to be replaced or were long gone. It was something to see when I was done.

Then there was the last house. A mishmash of styles and lack of styles, all cobbled together from the 1930’s to the 1980’s, after a huge wildfire that wiped out the south coast of Oregon.

Aftermath. There was no stopping the fire.
Aftermath. There was no stopping the fire.
There was nothing left.
There was nothing left.

(Yes, I do have pictures of this remodel, but they are on a drive somewhere downstairs, if you are interested I will pull them out later. But, anyway. . .)

The oldest part of the house had great plaster, nice woods, and both old-growth fir and cork flooring. New tile and refinishing the old cabinets in the kitchen, click together wood floors in the dining room (the floor was wayyy wavy and an add-on from the 80’s, what can I say?) But I did add slate flooring in the hallways where the old 80’s fiber-board was awful, and the master bedrooms had that amazing cork. New bathrooms were a must (I really, really hate installing toilets, fiddly little buggers) but it was really nice when I got done. I even did Italian plaster on the walls, leather treatment in the master, installed ceiling fans (they were so easy to install!) and did Italian plaster and this wonderful Italian tile with copper trim on the fireplace and sprayed the old 80’s era stove with copper fire-proof paint. Killer. Went from “land-only” value to mid six-figures and I was a proud house-momma!

So, we moved back to Colorado, after 20 years away, and found this nice little brick rancher in the country. poppy

It was built in 1972, and wonder of wonders, it had already been freshly painted and the carpet was new, as were the bathrooms. Glory be, I can put away my tools! Well, for a few years, at least. The water heater had to be replaced (original) then the heating system (original) then the swamp cooler had to be just forgotten about and taken away when high winds took away a big chunk of the roof (roof replaced, check). The kitchen isn’t what we really want, but it is functional, and after the market crash and my cancer, well, nothing is getting done there any time soon.

But, that BLASTED FAN!!! Don’t get me wrong, it was nice in it’s day, not flashy, but nice, a Hampton Bay (can anyone say Home Depot special?)

Something like this, but I didn't photo it before I took it down. Bad Leiah, no bisquit!
Something like this, but I didn’t photo it before I took it down. Bad Leiah, no biscuit!

But after years of nearly constant running, poor thing is just ka-put. Click click click click.

So, on Saturday the fan is finally in my hot little hands and I am thrilled.

It's here!
It’s here!

Hey, I have to sit under that thing to work on my blog and read when it is too hot to sit outside, so that noise was really truly getting on my nerves! On Sunday morning, I pull out my toolbox and start in. Everything unpacked, all pieces in order. Check. I drag out the Costco ladder (that thing with the tough plastic tray to hold your goo-gaws within arms reach is great, by the way) and do my normal, picky as heck, take each part off individually, bag the screws and tie the bag to the part that they go to, then carry the parts out to the garage one at a time. (Note: I wasn’t always this meticulous. As in, I buried my Leatherman tool out in the front flowerbed under matting and cedar

My baby is gone!!!!
My baby is gone!!!!
Now I just have a cheapo. Sigh

chips and river rock last summer because I didn’t remember to put it back on the holster on my belt, and by the time I needed it again, who knows where under the fifty feet of matting it was buried? And you would know I don’t know anyone with a metal detector. Sigh. And that was my favorite tool. Now I just have a cheapy faux Leatherman. So, yes, even old dogs can learn new tricks. One thing at a time, moron…..)

The old one come down fine, all the screws are tight, but not overly so, and I draw my wiring diagram on the back of an old envelope so I have a double check on what wire goes where (of course, later, I sat there and puzzled over “blue wire”? WHAT “blue wire”? And why on earth would the hot wire be BLUE on the Hampton Bay? However, I digress. Again.)

But I have remembered to turn off the power, so life is good and I don’t get myself knocked on my ass so far, so life is good. Oh, the power box is new too, that is one thing the 70’s did NOT offer was good wiring to handle the micro, stove, new heating system, etc. that we have worked into the mix over the years. OR the four computers, monitors, printers, etc . . . I truck it all out to the workbench and leave it there for the garage sale I am going to get around to one of these years, and (wild chuckle) I am ready for the new one. Here we go!!!

So, I pull and check the wiring, it’s new. Check. (The wiring in both the above mentioned houses had to be totally replaced. I did a lot of it myself, but sad to say, I had to have an electrician for the new boxes and the City Inspector. Well, I am not THAT good at wiring!)

Screw in a new electrical box, just because I can. Check. Ok. New ceiling plate. Nice, 3” screws to hold the whole 22.4 lbs up to the ceiling. Sweet. So, I grab my nice Ryobi drill (don’t buy a lot of tools, but when you do, make them nice ones. They last longer, are stronger, and you won’t regret the purchase later like you do that date with that really handsome guy who slurps his soup and gropes you under the table). I got the Ryobi drill, hammer drill, bits and case at ‘fire sale’ prices when I worked for Home Depot (whole other story) and I baby it to death.

Cool, huh? I love toys that work well!
Cool, huh? I love toys that work well!

Anyway – drill at the ready – brrrrrrr – BAM! Screw is sticking out a full inch and I am stuck. Up into the attic (OMG. Blown in insulation, and doesn’t THAT suck when it is hot hot hot and you are sweating and fussing. Yep. Metal plating. Bugger. I could have sworn that I checked the length on the original screws. Yep, check my envelope – 2” screws and the new ones are 3”. And you couldn’t have checked that before Leiah? Sigh) Down the steps, back out the screws, and off to the garage to the metal box. I say metal box, because the movers dropped my screw and

nail collection box (all those lovely little compartments!! And I built it myself!) And broke it to pieces. I am still picking up nails and screws from the lawn beside the driveway. So, it is ‘the metal box” an old drawer that holds everything all jumbled together. Ouch! Pointy! Ouch! Sharp! Bugger! I finally dig out the right screws, and back to my ladder. Linda has gone to bed by now (she works nights at one of the casinos in Black Hawk, and she needs her sleep) so I am back to the old hand-held screwdriver. Bugger again. But I am a woman on a mission, so I got the thing up there. Check. I want to flush mount, so no down rod. Good, put that piece back and grab the canopy and canopy ring, and double check the wiring on the new fan. They give you about eight feet of wire

IMGP1630
Excess wire. At least I have a lamp to rewire.

on the new one (sweet) so I had to measure off the wire length I needed and cut it and strip it to length. WHERE is my wire stripper? Where???? Dig dig dig.

Bang bang bang. Not where it is supposed to be, check. Not on the workbench. Check. Dig dig dig. Screw it. So, out comes the paring knife, and picky ticky picky, strip off the casing and the wires are all ready.

Stripped wires.
Stripped wires.

But this thing weighs 22.4 lbs and has to be held over my head and Linda is asleep and well, bugger. So, I pack up my toys and take a shower and go down for a nap because there is no way that I am going to be able to finish this up all the time. It is getting dark out, and I have to turn off the power to the whole den to wire this thing so tomorrow it is. Besides, it has been a while since I had my chemo and radiation, but I am still not in top shape, and that reaching over my head business sucks!

So, Monday morning, bright and shiny, I turn off the power again and, with Linda’s help, I am going to quick like a bunny wire this bugger up and get it hung so she can go to bed.

Ready to hang - - - or so I THOUGHT.....
Ready to hang – – – or so I THOUGHT…..

It is her first day off after graveyards, and I want her to be able to hit her bed. First roadblock. The wiring doesn’t match the diagram. Crap. So, we  pull it down and I go out and get the old one. Sure enough, the wiring colours don’t match, but that is workable, the blue on the old one is the red on the new one, check. Got it. Take the old one back out and back up the ladder. Now Linda is holding up the fan, but she is on a chair and she is right at 6′ tall, so life is good. I wire it up, screw on the wire caps, and Bam!

Life is good! Just hang the fan on the hooks and flip it up onto the ceiling plate and I am ready to screw it into place (yes, after making sure no wires are sticking out, I am not a total moron) and it even fits tightly, oh goodie!

Oh, not goodie. Bugger! *&(%(*^(*^%%#$**. The holes don’t line up!! The holes in the ceiling plate are stripped and at an ANGLE!!!!!!! *^&*&%$&^(&%$^$. Of course, we don’t figure that out until the first screw pops back on me, and falls into the HOLES in the top of the fan. (Buh-bye screw! Buh-bye!) Holes WITHOUT screening, so they Fall. Into. The. Motor. Housing. BUGGER  Now Linda and I both have the “flat out exhausted with the whole business giggles” – Buh-bye Screw! Buh-bye! Then again, several more times throughout the mess, of course, buh-bye screw!

Ready! Or so I thought. . .
That plate, right THERE, is the problem!!!!

Yep. Gotta pull the whole bastard down, because I don’t want that screw rattling around and getting pulled up into the motor and burning it out the first time we have to use it. By now, Linda is goofy as all get- \out and tired beyond measure, I am cranky and tired and SORE from mucking about with my arms over my head all day yesterday as well as today, and I am way pissed. So, we pull it down, unwire it, and turn it over the sheet on the floor to shake out the screw, then back up the ladder, this time with the holes covered with socks to cover the holes (the curve of the sock at the ankle means it covers the round well. (Buh-bye screw, again….sigh…) Remember that when you need to make sure screws don’t go where they aren’t supposed to next time you are doing something like this).

Now, up the ladder we rewire and flip up the fan and now we have to deal with the mismatched holes, but I am smart (this time) and bring the drill bits out of my bag and fit on the drill and brrrrrrrrr I drill new holes through the cowling and plate on two sides (the third side had been OK, and of course that is the first one we put in originally and then had to back that puppy out and it was stuck fast. Pops out and Buh-bye screw again . . .

Have I said how sucky this whole installation has turned out to be?) And we start in with the new screws – which pop out and fall down on the floor, (Uh oh,buh-bye screws! Can they not make these things magnetic? ) but not into the housing at least, so that is something. Up and down the ladder, but at least the cowl and fan are hanging from the hooks on the housing and Linda isn’t having to hold it over her head now, but she is past that sweet-spot of exhaustion and the adrenaline of listening to me cuss a blue streak and doing a bit of her own has gotten her wide awake, so we are in it to win it by this point. Yea, right. And I am going to win the Lotto too. Sigh.

Back up the ladder, we finally, finally got the bugger screwed into the housing, and TA-DA!!! The fan body is UP! Yeah, Baby!!!!

Rahr! Rarh! Rarh!Finally, finally up!!! I unscrew the plastic brackets that hold the fan motor in place from the holes where the fan blades are attached.

I grab a blade and Linda holds it while I start to screw them on. Got one screw in (Stupid! Why didn’t you remove one bracket at a time?!?! Now the stupid thing MOVES every time you try to put the blade on! Sigh) I get one in . . . but it is in the wrong hole, so now it doesn’t line up and I have to unscrew it and by now I am tired and sweaty and sore (again) and Linda is tired and sweaty and hysterically laughing (as if I am not, because a few years ago I could have done this in one afternoon all by myself, and damn, it sucks getting old and getting cancer and getting weak and did I mention getting old?) We give up, take showers, and hit the bed, and, well, now it is Tuesday, and I AM GETTING THAT SUCKER FINISHED TODAY, COME HELL OR HIGH WATER…..

So. How was your weekend?

The Secret Life of Plants

So, you have this really GREAT idea . . . .

But how are you going to fund it? Maybe it is music, or software, or a trip across the country to write a book on the weirdest animal life you can photograph. Maybe you want to do something good, like raise money for a music program for inner city children. What do you do?

Kickstart! I learned about Kickstarter when C.E. Murphy posted a Kickstart for her book “No Dominion” about my favorite secondary character in her series “The Walker Papers”. Gary is a 70-something cab driver with a great secret – his very best friend in the whole world is a Shaman. A reluctant Shaman, to be sure, but a Shaman who relies on him for stability, a helping hand, and the occasional sword arm when it is necessary. And hey, when he can occasionally ride with Cernunnos and the Wild Hunt, well, what else could an old football jock ask for?

Anyway, back to the point (I did tell you, at some point that my mind wanders, right?)

I ran across this Kickstarter project earlier today. What plant lover doesn’t want to know just what their plants are feeling, what their needs are at any one point? Are we feeding them well? Do they have enough water, nutrients and light?

public lab
Click pic to go to Kickstart for Infragram!

If we can’t talk to them and have them answer back, well, what about a type of “x-ray vision”? Well, Public Lab in Cambridge, MA (those Cambridge people are just SO Smart, aren’t they?) are working on a solution.

In their words, the Infragram is:

A simple, cheap infrared camera which can measure plant health — for geek gardeners, farmers, and open source DIY scientists.”

(BTW – I don’t know where the purple cottage photo originated, only that I found it on Pinterest – it is linked there – and thought “Now THAT is my dream home!”)

There is an amazing video on the site that explains how it works. Check it out! Maybe it will help me figure out why I can only grow weeds in my yard . . . well, it could be that I am sitting on a huge sand pile that used to be the bottom of an ocean, I suppose?

A big thanks to http://www.sodahead.com/ for the great photo!
A big thanks to http://www.sodahead.com/ for the great photo!

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