Wednesday, March 30, 2011
This has been a slow week for outside business, but next week will be very busy. I will have four days where I have to be up at six and in Wednesday's case I'll have to go until 9PM, then be up again at six, and not home for supper until after seven on Thursday. Fortunately I don't have to be anywhere until noon Friday, and then the Kiwanis do the UPARC picnic on Saturday from 10 to 1:30. I am trying to figure out how to duck out of some of the volunteer opportunities because I have a hard time keeping up with the yard work and other chores around the house.
We have been planting this week - the BW stuck in lots of flowers of various ilk, and I planted an Arica palm for her in front. It replaces the giant one that she didn't like because of the dead frozen fronds, and which she made me cut off a couple of years ago. She thought it would just spring back, but it didn't. Fortunately, the new little one only cost nine dollars, so it was fairly easy to plant. The hard part was digging out enough leftover roots to make room to stick it in the ground.
Also, we haven't trimmed the hedge lately. It rained all day yesterday, and we got 2.4 inches of rain even though Pinellas was supposed to get 0.25 to 0.50 inches, and this afternoon it hailed. I haven't looked at the rain gauge yet, but I was glad I spent an hour digging out sand burrs and a couple of nutsedges. There were enough sand burrs to fill a plastic grocery bag, but that is only about the fourth one this year. Two years ago, when I started, I dug one bag a day, every day for a lot of weeks. It was probably 11 or 12 weeks total, and then I had to go back over the ground I had covered. If I get a good day, it's time to put out the pre-emergent herbicide again.
All the St. Augustine plugs I put out this spring looked great today - I think they are all happy, and I'm really surprised at the amount of St. Augustine in the back yard. I guess the grass is enough of a challenge to keep me out of trouble forever.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Yesterday I spent an hour and a half thawing, peeling, and chopping to make a big pot of navy bean soup, which turned out thick enough to satisfy me because I was careful to stop putting water in when I could first see a hint in the vegetables. Then I threw the turkey drumsticks in. The BW said it was good soup, and I just put in two bay leaves, plenty of parsley, some Italian spice, and a tablespoon or two of crushed red peppers. It’s not hot at all, but I pour in a lot of hot sauce in mine and it tastes great.
After that I planted the two muscadine grape vines I bought at Ace hardware on Wednesday. The bare root vines stopped growing, and I am worried that it’s too warm for them here. They are in full sun, fertilized and watered, but after I pinched off the side shoots to work on growing a trunk, they all stopped getting longer. Since I have a grape trellis not, I put a Noble muscadine vine at each end, which leaves 20 feet for each of them to grow on. They were grown here in Florida and came in one gallon pots with lots of leaves and shoots, and I left everything intact when I planted them. They are tied to the vertical ropes I put up for them, and I hope they will wrap around the rope and go like crazy. The leaves on the muscadines are noticeably different from the ones on the seedless grapes, so one or the other should grow. If they all grow I can either keep them smaller or dig out one or the other.
There was an article about the “origin” muscadine vine in one of the Carolinas in the paper recently. Apparently it was sprayed with some tree-killer by the local power company by mistake, but after trimming away the damaged parts it is doing well. Not bad for a 300 year old vine. (I think it was the original Scuppernog vine, but later people started calling any bronze colored vine a Scuppernog.)
If they can last 300 years, I assume these two will last as long as I do, and after that they’re on their own.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Psychiatrists determined that if you don't have a concept or know of a phenomenon, you are blind to it. An example of that would be learning a new word that you had never heard before, and then typically seeing or hearing the new word several times in the next few weeks. I am constantly surprised by seeing things for the first time when I have been looking at them for years.
This morning, when I took the dogs for a walk, I turned east instead of west, and at the edge of my sidewalk I noticed that Chris's sidewalk was a lot darker than mine, just as mine was darker than Rob's for a couple of years. I hadn't noticed how dirty my sidewalk was until I had a pressure washer, and I never would have bought one if the back fence hadn't grown mole or moss or something and turned black. The chemicals didn't work, and I finally decided to try the washer. Then I could really see the difference.
Then, farther up my street, I came across another clean sidewalk, but the cleaner hadn't been as careful as Rob and I had, and the pressure washer had strayed into the dirty sidewalk in a little bow. I don't know if it was done on purpose, but it really catches your eye. I can't believe that I have been walking past that spot several mornings each week for two or three years, but never noticed it before.
Now I wonder how long it will take Chris to notice that my sidewalk is brighter than his.
Friday, March 25, 2011
We watched a series on Masterpiece Theater recently called "Any Human Heart.” It tracked a man from before WWI to his death at the age of about 85, which seems young to me but was probably pretty good for the way he lived. One theme that kept being repeated through the series was that luck controlled your life – both good luck and bad luck. I personally think that determination plays a larger part than the show gave credit for, but certainly external events do affect us all.
At the end of the show, the thing he had failed to do for most of his life was to publish something “worth-while,” and it was accomplished after his death, because the thing that was published was his journal, which had been written over more than 55 years. Of course, it was written by hand in a blank book, which I think you still can buy in stationary stores such as Office Depot or Staples.
I realized a couple of weeks later that it would probably be questionable whether such a journal would exist today. The technology changes so fast that safely stored things become inaccessible because the technology to read them disappears. I still have a handwritten journal that I kept during our first trip to Mexico, a record of every gem that I cut from February of 84 to the last stone I cut in 94, the records of General Investments (an investment club we started at work) from 1966 to 1971, and others. Unfortunately I also have some floppy disks with information stored as “text files” which contain all the daily entries from the first time I started using a notebook computer and a dot matrix printer. That was a couple of years after we sold the house – maybe 1995. What I found later was that the computers I had couldn’t read the disks. Not only that, I have an external floppy drive that I plug into a USB port to get anything off of or on to a floppy. Computers don’t even have floppy drives any more. Beyond that, the things will eventually get old and the coating will flake off, so in effect nothing is permanent.
Acid free paper and ink, however, last quite a long time, especially in a closed book which keeps air away from the paper.
Of course, if I really wanted the information back I could probably find someone who could translate the code I have into something my computer could read - but it would cost money. I just learned to program computers with ones and zeros, worked up to Fortran, which let me model anything I wanted, and eventually got tired of learning new languages. I can't begin to manage anything modern.
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