Monday, July 28, 2014

Lethal Weapon

Sunday morning and I'm out at my usual time of 5ish to give the pups their sniffy walk. 

My back is turned away from the street as the pups sniff over a particularly delectable "mailbox" of messages left by the other dogs in the hood.

It's very dark. 
Just me, the dogs and the crickets.

Or so I thought.

We turn back to the street and freeze.

I tighten the leashes as I make out the shape of a tall man across the street, walking slowly towards us about 30 feet away.

He's weaving slowly down the road.

My adrenaline picks up as I asses the situation. 

The dogs are on full alert but not growling. 

Waiting.

I always wear a halogen flashlight strapped to my forearm when I'm walking so tilted my arm up and gave the guy a face full of my high-beam.




Startled, the guy looks up and says "Morning" as he passes. 

I can see the soft glow of a cell phone in his hand. 

"Really?"  I think to myself. 

He must've been reading something while he walked, weaving around. 

Geez, Dude...Put it away and enjoy your morning walk like a normal person!

As the dogs and I turned and moved away to continue our walk, I reflect on how close this guy came to danger.

You see, my friends,  I am a lethal weapon.

I have a bag of freshly deposited poo in my hand.
You don't want to mess with me.
Face first, baby.

Trust me...That'll make the bad guys run @;)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Quintessentially Summer

Quintessential: Pertaining to the most perfect embodiment of something.




It occurs to me that a Summer day at my house may be quite different than a Summer day where you are.  So I thought I'd take a moment to describe what a typical day here is like.

Most Summer mornings in the Piedmont of North Carolina start off with high humidity.  Fuzzy hair humidity!  Heavy, shoe soaking dews. 




Sometimes a heavy fog moves in like it did yesterday.




It might be clear overnight (and at sunrise) but usually the humidity creates a low overcast of clouds from 7am until around 10ish when the sun begins to break through.

Then things get intense.  Intense sun.  Intense blue sky.  Intense color.  Intense heat.


 

Some Summers are Cicada Summers.  This Summer is not, but you do hear the random few Cicadas, born out of sync, sing.  Softly at first.  Then they build up to their crescendo.  I always equate Summer with the sound of the Cicada. 

Often, towards evening, the clouds start to build and it's time for pop-up thunderstorms.  You hear the rumble first and the skies darken.




The garden is hopeful as the big "wilt" is on.  Everything is drooping from the heat.

A few sprinkles to tease us.  



Sometimes a deluge.  Frog-chokers SM calls them.

Nights are peaceful though as the skies clear and the fireflies and crickets take over. 

Peace.

Come to think of it, maybe our Summers are not all that different from yours after all.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Summer Chores

We had a pretty rainy week as a weather system decided to sit on top of us and do it's late afternoon dump every day.

The garden appreciated all the rain as I haven't been watering.  SM points out that we're entering our mid-Summer slump.  "Everything's done."  He points out.

Except the flowers...Yeah me!

We seem to be entering a mid-Summer slump in our routines too.  Kinda like in Jan/Feb when it seems like Winter will never be over and you're just wishing for something different in your daily life. 

SM and I just can't get enough of Spring and Fall weather.  We love that time of year.  LOVE IT!  Winter and Summer, meh...

Good thing we have chores to do @;)

SM went out to mow the lawn while I was at work yesterday and said it practically killed him to push that mower through the high, thick, dense lawn. 

"Are you going to get the riding mower fixed now?"  I asked.
"Nah.  It's good exercise for me." 
Hm.  Better him than me!

When I got home I went out and raked the clumps of grass while Scooter decided to turn into a cow and eat some of the clumps.  Geez!

SM and I will be working on the deck this weekend as sunshine and heat (95!)are both predicted.  We're getting to the point where we can split off and do different tasks.  SM finishing the trim work and I can head into the cleaning, painting and staining department.  

I actually enjoy painting and staining.  We're planning on a mixture of both.  Paint around the roof and deck fascia so it will blend with the house.  Then clear stain on the ceiling with cedar stain on the floor.  We've used CWF by Flood on our deck boards for years. 




I checked out other brands like Sherwin Williams and Behr but the reviews are more on the negative side so we'll stick with what works.

Before all that can happen though, I need to clean off all the pencil marks, concrete splash, dirt and blood (? Yes...a few splats) off the wood.


Not blood, just dirt.


Inch by angonizing inch.  (sigh)

I have armed myself with pencil erasers, diluted beach and scrubby pads of various types.


Thank Goodness the T&G is clean!


It's gonna be a long weekend...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Veni, Vidi, Vici?

Sunday morning saw us with heavy overcast skies.  As nice as it would have been to continue working on the deck, I decided instead to attack the overgrown garden.

What a mess!

There are sweet potato slips in there somewhere!


Last weekend, I picked the last of the green beans and yoinked the plants out and threw them in the compost pile.  That bed was now open for business. 


Freakin grass!

What to plant now? 
Why more winter squash of course.  My first bed of winter squash that I planted back in May is doing NOTHING.  Male flowers only.  Where are the girl flowers?

It occurs to me that the same thing happened last year.  In fact, I didn't see any fruit set until August/September.  Hopefully time will correct this so I'm leaving that bed be.  Since I love squash so much, might as well plant another batch and see what happens.

But it obviously needed a good weeding before planting so I did about half of the bed before SM came out and asked what he could do to help. 

"Could you take over here?"  I asked.



He finished that bed while I wandered over to see if I could give the sweet potato's some breathing room.  I tell you what...It took me 2 1/2hrs to weed those few area's. 


Teenie, Tiny Sweets next to the ginormous weed pile.

Look at that weed pile!  I'll be honest here, I kinda got away from the cardboard smothering technique these past two years.  Now it shows.  Big time!  I told SM that we need to start saving cardboard again.  It seems to be the only way I can keep the weeds in check. 

In other news, the tomatoes that we do have are coming in fast and furious.  The plants themselves are pretty small this year but loaded with fruit.  Just a few BER and a few losses to squirrel bites. 




Our green peppers also did well.  We're fresh eating right now.  I've noticed that I get a summer crop and another in the fall.  They'll set out blossoms come September and we can usually squeeze in another harvest before the frost. 



Cucumbers are just now starting to get some size.  They're usually a June crop for me so they are way behind this year.

BTW, the dreaded SVB's have arrived and the summer squash will soon expire.  I didn't bother taking a picture of that.  We all know what a dying squash plant looks like.

I'm eyeballing the lettuce I let bolt closely to try and do a "seed save" with them this year. 







Have any of you done this?  Tips please!

So that was my effort in the garden yesterday. 
I'm bushed! 











Yeah, Right! 

When it comes to the garden, I'm the one who gets spanked!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Switching Gears

For the past few months we've been in a pattern of hot, sunny, dry days with the occasional pop-up thunderstorm here and there. 

On the weekends (because that's when we have time) we bust around like crazy people trying to get our outside work finished before 2pm when the heat of the day will really flatten you out. 

We've kept nibbling away on the deck project.

Solar Screen on top of the cedar privacy wall

Every weekend for the past month we've started our day with the "What are we doing to the deck today?" conversation. 
 


Not too bad for a couple of rookies...Eh?

So it comes as a bit of a surprise to wake up to a cloudy, rainy day.  

We had a misty, drizzly morning as I drove in to do post-ops at work while SM volunteered to go do the grocery shopping.  By the time I made it home around lunchtime, the clouds had parted and the sun was heating things up. 

I thought some grilled sausages might be nice for SM's lunch so I stuck them on low and went to do other things. 

Getting older is fun, have I mentioned that recently? 

Yes...I had a senior moment and forgot all about the sausages until I looked out the window and saw nothing but smoke.  To say that I'd turned those suckers into flaming charcoal briquettes is being kind. 

Thankfully it started raining again before I could get myself into further trouble. 

A nice soft gentle rain.




I sat down in my recliner.
Blink, blink...blink.
And passed out for a nice long nap.

Rainy days are nice sometimes aren't they?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Enjoying The Polar Vortex

I came home from work the other day and took the pups outside.




The "Summer Polar Vortex" that everyone is talking about is here too but all it's done is lower the humidity and heat by a few degrees.

It's still hot.

We found a shady spot and sat in the grass while I tried to take pictures.

As soon as I try, all I get are "butt-shots".  Why do they do that? 

Eventually the dogs start to ignore me and I manage to get some good shots.











They get to sniffing and rolling...







And running...




And panting.




Lots of panting.




And when the human starts to pant, it's time to go inside. 

Thank goodness for the "Polar Vortex" inside my house. @;)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Customer Service...So True!



*Vulgarity Alert. 

But "Hey" we're all adults here.

SM showed me this today.  Yes...I laughed.  We don't have Comcast but this pretty much sums up the problem with Customer Service regardless of who you're with.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Copras Are In

I was out the other morning doing my garden walkabout when I noticed that the onions were flopping over.

I wandered over to pull one out to see what was up.

I next thing I knew I was yoinking onions out and piling them up. 
A great big pile of onions. 

(Funny how I can get distracted...)

Thankfully the day promised to be hot and breezy with no rain in sight so I went and hung them up along the fence line taking care to cover them with the leaves to protect them while they dried out a bit.




The next day I set up the screen door (that we never installed).  It's perfect for drying the onions.  I transferred the onions onto the screen and left the shed doors open for a few days.




They'll hang out in there for about a month as they slowly dry.

This is my second year with Copras.  I've grown sweet onions and torpedo onions.  Copras are perfect for us.  Not too big.  And they store well in the garage over winter.




And that's my onion crop for the year!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Rotational Smothering

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the strawberry plants were dying back.  We were having a bit of a hot, dry stretch one week and I just assumed that they'd bounce back once we'd gotten some rain.

The rain came.  No change.  Hm.

Then I noticed that all three beds were dead all on the same end.  Like someone had sprayed each bed halfway down the middle.




Weird.

Eventually all the berry plants in each bed died. 
The weeds were still flourishing (of course) as were a few volunteer tomatoes. 

Very weird. 
I assume some disease came through and wiped me out.

Anyway...I'm not too bent out of shape about this event.  Not being a strawberry disease expert, I just figured this was Mother Nature's way of telling me I need to rotate the crops I've been growing in the raised beds.

The weeds and Bermuda grass were taking over everywhere so I threw some landscape fabric over one of the beds and walkway surrounding it to help smother them and pinned it down with some of the steel awing frames we had laying around. 




Glad we saved those.  They are great for holding down the fabric. 

I let the bed bake in the 95 degree heat for a week or so and I went out and uncovered the bed the other day. 

Nice!  Love me some dead weeds!  I cleaned up the bed and moved the piping and fabric over to the next bed.




I'll just keep moving through the garden like this.

Bit by bit.

A Summer Smother!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

The world is a crowded place.

I used to crave country living in the hopes that I wouldn't be pestered by my neighbors.  I envisioned a country life of seclusion and silence. 

I know now (from reading your blogs) that everyone has a neighbor.  Even out in the country.

Neighbors.  I happened to be blessed with pretty decent ones.




Now. 

We had a family with 7...Yes, SEVEN dogs.  Bark, bark bark...All the freaking time.

We've had the family with the pot smoking kids.  When Mom and Dad were gone of course. 

(Hm...contact high anyone?)





Sometimes you see them, sometimes you don't, but for the most part we all hope and pray that we don't live next to the neighbor from Hell.

We might not consider the fact that, to OUR neighbors, WE might be the neighbors from Hell.

I try to keep this fact in mind but I really don't worry about it too much about it.

Yes, my weedy garden is likely a topic of conversation of my neighbors to the left of me.





Yes, our construction site mess might be a topic of conversation to the neighbors on the right of me.

Just do what I do.

Avert your eyes.


You don't like it? 

Don't look...@;)