Monday, June 30, 2008

Grateful Monday

Image
This is one of my favorite scenes in the garden. I know I have posted it before. Just showing progress.

This is the last Monday of my current contract, and I have a lot to be grateful for. Forgive me if I ramble on.

  • Suna and the boys
  • It is so wonderful to have a place of refuge where I can find peace and support. Suna and the boys give me more than I can hope to return. I am grateful for this.
  • Nature at home
  • Yesterday, Beccano took Suna and I upstairs to show us a nest of cardinals just outside the guest room window. The cardinals incorporated dog-chewed plastic bottles, dog hair, and more traditional items into the nest. This is like having a science museum at home. Unfortunately, I think the screens will keep us from getting good pictures from that perspective.
    We also got about 7/8” of rain last night. It was a gentle, soaking rain—very unusual for this time of year. When we get any rain at all, it usually comes as a quick deluge that runs off before it can do any good. The cloud cover has also kept the temperatures reasonable today. You can go outside without feeling like you’re stepping into a convection oven.
    I am grateful to be able to enjoy nature at home without having to worry about how to extract a living from it.
  • This assignment
  • Not only has the money from this assignment been good, the support of the people with whom I have worked has been very healing. I had developed a very negative attitude toward ALE in my tenure there. Now I am grateful for this team, who has helped be regain the equilibrium that ALE originally destroyed.
    I came here nine months ago—time passes so quickly!—on a 90-day contract. I have enjoyed my stay and been productive, earning what I have been paid. Now I am going without regrets. Thanks to this team and ALE. I look forward to the potential of coming back again.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Yard Work and Cardinals

Of course, I’m not the only one working in the garden.
Photo by: Beccano

I have been busily trimming the big oak, spraying the wounds to help prevent oak wilt, and shredding the trimmings. Several weeks ago, I bought a used Troybuilt chipper/shredder, and once I figured out that I had to use starter fluid to get it running, I have been very happy with it.

I’ve been taking the shredded branches and spreading them over the flowerbeds as mulch. Even with the cost of gasoline, that is much less expensive than buying mulch, and I get the satisfaction of recycling the biomass in the yard. Mulching in this manner has been shown to keep plants healthier by protecting them from the sun and reduce water consumption. (We are currently under voluntary water rationing, but that will become mandatory as summer progresses.)

I took a break from that activity this afternoon to work the compost pile. It had gotten slightly out-of-balance and taken on that sickly-sweet smell that comes just before going completely anaerobic. Working the pile gives it a complete turning and should enable it to regain balance. Of course, it yields a nice crop of compost for me to distribute among my hungry, deserving plants.

Double Impatiens Small
The double impatiens seem to have survived the division and massive root pruning. Hopefully, they will be happier with more room to grow again—not to mention fresh soil.

Double Impatiens

I used the opportunity to repot a could of sickly things that I don’t remember what they are. (Suna, my consulting taxonomist, informs me that they are double impatiens.)

When I depotted them, I found that they were completely root bound. Their roots had become a solid mass that retained the shape of the hanging basket. To make matters worse, both baskets had ant colonies.

I shook the ants out into the freshly turned compost pile. I figured they could battle it out with the ants that were already living in the pile. Or since they were different species, they might find their way back into the tree. I count at least four different species of ant living in the yard. No wonder they keep coming into the house.

Then I went to work dividing the impatiens. From the two baskets, I was able to:

  • Replant the original baskets
  • Pot up an 8” container
  • Plant two more groups in the front flowerbed expansion

All of these should be healthier and more vigorous with more room and fresh soil. I do worry that the front yard may be too hot for those I moved there. But I planted them in the back of the bed where they should get very little direct sun. They are in the shade of a rosemary bush that has been happily growing since before I moved in.

Although they weren’t labeled, I think they closely resemble Caladium bicolor (Florida Sweetheart). You can see the shredded oak mulch.

Caladiums

I also potted two red-leafed caladiums (Thanks again, Suna.) in a recycled pot that held the New Guinea impatiens I put in the front of the front flowerbed expansion. These went on the green garden table, next to Beccano’s pineapple.

Potting Mix

For planting, I use a 50-50 mixture of potting soil and compost. I had enough compost left to give all of the plants a nice top-dressing and spread some in a troubled patch of lawn. It sure feels good to give this back to Nature. All of the materials in the compost pile would otherwise had ended up in a landfill or down the disposal.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Format

Just a quick post to note the redesign. I’ve been wanting to go to a three-column layout, and I finally got it to work. The way Blogger uses these skins makes it easy for people who don’t know (and probably don’t want to know) how to code a web page to get going. But it sure makes getting a custom look unnecessarily hard.

This layout broke three times in development for no apparent reason. I appreciate the patience of those of you who encountered problems over the last few days. Now that it is up and stable, I probably won’t mess with it again—much.

Another Strange Dream

Rose even smiles for the camera
Photo by: Suna

I have taken to sleeping with earplugs because of the noise the dogs make at night. So last night I dreamed that one of the dogs was breathing really loud. I thought is was strange that I was hearing the breathing through the earplugs. I looked down and there was Rose smiling and wagging her tail. She is such a loveable dog that you can’t hardly get mad at her no matter what she does. So I smiled back and reached to pet her loving head. That’s when I woke up.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday’s Feast

Appetizer: What is the weather like today where you live?
Partly cloudy and hot. Highs near 100° (37.7° C), with a 20% chance of thunderstorms that will not materialize. But we’re expecting a “cold front” that will drop highs into the lower 90s over the weekend.
Soup: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how career-minded are you?
Around 4. Been there, done that! Got the scars to show it, not to mention a nice collection of corporate logo T-shirts.
Salad: What type of window coverings do you have in your home? Blinds, curtains, shutters, etc.?
Blinds and curtains. A few shades and one nekkid window.
Main Course: Name something that instantly cheers you up.
Laughter, happy kids, and puppies.
Dessert: How many times do you hit the snooze button on a typical morning?
I don’t have a snooze button.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Slayage: The Slaying of the Slayer Tarot

Image The Magician in the Slain Deck

Photo source: Mary K. Greer

Even though Buffy died twice, her tarot deck will apparently never have the opportunity. And I was so looking forward to it!

I got the word in an email from TFAW yesterday, since I had pre-ordered. Officially, Dark Horse says the cancellation is due to “circumstances beyond our control.” What could those be? Noted Tarot author Mary K. Greer speculates that someone who controls the rights thought a Tarot deck would be “too occult” and attract “the wrong people.”

Wasn’t it the wrong people who made BtVS a hit in the first place? And as Greer notes, several episodes of the series featured Tarot readings.

“Someone who controls the rights” can just …

I guess that someone who owns the rights should just get a life instead of irritating the fan base that makes money for the product. Academic conferences on the philosophy of the Buffyverse only bring in so much. Why not widen your sights. Oh, wait! I forgot! You’re an executive in the entertainment industry. That means you’re just the other side of brain dead.


12 August 2008 Update: I have found the deck listed on another site for September distribution. TfAW originally listed for August distribution, so I am hopeful that we may eventually see this deck. For details, see my 12 August entry.


12 November 2008 Update: It was a false hope. The EE order was canceled today.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Adios

The Director of Human Resources
Original art by: Rev. Jim Vandewalker

I had a bittersweet lunch today. I got to see some old friends from my old team and enjoyed visiting very much. The occasion was both uplifting and sad. My old Cthulu buddy has taken a job at the University of Wyoming, and we were gathered to bid him farewell. Seven years of restructuring and cutbacks had taken their toll, and he decided on a preemptive strike.

He said one thing that was very interesting. He told me that the further away from Austin he interviewed, the more his experience at ALE carried weight. Local employers treated him like damaged goods for having worked there so long. But people who weren’t intimately familiar with how the company works still respected the brand and the people who had helped build it. That may be something Suna and I should consider carefully.

The rest of the team is surviving on the block, although there were some noticeable absences. The team has been merged into an offshore management structure. My understanding is that this move has only bought them a little time. They are still not allowed to backfill any voluntary departures.

All-in-all, I am glad that I escaped when I did. I am glad Cthulu’s Bane is making his escape, too. For the others, I am hoping that the extra time buys them a chance to order their finances and escape on their own terms.

At the lunch I was asked if I would return to work at ALE. Not as an employee. There is no future there, only the illusion of one. I much prefer the clarity of contract work to the cynicism and disillusionment that kind of environment engenders.

At least the visiting off-shore manager I met there picked up the tab. He seemed really nice, too.

Mangling Spanish and Grateful Monday

I’ve got a local station on, Tejano music playing
I do my best to sing along but I don’t know what they’re saying
No le puedo entender but you know that it's alright
I’m headed down to San Antone, runnin’ with the night
—Robert Earl Keen Jr.

One of the problems I have speaking Spanish is remembering the gender of inanimate objects and concepts. (When writing, I have more time to think about it and look it up as needed.) In Spanish, everything has gender.

  • A car (carro or coche) and the sky (cielo) are male.
  • A hamburger (hamburguesa) and the earth (tierra) are both female—but dirt (suelo) is male.

Of course, the sky and the earth retain their pagan genders in many languages. Even in the English spoken in predominantly Christian nations, we refer to Mother Earth.

And Spanish has examples of gender confusion:

  • La radio (the radio) — a masculine noun with a feminine article
  • El policia (the policeman) — a feminine noun with a masculine article that indicates a male

Grateful Monday

Today when I was buying coffee, one of the staff dropped a big pile of pans. The other workers all made exaggerated noises of shock, but she calmly said, “No es un grando causa.” I believe the grammatically correct way to say this would have been, “No es una causa grande,” but, again, I am no expert. I simply smiled at gnarled Hispanic matron across the room and wished her a silent muchas gracias.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gardening and More Mosquitoes

This yellow mass of #2 Perennial has taken up residence next to Mr. Stripey, the front yard tomato.

I realized today that the effect I wrote about last Sunday and that continued throughout most of the week was just the lull before the storm. Or the intermission between acts might be a better metaphor. The Spring mosquitoes may have died of heat prostration, but the teeny once I mentioned were the new summer crop. Now they are full grown and ravenous. Sigh!

On to better news, which is to say gardening news. To de-stress after returning from selling part of the farm, Suna suggested a trip to the home center to buy some new summer plants. We didn’t go hog-wild, and putting plants in the dirt certainly re-establishes a connection with Mother Nature. We bought:

  • Two lovely red caladiums
  • A Nanho Purple butterfly bush
  • Two pots of three yellow ornamental peppers
  • A big bucket of lovely yellow flowers called #2 Perennial

The caladiums are going in a hanging basket in the back yard that once held a sturdy New Guinea impatiens (Cherry Red). That plant has moved to the front bed extension and now lives in the ground. Three of the ornamental peppers also went in the front bed extension.

This ornamental pepper seems quite happy next to the New Guinea Impatiens.

The butterfly bush went at the right side of the house in an area where it may not get enough sun. Suna said that the last one burnt up in the sun, so I decided to try a shadier place. I hope I didn’t kill it by that choice. We’ll see.

Perennial #2 and the remaining ornamental peppers (You gotta love those names!) went in the original new bed in the front yard to replace some heat prostrated petunias. I imagine the other petunias will soon follow their compatriots into the compost pile.

In other news from that bed, the tomato has grown immense. It is even starting to put on those ugly little yellow flowers that are harbingers of tomatoes. One of the peppers I moved to the front has loads of blooms and a couple of fruits. All of the other peppers are still full of lovely dark green foliage, but nothing else.

It’s good to he home and have dirt on my hands. Funny how the earth can absorb all of the tension out of your body and make you whole again.


26 June Update: Added photos and captions.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

To Sell Or Not To Sell

Land at Cotton Patch, TX
Photo source: Google Maps

That is the question today, as I head south to visit my Dad and probably sell part of a chunk of land that has been in my family for more than 100 years. Why sell? Two reasons:

  1. Dad asked me to.
  2. I would be much more secure with the cash.

To say I have mixed emotions about the sale would be an understatement. But I know I can never live there. I am deathly allergic to the area. Until Clarinex, I couldn’t even visit for more than a day without getting sick. At the same time, this is as close as I have ever come to having roots. This land has always been there (well parts of it, anyway). But when Dad deeded the place to me, I told him it was still his for the rest of his life. I would do with it as he said. And now he has told me to sell.

Of course, he would never tell me what to do with it. “I never tell anybody what to do. I had too much of that when I was a kid.” But every time we have talked for the last moth, he has enumerated the benefits of selling, making it very clear that he wants me to make this sale happen. He wants it, and it seems to be in my best interest. What choice do I really have?


I reached agreement with the man who wants to buy. He bought my uncle’s portion of the homestead 12-or-so years ago. He has taken better care of it than my uncle did, and he has been a good neighbor for Dad.

Being an appraiser by trade, he brought documentation of every farm parcel that has sold within 30 miles of the place for the last 10 years. We sat down in my grandparents house, which he now owns, and I told him stories about the place. Then we got down to business. I believe we reached a fair settlement. It is less than I wanted but more than he did.

Now all there is to do is wait for closing and not let seller’s remorse depress me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday’s Feast

Appetizer: If you could live on another continent for 1 year, which one would you choose?
For a year? I would probably enjoy anywhere except India or Africa for a year. Oh, not Antarctica either. I would be much pickier about a permanent move.
Soup: Which browser do you use to surf the Internet?
Firefox 2.0.0.14. But now that 3.0 is out, I will probably be upgrading to it soon. I tried 3.0/RC1, but it was still too unstable. There have been several interim releases since then.
Salad: On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how much do you know about the history of your country?
I’d guess about a six. That means I consistently scored in the 99th percentile on standardized tests.
Main Course: Finish this sentence: Love is…
I would simply change the elipsis to a period. But if that’s too much of a cheat, I’ll paraphrase the song by 10cc: “Love is a rollercoaster that we all ride.”
Dessert: Have you ever been in or near a tornado?
Twice:
  • In Houston, Trackgrease and I steped out on the back poarch to enjoy a thunderstorm. At one point, he said, “Dad, that sounds like a tornado!” I thought it was too quiet, so he and I stayed outside watching the storm. The next morning, we went to breakfast only to find a large swath of destruction cutting through the neighborhood and starting only a couple of blocks from the house.
  • A few weeks ago, we came home from choir rehearsal in a thunderstorm. I got out of the truck and heard that familiar sound from the previous paragraph.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Good Side of Hot Weather

OK, that isn’t the official forecast, but it’s accurate.

Just four days after ranting against mosquitoes, I have something good to write about. I am not usually a big fan of summer in Texas. My motto has always been that two hundred years of evolving on the shores of the North Sea did not prepare this German boy for here. Bug again, I have nice things to say about the heat.

And it has been hot. Yesterday’s official high was 103° F. That would be about 39.4° in most of the rest of the world. On the ride home, the sign at the neighborhood community center read 115.3° (46.3°).

But the low last night was in the mid-70s, and it’s been dry. So it felt even cooler. I was able to enjoy my morning coffee on the back porch listening to the birds and watching the dogs snorful around the yard. It was very nice.

“But what about the mosquitoes?” you may ask. I think the heat got ’em. I only killed three in about a half-hour of bliss, and those were teeny. Four straight days past the century mark (Sunday, too!) seems to have been more than they could take. I’ll take the heat—appreciate it, even, until the light bill hits—if it kills off the mosquitoes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Grateful Monday: Possums, Buzzards, and Deer

Possums ain’t nobody’s favorite varmint.
Photo source: Tassem Land, U.S.A.

Driving around on our brief excursion to Lake Limestone yesterday (short trip, nothing really to say), we saw loads of deer, other mammals, and birds. On the way back from picking the kids up at the airport, we saw a possum (an opossum for the purists since the initial o designates the marsupials found in the Western Hemisphere) ambling along in the neighborhood.

Many people don’t like possums. They are evil, wicked, mean, and nasty. And that is a list of their good points.They will eat through the floor of a mobile home or pier-and-beam construction to get at pet food. But they do serve their purpose, whether it’s cleaning up nature’s garbage or knocking over humans’ garbage cans.

While there isn’t a lot of ground-based wildlife in our part of the neighborhood—I think all the privacy fences confuse migratory paths—it isn’t unusual to see various lifeforms in the immediate vicinity. For that I am grateful—even for the possums.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mosquitoes

Mosquitos suck!

It is officially Mosquito Season in Central Texas. The pests have taken over our back yard to the point where you can’t venture outside without drenching yourself in Cutter.

Every time I water the plants, I go armed with a can of flying insect killer. I kill a few in various parts of the back yard, but I kill dozens as they swarm around the back door as if they heard a call to dinner.

Now the mosquito problem here is nothing compared to where I grew up. There:

  • Most counties have a branch of government devoted to mosquito control.
  • I have seen a sliding glass door become opaque with thousands of these tiny vampires trying to get into the house.
  • After a hurricane or tropical storm, salt grass mosquito populations expand enough that you can occasionally read about them killing livestock.

Clute, Texas even has a Mosquito Festival—although I can’t think of any reason to celebrate this nasty bugs. Maybe it’s the if you can’t beat ’em syndrome.

Other than further their parasitic existence by slurping blood from you and yours, what do mosquitoes (Why do we insist on adding an e to a very nice Spanish plural noun? It not like we are comparing these miniature demons to potatoes.) do? They serve no useful purpose but spread numerous diseases:

I thought it might be fun to list a few of the amusing ways I have killed mosquitoes this week:

  • Today, I got a twofer—that is, I killed two mosquitoes that were biting my arm with one slap. I think that rates a prize of some kind.
  • I got one with hair spray while getting ready for work.
  • I got one in the shower with a glob of conditioner.
  • Twice this week, I found a mosquito hiding in the toilet bowl. You guessed it. I peed ’em down. That takes good aim!

So: what is the most inventive way you have killed a mosquito (or other flying parasite)? Leave a comment and let me know.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Politics and the Feast

Two more weeks until I join the ranks of the unemployed again. I am a bit worried because the local economy seems to be following the national economy into the toilet. Thanks, Republicans. You took a balanced budget and turned it into something worse than the “tax and spend Democrats” could have done under Tip O’Neil. I have a new term: Don’t tax but spend anyway Republicans.

Hey! This wasn’t supposed to be a political rant. Let’s eat something. I think I’d like a fried Republican.

Friday’s Feast

Appetizer: Do you consider yourself to be an optimist or a pessimist?
Like Suna, I prefer to think of myself as a realist. At the same time, I choose to be upbeat about most things that happen in my life. Every life has good and bad events that work together to shape who we become. Take away anything and we are someone else. Not that I like the icky parts. But I know they are inevitable. So why not cherish the growth that results from them?
Soup: What is your favorite color of ink to write with?
Black.
Salad: How often do you get a manicure or pedicure? Do you do them yourself or go to a salon and pay for them?
Uh…Never. I’m a guy.
Main Course: Have you ever won anything online? If so, what was it?
Nope.
Dessert: In which room in your house do you keep your home computer?
My work computer is in the office. My home computer is in the entertainment center in the media room. There is an old laptop in the guestroom—mainly because the keyboard died and it can’t be used as a portable anymore.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Book Review: No Future for You

Image
Vaughan, Brain K. (2008). No Future For You (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Volume 2). Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse.
Photo source: LibraryThing

No Future for You compiles issues six through nine of Season 8. It tells the story of Faith as she tries to redeem herself by taking an assassination assignment. The writing is good, and Faith’s character develops nicely within the parameters already established while BtVS was on the air.

Giles’ character also undergoes a couple of predictable, if unexpected, twists. Buffy and the other members of the Scooby Gang, however, remain on the periphery and relatively flat.

I enjoyed rereading the set with the acquisition of this volume. Buffy fans should consider it, although I wouldn’t call it a must-read.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It’s a Dry Heat

Lobelia Queen Victoria in bloom

I determined that the problem with the lobelias is the heat, not the amount of water, although frequent watering does seem to help them cope with the heat. Last night, I came home with what I call a migraine—a splitting headache that starts where the skull attaches to the neck and tortures the head forward to the eyes. It often encompasses only one lobe. Last night it was the left. Pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen don’t touch it.

I know this isn’t a real migraine. But the symptomatology is similar, and the pain is equivalent (level 3-4). These headaches stem from “something being out” in my spine or neck. The only cure I know of is to lay flat on my back with my neck supported on a “dog bone” pillow for eight to twelve hours. That’s what I did last night.

Anyway—as I dragged myself to the front door, I noticed that the lobelias were sagging almost as much as I was. Oh, god, I thought. I’ve got to water them or I might lose them. But I didn’t. I laid down for an hour or so, ate dinner, and went back to bed. Suna was really patient with me and took excellent care.

When I remembered to check on the lobelias this morning, they had perked back up. They have lovely, delicate flowers that remind me of bromeliads: delicate, colorful petals along a long, graceful neck. I will post a photo this evening when I get home and can work on it.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Grateful Monday

Image
Jones, Tim (2008). Transported.

I was reading Tim Jones’ book blog this morning. He has just published Transported, a collection of his short fiction. The book is in my queue to buy once I have another contract lined up. (OK. That’s the end of the shameless plug for my LibraryThing acquaintance who shares a taste for science fiction and Arthur C. Clarke.)

Tim’s blog linked to a new offering from the New Zealand Book Council, which I am pleased to share here. The Council has a program called Read at Work, which I assume intends to promote literacy and familiarity with literature. Using Windows Remote Desktop, the Council makes an assortment of work available online in the guise of PowerPoint presentations. You can read a book, but if your boss walks by, it looks as if you’re perusing a presentation.

The punctuation and layout of the one I scanned are very creative. It really does look like a bad PowerPoint presentation typical of what passes for business communication these days.

Grateful Monday

So that brings me to today’s Grateful Monday. I never cease to be surprised by the inventiveness of the human spirit. Read at Work is just one example of that inventiveness—albeit a slightly dishonest one. I am grateful for that inventiveness in all of its expressions. Let us continue to be human and not be reduced to some utilitarian net.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Book Review: Buffy Omnibus Volume 4

Omnibus, volume 4 (O4) is the best of the series so far. The writing is much close to the quality I came to expect from the series, partly due to the inclusion of the 19-issue, 200-page “Bad Bood” by Andi Watson, who has written the scripts for several graphic novels in the Buffyverse.

But the overall writing is better than the previous volumes. There were times in the first three volumes when I had to make myself continue reading. In O4, I had to make myself stop. Even the supplemental stories were well crafted.

And this volume ties in nicely with Season 3 of the TV series. The characters are more consistent with the series, and the action fits nicely in between the cracks of the season. For Buffy fans, volume 4 is a must read.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Front Bed Expansion Complete

The Back of the Front

I didn’t have to add another course to the expanded front flowerbed, but it was a close call. Several stones ended up buried to the level of the grass, just above the high point of the grade. Keeping the grass out of the bed will require vigilance, but that is much less expensive than another course of stones.

Next project: tree trimming.

Friday’s Feast Returns

After a two-week “vacation,” the feast is back online.

Appetizer: When you drink soda/pop/coke, do you prefer to drink it from the bottle, a can, or after pouring it into a cup?
Yes.
Soup: What television show are you willing to stay up late to watch?
The Daily Show with John Stewart. I know that isn’t late for many people, but it is for me anymore. Also, I can usually make it through the opening segment (sometimes two) of The Colbert Report.
Salad: Name one person, place, or thing you think of as brilliant.
If I’m limited to one, I must choose Suna. Her command of languages always amazes me. I always wanted to learn languages, but I never did. Some even question my command of English.
Main Course: Would you be willing to work 4 10-hour days instead of 5 8-hour days in order to save gas?
I prefer to work four tens, regardless of the cost of gas.
Dessert: If you were a superhero, what would you call yourself?
The Incredibly Adequate Man. Watch me do mundane tasks within acceptable parameters.

Food Dreams

Last night I dreamed of food, breakfast foods in particular. Kolaches the size of my hand, fritters glistening with icing: all of the foods I love, but I wouldn’t let myself eat them. I left the little bakery and went to work someplace I didn’t recognize. Then I went back, and the little bakery had a for rent sign on the door. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

And the Wind Cried, “Wake Up!”

This is the culprit. The wind bangs the branches of this lovely live oak against the chimney and windows.

For the last two nights, we have had a lusty wind. It dances with the trees and brushes them against the house and chimney, making a god-awful noise. Sometimes it sounds as if it will rip the top of the house right off.

So after not sleeping well—I think too much evening caffeine may have had something to do with it—I made a trip to the home center and bought a new electric chainsaw and the stones I need to finish the front bed expansion.

I like the electrics. They are light weight and you don’t have to worry about starting them. Just keep ’em well oiled, and they pretty much take care of themselves.

One trick I learned from an old hand is to change out the cutter with the next smaller size. Since this one is a 16”, that means I will soon be purchasing a 14” bar and chain. While the saw will do well with the larger bar, it will shine with the smaller one.

Suna is supposed to find out today if we can borrow a ladder tall enough to get me on the roof to deal with the chimney sweeper. If not, I’ll get what I can. Anything will be quieter than what we have now.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Good Luck, Aaron

Photo of Aaron
Aaron White, our newly ordained former intern

Yesterday, our intern minister bade us farewell. It was his last sermon as an intern. I waited until today to blog about it so that I could say, “Thank you, Aaron. It has been a real privilege getting to know you while you finished your internship. You are a great speaker and your future is bright, especially in these uncertain times.”

The church hasn’t posted the sermon yet. When they do, I will link to it.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Wall Progress

I am making progress. Only the back remains, but I may have to add another course. I hope not.

I finished the front part of the expanded bed in the front yard. The back still needs doing. But since I had been acquiring some plants for the expansion, I decided to plant them.

The soil is very clay-y there, and I hope I don’t kill my lovelies, which consist of:

  • Some of the extra red flowering landscape tray we have been keeping in hanging baskets even though they are not suited to such an application
  • A lovely four-pack of New Guinea impatiens that I hope do well
  • Two of the pepper plants that have been surviving in the shady back yard but need more sun.

Some time this week or next weekend, I hope to finish the wall. There is enough money on a gift card of Suna’s to pay for the needed stones—unless I have to add another course.