Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cookout and Guitar Hero

Kelly and Michael (her friend from London / Jamaica) came over this afternoon to watch the World Cup Soccer finals.

Luckily, the match was on one of the local channels so Michael could watch it on the big TV in high definition.

We made a couple beer-up-the-butt chickens on the grill to show Michael how the crazy Americans eat.

After dinner I introduced him to another crazy American past time -- Guitar Hero Aerosmith.

By the end of the evening, Michael was a Rock Star.

Grandma Visits Wal-Mart and Garden All in One Day

It was a big outing for Grandma today. We took her to lunch at the OC Cafe and then to Wal-Mart to buy some sandals.

She was commenting on the flowers along the roadside as we drove through town so I asked if she'd like to stop by and see our garden.

She was up for it, so Bruce pushed her wheelchair through the back yard to the garden where she was amazed by all of the beauty.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Garage Sale Day

All year long I pile up unwanted odds and ends in a corner of our basement where they sit until the big neighborhood garage sale day.

I'm pretty ruthless when it comes to clearing out clutter and getting rid of it. And, when something has been downgraded to the unwanted pile, it's very unlikely that it will ever make it back into the house.

The only survivors from this year's sale were a VCR with about a dozen VHS tapes, a Hoover Spin Sweep and my first 35mm camera.

Everything else that didn't sell was either thrown in as a freebie to our last-minute shoppers or dropped off at Goodwill.

We made $1,600 from the sale and it went directly in our savings account. Dave Ramsey would be so proud.

There were two highlights of the garage sale.

The first was the little boy from across the street. He kept coming over to buy Bruce's computer games. He'd root through the box of games and carefully select one he wished to purchase. Then, he'd hand me the games and ask if any of them had blood. I wasn't sure why he was asking so I asked if he wanted games with blood or games without blood. He said that his mother wouldn't let him play with games that had blood.

I checked the back of the game boxes and approved the games that were rated "E" for everyone. The games were priced $2 each, but Bruce gave the boy a 50% discount.

The last time he came over, he selected two "E" games and said, "I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to have to pay you with pennies." Then, he reached into the side pocket of his cargo pants and started piling up pennies on my check-out counter. I scooped up the pennies and gave them all back with a smile.

Later a grandmother with her three little grandsons stopped by and I directed the boys to the 5-cent box and told them they could each select one item and it would be free.

One selected a Hawaiian lei, one selected a baseball cap and the smallest boy, who was maybe two years old, selected a little squishy ball (the kind you squeeze when you're stressed). He walked over to me and said, "Thank You."

I was impressed with the boys' parents for teaching them good manners at such a young age. Unlike the parents of the kids that demand candy on Halloween. Most can't even be bothered to say "Trick or Treat", let alone "Thank You."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Home For Old Sign

This old welcome sign has been in my garden for several years... just sitting there minding its own business, not bothering anyone.

But, after we had the new sprinklers installed, it kept getting knocked over by the water spray.

So, I moved it a bit closer to the shed. But then, we couldn't open the shed door all the way. So I shifted it a bit to the right. Then, it was too hard to get around it to hook and unhook the latch that keeps the shed door open when we use the tractor.

Now, it's right smack dab in the front of the garden. Not sure why I didn't put it here last year. It's actually the perfect spot.

If I could find something that looks similar to this, but in a burnished or dark brass type of finish, with splashes of green and brown, it would look perfect on the wall above my bed. I've held that spot on the wall open for three years now, looking for the perfect wall art. I know what I want is very specific and I'll probably never find it so maybe I'll have to make it myself somehow.

But, I'm sort of holding out hope because it took me five years to find the exact sofa I had imagined for my living room. You wouldn't guess that by looking at my sofa because its so nondescript, but it's exactly what I wanted.

GHA Shipped Today !!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Do my flowers miss me during the day as much as I miss them?

~~~ Today's rain showers perked up all of the flowers. ~~~

~~~ Patio Box Flowers ~~~
(Argyranthemum Frutescens, Comet Pink)

~~~ Container Garden ~~~

~~~ Fence decor remix. ~~~

~~~ Whoo Hoo! Tiny little jalapeƱos. ~~~

Chickens on County Road 22

I saw these chickens on my way to work today. Sort of unusual since they were in front of a house and it wasn't a farm house.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Today's Garden Tour

Can't wait for the Michiana Master Gardeners' Association Garden Walk.

In the mean time, I'm sure enjoying my morning and evening personal garden walks.

~~~ Wave® Petunias~~~

~~~ Bug ~~~
(I thought it was a Box Elder, but after some research, I'm not so sure.)

~~~ Delphinium ~~~

~~~ Thunbergia Alata ~~~
(Black Eyed Susan Vine)

Fence Embellishments

I've never been one to load up my yard and garden with kitchy decor.

But, the big blank fence was just begging for something.

Even though today is just the fourth day of summer, Kohl's has all of their outdoor products on 80% clearance.

That, along with the 15% MVC discount they sent me this week, they nearly paid me to take these new fence decorations home.

I may play around with the arrangements a bit more after I paint on the Thompson's Water Seal.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Stroll Through the Garden

I'm really liking this new Animoto video creation tool. Thanks for the tip, Lori.

The only part that bugs me is that it doesn't have a starting photo when the video isn't in play. So, tonight's test is exporting my Animoto video to You Tube and then embedding it in this blog.

It may be just the fuzziness in my eyes, but the You Tube version doesn't look as crisp as the Animoto video I posted last night.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What's Blooming in My Garden Today - Remix

Garden Fence

This weekend's project was fence installation.

The plan was to put the fence along the east properly line that runs between our back garden and the junk behind our neighbor's shed.

Menards delivered the six fence panels and seven 4x4 posts a couple of weeks ago and they've been sitting in our driveway just waiting their turn to come up on our list of landscaping projects.

We had two bags of gravel and seven 60 pound bags of cement to transport from the driveway to the back garden area.

Bruce had the brilliant idea to hitch the wagon up to the tractor and haul the supplies, rather than trying to carry them.

That was a huge labor saver.

Bruce is an absolute master post hole digger. He had to dig seven holes, each two feet deep.

When I looked down the first hole I was amazed that it was geometrically perfect with totally flat sides and bottom.

I've never been involved in a post hole digging project so I just assumed the hole would be sort of the shape of the post hole digger.

As the sous carpenter, my job was holding the posts to make sure they stayed level while Bruce added the quick set cement.

This is me, relaxing in the Adirondack chair admiring the (nearly) finished fence.

As soon as I get a few copper fence post caps, we'll cut off the tops of the posts to even them up with the fence and then we'll be finished.

All of our planning and measurements were based on a 6' high fence. We didn't even notice, until we brought the first fence panel back to the garden, it was only 5'4".

Next I'll have to fill in between the hostas and ferns with some red wood chip mulch.

I'm pretty sure that, if we had a swimming pool, I wouldn't sit around thinking up these landscape projects. I'd be too busy floating and soaking up the sun.

All You Can Eat Buffet

The critters came out in force for today's all you can eat buffet. Larry, Curly and Mo were first in line.
Larry starts his meal with a corn-on-the cob appetizer.

Curly, being the most physically fit of the group, goes for the bird seed upside down cake.

Here's Mo. If you look closely you can see that he's wearing his buffet eating stretchy pants and there's a little drool coming out of the corner of his mouth.

The duck was a bit upset that there was no fish on today's buffet.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Walgreens Coming to Osceola Area

CVS's new building, at the corner of Lincolnway and Bittersweet in Mishawaka, is coming along nicely.

Looks like they'll be finished before fall gets here.

The Walgreens employees in charge of selecting site locations have the world's easiest jobs.

All they have to do is find out where CVS is building and then go buy up the property across the street.

Elkhart Postal Carrier Goes All Electric

Saturday morning, as we were on our way to borrow a post hole digger from friend Rick, we came upon this All Electric Vehicle.

We thought it was pretty cool until we got through the light and saw that the car couldn't get going faster than 25mpg.

Then, the car pulled up to a mail box and dropped in some mail. So, it makes perfect sense. A postal delivery person doesn't need to go fast. And, I'm sure all of the stopping and starting and idling eats up a lot of gas.

Turns out the car is a Miles ZX440S, and sells for about $19K. The company is headquartered in Santa Monica, California. I believe the cars are manufactured in China.

Spike Cam

I sometimes wonder what Spike does while I'm at work.

I've considered setting up a web cam, but I suspect the show would be fairly boring.

For 7 hours and 45 minutes, the web cam would probably show me this view.

For the other 15 minutes, it would show something like this.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I Started a Fire

Perfect end to a beautiful day -- sitting around a fire with neighbors Bonnie and Dave, eating pizza and watching the season's first lightening bugs flitter about.

The last time I started a fire was at Girl Scout camp more years ago than I care to count.

Even with the sticks still damp from the new sprinklers, I was able to start a decent fire this evening.

I did cheat a bit. I poured little gasoline on the sticks and lit the pile with a propane torch. (Kids, don't try this at home.)

I was fully prepared to sacrifice my eyebrows to get the fire started, but luckily, it didn't come to that.

It's Now Safe to Drive Dragoon Trail at Night

The newly paved section of Dragoon Trail, from about Cedar to Beech Roads, now has stripes.

The fuzziness in this photo isn't from my camera being out of focus.

Looks like a bit of over spray. Quite nice nevertheless.

Is Your Life Worth More Than a Free Chicken Sandwich?

Around 11am today a random guy came into our office offering free chicken sandwiches. He asked our office manager how many people were in today and he went out to the trunk of his car and brought in chicken sandwiches for each of us.

Now, he was nicely dressed, but it wasn't like he was wearing a cow costume holding an "Eat Mor Chikin" sign.

So, how were we supposed to believe he was really from Chick-fil-A out promoting their catering services to businesses in the Michiana area???

Well, it was 11am, and I didn't eat breakfast, and my stomach was growling... but is a chicken sandwich from a random stranger worth risking my life over? What if he was playing "chicken" with us and had really poisoned one of the sandwiches? Would it be me that ate the prize or one of my co-workers?

I guess I could have taken the time to lookup the phone number for the Chik-fil-A restaurant and called them to see if, in fact, they did have an employee driving around with a trunkload of sandwiches. But, I didn't do that. Instead, I ate one of the free chicken sandwiches.

It was pretty good!

About a half hour later, some girl came up to our office's front door. I'd never seen her before, but I was hoping she was going to open her trunk and pull out a pie for our dessert. Turns out she was a co-worker's daughter and there was no pie.

Free Kittens

On my drive home tonight, I passed a hand-written sign that said "Free Kittens to GOOD HOMES only."

That got me wondering about their definition of "GOOD HOME". A random person, coming upon their sign, might stop their car, knock on their door and request a free kitten with the rational that they live in a very nice home. In fact, they have a home with five bedrooms, a kitchen with stainless steel appliances and wonderful landscaping.

Maybe they mean to say something more along the lines of "Free Kittens to a family who will take good care of them, including getting them fixed, feeding them, making sure they get their shots each year, taking care to ensure they don't get infested with fleas, and giving them plenty of love."

But then they would have needed a bigger sign. Perhaps they were short on cardboard the day they made the sign.

A bit down the road, I came across another hand-made sign that said "Free Kittens". I guess those people don't care if their kittens get a "good home".

In both cases, there are probably two different choices of sign verbiage that would be more accurate.

1) We're too lazy to get our cat fixed so we need to get rid of this season's litter of kittens. We really don't want to take them to the humane society because we're pretty sure they'll put them to sleep. At least if we give them away, we can console ourselves with the false hope that they will be well taken care of by some random stranger that just happens to be driving by this sign.

2) Another careless person dumped their pregnant cat here at our country home thinking that we'll take it in and care for it, and its kittens, because we have a nice home. Sure, we've fed them, but we're not willing to go the extra step to get the kittens fixed before we dump them on someone else. Why should we? They're not really ours anyway.

I did a Google search for Free Kittens after I got home and came across a website of a woman who is actually doing something when she comes across "Free Kitten" signs.

And, now I'm going to do some research to see if there's a low-cost spay/neuter program in our area. And, if there is, I'll print out some information about them and stop by the next "Free Kitten" sign I come across to see if maybe I can help help lessen the number of unwanted pets in this area. Okay, maybe I'll just leave the flyer in their mailbox. You never know how strangers are going to react to confrontation.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Rock!

Nothing new happening in the garden tonight. I finally pulled the giant daisy weeds and a few of those big weeds with the huge tap roots. Not sure what they really are, but I call them milk weeds. The stalks are large and hollow and when you break them, a milky juice comes out.

After the weed pulling fun, I visited a bit with neighbor Todd.
I had been worried about him because we haven't seen him around much and he never did get his veggie garden in.

I saved my extra tomato plants for him, but ended up giving them to my Master Gardener neighbor Kay after Todd disappeared.

Turns out he's moved in with his girlfriend and they're getting married on 08-08-08. Congrats, Todd! Good to see you so happy.

After the sun went down, I played Guitar Hero. Yea, I Rock!

Can't wait until Aerosmith Guitar Hero gets here. It comes out on June 29 and I've already pre-ordered it. But, with the Amazon super saver shipping, it may be a week after that before it arrives.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Is it a Frog or a Toad?

I was bending over to take a photo of the Azure Fairy Fleabane that started blooming in the mostly shade garden when, all of a sudden, something moved in the grass by my shoe.

As is my routine when startled, I sucked in a huge gasp (hard to describe, but I suck in air while making an odd noise -- anyone who hears it thinks I'm having a medical issue).

Then, I looked a bit closer to see what was moving through the grass. I've never seen anything like it. It looks like a common toad, but it's really bright green like a frog.

Tragedy in the Veggie Garden

Tonight's stroll through the veggie garden turned very sad when I was poking around the strawberries looking four our furry little chipmunk friend and saw him laying on his back, with flies coming out of his mouth.

I did some Googling on probably causes of death for cute little chipmunks, but apparently it's not a common enough occurrence to rank on the first few pages of Google search results.

Although I felt bad that the chipmunk's body was being defiled by flies and the miniature slugs, I wasn't about to pick him up to move him to a more appropriate final resting place.

That's the job of the man in our house. He gets to do all of the gross stuff:
  • dead animal removal
  • pumpkin goop grabbing
  • dog poo cleanup
In exchange, I'm in charge of spider removal. So, I guess I owe him one.

RIP cute little chipmunk. I hope you enjoyed the strawberries.

The pink spot on Bruce's shirt isn't a defect. It's from the flashlight I was pointing at him.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hilltop Strawberries on Dragoon Trail

I took Dragoon Trail from home today and saw several people picking strawberries at Hilltop near Blackberry Road.

Although their hours aren't posted, I think they're open from 7am until 7pm. Maybe it's 6 until 6, but it was 6:15 when I went by tonight and there were at least six cars in the lot.

We have so many strawberries in our garden that we've decided to share them with the slugs and the chipmunks.

When I picked some strawberries yesterday, I noticed little bite marks out of a few of them.

One tiny slug was still connected to one of the strawberries.

But, the bite marks are most likely the work of the cute little chipmunk that now lives in our veggie garden.

His house is right next to the whiskey barrel planter.

Sonic is Open in South Bend

Sonic has finally opened on Portage Avenue in South Bend. Actually, it opened yesterday (June 16), but I wasn't in the area so for me, it opened today.

There were about 40 cars lined up waiting to enter the Sonic parking lot. I parked next door, at the KFC, and walked up to the car-less patron ordering area. The old guy behind me in line was very confused by the whole process. He had parked across the street in the TCU parking lot and walked across. I showed him how the walk-up ordering system worked -- you press the big red "ORDER HERE" button on the menu box in the front of the restaurant. He asked me where you pay and I flashed him my debit card and showed him the slot. That was enough to push him over the edge. He let out a big moan and said, "What in the world is going on here??? What sort of Mickey Mouse place is this?" And, he turned and walked away.

After I ordered, I walked up to the big, waving Sonic cup and said, "Hi Sonic guy!" The cup slowly turned, scrunched into a scowl, and said, "I'm a girl."

Some of the Sonic car hops wear roller skates. The more coordinated food delivery staffers wear rollerblades.

I wonder if Sonic pays extra to have the Heinz Ketchup packets personalized or if they buy so much Ketchup that Heinz adds the Sonic name for free. The salt packet and the star mint packages were also personalized with the Sonic name.