28 June 2020

A Month!!!

We hope that all of you are keeping well and in reasonable health.

Yes, yes, it’s been a month. Sorry to those of you who worry. We’re all okay here. And for a couple of weeks, we were okay up in Maine, too!

The view of the lake from the door of the camp, in the middle of Maine.
The view of the lake from the door of the camp

Three days before we left for Maine, we learned that they had updated the rules for out-of-state visitors. If we could show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of arriving in Maine, we could forego the otherwise mandatory two week strict quarantine. We found a clinic, got a test each, and on Friday evening we got our negative test results. 12 hours later, we were on the road to Maine.

Lexi  (our chipuggle mutt) likes hanging out in Maine, too!
Lexi likes hanging out in Maine, too!

It was a lovely two weeks, the best run of weather we’ve had in our many trips up there. The fishing was fun, the catching was … sparce, at best. The best bit about not needing to quarantine is that we could spend time with Marcia’s sister. We didn’t do much in the way of tourist-ish stuff, out of an abundance of caution. But it was really quite relaxing.

The garden lives, that’s good, and I’ve weeded them out. The lawns are now mowed again. And I’m back to work, mostly remote as before, tomorrow morning.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Nick Bravo-Regules, 20, from Largo, Florida, who died on June 23, 2020, in Jordan while supporting operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, from a non-combat-related incident.

17 May 2020

Spring, huh?

So, since we last were here together, we had several more overnight freezes. Sadly, at least one of them was a surprise. So one night I didn’t tarp the garden beds, and everything died. Yup, all of it. So I started over. Rototilled again, raked it all out flat again, bought new plants again, and got ready to put them in the ground, again:

Two garden beds ready for planting... again. Tomatoes and peppers in ready for transplanting into the soil.
Two garden beds ready for planting… again.

We’re not due for anything below 48F in the next ten days, so I expect that we’re actually done with overnight frosts. (Famous last words). But the plants look good, and since I did that work yesterday, everything is still alive:

Plants in the ground
Plants in the ground

Right now I’ve just got a variety of tomatoes and peppers, since those are what I want most. I’ll probably pick up some herbs and some beans to go in, in the next few days.

Lexi the mutt at my office window (Lexi TV)
Lexi at my office window (Lexi TV)

While it remains spring-ish, Lexi likes watching “Lexi TV”, quivering and growling at the vicious bushy-tailed rats (squirrels) invading her back yard.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Christopher Wesley Curry, 23, from Terre Haute, Indiana, who died on May 4, 2020 in Erbil, Iraq, from a non-combat-related incident.

Marcia has been baking up a storm, and, well, I love it. I’m ordering some double doors to install in all the door frames, and getting pricing information on the necessary permits…. but it’s all delicious!

We continue, reasonably healthy, mostly home-bound, wondering what the idiots are going to say next.

The bright spot is that our state, in the process of putting off the primary, did so to ensure that this was a vote-by-mail election. We received our ballots, and our instructions in Spanish, completed and mailed them. Yesterday, the instructions in English arrived. Ah, well. We were able to figure it out. Pleased that unlike some Republican-led states, ours was sane enough to ensure that people didn’t have to stand in close proximity to each other to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Yay, Maryland!

Be safe, stay home as much as possible, mask and socially distance when you must be out. Please. If not for yourself, then for the people who love you and will miss you when you die of covid-19, with complications of politics and lack of sanity.

5 April 2020

Spring Chores

Turns out that the seasons roll by regardless of stay at home orders… Late last fall, during the cleanup, it was clear that the spruce that adorned the left side of the front yard was just about done.

The failing spruce

By February this year, there was no green left to it. This weekend: last rites were administered. Using the pole saw and the small electric chainsaw, I took the tree and both small shrubberies out, along with doing a fair bit of other spring front yard cleanup.

Today, my big hope was that the odd angle of lean was indicative of a shallow, shoddy root system. My hopes were fulfilled.

Stump removal

I first weeded out the bed, preserving the tiger lilies. Then I dug out stumps, starting with the two shrubs, then attacking the spruce stump. I trenched around that with the pickaxe, to a depth of about a foot, then started undercutting it. After a couple of hours of work just on this stump, I got a long 2×4 underneath one edge and broke it free of the remaining roots. Then I worked it up on it’s side onto a couple of short lengths, and was ready to knock the dirt out before hauling that off. I filled in the shallow hole and called it a day.

Our schedule remains the same – mostly home. I’ll go to the office for half a day this week, and on Wednesday there are two outings – in the morning, we’ll take the dog for the rest of her annual shots, then in the afternoon, we’ll go to pick up the groceries that we ordered on Friday.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class John David Randolph Hilty, 44, from Bowie, Maryland, who died on March 30, 2020 in Erbil, Iraq, of a non-combat related incident.

15 March 2020

Ides of March

Happy Birthday, Alex!

What’s new?

The good news is that we already practice social distancing a lot. Hope y’all can manage that, too! Wash your hands a lot, keep the people around you healthy by keeping yourself as isolated as is reasonable and possible.

We’re both healthy at this time, and we’ll do our best to keep it that way!

I did get the shopping done today, which took a while, since there were lines. I also roasted coffee.

Lexi

Relaxing:

Lexi the mutt relaxing on her back, on the sofa.
Lexi relaxing…

Winding Down

Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors:

  • Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo, 34, of Simi Valley, California died on March 8, 2020 while supporting Iraqi Security Forces in north central Iraq.
  • Capt. Moises A. Navas, 34, of Germantown, Maryland died on March 8, 2020 while supporting Iraqi Security Forces in north central Iraq.
  • Army Spc. Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias, 27, of Hanford, California died March 11, 2020, when his unit was engaged by enemy indirect fire at Camp Taji, Iraq.
  • Air Force Staff Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts, 28, of Owasso, Oklahoma, when his unit was engaged by enemy indirect fire at Camp Taji, Iraq.

17 February 2020

Catching Up

We had a lovely 3 day weekend hereabouts. We started a bit early with a pleasant evening at home for Valentine’s Day. This was followed by Marcia’s birthday. We relaxed, watched shows as she wanted, played a few games, and I “cooked” dinner, using some of the meatballs she’d made up earlier in the week. Then shopping and some chores on Sunday, and more relaxation today for the holiday. Tomorrow, back to work.

Not much else to report but for the seasonally inappropriate weather – it’s too damn warm. I’m going to have to start doing yardwork really soon unless we get back to some correctly freezing weather.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors:

  • Sgt. 1st Class Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28, of San Antonio, Texas, died on February 8, 2020 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations.
  • Sgt. 1st Class* Antonio Rey Rodriguez, 28, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, died on February 8, 2020 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations.
  • Spc. Branden Tyme Kimball, 21, from Central Point, Oregon, died on Feb. 12, 2020, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.
  • Pfc. Walter Lewark, 26, from Mountainair, New Mexico, died on Feb. 13, 2020, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, from a non-combat related incident.

5 February 2020

Winding Up

So, we’ve had a week that was somewhere between t-shirt and sweatshirt weather. Very weird for late January into early February. This is normally the core of snow season here just south of the Mason-Dixon line. But we’ve only been graced with a pittance of the white fluffy stuff so far this year. Upside – no shoveling yet. Downside – I might have to start doing outside spring work much, much earlier than I expected.

Entertainment

I’ve been reading … mostly Clarkesworld Magazine, and Neil’s related project, Forever Magazine. (Yes, yes … not HTTPS, I have to get on Neil’s case about that.) I changed how I support these projects by dropping the AMZN subs, and picking them up on Patreon. The wonderful original works in Clarkesworld are a joy. I’ve especially appreciated my broadened horizons, courtesy of the big push into translated speculative fiction that the magazine has made over the last couple of years.

On the visual side, we’ve added the CBS All Access streaming service to our repertoire for a while. And while we let a few of those tasty new Picard episodes pile up, we binged out the first season of Star Trek: Discovery. It’s awesome!

Lick-spittles and Cockroaches

It’s been a ▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋ ▋▋▋▋▋▋ and ▋▋▋▋▋ with ▋▋▋ ▋▋▋▋▋▋▋ ▋▋ ▋▋▋▋▋ in the Senate! If only those ▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋ ▋▋ ▋▋▋▋▋▋ ▋▋▋▋ ▋▋▋▋▋ while ▋▋▋▋ ▋▋▋▋▋▋ ▋▋▋▋▋▋ ▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋ ▋▋▋▋ in the eyesockets. Furthermore, ▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋ ▋▋▋▋ ▋▋▋▋▋ ▋ ▋▋▋▋ ▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋▋. You get my drift.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors:

  • Spc. Antonio I. Moore, 22, from Wilmington, N.C., died on January 24, 2020 in Deir ez Zor Province, Syria, during a rollover accident while conducting route clearing operations.
  • Lt. Col. Paul K. Voss, 46, of Yigo, Guam, died on January 27 in the crash of a Bombardier E-11A aircraft in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.
  • Capt. Ryan S. Phaneuf, 30, of Hudson, New Hampshire, died on January 27 in the crash of a Bombardier E-11A aircraft in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.

24 November 2019

Pizza Night

After shopping and cleaning house today, we had wonderful home-made pizza AND watched Chicken Run. Now, instead of being able to concentrate on the world-shaking revelations that were to appear in this space, all I can do is type sentences that run on and on without any appearance of termination in sight, if indeed such sentences as typed could be said to have visual acuity of any sort at all.

Disturbing

Nearly every damn political story I read. Disturbing. Politest word I can think of in the circumstances. I’ve got nothing else to say on the subject at this time.

2020 Race

Warren.

A Cute Dog

This is the cute Lexi dog we all need right now:

Lexi the chipuggle mutt, lap adjacent, getting belly scritches.
Lexi getting belly scritches

Winding Down

Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors:

  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, 33, from Tarrant, Texas.
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr., 25, from Keaau, Hawaii.

Both soldiers died on Nov. 20, 2019, in Logar Province, Afghanistan, when their helicopter crashed while providing security for troops on the ground.

11 November 2019

Honor to Our Veterans

The women and men who put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf get precious little of the respect and care that we should give them each day. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

Change Is

Some things change slowly, some so fast one hardly notices the thing itself as the blur as it goes by. A person I work with is moving on, after a lunatic number of years (by today’s standards), and I’m going to miss them a lot. No blur here, but a lot of individual moments that together are a big part of the most recent third of my working life.

Lexi Fix

Lexi the mutt managed to wind herself into Marcia's sweatshirt on the bed, and I'm getting a look when I catch her at it with the camera.
Lexi in a sweatshirt cave

In case you’d forgotten that we share our lives with this funny little rescue mutt, here’s another of her cold days tricks – climbing under a sweatshirt on the bed.

Winding Down

DoD reported no casualties in the last week, in a rare spot of good news these days.

3 November 2019

Take Two

I was four paragraphs into the first pass on this post when I managed to hit a stupid combination of keys on the Apple keyboard and moved backwards three links. Whoops, I thought, and went looking for the auto-saved draft. Um, not there? Sigh. Okay, take two – I wonder how much this iteration is going to vary from the last?

Fallen

Fall is finally, properly, here. Six weeks in, and we finally got two consecutive nights below freezing. We’re due for another frost tonight before it warms up just a shade. Also, for the first time, the snow icon made it into the long range forecast on my phone. Of course, “long range forecast” is just an effusive waste of characters when what you want to say is “lie.”

I got the outdoor water delivery systems winterized today. Yesterday, I repaired the motion detecting light outside the garage door. Wait, did I say “repair?” I mean replaced, with modifications. The old fixture wasn’t new when we bought this house in 2003. And it was hardwired. And it was positioned badly, in the far corner of the front of the garage, where it was partially blocked by the substantial crepe myrtle. Additionally, a moderate wind would use that tree to continuously fire the motion detection. So, due for work even before I learned that the plastics were going and one of the two light sockets was gone, on Hallowe’en evening.

In replacing the fixture, I moved it to front and center on the garage. I mounted a switch in the garage so that we could turn it off entirely without going to the breaker panel in the basement. And bonus – the LEDs draw 25 watts when active, as opposed to the dual 100 watt halogens that were continuously cycling in the elder unit.

Kitchen progress

Little progress, but: I’m going to be fabricating one new bank of cabinets whole, and I’ve got the measurements for those, so I can do some sketches and gin up a material’s list in prep for purchasing, then fabrication.

Bookish

I’ve been reading the Liaden Universe books from Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. I’d read some of them in the past, out of order. I now have ALL of the books (21 of them, I think), and I’m following one of the many suggested reading orders (this one’s from Baen, and probably originates with the authors, so there’s that. I like them a lot.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Nathaneil G. Irish, 23, of Billings, Montana, who died on Oct. 27, 2019, of a non-combat related incident at Camp Taji, Iraq.

22 September 2019

Last of Summer

According to the calendar, tomorrow is Fall. According to the forecast, Summer looks to be in an extended run. We did have two nights last week drop into the high 40’s overnight – but highs for the next 10 days are supposed to be in the mid- to high 80’s. So, summer, still. Unless, y’know, the forecasters are wrong. That would be so unusual!

Mysterious Absence

So, yeah … no post last week. I’ve got no explanation but sheer laziness. This weekend was a bit more of the same. We did make it out fishing at Cash Lake yesterday morning for a few hours. No fish, of course. But relaxing right up until I cast while twisting my torso. That gave me a muscular tweak under the lower left scapula that continues to vex me.

Reading

My read of the last week is the biographical Don’t Panic: Douglas Adams & the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by some bloke named Neil Gaiman. At the moment, it’s free for $AMZN Prime members. And it’s a jolly good read, full of stuff I knew about Adams and H2G2, and MUCH other stuff that I didn’t. Fun.

On dead trees, I’m most of the way through a long-delayed re-reading of Cliff Stoll’s The Cuckoo’s Egg. Good stuff if you like 80’s computers and tracking down a cracker with a penchant for military computers that have crappy security policies applied to them.

Winding down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, 40, from Greenbrier, Tennessee, who was killed in action on Sept. 16, 2019, by small arms fire when his unit was engaged in combat operations in Wardak Province, Afghanistan.