9 August 2020

Fishy Business

The fish jigsaw art piece featured recently is now done and on the wall. I put on a couple of coats of clear matte water-based polyurethane on the back to seal it, and four coats front and sides. After the first coats, I used some 220 grit on the wood surfaces to knock down the nibs, and gently with some single ought steel wool for the face of the puzzle, just to give a bit of bite for the ensuing coat. All the other coats were followed by a light pass with the steel wool. Here it is on the wall in the master…

A fishy jigsaw puzzle mounted on wood, on the wall.
A fishy puzzle on the wall

Gardens

In the front yard, everything remains green. That’s undoubtedly due to the unusually consistent and high amounts of mid-summer rainfall. A usual July and August pattern yields the occasional thunderstorm, which retains the power to terrify the dog, but drops just a couple of tenths of an inch, when it doesn’t miss us altogether. But we’ve had some good storms come through over the last month, for a total of 9″+ measured on the backyard meter here. And we haven’t had a week without at least one good soaking.

Two major effects there – first is that the lawns, which have usually gone a bit brownish and less enthusiastic in their growth have remained green and chugging right along generating requirements for mowage. Second, the tiger lillies, which usually are blooming in the first days of July, then done and gone by just past mid-July, were epic this year. We still had blossoms on the tops of the lilies in the last week.

Tiger lilies in the front yard

In the back yard, sadly, the news isn’t as good. After losing all of my first plantings to frost in late April, most of the second plantings have failed due to rust. So while tomatoes were produced, they are sickly and not really edible. Two exceptions to the rule – a pair of plants producing small roma tomatoes, planted in the other bed with the peppers, are thriving. I think they came from a different wholesale nursery than the others. Ah, well. So we have peppers and some tomatoes – so a bit of salsa, then.

Tomatoes and peppers harvested from the back garden

Other News

I’m waiting to hear back from La-Z-Boy, we have a broken mechanism in the Gibson recliner we bought a decade ago. They offer lifetime warranty on reclining mechanism parts, so it’s just a nominal shipping/handling charge to get parts. Good news: I have the tools and ability to repair it myself, given parts. Actually, had I a machine shop, rather than a wood shop, I probably could have bought some raw stock and made replacement parts myself. But I don’t.

Work continues busy, which is a good thing. I continue to shop for groceries sporadically, at 10-14 day intervals, as we try to minimize our outside contacts while we wait for Big Pharma to figure out how to overcharge us for the vaccine(s) we’re paying them (as taxpayers) to develop.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Bryan Cooper Mount, 25, from St. George, Utah, who died as the result of a vehicle rollover accident while conducting reconnaissance operations on July 21, 2020, in Eastern Syria.

19 July 2020

Almost Caught Up

The last two weekends have been full of chores, catching up on the early summer yard suffering. Temperatures had been reasonable, and there’d been a fair bit of rain during our absence. That meant that lawns, weeds, everything was growing like gangbusters. But I’m almost caught up. Some of the tomato plants are starting to produce, as are most of the pepper plants. Others of the tomatoes don’t look entirely … enthusiastic about the ONE job they have this summer.

Work is ongoing for me. I’m still going into the office once a week for a weekly process related to backup that requires hands on site, as well as once a month for a printing process that has a bit of complexity, and tight deadlines. So, for me, that’s Monday and Tuesday of this week.

Additionally, I’ve got a full plate of online trainings and a couple of exams to knock out in the next month to keep my certifications in top form. So, there’s that.

Art Project

Today, after the bi-weekly shopping, I went down to the basement to work on our latest art installation. Months ago, Marcia assembled a fish jigsaw puzzle, and was entranced. She wanted it mounted in some way, to hang on the wall. She applied some form of mod podge to the puzzle itself, to make it robust enough to adhere to a backing. It was my job to come up with the backing.

Weeks ago, I assembled a collection of old southern pine boards into a backing, per Marcia’s specifications. Today, I did the masking:

The puzzle backing display, masked for adhesive

Once masked, I sprayed the clear area of the backing boards, and the back of the puzzle with 3M Type 77 spray adhesive, and waited a few minutes to let it set up to a high tack.

With a few dowels laid across the boards to suspend the puzzle near, but above the backing, I positioned the puzzle, and then started to adhere it to the backing, starting from the bottom, then moving towards the top, removing dowels as I went.

Finally the masking is removed, and the whole is revealed:

Puzzle firmly on board

Marcia’s happy with it, which means that I am, too. I’ll give the adhesives a couple of days to off-gas, then we’ll apply two or three coats of matte polyurethane. Finally, we’ll figure out where to hang it in the house.

Winding Down

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

  • Spc. Vincent Sebastian Ibarria, 21, from San Antonio, Texas, died as the result of a vehicle rollover accident, on July 3, 2020, in Farah, Afghanistan.
  • Pfc. Alexander Blake Klass, 20, from Willamina, Oregon, died as the result of a non-combat related incident, on July 4, 2020, at Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo.
  • 1st Lt. Joseph Trent Allbaugh, 24, from Folsom, California, died as the result of a non-combat-related incident, on July 12, 2020, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

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.