This is my belly …

Would you scratch it for me? Lexi is *such* an attention hound.

Would you scratch it for me?

I’d trade her in on a working dog, especially one that does house-cleaning. But Lexi is so darned cute.

*      *      *

Today, shopping, and more yardwork. I finished dismantling and bagging the junk on the concrete pad. I’ll arrange for a “large item” pickup from the trash provider sometime later this week. Very happy to have that done. I also dressed all of the garden beds with manure and leaf compost… and turned over three of them. I’ll knock out the rest later this week. Overall, I managed about 12 hours of yardwork, and that pleases me.

Preparing for veggies

Preparing for veggies

*      *      *

In the last week, DoD reported no casualties.

Spring Chores

Spring cleaning extends to the outside of the house, too. I had a pile of stuff from the dismantling and rebuilding of the front fence last fall.

Front Fence Demo Pile

Front Fence Demo Pile

Y’see, by the time the fence had been rebuilt and the stain on the front-facing portions of the fence … well, ice and rain were falling out of the sky. So I left the pile for Spring. Now, it’s the time, so I took that pile, and amended my mulching/composting box. Now it looks like this:

 

Mulching/Composting box

Mulching/Composting box

I constructed that atop the old, low (10″) box I’d previously used for the purpose. Now it looks like it has been here all along, since the fencing material used … has been. I’m pleased with the re-use of the material. However, all that was left has to go. So I broke it down and bagged it, leaving the space empty:

Concrete pad much cleaner

Concrete pad much cleaner

At which point, broken but still dragging myself around, I remembered that I’d had a thousand or so pounds of bagged goods delivered into the driveway, and that needed moving in and stacking until I get around to working the garden beds and dressing the front beds. So I got out the wheelbarrow, and moved all the stuff in. Um, yay?

Bagged red mulch, leaf compost, manure compost.

Bagged red mulch, leaf compost, manure compost.

I’m rather tired now. I think I’ll take the evening off … except for remote work: system patching tonight at 10. Ciao!

Sprung

At least I think Spring has sprung. Of course, there was frost on the grass and rooftops this morning, and we have two more of those mornings in the forecast. But I did do some significant yardwork yesterday, clearing the winter debris and die-off from the front yard. I also did the early Spring fertilizing on the lawns.

Also accomplished: not too damn much. I finished playing Bioshock Infinite, which was fun, even though I saw the ending coming from about a million miles away. Fun game, good story. Nice drive by on Rapture, right near the end, too.

In celebration of TableTop Day yesterday, we played Scrabble ™ in the evening. Herself came very close to beating me both times. Lexi helped, too:

Lexi helps with Scrabble

Lexi helps with Scrabble

*      *      *

After  a wonderful month and a day without a casualty, DoD reported on April 4 that Capt. James E. Chaffin III, 27, of West Columbia, S.C., died April 1, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of a non-combat related incident. Our condolences to his family and friends.

Time Bandits

They’ve been, and gone, and an hour of my life has been stolen from me. Worse yet, I had patching duties this morning early, and the vague worry about over-sleeping meant I actually slept very little. Sigh.

However, it was seasonably warm here this weekend: mid-50’s yesterday, high 40’s today, so I wore shorts all weekend, yay! Walking the dog past shrinking piles of snow while wearing shorts made me unreasonably happy. I also made an early start in the garden: I turned over one bed, and planted snow peas. Just in time for possibly more snow, Wednesday night into Thursday. Sigh.

Speaking of that, the Tuesday morning following last Monday’s Snow Day it got down to a brisk 0°F by the time I was driving into work, at about 0630. Wowser! New low records set all over the place in MD. Saves shaving though, I just wander around outside for a bit, then break the whiskers off flush with the skin. Sigh.

*      *      *

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

  • Lance Cpl. Caleb L. Erickson, 20, of Waseca, Minnesota, died Feb. 28, while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • Master Sgt. David L. Poirier, 52, of North Smithfield, Rhode Island, died Feb. 28, from a non-combat related incident.

Fall II = Summer?

Hmmm. Six plus hours working in the yard yesterday, and nearly broken as a result. Why? It was nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit  out. I was slamming the H2O and got through it. The garden beds are cleared, turned and mulched with leaves harvested from the front yard:

Gardens put to bed before winter

Gardens put to bed before winter

After that was done, I mowed both front and back.

Today I got the shopping done, then roasted coffee and cut my hair, and wrapped the day’s chores by washing the car. That’ll bring rain. I should probably wash the car more often if it does, since we’ve had only about 3/4″ or so since late June.

*      *      *

Many of the evenings recently, I’ve been working my way through Michael Jang’s RHCSA/RHCE certification study guide. While I’ve been using Linux for a long time – about 18 years now – there’s lots of features that I don’t know because I don’t use them. I want to know more both because I might learn something actually useful in my day-to-day work, and because the certification will be useful to the business when it comes to proposal responses and such. Right now I’m about a quarter of the way through the book. I’m taking my time and doing even the stuff that seems obvious on the face of it, because there are likely details I’ll want to grok. Michael Jang knows his stuff and communicates it well – Recommended!

My other connection to Michael Jang is this book: Linux Transfer for Windows Network Admins: A Roadmap for Building a Linux File Server. You can see that while Michael is listed on the cover, Amazon still lists me as the author of the book. I was in negotiations to write that, but declined to sign a contract that required me to write the book on spec with no advance. I hope the book did well for Michael.

*      *      *

I have no condolences to offer for fallen warriors this week, as DoD hasn’t claimed any casualties in the last week. It’s possible that reporting is sluggish due to staffing issues during the US Government shutdown. But let us hope for the best – that there were no US casualties to report in the last week.

 

Fall Yard Work

Yesterday I worked in the front yard, cleaning out some stuff from the beds, giving all the shrubs a haircut, and mowing the grass. I found this bird’s nest while I pruned the forsythia, and want to know if there’s a recipe. This isn’t, I think, the right type for bird’s nest soup. To give you a sense of scale, this would comfortably hold but one golf ball…

Bird's Nest. Soup?

Bird’s Nest. Soup?

Today, I worked in the back yard. I pulled out about 10 pounds of potatoes, a couple of shopping bags full of peppers … and that’s about all she wrote for this garden. Three of the beds are cleaned out, four left to go. I had the iPhone propped up on the fence playing me music while I wielded the shovel. After a while, I noticed the music, it was gone. This is the iPhone’s excuse:

iPhone's gotta fever!

iPhone’s gotta fever!

So, rule of thumb – don’t leave the phone sitting in the sun, it’s not a happy place.

*      *      *

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

  • Staff Sgt. Liam J. Nevins, 32, of Denver, Colorado, died Sept. 21, at Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire while conducting range training in Gardez, Paktia Province, Afghanistan.
  • Staff Sgt. Timothy R. McGill, 30, of Ramsey, New Jersey, died Sept. 21, at Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire while conducting range training in Gardez, Paktia Province, Afghanistan.
  • Lt. Cmdr. Landon L. Jones, 35, of Lompoc, California, died Sept. 22, as a result of an MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter crash while operating in the central Red Sea.
  • Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan S. Gibson, 32, of Aurora, Oregon, died Sept. 22, as a result of an MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter crash while operating in the central Red Sea.
  • Staff Sgt. Thomas A. Baysore, Jr., 31, of Milton, Pennsylvania, died Sept. 26, in Paktya Province, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire during combat operations.

Garden bonanza

Garden bonanza!

Garden bonanza!

Serrano and habañero peppers, lots of several different types of tomato, a few cucumbers, and a bunch of potatoes – all this came out of the garden this evening. Some of that stack became first salsa of the season: Tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro from the garden, yellow onion and a bit of garlic from the store: Yum! Oh, yeah … the salsa became dinner. I’m likely to regret that, but it was super delicious.

It ain’t a Dry Heat.

It’s been, finally, much like a DC summer for the last couple of weeks. The rain stopped coming, except for pop-up thunderstorms that miss us, north or south. Heat and humidity are the order of the day, every day. We were supposed to have a front through last night, and cooler temps behind, but there was no rain for us, and it was 90+ by nine in the morning.

However, finally, some significant amounts of tomatoes are coming out of the garden (though mostly still cherry, but you won’t hear me complain, they’re yummy):

Cherry tomato haul

Cherry tomato haul

A couple of other tomatoes, some cucumbers, and a few peppers round out the day.

Most of the last week, outside of work, has been a march to get the finishes on the two cabinets. I think I’m done with those … but I have a problem. I used up the last of an old batch of poly on the drawer/door fronts. A new can of poly (same brand and type, but new) is going on the carcasses. Sadly, the fronts are a LOT yellower. Frantically different. I’m either going to have to live with it, or strip the finishes and start over. Right now, my vote is “live with it.” If I change my mind later, I’ll take the drawer fronts and door off, and redo them. Later. Much later.

*      *      *

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

Lance Cpl. Benjamin W. Tuttle, 19, of Gentry, Arkansas, died July 14 at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center following a medical evacuation from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), during a scheduled port visit in the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

Staff Sgt. Sonny C. Zimmerman, 25, of Waynesfield, Ohio, died July 16, in Mushaka, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was attacked by a rocket propelled grenade.

Summer Doldrums

The heat and humidity have properly settled in, here in the formerly malarial DC Metro area. I’m trying not to let it slow me down. I took a few hours off work on Friday, and spent most of them working in the wood shop. I final-sanded all of the carcasses, drawer boxes, and fronts. Then I hauled all of those out into the “junk” area just outside my woodshop, so that I could clean the shop up.

Carcasses and boxes

Carcasses and boxes

I always build for a while, then clean massively before starting to apply finishes. It’s a bit of a pain, but it keeps the shop cleaner than it might otherwise be. I draped the saw, and started painting the drawer/door fronts.

Saturday, I continued with the finishing at intervals, but spent most of the morning and early afternoon hours doing yardwork – weeding and lawns, front and back. The best news from that angle? Starting to be some proper joy in the back yard, Tomatoes!

Finally: 2013 Tomatoes

Finally: 2013 Tomatoes

With such a late start to the planting this year, I guess I’m not surprised that we’re only getting tomatoes out starting in mid-July … but only cherry tomatoes so far, not even a hint of red in anything big enough to start making salsa or red sauce with. Sad face. By evening, we had a big storm blow through, and when it was done, we didn’t have phone or Internet service. TV, yes. Same pipe for all three, but #WTF! A long phone call and a bunch of power-cycle events later, the VZ bloke determined a truck roll was necessary, but that wouldn’t be happening until Monday.

Hmmmm. I’m on call, AND I have weekend production system patching that needs doing! I sloughed off the on call status to my boss, and shed Saturday night’s patch and reboot onto the junior admin. I then set my alarm for 0615, and was at work by 0700 this morning, patching the rest of the systems that needed attention. Back home, a spot of breakfast, then off to the shopping. By the time I was home again, and down applying coats of poly in the shop, when I heard the house phone ring. Huh? I looked in my wiring closet, and the WAN link was back on my router. I called. VZ didn’t have an explanation for how they were able to remotely fix a problem that had needed a truck roll twelve hours before … but I’m just happy to have comms and connectivity back.

The balance of today was spent cooking a big pot of chili (serrano and habanero chilies from the garden for that), and alternately sanding then overcoating with poly for the drawer/door fronts.

Finishing up door/drawer fronts

Finishing up door/drawer fronts

I still have to distress those, and apply a bit of tactical staining, but they’re nearly done. By Tuesday I should be able to start applying finish to the boxes, and those don’t need a lot. It’s times like this that I wish I had enough room for a spray booth.

*      *      *

In yet more pleasant news, I have no new casualty reports to pass on from the DoD news release site. Still, it’s a good moment to stop and think about the dedication and resolve that our fighting men and women out at the pointy end of the stick display as they face the world on our behalf. You do us proud!

Sad Zucchini

Sad Zucchini

Sad Zucchini

Yesterday that plant was FINE! Today, not so much, and I can’t tell why. Sigh. And it’s too wet (rain every day, nearly) which makes the tomatoes unhappy.