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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A goodbye, and a garden

Barbara Thompson’s dad died this morning. I had the honor of meeting this retired marine a few times, he was a kind bloke with a good sense of humor. Sad to see him go, but everything in its time. Goodbye, Dutch.

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The garden is progressing nicely, given the late spring. I’ve got tomato sets on nearly all the plants, the zucchini is starting to be productive, and I expect great things from the peppers and potatoes this year.

Bilbrey garden - June 20, 2013

Bilbrey garden – June 20, 2013

I got the lawns mowed after work, weeded a bit in the garden beds, and roasted some coffee this evening. Overall, a good day. Time to go, ciao!

Postal flowers

Last year, instead of installing annuals at the post box, I put in some perennials. Frankly, they weren’t stellar … but they didn’t die. And they’ve come up wonderfully this year:

Perennials by the post box

Perennials by the post box

Next year, I’ll put some more here and there, and see if I can cut down further on the planting of annuals. I spread some of the tiger lilies over to the blue spruce island left of the driveway, but something ate the tops off of those this year, grrrrr! Anyway, I just stopped in to show off the pretty. Ciao!

Garden doings…

I’ve been pretty good about weeding out the garden, while preserving volunteers for replanting around the beds. I’ve got three volunteer tomato plants and several peppers. I have no idea what specific variety of either is likely to result … but yummy is as yummy does. Here’s the garden in progress, from a couple of days ago:

Garden on 30 May 2013

Garden on 30 May 2013

As I write this, the wind is up, lightning all around, and rain the size of small hatchbacks is falling. The good news is that the garden is young. Big wind when the plants are large tends to blow things over, or even out of the raised beds altogether. The rain is good, though – the lawns are thirsty.

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

  • Spc. Christopher R. Drake, 20, of Tickfaw, Louisiana, died May 26, in Bagram, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his vehicle was attacked with a rocket propelled grenade.
  • Staff Sgt. Joe A. Nunezrodriguez, 29, of Pasadena, Texas, died May 30, in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.

Memorial Day Weekend

A three day chore marathon, closing with the annual remembrance of those lost to us in active military service. I choose to be a bit more OCD about my duty to honor our losses. (Or, as @xeni noted the other day on twitter, CDO, because it SHOULD be alphabetized!)

Saturday: I got the table apron and legs completed and assembled:

Table apron and legs assembled

Table apron and legs assembled

Next on Saturday, but without any photographic evidence at this time, I got our hanging baskets populated and hung up on the front porch. The watering outlets are in the baskets, but that isn’t set up with a supply yet, that’s held for Monday.

Final Saturday task – I applied gel stain to both surfaces of the cherry table top, to even out the look of the wood:

Staining the cherry top

Staining the cherry top

Sunday was a power run: I did the shopping, then applied a first coat of polyurethane to the bottom of the table. I mowed the lawns, with a dog walk as the halftime show. I evened out the first coat of poly with #0000 steel wool and a bit of 320 grit sandpaper, vacuumed, cleaned, and dried, then applied a second coat of poly. I watered and weeded out back, and took a little break. I then prep’d the bottom one more time, and applied a third coat of poly. That’ll cure overnight, and I’ll flip the work piece and start coating the top surface tomorrow. That and watering system setup will fill my Memorial Day, as will my thoughts of our fallen warriors…

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Our condolences to the families, friends, and the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team on the deaths of these fallen warriors:

  • Sgt. Eugene M Aguon, 23, of Mangilao, Guam, died May 16, in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with a vehicle borne improvised explosive device.
  • Spc. Dwayne W. Flores, 22, of Sinajana, Guam, died May 16, in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with a vehicle borne improvised explosive device.

 

Aaaaargh! Frost!

What happens when you put vegetables into your garden on the twelfth of May? You get a frost on the fourteenth of May, that’s what!

Frost impact 2013MAY14

Frost impact 2013MAY14

I lost just a few plants, not all of them … but seriously?