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Showing posts with label spring. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spring. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 No comments

The Dresser Purge

In the brief two years I was on my own, I concluded 15 changes of clothes was the ideal number. It let me do laundry every two weeks, with one extra pair just in case I had to postpone laundry day.

Clothes accumulate, like everything else, and these days I have a lot more than 15 changes. And somehow, laundry day is twice a week—actually, that makes sense. Four people in FAR Manor means four times the laundry, right?

After the Great Closet Purge, I started putting out of season clothes in a storage bin I kept in the closet, to relieve pressure on the bulging dresser. This worked for a while.

De-bulging the dresser
But the warm weather got to Sector 706 couple weeks ago, and I got the bin out to swap stuff around. Being about 35 pounds lighter than last year, I tried on shorts… and if I could pull them off without undoing them, and half of them fit the description, they began the purge pile. Then I tried shorts that wintered over in the dresser (because the bin was crammed full). All in all, I shed eight pairs of shorts, including one that still had tags on it. There were also eight pairs of swimsuits between the bin and dresser… where did they all come from? I decided three pairs was plenty, and added the rest to the purge pile. I got the now-too-big pants out of the closet and tossed them on.

Then came the T-shirts. I weeded them out, and finally the purge filled a large garbage bag. Except for the three remaining swimsuits, my bottom dresser drawer was empty and the other drawers had headroom. And there was plenty of room for the winter clothes in the bin. But I think the shirts in my closet have decompressed, because now it feels as packed as before. I should probably weed them out again; if I lose a few more pounds, I might be able to go from XL to L.

I still have way more than 15 changes of clothes. Even with more frequent laundry, I probably don’t need to cut down to 8 or 10, though.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019 No comments

Charlie, soccer, and a few mini-rants

With a new car in the garage—a 2019 Kia Soul EX—I now have that critical extra seat to take both Mason and Charlie places. I still have the Miata, but I won’t be putting all the miles on it anymore. Of course, that means I “get” to take Charlie to Mason’s soccer practices… which means I don’t get to sit and chat with the other soccer dads quite so much.

The upside is, we bring Charlie his own soccer ball, find an empty nearby field, and let him wear himself out dribbling the ball around. He was, despite his best efforts, completely zorched when we got home tonight.

He’s not terrible at ball control, which isn’t something you can say about many U8 or even some U10 players. His throw-in technique is better than half the players in Mason’s U10 league—ball overhead, both feet planted, no coach could ask for more. His birthday was 8 days past the cut-off for “U4 mini-league” this spring, but I’ll sign him up in the fall. It’ll be hilarious, watching a bunch of 3 year olds swarming the soccer ball… or sitting in the grass and playing in the dirt… (BTW, that’s Mason wearing the red/orange shirt in the background, flailing his arms. He scored a personal-record five goals in last Saturday’s game, although I only saw three because I was busy trying to keep Charlie from bolting onto the field.)

Mini-rant #1: How to get me to sign up for auto-pay
Somehow or another, I missed setting up the payment for last month’s cellphone bill. In a highly uncharacteristic move for AT&T, they didn’t immediately send me a “hey, pay up” email, text, or anything else. I had this nagging “did I pay them?” thing going on, but figured they would let me know if I hadn’t. So I go online to pay this month’s bill, and find the bill is about double what it usually should be. Whatever, I thought, and clicked “Pay My Bill.”

The website immediately started grinding, trying to get its act together, but enough time went by for it to pop up a “hey, are you still there?” notification. I gave up, figuring it was just a temporary glitch. (AT&T’s “up”dated website is gobs slower and far less responsive than the old one, BTW.) Then they had the nerve to pop up a “how are we doing?” notification. I let them know, in spades, then closed the tab. Trying again this evening gave me the same results. I finally went to pay it over the phone using the convenient *729 number. It asked me if I wanted to set up auto-pay… and yeah, why not? Most of my other monthly bills are on autopilot now.

So that’s how to get me to sign up for auto-pay. Conveniently forget to tell me I let one slip, then hose up your website to the point that I can’t get things caught up when I find out.

Mini-rant #2: When auto-pay gives you an Epic FAIL
And then, there’s the credit union’s credit card. I happened to be home last week one afternoon, and the home phone rang. The caller ID read CARSERVICES. Figuring this was a telespammer selling extended warranties, I answered to tie up the phone line (the longer you keep those @$$#0|3$ on the line, the less time they have to bother someone else). To my surprise, it was the credit union, wondering why I hadn’t paid my credit card balance.

“Huh?” I asked. “I had auto-pay set up.”

“Did you pay off the balance?” (I had, two months prior.) “If you pay off the balance, auto-pay automatically cancels.”


I happened to have the credit union website up on my computer at the moment, so I set up an immediate transfer and all was well. Except that I was miffed about auto-pay getting canceled without so much as a “good job, dude, and sayonara” message. Unlike mini-rant #1, I hadn’t forgotten anything—just ASSumed it was taken care of. The other credit cards I have on auto-pay just don’t transfer anything if I haven’t put anything on them, or pay off the balance if it’s less than what I set up on a monthly basis. There’s always a joker in the deck.

Mini-rant #3: Taxing taxes
Unlike many people, I don’t mind paying taxes. They keep the roads paved, provide food and healthcare to (not enough of) those who need it, run schools, and keep essential emergency services going. Are there things I wish they would do instead of other things I wish they wouldn’t? Oh heck yes. But overall, it’s better to contribute to the general welfare and reap the benefits. If you want to see what happens when you don’t have taxes, spend a few months in Somalia.

Anyway. I’ve been pretty good about getting the federal/state tax returns done in recent years, usually in late February or early March. This year was different, through no fault of my own for a change. We got our W-2s (as usual) right at the end of the January 31st deadline… but before I could grab the tax software and get to work, I got an email from work. In essence, it said, “the payroll company screwed up the W-2s, and we’ll get fixes to you ASAP.”

Weeks went by, and then months, without fixes. Some of us would email HR on occasion, and get the same response: “they haven’t fixed it yet, we’ll let you know.”

FINALLY, in the first week of April, they rolled out the fixes. It just so happened that I was out of town that week, so it was the week after before I could do anything about it. The wife and I both have business stuff to deal with, so it’s not just a matter of slapping down a few numbers and sending it off. Fortunately, it turns out the IRS has a way of filing for an extension online… and I wasn’t the only one who was up against the gun. The father in law needed some extra time as well.

With any luck, I’ll be able to finish up this weekend. Even with all the games Ch*mp played with withholding, there should be a refund.

Sound off!
What’s your rant du jour? Or maybe you have a new car you want to tell me about? :) Drop a comment, I love 'em.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018 3 comments

Charlie Talks to the Birds

I had Charlie out in the gazebo Sunday evening, because he likes to be outside and I wanted him to see the low beach chair I found in the garage for him. He saw it, gave me a big grin, and sat in it for a long time.

Soon enough, he got up and played on his slide a little… then he heard the birds. They chirped, he squeaked… and I was thinking, “Is he doing what I think he’s doing?” Yup. I got video. You might have to turn the sound up a little; I boosted it as much as I could, though.

Sometimes, the normal FAR Manor weird gets delightfully weird…

Monday, April 30, 2018 3 comments

Weekend Roundup

Most of Mason’s soccer games are at the local park, but each season they have two or three out of town matches. Saturday’s game was up in Towns County, pretty close to the North Carolina border.

I had Maps plot a course, which skirted Helen (probably very busy on a warm spring weekend) and took us up GA75 toward Hiawassee. We put the top down and I thrashed the Miata up that winding mountain road, a very enjoyable trip once the passing lane opened up and I got past the slowpokes.

Our destination was Foster Park, on Foster Road. Fortunately, Mason wanted to leave early, because Maps treated us to one of its rare hiccups, finding us a 1.5-lane Foster Rd. that ended in a church parking lot. After turning around and driving right past the place we actually wanted, I pulled up Google Maps and got the right directions. (I’ve had Google Maps totally fail as well, which is a good reason to have both.) The upshot was, we got there in plenty of time.

There’s not much to be said about the game itself. Mason took the goalie position for the second half, and only allowed one to get past him (which was pretty good because his teammates were offering little to no defense, and not a whole lot of offense). Since the game started at 4:30pm, I figured we’d find a place to eat there before coming back home—and when the coach texted all of us to welcome us to her alma mater (Young Harris College), I figured she would know a good place. Her son is Mason’s best friend, except for the matter of this one girl (c’mon, they’re all 8!), so hanging out after the game was a no-brainer.

Supper, then home. Maps knows where I live, and helpfully plotted a nice set of backroads. We went down Track Rock Rd, where some of my relatives once lived, and then thrashed the Miata down US19/129 before heading home. Despite having only all-season radials, I never felt like we were going to spin out or anything… so maybe I wasn’t pushing it that hard after all. We only had a couple of tire chirps and one squeal, which was probably because I was on the paint on the inside of a right-hander. It got chilly enough that Mason (who is even more of a top-down fiend than me) was ready to put the top up early on in the drive home, but we did keep the windows down. Definitely a case of the journey being more important than the destination..

And there was evening and morning, another day.

Sunday after church, the wife suggested we take the boys to the park after lunch. She couldn’t stay past lunch, but I figured Mason and Charlie would have a pretty good time. As it turned out, I was right. Mason alternated between the jungle gym and riding his bicycle in the parking lot.

As for Charlie, he enjoyed the swings. He liked the slides. But the big attraction was the large fenced-in playground space. He spent most of his time running loose, and all I had to do was follow him around and make sure he stayed out of the one muddy spot under the big-kid swings. His random sort-of orbit would occasionally take him to the picnic table, where I had left his sippy and diaper bag, and he would guzzle some lemonade before taking off anew. At one point, a bunch of girls started screaming, and Charlie turned around and joined in. If you heard a chorus of Joyous Ear-Splitting Shrieks™ over the weekend, that was probably them.

Of course, like Mason at that age, he generated an Atomic Diaper. I just laid him on the picnic table and took care of it. (Mason, despite being the same age I was when I first changed an Atomic Diaper, has not worked up the nerve to try. Kids these days, y'know?)

At last, the wife returned from her errands. To my surprise, both Mason and Charlie put up no fuss about going home. I figured, in Charlie’s case at least, he had worn himself out with all the running and would zorch out pretty quick. No such luck—he was wound up, and it was closer to 10pm before he finally gave up for the night.

Looking at the extended forecast, spring has finally chased the last vestiges of winter back to the Arctic. The sun is shining, birds are singing… and I got video of Charlie talking back to the birds. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 22, 2018 2 comments

Back in the Saddle

Mason got a mountain bike a while back, and lately he’s wanted to… well, go mountain biking. Imagine.

Raleigh M-60… 1998?
Well, gee. I have a mountain bike, too. It has even been featured on this blog in the past, riding exotic routes like the Pinellas Trail or the Silver Comet Trail.

I hadn’t ridden it much in the last few years, and even less so after Charlie and the knee replacement. But it has been in the dry garage, and even moved around from time to time. It was a gorgeous weekend—we were all running around outside with shorts—and Charlie wore himself out riding a push-truck on the driveway. After he went down for a nap, at Mason’s incessant urging, I rolled the Raleigh out into the sunlight along with its air pump, a few tools, and the tires.

Off with the on-road,
On with the off-road!
The tires, you say? Yup. It came with a pair of off-road tires, with an aggressive tread that made it sound like an old pickup truck when riding on pavement. It turned out I rode a lot more on pavement than off, especially when The Boy and Daughter Dearest were old enough to ride on the roads. So I bought a pair of hybrid tires, swapped them on, and hung up the knobbies for later.

Later, it turned out, was last weekend. As Mason watched with great fascination, I pulled the wheels off, swapped the road tires for the knobbies, then hung the road tires up. This was made easier by dint of the tires being quite flat. Fortunately, the inner tubes held air when I pumped them back up. We took a shake-down cruise: down the driveway, across the expanse of yard alongside the road, around the gravel pile, then back to the manor. You know the old saw about “it’s just like riding a bicycle.” Yup, it all came back to me really fast. The tires and tubes were fine, and Mason was ready to start his adventure ride.

There’s a trail that leads from the back yard down to a garden area (a previous owner cleared it, although I wonder why they didn’t clear an area closer to the house… oh well). Mason found the trail on the other side, that runs to the fence between FAR Manor’s grounds and the in-laws’.

“Want to ride down to the pond?" I asked Mason. He was enthusiastic about the idea, so we went through the gate and I led the way.

The pasture was pretty rough, between all the rain we’ve had recently and the cows walking on it, and it jounced us thoroughly. Through a gate on the other side, past the campsite, and down to the pond. There were some poles and tackle left behind by one cousin or another, so Mason decided to do a little fishing:

Just as well they weren’t biting
I’m kind of glad Mason didn’t catch anything, because it would have been rather difficult to bring the catch home.

You may have noticed I said we rode down to the pond. That was a deliberate choice of words: FAR Manor is on a hilltop, and there’s only a dozen yards or so that isn’t downhill between the house and the pond. Now you can guess what that means… yup, uphill all the way home. This was the part Mason hadn’t really considered. Even in low gear, he complained a lot and had to take a few rest breaks. Surprisingly, I only needed a brief rest, and I never went below the middle chainring on my bike.

I hope Mason elects to continue riding around the manor and farm, though. It’ll build up his legs and his stamina, and he’ll be able to hustle harder in his soccer games. As for Charlie, I have a bike seat that clips onto the rack. I bought it for Mason when he was little, but he wanted nothing to do with it. I expect Charlie will have a more positive reaction.

Oh… and I need a new helmet.

Sunday, March 15, 2015 3 comments

Spring #3 Cleaning Up

Spring #3 has been pretty wet so far. All the rain melted the snow in a hurry, and it’s supposed to be sunny and 70°F Sunday and Monday. If we’re going to get a Winter #4, it had better hurry up because the calendar’s running out.

As you may recall, Winter #3 left us with a rather large mess on our hands. I was glad to put the generator away, though I do need to dump some Sta-Bil in the tank and run it long enough to get into the carb. But the first order of business last weekend was to deal with the downed trees above the mailbox:

Snap, crackle, pop

I had planned to get outside with a chainsaw as soon as I could on Saturday. I was stuck inside with Mason, but The Boy pretty much took over.

Let the cleanup begin…

The process was fairly simple, but rather physical: trim branches off the fallen ends, toss them on the truck, then cut lengths for the fire pit and load them separately. Finally, cut down the trunks and cut them up. He finished the job up Sunday morning while I was at church.

Lookin’ good!

The only downside is, now you can see the manor from the road. I guess I’ll have to plant some holly or boxwoods along that edge. The big upside is, the persimmon tree (to the left behind the holly bush) is no longer shaded by the pines. Maybe Mason will have some more fruit to munch on this fall.

Monday, May 19, 2014 4 comments

Blackberry Winter

We only had three mini-winters on Planet Georgia this year, although they were pretty harsh. In mid-spring, we get a cold snap they like to call “Blackberry Winter,” because it usually happens around the time the blackberry vines are blooming. The fun thing is, blackberries blossom for two or three weeks, so there’s plenty of time for one (or more) to happen.

So last week, it got cool. “Maybe this is all the blackberry winter we get,” said the wife. “But they need some cold to bloom out, I thought.”

“They’ve been blooming out for a week in some places,” I pointed out.

But this weekend had to be it. The lows got to 40F, and it was cloudy and rainy. The rain is gone, but the cool weather remains. After a taste of nice May weather the week before, this was a bit of a letdown. But with any luck, that’s the last of the cool/cold weather until late October.

The vines are already setting fruit. Looks like Mason will have a great time picking come July 4th weekend. The wild lowbush blueberries should be ripe in the next couple weeks as well.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014 2 comments

Spring #3 comes in like a… kneecap

Winter #3 brought snow and a little ice to FAR Manor, and a recurrence of the winter congestion that lingers for weeks. About the time the snow started melting in earnest, I was finally able to get outside and let Mason play around in what was left. He had a good time all in all, and had a howling fit about having to come inside to get warm and dry.

Then Spring #3 really got itself going, right at the end of February, and it promised a real spring to come (not soon enough). I even drove home with the top down on my Miata one sunny evening, at least until I got about 10 miles from home. There hasn’t been a Winter #4 yet, but it had better hurry up if it’s going to get here. The best part is that weekends have often been warm and sunny, while the crappy weather comes in through the week when I have to be in the office anyway.

Tonya Harding
Tanya, Queen of Kneecaps
So… the last weekend in February. Absolutely gorgeous. I spent a few hours cutting firewood for the not-so-warm nights, then washed my car. Somewhere in there, I banged my knee—the one that isn’t all that good to begin with, of course. I can’t remember how I did it, but thought at the time, “I hope I didn’t knock another bone chip off it.” But it stopped hurting after a couple minutes, so I completely forgot about it and went about my business.

Until evening, when it started hurting. And continued to hurt. By Monday, I was wondering where Reality the crutch had gone (it’s not in the closet where it belongs). To make matters even more fun, that stomach virus going around caught up with me Tuesday, because I couldn’t outrun it. I learned how to limp very quickly to the bathroom.

At work, there’s a first-aid kit with various useful things. There’s a dispenser of stuff called Pain-Aid, which is half aspirin and half ibuprofen. This combination seemed to improve things immensely. By Saturday, it was feeling fairly good… and then the wife had a bunch of errands that needed to be run and no time to run them. Off I went, limping around this store and that, and you can guess the result: by that night it was screaming again.

Rest and ibuprofen (and the ice cuff) have helped; today, it has been mostly usable. Still, it’s off to the doc tomorrow morning to check it out. Once it’s working right, maybe I can enjoy Spring #4.

Monday, April 29, 2013 6 comments

Positive (Plant) ID

Thanks to the wonderful collection of wisdom that is the Internet, I now know what a couple of our mystery plants are.

Call it “Carolina Kudzu.”
Like most of the rest of the introduced landscaping, this is an aggressively invasive piece of work. I thought it might be a wisteria, and rejected the thought of it being a honeysuckle. But thanks to my buddy Powell (and you need to blog more, Powell!), I now know it’s a Yellow Jessamine, aka Carolina Jasmine.

Powell tells me it’s the South Carolina state flower, and it’s illegal (in SC) to transplant from the wild. I don’t know why; it’s not like you can kill this thing without a thermonuclear strike. I cut the whole thing down last year, and it came right back. The wife is talking about chemical warfare (Roundup). Me, I’m thinking more along the lines of wrapping a stout rope around it and pulling it out with a tractor. Either way, it has got to go. It is busily trying to strangle every other plant within reach, and its reach gets a little longer each day. I thought butterfly bushes were obnoxious… at least they just get taller.

The wife called them “Japanese Holly.” I called them “some weird-ass holly variety I’ve never seen outside FAR Manor.” But they have a real name, and the name is… Oregon Grape. I posted a pic on Twitter, and Vandamir (an Oregon resident, which makes sense) was there with the ID.

The leaves are very holly-like, although its growth pattern is unlike any true holly—they get about three feet high, and put out an umbrella-like set of leaves at the top. And it’s classified as (are you seeing a pattern here?) a “noxious weed” outside Oregon. I only noticed it starting to spread from the four or five planted plants we had, when we first moved to FAR Manor, in the last couple years. I dug up five of them and put them in pots, and they’re all surviving quite well. Before I knew what they were, I’d planned to sell them in a yard sale, but that would be like selling a butterfly bush—laughable, but people (or nurseries, rather) do it. There might be laws about distributing invasive plants; it certainly isn’t horribly moral in any case. I wonder if the non-nutty sister in law kept the two I gave her, though…

Unlike a true holly, Oregon Grape is supposed to be edible. But “edible” doesn’t exactly mean “tasty.” They are very pretty, nice and green through the winter. They put out yellow fruits that turn purple in spring.

And I learned that the wild violets in our yard are also edible, like just about all the other weeds around here. It makes me wonder why we bother going to the grocery store.

Sunday, April 21, 2013 2 comments

Late Spring

Long November hung on as long as it possibly could, and then some. But the march of seasons persists, and the cold and cool days have become cool and warm days. I even managed to take the laptop to the table out front and work outside.

Of course, it’s April, and that means the pollen count left “extreme” far behind and was playing in “Are you $#%@!! kidding me!?” territory:

After a few hours working outside…
Once inside, I ran a Swiffer across the laptop and cleared away the pollen, turning the Swiffer yellow. The pollen count topped out at 8024; Daughter Dearest heard it was the third highest recorded measurement ever. It starts to clog me up when it gets above 4000 or so, and I don’t have allergies.

As always, wild violets run riot in the yard. The wife thinks they’ll kill the grass; but they’ve been coming up every spring, ever since we’ve lived at FAR Manor, and the grass lives on:

Because plain green is BORING.
The cherry tree really put on a show. This week’s windy weather has turned these into what looks like a dusting of pink snow if you squint:

Last night, I finally got to take the wife out to dinner like I’ve wanted to do all… all year, actually. The January royalties from Amazon came in at the end of March, so I had enough to splash on a pretty nice outing. Jam came up to watch Mason for us, since Daughter Dearest was working closing hours at Dress Barn. The best laid plans… we got to the place I’d picked out, and hadn’t realized one of the local high schools was having prom night. I expected the place to be crowded, but not “hour and a half wait time” crowded. Fortunately, there’s a large cluster of restaurants across the highway, and we’d agreed to check those out as a backup plan. “How about that Tilted Kilt place?” she suggested. I hadn’t ever been; I knew it was an Irish pub-themed place was all, and the high school kids wouldn’t exactly be crowding it.

We got right in… and what neither of us realized, is that it’s more of an Irish-themed Hooters (wife laughed at this description). The servers, young shapely women all, wore halter tops and a tartan-patterned mini. I think they might have had a clear or flesh-toned body sock covering the expanse of belly and back between the two pieces; it would have been awfully chilly in there without one, but the lighting wasn’t enough to decide with a quick glance. I wasn’t there to check out the girlies, anyway. I may mount a solo expedition to make a final determination, especially since the food was pretty good.

More yard work is in the cards for today. I think I’ll take a day off work and not tell anyone, then disappear with my writing stuff so I can catch up.

Sunday, March 17, 2013 3 comments

A Rotten Deal

Once more unto the breach, my friends, once more
— Shakespeare, Henry V

Shooting straight up…
and it’s shot, all right!
I always thought FAR Manor was a rotten deal from the get-go. Of course, my opinion means nothing; I’m just the one paying the mortgage. But when I saw the rotten soffit and trim above the back porch, I knew I couldn’t ignore it anymore. This was above a little decklet off the back porch, so I could do half the work on a stepladder on the deck itself, and the extension ladder off to the side let me reach the other half. It had been there for a while, but a warm and dry spring weekend meant I had the opportunity to do something about it.

So, after taking certain measurements yesterday morning, I scrounged around and found a sheet of 1/4" plywood (amazing!). The 1x8 trim boards needed a trip to Home Despot when we went that way for lunch, anyway. Now, I embarked on my favorite part of these repairs: taking implements of destruction to FAR Manor. The white trim board was only rotten on the end, but I found it was split in the middle, and my enthusiastic crowbar work finished it off. Thinking the plywood would also be rotten only on the end, I figured to cut it off halfway back… but when I misjudged the length, and cut too much, I found it was rotten along the edge almost all the way up, anyway. So more crowbar work was applied, and down it came.

During the up-and-down that goes with measuring, getting tools, running back to grab the thing I forgot, that loose step finally… got really loose. This was an annoying distraction, one I hoped I’d have time to deal with after the main event. I’ve always been one to take steps two at a time when I can, so I just stepped over it.

So… the rotten wood was ended, but the nails lingered. More crowbar work, hooray! Fortunately, the underlying wood was okay; it was the just the outer layer that needed replacing.

Then the fun begins: measure twice, cut once, curse when it doesn’t fit, and cut again. Hoping to avoid doing this again in a few years, I found some primer and slapped a coat on the backsides and edges of the replacement pieces. This took me to “it’s getting dark” time, so I knocked off for the day.

All you need is paint…
After church, lunch, and Mason’s nap, I was able to finish the job this afternoon. I drove in the last nails, and went to get the paint. Now one of the cosmic rules of FAR Manor is: things are supposed to be in one place, but they’re usually in three. And that was the case here. The paint is supposed to be in the basement—and some of it was (including the primer coat from yesterday). The ones I needed were in both the attached garage and the detached garage. But I found the paint, found a roller (I used a brush for the primer), and had at it. The new paint doesn’t quite match the existing surrounding pieces, but I figure that’s because it was still wet. I’ll have a look tomorrow.

My enthusiastic crowbar work had split trim up above the replacement, and I had to climb onto the roof to address that part. Using the stepladder, I put the tools up on the roof, then took the extension ladder around to the garage where it’s easier to climb up. I cleaned off the screen over the chimney while I was up there, then sawed off the broken parts and pieced them together. It’s ugly, but it’ll do until I can carve up a proper replacement.

Finally, with all that taken care of, I got the drill and some screws, and took care of the step. I do need to pressure-wash and repaint them, and if it’s nice next weekend, I might get to it.

The wife then recruited me to help with feeding the cows (and other things that somehow never get mentioned until I’m in the truck), and that took us to dusk. So that was a weekend at FAR Manor—at least it was shot to hell in the way I wanted it shot to hell for a change.

Sunday, March 04, 2012 4 comments

The Winter That Wasn’t

To misquote Monty Python: “And fall gave winter a miss and went straight on to spring.” If you don’t count what was essentially two days of winter, we didn’t have one. By the numbers:

Number of nights with lows below 20°F: 3

Number of days with highs below freezing: 0

Number of days with snow accumulation: 1

Accumulations over 1 inch: 0

The last three Thursdays have been sunny and over 70°F, which has driven me out to the patio with my work laptop. I’m very glad that I can get a decent wifi signal out there — it means I can get away with doing that. Mason likes to join me, of course, and tries to punch keys on the work laptop (not a good idea) or steal my phone if I’m not watching. Little twerp. This has been the pattern for about a month now: warming through the week, gorgeous Thursday, then storms come in and leave weekends windy and cool with occasional residual storms.

I’ve been saying this winter was more like one long November — it ate December, January, February, and March and now we’re having an early April. Any week with two tornado watches is not so wonderful. Usually, when we have significant thunderstorms in January, that has signaled a mild April peak for storm season. But with winter getting skipped over the way it was, all bets are off.

The Friday storm-blast almost completely passed us by. We had a severe storm go about eight miles south of us that might have started to spin up into a tornado. Other than that, we watched the game from the stands (so to speak). Boom, wind, rain, and then more wind. Lots more wind and low 50s for the highs all weekend.

Thursday’s forecast looks like the forecast for the last three: sunny, 70s, me working shirtless for an hour or so.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 2 comments

Wednesday Photo-Wibbles

I took Mason out for a little walk this afternoon and shot up a few things I’ve been meaning to shoot. But first, the weekly shout to the new follower:
  • Jerry Moore (couldn’t find your blog, Jerry — drop a comment and I’ll update)
Spring has come to FAR Manor, and it seems like it just snuck up on us. The dogwood over by the studio opened up its blooms this morning — this is what it looks like (post from 2 springs ago).

Mason was along for the walk. Mrs. Fetched and M.A.E. had him and Moptop outside, blowing bubbles earlier in the afternoon, and he wanted to do some more. There was a pretty good breeze, so I took the lazy way out and held the wand up in the wind. It did quite well that way.

Wild violets run rampant in our lawn this time of year. I’ve decided that monochromatic green is boring, and we’ll get that anyway once the violets go dormant again.

I cleaned up the bank near the road, and this was my reward — a sprinkling of wildflowers I either never had before, or had but never saw for the undergrowth.

One or both of the previous owners of FAR Manor were fond of aggressively invasive plants, judging from what’s been running riot around here. This is some kind of vine-y plant in the corners of a decorative fence in front of the manor — very pretty, but is trying to take over in every direction. After the blooms get done, I’m going to hack this sucker to the ground. It’ll be back next year.

This is FAR Manor in the spring. Pretty stuff all over the place, but it will engulf you if left to its own devices. Kind of like the in-laws.

Saturday, February 19, 2011 2 comments

Saturday in the Park

No way I’d mistake it for the Fourth of July, but it was an awesome day for February. That’s a little ironic, since the upcoming episode of White Pickups is set right at this time of year and deals with a very similar day (weather-wise).

Everyone else ran off to the chicken houses, after lunch, leaving Mason and me alone at the manor. I’d made plans for this contingency, and so we were shortly off to the park.

We started with a stroll around the perimeter path, just over a mile. Mason enjoyed all the stuff going on, especially the kids playing soccer in the practice fields next to the path. I enjoyed the moms jogging or strolling with their kids. We both enjoyed some fresh air and sunshine.

The playground is just off the path, almost all the way around from where we started, and I found a spot to park the stroller and turned him loose. He has no trouble going up stairs, and I found that with the generous handholds offered on the jungle gym, he also had no problem going down them.

I did get a little nervous when he climbed to the next platform and got out of reach. As I was trying to get him to come down the nearby slide, a little black-haired girl poked her head out of the adjacent tunnel and stared at me. I stared back.

“Moptop? Is that you?” I asked after a second.

“Are you FARf?” she responded. Sure enough, that big guy stalking around the edges of the jungle gym was Moptop’s grandpa. We chatted for a minute, me with one eye on Mason, and Moptop slipped off to hit the swing set. Mason and Moptop saw each other, said hi, then went on with their own pursuits.

After a little running, climbing, sliding, a diaper change (atomic), and watching the other kids, Mason got a little overloaded. He stopped, stood and watched the chaos, occasionally stooping to pick up a handful of wood shavings and toss them. Finally, he walked over to the fence and looked at the path. “That!” he said, several times, until I realized he was ready to get in the stroller and continue our walk.

We disposed of the nuclear waste dump he’d left in his diaper in a nearby bathroom, and I got nervous about where the car was until I realized I hadn’t gone quite all the way around, and we returned and headed on back.

He was asleep a few miles before we got home, and barely stirred when I got him out of the car seat. He only napped for 45 minutes, but he’d had a good morning nap so I wasn’t concerned.

Spring #4 is being very good to us on Planet Georgia, and Winter #5 hasn’t shown up in the extended forecast just yet. But hey, there’s still March to get through.

Friday, May 14, 2010 4 comments

Friday Picture-Rama

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, this would be a looooong blog post.

Blackberry flowersWe keep getting cool snaps, and I keep thinking “this one must be Blackberry Winter,” but they just keep coming. It warms up, then we get a line of thunderstorms, and it cools off, lather rinse repeat. Well, rinse anyway.

The blooms look pretty good this year, and I’ve noticed several stands in a nearby pasture. We still have plenty of jelly and jam though, so I’m sure sure I’ll do much picking come Fourth of July or not.

RoseUpsize the vines, the thorns, and especially the flowers… and this is what you get. The vining roses are really kicking this year — much better than last. We have a dogwood that blooms twice, since there’s one of these vines crawling all through it.

But seriously, I need to get the shears a hold of the rose vines — they’re doing a fair imitation of kudzu, but with teeth!

Big V riding the feed cartI was going to say something like “moving from flowers to weeds,” but Big V isn’t here to defend herself. Oh well, I’m still gonna talk about her, that’s the price she pays for dragging me out of bed last weekend and driving her to Tractor Supply. She has her “permanent” prosthetic, the one that’s custom-fit for her, and she can get around on it reasonably well now. That day, she was still working on her balance, and was doing fine pushing the cart around. That is, until she had them drop about 350 pounds of horse and dog feed on it.

She gave the laden cart a push, and said, “I can’t get that going. You’ll have to push.” Then she climbed on top of it. I was a little worried about the cart’s rated maximum load, but it didn’t come apart on us. Of course, that meant I had to push her and the feed up to the cash registers and then out to the car. She hopped down and got in the seat before I had a chance to tell the guy to throw her in the trunk with the rest of it. ;-)

Mason chewing on the tableOf course, what would one of these photo-posts be without the World’s Cutest Grandkid? This pretty much sums things up for Mason these days. He’s crawling all over the place, pulling himself up on anything that will stand still long enough to support him, trying to free-stand, and chewing on things.

We started giving him teething biscuits this week — they’re a really hard cookie-like thing that is supposed to be hard to bite through. Mason’s beaver-chompers make pretty quick work of them, though; they don’t last more than a few minutes before he’s bit the end off and working on the loose piece. He likes some regular (i.e. not-baby) food, but definitely not fish or guacamole. He made the most hilarious face after Mrs. Fetched gave him a little home-made guacamole last night… then ejected it quick. I think he was expecting peas, which he does like. Next time, I’ll have the camera at hand and on speed-shoot mode.

Stupid gout is running at a low level at the moment. I’ve temporarily stopped drinking… when the foot is good for an entire week, I’ll resume the occasional nip at the rum bottle.

Saturday, April 24, 2010 4 comments


Wow, the week’s already gone by?

I'm running on battery power, writing through a thunderstorm. Funny how I was thinking earlier this week that we hadn’t had much nasty weather this month, when April weather on Planet Georgia often has a violent temper. Ta-daaaah! We’ve got a tornado watch now and maybe more to come tomorrow. Looking at the local radar loop on weather.gov, it looks like once this goes by we’ll be in a quiet spot… maybe the rest of the night.

Mason has unlocked a new ability: he pulled himself up to a standing position in his playpen today! Next thing you know, I’ll be posting video of him walking around. He was squalling for all he was worth a few minutes ago, being tired and mad about being tired. I fixed him a bottle and Mrs. Fetched is feeding him… the way he was acting, he’ll be sound asleep before I finish this.

I used to do an irregular podcast, but it’s such a chore to block out enough time to produce one — pretty much half a day to edit up a 20- to 30-minute episode. A new site, AudioBoo, looks like it could do for podcasting what Twitter did for blogging. You can post up to five minutes of jibber-jabber, using a file upload or directly through an AudioBoo app for iPhone (or Android). My first boo, Banned from the Band, is about a minute long and explains what I did this afternoon and why. At least I won’t have to flag a TB25 for a while. But I think I’ll use this to knock off a few “Shiny Things” segments. I can probably do a five-minute segment in less than half an hour, which means I’ll be doing them more regularly.

Watch this space: I’ll have a Mason pic up tomorrow (weather permitting). Next episode of White Pickups will be up Monday morning as usual.

Sunday, April 18, 2010 5 comments

The Week in Pictures

Just a few of the things, normal and not-so-normal, going on around the manor this week…

Dogwood and cypressThe dogwoods shook off their yellow early in the week, and are now their usual blazing white. The blooms aren’t as plentiful this year as they have been at least some years past.

This particular shot is the dogwood at the corner of the driveway, with a gigantic cypress in the background. I’ve joked about renting a bucket truck to string Christmas lights on that sucker.

Mason bathMason loves being outside, and loves getting a bath. He got too big for the bathroom sink, so now he gets his dunk time in the kitchen sink.

I didn’t have any pix from the various baby food showers he administered to his grandparents this week, unfortunately. On the other hand, I don’t have to worry about cleaning off the camera lens if one of those sneezes got directed that way either.

The Boy takes Mason outside in the stroller; sometimes he sits and plays guitar for him. Mason is fascinated by the guitar and the sound it makes… but most of all he enjoys his “dad time” (what little he gets). He also met Buster T. Butthead, who is officially the first dog he’s petted (stroke, stroke, grab handful of hair). When he’s running around in a few months, I expect Buster will be his best buddy. We’ll probably need to give the dog a bath, now that I think about it…

Tree cuttingI spent much of yesterday cutting up a poplar tree with Mr. Sunshine. This was not my plan for the day — I was going to do the Bakin’ Fool thing and hot up the kitchen all day. But they’d dropped it in the area in front of the chicken house, where feed trucks will soon need to go, so it needed to be taken care of. It took us most of the day, cutting off the smaller branches to clear the work area then feeding them to my chipper-shredder… once the work area was clear, the rest of it went fairly quickly. Everything is stacked or piled up here at the manor except for the trunk pieces. We moved them out of the way and Mrs. Fetched said she’ll get the splitter down there and finish that up this week.

Now that’s not even beginning to address what’s waiting for me behind the manor — the above picture tells that particular tale (left side morning, right side evening). Mrs. Fetched has complained for a while about several oak trees close to the house out back; one does make a bad habit of dropping limbs on the roof above our bedroom. Since the renters requested removal of a similarly-positioned tree at the old place, she decided to deal with both jobs at once. So now I have quite a bit of raw firewood to process, and I won’t have to go far to get to it. I’ll have to see if The Boy is interested in getting started on it. I think we’ll miss that extra shade in the evenings, but what do I know?

Cinnamon rollsBut even though my day got spent cutting trees instead of kneading, what I wanted to get done yesterday actually happened. Instead of making bread, we bought a loaf. DoubleRed made cookies. And after supper and a brief rest, I made some cinnamon rolls. I took a few to Daughter Dearest, since her Spring Concert was today. Still plenty left, come by the manor and grab one!

Saturday, April 10, 2010 7 comments


Mason christeningLast Sunday was Easter, and that’s the day when the kids get christened. Mason was right up there to get his head wet and he didn’t mind the attention either. Left to right: our paster (he sounds like Ricardo Montalban), Mason, and Ashley (a girl who fills in where needed, most of the time).

The reason I didn’t have this up earlier: the drawback to DSLRs is that the RAW photos gobble up disk space pretty quick. I got a 1TB outboard drive Thursday evening and moved all the photos to it — MUCH better. A back of the envelope calculation suggests that the new drive should be good for like 50,000 photos. One of its nice features is a button on the front that can be assigned to launch any application, so I have it launch EOS Utility to pull the pictures off the camera.

Meanwhile, Mason is now crawling pretty well — he crawled right off the edge of the bed last night. Fortunately I was anticipating that and caught him, and it didn’t faze him a bit. He’s also beginning to babble-talk. He’s started this ah dyah dah dah dahhhh noise which means “pick me up!”

Wild violets in the yardSpring has definitely arrived on Planet Georgia: the pollen count is somewhere between Ridiculous and F%#@!ing Insane, and the wild violets are running riot in the yard. I mowed over the violets last weekend, and they just ducked under the blades. I’m going to try digging some up and potting them — seems that the only way to kill a weed is to make it a not-weed.

Cherry blossomsThe flowering cherry outside my window is doing much better than the dogwoods so far. The dogwoods are running a little late this year, they just now opened up and they’re still a little yellow. I’ll get some shots of them when they get a little more up and at ’em. Meanwhile, enjoy the pinkitude; you don’t see too much of it on this blog.

Sometime in the last week, I hosed up my foot. I think I stepped on a rock at the chicken houses and it retaliated. The only good thing about it is that I get to stay out of the chicken houses this week… I’d rather have a less painful reason for that though.

Saturday, January 16, 2010 4 comments

Spring #1, 2010

The snow is gone, the temps aren’t going below freezing past the end of the 7-day forecast, and the rain will arrive in the next couple of hours. That’s Spring #1 on Planet Georgia.

Mason granted us a late start to the three-day weekend (shhhh, don’t tell Mrs. Fetched); after a 6 a.m. breakfast call, he slept almost until 9… and so did we. That doesn’t mean we don’t have stuff to do — far from it — but a little rest is always a good thing to have before a busy day. While Mrs. Fetched (and Kobold) went to the chicken houses, and Daughter Dearest watched the micro-dude, I went out and gathered up the last of the dry wood and about half of the green wood to load up the rack in the garage. Mrs. Fetched had me scoot the rack over, in hopes that she can get someone out here to install the Freecycle Special garage door opener this week.

I'm poopin'... false alarmMason was laying on the bed just now, doing a near-perfect imitation of this LOLcat. It kind of reminded me of The Boy, back when he was about four months old…

One Sunday morning, the three of us were in the kitchen, me holding The Boy. He was in a pretty good mood, and chattering away about the state of the universe and anything else that came to mind. Then he got quiet for a moment, looked at Mrs. Fetched, and went, “Nnnnnnnnn.”

Mrs. Fetched smiled at him. “Are you loading your diaper?”

Big grin. “NNNNNNnnnnnnnnnnnnn!

As new parents, we thought that gathering up all the atomic diapers and dropping them on Iraq would have ended the war rather quickly.

Speaking of The Boy, he and Snippet are actually pulling the “moving back into the manor” string. They moved a bunch of stuff into the detached garage last night, displacing the in-laws’ four-wheeler, then went back to the apartment for the night. It’ll be nice when they’re actually here and taking care of Mason.

Mason milestones: he got a little cereal (rice) in his bottle for the first time last night. It didn’t seem to bother him, and we’re hoping it will stick with him a little longer and help him sleep through the night. All of the squats he’s been doing (not the kind above) have started to pay off: if he’s laying on the bed, and someone takes his hands, he’ll pull himself up… then if you raise his hands over his head, he’ll get his feet under him and pull himself up. I don’t think even The Boy was doing that kind of thing when he was four months old, and he was a strong baby too. I’ll get video and post it soon… my DSLR doesn’t do video, and Daughter Dearest left her Coolpix at her campus apartment, so we’ll grab a camcorder.

Three more things I want to accomplish today: 1) Now that the Christmas tree is put away, bring the Evil Exerbike back inside and start using it; 2) Make sure the new generator has gas and oil in it, and start it; 3) Make a baton for Daughter Dearest’s conducting class (I ordered her one off Amazon, and they canceled the order because they were out of stock). The latter is a fairly easy job; the hardware store has file handles that are the perfect size for a baton; all I have to do is widen the hole and glue a foot of dowel into it, then paint or stain it.

Given that Monday is a holiday, and it looks to be sunny, I’ll be cutting some firewood. I had to take the in-laws’ four-wheeler back to its usual place (after charging the battery enough to get it started), and noticed another large dead tree on the other side of the back garden. Easy access for the tractor, and there’s easily enough wood for a week or two of fire when Winter #2 arrives.

Saturday, May 16, 2009 2 comments

Crazy Rhodo and the Flower Power

Sounds like a good name for a rock band, huh?


She has her accompanists…

Like Sage.

Flowering sage

Sage adds a little spice to the music. She's pretty strong, and likes to spread out. She’s been around for a while.

Then there's the wild child of the band, "Mountain" Laurel:

Laurel’s a big girl, which is how she got her nickname. But she sure dresses up nice…

Then there’s Rose:

Mother's Day Rose

Rose is a thorny one, and has an attitude. She pretty much takes over wherever she’s planted. Pull her up and she comes right back.

Finally, there’s Iris:


Iris is a thin, shy girl. But she’s pretty and all the fans wish they could be her.

Meanwhile, in real life, The Boy and his band were here playing their own music today. Mrs. Fetched is cooking sausage for a breakfast casserole tomorrow, and the aroma is somewhat distracting…


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