Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Here is a close up of the basil, and here is a photo of it on February 3rd. It's alive and growing, but ever so slowly.
The parsley looks good and has actually gotten some true leaves. It will be one of the first to go into the coldframe because it can stand some cold.
Monday, February 27, 2006
and a top view shows some stripes that I didn't see until I took the photo.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
My dogs Cocoa and Kahlil get to be featured in Weekend Dog Blogging a lot so I thought I'd feature a guest dog. Pictured below is Roscoe. He is a coonhound. I didn't realize how big coonhounds were until Roscoe came to visit and I got to see him up close. I'm pretty sure if he stood up he'd be taller than I am. Roscoe is a nice boy and it's easy to tell what he was designed to do because he smells everything. I watched him run around our yard nose to the ground. He came to visit yesterday with his owner Mike. Roscoe spent the day playing out in the snow with my dog Kahlil and my son-in-law to be Barry's dog Bogie.
Here's s shot of Bogie and Kahlil. I tried to get a photo of the three of them, but there was a limit to just how long I was willing to stand out in the cold trying to take a picture of three moving dogs.
Mike and Barry didn't come to play like their dogs did though. They came to work. They worked all day and into the night past midnight. When they and the electrician who helped them were done, the broken old iron monster mentioned in my previous post was gone and a more colorful smaller new boiler, along with new gleaming copper pipes was in its place. Thanks Mike and Barry. It's so nice to have central heat after being without it since Monday. The temperature right now is 10F and it's predicted to go lower later. It's nice not to be throwing log after log into the fireplace tonight.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Either because it's my nature or because I've been writing software too long, I like to have backups for lots of things. I have backup milk. It's milk in a box that can sit on a pantry shelf, but I keep it in the refrigerator so that it will be cold if I need it. If I run out of milk and a storm is coming, I can avoid the supermarket, because for some reason when there is going to be a storm, people swarm to the supermarket and it's really worth avoiding going anywhere near the place. I also have powered milk, but that's the backup of the backup and is for real emergencies like famine, flood, quarantine or needing milk to make brownies when the store is closed and there is no milk or backup milk.
I've been lucky enough to never loose power for much more than a day, but my flashlight and candles are ready. Because I heat the house with oil and my oil burner needs electricity to operate, I feel I need a backup source of heat. I have a fireplace for backup and wood to fuel it. I haven't lost power recently, but sadly the big iron monster furnace in the cellar is breathing it's last.
It's not surprising that the furnace, or as I recently learned to correctly call it boiler, is kaput. I think it's older than I am and I'm older than dirt. I'm told it originally burned coal and was retrofitted to burn oil. No one I know has burned coal around here for 50 years. The house was built in 1928 and the boiler could well be original. If it's lasted 77 years, I guess I can't ask for more and I know it's replacement will be more efficient. So while I'm waiting for a replacement. I using the backup furnace called a fireplace and I'm burning the backup fuel which I already had stored by the front door...just in case
If you think the fireplace isn't keeping me warm enough, don't worry. I also have a little electric heater, because....well, you never know when you'll need it.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Get well soon Sweetnicks
If you been reading this blog any length of time you probably know I have two dogs, Cocoa, a 12 year old German shorthaired pointer who is still full of spunk and 1 year old Kahlil who is still a pup, but shaping up well. Like people, every dog has their good and bad points. Cocoa's good points are that she is a sweet, dependable, upbeat dog. She's easy to have around and well behaved and trustworthy except in one area. Most any bad behavior on her part involves eating. I would say she is food obsessed and unfortunately anything she can swallow is considered food. Most dogs love food, but she is actually obsessed with it. Over the years I have paid some rather expensive vet bills that have been caused by her eating something that she shouldn't. When she was about a year old, unknown to us, she ate some kind rubber stopper she found outside somewhere. By the time the vet operated, she actually had ruptured her small intestine. He called me during the surgery, asking if he should even continue when he discovered this. He didn't think she would recover. I'm a softy, so I told him to give it a try. He reconfigured things and she actually pulled through. It wasn't cheap. I later learned that he slept in his office with her that night to tend to her through the night after the surgery. Another time she got into some Easter chocolate. Chocolate can poison a dog but, luckily it was not a large enough amount. Soap has disappeared from the edge of the bathtub. I've discovered holes in my jacket pockets that once held food. There was the time she ate a bottle of antibiotics. Child proof containers are not Cocoa proof! I've also discovered other strange things she's eaten, based on 'evidence' I've seen in the yard. Although she's mellowed a bit in her old age, she got herself in trouble again recently. When I was home with a bad cold, one of my daughters came by with a container of Chinese food for us to share. It was orange flavored chicken. It's a spicy dish with whole hot peppers in the sauce. I carefully pick these out, because the sauce is hot enough without soaking up more heat from the peppers sitting in it. We finished it off and somehow the 'empty' container got left on the counter. Later I found the container on the floor and threw it away. Then I promptly forgot about finding the empty container on the floor. A day later I noticed Cocoa had diarrhea. She got me up 4 times during the night to go out. The next day it continued. That night she woke me up many times during the night to go out. The third night, the diarrhea became bloody. I was now concerned. She's not a young dog. She'd been to the vet a week before for shots. Could she have picked up some illness. Of course it was Saturday night and blizzard had started which lasted all day Sunday. She seemed to be in reasonable good spirits was active and had an appetite. I was starting to get very sleep deprived. I started her on only chicken broth and waited for Monday morning to take her to the vet. The vet questioned me. Was there anything she could have gotten into. I didn't think so. She had no fever. The vet gave her subcutaneous fluids to prevent dehydration and told me to give no food at all that day and sent me home with pills to give her. The next day I was told to put her on small amounts of rice and chicken. It worked. She finally got better. The funny thing is that the minute I walked into the house from bringing her to the vet, I realized what had happened. It just came to me. She'd eaten about a dozen sauce covered chili peppers that were in the bottom of the 'empty' Chinese food container. So that came to $8.25 for the orange flavored chicken, $117.94 for the vet bill, 4 sleep deprived nights for me, and one very vary bad tummy ache for Cocoa who spent more than a few hours squatting outside in a blizzard. The funny thing is, I'm almost sure she'd do it again given the chance. On the other hand, I have been fully conditioned not to leave chili peppers around.
Friday, February 17, 2006
A few nights ago I was at a meeting in the town hall. As I left the building through the side door that is shown in the fourth photo here, I saw the signs that are pictured. If you have trouble reading them, you can click on the photo to see a larger image. They read 'Manual/Automatic Door'. Is it me, or does this not really make sense? Aren't the words manual and automatic opposites? I know that the decades, I've spent programming computers have left me a little too literal minded sometime. But, really, it's confusing and seems funny and oxymoronic. I don't think it's trying to make a philosophical statement about the duality of the door. It's a pre-printed sticker so I have to think it's not unique. When I went back to take the photo, I did not actually study the door to determine how it might be automatic. I do remember that when I left the meeting, I pushed on the door and it worked as I expected a door to work. Perhaps there is a button somewhere that a handicapped person would use to open the door automatically. This was not explained in the sign. Thinking about it now, I realize I'll need to return and figure out exactly how it operates. I can say one thing. The sign is not intuitive, at least not to me. The part that makes the most sense is the brass plate that looks like it's been there many years. Without a single word, it's an icon that is intuitive and indicates I should push on it.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
It's so nice to harvest fresh and tasty healthy vegetables. No store-bought tomato comes anywhere close in taste to those I grow myself. However that is not the only reason I garden. I garden because I enjoy it, and it gives me great pleasure. A little research tells me that gardening is the number one hobby in my country, America, so I guess I'm not alone. We are no longer an agrarian society, but it seems that millions of us as individuals can not leave our agrarian roots behind. I think that is a good thing.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Black wool is usually discarded by commercial buyers because it can't be dyed Good-quality dark fleece is highly esteemed, however, by handspinners and knitters, crafts people who can turn naturally shaded brown, gray, and black wool into beautiful creations. Nature has already colored it beautifully and the colors are permanent and won't run.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Just two days later on Friday, it's straightened out and a whole lot taller.
And today on Sunday, it's grown even taller. I measured it. It's 9 inches from the rim of the pot to the top of the bud.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Because it's small and lopsided it will need more plants to fill in the bare spots. I wanted the same kind of geraniums that I had because a friend had grown them from seed and they are not available in local nurseries so I figured the answer was to clone it. Plants have been cloned in one way or another for thousands of years. If you take a cutting from a plant and grow it into a new plant (vegetative propagation), you are cloning the original plant because the new plant has the same genetic makeup as the donor plant. Many plants like strawberries clone themselves when they send out runners to form new plants. Geraniums are not to difficult to clone. First take some cuttings and remove any leaves near the bottom of the cutting. Then put a little rooting hormone on the bottom of the cutting and plant the cutting in some moist growing medium. Rooting hormone is found at most nurseries, but if you don't have any, most of your geranium cuttings may still root. If you don't have growing medium, just put the cuttings in a jar of water until you do. Some of the cuttings may wilt. Some will revive and do OK and some may not. After a few weeks they will start to form roots and soon you'll have a new plant.
I got 7 cuttings from the lopsided plant. Hopefully enough will live so that I can fill in the lopsided pot. If they all live I'll have a few extras for the garden. The clear container around the others has some water in it. This is to provide a little extra humidity to the cuttings.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
A tree may eventually engulf anything in it's way as it slowly grows. I've seen gravestones, fences, nails and clotheslines all 'eaten' by trees. For years I've used a small area north of my garage between the garage and a chainlink fence as a good out-of-the-way place to compost leaves and weeds. A few wild tree though have taken hold and probably managed to not get cleared out because they were very close to the fence. One of the trees is a crab apple tree that has managed to grow tall enough to get some sun over the garage. It has pretty flowers in spring so I've let it be. Over the years it's managed to grow right through the fence. Actually about 1/4 of the trunk is on the neighbors side of the fence.Recently I was thinking about finding a place for a few dwarf fruit trees. In my post Thinking in Another Dimension - Espalier , I discussed how I'm planning on having a few fruit trees that I espalier to the front of my house. Another idea I'm thinking about is trying to graft some regular apple scions onto the crab apple. I figure I have nothing to loose and it would be a good tree on which to practice learning to graft. There is also a Norway maple growing through the same fence. All I can think of doing with that tree is adding it to the wood pile, unless someone has a better idea.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
I actually found a photo I took in my archives of an example of espalier. It’s early in the season and I don’t think the tree on the left is fully leafed out so you can get a good look at the branches. Click on the photo to enlarge it.
Lumembourg Garden, Paris France
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Monday, February 06, 2006
Allium, Belmont, MA USA
Tulip, Belmont, MA USA
Spring Blossoms, Notre Dame Church, Paris France
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Saturday, February 04, 2006
At noon I'd eaten a delicious lunch of soup with homemade chicken stock, the kind that's all jellied when it's in the frig. The soup also had escarole and carrots. It tasted great, but, as I was to find out almost 6 hours later, it had little staying power. After lunch I left to do a list of errands. While doing them, I managed to get lost, get wet, get cold and finally get home tired and hungry with my throat feeling sore and my sinuses begging me to put hot towels on my face. I wanted to eat something easy, something warm and full of carbs. What I ended up making is crepes filled with nutella. This was not an upscale French restaurant kind of crepe. No, it was a large streets-of-Paris kind of crepe. Carbs filled with more carbs and folded over so that silverware in not required to eat it. Its something that's so easy to make with ingredients that are almost always on hand. It only takes a few minutes to make. In addition to my high carb nutella version, there is my daughter's favorite version, nutella and banana slices or the Americanized version, peanut butter and jelly crepes. There are many recipes for dinner or desert crepe, but her's my recipe for high carb crepes.
High Carb Crepes
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon melted butter or oil
1. Wisk together all ingredients until all lumps are removed.
2. In a 12 inch or larger oiled skillet pour about 1/4 to 1/2 cup batter.
3. Move the pan around to spread out the batter so it's thin.
4. Cook on both sides until done.
5. Remove pancake from the pan and spread with nutella, jam or some other high carb spread. Be creative.
6. Fold in half. Fold again in quarters. Fold again in eights if possible.
7. Eat while it's still warm.
8. Repete steps 2-7 until you come to your senses or fall into a carb induced stupor.
makes 3 or 4 large crepes