Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Deck Watcher

A couple years ago, I gave one of these to my sister for Christmas.

I've wanted one for myself ever since.

Back in May, I stumbled across a sale on collegiate merchandise at a fan site I've frequented in the past. This guy, usually $24.99, was on sale for $10. I also got another Hawkeye tee shirt because I realized all the shirts I have are from bowl games. I didn't have a shirt which just said "Hawkeyes". As shipping was a flat rate, I got a shirt.

He's happily amongst the flower pots on the deck.

Come winter, I'll bring him in and find a place in the living room. Makes me happy to come out here and sit.

Beverage:  Scottish Breakfast Tea


Stampity Stamp Stamp

If you don't write many letters or send out any bills, preferring to pay them online, you may not be aware of a new stamp issued last month. It honors the upcoming total eclipse, which will extend from Oregon to South Carolina next month.

These stamps are way cool because they are heat sensitive. When you touch them, the black of the sun turns into the full of the moon.

The technology is the same as those changeable mugs you often see where the addition of hot water makes the image change. I was so excited, I had my niece, who works for the post office in Wisconsin, get me three sheets.

The stamps are available with a protective sleeve. It costs a quarter.

And the sheet back shows the route of the eclipse.

I don't know how well they are selling but if you want a memento of this stellar (see what I did there?) event, this is a good thing to have. I will be using at least one sheet of the stamps for letters.

I've been told there's not much of a market anymore for stamps. Even when I was actively collecting, I only purchased those stamps I liked. Over the years, the stamp binder became a nuisance and I wound up using 95% of the stamps I'd collected. They just didn't mean anything to me. Now, I don't collect to save so much as I buy to use. This sheet I will save simply because this is truly a once in a lifetime event. I have photos from the last eclipse to affect the US so I'll need to get those out and compare the lighting.

The post office also issued round stamps. These are neat.

I got a sheet of these simply because they are different. All these stamps bring up a question. The post office has been issuing stamps commemorating the Chinese New Year for a very long time. This year is the Year of the Rooster. Chickens! I love the look of the chicken stamps.

There is something intrinsically satisfying about sticking a chicken stamp on a bill. Looking at what is slated to come out, next week, there will be sharks.

I will have to get sheets of shark stamps. Dear readers, I will be doing custom Christmas cards again this year owing to the Disney trip in October. Do I put chickens or sharks on my Christmas cards? Released this week was Disney Villains.

I will get a sheet of these but I am not called to use these for my Christmas cards. I cannot decide, though, about sharks or chickens. Therefore, I'm turning to my readers, the few of you who there are, and asking, "Chickens or sharks on Christmas cards?"

Beverage:  Scottish Breakfast Tea


Monday, July 17, 2017

So You Don't Have To

There was a hullabaloo (talk about an archaic word, but there you have it) at the middle of April when Oreos announced a new flavor.

Of course, when I saw them in the store, I had to try them. It's a public service I provide, you know.

Ah Pop Rocks. I remember you from the early 1990's. They were mildly amusing then. Carole didn't like them. She wasn't thrilled with stuff exploding in your mouth. Let's see how the combination of Oreos and Pop Rocks goes.

Meh. I was expecting more of an explosion. There wasn't much taste to Pop Rocks, if I'm remembering them correctly. My memory leaves me with the impression that the smell upon opening the bag was more pronounced than the actual flavor. This was the same impression with Oreos. You had your typical Oreo cookie taste with an occasional pop when a fleck hit your tongue. Those pops were few, at least in my bag of cookies.

Sigh. I just don't see that Oreo is losing market share to anyone. So, I'm really not certain why they feel the need to do something like this. It was underwhelming. Supposedly, there is or was, a waffles and maple syrup version of Oreos out there. I haven't seen those to try them. I'm intrigued, but, again, why mess with the greatness that is chocolate wafers with white stuff in the middle of them?

I'm not sure you can find these anymore. I think they were out for Memorial Day and have disappeared from shelves. If, by chance, your retailer has a stash and puts them out for sale, save your pennies. These aren't worth it at any price.

Beverage:  Water


Weekend Warrior

It was time to do battle with the weeds around the air conditioner. This is a long-term war. It's going to take many battles to win. I needed a reasonably decent day to start the war, one not overly hot and humid.

Step 1: I need to clear around the unit again.

I had cleared this out at the end of May, but, as weeds do, more filled in. With the heavy rains last week, the ground was soft and pulling was much easier. Plus, with all the foliage, the ground was shaded and retained moisture, helping the uprooting process.

After 40 minutes, the area around the unit looked like this.

I had to cut back several small trees and sprayed them with Round-Up in the hopes that kills them. I found four milkweed plants. There has been one monarch in the back yard so I was loathe to pull any milkweeds. But my assessment of the area deemed two of them in the way so I removed them. I'm not sure about the tiger lilies on the south side of the unit. They are blooming so I didn't pull them, but I pulled most of the other ones I found. The clippings pile was fairly big.

At this point, I took a break. I have to watch myself and not overstretch my stamina. I figured I'd leave this pile and deal with it the next day if necessary. But after a 20 minute rest, I (Step 2) cleared the pile into yard waste containers ready to be put out on Wednesday evening. That feels like a success.

Step 3: Time to lay the landscape fabric.

The most important place is in front of the unit. That needs to be clear for air circulation. It took two rows of fabric to cover the area. I've not worked with this before. It's very lightweight and easily blows in any kind of breeze. It also stuck to the bottom of my shoes so smoothing it was a problem. I finally gave up and left the bulges.

Step 4: Mulch.

I bought two colors, black and red. This mulch also comes in a light and dark brown. The black went down first. It didn't cover as much as I hoped it would. I laid another section of fabric and broke up the red bag.

In the clearing of the weeds, I liberated a brick and a couple of rocks. I'm calling them my "strategic" rocks. I probably won't move them. They helped hold down the fabric while I spread the mulch.

I think the red bag went farther than the black bag. I'm fairly certain I spread them to an equal depth. Maybe I didn't.

This was all I could do on Saturday. I only had two bags of mulch and I filled all my yard waste containers. I don't have funds to buy more mulch right now, but this coming weekend, I possibly could pull and cut back the rest of this patch. Then I could spray the small trees in the patch in preparation for covering them with fabric. I know there are more stones and bricks in here. If there are enough, I could put down the fabric, weighing down the corners with stones. At least that would be done. I'm still going to go with the black and red color scheme. I like the blocks of color.

This took two hours to do. I went inside, took a shower and then took a 2 hour nap.

So, I'm not sure what to do with the garbage, recycling and yard waste containers which I've usually lined up here along the edge. To the right of this photo is a very overgrown area adjacent to the shed with the lawnmower. I've given consideration to having the tree service come out, after we get our bonuses, and assuming the bonus is sufficient, and remove all these overgrown trees from this area, grind out the stumps and rake it smooth. Then, I could put the cans over there in the spring, summer and fall, moving them in November near the house where it will be easier to have access to them. I'm thinking, next year, I can put pots of flowers here, or get another raise bed and put the peppers, which aren't doing as well as I'd hoped, over here. Decisions. Decisions. At least this project is started and will be finished this year.

Beverage:  Water