Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Mask Up

A. Do you wear a mask?  
    Yes, thank you, go to paragraph B.  
    No.  Really?  Go to paragraph G.

B. Do you wear a cloth or paper mask?
    Cloth mask, go to paragraph C.
    Paper mask, go to paragraph D

C. How often do you wash your mask(s)?
    Often, constantly, or similar go to paragraph F.
    Rarely, if ever, go to paragraph G.

D. How much wear before disposing of your mask?
    Constant, multiple days, go to paragraph G.
    Minimal, disposable is disposable after all, go to paragraph F.

F. Thank you.  You are doing well but always strive for better.

G. What the hell is wrong with you?  Clean up and respect your fellow man, for a change.

Okay, you get the idea, but there's more here and elsewhere.  Blue Witch brought up the topic recently on her blog, and she is correct, this should be talked about more and correct protocols discussed.  And I don't think either one of us is above mask-shaming.  Masks are nothing but icky things on your face if not used correctly.  And by correctly I also mean covering both your nose and your mouth.  At the same time!

On the other side of the fence is another blogger who I shall not name, but is in my right column.  I've followed them for a very, very long time now so while I still check in over there I usually refrain from commenting.  I have a feeling I would be shouted down anyway as I'm not really debate team material. At all.

One of my favorite sayings about masks likens it to pee:  Imagine you're standing in front of someone, facing each other, and you're both naked.  If he pees, you get wet.  If you wear pants and he pees, you still get wet, but not as bad.  If he wears pants and pees he gets himself wet.  We can't help but pee, or in this case breathe.  Respect others and keep yourself contained, for chrissake.

I've not addressed my own mask wearing here yet, but I will now.  I don't wear a mask 98% of the time, but that's because I'm at home 98% of the time now, if not more.  I don't wear a mask outside in my own yard, but I don't run into other people in my own yard.  I don't wear my mask on neighborhood walks, unless we have to get near people, which is a good reason to avoid the bike paths.  I don't wear a mask in my car, I wear a mask when I get to my destination, outside of home.  Anywhere I have to go outside the home, like just regular errands, I wear a mask.

We've had exactly 10 friends over to the house effectively all of this year, and all for firepits.  Social distancing is pretty easy in the back yard as the most at a time we have over is 2 other people.  I have required masks if they need to go into the house, and all have happily complied or not had to go inside.  No large gatherings here, and not likely for the holidays, either.

When this first started I ordered a pack of cloth masks, and used them, and washed them.  But the washing made them shrink so they were tight and uncomfortable, so I bought a box of 50 individually wrapped black paper disposable masks.  Much more comfortable for my big head.  Now, if I only use one for a few minutes then I have been known to throw it in the glove box and use it again,  but keep in mind that one I used for just a few minutes one day may sit for over a week until I use it again.  I'll probably get some grief for that, and it may be deserved.  But at only 40-50 cents a pop I have no qualms about tossing them and using a new one for most things, either.

How is your mask use?   How's mine?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Firewood, Fall Chores

Late afternoon yesterday the firewood delivery arrived.  I'd been done with work for hours and was pretty much in relaxation mode, but with my wife's help we got it all neatly stacked.  The small pile on the far left is the leftovers, the other small pile is new wood that wouldn't fit on the rack.  I don't expect either of these small piles to last very long.  Now I know I'll have enough to get through spring, or at least to spring.

Today has been overcast and blustery, with an expected high of 67ºF, and again the news is saying this will be the last 'nice' day as high temperatures will be going back down to about the 50º mark in the extended forecast.  I managed to get some yardwork done yesterday while waiting for the wood, including mowing/mulching the leaves in the back yard, but there is more to be done yet.

I contacted the fencing company yesterday to verify we're still on for replacing our fence about a month from now, and they confirmed.  The exact day may change due to the weather, but it should only take one day to complete.  I wanted to keep the old one as long as possible but it's just gotten so rotten it's starting to fall apart.  I probably should have done it last year and next year it will only be worse, so best to just get it done.  It should look pretty similar, 6' dog-eared, but brand new cedar.  At least it will be one thing crossed off the list, and it will look a lot better, too.

Is cedar the best wood for raised bed gardens?  I'm going to have to figure that out.  I'll not use treated lumber again as I may as well use regular lumber because it obviously won't last more than 9 years or so anyway, and my hope is to not have to rebuild these again, however wishful thinking that may be.

Most fall chores now are just hurry up and wait.  As the plants wilt I'll mulch them up with the string trimmer.  As the black walnut leaves fall I will mow to mulch.  After the maple tree leaves fall I'll rake and mulch them for flowerbeds.  And when all the leaves are done I'll need to clean out the gutters.   All the potted plants will need to be cleaned up and the compost turned.  And before it starts to freeze regularly (still haven't had first frost, but maybe tomorrow morning) I'll have to get the hose put away and the power washer stored in the basement, along with a couple crates of paint, lawn care and other products out of the garage.

So, while it seems like a lot of work it will be spread out for several weeks up to a couple months yet.  I hope for plenty of opportunities to relax by the fire along the way.  

Actually, I hope to be able to go out to eat, hang out at the bar, go see a show or just socialize with friends and family, but I'll take what I can get this year.  Stay safe, all.  And wash your mask.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Showered With Leaves

Tonight as I sat by the fire, I looked up.  It was about 20 minutes after sunset, which is when bats can start being seen flying above and I like to watch for them.  What happened next was a lot of leaves showering down on and around me.  I never did notice any bats while watching the leaves.

It's fall and leaves are changing, but neighbor Dave's three Black Walnut trees are always the first to lose their leaves.  And conveniently, mind you, as they are not good for compost or mulch in the flowerbeds.  They can wash out the color of flowers and we have a lilac under them that proves it.  I usually mulch them into the lawn with the mower and harvest the later leaves, mostly maple, for mulch around the yard.

That's almost it for my firewood until Tuesday, just a small pile left after this weekend.  On Friday I was looking ahead and put in an order to have another face cord of mixed hardwoods delivered.  I still have plenty of time for having fires before winter sets in, after all.  

First face cord took 2 years to burn.  Second face cord, only 3 months.  Thanks, 2020.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Friday Night Fire & More

 It was a dreary and overcast evening yesterday, but at least it was dry.  I went out to sit by the fire and decided to film a little and wound up taping the whole night.  Don't worry, this is only the first half hour.  After that I was on a video call with my mom for some time, then it just got dark.  Pull up a chair and relax by the fire with me.

I've gone through a lot of wood this year.  My previous face cord lasted me two whole years while this one, delivered in July,  has lasted about 3 months so far.  I'll have to get another delivery in the next couple weeks as last year I managed to have one more fire after the winter solstice but before the new year.  It's these pandemic times, I have nothing better to do and no other place to go, may as well do something enjoyable.

It only took the cats a few days to start using the walkway.  I had a brown stripe-y rug in front (see last post) and I had the thought would they rather jump down onto concrete or the rug?  So I moved the rug to the right a little bit two days in a row until I noticed there was very little litter on it anymore but there was more litter going down the walkway to the step.  The were using it!  So that rug has now been removed as it is not needed.  Now when I clean the box every afternoon I was sweeping up the walkway first and I had an idea.  I had bought two new mats for this, a big one and a small one.  The big one is in the drawer, the small one wasn't being used.  So I cut the small one in half, mostly, it's still connected in the middle, which was the open side, and I used two sided tape to hold it in place.  Hopefully this will catch most of the rest of the litter the cats track out of the box.  The mats are two layers connected on three sides, so to clean them you separate the layers and dump.  For the half mats on the walkway it looks like I can just put the walkway in the down position, maybe give it a little jostle, and sweep up the litter.  I'm not sure if I'll be putting the walkway down every day now or just pulling the box toward me in the drawer to clean.  Or if this will even work at all, really, but I'll know soon enough.

So the orange one finally got sick.  No, I'm not celebrating.  I don't like that anyone is getting sick and that some are dying.  What it comes down to is that it was preventable.  They were extremely careless, and they got the Covid.  It was just a matter of time, really.  The timing of his illness and the extent of how ill he'll actually get is very interesting, however.  Stay tuned on this one, folks.

Fall weather has definitely arrived here, and that brings outside chores that will need to be done soon.  I also have to get used to wearing long pants and socks again after several months of barefoot and shorts.  And non slip-on shoes seem like an atrocity now so I have been holding out still, even if that means wearing short socks with sandals, sorry.  But I don't hardly go anywhere or see anyone else but my wife these days anyway, so who cares?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Cat Box Area is Finished!

This afternoon I fastened the walkway to the drawer to finish the cat box area under the stairs.  Pretty much what I envisioned, but it took longer than it should have.  After considering it for years I got a start on it during my spring vacation last year.  It was a lot of trial and error as I cut and recut, screwed and unscrewed, and leveled the unlevel, but I did get to the point of getting the base installed - the base being the sides to attach the 32 inch, 400 pound capacity drawer slides I had already bought for the project.  And then when I thought I had finished, it still wasn't square.

So on my fall vacation last year I got a board cut and painted that would make it square, but as my back was giving me trouble then that's as far as I got and it sat for the winter.   Fast forward to my spring vacation this year, which was canceled as a couple weeks earlier I missed a whole lot of time from work trying to get over this nasty virus that's going around.  Yes, that one.  So the project sat and we and the cats just continued on as normal.  There was nothing wrong with how things were, I just wanted something better.

Pulled out for cleaning.
Recently on my fall vacation this year it was time to get this done.  I replaced the piece I needed to, built, fitted, caulked and painted the drawer, but due to the weather making for long drying times the project did drag on for a week and a half since my vacation now.  Not a big deal as it was mostly done and I was happy to enjoy the last of the work.  I didn't make any more trips to the hardware store for the last part and just used what I had, which is plenty, but the walkway is two pieces fastened together and I used screws that were a bit too long so had to grind down the points on the other side.  One thing I did order from Amazon is the folding brackets so the walkway will fold down.  I was searching Amazon for folding brackets and trying to figure out what I could use when I saw folding table leg brackets.  Odd, I thought, but they looked like they'd work and sure enough, they did.

So now the cats have a new area, including a brand new litter box, scooper and a mat that is supposed to catch the litter that gets dragged out.  There will still be some litter escaping on their paws as it's impossible to teach a cat to wipe its feet, but hopefully most of it will stay contained so I just have to clean the drawer once a week instead of sweeping the whole area every day.  I don't know if they will know to use the walkway or how long it will take them, but if they get tired of jumping up or we get water on the floor I think they'll figure it out.  So, regular readers have heard me mention this project at times for a long time now, what do you think?

A couple more views after the break!

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Friday Firepit and Cat Box Update

Last night was the first time I had a chance to have a firepit for two weeks now, and it was very nice to once again sit by the fire and ponder life's meaning.  After the last fire I was on vacation for a week so, of course, every day was wet.  Off work all week and I couldn't even do what I look forward to the most, this year anyway.  Then this past week I was back at work, so I couldn't wait for Friday night.  Oh, I could have a fire during the week but it does put a damper on it knowing I have to get up early the next day.  Tonight, Terry and Becky are coming over to celebrate my and Terry's birthday - postponed from last Saturday.  It will be nice to visit again and catch up around the fire.

The bright dot is the ISS flying left to right across the sky last night.  Below and a bit to the right is the North Star, and on the right side is Cassiopeia with the top left dot of the W obscured by light pollution.  I could still see the Big Dipper over the garage, getting lower in the sky, and later I even saw Orion and his belt hiding behind one of the trees.  The ISS will be flying by again tonight at 8:02, 63 minutes after sunset.

The cat box project is coming along.  I was thinking I started it years ago but it was actually June of 2019, I'd just been thinking of doing this for years now to help contain the mess.  The biggest problem was that nothing under the stairs was square.  I had gotten everything pretty square last year except for one piece that had to be replaced, but I had that piece cut and painted already, just not installed.  With that installed I was able to build the drawer but then it's been pretty much waiting for paint to dry between coats.  The drawer is now installed as of yesterday, and the cat box is moved into it, so it's about 90% done.  All that's left is a walkway so the cats can go from the bottom stair over to the drawer without stepping paw on the floor.  This way I don't have to do anything for them on the occasions a few times a year when water comes in.  I built and started to paint that walkway today, so it shouldn't be long now and I can finally share with you my latest DIY creation.

Friday, September 11, 2020


My Mom said I was born about 8:30 at night, if I remember right.  Here's the numbers, screenshot taken from here as close as I could to the time, please forgive the yellow-ness.  What else can I do for my birthday this year, anyway?

As for my next few milestones, 700 months will be about 58.4 years old, 3000 weeks will be about 57.5 years old, but 20,000 days will only be about 54.8 years old.  If I can possibly remember 20,000 days, I'll celebrate.  That seems to be on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, and now that I know I'll have to add it to the calendar.  Save the date!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

September This-And-Thats

Barring small mammals and firepits there's not been a lot to write about over here the last several weeks.  One day blurs into the next as we work and rest while barely ever leaving the house.  But life moves ever forward and I needed a vacation from, well, work.  Not working for a few days will be the only difference as I still will barely leave the house.  Good times, eh?  Well, here I go typing again, so onward we go.

  • We set a record yesterday with a high temperature of only 57ºF and expect to set another record today with the same high temperature.  Both days have been cold, gloomy and wet, most especially for the date.  I've now worn socks, long pants and long sleeves again for the first time in several months.  Not the best week to take a vacation and try to get things done, but at least I'm not working.
  • It doesn't always happen that my birthday falls the same week as Labor Day.  Usually it's the week after so I benefit from a short week in addition to a week off.  This year it is the same week, this week, so while I am using up less time I will miss the extra day off.  And my Mom's birthday is a week and a half later.
  • For the holiday weekend I drove down to Dubuque on Sunday to spend some time with my Mom.  We enjoyed talking and relaxing, spending much of the evening sitting by her (gas) firepit.  Yes, we tried to social distance.  I know she's been careful and so have I, but it was nice to talk in person and not on a video call.  I left for home late the next morning, very thankful there was not the usual holiday traffic.  Thanks for having me over, Mom, it was a lot of fun.
  • The above is one of my favorite pictures from spring, I used it as my background all year.  On another of our walks recently I got an updated view, below, and now I use that as my background.  If you look all the way down to the end of the street you can just make out the yellow left turn sign, which is right next to the canoe/kayak slide on the creek.
  • The rest of Monday was spent being lazy, and looking back I wish I would have done more but the driving is tiring.  Yesterday, being so gloomy, the laziness continued.  And while today is much like yesterday there is no water in the basement so I got to work on the cat box area.  I have the structure of it as square as I can, installed the drawer slides and took all my measurements needed for building the drawer.  Hopefully with a little nicer weather I'll be working in the garage tomorrow.  Cutting and assembling should go quick but the paint may take longer to dry.
  • I've been watching the Bucks again since they restarted the season, but I stopped when they were down 3 games to nothing in the playoffs.  Why put myself through the anguish?  I told myself that if they come back and win 4 straight then maybe I'll watch the next series, but, of course, that didn't happen.  And after a short training camp and no preseason games the Packers will play this Sunday.  It will be interesting to see them play in an empty stadium, but I don't think the home viewing part will change much, especially if you've already been watching other sporting events without in-person fans.
  • We had another couple over for a fire last Friday, the sixth and seventh people we've had over for essentially all year.  The most we'll have is a couple at a time so social distancing is easy, and masks are required if they need to go into the house.  I do miss seeing other people, socializing and catching up.  This Saturday, Terry and her sister Becky are coming over to celebrate my and Terry's birthdays, just days apart.  Eight and nine, and there are others I still wish to have over this fall at some point.
That's all I can think of at the moment.  I think I'm in a little bit of a pandemic funk, despite being on vacation.  The weather is supposed to get better, so hopefully my mood will, too.  Be smart, stay well and stay safe, everyone.