Saturday, August 13, 2022

Mini-Vacation This-And-Thats

A few weeks ago my counterpart at work took 3 of 4 weeks off, so I took Thursday and Friday off this week as a little reward for myself and to get me to my full week vacation coming up in September.  Only a couple days, but I've been able to get a few things done that I've been wanting to do and now I have several things I'd been wanting to share plus a few new things.  So it's time again to start typing and see if I remember it all.

  • A couple years ago I shared this site as I found it interesting to compare the size of different parts of the world since maps can skew things quite a bit.  I've since found a similar site here that is a bit easier to use but includes water area in the outlines.  Still, I wanted to share as a follow up to this post.
  • I do remember reading something about those butterfly signs pictured last post but I haven't been able to find anything on them online.  I'm thinking they're a promotion for Olbrich Gardens' Blooming Butterflies event in the Bolz Conservatory this summer, just ended.  I've also seen them as photo-ops for kids spreading their arms while standing in front.  I like them, we should keep them around like some of the painted cows around Madison.
  • A year or two ago we got a new grill, and while I have no complaints about the grill itself the wheels were a bother, too small and made it rather difficult and noisy to move the grill around.  I finally bought better wheels online and spent a some time getting it done.  Not a straightforward procedure as I had to use the existing screwholes to fasten a wood base.  I expected a bit more to work with when I turned it over, but where there's a will there's a way.  Once I got wood pieces fastened on I screwed on plywood that I could then screw the new wheels onto.  Not ideal, but more than sturdy, will last at least as long as the grill does, and moving the grill is so much easier and quieter now.  In the picture you can see the wheel size comparison.
  • I'm finally committed, for the first time since 2019, to go out and experience live music.  There was just Atwoodfest with several bands on our visit, but this is a live big rock band in a music venue that I paid (a lot of) money to go see.  Legacy band ZZ Top will be here in a week and a half and I got one of the few seats at the Sylvee to enjoy the experience.  It's been just a matter of time until I broke the seal; I considered The Melvins who were in town a bit ago and Anvil just a couple weeks ago.  I didn't pull the trigger for either of those, but like I felt when I bought Alice Cooper tickets, this may be my last chance to see ZZ Top.  Dusty passed recently and who's to say how long Billy and Frank can continue.  The inevitable happens to us all, rock stars included.  I'm planning on going alone, but it's a weeknight so will have to work in the morning, too.
  • The Packers played their first preseason game last night.  It was sloppy and they lost, but about par for the course for a first preseason game.  Good to watch and know that football is coming, but it also means summer is coming to a close.  It won't be long until autumnal signs will start appearing, and our recent cooler temperature trend is too soon but may also be a sign.  Like in the last bullet point, the passing of time is inevitable.
  • I still have the weekend here then back to work for another month until my fall vacation.  I'm not sure what my main project will be for that time, but if nothing else I have some driveway cracks to seal, windows to wash, and may even do the edging along the walks.  For now, I'm about to go out to lunch with a friend, then hopefully get a good walk in with my wife and then just normal weekend chores left to do.  Should be a relaxing time, overall, hope yours will be, too.
I've been forgetting to put the walnut count at the end of my posts like I wanted.  I thought it might be fun this year as I believe it's going to be a lot.  For perspective, I'll have to get a picture soon of the tree overhang so you can see the section of walnut trees overhanging the back yard.  So far they're just starting to fall still, but as I sat by the fire Thursday night and looked up before the darkness came, I wondered if I should put on my old hard hat.

Walnut count: 205

Here, what appears to be an F-35 turns over the neighborhood to come in to land.  Pictures just don't do justice to how close they are in person.

*Edit later in the afternoon.  I went back and looked at the series of jet pictures, and you can see it get bigger as it got closer to overhead.  Posted after the break!

Monday, August 1, 2022

Atwoodfest 2022, Dancin' In The Street!

It was a perfect day; warm but not too warm, sunny but not too sunny, and it felt good to have the festival back after 2020 off and a small parking lot version that we skipped last year.  A very good day, but this year I'll let the pictures do the talking (maybe with a few captions).

Saturday, July 30, 2022


No, not that kind, that was June.  Pride, satisfaction, happiness, gratification, fulfillment, contentment; whatever you want to call it.  It's a good feeling, even if fleeting.  I've felt a bit of that lately, as I sat by the fire last night I looked around me and just appreciated it all.

My wife and I have a nice house, if small, that's in pretty good shape and we've made some good improvements, inside and out, so far.  We have an exceptional lawn for the area, as it was when we bought it so I've maintained that, which does take some doing.  The gardens and flowerbeds are looking good and the compost bin I built with just a vague plan to start is still holding up great and looking good.  The garage is stuffed full but well organized so even I can usually get 3/4 way around the car to get to anything anytime.  The firepit and wood rack have been a great addition to the yard and got me out of the house and outside much more during a pandemic, and still, obviously.  We live on a nice street and though the street itself is getting a little rough in spots the neighborhood is nice, calm and family-oriented.  And in a good part of town, on the bike path to easily get to other parts of town or as far as you're willing to walk or bike.  The city itself has many outstanding features that are unique, including the middle of the city is our state capitol building on an isthmus.

And, well, now Livability rated Madison as the best place to live in the US for a second year in a row.  The link is a quick read, points out some highlights and numbers.  Not that I take a whole lot of stock in the ranking, whatever number, but to consistently be on lists like these, it must be a pretty good place.  A related article here points out lots more of those lists, and more of the varied features of the city that are too numerous for me to try to list here.

It's easy to take for granted.  We live here every day, this is normal to us.  But realizing you have it pretty good in a pretty good place feels pretty damn good, sometimes.  I like to ignore the weight of the world in those moments, and just be proud of what we have.  And that's okay.

Monday, July 25, 2022

July This-And-Thats

Well, things happen and you get too busy or just too tired to write anything, then a day goes by, then a week.  Before I get any more backed up with thoughts let me try to get them in writing.

  • The air conditioning was turned off yesterday, so back to windows open for what looks like a good stretch.  I took what was probably my longest single walk of the year so far, today.  I've been really good about walking this year more than ever, but my bike hasn't come down from the garage rafters yet.  I'll make that happen before summer is over, though.
  • Oh yes, I went to that creek thing a week ago Saturday morning and I had meant to write about that sooner.  Basically a volunteer couple comes out every month but winter and monitors the creek.  Other than them and me, two women showed up separately, so a small group.  They showed us how they check for volume, clarity, chlorides and oxygen.  The most interactive part was looking for different invertebrates he'd scoop up from the edges.  It was informative and kind of fun, but too much information about the creek's PFAS situation that I already knew, if not the exact numbers.  If you come and fish in a Madison lake, catch and release - do not eat.  Forty minutes after the posted 90 minute session and I thanked them and extracted myself to get on with my day.  Maybe that's why I put off writing about it.  
  • Pics from that day aren't the best and it would take many to show full context, so here's some kayakers I caught on my walk today.  They're just about by the canoe slide on their left, but many trek upstream as far as navigable then turn around.  I think that's pretty much the road bridge at the top end of this stretch of the creek, but I've never specifically looked for that so will have to on my next walk.
  • Thursday was a bit stressful for us, though much more so for the cats.  It was time for the vet, and this time we tried taking them at the same time.  There was howling and hissing and the smell of pee, but the vet was very nice and very good with them.  Basil was a little bitch, but Hamish took it much better.  The rest of the afternoon and evening the cats didn't exactly get along.  No fights, but some hissing and growling if Hamish got too close to Basil.  Once they had cleaned themselves thoroughly things seemed to get better.  All in good health, Hamish at 7 pounds and Basil at 15!
  • Friday was very stressful for me at work, having to perform a task for only the second time ever with no training just some written instructions that half didn't apply with other situations that arise and then an hour-long meeting about something else but same deadline.  In the end I got everything done on time with assistance from a coworker, and we pledged to overhaul the process.  That's been one of my roles at work, learn the task thoroughly and then improve it.
  • I was thinking that I may have started my walnut count a bit too early, but not after seeing neighbor Dave's yard.  He's still recovering from his torn achilles so can't pick them up, and son-in-law mowed over them so now you can see them all, just everywhere.  Dave told me he also complained about almost twisting his ankle at least 5 times as he mowed (Imagine that!).  I've been helping by getting Dave's sticks and bringing in his garbage cans, and I was hoping his kids would pick up the walnuts before they mowed.  They might not have a choice next time, though.  Dave agreed with me, it's going to be a banner season for walnuts this year.
  • Not a walnut tree pictured here, but the base of the maple that will be coming down.  I realized that in front of neighbor Dave's house will be the last maple on the street, but my wife noticed a red maple toward the top.  How many years did it take to look like this, 50, 70, more?
Okay, that's enough typing.  It's Monday and I'm tired and want to move on to other things.  Have a great week, everyone.

Walnut count: 36

Monday, July 18, 2022

284-7624 and Nuts!

Cheers to everyone who can remember their childhood phone number!  I can remember this from very young when living in the 3rd house I remember growing up in, in Illinois.

There was a white house we lived in the upstairs, I believe - my first memory of a place I lived.  Then a pink house on a street called Steinman, small and one story with a separate garage and shared driveway.  Then a red house on the corner of Jefferson Avenue (1135 - still remember the street number, too) and another street, two stories with a big yard, huge willow tree, and a tire swing.  I think we moved there about 1973, so I was about 5 or 6 years old.  This is the house that I remember most and we had that phone number until we moved to Wisconsin. 

It was a party line when we first had the phone there, meaning the whole street shared the same phone line.  You could pick up the phone and hear a neighbor on a call so have to wait your turn.  I don't remember the party line lasting long, and then we had our own line and this was the number.  It was taught to me at that young age just in case I was abducted or, much more likely, gotten lost as an oblivious child sometimes will.  I've now remembered a phone number I've not had for about 44 years, yet I can forget why I entered a room a minute ago.

*          *          *

I found the above as an old draft from last year and figured why waste mediocre writing?  I just cleaned it up a bit and here it is.  I sat down this afternoon after work to write about the creek thing I did on Saturday morning and got distracted with finding that and another idea I had more recently, below, so I'll write about the creek monitoring later in the week.

*          *          *

The other day I cleaned up some downed live branches from one of neighbor Dave's three black walnut trees in his back yard.  At the time I noticed the walnuts were pretty much full size already, and I have a feeling this year is going to be a bumper crop, so I decided to keep a running total of the number of walnuts I pick up with my grabber and send to the corner behind the lilac.  I've done this before, informally, both daily and cumulatively one year but gave up at about a thousand.  This time I'll note the counts in my garage notebook and update the total here whenever I post.  As the count goes up, remember, these are just from my small yard, next to the yard with the walnut trees.  I'd imagine Dave gets at least 5 times as many as I'll get, and probably more.

And before you ask, no, I do not try to save them, shell them, dry them, crack and eat them.  I leave that for the squirrels, they don't seem to mind fattening up on them.

Walnut Count:  22

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Another Tree Going, More

We found out yesterday that we're losing another tree on the street, very close to home.  Right by the driveway, in fact.  The city deems it dangerous so it will be removed.

About when we moved in back in 2009 we lost a couple large trees toward the bottom of the street, removed by the city.  Between then and 2021 we lost at least a couple on the street, including one just across and a house up and one just two houses up, but I don't think I posted about them.  Then, in early 2021, while snow was still on the ground, we had 3 large trees removed toward the top of the street.  After that, in June 2021, we lost the big tree directly across the street from us.  Now, we're going to lose the large tree just to the left in front of neighbor Jane's house.  It does have a dead branch hanging pretty much over our front awning, but we hesitated to report it because we were afraid they would remove the whole tree.  Now that will happen anyway.

My wife overheard the guy from the city talking to neighbor Jane about it, and it seems he pointed out some good reasons.  He also said it may be some time before it actually gets removed.  A few weeks ago we had some strong storms come through, causing damage with sticks, branches and whole trees coming down.  Last I heard, about a week or so ago, they had already removed over 3 million pounds of debris from across the city and it seems they still have a ways to go.  I know my stick pile just got picked up recently.  It was a rather large pile, but thankfully just sticks and I picked them up from both my and neighbor Dave's yards as he is recovering from a torn achilles (at 84!).  That was a lot of trips to the curb (but no bending over thanks to my trusty stick grabber).

I'm always sad to see big trees go, especially in our own neighborhood, but I do understand the dangerous situations they can sometimes create.  We still have a similar tree on the other side, in front of neighbor Dave's house, and if that one is removed my heart will break again and we will not have any large trees left in front of the house.

In other news, during a walk around our section of the creek today we saw all the wildflowers that were blooming or getting there.  Some get very tall so they just take some time to grow.  I also noticed how the steps and canoe slide, installed in September 2019 (parts one, two, and three), were looking.

The steps look like they have not been used at all, but for the ducks, while the canoe slide has seen a bit more action.  It's not uncommon to see someone get dropped off or carry/wheel their canoe down the street to the slide for summer fun.  Certainly not every day or even weekend, but not uncommon and good to see it does get used.

But at least these are summer happenings, much more fun to write about than winter happenings.  I hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far.  Don't let it slip by, it will be cold again before we know it!

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Fourth Of July, 2022

I've not felt like talking about it much lately, but this being Independence Day weekend is a good time to break my silence.  I have not felt very patriotic at all recently.

It started well over 4 years ago.  I'll never forget that sick feeling in my gut when the orange one got elected.  At the time, I could only imagine the destruction and havoc that would create.  We survived those 4 years, barely, but the ramifications of it are still being seen and I fear will continue for quite some time yet.  An attempted hostile takeover of the government, prospective judges lying under oath to achieve a position on the high court to do what they said they would not, lame attempts at gun control on the face while loosening legal restrictions in actuality, telling women they have no control over their own bodies, and religion becoming emboldened once again to force their beliefs on every person whether they agree or especially if they do not.  I've been feeling that same sick feeling in my gut more and more, with each figurative (for now) bomb that drops.  Soon, I expect the orange one to announce he will run again in the next election and I won't be surprised if he wins again in 2024.

I'm not one to normally delve into deep discussion of these topics, and I've always had the belief that the current times are always viewed as the worst of times, so tried to take everything with a grain of salt.  Every generation had its own crises in their own times and all believed it had it worse than ever before.  Now, instead of having faith that common sense will prevail in the end, I'm believing it, too.

Fuck you Trump, and fuck each of your far right followers.  Fuck you religion, and fuck you overbearing entitled religious zealots.  Fuck you liars, and fuck you to all who make decisions based on what is best for themselves and not for other people, the environment or the future.

The way I'm feeling right now, fuck you America.  At least 50% of you.  Fuck.  You.

Friday, June 17, 2022



Sunday, June 12, 2022

20,000 Days Old

In exactly two days from when this posts I turn 20,000 days old, on Tuesday the 14th at 8:20 p.m. local time.   This is posted ahead of time due to the emails can take a couple days to go out now, but at least they're still going out.

Aside from being a nice round number this doesn't mean much of anything, except maybe that I like numbers.  I've had this site saved for some time and I look at it once in a while.  A couple months ago I looked and noticed I had this milestone coming up, and they also have a widget for a countdown so I added that in the right column of the website at that time.  Not sure if it will stop or go negative when it gets there.

I have an aunt that created this painted plaster memento for my parents after my birth and this is how I recalled what time I was born.  I know she signed up to get the emails several years ago, and her email still shows as active so I hope she's still getting them.  Thank you, Aunt M! 

Monday, June 6, 2022

Two Mow May

No Mow May was a two mow May for me, plus some thatching and seeding and pulling weeds.  Many in this area subscribed to the aforementioned idea gladly, I think, whereas I guess I like it tidy.  I did notice most of the lawns that were left to grow were a high percentage of non-grass, and I'm sure dandelions and other flowering weeds are better for the pollinators than grass that's gone to seed.

I had the thought of taking a walk and collecting pictures of those tall lawns but, like Halloween, I decided not to photograph others' properties.  This was a few days into June so some had been cut already, anyway.  We did happen across this neighbor who appeared to be struggling to get the mower through the tall grass and weeds and I just couldn't resist trying to get a stealthy shot.  I know they succeeded eventually, but it really looks hacked up.

Did you let your lawn grow all May?