Saturday, October 23, 2021

October This-And-Thats*

Looks like I haven't done one of these posts since May, and I've not written a lot recently so I must have something to say.  Yes, it's time again to start typing and see what happens!

  • First, Feedburner said the blog mails would end in July.  Then they said August.  Now, here it is nearing the end of October and the emails are still going out.  I'm certainly not complaining, but there has been nothing posted about it that I've found since they said August.  A change of plans, perhaps, I guess time will tell.
  • While our fall has been warmer than normal so far, we have become more seasonable recently.  We normally get our first frost about October 7 and this year we got our first frost and freeze the other day, on Thursday night/Friday morning.  It all goes downhill from here now until we come out the other side in several months time.  Yes, I complain but I don't move away.  It's another Wisconsin pastime, kind of like last post and probably a big reason for it!  Well, at least there's no snow in the forecast yet.
  • Last weekend we did some yardwork and got the gardens ready for winter.  The back left garden has been fully planted with garlic.  The back right garden with the monster herb plant that the name escapes me now has the rest of the area planted with just an odd collection of bulbs that we had stored downstairs from planting and replanting things in the flower beds.  It will be interesting to see what comes up in spring; certainly some tulips, daffodil and hyacinth are possible, and who knows what else.  You can see here if you look close that the squirrels already dug one big bulb up.  That's also why we have that old makeshift cover over the garlic.  Then the strawberry and raspberry plants have been cleaned up and straw put down for winter.  All the compost soil has been emptied from the left side of the compost bin into the gardens while the right side fills up with yard waste.  Shredded paper to cover it all and the bottom of the empty side, we'll start using the left side only soon and let the right side break down to go into the gardens next fall.  The compost bin is one of my favorite things I ever built.
  • I've not been walking as much recently, not because I don't want to walk but my knee has been acting up.  The right one, the one that I busted up the femur there back in 2010.  Perhaps it's the change in weather, but I don't remember this from recent years.  Not painful so much as uncomfortable as the patellar tendon seems tight and aggravated.  Hopefully nothing comes of it and I can continue my walks soon.
  • My mouse broke yesterday, thankfully it waited until after I was done working.  The scroll wheel started making noise so after work I ordered another one, the mouse must have noticed and shortly after gave up the ghost.  I have the same mouse but wireless that I'm using now, but it's not as responsive and is currently driving me a little batty so I hope the new one arrives early, it's currently scheduled for Tuesday.  Come on, Amazin' Prime!
  • Speaking of work, we are now required to be fully vaccinated by a date in December.  President Biden's executive order for government contractors.  That would be us, and it includes fully remote workers as well as those who go into the office.  I've already provided my proof of vaccination, and really no bother to me as I've been vaccinated for quite some time.  There are others I know of who are not, though, so it will be interesting to see what happens and who believes in not getting it so much that they lose their job.  
  • I might give the impression that I color my fires more than I actually do.  Normally I save the color for when we have people over, but sometimes I do add it just for myself.  I'm thinking I may have one tonight, after the Wisconsin football game so I'd be out there just a bit before sunset.  It will be chilly with temperatures in the mid-40's F and falling, and I'm not sure I'm quite acclimated to these temperatures yet.
  • Speaking of the football game, I like to have a special football snack for games.  It can be almost anything, but today I'll be trying a recipe that I found.  Well, I'm not going to exactly follow the recipe, it will be my take on it.  Dill pickle, ranch and bacon pizza!  Sounds good to me, but disgusting to my wife.  We'll see how it turns out, but I have high hopes.
  • I've taken a few pictures of neighborhood Halloween decorations when I have walked, but I feel kind of funny taking pictures of other people's houses, so I haven't got much.  There is one house that beats all the others, hands down.  It's dark and with a steep pitched roof so looks like a good fit for Halloween even without decorations, but their display is pretty impressive.  Not everything even fits in one shot unless I'm pretty far back.  I am impressed, and I'll have to make it back after dark some night because I know they have lights for it, too.
Okay, this wireless mouse is really driving me nuts.  I may have to get out the tiny cheap one that comes with the computer, at least before work on Monday.  I thought a mouse pad would help, but not really.

Well, there's football to watch and pizza to prepare so that's enough writing for now.  Hope everyone is enjoying your weekend, I'll let you know how the pickle pizza turned out!  Maybe I'll add a picture later, if it was as good as I expect...

*Updated after the game.  Pickle pizza pictures (say that several times fast) after the break!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Best Place To Drink?

Just a couple recent articles that I found interesting enough to share.  

Madison has often been near or at the top of many 'best places to live' lists in the last couple decades, and finds itself number one once again.  This time Livability dot com conducted a survey of small and mid-size American cities and Madison came out on top after apparently coming in third last year.  Not a whole lot to hang your hat on, but a nice feather for it.  See the article and link here.

Also, another recent survey by 24/7 Wall St. on drinking shows that Wisconsin has the top 11 'drunkest' counties, and a whopping 41 of the top 50.  This is out of 3,143 counties in the U.S.  By their definition, I am a heavy drinker.  No surprise.  My county of  Dane is number 25 on that list.  Again, out of over three thousand U.S. counties! See that article and link here.

I'll drink to that - - Cheers, Madison!

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Last Tiger Lily

We have two different kinds of tiger lilies in the flower bed along the porch.  One kind that was here when we moved in, a little larger and later-blooming, pretty much on each end, and another kind along the middle that is earlier-blooming.  They've all been done blooming for some time now except for one stalk near the far corner.  After all the rest were done this one still showed a few flower pods yet to open, so I've been watching it to see if they all actually would bloom and, somewhat surprisingly, they have.

When there were 3 or 4 pods left on the stalk I started taking pictures of them, anticipating each to be the last.  I didn't believe the small ones would grow in the cooler weather.  Even now there appears to be a very small flower bud there but I just can't see it being able to grow enough to bloom, so this, I believe, is the last tiger lily of the season for us.

On one of my recent walks I picked a gourd that was growing wild along the bike path, not in one of the community gardens, either, but along the creek.  I saw the vine growing all year, and this last time it was roughly cut back and I saw two left that looked ready, so I took one with me.  Not sure why or what I was going to do with it, it just seemed like an autumnal thing to do, maybe place it somewhere as a fall decoration.  I expected the squirrels to mess with it, but so far they haven't.

And the flowers we have left in the stump area are still doing very well.  We've had several cool days recently, this weekend being the exception and maybe our last summer-like temperatures.  The days are fast getting shorter and leaves are starting to change and fall, though it will still be some time before raking and gutter cleaning is due, thankfully.  Stores are all decked out for Halloween, and we have a few houses in the neighborhood that have pretty impressive displays.  Maybe later in the month I might try to get some pictures to share here.  I do like Halloween, it may be my favorite holiday. 

Today, my wife is out and about tending to her dad and his matters, which has taken up more and more of her time recently, so I have been doing chores around the house and checking things off my list.  Soon here I think I'll take the bicycle down to the Harmony Bar and Grill for lunch.  I've been doing lots more walking than biking this summer, and this may be the last time I get the bike out.  Hopefully I keep up with walking even as the weather turns, but I admit it has been more difficult to make myself do since my back has been better.  I used to walk to make it feel better, so now I should walk to help it continue to feel better, I think.

The Badgers play later this afternoon, and shortly after they start the Brewers play game 2 of the opening round of the playoffs, and before that's over I hope to be out by the fire.  I've not done that in a few weeks due to the weather and also allergies started kicking my butt again, so I'm hoping the wind and weather will be on my side.  Whatever your plans, have a great weekend, everyone!

Saturday, September 25, 2021



Friday, September 24, 2021

Aw, Nuts!

It's not been an overwhelming year for black walnuts as only one of neighbor Dave's three trees is producing this year, but there's sure enough.  In the past there's been years now and again when it seems never-ending.  One year I think I stopped counting at a thousand, or maybe it was less, not sure.  But next time it's so plentiful I may continue the count just for fun.  Not sure how often they produce, whether every other year or whatever, I may have to look that up.

I just use my outdoor grabber (no bending!) to pick them up and toss them in the back corner behind the lilac bush, every day or every other day when the season comes.  The squirrels love it and are happily fattening up for winter, leaving black walnut litter everywhere, too.  And they stash them in the most odd places sometimes.  We've found them in the corners of the back steps and doorway, on the railing, and various odd places in the garage even, when I leave the door open.  In pots, in the gardens, and under leaves or grass like that's a good spot.  I even found one in the hanging plant out front.  Not sure how they got in there, but they did.  Bastards.  ;)

But how in the heck did they get one in/on the telephone wire that runs along the back yard property lines?  I thought I'd never be surprised where I find one, but I was a bit surprised at this one!

Happy Autumn, everyone.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Back Shot II, Birthday and Vacation

Last Wednesday I had my second back shot in the last two months, so by now I should know fully how much it helped and what I'm left with.  The first back shot was maybe 50% effective, which still left considerable room for improvement.  This second back shot was at least 50% effective again, maybe more, and what I'm left with is some tingling in my left leg/foot and sometimes pain in my left seat and groin.  Not painful enough to keep taking opioids, but enough to notice, so this is just what I'm left to deal with until I can't anymore, hopefully several years in the future.  In another week I check in with the neurosurgeons office again so we'll see what they say, but I don't expect any new course of action.  I will live, thank you for your thoughts, everyone.

On Saturday we had some friends over to celebrate my and Terry's birthdays with food, fun and fire.

We only invited a handful of people - it seems I've lost some friends since the pandemic, so be it.  Polite declines would be fine with me but ghosting pretty much says everything you need to know, so the invitations just won't be made anymore.  Oh well, I guess they weren't very good friends to begin with, then.  I've had only a small group of friends for a long time now and it seems to get smaller as I get older, and less 'good friends' as much as 'good acquaintances' now.  I seem to have even lost one of my oldest friends since high school (over 35 years ago) just because we view Covid differently.  I even reached out since, said we can just agree to disagree on this topic, but no response since that last conversation when I hung up on him because he wouldn't stop arguing about it.  C'est la vie.

This week I'm on vacation, and I didn't plan on any project to keep me busy but my to-do list will be enough.  After Saturday night with friends by the fire I was pretty lazy on Sunday, drank too much and stayed up way too late.  But on Monday I went down to Dubuque to visit my Mom.  We had a nice visit, got a couple things done for her, and mostly just hung out and talked.  I spent the night and came back early on Tuesday since I had a dentist appointment and a few errands I needed to run.  I also got a good walk in that day.

Today I spent several hours in the basement, mostly just cleaning, dusting, sweeping and vacuuming.  I had high hopes of going through a lot of stuff to sort, donate and trash, but my wife needs to be around for much of that so by the time I finished cleaning I was happy to be done.  Also had lots of heavy things to test my back with putting away downstairs.  A couple hundred pounds of water softener salt, 80 pounds of cat litter, and tables and chairs that were brought up for having company the last couple weekends.  The back held up well, thankfully, so next was yardwork.  I did some cleaning up in the gardens and trimmed some bushes, among other things.  I might get out there for a fire tonight, but we'll see how tired I feel as dusk nears.

Tomorrow is power washer day.  I'll get the power washer out and wash the house, garage, steps, driveway, and whatever else needs a power washing.  Likely not as long a day as today, but I'm on vacation, after all.  I might get to cleaning windows, but currently I have that penciled in for Friday along with cleaning the garage, which won't be too much in there as the garage is about as organized as can be so just a little cleaning.  Then the weekend has its normal chores, plus we've ordered a new sofa and ottoman (both on backorder) so will do some measuring and moving the living room rug in anticipation of the new furniture.  I think we'll be moving the old couch out to the porch, which will actually help us use the porch more often, too.

So it sounds busy, but the chores get easier as the week goes so I will have plenty of time for doing other things or doing nothing, as I see fit.  Weather-wise has been pretty good but getting more seasonable.  This weekend will be very hot again, maybe for the last time as next week I will have to consider getting out my long pants for the first time since spring.  It's been nice, living in shorts and bare feet all summer, but all good things must come to an end.  Like this, if this was a good thing.  Autumn officially starts one week from today, folks.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Family Fire Pit and Labor Day

 The last couple months I've only had one fire, due mostly to the heat or sometimes rain.  Saturday was overcast and cool, a good day for a fire, and for all the in-laws.

Yes, we had my wife's side of the family over to celebrate her sister's birthday.  About a dozen of us, overall, so not too crowded.  We grilled burgers and I ran out of gas halfway through, so my wife had to finish them off inside.  But other than that things went about as well as expected and I think everyone had a good time, especially my 5 year old nephew.  He was so excited, and his dad said he's been talking about it for days.  I had a lot of fun playing with him, mostly the bean bag toss game as well as a 5 year old can, and did more than I should have as I've been paying for it ever since.  Not the smartest of me, but I don't often get to play with kids and we had fun.

I was feeling guilty for not going on a walk before company on Saturday, but I needn't have worried as I ended up with over 14 thousand steps.  I'm sure it was all the setup of the garage and yard, then the reverse after everyone had left.  Not to mention playing with a 5 year old a bit too much.  I've not walked now since Thursday, and I won't again until maybe tomorrow.  And that's okay with me, right now.

Last night I was tempted to go to my first larger show since the pandemic.  Tickets were still available, proof of vaccination (or negative test within the last 72 hours) was required, and masks highly encouraged.  It would have been different, but fun, I'm sure, but I was also still sore and out of 4 bands there was one I really would have liked to see and the others take or leave.  A ticket was only 25 bucks, but add in the fees, parking, and a beer would double that, and almost double that again if I got a tee shirt.  Tetrarch was to be the second band to play, so maybe a 40 minute set, maximum, I would guess.  I like them but not enough to go through with all that, but I'm sure there will be a show soon that I won't be able to pass up.

Happy Labor Day, everyone.  I'm celebrating by being extremely lazy today.  Aside from the shot on Wednesday I'm hoping for a very quiet week, then there will be more fun to come next weekend.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Back Doubt

I've been struggling with doubt recently.  Doubt as to whether I deserve or require the upcoming shot in my back.  Over time the pain has gotten better since the last shot, and my pain varies throughout the day and depending on my activities.  One morning I can be hoping the date comes quickly, and that evening I can be filled with self doubt about even needing a shot.  This is different than in the past.  This is the least pain I've had before a shot, compared to the several other shots I've had, which has been different for me, and sometimes troubling in this way.  But I've also had the good pain pills all this time, as I have in the past, as well.

This weekend I've been doing a little experiment, I've done everything as I would have normally but without the pain medication.  Now, I've tried to not take them much anyway, but usually end up taking at least one and, more often than not, two a day.  An opioid called Percocet, Vicodin, or just Oxycodone.  It's been super hot lately, yesterday was over 90ºF but feeling like 100ºF with high humidity, but slightly better today so I was determined to walk to go out for lunch.  It's a little less than a mile to the Harmony Bar and Grill, one way.  A good walk, almost all bike path, and only takes about 15-18 minutes, depending, but the walk back was quite a bit more painful and slow than the walk there.

I mentioned in the comments for the last post how if you view it as 3 levels - surgery, shot, and live with it - that I would be toward the bottom of the shot level, and I still think that's true.  But my little experiment this weekend has given me the confidence that I am not doing this frivolously, it just happens to be the lowest level I've been at before undergoing this procedure.  For some reason I just feel a little guilty that I'm not in more pain, or as much as I have been in before.

This is good for me to realize and I'm glad I did this.  Now I'm going to take that damn pill.