Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Here is my next installation of dashboards:

It is so much like a spaceship.  Little Red is boring in comparison.  When Walt Kowalski walked me out to the car he said "Look, there is even a green light at the bottom by your feet."

I guess so my feet could see each other. 

There was a small green light in the cup holder, too.  That was nice.  Inevitably, *something* falls in or is put into the cup holder and I can't find it in the dark.

It is difficult to see the temperature, but it is getting better every time. 

This car even had voice commands.  I could change the radio station, make and answer phone calls, and change the temperature.  It was distracting because I wanted to play instead of drive. Maybe after the newness wears off it gets better. 

One of my projects today was upgrading an older machine.  The complaint was that it was full and had no space.


When I got to the office, I wanted to ask if she meant her computer was "full" of sticky notes. Just cause it's covered, doesn't mean it's full. 

Friday, March 27, 2015


I think Walt Kowalski and I have an addiction.  We're addicted to the outdoors, campfires, and sunsets.

Do they have a support group for this?

How can you not be with this sight?

It was chilly, but it was beautiful. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Weapons of Leaf Destruction

Choose your weapons wisely.

In the spring battle against fall leaves, one cannot be ill prepared.  This little rake is perfect to get between the shrubs and trees and in the garden without pulling up plants and blubs.  Last spring I pulled out my old, little rake ready to take on the leaves.  It had 3 tines left.  Walt Kowalski looked at me and said 'What are you going to do with that? Comb Tweety Bird's hair?'

It was one of those things that I didn't realize how bad it was because it didn't get like that all at once.  It slowly got progressively worse and lost tines every now and then. 

Walt Kowalski said "I think we can afford a new rake for you." It still felt like a splurge. 

I don't have an after photo yet.  It's still a work in progress.  Last night I raked some more.  Walt Kowalski hauled 6 wheel barrow loads of sticks away and probably the same amount of loads of leaves.  We're still only half way finished.  He's right, with a few less trees we'll have a few less leaves.  {hopefully!}

Working outside in boots has its own set of advantages. My feet stay warm. My feet stay dry.  my feet stay protected from stones and falling tree limbs. 

Working outside in boots had its own set of disadvantages. The grooves of the boots hold mud. To come back in the house, I have to take the boots off. 

What a pain. 

Yes, I have tiptoed inside with my boots on to grab the torch for the fire or some newspaper.  I do that when I know I can take one step in the back door on the tile and reach what I need from the kitchen table. 

But when I have to take more than one step inside, I need a different plan.   

Classy. But it works. One year, when we were putting a new garden in the side yard, I left two empty shoe boxes by the back door.  It was really easy to put one foot in each box and shuffle my way inside. I just couldn't walk up or down any steps. 

Cocoa Fluff, however, is never pleased with the bags. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Trim Trimmity

Walt Kowalski and Chain Saw Johnny were at it again this weekend. There are (were) one dead and two dying pine trees on the back hill. 

Then comes the blessing of the tree.  He'll look at the trunk to get a good idea of where to notch so it falls in the right place.

Exactly where we planned.  Between the two trees we wanted to save and the forsythia bush and away from the house.  As with so many others, if it would have fallen in a storm, it would have hit the house.  

This pine was so dead you could break the large branches off without using a saw. 

Here is the after view.  The sun came out just in time for a photo.  Yes, now we have to look at the ugly shed and fence on the neighbor's property.  But now the two little trees can have room to grow.

A well deserved momentary break to plan the next branch. 

Chain Saw Johnny even got to use his winch. Instead of hanging on the rope, the truck was used as weight and Chain Saw Johnny could tighten the cable as the branch was cut.



FYI, Walt Kowalski didn't JUST about killing trees.  Some of these trees have the ash borer, others are growing over the fence into the neighbor's fence and yard. Then others are putting the Cat Ranch in danger if there was a bad storm. 

Walt Kowalski reminds me of how many nice trees there are at the tree store. Especially ones with fruits, berries, and pretty leaves. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

From the Redwood Forest

I forgot to mention the Redwood Log House. It was another interesting attraction at the Home. (along with the whisks and steam irons.)

When you think about the age of this tree...wow.  It also makes you wonder...why did they cut it down?

It's difficult to get a good size reference.  You can see a man in a black jacket walking up the steps on the left.  Walt Kowalski is over 6 feet tall and he had no problems standing inside.
It took two men nearly a year to construct this home.

It really is a house.

It felt like being in a cabin of a small airplane. 

Beautiful wood. The tree was 14 feet in diameter at the stump cut, 267 feet high and 1900 years old. This is the fourth log that was cut from the base of the tree. This log is 33 feet long, 8 feet wide and 9 feet 4 inches in height at the larger end. The photos give you a better idea of the size.

The oldest cut tree by actual ring count, had witnessed the passing of 3,126 years!

There is no record of a tree ever having died of old age. The redwood is slow to decay, is fire resistant, and is distasteful to termites, making it one of the finest and yet economical home-building materials.

It is difficult to imagine a tree this large.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


We celebrated spring a few days early.  We had our first outside campfire. We ignored the few raindrops and stayed outside until almost 9:30pm!


Yes, you might say we are rushing it a little bit. We don't care.

I love the fire, but I must also take a moment to appreciate and thank the trees. The striations of the grains are beautiful.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bucket Trucket

The bucket truck is back. 

We had a weekend full of pine needles in our gloves and sawdust in our boots.  Friday afternoon, after finishing trimming for the day Walt Kowalski and I ran to the home improvement store.  We were standing in line at the check out and I pulled a handful of pine mulch out of my pocket.  He in turn pulled a handful of pine mulch out of his pocket. 

We laughed.

The associate running the register just looked at us over her glasses.
The weather Friday was perfect.  Cool, but not cold, and sunny. It got increasingly cloudy all day with an approaching storm front. The rain eventually came overnight.
Walt Kowalski flexing his bucket skills. It took him a few minutes to get his "bucket legs."
The bucket truck helps, but the driveway and wires really limit the size of the bucket truck we can use. 
The ground was too squishy from the snow and rain, otherwise Walt Kowalski would have driven the truck up into the yard.
Instead, we attacked one of the pines across the driveway.
Walt Kowalski would cut a branch and we would watch it fall.  If it went on the road, I would run down the road and drag it out of traffic.  We only *almost* hit one truck.  It was ok.  It was just the Mayor of the neighborhood.  And he was driving WAY too fast, anyway. Of course, that brought him over on his scooter to "inspect" our work.  We joked he should have had a clipboard with him like and official inspector.
Walt Kowalski has a plan to take down the totem pole that is left.
Saturday brought rain showers in the morning.  But it also brought help.  Chain Saw Johnny.  They were prepared with their rain slickers.  heck, we go to the amusement park in the rain and golfing in the rain, why not trim a few trees in the rain. 
Just call them the Pancho Villa boys. Poncho Villa, that is. 
All of the trees on our to cut list are a concern because of their height and age.  Mostly a concern if they fall on the house in a storm.  This was the tall pine you can see on the left in the first photo. We didn't want to just cut it at the bottom and drop it because it would have hit the house.  Walt Kowalski first placed his extension ladder as far up as he could reach, roped off the tree, then cut up as far as his pole saw could reach.  Chain Saw Johnny and I were the leverage on the rope.
It fell without a hitch.  Sunday brought more tree trimming, the Gray Hoodie boys, and more mud.  The washing machine is going to get a workout from those work clothes.

This is only half of the burn pile. 
Saturday I struggled all day to keep the fire going.  Everything was wet and fresh pine is hard to burn without a hot fire.  The drizzle didn't help the situation.  I will try again next Saturday.
Chain Saw Johnny even took a ride in the bucket truck.   

For the man who is hesitant of heights, he was having fun.  I said being in the bucket felt like riding the paratroopers at the amusement park.  Same metal latches and chains. 
If you are wondering 'What is the rush?"  Why does it seem like you're rushing the spring season working in the rain and cold? There is a rush for two reasons.

Reason #1. The trees are just coming out of hibernation.  No leaves yet.
Reason #2. The trees are too close to my garden.  (Directly above!) My flowers are *just* starting to wake up in the garden.  If we wait any longer, the flowers will be up and we won't be able to work. Walt Kowalski wanted to get the trees cut before he had to be cautious of where they were stepping. 
Thank you. I appreciated that.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Just a couple of random things for you today.  It has been a quiet week, but there are lots of things planned for this weekend.   


I texted Walt Kowalski the other day.  Part of the text to him said "Are we one big happy family now?" Except instead of big I typed bug.

His response: 
Yes, one bug family 🐛🐜🐜🐞🐌🐚

He included the pictures of the bugs, too.


We have signs everywhere at work.

Glasses must be worn.
Look for forklifts.
Do not run. (really, I've never seen anybody run here.)
Keep door closed.
Keep door open.
Look up.
Look down.
Look left, look right, look left again.
Safety never sleeps.
Use blinking lights when on dock.
Push button to exit.
Swipe to enter.

I think we need this one:


I saw this little sign near a person's desk the other day:

There is no problem we cannot ignore, confront, plot again, drown in chocolate sauce, or run over with our car.

I might have to recreate that for my fridge.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Home Show

Walt Kowalski and I spent Friday evening at the Home Show. We don't often go into the "big" city.  We generally stick to our little city at home. 

The tunnel looks good.  Everybody still slows down.  Not much traffic on our side going into the city.  All the traffic was backed up waiting to go home after work.  There was traffic waiting to get off of the parkway to go to the ice arena.  Dancing ice princesses were also in town. 

I joked with Walt Kowalski that he wasn't allowed to buy a hot tub at the Home Show.  Guess who was the first to look at them?  Guilty, it was me.  They are nice.  Some are HUGE! I would love to have been there to watch them bring some of these things inside the building.

We strolled through everything.  Outdoor section, kitchen and bathroom section, all the replacement windows.  So many great ideas, so little time.  In the housewares section they had lots of infomercial appliances.  Knives, pots and pans, mops, brooms, a very cool hand pump whisk (thought about it, but didn't buy it), a steam iron that the vendor was determined to sell me. 

We also "tested" or rather sampled all of the wineries.  The sample cups were smaller than a shot glass, more like a tablespoon. But after 2 or 3 of them, my face and neck were flushed.  I though a frozen slush sample might have helped cool me off, but instead it gave me instant brain freeze.   Walt Kowalski just knew it was coming from the moment I took a sip and before he could say anything, I was holding my head saying "ow."  All he can do is laugh. 

They had several playhouse/shed structures.  This one even had a second floor loft.  It was a great view of the show. those are metal palm trees you can see.  the enclosed porch below was very nice.  Same with all of the new patio furniture.  Which reminds me I want to wire brush and paint ours this year. 

There were several large model train displays, too.  This little sign just cracked us up. The "We're #1" part was flashing. 

Walt Kowalski noted "We live by the train tracks and see the trains everyday. You'd think we have enough trains in our lives.  Yet we come here and look at the trains."

My big purchase was some more new blubs for the garden.  I can't wait to start planting. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Travel Day

My schedule said "Go North" today. 

Last week we were warned about a terrible snowstorm coming.  It rained and rained and rained. And rained.  Dud of a storm. The well is full, thanks.

Yesterday the weather was the hot topic again.  Weather. Weather. Weather.  Every conversation started with the weather. What is it doing out there?  What is it going to do? Has it started yet? Should we leave early?

If you're like me, you listen, but after the last few dud storms, you listen with only one ear.  Knowing my schedule said "Go North," I decided to play it safe and warn my bosses (I have multiple) the day before the storm was to arrive. 

Two of my bosses are located down south.  Not deep south. But south enough that if they get a 1/2 inch of snow, the entire town is closed.

I warned them "Hey, there is a storm coming.  It might be a dud or it might not be.  If it's questionable in the morning, I'm not going North." "Don't wait!!! Reschedule now!!!"

Ok. Next week it is. I can tell they are not from this area to be so worried about weather. The snow was *supposed* to start early and keep snowing. As for now, it's just raining. Still.

Walt Kowalski called me on the way home and said "The iceberg at the end of the driveway has cracked.  I don't know if you're going to get in.  GO SLOW!"

He wasn't kidding.

After the rains, when Walt Kowalski came home in Big Red the iceberg collapsed. Little Red was not going to make it into the driveway. The pile of ice "rocks" was waist deep. We were running out of places to put it. 

That's 10 inches thick of ice. He picked and picked and picked.  He made *just* enough room for Little Red to make it in.  I helped pick and move the ice.  We got it clear.  Again.

But still no slow.  Just a cold, wet rain. It's going to be a dud of a storm again.

snore snore snore

5 hours later

No dud.

You can just barely see where Big Red was parked and it is still coming down. 

Glad I didn't go North. (Funny, North didn't get the snow!)