Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Couldn't quite make it three! (B.O.A.T.)

BOAT = Break Out Another Thousand!

Okay, The Great Reef Aquarium Project has been temporarily suspended. Well, actually, I'm still waiting for additional stuff to arrive before I attempt to set it up - so it's just as well...

DH's company, like many, is on shut-down this week. This makes things a bit "challenging" for me - since I work from home most of the time. But thankfully many of my clients are also on shut-down, so things have been mercifully quiet (and I took the opportunity to burn a vacation day).

Anyhooo... Since Rog has all this Free Time, we decided this was a good opportunity to call the boatyard and see about arranging our off-season maintenance. G&J, the former owners, took fastidious care of the boat - but it had been at least 2-3 years since it's last bottom job. And, based on how quickly she'd grow a beard, we figured she's about due again.

No more DIY Bottom-Jobs for me, though (although it would be "relatively easy" to slap a coat of paint on her, while she's on the trailer). We decided it'd be best to just take her to a yard and get "everything" done in one fell swoop.

"How much do ya think this is gonna cost?" asks DH.

"Well, the last time I hauled (about 10 yrs ago), it was about $1,000 for haul, power-wash and bottom paint for a 32-footer. So I'm gonna guess it'll be right around $1,000."

"But our boat's only 26-feet."

(Answer: It's $1,100! That's *just* haul/power-wash/paint)

We're also getting some other work done. Boat has a couple of topside leaks around the chainplates - I think (hope!) they just need to be re-bedded. Outboard needs a basic service. And there are a couple of fiberglass/gelcoat repairs needed. One down near the waterline could prove to be problematic if water gets in it (Delamination??? Nooooo!!!). And the other is a scar she got when Rog ran aground and ended up colliding with another boat's anchor - the day we moved into our slip for the first time! ("Hi! I'm Nancy and this is Roger. We're your new neighbors!!")

So Rog got on the horn with San Francisco Boat Works yesterday. Seems they're running all kinds of Specials right now - which is a very good thing. It's definitely the off-season and they are particularly dead this week. So they were most happy to have us come up and drop her off today.

Well, as soon as Rog did the over-the-phone "handshake," he immediately went into Panic Mode. Ohmygawd-we've-got-to-prepare-the-boat-and-drop-the-mast-and-check-the-trailer-and-what-are-we-gonna-do-about-the-roller-furler-and-what-if-it's-this-or-what-if-it's-that-and-this-is-gonna-take-a-LOT-of-time-and-maybe-I'd-better-just-call-them-and-postpone-it-and-yayayayayaya............"

We went up to the storage-yard yesterday afternoon and started breaking stuff down (in cold, dismal, dreary rain!).

I have something of a fear of heights, so I stayed stuck to the ground. But Rog handed stuff down to me and I did what I could from below. He removed the boom and handed down the sail (I flaked it myself thankyouverymuch!); Stowed all the loose crap inside the boat securely; We dropped and secured the mast ("Whoa-Whoa-Whoa-Whoa-WAIT!!! You're gonna hit that other boat!! We need to pull the trailer forward!!!") (See, it helps to have someone on the ground!!!). Zip-tied all the standing rigging so it wouldn't rub the gelcoat; Bungeed everything else; And generally buttoned-her-down as best we could.

The roller-furler was a challenge though. See, we had to undo the forestay at the bow in order to drop the mast. We didn't want to remove the forestay from the top of the mast and we had to be careful not to bend the foil. Annnnd, with the forestay still attached to the mast, the roller furler extended beyond the base of the mast (and would have been flopping about madly and damaging the foil as we were hurtling down the highway). I suggested securing it as best we could (bungee-mania!)- until we could come home and Google it...

Found an Egg-zellent suggestion online (Gotta love the intertubes!). You take a boat hook, extend it fully and bungee it securely to the base of the mast - so that it becomes an "extension." You then bungee the bottom of the forestay and roller-furler to the boat-hook extension. Worked like a charm! No flopping around. No bent foil. Yay!

Not the greatest shot, but you can almost see the boat hook lashed near the bottom. R/F is inside the bag.

So as Rog was puttering around on and in the boat, I wanted to check-out how "secure" the boat was - on the trailer. Well, as Rog trundled about, the bow of the boat kept bouncing up and down and I discovered I could actually stick my fingers under the fwd (bow) support on the trailer. Not Good! The center of gravity was waaaaay too far back and yes, we now have a Super-Beefy-Manly Winch on the trailer, but I still didn't feel too warm-n-fuzzy about the 30 mile freeway trip. I decided to keep my mouth shut about it yesterday (Rog was still pretty wound-up about what-all needed to be done)...

See, the last time we pulled her out onto the trailer, her ballast tank was full. We'd cinched her up and pulled her out, but the weight of the ballast pulled her back about half-a-foot. We didn't bother fixing it since we were just moving her across the street to the dry-storage yard.

This morning, we went up (In the sunshine! But it was still cold) to secure the roller-furler and get ready to take off. Once we were hitched up, I pointed out the whole "center of gravity" issue and suggested that we plunk her in at the launch ramp, and cinch her up tighter to the trailer. So we did - and all was MUCH better.

All secure now!

Then we drove up to The City. The drive up was rather uneventful (Yay!). Even exiting the freeway and heading to the yard wasn't *too* terribly awful (in spite of all the construction on Mariposa St). I'd called ahead to the yard to inquire about the best way "in" to the yard. See, most boats come by water and get scooped out by a Travelift. We were trailering in and I didn't recall an open gate on the street. I did remember an open gate over by The Ramp, an adjoining (WAY COOL) restaurant. The office gal suggested that the "come in thru The Ramp's parking lot" way would be the preferred entry.

So in we went!

Well, into the parking lot anyway.

Once we pulled all the way into the lot, it became painfully clear that there was NO WAY we could make the (sharp, narrow) turn into the boatyard (Ooooops!) And once we were in the parking lot, there was NO WAY to turn around (Double Oooooops!). Begin Panic-Mode: "Oh sh*t, NOW what are we gonna do?!!"

I know Rog is damn good with maneuvering the boat and trailer. We had *quite* the dramatic Fun-Time the day we drove her up from SoCal (an all-day drive) and arrived at a dry-storage facility that had NO (and I do mean ZERO) turning room. We got good-and-stuck that day, but managed to get out of it (by unhitching the boat and backing the truck - from a completely different angle, then re-hitching it to get out of a seemingly impossible situation).

But I digress (Surprise!!!). Anyway, I was all prepared to have Rog back-out onto the street - with me blocking traffic. Luckily, a boatyard worker appeared and offered his assistance. He started by moving a dumpster and attempting to open the gate further, but then a second worker appeared who said he could bring her in using his forklift. No, he didn't hoist her up! He had a ball on one of the forklift fork thingies and he did a stupendous job of maneuvering her in.

Forklift got her in!

We got all checked in, and left our Laundry List of things to do. We then had free lunch at The Ramp (did I mention that it's an awesome joint?!). While we were eating, they put her up on the Travelift and I got a few good shots. Then we met with the yard manager to discuss what-all we want done. We still don't have the "full" estimate, but I'm guessing (hoping) it won't go much past $2,000.

The Ramp

She'll be in the yard for about a week............

Sunday, December 27, 2009

That's two in a row!

Gonna try to make this "An Update a Day" kinda thing... Although there really isn't much to report today!

Spent the better part of the afternoon "partying" at the Skilled Nursing Facility with mom, family and friends (woohoo!).

And we stopped by to check on the boat (currently in dry-storage for the winter). We do have some leakage at the chain-plates (minor, but troubling nonetheless). We're going to be driving her to a boatyard in San Francisco in the coming weeks - since she's due for a bottom job and, while she's there, we'll have them re-bed the chainplates and touch-up some gelgoat blemishes

We'll shell out the $$ and have all the work done professionally (my days of DIY Bottom Jobs are over - thankyouverymuch!).

B.O.A.T. = Break Out Another Thousand!

Nothing new to report on the Great Reef Aquarium Project (yet), other than bombarding my buddy with emails; reading Reef-Tank message boards (and getting Information Overload!); looking for local reef-clubs; and going online to order gee-gaws for the tank set-up. I've ordered a bunch of stuff, so far. Just waiting for it to arrive. Once it does, I'll post a list of what-all I bought and how I intend to set it up.

So if you look at yesterday's picture - well, that's exactly what it looks like today! (The stand is even still covered with dust!).

Boooooooring, I know! I'll try to do better!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Santa was good to me! (OMG - She's Alive!!!)

Sometimes... Life just gets in the way!

Been extremely absent, I know. Ahhh, the Joys of Middle Age! One of those chapters they conveniently left out of The Handbook was the one about how your parents, at some point, turn into children that must be cared for.

My mom's been in and out of the hospital three times in as many months, and that has taken a LOT of time (and created a LOT of stress). And since I really don't want this blog to be a place for whiney-stuff, I've pretty much set it (the blog) aside.

Good News Is: Mom is on the mend now. But, having had the stuffing knocked out of her, she's got a LONG way to go to fully recover (and it's debatable whether she ever will recover fully, unfortunately). But she's getting ready to come home and we're all hoping things will continue to improve...

Too much "stuff" has transpired in the past several months to even begin to bring things up-to-date, so I'll just Fast-Forward to now :-)

I am embarking on a New Project. And we know how I loves me a Good Project! And it gives me a good, solid excuse to blog. So that's a good thing (I think)!

Okay, maybe a *little* background/digression is in order here:
Part of all the Goings-On while mom was sick, was me trying to find *some* way to relieve my stress. And while I was at the local pet store, picking up a bag o' dog kibble, I wandered into the aquarium section and hit on the "Brilliant" idea of buying myself a fish tank because staring at fishies is kinda relaxing, right?

Now I used to keep freshwater tanks when I was a kid, and I didn't recall that it was all that difficult. And the Pet Store had a 2.5 gallon aquarium "kit" for cheap. And a MONDO-COOL Tacky Tiki Sculpture! So, after confirming that the Tiki would fit in the 2.5 gallon tank, I bought them. A tank, tiki sculpture and a red Crown Betta fish who I dubbed King Frederick I. And a few itty-bitty Neon Tetras (whom I'd named 1,2,3 4 & 5).

King Frederick I - R.I.P.

Welllll... There's an amusing/sad/sick story that goes along with that. Seems I'd forgotten about the "Cycle the tank before you add fish" part of aquarium ownership. I also ended up deciding (rather quickly) that 2.5 gallons was a little too small. So I upgraded to a 5 gallon all-in-one tank. And my 2.5 gallon - which was destined for eBay - got converted to a Hospital/Isolation Tank.

It ended up being a Hospice Tank as poor King Frederick I died a very slow, agonizing death. I tried EVERYTHING (within reason) to save him. I surfed the internet and learned WAAAAAY more about Betta Fish than I ever thought I'd need to know! And between duplicating my tank setups, and buying assorted chemicals, medications and whatnot, I figure I spent close to $75.00 trying to save a $7.00 fish!

I watched him decline over a period of several days. Poor guy just laid on his side, on the bottom of the hospital/hospice tank, gasping for whatever it is that fish gasp for. Getting duller and duller until he was almost white.

At one point, DH berated me for allowing him to suffer so. "Can't you just scoop him out of the water and put him out of his misery? This is agonizing to watch!" And I burst into tears "I CAN'T KILL FRED!!!"

In the end, King Frederick I gasped his last gasp, and he got the Royal Flush...

So much for aquariums reducing stress, right?!

(I was telling one of my colleagues my Sad Tale and she suggested that maybe an Aquarium Screen Saver might be a more reasonable alternative!)

In retrospect, I suspect that Fred I was probably sick to begin with. Armed with my newfound knowledge of Betta Fish Ailments, and looking back at pictures I'd taken when I first got him, I think he had parasites because he was rather pot-bellied from the start...

Undaunted, shortly after Fred I's demise, DH and I headed back to the pet store and picked out a Delta-Tailed Blue Betta. He's iridescent blue with red streaks on his fins. Actually rather pretty - to tell ya the truth. Although he blends-in a little too much with the Neon Tetras (of which I only have 1 & 2 now). Anyway, Fred II is thriving and quite full of himself. Whenever I approach the tank, he flares his gills like he wants to fight me!

King Frederick II (Alive and Well)
(Corey the Cory Cat in the background - also alive and well!)

Oh, and I don't feed freeze-dried bloodworms because they cause constipation in Betta Fish (who knew?!!).

So annnnnnyyyyyywaaaaaaaayyyyy... The latest tank, an Eclipse 5 gallon corner tank (all-in-one) is doing just fine now. Fully cycled and all my numbers are in line. I did have a bit of an algae-bloom, but I'm treating that chemically. Anyhow, all is well and all tank inhabitants are doing just fine. That would be Fred II, 1 & 2 (Neon Tetras) and Corey the Cory Cat.

So I suppose *this* is the point where Aquarium Ownership would provide the Stress-Relief I so desperately craved, right?!


Yes, I am a Glutton for Punishment! Not only do I want a bigger, better tank. But I want to upgrade to Saltwater. Not only do I want to do Saltwater, but I want to do a REEF Tank!

During the Holiday Season, Rog and I have this thing where we maintain Wish Lists on Amazon. And anytime I see something that piques my interest, I can add it to my Amazon Wish List using the Universal Wish List button on my toolbar - even if it's not sold by Amazon. It's a pretty cool gadget, actually (and no, I don't get kick-backs for posting it!).

So first I stumbled onto this Aloha Tiki Aquarium. That link, BTW, is the cheapest price I found. I thought that was the coolest thing since sliced bread (since I *love* kitschy tikis!) so I Wish-Listed it. But then I got serious and decided I'd much rather have something suitable for running a Reef Tank. I consulted a friend/colleague of mine and he has a BioCube 29 Reef Aquarium. So I ended up Wish-Listing a Biocube 14.

Long Story Short (too late!). Santa brought me a BioCube 14 and I am Happy as a Clam (get it?!! Clam?! Aquarium?!! Arr Arr!).

Actually, it's pretty cool. No, it's EXTREMELY cool! I actually did maintain a 10 gallon reef tank about 20 years ago, in my apartment (Gawd, did I just say 20 years ago?!! Sh*t I am OLD!). And this was "back-in-the-day" before anyone coined the term Nano-Reef. In fact, back then, it was generally believed that you couldn't run a saltwater tank unless it was at least 50 gallons. Things have come a long way since then and the newer tanks are a WHOLE lot easier to setup and maintain (she says hopefully delusionally).

So I'm surfing the Reef Tank Message Boards and emailing aforementioned Reefer Buddy. There are quite a few modifications that folks have done to their BioCubes and I am hoping that I can set this thing up right - the first time!

My PLAN (hahahaha - don't hold your breath!) is to document my tank set-up here. I've already joined a couple of Reef-Tank message boards, so there *might* be some copy/paste action going on, but the general idea is that I'll post here about how things are progressing with the new Reef Tank Project!

I do loves me a Good Project!

So the status right now is: I've taken the BioCube out of it's box and removed the Bioballs (apparently they attract detritus which can cause nitrate spikes). I've ordered a media basket that will make it easier to tweak around with different types of filtration and not make TOO big of a mess! I also dug out an old TV/Stereo stand that seems to work just fine, size-wise, for the BioCube. That'll save me $100 (which will undoubtedly get spent on OTHER tank gear!). I need Rog to beef it up a bit by cutting a piece of plywood to cover the back, and I'll probably put a coat of sealant on it (b/c the rack itself is probably made of particleboard!).

Old TV stand - now a tank stand (excuse the dust!)
(and the mess - it's the day after Christmas!)

HA! I also have to re-decorate the living room. I want to move the 5 gallon tank to a corner b/c the Reef Tank will now take center-stage in the living room.

So basically there's no water in it. No nothing!

I absolutely DO intend to cycle the hell out of the tank before I add anything to it. It's one thing to kill a $7.00 fish (even spending $75 trying to save it!). It's another thing entirely to kill off several-hundred-dollars' worth of sealife (Trust me, the cost of the tank is probably the CHEAPEST part of setting up a Reef Aquarium!). I intend for the tank to be mostly corals and invertebrates, and maybe a couple-three fish...

So anyhooooooo... That's the Latest 'n Greatest! Hopefully this will evolve into something remotely interesting. Hell, maybe even educational!!!

Stay tuned for updates! :-)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I oughtta just retitle this blog: "Confessions of a Bad Blogger"

Save myself the trouble of making excuses all the time, right?


Suffice it to say, it's been a Berry Busy Summer. Much boating. Much sunshine. And yes, even some fun worked in!

The boating, as you may have gathered from my last post, has been on Overkill, unfortunately. We did take a week's vacation and moved the boat up to Brisbane Marina in August. I was rather hoping that this would temper Roger's enthusiasm, somewhat. At least wear some of the "shine" off of "New Toy Syndrome!"

Rog motored up early one morning - took about 1-1/2 hrs @ WOT. I drove my car up, and met him there (I *needed* my own mode of transportation readily available, if "Abandoning Ship" became necessary!)

Roger had compiled quite the list of Things We Must Do: Sail out the Golden Gate (:::rolling eyes:::); Sail around Angel Island; Go to Berkeley and/or Jack London Square for lunch; Have dinner at Pier 39; yada-yada... Well, wind conditions on the bay are pretty challenging most of the time - even down where we're docked (which is significantly calmer than up around the 'Gate). Winds are especially gnarly in August - when the coastline is cool and foggy, and inland temps can top triple-digits. And there's an awful lot of water flowing in and out of the bay (year-round). That all equates to rough, windy, "challenging" conditions...

Lazy Lightning - while she's a very nice boat - she just isn't a boat who's well-suited to challenging conditions. She's 26-feet long, 8-feet wide, foam-filled and self-righting, with lots of interior space which means she's got lots of freeboard (freeboard = the stuff that's up above the waterline and subject to wind and waves). And, with the water ballast tank full, she displaces only about 4,000#. In other words, she bobs like a cork and windy, rough conditions make for a very uncomfortable ride...

My bay-sailing experience has been on heavy keelboats - and, even then, my Sailing Friends were of the ilk that *wouldn't* go out when conditions weren't damn-near perfect (yet I still had more than my share of "rails in the water/balls-to-the-wall" sailing!). Yes, I've sailed out the 'Gate on a 35-footer - on a dead-calm day. But that was on a BIG HEAVY CRUISER. Roger's enthusiasm - at least initially - exceeded Lazy Lightning's capabilities. And that made me pretty nervous.

But I digress...............

And, with us docked next to San Bruno Mountain - sharing the same channel as Oyster Cove (aka "Hurricane Gulch"), my home for six years, let's just say that the list of Things We Must Do got shortened significantly!!!

I've utterly given up on reminding Roger that "conditions change *instantly* on the bay" and "if Small Craft Advisories start at 1:00pm, I wanna be back at the dock by 12:30." Instead, Rog took the helm and took it upon himself to always sail "just a little bit farther" and stay out "just a little bit longer" than we should have. We were never in danger, but it made for some mighty dramatic sailing - hauling @$$ at breakneck speed, trying to make it back to safety! And I assumed a new role: "Ballast Girl." Whenever the conditions got really rough, I'd go down below to lower the center of gravity and shift my weight around to offset the tossing of the boat ("If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost. The Minnow would be lost!").

Ohhhh yes... A Grand Time Was Had By All!!!

To be fair, Roger has finally figured out that "conditions change *instantly* on the bay" and "if Small Craft Advisories start at 1:00pm, we should probably think about at least being CLOSE to the marina by about 12:30..." And he figured that out All By Himself!!! :::sigh:::

We actually did do some sailing (early in the mornings), and we did motor across the bay to Ballena Island and had breakfast at a cool little waterfront restaurant over there. But we never made it out the GG, nor to Angel Island, nor Pier 39, or wherever... It was just toooooo nasty out there for a little 4,000 lb. 26-footer.

Come October, we might be able to tackle some of those list items, but definitely not in August! Trouble is: The City is sooooo far away from where we're docked, it'd almost have to be an overnighter.

Anyway, I'm happy to report that I *did* survive our "Vacation" on Lazy Lightning. And I am totally convinced that she is suitable for a "Weekend" away. But definitely NOT a week! (There is, quite honestly, no way to store a weeks' worth of provisions on her!!!)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why yes - I *am* an abysmally bad blogger - why do you ask?!!

Wow. Almost two months since my last "blog!" How bad is that?!! (don't answer - that's a rhetorical question!).

There's actually been plenty of blog-worthy "stuff" going on (being wed to an un-diagnosed OCD is "good" that way!), but I just-plain-haven't been able to keep up with all of it!!!

My bad - but what're ya gonna do, right?!!

You can lodge a complaint to 1-800-Who-Gives-A-Sh**! Right?!!

Yeah, so... Anyway - Yes, we have a BOAT now. Rog, in his typical OCD fashion has taken Tazz-The-Spazz's refrain of "Throw-my-Toy, Throw-my-toy!" and converted it to "Let's go sailing, Let's go sailing!" It's positively f*cking maddening, I tellya!

Well, one of the clinchers for us (initially) was the fact that Lazy Lightning (who IS a good boat, BTW) came with a 110% genoa. Well, San Francisco Bay SUMMERS are pretty challenging - windwise - all on their own. Add a genoa to that and, well, that's just a bit TOO much sail for MY tastes!

And my goal, after all, is to spoil ALL of Roger's fun!!!

But - and let's Get Real here - all of my bay-sailing experience has been with folks who have - wisely - only had 90% Storm Jibs.

And - for those who might be unfamiliar with "sailing stuff" - let me clarify: The foresail on a sailboat is the sail on the FRONT of the boat. Jibs, generally-speaking, only go as far back as the mast (100%). Storm jibs fall slightly shy of the mast (90%). Genoas exceed that (110-150%+). And Spinnakers (big, colorful "hot-air ballooon" lookin' things) are like genoas on steroids. The foresail is your "Power-Sail." They are particularly powerful on downwind runs (Spinnakers, especially).

Well, with the "challenging conditions" on the SF Bay, I had some reservations about the idea of sailing with a genoa. In fact, I pretty-well "dug my heels in" and made it PAINFULLY clear that we would NOT be sailing w/a Gennie... So the first half-dozen sails (or so) were Mainsail Only - much to Roger's dismay (so no upwind-runs - since you can't go upwind w/o a foresail).

In fact, I took it a step further and indicated (quite clearly) that we needed to order a "working jib" and a roller furler. Working jib = foresail that makes it "as far as" the mast (and does allow you to sail upwind). Roller Furler = a doohickey that makes it possible to open (and CLOSE!) the sail from the cockpit by "spinning" the foresail around the forestay - as opposed to having someone scramble up onto the cabin top to hoist (and/or unhoist) the sail.

The beauty of a roller-furler is that it enables you to decide how much foresail you have "open" to the wind. We opted for a CDI FF2 Roller Furler and IT ROCKS!!~!

Anyhooooo.... We ordered the Furler and a new 100% Working Jib. We opted to hire a professional rigger to install the sumb*tch. It's on the boat and all is good....

We got the roller-furler and new, working jib installed just over a week ago, Life is good.

But "Small Craft Advisories" STILL apply to us! I really don't want to turn this blog into a b*tchfest so I'll skip much of what I'd like to blog about.

Anyhoooo.... I figured I'd post some videos to keep ya'all (whoever ya'all might be!) entertained, in the meantime!

Rog haulin' @$$

Rog getting ready to dock the boat...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Yo Ho Ho Continued... Boating Insanity

Holy Cow - It's been well-over a month now! Jeesh!

Sometimes "Real Life" gets in the way of Blogging, I think!

...Anyhooooooo... $14,900.00 *was* suspiciously cheap for an '06 MacGregor 26M - considering that *most* of the Macs you see listed (similarly equipped/similar vintage) were "asking" $25-$30K...

The story on that boat was: It was a Repo. According to the broker (And they're like clergy, ya know?! Taking vows of "Honesty" and all that) [Note dripping sarcasm], "The former owner took REAL good care of her - She's in REAL nice shape!"

And Rog (love him dearly, but honestly, he is a smooth-talking salesman's wet-dream) took him at his word. "Look! I found this boat in Long Beach - and the broker says she's in really good shape - and it's a STEAL!" (Or words to that effect). And "We've been talking about this for years and years - and we keep saying 'Next Year' [True enough] and - dammit! - I'm TIRED of postponing my DREAMS." (and yada-yada).

Well, I didn't immediately say "NO" which, of course, meant "Yes," Right?!

So - Long Story Short (and it *was* a long story - but I didn't have an opportunity to capture it - Sorry!!!), Rog *also* found a boat on Craigslist - down in Newport Beach. 2005 MacGregor 26M - asking $20,000.00.

We made arrangements to fly down and check out the boats toward the end of April. I did my homework on both boats by printing out the NADAGUIDE values for each boat (Boating equivalent to Kelly Blue-Book).

I also managed to locate BoatGuru John (from many earlier Boating Adventures - he's one of the key players in the Haul-Out Page, as well as the Albatross Adventure). Presently, he's working as a Marine Surveyor, inspecting BIG ol' Tankers and whatnot - out of San Diego. Bless his heart, he agreed to drive up and meet us up in Long Beach to look over Bachelorette #1 (The Repo Boat) - and since Newport was on his way back - he checked out Bachelorette #2, as well.

As it turned out, Bachelorette #1 was not quite as "well-loved" as one might have hoped. Agreed, the former owner *hadn't* removed everything of value prior to her reposession, but she was lacking a trailer (which could prove to be a bit problematic, seein' as how we wanted to bring her back to Northern Cal!). Yeah, she was definitely in need of some serious lovin' - and my days of bringing *those* kindsa boats home are OVER!

John scrawled out a list of necessary repairs - breaking 'em down into "Must be done RIGHT AWAY" versus "Can wait 'til you can afford it," along with ballpark estimates.......

Turns out the $14,900.00 boat was gonna end up costing somewhere in the realm of $25,000.00 when it was all said-and-done...

I'm skipping the gory details at this point. But I will note that, when John cornered the broker, even *he* agreed that an offer of $10K would probably be more realistic. But he also noted that the bank probably wouldn't accept it...

On to Bachelorette #2:

Lazy Lightning is her name. Turns out that's an old Grateful Dead tune (so much for re-naming her Parrot-Dise, in honor of Jimmy Buffett!). She was owned by Gary and Joanne. Gary's an airline pilot for United Airlines and extremely anal and fastidious. He's kinda like Roger's doppleganger!

Well, Lazy Lightning is a boat who's had a TON of lovin'! She even spent some time in the Hawaiian Islands (when Gary got transferred, they paid to have the boat shipped to Kaneohe for a couple of years). G&J were the second owners (they bought her from a guy - an old DeadHead from the sounds of it - up near Sacramento). They were more into "entertaining" [read: Drinking] on Newport Harbor so they mostly motored. The sails are practically brand-new! (To say nothing of the fact that we received Every Single Manual that goes along with Every Single Piece of Equipment on the boat - which really *is* a Good Thing!)

Gary, being fastidious, wouldn't even let us LOOK at her 'til he'd had a chance to give her a thorough scrubbing. Hell, he even *bought* new carpeting just before we arrived because he wanted her to "show" well!

So John gave her a thorough once-over and proclaimed (to us) that the choice was a No-Brainer! Yeah, there are a small handful of minor issues - but nothing Mission Critical - so we ended up making a "reasonable offer" which Gary and Joanne graciously accepted.

"Holy sh*t - We bought us a boat!"

Funny little side-story there. Rog and I had discussed our "Plan of Attack" before we flew down to SoCal. Not knowing which boat we wanted, and knowing - at the same time - that both boats *did* have several "interested parties" waiting in the wings. We knew that we needed to be able to Act Fast. I suggested that we should be in a position to present cash (thinking "Cashier's Check") to demonstrate our sincere interest. Rog took that literally and was traveling with $5,000.00 CASH ("Are you freakin' kidding me?!!").

We'd also had a conversation with G&J the night before. Joanne was the Money Gal and, based on Craiglist warnings, she was dubious of accepting a Cashier's Check - fearing counterfeits. She wanted us to arrange a wire-transfer. Well, Craigslist warns against Wire-Transfers as well! And I was pretty adamant about NOT wanting to part with unrecoverable money!!!

We'd kinda deadlocked - before we even arrived - about "how" we were going to handle the transfer of $$... Bear in mind, we haven't even SEEN the boat, right?!! Rog handed the phone to me and Joanne expressed her concerns about accepting a Cashier's Check. I also expressed my concerns about wiring money, and we "agreed to disagree" until we met and actually SAW the boat!

Well, the concerns voiced - on both sides - were certainly "valid" because it's natural, these days, to worry about getting ripped-off in the course of an "online" transaction. I'd even gone so far as to look into Escrow Services (which - as it turns out - there's a whole OTHER world of scam-artists - sheesh!!!). In the end, once we met, we all felt pretty comfortable with each other. Plus, I explained to Joanne that I *had* been the manager of the Cashier's Check Dept for BofA for MANY years - so I was very-much-aware of counterfeiting scams and could certainly understand her concerns...

Anyhooo... We were pretty simpatico, and it turned out that they really didn't want CASH-cash (Oh, irony of ironies - they "bank" with the same Credit Union we'd gotten our loan thru!). So we invited them to accompany us TO THE BANK so they could WATCH the teller print-out the Cashier's Check. And they laughed and joked about how we'd gone to "so much effort to set-up a bogus Wells-Fargo Bank so we could pass them a counterfeit cashier's check!" I laughed and joked, too, about how "it cost us 5x the price of the boat to rent this warehouse and set-it-up to look *just* like a Wells-Fargo branch!"

We gave 'em the money. They gave us the pink slip. We did the transfer thru DMV. And the following weekend, we drove home with a boat hitched to the back of our truck!!!

Finding a place to STORE the boat was another story altogether. Again, I'll spare you the play-by-play, but we ended up finding an inexpensive marina in Redwood City so we don't have to deal with launching and retrieving her every time we want to go out (more irony there: I wanted a trailerable boat so we *wouldn't* have to keep it in the water and deal with the add'l maintenance that goes along with that).

Sooooo.... In the interest of brevity (Oops - Too Late!), I'll close this post with this "We are Boat-Owners!!!" Holy sh*t!!!

More stories to come, I'm sure................

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Yo Ho Ho - and What the Hell Have I Done??

Okay... I've been a Bad Blogger again! Over two weeks since my last blog post :::GASP!:::

But the truth is, I've been a bit pre-occupied...

For those of you who've wandered over to my Home Page, you may have already determined that I've got a bit of Crazy Boater in me. There's a lot of "background story" there - from my very first boat, Aesop the Snark sailing dinghy; Through assorted other small boats (inflatables and sailing dinks from 9-16 feet); "Graduating" to Solitaire, my 32-foot Custom Sedan Cruiser/Floating Home (I lived on my boat for six years); Fully succumbing to Boating Sickness when I added Tartan, a Luhrs 32-foot sportfisher, to my fleet; Then *thinking* I was going to offload a couple of boats and upgrade to SeaTease, a 36' aft-cabin trawler up in Seattle (That's a story that never got told, but I alluded to it on my New-Millenium Romance page)...

Well, when I got married, I gave up the boats and became a Landlubber. That lasted for several years. The Harleys kinda distracted me for awhile, but Boating Sickness is terminal, I'm afraid! Once you've got it, you're doomed for life!

Albatross was my last "Project Boat" and I had a total blast with her. I kinda/sorta attempted to blog my way through that project (so it's a big ol' honkin' long page!).

Anyway, it's not my intention to re-hash my boating history. Suffice it to say that I do know my way around boats!

So Rog and I had been going to boat-shows and talking about buying a sailboat for the past several years, right? We pretty much had our sights set on a MacGregor 26M, all along. They aren't the BEST boats in the world (not by a long-shot!), but MacGregor does make a reasonably-priced boat with a LOT packed into a relatively small, trailerable package. "It is what it is" as they say. And it should suit our needs, for now.

So anyway, we kept going to boat shows, and climbing around on the display boats. And every year we'd say "Next year..."

Year-after-year we said this until finally Roger decided "Enough already!"

I mean, the economy's down so it is definitely a Buyer's Market. And where, in years past, we couldn't find any 26M's on the "Used" market, now all of a sudden we were seeing plenty!

Rog found a 2006 listed on Yachtworld.com for $14,900.00 which - I'll be honest - was suspiciously cheap...

To Be Continued.............

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Letter to HGTV

I just thought I'd share the letter I wrote to the Scripps Execs today (Parent Company over HGTV and DIY Network). I also sent off several emails to their Garden-related Advertisers. Sears, surprisingly actually seems to have "read" my email and sent a response that they would fwd my letter to their Advertising Dept. The only other replies I've gotten are "Auto-Responders."

I do remain "guardedly optimistic" however. Maybe, just maybe, our letter-writing campaign will work!

I have been a long-time fan of HGTV/DIY/Scripp's Networks. Seriously - to the point where HGTV was tuned in almost the entire time that my TV was on.

But, over time, I'm finding myself watching HGTV/DIY less-and-less. The main reason? Lack of Garden Programming.

I'd always thoroughly enjoyed your weekend-morning line-up with all of the Gardening and Landscaping Shows. It was my Weekly Ritual: I'd pour myself a cup of coffee, settle into the recliner with my remote-control, and watch a good hour (or more) of Garden and Landscaping programs. It always got me "motivated" to get outside and "Get it done!"

My All-Time Favorite? Paul James' "Gardening By the Yard."

But over the past several years, you've shuffled the weekend line-up around and virtually eliminated Paul James (Sorry, I don't consider 4:00am, Pacific, to be a viable time-slot). I don't even know what you ARE airing on weekend mornings anymore - I don't bother turning the TV on (or when I do - it's NOT tuned to HGTV).

Now, I've also heard that Paul's contract has NOT been renewed. Yes, you are now airing the "final season" now (2008 episodes), But when I heard that GBTY is no longer going to be featured on your network, I was devastated. I still am! That was THE most informative, most enjoyable Garden Show I have ever seen! I think cancelling it is a HUGE mistake (And no, airing re-runs does NOT count!).

I had written to HGTV, in the past, about the slow-death of the "G" in HGTV - and only gotten a "canned" response telling me, essentially, that "HGTV values viewer feedback" (or words to that effect). Yet there was no change in the weekend line-up.

I wonder - Do you really value Viewer Feedback? Are you truly listening?

The Latest Trend right now is to go "Back to Basics." The popularity of Vegetable Gardening is at an all-time high. Even Michelle Obama is "in on the action" (and, in fact, "Leading the Way" for the Next Generation of Gardeners), by planting the first Vegetable Garden on the White House Grounds in generations! The economy is "in the tank" right now, and people are looking for ways to cut back on spending. And "Organic" (Read: "Green!") is all the rage. What better way to bring healthful food to your dinner table than to grow it yourself?

Let me say that again, for emphasis: The popularity of Vegetable Gardening is at an All-Time High - and HGTV/DIY's response is to cancel the last Quality Garden Show...

It just doesn't make any sense!

Oh, and I do want to make one point for clarification: There is a difference between "Gardening" and "Landscaping" Shows. This is an important distinction.

  • "Gardening" is all about the ongoing care and maintenance of plants. That can mean flowers and trees; fruits and vegetables; composting; mulching; pest- and disease-control; and everything in-between. It can be a very economical Hobby (for many, it's a Passion!). And it certainly can be very "Green" (both figuratively and literally). Paul James focuses on "Gardening."
  • Whereas "Landscaping" is bringing in backhoes, and truckloads of dirt, gravel and rocks. Oh, and plants, too. It's the "Instant Gratification/Backyard Makeover" that costs thousands of dollars and may (or in most cases, may NOT) last a Season or two. Ahmed Hassan is more "Landscaping." (Love "Yard Crashers" - just the same!).

We definitely need more of the former. If not Paul James (although he is, by far, The Best!), then someone "Younger and Perkier" - but it must be REALISTIC and PRACTICAL, too. *That's* what I love about Paul James - he gets down, gets dirty, and shows us how it's done in an entertaining, amusing, educational and realistic way!

* * * * *

There seems to be a belief that Gardeners are "too old" and that Garden Shows don't cater to your "Under-35 Target Demographic." I beg to differ. I have been gardening for more years than I care to recall (BTW, I am in the "35-45 Demographic"). I know I started well before I turned 35.

I'm also fairly active in our local Gardening Community and attend numerous events throughout the year. I observed that at least half of the attendees at a recent (City-sponsored) Composting Workshop were in their mid-30's and younger.

Here's another interesting detail: Even though I'm not in your Target Demographic, I've been known to spend a surprising amount of money on my Gardening Habit. Not only at local "Family-run" Nurseries (Love to support "The Local Guy!"), but also Home Depot; Lowe's; Sears (our Rototiller = Craftsman); Troy-Bilt (Lawnmower); And that's just to name a few. Along those lines, I will be contacting many of your Advertisers and letting them know how much I miss the "G" in HGTV. If simple letter-writing won't work, then perhaps my spending habits can help drive the point home...

Please reconsider your decision to cancel Paul James' contract. And please, please, please bring back more Quality Garden Programming (in a viewable time-slot!)

Thank you.

HGTV Protest Campaign: Today's the Day!

Okay, I got my cuppa coffee... I got my laptop...

I'm doing MY part and sending off emails to HGTV/Scripp's Networks execs and advertisers...

Are you?

Check it out here.

I figure, it's worth a shot!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ready for Spring to be Sprung Already!

And "Join the Urban Garden Project"

So we're having a bit of a warm spell - during the daytime anyway. But nighttime temps are *still* ridiculously low (Whine-Whine-Whine!). I mean, it's April already, and we're still dipping into the mid-30's?! ("Waaahhhhh!")

But, ya see, I got all these Baby Seedlings that are quickly outgrowing my bathroom windowsill! And I'd prefer not to transplant, then transplant AGAIN (Yeah, I know - call the "Waaaaahhhhmbulance!").

Oh, and to top it off, the Santa Clara Master Gardeners had their Annual Spring Sale yesterday. I hooked up w/P, a fellow Garden-Geek, and I made her PROMISE not to let me buy ANY MORE TOMATOES!

So anyway... ever since I've gotten into this Gardening Thing - to the point where I'm going to Community-Sponsored events (like the Composting Workshop and this Master Gardener's Sale) - I'm discovering that our Fair City has all kinds of cool, secret gems!

Unfortunately, whenever I'm on these jaunts, it never occurs to me to bring a camera along! But anyway...

The Composting Workshop was held at Emma Prusch Farm Park which is actually in a pretty "marginal" part of town. But it's WAY COOL. It's totally like an Old-Time Farm, but they've built a park around it. And they've got "Community Gardens" where folks who may not have growing space can plot out their own individual veggie gardens. And they've got chickens roaming around and stuff. And they've even got a livestock barn where City Kids can raise their 4H/FFA animals. Yeah! Pretty cool! (And quite Appropo - considering that before the whole Computer Age hit, ALL of Santa Clara Valley was farmlands and orchards - I actually remember that!)

Yesterday's Plant Sale was held at San Jose History Park . This is kind of a "Back to the Future" place where it's all "Old Style Downtown." It was kinda hard to get a feel for the place yesterday, because of the THOUSANDS of ppl who showed up with Garden Carts, Little-Red-Wagons and whatnot to load up on TONS of plants. We were sadly unprepared and had to scramble to find boxes to carry our acquisitions! (Note to self: Next year, bring a rolling cart!).

I think I showed amazing restraint (No thanks to P!). I only added ONE tomato plant to my (already excessive) collection! I did pick up a 6-pack of climbing beans, a 6-pack of corn, a couple-three pepper plants (including Ancho-Poblano - a mild chili pepper ideal for making chiles relleno - Mmmmm!), a couple of squashes, and Good-Gawd - Not MORE seeds?!!! P is another Plant Addict so we weren't very good about restraining each other! (I think we're what'cha'd call Co-Dependents!)

Oh, and I picked up some more succulents. There was a lady doing a demo on planting succulents in sphagnum-moss "forms." I bought a little 10" Donut-shaped form and a bunch of succulent cuttings (succulents are insanely easy to grow from cuttings). I figured that'd make a really cool, low-maintenance centerpiece for our Umbrella Table!

When I got home, I decided to tackle the "Donut Garden" first (seemed easiest!). I dampened the sphagnum moss with a spritzy bottle and divvied up the cuttings. Used the pointy-end of a chopstick to poke holes in the moss and added the cuttings, using the fat-end of the chopstick to stuff 'em in.

I gazed at my handiwork and decided it looked a little "sparse." So I glanced over at my "Undersea Garden" and saw that it needed some serious cleaning up (Funny how one seemingly simple Garden-Project can grow into a BIG one!). The "Undersea Garden" was inspired by an episode of Gardening By the Yard. Link to that episode here. I've got this one recorded to DVD and I swear - I drool every time I watch it!

Undersea Garden

Sooooo... I cleaned up the Undersea Garden and scored a whole bunch of fresh cuttings for the Donut Garden (I even have "extras" for P)! I think it came out pretty nice - and it should look even better as the plants start to grow!

Donut Garden on Umbrella Table

Now I just need to remember to go out and spritz it daily until the cuttings take root. Thankfully, succulents are *very* forgiving. They love heat and don't require much water - so I think they actually stand a chance of surviving a summer on our patio! Hell, the Undersea Garden has been totally neglected - and sitting ON the [broilingly hot!] patio - for at least one solid year and *it* was overgrown!

My last project for the day was finishing up one of my Self-Contained, Self-Watering, Not-An-EarthBox® Planters. I posted about that earlier (along with links to an instructional page on how to make 'em). I'm going to plant-up some corn in this one - super-duper-dense planting (so they can pollinate each other easily). I've never had ANY success with growing corn, so my fingers are crossed that maybe this method will work! I thought I had clear plastic - but it got sizzled in the sun - so I'm just gonna use red plastic mulch and see what happens...

Self-Contained-Planter "Under Construction"

Self-Contained-Planter "Complete, but Empty!"


But temps are still too cold at night to plant any summer crops outside. So everything is sitting in the greenhouse for now.......

In Other News: I'm helping to "Spread The Word" about the The Urban Garden Project™.

Quoting from their site: Our goal is to encourage and catalog the creation of 100,000 urban gardens by 2020. For the purposes of our project urban gardening will be defined as anyone growing food and possibly even other resources i.e. backyard chickens, rabbits,etc. within city limits and yes, we do mean vegetable gardens! This can be a container garden on a fire escape all the way up to a full back yard of raised beds and animal cages. Producing a large percentage of the produce that you consume or starting out on the journey to get you there qualifies you for this project! No garden is too small for this project so sign up today.

I don't feel particularly "Urban" since we're definitely on the suburban fringes of San Jose - but, technically, we *are* in City Limits - so I joined 'em!

Anyway, if this is something that might interest you, go on over and check 'em out. They're posting all kinds of interesting ideas. I especially like their compact chicken-coop - but I don't think I'll be able to convince Rog that "fresh eggs" are worth it! Hey - Hens *are* legal in residential San Jose!

So that's the Latest 'n Greatest from my backyard.............

Monday, March 30, 2009

ATTN: HGTV "This is War!" April 13

Okay, I don't normally get into the whole "Online petition" "Forward this to all your friends" yada-yada stuff that floats around these-here intertubes. I've been online long enough to have developed a sense of cynicism about such things (and I *always* check Snopes before forwarding any particularly interesting "tidbits" of info...).

And, to be perfectly honest, I'm not really much of an "Activist" anyway. Takes too much energy!

But for this, I will make an exception...

This all started with Garden Rant. Actually, it probably "started" somewhere else, but that's neither here nor there, at this point.

Many of us (myself included) have "continued" the rant... And now I'm happy to see that someone is spearheading an effort to "get through" to HGTV and their sad departure from Garden programming.

Check out HGTV Protest Campaign. They're basically calling upon all us Gardeners to send emails, write letters, call, whatever on APRIL 13 (not before) and express our feelings about the disappearance of all "Garden" related programming. Not only to HGTV/Scripps Network directly, but ALSO to their sponsors, threatening a Boycott.

Okay, that might be a bit extreme... Or it might actually make a difference... Who knows?

Me? I'll definitely send an email off to the HGTV/Scripps execs, for sure. And I'll probably "selectively" contact some of their sponsors. There's actually a fairly extensive list on the Protest Campaign site - and I'll definitely be sending off notes to any sponsors who might have a "stake" in the Gardening World (i.e. Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, Troy-Bilt, among others). Pizza Hut? Probably not...

But that's just me.

By all means, I think - any-and-all Gardeners out there - *should* jump on the bandwagon. Maybe, just maybe, our "collective voices" can be heard!

So go to HGTV Protest Campaign and join us on April 13!

Worst case: You'll waste 15 minutes of your life sending out a bunch of emails...

Best case? Maybe we CAN be heard!

Heck, it's worth a try, right?!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

White House Garden

The latest buzz in the Gardening Blogosphere is that Michelle Obama is starting a vegetable garden on the white house lawn.

Various links:

A site devoted to encouraging the current residents to grow a veggie garden: Eat the View.

Garden Rant posts here, and here, and here.

And official White House blog post here.

(I have no doubt there are others, but those are the ones I read most recently!!!)

And some news reports here:

And here:

I think this is Just Plain Cool!

Some folks might find this downright silly - in light of all the "Important Issues" facing the current administration - but I'm not going to get into political commentary (kinda like wrestling a pig, right?).

I *will* say that "Getting Back to Basics" is most-definitely a Key Issue that faces ALL of us. And how much more "basic" can you get - than growing your own fresh, healthy produce for your dinner table?

I especially love how they're getting elementary school children involved... I mean "Free Labor" - Love it! Noooooo - just kidding! This is all about that "Next Generation of Gardeners" that I was talking about in an earlier rant.

And yes, I absolutely believe it *will* make a difference, if we can get more kids excited about gardening. Hell, it almost makes me want to volunteer at a local school or something (would that I had any credentials!).

Anyway, seeing this makes me happy.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Attention HGTV: Where's the "G"???

I feel the need to rant!

Word out on the Blogosphere is: HGTV is pretty-effectively eliminating ALL Garden Programming from their line-up...
AND they have chosen *not* to renew Paul James' contract. Ohhhhh.... What a MISTAKE!!! Paul James, the Gardener Guy (and Star of "Gardening By The Yard"), is My Horticultural Hero! And to cancel his show is a PERSONAL AFFRONT to *ME,* DAMMIT!

(Paul, for those of you who may be unfamiliar, is an organic gardener who hails from Tulsa, OK. His show, Gardening By The Yard, is mostly filmed in his backyard. His is not a perfectly manicured garden, free from weeds and pests - and that's what I love about his show! He demonstrates a very realistic approach to gardening. And he's quite funny, downright goofy, and extremely entertaining and educational, to boot!)

It used to be that "Gardening By The Yard" was on every weekend morning at, like, 9:00am Pacific (or thereabouts). Yeah, most Gardeners are outside "Gardening" by then, but since I am a late-riser (on weekends, anyway), this worked out well for me. I could enjoy my morning coffee with my Good Buddy, Paul.

Yeah, at least 70% of the shows were re-runs, but it didn't matter! I was hooked to the point where even Rog knew better than to try to talk to me while I was watching! It was still "inspirational" for me to watch my GBTY! I'd watch Paul and his cheesy antics, and get all "motivated" to "Get Outside" and "Get it Done!"

Well, in the last year or so, they'd cut him back to just Sunday morning... I *even* felt compelled to hit the "Contact Us" link on HGTV's site to complain about their decision to shuffle their weekend line-up and eliminate Paul James in a "watchable" time-slot (and I got the "Thank you for your comments, we value viewer feedback..." line of bullsh*t response. :::sigh:::).


Then they relegated him to 7:00am EASTERN (4:00am, Pacific - thankyouverymuch!). Of course, HGTV, in it's Infinite Wisdom, never gives any NOTICE of it's intentions to screw around with MY weekend programming! Ohhhh, noooo! I'd settle into the recliner with my cuppa coffee and remote, fire-up the TV and discover that they'd just up-and-moved my show - and I'd have to go online to figure out what the hell they did with it!

"Fargin' Iceholes!!!"

Currently, they *are* showing some "New" (2008) episodes @ 4:30am on Sundays and 4:00am, Tuesdays. Yes, we have the DVR set to record them and, yes, Rog *still* knows not to talk to me while I'm catching up on my PJ episodes!!!

Put simply: Paul James ROCKS!!!

So anyway, like I said, Word Out on the Blogosphere is that nearly ALL Gardening Shows have been eliminated and - Worse still: Paul's contract has NOT been renewed by HGTV because (and allow me to quote from another blogger...) "He said HGTV had not renewed his contract as they felt he was too old and gardeners were too old and they're really wanting to cater to an under-35 demographic. "

Excuuuuuuuuuse me?!! Gardeners are too old?!!!

Hellll-oooooo??? I can't even begin to tell you when I *started* gardening, but I'm quite certain it was before I turned 35!!! Hell, I remember - back when I was in my early-20's - I'd at least START a garden on my apartment patio and my roommate, at the time, would roll his eyes and make snide remarks about my "Annual Attempts at Horticultural Genocide!" (Okay, so the patio didn't get much sunlight - and I was a little lax about watering! But still!!!)

And, even when I lived on my boat (when I was in my early 30's), I had a flower garden on the bow of Solitaire ANNNND I had a couple of potted tomatoes (resulting fruit was "edible" but the skin was probably about 1/8" thick!). Nevertheless, I was definitely gardening back then, as well!

I started to "come into my own" when I moved into Roger's place - with a HUGE "Blank Canvas" of a yard. Blessed with nutrient-rich (yet heavy-clay) soil and an ideal growing climate, I started to experience my first REAL Gardening Success! And HGTV's Garden Programming - Paul James in particular - taught me TONS about mulching, and soil-amendments, and composting, and all-around GOOD Gardening Practices - which resulted in even *greater* Gardening Success!

Yes, I was in my - gasp! - late 30's by then, but STILL!

Here's the deal, Oh HGTV (*Not* that you're listening or anything!!!): Yeah, I am now in the "40-Something Demographic." But the LATEST TREND right now (Again, gleaned from the Blogosphere, but apparently there are "Industry Analysts" who are citing this particular factoid) is for Home-Grown Fruits and Veggies, right?! To say nothing of all the "Green" trends right now!

The economy is in the tank (in case anyone has been asleep for the last year or so!), and "Organic" is all-the-rage, right? Folks are looking for ways to cut-back on spending, and WHAT BETTER WAY to ensure excellent quality food for your family - at the lowest possible cost (while being extremely kind to Mother Earth, no less!) - than to GROW IT YOURSELF?!!

Annnnnnd... Let's take it a step further (as we're talking about "Target Demographics"): WHO has the greater "discretionary spending budget" right now?
  • The "Under 35" demographic, with kids (and SUV's, and orthodontia, and college savings, and many-years of mortgage pymts still looming on the horizon)?
  • Or the 40-50+ "Empty Nesters/Baby Boomers?" (Who's homes are nearly paid-off?!!).

    While you may be aiming for the Under-35 crowd (and there's nothing wrong with that!), I don't think it serves your best interests to alienate the - cough-cough - "Older" demographic!

    (Why yes, I *do* have my dainties in a wad over this! I *did* say I was ranting, didn't I?!)

...And since I'm sure it's all about the $$ (as opposed to "what people want to watch!") I have little doubt that there *are* Advertisers who would be happy to pay for some air-time to sponsor a GARDEN SHOW that caters to us - ahem! - "Too Old" Gardeners: Home Depot and Lowes have Garden Centers, if I'm not mistaken; Then there's Troy-Bilt (lawnmowers, tillers); DR Power (who makes those ginormous brush-clearers and mini-cultivators); John Deere (lawn tractors); And I believe that Sears sells more than *just* stainless steel kitchen appliances (Ummm... Our rototiller sports a Craftsman logo); Hell, there's even annoying Billy Mays and his Awesome-Auger-Thingie...

Annnnnnd... Who SAYS the "Under-35 Target Demographic" DOESN'T have any interest in gardening? I recall seeing quite a few 30-somethings at the composting workshop, last week! And seriously: What better way to inspire the "Next Generation" of Gardeners than with QUALITY Gardening shows???

By Gardening, I mean "ongoing" Gardening: Planting flowers, fruits and veggies and tending to them on a daily/weekly basis and "reaping the benefits of what you've sown." There is, quite simply, NOTHING better than picking a fresh home-grown tomato off the vine and *hoping* it makes it to the kitchen! (Most of mine get eaten LONG before I even make it to the back-door!)

And by Next Generation: I'm not only referring to the 20-30-somethings, but also their kids - right? Children LOVE to learn about growing stuff! A simple sunflower seed becomes a GIANT flower where you can EAT the seeds after harvest! A tiny seed becomes a pumpkin that can become a Jack-O-Lantern on Halloween, or a Pie on Thanksgiving! Hell, I even remember, way back when I was a mere spud (Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth!), my dad showing me how to plant radish and carrot seeds. I'd rush out to the garden plot every night, pull back a teensy bit of soil, and examine my baby veggies - eagerly awaiting the day when we could pick and eat them!

And given the current ecomonic conditions - and the fact that people ARE looking for ways to cut-back - as opposed to spending thousands on a DIY Home Improvement Project that May (or May NOT) result in a decent Return on Investment!... What BETTER "Target Audience" could you possibly aim for?!!

Arrrrggghhh!!! It just annoys the HELL out of me!

Okay, so maybe PJ is too old (although I beg to differ. No, strike that! I vehemently disagree! - I think he's GREAT!), but surely you can make some room on your programming line-up to include SOME kinda Gardening Shows ("GARDENING" not "Landscaping" okay?!!). Find yourself some annoyingly perky host(ess) with perfect teeth, perfect hair, and DIRTY FINGERNAILS who is willing to show us "How it's Done!" - preferably in a "realistic" fashion!

Hello?!! H"G"TV - Are you LISTENING?!!

BTW - I almost *never* watch HGTV anymore. I used to have it on for several hours/day... Now, hardly ever. And soon, probably NOT AT ALL!

Note: Many posts related to the demise of Good Garden-Related-Programming can be found here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Diabetes and Byetta

In case the "Title" didn't clue you in... This is gonna be one of them-there "Diabetes-Related-Posts" so if this subject matter bores you... "Move along... Nothin' to see here!"

So I was diagnosed as Type 2 in December '07. I probably had "Metabolic Syndrome/Pre-Diabetes" long before that. But that's a separate rant that falls under "Why I don't trust Doctors" and best left for another time...

"It is what it is."

I now have a doctor that I *do* trust. She's an Assistant Professor at Stanford's Endocrinology Clinic. She's helped me make HUGE progress in the past 6 months - and I feel WORLDS better than I did!

Anyhoooo... Over the past couple-three years, I've gained an enormous amount of weight - no matter WHAT I did. Exercise more? Eat less? (Cut fat/Cut carbs/Eat Cabbage Soup/Drink Protein Shakes/Eat Nothing/Ad Nauseum).. Uhhh... Nothing worked!

Since my diagnosis, with the veritable cornucopia of pharmaceuticals I've taken, the weight-gain has not only continued, but increased at an alarming rate! I don't want to say exactly how much I've gained, so let's just say that it's A LOT!

Along with that, I am highly-highly insulin resistant. My problem is not that my pancreas can't produce enough insulin (it produces plenty, actually). It's that my body can't/won't utilize the insulin properly. In fact, about the ONLY thing about insulin that does seem to "work" for me, is it's ability to convert food (glucose) to FAT. Ohhhh yeah, it does that VERY well!

Doc switched me over to Humulin R U-500 which is 5x the strength of "normal" insulin. That actually metabolizes very well for me and I've definitely seen a HUGE improvement in my Blood Glucose [BG] numbers. I remain highly carbo-phobic, however. Carbs send my BG#'s thru the roof, but the U-500 insulin (in conjunction with *strict* carb restriction) works extremely well and I am happy to report that - as of February anyway - I am now a Proud Member of the "5% Club!" My last A1c came back at 5.7 (I'd started out at 11)! So "Yayyyy Me!"

The U-500 does work very well. And, in fact, my weight gain has *slowed* significantly. But... I'm still gaining!!! My hope was that if I got my BG#'s in-line, that the weight gain would stop and - maybe, just maybe - get replaced with weight LOSS, right?

Not so, Kemosabe!

Yes, I feel better... Yes, I have a *bit* more energy... Yes, I *have* increased my activity levels (from being a total slug [NOT by choice!] to being able to take the stairs at work and work in the yard)... I even took it a step further and started experimenting with cutting back carbs to ridiculously low levels (aimed for 20g or less, managed to maintain appx 40g/day) and cut back calories (aimed for 1300, managed to maintain appx 1600 cals/day)... I even started dialing back my insulin usage as far as I dared (to the equivalent of appx 300 units/day - which was as low as I could go without experiencing spikes) (and I've NOT been able to maintain that, I had to ramp-back-up to 390u/day). I worked on that DILIGENTLY for one solid month...

The payoff?! Ohhhh, I ONLY gained 7#!!!!

Words cannot describe.................................................

Anyhooooo... During my early-Feb appt with my endocrinologist, I expressed Extreme Dismay over my inability to lose weight - no matter what I did!

See, it seems I'm stuck in a Vicious Circle with my Insulin Resistance and High Insulin Requirements. It seems the more insulin I take, the more weight I'll gain. And the more I weigh, the more insulin I'll need. So add more insulin, gain more weight, and need still MORE insulin!

"Lather. Rinse. Repeat."

So we kicked around a few ideas and finally settled on Byetta (Exenatide). Byetta is an incretin mimetic that was originally derived from some sorta poisonous lizard. I don't claim to know a whole helluva lot about it (despite my Googling the hell out of it!), but the Bottom Line is - it seems to "play well" with T2 diabetics and helps with BG control. And one of it's side-effects is weight loss. That seems to (mostly) come from the fact that it slows digestion so you feel "fuller" for a longer period of time (but the downside to that is you might end up getting nauseous)...

It is not FDA approved for insulin-dependent diabetics, and it's not prescribed as a diet medication - but I've heard-tell of many insulin-dependent diabetics who have had WONDERFUL success on this medication (likewise, there are many who it hasn't worked for).

But since I seem to be a bit of an "Extreme Case," she agreed to let me try it. First, we wanted to draw more lab tests and make sure it wasn't contraindicated in my case. Plus, I wanted to do a bit more Googling...

Well, during my early-March appt, she wrote the prescription for it. She also warned me about side-effects (which are plentiful - and some sound pretty nasty, especially "Acute Pancreatitis!"), and gave me a list of things to "watch-out for." She basically scared the beejezus outta me!

I have found a good Support Board: Diabetes and Byetta

Anyway... I started the Byetta last Friday... One of the (many) things the doctor warned me about were hypos, so I dialed-back my insulin before I started it, and also ramped-up the carbs. I figured it was safer for me to run higher numbers initially and then tweak it from there.

I have posted to the D&B board, but I thought I'd also post my results here - in case there are any Diabetic "lurkers" out there who might find this interesting..

Here are my notes about starting Byetta @ 5mcg:

  • I've had no stomach issues - other than a little burpy-gas, and I'm starting to get a bit more "brave" about what (and when) I'll eat after I take the injection.

  • I can't say that I necessarily feel "full" faster - and certainly not over-stuffed after eating. But as long as I remain vigilant and eat *less* - I'm finding that I don't get ravenously hungry a couple of hours later. So I'm going to call that a "subtle" improvement (Meaning: I have to pay attention to it - NOT that it's an "insignificant" thing!).

  • I haven't found any foods that "disagree" with me (yet!) - so I'm counting myself very fortunate (If I had to give up BBQ pork ribs... Arr! Don't go there!) (Of course, I haven't tried BBQ pork ribs since I've been on it!) (But when/if I do - it'll only be a couple of small ones!)

  • I have been able to cut my insulin usage by appx 25% (from 390 units/day to 300!). My avg BG has risen slightly (avg 130 now - it had been in the 115-120 avg range before) - but I'm attributing that to increased carbs. I'm going to start experimenting with dialing the carbs back.

  • I've had NO hypos. But I have had a few "spikes" over 170 - and one over 200 (again, carbs are to blame - and that was partially "by design" b/c I wanted to ramp-up my BG#'s while starting Byetta).

  • Even when I do spike, it drops back and stabilizes pretty quickly. This is another positive improvement (previously, if I hit a 200+, I'd be sick, and my BG would be all-over-the-board, for a full 24 hours+ afterward)

  • Yesterday, I had lunch w/a friend at a Mexican Restaurant. Tortilla Chips are like cocaine in that they're highly addictive... I also had a "real" margarita (with sugar and everything). Yes, I sinned. Yes, I spiked. No, I didn't suffer (Yay!).

  • Normally, after sinning like that, I could expect to see a 3-4 lb. gain the next day - plus I'd feel like a Zombie. Today I felt surprisingly good, first thing this morning, ANNNNNNND... The scale (a very accurate model, BTW) actually showed a 1 lb drop! Yaaayyyy!!! (No, I don't intend to make a habit of it - but I'm happy to know I can indulge ONCE in awhile!)

Soooooo... I'm thinking and hoping that this IS gonna work for me! In fact, I think I'll even upgrade from "Guardedly Optimistic" to "Fully Optimistic!" I expect to stay @ 5mcg for a month (longer, if I feel comfortable with my progress). I'll probably upgrade to 10mcg at some point though.

And I'm still experimenting w/food (especially carbs) and insulin dosages. I'd like to get my avg BG#'s down a bit lower and need to figure out how best to dial-it-in (Obviously Mexican Food ain't the way go!)...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I've got Worms!!!

Ewwww... Ick!!! Right?!

Nahhh - Not in this case! I'm a Gardener, remember?!

See, last week when I attacked my compost bins and discovered an insignificant quantity of usable compost, I pretty-much decided that the "Old Fashioned" method of composting wasn't workin' for me (My Bad - but I just don't have the time, energy or desire to obsessively turn my piles every week)! Bottom Line: A dearth of earth is more work than it's worth!

Yes, I'll still maintain my bins, but I don't think I'm gonna get much in the way of compost...

At least not until somebody buys me a RolyPig!

So anyway, I went to the San Jose Composting workshop yesterday. I re-learned about "regular" composting, and learned *some* new-stuff about vermicomposting. Of course, I'd already Googled the hell out of it, and already kinda knew The Basics - but I figured it couldn't hurt to attend the workshop...

Plus, after the workshop, they sell "subsidized" bins to San Jose residents. So I picked up a Wriggly Wranch Worm Bin:

I also found a worm supplier who, as it turned out, was actually at the Workshop, selling his - umm - wares! He's a nice guy, very knowledgeable - and "local" to boot! And he responds to questions and emails quickly, which is always a "Plus" in my book! Anyway, I'd hoped to purchase some worms from him yesterday, but he was a very popular guy! Everybody was crowded around him (this was *after* the workshop, mind-you!), and it seemed as though he was conducting his OWN vermicomposting class! Had I been able to get close enough to listen in, I would've stayed...

Alas, I ended up leaving wormless! But I figured that was okay because I could assemble and set-up my bin - and just arrange to buy my worms from him directly at another time...

Plus P, a FaceBook Friend (and pal from the ceramics studio) said she could give me some worms from her compost bin...

So I emailed Jerry aka The Worm Dude (Cool site, definitely worth a look if you're interested in worm composting!), and he wrote back yesterday afternoon and said I could swing by today.

That was cool because P was also available. So I met WormDude Jerry around noonish and bought a pound of Red Wigglers (small composting worms - different from earthworms).

After that, I hooked up with P for lunch. We had a lovely late-breakfast at Aqui's and we discussed composting, and worms, and chicken sh*t, and rabbit poop while we ate our eggs, sausage and tamales! (Funny... All of the tables in our immediate vicinity were empty! :::shrug:::)

Nahhh... P is Good People and we had some good laughs! And she sent me home with a plastic bin o' worms and 3 swiss chard plants that will go into my raised bed.

Anyhooooo... Back to the worms: The Wriggly Wranch is identical to the Reln Worm Factory. It's a two-tray system that allows for "vertical migration" of the worms. When they fill the lower bin with castings, you encourage them to wriggle up to the upper tray (by giving 'em shredded newspapers to climb, and moving the fresh bedding and food to the upper tray), then you can remove the bottom tray, harvest the castings, and start all over again. It comes with a coconut coir brick that you soak in water and it expands like nobody's business. That's the worms' bedding. All you do is add worms and food! Adding shredded, moist newspaper (soaked for 24 hrs, then wrung-out) is also appreciated by the worms...

The main thing is finding the right location for the worm bin. Some people keep them indoors (but that ain't gonna fly with Rog!)

Around here, temps tend to be fairly worm-friendly (So sayeth The Worm Dude - and he's only a couple-three miles from me!). They'll slow down significantly during the winter months - but they shouldn't die. Summer temps can be deadly, however. And with the bin being black plastic, they can easily "cook!" Luckily, we have a breezeway alongside the house (actually, it's more like "hurricane alley" if you want to talk about 'breezes!'). It's a narrow walkway leading from the driveway to the back yard - with a fence on one side and the house on the other. It's situated on the NORTH side of the house and, literally, never sees direct sunlight.

Plus it's fairly close to the back door - and totally paved, right? No slogging through mud to discard kitchen scraps... In other words: Perfectomundo!

So the Wriggly Wranch is all set-up; my new worms are settling in; and I'd already started gathering kitchen scraps during this past week... I've actually got a plastic coffee can, lined with a biodegradable plastic bag (so I can toss the bag in the compost bin if things start to get stinky). It's sitting on the bar by the sink. And I've trained Roger to dump the coffee ground in there. Also any carrot peelings, lettuce leaves, "science projects from the back of the fridge" (provided they're strictly vegetative!), crushed eggshells and whatever get tossed in there.

To feed the worms, you bury a small amt of food in their bedding, in the corner of the bin. The worms will migrate to the food and convert it from kitchen waste to Super-Fertilizer. And I don't gotta do nuthin'! (Other than keep 'em fed and about as moist as a wrung-out sponge).

So I'm a Happy Composter!

And - just so's this post could be considered Educational - I will summarize what I've learned about vermicomposting here:

  1. Composting worms are different from earthworms, You can't dig-up worms from your lawn and expect 'em to be happy in a composting bin. Buy some Red Wigglers or Night Crawlers. Personally, I'd recommend The Worm Dude (appx $25 for a pound of Red Wigglers -and yes, he ships).

  2. Worm bins can be purchased or home-made. I'm lazy, so I opted to buy one, But you can Google Worm-bins and find a ton of ideas. Wood is a better insulator than plastic, but it will eventually break down.

    If you do choose to make your own bin, make sure you include screening or use super-duper small air-holes because you don't want to invite flies (or their larvae) into your bin...

  3. Worms like "moderate" temperatures. They'll slow down in cooler temps (50's or lower), and they might die if exposed to prolonged freezing temps (under 32°F). Our temps can dip into the upper 20's, but that's only for short bursts. The worms will cluster together, but they can survive. Upper ambient temps: They can survive temps in the low triple-digits - but they won't survive in a black plastic bin subjected to direct sunlight (even if the ambient temps are only in the 80's).

  4. Quantity of worms: 1-3 lbs will work for most families. It's just Rog and me here, so 1 lb should suffice. They'll consume roughly 1/2-3/4 of their body weight, per day. I have 1 lb of worms, so I can feed 'em roughly 1/2-3/4 lb of scraps per day (once they get settled in and happy). To start a bin, err on the side of "under-feeding" them - until they get settled in and you get a sense for what, and how much they like to eat.

  5. Yes, they'll survive if you go on vacation for a couple of weeks. Under-feeding is better than over-feeding. Don't dump too much food on 'em before you go on vacation. You might kill 'em!

  6. Worms are primarily bacteria feeders, they eat the food when it is all slimy and covered with bacteria (Tasty, yes?!)...

  7. Once you buy 'em, if all goes well, you won't ever have to buy more... They're hermaphroditic (male and female) and they reproduce like crazy. They'll control their population, by themselves, based on the quantity of food and amount of space available.

  8. Feed worms kitchen scraps by burying the food under one corner of the bedding. The worms will migrate to the food. By keeping the food in one corner (or moving it to a different corner), you can get a sense of what they like.

    Also, by keeping the food to one side or the other, that can help facilitate harvesting the castings. If you encourage them to migrate to ONE side of the bin, they'll stay there and not move until you start providing bedding/food on the OTHER side of the bin (that's especially useful if you're just doing a "one-level" bin. Mine is a multi-level bin).

  9. It should take appx 2-3 months for me to get enough worm castings that I'll want them to migrate UP to the next level of the bin. Then I'll harvest their, umm, output...

  10. Keep them moist. Spritz their bedding with a misty spray bottle if it gets dry. Their bedding should be like a wrung-out sponge. DON'T let the bedding dry out. DON'T dump, like, a Big Gulp's worth of water directly into the bed and DON'T let them sit in a puddle of water.

    Most likely, the kitchen scraps you give them should supply sufficient moisture on their own...

  11. Worms Like: Damp shredded newspaper (not shiny paper, though - just newsprint), damp cardboard boxes (pizza boxes!), paper towels. Also: Kitchen scraps like lettuce leaves, peelings (potato, cucumber, carrots, etc.), melon rinds, rotten fruit (they won't eat the pits, but you can pick them out later), crushed eggshells (best if you whir 'em in a blender 'til they're like a powder - WARNING: Don't open the blender in the house if you do this! Take it outside b/c you'll get a cloud of eggshell dust). Eggshells are good because worms need "grit" to faciliate digestion. Toss in a couple of non pulverized eggshells, worms like to curl up in 'em like a bed! Old tomatoes, mushrooms, veggies, etc. etc. etc. Although... Some foods with seeds (well, the seeds themselves anyway) *might* not be palatable to the worms and could "hide" in your worm castings - meaning when you spread the vermicompost (castings+remaining organic material), you might end up with "volunteer" plants.

    Hint #1: The smaller the foods are to begin with, the sooner the worms can break 'em down so shred 'em fine.

    Hint #2: (Especially useful during winter when your worms may not be eating as much), if you freeze veggie matter (and store it that way for awhile) - it will tend to break down the molecular structure and help facilitate the process. Of course, you'll want to thaw it before you put it in the bin.

  12. Worms Like - in moderation: Coffee grounds (and filters). Coffee is high in nitrogen and can heat-up the bin. Citrus (peelings or fruit). Highly acidic and can make for a very unfriendly environment for the worms.

  13. Worms DON'T like: Meats, oils, dairy products, moldy bread, hot peppers. Paper towels with a *small* amt of grease - or pizza boxes - should be okay.

  14. Harvest your vermicompost when it looks all black and fluffy. Apply liberally to your plants and they will THRIVE!

Okay, I think that about sums up what I know about worms! Wish me luck - and I'll keep you posted!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Tahoe Weekend and Miscellaneous Stuff...

I'm a Bad Blogger...

The fact is, I just haven't found much worth blogging about (again, my muses are avoiding me!).

We actually did take a three-day-weekend trek to the snow last week (Friday-Sunday). We've only been talking about it every freakin' year since we've been together (2001!). This year, we finally did it!

That probably should have provided a Ton o' Blog-Fodder, but I wasn't in much of a literary mood.

Ohhh, I s'pose I could b*tch about the cheesy accommodations (It was a "Budget Weekend" after all!). But that's just too negative...

Besides, when you're traveling with dogs (and yes, we were!), you kinda have to take what you can get, right?!

Nevertheless, I will opine that - if YOU happen to find yourself looking for a cheap, pet-friendly motel on Tahoe's North Shore, and you happen to stumble onto the Tahoe Inn... Make sure you read the Traveler's Reviews (at sites like TripAdvisor.com) and set your expectations accordingly!

My expectations were low - and I was not disappointed! Let's just leave it at that!

* * * * *
Okay, maybe not! Let's just take it half-a-step further, shall we?!

Once we returned from our Big Adventure In The Snow, I knew the dogs needed baths (Pretty [melting] Snow + Furry Little Dogs = Mud Galore!). I didn't jump on it right away, unfortunately.

The next day, Princess Annie (The long-haired Doxie) was biting furiously at her butt. I wasn't sure what was going on - but she was clearly in distress, I watched her when she went outside to "take care of business," and I took a look at her - umm - "output" and confirmed that everything was "OK" from that perspective. Yet she continued to chew at her butt, rolling on the floor, and whining most piteously...

Called the vet... Grabbed the first available appointment...

$129.00 later: I learned that Princess Annie is allergic to fleas!

"B-b-but! We don't have fleas!" I said, incredulously (*Certainly* not Princess Annie! She's Royalty, after all!).

"Well, didn't you say you were in Tahoe this weekend?" the vet replied "Where did you stay?"

"Ohhhhh sh*t!" I muttered. "I mean, 'Oh Darn!' We stayed at a cheap motel that allowed dogs!" (Adding new meaning to the term "Fleabag Hotel!")

So it cost me $129.00 to learn that we had fleas - and I *still* had to bathe ALL the dogs myself! And hit 'em all with Frontline!


Problem solved now. So it's all good...

Anyway - I really don't want to rag on the Tahoe Inn. "It is what it is." And they DO allow dogs - and they ARE reasonably priced. If they invested any money in the place and updated/upgraded it - they probably wouldn't allow dogs anymore AND their prices would undoubtedly go waaaaay up!

Anyhooooo... It was a good weekend and it was nice to get away!

* * * * *
Back to work on Monday - and my workload is definitely picking up now (which is a good thing - but I was kinda getting used to being lazy!). Days are starting to get longer - which is really nice! And we've had a break in the rain - which is also nice!

Since I've mostly been working-from-home, this gives me an opportunity to putter-around a bit in the yard.

I'm happy to report that most of the fruit trees are in bloom... The early-bearer peach is in full-bloom and leaves are starting to appear. The later-bearer is just starting to bud. My Satsuma plum already bloomed and most of the blossoms are gone now (Gee, I sure hope we had some bee visitations!), and the Santa Rosa Plum is in full-bloom. Not sure about the Apple or Cherry Tree... Haven't seen any blossoms yet - so maybe they'll start budding later (or maybe I missed it!)

...Last year's Daylilies are all planted now (Yay!), and I've got more of 'em on the way (bulbs or bare-root or whatever). Dayliles are clearly un-killable - so they're the PERFECT plant for the far-back fence...

My raised bed is just about ready for new veggie plants. I cultivated the surface of the soil and mixed in the rotted leaves and composted (bagged) steer manure. I also set-up wire fencing to keep my Darling Quadrupeds OUT of the garden this year!

ALL of my tomato seeds have sprouted and I have a gazillion tomato plants that will soon be ready for planting. In the meantime, I hooked up with a gardening pal and pawned off SOME of the seedlings!

I still need to finish constructing my self-watering tomato planters (One is "almost done!"). I think, maybe, I'll work on those tomorrow.

Nighttime temps are still a little too cool to set out seedlings - and the babies are definitely too young to go out (they've just barely started getting their first "true leaves"). They'll need to be hardened off in the next week-or-so. I'll probably move them out to the greenhouse and raise the thermostat - just a hair - so the heater will keep them from freaking out too badly at night! Although it'll still be a big adjustment going from the consistently-warm windowsill to the greenhouse. But less-so than sticking 'em straight in the ground!

My soon-to-be pumpkin-patch isn't *quite* ready yet. We need another couple of rainstorms, I think. And I'll need to drag out the rototiller and break-up the rock-hard clay that resides UNDER the mound of leaves/manure. Plus, the first couple of pumpkin seeds I'd planted never did sprout - so I started some more. Fingers are crossed that I didn't get a bad batch o' seeds! (eBay purchase, so "Caveat Emptor" right?!). So yeah, I started more pumpkin seeds, and some squash, and melons. Those are all in the windowsill and some are just starting to sprout...

Annnnnnnnd... Today's Big Job was turning the compost piles - both of 'em! And yes, that was a Big Job! I didn't do the greatest job of tending to them last year, unfortunately (Gee, I wonder why?! Couldn't be health-related :::sigh:::). So the quantity of usable compost was pretty disappointing. Only the very bottom layer ended up breaking down fully - so I'm definitely gonna have to buy bagged compost this year :-(

I may have to abandon the idea of composting on a large scale. But I am going to go to a Composting Workshop next weekend, and I will be buying a worm-bin so that I can at least use-up kitchen scraps and coffee grounds. Anyone in the San Jose/Santa Clara County Area can go to any of the workshops - for free - and pick-up compost bins - for cheap. Info here.

Another cool composting gizmo is here. I really want one. But I don't think it will work - as well as I'd like - for large-scale composting (of things like grass-clippings, leaves, etc.) as my bins. But my bins don't do a very good job, either, if I'm not willing to turn 'em and tend-to-them - ya know?!

* * * * *
I really hate that I don't have the "energy" to do this stuff! But I'm not gonna start another "Old-Lady-Whine" again :-x

Actually, I've got plenty to be happy about, health-wise. I had labs done in mid-Feb. My last A1C (for any Diabetic Readers out there who might understand and/or care!) came back at 5.7!!!! Yayyyyyy!!!! I *finally* made the "5% Club!" From 11 in Dec '07 to 5.7 in Feb '09 is pretty darned good, I think! Of course, I'm still taking insulin at levels that would kill most people - but I'm still happy with the improvement.

I just wish I had more energy! (and weighed about 100# less - which would undoubtedly help with the energy levels!).

Anyway - apologies for being a Bad Blogger. And apologies for a rambling and not particularly interesting post...

I'll try to do better!!!

* * * * *
FWIW: Here are some pics (and "Commentary!") from the Tahoe-Weekend Adventure!

ROAD-TRIP!!! Hwy 680 is GREEN:

Windmills over Altamont Pass: First Sighting of "Real Snow" on Interstate 80:
Pretty Snow:
Wiener Dogs' first romp in the snow: Our "Lovely Accommodations:" Groovy 1960's Can Light (I'm *positive* that my mom had a pole-light-fixture that matched this!):

Our Room Key (nevermind that we were actually in room 241!):

Princess Annie, enjoying a brew after a long drive:

My attempt at an Artsy-Fartsy shot. Icicles and Christmas Lights outside of a BBQ joint where we had dinner:
Drive around the lake on a perfectly gorgeous day:
Not-so-gorgeous drive home:
Stop 'n Go Traffic (Lotsa "Stop" - Not so much "Go!")

It's snowing!!! (And no, we aren't carrying chains - "Why do you ask?!")
Oh, because the snow might start to "stick" maybe???

Yeah, maybe!

But the trees were pretty!

Took us 2 hours to clear Donner Summit (a distance of 40 miles from Truckee) - and I was deeply regretting our decision to *not* stop at Mickey-D's (Coffee hit the bladder about 30 minutes into the Stop-N-Crawl-N-Stop-N-Crawl Traffic!). But we made it home safely (obviously!).

View my page on Meet the Phlockers