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 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!).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away...

See?! It didn't take long for me to start b*tching about the weather!

We've had about a week of non-stop rain. And, in that time, we've gone from something like "10% of normal" to "80% of normal" rainfall!

We've got a little Digital Weather-Station Gizmo rigged up in the backyard and Greenhouse and, according to DH, we've gotten something like 14" of rain this season - so things aren't as "dismal" as the prognosticators have indicated...

Funny: I was whining to Joisey Kathie today - about how I was sick of all this @#$% rain. She's been dealing with MONTHS of snow, right? So I didn't get a whole lot of sympathy (Hmph!). Hey - what can I say?! I'm (admittedly) a "Wimpy Californian!" One week of rain, and I turn into a Total Puss!!!

* * * * *
Today, we did get a brief break from the deluge. I actually saw a bright, shining orb in the sky - and the sky had patches of BLUE!

Oh! And there were dark spots under the trees... I think they're called "shadows!"

I was momentarily blinded!!!

Then, in a fit of sheer giddiness (Party Girl that I am), I went out to the back-gate in the yard and dumped a bag of steer manure on top of the rotting leaves that I'd piled on my soon-to-be pumpkin-patch (After I'd set-up a ring of wire-fencing - I *don't* need the dogs to be rolling around in wet, stinky cowsh*t!).

I hope to add compost to that whole area (probably buy a couple bags @ Home Depot, actually, since I'm quite certain I won't have enough of my own for that spot), then I'll drag out the roto-tiller and get that whole area ready for spring-planting.

Since that spot is highly visible, and I'm trying to maintain the "Tropical Vibe" in the yard, I'll plant big-leafed viney-stuff like squashes back there...

Then I wandered back to the "Secret Garden" (which isn't so "Secret" in the wintertime!). I couldn't help but notice the HUGE improvements in the soil back there, in general. See, when I first moved in (in 2001), you couldn't POSSIBLY go back to that part of the yard in wintertime because the clay soil was sooooooo soupy and nasty, you'd sink up to your ankles - and seriously run the risk of losing a shoe! That is NO exaggeration! Oh, and in the summer - it would turn to impenetrable concrete and CRACK!

The first 2-3 years here, I worked diligently on improving the soil in the ENTIRE (1/4 acre) yard. I'd concentrated most of my efforts in the "Garden" area. I created several mobile compost piles (well, "mobile" in the sense that every time I'd turn a pile, it would move about 3-4' - and since I had several piles going, there was LOTS of "mobility!"). And we'd purchased a rototiller from Sears - which saw PLENTY of use those first 2-3 years...

Anyway, I kinda had to give myself a "pat on the back" (much deserved, I think!) because I was able to walk ALL AROUND the garden - and my feet didn't sink into any sludge!

So the moral of the story is: Amending your soil is a VERY GOOD thing! The "Payback" may not be immediate - but it WILL come, AND it will STAY!

(Of course, you do need to keep on top of it, but maintaining it is a whoooole lot easier than starting from scratch!)

Honestly, I didn't pay a whole heckuva lot of attention to the ground in front of the back-gate. That was actually wise because we ended up having (literally) tons of heavy equipment going in/out of that gate during pool construction. That area is pretty solidly compacted now. So I'm working on improving that whole area. Even if the pumpkins/squash don't "thrive" there, this coming season, at least the "attempt" will help break-up and improve the soil (I think/hope!).

* * * * *
In other Gardening News: Temps are still pretty cool (40's, mostly). But I do have my tomato seedlings started in my Mini-Jiffy-Greenhouse in the bathroom windowsill. They've all sprouted and seem to be doing well. I've got appx 40 new baby seedlings (that will need to be culled back to 22!). My honeydew melon seeds haven't sprouted yet, but I'm confident that they will...

Once everything gets going fairly well, I'll spritz them with chamomile tea (which, I've discovered, does a FANTASTIC job of preventing damping-off!), then move them out to the Real Greenhouse - so I can start another batch of seedlings!

* * * * *
Yep - The Gardening Itch has definitely hit me! I can't WAIT for this rain to finish Doing It's Thing so the sun can come out and we can start ANOTHER Growing Season!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My muse has eluded me...

As far as the "rant"goes... Well, rants based on current events really do need to be delivered in a timely manner. And, given that I still haven't seen the ad that started the thing, I think I'll just shelve the idea, and say that the Campbell Brown video pretty-much summed up my feelings on the subject.

With the following side-notes:

I used to work in the Financial Services Industry (Not for WF - but another Big 'Un that's faring even worse!). My friend still works at the same bank and she did point-out that the TARP funds are NOT simply "hand-outs," but loans that must be paid back, with interest. And yes, it's true, most news reports don't really acknowledge that when they sharply criticize the banks.

Howsomever, I work in a different industry now. One that is also "feeling the pinch" of hard economic times (as we ALL are). My current company isn't "in trouble" or anything (not yet, anyway!), but it started instituting cost-cutting measures long before the - umm - fertilizer hit the fan. I mean, all non-essential business travel was cancelled - starting early last year. Merit Increases have been cancelled for this year - all with the stated "hope" that they *don't* have to institute workforce reductions (Gawd knows, MY fingers are crossed!).

And I remember, not all THAT long ago, going on semi-lavish "Teambuilding" trips and such. I joined the company long-after the TRUE Boondoggles had ended, but we did have a few "decent" events. One of the last ones, I believe, was in Lake Tahoe (which isn't all that far from here - and hotel rooms can be had "for cheap" during mid-week). Although, I do share Jon Carroll's general opinion about "Compulsory Teambuilding Events."

I don't mind hanging out with colleagues off-site, during off-hours. But on-the-whole, I'd much rather be off somewhere else. Rather than having the "Flavor-of-the-week" forced down my throat by the Latest 'n Greatest Motivational Speaker... (And don't EVEN get me started on those stupid Team-Building Games!!!)

:::whew::: Got THAT off my chest! Although not nearly as "colorfully" as I'd originally intended!

* * * * *
In other news: It's RAINING! Lots, in fact - which is good. And no real end in sight, at this point. So I figure it'll be about a week or two before I start whining about wanting to see the sun again - or booking a Cheap Weekend in Cabo or something!

Consequently, not much has happened in the garden... I did head over to Home Depot and picked up a couple of bags of steer manure, intending to toss 'em on the pile of leaves for the Pumpkin Patch. While I was there, I discovered they were having a special on Phoenix roebelinii - Pygmy Date Palms. Big clumps of trees in big pots for under $20. So I bought one, having NO clue where I was gonna put it (Yeah, like that's ever stopped me! It's an Addiction I tellya!). I managed to get everything unloaded from the truck and into the backyard, but that's as far as it got!

Well, at least with all this rain, it won't be too terribly difficult to dig a hole for it! Just gotta figure out WHERE!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I feel a rant coming on...

Even though I *try* not to blog about current events... I'm holding off 'til I see the actual ad myself...

Here are a couple links, as a preview:

Disclaimer to that one: Jon Carroll is a "Humor" Columnist, so I *do* take his commentary with the requisite grain of salt. Yet he raises some good points........


More good points there, too.

We don't take the paper. But my mom does. I've asked her to sift through her papers - before they go out in the trash - and pull the ad for me, so I can read it myself.

Then, maybe, I'll rant about it! ("Oh, boy!")

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Upside to the Downturn...

Jimmy Buffett Tickets went on-sale yesterday.

And, as always, I was online at 10:00am, on-the-dot, with two PC's in action, to purchase my tickets.

Now, my past experience with TicketBa$tard has left MUCH to be desired. In fact, where Buffett Tickets are concerned, I always end up getting screwed (okay, it is a self-induced sorta screw-ed-ness, but still!)!

I can logon to their website the very INSTANT that tickets go on-sale, and I can NEVER find decent seats!

And, boy, does it p*ss me off!!!

But, since it's Buffett, I sorta develop this "Tazz-and-her-Tennis-Ball"-like personna. It's like, I will simply die if I don't have Buffett Tickets!

So, I logon the very minute tickets go on-sale (with multiple PC's, as I've mentioned) and I grab the "Best Seats" I can find. Which are usually in the 200-section... Not Nose-bleed seats, but - honestly - not great!

Of course, they COST as much as the "right-next-to-the-stage" seats would, but I buy 'em just the same...

And I KNOW that TicketBa$tard "holds" better seats 'til about a week or two before the event, but I *still* buy the sh*tty seats because I. SIMPLY. MUST. HAVE. TICKETS!!!!

(It's a sickness, I know!)

Annnnnnddddd... Because I am a masochist, I peruse Craigslist, and eBay, and whatever scalper-sites I can find, trying to find better seats at a better price...

And, of course, I keep going back to TicketBa$tard...

Annnnnnndddd... Invariably, a week-or-so before the show, I *do* find better seats (in the 100 section) on TicketBa$tard, and I end up buying them too!

So now I've paid DOUBLE THE PRICE for tickets, right?!

I do try to unload the original tickets, but I *always* take a Significant Loss on 'em. (Don't get me started on my eBay rant, BTW. Let's just say that Craigslist is a better place to unload extra concert tickets and leave it at that!)

* * * * *
And to segue even further... A colleague of mine, a fellow Parrothead in the Atlanta GA area, *also* goes through similar pains to get his tickets. But in the South, it's even worse (Buffett's Phan-Base is positively rabid down there!). He's lucky just to find two seats TOGETHER! Period! (Atlanta Shows sell-out, 100%, in mere minutes!).

* * * * *
Well, yesterday when I logged on, my initial attempts - requesting "Lower Level" ONLY - returned a "No Seats Available" responses (GRRRR!!!), and when I opted for "Best Available" I ended up with with 200-section seats (AGAIN!!!). Not too terribly awful (4th row of the 200 section). So I started the whole Purchase-Process thing... But something made me hold-off on finalizing the purchase. I switched back to my work laptop and tried for "Lower Levels" again, and actually scored seats in Section 107!!!

Okay, not the GREATEST seats in the world, but certainly "good enough!" So I bought 'em!

Now this is the FIRST TIME, EVER - that I have scored "Lowers" on the First Try for a Buffett Show!!!

So color me Happy!

* * * * *
Going back to my Geohhh-juh Colleague: He, too, was able to score "Lower" seats on his first try - but he saw the final ticket price and got Sticker-Shock! He chose to "pass" on the tickets...

* * * * *
My theory is that there are actually LOTS of folks who *wanted* to go to the show, but when they saw the final tally (appx $300 for 2 tix), they gave-up their seats and THAT'S why I was able to score Good Seats for the Buffett Show.

Sooooo... That's the "Silver Lining" to the Dark Cloud of our current economic state!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Raclette Party

In an earlier post, I'd mentioned that Rog picked up some raclette cheese for me while he was in Germany.

Well, this weekend, we broke out the Raclette Grill and invited our neighbors over. They'd been wanting to see the kitchen, and we had a ton of food, and this seemed like an ideal excuse to have a Get-Together...

They've got a 2-1/2 year-old daughter. Real cutie - and really precocious (although I can't understand a word that she says! I don't sprechen sie toddler!). They've been over here before - for a pool party/bbq - so I knew the dogs were "okay" with Ariana. In fact, Dynah seems completely smitten with her "Little Human Friend!" Although this time we were stuck indoors, so I thought it best to integrate the dogs into the party one-at-a-time. That worked out well.

And Dynah is *still* smitten - which is cute as hell!

Anyway, Raclette is a swiss semi-soft (and - let's say - "aromatic") cheese. It is typically melted and poured over other foods, like boiled potatoes, or slices of baguette, or meats, or veggies, or whatever.

One method of serving it is to use a Raclette Grill. Ours is a T-Fal with an electrical element, a teflon-coated grill-top and 8 individual serving trays that rest under the grill (under the heating element) and are used for melting the cheese. You can either melt the cheese on it's own, or you can add different stuff (sliced potatoes, thin-sliced meats, whatever) and melt the cheese on top.

It's a really fun, kinda "different" and relatively simple way to host a noshing get-together!

Today's menu (not entirely "Authentic" for a Swiss-style Raclette meal!) consisted of Tossed Salad; A couple different baguettes; Thinly-sliced Black Forest ham (the traditional salty bacon-looking kind - not the imitation variety you can pick-up at the grocery store!); Prosciutto; Sliced yellow squash and zucchini; Sliced red onions, fresh mushrooms and bell peppers; Steamed cauliflower, broccoli and carrots (lightly steamed to al dente - still fairly crunchy); and Boiled potatoes.

For the grill-top, I chopped up some boneless, skinless chicken breast (small - say stir-fry sized); thinly sliced steak (mine came as "fajita meat" - I have no idea what cut of meat it was). I marinated the chicken in Teriyaki sauce and the beef was soaked in some Lawry's "Tenderizing" Marinade solution (came in a "Just add water" kind of envelope from the spice aisle).

Cheeses: Thinly sliced Raclette Cheese; American; and Grated Cheddar - since I wasn't sure if everyone would like the raclette - I was mistaken! (Although Ariana clearly preferred the American cheese!) They were initially put-off by the - well - stinkiness of the raclette cheese. But once it's melted, there is nothing quite like it! Very smooth and "buttery" with a delightful flavor!

So I spent, maybe, an hour slicing and prepping everything. I basically put everything out on paper-plates on the counter. Figured we could do it "Buffet-Style" since our kitchen table is waaaaaaay too small! We had stoneware plates out on the table for the actual eating - but paper-plates for "gathering" stuff to grill (especially the raw meats, for obvious reasons!).

The raclette grill was set in the middle of the table - along with a variety of spices (Poultry Seasoning, Garlic/Onion Seasoning Salt, Salt & Pepper) and a spray can of Olive oil. And everybody basically cooked whatever they liked/however they liked it!

And THAT'S the cool thing about Raclette! You can prepare lots of different things and folks can pick and choose what they like. They can eat as much, or as little as they want. It's an excellent way to entertain without having to worry about who-likes-what. Plus it's fun and informal, and gets everyone talking!

Best part of all: Minimal clean-up! Most of the clean-up involved throwing paper plates in the trash! Yes, kinda wasteful, I'll admit. But we really don't have a lot of space for lots of serving dishes in the kitchen.
Oh, other Helpful Hints:
  • If you have any "Little People" joining the party, you'll want to sit them far away from the electric cord and, hopefully, keep them far enough away from the grill that Little Hands won't get burnt!
  • Since the cooktop is Teflon, you don't want people jabbing their food with metal forks while cooking. You can buy little wooden raclette spatulas which are fairly handy for moving food around on the grill, and scraping the melted cheese from the serving dishes.
  • We also had a full-sized plastic spatula ready, as well as a pair of silicone-tipped tongs (the tongs saw the most use!).
  • After cooking for awhile, you'll start to accumulate some black, burnt gunk on the grill-top. That is easily scraped off using one of the wooden spatulas, and following up with a quick wipe with a paper towel.
Other Uses for the grill:
  • I've heard of folks doing "brunch" type parties using raclette. You could easily cook eggs, omelettes, pancakes or bacon on the grill-top. I'd stick with fast-cooking and thin-type foods b/c it really isn't all THAT hot, and things can take awhile to cook...
  • Another use is for Fajita Parties (it's actually pretty ideal for that)
Anyway, a Grand Time was had by all... And now our neighbors want to buy a Raclette Grill for themselves!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"What's that, Lassie? Little Timmy fell down the well?"

Yeah, so Rog is home so we get to play the "Let-Me-In-Let-Me-Out" Game incessantly, right?

Rog let the hounds out while I was inside - doing whatever...

Rog let's 'em out [whether they need to go out or not!] - I get to let 'em in when they start barking like lunatics - that's The Rule!

Sometimes we have a little stand-off where I simply refuse to get up - no matter how much they bark and, eventually, Rog will get up and let 'em in.

("Welcome to My World!")

So anyway, the dogs were out, barking their fool heads off (at what - I do not know!) (Frankly, I'm amazed that no one has called the cops on us, yet. Although I *do* try to be considerate and I certainly don't allow them to bark at zero-dark-thirty in the morning!).

DH and I were in the middle of one of our "You let 'em out - I'm sure-as-hell not bringing 'em back in" Power-Struggles. So Rog reluctantly got up, went to the back door, shouted "Pooooooches" and two of the three came in.

A quick inventory revealed that Princess Annie, Roger's girl, was absent. Yet, she continued to yap and yowl...

Rog is partially clothed at this point and announced that he was getting ready to take a shower.

Hmmmm... Guess that means *I* have to retrieve her, right? ("Welllll... She doesn't LISTEN to me!" was the lame [but truthful!] response!)

(Bear in mind that Annie and I have this ongoing Power-Struggle, as well - where she is trying to achieve Alpha-Dog Status above ME, right?)

(NOT gonna happen.......)

(And part of that "game" involves her outright REFUSAL to come-in with 'the commoners.' Ohhh, no - Annie's return to the indoors must ALWAYS involve a SEPARATE trip to open the back-door. So *my* role in that game is to REFUSE to let her in, when she 'demands' it!)

(Again, "Welcome to My World!")

So, I poked my head out the back door and called "Annnnnnnniiiieeeeeeeeeeee!"


"To hell with ya then!" as I closed the door.

Well, the yapping and yowling continued - with a bit of a "desperate tone" added to it - which was unusual.

I hear the desperate yowling and I'm all "WTF" right? Open the door again... Call out "Annnnnnniiiiiiiieeeeeee" again, and (this time) I get the desperate yowling in response, right?

"Hmmm. Something's wrong."

So I put on my shoes, go outside (and leave the other two in the house). Well, Rog - in his infinite wisdom (words to be eaten later!), then opens the door and lets Dynah out.

I'm all "Great - Now I'll have to herd TWO dogs - THANKS, HON!"

So now I'm wandering around the yard, calling "Annnnieeee! Annnnniiiieeee!!" and Dynah's all "Doot-doo-doo" following me everywhere with tail-wagging. I'm checking the side of the house. Nuthin'. "ANNNNIIIIIEEEEEE!!!" Check the back fence... Nuthin'... Wander back to the garden... "ANNNNIIIIEEEE!!!! Where the hell ARE you?!!" Nuthin'! Look behind the greenhouse... More Nuthin'! No Annie. Not a peep. Not a sound!

Finally I turned to Dynah and asked "Where's Annie?"

Well, sumunabeech! Dynah immediately turned around and trotted happily over to the planter bed in front of the shed. There's Annie! Tucked underneath the leaves of a Cast Iron plant.

I call out to her "C'mere you little sh*t!!!" And she didn't budge!

Turns out, Annie had managed to stick her head over a long (and very strong) vine, then twisted herself around 'til she was effectively stuck! Not "hanging" or anything - but definitely in danger of strangulation! She was just waiting for someone to come and rescue her!

Nuthin' like ANSWERING ME when I'm calling your name, right?!!

Thank Gawd Dynah was there - and Dynah was SMART ENOUGH to recognize when I asked her where Annie was!



...And do you think I got even ONE OUNCE of gratitude from Her Majesty when I extricated her?!!


Rain... Followed by Sun... To be followed by Rain...

Yay! We had a halfway decent rainstorm (finally!).

But we got lucky and today was really quite pleasant. Not particularly warm, but sunny and nice. Rain is supposed to return, starting tomorrow...

Thank goodness I'd managed to move my piles o' leaves to their final resting places BEFORE the rains hit! One pile has been worked into my raised veggie bed (along with a top-dressing of bagged steer-manure), and the other is piled along the back-fence where my Pumpkin Patch will be. My hope is that Pumpkins have nice big leaves - like other squash - and that they'll fit-in with the "Tropical Vibe" since that location is highly visible! I haven't top-dressed that area with cowsh*t yet, but I will. That entire area is rock-hard clay and has had NO amendments added, no tilling, no nuthin'! So it'll be interesting to see if I can get the pumpkins to take-hold!

Anyway, I got a fair amt of prep-work done. Now I just need to wait for the stuff to break-down (and - maybe - find sufficient energy to tackle my compost piles!), and wait for the temps to get a bit warmer so I can start my Spring Garden!

Actually, I kinda/sorta already have: I bought a bunch of Organic Heirloom seeds from Tomato Fest. I went a little nuts, to be honest. I purchased 11 different varieties of tomato seeds in all shapes, sizes and colors. Whites, greens, blacks, multi-colored striped varieties - oh, and red of course! Cherry tomatoes to Monster-Sized Beefsteaks...

But the reality is: I've only got space for, maybe, 5 plants (Ooooops!). I'll pawn some seedlings off on family, friends and neighbors. And I'll probably end up tucking some 'mater plants in with some of my ornamentals! (That's the good thing about maintaining a "Jungle Vibe" - pretty-much "overgrown and out-of-control" works well!)

Worst case: If I end up with more viable seedlings than I can plant or pawn-off, I can always have a Yard Sale and maybe recoup some of my expenses! We're just around the corner from Home Depot, so a strategically-placed "Yard Sale - Veggie Seedlings" sign might work-out pretty well!

Anyway, I found my Jiffy Peat Pellets and Plastic Mini-Greenhouses. I've already planted one with seeds and it's in the bathroom windowsill. Maybe, for grins, I'll plant-up a second Mini-GH and put it in my not-so-mini greenhouse to see how it fares, in comparison. I'm guessing "Not as well" b/c the greenhouse still gets pretty chilly at night (even with the electric heater) and I don't have a seedling mat. Ehhh... It's still worth a shot, right?

I need to go through the shed and see if I still have any Goliath seeds left. That's the "Proven Performer" in my yard - so I know I have to plant at least ONE of those this year...

And I still have to fire-up my Hydroponic Garden - but I think I'll hold-off on that 'til nighttime temps are closer to the 50's (although I think we're well-past frost danger).

Yep - I'm definitely getting that Gardening Itch!

Annnnnndddddd.... Soon, we'll be pulling the yard furniture out of the shed, and setting up the Tiki Bar, and opening the pool - YEAH!!!! Okay, maybe not soon enough (and yes, we definitely need more rain!). But it's kinda nice to wander into the stores and see all the SUMMER SH*T re-appearing! Had to run into Sears today and they've got ALL their Lawn Furniture and Gazebos and Gas Grills and Whatnot prominently displayed already!

Okay, SUMMER is the ONLY season where I'm HAPPY to see the stores get a jump-start on Seasonal Sales! (Unlike seeing Christmas Crap in freaking July!!!)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Another Gorgeous Day!

But thankfully, rain is on the way...

Once I wrapped up my work-day, I was able to get out in the yard again. I managed to dump a bag of "Stinky-Poo" steer manure on my raised veggie bed and mix it in with the dead leaves I dumped the other day. Now PLEASE give us LOTS of rain so all of this will break down into a nice, fluffy humus!

I also managed to hack-down a BIG Purple Fountain Grass (well, now it's more like a Big Brown Fountain Grass!), and hauled that into the Green Bin (Compost bins are full, unfortunately - until I find the energy to turn the piles and harvest the finished stuff on the bottom!).

It's definitely slow-going ("Sux getting old!"), but it's most definitely "Progress!"

Then I sat out back, sipping a sugar-free margarita, and thoroughly enjoying the - dare I say it?! - WARM weather. It actually hit 72* today - but it was probably in the mid-60's by the time I got out there. Beats the heck out of snow!!! ;-)~~

I still have a couple-three more ornamental beds to clear out. But these are my "Wild-Jungle-Beds" so if I leave 'em natural, that's okay too!

And I do want to do some *serious* amending/mounding out by the back-gate so I'll have a place to plant my Jumbo Pumpkins. That's gonna require a trek to Home Depot, I think, b/c I don't have nearly enough compost to do the job...

In the meantime, I'll be starting some seedlings in the house - so I think things are still on-track for my summer garden.

Now, just let it rain and rain and rain!!!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Newsflash: Jimmy's Comin' (and Machete Epitaph - err Epilogue!)

WooHooo!!! Jimmy Buffett's Concert Schedule is posted here!

He's comin' to NorCal on May 19. Unfortunately, he's coming to Concord Pavilion (which is a helluva drive from here), and it's on a School Night! Not sure if Rog can make it - but even if he can't, I'll go Solo! (I *am* goin'!!!)

* * * * *
Machete Update:

I'd posted, a few days ago, about my Sportsmans Guide Machete with the "razor sharp" blade. And it's utter inability to slice through even the wimpiest plants in my yard. Cannas? Forget it! I even tried it on dead ornamental grasses - Nada!

I emailed my ePal, and her S/O's response was "Take it to a Sharpening Shop" (Well "Duhhhh!!!") (Hey - No sense bein' blonde if you can't "Act It" every once in awhile!). Of course, there's no guarantee it'll hold an edge, but it should - at least - be sharpenable...

Well, I called around and was told that it would cost $25.00 to sharpen it (and it's not even a "While-U-Wait" kinda shop). My mind is having difficulty processing the idea of paying $25.00 to sharpen a $20.00 knife!

And since I don't even OWN a Fedora (Nor do I have a 5 o'clock shadow - Thank Goodness!)... Well, I guess I'll just have to give-up on my Indiana Jones Fantasies :::sigh:::

Seems the K-Mart Hedge Clippers'll just have to do...

Heck, the majority of the plants are hacked back already, anyway.

Anybody want a dull machete for cheap???

Sunday, February 1, 2009

More Super-Blow Sunday Action!

Well, I'm checking out Twitter... And based on the Tweets I've seen, it seems I'm not missing much by NOT watching the Game!

I had a sudden, brief, burst of energy and ran out to the backyard at dusk. Used a shovel to scrape-up a wheelbarrow-full of dead leaves. I found some *nice* leaf mold underneath! (I don't get out much!!!)

I just dumped it into the raised bed - I'll add Steer Manure and Compost, tomorrow.

Now if we can just get some good rainstorms, I bet it'll do a LOVELY job of improving my veggie bed...

Organic = Good. Free = Even better!!!

Okay, now I'm gonna have a margarita and watch some Paul James re-runs!

SuperGarden Sunday!!!

I'm not much of a football fan... Yeah, back in the 80's when the Niners were doing well (Joe Montana/Jerry Rice days), I *kinda* got into it - but "It was the Law!"

Now I can take-it-or-leave-it. In fact, in years past, we'd always manage to go to the Boat Show on Super-Sunday. The place was like a mausoleum and we had no difficulty getting salesmen to talk to us, at least!!!

Anyway, I decided to putter around the yard today. And, if it turned out I needed to buy more materials, TODAY would be the day to hit Home Depot, right?!!

* * * * *
So I started out by having a simply delicious lunch of Beef Tongue Sammich!!!
After it set in the fridge overnight, it was a lot easier to handle. And Santa-Rog bought me a Rival Deli-Slicer for Christmas! I sliced the meat Ultra-Super-Duper Thin, salted it a bit (In retrospect, I probably should've salted the water yesterday b/c the bouillon really wasn't sufficient! - "Oh, well!").

I grabbed A slice of white-bread (Can't do carbs, remember?) and smeared a teeny bit of Miracle Whip on it, then piled on the meat! Folded it over and... DAAAAAAMMMNNNN!!! That's Good Stuff! Kind of a Super-Meaty Mini-Sandwich!

It was definitely as good as I remembered it! Flavor-wise, I guess the closest thing I could compare it to would be Liverwurst (only "different" - and MUCH Better!). But it's more about the texture - Think super-tender, almost "creamy" textured filet mignon! You practically don't even have to chew it!

Yep - That's definitely some GOOD Stuff!

Now I'm debating whether to slice the whole thing or not. The thing about having the deli-slicer is: Meats are *much* better when they're freshly sliced. But disassembling and cleaning the thing is kind of a PITA.

But the biggest factor, actually, is the fact that - well - Beef Tongue LOOKS like Beef Tongue! It's rather off-putting when you open the fridge and see a big ol' cow tongue in a baggie!

"Okay, ENOUGH about the Cow-Tongue already!!!"

* * * * *
Soooooo... I had a lengthy laundry-list of Things To Do, today. Of course, I also knew there was no way in hell I was gonna get 'em all done!
First off, I wanted to start amending the soil in my raised veggie bed - so I pulled some dead plants out of several pots, and dumped the dirt into the bed. I also plan to scoop up some leaves from along the "wind-tunnel" (side of the house where ALL the neighborhood tree-leaves end up!) I want to dump them into the raised bed, then toss a bag of steer manure on top of that. Annnnnnd I need to turn my compost pile - any "good" compost will also be added to the bed. Then let it "rest" for a few weeks so the fresh stuff'll start to break down and fortify the soil...

Well, pretty much, I only managed to dump a few pots of dirt - and I still have the rest of the chores to tackle, yet!!!

Actually, higher on the list of priorities: I recently purchased a "Mystery" mix of Plumeria Cuttings off of eBay. They've been sitting, in a box, on the floor by my desk, for the past week and they REALLY need to get plunked into pots - otherwise they'll NEVER grow! I figure, there's about 20 of 'em and I want to start them in one-gallon pots. I ransacked the yard and found half-a-dozen or so pots, but didn't have nearly enough.

I also had about 20 1-gallon pots of Stella D'Oro Daylilies (Home Depot had 'em on special for *very* cheap last fall!). They never got planted - and the lilies died, right? (I kinda forgot to water 'em - Oooops!) In the meantime, I've ordered NEW S-D Daylily bulbs and figured I'll plant THEM instead (when they arrive). Planting bulbs is a whole helluva lot easier than trying to dig gallon-sized holes in our cement-hard clay soil!

So I figured I'd pull-out the dead stuff and re-use the pots AND dirt to pot-up some of the cuttings. I dragged the wheelbarrow to the back fence and started yanking the dead plants out of the pots. But when I dug a little deeper... Green shoots??? Holy sh*t! They're still alive!!! (I honestly don't believe it! I abused the HELL out of those poor plants!). I checked another... And another... And another... They're all gonna come back!

Obviously that's a VERY good choice of plant for that part of the yard (far back fence, that gets almost NO attention! And very little water!). And with the new bulbs on order - well, I'm gonna have Stella D'Oro Daylilies coming out of my ears!!!

But now I'm faced with a dilemma: I have more plants-to-plant than pots-to-plant-em-in! Of course, logic would dictate that, maybe, I could dig some holes and actually PLANT the lilies (Ha!). Unfortunately, we've not had enough rain lately and I'd need a friggin' jackhammer (or three Eager Weenie Dogs!) to penetrate the soil back there. So they're just gonna have to wait 'til we get a good rainstorm - THEN I'll plant 'em!

I figured I'd just pot up as many Plumies as I could, using whatever I could find. I have several bags of potting mix (originally intended for my new Self-Contained planters - but that can wait!). So I used that to pot-up most of the cuttings. I did "get smart" and moved the pots into the greenhouse BEFORE I watered 'em! Then I planted the cuttings, dragged the hose out to the GH and gave 'em a good drink of water. Fingers are crossed that they'll take root!

(Oooh! And while I was in the greenhouse, I harvested 4 tomatoes! Yes! FRESH TOMATOES in FEBRUARY! "Nah-nee-nah-nee-Nah-Nah!!!" I found some cold-hardy varieties late last year, and I've kept 'em in the greenhouse. Not exactly the tastiest 'maters in the world, but still!!!)

I also found a large pot full of soil (one of last year's tomato experiments). I planted 4 cuttings in that, and moved it into the house, by the back door (I'm out of space in the greenhouse - at least for large pots). Now I've got appx 5 cuttings left - but no place to put 'em. :::sigh:::

I may clean-out another large pot (or two) tomorrow and plant 'em in there. Unfortunately, I have no space in the GH, nor in the house, so they'll have to "fend for themselves" - though I might put some row-cover material over them to protect 'em from the 30* temps we're still getting at night...

Honestly, if all 20 Plumies survive, I'll ultimately have a problem on my hands because they really aren't hardy enough for our climate. And the Plumerias I've already got are getting too big to fit through the greenhouse door!


* * * * *
Anyhooooo... While I didn't accomplish "as much" as I might've liked, I feel like I did get a fair amount of work done in the yard. At least it's getting to the point where I can see "What HAS been done," rather than fret 100% about "What NEEDS to be done!"

It's getting there.............

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