Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Boosters, Flowers, and Axle Traps

Today was the second bivalent Covid booster.  After I got it, I looked up how it went last time and sort of wished I hadn't.  Too late now!  Jim and I both are feeling pretty whooped three hours after the fact.  Tomorrow could be bad.  So, this is me, writing it down, so I'll remember in the future.

Wednesday update:  My arm actually hurts more than it did from the Shingrex.  Raising my arm up straight and then over my head is not great.  We're both feeling a little sluggish today.

Friday update:  My arm is fairly tender, with a good sized red streak.  I don't have any swollen lymph nodes like last time.  So, this round has been easier to tolerate.

Here are flowers in the front yard. The fried egg peony has opened up a bunch of blossoms.

The burgundy peony is only putting out two blossoms this year.  Last year was better.  This is a phone macro shot of it, that's kind of cool.

We spent this morning looking for parts to make a bike rack to go in the trailer for transport to Tucson.  Talk about your basic time suck.  We ordered two Saris axle traps from REI that were on sale, but they're going back.  They're a very sub-optimal design.  The problem is that you have to hold the forks up in line with the holes in the axle trap while simultaneously threading the through-axle through the holes and the fork while crouching down in a 5x8 trailer.  The advantage to this style, is that it will fit four different axle sizes.  However, I don't intend to acquire that many more bikes in what time I have left on this planet.

This is better, and more expensive.  Unaka makes stuff for outfitting your van to carry bicycles.  Their design allows you to pull out the through axle, drop the wheel, and immediately replace the through axle.  Then you carry the bike to the rack, open the axle holder, put in the axle, and close it up.  It's better, trust me on this.  The copper colored part is where the axle sits, the gray and black things are spacers that go inside to allow you to carry 12mm, 15mm, and 20mm diameter axles.  You can read about it here, should the need arise.

I have to say, as I have said before, things were simpler with rim brakes and quick release skewers.

Other than this, I have not too much to say.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Cartoons and Photos

Greetings Fellow Humans.  It's the first day of the three day weekend.  We celebrated by applying the hedge trimmer to the Barberry.  It's a great hulking plant that has to be cut back at least once a year.  Left to my own devices, I would put a chain around the trunk and pull it out, but Jim likes it.  This year we took more off than usual, it's shading the grass and the grass dies.  So, that was fun.

Not much is happening here, other than watching the republicans be complete and total ass-hats.  This came from twitter, and it speaks volumes.

WAPO put this up a day or so ago.

Ok, I'm done now.

Things are blooming here.  The bike lane we ride out to the lake is covered in pine pollen, my tires are yellow.  Jim and I are suffering from post nasal drip and burning itching eyes like never before.  Target sells an inexpensive generic anti-histamine eye drop which is helping - it's a store brand.  It's usually not this bad, but we are surrounded by pine trees. 

Here is a purple plant that lives along the bike path.  I'm guessing Lupine?

This is the rhody we just put in the ground.  He's a prolific bloomer, and is putting out new growth.  It would be nice if it would have a long a prosperous life.  Now that the maple is gone, the rhody next to him is also putting out new growth, which it didn't do before.  No one misses that tree.

I took this last night after the thunderstorm.  The thunder was amazing, with each boom, the glasses were rattling in the cabinet.  Not too much lightning, and it didn't rain all that much, but the thunder was good.

My fried egg peony is blooming.

These poppies live next door.  They are so vivid the camera has difficulty seeing them.

Thus far we have three tiny tomatoes.  They're very small, very green.  I'll be surprised if we eat any of them.  This is not really tomato country. 

The people across the cul de sac have the most amazing peonies.  They're large and they last a long time.

Our local rabbit, eating grass.  We haven't seen the baby rabbit we fished out of the window wells.  We wonder if the local owl ate him.

The last few days we've seen three or so vultures circling across the street.  We wonder what they're looking at. 

Currently, Jim is spatch cocking a chicken, which, when cooked on the grill will look like this. It has become his signature dish, requiring no effort on my part.

Other than this paltry offering, I have zippity doo-dah all to say.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

USPS and the Taxes, Smoke Alarm Batteries

This post is so I remember stuff and can find the dates later.  

May 22 our 2022 tax return made it to the IRS in Cincinnati, after 38 days, and four round trips between Spokane and Cincinnati.

Apparently an incorrectly placed bar code sticker was triggering Cincinnati to mail the envelope back to Spokane.  I guess someone in in Cincinnati saw it and took the bar code off the envelope so it could continue on its way.  That saga is over - finally.

We changed the smoke alarm batteries yesterday and today.

Here's a lovely photo of a recent evening sky.

That's it!  That's all I've got.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Garage Improvement, the Garden, and a Site Reaction

No rabbits in the window wells today, maybe learning has occurred and the bunny will stop falling in.  Perhaps the threat of being bundled up in a towel has had an effect.

So, yesterday we spent all day in the garage installing vinyl baseboard.  It was so much worse that I thought it would be.  I had intended to post about it last night, but I was too tired to write that much.  Vinyl baseboard is a flexible product that is glued to the wall and the floor of the room in question.  We had it in the house in Tucson, and it looked pretty good.  Now that I've installed it, I wonder if you could ever remove it without taking the wall board with it.

Here is Jim smearing adhesive on the back.  Note that he is kneeling.  We don't have a work bench, so work is generally done on the garage floor.  Adhesive is applied, and then smeared with a notched smearing tool and then stuck on the wall, and mushed down with a roller.  The trick is to not get so much glue near the edges so that the glue mushes out.  We did do that some, and were happy to learn that it dries clear.

There was a lot of getting down on the floor, standing up, and then getting back down on the floor.  This is what it used to look like.

Now it is much prettier. 

The garage has been bugging Jim since we got here, now he can take this off the list.

My cell phone camera has a macro setting.  It sort of works.  This is our first tomato.  It's actually very tiny.

A lady bug on a peony blossom.  At the top of the frame, you can see the fluid it's oozing.

Close ups of the new rhody which is blooming.

Today we rode the bikes to the lake.  It was our fastest time yet, despite the lingering fatigue from yesterday because thunder storms and hail were in the forecast.  We did not dawdle, hail on a bike is bad.  We saw this on the road leading to the trailhead.  It's a boat whose trailer detached from the tow vehicle.  The trailer and boat went into a ditch, and the boat has slid forward and is no longer attached to the trailer.  That will be difficult to recover.

Yesterday I was bemoaning my lack of response to the Shingrex vaccine we got on Friday.  Finally, today, there is some movement on that front.  I have a site reaction.  So, I think that's good.

Other than the usual depredations of the republican party and their attempts to hold President Biden hostage to their insane budget cut demands in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, or travel advisories being issued for Black and LGBPTQ people against going to Florida, or the Border Patrol shooting at an Arizona tribal elder 38 times in his yard after he called them for help removing some migrants from his property and killing him, or any of the other daily atrocities in the country, I have nothing much to say.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

More Rabbit and No Response

The rabbit is back in the window well.  I guess this will be a daily occurrence.  He was moving fast this morning when I was throwing the towel over him.  When he's trapped under the towel, I push it around him until he's restrained.  Then it was back to under the big trees.  We saw him on the edge of the grass eating later, so he's still alive.

We're pretty sure it's the same rabbit, with an inability to learn.  Note the black spot on the top of his head.  Or it could be a coincidence.

Here is a photo of a maple that has been viciously and incorrectly pruned by the previous owners.  We try not to prune anything so it has enough leaves on it to stay alive.  It does look more sparse this year than last.

Thus far, Shingrex is a non-event for me.  Jim is slightly more affected, but not much.  I suffered more with the Pneumovax and Prevnar 13.  I asked the pharmacist yesterday, and she said if you had those two, you don't need the Prevnar 23 that is currently being advertised on US television.

So, either I have lucked out, or this has happened to me as a result of having Covid, and I am unable to mount an immune response.  There's really no way to find out, or do anything about it, so we are where we are.

It's going to be 91F (32.8C) today.  91!

Friday, May 19, 2023

Rabbits and Vaccines

We have rabbits living in the yard.  There is one adult that lives under the giant trees, and likes to sit in the yard and eat grass.  I walked by him yesterday, froze, and did a side step to move away from him.  He didn't bolt, just sat there and looked at me.  Really, he's too comfortable being out in the open.  Anyway, we were down stairs yesterday and I raised a pleated shade to let light in to the room.  There, in the window well, was a baby rabbit looking at us.  Window wells provide emergency egress from rooms that are below grade.  It's a common building style in Spokane, along with concrete curbing in peoples' yards.  Ours are about four feet deep.  No way was the baby rabbit getting out.  We went out, threw a towel over him and scooped him up.  This morning, on a whim, I went down stairs to check the window wells.

He's adorable.  We don't know if it's the same rabbit as yesterday, or if there are multiple bunnies falling in the window wells.  This time we moved him farther away.  However, I saw a baby creeping around the foundation of the house this afternoon.  It's my theory that they creep along and then fall in the window well.  This may be an on going thing.  Next it will be he baby quail needing to be rescued.

Here is the new rhodie we planted.  He arrived with buds, and they've opened.  It would have been nice if he'd bloom with the other rhodies, but no.

Morning sun on the new red twig dogwood and a large decorative boulder.

 From this NYT article, we learn the following about Senator Feinstein.

Ms. Feinstein’s frail appearance was a result of several complications after she was hospitalized for shingles in February, some of which she has not publicly disclosed. The shingles spread to her face and neck, causing vision and balance impairments and facial paralysis known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome. The virus also brought on a previously unreported case of encephalitis, a rare but potentially debilitating complication of shingles that a spokesman confirmed on Thursday after The New York Times first revealed it, saying that the condition had “resolved itself” in March.

Characterized by swelling of the brain, post-shingles encephalitis can leave patients with lasting memory or language problems, sleep disorders, bouts of confusion, mood disorders, headaches and difficulties walking. Older patients tend to have the most trouble recovering. And even before this latest illness, Ms. Feinstein had already suffered substantial memory issues that had raised questions about her mental capacity.

Admittedly I am not yet 89, but the thought of Ramsay-Hunt or encephalitis were enough to finally get me to go get the Shingrex vaccine.  I had the original shingles vaccine years ago, and suffered a pretty good site reaction for about a week, and so was not interested in a vaccine that was known for significant side effects.  However, I was now motivated.  It's three hours in, and thus far nothing terrible has happened.  Apparently tomorrow will be the no good, terrible day. 

It's warm here, and humid.  We have an air quality alert due to smoke from the fires in Alberta.  Maybe it will rain and knock it down; between the pollen and the smoke my eyes are suffering.

Other than this, I have zippity doo-dah to say.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The Republicans, the Yard, and Random Photos

It's been awhile!  I have intended to write about the latest depredations of the republican party and DeSantis (governor of Florida), but then I'm over taken by events with the latest stump stupid and venal thing they've done.  For instance, this is what Keven McCarthy (Speaker of the US House, third in line of presidential succession) said.

He did actually say that, there's video of him doing it.  So, I guess all of we senior citizens are going to have to get back in harness and find jobs.  Time and time again it has been shown that work requirements for food stamps (SNAP) and Medicaid do nothing except increase peoples' levels of misery and hunger.  Many people are on Medicaid because they can't work due to disability.  It's just a totally stupid thing to say.

Ron DeSantis said in a press conference, "With my signature, Florida permanently prohibits genital mutilating surgical procedures and experimental puberty blockers for minors. Minors given these procedures without their consent will now be able to recover damages for permanent injury or death caused by these medical experiments."  Did he just ban circumcision?  Inquiring minds want to know.

We're been doing more work in the yard.  Yesterday we were out cutting off pieces of the dead Arborvitae.  It was a massive pain in the butt.  Our neighbor with a chain saw came over and cut it off at the ground.  Then he cut the big pieces in to small pieces.  We were able to get most of the tree in the yard waste can, which was picked up today.

I do not know why so many of these trees have died in the yard.  We feed them, we water them, and they die.  We put that red twig dog wood and another one in last Tuesday.  Those will be the last two holes I ever dig in this yard.  There are stumps and roots from five dead trees out there, and it's just impossible to plant back there.  It these die, I'm petitioning the HOA for permission to put in a screen to impede my view of the neighbor's yard.

That's a Hemlock that was being leaned on by the dead tree.  The maple behind it is leaning on the other side.  That tree needs some serious trimming, but it's too tall and I'm not going up a 12 foot ladder to do it.

I know you are all dying to know that status of our tax return.  It came back to Spokane, and is now winging its way back to Cincinnati.  Allegedly the guy at the post office sent out a notification to be on the lookout for an envelope with many barcodes (from each trip there and then back here) and remove them and process it manually.  This will require an actual human to be alert enough to notice.  Monday we spent 90 minutes on the phone trying to talk to someone at the IRS.  We did get through to a person, but she put us on a "five minute" hold, and 30 minutes later that call transferred to the automated "where is my refund" menu pick.  So that was a complete and total waste of time. 

The round trips do seem to be picking up speed.

Here are some random photos.  This is growing on all of the pine trees on the road to the lake.

A dandelion.

This is a Bull Snake we saw on the road today.  He's a good sized snake.

Here we have a flowering Quince behind the camp host's site at the lake.  It's a pretty bush growing there without anyone feeding or watering it.

Other than this, I have not much else to say.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Plants, PO Update, and Law

Holy cats I am tired.  Sunday we planted a rhododendron to replace the Japanese Maple we took out.  Its location was dictated by the proximity of the stump and a giant root in the ground, and a sprinkler line.  It was a total PITA, because of limited space.  I would have liked to dig the hole bigger, but we were limited.  Hopefully the rhody will live long and prosper there.  The rhody in the back has had the maple growing into him for years, so he'll probably enjoy the increased light and air.

The elderberries we planted last year did not do well this past winter.  About half of the plants were frozen dead, and they looked sad.  They have been replaced with Red Twig Elegantissima dogwoods.  According to their hang tags, they're hardy to -40F, so a winter like last year should be less damaging.  We took out existing shrubs, putting new ones in shouldn't be too awful, right?  HAH HAH DOUBLE HAH HAH HAH.  While enlarging the hole for dogwood #1, the first thing I did was to pull an emitter out of the sprinkler supply line.  Who knew there was another supply line buried that deep?  Now we know.  Jim got it plugged, and we avoided further trauma to the irrigation system. 

Hole number two revealed that there is much wood remaining from a giant pine tree that was cut down when they built this house.  Today I learned how to effectively swing a pick axe.  Jim and I spent awhile chopping at the roots with a shovel and pick axing to clear enough space to get the dogwood in.  Hopefully his roots will be able to wend their way around the buried remains of the pine tree to find sustenance.  He'll grow up to be seven feet tall.  As he over powers the arborvitae that's in front of him, we'll cut that down.  The deer just did a number on them this winter.

Look!  We have a flower on the tomato.  Maybe there will be a tomato some day.

Here is the tax return saga update.  The original saga is in the post below.

May 1 the envelope returned to Spokane from Cincinnati for the second time.  May 7 the envelope departed the Spokane USPS Regional Origin Facility.  May 8 the envelope arrived at the Spokane USPS facility.  It's still there.  The lady at the post office assured me that it will eventually be delivered to the IRS.  Since it has already made two round trips between here and the Cincinnati PO, I'm not clear on what will be different this time.  She blamed it on "the machine."

Today was a big day in legal land.  The orange dumpster fire was not found guilty of rape.  Apparently E. Jean Carroll had told the jury she could not tell if she'd been penetrated, or not.  He is guilty of sexual abuse and she was injured.  $2M damages for that.  He did defame her, he lied, and he made the statement with malice and she was injured.  $1M damages for that.  Reputational repair - damages $1.7M.  He acted maliciously - $280,000 damages.

DOJ has indicted George Santos.  Thus far, the charges have not been made public, but it's good that he's under indictment.  He needs to be out of congress.

Other than this, I have nothing intelligent to offer.  Too tired.

Ok, one more thing.  The New York Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch.  He hasn't bailed on the orange dumpster fire, but does enjoy taking shots at him.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Post Office, Landscaping and the Coronation

I have major agita.  On April 14, see bottom of the left most tracking info, we dropped off our tax return at the Post Office.  Thank all the gods and goddesses that we sent it with certified delivery.  As of yesterday, it still has not arrived at the IRS.  It went to Cincinnati, then back to Spokane, then back to Cincinnati, then back to Spokane.  The envelope was last seen leaving Spokane on May 4.  What's so concerning is that I don't know if any of this is true, is the entire thing lost?  If it finally does arrive, will they look at the post mark and see that it was mailed on the 14th of April?  What?  This may be enough to get me to e-file, even though I do not trust their 40 year old technology.  Monday I guess we will go back to the PO and ask them to explain this to us.

Thursday the weather changed.  It's cold, it rained.  Today it's dry so far, but it's cold and damp.  No one can generate any enthusiasm for planting the rhody we bought to fill in some of the space left by the Japanese maple we took out.  It had to go, it was a hazard to one's eyesight hanging over the path with its tiny little branches.

Anyway, Tuesday we prepped the crock pot for pot roast.  Jim seared the chuck steak, and I peeled things.  Earlier, I had decided to make stock so I could get the chicken carcasses out of the freezer.  This was the first big batch of stock in years.  I completely overestimated how much water would be needed and how big of a vessel I would need to receive the stock after straining.  There were spills, multiple containers and we messed up everything in the kitchen.  Here is said stock.  

I have new cheese cloth and it's a definite improvement over that loosely woven stuff you buy in the grocery store.  It's from Amazon.  The package comes with six big cloths, they're washable, they're hemmed and re-usable.  It's a simple thing, but it works so much better.

I washed it by hand, and then in the washing machine, and it is, in fact, reusable.  Given my rate of stock production, this will probably be a life time supply.

There is landscaping going on in the neighborhood.  The neighbor who had the giant trees removed, and the stumps ground down has received a load of rock to put on the area. They've hired someone to spread it, which is good.  We're too old for this.  When we lived in Issaquah, we took delivery of 27,000 pounds of rock to spread across a side yard.  It was too much to weed, so we poisoned it and covered it in rocks.  That was a lot of rock, but we were much younger then.

Another neighbor has vigorously pruned the shrubs that line the driveway.  One wonders if they will make a come back.

I see that King Charles III was coronated today, and Camilla got to be queen.  The monarchy seems to have lost its luster with the passing of Queen Elizabeth.  Charles has a tough act to follow.  Harry was there, in a suit.  His pervert uncle, Prince Andrew, was there wearing royal robes of some sort.   That doesn't seem equitable to me.  The entire ceremony just doesn't seem like a good use of tax payer dollars.  

Other than that, we're waiting or the weather to improve a little, maybe Monday.