Monday, January 14, 2019

Happy New Year
January gives me a sigh of relief. The two months of busy holiday season is finally over. Don't get me wrong I love Thanksgiving and Christmas but I'm always kind of glad to see it over and life gets a bit of a rest before gardening starts up. 

This is going to be a year of finishing projects that are half done. It seems that I get excited about a project and loose interest about half way through the project. So, I've made my New Year plans to be a year of finishing it or as a famous Nebraskan comedian says, "Get ur done." The list is longer than the year so it will be a busy year for sure.
One of the best parts of the season is the beginning of the barrage of seed catalogs.
It's always comforting to settle back into a cozy chair with a hot cup of tea and a seed catalog to just browse the pages while the cold Winter weather rages on outside. I have a plan settled in my mind but it's never cast in stone until the seeds or plants are in the ground. I can plan all I want on paper or with digital garden planners but some times when in the garden, it just doesn't feel right and the plan gets changed.

The weather here has been quite warm for the first week of January. I actually went out to Terra Nova Gardens to cover up some garden beds with tarps to keep the Spring weeds under control. The temperature was a mild 54 degrees and the ground was muddy. Now the forecast is for a Winter storm to hit will up to three inches of snow starting with rain and then freezing rain and then snow. The worst scenario ever. Oh, well, I'm in for the weekend and will most likely stay in if the weather is bad. It might be a good time to just hunker down and make a big pot of chili.
I've been diligently working on replacing the kitchen floor. Way back in March I started working on this project due to a refrigerator that failed while I was away for a few days to a wedding in Texas. It ruined the floor under the fridge and so it just looked dumb having a nice new floor around the fridge with the rest of the kitchen and dining room with a dull 50 year old floor. So, yeah, it's kind of funny how things work that way for me. All I wanted was to fix the floor under the fridge and it turned into a full fledged floor replacement. This floor is just cheap peel and stick tiles. Most people with crinkle up their nose at such a task and complain that they know a person that knows a person that tried that and it didn't work. Well, if they just tried to stick the titles on top of an old dingy floor that's been walked on for 50 years then I would say that it was doomed to be a disaster. I have glued and screwed down a very thin subfloor over the old floor to get a very smooth and clean surface for the titles to stick. Once my tiles are down they won't be moving or peeling up. When the floor is done a coat of sealer will be applied to keep the cracks from filling up with crud. I'm getting down to where I can see the end of the floor project which is good. 

When the kitchen/dining room floor is done, I can start on the living room design. It's a bit unorthodox but I'm going to make it into a eating area. I have a large oval table with chairs. I have plans to start having Sunday dinners for family, friends, and neighbors. Now that I have my house to myself, I can make some of those plans that have been put on the shelf happen.
One of the task that had to be accomplished was to move this China hutch from the dining room to the living room. I has a lot of dishes and nick knacks displayed in the hutch. I devised a way to move the cabinet without removing any thing inside the hutch. It was a successful move without a single thing that moved for broke. Even more amazing is the that this hutch is a two piece hutch. The top is not attached to the bottom. I was a bit concerned about that but it moved really well with the strap around the top and bottom.

I'm hoping to get started on seed starting area renovation soon. I have a lot of plans floating around in my brain. I'm working on one design that will be able to be assembled in stages as the season ramps up. That will most likely be the one that I'll go with.

Well, lots to do and little time to do it. I hope all your plans for the new year will all be accomplished with great success.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Nebraska Dave

Friday, September 14, 2018

Removing the Jungle
Every year I have good intentions to keep my side yard clean and tidy. Every year about this time it has become a jungle that is difficult to walk through. So armed with a branch lopper, mattock, ax, and a sawsall, the work begins.
I am convinced that some alien rock fell from the sky and planted a totally vicious seed that is determined to take over the world. 
After some effort the tangled mass has been removed and once again some semblance of order has been restored in the side yard. There's still much to do in the side and back yard.

I have indeed found the source of all this and will be attempting to remove and kill the root.
As you can see it's still alive and well. I am determined to eradicate the evil plant. It has become a challenge between plant and man. 

Inside the house a new project begins. I have lots and lots of books. Several categories have struck my passion over the years. There are countless bibles and biblical books pertaining to prayer and other such subjects.  Then there's the technical books on car repair and computer programing (Which I never learned). Those were all recycled because programing from 20 years ago just isn't relevant in today's world. My passion the last few years has be gardening so now that's what fills the shelves today. I've become an advocate of digital books because they are easier to store and don't take up real space. However, digital takes electricity to see and read them. 
It's a start and will be expanded over time as I sort out the books to keep, the books to recycle, and the books to give away.
No this is not a rotated picture. It's me under a porch tacking up some insulation that had fallen down. Periodically I help do small repairs or building projects on a hundred year old ministry headquarters house for a non profit organization. It has been ongoing for over 10 years. I'm mostly the gopher (I go for this and go for that) and my partner in crime is really the project manager. 
The insulation was under this porch and just a slight distraction from the real project which was to build and install this under pen lattice work. It turned out real nice. Any time a work day happens, good fellowship, good food, and a good time is had by all. Turns out there were just two of us but we still had a great time. I really love volunteering but I just don't have much time to do it any more. It's kind of weird how a retired schedule fills up.

Summer is really starting to wind down and it's starting to feel like Fall. It's a good time to put away the cookbook on Barbecuing and crack out the cookbook on making soup. Each season has it's special food. Happy Fall to all.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Not much gardening
Mission trip to Vidor Texas
I was given the opportunity to go on another disaster trip. This time it was to a place called Vidor, Texas. It was on a rebuild team to re wire a church that had been flooded in the hurricane last September. Hurricane news lasts a week or two but the recovering from the devastation of a hurricane goes on for years. Some times the people that have homes damaged never recover simply because that don't have the money to repair or rebuild. Many either don't have flood insurance or can't get flood insurance because of living in a flood plane.

My journey started at 3 p.m. on Saturday July 14th.  It's a five hour journey to Pittsburg Kansas where my part of the team assembles to start the trip to Vidor, Texas.  As the sun sets on day one of the trip, a gorgeous sky lifts my spirit and gives me excitement for the journey ahead. This night for me will be spent with the team leader in his spare bedroom at his apartment.  Reveille was at 2 a.m. and the next day begins. Our part of team was two vehicles and five men strong.  After assembling in the parking lot and stowing our luggage and personal tools away in the trailer, we set out across the dark plains of Kansas Texas bound. This is my third trip to Vidor Texas. The last one was in 2009 to work on a church in Orange Texas. This leg of the trip is 12 hours long .... or should be. 

With great anticipation and more excitement the team assembles and we pull out of the parking lot at 4 a.m.  The long day of driving begins.

We were pulling a material trailer that had all the entry service panels, wire, switches, outlets, and boxes for all. Out first flat tire happened about 10 a.m. Not to be daunted we replaced the flat with gusto and continued our trek across the land of Oklahoma. 

About two hours later the front tire on this side blew. Faced with no spare, road service had to be called and a two hour delay in our time line happened. The leader of the group had road service replace both tires which then gave us a spare tire again. All went well for the rest of the day until we reached about 15 miles away from our destination. The two trailer tires on the other side blew at the same time. Another two hours to have road service replace the tires and finally the journey was over at midnight. The long grueling 18 hour journey had ended. The tire issues were attributed to seven year old weather checked tires that should have been replaced before the journey began.

This team was about 23 strong when all had arrived and worked on many things. A carpenter group changed wall locations and door openings for better use of the rooms of the building.  The challenge for me and my partner was a little different than the rest of the team. It was to tear out the old service panels and install the new ones.

The first order of business is to remove all these old panels and save the meter. Rusted door hinges, screws, and bolts are a real challenge to remove. The temperature began to rise and by noon the heat index was 105. The heat index was over 105 every day as my partner and I worked outside in the bright Texas sun. I came back with a crispy tan. Breaks were taken every hour and a half with a constant supply of water and Gatorade. By day's end every piece of clothing worn was soaked through and through with perspiration. Showers, ice tea, and evening meal (called supper in Kansas) was a welcome sight.

Then the dominoes were brought out and Mexican train was played until the 9 p.m. hour came and all trundled off to bed because tomorrow starts at 5:30 a.m.

The next task on the list was to remove the bars off this window and remove the window. The new service panels went over the window. It was a 400 amp service that was going in so more panels were needed than were removed.  So now I know if I ever need to break out of jail all I need is a cordless sawsall.  The window area was boxed in and a 3/4 sheet of external plywood covered the opening. A bead of caulking around the windows and the building was ready to have the panels mounted.

The layout of the new panels is an important part of the assembly of the service panels. The channel iron at the bottom of the picture is what the panels are attached. The channel iron is anchored to the outside of the building by using a hammer drill and drilling through the brick wall. Then bolts are used to secure the iron to the building. The group that I work with has very high standards and require the electrical panels to not only be functional but also look good and professional. So those channels have to be perfectly level. I mean perfect. Not close or close enough but perfectly level. It fits the way I like to do things.

The service panels are all anchored down and ready to be wired on the next trip.  I used to go on almost every trip but now that home responsibilities dominate my schedule, I can't get away that often. Once or twice a year is all that I can get done.  So I'll have to say goodbye to this project and may not be able to see the finished product.  But that's kind of how it is with these trips.
The trip home was uneventful and I arrived home about 9 p.m. Saturday night, tired, happy, and with a big bag of stinky clothes to wash.  Sunday was wash, dry, fold, and put away clothes day. Another successful trip has ended. I estimate it would be around trip number 31 over the last 15 years. 

Until the next time may all your tires stay filled with air and may all your projects be completed without problems.

Nebraska Dave

Sunday, July 1, 2018

July already?
Oh, my goodness has it really been almost three months since the last post.  I have lost track of not just days or weeks but it seems like entire months. Since my last post, I've been to Las Vegas for my grand daughter's graduation, worked on kitchen floor replacement, tried to plant garden, went to cousins gathering, was a pall bearer at a funeral, built a cover for the back of my truck, went to an Oak Ridge Boys concert, and have been working on a patio bucket gutter garden.

The weather has been quite extreme this year. It started with a cold and late Spring which turn hot. Two 100 degree days in May are kind of rare for Nebraska. Since then, the weather has either been hot (90+) or raining. Gardening for this year has practically been a total loss. Weeds have taken over Terra Nova Gardens and only potatoes, cabbage, sweet corn, and three lonely volunteer cherry tomatoes reside there.  My main task at Terra Nova Gardens is to save the sweet corn by getting the electric fence functional before the raccoons decide to destroy it. They aren't the brightest animal in nature's kingdom. Even before the ears start to form on the stalk, they will come in and decimate the crop. There's absolutely no value for them in that.  If they would wait for the ears to form at least there would some thing for them to eat but they don't. In their greed they destroy the very thing they could have later.  The interesting thing is that my neighbor where I live has an area at Terra Nova Gardens where he plants popcorn which is never bothered by raccoons. It just doesn't smell right, I guess.

Those alien vines and scrub Mulberry trees are making a play to take over the side yard again. It looks like a Brazilian jungle. I will have to spend some time cleaning that mess up once again. It seems to be a yearly task. There's no lack of things to do around the Urban Ranch or Terra Nova Gardens.

I did get a watering system set up for the Urban Ranch tomatoes. It's about the fifth generation of gravity feed watering for the raised beds in the back yard.  It's the simplest, easiest to build, and cheapest to afford yet. The bucket gutter garden has been moved to the patio and will be fed strictly by gravity without even having a timer. There's too much activity going on to put into one post so I'll have to post more often and reveal details in a timely manner. 

I just wanted to get a post out and let you know that I'm still alive and kicking.

Have a great 4th of July and stay safe. 

Nebraska Dave

Monday, April 16, 2018

Spring has arrived?
Yeah, if it has, I haven't found it. The weather continues to bring freezing rain, wind, and snow. The soil temperatures are still hovering around 35 to 40 degrees. Air temperatures are a full 20 degrees below the average for this year. I expect we are due for one of the years where we will go straight into summer temperatures without a Spring. My seedlings have had to stay down in the basement bunker under the grow lights. I haven't been able to even get them outside for some fresh air because the temperatures have been so cold. I probably could get the potatoes and onions planted but why throw them out into the cold. Yes, they probably would survive but it wouldn't get to harvest any sooner than waiting. I do hope this weather cycle breaks soon.

Even the hardiest of flowers are struggling for survival this year. The normally perky Daffodils are having a hard time keeping their heads up and the hyacinth has a little freezer burn on the tips of their blooms. The tulips seem to have caught on to nature's prank and kept their buds protected.  It's been a rough Spring for those normally beautiful flowers but still they are trying their best to put on a show. I have to admit that they don't give up too easily. 

In the mean time I've been working on a kitchen project. It was inspired by a refrigerator failure that ruined the floor under it. 
It was an ugly mess that looked like it had been destined to failure for a long time. Well, the refrigerator was 23 years old so I guess I can't complain and the kitchen floor was the original 1965 floor so it need to be refreshed.
After a couple weeks of working on the floor around other domestic responsibilities, I'm down to getting the cabinet kick board painted and installed. This floor will continue on into the dining room but might take a bit longer due to .... gardening season .... well, if it ever happens. So, yeah, new refrigerator, new kitchen floor, life goes on.

I wish a great day to one all and I'll catch you on the next post.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Wow, March already?
Where does the time go? Not much happened over the Winter and old Jack Frost is hanging on tightly to the chilly mornings. We hopefully had our last wet snow of the season but it just doesn't feel like Spring has truly arrived yet. This time last year I was full force preparing for Spring planting but this year, the weather has been so crummy that I haven't been to the garden yet. I'm hoping to get there soon just to take inventory about what needs to be done. Potatoes are always the first thing to be planted. I'm going to start harvesting them early this year and eating the small little potatoes first.  Every year I have way too many that spoil in storage so my plan is to start eating them early and not have so many to store.
The onion sets were planted first and put under the grow lights when sprouting started. Yes, those are half toilet rolls. Later they will be planted out in the garden when the soil warms up to the right temperature which hopefully will be in about another two to three weeks. Onions are heavy nitrogen feeders so these guys are about at the stage where they need a good feed. They can also be set outside to soak up the sunshine on warm days.
The bell peppers and eggplants are doing really well.  My first bell peppers I put in my computer room on a heat mat thinking it would really help them sprout better. About two weeks into the germination period, I took a soil temperature reading and found it to be 97 degrees. Not a single seed from that batch germinated.  I think I cooked them. The second batch that you see here was started by sprouting the seeds on a paper towel inside a Ziploc bag. Just as the seeds began to sprout (I think about a week or 10 days), I planted them.  Two weeks later they were up and growing. I transplanted them into larger cups for now and perhaps in a month to bigger yet cups.

I planted lettuce but it didn't seem to germinate. I'll have to plant more and see what happens.  Strange things happen when germinating seeds in the Spring. I'm just glad that signs of the coming Spring is every where and the long cold Winter is coming to an end. My favorite season is Spring with all the new life and fresh growth. So I can definitely say the garden season has begun.

Do you have any thing under the grow lights yet? 

Have a great Spring day where ever you are.

Nebraska Dave

P.S. Now that Spring has arrived I'll have more to write about and post will come more often.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas
Since I some what resemble Santa Claus, I do get some double takes from the youngsters and I have been asked if I am Santa. My answer is always, "No, I'm not Santa but I know him. Have you been naughty or nice." Invariably the answer is always "Nice" with a sheepish look. It seems that the Christmas season has lost it's focus for the reason of the season.  

This year the retail stores started their Christmas thrust right after Labor Day and really geared up after Halloween.  I'm not a Scrooge by any means and I do like the decorating and .... cookies yum. There's no such thing as a bad cookie.  Same with apple pie but you already know that if you been following my blog. I still work for apple pie, apple crisp, apple any thing. This Christmas has been a little more organized so it seems.  

Well, other than the Christmas cards there's not much to organize for me.  No one is coming to my house for dinner, no one is baking Christmas goodies, and decorating is very minimum.  It sounds pretty bah hum bug, doesn't it.  Not so much.  My festivities are outside the home with other family, friends, and neighbors. 

My wife Dottie was the decorator, baker, and dinner maker.  I did try to continue that tradition but gave it up because I just wasn't any good at it and really didn't enjoy doing it. So now in my mature season of life, I just enjoy other people's dinners and such. I don't have any lack of invitations to join in with other folks.  Some times I have several to attend during the December Christmas season.

I'm hardly a sit at home and be lonely kind of guy. I can't remember the last time I was lonely or bored but then again, I cherish my alone times with no immediate responsibilities to take care of. I enjoy it all but I am kind of glad when it's all over and I can settle in for a couple months of Winter rest.

Yeah, right.  The Winter list of projects keeps growing and I'll never get them all accomplished.  I have some big ones coming up. Major house cleaning is on the top of the list. Seriously, why are there still clothes for my 13 year old grandson that look like he hasn't been able fit into them since he was 5 years old still in the dirty laundry in the laundry room.  You know how it is. All those things that we are going to get around to but never do are on this year's Winter ToDo list.  

It seems like plumbing is always on that list as well.  I've already had two major plumbing fixes accomplished and another really major fix that needs attention on the list.  Floors are another concern.  The old 1965 linoleum is starting to buckle, crack, peel away from the floor.  There's always vacuuming up those cobwebs off the ceiling, cleaning the ceiling fan blades, or inside house repair things.  It's been 30 years since some of the rooms have been painted.  Like my bedroom.  It could use a total make over. It's so much like a guy bedroom with no curtains and a pile of dirty clothes on the floor.  It's just in a guy's DNA.  Guys don't have to be taught to pile dirty clothes on the floor and girls don't have to be taught how to shop.  It just in their genes. 

So have a Holly Jolly Christmas and I see you on the back side of St. Nick.