The Norseman’s Diaries 2021: Tentative Last Entry?

Jan 30, 2022 | Articles, Issue 1141

by Jeff Fullerton
[email protected]

Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

Dateline New Year’s Day—1/1/2022

It’s finally over. A really bad year that makes 2020 look good just like the first year of Joe Biden makes the 4 years of the Jimmy Carter Administration—or even 8 years of Obama look heavenly by comparison. Another year of fear and loathing and of some grievous losses of people dear to us. Yet we are still here and the struggle continues.

I’m trying to put together what I was a few weeks ago getting ready to call the last edition of the Norseman’s Diaries. The last issue. In part because I was tired and weary of things. Maybe burnt out on everything. On top of the prospect of sorting through and cherry-picking the best entries from my email correspondence that is a pretty good record of events on my home front. However there is a lot and that is intimidating enough to make the 2021 summer and fall edition go the way of what might have been an interesting one on the summer of 2020 which had lots of interesting builds and projects between the fear and loathing of the human events that never got the coverage it deserved.

I cannot let this one go because is was an interesting year and I got a lot of significant stuff done and overcame some significant obstacles that looked quite daunting in their time. So I’ve decided to write at least a tentative final edition.

Tentative because I’m not sure if I will be up to writing the Diaries any more—let alone having an outlet to publish them. On the other hand I say tentative because I’m not sure I’m ready to retire this thread yet because the forces of history and nature are not yet done and there will inevitably be plenty of things worth writing about. My own projects and accomplishments are likely to get more interesting as they progress and mature and I run into new challenges. So it’s always tentative. Everything in Life is tentative.

Maybe I should start back on the beginning of June not long after the previous edition ended with the triumphant accomplishment of the connecting of the rain barrels behind the greenhouse and the beginning of the problems with my Troybilt tractor that developed shortly after the issues of the dead battery and water in the fuel system were resolved.

And I entered my “Door into Summer”.

6/1/2021

Slept in to 11:00.

Those 3 to 3 shifts are rough.

Got a decent amount done yesterday before going in. Repotted the Rio Verde Dioon and replanted the Selaginella pallescens that volunteered in an old bonsai container to the bed at the base of the artificial tree.

And I’ve got to just get moving. Half the day gone. Recovering from a late shift is a more legit excuse but the morning is gone none the less and there is a lot to do since the turts will be feeding again now that summer is finally coming back. Pushing 70 now and it looks like the last of the chilly weather—we can only hope. It’s the first day of June and the start of meteorological summer so it’s high time!

Dioon edule Rio Verde gets moved up to a bigger container. You’ll note that the soil volume was significantly diminished due to breakdown of the organic matter in the mix. It was already putting roots out the drainage holes and I was lucky to be able to work most of those back through without too much breakage.

Used lava rock that was previously in the filter of the JPT pen to form a drainage layer and covered that with landscaping fabric before putting in a fresh course potting mix of pine bark fines , perlite, Turface and granite grit with a small amount of composted leaves.

Mixed eggshell , coffee grounds, chunks of dried banana peel and shrimp peelings into the top dressing to give it a nice organic fertilizer and reused the original clay marbles for soil covering.

And it’s back in the greenhouse on the end of the retaining wall by the pond. That’s where it will stay from here on.

One more thing has found its place and there is less clutter and greater order. This cycad is going to become a spectacular centerpiece for the conservatory planting. Eventually I’d like to find a square container so I can remove the block underneath and set it lower down. I could do that now with the Gardenia in the square planter.

Have to get back up there and do something with the aquarium plants that came Saturday. Got a heads up on the Woodlanders order last night. It’s shipping and will be here this week.

6:20 PM

Flumdiddling at the greenhouse and the day is slipping away. At least I’m doing productive stuff and getting things done. I made my way there after a lite breakfast of oatmeal and the morning routine in the Room. Took the spent teabags and coffee grounds with me to make more weak tea and feed plants. Put the coffee grounds on the Gardenia and Ardisia planters and the Iris japonicas and top dressed those with fresh pine bark. Then watered it down with the weak tea solution using the 2 gallon metal watering can. Filled all the jugs from the rain barrels including the empties that have been parked by the East door and put them back on standby. Got way more than needed so I’m not going to save these anymore. I’ve already stopped buying it in favor of making it from powdered drink mix.

Once I figure a balance between how many cups of tea I make per week and how many jugs used to water plants I’ll reduce the stockpile and mothball a lot of the empty jugs and use those to replace jugs that get brittle from UV exposure.

Plants are getting a lot of care now. Got air plants in the rain barrels again and stuff soaking in the pond. It’s like breaking a long hard drought and I’m looking forward to the resurgence. Also tinkering with the hardware and infrastructure. Got the spillway filter in the pond running again and cleaned and pushed the blocks that make up the east end steps back together more tightly. Going to look for some large pavers like I have capping the ones on the west end to make these better. On my way out I took a scouring pad and scrubbed the dark residue off the upper half of one of the front panes. It was actually very easy and effective and I’m thinking now about options for upgrading the glazing.

The flat fiberglass panels are going on 20 years old and I probably should replace them. I’d like to do twin wall polycarbonate but that is expensive so I may just scrub off the gunk to improve light transmission and put on another coating of UV protection to prolong the life just a little longer and then replace with new or upgrade to twin wall. Like to do the latter because it will eliminate the need to use the bubble wrap on the inside that needs to be replaced after several years. I figure do that one more time and then not have to do it ever again. Times will be better and I won’t have to replace or upgrade or it will be total chaos and meltdown of the country and it won’t matter because I’ll be a homeless vagabond on the Earth or die fighting the American Soviet Socialist Republic predicted by El Neil in “Forge of the Elders”. Which is starting to look disturbingly prophetic.

6/3/21

What I got done yesterday.


Fed the turts at the greenhouse site and a permanent fix for the Trex barrier on on the Florida Box enclosure.


Dug down into the clay below the gravel layer on the walkway to set a long cap block in deeply to hold the board firmly in place. I can trim off the excess When I get the opportunity in the coming days.


Looks nicer now.


The male from California came over to chow down shortly after his long drink. I put in way too much feed and had to dispose of it. I’m starting a bio reactor system in the greenhouse using a nursery container with pine bark fines and springtails to consume leftovers so they can be removed promptly before mold and spoilage and buried so the smell won’t attract raccoons. This is modeled off the accidental startup of springtail cultures in the bedding of the baby Gulf Coasts in the Florida Room.


Was hitting a time crunch when it came to dealing with the plants that came last Friday. Managed to get the dwarf sags planted. Could only find two containers so I divided them between and I’ll just buy two more and split the plantings when these fill up and multiply them over time.

Will get to the remaining plants today.

I’m running behind again.

Yesterday evening was a shit show that really tried my patience to the point where I could have easily articulated that existential dilemma again. But lost the train of thought again as I unwinded listening to a “radio drama” of Heinlein’s “Universe” on the way home. It’s one of his older novellas about the population on a huge multi generational starship that lost its way and totally forgot the nature of their voyage under the assumption the ship is their whole universe steeped in religious dogma in which heresy is not tolerated.

Went to bed at a reasonable time but woke up around 4 and spent some more time putting together the spring edition of the Diaries. Then fell back to sleep til mid morning. Had breakfast and worked on diaries more. Day is looking like a partial washout but the rain has stopped and it’s brighter outside. Might be a good day for Uniontown which I’ve been wanting to do but I might also get something done outside first. It’s payday so I’ll work my way out of here by way of the bank and then down the highway and get groceries on the return leg.

6/3/21: 6:23 PM

The Door into Summer opens again.

It really opens next week with some 90 degree days according to the forecast I saw on dinner break yesterday evening. It’s been a comfy 70ish and not a total washout after all this late afternoon.

Was going back and forth between filling the rainwater jugs and working on the frog vivarium in my bedroom when I discovered the package from Woodlanders delivered by UPS.

It had been dropped off—probably while I was putting the shutoff valve back onto the drain on the bedroom tank and I saw it taking a shortcut out the front door to avoid the cat who was hanging out on the back porch trying to beat me in that door every time I passed. I took the package to the greenhouse and opened it there after finishing that project.

And there it is. The hydrangea that is already in bloom, the low growing Cephalotaxus, Smilax biflora and Magnolia ashei. All are planted except the hydrangea which is going to the other site and the magnolia which needs a spot cleared out for it behind the greenhouse. The Smilax was gallon sized and way too big for the planter I made from the other half of the column I cut for the Woodbine so I split it three ways and put two of them down in the enclosure in the ground.

I split the previous one into two portions. This makes for redundancy and it’s probably a good durable plant for a turtle enclosure because it’s tough—called chicken wire plant—yet not horribly prickly like other Greenbriers so it won’t hurt the occupants. Between those and the Japanese Bird’s nest fern the enclosure is starting to look better. At some point the second Rio Verde Dioon will have to be moved on to a spot in the conservatory where it will have more room to expand and be replaced by one of the seedlings or a Zamia pumilia. The latter is actually more appropriate for the enclosure because it stays smaller and is part of the native habitat of the Florida Box Turtles. But I’m not a total purist. The Chicken Wire Plant is from Japan but it makes a nicer substitute for a native greenbrier from the habitat—yet I also have a Smilax pumilia which is a native with a kinder gentler habit as well—albeit bigger leaves and makes for a good representation of the genus in the greenhouse. Too bad these two are not hardy outdoors in this climate. I’ve tried pumilia several times and It eventually died out.

Someday I hope to get the species smalli (Jackson Vine) or better yet laurifolia which are nice shiny evergreen types—but can be monsters and must be well contained by pruning because they will run or climb for 20 to 50 feet!

It was going on 4 PM when I finished planting the Cephalotaxus on the berm about 4 feet back from the spillway and I had to make a quick run out to get the phone bill in the mail and do my banking. Then I visited the pond to feed the fish and turts there in a rush to get that done before what looked like more rain incoming. The pellets you sent are going over well with the CBTs & JPTs. Even the picky female is eating them with gusto. Would have had nice pictures of that and the late spring flora had I brought the phone along but I was in a hurry. Running the pumps too and the sun even came out. Eyeballed the spot where I want to put the hydrangea but decided to study the prospect and sleep on it. Kind of reluctant to rip out the Leucothoe bush that is in that spot—but I don’t want to put it anywhere else right now.

Sun has come out and makes for a decent evening. If I can get the other water plants into containers this evening it will make for a successful day. Then I’d like to head out for Uniontown and I’ll probably grab dinner at BK while I’m out. I was tempted to hit the drive through at McDonalds on my way home earlier because the line of cars was no worse than times when I went through with Uncle Budd on the way home from his doctors appointments. I actually did have a double cheeseburger from there a week or so ago. It was from a patient whose wife brought him in a bag full of them. He was a fat guy there for cardiac issues and needed them like a hole in the head! I couldn’t resist his offer since I hadn’t had McDonalds since the pandemic stated!

But tonight I have more a hankering for Burger King!

6/4/21: 01:21 AM

Had to go to the pond to shut off the watercourse to avoid another disasterville come tomorrow like the one earlier in the spring. Time growing short; so I only bothered with the two bunches of milfoil which I potted in small Lerio containers and put in one of the 300s at the site. Will get the remaining plants tomorrow.

Decided to stop off to eat at the Burger King in Laurel Mall Plaza on the way down instead of coming back. It looks like Pechin’s supermarket & Restaurant became a casualty of time and maybe the pandemic was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Shocking and sad. This discount store of local renown originally based in Dunbar moved into the former space occupied by Montgomery Wards on the south end of the mall in the early to mid 2000s. It used to be something like Aldi’s on steroids or maybe a Walmart that never went national or global. It was quite a phenomenon at the original site where it sprawled all over the place—even spanning a creek and you could see the water through thru a knothole in the wood plank floor and could probably pull up a board and drop a line to fish for trout if they would allow you! I remember a website with the headline “Hillbilly Heaven” with the rear view photograph of a fat bottomed lady in cutoff jeans pushing a cart down the isle! That was the prelude to the sites featuring the shots of ridiculously dressed Walmart patrons.

When I visited the new location the bargain basement prices were not much better than anywhere else. Still sad to see it gone. Like the Wards there before it and the mall itself. Will have to reminisce another time for the sake of the ongoing story.

Front door of the BK was locked but the drive through was open. Sign posted said that they had to cut hours because of short staffing. Wonder if it’s because people don’t want to work anymore—you know why. I’m seeing help wanted signs all over the place.

There was a guy in a pickup towing a big trailer who had pulled in and was trying the front door when I arrived. I ended up following him around through the drive through because I was getting hungry and determined to get a whopper value meal.

$10.06. It’s like the ten dollar Big Mac I once envisioned in a SF scenario for the year 2020. That was about 6 months ago—right before we got a pandemic instead of an EMP taking down the grid at Christmas time. If I ever get back on it; the storyline will have to be pushed forward. I guess Biden is greasing the skids for the hyperinflation that will hit by then. Feels like it’s now—but my character bought a ten dollar Mac—without the rest of the meal and I got a double with cheese!

As I was moving on I noticed something that really started my morale to bottom out.

Holy Hell!

That was quite a jump over what I saw in Latrobe last night where it was still holding at $3.19. First thought was how long until they drag Joe Fool and his cohorts out of the White House and hang them on the nearest lampposts? I’m guessing $6 a gallon? Hope they don’t wait for $10 which was the price in the 2020 that never happened.

This really had me going for the duration of my shopping trip that was a lackluster affair that I ended up regretting the gas I burned. Especially with it having gone up another 6 cents overnight! No houseplants worth buying at Lowe’s or Home Depot and PetsMart didn’t have any cork or other hardscaping worth buying. Indeed some of the shelves were empty. A depression spiral was starting. Made worse by an aggressive driver in a pickup who got ticked off because I didn’t pull out at the stoplight fast enough. For a while I wondered if he was going to follow me home?

Lost him getting on 119 as he continued past the on-ramp strait on into town. If he followed me home I’d probably want to shoot the varmint if he came into my place. That’s why I don’t like collectivism and communal living and would rather die than live in a communist country or go to prison. There’s not much difference. In either situation you can easily end up being assigned to share living space with someone who will bully you—or try to get you in trouble with the State because they dislike you or want something you have—like your apartment space because they’re living in the halls on a waiting list. Thinking of the story of life in the Soviet Union as told by Solzhenitsyn by way of Jordan Peterson.

It got me thinking about my thoughts last night regarding existential things and brought back memory of someone commenting on something a while back concerning the Devine Right of the pack to prey upon and pick apart the Lone Wolf who refuses to join or contribute to the commonweal. And such people have the nerve to call Libertarians “amoral monsters”! Or “free riders”? Why? Because they owe it to the tribe or state whose collective power to wield deadly force is a stabilizing influence in the world against the collective power of other groups? Or because the money that the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders stole from you and other productive class people paid for the roads and police and other public services and utilities that make civilization possible? I find the notion that the Collective has the collective right to take the property or life of its individual members or outsiders to be fundamentally evil like the Borg from Star Trek and it is fundamentally right to resist no matter how futile they may argue it to be.

Since they like to use wars to liquidate surplus population and production they’ve always hated nukes on the global scale much like they hate guns on the local level. They might actually get hurt if they try to push other people around and even small, weak players can become too costly to defeat should they decide to resist the collective will of a greater nation or supranational organization.

That rant felt good! Even at the expense of plans to do something in the Room this evening. Ended up going down and just taking the shop lights off bypass when the phone ran out of power and shut down unexpectedly. Wish these things would give a heads up one minute or 30 seconds out like PCs used to do.

As for the gas situation it’s not so bad. Not yet.

It’s actually a couple cents cheaper than Latrobe at the Sheetz at the junction of 982 on 119. Apparently the area south of C’ville which is getting close to West Virginia is supplied by the Colonial Pipeline and still recovering from the shock of that being disrupted.

The lefties think of shutting down cheap energy as their equivalent of disrupting the Borg but they are mistaken. Unlike the Borg—western civilization is a social container that respects individuality and inalienable rights. The leftists themselves are more like the Borg. They want to conquer and assimilate individuals against free will and destroy all who resist.

If that’s not fundamentally evil I don’t know what is.

Flumdiddling through the heat of the day while dithering on whether or not to go to the Reptile Show in Youngwood.

Saw the sign for the 6th of June earlier this week and thought about going since I have the day off on a split weekend. Staying up late Friday night to put together the Spring Edition which ended up being postponed for further editing threw off plans to run by the bank to pick up some cash. Just too much of a crunch so when I thought about it this morning I figured I could use the cash I pulled for gas money if I saw anything I might want in the way of dry goods or maybe a male Emerald Swift if any appear at the show. I’ve seen them there before.

To make a long story short I decided to scrub the idea because after working through the morning routine and laundry the time has slipped away and the 3 PM closing time is getting near. It’s quite possible that I’ll go to my next Reptile Show as a vendor rather than a patron—though I’d like to do a little homework first and see what all is involved. Plus look into the laws. Given the spirit of the times on top of the long standing contempt of the authorities for us and what we do I’m sure they are out there looking to bust someone. Permits might be required too. I’ll have to move on this soon because it may not be long until Reptile Shows and reptile keeping are banned because of some pet issue reason or just made untenable by an economic meltdown.

I’m actually envisioning a prospectus called “The Florida Room” along the lines of the “Turtle Room” that was at the expo in Hamburg and sell vivarium plants along with my baby Gulfs and eventually get into selling aquarium converted into front opening cages with backgrounds.

It would be nice to be able to do something like that for at least a little while or even long term as a supplemental income for retirement.

So today becomes the day we none through the door into summer as the cat peers in from the outside and I begin laying plans to get all back burner issues resolved.

Have the cellar door open and my other door into Summer where it’s summer or at least spring all the time. Put the threshold barrier in place in case one of the turts gets off the table like that near miss last fall with the areolata that went AWOL for a while.

Gorgeous in there and I almost hate the thought of moving the turts to a far less aesthetically pleasing setup in the greenhouse but it’s time to do it so I can pull the Table platform out of the corner and get in there to make the improvements. I’m hoping to get that done quickly and get everything back in place so the disruption is brief. The plan is to run the Room as a permanent system and not partially mothball it like I did last year.

Closing on 3:30 now. Time to make it up to the greenhouse and start the watering routine and check out the Land Tub. And start moving more things through the Door into Summer!

6/7/21

Haven’t heard from Ray for a while.

This is getting worrisome like when El Neil is MIA and republishing “blasts from the past”! Hope he’s ok and just busy. Hummm. Maybe he went on vacation to Arkansas?

Settled in after a catfish dinner and busy evening at the greenhouse and then a few water changes on the Florida Room. Where do I start?

Guess with moving the turts which happened after about 3 hours of more tidying up in the GH and watering plants with weak tea. And tweaking the land tub to get it tilted toward the left front corner where the hole for the future bulkhead is to mitigate a drainage issue on the land side.

Got them in there and will start them off with some greens tomorrow morning. Doing a lot of stuff by osmosis to save time and effort so the bucket the turts came up in got filled with pond water and then I went back down and got the 1/2 cup of milk & 1.5 tsp of epsom salt to make the solution for feeding ferns , anthuriums and bromeliads that is added to a 5 gal bucket of water.

Started off with the Polydactyl Fern.

Then the Anthurium andicola that is coming back from near death.

Japanese Birdsnest Fern.

And a lot of other stuff. Some got dunked. And I dipped and poured the solution into pots of other plants until it was gone.

Put the three Cuban Anthuriums—hookeri—I to the pond to soak a while and then set them on the wall to await feeding tomorrow morning when I mix up a fresh batch.

These plants have been badly neglected for years in addition to getting frozen and coming back from the core meristem when I forgot to bring them indoors—back before I had the greenhouse. A testimony to toughness though I hope to do better and really beef them up this year and maybe get seed again since these things are reality in demand these days.

Caught a glimpse of “E” with its tail out. Looks petty thick so I’m guessing a boy. May have to consult with the breeder I got them from to see what she thinks.

Cattleya guatemalensis in bloom.  Another positive sign the greenhouse is coming back.

Went to the pond and fed fish.  Also carried the two big pieces of spider wood on slate bases and put them in the tub where the Blackbandeds will soon go. That gets them off the block retaining wall by the cellar door where they have been sitting since I got them early in the spring.  Looking to get that area cleaned up tomorrow with the jugs going to the greenhouse and plants that are waiting there into the ground. And I’ll start thinking about continuing the wall around the perimeter of the bed to the stairs of the front porch and get that done this summer.

And that was for the most part my day. A very good one too and I won’t go into detail about all the thoughts and ideas I had regarding potential future projects but I had a few. Was a decent tipping point through the door to summer. The greenhouse is getting reclaimed, the turts are now out there and got a decent plan to get the fish set up for spawning.

Of course the worries from back in the world continue to nag me. Yesterday I saw gas was still 317 at the Sunoco on the corner where I turn coming down the road past the front of the hospital to the care facility. But then I heard from someone at work that it was up to 325 in town. Go figure. The notion that it was going to stay cheaper than the stations south of C’ville was too good to be true.

I read an article yesterday where in the comments some schmuck bemoaned that mean old nasty Mr Trump gutted green policies. I can only hope the democrats will loose the congress in the mid term and a check will be put on the old fool and his crazy train cohorts to buy time until we can get a  freedom friendly President in the White House with a mandate to restore the pipelines and get some nuclear power plants built. The party of stasis and rationing can take their Green New Deal and their Weimar economics and shove it.

Never trust anyone in politics—or corporate culture who argues less is more. Maybe it is when you have too many irons in the fire on your own home front but more often it amounts to the old Mark Twain story about training a horse to live without food. At some point you eventually reach a threshold for starvation.

6/15/21

Tonite I’m celebrating the continuity of civilization, infrastructure and electricity.

 

It stated early afternoon with a frontal passage that swept across the state grazing the northern edge of Pittsburgh in that typical bow formation suggesting a Derecho. From the look of the radar and futurecast projection I was not sure it was moving fast enough to meet the criteria of a Derecho but later when another wave was incoming I noticed it had scooted pretty far to the East in that length of time so it may have been.

The secondary front that came 4 PM may have been also. Some heavy red cells cannonballed through the Mt Pleasant area and I didn’t think too much of it until passing through the break room a few minutes before clocking out and catching news of numerous trees down and power outages and even Slope Hill Road—Lor’s emergency snow route was blocked.

So I left work wondering if I would have power or even an intact roof to come home to.

It was an encouraging sight to glimpse glowing windows and porch lights as I drew closer to home. No downed trees or other obstructions barring the ingress to my place. All was well on the home front. Made a quick trip up to eyeball the greenhouse and it was ok.

This makes for some decent drama for the Diaries. But as close as I want to get to the GND disasterville shit show or Venezuela.

Small comfort to know gas is holding at $3.25. Until the next crisis in the Middle East or supply chain disruption pushes the price up again.

I was too tired as usual to do much other than turn off the manually operated lights on some of the tanks and call it a night.

6/17/21—10:07 AM

Wonderful news.

The hardware store just called to drop a bomb on me. I was hoping it was going to be that they were coming to pick it up today—a day or two early and get it going sooner rather than later.  But it was to inform that they don’t work on Troys anymore. Now I got to find someone else who can do it or figure out how to do it myself or just get a new one that comes with a maintenance contract like the Sears tractor that Grampa had. There was a guy who came out every spring to go over it , change the oil, check belts and replace anything that was worn out.

The guy who called said it was because they can’t get parts for them anymore. I wonder if it’s like the place that wouldn’t work on my oil furnace because they probably wanted to sell me a new one. Yet I’ve been able to get a repairman to fix it over the years since. Maybe I can find someone who can do this.

6/17/21—8:30 PM

Back from my evening on the town.

I wish I had Ray for a neighbor. Biggest hurdle to me is doing this on my own. I really need another set of hands who is also knowledgeable of these things plus the tools needed. I’m probably going to have to DIY because it’s hard to find anyplace that can handle this since Brilhart’s won’t do it anymore. I talked to a friend on my way back from mailing my Honda payment at the PO in town and he told me about a garage that might do it. Will inquire there tomorrow.

Today is slipping away and I’m too fatigued to want to mess with getting the fish outside. Part of it is an underlying reluctance to put them out for fear something might happen to them. Like a big water snake getting into the 150 and cleaning out my prized breeder Bantams that are doing awesome in a 40B eating pellets. That’s what really made them bulk up. The other issue is that mega burrito from Margarita’s is really turned me into a sluggard.

About the size of a meatloaf and filled with beef, chicken, chorizo and shrimp , beans etc. I did this figuring it would save me time cooking in addition to having something I haven’t had in a long time. I’m lucky I was able to do the shopping.

Busy Beaver is moving into the old Shop & Save that used to be the main store in the same plaza. They will soon be moving down from the old store which is visible up on the flat in the upper right corner of the picture.

Going to go out and start laying the groundwork for tomorrow in the daylight that  remains. Then do some tutorials and start planning my next projects. This tractor is really throwing everything off and we are fast coming up on the midpoint of summer. I am thinking about getting a push mower so I can take my time with the rider. But even that decision must be considered carefully so I don’t end up pressured into jumping into anything that’s going to cost me an unnecessary expense.

According to the advice of several friends—that tractor should have a lot of life left in it.

6/18/21—10:47 AM

Working my way through the morning routine. Did the Room, fed fish and had breakfast. Then went to the greenhouse to water plants and check on things.

Took up a bag of pine mulch and spread it and another opened bag on site by the spillway to eliminate clutter. Divided the remaining husky fiber between the original bale and a cracked green bucket that is for my stash in the greenhouse. Have to order another bale from the Lucky Store which is a dealer in Sri Lanka. And some other material to build up a decent stockpile of growing and husbandry supplies.

Greenhouse was looking wonderful this morning. Male Florida Box was on one of the females in the watering pan. Going to take some strawberries up before heading out. Gathering up some buckets to get some river rock from the brickyard and stop by that place in Bridgeport on the way back to inquire about tractor repair. That and and do some networking at work this afternoon to see if there is anyone else who can do it. I did study some videos last night and it looks intimidating yet I can understand it. One of my next big projects will be cleaning out the garage to get a better surface to work on. Concrete vs grass or gravel driveway.

Fish are on the back burner again.  I’m going to continue feeding them heavy the next few days and aim for my next day off—Sunday to put them out. I prefer to make changes when I can be around all day to monitor for problems rather than toss something into a new habitat and leave for the day.

12:20 PM

Back at high noon.

Got three buckets of river rock and four corner blocks to do the turn on the retaining wall going around the rain barrel by the cellar door and get that project going again.

Stopped at the garage Brian told me about on the way out. They told me he was the guy who owns Shaw Coal Yard on the corner of the swamp road going home. I eyeballed it on the way back. Not very impressed but I’ll give them a call later today or Monday. May be on my own so maybe I should just get a push mower as a fallback option to keep from getting overwhelmed by high grass and work on the tractor at leisure. There’s a learning curve with that like sealing the aquariums. I’ll take a look underneath the deck before I head out and see if there is an obvious issue with a belt that broke or jumped the track.

Got to get my trug pan to move the stone up and save wear and tear on me and my buckets. If I can get the spillway finished and set the blocks I got in place it will be a successful day and maybe I can even avoid a crunch heading out for work.

1:31 PM

Update before I head out.

Put a bend in the retaining wall. Eventually it will go the whole way around the porch and I’ll have mostly a gravel mulch in that bed around the rain barrels and sparse plantings of flowers and shrubs.

Short gravel path to the spillway. Used the bucket of smaller gravel for that.

Used the bigger rocks to fill the spillway. Going to look awesome someday when get the remaining rock work and plantings in.

Getting Refocused

6/21/21

Got three of the larger Bantams out into the 150 just before the storm hit. Instead of draining the tank I just removed the spider wood and artificial plants and caught what I’m hoping will be a trio.

I’m guessing the big one with the colorful spangles on the right is a male and the two smaller ones with the striped pattern are females.

I’m sure there is at least another good breeding group left in the tank plus several smaller ones that will be able to grow out once those go out for the summer. This gives me some redundancy plus additional fish to trade for Chubsuckers. Got a possible deal in the works for that.

If I can get those and keep the Bantams and other things going I’ll have it made. The Chubsuckers will go into the Greenhouse pond and that will put an end to the winter kill issue forever. At least as long as I can get them moved in there every fall and keep it heated. Even without heat, the microclimate may be enough to keep them alive.

Had to dump my bantams in hast because it looked like the storm was about to hit as I finished the message at pondside. I did mix the water a little so they should be ok. I’ve learned the hard way that flumdiddling around with fish in a bucket or cooler for days can do more harm than just dumping them strait into the pond or tank.

The furnishings from the Bantam tank will get a good cleansing out in the rain before I get it all back in place. The rain that I made a hasty retreat from held off a little bit. Long enough to close the door left open on the greenhouse and grab my uniforms hung out to dry earlier. And then I changed out the storm panes for screens on the patio door and did a quickie repair on a downspout that keeps coming apart. Rains finally came. Light showers progressing into steady rain with a lot of rumbling but nothing really severe. Did get some cold downdrafts earlier on my run to the greenhouse.

Debating about going out shopping this evening. Depends on how the weather plays out. If the storms don’t let up I may just defer those plans for another day.

6/22/21

It rained pretty much all evening.

Didn’t go shopping or get the Blackbandeds moved out but may still do the latter. Or just put it off until Wednesday when I work 3 to 11 and keep on feeding them. That may be the best strategy. And I’ll select another group of bantams to go into a 300. I feel more secure about that because those are up off the ground and less vulnerable to predation by snakes. And easy to net to keep birds out. This is the best strategy to keep small, high value species safe while they are out for the summer and get good spawns too. Then enjoy the big pond more for the landscape aesthetic and a community of tougher species like the goldfish, golden shiners, catfish and larger sunfishes.

That’s how I’m doing my big pond from here on. In the beginning I tried a holistic ecosystem approach with turts, fish etc in the pond but it didn’t work very well. There were issues with the turts eating the plants and So I built the Turtle Lagoon for the aquatic species and the smaller pen within the compound for terrestrial species. Then shifted the Lagoon to a single species setup for Spotted Turtles when diseases became an issue. Then to the lidded pens after the raccoons started preying on full grown Wood Turtles. For the fish I gave up on the idea of trying to have my entire wish list as a community in the main pond and started building multiple ponds and then the current system of Rubbermaids that started out as a fish hatchery scheme to repopulate the pond with species that are less competitive and evolved into the current system of putting big fish in the pond and using the tubs as summer time habitats for small fish I keep indoors in the colder months. And with expanding tank space indoors it’s becoming a good system. I’m hoping to be able to keep this modest collection of species going with minimal input of new stock and that will be mostly from other captive populations because I think the big ambitious collecting trips are mostly a thing of the past. It was fun while it lasted but this was my goal even then.

6/23/21—10:45 AM

Ran the oil furnace again last night. It was down in the 40s and feeling uncomfortably chilly when I got in. Was 65 in the living room.

I hit the kill switch early this morning when I got up. Also fed off the bloodworms and took the lights in the room off bypass to default back to the regular cycle. I dropped the ball last night falling asleep after I put the cubes out to thaw.

Got a possible lead from Lor on someone who might be able to solve my tractor issue. It’s a guy with a small home based business that repairs and sells mowers. He’s in Everson on the same road going out to

the sawmill where I get my firewood. Going to check it out today once I get going.

6/24/21

Slowly getting going after a late start. Another unexpected 3 to 3 shift I found out yesterday evening when I looked at the assignment sheet a few hours on the job to see who was coming in to replace me at 11. YIKES!

Was pretty shitful too. At least we didn’t get a call for an incoming cardiac arrest ten minutes before the end of my shift. Got in around 4. Got wound up about the Climate Lockdown meme. Finally got to sleep around 5 and woke up around 10. Now I got to push myself out of bed and do something.

My house was chilly again this morning. Yes my walls are probably poorly insulated. But I didn’t run the furnace this time. Now the warmth is returning. After I make a run out to check out the possibility of tractor repair and do some shopping I’ll feed the turts and focus on the pond site.

6:30 PM

The Schlumbergera bridgesii—AKA True Christmas Cactus arrived today. Found it in a small box in my mailbox on the way out to check out the mower guy in Everson this afternoon. Got out of here late in the day. Well after 3P when the big LED bulbs were off. I put the timer on bypass after misting so I can enjoy a brighter evening in there and keep the lizards in the mood for feeding later. And I fed the Blackbandeds and baby Dollars some black worms. Developed a new way to harvest those by rinsing them off the brown paper napkins like I rinse the white worms off the plastic grid into the container and sucking them up with a dropper to deposit in the feeding cones in the tanks.

I went to the lawn mower place that Lor recommend and was not impressed. I don’t know. Just a bad vibe. Didn’t take a picture but there was a small lot in the front yard with a mix of garden tractors and push mowers. Heard voices in the back yard, went to the front door but no doorbell I just didn’t feel like knocking. So I put it off to think about it a little while.

Got milk and gas at the Sheetz that moved from Scottdale to the on-ramp to 119 by the Walmart. Then got a couple more red lidded Tupperware containers to Start more white worms and some crates to raise the containers of the spike rush’s so I can get them put of the greenhouse and into the tubs.

Tiredness is upon me again and the fat l’ll day is slipping away. Going to try to do that and a few more things. That 3 to 3 really messed me up.

6/25/21—12:44 AM

Got most of the new projects done before running out of steam and daylight. The latter actually lasted a bit longer as it was still daylight when I was eating dinner going on 9 PM.

The Rubbermaid containers and crates from Big Lots. Used the latter as platforms to set the spike rushes on and get those out of the greenhouse finally. The plastic food storage containers will be for new white worm cultures.

Green swords are doing well and reproducing already.

Spike rush and water clover in the swordtail tub.

Two more rushes in the tub that will soon get stocked with the maculatus platies. I may replace the crates with blocks because placement is awkward.

Didn’t get to the pond other than a quick trip up to feed fish and eyeball everything else. I fear sometimes I’m running out of stamina because I just don’t want to do anything late in the day. Especially after work. And it took me all afternoon just to get going after waking up late morning. Age may be catching up with me. I’ve got to simplify things and get everything in order so it’s low maintenance to keep it that way. Going to look at the tractor tomorrow. If I can solve this problem on my own both Bruce and my Bro will be impressed. Just a matter of getting up the courage for another great leap of faith like some of the tipping points in the restoration of the Florida Room and the two 4O B tanks. Another one I got to get moving again is the 150. With July just around the corner.

Quenching the Dry Belt

6/30/21—11:44 PM

Love those 14 hour days. The last day of June today. I flumdiddled again until late afternoon before the rumble of distant thunder motivated me to get outside and at least get the turts fed.

Took a mix of gamefish pellets and Zoo Med up to the Gulf Coasts and soaked a cup full to distribute to the adults and the young ones. Then fed the Florida Boxies and the Rhinos and Striped Muds. Concurrently I watered the plants in the greenhouse with pond water , then from the tea jugs before hosing everything down good and refilling the jugs from the barrels.

Storms were threatening all around. First to the north around Greensburg. Then south around C’ville. It got really cool and breezy from the downdrafts but nothing more than a few drops here in the Dry Belt. I figured I’d go do the other site. There was more rumbling when I got up to the pond and it was happening directly overhead so I cut it short after tossing the fish some pellets and hightailed it back to the house. Rain started on the way down but it didn’t amount to much more than a few light showers.

I ventured back up a few hours later to finish feeding at that site and start on some long overdue weeding of the path by the lower DD and into the rock garden. I’m going at it ruthlessly ripping out the Chinese begonias and Formosan Saxifrage that is spreading out of bounds in addition to the Japanese Stilt Grass.

Did a lot of clipping of shrubbery to open up the interior paths. Yet there is so much to do. The Rhyming Bamboo looks so intimidating but I got to get started on that. Not likely tomorrow which might be a washout according to the forecast. Hoping I might be able to at least pull some more weeds.

Got to do some ruthless thinning of plants to open up the pond more. Going to cut the Royal Ferns to the ground like I did the Hammock Fern in the greenhouse. The latter is already coming back and is going to need cut off again. The objective is to stunt the ferns by repeatedly cutting them back and hopefully get more compact growth that won’t overwhelm everything else around them. I like to have open areas in the greenhouse for earthstars and other small plants and want to be able to see the pond again looked down from the woods garden. And to see the rock garden plants and the rock work. Would like to get it as it was back in the beginning when you could see lots of rock. No point in having it if it’s going to be overgrown with the more aggressive plants I planted plus the weeds.

It’s obviously going to be a life long battle.

Did enchiladas and rice for dinner and saved the leftovers for another meal to take to work along with the stir fry from the weekend. Got a long stretch of 8s & 12s thru the weekend and then a mix of off and on days and a couple classes and then I think second vacation week starting the following weekend. Maybe I can get things in order by then and be able to enjoy it too.

The Creeping African Violet and the aquarium plant order are coming and should be here this week. I’ll probably tuck the violet into the rock face and let it stay there when I dismantle the Table. Not going to shut down the grow lights like I did last summer because that caused some set backs with some of the plants that remained in the Room. And I didn’t save much on the electric bill either. Got another one today in the neighborhood of $80 and I’ve got a few more shop lights going now. What I haven’t got is a functioning hot water heater. And I don’t miss it much at all this time of year. When I do replace it I’m definitely going tankless!

7/1/21—12:30 PM

Was late going to sleep. Nearing daybreak with more rumbling of thunder. That gave way to steady rain that lasted until late morning shortly after I got up.

The African Violet came while I was contemplating a walk up the pond to pick some “Shiitake mushrooms” I discovered growing out of a log yesterday. I hurried out to meet the delivery man halfway after hearing a roll up door of the truck and was surprised that it was UPS.

That means the aquarium plants coming by Fed X are still coming. They usually come earlier in the day.

Saintpaulia mangungensis arrived in a small box wrapped in a Chinese newspaper. First though was San Francisco but the address is in New York. They also have Chinatowns. Can’t read a word of it except a few lines that are in Roman script English here and there. I’ll probably save it for the novelty like I did the row of stamps with Ghandi that came on the box of husky fiber from Sri Lanka.

Got to order another one of those.

Went up to check out the mushrooms discovered in the woods garden after googling images of Shiitake with the aim of frying them for a second leg of breakfast after oatmeal.

I don’t think so. They look nothing like Shiitake. Just because they came out of a log I had inoculated with the same years ago does not mean anything and mistakes with mushrooms can be fatal. I was actually surprised to see them coming out of a log that had been depleted years ago. Probably some native species and it may even be edible but I don’t want to take a chance and don’t have time for research to identify so I’ll leave them be.

Turtle Lagoon is a mess again and needs cleaning. The Iris brevicaulis is fading.

Retention pond has a fair amount of water in it. I should use some of it to fill the barrel by the compost piles and start making compost or manure tea to feed plants as I start getting more proactive in the maintenance of this site. Not much time left for that today. If I’m lucky I’ll have just enough time to situate the new Violet in the Florida Room and maybe put the Blackbandeds out in the breeding tub.

It’s the first day of July and it’s now or never for that and many other things.

7/2/21—11:28 PM

In after a nice evening coming home from work and a really good Takeout dinner from a Japanese restaurant in Giant Eagle Plaza in Latrobe.

It was my default decision after deciding the New City Buffet was a bit too much and too far out of the way as my 11 to 7P shift was nearing an end. It was the recommendation of one of the nurses along with a couple Chinese restaurants in the area. One of those I have gotten stuff from before. I wanted a place that had crab rangoons and I thought the one of the platter dishes they had was worth trying to see what this place is worth.

And I’m glad I did. Got the steak and shrimp hibachi with the Miso soup and a side order of crab rangoons. A bit pricy at $23 but was worth the expense and it was a lot faster than the Edo Hibachi and better than gorging myself at the buffet and having heart burn all night long. And it was a good practice run for the perfect evening after one of these shifts like today. Next time I’ll get it right by placing my order before going to the pet shop in that same plaza like I did—wasting precious time. And that turned out to be a fruitless endeavor as there were no good pieces of cork or other cage furnishings. It was a 15 minute wait during which I decided with the sun still above the horizon that I’d rather not waste the remaining daylight going through Walmart. I put that off until Monday so I could make a quick run into Giant Eagle to grab a gallon of milk and loaf of rye, pick up my order and make a quick stop by Lowe’s to do a payment and make it home with maybe enough day left to do something.

Got three pots of that dwarf mondo grass to expand the ground cover planting on the East end of the greenhouse and made for home. Encountering a deer that could have been a disasterville had I not been paying attention and a spectacular sunset on the crest of the hill above Kecksburg—missing photo opportunities for both. I need to turn off that facial recognition setting on the phone so I can take pictures on the fly. It’s also a pain at work when I’m wearing a mask and trying to set my timer for a swab I’m running or something.

First blooms of the Alpha Centauri daylily greeted me coming in near dusk. Sure sign the 4th is near.

Ditto for the Son La Hitchhiker Elephant Ear starting out in the greenhouse. I would have a more detailed write up about the other late emerging exotic plants coming out of the ground but I just wiped out the text as fatigue is setting in. So a shorter version before I do it again.

7/4/21—12:44 AM

Good day today after the time crunch getting out of here and an almost sleepless night that left not much time for anything in the morning. ER was mercifully slow being short on hands though there was a flurry of action right at the end of the shift starting with a lady hopping in the door on one foot like a human pogo stick, followed closely by another one barely able to walk because of a hip injury. Then a couple of ambulances including a stroke patient and another one coming through the front door who got injured by a firework. As soon as it quieted down I hightailed it’s out of there while the getting was good!

Great news when I glimpsed at the journal as I stirred early this morning. Neil and Ken are both back in the saddle and TLE is still in business! Makes this 4th of July way more upbeat than the last year when I wrote an article about fearing for my country even though many of those fears are now coming to pass. It’s good to have them back and a least a little more time to publish articles—just like having a little time left to finish and enjoy the Room before the GND renders that untenable along with life as we know it in general.

The pics from last night.

Blackbanded tank.

Pulled out all the Jungle Val yesterday morning and was going to plant the corkscrew in its place but put that off until last night. Saved another portion for a planter to go outside so all my eggs are not in one basket.

Taller plant in the center of the tank is the Spiral Crypt

Gave white worms a feeding of tetra fish food to gut load them for another feeding this morning.

Female Marsupial Frog was up last night so I fed her a Dubia at bedtime and another later on when I got up to visit the bathroom. She’s plumping up so I’m hoping to breed her. May be last chance.

Got another day of the ER to look forward to, then off for a couple. I’ll celebrate then. Will also put off anything ambitious until then also. Already this morning is slipping away so I got to get moving and out of here.

7/7/21—3:13 PM

So much for quenching the Dry Belt.

The rain here keeps getting pushed back. When I checked several hours ago ; storm systems predicted for late evening fell apart and the next chance was around 1 PM tomorrow. Now there’s a 30 to 40 percent chance later tonite. My vacation next week could be wet. But warm enough to make Heat Miser happy. 70s & 80s all week.

My major projects were plant oriented. A gradual osmosis of getting the new peperomias worked into the rock facing of the Table and other things up to the greenhouse over the course of the day while I watered and fed plants. Rescued the baby Hand Ferns from the bromeliad pot and gave them lots of their own. One by one I soaked the Thanksgiving Cacti in a bucket to soften up the soil around the roots and carried them to the greenhouse to blast the roots clean with the hose and replanted those in plugs of coconut fiber and moss and put them back in their pond basket hanging planters and they are on the back porch again with the True Christmas Cactus that I did a few days ago. Moved the Hitchhiker Elephant Ear which has produced a single enormous leaf to the back of the greenhouse with the Boston Ferns where it will be less likely to dry out. Will move it up to the other site to hang above the CBT pen in a few weeks when it produces a few more leaves.

The female Florida Boxie dropping eggs in the pen was an unexpected discovery. Managed to recover two that were undamaged. This prompted a run to the brickyard to get a couple buckets of sand and 6 more blocks to continue the border of the bed around the front porch.

Did that and tidied up the area some more.

Also took a look at the tractor.

I had a dream when I fell back to sleep in the morning about fixing the problem which was a broken belt. While working with the blocks I decided I had better check it out as I vowed I would do when I awoke from the dream.

Who says dreams can’t come true!

This one did—almost. In reality the belt jumped the track which may be a be even easier fix than replacing a broken one. Then again maybe not. I tried and couldn’t get it back on but I think if I can I might have a working tractor again. Ran out of day before I could try again but I will tomorrow. It’s just a matter of stretching it enough to get it back on that pulley and then hope it will stay on for a while. Long enough to cut around the house again at least.

Had my taco dinner. Was going to do some work in the Room but like most nights anymore I’m getting too tired. So I’ll just put the lights out and go to bed and try to get up earlier in the morning. I’d like to at least get the remaining blocks to finish that job and maybe cut grass tomorrow. That would make my day.

Getting most of the loose plants dealt with made today. That opens the way to working on the rock facing in the Room.

7/7/21—addendum

Planted the Violet

Failed to get the belt on the pulley. It’s just too difficult to stretch. However I got more blocks from the brickyard and finished the border for the bed around the front porch.

Need a couple more pieces but it came out nicely.

7/28/ 21—10:04 PM

Breakthrough today.

Got the tractor running long enough to cut some of the grass before the deck belt broke.

It had been a simple fix after flumdiddling all day and a brief runabout to Tractor Supply and Walmart just to see what might be available. Nothing at all so it was back home to see what I might be able to do with the belt while considering the guy on Kecksburg Hill. Yes I was still considering shagging my tail and buying a new one. This may be a bad time of year to do that as local inventories are probably low or even sold out. So I was contemplating shifting the PTO lever to see if it would make the belt loose enough to slip on to the pulley. And it did.

I got around to trying that after whacking the weeds and wisteria that’s encroaching on my lane since l have an animal delivery pending. Shifted the lever forward to disengage and the belt was loose enough to get it back on the pulley easily. And it tightened up when I shifted back to engage the blades. Figured it worth a try so I put gas in so I could cut without having to stop and keep engaging and disengaging the blades. Hooked up the battery terminals and it started without issue and I was able to get most of the grass around the front of the house before the belt snapped.

Obummer what a bummer!

At least I got it going and can again once the belt is replaced.  This makes up somewhat for a day that could have been better.

Fed fish at the pond. Tomorrow is feeding day so I’ll try to get that in the morning. Guess I should stop at Lowe’s where I got my tractor and see if I can get a belt there. Then I can study the videos more and get familiar with the process of taking the deck off.

Lycoris sanguinea is blooming. Definitely lives up to the name “Surprise Lily” as it was a surprise to see it blooming. Another sign the season is moving on.

Going to do a SeaQuest burger with a side of shrimp and no fries. And fry the burgers because it’s too much time and bother to mess with charcoal this late.

7/28/21—11:04 AM

Another possible lead. The tractor guy near Kecksburg.

Snapped a pic on the way. I may stop there in the near future but I’m going to try fixing it myself. I might see if they could do it if I took my deck off and transported it as Ray suggests. Or maybe the other guy that Lor recommended. Yet I’d rather keep mine a while longer. The problem is the belt and that’s an easy fix regardless whether I do it or someone else.

Getting Refocused

8/1/21—shortly after midnight

Happiness is a Philly cheesesteak at the end of a good day!

Homemade too.

It was not as productive as it should have been. Especially after losing yesterday to dealing with the car problem that took all morning to get the vehicle assessed and repairs set up.

I hit a deer again!

Took it to the shop in town. There’s always more damage than meets the eye when you look at it at night with a flashlight. As you can see even the hood is affected and will have to be replaced. $4,000 + in damage. $100 deductible and I’ll have to pay up front for the rental when I get it and be reimbursed later. I’m taking it easy this weekend and staying home. The car is drivable but I’m going to baby it until I get it in the shop to be on the safe side keeping driving to a minimum.

8/1/21—7:01 PM

I’m always grateful for the hemispheric thermal lag in the fall—though it sucks often in the spring when winter is slow to depart or the vortexes invade to burn and melt tender new growth or compel me to cover or move plants out of harm’s way.

Made it up to the pond finally going on 6:30 PM. Got water changes done on the Blackbandeds and Dollars and fed turts in the Room before getting the kitchen tanks done and using waste water to water and feed the jungle cacti and other plants on the back porch. Then located the black hose to run around to the garage door and connect to the Python tubing on the patio and connect that to the same tubing with the hook fitting used for the kitchen tanks and did the tubs and the waste water I dipped out went to the figs and other patio plants.

Then I fed the fish at the pond site and brought up the rubber feed tubs recovered from the garage to sit them out in the weather to get any oil residue washed off by the rain so I can use them in the pond. I’m going to start shifting the larger lilies and spatterdocks from fab pots back to those so I can feed them with pond tabs on a regular basis and not have the fertilizer leaching into the pond.

Brought a bucket of sand up to refresh the nesting areas in the JPT pen and the open pen where the one female nested last year. I’m going to try putting the females out for the day this week in case it’s not too late for nesting.

Yes it is August and time to deploy the second treatment of barley straw. Got to do that now before the rains set in. Looks like they could at any time.

Found another Aussie made filter box from the old days. That makes 3. I think I had four and one of them got destroyed. I’ll put this one in the pond to season it and then it will go to a future turtle setup.

8/11/21—10:03 PM

Weather turned stormy while I was in the Room this afternoon feeding and taking care of the water changes.

Finally got the new rain barrel duo filled. After the rain I fed the turts at both sites outside and tended the greenhouse. Another round was rumbling in the area but it skipped here. Things cleared up nicely by evening when I took a spin into town to get a belt at the hardware store.

Hoping it will fit. Going to try it as soon as I get up the nerve to remove the deck. I’m going to study the tutorials on You Tube a little more until I’m familiar with the structure and process. I’m almost there.

8/14/21—2:45 PM

After some struggle I got the deck off and pulled out to do the belt replacement.

Disconnecting the deck itself from the undercarriage by pulling the pins was easy. It was the PTO cable that gave me the most trouble and I’m dreading the ordeal of reconnecting it at the end of the job because the spring is very tight and hard to work with. I also disconnected another spring in the process by mistake and was about ready to throw up my hands and start looking for help again. That was unexpected and I was confused and afraid I might not be able to get things reconnected right and really mess up the machine. I figured that spring which wasn’t mentioned in the videos hooked somewhere between two points on the deck and I might be able to figure it out once I pulled the whole thing out into the open.

As I was about to proceed the Allstate claims photographer who was coming out to get a set of pictures of the damage on the car called to inform that he was unable to get into my place because the grass in the median strip of the lane was too high. So I had to drive down and meet him at the cemetery. And the day which started out unexpectedly dreary was starting to turn drizzly so I threw the tarp back over the tractor before leaving.

The sun finally came out in ernest when I parked on the pull off at the cemetery. Now the day is looking more like the original prediction. The guy took pictures. They will be able to compare with the ones taken the day after at the body shop. Surprisingly there is still yet a little deer hair left on the fender after a week of driving and weathering.

Slid the deck out upon my return.

A closeup of the spring I mistakenly disconnected. I’m pretty sure this was how it goes so I reconnected it and will check sources to make sure before putting the deck back on. This is a good opportunity for cleaning before putting on the belt so I’ll get the shop vac and a bucket of soapy water and if I can find it / some car wax to polish and buff it.

There’s also the matter of a missing spindle pulley guard that fell off a few years ago at the greenhouse site.

It’s still there where I set it by the Gulf Coast pen. I’m surprised they didn’t replace it when the machine was in the shop last time. I may have to do without for now because it looks like part of it broke off and is still attached to the deck.

Noticed the pink lily that was supposed to be a white variety called “Alaska” is blooming again and the lotus are in bud and the jointed rushes are starting to take off. I’m hoping today is going to be the tipping point where I finally get beyond the current impasses and start moving ahead again.

Will know in just a little bit.

6:19 PM

Now I’m fracking stuck again for the want of the proper ratchet and head needed to get the blade spindle cover off!

Of course these issues always have to emerge on a Saturday evening when the hardware stores are starting to close. I’m throwing in the towel for the day.

I’m on the verge of giving up altogether because I’m scared to death to run this thing after I do get it back together least something isn’t in the right place and ends up breaking. I really need another set of hands and more importantly someone who knows how everything works to make sure I’m doing it right.

This is so humiliating to be stalled by such a mundane problem. It’s a matter of getting going forward with things and continuing the process that was ongoing when I was tidying up while doing the Florida Room.

Get all my tools organized and have a place for them. It’s a catch 22 situation. Was hoping out of the chaos I might be able to find the right fittings for the job and salvage them for that special bag I was going to put together for this particular machine.

I’m just rambling. Going to have to call it a day because now I’m so wound up and at the same time mentally fatigued that it will be better to put things back together in the morning when I’m fresher.

8/16/21—2:25 PM

Fast forward two days.

The way things are going I’m afraid this tipping point will be into madness.

I’m already cackling like a madman because as the job reaches the home stretch I’m hitting resistance from smallest and most simple of things. Weather turned wet again. I overcame that by moving the job into the garage.

With the door open and an artificial light source I have a dry place to work.

Had to loosen the belt pulleys. No way around that. Used a couple simple wrenches from the kit Bruce gave me as a gift. One to hold the nut below the pulley and one to loosen the top to give enough wiggle room to get the belt past the small metal guard. That was surprisingly easy.

I’m a little worried about the belt rubbing on the spring hook or guard. This is where I wish I had someone experienced with tractor repair on site for guidance in real-time.

Now , where I hit major resistance was in trying to put the deck back on. Moving to the garage was a smart move because it’s easier to slide the deck on a concrete surface than gravel driveway and grass. But now I’m having a helluva time reattaching it with the collection of bow tie clips and a cotter pin. The latter was an odd fitting holding the left side rear deck attachment and I’m guessing it was a default for lack of the proper clip last time the machine was in the shop. I’m thinking of taking a break from this ordeal and run out to get a bunch of new ones to replace and have some spares. And take care of other business like exchanging the pump I got yesterday.

Maybe I’ll get this finished today and find out if will work. That will decide whether I keep this thing a little longer or replace with a new one.

5:08 PM

I did it!

Decided to go ahead and try reattaching the deck with what I have on hand and see if it would run. Figured it better than spending any more money on this project if it failed. With a flashlight it was easier to get the cotter pin into the first attachment. The bow ties are easier still. Reconnecting the PTO cable was a bitch. Found it easier to work from the right side of the machine than it the left as Mark from Youtube did. Also glad I didn’t have to remove the belt guard which involved a ratchet up underneath in the video. The other end which pops out was actually dislocated so it was easy to slip the belt past it to the engine pulley and then just pop the end of the guard back into the hole it goes in on the frame.

Still there was much doubt. I was expecting a disasterville because I had lots of bad feelings about the hardware and didn’t trust my workmanship. Mechanical stuff was never my cup of tea. I could never get a rebuilt lawnmower engine to run in Industrial Arts class in Jr High.

Yet it worked after I backed it out of the garage and engaged the blades.

It was starting to sprinkle again so I decided to give it a quick shakedown to see how it holds up. I cut the whole way around the house and it functioned without issue. Even went up behind the trailer and turned around to make a good path.

And there you have it. A successful first run. Glad I don’t have to go buy a new one yet. It runs pretty good and I’m confident that if I made a mistake and something goes wrong I should be able to fix it. This is my first major repair of a mechanical system; a milestone!

Then I think I’ll celebrate and grab some dinner at the China Buffett.

Looking like the rest of the day may be a washout as I just ran out and covered the Troy. Might be able to get some up by the greenhouse if it lets up before dusk. Or do it tomorrow between the raindrops. It looks wet through much of the week.

The silver lining in that will be getting the pond filled to capacity and running the watercourse again!

8/1821—2:35 AM

Another good day.

Cleaned out the bed by the cellar door. Lifted and shifted the Alpha Centauri day lily out a little so I can move the barrel to center it a little better under the downspout. Lifted and divided the Iris sanguinia and replanted three clumps in the bed. A lot leftover which I’ll use for propagation.

Then went over that area with the mower and also cut up by the greenhouse.

Palmettos really rock now!

8/19/21—11:45 AM

Just as things were looking up ; another setback. The power went out this morning again as I was getting ready to get up and about. It had been out sometime yesterday too as the clock on the stove was flashing. This is the Achilles heel of the Florida Room and sobering reminder how much we depend on grid power. Also worrisome that this could become more frequent if we let the government which couldn’t get Afghanistan right after 20 years of occupation call the shots for the sourcing of energy supply and maintenance of grid infrastructure.

Would like to get some detailed news on the situation but can’t find any up to date website. Did find some nasty reviews for the power company but I’m thinking it is from customers that had an isolated bad experience or are just irate by nature as I’m pretty satisfied with my service. Power outages so far have been infrequent and of limited duration during the warmer months. My greatest dread is one that might go on for several days during extreme cold weather. One of the reasons I automatically oppose the GND and anyone who wants to mess around with the energy supply without having an actual working solution that is just as good and reliable as what they might be replacing. Natural disasters can’t be helped but bad policies will make us more vulnerable and make the natural ones worse than what they might otherwise be.

I hope they get the current situation resolved soon. Either going to have to go out or eat or have cold cereal. Sucks that I have no light in the Room. Might be a good time to do some more mowing. And save my phone battery.

3:16 PM

Power back on finally. Around 2 o clock going on 3.

This morning I did my bills and dropped them off at the PO and made a side trip to touch base with the body shop. I have my check from the insurance company but there still no openings before my September 27th appointment. I was going to hit the drive thru at McDonalds which didn’t look too bad but the warning light on my dash chimed. Gas low so I defaulted to the Get Go nearby and got my lunch there which I ordered and paid for before pumping gas.

When I got home the power was still out so I made my way through the tangled underbrush of the wooded strip to the neighbor’s place and talked to him. Their power was out too and that was a relief. At least it was a grid problem and not a blown fuse at my place. Word was that the outage is pretty widespread across the township and should be restored by PM—a few hours overdue. I took the longer way home by way of the road instead of cutting though the woods and when I walked into the kitchen I found the clock on the stove was flashing and the light inside the refrigerator came on when I opened the door.

HURRAH!

The sub was good but expensive. It’s now $12 for a 6” with a drink and fries. Getting closer to the $10 Big Mac!

A lot of ideas are swimming in my head. This was a close brush with disasterville. I was thinking of evacuating the plants from the Room to the Greenhouse and just pull out the Table and start modifications after the power was restored. Might as well start doing that anyway but first I’ll get on the tractor and cut some more and try to get the new Weed Eater running. Outdoor work is fertile ground for the imagination.

The Last Month of Summer

8/26/21—10:37 PM

Ray complains that summer is coming to an end. Tell me about it!

Still lagging. Took me all day to get outside and do something.

Gave the new weed trimmer a good first run around the back side of the house.

It works great but my extension was too short so I had to continue with the hand snippers and then I weeded out the beds. Had to don rubber gloves to pull out the poison ivy near the corner that keeps coming back. But I’m getting a handle on it. Going to try to mulch that bed in the near future and continue around the front of the patio which needs major weeding and shrub trimming. I have barrels on the corners to get situated better and maybe expand into a bank like I have at the greenhouse. Which will provide a water source for the beds and patio plants in dry weather.

Was going to run the mower to chop up the weeds but thunder was rumbling so I made my way to the pond to toss pellets to the fish and feed the Euro Pond 5 loaded crawlers before the rain set in.

Shifted to the Room where I did a little feeding and watering.

Put some of the Ferns and spikemosses out to get washed off by the rain like I did some of the other plants. Here I have Selaginella plana : Cypress Spikemoss , Doryopteris pedata : Hand Fern. A planter of Doryopteris concolor: Antenna Fern with Rosy Maidehair ferns : Adiantum hispidulum that germinated from spore. And a Selaginella pallescens : Pale Spikemoss.

The bed there is looking good. Dwarf palmettos are doing great here with feedings of grass clippings, coffee grounds and eggshells. The plant on the opposite side of the stairwell has three bloom stalks forming berries I hope to harvest this fall.

I repositioned the three clumps of Iris sanguinia to make a better colony in front of the day lily. In the process I found some Asian wiggly worms which the two Florida Boxies in the Room love and gave some to the sliders and baby muds too. I’m thinking about my next step here. Want to get a load of river rock delivered so I can do this bed in one fail swoop. And I’m going to get as bunch of 6”x6” pavers to form a small pad in the area between the edge of the stairwell and where the curve of the block edging begins. Dimensions to be determined by the area that gets missed during mowing.

At least I did something. I need to do more. Winter is coming and there is still a lot of unfinished business here and a Big Crunch looming in addition to the uncertain state of the world.

8/29/21—7:19 PM

A lot of rumbling this evening but not much in the way of rain.

So goes life in the Dry Belt.

Finally got around to running the tractor to cut some of the grass again. Took a while to find the bicycle pump that I left in the grass on the upper edge of the shrub belt above the greenhouse when I was cutting last week. Lucky it was not ruined from being left out in the weather. The two tires on the left (front and back) have slow leaks that always need pumping before use. Once I get all the grass cropped again I’ll take them in for repair or replacement. That was something I planned on doing right after I got it running after the wet gas issue was resolved but ended up on the back burner when the other issue made the future of the machine uncertain.

So glad I was able to resolve that without having to replace an expensive machine. And feels so good to be able to keep up with the grass again. I ran around the house and apple tree and the vegetable garden cutting the yards in a more or less continuous loop that varied from time to time.

I’m leaving the area near the cellar stairwell that I can’t get with a simple sweep of the mower untouched so I know where to put the paver blocks to form a small pad that I won’t have to cut.

From an old roll of weed barrier I cut a piece to underlay the pavers and I’ll put a couple inches of sand under that for leveling and drainage. Then put the blocks on the fabric and sweep more sand into the joints to fill those. Will cut a little more weed barrier so I can go uphill a couple more feet to have a paved surface that I can run over while mowing and not have to use the weed eater so much.

I’ll use the dirt removed from the dig to fill in and level this area along the edging blocks where I’ll reestablish the grass by transplanting the turf plus reseeding.

I’ve done nicely with the area by the corner of the back porch. The autumn crocus are now blooming and I can appreciate them much better now that the bed has been cleaned up.

Florida Room looking good. Like high noon in there while it was a dark and gloomy late afternoon outside with storm clouds moving in. That started while I was flumdiddling again inside. Decided I better get out and do a quick runabout feeding the turts and pond fish in case the incoming storms don’t abate this evening. They did abate but for a while it was looking like not only a washout but maybe a pretty rough hunker down in my house riding out severe weather.

Got both sites taken care of and even watered the greenhouse plants and the storms moved on missing my place—except for a few teasing showers brief in duration. So goes life in the Dry Belt.

8/31/21: 1:31 PM

Got off easy last night. It died down and I got to go home early. 1A instead of 3A. Was not going to say no to that. Never the less it took me a while to get to sleep and didn’t get going til late morning. Ordered some bromeliads for the empty spaces in the frog tanks and got breakfast. Not going to get much else done today because of the time crunch and weather. It’s beginning.

The first waves of rain from approaching tropical storm Ida. Aimed right at us and I learned last night we could get 5 inches of rain out of this one. That will drench the Dry Belt for sure and break the drought. But also saturate the ground which complicates delivery of oil a d firewood. My oil supplier called asking if I was interested in delivery. I’m thinking of doing it with the stipulation that the truck is guided in and out carefully. Would have been better if I could have done this a few weeks ago when it was dry. That damned tractor problem threw all my summer plans out of whack.

Going to try to toss the turts some pellets before I go since the rain let up. Last chance until the storm passes because tomorrow looks to be a washout.

9/1/21—1:37 PM

It’s incoming. Rain started while I was at work. Looks like steady rain all night and all day tomorrow. Sucks that this off day is destined to be a washout. I work again the next day and then have one off. At least that one will be sunny.

Biggest worry right now is a power outage from high winds and falling try. Hoping that won’t happen because I’d like to at Least enjoy the FL Room if I’m stuck inside all day.

I’ll reserve Further comments and speculations for tomorrow.

9/2/21—1:33 AM

It was a flop.

The storm peetered out about mid day. No gushing brook in the hollow but the pond is full. In a way it’s better that the ground does not get too saturated because. I’d like it to dry out by the time I get oil. Probably going to use the card so I can just get the tanks filled before something happens—a hurricane trashes the refineries on the gulf coast, terrorists decide to blow up a tanker or hackers shut down a pipeline again. On top of the ongoing Biden disasterville. Or Bidenville Disaster?

Had a fairly decent day for a change. Have two orders of plants shipping and the vivarium tidied up and Texas Cichlids have fry in the pipe where I figured they were trying to nest. Going to have to figure out what to do with those. Should I transfer the fry to a rearing tank or just let the parents raise them?

Did a good feeding of the baby gulfs with loaded red worms in addition to getting the ones at the greenhouse site and Florida Boxies and Striped Muds. Have zooplankton and pinkies thawing. Got to get to those and put away the leftover shrimp fried rice for tomorrow. Might try to pull off some of the water changes because I’m working tomorrow. But it’s getting late.

Friday

9/3/21—2:33 PM

One day off before another weekend of 12 hour shifts so I got to make this one count. It was another chilly night here. First time I ran the furnace in months and to my relief it ran well without issues. The previous night was a bit uncomfortable and I had just fed the snakelings so I didn’t want to upset their digestion and end up with regurgitation issues or getting off feed or pneumonia.

My aspiration to become a morning person again continues to elude me. This morning I lingered in bed til noon in order to finish the audiobook of Heinlein’s “Double Star” that I’ve been doing to and from work and in bed after getting home. Had to do the last few chapters over because I fell asleep on it last night. Really good story about an actor hired to impersonate a kidnapped politician from Mars. It and “The Rolling Stones” are now among my top favorites of that author alongside “Starman Jones”, “Have Spacesuit Will Travel” and “Door into Summer”.

Want to do an article on some of these.

The thing that got me up and going was the arrival of the two packages of bromeliads ordered earlier this week. It’s always impressive how they get here so quick. Out of concern that Labor Day weekend is approaching I clicked the tracking numbers on both and found the had been delivered.

From the first box was Vriesia racinae, Vr saundersoni and a Billbergia hybrid “Darth Vader”!

From the second: Vr guttata “Dark Clone” and a robust form of Billbergia nutans.

Put them into the catch barrel to rehydrate. Both growers shipped their plants as bare root offsets which suits me fine because they are good to go strait into husky fiber culture in net pots—my preferred method for tank type bromeliads. Then I’ll arrange them in the various setups I want them to go into before putting them in a milk crate flat in the greenhouse to get them rooted before they go permanently in the setups or the rock facing—wherever I ultimately decide.

Thinking back over the last several days. A busy affair at work. Patients in the waiting room. In hallway beds. That night when I did 7P to 3A we had a disgruntled patient call us some kind of bitches on the way out the door and wished we get covid and die. And my back was slowly getting better but yesterday my joints—left hip and both knees were killing me at times. It abated after sitting down for dinner break and more so after I moved to the back station where I can sit more often between tasks. That’s actually the best place to finish the final leg of a long shift.

Oh I could go on about the trials and tribulations and good things that make up for them at work along with all the plans I have for the near future. But I need to get cracking on some of those today because the season will soon be coming to a close and I can’t afford to get caught in a crunch. Not the way things are these days.

Got off easy with tropical storm Ida but there may be others and who knows what winter will bring. Got to survive that and the remaining 3 years of Jimmy Carter 2.0. However I just read an article that argues Carter was nowhere as bad as Biden. In many ways he was sunk by bad luck and resistance from behind. Much like Donald Trump he was a political outsider. But at least Carter was playing with a full deck. The guy we got now is just a puppet fronting for the hard Left. And when he did have a full deck he was still nowhere as nice a guy as Jimmy Carter. He’s like the demented Jim Crow bigot commander of the Navy Diving School in a well known movie who busted Master Chief Billy Sunday for letting a black man graduate. Just enough brain left in his head to be vindictive and dangerous.

But I digress.

One footnote: Jimmy Carter did two really great things for the world. Brokered lasting peace between Egypt and Israel. And founded the charitable organization known as Habitat for Humanity. I don’t know of anything that Joe Biden has done in his half century of holding public office other than filling his pockets and helping to spend the nation into oblivion.

9/5/21—6:44 AM

Start of a sad day at Black Rock.

Awaking at 5ish somewhere near the ending of Heinlein’s Door onto Summer which I started on the drive home last night and fell asleep on somewhere shortly after the protagonist awakes from cold sleep—I decided to check the Enterprise like I often do on an early Sunday morning to see what published. And sadly I learn that El Neil is gone from this world. Passed about a week ago. Given his not so good health history and age I figured this day was coming sooner or later but I always hoped it would be later.

I wish someone would have told me because I really owe this man a good obituary for the way he’s touched my life above and beyond his role as an award winning SF author. As a great champion of Liberty , mentor and friend who will be sorely missed in the coming days of these uncertain times. I’m hoping this is not the end of the Enterprise because I’d at least like to write a belated tribute to him.

I’m going to roll over and rest on it to catch a few more winks before getting going for work. The show must go on.

9/6/21—2:13 PM

The passing of El Neil resulted in a lot of conversations with Ray about old times. One of those threads centered on a mutual friend and mentor in the fish hobby : the late great B.G Grainer of Louisiana who passed several years before.

I first met him in 1998 at the national convention of the native fishes association in Chattanooga . A lot of good memories there. I’d been trading with for a while. He brought along with him from my first batch of Bantam Sunfishes he promised me after sending me some Western Dollars to make me happy in the meantime earlier that season. I remember when we were watching a young lady snorkeling in the shallows of the Connasaga River he remarked how nice she looked in that wetsuit! I really liked him. He looked impressively big and robust but had a grandfatherly voice and demeanor like a kinder , gentler version of Big Bob. And less preoccupied with making a fast Buck like Lucky Chuck the Snake Man. Those guys were curmudgeons three! That would be a great title for an article in TLE that Neil would have loved—being he had a high regard for curmudgeons—I recall from his novel “Forge of the Elders”. I’m saddened by the fact I missed the opportunity to write it for him and the readership. Maybe I’ll still do it someday.

As for the remembrance; I was shocked when Ray described BGs tragic last days drowning his frustrations with life and the world in alcohol to the point of physically destroying himself. The inverse of Chuck who joined AA and got cleaned up because he was tired of customers robbing him while he was passed out drunk on the couch. BG ended tragically. But sometimes that’s life and we just have to accept that which has already happened for what it is and treasure the good. To paraphrase a critic who reviewed one of the Draka novels by S.M. Stirling : BG “Cajun” Grainier was definitely a character as real in his flaws as he was in his greatness.

And I’m still real in my flaws pissing the day away. Just as bad as yesterday when I laid in bed all morning hitting the snooze button on the phone time and time again leaning just enough time for breakfast on the way out the door. Not a bad day at work though the covid cases are increasing again. Did my first two curbside swabs of hospital employees who reported symptoms. A coworker said something about theory that the virus was going to keep mutating until it kills us all. I find that disturbing even though I think it’s unlikely to impossible. Like Big Bob’s prediction that the pollution we’ve already put out is inevitably going to destroy all life on Earth no matter what we do from here on. I think he had a touch of nihilism being unhappy with his own life. I’ve seen that a lot in environmentalism and left wing populism in general. As well as Christian millenarianism. People who are bitter about their own lives often crave some kind of apocalyptic judgement to be poured out on the world to punish the success and prosperity they see around them. And they often get downright offended if anyone says it’s not going to happen.

Well past midday I finally had a light breakfast in anticipation of a Labor Day cookout. Going to do some tidying up and feed critters and maybe a quick shopping trip—not necessarily in that order before I fire up my grill and try to celebrate.

Or at least relax while I get ready for the next leg of my journey to the undiscovered country of the future.

9/10/21—12:15 PM

Was chilly last night. Down to 64 in the living room. Probably 40s outside. Ran the oil furnace a while to boost the temp and make sure is was still in working order before the delivery and shut it down when the truck arrived.

Ironically my greatest worry regarding the entry point where the driver caught on the edge of the hardtop going out was not an issue this time. But a near disasterville happened when the truck got stuck backing up about 30 feet short of the finish line where they stop to unfurl the hose.

They brought in a tow truck which stayed out on the hard top road and pulled the tanker out with a long cable. Delivery was in doubt but they decided to give it another try with a spotter to back the driver in and that was successful. Then came the next nail biter—getting the truck out again without catching on the edge of the hardtop and this time he made it out without incident.

$919.45 for 396.5 gallons. And the tanks are filled to capacity. But now I have my work cut out for me. The resolution of the drainage issue from the swampy area above the turnaround just became a front burner project.

This is a problem that Grampa and Uncle Budd solved long ago that was undone by the movement of heavy equipment that destroyed the run of polyethylene pipe they buried to catch the water from a wet weather spring and take it to a discharge point on the lower side of the driveway. It’s a lot like last year’s issue with the water line caused by the same.

At least I got my oil and I’ll be eternally grateful to the company for delivering it after all the trouble. And the solution looks a little easier than last years struggle dealing with the fractured coupling on the water line and NO WATER! My current fix is a shallow ditch dug a couple years ago to catch the water on the upper edge of the turnaround and divert it away. That solves for the most part the ice buildup on the turnaround—though last winter I had some issues with that because the little ditch got disrupted by the ruts from a truck that pulled up into the bank.

So I’m going up a little higher on the flat area above where I’ll dig another trench which I’ll connect to a small ditch behind the site of the old collapsed shed that was the site of the barn that burned down back in the 70s. And I’ll use PVC pipe and a French drain to catch and divert the water.  That will dry up the driveway and avert future problems with deliveries.

Will have to get some stone to fix the damage where the truck got swamped and tore up the edge in addition to building up the entry point. Found my shovel and weed whacker so I’ll work on cutting the touch-me-nots down and start digging the trench this afternoon.

9/14/21

Life after Neil.

In addition to the problem with the oil truck and my other woes I’m still lamenting that.

It’s like life after Mom, Grandma, Big Bob , B.G. or or the regionally renowned herpetologist M. Graham Netting. It really sucks. But it goes on. It must. After starting another  Heinlein audiobook: Stranger in a Strange Land , late breakfast and the morning watering and feeding routine I tackled the prospect of getting rid of the two bags of cement leftover from the stuff I got for the pad under the 150 stand. Slid the first one across the floor on a board and flipped it end over end to get it up the 3 steps and onto a sheet of cardboard to slide all the way to the spot along the lane where the truck got bogged down and put it in the hole. The second I carried there piecemeal because it stated falling apart on the way up the steps. A few trips with a bucket and carried one large piece that remained intact.

And there it is. Two birds with one stone. Now I’m going to try to make a quick run out to feed turts and get lunch in before I depart. Good I got this done today because tomorrow may

Tying up Loose Ends

Fast forward through the remainder of Fall into Winter.

Going on the middle of January 2021 I need to wrap this up for the final draft and publication so I’ll just cherry pick the most substantial events and issues to expedite the narrative.

The Pad Project

One of the most significant highlights of this period was building the pad of small block pavers in front of the cellar stairwell.

Death of an Anthurium

Then there was the acquisition of my Holy Grail plant—Anthurium scherzerianum that nearly completed the original Florida Room collection.

I covered this a little in a recent Florida Room Update.

It bloomed a freak double spathe that I learned was not an uncommon occurrence. It may be the result of growth hormones used during propagation by growers and is said to usually revert to normal flowering over time. However I will never know with this one because right after the bloom faded the leaves began to turn yellow and fall off and the plant developed root rot. I tried in vain to salvage it by cutting off the rhizome several times but the infection was systemic and proved impossible to isolate and the plant was gone not long after Christmas.

Winterizing the Pond

The season was winding down and the Crunch time was approaching along with third vacation week that I normally schedule for late October or sometimes in this case early November to work on getting the ponds and other outdoor assets ready for winter. And this time there was my pending hernia surgery scheduled for the middle of the month.

Hell Day

The Crunch of cleaning and netting the pond was soon followed by Hell Day—my last day before surgery to get any remaining loose ends tied up.

The Great Reset

I was off from my real job for a month. If there is to be a following edition of the Diaries it will begin there as that was the major turning point or “Great Reset” in my life.

In the shorter version I had two major issues troubling me. The necessity of replacing the blower on the outside furnace and a problem with the Modine heater in the greenhouse. I discovered the first item a few days before Hell Day and was planning to take care of it as soon as I had recovered sufficiently to do the work. The latter issue manifested when I came home from my post op follow up appointment and discovered that the Modine was running and it was not shutting down.

Finally got the Honeywell thermostat installed to run the Modine and that solved the problem. I was lucky that it was a problem with the thermostat and not the heater itself and it was just in the nick of time before the shift back to more seasonably cold weather.

In The Grip of the Coldpocalypse

This is where I am now going on the last week of January. Not in as good a place as I’d like to be this time of year with snow and deep cold snaps that are draining my fuel reserves and I’m struggling to keep up with heating my old house.

There is a lot more to write about in regard to how I got here but I need to finish up what was supposed to be last year’s edition so I can get on with things. So I won’t be the last one after all. That is if I don’t freeze to death in the meantime. There will be overlap with the end days of this one to cover a few significant events worthy of inclusion here that I don’t have the time or energy to go back and work them in.

This struggle is getting old and I’m very tired and weary. I hate winter. The next Door Into Summer can’t come soon enough!

Even Tom agrees with me on that.

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