Friday, April 28, 2006



Time to put your screens back up.
At least here in the North it is. Do you even need screens way down south? Aren’t they overkill for your mammoth sized insects. If a bug flies into the house don’t you just catch it in a net and release it back into the wild? Or perhaps name it and adopt it? (and I suppose in Maine screens are simply pointless. Just keep the windows closed and cover yourself in netting.)

Anyway… In the late fall you should take your screens down for a multitude of good reasons.
a. You will be surprised at how much your house brightens up when you take them down. This is very beneficial in the low light of the winter.
b. When it snows, snow will stick to the screens reducing visibility as well as ambient light.
c. It gives you an opportunity to wash the windows and inspect the caulking etc twice a year (when you take them down and put them back)
d. Over the years leaving screens in place will start to permanently dull and stain your windows.
e. It allows you to give the screens a good washing before putting them back up in the spring which really helps alleviate the problem mentioned above.

So … now is the time to put your screens back in. The bugs are waking up and its warm enough to take the screens outside to hose them off and wipe them down with a mild solution of soap and water. Give the windows a wash inside and out, wash out the sill area (filthy window sills…ick). Make sure any exterior caulking is in good shape. Also be sure the window operates smoothly and stays up when opened. If not…fix it!
If you have window treatments it’s also a good time to clean them. Altho I find, with mini blinds or roman shades, if you vacuum them quickly once a month or so – they stay much nicer and you are not burdened with a big mess to clean up annually.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

PTO day 3

the street cleaners are here ! the street cleaners are here !

what luck, huh! I am home and they are here today.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

PTO day 2

Looks like my neighbor across the street is ripping the chimney off their house today.
This is perfect.
Big project ... vicariously.
It costs us nothing, and my chances for injury are very small.

I am planting grass today, and putting the screens in (see, I know you care), both these projects offer a great view of the neighbors roof.

You do take your screens out for winter right?
Hmm, if not you better check back for Friday tip-o-day.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Some years back my company offered the standard two weeks off, and the not-so-standard unlimited sick time.
Evidently, there was some misuse of unlimited-ness of the sick time.
This sort of thing really pisses me off – its just poor form. Hey, there is nothing wrong with the occasional ‘mental health’ day. But I heard through the rumor-mill some folks actually used 20 even 30 sick days in a years time… in addition to their vacation time. Sheesh.
Anyway…leave it to a few to spoil it for the masses. Although I would hardly say it was spoiled for me…more accurately.. I am spoiled.

To fix this problem the company moved to a PTO system – Personal Time Off. This is a merging of vacation time and sick time. The standard allowance for a new employee is something like 20 days. Seems nice enough…eh.
Well … shortly after this change the company then adjusted their fiscal calendar from the standard Jan – Dec to July – June. They did some finagling to make sure everyone was ‘happy’ with their new distribution of PTO time… and for me… just by chance – I ended up with a whole extra pile of days. Add to that the extra week added for being with the company for over 5 years… I have A LOT of time off to use.

So I am home ... till Wednesday.

My project list is unfortunately not interesting enough for pictures this week.
Today I am finishing up some painting in the half bath – not really picture worthy.
But should I go off on a tangent and start putting on an addition, or perhaps digging an in ground pool – I will post some pictures.
Stayed tuned.

Friday, April 21, 2006



If you have the top down on your convertible, don’t park it under a magnolia tree in April… even for a few minutes.

What?… don’t have a convertible, don’t have a magnolia – ok fine... then here is your tip.

Unless you really like yard maintenance, don’t plant these in your yard, and if you already have them... might I suggest cutting them down (my wife is cringing right now).
Magnolia trees – they are stunning in April, but they shed something different with every season requiring a lot of clean up.

Willow trees – you will be picking up branches in a hundred foot radius several times a year.

Wisteria – (altho my green-thumbed wife loves these) they put on a beautiful show in the late spring, and their heady aroma is intoxicating. But they will grow up, over, and on anything they touch. They also grow wildly fast, requiring frequent pruning during the growing season (unless you don't mind them in the house with you). We have one that tries to pull me off the tractor as I drive by.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A man of God

Our pastor stopped in last night – unannounced. It always happens that way with him. When he has a reason to stop by, or to ‘reach out’ as he puts it, he just shows up. He has done this on only a handful of occasions, and I bring this up because over the years this man has made quite an impression on me.

Without getting mired in detail I will just say this for some background. I am not a particularly religious person. I don’t actually belong to this church. This is probably a whole ‘nother blog entry. My wife belongs (altho issues with O&A have left her a little dismayed…again – another blog entry), and our son is very involved and is actually one of the church leaders. (yeah, Ferris by day is a deacon…and by night – well you all know those stories… gotta love that kid).

Anyway… the pastor had heard we were going through some family issues related to our upcoming civil union… and came by to check in on us. This touched me.
So much so in fact, that even tho we were just having dinner and the house was in disarray with dishes and laundry and the general goings-on of a weeknight in full swing – it mattered not. If you know me, this is huge.

This man is full of good stuff. Call it God, call it energy… good karma, call it whatever – but its there, and I sense it each time I am in his presence.
He didn’t stay long but we chatted of civil unions, of Ferris’ impending college departure, we talked of teens and parents, and dogs, and in-laws…
When he left, I felt comforted, I felt enriched, I felt more a part of the community.
I have met few people in my life who impress me as much.
It makes this atheist almost want to go to service on Sundays.

Thanks Pete.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

When indifference turns to violence

Celebrity cooking. You MUST be joking.
I have absolutely no interest in watching celebrities do anything. This new trend in reality TV has just about pushed me over the edge. First they started putting celebrities on deserted islands… aka survivor. But no one was interested, so they tried putting celebrities on all of the other crappy reality shows - like The Amazing Race, or the Mole or some such other nonesense. Then they had them dance (albeit not on a deserted island), then skate, now heaven help us…they are cooking.

And somehow this is more entertaining than watching paint dry?

Are celebrities suddenly hard up for work? I notice that more and more very famous people are doing commercials. This used to be a ‘big’ celebrity fopah. Now its rather commonplace. Perhaps these poor folks just need jobs.

Clearly the problem is that there are too many celebrities.
Time for some thinning of the herd.
Yup, you know what that means. Its time to open some new eateries in the LA area…so these people can get back to their roots and serve tables.
Really its not cruel – its as it should be. Survival of the fittest really.

But I swear, if they make a reality TV show out of it… I am throwing them all out the window (well maybe not the new, big, HiDef one… )

Monday, April 17, 2006

What's on your bumper sticker?

I saw a car on my way into work this morning with a bumper sticker that read
This car climbed Mt. Washington
I had to wonder.

I had to wonder how driving up a large hill was such a life changing experience as to warrant a bumper sticker plastered on the back of your car.
Ok – I could see…“This car climbed Mt. Washington and I lost my virginity at the summit.” Or perhaps. “This car climbed Mt. Washington and we had three toddlers in the car (and actually brought them all down with us)”. … even “This car climbed Mt. Washington, which is where I found it.”

Mt. Washington is all of 6288 feet. Granted, for us Northeasterners, that’s a mountain. On their web site it says the ride to the summit will take 30 minutes…
and for this you get their self proclaimed 'world famous' bumper sticker.

Pulleeze, when I was only 20 I drove my car up Pike’s Peak in Colorado.
14,110 feet, a two hour ride to the summit, 2000 foot cliffs with no guard rails…
You don't get a bumper sticker for get a shot and a beer.
You needed it to settle your nerves. Most who take that ride – don’t do it a second time.

Here's the road at Mt. Washington. Pretty huh...

Here is the road at Pikes Peak... yeah, the road does continue around the corner.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

April, 15th

Today my delicious wife is 46.
I can tell you her age because she has no hang ups about it -she is comfortable in her skin, and I am as smitten today as was when I first saw her at 23.

Happy Birthday my love.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Home Alone

I'm the only one in our house with the day off today.

So.... I am busying myself around the house with some cleaning and light repairs.
My cautious wife is mildly concerned about me using hand tools... especially since I am by myself today.

We had a brief email exchange:
"o and guess what... i think we are going to have to call the plumber to install that shower cartridge. i can't get the water to turn off all the way because the value in the basement is so corroded. we will probably need to have that replaced as well."

my pragmatic wife:
"Just keep that wrench away from your eye.
Go do something "girlie." Paint your nails. Isn't ellen on?"

Oh, yeah... and - the job is done.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Do I look fat in this?

News stories these days warn us of a society where obesity has become an epidemic. Unless you change the channel… where we hear that we are all becoming too obsessed with our body image and we have eating disorders.

I dunno. Am I too fat, am I too thin – should I eat fast food, health food, slimfast, should I take relacor, or redux or just good old Paxil.
How ‘bout macrobiotics …or ‘eat like Jesus’. Hey, why not eat like cavemen.

The cave scene:
A group of cave women are sitting around the cave-fire, some are scrawling pictures on the walls with crushed berries…others are sipping a fermented grain/berry concoction out of dried fruit rinds, garnished with tree sprigs.

“Sally… honey – you really should switch to organic free-range pterodactyl. Not only will it shed pounds but your body hair will become fuller and more manageable.”

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

s t r e t c h

By any stretch of the imagination, stretch before you exercise, that’s a stretch, stretching a dollar...
What is with stretch fabrics? Ladies pulleeze explain this to me.
I went to buy a pair of jeans yesterday. Every single pair of women’s jeans I looked at said ‘strectch’ .
What the hell?
Pants, shirts, even pajamas…they all stretch.

This is absolutely absurd.
I bought men’s jeans yesterday.
Thanks guys.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Out Of Office assistant:

I will be out of the office today April 10 and
tomorrow April 11.
If you need assistance, please wait
patiently until Wednesday.

(yeah..and its 65° ;)

Friday, April 07, 2006



Do you need a new gas grille this year? We do. But rather than spending frivolous money on sparky new appliances, we are sending Ferris to college.

Did you know that for about 50 bucks you can buy all new parts for the inside of your grill and easily replace them yourself?

I replace the grate (and warming rack if you have one) those little lava rock things, and/or the deflector, and also the burner (which is really just where the flames come out). If need be you can replace the igniter switch as well.

Remove all of the old parts and spray the insides of the empty grill body with Easy-Off oven cleaner. Let it sit for 20 or so minutes then wipe it out. You can even hose it off to remove any remaining cleaner (remember if you are doing this on the lawn, it may damage the grass. Try to do it in an inconspicuous place, on gravel is ideal – or if that’s not possible be sure to use a lot of water to dilute the chemicals.)

Wipe down the outside of the grill with warm soapy water, including the tank. If you have metal parts to your grill, put a coat of automotive wax on them to keep them gleaming.

Reassemble the grille with your new parts. Remember to test any propane connections with soapy water to check for leaks.
Your grill will look like new and you should get another couple of years out of it (altho I replace the grate each season).

Thursday, April 06, 2006


I can't come out and play today until I get my homework done.

Silly me, I signed up for CEP Level 1 certification. Now I actually have to read and learn, and take a study group class and take a freakin' 4 hour test in June... on a Saturday.

What was I thinking about.

So no blog writing or blog reading for me today, I need to finish my required reading for my study group class tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

my deepest sympathies

I am coming to realize what a community it is that we have made online with each other.
You are my friends, and I yours - tho I may never lay eyes on you or wrap my arms around you.

Today I would like to wrap my arms around my dear friend K.
I am so sad for her loss.
Please say a prayer for our dear blog neighbor who lost the love of her life this past month

K, my thoughts are with you.

~Allan W. Hergenrider 1952 - 2006~

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Art appreciation

Art has always been a big part of my life. I first developed my appreciation for art and the arts while at college getting my degree in design. I particularly enjoyed art history and the architecture. These appeal to my sense of design and function.

My wife, as I have mentioned here before and is evidenced in my masthead, is an amazing artist. We have always taught our kids through example that painting, sculpting, dance, literature and music are to be noticed and cherished.

The daughter is also an incredible artist and expresses herself through sculpture, painting and mixed media. She recently received her master’s degree in Art Therapy and is already working in her field. We are very, very proud.
The daughter counsels and works with many artists in her job. There is one artist in particular that she works with who uses scrap metal and other bits on useless stuff to create the most whimsical sculptures. We have on a couple of occasions sent in a ‘bucket of junk’ for the fellow to use. I just love creative recycling.

With this type of recycling in mind, I decided that the various springs, coils and odd shaped metal bits from our old and deteriorating basketball hoop might make some fine art. So I decided to take it apart this weekend.

The parts were rusted and stuck due to many years of harsh weather. So, just as I always preach, I used my head. Rather than wrestle unnecessarily with rusty bolts– I put on a generous coat of WD-40 and let it sit for an hour or so to loosen up.

Still… they were pretty stuck. So I got out my big wrenches – two of them. I put one on the head of the bolt and snugged it in tight – then took the larger and longer wrench to the nut on the back so that I would have good leverage. Using the two wrenches together the nuts loosed up easily. I was starting to collect a nice pile of little bits and pieces…with one more bolt to go.

I had my two wrenches in place but I couldn’t get it to budge. Why is it the last one is always the hardest. I added more WD-40. I got the two wrenches into position and started to pull with all my might… as I was doing this it occurred to me that perhaps there may be some binding going on from the weight of the hoop… so I leaned over the edge of the backboard to have a look as I was pulling the two wrenches as hard as I could....when the WD-40 kicked in.

Well… at least no one can say I wasn’t using my head.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Monday = Friday


Did you finish raking? We finally did yesterday. Which is why tip-o-day has been delayed until today (plus a minor injury – which I will post about tomorrow).

Ok, so now that you are done raking you need to apply a crabgrass preventative to your lawn. I used to have doubts about the actual effectiveness of this stuff –until the year I didn’t apply it . wow. Does that stuff spread fast. But hey – if you like a low maintenance lawn that survives drought, disease, insects and rarely requires mowing because it’s growing sideways – they you may want to skip this step.

Crabgrass preventative forms a barrier on your soil to prevent crabgrass from germinating. This is why you need to rake first – so that this barrier is not disturbed.

Crabgrass preventative will not kill existing crabgrass, so it’s important to apply before the crabgrass germinates and establishes itself in your lawn. Luckily, during this time of year the little crabgrass seedlings that may give it a go on a warm day are killed off when the night temps still dip below freezing. Therefore, it’s a good idea to apply the preventative while this is still going on, so no crabgrass can get established.

I like the Scott’s products – they offer their version of crabgrass preventative – Halts – with a high nitrogen fertilizer. The nitrogen will boost leaf growth and green up your lawn faster.
Now remember – this product prevents germination, so if you want or need to overseed as well you will need to buy a special version of this product for new seed.