Archive | July, 2008

Enough is Enough!

July 21, 2008

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This is rather disturbing. It’s a mindless, meaningless USB gadget. Don’t we have ENOUGH gadgets clogging up the world yet?

This time it’s a little LED message board. It can be programmed to display any message and even bother you with audio. It’s touted as a way to “leave a message” when, perhaps, you are away from your computer for a while. Helloo?? Energy crisis? Do we really need to waste energy for something so trifling? What’s next, USB-powered with neon lights? If you have to leave a message while you’re away, why not just write a note on paper?

Here’s the video, see for yourself.

The reason why such clutter is becoming more aggravating to me is because my area in New York State is the target of a proposed behemoth power line transmission path. A company wants to invoke eminent domain to slice through our towns so they can install a 200-mile path of power lines to New York City. They say that NYC is running out of power, and Upstate towns must bear the burden. Boy, that steams me like nothing else! Grrrr.

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Tomato Blight

July 19, 2008

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Ouch.

That looks like a bad case of blight, to me.

This year I planted just one tomato plant, Roma plum. Last year, I’d planted SIX tomato plants (Big Boy, Roma plu, and cherry) and was inundated with tomatoes. It took us weeks to process them all and freeze them. They made great winter soup additives, though.

But I went with just this one, this year. Bought it at WalMart. Poor thing probably had blight when I bought it and didn’t even know it. I’d never seen blight before, and didn’t know what was wrong until a friend next door complained of the same thing.

So no tomatoes in soups this winter! šŸ™

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Quick Tip: Get Rid of Ants

July 17, 2008

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I have heard that ant problems are bi-annual. I don’t know if that is true, but we did have an ant problem every other year, until three years ago, when ants stopped coming. They must have been storing up for this year, because they are back in FULL force. I can’t seem to keep the little grease-ants out of my kitchen, and we have an invasion of carpenter ants all along the back wall of the house. Sigh.

I’m not into chemicals or pesticides, so I’ve been trying this experiment I had heard of– cornmeal. Ants can’t digest it, so it kills them. Of course, if there are yummier things hanging around (like jelly or sugar crystals), cornmeal is nothing to them. So be sure to clear the area of goodies, and lay a pinch or two of cornmeal in various places for a few weeks.

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The Dog Days of Summer–Literally

July 17, 2008

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What a week. It’s been hot and humid in Upstate New York again, and weathermen are using that phrase “dog days of summer” over and over. That phrase has more to do with Sirius, the Dog Star, appearing in our summer evening skies than canines running around… but for me this week, it seems to be both.

DoggyIt seems every single neighbor of mine– both sides of the street up and down– have dogs. All day, all night, the dogs everywhere bark bark bark. It’s quite the cacophony. When the fire alarm (four houses down) goes off, they all start their shrill howling. It’s rather funny.

But this week I’ve also seen an unprecedented number of loose dogs running around. So far, none of the ones that I’ve caught have tags, or even collars. The dogs are very friendly, so I know they are someone’s pets, but I have no way of knowing where they belong because there is no identification on them at all. I’m also a little concerned because there have been reports of rabies in our area (foxes and squirrels). I really hate to call my town dog catcher. They will only kill the animal if no owner is found; and if they do find the owner, the town slaps them with a $150 fee for a loose dog. I sure hate to see that bill!

So this is turning out to be quite the Dog Days of summer for me! Literally! Because I’m a stay-at-home mom and because my yard is so large, I’ve become the unofficial neighborhood dog sitter! Maybe I should start charging payment for all the dogs I recover? Sheesh!

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Something Fishy Happening

July 17, 2008

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My sons are real fishing freaks, so I had to post this video for them. It starts off slow, and the quality is not the best, but I can’t believe the guy gets a fish with this thing! So you mean to tell me that those expensive electronic remote-controlled hobby toys are actually useful?! Wow, this may make fishing actually an interesting sport! lol!

Aw, all he got was a tiny sunfish… I have to admit, however, that the helicopter is very, very cool.

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My Secret Garden

July 15, 2008

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Although my renovations on the house have been spotty the last few years, I have been doggedly working on the gardens around the acre of property. My lot is very long and narrow, with businesses on all four sides of my property. Therefore, building gardens that provide privacy are a must. I am elated at the progress of my gardens! Here are some photos of my prides and joys.

My favorite flower is the lovely Stargazer lily. I have a dozen of them. When my living room windows worked (that is, when they used to open– they are too warped to open now), their fragrance filled the entire house with their intoxicating scent. Ahhhh. I cut a few and brought them inside yesterday. Heavenly.

Stagazer Lily

Here’s a bloom from my Nikko Blue Hydrangeas.

Nikko Blue Hydrangea

I could use some advice from any hydrangea experts– my shrubs don’t bloom very much anymore. I only got two on one shrub, and three on another (all blooms are at the bottom of the plant, as well). In the past, I tried pruning it all the way down. No blooms next year. OK, so the next year, I left everything. No blooms this year. I fertilize with coffee, which gives the blooms a nice blue color, otherwise they are a dusky pink due to the lime in the soil. Anyone have any advice for getting these things to bloom as they ought?

This one I call my secret garden. I am very proud of it’s progress.

Secret Garden

I have lilacs on one side and Rose of Sharon on the other. Eventually, the shrubs will grow taller than the arbor, and shield us from the parking lot next door. That’s why I call it my secret garden– all the plants will overshadow this narrow section of the yard. We are still working on the pathway, lol.

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Sitting On A Natural Gas Mine

July 13, 2008

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I’ve been hearing, in various circles, of landowners in southern New York State and Pennsylvania suddenly finding themselves wealthy. There’s gas in them thar hills! Natural gas! It’s called the Marcellus Shale region, and estimates of 516 trillion cubic feet of gas lies beneath the black shale. Several weeks ago, I was offered the opportunity to purchase 100 acres of forest land in Pennsylvania for $200,000. The property owner had just been offered $150,000 by a natural gas mining company, but the owner was elderly and didn’t want the hassle. He thought a younger couple could do well. It was a juicy offer, but I just don’t have $200,000 laying around, not even for a $150,000 return investment. Yet my interest was piqued. This could mean ground-breaking changes for the economies of the Northeast, which has been on deep decline for 30 years. And what this discovery means for NYRI, that group that wants to plow their 100-foot high, 200-mile long power line through our towns, remains yet to be seen. I did a blog post about how this power line would affect our towns and villages, see it here.

Gas mining executives are, obviously, looking for cheap deals and uninformed landowners. If you own land in the Marcellus Shale region, from New York to Virginia, it would do you well to study the geology of the area, and connect with your neighbors. Gas corporation lawyers are going door to door, striking individual deals with landowners. Some folks have sold rights to their land already, for a measly $25,000. Others are leasing their land for $50 per acre per year, and others $500 per acre.

The gas corporations are counting on uninformed residents and their lack of communication and organization to take advantage.

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I’m Crying, I’m Screaming

July 10, 2008

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I promised myself (and my daughter) that I wouldn’t get frustrated working on the electric today. Unfortunately, I broke that promise. But I remained relatively calm and nothing was broken! The “electric” in this house is a NIGHTMARE. I cannot possibly express how horrifying and frustrating it is. The wiring is well over 80 years old, and is a mish-mash of the most retarded work I have ever seen in anything.

It is completely chaotic, there are circuits going everywhere and anywhere, sometimes even doubling up. I’ll switch off a circuit, thinking that all wiring is de-energized, but lo and behold, mystery wires are still energized.

Take, for example, my kitchen lighting and outlet receptacles. This kitchen light and the receptacles are powered by Circuit #17. There are two receptacles (yes, just two for our entire kitchen) and a light fixture with two switches. One switch is at one doorway, the other switch is at the other doorway.

So I go to turn off Circuit #17 in the basement. Both receptacles and the light fixture and a switch are off. But guess what? One of the light switches is still on! That switch is connected to Circuit #14 (which powers one-third of the rest of the house on that one circuit). I’m no expert with electrical systems, but I know the basics. Please tell me HOW a kitchen light switch on Circuit #14 can switch off a light fixture that’s on Circuit #17? There are two circuits at work with this switch??

I am so frustrated I could sell this house RIGHT NOW. And this was only just ONE of my frustrating problems today– and it was the easiest! I’ve been wallowing around in The Dreaded Attic [insert creepy organ music] for a while. trying to figure out how some old wiring that has been sealed up and disconnected is showing up as energized on a brand-new circuit I built (and I never connected any of this old stuff to it?). I’m at wit’s end. Oh Lord help!

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How Do You Southerners Do It?!

July 8, 2008

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It is so hot and humid here, that when you expel your breath, flames come out. COME ON, this is Upstate New York! We’re supposed to be the Frozen Chosen!!! I just hate the heat and humidity. Pardon me while I whine, lol.

So we can just barely get the wash hung out on the clothesline until we collapse in the shade, soaked and grumpy. Someone please tell me how folks in the South do it? How do you survive down there, where it’s like this all the time?!?! I’d really like to know. Cuz I had all these plans for the week… but everything has dissolved into a steamy little pool of perspiration. I have no motivation whatsoever. i was going to fix my electric wiring in the kitchen (I have to tuck the dangling wires in a junction box) but I can’t even motivate myself to shut off the power and get out the ladder. Sighhhh.

Photo from ashrae.org/education/page/1455

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The Weatherization Grant

July 8, 2008

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I’ve mentioned the weatherization grant for which we were approved. It’s sponsored by my power company, National Grid, and my county (Oneida) in New York. You can read about the energy audit I had here, and a little more about the grant here. I am very grateful that something like this is available; even the smallest efforts have helped immensely. I received up to 10 of those fancy compact flourescent bulbs (they last as long as ten years and save scads of energy), and had some insulating done here. They would have insulated the walls of the house, but because there are bricks in between the studs, they coulldn’t. šŸ™ That would have saved me $7,000. Oh well.

So they pulled into the driveway this morning with their huge van. All their “stuff” was in there. The two workers were very friendly; they took all day but the job looks so good! And it costs me nothing! They insulated the rim joists, which is that area where the top of the stone foundation and the bottom of the wooden structure of the house rest. It’s a major heat sink. I think they did a marvelous job! I’m so glad I didn’t have to do it, lol.

Rim Joist 1

Rim Joist 2

I am especially happy about the rim joist insulation. I never would have done it so well like they did (with reflective foam board). They did accidentally spray foam on some of the wiring, though. I’ll have to replace the foam when I pull out that wiring, when I update the electric (someday, lol).

They also screwed thick foam onto my basement doors and my attic hatch, and re-cemented the hole in my chimney where the hot water tank pipe goes in.

Chimney Cement

Basement Doors

They even cut holes for the lock latch and for the kitty cat pet door we have, for our kitty. šŸ˜€

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