Nothing Much Archive

Last garden update of the Summer

Posted September 24, 2015 By Ruth

If you’re curious, THIS is the link to look back at my garden costs tracking for the summer.

Based on my lackadaisical method of record keeping I spent $90.15 on the garden.  Round it up to $100 since I’m sure I forgot to record SOMETHING.

And “made” $184 (plus whatever all the melons, carrots, radishes, lettuce, pumpkins, etc would have been which I never did manage to check prices on)

So, definitely a profit, especially since I’d have likely never bought half as much if I’d had to actually buy it all.  But not really thousands and thousands either.  Course, I’m not being massively OCD about keeping up with the garden, nor do I have a full 1/4-1/2 acre in garden, but it’s still a good sized garden for a home garden.  I’ll take it.

The compost tomato plant succumbed to Late Blight, but I managed to salvage a few ripe tomatoes off of it that didn’t appear to get touched by the blight, so I’ll be planting those seeds again next year.

Here’s what mature Long Pie Pumpkins look like:


The biggest is 13.5″ long, and weighs 5.5 pounds.  The other two are closer to the 12″ mark, and weigh about a pound less.

Anyone want Rattail Radish seeds?  I massively over planted, and since you eat the seed pod on these, instead of the bulb like normal radishes, I have a million seed pods drying now too.  Ok, not literally a million, but since I packed a gallon ziplock (and I do mean packed, I smushed them in) of the largest seed pods that were dry enough to empty out as I get time, and still barely made a dent in the seed pods, I have plenty of seeds for the next few years!  Seriously, if someone wants some email me at ruthcatrin (at) scaryyankeechick (dot) com with “rattail radish” in the subject line (otherwise your email might get filtered as junk).  But unless you have a HUGE radish loving family 4 or 5 plants is plenty!

I planted three tires with Purple Early Sprouting Broccoli and some more normal radishes for fall/winter gardening.  The Early Sprouting Broccoli is designed for the winter garden, and infact HAS TO experience a winter in order to produce heads.  Its supposed to be hardy down to 10 degrees (F).  I’m making plans on how I want to cover it for the winter since our chances of dipping below 10 are pretty good.  I’ll try to remember to keep updating on that.

On the deck side of things, the worst of the bad electrical is fixed, but we’re going to have to have an electrician out at some point to basically re-wire the garage and carport.  Now that we now to look for it, there doesn’t appear to be a single junction box in the entire garage, and in several places they wired in “additional” stuff using lamp cord wire instead of proper electrical wire.  And since the carport was added after the garage its safe to assume that its the same way.  The paperwork for the permit for the new front steps and landing is into the town, they agreed to waive the requirement for footers since this is a “temporary” set of stairs.

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My Summer/Fall project

Posted September 11, 2015 By Ruth

Well, lets start by saying that this wasn’t the project I’d PLANNED to do for the end of summer/fall.  I’d PLANNED to be putting in all sorts of ice dam preventatives, including proper vents in that attic space where the wood burning stove chimney is.  I’ll still be putting in vents, but I won’t be doing any of the rest of it.

On the evening of August 15th our front deck collapsed, with me, my husband, and both dogs standing on it.  Thankfully it was less than 3 feet off the ground and we’re all fine (though Arty is now terrified of the front door).

A look at it in daylight and we assumed that the ledger board must have rotted out.  But we could also see that it had been attached to the house with nails (3″ nails).

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Since it was safe to assume that the entire length of it was attached to the house with nails (vs screws or bolts) we made the decision to just pull the entire deck down, salvage what we could of the wood, and toss up a set of stairs.  We’ll figure out a replacement deck at a later date.

That wall where the front door is, is the living room addition done by previous home owners.  Not sure if it was done by the folks we bought from, or from before them (I suspect the folks we bought from though).  When they built the outer walls, the wall sits on a heavy timber that sits on the concrete block wall, then outside of that they put a (NOT pressure treated) chipboard before wrapping the addition with house wrap and putting on the siding.

The deck ledger board was NAILED through the house wrap into that chipboard.

It wasn’t the ledger board that rotted out.  The ledger board was fine, a very nice 2×12 piece of pressure treated lumber.  It was the chipboard that rotted out.  Right up under the housewrap and siding.  The ONLY thing that was holding up the deck in that corner was the small portion of the nails that made it into the heavy base timber.  I have no clue how it didn’t collapse under the snow-load last winter.

We’re going to have to pull down the siding and housewrap, remove the rotted chipboard, make sure the rot didn’t damage anything else, replace it all, and redo the housewrap and siding.

But thats not the worst of it.  We found a few more things when we pulled down the deck.

1: the guy who installed our Direct TV really was as big of an idiot as we took him for:


Yes, we knew he’d run the cable under and then up through the deck, but we didn’t realize till we were pulling it all down that he’d drilled through the ledger board.


2: The former homeowner who installed the security lighting likely did it himself:


That is the wire up to the indoor switch for the outdoor security lighting, with the wires running from it to the fixtures.  Just hanging like that in the crawlspace.  No tape.  No box.  No support.  And I’m pretty sure those are the ground wires just sticking out random.  That all by itself caused some profanity to be said.


3: The fact that the whole house was crooked last winter wasn’t a fluke and we should have checked ALL of the house supports under the original structure as soon as things thawed (we checked the rest of the house, but this corner is hard to get to so we assumed that since the rest of the house looked ok……)

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A bit more profanity was let go as we all looked at that.

We called our homeowners insurance, and they informed (this past Tuesday, cause the local guy is a massive PIA to deal with) us that its “wear and tear” and therefor not covered.  I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to argue the point.  I have to dig through the policy and look at the exact wording of whats covered…..

Yesterday (Thursday) we had the whole house re-leveled and new supports put in.  The sales guy for the company we hired about drove me batty, but the guys who actually did the work were great.  It was done quickly, with minimal fussing.




I’m still waiting for the town to get back to me on whether I need footers for a small landing and 3 steps up to the front door.  If we do then we’ll need to breakup the 6″ deep slab that was poured under the deck since there was no permits done on it and I can’t prove there’s footers under it.  I’m really hoping I don’t have to.

And now I need to dig through the electrical code paperwork to figure out if its legal to have a junction box in the crawl space or not (I suspect not, at least technically, though its certainly accessible since that portion is still skirted).  And get those wires supported and taped, and……we still have the side of the house to deal with.

Oh, and its looking like there were no permits on the living room addition either…….

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Posted August 8, 2015 By Ruth

In the wake of discovering that my ankles weren’t going to be adapting to concrete floors I picked up a pair of soft ankle braces to take the place of the ace wraps I’d been using to give my ankles support.  The braces weren’t anything fancy.  $10 each at the local pharmacy.  But they helped, a lot, and weren’t horribly uncomfortable to wear while I was at work.

This past Thursday, part way through the day, my feet apparently swelled up and the braces became uncomfortable to wear, so I ended up not wearing them for the last couple hours of the work day.  Things didn’t hurt to badly.  So yesterday, Friday, since I was only working a 5hr shift I decided to try the day without them.  I never did figure out what caused my feet to swell and I wanted to see how bad the shorter shift would hurt without the braces.

Wasn’t to bad.  Made it through the 5hrs with no braces with not much additional pain, though I could tell my knees were going to be more sore than usual.  

Till I left work.  

1/2hr drive home and both ankles and knees stiffened up drastically and getting out of the car at home was, well, interesting.  Staggered into the house, greeted the dogs, and collapsed with my feet up.

It is now Saturday morning, I leave for today’s work shift in an hour.  My ankles are still very stiff and painful despite some careful stretching exercises.  My knees are better, but not as good as normal.


Obviously ankle support isn’t optional for any reasonable length work shift.  For the moment I’m just going to pick up a 2nd pair of the cheap braces in the larger size for the next time my feet swell.  But I guess I’d better start looking for better ankles supports too…..

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Computer problems……

Posted July 23, 2015 By Ruth


For the last several days I’ve had trouble connecting other devices to my computer.  Mostly via USB connection, but also SD cards directly.  Its not entirely at random, but it feels like it.

The pattern goes like this:

With a freshly rebooted computer I can plug in any device (my phone, ipad, camera, SD cards, etc) into the computer no problem and the computer will recognize them with no issue.  This will seem to last for several hours with no problems, and no matter how many times I plug stuff in and unplug it and plug it in and unplug it……

At some point overnight (I don’t generally turn off the computer overnight due to using it to play quiet music as white noise to keep Apollo from having a snit over night noises) this changes.  When I get up in the morning, anything plugged in the night before is still connected fine, but as soon as I unplug something I can’t plug it back into the computer.  Attempting to plug anything into the computer at that point results in the single-tone “duh-duh” noise indicating failed connection, and the computer not recognizing the device/SD card/whatever.  This lasts until such time as I reboot the computer, and then we start the pattern all over again.

My next step to try (tonight) is to try turning off the various scans that I normally run overnight and see if that fixes it.  If so I’ll then have to try each scan individually till I figure out which one, and then see if I can figure out what setting to change to fix it.  If turning off the scans doesn’t fix it my actual suspect is one of the 18 Windows updates that came in the day before this started happening……yah, that should be fun to figure out…….

I’m having one of “those” weeks…..

Posted July 22, 2015 By Ruth

It could be ever so much worse, but still.

The last 5 days in a row we were predicted to get rain, potentially a lot of it.  We got a sprinkle once.  Looking at the weather map it looks like there were actually storms, but they ended up going around my immediate area somehow.  For 5 days in a row.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m thrilled that the yard has finally dried up enough for me to mow completely.  But it also means that I’m having to water the garden…..

Monday in particular was extra “interesting”. 

Monday we received a notice from the state that we were being audited due to our claim of getting solar panels put up in 2012.  We have 30 days to provide them with the paperwork to prove the claim or they’ll cancel the refund.  Never mind that I included copies of almost everything they’re requiring with the tax paperwork……So now we’re digging through files and muttering rude words as we discover that this or that piece of paper didn’t get filed properly.  We’ve got it all, but it’s still frustrating as heck.

After spending an hour digging through files and getting frustrated I went out to go spend an hour or so in the garden since I find that generally calming.  Keeping the volunteer clover from taking over is pretty much a constant chore anyway, and after the discovery of the giant zucchini hiding under the clover in that tire I’ve been trying to work my way around the various beds to at least thin the clover enough to be sure I don’t have to many other surprises waiting for me.  Everything was going smoothly till I grabbed a specific clump of clover in one of the cantaloupe tires.

There are yellow jackets nesting in that particular tire.  Under that specific clump of clover.  Immediately adjacent to a ripening pumpkin and a still growing cantaloupe.

And yup, I got stung.

Today’s Wednesday and I’m still swallowing the max dose of benadryl in order to keep the swelling down and itching from driving me crazy.

I hate using general insecticides in the garden.  I have, after much work, finally managed to have enough pollinators in the yard to ensure proper pollination of everything.  And the last thing I want to do is kill them.  But I’m not going to try to work around a nest of stinging insects either, even if we didn’t have family who’re allergic.  ESPECIALLY when the nest is immediately adjacent to two growing fruits that will have to be picked before TO much longer.  I picked up a bottle of concentrated permethrin, and have already treated the nest area once.  I’m being extra careful to ensure it doesn’t get onto any flowers or the like, but I’m still not happy about it.

I’m just hoping the rest of the week goes a bit smoother…….


Posted July 6, 2015 By Ruth

A couple months ago Husband and I got new cell phones.  Both of our previous phones were pushing 4yrs old, and both were well past the point of showing their age.

I was disappointed to find out that the slide out keyboard were no  longer available on pretty much any smart phone model.

However in browsing cell phones I found the Kyocera Brigadier

Reviewers were reasonably positive, the only consistent gripe was the camera, and since a cell phone isn’t my primary camera anyway that didn’t bother me.

The pluses were huge.  Its engineered to meet Military Spec 810G.  It’ll survive total immersion (up to 6ft of water) for 30 minutes.  Temperatures between -4 and 140F.  Repeated shocks, drops, high dust, high humidity, extreme low pressure……

I figured if I could make my old Droid 2 last for 4yrs without any of that I ought to be able to get at least 4ys out of this one, and it didn’t cost any more than my old Droid did.

Today I found a new plus about those features.  High temps were mid-80’s with insane humidity.  And of course I ended up working outside most of the day at work today.  My shorts were soaked with sweat when I got home, and no, thats not a good thing.  My phone was in my back pocket, and is cruddy with sweat and dried dirt.

It works fine.

Works for me!


(btw, if anyone else gets this phone via Verizon….be aware that the default voice mail handler is the “Visual Voicemail App”.  This is a PAID SUBSCRIPTION app, and it USES DATA, never mind the security hole that it is.  You’ll have to call Verizon tech support and have them turn it off and switch you back to regular voice mail.  Which is a PIA.  Just to warn you.)

rheumatologist followup

Posted June 18, 2015 By Ruth

So, my followup with the rheumatologist was today.

The good news is my bloodwork all came back normal.

The bad news is twofold.  Via xrays my hands are showing signs of bone erosion in multiple joints, especially the first knuckle of each finger on both hands.  This is typical of rheumatoid type arthritis, though again, bloodwork was normal.  And second there are multiple small bone spurs forming in both ankles.  So yes, my ankles should be bothering me, and no, its not my imagination that my hands have been getting worse……

General update

Posted June 1, 2015 By Ruth

Our weather has been decidedly screwy.  After a record breakingly cold winter we were all looking forward to spring.  Instead we got summer with the rare “cold spring” day tossed in as a sop.  Though we’re not breaking the high temp records we’re coming close to them.  And with 90% humidity no one’s happy about it.  To top it off it’s been incredibly dry.  Normally we spend the month of May barely able to mow the yard (and often unable to, in part or in all), due to the shear wetness of the ground.  This year I’ve been having to water my garden.

I discovered that my ankles really are screwed up, but also that wrapping them for the day at work makes a huge difference in my ability to cope.  This is a relief because…..

I’ve been attempting to teach myself to spin.  No, not on a bicycle, I already know how to ride a bike.  Fiber, on a spinning wheel, to create yarn.  Thanks to the generosity of several ladies, both local and several states away, I have both a spindle and a spinning wheel to learn on, as well as a fair bit of pre-processed fiber to play around with during my learning process.  I picked up the process of spinning on the spindle quite quickly.  But the spinning wheel requires me to peddle to keep the wheel turning.  And with my painful ankles that wasn’t happening.  This past week though, after keeping my ankles wrapped for the entire work day for over a week, the pain has been much less, and even almost non-existent, depending on the day.  So I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to do some proper practice on the spinning wheel this week.

Of course, my body isn’t happy unless I’m in SOME sort of pain, or so it seems some days.  Friday, while at work, I knelt down to pull forward some stock on one of the very bottom shelves.  Only to feel as if I’d knelt on a needle the instant my right knee hit the ground.  Standing back up showed no needle, or splinters, or anything else that might cause the feeling, and my skin was un-broken.  However the painful feeling in that spot in that knee persisted.  My knee didn’t swell up at all.  And it hasn’t affected my ability to walk, kneel, or lift.  So I’m hoping that all that happened was that I knelt at a weird angle and so something was strained.  My concern is that I partially tore something.  I guess time will tell.  I did file an accident report at work, just in case it does turn out to be something.  But I hate going through worker’s comp for stuff…..

Apollo is finally properly shedding.  I’ve come to the decision that he is just a delayed shedder.  It seems like many of the other Tibetan Mastiff owners I’ve talked to have half naked dogs by now.  But not Apollo!  Back in mid-March his leg fluff started coming loose, and by mid-April or so his legs were naked and his shoulders were starting to come loose.  And there it stopped.  Just this past week though I’ve finally been able to get actual amounts of fur from his ruff and body.  And that’s been the pattern for him for previous years too.  So I guess this is his normal.  I’m saving the shed fluff again, this time in hopes of being able to spin it myself this year.  See above paragraph about learning to spin!

My seedlings are all in the garden.  Though of course mother nature couldn’t let us escape without a threatened late frost, just because.  Most everything seems to be growing fine despite that though.  The heat is good for somethings I guess!  Unfortunately its not good for the early “sow in the garden before last frost” crops though.  Half my radishes never formed bulbs, and three of them attempted to go to seed when I left them in the ground in hopes that the bulbs would form.  Despite planting lettuce seeds over a span of 3 weeks in hopes of having staggered harvests everything has shot up at once, and I’m picking the early maturing ones as fast as I can in hopes of being able to eat them before they go to seed.  I may go ahead and let some of them go though, since I’ve already harvested more than we’ll eat in the next week.  My Sugar Snap peas are barely a foot high, and have no buds.

Speaking of the garden, I did end up spending another $12 for additional dirt/compost to fill in the beds.

The crocosmia lilies my aunt sent me last year somehow survived our insane winter and have sprouted.  I’m thrilled as they were very pretty last year.  I had to send me some more when she thinned out her patch a couple weeks ago, and have planted them in more spots around the property.  I don’t care that they’ll spread out and fill in.  Infact, I want them to.  I have several corners that are frustrating to mow or otherwise keep trimmed, and I’ve been filling them with Daylilies, and mints, and other such in an attempt to not have to mow them as often, so the crocosmia lilies will fit right in!

The winter, and the dry spring, has definitely screwed with my flowers in general though.  Crocus bloomed on schedule, but the daffodils and tulips ran a solid month late.  And now, though it looks like all my iris sprouted, only half have produced buds.  And of those buds, the stalks are all only about half the height of normal, and many of the buds themselves are flat, as if empty.  I’ve been trying to keep them watered, but they’re in an awkward spot.  And it looks like the winter killed most of the butterfly bushes too.  Only one is showing green, and that only from new shoots from the roots.  The top is completely dead.  

We do appear to have a Bluebird pair nesting in one of the boxes this year.  I’m delighted to see them.  Since the House Sparrows killed the first pair a couple years ago we’ve only seen Bluebirds in passing.  I’ve been putting out mealworms for them, so hopefully they’ll stick around and tell off the Sparrows!

Speaking of birds… is usual I put out the hummingbird feeders when the reports showed them as having been seen in northern PA.  And was rewarded as usual with hummingbird sightings myself within the next couple weeks.  Now, Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, the only kind we normally get here, are aggressive, territorial, little snots.  Its not unusual for one bird (usually a male) to claim a feeder as HIS, and attempt to keep all other hummers away from it.  This only kinda works, since while he’s driving off one bird another is sneaking a sip.  And like many folks I put out multiple feeders around the property in order to give the rest of the locals a chance for a longer drink.  But the fights that result tend to be very short overall.  This year however a pair of males decided they had to fight to the death over feeder rights (and likely girl rights).  Well, I don’t actually know that it was “to the death” but thats sure what it looked like.  For three days straight, every time I looked out the window, this pair was fighting.  And although I can’t 100% swear it was the same two birds the entire time, it sure looked like it.  They were so engrossed in their fight that I was able to get within feet of the feeders to snap pictures.

Their pattern went like this-

First both would come in for a drink at the same time, eyeing each other carefully over the feeder



And then, to some unknown signal it would start!



After a minute or so of fighting one or both would decide it was time for a breather and a drink, but woe betide the one who decided so when they other wasn’t ready




And round and round they went, utilizing both feeders.  Every minute or two stopping for a drink and a breather before resuming their fight

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I must say it was fascinating to watch!

Dear Mother Nature (part 2)

Posted May 22, 2015 By Ruth

My last post was NOT a demand that you swing towards the other end of the record breaking spectrum…..

Dear Mother Nature….

Posted May 12, 2015 By Ruth

I promise I’m not complaining about the heat.

But really, we don’t need a record breaking summer to match our record breaking winter.  K?