Saw an article not to long ago (no, I didn’t save it, wasn’t intending to blog on it) about how even with the lower gas prices the general public wasn’t spending more money on “extras” than they were before.

They had a whole list of reasons as to why the author thought that was the case. 

But they missed the one I thought most obvious.

When gas prices skyrocketed, very shortly afterwards the prices on everything else started going up.  Meaning that consumers were not only paying for the higher gas prices at the gas pumps, but also at the grocery stores, and clothing stores…..

When gas prices came down (we dropped below $3/gallon for the first time in how many years??  Hell, I don’t think we’d even been below $3.25/gallon for that period!) nothing else dropped in price.

Husband and I did some math, and we’re saving, on average, about $20/car/fillup, which means about $40/week for the household.  Although we’d both noticed with delight the lower gas prices, neither of us noticed that $40 a week.  Not really.  It got added into the grocery and sundry budget before either of us so much as thought about it.  Hey, we can have a once a month ordered out pizza again!

Sure, $40 a week is $2080 a year.  Which I suppose has the potential to be a nice vacation or something.  But I’ve got far better things to spend that on.  Its not “extra money”.  And it’d take a hell of a lot larger savings at the gas pump (for a much longer period of time) before I’d even consider calling it that.

So, why am I blogging about this now?

Yesterday I bought sugar.  

I don’t buy sugar that often, infact its been a couple months since the last time I bought it.  The name brand stuff has been packaged as 4lb bags (instead of hte former 5lb bags) for a couple years now at least.  But the Wegmans brand sugar was still 5lb bags last time I paid attention to the label.

Yesterday, I noticed that the Wegmans brand sugar was packaged in 4lb bags, for just about the same price I remember paying last time I was sure it was a 5lb bag.  Now its possible it was like that last time I bought sugar and I didn’t notice.  But it hasn’t been like that for much longer than that, because I DO try to notice.

Not only are the prices on “other stuff” not dropping to match the gas prices, they’re still going up.

And “they” are wondering why we aren’t spending our “extra money” on things like big vacations……

Blanket Training……


I try, hard, to stay away from “reality TV”.  Because if I watch even a few minutes of it I find myself wanting to give into the desire to smash the TV and pound my  head into a wall.

This means that I didn’t follow the Duggars either.  I knew who they were, couldn’t avoid that, but I otherwise tried hard to not pay much attention to them or their TV show.

Which means that when the publicity storm hit that the eldest son was a rapist, I took a deep breath and ignored it.  And when the fact came out that he’d been 14 at the time, and it was more like “force-able touching” than rape, and his parents hadn’t even gotten proper counseling for him or their daughters I did the same.

I wasn’t quite able to ignore their interview with whoever it was about the subject, and ended up reading the transcript of the interview.  Got very frustrated at the religious stupidity of people (“well, all of our friends’ sons did it so we figured it wasn’t a big deal” gggrrrrrr, no, it means you and your community FAILED MASSIVELY at teaching the moral/religious concepts you’re so proud of!), and then took another deep breath and turned in a different direction.  Adding my voice to the mess was pointless, I’m sure they’re ignoring the large majority of it anyway.

Two days ago THIS blog article popped up on my news feed.  Since it wasn’t immediately obviously attached to the Duggars and I was bored I clicked through.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that thats a “thing” in the child rearing world.  Nor that certain strict thought processes insist that if the child isn’t happy they’re shaming their parents.

Look, I think the average teenager today has both too much freedom and not enough.  They lack learning in responsibility and consequences, and I dread the day that those kids are adults who are helping form the society for their kids.

I don’t have a problem with “place” training for dogs.  Which is likely what the “blanket training” is based off of.

Nor do I have a problem with a properly placed and timed swat on the rear of a misbehaving child.

But…..there’s a point at which things are taken to far……and the Duggars and others who follow those methods have found that point.


Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Anyone tried this variety?  It caught my eye, because its rated for down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  Apparently you’re supposed to plant it by the end of the summer, it HAS to over-winter in an actual WINTER, and then you harvest in the spring??

I might have to try it.  I’ll have to cover it for the winter regardless, we regularly dip below 10 in the winter, but the concept is tempting!

rheumatologist followup

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……

Garden update

Well, first off, I finally got around to starting to gravel in the paths between the beds.  I accidently made them too narrow to mow when I was setting things up and they’ve been a pain to manage, so when Home Depot put their white marble chips gravel on sale over memorial weekend I took advantage and bought enough to do about half the paths.  I’d have bought more but I didn’t have the money at the time.  It looks so nice though that the higher price will be worth it, and it’s less than $1/bag difference between the marble and the next one down anyway when it’s all at full price.


Once all the paths are done I’ll build a little wall all the way around the garden and fill that in with gravel too, ought to look awesome once its done.  Though I doubt I’ll get THAT part done this summer.  We’ll see.  I have other projects too…..

Thanks to the hot spring the lettuce is huge




Strawberries are almost ripe



Sugar Baby watermelons


I also planted a variety of watermelon called Early Moon, but didn’t get pictures.




Long Pie Pumpkins



Zucchini (and a bumper crop of clover, ooops)



Purple Cherokee tomatoes



Jalapenos (yes, those are baby peppers already)



Black Plum tomatoes, and yup, they’re producing already too







In addition I also have Sugar Snap peas (though whether I’ll actually get any…..), Cucumbers (the Mini Whites again), two kinds of radishes (which I’ve already picked), cantalope, Charentis melons again, habaneros, Hungarian Hot Wax peppers, carrots (7 kinds), sunflowers, okra…….

General update

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!