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The Norseman’s Diaries 2021 Spring Edition:
My Door into Summer

by Jeff Fullerton
born2bewild1962@gmail.com

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

Finally it opened and I stepped through a few weeks ago. The Door into Summer which is what I’ve come to call the transitional time of late spring into early summer when the lingering chill of a late spring cold snap gives way to the halcyon days of summer. It’s also the title of one of my favorite Robert A Heinlein novels about a guy who travels from the 1970s into the future world of the year 2000 by way of suspended animation. In the opening chapter there is mention of a cat looking for the Door into Summer every winter because he doesn’t want to go out and potty in the snow. The protagonist had to open every door for the cat until he is convinced that it’s winter outside every door and he just has to go out and do his business.

My cat: Tom—if he lived inside—I’d just put his ass out the first door. Don’t have time for that kind of Tomcat Foolery.

The Heinlein story will make for a great book review someday after I finish this edition of the Diaries which are running behind again—though not grossly as is often the case. This spring—especially the last few weeks of it—has been busy as I transitioned away from a nearly complete Florida Room to reclamation of the Greenhouse and the moving of turtles and fish out to their summer quarters. Plus general upkeep of things outside. Yet I’ve managed to put together this edition and would have had it out a week ago were it not for the want of a good intro which I’m writing now on the morning of 8 June 2021.

The story picks up where the previous one left off at the beginning of April when the weather was turning unseasonably cold and runs into the week of Memorial Day when the door finally opened to better days—at least as far as weather is concerned and the next edition to cover the summer is already being written.

And so it begins with another incoming polar vortex to end a stretch of nice weather in the last week of March going into April.

Snow Squalls

4/1/21

The April Fool’s Blizzard did not come to pass.

Kind of disappointing because I was looking forward to a spectacular cover picture for the spring edition as I wrap up the winter one and try to get it out. I’ll find something good.

Took me a while to get going this morning so I won’t have much time for anything here today. Tomorrow I’ll take another look at the 150 job. Will have to rethink the fittings because the threaded pvc has projections on it that can’t be passed through the hole in the bottom of the tank defeating the purpose. May just go with a short piece of pvc and slip some vinyl tubing and a clamp over that.

4/2/21

Difference a day makes.

The April Fools blizzard still did not come to pass. However there was a small accumulation of snow through the night going onto the second day of the month. I Shifted back to the oil furnace around 4 AM. Looking forward to not having to run that or the outside one much longer. Or the late evening routine of loading the latter or having to check the turts on a cold night after a long day at work. Or covering plants for frost protection. Have a feeling I’ll be doing that a few times this spring.

4/2/21 — 11:16 AM

Slowly coming around.

Cat looks like he’s enjoying the sun. Got to get moving myself

4/3/21 — 2:25 PM

A little ticked off and running short on time after my initial entry somehow got erased while I was trying to do a screenshot of the current forecast.

Not so bad here now that the latest vortex has passed.

Got going about 10 AM and had breakfast and made it to the pond to start the waterfalls running and have my uniforms washed and hanging out to dry. Was supposed to stop by the tax office but may end up putting that off until Monday. May give it a try on the way to the hardware store to get vinyl tubing for the 150 project. And then I’ll be heading off to Monroeville to hit Scotty’s and Elmer’s for pond and aquarium supplies.

Too bad I didn’t get started sooner as much of the day is now gone. I can still get something done when I get back and the coming days look promising enough. So I’ll get to where I want to be eventually.

A fully functioning Florida Room, pond and greenhouse as all were meant to be.

Update 5:34 PM

My days never turn out like planned.

Ended up at Walmart after running to the hardware store to get 4 feet of tubing for the project. Gas was getting low and things may be closing early for Easter so I dropped plans to go to Monroeville—possibly for the foreseeable future and I may just get what I want online and save the gas, mileage and time. It’s such a beautiful late afternoon going on evening that could be enjoyed more at home working on things there.

Was hoping I might get the barley pellets or straw at the pet shop in the Walmart plaza but they don’t have any. Did get a couple zoo med 40 watt daylight bulbs to replace the 60 watts from the dome fixtures on the new cages that were repurposed to the turtle cages. And some cool weather fish pellets and mini rock pools for the third shoe box enclosure for baby Gulf Coasts Boxies.

Thought about running across the way to look at a hot water heater at Busy Beaver but I’ll let that go until Monday so I can get home and get groceries put away and get back outside and get some things accomplished. Have the shopping out of the way, gas money and napkins and tea jugs for Easter dinner at work tomorrow. Nice that things are returning to normal. No more shortages of napkins or toilet paper and I was able to get cans of vanilla and cherry coke for my stash in the greenhouse. Those are finally available again.

And I don’t feel the need to wipe groceries down anymore!

4/3/21 — 7:34 PM

Had a slow evening in the ER.

Good thing because much of the time the front half was full and the back section was closed for lack of staffing until 7 P. Worst thing to happen was at 11P when my relief came out to the window and asked if I was ready to switch now—or wanted to stay there a little bit longer. That’s when I found out I was 3 to 3 AM!

Got out of there at 2 AM but that kind of set back my plans for an early rise. Got going about 10 AM and so far I’ve had breakfast and been up to the pond to find a planter basket to replace the one I use to cap the drain in the zinc tubs that got misplaced and turned the pumps on.

And I washed my uniforms which are hanging out to dry and contemplating my next move. Was supposed to stop by the tax office to sign my forms but the unexpected extension of my shift last night threw me off there and they might close early on Saturday. I’ll give it a try on my way to the hardware store to get vinyl tubing and clamps for the 150 so I can get going on that sooner rather than later and finally get a water test done.

Forward into Spring

4/4/21 — 12:01 PM

Last night I grilled 4 burgers.

Shhhhhh!

Don’t tell anybody that I used gasoline to ignite the briquettes for want of lighter fluid that I didn’t think to get while I was out yesterday. I used a small amount in last year’s can leftover from a futile attempt to ignite the second brush pile last month. Which was a waste considering I managed to get it going last week with just a bundle of dry broom sedge and a cigarette lighter when it had dried out after a succession of sunny days. At least it got the grill going.

Afterward I spent a couple hours in the Florida Room misting and watering plants and feeding turts. The Squares and areolata consumed a mix of soaked pellets after devouring a mass of chickweed and dandelion leaves earlier in the day.

Missed the perfect shot of #1—Emily/Emilio & the two areolata chowing down as the group had eaten their fill and were starting to disperse when I got back to take a picture.

Installed the new rock pool for the three hatching Gulfs split off from last years batch of 7.

One of the froggies was out and about. Going to have to move this one to the vivarium upstairs so he might mate with the female and beget a new generation before this one is gone. I’ve had them since 2015 and that may be pushing the envelope of longevity for frogs.

Made an interesting discovery. The Bantam Sunfishes like the kelp pellets that Anna Marie; former owner of the 150 tank gave me to feed the Texas Cichlids. Looking forward to getting those outside. They are big enough for breeding now. Going to have to brush up on sexing them and select a pair or trio for the 150 Rubbermaid pool and another for one of the 300s. Probably going to hold some back for redundancy. No point in putting all eggs in one basket.

Texas Cichlids are growing. And it looks like I may have a pair out of the four I bought last summer. They will all go into the 150 monster tank once it is fish ready. I’m working on that now.

I came up with two designs to solve the bulkhead dilemma. The one on the right was the first approach.

A sleeve of vinyl tubing over two pieces of PVC pipe butted together the tail piece glued onto the bulkhead and another bonded to the threaded fitting that goes into the female end of the valve.

Because the valve is very difficult to turn and I’m concerned about stress from the torque on the tank glass I decided to experiment with placement of the valve on the opposite end of a length of tubing that will hang down and I’m going with that. Less elegant but more give and less likelihood of cracking glass. And it will be hidden in the cabinet under the tank.

I could probably even have started water testing today were it not for want of a solution to the other two bulkheads that are for the return lines of the circulation pump. Will work on that tomorrow.

Update 1:54 PM

Day slipping away.

At least I got the issues with the monster tank solved. Would continue with it I’m the new thread but for time’s sake I’ll do it here.

Drain valves are hooked up.

Ran into an issue with the bulkheads that was almost a deal breaker.

The two that came with the tank and the set I got from Baker’s are different. The ones I have the vinyl tubing with the PVC tailpiece inserted in is a slip fitting but the other two are threaded. That was a brief frustration until I realized the threaded coupling is compatible with those! Should be a simple matter to get a couple of compatible 3/4” threaded barbs and some tubing and a pump and we are in business!

I can go to work and sleep on that this night and look forward to getting this phase done tomorrow!

4/5/21 — 4:34 PM

Again the day did not go as planned. Got a late start on everything again despite intentions to hit the ground running early. Did the Florida Room routine mid day and flumdiddled a while and got out of here late afternoon. Too late to bother with business planned at the credit union or to make another try at Monroeville. I’m still thinking of doing that.

Went closer to home. To the pipe shop to get a couple threaded fittings for the 150 project. Found out the bulkheads with the inside threads are from there. Then doubled back to Scottdale and got 15 feet of smaller tubing to complete the project.

Going to do that as soon as I finish writing.

We hit 70. It’s still there now.

Outside furnace is shut down. Will clean it out and get a new load in it ready to fire up as soon as necessary.Looking forward to a break from that for a while. At least it’s now easy to deal with an occasional cold night without the constant bleed of resources.

Put the male Gulf out yesterday and he found his way back to the mulch pile in the corner and dug back in on his own. He’s emerging again with the female who came from the same source and the active season is about to begin!

4/6/21 — 9:30 AM

The hookup is complete. I would have done a water test but want to make sure the bulkheads are on tight enough. Need to find the appropriate wrench. And not a bad idea to vacuum out the remaining dried muck and salt residue. Have more than enough tubing for the split line for the pump. A couple elbows will make the run over the rim more sightly.

Last night was the first one without a furnace.

This is wonderful and I’ll be able to get along without it for several days of highs in the 70s and lows of 50s. Like summer almost!

Update: going on 5:30 PM. Parking lot of PetCo in Monroeville.

Hit the jackpot on spider wood at Elmer’s.

Spent way more than intended but they just got a new shipment and there were some really good pieces that would not be there next time I come this way. Got enough to do most of the remaining tanks and I’ll be able to add new acquisitions to continue enhancing the aquascapes over time. Two really big ones will get the 150 started.

Got some additional stuff including a bag of live brine to give fish and newts and baby turtles a treat. Did not get the bucket of barley pellets that was my main objective though I did get some of the regular bales from Scotty’s where I stopped first thing.

Also got a big power filter from Scotty that is on the honor system because it was not part of the store inventory so I owe him $15 cash next visit. I’ll be back to check out the new plants that will be in soon and I’ll probably bring additional cash to get more as these are a bargain deal. I wrote the prices down. He also has a bunch of other stuff including powerheads.

Looking forward to installing that filter in the lower DD when I get home so that system can be brought back online for the JPTs. It’s time to get all the turts that live outdoors back onto their summer quarters. Thinking today I can probably get the bantams outside too—but I’ll wait and fatten them up a little and make sure the breeding tub is ready and safe.

Turned out an awesome day.

Too bad I didn’t take the time to enjoy it. More I get done now is more time later to do that. So nice now that I don’t have to do so much just to keep my house at a comfortable temperature. Loading the furnace every night after a long shift was getting old. May have to do it a few more times going into the next month but it’s almost over and even now should something fail I can still get by without a heating system. It would be miserable at times but survivable.

7:09 PM

Back home. Got everything laid out by the cellar door. Will take the barley bales and other pond supplies up to the site now and bring in the spider wood and tank supplies later. Thinking I might soak the wood in the pond for a while to prep it for the tanks.

First day in a long time since I’ve worn swimming trunks. Hope the pond will be comfortable for wading. I must regardless to replace the strainers and sponges on the pondmasters and deploy the barley and maybe reposition the spawning mops.

The goldfish looked interested in those when I checked the pond earlier in the day.

4/7/21 — 12:28 PM

The cats & I went to the pond this evening.

Fed the fish some cool weather pellets. The two pale ones are the Palomino Redbreasted Sunfishes. Think I saw a normal phase one earlier. Between these and the two I have indoors I may yet be able to jumpstart the population again. And I’ll at least have heterozygous offspring.

One of the cats was very interested!

Deployment of the new filter was a disasterville. I probably should have stuck with the original one that was still in situ and was working fine when I plugged it in. The tubing was very stubborn to get free from the connection which broke off rendering the device useless. Adding insult to injury the new filter keeps coming apart and is not really suitable for a system with turtles. And it seems less powerful than the one it replaced. Probably going to have to get a Pondmaster like the one in the first pen.

That fiasco took up a lot of time. Didn’t get the barley straw and new filter sponges into the pond until dusk.

Got the 150 vacuumed out and set some of the spider wood in place. And the tubing for the filtration system is rigged. Only a couple feet leftover so not too much waste there. When I get it filled I’ll test that new filter I got. Have an idea it might be inadequate for this application as well so I’ll probably get a smaller Pondmaster for this as well as the lower DD system.

Got some spider wood onto the upper tank of the first 40B duo. One piece will float for a few days until it gets sufficiently waterlogged to sink. Also a piece of eucalyptus root in the center of the tank. The spider wood should darken to match that better based on observation of the pieces I put into the bantam tank.

Not bad for a day. Got more nice pictures of the pond and the Room but it’s getting late and I need to get rested because I have a patient lifting class tomorrow at 07:00. Thankfully it’s at the closer hospital and only lasts an hour or less so I’ll be able to get more done and enjoy the day before 3-11 shift.

4/8/21 — 7:47 AM

Quite a day yesterday.

After dragging myself out early to go to a refresher training I find the class was canceled. Was the perfect day again but I spent most of the morning in the basement maintaining the FL Room and catching up on water changes. And then tinkering with the big tank.

I’m hesitant to do the water test because of the bulkhead issue. Concerned the big stiff tubing will put too much torque on them and I’m unable to find a way to tighten them. Seriously considering scrapping the expensive tubing I just invested in and the valves and get two more bulkheads with threaded fittings and just cap or plug everything so I can go with hand tightened bulkhead and just use the big 3 foot python tube to clean the tank as I do the others.

Slowly getting the turts outside. Baby Gulfs from the garage—some of which I noticed are becoming more high colored than the 4 hold back specimens I kept awake all winter.

Carried the big Agave celsei out of the greenhouse to make room in the Florida Boxies pen. Ran out of time for getting the CBTs and JPTs out. Will try this morning to get beyond that tipping point so we can fall into the warm season routine.

Now I’m struggling to get going this morning after a busy evening at work and an 11 to 11 shift looming. And even worse—another 3 to 3AM on Friday that sets up for a serious crunch with the 8:30 AM appointment with Honda on Saturday. Made that under the assumption I was working a 3 to 11 like last Friday.

4/9/21 — 1:49 PM

Ray & I were having an interesting conversation today in regard to a recent Camp Kennan video concerning a near miss with Kennan’s Water Monitor Slinky who almost died as a result of cold stunning in one of those infrequent cold snaps that sometimes hit south Florida.

This brought back memories of a few near misses and losses I’ve suffered through the years and we sort of had a debate whether Slinky is an Asian Water Monitor or a Mertens—a species from Australia with semi aquatic proclivities. I did a little research to settle it and then talked about it and some of Kennan’s philosophical points on making sure an animal is dead before you bury or dispose of the carcass.

I took my time with Franklin and the younger male Gulf Coast who froze to death in 2017.

That’s how the tradition of the wake before a funeral came into being. Before the advent of cardiac monitoring; human cadavers were notorious for coming back to life hours or days after dying and no doubt suffering horribly when they woke up in their coffins 6 feet under! They were never dead to begin with but their vital signs were so feeble that they could not be detected by low tech means.

Anyway my morning started off with the Florida Room and I made my way from there to the pond where I discovered a near disasterville. Left the pumps running all day and overnight and the pond was down significantly!

Not as bad as last time and fortunately I have a good enough spring flow to replace the water loss.

Hope by tomorrow it will be full again for maybe the Perfect Day.

Got a Smart Pond 180 installed and running. Found a way to join it to the Little Giant box filter but not with the fitting that joins the pump to the tubing. That will require an additional fitting to extend out a little from the body of the box so there is room for the fitting with the control valve.

That actually can be pushed into the tubing and twisted in and the threads bite their way in and can be reversed to get it back out with less risk of breakage.

4/10/21 — 10:00 AM

Canceled my Honda appointment for this morning earlier this week because I realized I had another 3 to 3 shift the following day.

Ironically the charge nurse let me go early; at midnight so I could have made it to the garage this morning and would be there now had I not rescheduled. But now I have all day to do my thing here. Already was in the Florida Room misting the air plants and vivariums when the lights came on. Then misted the vivarium in my bedroom and got a gallon jar of water to flush the rock pool for the female Marsupial Frog. Time to get serious about breeding those.

Also time to get serious about ordering the Tetra Pump and whatever plants I’m going to do this spring. The Lotuses before they sell out and a couple of choice items. Found sources of the Creeping Rush—Juncus repens and a Jointed Rush—Eleocharis interstincta which is almost identical to the other species I have grown—E. equestiodes and may end up being the same as it would be easy to confuse the two and both are found in Florida and other southern coastal areas.

Those and there are some other things I’m looking to get.

Going to be 70s today. Looking forward to running the watercourse while I tinker with things at that site and go back and forth between there and the Room and Greenhouse. And try to do final editing and send off the winter edition of the Diaries.

4/10/21 — 2:00 PM


My back porch.

Back from late morning banking and early afternoon shopping and it’s 80 degrees plus in the shade!

A bit off from the official temperature in town. Kind of surprising considering this is rural and northerly facing hollow which ought to be a cooler microclimate. The online site is also cooler. Guess this is one weather station where they aren’t cooking the books in favor of globull warming by placing the thermometer in a hot urban parking lot. I’m guessing it might be at one of the schools on the outskirts of town.

As for the day so far; it stated off in the Room with misting the cages around daybreak—which is 8 AM when the first set of lights—cages and shop lights over the Table come on. Then after breakfast I made a trek to the pond and spotted the Euro Pond out on land trying to warm up for the day.

Pretty impressive sight. If only I still had the female. Will start looking for one as soon as I catch up on other things.

Pond filled to capacity overnight after I unclogged the line from the catch basin yesterday morning and got a steady stream equivalent to a garden hose coming in. Now would be a good time to start siphoning goop off the bottom. Need to devise a system first. But today I’ll at least take advantage of the opportunity to get the 300s filled so I can get those ready for occupation.

Killed a water snake I found in the access well for the pond’s electrical system. Had a lump in it—probably a fish or frog but so far all the goldfish in the main pond are present. Hope it was not the small one I found in the tub this spring. Need to get rid of those because the one I killed today is capable of swallowing the bantam sunfishes I want to put in there.

5:22 PM

Slow as usual getting started.

Went to the pond and fed the fish and fetched the Python hook fitting that normally belongs at the cellar sink from the greenhouse to do a water test on the corner wells of the 150. Figure I’ll do that before making the decision to scrap the existing plan and hardware for a simpler one.

Results are mixed.

No problems with the seals of the bulkheads against the glass but some leakage from the threads of some of the fittings. Either more Teflon tape or pipe dope to seal them better.

Because both wells are connected via the pump tubing with the T fitting, filling and testing both wells was simplified. Only needed to fill one to fill the other. And I discovered the seal on the one on the left hand side is faulty because some of the water leaked onto the main part of the tank. A problem I can live with. Just as long as I can solve the issues with the fittings and the tank itself holds water when filled to capacity.

Borrowed transfer tubing from the pond site to drain it out. Later I’ll brainstorm it and decide what I’m going to do. This is going to take a while. Good thing I’ve got the season to tweak it while the fish are outside.

Now I’ll use the same hook to start filling the 300s from the pond while I move the remaining turts out. And I’ll hook up the Patio hook that also services the kitchen tanks and fill the half barrels while the filling of the big ones are underway. I’ll get that done at least. And grill a steak.

The Globull Warming Vortex

4/21/21 — 08:00 AM

If this keeps up the ground will be white by time I leave this morning!

https://www.liberalforum.org/topic/243703-the-140-year-failed-history-of-gorebull-warming-and-ice-ages-doom-in-other-words-the-sky-is-falling-mantra-has-been-going-on-for-decades-and-no-one-really-gives-a-flip-because-of-all-the-lies/

In 1938 they actually got it right. Someone acknowledged that humanity and life on Earth in general would benefit from higher CO2 and a warmer climate. Especially people who live in colder countries—like little Miss Greta.

Or me!

It was obviously too good to be true.

April 21 2021

The Earth Day Polar Vortex is incoming!

Go figure: another one.

09:01 AM

My two poor Chameadorea “Douglas Delight”.

Got to bring them in!

4/22/21 — 10:22 AM

Couldn’t ask for a better birthday present! See issue from a couple years ago:

https://ncc-1776.org/tle2019/tle1017-20190421-09.html

Or last year’s:

https://ncc-1776.org/tle2020/tle1071-20200607-08.html

And to think I was concerned this issue might not be sufficiently dramatic!

I managed to get the palms dragged in before work yesterday. They will be ok.

And the big Agave celseii was moved back into the greenhouse.

Did that in the rush to get out the door yesterday along with making sure the turts were dug in.

was luck I don’t have much outside yet so the move was less troublesome than in previous years. This cold snap does not look as bad as the one last year and I’m hoping to get through it with less issue than the big ones last spring required monumental efforts in covering plants and pushing emergent pond plants with tender growth into deep water for protection. And still got a lot of burnt and melted ferns and hostas.

It did not go far below freezing last night though my furnace was not keeping up so I switched over to burning oil rather than waiting for the system to catch up on wood after loading up. And I’ll probably do it again to get through the coming night.

Not as beat up physically yesterday as the previous day and that was kind of surprising because I was starting to think then that might be a sign that I’m becoming physically incapable of doing my job because I’m getting old. I turned 59 today.

Going to try to make up for the failure of the other day at least in the way of getting a lot done indoors and in the greenhouse. If the sun continues to shine it might be a decent day to clean out the inside pond and start tidying up the interior.

Going to get moving on that now.

Would write about my existential concern that was bugging me on the final leg of my shift last night but don’t want to dwell on that now at the expense of my home front. It’s actually about that. A conflict of interests and feeling guilty because I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Dodge last night and leave behind all the problems of the World. And my underlying dread that someday we’ll have a society in which we are forced to live just for the system and not our own lives. This is sort of where I’ve been trying to go with this particular philosophical thread but always loose focus or like right now; I’ve got other stuff that needs to get done. But I have a more coherent vision for articulating it and I will eventually when I have the time.

11:26 AM

Earth Hour coming up!

I’m celebrating it in my Florida Room with artificial sunshine and wind that sustains an artificial ecosystem that is better than the real thing and can be set up anywhere on, under or above Earth.

The Eleocharis (jointed spike rush) is incoming. Departed the Fed Ex facility in Plant City FL this morning and should be here this evening. Going to get a planter and growing medium ready.

4/23/21 — 1:02 AM

Burning the late night oil.

Did two projects in the Room today.

Got to fiddling around with the tray gardens in the afternoon and downsized the Anthurium berriozabalense to a large net pot like the red anthurium is in. It had recently suffered major leaf loss that may have been caused by piss ants that had a colony going among the roots. A couple weeks ago most of the leaves turned yellow and fell off. Then two more new leaves are coming up so the dieback may be a seasonal thing.

So I figured I might as well cut the roots back to fit the 6” net pot and standardize the husbandry of the genus. Hope I don’t didn’t traumatize it too badly. Put the net pot it’s in inside the the square bucket planter it was in—with some clay pebbles to sit on top of for drainage and I’ll just lift it out and soak it in a bucket to water and feed like I’m doing the red andreanum hybrid that lives in the half moon planter with the Guzmania bromeliad on the side of the Table.

That way it will get frequent attention and soaks that will discourage ants from taking up residence in the pot again!

I also readjusted the trays to make them more level and removed a section of the egg crate drainage grid so the Epiweb drip wall for the Syngonium rayii vines can go all the way down into the water that remains after the irrigation pump is unplugged and wick water upward to keep the Epiweb moist.

Another nice elegant incremental improvement.

Readjusted the lower tray to shift the rock facing back and open up the tub a little more. Wanted to get it so the light will hit the moss on that rim. Not quite there but I might be able to pull it off later when I break down and remove the Table like I did last summer to work on the ROR panels.

Then got the plants back in place and corrected a few issues with them. Like some of the Earthstars that keep getting uprooted when get snagged when I’m moving other plants. Used floral wire to anchor them in the pots to put an end to such disturbance and give them a chance to get well rooted.

Did a brief trip up to the pond site to enjoy it a little. But did not linger long. Rescued and reburied a young CBT that was hunkered down in a corner of the pen and apparently spent last night exposed. Yikes! Still alive but close call.

My evening project was also in the Room.

I was toying earlier with arrangements of air plants on the log that rests on the Table Wall and decided to do something about the stability issue. The upper end has a piece of copper tubing pounded into it that inserts into the spray foam rock structure but the lower end is prone to slipping. Used a small piece of metal flashing bent to conform to the upper edge of the wall and attached to the log with a small screw. Then I spray foamed over it to hide the metal. Should be ready to carve.

My other plans fell by the wayside and the plant that was supposed to be coming by 8 PM this evening is apparently still at the FedX terminal in Ohio. So much for better birthday presents. Maybe tomorrow.

04/23/21 — 03:09 AM

Log finished.

I started carving the foam right after last entry. It does not take long for small jobs like this to cure. Unlike bigger ones such as the rock facings and vivarium backgrounds.

Air plants are back on and the Anthurium and big Guzmania are back in place. Was thinking about making a similar contraption to hang a pot on the top of the wall in the space under the log by the corner of the tank but That’s a future project.

Note the empty holes in the rock facing on the upper tray. I lost a lot of small plants to dehydration on that one including one of the regular Guzmania lingulata. And the second one of those which survived and I was hoping to get offsets broke off tonight. I was trying to pack the net pot it was in with more coco fiber so it would fit more snuggly.

Put both parts on a bed of sphagnum in a gallon jar and will keep them warm and brightly lit because it’s possible and even likely that the injury will stimulate offsets to form new plants. Also have a tray of seedlings from the pods of the first plant that died. And two more adult plants in the big vivarium.

I had another flat of seedlings that had a slug in it mowing them down and also damaged the Anthurium crystallinium that I was regenerating for probably third or fourth time—which was rescued and isolated just in the nick of time last week. It has multiple shoots and I’m hopping to finally get a decent clump like I had before to go into the corner somewhere above the berriozabalense.

Just in case the box was dropped at the end of the lane I did a late night trip to the mailbox. It was not there. And I checked to make sure the turtles were dug in.

Furnace fed and all is well at 3 AM. Glad I don’t work 11 AM.

01:01 PM

Eleocharis interstincta is here.

It was something like $30 for an order of 6 well grown plants in what appears to be rock wool plugs in 2” net pots that are ready to go into 6” Lerio containers and eventually into bigger Lerios—but not too big because they have to come into the greenhouse for the winter.

Hard to see the striations that make this rush and the closely related and almost same E. equestioides; the Horsetail Spike Rush.

According to Hotchkiss—one of my favored sources for identifying native aquatic plants the Southern Joined Spike Rush (interstincta) is distinguished by the congested segments near the end of the stem.

Those don’t show up well in the photos but the plants I got are like that.

Going to start them tomorrow in the greenhouse. They’ll keep for the day in the Florida Room. Waiting on the three Creeping Sedges—Juncus repens from another source. Hoping it will come soon. It’s out for delivery but 2PM when I have to leave for work is getting near. More likely I’ll get it tonight when I get back.

4/24/21 — 01:00 PM

Saturday off to a good start.

Misted the plants and vivariums in the FL Room after breakfast and then made a run out to get cash from the bank and to Baker’s for another bulkhead.

Creeping Sedge arrived in a small box that was delivered after my departure yesterday afternoon and I got it on the way in and kept it in the Room overnight and removed the plants from the bags and dropped them onto the deep portion of the turtle tub for now. Hopefully they won’t get eaten before I get to them. They are in rock wool plugs in 2” net pots like the Eleocharis and I’ll transfer them to Lerio pots and grow with just a little bit of water over them in the greenhouse for a while.

Nice to be getting back on the road to restoring the awesome elements of the flora that I’ve lost over the years. Now I’m going to try kickstarting the greenhouse today as I work on these ongoing projects.

Did it!

Tubs at the greenhouse site are filled and ready for the warmer days to come. Hopefully sooner rather than later as another polar vortex or something is influencing the weather again.

Started off inside potting up the Juncus plugs in 4” Lerios that went into the half barrel in the greenhouse. Then proceeded to the Jointed Rushes which I put into what looks like 14” Lerios. Not exactly sure of the size but these were the same containers I had the similar species in before.

I actually wanted to go a little smaller for space concerns since I’ll be wintering these in the greenhouse. But I only have one 12” container and it has a split in the bottom. So for now these will have to do. Went ahead and planted them two per container. Figure you might not be interested in them and if I sent one it might not handle the trip well. These are fussy plants that that are prone to transplant shock and have given me trouble in the past. First attempt to bring a few offshoots back from Florida was a failure. It was in the fall and they quickly langished in pots on the windowsill. Had good luck with the other species from NC for a while but lost it and the attempt to reestablish it from new divisions in the spring of 2012 failed. I think the problem was that I had to collect in haste to avoid drawing public notice and didn’t get strong enough divisions that have a better chance of taking.

The option of getting well started plants from a nursery is always better.

And yet the plants received yesterday are already showing signs of stress or shock from the sudden change of climate. Some stems yellowing. But they’re not so damaged like a fresh division so there is less chance of rot while they try to adjust and await the return of warmth that brighter days will bring.


And so here they are in the greenhouse to hopefully recover and start growing again and then I’ll put them out into the “ditch”—probably after Memorial Day.

Came up with a creative way to keep the tubing from slipping out of the tubs when the water surges through. Nice to have the Hurricane to do this. The transfer is way faster than the sump pump. Not more than a half hour to drain the inside pond putting half the water into each tub and topping off with spring water. Then moved the plants out to the tubs. Jungle Val, Sagittarias, milfoil and a floating heart. This pretty much jumpstarts the tubs for the season. Inside pond I’ll clean out tomorrow and refill and continue decluttering the greenhouse. Already carried out planters with dead plants and some live ones as well to make room and give those some refreshing rain. It’s been spitting a little through the late afternoon. That did not hinder me but I was getting tired by 5 PM and figured I’d done about all I’m going to do for the day.

Got to go out and stop the hose because the second tub should be filled if not overflowing. Thinking about Chinese as I’m hungry and tired so I don’t care to cook this evening. Will probably put shopping off another day too. Article is also in doubt. I wanted to write the Earth Day special but running out of time and energy for good quality work.

Might as well go celebrate what I have accomplished for it deserves celebration. Going to go to the local restaurant again because I don’t care to run up to Greensburg just for the Frog Legs and Ribs.

4/29/21

Been like this much of the day.

A long steady drizzle that has overnight filled the pond to the brim even though the spring flow has yet to pick up. I checked things out when I ventured up to fetch the sump pump so I could transfer water out of the half barrel at the cellar door and swap it out for a regular barrel to catch and store more water in the drier months.

That was my major accomplishment of the day so far aside from tending the Florida Room and taking some of the plants out earlier to give them a good shower.

Some of the Anthuriums and the two Aglaonemas and brought out the two offsets of that pink daisy thing (some kind of chrysanthemum I pinched a piece of last fall and nursed over the winter. Time to get that acclimated and in the ground in hope for blooms this fall.

This is one of the blue barrels I use to hold rainwater in the colder months using the half barrel as a temporary catch basin to collect water from the downspout opportunistically during mild spells when precipitation is in the liquid form. How I got this system going; I waited too long to drain and mothball a rain barrel and the upper end was split by the ice expansion but the lower half was salvageable and the idea occurred to me that it would make for an easy way to catch water in the winter time and much easier to dump or pump out quickly when a cold snap is coming.

This easily provides what I need to fill the jugs I use in the Room for filling the mister and squeeze bottles.

Here is the new arrangement.

The plan is to put two barrels in place and link them to fill both and then overflow onto the catch tub. Going to try to make it look real nice by continuing the block retaining wall from the cellar door around the bed to the front steps and fill that bed with river rock mulch and have a few plants.

It’s a very slow dribble since the rain has let up but I anticipate the barrel will be filled later this evening when the storms come. I regret not having two barrels in place linked and ready to go. Ditto for the ones at the greenhouse. Got the bulkheads last year but have yet to get around to getting them installed. It’s a matter of finding some old garden hose or other appropriate tubing to connect them and a spade bit or hole saw to make the holes. Need to dig out and remove the sunken barrels behind the greenhouse to do the work and that’s the major impediment.

Torn between a shopping trip vs working in the greenhouse. But it looks so depressing even in there. There’s also the pond. May need to find a larger diameter tubing for the siphon to prevent clogging down line. That was a problem when I tried it again. Yesterday. Maybe I’ll look for some hose for the barrels and see what I can do about that also.

There’s the matter of the furnace. Going to need it another night or two when the weather turns. Had the blower shut off and lost the fire overnight and it won’t rekindle on it’s own. System is functioning on residual boiler heat but that won’t last forever. By tomorrow it will start to slip. It’s still at 72 indoors with the thermostat set at 70.

6:49 PM

Next project: the long overdue installation of the bulkheads on the rain barrels.

Was toying around with the idea of trying to link two barrels with a section of old garden hose which I was going to make more pliable by dipping the ends in a pot of boiling water while having a late lunch.

It was then I stumbled across the leftover section of black rubber tubing leftover from the section used to reconnect the second Pondmaster. It slips on easily and fits snuggly enough that I can get away with not using clamps for this application. More expensive option but beats the crap out of messing with that old hard hose and boiling water.

11:05 PM

Settled in after a late taco dinner I made after doing a little more in the Fl Room. Brought in the plants that spent the day out in the rain one at a timw by osmosis as I came in and out of the basement.Misted the air plants again and the cages to get onto the habit for when I finally get lizards in them and to encourage the plants to take hold. Also did a little experiment with an aerosol can cap that has a little hole in it.

Poised it on the ventilation strip on top of both of the future Abronia cages and let it drip down on the vines and bromeliads to see if I can create a drip watering system as a prelude or even an alternative to an automated misting system. That in combination with manual misting might even work just as well for lizards that are droplet drinkers as an expensive Mist King which I also have another reservation regarding. The drainage issue and I’m reluctant to drill my bottom glass at this point and risk breakage.

Seems to work well. What I’ll probably do is rig some plastic jars with tiny bulkheads or uniseal fittings and airline tubing or get a similar contraption from a pet shop or reptile show.

Have the timers on bypass. The turts on the Table setup started coming out so I offered them soaked food sticks and pellets. Let the bolder of the Squares (Emily / Emilio?) and the two areolata feed first and then removed them to give the two remaining Squares; Sinclair & picky Isabella a chance.

Life is good in the Florida Room!

Sinclair is feeding better and starting to enter another growth spurt. Before long they’ll be in the greenhouse and I’ll be able to break the setup down again and get at the walls which I want to tweak a little and do other work in the way of repositioning and remounting lights and riggingceiling hooks for hanging plants and other things that are difficult to do with the Table in the way stuff I was going to do late last summer but I got in a rush to get stuff back in there and it was very difficult on myown and I didn’t want to turn around and undo it again so soon.

The bag of bulkheads for the remaining barrels. Looking forward to getting that done ASAP. The prospect makes me more enthusiastic about everything else as well.

4/30/21

Used the old wood burning pen and box knife to cut a hole in the first barrel and got a bulkhead in place. Before doing that; I removed the first barrel in the row behind the greenhouse to get at the second.

The first one is not as deeply set into the earth and when empty requires no major effort to lift out and have room to work on the second one. Then do the first while it’s out of the ground. That’s why I started with these two.

Once the tubing is in place it’s a simple matter to set the other barrel back in and use the washer to trace a circle for the threaded end of the bulkhead that goes through the hole. The leftover tubing was just long enough to do the job.

It was quick and easy to work on the first barrel ex-situ which was a good thing because the rain was starting to set in again. This project was beset by several issues with finding stuff—the wood burning pen—which I did manage to locate and the sharpie marker which I didn’t—so I used a regular pen instead which works better than my dull scribe.

Broke a stem on the red trillium that volunteered at the base of the barrel several years ago. May be able to splint it tomorrow with a piece of scotch tape and shouldn’t have to disturb it anymore.

This was the tipping point for the project. I’ll be able to reverse the process working in the opposite direction digging and lifting out a barrel at a time to get at the leading edge of each one to start the next connection and so on and so on until I reach the end of the row. Then connect the catch barrel with those and the two on the end.

Barrels

5/2/21 — 2:32 PM

A break in the rainy weather finally!

Looks inviting out there.

Dogwood in full bloom.

And noticed earlier there is a rhododendron bud gearing up to bloom. The wildflowers at the pond ought to look awesome.

4:45 PM

The rain barrel project resumes.

Dug out the next two. Had to use the pump to empty one that had just enough water to make it too heavy to lift out of the ground. Transferred that to the ones on the end wall which are near filled. Another one is almost full. Somehow water got into it again after it was mothballed. When I get to it I’ll transfer the water to the other ones that will be hooked up. Want to conserve because there’s no guarantee of sufficient rainfall in the future.

6:28 PM

Project stalled.

The wood burning pen burned out on the first hole. Tried several fallback options. Hole saw which I was reluctant to use because they are notorious for skipping and messing things up. But it is not compatible with my plug in drill and the battery powered ones need new batteries and chargers and are probably no longer compatible with what’s available because the designs keep changing. Tried to just cut out the tracing with the box knife. Slow process and then the blade broke. Then a spade bit which is compatible with the electric drill. But the one I used to do the hole in the barrel filter for the DD system—which may be the same one I need for this project—is missing.

Go figure something critical will break on a Sunday evening after all the hardware stores have closed. That’s what happened with the first DD project when I discovered that I’d gotten some wrong sized boards for the end pieces. That was actually a blessing in disguise because it led to a design change with the end of the upper pen nested on the lower one that had a much better outcome than originally plans.

Guess I can look for the spade bit. And I have another burning pen but no idea where it might be. Just amazing where stuff you were tripping over last week goes when you need it most! I have to do something soon with whatever I can find because it’s going to rain again tomorrow and it would be nice to have a few more hooked up to catch the water.

I found this poor thing on the way to the greenhouse. Gravid female Green Frog that probably tangled with a cat or a snake and got a hole ripped in her side and the eggs are spilling out. She looks alive but won’t move when nudged. Probably doomed and I’m not going to mess with her. Just let nature take its course.

5/3/21 - 1:06 AM

Managed to pull out of that stall and scrape together the resources to continue on.

My tool with the vibrating blade that I got to cut out the slots for the heating pad in the surface of the Turtle Table last summer. A serrated steak knife and a file that I used previously for similar work on the Rubbermaid 300s.

Used the power tool to cut out a triangular hole inside the circle I traced.

Used the knife to cut out smaller triangular pieces working away at the area inside the circle.

Then used the file to rip away the remaining plastic and smooth out the opening to accommodate the threaded end of the bulkhead.

Put both on this barrel and set it in place so I could then work on the next one and set it in place and connect. Had problems connecting to the previous set because I didn’t cut off enough tubings and had to cut another piece. Hard to cut it properly because the Bulkheads were too close so the second cut was was not much better but I made it work.

My other problem.

Ran out of day. Decided to quit there and filled in the dirt and went into the house to do dinner. Then while I was eating I began to think more about tomorrow which according to the current forecast will be wet. Then I remembered I have a work light.

So I was able to dig up the next three and carry them to the house and work on them under the overhang of the back porch.

Got one more done and can do the other two in the morning. Even if it rains I can carry them to put them in place and the digging is all done.

10:22 AM

Started off the morning listening to a John Stossel two parter on socialism followed by Jordan Peterson on creative individuals and creativity. From the latter it clicked that what I did last night with my project was a good example of how—now I’d have to backtrack on the video to get the exact quote but it was something about how necessity; actually he did say “constraints on resources” drives creativity. That was definitely my project last night!

Some other important point too but I’ll put those on hold least I digress at the expense of time and it’s going on 10 Am now. I continued with Peterson through breakfast and on the trek to the greenhouse where I put the video on pause to take pictures and will finish it later.

I also carried up the barrel I worked on last night and set it in place and did the hookup.

Set these a little farther apart and got a better connection. The previous one is a bit kinked but should be serviceable. Though about trying to lift that barrel and move it a little but decided to put up with the imperfection for the sake of time and working conditions. It was getting late and the storm system that arrived late last night was incoming.

As expected it’s a bit of a mess with the raw clay exposed and light rain—but manageable. Barrels that are connected are filling but far from capacity. I might be able to get the other two I have out of the ground connected and I’ll be set for a while.

Those are sitting by the back porch waiting to be holed and fitted with bulkheads. Another first thought mistake: in my anxiousness to get the barrel I finished last night in place I forgot that I was going to use it to measure the spacing for the ones on the two remaining. I’ll have to go back up and measure there or just do my best to guesstimate. It’s not rocket science. I’m rushing but I really want to get them in the ground and backfilling done before heavier rains arrive later in the day. Otherwise the loose dirt will get saturated and sloppy.

5/12/21 — 2:39 PM

After a long hiatus I’m Done!

Started off late morning and just finished up going on 2 PM. It was almost a compromise. Could not make the connections between the end barrel and the one between it and the catch barrel. It was more feasible to go from there to the first one on the back row so I did that and was going to settle for for just using a corrugated tubing siphon from the catch barrel to the first one reasoning that it would be a simple matter to keep a 25 foot roll on hand to replace in the event of pinholes. However I got my second wind mentally after taking a brief break and figured out a better way to get it done.

I decided on using a long length of tubing to do a run around the first barrel to the end one and put a bulkhead next to the one I installed yesterday evening. So the water will go from the first to the end and then to the first which becomes the second and from there around the corner to the back row.

This is the easiest way to go.

Did some creative plugging and transferring of water to make this happen. And a little digging and tweaking to sit the catch barrel slightly lower than the others so it can overflow onto the spillway once the system is full. Too much detail to go into so I’ll economize my time and words.This is it. The outcome and it looks good. Removed the plugs so the water can equalize again and then the system will be ready for the next rain. Looking forward to landscaping the area around the spillway and greenhouse in general as I have been envisioning for many years. Will take the remainder of the afternoon to tidy up the area.

I have time for that now because the barrel project is done!

Vacation Week

5/15/21 — 11:00 AM

Off to a good start after a moderately busy evening last night and a successful tech competency class. Passed the arrhythmia test which was not as tough as I feared it would be. Only one heart block strip and it was second degree type two / Mobitz.

Yesterday I printed out the study guide that the instructor sent out but it’s been so busy lately I haven’t been in the email at work for quite a while. Wish I had gotten that sooner but I have been studying blocks in the internet for a while and trying to interpret what I see on EKG printouts and monitor screens. I missed seeing an interesting one—a junctional bradycardia on a patient that the doctor suddenly called for the crash cart and pacer pads while I was in the process of hooking the patient up for the EKG!

I forgot my papers when I left work last night so had to default back to looking up strips of various types online again for a brief time and reading the heart block poem again—

“If the Q is far from P you have First Degree”.

“Longer, longer, longer, longer, drop; then you have Wenckebach”.

“If the Ps don’t get through you have have Mobitz ll”.

“If the Ps & Qs don’t agree you have Third Degree”.

And then I slept on it figuring it would be better to get a decent rest and have a clear and nimble mind than stay up late cramming for the test. I was up at 6 and reset the alarm for 6:30 to get a little extra sleep and made breakfast and ended up rushing to get there on time by the skin of my teeth. Got to stop doing that. At least the class is done and I’m good for another year and I’m actually getting interested in arrhythmias and can recognize many just on sight so my nurse manager and the late Big Bob who was a cardiovascular basket case with two heart attacks and bypass surgeries and a diagram of a heart on his bedroom wall will be proud.

I could go on about that and other stuff but I need to get started on the morning routine for the Florida Room that I skipped over and continue on with the tidying up in and around the greenhouse that I started yesterday.

Looking beautiful outside.

The forecast has been all over the place. Yesterday it was going to rain. And this may be the last of the unseasonably cool days as tomorrow and Monday it starts pushing up to the upper 60s and then 70s and a few 80 degree days after that. Hopefully the end of the winter heating season. I let the outside furnace burn down to near nothing and was unable to get the new wood to ignite yesterday afternoon so I unplugged both the blower and the circulating pump last night and switched to oil again. Think I’ll try to light it up this evening and do a final burn to use up the wood I put in and try to burn out the creosote in the firebox before mothballing for the summer.

5/16/21 — 6:54 PM

Day two.

Not getting much done but it is a vacation and I’m entitled to some rest. Took me all day to get outside both yesterday and today. Contrary to expectations that passing my arrhythmia test with flying colors would jumpstart an awesome vacation week.

Messed around inside most of Saturday and did a little more tidying up and weeding around the greenhouse. Then retired back indoors to work on an article that took too long and did not make today’s edition. Going to do a rewrite on that for next weekend.

Late catfish dinner. Just two fillets and tartar sauce from scratch. No sides because it was too late for a heavy meal. Never made it to the Florida Room that day. Did get in there this morning to do the watering and misting routine and feed the fish. Looks like the white worms in the new culture that is almost ready are crashing. They’re crawling up the sides and many of them look limp like they get when overheated. They’re supposed to be a warmth tolerant strain and it never gets hot in the basement so it might be a soil issue. Going to have to harvest more from the original culture to start another on with a different substrate.

Sunday evening I finally make it outside to the pond this time. Carried up some jugs of pee I saved to dump on the compost piles to accelerate decomposition. Fed the fish.

It’s about time to switch to the regular warm season pellets. Today is the last of the cool weather even though it’s been the best day so far as warmth is concerned. 66 degrees and partly sunny. Tomorrow the 70s begin and then 80s. I’ll finally be able to get back into the pond and pick up where I left off with goop removal and start tending and repotting plans. Can also get fish outside along with the new Lotus plants and start feeding turtles on a regular basis.

Lots of nice things happening at the pond. I’m taking time to enjoy running the watercourse and the flowers while doing a little light work clearing leaves and other junk off the waterfalls and pulling some weeds.

Got burgers thawing and will fire up the grill at sunset. I also tried to start the tractor on the way up and it almost turned over on the first crank before dying so I think I’ll be able to jumpstart it with the car. Need to

Get that going. Already way behind on the mowing and the grass is getting high. Which brings on another issue:

Ticks.

I have to keep a watch for those. I’ve see a lot of patients who come in to have them removed in the ER. Don’t want to get Lyme Disease but damned if I want another $200 copay for something like that. There’s nothing they can do to keep you from getting it once bitten. You might as well remove it yourself and watch for symptoms and see a doctor if you have any. Chances are good you won’t get infected if you get the tick off right away including the mouth part that does the blood sucking. I use a tick picker that looks like a tiny plastic crowbar to pry them out.

So far I haven’t gotten any this year but chances are I will now since I’ve started doing a lot of weeding which is high risk for coming into contact with them.

I just swatted a mosquito.

Whenever I do that I often think about a teacher who explained the concept from eastern religions of not killing other animate life including bloodsucking insects. He said they believe that mosquito might be your “Aunt Zelda” who got reincarnated as such. The way I look at it you may be doing deceased relatives a big favor in the way of affording them the opportunity to move on to a higher form of life.

10:00 PM

Late evening.

Burgers on the grill and I’m reading a whole bunch of articles about Biden becoming Jimmy Carter 2.0. Maybe he’s 2.5 since we used to consider Obama 2.0. But even Obama was reasonably competent. And Peanut Man had enough of a mind that he was not a sock puppet for the radical left as Joe Fool is. It’s going viral. I wonder if he’s nearing the end of his usefulness and it’s time to step down and let the Berkeley radical take his place?

On the other hand you don’t have to be incompetent to be a disasterville President. Just bent on bad policies that undermine prosperity and freedom.

Disasterville President. Has a nice ring to it.

The attempt to jumpstart the tractor was a failure. Even after letting it charge while I took time to fire up Old Smokey for what I’m hoping to be the final burn. Looks like I’ll be needing to get a new battery. It’s the original that came with it and I got the machine in 2013 so it’s old.

Have the boiler turned up to 140 and the thermostat in the living room at 70. Going to let it burn all night with the aim of burning out the creosote and then let it go until the fuel is exhausted and the heat in the boiler is depleted. Tomorrow is the start of a long run of 70 and 80 degree days and dry weather going into next week when it turns stormy. Be looking forward to the rain by then top off my rain barrel system.

5/17/21 — 8:57 PM

Going on 7:30 and still daylight!

But I’m running out of steam after a day of feeding the turts and moving some of those outside and cleaning up in the greenhouse. Finally! And I moved the lotuses out to the tubs. That freed up a good bit of bench space.

Fed loaded night crawlers to the turts at both sites and moved the male striped mud and the better mannered female to the enclosure in front of the greenhouse. Fed the four holdback Gulf Coast juvies each a small crawler in the Room and brought them up to go in the portion of the duplex pen with the two older subadults. And checked the smaller ones from the 2016 & 2017 batches that went directly out there from the garage and I did not feed yet. Pissing with small sections of cut up worms to inject and feed individually to so many small turts is such a hassle that I’m going to just offer them pellets when I get to them tomorrow and keep feeding them that kind of diet until I sell them. It will be easier for their future owners if they are eating the commonly available brands of food sticks and pellets because I’d hate to have one die on someone because it’s a picky eater and fails to thrive.

And I got to start getting rid of these because I also have the 2020 hatchlings and “Budd”—what I’m calling the new male I got along with “Claudette” a few years ago was on her early this spring and today he went into the second watering pan with Olivia and within minutes they were hooked up so it’s likely another two clutches of 5 to 7 eggs will be in the incubator this season. I want to keep two of the pure Panhandle hatchlings from Budd & Claudette and a couple from the cross with Olivia—the Louisiana phenotype and sell the others. As long as I can remain alive and well and in the Reptile business there will be future broods to cherry pick outstandingly beautiful or unusual specimens from. I might swap out some of the holdbacks for some of the more colorful 2016 & 17s. I’m thinking I didn’t select the best of those.

In the greenhouse I cleaned out the cement mixing tray pool in the corner enclosure for the Striped Muds so I can bring the mean little female up tomorrow and maybe establish a system where I can rotate the two females to be with the male while keeping them separated. The inside enclosure used to belong to the male so I’ll probably put him there again. I’m hoping to eventually get these turts to live again in a community grouping like before they were given to me. Remember that disasterville story too well how several of them got confused by the steep sided pool, panicked and drowned! Then the small pretty female got mean and kept battering and biting the other two which ended up spending much of their time out of the water dug into the mulch. A sure sign a bullying in aquatic turtles. Thinking maybe a second pool like I’m doing with the extra pan in the Gulf Coast pen to give the females a better chance to get in the water and soak without being harassed by the male who spends a lot of time sitting in the pan soaking and probably waiting for females. I also have the two plum sized muds that will soon outgrow their little plastic tanks on the counter top in the Room.

These turts are almost as bad as sunfish when it comes to aggression. Especially male Box and Spotted turtles which was the reason I gave Ray Mr Spotts get him away from my other male many years ago.

Didn’t get around to moving fish out. Will get started tomorrow but I don’t want to rush it and make mistakes. Nor out to shop for a new battery or see Uncle Budd. I was so busy that the time passed and I decided it better to just put it off another day and continue tidying up. I did a very ruthless pruning of the live oak that hangs over the Striped Mud corner and the split leaf monstera that was on the verge of busting out of the greenhouse again like Monster Mind vines from Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors! That will let in more light to the tub where I winter small pond plants and hope to turn into a habitat for a colony of Bluefin killies again.

Will get out of here tomorrow. Now it’s fried catfish again and I’ll do a little something in the Room before bed.

5/18/21 — 3:57 PM

Day four already.

Coming up on late afternoon and I’ve yet to get beyond my mailbox. Indeed I haven’t even gotten there yet. Was up all night and then decided to just keep going like I often did in days of old after coming off night shifts. I figured no sense on going to bed and waking uparound 1 PM so I did breakfast and then the Florida Room. And carried the bucket with the mean female mud turtle up to the greenhouse and stated doing a little more watering and tidying up. Opened both doors so I can conveniently walk out the west side instead of going back to the east door and walking around the front.

When I opened the lid to the mud turtle enclosure I found the male sitting in the shallow water atop the platform and the female I put in with him was nearby and she bolted into the tangles of some kind of aquatic moss that also grows in the “Ditch”. I noted that the male is a good bit smaller than he looked in his tote tub enclosure in the Room. He’s about half the size of the two females and might even be a better match for the two younger ones I’m raising. I’m hesitant to put him in the corner enclosure where I put the second female because she might mess him up bad or even kill him. Somebody may end up going back to the Room.

On to the Gulf Coast enclosures.

While I was there I looked over the occupants. All four of the hold backs are still alive and well. I noted the 2012 subadult is starting to look a good bit like its father—Franklin. Would be nice if it were a male because I’d really love to have a Franklin Jr but it looks more mike a girl at this time. Then again the younger male from the pet shop that died that winter along with Franklin had me fooled for a while until one day it put out a phallus when I was handling it! Gulfs are harder to sex at a younger age than Eastern Box Turtles because they can be close to the adult size of an eastern but still not showing secondary sex characteristics like the concave plastron or differences in eye color. Furthermore some adult male gulfs had red eyes like Eastern males—or a weird pale pinkish yellow or have dark brown or black eyes like Florida Boxies. The two panhandle phenotypes have like that—both male and female and Olivia has yellowish brown eyes. I thing Franklin had pale pinkish brown eyes and the other male had dark ones.

Soon I’m going to have to get onto figuring out the genders of my Bantam Suns so I can get them set up to breed. Perfect weather now. 80 degrees today and 80s most of the week. Went to the pond to feed the fish and do a wellness check on the turts. While up there I noticed two normal phase Redbreasts in the pond. Hoping between them and the big one down in the basement I’ll have at least one female. If so I should be able to repeat my success of a few years ago.

Got the battery out of the tractor a short while ago and have it loaded in the car. Closing on 4P so I got to get moving to the hardware store or it will be a repetition of yesterday. And I probably won’t be to see Uncle Budd today. Rather make that trip better rested and I need to make sure I don’t bring any hitchhikers along. Already removed 4 ticks this afternoon!

Update 6:30 PM

Went out and got battery.

Then to Summit Rodge Plaza to pick up a few groceries at Walmart. Then a change of plans. Decided to check out the new Pet Supplies Plus and see if I could get Cichlid and kelp pellets since mine are running low. They don’t have the latter which Anna Marie gave me. Probably because they are a salt water item and that store only deals with freshwater fish. And they have quite a selection of those and some decent plants too. And reptiles.

Maybe even better than the Petland where I got the crays.

A Central America Banded Gecko. A Butterfly Agama. A bunch of baby Bearded Dragons. Tomato Frogs. Chameleons. A few snakes. I think a Sudan Plated Lizard. Some kind of skink. And an Emerald Swift.

They also have a Green Keeled Lizard of all things.

That’s a species I’d consider getting into if I can’t get Arbronia. Like a little monitor and a bit pricey but I’ve seen them going for a lot more in the Fauna Classifieds. I won’t be surprised now if an Abronia turns up in one of their cages someday. I asked about the Swift which was in hiding and the girl opened up the cage and we got the lizard to come out and I was able to catch and briefly examine the ventral aspect to determine gender. No patches of sapphire blue on the belly or throat and the dorsal scales were more grayish like the native Fence Lizard so I bought it presuming it to be a female. Figured I

Can pick up another male or a pair and get a nice trio.

Had a little Steve Irwin drama. Plan was to catch the lizard again in the cage with the plastic container it would be going home in to avoid any more stress from handling or risk tail drop or other injury. The little bastard dodged the attempt get her in the cup and ran up my arm and around my back in the typical fashion this genus will do circling around the trunk of a tree when chased working their way upward until they get out of reach. There’s a trick to catching them in the wild state. Sometimes you can reach around the trunk with one hand while the lizard is still relatively low to the ground and flush it around onto view and grab or pin it with your other hand. Or have a partner go to the opposite side and flush it around. That was my strategy today and it worked. Next time I think I’ll bring a noose of fishing line which is the best way to capture them in the wild. Probably a good idea to have a contraption like that on hand on the Room in case it escapes again. Those things are fast and might bolt out of a front opening cage.

A cool little bugger.

I think that bright dot on the head is the scale covering a vestigial third eye that functions as a sensor for photoperiod. I had to sign a paper to take it home. The state is getting really nosey about who’s got what I suppose.

Managed to Jerry rig a somewhat aesthetically pleasing and functional perch that does not spoil the panoramic view of the room beyond. But that vista may be problematic if it stresses the lizard out because she might want to go over to the branch with all the air plants and climb on the rock facing and chase the flies that are buzzing around the room. If she doesn’t settle down I may have to put up a visual barrier on the outside of the tank.

So now I have my first lizard. Starting to look like the old Room again. Looking forward to getting the Abronia and a first snake sometime this season. Now I have to install a battery that will restore life to the tractor. If I can get some grass cut; this day will be a success and maybe tomorrow even better.

Late evening

Day four ends with another setback.

The new battery got the Troy running again. But only made two runs around the apple tree and the engine started sputtering again like last spring and then stalled. It restarts and runs rough and dies again if I engage the cutting blades. It looks like the same problem as last year—water in the gas. I’m studying some tutorials on troubleshooting engines and various gas treatment products like STP with the hope that I might be able to resolve this myself without having to have the tractor taken in to the shop again. Should that be necessary then I’m going to have to invest in a push mower and maybe a weed trimmer to take care of places that are difficult to mow. That way I’ll have something to fall back on.

I do have my engineless reel mower that was quite the novelty when I got it and ought to get a Green New Deal Seal of Approval but it’s useless once the grass is allowed to get as high as mine is now.

Will get whatever I need to try removing the water from the tank when I’m out and about tomorrow. If that does not work I’ll look into getting a mower Thursday which is also payday. And that’s going to be the last opportunity to get some plant orders out. Would have done it earlier but decided to stall that until payday.

Oh Well. At least some things are coming together. I now have a greenhouse that is easy to walk through from end to end—and the outside is getting cleaned up. Rain Barrels are all hooked up age ready to catch the runoff from the next storm or rain event and the pond and outdoor turtle season is starting again. So it’s still more than half full and the pursuit of happiness and excellence and life goes on. Even with the demented Jimmy Carter 2.0 in the White House. I had some good times then.

Shame on me. I didn’t vote. I usually don’t in the primaries and the local candidates I don’t worry much about. They’re mostly democrats or even independents who run on name recognition. I guess I need to start taking time to talk to Bruce again. He always has a good ear to the ground when it comes to local issues.

5/20/21 — 6:24 PM

Summer is here.

This shot taken coming back from payday business and a shopping trip. Plans stalled out yesterday afternoon and I lost focus again. Flumdiddled around the house again through the night going onto afternoon today not getting much done or any sleep again much like earlier in the week. So I shelved plans for a visit to Latrobe and took care of local business and shopped locally because I need stuff and I’ll try again tomorrow.

5/22/21 circa 05:00 AM

Wasted another day.

It seems my progress goes in fits and starts. flumdiddled Friday away like I did midweek going into Thursday—though I at least got the taxes out of the way—the trailer along with a the house so that doesn’t get forgotten. Then all I was good for was a trip to eat out and to pick up a ream of printer paper I use for drawing because I ran out of that. Ended up doing Chinese because Margaritas had a 15 minute wait and time was growing short.

Clouds were rolling in too and there was rain in the forecast though that didn’t happen and it’s been pushed back to Monday now—the last day. I’m anxious to get some storms to fill up the rain barrels since I’ve finally connected them. Kind of given up on the hope of getting the grass cut before the next rain because the process of getting the tractor fixed is more involved than I hoped and it’s daunting since I’m going to have to learn how to take the fuel line and carburetor apart to drain and clean. If only I could just do a quick fix that would let me burn the water out with gas treatment or higher octane fuel so I could mow the critical areas before getting into mechanical stuff. May have to invest in a push mower just to to that and have something to fall back on.

It’s the issue with the tractor that has stalled me this week. High grass is becoming almost as uninviting as deep snow on the ground. Got to do my best to not let that hinder me psychologically because my vacation week has dwindled down to what amounts to a 3 day weekend so I got to make the time remaining count and there is much to do.

Emerald Swift cage right after misting just after the big LEDs came on. Hopefully this means a better start to a day.

Table corner looking grand.

Even “E” came out. I might take them to the greenhouse today. Could have been in there most of the week and now Summer’s here. They can probably stay out there or even outdoors much of the time from here on.

Feeding the African Violet that lives in the rock facing inside the window. It’s a dwarf cultivar actually more in keeping with the scale of the scape as opposed to the standard varieties Grandma grew on the windowsills of the house. Bet she’d be impressed with what I’ve done with this one.

It’s a cutting off the original I got about a year ago. Perfect size for plugging in the holes made for 2” pots. But the small size containers are problematic because they dry out quickly and that’s how I lost the original plus another daughter plant. Reason I moved it to the spot by the window because it gets more attention there. I’m thinking of a setup for small specimen plants where I can just keep them all together in a tray when I’m busy and care for them that way and put them in the rock facing when I want to enjoy them, take pictures or have guests.

2:00 PM

This is that fun I mentioned earlier.

They converge on it.

And Olivia grabs and she’s off to the corner with it!

I moved it to the other side of the pen to get it away from the watering pan so it doesn’t end up there.

The male is getting kind of mean with the females. Next time I’ll put in a couple more and cut them in pieces so they get the enrichment of struggling with the thing without fighting over it!

5/23/21 — 12:05 AM

Just got done installing the new half moon planter on the side of the Table in the Fl Room and settling in. Had a very productive day between getting a bonsai tree to start rebuilding that collection and some other material for soil amendments and mulch and groceries plus getting in to see Uncle Budd for a while. I discovered at my first stop at the garden center that masks are no longer required. I noticed a lot of people without them when I entered the front door and passed the cash register. Most employees had none. So I took mine off when I enter the greenhouse section figuring like I did at the hardware store last spring that it was a “when in Rome” kind of thing. Then a asked a lady who was in line going out if the state had lifted the mask mandate and it had. It’s up to the discretion of individual businesses and people who are not vaccinated are supposed to wear them. It’s pretty much honor system as nobody asks to see a vaccination card. Ditto for Lowe’s and Walmart.

At the nursing home I wore one under the presumption they are required and the staff are masked. Word in the ER is that we may be wearing masks for quite some time—at least for the duration and maybe forever. It could become the norm for workers in hospitals and care facilities.

Then again who knows. Usually when I get back from vacations there is some policy change or modification of infrastructure like the removal of the antechamber with the zippered curtain between the front and back sections.

Uncle Budd was glad to see me. He’s vaguely aware of the pandemic and Biden. “Some other guy”. Which I got a chuckle out of. He always thought highly of Trump and he was a hard core blue dog democrat who despised Reagan and the Bushes. I’m surprised he didn’t know who Biden was since the man was a senator forever. Started in office in the 70s even before Jimmy Carter was elected. I was still living in Virginia and in grade school at the time!

He still talks about going home but it’s not going to happen now. He looks way older in just a a year later since I last saw him. I think he may be less mobile too so he’ll be hard pressed to go fishing for a few hours let alone go home and get around on his own. He had a hard time getting down close enough to the water to throw a line in even before he got placed there.

What a ride that was from then to now. The resurrection of the Florida Room and fall of Trump. Wuhan Bat Flu. Energy Crisis & Jimmy Carter 2.0. And everything else. And now the greenhouse is getting a Renaissance.

Got got the planter and another Podocarpus tree from the nursery and some cypress mulch and pine bark fines. The Aged Pine mulch / soil conditioner is even better that the one bag of the other fines I got which I use for mulches.

The aged pine I mixed half and half with Hoffman’s bonsai soil which I think is a bit too coarse and prone to drying out. I replaced the specimen I bought last year that died over the winter because of neglect in the greenhouse. I hope to stay on top of things from here on.

The regular pine fines. Going to have to stock up on that because it will make a great bedding for the lizard cages and mulch for turtle pens. I used it tonight to dress up the bed by the East door.

Got the two smaller Agave celseii in the ground by the bigger one.

Looks nice with those and the Mexican Male Fern which actually lives outside in the ground because it’s a high altitude species probably disjunct from the populations found in northern NA & Eurasia. The Agaves are potted plants that live in the greenhouse in the winter. There are also a few Asian plants—Japanese Roof Iris—techtorum (actually from Sun Moon Lake Taiwan) and a ground cover of Dwarf Mondo Grass that I hope to get to fill in some more and a Lycoris chinensis whose spring leaves are hidden among the iris and will soon die back and send up a stalk of yellow lilies in late summer. Also some native Carex laxiculmis and Viola brittonia that are volunteer seedlings from originals planted elsewhere at the site that are long gone.

On the opposite side of the path that I have mulched with weeds I pulled I’m looking to develop in similar fashion with another 4x8 turtle pen to give the Florida Boxies some outdoor space on the summer.

Was going to use some cement leftover from the slab a poured for the 150 last year to form a collar around the base of the catch barrel and build a permanent spillway but it was getting late and I was running out of day so I’ll do that tomorrow. And so I moved on to start mulching around the palmettos in the front bed.

Cypress for that. Very unsustainable they say—boo hoo woo. The Green Police are coming to take me away! Used one bag to do this side of the striped mud enclosure. Will use the other one to do inside and on the opposite side of the pen and will need a few more to do the whole way around entrance to entrance.

Greenhouse already looking the best in years as far as the exterior goes and I’ll start improving inside too.

The McCurtain County OK palmettos made it through the winter without protection though they did suffer some delayed damage to the some fronds that showed up in the early spring. The Northeast Texas ecotypes by the cellar door did much better. Either they are a little hardier or it’s a better microclimate.

Got some awesome footage of the pond and a story there too before I went out but I’ll save it for the morning as I’m tired.

5/23/21 — 2:45 PM

Slo start here today.

Back working on the facelift for the greenhouse. Dug out the spillway on the corner with the catch barrel and going to pour a collar at the base of the barrel to get a water tight seal to make the overflow go down the sheet of polyethylene away from the structure and not under the barrel / though the foundation drainage system would probably take care of it.

Found some good rocks for edging on one side. Will add more and some flat field stones or pavers to form a couple steps going around the back side. With the aim of making access to that area which has been neglected more routine.

Not doing as well as I should but better than nothing. Will get the remaining bag of cypress put down after I do the pour. Then think about a trip to the other Lowe’s. The one in Uniontown. Then I’ll have a good idea how many more I’ll need and what other stuff. Maybe find more decent vivarium or Florida Room plants.

I like cypress. Have also used it as reptile bedding but I usually do fine pine bark. Cypress can be sustainably harvested like most other trees. It grows pretty fast and the lumber is superb for rot resistance so it may also be practical to salvage and recycle into new structures like they’ve done with American Chestnut from old barns long after the species was decimated by the Blight. Environmentalists recommend using ground up Melalucca—the invasive tree from Australia but I have never seen it offered outside Florida.

5:54 PM

That’s what I need to do. I’m putting off Uniontown until tomorrow because I’ve been poking along so much that it would be a waste of the remaining time today and tomorrow may be a washout. Or maybe not the way the rains keep getting pushed back and fizzling out.

It got dark and a few drops fell as I was mixing up the leftover half bag of concrete to do this mini job in the late afternoon. It didn’t amount to much.

Got it done and covered.

Not going to bother with pouring the whole spillway. Just get a few buckets or bags of river rock to put in the channel to make it look nice and find more flat bluestones to make steps so I don’t have to buy pavers. I’m looking forward to planting this with a few clumps of Japanese Forest Grass—aka Hakone Grass. And try a Plum Yew—Cephalotaxus which is another Asian plant but also a substitute for Torreya taxifolia—the federally endangered one from the Appalachicola River bluffs which is sort of a theme for the site also. And I have an actual Florida Yew at the pond site that survives but a clone of it might do better there and yew are easy to root from cuttings.

Had a late lunch of ham sandwich and leftover clam chowder from the pot I made for the two stuffed crabs leftover from—a few days before. Have to be careful with what I eat. Had a terrible time this morning with the grape nuts nuggets I put in my oatmeal because of a tooth problem that needs attention. Think a filling came out on a left lower molar which was getting sensitive to cold and heat for a while. Will have to call a dentist and try to set up an appointment to get it cleaned and repaired.

I’m so torn this evening between what to do next and vacation is fast running out. I hear my neighbor mowing today and I want to do mine so bad but it’s so hard just to get started on messing with the tractor on my own. If I can get the hose unhooked and drain the system I’ll seriously consider making a run out to get gas.

I don’t even want to do that. The sight of 3.19 or higher will probably make me sick.

6:34 PM

Decided to go for it.

Needle nose pliers were sufficient to loosen the clamps. No need to buy or borrow a shovel nose.

Used the manual shutoff valve to stop the flow while disconnecting the line at the fuel filter. Ended up using a tea jug to catch the old gas because it’s easier to get into the space between the front wheel and deck than a 5 gallon can. May be some obstructions because the flow is not coming all that fast and there was a piece of straw that came out. That’s what a fuel filter is for!

I hope I can get it running. I should have done this early in the day but I let the task intimidate me so I may not get it running until Tomorrow.

10:08 PM

This vacation just sucks!

It was the perfect week with weather, the animals and some projects but that damned tractor that was going to be the one instrument to jumpstart the long overdue grounds maintenance just ruined everything with its issues.

Fuel tank was taking forever to drain so I found the fuel siphon with the orange plastic accordion pump to expedite the process so I can take the shut off valve off the line and check for more debris. As suspected there was and the remaining fuel drained out much more freely.

Got clean gas. Got a can of Sea Foam and came back and filled the tank half full since it’s 2 gallons. Guesstimated an ounce of the Sea Foam with a measuring scoop from a can of powdered green tea about the size of a shot glass. I need to get something that is marked precisely for the future but it’s probably not rocket science.

Then I got on and tried to crank it.

Does not start. Not even a clicking so I’m wondering if maybe I left the key turned and drained the battery? Going to try jumping it tomorrow and if that doesn’t work I’m done! This problem just needs to be solved and I’m just not good with mechanical stuff—I’d like to be but I don’t have anyone with the knowledge to direct and teach me and a lot of other stuff going on or being held up because of this so I’ll just have it taken to the shop again like last year.

I’m debating looking for a push mower or just using the weed whacker and reel mower to clean up and maintain the critical areas around the house and greenhouse until I can get the tractor back in service. Did a little bit of that at dusk to see how it might go. It’s hard work because I let the grass get away from me but once cut it’s easier to maintain and if I can get by with that for the time being it will be one less machine to break.

Managed to spread the second bag of cypress mulch at the greenhouse site so that’s done at least. I think a couple more bags should do it. I used to get 6 from the BP station on my way from work every spring back in the early days. 4 more is probably a good number since I put it on thinly in places and it might be desirable to have some leftover for bedding or other projects.

One more day and it’s over. I got to make that one count. Get the fish out and maybe move the turts from the Table setup to the greenhouse so I can start working on that again. I’m going to dismantle and remove the Table like last year and so I can walk around in that corner and detail the rock facing some more and add more foam and planting pockets. And celing hooks to hang more plants.

5/24/21 — 12:57

Last day.

Started off with a good omen. I saw the Emerald Swift come down and take one of the gut loaded Dubia roaches I put in the feeding dish at the begin of the misting routine which ended when the big lights came on at 9AM.

I’m using a white condiment dish that is more an eyesore than a black or brown one but I can remove it between feedings and the way it stands out against the environment may be a good way to train the lizard to know when food is present since they are visually oriented creatures of habit.

Currently the lizard is basking.

The Room looks awesome today with dreary conditions prevailing outside. The new peace lily is starting to bloom for the first time. The one it replaced last summer is still going strong as an emergent plant in the greenhouse pond. I’ll probably rotate them someday when this one starts to go out of bloom again.

Good picture of the corner in all its tropical glory. With LED life underground rocks. This is cheaper to run than the greenhouse and will become the core of my tropical plant collection if I have to lower the thermostat out there or stop heating it altogether.

Pruned the Moon Valley Pelia that was overwhelming the Guzmania bromeliad and the Pellonia pulchra below it. Used the clippings to plant one of the future Abronia cages.

Don’t know how well it will hold up to a 12 inch long lizard walking over it but maybe by time I get one—the plants will be well established enough to tolerate the traffic. Plus It’s a glorified clear weed or nettle—Urticariaece. For such a handsome plant it grows well and is easy to propagate. Got more rooting in a jar of water and I’m going to plant some of those in the frog tank and start more for when I get a table at a reptile show. This one is a great vivarium plant and does better in those setups than as a potted specimen in the tray garden so I’ll probably remove it from there and free space for something else.

Looks like it’s going to be a less ambitious day outside because of the rain. Not very heavy but enough to dampen enthusiasm. I made an attempt to start the tractor just by turning the key. Nothing. So the battery may be drained. If it clears up later I’ll try jumping it. Then make the decision.

Finally made my decision to order plants. The Smilax, Cephalotaxus, Magnolia and a wild Korean Hydrangea from Woodlanders. Then some dwarf sag and a variety of other plants from the aquarium plant dot com place to populate ponds and tubs and eventually the tanks. Working on an order for Plant Delights. That one is pending a trip to the greenhouse so I can check a label on a Ribbon Fern to make sure I don’t order one I already have.

Now the rain finally decided to get steady. At least the rain barrels may get filled now. Been waiting all week for that.

Be nice to get them filled to the brim today.

Going to make a try at the greenhouse and gather some buckets to start moving fish. I figure it will be practical to put the bulkheads and the Redbreast from the lower tank in the second 40B duo in the middle tub at site A (pond) and a breeding group of bantams to the 150 at the same site.

And it looks safe to start putting livebearers out too. The green swords to their summer habitat at site B—greenhouse. I won’t even put all of them out. Just the older breeders will be sufficient to produce a new generation and I still have tons of young to fall back on.

5/25/21 — 02:09 AM

Last day was the most eventful.

Got a torrential rain late afternoon and another issue.

Downspout clogged and water was overflowing onto the awning and cascading onto the patio. And I’m hoping I’ll be able to find some way to snake it out.

Rain barrels are getting filled and the system should be full after the next rain.

Pond full again.

Did a major clean out of the inside pond skimming off duckweed and removing mats of algae and debris by hand. Put the big Cuban anthuriums and other plants in to soak and did a lot of watering both with the hose and buckets of pond water to get the growing beds and potted plants well hydrated. Breaking what amounts to a drought and beginning of the best wet season in several years. Did a lot of cleaning up and repositioning of plants and got the place looking decent by sundown.

Got three bullheads and the Redbreast and the breeding sized swords out to their tubs. Will get bantams and blackbandeds out later in the week. Cleaned and culled the roach colony and gave the culls to the turts in all the outside pens. And did feeding and water changes in the Room later. And I’m skimming over detail because it’s getting late. I’ll have to maybe do a recap in a day or two.

Vacation is over. It could have been better but I’ll be happy with what I’ve gotten done so far. I’m well on my way to reclaiming the pond and the greenhouse and I’ll work through my other problems.

Success!

Well sort of.

Day after Memorial Day which I had to work. My yard is like a hayfield. It’s bad as Uncle Budd’s last summer when they posts a “High Grass Warning”. If I lived in town I’d be in trouble.

It’s Wednesday late morning. I pulled my car all the way up when I came in last night. Going to take a great leap of faith and try jumping it. If that works I’ll at least get the area around the house cut today. If not I’ll have to figure out a plan B.

I’d like to see if I can get someone to come in and do the work here than have the thing loaded on a truck and taking to a shop. It’s probably a simple fix and not worth a major operation.

Started listening to Heinlein’s “Door onto Summer” again last night on the way in and fell asleep somewhere in the second half. Picked it up again over breakfast. It’s a good theme as I look for my door into summer too. And there’s a song of the same name by the Monkeys!


It was the battery!

Probably needed to run a while after I installed it to get a full charge but I ran into the problem with bad gas. Connected to the Honda it turned over right away and after a few sputters it is running smoothly.

Also it looks like the last time it went for repair someone may have disabled the safety fascist feature which was going to be my next concern. It continued running after I got off so that saves time and effort looking for a weight to put on the seat. Letting it run on it’s own now and going to start cutting after I pump the low tire up again.

That’s going to be the next issue but at least can do a quick fix to get the grass cut and take the wheel off and take it on for repair instead of shipping the entire machine!

My Door into Summer has opened!

2:03 PM

Have another problem.

Apparently the battery is not charging or holding a charge. I had to jump it again to touch up the edges and take care of the spot where I pulled the car forward to jump it the first time.

I parked it right in front of where I park so I can just hook up the cables again in the morning to get it going again so I can get another area before work. At least it’s a problem I can work around and get the grass caught up until I can figure out what it is and fix it. It will not start again since I turned it off.

It starts up right away so I guess it’s the battery. I hate batteries. I probably bricked it because something is draining it or it’s just not charging.

Have to figure it out before getting a new one if that is needed. I hate batteries!

6/12/21

The Saturday Morning Crunch!

A few weeks have passed. A lot has happened in the way of continuing renovations and improvements and managed to get the grass cut again yesterday evening with a new battery before another issue with the mower deck stalled things. So now I’ll have to send it to the shop for repair. At least I got the lawns around the house and field and area around the greenhouse cut and it will be good for a while.

This concludes the Spring Edition.

The summer one is already being written and will be out by the end of—you guessed it—Summer.

That is if we are still here.

Hopefully and probably we will. It’s winter that’s worrying me. Especially with inflation of fuel prices and inflation in general. Nature can be cruel but humanity is it’s own worst enemy.

Addendum 6/20/21

On a Sunday morning I’m editing this edition to take advantage of the opportunity to correct a few mistakes discovered in the wake of last week’s announcement that the editor was sick with the Coronavirus that is still working its way through the remainder of the population not protected by vaccination or acquisition of natural herd immunity. Hopefully he and Neil will come out of it ok.

Reading back through my sent manuscripts I noticed quite a few typos—the result of the auto correct or who knows. And even a few really atrocious mistakes involving text lifted out of other correspondence where I didn’t change the tense or context or whatever and looks strange. Figured might as well fix that stuff and resubmit while the journal is down and even edit out some sections so it’s not so God awful long winded. So I’m doing that at the expense of another nice day outside. But the end result will be worth it.

Addendum—Final

7/10/21

10:30 AM Saturday Morning and Day One of my second vacation after another of those long grueling 3 to 3 shifts. This is the one I normally take as a midsummer break. Hard to believe we are well onto the month of July already and halfway through the summer and the year 2021! The time is going fast and that’s a mixed blessing. On one hand the sooner we get through “Jimmy Carter 2.0” which some sources are now calling “Woodrow Wilson 2.0” the better. On the other; I’m not looking forward to my first winter with this administration organized enough to push their wretched Green New Deal. And gas just crept up a few more cents at the station I pass on my way out of work—over what it was on the way in!

I think it was $3.27. I was too tired and in a rush to get out of town and get home to bother taking a picture going on 4:30 AM!

Kind of ironic. With so many things coming together on my home front that I must live in fear and loathing of the world at large. At least both Neil and Ken are back in the saddle! So the journal like so many other things in uncertain times gets to go on a little longer.

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