Friday, July 31, 2009

I just spent the last three days rebuilding my PC.

I hate Microsoft.

I am not one of those Apple types who gets an apple tattooed on my left butt cheek and just loves to rag on AnythingMicrosoft just because they're a big successful company. I love big successful companies. Most people do, that WHY they're BIG and SUCCESSFUL.

No, this is different. This is a deep pitted loathing that makes me need to restrain myself from smashing the monitor when ever I see the MSFT logo.

Three days ago... DH says, "Hey hon, when's the last time you did an Microsoft update?"

Me: "Dunno. A few weeks ago. I haven't been getting the notices like I used to. I wonder why?"

Which of course sets me on the path to utter destruction and chaos.

The System Pack 2 file upgrade corrupted my c:drive and made rebooting impossible. Apparently MSFT doesn't like the fact that I have 3 hard drives. So it just decided to kill one of them.

After spending hours trying to recover the data via the recovery programs provided on my now corrupted hard drive (Anyone else noticing a problem with this scenario?) I had to give up, attempt a full backup, then completely wipe the Hard drive back to the factory settings (Remember those recovery disks you're always told to make right after you buy a new PC? Well DO IT. Seriously.)

Blue Screen of DEATH.

The backup took eight hours.
The wiping of the hard drive took two hours.
The reinstalling of the backup took six hours. It would have only taken 5 if, and hour into the reinstallation process, Norton Antivirus decided to shut me down willy nilly. I had to start over from scratch.

(*Oh, I hate Norton antivirus, too. I consider them to be as invasive and malicious as the type of malware they are supposed to be protecting you from. I use Avast instead. Much much better.)

So then I'm trying to figure out how to reinstall my programs and get everything back up an running. Ah. how naive I was.

No, my programs were shot. Gone. Worthless. All needed to be reloaded by disks and downloads. So slate several more hours, I'm still doing it now, just to get the programs running again, not to mention any settings changes.

The only thing the *backup* saved were the files, not the .exe files, no programs, no way of putting all those files back together to make Photoshop shoppier. Windows Office Officier. My email files were strewn about my harddrive like little crunchy dead bugs after a Hiroshima bug bomb. You can see them there, you can open 'em up, but you can't make 'em live again.

I'm renaming my PC the Enola Gay.

So, I've been spending day three of PC deathwatch reloading programs, finding lost emails, downloading, reloading, and booting up more than Fort Drum private in basic.

All of my passwords, bookmarks, cookies... all gone. The worst part is, I don't remember what I don't remember.

As I'm rebooting to get the latest Adobe Acrobat program up and running, Microsoft decides to install WITHOUT MY PERMISSION four new updates as I'm shutting down my system. (I have checked very specifically, NOT to download ANY updates without my permission, so I don't know how the heck it happened.)

"OH GOD, NO" came wailing out of my head. My chair flying backwards towards a now petrified cat, and I stand, incredulously staring at my monitor.

This is what started the whole mess three days ago.




The revenge.

The reboot failed to start the operating system. I was once again headed into Safe Mode.

This can not be happening to me.
Not again.

I choose the option to try to start normally, not in safe mode... and it.... works.

I am never shutting this PC down again.

Oh, and Ballmer, I'm coming for you.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Local Animal Control Covington, KY

So we had an unexpected visit from Animal Control today. Officer Don Griess stopped by to check out the area, apparently he met with our neighbors yesterday. We learned some interesting stuff.

1> It's illegal for our neighbors to run their clothes washer outside from a hose and dump the waste water out into the street. (Yes, they actually do this.)
2> 90% of the raccoons, red foxes, possums and bats in the area are turning up rabid.

I had no idea that rabies was so bad in the area. So just an FYI from Don and the kind folks at Animal Control: stay away from the critters. Especially if you see them in the daytime... these fellas are supposed to be nocturnal, and if they're out and about in the day... they're really sick.

btw: Don told us about this video someone in Covington made of him catching a beaver on the banks of the Ohio, down near Duveneck Park.

Damn that's a big beaver.
Towards the end you can see it was so heavy it broke the pole.

DH Addendum: This is Don's ringtone on his cell.

Welcome to those who came here from Hooked on Houses Bog Party

Monday, July 27, 2009

What to do with those pesky squirrels

Ah, cute, fuzzy little darlings.

Back in Georgia we had these lovelies living in the walls of our cedar sided home. First came the carpenter bees, then came the woodpeckers, then came the squirrels... each progression making the holes bigger.

By the time the squirrels moved in, they had taken a majority of the insulation out of the walls for their adorable nests.

We used to knock them off the roof with tennis balls.

So far we've been rodent free, but there's always a chance with us feeding the birds... So I just wanted to share a little squirrel recipe with y'all.... Kentucky style.


Hook: Mustad 3366 (SE) or 3399 (TDE) I used a size 8 TMC 5262
Eyes: Dumbell shaped red & Black 3/32" alloy
Red Flat "A" to mount the eyes; Black 6/0 for the rest
Ventral Wing:
Red Fox Squirrel Tail (belly)
4 strands Copper or Pearl Krystal Flash
Dorsal Wing:
Natural Brown or Olive Buck Tail (Top)

What, you thought I was going to cook the little b@stard, didn't you?

Wrap the red flat thread.

Tie in the dumb bell eyes with a series of X-wraps, wrapped TIGHTLY. When they are relatively secure, wrap several rounds just ahead of and behind the eyes to secure. Whip finish a few ties and cut. Add head cement to fix. (The futher the eyes are forward on the shaft, the more you'll get wiggle on retrieval, further back will be a smoother pull action.)

Now comes the squirrel part: Take a few sparse hairs from your favourite bewildered squirrel tail. Alive or dead, just in case some of you want to try to extract the hairs WITH permission. The length should be 2x the shaft.

Attach the fur in front of the eyes with a few whips, then pull the hairs back over the top of the eyes and secure behind the eyes with crisscross wraps back to the front of the eyes.

Here's where you attach a couple of strings of flashing by just doubling them over the black string and making a pass around the head of the fly. Cut them to be just a few mm longer than the squirrel fur.

Then turn the fly upside down to attach the dorsal wings.

Here's where you need the deer hair, just a few strands, the same length of the squirrel. Attach on the underside, cut back and wrap in a conical nose.

Flip the fly over, whip finish a few times, then cut and add head cement.

Now go catch a small mouth bass or trout.

I have more edible recipes for those.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Project Trellis -Design

OK, things have been on hold, but it's time to get back on track. I know that if we let too much grass grow under our feet... well, I'LL be the one mowing it later.

I've started working on the trellis/gate design for the breezeway that I outright copied from our neighbor, Terry, as shown in the previous post about the trellis.

The difference between our gates is that we have 8' of breezeway to span, and he only had about five. This means adaptation!!

Here's what I've got so far, and overlayed the sketch to approximately where we'd be placing it. (Facing the front of the house, towards the street.)

Size adjustments (and proportions) not withstanding, we're planning on a dual hinged, two part swinging gate, approximately four feet in width (Two doors of 2' each) as well as 2' stationary panels to hinge the doors to. I don't think it will be closed much, and probably never locked, but I DO want to discourage the ^&$#@*&^ stray cats from sneaking in from the street and holding a catnip vigil under the bird feeder.

The key thing we've decided upon is that the 4x4's that will be the main supports for the gate need to be dug into the ground at least 2' on each side, and the side that is on our property (right side of the picture) will have two 4x4's embedded in the ground. Only one of the 4x4's on the other side will be embedded (the one farthest from the brick wall) in order to avoid any entanglements with the next homeowners of that property.

Now to get a better, more accurate design... then a materials list.

Then a shopping list.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Political Tether Ball (OT)

After chatting with a friend who does not share my political affiliation, we came to the conclusion that it doesn't matter who is in charge of the government, and I wanted to share this epiphany, albeit waaaay out of place on this blog.

We agreed that whichever political party is in control of the government, they are there because they want power. They want power so they can control and govern the citizenry. So the struggle is about how to gain power.

Now, I used to think of the democratic election process as a pendulum; when one party would overtake the other the pendulum would swing back the other way and policy would revert to a previous condition.

Not so. The pendulum theory assumes that there is a neutral, a point at which we always come back to mid-stride. It never happens.

No, what we have in the U.S. is not a pendulum, but a game of tetherball. We pretend that we, the citizens, have the power to elect, and that THIS power is the most important of all. Of course, that's what *they* keep telling us, and heck, that's why *WE'RE* not in charge of the government.

The reality is that they're playing this game around us, and the tether isn't really tied to the pole at all, it's just looped around it, and it will never get closer and no one ever wins. The game never ends.

Now I know why I always lost at tetherball in grade school.
Yeah, political reasons... yeah, that's it.

<-- ! rant over.-->

Friday, July 17, 2009

Garden Problem-- powdery milddew on leaves...Help!

OK, so I've noticed some white soft spotting on the zucchini lately, like in the past week or so. I cut off some of the affected leaves, but now it's spread to almost all of the leaves, and one of the plants has died. Kaput. Finito. Pbthhh. Mr Limpy has gone to Washington.

I figured the zucc's had a limited life span anyway, so I wasn't TOO worried, but now it seems to have spread to the Bee Balm (Monarda). I'm afraid it's going to take over.

Worse yet, my beautiful sage has suddenly (as of this morning) gone Mr. Limpy as well, and it was VERY healthy just days ago when I last harvested a handful.

Please, does anyone know what's invading my garden and how to stop it from spreading?? (Geographic location, zone six, Covington, KY)


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I don't ask much. (a.k.a. 'a hypertufa tale')

What is hypertufa? It's a concrete and peat moss mixture that, when hardened, makes an indestructible, yet breathable and garden worthy ... um, 'thing". Often used for planters or fake rocks, it can be molded into just about anything.

I found this information at

Hypertufa (pronounced hyper-toofa) is the term used for a type of artificial stone. It was first created in the mid 19th century by mixing sand, peat, various volcanic aggregates and cement. It’s relatively lightweight compared to stone or concrete and no matter how cold your winter temps may be, if properly cured, is freeze proof.

Hypertufa was concocted to be used as a substitute for the natural volcanic rock called Tufa. Tufa has been used for making Alpine style planting troughs. Unfortunately, it is not readily available anymore.

Most deposits have been depleted and it is increasingly difficult to find. I've read that there are only two deposits left in the United Kingdom, with a site in Wales having the best quality; there is some in East Germany; there are a few deposits left in the United States; and Canada has an excellent deposit located in Brisco, BC.

There are different recipes you can mix up. It depends on what end result you’re desiring -- lighter in weight? More durable? Want to carve it? Basic hypertufa recipe ingredients are varying combinations of Portland cement, peat moss, sand, perlite, or vermiculite, and water.

Another big part of the whole process is patience. Many hypertufa projects can be ruined by not allowing enough time for the mold to set and cure, and end up destroying their work because it wasn’t ready to be unmolded yet.


OK, now we know what hypertufa is. It's a mud-pie recipe that, given enough time to cure, can create rock-like creations, often in the form of planters.

In our case, DH wanted to make simple hose guides out of the stuff.

Starting with a 12" galvanized spike, the plan was to mold the mudpie mix around the head in the shape of a thumbtack, let it sit, then pound the spike into the ground in the garden.

So, I'm looking online for recipes, ideas, a general instruction manual. I'm seeing all different types of creative uses for the stuff.

"Hon, can you make it in the shape of a bunny?"

[Blank stare]

"A what?"

"A bunny. It'll be cute. We need a bunny in the garden."

"It's a hose guide. It needs to be in the shape of a thumb tack... to guide... the... hose. Not a bunny."

"A thumbtack?"

"A thumbtack."

Quick thinking, I grab a sheet of scrap paper and a pen and scribble out my idea of what a thumbtack looks like.

"Viola, thumbtack, right?"


"Ok, now, ... scribble scribble scribble.....thumbtack-bunny!"

I think I broke his brain.

Needless to day, this thing here did not happen. This did:

So here's the deal: you can mold it, but as mentioned previously, you have to let it cure. These guys are sitting outside in our breezeway covered with plastic grocery bags.

Below is what they look like uncovered and uncured. This is after about 24 hours.

It looks kinda wonky, but after a few days, it should harden enough to place upside down in the garden... spike side down, and hopefully keep me from trampling my dahlias with the hose.

btw: the longer it takes to cure (slower is better, so avoid hot days) the stronger it will eventually be. You can keep them covered and let them cure anywhere from 2 days to a week.

Oh, and I got my bunny.

Recipe to follow: (Hon, this is where you tell all the great folks what sloppy mess you made in the breezeway with the peat moss. hint hint.)

DH "Recipe":

For hose guides, I think a harder mixture is fine. They aren't that prone to cracking and they don't need to be THAT rustic. I used a 1:1:1 mixture, which is 1 part portland cement (NOT concrete mix), 1 part sand, and 1 part peat moss. Don't add too much water as the peat really soaks it up and then the mix becomes much wetter than your realize when you start forming it. If the mix is too crumbly, add just a bit more portland.

After curing for a couple days, I'll take a wire brush and round off any rough edges and make the hose guides look like stones. Then I'll cover them up again for a while, or until Mrs. OrDie decides that she must have the guides in the garden. If I can get another couple weeks, it would be great. These things are very alkaline so, be advised that they can alter soil nearby for a while. In time, though, they'll be fine and will start to get moss on them. They quickly become very unobtrusive.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dry Curried Scallops with couscous, peas and scallions.

Dry Curried Scallops with couscous, peas and scallions.

First, a note on "Dry" Scallops: Buy them.

“Wet” scallops have been treated with a sodium tripolyphosphate in order to keep the scallops fresher looking and to help keep them moist. Most of us have only had "wet" scallops. We thus don't know what scallops really taste like. After trying "dry" scallops, I know. They taste jump-up-and-smack-me-in-the-mouth-GOOD. Like the sea, but sweeter.

Right now, they're available at Luken's down at Findlay Market (Downtown Cincinnati, OH) for just $9/lb. This is an incredible value.

To the recipe:

Curried Scallops Over Saffron Couscous
For two

1 lb. Medium dry scallops
1 T. Curry
1 tsp. Cayenne pepper or to taste
1 tsp. Salt or to taste
1 T. Grape seed oil
2 T. Butter
1 cup Heavy cream
6 scallions cleaned and sliced

For the Couscous

1 cup Couscous
2+ cups Chicken stock
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 dzn Saffron threads or a pinch to taste
1 generous pinch Salt
1-2 cups frozen peas

Rinse and dry the scallops (or not, I just season them and cook), and lightly salt both sides. Sprinkle a little cayenne on each side, being careful not to over-do it. Generously sprinkle curry on both sides of the scallops. A curry crust is fine.

Bring stock up to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add salt, turmeric, and saffron, then add couscous. Lower the heat and cover for 3 minutes. Stir in peas and add more stock if necessary. Cover and keep warm. Taste for seasoning and make sure peas are hot. Correct if necessary.

Heat a large non-stick skillet to high. Add grape seed oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. When the butter stops foaming, add the scallops, largest first in the center of the pan, then smaller around the outside. They will cook quickly. As the scallops brown lightly, turn them to cook the other side. Each side can cook, depending on how well you like them done, from 90 seconds-to-3 minutes. No more. They'll start getting chewy like shoe leather if you over cook them.

If in doubt, buy a few more than you plan on serving and test them as you cook them. You can always cook a scallop longer by adding more heat, you can't UN-cook a scallop.

Pre heat bowls in the microwave. Put the couscous in the warm bowls. As the scallops finish cooking, place the cooked scallops directly on the saffron couscous in each bowl.

Then add 1Tb butter to the hot pan and add half the scallions. Stir briefly until wilted, then add the cream. Bring to a boil, scraping any brown bits of scallop and spice off the bottom of the pan, and when the cream coats the back of a spoon, pour the sauce over the scallops and couscous. Garnish with scallions.

The whole process from flicking on the heat under the pan until you pour the sauce over the scallops should take about 15 minutes.

Serve with a bone-dry reisling or perhaps a pinot grigio.

If you came here from Julia's, here's a link back to the Blog Party

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Props to Our Peeps

It appears that two of our favorite bloggers are having their homes featured on HGTV!

Check out Baltimore Rowhouse and Project Rowhouse.

I think this is really cool.

Congratuations guys!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Before/After Yard


And after:

Just a reality check on what you can do in a few months.
Thanks for Aunt Heather and Donna for the starters!

Adding to the List

photo by Mark Schmitt

So I noted a few more additions are in the hopper. House finches and goldfinches are coming in for thistle and sunflower seeds. It's neat seeing the red house finches, the gold finches, and a blue jay all at the feeder at one time. I've never before seen so many, either. We've got 4 pair of goldfinches and at least 10 house finches.

I also just spotted a Northern Flicker. They're bigger, noisy woodpecker-like birds, but they're pretty.

The real shocker, though, was seeing the pair of Great Blue Herons flying overhead. We really aren't close to much potential habitat. I'll take it. I continue to be amazed at the bio diversity of our little city lot.

Update: The Kestrels are coming around a bit less. The 4 young ones are apparently straying farther away looking for food. We got the pleasure of watching them in the back yard for a couple weeks as they learned from their parents, as well as noisily begged for bits of whatever critter they were eating. They'll be a lot more quiet as they become more self sufficient. I have to say we really got a lot out of watching them.

The list so far:

Canadian Geese
Mallard Ducks
Turkey Vultures
Red Tailed Hawk
White-footed Mice
Mourning Dove
Rock Dove
Downy Woodpecker
European Starlings (invasive)
English Sparrows (invasive)
Chimney Swifts
Blue Jay
Garter Snakes
Carolina Wren
Brown Thrasher
American Kestrel
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
Mocking Bird
Tree Swallow
House Finch
Great Blue Heron
Northern Flicker
Humming bird
Sharp-shinned Hawk (or perhaps a Cooper's Hawk)