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The Scotch Broom is blooming

I have a real love hat relationship with spring. All the buds coming out, and the green appearing on the trees is beautiful. The part I hate is the allergies!

Here in the Pacific Northwest the vile, evil Scotch Broom is now blooming, and I'm having trouble breathing. But I don't have it all that bad compared to Laurie, it is just about impossible for her to breath, and she has tried just about every treatment there is.

The funny thing is that there are actually people that claim that it is not Scotch Broom that cause the allergies, because some allergy specialist back in the 50s declared that the pollen was too large to cause the problems. They claim that it's the grass or ash or alder or some other thing. Here's the problem with that theory, Scotch broom grows in a wider variety of locations than any of those other things. There isn't much grass in a redwood forest, but I get the same response when the Scotch Broom is blooming there, as when it is blooming in the meadow down the road.

Olympia Farmer's Market opening day!

The Olympia Farmers Market opened for the season today, and I was unable to resist!

Of course, it's too early in the season to have a huge selection of produce, but a lot of the spring starts are out, and there is always Stewart's Meats to load up on my sausage.

did start some of my own broccoli this year, but the mice got into the starts and dug up the seeds, so I picked up two 6-packs of really nice looking plants from one of the organic growers. As always, I had to go with at least one pack of Packman Broccoli, as that is the one that made me discover that I actually like home grown broccoli. And for the second 6-pack I went with one that has red tinged heads.

Sammy the dog and his Congestive Heart Failure

Back in early January, our dog Sammy developed a cough that wasn't going away like most dog coughs usually do, so I brought him to the vet. Of course, I was expecting a report of upper resiratory infection or even pnemonia, but I was shocked into speachlessness by a diagnosis of an advanced heart murmur and congestive heart failure.

Of course, I had no real idea what congestive heart failure (CHF) was, but any time you have the words "heart" and "failure" next to each other, it cannot be a good thing.

My simple layman's understanding of this is that the heart valve does not close properly, allowing the blood to go back into the heart. This requires the heart to pump harder, making it bigger and stronger, which actually makes it harder for the valve to work properly. This somehow leads to a problem of the body retaining fluids, especially in the lungs, which was what was leading to the cough.

Drupal SPAM module works

The drupal module to catch comment spam caught a posting this morning. Very cool.

I'll be more impressed when I start getting a lot more comments as well as spam comments.

Just to increase my fun playing with it, I also entered the IP address into the Troll module with a one month ban. It came from a DSL line in Germany, so I am thinking about sending an abuse report to them to see if they pull that user's account.

Another tree goes down

It looks like we lost another tree due to the wind today. This one is a little mor annoying than the snags that we have lost, as this one is a live douglass fir that was helping block some of the sun coming through my computer room window in the evening.

Unlike the snag that snapped it's trunk about 3 feet up, this one lifted out it's rootball. Oddly enough, it was less than a foot away from a much larger snag that didn't go over.

We woke up this moring to the sound of the wind blowing hard, but when I checked wunderground a couple hours later they said that the winds were 5 mph, gusting to 8. Interesting. Now that the rain has come, and the wind has dropped down to a gentle breeze, wunderground is telling me that the wind is at 10, gusting to 11.

Stupid mice

How stupid does a mouse have to be to decide that a house with 3 cts and a dog would be a good place to live? Not only that, but it repeatedly saw them when running between two holes under the kitchen cabinets.

Well, it learned last night that it may not be a good place to live, but it iscertainly a good place to die. There was just a tail and some guts left on the floor.

I'm guessing that itcame in under the dishwasher from the crawlspace, so today's plan is to look into getting some sort of screen over those crawlspace vents.

Peak Oil the latest Y2K bug

It is really quite funny following some of the lists that discuss Peak Oil. Maybe 1 in 20 of the members are interested in considering the real implications, and the other 95% are mostly the doom and gloom sort that jump from one potential catastrophe to the next. Y2K did not pan out for them, so now they are jumping on the Peak Oil bandwagon. Many of them are actually cheering for the downfall of civilization.

Just like with Y2K, there are a hell of a lot of potential outcomes, and while the one they are hoping for is certainly a possibility, I wouldn't bet on it. Not only do we have all the technology that we had available before the oil age, we have improved on a lot of it. Here in the Northwest we don't burn oil to generate our electricity, we get it from the turbines in the dams.

Finally! a 24 Hour Fitness in the area

When Laurie was at school yesterday, she found out that 24 Hour Fitness was opening a Sport Club at our exit off of I-5!

Mind you, I'm not exactly in love with the company, they have a lot of policies that drive me nuts, but I like gyms that are open 24/7. The one we belong to now is in downtown Lacey in an office building. It does the minimum job that we require of it, but it has no pool, no spa, the aerobics room is about 15 feet square and they bought all their weight machines from one vendor.

It's time to order seeds

Today, I have a huge list of little things that I need to get done, but on the top of that list is to figure out what seeds I need to order, and get at least one of the orders in.

Last year I took way too long and totally missed the February planting date for my broccoli starts. Hell, I even ended up starting my tomatoes and chiles later than I wanted. I really want to avoid having that happen again.

I also want to try some different vendors than last year, just for the fun and variety of it. Last year it was pinetree Garden Seeds, Tough Love Chile Company and Totally Tomatoes. I also picked up some seeds locally from Territorial Seed, which is a catalog outfit down in Oregon that is stocked by several of the stores up here.

Damn fleas

If there is one thing that I haved learned about trying to control fleas using natural methods, it's that you simply cannot slack off on the effort.

Normally, it would not be a big deal to slack off too much, the fleas would get a little worse, then we would redouble our efforts and the population would drop back down again. No big deal, right? Well add in a dog that has flea allergy dermatitis, and the whole thing changes.

Sammy has actually been very lucky as far as fleas are concerned. They simply don't like the taste of him. We can pull dozens of fleas off the cats with a flea comb, yet never find a single flea on Sam. We never find any flea dirt on him either. It seems that after one bite, they decide to search for their food someplace else.

Yummy sourdough bread

I haven't made any white bread in around a decade, but I decided to make some white sourdough loaves today. They were so yummy about 10 minutes out of the oven, with just a little butter melted on them.

I actually made them to use to make crutons for some french onion soup and to use in a cheese strata, but at this point, I'm not so sure that any of it is going to last till then.

More about wooden spoons

I can't believe that it didn't occur to me before, while thinking about making spoons out of the madrone branches, but some of the other harwoods on our property are also considered good carving woods. We have huge quantities of beaked hazelnut, oceanspray and dogwood, as well as two young bigleaf maples and a vine maple.

I hate the oceanspray because their stupid flowers dry up and get in your hair and clothes all the time, so I am constantly cutting lots of that down. The hazelnuts around here are a real weed, and they are multi-trunked, so I could easily cut down several good sized trunks every year to start drying out. It seems that hazelnut is a preferred wood to use for carving walking sticks, so I think I might have to try one of those too.

Snow damage

That really wet snow on Thursday night seemed to do quite a number on some of the big trees in the area, and on some of the trees and shrubs around our property. Down the street, one of the houses that has some of the 150'+ Douglas Firs has about a dozen branches down in their front yard, some of which are almost a foot in diameter and 20'-30' long.

I didn't think that we really took any damage, but this afternoon I noticed that the climbing rose in front of the garage, wasn't just drooped over, but one large section was actually broken off. Then when we were taking Sammy for a walk around the corner, one of the shrubs in the back hedge was bent over all the way to the ground, and another one had it's trunk snapped at around 10 feet.

I want to make some wooden spoons

I was looking around on the web for chile seed sources, and I noticed the madrone bowls and spoons at NativeSeeds.org. Two things occured to me, first tey were really beautiful, but even more than that, is that we have over 100 madrone trees on the property, and we are regularly going to have to trim off branches that are big enough to make wood cooking spoons!

According to the Spoon Lady page on carving your own, you only need and 11 inch long by three inch wide piece of wood. No problem! We have lots of those.

4 inches of snow and the power goes out

It snowed all day yesterday, but nothing was sticking till about an hour before sundown. The weather report called for it to taper off with maybe an inch of accumulation.

What a shocker, they got it wrong! By the time I went to bed at 2:00 there was at least 3 inches out there, and we were woken up at around 6 this morning by the UPSs in my computer room beeping because the power was out.

The real problem with the power going off that early on a cold morning is that the furnace was on the night time setting of 64, so it just got colder from there. By 7:30 it was dropping below 60.

We do have a fireplace stove insert, but we don't use it much because it makes the whole house smokey. It's a sealed unit from the 70s and when the doors are closed it doesn't draw enough through the vents to keep the flames going. If we just use the screen in front of it, the smoke doesn't get into the room while the fire is roaring, but it does once the firs starts dying down.

We got snow this year!

Okay, it wasn't a *real* snow like I've gotten in other places that I've lived, or even like we've had here for most years, but it was at least enough to stick on the ground for a few hours.

Last year, we had a full 2 minutes of snow that I noticed, and for most of the winter there was not enough snow to snowshoe up at Paradise on Mount Rainier.

It was also the first real snow that either Max the cat or Sammy the dog have been in. Neither one wanted to walk out from under the patio roof to find out if that white stuff falling in big clumps was dangerous. Sam wanted back in the house pretty much immediately, whale Max wanted to sit there and look up at it falling.

Do anti-SUV people ever think?

Why the hell do people complain about SUVs without even taking a couple of minutes to consider that many of them, possibly even a majority of them, are used properly and in a way that higher mileage cars simply will not be able to replace.

Okay, there are some really good reasons to complain about the way that certain people use their SUVs. If all you do is drive it around town with one person in it 98% of the time, then you are being incredibly wasteful.

But the fact is that they were designed for a specific purpose, and when used for that purpose, they can be far more efficient than any Prius, and when you get outside the confines of the city, they tend to be used for those purposes a lot more often.

Thanksgiving camping trip

Ever since Laurie and I moved in together back in 1999, we have gone camping for Thanksgiving. Our preferred destination is the short backpack from Lake Ozette out to Sand Point Campground on the Washington coast. In fact, we discovered that hike on our first Thanksgiving together when we camped and kayaked at Lake Ozette and did day hikes to Sand Point and Cape Alava.

1999 - Camp and kayak at Lake Ozette, and go on day hikes to Sand Point and Cape Alava. I discovered that the boardwalk sections of the trail can get incredibly slippery, so I get some Get-A-Grips before our next rip out there. Half the campground at Ozette is under water from the extreme flooding that year.

Dad's boat

While wandering around on the web, I came across the plans for the boat my dad built in the early 70s! What memories it brought back!

The Glen-L Cruisette filled our garage for at least a year while we were building it.

As much as I love the kayaks, I really do miss having a boat that I can take out in worse weather than I am willing to go out paddling in, or being able to travel at more than a couple of knots when I want to explore other areas.

I definitely want to build another boat, but I suppose I should clean out

New tugboat on the local market

Well, another old Army LT tug has come on the market here in Seattle while I am unable to afford to buy it. I suspect that it is still a little overpriced at $85k, so hopefully I can concentrate on making some money while the price drops, but before they end up selling it.

While they certailny were not built for comfort, they were overbuilt like just about any other military vehicle, and with some modifications it can become a comfortable yacht/home that can even operate fairly economically (for a 107' boat, that is). One of the local retired LTs has replace the big old 80,000 pound Enterprise Diesel with a much smaller modern Cat diesel. With this new setup they get in the range of a couple of miles per gallon at a slow cruise speed. After all, there isn't exactly any need to push around battleships anymore.

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