Month: April 2020

Mon. April 20, 2020 – 420 day for what that’s worth

Warmer and damp, with sun later? [cooler and overcast so far]

Yesterday was certainly drab enough.  Cool, then rain storm including marble sized hail, then warm and sticky.   Off and on rain.  Not a good day for yardwork so I’m glad I got all that done on Friday.

I did manage to get a couple of things done.

I cleaned the garage fridge.  It needed it.  REALLY needed it.  Since I only use it for packaged food and bottles, I don’t really care if it is dirty inside, but I’m going to put some potatoes, onions, cabbages, etc in it so it needed to be clean.  I shouldn’t have let it get so bad.  Very strange watching it empty out without plans for a refill.

I also got a small equipment rack up into the attic to be my main network rack.  I’ve had it for a while, even insulated it, but didn’t install it.  The plan is to connect it to the cool air return of my HVAC to keep it cool.  We’ll see if that ever happens.  At least it’s up there and off the back patio.

I mostly read and messed around in the house.  Not a productive day.

Today I’ve got to get some other stuff on the list addressed, depending on the weather.

Dinner was left over ribeye roast, with leftover dinner rolls, and saute’d brusselsprouts with bacon.  Yum.  I had peanut butter cookies for dessert, the kids had Easter candy.  Main fridge is slowly emptying out too.  Kinda disconcerting, despite all the food on the shelves.  Whole eggs and whole milk are going to be the biggest changes, IF I don’t make a store run.

My client wants me to come over and fix some stuff, which I’m reluctant to do.  Very reluctant.  He’s a good guy, good customer, and it pays well.  But I’ve been isolated and he has not.  I’ll be having a couple of discussions with my wife before I decide.  I don’t have to have contact with him, but I do have to go in the house.  On the other hand, it’s a BIG house.

If I decide to break isolation, I’ll be tempted to do a store run.  It would be easier if I didn’t have to make a decision myself.

With that said, stay in, stay safe.

 

nick

 

Sun. April 19, 2020 – no bunny this week

Cool and wet.

Yesterday caught  me off guard.  It was much cooler than I expected.  Rain threatened all day and it was weird greenish-yellow-y light, like tornado weather.  Not something I wanted to be out in.  It finally did rain pretty steady in the late afternoon.  Nice ‘get everything wet’ but don’t wash away the garden soil rain.

I got up earlier than I have been, but found myself suddenly very tired after breakfast.  So tired I went back to bed for a few hours.  Which I try to not do, because that would start something bad.  But I guess I needed the sleep, because I felt a lot better when I got up for the second time.    It did mean that I got nothing real done though.

I did spend a while longer cooking and baking than I usually do.  I tried some soft and springy dinner rolls, that youtube made look easy.  They were edible, and even tasty, but not what I was hoping for.  Dinner was pan fried chicken and I cooked it for just about 5 minutes too long.  Oh well, I did learn from it, so next time should be better.   FWIW the chicken was frozen years ago, and was fine, just a bit overdone.

One thing I did get started with was cleaning the garage fridge.  It’s been a while.  A long while.  I got as far as the door and the glass shelf.  Lots of work needed on the rest later today.

Stay in, stay safe,

 

nick

Sat. April 18, 2020 – ah the weekend, finally some time at home with the family…

 

Warm and damp, chance of rain. [I was WRONG, 68F!]

Yesterday was ominous and oppressive all day. Sweaty.

I did get a bunch of stuff done outside but I was definitely hot and wet doing it.

I cut the grass. I planted all that I could, based on the TX A&M ag extension guide for our region. That amounted to acorn squash, watermelon, zucchini, and cucumbers. This year I put the zukes and cukes in separate beds. No mutant giant bitter weird cross breeds this year. I didn’t have the right kind of peas, and I missed my chance for beans. I can still do a bit of salad greens in the window boxes, and maybe replant the radishes which haven’t sprouted. Other than that, I’m done planting until September.

Texas is going to try to reopen over the next few weeks. Schools will remain closed through the end of our normal year. Don’t know what that will mean for our swim team and our pool. A lot of smaller community based orgs are going to have a real hard time raising money and paying the bills. Hopefully we won’t have an increase in rate of infection. Texas has been managing so far, and Houston isn’t predicted to ever exceed our ICU capacity. This is mainly because they’ve kicked everyone else out, and built new temporary capacity.

Dinner was kielbasa sausage from the freezer, one large turnip from the last run, cubed and boiled, and 5 potatoes cubed and fried in my cast iron fryer pan.  Daughter 2 loves the fried potatoes.  “Best dinner of the virus lockdown.”   I’m glad she likes it.

I’d love for this to be over, but it’s not. It is still expanding and growing. The second wave is starting to spread through asia and china, and the third world is starting to show some real issues.

Stay home, stay safe,

nick

 

Fri. April 17, 2020 – another week gone by

Still cooler, but possibility of rain.

Yesterday was another gorgeous day.  Blue sky, high wispy clouds, cool breeze, and very moderate temps.

I bundled up the last of my tree pruning and got that out for trash pickup.  Watered the gardens.  Added dirt to the potato towers (which are going nuts).  Moved some minor stuff around.  Not nearly as productive as I should have been.

One reason was I spent some time on the phone with an old friend and mentor.  He’s in LA and doing fine, ready to wait this thing out.  I found out that one other friend had passed away last year and another work acquaintance too.  Getting old isn’t any easier if you beat the hell out of yourself when you were younger, and especially if you KEEP beating the hell out of yourself as you get older.

This might be a good time to take up some stretching and light exercise, if you haven’t been doing either of those.   Old and flexible and strong beats the snot out of old and frail and stiff.

Plan for today is more of the same.

Dinner was pork chops cut from a bulk pork roast and seasoned and vac sealed before freezing.  Canned BBQ beans, and canned peas.  I tried sauteing some cuttings from my broccoli, but they were bitter and tough.  Oh well.  Ice cream with the last of the cherry pie filling on top for dessert.

Stay in, stay safe.

n

Thur. April 16. 2020 – spring can’t last much longer

Cool and sunny.  I hope.

Yesterday was another gorgeous day.  Sunny, cool (don’t think it got about 70 in the shade) with a nice breeze.  Perfect weather to wash the cars.  And the bins full of spoiled food.  And for working outside.

Spoke to my neighbor whose son is on the HPD.  He says they’re mostly letting the smaller stuff go.  I assumed that, but now it’s confirmed.  They are one of the smaller forces, per capita, and they can’t really afford to have guys out.  They are wearing masks now and gloves.  His son strips off in the garage before entering the house.  Son’s wife is a medical pro at a woman’s hospital in town so she leaves her stuff in the garage too.  Welcome to life with covid, hafta have a decon chamber at home if you’re in the wrong job.

More of the same stuff to do today as yesterday.  I’d like to get through another pallet of stuff, and maybe condense some of the remaining, as well as get some planting done.  It was on my list for yesterday but I never got to it.  My options are limited for root veg, so I’ll probably go with peas and squashes after all.

Garage shelves need cleaning and sterilizing too.  Then I need to decide what goes into the garage for now.  I’ll be looking for ways to expand the food storage in the garage and looking to see if I can get an A/C unit poked through one of the walls.  Need to call the generator guy too.

Jeez, I better get something done.

Dinner was leftovers.  Food is a weapon.

Stay in, stay safe.

 

nick

Wed. April 15, 2020 – Tax day. Hah, fooled ya! H/T to wuflu…

Sunny, windy and cool.

Yesterday was just like Monday, possibly even nicer as it was just a bit cooler.  I’m hoping for more of the same today.

I did some more yard work, added dirt to the potato towers, pruned the grape vine that didn’t recover from this winter, sprinkled fertilizer on the raised beds and potted plants, and bundled more of the crepe murdered branches.  Watered everything.

I then went into the driveway to move more food from bins under the tarp to my new shelves.  Oh lordy.  I knew one bin was a loss, full of moldy boxes.  I was NOT prepared for the bin full of rusty cans, sewage, and huge maggoty looking things.*  About 150 cans destroyed.  Burst, rusted thru, totally rusted, and all missing paper labels.  One can of spam, one jar of peanut butter, one jar of spaghetti sauce, and one bottle of oil are about all that was salvageable and I’m not really sure I even want to wash them…  About $200 worth of food, maybe more.  The ‘moldy’ bin had a dozen pouches of meat, possibly recoverable, but just thrown out, one case of Kraft mac n cheese, a couple dozen freeze dried side dishes, and a bunch of hamburger helper.  All rotten and damp and moldy.  Not a cheap bin to lose.   Those black bins suck for long term storage in changing conditions.  Call it another $200 lost.

I did move two bins worth of dry goods to the shelves and got rid of a whole pallet under the tarps.  Two, possibly three bins left for tomorrow.  It’s worth mentioning that these bins were stacked three high, and were under tarps and in the shade the whole time.  I don’t think any water got into them directly, I think the changing temps and humid air “pumped” moist air in where it later condensed and couldn’t get back out.  The same bins at my secondary location where the temps were indoor temps with some A/C in the summer and no real cold in the winter were fine, and kept the food dry and safe.  The ones full of cans were the worst in my driveway.  I think the thermal mass of the cans is just that much higher and makes the problem worse.

Dinner was Taco Tuesday.   Fixin’s from the fridge.  Meat from pouches with best by of 2016.  The pouches were pre-seasoned “taco crumbles” hamburger, and pork carnitas chunks from Brazil.  Delicious and unchanged from new.  Dessert was Easter candy.

Some encouraging reports from ERs around the country, but that’s probably because the current restrictions are working.  Keep the faith, stay sane.

Stay in and stay safe.

 

nick

 

*I picked up the cans and threw them in the trash but have no idea what to do with the 2 inches of black water in the bin.  The stench is incredible, and I sure don’t want that in my driveway or yard.  I poured half a gallon of bleach in the bin and left it for today.  I might pour it in the gutter in the street, and then wash my truck to move the stink along.  I’d pour it into the sewer directly if I could do it without a dozen neighbors watching.

Tues. April 14, 2020 – shiny keys

Should be a nice day.  [65F and sunny]

Yesterday was cool, bordering on chilly in the morning, rising to very nice in the afternoon and evening.  Sunny, a bit gusty, but very nice day.

So I worked outside.  Re-potted two trees.  Re-potted the last of the new pepper plants.  Added soil to both of the big trash bag potato towers.  They seem to be growing well.  Watered the gardens and potted plants.  Moved some grass from the kids’ sandbox to bare spots in the front yard.  Don’t know if that will ‘take’ but willing to try for the little effort it took.  Cleaned the pond filter box and changed the media.  Pond looks nice with a bunch of lily pads and one (remaining) goldfish.  The goldfish that went walkabout got his final resting place today too.  He’d been in the fridge while I waited to see if the kids were going to need a full funeral for this one.  Nope.  So under the other fish’s marker he went.  Moved a bunch of saplings in pots out of the raised bed to get ready for whatever I can still plant.  I’m thinking root veg.  Carrots did well, so did turnips, and they store well, and freaking squashes and beans do not.

The cabbages are doing well.  The broccoli is spindly and weak.  The collards are still alive but not really growing.  On the other hand, I’ve got budding fruit on the orange and grapefruit trees.  That’s a first for the grapefruit since the year I planted it.  The lemon and limes look ok too.  The peach is finally almost leafed out, and the pecan tree is too.  The blueberries continue to ripen, what few there are.  Still, they are fun for the kids.

Nothing in the window boxes from the radishes, turnips, and beets yet.  Planted the onion starts and they look good, and planted some lettuce.  Never had any luck with lettuce, so we’ll see how it does.  Ate one golf ball sized tomato with dinner, one left in the fridge.  That would be typically all I get before the heat stops tomato production.  Harvested a couple more sweet peppers off the old plants.

I’ve got material to build another 12 ft of window box for the fence, and some still needs new dirt and seeds.  We’re supposed to have some clear days so I’ll be in the driveway working on that.

Meanwhile, the fridge in the garage is emptying out.  It has more empty shelves right now than in the last 10 years.  I guess I should clean it…  Freezer is still full, and the chest freezer too.  Kitchen fridge is starting to empty, freezer is still full.  Weird seeing the stocks dwindle way past the point I usually fill things back up.  I haven’t had this few eggs on hand in years.  I may move some other stuff to the fridge to extend shelf life.  Or depending on conditions, I might make a store run.  Sure don’t want to.

Dinner was frozen fish fillets, buttered, seasoned and baked, with asparagus chopped and saute’d in butter with onions and a splash of soy sauce, canned corn, and warmed up hawaiian rolls.   Yum.  I had my leftover personal pie under ice cream, and the kids ate Easter candy.

I slept late and woke more rested than I have in many days.  I hope that continues.

Stay in, stay safe.

 

nick

 

(oh, I noticed that my keyboard is both filthy, and I’ve worn the satin finish off the keys to the underlying shiny plastic.  They’ll be even shinier when I clean the freaking thing.)

Mon. April 13, 2020 – another holiday

Warmer, perhaps no rain after all.

Ended up with a beautiful and hot day yesterday.  Sun came out and everything.  It was quite breezy and comfortable in the shade.  101F in the sun.  90F in the shade.

I assembled the can sorters, and moved a bunch of cans around.  I am sorting and organizing and finding more food every time I move a box.  That’s a good thing, btw.

Second order effects are starting to be seen from covid 19.   Food processors are closing.  They kept working and their staff kept coming in, and they are developing clusters of infection.  It is a model for what would be happening in ALL the businesses if people were coming in to work and school.  I know it sucks, but Tyson had ~24 in their cluster, the other place had double that, and that’s just the ones they know so far.  That could be YOUR workplace, your co-workers, you.

Breadlines, crime, violence.  More 2nd and 3rd order effects.

Things are gonna get tougher before they get better.

Keep thinking about what you need to do if this lasts for a few more months, with the social situation deteriorating the whole time.  How long until we see infrastructure failures if the work crews start having the same problems the meat processors are having?   Every cop that coughs today will be out for at least 2 and maybe 5 weeks.  Then their shift partner will be out too.  Think about what a cluster will do to the regional medical center in Bugflock, ID.  I’d love to think we’re approaching ‘peak’ but no one has given any indication why they think this is it… other than models that haven’t been accurate yet.

What is the effect of missing the chance to slaughter your animals?  Are there other processors?  Have you got feed to keep them healthy for another week or month?  What about starting next season’s ‘crop’ if you can’t sell this season’s?  Will the animals be too big? too old?  Can you get enough money to cover the additional expenses?  What happens if the answers are “no”?

There are a million ways this whole thing can go sideways, very quickly.  Small steps to position ourselves should pay larger  dividends later.  Figure out what you need to do.

As always, stay in, stay safe!

 

nick

 

added- forgot to say, dinner was 5 pound bone on ribeye roast from the freezer (2017- vac sealed and frozen), garlic mashed potatoes (fresh), canned green beans (2016 with added garlic, onion, and bacon crumbles), baked shelf stable bread loaf (costco 3 pack), and for dessert- personal pies (2016 canned dark cherry pie filling, readymade pie crust, baked in little ramekins .  I love making the little ‘pies’.

Sun. April 12, 2020 – Happy Easter

Cooler with promise of rain.

Yesterday was overcast and cool with occasional spatters of rain, but overall a nice day.

I got some more work done in the gardens and driveway.  Not what I needed to do or wanted to get done, but I’m finding it harder to get blocks of time to do stuff than I thought.

Did some minor housework.

Dinner was mini hamburgers from frozen hamburger.  I’d vac sealed the burger meat in 2018.  Perfectly fine and delicious with some additional seasoning.  The vac seal is the key to successful freezing.  No air or excess moisture can get in, so no ‘freezer burn’.  Chest freezer set at 0F helps too.  It’s a nice DEEP freeze.  Pasta-roni flavored spaghetti as a side with almost the last of the cottage cheese.

[I had a paragraph here that sounded strange from my mouth, so I cut it]

Let me just say, for all the believers here, you have my sincere best wishes on the feast of Easter.

Nick

Sat. April 11, 2020 – gonna be Easter soon, hope the bunny is ‘essential’

 

Cool and clear, rain in the forecast.

Did not get as much done I hoped. Spent time reading fiction during the day. I don’t usually do that, because I’d get nothing done at all if it became a habit.

I did get a low voltage power line run through the attic to the back of the house. I got the IR emitter hung and thought everything was good to go. Unfortunately, I’m not seeing much IR in the camera image at night. There is a BIT of foliage, but not enough. Maybe the camera doesn’t have good IR capability. In any case, not the slam dunk I hoped for. (Looking at a different camera with good IR capability, it looks like a floodlight is on, so I think it’s the camera. Bummer. One more thing to look at changing.) In the process though, I found a setting that needed to be changed on the other camera that is looking at my front porch, so net-net it was a positive.

Started to get kinda warm up in the attic in the afternoon, despite the cooler outdoor temps. I managed to run another network line for new camera number two, if I can find a good way to mount it on my chimney. It’s the other new 8mpx camera to cover the other end of my street. With possibly sketchy neighbors on that side, I would like to have more coverage of the street. Camera’s not doing anyone any good sitting in a box, I might as well hang it.

Still have a lot of outdoor stuff to do, so I’m hoping the rain holds off again.

Dinner was leftovers. Wasting food is a lot more of an issue when you’re in a lifeboat…. which is the metaphor I’ve been using with the kids.

Take a bit of a break this weekend. Recharge mentally and physically. Do something nice with your other shut-ins….

Stay in, stay safe.

n

 

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