Thursday, June 27, 2013

Simon and Garfunkel Garden Update

I realized this morning that I haven't posted a recent picture of our Simon and Garfunkel herb garden:

Everything is thriving except the parsley and the tomato plant. Parsley may end up being an annual as the heat seems to be thoroughly baking it. Parsley worms (what they call the caterpillars for Black Swallowtail butterflies around here) are also munching it pretty heavily. I can live with that. We don't use parsley that much and we like having the butterflies hanging out around the deck. I'll just let this batch do whatever it's going to do over the summer, then replace it come October. I want to switch over to just the flat-leaf variety in any case and do some relocating. The tomato plant is also on its last legs. I'm leaving it in for now as there are still some scattered blossoms on it, but I'm afraid we've seen the last of the tomatoes until fall. By then I hope to have a better place for tomato plants than crowding up the herb garden.

I called about getting some siding on the place back on Monday, but I haven't heard anything back from them. I need to stay off the phone until afternoon (some blah-blah thing about the parents), but as soon as that is over, I'll be touching base with them again. I'd like to get that done as soon as we can make it happen so I can at least call the outside of the trailer "done". That will free me up to do landscaping over the fall and winter months, then move back indoors next summer.

We had a pretty decent little storm blast through here last night. There are limbs all over the back half of our lot that need cleaning up and I need to check the roof. I didn't hear anything that sounded big enough to do damage smack into us, but it never hurts to take a quick peek. The water was just in time to keep me from having to drag the hoses out. With nothing but sand, everything starts looking wilted if it doesn't rain for two or three days. I keep adding stuff to the beds, but it will take years to get enough material dug in to make any real difference.

I need to wrap this thing; getting close to time for that blah-blah-parent thing I mentioned.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Woo Hoo!!!!

Western civilization is saved!!!

In other important news, it's hot and humid in Florida. Who knew. All it takes to be drenched in sweat is walking out on the front porch. I'm working on getting out earlier in the morning to do the yard work, then spending the afternoon hiding indoors.

We made some progress yesterday on the interior work. There is still a lot of small bits here and there, but all the big stuff is on the walls. I need to find someone with a truck to haul leftovers back to Home Depot. The guy I used last time is out of town. I could rent the Home Depot truck, but that would take big chunk of the returns. Regardless, whatever money we end up with will immediately be used to buy a load of patio blocks for under the clothesline, and maybe the beginnings of a new planting bed. Now that all the snowbirds have flown north, I should be able to find plenty of seconds at the concrete place.

A couple quick shots of how things stand:

We still need to piece in around the windows and back door, and I can't do anything behind the hot water heater until all the plumbing gets relocated. The other "hole" next to the TV will be a large, built-in cabinet with book shelves facing the living area, storage facing the laundry area to the rear of the Florida room, and a place to stash all the computer bits and pieces to get them out of the way. The entire room will get a 90° twist with the TV going on the outside wall and the couch going against the trailer. Once the cabinet is built, the giant, hulking bookcase that doesn't fit anywhere goes on Craigslist. That will basically double the space in the Florida room and make it much easier to navigate. Eventually, the TV will end up hanging on the wall, but for now, it will continue to sit on its current piece of furniture. I may shove some furniture around at some point this week just to try things out.

Once the last of the plywood is up, I'm calling it quits for a while on the interior. We need to redo the water and waste lines on the inside and finish up a number of outside projects first, then we'll finish up with drywall, trim, paint, etc. There are some tricky bits I need to mull over thanks to the fact the the outside walls change thickness several times which will make the drywall and finish work a nightmare. The cabinet/bookshelf will disguise one of those transitions, but I still need to deal with the slider, windows and back door areas. I have a basic idea what I'm going to do, but I need to stare at it a while to get all the details set in my head. Setting patio blocks and making planting beds is something that will give me plenty of "mull time."

Meanwhile, our "guy" is supposed to call me to set up a time to come out and talk to us about getting our siding on the trailer. The park requires us to get that done in a year; technically it's been over a year since we bought it, but less than a year since we officially moved in. No one has come down here and jumped on us yet, probably because the new management is still settling in and cleaning up the debris left by the previous administration. And because we are literally in the furthest back corner of the park; most people that have lived here for years have no idea we even exist. In any case, with some luck, our place should have a pretty new skin on the outside in a few weeks.

As usual, I'll toss some pictures up here once things start to happen.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

We're Ba-ack

Queue creepy little girl (and oddly, Coach):

Anyway, we made a fast dash up to Michigan for Debbie's nephew's graduation open house. Even though we were never within a hundred miles of the place, Atlanta managed to screw us up coming and going. On the way out, a storm in Atlanta held up our pilot for two hours, then on the way back, a storm in Atlanta held up our plane for an hour. I suppose it beats driving. Barely.

The open house went great, weather was nice, lots of people showed up, enough food to feed 10,000, etc. The only problem was how little time we had. On Friday, we flew into Detroit, then spent the next 6 hours or so on the road up to Alpena. Open house was Saturday, then driving back down as far as Birch Run on Sunday. We had Monday free, so we spent most of that driving out to the US/Canadian border to visit one of Debbie's nieces who couldn't make it to the open house. We made a new friend while we were there:

Then Tuesday, we started for Detroit around 3pm and got back here to the trailer at 1am Wednesday. We slept late Wednesday, then worked around the house catching up on all the stuff that didn't get done while we were gone. I swear the grass grew two feet in the five days we were away. Gotta love Florida.

We did something (sort of) new on Wednesday. We'd gone to the local Moose Lodge a couple times with some of the people here in the park. Well, I gave in and paid for a membership. I'm now an official member in good standing of the Loyal Order of Moose, Lodge 2276. (I initially typo'ed that as the Loyal Odor of Moose....) Wednesday was the first time I was able to flash a card with my name on it. I did a short orientation about some of the things Moose International does, but I'm less clear on what exactly the local lodge does other than eat and drink six nights a week. So Tuesday I'll head up there for the weekly meeting and see what's what.

And that's about it. I should be finishing up the last bits on the inside of the Florida room over the weekend, then on Monday, we start looking into getting some siding on the outside of the place. Pictures when there is visible progress.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

"Wonder, wonder, who..."

With apologies to The Monotones:

It's now been two weeks, and still no word on who in Zephyrhills won $600 million. Everyone seems to have a theory, but people I know seem to fall into two camps. The first groups says that $600 mil is a serious bunch of money and the winner is still in the process of putting together a legal/financial team. Maybe. That would be showing a very high level of intelligence, and this is Florida. I have a hard time imagining it. I lean more towards the second group: the winning ticket was purchased by one of the same morons who wander into the tax office where I work after having lost their W-2's, Social Security cards, drivers license, and pretty much everything that I would need to do their taxes, then get all pissed off when I can't do it. In other words, the second largest jackpot in history will never be claimed because the ticket is at the bottom of a landfill wrapped inside an empty Doritos bag.

[Because the universe has a sense of humor, the holder of the ticket came forward a few hours after I posted this. So:


Meanwhile, the deliberate targeting of conservative political non-profits by the IRS looks to be a much bigger deal than those in charge are trying to convince us that it is. I like one comment posted over at Dr. Jerry Pournelle's site: "Liberal politics, statism, the primacy of the regulatory state: it’s just the water these people swim in." Of course a government worker who owes everything he is to those who look favorably on an ever-expanding federal government would view anyone holding an opposing opinion as the enemy. It looks to be an interesting summer.

I always get a chuckle at any headline that proclaims to know the "real" reason for something that involves millions of people making decisions independently of one another. Paging Dr. Rorschach. But I had to laugh out loud while reading The Real Reason Millennials Don't Buy Cars and Homes. Umm, lessee: They're flat broke, unemployed and are on average carrying $27,000 in student debt. That if they somehow manage to find a job, every penny left after taxes will be going to pay said debt. That a fair-sized chunk of them are still in college or even still in high school. (Millennials are currently 16 to 34 years old.) So after treading through the painfully obvious, the author tries his hand at comedy:
Once millennials find their financial footing, however, they might just turn into materialistic spenders who love cars and other costly things — just like their parents.

“Millennials are not going to buy cars? That’s hogwash,” Dorsey said at the Ford panel. “You’re going to see those big purchases starting to happen but they’re just not there yet.” Maybe living with their parents and saving money is just what millennials need to do to become the powerhouse purchasers of the future.

Why will they do this? 'Cause that's what the Myth of Progress says they must do, that's why!! (giggle, snert)

And I'll wrap up with yet more evidence that Patrick Stewart is made of awesome:

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Rains Arrive

June 1st is the official start of the wet/hurricane season here in central Florida. It blew in with a vengeance today. The sky started clouding up around five in the afternoon and by 6:30pm, it was full-on monsooning and kept at it for over five hours. At least I won't need to worry about watering plants for a while.

Meanwhile, I've been making steady if slow progress on the Florida room. The front two-thirds is nearly ready for the final layer of plywood/insulation prior to hanging drywall. All that's left to do is the final caulking and taping to seal everything up:

The rest of the Florida room will involve cutting fewer pieces of foam, but they will all be much more of a pain to install. I'm figuring another week to get that ready for its final layer. After that, we will be returning our focus to the outside of the trailer. We have to get the wooden parts of the porch cleaned and treated, and we need to get "the guys" back out here to hang siding on everything. After that, we'll likely take a break from the big projects and get back into building planting beds.

We had a visitor while we were eating lunch on the porch around the middle of the week:

The picture sucks mostly due to being taken with the zoom at 400 mm, hand-held, then cropped down to around 600K pixels. He was hiding himself and his mate from a hawk, possibly a red-shouldered hawk or Coopers hawk. We didn't get a good look at it, but we've seen both hanging around in the woods next to our place, taking out other birds. That's one of the primary reasons I haven't bothered with a bird feeder; it would end up being a hawk feeder.

Well, off to bed.