Cultivating dirt

Thus far, in our adventure on the farm, what have we done?

Other than trying to coax grass to grow to keep our own personal Dust Bowl to a minimum, not much. There is still plenty of garbage strewn about that has to be collected, and quite a lot of the property to be graded to a level that it can actually be used. Since I have no grader attachment, that means leveling with a rake and shovel in smaller patches as I put down grass seed. In the side and rear, where I want to put the garden items, that’s a bit more difficult: it surely is a large piece of ground to be leveling by hand, and there’s only one of me. So, I plan to do a smaller patch by hand, just to get my seedlings transplanted out of the flats before they croak, and then we’ll ask the builder if he has a guy/girl to do the rest so we can put seed directly down. Once that grading is done, the fun will begin in earnest.

The current plan is to have three 40′ rows of silver queen corn, three 20′ rows of the same, and three 20′ rows of another sweet variety called maple sugar. I might do another row or two of a Japanese hulless corn for popping. Once thing I miss more than I thought I would since treatment is popcorn: I can’t eat traditional variety, because the hulls get stuck everywhere in my mouth after just a few kernels, and dental stuff takes forever as it is. I figure a hulless corn for popping may be just the thing.

At one end of the long rows, we’ll have zucchini, and at the other, squash – no crosspollination for us, thanks. At the ends of the smaller blocks that will hold tomatoes, we’ll have a couple different varieties of cukes. We’ll also have a couple blocks of different types of peppers. Along the fenceline around the pool on the east side, which will get AM sun and PM shade, we’ll have onions, garlic, shallots, broccoli, and cauliflower, so as not to have them burn up in the heat of the afternoons around here.

We also have the following to plant: lettuce, arugula, spinach, carrots, celery, snap peas, green beans, English peas, black beans, watermelon, and canteloupe. I also have potatoes and strawberries coming in – the latter a hybrid designed to withstand the kind of heat we have around here in the summer. I also need to get the winter squashes in the ground soon (butternut squash and pumpkin).

Around the blocks, we’ll have marigolds and nasturtiums planted, to keep the nasty bugs away. Plus, there are all the herbs that have been started: cilantro, different types of basil, catnip, spearmint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and so on.

The biggest stumbling block right this moment is the grading. I also need to get my compost pile started again. Fortunately, for that, there is plenty of brown matter around here to chip/grind and throw in with the green matter.

I know everything will come together. Just a little more patience, I suspect, the same as it is with awaiting those first sprigs of green in the areas where I have already put down grass seed.

Oh, and at some point, I need to plan the menu for the Memorial Day party, and we need to get the invites out so we know how many people are coming. It seems every day one of us says we’ve invited yet another person/group of people, so this year may be our largest yet.

Winners, all

Poking along on dialup does a couple of things, really. It offers a lesson in patience, for one, but it also affords one the opportunity to reflect on the miracle that allows some people to get through their day to day lives without accidentally killing themselves or someone else through sheer stupidity.

Like the guy who told us he couldn’t access his account and complaining that he was “losing listeners”, but provided no details as to what his issue was. He then wrote back to us to cancel after being provided with his access details again, telling us he was “dissatisfied” that we were not going to set up his site for him because he was paying a per month fee for hosting and a per month fee for domain registration.

There are two things wrong with this picture. Well, more than that, but there are two that jump right out at us. First, it’s a brand new domain. Just how many visitors are you losing, exactly, to a domain that did not even exist before you ordered it? And secondly, just what part of the FAQ or the terms or the invoice did you fail to grasp that indicated domain fees are done on an annual basis? All of them, apparently. I won’t even get into the fact that we don’t do design or setups and don’t say anywhere that we do, or tell you that your local fifth grader could design your site for you for the fee you’re paying each month, because it won’t be done by a pro at that rate – or that you could just install a ready-made app right from the control panel of the account, so all you have to do is click the mouse a couple of times and then start typing up whatever inane crap you’re going to put out there for the world to see.

My favorite type of person, though, are those with signatures in their emails indicating their association with the IT world. Like the latest one I just closed out, who wrote in to cancel because they were having issues retrieving their email (although the logs showed that email was delivering quite nicely, thank you). He complained that they had written in a few days prior “with no resolution”. A check of the previous ticket shows that yep, it was responded, and we asked some followup questions. All of this from someone whose signature read “IT – Systems Administration”. Now, if it were me – and I’m just tossing this out there for consideration, mind you – if I achieved some lofty position in IT based on years of toil, and I contacted a vendor about an issue related to email, I’d probably use an email address I knew I could check. Say, one not at the domain I’m writing in about. Because then I wouldn’t need to bitch at the vendor about not receiving a response just because I was a complete dumbass for using an address at that domain. But hey, that’s just me. What the hell do I know.

In other news, today will be the first real yard work day around here, now that the old place is finished completely. That’s after I sign off on some paperwork at the accountant’s office, ship a motherboard back to the vendor as a DOA, and other assorted business things. At least the moving is finished, thankfully. I hate the process. But I love this particular result.

Home, sweet home

Welcome home.

We discovered that our suspicions were true: the neighbor behind us had dumped most of the crap onto this property, including a bunch of giant creosote poles. The builders finally got them removed – by the neighbor who dumped them in the first place. Now that side of the property looks even larger than it did, although there is still more junk to be removed, courtesy of the neighbor.

The yard tractor also arrived yesterday. It’s lovely.

And moving can be very painful to those with sensitive skin due to medical routines.

I have a matching set on the other arm, plus bruises up and down my legs and on my hips. If I only had a jacuzzi now…

The weather is here, wish you were fine

Wait, that’s the other way around, isn’t it?

This weekend has been spent hauling things out to the estate – we’re calling it the estate to differentiate it from the current house, since otherwise when we’re not together and someone says they are “at the house” it saves the time we would ordinarily be asking “which house”. So, the estate it is. I have bruises up and down the inside of each arm from toting things, because for whatever reason since treatment, it seems that I can bruise even with the gentlest of touches. And hauling boxes is not a gentle process when half your upper body is quite a bit weaker than the other half and you can’t really lift one arm the way you can the other. It makes for a little offbalance moving, but since we’re all a little offbalance, I suppose that’s fitting.

In any case, after a full day of back and forth on Saturday between the estate, the house, Home Depot, and the NOC a couple of times, with work in between each, I settled in and tried to sleep. Sleep, for me, has never been consistent and I can’t remember the last time it was ever really a good sleep (not including the times I was drugged up, of course, but a drugged sleep isn’t all that natural). Another fitful few hours later, and it was Sunday, so I got up to do it all over again. One trip to the NOC to crawl around and trace a power line that was mislabeled (by moi), and it was off to the races. Our dear friend Brutus showed up to help sling some boxes and see the house, but then things slowed down and we sat outside by the pool, enjoying the quiet, the breeze, and the beauty of the new place.

They completed the sod around the pool area and a line around the house, so I’ve been working to keep that watered since Mother Nature isn’t cooperating by giving us any rain.

While I was taking the second shot, a crazy person – aka, my mother – decided that she wasn’t going to let a little thing like 72 degree water stop her.

My sister also took a quick dip a little later in the day. Me? I’m cold enough as it is. I’d turn into a human popsicle if I climbed into that water.

In the meantime, the movers will be here on Tuesday now instead of today, but that’s fine. We’ll have satellite and the remaining two phone lines installed today, so those guys will be out of the way when the moving are bringing things in. That works out well. That also gives us another day to tote more of the little stuff over and gives me the chance to test the dialup out there and to start working on some of the outside landscaping/gardening things.

Ciao for now!

How was your day, dear?

Well, I gotta tell ya…

Good. And bad. And good. And seemingly neverending.

The pool is lovely, bright, and deep.

After a very restless night and very little sleep, I bagged it, got up, and did some work to clear a few things off my list. All the while, I seriously contemplated the distinct possibility that I might wind up puking before going off to get a cashier’s check for closing.

But I didn’t puke, I did get the check, and did head off to sign my life away.

Naturally, in the midst of signing all the papers, one of the servers went down and would not come back. A bit of misinterpretation by one of the guys equaled an issue that lasted quite a bit longer than it should have. I wound up blasting out to the NOC, at the beginning of rush hour, to run some commands on the server. While working on that one, another page from the monitor: another server has bitten the dust. Fortunately, I was already there, as that server, after a reboot, needed a disk check as well. With that running, but before the final reboot to bring that one back online, yet another page: another person has crashed their server (but this one does this on a fairly regular basis). That one, of course, came right back after a power cycle, as it was the one I was least concerned about. With all the disk checks done, everything back online, and the monitor all clear with all services green, I could finally enjoy the moment.

Just the tiniest taste for me, since alcohol and my tongue are still not yet approaching being even the most distant of friends.

Back on the road for more work, then back on the road to return to the HQ. Ding! Yet another server issue, and it’s the same one that went off earlier today as I was working on server number one. Criminy. Manage to get to a safe spot, get logged on to the reboot port via my phone. Ding! Recovery notices. In the five minutes or so it took me to do that, the user has rebooted the server (although, I believe that if you can get into the server, 99% of the time it isn’t necessary). Back on the road, finally to the HQ, settle back in to work.

Only to consider that perhaps our habit of answering tickets almost instantly is something we should rethink, as a user is demanding to know why someone hasn’t answered a ticket in 30 minutes – a ticket related to that very server, in fact. That could be because my vehicle, sad to say, does not travel at the speed of light, it’s impossible for me to answer tickets on my phone, and I’m the one covering tonight. Ergo, no response to that ticket or any other in the preceding 30 minutes.

Take care of that, whip through the other few tickets that have arrived, and then receive a real winner: someone complaining about a charge for domain registration, telling us they have no account with us and to remove it. Well, genius, it would help if you could give us some kind of hint as to who you are, when the charge was processed, what the domain name was on the invoice, what the invoice number was, or perhaps what the last four of the credit card were. You know – any sort of information whatsoever that would let us know which of the numerous charges we process on any given day would be The One.

Oh, and this is what greeted me when I got back to the old house.

What used to be a pillow was now a collection of small fluffy islands in the foyer, living room, and office. And no, Newton was not the culprit. But he did pose nicely.

Mickey had wisely decided to take his ass outside after laying down on the floor at my feet, knowing that he’d been bad. Damn dogs. Good thing they’re so cute.

The first couple of loads of stuff is at the new place. Tomorrow will bring more work and more back and forth between the old and new houses. It will be a rather exhausting weekend, I can see this already.

Foiled again

A step back, a step forward, a step back, and what do you have?

The hokey-pokey, of course.

Or a very real delay in closing on your new house, courtesy of the fence guy, who let us down by not showing up yesterday to hang the gates, thus delaying the final pool inspection, thus delaying the closing.


So, we’re off until Friday morning at the earliest, which means we can’t get the movers until Monday.


We’ve decided that we’ll start moving the plants and other outside stuff this weekend, to get it out of the way. Hell, I might even start throwing boxes in the car each time I go out there and just leave the big stuff for the movers. Or round up a few people, get a truck, and move the big stuff ourselves…


The countdown is on to closing. Originally, we thought we’d be delayed until Friday, but the inspection pieces fell into place and we are still on for Thursday morning. That means moving on Friday morning and settling in over the weekend, with assorted projects to get underway.

There are fires burning up across the Georgia state line. This morning, on the way to the insurance agent’s place to sign off on the homeowner’s insurance paperwork, the smoke was thick because the wind was from the north, pushing the haze our way. That blew off in the afternoon, but we’re expecting it again in the morning, since the fires are still burning up there.

But let’s go backwards in time, shall we?

For the past week, we have been out to the house almost twice a day, every day. Yesterday early, the pool guys were there after the safety inspection had been completed.

Every job has its own specialized tools. A couple of the guys were wearing these platforms on their shoes. The platforms have four pointed feet underneath, so they’re not leaving footprints in the sealant.

Here’s a gratuitous beefcake shot of a broad-backed worker for those interested. And you know who you are.

We also found to our surprise that the dumpster had been pulled.

As we were leaving, the worker bees from next door were pulling the trailer and the remaining fenceposts off the property and taking them to the other side. I suppose the builder must have had a word and indicated that we were getting close.

After taking some more photos, it was time to head out again. When we returned home, we found a coupe of birds doing that springtime dance. Love is in the air, indeed.

A couple hours later, it was time for a return trip, to check out the pool again. The workers had gone, and there was a snake in the pool.

Not really.


Slowly but surely, the pool was filling. I had neglected to both charge the battery in my camera and to bring the spare, so that was the final shot of the day. I wanted to take another shot from upstairs without the trailers and posts on the side, but alas, there was no juice. It will have to wait until tomorrow, assuming that I get over there.

Which is a question mark of sorts, as I have an appointment with the ENT in the early afternoon. Nothing terribly serious, but rather annoying: the scans are not showing any decrease in activity (but no increase either), and there’s a bit on tingly stuff from time to time. So, time for a visit to let the doc poke around. I always resist the temptation to chomp down on their fingers…

And finally, a recommendation: if you speak French, or can sit through a movie in French with English subtitles, see Amelie. I finally had the chance to watch the entire movie from start to finish, and it is an excellent movie, with some quite finely nuanced performances.

When I was your age…

There’s a certain beauty in moving out to the country. Open space, no houses bunched so closely together that you can read your neighbor’s paper while they’re sitting on the can, the peace and quiet, the option to either jump in the pool or work in the garden, or walk the trails in the preserve behind the house, or just loll around with a book while sitting under a tree.

But then, there is one downside that we’ve just discovered.

A downside, you say? How can that be? The idyllic life has nothing to mar it!

Except for those of us who fairly live on the Internet currently: there is no high speed access in the area. No DSL, and the cable company doesn’t even have basic cable service out there, which means we’re suddenly finding ourselves getting the satellite folks out. And resigning ourselves to life with dialup, at least until the gigantic development about six miles away grows up into houses with people in them, at which point the cable people will realize that service should indeed exist out our way.

Naturally, those of us of a certain age remember the days of dialup. Some of us of a certain age remember the first waves of dialup, plugging along at 300 baud. Since living without access is not an option, and since living without this property is not an option, dialup it will be. Fortunately, I am not streaming videos or music from my laptop to the Internet at large (heck, if I wanted to do that, I have a 1 Gps connection available to me at the NOC within our network there).

Since support issues are so very quiet these days – aggressive server management will do that for you – really all I do is check in and answer tickets, and do command line server maintenance things for work. For play – well, I suppose trying to bring up cuteoverload on dialup would be an adventure in pain, and I’ll have to reserve all my iTunes purchases for trips to the NOC so they can download there to my laptop while I’m setting up servers.

I expect to be spending more time away from my laptop then I have been lately, and instead of sitting around on my ass all day long doing this or that for work, I expect to be carving out time for enjoying life. Gardening. Cooking things from my garden. Canning. Swimming, for the first time in a couple of years (especially now that I no longer have a hole in my abdomen). Walking the trails in the forest. Landscaping. Experimenting with recipes for hot sauces and salsas and other things that maybe one day will be for sale.

That sort of thing.

The quiet, then the storm

People have asked what the property looks like. How about a bird’s-eye view? This is from the early part of 2006, and the red outline is the property. At the bottom of the property, the upside down L is another parcel of just under an acre and a half that is to be deeded over to us (99% certainty of that). At the bottom of the image, the small rectangle behind each parcel is the easement into Jennings State Forest.

Yesterday, we simply had to go to the house to see what the pavers had finished and how the fence looked.

Not bad. Through this gate, on the road side, we’ll have a large dog run for the animals to roam. Mickey in particular loves to run, and fast. Fortunately, we have plenty of room for that.

The only issue is that the pavers ran short, and the corner around the skimmer basket is unfinished. This means that our closing, originally scheduled for Monday and delayed to Thursday will likely be delayed to Friday. Boo! Hiss!

It’s all lovely, though.

Last night, and into the morning, we had a line of storms roll through, bringing quite a lot of wind and some much-needed rain. The rain, we welcomed. The wind, not so much: after all, my house is new. What if a tree uprooted and crashed through the roof, or took out some windows, or the entire house just lifted off and landed in Oz?

So, another trip to the house, just to check in on things. Things were fine.

And a lot of the sand was cleared away by the rain.

The builders were on site, and had removed a section of the fence so they could get the tractor in to grade around the pool while they were doing some grading on the rest of the property. With the rain, the soil was much softer than it had been – also welcome, as that will make my landscaping plans easier to implement.

It was a gray, windy day, but things are still coming along nicely.

There is still debris to be removed, still more grading to be done, and there’s still that pesky pool inspection that needs to be completed. So, still some patience to be had as this process – which has been fairly stress-free – nears the end.