Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday, 24 Nov - Finishing The Garden

The gardens now should be done for the year. Barry planted an Asian pear tree and a cherry tree, plus daffodil bulbs (photo) near the Cleveland pear. Note the new bed between the pear and the lilac -- the cherry is in the middle, and the rest will be flowers. No more mowing between trees for that part of the garden.

The straw is over the strawberries, the last of the beets have been harvested (and eaten already), and chard is STILL growing. We'll be eating fresh chard all winter!

Gotta love it!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday, 9 November - Barry and the coupons

Now this isn't for everyone, it takes time and effort, and lots of people have the will but not the ability. But if you can do it, it's great.

Barry discovered the use of coupons in an organized way a short time ago. Now we had used coupons occasionally before, but this time it's serious.

He and I (well, mostly he) haunt the coupon websites and print out coupons on items that we'd normally buy anyway. Yesterday, I bought copies of the Danville and Lexington papers JUST for the coupons and sales fliers.

Well, today was a red-letter day:

Wal-Mart, Campbell's soup, and Betty Crocker au-gratin potatoes, both on sale. Regular retail was about $5.00. He paid $.70! Plus he p@ssed off one of the floor associates because the computer-printed coupons wouldn't scan and she had to get off her @ss to go to customer service to check it out. We're probably not the first Wal-Mart customers to use computer-printed coupons, so they should have KNOWN how to deal with them -- key in the numbers. That simple.

Kroger's, with coupons and sales, we got $34 dollars of groceries for $18. They handled the coupons just fine. Jessica, you're a sweetheart.

CVS, two bottles of brand name glucosamine/chondroitin, regularly $60. On sale, buy one get one free plus a $7 coupon. Final price $24.

All in all, today, we bought $99, paid $43, saved $56, an all on items we either need or will need!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saturday, November 7 - Catching Up

Catching Up

Sometimes "Blogger" can be such a pain when posting pictures that I don't bother. Then I get a pang of guilt and try it again. Let's see how this works today.

Catching everyone up on what's going on down here, so this blog post is a total mish-mash of TicTacToe, Irises and Mountaintops...you'll see...

1. October 18, we had our first official frost. You can see that wherever the sun shone, the frost disappeared almost immediately, but I love this shot of our front lawn about 9AM (it didn't get light until 8 this time of year).

2. October 21, we went up to Frankfort, Versailles, and ended up at Keeneland in Lexington. This is what greets visitors as they drive onto the race track grounds. Unfortunately, what Kentucky is MOST famous for may not last much longer. Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia and now Ohio all have casino gambling, and one person in the Kentucky General Assembly has blocked Kentucky from even CONSIDERING casinos because he personally doesn't believe in gambling. Thus, many of the Kentucky horsemen who want to race in Ohio, where the purses will be larger than Kentucky, may well move their operations to Ohio, since in many races, horses must be BRED in Ohio to race there. So this photo in another 10 years may be a Super Wal-Mart or a condominium development because of basically ONE person. Can we learn to say, "Lexington, FORMER Horse Capital of the World"?

3. October 25, In the driveway. Just got this shot of a number of jet contrails. We're along the flight path from New York to Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit to Florida, and other major routes, but this shot was just too much. Now if a local pilot could do "X" and "O" on the squares ...

4. October 29, Eastern Kentucky. We were hoping to get here this year, and we did make it, though not for as long as we had planned. We also missed the peak foliage by about a week, but the day was nonetheless beautiful, sunny and in the 60s and low 70s. We headed to Lexington, then to Winchester and the Mountain Parkway for about 40 miles. Then we turned south on KY-15 which connects Jackson (Breathitt County) and Hazard (Perry County).

The area is mountainous with little flat land anywhere, so everything seems built on hills. Jackson, KY, is in a valley formed by a branch of the Kentucky River.

Panbowl (or Pan Bowl) Lake (right) is a beautifully tranquil oxbow lake formed from a former channel of the Kentucky River -- we MUST get over here next summer to canoe.

Mountaintop removal is a less expensive way to mine coal, and it's the hot topic here in the east. On the one hand, it does damage the environment; on the other hand, it does provide jobs in the part of the Commonwealth that can most use them. When the top of the mountain is removed it creates flat land -- and we saw housing developments and even a shopping center on what WAS a mountain maybe 20 years ago. The controversy continues.

Whenever roads are built or widened in this part of the state, the construction must bore and blast into the hills. So nearly everywhere, scenes like this are common. In this part of the state, one can often see black coal-like veins among the tan or gray limestone.

5. October 30, Our Back Yard. Well actually, out in front of the house, looking down the Old Salt River Road -- yeah, that WAS a road, and technically it still IS. The foliage here is about a week later than eastern Kentucky, and though it wasn't as stunning as last year, it was nice, nonetheless. Sort of reminded me of Maine.

6. November 1, Our Last Bell Pepper! Yeah, this little fellow hitch-hiked his way into the petunia window box, so we let him grow. But today, we noticed he was beginning to rot just a bit, so it was time to pick him. To keep him from the frost, we moved him to the back of my truck under the cap; to keep him warm I moved the truck out into the sun during the day. What I'll do to keep that little pepper growing. By the way, his little brother is in Barry's bedroom (along with 3 lemon trees, some cilantro, basil, oregano, an orange tree, and I forget what else), and we're hoping to be picking fresh bell peppers for Christmas.

7. November 5, Bird Feeder -- notice how green the lawn still is and how much foliage is still left on the trees. By the way, the plants behind the feeders are swiss chard -- I think it's a perennial here, because Barry planted those last year. No need to pick and freeze because we'll be eating fresh chard in January apparently.

Today, I needed to redo the upright "T"s for the raspberry bed, and had mentioned to Barry that some of the birds here prefer a flat feeder. So I went out and built one. It's nothing too fancy, but maybe they'll like it. Not sure we should keep it on the table because of the westerly winds that could blow the whole thing over into Garrard County, so we'll see where it ends up.

8. November 6, Lazy Cat. Need I say more? When Barry is sitting in this chair, Ramses comes up to him and stares. "I want my chair" he's thinking. At about 10 p.m., he comes over to Barry's computer chair, stretches out, looks up, meows, and reminds Barry that it's bedtime. If Barry ignores him, he comes over to me and does the same thing. He's awake maybe 2 hours a day, 15 minutes for morning feeding, 15 minutes for evening feeding, and maybe 90 minutes the rest of the day for various extremely tiring pursuits such as rolling over on the floor, stretching, looking out the windows, or yawning. He spends most of the day on his back, and when he's not on his back, he sits there with his front paws crossed staring at us.

9. November 7, Raspberries. It was sunny and in the low 70s today, and we were able to work outside in t-shirts. Sorry Maine friends, but that's the way it is I guess.

Back in the summer, we put in some uprights to hold the raspberries upright but they weren't wide enough, and the had begun working their way out of the ground. So today was the day to install the new ones I made Wednesday. We got some SAKRETE, mixed it up, and set the posts in. We should be able to string the wire on Monday. Notice (1) the raspberries are still ripening; and (2) that Barry is working in a t-shirt, and today IS November 7 for goodness' sake!

We have a second raspberry bed too, this one made of raspberries we brought down from Maine. They, the Maine blueberries, strawberries, bridal wreath, hostas, campanula, rose and others LOVE it here as much as we do.

While he was retrieving the electric cord from our work Barry had me take this picture. Yes, it's an iris blooming -- the SECOND bloom this year. The carnations are still flowering, and some roses in the neighborhood still have flowers on them, though I think "Mother's Rose" has called it quits for this year, though she's still green. Roots down here grow all winter because even a severe freeze only goes down a couple of inches in the coldest of January or February days. In fact many people plant trees and shrubs in October and November!

When we came in, we both had to change into shorts -- the sun was beating in the south windows so strongly, it was nearly 80 inside. I wish we could bottle days like these and take them out in January, or send them up to our friends and family in Maine who don't like snow and cold and winter.

OK, enough writing; now to see if this will all upload to Blogger -- worked 90 minutes with the "new, improved" editor. Heck with it. Back to the old "imperfect pain in the butt but at least it still works" editor. If you're reading it, I succeeded.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 4 - October 10, CHICAGO, The Windy City!

Day 4 - October 10, CHICAGO, The Windy City!

CHICAGO!  Never thought I'd get here.  But I did.  Barry bought tickets on AMTRAK for my birthday, so at about 8 AM, we

boarded the train in Milwaukee at the airport for the 2 hour trip to Chicago.  I had been on the "Downeaster" from Portland to Boston with Maureen in June 2007, but other than that, had not been on a train since 1954.  Barry hadn't been on one since maybe 1956.  So just the fact that we were taking the train was a thrill.

We pulled into Union Station, right downtown, along the south branch of the Chicago River.  When we exited, our first goal was the Sears Tower (not called that any more, but it'll take years before Chicagoans get used to the new name, if ever.  It's the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

We waited in line to take the elevator up 1300 feet to the Skydeck, from which vantage point we could see Illinois, Indiana and part of Wisconsin.  The weather was chilly (about 42 degrees) and windy -- well it WAS Chicago, the "Windy City" and now we knew why it was called that.

The elevator went up nearly 100 floors in less than a minute, yet we barely felt we were moving.  Our ears popped, and when we got out of the elevator, the view was totally fantastic.  To the south, we could see to Gary, Indiana; to the north, we could nearly see all the way to Milwaukee.  But the highlight for me was looking DOWN on the very tall John Hancock Tower -- the black building in the center of the photo.

After we left the Sears Tower, we walked east then north toward the Hard Rock CafĂ© which was one of our goals.  On the way we passed
(1) "The El", the elevated railroad which goes in a rounded square around downtown -- hence downtown is nicknamed "The Loop";

(2) the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (no samples of money given out -- darn);

(3)  the Chicago Board of Trade (where commodity prices from pork bellies to oil are set, and whose actions have an effect on every single person in the country who buys anything at any time;

(4) an outdoor stabile (as opposed to mobile) by Alexander Calder called The Flamingo;

(5) another outdoor sculpture simply called The Picasso;

(6) the Chicago River looking toward Lake Michigan.

When we arrived at the Hard Rock, it was lunch time, but we were planning to have Chicago Deep Dish Pizza shortly, so we only had a local ale there.  Of course, we bought the Hard Rock T-shirts (got a closet full of those now but STILL don't have Indianapolis).

While there, we got a call from Barry's son.  Seems one of his friends was in Chicago, only a few blocks from us, so we went over to the ESPN restaurant, and enjoyed his company for awhile, before we walked to Lou Malnati's Pizza Shop for what was billed as the best Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.

It was very good, thick crust, deep dish, loads of topping, and quite a treat.

On the way back to Union Station, we flew through the Merchandise Mart (formerly Marshall-Fields Department Store), the largest store in the world in terms of floor space.  It's 25 stories tall, and has been a fixture in Chicago since the 1930s.

Walking back to the train station, we simply enjoyed the architecture, including this building which is built on a curve in the street, and so is built IN a curve.

Many people in Chicago, in addition to taking "The Loop" also take the Chicago Water Taxi -- probably quite unique in American cities.  Wish we had the time to try that, but that's for another, warmer, day.

We arrived back in Milwaukee shortly after sunset, having had a great day in the US's third largest city, and a relaxing train ride, with no parking or traffic hassles.  What a way to travel!