Monday, June 28

thunder

We kicked off Thunder in the Valley by going to see Mini Kiss on Thursday night. They pretty much sucked, but I guess it's the novelty of the thing that's supposed to get you--Brian loved it. There were so many people packed into Central Park--I could not believe how many people were there.

Friday, we took the afternoon off of work. While we usually go downtown to walk around, this year we took a different approach and just rode our bikes around the area (including downtown). It's kind of neat seeing all of the bikers riding around.

We had to go to a 40th birthday party for one of our friends on Saturday afternoon so we took the bikes for that. We dropped Jake off at my grandmother's in Windber and then went to the party in Westmont. I was hoping to check out the activities in Windber, but we just didn't have time this year.

After the party the three of us went downtown to walk around. I don't know why, but I really enjoy walking around down there at night.

It seemed like they had a pretty good crowd this year. I'm not sure how they guesstimate how many people attended, but it seemed at least as big as last year, if not bigger.

That's two fun weekends in a row and a holiday weekend coming up for a third!

Thursday, June 24

pond=fixed

The pond has been running for a few days with no loss of water, so I'm proclaiming it fixed! In addition to fixing numerous leaks in the stream, I also had to rebuild the spillway for the waterfall. Somehow, the spillway rock got tilted backwards so the water was ending up in the ground. The pond liner under the waterfall should have collected the water and taken it back to the pond, but it, too, was tilted back. I guess we must have had some major ground movement back there.

The funny thing is that Jake pointed out the fact that the water was going backwards there. I should have listened to him earlier in the process, but the other problems needed fixed, too, so I guess it doesn't really matter.

Of course, since fixing the pond took so long, the weeds have once again taken over the yard. So much for being caught up.

Wednesday, June 23

the weekend and beyond

Jake went to the beach last week, which coincided with tattoo appointments Brian made for the two of us. The appointments were in Virginia, so we turned the trip into a motorcycle getaway. We left town on Thursday and headed for Berkeley Springs, WV. The ride was nice--my new bike is so much fun to ride. Friday, Brian had his appointment, so we headed for Winchester, VA in the morning. We had to stop for gas on the way and hooked up with another 5 bikers for much of the rest of the trip. We made quite the spectacle going down the highway--people were waving and such.

My appointment was on Saturday. We had some time to kill beforehand, so we went to the local Harley Davidson dealership to pick up something for Jake. After that, we rode on Route 50 for a bit before heading back to town. The ride home was uneventful, but we had to take a few breaks because my bike is not built for long-distance riding and my butt was sore!

On Sunday, we went to my parents' for a Father's Day cookout and to pick up Jake. The weather was beautiful and we had a nice dinner on the deck. Jake is attending Kids' College at Saint Francis University this week so he's staying at my parent's for a few days again. I can hardly wait to get him back tomorrow.

Thunder also starts tomorrow, so it looks like it's going to be another motorcycle weekend!

Saturday, June 19

horseradish

While this plant might look like a gigantic weed, it's actually horseradish. The Cambria County plant sale was offering horseradish this year and I thought it might be fun to try.

It's not like we eat a ton of horseradish, but we do go through a few jars a year. I've read some interesting things about the processing of the horseradish roots, so that should be a fun adventure this fall.

Horseradish is very invasive, so that is why it is in a pot and not in the vegetable or herb garden. Basically, I don't do anything to it but water it once in a while (and I haven't had to do much of that with all the rain we have been getting. Too bad all of my plants don't grow like this.

herbs

Here's a partial shot of my herb garden. The monstrosity that is taking it over is lemon balm. I've got to cut that plant back or something. Each block in the herb garden is one square foot, so obviously this was a bad plant for me to pick. Of course, I had no idea it was going to get this big. I don't even use it for anything. I guess it's time to find a use.

This whole area is in need of a weeding, as is much of the rest of the yard.

Friday, June 18

jake's birthday part 2

Jake wanted to have a pool party for his birthday this year, but since  
his birthday is in May, we had to put it off for a month. The party  
was held last Saturday at my in-laws.

He invited 5 of his best friends, but unfortunately only 2 showed up  
(as for the others, thanks for the RSVP--you know who you are). Even  
so, the kids had a great time and we're planning an even bigger and  
better party for next year.

Wednesday, June 16

blueberry

This cluster of blueberries looks pretty good. I'm going to try to eat the almost ripe one before the birds do. While the blueberry bushes look better this year than ever, they are still pretty small, so I'm not too worried if the birds get the berries again this year since there aren't enough of them to do anything with.

And, from the looks of things, I need to weed the blueberry area.

the garden

I'm pretty pleased with the way the garden is progressing this year. I finally finished mulching it this past week. I had a few plants die on me and they have been replaced. I had my first major "harvest" this week, too--garlic scapes. I made a garlic scape frittata for brunch last Sunday. It was quite good. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the rest of them, but I need to figure something out.

I think the peas will be next. I noticed a bunch of small pods out there today and there are plenty of flowers. I have a feeling we're going to be eating a lot of peas soon.

Sunday, June 13

blockade billy/morality

I received this mini-book in the mail a few weeks ago, thanks to the Stephen King Library. I've been a member of the SKL for so long I can't even remember when I joined. It's always nice to be surprised with a new Stephen King book, even if it's just a short story or two.

The first story in this book, "Blockade Billy" was told in a narrative style, which was kind of interesting, but there was a lot of baseball stuff thrown in and I don't give a squat about baseball. The story was about a baseball player with a hidden past.

The second story, "Morality" reminded me of the movie "Indecent Proposal". It posed the same kind of moral questions. I liked this story much better than the first.

Tuesday, June 8

seriously

We had a roof project scheduled for last weekend (putting a new roof on the office back porch). As if that wasn't enough, I was in the office basement last week and I heard something dripping. After a little investigation, I found that the leak was coming from the bathroom toilet--there's a crack in the cast iron pipe.

Since this is a bigger plumbing project than we'd like to take on, Brian called our usual plumber. But, he wasn't interested in the job because he does mostly heating and cooling nowadays. He wouldn't refer us to another plumber either, so Brian checked with our Moxham neighbor who does handyman work. He's probably going to take on the job, but is busy for the next few weeks.

I did a little research on cast iron pipes and found that a temporary repair can be made with fiberglass tape. So, while we were at Lowe's buying roofing supplies last week, I found some of said tape. Yesterday, while Brian continued to work on the roof, I decided to tackle the pipe. The pipe is near the ceiling and I noticed that the ceiling was all spongy. After ripping a few chunks of the ceiling out, I found that the toilet was also leaking at the flange. Great.

When we installed the toilet, we used one of those wax rings. We had an issue with one of them at our house, too, and ended up buying a waxless gasket. I bought the same thing for this toilet and we installed it this evening. The deluge of water seems to have stopped (at least from the flange area). The pipe might be leaking a little bit, but I won't know for sure until things dry out tomorrow, but I can live with that as it will all be replaced soon enough.

As for the roof, it's still in progress. Over half of it is shingled at this point. Unfortunately, we're going to get almost 2 inches of rain tomorrow. Fortunately, it's just a porch roof, so I think it will be ok. The roof is tarpapered, so that should keep things dry. If not, I won't stand on the porch tomorrow.

Saturday, June 5

40

Today was my birthday. I'm not one for pomp and circumstance, so the day was low-key. In fact, Brian spent the day tearing off the back porch roof at the office. After remodeling the office, I decided that I'm too old for this bullshit, but I do plan on helping him a bit tomorrow. Instead, I did my usual laundry today, but I gave myself the day off from all of my other chores.

Jake was nice and made me a delicious brunch of soft-boiled eggs, rye toast, and a glass of orange juice. He also made his dad a PB&J wrap, which we delivered in the afternoon. Jake made me a #1 Mom trophy and a paperclip necklace, as well. I also received some awesome gardening tools from the guys (even though they already bought me a new table and chairs for the back yard).

We did celebrate this evening, however. We went to Amici's in Ebensburg and had a nice dinner. This evening, I've pretty much been vegetating on the couch. I guess it won't kill me to sit around and do nothing for one day this year.

tomatoes

As promised, some pictures of the tomatoes. The ones on the right used the tomato teepees and the ones on the left did not. As you can see the ones that used the teepees are almost twice as tall. I do have some flowers on both sets of plants, so we'll see how they fare in the long run. To be continued...

Friday, June 4

more pics

This is a picture of the "other side" of the house. There's no yard here, as the driveway, which we share with the neighbor, takes up this side of the property. The greenery shown here is a myrtle patch (complete with a photobomb). In retrospect, I kind of wish I would have put my herb garden here as the side door leads to my kitchen and I often find myself having to go to the herb garden while cooking dinner. I found out this year that if I let the weeds go long enough in the myrtle patch, they are actually easier to deal with. Go figure.

Here is a picture of my vegetable garden. This reminds me that I forgot to take pictures of my tomato plants (the ones with the "wall-o-waters" versus the ones without). By the way, the WOW tomatoes are doing spectacularly. It also reminds me that I haven't filled in the dirt between the rocks in my garden path. It was washed out by the storm a few weeks ago.

This is a picture of my herb garden (the one I wish was off of the kitchen entrance). This area is in flux at the moment. We mulched it for the first time this year (without removing the grass from the area). The grass (and weeds) quickly started sprouting through the mulch, so I laid down some cherry sawdust (from Brian's shop). This has helped quite a bit, but I only had enough sawdust for half the area, so that's why it looks like it does. It's hard to see, but in the lower left corner, my orchard can be found--1 each of cherry, peach, and apple trees. Running along the left side (against the hedges) are the raspberry bushes. and along the back side (the fence) are the blueberry bushes).

still leaking

The pond is driving me insane. I thought I found the leak. When we set up the stream, we used two overlapping pieces of pond liner (a big no-no). I knew this wasn't a good idea, but it worked for a couple of years, so I figured it was ok. While trying to find the leak, I did find a potential leak in this area, so I shorted the stream by a foot or so and removed the extra liner. I thought this did the trick, but it did not. So, I'm still looking. I've had to turn off the pump for the most part, because the pond is too low on water and I don't want any more leaking out. I ordered an airstone and mini-pump that I'm going to start running as soon as it gets here. I'm not going to mess around with this any more until the water level comes back up.