Saturday, June 30, 2012

It's so hot! And dry. Very different from recent summers. Dropped in at Becker's to take advantage of the sale on annuals; got some shopworn pale yellow marigolds for the triangle in front of the house (because only one zinnia seed out of two plantings of three packages sprouted) and promptly got them in the ground the second we got home. Also got two impatiens and some catnip. The catnip is shopworn too -- but I couldn't find any earlier in the season. (TB/TC loves it.) The impatiens are still beautiful, will plant them tomorrow.

Had soft ice cream for only the second time this season. If eggplant is the Giuliano family vegetable, then soft ice cream is our official dessert.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I mulched the main vegetable garden -- and discovered that while it is not as humid as last week, it is just as hot. Those conditions meant the soil was dry, so with watering it turned into being more daily yard work than I anticipated.
The other problem was finding enough newspapers. I've written before that I stopped subscribing to delivery over a year ago. I'd received two morning newspapers for years, and at least one for my entire life. I expected to miss it and was sure I'd pick up a copy at Stewarts' occasionally, but as it turns out I didn't miss it at all after about a week.

Newspapers are hard to beat for mulching, so I intended to grab a few Metrolands and save them, but of course I didn't (loser). Every Thursday a packet of advertisements come in the mail, and I have been saving those since about April (somewhat redeeming myself). I pulled out the non-shiny circulars but I could see the stack was not going to be enough, even with skimping. It wouldn't have been enough in past years either, but it is worse this year because the seed germination rate was not that high (from two plantings!) so there is more bare ground than usual.

I lugged the bale of straw over to the garden, wondering if that will be the closest I get to haying this year. I only need a few flakes, probably about half a bale, so that's not a problem. But where to get enough newspaper? The Internet may be better than dead trees for some things, but mulching is not one of them!

I went in and somehow managed to locate an old, and complete, Times Union that must have been hanging out in the parallel universe. I didn't bother to look it over to see why I'd saved it but it couldn't have been a birth, death or wedding announcement, because I would have clipped those out rather than saving the entire issue. But if it was just a newspaper that had been overlooked for recycling, the sports section would have definitely been gone because I always used that section first as a pee pad for Sophie. So it must have been for historic event reasons -- the election of Obama? The resignation of Spitzer? I know it wasn't 9/11 because it wasn't that old-looking. Why would I save newspapers? I suppose because I love history and take such interest when I run across something about the Titanic or WWII.

I was in the zone -- meaning I was suited up with my smock, hat, gloves, sunglasses -- itching to dive in and start sweating. I paused for just a second when I found the newspaper, undecided about whether to get going and use it. Archivist or Gardener?

Here's the hint for which I chose.
I call this planter "Have Basil Will Travel" because it goes back and forth with me from Castleton to Samsonville.
The hanging baskets are splendid this year.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2.5 hours of yard work and I am caught up from not deadheading flowers, hacking down knotweed or watering over the weekend. No rain means more watering but less lawn mowing! I'm hoping to get to mulching the garden before week's end. Class is going fine so far.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What a weekend (which for me, just ended). My class started yesterday, but I had it ready last week so I didn't have to work on it.  The Castleton yard was in good shape too, so no effort needed there either. We went to Samsonville Friday night and attended "Deanstock," a large party all weekend at my nephew's (who lives in the house where I grew up). My childhood and lifelong friend -- met her on the first day of kindergarten 46 years ago --  took Amtrak from Western New York. She went to the party too and then came back to Castleton with us Sunday night (which was her birthday). We went out last night in Albany. She left this morning. I may need to sleep for a week...

Saturday night

Friday, June 22, 2012

I spent several hours watering and working on the plants. It was an iota less hot and humid, but it was still oppressive. About half-way through, I finished watering outside the fenced area of the yard and came 'round the bend to relocate the hose to the other side of the house. I was streaked with mud, hair wild (as much as it can be, since it is super short),  drenched with sweat -- running down my face into my eyes. I'm wearing mismatched clothes, a worn out UAlbany tee-shirt, and no bra. So in other words -- quite a sight! A woman is walking by, spots me and calls out from the sidewalk: "your garden is lovely!" That made my day. Suddenly that it was so freaking hot and that the job was only half done didn't seem so bad.

Everything is doing really well. It IS lovely. Here's a sample:

They are so fleeting -- and much anticipated, just like strawberry season.
Below, fresh herbs daily!
 This came up from seed on its own in the yard! I have been lovingly nurturing it.
 This is not long for this world! Friday is usually weed whacking day, and it would be gone already, but with no rain, the grass has not grown. Still, knotweed sprout, don't get too comfortable.
This vinca came up on its own too. I always have it in pots with petunias and other annuals (I have it in two hanging baskets this year) and it has been coming up for the past couple years either because it seeds or some roots didn't make it into the compost bin when I cleaned up in the fall. At this point there is a nice vine. Bob favored ripping it out -- he was worried it would damage the foundation. But I inspected it and discovered that it doesn't grip the cement. So I won...
Can hardly wait for the tomatoes.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I had a really good day yesterday -- and that includes finding out that I need root canal re-treatment. The reason that is good, despite the expense and unpleasant procedure, is because I was sure I would have to lose the tooth. So now there is an 80 percent chance that I won't.

Hotter than blazes. No yard work for me on days like this, aside from maybe giving an especially needy plant a pitcher of water. Luckily, because it is so humid -- that isn't necessary except in one or two instances. The second and third plantings of cucumber and zucchini sprouted and are loving the weather. Yay! Of course, haying is taking place in Samsonville today -- it is always 90 degrees plus when they are doing that! Our pool isn't clear yet, but it also isn't green. We did an awesome job getting the leaves off the cover a few weeks ago, so the water didn't have far to go to be blue. I've no doubt there will be swimming after haying today.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

See below -- the things one can find on craigslist! I am almost tempted to respond to this, just because I could then find out the information about the institution...then I could contact the "nice guy" and report the academic dishonesty. Oh yeah, I'm sure "open book" = paying someone to take the exams., not a problem at all! LOL. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

I've written before that Rosie has to be crated when the dogs (or we) eat. In Samsonville, Sam has always needed to be crated when he eats when we are away, and someone else is feeding the animals, because he would take Sophie's food if we were not around to guard it for her. But he hasn't needed to be crated since he was a puppy otherwise. So we generally have a crate set up in Samsonville for him during his meals when he are traveling (he is never fed by anyone but us in Castleton).

Now that Rosie has to be crated for all meals in both houses, I planned to have her use the crate (above) in Samsonville. The one in Castleton is set up now as well, but since Sam hasn't used that one in years, he has no interest in going in it -- it's Rosie's. The Samsonville crate is a different story -- that's his. So it turns out he's decided that he's the one who goes in the crate to eat when we are there. It is just as well since Rosie does not like the Samsonville crate. (She doesn't mind the Castleton crate, which is wire and seems less isolated, I guess.) Here he is waiting for his dinner on Saturday. He's not zipped in, btw -- he is choosing to wait inside.

Later: Some of my cucumber seeds are up! Finally! Yay.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Today it was yard work, course prep and then a church picnic (first time attending; it was very nice -- a banjo and washtub bass was played during the music that followed the blessing -- a treat!). If I am not more fit at the end of the summer I will be mad! Tomorrow it's off to Samsonville, but first I will take and post a picture of my beautiful roses in Castleton! They are incredible this year.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

When I didn't hear from Verizon after emailing the CEO, I forwarded the message to three members of the top management team -- and today I received an email and then a phone call. I'll be getting a credit for the webspace going back to February 2011, and she apologized for the lack of follow-up by the tech agents, and also the behavior of the one during the chat. So I'm happy about this outcome, and I like my new website a lot more than the old one anyway.

Later: finished another knotweed assault. My current plan is to dose it with lime and then water it. It should be covered so that it can't get light but I doubt that I can manage that. But the lime will make conditions unfavorable, I think. Tomorrow's yard work agenda includes weed whacking, fertilizing the tomatoes (with manure, in case you're wondering -- no round up or miracle gro in my yard), and replanting the cucumbers and zucchini, if the original bed doesn't sprout by then. Otherwise it is getting my class ready. And watering!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I planted zucchini and cucumbers in my new re-claimed bed. Fingers crossed that they thrive!

 A slightly better picture; at least in this one you can tell the one on the right is a cat!

And, my Verizon saga continues: Bob switched us from a landline in Castleton to Home Phone Connect in February 2011. They convert your landline to a cell phone -- but unlike a regular cell, you use your landline equipment. They give you a box that connects the regular phone to go over the cell line. You can't tell the difference -- seems just like your landline. Works great, and it is $20 per month with unlimited long distance. There was a charge of $100 or $150 for the box, but he signed us up during a promotion and the fee was waived.

That switch made us have to get a separate number for our DSL, which we did. But the bill was ridiculous -- we were being charged for a landline plus DSL, made switching to home phone connect a waste, just an extra expense even though the sales rep said it would be much cheaper. In trying to figure out this problem, I discovered the new landline phone never worked -- the DSL is fine but the phone part isn't. They sent a tech out to fix it and he couldn't figure it out, said it is on Verizon's end. After many phone calls, hours on hold, and shouting fights with tech support, they decided they couldn't fix it, and finally credited me from February 2011 to August 2011 and are only charging me for the DSL part. Problem solved and I was happy. 

 Bob loved home phone connect so much he also switched us in Samsonville. They promised it would work even though the cell tower is too far,. Well, it doesn't work, and after many phone calls, hours on hold, and shouting fights with tech support, they gave me a femocell (very cool technololgy, it creates a mini-cell tower in the house), didn't charge me $250 for the equipment if I was willing to extend my cell phone contract and get a new phone, which I agreed. It now works great and our cell phones work in Samsonville too. Problem solved again to my satisfaction.

Latest opera: Since April 2009, I have had 500 MB of personal webspace from Verizon for $9.95 per month added to my DSL account. In 2010, I was not able to update it, and technical support advised me that I needed to use Internet Explorer to edit with Site Builder, rather than my preferred browser (Firefox). That worked for a while, and then that too stopped working.  At the time (2011) I had an old computer and I did not invest any more time in trying to fix the problem. In January 2012, I got a new PC. In March 2012, I decided to see if Site Builder would work and I tried to make revisions again. I still was not able to edit the site using Internet Explorer, Firefox or Google Chrome. I have not been able to update it since February 9, 2011. On March 30, 2012, I contacted Verizon for technical support about the issue. I used the chat feature.

The support person viewed my screen and tried many tweaks, including deleting my internet history, turning off my virus protection, etc. During the course of that chat, when nothing the agent did worked, I was given a telephone number to call for Site Builder support. The person who answered the telephone told me that the company has not supported Verizon Site Builder in four years!!

The support agent tried to get me to end the chat numerous times by insisting I would get a call back and telling me that if I did not end it, they could not help me. When I took screen shots of the chat, the agent, who was viewing my screen, attempted to prevent me from saving the JPEG files by overriding my keystrokes! The chat session ended without resolving anything. However I did receive three follow up emails that were generic and totally unhelpful. I then spoke to technical support on the telephone, and was finally told it was a high level problem on Verizon’s end and I would receive a call back with the solution. But that call never came.

One April 7, I emailed technical support with my concerns. I was assigned a tracking number but never received a response to my message.  Finally, I decided to cut my losses. I created a new website with Google. When I finished (June 6), I tried to cancel my personal website from Verizon. My bill was paid through June 12, so I wanted to be sure I canceled by that date. I was not able to cancel the service (the radio button for the free 10MB of space is not able to be selected -- no way to cancel the 500 MB). I called Verizon twice and never got a person. I was on hold for 90 minutes, hung up, tried again, was on hold 30 minutes before I hung up for good.

I called again in June 7. This time I did get through after a long time. The billing department said it was a technical problem and transferred me. The support person could not figure out how to cancel my webspace and said I would get a call back. When I insisted that I receive a tracking number, after being on hold numerous times, I was transferred to a guy who seemed more competent and he told me that I would receive a call back with the solution by June 13, and he gave me the trouble ticket #.

It is now June 13, no call back and the problem still exists, so I called Verizon again. First, the agent tried to pitch me FIOS (which I would love to have but I know is not available in my area, and this is not good timing for a sales pitch). Then, he said there is no new information; that’s why no call back. His next claim, when I pressed him, was that the  issue has been resolved and it will take a few days for the system to update. Then, they will call me back by June 30. When I protested that I wanted to speak with a supervisor, I was put on hold – then told that the ticket closed today, and I will be called back, is there anything else I can help you with?

I threatened them with the Attorney General and Public Service Commission, but what I actually did was write to the CEO, Lowell McAdam. I googled, found his name and email address. I sent a note with attachments earlier today. I told him I want that webspace canceled and I want a credit going back to February 2011. We'll see! It is so aggravating though. Is no one at all competent? Forget being able to fix the problem (which they should), how can canceling an account be this hard?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Today I continued my quest to re-take the yard from invasives -- this time it was Virginia Creeper that was growing on our fence. There is usually a little poison ivy that grows in one spot but I didn't encounter any. It wasn't a great day for yard work, though, so after cutting down the vine I worked on my class. I also worked on the genealogy and immigrant roots virtual museum pages of my Gully Brook Press website. Which reminds me, tomorrow I am going to follow up with Verizon. Have to prepare myself to go berserk on the phone!

Monday, June 11, 2012

 Finally planted the window boxes! It was a very worthwhile project -- can't believe it has been more than three years, since the street was re-done, the door was restored, and Bob's surgeries, since we were able to plant them.

Too bad it isn't a great picture (aside from the subject matter, of course), but it is rare to be able to get one of all three of them together.

We had a good weekend in Samsonville -- the first of three in a row. Goal is to get the pool in shape and it will take at least that long to make a dent in the green. But we got our gas grill, the twin of the one we got for Castleton. Then beans and zucchini are up there. And it is ground zero for ticks -- ugh. I don't know how I am going to handle it. Sam got a dog tick on Saturday, and I found a deer tick on the couch Saturday night.

I've been having tooth issues again -- my original crown. Or so I thought. And I had made peace that I am probably going to wind up losing another molar. But my dentist isn't sure whether the problem is coming from my crown or from the tooth in front of it (which is strange since there is no pain and the nearby tooth has no crown and has not had a root canal; I expect it is the crowned tooth), so rather than referring me to an oral surgeon for an extraction, he referred me to an endodontist. My consult is June 20. So maybe something can be done and it won't have to be pulled? I am not optimistic, but there is a glimmer of hope. I don't know which of the minor annoyances of aging sucks more -- teeth problems or needing to wear glasses.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Here's an interesting article that calls into question whether one of the Titanic survivors featured in a Times Union article was not the survivor (who had the same name).  This is a good example of something one often encounters when doing genealogy research. Now that I have a website that can be edited, I am going to finish the virtual museums that have been under construction since my old AOL site went dead (thinking specifically of the Genealogy and Immigrant Roots pages.)

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Painted the window boxes -- they came out like new! (I''ll take a photo once they are installed and planted.) Also did a little resin table that is very faded. And I spent about 2 hours on the phone with Verizon. That's after I couldn't get through at all last night. Get this, they can't figure out how to cancel the extra service. Wound up  with me devolving into nutjob, as usual. Yelled that I will contact the Attorney General's office and that I have complete documentation saved. No resolution yet (have been promised a solution by 6/12, but I am not holding my breath). The last tech said to not pay for it any more, and that they will give me a refund for the past 15 months. But, my new website is up and running. I needs a lot of work, but it is already better than my old site. Once I have my class ready to go live, I will spend more time on it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Took advantage of the sunshine, ran outside and finally got all my vegetable seeds planted! I planted more zinnias too Also pulled bamboo grass (knotweed). A losing battle, but at least it tamps it down. I am worn out -- not from the planting, from the bamboo. Tomorrow's project will be painting the window boxes. Weed whacking on Friday? I have to wait until Saturday morning to plant the window boxes, because Bob needs to be here to install them on the shelves. (I don't do power tools.) But maybe on Thursday or Friday I will  plant some vegetable seeds in the reclaimed bamboo area and fence it.

I've been working on moving my website from Verizon to Google. It's free, for one thing, and site builder on the Verizon site hasn't worked for me in 14 months so I can't make revisions. I've wasted all kinds of time with tech support. They know absolutely nothing. The story is an opera, don't feel like writing the details now. Once I finish, I plan to demand half the money I spent as a credit to my account. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

This overcast, cold weather is driving me crazy! I want to be outside, working in the garden. I still could, because it hasn't been raining steadily (or even that much), but it is too risky to plant seeds when it is cold and wet. I don't want them to rot. So I am carefully watching the forecast, and planning to run outside the moment things are favorable -- it looks like it is going to gradually warm up starting tomorrow. So the seeds go in either tomorrow or Thursday. I also want to rip out the knotweed that, of course has already started to pop up. I want to plan zucchini it its territory -- just to give me the incentive to keep pulling it out. I have to plant the window boxes, which I already would have done since I have the wave petunias, but I need to spray paint the outside of the boxes. They are very shabby looking after a few years of no use. And there is the never-ending weed whacking. (A neighbor's lawn mower is droning on as I type this.)

Instead I started to get ready for summer session. My class goes live on June 11 and begins on June 25. I also spent considerable time on the Samsonville network problem...again. A while ago I mentioned that I had a poem inspiration (which I thought might not keep, and didn't) and that I wanted to detail the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of trying to find a solution for the computers being routinely fried by lightening. My latest efforts have resulted in the purchase of two serious surge protectors from L-Com. I've been unable to easily locate a grounding kit, so today I did some reading on how to ground Superior Essex N 2006 6 x 22 BR BFW cable. I made progress, but it's very confusing and I am not certain I can accomplish it. So I turned to researching (again) extending the range of the wireless signal (on the theory that technology improves a lot in a year). Now my brain is tired!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The weekend wasn't a total rain-out. It was quite nice yesterday late afternoon until early afternoon today. I did get to the nursery for the deer fence and window box plants, and today I recruited Bob to help me put up the fence. It started raining during the job, but we soldiered on and finished. Yesterday we got a new gas grill - it must be five years since we had one in Castleton - and so we could barbecue last night! Visions of grilled zucchini dance in my head. I spent the afternoon reading the consultant report about merging the Schodack and Ichabod Crane Central School Districts. It badly needs an executive summary, because the salient information could be presented in two pages. I slogged through all 72 pages, and went to the district's website to read supplementary information, but who will bother? FWIW, the partners hail from Western New York. The "study" is a strange blend of neutrality and advocacy. The assertion is that it doesn't take a POV, but in some places it definitely does, while in others the tone is distant, lacking even low-level analysis. More on the report another time, I think!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Gorgeous day -- perfect for yard work. I raked the garden, spread the manure, put up the fence poles. Just as I was about to plant the seeds, it occurred to me that rain is predicted starting tonight and for several days, with temperatures in the 60s. I don't want to seeds to rot, so I decided to wait on planting until next week, when hopefully it will be warmer and it won't be so rainy. The only seeds I planted were zinnias, near the sidewalk. I also put the extra time to good use and weed whacked. It is overcast now, and I think our beautiful weather is over. I hope to get to the nursery this weekend, since I need deer netting (more to protect against rabbits) and window box plants.