Friday, May 10, 2019

May 10th!!

Why the exclamation points on an otherwise unremarkable day?

May 10th is the latest date of measurable snowfall in Milwaukee.

Back in 1990, Mother Nature thumbed her nose at Summer, dumping two to three inches of snow on the lakefront, with a whopping half a foot falling on the western suburbs. Ever since then, it's been an ongoing assumption in these parts that it isn't safe to plant anything outdoors prior to May 10th, for fear Ma Nature's twisted undies.

In related news, I plan to pick up mulch after work today.

The cute "bowling ball" shrubs planted alongside the lilac bush in my front bed shriveled and died before the end of last summer. This was the second set to do so, while the lilac bush, planted the year before the first set of bushes, is thriving.

Even if it takes a while, I can take a hint. Rather than beating a dead shrub (or creating another one, as the case may be), I'm going to put in an hydrangea. It shouldn't get too big - four feet wide and tall, they say - and will add more continuous color to the front (they also said the lilac would only get five feet high - at the height of summer it towers over my 5'4").

I've ordered two: the smaller (1 gall) for the giant patio urn, the larger (2 gall) for the bed in front. The hope is that the larger, better established plant will, well, survive the apparent death valley in the front bed.

The next big question is what color to coax from the hydrangeas. The Great Facebook has spoken, and most think it should be pink, to contrast with the lilac (the lilac has dark purple blooms, rather than the more common lighter ones). My preference is the blue, as I'm afraid the bepinkening agent will leach far enough into the surrounding soil to have an impact on the lilac. This flower bed isn't huge.

This weekend is earmarked for prep work. Get the mulch and put it down on the half of the bed that has the lilac. Dig the hole for the hydrangea and scatter in some soil changer. Pull out the shepherds hook (maybe...since I have to water the patio hydrangea regularly, I may just remember to water anything I put on the hook). Move the urns to their new spot. All that patio prep stuff, too. The hydrangeas are due to be delivered Monday (I get them from Home Depot, but get them online - why yes, I'm lazy. I do go to the garden center half a mile from home to get mulch and annuals).

I just got an update email from FedEx: the bushes will be delivered today.

That is actually better, as if they came Monday, it would likely be next weekend before they got planted.

Rain is forecast for Sunday, but Saturday should be overcast with a temperature in the high fifties. Warmer, but overcast and eventually thunderstorms next week, including Saturday. So this is pretty much the perfect time to get these things in the ground. If nothing else, at least the planting will get done tomorrow.

After all, it will be May 11th tomorrow, and it (probably) won't snow again until at least November!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

America, the Land of the Free Stuff

 - and totally broke taxpayers.

Over the last several years, and intensifying as we approach the 2020 Presidential election, we have heard calls from the political left for all sorts of "free" programs. The programs range from "Medicare for All" to college debt forgiveness (and free college after that). But it's difficult for the average citizen to put the potential cost in perspective. From this article, we can glean a bit about the price tag on potential Democrat policies:

$1,700,000,000 - Universal child care. Cost over ten years.
$640,000,000,000 - Debt free college - initial outlay for debt forgiveness.
$1,250,000,000,000 - Debt free college - ongoing costs over 10 years.
$93,000,000,000,000 - Guaranteed income. Cost over ten years.
$100,000,000,000 - Reparations. One time cost.
$445,000,000,000 - Affordable housing. Cost over ten years.
$32,600,000,000,000 - Medicare for all.

$128,036,700,000,000 Total price tag.

My calculator errored out trying to add it all up, but the total cost is indeed $128 TRILLION dollars over ten years. To put that in perspective, the total national debt for the U.S. as of 4/4/19 is $32.6 trillion.

So - how will these programs be funded? The government has no source of income other than taxes.

Let that sink in a minute. Why yes, that would be taxes you and I pay. That is, if you are, like me, a member of the middle class, working and paying taxes. There is a significant segment of "taxpayers" who do not make enough to pay taxes, and who may in fact receive refundable credits. Yes, it is possible to get a tax refund even if you pay no taxes.

Ah, but several of these programs claim they will be funded by the "tippy-top" earners: a 70% tax on the rich. Never mind that the wealthy already fork over something like 90% of the total taxes collected any given year, let's just hit them up for more!

The problem is that the math doesn't work. Even if none of these wealthy people take steps to shelter any of their income, the total dollars collected by a 70% tax won't fund even one of the programs listed above.

This leaves a massive funding gap. Program sponsors then have three options: one, run up the national debt, making us beholden to foreign powers who may not have our best interests at heart, or two, drop that 70% tax rate on the rest of the taxpayers - primarily the middle class, or three, a combination of the two.

Will you really be happy with all the "free" stuff when you are handing over 70% of your income to a government that may not have your best interests at heart in order to fund the stuff? Are you certain you want the government to control your children, your education, your housing and your healthcare?

"Free" isn't free at all, it turns out.

What still is free, though, is our freedom to make our voices heard. Our freedom to have a choice in our future. Our freedom to call out the politicians - on either side of the aisle - who would so thoroughly bankrupt us and our children for the sake of a few votes.

It's time to stand up for true freedom.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Are the Good Times Really Over

Listening to some classic country this afternoon. Merle wrote and recorded this song the year after I graduated from college in 1981. Even then, it resonated with me, as the world I was facing as a newly minted college grad was already significantly different from my childhood in the '60s.

Haggard is optimistic in the final chorus, believing that things were going to get better, not worse. He passed away in early 2016 - late enough to realize that the good times were, indeed, over for good.

I wish a buck was still silver
It was back when the country was strong
Back before Elvis, before Vietnam war came along
Before the Beatles and yesterday
When a man could still work and still would
Is the best of the free life behind us now
And are the good times really over for good?

And are we rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell
With no kinda chance for the flag or the liberty bell?
Wish a Ford and a Chevy
Would still last ten years like they should
Is the best of the free life behind us now
And are the good times really over for good?

I wish coke was still cola
And a joint was a bad place to be
It was back before Nixon lied to us all on T.V.
Before microwave ovens when a girl could still cook, and still would
Is the best of the free life behind us now
Are the good times really over for good?

Stop rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell
Stand up for the flag and let's all ring the liberty bell
Let's make a Ford and a Chevy
That would still last ten years like they should
'Cause the best of the free life is still yet to come
And the good times ain't over for good

Friday, March 15, 2019


Need to empty my brain before the weekend.

Milwaukee was chosen as the site for the 2020 Democratic National Convention. I may do a post on this, but right now, my head just wants to explode. It makes perfect sense to have it here - Wisconsin is a battleground state, the city of Milwaukee has a long Democratic (and Socialist) history, and we have a brand-new arena and a major league ballpark with a roof to accommodate the crowds. What we may be short on is hotel rooms.

I am seriously considering taking a bit of vacation time, and renting out my upper floor. Bedroom, private bath, desk/wifi. I'd sleep on the couch...and provide breakfast, maid service and possibly some shuttle services to and from downtown. As much as I'd hate people in my home, the money that they are talking about for rentals is just...stupid money, which I could use.

Tomorrow is National Quilting Day. I need to put some borders on one quilt, and prepare the backing for two. Sunday I'm handing those two off to a woman to quilt them on her longarm quilting machine. I've finally convinced myself that life is too short for me to do everything from start to finish, and some projects that are meant to be gifts can be quilted by someone else.

Before I can fire up the machine, though, I'm meeting a friend at a local coffee shop to swap nibs on fountain pens we have in common. Have I mentioned in this space that I've gone back to using fountain pens? Hmm, need to do a post, with pictures, on that. The short story is that they write well and pretty much eliminate any hand/finger cramping in long writing sessions, as such a light touch is needed. The longer story is that there are many, many styles, colors, nib variations and choices out there. One of my favorite pens is actually made from hardened basaltic lava from Mt. Etna in Sicily.


It is supposed to be forty or a bit warmer today through the weekend. I need to do some outside clean up that didn't get done in the fall. The snow is gone from the front flower bed, so I can access the lilac bush for a good spring trim before it starts sprouting leaves. No snow is in the forecast for next week and next weekend they are talking about fifties - I may even get the grill out.

Nothing much exciting is going on, which is fine with me. Housecleaning (as always) needs to happen, some organizing needs doing before I can rearrange the studio. Just business as usual, to be honest.

Thursday, March 14, 2019


The more advanced my age becomes, the more I'm noticing an aversion to change. I freely admit I've never been much of a free-wheeling, go-where-the-wind-blows gal, but this tendency to dig into my trench with a pitchfork in hand, fending off all comers with a shouted "Get off my lawn!" is a bit over the top.

"Routine" is viewed by many as a dirty word. I'm starting to develop a certain fondness for it.

This last weekend's time change should have been a snap for me. As a charter member of the RER* Club, the fact that the clock reads an hour later than it had been when I wake up is a good thing. My usual inconvenient, fotry-five minutes before the alarm clock goes off wake up should be eliminated.

And so it was, for the first two days.

My body, however, has now descended into a confusion that benefits only the coffee industry.

I have no issues falling asleep at my usual time (while I never served in the military, I have developed the military ability of falling asleep on cue, any time, any place). Most nights I get up around one or so for a bathroom trip, then settle right back down into the twilight of dreams.

Not so the last couple of nights.

Last night, or rather this morning, I got up at 1:30, made my trip and hopped back in bed.

And laid there.

My mind wasn't racing, the room was neither too hot nor too cold.

I was just...awake.

That was it for the night. Naturally, this would be the only time this week I have an appointment after work, one I don't want to reschedule (monthly root touch up at the salon - routine, you know). I won't be home until around 6:30 or a bit later.

Stupid time change. Add my vote to the effort to get this country on one or the other time scheme permanently.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go slurp down the rest of my (first) large coffees. I may make a trip later to the campus Starbucks, or //shudder// drink a cup or two of the office coffee to stay functional.

*Ridiculously Early Riser. Yeah, my usual get up time (as opposed to wake up time) is 4 a.m.)

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

The hubris of climate change

I make no secret of the fact I'm a climate change skeptic. Oh, I believe the climate is changing, has been since the beginning of time, and will continue to change until that day this earth is wiped out of existence and replaced by the new earth.

What I do not believe is that mankind is the cause of this change, nor that mankind will be the savior of the planet.

Get over yourselves, people.

The true aim of the climate change brouhaha is for the elites and the politicians to gain control over the populace. They believe that scaring citizens into ceding control of what they drive, how they heat and light their homes, what type of container they use - and more - will accustom them to government control. Control that can then be gradually expanded into all areas of our lives.

Frog in the boiling water, folks.

This opinion piece popped up on Townhall today. Yes, it is an opinion piece, but the author cites some facts that go a long way towards pointing out the absurdity of the "mankind is ruining the planet!!! mankind must save the planet!!!" scaremongering.

He talks about volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods and meteor strikes, but one passage stuck out to me:

Geophysicists estimate that just three volcanic eruptions -- Indonesia (1883), Alaska (1912) and Iceland (1947) -- spewed more carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere than all of mankind's activities during our entire history.

Emphasis mine.

All of these eruptions had a profound impact on the climate - from which the climate recovered.  The Krakatoa explosion in A.D. 535 blotted out a lot of the light and heat of the sun for eighteen months - and yet the earth recovered. It's subsequent eruption in 1883 disrupted weather worldwide as well. (Side note: Krakatoa continues to be one of the world's most active volcanic sites, and Anak Krakatou, (child of Krakatoa) has been spouting minor eruptions regularly since 1927).

So take all the climate scare tactics with a grain of salt - look for the real motive behind the headlines.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday Funk

It's been a stupid week, and today (so far - it's only 7:23 a.m.) looks to be continuing the theme. I cannot wait to get home, take off my shoes and put my feet up.

But wait, I can't actually do that. At least not right away. I need to make another trip to the car dealership. Seems they had a computer update shortly before I went in to buy the car, and the update messed something up with the contracts (double charged a small fee). I have to go back to sign three pages. She insisted I did not need to make an appointment, but I'm willing to bet I'll have to wait when I get there. That's just the way this week has gone.

I've a grocery order to pick up on the way home. Groceries make me happy, except perhaps for bananas. I like bananas well enough to buy a few when they are on sale. But I only like them when they are green.  The online order form lets you specify degree of ripeness. Even with "green" checked and a note specifying that if they are not GREEN, not to bother, I sometimes end up with mostly-yellow 'naners. I don't make banana bread, so they will go to waste if not eaten immediately.

It's a texture thing; I can't stand mushy anything.

It's obvious I'm tired; the overuse of italics, caps and bold is a sure giveaway. For the past several nights I've slept fairly well, but had extremely vivid, odd dreams (which I don't remember on awakening, naturally). Those dreams only show up when I'm sick or stressed. Bah. No time for either.

The plan for the weekend is to ... not sure yet. The house needs a very thorough cleaning, several small house projects need done, food needs cooking and freezing for the week ahead and I just need a break.

So - what are you up to for the weekend?