Friday, September 30, 2016

Computers and sourdough

I've lived enough years that I'm able to clearly see trends in my life. One thing I have noticed for many a long year is that when things are going too smoothly, watch out! Because something is going to come along to put in kink in the smooth ride. I'd actually not thought about that during the recent smooth ride.

Then yesterday, my computer up and died. Supposedly a display driver issue, but all in all it wasn't something I felt able to handle on my own so I called a tech place and someone came here at 3pm. Poor guy spent an hour and a half working at it, but nothing he did helped. Windows was confused and stubborn, which didn't help. It crashes because 'a problem has been detected and the computer shut down to prevent damage' and specifically refers to a display driver issue. And the screen is all messed up.  But when you get into the display driver to upgrade, it says no upgrade is needed, that I'm running the latest version (not true!), and that there are no problems. He managed to download the newest version but good old Windows wouldn't let him install it because it said again that I was running the latest version. And on and on. To make a long story short, it was going to take a good bit of time for someone (not him, seemingly) to dig inside and see if the card might be bad, or what was going on. And other issues. Even he agreed that buying a new computer would be a better use of money than putting it into tech repair time. And possibly expensive components. So he left, and being a good guy who bases his charges on performance, he didn't charge me a penny because he didn't solve the problem.

So anyway. By this morning I did some digging and ended up with a Dell that looks to work just fine for my minimal needs, at a reasonable price. I let it sit on the screen for a few hours, thinking about it, before finally pulling the trigger. It's a desktop, which is all I need now. Should arrive next week sometime. But I really didn't want to spend money on a computer right now.

In the meantime, I'm using this 14-year-old Dell laptop that I keep as a backup. It's slow, and runs XP, but I'm glad to have it. And it keeps on working.....

I've been itching to make something yummy with my sourdough starter, so last night I mixed up some dough for a focaccia and let it ferment overnight. By 4am I was awake, as usual, decided to get up and check it out, see if it was ready to bake or could last awhile longer. Decided it was ready to go and I didn't want to over-ferment and have it flop. Had to run out to my garden spot at 4:30am to pick some rosemary for the topping. Got it baked and it is so good! Have given about half of it to a friend, have eaten a good bit of it myself. It's addictive. Rosemary, garlic, olive oil and salt. What's not to like?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

New toy

I have a new toy that I absolutely love! Bluetooth headphones for my TV, that allow me to actually hear what's being said without turning the TV up so loud that it would disturb neighbors. Not to mention that it's stereo and has so much better sound than the speakers on the TV.  They also blot out lots of the outside traffic noise in the process.

It also allows me to go into other rooms, use the kitchen, and even sit here at the computer while listening to what's happening on TV. Useful mostly for news programs, of course, but also for other programs that don't require video in order to follow what's happening.

I ordered this 15 days ago and it took Amazon that long to deliver the last component needed to make this possible. It finally arrived yesterday. My TV isn't equipped with Bluetooth so I not only needed the headphones, I needed a transmitter plus a $3 connector to adapt the two-prong stereo audio output on the TV to a single prong so it would connect to the transmitter. That little $3 connector is the thing that took over 2 weeks to arrive. Ridiculous! But, after hooking it up, it took seconds for the transmitter and phones to connect and I used it all evening and am using it now in the early morning. I'm going to have to take it off and recharge both the headphones and transmitter before using them again this evening. Don't really need them during the day.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Great Blue Heron, with real camera

This is what somebody with a real camera can do with the herons around here! Yes, I definitely have camera envy. This guy was captured along the river a couple of days ago by our local newspaper photographer Brian Davies, who is in my mind as splendid a photog as I've ever encountered. I follow him on twitter just to see thing like this that he tweets. Awesome!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Early morning walk, ponds, birds and river

I have a new favorite walk around here, as of yesterday. I've walked it once before, but yesterday I realized how much more scenic it is than the other 'around the block' walk, even though it has more frontage on the main drag out front.

The difference is that it takes me past several of the Delta Ponds with all their bird life. I was walking along the main drag this morning en route to the first pond and path leading to the river when this big boy flew up squawking from the pond across the street and landed in a nearby tree.

The sun was just starting to crest the big trees along the eastern horizon, so the lighting was interesting -- some large shadowed areas and some bright sunlit areas. And lots of herons this morning! I never get tired of them though there are many around here and they are a common sight.

As I rounded the corner of the above shot and got a different viewpoint of that pond, the heron flew away and joined another at some distance. Sure wish I had a better camera, but it is what it is and it's better than nothing.

I love the way the ponds look in the morning or evening light. Dramatic and beautiful.

A different pond where the sun has not yet reached. A couple of egrets fishing there. Wish I'd gotten more of the reflection, but these are long zoom shots and I'm lucky to hold the camera still enough to get anything at that distance. It's pretty, anyway.

Serene and pretty out there this morning, looking west across the ponds to where the sun is hitting the trees.  There's an egret off the right above a horizontal branch, barely noticeable.

Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly, considering the people of Eugene) there was a lot of foot and even bike traffic out there this morning at 7:30!

Yet another pond, further down the path.  This fellow was being an excellent subject, standing still as I clicked away. Still zoom, still hand-held, still not crisp, but it's the best I can do with what I have to work with. And most importantly, it's fun for me to do.

Lots of noisy, smaller birds flying around making loud noises. One landed near me briefly, long enough to see that it was a kingfisher. Another was white and seemed to be screeching 'kildeer'.

Early morning light makes such interesting patterns and colors. As you may or may not know, I never manipulate or enhance colors or other effects of my photos. At the most, I crop to get a better composition. This color is what I saw, as the still waters along the river turned into ripples. Pretty awesome, and even better when you can watch the water move in its undulating way.

So that was my morning walk. So grateful to have all this in my backyard, literally.

After almost a month I've finally found something I really don't like about this place. And that is the touchy and loud smoke detectors. The place has industrial models that flash and screech enough to wake the dead in any direction. I sometimes here them from other apartments, so I know I'm not the only one with the issue. This morning I was baking a biscuit, and it went off 4-5 times during the 15 minutes that took. And there was no smoke! I opened the window and even cracked the door to the hallway. Does not bode well for baking!

Happy day, everyone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Finally! A veggie garden

So we have progress in the garden! The last two bags of soil brought the level up enough for now, though once it settles I'll need to add a top dressing for spring planting.

For now, we've gone from a hole in the ground to a veggie bed. In the foreground with red leaves, beets. Would have bought more, but since they were larger plants, they were pricier. Then we have romaine lettuce, swiss chard, and spinach. Not a lot, but the pickin's were slim. Lots of good greens in my future. Just took this photo this morning, and while most of the plants have perked up nicely overnight, a few are still wimpy. Hopefully, they'll all perk up soon. The netting is to keep the squirrels out, since they'd happily dig these seedlings up to hide their acorns.

This gorgeous dahlia is still on it's stem. So beautiful! For perspective, check the next photo. The flower is the width of my spread hand, about 6 inches!

So for now, the heavy work in the garden is done. There will still be coddling of these baby plants, certainly. But no more digging or moving heavy bags of soil/compost around. The weather the next few days is cool, which will be perfect for them.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sore shoulders, fun times

Never underestimate little old gray-haired ladies.

Between yesterday and today, two of us (and I admit, more work by my new friend than by old out-of-shape me) dug out and relocated the old soil down to about 13" from the top, then broke up a foot or so of dense clay that clearly hadn't been moved for years. Many years.  But it's loose down to the bottom now.

That nice dark soil on top is just some sandy loam that was leftover from the management this summer. It will help with reconditioning the clay over the coming months. At the moment, we simply spread it on top. Rain is due tonight and tomorrow, so there's no point in adding any nutrients or other good stuff today.

I worked for about an hour and a half yesterday, while my new gardening friend (two years older than me but used to doing this kind of thing) worked a few more hours by herself. She loves it. Has dug out several of these completely by herself. This morning we worked together for about 2 hours and got the job done. Do I hurt? Yes. Is it permanent? No. Just achy muscles in lower back and arms and shoulders and many other spots that haven't been worked this hard for awhile. I'm happy to see the rain coming in, as it's a good excuse to take a day off.

Our dahlia grower has been at it again, left these lovelies in the dish for the rest of us to enjoy. I've learned that this woman also grows dahlias on a friend's farm outside of town somewhere and consistently wins blue ribbons for them. She's quite an expert, and the few plants she has here are just for fun. In case y'all out there don't know it, Oregon grows dahlias that will just knock your socks off. This time of year it's a blaze of glory out there, with huge blossoms of every conceivable color.

This is 'my' end of our little garden area, with my empty one clearly visible in the middle. There are an equal number behind me. Really a nice amenity for this place, for me and for the other passionate gardeners in the building. There are a surprising number of us who get out there and do the work, too. My new friend has the big tomatoes on the right, plus maintains several other boxes for other people who don't want to do the job themselves.

So that's it in the garden until Monday, when I go pick up more bags of compost to fill the box, then start putting it together. Gonna be a fun process, and it's nice to have a friend who is as excited about it as I am.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Projects and a river walk

Unfortunately, I didn't remember to shoot a 'before' photo here, but use your imagination. The back of this little bookcase was open and there are 4 'devices' connected here with multiple cords for each one. Cables looping all over the place. Ugly. Really ugly. I've been thinking of a hard backing to help with stability, but that would require tools to cut out holes for some of the cords, and I don't have those.

So I had this brilliant idea and headed to Jo-Ann Fabrics to make it happen. One yard of fabric and a pack of upholstery nails later, I have this fun, whimsical, colorful backing that is stretched around a couple of cords and hides all the rest. Mostly, it's fun, and I'm trying to infuse color and fun into this place as much as I can.

I've been watching this funky chair at Goodwill for a couple of weeks now, almost bought it a week ago. It's made of metal and needs a new seat cover and padding, and maybe a bit of fresh paint (or just let it be itself). I don't have a table yet, but I love the chair so I brought it home. About $7. Eventually, I'll find another chair that I like that will be totally different (because let's face it, I'm not likely to come across another one like this), and eventually, a table that will fit the space I have. When the time comes, I'll tie the chairs together with matching seats. I've never recovered a seat, but my past addiction to HGTV has certainly shown me how to do it and that it's ridiculously easy to do.

I also bought a king-sized bedskirt that I've been looking at for a couple of weeks. It was on sale for half price, so I took the plunge and will just have to fit it to my double size mattress. When I was at Bed, Bath & Beyond a couple of weeks ago I saw something called bedskirt pins, which corkscrew into the box springs and hold the skirt in place. I can use those to make the needed alterations. I'll head over and buy those today, then the skirt needs to be washed and will hopefully come out fairly wrinkle-free, because it's cotton and I don't haven an iron anymore.

Then, after a big lunch, I needed to walk it off and also take advantage of this fabulous fall weather while it lasts, so I went over my new 'around the block' walk which is around 2.5 miles and includes a mile of waterfront trail along the Willamette River. Gorgeous day out there.

Here, I liked the contrast between the glassy, still water and the moving water beyond. So peaceful out there! Lots of people taking advantage of the weather on both sides of the river, mostly on bikes but some walking and a family splashing in the bank on the other side.

From the nearby bike bridge, one of several that cross the river during it's path through the city. This is the farthest north. I can offhand remember 4 others heading south. From these bridges and the bike paths along both sides of the river, one can go about anywhere in town, either on a bike or on foot.

Back at home, I spotted one of the other gardeners out there and stopped to visit with her and ask some questions I have about using the garden area, and if there was a shovel I can use. Turns out, there is a nice wheeled garden cart, and I can borrow a shovel from maintenance. So I'll be set to start work out there once I arrange that. This woman grows dahlias out there, so gorgeous, had clipped this one and put it in a stone dish in some water to pep it up. She said she has a brood of baby praying mantis that she's trying to keep away from the birds long enough for them to grow up, populate the gardens and maybe lay more eggs next spring. Always cool to talk with other gardeners.

So -- that's my life at the moment. Kind of fun, really.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Life is good

Life is good here in the old folks home. Comcast came through yesterday so I now have tv and my own, fast wireless. Turns out, the first installer who came left a bit of metal in the connection at the source when he put a new tip on.  That shorted out the system. New installer said it happens, but once that was fixed the signal was strong and perfect. One more move-in detail checked off. The last important one. Whew!

I've ordered some headphones and some connections to allow me to use bluetooth on my tv, which will alleviate the concern I have about bothering neighbors with volume. The traffic noise outside is so loud much of the time that the volume has to be turned up in order to even hear it. And the neighbors have the same issue. So, I'll be able to enjoy whatever I'm watching at a comfortable volume level, and block out some of the noise at the same time.

Last piece of new luxury for my bed arrived yesterday. Yes, I've indulged there, but with my long history of insomnia and sleep issues, I think it's a good investment. Make the bed as comfortable as it can possibly be and hope for the best. I needed some new flannel sheets (my last ones lasted 10 years!), couldn't find decent quality locally or online. Ordered something from Amazon and it was fleece, not cotton and not flannel. So, I searched for 100% cotton flannel and found the old standby, LL Bean. Pricey, yes. But heavyweight and perfect and will last for years. They sure felt good last night, although it was one of those nights when my bladder screamed every hour so sleep was somewhat elusive.

Already had 15 minutes of exercise this morning! Trying to start a new habit of doing that right before breakfast, upstairs in the exercise room. I feel the workout, too. Especially in arms and shoulders, where I'm weakest. Legs are always strong, but upper body just doesn't get the use the legs do.

Bought a bunch of compost and good soil for the garden bed over the weekend. Need to go back and get more, though I haven't decided just how far to go with it and how much to spend. What is in there now is old potting soil, which is not dirt and certainly has no nutrients to feed veggies. I'd love to take it all out and start over, but that may be too pricey for me. Probably around $70 total, which isn't outrageous but a lot for me after everything I've spent getting this apartment together. So, we'll see what I decide. Waiting until a friend has time to bring over a shovel and big bucket he's going to loan me, so I can start taking it out. I'm thinking I'll probably end up replacing all of it, but we shall see. One thing at a time!

So that's my story people. Life is good.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Football season requires cable

Rise and shine, everybody. Why? Because this is the first day in recent memory that I've actually begun feeling like a human being. Not so tired. More rested. Less stressed. All that.

I'm actually starting to sleep better, which I knew would eventually happen. Slowly, night by night, it's happening. And for the last two or three nights I've put aside all the various 'sleep aids' I've been rotating for weeks now, and decided to go cold turkey and let the sleep fall where it may. Mostly, these were various herbs that aid relaxation and sleep, but since I'm pretty sure my issues are mostly stress and anxiety, don't think they help a lot. Thought they did at first, maybe, but if they ever did the time is past. I'm not going to climb Mt. Everest today, by any means, but life is returning to the body. And mind.

A really odd and rewarding result of the past week or two of being off diet but in a most healthy way, is that without counting calories, or exercising, I'm starting to drop weight again. I sensed that the body needed good food, excellent nutrition, and lots of both to help recover. I've been eating more, but almost all healthy. I haven't had sugar for a month or so, whenever I began this new round of calorie-counting and diet adherence. So, this is all good.

Today, a bunch of errands await. Planned to do them yesterday but had to wait all day for a promised delivery that never arrived. Not doing that today. I've emailed them. Told them I won't be here in the morning and to come after noon. What they do from there is their problem.

Still no cable. Fortunately, the signal is good and steady from the wi-fi in the computer room down the hall. But until the cable damage issue is resolved, I can't really move into the living room. Oh, I live there, to be sure. But furniture is placed haphazardly and it should look a lot better. Comcast coming back on Monday and I sure hope they manage to send a tech who has the knowledge and tools to help the maintenance guy trace and repair the problem, whatever it is. Understandably, he doesn't want to cut into the wall more than he has to. And I don't want him to, because however you look at it the room is going to be a mess for awhile. I'm going to the Comcast office this morning for a chat about this.

Another Ducks game this Saturday and I still don't have cable. That's the real rub. I can watch it downstairs, but it's a night game and I'd so much rather be hanging out at home where it's comfortable, than down there where the game is hard to follow. After all, the rush to get it installed was because of football season starting.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Life is good

All is well in my land now. My lovely new desk fits nicely into its space, and better yet, just moving the computer one wall closer to the computer room enables me to pick up the wireless there, most of the time. Doesn't seen terribly consistent, and for some odd reason really doesn't seem to work well when using the big screen. Not sure how that would affect wireless reception, but.... it seems to. At any rate, happy to use small screen until my wireless gets going.

Went back to my favorite thrift shop warehouse  yesterday in search of two specific things, and scored on both of them for under $30.

I needed a tall bedside table since today's new mattresses are so danged high I almost need a ladder to get into them. Wanted something small and funky, and this little woven bamboo table fits the bill all around. I'm determined to put color into this house when I can, in small or large ways.

Sorry for the lousy photo, but the camera has trouble dealing with big differences in light in one photo. 'New' sofa -- which I still like, though it seems awfully big in the room. And, between the sofa and my chair is a rolling file cart that I got yesterday to use with the desk, for extra drawer space. As big as this desk is, it really doesn't have very much drawer space. So this will fill the gap. In the meantime, I kinda like it where it is. My brain isn't up to organizing drawers and files anyway.

And this afternoon, the first Oregon football game of the year. The sun is shining, the air is warm, all is well in my little world.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

It ain't much......

.......but it's mine.

It's a work in progress. Got the chair and bookcase loaded in today, and that's it until Saturday when there's a loveseat and big desk arriving. It doesn't look like much, but it's better than last night when the TV and I were sitting on the floor!

Comcast came yesterday as scheduled, but couldn't hook up because the line in the wall is bad. Got the maintenance guy involved, they'll likely need to cut into the wall! but can't do it until Tuesday and then of course I'll have to reschedule Comcast. Fortunately, the computer room for this complex is just a couple of doors down from my apartment, so I'm able to wander down here barefoot to use the wi-fi in comfort. Several times a day, because I am so attached. I bought a cheap HDTV antenna for the interim, and it works fine, just with limited channels. But, that's all I've had for the last several months, so it's fine.

My own kitchen! Not big, not fancy, but more than adequate and it's all mine. Been a long time since I could say that. Still working on getting it settled, but most of it is done on the surface, anyway. Lots of cabinet space, just narrow so my big pots won't fit. But I can live with that. Plenty of room to store them in other closets or atop fridge.

My own bath with lot of storage space, a nice shower that I can use anytime I like. Such as last night before bed (much needed -- I was grungy from moving).

Tons of storage here, too, and one nice thing about old folks homes is that rooms and halls have to be spacious enough to allow for wheelchairs and maneuverability. So no tiny bath or other spaces.

The bedroom is really a work in progress. There is a bed in there, also delivered yesterday, and I gotta say the bed/new pillow combination has to be the most comfortable and wonderful thing I've owned within memory. Once the adrenaline stops flowing and I get used to the traffic noise outside the window, I expect to sleep like a baby in there. Positive thinking, right? But seriously, it is seriously perfect.

All is well. Have eaten and rested lots today. I am really too old for all this. Remember, I have done all of it myself, until my ex-roommate arrived this morning with the furniture. We had to lift it off the truck and onto a cart, but it was child's play compared to the previous days. I loaded and unloaded two full carloads in my car and a pretty full carload in a friend's big SUV. A mixed treadmill and weights workout, ongoing. So yeah, the body needed some rest. And more tomorrow, probably.

First Ducks football game of the year on Saturday, and since I don't have cable yet I'm lucky that there's a group that gets together to watch the games in the community room. Big screen, lots of people, some food, and the game. I'd probably have gone even if the cable was working, just because football is more fun watched with other people.

That's it, folks. Energy flagging. Time to head back to the apartment and veg out. More when there's more to talk about.