Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27, 2014

I really have not done much this month at all.  It has been mainly a month of volunteer work for the Forest Preserve District of Will County.

The constant rains continued for much of the month of July and I spent a great deal of time emptying the flooded garage of water.  The garden was underwater for a good bit of July on and off.  Where most of the garden seemed to tolerate it pretty good, the tomatoes and some of the vegetable garden are showing yellowing leaves and a general lack of growth.  The one thing I can say that has been great this past month was the temperatures.  Where I am sure that the tomatoes and warm season vegetables would disagree, I personally have enjoyed the fact that the weather this month has been very mild.  Some days in recent weeks it struggled to get to above 70 degrees.  Yesterday and today have been pretty warm and muggy, but another front is coming through tonight and most of this week will again be pretty mild.

I really have had a busy month with volunteering.  I have made it out to Hickory Creek Barrens to spray several times.  Sometimes alone, and sometimes with Linda, Richard and Paul.  The amount of work that needs to be done out there is mind numbing for sure.  We also had our semi-annual FPDWC Resource Management meeting last Saturday and it was a doozy.  The next day was another public workday at Hickory Creek Junction and I also butterfly monitored.  We started a new project at HCJ of trying to control the phragmites.  That project is going to be difficult and will probably take a few years.

I also was asked to present a program for the Master Naturalists at Isle A La Cache Museum.  I worked long and hard on a PowerPoint presentation and had only 9 people at the program.  Those that did attend seemed to enjoy it and get something out of it. 

I am leading a walk at Hickory Creek Barrens coming up next month for the Will County Wild Ones so I have more preparation ahead for that venture.

I have really done very little on my Star Wars costuming hobby this entire year.  I have just lost a lot of the passion for it while I watch endless arguments and other nonsense.  I find that I just don't have the desire to do as many events anymore.

One thing that I did accomplish was to finally get around to making a new Jedi costume.  I had some natural colored Osnaberg around for quite some time and always intended to re-make my original Jedi costume.  The costume went together pretty quickly as I had made some alterations to my original pattern the last time I used it.  This time I cut the pattern pieces out and the tunic went together without issue. 

While I was at it, I also added a little "bling" to my one pair of very plain Jedi boots.  I really liked the plain boots that I bought used a couple years ago because of how comfortable they are.  I walked the 3+ miles of the Racine Parade in them and they were as comfortable at the end as they were at the beginning.  I put some straps on the boots at the ankle.  I used an old mens belt and took some buckles off of a couple cheap belts I had bought awhile back.  I really like how the boots came out and love the fact that I have a great looking pair of really comfortable Jedi boots.

I also finally got around to replacing my old refrigerator.  The old fridge was constantly puking water out on the kitchen floor and was starting to raise up the tiles on the floor.  My kitchen floor is enough of a mess and I would like to take up that sub floor and see what is underneath but didn't want to do that until I got a new fridge.  The new fridge looks almost exactly like the old one but I don't think it has as much room inside.

I got notice at work that my paycheck should look a little better starting next week.  The owner used to pay half of my healthcare but cut that benefit when the economy started to tank.  Paying for my own health insurance for the last 5 years has been tough.  It has really been tough to make ends meet and I really could not save any money anymore.  With retirement (hopefully) approaching, it was really difficult to continually be in a downward spiral.  The good news is that the owner has decided to re-institute paying 1/2 of my health insurance premiums.  That is HUGE for me.  I don't know how long it will last, but I will take it.   I can finally loosen the purse strings a bit.  Maybe I can afford to go places once in awhile and also get caught up on so many of the things that need replacing around the house. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 5, 2014

It would seem that I have spent a lot of my free time the last 8 months cleaning up after Mother Nature.  With all of the moving about of snow all winter just about every weekend, now it would seem that it is flooding.  From the time all that snow melted, I have been flooded out 4 times and the last couple weeks have been extra horrendous. 

On 6-22-14 I got my 3rd flooding event, and it was a doozy.  The rain came down hard and fast and I was left with my entire lot under water.  Once my lot was completely filled up, the water started flowing westward through the neighbors yards.  The drains on the property were not draining at all-zero!  The flow of water from the front to the back was like a fast moving stream...which is really what it was.  All of my mulch floated everyone and I had to rake it back up from neighbors yards and put back in my beds. 

The garage was completely under water yet again, but this time I decided to hell with trying to squeegee it up and instead outfitted my wet/dry shop vac for the wet mode.  After vacuuming up bucket after bucket after bucket of water, I then put the fan in there to try to dry it out a bit more.  I can't actually get to the one back corner of the garage because of the GTO on jackstands. 

The water finally drained down but everything was a soppy mess and pretty much remained so until this past Monday night when the shit really hit the fan as a two monster storms pass through within hours of each other.  The worst part about these storms was that the power also went out shortly before midnight.  I quickly had to haul out the generator and got that running and spent the night semi-awake to re-fill the gas tank on the generator.  Around 4:00 AM it was evident that I needed to get some more gas.  I headed out in the Jeep looking for an open gas station that had power.  The power outage was very extensive.  The size of the outage really worked in my favor as I knew that an outage that large would get the ComEd crews out sooner than just a spotty outage.  Just as I was getting the generator and myself ready to leave for an appointment in Romeoville, the lights came back on around 8:30 AM.  Perfect timing and much appreciated. 

I had to go to Romeoville to meet with the FPDWC Staff there to make sure the Powerpoint program I was working on would open in their computers.  I am scheduled to give a talk this Thursday at the Isle A LaCache Museum on "Living With Wildlife".  I have spent countless hours working on that program and wanted to make sure it would actually play.  As luck (or should I say no luck) would have it, the power at the Museum was out as well so there was no way to check to see if the program was compatible.  So I left the presentation on a thumb drive with the employee at the Museum and asked that she try it when the power came back on.  As yet, she has not gotten back to me.

Yesterday was the 4th of July and I journeyed up to Racine Wisconsin for the 4th of July Parade with the Wisconsin Garrison.  The weather was perfect, sunny and mild.  The float that the WIG made was another exceptional one.  It ended up winning 1st place in the float division for the entire parade.  Also great was the fact that we were #27 on the parade agenda!  Usually we are back at around 130 or so.  It was great to be at the front of the parade this time as it cuts down on all of the hours of standing around waiting to step off.

 I walked the parade again this year as I made sure to wear a costume where my boots could make the 3 mile journey.  I was a bit concerned that I might not be able to make it as easily as prior years, but I actually made the walk very easily with a lot of energy to spare.  The joints in my right foot were NOT happy though as that foot became completely painful after I stopped walking and was on the float for the ride back to the Marina where we start out.  I was going to stay for the BBQ, but my joints were all I thought it best to make the drive home as they would only get worse. 

The rest of this weekend is just working on various projects around the house, garden, and costuming.