Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 19, 2014

Today is a beautiful fall day and some of the days I love so much.  Where I don't like the fact that it gets dark early and stays dark in the morning, one has to go with the flow of the seasons.

Yesterday I had a bit of a odyssey.  I wanted to attend a Star Wars event in Mt. Vernon IL but the trip would have been really expensive gas-wise - about $85.00.  So, I began heading to Bloomington IL (about 2 hours) and met up with another costume member and then road with them to Mt. Vernon.  I began the trip at 7:30 AM Saturday morning and did not get home till 12:30 AM on Sunday.  The event was a parade for the Mt. Vernon Fall Fest.  The weather was perfect - not too hot and not too cold and there were certainly a lot of people along the parade route.  The hostess was one of our members who lives in Mt. Vernon and also owns a local Irish Pub.  We had an entire back room of the Pub to suit up in and to hang out.  The place was huge and an awesome old building.  Loved all the old buildings along the downtown parade route.  I wore my Hoth Trooper and apparently (as posted on Facebook) the costume had at least one fan along the route.

Last Sunday I did the "Best Evah 5K" event again.  This was a fundraiser for the Max Lacewell Foundation.  We had fewer participants this year, but still a nice, short trooping event.  I wore my Endor Trooper for this event and I chose that because there was a Scout Trooper along. Always like to do the yin/yan thing with Rebel and Imperial costumes.

I have been working on finishing up the fall garden clean up and am really in pretty good shape thus far.  I am almost done with the cutting down of things and have distributed some of the season's compost.  This morning I mowed and also took in the last of the geraniums that were outside.  We did get a frost last night and some of the tender stuff got hit.  Thankfully, the geraniums I have are pretty hardy and didn't show any damage so I was able to cut them back and bring them inside.  

Last week was my birthday and as always, it was completely un-eventful.  I treated myself to a movie again on Tuesday.  I was debating whether to see "Left Behind" or go see "Guardians of the Galaxy" again.  Guardians won out as "Left Behind" looked interesting...but a bit depressing and I was depressed enough.

 Last Saturday we also finished our first ever workday at LaPorte Road Access.  It went well and we put at least a small dent in the work that needs to be done there.  I hope that work does progress as every invasive killed there will be one less that makes its way to the Barrens.

And, the big news on the home front.  On October 28th this old house gets new window!  I shopped around and contracted to have Home Depot install new replacement windows in the house.  Got the place measured and the install will be next Tuesday.  I have lived in my house since 1986 and one thing that I hated about the place was the windows.  They were old and drafty and one has been broken for several years.  They have those crappy triple track storm windows that are a nightmare to clean so I seldom washed the windows.  Also, some of them take an act of god to open and I have scraped and puttied and repainted them several times.  Where I can't afford the windows at this time, will I ever really be able to?  So I just decided to go for it and got 1 year "same as cash" financing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October 1, 2014

And it would seem that my last post said..."wow...September already" and now it is "wow....October already".  So much for trying to add to this blog every two weeks. 

September was a pretty full month with a few Star Wars events, garden clean up and chores at home. 

I think I am way ahead of the fall clean-up game when it comes to the garden.  We experienced a lot of cool weather in September so things are rapidly declining in the garden and I have already cut down probably 80% of it.  Even though I had "nuked" a lot of the garden last fall and tried to cut back on the plantings, there was still a lot to clean up.  It was still better than previous years though. 

I also found that some of the raised garden beds were long past their prime and it was time to do some re-building.  Two of the beds were hopelessly broken, so I went to Home Depot to get lumber and supplies to re-make 3 of them.  WOW...has lumber gone up.  It cost almost $100.00 to buy just enough treated lumber to re-make only those 3.  Since I made 18 of them in 1996 - that would have been $600.00 in lumber for those 18....and I know I didn't spend near that much in making those.  So, I remade 3 of the boxes and installed 2 of them.

I also had some painting chores to work on.  Where I painted the whole house last fall, I never got to the windows and trim.  I scraped and painted the beam at the front door and the bay window and also the trim on the garage.  I also cleaned the patio stone and the deck and then sealed the deck for winter.  Next should have been the windows.  Since I moved in the house in 1986 I have hated my windows.  It takes an act of god to open some of them, one is broken, and they all need another round of paint and caulk.  And then there are those crappy triple track storm windows.  I rarely wash my windows because of the pain in the ass of those storms.  I decided to price some replacement windows and got my first estimate yesterday.  At $895.00 a window from the first place, looks like window replacement is NOT in the near future.  I have two more people coming out for estimates next week and hope that they will be cheaper.   

On 9-7-14 I participated in an event to visit to a boy named Carter from Frankfort with leukemia.  It was a surprise given by his grandmother.  We Star Wars characters were hidden in the garage and then the grandmother hit the garage door button, and we poured out of the garage.  It ended up to be a bit too much for Carter and he was pretty shook up and hid behind his parents pretty much the whole time.  We tried to make the best of it and did a little "tour" of his neighborhood for awhile, came back, but he would still have no part of us.  It happens sometimes.  I got a donation of a Master Replicas Luke Skywalker lightsaber from the Service Manager at work to give to Carter.  That still was not enough to coax him out of hiding.

The Jeep got some more work too and I had a pretty severe bill to pay for that.  In addition to a new front bumper (the old one rusted away) and some other rust repair on the body, I had a massive issue with the rear brakes and replaced the rear wheel cylinders, brake drums and shoes.  That bill was over $1,000.00.

I also made my way to Montrose Harbor on 9-14-14 for the Make A Wish Walk for Wishes.  The weather was nice and cool in the morning, so I decided to wear my Imperial Gunner.  I have not worn that since last November.  Since it was cool out, I didn't need to have the fan running, which is pretty noisy.  The event started very early in the morning which is great when one talks in terms of going to Downtown Chicago as the streets were absent of traffic on my way to Montrose.  I was already headed home by about 9:30 AM just as the day was starting to warm up a bit much for my costume. 

I finished work on all of those holsters I was making.  They turned out pretty good considering I made them from first making a pattern and then working my way through cutting, stitching, dying and final assembly.  I was really glad to get all of the leather working stuff off of my table after several weeks. 

I went to the September Master Gardener/Master Naturalist Pot Luck and it was another great meeting.  One of the ladies came in with what she thought were American Chestnut burrs/nuts from trees at her childhood home in Virginia.  The story Joanne told was that her father planted nuts from the original American Chestnuts on her farm when the last of those started to die off from the blight.  I have had an interest in the American Chestnut "story" for quite sometime and was excited to get two of the burrs with nuts.  I wanted to find out how to start seedlings from what I had so I sent photos to the American Chestnut Foundation looking for some information.  As it turns out, the TACF looked at those burrs and said...sorry...those are not American Chestnuts but Chinese.  Joanne was disappointed when I told her that her trees in Virginia were Chinese Chestnuts and not American. 

I also got a head of Gary Patton's Russian Red garlic that I will plant this fall.  I am preparing one of those two new garden beds for that.

The whole American Chestnut thing led to Richard Wachenheim telling me that there were American Chestnut trees that were dying on one of the properties purchased by the FPDWC down in Wilmington.  After we did the National Public Lands workday at Romeoville Prairie on 9-27 we headed down to Forked Creek Preserve in Wilmington to take a look at the trees. 

What was also on this site in close proximity to the Chestnut trees was remains/foundations/walls of some very old buildings.  They sparked a great curiosity in me about their origins.  As with all natural areas these days, there was invasive species starting to "litter" the area around those foundations and what must have been the "yard" at one time.  This was a project that I decided I would like to take on.  I think it is important to remove those invasives from the areas of the foundations to make sure that trees and what not do not start to grow among them and ruin those foundations.  At this time I am trying to make that an official project AND learn more about the site.