Category Archives: Share the Love

Black & Decker Lithium Ion Hedge Trimmer

I recently bought a Stihl string trimmer from a local hardware store.  While I was shopping for that, I was looking for a lithium ion hedge trimmer too.

not a lithium ion hedge trimmerI’ve been considering buying a lithium ion hedge trimmer because keeping up with all the trimming that needs to be done using the giant scissors style trimmer is getting to be a real burden.  So I haven’t been doing it.  So things are over-grown.  And now I REALLY need a better way to trim.  Power cords are a pain on a large property and gas power is heavy and noisy.  Lithium Ion batteries are a big improvement over the older NiCad batteries.  That seems a viable solution. Continue reading Black & Decker Lithium Ion Hedge Trimmer

Lost in Space: No Place to Hide

Lost In SpaceAs a kid, the highlight of my week was laying on the floor of our living room and watching the weekly episode of Lost in Space.  I thought that was the greatest show ever made!  Many years later I revisited a few of those episodes and came away wondering, “What was I *thinking*?!”  By modern standards the classic version left a lot to be desired.  Still, I remember it fondly as a major part of my childhood as my love for science fiction bloomed. Continue reading Lost in Space: No Place to Hide

Bullymake box banner

Bullymake Box Brings Treats for Our Gang

Cora with Bullymake Box
Cora says “Open it up!”

Last week we received a Bullymake Box in the mail.  We assume it’s a gift from a fan of Cochise and his gang of furry fosters.  Very likely is is primarily for Gator.

I planned to do one of those cute unboxing videos with all the dogs, but it quickly became clear that that was not going to work for a variety of reasons: not the least of which is that my crew is NOT good at sitting still in posed positions around a box of yummy treats while I take a photo or video. Continue reading Bullymake Box Brings Treats for Our Gang

Pottery House Cafe’, An Engagement to Remember

Marie and I rarely eat out.  By rarely I mean almost never.  There’s no reason for it.  We have a fully functional kitchen that is well stocked with foodstuffs.  Marie is an excellent cook and enjoys practicing that art.  Most of the time.  Sometimes she’d rather not.  I am … capable, in the kitchen as well.  I take a turn at the cooking several times a week and neither of us has died.

One occasion when we do eat out is Christmas eve.  This is an annual celebration.  We’re celebrating the anniversary of my proposal of marriage to Marie and her acceptance (she did not need to ponder the proposal for long).

The original event occurred at the Pere Marquette Lodge  near Grafton Illinois.  It’s actually in a state park of the same name.  There is a wonderful, rustic dining hall there, and that’s where I popped the question and bribed her with a ring.

While we lived in the area, we would return to Pere Marquette every year on Christmas eve to celebrate that event.  When we moved away and could no longer get to the actual scene of the event, we found similar locations to stand-in for that lodge on this annual celebration. Continue reading Pottery House Cafe’, An Engagement to Remember

Trying Something New

Garden 100_6711Six years ago I tried something new: gardening.

As a youngster I had been slave labor in my Dad’s garden, but I didn’t learn anything from that except “THOSE are not weeds, THOSE are my plants!” When I decided to try gardening for myself, I knew very little about it. Six years later I’m still trying new things.

My very first garden was a very small patch (6 feet by 12 feet) next to our storage shed: the only almost flat spot on our property. That went okay, so I expanded the following year … and ran into trouble. Planting on a slope means all the dirt I tilled up, amended, and planted washes down the slope and is gone.  Read more …

Some Berry Good Advice

Berry berries in a bowlEarly this spring my friend and mentor, Benny LaFleur, gave me a load of berry starts. These are roots and shoots that creep out from around his established rows. To clean up the rows he digs out these ambitious upstarts. Some of these ended up in my garden. In fact all of my berry plants have come from Benny over the past couple of years. Benny’s berry patch is much (much) larger than mine: almost a farm. And he has a ton of experience to share. Here is what he’s taught me. (Continue Reading …)

 

Black Box Blues

Black Box Blues cover image by Reader's Gazette
Image by Reader’s Gazette

Black Box Blues is a sci-fi short story about a family whose starcar breaks down in a back-water solar system and are forced to seek help from the locals to get on their way again.

Published Mar. 17, 2016 by Reader’s Gazette.


Just as we emerged from the gateway two indicators came to life on our ­car’s console. The green light indicated that this cluster’s nav data had been ­picked up and stored in memory. The red one, that a piece of the car’s ­micronics had fizzled out of existence. Something profane immediately came to ­mind, but since the kids were on board, I kept the thought to myself.

“Something wrong, dear?” Rhiannah, my wife, sat in the front seat­ opposite mine.

“I’m checking it out.”

I typed a command on the keyboard and the computer ran a diagnostic check ­on all the car’s circuits. A moment later the results of the check-up scrolled­ down the console’s video screen. It displayed the part number of the ­defective module, what circuit it was in and on what board that circuit would­ be found. It also displayed a disheartening message:

THIS IS AN ESSENTIAL CIRCUIT IMMEDIATE REPAIR IS MANDATORY.

This time the profanity slipped outRead the rest…


Black Box Blues pokes fun at the modern trend in automobile design – as seen by old shade-tree mechanics like myself who tend to prefer older cars and trucks because of their ease of repair.  That was the impetus for this story, but the tale itself is about Tighe’s adventures with a less advanced species of beings as he searches out parts that will work in a cobbled together patch-up of his wife’s new starcar so they can resume their family vacation.  I hope you enjoy it.  D.B.

The Opening Act: Taters & Onions

The opening act for this year’s garden was to plant onion seed and seed potatoes.

Tater Box 04The onion seed was harvested from some onions I allowed to go to seed last year. I did not plant in neat, orderly, well spaced rows this time. I scattered the seed liberally (I have plenty!) and will harvest many of the young plants as green onions to attain proper spacing for the mature onions.

The seed potatoes, too, were kept from last year’s crop: those too small to do much else with. I put them in a box of dry wood chips (my surface planer makes small chips ideal for this). I closed up the box and tucked it away in a cool, dark spot for the winter.

When I opened it this week and sifted carefully through the chips for the spudlets, I found most of them had just started to sprout: perfect timing!

In the past, I planted potatoes in a deep raised bed in a more or less traditional manner. But to accomplish crop rotation that means moving add-on box sections and shuffling soil around – or (eventually) making all my garden boxes “deep” boxes. This year I decided to jump on board with the current fad in potato growing: wire bins.  Continue reading …

Punching Up the Pizza with Cast Iron

My wife and I enjoy having a homemade pizza on Saturday nights. This pizza ends up being at least two dinners, sometimes a lunch as well. So it’s worth the effort we put into doing it up right.

Earlier this month my wife and I celebrated our birthdays — just 6 days apart. Part of our Birthday Week celebration was a trip to the Lodge Cast Iron factory outlet store in a nearby city where we bought several new pieces of cast iron cookware. One of these is a 16 inch cast iron pizza pan.

Cast Iron Pizza Pan

Around a hundred years ago (or it seems so) I worked my way through the management training program of a popular pizza chain store. On my way to management I learned a lot about making pizza by making and serving many thousands of them. One of the secrets of why a take-out pizza tastes better than most homemade is the oven. Continue Reading …

Lasagna Garden

I love lasagna, don’t you? A flavorful concoction made of noodles, meat, cheese, and tomato sauce, layered in a deep pan and baked so the flavors meld. Yumm! My garden beds this year will be going lasagna.

lasagna gardenOver the years I’ve tried several different techniques for the raised beds in my mountain-side garden. I have to use raised beds because the slope is steep enough that even a light rain washes away top soil that is not firmly pinned down by a thick carpet of grass.

Keeping the soil in these beds rich and productive has been my primary focus. When I established the beds I made my “dirt” using commercial compost, peat, and some native clay soil. I’ve added home-made compost each year. This involves digging-in the compost and turning the soil.

Lately I’ve been reading that turning the soil is not the best approach, but is a hold-over from large scale agriculture where the time and effort saved by plowing a field makes sense. In a garden, tiling and digging are less important as time savers when the soil structure is considered.

I started my quest when I began finding white fungus-like strands growing in the soil, especially near the wooden boxes, and asked myself, “What is that? And is it good or bad?” Research showed it is indeed fungus and it is good.  Read More …