Joe Abbott's Weblog

Letters home to mom

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    • Coda
      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
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      Father Time is riding out his last few minutes of being the temporal keeper for 2011; he sits in an easy chair with a calendar showing “Dec 31” behind him and a grandfather clock pointing to the time of 11:53. … Continue reading →
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      A happy young lady shares a table at a tony restaurant with her cat; they both wear festive, cone-shaped party hats. The woman gaily says to the tuxedoed server, “One martini and one glass of milk.” The cat does not … Continue reading →

And then the rains came … or, turtling-up

Posted by joeabbott on September 22, 2018

2017-01-16 13.09.02With my training trip for our successful Mt. Rainier bid, I have been on the go every weekend for about half a year now. Friday approaches and I’ll have both Saturday and Sunday planned, I get through those, and back to work. Initially it was hard to overcome the inertia of winter and build up momentum to keep going: the preparing for an outing and its imageattendant details, becoming physically strong enough to maintain the pace, and ensuring gear was ready before the coming outings.

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After that, it was exhilarating to be operating in a zone where I could hike, bike, or mountaineer with ease, keeping up with my friends or enjoying time with my spouse. Throughout these adventures I battled foot-pain that was unrivaled in recent years, with any trip more than 6-miles being amazingly painful. I could stop and rub my feet out, but that was a short-term fix of limited efficacy on long outings. Fortunately it was less pronounced while wearing snowshoes (which I did a lot) or biking (which I did a bit) and in late season Suzy helped me acquire some insoles that did marvels.

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But, as my outings continued, so too did the mess grow in my garage, the staging area for my many adventures: 4 different pairs of boots, the same number of backpacks, multiple pairs of snowshoes, bikes, a tire pump, stoves, filters, first aid kits … you name it.

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And then there were the small household projects that I’d get to: putting the summer fans away in the loft, the bucket I promised to make a “sifting top” for so Suzy could clean soil in the garden to remove rocks, the stash of electronics gear, stones and sharpening tools … just a lot of the things you need for a semi-active life put on hold. A picture of my workbench might be called Still Life of a Suburban Homeowner. It all fed a treadmill of go-go-go that was energizing but starting to sap me. You see, I really do hate to live in a messy space.

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And then the rains came.

Yup, I not only looked forward to them but almost needed them. Last weekend I passed on a hike due to some mild sprinkling. We got the garage mostly in order, Suzy’s stone-separating sifter was finished (sorry, love … just as it starts raining Sad smile), and we nearly completed a sign for our house numbers at the new property. Not a bad weekend. But, it didn’t rain much, just some misting and enough to hide behind the excuse of “rain”.

imageToday, however, I awoke around 5AM to glorious gushing! Trees were wind-blown to the point I heard one crack, rain would come in sheets and then buckets, and all sounds of anything but the rain were drowned out … literally. By the time I got up, around 6:30AM, the rain had slowed to a patter and the world was sufficiently saturated. As if knowing we had a new routine, Trasper, our social cat, curled up atop the fuzzy blanket on my lap as I read the paper … rather than his usual quiet mew to see what was outside. It’s good to just pull your head into your shell now and then and “turtle-up”.

imageBut, lest this sounds like I’ve fallen from an active lifestyle just a bit too quickly: my legs are sore from spinning class both on Tuesday and Thursday, as well as an after-work hike of 6-miles with 2100’ of elevation gain on Wednesday, Suzy and I will participate in the Smithsonian sponsored Museum Day today (Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry being our target), and tomorrow we have a last-of-the-season bike ride with a trip to the Old Goat Farm afterwards for an end-of-the-season plant sale. Maybe not everyone’s version of turtling up, but it will work for us.

My fall activities are not as exciting or glamorous as hiking in beautiful or challenging areas, tidying up is hardly the exercise in body or discovery as taking new trails, but it’s part of life … part of my life … and every bit as valued and valuable.

Thanks for dropping in and hoping your fall activities are just as rejuvenating.

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One of the best hikes ever

Posted by joeabbott on September 16, 2018

I’ve been getting out with friends annually for the last 25 years and we’ve seen a lot of Washington state, but this year we hit the trifecta: beautiful weather, minimal bugs, and some of the greatest scenery around. The outing came with a few caveats, however: one of our number wasn’t able to join us due to back problems, another hurt himself kinda badly on the trip, and we were in deep forest more than I’d like. That said, this outing is highly recommended for anyone! The trails are well maintained, the elevation gain\loss isn’t bad, and at 19 miles for the core trail it’s not abusively long.

Let’s take a look at the trip!

Salmo-Priest Wilderness

See the source imageLocated in the north-easternmost corner of Washington state, the Salmo-Priest Wilderness butts up against Canada and Idaho. Western weather off the Pacific that makes it over the Cascade range starts to collide with the Rocky Mountains, giving this little corner of the world about 60” of rain a year. By contrast, Seattle, a notably wet place, gets a little less than 40” of rain a year.

Our outing was a five-day affair: camping at the trailhead on Thursday and returning the following Monday. Like a modern day Camelot, it only rained once before the trip ended and that was at night. The first night the evening temps fell into the upper 30°s, I’d imagine (based on the need to constantly bury my face in my sleeping bag to keep it from getting too cold), but otherwise the temps were in the 70°F range during the days and stayed in the mid-40°F at night.

This was a perfect trip.

Route overview

Our outing took us in a loop, starting from Salmo Pass Trailhead and returning to the same place after taking a clockwise route along the South Salmo River, into Idaho, up Snowy Top Mountain, and back to the trailhead along the Shedroof Divide.

Camp 1 is about 6.7 miles in; Camp 2 is roughly 23.5 miles in.

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While this loop will take you about 20 miles, we added nearly 10 additional miles with our excursions: up Snowy Top, to the burned-out lookout on Little Snowy Top, and some other minor ramblings. That said, stretched over 3.5 days of walking it wasn’t significant. Here’s the profile of our trip.

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DSCF2406Thursday

The first day was mostly just driving; it’s an 8-hour trip from Seattle. But, the roads were clear, we weren’t impacted by any of the recent fire issues (either by smoke or road closures), and I had good company. At the trailhead we pitched our tent, had a little dinner, and oriented ourselves to the proper trailhead. As we were doing a loop, we left from one and came back on another … both trails leave from the same lot but by going clockwise around the loop, we avoided a stiff bit of climbing out of a valley on our return.

Friday

Friday was getting to camp, which we did in just a few hours. Again, the trails are well-maintained and we lost 1800’ in the first 3 miles, making that a quick bit of work. We had one minor river crossing at the bottom of the elevation loss, hopping the South Salmo River, but our late-season timeline played well for those with good balance, as we were able to rock-hop from one bank to the other. Tim, chose to test the frosty temps of the South Salmo and ford the river. His report: that was cold.

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A couple hours from the crossing and maybe three hours since we left the car, we came to a camp site that we called “home”. It was before noon but it allowed us plenty of time to pump water, find trees for hanging food, setting out a dining area, and generally getting a heavy pack off our backs. This trip was about sharing time with old friends and so we did that … mostly by finding a nice place to read whatever we brought.DSCF2417 Stitch

Later we talked about our jobs, spouses, our buddy back home, and caught up on the happenings in each others’ lives. While we’d all been out together on training hikes, as we’d climbed Mt. Rainier together earlier in the summer, there’s always something new to catch up on.

Saturday

DSCF2438Saturday started out with a bit of a problem. One of our number took an early morning slip and was impaled by a sharp branch sticking out from a downed tree, but we didn’t realize the extent of the problem. He took care of the issue but we had agreed to hike to Snowy Mountain just after breakfast, so we headed up.

At Snowy Top Pass, just before we started up the mountain itself, we took a small break; at that point we realized the injury was worse than we’d thought. As we generally agreed to head back, I ran up a small slope of about 30’ and enjoyed some nice views, to which I beckoned the others. At this point, the injured party said something like, I think I can make it. Which I interpreted to mean “make it up Snowy Top. And so I headed up. He was talking about the small 30’ slope.

I feel quite bad that I made\encouraged an injured person to hike the mountain, but he was game and we all made it to the top and down without further problems. Still, not cool on my part.

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DSCF2480On the return to the campsite I got out ahead and ran into a black bear. At that time I didn’t know it was a black and lots of news about grizzly re-introduction going on had me pretty frightened. The bear was hidden behind a stand of trees and he noticed me first, whereon he started huffing and vocalizing his displeasure at my approach. I froze, waiting for Tim and Ron to catch up and, bear spray in hand, we slowly eased past the tree stand to see the bear partway up another tree … and, on seeing us, a whole lot farther up! We continued on and that was the last we saw of bears this trip.DSCF2493

Camp time saw more of the same: Tim and Ron reading at camp, me enjoying my magazine creek-side, and later a nice dinner before calling it a day with some card-playing.

Sunday

Sunday we broke camp and hiked about eight miles total. The beautiful weather made for a nice jaunt and the inclusion of a side excursion up Little Snowy Top to an old, burned-down fire watch made for great interest.

A few yards up the trail to Little Snowy Top we dropped our packs and continued the rest of the way. At the top we saw piles of rusted nails left behind after the wooden shack was burned, blobby glass that had melted in the conflagration, and lots of debris and old pilings where a lookout once stood. After getting back to our packs we put our feet up and enjoyed lunch looking out down the Priest River watershed. Gorgeous.

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According to the route description, we should have found our campsite about a mile past the Trail 315-Trail 512 intersection, but we found the campsites about a quarter mile past that. They were so close to the intersection we continued past them before turning back. It was early afternoon, say 2PM, and we were ready to call it a day. We pitched the tent, Tim fetched water, I scouted a place to hang food, and we all kicked back to await dinner, savoring our final night in this gorgeous area.

Monday

Our final day was a quick one, just about 4.5 miles with our lightest pack yet. I continued snapping pics of the Priest River valleys and Selkirks as we left Idaho, re-entered Washington state, and rambled to our car.

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At the car we got out our traveling clothes, changed, tossed the packs in the car … and it started raining. The perfect end to a perfect trip. Time to head back home.

Coda

I’ll end by simply saying: take this hike. If you can at all manage to get here and put in 20 miles, your rewards will be significant. Take this hike … it’s a beauty!

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Exorcising after exercising

Posted by joeabbott on September 15, 2018

I enjoyed a long (as in 5-day) weekend hiking in a far-off corner of Washington state. As I settled in for the 8-hour car ride back home, I fantasized about my reception upon getting back: a big hug, long shower, maybe a second shower, maybe another hug, and some quality time with those I left behind for almost a week. What I got was something altogether different and this post will be my attempt at purging those “challenges” so I can get back to my charmed life of quiet pleasures and a happy existence.

Invisible Fence

The first thing I noted when I got in was the Invisible Fence beeping like crazy … maybe two beeps a second. Every now and then we need to reset a RFI outlet the fence is on (we’ve never been able to determine why) but those beeps come once every 4-5 seconds. So, I drop my sweaty gear, overloaded pack, and remnants of road trip snacks and tried to reset it. No luck. The beeping was driving me insane and I was quickly ramping up from dozy backseat lethargy to rip-it-off-the-wall angry.

When Suzy came down she got the brunt of my “what’s wrong with this thing\why haven’t you tried fixing it” questioning, and I understandably crushed my hopes for a welcome home hug. As we flitted about trying to make it stop, she said something that didn’t sink in until later: with all the construction from the project next door going on up at the corner of the lot, I didn’t realize the beeping was coming from our Invisible Fence unit. With that she went off the call the Invisible Fence folks and do some online research.

Her comment didn’t sink in until my next story, “The corner of the lot” … but let me warp time and jump ahead a bit.

In the process of talking to the Invisible Fencing folks, Suzy learned how to silence the alarm: just hit one of the small buttons on the inside of the circuit panel. Easy enough … unfortunately we didn’t learn how to do this until after we’d fixed the problem and it wasn’t beeping. To see how this worked, we forced the unit to beep by unplugging it … which beeps every 4-5 seconds. And because I wasn’t sure if I held the button or just pressed it, I held the button … which, in addition to silencing the unit, enters you into a “change the settings mode”!!

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I was so thrilled at being able to change the settings that I did just that … and promptly messed up our system. Yup, I broke the Invisible Fence system.

It took another two days to iron things out but let’s just call this a three-fer: first I come home to insane beeping, then I ruin my welcome home reception, and I finish off the day by destroying the Invisible Fence. Bad news rising.

A final note … the settings should properly be: Mode=8xx (800 series model), L1 Freq=10k (the collars are on a 10k frequency), L1 Signal=Outdoors (kinda makes sense), and Mask=Xmit (the default setting).

The corner of the lot

OK, so after Suzy’s comment about activity from the construction on the vacant lot going on sunk in, I put on my backyard shoes and headed up to the corner and, as I entered Chickenville, it was apparent why the Invisible Fence unit was beeping off the rails: we no longer had a fence in that part of our yard.

The short story is that as the construction crew was putting a bulldozer onto a flatbed truck, the flatbed’s front wheels came off the ground and the bulldozer operator backed off hurriedly. The story is a little confused but his options were to back into oncoming traffic or toward our property. He went for our property and struck a corner, taking out about 30’ of fence in one direction and another 10’-20’ in the other direction.

The confused part is that there’s a massive amount of damage … not just a few boards out of place, but entire uprights with their concrete base pushed over, mangled wires from the Invisible Fence system, and splintered boards. Someone mentioned the bulldozer was down the hill on its side, which would explain the damage, but the bulldozer was upright and back toward the road when I saw it.

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Anyhow, after reviewing the damage, I got the name of the owner of the moving company and his number. Nope, didn’t call the police, didn’t get a moving company name, and didn’t get the insurance company. I’m something of an idiot on this one but let’s just agree that I wasn’t firing on all cylinders.

Anyhow, with Chickenville ripped open, our chickens were free to run out and our cats no longer had their Invisible Fence keeping them in … and, anyone walking by can now survey our backyard. Suzy got the pets corralled and we went to work on a temp fence: about 20’ of plastic fencing and a few T-posts for stability. We stapled the plastic fence to the standing parts of the cedar fence and then used the T-posts to give it shape. I then went to work on splicing the Invisible Fence wire. I should mention we did all this by flashlight as the sun had set an hour earlier.

While I was gratified to no longer hear beeping when we got back into the house, my workshop bench got trashed in my search for a stapler (and the right staples), my electronic fix-it gear, and all the stuff that had built up just prior to my long hiking trip.

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As a last note on the fence, we ended up turning this over to our property insurance. When I first called the owner of the moving company, he was apologetic and insistent that he’d take care of things. But, he never returned my calls, never took a second call from me, and there was no activity for a few days. The adjuster will call us Monday so we can get our fence back up.

And other stuff

Compared to a bulldozer taking out your fence and an expensive Invisible Fence system not working, the final few challenges seem minor but they added to a “should have stayed in the mountains another couple days” sorta feeling.

With the Invisible Fence not working, we’d kept the cats inside so we opened a few windows; one being a window on the side of our house that we don’t often open. But, upon trying to close it, we found we couldn’t! After a small bit of debugging we found that the sides keeping the string in a groove on a nylon wheel had deteriorated and now the string was getting lodged into a part that it shouldn’t.

It’s a reasonably simple fix and a reasonably inexpensive part … but why now? Yes, I’m starting to mope.

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While I was cleaning up … from five days out and a lot of labor putting up a fence and splicing wires in the dark … I must have felt my face needed a good scrubbing, because scrub I did! So much so that in the process I somehow rammed my pinkie up my nose so hard that it still hurts! I’m not sure how I managed to do that this time! I mean, I’ve been washing my face for decades now and can honestly say I’ve never had this problem before. But, it still smarts … which is a funny word to use in a sentence about doing something so stupid.

And that’s about it. Yeah, a few other smaller things went wrong but I think the black clouds that settled over us have passed on and we can get back to our simple lives. We still need a new, permanent fence … but we have a guy lined up. And we need the Invisible Fence system returned to normal, but we’re certain that just needs to be arranged. And the window that hasn’t been opened in days just needs a part that’s readily available on Amazon … I’m sure we’ll get to it in priority order.

Coda

Since all the madness I’ve received my welcome home hug, a number of hot showers, and quality time with Suzy and the cats. We have a couple ragged edges to tidy up but I’m hoping that posting this story will clear the air here and allow us to return to our normal. Those of you who weather these minor challenges with more grace than I have my regard; I, for one, appreciate a quiet, happy existence.

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King Dork

Posted by joeabbott on September 3, 2018

What makes me pose like this?

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These photos are separated by about a year and I’m striking the same, goofy pose: left fist rammed somewhere into my back-ribs and beaming like I’ve done something awesome.

Granted, I had been doing awesome things: with Tim (left) I was biking and hiking in the Cascades, and with Kenny (right) I was enjoying a reunion of sorts on the Seattle waterfront. Equally awesome in different ways. But that pose!

Note to self: find a better “I’m having a great time, let’s capture this” pose. And stop touching Tim … he’s clearly uncomfortable with it.

I was just sorting through photos and saw these two cringe-worthy shot and thought I’d share. If you’re with me and photos are being taken, remind me to do something more natural with my left arm. Thanks for looking in!

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Gaming … busy month

Posted by joeabbott on August 26, 2018

This current month, August, I’ve been busy with some gaming objectives … or, actually, a single gaming objective: to amass 20,000 GS. You get GS, GamerScore, by completing in-game accomplishments; some are easy, some take a bit more planning to complete. Most games offer 1,000 GS. so getting 20k takes a little focus, but focus I did. This post will be about the games I played on my journey to earn all those points.

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Read the rest of this entry »

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People teach me stuff

Posted by joeabbott on August 26, 2018

OK, please understand that I just got up after a pretty rough night so my usual topics of video games, hiking, and woodworking are somewhat distant from my mind, and thoughts of “if I were in the middle ages, would I have died?” are a bit closer to top-of-mind. I’m not sure what happened, but I had the touch of something … and that touch left me with a massive headache, sweating, intermediately super-hot and terribly cold, sensitive to light and noise … I even tossed my beloved pet cat from keeping me company and the bed; he was a couple hundred degrees! Anyhow, I’m over it and was just cruising some of the webs and saw this quote by Kurt Vonnegut and it touched me deeply and I thought I’d share:

Kurt Vonnegut… go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

The first part of the quote was snipped because it was coming off a longer conversation (you can read it here) and, not surprisingly, Kurt was making a political statement. I say “not surprisingly” because this is what Kurt did, it’s part of who he was. And while I have absolutely zero problem with the other parts of his comments, it’s the stuff on practicing arts that touches me deepest.

I’m a closet artist who suffers most from my inability to demonstrate any remotely passable skill in the arts arena. That and a fear of destroying something or using up a resource on a bad attempt.

I have a block of soapstone Suzy bought me decades ago, still sitting at the foot of my home office desk, waiting to tell me what it wants to be. I have colored pencils and sketchbooks in the cupboard above them … they are still sharp from the original purchase. I have a video game called Dance Central that was to teach me how to get my groove on, a harmonica in the drawer I toss my keys into when I return home. I will sometimes belt out a line from a song I’m listening to while I’m driving (always alone) and immediately wonder if I were out of tune or if it was flat … I never reflect on enjoyment it might have brought me just to sing.

It’s odd because one of the things I find myself saying most to Suzy is that I don’t care a lot what other people think about me. I try not to take that to extremes but my mountain bike is powder blue and pink … I got it for a great price and it does a good job. My hiking clothing is old and out of style: I wear teal blue Lycra shorts … when was teal a fashionable color? Still, I haven’t noticed the old fashion keeping me from making it up many a mountain. And I take ribbing from my friends for playing some video games not because I enjoy the game, but because they’re easy enough to get Gamerscore quickly; it’s fine to me if they don’t “get it” … I’m enjoying what I’m doing.

And yet, thinking about the arts I have a paralysis to start because it might not be “good enough”. I absolutely have to work on that.

But, that’ll be something for me to tackle another day … today, enjoy the above Kurt quote and see what it tells you about yourself. Hopefully it’ll touch you deeply enough you’ll enrich your life and others by creating something. Today I will pace myself so I don’t relapse into whatever had me last night and I’ll enjoy a 23rd wedding anniversary dinner with Suzanne tonight. With her partnership we’ve created a pretty good life together.

Thanks for coming by.

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There’s a fire a-burnin’

Posted by joeabbott on August 20, 2018

You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of the massive amount of forest that’s burning in the West right now, but it hits home when you see it … or it’s effects … first hand. While I took a lovely stroll up Silver Peak this past weekend, the smoke from said fires obscured all but the nearest views. Just look a few posts back at some of the peerless, blue skies and compare them with these:

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The air quality index in Seattle is worse than in some developing nations right now; so much so I’m considering against hiking until some of the marine winds return and clear things out a bit. Here’s to hoping that happens soon.

Wishing you all better views and clearer skies!

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What’s Suzanne doing on Mt. Rainier?!!?

Posted by joeabbott on August 12, 2018

Typically when I’m in the mountains, I am traveling alone or with buddies, however, on a recent weekend you might have spotted me hiking about Mt. Rainier with Suzy! While we wandered a big chunk of the Paradise area we weren’t in search of a summit … nope, we were looking at all the wildflowers!

DSCF2283Our path started at Paradise where we parked and trekked up to Panorama Point. On the way we looked in a ranger’s spotting scope at climbers on the mountain, picked up a brochure on wildflowers from another ranger, and pretty much kept to the side of the trail as we stopped at just about every flower on the way up! We had blue skies, good company, and the flowers were out! Here are a few pics from the day.

Flowers

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The Mountain

You can’t send a mountaineer to this mountain without expecting a few pics of this glorious mound of ice and rock itself! I’m no photographer but it was a really nice day.

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Suzy

Yup, she gets a couple snaps as her company made this one of my favorite outings this year.

Here she is doing what you might expect someone loving plants might be doing:

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Here we took a break and she was accosted by the wildlife … and, no, the little critter didn’t get any of our treats:

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And a final few with the mountain in the background.

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Coda

Not sure how much more I can say. While we felt guilty for ignoring chores on the weekend, this trip was glorious and highly recommended. Now get outside and find some of your own wildflowers!

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Love a good sale!

Posted by joeabbott on July 29, 2018

Today’s story is a little different … it’s about my frugal side and yet, you may have good reason to question whether I’m doing it right. The story starts with clearing the property last year!

imageSuzy and I have a goodly assortment of gardening tools: way more than the average lot, I’d imagine. But, we have laid pavers, built our shed and chicken coop, trimmed the sod, and invested a lot of time in all manner of gardening. So when we bought the property up north and decided to clear it by hand, we got a few more rakes and shovels and whatnot.

One of our favorite tools, however, is our 32” Fiskars Bypass Lopper.

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It has the right power to cut through 1.5” branches with ease and can lop bigger stuff with only a little more difficulty. It’s sharp, has smooth cutting action, and doesn’t weigh a ton. Whenever we’d be up clearing brush, if either of us left this on the ground to tend to something else, the other would pick it up to address some tough branch. It just worked well.

So when Suzy and I were walking through Target the other day and spotted a pair of these on clearance, I almost jumped out of my skin seeing they were going for $12.48 … yup, the very same model that Amazon is selling for about $38!!

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I had to giggle to myself as we walked out of the store with them. Great deal!

And so, a week later when Suzy was heading to do a little shopping and asked if I needed anything at Target I replied with a goofy:

Hmmm … things I need:

  • Happy wife … nope, can’t get that at Target
  • Cooler weather … coming middle of next week
  • Fruits … not from Target, please … last batch from there was perfect in terms of size but not a good fruit
  • Nice treats for our picnic … maybe a tube of chips (if they’re on sale)

Can’t think of anything else … unless you can get loppers for $12 again!

Yeah, a week later and I was still excited that we got a good tool and we got it at a great price! And so, when Suzy returned from her shopping trip and sent me text with the below picture and the message “Got mine for $3.74,” I was surprised to say the least:

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Oh, you can’t see that price tag … let me blow it up for you:

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Yeah … we got another pair of loppers, exact same brand and model, FOR LESS THAN FOUR DOLLARS!! Holy smokers!

No, we don’t need a third pair but at four bucks, you’d be insane to leave them on the shelf. Soon enough we’ll have to tend a large 5 acre lot, a barn, shed, and plenty of needs for good quality trimming tools and we’ll always have one of these in easy reach. Suzy mentioned looking at a number of other pairs on the shelf and this was the only one with a clearance sticker on it for this price. I’m not sure what strategy Target is working but this one worked for us!

And so, it may not be frugal to buy something you don’t need, but it’s certainly smart to maximize your buying power and in this case we did pretty good.

Hope you find what you want and find it on clearance at a deep discount! Thanks for dropping by.

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The Bug Count Also Rises–by John Browne

Posted by joeabbott on July 24, 2018

I’ve been working at Microsoft for a while now, over 20 years, and in that time I’ve seen a LOT of changes, most for the good. However, one thing I have missed was an old paper\hardcopy version of a company newsletter called the MicroNews. It was sent to buildings or to your mail slot and contained any number of articles, cartoons, ads, or distractions. One event was a call for Ernest Hemingway-style writings. As a lover of literature … but never more fully developed than you might find in the average high school … this appealed to me. The appeal wasn’t enough to enter, but enough to not only be entertained but to have kept a snippet of the winning article from 1996.

I just found it recently in a box of old stuff from an office-move.

I sadly didn’t keep the author’s name but doing a pretty simple web search, I found him: John Browne. And the very same words you’ll find below can be found in a number of other locations throughout the internet. I also found Mr. Browne on LinkedIn and, while we share common friends, he and I are not connected … and, unfortunately, I can’t send mail to someone I’m not directly connected to. And so I can’t thank him (directly) for the amusement his writing has given me the many times I’ve read this.

It’s time for me to let go of the paper version of his story, but I’ll save a copy here so I can enjoy it in years to come … and so you can now.

In the fall of that year the rains fell as usual and washed the leaves of the dust and dripped from the leaves onto the ground. The shuttles drove through the rainy streets and took the people to meetings, then later brought them back, their tires spraying the mist into the air. Many days he stood for a long time and watched the rain and the shuttles and drank his double-tall mochas. With the mochas he was strong.

Hernando who worked down the hall and who was large with microbrews came to him and told him that the ship day was upon them but the bugs were not yet out. The bugs which were always there even when you were in Café 25 late at night sipping a Redhook or a double-tall mocha and you thought you were safe but they were there and although Enrico kept the floor swept clean and the mochas were hot the bugs were there and they ate at you.

When Hernando told him this he asked how many bugs.

“The RAID is huge with bugs,” Hernando said. “The bugs are infinite.”

“Why do you ask me? You know I cannot do this thing anymore with the bugs.”

“Once you were great with the bugs,” Hernando said. “No one was greater,” he said again. “Even Prado.”

“Prado? What of Prado? Let Prado fix the bugs.”

Hernando shrugged. “Prado is finished. He was gored by three Sev 2’s in Chicago. All he does now is drink herb tea and play with his screensavers.”

“Herb tea?”

“It is true, my friend.” Hernando shrugged again.

Later he went to his office and sat in the dark for a long time. Then he sent e-mail to Michaels.

Michaels came to him while he was sipping a mocha. They sat silently for awhile, then he asked Michaels, “I need you to triage for me.”

Michaels looked down. “I don’t do that anymore,” he said.

“This is different. The bugs are enormous. There are an infinity of bugs.”

“I’m finished with that,” Michaels said again. “I just want to live quietly.”

“Have you heard Prado is finished? He was badly gored. Now he can only drink herb tea.”

“Herb tea?” Michaels said.

“It is true,” he said sorrowfully.

Michaels stood up. “Then I will do it, my friend,” he said formally. “I will do it for Prado, who was once great with the bugs. I will do it for the time we filled Prado’s office with bouncy balls, and for the time Prado wore his nerf weapons in the marketing hall and slew all of them with no fear and only a great joy at the combat. I will do it for all the pizza we ate and the bottles of Coke we drank.”

Together they walked slowly back, knowing it would be good. As they walked the rain dripped softly from the leaves, and the shuttles carried the bodies back from the meetings.

I claim no authorship or benefit from this writing, only sharing something I have enjoyed and hope you will enjoy it, too. Perhaps you need to know what RAID is, or the product with the code name Chicago, or enjoy the culture that was part of software development in the mid-90s, or maybe some writing, like Hemingway’s, is timeless.

WIN_20180724_13_00_14_ProAnd, although completely unnecessary, I’ve included a pic of the article as it appeared in the MicroNews, way back in 1996.

Thanks for dropping by.

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