Garden in September

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Do you see my mother picking tomatoes? She is 5’5 for an idea of the size of my plants.

Yesterday, I decided to take down some of the tomato plants that we have not been impressed with. Those were the green tomatoes and what turned out to be my second Black Krim plant that was really a cherry tomato type.

The green tomatoes have not been a sucess. My mother struggles to remember that they are green and pick them. Upon eating they are mild and not all that interesting compared to the bolder, sweeter flavors in the rest of the garden. With the outside being the wilderness that it is, removing them made it a bit less of a struggle.

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I say a bit less. That is the path through the rows. I learned a lot from this set up this year. It actually works but I need fewer tomatoes. Next year I will keep the tomatoes to the outside and deal with using the ladder later in the season. Everything else will be inside and I will have fewer tomato plants.

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This cucumbers setup worked out fairly well. However, one plant decided to reach out tot the tomatoes. It became vine vs vine and now we have hidden cucumbers.

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Now that we are halfway through September, I expect we will have some crop left. The cherry types are doing quite well. The larger tomatoes are slowing down. The days are cooler. I expect that I will start doing my take down in October. It will be to cool for ripening at that point. Until then…

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I still can’t stop my mother from filling my counter with ripening fruit, nuts, and bread. Living with other people can be quite frustrating stuff. This is why we’re looking to move in the next two years or so. Plus, bigger in ground garden!

 

Month ten

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Today is month Ten. It is quite a difference for not quite a year. On the left, he is six weeks old and about eight pounds. On the right, ten months old and about eighty.

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It is easy to see him as the adult that he will be. Sometimes. Most of the time. When I am not chasing after him or we are not discussion boundaries. He learned that he can flip up my left arm when I am at my desk. He has started to develop a deep love of being scratched and rubbed.  He still struggles to settle. I’ve spent more money on edible chews for him then any other dog I’ve had. He can’t be left with soft toys. He eats them. Shredding is fine. Eating is not.  I don’t want him laid out at the ER having toys pulled out of his guts while I sob.

The girls still dislike him.

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I can’t even blame them because he is so damn annoying to them. With his lack of off and slow down he just rampages, begging them to play. Autumn is six. Sage is about to turn 12. They do not want to play. He always wants to play. It is quite the impasse.

 

Ten Months a Puppy

It seems fashionable these days to record everything. I am quite bad it. Similar to selfies, recording myself has little appeal. I always look weird, pale, and bloated on camera. My voice sounds odd. I look like a frog. It is quite unappealing. Still. Some things translate better through video media and randomly, I found myself deciding to record an instant of Inty being good.

Drop. It is a simple command but complex in its reach. I want him to release what is in his mouth. This means to my hand or onto the floor. We have the hand part down but getting him to just spit out what is in his mouth is slower going.

Teaching a dog to let go of what is in their mouth is a major tool. From them picking up something dangerous to using it with a dog that has possessive tendencies it is a powerful tool that should be taught with trust.

I start with trading. I have a treat. He can’t fit the treat and the toy at the same time. As the toy is released, I use drop, and let him have the treat. Its a slow process. He wants to retain his toy. The lure of the treat makes it worth it. I also give the toy back OR if it is something that needs to be taken from him, I trade up for another toy or a chew treat like a bully stick. The goal is for him to never lose value in releasing what is in his mouth.

Eventually, we don’t have to trade anymore. At the start, it is fairly important. Dogs function on a, “What is in it for me?” mentality. You have to show them what that is. Depending on training styles it can be a treat, attention, a privilege. Negative reinforcement functions on this same level. What is in it for them is a lack of discomfort.

Training has a secondary function of improving a dogs confidence in their life and world. If I only take from him, he will lose confidence. He will believe he loses things and this can lead to possessive behavior. The path of possessive behavior is the path that leads to things like food aggression. Trading helps a dog not ‘lose’ in the transaction and this can help a dog with possessive tendencies or behavior develop confidence that their interaction with you will not cause them to lose anything.

Inty however, has a bold and confident personality without a bit of possessiveness. Drop has been easier to teach then lay down. Lay down he knows. He has known it since his second week home. He just hates it because laying down is being still and he is still not comfortable with being still.

I could force more on him, but he is young yet. In five days he will hit his 10th month. For a large dog, that is still a baby.

 

Read the fine print

I paid off my car this morning. Only a month early, but I am pleased that I had the extra money available to do it.

My auto loan was with Capital One Auto Finance. I have used them for my last two vehicles because they would approve you for the loan and send you a check. You then walk into the dealer with that check and after the bartering and haggling, at that moment when they are going to whip out their paperwork and get more money out of you, you instead whip out your chip and slide it over.

How much irritation that caused. There are kick backs when you finance from the dealer that is part of why they sell a car for the price they sell it. Most people finance through them. While I’d love to be a cash sale, taking control of my own loan was the next best thing.

While pondering the soon to be end of my vehicle loan and the next several years that I plan to live without a car payment, I did some reading on my auto loan bank. I read financial news. I started in the mid two thousands when my credit score was good and life was looking up. Then the financial crisis happened, all my rates got jacked up, my credit score plummeted and I was struggling. I learned what I had done wrong and what the bank had decided to do and how I was caught up in it. I followed the law changes that beat the banks back and saw my own financial pressures improve over time.

I learned about banks. I moved accounts, got some better rates, and while I am no financial guru I learned a bit about the nuts and bolts. Well, in my reading I decided to read about my auto loan company. It was interesting reading the negative reviews from people who had their vehicles repossessed for various reasons. One caught my attention. Someone had changed their auto pay and struggled with double debits that spiraled out of control. They learned that paying early did not ensure that their bill had been moved forward and when they complained they were told they needed to manage their automatic deductions better.That stuck with me. My loan has been on auto pay as it decreased the interest rate another half point. With no plan to not pay for the car, it was a reasonable deal for me.

Today, when I paid off my car, I read the big yellow warning that sat above the ‘accept button’. That warning proved to be very interesting. It said that although I had paid off the loan this would not automatically cancel any reoccurring payment. I would have to cancel that or it would still be taken out and I would wind up with a credit.

The first responses are things like, how stupid is that? Very, in my opinion. The systems I suspect are separate somehow. The onus is placed on the borrower to make sure the automatic payments are cancelled if the loan is paid off early. At least they told me, I guess.

I figured how to cancel the payment. Now, in two weeks, I should receive my car title instead of a payment withdrawn notification. That will be pleasant.

 

Trials and Tribulations

This is one of the first times that I have had several friends with puppies at the same time I have a puppy. It helps tremendously when I find myself with one hand on my hip and the other over my eyes.

Tonight, Inty had finished his bully stick in record time and vanished into the kitchen. I didn’t hear him and when I called him, he peeked around the kitchen island holding a cucumber by its stem.

My biggest lemon cucumber of the season. I noticed it this afternoon and snatched it off the plant. It is larger then I like to let them get.

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It was thankfully unharmed. I sent him to his crate for the evening. He stole this cucumber off of the counter and counter surfing is not to be tolerated.

Ahh, puppies. He is in the most obnoxious phase yet. He is not as small and cute as he was when he was a baby. He is large, obnoxious, and utterly sweet. He is moving from cute to beautiful. But, he is still so young. So very, very young.

 

A Ring Clock – Unboxing

When you order your Ring Clock, they first send you a stack of plastic sizing rings. You tell them your size and they send you rings over and under it. The reason is that your ‘size’ and the ring clock size don’t often match. Many people get a size larger.

I went to a jewelry store and got my finger sized. I decided I wanted to wear it on my thumb or finger. My thumb and ring finger on my left hand are the same size. I do not have tiny, dainty hands. I have long fingers and big hands, normally wearing a men’s large glove. Women’s gloves don’t have the finger length for me. Most girl’s I know are six and seven in their rings. Me? A ten.

My sizing rings arrived ten days after I placed my order. I picked the 11 sizing ring and responded to Ring Clock’s info e-mail address with my size. I added my order number to make sure they didn’t have any problems. I got an e-mail a few hours later thanking me for my actual size and telling me that I’d have my ring clock in two weeks.

It actually took eight days to get it. I am very pleased with the service. The website said that it will be a 6-8 week process. I ordered on August 10th and have my Ring Clock on August 26th.

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The box is surprising in its size. What is in it?

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The ring is sitting on the charger. A bit of foam is inside of it to help it stay snug for travel. The size is because of the charger base. That is where all of the extra technology is located.

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It is made out of surgical grade stainless steel. Its water proof up to 30 meters. They tell you to take it off for messy work like gardening and mechanical things. It is surprisingly light. It looks heavy but it is very, very light weight.

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Everything in the box.

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We have our ring, our charger, a cord, a plug, and the instruction manual. The ring clock uses a 24 hour clock for its time. The instructions are simple enough. The plus and minus button let you set it. Don’t charge it for more then 2 hours. Don’t leave it charging for days, it will destroy the battery. The charge is good for a week.

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Figuring out how to charge it was easy enough. I was reminded of my alarm clocks as a child. When you set an alarm clock there are normally only two major buttons. The longer you held the button the faster the clock cycled time. When I pressed the ring clocks buttons, it started setting the time for the minutes (center ring). I was like, “This is going to be slow,” when I realized that it would need to cycle around an ‘hour’ worth of minutes to move to the next hour of the ring. However, holding down the button speeds up this process and shortly the minute light was flickering by at light speed and the ‘hour’ changed every 3 seconds or so.

The second thing the charger does is let you pick a setting that makes it easier to tell the time. You can press both buttons to change between the two settings.  The first one will cause the hour/minute to light up. The second setting causes the hour/minute+ to light up.

What this allows is when looking at the minutes if it is 37, the 35 + 2 tick marks light up. Instead of just the 2nd tick mark to mark 37. The seconds light up and cheerfully count away.

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The ring itself:

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It spins. For some reason I thought the three individual bands spun. They do not. The time band is one piece and it spins. There is a mild give to it. If I shake my hand I can feel it move around. It does not bother me. It might bother others.  It spins easily but not irritatingly. Normal hand motions do not active it.

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It is thick. It makes wearing it weird. I’m not a ring wearer. I’ve chosen my thumb as the chosen finger but I’m not sure how it will go. The size does reduce the mobility of my thumb when it comes to bending it into my hand. That is not a big deal normally. Of course, right now because I am paying attention to it it has become a huge thing. I am going to give myself a few days to adjust before I move it. My fitbit was the same way. It had been so long since I had worn a ring that wearing it was weird and uncomfortable for the first three or so days. I even had to take breaks. Now I don’t notice it. As the day wears on my thumb is calming down about the item on it.

The fit is smooth and comfortable. The sizing rings were accurate.

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We will see how the thumb fit goes.  I normally use my index finger it spin it. I assume, if it was on my ring finger, I’d use my thumb to spin it to see the time. I think the seconds are the least functional aspect of the entire piece if you wanted an exact time of hour:minute:second. If you just want to use the seconds to count, it works fine.

A Ring Clock – Acquisition

Three years ago on IMGUR, I came across a post about things you didn’t realize that you wanted. There was a nice list but one item caught my attention. I say caught but it does not truly encompass the way my gaze was riveted and my mind consumed.

It was a ring that was also a clock. It was something that I did not need. I had a smart phone to tell me the time. Later, I would get on the bandwagon and buy a fitbit which also told me the time. This ring, that would also tell me the time was not a necessity in my life.

But it was beautiful. It was fascinating. It told the time with blue lights. I wanted this thing that I had no need for.

Investigation led me to their finished Indigogo campaign. It had all the ear marks of reality, but it was not in production. I pushed it away from my thoughts. But, every few months it would surface again. I’d push it away and it’d surface. Then one day their Facebook page said that they were shipping them out to the backers for the campaign.

Excitement hit me. What was it really like? Was it true and not just another scam or failed project? I searched and searched and searched and searched and found nothing. Just a Facebook page with no updates. I found no reviews. I found a few people that said they had received theirs but nothing more.

The little bit of information I found over the following two years told me that it was around three hundred dollars. Supposedly, they were producing them but the only review I could find didn’t sound like they actually had the item. About every three months it would surface and every three months it would die back down.

Then, back in July, the desire to see if the ring clock was real surfaced again. This time, I found a review from A Blog to Watch. It seems that ring clock solicited them. At the same time, several articles started to pop up and I saw that their facebook page had some activity. I finally had some reviews. But more importantly, I didn’t have negative reviews that said the company was a scam.

Which led to my decision to pull the trigger on a luxury item that I have little need for but great desire to get. I add this because the first thing people ask is, “How much is it?”

Cost is a fascinating equation. There was a time when I’d make more or different arguments about it. A luxury good is a luxury good. Getting one will lead people to tell you how the money could be better spent. Often times that ends with the fact that your money should be sent away to another if you don’t need it. It is another area were justification meets endless battle. In the end it is a cost I chose to make and I am quite excited for the item.

The shipment information came from FedEx. I’ve been tracking the package relentlessly. The arrival said that it was supposed to come Friday, but when I woke up on Friday I saw that it had been moved to Monday. I was disappointed until I wondered if I could just go and pick it up. FedEx has the ability to go pick up at a facility and the one where my package was sitting was located seven miles from my house.

I wound up calling them for help. After fighting through a phone tree I got an incredibly pleasant woman that helped me check that the location I thought it was at was the correct one. There are two offices in that area, so I did not want to pick the wrong one. With that done, I decided to bite the bullet and leap into my car to go see if I could get my package now instead of waiting for FedEx to notify me.

One nice thing about living near a major airport is that many things are quite close. The FedEx office near Dulles is a massive complex. The service desk however is a tiny cubby that looks like its tucked in any strip mall. Service was not fast but the gentleman was capable. I got to listen to one mans horrified understanding that he was going to be paying a hundred dollars for his delivery.

My turn came and I was honest. “I had a package held but it doesn’t say it is ready for pickup.”

“I’ll go check,” he responded. Two trips later and my package was in my hand. “It’s international!” he told me. I just nodded but he seemed impressed by it. My package in hand, I wished everyone else waiting good luck and skipped out.

 

 

Intuition at Nine Months

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There are moments when he looks like an adult. He is as large as one. His first birthday is approaching. But then, we have moments like earlier today when he got a bath. I stood up and walked out of the bathroom, expecting him to follow. Instead, he started to cry. I walked back in and he had one foot on the edge of the tub and looked so overwhelmed. I had forgotten that he has only had a handful of baths so far and he still finds the bathtub slippery and scary, even with the tub mat that I added.

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Perhaps this will show his dorkiness a bit more.  “Why are you over there?” he asks. Sometimes I wonder if he cares that I am there. Then he is separated from me and his concern becomes apparent. I’m taken for granted only when he can come and go as he pleases.

He is still not calm. When we were trying to take pictures two bulldogs walked by. I grabbed his collar as he exploded into a screaming, roaring, bouncing, lunging disaster. I could only sigh in embarrassment and hold on as he looked like a dog aggressive demon.

“He is only nine months old,” I told them. “He is also very friendly. It just looks like he is insane. He want’s to play.”

They let their dogs approach and he threw himself down and sniffed faces, wagged, wrapped himself into a pretzel of sweetness and begged them to play. Calmer but not calm. Not indifferent. One day he may be. But right now, dogs are the most exciting thing in his world.

Nine months is a tough time. They are puppies in dog bodies. They know a lot but not enough. There is poor decision making and little self control. Even going potty can be an exercise in frustration as concentration on the deed is rare.

Puppies are hard. I’ve finally had to crate Inty after his last foray into trying to get to the girls to harass them. Any attention is positive attention for him and that includes the girls screaming at him and biting him.

 

I no longer brush my hair

I have met a few women that do not know what color their hair is. They have died it so long (normally blond) that they have no idea what color it is. For many women with lighter colored hair, their hair darkens as they age. For those who have embraced blond and various light shades the hair they had when they started dying it and the hair they have now may be quite different.

I always thought it was strange that they did not know their hair color. I admit I felt a bit snotty about it and their obsession with being blond. What I never did was compare it to my own hair routine. I defined the straightening of my hair as taming it and keeping it neat and presentable.

What I did not think about was the fact that I do not know what my natural hair texture is. I have straightened my hair or had it straightened since I was around eight to ten. I remember going to a salon in the city, I suspect Baltimore and having to go down steps to enter. I remember being twelve and having it done in a salon. I spent years having it cared for every week. I remember the theme of the black beauty parlor and how much I hated it. For a while my mother found a lovely woman who did hair out of her home. But that was not to last forever.

For a while in college I let it grow. Finally, it became to much and I straightened it again after almost a year. I wish I had left it alone. I had a friend then, a white young male that had little interaction with black people. He assumed my hair would be course like wool. I made him touch it one day when we were walking. He was shocked at how soft and fluffy it was.

But I straightened it again and went through my life defining it as how it would look straight. Long, straight hair. That is all I ever wanted. It was what I never had. It requires work. Weekly salon trips. No walking in the rain. And when I was in my twenties I rejected all of that. I refused to avoid the rain for my hair. I wanted to own my hair.

I started to straighten it myself. That, I considered was ownership.

In a way it was. I did my own hair on my own schedule. It never thrived like it did when I was at the salon. I didn’t have the tools and products to keep it straight and flowing. But, I was tired of salons. I was tired of being teased. When I came home from college my mother took me to one place and they spent the entire time going on about my nappy head and how sensitive I was. I wanted to know why I was paying people money to insult me. I hated the environment. I had nothing to share. It was several hours of torment and by then, I was tired of being the target of vicious tongues and arguing with peoples endless desire to give me curls.

My hair has never thrived under my own care. I can get it looking okay for a few hours. But its never made it past my shoulders before it breaks. I have to keep it back in a bun for work anyway. Eventually, I accepted that long hair was not for me and it was another flaw about myself that I had little control of. In many ways I was thankful that I had given up on my looks long time ago. I’d have driven myself crazy.

But it took my own aging, my mother’s frustrating hair thinning, and an article about black women and their propensity to baldness and hair thinning to make me look at what I was doing. It would take another few months before I gathered the courage to do a simple thing.

I stopped straightening my hair. In that moment I threw away a dream. I would never have the long, straight hair that I desired. In it, I developed another one. Maybe I could grow an amazing curling mane instead. Maybe, because I had abandoned hard core hair processing as a teen and only lightly used straighter every 6-8 weeks, I had not damaged myself beyond repair. Maybe, I could come to like the hair that I had been given.

But, I had never really met that hair.

I remember being very small and my grandmother dragging a brush or comb through my hair. I’d squeal and cry out and she’d scold me for being so tender headed. I remember my babysitter brushing my hair. I remember running from people trying to comb or brush my hair because they so often hurt me. In this, I developed an understanding that I had very bad, nappy, unappealing hair.

But now, as I watch it grow in. I don’t know. If it is dry, it is hard to comb. As a child I am sure it was often dry. Hair care had made many advancements since the 80’s. As I transition from straightened hair into my natural hair, I find that I randomly have dry patches that need to be oiled. If I run a comb through it, it hurts. Once I oil it, it is fine. For you see, my hair is dry not oily.

My natural hair is also thicker. The straightening process is brutal and it strips the outer layer. Hairs are interesting and why it curls seems to depend on the way keratin is deposited over the hair. Straight hair has smooth and even deposits. Curly hair has random, causing the level of curl.

I wash my hair to hydrate it and apply fresh oil. I’ve always found the need to wash ones hair because it gets oily fascinating. I wish my hair got oily. It’d be so much easier to manage. I have the dry hair genetic lottery as well.

All of this means that I am relearning my hair. A few weeks ago, I noticed the hair at the nape of my deck had become longer then it has ever been before.  Its never made it past and inch and it is now the length of my index finger.

I also had to stop brushing it. I gave my brush to my mother. I’ve used a balless pin brush for years because it didn’t catch my hair like ball tipped pin brushes do. Now, I use no brush and stick to a wide tooth comb. Brushes don’t get along with the spiraling curled texture. It will also just encourage the hair to turn into an afro instead of the spirals I am hoping for.

“I don’t brush my hair.” It is an odd thing to say, but true. I also don’t know how I will look in a year or two. How long it will take for me to have a curly mane or an afro of epic proportions.  For now, I pull it back in a bun still and struggle to accept this new look. My hair is no longer neatly slicked back, but softly fluffy. It is still neat but that fluffiness will turn into curls and from there?

Garden Thoughts: Late August

I’ve been savoring my third day off with one more to go after my long, rampage of working. My plants are doing well. I hacked down the tomato plant that was supposed to be a ground cherry. It was a very nice plant but I had placed it in a very poor position for what it turned out to be. I had expected a bush and planted it as if it were a bush. It was in fact a sprawling tomato plant and it smothered some of my carrots and herbs.

I also hacked down the remaining cabbage and romaine plants. It has been to hot and the leaves are no longer pleasant to eat. I’ve asked my mother several times over the last month to do it and she keeps forgetting. I finally took care of it and should be able to plant a bed of winter lettuce.

Tomorrow, the Brussels sprouts are coming down. The sprouts themselves are looking a bit tattered and the plants are very large and in the way. I’m not sure they are worth growing outside of a greenhouse environment for me due to cabbage moths.

I also don’t need 20 tomato plants. I think 10 will do next year.

My attempts to create a garden I could walk through on my deck failed. I’m going to retry next year with more focus on my layout and what we do and do not eat along with what takes up what type of space.