Continuing The Z Theme.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Entertainment,Pictures | Thursday 17 September 2009 2:17 pm

Seems to be the day for all things Zombie… they just keep shambling into my online surfing path.

Zombie shooting range targets, including the recently popular Nazi soldier theme.

Zombie Range Target

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Nightmare On Yeast Street.

Posted by DmentD | Cooking,Coolness,Domestica,Entertainment,Links,Pictures | Wednesday 9 September 2009 11:07 am

My darling, dear, wonderfully odd wife has created a new mission for herself… to instigate the spread of a growing blob-like creature to the four corners of the Earth!

Wait… four corners?  Of a sphere?  Who comes up with this crap?

Anyway, about a year ago Sweets as part of her coursework at the TCA, created a sourdough starter from scratch and it’s been living and growing in our fridge ever since.  Its name is Bready Kruger, and he’s a happy, bubbling, alcohol producing amorphous mass of goo.

Bready Kruger

Her concept is this: send small portions of Bready Kruger to friends and family (and strangers) to grow and use and make bread from — a strong, healthy starter is a thing of wonder, and a good path to having a healthy starter of your own (and a hell of a lot easier than making one yourself).  Everyone we send it to will be represented by a pin on a map.  We’re encouraging these folks to in turn send a portion of Bready Kruger to their friends, family and strangers, then report back to us so we can put a pin in the map.  Etc, etc, etc.

It’ll be amusing and awesome to watch the map slowly populate with pins as Bready Kruger starts traveling the world.

Go HERE to read Sweet’s post and get all the details if you’re interested in participating.  The map lives as a link on the sidebar of both Sweet’s site and mine.

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Peppery Bloom.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Domestica,Links,Pictures | Friday 4 September 2009 12:01 am

Miraculously, we managed to succeed in a few of our fumbling attempts to grow veggies and herbs earlier in the year.  While still considering it a learning period, it’s nice to have had some good results.

The most notable of the victories (so far… there’s still time to screw it all up!) are our pepper plants — jalapeño and bell pepper varieties.  We sprouted six of each, and all but one jalapeño seedling made it to the final potting stage.  After much research we found that pepper plants would thrive for years in a 4 – 5 gallon pot, and shooting for economy over aesthetics (planning on a dozen plants, dontchaknow) we opted for simple, cheap at $2.50 a piece, 5 gallon buckets.  With drain holes drilled in the bottom, they make the perfect planter, and they’re easy to move around the yard for repositioning.

Pepper Seedlings

Once the seedlings acclimated to being outside and living in a good sized planter, they took off and grew like mad!  About a month ago we started seeing flower buds appear on the jalapeño plants, and soon after a few white blooms popped open.  One by one, the entire bloom and stalk would wither and drop off (aka “blossom drop”).  This could be from a number of things, most notably a lack of pollination.  Peppers (and tomatoes) are self pollinating plants, needing little help from outside influence, but if the plants are in a sheltered area with little wind and there are no wandering insects to lend a hand, then pollination more often than not won’t happen.

After a little research I found that one can apply a q-tip to the inside of the bloom the spread the pollen about, and it actually seemed to work.  After faithfully diddling each new bloom every day (henceforth know as “plantsturbation”)  I had two jalapeños starting to grow and very little blossom drop.  After a week or so of no new peppers appearing I did a little more research… I had a sneaking suspicion that the q-tip method was a little heavy handed.

Turns out, there is a much simpler method (actually, two, but they amount to the same thing).  The consensus is that a vigorous shaking of the plant and/or flicking the bloom with your finger is more than sufficient to shake the pollen off the stamens and onto the stigma.  It also takes a hell of a lot less time.  I even found a helpful video, too.  Now, we have a bunch of jalapeños growing on several different plants, and a ton of flowers all around.

Jalapeno PlantsJalapeno BloomJalapeno GrowingJalapeno GrowingJalapeno Growing

The bell peppers are being shy… only two of the dozens of buds have opened, and one of them has dropped off (this was before I learned the shake/flick technique).  I feel that they are gonna start popping any day now.

Bell Pepper PlantsBell Pepper Flower Buds

Our biggest failures from the beginning have to be the herbs.  We planned on having eight or so different varieties, and as time went on they just didn’t fare well.  I estimate that the problem was two-fold — first, the craptacular starter kits that we bought that just kept the environment far too wet, which resulted in a lot of mold killing off seedlings and hampering root development, and second, that we didn’t transplant the seedlings soon enough after their initial growth in the seeding trays.

The only survivors were a few really stunted chives, parsley and basil.  Not ones to give up, we went ahead an planted them anyway and did what all good parents do when the family hamster dies… we bought replacements from the store before the kids could notice the missing rodent.  The store-bought plants took off while our gimpy herbs just sorta’ survived.  Gradually, though, we noticed that our herbs were actually starting to grow… the lone basil seedling grew into such a large bush that it overtook the sweet basil that we bought.  What the parsley lacks in abundance, it makes up for with strength and the chives, while sparse, are frigging gorgeous.

Chives

Next year, we’re hoping to use what we learned and bring our herbs up to full strength and numbers.

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Snakes On A Dog.

Posted by DmentD | Aggravation,Friends,Pictures,Stress | Thursday 3 September 2009 12:13 pm

Two of my dog family here in Austin — Niece Cleo and Nephew Puck — were both bitten by a baby rattlesnake last night.  On the face.  How humiliating… that little reptile punk didn’t even have the stones to wage a fair fight, so he had to resort to sucker punching them.

They’ve undergone treatments of anti-venom and after a scary-as-hell night, seem to be recovering.  I’m hoping for the absolute best.  For the moment though, I offer this as a response to the whole situation:

Snakes On A Dog

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Fall Seedlings.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Domestica,House,Pictures | Thursday 3 September 2009 12:00 am

We’ve started sprouting the seedlings for our fall garden planting (with all the heat and drought here, the fall is the primary growing season… not to mention that the fall weather is mild, and the season is comparatively long).  We have in mind to plant tomatoes (Heatwave Hybrd II — which is a short season, full size tomato that can withstand temperatures up to 95 degrees), onions (Yellow Granex — which is the same variety Vidalia onions are grown from), garlic, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

We planted the seeds ten days ago, and learning from our previous efforts we improved our methods.  First and foremost, we abandoned the commercial seedling-growing kits with all the trays and starter soils and such — you don’t need ’em.  You just need a shallow tray with some enriched soil (the same stuff we’ve been planting all our vegetables in when they make it to the garden or pots).  We planted four times as many seeds as we needed plants as some seeds never sprout, and some seedlings never develop into proper plants.  The seeds need to be kept moist, but not drowned, and for that we employ a spray bottle set between mist and jet, and saturated the surface daily.  Keep them near a sunny window and wait.

Onion & Tomato SeedlingsTomato SeedlingsOnion Seedlings

Once they break ground, fully develop their first two leaves  and grow to a decent height of an inch or so, you then transplant them to individual small pots — or in our case, we take brown paper bags from the grocery store and cut them into strips, then using a plastic (Mardi Gras style) cup as a form, we wrap them around and fasten them with tape… and viola, off pops the perfect biodegradable planter that not only recycles a free (!) existing resource, but can in turn be recycled when you’re done.  You can also use newspaper, but I’m wary of the ink, myself… and some people slit the sides of the paper planter and plant them along with the seedling… we prefer to tear them away keep them out of the ground.

Broccoli SeedlingsBroccoli SeedlingsBrussels Sprouts SeedlingBrussels Sprouts Seedlings

The broccoli and Brussels sprouts took precisely a week to sprout and get big enough to transplant.  This was a huge improvement over the previous attempt in the spring in the commercial trays.  There was a night and day difference in the root development, too… a definite change for the better.

When transplanting them, we cull the seedlings down to twice as many as we need for the final planting and plant them deep, so that just the leaves are above ground.  Now we wait.  Each plant is different, but anywhere between 4 and 8 weeks, we should get most of them into the ground.  Once we’re ready to plant them proper, we’ll see if we can find good homes for the extra seedlings amongst our friends.

We’re considering this our “learning curve” year for gardening.  I’m shocked we’ve done as well as we have, and no matter how smart you think you are, you’re always going to learn better by screwing it up at first and figuring out how to fix it.

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Four Birthdays & Beatles Drum.

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Links,Pictures | Wednesday 2 September 2009 12:45 pm

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Ancient History.

Posted by DmentD | Entertainment,Friends,Pictures,Rambling,Reflection | Wednesday 2 September 2009 11:59 am

Well, hell… I thought all evidence of me in the prehistoric “PB” era (Pre Beard) had been eradicated by my minions and the cleansing effects of Katrina.

Guess not.

So, before these pictures are used against me as some unsavory method of blackmail, I’ve decided to post them for the public record — because nobody is better at making a fool out of you than yourself.

My long-time friend Hitch dug these up (thanks a lot, man… like I needed a reminder of my larval stage of existence, and how old I’m getting these days) and posted them to Facebook, but since I vehemently refuse to drink that particular flavor of Kool-Aid, he emailed them to me so that I could swoon lightheadedly and have a good laugh.

The first three pictures seem to be from a costume-like event… let’s call it Halloween, because my crusty memory refuses to call up the actual facts.  In this first picture, you see a young, clean-shaven me on the left… apparently laughing forward through the years at the decrepit me looking at this picture now, as if to to say “holy crap, look at all that gray hair, you furry freak!”  To my right is MiltiMix, with his long-lost full head of hair.  We’re both considerably thinner than we are now… in fact, EVERYONE is thinner in these pictures than they are now.

Ah, here we get a better picture of the outfit… my ever-present (at the time) round flip-up sunglasses and pea coat — I was a frequent Army Surplus customer in those years — no less than three mock weapons, and a pair of handcuffs.  Jeebus, I’ve never been that skinny since.  That’s Hitch in the red robes and hockey mask.  He was one of the very few people who helped keep my very violent temper in check in those days… as tall as I was, he had me by almost half-a-head and 50+ pounds, and it took a big guy like that to keep me from being an idiot.  Mostly.

Gah!  Who let that ugly broad in here?!  Wait… that’s no broad, that’s Michigan’s favorite son, James the I/O Master.  Not much of an improvement, mind you.

The cheesy mustache era!  May it go back to the grave, never to terrorize the good people of Earth ever again.  That’s Hitch on the left (sans mask and robes), Susan on the right, and me second from the right (sorry dude, second from the left, but my brain ejected your name and replaced it with Cowboy Mouth lyrics about 10 years ago).

And one last throwback to the CM era. *hangs head in shame* I  think I overcompensate now by only shaving every other week or so.

To you, my unsuspecting readers, there is only one response to these pictures…

… and one last sentiment to impart from an old fart like me …

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Whatchoo Looking At?

Posted by DmentD | Links,Pictures,Rambling | Friday 3 July 2009 10:21 am

This seems to have been the week for being watched by dogs.  Not in the “furtive glance then look away ’cause hey there’s a squirrel!” kind of way, but in the “I’ve got my eye on you boyo, so watch your step” way.

The first was a pair of pooches in a truck at the post office.  There they were, sitting like humans — butt flat on the seat, leaning back — and calmly watching me walk back to my truck.  Their heads swiveled in unison to follow me, like a pair of sunflowers tracking the path of the sun.  Not once did they stir, not once did they bark, not once did they blink,  not once did they take their eyes off me until I had pulled away and entered traffic.  It was an eerie ghost twins in The Shining moment.

The StaredownThe StaredownThe Staredown

The second was a big ‘ol boy with his head out the window at a stoplight.  The light had just turned red, and we were going to be there for a few minutes.  This fellah’ sat there with his mug stuck out, and just watched me.  Nothing on the face of this earth could pull his attention away from me — not a cat, not another human in another car, not the other dog in the car with him that was methodically gnawing his hind leg off.  He even barked at me for having the audacity of pulling away from him when the light changed.

Happy Staredown

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Homework.

Posted by DmentD | Domestica,House,Pictures | Friday 3 July 2009 10:05 am

We’ve finally scratched two projects off our “house to-do” list.  One of them has been underway since the house was bought over a year ago — the kitchen cabinets.  Slowly, but surely they’ve undergone a transformation: the old dated doors and hardware were removed, the cabinets were painted on the inside with a nice goldenrod color, and the cabinets faces were stained and sealed a nice dark walnut.  Within the last few months I built new doors, stained and sealed them, and installed them.  The upper cabinets have reeded glass in them, and the lower cabinets have solid panels painted to match the interior of the cabinets themselves.  Add in some modern (and not painted-over *grrr*) hinges and handles, and you’ve got a clean, modern-looking set of cabinets that add to the beauty of the kitchen, rather than detracting from it.

Project - Kitchen Cabinet GlassProject - Kitchen Cabinet GlassProject - Kitchen Cabinet Glass

Another project that was looming was the demolition of about 30′ of fence that the previous occupant had added on, but which was over the property line (and along its run, veered further and further onto the neighbor’s property).  I was informed last year by the owner of the neighboring property that while I didn’t have to do anything about it right now, that one day she was either going to sell her place, or she was gonna die and her kids were gonna sell it, and that the new owners would want that fence dealt with… so I should be warned, and maybe take care of it when I could.

A few weeks back, a for-sale sign went up, and I knew my time had run out.  So, I demolished the “new” run of fence back to where it was tacked on to the original fence, and added a gate — which wasn’t there before, and was a source of my ever-burning ire.  The project only took two days (in the dry, blistering over-100 degree heat… which made it feel like a week!), and I was able to put in galvanized posts, rather than wood, to support the gate.  All told, it looks damned good, and I thank my brothers for teaching me everything I know about fence/gate/deck building, as that knowledge came in mighty handy.  I even made the panel to the side of the gate removable, just in case I needed to get something wider than 4′ through.

Project - New GateProject - New Gate

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Butterfly Book Cake.

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Links,Pictures | Wednesday 20 May 2009 11:43 am

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