Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Putting puppies to sleep

This is how you get your puppies to sleep. I really couldn't believe this video when my wife sent it to me. Wish I could get our two puppies to mind so well. think I will try singing to them when they start tearing around and we want to sleep. I'll let you know if it works. This is one of those video's that you say "AWWWW" when it is over.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

pellet stove

With skyrocketing oil prices, the cost of heating homes is jumping off the charts. The Department of Energy expects heating bills to be 27 percent higher this winter for people who heat with oil and 41 percent higher for those who heat with natural gas. In cold-winter climates, this number will be closer to 30 percent. What can you do? I say "convert to wood pellet stoves">
This is the new fuel: wood pellets. Instead of logs, pellet stoves burn a renewable fuel made of ground, dried wood and other biomass wastes compressed into pellets. They are some of the cleanest-burning heating appliances available today and deliver high overall efficiency. Because they pollute so little, pellet stoves do not require EPA certification. Most pellet stoves need a little electricity to operate, and can be easily vented through a wall, unlike log-burning stoves.

My latest challenge is converting our home over to a pellet stove heating source. I build a porch addition on to the back of the house, two years ago, and it has had little usage. The floor is about 3 feet up to the main house and it hooks on to the house where the kitchen and the living room are. I put in two walls of used storm windows and a large overhead fan for ventilation. It has a cathedral ceiling as I came off the existing house with a shed roof. The room is about 12 X 24. Coming out of the kitchen onto the porch is a door. The wood stove will sit next to the house in the far corner from the kitchen. I am punching a hole into the wall above the stove which will be into the living room and I will cover this wall opening with a register with a built in fan. My living room opens to the dining room and at the front outside wall there is a small foyer that is open into the parlor/office which also has an opening into the kitchen. The main floor is actually a pretty good circle. I am hoping for a good natural convection air flow to heat the main floor fairly evenly. Upstairs are bedrooms, the laundry and a bath. Getting the warm air up there will be a challenge. I think I will probably have to use the fan on my oil furnace to circulate the air up there or maybe punch a hole in the ceiling in a couple of places and put in floor registers. The return (cold) air will hopefully spill down the stairs.

We were given a wood stove (Breckwell) and it has very little usage. I need to finish the installation of the stove which means: hooking up the vent pipe; putting a 4" hole in the outside wall for the pipe; pluging the stove into a 110 outlet. When I built the addition I put a 4x4 tile area into the corner where the stove was going and I think it is close enough to the outside wall to vent it. This is a fairly ambitious plan but I think it will work.

In anticipation of it working I have been out trying to buy wood pellets. Tractor Supply, which is in Easthampton about 10 miles away, sent us a coupon for a discount on the pellets and time to pay for them. Welllll, we went over to the store on Friday and if I bought them right then and there I could get the discount and I would be on tractor trailer load no. 11 and they don’t even have a confirmed shipping date for truck no. 1 yet. However, if I took them up on the plan to pay 50% down and the balance by Sept. 1st then I would be assigned a truck when the entire amount I was reserving was paid for. Probably tuck #31. I need 2 ton, I think, and so I only bought 1 ton at $246. I came back to Westfield and checked all of our local outlets and they were out of pellets but one of them was taking orders for delivery when the truck comes in for $285. I bought another ton. From there the prices are expected to go sky high. We will see If I have really purchased any pellets or just some blue sky. When I first started seriously investigating this, about one month ago, the cost of pellets were $250/ton and they had them on hand locally. Procrastination really pays off doesn’t it? Keep watching as I will have the up and downs of this experiment hanging out for everyone to see. Photos at 10:00

More Lilies

These are all cemetery Lilies

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Lilies of Easthampton

These are Lilies sent to me by GG of Easthampton. A bit of a Lily herself.

This last one is a bit of a cranky Lily called Magee of Easthampton. My favorite. Thanks for the Pics GG!Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 26, 2008


So who is this? It's the new Batman of course, Terry McGinnis (Batman II, The Tomorrow Knight). This guy has actually been around over in Europe, for the past 8 years, fighting evil. Maybe your more of a "now" movie buff and will want to remember Batman as looking like this portrayal, by the late Heath Ledger

Personally, my preference is with the comic book additions.

These are two more types of Batmans' and after the comics I liked Batman: the Movie and TV

These are 4 batman leading men. See if you can ID who they are? I could not get them all so my daughter helped me. This posting is at the insistence of my Grandson Sam and he provided me with the Batman and Beyond comic book to get me started. We blogged Batman together and we both learned a lot. It was a good experience. Our searching gave us the following information:

  • 1939 First Batman comic book

  • 1966 was "Batman: The Movie" and TV series. You may remember the words "Biff,""Pow", "Thwack" and Robins "Holy _____" Adam West had the lead.

  • 1989 it was the best "Batman" with Michael Keaton and Jack Nickelson as the Joker

  • 1992 "Batman Returns with Michael Keaton

  • 1995 "Batman Forever" played by Val Kilmer

  • 1997 "Batman and Robin" with George Clooney

  • 2008 "The Dark Knight" with the late Heath Ledger

upper left Adam West; upper right Michael Keaton; lower left George Clooney; lower right Val Kilmer.

I have no idea why I posted this but I had so much information after surfing the net, I figured I should unburden myself of some of it. There, I feel better. Now I can sleep tonight.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival

Glascow Lands Scottish Festival

This is the opening ceremony of the Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival that is held in Florence/Northampton MA every year about this time and the time for it was this past Saturday. We all jumped in the family van and headed North for this one. 1st of all we're all Scottish; 2nd of all is that we were involved with the festival a few years ago as vendors; thirdly our daughter Ellen is a member of a dance troupe called "The Small Planet Dancers" and they were performing and I was to take pictures for their website. [actually 3rdly should have been firstly] . The video, you first encountered, when you clicked on this posting, is of the Opening Ceremony last year but I wanted you to have a feel for this festival. I don’t do my own video yet but I need to get moving in that direction as it has a lot to offer. We old 4x5 press camera photographers are a hard lot to change.
The pictures that I took are the following ones of The Small Planet Dancers and my daughter. They needed to be on an entertainment stage not a performance stage as they were with all of the young ladies being judged for dancing skills and their parents. This was their 1st year and were willing to take what they could just to get in. Next year they have been promised advertising and appearance schedule with the other entertainers. The troupe performed very well even if some of them pointed their toes the wrong direction.
We all had brought our portable chairs as we knew it was going to be a long hot day and it was. Temperature was in the 90’s as was the humidity and breathing was tough. I found a nice shady spot between the food venders and set up our chairs, which come complete with attached side table. It was an excellent location to people watch as most of them were in Scottish garb because their was band performances, individual Highland dance, bagpipe and drum competition. A lot of the Clans were represented with tents where you could join, learn, buy clan things or just visit. We were picnicking between the Fireman’s hamburger tent and the ice cream trailer, next to the information booth and across from the fish vendor. The only problem they had was the lack of tents for people to get out of the heat but the night before a microburst hit and wiped out most of the tents, destroying them. Tough on a not-for-profit where all of the money they make is promised to local charities.

If you see an add for a Scottish Festival I highly recommend that you go. If you're not into the dancing you can go watch the various Highland Games, tossing small telephone poles, big rocks, etc.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Yellow Lily

Sometimes the photo op's jump right out at you. This is from our friend GG's side yard where we were visiting this morning. She has about 10 plants and all equally beautiful.
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Friday, July 18, 2008

More Medicare

Ahh, Medicare what a trip. Got an email from them giving me my new secret codes that will allow me to enter and navigate through “My Medicare . gov. The also sent me, the wildly popular pdfs, “My Quick Reference guide” and the equally popular “Dashboard Reference”. They also told me that I have to: go get a physical and take a test for “Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm” which is done with ultrasound but I have to pay 20% of the cost; Have Cardiovascular Screening lab tests; Have the choice of a Colonoscopy, Sigmoidoscopy, or a barium enema [three tough choices I would say]; get Pneumococal pneumonia vaccine; Digital rectal exam [Whoopie]; Diabetes screening. Sounds like they want to catch it early whatever it is.

Stopped out at my Dr’s office this morning to get things started. Found out my PA is no longer there and there are only Nurse Practitioners [all female], and Drs. there now. Scaled back the size of their service. The earliest I could get an appointment was August 20th. Our dog groomer is about 3 months out so when you put it in perspective I guess 1 month isn’t real bad.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Road Trip

My son-in-law was in need of a cap for his short bed pickup but they needed to haul their two big dogs around such as taking them to the dog park and to the river for a swim. They just got rid of their Jeep, which worked good for hauling the dogs, but daughter teaches about ¼ block from their house and son Sam is starting there in the fall. They really don’t need a second vehicle, especially a 4x4 gas-guzzler.

We all figured that the two dogs would do a number on the cap so we decided on a used one. I started looking online and on Craig’s List I found one that would fit in Greenfield MA about 50 miles away. My Daughter called and found out it was about what we needed and the guy only wanted $10 bucks for it but later said “If you will come and get it out of his yard we could have it for free!” ROAD TRIP!!!!!!

We had a few problems scheduling the trip but two days later we headed out in the late afternoon for our adventure in Greenfield. Only my Daughter and I could get the time to go. Thank God! Usually when we have a trip like this the whole family has to go, which would have meant two vehicles and we would have just overwhelmed these poor people up in Greenfield.

We found the house and met the couple and their cats [4 or 5 as best as I could count]. She explained that she had decided to be a rescue house for stray kittens last year but they quickly overwhelmed her and then when they had to give up the baby kittens it was too much so this year she is holding them at arms length. Had a couple of dogs, in the back yard, so we all understood each other. Kinda talked the same language and all. Anyway, we liked the free topper, so I gave him $20 for it? It was about the same color as the pickup, and we clamped it down on Michael’s pickup ready to head out again but that isn’t the end of the story,
We got talking with this couple about everything and I said that Michael was from South Dakota, heck we all were, and the conversation switched to 2000 miles to the west. Seems like Bill, topper owner, spent a year out in Rapid City, out of High School, because he had family in the Air Force at Ellsworth AFB. He just hung out having fun in the beautiful Black Hills. It turns out that his cousin married some guy from Sturgis [our home town] and moved to the Denver area to live happily ever after. Well, don’t you know, her husband and I graduated from High School together, all 112 of us. It really is a small world. This is the reason that all of us go on these adventures together. The rest of them missed it and we could have had a picnic or something.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rescue Dog

This past weekend our Grandson Sam, daughter, son-in-law, Boo [Black Lab] and Randy [Golden Doodle] all headed over to a favorite Dog Park in Connecticut. After some intense playtime they took the dogs around back, where there is a river, so that the dogs can swim. Really it is only Boo that swims [as you can tell by the picture]

and when you look at the picture of Randy standing in the river you could say that “Randy doesn’t like swimming” and hit the nail right on the head because this is a photo of Randy’s best effort. This is as good as it gets.

Sam usually jumps right in and swims with the dogs. On this day Sam was walking in and not paying attention where he was and walked off the edge of the stream where it gets deep. He got tangled up somehow and was thrashing a bit. Boo immediately spotted Sam in trouble, jumped in and swam out to Sam and then circled him to get close so Sam could grab his collar. He then swam to shore bringing Sam back in. Kind of dog you want with you when you have kids and water, don’t you think?

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Fenway Franks

Saturday Sam, his Mom and Step Dad all took a bus to Fenway park and got to watch the Red Sox trounce the Orioles 12 to 1 and took the division lead at the break. They got to watch 4 homeruns and one of them be a Grand Slam. Best of all [according to me] they watched Tim Wakefield do his magic on the Orioles batters.
Best of all [according to them] was they got to devour 3 Fenway Franks. Upon leaving they got mixed up and couldn’t find their bus. Finally after a one-mile sprint [according to them] they got hooked up and made it home safe and sound. A great time was had by all.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Red Roses

Beautiful roses from our "Most Prolific" rose garden
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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Medicare trials

I am now and truly an “Old Man”. Today I signed up for Medicare! What an experience that has been. Naturally I procrastinated it and refused to read anything about it until these past few days. My birthday is in June and apparently I was supposed to do all of this 3 months ago. The System assumes that there are lots of people out there, just like me, Super Procrastinators I believe we are called by the non procrastinating world. To those of you non-procrastinators I tip my hat to you and congratulate you. BUT [and here I go off on a tangent again, sorry] there is no word for you! There is no word for non procrastinators or non-procrastinators. Nada, zippo, zilch, nil. I searched the world over and found lots of web sites for non procrastinators and they all had lots of advertising to help us procrastinators clean up and organize our lives but none of them had a word for non-procrastinator. I even found a posting on a blog, called Speak Schmeak where the blogger asked the same question and asked the bloggers of the world to help her out with the word. One of the comments on the Blog said “I've been looking for this one too for a long time. I thought of "justdoitor"... But we need a word that is inspiring. What about Proactor or Protractor?” I like Protractor best.

Back to my post. I read everything I had been sent in the mail these past few months. AARP and Blue Cross had the most material and I even talked with those people I knew that were Medicarers already and found out what they did. There was no consensus I found out. Every help number that I called was actually staffed by thinly veiled salespeople only interested in selling their product so they were of little help. When I called the Social Security office out in Kansas City I got a very nice young lady that helped me through the process of signing up. Medicare A went into effect on June 1 and Medicare B goes into effect on July 1. I have chosen Medex Bronze from Blue Cross and their prescription plan for my part D. I am still working and I get health insurance from my employer. By going on Medicare I will save them money and hopefully they will keep me around, at least another year, so I can get retirement benefits.

I originally wrote this post on June 1st and today is July 12th. I think that qualifies me as a “Super Procrastinator”, as previously mentioned.

Of all of the websites I visited, people I talked to, mail I opened and read and the two people that gave me the most help were: 1] our local SHINE {Serving the Health Information Needs of Elders}; 2] Local Social Security Office. Both calls resulted in talking with people who cut through everything and gave you the straight scoop. Your SS office is in the phone book and Goggle SHINE to see if you have a state program. The Shine Lady also suggested I look into our State Veterans programs and VA programs and visit our local Veterans Officer to see if I might be eligible for any of their programs. Well, Glory Be, I am. Our local Soldiers Home maintains a cadre of Drs., techs, Nurses, etc., etc. and it is only about 10 miles away. I can use all of the facilities including the pharmacy. The VA maintains facilities about 15 miles away and I am also eligible for their services. These facilities maintain eye, hearing and tooth services. To check on my eligibility for State and Federal programs I first needed my DD214 to prove that I truly was who and what I said I was and naturally I misplaced my copies. Fortunately there was plenty of help on line to solve that and yesterday copies of my DD214 arrived in the mail. Both the state and VA want to get to know me on a more intimate detail and require physicals. My Gap insurance wants a physical also. I don’t know if I have enough “good” blood to get three physicals? Hopefully they all find the same things wrong with me and they prescribe a generic drug to solve the problem.

Yesterday I used my drug card for the 1st time as I got my prescription for Detrol LA. My co pay was $24 as it is a “Tier 2” drug. I used to pay $25 for it so that’s a good thing but I was hoping that it would be $4. Maybe, if I get into the veterans system it will be free. Hoping against hope you say.

Today I got my official Blue Cross and Blue Shield card identifying me as a card carrying MEDEX plan holder [This Medicare thing just doesn’t stop giving]. Now I carry my MEDICARE [part A and Part B] card; My MEDEX [part C] card; my Blue MEDICARE Rx [part D] card; My VA card and I am sure I will get a State Veterans card soon. None-the-less, I think I can now, safely, go out and get in a car accident and be properly covered. I should also make a copy of my medications and carry it with the cards, just to be on the safe side.
More to follow on this, I’m sure. Stay healthy and young.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Two blonds were in a parking lot trying to unlock the door of their Mercedes with a coat hanger. They tried and tried to get the door open, but they couldn't. The girl with the coat hanger stopped for a moment to catch her breath, and her friend said anxiously, "Hurry up! It's starting to rain and the top is down."

A blond police officer pulls over a blond gal in a convertible sports car for speeding. She walks up to the car and asks the blond for her driver's license.
The blond convertible driver searches through her purse in vain. Finally she asks, "What does it look like?"
The blond police officer tells her, "It's that thing with your picture on it."
The blond driver searches for a few more seconds, pulls out her compact, opens it and sure enough, sees herself. She hands the compact to the blond cop.
After a few seconds looking at the compact, the blond cop rolls her eyes, hands the compact back to the blond convertible driver and says, "If you would have told me you were a police officer when I first pulled you over, we could have avoided this whole thing."

Now that I have got every ones attention, I just wanted to pass on my latest observation. I have made an informal, unscientific, survey of the drivers and passengers in convertibles here in Western Massachusetts. If there is not a female in the car then I don't count it in the survey. I have noticed that almost every convertible that I see has a blond in it and I would guess that it is about 90% blonds. What is up with that? There are all sorts of conjecture that I could say to the results of this survey but I won't. I am going to keep on observing but maybe in a more scientific format. I would urge my readers to do the same and report their results here, in a comment. Maybe there is something to this phenomenon. I don't know as I am just saying......
I'm Baaack!