Category Archives: Gardening

A work weekend at Casa Poolman

This was a work weekend around Casa Poolman. It seems like every weekend for the past several weeks, Mrs. Poolman and I have determined that we would get a few things done around the house. And every weekend, we allow ourselves to be distracted for all or part of our planned work-time. (Funny how that happens.)   This weekend, I took Friday off so there would be no question we would be working. Here was the “to-do” list, and how successful we were.

  • Mow lawn – I’ll do it later in the week
  • Change oil and air filter on lawn mower – done
  • Rake patio area and spread mulch (big job) – done
  • Fertilize vegetables and install tomato cages – done
  • Wash outside of windows and window sills – not done
  • Dust house especially venetian blinds – not done
  • Trim low branches of oak tree over patio – done
  • Clean patio pavement – done
  • Place umbrellas in stands at tables – done
  • Clean rat “poop” in attic  (another big and very unpleasant job) – done (See earlier posts about our rodent issues.)
  • Brush and wash dogs – done
  • Cut down dead bushes in courtyard – not done

We didn’t get it all done, but I’m feeling pretty good. (By the way, I love making lists. The only thing I like more is to cross things off.)

This is what the patio area of the back yard looks like to start the summer season.

The back yard at Casa Poolman

The back yard at Casa Poolman

In addition, I removed the pool cover (86 degrees as of this morning) and vacuumed, backwashed, and adjusted chemicals. I also updated the check book and paid couple of bills.

And let’s not forget out multiple trips to Ace Hardware for more mulch.

First trip – 6 bags (We grossly underestimated.)

Second trip – 8 bags (“What? You’re back again?”)

Third trip – 4 bags (“You guys really can’t count, can you?”)

In the past, I have described my less-than-successful efforts to grow tomatoes and other veggies. Since we clearly do not learn from past experience, we are trying again this year. We bought a pre-fab raised bed kit at Home Depot to create our little 4 ft x 4 ft effort at agriculture. It contains several bags of potting and planting soil, three tomato plants and two pepper plants, and a little cinaltro. (Total outlay to date — approximately $1.5 million.)

The Poolman garden

The Poolman garden

I have it placed where it gets a lot of sun, but is shaded in the very late afternoon. I really hope we get some produce out of it this year. I’ll keep you informed.

Paris — Day Six, Arc, Champs Elysees. Orangerie

This was a busy day. Monday is day three on our four-day museum passes. Tomorrow, we are headed to Versailles, so today was the last chance to hit some of the paid-admission attractions by using our passes.

We started the day by riding the Metro half way up the Champs Elysees and then strolling the rest of the way to the Arc de Triomphe.  We took the elevator to the top, where the view was very nice. We have been blessed with sunny weather ever since the third day here.

Back down the Champs Elysees and the Metro and a breeze-through visit to the l’Orangerie museum. This is a relatively small art museum, but is packed with Monet’s Water Lilies and a bunch of paintings from other impressionists, like Renoir, Modigliani, Cezanne and Picasso. Mrs P wasn’t so sure about this stop. But afterwards she said “That was really cool!” Chalk up one win for the Poolman!

Back on the Metro. Next stop, Ile de la Cite. We wanted to visit the archaeological crypt at Notre Dame but it was closed on Monday. Our next planned visit was to be the chuch of Sainte Chapelle. However the line was around the block and wasn’t moving.

So, lunch time!

We got some sandwiches and pastries from a walk-up lunch stand and took the food to some benches along the Seine. Lovely scene. Lovely weather. Even the begger-pigeons contributed to the ambience. Not too shabby. Pics below.

After lunch, we hiked through the Latin Quarter to the Pantheon. I was not overwhelmed, but BIL really wanted to see Foucault’s pendulum. It was pretty cool.

The best part for me was the church next door, St Etienne du Mont. The steps on the side of this church was where a key scene in one of my favorite movies, Midnight in Paris, was shot. Owen Wilson’s icharacter, Gil Pender, is reclining on those steps at midnight when a 1920s era cab picks him up and carries him back to the 1920s where he meets F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Picasso, Hemmington, Dali and a bunch of other characters. I waited on the steps but no one came to pick me up. Of course, that was four in the afternoon, not midnight. Maybe I should go back later.

After that a stop at Monop for supplies and back to the apartment for the night.

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We have logged a lot of trips on the Metro.

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Mrs P and me on the Champs Elysees

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The view from the top

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Our merry band back on the ground

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The sisters near Musee de l'Orangerie

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Picnicing by the Seine

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The none-too-shabby view from our picnic bench.

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Back up at street level.

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Pantheon

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We be pooped.

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BIL and SIL watching the pendulum.

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St. Etienne du Mont

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Let the summer begin!

We had a pretty slow, nothing-weekend, which was just great.

Both Mrs. Poolman and I had a four-day break –mine courtesy of two furlough days. The most exciting thing we did was to have some friends over on Monday for a pool-hamburger-and-brats “start of summer” party. We invited some folks who are not part of our usual group.  Mrs. P and I both agree we need to expand our social circle a little. We love our friends, but sometimes it seems we get into a rut.

I was talking with the husband of one of the “new” couples. His wife is another of our CCD teachers. They moved to Savannah two years ago and have not made friends as quickly as they would have liked.  We both agreed that it can be tough when you are our age (50s). In many cases, people who might seem like good prospects for friendship are already set in their social circle and aren’t really in the market for new friends. I seem to remember this being part of a Seinfeld routine at one point.

“Sorry, you seem like very nice people, but we really don’t have any current job openings for new friends.”

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On Tuesday, we did our good-deed of the week. One of our neighbor’s father broke his hip and is hospitalized. As Mrs. P says, “In the South, when there is a problem, we take food.” So I made up a double batch of chicken enchiladas and we took one casserole over to their house.

This is a pretty good recipe I blatantly stole from a flier attached to a can of El Paso Chopped Green Chilis. Muy bueno! We are eating our casserole tonight, so I’ll have photos of the cooked and served product. I’ll post the recipe tomorrow.

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And, it looks like my tomatoes might do well this year. Last summer’s batch really didn’t thrive, because (I think) they didn’t get enough sun.

Just getting started...

This year, I planted them in containers and can move them around as needed. It’s still too early to be getting any fruit, but five of the six plants are growing and appear health.

Our fingers are crossed.

Easter Weekend

We had a furlough day on Friday, so this was a three day weekend. That was fortunate, because we never would have been able to cram it all into two days.

Mrs. Poolman worked on Friday, gave me a day at home alone, which was a nice break. I love my wife, and I love doing things with her, but sometimes having a day entirely to myself is a nice change of pace. I didn’t get as much accomplished as I intended, but that is the same song stuck on re-play. I started with a trip to the doctor’s to get an antibiotic for my three-week old cold-turned-bronchitis. Having taken steps to get rid of the bacteria in my chest, I then spent the better part of the afternoon trying to clear a virus off my home computer. I also fixed the garage door opener.

As non-mechanical as I am, I am, as always, proud of myself for fixing the garage door opener.  The problem was that the door kept “bouncing” back open and it usually took three or four tries to get the door to stay down. We had our handy guy install a new opener about a year ago. I have no idea whatever happened to the directions and trouble-shooting guide. So, knowing as little about automatic garage door openers as I do, I thought about the problem.

“Suppose the door ‘thinks’ the end of its track is actually an inch or two lower than it is, and so when it hits the floor, it actually ‘thinks’ it is hitting an obstacle,” I thoughts to myself.

Lo and behold, when I examined the door, I discovered an adjustment screw. I adjusted the screw back about an inch. Now the opener ‘thinks’ it is at the end of its track when it hits the floor. It stays down. Someone who actually knows how garage door openers work would probably say, “duh, dummy.” For me however, I have once again fought the mechanical dragon and prevailed. A moment of triumph!

I made Mrs. P a dinner of saute’d tilapia filets, sweet potato fries (frozen) and a salad for dinner, for which she was most appreciative.

On Saturday, despite still trying to cough up a lung, I attacked the incredible amount of biomass that has fallen in our yard. We have a fairly large corner lot, with a number of sweet gum and oak trees.

Just a few of the piles, before bagging

An unsuccessful attempt to add an extra layer of protection against a blister under my work glove.

With the amount of crap that falls from those trees in the spring, we really could go into the alternative energy business. Poolboy came over and helped a little. Mrs. P did some work in the back yard. However, it was mostly Poolman vs. The Leaves. I ran out of both steam and time before I ran out of leaves, but there are still 41 bags of leaves stacked by the curb and awaiting pick-up later this week.

A solid day's work

Earlier this year, a friend of mine who is joining the church asked me to be his sponsor. It didn’t require much on my part, bit it did require our attending the Easter Vigil mass Saturday night. It was a very nice liturgy, and a big event for David and his family. But it was also more than two hours long. No big deal.

On Sunday, Mrs. Poolman and I had been planning to drive to Jacksonville for a lunch with her two sisters, along with various other family members. Somewhat to our surprise, Poolboy, Writer Princess and SIL wanted to come along. All five of us crammed into my Accord and made the trip. We had beautiful weather; a very nice lunch; and lots of “visiting.”  We got back home around 9 pm. I took a half-dose of Nyquil and hit the bed.

“Bend over,” a treasure trove found, and a small success

I had a physical exam yesterday. There was nothing wrong, just something you need to do from time to time. My family physician is woman in her 30’s. As I am no longer a youth, of course the exam included the dreaded prostate exam. Prostate 3I guess most guys would rather die a thousand deaths than have a prostate exam, let alone one by a woman doctor. Actually, it didn’t concern me much one way or another. My doc does have a sense of humor though. As she was gloving and lubing up, she said.

“You know, there are advantages to having this done by a woman. I have small hands!”

Ha! She was right.

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Both Mrs. Poolman and I are avid readers. I read fiction for entertainment and occasional non-fiction, usually history or politics, for knowledge and stimulation. The problem is that I am basically cheap. I want to read the new bestseller, but I hate dishing out $30 for a new hardback. My solution is the library. We have a branch of the county library system around the corner from us. I won’t say I’m there often, but when I do walk in the door, the librarians know me by name. The problem is that the county library has only a very limited selection of what you would consider popular selections. Usually you have to order them and get on a reserve list. You can’t really “browse” like you might in a Barnes & Noble or Borders.

In the past few days, however, I have struck readers-gold. Library aI discovered a community library near where I work that is stocked with tons of the popular authors. Some background – the research lab where I worked is located on a coastal island, most of the rest of which is taken up by an upscale, gated golf community with roughly 8,000 residents. This community library is located in the little shopping area near their front gate. I believe that most of their collection is comprised of books donated by the community residents. And it is well stocked. For example, our neighborhood library may have three or four volumes of John Grisham’s novels. This library has more like 30.  Plus, they have a great selection of audiobooks on CD which I like to use on road trips.

I think I’m in love.

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We have finally achieved tomatoes! Tomatoes aThree and a half months after planting them, my tomato plants have finally put forth some edible fruit. There aren’t many of them and they are small, but they are fresh from the garden. Next year I really do need to find a planting spot that will get more direct sun.

X-rated gardening

I have to confess. I have not been faithful to my wife. I have been spreading the pollen around to ones other than Mrs. Poolman. Funny thing – she doesn’t mind. The secret is out. I have been having sex with my tomato plants. Tomato 1

It’s been more than 20 years since I had a serious garden, but this year, I thought I would try some tomatoes. I planted these babies in mid-May. They have had plenty of water and fertilizer. I think I’m still missing two key ingredients. The first is enough strong sunlight. I thought I picked a good place to plant them, but I may have been wrong. Too much shade. Right now I’m looking at five plants, all a leggy five to six feet tall, but with only a few blossoms and maybe six small, green tomatoes.Tomato 2

The other thing that is missing is bees. We haven’t had a bunch of them this summer. I’m not exactly a horticultural expert, but as best I understand, the tomato plants need the bees to cross pollinate the plants. Otherwise, you get all flowers and no fruit. That’s where the tomato sex comes in. I don’t know if it actually works, but the idea is that you use your finger to rub the flowers from one plant to another, spreading the pollen among the plants as you go. Tomato 4

I hope it works, because Mrs. Poolman and I dearly love home-grown summer tomatoes. She’ll even forgive the temporary unfaithfulness for a fresh tomato sandwich.

Was it good for you my darling?