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Our garden continues to produce.  On Tuesday, Sylvia harvested a few jalapeños from our four plants.  (They are more like bushes.)


This bucket was nearly full.  A layer of bell peppers filled it to the rim.  That evening she gave away six dozen jalapeños.  We still had a bit over half of the original amount.  This was from one day’s harvest–we don’t harvest everyday.  This single “haul” was more than we would reap in a normal year from four plants.  Organic fertilizer works wonders.

One plant remains and it is loaded.  We are looking forward to fresh jalapeños in November.  We’ve never done that before.

Replacement Windows

Yesterday the construction crew returned to finish the job of replacing all the windows in this house.  Only a small amount of work remained.  In about an hour they had finished their work, cleaned up the work area, took my check and hit the road.  Thanks guys!  Good job, well done.

Sylvia and I will have to put on the finishing touches.  She’ll paint and I’ll shorten and install window blinds.

Ladies of the Night Sky

Last night was beautiful.  The weather was warm and the sky was clear.  I looked up at Venus as she made her way toward the western horizon.  She had sisters with her–the ones that we call the Pleiades.  With camera on tripod, I used a 30-second exposure to capture the scene.

Venus and the Pleiades

Venus and the Pleiades

At first glance, I saw only six of the seven (Pleiades) sisters. Celaeno, the dimmest of the lot is there midway between Taugeta and Electra on the right.  (See it here.)

You may detect some motion in the photo.  There was some.  During the thirty seconds that the shutter was open, the camera moved over eight miles.  (An angular rotation of 450 seconds of arc)

As I was completing my shoot, other ladies of the night passed by not forty feet from me.  They were the female deer that we see regularly.  It was the little bit extra.  Like whipped cream atop your hot chocolate.

My mind was on another lady.  Not a lady of the night, but a lady at all times.  I’m talking about my lovely bride, Sylvia.  I went back in the house, put the camera on my desk and took a seat beside my wife.  We spent the next hour talking about the day and about a hundred other things.  On that high note, I ended my day.

Sylvia Hits the Ceiling

The project started last week in the guest room.  It’s a continuation of the work Sylvia has been doing on the ceilings.  It involves wetting the “cottage cheese” that the builder installed, and when it has softened, scraping the bumpy, lump plaster off.  This leaves a smooth finish on the ceiling and results in a room that seems much brighter.

Work has begun on the guest room ceiling.

This week, attention has shifted to the other end of the house.  The dining room and kitchen were Sylvia’s Monday/Tuesday targets.  Wednesday, she did some clean up in those rooms and moved into the dining area.  She had to stop before finishing.

This morning in the dining area.

Looks kind of bare, doesn’t it?  After breakfast, we cleared the family room (the open area behind the camera).  Needless to say, a lot of items are piled up in other parts of the house.  I’m not going to show you that. :beam:

The final step is to paint the smooth ceilings.  We love the results that we see in the rooms that Sylvia has already done. :awe:

Weep For the Willow

In an earlier post, I mentioned that the tree expert from the power company had said the weeping willow had to go.  It was growing into the power line.  I knew that the tree had to go–it was growing into the power line.  Did the person that placed it there look up?  I’ll never know.

Ten years go, I had installed a tree swing for Briana.  Her uncle, Dick, had donated a huge truck tire for the purpose.  Briana outgrew the tire swing and I took it down.  I liked the look of that tree, but Sylvia disliked the many branches that it dropped on the yard.  Neither opinion mattered.  The weeping willow had to go.

In the spring, the work crew appeared and began their work.  I wondered as I watched, how long would it take to remove the tree.  In short–not long at all.

Relax.  They are not that fast!  This is another animated gif.

The blue silo on the left side of these pictures is west of us.  With the willow and the ash trees gone, I am able to get better sunset pictures–like those I posted yesterday.

I did use a tripod for shooting these, but turned off the camera between shots.  Slightly different zoom settings resulted.

There are 17 frames in the animated gif.  When I captured the images, I was planning on showing you three or four jpg images.  I like this way better.

What do you think?

Sun Catcher

In our kitchen, Sylvia has a sun catcher mounted on the window above the sink.  From the family room, it looks like this:

It is one of those little things that one can easily forget is there.  The other afternoon I was in the family room when it caught my eye.

I quickly retrieved the camera from the office and captured a shot.  I had to position the camera for “best effect.”  I have done no other treatments to these images than to crop and re size for easy download.

I knew that patience would reward me with other colors as the angle of the sun changed with respect to the sun catcher’s prism.  As you can see I did not wait in vain.

It is a tiny thing–about the size of my thumb nail.  Yet it releases such a joyful light in the presence of the sun.

As I thought about this, I realized that we are like a prism.  We have that ability to take a bland white light and break it into its component colors and in so doing liven up the world around us.  Are you a sun catcher?  I want to be one.

My World ~ Around Home

Here’s my back door.

My antennas — click for larger photo.

Look at all those antennas. The near dish is for Starband satellite Internet service. I put a lot of money into that, and then found that uploads were at dial-up speed and stormy weather shut the connection down. The white area near the top of the tall tower is the antenna for high-speed wireless Internet from Reliable Internet, LLC (my ISP). The TV dish is next to the back door. (Easier to clear snow away.) Amateur Radio antennas decorate the two towers.

Behind me, in the corner of the formal garden is our monogram rock. I used an engraving tool to outline the letter in the rock. Then I used a rotary tool with a diamond tip to remove material within the outline. When I had finished, Sylvia painted it with exterior enamel.

High overhead, a passing jet reminds me how quickly we spend our lives. In the morning stillness comes the sound of vehicles on the expressway a mile and a half away. More hustle and bustle. I take a moment to reflect on the blessing of not being on the expressway and not being on the fast-flying jet. Time for a second cup of coffee before checking e-mail and visiting blog buds.


A power outage slowed me a bit this morning. Then a friend called looking for a tractor manual. It took a couple of hours, but I think he is hot on the trail now.

My World ~ Foggy, Dewy, Morning

Life has been crazy for me since my computer became infected last week. Windows didn’t work and my backups failed to restore. I am able to restore data files manually, and that’s something to be grateful about.

I woke the other morning to a foggy day. Dew covered the lawn. With my morning coffee in hand I stepped onto the front deck to see and feel the day. (That certainly would be better than battling the computer. Right?

I stepped out and looked back over the house at the sun, which was obscured by the haze. Our Amateur Radio antenna tower appears in the photo. I use the big antenna at the top for my activities. Sylvia uses the wire antenna that is supported by the horizontal boom that extends from the tower. Above that there is a box with a rod extending up from it. That is the radio that connects us to our high-speed wireless Internet service provider. The rod is an antenna that connects some of our neighbors to the Internet. (I’m late posting this today, because I was working with our ISP on
changes to his Website .)

Then I walked to the edge of the deck and looked out on the yard. Dew revealed the presence of myriad spider webs that normally remain invisible to my eyes. I love those moments. The world is different. It looks different and it sounds different. It’s magic!

Here is a closeup of one of the webs. I lingered for several minutes as I enjoyed the view. In the distance the sounds of traffic on the expressway (a mile and a half away) could be heard. This only happens on “special” days. All too soon, I went back in the house to enter once again into the computer battles.

The Traveler Returns

Last Saturday, was the big day. Sylvia awoke at 4:00 AM in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The construction project was finished for her. The day at the beach was over. Today, she was going home. It was an early start, but before long the flight for Houston, Texas pushed back from the gate. Her journey had begun.

Chuck didn’t get get up that early. The lazy fellow waited until the sun was up. Then he dressed, went out to the barn and fed the cats. The bird feeder was empty, so he filled it with sunflower seeds. Orange juice in the glass and coffee starting to brew, he went into the office to check for new e-mail. Already there were blog comments to approve.

He kept himself busy the rest of the day. She’s coming home. Try not to think about it too much. (Ha!) Lots to do and keep moving. The game plan was simple get tired. Go to bed early. When she gets home be ready to greet and to talk.

Sylvia’s plane makes its way to Houston. There is a seven hour layover. Not fun! Read. Work sudoku puzzles. Walk. Get a bite to eat. Only a little, the funds are mostly gone. (After eating a modest meal, she has $1.50 left. It had cost more to leave Honduras than she had been told.)

The time drags on. And on. And on. It should be time for boarding the flight to Detroit. Oh no. There is an equipment problem. More than an extra hour drags on before they finally are able to depart. The pilot makes up some of that time by flying a bit faster than normal.

Chuck has kept busy all day, and after a quick surfing trip across the blogosphere, he goes to bed early. Remember, the plan is to be there for Sylvia when she arrives to greet her and to talk with her.

In Detroit Sylvia retrieves her bags and meets the friends that will drive her the two hours to Sunfield where her car is waiting for her. She finds it there and has to scrape frost off the windows. A big change from the 90 degree temps she has just left. It takes Sylvia about 20 minutes to drive from Sunfield past the silent town of Lake Odessa and to her home in the country. It is nearly 3 AM as she quietly enters the house. She walks on tip-toes into the bedroom. It has been a long day. She is tired.

I (Chuck) am sleeping on my side facing the door. I open one eye and say, “Oh, it’s you.” (I can be so clever at that time of day.)

She replies, “Who else would it be?” (Two can play that game.)

I hear her briefly at the bathroom sink and then I feel her lay down on the opposite side of the king-sized bed.

She sighs, “Aaahh . . . This feels good.” Soon she is breathing regularly. Sound asleep.

I start to count her breaths, one, two . . .

The sun came up.

When the 35mm photos are back from processing, Sylvia will share some of her experiences with us here on Secondary Roads. For now, were just going to relax for a while.

I hope you enjoyed this account. Do come back and visit us.