friday, march 26th, 2010
as of this Journal entry, Spring has "officially arrived" last Saturday. Temps hit almost 70°F and that triggered an early rush by Nature to show-off Her wares. Witch Hazel has been in bloom for 2-3 weeks, already.
Daffodils, Crocus and my favorite "species tulips" are breaking through the cold, soggy ground, and beginning to bud-up, ready for their annual floral show. Buds are starting to swell on maples, and many of the species & cultivar Red Maples are beginning to flower. Did you know that all Maples flowered? Yes; all Maples flower in some way or another, usually insignificant in comparison to other trees.
Pears, Cornus Mas (Cornellian Cherry), Pieris japonica, Heathers, Magnolias and the list goes on and on, are breaking-out for Spring's unusually-early and warm weather. If we get hit with frost in the coming weeks, and surely we will since this is only mid-March, all that new growth will be damaged, and the plant(s) set-back for weeks, or killed outright. It's a crapshoot, with Mother Nature dealing the "weather cards". March is a very unpredictable month, as is the first 2-3 weeks of April. Caution is the word-of-the-day.
The Plains got hammered with 8-12" of snow, while we merely got some rain. I said March is "unpredictable".
Around The Garden Center.™
Saturday was busy, to say the least, with dozens of people coming-in just to look around, and several wanting mulch and topsoil pricing, and requesting me to visit their devastated landscapes at their homes. I have 17-18 requests, and will get out next week to make some of the site visits. Luckily, Arthur was in to load mulch and topsoil for me, since my damaged back and sciatic nerve damage won't let me do much of that anymore, as rapidly as I used to be able to do. I closed at 2:15pm and went home to a heating pad, Gabapentin and rest.
I started scheduling landscape visits on Monday morning. There are a *pile of requests* sitting on my desk. Two more came in on Monday morning via email, so now there's 20. I'll handle them all.
I bought the domain, http://www.johnshelleysjournal.com/ to put my weekly "Journal" entries on, separate and apart from www.gdnctr.com/, my corporate site. It's the only way you can get to it now, so please bookmark it in your browsers. You MUST go through the portal — wwww.johnshelleysjournal.com/— to get there.
It was time to go back to *reality*, to deal with all the new lscp crap on my desk, new employees, and core of requests of lcsp site visits. I'm still looking a LSCP Designer and a crew worker. With the outrageous-money that the US Federal Gov't is paying for unemployment - $545 to $768/ week - who the hell'd would want to work for $18-20.hr?
Freedom Armory callED me on Wednesday to tell me that my bandolier sling for the Remy 11-87 12ga Shotgun was in, and I'll get over to get it installed and loaded.
Mark from IT Systems showed-up at 3pm, took my new HP unit and all its CDs/ DVDs to his office to install/ download and be back Wednesday, March 24th, ready for hook-up to the lines in my Office. There's a *shitload* of software to reinstall, but he doesn't think there'll be a problem, if he does the lion's work of it, ahead of time. Okay, I trust him.
I was ***really stressed-out*** on Wednesday, from the new www.gdnctr.com and www.johnshelleysjournal.com website installations, all in one week. Plus, scores of lscp design and maintenance requests. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh! I'll recuperate and get it all done, as I've started to set-up appointments with all those folks.
Mark, my company's IT Guy, came up from Baltimore on Wednesday, and picked-up my new HP desktop unit, and took it back to his office to set-up Win-7 and all the O/S downloads, drivers and new software, and will be back next Tuesday to install it in my office.
My sister, Becky, arrived at Harrisburg Int'l Airport on Thursday afternoon at 4pm, leaving San Francisco at 5:30am. She's here for 3 weeks to help set-up the GC&N Complex and help with the 20th Open House weekend.
The "Virtual Cabin"™: A Novella.
I was recalled to Adam's Junction on Friday, since the streams, creeks and rivers were still rising. Most or all were well above flood stage, and the PA-NG (Penna Nat'l Guard) was newly ready to begin "recovery" operations, once again. Cellphone calls had come in by the dozens, and people were stranded upon their roofs, livestock either dead or holding-on to life. Sheriff Bunce, Corporal Clay and Firefighter Mike needed my help, as the water drained from the mountains into the lowlands, and paralyzed the town, and killed an unknown number of people and seemingly many hundreds of livestock and household pets.
We pulled the newly-arrived 12-15 HUMVEES and 6-7 Deuce-&a-Quarter-Trucks out of the garage and back into service. We fueled them up and sped-out to the "targets". The Chief ID'd "targets" once again, and we hit them, mostly with no residents inside, who'd had gotten out safely. Farm animals were another matter. Hundreds were either isolated on mounded areas, or drowned, and we got out those we could in our vehicles. It was sad to see all the dead animals, due to lack of their owner-farmers efforts to save them. I despised the shit-for-brains farmers who let them drown, and told them so, under my breath: ASSHOLE SCUMBAGS! We'd have to oversee the cremation and burial of these hundreds of animals, so their rotting and bloated carcasses wouldn't spread disease to the human population, poison the wells, and be damned sure that every farmer would be billed for our clean-up & recovery efforts.
Pulling human bodies from the flood's mud, was the worst, which included adults and children. Ambulances and Coroners trucks were loaded with body bags, with toe tags ID-ing the dead. Rescue had turned to Recovery, and it was a nasty business. We hosed-off the mud off of the dead, to try to make a positive ID, but in some cases, advanced decomposition had already set-in, due to the microbes in the mud, and it would now be the Coroner's job to use DNA to make a positive ID. We just noted via GPS where they were found, and noted that on the toe-tags.
After 8-9hrs of it, I finished my shift and went to The Cabin, for a shave, shower and change of clothes. I fed Jenny, lit a small hearth fire, and got ready to get some sleep. I was thoroughly exhausted, and needed to sleep. I had a quick quaff of Brandy and a Marlboro I closed the hearth damper 1/2 way down, locked the doors, armed the alarm system, turned the furnace to 62°F, and climbed into bed, with Jenny at my feet. I would have to leave early in the morning, for both Friday & Saturday, as Dad wouldn't be at the Complex on either day. I would be alone and perhaps would close earlier than 3pm. We'll see.
After Saturday at the Garden Center & Nursery Complex, I went back to The Cabin, was glad to see Jenny, and her, me. I'd stopped at the local butcher shop in York, and had gotten her a large T-Bone, which I cooked-up for her along with a Filet Mignon for myself. I included some lima beans, peas and brussel sprouts, so she'd have some veggies and not a total meat diet. Back to the Iams after this little feast.
I could see gravel in my 1000ft driveway, for the first time since December, and slid the 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee's Accu-Trak in the 2WD, since AWD wasn't needed anymore. Temps were in the low-60s, but I went ahead a built a hearth fire to ward-off the coming evening chill. I poured a half-snifter of 50-yr old Brandy, lit a Cuban Cigar (don't ask) and settled back in my oversized leather comfy chair, to finish reading Savage's "The Political Zoo". DST had already kicked-in and it would be light until almost 8pm.
Each week, I wash & dry bedclothes and personal clothes, in several loads. It also occurred to me that I could use a real washer & dryer, instead of the stacked Kenmore units I had in the Pantry-Mud Room. But they did save space, did the job in half-loads, unlike my large GE units back at the condo. After checking my finances, I decided that I didn't need to spend the money, and would keep them as long as they worked. I'd rather buy more ammo: "lead and brass" are better investments than gold and silver anyway, IMO.
I cleaned-out Jenny's litter boxes on the heavy tarp in the spare BR, and refilled them. She is fastidious and very careful when she uses them, so there have been "no accidents" on the teak floors and Oriental Rugs. I appreciated that.
I decided to stay Saturday night and Sunday, since we're still on "Winter Hours". I called Sheriff Bunce, Corporal Clay and Firefighter Mike and asked if they needed my help for anymore Rescue or Recovery Ops. They said that all that could be done, was done, and thanked me for the many hours I'd put-in for Adam's Junction and surrounding communities. The human body count was in several-dozens, and the farm/home animal count was in the many hundreds, so far. Now, they needed to use large digging equipment to bury the many dead farm animals, before communicable diseases began spreading. I agreed that it was a health priority.
I stoked the hearth fire, poured a half-snifter of a 50-year old Brandy, and settled-in front of the roaring fire, with no book, this time. I just wanted to relax and doze-off, if possible. And I did. I had plenty of split-wood and several whole logs to see me and Jenny through the night. Although I washed the bedclothes and remade the King-Sized bed, I felt like sleeping in my oversized, leather chair tonite. Go figure.
I woke-up at around 11am, with Jenny licking my face, wanting to be fed. Sunday's temps were in the upper-60s, and the fields of snow and ice were melting fast, adding to the flooding problems. I fed her the Iams regimen, and went out on the front porch to soak-up some sunshine, smoke a Marlboro, and enjoy a cup of gourmet coffee. I was hungry too, and thought about sausage, biscuits & gravy, waffles or pancakes of French Toast, and Eggs Benedict. But all that would have put me back to sleep, so I opted for some waffles, orange juice and coffee. I shaved, took a shower and changed into some just-laundered clothes, after exhausting my supply over the past few days and night during the Rescue & Recovery Ops. Felt good to be clean, again.
I checked the extensive pantry, and noticed that I was running low on bread, milk, Iams dogfood, dishwashing detergent, Irish Spring bath soap, and a few other incidentals. So I made a shopping list, and decided to go to Adam's Junction to stock-up. I loaded Jenny into the Jeep, armed The Cabin, Took my Kimber .45 and Remy 11-87 12ga Auto-Loader and set-out on the 15-mile trek. I stopped at the General Store, gathered-up what I needed, paid for it, and left. I headed down to the Sheriff's Office and asked how the Recovery Op was coming. Sheriff Bunce was clearly-distressed and noted that everything was coming along satisfactorily, so far. He said there were 5 dead and 17 missing. He thanked me for my help, and I left.
I made both the main BR and spare BR beds, replaced towels in the BRs and kitchen, and did another load of laundry. I vacuumed the Oriental Rugs, as well as the Kodiak Bear Rug, cleaning Jenny's fur of off it. I saddle soaped the leather chair, let it dry and buffed it-off. Like new!
With 45 wooded acres, two barns and several other out-buildings, I wished I wasn't so afraid of horses, as I'd loved to have one or two to go riding on Spring and Summer mornings. As a kid, I rode, but after several incidents with my ex-wife's horse, which hated my guts and let me know that she'd stomp me-to-death in a heartbeat, I backed away from them. Everyone else in these parts had horses, and I envied their ability to command and control the animals. But just the thought of being thrown and winding-up like Christopher Reeves (now dead; but a vegetable until he died), scared me away from them. And they sensed that I was afraid, and acted-up when I came near. I usually retreated quickly to the Jeep's safety.
I needed to do a survey of what structural condition the barns and buildings were in, and do some repairs, if needed. There were plenty of unemployed carpenters in the area, and the local lumber mill had great prices on wood. Choice One Security was due to install the driveway alarm on April 5th, as soon as the ground dried-out and they could get in to lay cable. I'd already contracted with a neighbor to rent his JD backhoe to dig the 600-800ft trench for the cables, back to The Cabin. Then, there was the matter of infrared cameras or beams to cover the rest of the property, immediately adjacent to The Cabin. Yes, I'd been *spooked* by the militia crazies that night, several weeks ago, so I wanted to take no chances.
I put on my LL Bean 12" Hunting Boots, strapped-on my Kimber .45 and loaded the Remy 11-87 with 3" .00 buck and slugs, and set out in my Jeep to visit the 2 barns and several out-buildings, to made "assessments". I also took my AR-10 (7.62 x 51mm) just in case I ran into a 600-900lb Black Bear or 150lb Mountain Lion. No telling what's coming out of hibernation right now, and how hungry it is. I didn't want to be "dinner" for any animal. I had 6 x 20-round mags along for the AR-10, so I was quite confident I was well-prepared. The 2-hr trek was without incident, so I didn't have to use any firepower. Some buildings needed major repair; other simply needed minor repair. I'd need to make some specific determinations about each barn and building, so I took notes.
When I got back, I laid-out the blueprints for the 6 buildings — 2 barns and 4 out-buildings — on my 10 x 6ft Oak kitchen table, and made final assessments about their usefulness and repairs. I'm estimating it will cost <$100,000 to put those buildings back into useable state; money I don't have and will not get back in equity if I sell the place. I have a lot of decisions to make, ASAP. I'll probably save 1 barn, and demolish the other out-buildings, after cleaning-out the plentiful antiques. I'll have 2-4 weeks to go through those decisions, before I decide to take-down buildings. Okay, that project is for the Summer.
I went out to the front porch to sit at the picnic table, and watch the daffs, crocus, various other bulbs, hostas, trees, shrubs, the forest, hedges beginning to come into bloom. I lit a Marlboro — too early for 50-yr old Brandy — and enjoyed the Spring 65°F weather. It was refreshing. I scanned my end-of-month IRA report, which went from a low of $142k in June 2009, to a medium-hike of $210k in February; nice, but sill $100k to go in bonds, not stocks. My broker says stay where we're at, right now. I agree. Gold and silver are a short-term and long-term joke. "Brass & lead" are what's fungible and *very* tradeable, and I have *plenty of that*, in multiple (5+) calibers.
It was a strange (but nice) sight to not see anymore snow, except under a few dense thickets. After 3 Blizzards in 2009-2010, totalling over 65", 90% of it had melted back into the ground and revived and replenished the landscape. The warm weather had caused plants to prematurely bloom and leaf-out, so if we get any more frosty nights, damage will be done to the new foliage. NBD; it's just Mother Nature at work.
It was beginning to get cooler and the sun was setting — I'd dozed-off sitting at the picnic table — so I went back inside and fired-up The Cabin heater, lit the hearth fire, fed Jenny and settled into my leather chair with a book, "Blind Ambition". I put a 10oz filet mignon on the grille, steamed a ½lb of baby brussel sprouts, made some crusty Italian garlic bread, opened a vintage bottle of 1982 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, and had dinner. I needed to be back at the GC&N Complex on Friday, to get a pile of paperwork done and more landscape site-visit appointments set-up for the coming weeks.
I let the fire burn down, closed the flu damper half-way, shut down The Cabin's gas heater, and climbed into bed at around 9:30pm. Jenny soon followed and ensconced herself at the foot of the Queen-sized bed. I slept well.
I was up at 5am on Friday, fed Jenny, decided to take her along with me, and we left by 7am. I grabbed a coffee at Sheetz, along with a fill-up of Regular Gas at $2.75/ gal. I was in the office with Jenny by 8:15am, and she was running around the 20-ac Complex, having some fun. It's going to be a busy weekend, I think.
Some People Just Need Killing.™
It's not my intention to be the judge here — that's God's "job" — but rather to "hasten the meeting" so that He can send the following subhuman filth to the "Fires of Hell", "River or Lake of Sulphur", or whatever He deems appropriate. I'd gladly/happily volunteer, at no cost to any of my Hard-Working, Fellow US Taxpayers, to gladly/gleefully/happily headshoot these murderous, lowlife dirtbags of all stripes — their skin-color doesn't matter to me, at all — and rid American Society's innocents (especially our precious children and the frail, defenseless elderly) of them, once-and-for-all. And yes, I'd rather see one innocent man convicted and executed, than 10 murderers/robbers/child rapists-murderers freed, to rob, rape and murder again. Hey; call me an "Old Fashioned Conservative"! Too harsh? Nah. Just RIGHT!
Yes, I agree with the premise of this article, that "the death penalty is a Noahic Covenant with God, in a post-flood world". Well said, Joe Farrah.