Anywhere the wind blows

I’m taking my last vacation in 2020.  Since there’s a pandemic going on, and I live with someone who is in the ‘high-risk’ category for catching COVID, I’m not traveling anywhere.   Fortunately, there’s plenty that needs to be done here, seeing as we live in a house that’s 180+ years old.  We may live on a little scrap of land, but that land has trees around it.  Being fall/autumn, the leaves fall to the ground, need to be gathered up and deposited on the curb for the village to pick up and dispose of at the town compost site.  As they do every year.

Of course, my neighbor to the east has large oak trees, and they don’t typically drop their leaves until late in the season, so I have to wait for that to occur before they can be gathered.  Typically, property owners gather their own leaves, and ‘do their duty‘ but in their case, they don’t.  And since the wind doesn’t discriminate, the leaves inevitably end up in my yard and blown against my house, which is a natural wind-break.  Lucky me. (Yes, I’ve tried reasoning with them, but to no avail.)

Consequently, every fall, I’m out there with my small Hitachi leaf blower, my rakes, and my tarp, gathering up the leaves and plopping them on the curb.  Now, the village doesn’t always show up johnny on the spot to collect, they have a large area with many streets to cover, so it may very well be a week or more before they get to, (or get back to) mine.  And just coincidentally, they collected on Friday here, while I was at work.  Yes, to add insult to injury.  Thank you fate.  Fortunately, while I was out running errands, I noticed that several houses up the street have put their leaves out again for collection, so in theory, I still have time to do mine.

As long as the wind and weather cooperate.

Onset of Fall

(9/15) I woke up this morning for work and discovered via my iPad it was 38°F outside.  38!  Ai yi yi.  It may be Summer by the calendar but that’s not a typical Summer temperature for sure.

With the change in the weather, more things come to mind that needs to be done to get ready for that other bug-a-boo, old Man Winter.  The garage needs to be rearranged to make room for the car, hopefully, earlier than I usually do it, which tends to be before the first or second snowfall of the year.  At that point, I take just about everything that’s crowded on the main part of the garage, shove it into the corners and sides, and make a car-sized space in the middle, just big enough for the vehicle to reside.  Then uncover the snowblower, make certain it starts and everything stays put for the most part until Spring.  And the cycle starts anew.  As soon as it’s warm enough, the car comes out, the garage is repopulated somewhat by junk and the car stays outside for the warm weather.

Like most years, about this time I think I’m going to change that narrative.  Since June, I’ve been meaning to get out to the garage, pull out just about everything in it and start sorting, rearranging, and seeing if I can make it neater, even have considered buying some storage solutions and either attaching them to the walls or building upwards from the floor with adjustable wire shelving similar to the ones that I purchased for our pantry in the past twelve months.

This seemed to be a better solution than my other idea, which involved woodworking.  Building a shelving unit from hardware (2×4’s, screws, and plywood) might end up being the cheaper route, but my woodworking skills are basic at best, and I’m not terribly confident that what I built would hold up under load for a long period of time.  So more than likely it would be cost-prohibitive in the long run if I went with something made of steel.

As is normally the case with my posts, they start at one point and end up being finished at another. It’s now Wed Sep 23 and Autumn has arrived.  We’ve already had 2 nights when the mercury dipped below the 32°F threshold and it was required that we either bring in potted plants or cover ones that we wished to save.  The garage has been populated with the pots and both the old blue sheet and ratty canvas dropcloth have been pressed into service to salvage the marigolds and the backyard flowers that cannot be moved.marigolds-2020.jpg

Suffice it to say we can’t keep that up forever.  At some point we’ll determine it’s time to let the annuals be frost-killed and remove them from the planter and backyard beds, preparing them for the winter slumber.  Soon enough I’ll be giving the lawns one good last mow and put away the mower for the year.  Raking leaves and putting them to the curb for the village to collect.  I’ve already started looking for a lawn service to clear out the brush pile behind the garage.  That needs to go as well.  I’m sure our neighbors behind us would agree.  They actually put up a fence to obscure it.

Three months to go until Winter.

Change of the Guard

It was time.  Say adios to Odin & Loki and say hello to Calvin & Hobbes.

Ok, I realize that doesn’t make much sense when put like that, but here’s what it means.

Typically (almost) every year I change the passwords and SSIDs to my wireless router access.  On the current router there are two options; 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz.  For the past two years, we’ve had Odin & Loki.  (I was going through my Marvel phase).  Before that was Amadeus & Poughkeepsie [2018], then Hephaestus & Ares [2015], and finally my Harry Potter phase of Dumbledore & Severus_Snape [2013].  Prior to that I had a different router, and I don’t remember what the SSIDs were.  This year I was looking for a duo that was whimsical, and I didn’t want to get bogged down in minutae so I went with the venerable Calvin & Hobbes. [I could have gone with Opus & Binkley, but Wattersons’s duo came to mind first.  Maybe in 2021.]

Of course, when I change the SSIDs, since so many of the tech we have are dependent on the info being correct, I had to go through the house and change everything that connected to the router manually in order for it all to continue to work as it should.  For example; as soon as I changed things, the cameras on the outside of the house went offline, the lamp upstairs as well as the lights in the living and dining room stayed on, and didn’t turn off when they were programmed to.  Tablets, phones, my tv in the den and both Roku boxes went offline and needed to be updated to the new SSIDs.

When updating things of this nature, I tend to ‘beef up’ the security on them as well.  When I first started password protecting myself online, passwords were pretty simple.  Nowadays one has to be aware of dictionary based attacks, and keeping track of 500+ passwords is impossible.  Especially when you have to try to remember nonsensical strings of letters, numbers and special characters.  tabby#0645 is a lot easier to remember than something like JsWnY=4m&hz}Lv}.  Sure the second one is way more secure, but there’s nothing to link it to in your brain to remember what the heck it is.  Consequently, for the last 12 years, I’ve been using Password Depot, it has saved my bacon more than a few times, and now it’s available as an app for my phone, which allows me to access my passwords wherever I am.  Truly a game changer.

So, Calvin and Hobbes are residing in the house for the next year.  Things are locked down (in more ways than one) and we’re secure for whatever comes in the months ahead.

Oops, almost forgot.  The guest SSIDs are ‘GuestOfUs’ and ‘StrangeWomenLyingInPonds’.  If you happen to visit, ask for the passwords.