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Showing posts from April, 2018

Two Ferns Planted On North Side of Screened Porch: 2018

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Last week, I picked up these two different ferns from Menards because of two reasons:

1.  I love ferns.
2.  They were on sale at just $2 a piece.

So, both the Japanese Painted fern and the Autumn Fern came home with us and they're going here online in my [Garden Diary] so I can look back over the years.

I planted a Japanese Painted fern back in 2012 in our old house in Elmhurst and documented it here in 2014 when it came back.   It never got all that large, but it did re-emerge after the winter - as long as I didn't smother it with mulch - so I figured I'd give it another go.

The other one - the Autumn Fern - is new to me.  I've had other ones called "Autumn Brilliance" before, but don't think this one in particular. 

They totally tolerate shade and basically require it, so I was looking for a spot that would guarantee that and ended up putting them in the little bed on the north side of the screened porch.  There's about 2' wide of a bed around…

Spotted: Jack Diamond @ Hollywood Studios

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We were at Hollywood Studios recently and it was very busy.  Very busy. That's fine with us because we don't spend all day in the parks, but it also means that the operations at the Parks pull out some of their lesser-used entertainment options.  In Hollywood Studios, that mean that we saw some of the "Citizens of Hollywood".  On my way to the bathroom down by Tower of Terror, I saw this guy standing on the curb reading the newspaper (The Hollywood Star, btw).  
Turns out, it was Jack Diamond - the talent agent.  
He's not on Main Street USA, but I'm still counting him as one of the characters we've come across.  Here's the rest of the list from WDW:
Honorable Christopher George Weaver, Mayor of Main Street USAScoop Sanderson, Main Street Gazette Reporter, Town Councilman and Pin-thusiastChief Smokey Miller, Chief of the Main Street Volunteer Fire Department, Mayor George Weaver's “right-hand man”Ms. Hildegard Olivia Harding, socialite and suffrage…

Pepperidge Farm Downers Grove - A Little Stranger Things Going On...

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Most mornings, I catch the train out of the Fairview Station on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Metra line.  Bordering the south passenger platform, past the station is a Pepperidge Farm factory.  And it totally gives off a "Stranger Things" vibe to me.  
Every morning when I walk past it - and even more on mornings when it is snowing a little bit - I get this very specific Hawkins National Laboratory feeling as I see the trucks moving to/from near the docks.  
Now, making Goldfish crackers isn't going to open a hole to the upside down.  But it doesn't keep me from smiling about it each morning I head there.
You might be wondering...why is there a Pepperidge Farm factory there in the first place?  Well...it is a place that provides a diverse employee base.  And has been there for 65 years.  It was selected due to our proximity to Chicago, but there also is this cute little story about how the founder just liked the Village's name: While the Downers Grove site w…

Mason Bee House - Mounted Spring 2018

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One of my Sisters gifted me this "Swiss Alps Bee House" for my birthday this year and with the weather turning, I decided to mount it outside on the edge of our 6' fence line.  This photo was taken in the morning, so you can see that it gets morning sun.  I've been seeing these bee houses the past few years at garden centers and have been intrigued by them, but always wondered what they attracted.  Turns out, it is Mason bees.  Mason bees don't sting (well, the males don't at least) and are good for the garden. 

I put this on the northside of our backyard, down near where our dry well is located.  That area is the lowest point in our yard and is often wet/damp (by design), so there will be a plentiful supply of mud for the Mason bees to use to plug the holes.  Morning sun + fixed spot + mud supply = hopefully a good spot?

From Gardeners Supply:
Mason bees (genus Osmia) are a type of native bee that’s quite common throughout most of the U.S. They are usually …

Walt Disney's Railway Dreams - 1949 (One Man's Dream)

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I've written about the Carolwood Pacific Railroad twice before on the blog here.  First, was in 2016 when we stayed at the Wilderness Lodge Villas - which has a Carolwood Pacific Room adjacent to the lobby.  In the room, there's a bunch of Carolwood Pacific stuff, but the centerpiece is pair of actual cars that came from rolling stock.  Then in December, I posted a photograph from that same room that showed Walt himself operating the locomotive (Steam!) with a few folks on board the Carolwood Pacific. 

This post features a photo that I took inside of One Man's Dream at Hollywood Studios.  The description accompanying the photo of Walt oiling the steam locomotive metions that that their home was in HOlmby Hills.  Here's a Curbed LA post about the property (which, I think has a house that was built in 2001 and NOT the home that Walt lived in.  But...does mention the Carolwood Pacific). 

I've been fascinated by model trains (thanks, Dad!) and - as you guys know - eve…

My #PurpleWall Photo - 2018

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Look at me.  All over the #PurpleWallat the Magic Kingdom.  Just give me a pair of Rose Gold ears and I'd be a hit, right?  Also, note that this was taken *right before* they updated/changed the #purplewall in Tomorrowland to be a bit more interesting.  Old school is the way I roll when it comes to Walt Disney World famous selfie spots.

Fishing in Bay Lake at Walt Disney World

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As seen on the dock outside of Disney's Contemporary Resort.  Looks a lot like what we see on Lake Elizabeth in Wisconsin.  There are so many things that we haven't done in the Vacation Kingdom, including fishing.  Who knows...maybe when the kids get older, we'll give this a shot.  When we were recently staying at the Boardwalk, we saw a family fishing off a pontoon boat right outside of the Boardwalk - and they kept reeling in fish after fish.  The Vacation Kingdom, indeed.

Walt Disney: I believe in being an innovator.

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Yesterday, I posted a photo of a Walt Disney quote from a construction sign.  Today is another.  This one rings true, doesn't it?  Or maybe is just a massive an understatement from Walt himself.   This is from the same wall that the "everybody needs deadlines" quote sign that adorned the Disney Skyliner Station construction site outside the backdoor of Epcot at the International Gateway.  You can peek at this post and see that the signs are the same theme.
"I believe in being an innovator." -Walt Disney
Full archive of the Walt Disney World construction signs (cleverly sponsored by Stanley Black and Decker) featuring quotes from Walt Disney can be found here.  This is the seventh in the collection.

One other thing that they've added to the construction wall since we were last there is this Disney Skyliner sign that shows some of the art on the gondolas and the map of the Skyliner.


Nat and I were talking and she pointed out something:  we're going to be…

Walt Disney: "I've wanted to do things..."

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I've posted a bunch of Walt Disney quotes that have appeared on Disney World construction signs (sponsored by Stanley!) over the past year or so.  This one is another one that we spotted on the walk from the Boardwalk to Disney's Hollywood Studios - right outside the Disney Skyway station construction zone.
"I've wanted to do things; I wanted to build things, to get something going." -Walt Disney

Galaxy's Edge: Can't Wait

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We stopped by the entrance to Star Wars Galaxy's Edge on a recent trip and the Babe was - understandably - excited about the new land.  Can't wait until 2019 when we'll have to make a trip back to take it all in as a family.

Bressingham Blue Hostas - 2018

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I picked up this bag of 10 hosta bulbs at Costco recently and while I'm eager to get them in the ground, they have a specific purpose in our landscape plan:  placed at the base of the new European Hornbeams that are going in along our north fence line.  If you look at the landscape plan image in this post, you can see a series of plants at the base of the trees in the green area.  Those are Hostas.  15 of them or so. 

But, if you've read any of my gardening posts here on the blog, you know that I love hostas.  They're my favorite plant.  Along with ferns.  Actually...any kind of shade gardening.  I've planted plenty ofhostas over the years.  I mean...we even fostered our giant Hosta over at Nat's Mom's house in Naperville the past few years.  I also dug out - what I *think* were a few hostas out of our neighbor's yard before they tore down the house.  I'm hopeful that those will emerge this Spring. 

Back to these Bressingham Blues.  They're a lar…

DC Visit for Cherry Blossoms

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I'm one lucky guy.  At least when it comes to timing trips with the show that Cherry Blossom trees put on.  Last year, I was in Tokyo during the Cherry Blossom season and documented it here on the blog.

And earlier this month, I found myself in our nation's capital when their own Cherry Blossom trees were on full display.   Double bucket list visits, right?

I also brushed up on the reason for why the Cherry Blossom trees are even there.
Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries. My trip to Washington D.C. was brief, but I was able to take in the trees from a few different vantage points.  (I've posted about another trip to DC all the way back in 2012 when I took this photo of the Washington Monument

Pooh Bear Disney Pin - Acquired in 2018

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On a recent trip to the Vacation Kingdom, the Bird traded for this pretty great Pooh Bear pin.  It is a good-sized circle with just the silhouette of Pooh on it.  I've posted this other 'safety-pin' Winnie the Pooh pin before on the blog.  The Bird has quite a good Pooh Bear collection on her board that this one will go. 

Surprise (Volunteer) Daffodils - 2018

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I went out to the yard to check in on the allium and tulip bulbs that I planted last fall and came across this nice little surprise:  a series of rows of daffodil clumps that had popped up in the yard behind one of our big Oak trees.  You can see the doubled-up Automower wire in the ground and the plastic mesh that the landscapers put down last Summer.  That means that this area was seeded, and as you can tell, it didn't take that strongly.  They'll give us a nice pop of color soon and then recede back into the ground.  I believe that this area is called out as a landscape bed eventually, so I'm not sure that we'll re-seed it this Spring, but probably just let it go as it is.  Since the Automower is wired to run in this area, it will keep the growth short and ready to be swapped out at a later date.  That plastic mesh, though.  I'm thinking that's a project to take on this Spring.  A lot of cutting and some ripping to remove it, where it hasn't been encaps…

View from my Office - April 2018 (snow?!)

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Well, look what we have here:  a dusting of snow covering Chicago's lakefront when I arrived at the Aon Center this morning.  This is the view - looking south - from the 64th floor.  I have been planning on planting perennials and digging beds in the backyard.  But instead, we have snow and ice.  Add this to the pile of weather complaints that everyone seems to have these days.

Poznan, Poland Virgin Mary Painting @ St. Mary of Gostyn Catholic Church in Downers Grove

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If you ever find yourself at St. Mary of Gostyn Catholic Church in Downers Grove, make sure you take a moment to look at the painting of the Virgin Mary hanging in the vestibule right outside the church that is hanging just to the right of the main doors.  That's it above. St. Mary's is the oldest Catholic church in Downers.  From the SMG site: St. Mary of Gostyn Parish, the oldest Catholic church in Downers Grove, was founded by poor immigrants who came from Gostyn, Poland, shortly after the American Civil War. By the 1880’s, Polish-speaking priests from Chicago were regularly serving this rural settlement. Masses were said in homes or tents because there was no church. Founded by Polish immigrants.  Cool, right?  But also cool because my Mom is Polish.  So that means, I'm Polish.  And so are my kids.  
Right below the painting is this plaque that reads "The picture of the Virgin Mary and child dates from 1540."  
Yeah...1540?!?!  If you click the photo and zoo…

The Horseshoe - From The Air

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File this under:  I went to X and only got this crummy photograph of my visit.  Here's Denver recently.  And Denver a few years back.  And Denver once again.  All in the same series. 

This time, it was Columbus Ohio and Ohio Stadium from the window seat in my American Airlines flight on a recent weekday.  During my time on the Fighting Illini (backup punter!), I didn't get to travel to Ohio Stadium, so I've never been inside the place.  But, it looks pretty rad from the air, so I imagine it was pretty awesome back in 2007 when the Illini upset then #1 OSU.

The good news is that I'm going to be back in Columbus every once in a while, so there's hope that I'll get in there after all.

Update: Dahlias and Elephant Ear (But Maybe Just Dahlias)

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Just a little over a week ago, I posted the first peek of little sprouts of Dahlias and Elephant Ears poking through the soil in a pot that I started in our dining room.  Welp, fast forward a week and we suddenly have a lot of growth from three shoots.  But, I'm pretty sure that I planted four bulbs/tubers.  Three Firebird semi-cactus Dahlias and one Elephant Ear Black Magic.   The three plants that have grown all look alike, so I'm presuming that these are the Dahlias.  But, the Elephant Ear is missing.  Perhaps a little bit of excavation is called for to figure out if the Elephant Ear is, indeed, down there (or if I forgot to plant it!) and/or if something is wrong.  Maybe I planted it too deep?

My hunch is that the bulb is still simply dormant - and that's not an uncommon problem based on a quick tour around the Web - and that with time, it will come up.

Enzo's Hideaway Coaster from Disney Springs

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Here comes #27 in the [coaster collection] here on the blog.  This one is from a place called Enzo's Hideaway and Tunnel Bar - which happens to be down in Disney Springs.  And being as such, this one marks the 10th coaster that came from a Disney property as part of the collection.   The most recent Disney-related one was from the Abracadabar.  The other Disney ones are varied and include this one from the Boathouse, the Flying Fish restaurant, the Skipper Canteen, Raglan Road restaurant in Disney Springs, the Disneyland Hotel and Walt Disney World resort hotels as well as the *new* Walt Disney World resort hotel version.

We had dinner down at Enzo's Hideaway recently and I'll give it a mixed review.  Cool place.  But, slow service and just ordinary food.  Cool coaster, though.

Rear Stoop Planting: Rhododendrons in Landscape Plan

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This is the fifth chapter is a series of our landscape plan posts that show off various portions of our #newoldbackyard in the planning stages.  The other four are here:
1.  Part of the southern fence line that includes some hydrangeas, hostas, ferns, allium and Canadian Hemlocks.   2.  Part of our rear foundation planting areas, right outside our breakfast nook/kitchen windows. Grasses, boxwoods and even a peek at one of the rhododendrons that *this* post is all about.  3.  The hornbeam/privacy hedge on the north fenceline near our screened porch.   4.  Far southwest corner by the trampoline that includes some Canadian Hemlocks.
This fifth chapter covers just two plants that you can see in the sketch above.  They are both PJM Rhododendrons that occupy some foundation beds on either side of our rear stoop heading to our back patio.  
Here's a look at those beds that I took this past weekend:

You can see the two beds are good-sized and fall on their side of the concrete stoop.  Th…

Purple Sensation Allium Emerging For First Spring

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Last October, I picked up 10 Purple Sensation Allium bulbs and planted them around a big oak tree in our backyard.  That initial planting post is here.  Over the weekend (before the snow came in on Monday morning), I spent some time out puttering around the yard and discovered that - just like the tulip bulbs that I planted at the same time - that some of these allium have emerged.  This one in the photo above, is right at the base of that mighty oak and I'm hoping will continue to grow and give us a little 'show' with the purple orb.  Along with hostas and ferns, I have a soft spot in my gardening heart from allium.  As I wrote last fall:
I first wrote about Allium bulbs all the way back in 2011, when the first set of shoots broke through the mulch that Spring.  I planted those in 'secret' as a little surprise for Natalie.I then chronicled their appearance in 20122014 and 2015. At the beginning of April, I mentioned here on the blog that we are looking at a tree…

New Project: Hollywood Juniper Topiaries

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I came across these Hollywood Junipers on Fast Growing Trees (that's their product listing above) and then wandered down a Juniper-related wormhole into the world of topiary arts.  And, I ended up landing at this Monrovia page about their Hollywood Junipers that features a secondary photo that looks like this:

And I've now suddenly decided to take on a new gardening project that involves me blindly ordering trees online (yeah...online?!?) and figuring out how to either build or buy some big enough pots to keep a couple of these on our patio. 

Having just visited the Flower and Garden Festival and seeing their topiaries of different styles/sizes, I've kinda fallen hard for them and think they'll both add a little interest and provide some activity for me and the kids to putter around the yard this season. 

The Fast-Growing-Trees site sells 3'-4' trees, so they're not very big, but if the site's name is any indication, they'll add some inches this se…

Drywall and Door Hung in Basement Workshop

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Just a few days ago, I posted about the progress being made in the construction of my #newoldworkshop down in the basement.  I shared a photo of the wall being framed in here.  Today, you can see the door installed and the sheetrock attached to the outside of the framing.  If you look closely, you'll also see the dust vent up near the top of the framing. 

The door on the right is the door to our "Christmas Closet" and was already built by our builder's team.  As I mentioned in the post outlining all the 'to do's' for my shop, I used an exterior door with weather seal to keep the dust contained.  I'm also planning on painting the walls in the shop to brighten up the space and lay down some of that epoxy garage floor coating to spif the place up.  And, I've been reading up on dust collection systems including this one from GeekBeat.  I like his ducting/routing/termination system.  But, I'm thinking of going a different route in terms of collect…

American Goldfinch - Added To MY Backyard Bird Feeder Visitor Log

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We have had a few new visitors to our feeders recently and they're all colored gold.  Or yellow.  They're American Goldfinches and you can see one of them in the photo above.  We have both - what I think are - males and females.  Males with a much more striking gold and the females with their winter plumage.  I snapped the photo above out of kitchen windows one morning recently.  And we knew what it was immediately.  But we went to the Field Guide anyway.  Here's the listing for the American Goldfinch below:


The one you see above is at our squirrel-proof feeder that I've filled with thistle seed. 

Let's call this one the fifth species that we've documented as part of our [backyard bird visitor's log] here on the blog. The other four from this Winter/Spring:

Red-bellied woodpeckerHouse SparrowMale and Female CardinalsWhite-breasted Nuthatch

On 40 Trips Around the Sun and Blogging All About It...

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Today marks the beginning of my 40th trip around the Sun and as such, it seems like an appropriate time to ponder the state of the blog.  Yeah...I'm a blogger.  And have been so for more than 14 years.  I have the archives to prove it!  I started with the JoinCross Blog and then RhodesSchool and have been settled in here at "Why I oughta" on my personal domain for more than a decade.  And now with more than 3,000 individual posts, I've left behind quite a bit of digital and personal brick-a-brack over the years - especially with a handful of recent one-post-per-day-every-day years.  I'm on track to keep up the one-post-per-day for 2018, too.
Like a lot of you guys, I've read a bunch of the 'is blogging dead' pieces like this one, but a few have stuck out and I feel are worth sharing to talk about the place of a personal blog in the face of publishing platforms like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram what-have-you.  Now...I'm on Facebook and Twitt…

Workshop Wall Going In (Basement)

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After months of planning and thinking and posting about my eventual workshop, we finally have progress:  the wall that divides the rest of our basement with my shop is getting installed.  In the photo above, you can see the wall being framed and the steel door - an exterior door - installed.  On the right side of the photo - through the framing - you can see the existing stairs and banister coming down from the first floor.  In the middle of the room, you can see an existing door/wall that built out by our builder to contain the mechanical room.  They used a steel, exterior door on the mechanical room, so we replicated that with the door for my shop.  They're going to be so close, so it was important for them to match.

Right after the wall framing is done, drywall is going on the outside, but I'm going to leave the inside unfinished.  I'm still planning on cutting in a spot for a vent (see here for inspiration) and stuffing the joist cavities with insulation so we can kee…

Update: Dahlia and Elephant Ear Bulbs Planted and Sprouted

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Back in Mid-March, I posted about some dahlia tubers and Elephant Ear bulbs that I picked up at Menards.  Along with the kids, I ended up planting some of them in this big terracotta pot and got it started early in our dining room (which gets the most southern exposure).  In the photo above, you can see the early shoots emerging from the soil.  This is two Firebird semi-cactus dahlias and one Elephant ear bulb that make up the three plants you see. 

As I've said before here on the blog, I've had very little luck with dahlias, so these are hopeful signs for this gardener.  Once we get past the freeze/frost date this Spring, I'll move this pot outside to the back patio so it can get full sunlight.  I'll also add some 'spill' to the pot once the garden centers start to have their annuals to fill out the pot.

WWF LJN Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake - MOC

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That title is full of a bunch of jargon - when it comes to collecting action figures.  The "MOC" means "Mint on Card" and that's the way I'd describe this WWF Wrestling Superstar Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake.  But, why am I posting this?  Welp, it is because that Brutus, along with a more than dozen of his brethren are down in my basement.  All in boxes and still mint in their packaging/on their cards - unlike the set of wrestlers that I played with like this Nikoli Volkoff that I posted a few years back.

There are stories about kids in the early 80's going hog wild on their Star Wars figures from Kenner.  I mean...there's even that documentary series on Netflix all about the toys.  But, I was born in 1978, so I was too young for the early Star Wars stuff.  But, I wasn't too young for the 80's-version of GI Joes.  And I loved them.  But, they aren't my 'toy touchstone' when it comes to my youth.  Nope.  It was these gu…

Last Look @ Sideyard Pre-Hornbeam Hedge Installation

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I've posted a few times about our plan to add some European Hornbeams to the side yard alongside of our screened porch to provide some privacy from our neighbor's house.  In the photo above, you see the run of fence that will soon be lined with some 2.5" caliper trees.  You can go back to this post to see the drawing of where they are located, but they're going to cling to the fenceline and, I hope, peek over the top of the fence. 

In the photo above, you can also see the grade difference with the porch on the left being a good four or five feet above where the bottom of the fence is located.  Once these trees mature a bit, they'll end up growing into a hedge of sorts (like this) and we'll be able to enjoy the screened porch without looking at our neighbors smoking cigarettes on their back stoop.  With April here, I'm just waiting word from the landscaper as to when these trees can be dug up and planted in our yard. 

I took this photo a few weeks ago afte…

Treehouse Playhouse Tree Candidate?

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Thinking this mighty Oak Tree is the most-likely candidate for a treehouse/playhouse that will mostly be built on legs in our #newoldbackyard.  Oh, and a zipline, too. 

Nat has found some inspiration photos and I've been trying to plan the design, but there are a bunch of variables that I'm trying to figure out like how high the platform needs to be - both for the zipline and ability to utilize the space underneath the it, but also for the stability of the structure

More on this project - like the others - as I find time to get after it.