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Showing posts from August, 2020

Toto Toilet Scrubbing Brushes For Bowl and Wand - Via The Daiso Store

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This past March, I posted a photo of a couple of Tawashi Scrubbing brushes that we bought from the Daiso (dollar store) up in Niles.  We recently went back and I found a couple of different scrubbing brush products that I brought home.  The first one, is what you see at the top of this post: they call it a toilet brush, but if you look at the photos, you'll see that it is designed to clean the Toto toilet washlet

The other scrubbing product - below - is also for the toilet.  But this one is for the bowl.  They bill it as having 'pumice abrasive'.  With two exclamation points. 


I haven't used either of them yet, but you can bet that I'll report back on the outcomes here.  I mean...who isn't sitting on the edge of their (washlet) seat just wondering if these dollar store items are any good?  Gross?  Or the good kind of gross?

Final Two Indoor Firewood Racks - August 2020 - Firewood Consumption

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Yesterday, I posted a couple of photos of a lot of the three face cords of firewood that we had delivered earlier this week.  Those three racks are a combo of Birch, Cherry and Oak Firewood and two of them were built this Summer in preparation for the delivery.  In that post, I mentioned that there are the two additional - indoor racks - that I also filled.  This post shows off those two racks.

Well...it shows off all of one of them (the one in the background that is loaded with Birch) and half of the rack in the foreground (That is loaded with Cherry firewood).  The rack in the foreground is a two-level rack - you can see what the full thing looks like here - but we're using the top section as a sort-of plant stand with various potted plants.  So, for now, we're only filling this rack about half-way. 

When the weather turns, I'm sure we'll move the plants indoors and I'll take that top part of the rack and fill it with Oak firewood.  That way, we'll have three…

Outdoor Firewood Stacked and Ready - August 2020

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Earlier this week, I showed a couple of photos of the firewood delivery that we received from Best Firewood that included Birch, Cherry and Oak seasoned firewoods.  In that post, I mentioned that we ordered 33% more wood than we normally do - because of both the projected 'shortages' that might be coming for firewood AND the fact that I'm assuming that due to COVID, we're going to spending a lot more time around the house. 

I built a couple of firewood racks to get ready for this delivery as I knew I wasn't going to have enough room on the current rack situation.  Here's a post showing one of the racks that I put a little cedar roof on top of and built with scrap lumber (not all of it treated). 

This post is showing off three of my now 'outdoor racks'.  The past few years, I've kept all the wood that I've bought exclusively inside the screened porch and off the little covered stoop outside my office.  I'll post tomorrow to show those inside…

USGS Crest-Stage Gaging Station - Elizabeth Lake, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin - August 2020

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We were out walking around Elizabeth Lake in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin a couple of weekends back and we came across this setup near Sunset Park.  It is out near the waterline and is kind of set back from the park.  But, because it is shiny, metallic and has that big solar panel and the antenna, it sticks out.  We walked up to it and the sticker on the front told us what it is.  See below:

It is a Crest-Stage Gaging Station operated by the US Geological Survey (USGS).  The sticker goes on to read:
This station is part of a national network for obtaining water-resources information.  The high-water mark recorded by this gage and the discharge of the stream related to it are use for flood forecasting, reservoir operations, design of bridges and culverts, interstate and intrastate water-rights claims and many other projects. It ends with:  for information contact: (nobody).

So, I went digging.  And turns out, the USGS runs a nice little dashboard for each of these USGS Crest-Stage Gaging Sta…

Burlington School Forest - Burlington Wisconsin - August 2020

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One of the activities that we've been doing with the kids this Summer is spending time on walks (or...maybe some of you call them 'hikes') in state parks, on trails and in the forests.  I hesitate to call them hikes because there's VERY little elevation change and we're walking on trails.  After reading this piece about the difference between walking and hiking, I'm actually NOT SURE what we do.  But, it doesn't really matter. 

We've been all pulling up our tall socks, putting on our sneakers and going out on paths.  Both in Illinois (Waterfall Glen) and Wisconsin (Bong and Big Foot, mostly), we get out on trails and spend and hour or two getting into nature with the kids.  On one of our recent trips, Nat found a place called "Burlington School Forest" - which we had driven past a few times. 

Turns out, the local school district (K-12) in Burlington Wisconsin keeps a forest area for their students.  From the school district's site:

The Bu…

Late Summer Firewood Delivery - August 2020

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Last week, I posted a couple of photos of a new firewood rack that I built from scrap wood in an attempt to get ahead of any sort of firewood shortage that some are predicting this year.  I needed that new rack because, I was planning on ordering 33% more than I normally order each late Summer/early Fall.   I've now used the same basic design on two racks that I've posted about and one more that I haven't posted just yet.

This is the fourth season that we've ordered firewood from Best Firewood and third one that we've ordered during this time of year.  This year being the earliest that we've ordered yet - with a late August delivery that you see here in this post.

In 2018, I ordered in late September
In 2019, I ordered in early October.
Due to the rumored 'shortage', in 2020, I ordered in late August.

And, that 33% extra?  I ended up buying three face cords.

1 face cord of Birch
1 face cord of Cherry
1 face cord of Oak

I've also had them stack t…

Morning Mist At Randall Park - Late Summer 2020

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One of the big things that I've started to do every work day ever since we were put into lockdown and I stopped going to the office was getting out for a walk.  It started with a mid-day walk up and down the block a few times a week to loosen up my back and my Psoas muscle.  But, at some point, it changed to a 'first thing in the morning' walk.    For a while, the sun was coming up on my walks and I was greeted with the first light of the day.  I posted a photo from one of these walks back in June when we were up in Wisconsin.  You can see the daylight/sunrise in that photo.

Recently, the days have grown darker in the mornings and I now leave and get back to our house all in the dark.  That's brought some new experiences - including skunks, possums and raccoons picking at cans on the curb on garbage days.

But, it also has shown me some interesting weather experiences like what you see in the photos above and below from Randall Park in our neighborhood.  Randall Park i…

Year Two - Soil Savvy Soil Test Kits Arrived - 2020

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I recently ordered the pair of Soil Savvy test kits that you see above and am going to turn around the soil samples to get my results right away.  I did the same thing last year - ordered two kits in June.  And, in July, I had the results - for both the front and backyard(s).  You can buy the kits directly from Soil Savvy and they give you a little break if you order two of them.  I'm interested to see what has changed in my soil over the past year - and to see how much impact that I have had with my soil amendments and fertilizers. 

For those keeping track at home, #4 on my 2020 to-do list this Summer was to test the soil again.  So, I'm on my way to crossing that one off.

Below, is a look at what is in the package.  You get a little soil scoop, a screw-top container that you deposit the soil sample, a registration card and a padded envelope with pre-paid postage to send the sample in.  In the little container, there's a little bit of (what I think is) water and a little…

Another Kentucky Coffee Tree (South) - August 2020

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Just last week, I mentioned that an arborist that we had come by pointed out a few of the smaller, thin trees on our property were a cultivar called the Kentucky Coffee Tree.  Here's the first one that is on our back fenceline
This post shows the second one - of at least three that I've found so far.   It is located on the south mulch border, between the pool/trampoline and the gate to our neighbor's to the south.  At the top of this post, you can see the canopy of the tree and below, you can see the bark and the trunk of the tree.  I'll be adding it to the caliper list later this year, but it can't be but a little more than an inch.


The trunk is L O N G.  And skinny.  Just look at it below:


It must be 15 feet tall with no limbs coming off the tree at all until the very top.  Now that I know what these two are, I'll start paying more attention to them in the yard.  As I mentioned earlier, there's (at least) one more of these that I'll document here.


DIY Firewood Rack for Backyard - Filled with Ash and Hackberry - August 2020

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A few days ago, I showed off some photos of a firewood rack that I built from scrap lumber in anticipation of our annual Fall firewood order.  In that post, I mentioned that I had some additional scrap lumber around (some treated, some not) around to build a few more racks.  This post, shows at the top another rack that I built from the same basic plans.  The photo above, shows this second DIY firewood rack that I built and placed along the fence in the far back part of our yard.  It is holding just about a face cord of mostly Ash and a little bit of Hackberry/Osage Orange firewood that I acquired form next door in December of 2019.  I started processing the rounds and by March of this year, had the wood stacked on itself along the fence. 

You can see that firewood stack in the post here.  It was fine.  But, it was mostly laying on the ground and I thought I could do better.  So, I took the lumber and got started.  The bottom ledge in this version is large - a 2x10 and I had enough t…

DuPage County - Vote By Mail - 2020 General Election

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With the close of one convention and the start of another one next week, I suppose it is time to remind anyone who is reading this blog post that, if they live in DuPage County, they should get on the stick and request their mail-in ballot.   The county has made it pretty easy - just head here to the DuPage Election Authority's page where you fill out a form with your name, Date of Birth and SSN.  
The County Clerk also sent out this mailer that explains what they have planned for this year - and included instructions on the application.  But, she's also touting that - at some point later this year - you'll be able to 'track your vote-by-mail ballot', which is promising.  I will admit that my disposition is to not really like or admire the government, but if they can make tracking my ballot as easy as I can track my order from DoorDash or Uber Eats, I'll be pretty impressed. 
The last day to request a mail-in ballot in DuPage County is Thursday Oct, 29th - whi…

New DIY Firewood Rack with Roof - Built August 2020

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A couple of years ago, I built a pair of custom-sized firewood racks that I keep in our screened porch.  They're made of Cedar 2x4's (larger than what you find at a Big Box store) and between the two cedar racks, we store a lot of our firewood inside the screened porch during the Winter.  I have another metal rack that I keep outside my office door and between those three racks, I can usually handle the two face cords of firewood that we order each early Fall/Late Summer.  You can see what two face cords of firewood look like in this post from last Fall.  We filled all three racks and had to pile or stack wood up both in the screened porch AND next to the metal rack.  So, we're already in a position to not have enough space for just two face cords.

But, there's a theory going around - and seems to be manifesting itself in the southern hemisphere right now - that there will be a firewood shortage this Winter.  With COVID still here (hi there, pandemic), it would seem t…

Kraemer Cold Pack Cheese - Club Cheese - Summer 2020

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It has been a while since I covered a new Wisconsin club cheese - with the last one being back in 2018.  That club cheese was from the Cheese Box in Lake Geneva; which we haven't been back to as they're taking the pandemic pretty seriously and are only doing curbside.  In terms of my favorite(s), the King of Clubs from Mars takes the top slot.  I found the Bucky Badger stuff to be right up, there, too.

They both are smooth and spreadable.  Just like my gateway drug: Merkts.

This post is about Kraemer Cold Pack Cheese that Nat picked up at a roadside stand.  I think she was there buying corn and saw this and grabbed a container of it - because...well...she's the best.

I opened it up and it was a little bit 'crumbly'.  Kinda like the Glas natural cold pack cheese - that stuff is very crumbly.   But, I liked this Kraemer Cold Pack Cheese Food more than Glas.  Kinda funny that they call it a "Cold Pack Cheese Food" - not just simply "Cold Pack Cheese&qu…

Belgian Fence Espalier - Six Weeks Later - August 2020

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Back in May, I bought and planted eight small Apple trees - three Golden Delicious and five Honeycrisp - along the fenceline in an attempt to make another espalier.  Later, in June and July, I applied the espalier wire in the pattern of a Belgian Fence and started to wire some of them up

This is a six week update from the last time we touched base.  And, unfortunately, it seems that we've lost three of the eight trees.  The one on the far left (#8)- which I didn't prune.  And two more (#3 and #4).  That's one Golden Delicious (#8) and two Honeycrisp (#3, #4).  Here, below is a close-up of the two in the middle that seemeed to have died.  They both were hard pruned and showed some new foliage, but they then exhausted themselves and seemingly perished. 


I'm *not* calling these LOST yet, but I'm thinking that before Fall comes, I will add them to that LOST column for trees. 

If the big box stores carry fruit trees this month for Fall Planting, I'm thinking I sh…

Kentucky Coffee Tree (West) - August 2020

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Yesterday, I mentioned that we had an arborist come over to our house to assess and help us build a plan for a couple of our trees.  While he was there, I asked him about a couple of trees that we have growing in our yard that I was uncertain of the cultivar.  I have had a few trees that I was trying to figure out before, but I've mostly sorted the Walnut/Tree of Heaven/Sumac situation.  But, I had two *other* trees that I didn't seem to fall into any of those categories, but were growing in weird ways.

I've left them up for the past few years, but not because I liked the trees, but because I just couldn't figure out what they were.

I asked the arborist if he could identify them and it took a second for him to tell me:  they are Kentucky Coffeetrees (or Kentucky Coffee Trees, if you'd like).  Turns out, I have (at least) three of them in our yard.  They're all small, but in spots that they can live and grow without much thought.

In the photo at the top, you ca…

Front Yard Maple Lost a Limb - August 2020

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During that Summertime Derecho storm earlier this week, we had some significant damage to one of our front yard trees - the Norway Maple that is right outside of our front porch.  This is the same tree that I posted a photo of earlier this Summer when I spotted some bare spots in the canopy.  I took the photo above while the storm was going on and right after my neighbor texted me that the tree was dropping branches.

This was - in my mind - the 'good side' of the tree, so that's unfortunate.  But, this dropped straight down.  Didn't hit our house, roof, gutter, porch and caused no damage.  So, I'm thankful for that.  And the cleanup wasn't too much.  My neighbor Matt was kind enough to come out and bring his chainsaw to help me cut this up into segments that were manageable in terms of removing and cleaning up.

We ended up with a little bit of firewood that I'll put out on the pile in the back to season for a more than a year (thinking it will be ready to …

Patio Adjacent Pond Location - Backyard Dreaming

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Could it be quarantine that is getting to me?  Seems likely.  As I'm now dreaming about the installation of a small pond and waterfall in our backyard.   This isn't a new idea, as I've posted about water features over the years here on the blog - including a schematic that showed how it could work across our yard in February.  Today, I'm sharing this photo of a spot that is adjacent to our back patio that I'm now focusing my attention on in terms of initial pond placement.  
Below, you can see a schematic (new one) of what I'm thinking (currently) about where things could go and how they'd work together.  Importantly, I'm trying to think about this in phases and making sure that we can make future phases work with the initial undertaking.   
The new schematic calls for a pond located to the south of the patio with a small berm and waterfall that is backed up to where the air conditioning units are located.  Then, utilizing the existing grade, there cou…

I Get Pitches: Eldercare and Senior Living Audience

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I've been publishing here on "Why I Oughta" for more than fifteen years.  And over that time, I've used the blog to reconnect with some childhood/grade school friends, had some of my photos licensed in various ways and have had dozens of journalists, agency folks and some website owners pitch me stories and content opportunities.  
I have a 'contact' page that has a form on it that people can fill out and drop me a line.  
Some of them are interesting (gardening stuff) while others are total SEO-honeypot plays.  Like...'can I publish an article about topic X' for your readers.  
If you haven't figured out by now, this is *my* place online and I don't do guest authors/submissions.  And, I don't run any ads or affiliate links or monetize the blog in any way.  
But, that hasn't stopped the pitches from coming.  And, somehow, I've ended up on a LIST that people who are shilling eldercare/senior living topics want to pitch about placin…

Contorted Larch Tree - LOST - August 2020

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I was out watering some things and noticed that the Horstmann's Recursive Contorted Larch Tree that I bought and planted earlier this year is now gone.  It is now just the tiny trunk.  Seems someone yanked at it and pulled the limb(s) right off as I found it laying next to it.  Bummer.  My fault for not putting up a barrier around the tree to protect it.  (Note to self:  protect things from rabbits AND kids going forward.)

It was a TINY tree, but now it is in the LOST column.  I posted about the Lombardy Poplar that I lost last month here.  Two in a row - not good.

This Horstmann's Recursive was the 51st tree planted. 

51 trees across four planting seasons.

(For now...) 43 of those trees still alive.   But there are signs of trouble on a number of other trees (including some of our apple espalier trees, two of our Chanticleer Pears, the Red Valley Sun Maple and the Crimson King Maple).  That would knock us under 30 trees on hand and more than ten trees lost.  More on that as th…

August Disneyland Roses - No Filter - August 2020

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These things keep doing better than they should.  They are on the southside of our house, in full sun and I've left them alone after I mulched them.  Here's what they looked like in Spring.

They bloomed earlier this year and have kept on going.  Here, below, is a close up of the Western-most plant.


Here, below, is the other one - closer to the front porch. 


I have one more of these that I have to move over by these, but I'm not sure the best time - (seems like Spring before bloom time is the best).