Archive for April, 2008

Goodbye doesn’t mean forever

I’m not really a materialistic person, but I am sentimental.  I try to be realistic.

This summer my wife needs to transport not only our two boys, but also at least one of their friends.  All 3 or 4 of them, by law, require booster seats with shoulder belts until they are 8 years old.

When we bought our 2000 Ford Taurus station wagon with it’s rear-facing 3rd row seat right before H. was born in 2001, we thought we would have the law covered for years to come…because in 2001 kids were allowed to stop using their booster seats at age 4 or so.

So believing all would be well, in 2002 I bought what can only be described as my dream car, a 1996 Lincoln Town Car, Cartier edition.

1996 Lincoln Town Car Rear

We just didn’t anticipate the law change, especially the part about shoulder belts being required.  Somebody’s in bed with the newer car dealers I think.  So unfortunately we need a minivan.  Realistically speaking, my car needs to be the trade.  The station wagon is 4 years newer and has 180,000 fewer miles:

Town Car Mileage in late April 2008

Why do I care that I’m trading away this car?  To put it simply…it is a complete masterpiece.  The exterior design is truly a thing of beauty.  The 26+ MPG on the highway is pretty good for a 4,400 pound vehicle that is one of the safest on the road, even at 12 years old.

1996 Lincoln Town Car Hood Ornament

I’ll miss this car!  And “one day” I’ll have another one, even if it means completely refinishing one at great expense.  How horribly worldly does that make me sound?  I feel bad that I care about “stuff” this much.

Don’t hang on.  Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and sky.  It slips away.  And all your money won’t another minute buy…

If my house burned to the ground while I was at work today, the thing I would be most upset about was that all my fish and my cat died.  I strive to be realistic and just know that things change, things wear out, it’s all dust in the wind.  But I’m falling short because I’m quite sad to see my car leave.

1996 Lincoln Town Car spacious interior

Spacious interior.

Lincoln badge and logo

Goodbye car

Rear seat vanity mirrors in 1996 Lincoln Town Car Cartier

Goodbye rear seat vanity mirrors

1996 Lincoln Town Car Cartier leather seats

Goodbye leather seats and Cartier logo

Definitely the best $7,800 (minus trade-in) $5,665 I ever spent.



First vegetable of the season

First vegetable of the season

Yes, this radish is still a baby, but I couldn’t resist trying a few so early.  They did just fine with cold weather, even got snowed on a few times…once while still tiny seedlings.  Produced 2 to 3 weeks slower than stated on the packet, but still did very well!

The greens taste just like the radish!

This bunch was actually started in a container before the dirt was delivered.


Garden layout plan 2008

Shady Garden

The plan:

Bed 1 (completely planted)-

  • Snow Peas along the fence  (need to re-seed, the first ones rotten in the ground) (or maybe I’ll put sweet corn here along the fence)
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • A few lettuces here and there

Bed 2-

  • Radishes and Carrots
  • Green onions
  • A cabbage or two
  • Sugar Baby and Charleston Gray Watermelons

Bed 3-

  • Shelling peas along the fence
  • Green pepper and Jalapeno
  • Cucumber and Zuchinn

Bed 4-

  • 12 tomato plants.  3 Rutgers, 3 Super Marmande, 4 Gardener’s Delight and 2 Cold Set.

Bed 5-

  • Pole beans and bush beans
  • Cantaloupe
  • Jackolantern pumpkins
  • Simon’s mini pumpkin gourd

Bed 6-

  • New strawberries

This is what they looked like before they were full of dirt. I’ll have to get an update to show them now.

It\'s a work in progress!

Charcoal grill frame becomes a table. Re-use!

Rusted-through Charcoal Grill

So it’s Earth Day. Woo-hoo. 😐 I try to think like that most of the time, so it’s not really a once-a-year event for me. But I suddenly saw the irony of the date as I was loading up the station wagon with a load of junk that a friend offered to let me chuck into his dumpster. I had a project just sitting there waiting for me.

Rusted-through Charcoal Grill

Rusted through! I used this $19.99 charcoal BBQ grill for 4 or 5 seasons and when I opened it this spring, I could see right through it. Oh well, time for a new one. So I got a replacement that didn’t have the little plate shelf.

Rusted-through Charcoal Grill

With this old grill in the garage awaiting death, on Sunday I grilled for the first time of the season. I really, REALLY missed that little wooden counter space to put my stuff. I figured I was just going to have to buy a little table to set next to my cheap grill.

Then, as I was about to throw away the old grill it hit me! That’s a pretty nice framework under there! That part isn’t rusty at all!. Hey let’s make THAT into a table! I just need more slats!

Earth day project...table from grill frame

I found a piece of scrap plywood in the garage and ripped it down to size on the table saw. An hour of drilling and sanding and it was done.

Finished table made from a charcoal BBQ grill\'s frame and wheels.

I put a coat of water seal on it, but I might still end up painting the whole thing to get a bit more consistency. I’m not totally digging the look of old wood with new, but I did make a free table from stuff on hand and I did avoid throwing the frame and wheels in the trash!

New grill, meet old grill frame.

Here it is next to it’s new cousin. I think they will be happy together.

Update: 6 months later…

After a couple seasons outside in the weather, the table is holding up perfectly and has acquired a more uniform look.  I decided not to paint it and I am glad I didn’t.  The boards match pretty well now and I’m very happy with this.  I’ll have this around for several more years.

After 6 months weathering outside

After 6 months weathering outside

UPDATE in 2012:

This table is still standing next to my grill outside, a few years later, and working out wonderfully.

Well, in this case it’s BEHIND the grill, but there it is.  The red grill shown in this picture isn’t the same one shown a few pictures above.  It’s very similar, but was made with thinner metal, flimsier legs and no extra cooking shelf inside.

Tempting Tomato Fate

I planted out four of my 12 tomato plants last night.  One each of Super Marmande, Rutgers, Gardener’s Delight and Cold Set.

According to the chart I found for Illinois historic temperatures, after April 24th there is only a 10% chance of having another 32 degree night.

Tonight’s low is supposed to be 41, and the forecast shows the daily low rising for the next 6 nights. Hopefully there won’t be any frost tonight, but even if there is, I have more plants ready.

Duck Sauce

My 4-year-old son has seemingly always wanted to be a chef.  Here’s a little picture of him making egg salad when he was 3 1/2:

Gourmet Egg Salad

He insisted on not having any help, at all, even on ingredient selection.  On his own he put together boiled egg, mustard, raw chopped onion, romaine lettuce and just a touch of ketchup.  Add a little salt and pepper and it’s done.

He wouldn’t try it but dad had to!  The only thing I would have done differently would have been to peel ALL the shell off the egg (crunch, crunch) and watch the salt a bit.

SO tonight at dinner we were having pork chops with a rice dish on the side.  Cute little guy tells dad that the rice is great and asks me what’s in it.  Mmmmm, butter and duck sauce, mainly.

Oh yeah dad? What’s duck sauce?

So I find myself explaining, to a 4 year old budding chef, that this particular duck sauce is basically a pineapple and red & green pepper jelly.

It just seemed like it should have been all way over his head…but he’s tucking it away in that brain of his I know it.

Seed table 2008 after 5 weeks

Here I am tonight at my seed table.  I’m sitting down about a foot under the ceiling of our crawl space.

Goofy Man at his seed table

The tomatoes below were planted March 5th.  I’ve been able to keep most of them down to between 8 and 9 inches high by keeping the lights close to them.


I have three double-40-watt-bulb fixtures over the seedling table.  The fixture on the right side of the photo below is hanging higher on one end in order to provide a height gradient to match the growth rates of all sorts of different plants.

View from the side

A tray of all the seeds I’m trying in 2008.

Seed packets

Starting the last few seeds…zuchinni.  Also in the photo below are jalapeño and green pepper, cantaloupe and the cups of the tomatoes.

Starting the last few seeds

My son has one of his mini-pumpkin gourd plants started and seems very proud.



Smilin\' Simon


As I said in another blog post, my broccoli and cauliflower plants were all already transplanted outdoors.  It’s 42 degrees outside tonight and forecast to reach 30 by morning.  I’ve taken steps to keep them a bit warmer!

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