Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I was kinda late this year in setting up the planters - well, with Global Warming and all, this is really the first week this year that the temperatures have stayed above the 40s for more than 24 hours in Wisconsin.  So, I went to Stein's Garden Center and took advantage of the closeouts on bedding plants - got lots of petunias, marigolds, impatiens, dianthus, and snapdragons.
On my way to the checkout, I was caught off-guard.  A rack of tiny Boston Ferns caught my attention with their beautiful green fronds.  I had forgotten how affectionate the little critters could be.  One of them practically begged me to take him home.  I usually don't do impulse buying, so I was a little sheepish when I got it home, in its little plastic pot with fronds protruding from its protective sleeve.  But my wife said "What a cute little t'ing!"  So I knew I was on the right track.  I could put him up in a planter over in the shopping court, where he'd get lots of light and fresh air.  I put him at the top of the steps, to re-plant the following day.

Next morning, however, there were NO fronds protruding from the plastic sleeve - my little fern had been mowed down even with the pot.  I asked Syd if he had seen anybody enjoying the fresh green salad-y flavor of my new fern.  But Syd was busy inspecting the summer quilt-storage arrangements, and couldn't answer any security-related questions at that time.
But ferns are fast to heal, and very understanding about the "pruning".  Mine was no exception.  Within a week, all the missing fronds had filled in, and Fern is living happily ever after!

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sock it To Me

Today's lesson is about thrift.  Now we all know that the government lets us keep part of the money we earn, because we work so hard. But, that money can just slip away from us if we don't take care of it.   Pictured below is a handy savings aid.  It's a cute little folder you can get for free from your nearby bank.  Supplies are limited, so be sure to get there before 1972.  If you fill up this little cardboard folder (there are tiny half-moon slots inside, just the right size for a dime) you will have "squirreled away", in no time at all, Three Entire Dollars.  
Just take this, along with your pass-book, down to your corner bank, and the teller will put this into your savings account for you. Just watch it grow!  In no time at all, you will have fifty dollars, a  hundred dollars, or more!  The magic of compound interest will increase your money as you save, building a secure nest-egg for your future.
And that brings us to today's project.  Now that we have more money than we ever dreamed of, keeping that money safe is of paramount importance.  Let's compare different investment options.
  • Let's take $490.00 in cash, and deposit in our M&I Bank savings account.  
  • For comparison, let's put the same amount in a sock, and toss it under the bed.  

A year later, we pull out the sock, which has accumulated an unbelievable amount of dust - where does all that fur come from?  Reach in, and pull out the money, what have we got?   $490.00 - the money was not in the bank, and so it did not grow.

Now, let's go to M&I and empty out the savings account.  Arrange it on the table, and count it.  Isn't it amazing?  After a year in an M&I Savings account, you now have --- $454.00.  There is less money than there was a year ago because M&I has charged four times a $9.00 per quarter maintenance fee.

So, when it comes to saving your money, the clear choice is:  The Sock!.
Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bye Bye Blackbirds

I always wondered why I heard the birds so clearly from the vacant unit in the back of our shopping court.  Well, I kind of suspected why, but I just didn't have the time to take on another project.  But yesterday, I was forced to face the problem.  How could a bird be living above the ceiling and, apparently, thriving?   They need food, water, and I suppose they'd like a little fresh air and sunshine once in awhile.  (i get that way once or twice a year.)  So, when they started pooping through the cold-air returns, that was above the radar, the Mrs. mentioned that the bird poop might have something to do with the cheeping.   Next thing you know they would be hacking into the WiFi and texting Al Quaida birds living in the Axis of Evil countries.

So, I got the ladder and popped the ceiling tile.  At the time, there was a Cheep-Fest going on up there.  These were not very advanced birds up there.  A bird on one end of the room would say "Cheep" and the bird on the other end would answer "Cheep" and the birds outside would chime in - you guessed it - "Cheep" again.  That was the whole show -- "Cheep".  I think I'd rather wait until it comes out on CD.

When I poked my head in above the ceiling, I found myself looking directly into the beady little eyes of a black bird with a yellow beak.  She just stared at me, from not more than two feet away - no cheeping, just staring, as if she could put a stink-eye on whatever I had in mind.  From the other end, a bird who hadn't gotten the word, said  "Cheep", but this mama was busy, and didn't answer.  Over on the other end, there was a wad of grass and sticks, and this was where the other "Cheep" came from.  I left her tile open, in case old Yellow Beak decided to come out on her own.

At the other end, I saw that the grass and sticks had been tightly wedged between two iron beams.  I got a waste-basket and began to haul down the collection.  After about half a bushel of crap, a little brown bird came flapping and plopping down into the wastebasket.  He was now very quiet too.  Sooo,, Smart Guy, who you callin "Cheep" now?  I took the wastebasket outside, and dumped it on the ground.  The brown guy flew away.  Seemed pretty mature to be living in a nest, but, I guess there are people too who still live in their mother's basement just because they can.  All the while, the first bird was watching quietly from the other end.   She would be a hard one to get out of there.

There were at least two bushels of material between those beams - sticks, grass, debris.  One thing puzzled me - how could they get a two-foot twig in through such a little hole?  The entryway - a gap between the masonry and the roof flashing, only about 2 inches diameter.  I wasn't going to plug the opening before I knew that there were NO birds up there.  As I cleaned up all the debris, swept up above the tiles, and the floor. I wondered how I would know for sure that they were all out.  The next time I went up into the ceiling, I couldn't see the mama.  I could feel her sharp little black eyes looking at me, but from where?   I replaced all the tiles.

There are certain "cheeping times" in the morning when every bird seems to be out and about, and that's when I'm going to seal up the hole.  Mama was NO help. She'll have to keep an eye on the "Rafters Wanted" section of  Craig's List.

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.