Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dispatches from the urban garden front - the great aphid battle of 2016

During my daily garden check Saturday afternoon, I spotted a few aphids lurking on the morning glory.  For some reason, I found their mere presence an affront.  After last year's pepper plant infestation debacle, I plotted and planned my little balcony garden layout with a ruthlessness that was sure to frighten off any invaders.  I posted herb guards around each pepper and went so far as to form a chive moat around one of the larger pepper plants. “HA … get through those defenses”. Who knew aphids liked morning glories? I was so obsessed with keeping them off my peppers, it didn’t dawn on me, the squishy pests would latch onto something else.

With embarassing glee, I flicked the few aphids I found, off the balcony and thought “Got ‘em”. Well … sometime during the night an entire battalion of aphids parachuted onto our 20th floor balcony and infested the entire plant. How could I go from a couple of aphids to a full blown invasion in 12 hrs? The plant was swarmed. I stomped up and down the balcony for a full 5 minutes berating the enemy...

... it soon became painfully obvious aphids don’t have ears.

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A little home DIY that didn’t end up in tears – removing old wood glue from furniture

I’m shockingly lazy when it comes to repairing things around the apartment.  I look at whatever needs fixing, look over at my computer, back at the job and that’s as far as I usually get. Give me a computer to fix and I’m all over the job, but anything that means I might get my hands dirty or end up with a hammer blow to my thumb and I’ll go out of my way to avoid it.  This weekend I finally tackled a small job that sat for months and I’m insanely pleased with how well it went - mostly because I didn’t end up with a bleeding wound.

We have this nice little coffee table that needed the leg put back on. Our apartment is very dry and anything wood suffers. In this case, the coffee table leg became wobbly to the point it simply fell off sometime last winter.  So the table sat in a corner, forlornly waiting for a little bit of attention. The real problem was the wood glue.  I had previously done a bodge job on the same leg. In a vain attempt to stop it from falling off, I applied a shocking amount of wood glue and hoped it would hold. It did for awhile, but seriously, it was a pretty crap attempt and the leg finally dropped off. Over the past few months, I’d look at the insane layer of wood glue on both ends and would roll my eyes in disbelief.   Every time I thought of trying to pry the glue off, my mind glazed over and the job remained undone.

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Who's been fiddling with the thermostat?

Ok, I'm going to ask this nicely ... which one of you has been fiddling about with the thermostat? Come on, 'fess up.  It's now June and this was the temperature last night:

Screenshot of last night's weather

And today:Today's weather

A week and a half ago the temp rocketed into the high 30s and now this? My balcony garden is never going to grow.  


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Finishing off a roadkill kind of week - Win10 installs & glitches

See that picture on the right? That's me curled up in a ball saying "go away". Photo: cat with paws over eyes I really had a lot to write this week but found myself at sea with Win 10’s spontaneous installations. For some reason, a number of customers found themselves staring at their screens in utter disbelief. Without any prompting, their computers upgraded to 10. One person was in the middle of writing a letter when her screen was replaced with a “now installing” alert. To say she was a bit stressed doesn’t even begin to explain how panicky she became.

The installations went in without too many issues, but that isn’t the point. These customers had decided to wait on installing (and in 2 cases didn’t want to upgrade), and resented the forced update. It took a lot of handholding to settle them into a comfort zone with the new software. It isn’t that big a change, but when you are unprepared for it, it can be a shock.

I don’t use the term handholding dismissively. The forced update stirred up all sorts of resentments and anxieties. One customer, in her late 80s, who was extremely stressed. She thought she’d done something that would destroy one of her connections to the outside world. It took nearly half an hour to convince her she didn’t do anything and her computer was fine.  When you don't spend your days working with computers, it's not so easy to figure out what's going on. Today has been the first day free of excited texts, emails and phone calls so fingers crossed.

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Last chance lilacs - balcony lilacs in full bloom

Enjoying the brief and modest display from my lilac tree. They did far better than expected. Not a big showy display, but next year should be better. 

Lilac blooming 2016 May 1 Toronto balcony

They'll be gone by next week, so we're enjoying them while we can. The temp took a U-turn and now we're a little hot and sweaty, but not nearly as bad as the weather forcast was predicting. Hard to believe I was lamenting the ice on the balcony just 2 weeks ago.

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