Friday, February 28, 2020

BOIL WATER NOTICE FOR MILLIONS

The city of Houston has had a bizarre but revealing incident.  Yesterday about midday, a contractor working for the city was moving soil at a pipe repair site and caused a massive rupture in an 8 foot diameter water pipe...a water pipe that supplies water to more than 50% of Houston.

The initial deluge flooded several neighborhoods and left people stranded on car rooftops as an entire freeway was flooded in minutes across all main lanes.

At the office building where I work, we had no water.  No sinks working.  No toilets working.  

Businesses across the city began shutting down.  About mid-afternoon everyone started leaving work early as the mayor asked all non essential businesses to send people home since any building over 2 stories would not have a functioning sprinkler system (obvious fire/human life dangers).


I was at lunch just doing some routine shopping when the boss let us know we could go on home.  I had wondered why every single basket was filled with water.  I ventured to the water aisle and snapped some pictures (above and below).


Here is the reason.  This is the boil water notice for at least 24 hours.  

For Houston...

For ALL of Houston...

Population 2.3 million people...  

That is TWO MILLION PEOPLE who went to work on a normal workday and in an instant their way of life, albeit temporarily, was changed. 

In case you are wondering how this warning looks, this is what his was sent out everywhere via emails, texts, automated phone calls and news media:

"Due to reduced distribution system pressure, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has required the Houston Main Water System (TX1010013) to notify all customers that they must boil their water prior to consumption (e.g., washing hands/face, brushing teeth, drinking, etc.). Children, seniors, and persons with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to harmful bacteria, and all customers should follow these directions.

To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.

In lieu of boiling, individuals may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, the public water system officials will notify customers that the water is safe for drinking water or human consumption purposes.  Once the boil water notice is no longer in effect, the public water system will issue a notice to customers that rescinds the boil water notice in a manner similar to this notice.

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail."


This has been a real eye opener not only for us personally but to watch the news.  We actually still have two cases of water from hurricane season and we regularly keep a couple of 1 gallon containers of spring water to use for our coffee maker and things like that.  We're good (as long as it's just a couple of days) but it really is interesting to see how fragile our connection is to the things we take for granted, like turning on a faucet and having clean, potable water come out.  


At the farm we have well water.  Someday when we are there full time, we shouldn't have to worry too much about things like this though we do realize some extreme event could contaminate well water.  Still that would be less likely than a city having a boil water notice after a disaster of some sort.

But what if this was not over in 24-36 hours?  What if the boil water notice had to last for days or even weeks?  There is a fine line separating normal life from chaos.  One would hope that other resources (state/federal) would step in to get water to people that needed it but again, this happened in one afternoon, out of the blue, and affected 2.3 million people.  This was more widespread than our last two major hurricanes.  What if they couldn't put together a safe system in a day or so?

Anyone have any good water emergency advice?  Things you do to prepare?


Thursday, February 27, 2020

SEATING AROUND A TREE INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm. Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!


Here is another seating around a tree that we like.  This may be some ready made kit but as I studied it I got to thinking it might be somewhat easy to recreate.  Some small benches or end tables, matching of course so they are all the same size/height and then connecting them by tops that become the sitting surface.  Need to study it a bit more but it still gives us an idea.  

We have the wooded area I cleared a few years ago.   There are five or six large straight up and down trees. 2nd Man said it might be a neat idea to put something like this around several of the trees. That's a good idea and why we post these...to share an idea we saw with all of you AND to remember later that time we had a brainstorm, ha. 

Be inspired!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

CHRISTMAS BARGAIN IN FEBRUARY

Wait, what?

OK, since I had to work in the days after Christmas, I missed some of the always great post Christmas deals.  I've scored a few rolls of wrapping paper and some gift bags (we even find quite a few of those in the recycling area of our building, ha).  I had given up that I'd find anything fun and different until I was  coming back from the farm.  I stopped at HEB (grocery store chain) and I found these! 

It's after Valentines Day and they still had these on clearance from Christmas!


They are heavy glass bottles with metal lids and hard reusable straws.  I was thinking milk and cookies, 2nd Man thought of some cool Christmas cocktail of some sort.  These are the four styles they had.  


You can see here they were marked down to a $1.00.  Originally $5 each.  Because it had been so long since Christmas, the sign said "additional discount on already low price".  The cashier rang them up and they scanned at .25 cents each!


We ended up with six of them.  Yep, a whopping $1.50, ha!  We wanted eight because we always try to get things like this in a service for eight but since this was all they had on the shelf, six will have to do.

Now to pack them away until next season!

Nothing like a Christmas bargain in Spring.  But then again, I was downstairs in the recycling area and someone who JUST thrown out a Christmas tree!  And we're guessing that somewhere in a neighborhood near you, there is at least one house with the lights still up!

Monday, February 24, 2020

RUGBY BLOSSOMS RAIN AND A FREEZE

This was another odd weekend weather wise.  Saturday was nice and warm for a bit but then it got colder.  We had a rugby game to attend Saturday night and it was definitely chilly.


It was a good game, back and forth in scoring, tied at one point, and really close but in the end, we lost.

Houston Sabercats 13
Old Glory DC 22 


The Zen Machine is still getting it's annual maintenance so I couldn't mow even though I need to.  I got to the farm on Sunday and as it turns out, the weather was worse than Saturday.  Heavy clouds, colder and it looked like rain any moment.


As I walked around to check on things, look what I found!  Spring is coming!  This is the nectarine tree with a few blooms on it...


This is one of the apple trees...more blooms!


This is one of the plum trees, blooms coming soon...


And look at this!  An actual peach on the peach tree!  Spring is definitely coming but so is...


...a freeze!  A light freeze is forecast for midweek, the low will be 32 in the Houston area and the farm is supposed to get to about 31.  It's just for a couple of hours so no worries for anything like a hard freeze but I did have to get us prepped with the plants.


I put the box around the banana trees on the porch and covered the other sensitive plants.  I also covered the citrus with the frost cloth but it's not going to be subfreezing and won't last long enough to worry about heating the trees with the Christmas lights.  We are hoping this is the last one for this season.  All things considered, we have had a VERY mild Winter this year and we're OK with that.


Just about 5 minutes after I finished what I needed to do, I was sitting on the porch to relax for a bit and it started raining.  It was time to pack up and leave.

It was a good weekend, all things considered.

Now I just need the Zen Machine back.

Friday, February 21, 2020

PANCAKES OR WAFFLES FOOD DEBATE

It's time for the "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some of the burning questions of the culinary world...LOL!

This week, the burning question is:


We haven't done one of these in a few weeks and thought it was time again.  We saw this online and immediately thought "this is a great question!"

Pancakes and waffles...two similar main dish breakfast items.  After they are cooked, on the plate, they both are covered in butter, syrup and/or other things like fresh fruit or whipped cream and served with perhaps sausage or bacon.  Still, in the end it comes down to a choice.  Would you rather have someone give you a breakfast plate with some waffles or a stack of pancakes? 

Around here, we are split but it's still close.  2nd Man makes an awesome pancake batter.  He also makes a great waffle batter.  We enjoy them both, but if you MADE me choose, I'd choose waffles.  I like the crispy exterior and fluffy interior and I love the little squares that I can fill with syrup, ha!  2nd Man loves a big stack of pancakes.

So...which camp are you in, team pancake or team waffle?



Wednesday, February 19, 2020

CLASSIC TUNA CASSEROLE RECIPE

This is one of 2nd Man's favorite meals that I make for him.  I know it's weird for some, the thought of tuna casserole may bring up bad memories and flashbacks to the 70's, ha.  This is sort of my own recipe adapted from my Mom and Grandmother as it evolved over the years.

Since it's a casserole, the recipe is flexible.  If you don't like peas don't use them. If you'd rather have canned or shredded chicken you can use that, cream of chicken soup instead of mushroom, different kind of noodles, different cheese varieties, etc.  

Tuna casserole ingredients
Not many ingredients and super easy to put it all together.  

Mixing tuna casserole
Cook the fettuccine noodles for about half the time the package says, usually around 4 to 5 minutes (they will finish in the oven).  Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir gently until combined.

Tuna casserole
Spread the mixture into a greased 13x9 casserole dish and top with reserved shredded cheese.  Put into preheated 425 degree oven for 18-20 minutes.

Baked tuna noodle casserole
We like the top very browned so I turn on the broiler and let it go for a few minutes longer or until cheese on top is browned and bubbling to your likeness.

Classic comfort food - tuna casserole
Dish it up and enjoy.  It's definitely the definition of comfort food on a plate.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans tuna in spring water, drained
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 cups shredded cheese blend (3/4 cup reserved for topping)
  • 1 bag of frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 lb fettucine noodles cooked/drained

For step by step, see photos above...

Enjoy!

Monday, February 17, 2020

DEER FENCING IDEA

Recently, I posted about our "freeze protection" solution for the citrus.  After looking at the pictures and thinking about it, we think we might be able to use that base infrastructure idea to create some deer proofing for our fruit trees later this Spring.


This is sort of what we had in mind.  Getting some more garden stakes, taller of course, and then using them as the underlying support to wrap something around them.  Either deer netting of some sort or we've read that just line/twine of some sort spaced around the poles can deter deer as they try to poke around looking for something to eat.

We tried some home type remedies.  One was soap in bags hanging from branches, they just ate the fruit around them.  We also hung CD's in branches to deter deer and birds.  That didn't work either.  


Just seems like netting or something similar is going to have to be the best solution.  We're starting to think now because in two or three months we'll (hopefully) start having fruit forming and we'll need to be ready with a plan.  We realize we probably won't win all the battles but we'd like to ultimately win the war, ha.

Any other ideas?


Saturday, February 15, 2020

HOUSTON SABERCATS SEASON OPENER



We didn't realize we had some rugby fans that follow the blog.  Several of you asked how our local professional rugby team did last weekend (a week ago today actually) in their season opener and did we have any pictures to share?  The Houston Sabercats played the Colorado Raptors.

I took several hundred pictures (using the repeat shutter mode does that).

Here are a few (as always click to enlarge):


The game started and we scored almost immediately.


Rugby is such an amazing sport.  These guys do this with virtually no protection.  A friend of ours was as a game recently and said "they have no helmets and no padding!".


The guys are athletes for sure and without a doubt it's a rough and tumble sport 


This is called a scrum, one of many.


It was a great game with scoring back and forth between both teams but in the end...


...we were victorious!

Sabercats 21 Raptors 12


A really cool thing that rugby teams do is after the game, each player makes their way along the stands to shake hands, give high fives or just say thanks to each fan who stays.

You can tell by the smiles on their faces that they love interacting with the fans.


Speaking of fans, this season we have a new member of the team.  We have a mascot!  He's a Sabercat (of course) and his name is SCRATCH!  What a great personality he has and he is very fan friendly as well!

Here's to a great season!



Friday, February 14, 2020

VALENTINES DAY 2020


Well here it is, the holiday that people either love to love or love to hate. 

If you're single, maybe you hate it.

If you're dating or married, maybe you love it.
(of course maybe you hate it then too).

Around here, sometimes we do cards, sometimes we do candy, but we always try to have a nice dinner.  Usually in, sometimes out.  If we do dine out, we always do it on another night out around the holiday so we don't have to fight the crowds.

So what about the day?  How do you feel about the holiday?  Is it too commercial now?  Do you quietly celebrate in your own way?  We always say how much we love each other regardless of the day.  But hey, just like most any of the other holidays that you could argue are too commercialized, they are still fun to celebrate in some small way.


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

NEW TRAIL CAM

And lastly, some of you probably remember when we would post videos and pictures from one of our trail cams we had set up.  Well one died completely and the other is just working sporadically.  They are rated for outdoor use of course but I guess after a couple of years in our extreme weather they just stopped working completely.


So we had to order a new one.  Since we weren't sure this time around, we just ordered one.  It's basically the newer version of the ones we had.  

I put it up on a post on the porch.


I guess the settings are more sensitive that the last ones or have more options because in a whole week, this is all we captured.  There was a video captured as well and this was two deer that ran through the front yard (in the video you see a second one).  

There were other pictures captured but there was nothing living on the image.  Just still photos of the front yard but no animals or birds or even a Bigfoot.   Something triggered it to take a photo but nothing there.  Probably wind or leaves or something.

So this past weekend I adjusted the sensitivity and repositioned it and we'll see what we capture this week.  We would rather have some of the daytime photos because you can make out much more detail. Unless the night photo is a bobcat or coyote or something like that, then that's OK too.  

The deer still being around reminds us that we have to start thinking ahead to fruit bearing season and how we will prevent them from eating all the fruit.

Monday, February 10, 2020

RAINY DAYS AND SUNDAYS

Well Saturday was a blast, more on that tomorrow, but Sunday was, well...


Not anything like Saturday.  It was overcast, sprinkling and just a general messy day.  Since it was not going to be a productive day for both of us to be there, 2nd Man stayed in town and I went out because if nothing else, I had to get the Zen Machine ready to be picked up for its appointment.

When I got unloaded and sat on the porch for a bit to get ready, it opened up and poured rain.  For about 3 minutes.  Then it was back to gray and heavy clouds.  I realized as I went to the mower shed, the ground was not wet.  The rain was brief and just didn't get much wet.  I decided to see what I could get done.

I didn't really have to mow but I did make a few passes around the driveway and front yard just to keep things tidy. Then I started on what I had originally wanted to do...brush clearing!

Here are some examples:


This whole area was overgrown with brush.  It's all dormant now so it is easy to mow over.  The area around the white lines is newly clear.  Prior to this we couldn't even walk through here. 


Now this photo is a bit different.  This is off the driveway (at the top part of the photo).  The narrow path between the white lines is where I used to mow.  That was it.  Just a path the width of the mower deck.  Now you can see how much more space has been cleared out.

All of that inside the white lines is new space.


Here is another example. Again, all the stuff outside the white lines is newly cleared.  You might ask why I didn't just go ahead and clear all of it.  Well these are mesquite trees.  You can see that they grow really low to the ground.  On a riding mower it actually hurts to get too close to them (thorns).


Same thing on these.  I cleared all of this area, creating new paths through the trees but couldn't get very close to the trees themselves.  However, this will make it easier to get underneath and trim branches. Then I can use the trimmer to clear the rest of the grass and it will eventually be easier to get to.


In some areas I just create whole new paths that didn't exist before like this meandering path...


...and in other areas I just widen the existing ones.  Over the course of a couple of seasons the sides of the places I mow start to encroach on the path.  Above is an example of widening a path.  I take advantage of the off season and clear them back again making it easier to keep neat and tidy.  

Sure, this may give me more to mow, but over time as it stays cleared, they don't grow back as fast and eventually it just become grass without the brush.  Much easier to maintain.


Alas, as much fun as I was having, I checked the radar and rain was moving back into the area.  I parked the mower outside, let it cool down and then I covered it using the same method as a couple of seasons ago when the same thing happened, rain on the mower pick up day.  I covered it with a plastic painter's tarp and with wind blowing, I took some rocks and put them around to weigh it down.

We need to get a cover for it.  It stays in the shed year round but there are a few times like this when it does sit outside so a cover would be good to have on standby for use when needed.

As this posts, they should be picking it up and it will get all the fluids changed, belts inspected and tightened, filters changed and blades sharpened.  They also wash it and make it look pretty, ha!

Hope you had a good weekend, tomorrow more on the rugby game.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

FUN WEEKEND AHEAD

Many weekends lately, especially in the Winter months are lazy and we get a break.  This weekend though will be busy, for a change.

 

First up is the season opener of our city's rugby team, the Houston Sabercats.  We have season tickets and this will be the first season with all games at the new stadium.  We are looking forward to it.  The stadium is really nice and our section will have in-seat food and drink.  We downloaded an app, loaded the payment info and then we can just tap what we want and they bring it to us with no standing in lines.  We LIKE that idea, though it might be easy to overdo, moderation!

For those who are curious about rugby and/or want to see our team and new stadium, for the first time ever, the game will be aired live on ESPN! 11am CST.  Our seats are center field section just a couple rows back.  Look for us, LOL!


Saturday afternoon is errand running including hitting up a new grocery store that opened nearby.

Saturday night will be a fabulous dinner of some sort.


Sunday it's off to the farm where I will of course water what needs to be watered.  One project will be to edge around the fruit tree beds and then...


...it will be time for some Zen Machine fun.  I mentioned in a post earlier in the week that the plan is to clear some new areas, widen some trails, mow under some trees, etc.  It will probably dull the blades but the reason I am doing it Sunday is because we scheduled the John Deere dealer to come pick it up on Monday morning for its annual maintenance.  They do a lot including changing the oil, filters, tightening belts etc and most importantly they sharpen the blades.  

More updates with pictures coming Monday.

Have a great weekend!