Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Birds Getting in the Garden eating my blueberries!

5 Baby birds in a nest by my front light.  The kids climbed the ladder to look at it.
Since my retirement, one of my favorite things to do has been to work in the garden.  And work it has been!  Three weeks ago we had to cover it with mesh to keep the birds away from the blueberries but we saw one or two in there every morning and had to chase them out the gate because they could not find a way out. 

So Wednesday there were five birds in there so we know we had to do more.  Don bought more mesh and I tied mesh all around the garden in the heat of the day, sweat pouring down into my eyes.  (And I never sweat!)  I had been playing with the kids for the morning and we were going out of town that night or I would not have done it in the heat.  The only place without mesh is the gate.  If any birds get in that way they will have to find their way out or DIE while we are gone.  Julie and Robert were there to pick blueberries and green beans and cukes and squash and did not tell us of any dead birds so I guess there weren't any...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Black Snake eating a baby bird!

This is not the snake but looks just like it!  I had to erase the pictures to have the videos on my camera!

Andrew was visiting and we were looking for Japanese beetles on my roses to squish and kill when Don called us to come to the back of the property by some leyland cupress trees.  There he showed us a six foot black snake with a baby bird in its mouth.  It looked like the picture of a boa constrictor I had seen once.  Here is a video but it hardly moves and you can barely see the baby bird head first in the snakes mouth.  Look for the feet sticking up!

In the next video the snake is moving backwards and the bird is a little more in its mouth.
You can see how it ha moved back and the bird is almost in its mouth!

 The snake is almost retreated back to the more wooded area and has almost swallowed all the bird.

bird is gone into the snake's belly!  Wow!  

Andrew and I decided not to tell anyone so they would not be scared to go back there to play!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How to grow garlic

Don planted garlic last fall for the first time and we watched it grow.  Finally, he picked the garlic when it started "dying".  Here it is hanging on the rafters of the workshop.  We will let it "dry" for 2 weeks.  Then it should be ready to use. 
Last month, I needed some garlic and I wondered what would happen if I picked one early and cooked with it before it was "ready."  They looked great to me!  So I washed it and cut it up and cooked it in olive oil.  It had no cloves to speak of so I just cooked it all like an onion.  It was great!  I don't know if it has a different name when you cook with it like that.
We grew our garlic on the outside border of the garden. But they looked like this.
When just picked.

Don put the garlic hanging from the rafters in the workshop - 108 bulbs!

A total of 93 are hanging.  Don gave away 15 already.

After they are dried, he will cut the roots and the tops.  We will cook and freeze some of them and some we will give away and keep.  Some are going to my favorite chef, my sister, Cristina!  She taught me much of how I cook.

Organizing the workshop

My husband and I are always looking for ways to organize the workshop.
This month from Handyman magazine

Use pie pans cut in half

Good idea to use the 2 inch foam insulation scraps that we didn't use.
I'm going to post the fishing rod organizer made form pvc pipe and a foam noodle, also in the magazine this month.  A picture would not come up!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Healthy Recipes from Doctor Oz

These are definitely some of Doctor Oz recipes that I am going to use.  Don and I love to watch Doctor Oz and we are hopefully more healthy because of his tips.  Since I retired, I want to cook more.

manicotti makeover
I want to try the filling even if I don't use the lasagna noodles.

Fried Steak Remake

This is made with chicken but I want to try it for the Cuban bistec empanizado.

Popped Chickpeas
I love chickpeas.  I want to try this today.  I can't believe that it can actually get crispy.

The Tortoise Life for Me!

My sister sent me a funny email about being retired.  I don't know where it came from, sorry!  Today is Saturday and I felt like this...

As I was lying in bed pondering the problems of the world,

I rapidly realized that I don't really give a rat's hiney.

 It's the tortoise life for me! 

1. If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal.

2. A whale swims all day, only eats fish, drinks water, and is fat.

3. A rabbit runs and hops and only lives 15 years.

4. A tortoise doesn't run and does nothing, yet it lives for 450 years.

And you tell me to exercise??  I don't think so.

                        I'm retired.      Go around me!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Apply for Social Security Benefits

When I retired last year I knew that I wanted to get my social security benefits as soon as possible.  I will be 62 next month and I don't want to wait till I'm 65.  We decided to go to the nearest social security office and went last week.  I talked with my sweet husband about what I needed to take since he went last year.  But, even though I called myself to see what else I needed, I was not told everything. I found out that I didn't need my marriage license since I did file the paperwork back then.  But, I was shocked to find out that they didn't have me down as being an American citizen!  I became naturalized 40 years ago!  It really doesn't affect my benefits, but I wonder if it affected any immigrant data...  

So I took what they told me and was still not prepared when I got there.  
We arrived shortly after they opened at 8:30 so we wouldn't have to wait.  I got a number and sat down.  My husband decided to go to the veteran's administration office to see if he was eligible for some veteran's benefits.  He was in the navy and some friends encouraged him to go.  The office was about 10 minutes away.  He came back way before I was ready to go. :)
When I was called, she asked my address information and updated my profile.  She said she was not the one to do the citizenship change and sent me back out to wait for the next stage of the process.
When I was called next I gave her the documents that they asked.  She questioned me about having social security taken out at my last job and wanted a letter from them or my last pay stub.  One of the school systems close by does not take out social security.  I had to demand that she speak to a supervisor!  Thank goodness, he confirmed that, yes, my school system does take out social security, and so I was able to complete that part of the application.

When I asked if needed the naturalization papers, she said that she could not do that in her computer.  I told her that the other secretary had said that she could not do it.  Well, she had to go the supervisor again and get help, then she did it!
The only thing that I did not have was a check for the direct deposit.  She said that I could call, but would have to wait a day.  I did that today.  
I tried by phone and then decided to do it online.  After registering and writing down all my security question information and changing my password 5 times.  I got to a page that asked for a different, special, password that I had to request.  Well, I tried to request it but it said that there was an error! 
So I got back on the phone and after holding for more than 30 minutes...
I'm done!
National social security phone number: 800-772-1213

Here is then what you need to take to the social security office: I added some more after lots of you wrote to me with your experiences
  • birth certificate
  • social security card
  • marriage license if you did not inform social security when you got married/changed your name
  • W-2 tax form
  • last pay stub if you retired within the taxable year
  • proof that the last workplace took out social security
  • naturalization papers if you became a citizen and did not inform the social security office.
  • direct deposit information 
  • US passport(s) and/or from any other country (if there might be a question about any of the identification above)
  • marriage, divorce, and/or death certificates if married more than once
  • social security numbers of any spouses (though they can look it up)
  • information about previous spouses of your spouse to check their benefits!
Good luck!  I hope that this helps you have a better time of it!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Our Awesome Garden and yard

Andrew, our oldest grandson was over at the house and said that the colors of the flowers looked awesome!  I was amazed that he would say that!  I think that he is still a painter at heart even though he has other interests now.  So I decided to take some pictures.  This year of retirement I have spent more time on the garden and yard. 
You will also see the netting we put on top of the fence protecting the blueberries from the birds.  I actually picked 16 blueberries.  We are having an abundance of green beans and the tomatoes are coming.

Mesh on the top to keep the birds out.  The blueberries are in the back.

Can you see where the deer ate my cosmos flower?