Cheap Fun With a Long Wait (Part 2)

Here are my pomegranate and apple “future trees”. I’m not sure what happened to the apple trees that were occupying the now vacant spots. I have planted some more seeds from the same batch of apples and I’m hoping they will sprout so that I will have six “future apple trees”.


I’m Back

Our daughter got a new job and asked if we could help her move from northern Michigan to southern Michigan. We couldn’t refuse the plaintive, “Mommmmmm……Daaaaadddddd……Pleaseeeeeee”, so we decided to make a vacation out of it as well.

Her old apartment building has three floors and no elevators, and of course, her apartment was on the third floor. Fortunately, most of the stuff was fairly light, so it wasn’t too bad.

Once we got her moved into her new place, this time on the second floor of a building with elevators, we then went on the vacation part of the trip. We visited my wife’s high school friend, one my wife’s cousins, my cousin and friends in southern Illinois and Missouri. We also stopped at the Station Inn in Nashville, TN to listen to some live bluegrass music.

If you love live music, you should visit the Station Inn. At first glance, the place looks like a dive bar, but looks are deceiving. The place books world class bluegrass and (old time) country music artists. Even better, the place is small enough that the farthest away seats are no more than 30 feet (10 meters) from the stage.

In total, we drove about 4,000 miles/6500km. On the trip to northern Michigan, we used the interstate highway system as much as possible. On the way home, it was the opposite…we used the interstate highways as little as possible. The interstate highways are good for “getting there in a hurry”, but the secondary roads are good for “seeing the countryside”.

50 Years a Ham

On September 8, 1972 the US Federal Communications Commission issued me a novice class amateur radio license. I was 11 years old.

The novice class license was the beginner level license and had very limited privileges….and the tests reflected the beginner status. Passing the novice class test required I successfully transmit and receive Morse code at 5 words per minute, plus pass a 20 question written exam covering regulations, basic safety precautions and beginner level technical issues.

Fifty years later, the requirements seem very simple. To an 11 year old that had limited electronics knowledge, the process was quite daunting.

The ham radio hobby launched me into my career as an electrical engineer specializing in radio systems design.


I was putting loose change into rolls today and, as usual, I look at the dates on the coins.

A 1970 penny.

I remember January 1, 1970 well. Nothing important happened but I remember that morning as if it was earlier today.

My parents were out in the family room watching some television program I wasn’t interested in watching, so I was in their bedroom, laying on their bed, watching the Rose Parade. I was 9 years old.

In 1970, television reception was something new to me. Up until the first moon landing, we had no reception. The day before the moon landing in July 1969, a group got a mountain top TV relay station going on one channel. It was another week before two other channels were added to the system. The channels broadcast the ABC, CBS and NBC networks.

Anyway, I remember thinking that this was the first time I’d seen the start of a new decade and also thinking the next new date thing for me would be when the century changed. The year 2000. I remember thinking that I’d then be 39 years old, which was *OLD* and then discounted the whole thought as being too far into the future to even be imaginable.

The bedspread on my parents’ bed was avocado green with a pattern of raised lines going the length of the bed. Two lines close together, a space, two more closely spaced lines and continuing this pattern across the bedspread. The television was a Montgomery Ward brand 9 inch black and white model that had a cream colored plastic case. The antenna was a UHF bow tie looking device that attached to the television’s VHF telescoping rod antenna.

I remember all of this, but I don’t remember the details of the Rose Parade. It’s odd as to what gets remembered and what is forgotten.

Cheap Fun With a Long Wait

One of my favorite apples is a variety called Pink Lady. This type of apple is also called Cripps Pink…same apple, different name.

Last week I noticed that the seeds in one of the Pink Lady apples looked like it was sprouting, so I planted the seeds. Five of the six seeds have sprouted.

I did some reading about apple trees and I *think* I found a few interesting (to me) things about them.

  • Apple seeds must be chilled for quite a while before they will sprout, so the apples I was eating likely spent a long time in cold storage before they were set out on a store shelf.
  • Apples need to have some time where the outside temperatures are cold. I live in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6, which I hope has winters cold enough for the apples to thrive.
  • It will take several years before the seedlings have turned into trees that are capable of producing apples.
  • Most apple trees will not pollinate blossoms on the same tree, nor will a tree pollinate blossoms on other trees of the same variety. So, to get apples (several years from now) I need some other variety of apple trees growing nearby.
  • Since the seeds that have sprouted came from two different apple varieties, the apples I will (hopefully) eventually get will not be Pink Lady apples, but I won’t know for several years.
  • I like the Pink Lady apples, but my wife hates them, so I will likely plant some trees from the nursery that really are Pink Lady apples and a variety that my wife likes. She likes the sweet and almost mushy apples, so I need to find some sweet and mushy apples that will blossom about the same time as the Pink Ladys and my “who knows what” apples.

I have left a message with the local USDA Cooperative Extension Service office to get some specific advice on apple varieties. The person I talked with on the telephone has referred my question to their “apple expert”.

While the person I talked with was not an apple expert, they were very familiar with grapes and cherries and we talked about them.

They were also *very* interested in my tiny pomegranate tree and they asked me to keep them informed about it’s progress. Most pomegranate varieties do not do well in cold climates, but this one may be different. The seed that sprouted is the “grandchild” of a tree that was growing in the mountains of northern Iraq. It is quite cold there in the winter and we are hoping it will do well in this climate.

Joyful Dog

Our 16 year old yellow lab dog died not long before we moved to our new place, so we moved with only our 12 year old black “who knows what” dog. We went from two dogs, to one dog, from homes on 1/8 of an acre of land to homes on 20 acres of land, from a landscape of mostly concrete, asphalt and lawns, to natural undisturbed hi-desert “landscape”, from traffic noise to almost absolute quiet.

We also went from him always being a on a leash when not in the back yard to him being on a leash only at night when he can disappear into the darkness and from seldom being able to be in the car to nearly always being able to ride in the car.

I love it. My wife loves it. Our dog loves it.

It is amazing watching the dog wander about the land. There have been a lot of monsoon rains and the grasses/desert plants are tall and green. If he gets more than a few yards from me, all I usually see is his tail sticking up in the air. Sometimes he trots, sometimes he runs full speed, sometimes he stops…checking the P-mail, most likely.

This morning, a grasshopper caught his attention. I could hear the grasshopper as it flew and I could see the dog run after the grasshopper. Every now and again, the dog would jump in the air, snapping at (and missing) the grasshopper as it flew. Eventually he lost track of the grasshopper and he went back to just exploring.

Yesterday afternoon it was a small toad and later a Pinacate Beetle. He wasn’t sure what to do about the toad, so he just stood there watching it. The toad’s instincts–stay very still and the threat will go away–were correct. Eventually interest in the toad was lost and his attention turned to the beetle. The beetle did it’s customary “stand on its head” maneuver, which got the dog’s attention. A couple of tip overs due to nudges from the dog’s nose, caused the beetle to spray some stinky and mildly irritating, but harmless, liquid. The dog jumped back and the beetle scurried away. I think the spray must have lingered in his nose as we immediately went back to the house. When he saw another beetle this morning, he stood back from the beetle and just watched as the beetle scurried along about it’s business.


Tomorrow my wife and I are driving to a friend’s summer cabin for a “holiday weekend camp out” with two other couples. The couple that owns the cabin stays in their cabin, we stay in our camper and the other couple stays in their RV trailer.

The weekend will be spent listening/playing Bluegrass music. It’s an interesting group. My wife, a nuclear engineer/physics teacher plays banjo, the veterinarian plays guitar and fiddle and the airline pilot plays the mandolin.

The neighbor (at the summer cabin) is a television reporter that does human interest stories and the reporter is supposedly interested in doing a story about this bluegrass group.

I don’t play music, but I do like listening to it. So, I’ll be doing a lot of reading while I’m listening to the music. On the way to the cabin, we will be stopping at the local library for books.

Running and Chores

Unlike our city home, with it’s back yard completely enclosed by a block wall, our new home has only a yard and it’s not enclosed. So, we can’t just have a small door for the dog to go outside on his own. 6am is about the time we wake up and the dog wants outside around 6:30am. At least one of us goes with him to keep him out of trouble (coyotes) and because we enjoy watching him as he wanders/runs/sniffs around the property. It takes him about 15 minutes to check his P-mail, and when he’s done with that, he RUNS twice around the house and then waits at the door to be let back inside.

Around 7am, my wife and I go running. There is a 2 mile loop we do that is on dirt roads with nearly zero traffic. I had not been running lately because I managed to hurt my knee by kneeling on a stone while I was changing a tire. It’s certainly good to get back running. I missed it. Along the route is a horse that always comes up to the fence and tries to get my attention. I used to stop and rub the horse’s neck but the horse’s owner asked that I not do that. So, the horse is now disappointed when I run by.

I finally got around to putting the little registration stickers on the Jeep’s license plates and putting the registration documents into the under seat tool box. And, after that, I drove the three Jeeps (one at a time) about 5 miles around the neighborhood. Along the way, I stopped and talked with the neighbors that were out….in some cases, making an initial introduction of myself. In each case, I made sure to tell them that I was willing to help them if the need arose…and I got my first chance….pulling hay off of a trailer.

Locks. The lock on the camper door was starting to get a bit unreliable about unlocking. So, I took the lock off of the door and closely examined it. There are a couple of tiny screws that were lose, so I tightened the screws, lubricated the lock with powdered graphite and reinstalled the lock……it’s working perfectly now.

It’s only the early afternoon and I’m done with today’s “gotta get it done” stuff. Now I can work on tomorrow’s stuff before tomorrow becomes today or even yesterday.