Picture of gold and black ladybird beetle
For fans of Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, Goldbug is on this page.
Sorry the picture is not perfect. After the first shot, she flew away.

Bad News, Good News

Saturday, my son and I were cutting up the accumulated brush and fallen limbs from 3 years of dry weather. I try to keep the pile small so it is not unsightly. But with the drought that we have had, I did not feel it was safe to burn. I had started on it a year or so ago when my old McCulloch chainsaw went bust.

Bad news: New Homelite chainsaw in hand, we were cutting off small lengths and burning to make a pile of coals to grill some hot dogs.  We had got about 20% of the pile done, and actually about all that we could do in that afternoon, the exhaust note changed from a motor sound to a sharper, harder sound.  I thought at the moment that it sounded like a large model airplane.  My son pointed to an object on the ground where I was cutting.  I quickly stopped the saw.  It seems the screws had come out of the muffler and the muffler had fallen off.  No wonder it sounded like a model airplane.  It was just like a 2-stroke model airplane engine with no muffler.  As in a model airplane engine the combustion chamber is open to the world when the piston clears exhaust port.  Big noise.  And the screws were nowhere to be found in the rubble and stubble under the brush pile.

That was on Saturday.  I was busy Sunday and Monday but had Tuesday off.  I called the Homelite toll-free help number.  The menu options had changed to better serve the customers.  The number one option on the first menu was “…to get the correct fuel-to-oil ratio for your power tool”. Option 2 was anything else.  The second menu was “Order parts or supplies press 1” and “Talk to a representative press 2”.

There was a hold as all representatives were “serving another customer”.  But that hold was less than a minute.  Shana was very helpful.  I gave the model and serial number.  She responded that “If it has been less than 30 days, you can take it back to Home Depot.  If more than that, you will need to take to an authorized service location”.  Now that is some information system.  That indicates that that lot of tools was sold through Home Depot.  She further suggested that she get my zip code and gave a choice of two locations for Authorized Service, both about 10 miles away.

Next to find the receipt.  My wife went through a pile of recent receipts.  Not Found.  Then she remembered that that receipt was on a magnet on the side of the refrigerator.  It turns out that I had bought the saw 32 days before.  Receipt and map to 5 Points Mower Repair, I headed out.

Home Depot is about 2 1/2 miles away.  I took the saw in to the returns desk, setting off the loss prevention alarm on the way.  A young woman named Meg listened to my story and asked what I wanted to do.  I suggested exchanging just the saw since I had used the oil and written in the book.  She suggested that I just get a similar saw off the shelf and exchange the whole thing.  So that is what I did.  She typed in the return reason in the register and gave me back the old receipt. About 3 minutes elapsed time. Homelite customer service and Home Depot return experience are pretty Good News!

Guests and Family

My daughter had a break from work and came Thursday evening.  My son was supposed to go “Caving” but the trip was cancelled due to lack of a faculty sponsor.  So he came with girl friend and another long-time friend for dinner Friday.  We had BLT’s, eggs, strawberry short cake.  Listened to music and hung out. My son actually requested Silver Apples of the Moon. I have not played that in years. After dinner they went out to the woods in the dark.


I got up early this morning so that I could take pictures in Fountain Inn of the Fall weather. I have posted a few of them at the Weather Underground picture site. I will select a few more perhaps and put them up to Flickr. When I got back Elvis was sleeping.

I started raking after the pictures were up, took a break for lunch. After lunch, I brought Elvis outside to help me. He wandered about while I raked. If he got too far I would bring him back, hold him a bit, give him some pats, set him down, rake some more, repeat for about an hour.

I still have the back yard to do. I had better get back to it to finish before dark.

Saturday Bath

I was watering the grass in the front yard about 4 o’clock yesterday and noticed that the chickadees were in the maple. The maple is in the very middle of the front yard and as I was watering just one side, the spray from the oscillating sprinkler just reached the lower branches. The birds would wait for the spray to come and then hop down lower, get a bit of water and then jump back up. There were 6 to 12 birds in all. They all got a bath and then went elsewhere to preen. Even though it was cool, rain has been scarce so I suppose they taking the opportunity.

I have seen them do this before. I suspect that I do not always see them as each variety of bird gets in and gets out in a fairly short period of time.

Fall Cleanup

I spent the weekend with my wife cleaning up the gardens for the fall. She likes to cut back all of the perennials. She usually does this with a sharp kitchen knife. She did this year too. But when it cam to the liriope, I was able to help by running the lawnmower over it. I just set it up to the high setting (actually the setting I usually use for the grass), check for rocks and stuff in the garden and make a slow pass over the liriope.

She wanted to cut back a large rose-of-Sharon. My son fired up the chain saw and we cut away about two-thirds of that. It tripled the size of the burn pile.

Some of the late blooming and perpetually blooming flowers she saves. While there are not many bees still active, they find and utilize available blossoms. Pineapple sage, blue daze (evolvulus), Mexican heather.

Gone are the lantana, grape, wisteria, morning glory, cleome (beeweed), most of the petunias and numerous other varieties that I do not know the names.

The clean-up process is made more enjoyable by the mints in the gardens. There is fresh mint, spearmint, peppermint, and lemon balm. Also there is lots of rosemary. And of course there is cat mint (catnip).
When she cleaned up the catnip, all of the cats that were around got hunkered down in it.

Always enjoyable when outside are the songs of the birds, seen (chickadee, cardinal, and jay) and unseen (starling, woodpecker).

When you are turning over and cutting back you find lots of things that hide most of the time. A large leopard frog, a very large brown toad, and a centipede were seen. Also numerous squirrels, spiders, and insects.

The fire ants have not been killed yet in the front yard. With the rains, they must be being flooded out. I have put down Amdro 3 times but it has rained afterward and it does not seem to be effective yet. Usually, it works after just a couple of days. This is going on two weeks.

I took down the skyride as the traveller had become cracked. My wife will try to get a replacement. In the meantime, I took down the cable. I will turn it end-for-end in hopes of avoiding cracking the new traveller. It also will give the trees a break. When I had originally set up the cable, I had put it around two trees. To keep the cable out of the bark (and killing the tree), I put spacers under the cable in 3 spots. While they were growing into the bark a bit, they were relatively narrow and did not seem to cause any harm.

My son and I went to Lowes and got 24 bags of pine bark mini-nuggets noting that he had just vacuumed my station wagon yesterday.

Transporting all that was cut down to the back of the lot caused a lot of wear and tear on my tender new grass so at the end of the day, I ran the sprinkler on all of the warn portions in hopes of reviving it. It seems to look better.