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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Carpenter ANTS!

As I got into the car, I noticed the ground was almost solid with ants about a half inch long. They looked like carpenter ant but not as long. I rushed to get into the car.

The next day, all those half inch ants were gone. However, there was carpenter ant about an inch long, no kidding, on the top of my car heading to the open door. He would have come in, I fear!

There is a tree nearby that I have noticed is looking rough at one place at the bottom. I fear the carpenter ants and other ants are eating up the tree. When a tree is stressed, it cannot resist insects. With the drought last year, this may have contributed to this apparent demise of the tree.

This happened to one in the back yard and I made ex spray the ants every day since it was very apparent it was being killed. The tree actually healed and covered the hollow place. I had the hickory tree taken down before it fell in a wind. The inside was hollow, about a 12" hole in the tree.

Then, ants started in on my oak in the front yard. So, I went out and sprayed several times each day. Eventually, the ants and the destruction stopped. It never got into the horrid shape the hickory in the side yard did. I did save it.

For what it's worth, if carpenter ants invade my car, I am selling the car. Or, maybe the flame-thrower idea will work. I have not seen one ant in my car or on me the last few days!

By the way, I do not poison ants until they are an invasion. My next door neighbor, a young woman of 20, told me that when summer came, she would have her bf spray the whole yard and all the trees with insect killers of all sorts because she hated ants and bugs. I WAS HORRIFIED!!! Her yard is about three inches higher than mine. Thankfully, she moved in the spring because she wanted to be in an apartment with a pool. Last time I heard of her or saw her, her mugshot was in the paper for dealing drugs. So, another good reason I am glad she left....

Your turn
Have you ever had ants started destroying a tree or other plant? I know they will eat houses, but mine was treated to prevent that. Do carpenter ants strike fear into you as they do me?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

What's in your vanilla?

"First, a bit about what's in imitation vanilla. That's made from a compound called vanillin, and chemically, it's the exact equivalent to the stuff that makes real vanilla, well, vanilla. Vanillin is a lot cheaper, though, and that's because it's a byproduct that can be extracted from things like coal and wood. Who wants that in their cookies?"

If that interests you, read on.

I never use anything but vanilla extract.  I just do! The flavor of imitation vanilla extract disappears with heat. This next month will be the month I make my own vanilla extract. It will be cheaper than the McCormick tiny, precious bottles of vanilla extract.

In the meantime, I found reasons I have been wise to use a good vanilla product. Sure, there are probably more expensive ones, but this one has worked well for me for years. I certainly won't throw out my bottle of store-bought vanilla when I have made my own!

"Vanilla might be the boring old stand-by favorite when it comes to flavors, but it's also insanely expensive. The complicated process that needs to happen to grow real vanilla beans means it's one of the most expensive per-unit foods in your grocery store, and the price-per point of vanilla beans means that extract (the real stuff, not the imitation flavor) can be mind-bogglingly expensive. Sure, it goes a long way, but there's also no reason to buy it.
First, a bit about what's in imitation vanilla. That's made from a compound called vanillin, and chemically, it's the exact equivalent to the stuff that makes real vanilla, well, vanilla. Vanillin is a lot cheaper, though, and that's because it's a byproduct that can be extracted from things like coal and wood. Who wants that in their cookies? As if that wasn't bad enough, the FDA has warned against the dangers of certain types of vanilla extract that come from Mexico. These rip-off varieties of vanilla look and smell like the real thing, but they also contain a chemical called coumarin. It's banned by the FDA, still shows up on shelves in import stores, and can act as a powerful blood-thinner. Potentially dangerous types of this vanilla extract can also have tonka beans listed as an ingredient.
If you want to be completely safe, why not just make your own? It's easy: just invest in some real vanilla pods and a bottle of your alcohol of choice. That can be rum, brandy or vodka, they'll all work. Put in the beans, let them sit, and you'll have an entire bottle of pure vanilla extract at a fraction of the price."


In the meantime I found THIS. Below is an excerpt.

"Don't buy a food product in the United States that is not labeled in English. Products may have Spanish or other non-English labeling, but they must also have complete English labeling to meet U.S. Government standards. (Products sold only in Puerto Rico are an exception—they are not required to be labeled in English.)"

Coumarin, rat poison and anti-coagulant, could be in your cheap imitation vanilla. If the price is too good to be true, beware.

I read bloggers who suggest going to an ethic market, that it does not matter if the label is not in English. Are you sure?

Your turn
Do your ever use imitation vanilla extract? Do you make your own vanilla?


Friday, May 19, 2017

Almost End of Alternator Saga and Free Lunch

Well, after a two hour nap last evening, I was too stressed to sleep last night. I slept about three hours and called at 10 am to see if alternator was at the auto shop. I rushed right down. It was installed in 1.5 hours. The owner said something about the steering wheel still vibrating. No, it does not. It is an old car and not as tight as it was. However, I am happy with it running now.

I was charged ~$76 for installation and ~$40 for second installation. I asked why..."because we did not do a diagnostic the first time." I told them when I went there that AZ tested it and said it was not working right. ???  As I paid for the second removal and installation, I was grumbling about getting back some of the money for the installation the second time. Guy told me they would probably reimburse me at AZ.

AZ employee wanted to keep the second bill and receipt from the auto shop so the manager could talk to district manager. I refused to leave the receipts, saying I would call district manager myself. Why do I do this to myself?

Oh, did I mention the whine that I recognize as an alternator failing? About 25 years ago, I kept taking a car to the shop and the whine would not happen when there or when the shop guy drove it. The failure was catastrophic when alternator seized up, breaking the serpentine belt and ruining two other components--water pump and ac, I believe. Plus, I was on an interstate under construction and there was no shoulder, only a straight drop of over one foot. I had to muscle the car off at the next exit and cruise through a stop sign and struggle while I got it into a service station.

After I left, I decided to come home and make sure I had receipt in hand instead of searching in the torrid climate of the car or having to search in the store. The ac in the house revived me and I went to the AZ.

As I passed our building for Farmer's Market, people were eating and standing in line for something being cooked. It turns out this was an appreciation day for citizens of Cullman by the Police Dept and a local dentist. I took a detour and ate free lunch--hotdogs/hamburgers with fixings, water, Pepsi products, tiny chip packages, and chocolate chip cookies in tiny bags. SCORE! Another free meal. After this was when I went to AZ.

I had to make another stop to discuss another car repair. It was hotter than Hades, sitting and talking to the guy.

When I went into Walmart, I swore I would not leave until my hair dried out. I just washed it last night, but it was soaked with sweat. You know how the hair at nape of neck and in back of head gets so wet? I was a mess. However, I was dry when I left, only to sweat all over again and arrive home with a wet head again.

Last night, I made a meatloaf for exbf out of ground beef and dry oats. So, he has four frozen meats. Instead of using catsup in the mixture, I used tomato sauce to avoid all the sugar. I did put two fast food catsups on top. Since I have jars of dehydrated onion and dehydrated bell pepper, the meat loaf was easily assembled. Of course, Dominique donated an egg.

J did not come again today. sigh  I lost gifts for grand daughters! Aaaayyyy! <<
Dominique gave me an egg today. 

Monday, I need to recover second removal and installation from AZ.

I hear there is snow in Colorado. Are you experiencing snow or humid and high temperatures? Anyone with a dry heat, congratulations!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Wrong-headed thinking and reasoning

Read former post to get to here in alternator saga.

Wednesday, I decided I would just get the auto shop to order an alternator since I was afraid to make too many trips to Auto Zone with defective alternator. Then I started thinking. I could get a free alternator from Auto Zone since it has a lifetime warranty. But, I was deciding to buy one. That was not an economically sound decision. The shop allows me to use exbf's credit card numbers, no card needed, since he has gone in several times. Last time, he told them to let me use it whenever I need to have something done to the car. So, I canceled the auto shop alternator to get the free replacement.

I decided tonight, Wednesday, to see if I could use his cc numbers at Auto Zone since that was how the item was purchased--with cc. No deal. The card has to be in the store. So, at 7 pm I called him and asked if he would bring it to the store. He agreed as he sighed heavily. He just got home at 5 pm.

Thursday, I am going to call corporate and ask why I cannot trade faulty for new with same cc numbers. I know the answer will probably be that the old one must be returned before I get the new one. But, no, we have to do it the hard way.

It is still Wednesday, and he has not made the 1.5 hour drive here. I will go down there about 8 pm and wait so he does not have to wait one minute on me. He arrived at 9 pm because he bought a burger and there were two delays, one construction.

In the meantime, I made him a salad minus any meat, just spinach, tomatoes and cheese. I dished out 2 cups of shredded cheese in another container from my five pound bag of shredded cheese. Plus, I gave  him the deli chicken minus the breast. Well, there is some breast in there still. So, if he has not eaten dinner, he will have this to eat at home. I put it all in one of those freezer bags from WM.

This is a bummer in another way. Modern Family is my favorite comedies right now. My neighbor who comes to take out my garbage always comes at a time when I miss all or most of it, especially if the trash is too heavy in the house for me to take it out or we start talking. Tonight, I told neighbor to let it wait until next week. So, now exbf will be here at MF time.

He will think his gas and time and energy will be worth the cost of the alternator. He must be at work at 10 am tomorrow! I have almost enough money in the bank to pay for the alternator, just not quite enough.

He arrived home at 10:30 and must be at work at 10 am on Thursday.

Okay, this is Thursday. I could not sleep because of stress from yesterday, watching tv, staying on computer, and stress of having to be up early. Well, I did not get up as early as I wanted and got to shop at 9, I think.

The alternator was installed. I paid for installation. When I started the car there was a growling noise and extreme vibration of the steering wheel. I almost cried as I got out of the car. The mechanic was by the car before I could drag myself out. He took it back for another 1.5 hours. It was not a loose vacuum hose as he suspected, knocked loose as he worked.

NOOOOO! It was a faulty alternator. So, I called Auto Zone and recounted exbf's ordeal of bringing his cc from 60 miles away just to buy another alternator to install and bring back the old one. The manager assured me I would not need the card. He would not have an alternator until a half hour after the garage closed. So, I had to drive home with car shaking from the bent shaft of alternator.

Now, I must pay for the installation again. The auto shop owner said to get second installation cost from AZ. I am quite sure I will have to call corporate for this one. But, tomorrow, I will be up to it.

In the meantime, I have not driven the car except for AZ and auto shop. That means I have not mailed gifts to two g-daughters.

I have to stay conscious until J comes at 1:30 pm. She left my rake, 40-year-old expensive garden rake, in the rain, did not get two rocks up, put lawnmower under clothesline, and did not cover the lawnmower. And, it rained on the rake and maybe on lawnmower if the tarp came off. Well, she did not anchor the tarp on lawnmower. She has never held a job, so she says, "I forgot." as though that makes it okay. I made a list today.

My children said, "I forgot." However, they learned that if they said that, they should be moving to fix whatever they forgot. They knew it was not a good reason. They also said it in apologetic way, not the breezy way she says, "I forgot."

They learned to follow directions. When, J, the oldest was less than two-years-old, I told him to do four things all at one time. He went and did all four in the order I told him, forgetting nothing. I did it on purpose, wondering if he could remember. I would not have complained or fussed if he forgot something. Now, that is too young to be capable of doing something that involved. Check your Early Child Development books.

I don't want that rake to rust or rot, metal head and hickory handle. People say about my things, "Well, it's so old." or "Why get upset about a whatever that's so old?" or, "You said you got it at a yard sale." Well, that rake should last me as long as I need a rake and beyond. That's why! I don't live a disposable and replaceable life! Even yard sale items are valued here.

Okay, all my rants are done! But, you know I will have more! Do you still love me even when I am grumpy?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Not much resolution

Last night, I lay down with clothes on to rest and awoke this morning at 4:30, still in clothes I wore yesterday. I decided to rest another minute before I changed to nightgown. Well, that never happened.

One wash got onto the clothesline somehow. Dominique loved the rest of the dinner from yesterday. I had gathered enough from our table for two days of abundance for her.

I went on an ant hunt in the floor of the passenger side of the car. NOT ONE ANT! Still, I don't trust they are gone. The floor has been very wet, and I could not figure out why. Today, I found the culprit. It was not a coke can, not a glass or bottle of water spilled. It seems to be the contents of a spray bottle of Armor All. I suppose a passenger stomped it open. That irks me.

Do ants like Armor ALL? I will test out this theory/question.

I was just going to get the shop to order an alternator instead of having to deal with Auto Zone and hoping the car would go there, to the shop, and not stop along a highway. So, I told the shop to order an alternator. Then, it came to me after a nap. That is stupid since the Auto Zone alternator has a lifetime warranty. It will save me $180 to manage to get one from Auto Zone and get it to the shop. I am going to have a friend follow me to AZ and then to shop to assure I am not stranded along the road.

Dominique gave me an egg today. One day this week when I did not report an egg, I put the egg in my pocket as usual and lay down. Unlike other days I have an egg in my pocket and lie down, I lay on my left side where the egg was. Unbelievably, it did not break. So, for those who say one must give oyster shells to hens to get hard eggs, I am hear to say once again, "No, you don't."

So, there!

No car and not happy!

Accidentally posted. But, I was not finished.

Janet suggested ants could have ruined the alternator. I will ask tomorrow. tana50 suggested opening all the doors and using a flame thrower--best idea yet. Thanks to both of you. Tana you have same fantasies I

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Good; The Bad; The Ugly and you know there is free stuff

Today was another free lunch at a church. We had fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, hot, buttered slice of French bread. Cookies were dessert. We both had unsweetened tea. Froemds O ,et amptjer cjircj ca,e tjos to,e/  <<<<<
We both got a to go box. Of course, I carried out a plate of food for Dominique. She dug right in.

Since I had taken back too many things to WM without a receipt, exbf returned two things for me. That $25 will buy gas for the rest of the month....well, maybe.

We went to Harbor Freight and got two free reachers. I was driving and getting in and out after we went to WM.. When I was ready to go in HF, I showed him the three choices of free items on the ad I had, and asked him if a reacher would help him. He gasped and spoke louder, agreeing he would like one and needed one desperately. He said he was looking at that coupon when I was inside somewhere. So, I got two reachers, one from each of our phone numbers. The manager lets me get them because exbf walks slowly and painfully, using two crutches. Since I had to purchase something, I bought two utility knives, one for each of our free items.

I had to pay for and pick up two coupons I won. I got a $10 coupon for KFC for $6, and a $20 fabric store coupon for $7. "Won" means I was one of the first callers to ask for the coupon. It's how fast you are. A $10 coupon will buy two $5 dinners on Tuesday. I thought about using it today. But, that was not to be.

Went to fabric store and shopped with my $20 coupon. I got three buttons for the front of exbf's 3 pants for a dime each, pretty metal. For a dime each I purchased 10 heart-shaped metal buttons just because. I found red chevron and green chevron print fabric and got 1.5 yards of each, plus a weird shaped floral scrap for $1. Oh, and a rubbery thimble since I cannot find my leather thimble. Metal thimbles hurt me.

We rested a bit and I offered him a salad with chicken, tomatoes and other vegetables orKFC. He said the go box dinner was fine. Heating that up was a real back saver since I was hobbling around. That's free lunch, dinner, and second dinner which will be scrambled eggs and some greens. Since I had no breakfast, I am taking the liberty to have two dinners. Maybe some fruit.

I also received free fruit today! The bananas sorely need freezing.

The day was sailing along fine, hot and pretty. Everything happened as it should.

THEN, I tried to open my driver's door after putting something in the passenger side. The automatic lock did not work. So, with my heart beating fast and the sweat pouring even more than the 90 degree heat warranted, I opened the driver's door with a key and got in. The dome light was off. The key did not make one sound happen in the guts of the car...AAACK!

Exbf is not physically capable anymore of doing anything to the car. So, I called J's boyfriend. They are broke so he did not want to use his gas for anything. He did not say so, but I knew. He came down and took me six blocks to Auto Zone, telling me they would not lend me jumper cables. They did. I frequent the place and they took my driver's license for collateral.

The car started immediately. When I took the cables back and collected my license, I asked them to check my battery. She said the battery was fine and now to turn on the car so she could check the alternator. The alternator is bad. Soooo, now I have to get a new alternator. Even though this one has a life-time warranty, it is such a hassle. I will have to pay to have the old removed and new installed. I seriously need a guy around to handle this stuff. Well, that is not all that needs handling.

I managed to get the car to WM and J got a gallon of  gas in their gas can and put gas in my car, too, using the money on the card from WM. We came home and I gave her ground chuck, bread, and a few more items.

Ugly--ants are swarming in my car. I have no idea why they left and returned. Maybe they never left, just hid! ???

It seems as I get older problems and heat exhaust me more and it's harder to bounce back! Okay, I am gooey from melted Peppermint Patty.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Yard Mowed; Ants Gone

Yep, that's it for today, and I did not even do that. I had to drive 7 miles to get 100% gas, no ethanol stuff at $2.75/gal. Then, I forgot to get money to pay J. Ugh, two unnecessary trips! Then, I went back out and got milk and a little tub of cut watermelon. Dinner was a banana. Then, I decided to put chocolate chips into an empty peanut butter jar and ate that.

I think I am taking one of those medications that makes you feel awful.  I am breathing so much better. One side of my nose hurts, so I am not sure what that is about. This is not illness I feel. This malaise is not from the heat.

For some reason, the ants seem to be gone. Now, I don't know which works--Terro or the ant baits. The spray can shoots a stream that just drips and dribbles all over me and everything. Maybe it is supposed to be a single shot. Maybe it is supposed to have a bit of spray. This does a bit of everything. So, I only sprayed one place--the door seal on the passenger side. Then, I watched it dribble down the door and window. That disgusted me, so I shut the door. Now, I have one more chore--clean the poison from door and window and below the window. There were no ants in sight when I sprayed.

Today, for the first time in weeks, no ants crawled on me when I was in the car or when I got out. I did see one of the tiny ants as I got out of the car today. I brushed him away. The others were larger, like fire ants. (However, fire ants vary in size.)

I had J take the garden rake and pull out some field stones that prevented her from mowing all the way to line where neighbor mows. They were so large, she struggled. Then, she could still not make it neat because there are some horrid roots that she was afraid would ruin the lawnmower blades. At least she thinks.

Washing my hair and filling/running the dishwasher will be done tonight. And, it is almost 9 pm.

Dominique gave me an egg.

Your turn
Have you ever taken meds that made you very tired? Do you use no ethanol/100% gas for your car or small engines? Whose spring grass/weeds are growing like mad? This summer it may take 3 weeks before the yard needs to be mowed.