mellowtigger: (Default)
I realize that my posts have been mostly of the "inconsequential" variety during the last 2 years or so. I've been preoccupied by the new house, of course. I intend to change my practice soon. I have important posts in mind (with photo documentation) that I've put off for a very long time. For now, though... one last update.

homesteading: I drove to downtown Minneapolis this morning to turn in the affidavit for my homesteading. It will make a big difference in my taxes. They didn't receive my full documentation last year when I dropped it off at the Hennepin County office. That was the address on the documentation, but apparently they didn't pass it along to the City as they said they would. I lost homesteading status for 2017. With this affidavit, however, the City gave me back a letter from the Assessor's Office that they "will notify Hennepin County Taxpayers Services to send the correct property tax statement. They will recalculate the 2017 property tax due." Good news. Strangely, they didn't ask for all the supporting documentation again, so... did they locate my lost files in a bin somewhere, so I only had to sign the affidavit this time? Strange.

my leg: The wound has scabbed over solidly. It's clearly healing well. I can tolerate touching the surface of it, but it's still painful if I put any pressure at all on it. While gardening, I occasionally forget, and I kneel on that leg. One quick yelp, and I'm back trying to awkwardly position myself safely for digging in the ground.

fence: It still hasn't arrived. I knew it would be many weeks, but I'm still looking forward to it impatiently.

trees: I'm also waiting for the service to remove two trees from my back yard. Thankfully, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority is paying for it, since the trees are technically on my neighbor's property, which the Authority owns. With those gone, and 2 more that I plan to cut down myself, the other trees that I've planted in my back yard will finally get some decent sunlight.

garden: It's coming along nicely still. I plan on going to the Quaker plant sale on Friday morning to pick up some ferns to put under the shade of the neighbor's tall pine tree. Here's a quick video of Mason bees using their bamboo home. It shows some obvious wear after a few years. I need to hang it more securely.



Amongst the perennials I have planted already that will keep producing food in future years, I have:It's amazing that a lot of fruiting plants will grow nicely in zone 4, although sometimes you do have to look for appropriate varieties. Some of them went into the ground just this year, so it may be next year before I see any food from them.

A decade from now, I expect to enjoy some lazy afternoons just sampling the fruit in season.
mellowtigger: (flameproof)
It was hot yesterday, it's hot today, and it'll be hot tomorrow.  Weather Underground currently shows a heat index here of 41C/106F.

heat index 41C/106F


I still don't have air conditioning, so it's even hotter upstairs in my bedroom.  I spent last night on a cot in the basement, where the temperature is actually comfortable.  I bought a fan to use on the ground floor, but even its usefulness is limited in this kind of heat.

On Friday of last week, the electricians did their work to prepare for the air conditioning unit that was prepaid by the prior owners of the house.  They had to have an actual, physical unit here, because Minnesota had recently changed its laws about "truth in advertising".  The house was listed with central A/C, so they could not give me a cash equivalent in an escrow account that I could use later to install air conditioning.  They had to buy the unit and prepay the installation, even though we agreed to delay the installation until after the snow banks had melted.

The electricians said this unit is actually very good.  They were concerned, however, that the coils that should go in the basement are too big to fit the central air unit.  If the A/C guy knows it, then maybe that's why he has not returned my calls recently.  So, in spite of having a unit here, I might not have air conditioning until I can replace the entire central air... which means not in a very long while. 

I paid on my own to have the electricians come out, because the A/C guy said they had to do their work first.  The electricians, on the other hand, said it was usually the opposite, so they simply finish hooking up wires to a unit already in place.  Regardless, I am now electrically ready for installation, if it ever happens.  I'll certainly be registering my discontent at online ratings sites if this prepaid guy doesn't actually get my A/C working.

There are good portable units that I could use just for the bedroom or living room.  I'd be happy to use that solution, if I knew for certain that the technician will not actually be installing the main A/C after all.  For now, though, it's just a waiting game... during a period of high temperatures.

Life in the basement is okay.  The cot isn't great for the arthritis in my back, and the mold spores are making my sinuses riot.  The temperature, though, is very survivable.  I've turned on a very old allergen filter to sit alongside the dehumidifier.  So now I sit in the dark cave and type my blog posts.
mellowtigger: (Green Lantern)
front yard after wateringI walked onto my front porch this evening, and I immediately noticed how pungent it was. I've kept the windows there open for ventilation since I will remain without air conditioning for a few more weeks.  They really let in the smoke from whatever the neighbor teens were smoking. I don't mind that, and I support total legalization. This is the house with the death threats that woke me up a week or two ago, though, and I just hope the drama isn't related. That, I don't support at all.

I started weeding the strawberry and flower beds, then the guys left their house to go walking. I watered the front yard while the sun slowly dropped farther below the horizon.

Meanwhile, a few houses south, I could hear a guy trying to discreetly (not shouting, thank you) chew out someone, regarding what I think was the drama a few nights ago where someone drove their car very slowly and backwards down the whole length of the street, scraping many cars along the way and knocking over a fire hydrant.  Yes, I called 911 for that one too.  Strangely, they missed my car this time, but the officer came to my door and gave me a case number just in case I noticed something later.

Anyway... back to this evening.  The older guy (almost my age? from the house I mentioned above) walked over and talked with me for a few minutes while I was watering plants. They're getting rid of stuff for an upcoming property inspection. Indeed, they are, as I noticed on my patio.  I let him know that I planted the strawberries along the sidewalk because I intended for people to pick them and enjoy them.

I'm hoping that a foraged snack might add a non-zero amount of peace to someone's day, making the drama and the self-medication a little less necessary.  I wonder if I could surround the plants with green bricks and call them a "Greenstone Grocery", then get other neighbors to do the same, slowly turning the area into an appealing place for a neighborhood walk.  Imagine a stroll while eating a strawberry here, a blueberry there, a mulberry across the street.  Or, all this stuff just makes me an appealing soft target. I binge watched 4 seasons of "Orange Is The New Black" during the last few days, so I'm feeling pessimistic again about the harm that people do to other people for no good reason.

But I have strawberries.  The dwarf sunflowers are starting to bloom, and the pumpkin vines are poised to sprawl across the front yard. So let's just agree that life is good for the duration of a sunset today.  And hope that I don't get woken by nearby sirens again after midnight tonight like I did last night.
mellowtigger: (Daria)
So what does bone look like after it's been in the dirt for years?  (click to embiggen)

bone?bone?bone?


Isn't this diameter too big to be a pet animal? From the flat cut (but only one side), maybe a beef bone?  Should I be calling 311? Who checks out this kind of stuff?

I've been trying to garden all weekend, but it's very slow progress.  Where I wanted to put my veggie garden, there is a lot of broken glass and rusty nails and cut bolts, so I've been sifting everything and pounding the sod to see what shakes loose.  The above photos come from about 3-4 inches under the dirt, I think.
mellowtigger: (flameproof)
Three young guys were pounding on the front door of the house south of mine tonight, demanding that someone come out.  I called 911, and dispatch said that other calls were coming in for the same incident.  Several neighbors here are well involved in watching the street, and they also report problems to police.  I didn't want to stand around my porch as a big target during the incident.  I wish I had an outdoor camera to record details... a camera with high enough resolution to capture license plate numbers on vehicles passing my house.

This excitement comes after I slept through a drunk driver hitting the same neighbor's car at Friday 3:30am.  Police took the driver away for being drunk (I was told she opened the car door and beer cans fell out) and not having proof of insurance.  The neighbor's car is being totalled, but when her car jumped forward and hit mine, I only got a bumper scratch that I don't care about.  Police left a case number on my car anyway.  Again, an outdoor camera with good resolution would be nice.

I think maybe this morning I've managed to convince the alley neighbors not to use my yard as a parking lot.  I asked someone to leave my lawn the previous day.  Today I was out digging along the alley as one of them pulled into their own property.  He asked, "Are you building a gate?"  I told him that I was planting a garden.  I was planting seeds for giant sunflowers, which should make a nice 7-foot-tall barrier to help discourage future parking.  I'll add some corn behind it soon.  I'd still like a camera for the backyard too, so I can record the busy activity along the alley and keep track of license plates if they become necessary later.

It's really quite peculiar.  This area has its charms, and a recent poll of residents found that they were unusually committed to staying here.  They want it to be a safe place to live, in addition to its many great features.  At the neighborhood safety council meetings, the police representative tries hard never to say (even when asked directly) that we're the worst crime neighborhood in all of Minneapolis.  He's good at dodging a direct answer, but I think we have figured it out on our own.

I don't know that I've ever called 911 before, but tonight was my 3rd call in the 3 months that I've been here.  I've heard plenty of gunshots that I didn't call about, because they weren't close enough for me to figure out their direction.  They keep saying that we should call in every time we hear gunshots, but I'm not sure why.  They already know (thanks to technology) when and where the gunshots are.  Minneapolis just doesn't have enough police in this area to show up for every threatening sound.  According to a thread on a community forum, many neighbors were speaking up about a gunshot incident 2 weeks ago (about 4 blocks from my place) where they never saw a police car show up.  Someone finally said they saw a police car arrive, shine a light at the problem house, then drive away without getting out of the car.  Not very helpful.

In other news, I'm sunburned from beginning my garden.  I'm looking forward to getting more done.  As I said, this neighborhood does have its charms, and this lot in particular has some good gardening space on it.  Solve the crime issue, and this place is golden.  :)
mellowtigger: (coprolite)
Is there a home security system that you can recommend for the home tinkerer?

I'd like a system that offers a few key features:
  • outdoor video cameras that also work at night (infrared) and in cold (-34C/-30F temperatures)
  • cameras available in either wired ethernet or wireless
  • hub can store video to local network disk (not just to a paid cloud service)
  • includes a doorbell/camera device
  • support Linux and Android for easy access
  • wired power rather than batteries (don't sacrifice the environment for some temporary peace of mind)
I like the mainstream availability of Insteon devices, but they're short on several of the features that I'd like. I don't want to have to cobble together a frankenstein collection of technologies. Those individual technologies are available though.

SkyBell
SmartCam
Ring
DoorBird
iDor
Lockitron
Korner (window sensors)
CleverLoop hub

ADT also send me a letter to reactivate the (old) system already in the house, but I'd rather have newer technology.  Still, though, I'm not ruling out a paid service provider like ADT.

I'd rather just buy a hub outright, provide hard drive storage of my own, then slowly add devices to the house over time.  Any suggestions?

edit 2016 February 15 Monday 16:10:
I just learned about this earlier article covering OpenCV and the Raspberry Pi.

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