New phones, starting seeds and trimming trees and bushes

Mom’s old cell phone was starting to die and I found out that Verizon will be discontinuing support for older 3 G cell phones probably by the end this year so Mom and I agreed to upgrade and get newer “smart”  phones and move to the newer (more expensive) cell phone plans. We did get a good deal on a couple refurbed Samsung Galaxy type cell phones via newegg.com.  One phone was under $40.00 and the other phone cost just over $73.00 but we own these phones outright.  No payment fee tacked onto the phone bill buying the phone through Verizon’s payment plans.  If you are looking for a newer but low cost cell phone I would recommend newegg.com for unlocked refurb phones that will work with what ever cell phone provider network you prefer.  Shop for a cell phone because you can easily spend several hundred or even a thousand dollar + for a new cell phone depending on the features you get/want. 

We decided to stick with Verizon for a few reasons. We will still get free in-network calling, we keep our phone numbers, we don’t have to pay an activation fee going to a new company or get locked into any 1-2 year contracts. We will be moving into the 5Gb data pre-paid plan by April but our costs per month have gone up about $7.00 each per month until the Verizon loyalty program kicks in at month 3 and month 9 and if rates stay the same. We will save about $3.00 a month on our cell phone costs. 

Of course we are both having to learn how to use a smart phone but we have the manuals and Mom and I will get together next week and finish setting up the phones settings to work for us. I like my (new) phone but learning to swipe rather than tap a button or screen is not intuitive to me and while Mom’s old phone had a touch screen she is having some problems getting comfortable with the new phone. 

I’m a bit of a geek/nerd. I hate having to upgrade my stuff because companies stop supporting tried and proven tech.  I understand that faster speeds, less network slow downs are possible as newer 4-5 G networks are built but all I want is a cell phone that can take and make voice calls and I don’t need all the bells and whistles I get from a smart phone for “FREE” .I have to pay more each month to be on a cell network that offers more FREE stuff, I don’t use, but at a higher cost per month.   RANT OFF! 

I started the peas in my new seed starting boxes and I have 100% germination on the Sweet peas and the Alaska peas in less than 5 days. The heating pads really seem to make a difference as I have never had a 100% germination rate with my old set up. I have added a small mat between the starter box and the heat pad as the temp. has bounced up into the high 80’s F. with the starting seeds box. I have two windows that get northern light and a small  LED full spectrum plant light on my new set up.

I used last years bag of Miracle grow potting soil but bought a small bag of “Black Gold potting soil. I have to say I’m liking the black gold potting soil better than the Miracle grow soil  as it feels better to the touch.  I think the Miracle Grow has a bit more woody matter compare to the Black gold.  That might  not be an issue using larger pots but for small starter plants I prefer Black gold potting soil.   This very exciting for me as I’ll start some of last years cauliflower and cabbage seeds on the 7th or 8th of March following the planting guide for my climate. I have a taller starting box that is set up for larger pots that should work for transplants from the smaller starting pots until all of the outdoor garden beds are prepared and the weather will support the plants.  I really want a succession garden to take advantage of the weather locally.

My COLE crops have never done well  and I think the reason is I never get them started early enough and then the plants tend to bolt in the heat of summer, rather than grow in the cooler and wetter spring or fall. I need to add in some more lighting but the heating pads are working great and I’m happy with the cheaper starting beds I bought via Home Depot.  I’m not shopping Amazon any more and it has made shopping a bit more of a challenge but I  like that I’m supporting more local and USA based companies even if it takes longer or the costs are a bit higher I usually get a better, longer lasting product compared to cheap China crap made to “NOT TO LAST”. 

If you have neighbors and you have trees/ shrubs or plants in generally you will probably have some issues even if it is a neighbor quietly seething that the branches of your tree are shading, dropping leaves or whatever else Mama Nature does to screw up our plans. I was watching a neighbor standing on a very unstable platform braced by his disabled wife while he trimmed some tree branches.  I could not take it and offered my Ryobi pole saw and a fresh battery so he could trim the tree limbs without me worrying about him falling.   He offered to cut some tree limbs on my property to return the favor of using the tool.  OMG the  neighbor went full on lumber jack and cut down literal trees and  did not clean up  just a few over hanging limbs.   I filled up two large garbage bins, a construction grade trash bag and I have started making branch piles I can wrap a small wood bundle in twine so the garbage men can haul it away. 

I just cut off some dead branches off my lilacs and some growth that was encroaching on my neighbors on the north side of my house,  I can sort of understand my neighbor that did so much work trimming my trees once he felt I gave him permission, as his home, yard and stuff is affected by my stuff.  I’d be happy to clean up my neighbor’s fence line if I had permission to enter their property to to clean up.  I have told my neighbors they can clean up tree branches that are annoying/dangerous and I’ll even help with tools but I can’t always do the work. Perhaps I’m odd, but Private property right is Supreme in my mind and I’m not allowed on anyone’s property without an invitation.  

I want to attract Humming birds.  So I set up another pole bird feeder with a little bird bath and I might add another small feeder.  I have to say using these poles seem to work well as the squirrels can’t get into the bird feeders easily but they do snack on the seed on the ground.  I don’t mind squirrels as they are entertaining and the ultimate survivalists’ I do like using pole feeders is that the squirrels don’t get an easy meal. It’s good for them to work for a meal and it fun to watch.  I don’t have a wide variety of birds in the back yard. Mostly sparrows, a couple of doves and I think they are called thatchers though I’m not sure that is the correct term.  Dark eyed Juncos are predominate. I want to set up a few bird houses and see what bird show up.  No I don’t think my cats threaten the extinction of any bird species in my backyard. My three cats have caught exactly one bird this year.  The birds that feed in my yard don’t take chances with any potential predator.  My cat caught one young bird in a year.  I can’t even count all the birds that stop by my feeders but I guess 50-100 + . Many things kill birds but house cat or even feral cats might only catch a bird a week to help check the bird population.  House cats are not causing  any bird populations to go extinct. Windmills and humans are a different story,. 

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