Dear Clan,

Congratulations Crystal, Adam, & Julian on your moving into your new home. Now, you can pound all the nails into the walls you want and collect all those warm, fuzzy, wonderful memories that you want. To anyone who doesn't like nail holes, they are very easy to seal and cover up. I even filled in a lot of them in the wood paneling in this mobile home. Then, I made my own holes. :-)

Bob, what is a "patio tomato"? Do you keep it potted and just take it in and out as the weather permits? Seems like a handy way of getting some delicious tomatoes all year long. And you know I just LOVE tomatoes! I hope to grow about ten plants this year, then can and dry a lot of tomatoes. It costs me more than $130 a year for the tomatoes I buy at the grocery store, so a good crop would save me a lot of money. I'd eat a lot more than I do if they weren't so expensive.

Well, Mike M., at 30 degrees night time temperature, it's still a bit too early to plant a garden here unless you use Wall O' Waters, but I plan to start planting next week. I also plan to buy a bunch of Wall O' Waters, put them in the garden, fill them up with water, and let them warm the soil up for two days before putting the plants in them. If you cover your garden soil with grass clippings, old straw, or rotten hay after your plants come up, your soil will always be soft and moist. That will also keep most of the weeds from growing. The few that do grow will be easy to pull.

My garden soil is as ready as it is going to get this year. I dug in the last load of horse manure Thursday, jury-rigged the sump pump in the irritation ditch Friday, and soaked the garden area 24 hours. (Yep, it's still spelled irritation, not irrigation.) The sump pump seemed to have a better output this year; I was actually able to sprinkle the top of the soil to hold down the dust before the winds started. Now, I'm soaking the lawn. As brown as the grass is, there are a lot of grass plants that survived and small amounts of green growth are barely visible at the base of the plants. That's a great relief! I was afraid I would have to start from scratch again, but will only have to reseed parts of it.

While thinking about gardening, I tried to find my file about gardening tips that I e-mailed to a lot of you, but it is gone. The computer crashes I suffered through last year wiped out a lot of my records. If you still have the gardening tips, I would appreciate your sending me a copy of them. Don't hold back, thinking that someone else will send me a copy. Believe me, a dozen copies from 12 different people would be better than none at all.

I probably will use my credit card to pay off my mortgage. Even if the credit card company does charge me a 2% cash transaction fee, I can add that amount to the amount I borrow and save at least $1,400 over the life of the mortgage. I say "at least" because I used three different software packages to compute this and they came up with $1,457, $2,216, and $3,220 savings. The third answer has to be wrong. But I have to make the decision within the next few days. After that, the check is no good.

The temperature got up to 55 degrees yesterday. The wind got a lot higher than that.