Tuesday, May 17, 2016


So, after cutting down a million lilac trees and trimming the whole back yard trees they have been cluttering the yard all spring.. then getting a bunch of people to remove cement from a unusable pond made of it (cement) We finally got to woodchipping all the of the trees that were taken down and removed.

 What a relief. Now we have a small pile of woodchips. (funny how little woodchips a huge mass of tree branches actually creates)

So a garden update.

This year is the first year we are not gardening using strawbales. since they are $5-$10 per bale at 20 bales you can do the math on why we skipped them this year.
 However I did build some raised garden beds. We have 1/3rd of our garden is rows of corn.. which was5 packets worth of corn seeds planted (to give you a rough estimate of size) about 1/2 to 1 foot apart. (will thin out as needed)

The smaller and first raised garden bed I built for the garden this year was strictly to transfer our strawberries out of the ground to a more weed and strawberry-spreading manageable location.

The frost this weekend only killed 1 plant.

Our Blueberries someone survived being eaten completly to near nothing by rabbits and we will actually get quite a few berries this year. But they are now protected from rabbits, so next year will be great.

The honeysuckle plant I planted in memory of my mom for the hummingbirds is doing great and I expect flowers soon.

Holly split a lot of plants from our perennial garden and redid the garden in front of the house (below our picture window) and completly finished that. and woodchipped and tidied up the perennial garden.

Last year I late in the season raised some milkweed from seeds. and doubted they would flower, but I transplanted them outside in the fall anyhow, just to get them out of the house since they were a lost cause. But i noticed this week they started growing and are about 3 inches tall... so that is exciting for my butterflies.  I also removed all the non fruiting currants we had and planted a bunch more flowers for hummingbirds and butterflies. we will see how that works out. and last years butterfly/hummingbird garden i decided not to touch and just see what comes up. So far I recognize a lot of echinacea and bee balm for sure and have two butterfly flower plants for sure. so that is great as far as I am concerned.

We have not yet had bluebirds return to next this year, I am in hopes they will come to us for their second batch in later summer. Our house Wren is back for his third year and happy as can be, though his mulberry tree may not have survived the frost. (Luckily it survived my massive pruning prior to the frost)  So we will see what happens there.

I took out about 1/3 of our apple trees to help with their health, i will have to do this again for the next 2 years before they become fully manageable. There was not much flowers on our haraldson, but the mcintosh had a bunch of flowers, hopfully they were pollinated this year. We have a bunch of smoking wood chips from the tree's we will see if they last the summer of grilling. (Plus I owe some to a few people)

All in all we have had a very productive spring, and still have an entire summer to go.

I hope the garden produces a lot. And I am in high hopes to get the pond finished being re-built this summer.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dogs and Puppies

I have always been an animal person. Since childhood I always loved animals, and had a bond with them. My step dad was a hunter and loved taking me out into the wild. I didn’t really dig the hunting a lot. I enjoyed every part except the part where I had to kill something. If someone else did it and I just had to deal with the aftermath, then I would be fine, but I just couldn’t kill an animal.

If I hit a butterfly with my car on the freeway, I become sad. If I see an injured animal I have to do something. If they are going to die and I need to kill them so they don’t suffer. I suffer for weeks. My  mom loved to tell stories of me on the boundary waters calling down eagles and my 21 ducklings that would come to see me every day, as well as the “doggies” (wolves) I tried to convince to come into our cabin.

My First Dog Wolfie and I
I only ever had one dog in my life, and I was very young, he was a husky/wild wolf mix. We got him as a puppy and he grew as I did. He followed me everywhere, even at his young puppy age. We only had him a few years before he was put down. I was told he must have gotten lost in the woods.

 While I only ever had 1 dog myself, my aunt made up for it and had a number of dogs throughout my life growing up. A Great Dane once, Doberman once, and most memorably a German Shepherd named Bo. He didn’t really listen to anyone but me, and I rarely saw him, but he was my buddy. Until these last few years "Bo-dog" was my favorite dog ever.

After I had grown up my mom was with a gentleman who had an older dog name Ozzie, I think he was a Burmese Mountain Dog, German Shepherd mix with some other breeds. He was also a bigger dog. He and I became great pals, after he passed away, they accidentally ran across a little tiny terrier and adopted it. That little dog wouldn’t play with anyone. However my mom always knew when I was coming to visit, because that little dog would run and grab his toy and run to the door 10 minutes before I showed up. Somehow he knew I was coming. Until him, I was always of the mind that little scrappy dogs like that were annoying, but this little guy was so cute and such a good little dog it broke my heart when I heard they gave him away.

Fast forward to a few years ago. I had been dating my wife for almost a year when her roommate had bought a house. She always wanted her own dog and had said previously that she would get a dog if Kari ever got a house. We searched and searched through many organizations, shelters, and adoption groups and she really liked Wags and Whiskers. We searched and Holly had her heart set on this little golden retriever puppy. There was only one or two other dogs that she was kind of interested in.  When she emailed that she wanted to meet the puppy she was very sad to hear that the puppy had found an adopter already. I looked at the website and I pointed out another dog that she had looked at before. She said that the description made the dog sound like a lazy dog that wasn’t active at all. She wanted a dog that would go for walks, and play and be active. Adult dogs often do not get adopted, but I looked at the picture and said, “you should give him the benefit of the doubt.” She said ok, and we went to look at him. He came out and said hello, and was very laid back. It took me less than a minute to get him active and playing and running around the yard.

Me and Bear hiking in Duluth
We now own Bear, who is the best dog I have ever known. I said, if we every get another dog, I wanted it to be just like Mr. Bear. He seems to be the bar that many of our friends set for themselves and their dogs they have gotten or want. Even my friend Adam has said that his son who is around dogs often, his sons grandmother has a dog sled team… he is afraid of dogs…. Except our dog. He loves our dog. I always thought him just a normal sized dog, but I was quickly informed he was a large dog. How was I to know, to me normal was Great Danes and German Shepherds. As we had him I realized that I understood how to train dogs. I had taught other peoples dogs to do things like sit and shake and lay down. Suddenly I was researching teaching dogs, training dogs, dog psychology, and good and bad food for dogs. I was watching videos, tv shows, discovery videos all about dogs. Soon I was pretty good at guessing a lot of dog breeds. Bear’s dog breed we figure is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retreiver mixed with German Shepherd. He has mostly Nova Scotia retriever mentality.

(back to front) Luna - Neville
After our experience with Bear and once we got our own house, we decided to foster for Wags and Whiskers. Our first fosters were two puppies named Luna and Neville. Within three weeks of having them they knew sit, lay down, stay, in the house, and more. We went to two adoption events with them, and their littermates would be there, and everyone was shocked to see how smart, well behaved, and trained our pups were compared to their littermates. It was very rewarding for me to have that kind of response. Luna had nearly 22 applications within her first week of being available.

Bear and Luna
Luna was a very aggressive player and over energetic puppy and we thought they both were but later we learned she would get Neville riled up. It was very hard to let them go, because Bear loved them so much, and we were attached to them as well. It was sad when Luna left, but the week she left my wife was gone that entire weekend. I was home alone with Neville and his real personality came out and he became very attached to me and Bear. To this day I wished we would have kept him, because he was very well behaved and really affectionate. However, he was also adopted, and  I had to leave the room when Neville left because I had become so attached to him. I had to agree that all other fosters we got, had to be adults, because I didn’t want to go through that again.

Bear and Neville
The first week after they left Bear wandered the house looking for them and whining and whimpering., which continued to break our hearts. After taking some time though he was over them being gone, and we decided to get Calypso. Calypso was an adult dog who was very adorable. She was also very affectionate. Actually, she was too affectionate, she literally needed to be laying on top of you completely to be somewhat satisfied. For a 60lb dog, that was difficult.

Calypso was completely untrained. The longer we had her, the more things we started to realize and assume about her past. She had absolutely no recall, and loved to chase anything that moved. So we assume that she was outdoors a lot, likely in a fenced in yard. Not on a leash because she couldn’t understand anything about being on a leash, either for walks or just being on the yard. She also was likely hit or abused by a male. She flinched and cowered at any fast movement or action by males. About the only thing that kept her from being a wild dog, was she didn’t climb or jump on tables or counters, and she really liked to snuggle and cuddle with anyone who would give her attention.

Calypso looking out the window from across the room.
By the time she was adopted, she would sleep in her kennel on her own, would kennel up by command on her own, could walk on a leash without a gentle leader, she could sit, stay, lay down, shake a paw, and fetch. She also learned a lot of dog interaction skills and how to be social with other dogs.

We felt very accomplished with Calypso and were ready to start looking at our new foster project, when my wife Holly showed me a picture of a litter of puppies. The mother, was a pure breed Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Two of the puppies were the same color of Bear. It did not take long for us to agree that we wanted one… While one of them was already spoken for the we are still getting two fosters. Our friend very likely will be adopting one of them.Of the two, one does looks just like Bear, currently he is named Richard.   
Newest Puppies
Mr. Bear

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Side Project Podcast Update

As many of you know I run a podcast called the Side Project Podcast.  Recently we have had some awesome special guests such as Keith Baker, Mike Selinker, Shane Hensley, and Ed Greenwood.

We also have awesome plans coming up for other guests and episodes. With this in mind I have revamped our website. It is very much like this blog... Please go and visit us at  www.sideprojectpodcast.com and follow us there, subscribe on iTunes and rate/review us.

I would much appreciate it.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My Bird Story

Birds and wildlife have always been a part of my life. My mother raised me with her love for birds and gardening. I learned everything about attracting birds from her, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Finches of all kinds, Orioles, all birds we could get with the exception of the Eastern Bluebird. We lived all over Minnesota and Wisconsin wilderness and cities. She had a special attachment to the hummingbird. Her great grandmother Toolie always told her that after she passed she would send my mother hummingbirds when she needed them. Very often if my mom was having a hard day she would see a hummingbird, and remember that Toolie was with her. My mother was terminal and in her last months stated she would send me Hummingbirds to remind me she was with me when I needed her, Just like Toolie had promised her.

Last October she had passed away and this was the first year in our new home in St Paul that I was avidly bringing in birds; amazing all of our neighbors and my wife. However, I saw no hummingbirds all year. I attempted to attract all kinds of birds, and with all my efforts in the middle of the city, the one bird I had never seen growing up I wanted to bring into the yard was a Bluebird.  I somehow got a nesting pair that loved our yard and gardens. When the Bluebird eggs hatched and they all had fledged I was very sad to see them go, but had wished my mom could have known what I accomplished.

Many including my wife thought my bird hobby was cool, but they never got excited like I would. If only I could call my mom. She would have shared my excitement. I wanted her to see how I helped Bluebirds all find a home, hatch eggs, and grow up. I spent many hours checking the nest, watching for predators, and planning how and where I would put the nesting box so that they could live in peace with my other birds and nesters.

Two weeks after the fledglings left, I was delighted to see the adults and fledglings return to the yard in all of their glory. All 7 of them were bathing, plucking berries, and grabbing insects. Here I was so happy, but then so very sad I had no one to share my excitement and pride. Now they are all hatched, and I can’t tell my mom. As all of this passed my mind I emotionally hit the bottom. Just then as my eyes welled up, I glanced toward the line of bluebirds roosting on a telephone wire, and not 1 foot away from them I watched a single hummingbird land. I know it was my mom telling me she wanted me to know she was watching and she was happy for me and the Bluebirds. Grown men do cry, and I sure did right there.

Birds Are Still Messengers
Nick Sampson

Friday, January 30, 2015

2014 past - Welcome to 2015

I must apologize. I have not been on here for some time. Life has been busy for me. I have had highs and I have had lows. 2014 was, with one exception, possibly the worst year of my life. The exception being that I married the greatest woman of my life. All of my closest friends joined us, and while my mother had past just a month prior, I know she was there. Also, my dad whom I have had off and on contact with over the course of the last few years came, which meant so very much to me. What is more is that he calls me almost weekly to see how I am doing. We even had Christmas dinner together and he got to see our new house.

So perhaps there is more than one exception. 2015 brings the challenge of making life better. I have a lot of personal goals of improvement, including better health, eating, and exercise. I also hope to spend more time writing and more time doing things like hobbies. Yes, that means keeping up with this Blog as well as starting to work with My wife on her Blog she wanted to do called Twin Cities Food Safari, food reviewing blog for the Twin Cities Area. I hope you are all excited for it and this.

Also, I am excited to get back to spending time with friends, as well as getting back to some of the hobbies I once enjoyed, such as video games. ;-)

Oh, and our Podcast is doing well as well, check us out. Side Project Podcast. We have Facebook and Twitter. We also will be at the Gaming Convention called “Con of the North.” Check us out and interact with us!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Drawbacks of being an Extrovert.

To start out, I want to say. I am an Extrovert. My fiancé is an Introvert. We both know this, we get along great and we know the needs of the other when it comes to this.

Introverts generally recharge their batteries, deal with stress and sadness and issues with alone time, in the quiet, maybe reading a book or just chilling out in the back yard with no one around. Extroverts, need to be with other people to recharge their batteries and deal with stress. Often will go to public places, talk on the phone, if alone chatting on the

internet. There are a million posts about understanding Introverts and all of the misconceptions people have. There are very few about Extroverts, and let me tell you, there are a lot of them. Between school, a few articles, and personal experience I have put together a decent list.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t all apply to all extroverts, but generally most apply to most extroverts.

• Extroverts feel the effects of Depression more drastically than Introverts. (in general)

• Having a full day open and no one to hang out with will increase stress and irritability.

• Extroverts need to talk or vent to someone when upset, stressed, or depressed. Otherwise it will get worse.

• Extroverts do like to have quiet time, but it can’t be just whenever. They need to control when and where.

• Don’t expect them to always be the life of the party or to always continue a conversation. That is a misconception.

• Labels such as Shallow, Needy, Clingy, or Self Centered usually are given to extroverts.

• Extroverts are also labeled as Bubbly or unintelligent because of their constant gab and the next one on the list…

• …“Often speak before they think” Usually because they don’t guard their thoughts or beliefs.

• Unexpected alone time can drastically change the attitude of an extrovert to the negative.

• Imagine the “annoying” person in class or meetings that talks way too much.. They are the Extrovert and usually can’t help it. Imagine how they feel though when they realize that they are doing it, then try to restrain themselves, which makes them feel even worse.

• An extrovert can burn out from too much socializing, but often cannot stop.

• Often an extrovert has a hard time not spending money, because spending money is tied to interaction with people. Some have a hard time saying no, even when they are completely broke.

• Extroverts often seem to be flirting or hitting on others, when in actuality, that’s just the way they are. This can cause issues with current relationships. Or misconceptions even by the people they are conversing with.

• People often assume that an Extrovert is always happy and isn’t allowed to be sad, of course, see above.

• Extroverts are always confident is not true, being outgoing is just natural and can easily be seen as confidence.

• Conversations happen and sometimes it will seem an Extrovert doesn’t care about what you have to say. This is not the case. Actually without your input the extrovert can fall into that “I’m the only one talking” phase and then stop the conversation abruptly (as stated above) then feel awkward as well as make the rest of the group feel awkward.

Remember, Extroverts need people, so if someone who you know is an Extrovert is down, strike up a conversation, or ask them to talk about it. It will help them out. If you know an Extrovert is home alone or has a free night with nothing to do, see if you can make time to hang out.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Wrestlemania 30 Dissapointment

Wrestlemania. For those who watch and follow wrestling. Wrestlemania is the hype. Wrestlemania is the end all beat all of the wrestling world. It is where the best matches that are built up happen. It is where the likes of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant meet up. It’s where the best from different eras such as The Rock and John Cena will clash. It is where epic matches you will never have seen any other time occur like Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker. Where history is made with spectacles such as the ladder Match, Hell in a Cell, Money in the Bank, and TLC. The Showcase of the immortals. Where celebrities come out of the woodwork to be part of the greatest event ever.

This year, there is almost none of that. The only thing that even remotely resembles a Wrestlemania moment is the chance for one Underdog Named Daniel Bryan to finally overcome all the odds and shut up the “Authority and win the most prestigious title in wrestling, The WWE World Heavyweight Championship. That encompasses two matches. Him vs. the one who has been holding him down HHH, then if he wins he gets to be put in a Triple Threat match against the Champion who he has been feuding with all year Randy Orton, and the returning out of breath and out of fans Batista. Batista was hyped to bring back and when he did he was boo’d out of the arena because of the fans love for Daniel Bryan.

That’s it folks. Even the Undertaker Streak vs. Brock Lesnar makes me skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, the Undertaker looks great, but the buildup is less than great, and knowing Brock Lesnar, that match likely won’t be that great either. I hope I am wrong, I hope it is everything I want it to be.

The Shield, I loved these guys from day one.. all three of them. Bad guys or good guys, and when they faced the Wyatt’s, it was nothing short of epic. That match alone could have made Wrestlemania History. Then when the shield is finally on the same page… they don’t utilize the feud. It dies. To me a TLC or some sort of Gimmick match with the Wyatt’s vs. The Shield would have been a huge Wrestlemania draw. Instead, they decided that they would make a lame team of Kane and the New age Outlaws. Then have them face the Shield. Why? I have no idea. If they wanted to do something with the Outlaws, it would have been keep the belts on them and have them have dropped the Tag Team Belts to the Uso’s at Wrestlemania. That would have been something for the fans to enjoy. Why they chose to do it on a regular show is beyond me. Have the Outlaws cheat and do every dirty trick against the Uso’s possible then have the Uso’s finally win at Wrestlemania. That would have been a great story.

When it comes to the Divas, a match that is ALL of the Divas in one match for the belt is really stupid to me. What is the point. While it’s cool to have all the Divas out showing their stuff, it them becomes less about the Divas as “sports entertainers” and more about them as “flesh and eye candy.” Which is fine to an extent. If they are going to have the show total Divas and want to showcase the Diva’s have a battle royal and then separate a Divas Championship match. I would vote Tamina Snuka vs. Aj Lee for the belt at Wrestlemania. But that is just me and how I would have built it up.

What to do with John Cena. At the beginning of Daniel Bryan and the Yes Movement halfway through the year, I would have had John Cena turn Heel on Daniel Bryan. John Cena is in need of an update, and turning heel is what is needed for that. Then he can help build up some of the great babyfaces in the company such as Dolph Ziggler. In fact having that be the build up would be great. Heel John Cena who keeps hosing over the new up comer Dolph Ziggler to a final match at Wrestlemania would be very entertaining.

What does that give us,

Tag Titles Match Uso’s Vs. new Age Outlaws
Divas Battle Royal
John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler
Andre the Giant Inaugural Battle Royal
The Shield vs. The Wyatts TLC Match
Divas Title AJ Lee vs. Tamina Snuka
HHH vs Daniel Bryan
Brock vs. Undertaker
Triple Threat Orton vs. Bryan. Vs. Batista

Then add in the glitz and Glamor of live bands, Hall of Fame stuff and maybe Hulk Hogan smacking someone around who gets in his way, would make for a pretty Wrestlemania like Night. Perhaps Stephanie McMahon should hire me to do the booking.