Wednesday, September 30, 2009

End of September

If I've got my dates right, this is September 30, and I feel winter closing in on me. I am trying to squeeze as many outdoor chores as possible into the remaining nice weather. And my definition of nice has shifted into fall mode. If it's not raining, and I only need a windbreaker, then the day qualifies.

So, today just a few pictures to update.  Our Jerusalem artichokes are all abloom, and it's so nice to see the vivid yellow patches around the yard. We look forward to seeing them each fall, but know that they are the last hurrah.
Hmm, you may want to clicky on the picture to make it bigger. I'll add a closeup.
These were growing in our backyard when we moved in, and we have transplanted them around the edges as we landscape different areas.  They have skinny tuber roots that are edible, and used to be grown in vegetable gardens. I guess people do still grow these to eat, but we have never tried them.

We also had a couple of rows of raspberries in the garden that came with the house. They had been neglected and we ousted them. However, the birds have made sure that they grow wild and after we had to remove our old barn, a new patch grew up in the fill.

It didn't bother us, so we left it for the birds, but now we want to put a new building there. I had posted an offer for free bushes on Craig's list, but although I got replies, no one ever showed up to take any. So, we are ripping them up, and it takes longer than I anticipated. This was yesterday's result:

Do you see the garden fork in there for perspective?  The patch is about 20 feet wide by 35 feet long.  A lot of raspberries- I hate to kill perfectly good plants, but I am not about to replant them all. We'll dump them in our 'trash' compost pile and may the strongest plant root!

Still working on the front door scraping as well- Got most of the sides done, I need to haul a stepladder out there and get the top done now.

We have just the slanty handrails left to do now on the other steps.

One more colorful photo to wrap things up.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bad day for Ameranth, and by extension, me

 I woke up to Ameranth's phone call saying her car had been vandalized last night. If you want a visual, go here:
sad picture 

All 3 windows on her driver's side were broken, and the mirror was hanging off the door. Her apartment has no parking attached, and she has to use a municipal lot in back. But this is a small town, and she hasn't ever had problems before.  The policeman she flagged down suggested it may have been due to recent 'unrest' between townies and out-of-state workers on a nearby store.  The state in out-of-state? Yes, you guessed it, Maine.  So they may have seen her license plates and reacted rashly.

So, the next sad part? This was her day off, and she intended to register her car and get it inspected to be all legal and MA proper.  One day too late. 

The next sad part is lack of insurance- apparently we each thought the other was paying the bill, and didn't question the lack of said bill. All I can say is ADD, lack of health insurance and lack of medication makes Ameranth's life interesting.
I have no excuse.

Good news is a nearby salvage yard had all three windows available, so that will help a lot with repair costs.  And, maybe the repair shop will also do the point-by-point inspection she needs. It would be nice to have something go smoothly for once.  Crossing my fingers.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The best part of waking up- wait, there's a good part?

Shoeshine is in RI, and Ameranth went back to MA last night, so today should be back to normal.  Besides the company, this week has been wacky, because J had to work last Sunday, which made this a 6 days-in-a-row week. So I have been a day ahead of reality all week.

But weekend mornings are a pain anyway. Everyone's schedule is off, including the dogs. Work days, they get out to pee if necessary at 4 when J gets up, then they wake me about 7 and get put outside until I get up @ 9.  (when Rosie urgently wants to come in for her morning nap on the couch)

But Rosie wakes me up early because J can't hear her rattling our doorknob, which she does instead of barking or whining. Hit the knob with her nose, rattle, rattle. Wait 30 seconds, rattle rattle. (Boomer sleeps in his crate and just whines a little while he waits for Rosie to secure his release) So, I let them out, and go back to bed. Another hour of sleep and the barking begins. Rosie must have something Boomer wants and he's complaining. We both ignore them, and try to get more sleep.

Except J nudges me every time I snore breath too loudly, until he gets me so I wake myself up to stop me! He does not wake up when I return the favor. After that the only part of me that goes to sleep is my right arm, repeatedly.  I get a little more snooze time after J arises, but then I feel guilty about it because he's waiting to get going on our weekend chores. A little guilty. But, I deal with that.

I certainly love and appreciate J (and the dogs) and would not want to be without them (well, maybe the dogs, sometimes) but I must say weekday mornings are less stress, and all about me!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shoeshine's excellent vacation

Shoeshine will be leaving tomorrow for RI to attend a friend's wedding, then back to ME for his flight Monday. It's been nice having him here for a more relaxed time then the holiday/wedding/funeral trips he usually makes. However, sometimes strange things happen when he is home.

I mentioned before that Shoeshine was a welcome addition to our step building team, but he did more. He had friends over for a cookout, with horseshoes, bocce and croquet. I think at one point they played all three at once. Here's Shoeshine wondering about the weather forecast:

J's corn patch had been visited by hooligans knocking down some stalks and gnawing on the ears. Shoeshine warned off any marauders:

Then wondered if he could think of anything better to do.

Ameranth is also in ME and left Anna with us while she visits a friend with cats. Anna and cats do not mix well- or rather Anna likes to mix it up all too well. Anna is a bit too good at nosing our screen door open, and today she led a breakout. I walked to the mailbox, and saw 3 furry bodies dashing past me, directly into the path of a passing car. Fortunately the car was slow, and they made it by, where they made fools of the 3 of us calling and chasing them.

Boomer came back, bless his soul, but the huskies disappeared down the hill, while we herded the two hens out of harm's way into their pen.  Anna and Rosie showed up a few minutes later and were put in the timeout corner.

Oh Shoeshine, you don't have to be in there!

I planned on chicken one night and asked Shoeshine if he ate that. He replied that he didn't like to since it gave them a reason to exist. I'd forgotten about his early childhood trauma while going with J to get eggs. They were playing army and sneaking up to the coop when J opened the door and Shoeshine went in first. Seeing the rooster launching himself at the door, J slammed it, with Shoeshine inside! He opened it immediately, to find Shoeshine bleeding from a rooster attack to the face. (no lasting damage, except to his psyche)

We assured him the two hens we had were not lethal, but he insists fowl have it in for him.

We'll miss you this much, Shoeshine!

*Thank you to J and Shoeshine for all the lovely pictures I found in my camera.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stairway to heaven....or not

I have been a busy beaver, reveling in the late summer weather and working in the yard. The decision was made to replace our steps with a larger version in pressure treated wood. The current ones were built for Ms M's graduation in 1996, and have needed various repairs over the years. One evening a couple of weeks ago, a man selling meat from his truck came up to the door. J sent him off and called the police to warn them that the driver seemed to be intoxicated, since he couldn't even walk up our steps without falling.  The next day we saw the hole in the steps where a board had broken. Oops. Sorry about that, Mr door to door meat seller person.

The new steps had been in the discussion stage for awhile, this was no hasty- hide-the-broken-evidence scheme. J wanted a bigger landing, for a chair, he says, but I know it's a stage for his Halloween guys.

My job was the planning, and a word of advice? Don't round up to 2 feet because it makes the math easier, and what difference could two inches make, right? Turns out it makes a huge difference when one riser is over 9 inches high.

It looked nice, but we couldn't leave it that way. So, instead of building the second set out front, we had to move this:

 down the driveway and a right turn to the front door, which is never used.

I am proud to say that J and I did this by ourselves! Using some metal fence posts we had (Ha, to you people who say we save too much junk! You know who you are) and a rope tied to the truck, we rolled it about 50 feet total and got it right where it needed to go. Just as we finished, Shoeshine was dropped off by the friend who had picked him up at the airport the night before. He helped us build the second steps and was a very welcome third pair of hands. And a third brain helped too- always nice to have a tie-breaker.

We still have the handrails to do, but thank goodness we 'have' to wait a year before staining the pressure treated wood.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Words of advice inspired by Meatloaf and Paradise by the dashboard lights

You've decided today is the day. A lot of glances have been cast, and now is the time to follow up.

Choose your starting point and go slowly, exploring cautiously. Things are going well, and the response is positive, but don't get too enthusiastic yet- It gets tougher. Try switching to a different area if you get bogged down, then go back to try again. It seems as though ignoring the exposed parts for a little bit makes it easier when you go back.

Well into it now, protection may cross your mind. Why didn't it earlier?! It is obviously not the first time, but just as obviously it has been quite a while since the last encounter. How dangerous can it be, really? Carry on.

Firm strokes make a lot of progress in the beginning, but to finish the touch needs to be gentler. Too much force now can cause lasting scars, difficult to smooth over and you will always see them, even if no one else does..

If you get to the point where you just want to rush and finish, back off.

Rome wasn't built in a day.

If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing right.

It's always easier if someone else is helping you.

And, unfortunately, the damn door frame will still be there tomorrow, but you got a third of it stripped today.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September morning

I've read several blogs remembering 9/11/2001 and they were all written much better than I could do, especially this one: My Life...lived my way, so I'm just writing a few words today.

I didn't know anything was happening until about 10 that morning, since I don't normally turn the TV on during the day. I got a call from work telling me that our shifts had been canceled that night, due to everything that was going on. I must have sounded confused, so she told me a plane had crashed in NY and no one knew what was going to happen.

As I watched the TV in horror, my parents called, wondering about Shoeshine. Although we were fortunate enough to not have any family or friends in NY to worry personally about, Shoeshine was in the Army at the time, based in NC. He was in the Airborne division which is often first on the scene when troops are sent anywhere. He called us later to check in, too soon to know what military action might be taken, but I knew he was okay that day.

Sectaurs was living at home then, going to a community college, and Ameranth was at Unity, in Maine, so they were accounted for quickly. My chick head count was not complete yet, I still had to worry about Ms M, who was in the Peace Corps in Moldova, in Eastern Europe, very near to all those 'stan' countries. There was no way for me to contact her, except through the PC office, but she was able to call us quite soon. Ms M had limited access to only Russian TV but had seen their news stories.

All of the PC volunteers had been told to keep a low profile and stay at home as much as possible. They were waiting to see what developed before deciding if the volunteers should all come to the capital, or be sent home. Of course, no one was too eager to fly right away, and they did end up staying put. Then, and in the days that followed, almost every Moldovan she spoke to told her how sorry they were that this had happened to her country.

I still remember the feeling that I had after I had contacted family members. Parents, husband, children, all okay. How lucky I was to have that relief, and so quickly. Thousands of others waited, worrying and desperate to hear from loved ones, friends, coworkers, acquaintances. So many never got the news they wanted.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Driving Mr Crazy

I turned left onto Ridge and heard J gasp in astonishment.
"Linda, you didn't use your blinker!"

"There's no one in sight."

"Oh ho, you tell me to use the blinker when I drive"

"That's on the highway- there are cars everywhere" (a sore spot with me- I point out that people would let him in the lane he wants if they knew he wanted to get there)

"You don't use blinkers on the highway- you use your rear view and side mirrors-"

"You what?"

"I use the mirrors to see when I can move over"

"So, the other drivers do what? peer in your mirrors to see which way your eyeballs move? This is so going in my blog!"

"I'll have to start my own blog to defend myself"

This took the half mile to our house and before I turned into the driveway, I asked "Do you hear that?"

"Hear what?" He does have some hearing loss, so I stopped the car in the road and asked again.

"Blink, Blink, Blink"

Laughing as we stop, he says "You're crazy" Then together we both start "Craaazy, crazy for loving you".

Friday, September 4, 2009

Big Chill

My annual mammogram was at 2:30 today, and I had carefully planned my day accordingly- clean house in the morning, then shower just before leaving to minimize the effect of the no deodorant requirement.

I took a can of Diet Coke in my little insulated lunch bag for an after appointment drink, then had a brilliant idea. I wanted to take my deodorant with me to use later, but was afraid the heat in the car would liquefy it. Solution? Put it in the bag with the ice packs!

I managed the little cape thingy that took the place of the johnny with just a little confusion about where the long ends went. Turns out they don't go anywhere, just get crossed over and magically stay in place. The mammogram went smoothly ( I must say, as disappointed as I was last year to find out the "we're digital now" was all on their end, not mine, that it really does seem to make a difference) and I was out in no time, clutching my complimentary carnation. As I was getting dressed, I realized I had forgotten to get my Suave out of cold storage, so had to wait until I got back to the car. Let's just say it was...refreshing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Weeding, not reading


This mass of grass is a garden in our front yard. I really did weed this once but the flowers were overwhelmed. The evening primroses bloomed nicely, but are scraggly now, and the tall old-fashioned chrysanthemums have given up apparently. I found half a dozen single stalks that are just sad.

Ms M and Mr C are visiting Saturday, and I wanted the front to look nice for them, not to mention all the neighbors driving by, tsk tsking and shaking their heads. We checked them out(the mums not the neighbors) at WalMart and Home Depot, because I'm cheap and am happy if half of the plants come back next year. Both stores had tables of half-price plants that looked terrible- all the flowers were dead, browned as if burned. Strange that both stores had so many like that- did they accept delivery of them that way? Did both stores neglect them the exact same way?

Did I mention I'm cheap? Plus I hate to see plants wasted, so I went through all the sale plants, and found 10 that still had green growth and unopened buds. I am their second chance in life! I did splurge on a couple of bigger, healthy plants just in case the browning really is terminal. Now, after two days of weeding and planting the garden looks like a garden again. Ta da!

Amazing, right? Now, grow, darn it.

Reading again

I finished a great book tonight, the "Night Angel" trilogy by Brent Weeks. I got the 3 in 1 version, so it was a very fat book indeed. It's a very well- written fantasy novel too, with much more depth and character development than I expected.

So, zipping along happily, and got to the last 50 pages or so, and stopped. I wanted to know how it ended, but didn't want to rush through and have it be all over. I mentioned this to J, so he knew to leave me alone after supper and went off to watch his movie. I mentioned this to the dogs, and it had no effect whatsoever on Boomer. Rosie knew better. Down to the last 10 pages, and Boomer gets escorted to the back door, and out to solitary banishment. He came close to ruining the whole mood there!

I don't really expect Boomer to understand that I am reading and cannot be expected to pay attention to minor outside distractions (not yet, but we're working on it). However, how annoying is it when people come by in the break room and ask what you're reading? They don't really care, they just want to have a conversation because they didn't have the forethought to bring anything to amuse themselves.

I bought a bookmark that said SHH, I'm trying to read, and no one took it seriously. Well, that's not true. One friend did, and she would sit at my table with her book too, saying that she knew I wouldn't bother her and she wouldn't talk to me. That usually worked out well.

Hmm, it just occurred to me that maybe the interrupters thought they were being nice, seeing me sitting alone, and that's why they didn't approach the two of us? I am not a very social person, but I guess normal people might think that way? Not realizing that the social pressure is more uncomfortable/stressful than sitting alone with a book. And that when I was working, my breaks there were the only time I had to read sometimes. Great, now I feel like a jerk.

Well, this post took an unexpected turn but I guess I will leave it out there.

Oh, and I did take the dogs out for a walk after I finished the book, so I'm not a total jerk.