Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dumb and Dumber

I thought she was brighter than this.  Not only did she get up here once this morning, but I came home after being gone for over 3 hours and found her up here again.  This is one of the corner support posts for my front porch. No clue how long she was up there either time.  I can understand her trying once, but twice?  Hasn't been a third time.  Yet. But she was pretty unhappy after I was gone so long the second time, so she may have learned her lesson.  Or, maybe not.

Two fifty pound bags of Black Kow composted manure later, this bed is about ready to plant after it sits for awhile longer.  I need to let the grass clippings decompose a bit more, mix it all together, and let the weather cool off a touch first.

Five more concrete blocks today (that's all I can comfortable fit into the trunk of my car, and about all I can comfortably unload at one time), and this raised bed is getting close to being finished.  One more load will almost do it, then I can start on the other. 

 I just finished a little yard work, moving and emptying 100 pounds of Black Kow and a bunch of concrete blocks, in the middle of the day when it's hot (about 87 and really humid) and sunny.  So, which of us is dumb and which is dumber?  I'll let you decide for yourself, but personally I think it's about a draw.  I'm more than a little over-heated and dizzy at the moment, so I think I'm going to take it easy for awhile before starting in on the window.

Earlier today, after the HD trip, I went to a Polk County Cemetery Preservation Committee meeting, which I really enjoy.  Some good people there.  Then, on to Rockmart and Carlton Farms where I got my milk and eggs for the week.  There were no eggs in the store when I arrived, but I'd noticed a 4-wheeler at the chicken barn when I drove in and a minute or two later he came by and told me to give him a minute.  Talk about fresh eggs!  Well worth waiting for -- and I'm glad I know where my eggs come from right now.  Not to get on a soapbox, but a large part of the reason I like to produce as much of my own food as I can is that I do know where it comes from, and I know it's safe to eat.  Not to mention fresh.  These recalls happen too often for me -- I don't buy bagged salad greens or spinach anymore, which is a shame because I love them.  I plan to grow my own from now on out.  Winter shouldn't be a problem around here, and by next summer I'm going to install a hoop system over one bed and use shade cloth to cover and hopefully keep the greens happier all summer.  Not certain it'll work, but I'll try it.

The rest of this weekend is all about starting to finish up the projects around here: the space for the new window; the outside of that window; the inside of the other window; and get primer on the bare siding that I've scraped.  One at a time, with the new window being first priority for this weekend.  Sand, caulk, prime.  Maybe prime twice.  Then, I'll think about the next project to finish.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A New Toy for the Baby

Kittens are just like human kids in many ways.  Toddlers love cardboard boxes -- this box my sander came in has proven to be irresistible to the kitten.  She loves the window, and she loves to hide in there so she can attack me when I walk by. It's just her size. I was going to recycle the box, but I guess that'll have to wait until she gets tired of it.

Home Depot left a message that my window is in, which is interesting.  I sure can't do anything with it yet, but I guess I'll see about picking it up.  At least I can read the instructions, see what I might need, see if I can do it or need help.  Supposed to be really easy, but....we'll see.

I've worked two days in a row this week and now have two days in a row off, which is just lovely.  It's been really boring and while I'm getting much better about not letting the boredom get to me, it's still boring.

I reached the conclusion this morning that I really need to see about growing a more varied garden next summer, plus fall and winter crops.  I am SO tired of eggplant, and even though I was without squash while the new plant matured, I'm tired of that, too.  I don't like the tomatoes I have, so I don't eat many of them. The peppers apparently need more afternoon shade and tend to get sunburned. All in all, I really have to do better next time around.  At least I'll have more time and a little more knowledge.  And I won't be starting from scratch!

I got home tonight to find that someone (the city?) has mowed the strip of greenery between the sidewalk and the street, in the entire neighborhood.  A street sweeper truck was coming along cleaning it all up.  I think most of them were in pretty good shape -- most at this end of the street are mowed regularly and I don't remember anything looking bad.  Now, if they'll just unstop the storm drains....

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Almost Ready!

Remember this?

And this?

I'd gotten the lower sash out, but couldn't budge the upper one, so a friend came over and between us we agreed that he would take off the two side sash trims so I could get to the weights as part of what I thought was going to be a detailed rehab of the window.  Over the many decades, all kinds of crud had gathered in the cavities.

If you've followed this saga, you've seen the efforts to remove paint (some successful, some less so) and other little challenges that arose during the process.  And you'll know I've ordered replacement sash inserts for the window, which will leave the existing window structure in place.  I worked all morning and almost have it together.  Almost.

A little Dap'll do you!


After.  Most of this will be covered by the new 'frame' and by the 'stop' trim that's yet to go on.


After.  Not pretty, I know, but the new window 'frame' insert will cover these so really, I was only satisfying my own need, and helping keep cold air out.

This will really keep the cold air out!  Two layers of Fiberglas insulation in each side cavity, replacing the weights and wasp nests.

It's this stuff -- and you'll notice it's not pink.  It may be formaldehyde free, but it's still Fiberglas and it's still itchy. Two layers deep should really do the job.

I've used this stuff before and I even read the directions, so I should have known better....

Oops!  I put a tad too much in the two bottom cavities. They were smaller than I thought.  I did this because Tommy, the contractor on This Old House, used it along with the vertical insulation in a 'how-to' video.  I guess using it at the tops and bottoms really seals all the air leaks in those areas better than Fiberglas alone would.

I haven't had the nerve to nail the trim boards back in place yet, but I sanded them down and put them back where they belong.  They're still a tad warped at both top ends, and I may just have to live with that. We'll see.

Here's what it looks like at this very moment.  Dap helped fix many small, old nail holes and other damage to the wood.  There was some really, really stubborn paint (lower left) that just would not come off.  Several applications of Citristrip, lots of sanding, and I just gave up.  It's smooth, and I can only hope anything that determined to stay in place won't decide to come off after I repaint.

So -- it's all back together, sans layers of paint and sans window panes.  The Dap takes 24-48 hours to cure so I can't prime until that's dry and sanded smooth where needed.  No rush, anyway, as the new window parts won't arrive for another week, at least.  Nor do I have a paint color picked out to complete the job, but I am narrowing that down.

We've had lots more rain today, and it's been nice.  Hard rain at times, but I was safely inside and it didn't flood. For those of you who wonder about such things, these storms are the remnants of tropical storm #5 that just moved through the Gulf of Mexico area.  We occasionally get tail-ends of these things, and occasionally even get fringes of hurricanes.  It's humid, but not too hot and the relief from the hot, hot weather is so welcome.  This -- rain and temps -- is far more normal for summer weather around here.  The heat of these past weeks is anything but normal. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Tough Job!

China Beach, just north of the Thomas Creek Bridge, a little north of Brookings.  I'd seen this beach from above from several locations (including the point in the background) and was determined to find a way down to it. A narrow, steep access trail branches off the Oregon Coast Trail and voila -- here it is.  Isolated and  beautiful.  SO glad I made the effort for this one.  This photo, by the way, was featured in a CNN iReport on secret places, or something like that.

The GATC has an annual photo contest, which I used to run every year and at which, she says immodestly, I always walked away with a few first and second place ribbons.  Judging was, and still is, I think, blind and done by an outside professional.  They recently sent out a call for entries, but when I saw in the rules that I'd have to resize them to a specific size, I realized I couldn't do that because I don't have software that will enable me to size by number.  A few days ago, I got an email from the photo chairman asking me to enter some of my photos.  I told him why I couldn't, he said he'd resize them for me, so I was off to try and choose a mere six photos out of hundreds gathered over the past 14 or so years, mostly in the last couple of years, truthfully, since I've gone digital.

As I went through various folders of photos I'd see more and more that I really liked, didn't see any way to narrow it down so far, but then I just decided to not sweat it.  I ran a photo slide show of the ones I'd already placed in a 'possibilities' folder, and culled from there, using the ones that stood out the most, then culling again until I got it down to six. I really wish I could have had some help with this from some of you out there, but since that wasn't possible, I thought I'd share the 'final six' with you, in no particular order.Most of these, probably all except the one from Mexico, have been on my Oregon Coast blog,  but not everybody who visits here reads that one.

Crater Lake in the early morning, when the colors are so rich, the water so still, the reflections so perfect.

This is the surprise of the bunch -- for some reason, I guess it didn't cut the mustard when I first went through the photos taken on this trip, but when I saw it recently something about it really struck me and all morning as I was culling, kept striking me.  This is the meadow at Prairie Creek Redwoods in Northern California, one of my favorite places.

This is early morning on the Oregon Coast Trail, headed out to the headlands shown in the distance in the first photo.  Views from up there, in all directions, are nothing short of amazing.  If anybody's interested, the trail head is just slightly north of the Thomas Creek Bridge.

Native azaleas in Azalea Park in Brookings.

I fell in love with this lilypad in Ajijic, Mexico and still love the photo and its simple symmetry.

I'll let you know if any of these wins anything.  In this era of digital photography, I'm sure there are lots more people entering, and I know for a fact that there are some damned good photographers in the group, so I'm not holding my breath.

Some Things Work -- and Some Things Don't

I finally went outside this morning and tried the much-vaunted and much-anticipated drill/wire brush on the siding, and I couldn't see that it did much of anything at all.  I suppose that if I put it on areas that were not previously scraped of the loose stuff, it might get that off -- but frankly, all that comes off more easily with the wide putty knife, and with a lot less effort.  So -- all that money for nada.  Not really nada -- I'll use the drill for other things (and it was free), I can use the wire brush for stuff inside the house, as it seemed to work well where I tried it on the window, and the long cord will be useful, too.  Ah, well.  Back to scraping I guess, but not this morning.  Already getting hot out there.

I had a little fun last night taking pics of the kitten, mostly in her favorite resting place which happens to be my lap.  I love it when she gets on her back like this -- drowsy, but rarely asleep, half-heartedly playing with her tail, her back feet, my fingers if they are within reach.  That's her cuddle spot.

And so is this, where she's more prone to sleeping.  It's almost impossible to get a photo of her sleeping, because the sounds of the camera get her attention.

Trying to cool off before attacking the mousie one more time.

She doesn't do this often -- kind of a cheesecake photo, don't you think?

This is one of those rare and lovely mornings when there is nothing on my schedule, no garden toil that needs to happen, no traveling to do, and I love it.  I can use a day off.  I do have someone from Lowes coming at 11am to give an estimate for installing the insulation, but that won't take long.  I'm sure they'll be the most pricey estimated I get, but that's OK.  It's good to know what the choices are.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Rest of It!

Another early morning start -- it was barely light enough to see outside, but the temp was about 74 and it was humid, so while it was relatively cool, I wouldn't call it cool.  Still, it won't get any cooler today.  Turning under the other bed took about the same amount of time as the first one -- an hour.  Doing the amendments took considerably less, although I followed almost all of the same procedures.  The only thing I didn't do is bring in some compost to seed the top.  I guess one thing that saved time was that I didn't have to haul all the grass clippings from the rear.  The pile of grass was already starting to decompose and I decided there were probably already enough microorganisms in there to do the job.  No more chicken wire to spare, so I'll just have to hope the cats leave it alone.

Someone asked me to show a photo of the entire yard, to put the work I've done into perspective.  Here's a photo my real estate agent sent last November, so you can see that there was absolutely nothing here but grass.  The blue car is long gone, along with the pile of junk at the rear of that yard.

Here's how it looked last night, with the grass pile still in place.  My property lines are a little hard to see, but look to the right of the compost piles a few feet until you see a little line of bushes -- that's the line on that side.  None of the bushes are in my yard.  On the left side, just above the tomato plants, is a brownish line of grass clippings from the neighbor's mower, and that's about where that line is.

And, while it's embarrassing to show the clutter behind my own home (I've got zero storage room, folks!), this is where the gardens are in relation to the house.  One of these days, I hope to put some kind of hard scape between the house and the gardens. It's interesting to see that the bed I turned this morning is not nearly as high as the first one.  Did I put more soil from the raised bed?  Did I use more grass clippings?  Hard to say.  There will be plenty more added to both these, however, so I'm not gonna worry about any of it right now.

I may have found a new handyman, and a good one.  Yesterday I walked outside the store to the mailbox and saw a van in our lot that said something like "Super Handyman Husband" on it.  Back inside, I found the owner and talked to him for awhile, got his card.  He has a good website, a good background in remodeling, and can do just about anything that wouldn't require a pro in that field: serious electrical and plumbing, etc. I know he'll charge me more than James did, but there are times when it's about getting the job done, not how much it costs.  Anyway -- he's somebody to try.

Lots of little errands to run today, but mostly I'm going to just try to stay cool.  I've had my exercise for the day.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Early Morning Work in the Garden

I had in mind to turn the buckwheat under in both new beds this morning, but it took a hard hour to do the first one, so I'm afraid the other will need to wait until Tuesday morning.  It has grown a bit more slowly than this one, anyway.  There wasn't a sign of living grass or weed roots here, which was nice to see.  The soil didn't turn deeply -- I'd forgotten how rocky it is and how impossible it is to get a shovel into. I used the garden fork and most of the time ended up pulling the top greenery off, lifting the clump of soil out, stuffing the greenery into the hole and then putting the clod upside down on top, and breaking it up.  Lots of work.  Satisfying, but work nonetheless.

One of the 'old' raised beds after I dug out a bunch of soil to go on top of the greenery in the new bed.  I wanted to do this partly to add bulk to the new bed,  but mostly to make room in this one for lots of amendments.  For some reason, this bed has never seemed as fertile as the other one.  That doesn't make sense, because they were created of the same materials in the same percentages, but things just tended not to thrive in this one.  There must be lots of microbial activity, however, because not a trace remained of the buckwheat that I turned under in this bed last week.  On the good side -- this soil is wonderful to work with!  It's never been walked on, so isn't compacted, and is beautifully crumbly and loose.  

Before I transferred the soil, I seeded the turned clods with a good bit of dried molasses -- can't have too much of it, and I want to get those microbes working.  This is the bed after the soil transfer.

The finished product -- for now, anyway. I moved all the grass clippings from the compost bins back to these beds.  Two big bags full went into this bed, then I topped it with a bucketful of almost-ready compost from the old compost bin and watered it all in.  The clippings were hot and so was the compost, so this should help decompose the buckwheat.  There are two more bags full waiting to go into the other bed. I didn't think to ask James to dump them here in the first place -- but I will do so next time.

James, in all his wisdom (or lack thereof) didn't remove the chicken wire cover of the old compost pile before he piled the clippings into it.  He can't say he didn't know it was there, because it's always been there and he's always removed it.  Didn't matter in this case, since I wanted to move it all anyway, but it's indicative of the work he's been doing lately.  I don't think he's going to be working for me much more.  I can buy a lawnmower for next season and do it myself -- for what I've paid him this summer I could get a really good one.  He hasn't finished under the house, either, although he was paid for the whole job since there was only a little to go.  Friday night he said he'd do it 'tomorrow', which was yesterday and I'm still waiting.

But, back to the garden.  I put a bag of clippings into that old bed, to continue adding to that soil.  One of these days, I'll get all that black plastic up, but not anytime soon.

All this work took one hour (to turn the bed) and 45 minutes (to add the amendments).  All was finished by 8:15am before the sun broke over the trees.  I think that qualifies as enough exercise for today, so I'm going to tend to indoor work like laundry.  I left my reading glasses at work, which is very frustrating when I'm trying to find something to do with my day!

And, speaking of spoiled, I mixed up some food for my kitten last night, using a recipe off the website of my organic guru The Dirt Doctor.  Fifty percent meat, 25 percent grain, 25 percent steamed veggies, and 2 percent diatomaceous earth.  In this case, I used lean, natural, hormone-free grass-fed ground beef, brown rice, steamed carrots and squash, and judging from the reaction this morning, this makes eating veggies easy.  I used some plastic egg containers as a mold for freezing, popped them out and stored them in a container. I've been feeding her cooked ground beef for the last couple of weeks, and I can really tell a difference in her attitude and demeanor and such, between the beef and the canned food.  She still gets Iams dried kitten food to eat between the two daily beef treats, so all in all, I think she's eating better than I am!  Doesn't cost any more -- I think the beef was less than $6, the veggies a dollar or two, the rice I already had.  Just takes a little effort to cook the rice and veggies, mix it up and freeze it.  There's enough for a couple of weeks, and similar amounts of canned food would have cost about the same.

So -- now what?  A long day looms ahead, but I'll find a way to fill it up.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pork, Peaches, Apples and Cemeteries

Ahh -- this is what I drove 2.5 hours each way to get -- southern fried pies. This one is peach, the other apple.  Having tasted both, the peach wins.  They're fresh, too -- there were a couple of women visible in the kitchen making more.  For you Yankees, it's just another southern tradition you have to try in order to appreciate. And yes, I could have gotten these locally, but it was all about the quest for memories, and for those, I needed to go someplace specific. 

The rest of the quest -- fresh Elberta peaches and Gala apples, right off the tree.  Would you believe only $4 for each pile?  A bargain!  I asked the woman about the small, juicy peaches I remember and she had a name for them that I've already forgotten, (White Lady?) but they were all gone.  Makes sense that they were an early season variety, as I did most of my weed trimming on the Trail in the spring and early summer (with a hand sling blade, y'all, for about 2 miles of trail.  No Weedeaters here!).

The grail -- as best I remember it, anyway.  There are a lot of farm stands up here, but I remember enough details that this almost has to be the right one.  And, does it really matter? It was certainly the right one today.

Poole's BBQ Pig Hill of Fame. Unlike my last visit, the sun was shining and the parking lot was filled with cars from all over the state and several other states.  I like their food, despite the photos ops and stories of visits by George W. Bush and Pat Robertson.

This really needs sound effects -- there were pork oinking and grunting sounds coming from these cars.  I'm surprised they weren't rocking.

Along the way, I'd mapped out three old cemeteries to visit.  Found all three of them, which is rather amazing all by itself.  My second great-grandparents (part of that troublesome Smith Family) are supposed to be buried here, but I didn't find any stones for them.  There are lots of unreadable markers and plenty of graves only marked with plain stone at the head and foot.  I may have just missed them by not looking at the 'newer' section.  I didn't have notes with me, but she died in 1925 which might put her in the newer section -- I was thinking it was much earlier.  Oh, well.

It was a big place -- lots of old markers and even a couple of crypts.

I don't know if this will be readable even if you click to enlarge.  Interesting history of the cemetery and area.

This was the second cemetery, where I was primarily helping out a cousin in Oklahoma.  I found lots of people here, including the brother of my 3rd great-grandfather on my mother's side, his wife and several of their kids.  Plus unknown (to me) assorted other family names, all of which I've passed on to my cousin. The third cemetery was a bust -- although there were more unmarked graves than marked ones and I only had a general family name, no specific names.  I was getting tired of cemeteries, and hungry for pork, by that time anyway, so I headed on north.

All in all, a lovely day.  Fog filled the air when I left home at 8:30am, but by the time I reached the cemeteries all had burned away and the sun shone brightly.  Took about 8 hours, in all, mostly driving, but I feel great. As always, lots of sentiment as I drove those old familiar highways and byways.  I'd take a turn on a 'new' road, and then think, "I remember this...." although I could not have said why I'd have been on that particular road.  In those days I think I traveled almost every road there is up there, finding a way to get from Atlanta to some particular trailhead or, often, me finding a way to get to Cedartown or Rome after a hike in order to visit my mom.  Those were long, long days!

Friday, August 6, 2010


We had us a gully-washer awhile ago.  Thunder, lightning, wind, and lots of rain.  As you can see, from my house to the other side of the street is a lake.  I didn't mind it at all, because it cooled everything off nicely.  The kitten, apparently, is terrified of rain -- she was on the porch when it first started coming down, ran inside all scared and only a little bit wet.  She didn't calm down until it was over. In fact, I'm not so sure she's really over it yet. I'm guessing she must feel the atmospheric pressure, or something.  I've noticed this before with her and hope it goes away, because she's going to have to face lots of these things in her life.

Not everyone found it uncomfortable.  These two kids from down the street were having a blast once it was over.  And yes, their mother was right there with them.

I'm not sure it's over yet -- weather maps show a whole bunch of these things headed this way, although they don't look as strong as this one.  We need the rain, certainly, and nobody will be unhappy to see this, I'm sure.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Busy Day -- and My Reward

Well, this ain't the Whistle Stop Cafe, but these are real Fried Green Tomatoes.  I 'spect they should have been battered with flour, not a corn meal/flour mixture, but I used what I had and it worked jus' fine.

Really, it must be in the genes.  I don't believe I've ever cooked Fried Green Tomatoes in my entire life, and I know it's been many a long year since I saw my momma cook them.  But there wasn't much doubt in my mind how to do it.  They tasted right, too.  I have this huge tomato vine out there and have yet to eat a ripe tomato from it, because by the time they're ripe, they've all been rotten and mushy.  No clue what's causing that, but I thought I'd just beat it to the punch and try them green.

Remember this?  Last week after I ripped the Morning Glory vine down.  I finally made it out there again this morning for a little more scraping, and now it looks like this....

Still plenty to do, but this is just what came off with easy scraping with the wide putty knife.  Not a lot of effort, but steady for about an hour and a half.  Once the sun began to clear the trees, I gave it up. I didn't try the wire brush because it was early morning and I didn't want to make noise.  I think that for now, until the weather cools off a bit, I'll just go out when I can and scrape, then do the wire brushing all at one time to get whatever it'll get.  Then I can prime it.

Then, I guess I hadn't had enough because I went out on the front porch where it was still cool (coolish, anyway -- never got below 76 overnight) and shady and sanded down one of the pieces of window trim.  I could have done both, I guess, but there's no rush and it wasn't cool enough. I need to fill the weight cavities with insulation before nailing these back in place.

And then.....I followed through on a brilliant idea I had a day or two ago.  This east-facing pantry window let the sun and huge amounts of heat into my kitchen, with the help of the hot water heater.  I brought a big piece of cardboard home from work yesterday, cut it to size, faced it with aluminum foil and my kitchen stayed a whole lot cooler today.  It ain't pretty, but that's OK.  It works.

But of course, in weather like this 'cool' is really relative.  Still, when I got up this morning the temp in the kitchen was about 79, and by the time I started to cook dinner it was only up to 82, and that's not half bad.  It was 95 out on my back porch.  According to NOAA, it's a mere 94 out there right now, at 7:30pm, with a heat index of 101.  Ain't it sweet?

I, fortunately, seem to be adjusting to the heat.  Can't say I love it, but day by day I can see that it's taking less out of me and that I mind being out in it less.  And speaking of heat -- the buckwheat in the two new beds is starting to flower so I'm going to need to turn it under sometime in the next few days.  I let the soaker hose sit on each bed for an hour this evening, to soften up the ground.  But now, I think tomorrow may be too soon and I won't have another chance to do it until Sunday and I bet that with all that water they'll grow like crazy now.  Maybe it'll rain between now and then and help keep the ground moist.  I can hope.

So that, and the genealogy, was my day and I have yet another free day tomorrow.  I do like having two days off in a row, but it wouldn't be practical on a routine basis, for the rhythm of work that needs to be done in Rome.