Saturday, June 19, 2010


I pulled the cannellini beans from the garden last night and hung them to dry.  I don't know if the time is right or not, but it really doesn't matter.  There aren't enough of them to really save, and they were ugly and annoying in the garden.  I did open a pod up and yes, it had nice, fat white beans in it.  I suppose I could cook them fresh, rather than dried, but the idea does not appeal to me at the moment.

This day does not hold the promise of a lot of interest or excitement, unfortunately.  I have a few chores to do, and a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for perennials at HD, but that's about it.  I need other things, but even though I got paid yesterday, I don't have money to spend on non-necessities so other things will have to wait.

Tuesday, I'm planning a drive towards Atlanta to the suburb of Marietta, to get some goat's milk yogurt and kefir so I can start the anti-inflammatory diet.  A friend is thinking about going with me, and that would be nice.  I also need to get my car serviced at Jiffy Lube, and stop at a nursery that's nearby.  It's not a trip I'm likely to make often, as I try to avoid Atlanta and its traffic as much as possible.

 Anything that moves is fascinating, including the second hand on my clock.  She doesn't miss much!

The 'baby' is making herself right at home, driving me crazy at times, sweet as she can be other times.  She's just a baby, doing what kittens do, but it still drives me crazy.  But, she'll grow out of it.  I have to give her another bath today, for flea control, this time without the orange oil but with more soap on her little body.  She won't like it, but once I get the fleas off her, she can live inside, with her litter box and everything.  I'll probably still use the front porch as a playpen, however, when she's getting on my nerves too much.  Right now, she's enjoying all the wires under the desk.  That's ok, as long as she doesn't bite into one, and she's likely to do just that.

It didn't take her long to grasp the concept of 'canned food', even if it's laced with garlic.  She begs, and turns up her nose at the dried food if she can get away with it.  And she can't.  I don't budge on things like that.  If she's hungry, she'll eat the dried -- ate plenty of it with gusto before she tasted the canned.

So that's my day.  Due to be hot and sunny, not wet, for a change.  Time to spray the bermuda grass sprouts that are left after removing beans.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stuff and Nonsense

Future walkway!

It's been too hot to do much of anything outside,  but I have been out a couple of early mornings working on the area where the ramp was removed.  I dug out most of the sand and piled it on the side of the house (under chicken wire), have used a shovel to move soil from hump areas (used to support the lower part of the ramp), and this morning went out and finished the job, for now.  It's fairly level and slopes away from the house, which was the primary goal.  Once the work under the house is finished (James hasn't started yet -- it's not something he looks forward to!) I can think about steps here, get rid of at least part of the excess lumber.  Some of it (one concrete end, for example) just needs to be cut off and put out front for removal by the city.  Whatever's left after the steps will be saved and someday used to extend the steps around the other side of the porch.  That is probably fairly far into the future, as it involves removing the concrete block steps and I haven't asked anybody about the difficulty/cost of doing that.

See how tiny she is?  That's an average size chair.

I may be stuck with this little critter.  That's not a horrible hardship, but I really didn't/don't want to raise a baby of any kind at this stage of my life.  Thank goodness I can put this one on the front porch when she really gets to be too much.  She seems to be quite comfortable and happy out there, although she is always happy to come inside and get a little attention.  I asked around, and my neighbor says this is a dumping area for unwanted pets in this town, and that's most likely where she came from. I called some local vets, including one in Rome recommended by the rescue group as being less pricey, and found that if she's under 6 months she doesn't need leukemia testing, and her shots won't start until she's 9 weeks old, so right now she won't cost me any vet bills.  Her name may end up being 'Pest', as that's what I call her most of the time.  She would be Pest II in my life -- Pest I came from similar circumstances, rescued from a dump half dead and filthy.  The name came about the same way, too.

I took my worm bin apart last night, spread the bedding onto a compost pile, put the soil/worms/castings and small, uneaten organic matter into the two raised beds.  Why, you ask?  First of all, a few days back when I added some coffee grounds to the bed I saw almost no worms and thought maybe the heat had been too much for them.  This was the first day after the ramp came down and the plastic bin was in full sun all morning for the first time.  I haven't seen but a few since then, either, and normally I see lots of them when I put stuff in.  Also, with the ramp gone I really don't have a good shaded place to put them plus I was frankly getting tired of thinking about them.  

Never fear, however, the wormies were all safe and sound and burrowed deeply into the moist soil, with plenty of baby worms.  I expect they will make themselves at home in the raised beds, continue to thrive and reproduce and make castings for the plants.  Life will be a lot simpler for me.

Much cooler today/last night, thank goodness, but it was starting to warm up outside when I was working out there and the sun grew closer to the tops of the trees.  Granted, maybe the fact that I'm wearing sweat pants might have contributed to that.  Today?  Deal with the kitten's needs, call a gutter man, look for a job here in town.  Who knows, beyond that.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Fuzzy Wuzzy

This sweet little kitten has been wandering around the neighborhood since last night, at least.  Not sure before that.  She followed some kids home way down the street last night while I was cooling off on the porch, but their mother was saying 'no pets' and I wondered what would happen to the little thing.  The kids were in front of my house, across the street, when I saw this little thing loping down the sidewalk after them -- they had stopped to see something in one of the yards, and I guess this is what they saw.

This morning I walked to the library and she was sitting in a different yard, on this side of the street, came running out to me.  I wouldn't let her follow me, but determined that if she was still there when I came back, I might give her a cuddle.

Long story short, she was still there and she was extremely cuddly and lovable and skinny and no doubt hungry and clearly had fleas.  But I took her home, gave her a little raw cows milk and some cat chow that I'd purchased awhile back in anticipation of getting a cat soon.  She was starving -- don't think I've ever seen anything that small eat so much at one time.  She can't be more than six weeks old and has clearly been raised in a loving environment and not mistreated, so I have to wonder how she came to be alone and homeless on this street.

She hasn't had the best of days.  After she ate, I dusted her with diatomaceous earth (DE) to get rid of the fleas, then fed her a concoction of garlic oil, cod liver oil, and DE, to discourage fleas from the inside as well as purge worms, as the DE will do.  And yes, it was food grade DE, totally safe for humans and pets to swallow.

After that, she wouldn't leave me alone so she perched on my lap while I read.  A friend stopped by, and while we were walking around talking I carried her until she started meowing in a panic that I recognized as a kitten's signal that she had to poop.  I'd prepared a sand box (literally, sand in an old disposable foil cake tin) and put her in this.  She didn't recognize this as cat litter, but eventually instinct took over and she started digging.

I guess this had made for a pretty tiring day, because after she finished with the litter box on the porch, I brought her back inside (much cooler!) and set her on my ottoman atop a sweatshirt that I use to protect the white fabric.  I don't think she budged -- just sat down, lay down, and went to sleep.  Later, she stretched out a bit but slept for a good hour in a half until.....

I stuck her into a bath filled with mild soap and a little orange oil, again to get rid of fleas.  I'd been watching them crawl all over her while she slept -- amazing numbers of them.  DE won't work that fast.  Needless to say, she was not amused at the bath and I'm guessing that the orange oil began to sting a little here and there, probably where there were flea bites, although I didn't use but a few drops.  She's tiny enough that I could hold her in the water long enough to drown the fleas. That sounds awful -- I wasn't holding her under water, but her rear feet were in the water and I was using my other hand to scoop water over the little body and scrub at the fleas.  She would have completely panicked if I'd held her underwater.  Eventually she was yeowing enough and frantic enough that I took her out, gave her a quick rinse under the faucet, and wrapped her in a towel.

After I got her mostly dry, I put her down and she took care of the rest.  I'm thinking she'll never trust me quite as much again, but she's young and maybe she'll forget the 'torture'.  That does not mean that I'm going to keep her.  I am rescuing her, have contacted a rescue organization in Rome that I've been working with.  I don't think I can afford the cost of leukemia testing and inoculations, and I don't want to keep her unless I know she is leukemia free.  I'm waiting to hear from them.

In the meantime, it was off to Kroger for some food for me and a litter box/litter for her.  I'll need it when the time comes to get a cat, whether it's this one or not.  She'll be sleeping on the front porch, where she is now.  That's her home, with inside privileges, for the time being.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Progress Report

The attic ventilation is complete.  This went in a few weeks ago, and yesterday James did the roof vent.

I don't think he quite got the message that this is supposed to be vertical, adjusted to the pitch of the roof.  But, it's done and I can live with it.  The important thing is that it works!  It was spinning around when I took this photo.  James says it's lots cooler up there now than before he did any work, and that's what it's all about.

The pest control guy came by this morning to check out the crawlspace and give recommendations.  Turns out he's a friend of my cousin in Rockmart, which is always nice.  He says no treatment is necessary, that it's best to just solve the moisture problem and then the wood rot and other issues will go away, since they require moisture to live.  His main recommendation was to get the dryer vent hooked up to the outside vent, because that's putting moisture into the crawlspace every time I use it.  I didn't realize that, but it makes sense and it's easy to solve.  He felt that was currently causing most of my moisture problems.  Lots of the floor insulation has fallen down, worse than the photos my inspector took, and is probably all filled with moisture and not doing a good job.  So, I need to get that taken out and then plan to replace it before winter sets in again.  That'll give me time to put the $$ away.  My cousin says his neighbor is a contractor and has excess insulation and can probably get it free or really cheap, so I'll follow that up. After that's done, I can get a moisture barrier down, but he felt there was no rush on that if I take care of the other stuff.

I spent an hour or so scraping outside paint, and let me tell you there is NO better way to make the sun come out around here. Twice now it's happened -- I've gone out while it's overcast and relatively cool to do this work, and out pops the sun.  This is hot work in the sunshine!  I didn't push myself -- no rush, after all.  And now, I think I'm lazing the rest of this day away.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Remember This?

Back on April 3, right after I planted the small rosemary and lavender, before there was much more here.

As of today, it looks like this.  I've been waiting for some store to start closing out summer merchandise so I could find a birdbath on sale, and when I went to Wal-Mart this morning, there they were.  The rosemary and lavender are much larger and will become much larger still.  The other herbs and cosmos add to the mix and I'm really pleased with the overall result.

Quiet day here.  Overcast and damp, but I finally washed my poor car -- can't quite remember last time it had a bath, but I think it was last summer in Oregon.  Certainly long before it carried me safely across country!  Other than that, I'm not doing much.

Made some ice cream yesterday afternoon and ate every last bite after dinner -- can you say 'sugar overload'?  Not surprisingly, I didn't go to sleep easily but once asleep, I slept well.   The phosphatidyl-choline seems to be working.  I hope that once I catch up on all that sleep I won't be so sleepy all the time, but for now, it's just fine.  I'm happy to relax, listen to music, and read.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Critters of the Yard

Dragonfly on tomato stake.  This was as close as he'd let me get, and even then I'm at full zoom (24x). And hand-held, of course, so not as sharp as I'd like.  It's really hard to hold it steady at that focal length.  But I keep trying.

I never tire of the endless array of nature that passes through my yard throughout any given day.  Birdsong is always in the air, from before the break of day until after sunset.  Mostly cheery, often punctuated by the low cooing dirge of the Mourning Dove.

Lately, and again this afternoon, I've been fascinated by the dragonflies that pass through, often resting atop one garden stake.  There were several, all different, here at one time today, although I couldn't capture one big one because he only flitted around, never stopped for a moment of rest.

Blue dragonfly on hose reel.

Ladybug in Cosmos.  I have a native population and they thrive in the Cosmos and also in the veggie bed.  I'm grateful that they find my yard to be a good home. The wind was blowing and the camera didn't do a good focus job on the subject, but that's OK.

Not exactly a critter, but a sight I really like -- an old shed in a neighbor's yard crowned by a huge mimosa tree.  Unfortunately, only a close-up works because the yard beyond this is overflowing with giant plastic kids toys that kind of ruin the effect.  I like this look.  I also love the moments when the breeze is just right to send the wonderful scent my way.

Out in the back 40, the groundhog critter was feasting on mulberries, although not within camera range.  He's not the only one who enjoys that tree and its fruit.  Any given evening if I walk back to the compost pile, a virtual plethora of birds flitter through the bush, chirping and causing lots of shaking of tree limbs.  They don't like this human intrusion into 'their' territory.

In the late evenings, when I sit and watch the day end and the fireflies come out,  birds are everywhere in the lawn and trees, flying everywhere, finding food in the grass, even occasionally hopping around in the veggie beds in search of a tasty bug.  Cardinals, mockingbirds, brown thrasher, robins, an occasional Carolina wren and some tiny sparrows make up the usual crowd, along with starlings or something similar.  I've seen plover out there recently, and a grey bird I think is a catbird.  And of course the swallows that grab dinner on the fly.

I don't know what's going on with me, but I've been napping almost every day I'm home in the afternoon.  No complaints -- I love it -- but I can't help but wonder why, after decades of being totally unable to nap.  I have to wonder if the supplements I've been taking for a few weeks are finally working.  Two of them, lecithin and phosphatidyl-choline, are stimulators or precursors to the neuro-transmitters that tell the brain to sleep.  The other is niacinamide, which also helps the process in some way. I take them at bedtime so I wouldn't expect them to still have a lingering effect the following afternoon, but who knows?  I do seem to be sleeping a bit better, most nights. Trouble with the nap is that I really don't want to get up.  I've been awake a little over an hour now, and I still want to hit the sofa for more.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Different Kind of Day

The first Nasturtium about to blossom!  Love those things, hope these are the vining kind that they are supposed to be.  I want to see them trailing along the ground, a'la Monet's Garden.

This has been an interesting day of rearranging priorities and finding things to fill the day other than using my hands.  Rearranging priorities, because it has become all too obvious that I am just not going to be able to do many of the things I wanted to do, such as painstakingly rebuild every window in this house back to theoriginal state.  It's just too hard.  I have no choice but to finish -- one way or another -- the one I've begun, but beyond that I'm just going to have to take stop-gap measures.  And that's OK.

My hands are swollen and sore, probably arthritis, from using the scraper these past few days.  I've had this syndrome before -- years ago in Eugene when I landed a 'dream job' of candymaker at Eugene's incredibly luscious Euphoria Chocolates.  I lasted 2 or 3 days before my hands swelled up to the point I literally could not move them out of a bent position.  Couldn't straighten them out, couldn't squeeze any harder.  Doc said the only cure was rest, so that's what I'm doing now.  Resting the hands and re-evaluating.  Aside from the hands and energy, there is also only so much money to be spent.

I have decided that the two most important things around here are getting the house healthy (attic ventilation, moisture control in the crawlspace, missing insulation, primer on the bad spots of the siding, etc.), and getting more food production (fruit trees, chickens, more veggie beds).  Half of the attic ventilation is done -- the front gable vent -- and we are awaiting a stretch of days when no rain is forecast and when James has the time, to cut a hole in the roof and install the big turbine.  I have a pest control company from Rockmart coming Tuesday to see about the moisture control and possibly getting rid of these wood mites or whatever they are with some Tim-bor dust, or something.  The rain garden is very much a part of these priorities, because I really need to keep the water away from the building. 

Funny how much easier it is to put paint ON the siding than it is to get it OFF the siding!  It's not a perfect job, but my hands won't allow perfect.  I'm just buying some time until I can get the entire job done by a professional.  Looks much better, methinks. Not sure when I can tackle another spot.

I guess this falls into the 'nice problem to have' category, but my tomato plants have grown taller than their support sticks.  They're still sturdy at the moment, but I think I need to get some longer sticks. I sprayed the veggies, blueberries and dogwoods with a concoction called Garrett Juice this morning, as a foliar feeding.  Haven't tried spraying before but I must say that a gallon of the stuff goes a lot farther in the sprayer than it does as a soil drench. It's a combination of compost tea (steeped from used coffee grounds, in my case), water, molasses, natural apple cider vinegar with the mother, hydrolized fish and this time, orange oil as a mild insecticide along with the nutrients.
The beginnings of my rain garden.  Oh, c'mon now, you can't see it?  Where is your imagination?  It's actually made a decent temporary solution, although I'm not sure it would work with another gullywasher like we had a few days back.  One step at a time.  Gotta design and plan before I can dig more.

Another temporary solution -- keeps the critters out of the crawlspace but lifts the access door for better air-flow, which the pest control man said was the best solution to the problem. I've had in mind building a little frame with wire on it, but since I don't have a saw that's really unlikely to happen, and this works.

So that's the photo-journey around Kitty's Place for today.  This morning, I drove to Rockmart to find Carlton Farms and get some raw milk and eggs from pastured hens.  It's illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in this state, so it's labeled as pet food and most of it is sold in and around Atlanta.  Nice, old family dairy that's moved over to the natural side of things, and that is really great to see.  They have 600-700 hens who freely roam about 8 acres of pasture, shared with a few calves and a couple of small donkeys to keep hawks away.  Nice place, nice folks.  I'm guessing this will become a weekly journey for me, and it's only about a 15 minute drive.