Sunday, August 31, 2008

Where Y'all Are - Update

200 AM EDT SUN AUG 31 2008


The message from my brother I posted yesterday
was one he sent Friday night.

Last night he sent this one:

Ok, dis ding aint goin nowhere.
I ges we gotta go hed fer da hills.
We will board up tomorree and den git on da rode.
We plan to hed NR, to stay with frends ther.
We be gonna drop R in BR with
K at his apertmnt.
dem boys gonna have fun, yah.
Or get blowd away. Either one, I dunno.
Fishing poles an bikes stay home.
Saws, gloves, hammers and rain gear get to go.
Dis aint gonna be a picnic. No potata salid.
But maybe a lot a hot dogs, for many days.
Love to all.

I guess he didn't think he needed to translate this one.

There are a lot of people in harm's way.

Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


An email from my New Orleans brother,
a veteran of past hurricane evacuations,
"Where y'all are?"

We doan no yet, cher. Dat ol hurry-cane
aint made up her mind, no.
We been gettin to thinkin on it, yea,
but it aint yet sure what we be doin,
no. When we gonna no, we be da firs ta
tell ya, okay?

Translation: the storm has a lot of
uncertainty still. We have ideas and
plans in place if and when we need
to execute.

We've got 3 boats, lots of bait, plenty
fishing rods, a generator, lotsa
frozen fish to fry on propane fryer.
It could be like staying at the
fishing camp, right?
Hey Meg, we got any tater tots and ketchup
to go with the fried trout?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Part of our process of planning a green house is to find good, used materials that would otherwise be headed for a dumpster.

The first room we tackled - newest oak floor, put in with nail gun nails.
First we had to remove the carpeting, of course.
Since we hadn't thought to bring kneeling pads,
pieces of the carpet worked well for that.

My friend Ginny and her daughter came with me to a teardown auction on a Saturday in mid-May to see some oak floors that were being auctioned. (It was Ginny's idea.) I won three rooms' worth at 50 cents a square foot. Which was the beginning of a much bigger undertaking than I had imagined.

My friend Ginny removing baseboards to get at the edge of the flooring.

We worked all that day pulling out oak flooring and by the end of the day had gotten only one room and about 20 percent of another completed. And by completed, I mean the boards pulled up, carried out of the house several boards at a time, loaded into our cars, and taken home to my garage in multiple trips. But not the nails removed or the debris in the tongue and grooves cleaned up.

One of the rooms with older oak flooring (probably 1920's), mostly completed.

But my friend, who has energy and determination like you wouldn't believe, was back on site early the next morning working on her own. I showed up mid-day and we continued work for the rest of the day, but still had not finished the third room. She and her daughter went back the next weekend and finished pulling up the flooring and removing it, and now my garage and her garage are full of oak flooring.

Some of the older flooring.

She has been very diligent about putting in some hours every week pulling nails out of what's in her garage. And she gets even more kudos, because she has a one car garage, and so her car has had to live outside for the last few months.

Some of the newer oak flooring.

I, on the other hand, kept putting off starting work on what's in my garage. We have a two car garage with just one car, so it hasn't been much of a sacrifice to have that space taken up by a big pile of boards with nails.

G came out and helped for a while, cleaning the tongue and grooves.

I finally started work a couple of weeks ago. Now that I've gotten into it, it's not so bad.

A board ready for treatment.

Step one: Pound nails back out the way they went in. Try not to bend them or it makes it more difficult.

Nail pounded partway out - ready to pull out with claw hammer.

Step two: Pull nails to remove.

Nice collection, don't you think? I'm keeping them in a cut down plastic milk carton.
My neighbor asked me what I was doing.
"Removing nails from old oak flooring, " said I.
Said he, "Oh, you don't need to go to all that trouble.
I've got a whole box of new nails if you want."

Everybody's a comedian.

Step three: Wire brush and/or scrape both edges of the flooring to remove old dirt.

Wire brush/scraper, which G found for me in his collection of tools.

One of the newer pieces of flooring with a nail-gun nail.
This adds an extra step,
as the L-shaped head on this flat nail
has to be turned with a pair of pliers
so that the claw hammer can grip it to pull out.

Step four: Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Liberty Garden

It was an absolutely beautiful day Sunday - low humidity, not too hot. A good time to show you how the Liberty Garden is faring.

Guided by Angie (but she is not responsible for my casual attitude to this project!), I planted a vegetable garden for the first time this year.

She was right - the Rainbow Swiss Chard is very reliable.

And the tomatoes are doing well - but I haven't picked one yet. I think it's about time.

And a bell pepper! Isn't that amazing! So cute.

There is so much foliage on the carrots that I just stuck the camera down through the greenery to take this picture. When I loaded the pictures onto the computer to take a closer look, I had to laugh out loud at this one. It looks like the carrots are huge, but I don't think they are. But I'm not positive. Maybe it's time to pick some of those, too. It's been a while.

And the arugula and radishes were great while they lasted. The spinach bolted before I got around to picking any. The butternut squash either never sprouted, or the birds got them.

As I said, don't hold Angie responsible for my lackadaisical attitude.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What's in bloom

When I look around the garden, there are a lot of bare patches.

Clematis jackmanii

The big, showy displays of yarrow, bee balm, day lily,
clematis, and rose mallow
are mere whispers of their earlier selves,

if they are even still speaking.

I've still got one that will knock your eye out...
Rudbeckia hirta
Black-eyed Susan

But there are some more subtle spots to enjoy.

Japanese windflower
Anemone hupehensis var. japonia

The anemone is just starting to bloom,

Physostegia virginiana

as is the obedient plant.

Nepeta x faassenii

Catmint, while not as thickly flowered as earlier in the season,
is still satisfying.

Aster divaricatus
I like the contrast of the wood aster's tiny white flowers
with its dark stems.

And, I'm anticipating these:

Clematis terniflora
Sweet Autumn clematis (two flowers have just opened)


Caryopteris x clandonensis
Blue spirea (this will be its first year of bloom)

Saturday, August 23, 2008


In June, G and I stayed in the bedroom on the Lower Level
("We are not calling it The Basement," said my dad)
of my parents' summer cottage
during a bed-and-breakfast church fundraiser weekend,
as the upstairs bedrooms were filled by our paying guests.

We awoke the first morning to this sight in the window well.

Don't they look like two guys just hanging out?
I love that casual arm on the friend's shoulder - um, neck - er, head.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Picky Eater

Quincy's still not eating as heartily as we would like.

But at least I'm not having to force feed him.

If I just leave the kibbles in his dish,
he might eat about 25% of what he needs to keep his weight steady.

But if I sit with him and offer the kibbles in my hand,
he shows a little interest. At first, just a sniff.

Then, a tentative nibble of one morsel - after which it's dropped on the floor.
(What, that one's not good enough?)

If I'm patient, he will start nosing into my hand and eating the kibbles.
I have to remind myself
if this is what it takes to get him back to a normal appetite,
I might as well enjoy it.

So I try to appreciate the feel of his nuzzling and the sight of his sweet face.

This attitude only works if I'm not late for an appointment.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bulking up

Last year, after seeing "An Inconvenient Truth"
and reading "Animal Vegetable Miracle,"
I reconsidered our breakfast options.

We were eating oatmeal most mornings.
And I was buying endless containers of it.
When I found a shop that carried oatmeal in bulk bins, it hit me:
Buy a 50 lb bag*!

Just under a year later,
I have emptied my storage containers.
Time to restock.

*I don't think I would have reached this conclusion
were it not for "
The Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


My dad took this picture of us at my parents' cottage in mid-June,
when the heavy rains had raised the lake level so high
that the pier began to float
(which is why we're sitting on the lawn).

This spot is my idea of heaven - even when the water is high.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Special Project

Lisa advising my mom and sister

We have a special project in process at my parents' summer cottage: to add some garden areas to a swale that channels the rain water that traverses their property. The gardens will increase the amount of water that stays on site, filtering it to improve the water quality and keeping some of the runoff from the lake.

Purple Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

The environmental specialist, Lisa, came over Saturday morning to advise us on what our options are, and we've decided to put two gardens in the swale: one in a sunnier area and one in a shadier area so that we can have two different mixes of plants.

Lavender Hyssop
Agastache foeniculum

There are so many different native plants that are available, and it was so much fun listening to the enthusiasm and knowledge that Lisa has. Her specialty is shoreline and water management, so she is the perfect person to advise us on this project.

Red Milkweed
Asclepias incarnata

We have several interim steps to do before we plant, and our planting date is the second weekend in October, when one of my sisters will be in town for the weekend.

Nodding Pink Onion
Allium cernuum

We all love gardening, and this is a new area for us.

We are really excited.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dominoes, Schmominoes

We play Dominoes most mornings,
because it's good brain training
and because we tease each other and laugh a lot during the games
which is also good for the brain.

Today's bad news: G led with a double three,
and I had no threes in my hand.
It took nine more draws before I got a tile I could play.
Needless to say, I lost the game.

Today's good news: the winner has to count the loser's points.
So G had to count a lot of tiles to come up with his total for the win
(50 - not the worst score I've had)
which is also good brain training.

And you know I'm grateful for every event that bolsters his self esteem.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quincy's Adventure

I live with a man who has memory loss.

Yet I'm the one who forgot to let Quincy back in on Saturday night.

And who didn't even realize he was missing
until the phone rang at 11:30 p.m.
and the man said, "I'm going to connect you
with the person who found your dog Quincy."

How could this be?
Quincy was upstairs sleeping with G.
Wasn't he?

Evidently not.
I had let Quincy out,
gotten distracted,
and since he didn't bark to come back in
(which he always does),
forgot all about him.

And because his eyesight isn't good anymore,
he must have gotten disoriented in the dark
and kept wandering until he was half a block away
and a kind young woman saw him,
stopped her car,
and picked him up.

She called the number on his tag
(thankfully he's microchipped)
to get in touch with us.

It took her 30 minutes
to get through to the Home Again people.
Thank goodness she was persistent.

I cringe every time I think about this.
And am very thankful that there are nice people out there.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Amy!

Today is my younger sister's birthday.
She's the littlest one in the group
and was celebrating her first Christmas in this picture.

She is smart and funny and beautiful and caring and talented.

And I'm very glad to have her as my sister.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Anatomy of a Kitchen

Smallbone pine cabinets from a 19x25 foot space.

My good friend Ginny (she spells her name funny but I try not to hold that against her)
and I went to an auction of things removed from a house that was being remodeled.
It was a very big house.

Two of the many bathroom vanities for auction.
Or you could buy a built-in ironing board.

Everything had been removed professionally and was waiting in a warehouse in the city for people to come bid.

There were ten bathrooms.

Part of the wine racks from the wine cellar.

Because we are planning a new home, and because I am trying to be green about it, buying salvaged materials is a good plan.

The dynamo in the dress is the owner of the business that orchestrates the auctions.

The really nice thing about today's auction is all the removal work was done already. Most of the auctions this woman holds are at houses about to be torn down, and if you win the bid, you break out your tools and start deconstructing to get your stuff out.

Granite island counter top, 51x91 inches

My friend did a lot of salvaging some years ago to do some major remodeling of her home. She got all her doors, all her kitchen cabinets (from multiple tear-downs, which luckily matched), and most of her baseboards. Because she is the expert, I call on her to advise me.

Undercounter sinks

Today, I bought (won) two Kohler undercounter sinks ($25 each) for the bathrooms and enough black granite for 30 inches on each side of the range in the new kitchen ($75). The kitchen designer, who I consulted before the auction, suggested this plan, and said I could use another color/material for the rest of the countertops in the kitchen. Evidently the trend is to use different surfaces and even different cabinets in the kitchen.

P.S. We had a great time last night, but I completely forgot to take any pictures.