Wednesday, May 31, 2006

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Table image, from catalog... Nice, eh?

It finally came!

I have been looking for about six months for a table to go under the entryway mirror. Problem was with dimensions: Couldn't be any deeper than 12 inches or wider than 25 inches. Finally found one at Bombay online. Ordered it on May 24th. And, it came today!!!

Screwed the three legs on, put it in place and tried to take pictures of it. But, they don't do it justice (either too much flash or not enough). But trust me, it looks GREAT!!!

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Entryway table, with the flash washing out colors...

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Entryway table

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First photo of reflecting pool

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New, ever-bearing strawberries, courtesy of my Mom

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New planter, in context

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New planter

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Closeup of new planter

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Despite the imminent threat...

... of thunderstorms all afternoon, not one drop fell on my yard yesterday. This being the third or fourth day with temps over 90 degrees F, everything was starting to droop. Worse yet, some of the newest grass was beginning to turn brown.

So, I grabbed my trusty hose and began to water EVERYTHING growing in a garden or that I had planted this year (including the spots with grass seed).

Once again, that hose on the fence idea worked flawlessly, but it still took me over three hours! Finished at almost 9:00 PM.

Ate some barbecued chicken and sweet corn, and went to bed.

It's 5:37 AM now, and still no rain...

Memorial Day

Today was a day of little chores and a little relaxation. Before it got too hot (and it did get too hot!) I watered the front gardens and the grass growing over the old pine tree site. I sprayed the driveway with an herbicide (some grass was starting to take root).

I weedwacked the edge of the lot next door about 1/3 down (ran out of string). Then I applied herbicide to it as well, about 1/4 of the way down (ran out of spray). I also installed the chicken wire back on the wall for the morning glories to climb on.

I had parboiled some chicken breasts yesterday, but never did anything else with them, so I decided to barbecue them. I also had some hamburger left from Friday night, so I thawed out another pound to go with that (you see how these things snowball?) Then I thought I really would need some sweet corn, so went to Farmer Jacks. While I was there, picked up some Portobello mushroom caps, then I saw a great deal on pork ribs (probably had too much left over from this weekend) so I bought those as well.

I thought about calling Jake and Carla (because now there would be an embarrassing abundance of food) but didn't because they'd been here for almost three days and (even more importantly) I wasn't too sure how the ribs would turn out (having never made them before).

I used a dry rub and then a mop while they cooked over indirect heat (with some wet hickory wood chips every now and then for smoke). Also grilled three Portobello mushroom caps as a light lunch item. When the mushrooms were done, I covered them with a mixture of diced tomato, mozzarrella cheese, garlic and olive oil, Very tasty!

After three hours, pulled the ribs off and into the oven to stay warm. Next came the chicken with barbecue sauce, the hamburgers and finally the sweet corn. Most of it went into the fridge for leftover meals, but I did have some ribs and two sweet corn for dinner. Not the best ribs I've ever had, (okay, I admit it, Jake's were better!) but not bad, either. Pretty good for a "first try."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

BTW...

... I threw my camera in my suitcase as an afterthought, but never used it...

Good times...

My friend Tracey had invited me to a family and friends gathering for Memorial Day Weekend up in West Branch (also to meet her Aunt Toni). Feeling the need for a road trip, I agreed.

Left just after noon on Saturday, took me over three hours to drive there, but finally got to the motel and checked in. Tracey came shortly after to drive me to the event, after picking up her Aunt Toni.

It was a beautiful home in the middle of the woods, very gracious host and hostess, relatives, kids and friends everywhere. Outstanding grilled steaks, a pasta salad and a crab salad and baked potatoes. We have some very, very, ah, different conversations, LOL! And, Aunt Toni is a lovely, interesting woman who I would very much like to see again.

Thanks, Trace!

Got home about noon, and found Jake and Carla, working in my garage...

As you may have guessed...

... from the last two posts, I was not here yesterday. So, apparently, Jake and Carla came over to do some necessary outside tasks and spend the night. Which I appreciated, for two reasons.

First, before I left Saturday afternoon, I had blown all the maple seeds off both patios, the picnic table slab and the boat slab and the front porch and driveway, all the way out to the road. Then I sprayed all the areas for ants. HOWEVER, there were still a bunch of maple seeds up on the roof and in the gutters. So, I anticipated I'd have to do it all over again whenever we had a good strong wind. But, since they went up on the roof and swept it, and then cleaned the gutters, that problem was solved.

Secondly, I was uneasy about leaving the house overnight. Don't ask me why (after all, I left it for five days just a bit ago). But, it did ease my mind a bit (except when I was pulling in off Plymouth Road and saw the garage door opened. I panicked, thinking I'd somehow left it open overnight, but it was just Jake rotating his tires.)to know they were here.

Did I mention Carla watered all my plant containers?

Thanks, guys!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The General Rides Again

Captain C & J reporting from the K Compound.

In an attempt to lure The General & Mrs. Pennyworth (the ducks) back to the pond, we scattered qwackers around the bird feeder. It seems to have worked as both made their appearance shortly after 6:00 PM. Their dinner was immediately followed by a short soak in the pond. This would have been photographed had Captain J remembered to take his camera or Captain K had thought to leave his.

What is he doing with it, anyway? Hmm...

In the Gutter Takes on a Whole New Meaning

Captain C & J here.

Captain J: When we heard that the K Fortress was going to be unguarded for the evening we rushed over to protect it!

Captain C: And you know what they say, while the cat's away...

Captain J: Too soon, man. Too soon.

Captain C: Too soon for what?

Captain J: Mouse is dead, man. We have to let him rest.

Captain C: What does this have to do with Mouse?

Captain J: Isn't that how the saying goes?

Captain C: Umm... no.

Captain J: Oh. Geez, I feel kind of silly now. My bad.

Captain C: Anyway, while the cat's away...

Captain J: The mice will clean gutters!

Captain C: You know that's really sad.

Captain J: What?

Captain C: 10 years ago had someone left you a house for the weekend what would you have done?

Captain J: You know they archive everything that's posted on the Internet. I don't think I should comment on that.

Captain C: Regardless, someone leaves you a house for the weekend today and you sneak over and clean their gutters? How sad is that?

Captain J: Excuse me but I think I saw you on the roof too.

Captain C: I was just trying to get a view of how you see the world.

Captain J: Ahh, because I'm tall!

Captain C: No, because you're always looking down on people.

Captain J: Why, I oughta...! One of these days, Captain C!

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Final shot of new color - I REALLY like it!
And, it's not PINK!!!

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Yet another view of the new color

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First photos of new color

Memorial Day Weekend, Grillin' and Chillin'

We did the Memorial Day Weekend Grilling at my house last night. We had decided to do this around noon yesterday, and everything necessary was frozen, but Carla came to the house and thawed stuff out. She also made a Fried Potato Salad, that was outstanding. I'll post the recipe when I have more time.

So, along with the potato salad, we had hot dogs, nicely seasoned big hamburgers (cooked just the way I like them) on onion rolls and grilled shrimp.

Jake was in charge of all things on and about the grill (except for the shrimp, which Carla did), Carla made up the hamburger patties and I put together the shrimp.

I had some nice big shrimp (maybe two pounds) that I shelled and took off the tails. Then I put them in a marinade of olive oil, tarragon white wine vinegar, coarse black pepper and red pepper flakes for a few minutes. Then I put them on wood skewers that Carla had soaked in water, and they waited for their turn on the grill.

Carla put them on, one minute per side. When she flipped them, she also put on two lemons (cut in half and cut side down. Not only attractive on the platter, but helps to release the juice). Excellent!

Other highlights of the night: The ducks are still here (so much for "seeking shelter from the storm"). Jake went out with more bread, but they waddled away again, only to return later and woof it down. BTW, I just checked this morning, and she's taking another bath, while he's on guard. This house is turning into a wildlife sanctuary...

Also, later, when Jake was checking out where they might be, he spied a cat, drinking from the pool and snapped it's picture (see photos).

All in all, a very satisfying evening and what a great way to start the weekend!

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Another visitor, drinking from my pool
photo by Jake

Friday, May 26, 2006

Last Night

I worked until 9:00 PM again last night. But this time it was just the house "stuff" I've been ignoring during the whole painting episode. Watered all the container gardens in front and dead-headed the ivy geraniums. Filled the squirrel feeder. Fooled around taking pictures of ducks, then settled into house cleaning.

Got the living room, bedroom and office swept and dusted. Washed the bedding and all my clothes. Then swept and washed the kitchen and downstairs floors.

Made an interesting dish for dinner, using just ingredients on hand. Sauted garlic and Portobello mushrooms, then added shrimp. Then I added thawed spinach (after squeezing out the water) and canned alfredo sauce, then poured it over al dente penne pasta.

Judgment? Not bad, but half as much spinach would have been better, I think.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

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"Hey, this ain't no spa! Everybody out of the pool!"

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Redford mallard ducks, saying, "Com'on feet, don't fail me now!"

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Mallard ducks, to the left of the chiminea.

Two Big Surprises (Cont.)

The second surprise was when I looked out the kitchen window and saw a male and female mallard duck, sleeping under the bird feeder. I tried to take a picture through the window (check out Photos) but it didn't look so good. So, I snuck around the house, but they saw me and took off! (Photo #2). Ah, ha! I thought!

Went and got a half a loaf of bread and went outside , ripping it up and throwing it at them. Wrongo! These weren't the "Lake Orion" ducks, who will eat the bread out of your hand if you let them. No, these were hard-core Redford ducks, trusting no one, and so they took off.

Later, after watering the front flowers, I checked out the bathroom window and the female was swimming in the reflecting pool, while the male stood guard. I quietly stood up on the toilet seat and took photo #3...

Two Big Surprises

I had two big surprises after work today...

Surprise #1 - Farmer Jack now carries Cowboy Charcoal (preferred by us barbecue connoisseurs) and hard to find except at Lowes. It is just natural charcoal, not "briquets" with all the nasty stuff on them.

Getting it together...

After pulling off the rest of the tape, I started to put the living room back together. My friend told me (a little late, I might add) that you are supposed to pull the tape off while the paint is drying. I really didn't know that. But, it explains why I had to cut the masking tape with a razor knife to get it loose!

Anyway, it took until 9:00 PM to move everything back, I still need to vacuum and dust, the oars and fishing lures still don't look "right" and so on, but I did get to sit in my living room for the first time in a l-o-n-g time!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Biting the Bullet...

Got a nice surprise when I came home yesterday. They graded the road (it was really, really bad!)

I bit the bullet and put on the second coat of paint in the living room and entry. I am just sick of not being able to sit in that room! So, I started at 5:30 PM. Had to use Jake's shop light to make sure I got EVERYTHING this time. Finished up just after 8:00 PM. Cleaned up the painting stuff, made a quick dinner, ate a pain pill and went directly to bed.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Monday Night

Jake called me after lunch (he'd stopped at my house to check out the paint). He asked what time I'd looked at the finished job. I said, "Oh, around 8:00 PM and it was still drying, why?" He said there was no way I could call the walls a dramatic mix of dark and light, because its only dark where I cut in (in the corners, around the picture hangers, wall plugs and switches, etc.). He said the only thing I could call it is a room that needs another coat of paint!

Sigh...

So, after work, I stopped and picked up all my prescriptions and went home to see for myself (after all, once you put the furniture back and hang up the pictures, you are looking at a whole lot less wall, right?) No, he was right... looks bad...

So, I grabbed my remaining paint can (it had the mix formula on top) and drove to Garden City (nearest Ace hardware store). Sounds far, but around here I go to different cities in a flash! (its 4 miles away, BTW) Paid more for this gallon than I did for the first two (but I got them on sale at Damman Hardware when they were going out of business). Turned around and got back home at 6:30 PM.

Decided it was too late to paint tonight (and I was too sore). So, I went out and planted the last flowers. Now I bought these impatiens last week at lunchtime (if you remember) at Clyde Smith's green house. For those of you who don't live around here, its an old family farm that now has 6 acres of greenhouses, many devoted to just one type of flower (say a greenhouse that just all kinds of marigolds, or yes, there was one that was just impatiens). So, got them all planted and grabbed a tag (I like to keep the tags in case I really like a flower, so I can buy it again next year) take a look at it and it says "Vinca" NOT "Impatiens"!!!

Why does that matter? Because Impatiens like partial sun to shade, and Vincas like full sun. Oh, well, it will be a true test of the actual level of sunshine the garden gets now that the big pine tree is gone, I guess.

Spent the rest of the evening (until it was dark) watering all of the last-sown grass seed, the plants in the rear garden (new hose setup worked GREAT!) Went inside and cleaned up. Started channel flipping and something on CBC caught my eye: "Red Green's Duct Tape Forever" Laughed until it was over and went to sleep.

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Iris in front (best its ever bloomed!)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Last transmission...

I took a break from painting and planted two four-foot Morning Glory beds along the back wall. One has the traditional Heavenly Blue, the other is called Milky Way (white flowers with thin red stripes). Still have to attach chicken wire to wall for them to climb on, but I have time.


Got the 150 foot hose to the back un-kinked (quite a job) and it's now attached with wire ties all along the fence about 8 inches up (so the weedwacker or lawnmower won't cut it). Now I have the ability to water things I plant in back without carrying buckets (my back will be happy).


Laid down for 1/2 hour, not a nap, but a needed back rest. At 2:30 PM, began again by rolling the door to start. Did not stop until it was done at 4:50 PM. All I can say is that I hope it looks a LOT better when it's dry. Color is perfect, but it looks all mottled... Actually, that's not descriptive enough... it looks like hell!

Of the two gallons of paint I started with, I have less than 1/2 gallon left and I'll probably need all that for the door, so a second coat is NOT an option.

Began clean up but I won't take off the masking tape until tomorrow. Took stock of me: my arms are sore, my back is totaled, I need a shower BADLY, both of my ankles are almost the size of my knees and it just dawned on me I haven't eaten anything today. But, I'm too beat to cook so I'll pull out one of my emergency frozen pizzas after my shower and call it good.

Hope you all had a better weekend than me...

Catching my breath and catching you up...

This is the big weekend to paint the living room (Sadly, I am looking forward to going back to work and resting up!)

I got all the masking tape up Friday night, then (wisely I think, because I knew what was coming) took the rest of the night off.

Ate a big breakfast (need fuel) on Saturday and started at 8:00 AM. Just cutting in the entry way and painting the steel front door took me to 11:00 AM. The door, BTW, looks like crap. I think it will take many, MANY coats to get the door right.

Stopped and went to Home Depot and got a rhododendron - "English Roseum" two tomato plants, three bags of potting soil and some other stuff. Stopped at PetSmart and bought 6 goldfish for the reflecting pool. Went to Farmer Jacks and bought a planter I saw and liked (plus, it was $10 cheaper than anything else I looked at.

Got home, planted the planter with a geranium in the middle, two asparagus ferns in the back and two tri-colored sweet potato vines in the front. I'll take a picture when the geranium blooms and its a bit more filled in.

Planted the rhododendron and the two tomato plants in the rear garden (those pictures are posted. BTW, they painted the wall Saturday morning. Now back is REALLY hurting (had three pain pills so far) so decided to take a nap before returning to painting. Laid down for a bit when Jake and Carla came in. We visited a bit then they went out on their scooters. I went back to painting.

By 10:15 PM I had everything cut in but the molding next to the ceiling. Gave up and went to bed.

Sunday, started again at 8:00. Had to use a 1 inch brush to do the molding without getting paint on the white coved ceiling. After looking at it in the light of day, I realized that the baseboard needed another coat, so laid down (can't kneel, remember?) and crawled around the perimeter again. It's noon, now. Debating what to do. If it needs two coats, it has to dry 4 hours in between, so really should start rolling, NOW. But, my arm and back are killing me, so I think doing some planting would be a good diversion...

I'll let you know how it turns out...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

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The rose that was in the lawn, now moved to the rear garden

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Two tomato plants (one "Big Boy" and one "Italian") and their cages, also put in rear garden.

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Rhododendron "English Roseum" put in rear garden (supposed to get 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide!)

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Jake's Patio Garden: Two coleus, two "White Christmas" caladiums and one "Pink Beauty" caladium

Talking to myself...

Early morning, John, frustrated, and talking to himself out loud: "Do I have to do everything around here myself?"

Pause

Chuckle

"Well, since you live alone, duh, yah!"

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Jake's map of the states he's visited...

Come on, people! Send in your maps!

Friday, May 19, 2006

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So, here's Jeremy's map... (I had one from Jake but it mysteriously disappeared)

Planting...

So, I forgot to mention that yesterday, I moved the rose that was in the lawn when I got here (I've kept a tomato cage around it since I moved it so I (or now the lawn service) wouldn't accidentally cut it down. I put it in the rear garden. But, for the first time, even though I marked the spot in my mind where it would be "framed," after transplanting (big root ball - must have been really old), when I went to check at the kitchen window, I couldn't see it! Damn! That's why I need spotters!

My friend B___ took today off (he has WAY too much to do at home... a long story) so I went to Clyde's Greenhouse to get the rest of the plants I needed. Should have went to lunch... I ended up spending $108.00 US ! Well, the water lily alone cost $35.00 (and it looks half dead!)

Needed three perennials to replace the Mexican Heather that died over the Winter. BTW, I mentioned this to Luanne (certified Virginia Master Gardener) and she said, "Oh they don't last over the Winter here, either."

So, why the f*ck are they sold as "perennials"??? "I'd call a plant that only lasts one season an "annual" wouldn't you?

Anyway, hemmed and hawed over the choices and finally decided on Lavender (just smelled so good). When I got off work tonight, I planted them where the Mexican Heather used to be.

Then I went back to the Jake's patio garden and planted the three Caladiums I bought (two White Christmas and one Pink Beauty). If the sun ever comes out again, I promise to take photos and post them (tomorrow??? Please!!!)

Now I have to go and finish taping the entry way and living room. One way or another, they are getting painted this weekend!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Maps and such...

Was on a site (flickr) looking at photos. I clicked on a guy's profile (he's Irish) and he had a map of all the countries he visited, which I thought was pretty cool. So, I searched under "countries visited map" and came up with a bunch of sites. Went to one and did countries I've been to. Not so impressive. Looks like I traveled extensively in Canada and the US, but barely shows Japan and Korea (my favorites to date!)

Then I found one with just US States. Much better. I could pick which states I've been in. I like it!

Check out the photos and you'll see what I mean... Or, better yet, go to http://douweosinga.com/projects/visitedstates and do the states you've been to and email the picture to me!

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And, states I've visited (a little bit better "representing" going on...)!

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Countries I've visited (not very impressive... sigh...)

Wednesday Evening

After a day filled with beautiful sunshine, it started raining the moment I left work...

Stopped at Farmer Jacks on the way home. Got some mushrooms and four ears of sweet corn (it's funny... last week it was 10 ears of sweet corn for $1.99. Today it was 4 ears of sweet corn for $2.00).

Went home, changed clothes, got my rake and headed back to the "wall". I tried to repair the disturbance caused by the block layers, as best as I could (there was some sort of concrete "slurry" left all along the new wall after they finished that I tried to cover up with the wood chips.)

Then, fired up the "barby" to heat up the leftover chops and grill the sweet corn. Meanwhile, inside, I made my mushroom, shallot and red wine sauce. Combined everything to have a very satisfying dinner. Watched some TV and went to sleep.

Quote

"People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us."

~Iris Murdoch

Random Thought

That "Spontaneous Combustion" stuff scares the cr*p out of me...

Random Thoughts...

(Part 1) Okay, as an accomplished "Blogger" this is what happens:

You have a day were NOTHING happens (hey, it happens to everybody, right?) But, you don't want to write that down. So, you come up with some "Interesting quote" or "Random thought" so that you sound like an interesting (maybe even "sensitive") person, rather than the boring person you really are...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tuesday Night

I was supposed to meet with a sales rep for gutters at 6:00 PM last night. I waited (without changing out of my dress clothes) until 7:30, but they never showed! I was ticked!!! While I was waiting, I took a couple of pictures of my new rear wall (it was up when I got home) to post and brought in a spray of lilacs (fantastic smell!) Scruffy immediately tried to eat the lilacs. Stupid cat!

I had bought another center cut pork loin on sale, so I cut it into one inch slices for boneless pork chops. Froze two packs of four and made the remaining 3 for dinner (at almost 8:00 PM - thanks, gutter company!) Microwaved two small baked potatoes to go with the chops. I topped the potatoes with butter, sour cream, fresh chives and crumbled bacon. I topped the chops with salt and pepper. Nice dinner.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

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I hope they paint it! Right now it looks like the Berlin Wall or something George W is gonna put between us and Mexico...

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The wall, back up!

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Scruffy, enticed by the smell, I'd guess, decided to eat the spray of lilac I brought in!

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Hummingbird feeder, from the outside.

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Hummingbird feeder, from the inside.

Hand blown?

LMAO...

Never mind...

Hummingbirds

If you remember, I talked about cutting down 6 branches on the maple tree on Sunday. Well, one of those branches held my old hummingbird feeder. Not that it mattered, as I've never seen a hummingbird here in Redford (although, you had to beat them off with a stick in St. Clair).

So, I picked up a nice hand-blown glass one on Sunday, and a plant hook on Monday. I installed it in the rain (of course) after work on Monday evening, near the kitchen window.

Looks nice...

Hope some come...

Monday, May 15, 2006

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Hmmm... Wonder what my computer thinks about me?

Sunday

Sunday, during a lull in the rain, I went out and cut 6 branches from the big maple. They blocked seeing the back of the yard. I also used the hose to wash the maple seeds off the patio (they were getting pretty thick!) Had to run out for some supplies, so got the fixings to make a meatloaf.

Sanded the living room wall and caulked the spaces between the wall and the floor boards. Then, of course, I had to deal with the dust! Vacuumed it up, then washed the floor. Letting it dry... (this is taking FOREVER!!!)

I'd thawed out a bag of chicken legs on Friday, so I knew I had to make them. So two of them became my lunch and the rest went in the fridge. Did the laundry and mopped all the floors - they really needed it! I've been tracking in junk from both the back and front, in spite of wiping my shoes off every time.

Began taping off molding, etc., in the front entry way. I want to paint the front door as well, so its going to be a little tricky! Gave up and made the meatloaf (I wasn't too fond of it, sad to say...) with mashed potatoes (those were good!) and green beans with carmelized onions and toasted almond slivers (also quite tasty). All in all, not a bad Sunday supper. Watched some TV and went to bed.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

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Herb Garden (Part 2) From left to right, two types of chives in front of Italian parsley and curly parsley, oregano, 6 plants of basil and the transplanted thyme.

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Herb garden (Part 1) From left to right, a Daylily, the turtle, Rosemary, dill, tarragon and the chimminea.

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The living room I have to live with, for a while...

Saturday

Well, to catch you all up... Yesterday morning went on an herb run before my 10:30 AM hair cut appointment. Went to a little green house on Ann Arbor Trail that I got my herbs last year (I like to help out the local folks). It was raining (nothing new there. It's been raining since Wednesday, and supposed to rain for the next 10 days. There's a big, rotating system on top of us that's not moving...) There was a big "Open" sign and three cars in the lot. But, I walked through all the greenhouses, shouting "hello" at the top of my lungs, with no response. Found what I needed, but no prices (or I would have just left the money and gone).

Gave up and raced to Clyde Smith's greenhouses. Finally found the herbs, and picked up what I needed. Raced won Newburgh to the freeway, got off at Inkster and just made the hair cutting appointment.

Got home and planted the herbs (in the rain).

Moved all the furniture into the middle of the living room and covered it all with drop cloths. Figured with the rain, I had run out of excuses to paint the living room. Decided to cut the shoe molding and the baseboard, so I can push the fireplace up tight against the wall (although my friend B___ says it's not noticeable, so why bother?) I should have listened to him...

Why? Because behind the baseboard molding were holes that had been filled with foam insulation. It took all the spackling compound I had to try and get it right. Then, of course, I had to let it dry...

Jake and Carla came by and Carla grilled the last two steaks from our meat purchase. Carla made oven roasted potatoes and heated up the last of the sweet corn. It was a nice evening, and helped me to stop being so stressed about the living room wall.

When good flowers go bad...

I saw some flowers on an FTD internet ad, a nice bouquet of orchids, in a tall, rose colored vase. So, I decided that, since I wouldn't be seeing my Mom on Mother's Day, the least I could do is send them to her.

Now, over the years (57 to be exact) I have sent a lot of flowers to people, near and far (congratulations, get-well-soon and/or sympathy: sorry he or she died). As I understood it, you call your local FTD florist, tell them I want to send bouquet such and such to, say, Florida. They, in turn, call Florida, and say, we got an order for you. Deliver the flowers to such and such, and here's your cut. And, its done.

So, My first glimmer than things had gone awry was when the FTD florist sent me an email with a tracking number... Hmmm... why do you need a tracking number, if its just some local guy just dropping off the flowers? Still, being an internet virgin, I checked it out. The package had been sent, but not delivered yet. Checked again at 4:00 PM and it said there was no answer, so they left them on the porch!

So, when I got home, I called my Mom, not wanting the deep rose vase and delicate orchids to be just sitting on her porch

What follows is a more or less accurate recreation of our conversation:

"Hello, Mom? It's John."

Pant, pant... "Hi" pant "John"

"Mom, what's the matter? You sound all out of breath!"

"Well, somebody left a huge carton on the porch, almost as wide as the doorway and taller than my walker, and I've been trying to open it."

"Oh, God, Mom, I'm sorry, that was probably me... Why are you having trouble opening a vase with orchids?"

Pant "Well, it came in a big, strong. construction cardboard box. I used a knife and finally a claw hammer to open it up." Pant..."But there is plastic wrap around everything. I've been using a serrated knife, but cannot get through the plastic wrapping to get it out. And, I am worried that the orchids will wilt before I can free them..."

I said, "Forget it, Mom! Let it go... I didn't mean to cause this much trouble over some stupid flowers. Let's call somebody close by to come over and help you."

She said, "No, as soon as my blood pressure and heart rate return to normal, I'll finish getting them out, or, I promise, I'll call the next door neighbor lady to help me!"

I reluctantly hung up. Mom called back in an hour or so, and told me she'd gotten through the plastic, hacking away, and found each of the orchids had their own watering tube in the crate, so, she was feeling foolish, worrying about the flowers.

I SO suck as a son...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Wasted days and wasted nights...

Not sure why, but Friday afternoon, I realized I was exhausted. Jake mentioned he and Carla might drop over for dinner, but I begged off.

When I got home, the only thing I did was to move the thyme in the patio garden (I have a plan! Wait a minute... Big deal! I always think I have a plan). Last year I put the Oregano and the Rosemary in the garden, after learning they were perennials (The Oregano came back, but the Rosemary didn't). However, they both did better than when I kept them in pots. So, this year, I'm planting all the herbs in the garden - NO pots.

I went in and called my Mom to see if she got her flowers (that's another whole story, I'll tell you later). Finally, still without eating dinner, I went to bed at 7:30 PM! Woke up around midnight, ate a bite and went back to sleep. Slept until 6:45 AM (looked at the clock and jumped out of bed in a panic, thinking I'd overslept and was late for work!)

Made a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs with fresh picked chives and went forth, in search of the day's adventures...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Rainy Days and Mondays...

Still raining off and on here in lovely Michigan and its supposed to be like this at least until next Wednesday (although I hear on the Weather Channel that up where Melissa and Dave live, its wet snow - yuck!). Kinda puts a damper on working a lot outdoors.

However, I did pick up some plants and more grass seed last night after work. Got all the bare spots in the grass sowed and raked, except for under the play structure. I have to power wash it and then coat it with some sort of sealer to protect it, and figured that activity would probably kill the new grass anyway.

I just realized that with last night's purchase, I have spent over $100 on grass seed this year!

Planted the tree box in the rain, then put a geranium with two fern-thingies behind it in each of the chair planters. Noticed some of the iris are blooming. Too wet to take pictures, though.

After I dried out a bit, made linguine with clam sauce for dinner and ate too much of it during my TV watching. And, that's me, up to date...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wednesday Shocker!

I had hope to beat the rain and get the rest of the grass seed down. So, I stopped at Murray's , but they were out. It was sprinkling when I came out so decided it would have to wait.

Jake had mentioned at work that he had gone to my house for lunch and, with the lawn fresh cut, how really nice it looked out the kitchen window. So, first thing I did when I got home was to look out the window and saw... the Farmer Jack parking lot! They had taken the whole damaged section of wall out!

Hurried back to see how badly they messed up my new garden, but not a cement block in sight. Took some pictures. I'm glad I didn't have to call about the wall, but wished they'd waiting until after all this rain we are supposed to get the next four or five days. Why? Because now they can't put up the new one right away, and having the whole rear end of my yard open makes me nervous. Security concern! Security concern!!

Since I couldn't put down more grass seed, I transplanted two daylilies to the rear garden. I had decided that since it's so far to walk to view, at first I would just put in plants and flowering trees that could be seen from the patio. In order to do that right, it seemed to me I would have to put them so they could be seen between the various tree trunks and play structure legs that are between the patio and the rear garden. "Frame" them, so to speak. I won't tell you all the things that my friend said when I mentioned "framing" the new additions, but "You sound like one of those gay landscapers on TV" was one of them!

Anyway, got that done, then took the pansies out of the chair planters and put them in the front garden. Sprinkling a little harder, so went inside. Talked to my Mom on the phone for a bit, then went to make some dinner.

Reheated the last two pork chops and leftover mashed potatoes. Had to use up the Portobello mushrooms, so I made a sauce for the chops. Minced two shallots and six cloves of garlic, then sauted them. Added the mushrooms with some salt and pepper and cooked them down. Added a cup of red wine and reduced it by half. Then stirred in a tablespoon of butter. Made me forget that these were leftovers!

When I got up this morning, I checked the rain gauge. I got 1 3/4 inches of rain overnight! Walked towards the back until I could see if my new hose was still hanging up (Security concern! Security concern!) It was...

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Again, hard to see, but second transplanted daylily, "framed" by two tree trunks (its just under the rear of that truck)

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A little hard to see, but this is the first transplanted daylily, "framed" by the legs of the play structure.

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Never seen before (and hopefully never again, lol) rear view of rear garden!

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And the wall comes tumblin' down...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Tuesday Night

I picked up some black wire ties on the way home for the "hose attached to the fence" project.

It was supposed to start raining a little last night, but then for the next four or five days. So, when I got home, I grabbed the rake and the bag of grass seed and went out back. Got most of the bare spots seeded and raked, but ran out of seed before everything was done.

I should have worked on the hose, but my back was killing me from the raking so I stopped. I made a nice quick dinner of grilled hot dogs and more of the sweet corn and quit for the night.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Monday moanin'

Took Monday as a vacation day to catch up and catch my breath! What a weekend!

So, first thing I did was trim the last 6 evergreens on the lot next to mine up like mine by the garage. Then I fired up the brush cutter and took out the little brush that remained. Then I took it back to Home Depot. While I was there, I got two 150 foot hoses (so I can get all the way back and reseed grass, plant trees, etc.), a hose hanger and some pansies.

When I got back, I attached the hose hanger to the 4 x 4 post at the corner of the compost heap. Then I unrolled enough hose to reach across the yard and hung it up. Then I stretched the remaining hose along the fence. I started to wire it to the fence, but ran out of wire (I figure if its wired to the fence, the lawn mower guy won't run it over).

Then I took my first break of the day. It was a BEAUTIFUL day, sunny and 72 degrees F.

Break over, I planted the pansies. I had put some in the chair planters, but since decided I don't like then there, so I'll move them to the front garden as well and get something else for the chairs. Also bought 4 hanging baskets of what is called Ivy Geraniums.

Now it was time to think about dinner. Ran over to Farmer Jacks and got 10 ears of sweet corn in the husks (for $1.99 on sale). Soaked the corn in a bucket of water. Fired up the grill, with the coals all on one side.

Remember on Saturday how I'd bought a slab of ribs? Well, Carla didn't like them (too bland if you ever had Jake's ribs) so I still had a half slab left. Put them on the indirect heat side and brushed them with "Sweet Baby Ray's" Hot and Spicy barbecue sauce. Put the corn over the coals. Kept basting the ribs, and turning the corn, until I had a nice char on the ribs. Pulled it off and chowed down! Excellent!

Took the rest of the night off...

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The chair planters make their first appearance of the season!

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Pansies and the new hanging plants, Ivy geraniums

Monday, May 8, 2006

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Next year's chiminea firewood.

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Last "after" shot...

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Another "after" shot

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Lot next door (after). Doesn't even look like the same spot, does it?

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Another lot next door (before)

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Lot next door (before)

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Big Pine Memorial Squirrel Feeder, rejuvenated...

Sunday night, catching up...

Actually, it's technically Monday morning...

Anyway, It was about 10:00 AM when Jake called, asking if I'd seen his email (I hadn't - I finished eating a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast and was just starting to sweep the floors, do another load of laundry, etc.) His idea was that it would help immensely to get more light in the back yard if I rented a brush trimmer and he would come over and clean up the lot next to me (The guy is a frustrated homeowner who lives in an apartment, I'm thinking).

But, okay, its not how I planned Sunday, but what the hell...

So, I went to Home Depot and rented a trimmer for the day ($44.00) that had (basically) a saw blade on the end of it. The people there said it would cut through a 1 1/2 inch tree (and I believed it!) While I was there, I picked up some pansies (purple and yellow). Got back home, got the trimmer out of the car (did I mention I almost cut the hell out of my leather seats with that bad boy?) and then went and got a can of gas.

Got home and planted the two chair containers (no pictures, yet) and then Jake and Carla showed up. Explained how the trimmer worked (they showed me at Home Depot) and turned him loose. I finished planting the rest of the pansies in the mail box garden (again, no pictures).

So, while he was whacking his way through the raspberries, trees, grapevines (the worst) and so on, I decided to cut down some branches on the maples. Got a couple of long branches and started a wood pile for the chiminea for next year. Used the extension ladder and the sawzall to let even more light into the back yard.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Carla decided to make lunch/dinner. She went out for ingredients and prepared a delicious pot of mussels, andoui sausage and kale.

We finally broke for dinner (which was great! I especially like the individual loaves of bread to mop up the sauce). I announced I was done for the day (and I was... the trips up and down the ladder really did my legs in) and was going to take a nap. So, they left (and left me with the leftovers!)

Just as I was heading for bed, Melissa called (third time today, she said). So, I talked with her a while (maybe an hour or so) ad then had a nice two hour nap.

Woke up feeling good! Watched TV and generally putzed around, Then I decided to write this down...

And, that's me, up to date!

Side bar

When the tree guy was over Friday night, he gave me this ratty old bird feeder (or something) that had hung on the pine tree. It was here when I moved in, all broken up, plastic had holes chewed in it (probably squirrels) and so on. I never knew what it was supposed to be, so I ignored it.

But, I got to thinking about it and decided it was a memorial for the now gone pine tree. So, in between everything else this weekend, I glued new sides on it, added two 1 x 2 stops, cut off the chewed plastic part, washed the plastic off and re-inserted it. When it was ready, I screwed it into the black walnut and filled it with peanuts I'd bought when grocery shopping.

The big pine memorial squirrel feeder is open for business (see photos).

Oh, by the way, with all the photos I've been posting, you need to go to the left and click on Open Archive "May" to enable you to see them all.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

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With all the excitement, forgot to mention the lilac is beginning to bloom

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The other "before" picture, past the gate.

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Remember this? The "before" picture with no grass.

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New grass, as promised