Saturday, June 30, 2012

Porch Rail Planter #1
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Porch Rail Planter #2
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Kitchen Window Box
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Over-planted herb garden
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Short Friday

I don’t mean that it was or felt like a short day. In fact Friday was just the opposite. It seemed very long (at least at work). And, for some reason, my legs hurt and I really needed the walker for a change.

Again it was hot and dry, although no where near as bad as Thursday. But, I’m not going to whine about it. Carla’s comment the other day got me thinking. I do watch the Weather Channel (as you know) and the areas in red for heat warnings for the next few days stretches almost across the whole country, now all the way to the East Coast with many, many places predicting highs well over 100 degrees F!

Michigan is on the northern edge of this and, while I can’t easily recall a recent time where its been so hot and so dry for so long, it could be a lot worst. Look at the recent wildfires in Colorado. I’ve seen the pictures: These weren’t some hunter’s cabin in the U.P., but streets and streets of homes in subdivisions, burnt to piles of ashes.

And sure, I complain about my grass burning up, a peony that’s doing poorly or the squirrels eating my bush bean seeds, but I’ve seen video’s of hundreds of acres of crops (even right here in Michigan) that are stunted, dying or dead. And good farm dirt, so dry its cracked as deep as the surface of some strange planet.

So, I may still mention it, but I’m gonna quit whining about it.

The only things I did after work was to pull off all the painters tape and paper off the two steps and put it in the trash. The molding looks pretty good and the color blends in well (which is what I was going for).

Then I watered two more areas of the back yard close to the house that looked pretty sad. I used the automatic sprinkler, so my involvement was merely setting things up, turning on the water, setting the timer and then going back out an hour later and doing it all over again.

Most of my back-back yard is in shade for most of the day so, except for a few areas, its not looking too bad. It’s just the front yard and the areas around the back two patios that look like straw.

I warmed up the rest of the sloppy joes and ate that on hot dog buns (left over from the company pot-luck). I got a call from my Brother Jim who was just checking up on how I was feeling. I watched an old favorite movie “Key Largo” with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall on PBS until 10:00 PM and then went to bed.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Thursday Follies

Thursday’s high topped out at 99 degrees F. in Detroit.

Today was the department picnic/potluck. I took in Swedish meatballs in my slow cooker (I was outside at 6:00 AM cutting fresh parsley and chives in my bathrobe).

Michelle and I ran up to Westborn market around 10:00 AM to pick up the meat: boneless skinless chicken breasts, ground sirloin and Dearborn brand hot dogs. There was lots of food and lots of food left. The only criticism I heard was that the burgers were too bland (nobody thought to bring salt or pepper so season them with. I wouldn’t know, because I had a chicken breast on a bun with mayo.

It was nice to see people I haven’t seen in quite a while (we are spread out amongst various buildings). In fact, one of the funny things that happened was that I walked up to Laurie and Taj (two women ERP programmers I used to sit near up in Building 73). We exchanged greetings and, kidding, I asked if they missed me. They smiled and said, “Of course! We miss you a lot!! But, you know who we really miss? Jake! He was so smart and could help us with anything we needed! Next time you see him or talk to him, will you tell him how much we miss him?” I mumbled “Sure” and slunk away...

The only downside was that it was so hot and we were in the museum garage (which is not air conditioned). Well, that and a too long-winded speech by the Director and her direct reports (that’s the first time we ever had that happen, but I think it was because she invited the Chief Operating Officer of the company to come and eat with us and he did). It was more political than we usually get at these functions.

We tried to unload some of the food on people in other buildings and were successful to a point. But I still took home two dinners worth of Swedish meatballs and a ton of grilled chicken breasts. I ate half the Swedish meatballs for my dinner after work (I deliberately didn’t eat any at lunch), put the other half in the fridge and froze the chicken breasts four to a package for later meals.

I carried buckets of water out to the back for the day lily, the two peonies (the one is getting even worse than the picture I last showed you) and the three roses. Then I hooked up the sprinkler and got the grass and gardens around my patio for an hour.

Inside, I sprayed a third, stinky coat on the stair molding (and that’s all I’m gonna do). When the hour was up, I shut off the water in the back and hand watered all the front container gardens.

Then I dragged the hose around the north side, over the gate and out to the front. I set it up and turned on the water. The timer went off, so I went out and shut off the water under the glare of the security lights. Yes, it was already dark (after 10:00 PM) and yet still hot and sticky outside.

I retrieved the hose and reeled up most of it. I left just enough so I could water another part of the burnt-up grass tomorrow night. Finally, I went to bed.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Humping it on Hump Day

Weather-wise, Wednesday was a repeat of Tuesday, only hotter (are you sensing a pattern here?)

I did run an errand at lunch, but this one wasn’t mission-critical. I’m just getting low on lump charcoal, so I went up to Gordon Food Service (GFS) and bought two 20-pound bags of it. Those are the “big” bags, as lump charcoal is pretty lightweight. I browsed a bit, remembering the good old days when I was more of a cook than a handyman.

The only other thing I bought was a box of powder-free latex gloves. They come in handy when handling raw chicken (or when either creating or processing a crime scene, but that’s another story).

When I got home after work, I did the mid-week wash while I watched the news. When the washer was finished, the clothes went in the dryer and I went in the back yard. I hooked up the square-head sprinkler and watered the vegetable garden for an hour.

The kitchen tile not only had marks from moving appliances and hutches, but glue from the old tiles that had wafted across the new, then picked up dust, dirt and/or cat hair. I’ve been ignoring it and putting it off for a while (concentrating on getting the tile down first) but today it was time to address the problem.

So, I got a rag and a container of mineral spirits and a bucket of hot water and Pine-Sol with a sponge. I opened the kitchen window all the way and turned on all the fans.

Then I washed nine tile squares at a time, first rubbing them with the mineral spirit rag and then the sponge and Pine-Sol mixture. It was a stinky mess and had to be done on hands and knees (never easy for me, but especially not now).

And, for some unknown reason, during this time, my next door neighbor starting setting off fireworks (I heard they are legal here in Michigan now). I know this because when the first “boom” rattled my windows, I got up and looked. Now, these were the rocket type that burst into colored patterns in the air.

What’s weird is that its not the 4th of July and its not dark out! I didn’t understand and didn’t ask. I was busy.

I finished the floor about 15 minutes after the timer went off, but the extra water won’t hurt the veggies. I went out and turned off the water, but didn’t bother with rolling up the hose.

I went back inside and cleaned up as best I could downstairs, repeatedly washing my hands and arms, so I could hang up my pants and shirts without making them smell like mineral spirits.

I walked across the damp floor, getting my socks wet, and carried the clothes to the bedroom. I watched TV until the floor was completely dry.

Then I shut off all the fans, closed the window and made a pound of ground chuck into sloppy joes. It was getting late and I was getting hungry.

I used sourdough bread instead of buns (not because I was being cool, but because that’s all I had) and ate two sandwiches for my dinner. I cleaned up that mess and put away the leftover sloppy joe mixture.

The last thing I did before retiring to my bed for the night was to get out the Wet-Jet and wash the entire kitchen floor again, trapping myself in the bedroom/bathroom area.

I fell asleep watching TV and didn’t wake up until 1:30 AM! I turned off the TV and the light and went to bed for real.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tuesday and stinkin’

Tuesday was warm (in the mid 80’s) and dry (imagine that!) I was almost late for work because I forgot to put the garbage out to the road Monday night and discovered that fact on my way in to work. But, I got it out and got to work by 8:00 AM.

Lunch was more errands. This time I went to Home Depot and got some appliance white paint (the stove paint had rubbed off after 10 years of being next to the trash can). Since the trash will now be in the closet, that should no longer be a problem. I also bought some almond spray paint (for the 3/4 round molding on the steps), some more AA batteries (I used my last in my camera this past weekend) and one Dahlia (one of the two I originally put in the porch rail planter died – I don’t know why).

I bought two hot dogs on the way out, topped them with yellow mustard and onions and ate them in the car before dropping my stuff off at the house. This time I remembered to grab the napkins.

When I got home after work, I opened the kitchen window a bit and turned the microwave over-the-stove fan on. Then I touched up the stove side with the spray paint. Whew! That stunk! It’s a Rust-oleum product, BTW.

I left the cats to deal with it while I planted the Dahlia. Then I went out back and watered the garden behind the house, the raised bed herb garden and the garden along the house up to and including the arbor. Then I turned off the water, took of the rain wand and stuck the hose end in the reflecting pool.

I turned the water back on 1/4 turn and went in the house, I set the timer for 30 minutes. Then I got to work taping off the molding I wanted to paint on the steps.

When that was done, I shook up the can and gave the molding a first, light coat. I let that dry for a while (you can either repaint within an hour or you have to wait 48 hours – I don’t want to wait two days!) This paint didn’t smell nearly as bad, but it still did smell.

When the timer went off, I turned off the water and reeled in the hose. Then I went back inside (for the night) and sprayed another, heavier coat on the molding. I opened up the downstairs bathroom window and the south window in the downstairs (my air conditioner was working its little butt off, but it doesn’t smell as bad).

I was hungry, but until that smell died down, I didn’t feel like making or eating anything. That finally happened (or I just got used to it) around 9:00 PM. It was a little late for making something, so I warmed up the last bratwurst and ate it on bread with mustard.

It was either all the sleep I got on Monday night or the coffee I drank tonight, but I stayed up until after the 11:00 PM news.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Painting the stair molding
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Monday, Monday

Monday morning was well, Monday morning. Back to work and all that stuff.

I made some calls after 9:00 AM. One was to a doctor who I never heard of who sent me a bill from January for $178.00. I told the lady this never showed up on all my many Blue Cross statements so she checked and then said they never turned it into Blue Cross. I told her to please do so and let me know what, if anything, I owe after they pay.

I called the furniture repair store to check on the rocker. They said it should be back in this week (I was beginning to wonder) and Jay would be in touch about dropping it off.

Speaking of wondering, I still haven’t heard about the cushion my seamstress was supposed to make me. I guess I’ll have to check on that as well.

I ran errands at lunch: First to PetSmart for some kitty litter and more cat food. Then to CVS. Before I went into CVS, I went into the Chinese take-out next to it and ordered some chicken fried rice. I paid for it, then went shopping at CVS. When I came out, I went back to the restaurant and picked up my lunch (well, I say lunch, but there was plenty left over for my dinner.

I left work at 5:00 PM and it was still sunny, but noticeably cooler than the last few days. None the less, I changed my shoes and then watered the container gardens. Sunday’s heat seemed to have taken its toll on them.

I did not do the raised bed vegetable or herb gardens, having just watered them on Sunday. I did pull the few weeds that I saw, though. I was done in time to watch the NBC Nightly News, while I changed my clothes and changed the thermostat from A/C to heat. This weather is getting ridiculous!

My back was still hurting from the weekend, so I didn’t do anything else tonight. I did heat up the rest of the fried rice and ate that for dinner. I watched a couple of taped shows waiting for one I wanted to see at 9:00 PM. Naturally, I fell asleep before it finished, but don’t worry, I was taping it too.

When I woke up at 11:15 PM, I put the bed down, shut off the TV and the lights and went to bed for real.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The tile is laid!
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The light at the end of the tunnel

Since I went to sleep so early, I woke up at 4:45 AM. I made a cup of coffee and finished the Blog entry. As I said, I saw I had a voicemail from my Brother Carl that I missed. Then I went through my usual Sunday morning routine.

I waited until 9:00 AM to call him. He just wanted to warn me about something on Facebook. Thanks! I certainly wasn’t “glad” he overdid himself yesterday, but I did understand, ‘cause so did I. That’s why I, too, was taking it slow today.

I started the second load of weekend laundry (all my work-work clothes plus my home-work shorts and tee) so I had to wait to take my shower for a bit. But, I finally got it.

I gave my daughter, Melissa, a call to thank her for her apothecary jar Father’s Day present. She did say it was a reproduction (but I kinda knew that, lol!) I had to hang up so my clothes wouldn’t wrinkle. Then I started the last load (my bathrobe, bath towel, hand towels, etc.)

Once I had my home work clothes back, I went back to finish the last of the tile (I honestly thought I would have been done yesterday). I need that air compressor and hose out of the back room!

My back was ready to quit at 2:00 PM, but I kept going until almost 3:30 PM, so I could get all the trim on and the air compressor back in the garage. I still have lots of caulking, painting floor stripping and floor sealing to do but all the back-breaking tile work was done! I took a picture of the last step and inside the closet before I put back the walk-off mat.

I took off my brace and took a long rest. I made dinner (for a change) early since it was Sunday and I was hungry. I made pierogies with sautéed onions and sour cream. They were excellent!

I talked with B___ who called to see how the tile job was coming. He congratulated me and then we both bemoaned the lack of rain and what it was doing to our yards.

I went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grout damaged by carpet removal
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Tile replacing carpet on stair riser
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Carpeting and molding removed from step
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My version of a long stair nose protector
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Working Man Blues

I woke up at 6:15 on Saturday. It’s supposed to be sunny, warm and (big surprise) no rain. So the first thing I did after throwing on some clothes was to go out back and turn the water on for the sprinkler I’d set up last night. Then I went back inside and had a cup of coffee.

I only ran the sprinkler for an hour. I’ve watered this area before and that gave me 1/4 of water. Then I put on the square head sprinkler and did the vegetable garden. When that hour was up, I moved the square head sprinkler to the last place I wanted to auto-water, just outside Jake’s patio (where I had that big maple removed). It’s another place where there’s not much shade and so it burned up. I set the time for another hour (my water bill is going to be frightening!)

When that timer went off, I put my brace on. I shut off the sprinkler and started carrying buckets of water to the back and yes, Jake had reminded me that I do have a hose zip-tied to the fence for watering way in the back, but this just seems easier, somehow. Plus, I can use the exercise in both my arms and legs.

While I was back there, I checked things out and saw that the honeysuckle was starting to grow back into the roses (or maybe I didn’t get it all like I thought). So, I got my gloves and anvil pruner and cleaned them out (scratched the hell out of my arms, though). I also saw that the raspberries I transplanted two years ago from the vacant lot next door were actually bearing fruit this year. I also noticed my on-going war with the kudzu was nowhere near over. Neither was my battle with the trash.

I took some pictures for you as well as one of the peonies. I can’t figure out why one is doing so much better than the other. They were the same size when I bought them and I planted them the same way (over-sized hole, filled in with Miracle-Gro fertilized garden soil and topped with mulch) and water them together. Hmmm...

I came in when the sun started getting hot. I saw it was noon already and I had indoor work to do, as you know. I took my brace off and had a cup of coffee for a break before moving on to the tile.

Rested up, I got to work. First order of business: painting the caulked cupboard. Since I had the paint out anyway, when I finished the cupboard, I did a second coat on the baseboard and 3/4 round molding behind the stove (Yes, I know no one will see it, but I also knew it needed it) and finally I touched up the pantry door where it had hit the trash basket for all these years. I opened the kitchen window so the smell wouldn’t bother the cats or me.

I put the top back on the paint can and wrote on the top “kitchen cabinets.” Why? Because I always assumed that I would recognize left over paint, but found it wasn’t that easy years later. I’ll do that to all the other paint cans if and when I use them. Then I washed the brush out really well and hung it up to dry (I had bought a good one for a change and didn’t want to throw it away, like I usually do).

Then it was onto the molding on the top step. First step (no pun intended) was to get the carpeting off. I managed to get a screwdriver under it on one side and pulled with pliers. Thank God they didn’t glue it on, they just attached it with a LOT of staples. Some came off with the carpeting, the rest I pulled out with a pair of needle-nose pliers.

I heard the air conditioner kick on (I had it set at 80, BTW) so I closed the kitchen window.

Next I had to remove the molding from the side of the second step. I cut the paint with the razor knife and pried it off. I took a photo for you at that point.

I cut the gold carpet seam strip to length and nailed it on the face, flush to the bottom. The I cut and added the stair edging. Unfortunately, it was not long enough to cover the nails in the carpet seam strip, as I’d hoped, but it doesn’t look too bad (see photo and remember, I had to get on my knees to take that shot).

Next I cut and installed the tile on the stair riser (where the carpeting used to be). My back and knee was really starting to hurt (remember, this was all bending and/or kneeling at that point), so I thought I’d better quit for a while. I checked the time and it was almost 4:00 PM! So, before I quit (deciding it was for the night, then) I pulled off the carpeting on the bottom step.

But, there was another, new problem. When they put down the ceramic tile in the downstairs, they grouted the carpet bottom in! I had to get and use the cold chisel and a hammer to bust out the carpeting (which did not improve the look of the grout at all!) I cleaned up the mess, took a pain pill and really did quit for the night (after checking all the garage lights were off and the doors were all locked).

I laid down on the bed with my brace off until I stopped throbbing – that took quite a while. Jake gave me a quick call to tell me that it was so hot down there that the “cold” water from the tap felt lukewarm, even after running it a while, at least to his Michigan-born fingers.

Then I went out and heated up some leftovers for dinner. I went back to bed to watch some TV but never made it past 9:00 PM before I fell asleep. Which is how, I learned Sunday morning, I missed a call from my Brother Carl at 9:30 PM Saturday night… Sorry – I’ll return your call at a more decent hour today.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Can't figure out why peony on the right isn't doing as well as the peony on the left!
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Ongoing battle with trash (and kudzu)
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Fruits of my labor #1 (notice the kudzu growing in it, dammit!)
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Fruits of my labor #2
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Some of my day lilies start to bloom (this one's way in the back)
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Finally Friday

It was supposed to be cooler and drier after the cold front that should have brought showers Thursday night (but didn’t) came through. But, it still felt hot and sticky all day (even though the highs were in the 80’s, not the 90’s)

I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond to pick up some more of that trail mix I like for my oatmeal breakfast and then ate lunch at Applebee’s.

Once home at 5:15 PM, I immediately noticed the cat barf (sigh) on the bed, so I washed all the bedding (one less chore to do later this weekend, I suppose).

Then I hand-watered the container gardens and begonias out in the front (but this time adding Miracle-Gro fertilizer to the water).

Out back I had poured some of the bleach mold cleaner I bought in a spray bottle. I did everything wrong (I found that out after I’d sprayed it on the siding where needed). You were supposed to dilute it and then spray it on damped siding. I used it full strength on dry siding – I guess reading the instructions first would have been preferable! But, be that as it may (and I’ll know better next time), it worked pretty good. I rinsed it off after five minutes and you can see the results in my before and after photos.

Since I had the hose all the way around the north side of the house anyway, I hooked up the sprinkler and watered the front grass for the first time this year. I set the timer for two hours (it was about 7:00 PM then), hoping to get a half inch of water on the poor parched lawn. It was a tad windy for this, but the house blocked most of it.

I went inside and when the dryer shut off, made up the bed. I relaxed for a bit, posting in the pictures, doing the ToDo list and so on. Then I warmed up two bratwurst and ate them on buns with the deli mustard.

When the timer went off, I shut off the spigot and moved the sprinkler from the front of the house to the back, I put it in the right position for watering in the morning and then rolled in all the excess hose. I had everything buttoned up by 9:30 PM.

I took the rest of the night off, watching a little TV and then going to bed before 11:00 PM. I did notice during a bathroom trip that my old friends, the fireflies, are back.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Quote of the Day

"I was sweating like a hooker in church!"

~ A female co-worker regarding Thursday's heat
North wall mold - before
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North wall mold - after
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Patio mold - before
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Patio mold - after
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Road Trips and False Alarms for Storms

I woke up to the alarm even though I didn’t have to be at work this morning. I had to take 1/2 vacation day for a doctor’s appointment. However, I still have things to do before I leave for the doctor’s.

So, I went through my usual rituals and then left for the lab to get some blood drawn (this is for my visit to my primary care physician in a couple of weeks). On the way back home, I filled up the gas tank on the car for my road trip.

Not sure of the construction going on, I left an hour early. Apparently, all the construction I ran into last weekend was, well, weekend construction. Because I got there 30 minutes early! But, nobody was in the waiting room! The nurse said it was a “light” day for appointments. I sat there a while and they finally took pity on me and took me in 15 minutes early.

The doctor checked out my back and said it was healing good. He asked about rashes, fevers or night sweats (none of the above). I asked about going to the dentist to get my bridge replaced (ever since they said the infection was probably caused by getting my teeth cleaned, I’ve been worried about dentists). He said he didn’t think it would be invasive enough to be a problem.

I asked him what the chances were of the infection coming back or, worse yet, still being in me. He said that, after everything they removed during the surgery and all the antibiotics I had taken (to the point of killing off my good white blood cells) he didn’t think it was very likely at all. In fact, he said unless I get the original symptoms back (that rib pain that nobody, including me, took seriously) there was probably no reason for me to come back again. We shook hands and I left, feeling great!

I got back home and waited until 12:30 PM and then went to work. It was still brutally hot, but I left the windows up and the sunroof closed, because they kept saying there was a threat of severe thunderstorms in the afternoon.

And, it did get cloudy and actually started raining hard on my way home at 5:00 PM. But, it stopped before I even got home.

Even the weather radio was going off, warning of severe storms! But it was sunny and dry here. Damn!

I called Jake and we talked long enough for me to make him late for his niece’s birthday party (sorry).

I unhooked the sprinkler and rolled up the hose outside. Then I watered the peonies, the pot of petunias and filled the birdbath.

Back inside, I used the nail gun to put on the painted molding under the pantry and finish the stained molding I had left un-attached at the end by the doorway (so I could slip the last piece of tile under it).

Next, I needed to caulk around the doorway and/or take the tile off the step and closet but I didn’t feel like doing either of those things. So, I took the rest of the night off.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Still Steamy

According to the weatherman, today was a few degrees less hot than Tuesday, but you sure couldn’t tell it. There is a cold front, however, supposedly heading from Minnesota that will push the heat to the east (you guys can have it!) and may even bring us some much needed rain sometime on Thursday.

I left at lunchtime for Home Depot and found my gold carpet strips. I also picked up some more 3/4 round molding and a funnel. I stopped at a Taco Bell on the way back to work and got two hard shell tacos (with hot sauce) and a Burrito Supreme. I waited until I got back to work to eat though, not wanting to mess up the car.

I only took one turn around the parking lot at 3:00 PM instead of my usual two or three. Remember I’m not supposed to sit for too long, so it’s the old “take a walk or take a pain pill.” The short walk helped (I didn’t have to take a pain pill) but it was too hot with this brace on!

I drove home through the stifling air and was grateful that the air conditioner in both the car and the house were working (now if I just had a pool like Amy!)

I made a cup of coffee and started the mid-week wash. I watched the news while the washer worked.

When the washer was finished, I put the clothes in the dryer and then went outside. I hooked up the square sprinkler head and began to water the vegetable garden.

I went back inside and back to working on the few remaining tiles. These are the trickiest cuts yet as they have to go around the molding of the old doorway (I should have made that an archway when I first moved in!) I had to stop a few times (to hang up my shirts and pants and later to turn off the water outside), but I went right back to it. There was a lot of dry fitting and trial and error (mostly error!) But, by the time I stopped for the night, all the tile was laid on the main floor!

I still have to do the step and the little closet off of it, figure out the carpeting on the step risers, install molding, paint the caulking on the end of the cabinet, strip and seal the floor, etc., etc., etc. But, I was very, very pleased.

It was late, so I just warmed up two brats and ate them in buns with deli mustard. I watched a little TV until about 11:00 PM and then went to sleep.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Hot One!

It was a hot day on Tuesday. It was already 70 degrees F. when I woke up to the alarm clock, with the predicted high in the mid 90’s! And, it was supposed to be worse on Wednesday (which is the official start of summer, according to the calendar).

I wanted to find that extra-long gold metal stair tread nose I need, so I went to the Newburgh Grille at lunchtime, with Lowe’s being the next stop. I forgot for a moment which Coney Island I was at and ordered the gyro special with bean soup. The waitress pointed out that the special was a gyro and a mini-Greek salad. Since that was too much food for me (and I what I really wanted was the bean and ham soup) I picked another lunch special, a turkey sandwich on a croissant with a cup of soup.

I had finished the soup and was starting on the sandwich (which was very good, with warm turkey, melted cheese, lettuce and mayo) when I was joined by two of my co-workers, Michelle and Vicky. They took my walker out of the other side of the booth (which is where I always stash it to keep it out of everyone’s way) and sat down.

I apologized that I couldn’t stay through their lunch because I had to still go to Lowe’s. But, it was a nice change to have company at lunch for a little while, anyway. We all agreed to do it again sometime when I didn’t have errands to run.

My Lowe’s trip didn’t result in me finding what I needed, however. They only had the size I already bought. The salesman said that my original molding was an old size (hey, it’s an old house) and suggested I might find it online. I went back out into the heat and humidity (it was 91 degrees F. at 12:45 PM) and back to work.

I did get back in time to look around online, but couldn’t find what I needed. I did, however, have a brilliant idea (if it works): I will try and use the flat gold carpet strips (that you put between two rooms with different color or style carpets) to face the edge of the stairs and then my too-short tread nose to cover the tile and meet the carpet strip. I figure that, since it’s just two stairs, unless you were lying down on the floor, you’d never notice it. We’ll see...

I went out into a blast furnace at 5:00 PM (there was a definite wind, but even it was hot). Once home, I turned on the TV after treating the cats and the weatherman said we had tied the all-time record of 95 degrees today!

So, the first order of business was to water the container gardens in front. I not only watered them, but also the begonias planted in the front garden (which are doing poorly, especially when compared to the ones in the window box in back) and the one iris I moved when I got those other ones dug out for my Brother Carl.

I did fill up the window box out back, but decided not to water anything else with the sun beating on them (the front of the house is mostly in shade at this time of the day). I used my Velcro ties to direct one of the morning glories that sprouted towards the arbor and attached all the tomatoes to the bottom rung of the wooden trellis.

I went back inside and, since it was 6:30 PM, I watched the NBC Nightly News. Then I went and replaced six more tiles, cutting and fitting two of them. I had to stop then and start the charcoal for the grille.

Did I want to grill in this heat? No, but I have had a pack of brats and two thin-cut round steaks thawing in the fridge since Saturday and I figured I had to use them or lose them. While the coals were heating, I watered the back-of-the-house garden and the raised herb bed. Since its close to the grille, I like to get the cedar boards wet, just in case.

I seasoned the two thin round steaks (I haven’t got a plan on how to use them yet – I thought of cutting them into strips and putting them on tortillas with sautéed green peppers, onions and mushrooms) with just salt and pepper. The steaks and the brats were coming up to room temperature while the coals were getting hot.

Finally, everything was ready. I scraped and oiled the grate and put the brats on first (I figured they would take the longest to cook). When they were about half done, I moved them to the back and did each steak. I only grilled the steaks about two minutes on a side as they were only about 1/4 inch thick and I didn’t want them tough.

When both steaks were done, so were the brats, so I pulled everything off and took them in the house to rest while I cleaned up everything I used and moved the grate to the lowest setting (to burn off any stuck-on stuff).

I was going to have a brat, but the steaks smelled so good, I ate one of those instead. I had made a side salad, so it was a pretty filling and excellent dinner. When the rest of the meat was cool, I put the brats in one baggie and the steak in another and stuck them in the fridge.

It was almost 9:00 PM at that point, so I watched TV until after the 11:00 PM news and then went to sleep. It was still 80 degrees F. outside at that point, BTW.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Mailbox Garden in Bloom!
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Rainy Days, Mondays and Car Repairs Always Bring Me Down

Monday came (as it always does) and I got ready to go to work. I left a little early so I could drop off two more bags of old tile. But, before I left, I checked the left rear tire (it was low on Saturday so I filled it up before I went to the graduation party). Sure enough, it was low again! Damn!

Since the air compressor is in the house, the next best thing I could do was to drive to the corner gas station and pay 75 cents to put some air in it. Once I got to work, I called Belle Tire (just up the road) and asked if they could take a look at it. They said sure, so I drove it over there.

Since it’s been a long time since I had a tune up (which in today’s vehicles is basically just changing the spark plugs) I asked if they would do that as well, along with changing the oil. If you’re gonna go, go big, I always say!

He asked if there were any driveability issues, like the “Check Engine” light coming on. I told him about the chugging, but said I was pretty sure it was bad gasoline. But, he said they’d check that out too.

I can’t wait to see what this will cost me (oh, wait a minute, yes, I can!)

I walked back to work (although I had a lot of offers from co-workers to drive me back – it’s just not that far away) and it was a lovely day for a walk.

When I got back, I remembered to turn off the sound for the text message (I leave it on vibrate at work, but noisy at home so I don’t miss them). But, dammit, I did miss one yesterday from Carla, wishing me a Happy Father’s Day. I replied, but felt bad it was a day late.

Speaking of voicemail, (well, it was texting, I suppose), I forgot to tell you I did have a voicemail the other day from Bonnie, the minister’s wife, who left a nice message thanking me again for the lift chair. She said it was like a gift from God and is very helpful for taking care of her invalid mother. So, I felt good about giving it away, all over again.

Everything was going well until I got the call from Belle Tire. There was a nail in the tire (I knew it was something like that) the spark plugs were shot (Sure. That’s why there has been a set of them sitting in my garage for about, oh, a year now – I needed to buy the right socket for them but never got around to it). They changed the oil and the air filter like I’d asked but...

Did I know my front brake pads were close to grinding? (No) and that the rotors were worn too thin to be resurfaced and should be replaced? (Really? I thought I had new brakes put on a couple years ago!) And that the sway bar links in front were loose? (Nope, but can you just tighten them up for me?) Answer: Well, no, they both also have to be replaced as they are a “unit” and cannot be adjusted.

“What’s this gonna cost me?” I asked, feeling like my original, personal estimate of around $200 US was heading south. It did! They figured it will run right around $700.00. My only other question (once I could speak again) was, “Could it be done today?” and they assured me it could.

Now you see why I’m doing my own tile work! The first thing I did was to transfer money from my savings to beef up the small balance left in my checking account. Then, stuck without a car, I asked Vicky and Michelle to bring me back something to eat when they left for lunch (the three of us and my walker can’t all fit in a car). I was working around 12:30 PM when I noticed how dark it had gotten. Then the thunder and lightning started and the rain came down in buckets.

The women wisely stayed inside Subway (that’s where they decided to go today) and ate their food, waiting out the storm. But, they eventually came back with my foot-long BMT (half for my lunch and the other for my dinner). So, I ate the first half while I worked.

People’s families who called from various other locations reported it was not raining hard there, but I hoped it was in Redford! The rain had stopped by 3:30 PM, when the Belle Tire guy called and said the car was ready. So, I walked back down there (again with offers of a ride, but to be honest, it’s easier at this point in the construction to walk across Plymouth Road than to try and drive a car across it). They explained all they did and I gave them $699.36. They did proudly tell me they fixed the tire for free! (Gee! Thanks!) I drove back to work and then home at 5:00 PM. The car was running great, BTW.

Naturally, the first thing I did when I got home was to check the rain gauge. There was just over 1/4 inch of water in it. Certainly not as much as I would have hoped for, but that’s 1/2 inch in two days, so I was sure the lawn was grateful!

Then, I took the garbage can out to the road and, while I was out there, took a picture of the mail box garden for you. I do wish more varieties had sprouted, but it still looks pretty cool, I think.

I got Acenter’s (Carla’s Mother) Father’s Day card and present in the mail. The present was a pewter visor clip for the car that read: “Life is a journey, God is my guide; We travel safely together side by side.” I stuck it in the car – hey, it can’t hurt, right?

My back had been hurting all afternoon so, although I looked at the tile again, I didn’t do any work on it. The only after-work work I did was to wash the other side of the stove (so I could push it all the way in) and wash some of the kitchen floor (I had managed to nick my arm while lifting up the bed on Sunday and, without noticing, had dripped some blood on the new tile before I put a Band-Aid on it).

I called Carla’s Mother and left a voicemail, letting her know I got her package and thanking her for it. I watched the last of the Nightly News and then ate my sandwich. I took my pills (including a pain pill) and took the rest of the evening off.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day

I woke up way too early on Sunday. While I am thinking about it, I want to wish my Father, and all you Fathers out there, a “Happy Father’s Day!” It’s not as easy a job as some people would have you believe (and, kids like me didn’t make it any easier) but in the end its all worth it. At least, I hope it was for my Dad.

I dozed on and off until the news came on at 6:00 AM. The existing rain was either to our east (in Ontario) or west (in western Michigan) but they still said it would rain between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. So, I held off watering the front yard (not wanting to drag that hose all the way around the house if I can help it). [Note to self: Next project should be installing a water faucet in the front of the house!]

Since it was Father’s Day, I decided I wouldn’t start any work until 8:00 AM. So, I filled my pillbox (the normal Sunday ritual), drank coffee, ate breakfast and pills, drank more coffee, etc.

Finally it was 8:00 AM, so I plugged in the air compressor and fired it up. Scared the crap out of the cats! I guess it was while the air compressor was running that I missed a call from Lu, who wished me a Happy Father’s day on my voicemail. As usual, she didn’t ask me to call her back, so I didn’t.

I put in the 3/4 round molding behind the stove and broke out the masking tape. After stirring up the paint, I painted everything I could. I took off the tape after taking a picture for you and put the stove almost back in place (I left a little room so the paint could dry faster).

I had just washed up when I did hear and answer a call from Carla’s Mom, who also wished me a Happy Father’s Day. She said she had a wonderful time visiting Jake and Carla and that she had sent me a Father’s Day card that should get here Monday or Tuesday. I also got an email from Jyl, wishing me a Happy Father’s Day and promising me rain today (I want to believe her sooo bad!)

I posted the pictures I took behind the stove (while my hands were clean) and then Jake called with his Father’s Day wishes. After we hung up, I went back to the molding.

I was using the wand on the vacuum cleaner to go over the cracks between the tile and the wall before I nailed on each piece of molding to get rid of any dirt or cat hair. I was doing the stained molding first and, so far, I only had to adjust one cut a little bit.

BTW, it was 11:00 AM, 74 degrees outside and the sun just came out (dammit!) I got a text from Michelle at work, wishing me a Happy Father’s Day and telling me to enjoy the day. I sent her one back saying “Thanks! I’m working on the kitchen today, but it was a nice thought!”

I also got an email from Jeremy, who is apparently in Virginia, asking my plans for the day. I replied with working on the kitchen and wished him a Happy Father’s Day as well.

Then I went back to the molding, this time the painted stuff. Problem number one: The wood at the end of the counter (between the counter and the fridge) has decorative grooves cut into it. So, after I put on the molding, I caulked it so dirt, dust or cat hair wouldn’t get in there. I’ll have to wait to paint it though. I took a picture so you would understand (ignore the existing cat hair, I vacuumed it off later; oh yeah, and the molding in the front was not attached yet).

Finally, I was finished. And, by 1:00 PM, I had the hutch, table and fridge back in place (the stove was still pulled out a bit for paint drying purposes). I took a picture of the little bit that is still left to do. You may notice that the stair risers are covered with carpeting, which is yet another problem I will have to deal with. My plan is to pull off the carpeting (although I have no idea how it was installed) and replace it with tile. We’ll see...

Meanwhile, I was taking a break with my brace off, a cup of coffee and my bed raised up in back to watch some TV. My brother Jim called and thanked me for coming yesterday. I told him my one regret was not trying some of the fantastic-looking desserts. He said he was going back over there today and he would email me some.

I went to the bathroom at 1:30 PM and it was raining outside! Thanks, Jyl!! While I was resting, I got a text from Vicky at work, also wishing me a Happy Father’s Day. Bazinga back ya!

At 3:00 PM, I shaved and took my shower, after deciding I was done working for the day. It had stopped raining, so I walked out to check the gauge. There was only 1/4 inch of rain so far, but its still overcast and certainly better than what I had!

While I was out there, I noticed that the turtle was being obscured by the growing herbs. He’s always sat in that garden with the gargoyle next to the chives in the other herb garden. But, change is good, right? So, the gargoyle was reassigned to guard the thyme and rosemary and the turtle has more room standing next to the oregano. See photos.

Even though I said I was finished, I did one more thing. I was curious, so I took off the metal stair tread guards to see about that carpeting. It didn’t help any as the carpeting was attached way behind it. And, what’s worse, the gold stair tread guards I was finally able to find at Lowe’s are made to cover one inch. The silver ones I took off (bending the hell out of them) are made to cover 1 1/2 inches which is the actual measurement. (Sigh...)

Finally, I swept and vacuumed the house (except for the downstairs where the air compressor and 50 feet of hose was taking up too much room to maneuver).

At 4:30 PM, my daughter Amy finally called me to wish me a Happy Father’s Day. She had been trying all day but had the wrong number (we secretly suspect her sister gave that number to her, just to mess with her – you’d have to know Melissa to appreciate that, I guess). Melissa, BTW, is off camping with her family, both to celebrate Father's Day and their anniversary, which was Saturday.

In spite of the forecast for more showers, it was sunny and warm here now. I suppose God doesn’t want to mess with any Father’s who are having barbeques for dinner. After all, He is "God the Father," right?

Speaking of dinner, I made my Father’s Day French dip sandwich. I used two green onions instead of shallots, sautéed in butter, added beef broth and let everything get happy. Then I ran the little bit of roast beef I had left through it to warm it up and piled the beef on a hoagie bun. I poured the beef broth into a ramekin and dipped to my heart’s content. I could have used more beef and more salt and pepper, too, but it was very good.

I watched more TV after the news. It was getting off the bed for a bathroom run when the bed was raised up that I figured out how to put those non-skid pads (for rugs) under the wheels to stop the sliding. With the bed up, I could easily see all the wheels, so I cut out some big squares of the pad. I used that board I’d been weighing down the tiles with and pried up the bed just enough to slid the pads under each wheel. Bingo! Another problem solved!

For the first Sunday night, I stayed up long enough to watch Longmire when it aired at 10:00 PM rather than the taped version the next day. Then I went to bed at 11:00, content with my Father’s Day.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Melissa's Father's Day gift - amber apothecary bottle second from right
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Weird end of the cabinet, caulked (ignore the cat hair and the unfastened front piece of molding)
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The kitchen, getting back to normal
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All that's left #1
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All that's left #2
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