August 27, 2016
Bathroom Work Update - Getting There
The bathroom fan had originally been on a timer, but the electrician put in all new electrical switches when he moved the box when the bathroom door was moved. Somehow he missed the fact that I had gotten a new timer to put in there, so he just put in a switch. I really liked having a timer so I didn't have to remember to turn the fan off when I leave for work. During the winter it wasn't a big deal since the pellet stove kept the air dry and the stove fan is pointed straight down the hall. However in summer, it is more critical, especially when humid out. So a couple of weeks ago I rolled up my sleeves (figuratively, I was in a tank top - LOL), turned off the breaker and changed out the switch for the timer.
Since then I have been taping, mudding and sanding as I've felt like it and had time. This room has given me fits as I seemed to have lost any minor mudding skills I previously possessed, so it has taken quite a bit of time. Additionally, I have never mudded/taped a ceiling before and boy is that a pain in the neck - and shoulders! And on top of that, there are lots of corners., both inside and outside.
With confirmation that I would have helpers arriving soon so I could move the vanity and sink/counter up from the basement, and install the wall cabinet, I have pushed to get this thing done. The old vanity has been out since a week ago yesterday (I use kitchen sink). Of course pushing it was still slow because mud takes forever to dry and speeding it up by using a dehumidifier is not a good idea. Last night I removed the the light fixture to mud around it, so everything since then has been done in the dark, or at least near dark (the small window does let in some light). That's all right, the bathroom was never going to look like a professional did the taping/mudding, but it is about 300% better than it was when I moved in.
This morning was a second coat of mud around the light and tonight I painted the first coat of paint.
Tomorrow will be another coat or two, then the light goes back in and it is just waiting for my help.
Then all that will be left is a new commode and installing flooring. I need everything else in place before deciding on the flooring that will look good with it, so that will be a fall/winter project.
August 21, 2016
Grass Is green - For Now
I mowed for the first time in two weeks yesterday. For this season that is unusual - I've been mowing every 3 weeks (whether it needs it or not). Mother Nature has been very stingy with the water this year and most of NH is under drought conditions, some areas of the state are up to 13" below normal. My area is only 7-8" under for the year. A lot of my front yard was brown for about a month, the shrubs and perennials I placed in wet and damp areas last summer were wilting (I have been watering them every couple of days for several weeks) and the swamp next door shows no water(neither does the drainage between that property and mine). Not only have we been under watered by MN, but we have been extremely hot for the upper Northeast and we've had over 20 days in the 90's (normal is something like 11).
But then I got lucky and got 4" of rain last weekend. True, all of it came in the span of about 4 hours, but we got moisture non-the-less. The weather service was calling for severe storms with lots of rain, so I made sure to water the "damp" and "wet" gardens that morning so that it would be prepped to let the precipitation thru.
The first severe weather started between 4 & 6. I really don't remember the time, I just know I was getting ready to get up on a metal step stool and use a metal scraper (just underneath a metal roof) to knock off ridges in the dried mud on the bathroom ceiling (taping and mudding, not dirt - LOL). When the thunder and lightning started, I figured I best not do that, so waited that cell out. When the deluge started, I put out a couple of 2" deep, strait-sided, flat-bottomed bowels to catch water so I could get a good idea how much rain I got.
By the time the cell moved thru and I checked the bowls they were over flowing, so I got over 2" in that round. I emptied the bowels so I could measure the next cell that was headed my way. Around 7:30, after getting the mud ridges knocked down (yes, the cell moved thru quickly), the second cell came thru
I was just mudding with a plastic spatula, so I didn't worry about working in the bathroom although when the Emergency Management System tone came over my phone it got my attention and I stopped to see what was going on. Just a text telling me about the possibility of flash flooding in my area. By the end of that cell, the bowls were just below full, so I figured another 2" (to make up for the overflowing the first time).
Since more storms might roll in thru the night, I emptied the bowls again. But the next morning there was only about 1/4" in them.
The sad thing is that the swamp was so starved for water that it soaked it all in. I listened for runoff into the drainage (sounds like a burbling stream), but it was quiet. The farms in the state are suffering with no hay, stunted crops, and small fruits. Fish and Game also had bear warnings out since the wild berries have failed so the wildlife is looking for other sources of food.
Could be a lot worse - we haven't had any forest fires since spring and we aren't in the shape that Louisiana is in (or other areas like Mulvane, KS).
August 07, 2016
I don't think that I've posted a picture of the Polar Joy tree rose that I got earlier in the summer. This is its second blooming. The first bloom was weak since it was still in its pot, but it is much happier in a large barrel planter.
I do have to remove suckers from the trunk on a regular basis, and even a new shoot from the roots once, so it doesn't turn into a large bush, but other than that, it has been easy to care for.
I don't remember ever having a cat that likes belly rubs. And I don't mean, puts up with a pat or two or brushing, but loves them to go on and on - and invites them too.
Because she is still a bit skittish about objects over her head, these pics don't show her closing her eyes and rolling completely on her back, with her front paws spread over her head, to get the full benefit and joy from a full stomach pet. She is slowly getting better with her skittishness (I can take my glasses off and she doesn't freak, and the ceiling fan rarely gives her pause anymore), so eventulally I may get a full relaxation shot.
July 31, 2016
Stuck in a Hard Place
I've had some plants out on the back porch getting watered by Mother Nature in a rare rain today. Although still sprinkling, I was looking at the sky judging if it was going to drop more precipitation or not. I heard something drilling on the bird feeder and turned to see who was so brave to be there with me just 2 feet away.
I didn't see anything, but heard the noise again, so looked on the back side. Nope, nothing there. Then I looked in the lower port hole:
I thought it was chippy I was seeing (Rita has been watching him most of the day as he shovels seed into his mouth and carries them off for future feasting). I watched for a minute and only saw breathing motions, so decided maybe he was stuck. I poked it with my finger (barely as the cage is several inches away from the tube), and it turned a git. And I saw this.
Her wing was twisted a bit, so I turned the feeder over on its side and she repositioned a bit, but not enough.
I put on a garden glove, and poked at her neck a couple of times, and she was finally able to free herself and fly off. Glad that worked, it would have been quite the chore to take the feeder apart.
While outside yesterday, I noticed a very large wasp sitting on the edge of the 4 wheel dump cart (the first pic taken by my pohone, the second by my camera which I had to go get)
Turns out that is a Giant Ichneumon Wasp. This particular one is a female and her body was about 2" long with the ovipositor a little longer. I never found a statement on Google that anyone had ever been stung - although supposedly they are capable if they feel threatened. This one was very docile as I got in close to get a good picture using the micro function of my camera. The reason I even noticed the wasp was because I was moving the cart back and forth, using it as a step stool (good thing I wasn't at work OSHA would have had a heart attack). The wasp never even moved or even seemed agitated. She may have been newly pupated and drying her wings (even though she moved them a bit, they never seemed to fully unfold, so may have still been damp).
The adults don't eat but the female lays an egg in the burrow of a wood wasp larva and the Gian Ichneumon larva uses that as its meal all winter long. There are several large, old and decaying tree stumps about 15 feet from where I found her, so maybe that will be her final destination. That mean looking ovipositor is used to drill into the wood for the egg laying and they listen for specific sounds the wood wasp larva makes in order to find the perfect place to drill. It is incredible to think that they can determine the type of larva in the tree just by listening! After the GI larva pupates, the adult emerges between June and September.
Although not rare, they live in woody areas from Canada down to Mexico, I don't remember seeing one before, so I'm guessing they aren't "common", as one usually thinks of the word.
July 24, 2016
No More Studs
Last weekend I got more sheet rock and finished covering the studs in the bathroom. While doing so, I insulated the spaces that shared a wall with the bedroom closet - massive cold air comes in form that ceiling during winter, and all the water supply pipes, as well as the vent pipe, go thru that wall, so I figured it was prudent to do so. Additionally, I had to install 1" thick "spacers" on the studs as the vent pipe angle sticks out past the studs by about 1/2". I was wondering why there were little chunks of wood all over on that wall when I tore it out last year - I figured it out :). However, I decided instead of using scrap chunks of would, I would use some 6' pieces for dry wall stability and my sanity in trying to hist them with the drywall screws.
Notice that I not only installed the new vanity light, but also moved the box over so that the light will be centered with the bathroom sink (when I get the new vanity in) - the old vanity is 30" and new is 36". And, no, I didn't move it 6", just 3". I have started the taping and mudding process this weekend.
I pass Deering's "View" every day and it is always pretty, but I had to turn around to take pictures one evening.
Oh, and the video catches the music from my MP3 player - although a rock song, I thought it kind of went with the view.
July 17, 2016
Fuzzy and Rita Update
When we last left Rita, she was ensconced in the craft room with a gate between her and Fuzzy.
Oh sure, Fuzzy could, and did, jump the fence, but I made it quite clear to him that was not acceptable. Twice, the first day Rita was here, he jumped the fence and started yowling and hissing, and generally trying to chase her around. Both times he got his butt lifted out of the room and put outside Since he wanted to be in to check out the cat, he got the picture pretty quickly. As an observation, it is a testament to his temperament and level-headedness that he never tried to claw or bite me as I was non-too-gently getting him out of the room, even though he was worked up about the strange cat.
Rita also could jump the gate, but chose not to as she realized her safety depended on her staying in.
The night of the 4th (ir early morning of the 5th), she jumped the gate and started exploring. I was asleep on the couch and Fuzzy was sleeping on my legs (his favorite place to sleep). I was suddenly jerked out of sleep by growling and hissing. Fuzzy was swatting at something under the couch, and I realized it was Rita. I grabbed her and placed her back in the room, where she stayed until the afternoon of the 5th. Once again she jumped out and this time Fuzzy just watched her.
I left the gate up in case Rita needed to jump back in for safety (her food and litter box were in there too). By Wednesday evening, after I got home from work, it was evident that the gate was a moot point, so I took it down. Byt the 9th, I was able to move the litter box downstairs. interestingly enough, I still feed her in that room as she doesn't want to jump on the table that Fuzzy's food is on.
Gratuitous pic of Fuzzy
Last Sunday I was a couch potato (reading), and the cats took full advantage.
Last night I was vacuuming and as I came around from the living room toward the kitchen, here is what I saw (neither is a fan of the vacuum - LOL).
Rita has not been outside yet. She only evinces interest if I am outside, but the minute I open the door she leaves the kitchen, so she isn't much interested - except when the vacuum is out :), but even then when I approached the door she went into the office. She also likes to chase the bugs on the other side at night.
Although not fast friends, they are doing well. They already get along better than Fuzzy got along with Tory, so all is good.
On July 4th, after mowing, I was puttering around in the yard. I planted a Sweet Autumn Clematis (paniculata) next to the willow tree and decided to just mulch over the area between the willow and the ornamental plum tree (I'm not sure of that, but I believe so). That area is the hill between the fill that the house sits on and the swamp next door, so it is a pain to mow. And, I'm thinking of placing small shrubs there, so that would be the first step anyway. I had bought the clematis at a local nursery 4-6 weeks prior and it had been patiently waiting in a pot. But as a vigorous climber (up to 30'), it needed room to stretch out.
The "trellis" is the old Aluminum grill from the old storm door that I replaced a couple of years ago. I have been kicking it around (literally - every time I mowed I had to move it out of my way), but had hung onto it for just such a duty.
While I was covering the area with landscape fabric and mulch I smelled smoke. I started looking around and then I noticed smoke rising from behind a house down the road. There had been fireworks from that way the night before, and the ground was really dry (we are 5-7" behind in rain) so I jumped in the truck to investigate. Fortunately I saw someone burning out a garden area, or weedy area or something; the fire was low and was being tended with a hose nearby.
In progressing down the street to an intersection so I could turn around, I saw a neighbor walking her dog (I only know her by her dog and have only met her once), and stoped to chat for a second. I mentioned that I was investigating the smoke, but saw it wasn't anything to be concerned about. Turns out, that was her house and it was her brother helping her get the house and yard cleaned up to put the house on the market.
She asked if I wanted some landscape timbers - they were extras and knew I was doing yard work, so thought of me. Strangely enough, the day before I had been at H*me Depot for another reason, and looked at landscape timbers. However, what they had was crappy looking and not worth the price they were asking, so I didn't get any. I gladly accepted and she said she would deliver them later.
So, I went back to mulching and pretty soon I heard a 4-wheeler coming down the road. The neighbor was letting her nephew drive the 4-wheeler with a plastic pallet filled with timbers. They dropped them off while I joked it was funny that I was giving away a pile of wood while they were delivering wood.
We thanked each other - I for her generosity and delivery, and she for me for getting them out of her yard while knowing they would go to good use, and they went back to her house to continue cleaning up.
Thank you neighbor!