September 17, 2016
Yearly Fall Ritual
It has been a cool week with highs in the 60's and 70's and lows in the 40's. Tuesday I removed the window fans and closed the windows. By Thursday the house temp was running at 65-66 degrees and I had taken to wearing a sweatshirt in the morning before getting ready for work.
Friday, when I got home from work, I decided to get the main floor stove (P43) ready for firing. I removed the plastic bag from the end of the exhaust (kept moisture and bugs out) and then removed the newspaper that I had stuffed inside the pipe which ensured that even if the bag came off, no critters would enter. Then I vacuumed the entire main floor including behind the pellet stove and getting in the motor and fan openings to remove cat hair and dust bunnies.
Then, still feeling like I should still do something, I mopped the floors and conditioned the hard wood with a mixture of grape seed oil, orange oil and rosemary oil. The rosemary oil was an accident (I was looking at the bottle of orange oil and grabbed the rosemary), but that was okay as it helps take care of any stray fleas that might have made their way inside. Not that I've seen any fleas, and I have kept up with flea treatments for Fuzzy, but it never hurts to be proactive!
The floors are all soft looking and shiny, they are protected from the drying air of the pellet stove, and any roughness my bare feet felt is gone. A good thing as I woke up this morning to hear Birdie shivering. Yes, I actually heard him shivering - he gets the whole cage to vibrating and the bottom grate rattles against the plastic base. So, being the caring pet owner that I am (and being cold myself once I got out from under the blanket), I started the P43 up.
Once it got to to 68 degrees, the stove shut down. It was in the mid 70's so I opened all the windows and let Mother Nature heat the house. Currently 71 and the low is supposed to be in the 60's, so the stove will be off for a while. But it is good that it is ready for the next cold snap.
Biker Chick and her Parents
While Cop Car and her HH were here, they actually got to see one of my motorcycles - they never saw, in person, my previous bikes. Since that Sunday was the monthly HOG meeting, and their hotel was just a couple miles down the same road, I rode over when the meeting was over. After performing some errands, using HH's car, and just prior to heading towards my place, CC told Dad she wanted a pic of him on the bike. And here he is.
Of course, they had never seen me ride before, so CC went a little crazy with the pics as they followed me home. She literally took more pictures of me than had previously been taken in total. These are just a sampling of the pics; The first is as I was getting prepared to leave the hotel parking lot, then various places thru the ride home, and finally as I am backing into the driveway.
Once home, I had Mom get on the bike for a pic together.
I appreciate that CC shared the pics with me as I have a hard time rotating my FB profile pic since I have so few photos of myself (which I only do a couple times a year) - usually I resort to just pics of my bike.
September 06, 2016
Lipizzaner Stallions In Goffstown, NH
While the folks were in town, the Lipizzaner Stallions were performing locally, so we went to see the show. It was at a small arena at a therapeutic riding facility, so we were fairly close to the action. Since I didn't take my camera that has better zoom abilities than my camera, most of my pictures were limited to shots of the horses in their stalls. But that just means I was able to focus on the performance rather than focusing on trying to take pictures - so all was good.
Aragorn was the Big Boy of the group. Not only was he taller and more solid, but he held his head very high and proudly throughout the performance.
Apparently one of the horses was in time out - LOL
And, the one action shot I got; it was toward the beginning of the show as they were showing a horse being "cart driving" from another horse. Apparently, although appearing to be a simple type maneuver, is challenging to train especially when using all stallions. It was probably even more difficult as they were using a young stallion as the "cart" horse. And this particular horse (Achilles),we were to learn later from the announcer, is full of himself and vying to become the alpha stallion as they had recently retired their alpha and the horses are in the process of sorting out their hierarchy. Additionally, post tropical storm Hermine was off the coast and the pressure change was affecting the horses' attitudes and sensitivities.
Had a great time and I hope the folks enjoyed it too!
Mom and Dad came to visit and I put them to work. They moved the vanity base and sink/counter from the basement to the main floor. They wouln't even let me help but to tell them when they needed to watch their footing in the yard. I did bring up the 12" drawer bank up myself, as well as the wall cabinet up, but I felt bad that they did all the heavy work. They just told me that they were used to working together, so I just needed to stay out of the way.
After installing the vanity, we put up the medicine cabinet and wall cabinet (over the commode - for towel storage). I installed the towel bar and towel ring as well as placed the hutch on the counter, and voila - it looks like a new bathroom!
I still need to put down flooring and replace the commode, but that won't be done for a while. Mom also helped me narrow the flooring choices down to two different patterns/colors/designs (out of about 10 that I had samples of). One is a linoleum, and one is a laminate and either will do a nice job of protecting, beautifying and and adding a textural visual interest.
The sink is still dry and I will probably bring in a plumber to do the hookup to the drain. I also have to install the toe kicks at the bottom of the base cabinets, and reinstall the trim around the doorway (taken off for painting) but those are not something that I need heavy-lifting help for, so I' extremely pleased with the progress made this weekend!
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.