Friday, July 27, 2018

Small Start

Growing up, I was the good kid, the one who listened to her parents and followed the rules. My sister was not bad by any means; she just knew which rules to ignore, wasn't overly concerned if she got caught, and knew how to have fun.

I'm still primarily a rule-follower, but over the last decade or so I've come to realize how silly and stupid some rules really are. Our town has one that strikes me as completely ridiculous. Thursday is trash and recycling day and we are not supposed to put these curbside before 5:00 pm on Wednesday, and cans have to be retrieved by 5:00 pm on Thursday. This is supposed to keep the town looking nicer, prevent trash cans from blowing around in the street, and generally restore calm and order in the world or some such nonsense.

The town council tried to solve a problem that didn't exist, the rule is impractical and unenforceable, so it's clearly my duty to rise up and rebel against it. I've begun to make a point of putting out my trash before 5:00 pm and it makes me happy to do it.

I know this is petty and silly on my part, and we laugh about how much of a badass I am with my big act of rebellion, but it might also be a small start on being comfortable disregarding rules and having a little fun.

Who knows, I might even start pumping my own gas (it's against the law in NJ) or using profanity on Main Street (another local ordinance). Stay tuned ... :-)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday, and today it's with three things that are blooming. These aren't the usual flowers, but they are interesting blossoms I've seen on my damp morning walkabouts in the yard.

I think everyone on the east coast has mushrooms blooming in their yard this week. 

We've had about 8.5" of rain over the last week, another 1.5" tonight and tomorrow, and even more rain predicted every day next week. There seems to be no end in sight, and I do wish I could send rain to those of you who need it. 

Blooming thing #2 isn't typically considered a bloom, but it is the blossoming of fruit, and I'm so excited about them that I have to share.

There are limes (lots of them) on my lime tree! These are the largest (about 3/4" long), and there are probably about 50 of them scattered throughout the branches. I'm seriously considering taking the plant with me to MD next week because I don't want to leave it here, defenseless against the squirrels' evil ways. I can't imagine that squirrels like limes, but I'm sure they won't hesitate to gnaw and destroy them just to upset me. 

Blooming thing #3 is popcorn!

I vaguely remembered something from college botany that the tassels and silk really were blossoms on the corn plant, and it turns out my hazy memories had some merit. Corn is monoecious, which means that it grows male and female flowers on the same plant. 

The tassels on top are the male flowers that produce pollen,

and the ear with the corn silk is the female flower. Wind carries the pollen from the tassels to the silk, where fertilization occurs and a kernel starts to grow. I've simplified quite a bit (and probably still told you more than you wanted to know), but the tassels and ear are indeed blooms. 

I won't be arranging any bouquets with these blossoms, but I'm really excited about all of the lovely blooms!

Head on over here to read more Three on Thursday posts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I've only knit a few rows on my Match & Move in the last few weeks, but I've declared today a mental health day for myself. A day to re-ravel before things get too frayed. My plan is to knit, do just a few chores, maybe get a much-needed manicure, and possibly some Thai food. I'm tempted to stay in my pajamas, but that's not a good look when you are picking up your pad thai.

The announcement of the Man Booker Longlist yesterday is also helping with the re-raveling. There are several books that sound quite interesting to me, but Snap is where I started. I listened to it while I mowed and shredded 16 cups of zucchini for the freezer yesterday and I didn't want to stop listening to sleep last night. I don't usually think of mysteries when I think of the Man Booker prize, but this one deserves its place on the list. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Bits & Pieces

Today I'm going to tell you about a few bits and pieces that I couldn't fit in yesterday's post. Since we're keeping the house in NJ and not moving everything to MD, we've had to buy extras and replacements for lots of things. I got frustrated at not being able to find what I wanted and needed during daily trips to Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, and Target, so I ended up doing much of my shopping on Amazon. It's been incredibly helpful, and Amazon is still helping this week even though I'm not in MD. Today John should be receiving an iron, Pyrex mixing bowls and storage containers, and good cookie sheets. Best of all, there will be an Ottlite waiting for me when I'm in MD next week. Thanks, Patty!

One of the things that Amazon has already helped with are these suction cup toothbrush holders. The house was built in 1952, and has a tiled bathroom typical of that decade. I found out that current big-handled toothbrushes don't fit in 50s era ceramic tile toothbrush holders.

I can't be the only person in this situation, so while I thought that some sort of suction cup thing must be available for toothbrushes, there were none to be found locally. Amazon came through for me.

There is another issue in the bathroom; the only towel rack is inside the shower, and there isn't a good place to mount one on the wall. I found this clever curved shower curtain rod with a built-in towel rack on Amazon, and it works perfectly.

This last item definitely didn't come from Amazon. Of course, the seller took all her personal paintings and photos she had hung on the walls, but did leave us one special piece - an oil painting of the house.

I'm not sure who painted it, or when, and the front landscaping looks different, but it was a sweet gesture to leave it with the house. It makes me want to plant a little pink dogwood tree in the front yard!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Before & After

We closed on the MD house on July 12th, had a beer to celebrate, and then got to work bright and early the next morning. Some of the things we did aren't pretty or obvious, but since they were expensive and necessary, I'm going to include them.

Like the new hot water heater.

The termite treatment was also fairly pricey, but I do feel some peace of mind knowing that those awful little insects are no longer chewing the house out from under us.

Some things weren't expensive, but did involve a lot of work and sweat, like tearing up the grubby white sculptural carpeting and rotting padding. This took us a day and a half, including pulling out thousands of staples and tack strips, but the hardwood floors that were underneath were well worth it. They are one of my favorite things about the house.

Living room before

Living room after

We shopped for new furniture, and made multiple daily trips to Walmart, Lowes, and Home Depot. We had an appointment to have new carpeting installed in the bedrooms and that went well. We hit our first big glitch with the team that was supposed to install luxury vinyl plank flooring in the bathroom and kitchen. After some slapstick maneuvers and conversations with supervisors, they ended up leaving with the flooring materials but nothing installed. After six phone calls and no resolution, we decided to do the flooring ourselves - later. John cut a piece of leftover carpeting to fit the bathroom for now, and I currently have only underlayment on the kitchen floor.

Kitchen before

Kitchen after - not an improvement

You can see the lack of flooring a bit better here, with John lying on the underlayment, after we fixed the
 frozen refrigerator drain tube. At least the refrigerator didn't leak all over a real floor.

No improvement whatsoever

The biggest changes happened when furniture was delivered. 
These guys were fast, efficient, friendly, and real pros. 

Living room before
Living room after

Dining room before

Dining room after - that leftover piece of carpet was so my beloved
hardwood floor didn't get scratched during the new furniture delivery. 

My photos are dark because it was incredibly hot and we had all the blinds down to keep the house a little cooler, but most of the "afters" are really improvements even if they don't exactly look like it. Some day when the house is really done, I'll go around and take good after photos from the same viewpoint as the before listing photos. Our goals last week were to get all the big things taken care of, enough to make the house liveable, and I think it is. 

This is kind of a staged photo as I haven't actually sat and knitted here yet, but it's a big part of making the house liveable for me - my knitting chair! I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for for less than $1500, but I think this one will do. I'll need a floor lamp, but all things in good time.

We came home to NJ last Friday because we ran out of big things to do and, to be honest, the motivation and energy to do any more. I cracked a molar on Wednesday evening and couldn't find a dentist in MD or DE, so I had to come home to see my dentist today. My father's apartment has also sold, so I have a lot to do here to begin the final audit of his estate. John left at 5:00 am this morning to drive down for a week of meetings, so he'll be staying at the house for the first time. He took a load of stuff from here (including the post hole digger), so there is a possibility I'll have a clothesline when I go down next week. It's not a bad house now, and it might even be a great house when I have internet, a kitchen floor, and a clothesline!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Three on Thursday

While driving down here yesterday for settlement today, I tried coming up with ideas for Three on Thursday. My ideas all seemed uninspired, just plain dumb, or I didn't have a photo to go with the post.

But when I read Carole's post this morning about three luxuries, it was so good that I had to steal her idea. I was enjoying three of my luxuries at the same time!

Reading (The Garrick Year)

In bed (a comfortable hotel bed I won't have to make)

With the ac cranked way down (it's set on 64)

It's delightful to linger with these three luxuries because they don't often happen when I'm at home. We don't close on the MD house until 3 pm this afternoon, so my morning is pretty open. It's also wonderful to be reminded that these are indeed luxuries and appreciate them more. Thanks, Carole!

Now I'm going to head downstairs for some more luxuries - tea and freshly-baked scones. You can head on over here to read more Three on Thursday posts. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday. I've only knit a few more sections since I last showed you my Match & Move, but today the big news is that I filled the "With a cover that matches a current WIP" square for my book bingo card.

I'm playing book bingo in a very loose way this summer, reading what I want, when I have time, and putting the book into a square if it happens to fit. This one does! 

Coyote America was worth three stars for me. I'm interested in coyotes because I've always thought of them as a western species, but over the last few years I've seen and heard them regularly here in New Jersey. I wished for more science and less anthropomorphism from this book, but that coyote certainly matches my WIP!

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Oh, Anonymous ...

... you say the dumbest, silliest, strangest things!

Yesterday Google seemed upset that I had 25 comments awaiting moderation and felt compelled to yell at me about my grievous lack of moderation. I don't think I have ever checked the "Awaiting moderation" section of my blog's comments in five years, so I clicked over to see what was there. The comments were all from Anonymous and he/she had some interesting things to say.

Sure, Anonymous. More content, less text, more images, coming right up, just for you.

I don't know which family member this might be, but I'm glad I could include almost all important infos, especially after my content deficiency noted above.

Thank you! I always try to write fastidiously.

I've wondered the same thing, Anonymous. 

I'm glad I could help your sister analyze knitting, reading, and random bits and pieces from my mundane life.

Wow, this comment is pleasant! 

Oh, Anonymous, you do make me laugh (hysterically)!

These spam comments were funny to read, but they do seem to be increasing based on the dates they were written, so I might have to turn off anonymous comments at some point. I didn't even understand how anyone (or any bots) would gain anything from commenting, but it seems like what they get out of it is a sleazy way for the commenter to get free links back to their site. Little do they know I'm not yet a famous blogger and their spam won't get them too far!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Last weekend we were invited to the deer ranch where Justin works in central NY. We've heard all about the ranch owner, his assistant, Justin's coworker, and the interns, but it was really nice to meet them in person along with their families, and spend some time visiting. My pictures are less than ideal, but that's mainly because I was too busy having fun and forgot to take many photos.

 This looks like just a field, but when you get a little closer ...

... you can see it's a field of sunflowers, planted just for the deer. They've already devoured almost everything in the first forage field Justin planted, but since this one is a little closer to the house and a couple of dogs, they haven't nibbled much in this one yet.

I asked Justin to send me a photo when the whole field was in bloom, but he said it might not get to that stage. The deer love the foliage and stems, so flowers might get eaten before they even open.

We ate, we chatted, and we shot bows. They have a great, safe target set-up and it was wonderful to be able to shoot my bow at a nice big target from different distances, especially since I haven't shot since winter.

Almost everyone was using fancy compound bows, and I got a chance to try one, but still liked my plain old recurve bow best. That's it leaning against the tree on the left, next to Justin's new one (which may have cost more than my first car). :-)

It was a beautiful day with lots of good food, fun, and meeting some very nice people. It was a delightful way to spend the weekend; now it's time to get back to some house details. I hope your weekend was as oasis away from work and worry like mine was!

Friday, July 6, 2018

In Which I Take a (Sort Of) Break

That's a somewhat silly title because I haven't posted since Tuesday, so I've already taken a two-day break. Looking forward, it will probably be much of the same, so I thought I'd tell you why.

The biggest reason is that we did buy a house in Elkton, MD, and for some dumb reason, I have ridiculously underestimated the time this venture would take. The house is the one I posted previously, and the past few weeks have involved lots of negotiations. The inspections revealed termites with damage to joists, an inoperable hot water heater, old windows that don't even open, a kitchen with a faulty stove, dishwasher, and sink, and many, many other little things. We had looked for a move-in ready house, thought we had found one that was close, but the inspections showed otherwise. We asked for lots of money to fix everything, negotiations went back and forth, and we finally arrived at an amount that neither we nor the seller are thrilled with, but it's enough to fix all the big things. We seriously considered walking away, but that would have put us back at the beginning. There were two other houses that we were considering, but even the cheapest one was $80K more, and that's money we just don't have.

So we decided to go ahead, and settlement is next Thursday. We chose the "good enough" house; we know its issues and have begun scheduling the fixes. I have a new hot water heater being installed on Friday, Home Depot is coming on Saturday to rip up old carpet and measure for new carpet to be installed the following Thursday. I'm hoping that there is hardwood under the carpet in the living/dining room, and because the carpet was installed 16 years ago I'm hoping that if there is hardwood, it won't need much refinishing. On Sunday, John and I are going to try and replace the garbage disposal and sink, fix the burners that don't work on the stove, and repair the dishwasher. Termite treatment is happening on Monday. Joist repair is scheduled for Wednesday, and somewhere in that week, we're going to shop for furniture. I really hope to find a bit of spare time to get a library card at the Elkton Library and maybe even visit my new LYS, Vulcan's Rest, in Chesapeake City. (Big thanks to Vera for her recommendation!)

I've procured home owner's insurance, scheduled electric, water, and sewer to be turned on the day we close, but haven't yet contacted Comcast to set up internet. Given my previous interactions with Comcast here in NJ, I thought that process might work better when I was actually in MD.

So my time has been taken up with details and all the seemingly hundreds of things that need to be done before Thursday the 12th. I enjoy posting every day, and I especially enjoy hearing from all of you, but that hasn't been possible for a few days now. I'm not leaving, but all this house stuff plus the activities of daily life and family mean that I'll be posting randomly over the next few weeks. I'm going to be in MD from next Wed. the 11th through Fri. the 20th, then back to NJ to regroup. Here's hoping I can successfully negotiate with Comcast so I might even be able to post from MD!

I'm wishing everyone a wonderful, relaxed, and relaxing weekend. We've been invited to the ranch where Justin works this weekend to meet the man who owns the place, his assistant, the rest of the ranch staff, and their families so I may even have blog fodder for Monday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Too Hot, Too Dry

I haven't talked about our garden much lately, but I think the photos below might explain why.

The spinach has all bolted.

 Zucchini leaves are wilting.

The popcorn doesn't look completely awful, but when you look a bit closer, you can see that all the leaves are curled. That's the plant's attempt to try and limit water loss when temperatures are high. My grandfather used to say that he could predict the temperature based on how tightly the corn leaves were curled, but my farming experience isn't good enough to do that.

The cucumbers look pitiful,

and the poor tomatoes are just terrible.

There is one seemingly heat-resistant volunteer plant in the bean row, so I'm trying to take especially good care of it. 

Worst of all are the splayed out Napa cabbages. The heads are still usable, but I don't know how long that will be the case. 

We've been watering early in the morning and again late at night to reduce evaporation, but I took these photos at mid-day
 and they show how stressed most of the plants are after several days of our high heat, despite twice daily watering. 

There is one thing in the garden that isn't painful and sad to look at - the purple coneflowers. There are
 also some black-eyed susans among them, and I hope they fare well enough to bloom. 

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow ~ Audrey Hepburn
(along with the possibility of lower temperatures and a drenching thunderstorm or two!)