Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Weekend plans

Walt Kowalski and I have a big weekend planned.  A long weekend. A four-day weekend.  Four entire days away from work.  Away from working at work, that is.  We'll be working for us this weekend and we've got a long list planned. 

Grass mowing
Garden cleaning
Chimney removing
Floor fixing
Roof repairing
Sweeper running
Leaf raking
Stick burning

Ok, those last two aren't exactly work but they are part our weekend plans. 

We'll be tired come Monday morning, but it will be a good tired.  Rain is in the forecast, but we've never let that stop us in the past. 

Stay tuned for pictures.  Even if we do half of what is on that list, there are sure to be photos.

Happy Autumn!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sniff Sniff

I think I'm allergic to stink bugs.  No, seriously, hear me out. 

Saturday I sneezed my way through cleaning out the closet room while the guys were away hunting.  Sneezing to the point that by Saturday evening head was pounding from sneezing so much.

Wait, let me back up.

Last fall we turned our second bedroom into a walk-in closet room.  This is what it looked like before (minus a huge pile of stuff I already removed):

Carpet, big bulky wardrobe closets, a clunky dresser, and metal shelves.

This what it looked like after:
I never got a photo of the room completed with the new trim, new door, and new paint before I moved all the stuff back into the room.  We removed the dresser and wardrobes and filled the room with shelves. Here's a picture of them in the living room before we moved them into the closet room.
They are nice shelves.  Some long hanging places, some short hanging places, and some shelves.  
At this point all over stuffed. Just like this photo, except not in the living room. 

My goal was to get away from doing the summer/winter switch of putting clothes away in tubs and boxes at the end of a season and getting out the clothes for the next season. And it worked. I donated many, many bags of clothes, organized, and now I no longer have to do the switch. the closet room has also become the junk/storage room.  Papers that need filed, boxes and tubs of seasonal decorations.  Things I don't know what to do with. Along with all of the clean clothes that need hung or folded.  Then when company is coming, everything that is clutter in the rest of the house gets thrown in the room and the door closed. 

It's become a mess.  Guilty.  Nobody to blame but myself. 

THEN to add insult to injury, the stink bugs invaded this room.  As with the rest of the house, the windows are old and do not seal tight so these little buggers have found their way in.  Worse than just being in the room, they have weaseled their way into the folded clothes on the shelves. 

I grabbed a sweatshirt the other day and when I unfolded it, there were 20+ stink bugs curled up inside the folds of the sleeves and hood.  Gag, gag, gag, gag.  It wasn't just one sweatshirt that had a colony.  The entire top row of clothes on every shelf, between all the hanging garments, and behind all the shoe boxes were stink bugs.  Hiding.  Waiting to stink me when I least expected it.  (Oh they are that tricky.)

So with the guys away for the day, I jumped head first into cleaning out this room. 

Vacuuming up every stink bug on the windows.  Sneeze.  Vacuuming every stink bug on the clothes.  Sneeze.  Vacuuming up every stink bug on the floor.  Sneeze. 

Then last night after the gym, we headed home to the Cat Ranch.  Walt Kowalski wanted to finish the floor in the entrance and I wanted to work in the closet room some more.  Sneeze. Sneeze. Sneeze. Sneeze. Sneeze. 

I sneezed so many times Walt Kowalski got tired of blessing me.  I was very blessed last night.  I almost had to change my pants.  (It's a girl thing.)

But when I left the closet room, where the majority of the stink bugs were hiding, I stopped sneezing.  When I went back into the room, I started sneezing almost instantly.

This morning I went into the closet room and sneezed again. 

Coincidence?  Maybe. 
Maybe I am allergic to stink bugs. 

Maybe I'm just getting a cold.  Either way I'm going to keep a change of pants and lots of tissues close by when I finish cleaning that room.  I also think I know which windows are going to be replaced first. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

More B & A s

Busy weekend (like always) but not a lot to show in photos. 

So as promised, here's a before and after of the front hill.  Walt Kowalski has been working so hard to open up the front hill.  I looks great. 

The power company can take these trees any day they like.  We have big plans for this front hill.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Klunk..klunk klunk........klunk

I love our programmable thermostat.  We use it more in the winter than in the summer.  The temperature in the house can be low all day, but a 1/2 hour before we get home the thermostat will cycle, the heat will kick on, and warm air will pour out of the registers.  Ahhhhh. 

It's funny because on days we are home from work I will forget about the programmable thermostat.  I won't remember that the heat has cycled off.  Usually I'm active on my days off at home.  But then around 3pm, I'll say to myself 'why is it so cold in here?'  Duh.

We skipped the gym tonight.  In exchange, we ran a few errands to get supplies for the weekend and worked on the floor in the hallway.  We got home just in time for the heat to kick on.  Ahhh.  I went to open the garage door for Walt Kowalski and put a load of laundry in the washing machine when I heard the noise. Klunk..klunk klunk.........klunk. 

It wasn't an even rhythm.  I listened again.  Klunk..klunk klunk.........klunk.

Now I am new to the world of heating and cooling, but I could hear it was coming from the furnace.  The less than two-year-old furnace.  Crap..crap crap.......crap.

The worst part is that I had to tell Walt Kowalski.  He's been working so hard at work and on all of the houses, the last thing I want to tell him is that something is broken at the Cat Ranch. 

One listen and he knew it was the motor.  It was working, but not working well. 

$$$$$ that's all I saw when he told me.

10 minutes later he had the motor out, confirmed there was a problem, and put the motor back in.

'It's fine.  I'll get another one.  It's got a 5 year warranty.' 

:) :) :) :) :)

Just a small delay on our project for the evening, the floor of the entry.  The floor is not so sticky, but still a little sticky.  We have a dark tile in the game room downstairs and a light tile in the kitchen.  We talked about putting the same darker tile from the game room in the entry and we've talked about putting the same light kitchen tile in the entry.

But we aren't ready to make a decision on either.  We want to get a new front door and entry.  So we don't want to put down the good tile just yet.  No need risking a break in the floor during construction. 

Winter is coming, whether we like it or not. The current wood floor will not take kindly to water and salt.

The solution is a temporary vinyl floor.  (Wait a minute, didn't we just take one up?  Yes, but it was brittle and stinky.)

The foyer isn't getting changed, just the entry.  AND we want to refinish the steps.  If we drip on this temporary floor it's not a big deal. 

The funny part is that from a distance it looks a lot like the current ceramic kitchen floor or from a different angle it looks like the current porcelain game room floor.

Lots of things to consider for both House #1 and House #2.

(Yes, Grammy, I know I should have put the shoes away before I took the photo, but then it would be fiction.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What did the big bucket say to the little bucket?

You look a little pail.

Rain was in the forecast for Saturday afternoon.  It was a nice, chilly autumn morning, but you could see the clouds building on the horizon.  The weatherman is often wrong, so we were hoping it wouldn't rain until later in the afternoon.

We picked up the bucket truck around 9am and we were back home by 10am.  Here is Walt Kowalski getting comfortable familiar with the bucket truck.  I don't think he was ever "comfortable" up there. 

Here are the ugly trees that needed to go:

They grew funny shaped because of the other trees (that we have already removed) growing near them.  Crowding them out. 
Here is Walt Kowalski realizing that even with the arm fully extended, he is still about 10 feet away from the tree.  Crap.
Ok, time to regroup, rethink, and recalculate.  We pulled into the driveway which meant the bucket of the truck was away from the tree.  We knew we couldn't make it up the hill with the truck, so Walt Kowalski had to back into the driveway.  Tricky, but he did it.  He was closer to the tree, too. 
Time to get serious.  Harness on.  Saw ready. Move the truck again. Little closer. Little closer.  Little closer.

Although it was cloudy, it was a difficult day to take pictures. I call it a squinty kind of a day.  It was one of those days when you can't see with your sunglasses on and you can't see without them. It made for difficult picture taking.  No mater what angle I attempted, it seems like I was pointing my camera up into the cloudy but bright sky.  That's where Walt Kowalski was in the bucket.  
Walt Kowalski also needed me, so I couldn't go too far and I didn't go down below where I could get thunked in the head by a falling tree.

The first two branches were not too difficult. Even with the arm of the truck fully extended and the saw fully extended it was still a reach for Walt Kowalski. (It's sprinkling rain at this point.)
Another move of the truck.  A shot of courage and Walt Kowalski tackled the last branch. (A few more rain sprinkles, too.)

And then big sigh of relief.  You can see the smile on Walt Kowalski's face.
Now it was time for the ground crew to get to work.  The rain held off long enough for Walt Kowalski to finish with the bucket truck.
                                       These two are the Ground Crew ^                     
There is one more big, Big, BIG tree on this hill that needs removed.  It will need roped and guide roped and pulled to be brought down.  But now these ugly trees are no longer in the path. 
Walt Kowalski was out of steam.  And then the rain came.  Too much of a risk to bring down another tree.  And then the rain really came.  The last big tree is a story for another day.

Lawn Mower Man

We were headed to the gym last night when Walt Kowalski said 'It's too nice to be inside and the grass needs cut at House #1 and the Cat Ranch.'  I agreed.  Home to the Cat Ranch we went to change clothes and then off to House #1 to mow. 

I was doing the trimming and Walt Kowalski was doing the mowing when the older man from next door saddled his way up to me.  {Oh, no, here were go again.}  Interestingly, he was as nice as can be today.  Acted like he never met me before in his life.  Invited us over for a pig roast.  Offered us vegetables from the garden next year. Told me his grandson was going to fix up the house.
Maybe he was having a bad day the last time we talked to him and he was having a good day today.  I don't know.  I'll wait and see.  Walt Kowalski is still putting up a fence.  Niceness only goes so far after you step in dog poop.

Monday, October 21, 2013


We broke down and turned on the heat this weekend.  There were too many complaints from Walt Kowalski and the cats.  Saturday was just damp and chilly.  (The fire outside was nice, but I'll get to that later.)

As soon as Walt Kowalski turned on the heat there wasn't an open register to be found.
Pepper refused to look at the camera.  Actually, I think there was a bird outside that was capturing her attention.
Fudge has claimed this as his spot in the morning when the heat kicks on.  He'll fight you for it. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Werewolf of the Cat Ranch

I see the moon, the moon sees me
shining through the leaves of the old oak tree
Oh, let the light that shines on me
shine on the one I love.

Or if you are a Gaelic Storm fan:

Me and the moon stayed up all night;
I brought the whiskey! He brought the light!
A' quarter to three, we're feeling fine
when the sun comes up I'm gonna miss my friend moonshine.


Just a hint of eclipse.  It's chilly out there tonight.  Cuddle up to the ones you love tonight.  Here is our evening:

Walt Kowalski said 'It's medieval, but it's nice.'  Yes it is.

Work Day-Off

I took a day off of work work yesterday to stay home and work.  I needed to help Grammy with a few things and I planned to work around the Cat Ranch in the morning. 

It was a perfect plan.  Get up at normal time, run vacuum on floors, run vacuum to suck up stink bugs, do laundry, make foods for later, then go to Grammy's house.

The electricity had other ideas.  I was just making a cup of tea and setting down to pay a bill when the lights flickered.  Living close to the train tracks, loose light bulbs are not an unusual occurrence.  Same with crooked pictures on the wall. 

Darkness. Power out.

OK, I'll give it a few minutes. 

Do dee do.  La dee da.

5 minutes later, no power.
10 minutes later, no power. 
15 minutes later, no power. 


Ok change in plans, off to Grammy's house early.  As it turns out, it was for the best because the rain showers came earlier than expected.  We got the chores done outside just as the rains started.

But then it REALLY started to rain.  Walt Kowalski and I were planning to get some boards out of storage for House #1, but rain added to dirt creates mud and storage is all dirt.  Or in this case, all mud.

This photo came out amazing clear for how hard it was raining.  If it wasn't for the drops on the windows, you would think it was just foggy. (Also, I'll mention these trees in a few minutes.)

No worries, lots to do at the Cat Ranch. When I got home, the power was back on. Woo hoo!  From the time on the clocks, the power was out for about 5 hours.  Glad I didn't wait.

When the power is out, how dumb do you feel when you walk into a room and flip the light switch that is not functioning and wonder why the light didn't turn on?  Very.

The foyer and steps to the basement still have the old green carpet on them.  The steps were on the to-do list for this summer.  They are on the to-do list for the fall.  The green carpet was stinky.  It smelled like one of our four-footed furry friends had an accident.  More than one four-foot friend joined in the party. 

Carpet came up easily.  The tack-track and staples weren't too tough to remove.  But underneath the carpet on the landing was vinyl flooring.  Pap probably used it as a water barrier. The center parts that had been walked on for 50 years chipped right off.  The corners not so much.

Originally this was a single piece of vinyl flooring, but over time the white "lines" between the "tiles" deteriorated more and stuck to the wooden floor.  They came up with a little encouragement from the screw driver.  The corners were miserable.  We picked at those for 2 hours. 
The wooden floor underneath is a little sticky now.  I'm sure in a few days the sticky will be replaced by cat hair.  Hey....a new kinda carpet. 

So about those trees I mentioned in the rainy picture above.  We got a number from a guy who knew a guy that worked with a guy that  cuts trees.  He came recommended.  Not too expensive.  Does good work.  Walt Kowalski called him. 

He never called back. 

As luck would have it, Walt Kowalski told this story to a guy he knows through work. This guy said 'you know your friend Moonhead bought a used bucket truck not too long ago.' Walt Kowalski said 'I did not know that.'  Now we do.  Here's another woo hoo!

So Saturday morning we're going to borrow Moonhead's bucket truck and finally finish cutting the trees on the front hill.  We're taking bets on how long before the mayor comes over on his scooter and says 'HEY can I borrow your bucket truck?'


So I just went back and looked at the photo of the trees.  Holy cow re they leaning! I look at them everyday, but in that photo it is amazing they haven't fallen over yet!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reasons I should not be allowed alone on the internet

I swore I wasn't going to turn this into a cooking blog.  How about the name "What's Walt Kowalski Eating Today" for the blog?

We had an excellent roast last night. I love my slow cooker.  I know, I know I have heard all the horror stories. 

Kitchen catches fire!
House burns down!
Cat gets third-degree burns!

I know there are the people out there that won't leave any appliance on if they aren't home. 

But the roast comes out so tender.  I threw the potatoes to boil in a pot while I showered, gave them a little smash when I got out, and dinner was ready.   It's too easy and I hate a tough roast.

Now I don't usually leave my dryer on when I leave the house.  Not to say that the dryer couldn't catch fire while it was running and I was at home.  Same with the dishwasher.  I often turn them on before we go to bed.  And for that matter, I've got a freezer, several fridges, multiple TVs and cable boxes plugged in and what about that hot water tank? 

Suddenly, the slow cooker is the smallest risk in the house.  I did read a good idea to put the slow cooker on a pizza stone.  I like that idea.  This way, after a few years of cooking in the same spot, the heat from the slow cooker doesn't hurt the countertop.  It's also something to do with my pizza stone, since I rarely use it. 

Every morning when I open my inbox there is a recipe waiting for me.  It's never just one recipe.  It's always an email full of beautiful pictures.  Pictures of food cooked just perfectly.  Food that is beckoning me. Click on me.  Click on me.  Click on meeeeee. 

Ok, ok, just one click.  Ok, just one more click.  Suddenly...3 hours later, my printer is humming and I have a stack of recipes and ideas for breakfast, brunch, lunch, snacks, dinner, and dessert.

Finding the time to experiment with all of these culinary masterpieces is a different story.

With autumn and Halloween here, the recipes sites are full of ideas using pumpkin and apple.  Here are today's recipes/ideas I just couldn't pass by. 

3-D Pumpkin Cookies

Ok here's the fun and cool part...when the cookies are assembled...
They can hold treats!

Or how about these Batty Buttermilk Biscuits

Or mini pumpkin pie cookies

Or severed finger cookies

Ok those are a little gross (sorry, Grammy), but very cool looking!

Will I ever make them?  I don't know.  But they are cute and good ideas to add to my arsenal. 

A few years back I made three "test cakes" for a friend getting married.  Each cake was a different flavor so she and her fiancĂ© could decide which they wanted for their wedding cake.  It was close to Halloween, and once again the internet is my downfall, so put each one in a different icing costume. 

These were fun to make.  The mummy cracks me up.  They selected the traditional delicious almond cake.  Mummy decorations were not included.

Lately I've been lucky to get lettuce on a plate, without cat hair, and call it dinner before 9pm.  I'll get back to more advanced cooking and baking again soon.  Think of all the recipes I will have collected by then!

Jumping Beans

I had to dismiss a worker today.  It's never a fun experience.  It's not the first time I've had to go through this process and I'm sure it won't be the last.  If you look at everything she did, or didn't do, individually these items wouldn't have been a big deal.  But when you stack up all of the strikes against her, in baseball terms, she was more than out. 

It took me an hour just to write and re-write the email.  Then I even let it sit for a while and went back and re-read it before I sent it.  This wasn't a surprise to her either.  She had a final warning just yesterday.

Am I perfect employee?  No. Am I a better employee than my co-workers?  YES! Of course I say that.  They probably feel the same way about themselves.  There is a whole other post here, but I won't go into that right now. 

We've been jumping back and forth between houses the last few days.  House #2, House #1, House #2, House #1.  With a few new pipes and fittings, Walt Kowalski got the boiler working at House #2.  The forecast for this weekend is chilly.  It's fall.  *sigh* Finally it will be nice to work outside and not sweat.  We'll need to be near the fire to keep warm. 

Last night we worked on removing the ductwork from House #1 to prepare for a new furnace.  Once again, we say the same thing 'why did they do this?'.  Missing cement clocks in the foundation.  Holes cut randomly in beams creating sagging support.  Wires buried behind and beneath an between. 

From the outside, the old furnace didn't look bad.  The inside was a different subject.  There were holes that could have leaked fumes that could be deadly in the night.  Hello new high-efficiency furnace. We don't have it yet.  We're not even close to being ready for it. Luckily, we have a little time.

Tonight, after a short stop at House #2, we'll be back to finish removing the ductwork.  It will be a truckload for the junkman.

Tomorrow is some tree trimming and working at storage.  Jump....jump....jump....jump....

Monday, October 14, 2013

Morning Zombies

There are zombies on the way to work every morning.  Zombies that you can only see when the headlights of the truck shine on their eyeballs.  This time of the year deer are the most prevalent zombies.  This morning, there was a bunny zombie in the yard near the compost pile.  Deer zombies run almost immediately, but the bunny zombies stand still until the last possible second, then they run.  

This morning when we got to the garage to get the work van, there was a small zombie by the back of the building.  Too small for a deer zombie, too large for a bunny zombie.  Fox zombie? Turkey zombie?

Oh no, I was wrong, there were two zombies.  And I think one of them is wearing a sweater. Even zombies need to be fashionable.  

The zombies quickly approached us, tails wagging, and started playing!  Oh the horror!

Instead of zombies, what we had were two very friendly dogs.  A bulldog and a small terrier type dog wearing a lovely red, knitted sweater.  Two zombies that were obviously not street dogs and shouldn't have been outside alone at this hour.  Luckily, they were both wearing collars. 

Walt Kowalski opened the truck door to get out and the bulldog thought that was the opportunity to jump into Walt Kowalski's lap and go for a ride.  Obviously, going for rides in a truck was routine for him. In the meantime, the little sweater-wearing dog was just running and running and running around. 

I came around the truck to see if their tags had an address and this was mistaken as a sign of playtime and jump time!  Lots of jumping and running and jumping and running.  They were too cute. 

As Walt Kowalski pulled his work van out of the garage, I ran around the back of the garage and called the dogs to follow me.  They were familiar with the route and followed.  I knew they lived close.

I needed to do a little coaxing up the hill towards the houses because they were more interested in heading to the convenience store.  It was very obvious they were familiar with this route.  I'm betting they get snacks at the store on a regular basis.  You know, zombies love snacks.

As I started up the hill, zombies following, the front porch light was on at the third house up. On the front porch was a bathrobe-laden lady calling "Lola!" 

Somehow I expect zombies to have scarier names than Lola.

They ran home and she called 'thank you.'  I did my good dog deed for the day. 
Speaking of snacks, Saturday night, after a long day of work outside, we were getting ready for bed.  Walt Kowalski was in the shower and I was brushing my teeth and after I finished I said 'oh, that bed will feel so nice.'

Walt Kowalski replied from in the shower 'Did you say you need Scooby snacks?'

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Never too early

Finally, *finally*, I have my fall and Halloween decorations up in the house. 

Hmmm, thinking about how long it took me to get them up...I think maybe I should start decorating for Christmas now. :)

It was an excellent day working at the Cat Ranch.  Walt Kowalski got more branches trimmed off the bottom of the pines on the front hill and I got some plants in the ground.

Stay tuned for photos of the progress.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Rainy days and rants

It's a good day for rain.  Walt Kowalski and I have to be at work.  The garden needed a good watering.  The forest needed a good watering because tomorrow is a burn day.  Walt Kowalski and I have to be at work.

More sweeping and sweeping and sweeping last night at House #1.  It is making a difference. The old house smell is getting less and less everyday and the amount of dust gets less and less everyday. 

I hate people. 

Ok hate is too much.  I dislike people. Not all people.

Every week for the last two months, we paid for a dumpster from the city.  1 dumpster for 1 week.  No permit needed.  There wasn't a week that went by that our dumpster wasn't overflowing on pick-up day.  We made certain that we paid for the next dumpster before the current dumpster was due so the city wouldn't take the dumpster, but just empty and leave it.

Every week for the last two months someone (not us) put their trash in the dumpster.  Sometimes it was a simple as a bag of food wrappers from a restaurant. Sometimes it was several bags of kitchen garbage.  I let it go figuring at least whomever did it wasn't littering.  Walt Kowalski paid for these dumpsters, but I would much rather have your trash in our dumpster than have you throw the trash along the road. 

As a person that cleans up the trash on the road in front of our house weekly, I would rather you used our dumpster.

This last dumpster we filled to the top of plaster.  We finished the night before the city was to come and remove the dumpster.  It was a very satisfying feeling.  We were done with one stage of the process and moving on to the next. 

But when we got to House #1 a couple of days later, the dumpster was still sitting in front of the house.  Thank you for the extra days, city! I'll put the bits and pieces I've been cleaning up in the dumpster and a few things from the shed.

But then a few days later, the dumpster was still sitting in front of the house.  Thank you for the extra days, city!  I cleaned out the garage some more at the Cat Ranch and put even more in the dumpster. 

But then, almost two weeks later, the dumpster was still sitting in front of the house.  Walt Kowalski said 'You are going to have to call the city tomorrow and tell them we are done and they need to take it away.'  Will do.

Except I got busy at work the next day and forgot. 

When we got to House #1 the next day, the dumpster was still sitting in front of the house.  Except now there was a TV in the dumpster and at least 6 bags of household garbage.  You know the kind of household garbage, we all have it.  The stinky kitchen garbage, the containers the raw meat comes in, the stinky diapers, the cigarette butts.  The smelly stuff.  All of it festering on the top of our construction dumpster.  Festering in the warm sun.

It smelled and it was covered with flies and other nasties. 

If you didn't know, electronics can no longer be put out for the trash.  They must be recycled.  I didn't want the city to see the TV in the dumpster and hold us responsible for not recycling.  I took that TV out of the dumpster and set it right at the curb.  It can sit there until the person that put it in our dumpster takes it away. 

I don't know if it was the house above us or below us that put the TV in the dumpster.  But I do know that it was the house below us that put their stinky kitchen garbage in our dumpster. 

How do I know this?  Along with their wrappers and butts, they also put in some personal paperwork in the garbage. 

When you're just mad enough, you'll start digging through ripped open bags of garbage to find more information. I didn't even have to dig very far.  (Thank goodness cause I was holding my breath from the stink)  Right there in bold letters was a name, home address, telephone number, date of birth, and medical conditions and history.

Hello!?! This is 2013, don't you know about a shredder?  Besides, if you're going to try to get away with something concerning your next door neighbor, you might want to be a little discreet and make sure nothing points back to you. 

It took all of my strength not to take those bags of garbage out of our dumpster and set them back on their front porch.  Doing that would mean I stooped to their level.  I don't need to get even.  I need to let it go. 

Walt Kowalski was just as frustrated as I.  He had another point...their bags took up space.  What if I needed that space?  I would have had to pay for another dumpster to finish the project.

Then again, these are the same people that let their dog out to do business in our yard.  I know that this house was vacant for more than a year and both neighbors used the yard to let their dogs run, but this house is owned now.  We're here everyday other day.  We keep the grass moved and trimmed and don't appreciate stepping in poo, cleaning up your garbage, and cleaning up poo.  Could we please have a few manners? 

I think everybody in the neighborhood is in for a surprise when the fence goes up.  Then we'll be the ones that everybody dislikes.  Sorry. 

Oh and I called the city the next day and told them they needed to come and take the dumpster away.  I told them the truth, too.  The dumpster was gone that afternoon.  Either the sound of frustration in my voice or the thought of the city losing more money must have been enough motivation.

Yes, the TV is still sitting on the curb.  Yes, I'm sure I will be the one that takes it to be recycled.  *sigh*

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Power Tower came over last night to get this electricity party started. 

He's coming over again tonight.  Meanwhile, back in the kitchen...I'm working my way around to every corner of the house cleaning up all the bits and pieces.  I realize I will have to do this several times, but like I said yesterday, this is the rough cleaning to get the big stuff.  There are days of nails pulling ahead, too.  Removing all of that lath left a little of nails in the studs.  Not difficult work, but time consuming.

The nails don't vacuum up very well.  All it takes are two of them sideways in the hose of the shop vac and nothing else gets through.  You shall not pass into the vacuum canister!

I also realized last night that we could open the front door of House #1 and charge admission to a "haunted" house.  I wouldn't even need to add decorations and attractions, they are already there.  'Look at the cobwebs, careful of the loose floor board, and watch out for spiders.'

It's just cobwebs, but with the dust on them, they look very haunted housesque. 

We paused for a word from our sponsor (Bud Lite) and enjoyed the lovely sunset. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I feel trapped at work today.  It's a beautiful day outside and there are so many things I would rather be doing.  Yet here I sit.  Fixing computers, answering the phone, listening to boring office conversation.  (Go Pirates, but I'm tired of the commentary and analyzing.)

This is the only bit of blue sky I can see from my office. 
I suppose I should be thankful that I have a window in my office.  Today it's hard.
We spent last evening cleaning and prepping at House #1.  I ran the shop vac for about 3 hours to clean up the dirt and left over pieces of plaster and lath in all of the corners.  Walt Kowalski did the prep work for the electricity.  Power Tower stopped over to check out our project.  He had some good ideas and is going to wire the new electricity for us. Walt Kowalski could do the wiring, but there are so many other things that need his attention.  
We are thankful for the help.  (I am thankful for some things!)
No pictures of the clean up process.  Really not much to see. 
Instead I will entertain you with photos of our 5th cat.  She's our outside cat.  She even started coming for breakfast.  (Are we running a restaurant? Would you like coffee with that cereal?)
How can you not love that face? 
Lastly is Pepper.  It's not everyday you get your furry face on the cover of a magazine.  Ok so technically it's not her. (She's cuter!) She was refusing to pose for pictures.  Walt Kowalski even held her and bribed her with treats.  All that did was bring the other cats.
It's the second week of October and I still have yet to put up my fall decorations.  At least they are IN the game room AND it's a clean game room. Cleaning was more important that evening than putting up fall decorations.  (Don't look at the rest of the Cat Ranch)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Please hold

We are in a holding pattern at the moment.  At least with the work on House #1. 

We're waiting on a survey. We're waiting on a fence. We're waiting to have a parking spot created. 

I know these will all happen at the same time.

House #1 has been gutted (except for the bath tub) to the studs.  Now we need to get electricity to the second floor ceiling so we can work in the evenings.  We went to the hardware store this weekend to procure supplies to run a little power.  That's part of tonight's plan.

While we continue to hold in this pattern, I will post a few photos to remind us (ok mostly myself) how far we have come and how quickly it will all come together. 

In December we replaced the kitchen in the cat ranch.  It wasn't easy and it wasn't quick, but I love it and use it everyday. 


Friday, October 4, 2013

At Sixes and Sevens

My friend turned six a couple of weeks ago.  Where do the time go?  (I'm certain his mother is saying the same thing.)

Their family is in the transition of moving. Moving is a monumental task for everybody.  I don't care how many times you've moved or how organized you are, it is never easy. 

I wanted to send him something for his birthday, but knowing their family is in this transition, I didn't want to send something that would have to packed up.  (Ok, I was thinking more about his mom in this case.)  I wanted something small to send through the mail.  Something related to him being six years old. 

I had nothing.

Two days before his birthday, and still no good ideas on the horizon, I took a phone call from a staff member on campus looking for a particular font to use for a poster. 

I found her font in my fonts folder and lots of other cool fonts I never get to use.  Most of my correspondence is via email, so I have the opportunity to use the cool, creative styles, but in the professional world, you don't have the opportunity.  It doesn't look very professional when you write an email like this:

At least not in my department.  (I SO want to work in a department/field where this would be acceptable.) My boss would be all over that in a flash.  He refuses to take anybody seriously if they use a font other than straight laced and serious.  We won't get into his neurosis right now.

This one would be fun too:
After looking at all of these cool fonts, I knew I had to do something related to 6s for the birthday boy.  I printed out a bunch of large 6s in all different fonts and started cutting around all of the edges of the 6s. 

If I started a year earlier, I might have had them all cut out by the time he was 7.  Cutting around all of the curves of the fancy fonts was slowing down the cutting progress.  Simpler.  Must be simpler.  Squares.  Straight cuts.  Easy. 

Then I found a slightly heavier weight yellow paper in my office.  Bright Yellow. Now we're getting somewhere.  I used 4 different colors, but kept the size of the card the same size.  A few minutes and a lot of fonts later, I had 80 squares with a big 6 in the middle of each.

Now what.  Now what.  Now what.

I need a different color paper.  So now I have two stacks of the exact same 6s on different color papers.  I just created a matching game!  Match the pattern or match the colors.  Off to the paper cutter I go. 

My office is across the hall from the Education Faculty.  The paper cutter is in the faculty mailroom.  As I was cutting out the sixes, one of the professors stopped.  She's an early education professor.  She said, 'Wait a minute.  This looks like a project I would be working on, not a project our tech support would be working on.'  Hmmmm, maybe I need to peak in her office for more ideas.

Here's the finished project in action.  The birthday boy and his brother loved it. 

By the way, I have 941 fonts in my fonts folder.  I use 2 on a regular basis.

Also, here is a quick history of the term "at sixes and sevens":

This expression is commoner in the UK and Commonwealth countries than in the US. It can mean something that’s in a state of total confusion or disarray, or people who are collectively in a muddle or at loggerheads about how to deal with some situation.