Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Walt Kowalski, Hammy, and I had breakfast on the patio this morning. 
We are squished over in the corner to shield us from the sun. It's hot already.

Walt Kowalski took our chairs to the beach while I made breakfast.  Hammy just watched the birds. Walt Kowalski made up names for all of the people who brought their chairs to the beach.

They are original. On the left is the Black Tent people, then the Blue Tent people, followed by the4 Green Cabana people. Off screen is the Line of Chairs people (they have their chairs in a straight line.  10 chairs. Then next to us is the Screaming Mimi's.

Walt Kowalski: "Look at all that beach and the Screaming Mimi's are right next to us."

We don't know that.  He jokes.  There is always an unhappy child somewhere on the beach. 

Yesterday the young family next to us had three girls ages 6,4 and 1 1/2. The 1 1/2 year old wanted to do everything the 6 and 4 year olds were doing, playing in the surf with dad.  Mom just wanted her to sit on the blanket in the shade for a while.  She was having none of that. 

So mom smoothed out the blanket and plopped her down on it then mom laid down in the sun. The 1 year old instant looked a her blanket, looked a mom's blanket and then proceeded to kick sand at mom and on mom's blanket.

Walt Kowalski and I smiled and tried not to laugh. 

Apologies to those named Mimi that aren't screamers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Two years ago Walt Kowalski came home with two sticks in a bag of dirt.

Walt: "Look, I bought a grape vine!"
Me: "It's two sticks in a bag."
Walt: "Right now it's sticks.  But soon it will be grapes and we can make wine.  Good Italian wine like Grandma used to make."
Me: "I'll get the bottles ready."

We planted it and it grew! It grew and grew and grew.  The first year we got 2 grapes.  Not much wine was happening.

The second year, we got a frost late in the spring and I didn't think about covering the leaves.  BIG mistake.  They all got bit by the frost and fell off.  It set us WAY back on grape production.  We did ok on grapes, except they all ripened while we were on vacation.  We had a few left when we got home.  they were sweet grapes. So sweet.

This is the third year. 

There is an old gardening saying that goes:
First year: sleep. Second year: creep. Third year: Reap!

Boy will we reap this year. Look at all of the grapes.

We even had to buy a second trellis to put behind Grapey.  The original trellis was too small and Grapey was pulling it over.  At this rate, next year we'll need an even larger trellis.

Friday, June 19, 2015

With a view

If only all offices had such a view. You got to have your water tower.

(The worst part...I don't think anyone here even looks out the windows!)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

On Business

Boss:  "I want you to learn some new things.  Please schedule a trip down."
Me: "Ok.  The middle of July works for me. After we return from vacation."
Boss:  "Can't wait! You must come now."
Me: "Ok. I guess I'm coming now."
I tried to leave on Tuesday afternoon/evening.  Sat through construction to get to the airport.  Hustled in.  Parking. Security. Baggage. Find departures board. Flight: On Time
Walt Kowalski called from home "Your flight is cancelled."
Me: "ha ha ha you're silly."
Walt Kowalski:  "Seriously. They are on the phone. You are rescheduled for tomorrow morning."
Me: "Boo hoo. Boo hoo."
Wednesday morning. Get up and do it all over again.
I finally made it.  Something about the hurricane in Texas. 
I missed my hotel because it didn't look like a hotel.  It's in an area with other professional buildings. (Kinda looks like the Contemporary Hotel at Disney.)

Yesterday my co-workers said "Why are you allllll the way on that side of town.  It's so far away." Well, not being familiar with the area, I selected the hotel with the amenities I wanted in the price range I was permitted.  A 15 minute drive to the office isn't a big deal. 

As it turns out, all of the traffic was headed in the opposite direction during rush hour.  I guess my pick wasn't so bad after all.

And my pick really wasn't bad when I saw what was around in addition to the amenities.

Behind the hotel was a waterfall and fountains. Those are townhouses/condos. 

And a lake.  Yes, it's probably a man-made lake, but it's a nice like.  With a walking path around and paddle boats.

Those clouds are a storm front that came overnight.  It's still 98 degrees here. Love it.

And here is the pool in the hotel.

But wait there's more. You can swim from inside to outside. 

As a kid, you would have had to drag me out of that pool.  As an adult, it was hard not to jump in clothes and all.
My room is a suite with the beds on one side and living room/desk area on the other.

After replacing the countertop at home, I now notice countertops.  This one is nice. The ones at work are an awful pink color. 

Monday, June 15, 2015


Our goal for the weekend was to fill the dumpster AND get rid of the rest of the plaster in the house. It was a big goal and we pushed to accomplish that goal.  The humidity didn't help.  We WAY underestimated the amount of liquids we would need.
This was a small closet and bathroom.
We are going to make it one room with a shower instead of a tub.  Once the existing walls are gone, it is easy to see how making that change will be easy. Shower in the corner. Toilet to the side. Vanity along the wall. Sometimes it is difficult for me to see three dimensional when the walls are in the way.  Once they are gone, I have a better "vision."

Saturday night and Sunday night we spent hydrating ourselves. J

I didn't show the acrobatics Walt Kowalski did to get the plaster off of the ceiling above the steps, but lets just say that it involved standing on one foot on the railing. 

The "black" on the lathe on the walls is from coal dust. Some areas are clean and are easily removed without much mess.  Other areas, like the ceiling, are covered in a layer of 50 year old coal dust.

Here's something you won't see often, my photo! (I can hear Grammy now: 'Of all the photos!')

Actually, this was half way through Saturday, before I got really dirty and really sweaty.  My mask was white when I started. 

No, I wasn't standing out in the rain, that's sweat on my shirt. Walt Kowalski was so sweaty, you could see the dry rectangle outline on this pants where his phone was in his pocket. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Who stole the wall

Note: This post is late.  I started this morning and never pressed "publish."  *sigh* It's just one of those days.
As soon as you walk in the front door of the front house, you run into a wall.  It made a long narrow corridor into the kitchen.  To open the front door, you all but had to stand on the steps upstairs.
After we removed the drywall and plaster (yes, there was drywall OVER the plaster {shakes head}) we realized that a previous owner had cut the main beam above to put in duct work for heat. 
You cut the main beam!?!?!
As I was working upstairs, and Walt Kowalski was working downstairs, he could see the ceiling above him sag every time I walked. So politely he said "I don't mean to say you weigh a lot, but I don't think the floor can handle your weight.  I don't think you should be working above me right now."
He was right.  Where the floor register was located, there was no support.  I could have easily fallen through.

So we built a wall.  The 2x4s of this new wall are pounded in tight to hold up the second floor.  The old wall is not even touching the ceiling beams.  The only reason the old wall is still standing upright is because of all of the lathe attached. 

The old wall came down and went straight to the burn pile.

Wow, did this make the living room/entrance look big!

We also added three support beams in the basement to push up.  Of course, there was no support from the basement up to the first floor either.  Now the basement beams are supporting the first floor new wall supporting the second floor supporting the attic. 

(FYI, Walt Kowalski did more than stand at the railing between the first photo and the last photo.  )

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Remember the fishes?

Do you remember the Loaves and Fishes post? If not, you can remember it here: Loaves and Fishes

Saturday was Loaves and Fishes part two.  Also know as Fry Day. Don't stand still too long or you might be dipped in batter and fried.  But you'll be tasty.

Every summer we have a Fry Day.  We fry everything.  Once a year and only once a year.  Always in the summer so the mess is outside.

First, Walt Kowalski, a.k.a the "Fish Master" must properly prepare the fishes. Additional trimming of any stray bones.

Washed, dried, floured, egg wash, bread crumb, then to the refrigerator to chill. 
I prepared fresh cut potatoes to add to Fry Day, along with hush puppies and cake batter.  Yes, cake batter. Ever have a funnel cake? 

All the boys that caught the fish were invited and brought additional foods.  (A proper American picnic) Some to fry, some not to fry.  All delicious. 

Here is Power Tower adding the cut potatoes.  Mrs. Power Tower also brought pickles, bananas, and strawberries to fry.

You can see the finished fishes. Yum, they were good. 

I didn't like the fried cake batter. It was too greasy for me. Everybody else said it tasted like hot donuts, but I passed after one bite.  I should have drizzled the batter like funnel cake. Instead we dropped it in balls.

We never made the hush puppies.  We had so much other food including strawberry spinach salad, chicken wings, vegetable pizza, mixed fresh vegetables in dressing, potato salad, taco dip, pineapple salsa, haluski, antipasta pasta salad, chips and salsa, s'mores brownies, and chocolate cake with peanut butter icing.

Fry Day once a year is enough for me.  Although those fresh cut fries were good. 

Hmmm, I have lots of uncut potatoes in the bin.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Rainbow in the west

The Cat Ranch faces west.  We can see the weather rolling in over the horizon and beautiful sunsets.  The back of the house faces east and is at the bottom of a hill.  We don't see the sunrise until it's been up for several hours. 
Because of this, we miss the evening rainbows that often appear after showers and thunderstorms. late in the afternoon. We know they are there, but the hill and the trees prevent us from seeing the colors. 
This morning we were treated to an unusual occurrence.  A rainbow in the western sky. A double rainbow in the western sky!

It was cloudy (cloudier than it appeared in that photo above) and rainy.  But the sun was coming up, we just couldn't see the sun because of the hill in the east.

My camera made the sky in the first photo "brighter" than it actually was. I had to adjust my camera to capture the beauty of the dark clouds and bright rainbow. It was a complete arc.

And then it was gone. 5 minutes later and we would have missed the show.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Bathroom Project

Our big bathroom ("big" har har har) has been in need of some serious attention.
I love white. Walt Kowalski always wanted a little color.  I said when we remodeled we would add some color.  Well it was time.  I have been smelling stinky old wood in the bathroom lately.  We were suspecting some water damage to the subfloor beneath the tile behind the toilet.

Then there were several cracked tiles.  One was from the floor being uneven, one was from a dropped curling iron that hit straight down and cracked the tile, one was from a drilling mishap when we added new heating ducts during the game room remodel.

And the grout used to be white.  Used. To. Be.

And when I remodeled this bathroom, I didn't know we were going to have four black cats. 4 black cats and 1 white bathroom are not a good combination.

There was some water damage to the subfloor.
Of course, everybody had to sniff all the stinky boards and roll on them.  The entire old subfloor was composed of only three thin plywood boards. It was only held down with one screw in each board.  I'm amazed there weren't more broken tiles.

I know so much more about remodeling now than when I did this bathroom originally.  A layer of waterproof cement board went down before the tile.  You can see where we repaired the wall. In the previous photo you can see the hole in the wall where the heat register was.  When we remodeled the game room, we brought the heat up under the vanity.  But never repaired the hole.

Pepper would stick her head in and look down that hole every morning. 

It looks so big with no vanity, door, or toilet.

Floor done.  Wall fixed.
It took me an entire evening to cut the five tiles in front of the tub.  I outlined the pattern on paper, cut out the pattern, transferred the pattern to the tile and then carefully cut the pattern with the wet saw.  As always with me and tile, I make my cuts too precise.  They fit too tightly together and against the wall and tub. We wanted a little wiggle room for grout.  Cut, measure. Cut, measure. Cut, measure.
We still want a new toilet.  One that has two buttons, one for liquids and one for solids.  With a well that type of toilet is a HUGE water saver. We know what we want, we just have to find it.  The old commode, with a good scrubbing, will be fine for now. 

They also have new toilets with no touch features.  Just wave your hand over the tank.  Flush! 

My concern was that Fudge and Pepper sit on the back of the tank while I get ready for work.  Every tail wag might mean a flush. Too many flushes.

Chain Saw Johnny gave us the idea for the sink top.   We went down to pick out the color from the selections he had to offer.  He even gave us a tour of the granite factory where it was carved. (Very cool.  No photos allowed.)

The vanity was also new.  We were going to use the old one (which was similar) but it was glued to the countertop and wouldn't release. The fixture in the sink was in good condition.  Also got a good scrubbing.

It added a little extra to the cost of the project, but it is nice.  For under $600, we replaced the subfloor, got new tile and grout, a new vanity and granite top.

Now to keep it clean.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dinner Guest

This weekend I was making dinner. It was nothing special. It was so un-special that I can't even remember what it was! But we were hungry and thankful for food. 

When out on the lawn I heard such a clatter...

No clatter.  Just several cats who were suddenly VERY interested in the forest out back. 

The cats and I were watching the deer.  The deer was watching me, then watching Walt Kowalski in the shed, then watching me.  By the time I quietly signaled to Walt Kowalski to look, he was gone. 

He. Yes, he.  See those nubs of antlers? I didn't at first.

STAY AWAY FROM MY HOSTAS! THE SALAD BAR IS CLOSED. I already have to buy another Rose of Sharon bush.