Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Another Chimney

Remember the first chimney we removed? Need a refresher? Here's the link: Tricks or treats or bricks

We have another chimney to removed.  It has been on our to-do list for a while now, but the weather hasn't been dry for several days in a row, so we've been waiting.  Now it's dry and boy, oh, boy is it hot. 

There isn't much sticking out the top. Only about 4 feet.  But the roof is very steep.

The first plan was for Walt Kowalski to get onto the upper roof from the lower back porch roof.

He looked and tried.  Then we looked and tried a different angle.  Then we looked some more.
Getting UP wasn't the problem.  Getting DOWN and getting down quickly was the concern.

We had ropes and braces and boards.  We even started to put boards on the roof for him to "walk" down. The 3" screws we were using weren't log enough. The previous owners put a layer of plywood over the old roof, then shingled.  Walt Kowalski needed 5" screws to go through the 2x4, shingles, plywood, and hit a stud in the attic. This was becoming too difficult.

So the chimney stood another day and back to the home improvement store we went.  We were looking for ideas.
We found it.  A vent.  Instead of removing the chimney from on top of the roof, he would cut a hole in the roof for a vent and remove the chimney from inside the attic. 

Much safer. More steps for me to carry the bricks down, though.  But not falling off the roof is always in my agenda.

We have the chimney removed just under the roofline. We also took a few minutes to brace the remaining chimney in the attic, because when you look at it from below, it had a lean.  It always had a lean.  It looks like someone cut the hole in the roof at the same time someone was building the chimney and they didn't talk so it was off by about 1 foot.  

Kinda funny, but not surprising. 

Stay tuned for more.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mulch, mulch mulch

Walt Kowalski, the busy little ant that he is, is preparing for winter.  With the hot weather, he wants to get more firewood stacked near the garage to dry and season. 

But there is a tarp covering the woodpile. 
But there are 30 bags mulch on top of the tarp.
But the bags of mulch are for the front hill.
But the front hill is covered with weeds and vines.

It's a process.

We've been working to clean off and clear off the front hill. 

What starts as this:
Gets to this:

And ends with mulch.  It looks good.  Several cars have even slowed down and beeped.  We are taking those beeps as "You're doing a good job! It looks nice!" instead of "Get off the road!"

Now Walt Kowalski can stack the firewood.

During one of our breaks this little finch stopped by the bird feeder.  Along with the cardinal family, he and his mate come everyday.

I think he heard me get the camera out and said "Wait! Get my good side." Hello, handsome.

But the funniest of the day was the butterflies.  They are all over the flowers on the front steps and never fly straight.  This one would land for a few moments on a marigold, have a drink, then do a circle around my car.

He didn't do it just once, he did it at least a dozen times! It was too funny.  Walt Kowalski said 'What did you water those marigolds with?"

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dinner on the patio

This summer my goal was to try making something new for dinner once a week. I took a chapter from the Dreadful Chef's cookbook (Thank you Miss Brenda).

I failed at the once a week part, but we have tried many new dinner recipes this summer.

The pineapple jalapeƱo salsa was a HUGE hit.

The salmon cream cheese dip was only ok.  (Too salmony. Not dippy enough. The ratio of salmon to cheese was off. I'll try it again though.)

The frozen hot chocolate was delicious. (The first try, not frozen enough.  Second try, we licked the glasses clean and were sad there wasn't more.)

The hushpuppies didn't happen.  (I forgot about the batter in the fridge. I ended up making them into very dry muffins to use with chili in the fall.)

The sweet spicy meatballs were delicious.  (I sweetened the Sriracha.)

The creamy buffalo chicken pasta was good.  (We had to warm out of the pot, but cold would have been good, too. cold requires even more advanced planning. )

There was something else I tried that Walt Kowalski and I ate but weren't thrilled with it.

Then there was the *almost* cooking disaster last week. It was HOT outside (and inside), so I didn't want to turn on the oven, but I wanted a nice dinner for later in the week. I put a beautiful roast in a heavy pot, covered it with red sauce and put it on the grill to cook. Then we turned on the air conditioning, watched the rainstorm move in, and sat inside in the cool.  Ahhhhhhh

And I forgot about the roast on the grill.

4 hours later, I went to the laundry room/garage and could smell something wonderful cooking.  "Mmmmmm, smells like someone in the neighborhood is cooking sauce. OH MY GOODNESS IT'S ME!"

Crap crap crap crap crap.

I opened the lid of the pot to find a 1/2 inch of charcoaled red sauce on the bottom of the pot and the roast "stuck" to the sauce. 

I peeled the roast out of the burned pot, trimmed off a few really burned pieces and, surprisingly, it had a wonderful smoky flavor.  I added another jar of sauce and let it "soak" in the sauce for a day and it was delicious as pulled beef on sandwiches.

It took me two days to scrub the pot clean.  Walt Kowalski said "Are you still scrubbing that pot?"  (Baking soda and boiling water)

Last night's dinner experiment was Salmon Burgers.  To quote Walt Kowalski 'What's so bad about regular burgers?" Nothing, but we need to broaden our dinner horizons. And a few Omegas are good for you.

1 can of salmon, 1 egg, parsley, pepper, lime juice, and bread crumbs.  Stir stir stir. 

There was probably enough for 3 burgers.  I made 2 HUGE burgers cause I didn't want any leftovers.  (working on no leftovers is another goal.)

After they grilled, the kicker was a spicy mango salsa to go on top of the burgers. Add a side of grilled potatoes. Yummy

This is not my photo, but is a good depiction of our burgers.

The other thing I've learned is to try new foods when I know Walt Kowalski is especially hungry.  After patching the driveway, working on the front hill, and mowing the grass he was starving and ate everything.

He said it was very good and he wouldn't mind having them again.  Just a little smaller in size.

Monday, July 20, 2015


It was HOT this weekend.  Really hot.  Super hot. 

Did I mention it was HOT?

Just because it was hot doesn't keep us from filling our days. 

Saturday felt like we did it all. 

Ran errands around town - bank, market, egg store. 
Did chores around the Cat Ranch - scrubbing litter boxes, cleaning, mopping, laundry, dishes.
Worked at the front house - removed more lathe.  Filled the back of the truck full!
Worked at the Cat Ranch - removed shrubs, trimmed shrubs, raked the front hill
Did more chores and laundry
Had a fire and drinks with the neighbors.

Laundry.  Where does it all come from?!?!  We are either the cleanest people or the dirtiest people.  I say the same thing about soap.  Didn't I just buy soap? Who is using all of this soap? Hand soap, dish soap, bath soap.  Once again, either the cleanest or the dirtiest.

When I see the laundry, we are the dirtiest.  Work hard. Play hard.  Get dirty.

(I should put that motto on the fridge.)

One of my chores was switching to the summer comforter on the bed.  The winter one needed de-furred and washed. I also had a pile of slippers in the hamper.  In the winter, we have a pair of slippers in every room.  In the summer, I like to wash them all and thin out the heard. 

With the hot and sunny weather this weekend, it was perfect slipper washing weather. I sent them all through the machine and then set they all out to dry in the sun. I did the same with the clothes on the line.  (Walt Kowalski just shakes his head at me.)

The weatherman said there was a slight chance of a passing rain shower.  With the hot and humid weather, it's always possible.  Around 4pm, we saw a few clouds forming.  They were nothing to worry about and headed around us to the North with one rumble of thunder we could hear in the distance.  But for us, the sun was still shining. 

Then there was a single rain drop.
Then another rain drop.
Then another rain drop.

Then before we knew we were running for cover from the major rain drops!

OK, I had our phones and my camera sitting out by the garage, I have two clothes lines full of clothes, and the front steps are covered in slippers drying in the sun.

Electronics took priority. Walt Kowalski was cleaning up his toys, too.
Clothes took the next priority.

Slippers had to be sacrificed.

By the time I got all of the electronics and clothes inside, it was raining so hard the slippers were soaked. No need to rush now. 
You can see the sun is out! Crazy weather. HUGE drops of rain.


As fast as the rain came, a few minutes later it was gone. I grabbed a basket, spin out the slippers (again) and restarted the drying process.  *sigh*

The reward was snow cones.   


Thursday, July 16, 2015


I had some tests done last night.

Here's a picture of my Cat Scan:

Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Now I have a scan of Pepper's underside. 
Walt Kowalski wants to get an automatic vacuum to combat the ever growing amount of furballs on the hardwood.  I can see Pepper riding it around the house and Cocoa Fluff hiding from it under the bed. 
What happens when it finds its way to her hiding spot under the bed?
I might consider this just for the humor involved.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fire Extinguisher

Any time I burn in the big fire pit (branches, trimmings, trees) I always make sure I have the fire extinguisher close.  The garden hose is close, too, but the fire extinguisher is kept in the garage and is just as easy to carry out to the fire as is the radio. 

The Mayor across the street always makes fun of me for having it our when I have a big fire.  ha ha the joke is on me, I guess.  He's commented on it multiple times.  It's just an insurance policy. (and if the local fire department would ever stop, I would be playing by the rules.)

Friday night Walt Kowalski has several friends over for the evening.  Telling stories, sitting by the fire on the patio, enjoying drinks.  It was a nice evening. As the gathering was winding down, I went inside to clean up and shower.  It was getting late and I was pooped. (Fridays are always tough.)

I filled and turned on the dishwasher, but there was still pans left in the sink.  Although I don't like waking up to dishes to do in the morning, I was too tired to do them Friday night or by this time, Saturday morning.

While I was getting ready for bed and Walt Kowalski was saying his goodbyes in the driveway, I heard a metal thud. With cats in the house, I figured one of them jumped up to investigate the pans in the sink and they fell over. 

Then I heard Walt Kowalski calling me from the driveway. "Call 911!"
Me: "What?"
WK: "Get the phone and call 911.  Someone hit the guardrail at the end of the driveway."

Ahhhh, that was the thud.  Oh dear.

Me: "{calling} Yes, there has been an accident.  Here's the address. The car is on fire. People are injured.  Yikes! The car is really on fire! Come quicker!"

Walt Kowalski grabbed the fire extinguisher and started to run out the driveway.  He pulled the pin of the fire extinguisher, squeezed the handle and it went: puft. Nothing but air. The charge went from full to empty.  It was dead.

Crap. {Sirens in the distance.  Flames growing}

There were three young adults in the car.  They were injured, but able to walk.  They were flipping out, yelling and screaming at each other, and fighting with each other.  (That dark spot on the road in the photo above is blood where one of them was laying down on the road.)

They got out of the car and began to walk away down the road.  Walt Kowalski and were standing in the driveway listening to them. One was on the phone.  We could hear them say to someone "just tell them the car was stolen." And "Man I am messed up." And lots of "It's your fault."

They were walking away from a car accident.  A car accident that was now on fire!

Walt Kowalski yelled down to them "HEY, where are you going? You are injured.  There is an ambulance on the way.  You need to stop and get help."

To which one of the young men yelled back to Walk Kowalski "You called the po+lice?  You called the police!?!! I'm coming up there to kick your ass man!" (Actually, what he said was much worse.  I made it family friendly.)

Walt Kowalski: "Go ahead and try."

Logic: 1. This person is a young adult. Walt Kowalski probably had 100 pounds on him. 
Logic: 2.  He was injured and probably high.
Logic: 3 Walt Kowalski was holding an empty fire extinguisher as a weapon.   
Humor: 1. The front hill is so steep and covered in mulch. I can't climb in it daylight with proper shoes, let alone in the dark with injuries.
Logic: 4 Walt Kowalski was familiar with the steep hill and if this character made it up the hill, Walt Kowalski probably could have just pushed him back down.   

Luckily, we didn't have to try.  When the young adults heard the sirens in the distance, they took off running.  We lost sight of them in the dark. (Next time, remember flashlight.) We think they ran down the hill to a side street, crossed the railroad tracks and the person they were talking to on the phone picked them up on the next street over.

The firemen arrived and extinguished the car.

It was a scene.  Ambulances, local police, state police, three different fire departments.  Flood lights and search dogs.

We gave our statement and told them what we could remember.  We also heard the officers talking about passengers in the vehicle.  From the description we gave them, they had suspicions of the characters who were involved.  (It is a small town.)

A little later we could hear the police talking about a report that a young, badly injured man appeared in the Emergency Room at the local hospital.  At least he got help.

It was a very scary scene.  The tire tracks. The smashed car.  The car fire. Yelling like I have never heard.  The hole in the hood of the car from the fire. The blood on the road. 

Saturday morning we walked out the driveway to see the remains. Just as bad in the daylight.  They are very lucky. 

Sunday afternoon we bought two new fire extinguishers.  Let's hope we never need them. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Hammy didn't want to get out of bed this morning. 

I don't blame him.  It was a nice sleeping temperature with the windows open and the fan on.  Ahhhh, my favorite.

Also, it was so dreary this morning.  I know everybody is complaining about the rain.  I also know it was a beautiful June and the rain will stop. (Let's hope!) but after coming from sun every day last week to clouds so many days this week, it is blah. 

That's ok, there is a nice weekend on the horizon. 

Speaking of weekend, it's new soap day.  Someone has been bringing in great smelling soap at work.  I've had this "flavor" at home before and it is a nice scent.

The names make Walt Kowalski and I laugh.

Take this one:

Endless Weekend at the beach smells wonderful. 

Walt Kowalski said "Endless Weekend at the Cat Ranch smells more like sweat, beer, pine tree branches, and chainsaw oil."

He's right about that. Thank goodness there is soap to make it smell better. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Kitty Misses


It's nice to be home.  Sort of. 

Of course when these two cuties are waiting, it's hard not to be glad to be home.


That's a size 14 shoe box.  He wouldn't fit in a box for my size 5.

Except for the piles of fur.  Really!?!?! 

Friday, July 3, 2015


There was lots of water traffic the last few days. I don't mind.

This guys goes by every morning.

This rocket goes hourly.  There's been lots of dolphins to watch on this tour.

We've seen more sailboats this year than ever.

Advertising at the beach?  Yes, but it's only once a day. Besides, I've never seen a LED tv screen on a boat before.

Usually the parasails are near the boardwalk and in the bay, not way up at our end.  

This rocket is my favorite.  I love the water rooster tail.

This sail boat was really close to the shoreline.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Moon Moon

It was 90 degrees yesterday.  We alternated between the sun and water.  ahhh  Here is where we sat for most of the afternoon.

That's our condo in the back ground. Don't judge me by my 30 year old rusty umbrella. 

And there was a full moon last night.

It was beautiful sparkling on the water.
And on the bayside was Jupiter and Venus!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


We had dinner with some locals last night.

During the day, you can sit at the tables and rafts out in the bay. 

We love going for the sunset on the bay.

Our dinner guest (and his friends) left after multiple attempts to steal our fries.