Monday, January 20, 2014

Housekeeping 101

Funny thing about housekeeping: there's a surprisingly fine line between clean and obsessive. I dunno. I mopped the kitchen floor. But it's a bit filmy. I'd better rinse it. And rinse it again. Maybe I should buff it and wax it - not necessarily in that order. "Ah! That looks good," I think - as I bend over to pick up a wisp of cat hair.




Over the years, I've developed my own weird Gold Star Chart. Even shared it with my daughter. I like it 'cause I don't have to do everything on the list. But if I do most of them, I can more or less keep up. Here's another one. And another. And another. Oh, face it. There must be thousands.





Then there's the series of pictures I took to illustrate "clean" for my daughter. It's a wonder she hasn't disowned me. Still, I admit, I find these picture to be a useful reminder.

Okay. I suppose that's enough procrastinating. I should probably go take down the Christmas tree...

Saturday, September 07, 2013

It's September.

Blazers and loafers.

School buses.

Goldenrod.

And the heavenly scent of honey from my hardworking bees.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Good Food

Why don't those words rhyme?

This Chick CooksNever mind. Thanks to Ruth for the link to This Chick Cooks.

chick pea salad with summer veggies
 I'm looking forward to Blueberry Hamburgers. I've got lots of frozen blueberries to use up before this season's harvest.  


And Chick Pea Summer Salad. Yum.  

Monday, June 04, 2012

Facts and Logic

We use the Truth-O-Meter to rate the accuracy of political claims.Whether or not you agree with FactCheck or Politfact's ratings, you can learn a lot from their facts and logic - or simply their inclination to look beneath the surface.


Politifact's six ratings, True through False and Pants On Fire, are based on five principles.
  • Words matter. 
  • Context matters. 
  • Burden of proof is on the person making the statement.
  • Statements can be right and wrong. 
  • Timing and information available at the time the statement is made.
I don't know how or where I developed the habit of questioning so much of what I read and hear. But the habit has served me well. And I still believe that if we all had access to facts and good logic, we'd tend to reach similar conclusions. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Charlie Helps in the Garden

Charlie's helping Bill weed the garden. It turns out that Charlie's specialty is deadheading dandelions and he's really good at it. He just needs more practice with where to place his feet when reaching for the tasty dandelions. We only let him do this 'cause these are raised beds and he's gotten just lazy enough to avoid lifting his foot the 8" necessary to step into the bed. 

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Why I Can't Get Enough Work Done


We were replacing the deck last weekend. Late in the afternoon we took a break to admire our progress, "when glancing aside for a moment I spied..." this baby squirrel. I quickly put myself between him and the cats. B wanted me to pick him up but I thought he'd bite me.


No. 


As it turns out he wanted nothing more than to be friends with us. He happily scrambled up B's clothes.

I suppose this means they've lost their mother.



We spent the better part of the next hour trying to get him to go back to his tree (and taking pictures) only to have his sibling join him on the ground.






I really don't think B's going to volunteer as a surrogate - tho' I do think it crossed her mind. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Survivor

Three years ago, we built this garage and driveway over my favorite garden. We moved a lot of plants, but I knew we'd miss some. The next two years one pathetic leaf emerged in this spot. This year, look!


I'm not sure if the message is forgiveness or "Nya, nya, nya, nya, nya."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Visualizing My Budget

Well, this helps explain why I struggle with my spending. Last year I made $21,000. But I spent -gulp- $9,000 on taxes. I knew I was paying taxes. But I never put the pieces together to visualize just what a chunk of my income that is.


Income tax (including FICA) is one-third of the total tax. Property tax (not counting the acres of woodland) is the big chunk. I'm clinging to the comforting thought that property taxes, including that huge school tax bill,  support my own neighborhood.  I love my log house in the woods. But if I had a mortgage, I'd never be able to afford those taxes on this salary. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Most Beautiful Stove in the World

All summer this space silently weighed on my mind and tugged at my heart.My beloved thirty year old Waterford cookstove was missing. I joked that it was spending the summer at rehab camp. But it wasn't funny to me. It was a bit like my house was in a coma - lacking any life energy and seriously in danger. 

The trouble with cast iron (as my stove repairman repeatedly told me) is that it expands and contracts. Over its 10,000 days of heating my home and cooking my meals, one by one its parts loosened, its screws dropped out, bits of refractory cement turned up in my dustpan. From time to time I replaced worn out parts. I resigned myself to the fact that it became so leaky that it wouldn't hold a fire more than a couple of hours and I was using twice as much wood as I had when it was new.

Six months and $5,000 later, it's back! In one tiny detail it reminds me of the moment after Maggy was born when a sense of relief washed over me making me aware of how anxious I had been over the preceding months.

I expected it in August - or maybe September. But one after another, things went wrong in the repair process. Each new problem required another replacement part from Ireland. Is is possible that they don't have air freight in Ireland? When nights got chilly in October my subliminal anxiety edged its way into my consciousness. In November as I planned the Thanksgiving menu I could barely control my frustration.

Finally the stove's return was scheduled for November 24th - the day before Thanksgiving. The schedule didn't make me feel much better. There was still at least a 50-50 chance something else would go wrong. Tuesday the 23rd, as I drove home from work, I imagined the inevitable phone message waiting for me. Sure enough, the answering machine light was blinking. It was Angela asking if they could bring it Wednesday afternoon instead of morning and trying to reassure me not to worry. They absolutely would bring it Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday I occupied myself with distracting chores all day. Mid-afternoon when the truck pulled into the driveway I was cautiously optimistic, skeptical, hopeful and doubtful all at the same time. I couldn't make small talk with Bob. After greeting him and pointing out just where the feet of the stove should go (even after six months of cleaning the floor, the marks where it used to stand were still there) I went upstairs to clean some more. Hours later, there it was in all its nearly new glory.

On the plus side, Bob charged me just what he'd estimated in August (twice what he'd estimated in June) tho' he said, and I believe, that he'd put quite a bit more labor into it than he'd estimated. On the down side, because of the paint and cement tempering and burning off, I couldn't cook our Thanksgiving turkey in it. Thank heaven for B's gas oven upstairs. Still, we did all our stovetop cooking on the Waterford and enjoyed it's warmth.

It was truly like watching the house awakening from a coma. And I was thankful. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Everyday Things

Years ago I read a cool book The Design of Everyday Things. In a modest way, it changed my life. I learned, among other things, that on doors in public places horizontal handles push out and vertical handles pull. It's hard to describe how much that simple concept has simplified my life.

Tonight I visited with a friend I haven't seen in years. She told me her daughter recently started a business in Human Factors consulting. Who knew that everyday things had become a "multidisciplinary field incorporating  psychology, engineering, industrial design" called Human Factors. And that this would lead to "World Usability Day."

I want to know more about this.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Latest Project

I'm torn between surprising Maggy and bragging about the latest DIY project. I'm betting that Maggy will be surprised when she sees this. And by Thanksgiving she will forget about it and still be surprised when she comes home.

I've avoided having guests for months because thanks to my four feline friends, my seventeen year old carpet is really, really embarrassing.



Taking out the old carpet was really the worst part of the project. This new wood product is a snap to install. It really won't allow you to do it wrong.



I like the new effect a lot! Can't wait to have company now.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I Love Summer

  • Sungold (very early, very sweet)
  • Snow White (sweet, juicy, refreshing)
  • Black Cherry (distinctive, rich flavor)
  • random green tomato I accidentally knocked off the vine
  • Sweet Chelsea (the red one in the back, sweet and juicy, big for a cherry.)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Reality Based Community

Two delightful rays of reality this week.

Mayor Bloomberg explains why construction of a Mosque near Ground Zero will proceed. We do not allow our government or individuals to interfere with each other's religious practices. Or with the lawful use of private property.

Federal Judge Vaughn Walker handed down a decision overturning California's ban on gay marriage. We don't allow a majority vote to deny human rights to a minority. Government's role in marriage is to record who is married and enforce laws that ensure that marriage partners are treated fairly. Individual religious beliefs may judge whose marriages are sanctified within a particular religion. But that is not the role of government.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Look

It's that time in summer when one welcomes a rainy day to catch up indoors. I should be balancing my checkbook. But Blogger has made it easier to change the blog template. So, here's a new look for you and an inspiration for me to write here more often.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Breakfast

Homegrown eggs and blueberries with Rosemary peasant bread from Wegmans. It just doesn't get any better.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wardrobe


I dragged a few bags of stuff out of my "hoarding" room to Salvation Army last week. My reward for this virtuous recycling was a chance to browse in the Salvation Army store. I scored a summer jacket, a pair of camel colored Ralph Lauren jeans and four shirts, including a perfect color and fit linen shirt and a beautiful silk shirt with a twill stripe accent - all for $20!





Here's the favorite peach colored linen ready for work.









And here it is after a day at the office. I know how it feels.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Belated Happy Birthday


Belated Happy Birthday to Maggy. Part of the reason Maggy lives in New York is that she doesn't want to own a car. Still, even as a rental, this Mustang convertible added a lot to her birthday experience.


Here's one of the gifts she gets to keep: Bill's painting of pigeons - Maggy's favorite New York wildlife.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Open Door Policy

During nice weather I often leave the door open a bit so the cats can come and go rather than trying to keep track of who's in and who's out. I don't have a kitty door because I really don't want 'possums and raccoons coming in. While Belinda was away, I put a note on the door reminding Bill not to let the cats in. I patiently tracked the cats down each morhing and put them out when I left for work, secure in the knowledge that when I came home the house wouldn't smell like the litterbox and I wouldn't trip over a cat herding me toward the kitchen. On weekends I spent blissful hours doing housework without tripping over cats. Housework went faster 'cause there was no litterbox to clean, no new stains on the carpet, no chipmunk parts to clean up and hardly any cat hair on the furniture. I could even sit down for a break without cats trying to settle on my lap.

It's more complicated when Belinda's home. I work late many nights. She believes, as the cats do, that they should eat at the same time every day preferably at the very predictable hour that she gets home. She feeds then and naturally doesn't want to wait for them to finish eating and go out for their after-dinner business. So, she leaves the patio door ajar. I accept this because the roomful of moths when I get home late is better than cleaning the litterbox and the carpet. (I can't wait to get rid of that carpet.)

Last night when I got home just before midnight, I muttered to myself about the open door and the kitchen light on, gave the kitties a snack and fixed some dinner for myself. For a while it was two cats in, one out, four out, two in, one out, etc 'til I stopped paying attention. An hour or so later, when I noticed that they were all asleep within arm's length of my chair, I pushed one off my lap and went downstairs to close the kitchen door. There was a furry face in the door. As I mentally re-counted the cats I left upstairs I realized it's one of the two young racoons who come to vandalize the birdfeeders every night. It's hard to blame him. The cats hadn't finished their midnight snacks and the dishes are just inside the door. I've never been very nice to the vandals, so he still doesn't like me much. When I say, "Shoo" he goes. But, I need a new door policy.

Please don't lecture me about rabies. I understand. I respect this pair of racoons and, for the moment, they respect me, too. Getting in my car and driving to work every morning is no doubt riskier than my occasional, brief interacttion with the racoons from a polite distance. Still, I need a new policy.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Indigo Bunting

I associate indigo with the color of blue jeans. But when you see this guy in the garden, no need to check the bird book. In this neighborhood, it can't be anything but an Indigo Bunting. Listen to its song and learn more about it at the wonderful Cornell Lab of Ornithology website. Thanks to Belinda for being here to see it and for fooling with my unfamiliar camera to document it.