Saturday, April 14, 2018

Mothra lives!

Polyphemus moth

This is Mothra.  DH found this in the parking lot at work this morning.  That's a parking lot stripe it is sitting on.  Yes, it really is that big!  Based on the extra 'furry' and large antenna, we believe this to be a male of the species.  They only live a short time, appearing like this for their breeding season.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Baby Fruits!

Well it looks like this week's freeze did not get cold enough to damage our fruit crop!  So far, we are seeing the blueberries set fruit pretty heavily for their second season in ground,
Santa Rosa Plums
Then we get to the plums!  Yay!  Lots of little plums all over both the trees.  They are growing fast too, as I saw them in the middle of last week, and they were much smaller that what you see above.  If the crop survives to maturity, I'm thinking plum jam sounds wonderful.
These are my two peach trees.   I thought I had a better picture of the little fruits, but I guess not.  The set is fairly heavy, especially on the eastern tree.  The western tree lost a main branch over the winter, so it has less branches available to set fruit.  I might cull the fruits on the western tree, to give it more time to recover from the winter damage.  I'll just have to see how desperate I am to have fresh fruit!

Sadly the apricots, though they fared well over the winter, did not bloom much at all and set no fruit this year.  Hopefully, next spring they will get up to speed and bloom heavily and set lots of apricots.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Learning curve - Minor remodel

For the last year and a half, more or less, DH and I have suffered with a "naked" reading room, aka bathroom stall.  It was once covered with wallpaper.  We are not fond of wallpaper.  One evening, DH was sitting there, reading, and began to pick at the wallpaper.  Unfortunately, some of it was put up with the wallpaper equivalent of Gorilla Glue!  We picked, and peeled, and ended up stripping down INTO the drywall.  Oops!

This is what the walls looked like for over a year!
Eventually we decided we would skimcoat the walls with drywall mud.  It's difficult to impossible to match texturing, so we thought smooth walls (like I grew up with) would be better, and couldn't be that hard to do.  I mean, you just mud the walls, smooth it out with a knockdown knife, sand it when dry, prime and paint...right?

Yeah, right.  Apparently there is an art to skim coating drywall, and neither DH nor I have the skill or artistic ability to achieve anything close to a smooth surface.  We applied so many skim coats of mud I swear the stall was shrinking!  Well, rather than pay someone to come skim coat the walls (and we have a much larger area that needs done in the entryway to the house), DH decided to go ahead and try his hand at texturing.  We already owned the necessary gear.  He just had to practice on some cardboard.  So practice he did!  Then onto the master bathroom.

He had some problems with the mud being a little chunky, which left lumps on the walls.  But then we realized we could lightly sand the mud, and get a nice surface.  The walls were all sanded, and it looks pretty darned good.
Then we found the main wall color in one of the paint cans we inherited with the house.  It's a pale yellow, and looks good.  And we like it better than the paint we used on our old house, which Monkey1 has dubbed Excessive Beige (Accessible Beige was the real name).
Painted! (different camera gives different wall color)
And finally the important hardware was added!  We've been without a roll holder since the wallpaper was peeled off!  But at last we were able to mount the one we've had in storage for 2 years now, and only just have been able to install it.  DH was even able to add a new electrical outlet, one with dual USB ports, so you can sit, surf and charge all at the same time. 
Reloads are on the back of the water tank.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Warm human on a cold day

Yesterday it was a bit chilly.  DH and I were both cold, even in the house.  So I lit a fire and grabbed a blanket, dozing off quickly.  Suddenly I was awoken by a gently applied weight...Indy decided he wanted a warm human to warm him by the fire!  He was very comfortable and we both dozed for a while.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Just when you thought...

Just when you thought things were looking up...DH sent me a text this morning, after heading to work in the Honda, that he'd need a ride home. What?? Apparently on the drive in, the electronics in the car died.  Then as he limped it to the garage, and parked, it would not restart.  This sounds eerily the Tundra did something like that back in 2016.  Not starting, electronics being goofy, engine dying whilest driving it... That turned out to ultimately be a $400 new alternator.  Bugger!  If it does turn out to be the alternator, I'm going to try the local alternator repair shop and see if they can fix us up for a LOT less money.

Tomorrow is National Stop The Bleed Day.  STB is a government program to teach anybody how to treat a human hydraulic fluid leak quickly (aka stopping the bleeding (hydraulic fluid)).  We're doing one of the classes tomorrow with a friend or two.  It should be fun, and involve consumption of Rudy's Breakfast Tacos!  If you've never had a first aid class, or if it has been a while, I highly recommend you check out the Red Cross offerings in your area as a place to start.  Then, remember next year, to sign up for a class on National Stop The Bleed Day.  They are often free, and may help you safe a life if you ever are in a trauma situation.  Think trauma won't happen to you?  Kitchen knives, broken glass, car crashes, chainsaw or table saw accidents...there are a myriad of ways to start bleeding.  It is a wise person who learns the best ways to Stop The Bleed!

I'm also miffed at the USPS.  No, not our local post office, but rather the Dallas Hub.  They've lost or delayed at least 3 packages of mine this week.  Most of them arrived in Dallas on Monday.  One I snagged Wednesday by getting the local super to pull it from the packages pile.  The others have never made it the 100 miles from D to here.  One has bounced repeatedly between the Coppell hub and the Dallas hub all week.  They KNOW it is supposed to come to Paris, because I'm seeing the item in my USPS Informed Delivery account (yes the PO will send you daily emails of your incoming mail and packages if you sign up for it).  One should arrive today, but the other is medicine that would be nice to get, before I run out!  Thank God it isn't DH's insulin being lost/delayed!  That would be ruined by now.  If you didn't know, insulin needs to be refrigerated until opened for use.  Once opened or warm, it's only good for 28 days.  Color me grumpy, this is the first bad service we've had in two years from USPS.

Well, time I guess to head into town to see what I can do for the Honda.  Maybe I can jump start it.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Two Outstanding Movies!

This week we opted to rent a pair of movies.  One I had heard of, the other was unknown by title, though I was well familiar with the star, Jackie Chan.  The movies are Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman, and The Foreigner, starring Jackie Chan.

I was most familiar with Oldman from some of his more outlandish performances, such as The Professional, and The Fifth Element, to name a couple.  He is a talented actor, but I was having problems seeing him in the lead role in Darkest Hour, a film about the first 2-3 weeks of Winston Churchill's tenure #1 as British Prime Minister.  I mean, he's a fairly lithe actor, with a bony facial structure...and lithe and bony Churchill was NOT!

However, being a history and WWII buff, and a fan of Churchill in general, I was willing to give it a chance.  I was not disappointed!  The film is excellent.  It is well worth renting.  The acting is excellent, the sets appear reasonably accurate historically, and the story compelling.  I do think they played Churchill a little too vulnerable compared to the historical truth, but I don't truly know.    Regardless, it was an enjoyable film.

The second film was Jackie Chan's The Foreigner.  I grabbed it, just because I enjoy Chan's films.  They're usually funny, action filled, and showcase a lot of martial arts.  Chan also does most of his own stunt work, (or did when he was younger).  I didn't even bother to read the box summary.  Had I done so, I would've been intrigued.

The basic plot is Chan plays an immigrant who has become a British citizen.  His daughter is killed in an IRA terror bombing, done by a new resurgent IRA which seems to be seeking to kick off the Troubles again.  Pierce Brosnan plays the second lead as a former IRA terrorist who has become a leading political figure in the 20 year peace.

What follows is a totally plausible story line, involving British/Irish politics, bombings, the IRA (old and new) and some interesting plot twists.  Having some passing familiarity with the Troubles in Northern Ireland, I was fascinated with this film.

It's not a comedy, not by a long stretch.  There's fighting, but not your typical Jackie Chan marital arts fest.  It's definitely NOT your typical Chan film.  But that notwithstanding, it is excellent!  It is an original tale, well acted on all parts, believable, and proves a great vehicle for Chan to showcase and stretch his acting ta lentsbeyond his previous light comedy and martial arts films.  It is probably his best film overall.

I heartily recommend both films!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Did it!

225# x2
This has been a goal of mine in the gym for a while.  Last night, I got it done!
(screenshot from video, just coming out of the bottom position)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Little things

Today was a day for little things.  Things got done, but not "big" projects.  We sort of needed a break too.  We rebuilt a firewood rack for the back deck.  I had salvaged it from the neighbors, who have a gas fireplace and didn't want it anymore.  Some fresh wood, and glossy black rattlecan, and it looks rather nice.
While I was working on the firewood rack, DH was building a new kindling rack for out by the woodpile.  This one is much deeper than our first racks of this basic design, and also used welded wire fencing to hold in the small pieces.  It should work a lot better, with fewer collapses of the kindling pile.
I split some wood, and while doing so, told DH of my desire for a piece of wood to block the splits from rolling back into my feet.  Some of the splits are rather large and heavy, and it is a goodly drop from the ram, to my toes!  And I don't always wear my steel toed boots to split wood...  So he ran with the concept, and built me a wood slide from some scrap wood and 2x4's.  You can see it there below in the photo.  It worked great!
We also helped our church get some supplies for the upcoming security light installation.  DH knew what was needed, and so we met one of the deacons at Home Despot Depot and got what was needed.  Next up, getting the installation done.

And of course, today was St.Patrick's Day.  And silly me, I forgot to wear my orange t-shirt.  My father, being an Orangeman, convinced me long ago to wear orange on St. Patrick's Day.  Strangely enough, in High School, there were only a couple of people who knew why I did it.  They were teachers, and a close friend or two.  Monkey1 did wear her orange t-shirt today though.  

The Monkeys sort of got a day off too.  They were dropped off at Petco, to help the local animal shelter with adoption day.  They walked a ton of dogs, and spent time with them.  Then they helped take down the pens, and get the dogs ready for transport.  They had a lot of fun, and their help was much appreciated.

And lastly FB reminded me today was the 3yr anniversary of Cody's passing.  It doesn't seem like it has been that long...I miss him.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Happy Husband is Best Husband!I

He's always working hard, when we go cut wood.  This tree is significantly larger than the 20" Stihl 311 chainsaw he had available.

I need a bigger saw!
Enter the new Stihl 460, sporting a 28" bar and chain.  Somebody's happy!
Now, that's a SAW!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Drying out?

Having just ended a 7-day period which saw us receive 13 inches of rain, with the last 3" coming last night, we are due to dry out, at least until Sunday, so they say.  Pine Creek is well out of its banks yet again today, flooding pastures on both sides of the main road into town.  So far though, it has not cut the road itself.

We find ourselves in the midst of several projects, both here at the casa, and through church.  Through church, we are running two water stops on the local half marathon on Saturday, and helping one of our members clear out a huge fallen tree on her lot.  We can't fix the hole the tree put in her roof, but at least we can chop up the tree once the insurance is settled.

Our other projects include continuing our demolition and remodel work on the house.  We have been diligently peeling wallpaper, scrubbing, sanding, and learning how to skim coat drywall with mud.  It is, for sure, a learning experience!  I have learned that I despise wallpaper!

We always wondered what this box was for...
Saturday was the day the kids and I were busy in the morning with helping support a half marathon.  DH stayed home to deal with the pool repair/electrician guy, who was coming to help diagnose a problem with the pool lighting.  Problem:  Pool lights quit working.  Answer: Bad GFCI.  Final answer:  WAY more complicated than just a bad GFCI...
Little black ants living in the wiring box.
The fix is still in progress, but what should have been a 30 min repair including the 20 min drive to the hardware store for parts, has devolved into a 6 hr  problem.  Turns out the wiring from the spa light, which runs to a box on the side of a tree in the dog-run (yeah....that's definitely gotta be code, bolting an electrical box to a tree!) has a short to ground in one of the wires.  But this can't be simple--the tree has grown around the offending conduits damaging the wiring and causing the short.

Well....the wiring was fixed, the lights worked, and now we know why the box was stuck on the tree where it was...yep, new problem to solve.  You know how water seeks its own level?  Yeah, ponder that one for a bit, and understand that the spa sits above where the wiring box now lives.  Yesterday sucked.  I can only hope and pray that today is better.

Friday, March 2, 2018


This is what happens when Hulk SMASH the recalcitrant can of green spray paint! It goes all 'splody!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Thus Endeth The Drought

Going to need to empty this soon!

Almost 5 inches of rain in the last 24hrs, with lots more forecast this week.  The ponds are overflowing, the roads are swamped, and hopefully the main route into town is not under water so that DH can make it home tonight!  Add to it, the temps dropped precipitously yesterday, from a high in the 70's to the mid 40's in less than two hours.  Today, it has struggled to make it into the lower 40's.  But it could be least it's NOT an ice storm!

Update:  Since I posted this, we have gotten an additional 5 inches of rain.  Lots of small creeks are flooding, but the sump pump kept us dry here.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Gunner's going to Nebraska!

Little Gunner, the deaf Jack Russell Terrorist mix whom we have been fostering, has left for his transport to the frigid central plains of Nebraska.  Being a mostly white dog, he should blend into the snow rather well!

Gunner's batteries finally ran out.
He was a great learning experience for us, here at Casa de Ridgeback.  We learned that even the most patient of hounds, Indy, has his limits.  We learned that when Indy is mad, he makes some impressive growls, snarls and snapping of his rather large teeth!  We learned that snarling makes Shiloh sneeze every time she does it.  We learned that JRTs love to be into everything, on top of everything, and have boundless reserves of energy.  They are very loving little beasties, but they don't take NO for an answer.
Gunner looking for trouble!
This last point was further enhanced by Gunner's deafness.  He simply could not hear when the other dogs growled at him to warn him off.  He would persist in pestering them.  It would escalate from there, with Gunner getting bitten or nipped, dogs would get yelled at to SETTLE.  Even human tempers were tested by this little guy.
Trying to boss Indy around.
But every morning, he would greet you like you were his bestest friend evah!  He'd wrap his paws around you, and wag his whole body, licking whatever bit of you he could reach.  He was known to jump up on your bed, (permitted or not!), straddle your neck and give your face a tongue bath until you managed to launch him off the bed.

Mom, Please stick to the Hound Group!
We all agreed we were glad to have pulled him for fostering.  Around here, a deaf dog was probably unadoptable.  And we all admit we are overjoyed his transport was today.  We wish him well in his new adventure and hope whoever adopts him will love him forever.  Perhaps though, our biggest lesson was that we should stick to fostering hounds.  It's just an easier thing to fit one extra hound into a house of three other hounds.   When our three saw Gunner being loaded into my truck yesterday, they all began to sprint around the house and pool deck, joyfully (I'm not joking here), just making sure he was really gone!

Good luck in your new home, Gunner!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Monday, February 12, 2018

The hazards of heating with wood

Yep, dropped an oak log on my slippered foot Sunday morning whilst stoking the woodstove.  You should've seen the bruise 30 min later!  It was impressive, even by my standards.  Roughly the size of half a racquetball, in both circumference and height.

By day's end, it had diffused over the whole upper foot.  Monday morning, It looks like this.  Nothing broken, but getting my lifting shoes on tonight will be a challenge.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Laying in next year's heat

A friend of ours is allowing us to cut firewood from some of her property.  Because summer is a time full of mosquitos, fire ants and ticks, heat and humidity, and poison ivy, the best time to cut wood, is the fall/winter.  

So as we continue to burn the wood we already have split and stacked, we are cutting next year's supply.   I had gone out a couple weeks back, and marked half a dozen trees to cut, and one huge fallen tree.  I wasn't sure the fallen tree was going to be usable, as wood here tends to rot quickly once on the ground.  But DH took the #3 hammer and thumped on the main trunk, and it sounded solid.  This particular tree was far too large for my smaller 16" saw.  It was almost too large for DH's 20" Stihl 311.
Big Orange rules the day!

He commenced to clear out some work space while I went to drop a pair of smaller trees.  As I am new to felling trees, I wanted some easier ones to clear and fell.  They dropped cleanly pretty much right where I wanted, so I was pleased.  After chopping them up, I went to see what was going on with the big tree.  
See that mess covering the base of the trunk?  That's what we have to clear out to finish cutting.

Well, it seems that big old oak was indeed still good!  DH was busily cutting it into more manageable rounds.  Turns out though, the rounds will need split on site, as they are going to be too large to lift into the truck.  Such fun!  I was glad he had the big tree to work on, as he does enjoy chainsawing stuff up.  I do think though, it's gonna cost me around $600 to let him buy a bigger saw!

The small trees, plus two of the bigger rounds.
The big tree has at least 30-40' of usable wood in it.  The rounds are almost too large (and some are) to load into the Gorilla Cart to haul over to the truck.  So DH, Monkey2 and I all rolled some of them over to the growing wood pile.  He wanted to clear out some of the rounds to make more safe workspace.  Rolling big rounds is a lot more work than you might think.  There's still another 10-15' or so of main trunk to cut.  We just have to unbury it from the mountain of undergrowth that has encased it.
Rolling a big round
  It was a lot of work yesterday, and everyone is still tired from it even today.  And there is more work to be done--the rest of the big tree, taking down 3-4 more marked trees, and then transporting it all home to split, stack and dry for next year. 
Someone's looking pleased!

Friday, February 9, 2018

The rest of my week...

I seem to recall promising to relate the tale of woe of the last week or so.  It all began when the Monkeys decided to wash the foster dog outside on the pool deck.  After hooking up the hose, and the sprayer nozzle, they turned on the water.  It apparently did not dismay them to see water pouring out the side of the house, around the spigot...thus they continued to bathe Gunner.  Every time they released the spray handle, the pressure increased in the line on the discharge side of the spigot valve...causing even more water to flow, (nay spray with great force!) inside the wall from the ruptured spigot pipe.  When they were done, they went inside, to discover the library, breakfast nook and master bedroom hallway somewhat water logged.  

I give them credit--they rapidly grabbed nearly every towel we own, and stgarted damage control procedures.  Then they told us... DH & I came in, saw the impending damage, as laminate flooring is NOT waterproof, and grabbed what few remaining towels we had hidden away, and began trying to dry things out.  The laminate still warped, though perhaps not as badly as we first feared.
My hero, fixing the pipe!
Still we had planned on replacing it anyway, just not quite so soon.  Now it was time for the Great Discount Tile Hunt!  Our first stops were the local HD big box, and another local small box flooring store.  The best we could get, on wood-look ceramic/porcelain tile was $1.79/sqft.  We need a lot of square footage.  So off to Sherman/Denison and McKinney, with a plan for last Saturday, to go to the Mega-Big Box store, Nebraska Furniture Mart.  Now McKinney is a 3hr roundtrip, with NFM adding about 40min total to that.  So we decided to hit the McKinney Habitat for Humanity ReStore first, which just so happens to generally have a nice selection of tile flooring.  

My truck, under a heavy load.
Lucky for me, we were able to find a wood-look tile we liked, at a much better price!  So we bought a bunch of it.  And I got to skip going to NFM!  Now, how to haul 76 boxes of tile home, each weighing #60?  I have a truck.  But it's only a half-ton V-6, and a midsized bed (not 8' long).  The folks at ReStore attempted to forklift a 44-box pallet into the bed.  I thought the truck was gonna blow a shock, or have a spring fail, it squatted so low!  I swapped that for a 27 box pallet, and though not thrilled, the truck was able to haul it home after DH's Squat Camp finished.  
Wrapped against the rain.

Tuesday, I had to rent a trailer, to go fetch the remaining #2940 of tile (aka 49 boxes).  I had them split the load between trailer and truck, since the trailer wasn't rated for that much weight by itself either.  Add to it, rain, and the impending threat that day, of freezing rain, and it made for an interesting if slow (top speed was 65mph) trip home!
Once home, the Monkeys helped unload the truck and trailer, and stash most of it in the garage, out of the way of the gym equipment.  The rest is underneath the breakfast nook table, out of the way.

Some of our stash of tile.

 We certainly have our work cut out for us now.  With the cost of installation well outside our acceptable price range, we are going to do it ourselves.  It won't be our first time installing tile, but it will be the largest area installed we've ever done.  Wish us luck!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Rest in peace, Dino

Samantha and Dino in happier days
It has been an eventful week.  Today, a mystery has been solved, I'm feeling a tad guilty, and sad, as is my oldest Monkey, and it's a lot quieter around here. 
Guineas and green summer grass.
Quieter, you say?  Well, yes, in a sense.  I know Gunner barks enough to wake the dead, but not apparently enough to awaken a dead Dino the guinea fowl.  Dino was found decapitated in the chicken run, much like Samantha the other guinea who predeceased him by a year or more.  This is odd, because last night, Monkey1 and I discussed leaving Dino out to roost on top of the chicken run, in his usual location.  Keeping him in the coop overnight irritates the chickens, because he doesn't much like them and he picks on them.  I told her to leave him out.  She agreed it would be ok for him to be outside, for it wasn't particularly cold.

Mr GHO is quite displeased! Thank goodness he did not go through the door at the top of the ramp!
How he came to be INSIDE a locked run, made mostly of heavy gauge wire strong enough to house a Serval Cat, became apparent when Monkey1 saw the new resident of the run.  Mr Owl.  Mr Great Horned Owl to be specific.  Mr Owl had crashed into Dino atop the run, some time in the night, and their ensuing roll across the top of the coop run broke loose the stapled chicken wire that seals the coop building to the wire run.  It's always been a weak point, but I didn't realize just how weak.  The combined weight and struggle of Dino and Mr Owl was enough to strip all the staples from the bottom of the chicken wire where it attached to the coop wall.  They then fell into the run, with the wire rebounding into place, preventing Mr Owl from escaping.
Let me OUT, human!

Look at that wingspan!

Beautiful eared owl.
 Dino did not survive.  The owl was trapped in the run.  Monkey1 phoned me in a panic, while I was headed to the mandatory homeschool group semester meeting.  After instructing her to just open the people sized run door, Mr Owl was able to scoot out and fly up to the trees to glare at everyone.  Monkey2 did the needful, recovering the remains from under the coop building, and verifying none of the hens inside the coop, were harmed.  Then they all (Monkeys 1,2,&3) dug a grave atop Mt Weather in back of the shop, and Dino was laid to rest, along side his mate, Samantha.  The similarity in cause of death of both guineas leads me to believe that Samantha was also killed by an owl, and not the raccoon we had first suspected.  It actually makes more sense, if you knew the layout of the backyard.

R.I.P. big guy!

I do plan to allow the Monkeys to get at least a pair of new chicks (hens not guineas) to replace the two we have lost since starting the Great Chicken Adventure.  Maybe even a total of 4, to get us to where I would like the flock size to stabilize.  Provided one of our hens goes broody this spring and we can sneak 4 chicks under her.  Hopefully, the owl's unpleasant experience will make him leave my hens alone from now on!  As to the other events of this week, that will have to wait for another post...
Mr Owl, glaring at us from the trees after his release.