Friday, November 29, 2013

before and after



The family arrived about 1:30ish, food and kids spilling out of their truck. Still too cold to hang out outside so Xbox games were played, TV was watched, words were chatted while we waited for the turkey to finish cooking and then the dressing and then the warming up of the other dishes. I never think to take pictures these days.

Mike and Sarah went across the street to check out the auto shop that's for sale. Mike's hobby and nascent business is restoring old cars and trucks and he's ready to get a place big enough to hold all his toys and to have a place out in the country. Their plan is to put their city house up for sale at the beginning of the year and hopefully buy that place and then rent in the city until the kids all get out of school. I'd be very happy to have that happen as the only drawback to being out here is that I'm so far away from the kids and grandkids on a daily basis.

It will be weird though, once their house sells, not to have them next door when we are in the city. For most all of 36 years I have had Sarah and then Sarah and her family either in my house or right next door. I'll have to make the special effort to go visit them every time.

I've always liked the Mexican family compounds. Every part of the extended family has their own little house, sharing a central courtyard and as it is right now, the whole family, when we are in the city, is together in a 100' x 100' space. The Boy and Leesa will still be close though since they are still in the city house.

Anyhoodle, as my friend Janine says, eventually food was eaten, dishes done, candles lit, presents opened, and the parental unit skedaddled home.

About twice a year, I let the grandkids divvy up all my accumulated change and this year I added in some rolls of quarters and dimes and nickles I had rolled up years and years ago and Marc threw in one of his containers of accumulated change and they scored $30 and some change each. So we played dreidel for awhile and eventually I went to bed.

So now I have a house full of sleeping teenagers. Except for the grandboy. He's always up early no matter how late he stays up.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

getting ready

I can't believe it took me all freakin' day yesterday to make the dressing for today's meal. And I haven't even cooked it yet.

I started about 11 AM and I swear it was after 5 PM when I finally walked out of the kitchen.

I had made the cornbread Tuesday and set it and the white bread out to get stale overnight. So I started in trimming the crust off and cubing the bread. Next was crumbling the cornbread. Note to self: one recipe of cornbread makes enough for two recipes of dressing. So now I'm wondering what the hell I'm going to do with all this leftover semi-stale cornbread. I'll worry about that later, I decided, as I stuck it in the freezer. The crusts I'll reduce to bread crumbs for future use.

Next, I started chopping the onions, using up the last of our homegrown ones, and the green onions, celery, and parsley. Then cook the bacon, saute the vegetables, melt the butter, beat the eggs, add the seasoning, and mix it all together with the chicken stock.

About every five minutes or so my grandboy, who I fetched from the city Tuesday evening and who is rearranging the furniture for me in the big room, my studio room, is calling me to come look at this, where do I put that, where do you want the other, and do you want to clean the floor over here before I put the desk there?

There were other distractions. Like General Hospital coming on and Robin is racing to the church where her husband, who thinks she died in a fire two years ago but she was actually being kept prisoner to develop a drug to cure an all round evil-doer of some sort of poisoning and has finally escaped, is about to get remarried and will she make it in time?

Like stopping for lunch.

Like rearranging my kites in the big room after the grandboy was through getting it all put back together.

I got the cranberry sauce made after dinner last night while Marc cooked one of the turkeys. Another smaller one goes in today along with the dressing. 

So now it's about 8:30 on Thanksgiving Day morning and the grass in the back of the Big Back Yard and in the 13 Acre Field is crunchy with frost. We've been having our coldest weather of the year so far this past week. Big Mama is hunkered down in her pond.

Our daughter and her family will arrive sometime today with the rest of the food. The other three grandkids along with the grandboy will be staying through Sunday. Unfortunately, our son and DIL will not be coming after all. He started coming down with one of the seasonal cruds that goes around where he works.

I still haven't managed to get any housecleaning done.

Monday, November 25, 2013

internet exchange

I read a guy's blog post this morning about an encounter he had with the police which was nominally about the gun culture here in this country. This particular man refuses to subscribe to the culture of fear so rampant in this country. He does not let fear control what he does or when he does it or where he does it. By the same token he does not own a gun. Neither is he deluded about the safety, or lack there of, of the streets. He prefers to not live in fear and just be vigilant.

The encounter he had with the police was that he was working in his office when he became aware of two people in the hall testing the door knob to see if it was locked. He walked over to the door and suddenly opened it to find two policemen pointing their guns at him.

They didn't shoot, obviously, and that was his point, comparing trained and psychologically prepared police with the average citizen with a gun reacting with the fear with which they live their lives.

Scrolling through the comments, of course he got his share of the 'guns are my right' crowd, one of whom referenced the Second Amendment. Or rather part of the Second Amendment, the part about the right to keep and bear arms so I reminded him of the rest of that, the part that precedes it that says 'a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state'. Can't just quote the phrase you like best.

Of course he replied, quoting some Supreme Court decision that guaranteed the right to bear arms to which I replied that we have that part well in hand, now let's work on the well regulated part.

His response was predictable. He made assumptions about me, then insulted me in a condescending manner because of those assumptions. Essentially he patted me on the head and told me it was OK to just go on being a soccer mom but to stay out of discussions I didn't understand or else do some research and quoted some other Supreme Court decision as he explained that 'well regulated' meant 'well equipped'. Earlier he had used the term 'soccer mom' in a derisive manner to describe those who are uninformed spouting off opinions on things they don't understand.

What is it with those people? Are they totally incapable of having a civil conversation?

I'm certainly not an expert on all the law and court cases surrounding the Second Amendment but I have read about it on several past occasions. This ain't my first rodeo after all. And I will do quick searches before posting a comment to make sure I can back up my post. So I did a quick search of the meaning of well regulated as defined by those who used it in that context and it did indeed mean well equipped.

It also meant thoroughly trained and well disciplined, men the country could rely on in time of need to protect itself. I also read that the phrase 'to bear arms' almost exclusively referred to 'in military service'.

I made one more reply. I rebuked him for the condescending attitude and insult, I told him I was neither unintelligent nor unread and I didn't need him to mansplain things to me, and I directed the conversation back to the Second Amendment and the complete meaning of 'well regulated', something that our current culture and society is far from. I certainly wouldn't trust my defense to a peacock strutting around in a parking lot brandishing his AK-47 in a deliberate attempt to intimidate a few 'soccer moms' upset at the level of gun violence in this country.

The thing is, I really don't have a problem with the Second Amendment as written by the Founders because what they wrote, what they intended, what they meant is not what we see in this country today. Citizen's owning a gun that they are competent to use for defense is one thing. The wacko with his conspiracy delusions stockpiling weapons and ammunition and fomenting insurrection is not what the Second Amendment was supposed to protect.

So, I ended my final reply to that guy by telling him I expected he would reply probably with more insults and maybe even some profanity because I didn't acknowledge his superiorness but that I was giving him a gift anyway, the last word.


I see a notice that he has responded once more. Good for him.

I won't be reading it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

some winter images

I still find it incomprehensible that we had the air conditioner on in the truck driving home last Thursday night from the city and the very next morning cold wind and rain from the north and dropping temperatures had us turning on the heat by the end of the day. It has remained cold and windy and humid, though the wind seems to have died down mostly today. Enough so that I actually got outside a bit.

Temperature range has been mostly in the 40˚s inching up, maybe, to the very low 50˚s for a short while which made Saturday at the antique store very slow. Still I had a few people come in, more than I expected. I spent the time shelling pecans, playing solitaire, and photographing some of the stuff in the store listening to NPR.

So our initial plan for next week was to head into the city tomorrow and try and get as much done Monday and Tuesday and then come home Tuesday to get ready for the family to come here on Thanksgiving but with this cold weather, colder than had initially been predicted, has caused us to reconsider.

The work that has to be done now is the sandblasting and that is not a heated or air conditioned space. It's a walk-in closet type of affair with air piped in and air blown into Marc's helmet type of affair and it will be just too damn cold for him to work out there.

It was going to be a short work week anyway and the grandkids will be staying for the rest of the long weekend. The grandboy called tonight, he's ready to come after school on Tuesday.

In anticipation of being gone and before we reconsidered our plans for next week, I brought the plumerias and bromeliads and desert rose and nun's orchid and staghorn fern in as it will be dipping down into the 30˚s Tuesday and Wednesday nights. They would still have had to come in but not until tomorrow or so.

The cat is not happy with the cold weather. She wants in or out every time the door opens until this last time when she looked out and then changed her mind. So she is charging around the house meowing instead.

Did I say something about winter images?

I've been seeing large groups of geese flying south though this bunch was headed NE.

The buddha does not feel the cold.

The small forest of plumerias (three more are in the garage) and other tropicals.

Friday, November 22, 2013

work and the city house

We're back home, got home late last night after a long day yesterday. Tuesday we picked up the glass, got the copies of the design, cleaned and covered the glass for stencil cutting, and I started the stencil. It took all day Wednesday just to cut out the peacock part of the design. Thursday I had two appointments in the afternoon plus I had to get some signs ordered for the open house in December and finish the stencil. We didn't leave Houston til 7:30.

The meetings yesterday were consultations for two of the proposals I wrote last week. They have both OKed the money and so now we are working on the designs. One of the things prospective clients always want to know is 'how long?'. With the rest of this year being all about the holidays, not much else gets done. I've promised both to have drawings and samples by the end of the year.

When asked about a time frame, I told the architect at my first meeting that I was meeting with another job right after that was certain to come in and the one who sends their deposit first gets priority. 'How do you want that', she asked, 'check or charge?'. So I expect I'll be getting a deposit from her client soon.

While I was in town I thought I would check and see if the hackberry tree that had volunteered on the far side of the house and been cut down during the summer had put up any new growth. I had to push my way through hummingbird bush and heritage rose gone wild and dense to get between the house and the fence but I never got as far as where the hackberry tree had been because...

Because the yellow angel trumpet that a friend in North Carolina had sent me in the form of a small cutting was grown large and in full bloom. I have never seen it like this, ever. It must have 100 blooms on it.

Well maybe not 100 but 60 or 70 at least. And I was amazed at how tall the banana trees had gotten over the summer.

The totally neglected small back yard in the city is now totally overgrown with three blooming invasive plants...bridal veil wandering jew (white), mistflower (blue), and wedelia (yellow).

It was so warm while we were in town that we drove home last night with the air conditioner on. Woke up this morning to cold wind and rain that has the temperatures dropping enough that tonight, 24 hours later, we may be having the heater on.

Monday, November 18, 2013

attempted theft

We're getting ready to head into the city to work on the peacock panel since the glass arrived the right size and undamaged. As if I don't have enough to deal with just getting ready to do that, the cat got attacked last night and I have to take her in to the vet before we go.

I wanted to write about the change in the attitude of the weather overnight. Still warm and balmy but we seem to have shifted from early fall, which is very springlike, to winter fall which is still warm with intermittent cool/cold days. The couple of cold nights we had earlier last week triggered what little color we have for fall which is mostly yellow and brownish orange. Depending on when that first cold snap comes sometimes we get red too and the leaves, which have been sparsely dropping for weeks, now I think will be dropping sincerely. Raining leaves.

So overnight, the cat has puncture wounds, the weather shifted, and something tried to drag the trash can off.

This is where I found it this morning, top still locked in place, still half full of garbage. The red arrow shows where it was when I went to bed last night.

Friday, November 15, 2013

work and weather

I've been working on proposals all this past week.

I had three appointments all on the same day last Thursday and all three residences are basically in the same area. Before my last appointment, as I was driving there from my previous one, I passed a house with the architect's sign out front, you know like contractors put in yards when a house is being worked on. I wondered if that was the house and as it turned out, it is.

So now the proposals are done and two are submitted via email being budget figures as opposed to doing sketches as well. The last one I will present next week when we are in town to finally work on the peacock window.

Have I mentioned the peacock window? Our current job, a 4' x 4' window above the tub in a bathroom. The client wanted a peacock with a waterfall in the background. I've had the art work done for a week.

The first time they delivered the glass, it had a big chip in it. The second time they delivered the glass it wasn't the right thickness. It is supposed to be delivered again on Monday.

We've also been working on stuff for the open house in December. Marc has cast three small bowls though they have yet to be cleaned up. I'll do that part. He got all the holes drilled for me in the embossed glass window or garden ornaments I did so now I have to get them rigged up with the wire for hanging.

That looks to be all we will get accomplished for the open house before it's time for since we will be working on the peacock window pretty much between now and then.

Been a pretty boring week around here all in all though we did get two nights of our coldest weather yet, down in the 30s. We actually turned the heater on for the first time.

It's off now as it warmed up nicely today. This will be our pattern pretty much until after the first of the year when it may stay consistently cold.

Or not.


How long do you think it will take a rat to decompose after it's been buried?

I've been thinking I might dig it up after an appropriate amount of time and retrieve its little skull. Clean it up and polish it and put it someplace with one of my little collections.

Does that seem weird?

There is an artist that works with skulls, Jessica Joslin, and I love her work. Maybe I could send her the little rat skull to make something for me.

sculpture by Jessica Joslin


Monday, November 11, 2013

the rat esta muerta

The rat is dead.  

It's time had come.

We must go to the city to start fabrication on a job and I did not want to leave with a live but poisoned rat in the walls of my house.

I sleep on the couch a lot.  It's comfortable, I like something at my back.  I like to wait til the snoring dies down before I stumble into bed.  And last night about 2 o'clock I heard the rat gnawing, not in its usual place, in the wall behind the toilet, but in the most diametrically opposed part of the house as was possible.  Which is the corner of the combo living/dining space. Where the couch is.

damn damn damn

I'm stomping on the floor, smacking the wall with the spine of a book.

stop it stop it stop it!

Oh, all the gods that are and ever were, please let this be the same fucking rat.

If you are squeamish, I recommend that you don't read any farther because I commenced to dispatch that rat the next day.

I made a trip to the store to find a pair of long handled tongs of the barbecue kind with which to grab the rat with the intent of dunking said grabbed rat into a five gallon bucket of water.

I couldn't find any.  But what they did have was a 2 tined fork with sharp pointy points on the tines.  For $1.  Not my first choice but you go with what you got.

On the drive home, I'm psyching myself up for the deed.  I can do this.  I can stab that rat and dunk him in a bucket of water.  I can do this.

So, I get home and assemble my tools.  I go retrieve the old mop handle from the small garden that I am using for a divider between the carrots and the lettuce and duct tape the handle of the barbecue fork to the end of the pole to make it a spear.  I'm having fantasies of a warrior preparing for battle against a rat asleep in it's nest.  Then I fill the 5 gallon bucket with water and cart it into the small bedroom.  I gather the screwdriver and the flashlight and the stool.  

So I have everything in the little bedroom, outside the closet.  The whole time I'm talking to the rat telling it that I'm sorry that I am the agent of its death, that its time as a rat is up and I hope that it climbs the incarnational ladder.  I am giving it a step up.

Are you praying in there, Marc calls.

Yes, I tell him.  Because that's what I'm doing I guess.  Though I am not praying to any deity but to the rat.

And so I opened the panel and tried juggling the flashlight, panel, and spear.   There was the rat in its nest waked from his sleep.  My hope was a single successful thrust through an opening about 3" x 10" at an angle...which was of course a failure.  The clothes interfered, the flashlight not aimed well, the rat evaded.

I removed clothes from the closet, I called to Marc to come hold the flashlight.

My second thrust is successful though I cannot tell exactly where I have it pinned.  I'm pretty freaked out that I have just bayoneted this rat with a barbecue fork duct taped to a broken mop handle.

If you are one of my FB connections you probably saw this:

OMG!  I just bayoneted a rat with a barbecue fork duct taped to a broken mop handle.

Now, I was afraid to try and pull it out for fear it was not well skewered and I would have to do it again.  But I did finally get it into the bucket of water and ended its misery as soon as possible.

After I cleaned out the nest, rat mummy and all, and found the hole in the sub-floor that it had gnawed next to the sewer vent, I buried it at the edge of the field.  I didn't want to throw it in the trash because it would rot and stink and I didn't want to just throw it out in the field for fear that the poison bait it had eaten would poison anything that ate it.  So, I buried it.

I stuffed the hole with steel wool and we will get some of that expanding foam to help seal it.  

I just hope I don't hear any gnawing tonight in the front corner of the house.

edit: and indeed I did not.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

if I was keeping score I'd have to say the rat is winning

I'm finding my compassion for the rat is waning. The little bastard is still there!

I was gone to the city all day last Thursday so I didn't check on the rat and the progress of the poison until Friday morning.

Actually, I woke up Friday morning to the sound of the rat gnawing away inside the wall. A rude way to wake up. Thirty minutes later, the cat hacked up a hairball on my work table. An hour or so after that, we discover that rabbits had chowed down on five of the broccoli plants in the garden.

Friday was not starting out well.

I checked on the rat after breakfast and he looked nice and comfy and healthy in his nest and totally unconcerned with the flashlight shining in his face. The first hunk of poison bait had been gnawed on so I was thinking that this was the beginning of the end but I dropped another one in there for good measure and closed up the sheetrock panel.

Next on the agenda was fencing the garden. Like I didn't have anything else to do that day.

That accomplished, I worked in the dirt and compost in the little garden and got it ready to plant, finally. It was getting dark though so I didn't get it planted.

Not that I minded working out in the yard Friday as it was a beautiful day.

But back to the resident rat.

I didn't have time this morning as I needed to get to work at the antique store and I wanted to go by the farmer's market on the way, so I didn't check on him til I got home.

He was curled up happily in his nest, had pushed both bait chunks as far away as he could (although both had been gnawed on), and did not look at all like he was suffering from poisoning.

How long does it take that shit to work?

I had a long aluminum pole and I commenced to attack him with it. Poking and poking and stabbing. I know it took several direct hits but still it did not leave. Shit, I don't even know how the hell it got in there in the first place. It must have a way out.

So I closed up the panel once again to wait til tomorrow morning for the next attack.

Oh, and here's the fun part. I noticed something I hadn't noticed before, focused on the rat and all. There is a mummified rat carcass in the space next to his nest.


I'm beginning to think I'm going to have to get a pair of long handled barbeque tongs to just grab the little bastard and drag him out.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

the rat did not wander off into the sunset

I did something today that I'm not happy about. I weighed my options and really it was the only one available to me. But I didn't like it. Don't like it and wish I could have done something else.

What I did was put poison out for a rat.

Poison strikes me as a cowardly act.

You might remember last summer when I had two of my grandkids help me clean out a rat's nest in the garage. It had moved in while we were so busy with all that work earlier in the year, gone three or four days out of every week, and had gnawed holes in a glass crate that was big enough for my cat to walk through with no problem.

After we cleaned out his nest and stopped propping the garage door open and closed off his other entry hole, I thought he had left for greener pastures because he didn't seem to be around any more.

Until about a week or two ago.

When I heard gnawing in the wall behind the toilet.

On the other side of that wall is the closet in the second, smaller, bedroom, the one that Marc uses for an office. And on the back wall of that closet, which is the other side of the wall against which sits the toilet and the sink, and in the closet side of the wall is a large panel of sheet rock that unscrews to be removed to get to the plumbing if need be.

The little dogs were here for a few days while my sister was visiting her stepson and grandkids and the little male dog, Merlin, was very interested in the closet and the spot out in the Little Backyard where the pipe comes out from under the house and underground into the septic system. I finally had to close the door to the office to keep him out of there.

So, today, I got a screwdriver and a flashlight and removed that piece of sheetrock and found myself face to face with a rat who was being disturbed from its sleep. Not even close to being a mouse.

There was a 2 x 4 stud and on the other side of that stud was a small space where it had made it's nest. And it was curled up in that nest looking up at me shining the flashlight.

Looking totally not scary and confused.

Shit. Damn.

damn damn damn

Well, now what the hell am I gonna do.

I put the sheet rock back in place and went to the feed store.

My first choice would be a live trap and turn it loose in the fallow corn field. But I've tried live traps before and they don't work. At least not on mice and rats. At least not the one I tried.

So the rat has to go. It can't live in the walls of my house. It's smelly and destructive.

I don't like killing things. Not even mice and rats.

I won't use glue traps because I think those are inhumane. Anything that makes an animal chew off it's own leg to survive is unacceptable. So I generally use spring traps after the humane trap has failed four or five times, as if spring traps are humane. My hope is that they are killed instantly but I know that's not always the case.

But a humane or spring trap was not possible here without giving the rat access to the inside of the house which is also unacceptable.

I bought poison. And I opened that sheetrock panel and shined my light on that rat with it's innocent face, it was just being a rat after all, and I dropped that chunk of poisoned food right into it's nest and closed the sheetrock panel back up.

And screwed it back in place.


toad lily



image via:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

confederate rose, sunsets, rain

I have a bunch of pictures that I've been taking but haven't been posting so...

My confederate rose that volunteered last year mid-spring from the two weirdly diseased older specimens has been blooming beautifully. I have kept the two older ones cut to the ground since no one can tell me what the problem is, hopefully to prevent them from infecting the new one. Actually three volunteered but I gave two of them away.

This one has the flowers opening white and turning pink before they close at the end of the day (or the next day if the weather is cold) and although I have seen other shrubs that did that, my others never did.

Confederate roses aren't really roses. They are in the mallow family along with hibiscus, cotton, and okra.


We have been getting some unbelievably gorgeous sunsets. The view, standing at the back of the property looking south and west over the 13 Acre Field, is one of the big reasons we bought this place.

And another.


One of the reason for the sunsets is we are getting our fall rains. We are in a continuing drought with this year being worse than last but not as bad as the one previous to that. Even so, we have not had a hard continuous rain for a very long time. Until last Thursday. Heavy rain for half a day and if Frank's rain gauge is accurate, we got 3 1/8”.

Water in the ditch, something not seen for several years.

Water standing in the yard!