Friday, March 30, 2018

a visit from the land of Blog

House clean, mostly, by Wednesday evening, still need to do the floors and wipe down the kitchen cabinets which maybe I'll do this weekend. It's so sparkly! So, ready for Joanne's and Laura's visit Thursday when Bill the plumber and Rocky descended on the house yesterday morning. Bill wasn't supposed to get to me til next week at the earliest but Wednesday afternoon Rocky dropped by to say Bill had had a cancellation and slipped me in the open slot. Water off, water on, water off, water on, water off (I'm hoping it's on by the time my guests arrive). Marc asks how long til the water is on again, Bill hollers up to Rocky in the almost done up there, the man has to take a shit. So water back on and they actually finish up and are gone before Joanne and Laura arrive.

gone are the old galvanized pipes replaced with flexible plastic tubing

And the weather also cooperated, the big rainstorm with attendant lightning and thunder (and a trembling dog) during the night gone by morning leaving us a cooler but nicely warm day with a blue sky and flowers in the yard intact.

I don't remember how long I've been reading Joanne's blog, Cup On The Bus, but it's been years. Joanne is a small feisty woman in her 70s who took on raising three of her grandchildren, rescuing them from certain dismal futures, the last of which is Laura still in residence, the other two having gone on to college and their adult lives. For some unknown reason, Joanne and Laura decided to take a road trip from Ohio to Texas during Laura's spring break to visit Joanne's cousin and a commenter on her blog and me. Her cousin and Rose live outside Dallas which is a near 5 hour drive from here and they arrived around noon.

This is the third meet up I've had with fellow bloggers, people I have read for years and feel like we are good friends but still, you never know how these things are going to go and so I was a little anxious. Silly since the other two meet ups were like seeing old friends after a long absence and meeting Joanne and Laura was exactly the same.

After lunch at the house I showed off my work, we checked out the shop, did a little driving tour of this Podunk town, and then sat out in the big back yard enjoying the weather and talked and talked and talked until it was time for dinner. 

16 year old Laura entertained herself wandering in and out of our conversation 

picking up rocks and looking through the pots of seashells which she was really interested in that sit outside having told her to pick what she wanted to take with her and to pick one of the glass totems scattered about the yard for their garden as well.

I had invited my sister to go to dinner with us so 6ish we went to get her and Laura took pictures of my sister's extensive shell collection acquired during the 5 years she and her husband lived in the family beach house before we sold it. When we dropped her off after dinner she had us wait a moment and came back out with a 4” spiral shell and a shark's tooth for Laura. Joanne told her she made out big time or, as we say down here I said, you made out like a bandit. Bandit?, Laura queries. Yeah, you're making off with all the goods. 

So back to the house, Joanne and Laura headed back to their hotel and off early this morning for their long drive to get home in time for Laura to get to school on Monday and Joanne to go play cards with the Methodists.

Once again I have a good friend who lives very far away. Would that she and I lived closer and could get together regularly.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

high spring photo dump

Spent the weekend working in the yard weeding and pruning and moving some things around and watering and pulling up hay grass. I have filled the wheelbarrow once and it's half full again and you can't even tell! All that seed was moved into the yard from the 12 acre field behind us by the flood, the gift that keeps on giving. Well since the st. augustine grass has died in big patches over the last two years, the yard is more of a meadow anyway.

Bill the plumber showed up yesterday and so I won't see Rocky again until the end of the week while they get the water back on at my neighbor's house as her need is much greater than starting on the little bathroom. And as I'm anticipating a visit from fellow blogger Joanne from Cup On The Bus and granddaughter Laura on Thursday, I started the onerous task of dusting ah, if only it was as simple as swishing a duster around. It's one thing to live with the layer of dirt on everything, another thing entirely to let people see that you live with a layer of dirt on everything. So while I busy myself with spring cleaning, here's more flower porn.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

farm girl and stuff

Well, wasn't I the optimistic one. The chair rail and crown moulding did not get finished and the glass did not get installed last week. Oh well. Thursday they worked over at the house on the other end of the street who is also waiting for the plumber and said plumber had said he might be available Thursday and they need more important plumbing work than we do and so I thought that Bill the plumber had in fact showed up but I was wrong about that. They worked on her carport which is leaking and Rocky, because he isn't busy enough, got a call from his mother-in-law about some work at her house and could he take care of it so he left town Thursday afternoon for West Texas.

I did stuff Thursday but I couldn't tell you what besides go to an estate sale with my sister which took up about an hour of my time. Friday, went and got a couple of bags of dirt and compost and mulch from the feed store and some zucchini and cucumber starts and a jalapeno and some green bean seeds and butternut squash seeds and corn seeds. I've never grown corn before and I think the GMO corn fields are far enough away to prevent pollen drift so, what the hell, I'm gonna try it. I don't expect it will be very successful as I'm only planting a small plot 4' x 6' and they tell me corn does best in big groups.

baby chicks and baby ducks and baby rabbits!

So today I got everything planted and I'd show you a picture but it would mostly just be of the dirt so you'll have to wait until everything grows a little. I still have one section of the big bed that hasn't been planted and I thought that I would plant more green beans there in a couple of weeks but maybe I'll just fill it in with corn. I want to do potatoes again this year but that means buying another raised bed and the dirt to fill it. First I guess I'll see if I can find seed potatoes.

So, stuff planted and I hauled over two 5 gallon buckets and the watering can full of water and used all that up pronto and everything over there, not just the gardens, needed a good watering since we haven't had a good rain in weeks so I said to hell with this and went and got the hose in the Little Backyard and hooked it up to the hose in the front yard and drug it across the street to where I poked the end through the chainlink fence and attached the hose across the street to that and since the first coupling was in the street though off to one side I got the bucket full of magnolia seed pods don't ask and set it next to the coupling so my neighbors wouldn't run over it. In the meantime, Marc is disconnecting the water line at the meter so we can try and flush out the stopped up pipe that runs underground from the meter to the faucet on the shop with the hose attached to the faucet at the house. No such luck but from the amount of water that drained out of the faucet afterwards, the clog should be fairly close to the shop but still underground. Anyway, I did give the gardens and everything over there a good watering before I dismantled the hoses. Then I weeded the azaleas around the pecan tree which is coming out so no more cold weather 

and fertilized the azaleas and watered them and put down a layer of mulch.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

dead june bugs and mosquito hawks everywhere!

June bugs in March. That's just wrong but it seems that they have been emerging in March for several years now so I guess this is the new normal. March bugs. And maybe they aren't dead, just exhausted. They are insanely attracted to light and, being the poor flyers they are despite having two sets of wings, they quickly tire themselves out. Bumble bugs would be a better description. It's really bad for the june bug to fall to the ground in exhaustion because then they become somebody's dinner. They certainly provided Minnie a good deal of entertainment for a couple of days as she darted around the house snapping at the air. Because of course they were in the house because of the open door and all (the dirt daubers seem to have given up for now since I started batting at them with a small towel and capturing them under a plastic tub while I carried them out and in general made life miserable for them) and their weird attraction to light. The last two mornings I've scooped up the dozen or two spent june bugs laying on their backs woefully waggling their little legs in the air and tossed them out the door. The mosquito hawks I just sweep up. They tend to migrate to the window sills and corners. And they are definitely dead.

So all else I've got is the Rocky and Gunner Show and high spring. Driving the 12 miles to El Campo for yoga tonight, the evening primrose has exploded in the median of I-59. It's a gorgeous carpet of various shades of pink and I've passed several fields this past week blanketed in yellow. The bluebonnets in front of the house are at peak and a stray poppy is blooming amongst them at the edge of the street, 

the seed deposited by the flood from the garden in back in which poppies have also started blooming. 

I see how the flood, as horrible as it was at the time it was happening, has been good. This land needed a good deep soaking and the result is reflecting in the growth going on around me, large and lush. For those things that survived anyway. The farmer just across the road has plowed for cotton again after losing his entire crop last year. While some of the farmers had already harvested their fields, he had not. I know it's cotton because had he been planting corn he would have already planted. The corn around here is already several inches tall.

The work on the house took a small step back and a big step forward. The small step back involved removing two panels of the bead board on one wall and the chair rail because the chair rail looked like a roller coaster on its side if you looked down the length of it. Mostly because of the way this house was built and trying to blend new sheetrock with old and wavy bead board panels. Anyway we came up with an easy fix which improved it about 80%. Good enough. Window trim is up and the rest of the chair rail and crown molding is going up. 

I think the glass will go in tomorrow. The big step forward was Rocky fixed the leaky shut-off valve that turns off the water to the house.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

resolution of the blues and other matters

I'm having to keep the back door closed. I would rather it was open but the damn dirt daubers will not stay out! I finally gave up. I chased three of them out about mid-day and closed the door and while I was standing there looking out through the glass here came one of them back, buzzing around, looking for a way in, banging on the glass. I have to get a screen door.

I moved or it did but it didn't appreciate getting its picture taken and left

I've been getting my garden that I wasn't going to plant this year, planted. So far 8 tomatoes, 46 onions, 1 japanese eggplant, 1 bell pepper, 1 banana pepper (I threw away armloads of banana peppers from 4 plants last year). Still have part of the white bed and the whole big one.

I've put away the model making for now as it's hard to work while construction is going on and since the spring open house fizzled out, there's no rush to finish anything and I can't really get to the functioning kiln anyway with the garage full of construction materials and it's spring and the garden needs to be planted and the flower beds and landscaping need attending to, and things in pots need refreshing all before the interminable hot dry summer sets in and I'm going to be gone for most of the month of May.

And so because I gave in and planted a small garden at least and had Marc turn the water back on over at the shop which had been turned off for the weeks of lows in the 20s and just never turned back on, and hooked up the hose and...nothing, bubkis. Went around to the back corner faucet where it connects to the shop and some water came out, not great pressure and then it trickled to a stop. So, the clog is somewhere between the meter and the faucet. Underground. It's a long way from the faucet to the fence. In the meantime, I'm having to haul water over in buckets in the garden cart to water my newly planted garden. 

So, back to the blues, Rocky and Gunner came by Thursday morning to see if they were going to start painting or not. Gunner finished the ceiling and beadboard early Wednesday afternoon which gave me a chance to test out the two blue samples I had on some scrap pieces of sheetrock and then I held them up to the wall above the bead board and WHOA! Way too dark. So when the Rocky and Gunner Show showed up Thursday morning and Rocky asked me what color, I told him to go on with the yellow, that these were way too dark. So you're giving up on the blue, he asked? I shrugged. I'd have to waste another day picking a new color or two. If I want to do that, he says, he has to replace a bathtub in this other house and they could take care of that and get done there and paint on Friday. It seemed to be what Rocky wanted so I agreed.

Back to the paint store where I picked a nice light blue, a little grayer than baby blue, painted the piece of sheet rock and carried it in there and held it up above the painted beadboard and...the tint is good but it didn't thrill me, so yellow it is. All that's left is the trim, then the glass, then the floor. 

progress as of end of day Friday

I really like the blue color though, so I tested it out with the tile samples for the floor and shower and they go very well together. Now the plan is to paint the beadboard in the bathroom blue and the walls above it in one of the whites I'm looking at. 

Currently waiting to rise to the top of the plumbers list.

Friday, March 16, 2018

another day, another estate sale

I've mentioned that one of our forms of entertainment, my sister and I, is going to estate sales. There's a lot of repetition because most of us, our lives are pretty much the same, at least as far as our households are concerned. And a lot are just what's left over after the family has taken what they wanted. And sometimes the amount of stuff is overwhelming. And sometimes you have to wonder what on earth these people are thinking when they price some of this stuff but I've picked up some really neat things, most of my wind chimes and bird houses and plant stands in fact, over the years which I've shown now and then.

This one we went to Friday was out in the country for real, some kind of old farm and it was a house, even the interior doors ($8 ea.) and the cabinet doors ($4 ea.) were for sale, the plan by whoever now possesses it is to gut it and redo the interior, a good idea since the entire house was a dark paneling. Though I didn't take too many pictures inside there was furniture and sheets and towels and clothes and sewing machines, the usual kitchen stuff...dishes, appliances, utensils, glasses, pots and pans. There were several doors marked do not enter so I imagine that's where all the stuff the family was keeping was.

overheard that the son was a priest (why do they always portray Jesus as emaciated?)

come to Jesus at the river gown?

a big garage full of garage stuff like tools and gear and nails and tables laid out with all kinds of miscellaneous guy stuff that ends up in garages that I don't usually pay attention to unless I'm looking for something specific,

a small shed full of canning jars (the ones not in the kitchen), high priced canning jars, a few antique ones but mostly just old,

a barn full of unidentifiable by yours truly farm stuff and not just one or two of a kind but troves of a kind,

and then there was the stuff just spread out around the buildings...

a crude bench with a broken leg...$8, an old beat up dirty wooden box...$10

I have no idea what this is with it's termite eaten and rotten wood top with one hinge come loose but they wanted $85 for it

the little wagon wheel...$200

two sections of broken windmill vanes...$50 ea. 

Don't know what this is either but they wanted $35 for it, must be the fancy handle.

The best find of the day though was in the aforementioned garage...a box of about a dozen cobalt blue shot glasses with names etched on them...Big Mike, Dave, Uncle Charley, Darrell, etc.,

and Pooter, Pecky, and Booger 

Hey Booger! C'mon, we're doing shots!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

remodeling, part whatever

I'm going to stay with the yellow she says so I went to the paint store last week and brought back 7 blue paint chips. 

Even the lightest one looked so dark against the white wall. I suppose I could go back and get a whole new set of blues from the lightest group but leaving it yellow will be a remnant and remembrance of the week Jade and I spent painting that room. It's already going to be completely different. 

And so I had two objectives yesterday, go get a yard of dirt to top off the raised garden beds and go buy paint because today they are going to start painting. It's been taped and floated and sanded and textured and all day I was flipping back and forth but I bought the yellow. And a sample of the blue and I think I'm going to get a sample of another blue  

I've narrowed it down to these two

and get Rocky to start on the white today...the ceiling and trim and primer the bead board so I can dither one more day about the wall color. If I do decide on the blue, I'll just use the yellow over at the shop when we finally get at least one interior room rebuilt.

You can see that there is still a bead board section missing on the other end wall, the one that backs up to the little bathroom, because it gives access to the galvanized pipe to the toilet that has to be replaced if we ever rise to the top of the plumber's list.

the new exterior

And so I did get the yard of dirt and got the two small beds topped off so more shoveling for me today to get the rest done.

Here's two more gratuitous flower porn pics. The light was perfect yesterday, bright but suffused through a hazy cloud cover. The wisteria is coming into bloom.

the little yellow oxalis

Monday, March 12, 2018

spring and sprang

I woke up about 8:30 yesterday and almost jumped out of bed until I remembered that it was Sunday and also that it was really, sunwise, only 7:30. We sprang forward for DST. Lot's of grumbling on FB but I like it. I'm not an early riser, rarely see the sun rise, so I'd rather have an extra hour of daylight in the evening and yes I do know it's not an actual extra hour.

Saturday, my sister and I went to the Fort Bend County Master Gardener's vegetable and herb sale where I got some tomatoes and a few other things, not too much as I'm not ready to plant that yet, not til later this week, and then to a nursery nearby where I got a new plumbago because I don't know if the one I had has survived, no sign of it yet, and a pretty little yellow flowered oxalis with copper leaves, and a guara since I pulled the last one out after it got 5' tall and had still never bloomed and an early birthday present from my sister, an unusual azalea that the owner called a 'butterfly azalea' but which the tag called Koromo Shikibu. 

I looked it up and it was originally from Japan and is so fragrant. My sister had also given me a bag of amaryllis bulbs earlier and some comfrey that she had dug up and I had some small volunteers from another plant and some cuttings I needed to repot for the annual garden club plant sale and so I puttered around in the yard most the day because it was a cool overcast day and perfect for planting the new things and digging stuff up to move into pots and cutting the damaged foliage off the leatherleaf ferns that are coming out which got pretty well trampled while the structure of the house was being repaired and had plenty more stuff to do like pull more evening primrose out of the flower beds where they just have taken over 

and dig up more of the mexican petunias but it started drizzling and then the wind picked up so I came in.

The wildflower mini-meadow exploded with bluebonnets and what I think is the yellow flowering clasp leaved coneflower but if so it is the most vigorous I've ever seen it but it's not blooming yet so I don't know for sure and those two are so thick as to smother anything else that might have come up, like the queen anne's lace which isn't even showing up on the roadsides yet so maybe it's too early.

We are going to have poppies soon though.

More pictures...

I did nothing to this picture besides crop it. These azaleas are just that vibrant.


fringe flower...I posted this tree previously but it is just outstanding this year so here it is again

spirea in full bloom

the red climbing rose, always a bit behind the pink

the dewberry (our wild blackberry) loved the flood and cold and looks like we will have a big crop