Saturday, March 22, 2008

The best laid plans...

Originally on my to-do list for today: Buy the materials to put up the wainscoting in our downstairs hallway as my spring-break project.

That was before I got the call from my mom that my Granny was just admitted to the hospital with an oxygen saturation of 45, which I didn't even think was compatible with life. Her heart is failing and, at 90 years old and with a long-standing DNR order and a clearly expressed wish to go join her beloved siblings made long before the Alzheimer's took over, all the doctors are going to do is keep her comfortable. She'll go home in the next day or two with hospice support, and the doctors say it could be weeks or months.

So my spring break time will be used to make sure that absolutely everything I need to do for the rest of the semester (tests and labs that need to be created or revised, etc.) is done, so that if she dies before the end of the semester, I can go to be with my family for a week without leaving my students in a bad situation.

I'm surprisingly not feeling sad. She's ready to go, and has been ready for a very long time. She's living a life that was always her worst nightmare -- dependent on others to take care of her, no longer in the house that symbolized everything good to her. She was my hero, the person who showed me that women could be physically and emotionally very strong, who taught me that you could set and enforce boundaries but still show absolutely unconditional love.

To tie this back to my house journal, she was always so proud of when I talked about doing work on my house. For all of her strength, I believe that she still felt limited by the expectations placed on women of her generation, and was tickled to see me doing things that were "men's" work.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Successful Garden Cleanup

Fortunately, my knee was feeling much better Friday after my fall Thursday, and I was able to get a lot of work done on the yard.

This is what I was attacking:

Note the carcasses of last year's tomatoes, the tomato cages, the plastic from my attempts to save the last of the tomatoes from the first possible frost, plus a lot of trash and leaves that had blown into the area.

An hour or so of work got me to this point:

Those things you see growing in the garden are all of the perennial flowers that I transplanted from my old house and put here as a temporary measure... 1.5 years ago. But it was very clear that they needed to be moved in order to use this for the veggies, but I simply wasn't ready to figure out where to move them permanently.

I decided instead to create another temporary bed off to the side of our driveway (which is really wide), but my first attempt to dig in made me realize that I'll be dead by the end of the day if I tried to dig out a 10' x 3' bed by hand. So that led to this:

That is the tiller that my friends bought a couple of years ago for their ginormous garden. They're abandoning me and moving to California so they asked me a while back if I wanted to buy it for half of what they paid and I said no - I don't need something that big for my dinky garden. But when I called them to borrow it, they'd dropped the price by half again, and I couldn't resist a good bargain, so now this baby is mine, and it cut through the hard-packed dirt (with quite a bit of gravel) with dramatically less effort than hand-digging. It definitely needs a tune-up but hey, it worked.

So, I tilled, shoveled out that dirt, tilled again, and then transplanted everything over, leading me to this:

(that's Elder Granddaughter on the far left of the picture)

and this:

And before we lost the last of the light, I was able to clear out the brush pile, leaving the leaf pile to mulch and add to a leaf compost heap some other day.

My goal is to eventually put in a bunch of 4' raised beds in this area, from the shed you see in the back up to around where I transplanted the flowers. The problem is that once you get past the big bed, it's a lot of packed gravel. That little square that you see (temporarily framed in with PT lumber, which I plan to replace asap with a better wood) took me about 3-4 hours of hard labor to dig into the dirt, sieve out the rocks from the dirt, and then replace the dirt and relocate the rocks. At least the tiller will help make the "dig into the dirt" part easier, and maybe Elder Granddaughter is desperate enough for $$ to put some minutes onto her phone to help with the rest.

Now I just need to find me some spinach and peas to get into the ground this week before I once again do my usual garden nonsense and miss my window of opportunity.

Grill explosion

Yesterday, about 20 minutes before I planned to slap this beautiful thick porterhouse from a local farm which raises all-natural pastured cattle (thanks, CSA!), I went out and fired up the grill. Everything lit just fine so I closed the lid and came inside. This is what I found when I went back out:

(there was more soot yesterday evening before last night's light rain)

And this was on the ground about 2' in front of the grill:

That's a mangled, melted burner knob, in case you couldn't tell.

Since the grill was nice and hot and running, and I wasn't about to let this steak go to waste, I went ahead and cooked the steak (standing back as much as I could), but I'm going to get something replaced/fixed before I use it again, that's for sure!

I just feel a little freaked out about what must have happened. It looks to me as if flames were shooting out from behind the knob, possibly even a big whoosh of fire out from around the knob (else why would it have come off and ended up so far in front of the grill?). If anyone has a clue as to what might have caused this, I'd appreciate you letting me know!

The grill's less than a year old so I'm contacting their warranty service number tomorrow. Let's hope that it's not a royal PITA to get it fixed, something like "well, box it up and ship it to us, at your cost, of course..."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Well $#!+

I took off tomorrow because it's supposed to be 65, partly cloudy, and a perfect day to tackle my absolute mess of a garden.

And this evening I was playing around with Elder Granddaughter in the Hell-mart parking lot, and she twisted and accidentally-on-purpose fell which pulled me down hard onto my left knee.

It's a little swollen, a lotta hurtin', and I'm doing a lot of preemptive bitching about how pissed I'm going to be if I can't work outside tomorrow.

Let's hope that ice and ibuprofen help pretty dramatically.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Scared to look

After all the rain of the past two days, the sump pump is occasionally running for the first time in over a year.

And I'm scared to go look in my basement to see if we have any water down there.

My excuse is that there's a case of bacardi mojitos and a 12-pack of amstel light blocking the basement door. They're supposed to go down there since they're not rapidly consumed around here.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

How to rationalize a new kitchen

Partner has a bad spot of eczema on one hand, pretty much covering the bottom quarter of her left hand on the pinky-finger side.

It first showed up maybe a year ago, and is definitely getting worse as the months go by. Therefore there is no real reason to expect that it will be gone a year from now, considering eczema's notoriously chronic nature.

In our family, I do the cooking, Partner washes dishes. And no, I will not start doing it all because of Partner's disability.

Dishwashing definitely exacerbates eczema.

We have no dishwasher, and no place to put a dishwasher without a significant remodeling of our tiny cheap-apartment quality kitchen.

Therefore, our kitchen must be remodeled for medical reasons.

Now, of course my bathroom remodeling which we have planned for this summer must come first, since of course my ability to soak in a nice comfy deep tub has priority over Partner's pain and intense itching due in part to a bull-headed reluctance to wear protective gloves while washing dishes. But I think it's very reasonable to consider a full remodeling of our kitchen as an appropriate project to begin planning for next summer.

I'm wondering if we could deduct the costs from our taxes as a medical necessity... ::grin::

Monday, March 3, 2008

How could someone DO this to a house?!?

You see this simple but cute little beach cottage that I lived in and dearly loved until June '06 and sold that fall?

You see the three pretty sweet bay magnolias in front that really help soften the stark concrete-blockness of the house?

We drove by our old house last night on our way to Dairy Queen, and the new owners have TAKEN THEM OUT! They're gone! GONE!! They had told me I could take any and all plants, that they planned to replace it all with really low maintenance stuff (as if there's anything high-maintenance about day lilies and irises and all, but I was happy to have them) but THEY TOOK OUT THE TREES!!! Those trees were beautiful! They totally did not contribute in any significant way to the leaf fall -- if you look back you can see the trunks of a zillion 100' old oak trees that surround the house and cover the yard in a thick blanket of leaves every fall, so it's not like three little sweet bay magnolias are going to make a difference in terms of yard maintenance.

The yard was stone cold bare. BARE. Absolutely nothing planted anywhere - concrete block all the way down to the ground. The house was ugly without those trees, and with nothing at all around it to soften its lines.

All I can think of is how much they're going to regret creating a stark bare yard if they ever want to sell that place again.

(I can't believe they took out those sweet little trees!!!!!!! GAH!)