Archive for May, 2018

Two out of Three

patient noirIt seems most of you are concerned about the same thing we are: the cats! Tuesday was a very low profile for all 3 cats. BC is the least stressed. She always tended to spend a lot of time upstairs, she has always slept with me and she likes to hang out with my husband when he plays his video game. I’ve even toyed with the idea of letting her loose when there are no workmen because she will come to me if I call. My husband is very opposed to that idea and I do agree with him. Just think of Charlie getting sealed into the wall. I often come up the stairs, look through the door, and see BC waiting patiently for me to arrive.

GC expressing an opinionGC is a bit neurotic but also mellow. We knew from day one that she would be the “couch potato” cat. She can be reasonable if you overlook the known quirks. I was also sure she would come around quickly. She has indeed settled into the routine quite nicely. Last night and this morning she had multiple helpings of her wet food (she’s allowed all she can eat). I’ve avoided serving the rejected flavor from Monday night. GC even walks about and lets us pet her, and doesn’t flinch away. I sat reading in a chair upstairs last night and she curled about my legs, allowing me to reach down to scratch and pet. GC will NEVER do anything as reasonable as pick a convenient spot for cuddling. Her favorite spot is on the stair landing, where we will sit at times to deal with footwear, and she will get behind us on the landing and bump us with her head. If we turn around to LOOK at her while we pet, she moves away. No, no, it MUST be uncomfortable for us for it to be good for her. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve included a picture of her expressing her opinion on the “upstairs situation”.

breakfastWC is not happy. I was reading last night and looked up to see WC sitting in the room, staring at me. I called her by name, said hello, asked how she was. She skewered me with a glare and turned and walked out and went back under the bed. She’d only emerged, apparently, to make sure I knew she was not happy and she blamed me for everything. I guess she’s been in touch with Honour’s cats. I managed to get her to eat a nibble of wet food yesterday by moving it into the bedroom near the bed (not really where I want their food).

The elusive WCThis morning I woke to the sound of mews and meows and peeps. All 3 of them were in the food room. WC was near the water fountain, so I know she knows where it is. She just is not going to give me the relief of seeing her drink. GC and BC are not so stubborn. Everyone ate breakfast today, GC and BC having multiple portions. WC still refused to stay in the food room for breakfast, but i did get her to come to the bedroom doorway at least to eat there. Getting closer….

I appreciate all the advice and suggestions I’ve been receiving about caring for the cats and symptoms of stress/illness. Even for a cat as nonchalant as BC, this is a stress to the system. Heck, it’s a real stress to ME and *I* know what is happening. My stomach is not so happy today. Again, I haven’t observed any activity in the litter room myself, but we have found signs of usage. ๐Ÿ™‚ You can see the daily collection in the photo.output I have seen BC and GC wandering out of there also. I said to my husband that I was waiting to discover that WC has been urinating in our bedroom, and he said calmly ‘so we’ll pull up the carpet’. See? For us it IS all about the cats.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that on Day 3 of The Great Incarceration, 2 of 3 cats seem to have adjusted and there have been sightings of the 3rd. I’m sure by the time the construction is over they will have forgotten there is a downstairs. Hah!

drinkingFootnote: Some of you may know how relaxed my husband and I have always been about fixing things up, or renovating. I’ve mentioned that in this blog, too. I feel I must point out that the carpeting that shows up in the upstairs is NOT carpeting that we selected. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was in the house 34 years ago when we bought the house and, well, we just never did anything about changing it. It was fairly new, in good condition, clean, and who cared anyway. But as I look at the photos I realized I don’t want credit for the rugs. ๐Ÿ™‚

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The Best Flower

goose neck and rudbeckia (1)Many many years ago my friend Ulrike dug up a bunch of flowers from her wonderful wild garden and gave them to me. Two big garbage bags filled with enormous root balls. There were 2 different flowers in there – a yellow, sunflower-like thing and a white curvy thing that she called goose-neck. Both plants flourished in my front garden for many years. I discovered the white thing is indeed “gooseneck” or Lysimachia clethroides. It’s very hardy and is indeed aggressive and has spread along the driveway as well as taking over a good portion of the first bed. (Hey Debbie – I should give you some of these, too!)

rudbeckiaI LOVE the yellow things. A few years ago, however, they began to fade, perhaps because the gooseneck was choking them. I had them in 2 different beds so I still had plenty of them, but I was getting worried. My friend, who lived next door to my mother, had died and her house was on the market. She lived next door to my mother so one day I went over, found an inconspicuous spot, and dug up another 2 root balls. Yes, I know that was “wrong”. You know what was REALLY wrong? The realtor in charge of selling that house leveled that gorgeous garden, tore down the bushes, the flowers, the wild beauty of the back yard. Don’t lecture ME on ‘wrong’. The stolen goods emigrated successfully. I knew Rike would be thrilled that her garden lived on.

But I was growing worried. What WERE these flowers? My dog-walking neighbor loved them as well and always teased/threatened to come over and dig them up for his garden. I began searching online to find a match. It’s hard to search when all you have is “tall, yellow flowers”. I tried sunflowers. I tried tall yellow flowers. I tried 5 ft yellow flowers. Finally I found something that I thought was it in one of the seed catalogs and I ordered the seeds. The seeds DID thrive and they came up alongside my yellow things. BUT…. the leaves were the same, but the flowers were not. This is because I WAS close, but I’d found the single blossom version of Rudbeckia Laciniata instead of the double-blossom. Nice, but really not good enough.

weed and rudbeckiaI continued searching and searching. One day I stumbled across a blog or a post or something somewhere talking about very tall yellow outhouse flowers (that wasn’t the exact wording that they used, however). When I looked at the photo, there were MY flowers!!! There’s probably a joke in there somewhere about my taste is in the outhouse or something. ๐Ÿ™‚ They are called Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia. Next I had to find the plants online. For some reason I kept ending up with seeds when I wanted plants.

weedI called our local radio station garden show and explained my problem – I needed outhouse flowers and did not know where to get them. Peggy immediately found a website selling the plants: Heritage Flower Farm. I went online that very day and ordered plants. I’d never ordered plants through the mail before and had no idea how it worked, how the plants traveled, etc. I ended up emailing with the owner, Betty Adelman, who was wonderfully supportive, informative and encouraging. The flowers arrived healthy and as described and all of them grew up last spring.

bare groundThis spring I ordered 6 more Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia (along with many other plants). I planted them in the front with their brethren. I watched them take hold, begin to grow. I cheered them on. The the rains came. And came. And came. People drove arks to and fro. The flora LOVED it and everything grew green and tall and thick. I was thrilled. Until just a few days ago when my sister said to me “I’m confused. You’re always talking about your yellow flowers, but I have the same thing and when I showed it to my neighbor she said it was a weed.” I guess some might call RLH a weed but I took a closer look at what was growing. Imagine my horror when I realized that with all that rain, weeds that looked remarkably LIKE RLH but were, in fact, flowerless weeds had taken over the bed. Although the leaves are similar, the stalk is very different. I yanked them all out, tossing them into the street to be run over by cars and trucks. Take THAT! I carefully uncovered what remained of my RLH but several of the new plants had been choked out.

heritage farms home pageThis is where dealing with someone as wonderful as Betty at Heritage Flower Farm pays off and brightens an otherwise cloudy day. I wrote to Betty asking if I could still get some RLH even though it’s now late in the season, and sent her pictures of the weed. She wrote back that she would send me some plants. I wrote again to ask if she needed me to send my credit card information. And she wrote back saying: “Weโ€™ll send you another one this week. We will cut back the leaves because it will help it recover from being dug after the record breaking heat weโ€™ve had. Once they get going they are vigorous and weeds may grow near them but will not choke them out. … youโ€™re not paying for this one.” That is kindness and generosity. I can’t WAIT for them to arrive and – trust me – I will guard them against the evil weed. This proves yet again that some of the best people I have ever met are people that I meet virtually. I’m not the only person who thinks Heritage Flower Farm is great – the National Wildlife Federation has honored them for their Certified Wildlife Habitat. So if you need flowers, or you want gardening tips and information, or you want some Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia for yourself, do yourself a huge favor and contact Betty Adelman and Heritage Flower Farm – Yesterday’s Flowers for Today’s Gardens.

It Has Begun

IMG_8417Although the workmen are MUCH quieter than I had expected, I see no sign of any catabitation upstairs. I have refrained from looking under the bed because I suspect that will be just one more upset for WC, if not for all of them.

Everything has been removed that needed to be removed. The refrigerator and the oak cabinet are both in the dining room AND fully functional. ๐Ÿ™‚ Even better, right? A few more boxes needed to migrate into the living room in order to open the refrigerator door but I’ll sort them out later.

IMG_8478There are 3 doorways with trim in the kitchen. Two of those doorways have the original chestnut trim. You can’t get chestnut anymore because of the chestnut tree blight originally diagnosed in the early 1900s. We requested that the workmen preserve and reuse that trim. I was quite happy to see how carefully they were removing it.

I was planning to toss the stove but it pains me too much to throw away something that is working fine when I know that someone out there could use a good working stove for free. My sister has kindly volunteered to help me out with posting the stove to the local swap meet board. I’m also second-guessing myself about the dishwasher, which I love and planned to put back in the kitchen. It’s 4-5 years old, a Bosch, and it’s great. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I’m being penny-wise but pound-foolish. I’m wondering how well it will function after being disconnected, moved, spending several weeks in the garage, and then moved again. *grin* I guess if I’m NOT spending $3400 on the faucet (I did NOT miss a decimal on that price) I could get a new dishwasher.

IMG_8419There is plastic sheeting up on the doorways to the front hall and dining room (think chestnut trim) so I can’t get a good look at what’s not there. I’m fairly certain I no longer have a finished ceiling. ๐Ÿ™‚ I did get a few shots as the walls came down. Somewhere I have a photo that shows the wallpaper that was up when we moved into the house. It was truly awful. It might have been that wallpaper alone that caused us to do the addition on the house a mere 8 years or so after we moved in. Imagine my surprise when I saw that there was even older wallpaper buried behind the walls (I wonder why there was wall in front of the wall paper). I can’t say that I like this ‘new’ wallpaper very much but as unbelievable as you may find this – it’s better than what we lived with for years. ๐Ÿ™‚

I really like this crew. They are friendly, they are polite, they are cheerful and they answer questions. IMG_8477Normally I like to watch and ask questions and learn, but I decided this time I’d stay as far away as possible and let them do their thing. I’m hanging out in the sunroom. I’d normally have taken today as a vacation day from work because I knew I’d be as distracted and as stressed as I am, but I have a major project underway and I need to be accessible, even if I can’t focus on my own, without a specific question/request.

The next step was supposed to be the framing (okay, I confess – I have NO idea what that really means) but Don came over to tell me that he thinks he needs to bring in the electrician and plumber first, because “there are pipes and wires all over the place”. *laughing* Well, I DID warn Don and Manny that once they opened the walls and floor and ceiling not to expect anything standard. I think everything in this house was built Rube Goldberg-style.

IMG_8480For the moment quiet has settled on the house as it’s lunch hour. That meant I could go through the basement door to see what’s been happening behind the plastic. Wow. Amazing how quickly it all comes down. By the time they left all the walls and ceilings were down. They vacuumed up the dust, put down carpeting for us to make it from the front hall to the deck safely, and promised to come back tomorrow to rip up the floor.

Dinnertime brought out BC and GC, but I have not seen WC since this morning, before the noise and vibrations. I asked my husband to look under the bed to see if she was still breathing. Poor WC. Life is so stressful for her. GC did eat her dinner but stopped after one helping, instead of her more customary three. Maybe things will be more ‘normal’ (feed me feed me feed me!!!!!!) for breakfast tomorrow.IMG_8486 (1)

A Last Look

IMG_8403We are as ready as possible. The Great Incarceration has begun. 2 of the prisoners walked in of their own volition; one was betrayed in her belief that she was getting petted but seized and brought up the stairs and deposited behind the door.

We have moved everything moveable out of the kitchen and breakfast room. Items are tagged indicating if they are to be saved and stored in the garage or saved and stored in the dining room. The dining room is packed with items yet we expect to have both the refrigerator and my kitchen cabinet/table moved in there as well. I must have done a decent job packing items in clear boxes and organizing groups because my husband went looking for something on his own and found it. ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_8404My basement is impassable with items that have been bagged and boxed for our congregation’s huge rummage sale in the summer.

The garage is reorganized to allow space for a dishwasher and table and 2 ceiling fans/lights and the microwave (rummage sale for most of that). The stove is being trashed. The doors are being trashed. I do feel a bit guilty about that but there is only so much I can deal with getting to the rummage sale.

IMG_8406Of the 3 prisoners, BC is upset only when I leave her on her side of the door and go downstairs. BC has had her dinner, also munched on the dry food and I believe may have availed herself of the litter facilities. WC has been under the bed for hours. She emerges to meow loudly but if I talk to her or look at her she goes back under the bed. I don’t think she’s pleased. GC has emerged and joined BC and I in the food room (I incarcerated myself for awhile to read there, hoping it might prove that it was safe territory). She allowed herself to be petted, ate some dry food, but scorned her wet food twice. I’m not sure if that’s because she’s decided this flavor is not suitable for this location, or if it’s simply too stressful to eat under these circumstances. I’m willing to bet that come breakfast time tomorrow, GC will be able to eat.

IMG_8410The only troubling note in all of this is the lack of a phone call from my contractor. When I spoke with them on Wednesday we talked about Tuesday being demo-day, but Don would call me at the end of the week to confirm. Don has NOT called. It really makes no huge difference if demo-day happens Wednesday instead of tomorrow, but I am very ready for this to begin already. The sooner we start, the sooner it’s done.

I wonder if I’ll sleep tonight…..

A Last Hurrah

kitchen stove dining room doorLast night we threw our last party with our old kitchen. It was Memorial Day weekend, always a great time to throw a BBQ. We had several reasons, however, to throw a party. Our wonderful next-door neighbors are moving down (back) to Florida. They will be gone by mid-June. All of us in the neighborhood are heart-broken that they are leaving. We love them, we’ve had such good times together, it was a wonderful, wonderful relationship. I decided that we needed to do a good, fun send-off to remind them how much they like us all and that they would need to come back and visit. (I already have a promise of a return for our Passover seder. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) When I first proposed the Bye-bye BBQ I thought that we’d have already lost our kitchen – that we’d be doing this kitchen-free. I’m very happy that we still had a kitchen to do food preparation.

Kitchen sink door to basementThat was the second “last hurrah” – bye-bye to the kitchen. For 34 years we’ve been entertaining, throwing parties, feeding people all from this kitchen and breakfast room. Okay – I’m exaggerating. The breakfast room and deck are only 28 years old. Putting that addition on the house was a true life changer. When we do BBQs, drinks and appetizers are out on the deck and the dinner selections are in the breakfast room. I probably should have taken some pictures of that last night – we had a MOUNTAIN of ribs. ๐Ÿ™‚ And LOTS of non-meat sides because we have a fair number of vegetarians in our gathering.

view from breakfast room to front hallYet another reason for the BBQ was my brother-in-law’s birthday. He, like our guests of honor neighbors, is carnivorous so we decided on beef ribs. My sister has a membership in a fantastic warehouse called “Restaurant Depot”. It has every and anything a restaurant/food vendor would want/need. My brother-in-law and I went there on Friday to get the ribs. It’s probably not a good idea to let the 2 of us do this sort of adventure without a chaperone because we both believe that more food is better. No – more than more. We came home with about 30 pounds of beef ribs. But that’s fine, because in 3 days, we’re not going to have a kitchen, no stove, and we’re going to still need to eat. Leftovers!!!! I know some people HATE leftovers but I love them. Leftovers mean I don’t have to cook or prepare something. My husband is the real chef in the family (I bake) and he did a great dry rub on the ribs. For good measure we tossed in some chicken dogs and veggie burgers. view from breakfast room doorwayWe had sugar free cheesecake and sugar free pound cake with fresh fruit and whipped cream for those needing SF, and we had sugar full cheesecake and sugar full ice cream cake for those wanting that good old sugar hit. The appetizers were delicious also. I’ll also give a little mention to the fact that I nearly lost my husband last night. As in permanently. One of my guests brought a home-made keto dessert (she’s very big on all sorts of healthy diets) and I’m not really sure what these things were, but they were sugar free. So she gave 2 to my husband who, of course, ate them. I only found out after the fact when I heard her describing the ingredients which included macadamia nuts. I said – don’t give any to him because he is highly allergic to macadamia nuts. Which is when I heard he’d already eaten them. Everyone joked about it and teased him and her, but the truth is – he was somewhat sick from them last night. 2 little tiny doses but enough for him to have a reaction. :/

I originally planned to do this party today, but as I write this post, rain is thundering down outside, and our phones periodically beep with emergency alert notices about flash flooding. The weather forecasters got all of that right because that was the forecast they were giving a week ago, which is when I said better move the party to Saturday night.

breakfast room table pots and pans closetEighteen of us on the deck – chairs and space enough for everyone, although I will admit there was a tight squeeze in one corner. I had the chance to show everyone the plans for the renovation, and got to show off the now-famous upstairs hall door (you remember – an essential piece for The Great Incarceration). We’ve decided on the faucet for the kitchen sink (somewhat steampunky) and I got to show pictures of that as well. Plus the really amazing steampunk faucet we are NOT getting. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s going to be a huge change.

I’m going to miss my kitchen. I know that many people look at my kitchen and go “ugh”. It’s small, old, kitschy, loud. But I do love it. I love the pink and yellow and bright and the art work and the decorations. I no longer love the floor (28 years ago) or the stove (15 years ago) and I hate that the cabinets and drawers don’t work properly. I’m not loving the current ant invasion, either. Despite all its flaws, when it’s clean and bright, it makes me smile. It makes me happy. I’ve been worried about getting a new, modern, soulless kitchen. I think we’ve made some good choices so that although we will have a new modern kitchen, it shouldn’t be soulless. Time will tell.

breakfast room cat treeToday, however, is designated as “pack up the kitchen and breakfast room day”. Tomorrow is probably the same thing. We are working out a plan for how/when to move cat paraphernalia upstairs in preparation for The Great Incarceration. We are trying to determine in advance where we will put all the boxed up kitchen ‘stuff’. We have a lot of stuff. Where did all this stuff come from? Do we NEED all this stuff????

Tick tock, tick tock….. Less than 48 hours til the wrecking crew arrives…..

The Great Incarceration

end of hallAs my friend Honour has pointed out, I haven’t mentioned the major change coming into the lives of my 3 cats. They aren’t going to like it.

As I mentioned recently, I am going to gut the entire kitchen and part of the breakfast room. It’s a major undertaking. It will be a mess. Lots of noise. Workmen. Dust. Noise. Open doors. Noise. Stress. We are expecting this to take 3 months at a minimum. And that doesn’t include painting the new walls and staining the new molding.

Most people ask us what we are planning to do about eating since we won’t have a stove, sink, dishwasher, floor and counters. I *think* we will have the refrigerator in the dining room, and maybe a microwave. I’m not too worried about the whole food thing. It’s spring, almost summer. We have a grill on the deck. We have lots of restaurants we like. We have restaurants that deliver. Maybe we’ll even get lucky and have friends who invite us to eat at THEIR homes. ๐Ÿ™‚ No, what worries ME are the cats.

hallway to stairsTwo of my cats are, no nice way to put it, old. They will both be 16 in August. Not only are they set in their ways, but the white one is totally neurotic. Extremely. The gray one is not as crazy, but not 100% well-balanced either (of course, can you say ANY cat is 100% well-balanced?). The black one, the child of my old age, *grin*, is wonderful, but very active and needs to be wherever I am. Henceforth they will be known as WC, GC, and BC. ๐Ÿ™‚

There is NO WAY I can leave the 3 of them loose in the house while the workmen are here. The cats don’t want to be near strangers and noise and the workmen don’t want them around either. 3 months is too long to board. I can’t lock them in the basement because (1) the workmen will need access to the basement and (2) the door they will use opens on the basement landing. So the cats need to be locked up. Now probably most of you who own cats say what’s the big deal, you lock them up during the day while the work is going on and you let them out at night while you are home. That does sound reasonable, if you overlook the time when our friends took that approach and their cat got shut behind the dry wall. They had to rip out the new wall to get the cat out. But still, many people would take that approach.

bathroom and little room doorsMy cats are NOT reasonable, not by any stretch of the imagination. If it were ONLY BC, not a problem – she even comes when we call. WC – she is nuts. We are going to have one chance to grab WC and GC and that’s it. They don’t like to be held or picked up. If we ever let them out of being locked up, they will hide and we will never find them again. Or not in time. Or not safely. So we will grab them once (my husband has been told he has to grab WC, I’m grabbing GC) and we will shove them into their restricted quarters and there they will stay until such time as we deem it safe to release them.

Obviously we cannot lock up 3 cats for 3 months in 1 room. First, the 2 big cats have issues at times with BC (you know, pesky kid sister and all that). Second – the food, water and litter boxes need to be considered as well. Add that to the 3 cats and you have one crowded room. Had the basement been a viable option it would have been fine – there is a DOOR to the basement. We can’t confine them on the first floor – that’s where the work is happening. The second floor is the solution EXCEPT ….. there’s no door to the 2nd floor.

top of stairsWe are building a door in the upstairs hall. There is no good place to put a door – the hallway is filled with doorways that do not align. We have steep steps. We need the light and air from the window at the end of the hallway. We are building a door, at an angle, with consideration for light and air, and seeing what’s on the other side before we open it. That way the girls will have access to every room on the 2nd floor – plenty of places to hide, water & food in one room, litter boxes in another room, bed to hide under in a third room, and so on. Room to avoid each other. And BC can sleep with me, as she always does. Once the construction is over, and the house is deemed safe for cathabitation, the prisoners will be released. But since they will miss us, we will be living upstairs also. Watching TV on the computer instead of the TV. Working from home from a bedroom instead of spread out on my dining room table. All 5 of us on the 2nd floor.

It’s going to be a very long summer. And none of us are going to like it.
The Great Barrier

Nature Is Inconvenient

little blue eggsI have been accused of being heartless, and perhaps that is so. In years past, birds have built nests under the air conditioners in our upstairs windows. (We have an old house, we do NOT have central air, and we rely on window a/c units.) On first thought this sounds charming and wonderful – little birdlets being born and learning to face the world! Little birdlets get very hungry. Hungry birdlets are very very noisy. You have no idea how loud a baby bird is until it’s 5:30 am on a weekend and the cacophony of FEED ME comes non-stop from your window. It is, to say the very least, annoying.

Momma bird in front hedgeThis year I out-smarted the birds. I had mesh mounted underneath and around the a/c units so that no nests could be built there. The birds struck back. A few weeks ago, AFTER I’d been in the bushes trimming them, I looked out the sunroom window and saw a nest, with 4 little blue eggs, right outside my window. That nest was there while I was working in the bush, and yet I never saw it from that angle. But there it was. And then shortly thereafter, I saw Momma sitting on that nest. I never managed a very good picture because of the screens in the window, but we’d watch her come and go and sit. It was, quite honestly, very appealing.

But one Friday morning Momma went out and did not return. There are cats, possums, racoons and skunks in the neighborhood, not to mention the roving gang of deer. bird in rhododendronWe suspect that Momma met the gray and white cat that frequents our yard. Whatever happened, the sad fact is that no one sits on those eggs anymore, which does make me very sad.

And yet….. I hear birds all around me in the early morning, in the daytime, at dusk. In the past I have found nests in my rhododendron, above my sensor light, even in the clematis twining my front porch. I wouldn’t have minded baby birds outside my sunroom, even if they were very very noisy.

We have large 11 foot market umbrellas on our deck. The canvas ripped on one of them so we ordered a new one and went to replace it this past weekend. Momma2 standingMy husband went to lift the umbrella out of the stand and emerged from underneath the canopy with a bird’s nest. 4 little blue eggs. We placed it in a safe place while we replaced the canvas, and then stuck the nest back up in the umbrella supports. We weren’t sure if Momma2 would return or not. A few hours later – there she was. She’s very skittish. She seems to know when I’m trying to get close to take a picture (I really need a good camera, instead of always relying on my phone.) She’s a robin, and she’s nesting.

And having baby birdlets on my deck, under my umbrella, is extremely inconvenient.

Momma2 on deck


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