Sunday, September 22, 2013

Upgrading the house a dollar at a time

My kitchen is fairly run-of-the-mill but I don't have money for one of those 8 thousand dollar makeovers (or more) we hear about on TV. Who does? I have decent cabinets and could use new countertops and a new sink, but the floor screams "80s" with it's cute country lines and flowers. Once upon a time I would have loved the stuff. Now I just try not to look down. It also has indentations that dirt loves to get stuck in, so to get a really clean floor you have to get down on your hand and knees and dry it with paper towels.

Needless to say, it is therefore never "really clean."

I was wandering through Home Depot, I swear looking for JUST a can of spray paint to spiff up a $3 magazine stand I found at the Thrifty Shopper, when I wandered by those stick-down tiles. The premium ones (the ones I can never afford) were on sale at the same price as the cheap ones. I was drawn to a type called "beige slate" and they were ust $30 a box.

Guess what?

Old floor:

New floor:

It looks much better in person.

Since the refrigerator had to be pulled out, you can guess what I found there:

Unfortunately it took up almost all of the weekend to get the floor mostly done. I still have to do the pantry, but that must be painted first. That means there are countless chores still to go.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Summer is almost gone and I haven't done a single summer thing...

Until now.

The weather has been gorgeous. Warm during the day (but not really hot!) and very cool at night. The days are getting shorter at an alarming rate, and I've done nothing fun that I couldn't do at any other time of year. So when the Spencer Picnic calls to action started coming across Facebook, I figured I had to go.

I've been here 13 years and haven't once gone.

The search for an adult who would go on rides was on. Gretchen and Brian decided they would be up for it, so we met there and had a great time on the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Scrambler. They went on the Gravitron, and I opted for the Ferris Wheel.

I haven't been on a ride in at least 20 years (maybe more) and I was pleasantly surprised that the old "tingle in the gut" that I'd long forgotten about, was still there. It was like running into someone who was once a good friend in your childhood, whose memory you'd long since dropped in favor of other important but far less pleasant events and people. $15 got enough tickets for four rides, and that was more than enough. What a blast.

On Friday a quick text from Gretchen brought us both up to the rooftop bar in Owego. Again I have not been there since spring. Time goes too fast.

I'm so mired down in work that I forget to do just these small things that make me feel like there is some sort of life off of a computer.

If you have forgotten as well, it's time to get out there and enjoy the summer and fall, before the snow flies again.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Getting things done. The back door

I'm desperately tired of being two steps behind on everything. I've finally decided if I look at it, and it needs doing, and it touches my brain cells, I will do it right then, even if it may not be the most logical priority. You can get sucked up in "prioritizing" sometimes.

Thus I am finally tackling my extremely embarrassing back door, which leads to an unused mudroom. Let me qualify. It is not used as a mudroom. It is used as a highly convenient cat box room. I have two back doors, so I don't need to use this one.

It was a bit neglected when we purchased the place 13 years ago. Somehow I've managed to look away for over a decade and allow it to get worse. Finally I realized that "looking away" was just adding to my overall stress and I decided it had to happen. I did not post a "before" shot because it was just too awful. Seriously, it was awful. But I do have a "halfway home" shot.

The whole area had to be painted, some worn boards torn off (to be replaced), the brush cut down (yes, there was BRUSH!), landscaping fabric and stone laid down (after making sure no critters were living in the hole under the foundation), the door painted, etc. I still have to build a landing (I have tons of wood in the barn), replace a rotted board on the overhang, and replace the siding boards. I'll also need to add topsoil to level off the area around the stone. Once the wood landing is in, I also plan to sink some flagstones from the creek into the gravel.

I did have to relocate this little red eft. I'm glad I found him (under rotted cardboard packaging from the treadmill I bought three years ago) before I put down the stone.

And then that will be one less thing preying on my soul, and one less thing for visitors to look at and think "Oh, that poor cat lady...things are getting out of hand, aren't they?"

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ivan is diabetic

More to come. Right now I'm just posting this for my veterinarian. My poor wobbly boy.

For some reason YouTube is progressing from one video to another. If you need to view Ivan's video again just click the blog post title, and it should re-load.

I'm amazed he was able to navigate all the half-finished projects on the porch, not to mention the curious Molly and Rose. He laid on Molly's bed in the sun for awhile before going back inside to sleep in the den.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Roadside find

I went to Ithaca to trap cats early Sunday and I noticed a door with glass panes sitting in a front yard with a washed out sign taped to it, well back from the highway so the panes wouldn't get broken by stones from passing traffic. Curious, I expected it was junk but I made a mental note to return home in the same direction to check it out.

With a car full of cats in traps on the way back, I remembered the door and pulled over. I trotted across the highway to look and the closer I got, the more certain I was that the washed out sign would say something like "$20" and not "Free" like I hoped. None of the glass panes were broken, there were no dog chews, it had the original hardware, and the doorknob was glass.

Once I got up to it, I made out the blurred word. "Free. Solid wood." Holy crap. Why hadn't anyone picked this up? Probably because it was so far from the road, everyone else, like myself, assumed it was for sale.

I went to pick it up and realized I was about to look very silly. It was extremely heavy, and I somehow had to get it in a compact car full of cats. I made it across the road, trying to look like I wasn't about to tip over, took the headrest off the front passenger seat, and was able to rest one end on the road and gently slide it in over the cats, braced at an angle on the passenger seat back.

I continue to be shocked at what the Kitty Kia (Soul) will hold.

On the way home I tried to think where I needed a door. It was an exterior door, but I certainly wasn't going to put a glass door on the exterior of my house. My home is old but doesn't look old inside. It looks rather like a 60's makeover, and I've worked hard to try and restore some charm to it. The door would help. I decided it would look nice on the bedroom. A curtain on the door would be privacy enough, here. The bolt lock works from the side of the door, although the key to work it from the outside is missing. I might be able to get a key fashioned, which would be great if anyone ever moved in up there. It would look great if I ever did sell the house, and the extra door could live in the barn so if a new person objected to having a see-through bedroom door, they could just put the original door back and use the antique door elsewhere.

Last night I measured the existing bedroom door, and wonder of wonders, the width is exactly the same! The antique door is taller, but I can cut it down with some careful measuring.

I took a minute to look online and found a chewed-up similar antique door, 36", $795 plus $125 freight. Thank you, unknown Rt 34/96 homeowner, for the beautiful door.

Amazing. Some day I may actually have a nice looking house from end to end.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The stand-up desk

It was getting a little hard to ignore all of those on-line articles about how sitting down all day will ultimately kill you.

A former colleague at work had a wonderful bar at her house that was stand-up height. It is in her very-sunny kitchen in the heart of her house. While my house isn't set up for the same sort of design, I do have a wall next to a window in my den, where my desk is (was), so I took the plunge, rummaged through the barn for a countertop, and set up my own stand-up desk.

I thought it would be harder to stand up all day, so I bought a cheap Big Lots upholstered stool, but I haven't used it much. I've discovered that with good music playing, I can boogie around a bit and keep moving as well. There is no longer the "oh hell, I have to work, I guess I'll go sit at the desk" attitude now. Working and living is more integrated. It can be a bit hard on the legs at the end of a long day (like right now) but in the morning and afternoon, it has been fine. I also brought my hand weights in so that periodically I can take a break and do a little exercise to the music I normally have playing.

I'm beginning to see some immediate health benefits that I'm not going to blog on for awhile until I note that they really are improvements and not just wishful thinking.

So far the only real drawback has been the lack of storage space, and the fact that I now have a big desk kicking around in the middle of my den until I find a new home for it. There are shelves in the entertainment center nearby that I can use for the time being, and I picked up an old wicker file box at the Re-Use Center in Ithaca to replace the file drawers I had.

At least I'm no longer sitting on my butt all day!

The stand-up desk is next to the window cat-seat, which has suddenly become quite popular now that I'm standing here all day.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The fallen trees are going away

After mowing around them for two years, and adding a few more to mow around after high winds hit last summer again, the trees across the farm road up to my cabin are finally going away. With a week or two of seriously cold weather, the ground is fairly well frozen, and the farm road is can be navigated by something other than a tractor or ATV. This is good, as "seriously cold" also means "high heating costs" and I need more wood.

I previously got my wood (excellent stuff!) from a friend who used to be able to back right up to my door with his truck and dump it near my woodpile. He recently invested in a trailer and prefers to bring multiple cords. This means A) I have to pay for 2-3 cords when I might not have the money, and 2) I have to haul the wood up from the driveway myself. I did that just once, and never again. Now that I have the dumpster in the driveway, the garbage truck needs to back in as well, so there can't be a pile of wood in the way.

So this fall has been the dance of the Craigslist Wood Guys. Luckily, as the winter rolls on, there are more guys who are willing to stack the wood for just a mere $20 extra. When I was younger, and also had more time, I would have saved that $20 and stacked it myself. But nowadays, with so few hours in the day left to me, I'm happy to have two guys toss it off the back of the truck and have it all done in a half hour.

The first guy who brought me wood delivered it after three days of pouring rain and stated that it should dry outside in 5 days, and inside in 2. Well, it still isn't really dry five weeks later, and I had to purchase WoodBlockFuel to get things going and keep things going, in my small stove. I asked him for an estimate on my roof, which I still haven't received, so I assumed he was too busy and had moved onto other things.

The second guy came this weekend and delivered a 3/4 load of excellent wood, and stacked it nicely. He's supposed to bring the rest of the cord this long weekend (his truck doesn't hold a whole cord). Let hope he shows up as planned. If he does, I'll be happy to have myself another good wood guy.

The morning after Wood Guy #2 delivered wood, the phone rang. He had asked me if "early" was OK to deliver the rest of the wood, so I wasn't surprised at the message asking for permission to come cut downed wood on my property--an offer I had made to both guys (plus a neighbor) as long as the trees across the farm road disappeared. Well, the message was actually from Wood Guy #1 (hey, don't rely on me for good voice recognition on the phone--I can barely remember people by face!) and he showed up yesterday afternoon and started making good progress on the downed trees. Of course today the temperatures have warmed up, so it will be too wet to make it up the hill again this weekend (sigh). But at least half of it is gone.

I'm thinking about investing in a small chain saw to take care of the little stuff that these guys will likely leave behind. They want to load up short sections of logs to take back to their woodsplitter, not fill up their truck with brush and tops, I'm sure. Whereas my little stove would be quite happy with the three-inch branches they are leaving behind. Chances are I won't cut off a foot cutting up such small stuff (she says).

Molly and I went for a walk up on the hill to check their progress after they drove off with the first load of logs, and I was surprised to see them get that much wood out of just a few medium sized trees. There are still some left to cut up and move, but things look much better than they did before.

There are still some left to go.

I haven't been up the hill in awhile because seeing all those impassible trees just made me depressed at my own inabilities. When I got to the top of the fields I discovered Mother Nature had been playing ball with my old lawn furniture I have perched up there as a resting spot on my summer walks.

I dug them out and set them up again.

The old bonfire wood also needs to go away, because it depresses me as well. Friends used to come over faithfully on a mid-September weekend for a birthday bonfire for myself and another woman in the group, but that no longer happens since my husband walked. The wood has been sitting so long, there have to be huge families of mice living under there now, and I don't want to send them up in a blaze of glory, so I'll likely just pull it apart and toss it off to the side, then dig a fire pit like I have at the house to burn it up piece-meal.

I'd be happier with a fire pit anyway, since the bonfire always made me nervous when things were dry. It's not like fire trucks can get up here easily. I'll probably also dig one up at the cabin, with wire grates for all of them to keep big chunks of sparks from wafting off into the trees. Up at the cabin there is dead stuff all around and very dry and dead standing trees.

Just for the fun of it, I took photographs of the designs on the backs of the wood chairs a friend made, down by the house. It's time to take them indoors to dry out and sand and refinish again, before they fall apart any more than they have.

It was such a good day that I actually finally got out my drawing things and began to work on a promised cat portrait.

And that was Saturday! Let's hope the rest of the long weekend continues to be as productive.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Poor neglected blog and home improvements

Yikes, almost a whole month since my last post?

Work has been busy. Busy in a good way. I'm headed into a three day weekend and I'm thrilled.

I've been doing some work on the house...ripping up old carpet, etc. and once the sun is shining the right way again, I'll take some more photos, but my bedroom upstairs (which I seldom sleep in, since I like to crash downstairs in the winter) now looks like this:

I ripped up the old carpet after peeking under a corner and seeing unpainted hemlock boards. Perhaps I could sand and finish them? Well, after I began ripping up the carpet I discovered they had been partially painted, and...oopsie....the "floorboards" were actually the ceiling boards of the den below.

...and you could see right downstairs. So I went at the floorboards with pale green paint and caulk....

It's still a major improvement over 20 year old brown industrial carpet, which looked good when we moved in, but had experienced some serious wear and tear both before and after our arrival.

Here is the other half of the room:

The table and chairs I picked up alongside the road from a "free" pile at a neighbors.

This entire room was redone to accommodate the rug I purchased off of The ferny one. I might have had too much wine when I purchased it, but I'm glad I did. I received a gift card via work. I could not spend it on bills, so I targeted the house. While surfing around, I found the ferny rug, and somehow ended up buying it, expecting it not to arrive for weeks. In two days, it was on my doorstep. Well, I assumed, it would take weeks for the wrinkles to fall out. Nope, it laid flat as soon as I unrolled it, and I had a friend due to come and stay two days later. That meant making the room accommodate the new rug, which meant ripping up the old one.

Then the friend couldn't make it. Oh was great incentive to rip up old stinky carpet and paint and caulk floors!

The cat in the photo is Tommy, with his permanently runny eyes, and thick fur that makes him look tubby (he's only seven pounds although he looks about fifteen).

One nice thing about the gap in the floor is that the heat from the woodstove make the bedroom the second warmest room in the house. Also, when I play music downstairs, I can hear it upstairs. If new owners in the future don't like those options, they can just lay down a hardwood floor, or put down a pad and carpet again.

I'm not sure my taste matches the rest of the world, but personally, I love it. :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012


I like this. And I don't mean the long "Dallas" commercial that comes before it.

Post note: The great music I posted somehow got hijacked by "Gangnum Style" or however you spell it, which is fun if you haven't seen it, but certainly not blogworthy. Sorry if you sat through it wondering what the heck I liked about it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mom, this one is for you

My mother and I were having a conversation, and I professed to believe that not only were there people who didn't believe in global warming, but that there are people who believe that the information on glaciers melting, etc. where all a lie. I had sort of pulled that out of my hat, although I do believe it. However, funnily (and sadly), I found this article only a few hours later.

Of course, it's possible Daniel is just being a troll, but I still found the timing hilariously coincidental.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hey Mom!

Look what my neighbor's have:

It's a wagon, not a sedan, but it's the right color, isn't it?

I wonder how many cat traps I could put in that baby. :) This is what it would look like all prettied up.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Running out of summer

So many projects to get done. I have this $5 divider I got off of Craigslist--stealing an idea from my sister Kathy, to use it to hide the exercise equipment in my living room. It's not long enough, so I dug out the two shutters I bought a couple of years ago that were the wrong length. They aren't the same length, but with one on each end it should look okay.

I have countless other things I'm tripping over for projects. Wallpaper for the ceiling in one cat room. Painted shelves that have not yet been hung. A half painted landing, with paint cans in the hallway. Oh well. Just keep on chugging.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

For my mom

This may be your next Christmas present! A Scarecrow for your pigeons.

Finding a home for my sign

Awhile ago I was searching for a name for my farm, and came up with "Abbey Farm." I talk to my house sometimes, and her name is Abbey. :)

I spent many hours painting this sign for the barn, however it was confusing to people when they came looking for "The Owl House" and they would drive on by. So I brought it up to my porch. I wasn't going to toss it because I'd put so much time into it. It finally occurred to me to give it away to another Abbey Farm.

The internet makes this possible.

So I'm posting it here so I can point people to it. I'll reach out to Abbey Farms, from smallest, to largest, until I find someone who would like it. Then I'll ship it off, and it will have a new home!

Then I'll need to paint a new sign for the Owl House.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Land of Porch

Ivan periodically exhibits a tyrannical streak. The other day I noticed Molly was hanging out inside on a beautiful day. The door to the screened porch was open. Odd. Then I noted that Ivan had chosen a particularly uncomfortable lounging spot right in the crack of the propped anyone who dared to pass would have to step over him.

Cruel, cruel kitty.

Having the porch screened in has added a new dimension to our lives. It used to be Molly's domain, and still is in the evening when the door is closed but she is clipped out, lounging on her bed. She seems to enjoy having the cats wander out during the day, except if they express interest in her food bowl.

I have my rocker, and a few extra chairs in case someone comes by. The rocker was my ex's, and I feel a bit of a bond with it, because surprisingly, he left it behind. I found it in the barn and figured it may as well rot used on the porch than rot forgotten in the barn. As an antique, it should be safely in a house.

It's where I have my coffee in the morning (bundled in a sweatshirt this past week), where I read in the evening with my glowing Kindle, and sometimes where I bring my laptop to work on a cloudy day when there is no glare. I can gaze down over my wide front lawn, and watch my neighbors take their long rambling walks down the road. Yesterday, two horses came by with their riders. I love my porch and rocker, with Molly standing guard.

Two weeks ago I was scrolling through the furniture section of Craiglist. Without TV, it is my only entertainment.

I clicked on "arts and crafts rocker" and blinked in astonishment.

There was my rocker. Dirt cheap. The finish was more red, and in better shape. I didn't even stop to think. I fired off an email. Sadly I received the reply that he was showing it to someone that afternoon. Oh well. A matched set was not meant to be. Later, however, he emailed back. The woman had admired it, hemmed and hawed about her money situation, and ultimately did not take it.

I met him in the Walmart parking lot and learned that he had refinished the piece himself a few years before. He picked it up, painted black, at a garage sale. I can't begin to imagine all the work that must have gone into the chair, stripping off all that paint from all that decorative wood.

So now the porch is home to two beautiful chairs (click the photo for a closer view). Feel free to come sit in one.

If Ivan will let you.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Watching paint dry....

Base boards (white) and first coat on the stairs (gray/blue). Touch-ups and walls once the stairs dry....

Cleaning up corners

Keeping "selling the house" in mind there are a lot of things I know that I, were I buying a house, would be viewed critically. The house is out-dated and there is not a lot I can do about that. Nonetheless, there are things that people would look at as "work" that might turn them away from the place.

These are also things that would make me happier if they were done, as well.

One of these is the carpet upstairs. Shudders. It was clearly put down (and put down securely) to cover up pine stairs and floors. There is no hope I'm going to find some gleaming oak floor boards under there. This was a pine and hemlock forest...not an oak forest.

The carpet they chose was very utilitarian. Good for kids, very very bad for cats. Cats should never have loop-style carpet. Just a few pulls make it look like crap. To the credit of the carpet, it took 5 years to start looking like crap, but now it really is awful.

However, what it hid is pretty bad. I tend to forget my place is a farm house. The outside looks it, but the inside has been re-done and most of the charming farm features have been ripped out or covered up. Here is what the carpet covered up:

Good old farmhouse stairs.

My mother gave me a brand new gallon of pale gray primer and a new gallon of paint, so I decided to re-paint the landing walls. I personally like the cheerful orange color, but I know it will freak a lot of visitors out. So I will repaint the landing gray, and the stairs a blue-gray (sadly, the stair paint I got is not as blue as I thought, but again, that's probably just as well, for the sensibilities of "normal" people). Until I can afford a runner that I like, I'm going to do something inventive with burlap that I saw online. I need something so three-legged Cricket has something to get her claws into, and also something that will help keep me from wiping out on the stairs.

I considered just leaving them bare, but I've already fallen down the stairs once. Should I fall down them again, I'd rather have something softening the blow. Maybe something like this. But that runner would be around $200 with shipping, and the burlap was only twelve bucks. So there you go.

Oh, here's something cheaper, with only two bucks for shipping, and around $100.

I think I have a $50 credit with anyway.

More later.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

How many posts can you title "So much to do?"

Weekends start out so hopeful. It seems like such a large expanse of time stretches before you. Once Saturday is over you have---wonder of wonders!--all of Sunday!

Since getting a "career job" eight years ago, this hopeful feeling has mostly been squashed. Saturday I usually get in my inbox to take care of the things I need to wrap up from the week before. Sunday I jump in to get set up for Monday. All around me is a house that may or may not be messy (depending on how good I was at keeping picked up after myself), and of course people I promised to help, during the week, that now, hey, I REALLY ought to be helping.

Oh well! At least it is a gorgeous day. The kind of beautiful breezy sunny morning you may only get in the east, with all its thick leafy trees and scads of singing birds. Every area has it's own kind of "Beautiful", but every time I contemplate leaving this area, no other regional beauty feels as homelike as this.

This week, the fledgling Spencer Farmer's Market opens. Valarie stopped when she was driving by to remind me, but I actually had it on my radar. Sadly, if you want the fresh Finnish bread, not frozen, you have to be there at 9:00 am, not 10:00 am. I'll remember that the next time I go. I did pick up blueberries, some greens for dinner, and a bar of local soap. I refused to even look at the flowers. As much as I love buying local flowers, I have to remind myself that $8 is a couple of dinners, and there are flowers in my own fields if I would just get out there and pick them.

There was produce, jewelry, and quilts, jam...a nice combination of things for a teeny market. I will start every Saturday there, when I am home.

Alas, they were out of peas. Hopefully Mandeville's will have some the next time I go by.

So I have many many many many things to get done this weekend. The days are now getting shorter instead of longer. Summer will escape me. Luckily I have vacation and plan to start taking Fridays off, which will stretch my beloved weekends to a manageable space of time.

I'm sure my family and friends feel the same. So much to do, so little time. I guess the important part is trying to enjoy those tasks.

It's hard not to enjoy them on a beautiful day like this!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The wonders of Facebook

My high school friend, Beth, posted a true blast from the past on her Facebook page...a genuine award certificate from the Bouquet Lunch Club, which was our lunch table in high school. Rest assured, we were not budding gardeners. "Bouquet" was used quite differently than the common usage, and just mentioning the soap "Cashmere Bouquet" set us off into at least five minutes of high-school variety laughter.

I only re-connected with my friends with the advent of Facebook, and I've been able to get together with them a few times. They are still as good, crazy, and hilarious as ever, despite everything life has thrown at us all.

Not all of my friends are still with us to celebrate these memories, but things like this let me remember them while laughing, which I would think would be how they might want to be remembered.

Click the photo to enlarge it, Mom, there are names there you will know!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Danger, danger! Community garage sale weekend!

I grabbed my packages for the week and headed out to catch the post office before it closed at noon. On my way I encountered a yard sale, so I stopped. A little farther on, was another sale, and another! Oh garage sale weekend! Hide me!

Luckily, early birds had picked things over, and had picked over even more by the time I got my "have to do it before noon" errands run. However, I did scored some fun and useful things:

I've resolved only to buy things I need,already use, or had planned to buy, when I stop at sales. I don't need more "stuff." Amazingly, I found quite a few things I already had on my list to buy. Of course, if I find brand new, quality pillar candles (5 for $2), I always buy them, because they are so expensive at stores and I am a candle junkie. I have also been keeping my eyes open for purple Christmas lights since the strand on my ficus in the great room died, and I refuse to pay $20 now for what I could purchase for five dollars at Halloween. I found a working purple strand at one sale for $1 in a pile of Christmas and Halloween decorations ("Dad! She would have paid $2!" the son protested). A hammer ($1). You can never have too many hammers. An almost new Weber grill ($1), which I had already decided to buy at a store since now, with bears in the yard, buying a new $100 gas grill to replace my old one (given away for scrap metal) doesn't make sense. It would just get tipped over by hungry bruins.

I also found a nearly new blanket (that sort of plushy creepy hotel type) to cut up for the cats since I'm sure cat fur will wash off easily ($2). There was a brand new window screen to replace the smaller, rusty one in the cat facility ($2). An alarm clock (25 cents -- tested, works!) which was on my list to buy this weekend because the one I bought from Walmart a few months ago is so obnoxious and loud that I turn it off rather than hit snooze, and then I oversleep. And there was a new package of candle lantern bags for a quarter--one of those things I always want to buy to line the walk up to the house for my yearly holiday party, then put right back when I see the price tag for them.

I found a new, soft seat for my Schwinn bike ($1). The women who were set up at the Grange, and myself, had a good laugh about fat butts. That purchase took me quite awhile to decide on, since my bike still sits unused this year because the gears need adjusting.

I did break my standard rule, however, and bought three silly things.

There was a bead window decoration that clearly was a waste of money as packaged ($1, bargained down from $3). The thing would have been tangled up before it was even unwrapped. And indeed, since I ultimately unwrapped it, I can attest to this. However I did not use it as intended. I cut it apart and added the beaded strings to the ugly apple tree which is adorned with beads and chimes that come my way.

I also found two little cast iron owl brackets that matched the one I already have in the bathroom (50 cents for both).

Finally, at the last place I stopped, there was this ivory or bone (far more likely) rose for $1:

Since I have no plans to sell it, it doesn't matter how much it's worth, but as soon as I saw it, I knew it was worth more than a buck, and would be fun to wear on a neck ribbon this summer. It also matches the earrings from my family that my mother recently gave me.

Then it was time to stop. That was my enjoyable drive through Spencer this morning. I also got to enjoy the warm day stringing my beads up on the tree. I can grill some of my local pork for dinner on the new grill (hmmm...I'll have to get charcoal). This afternoon I'll replace the screen in the cat room, and this evening I can replace the purple lights on my ficus tree.

All for less than $13 bucks. I've so glad all the antiques, etc. were gone, and there was nothing pricey to tempt me!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hickories Park, Owego

The weekend is moving way too fast, as weekends do. I did manage to get the lawn mowed and trimmed so that it looks reasonably respectable. While having a forest in the backyard can be pretty, trimming around all those trees is a bit of a bear.

I returned two cats to the Owego/Lisle farm, and took the three kittens to the Tompkins SPCA where they will get adopted far more quickly than here. So I have no cats at all in the downstairs section of the barn. This pleases me, since I've been having the nervous jitters about having any cats down there with the bear hanging out.

He came by earlier this week, and then again tonight. It was still light out when he showed up today, and he did run when I yelled at him and he could see me, unlike the other night when he just kept wandering around the house despite my yells. I had been planning on taking Wings over to his new home, but called and cancelled. It's a long walk from the car to the house when there's a bear lurking around.

So far he has left the dumpster alone. I put a piece of wood on top so I'll be able to tell if he tries to get inside.

After I chased the bear off, I yelled "Bear's out!" as loud as I could across the neighborhood. It must have had some impact, because all the parties seemed to wrap up and go quiet immediately afterward. I'm guessing they moved inside.

I stopped at Hickories Park in Owego on my way back from the farm, and had a fast-food dinner sitting on the bank watching the river go by.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A few years ago, my mother gifted me with family crystal. "Crystal" and "cats" are a disastrous combination, so the crystal has remained safely packed away. In fact, I'd only unwrapped one wine glass so I could see what it looked like. I wasn't even sure what I possessed, but I didn't want to disturb the protective wrapping and risk having something break while in storage in my upstairs kneewall.

I've been thinking about bringing it out, but I don't own a china cabinet. My friend Debra offered a small hutch she had in storage, but I hadn't gotten around to taking her up on the offer.

Then one day, as I idly poked through Craiglist, I came across an all-glass cabinet for $30.

Only thirty bucks? It was way too early on a Saturday morning to call the poster, but then I saw it had been posted just a few minutes earlier. Whoever it was, they were already up. I called, claimed it, and then later in the day I called my friend Nancy, who works at her grooming shop on Saturdays, to see if I could rope her into helping me load it in my car.

Unwrapping the crystal was a joy and a perplexity. The glasses are beautiful, but I'm not sure what they are all used for. Water, wine, brandy, and cordial? I love the tiniest cordial glasses, and all the twisted amber stems. In the gold great room, it's as if I planned the match.

Believe me, I did not.

Do click to expand the photos if your computer will handle it, just to see those beautiful stems.

I hope my mom will be happy to see the crystal finally on display. In fact, when I had friends over, the cabinet was the first place they went. While I may be too terrified to use it, it will at least get looked at.

It occurred to me that there was room to add other family heirlooms I had received over the years, so I took the alabaster doves and the leaded cream and sugar set that my mother had given me, and added them as well.

So now most of my family treasures are in one place.

Molly doesn't care, although she does like the great room on Sundays, since she is allowed on the couch while I read the Sunday paper.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I was going to start out with a rant about taming my paperwork.

Then I got the nicest Facebook post. It's 6am. I'm on my second cup of coffee. I've already got 5 inches of paper on the "recycle" pile as I divest myself of paper that I'm been allowing to assist in disrupting my life. Up pops this cute photo of three kittens:

And you're thinking: "Okay, cute. But not earth-shaking. What's the point?"

(First off, as soon as I see these kittens, my brain immediately starts rattling away, wondering if they are recovering from anesthesia as a pediatric spay/neuter clinic, and if the volunteers made those little wake-up suits...but, not my point)

The point is, the post specifically put on my wall is from a person I knew in high school. She was quite nice to me in high school. However, let's be clear, I was not exactly in the highest social sphere at Norwich Middle and High School. I was lucky enough to have relocated from my childhood school (where I was considered a certifiable cootie girl) to Norwich, where I escaped my past reputation for highwaters and cat-eyed glasses. In Norwich, my earliest friends told me outright that wearing pants with stretch elastic waists would doom me for eternity (I begged for my first pair of jeans on my 14th birthday and got them. Wranglers. What was the name of that store on main street in Norwich? I do recall the wood floors).

There were kids up the social ladder who could be despicable to the mid-to-bottom dwellers. And there were kids up the social ladder who tolerated us. And then there were the handful of kids up the social ladder who somehow had managed to hang out there near the top of the food chain, and still manage to be sincerely nice to everyone. Not beaming nice. Not sticky sweet nice. Just plain good people. I'm not sure how one manages to be "good people" when you are dealing with the horrors of being 17, but lots of kids somehow manage it.

At any rate, I had absolutely lost track of this person in the passage of three decades, until the advent of Facebook. And on Facebook, you have lots of "friends" who are really just people you used to know. I tracked down one high school friend, which meant I was suddenly connected to a vast number of other people in that high school sphere. This was a huge help when reunion time rolled around. I now knew that one person was into running, another person had three kids, etc. I am sure Facebook has improved the high school reunion experience exponentially.

This morning, on my wall, this little cat photo appears. From this particular high school acquaintance who has no real reason to think of me at 6 am other than the fact that she saw this cute kitten photo, knew I work with cats because innumerable cat posts cross her Facebook news scroller that originate from me, and she takes the time to post this photo to me.

I'm sure I wasn't on her to-do list today.

So instead of dashing off a rant about the slavery of paperwork, I'm posting about people just plain being thoughtful and nice.

See what one little gesture will do? I must remember this.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Weekend is coming...

More trash relief! I found a husband-wife business who will come haul away the one pickup truck load of construction type junk I have in my lower barn that can't go in the dumpster. There's a big roll of carpet, some cut up rolls of carpet, old cat trees, and an old cat shelter.

Once that is out of there I can have a load of washed crushed stone brought in to cover the dirt section of the floor. After I get the buckets of old motor oil hauled to the hazardous waste place in Binghamton, the bottom of the barn will be in good shape.

What a relief! I have been putting off trying to find someone to haul away junk because I was worried it might end up getting tipped off in the woods. But these folks do have a permit for a transfer station, and sound like a legitimate business.

While they are here I'll find out if they have the know-how to get the tiller started this spring. If they do, I'll have them back to show me how so perhaps this year I can get the catnip in. Who knows how long it will take to get the farm on the market and sold, so I thought if it turned out I could not sell the dried catnip, I could at least gift it to the many people who make catnip toys for animals shelters.

Spring is coming.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Is it time to move?

Yesterday I got together with a friend in Waverly to have breakfast, pick up some equipment I had lent, and visit her new managed colony that arose when a group of cats suddenly showed up under her house this past month.

I really got a glimpse of how isolated life had become for me, to the point of becoming crippling to the work I want to do. We stopped first at Tomossos's on the golf course, which turned out not to serve breakfast on Saturdays, but whose staff Deb knew by name and who probably would have opened the place up for lunch early for her had we asked. We headed to downtown Waverly to eat at Becky's Diner instead, where people constantly stopped by to say "hi." Then it was on over to the Red Door Cafe--a project of the Open Door Mission in Owego. (Here is their Facebook page)

I asked if they had wireless. Yes indeed they do. Once again, Debra knew everyone by name.

Now, let's be truthful, even if I moved into a small town, I would not be a "knows everyone by name" person. First of all, I have to say the name of every new person I meet aloud three times to have any hope of remembering it. Second of all, I don't have Debra's balance of friendliness, grace, and innate competence. I am a pretty good presenter, but that's not my real side.

Nonetheless, it was clear by just one morning that by living in the country I was missing something I enjoy very much, and that is being part of a community of people who meet regularly by chance, not by arrangement.

Because NYS just hasn't been able to get its ass in gear to make a decision about the natural gas situation, I've been sitting here frittering away my money because I haven't been sure if I should stay or go. I got out of my gas lease because it didn't protect the property, but that also meant not taking the money that might have kept things afloat. I could help a lot more people without the constant stress of trying to pay my bills, and caring for all of this property, if I lived in a smaller house with no land. I'd be closer to people interested in helping out. Yes, I'd probably have more people knocking on my door to help, but if we get this spay/neuter fund going, there would be a network and funding to assist them.

There's a big difference between 58 acres, a huge barn, a huge house, and something like this.

It will take a long while to sell this place, and there's work that needs to be done whether I stay or not. But basically the decision has been made to sell, unless some miracle comes along (a good sound gas lease with good state oversight). Cat rescue will still continue. It may even continue far better than before.

It just won't be here. My dream of a beautiful facility along the creek will need to be given up, but you know, there are other ways to achieve a similar dream that may in fact be more achievable and do more good.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

25 neat tips

These are really neat. Thank you to Donna, who shared it on Facebook.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Years Resolution

To be playing this song on my porch this summer.

And no I never realized Styx had mandolin, accordion, string bass, and tambourine as primary instruments. I don't think I even knew what a mandolin was when I was a teenager listening to Styx.

Years later, with orchestra.

Monday, January 2, 2012

When people get what they wanted...

You can check our Randy Glasbergen's cartoon's here. He went to school with my sister and always wanted to be a cartoonist. And made it. Every time one of his cartoons pops up in a magazine I'm reading I think, "See, you can become what you dream of being." I'm sure he worked his ass off to do it. Perhaps with naps taken strategically.

Really easy, really good vegetable chili

The New Yorker recently had a chili recipe that sounded simple and good---and healthy---so I decided to give it a try. I tweaked it a bit because some of the ingredients were the kind of thing you could only find if you lived in...say....New York City...rather than Spencer.

I was really surprised at how good it is. If you like a mildish chili that nonetheless taste like chili and not like some bland chili imitation, you'll like this.

1 quart good-quality chicken broth (their words, not mine). I used water and two bouillon cubes because I can't afford broth if I don't have it in the freezer. H eated in large saucepan.
1 can diced canned tomatoes. I used garlic/onion type
1 TBLS olive oil
1 red bell pepper diced (green is fine if you prefer)
1 onion medium diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 TBLSP chili powder (make sure it isn't old and stale. You know how that goes)
1 teaspoon cumin and oregano (I made it one rounded teaspoon of both)
2 cans black beans drained (I used good quality/organic. I'll try with cheap beans next time)
1 can corn, drained (recipe called for two. I would not suggest it)
1/4 cup Quaker Old Fashioned grits (my addition. I dislike grits on their own, but they are great to add to stew-type soups. They are fortified so it adds nutrients as well)
Black pepper/salt to taste (my addition)
3-4 drops chili hot sauce (my addition)

To add close to serving:
1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional) (recipe recommended 1/4 cup. That seemed like a "cilantro fanatic's" amount to me and I reduced it).

Saute oil, pepper, onion, garlic, until tender, around 5 minutes
Add cumin, chili pepper, oregano, about 1 minute.
Add beans, tomato, corn, grits to broth in saucepan.
Add sauted veggies to broth in saucepan
Let simmer for 20 minutes or so.
Add 3-4 drops hot chili sauce, salt, pepper. Use restraint. Come back in 10 minutes, taste, and adjust.
About ten minutes before serving, add cilantro.

This was good without the cilantro, if you are not a cilantro fan.

If you like hot chili, I'm sure you can spice this up on your own. Personally, I dislike having to concentrate on recovering from my food while I'm eating it.

This recipe called for 1 oz dark chocolate. Actually, I didn't find that the chocolate added anything to it and dampened to tomato flavor. I would not add it next time.

Feel free to share your chili secrets in comments.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Could use another day or it 2012 yet?

I did manage to decorate a bit this year, but it never really seemed like Christmas with that capital "C." Suddenly it's over and now I have to decide to take them all down again.

I'm relieved that New Year is a week after Christmas. I feel like I have another whole week of Christmas-past to finish up the holiday tasks that I, blessedly, actually did get started.

Not finished yet, though, so I'm glad that I can mentally stretch Christmas out until next Monday. There will be people who are clearly getting their Christmas cards, not just after Christmas, but MAILED after Christmas.

I am putting all the addresses into databases this year, so that next year should be far simpler. Once again I'm putting on the big girl pants. Here I am, pushing 50, finally getting a Christmas card list in order.

The fence never looked quite right without snow!

The three black bundles of energy are still here. Tortellini was nearly adopted but the home visit didn't pass--a first for me. They are driving the older cats absolutely crazy. It's a good thing I can keep them in the upstairs bedroom at night so the house cat can have some peace and relaxation. They are such lovely cats. I'm going to have to pull out the stops to get them homes.

I almost considered putting up a tree in the house, but I decided the stress of keeping it upright and the ornaments unbroken would ruin the holiday. Instead I installed a smaller tree on the front porch. Since I had no guests for Christmas, far more people enjoyed it out there, anyway. I know I did.

The cats aren't the only ones who get presents from adopters. I'll post more photos when there is better light, but these are the ones that made me laugh. I stole a cat toy from Mary's stash, because I thought the mouse was too cute to get chewed on (he'll go in with my tree ornaments), and Christy and Gordan gave me a tiny fiber optic Christmas tree that is powered off the USB on any computer. It changes color and it makes me smile.

Lynn in NJ sent me favorite of all the silly gifts...

I'm awfully glad they don't have udders and teats! And they are WARM!