Thursday, August 30, 2012


Guess who is visiting?
(And will be getting another bath this weekend!)

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Well, today went a little differently than I thought it would when I rolled out of bed this morning. I was up rather earlier than I am on a weekend, and raring to go. My goals were to:
- plant a peony that's been living in a bucket for far too long
- buy some fabric to modify my dress (I'm thinking of adding some coordinating side panels so that my belly-fat isn't so obvious... other options are buy a new dress, or buy spanx)
- buy some wood to make the raised garden beds I've been planning
- buy groceries

I was initially going to plant the peony first, but, since I know I can get a bit carried away while gardening, I thought perhaps I should shower & go to the fabric store first, since it doesn't stay open very late. After my shower, I watered my plants, trimmed the dead lobelia out of my hanging basket (it suffered from my inattention to watering, but the other two plants are still hanging in there), loaded dirty dishes into the dishwasher (I was a bit lazy the past few days), and flipped through this week's flyers so that I could get them into the recycling.

While I was doing this, Dad showed up. (He had arranged with the neighbour who owns a bobcat to get the lathe from the garage into the truck.) I sat with him while he ate lunch, and then decided to do gardening while he was here, since I figured I'd see more of him that way, and the store would still be open by the time he left.

Before I tackled the peony, I finally got around to putting those weeds from a few weeks back into a trash can. (Yeah, I've been lazy.)

Prior to dad showing up, the three trash cans contained only one bag of kitchen trash. (Okay, technically I didn't put it in there until after he arrived, even though I had put the bag by the back door last night or the night before... did I mention that I was lazy the past couple of days? I blame my lingering gastroenteritis.) Since that weekend I did all the weeding, I've only had one small bag per week. This week? Why does it all happen at once? But I'm getting ahead of myself...

First off, the weeds from the other week filled one trash can. Oh... there was also a few things from near the big pile of weeds. For some reason, I went over by the blackberries, and noticed that one (which turned out to be several) of the canes had decided to grow *into* the air conditioner, between the outer cover and the cooling fins:
Although I hadn't planned on extracting blackberries from the AC unit, I didn't think this was something I wanted to put off. There ended up being at least four canes growing into the unit, plus one virginia creeper vine. Argh. The canes themselves were easy to pull out, but then I had to get the rest of the leaves (as much as I could, at least) out with a pair of needle nosed pliers. (At some point I should probably go out with a wrench and a vacuum cleaner, take the cover off, and properly clean the fins... but not today.) The blackberries also had a cane growing up the downspout:
*Why*, with all the other places they could grow, are the canes *trying* to grow into dark crevices?!? *sigh*

Dad got me to help him take the extension ladder out of the garage (so that he could open the garage door where the lathe was), so, since the backyard was an obstacle course of dad's junk, I asked him to take the trash can from where I had put it while filling it with weeds (and blackberry canes) to the pick-up spot beside the garage in the back lane.

I guess because he then had to use that gate, he commented that the raspberries needed tying up. I knew that they did (they grew quite a bit since I last tied them up), and had been planning on getting to them after the peony, but decided to do them next. Didn't I do a lovely job of this spot?:
(I forgot to take a "before" photo... partially because this wasn't what I had intended on doing.) Not only did I tie up the canes, but I also got my broom out and swept up the pine needles, and pulled some of the weeds beside the sidewalk. Since I had the broom out, I also swept the other side of the gate, shovelled the avalanche of pine needles off of the pad, and scraped them back from the edge of the dirt area:
Since there are no "before" photos, you'll just have to take my word for it that this is an *amazing* improvement.

When I went to throw out the stuff accumulated from dealing with that section of raspberries, I noticed that there were now only two garbage cans beside the garage, despite dad having brought the one full of weeds. Hmmm... looks like dad will be throwing out some stuff from the garage (a good thing), but that means I only have the smallest one left for anything I produce from now until Wednesday, when the next pick-up is. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, but I tend to fill trash cans while gardening. (All those weeds that have gone to seed, branches that would take too long to compost, etc.) Oh well... I can always use trash bags, or just leave weeds in a pile for the next pick-up, like I did that last time. :P

So, I spent the next while working on the raspberry canes between the parking pad and the back lane, which also needed tying up.

After the lathe was loaded in the truck (plus the "workbench" dad got on freecycle, yay!), I ended up talking with dad and the neighbour for a bit. Dad remembered that the neighbour had finished his own concrete for his garage, and so was thinking we could hire him to do that job when we concrete the back parking pad. The neighbour was a bit skeptical about concreting the pad. After dad left, I talked with the neighbour some more. Before I continue, here's a bit of background on the back parking area: once upon a time, the area was gravel. After my parents divorced (I'm pretty sure it was after), my dad got motivated to concrete the pad, probably because it tended to be quite weedy. He had someone dig down quite a ways and (he says, could be) had 6" of 3/4" gravel dumped in the hole. However, (a), he didn't put any membrane between the dirt and the gravel, and (b), he figured the cars parking on it would compact the gravel, and so he could skip that labour. Um, no: Dad always parked in exactly the same spot, and so ended up with deep ruts under his truck wheels, and the gravel and mud probably got rather churned together. Back to the present: when the neigbour was driving the bobcat on the gravel, it moved a *lot*, indicating it was *not* going to provide a proper support for a concrete pad, and the pad would just end up cracking in a few years. (Thus flushing the money for rebar and concrete down the drain, plus I'd have to pay for someone to break up and haul away the concrete, since concrete with rebar can't be taken to the dump for free.) Since the bobcat was there anyway, my neighbour scraped down a bit to see just how much gravel there was, and how it was holding up. Turns out there's pockets of mud (as expected) in the gravel:
Neighbour's suggestion: dig down 12", put down a membrane, start with broken concrete chunks (which are cheap, and will interlock), put limestone gravel down on top of that (we might be able to salvage some of what is there), pack it *properly*, then put pavers on top. Dad isn't a fan of pavers, saying they move. Neighbour says that they won't, if the foundation is done correctly. However, the base for both would be basically the same, so I'm getting him to write up a proposal (with options) that I can present to dad. (If *I* say it, he'll think he knows more than me. If I come with the contractor neighbour's proposal, and break in the idea over time, I think I have a shot.) At any rate, the neighbour has said he'd give me a good rate, I've seen that he's done good work at his place, and I can always just park on the base for a bit (with a bit of extra gravel at the back lane edge, of course, so that I can get in and out of course) until things are more decided. Also, the neighbour put the gravel back level enough that I'll be able to park there for the winter, which is what I want for the short term anyway. (Depending on the numbers the neighbour comes back with, I may start the work this fall, or I may wait until next summer, when I have more savings. I've let him know this.)
Upside of playing with the gravel: a bunch of the weeds got chewed up. ;)

After he left, I went back to tying up raspberries. (How did that get to be such a big job?!?) Here's the tied up raspberries by the trash cans:
(Dad left me a bit of space in the third trash can, and now all three are full to the top.) Here are the canes beside the parking pad:
I still have more to tie up... but I ran out of the scraps of kitchen cotton I had outside, and decided to leave the rest until another time, possibly tomorrow. (Depends... I still need groceries, and I really should do that tomorrow, given what I'm out of and low on.)

However, while I was trimming the broken canes (argh, who keeps breaking them!?!!?), I discovered:
Looks like I have raspberry cane borers. (And the broken canes were probably their fault.) That would also explain why so few canes survived last winter. Of course, I only discovered this near the end of my time outside, plus I didn't know the correct course of action until after I came inside to google, so dealing with them properly (cutting damaged canes and burning them) will have to wait. (I'm going to leave the ones in the trash cans there, but new cuttings will get burned in the fireplace in the back yard that dad hasn't removed yet, using firewood also left behind... and the ashes will be helpful in treating the highly acidic bed piled deep with pine needles. Win-win-win: borers burned, more ashes for the garden, and less firewood lying around.)

Also on my to-do list, but not on the high priority list for today: weeding my tiny patch that has garlic, onions, and a few other things planted.
Since I wasn't planning on doing this tonight (by the time I ran out of string, I was feeling dehydrated and hungry), also no "before" photo. But, while I went past it, I figured I'd pull a few weeds.. and ended up pulling this whole pile:
(Behind the post... in front of the post is more stuff that needs pulling.) Again, you'll just have to trust me that it looks better than before. And, since my trash cans are already full, I just left that pile where it was. :P

Also discovered and tackled:
When dad moved a piece of his crap from beside the garage (yay, another piece left! ...I think), the neighbour noticed that wasps had started building a nest behind it, in a crevice between the trim and siding on the garage. I used some of the expired wasp spray dad had bought. Dad (previously): "they were clearing it out cheap!" Me (today, in my head): "...uh yeah.... that's because it expired in 1998, and the aerosol has pretty much all escaped..." However, it had just enough oomph to escape the can, and that's all that was needed in this case. The way the wasps reacted, I think it was still poisonous to them. I'll check again later, when I think of it, just in case.

To finish off tonight's post, a very clean deck screw:
This deck screw is not remarkable because of it's cleanliness... that can be explained by the fact that it accidentally went through the wash. What *is* remarkable about it is that there should have been *two* deck screws. (There were two left over from what I had borrowed from my uncle's supply in the garage, and I was intending to return, but had apparently forgotten in a pocket of my grub shorts.) I cannot find the other deck screw in the washer or the dryer. How does a 2.5" deck screw disappear? (It's not in any of my pockets either.) So far I haven't discovered any new holes in my clothes as a result of this misadventure... but then, I still need to actually *fold* my clean laundry.

Okay... off to fold the laundry, make the bed, and go to sleep. (How did it get to be so late?!?)

PS: The peony is still waiting to be planted.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

House Update: Last Weekend

Last weekend I got the closet shelves up, sort of:
Apparently I trimmed this one a bit short, so I need to add some wedges on each edge so that it doesn't shift too far to one side, and thus fall down. (I think the back, where I measured, might be a bit narrower than the front, which contributed to the measuring difficulty.)

The shelf is also up in the master bedroom, but each of the middle braces missed studs (so much for using a stud finder!), and also went in a little high (they're curved at the bend, which makes it difficult to be accurate), so I want to move them before I call it "done". That shelf I cut a smidge too long, and so had to trim one end a bit.

This clothes line in the laundry room used to go from beside the window (you can still see the hole in the wall) to above my head:
The problem with that configuration meant that the shirts on hangers brushed up against the wall (it was too close to the wall), and they got in your way when doing laundry (not a very big room). It's now a bit of a challenge to reach the hangers over the dead space (where the flat drying racks are), but it can be done, and I'm thinking of making a pole with a hook to act as an assistant:
Two other downsides to this configuration:
1. I can no longer hang long stuff (which, ironically, I never had the need, until *just* after moving the line), and
2. the ironing board is in the way.
It's not a great place for the ironing board anyway, since it will get dusty there. It's on my list of things to figure out. I did find a random hook in the entryway to the livingroom to hang my dress on to dry, but I expect I'll add a hook or something at the top of the entryway to the laundry room... it'll still get in the way when you do laundry, but it's not that often that I want to hang something long to dry.

I also "unpacked" the modified jean legs that I use to store plastic bags and rags, and hung them up on random screws in the wall of the laundry room:

This screw I installed myself:
As I put it in, I remembered why my mom had storage space for brooms, but I don't: There's some shelves in the broom closet that didn't used to be there! However, those shelves are very handy for storing cleaning products. So I need to figure out if I want to find a new place for the cleaning products, or a new place for the brooms and mops. (I think my dad's solution may have been to not have brooms and mops, or he kept them where they were used... like beside the tub, where the mop caught leaks. (I don't want to store my mop beside the tub, thanks.)

I'm contemplating putting some hooks on the side of the laundry room for the brooms and mops, but that's not really an ideal situation, since they'll be visible to people going to and from the kitchen, plus they'll make the laundry room dustier.

Today, I'm in a mood to get stuff done... however, there's so much I *want* to do, I'm being struck with indecision. Plus there's the lingering gastroenteritis, that makes me want to stick close to washrooms... :P

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Monkeying Around

I finally have a second sock monkey, this one for myself:

You want me to do *WHAT*?

Dad thinks the water is from the drain hose being blocked. He suggested I blow into the drain pipe:
(Uh... *how*?)

I decided to start at the other end:
See the U shaped trap? I disconnected the right side, and tried pouring water down. Water poured. Nothing seemed to be dripping out of the furnace side, though. *sigh* I reconnected the trap, cupped my hands around the outlet, kneeled down, and blew. I heard some gurgles, so I'm assuming I actually managed an okay seal. Fingers crossed that that worked. I'll check to see how the water looks in the morning.


I got a henna "tattoo" at an anniversary/fundraising party tonight. :)

Crap. (Figurative, not Literal.)

...although some of the figurative crap *is* on the back of my shorts:
I discovered this *after* coming home from a movie night at my friend's place. I don't *think* I had it before. I did notice the chair I was sitting on felt... "sticky"... I think it's rubber stains. On my favourite pair of jean shorts. :(

In other news, I noticed a damp smell wafting from the basement as I went to go out the back door. So I went down to check it out.

*Looks* damp, but feels dry.

Ah. Here it is:
From another angle:
Seems to be originating somewhere beside the furnace, and heading towards the drain. Beside the furnace:
Beside the furnace, another angle:
Hmmm... puddles! And it appears to be coming from *under* the furnace.
Hmmm... not just from under the wood, but on top of the wood.
I moved some stuff out of the water:
Now I think I'll go move some more. *sigh*

I need to call my dad. I *suspect* it's either coming in through the chimney (we did have heavy rain this morning), or there's a blocked drain in something. Probably the former, given the rain.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Did I remember to post that I had biscuit-joined my shelf boards? I think I did. Then it was too hot to paint for *ages*. Recently the weather has gotten more humane. I primed on Saturday, painted the first coat on Sunday (in two stages... the can said it took four hours to be dry to the touch, 72 hours to cure), did half of the second coat last night, and the other half tonight. Sunday I can bring them home and put them up. :) (I'm looking forward to getting that project checked off! Especially since it means I can unpack some boxes!!!) As I was putting on the first coat of primer, I discovered this cute little "owl" waving hi:
(Can you see him too?) I was tempted to leave him unpainted, but didn't.

Speaking of weather, we also got some rain recently... and that has brought the mosquitoes out. They were biting my ankles (other body parts too, but they seemed fond of my ankles) tonight as I painted. :(

I like these insects much better:
This fellow was hard to photograph... it was a breezy day, and the flower was blowing around. I was trying to get a photo with his wings open, but that didn't happen.

This guy was much easier, especially as there wasn't any wind:
Plus I didn't have to try catching a "wings open" shot. ;)

I'm trying to pick a paint colour for my bedroom:
The kitchen in the apartment was a lovely grey-green, but I didn't manage to pick up paint chips while I was still living there. Since the lighting in Home Depot is a little strange, I grabbed pretty much every green there. (R: I know you said to get a copy of the chip for every wall, but I figured I'd narrow it down a bit first!)

I think I'm leaning towards the colour on the bottom of the card in the middle clump, second row, right hand side, with the colour just above it for stripes. (Can you say glutton for punishment? It could be worse... for a bit I toyed with the idea of getting around four greens, and painting tree trunks fading out in the misty distance.) I'm thinking random stripes with the two greens, plus some gold pin-striping. That should tie it in nicely with my bedroom furniture, plus be a bit more fun than everything one solid colour, and not quite so dark. (I really liked the dark colour in the kitchen, but it had lots of white cabinets to break it up.) I'm also thinking of not using wallpaper, unless the currently-papered wall is in really bad shape under the current paper. If it is, I'll buy some of that paintable wallpaper, something like this one.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Well, it's durable...

Does Kilz 2 Latex Multi-Purpose Stainblocker Primer count as nail polish? No? What about Behr's "Premium Plus Interior/Exterior Porch & Floor Paint - Low-Lustre Enamel"? Because I *still* have paint on my hands after priming the shelves on Saturday and painting the first coat of enamel on Sunday. (I have better things to do than sit around scraping the rest off... I don't have *that* much left... and besides, I'll be getting more on in a few days.) Well, at least I know it's durable. ;)

Saturday, August 04, 2012

But Does It Toast?

Last weekend I bought a $7, no-nonsense, not-oversized toaster. Mom asked if it toasted.

Note to self: after purchasing a new toaster, check to see what setting it's on before using it for the first time, especially if the bread isn't frozen. Try something lower than mega-char.

I think she actually wanted to know if it toasted both sides. After picking off the burned parts, here's the other side:
And the really toasted side, after:
It could be more symmetric, but it'll do.

(Note: the bread is "missing" parts because these are the slices where the paddle was, and the paddle was angled such that there really wasn't much left on the other side of the hole, so I ate those bits before toasting.)

PS: Also accomplished today, since the last post:
1. Laundry
2. Primed closet shelves and supports for ends.
3. Gave doggie another walk.

Doggie is funny... it's like he speaks sign language. At one point when I looked out the kitchen window, he spotted me. He looked directly at me, then went over to the gate and looked out. Then he came back to where he could see me, looked directly at me, and then back over to and looking out the gate. (Lather, rinse, repeat.) Yes, doggie, I'll give you another walk, but not right then. ;)

Why I Hurt So Much

Aka what I've done so far today.

1. Baked bread in bread machine.

2. Had breakfast & brushed teeth.

3. Washed dog.
Holy crap, dog shampoo is expensive!!!! Granted, I bought it at a drug store (normally more expensive) rather than the grocery store (didn't have any), but *still*... I think it cost around three times as much as the stuff I use on myself!

Doggy before:

Doggy after:
Does he look less stinky? I think he's somewhat less stinky, but would need several more washes before I got it all out. (Even though I was using warm water, he was starting to shiver, so I just did the quick wash. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow when it's supposed to be warmer.)

Surprisingly, I didn't get my clothes wet at all while washing him! However, the whole time he thought he was going to get a walk, so...

4. Took doggy for a walk. (Doggy pulls... the "leash" dad loaned me has a large loop to wrap around your torso, to give you more leverage. I still have a knot in my neck from the first walk on Thursday evening.) On the last loop around the block, doggy spotted two wandering kitties at the same time, and went nuts. I stood and held my ground for a bit while he whined and howled, finally I used the whistle and dragged him off.

5. I washed off two plastic patio chairs that dad hasn't taken yet, so that I could sit and pet doggy for a while. (The two were stacked, and I figured I might as well wash the second while the first one dripped off.) I forgot to take before and after photos of these.

6. Petted doggy for a while. (Got dog hair all over my hands and clothes.)

7. Weeded for a while, so that I would be outside in the yard with him (or at least nearby, when I was weeding the part along the back lane.) I filled two trash cans with the weeds from along the back lane. The weeds from the back yard (not including the back-back area, which still needs weeding) probably could have filled two more, but I'm down to a half can (dad put some stuff in the last trash can earlier this week), and so I figured I'd save a bit of space for household stuff. So the back yard weeds are wilting in two piles on the patio for now.

8. While weeding, I also sorted the random firewood into two piles: "probably short enough" and "needs to be cut shorter". My dad told a neighbour he could have the firewood, and I'm hoping that having it in two piles will make it more likely to leave. There's still more out in the back-back yard, but I think I got pretty much all of it in the back yard (besides the dead tree that needs pulling down) into the two piles.

I forgot "before" photos, so you'll have to take my word that these photos represent an improvement in the condition of the back yard:

Weeds and short firewood:

Big pile of weeds:
(Previously I had the thought "if I pull the weeds before they go to seed, I can probably compost them"... flaw in that thought: it's been way to hot to get out and weed, and they've pretty much all gone to seed. Yeah, I could have composted some of this, but I figured pulling was enough of an accomplishment... some time when they're less out of control I'll have more energy for sorting and composting them.)

Yay, virtually no weeds:
(There's a maple that I need to attack, but it's under the sawhorses full of crap, and I was just doing stuff I could pull without tools or just that little dandelion-weeder thingy today.) Also, considerably less crap! (Moved firewood and a bunch of random crap into more organized, "hope it will leave" piles on the patio.)

Random crap, but also virtually no weeds (big maple behind the dead tree needs bigger tools):

Fewer weeds:
(More maples, and I wasn't in the mood to wade into the brambles today. I did pull what I could reach, though.)

Considerably fewer weeds, but lots of junk:
(Any tips on what I should do to the dandelion roots between the pavers? I'm thinking maybe pouring boiling water on them?)

Hmmm... apparently I didn't take a photo of the big pile of "needs to be shorter" firewood, but that could be because my battery died at this point. A lot of it was just branches, but there were also some logs that were around four feet long (at a guess) that contributed to sore muscles. Also no photos of the weeded laneway or full trash cans. Oh well, maybe later.

9. Had shower. (Boy, was I *dirty* after weeding! Plus the dog had jumped on me a couple times at one point.)

When I went in, the doggy was sitting on the garage step where he could see me in the kitchen for a bit. When I came down after my shower, he was still there.

Sleepy doggy:

Or not:

10. Doing laundry (first small load of dirty-doggy clothes and towels in dryer, second real load in washer).

Dryer buzzed (washer still going), which means the shorts I need for painting shelves are now clean. I think I may let myself sit for a bit more before painting, though. I hurt. Plus I'm hungry.

Off to find food....