Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

I was negligent in doing cards this year, so I e-mailed this. Got it to a lot more folks that I would have via snail mail.

Well, mailing Christmas cards is a no-win at this point, as I realized last night, so I thought I'd take a shot at making my own.

The image above is one I found on rummaging through the Interweb. The animation of the water and the reflection resonated with me, and I think it's the best image I can share with you.

First, I hope this finds you and all of yours warm, safe, happy and well. After all, it has been one of the strangest years I can remember, what with the Cubs winning the World Series.

Here at home, it has been a mixed year. I have a decent part time gig at the Manheim Auto Auction, which pretty much consists of find the car, drive the car, park the car, in a 500+ acre lot holding several thousand cars. Some days I wind up walking several miles, so it provides some exercise.

In general, we are all warm and safe. However, it has been a tough year for the critters. Suzu, my sweet little girl Shiba left us in April. She had been failing slowly for a while, then started to crash in March. I was trying to feed her and get her to drink from a syringe during her last week, but when a Shiba says "No", it means "No!" Turns out she'd had a stroke and her kidneys were failing, so, in consult with the vet, I let her go.

Two months ago, Griffin, my rescue Shiba, went in for a dental cleaning and exam. Whilst he was unconscious, the vet was able to give him a full exam, which was not something you could do while he was awake. Both his knees are 'blown', and he wound up losing all of his teeth. I felt awful about that, but, as the vet suggested, since the extractions, he's been a much happier dog. It seems to have taken a couple of years off his age! (The report I got of his mouth is best summed up as "horror show".)

Finally, the vet also confirmed that Baxter is blind. We did a full blood work-up to see if anything suggested itself as the cause, only to find that he is in really good shape for a cat of 17!

I didn't get as much work done around here as I would have liked to, and gardening suffered a bit, too. I did get quite a harvest of Oregano, Thai Hot and Ghost peppers. The early hail took its toll on the potatoes, which, along with strawberries, were the only other things I planted.  I did wind up with a slew of 'wild' tomatoes, from seeds left from previous plantings and contributions to the compost bin.

Bottom line is that all is good. I feel blessed to have a warm, safe happy place for me and the critters, and for family and friends around the country.

Here's hoping that your Christmas is merry and bright!

Lee (and Grif, Benny, Baxter, Nadia and Missy)

P.S. If you've a mind to, our adventures in Red Lion are chronicled here: Window on Red Lion, and my curmudgeonly rantings and musings are here: Leelu's Place

Saturday, December 10, 2016


Baxter and I got back from the vet a few minutes ago. Here's what I sent to Jen and friends:
Got Baxter to the vet this morning. He confirmed what I suspected, Baxter is blind. His pupils are responsive to light. which suggests that there was, possibly, a stroke.
We're doing a full blood workup to see if something suggests itself. At his age (17), the likely candidate is kidney issues, followed by a thyroid problem. The goal is to reduce blood pressure, and get his weight back up (he's down to 7 lbs).
The vet suggested an ophthamology consult. But I can't see Baxter wearing glasses.
Should have the results Monday.
Baxter helping me in the office, about a year ago.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


I haz it...

...but it wasn’t pretty.

Let me explain:

Back in the early part of the year, we got a notice from the boro that, starting in the spring, they were going to lay a new water main down our street. The boro Water Guy came over, and made sure that the connection coming into the house was copper. It was.

Then, nothing.

About six weeks ago, they started putting in the new main, and I got a visit from Water Guy. Seems there was an issue.

The place in which I live is the eastern most of three old row houses. Every building on every street has their curb box (“water shut-off”, or just “shutoff”) pretty much directly in front of the building. For reasons, ours was in front of the townhouse next door.

Water Guy made a good case for moving it to the front of our place, where it should actually be. He pointed out that, should something fail, we would need to dig up the sidewalk in front of the neighbor’s place to repair it. When I heard that, the word “liability” jumped to mind. (Remember, I’ve raised an attorney.)

He came in and looked around the basement. All we had to so (he said) was punch an iron pipe thru the foundation wall out to the hole where the box would be. Once that was done, we shoved copper pipe out to the shut-off, and hooked everything up. Piece of pie. Easy as cake.

Oh, and he wanted us to move the meter from the back wall of the basement to the front, thereby eliminating the possibility (and temptation) to tie into the line before the meter.

So, they boro digs out to the front of my porch/edge of the sidewalk, the plumbers come out, punch the new hole, insert the copper, move the meter, hook everything up, and go have lunch.

Did I mention that this place was built well before the boro was incorporated in 1881? It was.

The boro got the line in and ready. They started doing the connections from the west of the block eastward, on the side of the street opposite me. What with the rain and all, it took the contractor about three weeks to get down to the east end of the project.  In the meanwhile, I had made arrangements with Saunders Plumbing to rearrange the furniture in my basement and get us hooked up to the new shutoff. I handed them off to Water Guy to coordinate schedules. I must give them both great props for their communication with each other, and with me. 

So, this Monday (10-3), I get an email from Water Guy, who tells me that the contractor is going to start at the west end of the street again, meaning they are going to install the new shut-off on Monday.  Just to close the loop, I called Saunders, who told me they were expecting a three day notice, so they wouldn't be out until Wednesday (yesterday).  I ping Water Guy, who assured me that I would have water until the change over, and then I would have water again. So, it was All Good.

The plumbers, Joe and Ron, showed up at their appointed time yesterday morning. I gave them the 25 cent tour of the basement, and took them out to the sidewalk.

And the fun began.

The first thing we noticed was that the boro had not dug back to  the wall, like they said the would. This upset Joe mightily, who the words with Water Guy.

Discovery of the under-sized hole.

The discussion underway at the plumbers' truck.
My email to Deb:
So, right now, my guys & the city are 'discussing' who is going to dig out the rest of the hole.

Aaaand, we're off. 
Water Guy said that they would come over after break and dig things out some more. Push back project start to 10-ish. They do, and everyone convenes in the basement shortly afterwards.

Digging out the rest of the hole. On-site Water Guy on the left.

Next email, titled 'Doubt it's good...':
…when the Water Guy walks out of the house saying "This day keeps getting better and better…"

Some raised voices outside now. 
 Turns out, there are no accurate drawings of where things actually are. Like the connection to the (very fragile) sewer. Which is not a couple of feet over from where Joe and Ron need to punch thru the wall, but almost right under.

Sadly, I admit that my reaction was a bit less than charitable:
Starting to sound like a CF of epic proportions.

I laugh...
 From the last email I sent:
First pass at drill pipe too steep an angle. After about 4 hours, gave up, sank second pipe. Work progressed from there.
At the moment, unmetered water. Borough needs to come out (tomorrow?) and install it. They are supposed to reattach antenna, too.
 Next-to-last email at 7:28 PM, titled 'Plumber':
Is pulling away from the curb.
So, what was actually a four hour job took eleven and a half hours, not counting lunch.

Water guy was here this morning, and I'm back on the meter. (Good thing I filled the 1,000 gallon cistern last night!)

Before and after basement pictures below the fold:

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Buy A Nun A Book Day approaching once again - September 17.  Once again, I will be sending books to the good Holy Names Sisters who taught me in my callow youth.

It's a nice way to say "Thanks"!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Photo Dump

Missy found the box The MoP used to ship spices to me as payment for working on her web site. 

Disassembly of the monitor w/ the dead power supply. It apparently eats capacitors, so I dusted off my electronic soldering skillz.

The instructional video

Concurrent disassembly.
It's back together and working fine.

Potato harvest:
Min 'taters

More-or-less regular size 'taters.

How many drivers does it take to jump start this truck?

Looks like three, plus the driver.
The carpet in the living area desperately needed cleaning. Here, drying...

Front door & closet trim paint finished!  Transom window re-installed!!

Griffin on his spot on the (missing) carpet.
Caturday pic:

No. I got this...

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Life, The Universe, The House and Everything.

I see that I haven't done a non-whiney house post in almost 4 months, so I must be overdue! This will cover a couple of months, what with more tarping, the 4th of July, the garden, and the start of painting. So, in more or less chronological order, here we go!

This was the garden, pre-hail...

Lettuce, onion, and lemon grass in a pot.

Potatoes (rear), onions, and garlic.

Kitchen bed - oregano, rosemary, basil and onions.

Started life as a melon-from-seed bed, turned into strawberries and peppers.

First oregano harvest!

Border bed oregano

Border bed potatoes (there are more in the 'empty' spot on the right.

Strew flower seeds according to directions. Nada.

Smoking dinner...

The Heirloom purple tomatoes. Yes, they wound up getting dry rot, too.

Next, when I tarped the second floor roof, I took the opportunity for some aerial photos:

Top: potatoes, lettuce & peppers Bottom: Onions/garlic, lettuce & peppers, strawberries & peppers. Notice the addition of the final raised bed, next to the potatoes. This became home to lettuce and a Ghost Pepper. Strawberries and peppers bottom right.

Two views of the kitchen bed:

Tarping. The roof is not going to get repaired any time soon, so I want to keep the elements from causing any more damage (if that's even possible). I used garden pavers to hold things together.

Baxter sunning himself whilst I tarp...

First go-round. I've added more pavers since.
Starting to paint. White walls, with a sort-of denim blue for the trim. I've painted two walls as accent walls, using the Modern Grey that I used in my room

Stairway /dining room wall


First trim coat done.

From basement door to stairs

Inspection and approval.

Next, the garden as of today!

Lemon Grass

The heirloom tomatoes

What's left of the potato bed. The heat wilted the greens, and the rain accelerated the weed growth to ludicrous speed.

Potato bed, post clean-up (Reminds me... got to bring the shovel in!)
Blackberries and remaining potato plants

Did get a big, fat, juicy, tasty blackberry today. Now I understand them!

Border potatoes. Did much better than the raised bed. They were shaded from most of the hail.

Strawberries and peppers

Kitchen bed, post weeding. Pile o' crap on the right. Wilt-y tomatoes are wild, transplanted from the compost heap.
First of two piles...

...second of two piles.

I did assault weeding in all of the beds except the garlic/onion bed. I dug up as many potatoes as I could find - about 1/2 of a 2.5 gallon bucket. Got reds, some blue, whites, and Yukon Gold.

Veering back to the 4th of July at @PeeteySDee's compound, I was tasked  with supplying deviled eggs with Jalapeno and bacon. I decided that a batch with Wasabi and shrimp  might be interesting. Those turned to be the hit of t he two.

Last but not least, fungus in the kitchen:

Will have pix of the (more) finished painting Real Soon! Need to do some more trim, one wall, and the ceiling.