Pet Lovers, Attention!

There’s a bill before the Senate which would allow the trapping and killing of “free-ranging” cats, dogs, horses and anything else deemed “invasive.” If you think this is crazy, cruel, utterly wrong, go to Care2 and let your Congressmen know.

Let’s allow warrantless wire-tapping by all means, but hey, stray cats and dogs? Just kill ’em all. What is wrong in Washington? Is it something in the water? *shakes head*

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My, what an interesting day

So, my doorbell rings a bit before eight this morning, and this is pretty much what I see outside:

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Now, we called the water department about two months ago because we needed to find the buffalo box so we could shut off the water to the basement. The response? *crickets* until the other day when a truckload of guys showed up and started painting urboglyphs on the street outside my house. And this morning, they started digging. Please note that the one with the most ginormous muscles is operating the backhoe.

The other day, when we planted our rose tree, Glinda — who did most of the digging — commented that it simply reinforced her belief that she should never murder anyone if she was going to have to bury the body since she would probably be arrested before she’d manage even a shallow grave. Well let me tell you, the answer to this is a backhoe. There is now a hole down to China in front of my house. Apparently all or part of this thing called a buffalo box was missing, and now it’s being replaced. Cool. A bit late, but cool.

Also in the news: I got a large scum-buster yesterday and this morning I tried it out on my kitchen floor. It works pretty well, IMO, but did uncover an unexpected problem. It seems that my grout is not black.

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So now I expect I’m going to have to scrub out the grout lines. *sigh* This afternoon I’m going to wash down the bathroom. Should be interesting.

Below, photos of the most recent pieces of furniture I’ve gotten:

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The kitchen island cart which was the single most complex thing I’ve ever assembled, and which was missing a couple of parts. Oh, and the ones that were complete didn’t fit together really well. I hate cam bolts with the heat of ten thousand firey suns. The cart does, however, hold my baking things with ease, and I like the beverage station on the top. Your one stop top for all your caffeinated needs.

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Side table on sun porch. Went together like a dream until I got to the last door which was missing a hinge. I found the hinge in the packaging, but no pin. It also had a couple of significant dings and once again didn’t fit together real well. Have I mentioned how I hate cam bolts?

My floor is covered with styrofoam schmutz.

On Sunday, Glinda and I worked outside for a few hours. There was an electrical mishap. We no longer have a fountain. This led to a lot of brainstorming about what the garden should look like, and we both decided we’d prefer to have a wall fountain. We also decided that in spite of loving wisteria, our vines aren’t really doing much except threatening the electrical lines. They don’t bloom except at the top where they’re on a horizontal plane. So I think we’re going to replace it next year with an apple tree. I found a semi-dwarf honeycrisp, and since there’s an apple tree in the next yard I don’t think we’ll need to plant another for polination!

Once we clear out the things we no longer like we’ll plant a more cottagey garden. We both love banks of flowers. This will open up a larger expanse of lawn for us to use for parties.

It’s ten. All the noise has stopped. Maybe I’ll just go take a nap.

News of the yum

I intended to get up early today and go to the DMV to get my new ID and voter’s reg taken care of, but my fuzzy alarm clock didn’t work so well, and I woke up at ten wondering why I felt so rested. As it’s always good to make the best of whatever happens I decided that I’d start working out a weekly schedule for myself based on how things have been going here in the last month or so. Monday, I decided, would be the day to clean the back of the house. Kitchen, sun porch and bathroom specifically. So I went out and loaded the dish washer, managing to break a bottle in the process, and then vaccumed the floor while the washer was running.

As all that put me right off the scrub-a-dub feelings, I did a little reading (Bill of Wrongs, by Molly Ivens) and decided to cook a bit since I have a bunch of things in the fridge that should either be frozen or used, like now. Sadly, my printer is out of black ink so I was resigned to running back and forth from kitchen to office to figure out what comes next, but then I hit upon the idea of printing the recipes out in red. Like a charm. Bit hard to read, but at least it saves me steps.

First up: Broccoli pesto. Now understand that I’ve always disliked broccoli. Not so much for the flavor which is okay, though not really very exciting, but for the texture of the florets. Frankly they give me the whim-whams and get stuck in my teeth like they’ve been cemented in. But I do like the stalks, and frequently, when I’m out with Gene, we’ll cut up our broccoli with me taking the stalks, which he dislikes, and him taking the florets. I sort of figured that broccoli pesto might help me get past all that, and I’m pleased to report that not only am I not suffering from the wiggins while eating it, I actively love it!

With apologies to those who do not cook the way I do (Karen, I’m talkin’ to you, babe.) here’s the recipe. Or as close as I ever get.

Chop 1 medium head of broccoli into small pieces. Cook in your preferred way for a couple of minutes until it all goes bright green and you think, “Wow, I would so love a shirt that color!” My method was to heat a bit of water in a skillet along with a tot of olive oil and a liberal amount of sea salt. Transfer cooked broccoli into food processor, and process with more olive oil and some lemon juice until it smooths out. Really, you can leave it a bit chunky if you like, no one will look askance at you.

Add garlic. I added three cloves but I could actually have used four or five and not felt overwhelmed. What you use is utterly dependent upon your tolerance for/love of garlic. Also add a liberal amount of parmesan cheese and a generous handful of whatever nuts you like. I used a mix of pine nuts and walnuts, and was very generous. More oil and/or lemon juice will help you process it all into a lovely paste.

Taste. Swoon. Now at this point you can cook up some pasta and throw a generous glob of this pesto on it. Or you can store it for later, which is what I did. If you wish to emulate my remarkable technique, take a freshly washed 1 qt. Crackovia beet salad jar and spoon the pesto into it. Smooth the top and pour a layer of olive oil on it. Cover with a freshly washed lid (the dishwasher really does a fantastic job of cleaning old jars and bottles. I really recommend it for cleaning and sterilizing storage vessels for things to be refrigerated or frozen.) and put in the fridge. Open door occasionally and smile at your brilliance.

On the list for this afternoon: Tuna cakes, chili or burgers, and maybe chicken curry. All to be mostly frozen for the future. This is what Glinda and I talked about before we moved here and I’m trying to make the effort to cut my food bills by creating my own prepared food.

Invasion of the Zombie Birds

Or: Braaaaiiiinnnnsssssss…. and can I get some millet with that?

Zombie birds = Grackles. I love their gorgeous iridescent bronze and blue coloring, but then they turn and look at me and I see those round, yellow eyes with the black dot in the center and I get the wiggins big time. On top of that essential creepiness, I discovered that they will also sometimes kill and eat smaller birds at feeders. Eu. So I put my grackles on notice that while they’re welcome to feed here they’d best not be bothering my little guys or I’d kick their zombie butts.

My Squirrelflower is in bloom!

The squirrelflower is blooming!

This little guy loves to sit and even lounge in this planter, which I never got around to planting this spring. I’ll often see him lying there with his chin on the edge, just watching the goings-on in the garden. The first day I saw him I called Glinda and said “Have you been planting squirrel seeds again?”

Amen

“We thank Squirrelmother for this food.”

I had a reasonably good day yesterday. Charles took me out to a monument place where I finally ordered the stone for my parents’ graves. It’s going to be beautiful in dark brown granite with a pair of trees, their roots and limbs entwined around the names and dates. And at the very bottom, it will say “Baucis and Philemon.” If there ever was a couple who fit that myth, it was my folks. I’ll take a pic of it when it’s up, but that won’t be for some months yet.

Then he and I went over to Time Treasures and I found a cabinet I love , and a wonderful folk art carving. The two came off of my store credit, leaving me with $460 yet to go. And Anna has some wonderful stuff hidden in her basements, stuff on which I think Glinda and I could do some good work. We also stopped at the fruit market where I once again made out like a bandit. I snagged a couple of beautiful eggplants and will be making stuffed eggplant for Girls’ Night tomorrow.

When I got home I had a reply to an email I sent to one of the sisters who had owned this property before me. Some of their mail had been delivered here, and it looked like stuff they might want, so I went online to try to find an email address for either of them. You can find almost anything in the internet! I found one for Joy, wrote her and she responded yesterday that she’d be happy to come by with her husband to pick up the mail.

I wasn’t sure she’d come in; she’s still terribly emotional about this place. But I think she was kind of curious once she saw the outside with its pots of flowers and prayer flags. The upshot was that she is thrilled with the changes, and very happy she came. That made me happy, too. She told me that the people who owned it before her family had an electric company which is why the garage is so ginormous. They kept trucks and equipment in there. And the basement was their office which is why it was such a rabbit warren of little rooms. They had a lot of storage down there. That would have to have been in the forties or earlier, I think. It was a lovely visit, and I hope they’ll come again.

I have a bunch of things to do today and no oomph. Where on earth did my oomph go? I’m betting those grackles got hold of it.

Dispatches from Villa Allegra

It’s been a while. I’ve still got this nagging cough leftover from the bout of flu I had last month, and the weather has been very hot and humid for the last week, which always puts me in a don’t-wanna-bother frame of mind. I evicted my workmen on Tuesday afternoon because I’d just had it with having them up here all the time, and my kitchen looking like a resale shop filled with all the stuff from my sun porch. It took five damn days to get that window installed, and I was about to start tearing my hair out.

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On Wednesday, I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed floors. I was sick of the dirt and dust, but there was absolutely no way I was going to go to all that effort while there was still construction going on. And once I finished both the house and I went “ahhhhhhh, that’s better.”

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While I was recovering, I sat out on my gorgeous sun porch to do some reading. I heard TWITTERTWITTERTWITTERTWITTERTWITTERTWITTER and a flock of birds flew overhead and past the house. There were a few moments of silence and then TWITTERTWITTERTWITTERTWITTERTWITTERTWITTER and the flock flew back overhead and to the southeast. Another few beats of silence and then TWITTERTWITTERTWITTERTWITTERTWITTERTWITTER, and guess what flew back to the northwest? By which time I was laughing so hard I started coughing. Not long after that, the whole McTwitterson clan took up residence in my magnolia and started carrying on with the gossip and arguments and all the various loud and endless discussions that McTwittersons are prone to.

Also in residence: The Cardinals (Mr. and Mrs. It’s a liberal church, I guess.), The McCoos, The Robinsons, and a hella lot of very acrobatic squirrels (The Magnificent Squirrlinis.) They come because Glinda and I are soft touches for food.

A few garden photos. I ran out between storms to take these which is why they’re rather dark. And wet-looking.

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I finally managed to figure out that the unknown vine was a honeysuckle, and that the reason why the wisteria wasn’t blooming was because it’s planted only on the vertical. It needs a horizontal support to bloom. It is, in fact, blooming on top of our garage.

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We’ve had a couple of barbeques so far, and we’re getting better at it. Rediscovering our inner cave people is no easy task, let me tell you. During the last one, our next door neighbors started passing their food over to us, too, so there was much nom-ing and groaning.

And yesterday Glinda, Jim and I went to see the new Indiana Jones film, which we all really enjoyed. I am so happy that Indy and Marian finally got married. It’s about damn time.

It’s been ferociously windy here the last few days (you know it’s bad when the McTwittersons do barrel rolls past your windows) but the temperature seems to have dropped by quite a lot in the last hour, so I’m off to go do a bit of housework before it starts to heat up again.

So… yeah

It’s now June. The basement is finished and my new window went in on Saturday. Today they’re drywalling and priming the wall that got torn apart, so by tonight I should have a sun room I can actually use! Alas, the window was installed too high, and though we discussed lowering it, it’ll cause more problems than it solves, so it’s no go on that. I can still see much of the garden when I sit, and can always put in a higher table and chairs if I really want to. What I want most of all is for this to be finished. Every surface in my kitchen is covered in dust and grit, and I can barely move in there because everything from the sun room is piled up all over.

The flu hung on forever and in fact I’m still kind of gorpy, and I cough a bit at night, to the vast annoyance of my cat who doesn’t understand why I refuse to stop shaking him while he’s trying to sleep. On my head. And yesterday I had a gonzo sinus headache and got very little done. I did, however, manage to get the rug down in my office, and hook up some more of my computer system. I have yet to find the two hard drives I really need, and the really important cord for my audio. I expect I’ll unearth all that eventually. Today I’m concentrating on bigger stuff like the bins that hold my yarn stash, and my dressmaker’s dummy.

On Memorial day, Dawn, Taylor, Christ, Jim and I christened my new Weber kettle with Tallgrass steaks, and a lot of excellent cold salads. Charles brought us a chocolate cake for dessert, and we had a lovely time even though we ended up eating inside because the weather was a bit threatening and it was difficult to find a place where all five of us could sit comfortably. That’s something that needs ironing out. Pam’s promised me a table, but I know it’s not easy for her to get it over here so I’m not holding my breath.

The much-anticipated bag of coffee arrived from Dreamtown on Saturday. I don’t know if I mentioned this but being a Dreamtown client has paid off in unexpected ways. I get a bag of coffee each month for… well apparently for as long as I live here. And it’s amazing coffee, too. Between the wonderful help I got from my agent, and the monthly coffee gifts, my connection with Dreamtown has been a very happy one.

I’m pleased to report that my Marie-Claire Idees magazine actually found me! I thought for sure that it’d get lost somewhere along the way, but it arrived late last week, and was full of lovely, summery ideas.

There’s so much to do, and I’m quickly running out of steam. I think I’ll go make a glass of iced tea and put my feet up for a while, and think about what to tackle next.