Thursday, May 21, 2015

Packing... My Way!

I've already packed all of the non-perishables for the weekend.  The vacuum cleaner I ordered had a sturdy box that fits lengthwise in the back of the Scion.  Because we are having guests, I also packed the large electric griddle.  I'm not completely sure what we'll eat but we have a lot of basic ingredients including cookies and fudge mix for desserts.  In addition to what's in the box, there are two bottles of champers and one bottle of Scotch in a separate bag.
My tee shirt collection was getting rather scruffy so I stopped into a local discounter and picked up five Nicole Miller embellished tees.  They were $3.99 each.  These pictures came from eBay sellers, most of whom are selling them for $12.99 or higher.  These are the same as two of the shirts I bought.
While tee-shirts are cheap at thrift stores, they aren't much less than what I paid.  The bonus for me is that they are new and in good condition, and they coordinate.  Three of them are coming with me this weekend.  I picked designs that are suited for summer and now I will always have them for camp.  I'll just wash them after each trip and then pick two or three to put in by bag for the next weekend.

I won't be posting for a few days as I'll be tied up!  We are having guests on Saturday and Sunday night, and two of our favorite campers have the spot next to us.  It is likely that Teddy's "Aunt Helen" will be opening her camp this weekend and Bailey the golden doodle puppy and her folks Stan and Judy will have their cottage open.  This morning I won a $10 gift certificate for a burger drive-thru that is on the way to camp -- so I think we are all set.

I hope all my US readers have a swell Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Adirondack Chairs & the Flower Bed

These chairs are now where the conversation set used to be.  I need to get into a few of the tight areas to get stain where the rag couldn't penetrate.  There were a lot of edges to stain and by the last chair, I'd had enough.  But I do have some final touches to do.  I like the color and plan to do a second coat on each, but if I only get to one every couple of weeks, that will be enough!  This picture was taken before TBG did some weed whacking. 
We are also mostly finished with the flower bed -- for now at least.  We planted annuals, added a layer of mulch and then put in the solar lights.  I will work on getting a few planter boxes to hang on the section further back, but that is not a high priority.

I am looking forward to the lavender growing and having fresh basil and cilantro.  I didn't plant a whole lot but also wanted to see how it would do.  We also have one eggplant and one zucchini plant to grown on the wires.  TBG put in a Clematis that we can train too.  Two Hostas have been split so that was a bit of free space filler.

We are  not really gardeners.  The main goal is to have a pleasant patio that is low maintenance.  Since we are not sure what is going to grow from last year, we don't plan to do any weeding for now.  At least that will be our excuse!

It is nice to look out at the patio at night with the solar lights on.  We hope to have many hours of enjoyment and not too many hours of toil out here this summer.  I'll put a few more decorative things around when I get the time and if I can find anything cheap & interesting.  But for now, I am satisfied!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Small Changes in the Small Yard

This is the latest addition to my front yard.  Teddy gave me the little puppies for Mother's Day.  I planted the Dusty Millers (we call them "Dennis Millers" in our house) behind them.  This is certainly in stark contrast to the dump next door.

TBG mulched this bed and put out two whiskey barrel planters with a Zinnia, Dusty Millers and mulch which I also sprinkled with marigold seeds.  Nothing but weeds grow in that hell strip and it's got cement under it so we can't tear it out and put pavers in. I'll get a picture of it when it's sunny out again.
We had this conversation set around our fire pit but I moved it to the side of our house because that section of the driveway is shady.  It gets too hot to sit in the yard in the evenings so this is a place we can start out.  It was hot and sunny on Sunday so we ate take-out sushi and had plenty of wine here.

I had wanted a bigger "sofa" style seating unit so I could stretch out but didn't want to spend that kind of serious cash for just one piece.  The area is also a bit tight.  This small set works great.  There are two small foot rests that are under the window bump-out.  That means we can really seat six.

We still have more work to do in the yard but getting this set moved over was something I wanted to so early on.  I will enjoy sitting out here now that it's warm again.  There is not a lot of shade in the yard so I am happy I could find a spot to steal some.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Squeaky Wheel

This is a picture I took inside the foreclosure house two years ago.  That was May of 2013.  The condition of the house has gotten worse and once again we are into spring and the other yards in the neighborhood have been attended to and are looking good.

My yard is looking really nice but unfortunately it is next to this house and that yard has not been touched since last summer.  The woman who lives on the other side of the house pulled a couple of tics off her dog and we are certain it came from the yard.  The lawn is almost 2 feet high and full of weeds.  Birds are living inside.  The wood is soggy and water logged and the bricks are crumbling.

After making a number of complaints over the past three years and being referred to various town departments who all say they are aware of the situation but can't do anything because the bank pays the taxes, or the police department handles snow removal complaints, etc., etc., etc., I wrote a scathing letter to the town supervisor and cc'ed the building inspector and the assessor.  The property is classified as "Normal" for condition and the value is greater than mine.

Well as soon as I sent the email, the assessor was on the phone with me saying he was never told anything about the house and that his record shows the woman who dumped it as the owner of record, not Wells Fargo.  I set him straight that she moved out in the middle of the  night five years ago and left graffiti and trash all over the place.  He said he would look at it. 

The town supervisor emailed me within another five minutes saying he would send someone to look at it.  I sent my very strongly worded email around 12:45.  TBG was home for lunch about an hour or so later.  Someone from the town was already taking pictures so he went to talk to the guy, who told him someone sent a very irate letter to the town.  As is often the case, Tommy said "That would be my wife."  

I don't know what they'll do.  They forced the bank to deal with the roof two years ago -- someone solved that problem by putting a layer of shingles over the deteriorating roof.  The town cites the bank for the lawn twice a year but in between, the grass has to grow to about three or four feet.  I gave up shoveling this winter so the sidewalk was never clear and people had to walk in the street.

This is a home that could have easily been sold after it was foreclosed on.  Yes, there was a lot of vandalism, but there was minimal mold and structural damage.  People drive by and ask if we know who owns it so they can buy it and rehab it.  But even that scares me because it will cost a lot and the process ought to make a really big mess of my yard.

At this point, I am just worried from a safety point of view.  I hope the town condemns it so we can split the yard with the woman on the other side.  Between both of us, we can easily afford to buy the lot.  Had the town not reacted, I'd have started contacting news outlets and even resorted to taking out ads in the town newspaper asking others to complain.  As it is, I'm the only one on the block who aggressively pursues the town about it.

We'll see what happens.  The summer is here and I don't want my dog exposed to mosquitoes and tics in her own back yard.  It really galls me that we live in a nice neighborhood with a solvent town government and no overwhelming housing problems, yet this house was deteriorating largely unnoticed.  I hope things change -- and soon!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Small Car and the Small Yard

I drive a Scion Xb.  We used to have a Chevy Blazer but the mileage on it was deplorable and when it was new, our payment was something like $500 per month.  When I was paying on the Scion, it was around $300 per month.  That was a couple of years ago and we owe it free and clear.  The Blazer got 21mpg highway,  the Scion gets over 30. The newer models have a more powerful engine and get the same mileage as our Blazer did.  I will stick with my old car and try to get as many miles as I can.  It gets good mileage, it's dependable -- and look what we can fit in the back!  There are six bags of mulch and two bags of top soil plus a bunch of plants from Home Depot.
We worked for about 3 hours in the back yard.  This is not something TBG could have done last fall.  As it is, I am amazed that a man who had a bi-lateral knee replacement 11 weeks ago was able to work in his garden today.  We did a lot of stuff and just one of the things was to set up this small container area.  These are stairs I garbage picked last year.  They were heavy!  There are two old mason jars on the top step -- I put some stones in the bottom and then some potting soil.  I sprinkled in some marigold seeds from last year, added water and put the lid back on.  I am curious to see if I can get a small terrarium going in those jars.

After working a half day and then starting in the yard, TBG didn't want the hassle of making lunch so we did take-out from Wendy's.  We did a few more hours of yard work and he iced his joints, then we took the pup for a swim.  We had Chinese for dinner.  All I wanted were appies!  We had spare ribs, spring rolls, wonton, shrimp toast and lo-mein.  It was so filling I didn't even have a single wonton.  I did drink plenty of wine.  We also built a fire.  It was a most excellent day.

Tomorrow I'll do the pool and he'll get in a ride then I'll stain Adirondack chairs.  The yard is coming along nicely and I will show more pictures.  We don't have an impressive garden or yard by any means, but it does take some work to get it ready for the season.  It looks like we are almost ready for summer!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Rice Krispies Karma

I was tipped off that if you buy the Rice Krispies Treats in the vending machine at work which are $1.25, you get the treats and the machine gives you back $1.15 in change.  Because I am low on cash and needed a snack, I tried it and it worked.  Admittedly, I felt a little guilty.  But the treats made my instant coffee taste so much better!

Waiting for the train this evening, a man walked by asking if anyone had anything for the homeless.  I gave him the $1.15 I got from the vending machine.  I figured now my conscience would be cleared.  He thanked me too.  Turns out the Transit Police saw the whole thing and went after him!  I was sooo tempted to go up to them and tell them that I came by the change dishonestly and they should let him keep it, but I didn't want to infringe on his denial of getting anything.  I figured if the cops made him hand over his money, they'd just go buy coffee with it anyway. 

Doesn't it figure that I do something naughty, then try to repay the universe and the universe doesn't want to cooperate! 

When I find money on the street or on the train, it never ceases to amaze me that it occurs on the same day someone asks me for money.  If I find it like that, I always pass it on to anyone less fortunate that asks.  I do not appreciate when anyone gets in the way of my trying to balance out karma!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Same Old, Same Old, Which is OK!

We had Naan bread & lamb pizza again tonight.  This time I put the meat on top.  We have this combo a lot and it is nice because it is easy.  In addition to Feta that TBG got earlier in the week, I had some shredded five cheese blend on hand too that was open in the fridge.  This just seemed like a good way to use it up.  After all, it is Thursday -- the day I like to use up what we've got.

Just like we make lamb/Naam pizza over and over in the summer, we had another "typical" warm weather night -- which is nice for a change!

TBG did his first post-surgical bike ride.  He took off from the house and headed out on the bike path.  Teddy and I headed straight to the river.  Our buddy  "Swim Jim" realized we were there so he joined us and Teddy got lots of good water tossies in.  She behaves a lot better for Jim so she had a lot more water time.  Then we took a longish park walk -- and ran into TBG along the way.  

Tommy actually got home before I did.  The air was warm and it was sunny, so Teddy, Jim and I got in a good walk.  Once at home, it was nice to have stuff on hand to make a quick dinner.  TBG iced his knees -- which felt pretty good after his 15 mile ride, took a shower, and then we ate.

I finally found chicken backs for the pup.   Not only did I find five trays at one of the Tops Markets I frequent -- all of them were marked down.  While I was at the store, I picked up another $1.50 pair of tights.  They are fuschia and I plan to wear them tomorrow!  This business of using only cash (on account of my compromised card) stinks.  I don't have the same purchasing freedom and I can't really seize deals when I see them.  I wanted to stock up on more $1.50 tights!

But at least I finished up the week by finishing up what's in the fridge.  Everyone got exercise and tomorrow promises to be sunny day.  The same old, same old is fine by me!