Thursday, December 18, 2008


All I have to say is BACK UP YOUR COMPUTERS! Do it NOW! Do not wait! Don't ignore your Norton reminders telling you that you haven't backed up in a while! BACK UP, FOR GOD'S SAKE, BACK UP!!

The other night while trying to log Mickey onto the computer, the lights, and the computer, went black. I knew I could get the electricity back on by trading out a fuse from another part of the house, but I also knew it could take me a while. I told Mickey he was going to have to settle for watching cartoons because we didn't have any fuses. White lie, but hey. Actually, I had just bought fuses. Unfortunately, the screw in part was not the right size.

So, while I was fixing dinner I took a look at the fuse box and couldn't see any that were blown. I twisted each fuse and found that the culprit was simply loose. The lights came back on and so did the computer, but the surge did not make the computer happy. For hours that night I tried everything to get the damned thing to boot up, but could only get it up so far. I did discover that I could try "System Recovery", but also discovered - almost too late - that "System Recovery" deletes every file you have on your computer and re-installs the factory settings. Sigh. When I log off here I am going to attempt a system recovery, and if that doesn't work, we'll have to find someone who can fix it, or MERRY CHRISTMAS TO US and we'll buy yet another one. Sigh.

So drop everything you're doing at this very moment and GO BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER FILES! FOR GOD'S SAKE!

(Oh. You may be wondering how I created this post without a computer. We have an ancient laptop that we use on such occasions.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Over The River and Through The Air . . .

We do not have a kitchen, well, not a real one anyway. We do have a fridge, a two burner hot plate, 5-quart Crock Pot, 22-quart roaster, blender, toaster, coffee maker and waffle iron, but these things aren't even in what is supposed to be the kitchen. They're in the library, at least that's what we call it. If you squint, there are days it looks like a bathroom as it still has a shower stall in one corner, a vanity sink in another and a toilet in the closet under the stairs, installed for the elderly gentleman who used to live here so he would not have to climb the stairs to go to the bathroom. So, since we do not have a kitchen suitable for conjuring up a festive Thanksgiving feast, we made plans to spend the holiday with Tom's family in North Carolina.

Tom's parents live in Wilmington, his sister and her family live in Jacksonville, about an hour north of Wilmington. It isn't easy getting most places from here, but you can do it. Tom investigated every combination of flying out of Albany, Hartford and NYC and landing in Wilmington, Raleigh and Timbuktu. It isn't cheap for three people to fly out of here into anywhere, but we decided we would save some money and drive two hours and a half to fly out of LaGuardia, land in Raleigh and then drive another two hours to Wilmington. Next time, we're coughing up the extra bucks and driving as little as possible as all that driving makes for very long and exhausting travel. Such confinement can make a five year old a tad insane.

After our arrival in Raleigh, while Tom endeavored to obtain our rental car, I kept Mickey occupied by taking pictures of him with the resident welcoming committee.

After a minor meltdown on my part and two hours later, we arrived at Grandma Linda's and Grandpa Dale's house. (For some crazy reason, I managed to get but one fleeting picture of Grandma Linda and none of Grandpa Dale during the whole trip! Dang it. And I realized this only after our return and I started uploading photos for posting here.) Grandma had prepared a yummy dinner of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans for ua, after which we all sat around like zombies recuperating from our day of travel. We needed as much rest as we could muster as the next day promised to be fraught with high stakes cooking in someone else's kitchen (Grandma's) while four high energied boys with testosterone through the roof cavorted, bounced, dashed and darted around the house, until they were made to go outside. One of the boys of which I speak was Mickey, of course. The other three were Mickey's cousins, Tom's nephews, his sister Mary's sons. Mickey LOVES spending time with them and I so wish we lived closer, or air travel was cheaper.

Across the street from Grandma and Grandpa's is a golf course with a pond stocked with all kinds of fish. KC brought his fishing rods, so eventually the boy's trotted off across the street to spend some time at the pond. The pond was full of weeds, but KC managed to keep his hook out of them enough to snag himself a few fish.

Fishing is fun, but pulling the hook out of a fish's mouth is a bit unsettling. (Wait until we do some real fishing and have to scale them, gut them and cut their heads off!)

Which do you like best?

Mickey watches as the devil incarnate, Alex, threads a worm on his hook.

Meanwhile, back across the street, we were all in a frenzy whipping together our Thanksgiving feast. While Grandma Linda and I were inside switching our turkey from the electric roaster to the oven because we weren't sure the roaster was doing it's job, Kevin, Tom's brother-in-law, Mary's husband, was deep frying a second turkey,

and stewing collards (Mary makes Kevin fix them outside because she can't stand to smell them cooking),

while Mary did the second baking of her twice baked potatoes on the grill.

Inside, I was in a twist trying to pull together the cornbread dressing, giblet gravy and green beans with bacon and onions. Grandma had already made three pies with home made crusts first thing that morning.

We finally sat down to dinner around 5:00, and I must say, everyone did a great job. All the food tasted quite yummy! I had two plates full, Kevin had three. Shortly after, Kevin could be found dead asleep on the sofa in front of the TV as I wandered aimlessly until I finally sequestered myself in the bedroom to read, relax and unwind. Tom and Mary gathered the boys around the kitchen table where they decorated gingerbread men for desert.

The next day, we took Mickey over to Mary's house where he had not one but two sleep-overs! What a great time he had with Mary's four boys. I count Kevin in that number as he is just as big a kid as the rest of them. They whiled away their hours playing out in the woods, riding the ATV, and channeling their primitive man by a roaring fire.

The day after the second sleepover, Tom and I drove up to Jacksonville to retrieve our little man. While we were there we walked over to the site where Kevin and Mary are building their new house. It's going to be beautiful when it is done.

Before the sun sat and the bonfire was set ablaze, Kevin took Mickey for a spin on his tractor.

After each boy's inner man was satisfied by the fire, they were gathered up and brought home where their inner man was satisfied with ham and green beans for dinner. Mickey loves his Auntie Mary.

After dinner came the requisite zoning out in front of the TV. Mickey appears to be very comfortable with his cousins, and they, obviously, with him. That's Mark's butt Mickey is using as a pillow, bony as it is.

Needless to say, there was much gnashing of teeth when it was time to leave and head back to Grandma and Grandpa's for a good night's rest. And we needed all the rest we could get for our return hop skip and jump back north. Only after we drove our two hours from Wilmington to Raleigh did we learn that our flight had been canceled due to inclement weather in NYC. Ugh. So we spent the night at a hotel and had to get up at 4:00 AM in order to catch our flight to DC where we had a two hour layover, which ended up being longer as our flight from DC to NYC was delayed because air travel was backed up all over the place. By the time we arrived in NYC and was faced with yet another two hours worth of driving, Mickey was not having it. He was good, just exhausted.

What a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Sad Tail

So, as you've read in the earlier posts, our newly installed frost wall was covered with a waterproofing tar. No big deal. The morning following its application, I went outside to fill the window bird feeder and stepped in the still squishy tar as I stepped on top of the frost wall in order to reach the bird feedr. Ick. Dammit. It didn't really stick to my shoe (I don't know why), so no worries. Well, Maxwell, our cat, LOVES to go outside now that he lives in the country, and when he hears the front door opening he shoots to it hoping to get out. No big deal. So on the same morning as my tar encounter, I let him out when I take Mickey to the bus. And I leave him out. Later, I hear him yowling to be let in, so I let him in. I don't notice anything right away, but shortly after I notice he's walking funny. Holy Shoot! He has walked through the danged tar and has come in and walked through his cat box. What a mess! I called the vet and they said to buy a bottle of Goop to clean it off. Well, I have to go to work, so Tom goes to find the Goop. The hardware store does not have Goop, but they do have plain old mineral spirits, which the hardware store lady says will work as it got the tar off her cat. Well, the mineral spirits softened the tar but it didn't get it off. The vet had said not to let him eat the tar, so I covered his feet with Mickey's old socks.

I was beside myself. So, Saturday morning I called the vet again to report my lack of progress and they said to bring him in. I did, and $385 dollars later I was able to bring him home, a little worse for wear, sedated and shaved in the darnedest places.

Poor guy was NOT a happy camper. We had to give him give him antibiotic that didn't make him feel too well. For days he creeped around the house showing no interest in the great outdoors, but now that weeks have passed, the outdoors holds the same level of interest for the little bugger as it did before, but he isn't going out. Not till the work is done outside and it isn't so ding dong cold. And that tar is good and set!

Imagine if you will . . .

Now that the drainage has been installed and the foundation frost wall poured, tarred, insulated and covered, the framing of the two back rooms is now moving right along. What you see in the picture directly below are the openings for the two windows on either side of the hoped for fireplace, as well as the opening for the French doors that will lead onto the hoped for reclaimed brick or field stone patio.

Here is the view from inside looking at the imaginary fireplace flanked by the two windows.

Here is the view out the French doors onto the imaginary patio.

Here is the view out the east windows of the den looking up the hill to the timberline. Imagine the mounds of fill are beautiful flowers.

And here is the view into the pantry which will separate the kitchen from the den.

And this is the view into the kitchen standing in the archway between the kitchen and the den. The pantry is on the left of where I'm standing, the French doors to my right and behind me.

Woody Woodpecker?

I couldn't believe it! We had a new visitor to our feeder and I actually had the camera in my hand! Of course, when I saw the bird I instantly thought, "Where is that camera?" Kind of like looking for sunglasses that are perched on top of your head. Anyway, what we have here is a Hairy Woodpecker. There is another woodpecker called the Downy Woodpecker, but the Downy has spots on its tail and this one does not. You don't see that in this picture, but I have some lesser pictures that I'm not posting that clearly showed the solid black tail.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

As Grandma Foon would say . . .

Now where was I? Let's see. I told you they poured the foundation wall on the north side of the house. Well, they have since tarred and insulated it, and as you can see, they have filled the trench with the back fill.

They have poured the foundation walls on the south side of the house . . .

. . . and have tarred and insulated them as well.

They have laid more drainage around the east and south sides of the house . . .

. . . and have decided to lay drain pipe UNDER the basement floor (needless to say, there are springs under the house that they're trying to contain.) Below, you see the "tunnel" they have created under the concrete base for the new foundation under the dining room extension. There will be a blue pipe laid under the basement floor which will come out through that tunnel and connect to the rest of the drainage. The white pipe you see above it is the pipe to our septic tank.

The blue pipe you see below is the pipe from the septic tank to the leech fields which are under our front yard.

To build the new foundation under the dining room extension, they used Styrofoam forms which, once the concrete is poured, are left behind to act as insulation for the new wall.

Here's the new "doorway" from the basement into our new and unplanned for wine celler!

And each day when I come home from work I'm reminded of Grandma Foon whose reaction to the progress would undoubtedly be, "It just gets worser and worser!"

In all the digging, they have unearthed lots of enormous boulders.

There are plans for these wonderful boulders, but just in case those plans do not come to fruition, I'm going to keep them secret.

So, now that all the trenches have been filled in . . .

. . . Lindsay has begun to take off all the top soil from the north yard. He will then lay all the excess fill from the trenches onto the north yard and then cover it with the top soil. When he is done, the north yard will be flatter and the drastic slope which now exists between the front and north yards will be softer.