Showing posts with label House. Show all posts
Showing posts with label House. Show all posts

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Some gifts are just so precious that you do not mind oooing and ahhing like a little old lady.  They look as though they were made/selected with love and careful thought instead of made with gears and delivered via conveyor belts after being wrapped in a sterile plastic bubble.  Above is the gift that I received from my son's new girlfriend this past Christmas.  She has met us only a few times, but already she shows insight and taste.  She bought this at a bird store near her home at the edge of  "Pennsylvania's Great Lakes Port City."  I am thinking that our little wren couple, the duo that nest everywhere impractical on my back porch, may find this tiny home inviting come spring.  I can hardly wait!  I already caught the quick shadow of one bird peeking in during one of these dreary winter afternoons.  I find the re-cycled barbed wire for the front 'doorstep' a nice statement...bringing down boundaries.  The whimsy of the curled bark on the roof is the cherry on the frosting roof.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


For some weird reason we decided to use the rest of the tax refund (i.e. that free loan that you give to Uncle Sam, AND in our case, the State for a year) and spend it on paving the driveway.  Hubby and I have gone back on forth on the environmental issues, the weeds with ticks that appear by August down the drive vs. the toxicity of herbicide and pesticide vs. the oil runoff of asphalt and the heat that it will bring to the front yard.  I think what pushed us over the edge was the inability to shovel a gravel driveway with any success this past winter after week after week after week of snow.

Then hubby, who is the least pretentious person I know, decided he wanted pavers for the part closest to the house.  (Yes, you can close your mouth.) That is an expensive decision and certainly not necessary.  I was/am so shocked I decided to go along with it.  As I frequently say these days, I am going to die someday, so why not?  I do not fear or welcome death;  I just know that I am now on that downhill side and any decisions I make are not that important when they help employ others in this recession.

Anyway, I sit here at my desk with clouds of powdered cement drifting across the outside front yard and coating every green leaf and colored flower petal as workmen begin to saw into chunks the current cement sidewalk before starting on the driveway paving.  Oh yes, this will be major.  The house shakes as they lift huge chunks of cement with a bulldozer and dump it in their truck.  The workers (you know, the ones with the green cards that everyone wants to ask for to make sure they are legal ...the ones who are essential to our lifestyle...the ones that actually helped, in a small way, keep retail businesses open during the recession... and one of whom has only two pairs of work shoes but will not wear the other pair for weeks because a bird nested in them on his back porch) are covered in cement dust as they use cement saws to cut chunks of 4 inch thick concrete into manageable sizes.  The white guy sits in the front loader and moves the cement to the truck.

They had to carefully move quite a few established plants from either side of the walkway.  I am hoping they survive.  

Mrs. Bluebird left early and I have not seen her return, and I am VERY concerned that we have driven her off her nest.  The distant chickadee in the far birdhouse is still hanging in there in spite of the noise and dust.  We had forgotten the issues of spring when we scheduled this project.  We also should have been prepared for the washing machine gasket problem (in prior post) and the compressor going out on my little wine cooler in the kitchen.  

(Did she say she has a wine cooler in the kitchen?   Really?)

Anyway, neither of these are going to be repaired anytime soon.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Navigating a Narrow Mind

When she first looked out the back window at the river that sunny summer morning the view seemed strange. There was too much space. Then she realized that it/they were gone. The bright orange-red barge and its smaller brother tug boat were not there on the opposite side of the river tied together like prisoners with lifetime sentences against the opposite shore.

They had sat idle for years like fat retired whales, never moving and only occasionally groaning wildly in the wind or when the owner started up one of the rusty motors to do something unfathomable for an hour or so, making ugly raucous noises where large metal pipes were clanged or moved to another side of the barge. Most recently, as the deck to the barge owner's new house was completed, the monstrosities were moved to the nearby dock no longer blocking the owner's wife's view of the river.

In Tabor's mind they were like the war flags. Her side of the river was filled with fancy motor and sailboats and weekend children's rafts and paddle boats. The other side was filled with working gear, small fishing boats, and lawn BBQs and, of course, the two rusting whales. Oddly she felt guilty at her happiness in 'winning' the mind war that had resulted in the ugly monsters being removed. This couldn't have been the owner's livelihood because they were never used. They had become very expensive pieces of deteriorating junk. Surely the owner with his dark mustache and beer belly was just as glad as she that they had found a new home.

Yesterday, sitting on their new partially completed deck, they had waved as she floated by in her canoe. She waved back. Maybe this war was only in her mind.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Non-Fixer

In a prior post I wrote about how I fix things... at night... in bed...while I am trying to fall asleep. In reality, I do not have a lot of talent for fixing things in the harsh light of day.

The world is full of many interesting people, but I think we are we losing those all-important tinkerers. Today young men and women can work a software package, work a complicated blackberry, program a GPS, and plan a project. But can they change their own oil? Can they fix a clothes dryer? Can they install a window AC? Can they get that old rototiller running again? Can they reset that stupid door hinge that sticks every year? Can they take a machine apart and through examination figure out what is wrong and what can be fixed and what needs to be replaced?

Of course not! Who has the time? Who has the patience to break a nail in these stressful times. And so our land-fills will continue to expand as we toss things that cannot be fixed.

I think tinkerers are really cool people. My 75-year-old neighbor, who was an executive for a well-know company years ago, fixes everything on the farm that he rents out. He also rents out two trailers on this farm and repairs everything that goes wrong inside them as well. His church loves him as he can figure out anything and fix it even if he has to take it home and work on it all weekend! He likes the satisfaction of repairing something rather than throwing it away and replacing it by something new that is probably not as well made.

My dad could fix almost anything. He knew that we didn't have the money to buy new and so he made it work. Both of my brothers (one who owns a small construction company and one who is a retired teacher) also have the ability and patience to fix things rather than toss them. I did not inherit that fixing gene.

This photo above is the refrigerator in my kitchen. Perhaps in my frequency in getting access to my favorite ice cream I opened the bottom freezer too often this week and the refrigerator is trying to tell me something...the handle came off in my hand yesterday! I got out the manual (which anal retentive Tabor filed away carefully) and read it and it does appear that one should be able to slide this handle back on the two clamps without much struggle. It is NOT broken. I have read the directions twice and with a Masters degree still cannot figure it out. I am taking a deep breath and going to tackle it again later when I am more Zen. I can still get into the freezer so there is no panic.

This contrivance in the back seat of my car is my in-house vacuum cleaner. It stopped working also earlier this week. I unplugged, reset breakers, and reset the button on the bottom of the vac resulting in no success. I got out the manual and researched on the Internet. I am guessing that the starter motor on this two-year-old beast is the problem. I called a vacuum repair place and the nice man said I really needed to bring it in if I wanted him to work on it. He proceeded to tell me how to take it off my basement wall. The canister had been installed about 8 feet high, and so, standing on a chair, I managed to lift this heavy piece of machinery, carry it upstairs to the garage, and battled it into the back seat of my car. ( I may not know how to fix things, but I sure as hell lift weights and that does come in handy.)

P.S. For full disclosure, my darling husband, whom I love dearly, could not fix a squeaky hinge if his life depended on it.

P.P.S. If things do come in threes, I wonder what is next.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's a Spring Thing

While I realize it is bad Karma and so anti-Zen and certainly not Feng Shui and definitely expensive to put up this deer fence, my greatest love in retirement it to plant stuff and watch it grow. Therefore the front yard is now completely enclosed from deer. (Don't get me started on how raccoons, fox, possums, and squirrels can climb this netting and now rabbits can dig under. My first battle is with the deer.)

The fence is done and the gates are up and the young man who assisted told us this little space beneath the gate that appeared due to the drop of the side yard was too large and deer would crawl under and get in. So now we have
to come up with an attractive looking guard to cover this area. I guess I have seen deer duck beneath deadfall in the woods.

I removed one of the plastic owls from the dock and brought it back to the deck to see if that would discourage Don Quixote from taping at the bottom of this door which leads to our bedroom. Jury is still out on that. Hubby did catch him tapping at the very top of the window the other morning avoiding the bottom of the door.

The yellows are abundant including these hardy dandelions in the far yard by the woodpile. I learned by watching in Yellowstone National Park that brown bears love to eat these flowers in the spring. (Please click on the above photo for a real sunshine experience.)

And finally I must mention the true sign of spring for which I have no photo, thank goodness. When I opened the front door to call my husband to dinner I caught him standing in the vegetable garden in muddy clothes with shovel in hand and a stupid smile on his face staring off in to the woods on the other side of the fence. He broke his reverie to tell me I had to come outside and see what he saw. What, I asked, unwilling to put on shoes to cross the yard for something that would amaze his mind.

He looked up and called back,"Want to come see a pair of rabbits mating?"

Having a daughter who had raised lops as a child I had seen enough of rabbit mating to last a lifetime, but he explained that what had caught his eye was their play behavior. They were cavorting and turning somersaults and chasing each other around the ravine, and acting really crazy --- not consummating.

Yep, spring seems to turn all minds to mush.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Some Good Omens

'Seth' is a very dignified elder with a carefully groomed handle-bar mustache and a very gentle and gentlemanly demeanor. He did the prayer/chant and painted the various symbols in the air with his hand. His wife 'Dora' was in charge of getting all the elements necessary for the house blessing together. One last element she brought was a green candle which she lit and said was her own personal blessing for us for as long as we lived in the house and we were to keep the candle burning until it went out and therefore at the end we placed what was left of the burning candle into the fireplace.

The house was blessed with a very eclectic blessing ceremony involving some Asian symbols, some Jewish blessings and some pagan symbols and chants. Smoke and light and aromas were involved and every single room was blessed and every entryway and window protected from bad energies.

During the process, which was new and somewhat strange to hubby and I, Seth who was in each room happened to look out one of the upstairs windows to the house across the way and asked about our neighbors. Hubby said they were a very nice retired couple. Our guest then tapped his chest and said he felt something fluttering there. My husband then told him the man had just had quadruple bypass for the second time and our guest said that explains the tingle in his chest!

We went downstairs and looked out across the river and our guest said he felt the house across the way was troubled and therefore he sent more positive energy to that part of the walls and windows of our house and a stronger block for bad energy from across the way. Interestingly, the people directly across the river had been the ones who had called the permit office on our building project to insure it was being done legally and we had also heard from another neighbor that the wife of the couple was a trouble-maker. Seth and Dora live far from here knew none of this.

Then hubby decided to test our guest and asked him if he had any feelings about the neighbors to the East of our house. Our guest looked across the way and said he felt only joy and happiness. These neighbors are the ones who bought a $100,000 yacht this summer and never got around to using it and who invited their church to hold two church services outside in their front yard this past summer filled with singing and praying, but were polite enough to call me each time to let me know there would be some noise as they were having the service outside.

This analysis of our neighbors seemed to be too much coincidence to think that our guest didn't have something going on with his 'third eye' and therefore we thought he must know what he was doing in blessing and protecting our house. At the end of the blessing a very healthy pair of red shoulder hawks flew to the trees that were very close to the windows in the back yard and rested briefly before heading down the river. These are the first hawks we have seen in our neighborhood in well over a year and I took that as a good omen for strength, love, and new beginnings.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Settling In !

Our house was completed (mostly) in June of 2007.

Within the past month I have noticed two doors in this house that are sticking at the top of the frame when I try to open and close them. Really sticking so that I have to tug quite hard to get them open or closed. One is an inside door and one and outside door on opposite sides of the house. I have checked door hardware and it appears that settling has caused this instead of loose hinges. In one case the hairline crack runs from the corner trim through the sheet rock right up to the ceiling. (All photos can be clicked to enlarge.)

I have also noticed that many of the window trims have started to separate at the top corners and baseboard corners. I am guessing over time this can happen to a house as it ages, but I do not remember seeing so many trim corner cracks in the first house we built.

So, I did a walk around inspection and find also that the window frames in a very few instances are pulling from the sheetrock and therefore the paint is chipping.

I also found a nasty case where the ceiling tape is pulling loose as can be seen in the photo above.

While much of this can be repaired with spackling or caulk and paint, is this much settling normal as a house settles? Is this because of green wood? Should we be more concerned? On days when there are big changes in temperature this house will let out an amazing creak or two in the evening as the air cools down. There are no foundation or cement floor cracks, thank goodness.

Friday, October 10, 2008

One Down, Three Thousand to Go

This is the second time in a month that our contractor has been blocked from exiting (first time was entering) the lot to work on the patio due to a fallen tree across the road. This happened just 30 minutes after he return from an errand! Please bring your trailer by if you need any firewood this winter. We have two widow makers over the path to the dock and no cash to deal with them at this time!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Fall Projects

We had saved up a sum of money to put in a patio under our deck this fall and we now realize that was better than leaving it in the market! For the past week or so we have been doing our little bit for the economy by employing almost 4 men full time to clear grass, put in drains, set paver stone, aerate the lawn and seed the destroyed areas. It was supposed to take a little less than 4 days, but I think that with economy slowing down the landscape firm was in no rush to have staff return to the store and sit waiting for another assignment and so the crew was actually here for 7 days which did not increase the cost of the contract.

During that time my husband and I began clearing the garden and moving ALL of the soil (he did most of the work as I have been fighting some illness) and now we will level the whole area and put in a series of raised container beds. We spent the last of the wad of money on cedar boards--the worst grade they had which is stunningly beautiful even so---for the walls of the beds. Hopefully with landscape cloth and mulch on the paths between the beds, we will get some control over the weeds next year.

They had to tear up the lawn with the little bulldozer, but also aerated and reseeded the areas and now we wait for the lawn to come up once again. We also had them take down some dead trees on the edge of the lawn in the front yard, and now, guess what? I get to put in ANOTHER flower bed. (I still haven't gotten the deer fence up but I tend to be more optimistic than realistic!) The far side of this bed will be for cut flowers. I love cutting flowers and bringing them inside the house to enjoy as I do my chores.

The new patio provides a rather large sitting area beneath the deck that will be handy during the hottest part of summer and also nice for fall when we want to sit around a small fire pit. Right now a fine layer of dust and dirt is everywhere --- on the window sills, the deck chairs, the potted plants and the brick. Thus the project today, if the weather stays warm enough, is to wash all of the outside before the grandchildren show up on the weekend. S'mores anyone?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday Thoughts #11

1. This morning Hubby and I had a crab omelette which we made with two of the crabs we recently caught beneath the dock. This is a luxury meal that is much easier to prepare in retirement as picking crabs requires a leisure morning.

2. I have trepidatiously planted one hybrid tea rose in a bed near the front of the house knowing full well that they are like creme brulee for deer. I was weeding around it this morning and I looked up to marvel at the dozen or so pink buds getting ready to open. Then, even before I sighed with pleasure, the plant said, "I'm too hot. I'm thirsty. My feet are getting too wet. There is some strange fungus in that mulch. That salvia is too close to me..."on and on the temperamental beauty ranted.

3. I just noticed that I have not worn my engagement ring in almost a week, a longer time than I have ever had it off. I took it off to work in the garden and to clean and move basement boxes and it seems that I am doing all of this constantly these days and the ring sits in a ceramic box near the sink.

4. I got an email from work yesterday asking me if I remembered my Safeboot password for the laptop I had turned in. I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants.

5. Daughter is coming down this weekend since both of our husbands are otherwise occupied with fishing and/or golfing making us weekend widows. Since my husband is taking my son along for all of the following week, I may get to see his new girlfriend as she drives him down. I am trying to get her to stay the might be a fun girly weekend after all---although there are toddlers involved so we will have to be wise on the wine.

6. I have not had to plan exercising time much this past month. Moving tons of dirt, digging holes, laying out bags of top soil and peat moss and working it all into the mounds of clay-based soil, laying out bags of mulch, lifting small shrubs and trees in containers all seem to be helping me get plenty of weight lifting and aerobic exercise. Just to increase all this fun, I and hubby have put down quite a bit of landscape brick after putting down the bed sand. Below is just one of the beds we have been working on.

7. I finished reading the Namesake but found the Kite Runner more moving and poetic.

8. I live out in "NO-NPR" land and there is a religious radio station that sits right next to NPR on my dial and overpowers the signal. I have spent time trying to get an antenna to capture NPR but have had no luck. I can only really enjoy NPR very early in the morning or while I ride in my car and now the tuner button has broken on that as well!

9. Kafir lime leaves are quite pungent and certainly two different meals (salmon patties and beef with asparagus) using this flavor are enough to satisfy us for quite some time. My tiny Kafir lime tree is also pleased that I have stopped denuding it for a while.

10. I actually did a crossword puzzle yesterday. That may be common fare for some people, but for me it always was something for those who have idle time which I never had. Although I love words and their meanings, I am not very good at crosswords and actually somewhat intimidated by them. I also rarely have the patience to sit and complete one puzzle. I didn't finish this entirely...but I got close!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Punch List

I have been living (at least on weekends) in my new house for almost 18 months now. As with any new house, there is always what the builder calls a punch list that is reviewed when the house is 99% done. The punch list is a list of items that the builder or the owner identify as corrections to mistakes or things that need to be finished but were overlooked. They usually get done prior to the final payment or within a month after the final payment.

Since my husband and I are relatively easy going and have made our final payments, there are still a few things that need to be done. I am not worried because the builder's subcontractor is free-lancing by finishing our basement. He has said he will get to these items and he is a reasonably nice guy, so I trust him. I also find that my karma gets really crappy if I turn into one of those bitchy homeowners that feel it is necessary to get in the contractors face every time I see him, when I see that he IS doing work. As a side comment we are actually having the basement finished based on a handshake, an estimate that is not in writing and by writing checks every now and then when asked. I do not recommend that homeowners do this in real life, but it seems to be working for us.

ANYWAY, one of the items on my punch list is that foyer light above. The larger light in the foreground was hung quite high with the builder's brother telling me that was necessary to allow a decorative view from outside the front door when it was on at night. There was a spot light over that window that fell on that small landing below---this landing is found in many new homes and is a totally useless feature added by architects for you to place totally useless decorative crap that you could not reach to dust without endangering yourself.

This foyer light in the foreground was found after much searching in several light stores and catalogs for something large enough in size and with a style that fit with my "pseudo-Tuscan" approach. The light was found hanging in a corner of one of the larger light fixture stores covered in dust. Naturally the builder hung it with all the dust still intact! When I explained to the builder that the foyer light was so damn high even my husband could not reach it to clean it or replace bulbs with his two story ladder and that it needed to be lowered, this led to me purchasing a similar light (from a totally different company) that hung directly in front of the window where the ceiling spot was. (WE RARELY USE THIS SECOND LIGHT!)

Now I continue to see my foyer light dusty and with one burned-out bulb hanging at the same height as if in some vacant house. I wait patiently for them to lower it at least two feet. They keep saying they will get to it. I will keep those blogreaders who are on the edge of their seat about this challenge posted.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Lived-In Look

The Painting Contractor Chickie may appreciate these photos. I have the wallpaper guy in all week putting up wallpaper in the front formal room---we really are using it as a quiet room rather than a formal room as we are the farthest thing from being 'formal' folk. Anyway, I did pick a wine and gold abstract design and the room did take on a plumish color after we painted it ourselves. I was surprised, but I think that I will like it. I do not have any furniture for this room so will have to find something that goes with plum wine? At least if people spill their drinks, it will blend. Hubby painted the trim on the bay window and deserves an award for that work.

And below the wallpaper guy has taken on the dangerous job of completing the kitchen. (I really like him and his work style, by the way.) Thank goodness we put up the pictures already so that he could just rehang them! It also is a strange wallpaper. I bought it because it was a faux finish pattern...but it ended up looking like a birch bark canoe I am thinking. Oh well. And, yes, we are going to re-paint the living room to better coordinate. The great butter yellow just doesn't go so probably something called "bagel". Wallpaper guy has agree to paint the high harder walls and we will paint the easier stuff. I have to put up the two samples this weekend and decide.

As you can see from the photo below of the master bedroom, we are really getting settled in now and developing that lived in look. I had to make curtains for the masterbath as I was tired of feeling strange walking around in the nude even though no one within miles can see in and no one would look twice if they did! I was going to sew the curtains and then got lazy and just used the iron-on tape and they came out pretty good, even if they do look a little cheapo!

The two framed harp shells are from something I did in Indonesia when I was working in batik. The colors don't really go anywhere in the house, but the frames were so nice and matched and so we decided to put them up in the masterbath. Yes, they ARE too far apart, but between my cold and the difficulty of hanging stuff at the end of a long day, we just decided to live with it!

For what we did outside go to the "Room Without Walls" blog.