Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Week, 2015

Yesterday I purchased a boatload of produce.

OK, it wasn't a boatload, but it was a whopping amount to fit into my car.  I purchased a huge bag of Gala apples, a bag of clementines, two giant boxes of grapes - both red and green (NOT a nod to Christmas, yet, thank you very much), two big ol' containers of mini-tomatoes, a giant sleeve (I will call it that...?) of romaine lettuce, approximately twenty bananas (organic, at that), two giant bags of cranberries.

This morning that Spouse o' Mine delivered them to our community Emergency Shelter.
(read: homeless).

We do this occasionally.  Three years ago, I was experiencing not a life-crisis, but a life "what is bothering you?".  It had to do with that summer being what I knew would be our last summer with our son home, living  with us.  Our two daughters had already made permanent moves out of our nest, and I had coped accordingly.  When I felt the familiar twinges of this fledge, though, I knew I had to acknowledge what it was and what I might do.

I always loved to feed our family.  Healthy. healthy, let's be athletic, let's be healthy and happy...  I asked myself what it was I would miss most with our son's final departure.  Probably, I thought to myself...was feeding my family.  I wonder if birds in the nest feel this same impending loneliness?

And then I got it: I would provide a meal to our Emergency Shelter twice a month.  I mentioned this to that Spouse o' Mine: the cost would be much as if he & I went out to eat each week.  In that we rarely eat out, this seemed an agreeable task at hand.

OK - so that was three years ago.  Since then, I have received great feedback about shelter meals. There are a few weeks that I opt out of cooking a meal.  Thanksgiving week is one of those weeks; there are many, MANY offerings in our community for Thanksgiving meals.

But...what about the day before, or the day after, when kids are out of school and don't have their school breakfasts and lunches?

Ah!  That's where this fruit and fresh produce come into play.

When our kids were wee young things, we had a fruit bowl in the kitchen.  Anytime, anytime at all, no questions from us, they were welcome to take what they liked from the fruit bowl.  As were their playmates.  Playmates were incredulous.  "Really?!"

The feedback that we get from the Emergency Shelter is that the kids, in particular, are the ones who eat the fruit and such.  The fruit is set in a bowl, as I understand it (for privacy reasons, our Emergency Shelter does not allow people into their inner rooms.), and the kids flock to it.

And that's all I have for today.

Mid Week Thanksgiving, tomorrow.

Friday, October 30, 2015


We were asked to come in costume to Book Club last night...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Picket Chronicles: That Was Problematic...

Well.  We've come to a point (notice that it's "we" now, and not "I"?) where that Spouse o' Mine is setting the posts for my gate.  This morning I primed and painted the last little things.  Now, I wait for his posts to go in.  This evening, I suggested that he show me how to start the giant rototiller, (hereafter, known as The Beast...), so that I could till and start planting my tulips and daffodils tonight.

Sometimes things happen so quickly.  People act astonished and say, "It was all a blur!"

That is exactly what happened this evening when I accidentally ran The Beast right into and nearly right over the new picket fence.  Wowee.  That was a blur.  All but the moment where that Spouse o' Mine was behind me, yelling in my ear, "LET GO!  LET GO!"  The Beast had already climbed to the top of the fence.

One would have thought he could have mentioned "letting go" before I went off to till my cutting garden.

This autumn project is lingering just a little too long.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Photo Opportunities: The Picket Fence Chronicles

Tick, tock, tick-tock, ticky-tock-tickety-tock-tock...
I have four days.

I do not do well with deadlines.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I like leeway in all things.

But this picket fence thing is getting me going. Too, that That Spouse o' Mine has stepped in to help get things aimed more accurately in the right direction.  I do not want to go into silly detail here, but there was some question (eight inches?) about where my picket fence was going to set.  And end. (Somewhere out in the pasture?)  Louise Plummer  requested photos.  Oh, Honey Pie, I have photos.  Here they go: 

An apple tree and concord grapevines, awaiting a fence...

Painting fence panels...
 The sky...

Digging to China.  Because that's what you do when there is a gate in question,
and you are an engineer...

It is starting to look pretty great!

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Picket Chronicles

Two years ago, I decided that what my cutting garden needed was a white picket fence.  After a couple of false starts, I set that idea on the back burner.  That is, until I visited Ithaca, New York this summer.  What a pretty little town!  Old houses, waterfalls, and - you guessed it: pretty white picket fences.  Well, that trip put a bee in my bonnet.

A week after I returned from Ithaca, daughter Claire came home for a visit.  Just what I needed: a partner in crime!  We set out one morning for the local fence store, purchased eight, 4 x 8' panels, put them in her new car (Thanks, Claire!) and headed home.  She & I fiddled in the yard, eye-balling and such.  Neither of us know much about fence building.

I should insert here that That Spouse o' Mine did not seem to want to participate in this activity.  I did not invite him to join in, and he did not attempt to.  That's thirty-one years of marriage: "Picket fence?  Bully for you!  Go for it!"

Claire left to return to her new Wisconsin home, and there I was staring at picket fence panels.  Lightbulb!  "I should paint these BEFORE I set them into place!"  And so weeks of priming and painting pickets went by.

I bought 8' 4 x 4s for my fence posts.  I needed to cut them into 4' posts.  I have used our big saw in the past (I don't even know what the big saw is really called), but it seemed like too much trouble for this, so I got a hand saw out and cut all the 4 x 4s like that.  I mean, how did the women of Ithaca make their picket fences before the invention of home-owned big saws?  Right?

  Years ago, I had an incident that involved a rock climbing wall that did not end well, and since then, my ability to pull any starter cord (lawn mower, rototiller, etc) has been a bit compromised.  When it came time to cut down the two giant cedar trees which were not in my plan for the cutting garden and new fence, I was not able to start the chain saw.  (I used to be quite handy with a chain saw, before the unfortunate rock climbing incident.)  Once again I took the hand saw, and spent a Saturday morning cutting down trees.  This was really pretty unpleasant.  But, I got it done, and that Spouse o' Mine came home from his Saturday bike ride to see the trees well-felled, and after his initial shock, he very nicely finished digging them out with a miner's pick for me.

From there, I confronted the perimeter of my garden: how does one set the perimeter?  I emailed my comrade of all things house & garden, Cate, in Ohio.  "How do I make a 90* angle???"

How embarrassing that Cate had to remind me of the simple algebraic rule of A2 + B2= C2.  Sheesh.

I taped off the edge of the cutting garden, where my picket fence should go.  And then what?  Where do I go from there?  I drove in to town and took neighborhood walks to see how other picket fences were built.  I went online.  (Man!  Some people sure have a lot of details in installing fences, let me tell you.)   I mentioned to that Spouse o' Mine that I did not know what in the Sam Hill I was to do next.

The next day he came home with a brace he bought at the hardware store.  Ah!  So that's it: a brace to screw the 4x4 to the 2x4 panels.  Brilliant!  Although the one he bought didn't work, at least I knew there was something out there in Hardware Land that was made for this sort of task.  

And so, this weekend I set my first post.  Set it in stone.  (concrete).  It has been 48 hours, and I still beam as I set my little level in the top and see that yes, indeedy, I DID get it level in spite of the wind and the kitten and everything else in my way.

The wind has been something else the past couple of days.  I reached a temporary standstill in the fence installment when I realized I could not, by myself, maneuver an 8' panel out there in the 25-35 mph wind.  That Spouse o' Mine came out late in the afternoon and showed me what Step #324 should be in this procedure.  I busied myself screwing braces (I went and bought 30 of the correct fit.) into all my 4x4s, and then I tried to set panels to posts, as that Spouse o' Mine had said, to set them up and then "jockey them into place."  Ha ha!  I laughed.  I think "jockeying them into place" really is a simplification.

Case in point: I set up three panels, in the gale, and went hunting for that Spouse o'Mine.  Something, I told him, is not right.  I couldn't say what, but something was not right.  I suspected that there was a slight decline in elevation in the yard.  I went online, and I did not like any of the solutions given for installing a fence on a slope.  The two of us went out to the cutting garden, and he poo-pooed my 7", lime green level which I had been using.  He disappeared, and came back with a magical laser level.  Because he is an engineer.

Together, we ascertained that there was a 7" slope in my garden.  "What does this mean?"

Well, he explained that I could do this, or I could do that, or such, or so forth, or, I could bring in dirt.

He knows me too well.  I have dirt.  I have a slew of dirt thanks to the crewmen who put the fiber optics on our property this summer.  I had asked them, "What do you do with all this dirt?"  And they replied that they had to take it to landfills.  "Take it to my landfill!"  And they did.  Loads and loads and loads of it.  What rural property owner worth her salt does not have a large dirt pile?

So, this morning, in more 25-35 mph wind, I shoveled dirt into a bushel basket, hauled it to the cutting garden with our little garden mower, over and over and over again.  That Spouse o' Mine is going to be the civil engineer in this detail, in that our rototiller is gigantic and, again, has a pull starter cord.  I haul dirt, he does the dirt-scaping.  Win-win.  From there, shouldn't it all be smooth sailing?

to be continued...
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