Monday, December 01, 2008

The Random Thoughts Of An Addled Mind or A Strange Thing Happened On The Way To The Blogpost

Pansies.... (click for larger views)

"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." ~ Mark Twain

Let's see. I did post about the sale of my parent's house and the daughter's graduation and the "fleeing of the nest." I managed to let you know about the sweetheart of a dog we adopted and the passing of dear Miss Clover. But there are many, many pictures of gardens and cats and storms and pumpkins and holidays that haven't seen the light of day.... well, because my mind is addled. I forgot to do a post on my wonderful surprise gift.... from my brother.... a new iMac with the wide 24 inch screen and 4 GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive and that it has Aperture for pictures and the software to make it run Windows. Oh! He also sent a new HP Photosmart All-in-one printer.. fax.. copier.. scanner; although I think part of this was for him too... so he could fax business stuff back and forth to Vienna. The package is WONDERFUL!!!!! Since it came in May, I have had time to link it to my network and can share picture files back and forth with the old Dell.

A patch of autumn color...
Then we have had the ongoing saga of Mom's back pain... or, hip pain... or. Well!
That was just it! It took more than four months of seeing orthopedic surgeons for hips, orthopedic surgeons for backs, physical therapy for both, neurosurgeons for backs, various injections, scans, blood tests... etc........ before one of the docs finally decided that there was a problem with BOTH.. but the hip was the worst and first to be taken care of. So we made the rounds of the renal specialist, heart specialist, rheumatologist, family practice, orthopedic surgeon, more bone densities, chest x-rays, stress tests and pre-op blood tests and had the surgery set for October 23rd but because of a last minute glitch, it was canceled and more tests ordered.

Finally, on November 17th, the surgery finally went off.... right hip replacement. Surgery went well but the post-op pain meds really made her confused.... she thought we were all lying to her and that the surgery had been canceled again. Friday, finally over the post-op problems, she transferred to the rehab center.... right next to the two gas stations with the cheapest gas in Hampton Roads...... yeah! Dad spent the last two weeks on the couch in the hospital room. I got him to come home to shower and eat two or three times. Now, he will stay home at night and sit with her part of the day.

Wildflowers & friend....
One day (the days run together with an addled mind) I was driving home from the hospital and saw this huge soaring bird. At first I thought it was Canadian goose or a large duck, but it had a smooth gliding motion unlike the frantic flapping of the geese. The bird landed on the golf course green right next to the pond with Mallards and geese already present. As I drove by I was amazed to see the large and regal white head of the American bald eagle... perched at the edge of the putting surface. (That's one way to score an eagle!) I hope he migrates on back in the subdivision... we have a great source of food for him this year... the field mice are plentiful!

Thanksgiving was formally held in the hospital, and I must say that the kitchen personnel outdid themselves with ham and turkey, yams, mashed potatoes, green beans and collards. It was one of the better hospital fares I have seen. On the way to the feast I saw a woodchuck (groundhog) sitting up at the side of the road... doing whatever woodchucks do... so... with the addled mind running loosely... that childhood rhyme started running through my head... How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Of course, it is now in my head and won't go away!!!

Violas..... Posted by Picasa
I was coming home Thanksgiving evening and started hearing a slight hissing sound that quickly turned into a loud roaring grind.... I thought my transmission had fallen out or something horrible like that. Somehow, with a break in the traffic, I maneuvered across five lanes of traffic and came to a stop just before an exit ramp, got out and there... my back tire was flatter than a pancake. I called 911 to ask about the roadside service but he pulled up behind me just as I got a person... not two minutes after my flat! This is a really good service for motorists.. he had my spare on in less than 10 minutes and wouldn't take a tip or anything! I did have to get a new tire as it was punctured by a four inch piece of metal from a phillips head screw driver... it was still inside the tire when they changed it.

So that about catches things up... oh, yes! I MET JUDY!! AND MR. KENJU!! We had a wonderful lunch and her daughter was reassured that I was not a knife wielding serial killer from the internet...

"It can take a surprisingly long time to get from one part of my mind to another." ~ Ashleigh Brilliant

What do the flower and tree pictures have to do with any of this post? Absolutely nothing! An addled mind doesn't need an excuse... for anything.

(end of post)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Season of Gratitude

A plentiful harvest.....
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." ~ Melody Beattie

Today is Thanksgiving with families getting together for food and fun and football. For many, it represents the harvest with food gathered and stored for the winter... a day to be thankful for spring warmth, summer rain and a late frost. For most it is traditional... turkey, stuffing, green-bean casserole, corn pudding, sweet potatoes, homemade yeast rolls and, of course.. pumpkin pie with whipped cream!

.....a day of thanksgiving. Posted by Picasa
This year will be less than traditional here, but we still have much to be grateful for. Mom's hip replacement went well after weeks of delay due to an overly hysterical and dramatic anesthesiologist who canceled the surgery minutes before she was to be wheeled into the OR. There have been unforeseen complications.. first from kidneys that were slow to perk up and a bowel that decided to take a complete rest for a few days and all the things that go along with surgery at age 80. So instead of having a fair meal at the rehab center as planned, we will be taking our chances with the turkey fare served up by the hospital cafeteria.

Still, it looks as if the worst has past and perhaps... maybe... she will be transferred to the rehab on Friday. For this we are very, very grateful.

I pray that this Thanksgiving finds you filled with joy and gratitude for all the blessings of life.... Oh! And eat a turkey leg for me, please!

(end of post)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Thought I Saw You Here Today

Miss Clover (July 1993 - October 8, 2008)
(Click pictures for larger view of her glorious eyes)

"You can't see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears."
~ (C. S. Lewis)

I thought she would live forever.... this tiny kitten that we brought home in 1993. Miss Chloe, her sister, was the first born, sedate and dignified. Miss Clover, on the other hand, arrived in this world as an angry camper. She was known as "the dark one" until we settled on her name; while most Siamese are born as small balls of white or cream fluff and only tiny tips of color, she burst on the scene already light tan with a dark mask and vivid blue eyes. As her siblings darkened, so did she until she was almost a dark cocoa all over with a completely black face, tail, ears and paws.

Often her coloring matched her mood. Clover was not one to fawn over visitors nor did she appreciate unsolicited attention from other cats or humans. And yet she would be more than willing to warm your lap all afternoon and sleep next to you all night... but always on her own terms.

Clover never met a box she didn't like.

Clover had a love affair with boxes... any shape, any size, any color. She could wedge herself in the smallest book box and sleep will at least half of all her parts hanging outside the box or sun her tummy in the produce box from Sam's or play the warrior princess defending her castle in a large QVC box.

Once, when Nyssa and I were packing for a two week vacation, I put a large empty box on the dining room table and labeled it.... "MAIL" for our house sitter. A bit later as I was walking by, I noticed two black ears sticking out of the box, just above the writing. Nyssa took a black and white picture and there she was, thinking she was totally hidden.... just half of her eyes and her ears showing...peeking over the rim.

She was really a cave dweller...Clover loved to burrow.
Yes, she IS the lump under the gray robe. (upper right)

Miss Clover loved to burrow... under anything! If there was a lump on the bed under a robe or throw or in a pile of stuffed animals or pillows, it was likely to be her! She would nudge and nudge the covers at night and inch herself down to my feet..under the sheets and blankets and go to sleep.

She was a cat with many hobbies... bird watching, boxing, sun bathing, catnip-dipping (in any shape or form), photography and sleeping. Her favorite hobby, or perhaps it was more of a "talent" was singing. Clover loved to walk into a darkened bathroom when no one else was around and there she would "sing" in full voice, to be heard all over the house. These were not "mews" or "meows" or "squeaks" or even cat fight "screams", but full-bodied melodious "yowls" that reverberated with a power many opera singers would envy! How did she know that the best acoustics are found in the bathroom?

Birdwatching, sun bathing, cameras, catnip.
(clockwise from top left)

Miss Clover loved her sister Chloe.... 95% of the time. They were best friends and bathing buddies. Our vet once remarked that he had never seen two cats with such clean ears... he had never seen their post-meal ritual. They groomed each other, sometimes from head to toe. This occasionally provoked a short lived hitting and biting fight which usually ended with both of them staring each other down and then one offering up her ears for the washing to commence again. They ALWAYS slept together... in chairs, on the floor, in the bed... usually entwined and always touching.

They could fight with passion, as most sisters can. I usually took them to the vet together (but in separate carriers) for their yearly visit and left them for the day, picking them up on the way home. On one occasion I arrived at the vet and they asked if I could get them back in their carriers. Apparently, both were in the same exam room and had gotten up into the bookshelves on the wall... Chloe on one side of the divider and Clover on the other. While they couldn't see each other, they knew a cat was on the other side of the shelf, they knew they were at a place that neither wanted to be and that they were NOT going anywhere. The vet techs were met with hissing, spitting, biting and slapping demon possessed animals each time they tried to get them down, so they left them in the exam room all day... and there they were when I went in. The sisters were hissing at me and each other and making a general spectacle of themselves, so I just grabbed each one by the nape of the neck, like their mother would and as soon as they were able to see each other... everything was fine. When they emerged from their respective carriers at home, they immediately bathed each other... had to get that stinky vet smell off!

Clover and Chloe, loving sisters.
(Clover it to the right in each picture..the dark one)

Somehow I thought she would live forever, or at least longer than my first Siamese, Shamroc, who lived well until the ripe old age of 19. But, she didn't. I thought I could get her to gain weight by tempting her with fancy morsels, or at least stop the spiraling weight loss. But I couldn't. She felt heavier as I carried her to her soft heated bed each day, but the scales said something else; another three pounds lost in one year. She lost the ability to jump on the bed or even climb the pet steps... her balance was gone and her back legs weak. She found it hard to get in and out of her litter box and almost impossible to groom herself, so she quit trying to. She couldn't get the food off of her face after eating and even had trouble climbing onto the soft pallet I fixed for her, sometimes landing half in and half out.

The most devastating loss for Clover was her sight. It was obvious that she was completely blind as she navigated the room by keeping her nose against the wall and by her back and forth head movements as she tried to see shapes in front of her. No cataracts, no glaucoma but some neurologic problem. Her hearing became hyperacute and her sense of smell was still keen, she had no trouble finding the food bowls.

I finally accepted that the time was short. Chloe cried for her sister so I let her into my room with Clover. I have never seen such a patient cat. Miss Clover hissed and growled at her sister, whom she could not see, yet Chloe simply sat beside her until she was calm. I kept the food bowls full and Chloe would sit aside and let Clover eat all she wanted first. I would wipe her face and get her settled on the heated bed, covered with a light and very soft baby blanket; then Chloe would come over and clean Clover's face and ears and curl up next to her to sleep. Later, as Clover still slept, Chloe would have her food. Being together brought a calm to both.

One last outing in the warm sun and cool grass.

My brother said his good-byes to Miss Clover in September and Nyssa visited one last time. Yes, it was time to end her pain and preserve what was left of her dignity.

On October 8th, I wrapped her in her blanket and drove to the vet. They were, as always, kind and gentle and gave us space and time to let go. I held her in my arms as she relaxed and grew still...her pain finally ending as mine began.

It has taken me over a month to collect my thoughts for this piece. Miss Chloe misses her and still looks for her in my room, but she seems more content with the other cats now... she knows, somehow, that her sister is gone. I catch myself still calling her name or hearing her operatic aria in the distance. What do I miss the most about our Miss Clover??......

"Who can believe that there is no soul behind those luminous eyes!"
~ Theophile Gautier

Her presence in those singularly unique, dark blue, marbled eyes that were always clear and piercing. Clover could shoot daggers from those eyes or roll them comically when trying to get a fuzz ball off her nose. Her eyes could melt my heart and ALWAYS did.

Rest in peace dear Miss Clover "All Over" Posted by Picasa

Friday's Ark #217... In Memoriam.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our Miss Daisy

Miss Daisy, our newest family member... doesn't she look happy?
(Click pictures for larger view)
"I am joy in a wooly coat, come to dance into your life, to make you laugh!" ~ Julie Church

Well, I did it! I resisted for almost a year; waiting patiently for another lost dog to find me. That is how it always works with me... the lost dog shows up on my street or at the playground or on a college campus. But this time, it didn't exactly work that way. This time, my mom decided she wanted a dog... a "little lap" dog... a dog that most certainly would have scooted right through the back fence or have been accidentally tripped over or stepped on by low flying feet. (We all have those at times here in this home.) She talked about a Yorkie or a Miniature Schnauzer, but I think the mixed "pound puppy" is the best! So, I started looking at rescue groups and came across many shocking examples of the dark side of humanity; so-called animal shelters where poor dogs are put in large chambers and gassed with carbon monoxide and owners that turned in their companion pets, knowing full well they would be killed within hours. I will NEVER understand people who think like this.

What a pretty smile you have?
Then I ran across B.A.R.K. (Bandit's Adoption & Rescue of K-9s) and they had two possible candidates. I wanted a dog big enough to make their presence known but not too big, a calm and sweet personality, fine with other animals (cats) and already house trained, not a puppy. So I took the plunge after several days of arguing with myself and... I filled out the application for adoption and asked to see the two dogs... Simon and Daisy. I guess it shouldn't have surprised me since I had to tell them about the animals we have had and almost all had sad stories, but they approved my application in just a few hours and before I knew it, I was set to drive up to Richmond for a visit.

Simon and Daisy were both sweet, friendly, quiet, calm and really perfect. How to chose? It helped that their foster mom already had someone who wanted the one I could not chose. But yet again, my idea of "choosing" a dog didn't work out. Simon and I played a while then he played with the other dogs and children in the area. When I sat down to get to know Daisy, she climbed into my lap, put her head back on my arm and wouldn't leave. Even when I was filling out the paperwork, she just stared up at me and refused to walk away. Her foster said, "I think Daisy has chosen you." And so it was.

Daisy loves belly rubs!
She is the same coloring as my beloved Max but with a docked tail. Daisy was pulled from a South Carolina high-kill gassing "shelter" just 30 minutes before her time was up. The Carolina Cocker Rescue was full so they called the Richmond group and found her foster mom. She said she was matted and had barbed wire embedded in the fur on her chest and that she didn't know how she could have laid down at all. She was thought to be a stray, already spayed, lost perhaps... and yet no one was looking for her. Daisy is about five years old and in spite of all her troubles, she is trusting and lovable and just perfectly sweet. She made the two hour trip back here without a whimper or whine. In fact, she made NO SOUND for a full three days. We were worried that she had had her cords cut as some puppy mill dogs do and were actually relieved to hear her bark at a squirrel who had pilfered some bird feed in the back yard. The squirrels are the only thing she does bark at.

She loves the company of cats, although I think the 16+ pound hairy ragdoll Willow scares her a bit. Mr. Rhett is not bothered at all and they touch noses and share my mom's chair at times (Rhett on the arm and Daisy getting tummy rubs in her lap) She sleeps in her crate at night and on the sofa with me on Sunday afternoons. She loves baths, the puppies next door, my brother and treats, of course. So far, however, no interest in chew bones or toys, but we have time for that.

Sleepy time for a tired little girl. Posted by Picasa
So, this is Miss Daisy, our newest family member.... and already firmly entrenched in our hearts. The dogs in my life usually find me. This time I found her... but in the end it was her "choice". I'm glad Daisy chose us!

(end of post)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Starting A New Chapter

Be strong. Be intelligent. Smile.
Know that beauty has everything to do with how you feel about yourself and nothing to do with looks or other people's opinions.
Never do anything just because everyone else is if you believe it's wrong.
Always be true to yourself.
Expect the best from life and that's what you'll get.
Learn from your mistakes and failures.
Believe in magic and wish on stars.
Love and trust and be compassionate.
Make faces. Play in mud puddles. Take bubble baths.
Turn off all the lights and watch lightening storms.
Dance, laugh, cry, and sing when you want to.
Read everything you can get your hands on.
Stand up for what is right especially if you stand alone.
Don't allow yourself or people around you to tolerate prejudices of any kind.
Don't be afraid to try something new.
Do something daring at least once a week.
Run through snow drifts. (I know. Not likely in Mississippi!)
Spin in circles and roll down hills.
Pet puppies, hold kittens, and talk to babies.
Take afternoon naps. Stay up to watch the sunrise.
Never apologize for being a woman or for being yourself.
Never forget that I love you more than any other person in the world, no matter how far apart we are you will always be my daughter."
~ Author Unknown
My baby is on her own... 884 miles away, living a distance greater than she has ever done before. We made the trip from Virginia to Mississippi in about 18 hours (with two or so hours for dining and refeeding the U-haul. I will have more observations about the trip later... for now, here she is in her first apartment... no more dorm rooms... just leaky faucets and fights with baby roaches. She loves it! (the apartment, not necessarily the roaches)
This was a very tough move for mom.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On The Road Again

No quote.....brain is dead.
No witty sayings.... too tired.
Just moving... always moving... this time moving Nyssa back to Mississippi for grad school.
I am off to bed... a 1AM alarm set and I will likely be out of pocket until August 8th... unless there is a miracle and great service with internet in Starkville...I won't hold my breath though.
So, it's "On the road again.........."

(end of post)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Chameleon

American goldfinch, Carduelis tristis
(Click picture for larger view)
Posted by Picasa
"It is the color closest to light. In its utmost purity it always implies the nature of brightness and has a cheerful, serene, gently stimulating character. Hence, experience teaches us that yellow makes a thoroughly warm and comforting impression. With yellow the eye rejoices, the heart expands, the spirit is cheered and we immediately feel warmed. Many people feel an inclination to laugh when looking through a yellow glass." ~ Johann von Goethe, Theory of Colors, 1840
I learned something this year... actually, I've learned quite a few things this year... such as, how to set a toilet, how to scrape up floor tile, how to spackle, how to prepare a concrete floor for painting, how to re-upholster chairs.. you get my drift and I am drifting.

Anyway, we've (Mom, the cats and I) been birdwatching for several years now and each spring the yellow finch (goldfinch) show up and devour several pounds of thistle seed, providing the cats with hours of intense entertainment. These birds have been greyish brown with bits of yellow shading on their heads or about the wing. At the old place in Virginia Beach, they would feed for several weeks and then disappear for the summer and make another appearance in late fall. I always wondered where they went.

Well, it seems that the Virginia Beach finch takes his summer vacation, not at the beach, but here in Chesapeake. This invites the question.. where do the Chesapeake finch spend their summers... at the beach... literally? The local Wild Birds Unlimited shared this tidbit. The more fascinating observation, however, occurred in late May... suddenly it seemed, these fairly drab and tiny birds showed up at the thistle stash sporting blindingly bright yellow feathers. This intense yellow deepened the contrast with their black wing markings. Were these different birds, perhaps from North Carolina or parts more distant? Probably not.

These yellow finch (goldfinch) are chameleons. During mating season (summer), the male's feathers change color, becoming this bright dazzling hue... break out the sunglasses! In nature, it sometimes takes a lot to snare a mate! This made me wonder.... how often or how much does the male of the human species change in order to find his mate? I decided it was a moot point.... you see, when the mating season is over, these bright little males change right back into the mousy gray-brown feather coat they had in early spring. In my experience... humans tend to do the same.

Submission for Thursday Challenge topic "yellow".

(end of post)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

If We Could Talk To The Animals....

....would we learn how silly we look to them?
Judging by the look this fellow gave me... I think so!
(Click picture to enlarge)
Posted by Picasa
"In order to be an immaculate member of a flock of sheep, one must above all be a sheep oneself." ~ Albert Einstein
"Oh! Hello! Just taking a picture of the fascinating windmill on the pivoting base with the Dutch architectural influence, that sits right in the middle of your fenced pasture here in Williamsburg! What's that? You don't really care?! Oh, but you should.... what with all this history right around you. Oh! Right! You're most interested in the next meal or perhaps wondering when you will be sheared next... Yes, hope it IS before those 95 degree summer days! No, I really didn't call you over here. No, I really don't have anything special for you to eat. OK. I'll just be on my way!"

"But... before I go, could I just snap a picture of your handsome face... you see.. Carmi has a weekly themed project and this week it is "animals". Why would I want to include you? Well... er.... you see.... you ARE one!"

(end of post)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Two For The Price Of One

Black shutters pop on this colonial home...(Colonial Williamsburg)
(click pictures to enlarge)
"Without black, no color has any depth. But if you mix black with everything, suddenly there's shadow - no, not just shadow, but fullness. You've got to be willing to mix black into your palette if you want to create something that's real." ~ Amy Grant
I love how the texture of the wood shows up, even with the dark black paint. They took such care to build the shutters with the angled boards to make a pleasant design. I think this window is what inspired me to paint the shutters on my parent's house a similar black, before we put it on the market... it sold in less than two months!

Does he know how elegant he looks? I think so! (Muscovy duck) Posted by Picasa
"I fell in love with black; it contained all color. It wasn't a negation of color... Black is the most aristocratic color of all... You can be quiet, and it contains the whole thing." ~ Louise Nevelson
I put two totally different pictures in this post because I loved them both and since I've been late in getting these up, was afraid Anna's "black" project would be ending. This fellow thought he was the king of the lake as he strutted his black plumage around. Up close he proved the color black to be a compilation of all color as his feathers had a purple sheen in one light and a dark green in another and still a touch of blue as well. Again, the contrast of another bright color against the black, makes it all the more alluring and mysterious.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Beautiful Reserve

Dwarf beginnings. Posted by Picasa
"One of the most attractive things about the flowers is their beautiful reserve." ~ Henry David Thoreau
I am slowly trying to plant in the front flowerbeds; easy care flowers that will eventually provide color from the early spring well into the late fall. I found these dwarf lilies at the local garden center, not yet in bloom, so the spectacular colors were quite the surprise as they opened. And they are great subjects for the macro lens that Stephen gave me for my birthday. I love how stately lilies are, so regal and serene... of course the recent rain and residual droplets of water don't hurt either!

My first entry for a LensDay in ages... this week's subject is "flower".
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Standing Guard

Black pickets standing guard around a bit of history. Colonial Williamsburg. Posted by Picasa
"There is an undeniable virtue to a true black; allowing the brain to be mesmerized and pulling the pupils deep into that unfound but sensed abyss." ~ Jamie Lavin
This is the real thing... the old fashioned wrought iron fence...not aluminum but heavy iron. It's old... surrounding an historic home in Colonial Williamsburg. Perhaps it needs a new touch of paint.... see the tiny patch of color? Mauve or perhaps a touch of rust?

This week I have been converting a white enameled wrought iron twin sized bed into a black enameled wrought iron twin sized bed... you know, something that is a bit less "little girl". In two weeks, we will be loading all the furnishings we have obtained from Craig's list, the local thrift shop and various garage sales (and then completely refurbished with more elbow grease than money)... and be off for a fabulous and fun-filled sixteen or more hour drive to Mississippi. (OH JOY!) She will have her first apartment and begins her graduate work in meteorology at Mississippi State. (I just re-read this and did I get off topic or what?!!!)

The point I started to make was that I have a can of black enamel paint left and I could just squirt a bit on that patch and ... voilá.... it's fixed! Anyway, another example of the color "black" for Anna's current project.

(end of post)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hidden In Black

Yellow-green eyes hidden in a deep dark furry swirl of black.
"There's something about black. You feel hidden away in it." ~ Georgia O'Keeffe
This cat had a rough life before she met up with my cousin in Atlanta. Then her fortune changed. Kenny persuaded his brother Bob to take her and another orphan to his home in Indiana. It wasn't long before they realized that she was pregnant.... so now there are five. We must all have the cat gene in some form or other because these little gray and black waifs pulled Bob in with their antics and individual personalities. No more roaming or having to scrap for food for this girl....who ever said that black cats were unlucky?

We missed the ark and the carnival this week, but Anna is doing a "Project Black" and while we are again late in posting... better late than never!

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Growing Old

Clover: "Growing old is not for sissies!" Posted by Picasa
"Nothing's more playful than a young cat, nor more grave than an old one." ~ Thomas Fuller
It isn't easy getting old. Somehow I thought that Clover never would. After all, she will only be 15 this July and my Siamese have always lived long lives. Her sister Chloe is spry and feisty still. But somewhere between the moves and all the mayhem.... Clover suddenly got old. She lost weight and became extremely wobbly in her gait. The vet found calcification of a couple of her vertebrae but nothing else. So now she gets to stay in my room with a soft heating pad and access to her food all the time. She eats well, but doesn't gain weight. She doesn't jump up on the bed or anything else for that matter now and getting up from a nap or laying down for one is a very slow process. We both take glucosamine/chondroitin supplements and it doesn't seem to help either of us! Now her eyesight is going as well. She stays close to my leg as I move around the room and uses her whiskers to feel her way at times. She demands more, more often and delights in keeping me awake at night, then snuggling down to sleep with her stuffed dog as soon as I get up.

But Clover still purrs, in fact she purrs more now than she ever did as a younger cat. So as long as she purrs and eats and keeps demanding.... I'll keep giving in to her whims, keep getting her Fancy Feast in her favorite flavor and keep gazing into those deep blue marble eyes.

Clover will be a late comer over at Friday's Ark this week but she's old and slow so they'll forgive her. If she has any energy left she will head out to the Carnival of the Cats, hosted by Mind of Mog.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Boundaries in Blue

Down by the bay! Posted by Picasa
"We all like to congregate at boundary conditions. Where land meets water. Where earth meets air. Where bodies meet mind. Where space meets time. We like to be on one side, and look at the other." ~ Douglas Adams, "Mostly Harmless"
It was hot, but not too hot; certainly not like today, when you literally could fry an egg on the sidewalk! Perhaps not on the sidewalk, but definitely on the hood of a parked car. Yes, that hot! And it has been so for four days now. But on this day it was a perfect hot day, one with a breeze off the water, not too much, just enough to keep those of us who relish the low lawn chair in the shade, coolish! (Yes, I know coolish is not a word.) Anyway, the sea grasses swayed in the breeze and this had a most hypnotic effect.... the type that made any hope of movement almost impossible and kept your focus on the motion of the dark grass against the bright intense blue of the sky. All the cares of the world fell away and for a moment time stood still. Then with a click it was captured: the moment, the space, the feeling. And on these stifling hot, humid and hazy days, I can still "click" and again return to that moment, that space, that feeling.

Anna is ending her "Project Blue" tomorrow, so this will be the last "blue" entry here as well.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Cat Watching

Mr. Rhett... not so sure about this hammock.
(Click picture for larger view)
Posted by Picasa
"Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you." ~ Roald Dahl
Mr. Rhett wanted to go outside. He loves the hardwood floors, but he really wanted to go outside. So, Nyssa took him outside, to swing... with her in her brightly colored string hammock. He loved sniffing the air and looking at the trees and he kept one eye on the grass (tends to want to graze on it); but I am not so sure he knew what to make of the swinging. Here his eyes look a bit glazed over.... either he didn't care to see the ground moving beneath him or he was thinking about his friend Sophie (she asked about him the other day and it always puts him in this weird dream state).

It has been much too long since he visited aboard Friday's Ark or was able to attend the Carnival of the Cats. Rhett is hoping to do both this weekend. And he, along with his bright hammock are included in Anna's "Project Blue".

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Earth and Sky

"Hello, Mr. Bluebird... how do you do?"
"When God made the blue-bird He wished to propitiate both the sky and the earth, so He gave him the color of the one on his back and the hue of the other on his breast." ~ John Burroughs
This bluebird is part of a scientific study as noted by his banding. I saw him in a little park up in Williamsburg. We have bluebirds in Hampton Roads as well and mom wanted to put up a bluebird house at the new place. We have the pole just the right height and placed facing the correct direction..... there are woods close but not too close and a golf course nearby.

In February, three males showed up and checked it out. They went in and out and made a visit on two consecutive days. One put a bit of leaf inside.... I decided he must have been the real estate agent. Then they left. In April, they still had not returned and I noticed tiny chickadees going in and out of the box. I opened the box and they had filled it half way with a beautiful green moss nest, topped off with bits of down and clean lint from the dryer vent. I didn't have the heart to clean it out. Sure enough, they laid their eggs and successfully raised four babies (another post).

While the house was still inhabited by the chickadees... the bluebird showed up again and looked in.... I just shrugged my shoulders and said..."What can I say? You're late!" We cleaned the house after the baby chickadees left and now another bluebird has been visiting... Who knows if he will get his act together and let the female in on this prime property! We'll see!

Another entry for Anna's! There are some fabulous pictures being posted!

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Not So Bossy Blue

Bossy Blue Jay with a beautiful song!
(Click picture for larger view)
"The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing." ~ Eric Berne
The birds have been amazing this past winter and spring in our new place. I have my boyfriend cowbird following me around from room to room, finches, wrens, chickadees, robins, cardinals, towhee, woodpeckers of several varieties and of course the grackles, crows and red-shouldered black birds. We also have squirrels and a couple of raccoons that routinely empty the "squirrel proof" feeder near the preserve. The blue jay is a different story. They are shy around here, not coming out when other birds are around. Only rarely do I see one brave enough to check out the feeder system near the house. So this was a treat! And they have a lovely song!

Another entry for Anna's!

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Blue in Bloom

Misty blue pansies. (Norfolk Botanical Gardens) Posted by Picasa
(Click picture for larger view)
"The color blue is everlastingly appointed by the deity to be a source of delight." ~ John Ruskin
The heat has finally arrived with two consecutive days of 85 - 90 degree temperatures, so these lovely creatures are on their way out for the season. The pansies in all shades that stand up so well to the cold nor'easters of winter will faint under this sun. I enjoyed this group at the botanical gardens in March when my cousin and I took a rare afternoon off from the house renovation work. They filled one area of the bed with a sea of palest blue. When I sit quietly and gaze on this beauty, a feeling of calm and peace closes in.... I love that!

Anna at Anna Carson Photography has posted a new group project; this time the color is blue. I'm a little late as this is probably the second or third day but then, this seems to be norm for me lately.

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Friday, May 30, 2008


"What a beautiful sign!!!!"
"The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning." ~ Ivy Baker Priest
It is still hard to believe! In just 44 short days on the market... a contract! Then another very short 9 days... a closing! In between was much work and angst and a bit of sadness and nostalgia.... it is hard to live in a house for 21 years without the latter. And now... this house, this home will begin helping another family make memories!

"Good-bye!" Posted by Picasa
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Monday, May 12, 2008

William & Mary - Class of 2008

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known." ~ Author Unknown
No other words necessary.... I love you, Nyssa.... Graduate... Class of 2008!

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Monday, April 28, 2008

The Cowbird Dance

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
and never stops at all.
~ Emily Dickenson
We have a resident cowbird who perches on the birdfeeder just outside my mom's bay window. He sits here and stares at himself in the glass, sometimes for just a few minutes and at other times he stays for a half an hour. Occasionally, a female approaches, but he pays no attention! Is this narcissistic cowbird simply enamored with his reflection? Is he confused? Or does he see a rival?

He does this dance over and over. He looks this way and that and then begins to fluff up his feathers, thickening his neck and puffing out his chest... trying to make himself look as large and menacing as possible! Then he unfurls his wings, opens his beak and starts flapping his wings as he tilts forward and bows. A high pitched chirp pierces the air.... then the process begins again.

I think he is confused and thinks his rival is wanting to fight.... but they puff and bow and show off and no one ever makes a move on the other.... Isn't he gorgeous?

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Home Improvement (The New House)

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." ~ Oscar Wilde (Irish Poet, Novelist, Dramatist and Critic, 1854-1900)
Just a short post, mainly for my brother. While he was here the last of February he got the ball rolling on the guttering. It was a necessary and practical improvement as the water gushed down the gables near the foundation and we wanted to make sure it flowed away from the house. Of course the guttering "made out of that metal we shall not name because it is a hot item on the thieves list" was probably not necessary; but it is beautiful. We had many, many gawkers driving by and staring at the shiny, shiny, reddish brown metal. Now it has moderated a bit, darkened somewhat, lost some of the shine and is blending in with the color of the brick. The sponge material keeps the leaves and pine needles out and we no longer have dirt from the flower beds flowing across the front walkway. YEAH!!!!

So, here a a few pictures, after the final touches and after the beginning of the patina. It's lovely and it works!! Oh, yes... it means I can now get my handy dandy ladder out and start on a window washing spree... no more excess dripping and splashing on them now.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

What Came Next! or Welcome to the Stephen King Horror House!

This is my cousin David
"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one." ~ Jane Howard
David lives in Illinois, but he came to Dad's birthday party in February with his parents and our other Illinois aunt and uncle. Dad and David had talked about the work we needed to do on the old house to get it ready for sale and David was going to stay for a week after the party to help. He and his brother are VERY handy; they do renovations, build cabinets and furniture and David designs additions and draws the plans as well as the building. I was so thankful that he agreed to help.... I just don't know how to do carpentry.

Yes, it was that dusty!

We started on Monday, February 11th, after taking everyone to the airport. First we picked out some flooring for the entryway and the two bathrooms and the carpet and pad. The carpet people measured and things were in the works. David started on the garage with some repair of the ceiling and some carpentry framing around the pull down attic steps. Here he was sanding the ceiling before putting on the drywall skimming material. His work is amazing!

I started on the house..... first scraping up all the tile in the two bathrooms and then cutting the old carpet about six inches from the walls and pulling that up to get ready for the painters. I took down drapes and blinds and hardware and started spackling all the small holes in the walls. There was this horrible, tacky, eighties wallpaper on one wall of the entryway and we stripped that off. David put the drywall skimming material on the wall with a scrub brush to match the plaster pattern and it was phenomenal.... it really opened up the space. He patched a few cracks in the plaster that had been there for 23 years.... Dad just never got around to fixing them.

Then we started on the painting! We decided to paint everything in the garage the same color... the ceiling, walls, workbench and shelves. We had some white and antique white of varying kinds and we mixed them together. Of course the ceiling is the hardest thing to paint......ouch! I had almost as much paint on my shirt as I did on the ceiling! We ran out but fortunately we matched the swatch at Home Depot with the paint on my shirt and.... voila.... back in business. We painted and painted and painted and painted... for three days! That room was just drinking the paint up!

In the mean time, Dad had the hot tub repair guy come and he replaced the controls with new digital ones. Then it leaked and he replaced the jets.... now it is almost brand new! SO MUCH ON THIS TO DO LIST!!!! It seemed to start growing and growing and by the end of the week it was clear that we were not going to get done.......

So, David re-arranged his travel plans and decided to stay for another week; ten days actually... to get the work done and to see Stephen who was coming back from Europe again. You see, Stephen and David had started talking about an addition to the NEW house; a winter garden, sunroom of sorts with a deck, fire pit patio and landscaping. David took measurements and started the drawings and wanted to talk to Stephen again. ( I told you he was talented!)

We found a reasonable painter and they got started.... everything an antique white with bright white baseboard, window trim and doors. Semi-gloss in the bathrooms and kitchen and flat elsewhere. They even put a special anti-mold and fungus substance in the paint for the bathrooms to prevent any problems. The painters took three days to do the whole house! It started looking much better. While they were working there, David started trimming back the bushes and digging up and moving some shrubs. He and Dad worked on some flower bed drainage options. I started on the house cleaning... no, not inside.... outside.... in 45 degree weather. Yes, I got on my handy dandy super ladder and started washing the siding of the house with a long handled brush and hospital strength bleach and soap.... then pressure washing it off. I also pressure washed the brick.

Then the things started happening.... it seemed that as we finished two things on our list... four more would pop up! When I pressure washed the front... the shutters started to peel... so I spray painted the shutters black... it made the white pop! When the hot tub leaked, it left water stains in the wood decking that enclosed it... so I decided to stain it a dark mahogany color! The sunroom indoor/outdoor carpet had stains... so I washed it with my carpet cleaner.... but they finally required a spraying with full strength Clorox... that did the trick and didn't mottle up the color.... amazing! Then when the painters were finishing up... the Ponderosa wagon wheel lantern hang down light in the dining room and the upside down tulip stained glass and round ball light in the entryway looked worse and worse. So we took them down and let Stephen put up some inexpensive lights that were flush to the ceiling. MUCH BETTER!

Stephen returned... and David was going to leave but we still had sooooo much to do and Stephen was taking care of the guttering issue on the new house. So... he talked David into staying for still another week! (YEAH!!!) The floor guys came and we had to stop and pull the toilets... my first experience at plumbing... actually, they pulled them and we had to put them back. We started putting the drapes back up... and I cut a cord that shouldn't have been cut and the weather stripping stuck and the door wouldn't close and well.... a lot of little tiny things just kept popping up. We kept going... and going....

Then it was finally time for David to leave... Stephen and he left the same day. I dropped them at the airport and went to the old house to start painting the laundry room... I cried a lot that day. Then my cell phone rang! Stephen saw David get off his plane because of some maintenance technical problem... he had to get on his flight... David was trying to get another flight out... a snow storm was rapidly approaching his destination and...... it seemed that the "Stephen King House" did not want to let him go!!!!! He was supposed to leave at 11AM and finally got a flight out at 5PM. His connection was delayed and his ride from the airport to his house was at the beginning of the ice storm. David was here for three weeks and I, for one, is extremely thankful! I would be completely dead, instead of only half dead!

I painted the laundry room, the pantry and the laundry room cabinets after his departure, as well as the outside of the sunroom doors and a few places on the exterior window casings. I put the curtains and drapes back up and vacuumed the fuzzies off the new carpet.... four times! I started the touch up painting on baseboards and walls and finished up the pressure washing outside. The range in the kitchen was giving us trouble. Dad spent a full day changing out the sensor, but it would still cut itself off and blink and did so while cleaning and while baking. When he turned off the breakers to work on the stove he flipped the breaker to the energy saving electric contraption. You know... the one where certain times of day you can dry clothes and other times you can't. When he flipped it back on... there were blinking lights and error messages.. in other words... it fried itself. It cost $800 to fix and $150 to take out. We took it out. Of course, that left a big gaping hole in the already painted laundry room wall. So, Dad spent two days working on a patch and spackling and then I painted it; after I got some more paint to match what the painters had.

We had to get a new range. They no longer make "almond" color but with just a bit of white showing, the ceramic top looks great and works great. Dad got a good deal, but it had a small chip on the edge. No problem. I put several coats of enamel paint on the spot and you can't see it. Of course we had to take a little shelf down to get the stove in and that left another UNPAINTED area on the wall. And of course, I had no antique white Duron semi-gloss paint and the Duron store said they had two shades of antique white. I took the swatches and decided on the color. Dad went by to get it and I told them over the phone that I wanted the semi-gloss and which color but they tried to be helpful by checking with their other store. They said that our painters only got the "eggshell" finish and so they talked Dad into getting it. Unfortunately it did not work... you could see the difference across the room. I took it back, made them give me the paint I told them I wanted and it was perfect!

I started the final cleaning. Washed the windows, scrubbed the sinks and toilets, cleaned all the cabinets in bathrooms, kitchen and laundry, mopped floors and vacuumed carpets again. I didn't pressure wash the siding or ceiling on the front porch as I knew that it would likely blow the paint off... but I bleached it and rinsed carefully and it did well. I also started taking the non-essential things out to the new house.

Finally, the Monday after Easter, I was ready for my last BIG project.... what? You know my penchant for garages! David had mentioned that one of our other cousins had used this epoxy latex paint on his basement floor with fun speckles in it and it looked like linoleum. Of course, I couldn't resist The walls and benches looked so good and the floor had paint and oil and just gunky looking areas. So, I got a kit. It was a bit complicated... it had to have air temps of at least 65 and floor temps of 55 and you had to prepare the floor by cleaning and etching and then there couldn't be any dust and when you mixed the epoxy in you had to wait certain times for certain temps but you had a two hour time limit to get it all done! Whew! Of course we were in the time of year where it can be 75 degrees one day and 40 the next!

It was cold that Monday and not to hit 65 until Wednesday, so I scrubbed and cleaned it with a special de-greaser and rinsed it three times. After it dried, I etched it with a phosphoric acid concrete etcher and scrubbed and rinsed that out. It left a fine white powdery residue. On Tuesday morning I used the kit etcher which was a concentrated acetic aid (vinegar) form and rinsed again. There was still a white powder so before I left for the evening, I rinsed about three times.... left fans running and a small space heater to help with the temperature. I painted on Wednesday everything together, mixed the epoxy and after 30 minutes, edged and started the rolling. That was fun... roll a four foot square area and then take the sprinkles of black, brown, white and tan paint flecks and just .... toss them on the floor. At first I wasn't sure if it would cover the floor with one coat, but it did. Tossing those flakes is a riot... and they stick.... tight! It turned out really well. In fact, it turned out so well that a small place on the wall under the workbench stood out like a sore thumb. I had decided not to paint there as "no one can see it". The paint on the garage floor completely changed the look and it was obvious, so I went back and touched that up. It really is amazing and isn't supposed to bubble up when in contact with the hot car tires!

The house was ready for the second look by the realtor on Friday, March 28th. We had spent 57 days and approximately $10,000 in upgrades to the old house. In the realtor's opinion, the house looked totally different... and great! She recommended an asking price that was $50,000 above the "as is" price she suggested in December! It has been on the market just over two weeks and they have shown it over a dozen times with at least one party showing extreme interest! Three other houses in the same general area have sold in the last three months... all within 45 days of listing. So... we'll see. If you want to see some of the final results you can click on the slide show below... it's my first attempt at one! Just click on the pictures or the arrows. A few will zoom and a few have notes.

This was a long discourse.... this is why my posting has been so rare. I would sit here and try to think of the words and my arms and knees and hands would just say.... "go to bed!" But then... my brain had already "left the building". See.... I haven't been "just lazy"!!!

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