Thursday, February 28, 2013

You Think You've Got Troubles. . .

Fabulous metal sculture in Spokane, WA

I don't know where he went.  He was definitely at the end of his road.  You can see that.  I suppose the rider of this contraption just evaporated into hopelessness.

If you've been on a long bike ride, you may have had moments when your bike felt like this--weighing two tons, melting front tire and wheel, a tractor seat and a locked up chain. Despair is written all over this poor bicycle.  Recording those emotions was the most unusual of Things I get to do today that time I was in Spokane.  My cousin, Harold, was with me.  He hopped on the bike for a quick ride.  Turns out it is heavier than it looks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rock and Roll

Nice skylight--impossible place
for a ladder.  Bed's too heavy to move.

If you're on a ladder, you don't want to boogie. Or tango. Or waltz.  At least I don't.  Paint brush or roller and bucket in hand make wild partners for a dance several feet off the ground.  Stable is what I'm looking for when I'm painting over my head.

This worked OK as long as I was VERY
careful.  A 4x4' piece of plywood would
have been much more stable.

Question:  How do I paint the skylight hole without pitching to and fro with my paint and roller and making a dangerous and horrible mess? The answer finally popped into the Things I get to do today after two weeks of mulling it about.  See photo for the solution.

I survived, and the job is done with a minimum of newly invented dance steps.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Real Mouthful!

Radius toothbrush.
Unfortunately no one is paying my to tell you this.  

It was in my mouth.  It felt like a baby's hair brush, but with shorter bristles.   Brushing my teeth a couple of times is part of the less exciting Things I get to do today. And this really is a toothbrush.

Load this baby up with a bit of toothpaste and you can have a scrubbin' good time with froth, bubbles and toothpaste all over, but your teeth and gums and tongue will be sparkling clean while protecting those surfaces from damage by a regular toothbrush, all the while sparing you the grim reality of photos of me with this in my mouth, and that's truly a mouthful!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Harmony House

You don't see it everyday.  Bet most of you have never seen it.  I'm talking about a house in a regular neighborhood that has its own name.  Pretty letters next to the front door said, "Harmony House."

What if every household had a tradition of giving itself a name?  What sort of names would you see by the front door?  "Lakers Fans."   "Restaurant Owners."  "Renters."   "Gardeners."  "Crabby Ninnies." "Peace Makers." "Too Busy to Pay Attention."  "Space of Love."

What would the name of your house be?  I'm still thinking about it, mixing it into the Things I get to do today.  If I could name every house in the country with only one name,  "Harmony House" would serve very well.  Make it so.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Color of Thank You

It's late.  Over a month of blessings have slipped by.  The first of January would have been the perfect time to begin.  It didn't find its way into the Things I get to do today until this day.  But I'll make it up.

Post-it flags

I know one thing.  Whatever one focuses on will continue, will expand, will grow.  A friend recently shared the idea of daily writing down one thing that was a blessing, that she was grateful for, that was somehow special or miraculous.  She put the little slips of paper into a container.  At the end of the year she would take time to read through the tremendous wave of good fortune that had swept through her life in the last year.

The beginning of my gratitude bowl.
 Whatever one looks for,  one WILL find.
 Look only for the best!

So today I began, at last, to multiply my blessings, my abundance by writing down at least one thing each day that touched or thrilled me.  Pretty little post-it type flags can be written on, folded and sealed. Their color alone contributes to the beauty of this ritual.  Thank you is a lovely color.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Just For You!

Freshly scratched earth.  Moved all the "weeds" to the hen yard.

I did it for you.  We've had a spot of sun today. I grabbed it and ran outside to scratch in the earth, move a few mislocated plants into the hen yard for the girls to eat, and tend the chicken house.

Not bragging here over the good fortune of our good weather. I've been reading your posts of the increasing intensity of yearning for spring, for dirt, for seeds and sprouts, for the warmth of the sun. And I know that many of you are sitting out your umpteenth snow storm while your hands clench the seed catalog and a hot drink.

That's why I rushed outside.  It was the most important of Things I get to do today:  to use the little window of dry sun to honor all your longings.  Is it not easier to bear a thing if you know the situation is not universal, if you know that someone, somewhere is holding the light, the hope, the vision so that you can yourself break through once more into your bliss?  The snow will melt.  The sun will shine.  The earth will warm.  Seeds will sprout.  All is well.  I did this for you.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Worth More Than 30 Cents

He needed 30 cents more.  His slow and careful arranging of words verified that he was not a student at the local university as he had claimed a minute earlier, asking for a student discount at the craft store counter and pointing to his university sweatshirt.  The bill was $6.30.  He had six dollars even. I handed him a dollar bill and told the cashier to give the change to the fellow.  He left, shuffling out with his little bag of purchases.

"Do you have a coupon?" my clerk asked.  Replacing the cord in the mini blinds had brought me into this particular craft/fabric store as an essential part of the Things I get to do today--can't replace the cord without new cord.  I knew nothing of their coupons.

"No, not unless you pretend I do," I said.

A nearby employee spoke loudly across the way to the clerk involved who was now helping me, "I want you to know he comes in here and does that all the time."

Coupon was worth $13.00
"------- Fabrics will not fall on hard times from the compassion shown to one man who is playing with all he has. And he will not get rich from his attempt to save a few pennies," I heard myself say. My clerk smiled. I swiped my card and she handed me my receipt. The total was about half of what I mentally figured was owed for the 45 yards of cord for my blinds.

"I owe you a lot more than this," I said.

"The coupon," she said.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How Knitting Gets Done

The girls sent out the alarm.  Four hens transfixed, all facing the same direction, cackling in a nervous undertone made me stop mid-chores to look around.  A plump rat lay creamy-bellied up a yard or so away from the chickens.  In broad daylight rats do not sleep in the open on their backs. Dead was what it was. So I scooped the rat into my pail--for less than a second!  With its last ounce of life, it shot back out. A big shovel in hand to scoop up the rat showed how serious I was as I pitched the thing over the hedge.*

Progress in silver sparkles
Then I noticed that what felt like a scratch from the rapid bucket exit was bleeding--a bite--by a sick rat.     My last tetanus shot was 1997. The emergency waiting room is a great place to knit. Got in three rows waiting for the nurse. Knit another four or five while waiting for the doctor. The admissions person allowed me to knit the whole time we were filling in the blanks for the hospital records. I put the knitting away for my drive home. There were several other fun items in my plans for Things I get to do today that were set aside while I had the pleasure of watching this lovely scarf grow.  Sometimes that is just how the knitting gets done.

*The critter was retrieved and bagged for possible inspection by our county vector control office.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

With the Right Tools

Tools needed to change cord in mini blind

I checked on line.  Oh, Fount of All Knowledge, guide me. For some of the Things I get to do today, I like FAST. How do you change the draw cords on mini blinds? Usually there are a few quick tips that can save hours of frustration. I knew how I wanted to do it. What I was really after were the quickies. Three or four sites all said the same things. The videos had guys doing the job.  One source said allow one hour for the first blind and forty-five minutes for each one after with lots of threading this through that and taking things apart. At that rate it would save me money to go buy new blinds. So I headed out on my own.

Pull the knotted end of the old cord out the hole
where you see the little white tail.

It is pretty logical in the mind of Handy Andy that if one starts on the bottom slat of the blind, cuts off the knots on each cord, attaches the new cords, then pulls on the old cord, the new cord will easily and automatically thread through.  Done.  So that's what I did. All three blinds in the recently painted office space now have clean, white cords--all three done in less than forty-five minutes--about 12 minutes each.

Faster to loop the cord you are
ready to cut.
Cut the cord and immediately
flame-seal both end
Here are a few tips to make it go more smoothly:  1)  Release the cord so that blind hangs down about 6 inches.
 2) Take the blind down and work on a comfortable surface.

3) Pull the knotted end out through the bottom slat.  4)  Cut off the knot and flame-seal the end.  Caution--melted nylon on your skin hurts like the dickens, so let it cool a second before touching it.
Loosely sew the ends together.  When pulled tight
the cut ends lined up and butted together making
a smooth transition
  5) Use a needle and thread to attach your new cord loosely to the old cord.  6)  Pull it through.  7)  Cut to length matching the old cord.  Knot the new cord at the end that will once again pull up into the bottom slate.  8)  Wait to knot the pulling end with its bobble until you have the blind up back up, then even the cords, put on the bobble and knot the cord.  Done.

Vile is not a word I use often, but it best describes the
old cords.  Pulling the blinds up and down for 20 years
imbeds them with aluminum as they travel through the
housing--can't be washed out.
Takes longer to write the blog than to do the project.

I figure what took the guys so long is that they didn't consider a needle and thread to be tools they could use. Their suggests for attaching the new to the old cord created such a fat wad that it could not be pulled all the way through--hence all the extra time and tools.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pineapple Progress

Three in this pot

They hit the dirt about two weeks ago.

Two here--a tiny one at 12 o'clock

Their tiny root feet have been wiggling their toes in soil for that long.  And even though the "strides" are proportionately small, the baby pineapples are making progress.

The biggest one of the bunch at a whopping 1/4" tall.

As a faithful gardener the Things I get to do today will certainly be to chuck all seven of them under their little chins and say, "Good job, little planties!"

Had a quick visit with the Pineapple Devas--they are tickled pink over this experiment.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Even Birds Do It

Anonymous tango drummer

They were hot--all three of them.

Diego, down under, moving to impress this hot chick

It was some kind of Flicker foreplay:  a male on the chimney cap pulsing out enticing rhythms, a female and another male in a no-touch tango with quick, sensuous dips and sways entwined with brief, very still, pauses.

Hey, Big Guy, come closer!

Flirting feathers

Heads turned and bobbed to the beat, tail feathers, normally gathered to a point, were spread  into an alluring fan. My rooftop was the dance floor.

But then suddenly Diego flew away, followed by the hot chick and finally, the drummer on the chimney who never told me his name.  Wow, what a show right in broad daylight at nine in the morning and Things I get to do today included having a front row seat--my rooftop, after all.

Only a hundred feet up the street two Varied Thrush flirted from tree to tree. I normally see Varied Thrush as ground feeders and only when the temperatures are below freezing during the day.   Something must be in the air.

Moments later two Song Sparrows zipped by in close formation, then into a leafless tree and down to the ground.  Something was on their mind besides seeds and bugs.  Timing is everything, I'm told.  I had lengthened my morning walk by an extra couple of blocks and arrived home to see the glorious meaning of spring.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Harmony in the Family Tree

Handy Andy, Bertha, my mother's mother, and my sister
in the top row. On the right side of the grouping is my
family with my parents on the bottom right.  Left side is
my husband's family--his parents on the bottom left.
The walls were stripped.  Only the surface becoming "Pale Honey" remained.  When one paints walls, everything has to come down.  The painting project from before Christmas made sure of that.

We've had a mismatched collection of family photos in our hall way for 20 years.  As a few precious ones were discovered or handed down, they've been added to the family tree over the years.  Not all the photos belonged, were significant or contributed to the grouping.

So with them off the wall and on a shelf that would soon be filled with books for my hubby's retirement office, Things I get to do today had better get crackin'.  Handy Andy and Martha Stewart are not the same person, but at least I took a good look at who was in the pile of photos, selecting the ones that belonged, took all the pictures and frames apart, cleaned the glass and spray painted most of the frames silver to coordinate to improve family harmony.  Folks seem to be getting along just fine.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine Goats

Surge of love coming on!

Actions speak louder then words.  

Will you be mine?

U R so Sweet!

When you feel the love, it just shows.  

Happy Valentine's Day from my neighbor's farm animals.

What am I missing?

Plenty of love for all.

Have your little pink-heart fun, guys.  I'll keep the watch.
And Happy Valentine's Day from the heart of all Things I get to do today to your heart, Dear One.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lemon Zesting

Looks like lemon zest curls to me.

Lemon is the cook's secret weapon.  I read that in the Oregonian food section just this morning. If something is on the bland side, add a bit of lemon to The Things I get to do today to perk it right up.

Lemon and blackberry

And so here you have Nature, on one of those frequent, grey, uniformly bland days saying, "Let's do what the cooks do and add a zest of Lemon."

Rich center in wine

Walking through the neighborhood to get a few more steps in the fitness counter, I ran smack dab into a whole bush of lemon zest. I know, I know. It is really Witch Hazel. But for this dull day, it's Nature's zest.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dust vs. Snow

There's been lots of it lately.  If you live in the Northeast, you've had snow beyond measure.  If you live in my house, it's dust I'm talking about.

And though shoveling is hard, hard work, and you can't wait until Spring to get groceries, if you leave it long enough, the snow will take care of itself.  It will melt and go away.

Non-melting dust from my guest room floor

Not so with dust.  My experiment mixed in with other Things I get to do today has just confirmed it. Dust does not melt. Dust does not go away. Dust on the guest room floor will continue to accumulate over time until it becomes a health hazard from tripping over the dust bison.  Just saying for all you who were contemplating the same experiment, forget it!  Get the dust mop and clean it up!  Now!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Slug Hunter in My Bedroom!

Oops!  Cut it before taking its sad picture

I stopped dead in my tracks.  Dracaenas are erect-growing, sturdy plants. They do not, under healthy conditions, hang their bushy, green heads like a goose going after a slug. The dracaena in our bedroom was doing that--hanging its head but not really looking for slugs. If it was, I hope it didn't find any!

Dry or rotten--which is it?

Closer inspection revealed that there was a dry or rotten spot near the top of the stalk, just under the bushy head. My garden clippers made short work of the whole sprout. Not taking any chances on it finding slugs. Then I contemplated. The head seemed vital enough. The stalk looked healthy. Would they each take on a life of their own if given a chance?
Bushy Green getting a chance to root


                        So here is one more Handy Andy plant Things-I-get-to-do-today experiment for you to keep track off.  All the dead and near-dead foliage and stem were removed from the bushy head.  It was plunked into water. The stalk was also trimmed up clean and put in water. Now we will wait.  And I just checked--no slugs in the bedroom.
Stalk getting a chance to root

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Water Resolutions

Water filter after a year's use.  Started out white

We are past New Year's Day.  I'm a bit late. Finally made room in the Things I get to do today for changing the water filter at the kitchen sink.

Bins out.  Grit and dirt and water filter under the disposal.

Perhaps it's a month or so late because there is a sequence of events attached to the process. The filter is under the kitchen sink along with the usual and unusual other things: Recycling, garbage, compost, sink/dish cleaning materials and bin for spent egg shells.  We just keep cycling those shells through the chickens to keep more eggs coming: like returning your empty pop bottles and cans to have them come back full in a day or two.

Tool tray:  one more place to clean
Pulled out the bins.  Discovered the debris that had missed the bins in the last six or eight months. Changed out the old water filter which was the color Caramel Cream and way too rich for the color of water.  

Observed the filth in the tool tray on the front of the sink.  A bit of serious scrubbing changed its personality. 
Looking much better

 Wiped everything down.  Flushed the water filter.  Made a note on the calendar for the first week of January 2014 and resolved to change the filter before it starts to look like Weak Tea.  
All tidied up.  Happier kitchen.  Happier cook.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Second Time Around

All painted in Caramel Cream

Do you know the difference between Caramel Cream and Weak Tea?  Well, I thought Caramel Cream was the right color. Turns out it's way too rich. What this household needs is a dose of Weak Tea.

Weak Tea on the left--Caramel Cream on the right
natural lighting
That guest room/office space I've been working on has been wrapped up, a week ago, actually, but not without some effort.  Rolling a ceiling isn't fun, and since Things I get to do today are only those things I love to do, it took considerable self-talk about the lovely creamy finished product to get me through.  How-to videos  showed me the way to roll paint on a ceiling to prevent having stripes when it's dry.  Too bad I didn't take the time to gather that information before I put on the first coat.  I think it's called live and learn--the second coat went on beautifully.  The secret:  really load on the paint.  Don't ever let it get thin.  Saves time and paint in the end.
Paint chip

But back to the color.  My husband's first response to the nearly completed paint job was: It's too dark and it's pink!  It's time to get his eyes checked for color blindness, seriously.  In fairness, however, it was a bit darker than expected.  The walls play against each other, intensifying the color. From the chip on the right, Caramel Cream is the top one;  Weak Tea at the bottom.  We're both so glad for the second time around.
Weak tea--artificial light

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Growing Up

All the branches looked like these furry interior ones
16 months ago when it was planted.

It couldn't be a pine tree.  I've lived amongst pine trees.  They have clusters of needles, two, three, four, five, etc.  This little Italian Stone Pine about to be planted in my front yard had needles all around the branches. It looked more like a fir or even maybe a blue spruce.

She is about three feet tall.

But the label on the trunk said it was a pine.  At some point Things I get to do today include understanding that tiny conifers like this start out with needles all over their branches.  It takes a couple of years before the needles differentiate into distinct numbers and clusters.

This year's new growth is not shy.  This will be a strong tree!

This lovely tree is no longer a baby.  It has sprouted out its grown-up needle clumps and is ready to shoot out significant growth for this coming year.  Years from now it will have pine nuts and be a charming umbrella over that corner of the yard.  Life is about developing patience with pineapple and pine trees.