Tuesday, December 31, 2013

sun return

The sun sneaked up today.

See how much grey there is? Only the horizon is cloudless.

Here is a shot from the door, with no screen in the way. (Not dedicated enough to go outdoors in my bathrobe at 18F.)

I just love the competition from the kitchen chandelier reflected in the glass.

The last sunrise of 2013.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

tree and ex-tree

Here is this year's tree:

It's not quite as tilted as it looks in the picture, but it didn't grow perfectly straight.

Here's where it came from:

The steps from the deck are now passable without snagging branches.

Here's a link to the before pictures:

Monday, December 23, 2013


Every year I am amazed by how much food our clients bring us. They sometimes bring other things, and not everyone brings something, but still!

This is my share, a tenth, of the things we were given that didn't have to be quickly eaten up (like fruit baskets and cupcakes.)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

new wood

Finally I found wood for sale. First time I've ever had anyone deliver it, and even stranger, sight unseen, which was nerve-wracking, but my schedule made it unavoidable. It's not bad wood, but it could use a few months more seasoning, which I don't have time for, since I'm saving the rest of last year's wood for a power outage, when I'll need the best hottest burning longest lasting wood I've got.

It fills half the porch, but it's not a terribly large porch.
And I've taken quite a bite out of it in only a week.

Still, it makes me happy to be able to toast myself gently in the evenings.

I'm sitting just out of frame beside that wood right now.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

future Christmas tree revisited

Remember this tree?

I blogged it last November.
(The link is acting weird in test.)
(Yay! Now that it's published it works for me.)

The tree has grown a lot.

I'm pretty sure it didn't reach the eaves last year.

I'm completely certain it wasn't this wide.

Something must be done. Does this look like a Christmas tree to you?

The fun part will be leaning over the deck railing with the long handled pruners trying to cut it at a length that's not too tall for my eight foot ceilings once it's firmly seated in a five-gallon bucket.

Then all the part that is trying to break through the stair railing can become door decoration and mantel trim, inauthentically mixed with pine cones.

I wonder if it will produce another leader, or if I will have to shape it into a point for next year. At the rate it grew this year, I could have a perpetual supply of Christmas trees.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

winter mugs

You get to vote.
[2013 is the first year in forty-two years of voting that I am living where there is no election all year. I've voted in some years where there was no primary because the only candidates were running unopposed, and I've voted in some elections where there was nothing on the ballot but school board candidates, but I've never spent a whole year not voting.]

I've chosen the mubs (yes, that seems to be the way I am compelled to spell mugs) to hang for the winter, the season when I heat cider in the microwave every day. I've tried several different arrangements. Let me know if you have a preference.




Sunday, November 3, 2013

more halloween

While I was out, the Halloween decorations improved.

The ghosts edited the warning sign:

And the cemetery grew a tree. A nice dead tree.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy Halloween

We're prepared at work, thanks to the ever-artistic S.

We have jack o'lanterns, too.

And ghosts:

Until I took these pictures I didn't realize the ghosts were there to enforce the "warning" notice.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

harvest moon

By the time I looked up and noticed the moon from the kitchen window, it had climbed well above the horizon. I took the camera outside to frustrate myself shooting it handheld at an eighth of a second, but the results weren't bad.

The view from just inside my back gate (the trees hid it completely from the deck.)

It's hard to tell the difference between the moon and the parking lot light below it here, so I zoomed in as far as the camera will go.

Pretty blurry, but it's clearly a moon.

Monday, October 14, 2013

growth against the odds

I bought this geranium early this summer with many buds on it. Then the squirrels or the birds pruned it severely. It has finally bloomed, now that I'm ready to bring it in.

It appears to have one more flower, or part of one, waiting to bloom.

Then there's the pepper plant, which has given me one (very tasty) pepper, back in August. Now, just in time for me to start worrying about frost, it has grown another one, which I hope will keep growing a bit longer. Only while taking the picture did I discover the second tiny one above it. If all those blooms set fruit I don't see how the plant can nourish them all to maturity in about three weeks. I suppose I'll be keeping a sheet by the back door to cover it with at night.

The bigger pepper is about two inches long, and the small one smaller than my thumbnail. Wish them luck.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

breaking the water record

I got about two hours of sleep last night. According to the weather report, it rained 6.91" yesterday, breaking the record for the month, but I got home from work yesterday to two and a half inches in my rain gauge from the past twenty-four hours, and this afternoon I found four and a half inches from another twenty-four hours. I went to bed just after nine and was about to turn the light out when I heard this trickling water noise from the kitchen. "Did I forget to close the window? Did Stony decide to pee indoors instead of out in the rain?" I got up to look, and found water pouring out of my sink onto the floor, and starting to meander down the hall, turning left into the bathroom instead of continuing straight into the bedroom. I've learned a lot about the directions my floors slope, not always what my eye tells me. I called the Metropolitan Sewer District, but they're closed at night and I couldn't tell from the message whether they were answering emergency calls or not, so I called 911. I told the dispatcher that this wasn't a life threatening situation yet, but that if the water kept coming and soaked into the electrical wiring running over the basement ceiling, it soon would be. They sent the fire department (who much prefer to prevent fires, I'm sure) who siphoned some water out of the sink to make room for a submersible pump which they attached to my garden hose. I meant to take its picture in place, but when I came home for lunch today I was all about cleaning the kitchen and forgot.)

While they were situating that, they found the water that was pouring down the basement steps and making a great deal more than the usual trickle under the basement door. "Whoa! Cap, look at this!" one of them shouted, and when I went out to look off the deck, the steps looked kind of like a fish ladder. 

They tried using the pump for that, but it couldn't handle a ten foot rise. Instead they built me this adorable little dam out of some of my firewood and their sand. Men of great ingenuity and capability.

(The hose came out the kitchen window and drained the sink into the driveway. Why the house isn't full of mosquitoes I'm not sure.)

I shall have to dig this out soon. It was nearly empty of leaves and debris when the rain started, and now there's actually gravel down there. 

I am exceedingly grateful it wasn't worse, although I'm worried about what family history may have gotten wet in the boxes the basement is full of, but it reinforces my regret that I'm having to live where it's so very very flat. (Not to mention where the storm sewers and the waste sewers are combined. I know in newer parts of the city they are not.)

Monday, September 30, 2013

preparing for winter

I spent nearly half an hour picking up pine cones out of the front yard. Then I mowed the grass the next day and was hitting cones every few feet. The leaves are still green on the deciduous trees, but the pine has decided it's time to fatten up the squirrels.

I sorted all these into "pretty" and "broken" and took about three gallons of "pretty" ones to someone at work to deliver to her son's preschool for crafts. I have nearly five gallons of broken ones in the basement waiting to become kindling in a month or so.

I've got plenty left to pick up. I've filled those two buckets again, and every time I walk through the front yard I pick up a few more.

In some ways cones are more trouble than leaves. Let's wait and see if I still think so at the end of October.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

the benefits of escape

Here's a follow up on my surprise marigolds. (another hitchhiker)

The one that stayed in its pot:

You can see that the two plants that escaped into the ground are having a much better summer:

Monday, September 2, 2013

cardinal vine

I finally caught the flowers open at a time when the light wasn't bad and I had time to take the camera out.  I can see this part of it from the kitchen window, though from a different angle.

I really enjoyed this plant when I first had some from a neighbor back in North Carolina in 1998.

It's taking advantage of the deck railing with very little encouragement. I sit out near it as much as I can.

And I think the compost pile is going to be full of seedlings next year. (Looking down at last year's compost from above.)

Monday, August 26, 2013

winter warmth

At last the weather and my chimney guy's schedule let the stove installation go forward.

First, he rebuilt the crumbling top of the chimney and replaced the cap.

You can see how much new mortar there is at the top. All that top row of bricks were pretty much just sitting there by virtue of gravity.

Then, when the masonry had cured, he came back and installed the chimney liner, and put the stove in place.

It looks at home now.

He had expected to have to come back later and insert the stove board under it, but the company shipped it faster than he expected. This somewhat makes up for their having quit making the one I chose from the catalog, which was darker with a faint hint of green to go with those glass tiles the former owners chose. It also had a random pattern of light gray, so ash spills would totally not show. But I'm not complaining because it's finally IN!

(Momentary photo-geeking: I've kept waiting and waiting to be at home when there was better light in the living room. It never happened. The automatic image stabilization on my camera is fantabulous because I shot these last three handheld at f2.7 at 1/20.)

Next step: acquire more wood.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

another hitchhiker

This marigold looks as though it came up in the flowerbed from last year.

Only there were no plants of any kind in that bed when I moved in last August. I'm pretty sure that plant hopped out of the pot next to it, which is one I brought from the old house that was rented. Three pots sprouted little marigold seedlings after I got them here. This one must have adventurously leaped for the ground, where it could grow bigger and more healthy than its sisters.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Instant ceiling fan!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

wild grapes in the city

I finally got around to mowing the back third of the lot for the first time since May (I drive on it to turn around and face the cars out the driveway so it doesn't grow very fast) and on the tree in the corner I found grapes.

It will be interesting to find out if there are any left by the time they're ripe or whether the wildlife eats them green and I don't get any.

Did you notice the spots of red to the left? When I first saw them, I thought it was spicebush, but they're growing on a vine.

I don't think I've ever seen such berries before, and I'm wondering if it was planted there by past humans or by the birds.