Monday, October 11, 2021

A tale of two kitties.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

A little ginger feral cat joined us at the Ridge. I named him Ranger to stay with the Texas theme. The two cats seemed to have an uneasy truce.
And then, shortly before my son moved away, Tumbleweed disappeared. Week after week we'd go up and call for her, hoping she'd reappear. Finally, we had to resign ourselves to the idea that she was no longer alive. I won't lie, I was heartbroken. She just had the biggest personality of any cat I'd ever known.
Ranger came around frequently but usually kept his distance. I would put food in the bowl in the shed and walk away leaving the door open. He'd skirt well around me and dart into the shed to eat. If I got too close, he'd bolt. I was glad to have him around, but he was definitely not a friendly cat. And I missed Tumbles.
And then she reappeared! Acting like she hadn't been gone on a three-month walkabout. And I don't know how they worked it out, but the relationship between the two had changed.
No more truce, it was full-on love.
Mostly on Ranger's part. He just can't get enough of Tumbleweed. He stays pressed to her side like they are conjoined twins.
And she seems to be okay with that. They eat together without argument.
There are times when she appears to be tolerating him.
But then she will lick his head. I have a theory - when she first appeared, my son said there was a tiny kitten with her. And she had clearly had been pregnant previously when we took her to be spayed, even though she was barely old enough to have had them. The little kitten that had been following her never came around again, and we figured it hadn't survived. But maybe it did. Maybe this is that kitten, now grown. Maybe Tumbleweed in Ranger's mother.
He meekly accepts it when she gets rough with him, 
and goes right back to cuddling up with her. Whether that's what she wants or not.
And clearly, she loves him back. So yeah, we have two cats now.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

A little art project.

Many months ago, a friend sent us some samples of wool from his angora goat, one unprocessed, one carded into mohair. I set them aside, feeling like there was an art project there, but I just wasn't sure what it would be.
In the meantime, the idea for a wall hanging had started to crystalize in my mind. I bought an oak-framed mirror at Goodwill for $4.99 and took the mirror out. (It's actually a nice beveled mirror, so I'll use it in the house.)
I had found a big piece of electrical wiring and peeled off the plastic to get to the cool thin copper strands inside. Then I ordered wool from places I'd been - Quebec, Iceland, Argentina, Ireland, Australia. All of it in undyed natural earth tones of sheep and alpacas.
Then I started building the loom. I made a template and then I hammered in little carpet tacks along the top and bottom of the back of the frame. (Incidentally, not my rug - it came with the rental. I'm more a neutrals person.)
I strung copper wires from one end to the other, then finished hammering the tacks down to hold the wires in place. I watched a YouTube video on making a loom from a picture frame with yarn, so this was a variant on that.
Then started weaving. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, so there was some trial and error as I figured out how to work with the various fibers.

The finished wall hanging, with the frame painted black. I tried to make the lines a little curved to mimic the granite we chose.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

You know you're old when you are excited about spending your birthday making a road trip to pick out granite.

Even though the housebuilding has been at a near-standstill as we wait for supplies, our builder wants us getting everything lined up and ready to go. Cabinets have been ordered, bamboo flooring is waiting for us to pick up, and we needed to make a decision about kitchen counter tops. I know granite is no longer "in" but you know what? I don't care. I love it. I have used it in both kitchen remodels and it is just indestructible. You can set a hot pan right on it without damaging it. You can even cut on it and only risk dulling your knife. So it was really just a matter of finding a granite we both liked and that would go with the cabinets we'd already ordered. We looked at a LOT of granite, at 8 different places. Some we went back to more than once, getting quotes on different styles. There are so many options. As with many things, probably too many options. Some we liked and then discovered they were just out of our budget.We even drove the two hours to a company's main warehouse, only to find there was only the owner there on Saturdays and so we couldn't have slabs moved to look at.  
As we kept looking, we altered what we were looking for from lighter to darker. We knew we wanted something with lots of variation, that would look good with cherry wood cabinets. We got a quote on one we both liked and made plans to go pick out the actual slab.
So yesterday, we went back to Baxter (home of the Upperman Bees), this time when we knew there would be someone to move slabs for us.
It's a two person job, and we were told to stand back behind the line. Temel, the owner of the company, drove that stone-lifting machine.
This is what we settled on. It's called Galaxus and is from Brazil.
And a close up, to see the color variation. I don't think I'll get tired of looking at that. We signed a contract and they are holding it until the kitchen is ready to have it installed. And at this point in my life, this felt like a pretty good a way to spend my birthday.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Our temporary digs.

When we decided to put our house on the market so we could build, our realtor warned us that rentals were in short supply and to line that up first. She wasn't kidding. Most places I enquired about wouldn't even respond. Others were such dives we had to pass them up. So when this little house showed up, I did a quick drive by and then my husband met the owners with a check for the first 9 months. It was built in 1940 and is in a quiet neighborhood that's a bit of a drive but not terrible.
There are mature dogwoods in the front and a cute firepit area out back with swings. (That's our cornhole board, which we have yet to use here.)
But it's a small house. 700 SF, to be exact. This is a realtor photo, with a wide angle lens that makes it look far more spacious than it is. It was furnished except for the bedrooms. But that cafe table and chairs took up half the small kitchen so we stuck them in the basement for the time being. Along with a television that didn't work. I also took down those dreadful curtains.
Turns out the old farmhouse didn't originally have an indoor bathroom and one was added later. To do that, they had to make the door to the smaller bedroom less that two feet wide. And that meant that the desk I planned to put in there so I could use it as my office would not fit through the door. So it's in the corner of our bedroom.
First, I have no idea what that weird protrusion is. But see that window?
This is what's on the other side of it. They just tiled right on over the window. I call this the midget tub. Just the other side of it is a tiny space for a stackable washer and dryer, which we weren't willing to invest in for such a short period of time. My husband has taken on laundromat duty until the new house is built and our washer and dryer are in storage along with much of our furniture.
There is another tiled-over window on the other side of this stove. There is virtually no counter space and I've also discovered that I hate over-the-stove microwaves. I don't like lifting hot things down from above my line of vision. The stove didn't work when we moved in and we discovered that not only was it not plugged in, there wasn't even a electric cord attached to it. Whoever remodeled made some hasty decisions.
But it's a fine place to stay for now, so I'm not really complaining. I would have loved to have seen it back when it was surrounded by farmland and still using the coal that would have gone down this chute into the basement. Turns out, it used to be owned by the couple across the street, Bud and Joanne. 
That's Bud, working in his garden. He's out there every day. Joanne seems to spend a lot of time on the riding lawnmower or walking around spraying weeds. They are both 90. I'm in awe.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

And then this happened.

Did you even know there was such a thing as grass fleas? I didn't. But now I do. The front beds at this rental house were pretty overgrown with all the rain we've gotten and so I waded in to get them back to semi-reasonable. In sandals and yoga pants. Big mistake. Those little freakers ate me alive and I din't know it until that night when suddenly my legs were on fire. Apparently they love tall vegetation and wet conditions. It's been more than a week now and I look about the same with barely any reduction in itching. And that is even after a cortisone shot and benedryl. The weeds can take over this house for all I care, I will NOT be doing more weeding.
Up at the Ridge, the footers got poured and then nothing this past week as our builder waits for supplies to be delivered. With disruptions to the supply chain just standard now, I think we will be doing a lot of waiting.
In the meantime, the big raccoon continues to sponge off us, coming by every night to eat the cat's food in the shed. Look at his footprint compared to the little kitty paw next to it.
He doesn't seem to bother the cats, so we tolerate him. Sometimes if it has been a couple of days and the food runs out, he gets angry and tosses things around in the shed. But otherwise, no real damage done. I enjoy checking the trail cam we have set up to see when he visits.
The trail cam also notes when we arrive, of course. I usually turn it off if we are there for a while, but first things first - there are cats demanding affection.
And then on Tuesday, there was this. Two people poking around near the shed and tiny house. Incidentally, the only way onto the property is through or around a padlocked gate with a 'no trespassing' sign on it. So this was no innocent "we just happened to be wandering by" event. 
One of the two stayed mostly off camera. And how they didn't notice the trail cam, which isn't hidden at all, I couldn't say. Too busy looking at everything else, I guess. I sent the photos to the Sheriff's department and then spoke with a deputy who said they'd do occasional drive-bys. But hell, in a place this small everybody is kin to everybody and these people could be family of the Sheriff for all we know. Whoever they are, they've figured out that we aren't there during the weekdays. I'm hoping once building gets going, the more constant presence will deter these folks. Because man, I don't want to end up in one of those redneck scenarios where I'm shooting a methhead who is trespassing.
Deep breath. And your moment of Zen with this little hummingbird who triggered the trailcam one evening.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Out and about in Appalachia.

Saturday we had a morning appointment to look at kitchen cabinets, but by 9 or so, we had a whole empty day ahead of us. After a quick check at the Ridge (which has come to a standstill with the rain), we decided to do a little exploring in the area. We first drove over to Lake Norris, to see if any of the marinas had restaurants. At one place, the guy in the little store recommended Jimmy's Place but could not remember where that was. We drove around the shoreline until we finally saw a sign, and found this little floating restaurant, where we sat outside in the shade and had a beer and some fried catfish.

After lunch we kept driving, all the way up to a little town called Sneedville, near the Kentucky border. It's such a contrast of stunning natural beauty and deep, deep poverty.

As we were winding our way toward home, we passed a small sign that said "Elrod Falls." This called for a U-turn. The signs lead us down a tiny backroad. When we got to the little park, there were a handful of people there by a creek. But no actual falls in sight. Then we saw some kids walking up a little path and decided to check that out. 

The falls were as pretty as anything in The Smokies, and there were less than a dozen people there, hanging out on the rocks and watching a kid swim in the pool at the base of the falls. And then a woman asked us if we'd been up to the falls above. What? So off we went.

It was steep and slippery on the climb up. But it was so beautiful and we were the only two there.
Well, the only two not counting this water snake, sunning himself on a rock and watching the waterfall.

The climb down was even more treacherous, and as you can see I did not have the appropriate shoes. We read later that there is a third waterfall higher up, and I'd like to go back to see that. In hiking boots this time. All in all, a pretty great day and the detours were well worth it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Computer issues.

I'm having to take my over-heating computer into the Apple store, so I've been using it sparingly. Just a couple of quick things from recently.

One was a trip up to Louisville to visit my older son. He is extremely private so no photos. He is now with an optometry group and wanted to show us around the office. As we left, the office manager called to him, "Bye Doctor!" He seemed confidant in his new role. His girlfriend, also an optometrist, joined us for dinner and then we went to their apartment to meet their dog, a sweet furry Old English Sheepdog/Poodle mix. It's really nice having them just 250 miles away and I am already planning our next visit. While we were in town we also met up with my sister-in-law for lunch. She is a sweetheart who was a rock thorugh my cancer and I treasure that relationship.

The next morning on our way home we stopped in Lexington to visit my Dad's grave and do our traditional bourbon toast, pouring one on his grave. It's really a beautiful, peaceful cemetery.

The family has a long history in Lexington so there are relatives buried there from a couple hundred years ago, including government figures like former Vice President Breckinridge. And loads of family whose gravestones bear military insignia. I know my father would love being here.

This past weekend more of my in-laws (sister, brother, his wife and the kids) rented a cabin in the Smokies and we went down for the day.  It was nice hanging out on the deck and catching up in our first visit since the pandemic started. As we drove home that night, I texted my younger son to see how he was doing with the heatwave in Portland. When he moved to work with the tree service company his dream was to make it his career and become a climber. He started as ground crew but has advanced to climbing and told me in our last phone call that he loved it. He texted me back that evening to say he had foremanned his first job on Friday. I don't know what it was about that, but an unescapable truth just walloped me as we drove - my baby boys are well and truly men now. The fact that they have both landed in good spots in their lives brings me so much peace.