A Perfect Day

It’s just about 70 degrees here, the warmest day we’ve had since 2013, I think.  This is the day that we have been dreaming about while our lawns and gardens have been covered with six feet of snow.  It’s heavenly out there.  The sky was clear, earlier.  The birds have been making a racket and I saw a bee checking out a crocus.

I have been concerned about my iris.  This past winter was so very hard on them that they have practically jumped out of the ground, and need to be re-seated.  I began top-dressing them this afternoon with a mix of 70% top soil, and 30% mushroom compost.  It will rain this weekend and settle some of that in, and I’ll give it another  layer the next warm day to come along.

The squill are greening up at the base of the tree northwest of our kitchen.  I don’t think it will be long before we see their blue blooms.  I have early, mid- and late season daffodils, and all of them are up.  The early ones are close to bloom, but the weather is supposed to cool down during the next few days, so that may slow down the rush to bloom.  Soon, though.

I have tulip leaves coming up, but something out there (probably the bunnies) is snacking on the leaves.  I don’t know if we will see any blooms other than the Darwin hybrids which have bloomed like clockwork for just about 24 years.

I spent one break  today looking at the collection of seed packets I’ve been collecting in the mudroom.  I discovered that half of the packages were empty.  I’d kept the packages to have the name of the flowers, and where I’d purchased them.  I tossed a few packages which had been sold in years prior to 2010.  I segregated the seeds into flowers, herbs, wildflowers and food, and then made notes about where I wanted to plant them.  I have to wait about a month to put the seeds into the ground, but I’m ready as soon as things warm up.

There is something so satisfying about getting out and working in the early spring.  It does the soul good!

Catching up with friends

Hi, All!

We’re having a quiet morning, so I thought I’d do a little catch-up.  The tree you saw in the last post is gone.  The tree service was quick and professional.  They even raked up small bits of branches and “stuff” so that we have very little to do to clean the lawn.  They will be returning today to take down the remainder of the trunk, and two more trees which we feel  might be dangerous, should we have another big wind.

The restoration company is sending someone to look at the damage to determine the scope of work to be done.  We’ll see their representative tomorrow, and will do our best to light a fire under them to get the job done.  Dear Husband tells me that I can expect several days of repairs.  The damage is mostly located in one small area, so they won’t be able to put more than two or three men to work at one time.  I want it repaired before the spring rains come!

We have talked with another agent, and decided to sign a contract for their services to sell our house.  There are two of them, working as a team, and the older of the two has quite the success rate for sales in this area.  We asked a lot more questions this time, and think that they may be a good fit.  Once the repairs are done, they will come back to stage the house and take pictures.  This time the brochure for the prospective buyers will show the house with gardens in bloom, an improvement over the last which made the house look like it was in a desert.

My mind is focusing on more packing!  I go to sleep thinking about one more place we can clean out, or another way to make the rooms look their real size.  I think this will be the year we move.  I’m resigned to leaving my wonderful home, but eager to see what the future brings.  Wish us good luck!

Soon to be gone

Resized  Exterior 1

 

Resized Exterior 2 Resized Exterior 3 Resized Office branch

 

This branch in the office is the only place that was damaged on the first floor.  There are at least three more branches in the attic.

TResized shot from inside

This was no little tree.  The tree service is working on it now, so that we can get the roof covered.  What you can’t see is the star magnolia that has been obliterated by the tree.

 

Visitors

We have been in our home twenty-five years.  We spend a lot of time looking out the windows at the wildlife.  I knew there were two species out there that I hadn’t seen, but this was my year to see them!

We have been seeing robins through out the winter!  About fifteen years ago I attended an Empty Nester breakfast with my mother, (I know…that sounds odd.  :-)  She lived with us.)  There was a speaker following the breakfast, who talked about local birds, and she said that we have robins year round.  I’m sure I made a face when she said that, because I had NEVER seen a robin in the winter.  Well, the woman was right.  I have no idea what they are eating, bur we have seen robins all through the winter, despite the fact that it’s been one of the worst winters on record.  Mother and DH and I used to have a race to see who was the first to sight a robin in the spring,  Little did we know that our birding skills were sadly lacking.

The second species that I have finally seen is coyote.  I’ve heard them, and seen them a mile away.  I’ve heard neighbors talking about being afraid for their small children and dogs, but I’d never seen one on our land.  In the last six weeks I’ve seen at least three.  The first looked pretty bad.  It’s fur looked torn, and it was emaciated.  No doubt anything it was used to eating was hibernating, and feet of snow weren’t making things any easier.

I saw a second trotting through north of the house, on an east to west route.  It looked as though it planned to cut through all the back yards as it hunted.  The third was a healthy looking young adult, sitting at the base of a choke cherry shrub quietly watching for any bird activity at the feeder.  We had a freak day of rain, following six weeks of arctic freeze and about 60 inches of snow.  The coyote was sitting quietly in the downpour, hoping for a bit of breakfast.  When he saw me watching him, he moved off to the north.  This winter has been really tough for anything that doesn’t have shelter.

Robins and coyotes.  I wonder what else we will see before we move?

Tree hugger

I admit it for all to see:  I’m a tree hugger.

Twenty-five years ago we bought a wooded lot, to build our home.  It was filled with mature trees and rough areas where trees had fallen.  The only place to situate the house was in an area of very old pear and apple trees.  It nearly killed me to have to give them up.  I managed to save two of each kind, and two of the pears and an apple tree are still with us after all these years.

We left the rough areas as passage for wildlife (and barrier from our neighbors).  Woodpeckers, dozens of other birds, raccoons, deer, coyotes, skunks and the neighbor’s cats and dogs all find the area interesting.

It became apparent that we were going to have to take down pods of trees at two corners of the house.  The trees had reached old age and died off and there was no doubt that  they would land on the house one day, so we hired a tree service to bring them down.  It was fascinating to watch, but I was very sad to see them go.  The shade around the house had changed, and the view out the sky lights showed a lot more sky.  Still, my favorite tree of all, a HUGE evergreen, was still there.  We communed every morning through the skylight, as I dressed.

That is, until last Thursday.  We were eating a late dinner when we heard a terrible thump.  It had been raining all day, one of those freakish warm days following six weeks of arctic cold.  The rains had given over to very high gusts of wind when the house shook.   We both went to see if we could tell what had happened.

At first there didn’t seem to be anything wrong.  Whew…missed the bullet again.  Then, I walked into the office and discovered bits and pieces of drywall on the floor.  I looked up and saw a branch about 3″ wide jutting 15″ into the room right where the ceiling and the wall meet.  At that point, I could hear Dear Husband above me in the attic, counting holes in the roof.  At least four branches from the upper part of the tree pierced the roof.

We have been very lucky.  The rain had stopped, and the temperature had dropped again, so we didn’t have water pouring or dripping in the holes.  The heavy part of the tree didn’t hit the house.  We have a tree service coming today to cut back the tree so the damage can be assessed.  They will have to bring in a crane to support the trunk so that it won’t swing into the side of the house once the branches are cut off.  Luckily, we have insurance that will cover the tree removal.

So, we have at least four holes in the roof.  We’ll need new shingles, and plywood cladding and whatever else went into making our roof.  We’ll need a new stretch of gutter and soffit.  It’s possible that we might need some bricks replaced.  And, we will need drywall and paint in the office.

Oddly, all that isn’t bothering me terribly.  It can all be fixed.  But, my favorite tree is gone, and when it came down, it took out my second favorite tree, a beautiful mature star magnolia.  The view out my skylight, and the view out my office window are both terribly bare and I won’t get to see the magnolia bloom this spring after a winter of anticipation.

I’m  tree hugger.  These trees were my friends and I feel their loss.

Tidbits

We have a fourteen-foot stake-bed truck that we inherited when our company closed.  It has a snow plow,  which has been very necessary this year with a minimum of 14″ of snow in the past month.  Unfortunately, the plow wouldn’t lift.   My surgery got in the way, or we would have had it repaired early in the month.  I finally pushed DH into the work necessary to make it possible to drive to the repair shop.  They discovered it wasn’t the plow motor that was the problem, but a very expensive computer part in the truck.  <sigh>  We brought it home, and DH spent an afternoon moving snow.  When he came in he told me that we will need to make another appointment to have a brake line repaired.  It’s always something.  We have a drive that is more than 240 feet to the garage.  We can’t do without it.  The good thing is, when we sell the house, we will have a truck with a recently repaired snow plow to sell, too!  :-)

My great-great-grand nephew Henry, who is about seven months old, had open-heart surgery on Friday, and has come through it like a champ!  He was in pain last night, which upset the entire family, but the docs have worked out his pain meds, and he’s doing much better, today.

Today,  DH took me to see “Monuments Men,” which was a very interesting movie.  I didn’t realize that we were able to prevent the theft of so much artwork, and return a great deal of it to the previous owners.  My understanding is that there are still thousands of paintings lost, but many of them, including those by Picasso, were burned, and others were taken by the Russians, so we won’t ever have a clear picture of what might yet be found.

I am healing nicely from my hernia surgery.  I’m going to return to exercise on Monday, which will be just three weeks and two days after the surgery.  The doc said I could do the footwork of the cardio session, but nothing that might pull on my stitches.  I need to get back to exercise or I’ll be a puddle very shortly!

I need to think of something spectacular to do for DH for Valentine’s Day!  He has been an amazing nurse, and good companion, seeing me through the past three weeks.  He deserves special recognition.

And, I’m ready for Spring.  My mind is full of cold frames, and seeds and plant catalogs.  I don’t need another month of snow, thank you very much.  Everyone….THINK POSITIVE!

 

My Renaissance Man

Dear Husband saw an ad for a sale on some of the Great Courses and decided to buy several of them.  He has very eclectic tastes.  He chose a class on the Hubble telescope, one on Math, two on gardening, one on cooking and a lengthy series on the Dead Sea Scrolls.  This evening we watched the first  4 lectures on the Dead Sea Scrolls.  It’s fascinating, but I think I need to watch the lessons during the morning, or earlier in the evening.  By the time it gets close to bedtime, I find it more difficult to follow some of the points.

I think we may watch the cooking series together.  I find these classes are promoting some discussion between us.  Occasionally, it’s a simple matter of not having heard something, or of having heard it wrong, but more often it’s discussion of a concept that is new to one of us.  I learned a lot of baking technique in my 20s, and then set it aside when a doctor told me to stop baking to make it easier to loose weight.  I tend to be a cook who follows recipes, while DH is more likely to take ingredients that please him and put something together.  He makes something we call “slumgullion,”  (beef chop suey), that is different each time he makes it, and usually very tasty.  I wish he could recreate some of the versions, but he doesn’t work from a recipe, and he doesn’t take notes on what he’s doing.  This course may help us blend our talents.  I may become a free spirit in the kitchen, and DH may be encouraged to keep track of his inventions!

While DH is busy with courses that don’t interest me, I have several classes from Craftsey on how to machine quilt using a regular sewing machine.  I’ve finished one of the courses and started a second.  I plan to go back to the beginning of the second course and start over.  Too much time has passed since I first started it.

And, I have too many quilting projects underway.  I have two baby quilts to quilt for family members, and at least five large quilts cut out and calling to me to finish them.  It’s almost time for Scraps on a Mission to start, and I have two laps quilts underway for them.  I don’t have any difficulty at all finding ways to fill my time.  Don’t you feel sorry for people who are bored, or those who can’t find something that interests them?

Hibernating

Winter has been brutal in my neck of the woods, but not as brutal as places to the east of us.  We have been coping with horrible cold, and even worse wind chill.  Monday, when we had to go to the doctor’s office at 9:00 a.m., the weatherman hoped that we might hit a high of ZERO for the day.  There are two snow storms headed our way which might bring us six more inches of snow.

My youngest sister, Frankie, who lives in Indiana, has had her school closed a record TEN DAYS.  The school will have to go longer than the proposed school year to make up for the lost days. She posted a picture of a drift across their rural road in which a snow plow got stuck.  Another plow was called in to dig it out.

We are staying at home, burrowing in.  I finally tried my hand at sewing sashing on a quilt, and it seems that I can do simple straight sewing now.  Dear Husband is doing a couple of the Great Courses, one on cooking, and another on ten pictures from the Hubble telescope.   I have books, and books on disks to read, a Craftsey quilt class to finish, and I still need plenty of snooze time.  We’ll make a quick trip out on Thursday before the next round of snow comes.

I hope all our friends are safe, and finding ways to stay warm during this terrible weather.  Think “safety” if you must go out!

Heads up

I’m yet living, but I’ve had a little surgery.  In October I discovered that I had a hernia and made arrangements for surgery last week.  Doc found there were actually TWO hernias during the surgery.  I’m five days into an expected four week recuperation.  Dear Husband is taking exceptional care of me.  I still have some pain, and spend a good portion of the day snoozing.  Today was the first day I felt clear enough to post.

I’ll visit more as I feel better.

Friday

Things begin to pull together for the Christmas season on Friday.  I’ve been invited to sub for the leader of our exercise class on Friday.  She will be preparing her home for the class for our annual Christmas brunch.  We’ll exercise and then head directly to her home for a fabulous repast and conversation.

Saturday, I hope to get some baking done.  Sunday is the family party for my side of the family.  Either Saturday or Monday afternoon I’ll be caroling with some of the women from my exercise class.  There are six people we hope to visit, to bring a little cheer.

Christmas Eve I hope we’ll go to the 8:00 service at church and then on Christmas Day we will load all the presents I’ve been wrapping (in green paper with gold ribbons, Cop Car), and head north to spend the day with Dear Husband’s children and our grandchildren.

After Christmas, I hope to spend a couple of days with family teaching some of them how to make sugar crisp, the traditional family cookie.  It’s time to be sure that SOMEONE will carry on the recipe.

I’m looking forward to all of it.  This the season of joy!