Well, blow the man down……

Yousers! The wind outside has been tremendously noisy yesterday and thus far today! The trees are swaying and there are big branches everywhere! I guess this is one way to prune back trees!

I got up this morning much later than usual. I was awakened at 3:30 by a young person who was concerned I should load the woodstove so we wouldn’t freeze! I wasn’t very excited about crawling out of bed to do this task, but I did it anyway.  It was still warm in the house, so it wasn’t vital, but it was nice to have the house still warm when I got up this morning. The outside temperature said -13 on WeatherBug, but our thermometer on the front porch was reading closer to -16.  With the wind so brutally blowing,  the wind chill is crazy low!

We still had the Christmas tree up and so one of the first things I did was disrobe it after I bumped it and thousands needles fell like rain to the floor! That tree has been up for over a month, so it really was time to take it down!  The house looks strangely empty now and as I look around, I would love to paint the living room and maybe even more.  I am thinking I am kind of tired of buttery yellow walls!

The little birds outside are visiting the feeders so much, I have to keep refilling them.  It is rather incredible that their tiny bodies can endure this wicked weather.  Somehow, they just fluff up their feathers and keep on going. Amazing little animals! The good news is that the sun appears to be making an appearance today and perhaps things might “feel” a bit warmer. The wind is supposed to subside somewhat as the day progresses and that will be good.  We have not gotten any new snow throughout this event and I heard that some areas were getting blizzard conditions.  We hardly have any snow left from last week and by the end of this week, the weather is forecast to be well above freezing once again.  This is such strange weather!

I took this photo of Murphy before Christmas and it is really a test to see if I can post pictures again. The verdict is, yes!  Looks like Word Press is cooperating once again! Hurrah!

We are supposed to go to our friends’ house tonight for music. We have missed the past couple of weeks because of the holidays, then Carolyn’s mom fell and was hospitalized for a few days. It will be nice to be getting back into the swing of things once again.  Mark just loves playing music and I think he has missed it.

One more aside….When I plowed the neighbors’ driveway, I did it as a “neighborly” thing to do. We had seen the people over there with shovels and Mark and I thought we should help out. Well, on Sunday, the fellow came over and paid us. I felt terrible but he insisted.  Anyway, I found out that the fellow who owns the house is a Buffalo Sabres fan!  Wow!!! I am hoping he and Mark can get together sometime and talk hockey!  How cool would that be?  When I spoke to the man who bought the house last summer, he told me he worked for Bauer..the company that sells sporting equipment.  How awesome it would be if he and Mark can talk serious hockey!!!


Ah yes….

I have not been here for a few days….life is busy!  It seems there is always so much work to be done in the autumn….rushing about like the busy little squirrels in the tree….trying to get everything in order before the first snowfall!

The pool is secure and has been for awhile. The camper is winterized and perched in its winter home. Those are two major concerns as we have actually done winterizing in cold rain and even (yes, hard to believe!) snow!  The endless leaves have been dealt with as well, properly taken away and the remaining, mulched.


Oh, that big but!!!! We have talked for years about raising the grade on the west side of the house.  The garage sits fourteen feet away from the house. The little amount of yard between the two buildings is quite low.  To remedy this, Mark has talked about raising the grade about a foot on the house. There is plenty of room to do this, but the work involved always seemed a bit daunting.

Last week, Michelle began digging down along the grade board on the house.  She excavated to expose the board so we could tear it off the house and then raise it up.  In the process, she found the moisture barrier used to keep the foundation from rotting. (When we built this house, Mark built a wood foundation, using specially treated plywood. As we dug down, it was incredible to discover that after twenty-one years, the wood looks in mint condition!)

Yesterday, the kids worked on putting in a new grade board.  This is one of the ugliest renovations that can be done, as it involves dirt and lots of grunt work.  No one that hasn’t observed the process would be the least bit impressed, but it will result in a much better grade between the two buildings.  Instead of a big “dip” in between, the ground will seem much more level.

During this process, we have continued to go to the home of our friends, Bill and Carolyn, every Tuesday evening. What a fun time this is…Bill (a most talented and awesome cook) makes a meal and then Mark, Carolyn, and Sue practice music. There are usually several other people who come as well, so we sit and chat as the musicians do their thing.

It was at Bill and Carolyn’s home that we met up with their neighbors as well.  The neighbors actually live a few miles away, but Bill works for them and oh, what a treat it was to see Mike’s woodshop last Tuesday before we went to Bill and Carolyn’s!  Bill had told us about Mike’s “barn” before and when we talked to Mike about it, both he and his wife, Stephanie, invited us to come for a visit!

We left home a couple of hours earlier than usual on Tuesday and arrived at the barn. My heart sank when Stephanie was gone….she had to take her mom to Canandaigua to the doctor, as she was having some pain in her shoulder and arm.  She has had some heart problems in the past, and Stephanie felt she should make sure her mom was okay.

We went inside the barn and I only wish I could send the scent of freshly worked wood through the computer!

Let me back up some…Mike worked with computers for years and years before retiring. He and Stephanie, along with Stephanie’s parents lived in Chicago. They found a piece of property for sale in Prattsburgh and bought it.  It had a small modular home on it, along with 110 mostly wooded acres of land. They would come and visit the property and stay a bit before heading back to Chicago.

Mike has loved timberframe building since he was a young man. And so, after buying the property, he had a vision to build a timberframe barn. Oh, but this is no ordinary barn! This barn has been a work in progress for the past ten years! This barn has radiant heat in the floor and is quite a work of art! I took a few photos inside, so come have a stroll.  You won’t see any nail heads, but you will see wooden pegs throughout, used to hold members together!


I  didn’t photograph it, but Stephanie set a lovely table for us and had a carafe of coffee and brownies!

We visited with Mike and Mark and I were both so impressed! What a wonderful barn!!! Stephanie told us she would love to move out to that barn, but Mike’s next project involves a house. A timberframe house!

Loving the harvest!

Yesterday, Mark and I worked on processing some firewood. I am not sure, but I think we split and I stacked at least five facecords of firewood. There is little wood left to process and the woodshed is going to be a bit more full than usual.  This is such a good feeling!

After working with firewood for a few hours, I was so famished!!! I hurried into the house and made a pizza crust.  I worked a little longer and put the pizza together and in the oven. After eating,  I felt like I could barely move!  It was not from overeating, but my whole body felt like the Tin Man on the Wizard of Oz!  I was so stiff. And sore! I rested for awhile as I also had a terrible headache.  After getting up, I felt better, so I took my ATV for a ride in the woods. The kids have been working on clearing one of the new trails and it is awesome!

When I came back, I drove down near a Hickory tree and was so thrilled to find nuts all over the ground. I picked for several minutes, then took my goodies in the house.  Just before dark, I went out once again, and found many more nuts had fallen in the brisk winds! I hurriedly picked up the nuts as a chipmunk sat nearby, scolding me all the while!

I love the woods. And I love getting all those lovely nuts! (Yes, the nut didn’t fall too far from the tree!!!)

Where Does Time Go, Anyway?

Yesterday was an incredibly busy, busy day!

On Sunday night, Mark’s mom called to remind Mark she had a doctor’s appointment yesterday afternoon.  We rushed around in the morning, getting ready to go and even in so doing, left later than we had planned.  We got to my mother-in-law’s house and she told us her appointment was actually twenty minutes later than what she had told us.  She had gotten the time wrong and didn’t look at her calendar until we were on our way.  Well, that gave us a bit of time to relax and catch our breath!

While waiting for Mark’s mom, we drove on over to the Home Depot to park; the hospital where her appointments are is so busy and the only place to park is in a ramp. While we were there, I went inside to take a look at the nursery.  Wow!  They are getting in some beautiful plants!  I walked up and down the aisles, several times, just taking in all the wonderful colors and textures!  My Crocuses are pretty well spent and now everything is looking pretty dull once again!

We had dropped Mark’s mom off shortly after 1:30 and figured she wouldn’t be too long.  She finally called after 3:00.  That was a bit longer than we thought it would be and we needed to really hurry!

Mark has been getting together with other musicians and they are working on a few songs.  One of the people is a woman who lives about 25 or 30 miles from us.  She is a talented singer and is learning to play the guitar.  She and her husband have been coming to our house once a week and she and Mark practice together.  This week, they had invited us down, not only for practice, but for dinner.  We were so excited!

Bill, the husband of the singer, loves to cook and bake.  Since he is home more than his wife, he prepares meals.  And believe me, his meals are far from ordinary! We had gone to their house for a Passover Seder and Bill made the most memorable matzo ball soup!  When he asked what we might like to eat, Mark mentioned the soup. So…..we began last night’s dinner with a bowl of matzo ball soup.  It was so good, particularly since I had not eaten since 6:30 in the morning.  I had made a piece of toast! After the soup, we had a most awesome salad, along with jello piped with real whipped cream on top.  Bill told us the jello was not dessert, so eat it along with the salad!

The salad was topped with chicken breast and homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette…it was so delicious, I can still taste it! Add to that the rolls….he told us the recipe was a very old recipe from his grandmother and they were so delicious!

Desert was homemade French Vanilla or Chocolate pudding.  I had the French Vanilla and it was also piped with whipped cream.

Mark and Carolyn wondered how they were going to practice after the meal! It was so good!  The house is set up with an open concept, so they just moved a few feet from the table and set up. It was so nice to listen to their music after an incredible meal!  They played, listened to some music, then played some more.  It was well after 11:00 before we finally left, arriving home at midnight!

What a long day it was.  But one of the best parts was…..Bill not only sent home some of his soup and rolls….

But also a package of his homemade hotdog buns!

Wow! I think today’s menu will consist of soup, rolls, and a Greek salad.  Why am I suddenly hungry again?

An Awakening

The other day, I was looking through old photos taken over the last several years.  Wow, the kids have changed so much.  Many things have changed.  Then, suddenly it hit me.  I had been thinking about why I have not blogged much recently.  I think I know.  I think when Angus left us, he took a bit of my heart….

In thinking about Wee Angus, I think if he would have been able to speak, he would have told us to just “get on with it”!   Now that I have gained that insight, I guess I had better.  Get on with it, that is!

Things are busy here….not doing anything really outstanding, but keeping us doing “something” all the time!

As I am writing this, the chatter outside my window is insane!  I have a Thistle “sock” hanging outside the bedroom window.  This is such a cool feeder for the birds.  It has two exceedingly powerful suction cups that keep it attached to the window.  The Goldfinches were the first to find this sock and appreciate it,  but now a flock of House Finches comes by as well.  When those little buggers are feeding, it gets so noisy!

These are the Goldfinches who seem to eat much more peaceably than the House Finches!

And these are the House Finches!  I took this photo and was amazed at how *dirty* the window was!!! Yes, one cannot hide anything from the camera lens!  I did clean the window off really well after this particular shoot and was a bit more prepared the next time I took photos!

I love these birds….they have the cute little Raspberry Red “cap” as well as breasts.

And this is when it gets really noisy!   I have tried to count just how many birds can fit on that “sock”, but it was impossible!

I have taken so many photos and they are all just waiting to share, so I will try to be more diligent and post!  Oh, and one last photo!

Yup, Ben’s finished project, complete with the sun!  Now, the sides on this are only temporary.  When we purchased the building, we drove to Pennsylvania to pick it up to save some money.  When the crew loaded the package onto our trailer, they used two pieces of scrap to wrap the package in so the metal wouldn’t get scratched.  Ben was not happy to put those pieces on the sides, but it was easier than storing them for now.  We do plan to add wooden sides on the building, then a garage door on the front.  It will certainly look better!

And the Project Continues…

In the last post, I showed the six holes Benjamin dug.  Well, what I did not show was the holes filled with concrete.  That’s right!  The same day Ben dug the holes, he mixed a bag of concrete for each hole and dumped it in.  He worked into the dark, Mark and I holding flashlights for him to shovel the concrete into the holes!

Ben didn’t want Murphy to fall into the holes, after all…..

Sooo…an explanation.  The threaded rods embedded into the concrete in the holes are for “adjusting the building” in the event there is some settling since the excavation was only recently done.  Mark and Ben really wanted to get this project underway, so they didn’t want to wait to see how the land might shift a bit.  Mark’s solution was the rods which make it possible to shim the building using a jack to lift a corner if need be.

In the above photo, Ben placed the bottom rail of the building in place and his holes lined up…perfectly!

After filling the holes and making sure everything was going to fit together, (and it did so, perfectly!) Ben once again tamped the ground where the rails would lie, leveling all along the way!

Now the weather has been terrificly mild thus far, but today was another story.  It turned much colder and snowflakes were in the air as Mark and Ben fitted 2 x 6 inch pressured treated boards for a foundation under the metal rails.

After Ben finished working yesterday, he wanted to go to a Chinese buffet.  We agreed it sounded good, so we all went out.  On the way home, Mark pulled over alongside the road where folks were selling Christmas trees. The kids were over the moon. They picked a huge Blue Spruce that needed about a foot cut off the bottom!!!

Yes, it does need to be decorated. In the meantime, my kids had me laughing.  They are so much bolder than I!

They told the fellow selling the trees they thought this tag said ten dollars.

The guy shrugged his shoulders and muttered “okay.”

Such a deal……



The Next Thing

Life is all about projects, no?  Well, I guess there does come a time when one might relax and stop conjuring projects up, but this one was a bit of a necessity!

Not too long ago, we had a fellow show up with a big (no, it was *really*! big!) bulldozer.  Mark had seen those little carports along the roads nearly everywhere and he thought such a little building would be nice for putting our “toys” (atv’s and snowmobiles, lawnmower, log splitter, etc) away.  He thought about this a long time, researching the quality and specs.  So, the big bulldozer made short work of plowing over five trees and pushing them into the woods so Ben could cut them into firewood for next year.

This is the new project as viewed from the front porch.

Ben and Mark pondered how, exactly, to best anchor down the carport.  We *do* get some powerful “breezes” here from time to time…They decided to have Ben dig six two foot deep holes, three on each side. I forgot to mention that Ben made a nice “strip” that was perfectly level on which to place each side of said building.  You can see this in the photo below.

The orange markings are spray paint where each hole needed to be dug.

I’m pretty sure Ben would disagree, but he seemed to make short work of those six holes! Next, Ben did something not planned!

Aw, don’t worry, Murphy was quickly removed! Actually, he splayed his front legs apart and pulled himself up so quickly, I had to take this shot in record time!

While I didn’t photograph the excavating as it was being done, here are the “waste” products…

There was another pile of stacked firewood, too, and although in the grand scheme of things (or woods!) this doesn’t look like a lot, there is actually about two or two and a half cords of firewood there! Oh, and those stumps….

These also don’t look very big, but if you look at the stump in the previous post, mounted on the small haywagon, you can see that these are NOT little stumps!  The “stump removing project” is detained for awhile….until next spring, says Ben!

I have a few photos of the frosty morning we ventured down to Pennsylvania to pick up the building parts!  I had forgotten about those! I will try to get those up later.  Anyway,  we saved 15% by picking said building up at the warehouse. And, in my mind, any trip to Pennsylvania is a GREAT trip!

Another Autumnal Delight

How is this trio of trees for color?  On a little walk in the front “yard” (woods) I  kept looking upwards and found these trees all in the same vicinity.  I think they posed quite nicely.  On the left is a Maple,  the center is a White Oak, and the tree on the right is what my brother, Bob, calls a Pignut Hickory.  I took these photos on Monday.  Yesterday it rained nearly nonstop the entire day and today was just downright dismal!

We worked on the camper today and finally completed our makeover.  The work was long and tedious, but the camper looks fantastic and there is no telltale odor from the water damage.  I was impressed.  I thought Mark was taking on a far too complicated job when he decided to try to repair one of the wall panels that had become delaminated.  When our friend Ben and our Ben removed the panel from the wall, it was like removing strands of toothpicks.  With Mark’s tenacity, he meticulously glued the strands back in place.  Where there was a void with no material to work with, he built the panel up.  After each session (and there were many!) he would add a layer of plastic wrap over the panel so any oozey glue would not stick to anything, then he placed buckets filled with gravel to weight all the work down and compress the panel.

The carpet had to be torn out and replaced, along with a section of floor that got wet and disintegrated.  The plywood was replaced and Mark labored over trying to find a good piece of carpeting.  It is incredible just how hard it was to find a match.  I wanted a carpet that was more “dirt friendly”, that is, less likely to show every little bit of dirt that came in like the previous carpet.  Mark was concerned about finding a good quality rug that was similar in height to the previous one.  One day, he and Ben went to Home Depot and found the perfect carpet.  I was a bound rug but was the right size.  We had to purchase a few carpet installing tools and the guys also found a great padding for under the carpet.

The carpet had a curve when it was installed originally and I told Mark it really didn’t matter to me how they installed it.  Well, not wanting to mess up the original design, Ben did a fantastic job of  replicating the original installation.  I was in awe!  The carpet could not look any more professional than it does.  Kudos to Ben for his great work!  I must add than in the process of all this, the sofa had to be removed as well.  The original installation of the sofa left some to be desired, so Ben built a ledger strip on one wall to give the sofa a bit more strength and durability.

There were many, many more little steps along the way….and things that needed to be replaced or repaired.  The front of the oven had some rust on it, so Mark removed the panel and repaired and painted it.  We put up a new miniblind near the door, as Angus used to go ballistic when he watched out the window and saw other people or dogs nearby.  There were other picky little jobs, like replacing wooden plugs on a handle inside the door.  All the little jobs added up to many hours spent!  But the camper actually looks as good as it did when we bought it some nine years ago!

We bought that camper so we could travel with our little Angus and not have to leave him behind at a kennel. We called it our little travelling doghouse on wheels.  We went all the way to near Philadelphia to purchase the camper.  On our way home, we decided to stop at Corning Glass for a tour.  I placed Angus who was all of five or six months old, into a little plastic kennel.  The wee puppy would be safe in his kennel in the bedroom.  The air was cool and we had a fantastic fan installed just for our Angus.

When we returned from our tour, boy, were we surprised!  Our little Angus proved to be quite the Houdini!   I had failed to secure the top tightly in place and the rambuntious little pup managed to “pop the top”!  I opened the door and was greeted by a wild little pup who raced from one end of the little camper to the next,  joyously greeting me!  Angus loved that camper.  If the table was up, he would hop up on it so he could survey his kingdom from the highest point.  And yes, he also sat in the chair and lunged at the window, making a mess of the (cheap) minblinds.

Murphy now rules over the kingdom, but he is happy to just ignore what is happening outside.  He merely awaits the next morsel to fall inside the camper….

We winterized the camper and it will be placed on its little plateau for the winter. Oh, it feels so good to have completed this project!  Phew!

We’re Still Hanging in there.

And when times get tough, I bake cookies!  Yup.  Instead of making dinner late this afternoon, I somehow “short-circuited” and made cookies instead.  Now, you know things have been looking a bit dismal.  Yeah.  Well, I got out the cookbook and hand mixed a batch of Spritz cookies. 

I love Spritz.  I love them with frosting lavished on them with little sprinkles.  Mmmm…..actually, I am just a cookie monster, liking most varieties!  So….I got out my handy-dandy cookie press….placed some dough inside the cylinder…..put the press together…..pulled the trigger…..POW!!!  The cookie press broke. Imploded. I had to pick tiny bits of black plastic out of the dough. 

Thinking fast on my feet, I decided to convert my pressed creations (by the way, the press broke on the very FIRST cookie!) into Thumbprint cookies.  I rolled dough into delicate tiny balls, then placed my thumb into the center.  After all the cookies were on sheets for baking, I placed a bit of blueberry jam in each center.  Oh my!  The cookies were very good.

Don’t believe me?

Ask Murphy!

He climbed up on my chair when I left the room to place the first sheet in the oven.  He decided perhaps he needed to get a little more “personal” with my goodies!

Mark was sitting there next to Murphy, giving him tiny little pieces of cookie! 

As far as the Explorer goes, Mark is waiting on calls for several options.  In the end, it is likely we won’t get much for the vehicle.  I’m okay with that….We had hoped for a nice return to help pay for the new Subaru, but…..

Ah well!