Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to Ma!

Hoping you have a sunny day!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Soaking Up the Sun

Tasha Tudor sprawls out and enjoys a sunny nap on our new kitchen floor.

This weekend I'm joining in with some fabulous food bloggers for Weekend Dog Blogging! I decided that Dog Blogging, besides being fun, is a great way to keep track of Tasha's monthly dose of Sentinel. Especially since the blog is always here, and I can never find a calendar or remember to write down when we gave her the meds. Now I can just go back and check the blog!

Note to self: Tasha got her August dose of Sentinel today.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sizzle and Smoke

No, this is not about the first meal in my new kitchen. (I'm still building cabinets like a madwoman.) Unfortunately, it's about my camera.

It's official. I fried my camera. Or rather, the sun fried my camera at the beach. In the late afternoon, I snapped this picture (sadly, the last one this camera will ever take), and then the camera just froze. When I turned it around to see what was the matter, I saw tiny wisps of smoke swirling out from behind the lens and smelled a distinct metallic burn. I'd heard of things like this happening. I don't know the physics of it (something about sunlight and glass and just the right angle), but my camera is no more.

I never realized how often I use it. And of course, it's out of warranty. So, now I have to shop for another. Because honestly, how can I blog without my camera?

Happy Birthday to my Brother!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Day Down the Shore

Yes, this really is New Jersey

I am embarrassed to admit that I have lived in New Jersey for thirteen years, and I never realized we had a beach. Well, sure, I'd heard people talking over the years.

"So-n-so's not here today. She went down the shore."

"Garden State clinic? Oh, it's not too far. Just down the shore."

"Have you been down the shore yet?"

"We're vacationing down the shore this summer."

But notice, no one has ever said the word "beach."

As a child and teenager, I spent almost every summer on the beaches of the Gulf Coast of Florida, where the sands are white, the sun is bright, the air is hot and the ocean is blue and green. In my mind, that has always been the epitome of "beach."

So, is it any wonder I was clueless about the Jersey shore? Sure, I knew there was an ocean over there to the southeast, and that parts of New Jersey ran into it. And frankly, all these years, I thought I had been "down the shore." I couldn't understand what all the hoopla was about. After all, one of our first summers here, we attempted to go to Sandy Hook. I think we might have been looking for a place to sail, but I can't remember if we took the boat with us or not. I do remember that getting there was horrendous, and that we waited in a line of stopped and crawling traffic two hours long, only to get to the park entrance to find a ranger turning all the cars away with a sign that said, "Closed -- Maximum Occupancy Reached." Welcome to New Jersey... the most densely populated state in the nation.

We did try to go back to Sandy Hook once, in the late fall, I think. No one was there, and it was very windy and very cold. The "shore" was a pile of rocks that hurt our feet, the "sand" was brown and pebbly and the "ocean" was more like a little bay with black, cold, waveless water. Needless to say, we've never been back.

One other time I went down the shore. It was on a marine research vessel in the middle of winter with my Ecology class. We wore heavy parkas and gloves, walked around on a tiny boat (like the one in Jaws), and collected and catalogued weird stuff that the researchers dredged up from the bottom of the sea for us, while the boat rocked violently in the wind. This was so not Florida.

Thus imagine my surprise when I followed a whim of my daughter yesterday and decided to try once more to go "down the shore." This time we bypassed Sandy Hook and drove a little further south to Spring Lake. Lo and behold, we found a real beach, complete with waves, sand dollars, jellyfish, gulls, blue water and more. Yes, there were rocks.

And the sand was not as pristine as the white sands of Florida.

But it was real. And it was fun. We got bitten by sand crabs, and we even got sunburned.

Who needs Florida when there's a real beach just an hour away?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Best Laid Plans

Goldenrod signals the end of summer

A plateau has been reached. Progress seems stalled. I am exhausted. In reality, I am just running out of time. Even though so much has been accomplished this summer, there are still so many things I had planned that I haven't yet done. Like visit the rehab center, and work for a few weeks at the emergency clinic. Like get to the dentist or have my hair done. Like visit my family down South. Take a real vacation. Or can tomatoes. Research and prepare for a conference presentation I am scheduled to give in October of 2007. Like get a jump-start in studying for boards (NAVLE). OK, really, who was I kidding?

Alas, the kitchen will not be finished like I optimistically projected a couple of months ago. My sister is flying in tomorrow to see the progress, and we're not done. However, it is enormously improved from what it was when I arrived in May. In fact, the police came to the door last night looking for my elderly neighbor who had wandered off*, and for the first time in years, I didn't panic that an uninvited "outsider" might peer in my window, see the bare studs, frayed hanging electrical wires and large gaping holes in the floor and haul us off to social services or some such. Because I have walls. I have painted walls. And trim. And finished floors. Soon we will have cabinets and cooking appliances and counters and a dishwasher. For now, we have walls. And walls are good.

*After a three-hour search involving the local police, volunteer fire department, and the state police with ATVs and helicopters sweeping the swamp with infrared, she was found unharmed, sitting quietly down the road, alone in another neighbor's pool house.

Happy Birthday to my Sister!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Wake Up and Smell the ...


Certainly not the coffee. This morning I woke to the lovely aroma of sewer gas wafting throughout my entire house. While I've been in Minnesota for the past two years, strange things have been going on with the mechanicals in this house. The oil tank has a slow leak (shh - I'm sure this is a hideously illegal violation of some sort), so instead of using the heat last winter, DH heated the house with wood. He still drives to the gas station, buys kerosene by the gallon and fills the tank himself only as much as necessary to keep the hot water flowing. Why not just replace the 1000 gallon tank? A special type of DH stubbornness. Don't ask.

Apparently the septic pump has been malfunctioning also. Unbeknownst to me, DH has been regularly (weekly?) climbing into the septic pit and manually pumping the tank. Eeewww! (OK, I guess it just involves throwing a switch or something, but it still sounds gross.)

We finally decided this has to stop, so last week he attempted a DIY septic repair. After sustaining a large "zap" from the pump-pit electricals, and envisioning himself electrocuted and falling down into the, umm, dooty water never to be seen again, he decided to call in the pros. So along with my morning cup of java, I get to sit inside and watch strange men with lots of equipment get intimate with our poo outside, and wait a few hours before we can flush. Life in this house is always an adventure.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Staining Day

Not sure if we actually achieved the pumpkin pine look, but I am happy with the cherry stain we chose. Here's the floor after the first coat of oil. The stain job could probably be better. I think they should've used a wood conditioner first, but I'm living with it, for now at least.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sanding Day

Floor guys are here today to sand all the floors in the whole downstairs. It almost feels like we're moving! A totally empty house can be so refreshing. We'll be leaving all the oak natural again, but in the kitchen we want to stain the new pine. We're aiming for the richness of antique pumpkin pine floors found in old farmhouses throughout the Northeast.

Here's the floor before sanding, with the room finally empty of all previous kitchen stuff - now relegated to the Dumpster.

And the floor after sanding:

The sample stain board:

We shall see what tomorrow brings!


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Dumpster Days are Here Again!

Hard to believe I can be excited about something as mundane as trash. Our seventh? eighth? dumpster was delivered yesterday. The first record I have of a dumpster delivery is in September of 1997. We've had one almost every year. Which means we either have way too much crap or we've demolished and tossed out almost every inch of this house over the years (which is true). Or both. At least I won't have to look at the six foot tall by ten foot wide pile of garbage anymore when I come down the drive.

Last year we threw away the kitchen sink and counters. That was incredibly liberating. This year, we'll be tossing out the very last of the old kitchen cabinets. Should we keep just one for posterity? Memories? Nah...

The Lone Survivor. RIP. 1950 - 2006