So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff



Hey! What Happened Here?!

Remember that 70+ degree weather, dragging lumber around to build boxes, and laying out in the sun? Well. . . this is today:20150325_100958

There is a good happening to report – – see the wood that is on the ground between the tree and the boxes? A neighbor down the way has their son down from the north and he is putting in a new kitchen for them. The had a bad leak in their walls apparently. Anyway, I scored a BUNCH of lumber out of the dumpster bags!! A lot of 4″x8″ lumber, some 4″ x 4″, and a bunch of smaller stuff that I can use as bracing for the raised bed walls. I also scored a kitchen counter top as well as a huge piece that has an edging along the back side that will be the perfect bottom shelf for the Potting Bench, enough 1x to at least get a good start on my Obelisk for my beans, DIY Potting Bench built from fence boards for $45, FlowerPatchFarmhouse.comif not finish it completely, and I even pulled out enough longer offcuts to possibly build another garden bed.

The Queen of the Dumpster Divers Strikes Again!

The “kid” didn’t think much of the SOLID MAPLE cabinet doors, so he threw them out . . . they are in the contractor bag underneath the one I scavenged the lumber from (and I can tell there is lumber in THAT bag too… drool… ) so I am watching like a hawk for the contractor garbage company to come around. As soon as they do (I SO hope I catch them!!!) when they pull off the top bag I am hoping to pull out the cabinet doors to take to Habitat for Humanity (they are really GORGEOUS pieces!!! I pulled four small, overhead cabinet doors out of the top bag and there isn’t a scratch on them. He thought they were “cheap.” Must be nice to be a contractor in the North East where solid maple is “cheap”) And of course score some more lumber for my projects!Easy DIY Garden Obelisk,

Oh, and I was sent a great gardening book by the publisher!! The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb. The book has plans for layouts based on your size availability, from 4’x4′ ground or box layout to how to plant veggies in pots and other containers. Then she covers soil mixes, preparing soil if you are planting straight into the ground, when and how to plant, how to water and feed for your plants health and happiness, and even information on heirlooms! If you don’t know the difference, heirlooms are plants that have been around for years, or centuries, in basically the same form, without some whacked-out plant scientist trying to do things like create square tomatoes that pack more efficiently in boxes for shipping or contain enough chemicals and GMO materials that they can sit on the shelf for 100 years and still be “fresh”. UGH!!!! No, they don’t ship well, and you won’t really find them on your supermarket shelf – though if you hunt, a lot of small farmers are making heirlooms available at farmers markets, and they TASTE. WONDERFUL. Fresh, clean flavours that, if you have only eaten supermarket veggies your your life you probably won’t even recognize as the veg you are used to – the flavours of heirloom veggies and herbs grown in clean soil without chemicals will blow you away!

Postage Stamp even covers plants that like each other (tomatoes loves carrots!), how to naturally control pests such as aphids and plant diseases, and how to start (and keep healthy) your own compost piles, bins, or waste cans.

I have had a lot of gardening books over time, and this is a really good one for the small-space gardener.

So. Since it is snowing out… guess it is time to go back to work! I have books for editing on my desk – and several reviews!


Review: The Unplugged Woodshop by Tom Fidgen

Highly recommended for anyone who appreciates fine craftsmanship, or anyone who would like to learn to create beautiful wooden pieces.

My mission in life is to preserve craftsmanship. – Waris Ahluwalia

I will no doubt sound outdated in the extreme when I say this – but I truly miss craftsmanship. In this day of plastics and throwaways, the feel of a truly well made table, the curve of a hard-carved chair arm or the beautiful lines of a bookcase is something I search for, and don’t often find. So, it was with great pleasure that I accepted when asked to review The Unplugged Woodshop by Tom Fidgen.

Mr. Fidgen is a true craftsman, and it shows in all of his work. This volume contains some of the most amazing works I have seen come out of “unplugged” shops – workshops that use solely hand tools that don’t require the modern day convenience of electricity! His works are amazing. There is a drafting table that looks as if it came straight from a Craftsman Era workshop that would be beautiful for any aspiring architect or artist. A gentleman’s valet would fit beautifully in any dressing room or bedroom, while an old-fashioned doctor’s medicine chest, complete with carry strap, makes a beautiful and highly unusual wine tote for visits to friend’s dinner parties.

Handcut dovetails in all of his drawer work is especially prominent in my favorite piece – an absolutely stunning library style card catalog. For those of you too young to remember, there was a time when we didn’t run to a computer to look up books. Instead, our fingers did the work in a different way, running across sometimes handwritten tags on the fronts of many drawers holding 3×5 cards, each neatly lettered with the titles and information about all the books in the library. I spent many happy hours in the library when I was in school, paging through the cards, enjoying the smells of old paper, and dreaming of the worlds to be found in books. Tom has repurposed the card catalog for use in the kitchen,setting the height to 43 ½ inches in order to be at a good working height. I envision it in another setting, in my quilting workroom where the drawers will hold spools of thread, small tools, and the myriad of other items I am constantly searching for as I work. Tom gives gorgeous examples of how you can utilize cheaper woods and yet still turn out gorgeous pieces by using veneers of highly prized woods to give your project a million dollar look on a budget. His zebrawood veneer on the card catalog is stunning, while blending walnut, quarter-sawn oak and cherry woods, along with veneers of more exotic woods can turn the simple architect’s table into a museum quality piece of art.

The photos in the books are absolutely stunning. Great care has been taken to not only show the beauty of the finished pieces, but to give beautifully illustrated photos of the projects as they are built. Any of the photos in the book are works of art in and of themselves.

Don’t have the proper tools for working wood? Tom even helps you there, as he gives patterns and instructions for making your own tools! He also gives tips and hints about how to handle your tools properly, how to us a handsaw properly for best results, properly using a plane (which he shows you how to build) and other methods of proper workmanship and hand tool safety.

If you are at all interested in the fine art and craft of woodworking, you could not go wrong with this beautiful book and the stunning projects within.

Highly recommended!

Review: Chicago Stories: West of Western

Excellent first book.
Click to order.

Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself. Lao Tzu

Suddenly, to everyone’s horror, the tomb of his grandfather opens and a hand grabs Don Carlo’s shoulder, pulling him back into the tomb. – Verdi’s Don Carlo

As I was reading Chicago Stories: West of Western I was brought to mind of a modern day opera, a tragedy, lived across the streets of the west side of Chicago. Blood and war, incest, murder, hatred, fear – all the themes are there, richly portrayed. The brutality of poverty reaches out and grips the reader by the throat, and yet, the layers of the story are not just those of poverty and gangs. They are so much deeper. As Richard, one of the characters in the book puts it, “Someone recently called this kind of wanton destruction a failure of imagination.” And, as Graham Greene said in “The Power and the Glory,” Hatred is a failure of imagination.

 There is no failure of imagination in Hamer’s writing. Rather, she writes brilliantly about a neighborhood, and the people within it. What she writes about, however, is the deep and abiding failure of imagination of the gangs that roam the streets of the neighborhood, sowing devastation in their wake. These people live in small worlds, with no comprehension of what a wide world there truly is out there – what there actually is which may be accomplished, should one simply reach out, stretch the imagination beyond a few small blocks. Purposeful ignorance, and the temptations of power, if only in small and violent ways, taking the lives of those who both do, and do not, deserve to die.

Poverty is like that, Charlie Brown.
Courtesy of

Seraphy has moved into this neighborhood, on the border of two gang territories, purchasing a beautiful but run down building to live and work in as an architect. She fixes up the building and moves in, only to be faced with murders, gang warfare, and threats all around her. But there are also good people – her neighbors around the corner are two wonderful gay male characters I immediately fell in love with, as does she. There are artists and singers, legal and illegal immigrants, the wonderful fellow who owns the corner market, and the crazy nun next door. And there are the gangs, those dredges of humanity so soulless and evil that they would feed upon their own people, like jackals upon a corpse.

This book was vibrant and violent, deeply moving and deeply disturbing on many levels. The stories it has to tell are a microcosm of America, where we have been, where we are going, and how it can all go so very, very wrong. It is mystery and suspense, thriller and literary novel, pain and redemption and absolutely riveting.

Highly recommended.

The Tiny House Movement For You AND The Environment!

Just the right size for a family of two, right?

I just don’t get it. The economy is in the tank; jobs are hard to come by. Families are surviving on short work hours, part-time jobs, and increasing prices. And yet these huge-ass McMansions are going up all around us. Who BUYS this shit?

My neighborhood is cool. Far enough out from civilization to make it private and quiet, and yet close enough to town that the market isn’t a nightmare

Not my house, but close enough to style.
Not my house, but close enough in style.

to get to when the snow is deep and the wind is howling. You know the type – early 70’s rancher brick bungalow style with a large, fenced yard for the dogs. The neighbor on the corner is a flower greenhouse, there is a creek running on one side, and a veterinarian lives behind us. Mature trees (yea, so mature that I really need to rip out the one that finally croaked in the back yard before it blows over in the next huge windstorm. I would really, really like a crabapple out there to replace it – they have beautiful pink flowers in the spring . . . but I digress.)

Drawing courtesy of All Rights Reserved.
Drawing courtesy of
All Rights Reserved.

However, the world is creeping up on us, in the form of million dollar homes going up less than a couple miles away. And of course, you know what happens – the taxes on the neighborhood of ranchers suddenly go through the roof . . . Asswipes. As if we really COULD sell the places for the value that Jefferson County suddenly straps onto us! Like THAT is going to happen.

It really makes one think. And one thing I think about is how greedy and ostentatious people are. Oh, don’t get me wrong. When I lived in California and other places where my whole focus was on climbing the ladder, I was just as ostentatious as anyone else I worked with. Appearances really WERE everything, especially in my world. Who you knew, what you wore, what you drove and where you lived. Yes, I really did live down the street from O. J. and a lot of other “muckty mucks.” Well, BFD, right?

Sigh. If only we could live once, then go back and do it all over again – RIGHT this time!

As time goes along, I have come to realize what a true waste of space I, and all of my previous cronies, really were. Hanging with movie stars and corporate moguls who took advantage of everyone really wasn’t as cool as it seemed at the time. Yep. Waste of space.

And that brings me full circle to the waste of space. Who truly needs 8,000 feet, or more, of house, which is usually only filled by one or two people, or maybe a family of three, at most? Horrible for the environment, if nothing else. The more I think about it, the more sad and disgusted I become. Talk about having the wrong priorities!

Click for an infographic on housing costs and the reality of tiny home living from

The more I think about it, the more I really, really wish the ‘Tiny House Movement’ would become the true wave of the future. Haven’t read about it? Tiny Houses are just that, tiny, efficient homes, some that are actually popped onto trailers so that if you decide you don’t like your neighbors, you just hitch up and pull away to somewhere more pleasant. Or maybe just because you want to see another part of the country.

I first heard about this when I saw an ad for “Tumbleweed Tiny Houses.” The Elm 24 is ADORABLE!! I mean, look inside it!

The Elm - how cute is this?!
The Elm – how cute is this?! I would use the loft to sleep and turn the “bedroom” into a craft room and office!
The sleeping loft lets tons of light in.
Love Love LOVE the beautiful kitchen!
Check out the dormer windows on the Elm – lots of light, and the cathedral window really sets it off!

Well, the Linden is adorable too. Both are wood built, have dormers for the loft sleeping areas, and beautiful

Well, the Linden is adorable too . . .

Cute . . . It just doesn’t have the beautiful porch that the Elm does!
Compact and perfect for a single or a couple.
The layout is totally efficient.

Both are wood built, have dormers for the loft sleeping areas, and beautiful kitchens.kitchens. Though tiny, they are so well laid out that there is actually a lot of useful room available. Both of these have front porches for a rocker and a plant or two. How nice would it be to sit out on your porch, the going, listening to the birds and watching little critters walk across your “front yard” when your front yard is a state park in the mountains, or by the sea? Yeah, yeah, you can get an RV. But what fun is that? These little houses are COOL!!! They really are tiny homes! And yes, they have bathrooms, with showers and chemical toilets (no, chemical toilets don’t stink), hot water heaters, and even fireplaces! I mean, take a look at the pictures! What else could you need, anyway? Besides, sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, or on the beach in the Carolinas – heck, even parked with a view of the snowy peaks of Mount McKinley in Alaska – what is not to love? And when you get tired of moving around, and find where you want to live? Just find a bit of land you love and park your home, grow your garden, put in your greenhouse, and you are living your happily ever after!

Of course, you don’t have to go all “woodsy” with your tiny house. Check out the HiveHaus! Fixed in place, it is very modern in style. In the words of the company:

Delivered to site as flatpack components by standard palletised transport enabling HIVEHAUS® to be installed on hard to access sights with ease – a single cell can be erected by 2/3 people within one day without the need for heavy machinery – adjustable legs and minimal foundations allow for erection on sloping or uneven terrain without problem. And because the compact nature of HIVEHAUS® fits within the legal limitations for garden rooms the need for planning permission in most cases is not required.”

Tiny house living with a modern touch!
Tiny house living with a modern touch!

How massively amazing is THAT!

So, looking for a happily ever after that you can actually afford, and that won’t destroy the environment – and will give you options that will still feel like home? Hey – check it out! You don’t have to be one of the Three Bears to live in a beautiful world like theirs!

******* WE HAVE FAN!!!! **********


Home Improvement (Ooo ooo ooo – or however Tim Taylor said it)

Click click click click click . . . arrrgh! I have listened to that from my ceiling fan for at least the last year. Click click click click. Survey shows, I definitely need a new ceiling fan! Don’t get me wrong, that one has served well for at least ten years. In Colorado summers, you need the air movement, even living in a brick house that holds the nights cool air if you seal it up every morning. But I digress.

Click click click click . . . So, I have been saving my nickles and dimes for quite some time, because there is a specific fan I want.

Pretty, huh?
Pretty, huh?

It is a Hunter 26407, a 52-inch Architect Series, bronze with cherry-wood blades (digression – HAHAHAH – more like fiber wood with “real faux cherry-wood design on one side, real faux walnut-wood on the other! Oh, well, what did I expect? The company may be in Memphis, but five will get you ten it was made it Korea or someplace similar.)

So anyway, (click click click click) I finally save up enough nickles and dimes and my fan arrives. Oh, goodie goodie goodie! Whee!!!

Now, you have to remember, I have a lot of home renovation under my belt. (Oh, Pandora is Playing Up Around The Bend – good, it is 4 AM and I just got up, my tea is made, and life begins . . . And Led Zeppelin Radio helps get me moving at this hour.) So. Where was I? Oh, yes, home renovation. bungalowI started out with a 1901 California Bungalow when I lived in California. This picture is the same structure, nearly exactly, but my photos were all lost in a flood when I lived in Seal Beach, so I don’t have any photos of the one I did, but other than the paint colours, this one is the same.) Stripping off layers and layers of paint from real old-growth redwood and cypress trim, stripping and sanding down wide plank flooring and sealing it with spar to bring up the grain and pure color. Believe me, you haven’t lived until you are sanding floors that are in a house homeless drug users have used as a flop. And let me tell you, having to borrow a girlfriend’s fire department standard hazmat suit and chain metal gloves, and using a carpet knife and long pliers to rip and strip the carpet and drag it out to the dumpster was NO FUN. . . those suits are HOT… and there must have been two dozen needles and three pounds of busted up fixings in the old shag that probably went in in the 1960’s. That stuff was nasty! But what can you expect from a neighborhood undergoing ‘gentrification” after years of not wanting to drive through the neighborhood without an armoured vehicle? Anyway, new paint on the antique plaster, sealer on the trim work, new kitchen, new bathrooms. At least the old wavy glass in the windows miraculously made it through mostly in one piece, only a few had to be replaced or were long gone. It was something to see when I was done.

Then there was the last house. A mishmash of styles and lack of styles, all cobbled together from the 1930’s to the 1980’s, after a huge wildfire that wiped out the south coast of Oregon.

Aftermath. There was no stopping the fire.
Aftermath. There was no stopping the fire.
There was nothing left.
There was nothing left.

(Yes, I do have pictures of this remodel, but they are on a drive somewhere downstairs, if you are interested I will pull them out later. But, anyway. . .)

The oldest part of the house had great plaster, nice woods, and both old-growth fir and cork flooring. New tile and refinishing the old cabinets in the kitchen, click together wood floors in the dining room (the floor was wayyy wavy and an add-on from the 80’s, what can I say?) But I did add slate flooring in the hallways where the old 80’s fiber-board was awful, and the master bedrooms had that amazing cork. New bathrooms were a must (I really, really hate installing toilets, fiddly little buggers) but it was really nice when I got done. I even did Italian plaster on the walls, leather treatment in the master, installed ceiling fans (they were so easy to install!) and did Italian plaster and this wonderful Italian tile with copper trim on the fireplace and sprayed the old 80’s era stove with copper fire-proof paint. Killer. Went from “land-only” value to mid six-figures and I was a proud house-momma!

So, we moved back to Colorado, after 20 years away, and found this nice little brick rancher in the country. poppy

It was built in 1972, and wonder of wonders, it had already been freshly painted and the carpet was new, as were the bathrooms. Glory be, I can put away my tools! Well, for a few years, at least. The water heater had to be replaced (original) then the heating system (original) then the swamp cooler had to be just forgotten about and taken away when high winds took away a big chunk of the roof (roof replaced, check). The kitchen isn’t what we really want, but it is functional, and after the market crash and my cancer, well, nothing is getting done there any time soon.

But, that BLASTED FAN!!! Don’t get me wrong, it was nice in it’s day, not flashy, but nice, a Hampton Bay (can anyone say Home Depot special?)

Something like this, but I didn't photo it before I took it down. Bad Leiah, no bisquit!
Something like this, but I didn’t photo it before I took it down. Bad Leiah, no biscuit!

But after years of nearly constant running, poor thing is just ka-put. Click click click click.

So, on Saturday the fan is finally in my hot little hands and I am thrilled.

It's here!
It’s here!

Hey, I have to sit under that thing to work on my blog and read when it is too hot to sit outside, so that noise was really truly getting on my nerves! On Sunday morning, I pull out my toolbox and start in. Everything unpacked, all pieces in order. Check. I drag out the Costco ladder (that thing with the tough plastic tray to hold your goo-gaws within arms reach is great, by the way) and do my normal, picky as heck, take each part off individually, bag the screws and tie the bag to the part that they go to, then carry the parts out to the garage one at a time. (Note: I wasn’t always this meticulous. As in, I buried my Leatherman tool out in the front flowerbed under matting and cedar

My baby is gone!!!!
My baby is gone!!!!
Now I just have a cheapo. Sigh

chips and river rock last summer because I didn’t remember to put it back on the holster on my belt, and by the time I needed it again, who knows where under the fifty feet of matting it was buried? And you would know I don’t know anyone with a metal detector. Sigh. And that was my favorite tool. Now I just have a cheapy faux Leatherman. So, yes, even old dogs can learn new tricks. One thing at a time, moron…..)

The old one come down fine, all the screws are tight, but not overly so, and I draw my wiring diagram on the back of an old envelope so I have a double check on what wire goes where (of course, later, I sat there and puzzled over “blue wire”? WHAT “blue wire”? And why on earth would the hot wire be BLUE on the Hampton Bay? However, I digress. Again.)

But I have remembered to turn off the power, so life is good and I don’t get myself knocked on my ass so far, so life is good. Oh, the power box is new too, that is one thing the 70’s did NOT offer was good wiring to handle the micro, stove, new heating system, etc. that we have worked into the mix over the years. OR the four computers, monitors, printers, etc . . . I truck it all out to the workbench and leave it there for the garage sale I am going to get around to one of these years, and (wild chuckle) I am ready for the new one. Here we go!!!

So, I pull and check the wiring, it’s new. Check. (The wiring in both the above mentioned houses had to be totally replaced. I did a lot of it myself, but sad to say, I had to have an electrician for the new boxes and the City Inspector. Well, I am not THAT good at wiring!)

Screw in a new electrical box, just because I can. Check. Ok. New ceiling plate. Nice, 3” screws to hold the whole 22.4 lbs up to the ceiling. Sweet. So, I grab my nice Ryobi drill (don’t buy a lot of tools, but when you do, make them nice ones. They last longer, are stronger, and you won’t regret the purchase later like you do that date with that really handsome guy who slurps his soup and gropes you under the table). I got the Ryobi drill, hammer drill, bits and case at ‘fire sale’ prices when I worked for Home Depot (whole other story) and I baby it to death.

Cool, huh? I love toys that work well!
Cool, huh? I love toys that work well!

Anyway – drill at the ready – brrrrrrr – BAM! Screw is sticking out a full inch and I am stuck. Up into the attic (OMG. Blown in insulation, and doesn’t THAT suck when it is hot hot hot and you are sweating and fussing. Yep. Metal plating. Bugger. I could have sworn that I checked the length on the original screws. Yep, check my envelope – 2” screws and the new ones are 3”. And you couldn’t have checked that before Leiah? Sigh) Down the steps, back out the screws, and off to the garage to the metal box. I say metal box, because the movers dropped my screw and

nail collection box (all those lovely little compartments!! And I built it myself!) And broke it to pieces. I am still picking up nails and screws from the lawn beside the driveway. So, it is ‘the metal box” an old drawer that holds everything all jumbled together. Ouch! Pointy! Ouch! Sharp! Bugger! I finally dig out the right screws, and back to my ladder. Linda has gone to bed by now (she works nights at one of the casinos in Black Hawk, and she needs her sleep) so I am back to the old hand-held screwdriver. Bugger again. But I am a woman on a mission, so I got the thing up there. Check. I want to flush mount, so no down rod. Good, put that piece back and grab the canopy and canopy ring, and double check the wiring on the new fan. They give you about eight feet of wire

Excess wire. At least I have a lamp to rewire.

on the new one (sweet) so I had to measure off the wire length I needed and cut it and strip it to length. WHERE is my wire stripper? Where???? Dig dig dig.

Bang bang bang. Not where it is supposed to be, check. Not on the workbench. Check. Dig dig dig. Screw it. So, out comes the paring knife, and picky ticky picky, strip off the casing and the wires are all ready.

Stripped wires.
Stripped wires.

But this thing weighs 22.4 lbs and has to be held over my head and Linda is asleep and well, bugger. So, I pack up my toys and take a shower and go down for a nap because there is no way that I am going to be able to finish this up all the time. It is getting dark out, and I have to turn off the power to the whole den to wire this thing so tomorrow it is. Besides, it has been a while since I had my chemo and radiation, but I am still not in top shape, and that reaching over my head business sucks!

So, Monday morning, bright and shiny, I turn off the power again and, with Linda’s help, I am going to quick like a bunny wire this bugger up and get it hung so she can go to bed.

Ready to hang - - - or so I THOUGHT.....
Ready to hang – – – or so I THOUGHT…..

It is her first day off after graveyards, and I want her to be able to hit her bed. First roadblock. The wiring doesn’t match the diagram. Crap. So, we  pull it down and I go out and get the old one. Sure enough, the wiring colours don’t match, but that is workable, the blue on the old one is the red on the new one, check. Got it. Take the old one back out and back up the ladder. Now Linda is holding up the fan, but she is on a chair and she is right at 6′ tall, so life is good. I wire it up, screw on the wire caps, and Bam!

Life is good! Just hang the fan on the hooks and flip it up onto the ceiling plate and I am ready to screw it into place (yes, after making sure no wires are sticking out, I am not a total moron) and it even fits tightly, oh goodie!

Oh, not goodie. Bugger! *&(%(*^(*^%%#$**. The holes don’t line up!! The holes in the ceiling plate are stripped and at an ANGLE!!!!!!! *^&*&%$&^(&%$^$. Of course, we don’t figure that out until the first screw pops back on me, and falls into the HOLES in the top of the fan. (Buh-bye screw! Buh-bye!) Holes WITHOUT screening, so they Fall. Into. The. Motor. Housing. BUGGER  Now Linda and I both have the “flat out exhausted with the whole business giggles” – Buh-bye Screw! Buh-bye! Then again, several more times throughout the mess, of course, buh-bye screw!

Ready! Or so I thought. . .
That plate, right THERE, is the problem!!!!

Yep. Gotta pull the whole bastard down, because I don’t want that screw rattling around and getting pulled up into the motor and burning it out the first time we have to use it. By now, Linda is goofy as all get- \out and tired beyond measure, I am cranky and tired and SORE from mucking about with my arms over my head all day yesterday as well as today, and I am way pissed. So, we pull it down, unwire it, and turn it over the sheet on the floor to shake out the screw, then back up the ladder, this time with the holes covered with socks to cover the holes (the curve of the sock at the ankle means it covers the round well. (Buh-bye screw, again….sigh…) Remember that when you need to make sure screws don’t go where they aren’t supposed to next time you are doing something like this).

Now, up the ladder we rewire and flip up the fan and now we have to deal with the mismatched holes, but I am smart (this time) and bring the drill bits out of my bag and fit on the drill and brrrrrrrrr I drill new holes through the cowling and plate on two sides (the third side had been OK, and of course that is the first one we put in originally and then had to back that puppy out and it was stuck fast. Pops out and Buh-bye screw again . . .

Have I said how sucky this whole installation has turned out to be?) And we start in with the new screws – which pop out and fall down on the floor, (Uh oh,buh-bye screws! Can they not make these things magnetic? ) but not into the housing at least, so that is something. Up and down the ladder, but at least the cowl and fan are hanging from the hooks on the housing and Linda isn’t having to hold it over her head now, but she is past that sweet-spot of exhaustion and the adrenaline of listening to me cuss a blue streak and doing a bit of her own has gotten her wide awake, so we are in it to win it by this point. Yea, right. And I am going to win the Lotto too. Sigh.

Back up the ladder, we finally, finally got the bugger screwed into the housing, and TA-DA!!! The fan body is UP! Yeah, Baby!!!!

Rahr! Rarh! Rarh!Finally, finally up!!! I unscrew the plastic brackets that hold the fan motor in place from the holes where the fan blades are attached.

I grab a blade and Linda holds it while I start to screw them on. Got one screw in (Stupid! Why didn’t you remove one bracket at a time?!?! Now the stupid thing MOVES every time you try to put the blade on! Sigh) I get one in . . . but it is in the wrong hole, so now it doesn’t line up and I have to unscrew it and by now I am tired and sweaty and sore (again) and Linda is tired and sweaty and hysterically laughing (as if I am not, because a few years ago I could have done this in one afternoon all by myself, and damn, it sucks getting old and getting cancer and getting weak and did I mention getting old?) We give up, take showers, and hit the bed, and, well, now it is Tuesday, and I AM GETTING THAT SUCKER FINISHED TODAY, COME HELL OR HIGH WATER…..

So. How was your weekend?

The Secret Life of Plants

So, you have this really GREAT idea . . . .

But how are you going to fund it? Maybe it is music, or software, or a trip across the country to write a book on the weirdest animal life you can photograph. Maybe you want to do something good, like raise money for a music program for inner city children. What do you do?

Kickstart! I learned about Kickstarter when C.E. Murphy posted a Kickstart for her book “No Dominion” about my favorite secondary character in her series “The Walker Papers”. Gary is a 70-something cab driver with a great secret – his very best friend in the whole world is a Shaman. A reluctant Shaman, to be sure, but a Shaman who relies on him for stability, a helping hand, and the occasional sword arm when it is necessary. And hey, when he can occasionally ride with Cernunnos and the Wild Hunt, well, what else could an old football jock ask for?

Anyway, back to the point (I did tell you, at some point that my mind wanders, right?)

I ran across this Kickstarter project earlier today. What plant lover doesn’t want to know just what their plants are feeling, what their needs are at any one point? Are we feeding them well? Do they have enough water, nutrients and light?

public lab
Click pic to go to Kickstart for Infragram!

If we can’t talk to them and have them answer back, well, what about a type of “x-ray vision”? Well, Public Lab in Cambridge, MA (those Cambridge people are just SO Smart, aren’t they?) are working on a solution.

In their words, the Infragram is:

A simple, cheap infrared camera which can measure plant health — for geek gardeners, farmers, and open source DIY scientists.”

(BTW – I don’t know where the purple cottage photo originated, only that I found it on Pinterest – it is linked there – and thought “Now THAT is my dream home!”)

There is an amazing video on the site that explains how it works. Check it out! Maybe it will help me figure out why I can only grow weeds in my yard . . . well, it could be that I am sitting on a huge sand pile that used to be the bottom of an ocean, I suppose?

A big thanks to for the great photo!
A big thanks to for the great photo!

The Food of a Younger Land, by Mark Kurlansky

I am in the process of choosing new fruit trees for the yard, and am going through a company that provides heirloom fruit trees. I am so excited!

Blogging for a Good Book

Subtitled “A portrait of American food — before the national highway system, before chain restaurants, and before frozen food, when the nation’s food was seasonal, regional, and traditional–from the lost WPA files,” you must at least read the extremely interesting Introduction to this treasure mine sampled from what remains in the archives of America Eats, five dusty boxes of manuscript copy on onionskin.  Here Kurlansky showcases the best of what he uncovered, just as writer Merle Colby had hoped when writing the final report before the unedited, unpublished manuscripts were tucked away in the 1940s: “Here and there in America some talented boy or girl will stumble on some of this material, take fire from it, and turn it to creative use.”

The entries are informative and amusing excerpts from food writing and recipes gathered regionally for a federally funded writing project that employed out-of-work writers.  When spending priorities…

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