Archive | July, 2011

Find the Kitty Friday: Heat Wave Edition

July 29, 2011

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FTK7.29.11

I guess you could say the week is “in the bag.”

Man, it’s been hot. They say there are only two seasons in Upstate New York: winter and July. I’m really hoping the summer cools off, come August.

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When we came back from our day trip to New York City, I brought back a few goodies for the boys and for Livvy– she got the Macy’s bag. πŸ™‚

Macy’s, by the way, was INSANE. I hadn’t been there in 25 years, and looks like I haven’t missed much. I needed a sweatshirt to keep warm on the train ride home– the train was FREEZING all the way down to the city, and horribly uncomfortable. I figured I could pop in and out of some clothing store and grab a cheap jacket, like I used to in the “olden days” when I lived here in the 1980s. Boy, was I wrong.

Macy’s was totally packed, totally packed. This was on a Tuesday, so I can’t imagine what the place must be like on the weekends. Additionally, the entire store was plastered with advertisements– blinking, flashing, noisy billboards and video screens filled with immodest slithering bodies. Girls were lined up all along the aisles, thrusting bottles of perfume and soaps into the faces of passers by. It was intolerable, really. We left the place as soon as we could, as soon as we could turn around in the swirling, sweating mass of humanity and noise. Yuk!

It was good to be home. And Livvy was so happy to see us come back. She hopped into the bag as soon as I set it down. She has no idea the great sacrifices we made to get it for her. πŸ™‚

Happy weekend, friends. It’s SO GOOD to be back Upstate.

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Livvy and Light Bulbs

July 25, 2011

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LivvyTYping

She helps me tyyypep. She thnksshe”s being helpfull,

Gonna be away from the desk for a day or two. I’m going to learn all about light bulb technology, sponsored by The Home Depot! I am very curious about new products available for our lighting, since New York State is forcing us to use CFL bulbs next year. I’ll have a lot to share when I return. Stay cool!

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Blast From the Past, July Heat Wave Edition

July 22, 2011

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My son’s Biology course is finally over (the kid “A”ced it, too!!), so our summer has begun and our thoughts are turning toward wrapping up a few of the undone projects from last year’s renovation. I’m not planning any big projects this year– I tend to intersperse them every other year, for sanity’s sake! That, and I still have to pay off the kitchen renovation.

But we really can’t do much this week because of a very intense heat wave that’s hit the Northeast. I suffer in the heat, so I’m waiting until it passes before I attempt any projects. I remembered that about this time last year, we had a stretch of unusually hot weather, too. What were we doing then? I checked it out.

OH YEAH. Insulation.

Oh gosh, installing insulation in July is a nasty job. You have to wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, dust masks…. and the fiberglass seems to shake loose from the batts and go right for your face. But the job is SO WORTH it come winter. The house has never been toastier. Ever.

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kitcheninsulation

We also installed our plumbing about this time. We used the new-fangled material, PEX. It’s a very stiff plastic material, a suitable replacement for the super-expensive copper.

PEXinwall

PEXmanifold

Have you heard about all the copper thefts going on? There’s been quite a bit in my area. These jerks will raid an entire house, ripping out the plumbing so they can sell the copper at the scrap yards. When we went to the scrapyard to sell our old copper pipes, the scrap yard took my husband’s driver’s license information! Apparently, the cops are monitoring the flow of copper in the area.

Did you notice how the husband installed the PEX into such lovely rings? πŸ˜€ I love the PEX manifold system. When we went away for a week-long vacation out of state, turning off the water supply was a piece of cake. And when we have to turn off the water supply to a fixture, all we have to do is turn the valve at the manifold.

Going over these photos is somewhat therapeutic for me. I’m not getting any new projects completed, and I feel somewhat low about that, from time to time. It’s easy to get discouraged with so many small (but important) things to do yet. Looking over the photos helps me remember how far we’ve come. I’m really praying that next year, we tackle the upstairs level. And get new windows. After that, it’s just the exterior and yard!!! Oh, and maintenance. :-p

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Compost Bins | Energy Efficient Compost Bins | NatureMill

July 21, 2011

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From time to time, I like to feature a guest post when someone has something informative to offer and when I’m too lazy busy to write anything. This guest post about compost bins is brought to you by the cool dudes at NatureMill Compost Bins.

Making Energy Efficient NatureMill Compost Bins A Priority In Your Home

Despite all our best go green efforts in this country, food recycling still needs a healthy boost into our collective consciousness. Even though food represents one of the easiest recyclable resources, nearly half of all solid trash collecting in our landfills is in the form of food waste. To some, the process of composting seems labor intensive and it’s thought this is why food recycling isn’t more of a priority. Other homes admit being deterred by the apparent contradiction of utilizing electric compost bins and draining the earth’s natural resources in an effort to repurpose food waste.

Green Model Compost Bins: An Eco-Friendly Must Have

Fortunately, simplifying the composting process with an electric compost bin and preserving our world’s precious natural resources can work together side by side. Choosing an energy efficient compost bin from NatureMill minimizes the compost bin’s environmental impact with designs that run on fewer than 5 watts of power every day. The compost bin ensures the most efficient composting process for your home. With a typical expense of less than $.50 each month, it’s easy to see how a NatureMill compost bin can revamp the way your family views composting.

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Name That Weed

July 19, 2011

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Befuddled by the billions of weeds cluttering your yard or garden beds? Curious about that odd-looking herb or a nasty plant that stubbornly resists your weed-thwarting efforts? Check out the garden.org/weedlibrary National Gardening Association Weed Library for identifying that plant. This is a very valuable resource for me. Not only do I have a lot of plants around the homestead, particularly weeds, but the kids are always doing something or another for their science courses.

I haven’t done ANY gardening (yet) this year. It’s just been too busy. Hopefully, we’ll do some major weed-pulling in a few weeks. This is what lies ahead of us….

weedsgalore

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Find the Kitty Friday July 15

July 15, 2011

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I wasn’t planning on having any Find the Kitty post today, because she’s not been hiding AT ALL lately. It’s been so hot that usually she’s sprawled entirely across the floor, stretched out so every bit of fur is not sticking to another.

That makes me wonder– do cats sweat? How do they perspire extra heat??

Anyway, here’s the photo. Can you find here?

FTK7.15.11

Sorry it’s so dark. She caught me quite by surprise in her new hiding spot, and even stood still for a few seconds to let me snap the photo!!!

Have a blessed weekend, folks.

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Break Out the Blowtorches, Hogweed is Here

July 11, 2011

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Even the name insinuates the most noxious, insidious killer to lately crawl out of Asian cargo ships onto our purple-mountain majesty coasts: The Giant Hogweed!

It’s heeeeere! It’s native to Central Asia and it’s spreading toward the northeast. It’s already established in Michigan and Indiana. New reports are showing the unwelcome visitor arriving in Pennsylvania and New York State.

The Giant Hogweed is an invasive species, a member of the carrot and parsnip family. (I knew there was a good reason why I hate carrots!!). However, this family member grows to be a lot taller than Bugs Bunny’s meal of choice. The hogweed can grow to be 15 feet tall and 15 feet wide. It produces a disgusting number of seeds, too, to ensure that it ruins as much property as possible. *sigh* The British initially brought the hogweed home from Asia in the 19th century, planting it as an “ornamental” plant in special gardens. But like The Blob, Jurassic Park, and Killer Bees, things *kinda* got out of control and the species escaped captivity. Oopsie.

The hogweed has lace-like flowers very similar to Queen Anne’s Lace. The leaves resemble large, jagged dandelion leaves and the plant would almost be pretty were it not for one small problem: it’s viciously poisonous.

The plant produces a sap that burns human skin. God forbid it should get in the eye, or blindness can occur. According to the University of Illinois Extension:

Characteristics include hollow stems, between two and four inches in diameter, with dark reddish-purple splotches and coarse white hairs. Leaves are compound, lobed, deeply incised and may grow up to five feet in width. Flowers appear from mid-May through July. As with other members of the carrot family, the flower heads are umbrella-shaped, up to 2Β½-feet in diameter across a flat top with numerous small flowers.

The Giant Hogweed is sometimes mixed up with other members of the parsnip/carrot family. My husband came home wondering if he’d seen a hogweed planted by a mailbox, but the flowers were yellow. I think he probably saw wild parsnip. Other very similar plants are cow parsnip, wild carrot, poison hemlock and angelica.

Giant Hogweed has a thick, tuberous stem with very wide white lace flowers. It exudes a clear, sticky sap that causes photodermatitis. Skin contact followed by exposure to sunlight can cause severe burns and blisters that become purple or black blotches and scar the skin. VERY nasty.

I just don’t know how the Chinese manage, with all these horribly toxic plants and bugs that float around over there. In my opinion, I’d rather manufacture our goods here in the U.S.A. and avoid all the extra baggage in the cargo crates. 😐

Anyway, the Giant Hogweed is a “federal noxious weed” and therefore it is illegal to propagate, sell, or transport the plant. Do not pull, mow, or chop down the weed with a weed whacker. Doing so will release the sap. And, since the plant is a perennial weed (which means it will grow again even after the entire planet has been decimated by nuclear war), the Giant Hogweed will just keep coming back for more. Think of this plant as Bishop Weed from hell.

If you see the Giant Hogweed, alert the authorities. Who ya gonna call? The GIANT HOGWEED HOTLINE! I’m putting this number in my speed dial, people: 845-256-3111. If you see hogweed, call them. A hazmat team will arrive via black helicopters and blow the smithereens out of the noxious weed. YEAH, BABY.

OK, I jest. A hazmat team is *probably* not required. Nor are the black helicopters, but hey– black helicopters have descended upon DVD pirates in the local ‘hood, so ya never know….. this is a “federal noxious weed,” after all….

Some photos and information courtesy of hyg.ipm.illinois.edu/article.php?id=80

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Sedentary Exploits

July 9, 2011

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I’m doing a lot of armchair traveling this year, I tell you.

Sedentary Exploits

Exercise, what’s that?

Well, the Hubs just assembled, primed and painted two new Adirondack chairs and — let me tell you — they are some of the most comfortable chairs ever. I wrote an article on them last month. The history is fascinating. About a hundred years ago, a wealthy vacationer (to the Adirondacks, you guessed it!) named Thomas Lee suddenly found himself devoid of lawn chairs for his large family, and attempted to build his own. He created many prototypes, asking his 26-member family to try them all out and vote for the best. The family unanimously voted for this type of chair: the back reclines slightly and the knees are elevated above the hips. Wide armrests beg to hold big icy glasses of tea or lemonade. His chair was a hit. Lee gave his design to a local carpenter, Harry Bunnell, who needed some work for the winter. But the carpenter patented the design himself and started a business, building and selling the chairs, flourished with his own signature. Not very nice. Bunnell manufactured Adirondack chairs for 20 years, made from local hemlock and inscribing his name on each. I suppose the chairs, if any exist, are collector’s items, eh?

Mine are made in China from cheapo pine. But they are comfy nonetheless.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of lounging to do. Happy weekend. πŸ™‚

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The Silent Summer: No Crickets, No Peepers!

July 5, 2011

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Something very strange has happened. I realized it the other night while I outside in the backyard during twilight. The entire yard and forest and small creek that runs next door is completely silent. Completely silent!

No crickets. No spring peepers. Nothing. I have never experienced anything like it since I’ve lived here. Besides the mosquitoes quietly whirring around us, the only forest activity was the lightning bugs, blinking their lights in utter silence.

This is my backyard. Behind that scraggly brush is a small rivulet that fills with peepers every spring. There’s no sign of my beloved musical friends there this year.

closedeer2

At dusk, the area is usually ablaze with sounds. The crickets usually chirp so loudly that they challenge the sounds of the busy streets. And the peepers– those tiny little frogs that exhale high-pitched raspy whistles– are gone. Everything is SILENT.

I found a video recording of peepers in the northeast. This is what my neighborhood SHOULD be sounding like:

I’m devastated!! What happened?! I have lived here for over 14 years and nothing like this has ever happened. Was it the awful April flooding that swept my critters away? Is it some kind of pesticide or toxic chemical that has been sprayed in the forest and has descended into my neighborhood? Is there some evil raccoon gang or other monstrous creatures that have eaten all my precious nightly musicians in some kind of perverse thuggery??

This spring and summer has been weird, simply weird. I feel forlorn, bereft of a very necessary ecological foundation. It just ain’t summertime without the peepers. πŸ™

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Scairdy Cat on Fourth of July

July 4, 2011

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Oh she’s a BIG BAD PUMA when she’s outside. But put on a great big Uncle Sam hat for the Fourth of July, and Livvy’s a little baby cat who needs her mommy. LOL.

ScairtyCat

My husband got a huge patriotic hat for Independence Day. Think “Cat in the Hat” size. Yeah, it actually spooked me, too, when I first saw it. He wore it for the first time around Livvy today, and this is her reaction.

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ScairtyCat2

ScarityCat3

Good thing we don’t have fireworks!

She’s so cute when she’s spooked. πŸ˜€

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