Thursday, August 25, 2011

As Hurricane Season Begins

The beloved Eric Cantor lets us know that FEMA will be there for us if the budget can be cut enough in other areas.

Really? I don't know whether to laugh or cry. We'll see how that plays with the damage from the recent East Coast earthquake, followed by Irene heading for the Carolinas right now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stop in the Name of Health

I could not resist sharing this video - am amusing treatment of a serious issue:

I picked it up over at Granny Peace Brigade Where you can find all kinds of info for us old liberals!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Before Summer is Over

Summer is slipping away faster than I could have imagined. I saw a flock of robins yesterday - always my first inkling of fall's arrival. I know the summer weather is not over, but the nights are getting steadily cooler and it can't be long until the days are cooler too. It's been an odd summer  - I have only been on my bicycle once, and although I have gone to the beach quite often I have yet to find any swimsuits or even look for them among the boxes. My "Florida" summer clothes are still in their special bag packed in with my other summer clothes.  I'm in a folding pattern, waiting to settle into my new home.

I have GOT to stop using my ice cream maker still in it's packing box as an end table and make some ice cream! There are a lot of really good ice cream places on the Cape, but they are really expensive, and many of them are only open in the summer. I could make a half gallon of delicious gourmet ice cream for the price of one of their cones. I ran across this recipe this morning and not only does it sound super tasty but it also looks festive and beautiful: Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream Tartufi | thelittleloaf The first day I spend in our new house knowing I won't be leaving at the end of the weekend I will be making ice cream, and quite possibly from this very recipe!

Last night I met my Stitch 'N Bitch buddies for knitting at sunset on South Cape Beach, which includes Mashpee Town Beach. I had not seen my knitting friends for a few weeks and it was just so encouraging and restoring. I have not known them long but missed meeting up so much. Some people were not able to come (I'm looking at YOU, Pat!) but no matter who comes it's always just who I needed to see. I've cast on for the first of the Super Secret Christmas Projects, so let the wild rumpus begin!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Creating Beauty All Around

Today Steve the painter came back to begin on the trim. To my great pleasure he started on the living room trim, where it had painted with flat band aid colored paint. It was the ugliest color combination ever, and looked even worse against the beautiful new floors. Today the trim is mostly white. It will definitely need another coat, but it already looks better and the room looks mysteriously bigger, even though the wall color has not changed at all.  We are going to use existing furniture and art, so all we'll need here once the walls are painted is a rod and drapes. It's close to being livable.

Roxy had a beauty treatment today too, although she was not looking forward to it and almost certainly did not enjoy it. I took her and Mitzi to Petco to have their nails trimmed. Mitzi has been to the groomer a couple of times this year, and i would have thought they would trim her nails as part of the service, but she still needed a trim. I can't remember the last time I had Roxy's nails trimmed. In Oklahoma City she has a daily walk on pavement and that kept her nails filed down. Dirt roads and the beach do not provide that service. Her nails were getting long enough to be uncomfortable to her.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Paint Day

Please note the color of the old trim!
Today my painter came to start on the trim and ceilings. Steve did all of the ceilings today, and tomorrow he starts in on the trim. I can hardly wait, because the trim in my living room is flat paint the color of band-aids. Just gruesome. My downstairs neighbor in Columbus, Ohio had walls that color once by accident as a result of mixing together every partial can of spare paint (her husband was the super). I can't imagine selecting that color on purpose!  It sets off the flesh toned pinky-beige of the walls to perfection. Our house really was maintained well so I shouldn't complain, but the painted surfaces are not any colors I would have chosen.
Roxanne trying out the comfort of drop cloths
While the painter  was here our contractor came over and now I know where the other key to the house is hidden. If only I'd known that the two days I climbed into the kitchen window! I'm pretty sure the neighbors now think I am a crazy person or a felon.

Between bouts of nail, screw and window blind removal I've been watching a Curb Appeal: The Block marathon. Oh how I wish someone would knock on my door offering a $20,000.00 makeover for my front yard! By next spring we should have most of our indoor projects done except for those waiting for financing and we'll be ready to tackle some landscaping projects in the front yard.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Happy Ikea Day

Gratuitous Dog Picture
Today Shana and I took advantage of the Massachusetts sales tax holiday to purchase my bookcases at Ikea in Stoughton. This is the only Ikea in Massachusetts; it is an hour away and off Cape. That makes it more than a casual visit, so I had not been there yet. The very idea of it was so thrilling that I gave up a meeting with my Stitch 'n Bitch to make the trip. I sat down at the computer with my measurements and worked out which units would fit in my space - floor to ceiling and around the corner in my alcove. When I was sure I had it down I checked to see that all were in stock at my store and printed out my shopping list. This is a great feature of the Ikea website, because then you have the price including tax and you are certain you have the item numbers right.

My Bookcases and My Pepsi
Oddly enough, we were not the only people who had put Ikea at the top of the tax free shopping list. There were police and Ikea people directing traffic outside. Inside we did not have that advantage. When we started out Shana was trying to keep me from lollygagging along in front of people, but eventually she just had to give up because it was "City of the Lost Lollygaggers" in there. I got the pickup locations for the items on my list with the stock numbers for the color I decided on after I got to the store (so much for my shopping list!) and we wandered around checking out the other offerings. I thought we were extremely restrained - in addition to my bookcases we only picked up a magnetic knife rack, some drapes for the kitchen sliders, and a mat for our yet-to-be-tiled shower in the shape of an alligator.  To be fair, we did not look at everything in the store. We were worn out by traffic and din in about an hour and a half, and I stood in line at the home delivery desk for about half an hour after that. I had thought that maybe we could take them back with us and save the delivery fee, but the boxes are much longer than I can accommodate and I did not want to drive back with nearly three hundred pounds tied to my roof with twine in light rain. That just did not seem to be the best plan ever.
The Line for Home Delivery

After we got back to the Cape I picked up a box of finishing nails and a nail set to replace our baseboards, and our orgy of spending was over. The tax savings on the interior paint we bought Saturday and the Ikea purchases paid for about half of our delivery charges, so we were very pleased even though they won't deliver my order for about ten days. That will give me time to paint my library and get ready to see my beloved books again.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Some Things Never Change

I can remember my first yo-yo. I believe it was purchased at Atlantic Mills, one of the lost discount stores of the 60's. My proudest achievement with the toy is "around the world".  Somehow it never looked like this young man's interpretation! It is encouraging that these contests are still being held.

Tomorrow I am going on a pilgrimage to Ikea to look at book shelves - be still my heart!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Learning to Recycle

Since I have moved to Cape Cod my interest in recycling has grown enormously. Out in Oklahoma there is not so much emphasis on recycling and conservation in general. Out there there are plenty of places to throw something away. Here on the Cape there is no "away". There is no permanent dump - everything we throw away must be carried off-cape. In an effort to increase revenues at the Falmouth Transfer Station a $2.50 per bag fee was assessed - instead of increased revenues the amount of trash brought in decreased by 90%. maybe the visitors took their trash back off cape to toss in the cheaper municipal trash collection services there.  Maybe they rethought their usage patterns. Those of us who live here year round assess what comes into the house, maybe only because of the inconvenience or the expense of disposal.  The key is not to "buy green", although that might be an improvement. The goal is to buy less, to reuse and repurpose what comes into the house, to waste less. We recycle, we compost, we buy second hand. If you buy a new "green" organic cotton T shirt you will have contributed less than if you make do with what you have - swap it out with a friend so you each have a shirt you are less tired of, remake it by dying or restyling it into something fresh, or just continue to use it a bit longer. Make it into  cleaning rags when it is too far gone instead of buying paper towels no matter how "green" a brand you buy.

When I was a child there was not as much plastic around as there is now, and I am readjusting my thinking to use much less of it. the film below is one reason why:

Another reason is that we have found out that these plastic products are not necessarily good or safe for us to use.

New living room floor with tools
In an inconsistent note, my house remodel goes on. Floors are almost completely installed in the living room and bedroom (one box short of product so installers will have to come back Tuesday to finish), painting starts Monday. Although we are installing new floors, counters, and tile, I feel like we are true to some of the goals of a smaller carbon footprint. We have selected a modest size of house, suitable for two people and a dog. We have selected materials which are renewable and non toxic. We are not installing completely unneeded central air conditioning and instead will use a window unit for those few weeks when it is very warm. Our driveways are gravel and sand, which will not impede  rainwater from  being absorbed into the soil instead of being diverted into storm drains. Much of our furniture is carried forward from our former houses or family homes, recovered or repainted as needed. What possessions we did not move were  recycled to family homes or sold in our garage sale - almost nothing was thrown away. Second hand is the greenest sort of purchase !I'm not perfect. I have a long way to go before I can really call myself environmentally conscious, but I am moving forward. I have to - we all do.

Hot Stuff Roxy!
Roxanne has had a lovely day - with the workmen here both of the doors have been open all afternoon and she has been idling around the yard all by herself with no leash. So spoiled!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Things are Happening

As of today all of the old flooring which will be removed is gone (well, some of it is sitting outside on the deck), and some of the new flooring is in. We had kitchen flooring installed last week, and hardwood flooring installation started today. When I got here this morning most of the carpeting was gone, and some additional sub-floor had been installed. This afternoon they removed the last of the carpeting and started installing our beautiful new bamboo floor. It looks lighter on the website than it does in person. The two installers started in the hall, which is probably the most time consuming part of the job, with several doors and door moldings to be adjusted for. The rest should go in tomorrow, just in time for us to enjoy it for the weekend. This will be a massive improvement over the sub-floor covered in old peel and stick adhesive we had last week. Of course there was a failure to communicate between the designer and contractors, so I ended up with a  lot of quarter round which I will not need. If only they would talk to each other my life would be so much easier. We also did not end up with the transition molding I need to get between to kitchen and the hall, but the installers seem to think they can fabricate what is needed from scraps of the flooring. Also my painter comes Monday and I need the baseboard to be in before he comes. Guess who will be doing that job over the weekend? Shana will surely have a heart attack to see me doing that, but too bad! I think that white baseboard finished with the dark quarter round will look great. The old baseboard is numbered, so I should be able to make that work. And it will be a great excuse to purchase a miter box and a conveniently small saw. I'd really like a reciprocating saw...

Whenever flooring is removed lots of surprises come to light. I knew that there had been at one time a wood burning fireplace in the basement, but I did not know it had been connected to the front bedroom. The hole for the vent had just been carpeted over, waiting for one of us to put a foot in the hole! Other than that no untoward things were discovered, so unless there is a similar hole in the guest room we should have no more surprises.  A similar hole in the guest room would not cause any trouble because the headboards are against that wall (for now; the feng shua is not great) so no foot traffic will be going that way.

The little issue of the severed floor joists in the basement has been resolved, so we are golden except for that one little issue of having no bathroom at the moment. On the trip to Home Depot this weekend to look at possible book shelving I will pick up some tubing to hook up my dehumidifier to the drain and that should make everything easy peasy. I was kind of hoping for built in book shelves, but it looks like that will have to wait a bit. If I can just get them all out of boxes and onto some kind of shelves I think I'll be happy with that for a while.

I am running out of gratuitous dog pictures, so obviously I will have to take some more! This picture of Roxy is in her favorite basket. She and Mitzi share this one, so she'll have to have her own for the new house because it is her favorite hangout these days.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

I Need More Mariachi Music

 When I lived in Oklahoma I heard a lot of Mariachi music not only in the ubiquitous local and excellent Mexican restaurants but even emanating from cars on the street. I never really thought I enjoyed it, but apparently I developed an appreciation for the genre. This beluga whale seems to enjoy it too!

We are looking at August 25 as our tentative move in date for the new house. It's good to at least have some kind of date in mind, even if it's later than I expected it to be. Typical of big projects there are cost overruns and frustration but I think it will look great and over the long haul we will be glad we did it. Today we start kitchen floor installation - I imagine I will just have ugly scraped floor today but improved appearance tomorrow. I can't wait to see some of the new surfaces we've paid for appear in our house!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

By the Shining Sea

I had time today to try out one of Cape Cod's many bike paths, and chose the Shining Sea Bikeway which extends 10 miles from North Falmouth to Woods Hole. It's a good choice for a casual ride: a twenty mile out and back ride with plenty of places to stop along the way if you like. There are benches along the way, even a water fountain near Woods Hole. If you are taking a really casual ride you can stop for lunch or ice cream at one of a number of places close to the path. There are even a number of places with parking lots to access the path, so you can select a shorter section to ride if you prefer.

The Shining Sea Bikeway is almost totally flat, and runs through a variety of areas. It runs through residential areas where you can have a peek into people's gardens and back yards, through the Great Sippewisset Marsh (with benches and informational placards), through the back side of Falmouth, and finally past the beach and into Woods Hole.  The weather today was warm and brilliant - couldn't ask for better.

A lot of it is shaded and it's flatness, makes it an excellent choice for families, skaters, and walkers of all levels of ability. It's really popular, but I did not find it too crowded in the middle of a weekday for an enjoyable ride. I did it quite comfortably on my mountain bike, but the number of people using it might make it uncomfortable to do on my road bike unless I started super early in the morning. It's not really suitable for fast riders in the middle of the day. I'll be trying a lot of the Cape's many bikeways, but the beauty and convenience of this one will bring me back to it again for sure.

I now have wood flooring in boxes in my living room and blueboard in the shower - tomorrow I may actually have the beginnings of a kitchen floor. Shana and I plan to sleep over there this weekend - we'll have to bring a flashlight to go to the bathroom out in the yard after dark!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Why Cowboys and Aliens Doesn't Work

I thought when I saw the trailers that the best part of Cowboys and Aliens would be the title, and it turns out I was right. I actually paid full price to see it yesterday and I am therefore kicking myself around the house.

Shana and I agreed that the movie was boring, but we were not sure why. Part of it was because it was just that some scenes were way too long. In special effects movies I imagine there is a temptation to want to use as much of the "exciting" footage as possible because it cost so much. In fact from my perspective, they lose impact by letting the scene go on so long that the viewer can hardly wait for it to be over. (This may not be true of the target audience of 18 year old boys) The movie also lacked anything like character development. We did not know these people or what relationship they had with each other. Almost no screen time was "wasted" on character exposition. Whether this was because the scenes that would have established this were sacrificed to put more action scenes on the screen or because there was no character in the screenplay I do not know, but ultimately the result was that we really did not care about these people.  We were not invested in them and because we did not know them we could not be surprised or interested in anything they did.

It might seem nit-picky to point out issues of believability in what is so obviously a fantasy, but I think even the wildest of inventions must have internal logic to carry a story.  If you send space aliens into a preindustrial society in flying machines the characters should be surprised, terrified, awestruck - anything but the bland and stoic reactions shown here. Even during the (pointless) alien attack I did not see terror - only surprise and distress. As the townsmen ride out to save their family members why are they not at the very least saying "what the hell was that?" or speculation about where they came from or what the machines were? Given the backwater nature of the town some of the people would never have even seen a train, let alone alien spacecraft. The characters are bored and so are we. They are not surprised by the appearance of the aliens - because we are not surprised. They are literal copies of the current tropes of alien appearance - little and green for good, insectoid and large for evil.

Every hackneyed plot device was employed, every stereotype of race or class displayed, every inconsistency including anachronism used to bad effect.  Daniel Craig looked great, but neither he nor anyone else bothered to vary their facial expression. A waste of their time and mine.

As is no doubt glaringly obvious, all photos today are unrelated to each other or this post - just some pictures from March that I had not shared yet.