Wednesday, June 30, 2010

That'll be another $200, please.

Oh happy day, the septic tank guy came today to empty our tank. But first he visited each of our neighbors. Boy, we REALLY need to get our house number posted at the foot of the driveway again!

100_1973When he had finished, he said he had good news…and bad news…The good news? Well, our 500 gallon tank was now nice and empty. Hooray! The bad news? We need a new “outlet baffle filter”. Wha’…? Allow me, Princess Groundy Pants, to enlighten those of you on municipal water about the merits of the magic outlet baffle filter.



The goal of the filter is to prevent stuff like TP and whatnot from accidentally going through the outlet pipe and into the leach field, thereby ruining said leach field.

Apparently, the parts themselves aren’t expensive. It’s never the parts, though, is it? It’s always the labor. The septic guy explained that this should happen pronto, since the first step involves pumping out the tank – since we just did that not six hours ago, we called and scheduled this to happen tomorrow. The septic guy also explained that as you never want to see a plumber with a shovel in his hand – unless burning dollar bills is your idea of fun – we should dig out around the tank to expose the outlet pipe, since that may well need to be cut as part of the process.

Do y’all remember the last time we had to dig around the septic tank? Fall, 2007? Anyone? Kevin dug five big holes…and then one nine-foot trench…looking for the tank. Yes, the chorus is coming around now on the guitar, so all together now, “WITH A BROKEN SHOULDER”.

Ever since last summer’s construction project, the cap to the septic tank has been exposed, and Thus Shall It Ever Be, Because We Are Not Going Through That Again.

Except, where exactly is that outlet pipe?


Somewhere around here…

Oh, you should have seen our efforts to peek inside the newly-empty tank to see if we could spot the hole from the inside. I taped a mirror to the end of a shovel…we poked around with a shovel, inside the tank…coat hangers were involved…nada, zip, zilch.

Finally, Kevin hit gold.


So in the picture above…he’s sitting on the heavy-duty plastic lid of the tank, which is itself maybe a foot and a half high – so he’s dug a foot and a half down, just to get to the top surface of the tank, which his feet are resting on. And then another foot or so down, in a four foot arc around the edge of the tank, before hitting the pipe, which is that white-ish thing his shovel is touching.

100_1991 FOR FUTURE REFERENCE…saved, forever, on the Interwebs, here is where that damn outflow pipe is. SHEESH!



We covered it with a tarp for now.


While I do things like, create blog posts, and probe my innermost psyche for demons and whatnot, Kevin gets work done around here. Here’s the current status of the woodpile, for instance.

100_1988 And here are the cantaloupe and melon plants, going all wild with luxuriant growth.

(You’ll notice I haven’t posted pictures of any of the lettuce or basil. There is a reason for that. I am too shame-filled to discuss it right now.)

100_1983 Yeah, the only things I’m good at growing would appear to be the things I didn’t intend to grow. This is our compost pile. All that vivid green stuff? Those are potato plants. Some friends of ours came to dinner some months back and brought us a bag of potatoes. We ate most of ‘em, but the few we didn’t get to sent shoots out, which I didn’t discover until this one night I was jonesing for potatoes. Ooops. Into the compost pile they went, and they’ve been very happy ever since.

Now, I HAVE been enjoying other life forms…such as this mystery egg sac that was on the red dandelion leaves from this week’s CSA haul…


This is a first! I wonder what they are…they’ve gone to live on the potato farm. Only one snail today, no slugs. Oh, and I found another snail, on the inside of the compost bucket, up in the filter – presumably from last week.

Last but not least, here was today’s hair-do.

100_1980 I just want to make my mother proud of me, is all…

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

so long, farewell…

Today was a marathon errand running affair.

First, Kevin and I finished cleaning out CABA’s office. He got the carpet down into the dumpster, while I swept and vacuumed.

0629101345a I have a lot of fond memories of this office. Back in the days when CABA’s Evening Care program was supported by three grants that were run through the Town – when I was the Town’s Grants Manager – Patrick and I spent a lot of time together. Usually, we were plotting the overthrow of the free world and performing quality control tests on all chocolate chip cookies and coffee sold within a three-block radius. But to be fair, we spent a fair bit of time puzzling over various obscure grant agreement provisions and reporting requirements. Patrick made that job fun. (Hi, dude!)

It was also in this room that Kevin and I first started to get to know each other.

0629101346b So we smooched.

We also took a bunch of old computer crap to the dump…gave a 27” TV to a total stranger…took the chainsaw in to be tuned up…got groceries…and finally came home in the late afternoon.

I powered through a three mile run. I wasn’t wearing a watch, but I think I achieved near Mach 1 speeds.

This guy was on hand to greet me when I got home:

0629101756a“There’s nothing like a beetle when you’re feeling depressed”, said the god. (Terry Pratchett “The Last Continent”)

Just how big is this bug? To give you a sense of scale, the strip of window frame that he (she?) is starting to nuzzle, is 3/4” wide. So, at least 1.5 inches long.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

a most busy day

We had a busy day scheduled, which for us, means “we had this one particular thing planned” at 11 am. And we’d talked about taking the kayaks out in the afternoon. Thus, feeling virtuous and organized, I got up early to get the run out of the way. I was supposed to do some complicated kind of timed mile, but lacking any interest in verifying that I am, in fact, a slowpoke, I just ran four miles instead.

I met Lewis and Olive, the two black lab puppies in residence at last year’s CSA. They were very polite, and each attempted to swallow my hand, whole.

Then we did our 11 o’clock gig, which involved two friends (you know who you are; aren’t you glad I’m keeping your identity top-secret?), four vehicles, lots of illegal parking in front of a fire hydrant, and many boxes of files.

And then…in the afternoon…


Ahhhh…finally. The Connecticut River, facing north.



Sweetpea, aka “Biker Dude”



Here we are sneaking up on New Hampshire. We waved. Actually, Kevin’s holding out four fingers. This is because we are turning four soon – as in, our 4th anniversary – and we’ve been proudly going, “WE’RE FOUR!!!” like we’re little kids, randomly, all day long now. What can I say…we’re easily amused.







We got home and got the boats off the truck, and look who was hanging out in Kevin’s boat…a red eft. The boats were out on the lawn for a while, so maybe he accompanied Kevin the whole trip? Who knows.


Sylvester was happy to see us. He’s pretty cool. He keeps an eye on me and I tell him how cute he is.


OK, this picture probably makes no sense. It’s the side of the pull-out pantry cabinet in our kitchen. The yellow and green vertical lines at left are floor mops that live between the fridge (out of frame to the left), and the cabinet. The splotch in the middle is a SNAIL. It must have escaped the produce box from the CSA last Wednesday and made a break for it. I pried it off and tossed it onto the hostas outside. It looked a little dessicated. Poor guy!

Friday, June 25, 2010

But what about elevensies?

You may recall that the cats are on serious diets. Gone are the days of the Meow Mix free-for-all. I’m getting the hang of feeding them properly. And now, for the “Lord of the Rings” fans…

Strider: Gentlemen, we do not stop till nightfall.

Pippin: What about breakfast?

Strider: You've already had it!

Pippin: We've had one, yes.  What about second breakfast?

Merry: I don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip.

Pippin: But what about elevensies?  Luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper?  He knows about them, doesn't he?

Merry: I wouldn't count on it...

Maggie is Strider: an efficient warrior. She wolfs down her food super fast, finishing before Charlie, and immediately heads over to his bowl to start in on his food. (A raised eyebrow and “Maggie…” generally stops her.) She only eats breakfast and dinner and doesn’t seem to get hungry in between.

Charlie, on the other hand, is more like Pippin. He’s the kind of guy who, when he can’t think of what he wants to do next, sits down for a couple of bites. We’ve reached an accommodation. I feed him more often, but smaller portions.

So far, so good.

In other news: remember how I said the cantaloupe plants have gotten all crazy busy?


Look at the size of the guy in the middle. He (she?) started off the same size as the one in the top left corner.


The watermelons, not to be outdone, are sending out runners. See the four-leaved bit on the right? That was a tiny, two-leaf add-on to the main plant, just a couple of days ago.

Everyone’s busy around here. Kevin’s been working on converting the woodpile into stacked wood.



Maggie’s been on chipmunk duty. Hey, what do you think of our lawn? Nice, huh?

And now for the color commentary:


I found a robin’s egg in the driveway on my way out for my run today. I love this color!

100_1972 I just noticed something today: the consistency of Kevin’s taste in colors over time. This is his Magic Quantum Hammer, made by my soul-sister Michele. She made boatloads of them in all kinds of colors, and this is the one he picked out. It’s sitting on a hammock he bought about 12 years ago. Cool, huh?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oh, yeah, my blog.

It was getting dark this evening, and Maggie was out prowling around, refusing to come inside. It’ll be a full moon in a couple of days, so no doubt the excitement is building for our little nocturnal beastie.

Kevin joined me at the melon/cantaloupe patch. Remember how all the cantaloupes flowered the other day? Well, they’ve just exploded in growth. I didn’t have the camera with me, plus it was getting dark –so I’ll post a picture tomorrow. No cat. We went back in.

I went out again, later, with the flashlight. “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie…”. And then I heard Kevin calling me from inside the house. Beastie was on the club chair in the front room, where she’d been for a couple of hours, quietly minding her own business.



We are the proud caretakers of these ginormous cucumbers from the CSA. To give you an indication of what we’re dealing with, the one on the far left is 14 inches long. We each need to eat a half cucumber a day to get through these. Discipline, troops, discipline. It can be done.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On Addiction

Oh crap, I’ve gotten completely hooked on this girl’s blog. Where has the day gone? What did I do today? Oh, I made cheesecake, that’s right. In honor of sweetpea’s birthday yesterday. (We knew we’d be out at the Simba concert last night, so all B-Day Feasting is occurring tonight.)

The recipe I had was from my mom (and grandma, before her), and it called for 12 ounces of cream cheese. So, I threw that, a couple of eggs, some sugar, some vanilla, into the magic blender, and poured it all into the graham cracker crust. And…it just didn’t seem like enough. It covered the bottom of the crust, but barely. “Well, THAT won’t do,” I said to myself.

No worries - I made another half-batch of the filling (because for reasons of inattention during the recipe-reading-and-cream-cheese purchasing phase, I had a veritable boatload of cream cheese at the ready), and dumped that on top. And thought, “that’s still not enough. Screw it, I’m using up the rest of cream cheese”.

So I get everything out of the fridge and commence to making up a third batch of filling. It was while I was measuring everything out for this batch that I realized two things, simultaneously.

#1. I’d screwed up the proportions on the half-batch of filling I’d already added to the original pie. It had too much egg and sugar. And it was just floating on top of the first full batch, not really incorporated. Ooops.

#2. If I added a full dose of filling to this already 1.5 x normal size pie, it would dramatically throw off the necessary cooking time. And I don’t know how to tell if a cheesecake is done, as I’ve never made one before. Crap. Crap, crap, crap.

So, I figured, I guess I’m making TWO cheesecakes now. That means making another graham cracker crust. FINE. Be that way.

Just for kicks, I added a can of pumpkin and some pumpkin pie spice to the second one. And I added the sour cream/sugar topping to the first one. 


Here’s the pumpkin one – fresh out of the oven. It sank down a bit once it had cooled down for a few minutes.

They’re both in the fridge now, cooling down.

Then I had the stupid idea of looking up the nutritional content of the first pie, on this cool website.

 What was I thinking


whoa nellie

Wow. Holy cow. That’s a lot of…wow.

In other news, all the cantaloupe plants flowered today!



The daylilly buds are still busy.


Hurry up, raspberries – you’d go great on a cheesecake…


One of the tomato plants has gotten taller than its cage-thingy. Nobody’s ripe yet, though.

Ho hum. I wonder if they’re cooled down enough by now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

happy birthday, my love, and happy solstice to the rest of youse


Me and Mom. It was lovely to see you, Mom!
(Doesn’t she look great?)


Me after my (ahem) 11.35 mile run today. Only 1.75 miles to go! Woo-hoo!

So to back up - I got up at 5:45 this morning and ate a banana with a little peanut butter. Then I crawled back into bed for an hour to absorb more soul nutrition from the slumbering Kevin, aka THE BIRTHDAY BOY!!!

And then I headed out on my run, which would have happened yesterday, only I was busy taking Mom to the airport.  The first section of the run, a 4.7 mile loop, was a Royal Pain in the Scalp, as my scalp was apparently the only form of entertainment available to all the flies in Windham County. My theory is, it’s my long ponytail. In essence, I look like a horse’s butt. Yep. This made me Very Cranky. The second part of the run – which started at the mailboxes, where I’d stashed electrolyte water and my tasty orange-flavored electrolyte goodies – went a lot better. It was a gorgeous morning – birdsong, crickets, puffy clouds, gentle breezes, wonderful grassy/flowery smells. 

100_1932 I had a recovery shake of the usual smoothie suspects, plus greens (shinguku – chrysanthemum greens – in this case). It’s going to be a challenge getting all our greens eaten this week, because we totally slacked off while Mom was here. (Meaning, we went out to dinner twice and thus missed some critical Greens Eating opportunities.)

Then I passed out on the couch.

Then Kevin came home from various errands and he passed out. (Do you sense a theme?)


100_1933  He had asked for one of everything, please, so that’s what he got!

This evening, we went to a Simba concert – they’re our favorite local band. Some of their members performed at the Strolling of the Heifers parade. Note to self: don’t dance after an 11+ mile run. Dumb idea.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

mystery birds, cheese, daylillies, and heroin

Today was bee-yooo-ti-ful, just gorgeous. Mom and I went on an adventure and drove around somewhat randomly on the back roads of Windham County. We came across a strange brown-speckled bird with a super-long bill, in the middle of a dirt road, acting very strangely. Since we had long sightlines in either direction and there were no cars about, I pulled over for a closer look. Mom thought it was wanting to lay an egg but couldn’t get it out. It flew off before I could get a picture of it.

Thanks to this fabulous website, I have this to report:

The flexible tip of the American Woodcock's bill is specialized for catching earthworms. The bird probably feels worms as it probes in the ground. A woodcock may rock its body back and forth without moving its head as it slowly walks around, stepping heavily with its front foot. This action may make worms move around in the soil, increasing their detectability.

Here’s what he looked like (thank you, internet):

American-Woodcock44173 Cool!

We continued our journey, the ultimate goal of which was – CHEESE. We swung by Grafton Village Cheese’s Brattleboro retail store. I’ll spare you all my memories of the political climate around that project.


They had samples of lots of cheddar – flavored (horseradish, garlic, sage…), young (a year old), old (up to five years old!), and everything in between. But best of all, they had samples of the best Gruyere I’ve had since we left Switzerland in 1976. Oh.My.God. It was good stuff. Gruyere is my absolute favorite cheese in the world. If you’ve only ever had the domestic stuff, you have NO idea what you’re missing.

This inspired us to continue on to the Coop’s cheese department, where Mom basically cleaned them out of all their interesting goat cheeses. Sadly, she plans on taking them home with her tomorrow. (!! I know! So…mean!)

And then we got home and I realized that somewhere in the past three days, the daylillies have sprouted flower stalks!


YAY! See, I thought that our having moved them during the construction last year might have put them into a sulk. I’m glad I was wrong! On a similar note, the two foxgloves over by the firepit have sprouted siblings.



We spent the afternoon lounging about indolently.

 100_1920View from hammock.

At one point I coaxed Maggie into joining me. That was fun, except for the part where she kept trying to lick my face, and then I’d wiggle around to avoid it, and that would set the hammock to rocking gently, and then I’d feel motion sick. Ah, the comforts of home.


And I finally got a picture of a hummingbird at the feeder. He’s so tiny, I’ll have to crop and zoom to show you properly:

100_1923cropped That little splotch to the lower left – that’s our boy.

And that about covers it. Oh, except for the heroin. OK, OK, it’s not actually heroin. Maybe I have heroin on my mind because we watched “28 Days” last night and a character OD’s on heroin. No, I made my world famous chocolate brain-damage sauce, aka heroin sauce, for dessert this evening. I wonder how many miles I’ll need to run to undo the effects. How does eleven sound? Yeah. I’m supposed to run eleven miles tomorrow – it will have to happen Monday, because I’m taking Mom (AND HER CHEESE) to the airport tomorrow.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

heavy equipment pictures!

My Sainted Mother is here for a visit. Hi, Mom! Her flight was delayed - “mechanic in the cockpit”: not words you want to hear. They finally loaded everyone up on a different plane and she landed 3.5 hours late. No worries, I found a bookstore in the meantime and got this:

cover Also, some of you might be familiar with another piece of modern technology, which I found very helpful in dealing with the extra time on my hands:

phone Yes, it’s a “cell phone”. I’m still in shock and awe over how much fun it is to have a real phone, with a plan, and everything. (The last time I had a “real” one, as opposed to the drug-dealer pre-paid kind, was…um…2000.)

Anyway, so we finally got home. Mom was here last summer during the construction. The day before she arrived, this is what the stairwell looked like:


I remember this because I was eager for her to be able to see the upstairs, and Steve was able to get temporary treads nailed down by the end of that day. Whew!


Here she is, mid-tour. It was when we were upstairs that I heard a most welcome sound: Dan, the grader guy.

That’s right, the driveway finally got smoothed out. I abandoned Mom and ran outside with the camera. And now, for the “before” pictures:


This is the bottom of our private driveway, where it merges with the part we share with our neighbors.


And this is looking back up our hill.


Here’s where the shared driveway turns to go over the wooden bridge, to the right in the picture above.


Vroom, vroom…


Ahhhhhh…so much better.


He did our hill, too.

By the time he was through, Kevin had gotten in from work, and I joined them outside for a close-up.


This thing is called a Harley raker.


I want one.