Monday, November 29, 2010



See the little smears in the dust on the ledge here? Maggie’s paw prints. And here we have Conundrum #1 for the day: who is busted? Me, for not dusting often enough? Or her, for hopping up there and leaving evidence? She was hoping I’d left the empty tin of cat food in the sink after the 5:40am feeding, in which she received the merest sliver of Meat in a Can. But I am one step ahead of her: the rinsed- out can is sealed in a ziploc bag in the recycling bag.

There’s nothing like hungry, ambitious cats to make you do a thorough job with the dishes every night.

Nature time. It was cold this morning – below freezing. I staggered out for a quick walk, determined to get back in the groove.


Apparently frost looks like little bristles. Huh.




A mini-goldenrod Christmas tree!

Renovation Report

We have running water!



That’s a Danze “Antioch” faucet, for those fans who’ve asked.

Michael also started in on the drywall on the inside of the shelving space, at the end of the shower.

And I did something hugely spontaneous, but which actually has been in the works for a long time. Long hair is beautiful and all, but when it’s past the waistband of even your low-rise jeans…when you can’t ever just wear it down, because it gets caught and tangled in things…when you’re afraid to cook unless it’s practically in a bun (hair flambĂ©, anyone?) when you have to braid it just to be able to go to bed, or risk being strangled by it…it was time.

I took the first pass, and Kevin fixed up the uneven bits. I went from 8.5 to 5.5 fist widths. (Grab your hair in a ponytail, with the edge of your fist against the base of your skull. Now use your other hand to grab the ponytail so that the edges of your fists are touching. Keep going til you run out of hair.) 


This is weird; I’m so used to being the longest-haired person in my circle of friends and family. I can think of only two women in the Bratt area with hair longer than mine, and both of them are reduced to wearing it only one way – in a long braid. I at least had figured out this rocking look:


Which brings us to Conundrum #2: Kinda fun looking? Or the dorkiest thing, ever?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

thorny mysteries

Yesterday morning there was a sheen of ice on branches & twigs. So soon?



By the time I dragged myself out of bed, it was already melting.  Today, it’s snowing. Snowing! 




See the layer of snow resting on the surface of the pond? Ugh. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I can’t really complain – we’ve had it easy, so far, with temps in the 50’s on a regular basis.

You wouldn’t know that by listening to the cats, though.


This morning, I had barely sat down for a minute before they were both heading toward me. Kevin had started up the woodstove, but the floor in front of it – their usual afternoon spot – was not yet sufficiently warm. I would have to do, as an alternative. I have cropped this photo rather than risk revealing what I look like when I first wake up.

Speaking of things which are prickly in the morning, let’s move on to today’s project: unraveling the riddle of things with thorns.

This is probably Rubus allegheniensis  or common blackberry. Note that the twigs are not round in cross-section. It could also be R. canadensis, but who knows. I can’t tell. Either way: tasty.




Next up: Rubus occidentalis – black raspberry. Note the blue-ish cast to surface – these almost look purple from a few feet away.




Next we have purple-flowering raspberry – Rubus odoratus. Remember my crisis of mid-identification, when I completely botched keying this out?


At any rate, these guys have the purple flowers, and completely different leaves (hence, the mis-identification travesty, which became only obvious when those pretty flowers turned into tasty raspberries.) And, bless their little hearts, they only have bristles, not screamingly mean thorns, like everybody else around.

And finally, somebody else entirely: Rosa multiflora. These guys put out white flowers that smell heavenly.



And here are their wee little rosehips:




And now, for some late-afternoon sky stuff:


Random young birch – both gray and yellow – probably a bunch of ash, there’s an apple in there somewhere, and presumably a slew of young red and sugar maple, plus throw in some poplar for good measure. I should know – this is right where we park our cars.


These are black locusts.


This is that butternut (Juglans cinerea) with the really cute buds.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Before and After

(yes, that’s a little dough heart on top of the pie, thank you.)

“How many people?”, you ask? Oh…just the two of us…yeah…
This is the second apple-pie-from-scratch I’ve ever made – the first one being only, um, a coupla days ago. And this one was MUCH better. Flaky, buttery, melt in your mouth. I didn’t unintentionally over-mix the dough, as I did with the first one, and I also remembered to brush the crust with milk and dust it with cinnamon sugar. The crust was fabulously flaky. Next time – a little less nutmeg. Apart from that? Perfect.
Oh yeah, and the rest of the meal was awesome, as well. I soaked the turkey breast in brine for about three hours this morning, surrounded it with baby potatoes from our CSA with fresh sage, rosemary, and peppercorns. Steamed green beans. Stick a fork in me, I’m done.
Naturally I got all interested in the fresh sage:

The cats are like, “that’s nice. What about us?”

And so, to bed. Good night, world. Sleep tight.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

sun! functioning toilets! let us give thanks!

Remember how I was just whining about gray days = gray moods?
SUN! SUN! SUN! SUN! SUN! Oh wait, dial it down, Sarah, you’re getting manic.
Guess what we have today? A functioning toilet! Aren’t you glad you’re reading this blog? It’s your favorite blog, right?

Let’s admire the vanity’s faucet. Note: the backsplash is not yet in place.  This faucet isn’t hooked up to the plumbing yet. This is because in order to minimize carving holes into the back and bottom of the vanity to get the pipes to fit inside, Michael realized it would be best to shorten the pipes. And the length of already-purchased-and-on-hand flexible pipe that will ultimately connect those pipes, to the shiny faucet – isn’t enough.
Here’s Our Hero.
Sir Michael also made progress on hooking up the water in the shower, beginning with the all-important hole cut into the side of the shower insert for the fixture.
A deeply exciting photograph, don’t you agree? The composition is just magnificent. Please to note the me-shaped shadows.
For our local flora and fauna report, we have A Bug, investigating my calendar.
Oh, does Maggie count as local flora and fauna? Here she is, sitting out on the porch in about 35 degree weather, fluffed up against the cold. I know she’d much rather be passed out in front of the woodstove…
…but anything is better than enduring Michael, she thinks. I have introduced her to him, and she’s been informed of his overall decency (including his commendable distaste for dogs), but she doesn’t trust people who create quite that much noise. Miss Lady is nearly down to her goal weight.
My goal weight,on the other hand, seems to be receding into the middle distance as I continue – valiantly, I might add – to explore my pie talents. That’s right: I’ve made another batch of pie crust, for tomorrow’s apple pie.
Speaking of tomorrow’s apple pie, here’s a quick Thanksgiving gratitude list:
1. My beautiful husband. Hi, babe! Yes, I’m almost done with this post, and we can get down to item #2 on this completely random list, which is…
2. “Glee”, to be watched on Hulu, since I was in choir practice last night when the show actually aired. What we’re being thankful here is a) the utter hilarity of anything Jane Lynch says, along with b) the miracle of Hulu itself, plus, c) the fact that here in rural Vermont we actually have broadband.
3. Also, we have a TV, and other nice toys.
4. Which we love, don’t get me wrong, but you know what I really, really am thankful for? I’m really thankful for my family. They love me. They’re wonderful. Also, they’re really cool people, who are continuously learning and evolving, which is always a beautiful thing to watch. But I won’t mention any names, because they’re shy and whatnot. You know who you are.
5. Also, I’m thankful that for the most part, all my loved ones are in good health. Yay!
6. I’m grateful for my new running shoes! They’ve got fuschia in them!
7. I’m grateful for folks who get what Reiki is, and who are willing to swap their own skills in return. For instance, I just had my first bartered voice lesson yesterday. It was mind blowing. 
8. I’m also grateful for my friends, who seem to be generally accepting of the fact that I so seldom actually leave the house to go play with them.
9. And now we get to listen to Christmas music!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is vanity a sin?

In today’s news, we have progress on the vanity front. Here’s the sheetrock going in behind where the vanity will be…yes, it really is purple. It’s the mildew-resistant kind.



Pipes have been diverted so as to fit entirely within the vanity’s footprint…



Here’s Michael screwing down plywood flooring to cover up the pipes’ new location…



They guys have placed the the vanity in its new home – that’s Kevin on the left, Michael in the center.



Gratuitous cat shot. This is Charlie.


As I type this, he keeps batting my arm with his paw. Stop it, babe, I’m trying to type here.


This is my current collection of solder spatters, pinned to my bulletin board. I get all excited by these because they remind me of Mandelbrot’s Set. (Geek! Geek!) (Oh, I didn’t take the photo on the top – that’s lava flow from Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawai’i. The photo on the bottom is the Bee Hive trail at Acadia National Park.)

For the math geeks – of which I do not, repeat not, count myself a member – this website will explain what the Mandelbrot Set is. I made Michael watch a YouTube video about them. We agreed, it’s pretty trippy stuff. There are loads of them out there – here’s one with tolerable accompanying music, and it’s only 1:41 long.

Time to head off to chorus.

Monday, November 22, 2010

when in doubt, shift your focus

The day dawned foggy. How do I know, as a Non Morning Person? Because of the incessant complaining of one Charlie, who finally persuaded me to feed him at the absurdly late (by his standards) hour of 6:20am.


After which, I assure you, I went back to bed.

I have a confession to make. Lately, I have noticed that my moods match the weather. It was a gloomy kind of day, and I nearly veered into gloominess myself. BUT! I used my ninja skills, and managed to steer my personal vibe-mobile into “ahh, what a nice mellow day” territory instead. I was helped in this endeavor by the following:

  • Reiki
  • Harry Potter Vol. VII ((in preparation for the film)
  • Michael humming randomly to himself as he wrought additional destruction in the bathroom
  • Miles Davis
  • The usual meanderings with the camera

Bathroom Project


That rag-stuffed hole on the left is where the toilet – or “crapper” as we are currently referring to it – used to be. It’s moving over to the right a few inches. So here’s Michael making way for it. Such fun! Almost as much fun as cutting into the floor so as to be able to shift the pipes over.


Michael also shifted around a bunch of that old pink fiberglass insulation to insulate the exterior walls. It’s a good thing we haven’t made a dump run yet with all the crap that’s accumulating in the garage, because it’s not always crap…not if you can re-use it, as he’s doing with the insulation.

He also started prepping the pipes to be reconfigured to fit inside the newer, shorter vanity. See how they’re cut? They used to make a 90 degree turn to the right.


Our Hero uses an incredible assortment of gizmos and whatsits for this gig.


He tells us that tomorrow will be a big day – the new vanity will go in.

Onwards to Nature, Red in Tooth and Claw.

We’ll begin with … drum roll, please…Water Droplets.


This is the fluffly explosion stage of something I’ve seen before, but smothered in tiny beads of water, which I hadn’t seen until I got the pictures up on the computer. I thought at the time it might be unmelted snow.

Along the edge of the shared driveway, there is something I tentatively identified a while back as something minty. It’s one of the few green things left around here. And it turns out it’s quite hairy.



These next few are blurry – it’s the best I could do – I haven’t mastered the art of forcing the camera to focus on particular things. I watch it think about it, and shift gears from focusing on what I want, to what I don’t want, but I don’t know how to control it. Maybe I should look at the manual. What a concept.



Just by way of example, the photo below is the same shot as the one above, but it’s focused deep in the background. The twig and its drop of water show up just as blurriness.


Somewhere there is a deep analogy in here – something about if you’re experiencing blurriness in your overall outlook, maybe you need to rummage around with your focus…

Squiggly Vine Things





I never realized that the edges of this kind of fern’s leaves have tiny spikes, until I got a shot from below of the underside. From above…



…and from below.



More Moss and Lichen Porn (cause you can never have enough of that, and, bonus, it’s safe for all ages!)



Yeah, so anyway, just about 20 minutes or so outside completely re-integrated me, body, mind, and soul.

And, in a final accomplishment for the day…I conquered my irrational intimidation of pie crusts. You might recall I made my first batch of pie dough (the “real” kind) the other day. It’s been waiting in the fridge ever since. This evening, I brought out the rolling pin.



Now watch these moves:


My first ever, from scratch, apple pie. Yay! It’s not the prettiest, but so what? It sure is tasty!