UFOs: Unexplained Freaky Occurrences

As I was sitting here in my room a few minutes ago, typing away on my computer (yes, at 1 AM – what can I say? I’m a night owl!) I heard some odd sounds from outside. It sort of sounded like a cat, but not like the cat sounds I’m used to hearing, so I went to check it out.

I didn’t see any cats on the porch, but since they do wander around a bit, this wasn’t terribly strange. I called Walter and Myrtle, but then I noticed something that was strange.

The bowl of cat food on the window sill had been knocked off onto the porch, but the other bowl of cat food looked no more disturbed than usual. But here’s the really weird thing: the whole cat food container had been turned over on its side. The cat food container is a medium-sized garbage can with a lid, which contains the contents of a twenty-pound bag of cat food. This means it’s fairly heavy and sturdy. I can’t imagine a small cat like Myrtle (eight pounds) could turn it over, and since Walter (twenty pounds) has never done it, I can only assume that he can’t, either.

This leads me to the horrifying question: what did this? We have stray cats come by from time to time, but they would have to be pretty big to be able to accomplish a feat that even my giant twenty-pound cat can’t do. Does this mean that there is a cat wandering around that is even bigger than Walter? It seems unlikely. Does that mean it was something else?

Walter and Myrtle came up on the porch and seemed fairly unconcerned about things, and they are the two most skittish cats. Walter’s tail was a little fluffed up, but there were some birds chirping nearby, in the direction he had come from, so he could have just been excited about that. The main point is, neither of them looked as upset as I would expect them to, if, say, a large dog or a mountain lion had recently been on the porch.

What happened? Does anyone have any ideas?

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Town House: Progress!

Thanks to Handy Andy, some of our first projects in the town house are almost finished!

The old wall heaters are gone, with nice new sheetrock over the holes:

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You wouldn’t know they had ever been there!

Look how nicely this one in the paneling was matched up:

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Here are a couple of stages of the bathroom. I took this one after the wall tile and vanity were removed, and the sheetrock put up. That deep hole where the old vanity sat shows you just how thick a layer of concrete the builders put in. Why? The world may never know.

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I’m feeling happier already as the sixties tile goes away! In the next one, the new floor has gone in. The vanity is in the room, but has not been hooked up yet.

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What a difference a day makes!

 

Renovation: Town House

My grandmother recently moved into assisted living, and my mother and I have taken on the task of renovating her house. Since we don’t have much of a budget, we are making the most of what we have. My grandmother moved into this brand-spanking-new house in the 1960s, and, not being much for decorating, has done little to change it since then.

Unfortunately, the builders decided to throw in every ’60s trend they could think of. If you have had much contact with them, you know “sixties building trends” pretty much translates to “bad.”

Observe the magnificence of the cheap wood panelling found in the kitchen, dining area, living room, and hall:

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It actually looks a lot better in this picture than in real life. Here you see two of the few good pieces of furniture left over after my grandmother moved: an oak bookcase and an antique cherry table.

This couch is more typical of the leftover furniture:

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See what I mean about the sixties? Believe it or not, we think we can do something cute with the table-lamp. It will be our “nod to the decade.”

The couch was taken off our hands most fortuitously by a handy-man, who is doing the part of the renovation that we wouldn’t have been able to do ourselves:

THE BATHROOM.

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The picture does not truly capture the horror of this room. This color was very hip in the sixties, I am sure, but now it is downright nauseating. Something had to be done. You can’t tell, but the horrible tile goes all the way around the room. The mirror was in fact tiled into the wall. The vanity was tiled into the wall. All of the dated fixtures were tiled into the wall. Thank goodness for Handy Andy – this lovely tile was secured to the wall with a good 3/4-inch of concrete. Yes, concrete.

We left the tile around the shower, which we are planning on painting white. There are specialized kits for painting tile; I have heard very good reviews from people who have used them, so we’ll see how it goes. The gaping holes left when the concrete was removed have been sheetrocked over, and we are putting down a new floor, toilet, and vanity. Thank goodness.

Last, but not least, is the kitchen:

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Once again, you really can’t comprehend just how bad it really looks. The sixties cabinets are dated to start with, and on top of that, in recent years a housekeeper started trying to wash the cabinets with a wet dishcloth, ruining the finish, and something (my grandmother’s walker? A vacuum cleaner?) has been dragged against all of the doors close to the floor, putting a large scratch all the way around the kitchen. Wow. Observe also the terrible hardware and the bizarrely oversized vent hood over the cooktop. The gold Spanish-inspired linoleum can’t be ignored either. We’re still trying to decide about flooring options, but we are going to paint all of the cabinets and replace the countertops, cooktop, and vent hood. The oven is fairly new and hopefully still works.

The redeeming feature is the hardwood that is hidden underneath all of the bad carpet. Hopefully it is still in good shape. We are going to have a big job sanding and painting all of the doors and trim, and priming and painting all of that panelling. All of the ceilings need to be painted, too. I think it’s going to look great when we’re finished, though!

Peach and Blue Cheese Salad

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The best salad in the world? Well, it’s up there.

This salad features grilled (yes, grilled!) peaches from the farmers’ market on a bed of lettuce fresh from the garden. The peaches are peeled, cut in half and pitted, with a little olive oil drizzled on them. When they are almost done, add blue cheese to the hollows for the last couple of minutes so that it will melt. Put them on top of a simple salad of lettuce and a little vinegar, then add pecans and chives, and drizzle honey over everything.

It’s a very unique side that set off our steak quite fabulously. Very fresh and summery tasting!

Speaking of summer, today was the first day of fresh corn of the year! It came from the farmers’ market, since ours is far from ready. Cut it off the cob and cook it in a non-stick skillet with a little butter for a simple but delicious side.

ImageWhen corn is fresh it really makes all the difference! Of course this is true for any produce – thank goodness for gardens and farmers’ markets! Check for local markets in your area. You won’t be sorry!

Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?

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Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?

If Florence feels that she isn’t getting fed when she should be, she goes and gets her bowl and sits down in front of you with it.

Poor abused doggie! Nothing to eat since lunch! I hope she can forgive me.

Note: As you can see, there has been some insistent scratching on the door in the past (mostly by the other dog). Another thing to add to my to-do list.

Window Frog

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Window Frog

In the summer, the many insects that live out here in the country are drawn to the light coming from our windows at night. These, in turn, draw these cute little frogs. They stick to the window, as you see here, and crawl along munching the insects. It’s pretty adorable.