Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Now that we have the permits

... things have started to move out at the cabin. When we got out there this weekend, we found the cement-block foundation in place and the basement floor poured and curing. No rain predicted for the next few days, so the concrete should be cured by now. Next step will be laying the floor joists for the addition and tying them into the existing structure. They could have the whole thing under roof by the end of June, and the whole thing ready for furniture and decorating perhaps as early as the end of July!

But of course we had to throw a wrench into the works. Part of the project includes rehabbing the downstairs bathroom to replace the 30-year-old harvest-gold tub/shower combo, which not only puts the UGH in "ugly" but is starting to crack and leak. Oh, and of course the only way to get at the plumbing for it involves removing a kitchen cabinet on the other side of the wall. (Whose "brilliant" design idea was that?!?) In discussing ways to install a shower stall while leaving room for proper plumbing access, the Chief suggested swapping the bathroom w/ the utility room across the hall. Out came the measuring tape and we decided that was the way to go - the utility room is a few feet longer and a foot wider, so that will be the new bathroom and the current bathroom will become the utility room. Because of course nearly everything currently stored in said utility room can be moved to the basement of the addition. There you are, out of your difficulty at once. But of course it remains to be seen how much we've just added to the price tag of this "little" venture...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

We've got avian tenants at the cabin.

A pair of sparrow-sized birds have decided to build a nest above the kitchen window out at the cabin. This must be a recent move for them, as we noticed them several times collecting bits of dried grass and such. (Once I noticed one of them trying to pick up several such bits. Birds' beaks not being designed for such maneuvers, it was rather interesting to watch it try to figure out how to keep one bit of grass in its beak when it tried to pick up another.) Although, come to think of it, the nest as a whole didn't look all that new. Maybe they're just remodelling.

I have no idea what kind of birds they are, and of course they would never hold still when I ran for the bird book. They're also apparently very camera-shy, as they were nowhere to be seen when I had a camera in hand. (Or maybe they're just being uncooperative.) At any rate, they're about the size and color of sparrows, though one (the male?) is black-capped or -headed. The dark coloring seems to come down to perhaps its neck, so I don't think it's a chickadee. I'll have to try to get some pictures the next time we're out there.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Somebody's got a big new toy!

The Chief stayed home from work this morning to await delivery of a table saw, a purchase he's been researching and dreaming about for at least the past year. He ordered it online a week or two ago, and today was the big day. There's now a huge box near the kitchen door, waiting for him to open it up and tear into it (and figure out how the heck he's gonna get that big, heavy thing down the basement stairs!). Not sure what he's going to pick as the maiden venture for this thing, but I do know he's gonna have a lot of fun with it.

My toys are smaller; the biggest one is an electronic keyboard, which probably doesn't weigh much more than the dolly needed to transport the new table saw. But that's OK. If he's happily building stuff with all his power tools, maybe he won't notice when I go off to rehearsal. ;)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Lots of sewing and gardening lately

I've finished my 3 dresses for the show and was very proud of myself for figuring out the costumer's sleeve variation on the blue dress without benefit of written instructions and only a sketchy phone explanation. The Costume Goddess was having another costume-sewing party today so I took the blue dress with me. I ended up not doing much - sewed up a pair of elastic-waist pants and pinned a hem - because they have a four-footed feline allergen. However, I did leave w/ some "homework" so I'm hardly slacking off.

On the way home, I stopped to get some flowers for the flower boxes we bought last night to hang from the deck railings. Because the deck actually gets some sun most of the day, I got to buy sun-loving plants - geraniums, alyssum and lobelia. The plastic stake in the lobelia claims they like part to full shade but the info I find on line tells me they like full sun. So I planted most of the lobelia in the flower boxes but two in the driveway (dappled sun to full shade) and we'll see which spot makes them happier.

Some local varmint is gonna end up in a soup pot if it isn't careful - at least 3 times this week the same pot of impatiens has ended up tipped over. The pot's plastic, so it won't break, but getting knocked sideways and its dirt scattered has got to be traumatic for that poor impatiens. Short of installing surveillance cameras, I don't expect we'll ever learn the identity of the culprit or culprits, let alone catch it or them, but I sure do wish the neighborhood critters would leave my flowers alone!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Planning for my next theater fix

I fully expect that by fall the Chief will revert to being a Theater Widower. After doing no theater at all for a year, I'm compiling a spreadsheet of which local theater companies are doing what this season, which shows are musicals, who's directing, and audition & performance dates, trying to determine what shows I can do when and how many I can cram into the season. Though the Chief may have to deploy at the end of the year, in which case I'll probably only do one fall show in order to be able to spend time with him before he has to leave.

The 04-05 season was my record - 4 shows. This number is quite low compared to one friend of mine, who always seems to have one show in performance as she starts (or continues) rehearsals for another. And yes, she also has a full-time day job. When does she sleep? You'd have to ask her.

Today's word

is terpsichorean. (Sorry, Maryland fans, I don't believe it's etymologically related to your beloved 'terps.)
terpsichorean (turp-si-kuh-REE-uhn, turp-si-KOR-ee-uhn, -KORE-)
adjective: Of or relating to dancing.
noun: A dancer.[From Terpsichore, the Muse of dancing and choral song in Greek mythology.]

The word Terpsichore [turp-SI-kuh-ree) is the feminine form of terpsichoros (delighting in the dance), a combination of Greek terpein (to delight) and khoros (dance), which is ultimately from Indo-European root gher- (to grasp or to enclose) that's also the source of chorus, carol, choir, garth, court, and garden.]

So I guess Terpsichore would be my muse - though I'm not much of a dancer, I do enjoy it, and I've loved "singing choruses in public" since I was introduced to the choral arts in grade school. Interestingly, if this site is to be believed, it seems that of the 9 Muses, only Urania and Clio had little or nothing to do with the arts. The others are all described as singing or supporters of poetry or some such.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sigh; it's always something.

We've begun the long ordeal of adding a bedroom & bathroom to our weekend place ("the cabin"). The permit requests were submitted in January or February; they finally came through about 3 weeks ago. Tonight we got a call from the contractor telling us that the septic tank has obviously not been cleaned out in several years. How odd; I know we paid to have that done when we bought the place 4 1/2 years ago. So now we have to pay, again, to have the darn thing cleaned out so the contractor can dig it up and replace it with a larger one. (The current tank isn't rated for the larger bathroom total we'll have once all this is finished.)

But the good news is that the section of deck where the addition will go has already been removed and the footers for the addition are already in place. Our contractor will try to have someone clean the septic tank tomorrow so he can get moving with all this. The Chief may go out on Saturday to check on things and take some pictures.

Theater envy

Went to the board meeting last night for a community theater company I've worked with for several years. Five of the 8 of us are in rehearsal for the company's June show or something else. I'm so jealous; it's been nearly a year since I did Mikado, and I haven't even auditioned for anything because of my work schedule. The withdrawal has been hard. I've gotten over the DTs, but I still crave my fix.

Since my schedule didn't normalize in time for me to do the June show, I'm sewing costumes for it. Or at least I'm supposed to be; I'm still hunting for one or two bits & pieces for my sewing machine, like the box w/ the zipper foot in it. The Chief straightened up the basement while I was on the road, you see; I was lucky I could find the sewing machine!

But I enjoy sewing costumes, and am looking forward to seeing them on people. The dresses are full length and full-skirted, in a fabric that will flow beautifully (at least the 3 I have to work on). They'll eventually have "drapy bits" and some sorta spiffy trim; can't wait to see them "in action". I've already arranged to have Tech Week off from work so I can sew in the green room during rehearsals, making last-minute adjustments, putting on finishing touches, and the like. Best of all, our costume designer is a real pro - learned the ropes in the costume workshops of NYC, has designed patterns for a major pattern company for years, and even has her own line of costume patterns. I call her the Costume Goddess and feel privileged to work with her.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ah, that's better.

We now have pots of very cheery impatiens on our front steps, torenia filling the holes in the pansy bed and in a few test patches on the north side of the house, and my 4 mazus reptans in the driveway.

I'm impatient; I want the mazus to start spreading, or at least show signs of spreading, right now! However, we got some rain Sunday night and drizzle much of yesterday; maybe it's wishful thinking on my part, but at least 1 or 2 of the mazus look like they're a bit, oh, fluffier or something.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Today's horticultural vocabulary word

... is torenia. I'll have to check the little plastic spike w/ the full name, but this might prove to be the ideal flower for the north side of the house, which gets no direct sunlight once the trees get their leaves. It reportedly likes part sun to full shade, spreads to about 12", tolerates less-than-ideal soil - all conditions that pertain on the north side of our house. I planted 16 (4 each of 4 colors) of the little darlings this afternoon, half of them in a patch near the side of the house, the rest along the fence. If they turn out to like that spot, I'll definitely be buying more. The flowers look to me like something between a snapdragon and a viola, so I used a few to fill a few holes in the pansy bed, too. Check this space in a month or two to see how they're doing.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Getting psyched for tomorrow

Stopped by the deluxe nursery (not the neighborhood one) after work today. Probably spent too much, and they didn't have pansies or osteospermum, but I came home w/ lots of impatiens to go into the pots on the front steps, some more to fill the gaps in the pansy bed, and 4 plants of mazus reptans to test in the center of the driveway. As the Chief helped me get everything out of the car, he asked "only 4?" I explained that, at $7 a plant, I was going to start w/ four and see how they do. If they die, I may well just go with cuttings from the vinca on the side of the house. But if the mazus does well, I'll go back next year and get more.

Tomorrow the Chief plans to dig up the center driveway strip and fill it with proper dirt, after which those mazus plants go in. If they do what we want, they'll thrive and spread, keep the dirt in place, and be a heckuva lot better looking than the weedy junk dirt that's there now.

What was I saying about that new toy?

After a couple of weeks, we decided the new phones weren't working out - the signal strength needed a major dose of Geritol! So last night we went back to the Verizon store and traded our LGs for Motorolas. We won't get a good test of the signal strength until our next trip to the cabin; here's hoping it's better, 'cause we only get one trade-in on the phones.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Grandiose gardening dreams

I'm probably biting off more than I can chew, but I've been searching for groundcovers to plant in the strip down the middle of the driveway; something esthetic that will tolerate a lot of shade and will keep the dirt in place. Found a wonderful gardening site in my electronic explorations: . "Paggers" has some very nice photos of the incredible variety of plants in her garden, their names, research she's done into them (she seems to be very conscientious about getting the names right), and descriptions. As an amateur who's got a heckuva lotta gardening to learn about, I find the articles helpful without being too technical, nor do they talk down to those of us with little knowledge in these things.

As a result of finding her site and some others, my shopping list for the nursery now includes:
- mazus reptans or creeping veronica (veronica umbrosa) to fill in the patch of dirt down the center of the driveway
- the spider variety of osteospermum (just a few to go into pots on the front steps)
- a few impatiens to go into pots alternating w/ the osteospermum pots
- pansies and violas to fill the gaps in my pansy bed

With any luck, I'll be able to find everything in one place and the plants won't die on me. If whatever I put in the driveway dies on me, I can always fall back on cuttings from the vinca and pachysandra we already have.

Some days ya just can't win

Woke up w/ a migraine (actually, it was probably gearing up last night around bedtime); meds and caffeine took care of it after an hour or two, but then it came back this afternoon, requiring more meds and caffeine. My stomach didn't love that.

Today's pollen count is close to 800 for trees. Wouldn't ya know, the Allegra refill I ordered last week still hasn't arrived, and I took the last one Saturday night. I got a 3-day stopgap supply Monday, but finished that off this morning, so I had to make yet another trip to the pharmacy, this time for a 2-week supply. That refill had better show up soon!

Between allergies and migraines taking all my energy and wind, I was forced to punt choir practice. Not fun; because of all that traveling, tonight's would have been the first practice I'd managed to make since, oh, November or so. I had to cancel this week's voice lesson, too. As a result, I'm going thru some major singing withdrawal; sure hope the pollen count is low enough by Sunday that I can sing rather than croak.

Thank God I'm married to a wonderful husband; I called him this afternoon while waiting for the meds to work on the 2nd migraine and asked him to put the turkey (parts, not a whole birtd) in the oven when he got home. When I got home from work and he saw the state I was in, he didn't just put the turkey in the oven, he fixed the whole dinner.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Must be Monday

My last day off before heading back to the work routine. When I went out to my car to start my round of errands, I turned the key and nothing happened. Nothing. Not even that "you left your lights on, fool!" click. Back into the house I went to call AAA; couldn't find my card without a great deal of searching, and then it was the old one, that expired last year. So after I called for a jump, I had to call a different number to request new cards.

When I finally had a running car again, I went over to the local nursery to inspect their annuals. Nice impatiens, but not much variety in their pansies, and they didn't have any of the "spider" variety of osteospermum that we'd seen in Cape May and wanted to try.

I had planned to do my grocery shopping at the commissary but haven't found the paint scraper to remove the expired stickers and replace them w/ the new ones. With the trees pollinating their little heads off right now, I may have to have the Chief do that for me.

Don't know what today's pollen count is, but it's gotta be in 4 figures; every time I've opened the front door, I've been seized with another sneezing fit and my eyes start burning worse. Poor Chief; he's giving the crabgrass its first haircut of the year and will have to take all his clothes straight to the laundry room and himself straight to the showers to get all that poiso-, uh, pollen off. Otherwise, I'll have one miserable night ahead of me. I love spring, but OH, how I hate pollen!