Monthly Archives: March 2013

Spring again!

I think I’ve finally caught up!  Our first crocus has bloomed and the daffodils are out.  The boxwoods have blossomed and the Bradford pear is working on it as I write this.

I spent most of January and part of February doing physical therapy for my shoulder, and just recently got the results of an MRI: extensive inflammation, some spurring, and a high probability of a superior labrum tear.  From what I can tell, that usually requires an arthrogram to confirm the diagnosis, and arthroscopic surgery to repair.  So I’m looking at 3-4 more months on the disabled list. (I will never plaster a ceiling again.)

I’m glad I repaired the fence this fall before my diagnosis.  I’m not supposed to do any heavy lifting or work overhead.  Fixing the fence required both. But at least my two new fruit trees are safe from marauding deer.

I had planned on building my chicken coop this month, but I have to postpone that.  We’re also in the planning stages for a new kitchen, but that will require getting the cabinetry done in my studio, finishing the mudroom, then redoing the pantry.  Once those steps are done we should have adequate storage for the kitchen stuff.  All of that, with surgery looming, will be a two to three year project.  Stay tuned.



Peter has coined a new term.  The dogs we pick up on our street are not strays, because that implies they’re at fault.  They are Dumplings, and here was our latest.

I had seen a stray down near the cemetary for a couple of days but couldn’t get near it.  Then while walking D’Argo on a cool evening, just before a nasty cold front was expected, I hear a huge fuss down the street: two dogs barking crazily at each other.  One of them was the dumpling I had seen earlier, but the other I didn’t recognize.  It was sitting up on the embankment on the State Park land, barking, and whimpering, and shivering.  D’Argo had a hissy fit, but the little guy didn’t run away.  I took a chance and took D’Argo home, then returned with food and a leash.

On first approach, he growled and shivered at me but made no move to run.  I could see this would take a while.  Peter had already stopped by on his way home and I told him to stand by at home in case I needed something.

I moved up onto the embankment about five feet away from the pup.  The slowly I inched towards him, pausing after every move to let him relax and try the food I’d been tossing at him.  When I was about two feet away, he started sniffing out the food I had tossed to him and he though it was pretty good and even tried to get a piece I was sitting on.  Then he started accepting food from my hand and finally accepted my touch.  I lost his confidence a bit when I attempted to put the slip lead on, so I put it in my pocket and started over.  It took far less time to gain his confidence back and I was able slip my fingers under his collar.  At that point I just slipped the leash under his collar and called Peter to bring a crate.

The little dumpling thought the crate was wonderful, so I carried him into the garage inside the crate.  D’Argo knew there was another dog in the house and kept scratching at the garage door until I let him in to see.  One sniff at the crate and D’Argo knew this dumpling was a puppy.

We didn’t get much sleep that night.  Whenever the pup cried, D’Argo fussed.  His reaction was the same every time he saw the pup.  He would growl fiercely and scare the crap out of the puppy.

The next day, we took the puppy to the animal welfare center, and he has since been placed in a new home.  We wish him well.  He’ll make someone a really loving companion.

The idiots guide to killing a tree

I was stacking some wood in the fall, and noticed a scar on one of the big Black Jack Oaks by the pond.  Being a curious person, I went to check it out.

The scar had been there for some time, but had become more noticeable because the dead branch coming out of the scar had fallen away.  I took a closer look at the scar tissue.  The tree had tried to heal itself, but was injured numerous times in that same location, and now the tree was rotting from the inside out.  What had caused such damage, you might ask?

Well the evidence was still there to be found.

The poor tree had been shot.  Not once , but several times, with different caliber ammunition.  If you enlarge the picture to the right you’ll see just a small part of the evidence.

My best guess is that someone had hung a target from the branch (that’s now dead), and used the tree for target practice over several years.

Well, it’ll take a few more years, but the tree is as good as dead.  So if you want to kill a tree the hard way, shoot it.

…and so it continues.

After clearing out my studio for remodeling, I had an epiphany in the middle of the night.  Instead of leaving the closet as a closet, why not pull out the shelf, rod and door, then build proper, useful, storage cabinetry in the space.  So, I ripped everything out and drew up plans for what I wanted to build.

Once all the cleaning of debris was done, it was time to lay down the clay plaster.

I must say, I love working with clay.  It’s malleable, correctable, has a pleasant earthy odor, a breeze to clean up, and the excess is easy to store.

However, although doable, I wouldn’t put clay on the ceiling again, unless it was new construction, and a smaller area.  Once you start a coat, you really need to finish it  and this ceiling is 143 sq. ft.  My shoulder was killing me by the time I had the first coat down.  (More about that later)

The procedure requires a second coat, then compression.  Unfortunately, I ran out of the blue clay before the second coat was finished and this led to all kinds of cracking problems.

I got all the problem areas fixed and the final results are stunning.

Then I moved on to the walls. I decided to use two different clay colors, the two window walls having the lighter color, and the two others the darker. 

Instead of using a sponge to compress the clay, I used a plastic trowel, which gave it a really smooth finish.

After the walls were finally done, I installed my first floor.  I used chestnut colored cork flooring. There was a bit of a learning curve to get the best technique, but once I had it figured out, it only took about 4 hours to install.  I reused the baseboards, and had some extra from the powder room renovation to replace any pieces that had been damaged by flooding in the past.

The final product is a warm, sunny, inviting room.  The only problem is that I can’t keep D’Argo off the futon, because that’s where the best sunbeam is.

I mentioned my shoulder.  I thought it was just sore muscles, but, as it turns out I may have a superior labrum tear, from the repetitive overhead motion of installing the clay ceiling.  As a consequence, I’m not doing much of anything right now, so I’ve contracted a carpenter to take my cabinetry design and build the closet cabinets.  That should be done sometime in April.