Thursday, January 31, 2013

another epoch (or life changing moment) in my life...

There are moments in life. There are moments, and then there are moments. Moments so monumental, you remember them with a sick feeling as if they happened five minutes ago. Oddly enough this one did happen almost five minutes ago. (before we go on, this is not going to be a sad story, it has a happy ending - unless you are a rat fancier)
Like I said before, there are moments. Moments that make your hair turn prematurely grey, moments that wake you up shrieking in the night. Well, I got home like I usually do and got the mail, checked on the work that was done by our contractor, you know, things that are all a part of normal life. Never knowing that a catechism - no a cataclysm was waiting for me around the next bend with a sock full of sand.
We had seen signs of the underworld encroaching on our garage over the last week. The bird seed had been chewed, a few dropping here and there, and even some sinister scurrying in the night. Because of this, I had set a rat trap and baited it well. After a week, I moved it to another spot hoping for better success.
All of this led up to tonight. I went to check on the trap, and the trap was gone! I widened our search perimeter and found it a few feet away almost under one of our cupboards. It was shut to I grabbed it, but it didn't move. Idiot that I am, I thought, "Oh we caught a rat and it died under the cupboard." I then moved all of the stuff blocking the cupboard doors from opening and opened the door. Then, the nightmare began.... the trap started moving. We had caught the rat by its back leg, so it was alive and kicking - and biting. This was too much for me, so I went to get reinforcements.
My wife proved to be a broken reed. She took one look and said she would help, from far away inside the house. She would shout encouragement from time to time, but that was all.
After a few hurried SOSs, our council of war included that knight in shining armor named Warren, who lives next door (he's about 6 feet tall, weighs in at 10 stone, is 14 or 15 or 16 - i can't remember, and enjoys little problems like this - little problems fore-soothe). He said, "Don't worry, I'll bring my shovel. I've done this before."
I got a good flashlight and we assembled around the cupboard. I wanted to be there for the final moments. I opened the door and let Warren sail in all guns blazing. He caught once glimpse and stumbled backwards saying, "That is HUGE! I don't think a shovel will work, I'm going to need something bigger." I know what you are thinking. This is easy, use your bazooka or perhaps a bit of C4. The problem with C4 and a bazooka is that they would have blown up the garage and the rat - we were hoping on only blowing up rats.
It was time to get out the elephant gun. I loaded it up, well it was only a pellet gun, but I will call it my elephant gun, and went back to the front lines. Warren opened the door and the rat stood up, gnashed its pearly whites (though not so pearly at that) and gazed at us in its swashbuckling way. You would have thought that the blush of shame and remorse would have mantled it cheeks; it was looking at people who had caught it in the very act of pillaging, plundering and worse. But no, it just looked at us and squeaked - a hideous menacing squeak. We all jumped back foot or 3. Then Warren used the shovel to hold back the camping chair it was hiding before and we let him, (the rat, not Warren) have it with both barrels. It started running, not away, but towards us! I kept shooting and it kept coming. Warren saved the day by pinning it on the floor with the shovel and I went for more ammo. When I came back, it was busy chewing its way through the shovel blade and squeaking at intervals. I shot it about 371 more times and even then it was twisting and twitching.
We then dug a small hole in the back yard and buried him.
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, through this grey life we all must go. Aweary, oh aweary, but may we pass through it with far fewer and smaller rats.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spring is in the air... I hope...

This was another preparation weekend. I have filled two of the four new raised beds and put new dirt in the old ones. They were full last year, but time and rain makes compresses all things, even dirt. I should be able to wrap up this project next weekend. The gravel is all spread and the whole area is a nice fresh palate for spring to transform into a rich overflowing kaleidoscope of color.
It was also the Tacoma Home and Garden show. We tottered over and enjoyed Cisco, the master gardeners, and lots of good, bad and odd ideas. Sometimes it seems like the people selling their various wares must be eccentric millionaires as there cannot possibly be enough profit to justify the expense of having a booth. However, it takes all types to make the world go round so I won't complain, I'll just keep walking.
I did end up purchasing some peonies to add to our fragrance garden. I am no sure if I should wait on the weather or just get them in to the dirt and let nature take its course. Most internet sources and books tell you to wait or to plant them and don't expect too many flowers the first year. I am going to listen to one of them. 

Some of our dutch iris' and primroses and even a few tulips are starting to feel spring in the air. They are poking their heads up warily (or not so warily in the case of the iris) and checking it all out. If all goes well and they freeze their fresh ... new growth, we'll have some flowers to celebrate in March. 

In case you were wondering, our addition is going well. Below are some confusing pictures of the construction. It is hard to get a picture that tells the whole story as it is just a bunch of 2X4's and some plumbing. However, take it from me (as I live here) that in a month or so, it will look like a new bathroom, larger master bedroom, and a walk in closet. We should be getting the electrical and plumbing inspections next week and then things will start to move a little faster.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

weathering winter weather...

In order to make up for the mild winter we've been having, the new year has come in with a cold start. I don't think that our yard has thawed out for at least a week. It is jumping between a freezing 25 at night to a cold 35 in the day. We've had a few 40 degree days, but for the most part an ugly, clammy depressing fog has pervaded our life and camped around our little hovel. (this is another reason - if you are looking for one - not to read too much steven king or other horror novels/movies. The fog slowly rolls in, then you get a little bit of a break and sun, then the fog comes back denser than ever and you half expect some creature of the mist to reach our and grab you from behind - well I do anyway. Its rather creepy.) I'm ready for sunshine, daisies, and blood spinach! However, if life gives your frost, well, I always say, "take frosty pictures!" So, here are my frosty pictures. 
On a more common sensical vein, if you plan on putting gravel around your new raised beds and if you are going to use 5/8" minus (meaning it has grit unlike the 5/8" clean which has no grit) then don't get it the night before you plan on moving it out of the truck bed in into the garden bed. If you do, it will freeze and then when you go to shovel it, you will need a pick ax. Just a small tip there. I did end up getting the gravel moved, but it was a long process as I had to wait until 3-4 after the top inch or so melted and then rake it into a pile a move it. I think someone should write a book about all of the common sensical things that every idiot misses. I know I'd buy it. 
Well, enough complaining, its time to go get some dirt for the garden. If the garden doesn't find you handsome, it should at least find you handy!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Winter projects...

Winter is a good time for projects.
About a year ago we had a strong, icy, windy winter storm and a few trees fell over or were damaged bad enough that they needed removed. I saved a few of the bigger stumps for an outside table and chairs for our girls. We don't get much summer, but a nice picnic table is essential for those summer days. A little chainsaw work and some varnish made these chars and table.  (those are compost bins in the background to give it a homey feel!)

Monday, January 7, 2013


Our hummingbird came and landed on the rose bush right outside our kitchen window today. Usually this means that he'll sit there for just long enough for us to run and get the camera and run back, then he'll wink and fly away. However, he must have felt lonely or wanted some pictures to get spread around because he stuck around long enough for us to take some pictures. The last picture is a woodpecker that came by. We haven't seen him before, but hopefully he'll make us a regular stop. (for all the people who are now about to correct me on the gender of the birds, I am sure that the hummingbird is a male [he said his name is Robert and no self respecting girl would call herself Bob] and haven't a clue what the gender of the woodpecker is [we haven't been introduced]. I am guessing he's a male, but if time reveals he is a female i'll update you. I only used "he" instead of "it" so that this isn't one of those crude, churlish, impersonal blogs where each specimen is spoken of in the third person and Latin phrases are as common as ants. Here we are into warm, cozy surrounding and on a first name basis with all of our regular visitors.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A cold start to a new year...

It is now 2013 and we just received our 1st hard frost. Usually we get a few hard frosts before now, but it has been very mild (i am very glad). Last night was 24 degrees and tonight is supposed to be 26 degrees. I know, some of you in the really cold places are wishing it would get up to 24, but for us here is western washington, 24 is cold. 
Mild winters are alright by me, but frost makes for some nice pictures and possible dead plants. So here are the nice pictures - dead plants will come later...

ice crystals on bench