Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Bling

This past Saturday we went to Coker Tree Farm and found ourselves a happy Christmas tree.  Yay!  We brought it home, and after a bit of struggle with the stand, we finally got it upright.  The new stand we purchased is much deeper and more narrow than our old one, and for a change the cat can't get her head in it to drink all the water!

This is also the first year we've been able to put our tree in the front living room window so you can see it at night!  The problem, we discovered, is that the light coming in through the window put the whole tree in shadow.  You could see the shape of the tree, and the lights on the tree, but because most of our ornaments weren't shiny, you couldn't see anything else.  So I toddled off to Walmart and bought some bling - pretty gold ornaments and garland to add some shine/reflection.

And.... voila!

(The philosopher was playing with different camera settings - can you tell?  These pics were taken not two minutes apart....)

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Pinhoti Trail: Georgia Edition

A couple of weekends ago the philosopher and I trekked to our beloved Pinhoti trail - this time in Georgia, between Rome and Summerville.  We went to Taylor's Ridge, and parked at the Mack White Gap trailhead.  Unlike many of the other trailheads we've visited, this one required no forest service road nightmares, or muddy bogs, or other things most unfriendly to small compact cars.  Yay!

From the trailhead we headed south towards a side trail that goes to Sloppy Floyd state park.  We didn't *quite* make it that far, but it was still a six mile hike in the back country!

We saw wild turkeys (though we weren't fast enough to get out the camera) and some rather creepy fungi:

Of course this one reminds me of Alice in Wonderland...
Then it got down off the mushroom, and crawled away in the grass, merely remarking as it went, `One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.'
`One side of WHAT? The other side of WHAT?' thought Alice to herself. `Of the mushroom,' said the Caterpillar, just as if she had asked it aloud; and in another moment it was out of sight.
Alice remained looking thoughtfully at the mushroom for a minute, trying to make out which were the two sides of it; and as it was perfectly round, she found this a very difficult question. 

I could relate to you the adventures we shared when we were three inches tall and descended into the rabbit hole, but I'd bet you wouldn't believe for One Second that we actually nibbled on a wild mushroom.  My husband was a boy scout - he knows better!  ::grin::

There were also some very cheerful late fall flowers, which were quite encouraging after the mushroom encounter!

But the ground did not hold a monopoly on beautiful things - late fall in the Georgia mountains is a gorgeous sight to see.  Who needs New England foliage when we have the Blue Ridge Mountains and Piedmont?

The trail took us along a ridgeline, and we came across a mountain meadow .  We stepped out from the trees and walked into this clearing.  If the ground hadn't been wet from yesterday's rain, I would have stretched out on the grass in the sun!

So that's our first "real" hiking adventure since we moved to Georgia in the spring.  (State park trails just aren't the same, somehow.)  But I've added a new list to our hiking log, and on those warm winter weekends you may just find us venturing forth to find another trailhead!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Fun

I'm a crafty kind of person, so of course I love the challenge of carving a halloween pumpkin "old school" style - no template, no pattern, no fancy carving tools.  Just a steak knife (freshly sharpened) and a pencil.

This year I think I created my Favorite Pumpkin Ever.

In the afternoon....

And late at night...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Two weekends' hard labor...

and we finally have ourselves a beautiful new front bed.

Way better than the ... disaster ...

it was when we bought the house.  Yes, that is a multi-level pond (er... "mosquito breeding system") with no pumps.  And pavers are being used for pond stones.  And *retaining wall* blocks are being used for edgers.  Oh, and did you notice all the lovely heat-retaining lava stone?  Yeah.  Ugh.

So we scooped out all the rocks.  We used the pavers as pavers around back, and stacked up the retaining wall blocks for a future raised bed.  And all the other medium river rock we spread out underneath the deck in back, so we could put a chair under there in the shade.  (The lava rock?  We created a drainage area under where the gutter downspout and the AC drip line come out, so it's not mushy and we don't have to mow it!)

Then the bed looked like this:
(Do you notice the appropriate use of retaining wall blocks?)  Ahhh.... Georgia red clay.  So we rented a tiller and chunked up the clay and roots and rocks (well, we raked out the rocks, anyway).  And then we bought a cubic yard of "planter's mix soil amendment".  And tilled the bed again!

To this result:

Talk about a clean slate!

We traveled to east Atlanta to Maple Ridge Nursery and bought a Acer Palmatum "Crimson Queen" - a lace-leaf Japanese maple.  It's a high graft, and so should eventually have a nice umbrella shape to it.  We also added a Camellia sasanqua "Yuletide" and a Gardenia jasmonides "August Beauty" as the foundation shrubs.  And, finally, my grandmother's hostas, ferns, and caladiums have a home too.

I'm also planning to add some Heucheras and some Dinathus in the front, but since they're perennials they can wait until spring. ::whew::
Oh, and did you notice we also added proper edging stones??  We'll eventually extend those around to the bed on the side.  Yes, the side bed is also full of river stones... and red clay and a bunch of sickly teeny-tiny azaleas.  There's also some lovely Coreopsis and a Sweetspire (I think) - but moving all that is a project for another day.  I really need to do some thinking about what will work well on the north side of the house.

In the meantime, I'm going to sit in my living room and relax, and admire my happy plants!

Friday, September 16, 2011

What Do Julie Andrews and Hiking Have in Common?

"Do, a deer, a female deer"
While hiking at Red Top Mountain last weekend, we saw a doe!  Our new camera allows us to take a much better picture of far-away things, but she wasn't *that* far away.  And we didn't even faze her a bit!

"Re, a drop of golden sun"
The trail took us to the banks of the Etowah river, and the sun glistening off the water made a very pretty picture.

"Mi, a name I call myself"
Well, obviously it wasn't just me that went hiking - the philosopher went too.  It was our first Georgia hike, and we had a great time.

"Fa, a long, long way to run"
Five-and-a-half miles, at least.  So not a *long* hike. And really, it was a much easier hike than the Pinhoti.  When I get my "hiking legs" stretched out, we'd like to try a longer run on the Benton-Mackaye Trail up near Ellijay.

"So, a needle pulling thread"
How about, erm, threading a needle?  (Is there some way I can really stretch the metaphor here?)  While on our hike the philosopher's cell phone rang.  That was a surprise in itself - we usually don't have cell phone service when we hiked in Alabama!  He's been trying to thread that "job needle" for a while, looking for a teaching position.  So the phone call?  An offer of two philosophy classes in the spring.  Score!

"La, a note that follows so"
Hm. I don't actually sing when I hike (disturbing the wildlife is a no-no in state parks, you know)!  But we do TALK when we hike.  Most recently it's been about his book project, with subjects like transformation, classical philosophy, contemplation, liberal arts, and Werner Jaeger's Paideia.  Erm... I do a lot of nodding.  And sometimes I get distracted and say things like "Oooh - look at that tiny frog!"  or "MmMMmm - do you smell that?  It must be a sassafras tree!" or "Did you hear that - that was a bird, right?"  But my completely random, distracted interjections keeps the philosopher on his toes, and that's just fine.  ::heh::

"Ti, a drink with jam and bread"
And to top off the afternoon, we had a cold glass of good, old fashioned, southern iced tea when we got home!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The G.S.E., a happy ending

For those two or so of you who read this blog, you'll know that we've been looking for a church now for a couple of months.  (And that was after the two-year search in Alabama, where we moved 6 months after we finally got settled at a church there!)

I tried hard not to be pessimistic about our first two visits, but even though we're *close* to Atlanta, it still takes an hour to get to the city, and that's where most of the churches we'd be interested in are located.  So we Googled, and perused various denominational websites, and scoured the phone book (anyone else notice how dated a paper phone book seems these days??!?) and came up with a church about 30 minutes away, in Douglasville.  Way closer than our last church, so we gave it a try.

It's a storefront church, tucked away in a strip mall.  I had visions of folding chairs and a folding table as the altar, and no communion rail...  much like our church in Anniston was.  We walked in the front door and folks greeted us joyfully, introduced themselves and introduced us to others.  Straight back were what looked like offices and classrooms, and to the left were the doors to the sanctuary.  (Yes!  A sanctuary!  In a church in a strip mall!)  We walked in, and - wow - they had taken great care to do everything they could to make the space *feel* like a church.  Beautiful shades covered the windows and other exterior doors - it looks like they have several small storefronts that they've merged into one big space.  Unless you look carefully, you don't notice that at all.  They even painted stained glass motifs on the high windows above the shades!  They created a raised area for the altar, and yes, there's also a communion rail.  (Here's a picture from when Bishop Beach visited recently, so you can see what I mean.)

Now, I know, this is all surface stuff.  What's Really Important is the mission and the message.  But having a space *feel* like a sacred space does so much to ease the heart and, well, I don't know about anyone else, but I feel more at peace, more able to hear that still small voice.  So I can't say it's not important at all, at least to me.  And they keep the service liturgical - they use the '79 prayer book (but not the "star trek" Eucharistic Prayer D!)  It's funny, I've been in a '28 church for almost 6 years now, but the '79 language comes back in a hurry.  I miss the comfortable words and the prayer of humble access, but I do enjoy the '79 version of the Gloria.  I think we're using a Michael Card setting for it - I'll have to remember to ask.

The good news is, they scored high on the Really Important stuff too!  The rector is awesome.  Great sermons, and truly a pastor's heart for his flock.  He and the philosopher had coffee the week after our first visit, and by our second visit we were pretty sure we'd found our new church home.  Sunday School has been awesome, and I'm hoping the philosopher can connect with a men's group too.  Yes, you heard right.  We actually found a church that's large enough to have two services, a Sunday School, Bible Studies, and small groups.  Shocking!!  8-)

I even volunteered for the music ministry, which they're trying to grow.  It's mostly praise music, with an AMAZINGLY talented worship leader, but there's also a pianist so we do get to sing some hymns too.  The worship leader seems eager to start a more involved ministry, which is great.  I did warn him, however, that I bring enthusiasm, not talent, to the mix.  Heh.  Hopefully when the Paulding campus library is ready, I will be able to participate fully, even in weeknight practices.  And I haven't been able to do that since 2002.  Wow.   Time to pull out the guitar and see if I remember how to play, right?  (Or worse, see if I actually remember how to sing!)

Anyway, thanks be to God for Trinity Anglican Church.  It's always in His time that He brings us where we need to be.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Great Kitchen Renovation

Yes, this is the third kitchen we've renovated.  Every house we've ever owned, we've made major changes to the kitchen. It helps when your dad is a cabinet-maker, of course.  ::grin::  But I think this is my FAVORITE kitchen so far.  I've always wanted white beadboard (even when it wasn't fashionable) and I love the mossy green color in contrast with the floors and the counters.  But the coolest thing is the rolling cabinet - the kitchen is tiny, so my dad built another cabinet on wheels so we can move it around to use, and tuck it up under the window when we don't need it.  It also added tons of storage, which was also a critical addition.

So without further ado, here's the "Before" - yeah, it looks all nice and pretty, but the philosopher pulled those off the walls with almost no tools.  Cheap, crappy fiberboard and they weren't even put together correctly.  We were afraid to put anything heavy on the top cabinets for fear they'd actually fall off the walls.  Bad, I'm telling you... BAD.

So we started the disassembly on Sunday evening.  We took everything out and stacked it in the living room and the dining room (making sure the toaster oven would be accessible, and moving the dish rack to the bathroom since we wouldn't have a kitchen sink for a few days!)  

Oh, yeah - and the coffeepot - that was the LAST thing to be moved!

The philosopher finished up the demolition on Monday, while I was at work.  Apparently he tossed the cabinets off the back deck, and they broke into lots of tiny pieces that he then had to go and clean up.  (But really, that was probably easier than one guy trying to haul sections down the stairs, right?  And it made large crashing sounds, which is always satisfying!)

What a mess.  What a BIG mess.  So this happened on Monday.  Tuesday morning my dad and one of his guys showed up with a trailer full of cabinets.  The philosopher actually worked for dad for a semester, so he was able to help do a lot too - dad's crew got the cabinets hung, leveled, and installed, then G and I hung the doors.  

 We also put on the knobs and pulls - which doesn't sound so hard until you realize that we also had to drill the screw holes in the right spot for each one.  (I won't as you to look for the ones that may not be *exactly* even....).  Then, finally, I added the new paint. Whew!

 VOILA!  And the first meal cooked in our spiffy new kitchen?  A vegetable pot pie with a cheddar biscuit crust.... YUM.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A long time coming...

This blog post has been a long time coming, that is!  I just got back from a trip to Seattle (!!!) and boy oh boy - I gotta tell you... talk about weather shock!  It was 72 degrees most day, sunny except for one cloudy drizzly day, and no humidity.  I slept with my windows open (no screens, but no bugs bothered me either!)

I spent a week on the campus of Seattle University attending a library conference/educational program called Immersion 2011.

The campus was simply astounding in its lushness.  Deep green beds of all kinds of wonderful plants, gardens and courtyards everywhere... and the lavender.  Wow.  So I'll just share some of my favorite pictures....

 See what I mean?

And since it was Seattle, a group of us ventured out to the famous Pike's Place Market to witness some fish tossing, glass blowing, coffee grinding and cruise ship docking.  It's right on Puget Sound, and (I'll say again) simply beautiful.

We also visited the Seattle Public Library, a wierdly famous library that is...goofy as all get-out.  (Really - check out the photo at the link!!)  They have one floor dedicated to conference room space.  The rooms are pleasantly pastel and comfortable.  The halls of the conference floor?

Red.  Everything.  Red. (And no, my camera wasn't malfunctioning!)  I kept thinking of bad Stephen King short stories - is was CREEPY.  The whole place is really industrial modern (*so* not my style) but I have to give them credit - while I don't like their form, the function was spot-on.  The six floors of book stacks were arranges in a gradual spiral, so you didn't have to navigate stairs to move from floor to floor (and in the core of the book spiral was a large lime-green escalator, so you didn't have to wind your way all the way up if you needed to go to the upper floors).

All in all, the conference was fantastic, I brought home some fabulous Caffe Vida coffee and Washington State wine, and I enjoyed the weather immensely.  But I'm a southern girl, and it was good to come back home to the deep south where mosquitoes thrive, the humidity curls your hair, and where folks know about sweet iced tea and grits.  Yeah.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Great Sociological Experiment, revisited

For my long-time readers, (both of you!) you will recall that when the philosopher and I endeavored to find a new church, we visited quite a number of different flavors and varieties.  I blogged about them in posts labelled "The Great Sociological Experiment", or G.S.E.

So two weeks ago we began again, in a new city. 

Our first venture was to a church that bills itself as  "Evangelical Anglican".  It's a very well known church, with over 3000 members and a very visible rector. It's about 45 minutes away from our house, and G professed to want to visit "simply out of curiosity".  So off we ventured!  Our first thought was that the edifice itself brought to mind cathedrals of old, very beautiful and charming.  The interior, once we got out of the parking deck (yes, a church with a PARKING DECK!) was also lovely, but disjointed.  There was a large desk reminiscent of a 4 star hotel lobby, where a number of folks stood by to thrust brochures into your hands.  As we walked down the wide hallway (think "airport-wide") we saw on the walls a beautiful illuminated manuscript page, a sheet of ancient shaped-note music, a (erm) Thomas Kincade-like print, and then ... a large flatscreen tv scrolling announcements.  (??!!??)

The sanctuary was also beautiful, with NIV Bibles in the pew backs, but no prayer books, and the bulletin was all glossy announcements with no real order of service.  The band was warming up, with drums and electric guitars and some brass.  ::sigh::  Ultimately, the folks were incredibly friendly but the service bore no resemblance to any kind of Anglican service.  Indeed, there was no liturgy at all.  No communion.  Lots of extemporaneous prayer and a firey revival sermon, but no quiet reverence.  Definitely not for us.

This past Sunday we visited a local congregation which met in a community center.  Of the ten folks there, we were the youngest there by 20 or so years. (The community center is in a retirement community, and I suspect that everyone attending lives there - not a bad thing generally, but not necessarily what we wanted!)  The rector is a full time police officer, and very pleasant, and we were delighted to hear a sermon on Romans that wasn't Calvinistic in nature.  But we need a church with more to offer folks our age - a place where we can connect with a community of believers and actually be part of that community.  So that definitely won't work either.

Once the philosopher gets back from a visit to his family, and I return the following week from a conference in Seattle, then we'll try again and see were God is leading.  So if you're so inclined, prayers for this new venture would be deeply appreciated!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What's in a name?

We took a trip through north Georgia and the length of Tennessee this past weekend, and noted some... interesting... place names.  So I thought they were worthy of comment (and derision, of course).

Crane Eater Community Church (Somewhere in middle Tennessee.)
We couldn't easily tell if we were passing through a town called Crane Eater, but even if we were... really??  Crane Eater??!?  We spent several minutes trying to determine if there was some theological basis for the name, but we got nuthin'.

Grinder's Switch Winery (Somewhere in central Tennessee.)
Now, I could come up with tons of great winery names (my favorite?  Philosopher's Folly Winery!)  The area has plenty of beautiful mountains, and gorgeous trees, and stunning vistas.  Grinder's Switch Winery is what you decided on????  REALLY???

Bucksnort, Tennessee. (Also somewhere in central Tennessee.)
Yes.  And the gas station where we stopped was the local big game check site when you're done with hunting for the afternoon.  I believe the philosopher was the only male in the establishment wearing a shirt with a collar... no, wait.  He was the only guy there wearing a shirt!  We thought about purchasing a souvenir shot glass or camouflage coozie, but decided against it. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Q: When is a door not a door?

A: (All together now...) When it's AJAR!

::snort, chuckle, snort::

Well, let me tell you a story about adventures in doors.  When we bought Misty, we knew right away that the house needed a new door.  (Those rotten jams and the fact that a good solid kick even from a wimp like me would've knocked it out of the frame were dead giveaways.)

So, we did our measurements (yes, twice) and did our research and found a great door online at Home Depot, on sale and with free shipping to the house, even!  Woot!

Well, the door came in.  And we toted it up onto the front porch.  (Did I mention the door weighed about 150 pounds?  And neither of us are weightlifters?)  So "toted" might be too weak.... how about "lugged"?  Or "Strained every fiber of muscle in our bodies"?  Yeah, those are better.

Anyway, Greg got the old door out, and so we had a huge hole in the front of our house, perfectly sized for a new door.  (Some installation required.)  Except that when we got all the packing pulled off, the dadgum door was CRACKED.  Unusable.  Unsatisfactory.  Unhappy!

(It's a lovely door, though, isn't it?)

So we called customer service and they said they'd ship us a new one ASAP.  But we still had this Gaping Hole in our house.  So we got permission to dry fit the door in place with two screws (probably more sturdy than the old one!) until the new one arrived.  And guess what??

It didn't fit.

It was too tall.  Whoda thunk that standard doors are different heights???

So we called customer service and cancelled the reorder.  And hauled the &$%#* thing BACK down the stairs and into the back of the pickup so we could take it back to the store for a refund.

Now, about that hole.

We used plywood and lots of screws.  ::sigh::

Then we started planning our next step - finding a door with a sidelite that WOULD fit.  And guess what?  Yeah - we got nuthin.  So we went with plan B (or maybe this was plan F or V) and started looking for a door that was the right height, and who cares how wide it is!  We finally found one, and thus began the philosopher's first experience in framing.

It wasn't pretty.

But after much cries of "drat", some sledgehammer usage, ripping the new framing out twice, and lots of blood and sweat, we have a NEW DOOR!

(Cue the applause)

We didn't want it to look like we had an off-center door, so we added wide trim to both sides, and I think it turned out fantabulously!

So kudos to the philosopher for *not* kicking the glass out in frustration, and for giving Misty a great new look.  (All I did was the paint!)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


My apologies.  It's been a while since I've posted.  I think I'll chalk it all up to adventures.  Yeah.  Lots and LOTS of adventures.

Adventures in the lat week of an old job.
Adventures in tornadoes.
Adventures in having no power, and getting it back, and losing it again after the tornado.
Adventures in packing and organizing (or is that supposed to be organizing and packing?)
Adventures in MORE packing, less organized.
Adventures in moving.
Adventures in the movers being very unskilled in Tetris and not fitting everything in the truck.
Adventures in plumbing.
Adventures in replacing front doors.  And taking the new one out, and trying again.  And again.  And finally suceeding!
Adventures in going back to Alabama every week to mow and get more stuff the movers didn't load.
Adventures in starting a new job, and discovering they're still in the throes of renovation.  So instead of learning all the stuff I need to learn, I'm moving books and disassembling shelves.

Adventures in stuff like this make me too tired to blog!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Facebook - the Virtual Lunchroom

Yes, a blog post on Facebook.  How.... unoriginal!!  But I have some thoughts about social media, and figured I may as well get them out of my head and onto paper, as it were.

Now, I have never used FB for games, or applications, or quizzes, or any of that really distracting stuff.  But I do log on several times a day just to see what folks are saying and posting about.  It's like dropping in on friends in a busy lunchroom, and sitting at their table a little while before moving on with my day.  I've reconnected with several dear friends, both from high school and college, and we've even managed to arrange face-to-face meetings when we've found ourselves in the same general location for whatever reason.

When I first signed up for Facebook, I did what most people do - I accepted friend requests from just about everyone as long as I knew who they were.  As I thought about what I use FB for, I've actually unfriended a bunch of acquaintances.  Not because I don't *like* them, but because I would never just sit down at the lunch table with them and have a chat.  Is that rude, or draconian?  Or am I merely being choosy with my online friends, just as I am in real life?  And if it's the latter, then it's not a bad thing. 

Over time, I've also locked down the security on my account more and more, and because they twiddle with their settings I check MY settings on a regular basis.  Right now, you can't google my FB account, and only friends (not even friends of friends) can see what I post or share.  This seems to be the antithesis of what FB - and most of its users - want from social media.  They want people to be instantly accessible to everyone, everywhere, 24/7.  But I'm an introvert, and I can't handle being with people all the time.  I like lots of down time, and quiet time.  (Which is why on the weekends I spend very little time on the computer - I get too much computer time at work, and I want to get away from that at home!)

My two faithful readers may know that I gave up Facebook for Lent (and so did a number of other folks I know). So I've been spending time in the lunchroom at a table for one - and that too has been a good thing.  I've realized several things about myself and my habits, which hopefully will allow me to make some different choices when we move to Georgia next month.  I've discovered that I deeply value some of the friendships I've rediscovered on facebook, and that I hope to keep in contact with those people, even if I give up facebook permanently.  (I probably won't go that far, though!) 

But I've also discovered that I don't have many Good Friends here where I live.  And that is a sad thing.  We've always said that where we are now wasn't a "permanent settling", so neither I nor the philosopher have made any serious attempts to become friends with folks.  We have acquaintances, and folks we spend time with at work.  But there's no one we call to say "Hey, want to come over for burgers this weekend?", and no one who calls us to see if we want to go to the park for a walk.  So that was a good Lenten realization for me, and I know I need to be more intentional in seeking out friends when we get settled in Georgia.  (Not easy for an introvert, but something the needs to be done even if it takes a while!)

At the same time, I will continue to cherish my online friendships.  I am happy that many people who were once part of my face-to-face life can still be part of my life virtually.  I can talk about Scarecrow and Mrs. King, CS Lewis and 80s music, girl scout cookies and Disney, bad golf outings and gardening and outdoor adventures, with the same people I once shared those things with at the *real* lunch table.  And in that sense, Facebook is a great tool for that.  I've missed my friends during my Lenten fast, and I look forward to lunchtime again next week!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Divide and conquer!

Last week was a busy week.  Our offer on Misty was accepted, so now we're getting all the ducks in a row for all the inspections and such.  We have a home inspection scheduled for this Friday, and we're both planning to go over for it.  (Tip: if you plan to buy a house one of the most valuable - and free! - things you can do is go through the inspection with your inspector.  Ask questions.  Listen to what he has to say about everything.  Take copious notes.  You'll learn tons and have an even better idea of what your new house will need over and above what the inspector includes in his report.)  The philosopher has his grubby clothes all picked out, as well as his boots and a small notebook.  Me?  I have a sketch of Misty's interior, and will go armed with a tape measure.  Then when I get home I can take a piece of poster board, draw a scale drawing of the interior, and start arranging everything! (Yes, I'm a nerd.  Haven't you figured that out yet?)

These measurements and arrangements are critical to the Divide And Conquer Plan of buying a house.  We have some very talented folks in our family, and we will definitely be calling on them for help.  My dad the cabinetmaker will work with us to build some additional storage for the kitchen, and my wonderful mother-in-law is a whiz at custom curtains.  Since we have several very quirky windows, her help and advice will be invaluable.  (For example, when you have a 5' x 5' window - not frosted - situated directly over the bathtub, what kind of curtains make sense?  What kind of crazy exhibitionist designed this house, anyway????)

The yard is a different matter.  If you recall, I transplanted tons of plants from my grandma's yard when she passed away.  I want to take some of these with me, of course.  So I spent most of yesterday afternoon dividing, conquering, and re-potting.  Now I have several good divisions of green hostas, and striped hostas, and red cannas, and japanese ferns, and chocolate mint, and spearmint, and lemon balm, and sage, and rosemary.  I already have my sweetshrubs in two pots, and in order to minimize the shock to the roses I think I'll wait to dig them up until we have a place to put them in the ground at the new house.  My two japanese maples are still in pots, and may actually be large enough to plant this fall, and I've got two cuttings of our corkscrew willow rooting, too.  I'm also going to wait until the daffodils and lily-of-the-valley are done blooming before I do any divisions there.  What's really great about my plan is that I have a nice shady bed in the front yard that all shade plants will absolutely love, and at the far back, lower end of the property there's already a swamp willow, so our corkscrews will be quite at home.  Now I just have to keep them alive until I have a new yard to put them in!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Play Misty for Me?

Well, I don't think there will be any stalkers in this version of "Misty" - it's the nickname we've given our NEW HOUSE!  ::insert cheers and clapping here::


We bought a bank-owned property, so we got an amazing deal.  Our payment will be less than a (cheap) car payment, and when we sell our house in 'Bama, we'll have enough money in the bank to pay off Misty.  And that, my friends, makes it all worth it, even though we'll carry two small mortgages for a while.

Misty continues our theme of buying Houses With Stone - we've decided that our liking of that particular architectural detail hearkens back to our Sewanee days, when we saw nothing but stonework buildings for blocks and blocks.  Still, I like the look and layout of Misty much much MUCH more than Brown.  There's a finished downstairs room with windows that will make a great study for the philosopher, a separate dining room, a deck, and a storage shed, all on just over a half-acre.  We're about 20 minutes from Marietta, and about 45 minutes from midtown Atlanta... and 15 minutes from my new job.  Gotta love that!

We never thought we'd buy a newer house, but this one makes sense.  The only hard work that needs to be done is replacing a bathroom floor and doing a little outdoor drainage repair, and the handyman philosopher is all over those projects. And of course, some decorating needs to happen. There is actually new carpet in the bedrooms and new paint on the walls, so all we need to do is replace the flooring in the living room and find someone (you know who you are!) who can make us some beautiful new curtains. ::grin::

So next time you want to go to Six Flags, a Braves game or the Fox Theatre, you know where you can stay!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Garden, a Job, and a Theory

I've figured it out.  If you want to get a new job, and want to sell your house and move to where that new job is, all you need to do is plant a garden!  I planted our garden last week, and this past Thursday I got a job offer from Georgia Highlands College.  I'm really excited about it - I'll be the Reference and Instruction Librarian on the Paulding Campus (in Dallas, GA, about 15 miles to the west of Marietta).  It's basically what I'm doing now, but I'll be in a *librarian* position.  ::Happy Dance::

So that was Thursday.

On Friday, I spent hours re-arranging the house and cleaning and boxing up stuff and organizing... We're pretty organized and neat folks most of the time, but the housing market in our area is like the rest of the country - very squishy.  So I want to give our 40-year-old house the best chance possible of attracting buyers.  I took a bunch of stuff to the thrift store, and that felt GOOD.  Why is it that a pending move is the only thing that really prompts us to get rid of stuff we don't need?  (BTW - anybody want to buy a weight machine???  Heh.)

On Saturday, we met with our local realtor.  She was favorably impressed with the house, so after a couple of hours of poking and prodding and talking and telling stories and signing paperwork, we got the listing together.  It should go up on Monday, and then the wild rumpus will really begin.  (The cat did NOT impress our agent, tho.  She coughed up a hairball just as Laura was taking photos.  Anyone want to house a psychotic cat for the next two months??!?)

On Sunday, we drove to Dallas.  We explored the town, ate lunch, and met with our Dallas agent Michael.  The Atlanta area was hit hard by the bursting of the housing bubble, so we were hopeful that one of the seven houses we picked to look at would be at least "a possibility".  Housing is pretty darn cheap right now, so that is good. Unfortunately, most of the first set of houses were Completely Unacceptable.  One was terrific ("Brown 2") until we discovered standing water in the basement.  One was interesting ("Purple with a Study in Blue") but the lot was terrible.  Why is there a 2' diameter black pipe sticking up out of the ground in the back, with a screwed down lid and electrical outlets running into it???  "New Farmhouse" looks like the previous owners took hammers to the walls and fixtures before they left.  The other four aren't even worth mentioning.

Today I'll be poring over the listings again, looking for houses that meet four basic criteria: location, price, a quiet place for a study, and an "interesting" quotient.  At this point, even if it's not interesting we'll consider it as long as it meets the first three!  We'll head back to Dallas on Wednesday, and go from there to see what we can find.

So thank you all for your prayers - God definitely works in mysterious ways, doesn't he?  We didn't find a job for Greg, but being close to Atlanta will open up lots of avenues that our corner of Alabama could never offer.  We're still only 1 1/2 hours from family, so close enough to be there if we need to be.  And my dad can still come over for Football Saturdays in the fall.  All good!  Now we just have to sell our house (insert another plea for prayer here) and find a place to live in Dallas.  Oh, did I tell my job starts in 8 weeks?  So no rush!  (ACK.)

And about the garden?  Fortunately everything I planted can be harvested in late April or early May.  And the seeds for the summer veggies will keep until next year.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Let the gardening begin!

Over the winter, the philosopher and I built a 4' x 4' raised bed, with a trellis net on the north side and dividers marking each foot square section.  Indeed, it looks a lot like THIS, only there's nothing growing yet, and we used conduit instead of wood for the trellis.  (I know, I know - I'm a slacker using someone else's photo.  If the sun ever comes out again I'll take a picture of ours!)  We filled it with our very own compost, peat, vermiculite, and a little bit of bagged poo from the Big Box Garden Center.  The theory of a Square Foot Garden is to have very loose, friable soil with lots of organic matter.  You can plant things closer together, and don't have miles to hoe before you sleep.  It seems like a valid theory, so I'll let you know how it goes!  My only worry is that you have to water very regularly, but when you're only talking about 16 square feet, that seems awfully manageable.

This weekend, despite the rain and cold temps, I planted my early spring veggies: ruby Swiss chard, teton hybrid spinach, romaine lettuce, bibb lettuce, yellow onions, and sugar snap peas.  In two weeks I'll plant a second crop.  I mean really - who can eat 8 heads of lettuce all at once?  So I'm spacing out the planting which means there will be a few bits ready every week, and we can enjoy a continuous bounty.  If, that is, the rabbits don't figure out where the garden is.  It's pretty close to the house, so I'm hoping the cat staring out the window will be a good defense (in place of the fence).  ::snicker::  If not, then I'll have to escalate the battle.  I have a plan, but I don't want to comment about it on the off chance the opposition reads my blog.  Rabbits are devilishly tricky little blighters, after all.  (Much like Cornish pixies!)

Anyway, towards the end of the month I'll add carrots to the garden, and plant our new herbs in the herb bed - chives, oregano, cilantro, and TONS of sweet basil to go along with the rosemary, sage, thyme, chamomile, and various mints we already have.  Come early May, the peas, lettuce and spinach will be done, and I'll plant peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant in their places.  I don't plan to start those from seed, so we'll pay a visit to the most bountiful Master Gardener Plant Sale at the end of April.  When the last of the chard comes out, in will go the bush beans.  And if it looks like we'll still be where we are in the fall then I will plant some winter squash and do another round of late-season chard and lettuce!  And if I can talk the philosopher into it, I may even try to do a winter planting of kale.

So bring on the spring, and let the gardening BEGIN!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Door Opens ...

At least it opens a little bit wider, anyway.  Back around New Years I posted the sad announcement that the philosopher didn't get the position at the school where he's been adjuncting for a couple of years.  I also posted about a possible job at another Happy Southern School, and told of our friends and my desire not to hope for it too much because the disappointment was so fresh.

Well, the philosopher has a phone interview tomorrow.  We were laughing about it on our hike this past weekend, saying that we had friends there already, and we knew where we would go to church, and by golly there is even a 1920s Arts and Crafts house for sale that we would love to buy and restore.  So really, all we needed was a reason to move!

We're not quite at that point, but yes, we are hopeful.  It's been a long time wandering in this desert.  I don't know if we've learned what God wanted us to learn here, but I'd like to think we've grown in ways we don't even realize.  I do know that we are both ready to start on our next adventure and we pray that this path, which seems so clear right now, is the way we need to go.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hiking in February

It's a great idea when it's 70 degrees!  Hurrah for a warm weekend!

For Saturday's adventure, we first had to actually gain access to the trailhead.  This involved no mean feat - traversing 10 miles of rather alarming forest service roads in a small sedan.  (In our defense, the Alabama Atlas and Gazetteer, as well as Google, said these roads were COUNTY roads.  Not so much, I say!)  Fortunately, we've been rain-free for a while so the roads, while terribly dusty and completely frightening to drive on, were passable. We ended up at the Pine Glen Campground, deep in the heart of the Talladega National Forest.  It's actually a nice place, with toilet facilities and such.  We parked next to another small sedan and noticed it had a flat tire - "A-ha, we proclaimed - they must have came the same way we did!"

The campground is sited next to Shoal Creek, a wide and deep waterway that is filled with fish and turtles.

We started out on the trail, headed for our turnaround spot at the Laurel Shelter, some 4 1/2 miles north.

Along the way, we hiked around the western edge of Sweetwater Lake.  Folks were out fishing, and there was a boy scout troop setting up camp for an overnight. 

The shelter was built by a small creek, and there were some really cool rock formations.  As you can see, though, I was too tired to really appreciate the scenery!  ::grin::

This marks our longest hike ever, over nine miles!  And I just did the math based on our hiking log (I'm a librarian, remember - I keep notes of this kind of stuff!) and discovered we've hiked over 68 miles of the Pinhoti Trail.  That's pretty darn good for someone who didn't own a pair of hiking boots until three years ago!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Re - re - do!

Well, occasionally I don't win one.  You may remember, back in 2008, when the philosopher and I renovated the main bathroom?  It went from a horrid brown with pheasants to a slightly less horrid white with blue.


Zana was never *really* happy with the white and blue combo, but she was loathe to admit she.... may have made a mistake on color.  OK, Ok, ok.... I CHOSE POORLY.  (Fortunately we're not talking about the grail here.)

So this past summer (yes, it's been a long time but what with this and that it was Labor Day and then Christmas and then February and then we remembered to take a picture) the philosopher went to a week-long conference.  And of course, what do I do when he goes out of town?  I paint something!  I decided to re-do the bathroom, with a little help from my dad the cabinetmaker.  We rebuilt the closet door and the vanity doors, giving them a beadboard look.  I painted the white walls brown, and the vanity and medicine cabinet white.  We already had dark blue towels and other accents, so - voila - bathroom 2.0!

What you can't see is the roman shade and valance, which is white with a dark blue and a mottled khaki stripe, and the lovely shower curtain from my mother-in-law, which is white with a dark blue stripe.  And the hallway is no longer dark brown, but white.  Bonus!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Art Project

Well, it's sort-of an art project.  When we were in New Orleans this past December, we were browsing the antique stores (read that "junk shops") which have all manner of random ephemera for sale.  From voodoo dolls to Victorian cabinets to cobalt and jadite glassware, there's something for everyone.  We were visiting a place called "Greg's Antiques" (I kid you not.)  What caught my eye were these... interesting... sculptures of birds made out of brightly painted bits of metal.  My father collects flamingo statuary (again, I kid you not) and I thought one of these would make a GREAT Christmas gift.  Alas, plenty of pelicans, no flamingos.  (Sorry, dad!)

But they did have an astonishing array of architectural salvage... doors, windows, archways, all kinds of stuff.  We saw some small stained glass windows that were obviously from the craftsman era - very simple and geometric.  Some were in decent shape, some were cracked or broken, some had busted frames.  They were selling them at a price we could afford (read that "cheap" - he's not kidding on his website when he says he has "the lowest antiques prices in New Orleans".)  Later I looked up similar windows online, and they were selling for hundreds of dollars.  So for about 50 bucks, we got a DEAL.

Anyway, we bought one.  It was one of the few that didn't have a geometrical design, but rather an abstract flower.  The window was loose in the frame, but the frame was reasonably solid and all the panes were tight to the lead.  So we purchased it, wrapped it up and brought it home.  The philosopher reset the glass in the frame and reglazed it, and we roughly sanded the remaining paint and gave it a topcoat.  We tossed around a bunch of ideas on where to put it, and finally decided to hang it over the railing between the kitchen and the study.   Voila!

This is looking down from the kitchen to the study (yes, our house has a crazy layout!)  The window is about head-high.

This is a view from the study looking up, with the new track lighting beautifully illuminating the glass.

Yay, art project!

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Great Snow of 2011

Well, it actually wasn't all that great. We were trapped at home for several days, and school was closed for a week. Fortunately, we had power and water and plenty of food, so the only negative was very cold temps and a deep desire to get out and Do Something.  Unfortunately, the entire northern half of Alabama came to a screeching halt as everyone surveyed the snow-covered scene in stunned disbelief.

A day later, and the 4-lane highway at the end of our little street was still a mess.  We would've walked down to get some barbeque (there's a place just before that curve in the road) but since THEY couldn't get to work, we were out of luck!

Thanks to the foresight and long suffering labors of the philosopher, he embarked on a major project: shoveling our Entire Driveway. It was a smart move, as our neighbor's driveway remained a solid sheet of ice for an entire week!


After he came back in for a steaming cup of hot tea, we toyed with the idea of shoveling our little street too.  There are only three houses on it, and it's a dead end, so we knew the snow plows would never make an appearance.  We decided not to, but later that day we did what we could to drive the truck up and down, hoping to melt away some of the snow while it was soft so it could evaporate before the deep cold settled in that evening. 

Well, it kinda worked.  Three days later we were able to escape!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What Not To Wear?

OK, I admit to being a viewer (I don't think I will go so far as to call myself a "fan") of TLC's show "What Not To Wear".  I've learned some things about how clothes fit, and why certain styles look better on certain body types.  I've giggled at some of the hosts' jokes, and been horrified at some outfits.  There are some "reality shows" that focus on getting a laugh by making fun and demeaning whatever regular joe is on.  This one, I would like to think, really is focused on making the women (who is nominated by her friends) feel better about themselves and how they look and dress.  Plus, the show gives them five thousand dollars to spend in New York City on new clothes.  Bonus!

All that to say, I've been looking in my own closet a little more carefully these days.  And I haven't been all that crazy about what I see.  It's been a while since I've really purchased any new clothes, and many of my "work clothes" are showing significant signs of wear.  So when my dad asked me what I needed for Christmas this year, I told him that I could use some new work clothes.  He was amazingly generous, and Christmas Day I found myself confronted with a $300 Visa gift card and a mandate to "spend it all on clothes".

Did I mention I abhor shopping for clothes?

Sigh.  Be careful of what you ask for - you may get it!  My dear, long-suffering and patient husband agreed to assist me in the task ahead.  I knew some of the basics that I needed, like khaki pants, a black skirt, and a new blouse or two.  But beyond that.... yikes!  Much to the surprise of our biologist friend (visiting us for New Year's), she got roped into the experience too.  And we started the day in my closet, looking at what I already had and what I needed to send to the thrift store.  She wasn't as cranky as Clinton and Stacy are, but it was stressful, let me tell you.  (Did I mention I detest shopping for clothes??!?)

So off we went... to the mall.  To the Big Box Clothing Stores that intimidate me in their vastness and befuddle me in their methods of organization.  By the way, did I mention I have a bit of a snarky side, and it really comes out when I'm perusing current fashions?  This personality feature was merely enhanced by the presence of the philosopher and the biologist!  So once we got the snark out of our systems, we settled down to some serious shopping.

Did I mention I'm also a bit of a ... well ... penny pincher?

So I hit the sale racks.  And came to the realization that the "sale racks" should be called the "tacky clothes no one else would buy racks" or the "clothes in completely unwearable sizes either tent-like or barbie-shaped racks".  Nonetheless, I persevered.  Since I had two watchdogs making sure I didn't bolt from the building, I had to try stuff on.  And I had to try on stuff THEY found.  And they cheered when I said "You know, I kinda like this." And that was affirming, so I wanted to hear it again, so I found another suitable garment.  WooHOO!  A breakthough!

Actually, no.  I gave up the ghost after Sears, Belk, and JC Penney and ran away.  Not empty-handed, but nowhere near done with my task.

So my biologist friend went home, and the next weekend we spent the day in Birmingham.  At the Really Big Mall.  No, the REALLY BIG Mall.  The one with the hotel attached to it!  ACK!  There I discovered two things which surprised me greatly - there is actually a boutique store whose clothing I like and can wear (White House / Black Market) and a very snobby store that sells petite clothing that actually fits (Talbots).  Hurrah - more success!

The following week we had a blizzard that shut down my employer for a whole week.  By mid-week, unfortunately, I was stir crazy.  The main roads were safe, and the retailers were back in business.  So I escaped the confines of our house (leaving the philosopher to his philosophical musings) and went up the road to try my luck one last time.  I had about $75 left, and wanted to maximize my value, so I hit Ross, and Marshalls, and TJ Maxx (These should be labeled STORES "With tacky clothes no one wants to pay retail for".  Then I went to Kohls, and Dress Barn - and, miracle of miracles, I was FINISHED!

So, much like What Not To Wear, here is a catalog of what I got with my Christmas money....

1 black skirt
4 pairs of dress pants
1 pair of jeans (thrift store, I admit, but they fit great and look new!)
2 fine gauge v-neck sweaters
2 sweaters with oxford collars
2 cardigans
2 shells
1 camisole
2 dressy tank tops
1 oxford shirt
1 corduroy blazer

So top THAT, What Not To Wear!!!! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wow - I hadn't realized how long it's been since I've posted anything...  So here's December in review, and I'll try to get pictures up in another post later.

December came in with a fury, and heartbreaking news that the philosopher did not get the job at the Happy Southern School.  (Lots of prayers needed for that one!)  However, another door opened - well, let's say it unlocked, and we're hoping it opens further - for a position at a Slightly Farther North But Still Happy Southern School.  This job would require relocation, and I would have to leave my job, but that's the only negative.  We have dear friends who work there, and other dear friends in the same town.  I don't want to get my hopes up, because they were so recently brutally bashed.  Still, I'm an eternal optimist, and I *do* have hope.

After the semester ended for both of us, we left for a Much Needed Vacation in New Orleans.  We stayed at La Maison Marigny, a delightful B&B on the residential end of Bourbon Street.  We ate well, and we listened to live jazz and had drinks.  (We were pondering that later, and realized that may be only the second time ever that we were in a bar and both had cocktails....!)  We bought fun-but-inexpensive art, and enjoyed a trip to the World War II museum.  We did a lot of walking and taking pictures, too.  It's funny, but when we first were married we took photos of each other.  Later we started taking pictures of places we had been, usually without people in the frame.  Now?  We're taking pictures of architectural detail!!!

Christmas day my sister-in-law came to visit, which was wonderful.  We only live 2 1/2 hours apart, but there's so little time to actually get to spent time together!  So that was a blessing, and a delight.  Even better, we got over two inches of snow on Christmas Day, a first for our tiny corner of the world.  Yay, snow!  (Boo, bad road conditions!)

For New Year's, our biologist friend came down for a few days.  She and the philosopher played a game of "What Not To Wear" in my closet, and then took me shopping to spend a generous gift card present from my dad.  Most women in the world love to shop - for me it's emotional exhausting and definitely not something I look forward to.  But I have some nice new clothes, and a dear friend to thank for it!

2010 will not go down on the record books as a wonderful year, but all is well for now.  We're still praying, and watching, and waiting for the path.  God's got a plan, we just have to wait until he's ready to reveal it to us.  My impatient side fervently prays that in 2011 will see the way, but nothing can rush God.  And all in all, that's a good thing.