Monday, June 18, 2018

a milkweed bug hug

"It is little wonder that Mrs. [John Quincy] Adams did not always see the point and was grateful for the ending, the more so because a quasi-pointless existence had been very draining to her husband, who had been worn down by his listless existence and by the climate, and who, as she put it to him, had sunk into a 'state of inanity.'"  

This is an excerpt from Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon by Michael O'Brien, and I thought it was incredibly apt for our current situation.  With multiple 95 degree days behind us and a string 96 - 98 degree days in front of us, Todd doesn't even like to go outside now.  Indiana Julys and Augusts are miserably hot, but then it's over.  Here the heat will just keep going.  I'm encouraged by the thought of cool September mornings, but I think he is having trouble remembering them, much like Frodo in Return of the King who can't remember the taste of strawberries (why stop at one literary reference? Ha!).  But I did convince him to go for one last hike at the Botanical Gardens. 

Much of the garden is shaded, which provided a nice respite from the heat.  Lots of shade plants were thriving.  I just love the vivid colors of their hydrangeas.

Even the white hydrangea have a little splash of green to help make an impact.  I love them!

Sometimes it's the shape, not the color, which provides the pop.

I loved seeing the flowers, but I was especially pleased to see some insects.  I thought these two milkweed bugs were fighting over territory...

...until I saw this!

Love was in the air!  On another plant, I saw another milkweed bug with her babies.

I saw lots of flies, of course.  This one let me get pretty close.  That amber drop?  Vomit!  Flies use their digestive enzymes externally instead of in their gut.  Pretty cool!

It felt good to stretch our legs, even though Borga was pretty tired after our walk!

At home, the usual suspects.  Clotilde is staring down chipmunks...

...or driving Tabitha crazy in the sun room.

Bosewichte is loving his new sleeping spaces.

The finch babies are growing, although I still can't tell which one is the cowbird.

I posted this picture on Facebook with the notation that Todd and I will likely feel like these two toads that I found in our carport when we move into our new apartment, since we're so used to having more space.

It's true...we've found a tiny temporary apartment to live in (approved, just need to sign the lease and pay the deposit).  We've also found warehouse storage space for the business that, ironically, is bigger than our apartment!  But today is the absolute most stressful day.  First the appraiser comes.  If we don't pass, the bank won't loan the money for the house.  The contractor comes to try to fix that broken door.  If he can't fix it, the whole wall unit will have to be torn out and replaced, and that repair could be as much as $5,000 (plus the original $1000 for the attempt).  The buyers will have our response to their home inspection requests today, too.  If they don't agree, the whole deal could fall through, which is too awful to even contemplate.  So I'm headed to the gym, and then will try to keep busy and NOT THINKING ABOUT THE POSSIBILITIES until we get some news.  Stay tuned! 

Monday, June 11, 2018

the move groove

And...we have babies!!

Two of the eggs have hatched, one of which was the cowbird egg.  These babies look the same to me, though.  Maybe time will tell?  I'll check again later in the week. 

Lots of other activity, too.  Our goz are getting bigger and bigger.

It's now common to see anoles everywhere.

And...we have a toad hole!  A small hole in the blacktop behind the house.  There's always a toad sitting in it.  Always. 

If you come close, the toad retreats into the hole.  Sometimes you see the tip of his nose poking out...or just his hind legs!

Clotilde is back.

She's always around when I'm working outside...

...or tormenting Tabitha from the safety of her stairs perch (this is Tabitha in watchful, pre-attack mode):

I just hate to leave her behind.  But she's been a neighborhood outdoor cat for years, and our neighborhood is full of people who feed any stray that comes around.  I know I have to do it.

Other, less obvious activity in the yard...a spittlebug, leaving small evidence of its presence:


A beautiful venusta orchard spider, waiting for a meal...

Nice new growth on some ferns...

And, everywhere, mushrooms of all shapes and sizes popping up!

Todd and I have been working to get ready for the move...

It's a stressful time.  We packed what we could, but not our daily essentials (which are suspiciously numerous) or big furniture.  And, of course, not our business merchandise.  But for the purposes of upcoming inspections, the attic and crawl space had to be emptied, and so now the house is full of cardboard boxes. 

A little yard work...some future planning...a little business work (early summer is notoriously slow)...and a lot of empty time.  I'm averaging three days per 1000-piece puzzle, and I've just put together my last one.  I'm doing a lot of anxious room-to-room and distraction-to-distraction flitting.  Hopefully this will be the last truly stressful week.  We hope to pass the termite and housing inspection, nail down a contractor for our glass door fix (no pun intended!), secure movers/trucks, and sign a lease on temporary housing AND warehouse storage...all by this Friday.  Eek!  Todd reminds me to "just put one foot in front of the other..." I appreciate the sentiment, but I'll be glad for many reasons when these hurdles are passed.

Have a great week! 

Monday, June 4, 2018

let the sun shine in...

We had our last torrential rain storm on Friday!  Thankfully we didn't lose any trees this time, although we heard the cracking of trees or big limbs falling in the woods fairly regularly.  It's gardenia time, but delicate white flowers and constant wet do not mix well.

However, they persevered, and new blooms are ready to burst open!

The ducks love the rainy weather.

The goz do too.  I see them daily feeding on soggy vegetation down by the pond.  They're getting so big!  The oldest ones have finally taken on their adult coloration. 

They grow up so fast...sniff sniff!  At least the babies are still babies!

Meanwhile, since the weather is finally dry, Clotilde has settled on the stairs outside our sun room.  Tabitha objects strenuously but there's nothing she can do, really, except be grumpily watchful.

A bit of excitement on the front porch!  Last week, I noticed a finch egg smashed on the driveway. did it get out of the nest?  When I had time the next day, I checked and saw this:

Amazing!  See the larger speckled egg?  That's a cowbird egg.  Cowbirds don't make their own nests.  They watch and wait.  When they see a bird leave an existing nest, they sneak in, steal and destroy an egg, and replace it with one of their own.  The nest owner doesn't suspect a thing, even when the cowbird egg hatches a week before the others and the young bird is unusually big.  So the young cowbird will be bigger, stronger, and get more food than the other finches in this nest.  Sometimes they smother their competition. Mama cowbird, however, can move on without a thought and continue depositing eggs.  She can lay up to EIGHTY EGGS in a 2-year period!  But many don't survive, which will likely be the case here.  Cowbirds eat insects, and these finch fledglings will be fed seeds.  The young cowbird will probably starve.  There's a big internet debate about whether people should remove and destroy cowbird eggs when they are found in other nests, but I try to have a non-interference policy.  I'm curious to see what happens here! 

Work has been slow, and I've been working on things that don't make a big mess that have to be frantically cleaned up for showings, like puzzles.  I am an addict and have finished two in the past 2 weeks.

But soon, I won't have time for puzzles.

We sold our house!  As long as all goes well with inspections, etc., we close in early July.  It still seems unbelievable.  I'm not sure when we're packing up the house...where we'll stay when we reach Indiana...if we'll be buying or renting while we look.  For this type A person who's a compulsive planner, this is both exciting and scary!  Especially when we'll have truckloads of merchandise, 2 cats, and a dog.  But at least I know that it's going to be an adventure!

Have a great week!

Monday, May 28, 2018

park larks and pack stacks

We've had nearly nonstop rain for the past two weeks, and another week of rain is forecast.  It's been great for flowers...

...pretty spiderwebs...

...and especially fungus.  I believe this is called Witch's Butter, but I think it looks like an image of magnified mold!

We've got the usual slime molds...

...and dog vomit fungus.

The rain is relaxing, especially after the hectic spring we've had.  Our lives have had a little bit of this lately...

(waiting out a showing with the pets in the park)

...because of this!

Yes, we've put our house up for sale and are leaving South Carolina.  We have been talking about what's important to us - a network of good friends, proximity to great hiking and kayaking, four seasons, a town that's progressive and inclusive, somewhere with a lot going on and many ways to get involved.  South Carolina doesn't really check any of those boxes for us, but Bloomington, Indiana hits them all.  Todd lived there for a decade while attending Indiana University and we loved it.  Now that we're in our 40s and looking to improve our quality of life for the long term, settling there just makes sense. 

So back in March, we started packing up the house.

We filled two storage units...

...and are living in a fairly empty house now!  The empty house isn't so bad, but we've had several "Murphy's Law" events.  First, the improperly-installed back living room windows were bowing out more and more, so we had to have the entire wall of windows removed and rebuilt.

Next, an interior pane of glass in one of the guest bedroom doors experienced "spontaneous breakage" from, most likely, improper installation...fifteen years ago.  It's the door on the far left...

...which, close up, looks like this.

Eight glass-repair companies later, we've discovered that since these four doors were installed as a single unit, it may be impossible to separate them.  Meaning that this entire wall would have to be removed, trashed, and replaced with a new wall unit of doors.  It's a multi-thousand dollar repair and we're still hoping to find a contractor that can replace just one section of door. 

Besides these (and many, many other) professional repair jobs, we've also rolled up our sleeves and:  scrubbed and painted the trim and bookshelves throughout the entire upstairs, scrubbed and spot-painted walls, repainted interior and exterior kitchen cabinets, refinished the gas fireplace, did wall and floor repair in the basement, and a whole host of other jobs that just blur together for me now.  March, April, and May have been pack and clean, pack and clean, pack and clean.  The house was listed a little over 2 weeks ago...we've had some great showings...and just waiting for an offer. 

The cats miss the boxes...

...but they'll have an opportunity to frolic in them again once we sell the house and pack up our remaining things! 

Have a great week!