Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Zen of Caulking

To save heat I caulked the Divine Cabin's doors, windows and baseboards, and around the fireplace and anywhere else I could feel a breeze indoors. This has not been done since 1930. It took 3 8-hour days. I am now enlightened. Please avail yourself of this dharma transmission:
  • Confucius say, Cheap or expensive caulking gun are the same.
  • Caulk, like fingernail polish, comes in many shades. If you are a novice like me, buy TRANSPARENT caulk; that way, if you mess up it doesn't look as bad as if you used white or gray. Transparent comes out white, but it eventually turns transparent.
  • It's pretty clear that you'll  have to clip off the tip of the bottle, but don't forget to also then stick a long (tenpenny) nail down in there to puncture the foil seal so the caulk can get out. Withdraw the nail and check its point to make sure there's goo on it, proving that it reached down to the caulk.
  • Wear plastic gloves.
  • Clean what you're caulking before you caulk it.
  • Caulk is not Reddi Wip.It's taffy-like. When caulking, squeeze, move the tip, and relax slightly. Repeat and repeat.
  • Don't try to use the bottle tip to smooth out the lumps and bumps. Instead...
  • ...carry around some craft sticks/tongue depressors to smooth out the lumpy spots.
  • Fill a crack from right to left so you can see where the tip is going.
  • The more you caulk, the more caulking you see needs to be done.
  • Stay awake. Don't, like, caulk your windows shut.
  • Goo, debris, excess, and unsightly extraneous dollops can be removed with a dry cloth while it's fresh, or picked off with the fingers when it's cured (after 24 hours). In between, just accept it for what it is.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Twin Oaks and Twin Oaks and Twin Oaks and....

About 150 years old (judging from the rings of similar-sized trees) this pair of oaks looms over my lane, across from the garage, and they're massive. See, if you can, my six-foot picnic table at their feet. Wind and ice rip off some branches, but in autumn they simply rain acorns and some of 'em take, especially just to their north which is sunlit meadow. And the young trees (three are pictured below) are twin oaks just like their parents. That tickles me no end. I uproot or hack down competitive and invasive red cedars and vines to keep the native Missouri oaks and hickories thriving. After living here 10 years I can see the results, new oaks that will long outlast me, and am so very happy.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Faithfullest Friend

He's back...this time in a beautifully textured "wooden" coat and the loveliest green waistcoat -- my faithful (platonic) friend the Walking Stick. He's hanging on the porch door right now, head down, waiting for me to take his annual portrait -- much more colorful than last year's, when he dressed as a dry stick. I saw him a few days ago clad in chalk-white, playing part of the garage siding. Enter "walking stick" in my search box at upper  LEFT to see his previous outfits. Here you see him at his most handsome and tasteful.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Reason I'm Freezin'

The landlord finally put in new bathroom fixtures, then noticed "stuff" falling out of the bathroom ceiling vent. He calls the heating and cooling (HVAC) guys.

Now, for ten years pink fuzzy "stuff" and then glittery gray "stuff" shot out of the the heating vents every time I used the (forced-air) furnace, so much so that I stretched old nylon stockings over the vents to contain it and so didn't have to sweep it up every hour. The HVAC guys climbed through a little window into the attic where I have never been, ripping down a rotted window box on their way. The attic contains only heating ducts, all chewed through by mice and rife with huge holes. The ducts weren't metal. They were foam, wrapped around a wire skeleton, wrapped with gray plastic, wrapped in one last layer of pink insulation. These are prized mouse-nest-building materials.

So now I know why stuff shot out of the vents, and why a whole tank of propane got sucked up in a couple of months, and the reason the living space, especially the bathroom, never got warm. Mice scrabbled in the ceiling above my bed every winter, waking me at all hours so I'd bang on the walls, throw books and shoes at the ceiling, and yell -- and every couple of weeks put a block of bright blue mouse poison in the wall by the fuse box and within a couple of days they ate it, the little b*****rds. Landlord is going to replace the ducts with metal ducts. Then the HVAC guys told him that was no good without an updated furnace. So I'm gettin' that too, and maybe won't have to dread winter as I have the past couple of years, and pay the electric company big money for constant use of three electric heaters. The lack of heat during winter was one of the few negatives of living here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Love Medicine

Meet the Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica). It is an autumn flower, uncommon but of course we have it here, growing over a small stream (see photo of its environment below right; the lobelia likes "seepy areas"). The wildflower ID book I rely on reveals its old-time uses:

"The Mesquakies used great blue lobelia in love medicines. The roots were finely chopped and mixed into the food of a quarrelsome couple without their knowledge. This, they believed, would avert divorce and make the couple love each other again. Other tribes used root tea for syphilis..."

The book: Kurz, Don. Ozark Wildflowers: a Field Guide to Common Ozark Wildflowers. Helena, MT: Falcon, 1999. ISBN 1-56044-730-3.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Homeless Quilt Comes Home

To raise funds, the county library was raffling off a delectable pink quilt, with hearts and flowers all over it. Smitten as I have never before been by a quilt, I bought 12 chances on it some time ago, waiting for the Saturday Oct. 15 drawing. I told my mom and she predicted I would win it.

On Oct. 14, though, I was admiring the annual quilt show at a city library when a friend asked me, "Do you like quilts?" I said yes. She said, "I have one in my car. I won it, but don't need it. I took it to my daughter who didn't want it, gave it right back to me. It's pink. Do you want it?"

"Oh yes," I said. And my friend dragged a plastic bag out of her backseat and handed it to me. I didn't look at it until I got home and laid it out on my bed. It was exactly the right size, beautiful, and my first quilt. It didn't matter that I didn't win the library's quilt the next day. Well, maybe it did a little, because I loved those pink hearts stitched into it. I understood then that old ladies like hearts on everything because they love life and the earth more than they ever did, love it with more concentration and passion, as their time here runs short.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Surprise in the Shoebox

Fact is the Divine Cabin sits on a concrete slab and the floors radiate cold, starting this time of year. Even through the carpet it'll chill your feet, up to and through wool socks or house slippers, so I always get a pair of thick-soled indoor/outdoor clogs and wear them to shreds every winter runnin' around in here, squashing spiders and whatnot. This year ordered a pair that in the online catalog looked like black suede with gray boiled wool on top. Wool is always right: warm, durable, breathable, and these came in size 8 double-wide and were on sale--what could be better? The link said these were the last ones in my size, so I clicked.

The UPS man brought them today and to my great surprise that is NOT wool on top or even felt, but gray fuzzy stuff with BLACK SEQUINS sewn into it. I was shocked, then delighted: sparkly shoes to cheer me all the gray winter! How could I have wanted anything else?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Can Be Okay, I Guess

We've had the most gorgeous fall weather for weeks on end, days between 70 and 80 degrees, and no frost yet. I go to bed late these days, from working, and rise as late as 9 a.m. when the sun is shining full and clear. My reward is something like this, a photo taken in the meadow this morning. The insignificant white item behind the scarlet leaves is my house.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hum Along

Always comes a day when my hummingbirds leave for the season. The last one left my feeder Sept. 26, about the usual date. And always I grieve because when they fly away they take my heart with them. You love hummingbirds too; you know what I mean.

But I hadn't time to turn around before the big Pileated Woodpecker started his yelling, swooping, and pecking at the suet, leaving all the other birds to look on awed and envious. My Pileateds usually vacation for a month in late summer after the couple is finished rearing its offspring. They don't come for suet for that month, but they do "call" when they see me emerging from my own woodpecker hole, and I greet them loudly in turn. When the weather changes they return for suet and eat it all up like a hundred yards o' chitlin's.

I sing as I put out seed and suet and fresh water in the mornings, to the tune of "Good Night, Ladies":

"Good morning, birdies.
Good morning, bunbuns.
Good morning, ______________  (turtles, turkeys, possums, deer, fawns, coons, foxes, lizards, butterflies, armadillos, moles, frogs, peepers, beavers, muskrats, spiders)
We love you, every one."