Monday, April 30, 2012

Post-its Post

A few days ago, the kidlet decided to help me clean as a surprise... I was upstairs working and didn't know what had happened until I went downstairs for something and found:

On the storm door:

On the dining table near the door out back:

On the sliding glass door:

On the kitchen counters:

On the throw rug by the back door:

On the kitchen floor:
The cat checking out the post-its:

The Tupperware cabinet:

On the fridge:
And the stove:

The basement steps:

It was adorable.  I guess I'll keep her.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spring Break

Sorry ... a little late posting. But it's the kidlet's spring break AND the week of her thirteenth birthday. I'm taking the week off everything that isn't mandatory in order to spend more time with her. Back on Monday!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Public Service Announcement: Beware the Spawn of Satan

What spawn of Satan you ask?


I know, I know ... the little blue toilet tablet cleaners LOOK innocent enough. I was lulled into a false sense of security when I bought mine a couple weeks ago.

Then it happened...

Three of our four toilets (yes, I really have that many -- bet YOU wish you got to scrub four toilets) started flushing weird. Slowly. Not clogged, exactly, but not always getting everything down and acting like they were sort of clogged.

At first we thought it might be our septic tank -- but why would ONE toilet still be working okay?

Today, I googled it to see if there was anything I could do. And I found this information:

1. If you use blue toilet cleaning tablets that create a blue coating on your toilet bowl, you may be unpleasantly surprised to find that these little guys are the cause of many toilet problems. When placed in your tank, they dissolve and settle on the bottom, changing the density of the water and preventing its normal flow. While it may seem impossible for such a small thing to create such a big problem, there is no end to the number of people who have found their toilet bowl cleaner to be the culprit! The way to fix this is to empty all the water out of your toilet's tank, using a sponge to soak up the remaining residue on the bottom. After this, let it fill back up and flush several times. This should get your toilet back to normal. Also, if your cleaning tablet attaches inside the bowl itself, chunks and large! particles of it may break off and clog inside the angled water inlet holes under the rim. The solution to this can be found in the next cause.

2. The toilet bowl is filled with water after flushing by means of small angled inlet holes under the rim. These holes commonly become clogged by the buildup of calcite and other mineral deposits over time. ... Fixing this problem is as simple as cleaning out the holes. Often, prodding them with something hard or sharp will do the trick. For more serious clogs, it might help to use white vinegar to dissolve the buildup.

And I started thinking about when our problems started ... a few days after I put those tablets in the tank.

So, this afternoon I put on my yellow latex gloves and, armed with a Brillo pad, white vinegar, a small mirror and an opened, heavy paperclip I attacked the potties. I turned off the water and emptied the tanks. I scrubbed all the yellow iron buildup and blue crap off the inside. The first three potties had no sign of the table left: the "public" potty, mine and DD's. But when I prodded the little holes under the rim of my toilet with my paperclip, it came back dark blue. And those holes didn't let any water out.

Yep. They were completely blocked by blue goo from the tablets.

I poked. I prodded. I flushed. I scrubbed. I COULD NOT GET THOSE HOLES UNPLUGGED.

I dumped a pile of vinegar and baking soda into the tank and moved on to the one toilet that was still functioning properly.

When I opened the tank, I discovered that most of the table was still in there. This is the potty least used by us, and clearly it was a blessing. I scooped out the blue goo (got it all over the freaking place) and scrubbed the tank. Flushed. Flushed. Flushed. Flushed ... until it ran clear and there was no more blue.

Went back and dumped vinegar and baking soda into the other two potties.

My hope is that if I keep treating them and poking with my paperclip and flushing, flushing, flushing (because, yeah, I love wasting water and power) they will clear out the blue goo that clogs them.

And I will never, never EVER use those blue toilet tablets again. You shouldn't either. You've been warned.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Really Dug My Weekend!

Honestly, the weather was lovely, so I spent most of it on outdoor chores. Take a walk with me...

This is going to be our strawberry patch (this picture was taken on Saturday morning):

This one is as far as I managed to go before I ran out of steam (I don't use a tiller for many reasons too numerous to list -- plus I wanted some of the grass):

Here's what I wanted the grass for -- to plug some spots where the Japanese Beetle grubs attacked last year (we're investing in milky spore this year -- it's been ten years since we applied it last time, and it's clearly run its course):

I found a mama spider when I was digging ... I felt just awful messing with her "house". She's guarding her egg sac here. They actually carry the egg sac around with them and I didn't want her to get so freaked out that she left it behind, so we built her a little "house with rocks where she could hide while we finished. I think she appreciated it :-)

The daffodils around my well pump are blooming and look lovely:

But we're already having visitors (that's a deer print for you city folk):

I found these odd holes in some of the spots the grubs killed -- I think they're from the robins (who are eating the grubs -- GO ROBINS!):

We still have a LOT of work to do, but DD got her garden cleared:

And we'll get peas and spinach and chard seed planted this week.

All in all a pretty good weekend.

How was yours?


Friday, April 13, 2012

This and That

Last night I dreamed someone stole Dakota out of my car at the gas station. I was looking at the security video, holding her leash and hoping she'd just jumped out. Then I saw this guy grab her, crying and struggling, from the back seat of my car. It upset me enough I woke up, heart pounding.

I'm still upset and keep looking to make sure she's right here with me.

In other news, I thought I'd share some pictures from my street from my latest walk.

My neighbor has an old bird's nest in his tree -- I know it's from last year, because the year before it was there but got ruined over the winter, so the birds must have rebuilt it. I hope they move in again this year. I'm going to try to remember to check it again in a few weeks...

We have this strange phenomena that happens every now and then -- this ant swarm thing. On the edges of the road, there are cracks and sometimes, from these cracks we get ants.

Lots and lots of ants...

I don't know why. It's the strangest thing. I suppose I could Google it.

DH has a co-worker who has a bazillion strawberry plants that he's going to share with us. I said to DH, "Didn't you tell me growing strawberries out here was hard because the birds and beasts get them?" and he responded, "What plants of yours DON'T the birds and beasts get to?"

Uh. Yeah. There is that.

So we're going to grow strawberries.

And lastly, if you haven't already, go congratulate Maria Zannini on her latest contract. She's had a rough time of it lately (parvo, tornadoes, computers) so the good news was a welcome change.

Have an awesome weekend!


Monday, April 09, 2012

The Cunning Voles of Doom -- STRIKE AGAIN!

So ... just when you think it's safe to plant again, guess what moved in? See the tracks?

Yep ... they've moved into my flower garden over the culvert -- where I've had creeping phlox cascading over the bricks every spring for years:

Wanna see what it lookes like THIS year?

They may LOOK cute, but they are PURE EVIL.


Sunday, April 08, 2012

Monday, April 02, 2012

Accentuate the Positive

Spent a good part of the weekend filling out DD's application for the new school. It's not just a matter of "name, address, phone number". They ask those tough questions (like the ones we hear in job interviews, ala "Why should I hire you?").

DD fell to pieces yesterday trying to write a one page essay on "What do you have to offer our school?"

She has a tough time seeing the small bites it takes to eat an entire meal (and, no Michele, once again it's not about food *G*) and only a huge plate of lima beans and beef liver that she doesn't want.

Yeah, essays about your good points are like that.

You ever realize how hard it is to talk about yourself in a positive way? To say, "I'm smart." or "I'm creative." or "I'm capable." or the absolute hardest thing to say about yourself, "I'm pretty."

It's very sad.

Worse, when my DH and I had to sit down and fill out questions on her strengths and weaknesses HE had a hard time coming up with any. About broke my heart.

I have a laundry list.

Is she perfect? No, she's far from it. She's not a self-starter. She's not very good at problem-solving. She's stubborn and has a quick temper. She tends to be a little lazy and has no problem walking right past something that needs doing without even seeing it.

BUT... she's also amazingly intelligent. She loves to learn. She's creative and clever and loves to work with her hands. She's funny and nurturing and has a heart as big as Alaska. She's my wonderful daughter, and she's beautiful.

After her big meltdown about the report, I asked her what her strengths were. After she stared off into space and finally answered, "I don't know." I prompted her a bit. And then told her to make an outline for the report with her strengths and how the manifest in her life.

Small bites.

She got that done, thankfully. Her job tonight and tomorrow is to make that outline into an essay.

The fun never ends.

How was your weekend?