AhuvaNet 2.0

After my first attempt at netting my garden seemed to have holes in it *giggle*, I decide to up my game. 🙂 I wanted to move the nets up and out from the plants, so that nothing could nibble through the netting. My neighbor mentioned that the deer had totally stripped her mandevilla plant, although to date they’d not touched mine. They (or the groundhogs) had consumed nearly all of the potato vine in the base of that pot, but not the mandevilla itself. I decided that as long as I was going to re-work the netting along the front walk, I’d do “something” about protecting the plants in front of the hedge – which is where there is no longer a pale orange gladiola.

if you are walking by on the sidewalk, you still see flowers first, and then the netting

I stared at all the different net and screen material in the store, some nylon/plastic, some wire. I chose nylon netting for 2 reasons: easier to handle and a little less obvious. I stayed with the chicken wire (as opposed to screen material) because I think that webbing is sufficient to deter the deer but still let the insects move about, and let the flowers be seen.

the green plant stakes do a decent job of keeping the netting off of the plants themselves

I wanted to drape the net over all the pots along the front walk, but not on the plants directly. I realized that I could use the plant stakes I had already to lift the net up above the plants and out to the sides of the pots. That worked quite nicely. I’ve anchored the bottom under various pots and so far it appears to be stable. It’s only been 3 nights but no obvious damage in those 3 nights.

the front netting wraps about the side of the gladiola

Protecting the front garden was going to be a bit more tricky. I wanted it protected but not obscured. I needed a fence stretching across the whole front, and hope that the deer would not be smart enough to figure out they could go around the side of the house and come in through the back. 🙂 The only draw-back to the netting that I’ve noticed so far is that I’ve made it difficult for butterflies to get to the flowers. 😦 I realized this when I saw a huge beautiful butterfly on my zinnias. I’m not sure I can have it both ways – No to Deer, Yes to Butterflies – but I’ll give it more thought.

there’s easily 2 feet between the hedge and the netting, and the stupid gladiolas INSIST on poking through, no matter how I try to rearrange them

Did We Annoy Someone?

My neighbors and I had an interesting weekend. We are living the Homeowners’ Motto: It’s Always Something. You know that last week for me was the HVAC worker stepping through the dining room ceiling. The fun continued.

Only 3 of the piles in this pic. This morning there were 5 and they were much larger.

Either Friday or Saturday I noticed a huge dirt ant pile between my lawn and the sidewalk. As we were still allowed to water that day (maybe it was as early as Thursday?) I used the hose to wash away the pile. There is also some huge and scary looking flying thing that has appeared in the last few days. I’ve never seen anything like it before and I wish I’d not seen it now. It’s big and it moves very quickly. There had been only one and now there are 2, and they seem to like those ant piles. First there was one ant pile which I washed away. There were 2 the next day. This morning there were 5. Thank goodness for the electricians!!!! Eli kicked them all apart with his big heavy steel protected work boots and he stepped on something icky as well. My hero! Could the extreme heat and drought be causing the ant hills and these bugs? The flying things don’t look like wasps – I don’t see any obvious stinger. But they are intimidating.

UPDATE: Or why it’s important to have your teeth cleaned regularly. According to the folks at the dentists’ office these are wood wasps, and those are NOT ant hills. They are the burrows of these ground wasps. I was told to flood them out. I’ll let you know if that works.

This is the little one. I think that the larger one has a more vibrant, larger yellow/black body

Two houses down from me an ENORMOUS branch came down. No wind. No storm. No noise. They’d had branches trimmed several weeks ago. This was a live branch – not dead wood. No sign of infestation. I wonder if one of those lower branches had been supporting this big one and no one had noticed. My other neighbor snapped a picture capturing how lucky someone was – the branch landed BETWEEN 2 cars, not on any car, not on any person. Lucky despite the bad luck.

Those are soft white pine needles so the cars are not scratched

As Helen and I stood there this morning staring at the tree, my next door neighbor came out. THEIR main is backed up and he’s home waiting for the plumber. Do you think it’s going to stop with us 3 or do we need to warn the rest of the neighbors????

Why does a live branch come down if there’s no obvious climate event?

I Need A Better Net

Let’s see you get through this bamboo cloche!!!!

Something nibbled off the top of one of my grape tomato plants. I understand that hibiscus is to deer as dark chocolate is to Ahuva, but do NOT touch my grape tomatoes!!!! I have a lot of old netting and screen material in the garage from other projects so I decided it was time to be creative.

I had a very long piece of nylon netting that I strung over the potted plants along the front walk. Then I sprayed the netting with Repel-All. I’d like to think it worked but if you look closely at the photos you can see that there IS a big red hibiscus flower under the netting, but that flower is NOT there now. I’m going to guess that means the gaps were large enough for someone to reach in and snag the flower.

I took the screen material and draped it about the tomato cages. I used binder clips to hold it in place. It was actually quite easy to cut and attach, despite the fact that I was attempting this after returning from cocktails with my sister. 🙂 I had one little piece of leftover screen that I draped over the small hibiscus plant and anchored that by tucking it against other pots.

Maybe it’s working, maybe not. What DID happen last night was a savage attack on my gladiolas. 😦 I noticed yesterday that I had a gorgeous pale orange gladiola in full bloom. I didn’t have my camera with me at that moment and then forgot to go back and take a picture. She who hesitates is lost. There is NO beautiful gladiola this morning. There IS a bitten stalk. Sigh.

I think I’ll head out and look for some light-weight netting this weekend. I’ll drive stakes into the grass so I can raise the netting up off of the plants but still protect them. Not quite sure how to raise/anchor the side that is next to the walk. Maybe if I put stakes in the pots to lift the net UP, and then anchor the material under the pots that will be effective. I’d worry about watering through the netting but we’ve been placed under voluntary water restrictions. I’m not going to be doing that much watering anyway. *snort* I’ll be ‘watering’ with Repel-All and Critter Ridder.

Call Me Chicken Little

It wasn’t the sky that fell today. It was my dining room ceiling.

Yesterday there were 3 electricians here all day, stringing wire, changing boxes, turning off and on the circuit breakers. All things considered, fairly peaceful. 🙂 I managed my 3:30 pm call without a break in my internet. Today the HVAC team arrived. Four of them in 2 vans. Vadim was the spokesman. I showed him the upstairs, showed him the now-safe drop-down attic stairs, apologized for the stuff in the attic, and showed him the newly pruned section of my garden where the compressor would reside. He asked for more boxes if I had them because they need to move the vast majority of the stuff that was in the attic out of the attic. Of course a lot of that stuff was already boxed up because we’d moved it up there from the 2nd floor.

Had I been working at this computer the ceiling would have come down on my head

I found him another 6 boxes and let them box up my books and move boxes down to the room over the dining room. That was my son’s bedroom and my office, and that’s what it will be again. I was working away at my work computer when I heard a loud breaking crashing noise behind me. I turned around and saw a big hole in the ceiling and plaster hanging from the edges of the hole. I was so shaken. I was terrified. I was calling up the stairs “are you alright? are you alright?” as I picked my way out of the dining room and up the stairs.

that’s a big foot and the plaster is bigger

You might remember from prior pictures that a lot of the floor up there is not there. There are some firmly situated boards, loosely laid boards, and holes. Apparently one of the young workers missed the board, stepped into the hole, and through the ceiling. There are so many blessings given this near disaster. He was wearing long pants. Had he not been, had it been one of the 2 workers in shorts, I’m sure his leg would have been shredded. It was one of the lighter-weight workers, only his leg went through, he didn’t fall but we all had a huge scare. Thank goodness I was “at work”. Had I been on my personal computer some of that plaster would have come down on my head. The falling plaster missed the chandelier. The pieces that hit the monitors were small fragments that hit the frame, and not the screen. There happened to be a cushion on the end of the dining room table although I think the glass there is sufficiently thick that it would not have been damaged. The dining room floor is chipped, but I think that we can fix it without needing to replace the floor boards.

a little more to the right and he’d have been on the chandelier

It could have been so much worse. I was very shaken and I can only imagine how the fallee was feeling. One of the other workers came down immediately to sweep it up and clean things. *laughing* I was lucky to get my photos taken he came so quickly!! Of course now I need to have the dining room ceiling repainted and I did that only 2 years ago. 😦 I can think of all sorts of macabre comments to put here but I don’t want to go that direction. *shudder* Anyway, it was quite an exciting morning. I can do without that kind of excitement.

those little white bits on the floor are pieces of plaster that “splattered” over to where I was sitting

Losing Battle

Denuded Hibiscus 😦

We went to dinner at friends’ house last night. Before I got in the car I sprayed all the tasty plants with Repel-all. Truth to tell, I don’t know if the plants were okay when we got home again – we were both tired and went inside and to bed. It rained last night/early this morning. We’ve needed the rain. It’s been 3 or 4 weeks since it rained last. I went out this morning and the hibiscus plants are denuded. It really is a bit discouraging. I don’t want to live in drought conditions but I have to believe that the deer came by for a post-rain snack. So in that respect the rain is NOT my friend. 😦 If they’d only stick to the flowers and not eat the leaves, the plants would regenerate so much faster. 😦

Bounteous crop

On the plus side I DO have a crop of grape tomatoes! AND I took the hedge trimmer into my own hands and dealt with the hedge. I’ve hired someone to come dig up and grind 3 bushes on the side of the house for the planned central air unit. Randy came by to give the quote either the week I had Covid or the 2nd week when I no longer tested positive but was still completely wiped out. I asked him to add trimming the front hedge to the quote. I had an email from him last Friday that said they’d be here this past week, weather permitting. Let me remind you: no rain for 3-4 weeks now. They never came, they never called, they never wrote. Yesterday morning I got out my ladders and hedge clippers, dealt with the hedge, and sent an email to Randy asking for a revised quote – no hedge trimming. I guess that would count as a winning battle, right? 🙂

“I’ll do it myself” said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

My Latest Literary Education Sessions

A typical haul from the library

There are so many advantages to reading. If you are a reader you know what I mean. Vocabulary, ideas, history, escape. I love mysteries because they usually end with all the pieces in place – nice and orderly. I’ve been doing a LOT of reading lately. I “stumbled on” several stories that were not by my usual authors. I’m not always good at trying new authors. Often I want the characters I know already, I don’t want to put the effort into “meeting new people”. 🙂 The books below not only provided good mysteries and stories but provided one of my favorite benefits of reading: the necessity to do research. I LOVE when I am forced to look up a new word or when I realize I am totally ignorant of either the geography or the world events in which the story takes place. The books below all had me searching terms and events all through my reading.

Let’s do this chronologically. A confession – I’ve been reading Lindsey Davis for years. I started with the Marcus Didius Falco and when he ‘retired’ I kept on going with his daughter Flavia Albia. So this is not a “stumbled on” recently – we are old friends. 🙂 I’d fallen behind on my reading for a bit when Covid closed the libraries. Years ago I soothed my reading itch by browsing book stores and buying tons of books. Now here we are trying to get rid of clutter and items that we don’t NEEEEEEEED. Buying physical books must be curtailed, and given the cost of my latest renovation, inflation, the unhappy stock markets, and trying to save money, even buying ebooks needs judicious consideration. Kindle Unlimited and the daily “deals” get me through most days. 🙂 Which is how I got this latest Flavia Albia – A Comedy of Terrors. My Kindle Book Deal for the Day made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. The time frame is 89 CE, Domitian is terrorizing ruling Rome. Flavia is an ‘informer’, which in current terms would be a private detective. Why does this book meet this list? Because of all the details about Roman buildings, streets, bridges, etc. My undergraduate degree was in history, with an emphasis on ancient Rome & Jews. My son and I spent 8 action-packed days in Italy in 2014, walking the streets we’d both studied (yes, he too was a history major focused on Rome). I love reading the details and flipping to the map and verifying that yes, indeed, I WAS there. And of course it’s always a good story with such interesting tidbits as Domitian’s Black Banquet.

The Last Goddess by Kateřina Tučková, comes next. Although the narrator lives in modern times her research stretches back to the 17th century, and even earlier. This book is interesting and, in a way, unsettling. Quoting from Wikipedia: “The Goddesses of Žítková) … focuses on female natural healers from Bílé Karpaty mountain range who are traditionally called „bohyně“ (goddesses). Tučková narrates their complicated history because persecutions by the inquisition in the 17th century, and the later Priests’ Initiative in the 19th century were finally suppressed by communist government.” I knew nothing about the Carpathian region, nothing about the Czech Republic and Slovakia, nothing about the persecutions, nothing about the communist takeover there (although I WAS in Prague in the summer of 1973, so I did a little bit of reading then). I think I must have spent as much time researching as I did reading this book. I recommend it even though parts of it are a little disturbing (what was done to these women).

Still hanging about in the 17th century we get to Stuart Turton’s “The Devil and The Dark Water“. I LOVED his first book, “The 7 1/2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle“. As soon as I finished that I went back and reread it. 🙂 I’d read it the first time to find out the mystery. Then I went back to figure out all the clues. I’m VERY lucky because I own a paperback version of it. I can go back and back and back. I bought the ebook for The Devil. I devoured that one as well. I knew very little about 1634 and what was happening in the world at that time. Think United East India Company, spices, trading, the wreck of the Batavia. Although I was still in the 17th century this research took me down fewer side roads. Loved this book too and can’t wait for the next one.

Making our way up to 1892 when India is still a British colony brings us to Nev March’s “Murder in Old Bombay”. I’ve definitely encountered other stories set in similar time and place but I don’t recall being spurred to research the events. This time enough detail was provided about the time period and the geography that it made me curious to look at maps and place the story within the patchwork time frame in my mind. The details on how people lived, accepted behavioral norms, attitudes – a very interesting read with an interesting mystery. This one came to me via Kindle Unlimited. I try to understand what catches my eye about a title. 🙂 I think in this case it was the phrase “Old Bombay”.

We haven’t made it to the 21st century yet. My next book for this post is set in 1950, Vaseem Khan’s “Midnight at Malabar House“. It was another daily deal and the cover and title were intriguing enough for me to click it. I started reading the first few chapters and decided that for the price it was worth trying. Definitely worth more than what I paid for it. This is another case of spending as much if not more time researching history than reading the story. The timeline for the story is New Year’s Eve December 31, 1949 through January 26, 1950. This is after the partition of the British colony of India into the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. The story is full of references to the events preceding the decision to partition, the people leading the drive to independence, the ensuing hostilities that remain today. Again a case of knowing nothing when I started and realizing how much I need to learn and absorb.

For my last selection I give you Dr. Siri Paiboun, a coroner in Laos in 1978. I love this series by Colin Cotterill. It starts with The Coroner’s Lunch and is up to 15 books. Yes, I’d even spend money to read these books. 🙂 I also love his Jimm Juree series which is set in Thailand. I spend a GREAT deal of looking at maps and researching history when I read both series. They are a great deal of fun and, as I said, I learn a lot. 🙂

She Is Amazing

This is a cat who refuses to surrender to time and ill health. My husband likes to play videos on the tv for BC to watch. He had one going the other day and WC came CHARGING in from the other room to spring up on the little cat stand and stare at the hedgehog. Apparently hedgehogs are EXTREMELY interesting. *shaking my head* WC insists on getting stronger and more active every day. She’ll be 20 in August. Kidney and thyroid issues. WC: “Don’t bother me with trivia.”

Construction or Destruction?

Because no matter what the post topic, nothing beats a beautiful orange hibiscus

Sometimes during a renovation it’s hard to tell which description is most apt. Of course given that I’m still dragged-out from Covid, and I’m STILL congested with a runny nose, it’s hard to do most anything.

Grape tomatoes don’t require my brains or energy to thrive. Can you see all those green tomatoes?

There has been some work done with framing and pipes since my husband and I were felled by Covid. I think it all happened on the Monday before I lost touch with reality. Ken & Chris added more pipes and connections for the new bathroom.

sometime last week there were pipes for the sink & toilet

Yesterday John and coworker (don’t know his name) were here doing more framing – hammering, sawing, generator running, maneuvering large plywood sheets around my old, beloved chestnut bannister and railing. You know I first started to watch and then decided to turn away because I did NOT want to see it go wrong. Of course it was fine. They are pros, after all.

and we’ll have a working shower as well 🙂

The HVAC person, Marcel, came by last week with Don. We got the quote on that yesterday. All told, not unreasonable. I really consider putting in central air to be a necessity. Yes I’ve lived here 38 years without it, but there have certainly been times it would have been a very nice option. Once I decided we’d do this renovation, I figured out there were 3 guiding principles.

Boards come, they go. I thought that was framing the shower but later photos say no

First goal was to give my husband the 2nd bathroom he’s been wanting for years and years now. The second goal is to add the other things that we’ve thought would be nice to have. For instance a new floor. The original/current one squeaks. A lot. It’s also very worn. We’re going to use it as sub-flooring for new wood floors.

replacing broken boards, and they’ve leveled the original floor that was under the wall – had to bring it to the level of the exposed flooring

The third and very important guideline is for selling the house. Ultimately we will move and have to sell the house. We cannot sell it with the knob&tube wiring in place. We’ve been told that insurance companies will no longer insure homes with K&T and so we either deal with it ourselves before we sell or we have to factor that into a reduced desirability/cost when we sell.

In case you forgot knob & tube wiring. I believe the fuzzy stuff is insulation, NOT wiring 🙂

Although we love our hot water radiator heating, the radiators are the old huge iron radiators. They take up a LOT of space and are not especially attractive. We’ve dealt with them on the first floor by purchasing attractive radiator covers decades ago, and removing the 2 in the kitchen & front hall as part of that renovation. But there are 5 old iron ones upstairs and we’re replacing them as part of this effort. I don’t want to hear about “ew the radiators are so big and ugly”. Incredibly efficient but ugly.

Chris removing the radiators

I want my windows back. For 38 years I’ve had to deal with a/c units rendering windows useless. In 2019 we replaced all of the upstairs windows yet I still lost 3 of them to a/c units. I LIKE windows. A lot. As long as the walls and ceilings would be ripped open I said let’s put central air up there. Don said it would not be much more effort to drop it to the 1st floor as well, which would be wonderful. I’d get back my dining room window. We’re going to take the window that was removed from the little room (which will now be a bathroom) and we’re going to put that in our bedroom next to the existing side window. MORE LIGHT!!!! And fresh air in season.

There will be a different window up there ultimately, in the shower. an “awning” window

Today John & friend and Ken & Chris were here. Not sure what all the woodworking was about but the radiators were going. *laughing* And not a moment too soon. I had the a/c units going this past weekend. I woke up Monday morning and as I pulled up the shades I thought “is that radiator WARM???” Yep. I’d forgotten to turn DOWN the thermostat while the a/c was on. *rolling eyes* I told Ken & Chris to make sure they not only removed the radiators but turn OFF the connections from the thermostat as well. *grin*

there was a board, now there is not. but there IS insulation

So here we be. We are still home not working. Well, I managed to do a little something today that did not require a lot of brain power. There’s something I need to do for someone at work but it requires much more attention to detail and thought than I can muster at this point. The radiators are disconnected. There’s woodworking done. Don said that next he wants to start on the shower!!!

If those boxes are for the shower, WHY NOT THE TILES??????

I was SO EXCITED and asked if that meant I should have the tile delivered so we could start designing the tile walls. Don got that patient long-suffering face he uses with me and started shaking his head saying “too soon”. 😦 I want to play with the tiles! And I’m afraid that he will tell us one day – get the tiles so we can install them tomorrow, without leaving us time to obsess and agonize and do and redo our design. 🙂

the gardenias are blooming. so are the canna lilies but they are the WRONG cannas. 😦 too short
Why I need to protect the hibiscus every day with repell-all. so beautiful!!