Sunday, September 30, 2012

All about steps

This weekend I decided to tackle the front steps. They've been suffering since I moved in. The salt in the winter really is a problem. Wally told me to use something else -  calcium carbonate? That is supposed to melt the ice but unlike salt won't make the cement crack. I'll have to look into that closer to a snow storm.
So I got the 10 lb. bucket of cement patcher from Home Depot. The instructions are anything but clear. It's like they expect you to already know what you are doing! So I followed instructions and got everything patched.

It looks dreadful.
It looks even worse in person. I'm not sure what to do. I guess I should do a bit of research. But my dad is coming back from his world travels on the 2nd so I'm hoping he's got some good advice. I am thinking I need to get a second bucket of cement and just do a complete layer over the whole thing so that it at least looks consistent and not patch-work.  
Other issues are the gaping gap between the new wood of the porch and the back of the stairs. It's not really a problem - it just looks bad. I'm still thinking over how to change that. 

And now that I am preoccupied with finishing up the porch - meaning it needs to be water proofed - I'm noticing what a terrifically bad painting job the previous person did. Look at the marble behind the doormat! Look at all that paint on the marble! How on earth do I remove that? I also need to do a touch up on the bricks before I stain the porch.  
My tenants were in Guatemala for  two weeks which would have been a convenient time to stain the front of the porch. But alas - I did not get to it. I started on the back though. It's amazing how nice it looks! I'm also happy that there is some sort of waterproofing before the weather really hits. The porch has basically been finished since? May? April? I can't remember, but the point is that it is already showing weather-wear.

It is also time to do some basic maintenance. Painting. Which I love to do. So I did put a fresh layer of paint on the steps here too. 
Amazing how nice it looks! That's one layer, it needs one more. 

Next weekend I'm selling my wares at the Collingswood Book Festival. I've been working on boosting my inventory and if I get it in gear I may even submit a "book" to the edible book competition. I think I might submit my "Clockwork Orange" (an orange-almond-polenta cake with real working clock parts). We'll have to see how ambitious I am next Friday.

Oh, and I'm getting lots of tomatoes. I'm not sure they'll all turn red. What a shame that I'll have to make fried green tomatoes. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Feeling better

We seem to be feeling better. Thank you for all of your well wishes.
We went to the vet last night and finally saw our favorite vet, Dr. Connor. Dr. Connor decided to give him antibiotics given the bladder infection we went in for on Tuesday and Jacques' weird behavior ever since I brought him home on Wednesday. He was basically walking around like he was drunk, stumbling and swaying and moving very slowly. He had glassy eyes and as it turned out a pretty good fever. He was eating which was a good sign, but then he couldn't jump into his basket. I couldn't tell if he didn't have the strength or if he miss judged the distance. After I told this to Dr. Connor, he thought Jacques might have an inner ear infection and said the antibiotics would help with that as well. 
This morning Jacques is much better. He still couldn't jump up to my bed, but after I pulled him up he was happy to sit next to me and purr loudly until I got up to put food in the bowls. He is still moving slowly and carefully, but he seems more alert and more like himself. Big sigh of relief!
The other vet ran all kinds of tests which were inconclusive - blood tests, sugar tests, some gobbledy gook tests I don't know what for - but I wanted to rule everything out. For a while there was a diabetes scare. But hopefully it was just a scare and all will be well in a few days. Meanwhile Jacques will have to stay in - something he will not be pleased about.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jacques needs well wishes

Hi Everyone - if you could send Jacques some healing thoughts I'd appreciate it. He is sick and we can't figure out what the problem is. If only he could tell us.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Beeman Cometh

It's really fall now in Philadelphia, high's maybe in the low 80's mostly in 70's, humidity not so much, so cool nights have come, (big sigh of relief) and so we have to start worrying about the bee's future. They are still producing a bit of honey - there will be one last harvest. Most of it needs to be left for the bees so that they will make it through the winter. 
Matt came today to check on the "girls" (yes, honey bees are all female). Since he was here - I thought I'd finally take some photos. I got stung twice in the process. Once a bee flew in my sleeve and while it hurt a bit it went away quickly. But then one got caught in my hair and I couldn't get it out. She stung me but good - it has hurt all afternoon. Even so - having the hive in my yard has been really cool this year. I hope they make it through the winter.
The Bee Man:
Removing the frames:  
Matt gave me a bit of Propolis - a kind of resinus adhesive the bees make from tree sap to seal the hive. It is very sticky - but has a lot of healing properties. It is a natural anti-biotic and can be ingested in tea or ? I sort of sucked on it like a lozenge and had enough after about 10 minutes. It's got a funny taste. It's like cheap chewing gum that is good for the first 5 minutes - and then quickly looses it's charm.
 A frame full of honey:
 A frame not full of honey:
A frame with larva:  
Reassembling the hive:
Making the hive mouse proof: 
Making a hive mouse proof doesn't mean what you think. Yes mice are attracted to the honey but that's not the problem. The problem is that the mice are killed by the bees and then covered with propolis. Then in the spring the bee keeper finds mice-mummies. Eew.
Jacques was, at first, very excited about a visitor and then realized he should stay the heck out of the way.  Here he is watching things from the back door.
At one point a bee chased me pretty seriously - so I ran to the front of the yard and saw this butterfly noshing on an echinacea flower: