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Making Friends

The wooden frame in the header photo is one of three that Husband and I constructed on Sunday.  They will have poultry netting stapled to them and then will be connected  to posts in the garden and will serve as pea fences.  They are 12 X 5 feet and we constructed them with cedar slats, bolts, washers, and nuts. I got a new Dewalt battery operated drill out of the deal.

It took us somewhat longer to construct them than we anticipated, as we had the invaluable help of a 4 year old boy and his 6 year old sister, our next door neighbors.  (Their dad was constructing wooden planters in his garage, and I think he was glad the kids were with us.) They find whatever we do to be absolutely fascinating, and they were so excited to help us. They fitted the bolts with washers, put the bolts through the holes, waited impatiently as Husband and I fitted the slats together, and then they secured the bolts with another washer and nuts.  It took some patience on our part to make our instructions clear and wait while those little fingers got everything connected and screwed down, but they were having so much fun!

The 4 year old is quite a conversationalist, and asked lots of questions about all sorts of things, each question beginning “Mrs. Dr. Boomgaarden, what is . . . .?”  His sister assured me that they would help us when ever we needed them, and would we be home working outside tomorrow, and then her brother cemented our friendship by asking when we were going to have a sleepover at our house?   He seemed to think that it was a very reasonable thing to do. I told him we couldn’t because Husband snored and no one would be able to sleep, but I was very touched.  We must be friends!

Tell about some of your friends and what makes them special.  Who were your favorite adults when you were a child?

Whew!

We were asked to go fishing on Lake Sakakawea on Saturday with a colleague and his sweetie.  He is in his 70’s, still works at my agency as a psychologist, and loves to fish. He has a rather nice boat, about 20 feet long,  with a live well, windshield, and comfortable seating.  It had been a couple of years since we had gone fishing with him, and he was excited to spend some time with us. He has been working from home since the virus struck, and has felt rather isolated.  It is a two hour drive up to the lake on oilfield highways, and we planned to leave about 6:00 am. We were in charge of the lunch, and I had prepared Baboon Joanne’s Southwest Salad, rhubarb muffins, banana bread, and ham and beef sandwiches.

At 5:00 AM, our friend phoned and said he was in too much pain from bone spurs in his neck, and he had to cancel the trip. I felt sorry for him,  but I was so happy we didn’t have to go. I don’t like boats, I especially don’t like boats on big lakes, and I find fishing unutterably boring. Husband likes to fish, and I didn’t want to disappoint him or our friend, so I was prepared to go along and do my best to have a good time.  I may not have had any siblings, but I don’t want to act like the stereotypical spoiled only child. (Only children aren’t any more spoiled and self centered than any other children, as a rule, but we have to combat these inaccurate stereotypes.)

We spent the day in the garden Saturday and got a lot of things done around the house. We had lots of good food already prepared.  It was a good day.

When have you been relieved lately?  What do you put up with out of love and affection?

Irises!

It’s been cold the last couple of mornings.  The sweatpants are back and for those morning walks with Guinevere, I’ve even reverted to adding a sweatshirt to my sweatpants/t-shirt ensemble.  And socks – quelle sacrilege!  It’s almost like we need a word for this transition season… not quite summer yet, although it should be.  Maybe “sprummer”?

Anyway, even if it’s cold, the walks are glorious because my favorite flower is starting to bloom, not just in my yard but all over the neighborhood – the irises have arrived!  I’m not sure why the iris is my favorite.  My mom wasn’t an iris fan, but I do remember going to the Missouri Botanical Garden growing up and seeing bed after bed of glorious blooms.  In my yard I have pretty much every color, including an orange variety called “orange crush”, although not all the colors have bloomed yet.

This morning looking at a garden full of pale yellow beauties in a yard around the corner, it made me think of a pretty haiku I found a few years ago by a Japanese woman who lived in the 17th century:

Waking from my dream:

what a color

were the iris flowers

Shushiki

Do you have a favorite flower?  Or a favorite haiku about a flower?

The Plumber

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I finally broke down and called a plumber. It didn’t hurt my pride as much as I might have expected.

There were two things; The dripping sink in the mudroom and the kitchen faucet that had very low water pressure.

My ‘Vintage’ mudroom sink started dripping a few months ago and heck, I can change a washer. Except, when evidently, I can’t. I made it worse. A lot worse. Like it wouldn’t even shut off worse. I bought whole new valve bodies. Nope, didn’t help. But they came with replacement seats. Except this sink is so old I didn’t figure it even had replaceable seats. And even taking it apart 14 times and putting it back together didn’t help. So. I turned off the cold water to let it “Think about what it’s done” for a while. That didn’t appear to be helping. Then even the hot side started to drip. Because the mudroom is directly above the utility room and hot water heater, I get hot water real quick. I learned to rinse my toothbrush REALLY FAST.

And then the kitchen sink. It has had low water pressure for a few years. Like you’d put a pot under it to fill then “go do something else for 10 minutes” kinda slow. I know it wasn’t always that way. It’s one of those where you can pull the nozzle and hose out the end. I had cleaned the aerator multiple times, I had changed the Moen cartridge, I changed the supply lines, and I even tried snaking a wire up the hose. Nothing helped. Kelly thought the tub/shower diverter valve thingy wasn’t working well either, so we thought maybe it was the pressure coming from the well house. But I thought my bathroom pressure was OK. I checked the pressure in the water tank and turned up the regulator and water pressure and thought maybe it helped a tad? But really not much.

And that meant the only thing left was the shut off valves under the sink. And I bought some from Menards. And I left them sit on the counter for a few weeks. The plumbing elves didn’t show up. I really didn’t want to try putting them in. I used to do “plumbing” down in the barn. (Notice I used that word in quotes). Cutting threads on a piece of black pipe and spilling water in the barn is a whole lot different than messing up the kitchen sink.  I really didn’t want to try replacing those valves.

Hence, the plumber.

He started with the mudroom sink. Turns out the seats CAN be replaced! I thought it was too old for that but no, the plumber could do that!  Joy! He changed both and it doesn’t drip anymore!

Up to the kitchen sink. Turns out the valves I bought were the wrong ones. Whew! I’m already glad I didn’t start this project. He replaced the first valve, then pulled off the second and there’s all sorts of white gunk in the pipe. Hmmm, odd. Kinda looks like calcium but not sure what it is. Maybe it’s from a few years ago when the old water softener quit working. Using a hose and bucket we flush the lines out. He installs the valves, I turn the water back on, and we get a good burst and then back to nothing. Hmmm. OK, working his way up, he pulls out the Moen cartridge. Except getting the handle off first was a bit of an issue. I was right in there helping. “Helping”.  I sort of expected at some point he was going to add the “Homeowner ‘helps’ surcharge” but he was a nice guy and he let me hold the flashlight for him. I offered helpful advice for the times I’ve pulled the handle off. While telling him at the same time he was the professional and I wasn’t trying to tell him how to do his job. But I was really afraid he was going to break something! At one point I tentatively suggested if he broke it, he had to buy a new one. Thankfully it didn’t come to that.

He got the valve out, it looked clean so then he moved on to the hose and nozzle. Aha! The bottom end of the hose is plugged up with this same white crud that was in the pipe earlier! A few more tricks to get the hose apart and we took it out to the shed and used the air compressor to blow it clean. He hooked the hose back up but re-assembling the faucet handle was still an issue. He knew stuff I didn’t know, and he made the assembly a little easier.

Turned the water back on and WOWZER! WE HAVE WATER! It’s fun, for a few days we giggle every time we turn on the water. I would never have gotten this fixed on my own.

After he left, I found a can of pipe dope that he left behind. We had joked that I get to keep anything he left.

And he had put the handle back on sideways. But I knew how to fix that.

What do you avoid doing?

Got a favorite sink? Appliance?  

Grass Grass Everywhere

Guinevere is enjoying her walk every morning.  We range through Tangletown, along the Minnehaha Creek Parkway, up and down the streets near our house.  Now that we’ve had some rain and warm weather, we have walking by LOTS of greenery.  Hostas, wild grape vine, irises, ferns, trillium, lilies, peonies, even creeping charley.  But what does Guinevere like?  Tall grass.  Not short grass, not even a long lawn, but tall grass that occasionally shows up in an untended garden, or in a spot that no one seems to be claiming (like the corner of an alleyway).  Whenever we come across tall grass, she always wants to take a chomp.  And she never mistakes any of the other abundant greenery for her favorite snack.  How does she do this?  Is it just the visual cue or does tall grass smell differently?  I can’t figure it out.

What item on a buffet can’t YOU resist?

Front Yard Serenade

My nextdoor neighbor, Brian, is a school music teach and band director.  The last time he saw his “kids” was when they said good bye for spring break.  Then schools began to close, so they have had online classes but as you can imagine, band class isn’t quite the same and since Brian is changing schools this fall, he felt a little bad about not seeing them again.

The kids apparently felt badly as well because on Monday, the brass section, along with a drummer, showed up in the front yard and serenaded him for about 15 minutes.  It was a big surprise to Brian; the kids had set it up with his wife, Sarah.  By the end of the performance, quite an audience has gathered, on both sides of Lyndale. 

I know that other entertainments and festivities are happening in people’s front yards.  A young friend of mine had a drive-by college graduation and Tuey, a juggler that I like, has also been doing his show on front sidewalks during shelter-in-place.

I think this is a great way to celebrate even while social distancing.

What front yard entertainment would you like?

Memorial Day Birthday

Photo credit: Justin Casey

My sister is grumpy today. 

For the first twelve years of her life, her birthday was a holiday.  No school or parents working on her day.  Her day.  Then in 1971, Memorial Day became one of the “Monday holidays” which means that her birthday only lands on a holiday every seven or eight years.  This year, when it falls almost a full week before her birthday, is one that she particularly dislikes.  Even after five decades, she still takes this personally.

It never bothered me as a kid that she had her birthday on a holiday.  My folks didn’t actually make a bigger deal about it because of the holiday and I still got to go to the pool (in Missouri, the public pools

usually opened on Memorial Day).  I still got the dinner of my choice and a birthday cake with lots of frosting.  All good, even with no holiday in sight.

My birthday is in August.  There are only two months during the year that don’t have big, recognized holidays in them.  August is one of them.  June is the other, but I always thought June redeemed itself by having the end of school.  And, of course, since I moved to Minnesota, I have always counted the State Fair as a holiday, thereby making August one of the best holiday months.

Even though we won’t be having the Great Minnesota Get Together this year, I don’t hold August responsible for that.  But my sister probably would.

If you could move your birthday to a holiday, which holiday would you choose?  And why?