backyard visitors, dogs, fences, friends, home, home improvements, live and learn, neighbors, on closer examination, photography, squirrels, unintended consequences

Good fences…

If good fences make good neighbors then how is it that I just love my neighbors on both sides, one on the side without a fence, and the other with whom I shared a length of fence that my uncle remarked was more holes than fence?  He was right, it was pretty hole-y.  But my neighbor’s entire yard was surrounded by fence that was long past it’s prime, and so when some used fencing came her way she started patching the worst areas.  Which gave me an idea, a true light bulb moment.  Since they were putting up fencing anyhow, how about I buy new fencing for the section that we share, and they put it up.  I really am a genius sometimes, ask Ozzie if you don’t believe me.

I wish I had thought to take a picture when it was nice and clean.  Already it has acquired a coating of sand where the grass hasn’t filled in.  Or the chickens flung sand at it, they’ve been visiting lately.  I certainly admired it… at first.  But I’m over the novelty of it and now it just looks… boring.  There used to be more to look at.2-10fencetextureI went looking through my photos to see if the fence showed up in any of them.  I took this picture because I was trying to take photos of the wood texture.  You see it was a bit see-through.  Zoe liked that aspect of it because she could keep an eye on what was going on over there in case she was missing something.2-10fencesquirrelThe squirrels took to the top of the fence whenever Zoe came zooming out the back door.  Chasing them is her favorite thing to do.  Ozzie, not so much.2-10fencesquirrel2I was able to capture this image because that squirrel likes having his picture taken.  I’d see birds sitting there also, but they weren’t as cooperative so I don’t have a photo of them.  Not that I didn’t try.2-10fencedieselThen there is Diesel.  He has a girlfriend a few blocks away, and he discovered that those boards didn’t really offer much resistance, so every so often he’d make a break for it and they’d have to hunt him down.  Now they know where to look for him however.

So, a new fence.  A home improvement.  Charley was a coin collector, old, rare coins, and patients would bring their old coins in for him to see in hopes they would have a rare one worth lots of money.  He’d tell them whatever they did, don’t clean them.  The color that develops on the old coins is called toning, and the coins are more valuable if the toning isn’t disturbed.  It didn’t matter, they always cleaned the coins.  One did it with a pencil eraser.  Maybe he thought Charley wouldn’t notice.  I never understood the value of the toning, I just took Charley’s word for it.  But it has occurred to me that that’s what is missing from the new fence.  Toning!  A little something extra to look at…

dragonflies, home, home improvements, nature, photography, sunset, weather

The calm before the storm…

It was such a pretty day. Blue skies and puffy clouds. No hint of the weather system that has us in it’s sights. It may not have been the best timing, but today I had my jungle out front whipped into shape by a local company, True Family Lawn Care & Landscaping. They did a great job and I thought the price was very fair. I’m a DIYer and it really bothers me to have to cry uncle and pay to have work done that I could, in theory, do myself. But the daily rains all summer had caused the weeds to grow like crazy, and they assured me that many people had also not been able to keep up. So for a few brief moments it looks great, photo worthy even, but we’ll see what the hurricane does to it.


The flip side of the sunset out back was very pretty also, prettier than the sunset out front. There could be no driving to my favorite sunset observation spots because they are all under mandatory evacuation orders at the moment, and I wouldn’t be allowed into the area unless I was resident with ID.


I was surprised to see a dragonfly who was determined to investigate the newly trimmed Crepe Myrtle branch. What will he do when Irma gets there? What will all the little creatures do? And what about us, how will we do?purpledragonfly2

dogs, home, home improvements, humor, silliness

The man of my dreams…

I know I already ranted over the idea of ‘dream’ houses, and ‘dream’ kitchens, mostly because the young gals I see on HGTV annoy the heck out of me by expecting to have these things without earning them first. Drives me nuts. But I also wonder if they realize that what constitutes your dream house, or your dream kitchen, won’t be the same your whole life.

Kind of like your dream man. Early on in my first marriage I realized that I wasn’t married to my dream man. No, my kids were little and I decided that it would be fantastic if I was married to a pediatrician. I have an aversion to going to the doctor whenever you are a little bit sick. I have a lot of respect for the body’s ability to fight off germ-y invaders, and a little temperature elevation is just your body doing it’s job. Which is okay when I’m talking about me, but I did feel slightly guilty over making these sorts of choices for my kids. But I did and guess what, they survived. But having a pediatrician in the family would have saved me a lot of angst along the way.

Once I got over my pediatrician phase the man of my dreams became a handy man. A jack of all trades Bob Vila type. I drove two not-particularly-handy husbands nuts by finishing a home improvement project and immediately announcing the next item on my wish list. “You’re never satisfied” was a phrase that I believe both husbands used. I did most of these projects myself, putting up wallpaper, painting, stenciling, taking down wallpaper. But my talents have limits. So when this sort of thing happens I’m up a creek.brokendoor

Charley wasn’t much of handyman but he would have jumped right on this particular repair and taken care of it. Probably with a lot of cussing, but at least it would be done. Or he would have called someone to do it for him.  He wanted this place locked up like Fort Knox at all times, so this would have driven him crazy.  I’m contemplating whether I ought to even attempt to change out the door lever or just call someone. As long as the door is locked I’m okay. The other French door is also stuck from humidity and I’m now afraid to yank on that handle for fear that it too will just come off in my hand.  I still have access to the back yard through my master bathroom. (It’s a Florida thing I think.)  But convincing Ozzie, the uncoordinated mastiff, that he ought to walk across the bathroom floor to go out that door took some doing. Roughly five feet of bathroom tile to traverse and the first time he attempted it his legs went right out from under him. But it leads to the same back yard the dogs always use, or I can let them out the front door also, but as soon as they come back in they stand at this door, ‘their’ door, and wait for me to let them out. Do they even pee out front, or are they determined to wait to use this door to go out and take care of business? Kind of like preferring to go home and use your own bathroom.

Several days of this brought me to the enough is enough stage. I picked up the lever and stuck it back on the remnants of the knob, and it worked! Opened the latch at least.  Allowed me let the dogs out ‘their’ door and make them happy.  Turn the latch and slam the door hard enough and it will close tightly enough that the lock will engage. Ha! And I thought I couldn’t fix it myself.


I see that the next man of my dreams ought to be a woodworker, that door looks terrible.  And the screens on the lanai need to be redone.  And if it ever stops raining the sprinklers need work…

dogs, fences, home, home improvements, nature, photography, rain, sunset, weather

“If you don’t like the weather…

…wait a minute.”  My mother used to say that all the time, and most likely someone famous said it first.  She was talking about Massachusetts, but I beg to differ, Massachusetts is an amateur compared to Florida.  Well, that’s what I say anyhow, and most of the people I know who live here agree.

It was hot and sunny at 6:30, which doesn’t comes a surprise since it’s August in Florida.  Then I heard a crack of thunder just as a severe weather warning came over my phone.  I hurried to get the dogs out before the rain, and above is what it looked like out back.  Around front the dark clouds were taking over.frontview  Then it started to rain so I herded the dogs around to the back door and discovered a gorgeous rainbow.  A double one, or so it looks in the photo.  And as we came into the house I saw the end of the rainbow, it ends on my neighbor’s lanai.  And then it poured.  As soon as it gets dark I think I’ll go out and look for the pot of gold next door.

By 8:00 the storm was essentially over, and the clouds were trying to show the sunset colors.  And my neighbor’s dog wondered what the heck I was doing taking photos in the drizzle.  Isn’t that fence a sight?  My neighbor and I talk about redoing it, but that’s as far as we seem to get.  Don’t want to rush into anything.

That storm was actually Thursday night.  Friday night was in instant replay of the night before, but without a rainbow and with a waterfall on the lanai.  Ah, Florida weather!McNealwaterfall

home, home improvements, losing battles, responsibility

A losing battle…

ridingmowerMy new riding lawnmower came back today. This was it’s second trip to the repair shop, the first being when I hit a tree stump and it stopped, and I got it going again, and hit the stump again, and then it quit. It needed new blades, or something like that. Now it just plain wouldn’t start. The repair guy called me yesterday and said he had good news and bad news. The good news is that there is nothing wrong with my lawnmower. He started it up and drove it into the shop. This after my numerous attempts to start it, turn the key and nothing, it didn’t even attempt to start. Just dead silence. One neighbor suggested charging the battery, and another neighbor did try that, but still nothing.

So I told the repair guy that it wasn’t just me, my more mechanically inclined neighbors couldn’t start it either, which must have given me slightly more credibility. I said that the ride over in the truck must have jiggled something and that’s why it started. He said that that was a thought, so he’d check all the electrical connections and start it a few more times throughout the day.

So nothing was wrong with it was the good news, the bad news is that I had to pay for the pick up and delivery, and the minimum repair charge, even though they didn’t actually do anything to it. I was worried that the ride back home would jiggle whatever loose again and it would go back to playing dead, but no it works fine. Turns out it was a safety switch, which the driver told me he found and fixed right in my driveway when he picked it up. And that would have been that if I would have been home, but I wasn’t, and in that case he couldn’t leave it. He did leave one once, fixed on the spot, and in a nice neighborhood he said, but the customer complained that he shouldn’t have left it! Seriously. So now he had to take it. Trust me, I wouldn’t have complained if he had left it, and I’d be $112 richer.

Everything is growing out of control here on the nature coast right now. Daily thunder storms for a month or so have taken care of that. So yesterday I took advantage of a break in the storms and cut my front ‘lawn’, aka overgrown weed patch, but green, which is all Charley ever asked of his lawn. I used the self-propelled mower that he bought shortly before his health issues took a turn. I’ve had to have that one serviced also. The repair guy for that one asked me if I’d been clearing land with it. Um, no, just mowing what passes for my lawn. Hidden plops of dog poop and lots of twigs and debris from the oak trees included. Sigh. My lot is much more un-level than I perceived it to be when I wasn’t on a riding lawnmower, the back slope is too scary so both mowers are needed every time I mow.  It’s a losing battle…losingbattle

I could try to add up the cost of the mowers, plus repairs, and divide by how many months it’s been since I had a lawn service do my lawn, to find out how far in the hole I am on my attempt to save money by doing it myself. Not to mention the toll the labor is taking on me and my mental health. I might have recommended lawn mower repair as a career choice for my son if I would have lived here back then. I doubt the demand will drop off any time soon…


coping, dogs, home, home improvements, life, nature, old dogs new tricks, photography, procrastination, responsibility, simple things, sunrise

Theory vs. Reality…

My husband had joke about theory vs. reality. It was long and involved, and despite hearing it way too many times I both can’t remember the details, and wouldn’t repeat it even if I did. But in real life my theories of how I think things are going to be bump up against reality all too often. Daily, actually. Tuesday was the first of three days off, so I had the luxury of getting my long postponed dental visit behind me, ka-ching, running errands, and going out to dinner with a friend, all while knowing that I still had two days off coming up. So, in theory, if I spent Wednesday doing housework, laundry, clipping Zoe and bathing both dogs, and washing the car, I would still have another day off ‘just for me’. Ha! The reality is that I did most of what I intended to do yesterday, including a sweaty, hair-covered, couple of hours of clipping/bathing dogs, and washing the car. And the end result is that Zoe doesn’t look any different. Really? My theory was that if I bought clippers and kept up the clipping she’d look good all the time. I don’t think she is popular with the groomers with her nervous ways, and she is calm for me. I have watched the groomer run the clippers down her and the hair falls away, and she looks like velvet when they are done. How is it that I run the clippers down her and hair falls away, but she turn out looking all spiky? Must be the clippers, couldn’t possibly be me, right?

Oh well, I was kidding myself about having a day to myself anyhow. Not too long ago the front yard looked like the jungle was about to reclaim it. So I pulled down the vines that were climbing the front, and that’s as far as I’ve gotten. In theory it will be cooler soon and I’ll have nine glorious months of perfect weather and somehow, magically, my house will be perfectly clean all the time, my yard will be perfectly groomed, and so will Zoe. That’s my theory anyhow…