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There is a tree in our backyard that is most likely dead and looks like it's starting to lean a little bit. We've got an arborist coming out tomorrow to look at it, give us his opinion, and give us an estimate for removing it and planting a new one in its place.

We also had lots of wind and a bit of storming over the weekend, which tore a small strip of shingles off the roof and deposited them on the bushes in our front yard, which we discovered yesterday when hanging Christmas lights outside (more on that later). So a call to the roofer that fixed the leak near the chimney earlier this year is in order.

Home ownership. Bah. (Okay so if we didn't own it, we'd have to call the landlord/management company and then they'd send someone out when they got good and ready to, and that someone would be the lowest bidder or someone who did them a favor or something and the problem wouldn't actually be fixed, but papered over and due to reoccur not very much later. At least, that's my experience.)
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This AskMeFi question on the subject of differences between UK and US houses ended up with a small side-trip into the concept of dens. Someone gave this explanation of a den: A den is sort of a library/office/guest room. It may or may not have a door and is often off the living room. It's not really all that useful, except when you have guests. Then it is.

Which is a bit different from what we called a den (or 'family room'). I posted this:
Where I grew up (Texas), a den is also known as a family room, and is a less-formal gathering/hang-out space. The living room (or parlor, if you have delusions of grandeur) is the formal gathering/hang-out place. At my grandparents' house, the TV was in the den, while the living room had the uncomfortable furniture that kids weren't allowed to splay out on, and which was used for adults to have dull, boring conversations when my grandparents had dinner parties. At my parents' house, the den had the TV and my mom's loom, and the living room had the fireplace and the stereo. Again, when my parents' friends or coworkers came over for activities other than watching TV, they were entertained in the living room, while I stayed out of their hair in the den and watched TV.

Mr Telophase and I have a vaguely similar setup in our house, but it's now split between the living room (fireplace, bookcases) and the media room (TV, video games). I insisted on that when we were house-hunting, because I wanted to be able to sit in one room and read without being distracted by his gaming.
So. What is YOUR concept of a den? (Besides a lair for animals, hah.) I suspect it's really been superseded by media rooms in modern houses. Toby's parents have a great room, which is a living/kitchen/breakfast area, and a really tiny dining room off of it, and a room that they use as a combo office/media room. They built their house a few years ago.

My mom's house is closer to 30-40 years old, and while the kitchen is a separate-ish room, it's got one big room, divided into three by archways, that wraps around the kitchen and serves as living, dining (Mom uses it as an office), and...big weird room that looks like it used to be a back porch that was enclosed, but which I think is actually built in. Here's a rough floorplan I threw together. (It's a townhouse--row house for you Brits, if I've got that terminology correct--with houses attached to it on either side.) I have NO EARTHLY IDEA what the thinking originally was for that house. It was built for entertaining, I think, but the kitchen is weirdly enclosed, except for that island open to Room 3 on the plan. Room 2 is VERY DARK, even with wide archways separating it from the living room and Room 3. I'd have at the very least bashed a pass-through between that room and the kitchen. Mom uses it as an office, and splits Room 3 up between her dining table and a big loom.

Greeeeat

Aug. 15th, 2014 09:20 am
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It's always something.

1) The plumber came in and fixed the sink problem I posted about a couple of days ago, but noticed that the sink is coming unglued from the bottom of the counter, so we get to call a countertop guy and see if they'll fix it. And until then, we're not putting heavy loads into the sink, so we get to avoid cooking with the (cast iron) Dutch oven, or filling the sink up to soak stuff, or putting a big pot in there and filling it with water for pasta.

2) And then this morning we discovered that one of our crape myrtles has bark scale, a lovely relatively new invasive insect pest (PDF). Wheeeeee! cut for photo of our poor crape myrtle )
I have made the Definitive Diagnosis (tm) via Dr. Google, by noting that there are ladybugs on the stem (not visible in pic) attacking the various white things, and ladybugs are apparently a predator of bark scale. Go, ladybugs, go! This pest first showed up in the DFW area about ten years ago and is slowly spreading, so go check your crape myrtles if you're in the South. (More info from citybugs.tamu.edu)

3) On the bright side, WE'RE GOING TO JAPAN. We bought the tickets last night so it's official. :D
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Now to see if it can get to size and ripen before the birds find it. Somehow I doubt that'll happen. :D

Cut for pic of our Gardening for Dummies-type garden, taken last week )

OH EM GEE

Jun. 26th, 2014 05:09 pm
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ZOMG SUNFLOWER )

TOBY FOR SCALE )

Toby emailed me today, annoyed at the lawn guys because he'd looked out the window on that side of the house and saw "5-foot sunflowers," and the lawn guys--who came by this morning--are supposed to be weeding as well as mowing. And when I got home, we went out to the sunflowers and rather revised that estimate up. And up. And up. YOU'D THINK THEY WOULD HAVE NOTICED.

They knocked some money off the cost of this week's mowing and said they could get them sunflowers next week, but as the HOA has likely already made a note to send us a postcard about it, we figured we need to get it down tonight. I mean, I like sunflowers, but volunteer monster sunflowers visible from the street is a bit iffy even for me. Much smaller sunflowers in the backyard is more my style. (And forests of sunflowers growing in vacant lots is also my style!)

Now, if only we had a chainsaw...
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We rearranged the master bedroom this weekend. The way the house is set up, the master opens off of a very short hall that's right off the living room, and the way it was set up before, you could see the bed from the living room so it didn't feel very private, especially when we had friends over. By moving the bed over to the far wall, the sight line is now blocked and it feels nicer.

There was also the problem of all the exercise equipment. Experts on sleep claim you shouldn't,t have that sort of thing in the bedroom, but experts can go jump off a cliff because there isn't anywhere else to put it.

So here it is, in all it's COMPLETELY BLANK-WALLED GLORY. No pictures up on the walls at the moment. We used to have one nice wide one up on the wall the headboard is now against, but took it down because it was HEAVY and we were terrified it would fall down on our heads and do severe damage one night. It'll be put up on the opposite wall eventually.

cut for pics )

So there it is, beginning to take shape after 2 years. We've got to grab our collection of artworks that don't yet have a home and work out what should go on the wall and in what arrangement. Not an award-winning room, but it'll do!

Plumbing

Jan. 10th, 2014 09:36 am
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The plumber showed up on Wednesday to look at our plumbing to see if anything was wrong after the freeze. Turns out, when I said in a comment that we had no pipes in the attic, it mean that we did have pipes in the attic, and Toby hadn't mentioned them to me. :) However, the plumber said they're made of PEX, which is a flexible material and almost never breaks when it freezes, and the insulation around them and the heat coming up from the house should serve to keep them unfrozen, for the most part. The one tap freezing was almost definitely due to a lack of insulation in that outer wall where its pipes run, and the thing to do is what we did after it froze, which is to keep it dripping.

He also looked at our outside faucets and said they were fine, that we'd done the right thing by removing the hoses and putting insulating caps over them--the usual problem with outside lines is when the hose is left on and ice forms and backs up in there.

And then he looked at our kitchen sink, which has had a problem since shortly after we moved in, where the faucet won't swivel left or right like it's supposed to. Toby had thought it was that the hole in the counter wasn't cut quite wide enough, but apparently not. The plumber said that it needed to be replaced, and we could just buy one and call him back and he'd install it.

The grand total of cost for this visit? $0. Woo! I suppose he was quite happy that he didn't have to grub through freezing muck or pull any walls apart to get to broken pipes.

Brrrrrrrr

Jan. 6th, 2014 12:48 pm
telophase: (Gin waves byebye)
It was 18°F when we got up this morning. In Texas. And as it didn't occur to us to check the weather conditions before we went to bed, we didn't set taps to dripping and ... the cold water on my sink in the master bath does not work now. The cold water on Toby's sink in the same bathroom still works, as do the shower and tub, so we're a bit perplexed as to what, exactly, may have broken, but we're going on the assumption that 18°F weather and a frozen pipe possibly breaking is the culprit. The sink was fine at 5AM, as I washed my hands then.

At least we can call our own plumber and not whatever low bidder used by a management company. That's what finally spurred us to buy a house: the owner and the management company of the rental we were in weren't willing to invest the money to do proper repairs, so things would just break again.
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A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that we'd gone to IKEA and the Container Store and PURCHASED ALL THE THINGS because we'd finally gotten our washer and dryer stacked and could finally get our laundry room organized.

We added the final touch tonight, so now I have pictures!

Cut for pictures, including LITTERBOXES with NO cat poop )

Gardening

Aug. 5th, 2012 02:22 pm
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Yup, with medication changes, it's pretty clear that my migraines were being encouraged by something I"d been taking before. We just spent 40 minutes in the backyard hacking at bushes and reinstalling our soaker hose and while my head isn't AOK, it's not migrainey either. Used to be, 10 minutes in the heat and I'd have a raging migraine for the rest of the day. Instead, at about 40 minutes in I realized I was getting lightheaded and weak-feeling, probably due to dehydration, and quit, leaving Toby to finish gathering up the branches I'd cut off.

So: yay. (And a couple of glasses of water and lying on the couch for a while made me much better.)

So last week the yard people came and removed the broken tree, and round the stump down and rearranged the rocks in the area so you can't tell there was ever a tree there. There's a big hole in the general yard decor, though, which makes us feel slightly more exposed to the road beyond the brick fence. :) Anyway, there's a few juniper-looking bushes there and I went and hacked at their bases on the assumption that if they were juniper we could train them to grow up instead of out and provide a bit more sound insulation from the traffic. And then I hacked at a few more bushes -- one crape myrtle I"m turning into a treelike thing because there's a small path from the stone paved area to the grassy area that I"d like to be able to walk through without dodging branches.* And there was one growing near the house that was getting aggressively large, so I hacked the branches down so it would be more bushlike instead of treelike.

We'll see what happens.




* Naturally it'll probably turn out to be the wrong time of year for doing this or something but oh well.

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