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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

July 2016

Moving, moving, moving.  Rather than pack all our stuff, rent a big truck and move all at once, we elected to use a more do-it-yourself strategy.  For the last week in June, I hauled a lot of nonessential things to our new place.  On July 1 we planned to haul essentials: bedroom, kitchen, bathroom. I had arranged through a friend to hire a couple of big guys to help us.  Unfortunately, they didn't show up.  We were able to pull in some late recruits and get the job done.  From then on, we have lived at the new place.  We bought a king-sized bed, in various parts from various places, and use our old bed for the guest room.  The new (used) frame was actually cobbled together from various parts of a couple of beds.  Turns out it's larger than King sized, and we had a big gap at the front of the mattress.  I ended up buying a regular rail frame and attaching the big wooden headboard to it.  No more gap.

Savannah lives in a basement room.  We have continued moving over the remaining noncritical stuff until the old house is emptied.  Stacey has done much of the unpacking and organizing the new house.  Meanwhile, we have hired a friend to peel wallpaper and repaint a few rooms.  We got our satellite TV hookup right away, but the internet, which was supposed to be hooked up on July 1, consistently failed to work.  After Stacey harassed them several times, CenturyLink finally admitted that they could not provide us with internet service.  That was after a week.  I still don't know why they couldn't tell us that in the first 5 minutes.  We got MarkTwain.net to hook us up eventually.  We have a very fast connection now.  Of course, CenturyLink still billed us for services they could not provide.

We also changed our cell phones from AT&T back to US Cellular.  We had poor reception at our house and essentially no data.  AT&T kept billing us too.  One big hitch we waited on was to get new carpet in the downstairs family room.  In the interim, all the extra furniture was stacked up in the front room.

Aside from the chaos of moving, we are loving the place.  It teems with wildlife.  We have tons of hummingbirds visiting our feeders, house wrens nesting on the front porch and eastern phoebes nesting under the eaves of each building.  Red-headed woodpeckers are here all the time.  We have a couple of mineral licks that the deer visit nearly each day.  Every evening after dinner Stacey and I feed the catfish in the pond and sit in the swinging bench and watch them come up to eat.  It's very relaxing.  I caught a bass on my first cast on my first attempt to fish the pond.  We'll be stocking more catfish in due time.  Right now, the bluegills have their circular beds constructed all around the edges of the pond.  The water is remarkably clear, perhaps because it receives no agricultural runoff, the grass carp keep down the vegetation, and the previous owner may have dosed it with copper sulfate.  I enjoy swimming in it, and I finally got Savannah to try it, though she's freaked out by the fish.  There is a floating dock on it already, and Savannah donated a pool ladder.

Much of the place is heavily mowed, so that it looks like a park, with lots of mature oak and hickory trees.  However, one day I took a hike and explored most nooks and crannies.  We have a couple of huge gullies from the outflow from Lowell's Lake.  I found a lot of native plants and not too many bad non-natives (autumn olives, your days are numbered).  I've seen lots of insects.  We have toads hanging around the front yard, and even 5-lined skinks that occasionally appear.  We have a woodchuck who, unfortunately, made a burrow under the big shed.  His days are numbered too.  Grey squirrels are all over, and we feed them a bit of field corn.

The smaller dogs like to sit in the bay window and watch the wildlife, especially the squirrels, in the back yard.  The dogs can see out from many of the rooms.  They are adjusting to the new invisible fence.  It was perfect for this situation, as we are set back far from the road.  They have lots of room to run, and I have little fear of their escaping.  I try not to leave any of the smaller ones out alone though.  I know the coyotes are out there.  The dogs are learning to swim in the pond, but some enjoy it more than others.

Our 13-acre hayfield was baled by our neighbors, a nice young couple.  He already has the hay sold and will split the (modest) funds with us.  I love being a hay farmer again after a hiatus of several decades, but I also would like to convert the hayfield to prairie eventually.  The bales were a lovely decoration for our field, and I naturally used them as props. I put Gretchen up on one for a still photo, and got Isabel to jump and climb them for a video. Eventually, our hay bales were taken away.  Other long term plans include planting native shrubs and woodland wildflowers.  I sure won't be mowing as much, though I plan to have some trails.  The previous owner had the most unique mailbox: a John Deere lawn tractor with a space in the grill hollowed out for the mail box.  I think they make fine tractors, but I don't want to advertise for them.  I unbolted it and pushed it off the post.  It's actually an old Husqvarna painted to look like a JD.  I put up a regular mail box with a schnauzer silhouette on top. I've made other improvements as time has allowed, usually when I'm stuck at home.
Video of Isabel should be embedded here:
Our proximity to Lowell (directly across the road) has been a great convenience, as was our intention.  We have him over for dinner, and I can help him on projects that he is working on.  We have been fishing a couple of times, and blackberry picking season has been exceptional this year.

As the old house emptied, I've been working on it.  I touched up the paint and woodwork.  I've made dozens of minor repairs.  We had the carpets cleaned.  I had a garage sale to get rid of all the stuff we didn't want to move.  It was a rainy morning, so hardly anyone came.  I did sell a few things, anyway.  We gave the rest to the thrift store or recycled it.  Our cleaning lady has been working on every square inch of surface.  We hear the real estate market is hot right now, so we're tried to get it for sale as soon as possible.  We had a couple of showings on the first day.

My friend Jan has cicada killers in her back yard, and invited me over to photograph them.  It had been awhile since I'd seen a nesting aggregation, as I couldn't find them in Canton anymore.  It was nice to get some photos with my latest equipment.  More interesting, perhaps, were Jan's big flower beds, mostly zinnias, that are very attractive to butterflies.

This months photos should appear in a slide show below (requires flash):

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