semperfiona: (hogswatch)
So [livejournal.com profile] ursulav posted this morning about plausible ghost stories. I considered commenting, but these stories are pretty boring. Whether they're plausible or not, I couldn't say. I don't even believe in ghosts. But they're mine.

1. Shortly after Ray and I returned from the UK, his parent's dog Sam died. The next day, we were all sitting in the den and I heard the rattle of his collar from the next room. He had one of those chokechain collars that made a very distinctive rattle.

2. When I moved back into the house I live in now (after the divorce was final and I had bought out Ray's share of the house), several of my friends had inexplicable accidents (tripping over nothing, things like that) while visiting me, culminating in Jen falling off a ladder while helping me paint. I went and sat on the stairs to the second floor and had a conversation with the resident ghost. I told him/her/it that they were welcome to live in my house but I was going to be living there too, so we needed to make peace with each other and he/she/it was not to be hurting my friends. Uninvited visitors or burglars were fair game. After that the random accidents stopped.

Except that She Who Shall Not Be Named fell down the stairs one night while visiting me. Huh. Wonder whether my ghost was defending me preemptively?
semperfiona: (castle)
I think it's because we're doing a lot of work on the house this spring/early summer--what with Emma moving in--I've been having dreams about a house. It's not this house, it's not a house I've ever actually seen, but it's HUUUUUUGE, has all kinds of hidden rooms and balconies, a freaking parking garage in one dream...

In today's dream I re-discovered or reopened a whole floor in the house. Reopened a room with a wooden floor painted pink, where the windows had been left open but somehow nothing important was damaged. Just a lot of disused woodgrain plastic 3-ring binders. "I can use this as a craft room!"

Outside the pink floored room was a balcony that from the outside looked like a Disney castle covered in flowering vines. There were some neighbors out there, we had a conversation I can't remember.

Back inside, the next room was full of ancient and deteriorating Japanese and Korean stringed instruments. An elderly Japanese lady was trying to repair them--she wouldn't accept payment unless the repairs succeeded, and they didn't seem to be going well. She was tying off each individual string to a woven fabric piece that was dry-rotted; I couldn't see how it could hold the knots for long.

There was an enormous bathroom with a big shower. I remember thinking how good it would be not to have all six of us sharing a single shower anymore.

More details escape me at this late hour. Should have made notes immediately.

Five things

Aug. 5th, 2010 05:21 pm
semperfiona: (hope)
1. In honor of Prop. H8 being overturned, I bring back the Hope icon. This morning I even had a surprisingly positive conversation with several coworkers who were also pleased by the outcome. Even in Missouri, folks, the world is changing.

2. Rosa just got back from Camp yesterday afternoon. I haven't seen her yet but I talked to her on the phone for a while and it sounds like she had a good time. She didn't enjoy canoeing but it was due more to the other girls in her canoe shrieking every time they wobbled than to the exercise.

3. Read Julian Comstock the other night. I requested it from the library after reading the thread on Making Light. It's well-written and frightening, the world-building is quite convincing, and I didn't like it. For several reasons: one, I can imagine a theocratic nightmare dystopia just fine for myself, and it's not a world I want to reside in even for the length of a book; two, preaching to the choir, dude!; three, I found the narrator's extreme and willful naivete annoying; four, hope-dashing ending.

4. This has been a very exhausting week. The city sent us a nastygram for excessive weeds in the back yard, and I spent most of Saturday, part of Sunday and part of Monday weeding. It's been the hottest week of the year, and I am only now recovering from all that exertion and the near heat prostration I suffered on Monday.

5. I got a shiny new computer at work on Tuesday, and suddenly I find the computer is actually waiting for me rather than the other way around. Wahoo!
semperfiona: (maple)
One that looks nice. And not too expensive.

I have an empty spot in the border beside my house where a rhododendron bush used to be, and I'd like to fill it with something. But given that the rhododendron died--I think it got too dry and hot over there after the big tree in the verge fell over in a storm and was removed some years back--and the one at the other end of the border is dying, I don't think replacing it with a rhododendron is a good idea. I might also consider evicting the other rhododendron in favor of something more likely to thrive.

The space is maybe twenty square feet (5x4 or so), east facing and not shaded except by more shrubberies to the north and south, and reasonably well drained. Height-wise it could grow to about fifteen feet before it blocks a window, though any new plant at the other end needs to be shorter--maybe max eight feet. I live in the city of St. Louis. Climate references for the area probably list a bit more rainfall than we actually get, since storms have a habit of tracking the rivers and often miss us completely while they soak the rest of the metro area.

Remaining plants in the vicinity are (north to south) a white dogwood surrounded by a magenta azalea, [insert shrubbery here], three big burning bushes, a none-too-healthy pink rhododendron, and a thriving thirty-foot holly tree. There are some ivy and hostas surrounding the base of the holly tree.
semperfiona: (balloons)
We have some crazy and wonderful friends. Yesterday, one of them blogged this, and ever since I had seen the post I wondered whether she was referring to us and our house. So we were sort of expecting to find something unusual in our house when we got home from Iowa today...

First thing we saw:


And up in Tammie's office:


So of course, she popped it:


The signed confession:


Balloonacy!


More photos

Peectures!

May. 18th, 2008 10:58 pm
semperfiona: (pinwheel)
I spent my Republican Bribe on a new Digital SLR camera (a Sony Alpha 350 with 18-70 lens) and 4GB memory card. Today Rosa and I went for a walk around the neighborhood to see what we could see; I took the new Precious and I let her use our old Vivitar 3.1MP camera. Here are our results, mixed together (hers are tagged). Rosa has a pretty good eye, although her camera handling is inexpert. She got a lot of blurry shots, and a large number where the focus is in the background rather than on the subject of the photo. I didn't upload most of those.

The Sony is a very nice toy. Shiny, indeed. We chose it in part because the lenses would be (we tested it, they are) interchangeable with the Minolta film SLR that Chris already had, so instead of only one lens that came with the camera, I have access to three. Didn't take any others along today, though.

Karma being what it is, of course, the very day I'd just bought the camera, it became clear that Tammie's van was going to have to be replaced. Too many things wrong with it; it's getting to the stage of "throwing good money after bad". One of the things that's wrong is that the turn signal stick snapped off (a six hundred dollar repair, for gods' sake), which would garner traffic tickets. So we rented a car to postpone the decision a few days and have been frantically studying the car ads.

All while also trying to fit up the fourth bedroom upstairs as an office for her. Painting, desk construction, shelf hanging, etc.

ETA: Changed icon to a newly-created icon; image from the yesterset.
semperfiona: (castle)
I've washed my feet twice today, but they still feel dirty. Chris and Rosa and I spent the better part of the afternoon attempting to whip our backyard into some semblance of order. We put up a fence around the daylily bed that had been severely trodden by the dog, and along the fenceline that she has worn a path into, and surrounding the thornless blackberry bramble. We planted Rosa's Easter bulbs, two packets of snap peas and a metric butt-tonne of onions. Next week or the week after, we plan to get some tomatoes and maybe pole beans. The chainlink fence on the sidewalk side and the poultry fence on the grass side have got to be good for something, and what's better than training yummy veggies to grow on them?

Clematis, maybe: I used to have five of them growing up the chainlink fence; three are still alive and maybe I'll replace the other two.

Rosa made us ravioli for dinner, and then [livejournal.com profile] reannon and her Kiddo dropped by after their day out at Earth Day. [livejournal.com profile] tempesttea came later too, because Tammie called and said the word of Pudding at her.

We all played a round of "In a Pickle", which I had bought for Tammie for her birthday. Rosa won.

QUAKE!!!

Apr. 18th, 2008 06:55 am
semperfiona: (dactyl)
Woken roughly from a sound sleep, having no idea what's going on. Chris says, "What the fuck?" Shake my head. Gradually realize everything's shaking. The windows are rattling. He concludes, "It's an earthquake."

"Huh. Never been in one before."

The shaking goes on and on, seems like it will never stop. A couple of small crashing noises downstairs. Finally, it stops. I roll over and look at the clock radio. 4:47.

All the little hairs are standing up on my whole body. I feel electrical. But I try to go back to sleep, anyway.

---------

It is odd, that even though I spent a year in Japan and have visited California and the Pacific Coast many times, I've never felt an earthquake before. There was one in 1988 that was felt in Milwaukee, where I was at the time, but I didn't feel it. I think I was driving. My dad was in the hospital that summer; he had a room on the eighth floor and he saw the frame of his bed move.

When I first moved to St. Louis, there was a lot of talk about Iben Browning, a geologist who predicted that "The Big One" was going to happen on the New Madrid fault on Dec. 3, 1990. It didn't.

---------

Current official stats: Richter 5.2, centered near Belmont, Illinois on the Wabash Fault. Minor damage locally, no casualties. (According to the TV news.)

The seismograph pictures are interesting: the waves are not high, but they are very very regular and very frequent. It basically fills an area half an inch wide with ink.
semperfiona: (Default)
We don't really celebrate Easter at Rivendell, but we do like the chocolate bunnies and egg hunts. This year, we did a treasure hunt for Rosa, with clues in each egg. They went something like this:
  1. Wrong holiday.
  2. Black keys, white keys, no lock.
  3. I'm on vacation, laying out on the beach.
  4. Let's watch our boyfriend burn his eyebrows off!
  5. No, I'm not an indoor swimming pool, why do you ask?
  6. I'm big, I look like a bean. I might be filled with beans.
  7. No one ever answers me.
  8. Round and round and round I go. Where I stop, Puff the Magic Dragon knows.
  9. The head bone connected to the neck bone, the neck bone connected to the rib bone...
  10. You Donkey, me...
  11. You Calvin, me...
  12. Humans never look up. Where do birdies keep their eggs?
And there was a bucket of goodies hanging in the Japanese maple tree outside the front door.

Rosie was thrilled to bits.
semperfiona: (castle)
[livejournal.com profile] bbwoof asked Tammie and me a question Sunday night, "How do you guys get so many of these wonderful impromptu gatherings to happen?"

We said something about three people who have cellphones and aren't afraid to use them, but I think there's more to it. I'm not sure we ever sat down and determined to do so, but from the very beginning we made hospitality one of our family's primary values. There were the weekend-long poly parties at the Washington House and monthly game nights at the Lake House. Even so, Rivendell House has been even more of a center for gatherings.

I think it's because of the name of the house. Years ago, when Ray and I were living in England, I was taken with the (disappearing) English habit of naming houses in lieu of numbering them. We had no house of our own, but we planned that on our return we would soon buy one. I ordered a house-name plaque on spec, and chose the name Rivendell in honor of my beloved Tolkien books.

Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, "a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all." Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.
--The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, Chapter I "Many Meetings"


Before we bought the house, Ray and I used to talk about the "South City Palace" (SCP) we would someday own. And we did, and the nameplaque was duly installed. But he and I never called the house by name; we always called it the SCP: an exclusionary monicker, I think now.

For years, both while we lived there together and, after the divorce, when Rosa and I lived there alone, delivery people would knock on the door and ask quizzically, "Is this the $NAME residence?" When I answered in the affirmative, they always asked me why I left the previous owners' name on the wall. "It's the house's name," I'd say, and they'd look at me even funnier. Until the movies came out, and suddenly I no longer get questions.

In the two years since Chris, Tammie and I moved (back) to the city we have started calling the house by name, our friends call us and the house Rivendell more or less interchangeably, and spontaneous gatherings have been more and more commonplace.
semperfiona: (castle)
Seven-letter Deborah's husband LB (and aren't they totally cute and schmoopy) is an electrician. For some time we've had no light in the kitchen, the front porch and the up- and downstairs hallways. The kitchen had a ceiling fan with light fixture, but the globe broke some while back. As a matter of fact, Ray broke the original globe while he was living in the house before our divorce; I bought a replacement but it never quite fit right. Eventually the replacement fell off and smashed. After that, the bulb also came loose and was hanging by its wires. We removed it, obviously, but since the over-the-sink fluorescent fixture also doesn't work, the kitchen remained unlit except for a lamp plugged in near the sink.

LB was finally free yesterday, and came round and installed a new ceiling fan and light kit in the kitchen. It's higher up, so [livejournal.com profile] ohari won't be bashing his head on the lights (even I could barely walk under the old one). And they put 75-watt compact fluorescent bulbs in all four of the bulb sockets. Oh my. No phantoms will be hiding in the kitchen corners now!

He diagnoses the over-the-sink fluorescent's problem as dead ballasts/starters, and Chris is going to go to the hardware store today and pick some new ones up.

In both the front porch and upstairs hallway the fixtures are dead. The upstairs hallway fixture's wires had burned and melted, gods only know when or why, and the front porch fixture turns out to have been ill-suited to the purpose. It's an outdoor fixture, all right, but was intended to be used only under cover and not mounted on a brick wall. Moisture had gotten into it through the gaps between it and the bricks.

On the other hand, the problem with the hallway light downstairs turns out to be pilot error: all three bulbs were burned out. Now, to be fair to ourselves, they did all go at once and while the fixture was turned off, so it seemed like a wiring problem rather than a bulb problem.

Dryer

Oct. 25th, 2007 10:11 pm
semperfiona: (castle)
I can't decide whether to be relieved, disgusted, angry, or all of those at once.

Remember the gas dryer that had sprung a gas leak? We replaced it with a fine old dryer acquired for $10 on Craigslist, that Chris and I installed a couple weeks ago. Then we put the bad one back in the van to be taken away somewhere. We were hoping to be able to sell it for a few bucks for scrap.

After Chris drove around all over town one day and found no one willing to buy it, he listed it yesterday on Freecycle. This morning, he took it out of the van and set it up in front of the garage. I saw it there when I left for work at 8:15ish.

At 10:00, he called to ask me whether I'd seen the dryer when I left. Sure, I said, it was right there.

"It's not there now." He'd thought maybe Tammie moved it. But no. Somewhere in that intervening hour and a half, someone stole our old dryer.

I can't help feeling like it ought to be a reportable crime. That I should call the police. But what are they going to do? "Well, what was its value?" "Nothing. It didn't work and we were giving it away."

All the thieves have really accomplished is to save us the trouble of helping some guy off Freecycle load it into his truck. And possibly, if they were to actually install it instead of (as is more likely) selling it for scrap, blowing themselves and their block to smithereens.

Still, I hate the idea that theft of possibly-valuable appliances has to be tolerated. How was anyone to know that the dryer was useless just from looking at its exterior?
semperfiona: (castle)
Sunday, [livejournal.com profile] soraidh called from our house to tell us the Laclede Gas man had been out. Someone from the neighborhood called in an odor of gas. Gas guy checked around, didn't find anything though there was a faint odor in the basement, told her to put the pets upstairs and have us call Laclede when we got back on Tuesday.

So this morning, there was a hangtag on the door: they'd come out again Sunday afternoon and turned off the gas.

So while I was completely crashed out, Tammie called the gas company. Gas man came back again, disassembled the cedar closet to get at the meter and supply pipe, and very quickly discovered that one of our dryers had sprung a seal and was venting gas directly out the dryer vent. The dryer that was working, naturally.

Oh, yeah. We have two dryers (and two washers). The other dryer's dryness sensor has failed sometime in the last month, so if you turn it on it runs until you remember to turn it off again. Overnight, one day, three days, a week.

Gas bill from HELL and two repair bills, here we come. Joy.
semperfiona: (castle)
Cleaning out the hexquarium in the back yard last night, I noticed a fire engine driving slowly down our street. "Hm," I shrugged to myself.

Tammie called out to them to find out what they wanted, but they sort of blew her off and continued on their way. Then they pulled into the alley and turned around, turning on their lights, and parked outside our yard. "Hm," I shrugged again.

Tammie was outside. They explained to her that someone had called saying they smelled smoke, and they were sent to investigate. Oh, and we're sorry we blew you off but you understand, we have to do our job. Yeah, I just guessed you might have been coming here. She showed them the hot tub and its stove and smokestack. Yes, the fire is nicely contained and not going anywhere. They were all very impressed by our set up; they went back and got the captain so he could see it too!

Tammie says we made the firehouse newsletter this month.
semperfiona: (castle)
Update on the Workbench Dilemma: It
turns out the measurements of the studio were slightly off in our favor.
It's at least 9 1/2 feet wide. The hardest thing about getting the
workbench top in was actually the turn at the bottom of the basement
stairs. It went into the studio just nice.

We took the legs off first and carried them in with no problems. Then
the top, what had been our main concern. We had to put it up into the
crawl space under the porch to get it to turn through the basement door,
but after that we had no difficulties. It's all set up now, and a cork
layer applied to the top.

And on the project as a whole? It's finally a bathroom! (Only six weeks
late...) There's still some finish work (a little painting, the window
trim) to be done but Tammie and I had the very first bath in the new
bathtub yesterday. It's ginormous: wide enough to sit crosslegged
sideways, long enough to lay down nearly flat, and capacious enough for
both of us to be comfortable.

The only remaining problem? Not enough hot water to fill it! *arrgh* We
turned the hot water heater all the way up to see how much difference
that will make; we'll find out next time. But it looks like a new (or
additional) water heater may be in the cards.
semperfiona: (castle)
So the workers have been at the house today removing the first floor bathroom. They got the wall partly torn out where we were planning to put the new tub, and find that while the joists holding up the first floor run east-west, the ones holding up the second floor run north-south. So they said, "That's weird!" and stopped working until the general contractor can come out with someone tomorrow and determine whether the wall we'd wanted to remove is a load-bearing wall.

His response when they called was reportedly disbelief. "No way, houses aren't built like that!"

We're just glad they stopped *before* the back of the house fell off.
semperfiona: (castle)
This is getting ridiculous. Today I learn from the lending agent I've
been working with on a home equity loan that they won't lend money on a
vacant house. But I don't want to live in the house while the bathrooms
are torn up, either.
semperfiona: Triskadelion jewelry (tri knot)
We have ducklings! We hadn't seen M. et Mme. l'Orange for some time, but yesterday Tammie and Rosa called me all excited to announce that Madame showed up with four ducklings in tow. They spent most of the day between the ground feeder and our pond. When I got home from work, they were still there. Nobody ran away at the approach of a car, nor of a human.
And lo and behold, while we were all watching, a fifth duckling appeared from out of nowhere (or maybe from under the feeder). Monsieur was nowhere to be seen; when I asked, Tammie said that Rosa had been asking about him all day, and that apparently mother ducks raise the young alone.
Rosa started summer school on Monday ("Ready! Set! Go to Kindergarten!"). So far she has really been enjoying it. It's been rather an adjustment for us all, though; her class starts at eight a.m. We have to get up significantly earlier to get her snack made and all of her stuff together and get her to school on time, and we've had to change her bedtime commensurately. She's been pretty good about the change, thank gods.

In the afternoons, she's having her first swimming lessons. Finally. I've only been talking about sending her (taking her) to swimming lessons for the last four years! She loves it. I knew she would, after last summer at the lake where she practically grew gills.
Well crap. As I'm writing this, I received a phone message from Armida. Rosa is very sick--high fever, tonsils inflamed, sore throat--and she is going to take her to the doctor.
semperfiona: (castle)
Tammie, Rosa and I went down to the loch to feed the ducks with Roger and Hunter. While walking around on the muddy shore, we found a jawbone full of very odd teeth. None of us can figure out what animal it was.



More pictures )

We also found most of the skeleton of a large fish--rib bones nearly six inches long. The suggestion was made (and it seems likely) that it's actually someone's grilled salmon dinner, thrown off the deck into the lake at some point in the past.
semperfiona: (castle)
We have fishes! Monday evening the three of us and Rosa went to Petsmart
across Manchester and bought five medium koi (about five inches long),
one solid yellow-orange, one black and white with an orange face, one
white and orange, one black and white with just a couple orange dots,
and oh-I-forget. We introduced them to the pond and tried feeding them
some pellets. No interest. Well, maybe they're tired and stressed out by
being moved. We also noticed that the waterfall was flowing much more
slowly than usual, so we took the filter pads out and cleaned them of a
thick layer of mud. The last rainfall had washed quite a bit of loose
dirt into the pond.

Tuesday evening we cleaned the filter yet again and tried to find the
fishies. They're all there, but they still haven't been seen to eat
anything, and they're spending all of their time lying in the rocks at
the bottom of the pond. I don't know whether that's because the water is
still chilly--it's been about 63 degrees in the morning, up to 75 in the
afternoon--or whether they're still stressed out, or there's too much
sun and they're seeking all the shade they can find, or there's a lot of
edible material in the layer of stuff at the bottom of the pond. But all
our resources say you can't starve them to death, so we're trying not to
worry. I do hope they come out soon and start exploring their new home.

If I remember, I should buy a couple oranges. Koi are said to like fresh
food, especially citrus and squash; the Petsmart near the City House had
a quarter orange and a slice of zucchini in each koi tank. The fish were
going nuts over it.

In other news, Tuesday morning we had *three* ducks. Not two parents and
a duckling, but three adult ducks (two drakes and a hen). Most of the
time there are still only two; the third might have been an interloper
trying to steal Madame l'Orange away from Monsieur. There's at least one
set of ducklings over on the loch but apparently *our* ducks have none.

We have a batch of goslings at the loch as well. Not at our house, but
down by the corner at Manchester, I saw a pair of Canada geese and
at least five fuzzy yellowish goslings. Tammie has counted seven, but I
was driving past on my way to work and did not see them long enough to
get a good count.

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