Porch buddies

Posted in Mississippi Cats, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose, Vintage bottles and jars | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Saturday night in Mississippi: Cold, raining, dark.

Bottle Art

It is a rather dreary and damp evening here, with rain falling all day. It feels colder than it is, so R and I are bundled in our hoodies because the thermostat has not indicated it is time for heat. I finished painting the second coat on the porch railing yesterday afternoon, so it had time to dry before the rain began.

It was definitely long overdue. I still plan to remove the railing entirely, but I knew that needed to wait until later in the spring and now I will have time to research what I want to do; perhaps, we will even be able to build the deck extension from the porch to the retaining wall. It is supposed to be warm and sunny tomorrow, and Randy will smoke the ribs we delayed from Thanksgiving, so it will be a good time to relocate all the plants.

Like birds on a wire 
we perch in the abyss 
between heartlines and lifelines and skylines. 
Reflecting the reflection 
We imagine 
We break through 
Reflect and reform 
Always looking for she who brings peace. 
© scwallen. 11/o6/2022
Posted in Bird Watch, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Let the turkeys go campaign

Roast pork loin with honey garlic butter sauce

We aren’t so much turkey people any more. We almost always had roast chicken and dressing for holidays until the family got so large a turkey and sometimes a ham was on the menu. One year, I made a chili lime turkey with coconut milk which was certainly a unique change to say the least! This recipe is from Cafe Delites and it was as promised: moist, flavorful, and totally delicious. The herbs and spices are mixed into a rub with olive oil, the roast is seared on all sides and then it rests while you make the sauce. There were several steps to the process, such as cover and roast for 20 minutes, baste with half of the reserved sauce, continue roasting uncovered for 15 minutes, baste again and roast for another 10-15 minutes. While the roast rests (for yet another 10-15 minutes of course), the cornstarch is added to make the sauce thicken. I hereby claim it is the best pork loin roast I have ever made and totally worth all those little extra steps!

The meal was simple, accompanied with green beans and skin-on mashed potatoes. I served Soetmelksvlei pinotage which was an excellent accompaniment.

After all, the star of the show was dessert, which was a lot more work than the roast! Enter sweet potato bread pudding, New Orleans style! The recipe is from Brigtsen’s restaurant which features “Bread Pudding du Jour” and the sweet potato version is a holiday offering featured in Eating Well.

It was as good this morning as it was last night–we all had seconds! Is your mouth watering yet? It was that good. I texted with Sis, Bro, and Cuz, my two BFFs, and the group text with R’s family and pronounced it a “not bad Thanksgiving” for being separated by miles and miles of Texas.

Posted in Family, Food and Wine, New Orleans, South Africa | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Wordless Wednesday

Posted in Mississippi Cats | Tagged | 9 Comments

Grandma got her hammer out: Porch railing repair

Replaced rotted wood!

Yesterday was calm and clear and sunny, and at only 48, nice enough to work outside. When J rebuilt the stairs in his studio (another episode in the now 17-month saga of the building of the studio which has been under re-building construction for the past 6 months), he pitched the 2x4s he removed from the landing outside on his porch. The wood was new when installed the first time but J opted to replace it…because there were anywhere from 6-12 nails in each piece. That seems like overkill to me, but it certainly resulted in shoddy workmanship to put it kindly. My original plan for this repair had been to cut a length off a left-over piece of 2×4–of which we have some quantity now stockpiled [see above notation about re-constructing the studio]. Being ever mindful of the sky-rocketing price of lumber since the beginning of the pandemic, I found two pieces of wood that were almost perfect in size…with 15 nails holding these two pieces together in a T. It looked like someone had given a hammer and handful of nails to a 5-year old.

It took me longer to remove the nails using my trusted Stanley Wonder Bar Pry Bar than it did to saw the extra length, tap them into place and toenail the supports to the base. Wonder Bar? you may be asking? Had that baby since my salvaging days in Texas. It is for the times when a hammer will just not remove a nail, along with any demolition tasks you may have pending.

The great news? Son J purchased a Suizan Japanese pull saw hand saw, which he taught me how to use. I was laboriously sawing the slanted edge off the railing post to install the solar light cap and he came to see what I was doing. Most saws in use here are European saws, which are called “push saws.” The cutting action requires you to push the saw forward. The “pull saw” is lighter in weight, structured differently, and cuts by pulling it back toward you. The result is not only less laborious, but results in a smoother, cleaner edge. I did not even have to sand the post smooth–it was that smoothly and cleanly cut! It took me about a minute to place the piece of 2×4 in the clamp and another minute to almost effortlessly saw off the excess inch.

Bey, Jayzeeb, and Scruff all had a turn at lap sitting while I enjoyed the first fire in over a week. It was a nice ending to the week with another mission accomplished!

Posted in Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Suncatcher II: Seeds for Sale

Song: ‘The lark now leaves his watery nest’
By Sir William Davenant (1606–1668)
THE LARK now leaves his watery nest,	
  And climbing shakes his dewy wings,	
He takes your window for the east,	
  And to implore your light, he sings;	
Awake, awake, the moon will never rise,	        5
Till she can dress her beauty at your eyes.	
The merchant bows unto the seaman’s star,	
  The ploughman from the sun his season takes;	
But still the lover wonders what they are,	
  Who look for day before his mistress wakes:	        10
Awake, awake, break through your veils of lawn!	
Then draw your curtains and begin the dawn.

Source: Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
Posted in Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Artist-in-Residence: Suncatcher

Wine bottle sunbeam catcher

In my quest to repurpose items to keep them out of the landfill, and my love of all things in outdoor decor, and, do it without spending money (other than a little paint), I found a few examples of repurposing wine bottles as sun catchers. My favorite was the 3-bottle version, but I opted to start small to begin and then decide if I wanted to attempt the triple-deluxe version.

It is a sunny day today, and not cold, so a good day to try it out. Wonder what it will look like once the lights are on this evening as it nears dark?

Posted in landscape architecture, Monday Morning Musings, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Friday Fun and Games

I got the second coat of paint on the light post and the handrail. It was clear and sunny and slightly windy, so it had a chance to dry before the rain came in last night. I am pleased with how it looks, and Beyoncé gives it a paws up, too.

I removed the damaged part of the bottom rail and planned to cut the new 2×4 length to replace it but it had taken so long on the painting and clean up that I did not have time. I needed to get to the grocery store and time was running out. By the time I showered and dressed, R had been to the pharmacy and came back to report traffic was horrendous and he had almost been hit by a car attempting to exit the circle from the inner lane. R was in the outer lane exiting to the highway. Fortunately, the guy stopped and of course, backed up all the traffic in the circle. It just infuriates me, besides making me wonder why they are so willfully violating traffic rules, to see someone cross the unbroken line and exit across two lanes of traffic. The whole point of a traffic circle is when you use it correctly, it keeps traffic flowing. There are signs posted and arrows painted on the lane itself showing where you can go depending on which lane you are in. It is not rocket science. So that is my soapbox for the day and I will stop going on about it.

However, I decided to forego the grocery store since I would have to exit that circle in the madhouse when it is bad enough on a normal day. I went up to the Dollar General to pick up orange juice, laundry detergent, and cat food and said the rest could wait. It was bad enough at the DG, which is just inside the city limit.

Jayzeeb jumped up on my lap for the first time! Beyoncé said “wait a minute Buster!”

Jayzeeb has allowed me to pet him if I put my hand down on the right side of his head and then he moves his head back and forth. He has not wanted more than that and will move if I do. Of late, he has taken to standing up on the edge of my chair and reaching his paw up to say “pet me.” Last evening, he jumped up on my lap as soon as I sat down, and Beyoncé immediately inserted herself between us!

After feeding the doggies, I sat outside a little longer and watched the Alabama traffic coming in for the football game today. It was non-stop streaming from the south heading into town. A football game can bring a minimum of 60,000 extra vehicles into town on game day weekend. Every hotel room within a radius of 50 miles will be booked and RVs are parked everywhere allowed. Folks who provide parking spaces will make a heap of money charging $30 a space. The tow trucks do a big business as well for those folks who park in no parking zones, which are all the highways and roads surrounding the campus. They were still streaming in when I went inside to fix dinner.

It is cold and raining today, so no more working on the porch, and no heading to town until tomorrow. I might just work on some art; it is always good to take a break for playtime.

Posted in Mississippi Cats, Oxford, University of Mississippi | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

I got a new coat…of paint!

Yesterday I started on the porch railing. First, I had to saw the beveled edge off the old post so I could mount one of the new solar lights. I scrubbed the post and opposite handrail with soap and vinegar, allowed it to dry, mounted the light and put the first coat of paint on. Anything not moving in Mississippi will grow moss or get mold, and vinegar helps retard that, plus, it is cheap and non-chemical!

After cleaning up my tools, Beyoncé and I took a short break. I fed the dogs and got supper going in the instant pot, and then we enjoyed a short 30-minute fire and admired the light.

Today is doctor day for the shoulder check, so I probably won’t get back to this until tomorrow, but hopefully wrap up this long-overdue task and move on to scrubbing the steps and repainting them.

Posted in Acts of Restorative Kindness, Mississippi Cats | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Jeweled and decoupaged trinket box: Thanks again, Jessica!

See, what had happened was…

I can be like a kid with a new toy when I find something else that catches my fancy. First it was Cathy over at RoatanStrineWay and Wordle…now it is Jessica at Jeweled Again by Jessica. It is one of the things that is so much fun about blogging, am I right? The ideas, the photographs, the experiences, the opportunities. It was especially important during those first two years of Covid, and apparently, it is going to matter again this winter.

My current stats

You can see it usually takes me 4 guesses most of the time, and 6 times, I did not get the word at all and had to start over with my streak. I do not really care about the “streak” per se; I am not competing with anyone but myself, but it is fun to use critical thinking and figure it out. The last few days, I have gotten the word on the second try. I told Rand yesterday that it was kind of disappointing to get it on the second try. A bit of it might be skill, but a whole lot of it in the beginning is just chance in my opinion.By the time you get the 3rd shot, you better be doing the if-then thing (again, in my opinion) and the other levels really require critical thinking. That’s the reason Cathy’s post resonated with me–I like to keep my critical thinking skills as sharp as I can. It is a skill I honed over 34 years as both a practicing social worker and social work educator.

I vary the words I use as a starting point, sometimes on a whim and sometimes because it is a word that has brought me good results. Then I move on to Spelling Bee, which I really enjoy, Mini Crrossword, and Letter Boxed. I love words!

I just finished the first jeweled art project which I posted about a couple of days ago, after reading Jessica’s blog posts about her creative art work. Jeweling the cat was so much fun, and I had some beads left over…and the box some of Mom’s jewelry had been in, and then one thing just led to another.

I use small trinket boxes to hold different types of earrings, so it is easier to find the pair I am looking for than sorting through all of them. I store tacks, mini clothes pins, paper clips, small nails and screws, buttons, etc., in a variety of containers, most of which are repurposed tins. This little baby is now home to my paper clips. This could be an ongoing hobby, or it could fade like the morning fog. Either way, it is fun and I love learning about new things from the blogs I enjoy. They are not all about doing, but I learn from each of them and stay engaged and thinking: poetry, short stories, seeing parts of the world and the USA that I would not have known about except for the connections that sent me to their part of the Internet.

Thank you for reading, being part of my world now, and allowing me to be part of yours. You make the messes going on outside my house a little less burdensome with your words of support and kindness for each of us and I am grateful for you.

Remember to vote tomorrow if you have not already done so! We don’t have early voting here without an “approved” reason, so I always look forward to the day to show up at my community center, see the women and men who staff the voting station that I have come to know over the now 19 years I have been here.

Posted in Acts of Restorative Kindness, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Jewelry Art, Mississippi, Monday Morning Musings, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments