Sunday, November 27, 2016

November 23, 2016 Winter is coming! Winter is coming! FYI, we do realize we sound like alarmists over something as normal as snowfall but remember, we've spent most of our lives in South Florida, so we haven't yet become blase` about below-freezing temperatures or seeing a winter wonderland in our back yard. (The photo to the right was actually taken last winter by the remarkable Jake Campbell.)

Maybe next year we'll be indifferent, but this year we're still amazed at all the unusual things that happen at the change of each season. Of course, the animal activity is always worth noting...as is the late Fall sound of rifle shots in the woods beyond our property. We try not to think about what that means.

A couple weeks ago, we posted photos of the annual brush hog mowing. This week, the ever-efficient Sokoloski Landscaping team performed the annual Autumn clean-up of fallen leaves and pine needles, which involves a whole crew with a gigantic vacuum and a trailer to haul it all away. Obviously not something we ever witnessed in Florida.


Hello down there Jerry!


Bye-bye leaves of 2016
















Another thing we definitely never saw before we moved to New England was the annual placing of temporary posts to let the plow driver know where the driveway is when the snow is too deep to see it. Whirlwind Fine Garden Design, a local landscaping and stone contractor, is our team of choice for getting those posts set in advance and keeping our driveway and parking areas clear through the winter. Word is we'll be seeing a lot more of them this year than we did last.
This happened yesterday, 11/26.

Sigh. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


November 20, 2016:  How many grad students does it take to connect a treadmill to the internet? The answer is 3 + a mom. In this photo you see Joie adjusting the tread, Chloe following the on-screen instructions and Marilyn donning her reading glasses to give Chloe the passwords to make sure all our favorite channels can be accessed for maximum distraction value. Before snapping the photographic memory, Katherine was interpreting the paper manual.

Actually, it didn't take much time or effort and now no one in the house has an excuse for not getting in some exercise no matter what the weather is like outside Chateau de Joie.



And since Katherine wasn't in the group photo, here she is doing the final quality control test while the rest of the group checked the noise level throughout the house.
If you ever doubted what running can do for you, just take a look at those calves!


By the way, all the product placements in the pics were completely coincidental, but you're welcome to see how many brand names you can identify.


Another pretty thing that lightens the days before winter's arrival is the blooming of our Christmas cactus.


Monday, October 31, 2016

October 31, 2016:  HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Though we didn't move into an area where children go trick-or-treating, we have two housemates --Chloe Spinks and Katherine Fecteau-- who managed to "carve out" some time from their busy academic responsibilities to host a pumpkin carving event for the graduate history students at the University. Joie was unable to attend, so she didn't expect to reap any rewards.

To our extreme delight, Ms. Spinks returned at the end of the day with a reward for us both. Not only did she bring home a carved pumpkin for us to enjoy, she managed to do an amazing job of incorporating the symbol of Joie's favorite super-heroine!

 Surely, The Great Pumpkin will be granting one of her wishes this year for being so very, very good!

Friday, October 28, 2016


October 28, 2016: Signs of Fall coming to a close ... The Sequel.

We ended the last post with a note that there was a chance of snow showers on Thursday (10/27/16). However, Thursday morning's forecast suggested that it might only be rain after all but even if a few flurries came through, no accumulation was expected.




Thus, we were taken by surprise when the flurries started a little after noon, quickly thickened into flakes and continued falling into the evening. Considering what Marilyn took pictures of through the living room window, we're officially labeling it the first snowfall of the 2016-2017 winter.







Fortunately, it all melted within 24 hours.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to give the houseful of students a snow day.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

October 24, 2016:  End of Fall signs -- more leaves on the ground than on the trees, night temps dropping below 30, birds binge eating and...the return of the BRUSH HOG! No, that's not a variety of boar, though the way it tears through the wild is pretty ferocious!

This is our second experience with mowing down the thick brush in our back field but it was no less fun to watch! Again, Mark of Sokoloski Landscaping, did a very impressive job of maneuvering the heavy equipment around trees and marshy areas. The icing on this cake was that he was also able to remove the pile of deadwood that was once a fire pit in the middle of our Viewing Circle, a chore that Marilyn has been trying to get done for two years without success.

The process does tend to disturb all sorts of little creatures, which then tempts the larger ones to come out of hiding to take advantage of the buffet. A very scrawny coyote has been hanging around waiting for just such an opportunity. He's out there hunting as this is being written.

To Marilyn's delight, an osprey took a moment's pause close enough to the house for her to see it without binoculars, but, of course, it flew off before she could get a picture (this one is borrowed). She has seen it before in flight or perched atop the radio tower to the far left. Wing span in flight - about 5 feet across!


Left field


Unless the coyote has a major objection, we will be hiking the perimeter later today, if anyone wants to join us...
Center field
Right field with labyrinth















One more little sign of Fall ending that I probably should mention - the weather forecast for Thursday is snow.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

October 21, 2016:  Borrowing a page from Tom Sawyer...

That's right, Joie got two of her colleagues to help paint the fence we built last summer. Adeline, who has helped with many projects before, and Katherine, who is also a housemate, set aside their heavy workloads to help us get this task done before the cold weather set in.



Since it's been a while since we started this particular redo, here's a pictorial reminder --

50 yr-old fence was way past due for replacement.

June, 2015 - Teardown began
Rotten wood gone, ready to build new

Under our contractor Ryan Regan-Ladd's tutelage (and his help selecting, hauling and cutting all the wood) Joie and Marilyn built a new fence around the pool. For the full story & pics, check out the 9/1/15 blog.

Here's Joie, making waves, as usual.
August, 2015 - Construction complete


We learned that pressure-treated wood needs to age for about 10-12 months before painting and we had it scheduled that way on our Reno To-Do List. However, good intentions weren't enough to get the fence painted all summer during the brutal heat, then Joie was back in school and Marilyn was knocked out of commission with a back injury. But she finally got the nail holes puttied and sanded the first week of October, 2016.
 

With the cooperation of a very welcome spell of Indian Summer, the fence was finally finished October 21, 2016! Despite the scholarly kick-off, it took Marilyn 4 full days to finish applying two coats of wood stain to both sides and edges. We chose gray (Sherwin Williams Blue Spruce), which matches beautifully with all the shades of gray, white and aqua around the pool, and will eventually match with the roof shingles when they get replaced.

At the moment, the rest of the color plan is a very pale shade of green siding with doors and shutters done in a deep eggplant.

Sure wish we had a magic wand about now!

Thursday, October 13, 2016





Storm clouds collide w/sunset
October 13, 2016:  Our deepest apologies to Mother Nature! We were disturbed by the excessive heat and drought all Summer, then disappointed over the lack of Fall coloring.
Not on fire - just a Fall sunset
    We actually had started to wonder if Mother Nature was pregnant or menopausal, but it turns out she was only LATE!  
     Look what just happened in our back yard –
 

 




And here's what the back yard looked like ten minutes before...



 
Marilyn under the Willow - See how it's grown!


Close-up of the goshen stone pillars we relocated to the Labyrinth entry.