Archive for ‘Observations’

Dolphin Tax

I was pleasantly rewarded with a lively cetacean show during a jaunt down to Fort De Soto Park earlier this week. It was a beautiful, sunny morning and conditions for fishing were supposedly excellent (according to the helpful and informative tides4fishing.com).

As a result, the pier was lined with hopeful anglers. I watched schools of bait fish glinting in the shallows but the show was stolen by a pod of speedy dolphins. Dashing, spinning, and even jumping out of the water as they searched for food.

I was excited when one man’s reel started spinning, I felt certain that I’d get to see him haul in big one. However, his line quickly went slack and as he brought up his empty hook I heard him mutter, “Damn dolphin!”

Apparently, the ever intelligent creatures have figured out how to successfully remove bait from a hook without getting caught. Admittedly, it is much easier than chasing down a fish in the open water!

When I asked him what he’s trying to catch, he replied, “Whatever the dolphins let me.” He was not a happy camper! Come on down, the fishing is free, after you pay the dolphin…

Cooler Weather Means It’s Yard Work Time

For the first time in my life I have a lawn to mow. And since I bought a corner lot on a cul-de-sac with a utility easement attached, I have more grass than most of my neighbors. Not really complaining, I enjoy the additional privacy (one of the benefits of only sharing one lot line).

Unfortunately, the property wasn’t very well-cared for (part of the reason I was able to afford it). As a result, the weed-filled grass was uneven and overgrown. I devised a plan to level the ground, reduce mowable area, and make the yard easier to care for.

To that end, last week 8 cubic yards of crushed shell were delivered. Now all I have to do is: remove sod, line ground with cardboard (to prevent regrowth), and dump in loads of shell. I’ve completed three small areas so far with three long walkways ahead of me.

Not to overstate the obvious, but if you remove 12 wheelbarrows full of sod, you will need 12 wheelbarrows full of shell. I won’t be joining a gym any time soon!

Final note, I am piling the removed sod against the outside of my fence as a buffer from potential flooding. During Tropical Storm Eta, water gushed out of the storm sewers and flowed down the street. Thankfully, the storm surge and high tide were off by a few hours or I would’ve had a bit of a problem.

Timing

As I mentioned in my last post, I drove through the outer edge of Tropical Storm Eta on my return trip. I felt fortunate to sneak home before the tempest arrived.

One of the reasons I haven’t been too concerned during this hurricane season is that the Tampa area hasn’t had a direct hit in about 100 years (though, of course, I know that’s not an indicator of future trends).

The next morning, after reading the warnings, I decided to err on the side of caution and install the hurricane fabric that the previous owners had left behind. As I explained to my neighbor, it was my first rodeo so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Unfortunately, the panels were not labeled, parts were missing, and the anchors were incorrectly installed. I discovered all of that while standing on a ladder in the rain. Good times!

Regardless, I did the best I could and it afforded me a bit of peace of mind as I listened to the wind howling around the house later that night.

Thankfully, all my preparations were for naught as the storm blew north of me. The next morning dawned warm and sunny, and in my new neighborhood things looked pretty darn normal.

My old neighborhood, however, did not fare as well. My afternoon walk to the beach was almost a swim. Low-lying areas were still flooded, and so many houses were trying to dry out. Friends of mine suffered some water damage, including a refrigerator that blew out since they had neglected to unplug it. Thankfully, they were all safe!

I have to admit though, the excess water did provide a scenic backdrop.

On a side note, someone missed me. Well, not me, but apparently my car…thanks for the mess, Morrissey! That’s the name I gave the big, sweet neighborhood tom cat. He doesn’t care what I call him, he doesn’t answer anyway.

Cat Paw Prints and Sleeping Imprint

Not a Pleasure Cruise

Since I recently purchased a house and am settling down a bit (after hopping through four states in four years) it was finally time to get my sh*t together. Literally.

I had left a box of rocks and fossils with my parents before leaving southern Arizona in 2017 (former geology student, I dug those specimens with my own two hands! ‘Nuff said). 

Later, in 2019, when I moved to the Texas Coastal Bend from Coastal Oregon, I wasn’t certain how that would work out so, I stored some boxes in my friend’s attic. It was rather prescient of me really, since that small “drinking village with a fishing problem” did not afford me the opportunities I was looking for. 

However, since I ran short on time, I did not pack my belongings carefully enough for shipment. And while I may be blonde, I was also not willing to pay to ship that heavy box from my parent’s. That would be dumb as a box of…you know. 

All of which meant an epic road trip was in my future. My plan:

Considerations:

  • I wanted to slide this trip in right before there was too high a chance of winter storms and right after most of the western wildfires had abated. 
  • There was no time for sightseeing or side trips, besides, I’ve already explored so much of this country. That Hank Snow song, I’ve Been Everywhere is pretty fitting!
  • Return home in time for contractors to replace roof.

Observations:

  • I left a day after Hurricane Zeta churned through the South, thankfully, it was a smooth drive.
  • From Tennessee through Idaho, I counted an average of 1.3 deer carcasses per mile. I noted with interest that many of them were young bucks (young, dumb, and horny?). I also correlated their abundance with predator-removal programs in some states. Mostly, I was just relieved that I did not have any run-ins with them! 
  • I discovered that my iTunes Playlist has a rather sick sense of humor. I put it on shuffle and it played Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ right after his Learning to Fly. Not sure Tom would’ve approved of that coupling.
  • Saw some gorgeous fall colors along the way.
  • There’s a town called Oregon located in Iowa, talk about a tease!
  • It was cold! I had to wear jeans, long sleeve shirts, close-toed shoes, and a jacket for the first time in about 8 months.
  • The wind gusts on I-80 were really high, I was hoping they wouldn’t close the highway.
  • Just missed an early winter storm in Wyoming, as evidenced by piles of snow along the road.
  • Once I reached Oregon I spent half a day babying my car. After the oil change I had the tires balanced and rotated. I requested that when they checked the spare that they pull it and the tools out and place them behind the driver’s seat. Last thing I wanted was to have to unload my boxes on a busy road, at night (those kinds of things always happen at night), just to access the spare. The young guy pulled the spare and bagged it carefully, which was really quite thoughtful, but he didn’t get out the tire changing tools. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I dealt with it later but I ask you, what good is the spare without the tools?! 
  • I caught a nice tailwind which helped me breeze through New Mexico.
  • According to the TXDoT signs, there have been over 3,010 traffic fatalities in Texas this year. An alarming number but by no means the highest. The highest fatality rates (per capita) consistently belong to Mississippi, South Carolina, and Alabama. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions…
  • During the last hour of my drive home I ran into several heavy rain bands, the worst weather of the entire trip – thank you Tropical Storm Eta!
  • Ten miles from the house I encountered the first major crash, there were at least 8 smashed up cars.
  • I averaged 950 miles per travel day, a solid 12-14 hours of driving each time. 
  • I racked up a cool 7,000 miles on my car and, luckily, made the entire trip without incident (no accidents, no traffic tickets, and no mechanical issues).

Of course, since it is 2020, nothing went according to plan. I didn’t see half the people I had hoped to (though perhaps in the time of COVID that’s for the best) but fortunately, it all worked out. 

Payin’ the Price

So, the good news is that I finally finished the guest bedroom! Well, I have yet to order the mattress and still need to decorate but the room and the new closet are painted and clean and ready to welcome guests.

The bad news is that during the process of installing the baseboards I tore the meniscus in my left knee. My doctor has ordered me to rest, elevate my leg, and ice it. After I start physical therapy (first visit on Friday) she will reassess and see if I need an MRI (and possibly surgery).

I wasn’t doing anything too crazy when it happened, well, maybe something a bit like this (but I’ll never tell):

Hole-y Moly!

I can’t fathom why but the previous owners really, really liked shelves. And the guest bedroom held the motherlode. I spent hours yesterday removing shelves, screws, and anchors before patching the associated holes.

Looks like the room has a bad rash!

Though the damage has long been done, in my frustration I modified a phrase from Captain Jack Sparrow, “Stop putting holes in my house!”

Oh, and here’s a pro tip, if you have a whole bunch of stuff to display, buy a damn bookshelf!

One Room at a Time

I learned, when renovating my previous two fixer-uppers, every project will take twice as long and cost at least twice as much as I thought. Unfortunately, I kind of forgot that and I was overly optimistic when I tackled the Florida room last week.

In my defense, I was thinking the room was relatively small and uncomplicated. Ha! It could’ve been but I decided the six foot opening from the dining room into the Florida room was too awkward. It left my dining room table floating in the opening, so I decided to enclose half of it.

I have some carpentry skills but lack all the cool tools so it was a largely creative process (don’t look too closely at my lines). Thankfully, joint compound and paint can cover a multitude of sins!

I am pleased with the outcome, it is now a bright and cheery room. I have some artwork and a dart board to hang and it will be done. Well, not entirely, the six windows that make up the majority of the exterior walls are all single-pane, aluminum which I need to replace but my budget doesn’t allow it at the moment.

Next up, the guest bedroom, which will require opening up part of a wall to regain the closet. Seems simple and straightforward, right? Wish me luck!