Friday, September 23, 2016

Haunted Humpday II (Friday Edition) Happy Birthday Stephen King and a Possessed Kitchen Tale

Wednesday was Stephen King's 69th birthday so Burt picked three sunflowers in his honor. As you might expect, Bag of Bones is Burt's favorite novel and there's a creepy reference to sunflowers in it. Unlike the flowers in the story, Burt's are obviously not the size of searchlights and just in case anyone happens to be wondering, these didn't grow up through the floorboards of our porch either.

A sunflower did grow up and bloom in a rain gutter at my parents house once. 
That was scary in so many, many ways.

I had to admire it's tenacity! 

Ivy is also a big fan of Stephen King and thought the flowers were a terrific way to commemorate the horror master. It is her favorite book but she only indulges in frightening literature during the  daylight hours of the summer, preferably at the beach with lots of people around.

I have a sort of, eerie tale to tell about my own house, specifically our possessed kitchen.

Many years ago just after we moved to town, we found this cute little home for sale.

The kitchen was terrible, the appliances were vintage 70's

 and the cupboards and sink had been there since it was built in 1929, but

since it needed to be completely redone we could do whatever we wanted.

It also needed some paint and a few repairs but the price was right so we bought it.

As it turned out, there were lots of things that needed immediate attention,

way more than we had first imagined so it took a few years

before we finally got around to remodeling the kitchen.

The temperature had soared to the mid 90's that day in early May

when the designer came to measure our kitchen for it's big makeover,

and we were very surprised to discover that our furnace had turned itself on

and was blasting away yet more heat into an already stifling situation.

No matter how hard we tried we couldn't get it turned off.

Eventually a repairman got it under control by shutting off the gas to the whole house.

So the kitchen went on hold while the furnace and air conditioner were replaced.

 A year went by and on the day we were going to approve the plans and choose new cabinets,

two tiles fell off the upstairs bathroom wall just above the bathtub faucet

and water started streaming out.

 Again the kitchen plans were shelved while we attended to the bathroom.

I came home from work one day during the renovation to find two bathtubs in the dining room,

a 4'x6' hole in the kitchen wall, half of the pantry ceiling gone

and plaster dust covering every surface on both floors.

I had just missed the two bats that flew out of the bathroom wall

when they opened it up to work on the plumbing.

A couple months after the bathroom was finished we were more determined than ever

to get back to work on the kitchen since it was now in even worse shape than before. 

We made an appointment with the designer but had to cancel

because we had been awakened at 4:30 am when the smoke detectors went off 

because our house was on fire.

Luckily, it was confined to our sunroom and we all got out alive, including our pets,

but smoke goes everywhere and gets into everything, makes a really horrible mess

that smells awful and takes nearly a year to fix. 

When our house inexplicably caught on fire everyone blamed us,

especially our insurance adjuster, who kept asking us why the fire started in our sunroom.

He finally gave up accusing us of setting it deliberately 

(in the middle of the night when we were all asleep in the house)

when I flatly stated that if we were going to set a room on fire it would be the kitchen.

He took a good look at the kitchen and was very helpful from then on.

It seemed like every time we started to work on the kitchen

something else would come up that was more urgent.

That's when I got the notion that maybe the kitchen didn't want to be remodeled,

maybe it didn't want to be expanded and shiny and improved. Was it cursed?

Or maybe, it was possessed.

So I gave up on installing shiny new gleaming white cabinets and came up with a plan

to keep most of the original ones and have new ones made to match the old. 

I didn't want to make it angry, maybe it just wanted to be accepted for itself.

We decided to just refinish the original floor (an impractical decision),

junk the ancient appliances and spend a small fortune on a new sink that looked old.

I wondered if we should get a priest in to perform an exorcism

but settled on buying a new broom and sweeping the floor. 

Did that break the curse? Drive out the evil? 

Nope. The first day work started on the kitchen a pipe broke

which led to the discovery that all of our plumbing needed to be replaced

and eventually the electrical wiring, too. The whole process was plagued with problems, 

it took nearly six months (over the winter) and cost three times the original estimate.

So when anyone asks me if my house is haunted I say no but

my kitchen is definitely possessed.

As a postscript to my possessed kitchen tale I should say that we had a few peaceful years

with our kitchen until a month ago when the dishwasher had to be replaced. Then

at the start of the Labor Day holiday the hot water heater sprung a leak, here we go again!

A belated Happy Haunted Humpday to everyone and thanks for stopping by! 

So what's your favorite Stephen King novel?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Peach Pie and Habaneros?

Last year I missed out on participating in Haunted Humpdays at Incipient Wings, so his year I was determined to join in the fun! Late last night I was overjoyed to discover that the party was indeed happening again but I didn't have the vaguest idea about a topic for a post I could do on such short notice.  My halloween decorations are still packed up in the closet and there don't seem to be any pumpkins anywhere for sale! Eeek! There was nowhere to turn, I had to ask Burt for help.

 So he went out into the garden in search of anything Halloweenish and found orange habaneros.

Yup, guaranteed to make you scream in pain just by carelessly handling them.
Ok, so maybe vegetables are not the most fear inducing things to anyone over twelve.  

So then he asked His Madness if he could think of anything scary (besides his t-shirt) and he said, "how about sticking your hand in boiling water and then pulling the peel off some peaches?"

Of course Burt said, "I'm in!"

He appeared to especially enjoy removing the slimy skin! Yuck.

In no time at all there was a not very frightening but definitely peachy colored pie. . .

. . . carefully decorated with all sorts of pastry cats and stars. Guaranteed not to make anyone run away screaming in terror, although I can't say I'm looking forward to doing the laundry.

As for those habaneros, they're destined to be sacrificed on the chopping block!

Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to checkout
Haunted Humpday at Incipient Wings!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer Flowers & Friends

Since it's August and it seems liked we've been stuck inside in the air conditioning forever,
it was about time to brave the heat and see what has been going on in the backyard. 

Around here, late summer usually brings hot days of relentless sunshine, but not this year! Cloudy days with rain aren't a bad thing though, thanks to Mother Nature there's no need for extra watering.

All the extra heat and rain has brought about some interesting developments
including this little patch of volunteer violas blooming in the driveway cement.

Then there's some other voluntary visitors who are equally colorful,
although this Yellow Swallowtail butterfly would dwarf those violas.

So it was time to smell the roses,

listen to Elwood's watery tune,

and the bees buzz,

while counting ourselves lucky that there was one lace cap hydrangea bloom!

We welcomed the visits from the bugs that are amazing and helpful and

try to overlook the ones that are not, because 

you just never know what you'll find in a garden until you take a good look. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Tea Party Madness with The Wonderland Band

What's happening in the garden? Pink flamingoes and a Hatter? 
I hear sounds most outrageous! What could possibly be the matter?


The most wonderful Mad Tea Party is finally at hand, 
and we are to be serenaded by a real live band!

Burt's joining in too, his musical skills are quite honed.
Which is only to be expected since he plays the trombone.
(What other instrument would a skeleton own?)

Kristin's playing the trumpet while Andy strums his guitar,
and with the Hatter on base, as a band, they'll go far.


What, no treats at the table? This is certainly a mistake.
Maybe playing a little louder is all it will take,
to produce a few sandwiches, some tea and a cake?

Then like magic it appeared, treats and three kinds of tea,
and the music making was taken over by the mosquitoes and the bees. 

The Dormouse showed up because he really likes cheese.
 Swiss, Cheddar or Gouda, he's easily pleased.

Some strawberry shortcake for a finishing treat?
Looks like cutting a slice could be quite a feat. 


Having finished their tea, it was time to be away,
Burt decided to take charge of leading the parade.  

The merry musicians are off, more places to explore.
Who knows what adventures they may have in store.

Maybe they will come back but for now it's time to hit the road.
  So here's one last hurrah because this story has been told!

Happy Mad Tea Party!

Thanks to Vanessa at A Fanciful Twist for creating and hosting this wonderful party!
Click on the link to check out all the other Mad Tea Parties.

My apologies for the lack of music. Due to technical difficulties I couldn't get it working in time for the party and then I was too dumb to realize I could just add it any time with a YouTube video! Duh!
I'm blaming the heat and humidity. Thanks for stopping in.

Monday, July 4, 2016

It's the 4th of July!

 Since we're celebrating Independence Day today it's probably safe to say that summer has finally arrived. It's been a long time coming this year, it's mostly been weeks of cold, gloomy rain occasionally punctuated by a sunny day where temperatures topped out in the mid 90ยบ. The weather's certainly been unusual lately but no matter how crazy it becomes, Burt is always ready to party.

Since it's been so rainy we haven't spent much time outdoors but now that we can REALLY be sure it's not going to rain or snow today, it's time to get out and enjoy it while it lasts. Maybe Burt won't set himself on fire while shooting off his fireworks tonight! 

It would be a shame to let the first picnic of the summer go by without some photos to reminisce about on some cold winter evening in the not too distant future. Ok, I promise to stop mentioning winter after remarking that the bench Ivy is sitting on was still buried in snow at the end of April.

You may have noticed that Burt has been absent lately from his usual duties as the Official Calamitous Botanicus Blog Clown. He has suffered a few injuries due to clumsiness on my part and consequentially he has been left without any real backbone. This doesn't mean he's incapable of putting forth his personal opinions but rather that he occasionally requires the  assistance of His Madness to stand upright. Obviously he's ok with occasionally being goosed.

Oops! Apparently he's not the only thing that has a hard time keeping upright.
This is just one of the many reasons Burt is not allowed near the grill.

Luckily most of the contents are plastic, something Burt can relate to.
Wonder what became of the pie?

Finally, with order restored, back to the business at hand . . .


Thanks for stopping by and I hope everyone is having a great 4th of July!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Spring Wild Flowers

In the middle of May, when I was in grade school, my cousin and I would get off the bus and go into the woods to pick little bouquets of wild flowers to give to our Gram for her birthday. She was one of the sweetest people I've ever known and a perfect grandma. Of course I had another grandmother also, and the stark contrast between the two of them helped me to appreciate her all that much more! 

Every spring when the wild flowers bloom I feel like she's still here. Gram was quite a gardener and something of an environmentalist, she preferred organic fertilizers to chemical ones and refused to spray pesticides on her fruit trees. My dad thought she was hopelessly out of step with modern times.

Both my grandmothers lived on farms their entire lives and loved spending time in the woods. Even my very strict, no-nonsense grandmother was always ready to pack a lunch and take a few of her grandchildren for a picnic under the birch trees. We always had a good time as long as we were on our best behavior and there was no fooling around that ended up with someone falling in the creek.   

Naturally, since it was forbidden to go near the water we couldn't have been more attracted to it. Those picnics never lasted too long, I'm thinking that was maybe her plan to begin with, ha!

Trilliums were the one woodland flower we always left out of Gram's birthday bouquets because picking any parts off the plant can kill it even if the rest of it is left intact! It's amazing that they manage to survive at all considering how many humans and deer there are tromping around the forest. Thanks to a mild winter followed by a wet spring we're seeing lots of them this year. 


The most common color is white but they also come in a bi-colored pink and white, red and purple but they're relatively rare, some are endangered and protected. I recently read that the seeds are spread away from the parent plants by ants. Finally, a good reason to tolerate those little picnic pests!

The wildflower season passes in the blink of an eye in this part of the country. Since woodlands and lakes are also prime mosquito habitat getting to see them can be itchy. This year due to the unusually cold spring we've been experiencing the little buggers aren't hatching, though it won't last long.

These days I don't pick wildflowers but I can still hear Gram telling me to be careful when collecting blossoms for her bouquets not to accidentally pull up the roots! Maybe that's why I can't bring myself to pull out all the wood violets that are taking over my lawn. Wonder what she would say about that?

At least they're less annoying than dandelions.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you are having a great weekend!