Saturday, December 31, 2016

Meet Cleo

About a month ago Lee Ann came across a troop of three tiny kittens at the barn where she works.  This is an occupational hazard - there are always unwanted litters being born to the semi-wild mom cats who live in the barns and fields.  Even if you don't really want another pet, if you are Lee Ann and have a tender spot for animals in peril you get one anyway.  She caught one of the kittens, then about four weeks old, and brought her home, and that kitten has become our Cleo.

We have been on a long downslope with pets.  Former supersonic dog Danny is thirteen, a two-time cancer survivor who sleeps more and more of the day.  Cat Stitches is twelve, once lean and mean but now pudgy - though still mean.  Both have lost a step or three.  Enter Cleo, who dashes around the house climbing the drapes and leaping from hiding like her tail is on fire.  It is as if we have staged the bearded oldster 2016 giving way to the bouncing baby 2017 with our animal corps, and while it will take more than the stroke of midnight for the torch to pass we are definitely positioning for the handoff.  Here's to fifteen more years of clawed upholstery.

Friday, December 30, 2016

A New Hopersimmon

It's not much to look at, I know, but on the bank of the Ohio River a few days ago I found American Persimmons on the ground and now I have their seeds.

When we lived in Georgetown we had such a tree in our backyard.  This is not a common thing, as far north as we are, and we felt we had been given a rather low-profile blessing - let's face it, most people have never seen a persimmon, let alone wanted one in their yard.  But to us this was a charming find.  Lee Ann figured out how to make persimmon pudding, which was probably on every American's list of favorite desserts in 1850 or so.  But then we moved, and the new owners (being more conventional types and therefore blind to the cool factor) cut down our little persimmon tree.  The dogs.

At our "new" place (we have been here six years) we planted a persimmon tree we got from a nursery.  It still has not borne fruit but it is probably one of those improved varieties with better yield, more sweetness and absolutely zero cool factor compared to the scarce original.  But now I have the seeds of four American Persimmons, enough for a grove, and in six or eight years I will let you know how the pudding turns out.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Concrete Progress

Our back porch had a set of wooden steps down to ground level, but they were not ideal.  They would not hold paint, and were too narrow for comfort, so I knew I would replace them someday.

Then I had a vision - the new steps would be concrete, with pedestals on either side to hold a pair of yard sale concrete lions Lee Ann he picked up some years ago.  The lions were stuck behind the carriage barn doing next to nothing, and by placing them at the back steps I could echo the look we have at the front entrance, which has rather grand lions on either side of the stoop.

Inspired by this vision and with a long holiday weekend at my disposal, I tore off the old steps, dug out some dirt, laid gravel, built forms, and mixed and poured 29 bags of concrete.  It was hard work (they don't call it Labor Day for nothing!) but the resulting steps are just what I hoped for.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

My Happy Birthday

Yesterday Annie came home for a few hours, and Lee Ann made a lasagna and a lemon meringue pie.  In addition to the good meal I got some nice gifts, and one remarkable gift.  Here is the text of a letter Annie wrote for me:

Happy Birthday Papa!

(...and Happy Valentine's Day while I am at it)

I can't wait to see what poor taste humorous birthday card Grandpa sent you; what a joker.  I'm sitting in the campus Starbucks trying to figure out what people write in letters.  It really is a lost art form, I think.  But I'm reminded of how you and mom used to make me write to my relatives, updates on a life that was nothing compared to the whirlwind I'm living now.  I remember perching over your shoulder fascinated with paying bills and balancing checkbooks.  And I remember that you had to learn to write in lower case because I was writing in all caps at school.  You had me writing essays and working around the house long before school ever became difficult.  Damned if you and mom weren't going to have an educated and hard-working kid!  I used to think you were preparing me for the inevitable ladder of high school to college to work to grave.  I became anxious that my head had been filled with dream jobs by people who didn't seem to particularly like their own jobs.  I was afraid that I was going to be miserable.  But I've started to see that you work for your family.  You work for Saturday morning brush runs, and sleepy Sunday mornings with the newspaper comic strips.  You work for Bed and Breakfast family vacations, and evenings laughing over the Scrabble board.  I've realized that you work for comfort, and family, and love.  And I hope that one day I can have a dream job like you do.

I love you.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year - Old Blog

A year ago I became discouraged with Blogger and have been away ever since, Facebooking and such to fill the void.  I have missed writing here, and I see the site has been revised, so will try again.

It was a wild and crazy year for the McAlpines of Southwest Ohio.  The 2013 high points:

  • I (Scott) traveled like crazy for work.  Our company keeps getting bigger, and there are no more of us Corporate Safety folks to cover it from Cincinnati than there were, so we spend more time on the road.  I like my job and like traveling, but when I am gone I get less done at home, so renovation projects have suffered.
  • Lee Ann finally has a winner in her eight year old gelding Johnny.  He had condition problems in his first year with her (that means he was broken a lot) but lately has been sound and is jumping very well and she is happy.
  • Annie is slugging it out at Ohio State, now in her senior year.  She is working very hard and has a difficult work/school schedule but has kept going.  We see her when her schedule allows, which is not often enough.
  • The fun highlight of our year was a family vacation to Bermuda.  Lee Ann and I flew, but Annie met brother Brian's family in Boston and cruised to the island, where we met up for a few days of carefree screwing off.  The beaches there really are pink.
That is a very short synopsis of our year, and if you are reading this it's all stuff you knew already, I'll bet.  I promise fresh news in future posts.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Half Bath Cabinet

Our half bath is wedged into a small sliver of what used to be the back porch, so there is barely enough room to turn around in there and no storage space at all.  Some previous owner had hung a tiny flakeboard, "Made in China" cabinet on the wall above the toilet where we had a few things stashed, but we always knew we would replace that down the road with something larger.

Finally this reached the top of my list and starting New Year's weekend I made and hung a new cabinet.  I built it out of old lumber (mostly shelving boards I took out of the pantry two years ago when we redid that) and with recycled doors and hardware (which came out of the old kitchen at Georgetown twelve years ago).  The hardest part of the project was stripping and refinishing the pine doors - all those louvers!  But I wanted to do a good job so I spent hours with rags, steel wool and lacquer thinner, getting spacey and removing the old finish so I could relacquer them.  Now that I see the finished product, I think painting would have been better.

Blogger is being contrary, so I will post the picture later...

Edited 1/4/14:  Now it works!  Picture attached.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

He Had A Very Rusty Nose

Christmas is never complete without a weekend in Michigan exchanging sometimes goofy presents with brother Brian.  His nickname is Moose, so we thought it would be fun to get him one of the real thing.  After locating a suitable example of the species and trussing up the poor beast in my pickup bed for the long drive north in freezing temperatures (which he handled quite well - luckily Rusty has an iron constitution), we arrived in Jackson with him.  There were some anxious moments when he was untied and made it into the woods behind Brian's house for a last few hours of moosey freedom, but eventually we corralled him.  Here he is with his new best bud, displaying his trademark steely gaze.