idyllic summer

Summer this year has been an endless string of beautiful days with bright sunshine and cool nights — for sleeping well. Although I’ve had to water the gardens occasionally, rainfall has been pretty timely. I try to walk down to the lake every morning with my coffee. Seems a better idea than diving into the closet that is now my office and facing a computer screen for the first few hours of every day. ­čśŤ

I’ll be sure to open this post next February when clingy old winter is holding onto my mood.

meanwhile. . . transparent sea

While I couldn’t be much help on the deck steps (it involved math. OMG), I went down to the boat and removed all the sides.┬á
I really don’t know why I didn’t do this 33 years ago when we first bought the Chartreuse┬áMonster. Back then there weren’t any elegant boats on Trego Lake so I probably thought it was normal. Chartreuse is not and never has been normal. I have painted it numerous times over the years and one year actually removed all the sides and rails. But this time I drilled out every one of those Lit-tle Tiny Rivets and popped off all the sides leaving only the rails. I actually think this is legal to use, as I see people now and then driving around with what looks like a Huck Finn raft with pontoons and a motor.

Mine has rails. Safe. Transparent. Invisible?

So here are the sides wearing their coats of many colors relaxing in the shade of a tree. They needed a rest after 46 years of living on a boat. I threw a little paint stripper on one of them to see how it would go.

Yikes. There are many layers of paint. All but the snot-colored stuff comes off easily. Under all that is a textured aluminum surface that may be a pita to strip. I’m thinking pressure washer, so once I get down to the chartreuse layer, I may try that. THIS was the color of our boat for many years. With a linoleum-pebbled-type floor that sucked. It hurt feet and was amazingly ugly. I had the boat re-decked and carpeted some years back.┬á Like 23, I just calculated. Yikes. Again.

(Always begin and end a paragraph with the word Yikes. It really engages the reader.)

I do have to relate the Trim and Tilt Saga. The hydraulic trim and tilt didn’t work this spring. Always something, of course. So, I connected a couple of stray wires. Worked! Then blew a fuse. Replaced that, thanks to Phil & his buddy Mike (Mike ran home on a Sunday to retrieve a new fuse from his stash. I owe Mike. And Phil.) So then the T&T worked, but the motor was stuck with the prop out of the water. ?? Everything we did would not make that motor drop. Hours of YouTubes, asking questions on forums, trips to see Tom Cleveland at Lakes and Trails in Spooner. Nothing solved the Mystery of the Stuck-up Motor.

I complained. Hmm. Don’t like that word, but there’s nothing for it. I’m a veteran whiner when Bruce was here to spec the deck-steps job and he┬ásaid he’d take a look. Bruce and I removed a bar at the bottom of the hydraulic assembly and Released the Motor from Stuck Up Captivity! Now the t&t hydraulics are under the water. Probably not ideal, you think? But the prop is IN THE WATER and the motor runs like a top. So, the boat would actually travel around the lake, but might lose its t&t assembly (over $1,000 for a new one online) in the process.

So, when I have a couple of strong young offspring here, (Kent, Brenda and Ansel are coming this next weekend) I might have them lift the motor. We can replace the strange rod that was preventing the motor from lowering and m-a-y-b-e the t&t will cooperate? Doubt prevails. But who ever fixed anything when doubt was involved? Sheesh.


steps in the right direction

The direction of the lake, that is. For years I’ve wanted steps off the deck that would take one directly to the lake. There were two reasons for this. Get to the lake faster, of course. (My mom said I was in a hurry to be born and have not slowed down since.) Second reason: ditch the damn rail that looks like this:

Yes, a fence. Between me and the lake. Geoff told me once that if I had a slide to the outside, it wouldn’t be fast enough to get me there. That was when we lived in Eau Claire and I wanted a door (and a deck beyond it) from the dining/kitchen to the backyard rather than walk through not one, not two, but three doors, food in hand, spilling one’s drink to even reach the back steps. We were pounding in the last nails of that deck (finally!) when Geoff got the news that we were moving to Spooner. ­čÖü But really :). It’s all good.

So, the fence illustrated above is still there. But a much less complicated solution began to evolve when I ran into a guy I’d known in the past — he was performing at the local pub, which is called Hub’s Riverbend, but really should be Hub’s Pub, but I wasn’t there for the baptism of that establishment. Pity. I somehow remembered (even after a beer or two) that Bruce had once done construction in addition to performing music. I reintroduced myself and asked if he still did carpentry. And that was how the steps were born.

Not only did he use some of the materials I had on hand — that landing is two sections of dock that have been languishing at Libby’s for an eternity — but he let me help! I wasn’t much help, but I do have a cordless drill and for most of the┬ástair treads I hit the stringer. Most.

It was beastly hot the first day and we did everything in our power to get out of that infernal sun (93 degrees), but alas, we were both pretty sweaty. The second day wasn’t much better.

Q inspects the job after the day’s work is done. She was smart enough to spend our work hours under the bed on the cool concrete. She’s cool that way.

See that umbrella? It wasn’t much help, but at least we weren’t scorching. I was kind of a baby and kept marching over to the shade of the nearby tree when I got too hot. Especially when we were digging. Bruce is smart. He designed the steps and landing for minimal digging.

See that deck edge? That now leads to steps rather than a four-foot fall onto the grass below. See that pile of lumber scraps? I’ll look after that tomorrow. Among a thousand other things.

Here’s the new unencumbered view. Just imagine it sans sawhorses. I’m delighted. No slide, but steps are a good alternative.


Every year I watch those little rascals as they flower, then produce tiny green berries. I seldom see them turn blue as by that time some critter other than me has eaten them. But this year I spotted something blue in the undergrowth of the woods so grabbed a bucket and off I went.

OK. So they’re not the big juice kind you get in the store. But they are uneaten by birds and bears. If I pick 1,472 buckets full, I might make a pie.

fishing for memories

This is Ellie. This is the second year in a row that the Friends Into Spooner Hatchery (FISH) has partnered up with a couple of other groups to take dementia patients and their caregivers fishing. I participated again this year. First, we fish for awhile on the dock right in Spooner and each of us partners up with a person to help them fish. Well, Ellie was an experienced angler. I offered to put the worm on the hook thinking this fragile little pink lady would eschew the task. But she dived right in. I had to hold the hook for her, as her hand was a bit shaky, but we got the job done.
Then she caught a nice-sized bluegill (that picture is on someone else’s camera) and off we went again. After that, it was just a little tiny panfish chomping away on the worm, but we had a laugh over watching him chase it around and nibble off pieces.
While we were fishing, she told me she lived on Tozier Lake and that her husband had died 14 years ago. “Ohhh,” I sympathized. “How did he die?” “Bear got him.” was her immediate reply. Then she went on to detail how they were watching Dragnet and their little dog was barking, so they went outside to confront a bear attacking the dog. I’m speechless. “There was blood all over,” she said. More details. More of my sympathetic “Aww’s”
Awhile passed. We fished. Hmm, methought. Death by Bear would be big news. I don’t remember ever hearing about an actual death, although there have been many dog/bear and human/bear encounters over the years..
After fishing, we went back to shore where two DNR game wardens and the Hatchery guys were frying up fish and French fries — a delicious outdoor meal. When we’d finished eating, I took an opportunity to sidle up to the wardens and ask innocently if they knew of a bear attack in Washburn County that resulted in death of a person. Blank stare.
Tall Tale Ellie the little pink fisherwoman. HAHAHAHA

sink and swim

Well, yesterday was definitely Sink Day. I got up in the morning and decided to tackle the disgusting underbelly of the kitchen sink. For some reason, the drain pipe loosens and leaks water all over the “floor” (really glorified cardboard) of the cabinet. I try to remember to tighten it and keep a bucket under the p-trap to catch water, but it’s not always successful. I mean, who wants to check out the drain under the sink at regular intervals? I have enough trouble getting the stupid dishes done.

Anyway, it came out easily since it was really just soggy cardboard with Contact paper over it to simulate wood (?!) so once I pulled out all the cleaning stuff, the rest was easy. A 1″ drill bit to bite through the surface followed by the scroll saw, followed by a mallet and finally a hammer. I thought I would leave the back side, which was drywall, but discovered that it was pretty rotten with moisture. Were we really meant to have indoor plumbing? I think not. Our houses should be made completely of concrete that we can hose down to clean and never destroyed by water.

Yes, it’s icky. Plumbers use that word to officially describe the underworld of sinks.

So, I began ripping it out, carefully preserving the middle support and the back piece because I planned to cut a piece (probably two, due to the middle support that would not allow a full piece) of treated plywood, which happens to be languishing the dry space under the shower house and would need something to support it. As I went along, thinking I would use 2×6’s for joists like I did for the bathroom floor I imagined kind of needing the support brace in the middle. Alas, everything was rotted — well, melted — and the further I got, the more I ripped. I opened up the base cabinets on either side and didn’t find any actual moisture, but you can bet your boots there’s more to this than meets the eye. Or nose, as it’s smelling very musty. We must not have must. It’s a must.

Meanwhile, the Ikea delivery guy called and said he was delivering the new Ikea sink and some other stuff (copious amounts of GREEN silverware. Oh how Irish I’ll be). So I did dual sinks. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

By the time I reached the edges of the kitchen sink base cabinet walls, I was using a mallet, then a hammer to simply crush the soggy shit out of there. Drywall in the outside wall was a mess, too, so I cut that out along with the vapor barrier. Fortunately, only a teensy piece of insulation was moldy. Easily replaced. Stuck a fan in front of it along with the dehumidifier to pull the sog out of the space. Left that running while I unpackaged the Ikea Lillangen sink for the bathroom.


I still maintain that this was an awesome idea. I think there’s a post about this project, but I’ll review. I made the counter out of a piece of treated 2×12, cut, primed, painted with marine paint, sanded, sanded, sanded (I hate sanding) put together the two pieces which now display a large crack and generally treated the whole thing with tlc. Then drilled a hole for the sink drain and the faucet and mounted it on two large shelf brackets. The sink bowl was actually a second-hand ceiling light — they often have holes drilled in them for mounting. That hole is exactly the size of a drain. I kid you not. The first one I used seemed very large for the space, plus it was kind of golden — a color I don’t like — but it worked really well. I replaced it with this smaller white one, but soon the plumber’s putty became discolored and the drain began to leak underneath the bowl — between the bowl and the counter. It worked for three years, but the mess was visible under the bowl. ­čÖü So I ordered a new sink from Ikea.

Ick. There’s water (and the creepy stuff that goes with it) between the bowl and the counter. The crack in the counter is way beyond adding character. ­čÖü

I’m getting better at putting together Ikea stuff. You have to look VERY CAREFULLY at the pictures, because they have teensy details that may escape notice. Besides, I would put things together in a different order than the people who draw all those pics.

Each project comes with its own set of problems. The drain assembly, which is customized to attach to the visible drain in the top of the sink, looked like it would never fit the existing drain. See that mallet? No, I didn’t pound it into shape. There are a thousand details in how I eventually got it to work, the delightful part of which is that I never needed a trip to town. I was able to use parts of the old drain assembly as well as stuff from my magical Plumbing Tote in the shed. I managed to replace the┬áshut-off valve (maybe two), extend the supply line, maneuver the drain, and switch the faucet to the left side. I love plumbing. ­čÖé

The faucet was a bear. True to form, there wasn’t enough room under the ceramic sink to tighten the nut on the bottom of the faucet to keep it from going the route of wherever the supply lines felt like it should go. . . which resulted in it facing the floor. Water would not even THINK of going into the sink, it would splatter on the floor. After a long time of trying to fit under this tiny sink and tighten that )&(*)(*&)( bolt, I removed all the fittings and put it on the floor. Fortunately, my dementia has not advanced to where I’ve forgotten everything, and I remembered that plumbers have a tool for just such a tight place. I knew I had one (why? search me) so found it in the box labeled Things That Grip and tried it out. Still too tight to turn. However, tenacity wins and I finally was able to get it in there Just Right to give it teensy little turns (hoping not to crack the ceramic sink) until it was tight.

Reassembled everything (good thing plumbing is a forgiving soul) and Voila!

It’s very little.

But all one needs for brushing teeth. There are two little hooks on the side for towels and other necessities.

Now to wrap up the Kitchen Sink Story. Left the fan running, doors open, etc. all night. In the morning, I looked at the whole weird mess and decided to leave the concrete underneath exposed, the drywall unfinished, and put everything back inside the cabinet on the floor. The house’s floor, not the cabinet floor, since it’s gone. This will allow it to dry thoroughly over the summer while still storing my cleaning stuff. Not sure we really need floors in our kitchen sink base cabinets. I sprayed it with Mold Eliminator, which has never worked a jot for anything else, plus vinegar which was efficient at killing the mold on my clothes this spring — they’d been stored in a leaky tote and I used vinegar to launder them.

Anyway, the kitchen sink looks weird underneath, but who cares? The doors are closed.

wind in the willows

So, back in mid-May, I ordered some hybrid willows from Farmer Seed Company in Faribault, Minnesota. They were six for $23.74, so thought I’d give them a try. They took a long time to come — Farmer was probably out in the field hoeing the strawberries. Anyway, they came yesterday and I planted them today. They’re supposed to grow up to 20 feet in a season, but we’ll see what our poor soil brings. There’s one very close to the water on the west side. The purpose is to block neighbors. If these live, I’ll get more.

HAHAHA. It’s just a stick, but hopefully it’ll like having its feet in the water and will grow big and leafy to block out the neighbor’s view of our dock and firepit.

Here’s his brother.

I also put a couple up by the deck to block view of all the fun things I do on the deck. Like type drivel on my blog.

I also ordered some Irish Moss from Farmer. I put one on the steps in the lake garden and two in the succulent garden as a ground cover. We’ll see how they do in covering that ground. There’s conflicting information online about whether they like sun or shade, but Stepables says they like cool sun in northern climes.

For some reason, I forgot that I already had creeping thyme on the hillside in the lake garden, so I ordered more. Sometime I’d like to remove the old deck-like doorstep/porch on the east side and replace it with a stone or paver entrance with groundcover growing between the stones. Not sure how much traffic they’ll take. Pavers are heavy and expensive, but I’ve been looking at hypertufa which is made from concrete and other stuff. You can make whatever shapes you want and apparently it lasts forever. I’ll see what it takes.

This would look nice as a stone patio. We’ll see.

So I have this metal coat rack that I don’t really need inside in the summer so I planted three thunbergia under it and helped their climbing efforts with string. (Well, it’s really Sugar and Spice cotton yarn, but I guess I’ll have one less dishcloth.) There are two African Sunsets and a regular yellow.


west side story

I’ve never done much with this yard.

So yesterday I cleaned it up. Early in the morning I had been walking through the woods looking for ferns to plant here. Didn’t find any ferns, but found this weird plant growing in rotting logs. So, I transplanted some. It has a strange growing habit. When I tugged on it there were long trailers that had rooted. Then when it finds a good home (rotting wood) it stands up. I think it’s pretty.

I also transplanted a couple of ferns that had been growing in the yard and they seem to be ok, although looking a bit sad. Raining again today, so they’re happy. Then I got the flat concrete blocks back from the lake garden where I’d moved them a couple of years ago and replaced them, moss and all, as a small walkway and steps.


ladder love

For some reason, I have three wooden stepladders. They proliferate while I’m not looking. So, being that my motto is “Use what’s handy instead of buying stuff”, I used one of them as a trellis. The rope has been languishing in the shed for years, so I wrapped it around so the little acorn squash and cucumbers could use it to climb.

The cucumber is a bush variety and since I haven’t grown cukes in years, I’m not sure of its growing habit. But as with all gardening, we’ll see what happens.