Thursday, October 28, 2010


This sinkhole opened up on the boulevard
The city came out to look at our sinkhole yesterday, or rather the neighbor's sinkhole - thank goodness.  A section of the boulevard has been settling for years.  It's on the end next to the Cat Neighbor's yard, although we always mow that section of the boulevard as well as our own.  My beautiful, carefully tended oak tree (purchased to replace an elm that succumbed to Dutch Elm disease) separates our section of the boulevard from the neighbor's.  Every year we added additional dirt and some grass seed to that piece of ground, until this year when the hole got MUCH deeper.  After each heavy rain it settled even more, and we kept waiting for the neighbor to do something about it.

As the sinkhole got deeper, I started worrying that someone would step in it and break an ankle.  The hole was at least a foot deep, but because of the grass and falling leaves it was not very obvious, and was next to the neighbor's sidewalk.  I finally asked Ron to put a stake and flag in that spot and I would call the city.  But who?  The Department Of Sinkholes?  I found an email address on the city's website, explained the problem and got a prompt response that it would be routed to the Street Maintenance people.  A week later someone from the city came out and spayed the white circle around the hole and added another flag.  They also painted a white spot in the middle of the street and one on the neighbor's sidewalk, presumably to show the location of some sort of pipe.  We were VERY relieved that it went in the neighbor's house, and that the line ran off to the side of my oak tree.  One of the reasons I had reported the problem was my concern for the tree.

Yesterday a man from the city came out again.  Ron saw the city truck, and the neighbor's partner go out to talk with the city employee. Ron joined them (out of curiosity) and heard the unfortunate (for the neighbor) news.   Although the city had to do some kind of a smoke test to confirm the break in the sewer line, it was the neighbor's responsibility to have it repaired.  Ugh.  That would include digging up and replacing as much of the pipe as was necessary.  Even though the boulevard is city property, the water and sewer pipes are the responsibility of the householders.  Ron observed that the other person was NOT happy about this.

Apparently, the break was allowing the dirt to wash into the pipe, which was why it why the ground was settling.  It was probably getting worse because the tree roots were growing into the hole.  The neighbor has no option and has to have it repaired/replaced.  He also mentioned that rats can get into the pipe and enter the house that way.  I've always heard the stories of rats in the toilets - apparently that is a possibility.  Wow.
The city employee also said the the City Arborist would come out to check on the tree, as the boulevard trees are a valuable resource and need to be protected.  I was most relieved to hear that!

So, I will stay out of the neighbor's way in case she decides to lash out at me.  She should have reported the problem herself, but I was the one who finally did it.  Am sure this will be an expensive project.   Also a messy one, so hopefully they will get this done before winter settles in.  This happened once before, over 30 years ago, on that same sewer line and it was a real mess. 

Ah, the joys of home ownership!  I'm waiting for someone from Pella to give me an estimate on a new patio door.  Not an inexpensive project, but probably a lot less than digging and replacing a sewer pipe!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Tried two new recipes on Sunday and both were a waste of time.  I'd been saving them for several months, with great anticipation, so it was a real let down.  I'm always looking for a tasty low-fat version of Macaroni & Cheese, something nostalgic but healthier than the real thing.  It needs to be orange, creamy, cheesy and with the right "mouth feel".  Although I love Mac & Cheese, Ron has cholesterol issues (and had a quintuple by-pass years ago) so it is not something that I am comfortable serving.  He enjoys Amy's brand Macaroni & Soy Cheese, and although it smells delicious, it is NOT like the real thing.

This recipe used a creamy base of Vidalia Onion, garlic & Greek yogurt, along with low fat Cheddar, whole grain pasta, seasoning, plus Parmesan and Panko on top.  It was rather a bother to make and the resulting mess was pasty, curdled, pale and bland.  It was edible but definitely nothing like the real thing.  Amy's would definitely win a taste test over this disaster.

The Black Bean & Corn Salad also sounded tasty, and I thought the lime juice & olive oil dressing would have a much better flavor than it did.  Different seasoning might help it, but I'm not going to bother playing around with it.

The dogs will enjoy the last of the Mac & Cheese for breakfast, but the salad will hit the trash.  What a waste.  Oh well, I've got a  whole drawer full of recipes to try this winter and a few of them will get added to my list.  For those who asked, . . .

No-Crust Pumpkin Pie (with the changes that I used too).
  • 3 eggs (I'm going to use Egg Substitute next time)
  • 1 c. sugar (I used 2/3 brown, 1/3 white)
  • 1 c. milk (because we only have skim, I used fat free condensed milk which has more substance)
  • 4 T. flour
  • 1 16-oz. can pumpkin (just pumpkin, not pie mix, and the cans are actually about 14 oz.)
  • 1/2 t. salt (left it out)
  • 1 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon - I used lots more.
  • 1 t. pumpkin pie spice - again, I used more.
There were no mixing instructions, so I mixed it up as you would a regular pumpkin pie.  Used a deeper glass pie plate (would use a tiny bit of Pam next time) and baked it for an hour at 350 degrees which was perfect.  I liked it both warm and cold, for dessert as well as breakfast, with whipped cream or plain. 


Monday, October 25, 2010

What A Nice Weekend!

Julia caught this nice shot of  Jess & Penny

Jess arrived home safely from Atlanta, and Laurie along with Penny & her mother Nikon got back to Virginia where they were welcomed by Belle & the cats.   Sounds as if they had a fantastic time!  Penny will spend the winter at home growing up.  For all the winning she's done, Penny is not quite 18 months old, and still needs a bit of maturity.  Laurie will take her through a basic obedience class, for manners and for something to do over the winter.  Penny is a busy dog and needs a job!

Jess was very complimentary about the temperaments on the Dals she saw all weekend, but much less complimentary on the tails.  High tails continue to be a problem in the breed and are very distracting on an otherwise lovely dog.  However, bad temperaments are a far more serious problem.  An ugly tail only affects a dog's show career.  He can still be as a wonderful companion.  A bad temperament affects a dog's ability to function as a companion, especially if the dog's attitude problems include aggression.  Additionally, many shy dogs will bite if they feel threatened.  There is absolutely no room in the show ring for timid or aggressive dogs, and those temperaments can also be hereditary.

Mudskippers are such fun!

Lost a friend this weekend, one of my last two mudskippers.  Love my Skippers, funny little fish with leg-like fins and googly eyes.  I'd had those two for over 4 years, but knew the one was failing when he stopped eating.  His companion is eating very little now, and no longer spends his time stuck to the wall of the tank watching me work in the fishroom.  Those little skippers come from the mud flats of India and the gentleman I purchased mine from said he has not been able to get any recent shipments because of heavy rainstorms in the area.  Promised to let me know when he got more in.  Can't imagine now having Skippers in my fish room!

We took my mother out to dinner on Friday, do her favorite Mexican restaurant.  She enjoyed her combo plate and Margarita, and loves to get out.  Hopefully her November will be better than last year when he hurt her foot and eventually ended up in the hospital and a nursing home.  She's done well since returning to her apartment, so hopefully this holiday season will be healthier & happier for all of us.  When I picked her up for church on Sunday she brought me part of an apple pie she had baked the day before.  No one makes better pies than my mother, even at the age of 86!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

All The Planning Pays Off . . .

When Delta Dash would not take Penny home because the AR-influenced employee decided she was too tall for a #400 crate, Jess & Laurie came up with an alternate plan.  They decided to meet in Atlanta for the Dal Specialty and three all breed shows.  A good panel of judges, all 4 of them worth showing to.  Their goal was to try and finish Penny's Grand Championship.  It all hinged on being able to take Penny along as excess baggage, and of course there was no problem checking her in at at the ticket counter.  It was the same way before NW was taken over by Delta.  The cargo people & the VIP (now Dash) people are just a bunch of knotheads, but because that happened, Penny had the chance to add to her already excellent record.

Penny is not quite 18 months old yet, not quite mature, but sound and beautiful.  She has a particularly nice front (forechest & shoulders), excellent breed type, and a good attitude and we anticipated that those 4 judges could recognize that - they did!

Penny was Select at the Specialty, losing BOS to the Veteran Bitch who was a star during her show career, and is an excellent showdog.  She moved up to Best Of Opposite the second day, and thrilled us on Saturday and Sunday by going Best Of Breed under judges we thought would like her (but things do not always turn out quite as you expect . . .)  She defeated several of the top professionally-handled Dals in the breed each day. 

And so she finished her Grand Championship in style, in straight shows, and is probably the youngest GCh in the breed.  Jess and Laurie had a wonderful time too, so all their planning paid off!

I told Argus that the worth of a stud dog is based on the quality of his daughters.  I guess Argus has proven his worth, with GCh. Pauli & GCh. Penny, and the other lovely girls.