Saturday, June 30, 2007


Lonnie from Discount Rooter reams out the line.
Well, lookie here. Roots!
Then the scope goes in.
Looking good, looking good ...
... Looking not so good. Something is blocking the camera. Can't see what because there is water in the line.

Lonnie takes his camera locator out back. Guess what? The sewer line does not run straight back as I thought, but angles across the backyard. Under the garage. When my garage was built, they pulled permits and it passed inspection. But apparently they never pulled a sewer use permit, which requires that old clay lines that will be under the structure be replaced with PVC. It appears there is a crack in the pipe under one of the garage footers.

But wait! There's more. He roots out the line again to see if he can get a better look. He gets it past that point. Then the cable gets stuck. There's a tense few moments as he works it back and forth. He may have to cut the $400 cable and leave it there until they can dig it out at the other end. But then he works it free. Whew!

Scope again, and discover the really bad news. The line is broken right where it meets the city main. There's a good 2-inch ledge, and roots coming in. To fix it, they will have to get multiple permits, to shut down the alley, to dig, to get the join inspected.

Buh-bye, $5,000.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Storage conundrum

This is my window seat. Comfy!
Underneath, there are drawers, and the previous owners told me there were bins behind them. I didn't get around to checking out the bins until today. You have to take everything off the seat to get to them.

What could I possibly store in here? I was thinking maybe Christmas decorations, or something else I don't need to get to very often. I can't think what.

Grilled vegetables on greens

Veggies? Check.
Grill? Check.
Dinner? Done.


An alternative use for your putter.

Watermelon with lime and mint

Tomorrow is a friend's annual July Fourth bash, a blow-out event with more than 100 people on the "yes, I will attend!" list. I'm taking my oh-so-fabulous-yet-simple watermelon salad. It will not feed 100, but should make a dozen or more happy.

First you need a large watermelon, and a melon baller. Did I lose you right there? No, you don't need a melon baller unless you're really ambitious, or have a passel of kids willing to help out (in which case, I suggest two large watermelons, since there will invariably be some sampling).

I've found it's easiest to just put a flexible cutting board in the bottom of the sink, slice the melon in rounds, cut the meat out of the slice in one piece and then zip zip zip with the knife left to right and top to bottom for bite-sized pieces. Doing it in the sink means clean-up is simple and you don't get watermelon juice all over the counter. The melon also tends to squirt when you're slicing it. Sticky!

You also need the juice of some limes, four or five.

And some fresh mint. A big bunch of it. If you do not have mint in your garden (and you should, if you have a garden), go plant some. While you're waiting for it to get big enough to start beating up on all the neighboring plants and taking their lunch money (about three days), ask your friends, neighbors or co-workers for some. Their gardens will thank you.
The watermelon rinds will look all artistic in your sink, even if the light is bad because it's the middle of the night.
The squeezed limes are also attractive in an undersea-creature or popular-cleaning-product-mascot kind of way.
You can chop the mint by hand (my former method), or use a food processor if you're really lucky and have moved to a house where there's not only a dishwasher but enough counter space to keep your heavy food processor handy instead of stored in the basement and never used because it's such a pain in the ass to haul it out.
Add the lime juice and mint to the watermelon and let it all steep in the fridge for a day or two, stirring occasionally. Resist the temptation to eat it all yourself once you've tasted it. The combination of flavors ends up being subtle and surprising. And suprisingly delicious!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kitchen impersonator

Name that cleaning product!

(Click the image to see if you got it right.)

More bees!

A block away from home, Sophie and I rounded the corner and saw some people standing around a downed tree that was in the process of being removed. The homeowners were lucky – the tree came down in a wind storm the other night and fell between the garage and house. They only lost a gutter.

The tree-removal guys got a surprise, though: Bees had set up house in the trunk (not sure how high up). Since it's illegal to destroy a hive, they cut that chunk and lowered it to the ground, tying it up so it wouldn't fall over, and a beekeeper is on the way to collect them.

I recently read and posted on "Following the Bloom," which made this encounter that much more interesting.


I'm walking back home to get my camera so I can take some better pictures. (This was taken with cellphone.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Still rooting for me?

The report came back from the inspection, and my realtor says it's most excellent; they only want me to fix one thing. Can you guess? Yes, there's a blockage in the main sewer line.

It could be as simple as getting the thing roto-rooted (couple hundred bucks?) or as complicated as getting part of the sewer line replaced (several thousand?). Gah.

Still, it's doable, and it's only one thing, and once it's done, the house is sold, sold, sold!

We got the memo

But it appears everyone else in the office missed the directive that it was Pink Top, Brown Bottom Day. A neighboring workspace, however, apparently got a different memo – everyone was wearing black. Boring!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sunset strip

Another attempt to capture the evening sky on my cellphone.

Pincushion flower

I am fond of scabiosa:

Why is it called pincushion flower? Here's why:

Second bed syndrome

In knitting, there's a phenomenon known as "second sock syndrome" – once you've finished one sock, it's hard to get going on the second. Not only have I had a second sock sitting unfinished on my needles for the better part of a year, I have also had a second raised bed half-finished in the old backyard. Since I wanted to take most of the pallet of stone that was left, I thought I should at least make a stab at finishing the bed and leave a pile of extra stones for the new owners. Happily, it was cool this morning. I did a crappy job, but it does look better, at least:

A few more flower close-ups:

Monday, June 25, 2007

Close inspection

The inspection of my old house is tomorrow. They're planning to scope the sewer lines, which is worrisome (I never had it done, so dog knows what they'll find). Maybe they'll take the time to appreciate the Mexican Hat, too:

And the Black-Eyed Susans:

Or even the volunteer somethings that have taken over the raised beds, saving me the trouble of putting in annuals to make it look nice:

Dome light

I had a blurry photo here before, taken with my cellphone, but it just looked bad, so I've replaced it with a better one, taken yesterday under similar conditions but with a steadier hand and real camera.

As a bonus, cool clouds:


My favorite coffee shop is just a few blocks away; a good destination for an early morning when I'm out of milk for coffee at home. And the dog appreciates the walk before the day warms up.

Another bonus: You run into people you know, and when you mention that you're thinking of putting a swamp cooler in the attic, the plumbing contractor at the next table says, "No, no, you don't want to do that. Here are some numbers of good HVAC people you can talk to. Tell them Bob sent you."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sometimes all you need is a little perspective

To market, to market

Again with the 90 degrees! Even at 9 a.m. it was too hot to linger long at the farmers market. Though Sophie was willing to stop and smell the meat:

I managed to get a photo this time of my chicken quesadilla in progress. I'll take it to work for dinner.

Another booth I wouldn't want to be staffing today: Wood-fired pizza. Who knew you could put wheels on those things?

I also picked up some golden beets, a loaf of asiago basil bread and a head of garlic.

Dreaming of . . .

Bones? Squirrels? Garbage cans?