Terrible Book Reviews

November 11, 2014 by Kara

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I haven’t been updating ye olde bloge.  Partially, because I’ve been busy with other things, but mostly because I just don’t feel like it, which I think is a pretty good reason.  I was (am) contemplating taking the whole thing down, but figuring out how to do that without losing it all (and all of the tracking of progress at my little house) feels like too much work, so we’ll see what happens.

I kept meaning to write updates about this-0r-that (I competed in another horse show… against grown-ups! I changed out a super-old light switch! There was another ridiculous car accident right in front of my house!), but no dice.

Mostly, I like having a record of my little life, so while I figure out what to do, here are some books I’ve read lately.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

If you loved this book (or movie) please avert your eyes for the rest of this paragraph.  I read it, because everyone in the entire world said OMGITISSOOGOOD! but basically, I was not that into it.  I mean, it is a book about teenagers with cancer.  WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?!!?  I was actually angry when I finished it.  It isn’t the worst, though, so don’t let me stop you from reading it.

 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Much like The Fault in Our Stars, er’ryboddy’s reading Bernadette.  I liked it medium.  Bernadette is the mom who goes missing, and the book is told through emails, letters, tiny chapters by the eighth grade daughter, etc.  I loved the first half of the book.  The beginning is all about the interactions between the parents at the kid’s private school and I found them hilarious (lots of talk about the “Subaru Parents” vs the “Mercedes Parents” and all of their petty dramas).  The last part of the book is the search for Bernadette, and it just kinda faltered for me.  I still found it enjoyable, and I loved the beginning, so if you, too, want to be on trend with your reading, grab this book.

 

City Girl, Country Vet by Cathy Woodman

99.9% of the books I read I find at the thrift store, and let me tell you this cover basically had my name written all over it.  Rain boots, yo.  Rain boots.  As you might guess from the title, a vet from London heads out to the country to help her bestie with her rural vet practice while the bestie goes on vacation.  She basically runs the place into the ground but by the end of the book has a triumphant return.  Oh, and watch out for the super-mean neighboring old-man vet and his vet-son!  At one point in the first chapter the main girl has lost her friend’s dog and is slogging through a creek and almost gets run over by a terrible man on a horse who berates her.  Guess who he turns out to be and guess what happens between the two of them!?!?!?  Exactly.  It isn’t going to change your life or anything, but this was an enjoyable, fluffy read.  (Ha!  Fluffy like the animals!)

 

Open House, by Elizabeth Berg

You know, I remember enjoying this book when I read it, but I can’t remember all that much what it is about.  The main character gets divorced, and starts renting out rooms in her house, and figuring out what to do with herself. It was a New York Times Bestseller and in Oprah’s Book Club, and honestly, I can’t tell you why.  It was good enough, though.

Dune Road by Jane Green

Another divorced-lady book:  this one moves into a smaller house, and starts working for a local famous-recluse author.  She has friends with problems (and one with A SECRET PAST), her ex-husband rolls back around, the has an old-lady neighbor who becomes a big part of her life, and I’m pretty sure they all live happily ever after, but the details are foggy because most of these kinds of books are exactly the same.

 

Three Sisters by Susan Mallery

This book isn’t as trashy as that cover would lead you to believe.  The “Three Sisters” refers to three Victorian houses in a little town, and the women who own them, and whose lives tun out to be total messes.  But don’t worry, they all become great friends in the end!  (Really, that is basically the plot of the whole thing.)  It was a little over done in most places to REALLY EMPHASIZE the brokenness of the character ladies, but other than that I enjoyed it for the fluff reading that it is.

 

Horseplay, a Novel by Judy Renee Singer

Dude, do NOT read this book.  I’m even embarrassed to say that I did, but I found it at the thrift store and it had riding boots on the cover, and what can you do?  I will tell you that you can by it for one cent on Amazon right now, and one cent is too much money to pay for this garbage.  Oh, and yes, of course I read the whole thing.  It is basically about this lady who is a beginner adult rider, and up and moves to this fancy-Olympic-athlete Dressage training barn, where she is taken on as a student even though she has no idea what she is doing, and no horse experience.  The author is the worst writer probably in the world– half of the characters have “accents” that she writes out all phonetically in the worst way, there is one character that is really, really stupid, and it took me until almost the end of the book to realize “Oh, that is supposed to be FUNNY…” and there is some side-plot that makes no sense about some secret cult-like group, but overall the book made no sense.  I read the whole thing partially because I was fascinated by how something so terribly written could actually be published into a book.  Terrible.

 

In conclusion, I think I need some ideas for good books to read.

 

The South Napa Earthquake and Preparedness

August 24, 2014 by Kara

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I didn’t have any recent pics of emergency prep, so here is my car crammed full of horse-show stuff.

Like most people in my region, I woke up this morning at 3:21 to the shaking of an earthquake.  Being 3 in the morning, I was rather dazed and couldn’t think of what to do.  I found myself standing next to my bed, watching my bedroom door open and close repeatedly all on its own.

When it finally stopped, things seemed fine in my house, so pulled out my phone to google the US Geological Survey earthquake map, and kept hitting refresh until it showed the big red circle for the magnitude 6.0 that had just hit.  I eventually fell back asleep and woke up to 30 new text messages all about the earthquake.

I live 40 or so miles away from the epicenter and was spared any damage, but friends and coworkers in Napa were not so lucky.  Everything breakable in their houses is broken, and power is intermittent for some, and yet to return for others.

My boss was told early this morning that she and her family should gather important paperwork and be prepared to evacuate.  She’s since been notified that their neighborhood is (thankfully) safe, and has spent the day cleaning up broken glass without power.

Because my preparations are for exactly this type of emergency, here’s what I learned:

*  My stupid self doesn’t know how to turn off the gas.  I mean, of all of the most basic things, how do I not know this? I even have a fancy wrench for it, but would not have known what to do at 3 o’clock this morning.  I have since done some online studying, and will go out and stare at my gas meter later today until I am confident that I can figure it out.  Here is a PG&E link about it if you’re ignorant like me: How to Turn off Your Danged Gas.

* I REALLY need to get emergency documents and paperwork together.  I keep telling myself that this is the next item on the To-Do list, but it is just so boring I keep not doing it.  I even picked up a fire-proof box to keep paperwork in and flash drives to hold digital copies (one for the fire box and one for the backpack), but I have yet to actually do anything besides compile the dogs’ vaccination records and throw them in a pile.

* I should probably move my emergency backpack to my bedroom closet, or at least consolidate items into one location.  Since emergencies don’t happen at convenient times, and you don’t get a warning of: “Hey, in like an hour we’re going to have a major earthquake, so why don’t you put your dogs’ leashes on them and find some shoes?” it is best to make the necessities idiot-proof.  I have a high level of idoicy in the middle of the night, and if this morning I had found that I had a gas leak and structural damage, I’m not sure I could have successfully organized myself to get the things I needed from the different corners of my house.  On that note, I should probably also pick up a couple of spare dog harnesses so that I can keep a second set with the other emergency supplies.

* I need to think through evacuation procedures in more detail, and even though it might feel ridiculous, run myself and the animals through a drill of some kind.  Not barefoot at 3 in the morning, mind you, but just a little practice of getting everyone harnessed and into the car so that I’d be ready if emergency workers showed up at MY door and told me to get out.

So those are my new goals for emergency prep.  I’ll try to hold myself accountable and report back on my progress!

My First Horse Show

August 20, 2014 by Kara

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A few weekends ago, I participated in my very first horse show– a “schooling” show at a barn in Napa.  A schooling show is a little practice show, a kind of dress-rehearsal for a bigger show.  Let’s get a few things out of the way:  I WAS THE ONLY ADULT IN PARTICIPATION.  I was quite possibly the only person old enough to drive myself to the event.  Okay, technically, I did see one other adult participating, but she did the later classes with higher jumps.  I’m also rather fearful of all things riding, which my teachers know, and given that we were in a new situation, they were sure to start me at baby-beginner things, which means that in my events, I was literally competing with a five year old on a pony the size of a Great Dane.

I started with a poles class.  Like, instead of jumping you go over a pole flat on the ground.  Like so:

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It was great.  I can TOTALLY go over stuff flat on the ground!! I did my first course trotting (for courage-building), and then I cantered my second course like a big girl.  I placed third in both classes.  TAKE THAT, FIVE YEAR OLD!  (The kindergartener is actually from my barn, and so there was much trash talking all around.  From me, obviously, telling his dad: “Your kid is going doooooown…”)

Next I was in two flat classes.  Flat classes are like a fake lesson where a whole bunch of people (9 or 10 or so in my case) go in at the same time and walk, trot, canter, and change directions as directed by the judge.  My horse was wearing a piece of tack (a martingale) that had to be removed for flat classes.  As I hopped off to remove it, I snagged the bottom of my coat on my saddle, and promptly ripped off all but one of my buttons.  Oops.  I rode in my four remaining classes with my coat flapping open.  Next time, I’ll be prepared with safety pins and a sewing kit.

Because of the tack-change scramble and button debacle, I was slightly late and frenzied entering into my first flat class.  Things were not very pretty.  At the end of the class, everyone lines up on their horse in the center of the ring.  My only goal during this was to find the biggest kid there and be sure to line up next to her.  FOR SERIOUS.  After everyone is lined up, the judge calls out the horses for first place, second place, and so on down to like eighth or something, and when you are called, you walk out.  Let’s just say that I didn’t place in my first class (very much like not being picked for the kickball team), but I managed to get a fifth or something in my second, and was spared a few minutes of misery standing around waiting to be called in the children’s class.

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Going into my little show, my number one goal was just to participate.  My super-goal, if things were going well and I was feeling confident, was to do the cross rails class, where you do actual jumps.  I mean, they are the smallest possible jumps, but still.  And I did!

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My horse is so great. He has been around the block, and totally gets that it was showtime (literally), and he just galavanted himself all over that course.  For my second round of cross rails, I even cantered!  Like a real rider!  :)

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In conclusion, it was a really fun day.  Several of the girls from my barn were participating as well (in the higher level classes, of course!) and barn events are always great.  There are such nice people at my barn, and everyone cheers for each other and helps out, and it is all around a great experience.

I’m hoping to get my courage up to participate in a “real” show that has some schooling events during the weekend in September, so in the meantime I’m sewing the buttons back on my coat…..

 

Almost Done

August 17, 2014 by Kara

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Let’s start with the most exciting update, besides how close the addition is to actually being done.  I came home earlier this week to a surprise gate!  I had been lead to believe that my old gate was going to be reused here, but NOPE!  Instead my designer had this gate custom made! He called it “The Birds and the Bees Gate” and it was made just for me.  The oak branch ties in the giant oak trees in the corners of my yard (including right above the gate), plus the obvious bees and chicken, with wire mesh behind the chicken so that the dogs can see out.  Possibly best of all is a fat lock to keep my chickens locked up fortress-like.

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Because I finally have a fully fenced yard after six months of construction, the dogs got to frolic in the yard.  They were very excited, and very excited to run up and down the stairs to the new apartment ten thousand times.  Speaking of which:  IT IS ALMOST DONE!  There are a few small details to finish up, and then the final inspection, and then that will be that.

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It is definitely nicer than my house, and I kind of want to live there.

There was an interesting glitch with PG&E last week.  They were supposed to come and set up the second meter for the apartment, so I took my dogs to doggie day care to keep them out of the way and everything.  When I came home that night, my garage door opener didn’t work (oh, did I mention I can park in my garage now?!?!  Amazing!  I also have laundry!!!  I’ll have to write a post about my beloved washer….).  When I came in and saw that there was no power in my house, I just assumed they had forgotten to switch the breakers back on.  No big deal, that’s happened a time or two.  But when I turned them all on, nothing.  After a second time of flipping them off and on just to make sure, I called my contractor.  While on the phone with him, I opened the little door where my actual meter is, and it was gone.

“Gone??” asked my contractor.

Yep, gone like gaping hole gone.  PG&E had come and removed my meter, leaving me powerless.  Good times.

When I called PG&E, they were confused because whoever did the work at my house had made no notes nor had he left any record of even being at my house.  Turns out that instead of adding a second meter, he had removed mine and swapped it over to the new apartment.  The good news was that I was able to move some of my freezer contents up to the apartment (minus things like semi-defrosted chicken that I figured might kill me).  When a repairman showed up to figure out what was going on, he was just as baffled as anyone else, and told me: “I’m going to find out who did this…” while shaking his head.

Anyway, he made a temporary fix that night, and by the next day I had two meters again.  Hooray!

There is (another) small kerfuffle with the city that I’m crossing all crossable things works out tomorrow morning as smoothly as possible, and then it will be time to move on to the next projects!

 

Clipping the World’s Shaggiest Horse

July 18, 2014 by Kara

 

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After.

 

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Before.

Several weeks ago, my riding teacher took a look at the shaggy state of the horse I ride and said: “You are going to need to buy some clippers.”  My horse (I “lease” him, so while I don’t own him, I’m his main person) is incredibly furry, and even with my best attempts at major grooming and “shedding support” supplements, dude was not losing the hair.

So, I went out and bought livestock clippers, and one of the girls at the barn agreed to teach me how to clip a horse.

Here is the full, dirty before.  If you are a non-horse person, the thing on his head that makes him look like Eeyore is a fly mask, and the whole eye-area is mesh, so yes, he can see out of there.

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A little clarification of what we’re dealing with, here.  Mind you, this was mid-June, once the winter coat should have been long gone.

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Step one is to scrub-scrub-scrub the horse from head to toe.  Washing a horse is a cross between washing a dog and washing a car.  But with less Windex.

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His mane was braided not for beauty purposes, but to train it all to go to one side.

After he was squeaky-clean, I had to wait and wait and wait and wait for all of that shaggy hair to be fully dry, and then the clipping began.

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Yep.  It was that drastic.

I clipped and clipped and clipped and clipped and felt like I was making good progress.

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Until I remembered that I still had the other side left to do.

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WAH!

That day, we got his body and face clipped, along with most of his legs.  A week later, I made a bit more progress on his legs, and then about a week after that, I finally made a final effort to finish his legs, and do some touch ups around his head.  It took FOREVER, but was totally worth it.  Not only is he so, so much easier to groom and keep clean, he’s not sweating himself silly under all of that shag.  He probably would have died of heatstroke had the fur not come off.

Already, his fur is getting longer, and I’m living in fear of having to go through the clipping process again.  Hopefully, if I stay on top of it it won’t be quite the project it was the first time.

 

Terrible Book Reviews

July 17, 2014 by Kara

None of the books I have were catching my eye, so I took a trip to the thrift store recently pick up some new ones.

I also ended up with a great T-shirt and skirt, which was exciting, because usually I’m far too lazy to dig through clothes at a thrift store.  But back to the books.  Here are two that I’ve read so far:

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Up at Butternut Lake, by Mary McNear

I just looked it up on Amazon and discovered two things:  one, the Kindle version is $1.99 (buy it), and two, it is apparently part of a trilogy.  Oooh!

Long story short:  Widow with young son moves to her family’s old cabin on the lake and a complicated romance ensues.

I liked this book.  It was nicely written, a quick read, didn’t have unlikely plot dramas or too many characters to follow.  An excellent summer pool/beach read, but not so cheesy and dumb you have to roll your eyes all the time.  Thumbs up.

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Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

This book is meh.  Chapters alternate between four characters, and how they all end up coming together via a fertility clinic.  I didn’t read the description before I read it (I have read Jennifer Weiner’s books before, so based on her name I figured it was a good summer read), so here are a few spoilers:  troubled Ivy-League girl donates her eggs, poor mama in the sticks donates her womb, gold-digger marries billionaire and gets a surrogate to carry their baby, and billionaire’s daughter is pissed.  Along the way, they all have their own family drama to work through, and then at the end IT DOESN’T GO AS PLANNED.  It was okay, maybe worth $2 at the thrift store, but probably only worth picking up at the library if you happen to see it.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

One of my friends highly recommended this after we’d both read Gone Girl, so I went into it with overly high expectations. It is good, but I didn’t love it.  Several women’s lives come together in a small town– one who is a perfectionist and finds  a scandalous letter that her husband wrote to her years ago (then hid), another woman who moves back to her mom’s house in the small town after her marriage goes nutters, plus some other ladies who work at the local school.  Unlike Gone Girl, which threw me for a loop at every turn, I found this book kinda predictable.  As I read, I was texting my friend: “Don’t tell me if I’m right, but I think THIS is going to happen!” ….. and I was always right.  It was a good book, though, and I enjoyed it, but it was no Gone Girl.

For record keeping purposes, here are some other books that I’ve read since last posting, though not super recently:

The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes

I could have SWORN I wrote about this one already, but search feature says otherwise.  I like Marian Keyes, she writes fluffy books set in Ireland, many about a family of sisters.  This one is about the residents of an apartment building, and is occasionally narrated by a mysterious, spirit-ey something, kind of like how The Book Thief is narrated by death.  You don’t find out who the narrator is until the end of this book, though, and I didn’t guess it.  Which is nice.  I always like to be surprised by books.  Anywho, there’s a scrappy taxi-driver lady with a sick mom and Polish immigrant roommates, a fancy executive lady, a free-spirit hippie girl married to a fancy business man, and an old lady with a hot-gardener nephew who comes to town to film a TV show.  As per usual, all of their lives become entwined. The characters were more or less likeable, and the endings weren’t totally predictable.

Going Home by Harriet Evans

Fluff, but enjoyable.  The main character (plus her sister and her cousin who play minor roles) lives in London but travels frequently to her family’s old house where her parents live. She has a mysterious, fancy uncle who lives in New York (in addition to the two aunts who live nearby and are also main characters) who she sees as some kind of magic hero, but ends up being a hot mess of sneaky disappointment when he brings home his gold-digging American surprise-wife.  Things go majorly downhill with the family home at that point, and all along the main girl is boo-hoo-ing about her ended relationship with the neighbor boy.  It ends with a little… OMG, THAT was the truth ALL ALONG!?!?!? And I really can’t remember if they were able to save the family home in the end, but she gets the guy, and that’s all that matters in life, right?

 

 

Dog Yard Mini-Makeover

July 16, 2014 by Kara

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I have a little side yard off of my kitchen where the dogs spend their days.  The side yard has always been less than beautiful, because it needs to be totally dog-proof to two large dogs highly motivated to destroy things.

For kicks, let’s take a look at how things looked four years ago.

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Yep, I bought a house that looked like this.

Obviously, the “porch” and security door were removed, as was the outdoor-only bathroom (the hole in the wall in the first photo), and when I got Casey, I had a gate put in at the end of the house so that there was an enclosure for her (my yard was not fenced in at the time).

Things started looking better as I gradually hacked down the cactus, and filled the area with mulch.

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But you know what crazy dogs love to do with mulch?  Dig and dig and dig and dig and dig.  So over time, I replaced the mulch with pavers and rocks.  It isn’t pretty, but it is dog proof and easy to clean up.  Eventually I even did a liiiitle bit of planting back there but kept those plants surrounded by rocks and bricks and other dog-proofing protections.

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Pretty, right?

Things were going great until I got my house painted, and saw Rusty lift his leg on the beautiful blue wall.  OH, NO, BROTHER!  There will be none of that!  And I started brainstorming ways to keep him away from the wall.  I decided that if I put a couple of potted plants along the wall, it would keep him away from my lovely paint.

Then, after a work-day at the barn, I was inspired to try a few more planters, and generally spruce up the dog yard.

 

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Not beautiful, but better, and definitely practical.

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I tossed some big rocks and the bottles that were dug up during garage demolition to hopefully discourage any digging in these pots.

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I also dug out some of the dirt in front of the doghouse and filled it in with these giant rocks (left over from driveway demolition) to improve the drainage situation.  This area needs to be hosed off on the regular, and drainage was not good.  The rocks are a big improvement!

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The pot next to Casey is visible from my kitchen window, and makes such a nicer view than the raggedy fence and concrete I looked at before while washing dishes!

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Sometimes the dogs go in the doghouse, but the preferred spot is definitely the roof.  They even have a fancy dog bed up there.

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This little area still isn’t the prettiest, but the plants are an improvement.  There is a jasmine in the grey pot that will hopefully grow all over the gate (the pot is on the stationary side of the gate, so it should be able to open and close without disturbing the plant).  I thought about getting some sort of hose caddy, but it would block the gate and truthfully, I probably wouldn’t use it anyways.

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I’m not 100% convinced that the potted plants will survive the dogs, but so far they’re fine, and I figured it was worth a try.  Worst case scenario, one gets destroyed and I move them all out.  But I’m going to cross my fingers that they won’t be interesting to the dogs.

Now a before and after!

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Now, cross your fingers that the dogs are uninterested in potted plants…….

 

 

 

Week Twenty-One

July 12, 2014 by Kara

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I’m pretty sure it is week 21, anyways.  Somewhere around there at least.

Things are really coming along, and it is really just down to the final details at this point.

First, I got a new driveway plus a little back patio.

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There was some drama with my next door neighbor over the driveway.  My beautiful new driveway extends all the way to my property line (as it should), but because it was made up of three separate junk piles before, now it looks huge.  Here is the before:

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In the first photo, you can see that the left side of the driveway just dropped off, so you couldn’t actually drive down it.  Where the port-a-potty is, that was “homemade cobblestone” which was basically a rock pile with weeds growing in it.  Then, the point of debate is that little grassy strip on the far right in the second picture.  That strip, entirely on my side of the property, was added later at some point to help with the very bad drainage.  Because it was ghetto and broken and not done correctly, water actually just seeped under, making things even worse.  The drama came because my neighbor really wanted that little 6-ish inch strip marked back in, giving them a little more buffer for their driveway space, claiming it was public property between the two driveways.  BUT, that is actually all my property.  Which I know for a danged fact because I had to pay an arm and a leg to get the whole stinkin’ thing surveyed in order to mark property lines.  It also comes down to the fact that she feels like the developers on the other side of her built a fence that was a foot into her property, and so she’s sensitive about having her space invaded, but we told her repeatedly that it had been surveyed and that she could check the records if she liked.

What I think it is really about is that my driveway LOOKS huge now, and hers looks teeny-tiny, but mine takes up no more space than it used to, it is just all one piece instead of multiple piles of junk.

Later, my contractor took me to the fence at the start of my backyard where the surveyors had placed a pin. He pointed at the pin marking my property line, and then pointed to the fence between our yards, which is CLEARLY at least four inches into my side.

“I”m just saying….” he said.

***

The most exciting thing about my driveway is that I can just drive right out of it without having to crank my car to a 45 degree angle to safely navigate the too-step drop off into the street.  The new driveway is a NORMAL driveway that you can drive into and out of without destroying the underside of your car!  It is amazing.  I feel so fancy.

Upstairs, we now have finished floors (fake wood that looks pretty amazing and “rustic” with texture and great color), baseboards, interior doors and closet doors, and kitchen cabinets.

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Custom cabinets, ready to go in.

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The kitchen!

 

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Progress on floors and baseboards.

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Lovely floors, looking from the living room towards the kitchen and back of apartment.

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Hallway closet doors and a peek at the bathroom vanity (custom built to match the kitchen!)

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And the tiny bedroom.  I was trying to get a shot of the closet plus the interior door, and couldn’t do it without fitting myself in, so here is me post horseback-riding.  In my new breeches, which are the Piper breeches from SmartPak, and I highly recommend them if you are in the market for breeches.

So there we are!  Appliances and garage doors are expected to arrive on Monday, and I don’t want to get my hopes up too high, but chances are pretty good I’ll have a working, non-Amish washing machine on Monday.  I might cry from excitement.  Other than that, I think it is just down to finishing things…. sinks, doorknobs, counter tops, light fixtures, switches, outlets and such.

Getting close!

Sonoma County Trails Challenge: Crane Creek

July 11, 2014 by Kara

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On Wednesday, I added a second trail to my Trails Challenge list, Crane Creek in Rohnert Park.  I have a friend that lives out that way, and I drove past Crane Creek on the way to her house a while back and was intrigued.  It is a small park, hilly and grassy, and I imagine when there isn’t a crazy drought, there is actually a creek.

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But no creek now!

Inexplicably, the park also has a Frisbee Golf Course.  Is this really a thing?

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There are a few trails, and with some wandering and out-and-backs I managed to scrape together two miles.  The trails are mostly narrow and grassy (FORESHADOWING), with views of hills and vineyards.

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Rusty appreciated the view.

We went 2.24 miles in just under an hour.  It isn’t a park I’ll return to, mostly because it is pretty out of the way for me, and the lack of trails doesn’t quite make up for the drive.  I had already decided that this park was a fail while I was out there, but the deal was sealed 100% later that night…..

…WHEN I FOUND A TICK ATTACHED TO MY LEG.  ATTACHED!!!!!!

Both of the dogs are on anti-tick medication, so I think ticks jumped on them from the tall grasses, came home with us, decided the dogs were gross, and hopped off looking for something better.  Like me.  After I found the tick on my leg (and panicked more than I would like to admit), I found two more ticks ON THE FLOOR and this morning I found one more sitting on (but not attached to) Rusty.  DISGUSTING.

Because I am insane, I circled the spot where the tick was on my leg with a sharpie so that I can monitor it and make sure I don’t come down with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (according to google, this kind of tick doesn’t carry Lyme, gracias a dios).

So, Crane Creek.  Not a summer hike unless you are covered head to toe with a gallon of DEET.

Two down, three to go!

 

 

Sonoma County Trails Challenge: Hood Mountain

July 10, 2014 by Kara

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Last week, my good friend Westerman was in town, and we had many fabulous adventures, the first of which was a hike up Hood Mountain in Santa Rosa.  Westerman was looking for a good hike, and I had been meaning to get started on the Sonoma County Trails Challenge, so Hood Mountain fit the bill.  For the Trails Challenge, you just have to hike five trails in the Sonoma County Parks System.  They have suggested trails, several of which I’ve walked before, so my goal is to test out five new trails.  If you document your hikes and submit them, you get a water bottle.  WOO HOO!

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Hood Mountain is listed as a “strenuous” hike, but this is from the same website that explained: “Is hiking the same thing as walking?  Yes, a hike is just a walk that takes place in a natural setting…” so I wasn’t too worried.  We set out with several liters of water, plums, some snacks, a Gatorade, lots of sunscreen, and a semi-charged Garmin that last saw activity when I ran a half-marathon a year ago, and a PDF of the trail map on my phone.

Hood Mountain is out near Kenwood behind the St. Francis winery, and it is pretty awesome.  It is also a pretty steep hike, so the part about “strenuous” was no lie.

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It doesn’t look as steep as it felt, but there was a looooot of uphill.  It took around two hours to get to the top, and once we reached the official peak, we went a little farther to where you had an amazing view of the whole area:

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We hiked a loop, so we went down a different way than we came up, and the scenery was just as lovely.  Luckily, we hiked up mostly in the shade.  Our downhill route was much sunnier, and that would have been pretty awful during the climb.

It took us 3 hours and 45 minutes to go 7.1 miles, including breaks for water, snacks, sunscreen, complaining (me), and enjoying the view.  According to the website and my Garmin, there was a 2,000 foot elevation gain, so it is a legit hike. The trails were mostly well-marked, but I was glad I had the PDF of the map so that we were able to zoom in for detailed views of trail intersections.  It looks like there are some shorter loops you can do which I might revisit with the dogs, as the park is really beautiful, but not something I’d hike alone.

So let the Trail Challenge of 2014 begin!  One down, four to go!