Peonies and the Park

Last year we planted an ornamental onion and two peonies in a raised planter smack in the middle of our ferns. The onion bloomed last year, but the peonies did not. This year, reverse that by two-thirds. The onion is gone, and one of the two peonies sent up around 8 flowers. Also added to Flickr photostream is this panorama of Central Park that I took from the roof garden at the Met. I used the Panorama app on my iPhone, and the phone literally became warm while it was processing this one, but it did a fantastic job. Click for BIG full-sized version. This was all the Panorama app – I did no post-processing.

Central Park panaroma

happy pride n awl dat

It’s June already, and I can’t believe how fast the year is flying by. At times it seems I’ve only been home half the time during the past few months. Marlin and I recently spent a week in Los Angeles dealing with his father’s possessions. We love Craig’s List … it’s the first time I used it, but we managed to sell a lot of stuff. Locally. Within a week. No shipping … everyone came and picked up what they bought. Everything, that is, except a huge old ShopSmith lathe/table saw/drill press monstrous tool. I suspect it will have to be given away for scrap metal, despite the fact it actually works.

I’d love to have a lathe, but I could buy a new one for far less than it would cost to ship this behemoth across the country. We did, however, ship a bunch of other stuff. Here’s a pop quiz for you — which do you think would cost less to ship via FedEx Ground: 1) an acoustic guitar in a case; or 2) a metal tool chest full of machining tools that weighs over 80 pounds? I was surprised. (Answer in the comments).

After LA, we had one weekend at home where we chipped out the old masonry hearth in the dining room and re-poured a new base. It’s now level with the floor — which means about an inch and a half higher on the right. Floor sag … another joy of old home-ownership. I also did fun other things like clean the refrigerator inside and out. I discovered where a lot of mice were living in recent years. But now with 5 cats, we no longer have a mouse problem.

Yes, we still have all 5 cats. We’re now thinking of finding a new home for both Mama and Hobbes, and we’re hoping they can stay together. They get along great and would both benefit with some more individual time, which is impossible with 5 cats.

Last weekend, I made my second annual trip to catch a couple Pirates games in Pittsburgh, staying with my friends Sled and Barb. It rained all Friday evening. We tailgated under one of the bridges that feeds the interstate to the Ft. Pitt tunnel. The game started 2 hours late, after a rain delay and an opening ceremony honoring members of the 1971 World Series champion team. The rain was so unrelenting that we never even ventured down near the field to sit in our 10th row seats. The grounds crew went through 4.5 tons of drying agent on the infield. The game was called near midnight after 6 innings. The Pirates lost 7-0. We also went to Sunday’s game. It rained again Sunday. The Pirates lost again Sunday. At least we had fun tailgating and I enjoy hearing my friends employ their self-deprecating Pittsburgh drawl, n awl dat.

Several more photos have been added to the gallery. I snapped a couple point-and-shoot photos for this panorama inside PNC Park.) We visited the Warhol Museum Saturday and I took a few photos there. I’ve also posted more Keys photos in recent weeks, including a couple dozen new sculpture photos from this year’s version of Art in the Park.

Now it’s Pride month. This weekend is the Pride parade in Boston, and we’ll likely be rushed to make it to the parade on time, because we need to buy tile for the new hearth and the only places with tile suitable for our Victorian decor have limited weekend hours — like Saturdays, 10-2. One of these days I’ll get a chance to blog more regularly, but it’s looking like a summer of monthly updates at best.

living without a living room

In the last entry (nearly 2 months ago), I introduced the cats. Shortly after that, I took off on vacation to the Keys — for almost a month. I took along the laptop (my work laptop … a sexy Powerbook), but I’ve decided the web is pretty useless at 28.8 dialup and far inferior to mixing a vodka tonic to drink while laying out in the sun. I’ve never been this tanned in my life. Marlin doesn’t get as much vacation time as I do, so my vacation was scheduled 9 days longer than his. On his last night there, we received the terrible news that his father had died. While it was a shock, it wasn’t totally unexpected … he had never returned home after (his second) triple bypass surgery last fall. After hearing the news, Marlin and I proved that even after 11+ years together we’re not immune to communication breakdown. I thought Marlin wanted me to just stay in the Keys for the rest of my vacation as scheduled, and it was a decision we both regretted. We are both travelling out to LA next month for a week to take care of much of his father’s belongings.

I spent my last week in Key West taking a lot of photos. A lot meaning around 800. I posted about a dozen this evening that were two different photographic challenges: kite surfers and neon lights. While I managed to get a few good shots of the surfers, the neon was stationary so it was a much more cooperative subject. Key West has a few great neon facades, including Sloppy Joe’s, the Strand Theatre (had been the Ripley’s Believe It or Not for many years, but is now a Walgreen’s), and the beautiful new marquee for the Tropic Cinema. I expect to post a lot more photos in coming weeks, now that I’m capable of doing so. One of my many ongoing projects since returning home from vacation was to replace two primary hard drives and double the RAM in my PC — a project which I finished Sunday. Photoshop was choking because I had no hard drive space left, so I replaced two 9GB drives with two 74GB drives. And reinstalled fresh copies of everything I use. I expect that will last me a couple years until all the fun software is natively written for the Intel Macs.

Less than a week after returning from vacation, I came down with the worst cold/flu bug I’ve had in the past 10 years. Five days out of work, three days mostly in bed, soup and juice ad naseum, blah blah blah … and the sinus thing has hung on for a couple weeks longer.

The last bit of update news is the forever-ongoing home renovations. The dining room is painted and nearly done, but we’ve now decided to use our wallpaper border at chair rail level instead of directly below the crown moulding. Ergo, we’ve also decided to repaint the lower section of the walls a darker green and use the border as the separator. The parlor and living room are completely torn up and bare, and it now appears the friendly handyman that had been working for us the past couple months will not be continuing his services for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, it is much more inconvenient to live without a living room than live without a dining room. Our motivation factor to keep this project moving along will only increase the longer we don’t have access to our big television, DVR, stereo, and a recliner to park my now-tanlined ass.