Friday, February 10, 2017


I've been building a fire in the fireplace each night since I'm back in my house.  It's nice to sit in the evenings and just watch the fire flicker.  My evening thrill.  My daytime thrill is the nice days with Spring coming on strong...I know you guys want to know how Mom is, and she is doing good! She is getting stronger each day, and we have hopes she will be able to move around much better when her arm can be "weight bearing" and she can manage using her rolling walker again. 

The shed project continues, now the wall framing is done and it's time to raise the rafters! This is where it gets harder having to be up on the ladder to work...keep knocking myself in the head Duh!

              Just 2 more rafters for the main part of the shed and it's time to replace the tin!
                                                 Bought 10) 2 x 4 x 8  $36.00  

And though it will be a while before anything starts to break the ground, we planted a winter garden, couple kinds of lettuce, some kale, Swiss chard,  mustard greens, parsley, and cilantro! And I'll add a bed of potato and onions as well. 

My weekend plans:
It's Friday night and one of my favorite TV shows, Grimm,  comes on and I can get it over my antenna!  And later I hope to see something cosmic happen as I step outside to check the night sky!
Saturday is my son's 36th birthday..and if Rosie is gonna be on SNL I will stay up for that!
Sunday the Walking Dead starts again and I'll be watching that over with mom and sis, as my antenna does not get that!  I'll bring the popcorn.

Not much happening in my small world at this time. I'm keeping my eye on the political arena, and I'm beyond words at how things are going...its such a sad time in the life of a liberal (and most Americans).  I am happy to see more people voicing their opinions, protesting, and calling a lie--> a lie! I've been so shocked by this Jason Chaffetz and his attacks on the environment, and now the EPA, UTAH what the hell are you thinking????  Y'all are lucky you're not on  my Facebook list, that's where my political ranting happens! I have only 32 friends and half of them are suddenly quiet I suppose they voted for him...I had a Twitter account I never used and haven't signed into for a couple years...I decided to check it...OMG I had almost 500 twitter friends??? I did not authorize any of them only a couple folks, like less than 10 were actually my friends! I could not find a way to mass delete those "fake" friends most of who wrote in Japanese, Chinese, or I deleted the whole thing! If you have a social account you are not keeping an eye on better go check it out! There was all sorts of porn and other crap on "MY" twitter! Jeez!

It is comforting to have a simple life...small things are the highlight right now...hope you have some small things going on in yours too! 


 Story Time: The Hand Shake 1973

How many famous people have you met?  I've met a few but one that impressed me happened at Belmont Park! I was working as a groom at the time, and had a filly running in a claiming race, and it was her maiden race.  How that works is this, the horse can be claimed, or purchased during the race for an amount set by the owner of the horse! In the paddock where the jockey gets on the horse is also a bit of  a "hobnob social" for the owners, trainer, and visitors.  My job as a groom was to walk the horse around in the paddock and when the jockey is weighted he brings his saddle over and the trainer normally gets the saddle from the jockey and they put it on the horse, the groom makes sure the horse is held quiet, and does not kick or bite anyone!  Then once the horse is saddled, the groom gives the jockey a leg up and then you walk around a few turns while he tightens up the girth and knots up the reins and takes out any braids you have placed in the mane where he may need to grab! Then you exit the paddock and the jockey is either on his own or if he has a lead pony the lead pony and rider will escort your filly to the track where they warm up by galloping to the starting gate. 

I did not know the owner of this filly, the barn I worked for trained horses owned by various people, rich folks ya know.  In the paddock the owner, who hoped she could get rid of this filly and the money it was costing her, came over to say goodbye to her filly.

So she came up with my boss, the trainer. They didn't acknowledge me, I was just the "help"...but her guest came directly up to speak to me! So I smiled and he extended his hand and greeted me with a big smile, "Hello, Andy Williams," I replied "Hi, I'm Sondra it's nice to meet you." That's when I realized it was the Andy Williams and it struck me how short he was!

After the race I had to go down and get my horse, she ran good but didn't place, I was met by the new owner and his groom had a halter to put on my filly, so the filly got claimed.  I walked back to the barn by myself carrying her bridle, halter, and shank humming Moon River!
Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


It is Spring here! Warm days cool nights. some frost is still in our forecast.  Mom is improving  slowly, Doc says she doesn't need the sling now and it's healing well he wants to see her again in a month. She complains mostly of pain and being uncomfortable...I try to help but make little difference.  She is, in one word, Miserable!  I am, in one word, Exhausted.  Mentally, not physically. Her Dementia/Alzheimers seems to have tripled since the incident.  Like today she told me she thought she spent the entire day with her cousins. (they have all passed) She was with me right here all day.  Some very strange things are going on in that mind of hers.   While she napped  

I did some work on my shed project I have placed the blocks in a trench I dug out and made as level and straight as it needs to be.  It took about 36 blocks, I had those and more around here... cost so far $0.  I had all these 2 x 6's (above photo) not all the same size, so puzzled out the foundation using what I had.  And then I put down the plywood floor and the back wall is in place, and one side wall is about ready to raise up and the front wall is partially assembled on the ground it will up after the side wall goes up. 

                                 3 sheets of plywood with my Lowe's discount and tax, $123.00

                                           the front framing

...and the BEST news is my older sister (E) has arrived to help out.  Thank goodness I'm now back at my house after 3 weeks of  nearly 24/7 care.

 I'm pretty shell shocked with the stress of dealing with mom and the executive orders flying out of DC-Comics, it has blind sided my January. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott are my new email buddies, they are both Republican Senators representing SC, and I surely did not nor will I vote for them, but at this point we need them to help us get through this horrible time in the history of our Government. I got some positive feedback some not so positive, but they are at least listening, not like the Whitehouse who has turned off their contact feature, and the phone directs you to the website where the contact feature does not its an alternative universe up there.

Story time - sort of: This time it's a recent event one I hope none of you will have to deal with-

A near miss! My younger sister (M)'s dog Maggie had to be rushed to the emergency vet two weeks ago about 9 pm. Maggie suffers high anxiety when she has to ride in the car...and when she is excited she drinks way too much sister fed her too quickly after  a water drinking episode, and she began to act weird...gagging but no vomit, pacing and restless, in obvious sis rushed her in and they did emergency surgery within  the hour. She had stomach bloat and a twisted gut!  Her very life was at stake.  She came through very well and is now home recovering...the one clue my sister had was Maggie's belly was bulging to one side.  So I hope this will help someone else save their dog.  It's more common in larger sized dogs, and a good piece of advice for dogs who like to eat too fast is to feed them small amounts say three times a day instead of once or twice, still no guarantee to prevent it.  During the surgery they straightened the stomach then stitched it to the abdominal wall to prevent this happening again.  

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


 NOT a good week for US here!

Since the snow last weekend, we have had beautiful weather 70's and even 80's, sunny and beautiful!! So why am I not posting progress on my shed project you ask?  
Life has a way of knocking the wind out of my sails and sends one challenge right after the other.

This past Tuesday evening my Mom fell at home and broke her left humerus right up below her shoulder joint.  She uses a walker full time in order to walk without falling, (supposed to stop her falling, but did not) She has fallen 3 times while using her walker. It is a balance problem since she has peripheral nueropathy meaning she has very little feeling in her legs, so she can't sense her feet too creates horrible balance that is the problem exacerbated by having 2 hip replacements after spontaneous fractures due to osteoporosis. When you live to be 92 you will not go out with sound mind or body, trust me on this one. 

So she had her walker but she hung her toe on something and down she went her upper body slammed into the door frame on the way down and that fractured her arm...then she realized her "life line alert," I've fallen and can't get up button, was NOT on her neck...she had taken it off in prep for bedtime, she was not able to wiggle due to her arm being broken to get to the phone or the button....soooo

I was of course next door in my house, asleep...but I got up at 1:30 to shut off the ice maker which is quite noisy in my kitchen, saw her lights on and that is how I discovered her...she had been in the floor for 3 hrs! 

... I got her up but realized she had all the signs of a broken arm so took her to the ER and they verified it.  The orthopedic next morning said they don't normally do anything except put the arm in a sling for a humeral neck that's all the care she received. 

Then her entire arm turned black and blue and swollen.  Since she can't walk without a walker and now she can't use a walker with one hand that makes her balance worse, she is pretty much out of commission, and she can do very little for herself.  I did get a wheel chair and that has helped ME to get her from bed to chair to bathroom etc...but now SHE depends on my help for everything...

My sister came down to give me a weekend break I go back to Mom's house tomorrow, I sure am happy to have the break...since the time frame is: the first 2 weeks are the worst, and then it's a 10-12 week healing process.

Just taking each day as it comes right now...I just want my mom to recover and hopefully be able to start walking again, she can walk as long as I am right there to insure she doesn't fall while using a quad cane, I can't hold her up by her left arm due to the break, so am using the tricks I learned while watching her in rehab before, a belt at her waist that I hold onto.

When something like this happens you start to second guess how the events could have been different, only if.  But we can't change anything that has already happened all we can do is go on, and wish for a better future. I know it could have been much worse, so thankful for that.

Hopefully during the coming days she will get used to doing things a little different, and I will feel like I can step outside to work on my project and get some well needed exercise and fresh air while she watches her westerns and naps in her recliner chair. 

Till then its a challenge to be cooped up inside.  

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

First Post this year!

What happened to the Sunny South?  It almost never shines in winter anymore when I look back through my blog and emails to friends I see over and over yr after yr how I comment on the gloomy weather!  No wonder I can't make any progress on my shed project I should have started in October but it didn't cool off this yr till a week before Thanksgiving! NOW this-

Image may contain: people sitting, plant, tree, table, outdoor and nature

And the high today will be 32 with a wind chill making it feel like 22.  I guess all you can do about the weather is complain, and it won't do any good! Did see a couple sweet birds come in for food...

pine warbler

Between the rain and snow I got through the pile of 2 x 4's and pulled out the nails, saw off the rotten ends etc. and stacked them is a neat way...this is before!

these photos are low resolution so hope you don't mind the fuzzy...trying to stay within my "data"confines... I went through the pile some got the toss....others I pulled out the old nails and sawed off the rotten ends if it had any...some are good all the way.  Here is a tip if you ever find yourself needing to bang out old nails..
First I lay the board on my workbench and hammer the nail back through the board so it looks like this with the head up.

It's easier to pull them out if you have them on the ground...more leverage that way and the longer your crowbar, the better! (TIP: if you have a piece of metal pipe longer than your crowbar that will slide over the handle of your crowbar you can make it longer and pull out LONG -- BIG nails with ease)  I use a wood scrap about 28 inches long to hold the board down with my foot on it and put it close enough to the nail I get even better leverage by putting my crowbar on top of the board like this...

you can pull it out with very little effort using this method....and if there's any nails on the edge of the board,  turn it on edge and do the same thing....holding the leverage board down with your foot really holds the wood steady for you to pull the nail out easily with the crowbar!

No Nails!!

Now, I've been known to straighten a nail and reuse it, not hard to do just lay it on a smooth wood surface you can hammer on, and put it with the arch of the bend UP rolling it with your index finger until it is firm and then not too hard hammer it till the crook is gone and it looks straight.  
Another tip for sawing off the rotted ends: to me the chain saw is fast and makes a straight cut! SO that's what I used on the 2 x 4's I will be making another cut when I determine which ones will be used where in the project. 

here is a rough draft of my "blue print"  The part on the left is where the riding mower will stay so I want a brick ramp for ease of driving it in and out..I have old bricks here and there probably enough to do the project and if not I know where an old house burned to the ground! The mower area is where the sliding barn door will go.  

I have "felled"one more of the big trees that had to be cut down...There is ONE more shown here that may have to go I'll see when I lay out my foundation...I think it's going to interfere with getting the tools in and out of my "Office" as I call it where all my yard tools will hang on the right...So you got your Right Wing where things get hung and Your Left Wing where things are mobile. Pun intended.....Cutting this tree will be tricky see how its bent... that's a 10 ft ladder in the it is really tall. probably 60 ft?

...and now a new idea for my blog I enjoy telling stories, so this is my first installment of 2017, it won't be an every blog thing but heck it could be--probably should be another blog altogether but it will be as a footnote when one pops in my head for now.  You can or you don't have to read....
story time

I find myself thinking of Old Ms Hopkins a lot is her part in my life...
When we moved to SC from TN I was just a wee girl of 6-ish back in 1960  We played a lot with the two boys who lived next to the duplex we rented.  Just across and down the dirt road a bit was a house covered in grey asphalt siding, a little house surrounded by shrubbery, fruit trees, and a fence.  You could not see much of the house for the overgrowth. Inside this little tangle lived old Ms Hopkins. She had 2 daughters already out on their own, who came on weekends to visit their widowed mother. 

 They took her to church and brought in some necessary supplies. She was for the most part, a self sufficient woman. She had no car. What she did have was a large vegetable garden, a flock of laying hens, a well for water, and a simple existence.  She worked from sun up till sun down on her two acre place every single day even on Sunday...chopping wood, hoeing the garden, feeding her chickens, canning in the summer, and doing repairs around her place. She did all her wash by hand and hung it on the line about twice a month.  

Rumors of area kids stated, she is a witch!  She always managed her daily chores wearing a straight formed dress belted at the waist that hung well below the knee, a scratchy looking grey cardigan sweater, (way too big for her), some type of woolen hosiery,  and a sweat stained straw hat...she reminded me so very much of my own Grandmother back in TN who dressed the same and worked harder than any farm hand ever did. 

When we kids went veering through the shrubs to see "the witch" she would always yell the same thing, "GO SCAT YOU KIDS,"  and we ran as if she had a blasted us with that shotgun we knew she kept by the back kitchen door. We knew that because on occasion if a snake or a stray dog got near her hen house she would go a blasting till the danger was gone! I witnessed her kill a rattler with her hoe, then toss him into her chicken yard for the hens to eat!

We thought she was an evil witch, but when that duplex we rented caught fire and we lost most of our clothes, (a bedroom fire) she was the only neighbor who came with a cardboard box full of clothes that had once belonged to her daughters. My sisters and I worked on hemming, taking up sleeves, and making the odd bits of hand me downs work for us! I wore my share of those clothes for several years to come. Ms Hopkins was the only neighbor who understood the immediate need of three sisters of meager means who had school to attend and just lost the very clothes off their backs.

 Every time I hang up my work hats I think about Ms Hopkins, I wonder what ever became of her? Just in case you're wondering about who my role models were growing up...she was one of them.

    my work hats 

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Year in the Life

Looking back to my blog early this year I was busy putting in the bathroom...seemed to take months to get it done.  It has worked out pretty well....over all.  Did have a couple small leaks I had to deal with. 

Gloomy weather does a number on me...It sets the mood to hibernate...rather than the busy bee I normally am, in the gloomy winter weather I am more like a Grizzle Bear, moody and sluggish. One thing is chocolate! I rarely buy chocolate but then come Halloween, and BAM its everywhere till New Yrs is over. I'm suffering  a chocolate hang over--

I'm trying to make this a look back post..and I was about to say lets "Burn 2016 to the ground!"
 Lost so much this year... my son and his girlfriend of 5 yrs broke UP! That means I lost my step grandchild...and the hopes of his marriage and settling down any time soon...sigh.  But look at what I gained...the year was not an entire wash....actually if I cut myself out of other equations of family, friends, and country my personal year was okay....still I grieve with the collective over certain things. 

January: Had me working in the house, shooting the moon,...and shooting off my mouth about the Malheur take over...what a crock that was!!


February: found me in Florida for 2 weeks.  St Augustine, Merritt Island, Canaveral National Seashore, Ft Myers to see the Flamingo, Big Cypress National Preserve, Shark Valley, the Everglades, and the Crocodile, Casey and I camping along the way!!

American Flamingo

American Crocodile

March: Day Trip!  birding down at Bear Island WMA, had a wonderful day there!  So many shore birds I really couldn't ID them all.

 April: zoomed up to NC and along the Blue Ridge Mountains hoping for early spring birds, didn't hit it just right but had a glorious time anyway 4 days of camping and being out in the wilderness, hiking. Did see some awesome birds, rivers, and landscapes!

Gotta Love a Black Throated Green Warbler in early spring!!

yellow prong lower falls

 May: I moved into my house! Still a work in progress but I've had 7 months so far to enjoy settling back into my place...

June: Went to NC to see the Brown Booby another rare bird then we crossed to Eastern NC to wander around Mattamuskeet NWR a combination of camping and one night in a motel.

the brown booby

imm white ibis at Mattamuskeet

July: I found out I was descended from not one, but 2 accused Salem Witches, got my deck built, Mom and I did some Town trips that we hope to get back to doing soon, and then finally my sister came to help out...Annie and I took off for a week after we found out she had a tumor!  

Aug:  Annie and I head  once again up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the VA section this time for a late summer camping trip, then onto Shenandoah NP, the wild flowers, butterflies, and black bears were amazing, then up to Harper's Ferry WVa, on to the Laurel Highlands of PA for water-falling and camping!  

flowers of the blue ridge parkway VA

our camp at Otter Creek VA

black bears in Shenandoah NP

being tourists @ Harper's Ferry W.VA

Cucumber Falls Ohiopyle PA

New River Gorge Bridge W.VA

Then we went back home for 2 weeks for Annie's surgery and recovery ALL GOOD!

AUG: Later: Soon as Annie was well enough my Sis and I left for a long weekend in TN to celebrate what our family calls Graveyard Decoration, its a get together to remember and celebrate the memory of our past loved ones, and its way to raise money to keep the Cemetery up..

                                                   the Walling Cemetery

Sept:  I went on  the epic Journey that took me through 10 states and added Canada to my Travel List....Since those blogs are fresh in your memories I won't repeat them here!!  The mileage on that trip was about 4,500 and I enjoyed each and every mile...

crossing into Canada 

Oct: We went to Ocean Isle Beach to Celebrate our Birthdays, and to enjoy the ocean! 

                                            Ocean Isle Beach, NC

November: I VOTED, it didn't count, then I started on ripping the shed down, and the Holidays crept in, I made Thanksgiving dinner for most of the family some of then went AWOL to Colorado, the dogs and I  had our first fire of the season...

                                            Casey enjoys the fire

Dec:  and then before I knew it the Red Kettle was up in front of the Food Lion where I shop for food.  I always give a little, not much, as I am on a tighter budget than you would think!

             Image may contain: christmas tree and indoor
sis's tree

Altogether I camped 56 nights this year, logged about 8,888 miles,  moved into my house and continue to work on the projects I envisioned,  was able to catch up with and visit extended family I hadn't seen in a long time,  added a ton of stamps to my National Parks Passport books, added a whole bunch of turned pennies to my collections, added 14 new lifers to my bird list, and visited some nearby towns I had never been to! All of the above are how I enjoy spending my time,  these small things make me happy and make my life worth living., and I spent another birthday with my mom and my
personally for me, it was a good year. 

I have some goals for 2017, I will try to outline in the coming blogs. 
Happy New Yr. to all!!

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Getting shed of the shed!

Many of you probably awoke to a white Dec 25th, if you got it hope you enjoyed it... I got up and opened the windows!  66 degrees.  I drove, with my son,  over the river, and through the woods up to my sisters house where Mom is until New Yrs, for the day and a meal prepared by my German BIL.  He did a great job! 

Not often you can dress like this on Christmas Day, my son at rest area opening a vending machine cold drink.

One year we had snow on the 26th...bummer.  So the Holiday is behind us whew...
I asked Santa for a new shed I drool over those catalogs that arrive in the mail with glistening new pole barns and sheds of every description size, and shape,,,,but then I check the price tag....the same ole' thing..."No Sondra, there is no Santa Claus".   Just like anything else in life if you want it bad enough you will make it happen with wit and sweat.  But first I have to destroy the old one!! 

It comes down in the reverse of how it went up..the siding,  then the roof, then the framing...

The girls watched from a safe distance and wiggled in the dirt!

...then up on the ladder, it was the hardest part taking off the tin roofing...I didn't want to damage it too bad as I plan to re-use it!!  It has a nice patina don't you think? Or you might just call it rust...

...then I noticed in the bushy holly a tap tap tapping! A yellow bellied sapsucker busy making his own world a better place!

those little holes in the tree trunk is what he is busy doing, they drill a little hole, the sap seeps into the holes then bugs and such also get into the its like a juicy sappy bug snack. You can see he has a red throat patch and red forehead, the belly is a buffy yellow and the back is black with white/tan specks and white on his primaries! A very attractive bird!

So I had to get a few shots of him before continuing...soon all the tin was off.  

then I just tied a rope to the remaining frame,  gave 3 hard tugs and down it went!!

                                                  Now you can see the house!

It was easy to pull all this apart with it on the ground...and now Im salvaging what I can of the timbers, the tin is def usable, some of the rafters are good I pulled out the nails, and some of the 2 x 4 's have rot on the bottom end so I'll saw that end off I can make my walls 6 inches shorter.   This is not rocket science...

So Im using my circular saw and cutting the old siding into 12 inch wide pieces and trimming off the rotted parts and Ill use it like lap siding on the back and on the inside wall...nothing will go to waste. 

 one load of debris went to the dump...and Ill probably have one more small load to haul away,  SO a lot is being reused, recycled, and re-purposed!! 

I have removed one of the trees as planned and soon the other one will be on my firewood pile...its not a healthy tree so it will help to heat the house!
I do plan to plant more trees in the wood lot, some evergreens....since my woods never get the benefit of fire...the under-story has disappeared and all the trees are tall and not reseeding very well! Planting some evergreens  like Eastern Cedar and Holly will help give a green under story and replenish my wood lot. 

Next step is to start getting the foundation of the NEW shed in place!! Hope to start that as soon as I get all the 2 x 4's ready to reuse.   And I got a Lowe's Gift card for Christmas!! Yippie!  Later back inside,  I'm trying to perfect biscuit making what tips do you have for me? Don't forget I use only non animal products.   

these were good crispy outsides and soft inside.

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.