Memorial Day and Mulberries

Busy weekend. Crammed in some work on the building in-between a little travel and regular work.

Pretty pleased with what we got done – though it is never enough! There are not enough hours in the days.

But, first – trees! The mulberries are ripe and plentiful. Looked them up and learned they are one of the few berries that provide iron and also vitamin K. Amanda, next door with Louisville Lots of Food, says there is a white mulberry down the street. The birds are loving the berries. There are a couple of mockingbirds that entertain us pretty regularly.


The Catalpa is also blooming. The flowers are lovely – they look like orchids – and they smell great. The long bean pods are interesting too. Apparently, the Catalpa is the sole source of food for the catalpa sphinx moth. Their caterpillars make good bait for fishing and, according to the internet, some people plant Catalpas just for that reason. I’ve never heard or seen that.


Nature aside, we did work on the building this weekend. It’s starting to get warm so we want to get the last of the inside cleaning out done before it’s sweltering.

We’ve been cited for having unpainted plywood on the front of the windows (and elsewhere – but everywhere else is done). We’d been debating what to do with the windows since we will be replacing them with the correct size and didn’t want to waste time and resources beautifying something impermanent. They’re a little difficult to reach too since our scaffolding was stolen. I wish I had a good before picture because I’m pleased with how they turned out.

We removed the old plywood and pulled out the small vinyl replacement windows. The old framing is intact! And – it is curved which is really pretty. We’ll probably still have to replace it completely, but it is nice when the original elements survive. I leaned out the window to paint the trim (I don’t advise this). And, now they have temporary covers which should be fine until we get the replacement windows or build the shutters. The shutters will probably come first.


From the outside….much better! I love how these buildings really considered air flow and light. We don’t intend to install A/C so that’s important.


Oh – we also got some of the fence up. One step closer to bringing Sally with us. I’m kind of loving this lattice – which surprises me. There are green beans planted in front and Mexican sunflowers. I’m hoping they’ll come along even in the clay soil. Still have to get a gate up – but that will probably be next weekend.

New Fence

And…building some exterior solar lights – an experiment. Coming soon.

The Fugitive

It’s been a beautiful stretch of weather the past few days! We did some glazing and managed to get some of the plywood off the front windows. Two down  – one more to go. There’s still glass in one of the panes that’s covered with plywood. Just need to track down some glass we can recycle for the last one – then we’ll have light!


Also did some planting – so it needs to rain soon. Can’t believe I’m saying that – wish I’d gotten this done before last week. We also put the posts up for the fence – pretty excited about that! It’s going to look great.






And then Sally can come with us to work!


We also captured a critter. A groundhog. Also known as a “whistle-pig”. They’re everywhere around here. This one was pretty young. It had been sneaking in through a hole in the side which has since been repaired. We put it in a barrel. Unfortunately, it got out. The hunt continues.



Not cool. Who knew they were such escape artists? Groundhogs are rodents and are a type of Marmot (which is also a brand of ski-wear – not to be confused with Groundhog ski-wear). They’re accomplished swimmers and can climb trees – curious fact – obviously a new one on us. I can’t say I have ever seen a groundhog in a tree.

Groundhogs are used in medical research on hepatitis B-induced liver cancer. When infected with woodchuck hepatitis B virus, they are at 100% risk for developing liver cancer, making them a good model for testing hepatitis B and liver cancer therapies. That’s kind of sad.

Robert Frost wrote a poem about them – apparently as imagery for his emotional reticence:

The Drumlin Woodchuck

One thing has a shelving bank,
Another a rotting plank,
To give it cozier skies
And make up for its lack of size.

My own strategic retreat
Is where two rocks almost meet,
And still more secure and snug,
A two-door burrow I dug.

With those in mind at my back
I can sit forth exposed to attack
As one who shrewdly pretends
That he and the world are friends.

All we who prefer to live
Have a little whistle we give,
And flash, at the least alarm
We dive down under the farm.

We allow some time for guile
And don’t come out for a while
Either to eat or drink.
We take occasion to think.

And if after the hunt goes past
And the double-barreled blast
(Like war and pestilence
And the loss of common sense),

If I can with confidence say
That still for another day,
Or even another year,
I will be there for you, my dear,

It will be because, though small
As measured against the All,
I have been so instinctively thorough
About my crevice and burrow.


Frost_RobertAn interesting guy, Frost. I like what he said, “It is the hard fate of the unworldly to have to be more worldly than the worldly sometimes to make up for the other times when they are less worldly.” Here’s an excellent essay about him. “A Drumlin Woodchuck” is from the book THE POETRY OF ROBERT FROST edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright © 1923, 1928, 1934, 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, copyright © 1936, 1942, 1951, 1956, 1962 by Robert Frost, copyright © 1970 by Lesley Frost Ballantine.

Rain, rain, and more rain….and a worm

Not much happening with this weather…here are some songs with rain in them:

Purple Rain – Prince
Red Rain – Peter Gabriel
It’s Raining Men – Weathergirls
Feels Like Rain – John Hiatt/Buddy Guy
Singin’ in the Rain – Gene Kelly
Kentucky Rain – Elvis
The Rain – Missy Elliot

That’s the extent of my “rain” library. I know there are more – these are just what comes to mind.

We didn’t get much done last weekend due to work schedules, weather, and teenager/s….

FoundationBut, we did do some digging for the foundation – prepping for tuck-pointing. We have to take the dirt down about a foot – over the years it has risen to cover the foundation and brick – which would ultimately wreak havoc.




And, here’s a fine specimen of a worm – a big, healthy worm.

Mr Worm
Always makes me happy to find them. Although what we’re digging is mostly clay. Amazing they find their way through this. Even after a hard rain, it’s dry and compact. I’ve always thought Kentucky clay could make great earthenware things – I’m sure someone is doing that. Well – I googled it. Maybe not. But, there is a Kentucky company that sells Kentucky and Tennessee clay:  Old Hickory Clay Company.

Also, earthworms have special cells that can sense light (they have no eyes) and they have five hearts. They breathe through their skin and need 40% moisture. They have gizzards like a chicken.


Sometimes it has to be the little things

It’s frustrating when we can’t move quickly enough – which is most of the time!

So – now’s the perfect opportunity to savor some little things.

Like the wild daisy/aster things that are considered weeds but look lovely. Though we’ll have to mow them down or be cited for not keeping the grass cut. Which is sad, because:  “Scientists have found that wild daisies grow in lawns that are deficient in lime. The daisies somehow collect or manufacture and store lime in their tissue. When the daisies die, the lime is deposited in the topsoil. This continues until the lime becomes sufficient for the lawn, then the wild daisies disappear.[

Read more:

Pretty cool. I do believe we’ll mow around them.


Then there’s the hinge we unearthed. Sadly, we won’t be using these everywhere, but at least we know what they used to be in this building.


And, then there’s the simple accomplishment of removing plywood to get the glass in – let there be light! Plus – I’ve learned to cut glass and think it’s kind of fun.


Finally – we found a 1934 wheat penny yesterday. Just laying on the ground in the area where we’ve been working on the foundation. Sometimes after a hard rain, things just float up. Sadly, even with readers we had to use the eyes of the teenager to get the date.

219,080,000 wheat pennies were minted in 1934 – according to….in case you wondered.




Spring cleaning

Busy weekend. As always. Derby, junk set-out, gardening. We totally missed the Derby because we were working. Too beautiful a day to stay inside.

Finally got the concrete block side completely cleaned out – except for some things going to Goodwill. Everything takes longer than preferred, but it’s looking good.


Before 040613

Boarded up windows. Junk knee-high. The stormwater drains backed up a couple of years ago and flooded the front area. Everything that was stored in there was ruined (not our stuff – previous inhabitants) and left to disintegrate. Pretty nasty and very dark.


After 0514

Very satisfying to let some light in – now time to get busy figuring out what to do in this space. 🙂

Now, back to tuckpointing and cleaning out the loft area. We have a new plan for the back. Can’t wait to get that completely cleared and ready for whatever is next!