Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Computer Difficulties

For the past few weeks, I have been having trouble with my laptop. 

Most of my computer issues are caused by cats in my lap while I'm working.  Those little feet can cause a lot of chaos by pressing keys and clicking things.  Alice is especially good at 'helping'.

The problem started fairly innocently.  Sometimes when I was running on battery power, my laptop would shut down without warning.  I would restart, and continue as normal.  This began happening more and more often, to the point where I only felt secure using it while plugged in.  Soon, the problem progressed to the point where the laptop would shut down WHENEVER the cord became disengaged.

This was not a battery issue.  The battery is relatively new, charges well, and is making good contact.

These photos were taken while I was ACTUALLY working on this post.

It's really handy to have a computer guy in the house.  On Monday, The Husband called Dell to try to diagnose the problem.  The guy from tech support was patient and helpful, and the he and The Husband ran various diagnostic programs to test different possibilities.  One test caused a flashing error code ... which the Dell guy translated to mean that I had a defective hard drive.

The Dell guy recommended that we back up the information on my hard drive while we still had access to it.  I already had a back up on an external hard drive, but it was a few months old, so a new back up was started almost immediately.

See?  Alice is helping me type.

My new hard drive arrived yesterday morning, free of charge, via overnight express.  (My laptop is just under two years old, and apparently is still under warranty.  Yippee!!)  It took The Husband a few hours to do whatever he had to do to put my old data onto the new drive ... and I'm pleased to say that this new drive works PERFECTLY!!!  All he has to do now is wipe the old drive clean and send it back to Dell.

This brings up a very important issue ... what would I have done if my drive had just died, since my back-up was not up to date?  All of the photos and documents and stuff here on this computer is so fragile and fleeting, and I would be beyond disappointed if it had vanished.  Thank goodness we didn't have to deal with a situation so dire.

Have you backed up your hard drive lately?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Greenhouse ...The Final Push Toward Winter

We have been really fortunate here in Virginia during November, enjoying above average temperatures for most of the month.  This has helped a bit to ease my stress over the delays I have faced in getting the windows in my greenhouse installed, so I can have the building reasonably sealed against the cold (and the plants tucked safely inside) before winter REALLY arrives. 

It's been almost two weeks since I have had a chance to work on this.  Our Greyhounds Rock canine cancer benefit was two weeks ago, and I was in Key West on vacation last week.  Yesterday was a beautiful day ... perfect for trying to get the east wall of the greenhouse finished. 

I left this wall for last because it's the one that requires the most ingenuity, head scratching, and time.  The large spaces in the framing on this wall are sized to use windows that I already have, but it leaves a narrow, odd-sized space at each corner to fill.  I don't have windows for these spaces yet, but I will ... I know I will find something.  In the meantime, the openings have to be sealed and for now I'm using pieces of greenhouse plastic.  I will also put plastic in the space over the door.

These screw holes will all be filled and sanded before the greenhouse is painted next spring.

With the plastic stapled in place, and the trim boards installed, I made fairly quick work of installing the first two pairs of windows on this wall.  

.... and then the third pair.  Windows, finished!

With the windows in place, I set to work installing some 2x4 framing below them to hold the plywood sheathing that gets installed on the bottom of the wall.  By the time the sun was setting, I had finished the sheathing on wall to the left of the door ... removing the ventilation shutters in that space and reinstalling them over the plywood.  I also stapled the plastic into the space above the door, and installed a piece of trim to form the door header.  (No photos of these steps, because it was too dark by the time I finished for the day ... damn these short winter days!)

If the rain that the weatherman has predicted for today holds off till this afternoon, I hope to get the sheathing installed on the wall to the right side of the door, and then I'll see if The Husband can give me a hand reinstalling the door itself.  (It's really heavy.)  If the rain comes too soon, there is plenty to do inside the greenhouse ... I can start to clean up my mess, organize my tools, and maybe get some of my shelves reinstalled on the walls.

I have to get all of this cleared out and cleaned up. 
(I found that a trash can makes a pretty good stand for my miter saw.)

I think I have two more days of work before I can finally close the door on a greenhouse that is ready to keep out the winter cold.  Even then, there will be a LOT of work left to do in springtime, with trim and caulk and paint, to make this the showpiece that I see in my imagination.

If you are visiting from one of the link parties and haven't seen what it took to get the greenhouse to this point, click the 'Greenhouse Windows' label below to get all the posts in this series.

Edited at 8:06am to add:  The rain is here, and the map on makes it look as if it will continue for most of the day, so I will be working on the inside.  I'm almost glad that the weather has forced me to take time to make order out of the mess.  It doesn't hurt that a nice, dry greenhouse is a great place to spend a rainy day.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

A New Adventure

"Promise me you'll always remember:
You're Braver than you believe, and Stronger
than you seem, and Smarter than you think."
- Christopher Robin to Pooh

Last month, in THIS post, I introduced you to my plan to refinish and resell furniture ... as a way to clear some of my 'treasures' around here and to channel my creative, junk-hunting energies into something besides collecting.  Initially, I was thinking that I could sell stuff piece by piece, or hold sales here.  I quickly realized that there was a better way ... and I went in search of a booth at an antique mall. 

Before we went on vacation last week, I spent a couple of days scoping out various locations here in Fredericksburg.  Our downtown is an antique shopping bonanza, so there should have been no shortage of great spaces to choose from.  Most of the shops had space available, but I wasn't jazzed with the atmosphere, or the other items available in the spaces.  Nothing seemed to be a good fit.

While visiting my parents in Culpeper, I stopped into the Minuteman Mini Mall ... which has always been one of my favorite places to waste time and shop.  I've shopped there ever since my parents moved to Culpeper in 1996, and I have never been in there alone ... there are always other shoppers in the building.  I talked to the manager, liked everything he had to say, and he showed me the three large spaces that were available ... one of which was the absolute perfect space for me!

So, Friends, I guess I am now an official antiques dealer ... with my own 10 x 11 foot space to do with as I please ... which, you have probably figured out, is the space shown in all of the photos in this post.  All of the items you see are consignment items, and they will be cleared out by the time I take possession of the space on December 1.

The space needs some freshening up, and I will accomplish this with a coat of paint on the walls and shelves.  I'm leaning toward a warm medium gray, with white shelves.  This should provide a good background for my pale painted pieces.  Beyond this, I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do ... I almost feel as if I'm making this up as I go along.

The quote that I used to start this post is one of my favorites, and it accurately portrays what I am telling myself these days ... as I make this leap into the retail antiques market.  I admit that I felt a not-so-small twinge as I signed the six-month lease for this new space of mine.  I'm pretty sure that I'm in the right place at the right time ... I keep telling myself this.

Any advice and/or reassurance you have to offer will be really appreciated.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Key West, Days 4, 5, and 6

After my last post about Day 3 of our vacation in Key West, Internet access became spotty, then it vanished all together.  For this reason, I'm going to give you the remaining three days all at once, to finish this up.

Days 4 dawned the same way as Day 3, and Day 2 (and Day 1, for that matter) ... sunny and breezy and warm.  I could seriously get used to an island climate and lifestyle in the winter.  Our first stop was a treat for the plant geeks in our group, the Key West Botanical Garden.

The garden is well laid out, with a wonderful variety of plants and displays.  Photographing it, however, is really difficult ... it is the same difficulty I have when photographing any sort of garden.  It's hard for photos to accurately show what my eyes and mind see.  In photos, it's just a green jumble ... in person, it's a delight.

We saw wildlife, too.


Feral rooster.

The botanical garden has a very poignant exhibit of actual Cuban refugee boats.  Some of the boats were regular wooden boats, fitted with what looked like tractor engines and additional boyancy provided by tubes filled with spray foam.  One boat was made entirely from tarps, rebar, and spray foam.  I marveled at the faith (and desperation) of the Cubans who set sail across the 90 mile channel toward the US in these boats.

Food is always a large part of any vacation.  We had lunch this day at a Key West landmark, Pepe's.  

The atmosphere was wonderful ... eating outdoors on the patio under the branches of a large tree. Our server was really sweet, and the food and drinks (fish sandwich with macaroni salad and a blackberry peach Mojito) was my favorite of the whole trip.
my view looking up from my seat at Pepe's.

Our check was brought in this worn wooden tray with the mouse trap!

We made a quick stop at another historic site, Truman's Little White House.

It was neat to read the exhibits to see how President Truman and other US Presidents used this place to relax while conducting the nation's business.

Here is another graphic example of what a houseplant (for me here in Virginia) can do in its native habitat.  This Golden Pothos has wound its way up almost to the top of this huge tree!  Whenever I saw things like this, I tried not to stand there like a doofus tourist with my mouth hanging open.

The arrow shows how far the pothos is in this tree.

Early evening was all about watching the sunset at Mallory Square.  This is where the cruise ships dock in Key West.

While we were out on the pier waiting for the sun to set, we were entertained by this pelican flying back and forth diving for fish.

As you can see, the sunset was worth the wait!

Christmas lights in the tropics!  I would do this if I had palm trees.

Day 5 was a travel day.  We bid goodbye to Key West, heading an hour north to Islamorada.  Our lunch stop was Keys Fisheries, home of the Lobster Reuben ... I had lobster tacos instead ... yum.

This was the view from my seat.  Yes, everything really is THAT blue!

We stopped at World Wide Sportsman for a bit of shopping ... and some unexpected sight-seeing.  That boat in the center of the store is the sister ship to one owned by Ernest Hemingway.

I hit the clearance racks and I found a strappy dress in a beautiful tropical floral print that fit me perfectly ... and it was half price!   I also saw these sock monkey Christmas ornaments ... didn't buy one, but I sure thought they were cute.  

We checked into our hotel, The Islander.  It's a lovely older resort, with efficiency rooms that each have a screened lanai that opens onto a central courtyard.  Beach access is a short two minute walk across the resort.  

I spent the remainder of the afternoon on a beach chair in the sunshine with my book.

... and so did The Husband.

All that's missing from this photo is a Corona bottle with a lime wedge in it.

We hopped back into our rental car on the morning of Day 6, heading north to the Everglades Alligator Farm.  Before we got there, we made another stop at Robert is Here, the fabulous fruit stand I showed you on Day 1.  A news guy from Miami was there while we were, and he interviewed our friend Andy about how to keep fruits and veggies fresh longer.  The segment will air today on NBC Miami.

While we were at Robert is Here, we picked up fruit to take home with us.  My carry-on bag will be full of bananas! (and pecans, and avocados, and Key limes, etc.)  My Key Lime milkshake served as lunch.

Next stop, the alligator farm!

We had to look really closely to see if this was a real alligator or not.  I didn't realize how still they are when they're sunning themselves like this.

Even though the farm and its shows were a bit hokey and touristy, I loved it!!  We rode in an airboat, and we saw alligators and all sorts of herons and egrets.

say Cheese!

The alligator feeding show brought a huge concentration of 'gators to the fence for a snack.

The herons at home are really leery of humans.  The ones at the alligator farm appeared to be more used to our presence, and they'd stand right there and let us take their picture.

This huge tortoise had just finished his lunch.

You know I had to snap a photo or two of flowers and butterflies and bees.

After the Snake Show, we had the opportunity to hold one of the Ball Pythons.  I am not at all afraid of snakes, especially nice, cuddly ones, and this one was particularly friendly and well socialized. 

Here's the rest of him in my lap.

This was our last night in the Keys, and we splurged for dinner on the beach at the Morada Bay Beach Club.

How's this for a view from our table?

The idea was to watch the sun set and enjoy each other's company one last time before we headed for home the next morning.  Mission accomplished!

Bye bye, Florida.  We had a wonderful time!

We got home last night at around dinnertime, and Daniel and the kitties were really glad to see us!  I was glad to see them, too.

This morning in Virginia dawned chilly and frosty.  It sure is great to be home!!
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