Archive for July, 2008

links for 2008-07-29

July 29, 2008 at 5:31 pm Leave a comment

Egg Drop Contest Entry

In the comment feed of my The Great Craft Explosion post, we had some discussion about a metal chickadee that was on my deck. It’s a really cool outdoor candle holder that Sean’s mother got me a few years back. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one that thought it was cool. A bunch of yellow jackets claimed squatter’s rights and built themselves a nest inside.

So…. yesterday, noting that a nest of yellow jackets in the middle of the deck probably won’t be appealing to prospective house buyers, I decided I needed to get rid of them. But the question was how?!?! In the past few weeks, I had noted that the yellow jackets had very little interest in stinging me. But still, it wasn’t something I wanted to tempt them with.

In January, Penn and I played a game of soccer using gravity as an opponent. And as frequently as I drop things, gravity is not always my friend. But with my yellow jacket situation, I joined forces with gravity and it became my ally. I slowly picked up the metal chickadee and then (not so slowly) threw it off the deck.

Boy, were those buggers surprised!
Nest after gravity

I wasn’t entirely certain about my next step, but I did know it involved a can of Raid. I waited for the surprised swarm to calm down, then I walked down the stairs to inspect the aftermath of my Shock and Awe Campaign. What I saw absolutely amazed me.

Even though I threw that thing off the roof of my house, it had impacted the ground and rolled across the grass, the nest was 100% in tact. AND the yellow jackets were back to work, tending to their eggs like nothing had happened.

The candle holder also survived the fall, but I expected that. It’s very solidly built. With the nest, I was dumbfounded. I expected total devastation. Yellow jackets, it seems, are marvelous engineers. I was so impressed with the handiwork of the yellow jackets and their work ethic, I aborted the Raid phase of my operation. I decided that I would let the yellow jackets live.

But obviously, the middle of my side yard isn’t the best place either. So I picked up their nest (my trust level in the yellow jackets grows with every encounter) and placed it in the woods in my backyard. And despite what happened the last time I picked up their nest, the yellow jackets stayed hard at work and did not sting me. They rule.

New home for the yellow jackets

I can not state enough how amazed I am that their nest survived. Have you ever seen those Egg Drop competitions? The Blacksburg library does it annually for children, but I’ve also heard of college Physics and Engineering Departments doing it too. Basically, you aim to build a contraption that will protect an egg from shattering upon a fall. People come with crazy designs:

Egg Drop Entries at Colorado University (Photos by AMagill)

Egg Drop Contests always sounded interesting, but I never really knew where to begin in regards to a design. Now, I have inspiration…from nature. 🙂

Vicky’s Egg Drop Entry

July 28, 2008 at 12:10 pm 16 comments

Reaching Wallpaper

Today was another busy day of working on the house. Most of the day involved packing, painting prep and actual painting, but I did tackle another type of task. In my upstairs hallway, I had some wallpaper that was falling down.

That wallpaper that needs fixing is like…high up!

But it was over my stairwell. Since I don’t have a stairwell friendly ladder and my arms have a limit to their scope, I wasn’t sure how to reach that wallpaper to apply more adhesive. So I pondered….

How do I reach that wallpaper behind me?

And I devised a plan. I took the extended handles for my paint roller, some packing tape and an old sponge brush to fashion myself a custom wallpaper glue distribution device.

My concoction and Jimmie (Tried and true still)

It worked out great. I put the glue on my little sponge and used that to spread adhesive on the wall and the back of the wallpaper. I ended up putting the roller back on the other end and that worked wonderfully to smooth the paper back on the wall. And with that, I was able to cross another item off my list.


Now as far as innovation goes, I think “taping a brush to a paint roller” is far beneath thru-hiker territory. But you know what IS innovative?

Me still finding stuff to post about when all I’m doing is painting, cleaning and packing. 🙂

July 26, 2008 at 11:57 pm 5 comments

Bye Bye Sectional

Today I said goodbye to the sectional sofa. I sold it a young woman and this morning her parents drove from Rocky Mount, Virginia to get it. They backed their pickup truck into my driveway, we opened the garage door and almost simultaneously the three of us realized just how small the bed of the pickup truck was.

We stared at the couch.

“I didn’t expect it to be so big,” the father said.

We all three continued to stare at the couch.

“I might have to make two trips,” the father said.

Crap, I thought. The couple lived an hour and a half away. Six hours for *my* couch?!? I was going to lose this sale.

But then man started to pace around the garage, cock his head and size everything up. Suddenly I noticed his hat. It read Mt. Katahdin.

“Are you an AT hiker?!?” I asked.

“Yup,” he replied as he directed his attention to the pickup truck, “I thru hiked in ’99. Hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

And it was at that moment I had no doubt. This man was going to get that entire couch in one trip. Maybe thru-hikers have an odor about them, but they are also innovative. They know how to tackle challenges. They know how to exceed perceived limits. And they excel at getting things done with the resources they have on hand.

True to form– this thru-hiker got the entire couch in the back of his truck:

Nine years after his thru-hike, “Pilgrim” still finds ways to be innovative

The sectional is ready for the ride home

I suppose it was nothing compared to 2175 miles.  🙂

July 24, 2008 at 4:47 pm 5 comments

Christmas Card Patterns

I love Christmas Card Season. I love writing Christmas cards and I love receiving them as well. So…. it turns out I had quite a collection of Christmas cards to sort through with my move. On a year to year basis, you receive the card, you enjoy it and you move on. But when you are presented with roughly nine years of cards, suddenly patterns emerge. Here are a few trends I noted:

Stacy always sends a funny card.

Tony Airaghi always thanks me for my friendship.

Kim Kalten (my old boss’s wife) consistently misspells my name (not a big deal– I don’t mind when people misspell my name).

Whoops, I didn’t realize Kim always misspells my names until I saw cards from multiple years.

June Randolph always tells me how much she misses my grandmother (I miss my grandmother too).

I get a lot of love from my friends’ parents. Brian V’s parents, Brian N’s parents and Stacy‘s parents all write wonderfully detailed messages.

A lot of people reuse the same cards from year to year including my grandmother, the Phelps, Virtual IT.

Roanoke-based companies really like that Christmas card that features the Roanoke Star. I had roughly eight of those.

Dave and Monica always include a “Go Hokies!” somewhere in their card.

AE’s mother likes to underline the message in the card for emphasis.

Three years in a row — underlining the message

It was an interesting exercise. And great timing! After a five year hiatus, the St. Jude’s Ranch of Children started accepting recycled card fronts again this summer. So my Christmas cards, or rather the fronts of those cards, have a destination!

July 17, 2008 at 10:12 am 7 comments

The Great Craft Explosion

In continued preparation for putting my house on the market and moving, today I went through all my craft supplies. I organized them all on the deck of the house…which is very good because it turns out I needed a lot of real estate. After pitching the garbage, consolidating my supplies, and preparing donations to both the Friends of the Pine Ridge Reservation Sewing Groups and Arts and Scraps, I am left with an inventory that is much more manageable.

Below are some pictures of the process. Just like with measuring trees, Jimmie comes in handy to give perspective.

Here is what I started with. A myriad of storage methods– including trash bags

As I unpacked and organized, the supplies started to expand across the deck. They took up a LOT of surface area!

I was busy toiling over my task. Meanwhile, Henry and Jimmie found a comfortable spot to lay.

And the grand finale– what’s left after my donations and reorganization!

Next up…. my “Special Box” (which actually constitutes more than one box and even more random stacks of papers)

July 14, 2008 at 11:04 pm 18 comments

Aww for the Day – July 13, 2008

Actually this is more like the “Fuck Yeah!” moment of the day:

That is my new toilet in the guest bathroom…flushing. Better yet– it is flushing without any leaks!!!! I installed it today. The most difficult part was getting the water intake valve on the new toilet. I kept trying to turn it clockwise.  Turns out– you want to turn it counter clockwise. It is SO much easier when you are turning it the right way. 😉

With the toilet in, all I have left is putting in some cord trim by the cabinet and putting the door back on.


July 13, 2008 at 9:18 pm 13 comments

Virginia Appalachian Trail Plate = REALITY!!!!!

Heard from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy! They needed 350 pre-paid applications to make the Virginia Appalachian Trail License Plate a reality.

They have 387!!!!!

387 > 350.


So this means that I WILL be getting my AT License Plate featuring beautiful, McAfee’s Knob.

If you are jealous and live in Virginia, no worries. You can fill in an application for your plate at any time.

July 11, 2008 at 10:06 am 3 comments

Aww for the Day – July 9, 2008

Mike E’s dog recently had 10 puppies.  Here is a picture of one.  Isn’t it just so precious looking?!?!?!?!  And I bet it smells like puppy too!  And it’s fur is probably so soft and kissable!

Aww……. (Photo by Mike E)

If you happen to be interested in one of the puppies, let me know and I’ll be happy to coordinate.  The mother is a very fit hound dog, so I bet these little guys will make great hiking companions.  🙂

July 9, 2008 at 9:35 am 12 comments

Aww for the Day – July 7, 2008

This evening I was driving to Larry’s house and I ran across this in Ellett Valley:

Aww…A doe with THREE fawns.

Of course, it may not be as exciting or rare as a Unicorn Deer (HT ideonexus), but you can’t deny these three guys are cute.

July 7, 2008 at 6:49 pm 6 comments

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