Incident Report: Chickens vs. Dogs

DSC_3287 Things had been going SO well for a solid three months. Something was bound to happen and I am sorry to say that the incident was entirely my own fault. I try to scoot the coop about a foot or two every day (I’m inching it away from the trees DTE will be removing at some point this summer). Now that there is a new run, it does complicate my coop scooting because they are not connected (and would be too heavy to scoot together anyway). So I scoot the coop about two feet and a chicken sees her opening and dashes out the gap before I can scoot the run to match and close the gap. Nooooooo!

Naturally Daisy, my constant shadow, was right there for the fun. She sees this chicken dash out and go running and she’s all like “oh my gosh fun! Something else running in the yard!” She starts running after it. She made no lunges as though to eat it and had no moves to break it’s neck but she definitely thought this chicken was out to be her new running buddy. And frankly, I don’t trust her at all because she is 60 lbs of enthusiasm for the hen’s 4 lbs of panic. Doesn’t seem life a good ratio at all.


So I start chasing the chicken and the puppy and yelling for Daisy to come or sit or leave it or SOMETHING. The chicken starts squawking and Suzie, who had been napping on the deck, suspects she is missing out on some kind of fun and comes running. I know from past experience that while she may be old and she may be sweet and she may love babies and toddlers, this dog is a trained killer. She learned from the best (Maggie). She can shake and kill innocent creatures in a heartbeat. As Suzie comes running over, I realize this might be it. The day there’s a bloody chicken massacre right before my eyes because I carelessly scooted without thought. The day I have to inform my chicken farm share buddies who love these chickens that I let one die on my watch. Gah! So stupid!


Thankfully we’re right by my garden and I have a row of fencing for the tomatoes to grow up. With a dog coming toward her from either direction, the hen tries to hide under the tomato plant and I catch up with her there- pushing her against the fence with one hand to keep her from dashing away before I can rescue her. I manage to grab the hen and have her in my arms. “Whew” I think to myself “that was close.” And then Suzie starts jumping up trying to grab her out of my arms.


I shriek for Suzie to stop as I raise the chicken over my head. “No Suzie! No! Sit! SIT! NO!!!”  As I dash for the coop holding a chicken over my head and yelling at my dog I realize that this might be what all out insanity looks like. Somehow when you make a decision to get chickens, you never picture this moment. I was just glad none of the neighbors could see me and there are no pictures or videos to share with you. Booyah. Dignity preserved… Okay maybe not. But no chickens were harmed in the losing of my dignity, so that’s something.


I managed to hold the chicken over my head, keep the dog off me, open the nesting box latch, and pop the chicken back into the coop. I wish I could say I felt like some kind of super hero. Instead I just felt ridiculous as I realized that this is the life I have created for myself.

The Lazy Solution

DSC_1449There I was, at home after being gone for a glorious long weekend, and trying to finish a sewing project that is supposed to be a gift for a bridal shower in two days (no pressure, right?).

The project half sewn together when I needed to iron several parts in order to finish. I grab the iron, plug it in and wait for it to warm up. <crickets> It doesn’t warm up at all. Stone cold. Hmm. I turn it on and off about 19 times, put it on different settings, plug it into a different outlet all to no avail. Noooooooooooooooo. This particular iron is rather old, I bought it for $3 from a thrift store when my last iron stopped heating about a year ago. It has worked just fine since I bought it and lived up to it’s $3 price tag quite nicely. Well… until now, on this cold snowy day, when I have an urgent project to finish.


It was still snowing outside and having braved the roads home from work, I knew it wasn’t pretty. Not to mention cold and gross. And there’s that gift I need to finish tonight. I calculated driving to a nearby store, the fact that it would take a chunk out of my evening and I just did not want to go out.


I begin to wonder if a pancake griddle can work as a reverse iron. And then I notice a little screw on the bottom of the iron. Can’t hurt to open it up and have a look-see, right? I assume, of course, that I will just open it up, admit defeat, and put on my snow boots and head to the closest store that could sell me an iron…


ironfix2Lucky for me, I never put my drill away, so it was within reach and seconds later I’ve removed the screw, pulled off the back of the iron and I’m staring at a singed electrical nut. Hmmm. Suspicious. I pull it off, grab my wire cutters, trim the end off a rather messy looking wire, put on a new wire nut, and replace the iron back and screw. 2 minutes (most of which was spent locating my wire nuts and wire cutters).


As I was screwing the iron back together I had to chuckle as I realized what I was actually doing. My dad and his dad have been known to take apart appliances for years to repair them. Spending far more time and energy than the appliance is worth in many cases. I have been made to poke fun at this very tendency. And yet there I was, doing exactly the same thing. It’s a family thing I guess.


ironfix3After that two minute fix, I had a working iron again (which still feels rather miraculous) and was able to finish my sewing project, without a snowy trek to the store. And all in the name of extreme laziness and being unable to escape my last name.
iron fix1

Embracing the Mess

I’ve spoken of Fr. Jacques Philippe before and the profound impact he had on my life. Two years later, I still hear his words echoing in my head on a regular basis “Embrace the poverty.” We all have poverty in our lives and rather than running from it, we need to embrace it and let Jesus use it to transform us.

TDSC_0002his year (okay the last couple years), I’ve been living in a home that is constantly under some kind of renovation. I want it to be Pinterest Perfect at all times. Clean, finished, decorated, cozy, lovely, and a place people want to be. Of course then I think about the places I am most comfortable to be, and not a single one of them is Pinterest Perfect. The places I most enjoy have mail on the counter, kids homework strewn where it doesn’t belong, slipcovers on the couch, dog hair in the corner, laundry out in the open — you get the point. I like to be in the places where real life is happening and people don’t have to be ashamed of that.

DSC_0149I’m not saying we should give up on housekeeping (though my house might make you think I have). I am saying that I am learning to embrace the mess in my life. I still cringe when someone comes through the door and I don’t have it together. When there is a box of home improvement disaster on the kitchen floor. Or that microwave I STILL haven’t installed. I don’t enjoy the mess, but I’m learning to embrace it as part of this life I’ve chosen. I chose the fixer upper, I choose constant improvement, I have an opportunity to embrace the mess, even if it makes me die a little on the inside. Deep breath. I am sometimes amazed when people tell me how much they love my house. They see the progress, the warmth, the comfortable side often while I am cringing about the imperfection.

When the shoe is on the other foot, I love my friends homes. I see the warmth, the reality, the generosity of the people there and never think to scoff at the imperfect nature of the things around me. In fact, I am honored when people tell me they don’t clean for me because they are that comfortable and feel that safe with me visiting. High praise indeed.

So day by day, little by little, I’m killing my inner perfectionist and learning to embrace the mess. Both in my home and in my heart. And embracing the mess, I am embracing my own need for a Savior. Someone loves me in the midst of my mess and gives me Himself. One who calls me to cast off my idea of perfection and embrace His call to holiness, to joy and peace and abundant life. Come Lord Jesus.

Leo and the Interview

My most recent brush with The People of Craigslist seemed worth sharing. I have been wanting to get my mom a canary since her birthday, but they are terribly expensive from a pet store. In the past (many moons ago), there was a “canary guy” in metro Detroit that my aunt referred me to, but I have long since lost his information and maybe he isn’t even dealing canaries anymore.

I had just decided a couple days earlier that I was going to really look for a canary for my mom for Christmas and I was perusing CL (though I’ve never seen a canary up for grabs there before). Why not, though, why not? A couple days after I started looking, up popped an ad for a canary for a very reasonable price. Perfect. I send the email to let them know I’m interested and heard back within a day or two.

Sunday afternoon I get an email asking if I will meet them at Panera at a specified time. Sure. I give my cell number and agree to meet them. I assume, of course, that we’re just meeting in a public place because I could be some creep from the bowels of Craigslist and Panera seems as good a place as any to not be caught alone with me. Makes me feel safe as well, perfect.

So I am sitting there in my car waiting and get the phone call “I’m the guy in the red sweatshirt heading into Panera.” Okay, I’ll be right in. (At this moment it seems kind of like a ransom phone call “Throw your cell phone in the garbage on your way into the building.” Thankfully that didn’t happen). I walk in and Red Sweatshirt and his mousey wife are at a table waiting for me. Uh. I thought we’d exchange cash for a bird in the public parking lot and be done. The wife says, “I really wanted to meet you and make sure you’ll give Leo a good home.”  Ohhhh. So she hesitantly starts asking me about myself and telling me she really, really wants to make sure Leo goes to a good home. Um. What do most people do with canaries?

I smile and tell her I understand, “I have two rescue dogs and know it is important.” (Note: if you are trying to be a fit home for a bird, telling a bird lover about your rescue dogs does not put her at ease.) I told her I was getting it for my mom who recently had my 92 year old grandpa move in with them. She’s had canaries through the years and loves them. They are so cheery with their beautiful singing.

Mousey Wife proceeds to tell me the whole story about how they acquired Leo (I think to appease her guilty conscience about getting rid of him, either that or I was wearing my “Please tell me everything” sign again). She and Red Sweatshirt were at a bird show (his first one — implying clearly it was a regular thing for her – am I the only person who didn’t know there was even such a thing as a bird show??). When they walked in and paid the entrance fee, they got two raffle tickets. On the way there she had JUST told Red Sweatshirt how lucky she always is at raffles. So they won the canary. She leans in for dramatic effect, “the sad part is that I’m really more of a Budgie person, you know, more interactive with my birds.” I nearly laughed out loud but suddenly it all makes sense. She looks like a Budgie person! And her husband looks like a Budgie person’s husband. Incredible!

She tells me a few tidbits about canaries: “He puffs up his feathers at night.” I tell her about my mom’s old canary who used to sing at night if the moon was bright enough. “Oh I ALWAYS cover my birds at night.” Mmm hmm. Us too, obviously. “Leo sings as soon as it is light, but I haven’t heard him at night.” “Great.” There are a lot of awkward moments in this conversation because we don’t know each other and, while she claims to be very interactive with her birds, I don’t think she’s really practiced at interaction with people.

“Do you want to meet him?” She asks me, expectantly. Um yes, that is why I’m here – it’s actually what I thought I’d be doing 10 minutes ago. As we are heading out the door, Red Sweatshirt turns toward me (without making eye contact) and says, “We call him Leo, but it’s short for ‘Leonardo DeFinchio’ even though we know he’s not a finch.” Awkward chortle. Ah. I see what you did there buddy.

So we go out to the cold car where Budgie Lady has got a towel wrapped around the small bird cage. She uncovers him and we stand there in the cold looking at a very canary looking canary. “Great. He’s very pretty, looks good” I say. I’m not sure what she wants me to say here. I’m ready to close the deal and get out of there. Budgie is still looking at me expectantly. “He looks perfect! We had a canary that looks a lot like this a long time ago. (long awkward pause)… Why don’t I pull my car over so I don’t freeze him walking across the parking lot.” As I walk away, I hear her say to Red Sweatshirt “Yeah, I like her.” Whew.

I come back with the car, hand her the cash, and put Leo in the car with me. I wish them a Happy Thanksgiving and thank them. They were so weird about the good bye, about handing over the bird, about being at Panera and interviewing me. Ah well, I think, The People of Craigslist. What did I expect?

Of course then I get series of texts later that evening:
“I forgot to give you the canary food I have left.”
“I can give you our address so you can come get it.”
“I would really like to know how your mom likes Leo. Please let me know.”

Oh boy. This is beginning to feel like a relationship. I opt for buying a bag of canary food (instead of another awkward encounter). Leo delights the dogs and I for a few days and sings beautifully whenever it is light. Great. Just what I was looking for. He does indeed puff up his feathers at night. I bring him over for my mom and she teared up. “It’s perfect!” You gotta love when a gift is well received, especially one that was so awkward to acquire.

A couple days later, a friend and I were out doing a bit of shopping and we are at Lowes. We’ve each gotten our few items and we’re sociably walking toward the cash register… I stopped. There, in a Lowes vest, is Red Sweatshirt. Nooooooo. My pretty imaginary world came crashing down. I prefer to believe that The People of Craigslist don’t actually co-exist in my world unless I purposely encounter them. Sigh. Apparently that isn’t the case. And since that isn’t the case, my friend and I went the long way to the cash register and I explained why once we were safely in the car.

Even funnier is thinking back on our family’s bird history and the things I opted NOT to share with The People of Craigslist. Like that time a few of my younger siblings had budgies. And my impulsive 12 year old brother walked out the back door with a Budgie on his shoulder, right into the waiting jowls of the cats that hung out right at that door on the walls leading to the door. Mmm hmm. I don’t think Budgie Lady would approve at all. I also didn’t tell her the last canary I remember having (while I still lived there anyway) who sang beautifully in the window for years… until a certain barn cat somehow got into the house and ate him. Again, I’m not sure I would have been “approved” for bird ownership if I had told the entire story. Thankfully, no one asked for ALL of the particulars of my bird history and I certainly wasn’t going to volunteer those details.

Leo is now happily ensconced in a large cage, surrounded by spider plants, and sings his heart out at the Bon Terre Homestead amidst the chaos. He brightens my mom’s days and anyone else around to hear him. Absolutely delightful. Leo
So I got both a bird AND an awesome story out of that hour of awkwardness. Booyah.

End of Summer

DSC_8680There are very few times in my life where I flaunt the joys of being single, because frankly, I’d give anything to be married with a family of my own. But in the interest of embracing the joys in my particular situation, here’s today’s happy thought: I don’t have to end summer just because everyone else’s kids are back in school.

You may be ending your summer, and that is all well and good, but I’m going to hang onto it as long as I possibly can. And since Obedience School is the only schooling that will be happening in our household in the near future, we can just pretend fall isn’t barreling toward us at the speed of light. We are in happy denial and plan to live up summer until the bitter end (or until September 22nd since I’m told the first day of fall is Sept 23rd this year). Mmm hmm. That leaves me just a couple more weeks to summer it up big time.

End of Summer List (started a few weeks ago):
– Host Irish Park 2.0 – done!
– Plant a tree or bush over Maggie’s grave
– Take my water loving dogs to a lake, somewhere, somehow
– Finish painting the kitchen cabinet doors (I’m giving myself to the end of September for this one)
– Get an estimate to have someone else paint my outdoor trim (not saying I won’t end up doing it myself, but I’d like to know what I’m worth)
– Organize yard and garden stuff in the barn
– Install microwave
– Can peaches – done!
– Can salsa – done!
– Can tomatoes
– Pick raspberries (not in my yard)
– Cage new orchard trees (to protect from deer)
– Install farm gates – done!
– Re-hang gate near garage
– drink sangria on the deck
– Train Daisy how to fetch for real (as in bring the ball back and then drop it!)
– Bonfires
– Munchkin camp out – done!

Happy Summer!


I’ve long thought we should start a series called #honestproject just to keep it real around here on the interwebs where perfection or at least showing perfection seems to be the thing to do. Sadly I’m really bad at the perfection thing (although I want to master it somehow) and I’m fairly good at the real, nitty, gritty messy parts of life.

So today, in the spirit of #honestproject, I think you should know:
BestiesThis past Sunday was one of those CRAZY days. Mass where a recently ordained deacon friend of mine preached, brunch for 40 at my house (my family and my second family), from there to a pool party with friends (some of whom had been at brunch), and then a BBQ at my aunt’s house (immediate and extended family). Crazy, crazy, wonderful, peopled out, fun day.
So I get home somewhere around 9.30 pm to feed my dogs and unwind a bit. And as I’m cleaning my kitchen (ish) I notice that container of black raspberries I need to deal with. I considered freezing them but then thought I’d be up for awhile, why not make a batch of black raspberry syrup while I’m tasking and relaxing this evening. How could I go wrong, right? I admit the sane (and tired) side of me had my doubts that this was a good idea. However, the “I can do anything” side of me won out and I rinsed the berries, threw them into a pan with water and sugar and set it on simmer.
I finished loading the dishwasher, settled a few puppy shenanigans, and sat down on the couch to watch some TV and put my feet up. I got up and stirred the syrup mix a few times and it was coming along but not done. The sitcom ended and I was up doing a bit more clean up and checking on the syrup. Still needed to cook a bit. So I threw in some laundry, brushed my teeth, started the dishwasher, took the dogs out for their final pee, crated them, turned off lights, and went to bed. And slept like a dead person.
DSC_4104Until 7 am when I woke up smelling something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. What is that smell…. ooooohhhhhhhhh noooooooooooo. I raced down the stairs, where, sure enough, the “syrup” was still simmering. Only there wasn’t much liquid left and it was one large congealed mass of burned smelling dark berry infused sugar scorch. Mmmm. (Did I mention I basically did this to pasta just the day before? Trying to cook lunch while installing gates?)  Anyway, the whole house smells rather bad, but I’m grateful the syrup was on the lowest setting, that it didn’t burst into flames and set off any alarms, and that it is an old pot that I have no intention of cleaning. It could be worse.
In fact, my biggest regret is wasting 4 cups of delicious black raspberries! Oh and being dumb enough to try multi tasking after a full day like that. Nice job Reenie. But I suppose we all have to fail sometimes and I have decided in the interest of honesty, I ought to occasionally share these mishaps since they make up a rather large percentage of my life. I just wish I could share the smell because that really does say it all.
And yes, my patio door is that dirty.

The Great Infusion Experiment

You know those moments when brilliant inspiration strikes and you are compelled to run with it. Let me introduce you to my newest hobby: fruit infused alcohol. A hobby? you ask. Yes, a hobby. We all need hobbies, right? It all started last summer when I had a small container of black raspberries at the end of the season. I’d already canned a lot of them and this wasn’t enough to do much with… EXCEPT put into a jar and pour vodka over. A month later, I strained out the berries and the resulting black raspberry vodka was excellent. So… this spring I was putting up strawberries. I’d made a bunch of jam, frozen some, and suddenly remembered the black raspberry vodka from last summer… I wonder…

And of course, if you ever wonder anything, you turn to the interwebs. Lo and behold, I can’t even say I read a full article or post, because one line stood out “You can basically infuse most berries or fruit in most kinds of (unflavored) alcohol…” I got no further as my mind exploded with the possibilities. The best part is, I don’t really drink much in the way of hard liquor. There are bottles in that cabinet that have been there for years and never get finished. But for some reason this whole idea of fruit infusing them has peaked my interest. MUST FRUIT INFUSE ALL THE ALCOHOL! I had bottles of vodka, rum, and gin. I CAN INFUSE THEM ALL.


I washed and cut up a bunch of strawberries and put a couple inches of cut up strawberries into each quart jar. Next I added the alcohol – a different kind in each jar: vodka, rum, and gin. (I also remembered to label which was which, amazingly enough). The interwebs indicated you could put them in the fridge or in a cabinet to give them time to infuse for an unspecified amount of time. “Try it at various stages” someone said. Although this sounds like a great suffering, I will do what I must.

fruit infus1

A few days later I picked mulberries. I made cobbler and, as you may have guessed, more fruit infusion! Vodka and rum, one small jar of each. The grocery store had raspberries for $1 a pint, so I threw a few of those in jars with alcohol. And yesterday I picked black raspberries and started a few more jars (and have apparently used all of the unflavored alcohol in the house). I think I’m gonna need to go get more because clearly this fruit infusion thing is picking up speed at the Little House.

fruit infuse3

The strawberries have been infusing for about 10 days. The mulberries and raspberries just a week. Last night a couple of my friends came over and we made cocktails. It went something like this:

A shot (ish) of fruit infused vodka (we tried strawberry vodka and mulberry rum – separately)
Top the (small) glass off with 7-up (I suppose it was about 1 part alcohol to 2 parts ice and pop)
Garnish with lime

DELICIOUS!!! So fruity and refreshing. And the smells. Mmmmm. This is nothing like the smell of fake strawberry flavoring – the vodka seriously smelled like a strawberry field on a warm summer day. So my advice to you is to go pick some berries and try it. You won’t regret it. Or come over and hang out with me for cocktails. You can’t go wrong!

I should note that last time I strained the alcohol out of the berries after a month or so, and I’m planning to do that again. I’ll make a drunken cobbler with the berries (we can’t let those go to waste, right?) and then the alcohol lasts longer… or at least until you have some friends over and finish it off.

Welcome to the Great Fruit Infusion of 2015

Summer Fun

DSC_3129Sometimes I feel like life is a lot like tubing. You know, there you are, life jacket on, balancing on a tube, hanging on for dear life. Suddenly the driver of the boat hits the gas with one goal in mind: to get you off the tube. Wait what? Not your experience? Someone took you nice and slow? Never trying to fling you off the tube by going tighter and tighter circles until you were flying sideways across the water, hanging on for dear life, not sure if the tube was going to flip or not? And then sometimes you couldn’t hang on anymore. Or you actually thought it would be safer to let go than continue on this way. Or sometimes, often, it just happened and you found yourself bouncing across the top of the water before finally slowing and sinking into the water. Mmmm water. You float there for a few minutes, while your cousins and friends wave from the boat and your uncle makes a wide circle to come back and get you. This sums up most of my tubing experiences in my young life. My fun uncle was always the one to take us tubing. And his idea of fun was getting people off the tube. Somehow we always clamored for more. “Won’t you please take us tubing again Uncle Glenn???” It didn’t matter that all the muscles in your arms turned to jelly by the end of the week. This was FUN and we weren’t going to miss one single minute of it. And somehow staying on the tube was even more victorious because you were quite sure Uncle Glenn wasn’t going easy on you, he wanted to get you off the tube, and that one time you managed to hang on was worth all the falls. You survived. And by the end of the week of vacation, you are sunburnt, sore all over, and ready for a nice long nap and to recover from all the fun.

DSC_3134Life feels a lot like vacation tubing right now. I am enjoying the beautiful sunshine and feel like I am hanging on for dear life, having the time of my life, hurting all over, and raring to go again the next day. My weeks are insane. Work is crazy busy- all day I’m on the phone, managing projects, directing the intern and asking questions, keeping my boss on task, and basically losing my mind. And so very thankful for the work in front of me, the people I work with, the clients I serve, and that work is plentiful and something I am good at and enjoy doing. I do not take that for granted for a second. By the end of the day I feel slightly like a zombie stumbling to my car, nervous that my phone will ring again and I may have to talk to another person or think or add one more thing to my to do list. I walk in the door at home to an energetic puppy who must get outside and burn off some energy immediately.
DSC_3196There are days I feel like I cannot accomplish a single thing because of the insanity of the puppy the fact that she will not leave the big dogs alone. Even the big dog who makes it very clear she does not want to be touched. She has boundless energy and not boundless self control. And then she wants to just sit and snuggle with you. She lights up when you enter the room. She grabs a toy and races across the yard playing keep away with imaginary foes while you giggle in delight at her ridiculous antics. Oh the puppy. Gosh I love this nutty animal.
DSC_3165Some day I look around and all I can see are the imperfections. The chores not done. The floor not washed. The laundry not folded. The gates not installed. The trees not cut down. The jungles not reclaimed. I am frustrated by my inability to finish all the projects, all the time. The human frailty. And it can overwhelm me sometimes. And then I’m reminded that I didn’t chose perfection, I chose this. I chose this big, beautiful, neglected yard. I chose this house that is a million projects waiting to happen. I chose this level of commitment and activity. And I am so very grateful for the many, many gifts I experience through it all.
DSC_3151Today I’m thankful for a cute puppy and her crazy, boundless energy. For a gorgeous breezy evening sitting on my deck listening to the birds singing and watching the light fade. For bonfires, pool parties, softball games. I’m thankful for friends, large and small. For the gift and challenge of family. For nieces and nephews, godchildren, munchkins of all shapes and sizes. I’m thankful for a tractor that runs and grass to mow. For berries ripening in the yard. For a comfortable home. I am so very thankful.
DSC_3138This moment is indeed living the dream. This moment is part of the journey to perfection — but not an earthly perfection that will never be within my grasp – but perfection itself. Life in eternity with Love Incarnate. So I’ll take it. I’ll take the exhaustion, the imperfection, the frustrations, the limitations, knowing that in my weakness, His power is made perfect. Come Lord Jesus.
And oh my goodness I love summer, but hang on tight, it’s a wild ride!!!DSC_5292

The Wonder of a Washing Machine

Let me begin by saying that I firmly believe that working laundry facilities are totally worth the hype. Always worth the hype. Last weekend, my washer started leaking water out the bottom. Noooooooooo. As though I didn’t have anything else on my plate. The washer was only a year old when I moved into the house, so I wasn’t expecting some kind of major repair for quite some time. On my first go at the repairs, I checked all the hoses (which would have been the cheap / easy fix). No dice. I always use for these sorts of projects because their videos and how to section is fabulous, and they are nearby so I can order the parts and go pick them up (shameless plugging with no compensation– that’s how much I love them).
DSC_2722The next day I picked up gaskets (which are the next most likely things to cause leaking). To replace said gasket, you have to literally take the entire washer apart. I got it all disassembled and looked at the gasket — hmm. The gasket looks like it is in perfect condition. No cracking, aging rubber. Uh oh. I decide to wash the outer tub (which is plastic) because it looks disgustingly scummy. So I start scrubbing and find a crack in the bottom of the plastic tub. There’s the problem!! No…. so I look up the new part- $140 for the new plastic drum. Now I’ve got a serious decision. The washer is very basic – probably a $400 washer new, buying a part for $140 seems like a stretch. But I don’t actually want to buy a new washer… or move a washer… or two… Nooooooo.


After getting some advice from friends, I called Sears to see if there’s a warranty on the washer. After a long conversation where I repeatedly explained the situation and the confused man on the other side looked up the address, phone number, my last name, the previous homeowner’s last name– no dice. I asked if they stand behind their products and have some kind of typical warranty but all he could tell me (repeatedly) was that because he couldn’t find the warranty info for this washer, he couldn’t do anything. So he transfers me to their service department. The service department tried to convince me (repeatedly) that I should schedule a technician to come diagnose the problem. I KNOW THE PROBLEM! It is a cracked outer tub!!!!!! No. I am not trying to schedule a technician. I do want to know what kind of warranty or life expectation the part has. Back and forth for a long time but she finally leaves and comes back 10 minutes later to say it appears the outer tub has a typical life expectancy of 2-3 years. WHAT??


I then called to ask them the same question. She couldn’t give me a life expectancy but said she gets a lot of complaints about the cracked tub and Kenmore washers in general. Great. Just the info I needed to make an informed decision.


DSC_2710Meanwhile, Maggie is on a crime spree (I’m not even sure what I’m being punished for this time) and is peeing on the floor at night. The stanky laundry is piling up and I am desperate to get back to normal life with clean clothes, towels, dog beds, rugs, etc. So I checked the local appliance sales hoping for a Memorial Day miracle but wasn’t terribly impressed. Then I checked Craigslist to see what was out there. When I bought a new washer at my old house (in a different lifetime) Whirlpool came back with consistently good reviews, etc. The lady at RepairClinic said the same thing. So I thought I’d start by looking for a Whirlpool. There were two new-ish Whirlpool washers for $250 and $225, respectively. I called on the first one, advertised as 4 years old, everything works, just selling because of a move. When I made contact with the owner by phone (after a few emails), she gave me directions to her house, and I asked if there was anything else I needed to know about the washer “Well it works great, except it doesn’t start immediately any more, and I always have to run the drain cycle between loads.”  Me: “Um I just took apart my existing washer and I’m not really looking for a project, thank you.”


My brother Donal and I had done some compost hauling with a trailer that morning and he said he’d go with me to pick it up — love that guy! The second washer was further away but ended up being the right move. It is a few years old, owned by this woman’s great aunt who was in her eighties. She used it a couple years and then passed away so they were getting rid of her things. The family selling the washer were down to earth, nice young family. They’d been out working in the yard. We chatted about our multiple Home Depot visits per weekend, he loaded the washer into the trailer for me, and we were on our way.  It looks brand new and even still had the protective film on it. Clearly this machine hasn’t seen a lot of mileage (I am already changing that). Donal and I got the washer into the kitchen and we called it a day. DSC_2727


The next morning I needed to change out the hoses –realizing that my laundry sink cabinet allowed me to turn off the valves, but not to change out the hoses. Nooooo. So I sawed and drilled and hammered and sawed some more to make a hole in the back of the cabinet to allow access. Note to self: next time this would be a lot easier to cut that access hole before the cabinet was installed. I had to move the disassembled old washer (directly out the door — to add to the white trash ambiance of the backyard).


The whole thing took way too long, but eventually the hoses were changed out, the new washer put in place, plugged in, and a load of yucky towels begun. The new washer is a high efficiency top loading Whirlpool (my first high efficiency washer). I am so thankful for affordable and functional laundry facilities!!! Mmmmm clean towels.

A few things to take away from this little episode:

1. Do not buy a Kenmore washer.
2. is the bomb for fixing your own appliances.
3. Awesome brothers who help move heavy stuff are worth their weight in gold… and a lifetime of free babysitting.
4. Working laundry facilities are totally worth the hype.

Daisy Daze

D11babies and puppyMan oh man puppies are cute! And SOOOO much work (Reason #19 puppies are cute)! If you’ve ever had a puppy, you may remember the sheer amount of energy it takes to keep track of them, keep them busy, and clean up after them. If you have a toddler, you can also relate. Only I can’t diaper the dog and I can crate her and go to work. Puppies are a lot. Daisy is no exception. I’m still impressed that she is a lot more chill than Suzie as a puppy. For the record, Suzie lost her insane puppyhood somewhere around 5 years old, and the last vestiges of her inner puppy a week and a half ago when I brought Daisy home (at age 11). Suze has turned into an old dog overnight, which I am still getting used to. Although she puts up with a lot more of Daisy’s shenanigans than Maggie does (shocking).

Daisy is very submissive and rolls onto her back for both of the big dogs “PLEASE BE MY FRIEND.” Yes, she gives off a very desperate vibe. While I was out of town this past weekend, she’s decided she isn’t scared of them anymore and has become a constant pest. When she wants Maggie’s attention, she’s decided barking like a fiend will be the move that finally gets her to love her. Right. It’s an awesome stage for all of us. Reason #127 that puppies are cute.

(TMI Alert) While I was gone last weekend, Daisy reportedly did all her poops outside (and for me for three days before that). But then I got home, and she crapped in the house for me 4 times in a row, despite being outside repeatedly. She was probably just showing off for my house guests because nothing says “welcome to our home” like a puppy doing her business all over it.


D2D1 I think Maggie has told her about the Great Punishing policy that occurs if I leave them (both Maggie and Daisy seem to be on the case). Suzie is just glad to have me home and is even more desperate for love. Since that first day back, we’ve gotten most of her #2’s outdoors and she is great about going #1 when we are out there…. but she also leaves piddle puddles around randomly. How one small critter needs to pee so often, I’ll never know. Yet another reason puppies are so cute.

I am so glad the weather has been nice and I can send all three dogs outside a lot. Daisy expends a lot of energy following the big dogs who go to the far corners of the yard to escape her. We go on walks around the perimeter of the yard a couple times a day to wear her out and it is delightful to enjoy the far reaches of the yard so much more than I was before. And my list of outdoor projects grows exponentially every time I walk out there. My life goals have reduced to trivial things like figuring out how to wear the puppy out. Rinse and repeat.

D5 D7 D6 D4

Admittedly, I am enjoying the puppy snuggles, licks, scampers, and watching her chase her tail. There are constant crazy and entertaining puppy antics. And I’m enjoying how much she is disrupting the world of the other two old dogs. They were due for a shake up and it keeps all of us on our toes.

D9Puppies are ADORABLE and Daisy is no exception. A sweet, bundle of trouble trouble trouble. Word to the wise: If you want to simplify your life, getting a puppy is the wrong move.