This and That, Almost Autumn Edition

This And That - Catching Up On All The Family News for Autumn 2021
This And That

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

So yesterday was our wedding anniversary – this one marking eighteen years together. Over our years together we’ve been flooded out, moved across country, performed multiple home renovations, and worked at multiple jobs. We survived two years apart and now we’ve survived eighteen months of near-house arrest. We’re still together so that’s a good thing.

In other news; We’re getting into autumn with cooler autumn weather and shorter days. Such is the cycle of life.

This Old House Renovations

The biggest project Winnie and I have been involved in lately is renovating our rental property. Again. After nearly twelve years of playing “landlord,” I think Winnie and I both understand what evil lies in the hearts of men. And women. This last family rented from us for a bit over three years. In three years, they managed to damage four interior door, break several kitchen cabinet doors, break the garage door, ruin a nearly new carpet in an enclosed porch, and seriously water-damaged a bathroom ceiling. They left kid’s writings all over the walls, doors, and cabinets in every room. Plus a lot of “minor” damage such as quarter-inch holes in walls where they yanked out wall anchors. Not to mention being months behind in paying rent, which I tolerated as long as I did only because of the on-going pandemic.

So now Winnie and I are effectively doing a home renovation on the house we’ve already renovated. I think it’s a sign of getting older that we’ve hired a contractor to repaint the house for us, instead of doing it ourselves. Having someone else paint leaves us free to do stuff like repair/replace the doors and deep clean. We’re also going to have a realtor to find us new tenants. One of Winnie’s friends claims she’s been locating tenants for rental houses for years and never saw the kind of issues we always seem to have. With luck, we’ll get a decent renter this time around.

End of Boating Season

Although the weather is still decent, with rental house renovations underway we’ve essentially ended our boating seas for this year. It was a great boating season though, one of the best I’ve had since living in Northern Virginia. Not only did we get out on the boat often, but we tried a new boating trick of bringing an inflatable kayak along. We’d anchor out in a bay along the Potomac River, setup the kayak, and doing some kayak exploring. So two boating adventures for the price of one.

Kayaking Adventures

We also got out in our kayaks often this past season. Once Winne was comfortable kayaking on her own she would use our Trophy 126 “Arrau,” and I used one of our Sea Eagle inflatables. My Jeep Cherokee was in the body shop for several weeks as a result of being hit from behind (again). While the Jeep was in the shop, with no way to carry Arrau on Winnie’s car, we used both inflatables. Winnie used the larger and more stable 370, and I used the smaller 330 model.

One discovery I made was that I’m getting too old to be lifting a 47 pound boat up and down the roof of my Jeep. Inflatables are much easier – I can just deflate them and throw them in the back. The Sea Eagle kayaks we have are not particularly “fast” boats, which is a trade-off for being affordable. But, there are higher performance inflatable boats on the market…must look into this. After all, one can never have too many kayaks…

When we kayaked off our Bayliner 175 “Sea Dragon” we used the Sea Eagle 370, designed as a comfortable two-seater kayak. It took a bit of practice with our paddle strokes, but by the end of the summer we were paddling together as a team fairly nice.

Fresh-Water Clams

One pleasant treat from kayaking in our favorite river, the local Bull Run River, was tasting fresh water clams. I never heard of fresh-water clams, but Winnie used to dig for them as a kid. On one kayak trip she recognized the tiny clam shells and pulled into the bank. We started digging and found enough clams for a meal. These clams are fairly small, about the size of marbles, but a quart zip lock bag full was enough for two bowls of clam soup. Very nice!

Backyard Chicken Adventures

So we still have chickens free-ranging our backyard, but not as many as when we started. It turned out that all four of our cute little chicks were roosters. We bought them “unsexed,” with the expectation that at least one would be a hen. But, that was not to be. We can’t get away with keeping roosters here, especially not four, so they had to go away.

Then we lost one of our laying hens to what appears to have been a hawk. Winnie and I returned home from a day kayaking and found the hen dead in the middle of the yard, partially eaten. It was heartbreaking for us, and appeared to have traumatized the remaining hens. Since then, the survivors have mostly stayed in the coop or ventured out along the edges of the yard. Not boldly going where no hens have gone before, the way they roamed before death from above rained down. They also stopped laying, probably due to weather changes.

We plan on getting a few more hens in the spring to rebuild our small flock. They are fun to watch, and their eggs are much nicer than what we get from the local supermarkets.

Winnie’s Garden

As with boating, this summer’s garden was the best Winnie has had since we’ve lived here. In fact Winnie is still harvesting vegetables every day. A special treat was receiving seeds from one of her friends for a particular type of Chinese squash (“pumpkins”) Winnie really likes. She had good luck growing them, which makes her very happy. I enjoy seeing her garden and all the plants growing all over. Between her garden, and chickens roaming the backyard, I feel like we’re taking up the suburban homesteading lifestyle. But not quite.

End of the Summer

So this is the end of the summer and getting into Autumn. We’ve done our boating and gardening and even got in a few chickens for this year. So I can’t complain, especially in comparison to the last summer of pandemic shut-in life. I’m now looking forward to finishing renovating our rentable property, raking leaves, and settling into a winter routine.

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