Not Exactly Wine and Roses

The kids and I put in a lot of hours installing insulation yesterday.  This time, Anna and Emilie worked the staple guns.  Daniel cut the insulation to fit the spaces, and I stuck them in place so the girls could staple them.  Because the insulation comes in a standard width to fit the space between studs or joists, you can push them into place and they will stay put, even upside down.


The ground underneath the house is covered with limestone base, much of which was spread by Daniel while he worked for Carl.  No doubt we’ll have to crawl around under there someday for plumbing repairs, and we did not want a lot of muck and mire.  The limestone bed slopes gently down to the edges of the house, so water will not pool.


All this is very good.  But hardened base is not exactly easy on the back and rear when you are ooching along on it hour after hour.  Although I must say, even without the mud factor, it is probably more comfortable than bare ground would be, with its attendant grass burrs and fire ants.


I crab-walked a lot in the crawl space, especially when I approached the western corner of the house, where the kitchen, laundry room, and master bathroom are located.  This is where the floor is closest to the ground, and it is also where most of the plumbing pipes and all of the gas lines hang down.  So there is more stuff to dodge, and less space to do it in.  Ooching and contorting my body, while dragging insulation or stuffing it into hard-to-reach spaces, I found myself visualizing yesterday’s rat snake with its fluid grace and flexibility.


Some cows belonging to the man who rents the land from Ann came along and stared at us in a blank and bovine fashion.  From under the house, Emilie loudly made provocative remarks about their personal appearance.  They did not care.  The bull did not show today, and that is fine with me.  Besides helping himself to a dust bath from our gravel heap and menacing our subcontractors, this animal has knocked over both our well water tank and our propane tank.  The water tank is now protected by a small barbed-wire fence, and the propane tank now has a stout metal structure supporting it, some thing that goes in the back of a truck.  I hope he doesn’t take it in his head to go after our house before we get the fence up.


Early in the insulation process, Daniel and Anna abandoned long sleeves and worked quite cheerfully in bare arms.  I wondered about this, especially as they seemed less uncomfortable than I was at the end of the day.  So yesterday I gave short sleeves a shot, and I soon came around to their way of thinking.  Fiberglass prickles got on my skin more quickly than when I wore long sleeves, but also were able to fall off again.  Long sleeves seem to keep up a constant chafing action, rubbing the prickles against the skin.  Who’d have thought?


We drove home with the windows down.  Sunlight streamed through the windshield, and the air sparkled with millions of tiny fiberglass particles.  Every shift of position or movement of an arm started a new shower of them.


It is good at the end of a day of working with fiberglass insulation to take a nice hot shower, wash off all the prickles, and put on some soft exercise clothes.  Indeed, it is downright luxurious.


Yesterday afternoon, freshly showered and wearing comfortable clothes, I cooked chicken soup for our dinner.  I developed this recipe years ago as an immune booster; I try to make a batch whenever one of us feels a cold coming on.  Here is the recipe.


Immune Boosting Chicken Soup


5 lb. chicken thighs or other meaty pieces

8 c. homemade chicken stock

2 Tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar

8 carrots, sliced

½ head garlic, pressed

2 ½ tsp. coarse sea salt

½ tsp. black pepper

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp. paprika

1 Tbsp. dried basil

1 Tbsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. oregano

juice of 1 lemon


In a large pot combine chicken, chicken stock, and vinegar; bring to boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30 minutes.


Add all remaining ingredients except basil, parsley, oregano, and lemon juice.  Simmer 8-10 minutes or until carrots are tender.  Remove chicken meat from bones and return to pot.  Add basil, parsley, oregano, and lemon juice for last few minutes of cooking time.



Bridget continues to largely ignore the new dog.  It is difficult to ignore an eleven-month-old, sixty-pound Labrador, but Bridget is managing to do it.  Ready seems to feel somewhat responsible for her.  One day when Tara was jumping on the gate, Ready gave her a brief, stern bark, and she immediately stopped.  This morning I saw them actually playing together, with rear-wiggles, scampering, and the kind of fake growling dogs do when they are having a good time.  We will have to get Tara some kind of fetching toy of her own so that she will leave Ready’s tennis balls alone.  Ready is an intelligent, level-headed dog, but he goes plumb silly over his tennis balls.  Bridget has never bothered them—she has no concept of fetching—but Tara is a retriever and may even now be casting a speculative eye at Ready’s private property.

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