Category Archives: house

Economic Stimulus Package: Backyard Division

The Runner family has kicked in to help stimulate the local St. Charles economy by adding (finally) a patio/walkout pad and a 1′ skirt along the back foundation before the graduation reception:



Now my work begins! Plans are to frame under the deck with rock and fill in underneath with pea gravel, add various plantings, clean the edges of the concrete and fill in with soil and reseed grass, etc. etc. Hopefully it will look great when all is said and done.


Plague #2

Today is a continuation on yesterday’s “Rhubarb Runner’s Wild Kingdom” — a story in the vein of Poe’s The Cask of Amantillado.

Last spring, K was grabbing her purse off the breakfast room floor on her way out the door to school, and found a small tree frog on it.  A day later, I found a second one.  A couple days later, I found one on the front window sill.  This one was a yard away from the ficus tree and it’s winter Grow Light, and I (correctly, it turns out) deduced that they had come in as eggs in the bottom of the ficus tree, and had just emerged that spring (there is an hand-hold opening in the side of the planter).

frog-in-a-tree1This winter, when it was time to bring the ficus tree indoors again, I wised-up and placed a strip of duct tape across the opening first.  No frogs were spotted, although I was pretty sure I heard the “cre-e-e-e-eak” of a tree frog from the front room at one point three weeks ago.

Yesterday, Mo decided it was time to move the ficus back outside again, so I trooped it out onto the deck to its place of honor (where the wind can blow it over every other week).  As I removed the duct tape, a skinny tree frog leaped right out, while its brother/sister looked on from within the hand-hold hole.  No telling how many others might have been in there, but darn if those little survivalists didn’t make it through the winter somehow.  I’m trying to remember my Exodus; is it lice or boils next?

Oh, bonus — today’s Insect Photo of the Day: Double-banded Ant-mimicking BycidEuderces pini:

Double-banded Ant-mimicking Bycid

The Ants Have Returned to Capistrano

We have a unique (we think) situation here at the Runner Residence; each summer, we have ants in our kitchen.  Well, that in itself isn’t unique, but one aspect of it is:  we like to joke that our dishwasher has become an ant farm.  Except the joke isn’t funny, at least not to us anyway.

dishwasher-ant-farmSo far we are in phase one — a few individual ants are found following the counter edge around the sink.  Phase two will be our noticing those industrious few scouts who found their way into the dishwasher.  Phase three begins when the moving vans leave, and the ants have forwarded their mail to the inside of the ol’ Whirlpool Gold.

We’ve tried putting ant traps in the dishwasher (and of course running a pot-scrubber wash afterwards), attempting to seal all the gaps within the dishwasher cabinet opening and adding boric acid powder around the edges, etc.  Their David is kicking our Goliath’s @ss.  I don’t think it will be long before Saul again hands over his armor this year…

Potpourri (RIP, Uncle Dunk)

We found out today that Mo’s favorite Uncle, Mack “Dunk” Goree passed away. He asked that no obituaries be posted. He will be greatly missed for his humor and easy-going demeanor (and for pestering his sister Aunt Ruthie). He was single and had no children, other than the menagerie of animals that he cared for. R.I.P, Dunk.

I have certainly dodged a bullet so far this spring (knock on wood) allergy-wise. We should be close to the heart of oak pollen season soon, but the cool drizzles that have cycled through here the past 1-2 weeks have taken the damper off. I’ve only had a couple days where the rims of my eyes were reminding me that I should be using eye drops about now. I’d like for the whole month to go this way, but I do have some yard work to tackle too, though.

The past weekend we took two bids on some concrete work in back; a pad outside the walkout that would tie in with the bottom of the deck stairs, and a “wash” along the entire back side of the house. Also, I plan to frame under the deck with rock and fill with pea gravel, plus cover the underside of the deck with weed block material, to restrain the wasps/spiders/robins from taking up residence under there. Mo also wants to add more flower bed to the back. Sounds like work to me…


Last night, around 9:50 PM, our house was rocked like a car had run into it, with a sound like thunder.  It was too short to be an earthquake; my first thought was a gas explosion somewhere close.  After checking on Mo upstairs, we ran outside, where all the neighbors were also starting to congretate.  “What was that?” was the question most asked.

K was driving home from work, and said she’d seen a bright flash in her rearview mirror, and the boy next door also saw something bright out the back window of the house.  We all wandered back into the house and turned on the TV and monitored the internet, while K hit the text message chain for info, and stood on the deck passing updates back and forth with the neighbors.


When the news finally broke at the end of the 10 PM news, it was disappointingly short; it was a chemical explosion at a St. Charles company.  Eventually, via facebook IM and the local news internet sites, we found out that it was only 1.55 Google Earth miles from us, and blew in windows at one of K’s friend’s home.  An employee at SantoLube had burns over 30% of his body, but apparently no one else was seriously injured, for which we’re really happy. Although chemicals were involved, evacuations were pretty light.