Happy Thanksgiving

We hope everyone who reads this blog, and even those who don’t, has a good Thanksgiving.

Leah and I are pretty much alone here in Rome. Neither of us has much family left, and those who are left don’t live around here. So we’ll probably end up having the Thanksgiving buffet at Ryan’s, otherwise known as a steak place.

If Thanksgiving is here, you know Christmas is sneaking up, too. Our Christmas cactus is starting to bloom.

xmas cactus overall

Here’s a closer shot.

xmas cactus upclose

It seems pretty happy there, sitting by the sliding glass door in the living room. We’re happy that it’s happy.

Late fall color

The fall leaf colors are past their peak here, but there are still some trees that are stubbornly hanging onto their leaves and their color. Leah mentioned a couple of times that we should drive up into the northeast Georgia mountains to see some of the fall leaves, but we couldn’t seem to find time.

The best view up here is on the Huffaker Road side of Fouche Gap, down into the valley. This was from Friday morning’s dog walk.


Another view:


The most common hardwood up on the mountain is oak, but the maples and hickories provide by far the best color. The hickories are brilliant yellow. The maples go from greenish yellow to orange to bright red. This little maple is trying to make a living too close to the road.


Right next to it is another, yellow this time.


They won’t survive long. A county road crew will eventually cut them.

The oaks, mainly chestnut oaks, turn yellowish brown on their way to an overall drab brown. Here a maple shows an oak the way it’s supposed to be done.


Down deeper in the valley a few trees burn brightly. It’s hard to get a shot that captures the glowing brilliance almost hidden by the surrounding forest. This one was closer to the road.


I was lucky that the rain and wind we had on the previous Wednesday didn’t end what little was left of the color.

Sam again

I have mentioned Sam the dog, who belongs to neighbor John’s stepson, at least nominally. Sam is a very shy dog who will approach almost no one. Some time after John’s stepson said he wanted a dog, this one apparently became available. John’s helper Ron picked him up from someone who apparently kept him on a line. When he reached John’s house, he was afraid of everyone but Ron and, eventually, John’s stepson. He was a completely wild dog. He knew nothing of doghouses. John and his wife bought a nice, if somewhat large, doghouse for him but couldn’t get him to stay in it. John said that Sam slept in the woods, even when we had snow last winter.

And then, as I said in the earlier post, one day Zeke escaped and went down to John’s where he met Sam. They apparently became fast friends, because Sam soon began to stay at our house during the day, going home to eat his evening meal, spend the night under John’s bulldoze (he finally learned that), and eat breakfast, before coming back up here. He accompanied us around the house when I took Zeke and Lucy for their constitutionals, running around and roughhousing with Zeke. He went with us on our long morning walks.

Before long he was eating at John’s and sleeping in our yard.

Sam lets us pet him now. He even rolls over on his back so we can rub his belly. When we come outside he comes running to us. When I took the dogs for their walk Wednesday morning Sam was not around. I had gone only a few hundred yards down the road and around the corner when Leah called and said Sam was lying in our driveway. I shouted a few times for Sam and he came running.

Here’s the movie in another format.

sam runs

Zeke won’t do that.

When cold weather was forecasted, I asked John to bring Sam’s doghouse (the one he wouldn’t use at John’s house) up and put it in our yard. That evening I half picked up, half led Sam to the dog house and put him in. He went to the end and curled up. I stuck my head and shoulder through the door and petted him for a while, telling him how comfortable he would be in the house. He remained in the house for a few minutes after I left, but ended up in the woods a few feet from it. That night I went through this routine three times, and he spent the night outside. The next night I did the same thing, and so did he. He was more willing to enter the doghouse, but he refused to stay inside after I left.
On the third night he slept in the doghouse.

Wednesday we drove over to Centre, Alabama, to meet someone Leah knows for lunch. It started raining shortly after we left and continues as I write this (around 8 pm). Sam has been in his doghouse all this time.

Sam’s only real fault is that he chases the cats, a sin that is, unfortunately, unforgivable in this household.

From the beginning we have intended to get Sam to a rescue group to be adopted by someone who will give him the training, attention and affection he needs. We have been in contact with a woman who works with a local rescue group (Animal Rescue Foundation), and she wants us to bring him to a vet’s office so she can get a video of him interacting with a human (me). Then, she says, they might be able to get him on a transport to an animal shelter (as opposed to a pound) that can adopt him out. This is typically in a northern or midwestern state where, apparently, dogs are not considered throwaway trash when they are no longer wanted.
We have adopted out a lot of dogs — a lot — and I know it can be successful. I know a lot of people foster dogs and cats until they can be adopted by a new owner. These people are animal lovers who may foster a dog for months, and then release it to a stranger. And I know that dogs can develop deep and strong attachments to strangers, given time; many of my own dogs are a testament to that. I know that we can’t keep a dog that chases cats. Besides, we already have two dogs and five cats, and I know that if anyone should get a new pet, it’s Leah, who needs a cat that can give and accept affection, unlike our current herd.

And still I feel guilty about this.

Some sky shots

I bought a tub enclosure for the new house Thursday afternoon (Nov 12). This is what I saw as I was leaving.


There is a nice sundog on the right. There were no clouds to the left of the sun, so no sundog there. There is a hint of color above the sun which may be a camera artifact, although it seems to appear in cloud areas and (perhaps) not in clear sky. If the clouds had had the right mix of ice crystals, the sundog could have extended up into the clouds above it. The clouds obviously contained mostly hexagonal flat plates, which tend to orient themselves horizontally so that the sunlight passes through them along the hexagonal edges, dispersing the colored light only in limited directions. The “right” crystals would have included a significant percentage of hexagonal columns, which have no preferred orientation and can thus disperse the light into more directions. Anyway, it was nice.

On Sunday morning Leah told me to go onto the deck and see the sunrise.


I shot this with our little Nikon point-and-shoot. I wonder if the iPhone would have done a better job with exposure, since it seems to have a wider dynamic range. The bright areas might not have washed out.

House update – 13 November 2015

The siding crew and the guy who is installing the porch and stair railings didn’t quite finish on Thursday, November 12. Leah and I went up to look Friday. This is what the house looks like with the siding almost complete.


It’s hard to tell, but the siding does not cover the area around the small window that opens onto the front porch. That was one of the windows that the building inspector didn’t like. The single window on the left of this side of the house and one that’s around back were the other two he didn’t like. Those are now OK. The siding crew took the basement windows out and swapped them for the upstairs bedroom windows. The former bedroom windows, now in the basement, don’t have the same egress size requirement as a bedroom window, so they’re OK. The small window on the porch is actually OK; we just need the manufacturer’s installation instructions to show that they were installed properly.

This is what the balusters will look like when they are finished.


The decorations are called baskets. There will be one or two sets on each segment of railing, depending on the length. I wanted a material other than pressure-treated wood for the hand rails, but we weren’t able to locate anything near Rome. I may skin them with another material later so we can avoid having to restain them.

We splurged a little on the front door. It’s a fiberglass unit with two sidelites.

front door

Unfortunately there are already a few nicks on the exterior finish. I’m generally pleased with the work the siders have so far, but there are a few things I would deduct points for, like those nicks (assuming they were not present when the door was unloaded) and the muddy footprints here and there on the siding.

The siders and railing installer are supposed to finish most of their work this week. Some, like the ceiling over the porch, will have to wait for other trades to finish their work. At this point we can call in a heating and air conditioning contractor and, after they finish, an electrician. Then I plan to install insulation. Then comes drywall. After the appropriate inspections, of course.

I’m sure it will be February at the earliest before we can move in.