kip_w: (Default)
The cat was looking too intently at the kitchen trash can, and trying to put a paw behind it, so I went and moved it. The mouse ran into the dining room. The cat clearly missed this part, and continued to pay attention to the trash can. "The dining room. It's in the dining room! Frances! Kitty kitty kitty! Mouse!"

Frances continued to erode her reputation as a great mouser, so I got a disposable plastic container out with the intent of placing it over the mouse, which was going back and forth in the dining room. As I approached, it made a dash for the front stairs, flying over them all and landing, appropriately enough, on the landing, where it took up a position under a plastic toy with some of the aspects of a cage. I tried seeing if I could kick this aside and nab the wee, sleekit cow'rin' beastie, but the little wretch did the same flying trick and vanished behind the biggest bookcase in the house.

I reported our new resident to Cathy, watching the bookcase much the same way the cat watched the trash can. Up in the kitchen, she was still at it. "It's downstairs," I told her. After a bit, I went out and purchased two mouse traps at Wal-Mart. There were two nearly identical pairs, from the same manufacturer, with the same part number, but slightly different design and packaging. I opted for the one with the enticing words "IT KILLS" printed on the cardboard.

Home again. Frances was vigilantly sniffing around the bookcase. I did a couple of things, then unwrapped the mouse traps and went upstairs with them to get some peanut butter to smear in the little circle marked BAIT. Frances was back at the trash can, so I looked behind it. The mouse ran out, bumping the stove before it turned the corner and ran at the kitchen door, where the cat sat. Frances made a move, which I hoped would be the end of it, but the mouse was apparently untouched. It tried to climb the side of the cupboard. Frances watched. Perhaps she was taking mental notes.

I went back for the container to try that trick again (well, it had worked once, a year or so back). As I bent down for it, the mouse moved back toward the kitchen. Without thinking about it much, I put my foot down on it; not hard, unless you're a mouse. It lay still, and I scooped it into the container. The mouse's sides moved slightly. Some blood appeared. I flung the mouse into some bushes outside and threw the container in the garbage and explained my latest heroic deed to Cathy.

And I'm back to the first entry I ever made on LJ. "I crushed a small animal today." Only that time, it was a dream.

As Sarah said when I told her about it, "Eccch!"
kip_w: (sarah tongue)
Yesterday, Sarah wanted cheesy eggs and bacon again. I had her gather ingredients while I finished unloading and loading the dishwasher -- it's so much better to cook in a clean kitchen -- and things started as usual. This time, she wanted to crack eggs. Just one, she said, but I had her crack two of the three (I'd already broken the first one). Then she started the scrambling. I had her start the microwave with the bacon in it as she had me finishing the scrambling, and then I had her put cheese on the plates for the eggs to go on top. Just one egg for me this time, as I'm getting no thinner.

When it was all done with, she ended up only eating one egg as well. That's life.

This morning, I was doing boring old morning stuff when I was informed that Sarah had made bacon and eggs already, with Cathy standing by. A little firmer than I make them, but perfectly acceptable and tasty eggs. Sarah is learning to cook.

In other news, back when we were still in Virginia, I told Cathy I had decided my midlife crisis car would be a Honda Element. Three days ago, we closed on a red 2006 Element that I might call Mao. Sarah, who has been an Element fan since she learned of my interest, likes it because it's kind of like a van and it has great back seat legroom. It's the first car we've had with Automatic. I guess I can deal with that. It has four-wheel drive for those weather emergency days. My god, I have an SUV. Now I have to be saintly in my driving conduct to try and counteract the bad rep all those other drivers have given us SUV drivers.

I've also had a busy week designing a web page for the Friends of the Library here, working on a couple of books, and participating in the "Art Ambassador" program at Sarah's school. This was the Faith Ringgold unit. The next one will be Winsor McCay: my unit.

And now I will head for bed.
kip_w: (sarah tongue)
At 10, Sarah asked if I'd make cheesy eggs and bacon. Right now? I asked. I could do it at 10:30, she said, so I could wake up more. I said I'd do it if I had help.

So for 20 minutes, I looked at the computer and read _The Graveyard Book_ and then got dressed and went up with Sarah on my back, which is still technically possible. There were ants to kill along the way -- ant season is upon us again. Snow sifted steadily downward outside. More ants perished.

She began collecting ingredients as I put dishes away from the dishwasher. "Should I turn the stove on?" she asked. No, I'm doing this first, I said, and I put dishes away and loaded the dishwasher with dishes I'd rinsed and stacked the day before, then gave the preliminary clean to the other dishes, dumped a dead ant out of a teacup, and finished up, tidying the counter. Then I had morning fiber (Metamucil, 1/2 teaspoon) as Sarah mopped around the dining room for something to do.

I put the bacon in the microwave. Sarah turned the stove on (something she's been doing a comparatively short time) and I put butter in the pan. She wanted to break the eggs, but I opted to demonstrate more before the day she gets to start doing it. She began scrambling. "I'm making sure to get the stuff on the bottom," she said, echoing an earlier lesson.

"I love teaching you stuff," I said. "Some day you'll know it all, and then I won't be able to teach you any more."

As the eggs coagulated, she let me take over. I told her how much time to put on the microwave, and she started the bacon. Between scrambling, I laid a layer of grated cheese on each of our plates. The microwave beeped just after I started putting egg on top of the cheese. We each finished off our own eggs with more cheese, pepper, and garlic salt. Bacon was placed alongside.

If we feel like going out in the snow, we'll go bowling and probably have lunch somewhere like Taco Bell, her current favorite (and inexpensive). If we stay in, we might play games on the Wii instead.

Typical Sunday morning. With ants.


Jan. 19th, 2010 09:00 am
kip_w: (Default)
My window here opens out at ground level, and through the slats I could see an animal's legs on the porch. A cat perhaps? I went back to getting Sarah ready for school and the bus. Snow on the ground this morning. Must remember to get my car out of the garage so Cathy can park there when she comes in from Boston this afternoon. As usual, Sarah was outside first. "Dad! Matty's here."

Matty was the dog next door, friendly enough but still puppy-rambunctions. Sarah encountered her a couple of times a day when coming or going to Zach's house. Our back yards join at the property line under the utility wires, and our front doors are 2/3 of a mile apart by car. Sarah said she scratched her one time, probably from trying to jump up -- sometimes she was too friendly.

This morning, she was polite but skittish. She came when I called her, and she was willing to come with me to the back yard, but making eye contact and then looking at where I wanted her to go (a trick that had worked to perfection once in Virginia when a neighbor dog had escaped their wooden fence) didn't get me anywhere.

I went in to get my phone. "Don't let her go in the house!" Sarah cautioned, but Matty didn't seem inclined to follow me in anyway. Frances was on the stairs, as usual, rubbing her sides on the rails and angling for some pets. I came out with the phone and called over. Their number was the most recent on my list. I'd used it a day or two ago when Sarah had kicked off a boot that proceeded to hit Zach in the face.

"Hello?" Zach's mom sounded sleepy. Perhaps she'd worked late at the ER last night.

"This is Kip. Matty's over here. I tried to get her to go back, but she's just hanging around here."

Deb thought about it. "The battery in the invisible fence thing might be low. She probably doesn't want to cross it. You could take her collar off." I wasn't keen on that, because Matty was acting pretty nervous. "I'll come over there and get her in a couple of minutes." I said I'd stay with her until then.

Sarah petted Matty. "She likes getting pets on her tummy," she told me.

"She should lie on the porch instead of on the cold snow," I said.

"She likes to be a snow dog." Sarah explained. "Where's that dumb bus?" I suggested that the snow might be slowing it down, though it was a pretty light snow. A minute later, it showed up. "Don't let her get on the bus!" she said. She petted Matty one last time and then dashed to me for a kiss before going down the driveway to stand ten feet away from the arriving bus. Sonali ran across our yard to get on with her (Sarah's friend from two houses away tended to make the bus just in time, more or less). I tried to get Matty to follow me to the back again, but she opted to stay by the corner of the house and watch as I whistled. This time I saw something I hadn't noticed before -- a small pile of what seemed like they could be deer droppings. I saw that the sleeve over one of Sarah's tiny apple tree seedlings had fallen partway and straightened it back up. Then I could see Deb coming over, and then she started calling to Matty.

"Matty! Silly dog. What are you doing over here?"

"She might have followed a deer. I just saw a pile of droppings -- it's a miracle nobody stepped in it." Everybody had walked within a foot of the footprint-sized pile. If there were any hoof prints in the snow, we'd wiped them out. Deb removed the electronic collar so it wouldn't keep Matty from entering her yard, and escorted her back to her own side.

"Oh yeah, she's a lot more comfortable now," said Deb as Matty went into full happy mode. "Thanks for calling us!"

I thought about poor Matty as I went in. A deer, perhaps, lured her across the invisible fence, but nothing could lure her back across the electronic barrier, so she picked our front porch as a sort of haven. It was lucky for her (maybe she smelled us here) that she'd found friends. A fence works both ways.
kip_w: (tree)
Sarah's friends Ishan and Sonali were over here looking for her. She was over at #36, playing in a sprinkler. They went to the swing in the tree, and that's when I looked up and saw another partly detached branch up above. I told Ishan not to stand under it, and five minutes later, he was standing under it. Remembering the fast service we had gotten from the tree services we called (I think we called them in October, and we're still waiting), I sighed and got out the saw I bought for the last branch, which I hadn't had to use yet.

Unbending and setting up the ladder in the usual shaky way, I took the saw up and picked a spot. It was tight, being adjacent to another branch. I sawed, now with the right, now with the left, sometimes with both as my fear and caution turned to impatience and fatigue. When I was most of the way through, the branch (aided by my arch enemy, Gravity) slid imperceptibly into a position that clamped shut over the saw. I pondered the situation, and also realized that I was supposed to peel the labels off the saw so the Teflon coating would be somewhat helpful. I also got the rope (also purchased for the previous branch business) and spent some time tying it near the partial cut, threading it through other branches, unsticking it from its favorite wedging place between the ladder and the trunk, and after much time had been consumed this way, finding that the cut had indeed opened up enough that I could get the saw back in there and cut away until the branch made a creaking sound and moved four inches.

After this, much time was spent trying to get it to move some more. It was held in place by a half inch of twisted bark at the high end, and at the low end a forking branch nestled over another horizontal member of the tree, and it seemed quite content with the arrangement. I moved the ladder here and there, pulled the rope to little avail, and got some movement by pushing up with the shop broom.

Bit by bit, the tree yielded its broken lumber. I plied that saw wherever I could, cutting off the leafy ends of branches (which took less than a minute each), then going after the part that overlay the branch that was now supporting the wreckage. I used the rope to lasso the small end of the thing, and discovered another senior branchlet I hadn't suspected, which helped keep the whole thing trapped despite its topological disconnect from the tree proper. One by one, I removed the obstacles. One time there was a big crack and some shifting above as I was mostly done with a cut. I let go of the saw and left it to the tree while I scrambled down the ladder and stood away. After a minute, I went back and finished the cut.

In the end, I got the whole thing down. I also cut off another low branch that liked to mess with me when I mowed the lawn. Perhaps I'll go out another day and take off more of those low branches. For now, I'm glad to be on terra firma -- in the basement, in fact -- letting the fan tickle the flecks of sawdust in my arm hairs.
kip_w: (sarah tongue)
From this vantage point at the end of the week, I'd say there were some high points.

Nicer weather came. Snow melted. On Thursday I went out and kicked the snow piles down and scattered the white stuff around, and by the end of the day Friday, the last of the large plowed-up snow was pretty much gone. I also got a stick and putted the dog waste out of the yard. A thoughtful dog owner had left it in the gutter out front, and a helpful snow plow had deposited it (along with a certain quantity of snow) in our yard, where it was revealed by the melting.

Earlier in the week, I purchased a length of rope (two, actually -- one is for a jump rope for me) at Home Depot and took it out to the tree in front along with a ladder. I tied it around the large vertical branch that has been sitting loose up there for the last four months or so, got a good distance away, and pulled. I was able to make it swing back and forth, but it had a hold on something up there. I tried changing the angle, tying the rope to it in different places, and combinations of the two. Finally I extended the ladder to its fullest and took it to the other side of the tree, clutched the trunk with one arm and reached as high as I could to reach the parts of the branch that were hooked over another branch. After I broke those off, I went back down and pulled the rope again, this time wrapping it around another piece of broken off branch, and I got the whole mess down. Later on I'll clean it up again. This, incidentally, is where I got the putter for the first paragraph.

Between the warm weather and the rain, just about all the old snow was gone from the front, and most all from the back. Today it snowed again, but that melted off as well, leaving only a couple of snow clods where the biggest of the plowed piles was.

I've been scanning old negatives, mostly from November 1979. That's when I walked all over Fort Collins, taking black and white photos of stuff I liked, most of which seems to be gone now (but not all). A lot of these photos had never even been printed, as I was mostly getting contact sheets back then to save money. I'll be sharing some of these with Lost Fort Collins, a web site that seems to have been made just for me. Or at least it might as well have. The Northern Hotel??? Wow! I lived there!

I've also been converting some of my LPs to mp3 format for iPod listening. One difficulty with this has been that I use the PC for that, so I can employ SoundForge for the recording and cleaning up, but the PC has its problems. It wants only to shut itself down. Since the day I took the case off, things were better, and I came within about a week of having my first Mozy backup completed, but this week I hit another wall, unable to find a save point in Norton GoBack that would let it come up. [Tedious detail ahead.] With experimentation, I found that I could interrupt the startup with the space bar as if I was going to GoBack, then cancel out of that and have the option of picking much farther save points than GB was giving me. January 2 has become my standard fallback, and with its judicious use, I've been booting successfully with only the occasional lost day when it decides to update Windows while I'm asleep. I'm somewhere between 6 days, 5 hours and 1 week 1 day from finishing the first Mozy backup.

Also I have to keep a close watch on the power supply fan, which doesn't always start up with the computer. I've found that I can start it up by poking it just so with the skinny straw from the compressed air I use to keep it dusted (thanks, Shelly!). When the whole thing is backed up to my satisfaction, we might see about getting it fixed. I think I'd rather keep this one working than buy a new one. I like its audio-visual features. I can turn video output into files, and I can use SoundForge with it.

I haven't been swimming at all this week, because I banged up my right knee last week (my left knee, which I hurt slipping on ice in the driveway, was just about finished with the pain cycle) trying to show Sarah something interesting at the YMCA Adventure Center. So I've been taking her to Adventure Center to play instead of swimming with her. We had a very active time of it this evening. I chased her around, then we threw soft blocks to each other for a while, and finally played on the slide until closing time. She went right to sleep tonight.

I keep trying to find time to play the piano more, and have done so here and there. Last week we went to Borders because I had a 40% off coupon for one item. I bought the one-volume BONE collection, as I have been thinking for many years I should read that. 40% off is what it took. The only copy they had was flawed, so they worked it out that I'd buy it and it would come to me from another branch. It came in the mail a couple of days ago, and I've been enmeshed in it. I'm around page 900 now, and will finish tonight or tomorrow. I'm just as glad I could go through it all in one shot, as each chapter is a quick read. Gotta go. Bone calls me.
kip_w: (Default)
Woke up this morning, the 26th, to an equivocal little dusting of snow outside. A little later, it started falling again, and now we're watching it pile up. Two to four inches, it said somewhere. Earlier on, the same sources were saying possible rain.

I decided to scramble some eggs with sausage and cheese, but we didn't have the egg power. The grocery store was too far, so instead I phoned a neighbor, who was happy to loan me some, so we had a mid-morning breakfast that Couldn't Be Beat.

The pond, which is not yet frozen to any extent, though there seemed to be some ice near the edge, is hosting some additional waterfowl for the past day or so: four tufted ducks are bobbing around and diving impressive distances under the chilly water. They don't particularly avoid the other ducks, and they don't really hang with them.

Yesterday on the pond, our neighbor on the other side had apparently just gotten a tiny radio-controlled sailboat, and was giving it a go with another person I didn't know. No doubt a brother or brother-in-law. I chatted briefly with them and took some pictures of the little boat gliding around. Another thing I did yesterday was call several relatives for aimless chats. They seem to be doing fine.

I only had one maybe-goal in mind, to pick up an inexpensive tripod for my camera at Target, and I don't mind waiting another day. I'm having a nice day, watching the outside fill up with snow. Happy returns of the day, everybody!
kip_w: (tree)
I started cutting the straps on a big box that some men had brought over a day or so ago. Sarah showed up and wanted to help. I lifted the top off and wrestled the contents out onto the floor. I put the hardware bits on my piano and skimmed the instruction book and its precautions.
Read more... )

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