I have been quite successful in avoiding news and media in general regarding the election. Tho it's not been easy and I will be glad when it's over. I will say that our wood stove is going to miss the plethora of bulk mail from our local candidates. Nice heavy stock, good fire starters.
As the election draws near I do plan to participate beyond simply casting my ballot.
We'll start our day with hitting the polls at 6 a.m. We hear the lines are going to be long - so we'll treat this pragmatically like... say... a Black Friday shopping excursion. Really most people don't get up and out as early as they say they will, so I am thinking we'll be in and out before we finish our first travel mugged cup of steaming coffee.
Then... of course we'll need to go to work. Where even I will keep an eye on the internets as reports are streaming in with polling information, lines, lies, cheats and steals.
When we arrive home from work -- we'll first start a fire... because of course we now eschew oil heat. And let me tell you - you start the fire FIRST.
Then my very excited democratic wife wants to color in the states as the results come in - yes, she wants to do this even tho they do it for you on every channel. She really likes the idea of participating. We are working up some ideas to best implement this... I'll let you know what we come up with.
We are also planning All American fare - hot dogs, apple pie, and of course beer. The brand of beer is up for debate. Bud used to be considered a truly American beer. But with Anheuser-Busch sale to the Belgium's and its highly publicized political affiliation... well I am thinking we may need to drink a beer from the mother country instead. Hmm, perhaps a California Cabernet might be American enough.
It seems the FREE dog has decided after 7 years of being on her best indoor behavior - that our furniture is her new cozy spot to sleep. She has never been allowed on the furniture, and has never shown a desire to be there. So now...why... after 7 years?
For example, my animal loving wife and I went upstairs Sunday night at around 10:30 expecting to get into our bed with freshly washed flannel sheets. As my sleepy wife rounded the corner into our room - all I heard was "uh-o".
It seems that not only had the FREE dog napped in our fresh sheets, but evidently also had an upset stomach at the time.
I realize it is times like this when it's most important to remain in a calm state of acceptance. I understand that my reaction will not in any way change or remedy the situation. And so as I surveyed the damaged, I paused and drew in a deep cleansing breath... I found this breath quite useful when I let it out... screaming obscenities at the dog. O well.
Ok so ... we'll close the bedroom door - ALL the time. Easy enough.
We have also discovered that she has been sleeping on the sofa. Also a no-no. Since we cannot close off the living room, we have been putting 'things' on the furniture before we leave for work in the morning. Yesterday I put an ottoman and a small table on the sofa.
Last evening after work I saw this: Notice the precarious tilt to the ottoman. I found this curious.
I tried. I was optimistic. I really wanted not to rake.
Two things to consider in my testing:
- I did not use 'mulching' blades. I have straight blades with side discharge. I think this makes a difference.
- I am neurotic.
ok... so -- here is the front yard 'before':
Notice in the after picture. The lawn is nice and tidy. The street -- not so much. Oopsie.
In the side yard for example - here are the leaves under our high maintenance magnolia tree.
After cutting - it left me with a pile of leaves that will need to be raked.
Also in the side yard...before and after. (notice the clear line between our lawn and our neighbors. That's because he has the coveted Cyclone Rake.)
Also a pile that will need to be removed.
I won't say this is a bad idea. If you have a mulching mower, and set the deck height higher than I did (I was trying to get the grass cut low as well). And you are less concerned about how the lawn looks this fall - this method may work well for you. As for us... well the pictures show only a small portion of what we still need to rake. So enough blogging... I need to get back to work.
Welp, it took all of 3 days. Sorsha (aka the FREE cat) is now coming when she is called and eating her dinner right on our covered porch. She eats very fast and is certainly a little nervous. But I feel better about this than leaving food in the back of the garage - where who knows who is eating it.
Last night, glowing in our success - I suggested to my cautious wife that perhaps we could train her to come into the basement on cold nights, and did she think that the basement window in the far corner might be an ideal spot for a cat door.
My wise wife agreed that it might be possible and encouraged me to think more on the matter.
Of course, I came to the conclusion later that evening that perhaps it was not such a good idea after all.
My gentle wife simply nodded. She is so good at this. She is so good at me.
Let's see how I fare as the temperatures drop below freezing this week.
And --other than the fact the our FREE cat likes to spend her days elsewhere and show up only for meals - really, it's been going swimmingly.
Well until of course the mice decided that coming into the house might be a toasty and safe and fun place to spend the winter season.
Add to that - I have been leaving food out in garage for the FREE cat -but lately I suspect that I may be feeding more than our cat.
Now it's not that I mind feeding ALL the wildlife in the neighborhood - but I really, really want one or more of the eaters to be cats. Ideally - cats who might spend a little time hunting around the yard and house. Also - we made a commitment to feed this FREE cat and we want to be sure she is at least one of the diners.
So I decided I need to train the FREE cat to come and eat when I call her.
Ha. Leave it to weese to try and train wild animals.
My sapient wife gives a simple nod and an offhanded smile as I told her my plan.
So last night there I am out in the yard with a food dish calling for my FREE feral cat. I didn't expect her to come skampering across the yard. But I had hoped she at least heard me. She didn't show. Tho I kept checking and calling.
She didn't eat last night.
Tonight was the same drill. Calling and calling with a food dish in my hand. No cat.
Well... not right away.
She did actually show up, and through some coaxing and calling and using a couple of food dishes - I was able to get her to come up to the walkway to eat! Yay!
My next step is to get her to come up and eat on the porch shortly after I call her to dinner. I feel this is the best winter solution for everyone involved. Even though there may be some hungry rats, chipmunks, raccoons and possibly even other cats out there. (of course... if they come to the porch when I call, rest assured I will feed them too)
Remember china markers? Sometimes they are called grease pencils. Keep one in your kitchen drawer to write on tupperware, or as my careful wife uses --glass serving saver containers. You can note the date you put things in the fridge or freezer. Perhaps what it is... ya know... sometimes it can be hard to tell. Perhaps you have a leftover reserved for the dog - that always good to know.
I am not sure if I can get this across in a blog entry. This is more of a conversation we should have over the dining room table - with cocktails and finger foods. Where I can look at you and you at me and I can use my hands and eyes and inflections to express myself.
Alas, you are not here and I really want to tell you about this - so bear with me.
My adoring wife and I have been together for over 23 years. We have raised two children, several dogs and cats, some fish, and a couple of lizards. We have lived in the same house for 21 of these years, and have painted each room... several times. We are truly and utterly in love. We are best friends. We are very different. We are very happy.
When the Civil Union bill passed several years ago - my excited wife became a Justice of the Peace. It's been a truly wonderful experience for her to share in so many joyous Unions. She comes home from each ceremony welling with joy. I have been privileged as well to see some of you Unioned. We are moved by each and every one.
When this bill was passed we were preparing our second child for college, and we made a conscience decision to hold off on our own Civil Union until after he was done with school -- specifically for the financial aid forms. It was our little way of getting back at the system.
Well our son is a junior now, and we were already planning to 'Unionize' next year --and then we heard the Marriage bill had passed.
Yay. So now we’ll be ‘Married’ instead. This is nice.
Ahh.. but over the course of this past week I have to admit… I have been feeling a bit… well… emotional (in the most pragmatic way that I can of course).
Intellectually, I have always understood that a Civil Union would give us the same (state, that is) legal rights as marriage. But what I didn't realize - that in my heart … I never gave it as much weight. No really… I had no idea that I truly felt this way. That it wasn’t just rhetoric.
Civil Union, after all, is a legal, binding commitment - and yet some how… for me… it was not gelling. I wasn’t giving it the weight it deserved (or did it).
Today I am sitting and thinking about actually marrying the woman I love, and what that truly means. Literally I am welling up as I type – and frankly I am surprising myself.
When I come into work after our ceremony - I must notify my employer that I am now 'Married'. When I fill out my taxes - I will be 'Married'. When I go to the doctor and fill in the forms - I will no longer be forced to check the 'Single' box. There won't be any question or difference or confusion.
I won't be ‘in a Civil Union’.
I can simply check : [ ] Single [x] Married [ ] Divorced [ ] Widowed
This feels very different - and I don't mean that in the political “I want to fight for my rights way” -- I mean ... emotionally, spiritually, passionately.
I will be married. I will be a married woman. After 23 years of calling this adorable, sexy, playful, intelligent, free-spirited woman my wife... she actually will be.
Thank you to the folks at GLAD and LMF and to the couples that participated in the lawsuit, and to the legions that supported them, and to the Connecticut Supreme Court for making a sound and fair judgment.
Friday evening, after working out in the yard and doing some house cleaning, I sat comfortably in an arm chair we have in the corner of the dining room. We were expecting company later that night, so I sat chatting with my busy wife who was in the kitchen preparing various food items.
Suddenly, around the kitchen corner and into the dining room --- comes a very small mouse.
Yes. A mouse.
I did what any red blooded American woman should do upon sighting a mouse, I picked up my feet. Then calmly explained the situation to my curious wife. And when I say ‘calmly’ I mean that I shrieked “A mouse!” shaking my finger wildly in its general direction.
The mouse rounded the corner and scampered under a chair in the living room. Hmm. Now what.
We both stood there staring at the chair. What to do, what to do…
As humans I figured we had very little chance of actually catching the mouse ourselves. So we called the FREE dog into the room. Our attempts to get her to look around for rodents were futile. She simply ran around excitedly thinking we were going to give her a biscuit or let her out or throw a ball. Useless. Clearly we needed an animal with a brain. We needed a cat.
Technically, we have a cat. But it would be easier for me to catch a greased mouse with my bare hands than to get our feral cat into our living room
We briefly considered borrowing a cat... The Daughter The Therapist has two - certainly she could lend one… but it would take time for the cat to acclimate, and get comfortable in the house before even beginning to hunt. And we didn’t have a lot of time.
Ok. useless FREE dog, AWOL FREE cat – clearly we would need a trap.
I had recently tossed out our last ‘humane’ mouse trap. Figures. So I went out in search of one. I was on my third store, – with no hope of getting a humane trap anywhere local… dismayed I purchased a standard ‘quick-kill’ trap.
At the checkout my cell phone buzzed. Maw: “You can come home now” Weese: “I can? What happened?” Maw: “I let him out.” Weese: “out?" Maw: "Yes, out the door." Weese: "How did you get him to go out the door?" Maw: “I told him to.”
So I went home. My gentle wife explained that the mouse circled the whole first floor and wound up near the kitchen door. So she simply opened the door for him and gave him a little nudge and out he went. She said he was clearly just a baby mouse and rather cute and confused.
Hmm. Don’t mice have lots of babies?
Against my beliefs I thought it best to set the ‘quick-kill’ trap in the basement, just in case there were more babies. With no cat, a useless dog and company on the way... I felt it was best.
My curious wife questioned why I would put the trap in the basement. This mouse was clearly a baby…and much too small to climb stairs.
Just the thought of the little guy… trying to make his little way up the steep basement stairs… I realized there was no way I could actually set out a ‘quick-kill’ trap. I sheepishly put it back in the box.
I decided to finish up my tidying so I started up the stairs to get the vacuum – and stopped dead in my tracks.
“Umm-- love, it seems baby mice can climb stairs.”
There on the top step was …yes… another tiny mouse.
He was obviously scared, and simply froze, never trying to escape. We easily popped a little cup over him and escorted him waaaayyy out in the back yard.
We explained to him that he would have a wonderful happy time there – plenty of friends, including the little pet lizards which we had released out there so many years ago...
Back in the house we waited and watched. We are still watching. No mice yet.
Have you noticed that the Scott's lawn folks are inundating us with commercials this year on the all important fall feeding. Well, first, I have to say - I agree. The fall is not only a wonderful time to feed your lawn but also a great time to start new seed. The fall fertilizers are specially formulated to promote strong root growth, so essential for healthy lawn year round.
But ...people... listen. If you are cutting back because of these crazy financial times - by all means skip the fertilizer. Your lawn does not need you. It will grow happily without any intervention or care at all. Sure, it may not be the weed free, lush carpet that you see on those Scotts commercials, but let's keep our priorities in line. It's just grass.
Part of the problem could be that I am currently reading 'Walden' -- but here's what happened.
I was sitting in a Dr.'s office waiting room yesterday afternoon, thumbing through a magazine. The magazine I picked up was some 'home-ish' type rag with a picture of a cute, but pricey lakehouse cottage on the front.
Who doesn't love a lakehouse cottage?
I started to read the cover article about the happy, happy family pictured in their cute, but pricey lakehouse cottage. The pictures showed their happy, happy children carrying around a top of the line but gently used kayak, and their adorable Labrador dog lapping their happy faces and scampering around the finely manicured yard. The article talked about how these folks built their house to look historic and renovated... rather than like new construction. It mentioned how they left the open rafters on the second floor to gain that rustic look. I wondered, only briefly, what climate they might be in... but didn't have much time to ponder over that because I was quickly bombarded with pictures of their o so Pottery Barn interior, interestingly showing that happy Labrador in almost every shot (hmm, no visible dog hair on the floor). My climate question was eventually answered however, when it was mentioned that this happy, happy family only stays in this house during the warm summer months. They retreat to their winterized home down the street for the rest of the year.
That's when I put the magazine down and picked up National Geographic.
Something so seemingly innocent. Cute little pictures of a cute little lake cottage... Tell me, what is the percentage of people who can actually afford that lake cottage - nevermind afford it as a second home.
And so it is further ingrained in our sheep like brains -- we WANT it, we NEED it. We will be HAPPY if we have this, and so will our family, and our dog. My poor, poor dog... o dear.
Over and over, on TV, in magazines, in advertisements we are trained to want more. We are convinced that these are the things that bring us true joy.
And if you are EVEN thinking of commenting that you like to read these magazines just for decorating ideas and such ...think again.
My point is that exactly.
That's precisely how they get the average person to read these magazines. They know you can't afford this cottage. But clearly you can apply some of these great ideas to your own home! Because then people.. you will be happy. And your mutt will become a Labrador but will not shed, and your children will do well in school, and they will love you unconditionally - even through their teen years, and your marriage will improve and your sex life will be better than you can imagine.
Winter is coming...in case you hadn't noticed. With these crazy prices we are all trying to think of ways to save on heating bills this year.
Installing a digital, programmable thermostat can not only save money - but they are just damned convenient. How nice to wake to a warm house and still save money!
They're also an easy do-it-yourself project. I installed our second one this weekend and have included an illustrated tutorial below in case you are nervous about doing it yourself.
Here is our current thermostat. An original Honeywell. It's served us well - but it's time to upgrade.
First, gather the tools you will need for your job.
A thermostat is a low voltage device - so while it won't kill you, turn off power to the unit. Safety first. You can do this either at your electrical panel...
...or you may have a switch that cuts off power to the thermostat. Be sure to test to see there is no current before you begin.
Next, familiarize yourself with the instructions. This can save time and aggravation later.
Remove the thermostat cover. Then find and NOTE the current configuration of the wires. Either jot this down or label the wires directly.
Oh.. by the way... Whenever I am taking something apart that I am not all that familiar with, I try to line up the parts in order of their removal. This helps a whole lot if I need to re-install the old part.
Ok, so here we are ready for our new device.
Based on where the wires were located and how they were to connect to the new device, I realized I would need to move it slightly. So I got a couple more tools to make that adjustment.
Here, I have the wires hooked up, and you can see under the screw hole to the left that I have drilled new holes and installed a yellow wall anchor (a molly). The instructions were very clear on how to connect the wires - so there were no worries.
Once the base was attached firmly to the wall, I installed batteries and snapped on the control box.
Now its time to program the ON/OFF cycles and temperature settings. These settings are detailed in the instruction booklet as well as having Simplified Instructions right on the inside of the lid. This is very handy as a reminder since you generally don't changes these settings too often.
hmm... looks like my artistic wife has some work to do on her fancy faux finish.
Remember, any settings you make now can be overridden. And the great part about that is - let's just say you are very chilly one night and crank that puppy up. Then - you drink a bottle of wine and then... perhaps start dancing around the living room...naked... ya know cuz its so warm ... and then you might...dance your way upstairs and possibly fall into a deep, drunken sleep. zzzzzz NOT TO WORRY! Your new digital, programmable thermostat will set the heat back down at its regularly scheduled time -even tho you used the override feature to raise the temperature during its ON time.
All I wanted to find out was how to recycle cardboard.
I have been putting flat cardboard out with our blue recyclable bin for several weeks now and suddenly they started to leave it behind. So I started making phone calls. First I called the town hall. Clueless. Since it's the law to recycle here, she seemed to assume that I was looking for an easy way out, and gave me permission to overflow the local landfill to my hearts content by simply throwing all that nasty cardboard out with my rubbish.
I asked her for the number for the recycling company.
I called and posed the same question - do you take flat cardboard (to be differentiated from corrugated cardboard -- which can be recycled here if you are willing to drive it over to the dump yourself, which we do) in the recycle bin. Now when you work for a company called 'Enviro' shouldn't you know something about recycling in general. Isn't that your business?
She basically told me - No. We don't take that. Ok, great - would you know who does? Short silence - Um, no... I have no idea really.
These questions, in this day and age, in my forward thinking state of Connecticut should NOT be this hard to answer. And should certainly not be met with a response that sounds like it's the first time anyone has ever asked. It's not like I asked why the Hadron Collider shut down last week, for goodness sakes.
If you're driving by my house this winter - look for flames shooting out of our chimney. Because I know my pyromaniacal wife is reading this post right now and planning to take matters into her own hands.
(hmm, this begs for a tip-o-day on fire extinguishers)
Really? No... kidding...kidding - I am still staying out of it. Tho I have to tell you it's really limiting my blog reading.
This is not a problem tho as I just received a complimentary, digital copy of the upcoming Scientific American (because I am a member of The Nature Conservancy) It's a special issue called Earth 3.0. I have only just skimmed the first few pages and already I am excited.
It's not on the newsstands yet... but watch out for it because let me tell you, it's gonna be a good read.