Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
John and I had some Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock last night because there is something to celebrate.
The abandoned house next door is (we assume) finally sold. As of this point, the house has stood empty for two winters and three summers, and was up to be sold in a sheriff’s auction yesterday at 10am.
The people who used to live there were a perfectly nice older couple. We saw him the most often. Whenever he was out in the yard and we were out in the yard, his two fat, fluffy, little white dogs would run over to say hi, and he would follow them. He complimented us on our garden and our work on the deck, we chatted about gardening and yard work and commiserated about the depredations of the deer and rabbits, and he lent us a post-hole digger one time. Good neighbors. Then he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died fairly shortly after. His widow stayed in the house for a little longer, but the house had been mortgaged to the hilt to support his business (making and selling organic salsa or pasta sauce or something like that) and she was having trouble keeping up, and then the main line to the house broke and that was the last straw, since she couldn’t afford to fix it. (She shared all of this with us when we happened to meet in the yard one early spring day, after the fat little dogs had run over to us to say hi, as usual.) So she just walked away. She took what she wanted, and simply left all of the rest. Trinkets, clothes, pots and pans, holiday decorations… everything. (You can see all of the left-behind debris through the windows, and one time when an adjuster from the bank was over, we rather boldly followed her inside to check things out.) All in all a rather sad story. I occasionally wonder what happened to her, and those two dogs.
Anyway, the house presumably has an owner now. And one day, hopefully soon, we will come home and there will be a dumpster in the driveway so that the new owners can clean it out. It needs cleaning out. And a new roof, a new main line, and significant siding repair. And eventually, either someone will move in, or it will be sold again.
But the important thing is that it is no longer an empty, abandoned, house.
I had resolved to read all of the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett in order… and I have finished.
40 books in just over two and a half months. 81 days exactly. Which works out to a book every 2.025 days.
I thought that this seemed like a reasonable rate. John thought that I read almost inhumanly quickly.
Another year older yesterday.
We went out to dinner (at The Pine Club) the night before since the actual day I had to spend down in Cincinnati for non-reschedule-able work reasons, and there was some uncertainty over when I would actually make it home that evening.
So last night after I finally got home I had leftover bone-in ribeye steak, guacamole and tortilla chips, some fresh bread, and a bottle (shared with John) of my brother Jeff’s (very delicious) wine. A dinner of whatever then heck I could scrounge out of the kitchen because I sure didn’t feel like cooking, and John needed to kitchen for bread-making and coating the cheese with wax anyway.
(More on the cheese later…)
It was an odd birthday, and I didn’t get to take the day off as I like to do, but an oddly satisfying one nevertheless.
Ever since we got the boat finished, John and I have spent large swaths of the weekend out on the lake – sailing around, and fishing, and swimming, and just generally enjoying the heck out of life.
The first weekend of August we took a long weekend off and went to to Michigan to visit John’s family. We stayed at his brother’s place on Whitmore Lake, and were joined by another brother, his Mom and his Step-Dad. They brought their boats (a kayak, a small single-hull sailboat, and a canoe) and we all went out on the lake. That was actually the first time that there was enough wind for us to really sail, and it was a pleasure to find out that our boat handles very well indeed under sail.
Building that boat? Was totally one of the best ideas ever. (For which John gets all of the credit, as it was his idea, and then all of his hard research, and planning, and designing, and building. I just helped sometimes.)
While the boat was being built, I asked John a lot of questions about sailing, and the mechanics of using the wind to make the boat go where you wanted it to go. He explained about the different kinds of rigging was, what beating and tacking were, the physics of sailing into the wind… but when I would ask how you knew something, like how you knew that you needed to trim the sail, or to what degree you needed to adjust it to make the most of the wind, his answer was that you would just know, that you would be able to feel it. Which was a little frustrating at the time, because I am the sort of person who likes to plan everything out and who wants to know how to do something before I actually set out to do it.
Turns out that he was right. It is way easier to learn how to sail if you don’t get hung up on reading books and websites about it and just get out and do it. And a lot of it is really intuitive, you really do just kind of feel how you should adjust the sails to catch the wind. Which is pretty cool.
I prefer to sit up front and work the foresail, while John sits in back and handles the mainsail and rudder. (When I am sitting up front, I don’t have to duck for the boom, because it passes right over my head. Bonus.)
The way that the foresail works, it directs the wind into the mainsail (unless you are running gull-winged before the wind) and like the mainsail, it has to be able to swing from one side of the boat to the other. The mainsail on our boat has a boom, which makes swinging it easy. The foresail does not have a boom or a spar (though this is the next project, so I am told) which makes working it a little trickier. At the bottom corner of the foresail, there is a large grommet, and to this grommet are attached two ropes. These ropes run through eyebolts on the front crossbar over the pontoons on each side. And you haul on the ropes to pull the foresail from one side to the other, and to adjust the angle of the sail. Frankly, it reminds me a lot of riding horses and using the reins to direct the animal. It is also a heck of a good upper body workout, since you are working against the wind the whole time.
Something that I learned: wrapping the ropes around your hands will give you better control and leverage, and will also give you bruises and rope-burns.
Something that we learned about sailing the last time that we went out – throwing out fishing lines when you are putt-putting around using the trolling motor is a great idea, and you can do a pretty good job of catching fish that way. But throwing out fishing lines when you are under sail is not a great idea. Because sailing our boat is a two person job, and each person needs to be using both hands, especially if there is a stiff wind. Which leaves exactly no hands free to deal with the fishing poles if you happen to get a fish. Also, if you are paying more attention to sailing then to your fishing lines, you might not notice right away that you have a fish on your line, which is bad for the fish. Lesson decidedly learned. That was a very exciting five minutes or so, and a few times there I thought that there was a chance that we might go over.
Also, I have learned that you really need a lot less wind to really move (especially with a boat as small as ours) then I had originally assumed. I thought that 5-7 mph winds were nothing, too light. Turns out that is actually just about perfect. Last weekend, when the winds from Hurricane Irene blew through Ohio, we went on the lake. The wind that day was 12-13 mph, with gusts up to 17mph or so. And that was actually a little bit much for me. Yeah, we really flew over the water, but it was a lot harder to handle the foresail, and my hands and arms got tired pretty quickly.
Even a little bit of speed feels like a heck of a lot more on the water.
So one of my resolutions this year was to “be able to actually catch stuff when I go fishing”. This is one of the resolutions that I made that I had absolutely no control over the outcome of whatsoever, as John has assured me that fishing is about 15% skill (choosing the right bait/spinners, knowing how to cast, etc) and about 100% pure dumb luck.
Last Sunday we went fishing at Caesar Creek Reservoir, and I managed to pull in three good-sized bluegills in the space of about 10 minutes using a minnow spinner. That is about 300% better then I did all last season.
Of course, after that streak, I was back to my usual casting practice and drowning worms for the rest of the fishing trip.
But hey! I still caught three fish!
We weighed them on the kitchen scale when we got home, and they were each just under a half-pound.
We breaded them and pan fried them up and had them for lunch.
DeForest was the one responsible for really getting both of us into fencing in the first place.
We have gotten more snow (it is coming down in big, fat flakes which I am watching through my home office window as I type) and the grass is now almost completely obscured, though the roads remain mostly dry. There is some ice, but not much. Pretty tame according to the standards of someone who grew up in the Cleveland snowbelt, and then went on to live in upstate New York and Michigan. Still, I have lived down here in SW Ohio long enough to be pleasantly surprised by seasonally appropriate weather.
Snow is nature’s way of rewarding you for the winter cold.
I don’t think that many people down here would agree with me, though. Certainly not the people I encountered on the way to yoga yesterday morning, who were so freaked out by the white stuff falling out of the sky that they could barely manage to do 30 mph on a 4 lane, 45 mph road. Certainly not the road crews, who were already out spewing salt into the roads. (Seriously guys? The snow is not even sticking to the roads yet. But go ahead and waste the salt now, so that when February hits us with a real blizzard, you are all out of salt and money to clear the roads. Really, go ahead. That strategy ensures Level 1 Snow Emergencies and Snow Days.) Certainly not my snowbird neighbors, who seem to have packed up and flown south for the winter.
“Weather experts” have been saying for the past several months that because the area had a hotter and dryer then usual summer, we were certain to have a colder and snowier (not really sure how that one works, but okay) winter. It looks like they might be right. I hope that they are right. I badly want to have a true white Christmas. (Two years ago it was gorgeous, and sunny, and in the 50s on Christmas, which is not the type of Christmas weather that I appreciate.)
In today’s edition of “its a small world”, not only does my yoga instructor go to the same cardiologist that I do, but we share a diagnosis. And two of the other women who are regulars in my class are the wives of co-workers.
Yesterday, on the first day of December, we got the first real snow of the year here. Now, we have had some really heavy frosts over the past month, but this was real snow, really falling out of the sky in pretty flurries, and really laying a thin layer of white down over the lawn and flowerbeds.
It made me gleeful. For one thing, it raises the hope that we might actually have a white Christmas this year. (Because it was so hot and dry this summer, we have had a lot of “weather experts” saying that that means that we will have an extra cold and snowy winter, and I would love for them to be right.) For another thing, this area is incredibly wimpy about snowy weather and how to deal with snow. Every year since I moved down here we have had a couple of “snow days” due to “extreme winter weather”. I haven’t gotten this many days off due to snow since I was in grade school – it always makes me feel like a kid again. It is not even that Dayton gets an unusual amount of snow… they don’t. But I don’t think that the city allocated very much money to snow removal, and they usually blow through it all early on in the winter, wasting the road salt on flurries like the one we got yesterday, and then when the real winter hits in January and February, there is nothing left.
Oh, and the flurries yesterday were pretty, but the didn’t do much more then lightly cover the grass and make the roads a little wet. Yet the news on the radio during my short drive home at the end of the day was full of reports of accidents due to the weather.
Speaking of the news on the radio, one of the hot stories on NPR recently has been the US Post Office and the fact that it is slowly going broke, and how because of that they are having to close locations and ponder cutting down on the number of deliveries per week. You know what I have to say about that? I went to my local post office on November 16 and mailed (first class) a small package that contained a birthday present for my nephew. You know when that package arrived at its destination? Today. Two and a half weeks after I dropped it off. What I have to say is this – let the post office go broke. Make them reorganize. Make them become more efficient. And next time I have to mail a package, I am going to bypass the USPS and go with UPS or FedEx.
When we took him to the vet the last time for his routine check-up, we mentioned that his eyes had been pretty watery and weepy for a while. I thought that maybe he had a cold, or was allergic to something (because cats can have allergies too), or that Merlin had been whacking him in the face too hard or too often. So it was a little surprising when he came back with a diagnosis of a chronic eve condition.
We have a bottle of dietary-supplement-goo that we have to give him twice a day for the rest of his life. The label on the bottle claims that the goo has a “delectable taste”, which must be a flat out lie. It doesn’t smell delectable, and from the way that Percival reacts when we dose him, I am pretty sure that he doesn’t think that it tastes delectable either. The best way that we found to get it in him (and we pondered all sorts of different delivery methods, including mashing it up with some tuna and trying to get him to eat it of his own free will) was to essentially pry his little mouth open and shove it on in.
I squirt the dose onto a finger, John holds Percival and gets his mouth open, and then I swoop in and stick my finger in his maw, wiping the payload off onto the inside of his cheek or far enough back in his mouth on his tongue that he can’t spit it back out. He is not appreciative, but his eyes do look a lot better after a couple of weeks on the dietary supplement.
We also have a tube of “eye-drops” for him. I say “eye-drops” because it is actually a tube of ointment, and there is simply no way that we can smear ointment on Percival’s eyes. We have enough trouble with the dietary supplement. Eventually I will get back in touch with the vet and request actual eye-drops, but since the supplement seems to be making such a big difference, it is not a very high priority.
I have had my car for 8, almost 9, years and I still do not know how to change the dashboard clock.
I don’t usually think of changing the dashboard clock until I am in the car and actually driving it, and that is not exactly the best time in the world to dig the manual out of the glovebox and start paging through it. My standard M.O. is just to wait and ignore the fact that my dashboard clock needs updating until John is in the car with me, and I can “ask” him change it for me. Which, this year, happened on the way to fencing practice, about two-and-a-half weeks after the official time change. Which is about par for the course.
Continuing with the car-related anecdotes, I usually listen to NPR on the way to work, and my drive generally coincides with “Morning Edition”. Yesterday morning, the rapper Coolio (who fancies himself to be a “ghetto gourmet”) was on the show and was discussing Susan Stamberg’s mother-in-law’s cranberry sauce recipe with her. The segment ended with him performing an a cappella rap about cranberry sauce, which included the line “I have a fetish/for that cranberry relish”.
It was deeply surreal.