Archive for the ‘house’ Category
When we moved into our house, there was a tall tree by the front steps. Unfortunately, it was encircled in vines. One afternoon, within our first year, there, I cut all the vines, exposing the trunk. However, it was too late. The tree died, and we had to have it removed. We’ve been treeless there for over a decade.
Until this past weekend.
We got a new tree, as part of the Cincinnati Park‘s department ReLeaf program. The goal is to increase the number of trees in the city, both for aesthetics, as well as to help combat global warming. It’s a great program: we got our tree, and the only real catch was to plant it well, and have it within thirty feet of the street–our spot was easily in that zone.
The Kwanzan cherry tree, the one we selected from about a half-dozen options. Though it won’t produce fruit will have nice pink leaves, that turn green in the fall, and a nice spread.
Of course, ours looks like little more than a tall stick in the ground at the moment. Time will fix it. We picked it up and laid it in the back of my Brick. We carefully planted and watered it–a bit tricky, given how my front yard slopes.
I’m looking forward to see how this grows–I’m developing a good sense of patience for that sort of thing.
The City of Cincinnati issued new trash cans a few weeks ago, to be used instead of my can. It’s a large, rolling thing. If my property was flat, it would be tolerable, but, given that my front yard is a steep slope, it’s a bit of a pain to roll up and down the hill. The lid flips open, and doesn’t have any sort of latch–not even a friction-snap like my can. As you may guess, I’m not a fan, but it’s not something that’s worth getting too upset about.
The other evening, around 10:30 or 11 in the evening, we heard a rumble, like things were being knocked over. I tried to decide if it was worth investigating. It repeated, so I did a tail count: none of the cats were into any mischief. For the most part, they were trying to figure out what I was doing. I went and sat back down on the sofa. A third repeat had me really wondering. The sound had sounded like it was coming from outside. Looked out the front windows, but didn’t see anything. I flipped on the lights to the back porch, and looked out.
By the trash can was a couple of Chinese food containers. I stepped outside, and opened the lid to the trash can. A raccoon was looking up at me. I generally think raccoons are cute, but they are also animals I know can be somewhat unpredictable.
I wish I could say I calmly went inside. I’m a fan of wildlife. When I’m at my day job doing whatever it is I do that is dull, monotonous, and not making the world a better (or worse) place, one of my daydreams is join at research team to photograph wild snow leopards (or the clouded leopards, or another wild cat species). While I realize that there is a difference between seeing a wild animal in the wild where you semi-expect it and unexpectedly seeing a wild animal confined in your trash can, my reaction suggests that I’d be more likely to scare every snow leopard in the Himalayas.
I flipped the lid closed–the racoon sat confused. I like to imagine he shrugged and went back to picking through my garbage. I went inside and close the door, and my wife came to make sure I was OK. We did a tail count–everyone was accounted for, and being mellow. I looked at my cats. Though descended from fierce predators, I face the reality that only Eddy at his wildest might stand a chance with a racoon. They are as domesticated and removed from the wild as I am.
Overnight, I worried about the raccoon, and if he’d be able to get out of the deep can. The next morning, I made sure all the cats secured behind a door, and I grabbed our broom. First, I tapped on the side of the can: no reaction. Then, I used the end of the handle, to open the lid from as far as I could manage. I peeked in: just garbage, no raccoon. I picked up the mess, then went to work.
As I’ve mentioned, my house is over a hundred and twenty years old. It was built with a stone foundation–the basement looks like a dungeon in the right light. Stone basements, by design, “seep” moisture. For the most part, this is not a huge deal–we may get a bit of moisture around the edges of the room. However, if we get a lot of rain, such as we had over the week of the Fourth of July, it gets very wet.
This presents a few challenges. Since the cats’ litterboxes are in the basement, it makes it less-than-pleasant for them. My clever wife has kludged around the problem on occasion, but it wasn’t perfect. Also, since the clothes washer and dryer are in the basement, it makes it difficult to work–you can slip carrying down a full basket of clothes, and if you drop a sock going from the washer to the dryer, it’s not good. We’ve looked for a solution, but never found anything that was both functional and cost effective.
However, we were walking through IKEA last weekend, and came across the Platta decking. Meant for outdoor decks, it is sold in packs of nine one-foot squares. The squares snap together almost like LEGO, and can be rearranged. It was similar to other solutions we considered, but much cheaper. We guestimated the area that would cover a strip from the bottom of the stairs to in front of the washer and dryer, and got four containers.
Installation is fairly easy–as I said, you simply lay one square on the other. The bottom of the square has pegs that go into loops on the edge. There was an open box at IKEA, and we set up a floor in about two minutes to check out (which several other couples checked out as well). Setting up the four boxes took about fifteen minutes for the initial pass.
The four boxes covered the area we wanted, with some left over–we may reconfigure it, or possibly get another set to expand it. For a couple of reasons, I’m not keen to do the whole basement (a combination of cost, and wanting to be able to do work on the cement floor). However, it looks good. As of this writing, I can’t say how it will perform with serious rain–we simply haven’t had any (perhaps it will get mentioned in a hodge-podge). One thing I like is that I can pull the floor easily if it is causing a problem with drainage.
However, it looks like it may be a great solution to our basement issue, and perhaps the end to the cat bridge.
My wife and daughter planted a garden.
The main garden has strawberries and red bell peppers.
We have an herb garden in front. We have basil, which I like for all sorts of things, including pizza. I requested cilantro, as we’ve been using a lot more lately.
I confess I was goofing off on my bike while they were working on this. At least Eddy was there to supervise.
In other plant news, our flowers are blooming nicely.
When we first looked at our house, we saw “thorny things” that were first on our list of things to remove. However, when we moved in, it turned out they were roses just starting to bloom. They are absolutely hearty–in spite of freezing weather, trimming, wind storms, and other abuse, they still come back.
This is the first year I’ve had a lens that can do macro, so I had some fun taking pictures of them.
We have pink and dark red roses, though some of the latter come out more like fuchsia.
This week we’re supposed to get some rain, so I wanted to get some pictures to ensure they still had their petals.
1998 was a busy year for us–lots of big, happy things in our life. So, this year we are celebrating several fifteen year anniversaries.
Our first anniversary was our closing on our house. I’ve lived in this house longer than any other place I’ve called home. Built in 1890, it was redone before we moved in (all-modern electrical), and we’ve replaced all the major appliances over the time we’ve been here. We’ve also had a lot of milestones in this house.
As most readers of this blog know, I take a lot of photos. While I’m mostly all-digital, I do like to print a few, either to give to family, or for my own enjoyment. The wall behind my desk is decorated with them. I’ve posted about this before, but it’s grown, and moved from including bib numbers to now nearly all photos (and a few postcards).’
The photos are printed on my printer onto photo paper, and attached with a Scotch Restickable Glue Stick, which make the back of the print like a Post-It*–no damage to the wall if I remove and reposition them. I move older picture from the center of the spaceright over my desk to the outer perimeter–this is so I don’t have baby pictures of my daughter upfront while needing to crane my neck to see a more recent one. It’s proven to be a fun, easy way to decorate our study.
*Post-It makes photo paper with a back already like that, and I even have some. Of course, it’s almost never loaded in the printer.
About once every three years, the stars align, and we light a fire in our fireplace. Too often, it’s not cold enough to merit it, or too cold, or we’re in too late to want to stay up and watch the fire. However, we had our act together tonight.
Beso and Luna were fascinated by it.
S’mores were made for the humans.
The Christmas Snow Leopard came. This year, they got collars, as their old ones were getting somewhat stringy. We like to Beastie Bands, from Confetti Cats. Beso got a monochrome tiger print (NOT white tiger print)
Luna, the hacker ninja princess, got a purple one with unicorns.
Eddy got a red collar titled “crazy cat.”
It made for a pleasant Christmas Eve!
*Last year, we bought plush mice from the Snow Leopard Trust. The mice are doing OK, and I was able to make a contribution through my company. They are a great organization, who have figured out the best way to both protect these beautiful cats while meeting the needs of the people who share that land.
Yesterday, my getting-home routine was, well, routine. I put my bike on the porch, entered the house, and took off my helmet and shoes, and sat on the floor and talked to my wife and daughter a bit. We had a repair man over, so we had some things to talk about. Such as bad things about the company that originally installed our furnace (grrrrr!).
Eddy came over and said “hi,” but I never saw the kittens wander over. Somewhat unusual, but I assumed they were dozing upstairs. We decided what we were doing for supper, and I went to bring my bike in and take it to be basement.
When I got down to the basement, Beso and Luna were there, along with a visitor: an eight-inch long snake. I don’t know snakes well, so I made a panic call to my wife–I didn’t know what I was going to be dealing with, but I wanted help. And emotional support. She was fairly certain it wasn’t poisonous. The snake wasn’t really moving, but we weren’t sure if it was dead or stunned. There were not obvious injuries, but it was still. My guess is he got into the basement, Beso and Luna came across him and they decided it was the Best Cat Toy EVER!.
We swept him into a bucket, and took him outside. I took pictures, and put up a tweet to see if someone more familiar with snakes could identify him. A reply said it was a garter snake. Outside, and feeling a bit more confident that no one in our family got hurt, we worried over him. He was actually kinda cute. He flicked out a tiny red tongue–not much thicker than dental floss–and showed he was alive. We let him be, and hoped he’d be OK. Twenty minutes later, he was gone.
Back inside, we looked over all the cats–no signs off bites (I’m a bit paranoid, and also wanted to know in case there was an issue). I’m an animal lover, and have little ill will towards snakes. However, I don’t want them in my house!
This week, we got a new roof for our house. Looks pretty good, (though basically the same as the old one).
Meanwhile, the peppers my wife and daughter are growing nicely.