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Dubrovnik and a Bit of Bosnia

Mostar, across the Neretva River Enjoyed a hearty breakfast this morning while listening to Lulu belting out 'To Sir with Love' ...

Friday, March 31, 2006

Rainy Day

Ah! Nothing like a lovely day doing only exactly whatever the hell you feel like doing. I started the day painting the area around my fireplace and I am totally in love with the results. The job is actually a re-painting of what originally came out an unfortunate shade of dark burgandy. This time I used a 'granite' textured paint... that is paint with black stuff that simulates grit and also tiny bits of gold. The paint makes the wall surface look like it is a rock surface. Trust me, it looks wonderful.

This week I just discovered the wonders of tracking shipments on the Internet. I tracked a package that started the week in Shanghai China, moved on to Anchorage Alaska, then it was shipped to Indianapolis Illinois, on to Rancho Cordova and it made it to my doorstep this morning. That package held my new iPod. So far I love the Pod, which will be able to hold all my bird calls for use in the field. When I get the attachments to do so, I will also able to download digital photos onto it. The iPod is a huge treat and I ought to feel guilty about the expense but damn it, I do not. My normal logic is if I drank or did drugs I would spend as much money every couple of weeks. Yes, a flimsy excuse - bite me.

If UPS delivers on Saturdays my replacment Canon Camera will be here. My first task will be a picture of my finished fireplace project. The picture will magically appear in this post sometime soon.

I spent some time tossing stuff and shredding things too. All in all, Chevez would have approved.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sleep Deprivation Travail Continues

Day three, day four? Of insomnia. Have no clue how to properly punctuate and form the previous fragments into complete sentences with question mark in center of sentence. But how could I? I am suffering from insomnia and my brain is not working!

Proof of brain being inoperative is that yesterday I had to take VERY IMPORTANT PAPER to an even more important state agency for a very important stamp. I decided to run the errand on my way home, so I got on the shuttle bus and got off at 10th & N, looking for 1400 N Street. To my horror, the 1400 building had not skipped down four city blocks so as to be convenient for me. So marched down the block and found 1400 N street - apartments for geriatric residence with one of those ring an apartment so someone will buzz me into the building. Some state senators are pretty damned old, but surely state business isn't now being carried out in the sitting rooms of state workers who sit about in their pajamas all day?

Gave full consideration to having geriatric resident ring me in and beg them to sign VERY IMPORTANT PAPER, but then they were sure to not have the VERY IMPORTANT STATE STAMP with which to date my paper.

Went to the HUMONGOUS state building next door at 1410 or some such number and begged guard to give me a state phone book. GAK! Very important state agency was at 1400 10th street. And I was so frazzled I took off, not in the direction I had come from, but across the Capital Park where I was in grave danger from maurauding gangs of rogue squirrels on the hunt for candy-coated popcorn, peanuts & screw the surprise.

I ended up walking round to 9th street, boarding the shuttle bus to my car and calling my botched attempt enough for the day. At least I can say I got my walking in for today.

I blame it all on the insomnia.

SHUT UP, you don't know that.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rotten

Rotten day at work. Have been hit by the annual insomnia which strikes sometimes when daylight hours change in the fall , but it always hits me in the spring. I can fall asleep easily enough but wake around 2 am wide awake. So at work I'm tired and on the verge of dozing off. Ugh! What a drag.

Last night I went to Lowes after work to make final the work order for my new doors. I also picked up all the necessary locks - all of which are tuned to the same key now. Hurrah. I should have written that hurrah all in caps but am too tired to hit the shift key. shoot me now.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Faff-to-Go

I was listening to Air America this morning and heard them mention 'Kerfluffle' in connection with the Shrub. The radio announcer incorrectly pronounced Kerfluffle but that wasn't the point for me. Kerfluffle (a fuss) is just an Anglophile words that amuses me like Faff (fuss), rabbiting (chatting aimlessly), or gas (rabbiting). I never heard the Shrub use the word and if I find out people relate it to the minging nit, then I will have to once again change this blog's title. Don't want to be mistaken for a Shrub supporter.

Hum... maybe Faff-to-go will do in a pinch.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Lower case yikes.

Sheesh. Went to Lowes and bought the following:

1 gallon interior 'granite' paint for fireplace wall.
1 pack gold sort of glitter for fireplace paint
1 quart pale yellow outdooor paint for touchups
2 eight foot wooden whatchamacalllit strips to frame fireplace area
2 mediocre paint brushes
1 shower curtain liner to replace mildewed liner

One Hundred Six Dollars!

I thought it might amount to fifty dollars, tops but I guess my brain was on standby.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Wet

Rain again? Hand me a towel please. I just let Rum-kitty in. He was outside overnight because MOM didn't care to hear her gay-boy kitties having wildcat sex all night long in the hall outside my door.

A few days ago I woke up and Rum & rapist-kitty Kola were at IT. They were loud - raucous - the air was filled with so much musical gayboy kitty-song, when I opened my bedroom door I sleepily thought it to be wet boxers night and expected to be handed a Cosmopolitan with a pink paper umbrella; stupid annoying cats. I've locked them out of the house every night since and they might as well get used to it. When my new French doors arrive there will be NO kitty door, at least for a while.

Guilt, guilt, guilt.

Well... maybe I'll install one of the new cat flaps to the door leading into the garage. The 'new' cat flaps are no more than 6 inches square. The boys can get into the garage from a kitty door put in by some previous home owner, and from there they can enter the house from the garage. If I really want them to learn how to use a new cat flap there will be weeks of painfully pitious mewing outside. On the other hand if I pretend I don't want them in the house at all they'll figure it out in ten seconds flat. Hell, I can probabaly just forget putting the cat flap and the boys will dig UP from the crawl space under the house & pretend they have no idea where the six foot hole came from.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Founding Fugly Father



Oooo I got one of the new 2006 quarters today. At first I was excited, as I always am when I find a new quarter in my pocket change. Then the light hit it just right and I was stunned. That is one fugly quarter.

I'm sorry, but I'm just tellin' you the truth - preparing you for the assult on your change purse.

Looking at the nickle on the right here, you may think it looks so-so. Maybe you think it looks nice, I mean, it is different. There are very few coins ever made that use a face on picture unless you are looking at one of the coins they make for Chuckie Cheese so the kids can play games. I now know why the cheese stands alone.

I'm telling you. Depending on what angle you hold the quarter, the lighting throws strong cadaverous shadows on Tommy's face, lighting him unflatteringly from below or above, making him look more like a character from the Night of the Living Dead than one of the founding fathers.

Mark my words - hand one of these nickles to a small child and if the light is right, the kid will scream, and require a change of Huggies.

Progress

Worked half day today so the contractor from Lowes could come to measure my front & rear door frames. That I want a mail slot seems to be a bit of a snag but not much of one. I think it is going to be another two weeks before the actual work is done.

It is a lovely day today, the sun shining and there are huge bumblebees traipsing around the back yard. My little redbud bush and the Cecil Brunner climbing rose are in bloom. In the front beds there are several varieties of daffodils doing their thing. My ikle kingdom is bouncing back from the trauma of the past three weeks.

While I waited for the contractor I could see a guy from SBC up the power pole in the back, rehanging telephone lines from my house and the one next door - that house is vacant just now. Anyway, now a person can stroll through the back yard without garroting themselves on the phone line that for the past three weeks hung across the yard at 4 feet off the ground.

I got naughty today. Placed a bid via EBay for a new, still in the box, 60GB video iPod. Had almost talked myself out of getting it but then I have had my heart set on being able to carry the full range of American bird calls with me wherever I go and that won out. I mean, just how have I managed to live my life thus far without such a thing? I currently have the high bid but not much chance I'm going to get that level of spanking new iPod for so cheap - $250 for a $400 gizmo. If I do get it I will find myself in dire need of a PARTY!

Monday, March 20, 2006

What Would Voldie Do?

Hurrah!

New computer came today - I was literally, lying on the couch feeling sorry for myself - certain the computer had been left on the porch last Friday by UPS and had been stolen. WAH! Yes, poor little me. Then, as I lay whinging on the couch, I heard the UPS truck drive up. I raced to the front door to see the driver walking up to the front door with the humungous box, like an eager puppy I wagged my tail. Hum... not as innocent a metaphore as it seemed at first.

Also over the weekend I went to Lowes and ordered new front door and les French doors for the back patio. Next up, a contractor has to come over and measure the doors & figure out what is needed - then I go back to Lowes to purchase a mail slot metal, doorknobs and deadbolts & such and then it is construction time & then I can have an alarm system put in.

A lot of work to get back to normal around here. I am antsy for my new camera but if I buy it before getting the doors/alarm system then I'll need to carry it around with me or I'll worry about it. I find myself thinking very unkind things about the thieves - the sort of stuff Voldemort or Hitler would think about them (may thieves be impaled on rusty skewers, get buggered by rouge rabid diseased dogs & may their eyes rot in their skulls) not the sort of stuff Jesus or Ghandi would want, i.e., forgive the sinners, they have probably lived a difficult life, yatta, yatta, yatta.

Ghastly. I mean, just think - I'm siding with Voldie & Adolf on this one.

Friday, March 17, 2006

New Rats in the Neighborhood

I was informed that my new computer would most likely arrive on the 16th, so yesterday I came home from work early. The only thing that arrived was a small box of software *sigh*.

So I sat around waiting and waiting for the UPS truck, watching Season II of Bertie & Jeeves from Masterpiece Theater, which features the very young Hugh Laurie & Stephen Fry. I love House and Fry narrates the Brit version of the Harry Potter series. I think both gentlemen did very nicely for themselves.

Then in the late afternoon the rains began again and I looked up to see Rum Kitty, proudly marching across the hardwood floor with a HUMONGOUS rat hanging from his jaws. Rum is a dedicated & eager ratter but this was by far the largest rat I have ever known him to tackle - the rat was even larger than the squirrel he caught for me several years ago.

Rum's rat was so fresh a kill there was a trail of blood drops across the wood flooring. Ewww. Rum put the rat down and gave me the 'You know I take better care of you than you take care of me' look of reproach.

I told Rum what a brilliant kitty he was, a credit to his race and scourge of all the rats in Fair Oaks. He seemed pleased that I could appreciate his cleverness.

Then I noticed this rat was was not the same old, same old! Normally Rum catches Black/Roof Rats - which can be easily ID'd by their tails which are longer than the body length. Roof rats are the Rattus rattus - traditional carriers of Bubonic Plague.

No, Rum's catch was a Norway Rat - the baudy rat of my childhood in New York City. No - I did not live with rats but they were always there and though I never saw one I often heard stories that the Bronx rats were 'larger than cats'. I believe it then, but now take that as urban legend.


Norway Rat: Rattus effinghuge

I examined the drippy rat as I carried it to the trash bin in the garage - the beast's tail was thick and well less than half the length of the rat's body - yes, Rattus norvegicus. I usually photograph Rum's prey, but could not, my camera being one of the stolen items.

I had no idea there were Norway Rats in my neighborhood! By comparison, Roof Rats are rats of gentility, rats of distinction, rats that keep aloft, nesting in trees & in roofs - penthouse rats.

Black or Roof Rat (Rattus abouttownus)

By contrast Norway/Brown Rats are homie rats - rats from the hood - a different species entirely.

Somehow it seems to all make sense now - ought to have realized there were rats in the area when I got robbed a week ago. The raccooons have probably moved on now too - marked for ultimate replacement by jackles.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Good Laugh

I watched the Forty-Year-Old Virgin last night and had the best laughs I've had in ages. That is one funny movie, even though it is uber politcally incorrect in its use of foul language and gay bashing. Still, the movie was so sweet and I was totally rooting for the hero - AND relating to his cleaving to childhood as a means of self-succor through toys & juvenile pursuits - thus becoming his own child/family. I can relate... about the toys thing I mean, not the virgin thing. *whew!*

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

THE ROBBERY!

Last Thursday after work I came home & opened door that takes me from the garage into my dining room. Immediately something was different... my desk chair was in middle of living room, papers and random stuff from computer armoire were scattered on the floor. What was my first thought? GAWDDAMN CATS! Then I thought, no… it was that raccoon! Then my still-clinging-to-an-innocent-answer brain realized that the raccoon would not have visited in broad daylight and even if it did it would have gone for something tasty in the kitchen, not a pile of papers.

Then reluctantly, my brain accepted the astoundingly and ghastly truth – my house had been burglarized! I took a look and sure enough, my computer and monitor were gone. I checked the remainder of the house – the rooms were all ransacked & the window in the front door was broken, the latch opened, glass scattered about everywhere.

I got on my cell and phoned the police. Within a half hour an amiable sheriff appeared who took a report and sent for the fingerprint person. The fingerprint lady came and dusted things the thief may have touched with black powder.

I called Barbara – who had been burglarized some twelve years ago. I’m glad I did because she directed me to call my insurance company & to be sure to request an emergency services company to come out and board up my door – which they did.

*sigh*

In the end I rather got off easy. Someone I knew at work had had a relative burglarized by vindictive arseholes who not only robbed, but destroyed everything they could get their hands on – ripping holes in a water bed & tearing up books and the like – so you can understand why I say that I got off easy.

What was taken was my beloved, never crashes Dell Computer, my fancy new Canon camera, its lens, its flash cards, my junk old camcorder & my birding spotting scope. Also among the missing is my ceramic jar in which I collect change ($30-50), a set of 50 State’s quarters as well as the pillowcase off my bed!

Inexplicably NOT taken were my new HP printer, piles of quarters and loads of lose change lying about on my computer armoire, my shiny new camcorder, my diamond ring & string of pearls, the big-screen television, two VHS players, one DVD player, all the kitchen appliances.

I am certain I was hit by an opportunistic thief who was connected with the fall of the Heritage Oak Tree last week. There were dozens of men tramping on & off my property, repairing electrical & cable lines, cutting up and hauling away the old oak, etc.

I remembered how I took my Canon over to the neighbor’s house to photograph the tree being cut up - perhaps one of the workman knew a good camera when he saw one. Or maybe the electrician's creepy assistant that worked in my garage came back or even accidentally mentioned something to some creepy other somebody.

I feel far more robbed because my sense of security is now gone forever. The sheriff recommended a home security system. Barbara told me hers costs $30 per month – yet another $%#@&ing monthly bill. Every time I turn around there is some new cost to pay for just remaining at status quo. As I was whining to Barb, the security companies do NOTHING 99% of the time and yet charge $360 a year - a legal rip-off.

On the bright side, all my written works ride on a string around my neck, always safe on my San Disk pen drive.

As luck has it, only a few weeks ago I noticed a 2 Gig pen San Disk pen drive on sale – cheaper than the 256 San Disk pen drive I bought 2 or 3 years earlier. The new drive has the larger capacity but the same physical size – it is smaller than a Bic cigarette lighter.

I had downloaded loads of stuff onto the new 2 Gig – but sadly – I neglected to download any of my recent photos so I lost all my most recent pictures, save for a few that are posted on this blog or my birding web site.

I had been invited - please, no derisive laugher out there – to photograph some LEGO scenes for a web site that reviews toys – no pay, just for a lark. I set up and photgraphed 8 or so sets – which I happily & carefully constructed and photographed. It was fun work which required me to use my tripod and to learn to shoot pictures with broad depth of field. I was very happy with and proud of those LEGO photos and they are, every last one of them, gone - Boogers.

Setting the pictures up again won’t be too difficult now I’ve done them already, but still – it is aggravating. The pictures aren’t needed for at least a couple of months so I have plenty of time to reshoot when I get a new camera – my insurance allows me to replace all stolen objects.

The thing is, because my just ripped off Dell Computer never ever crashed meant I was lax about backing up. To the contrary - my previous Gateway used to crash & lose all of my work every 3 – 4 months like clockwork, which forced me to be quite careful about backing up all my work. In future I will treat my lovely Dell computer like a crappy Gateway computer – just in case.

As for the thief, just for St Patrick’s Day which is this Friday, I invoke a famous Irish curse – ‘May the thief have only one tooth in his head, and it aching!’

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I am becoming rather zen, learning not to worry about stuff before it happens. This week my supervisor, who has been acting as supervisor was pronounced the real thing. Hurrah! I had maintained a 'whatever' attitude, refusing to worry about supervisor's replacement with the Muggle version of an office Voldemort 'He Who Must Not Be Crossed'. One less reason for my intestines to become resemble a sheepshank knot.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hurrah!

Presentation to Board Committee is over. Went great. Due to slight mix up, I hardly had to speak at all, although when I did speak I studdered a bit. But no bother, our resolution item passed. All over but the shouting.

*dances off to shout a bit*

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Last night I lay in bed, waking periodically from unpleasant dream after unpleasant dream in which my hair kept falling out. I had like a half dozen strands on my head and looked like a Chinese Crested dog with dandriff. Prior to going to bed, had throughly shocking and unpleasant intestinal... problem.

All of above occured because tomorrow is my bigarse presentation to highfalutin' muckity mucks at work. Cannot wait until presentation is all over.

I mean, it isn't as though presentation will be difficult. I will sit at a desk and read from paper in front of my nose, while audience and head big cheeses look at screens around the room (ok, what they normally do is chat with each and work out cross word puzzles as though they are taking notes and believe me - I don't blame them one bit). *sigh* I tell myself this is small potatoes, but my intestinal tract seems to think otherwise as it ties itself into adorable balloon animals, the gnu being my favourite.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Vultures and Jackles Close In...

Started the day with my typical weekend breakfast - eggs, English muffin & coffee - and a call from my neighbor-across-the-fence, Joyce. She was the one in whose yard Grandmother Oak decided to drop in on, literally.

I scampered right on over with my camera in hand to take a zillion photos. Here is the oak, from Joyce's yard, peeking through to the former home of the yappy dog neighbors who will forever be known to me as the louts who cut down the orange tree (let it go Claire, just let it go).

I had a good look at the Oak's base which was riddle with slime mold. Between that and the shallow root base I suppose she had to lie down sooner or later.


I got the grand tour of Joyce's home & grounds. Didn't know my immediate neighborhood could be so classy! Lovely home, lovely lady. One look at her pool made me realize I have got to fire my pool guy. He hasn't stopped sending bills but I'm about 98% sure he has stopped paying weekly visits, but that is another story.

Joyce said the oak is to yield maybe 5 cords of wood. Of course I ache to get my greedy hands on some of it just to find out what it is like to burn a hard wood. The wood I'm currently burning is soft, so it yields high heat for a brief spurt, then turns to ashes. To keep the fire going I have to nurse it along with offerings of more and more wood - which thank heavens, I still have some. But from what I understand, hard woods burn hot and continue burning for a longer time.

Oh well! Not like it would be ready to burn before next year anyway. Poor Grandmother Oak; former home of possums, screech owls and woodpeckers, perch to flickers, titmouses, magpies, crows, sharp-shinned hawk and screech owls. Now she is just so much firewood to be divied out. Useful right to the end.

Friday, March 03, 2006

New Orleans Lite - or if FEMA Was on the Ball

As my Mom used to say, 'it's all over but the shouting'.

Tuesday I stayed home from work - a brilliant move if I say so myself. Early in the morning the SMUD trucks lined the street in front of my house.



A friendly guy from SMUD told me my electrical lines were pulled righout out of the roof and - no suprises here - SMUD could only work the power lines and couldn't touch my house. So, I would have to call an electrician.

I had a friend from work call around for an electrician for me because my cell phone was due for a charge and I had no way to charge it unless I either charged it while driving my car, or GASP asked a neighbor to let me charge it on their line - like thats ever going to happen. Chris called three electricians, all three promised to call me and only one did. He and an assistant made it over to my place around three.

I was stunned how much money I had to shell out, which included having county guy come out to ok the electrician's work before SMUD was allowed to reconnect my house. The SMUD crews worked all day long and a little after 5 o'clock I was back on the meter good to go - except - the Internet was down. WAH! I was off line from Monday night until this afternoon.

The SMUD guys were a hard working and cheery lot. They worked in teams up andd own the block, replacing downed poles and climbing up to work on &/or replace the transformers. Although the sun was shining like a sonofagun there were impressive claps of thunder but it wasn't even raining! Really bizarre weather. With each blast of thunder the SMUD guys up and down the block cheered their approval of Mum Nature's might. Cool.


Getting the Internet back up took most the day because those lines were also torn from my house. When the pole lines were back up another cable guy came to hook me up in the house. He told me my Internet lines were all squirrel chewed & he replaced all the lines, right up to my house.

So although the loss of the Old oak tree is still a bit traumatic for me, it did bring about some good. I got all new, and likely more dependable Internet lines, and while I had the electricians out I had them do a fair bit of work in the garage, including putting up new dusk to dawn lights on the garage for safety. So another old saying comes to mind - no great harm without some small good.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Grandmother Oak

Another view of the Oak taken Monday afternoon before the tree went down. There is a Magpie sitting on the fence.

In my last post I was estatic at the return of the Yellow-billed Magpies. I took that picture early Monday afternoon and little did I know that was the start of a a fair bit of hoopla.

The weather was pouring rain on and off on Monday. Around 8PM and I heard something weird - the windows rattling and the wind blowing. The house lights and my computer started flickering and then died; I leapt up and charged for the big picture window just in time to see a bolt of what I thought was lightning, completely visable through the closed blinds - the jagged lightning was that bright! What I saw was not lightning; it was the power transformer exploding all over my backyard.

I totally freaked. Ran to the back of the house for a look see though a window. I could see the power line (visable in Monday's post with the Magpie on it) was hanging several feet lower. Nor in my shock did I then notice the brunt of what had happened.

As I stared excitedly out the back window, neigbbors, came out, their high beams shining on the powerline. That gave me the willies - obviously have seen too many alien movies like The Signs and War of the Worlds - yes, I know I'm pathetic.

I heard a raps at the front door & fumbled my way to the front of the house. It was one of my neighbors whose home is across the street; he still had power. He dropped by to warn me not to go in my back yard because there were power lines down - no kidding?

I think my neighbor's name is Bob and he is very nice - has Plain Titmouses nesting in his back yard most years - a fellow nature lover. Anyway, I probably only talk to him once every 2 or 3 years. I am like a vampire for all my neighbors see of me; sneaking in and out of my garage under cover of darkness. Anyway, it was pointed out to me that the old oak was down; I had been so excited I hadn't even noticed! When I went to look out my back windows again I realized the fence line seemed so naked. How could I have not noticed that beautiful and humongous tree was gone?

Bottom line: the power was out on every home on my block - maybe some dozen residences. When the old oak fell onto the fence line she wasn't going alone - there was a domino effect - as the oak tumbled over it ripped power and phone lines from homes and pulled over several poles and trees. Oddly enough the tree did not take the powerline pole by my yard; the one the oak stood next to for so many years. The tree tumbled down onto the fence line to the north - right down the middle between neighbor's homes, completely avoiding damage to any houses. For my part, my fences were left untouched, but my electrical lines were ripped right out of my roof, and they lay strewn around my back yard. The Telephone line was still connected but it hung several feet lower than normal. Eeek.

An hour later I was stretched out on my bed reading by candlelight. At 1 o'clock AM chain saws growled away at the fallen oak like a pack of wolves. The chain saws were still going at 3 AM.