Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Wait Until I Tell You About My Day - It Was a Hoot

Yesterday the baby wrens in the nest in our night-blooming cereus fledged. There may be another baby still nearby because one of the adults was standing guard in the front yard, chirping encouragement. The feather coloring on the fledglings was so vibrant. We had two families of birds in the front yard this summer; the other nest was built and tended by blue jays. While those babies were fledging, the adults pecked Jim on the head whenever he came out or in by way of the front door. And I think there was a screech owl in the backyard before daybreak yesterday.  I find that unsettling.

Truly, I am not a superstitious person, but we have screech owl history at this house; in the southern US, there is a superstition that the call of a screech owl foretells a coming death. Late in the summer of 2003, we began hearing the call of an eastern screech owl (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6N4C4U70Ajc) in the pre-dawn hours. I was up and about early Saturday morning of that Labor Day weekend when one of my son’s cats, Marley, began yowling loudly and fell over. I awakened my husband and we rushed him to the emergency veterinary hospital where we were advised that he had had a heart attack and had no chance of recovery. We had adopted him, as a kitten, from the Houston SPCA exactly three years before, so he was still a young cat; but, apparently, it is a common occurrence for American short hair male cats to have heart attacks around three years of age. We had him euthanized and went home to grieve.

 The next morning, I again was awake in the predawn hours when I heard a loud screeching begin at the far end of our street, traveling down the length of the street, and stopping in my front yard.  That evening as dusk fell, my husband went out into the front yard. He heard a quiet hooting trill; looking up into the large ash tree to the right of our front door, he saw a small screech owl which bobbed its head at him, swooped over to the tree on the other side of the walkway and then flew away. 

We didn’t hear or see a screech owl again until November 20th, Thanksgiving Day. A group of family and friends were sitting on the patio drinking beer and wine, thankful for time spent with each other, when someone happened to notice a small screech owl sitting in hole in the siding of my garage. My son, who had been away at college in Ohio when Marley died and his father had had his moment with the owl, bobbed his head at that owl who bobbed his head back and gently hooted then flew away. My son came home the following spring, spent the summer digitizing well logs for  his dad, and on the day he left to return to Wittenberg for his senior year of college, four screech owls were gathered in the trees outside our front door. 

I am thinking that a screech owl just might be my patronus.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Introducing a New Blogger

Today I helped my 25-year-old granddaughter who has autism set up a blog about her experiences in the kitchen,  a Mouse in the Kitchen. She plans to share her experiences cooking foods from her favorite cookbook, The Ultimate Harry Potter Cookbook, and write reviews about local restaurants we visit.

We hope you will visit her blog site  and leave encouraging comments.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Waterbed

So, while exploring further in the "warehouse" that is our newly acquired property, we discovered a waterbed in one of the upstairs bedrooms. There has already been a ceiling collapse from a bathroom leak and we certainly didn't want another, so we decided to drain the mattress. Establishing a siphon turned out to be a bit harder than we expected because there was no running water in the house. Finally we ran a garden  hose from a faucet on the side of our house, over the fence and through the upstairs window and backfilled the mattress then disconnected the hose from the faucet. While the mattress drained we sorted through the pile of clothes on the bedroom floor, throwing away socks, underwear and butt-torn jeans; there were 4 pairs of like-new khaki Dockers in my husband's size. Alas they are pleated and cuffed; don't even ask.

A neighbor who has done restoration work came by to see if we might like some help. After a thorough walk-through, he confirmed our thoughts that our BIGGEST job will be cleaning the house; structurally it is pretty sound. No problem -- after all, there are cartons of cleaning supplies scattered throughout the house.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Risky Business

Earlier this week, while talking with friends, someone mentioned a piece of advice they had heard about living life mindfully – do something that frightens you every day, not frightening like spooky frightening or getting mugged frightening but instead something that requires you to make a scary leap of faith or a commitment to a project, or a change in your investments direction. A better way to say it might be make yourself open to taking a risk.

The absentee owner of the house next door decided it was time to divest himself of the property that he has been using as a storage facility for the last 5+ years. Utility services, sans water, have been maintained as has the minimal landscaping, but the inside of the house has not been cleaned in YEARS. The garage is full of tools and boxes, possibly raccoons, and fleas; while scouting through the piles of boxes and power tools, we discovered the mummified body of a yellow-striped cat. The ceiling in the dining room is water-stained and has a massive hole as a result of a leak in an upstairs bathroom hidden  in which is a Rice Krispies box filled with  Penthouse magazines. Bureau drawers in bedrooms are stuffed with white tube socks and underwear. Suits, sports coats, and dress shirts hang in closets. Eyeglasses are scattered all around. Cabinets in the laundry room, kitchen and bathrooms are filled with cleaning supplies which is quite ironic given the degree of dirtiness in this house. Considering this state of disarray, a portion of which the owner intended to allay by hiring a company to come in and dispose of furnishings and junk, our neighbor decided he would sell the house for a price less than half of its current taxable value and perhaps a third of the value of my house, right next door.

Yesterday that house, and all its contents,  became ours.  My stomach is still in knots.

Monday, January 2, 2017

3-D or Bust, A Day of Grace

Jim and I decided that we would gift each other with a 3-D printer for Christmas. The large box lay hidden on the coffee table under several draped towels until Christmas afternoon when we decided it was time to open the carton and begin playing. After lugging the large box upstairs to the office and distributing the packing material to the "granddots" for imaginative play (they created a tv upon which they broadcast Pokemon descriptions), we discovered several lose pieces and a platform which would not level. After attempting to reach a nonexistent help desk in China, Jim contacted Amazon who advised that a new printer would be arriving on January 2 along with a return shipment voucher for the non-working device.

The new printer arrived today, delivered with crumpled corners and set in a puddle of rainwater by a dedicated employee of the US Postal Service. We lugged this box up the stairs, uncrated the new printer, used the packing material to rebox the old printer, lugged that box back downstairs, out to the truck, and drove it to the nearest UPS Store and shipped it back to Amazon.

Our first print job just finished - a minature Tyrannosaurus Rex lower jaw.  It is so cool! The upper jaw will be completed tomorrow and pictures will follow.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

January 1, 2017 - A Year of Anxieties and Hopefully Small Graces

The decorations have been taken off the tree and packed away in tissue-lined boxes. The 9-feet-tall artificial tree has been dragged to the curb, with a sign reading freebie, gently used. We have decided that we are getting too old to wrestle with assembling all the pieces, fluffing out all the branches, and stringing all the lights; our next tree will be smaller and pre-lit.

Sitting in my office as I noodle around on my computer, I am  listening to the sound of fire works being launched by the people who live across the street from us. Last night the street was lined with bottle rockets and the windows rattled as gunpowder-filled canisters exploded in the dark midnight sky,  but tonight it sounds like they are shooting off zippers that end their flights with little pops. We used to shoot off fireworks with our children when they were young, and then with Teaghan (Marijke has never liked firework holidays) until she grew up and went off to college. The other "granddots" live in far away states and while they were here for Christmas, they spent New Year's Eve at their own homes while we had dinner with our best friends and spent the evening lamenting the soon to be inaugurated 45th president, Donald J. Trump.

2017 promises to be an anxious year. When the President-elect takes to Twitter to wish his friends and enemies a Happy New Year, one has to take a moment to lift a small pleading for peace and protection.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Social Challenge

Terrorists and tyrants,
Using tactics of fear,
Vying for power
Worldwide and near.

Xenophobes, xanthocroids
Yammering hate.
Zealots defending their ziggurats of faith.

Abandoned, abolished, aborted, abhored.
Bearbaited victims and ballyhoo men
Cautious and callous
Defeated and damned.

Everyman matters?
Foreigners don't.
Gangrenous gatecrashers, gangsters, goats
Harboring hatred, wearing hajibs.

Imperiled? Inappetance!
Jingoism prevails.
Kaleidoscopic perils threaten our land.
Live in your death camps; labor in vain.

Magnanimous Americans no longer prevail -
Naive namby-pambys have no place in our land.
Obdurate obedience obscures common sense.

Palpitant vitriol, parochial paroxysm
Quashes hope, quintuples fear.
Rabelaisian rabble-rousers raging; refugees reviled.
Saints or sinners? Safety or sacrifice?