Making Good Neighbors

There are some folks putting up a fence in our backyard this week. It’s not a fence vigilante group or anything… we had to pay them to do it. Jes’ doing our part to help the struggling economy.

I’m looking forward to being able to let the Dog burn off energy without driving him to a dog park, paying $25 to send him to doggy daycare or being attached to him by a line while he’s doing it.

I had thought Scout was on a Very Busy Spider kick, but I see now that it’s a reading kick in general. There are books scattered throughout the house as she continues to bring them from her or RocketBoy’s room to wherever a potential reader is.

She is not amused by our blatant refusal to read her a book while we are otherwise occupied, e.g. taking a shower. Usually we can distract her by suggesting she brush her teeth, which she does 10-12 times a day.

This bodes well. Both for literacy and dental hygiene.

The Week Alone

Last week I set a number of tasks for myself whilst the family was vacationing in New Jersey. Now comes the time to check my work:

1. Regrout and seal the kitchen tile.

Done. Done and done. Yup. All done. May I never feel the need to tile anything ever again.

2. Fix the hall toilet.

Found the part I needed, didn’t need to replace the whole thing. Yet.

3. Buy a bow and arrow, finish creating the rope swing.

Did you know that the Sports Authority here in NorthEast Atlanta doesn’t carry bows and arrows? True story. I ordered a set online, but it hasn’t arrived just yet.

But I did buy a heavy bolt at Lowe’s, and who’d a thunk but it turns out I can throw a heavy bolt up 40 feet and hit a two fit diameter target area. It only took me two hours. I actually did it twice, but the first time the string I was using broke when hauling up the actual rope swing rope. The second time I just left the string there until I could get some medium-weight cord to haul up as an intermediate stage to the actual rope. And then I need to do it all again on a second tree. The end result is that rope will hang out at a 45 degree angle from each tree and meet in the center, and then hang straight down from there, forming a “Y”. A “Y” using about 80 feet of 1″ manila rope.

An observation on how the mind works: I spent the first hour wildly missing the target area until I took a second to visualize the bolt going over the branch the right way. The next two throws were very accurate, the second one hitting the mark. I felt like Lightning McQueen, chanting I Am Speed to himself.

4. Finish chainsawing up the fallen tree, and haul away.

Done. I estimate this tree was about 50 feet, comparing it to my measurements of the rope swing tree1. It took about 3 hours to finish sawing it into manageable size logs and branches and moving the pieces into the woods or the firewood pile. I declare I have never sweat so much, ever, except when I worked in the insulation warehouse that one summer. The insulation warehouse was itchier work, but I didn’t have to pull a tick off my leg at the end of the day, so… pros and cons.

So, 3.25 out of 4 not bad.

I also did a deep cleaning of the refrigerator, pulling out all the shelves for scrubbing and discarding anything that wasn’t recognizable or appetizing. Anyone have a guess as to how many bottles of mostly-full salad dressing we have in there?2

Every scrap of dirty clothes were cleaned and put away, and Scout’s dressers purged of too-small or out-of-season clothes.

I watched the first few episodes of Weeds, Season 1 via Netflix Instant Viewing. Funny.

A good week, but I have to admit I did not find as much joy in being on my own as I expected. I was awfully glad to see the gang when they got back.

Also, through no act of negligence on my part, one of the goldfish died. I replaced it with a identical fish. RocketBoy, if you’re reading this some years in the future, I apologize for deceiving you, but really, you’ve already spent more time contemplating mortality at age 5 than I would prefer you to.

Also, I didn’t want the nickname fishkiller.

1 When planning the rope swing, I used some sticks, paper and trigonometry to estimate the height of the target branch of each tree at about 42 feet. Using markings on the string I threw over, it showed almost exactly 40 feet. Let’s hear it for MATH. Who says you don’t use that stuff in real life?
2 Nine. 3 Italian, 2 balsamic vinegar. Three additional bottles mostly empty.

Grout & Peanut Butter

I am alone in the house this week. Which hasn’t happened… well, maybe ever in this house.

Friday night, RocketBoy had his friend J_ over while J_’s parents, steakums, my MIL and niece all went to see the opening at Georgia Shakespeare. So, I managed two 5 year olds, a 2 year old and a very excited dog for the evening. Everyone survived.


Cast Away

RocketBoy got his cast off. I haven’t seen him yet, but I’m told the process is approximately as traumatic as getting one on in the first place. It may be two or three days before he straightens his arm. Not because he can’t, but because he won’t.

I’ve been hot and heavy into an interesting project at work, so I’ve neglected my life-record-keeping. In the past week or so, we’ve converted our front room to a Guacamole-and-Tan colored space with a “grown-up” couch and chair (thanks, IKEA!), instead of my college futon.

We’ve also had two trees removed, with one more going down tomorrow. The builders who have created a big dirt hole where the house next door used to be offered to remove a couple trees for us because they were leaning precariously towards the place where the new house will sit, and we asked the tree guy to remove one that’d been bothering me while he was at it. I managed to knock $400 off the cost by requesting they leave the remains of the tree in 5-6′ lengths to border in a play-space we’re working towards in the backyard.

In other renovation news, I’m considering replacing all our terrible, horrible, no-good metal tri-fold closet doors with regular swing-open wood frames covered in stretched fabric. Stay tuned for those exciting exploits.

Also, someday… a rope swing. I think I’ve figured out how to do logistically using two trees. When I was young, we had the most enviable rope swing in the neighborhood. It was 100 feet of rope on a huge tree that hung out over a creek with steep banks. With practice, you could swing out and jump off to land on the opposing side. “Practice” meaning “falling 5 or 6 feet into the creek a lot.” It was awesome.

Long live the rope swing.

steakums just called to tell me that our internet is not back at home, and COMCAST is saying that there seems to be a problem with our cablemodem as it is not responding to their hails. Service technician due out on Sunday. Good thing we’re headed to Kentucky for the holidays, where the internet still flows like water. And, in fact, water still flows like water.

Bobcat, part II

It turns out that for $250, someone will come and level a good portion of our backyard with a Bobcat1. This is a mere $100 more expensive than renting it myself and doing it.

So, considering that I will lose an eye and arm if I drive the Bobcat myself, thus compelling travellight to call me stumpy, we’re going to go with the fully armed scenario.

We could go the much-less-expensive route of hand-digging, but there simply aren’t enough hours in any day in the forseeable future to pull off such a stunt, even if we enlisted the aid of others in a “digging party”. Plus, there will still be many days worth of manual labor to be had laying in railroad ties, building a treehouse, battling poison ivy, pouring a concrete patio, etc. etc. etc.

Speaking of poison ivy, whatever happened to standard old easily-identifiable poison ivy of my youth in Ohio, home of benign nature? I believe that just about every plant in our yard has been identified as poison ivy at one time or another by someone, including a pine tree. If there were that much poison ivy around, I expect that terracinque would swoon and explode with hives upon setting foot on our driveway.

These are plants that I’ve walked through multiple times in sandals with no reaction. I got poison ivy once while playing on the front lawn, in the center of the lawn, where there was only grass and pine needles. Perhaps that pine tree IS poison ivy. Rocketboy was playing with me, touch the same stuff, and got nothing.

I dunno. Where’s Neville Longbottom when I need him?

1 The machinery, not the animal.

On drawing, taming Eden, trips, Driving, home

I read the Comics Curmudgeon every day, and there has been an advertisement on there for The Structure of Man set of DVDs for learning to do figure drawing from scratch (rather than from a model), essentially cartooning. I watched an excerpt during lunch today and thought it looked good.

Drawing is one of those hobbies that I’ve returned to on and off. I don’t have any innate talent at it, but I really enjoy the activity of pencil on paper, trying to capture something. So, through dogged persistence I’ve acquired a modicum of skill, but almost all of it is geared towards reproducing what I see in front of me, rather than creating illustrations from imagination. Of course, one helps with t’other to an extent.

I loved the drawing class I took in college, and the one I took here at the Woodruff Arts Center. They have these benches that you straddle, and mount a board with clips on to hold your paper. It’s an ideal position for drawing. If you draw with paper flat on a table and don’t lean over it far enough, drawings can come out elongated when you hold them up perpendicular to your line of eyesight. The bench and board put the drawing surface at just the right angle. Despite the fact that they look uncomfortable, I always had no problem with using them for the three hour classes.

If I have free time during our beach vacation this year, I’m going to focus on figure drawing from scratch. Unfortunately, it’s more like exercising than riding a bike… the skills deteriorate when neglected.

steakums had a visit with goudabonbon today and their fancy new backyard playset, and came back all fired up to do some damage to the savage wilderness behind our house. I see a lot of yardwork in my immediate future.

Not that I’m complaining. Whenever I grill on our back deck, I look down upon the monstrous foliage and think You will be mine, oh yes, you will be mine.

Where did I put my machete?

I go back to Juarez in a couple weeks. I suppose I’ve had enough of a reprieve that I shouldn’t complain.

I think I’m going to go see Drove at Dad’s Garage tomorrow night. Anyone stalking me… that’s where you’ll find me. Probably.

It is now time to go home.