Tuesday, March 30, 2010

All (Sore) Thumbs

Saturday was a beautiful (but chilly) day here so I thought I would do some yard work. It is kind of hard to explain but at the bottom of the fence around the pool we have that black edging stuff holding back the rocks. The edging had bowed and bent and rocks were spilling out and it looked terrible. Very wavy and uneven. So I decided to get some pressure treated wood and line the bottom of the fence. If you know me, you know I am now asking for trouble. My older and younger brothers got the mechanical skills. So I went to Home Depot and got my lumber and some rebar and went to work. First I had to pull the rock back away from the fence and level out the bottom for the wood. Mocha decided she wanted to get involved with that so she piled in, on, under and over and "helped." She took my hat twice and both gloves once. And she got stuck once and I had to pull her out from under the bottom rail of the fence where she had dug herself into a trench. Anyway, I measured my wood and cut it and went to put it in place and of course it was too long so I had to cut it again. Did that, got it in place and screwed in between two of the fence posts. Nice. Then I decided I liked the look of the black edging so I thought I would tack that on the outside of the wood I had just placed. Problem was, there was green wire fencing in the way. Every time I tried to hold the nail in place between the green fence grid, I would pound my finger or the fence or the wood or, on occasion, the actual nail itself. Finally, I got it on. Having learned my lesson, I put the black edging piece on BEFORE I put the plank in place the next time. That one I also cut too long and had to cut it again. Repeat those steps for two more sections and that is my story... But when it was done, I had a nice, straight edge at the bottom of the fence and the rocks are being held in place. I also pounded some rebar in on the outside of the planks to hold them from sliding out. That went OK but I probably maintained the same swing to strike ratio - about 4 swings to an actual hit.

After that I sharpened the mower blade, recharged the battery, changed the oil and air filter, and then edged and mowed. Spread the first Scotts treatment too. It has been rainy for a good day now so that should help distribute the Scotts and launch me into another season of the greenest lawn in the 'hood.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Home Away From Home

Last night my mom called with the news that I guess I had been expecting to hear some day but still wasn't prepared for - our "home away from home" was being sold. Those of you who know us know about the Cafe - the house built on pilings on the Piscataqua River between Maine and New Hampshire. It was built by my great, great grandfather and kept in the family for many years. It was an actual Cafe at one point but was used as a vacation home by friends and family for the last several years. My uncle invested sacrificially into its upkeep and each year my aunt would call asking us which week we wanted to book for our summer vacation. As you can imagine, a wooden structure built above the salt water requires constant attention and maintenance. My aunt and uncle have reached a point where they are ready to enjoy a well earned retirement and it just isn't possible for them, or any of us, to continue its upkeep. There is property on land to the left of the picture above that will be sold too. I remember mowing that grass for my old great Uncle Ray on that side and storing the mower on the hardwood floor in the Cafe. Lucie and I had our wedding reception there and lived on the shore side for a while when we were first married. The view is spectacular and that Cafe represents the best memories for us. Ashleigh and Elliott caught their first fish off the point there and spent hours and hours flipping over rocks with their cousins catching crabs (and sometimes the crabs catching them!). Countless times the call, "Meet you at the Cafe" meant food and fun was waiting to be had. After a long drive north, the sight of the Cafe meant we were home. And when the time came too quickly to leave, seeing the Cafe in the rear view mirror meant a return to reality and thoughts of when we could come back home again. I am so grateful for the times we got to spend there and for my family - past generations and present. The Cafe represents the very best definition of family, generosity, laughter, sharing, compassion, hard work, and rest. Ultimately of course home is where the heart is but a part of my heart will always be there.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Making Money By Spending Money

About two weeks ago I bought a Blu Ray player (Lucie leaving town the day we got our tax return was NOT a good idea!). Come to find out, some BR movies are recorded in Tru HD sound - a new sound format my stereo receiver couldn't handle (I thought). One night we sat down to watch a movie only to find the receiver couldn't process the sound so we had a great experience visually, but the sound was terrible. That HAD to be corrected so I bought (on wicked sale online) a new receiver. While waiting for it to arrive, I was reading the owner's manual online and found that there was a setting on the BR player to compensate for that sound issue. I went home, set it, and the old receiver was pumping out the sound! The receiver was delivered Thursday but with no justification for it, I did the unthinkable and decided to return it. Before we left to go do that, we got a flier in the mail for an electronics place that had my BR player on sale for $25 less than I bought mine for. Best Buy has a price matching guarantee so we headed out to return the receiver (to a store unnamed to protect the innocent) and to go to Best Buy (where I bought the BR player). After waiting forever to return the receiver, the returns person counted out the money due back to me... ERASE. I had an interesting story as to what happened here but Lucie made me delete it. Suffice it to say I made money on the return due to their online return policy even though I pointed out that they were giving me back more than I paid. Then off we went to Best Buy. No lines, no hassle, and the girl handed over the $25 difference. So it seems to make money, you have to spend it. Maybe the government is on to something!

Looks like another beautiful day today. 46ยบ in the pool and climbing. I have my list of stuff to do - vacuum up the leftover leaves, put out the hoses, saw off the stumps from the trees that went down over the winter and just generally clean up some stuff outside. Mocha has been digging some holes to China so I will fill them in too. Speaking of Mocha, I have the Tivo set to record anything with "Newfoundland" in the show title or description. We saw a great program last night on a 200 pound Newfie on duty in England as a lifeguard. That dog was amazing. It would swim out with a float and tow people back to shore. Mocha is sleeping in a BIGGER crate (for those who were concerned) overnight in the kitchen so we are all sleeping better.

The kids are at lacross practice this morning. Lucie and I are going to a birthday party tonight and taking it easy on Sunday.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's 3 AM, Do You Know Where Your Dog Is?

I do. She is rumbling around in her crate wanting to go outside. And again at 3:30. And maybe once more around 4... For a little while, Mocha has been itchy so I would give her a fish oil supplement every morning with her breakfast. That helped the itching but gave her an upset stomach. And for some reason, it only seemed to hit her around 3 AM. And it hit fast. She would bark and we would stumble down the stairs to the backyard where she would go, and then go back to bed. Only to have to go again a little while later. Ugh. I was like a zombie. We actually didn't think it was the fish oil at first but we have since stopped it and she is doing much better. Itchy again, but her stomach has settled down. We will find another treatment for the itchies. (The vet said she is fine - normal for growing puppies and the dry winter in-house heat).

Getting a lot of rain today so she is going to be wild. Way too windy and rainy to walk her so I hope she and Britni wrestle all day. I intend to nap and watch TV and just hunker down. Everyone around me seems to be sick and I am feeling run down so I am taking it easy. I wanted to chainsaw off the stumps of the trees that came down over the winter and shore up the AC unit but it can wait.

I am picking up our guest missionary speaker for church tomorrow at the Amtrak station right next to where I work. I may make a surprise visit to the Officers on duty and see what is up. Work is still going really well.

Elliott had practice in the monsoon this morning. I brought some towels to protect my car seats and bags for him to put his muddy cleats in when we picked him up. Not too cold out - nothing a Dunkin Donuts coffee and sprinkled donut didn't cure. On the way home, we stopped at Lowe's and got a buy one get one free bag of bird food. The new feeder really seems to be working - we remain squirrel-less.

Oh, this is the new front license plate I put on the other day:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Opossum (and other animal) Crossing

Spring must be coming because the animals in the woods are starting to show. Last night Mocha and I were out in the backyard and I heard some rustling in the woods. And it went on and on. So I grabbed my giant flood/flashlight and there was an opossum ambling along out in the woods. Apparently they don't hibernate but I am claiming this sighting as a good sign. Forget that goofy groundhog. But speaking of groundhogs, I saw one of them scampering around out in the woods this morning. They DO hibernate so I am encouraged. To further usher in spring, I grilled ribs outside last night.

I bought myself another squirrel proof bird feeder with our tax return and it actually works. I have yet to see a squirrel on it (though they do hang around under it).

Looks like a nice day and week ahead. We still have some snow piles here and there. I had to drain off a lot of pool water from the melting snow.

Mocha is growing by the hour. A friend of mine let me borrow another crate so now we have one upstairs in the bedroom for her to sleep in at night, and one downstairs for the day. If she wasn't teething, we would just let her roam the kitchen during the day (we have it gated off). But I am afraid she will chew up curtains, chairs or whatever.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Get Your Act Together Boy

And here we have a depiction of Elliott recently... Monday was his first day of lacrosse practice and he announced THAT DAY he needed a mouth guard and cleats. So at 7 o'clock at night, we are off to Dick's. On Tuesday morning, he took the wrong set of books to class so I had to detour my way to the high school to bring them to him. Then around 8:30 last night, he realizes that he must have left his bag of books at the lacrosse practice field! Fortunately, his coach had found it and he will retrieve it today.

He is really liking lacrosse so far and seems to have a "handle" on ball and stick control.

Meanwhile, Lucie's car was making a terrible racket under the hood. I correctly diagnosed it as a bad water pump so we got that fixed yesterday - and did a bunch of other tune up stuff on it. It is a 2001 Rav 4 with 90,000 miles so it should have plenty of life in it. It sounded and felt like a new car last night when we got it back. I am telling people that we bought Lucie's car again with our tax money.

The glaciers around the yard are finally melting away. Patches of grass are poking through and the roads in the development are rut free. One good thing about a snow covered yard - you can find the dog poop a lot easier...

Speaking of, Mocha turned 4 months old on the first. She continues to grow by the hour. Still kind of bitey now but very smart and learns quickly. I can walk her and Britni on the same Y-split lead now. I let her sleep outside her crate in our bedroom while Lucie was away this weekend and she did really good. I have a Mocha Cam aimed at her during the day so Lucie can check on her over the internet.

Ashleigh had her first interview for a summer job at a doctor's office. She had to make a resume and meet with a couple of people. That seemed to go well. She won the first game of indoor lacrosse playoffs but then they lost in the semi-finals. Now she starts high school lacrosse.

Lucie had a good time at winter camp with some church kids. She didn't come back wiped out like in the past.

All else is good with me at work. I caught a knee to my thigh/knee area at basketball last week which knocked me out of playing for the night. It is still sore to the touch but I will be back this week. At least I will have an excuse for my lack of mobility...