Archive for the ‘Home and hearth’ Category

And now for something completely different

June 1, 2020

“If you want anything done in this yard you’ve got to meow
until you’re blue in the mouth,” says Miss Mia Sopaipilla.

We’ve been cocooning a bit, I suppose.

It’s not easy to watch America doggedly screwing its head even further up its own arse, especially while striving to make some novel observation about the practice. The bon mot proves elusive. So we’ve turned our gaze elsewhere.

The back yard has needed work for a while now, and it’s been getting some. Weeds pulled, vines excised, lilacs pruned, pond rock and red mulch laid down, balky gate repaired, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

In the process we discovered a few new aches and pains along with an old faucet and four sprinkler-system heads we didn’t know we had. They could be part of some prehistoric irrigation network; for sure there are a couple real anachronisms on the other side of the yard, metal jobbers buried in the pine duff like the plungers on land mines.

We’re not great with roses, but occasionally we get lucky.

The apple tree by the kitchen window has had the schnitz. All the neighbors say it’s never been worth a damn, and we’re starting to agree, though Spike the Terrorist Deer, that notorious outside agitator, seems fond of its bitter, undersized fruit.

So that will probably come down directly, along with a Siberian elm that is more than a match for my skills with a shovel and bad language. Probably have to take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

The neighbors with the little girls have partnered with another couple up the street to form a collective of sorts. Between them they have five munchkins to educate and entertain, and they share other interests as well, so it seems a great leap forward.

The gang performs a daily bicycle/scooter rodeo that relies heavily upon our steep driveway for a launching ramp, so we’re making our own small contribution. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

Elsewhere in the cul-de-sac, a four-legged neighbor went west. Daisy was a sweet old Lab who, with her cousin Gunner, served our little community as a combination of early warning system and welcome wagon.

Gunner is deaf, and a bit shy, but Daisy had been known to stride into homes like a Monty Python bobby, as if to enquire, “Wot’s all this then?” Their human has already arranged a new companion for Gunner, a black Lab pup tentatively named Henry.

Beyond our immediate ’hood, Herself the Elder’s assisted-living home has undergone a round of Bug® testing, and the all-clear has been sounded, though the lockdown remains in force.

Last Friday we delivered a load of Asian food for the joint. Pre-Bug®, Herself had been taking her mom out on Fridays for a bit of shrimp fried rice, and we decided to revive the practice as a take-out deal after Daisy and Gunnar’s person said he’d been doing something similar for his mom.

Then we thought, “Why not spread the wealth a bit?” From each according to his ability, etc. So everybody got some, including us, because I am a sucker for a six-pack of gyoza and pretty much anything else I don’t have to cook.

Speaking of wealth, when the light is right we can enjoy what the previous owner of El Rancho Pendejo called “the golden hour.” Once the day’s chores are finished we park ourselves on the back patio with frosty beverages in hand, admire our handiwork (such as it is), and hope to pan a little color from the dung as it all runs downhill.

The golden hour. “Well done, Yahweh,” as Doc Sarvis once said.

The rearrangement

May 3, 2020

Living Room v.2.0: The Lockdown Edition.

I think the ol’ lockdown managed to crawl up everyone’s keister pretty much all simultaneous-like yesterday.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla blew a hairball on the living-room carpet, which is white, because of course it is. So we started moving the furniture off it in preparation for a thorough wash and brush-up, then abruptly decided: To hell with this giant white barf magnet.

This 14-by-12-foot beast came with the house when we bought it, as did the large brown leather sofa and green leather easy chair with ottoman that sat on it. And boom, just like that, we were sick of the lot of ’em.

We don’t get a lot of hummingbirds at our lone feeder, but we have a few regulars.

“Right, off you go!” we said.

The carpet got a good vacuuming and a spot-cleaning and a listing on Facebook Marketplace. Free to good home, etc. In no time at all a young woman whose sister was moving into a new apartment rolled by to collect it.

The large leather items got shifted to a largely unused area, across from the cat tower, facing the picture window, between the living room proper and the dining room.

The furniture that had been in that space — an American-made sofa and rocker we bought from a local outfit in Bibleburg, Hearthstone, sadly no longer with us — got moved into the living room, atop a much smaller patterned area rug pirated from the dining room.

Of course, there was much vacuuming, cleaning, dusting, critiquing, adjusting, more critiquing, readjusting, and what have you. Also, some discussion about feeding the leather bits to the insatiable maw of Facebook Marketplace as well.

Finally, there were cold beverages on the back patio, for us and for the hummingbirds.

After dinner the neighbors to the west called an ice-cream social, outdoors, in the cul-de-sac, featuring homemade chocolatey goodness. Most of the ’hood turned out for a treat, some casual gossip, and the nightly 8 p.m. howl, all with proper plague management, of course (bring your own spoon and chairs).

The ice-cream maker was hoping his amateur-league baseball might resume soon. Another neighbor was thinking about her son, a freshly minted Marine awaiting deployment. The new parents on the corner couldn’t make it, because infants could give a rat’s ass about ice-cream socials in the cul-de-sac, even if they knew what rats’ asses, ice-cream socials, and cul-de-sacs were. And a more experienced dad was dozing with his youngest in front of “PBS Kids.”

We were just happy to be there, and rid of that damn’ carpet. It’s the little things.

What part of ‘meow’ don’t you understand?

March 24, 2020

Miss Mia Sopaipilla, The Last Cat Standing, briefs staff on the emergency measures she has ordered, which for some reason are heavy on
cat-food acquisition and litter-box maintenance.

It’s early days yet, of course, but so far our lives have not been radically altered by the governor’s stay-at-home edict.

Even before The Fourth Horseman rode his sneezy hayburner into town we were mostly homebodies. Herself got up at stupid-thirty four days a week to pull a 10-hour shift at the Death Star, and by the time she came home she was rarely in the mood to go out to do … well, pretty much anything.

So I would cook dinner, we would watch something on TV, and then it was early to bed because see “getting up at stupid-thirty,” etc.

After the guv gave us the word yesterday, I cooked dinner, we watched something on TV, and … well, you get the idea. One of us still gets up at stupid-thirty, too. Guess who.

We maintain our respective hobbies, of course. Herself eBays bits of this and that, for us and for friends. And as you see, I continue to operate my little one-ring nonprofit, the Cirque du Sowhat.

Meanwhile, Miss Mia Sopaipilla remains firmly atop the org chart. Somebody has to be in charge around here, and it’s never gonna be me.

The Omega Cat

March 21, 2020

Miss Mia Sopaipilla mans (cats?) the battlements.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla, The Last Cat Standing, checks the southeast perimeter for any sign of Spike the Terrorist Deer.

Things are greening up and budding out, and staff seems preoccupied with other matters, so Mia stands the watch.

In addition to the wine delivery we had a couple of packages to drop off at USPS, so I strapped a Wald basket on the rear rack of the Soma Double Cross.

One never knows. The sneaky sonofabitch might like cat food.

Meanwhile, staff kitted up for another wine run yesterday afternoon. We chatted briefly with Herself the Elder via phone, next to her closed bedroom window, and then scurried back to El Rancho Pendejo as a light sprinkle began.

We saw quite a few cyclists on the Tramway bike path, in some cases moms herding mobs of children.  I think of being on lockdown with a herd of bored and restless rug monkeys, and I wish I’d been kinder to me sainted ma, who was sentenced to life without parole as a housewife and mother.

Elsewhere, I see our “leaders” have been up to the usual, which is to say not much barring high crimes and misdemeanors.

It really is long past time for the press to quit covering what Chazbo Pierce calls “the daily briefings from the Coronavirus Superfriends,” which have devolved into miniature campaign rallies for Il Douche, free telemarketing for his only product, bullshit.

There is no breaking news to be had at this surgical theater of the absurd, and responsible journalists should take the time to suck it up, watch the comedy, pluck the rare diamond from the dung, and pass the stone, with an addendum tallying the ratio of facts to lies. No diamonds? No distribution. See James Fallows at The Atlantic for more. I like James so much that I ponied up for a subscription.

In other news, United Airlines is cordially invited to go fuck itself. Jesus. These people are completely without shame. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I would rather pay to push my Subaru uphill into the wind, wearing roller skates and this goddamn ankle brace, than fly United for free.

The cat’s meow

March 18, 2020

The rest interval.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla is enjoying this whole social-distancing thing.

Suddenly she has two people to feed her; two people to empty the litter box; and two people to play “Chase Me Chase Me.”

This last is a pursuit through the house to the master bath, where the pursuer must sit on the toilet while Miss Mia slaloms between his/her calves and around both sides of the toilet, scent-marking the corners of the surrounding walls and periodically standing on her hind legs to bump her head into an outstretched palm like a particularly gregarious prairie dog.

Afterward there will be a short snort from the water dish followed by a snooze on the back of the couch.

Then, and only then, are we released to set about our own little bits of business. Like waiting for the feddle gummint to send us a G of our own money and then dispatch crews of space-suited carpenters to nail our doors and windows shut so we can’t leave home to spend it.

Rebooted

March 11, 2020

If spring hasn’t quite sprung, well, it’s thinking about it.

It was a pretty pleasant morning yesterday in the Duke City, so I bit the bullet and ventured out for a short walk around the flattest parts of our neighborhood, which made it a very short walk indeed.

I did a bit with both crutches, and a bit with one, and a bit with none; chatted up a few neighbors who wished to plumb the depths of my stupidity; and finally headed back to the rancheroo for a spot of lunch.

Then I pulled off the Darth Gimp boot and its Vasque Clarion companion, leaned back in my chair, and put both dogs up on a footstool to rest awhile.

Just out of reach. Like a cat.

Not until I settled in and got comfortable did the smoke alarm go off.

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

Etc.

So I put on the Darth Gimp boot and its Vasque Clarion companion, levered myself out of the chair, crutched into the entryway … and it stopped.

“Turkish, are you fucking with me? I asked. The question seemed relevant, if a tad mystical.

For starters, as all cat people know, your cat will never assign you some vital task until you are settled in and comfortable.

Second, the night Turkish died, as Herself and I were settling into bed, and I rested my right hand on the spot where our big, big boy would usually lounge for a bit, the bathroom light suddenly turned itself on, and then off.

Now there was this. And it wasn’t lost on me that I had instructed that my old comrade’s remains be cremated.

I crutched into the kitchen for a fresh battery, because why the hell not, and the smoke detector started up again. So I returned with the battery and a small stepladder, and — praying there wasn’t a giant, pissed-off, blue-eyed spectral cat in a cloud of smoke up there somewhere  — made the swap without incident.

Turkish always liked the high spots.

 

I got some wild, wild life

February 21, 2020

“Take a picture, here in the daylight, oh oh.
They got some wild, wild life.”

Herself had buggered off to Florida for a bit of R&R, and Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Force) was in his quarters, decoding vital transmissions from HQ (which appear on the underside of his eyelids), when his adjutant, Miss Mia Sopaipilla, bypassed the chain of command to inform me that we had a muj’ inside the wire.

Little fella — I know, I know, how binary of me — hung out for the better part of quite some time, touring the patio, napping under our bedroom window, and finally scooting up a backyard tree and into the arroyo.

Maybe his old lady was out of town too? Checkin’ in; checkin’ out, uh huh. I got a wild, wild life.

 

¡Feliz año nuevo!

January 1, 2020

Another one bites the dust.

Well, here we are. 2020. A whole new year to play with. It’s like bringing that new bike home from the shop. Can’t wait to take it out for a spin.

Actually, I’m in no rush. It’s still below freezing out there at the moment, and it wasn’t much warmer when I took an old bike for a spin yesterday afternoon.

It was a Steelman Eurocross, and the only reason it and I were on the trails was to squeeze one final drop of fun from the old year. There was a chilly wind from the north, and I was wearing my heavy-duty bib tights, two long-sleeve polypro undershirts, a stout long-sleeve winter jersey, tuque plus cycling cap, winter gloves, wool socks, and winter shoes.

The trails were just a bit tacky, which was fine, especially when I took a detour through a gravel wash. This is a long, gradual uphill, and not ideal for 33mm tires in dry conditions unless you’re Belgian or Dutch. I put ’er in 36×28 and ground me some gravel, just like the Kool Kidz do.

All in all this proved a relaxing interlude between bouts of tech support at Herself the Elder’s place. She’s been having trouble getting her iPhone and hearing aids to make nice together via Bluetooth. The cable-TV setup is likewise challenging. Once again we find engineers making things more complex than they need to be, just because they can.

“Lookit me, I’m engineering!” Indeed you are, Poindexter, and I hope your granny writes you out of her will.

So, yeah, studying the catechism of elder tech, pondering the mysteries. Lacking faith, but doing the works in hopes of enlightenment.

After some success that can be described only as limited Herself and I came home to El Rancho Pendejo, warmed up some leftovers, watched a bit of standup on Netflix, and called it a night long before the ball dropped in Times Square.

Tomorrow, we agreed, would be another day. Year. Whatevs. Where the gravel at?

Crashed in the feed zone

November 2, 2019

Exhausted by a long morning spent waiting for breakfast, Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) commandeers a sunny spot for purposes of R&R.

The cats are getting the old one-two this weekend.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla recovers from a nasty bout of Delayed Meal Syndrome atop the bedroom dresser.

First, Herself has flown off to Florida to visit her mom and eldest sis, which means that reveille and mess call have been bumped from 4 a.m. to a more reasonable hour dictated by the whims of the interim quartermaster, a renowned wastrel, sluggard, and layabout.

Second, Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. tomorrow, which means an additional hour of kip time for staff and more grumbling in the chow line for the cats.

“Unconstitutional! Due process! Coup!” they yowl, baring their fangs, spreading their claws, and hissing like the Devil’s teakettle on full boil.

No, wait, that’s the House Republicans. Another bunch of neutered housecats entirely.

 

Morning report

May 10, 2019

We won’t need any sunscreen today.

No, you haven’t stroked out. All is well. What you’re seeing is the wind-driven rain smearing Miss Mia Sopaipilla’s upper-deck observation window.

Frankly, she finds this irksome. The Enemy is everywhere, and eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, as we discovered last night when a stray cat materialized outside the Southwestern Sally Port.

I was loading the dishwasher when a horrific yowling and clatter nearly gave me a stroke. I thought maybe the Dead had breached the Wall, but nope. It was Mia, scattering the vertical blinds as she marched to and fro alongside the sliding glass doors, challenging a feline interloper to personal combat, while Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) formulated strategy and tactics from his command post in the rear.

This morning I awakened to find that the commander and his staff duty officer had deployed various biological countermeasures overnight (the Geneva Convention notwithstanding), and terrorists had disabled the coffee grinder. But I was able to bring the base back to full readiness with various cleaning products, some elbow grease and much bad language.

Opening a few windows helped, too, until the rain started coming in sideways.

That is all.