camping out – inside – while Jesús works

Dy and I are camping out in the living room while the ceiling in the master bedroom is replaced due to significant water damage. Like 30,000 others in the area, our roof was damaged by hail in April. Repairs were hampered by rain, and then we left for a vacation in late August. It’s a very strange feeling to drive away from your home on the way to the airport and Florida – with the roof half done and half tarped.

After we returned, my wife’s mold-sensitive nose got us looking at the ceiling. The roofer has been super about it. And we’re thankful for insurance!

A.J. recently purchased a “two-person” tent with his own money. Maybe two his size, or one of me. He and Tee have played with it and our old, damaged dome tent (long background story there involving a windstorm at a beautiful, large, artificial lake in NE) in the backyard. I consented to sleep out there with them a few weeks back, but they both got cold and came inside before I laid down a second time. So I got in on the fun, without the pain of the early wake-up on too little cushion.

Sometime we’ll chronicle more of A.J.’s exploits in fishing. For now, he’s content to have “the best teacher in the world.” Should we tell her? He, Tee and Arey seem to be learning well and enjoying most of the process, if missing the more open structures of summer.

We’re all learning plenty these days, with Dy tackling registration for a world-class convention and me guiding vendors and stakeholder representatives through my first-ever professional-grade RFP (for online registration).

Added the next morning: There I went and left out one of the main points. Jesus is taking care of us.

The name of the drywaller (who’s starting as I write, I trust) is Jesús – a sturdy fellow who does good work. The kids were excited to hear who was doing this job, a little like carpentry. There’s a vibrant Hispanic/Latino community in town – one of the largest of many ethne gathered for educational and economic opportunities. – j


live as I type

Rather than the typical time-delayed post, this one is in as real a time as I can manage. My usual device for typing is has no Wi-Fi to (legally, consistently) connect to at the house, and my attempts to enable Internet Connection Sharing under Windows 2000 this afternoon failed due to an IP address conflict with the ISP-provided router. The router has wireless built in but I’ve never been able to get it to provide a connection as an access point. But you don’t need or want to hear these minor complaints.

But while I’m griping, here’s a bit more: The old middle back is feeling it from leaning over to spray bleach solution under the deck – on top of the drilling regimen this morning. Did I mention that we’ve been soaking a foot or two up and away from the wall around the outside of the house each week or so to try to persuade earwigs from wandering inside. I’m told it’s been helping, and it’s worth it not to be asked by Arey to squish a few when I’m already in bed and she’s decided to go downstairs to head that way.

Okay, enough of that. The lunch salad was delicious. Non-essential but very welcome ingredients: bleu cheese dressing, sunflower seeds and cracker crumbs.

My goal this session is to upload and embed at least one photo so this blog can begin to get a facelift. The template is nice, but I can save a lot of typing since a picture is worth… Actually, a few screen shots in my most recent illustrated how-to article for coworkers (Outlook to Word mail merge contacts to labels, nothing too exciting) did save several dozen words. I knew it was coming when my developing text said something about the eleventh (!) button from the left on a toolbar – and had to describe which toolbar.

Okay, I’ve begun the Blogger FAQ article “How do I post pictures?” and things look hopeful. Am I going to say to my self, “Why didn’t I get this before?” when I’m done? The prompt for an actual image reminds me I have several that need to be cropped…back in a minute.

Okay, that was more than a minute. The GIMP is my (and Arey’s) tool of choice, BTW. I’m still finding my way around 2.x, as they made the menuing more consistent. Nothing digital corrects a smudged lens, tho.

After three times following the instructions and clicking the Done button…it’s still not done it. Of course I can post them to and insert HTML tags, or use Picasa, flickr, etc. – but this is nuts. Calling it a day – j

time for lunch…in the quiet

12:35 PM Something was telling me it was about time for lunch. The “honey-do” list is part way done. Somehow those tasks take 50% longer than I anticipate, adding up to a full – if late-starting – morning.

The late start was the result of sleeping in just past eight, a rare experience in the household. Truth be told, I woke earlier and shut windows and a door and turn on a fan to screen noises from beyond the house. The crows are the most obnoxious, caw-caw-caw-cawing from perches conveniently located near bedroom windows. Alright, the fan was mostly to add noise, since the sound machine is with the kids and Dy in Illinois. They’re visiting friends and family for a long weekend – thus the relative quiet.

I mentioned last Saturday the hedge we took down the previous Saturday – just in time for the city brush haulers to show up and tote it away with neighbors’ storm debris. It had screened the front porch steps as they angle down to the driveway, and even more thoroughly the longer we neglected it, knowing it would come down. If I get brave, I’ll post a few pictures of the hedge as it went. It’s getting embarrassing not having photos on the unblog just because I couldn’t make it work the first time I tried; if one’s determined to try to buck a trend, it should at least be intentional.

Now the little stumps have holes drilled down into their centers, with a dose of rot accelerator funneled in and dissolved in hot water. The former owners left a large stump in the back yard (along with the wood beneath the deck, which will take some splitting) and we’ve made a few more by taking down extra bushes in and around the garden and raspberry patch. It took every spare extension cord in the house on the end of our long heavy-duty one to reach all the way across the yard, but I got the ones back there drilled, powdered and watered.

Drilling the second of eight or so holes in the big stump, I noticed two mosquitoes biting different arms. They didn’t survive, but neither did the crow A.J. and friends discovered sick on the ground near the raspberries a month ago. A single black feather remains as witness to its death throes, probably succumbing to West Nile virus according to the city animal control officer who came by at Dy’s request to dispose of it. Not much risk except to infants, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Not wishing to carry unnecessary pests in my blood, I put down the drill for a few minutes to spray and slather on the insect repellant all over. “Makes you invisible to bugs,” it claims, and it seemed to do fine. The mosquitoes attacked my shirt instead.

Also discovered in the back yard evidence of partially completed work by utility contractors on the electric pole’s cable anchor, insulator bar and grounding rod – along with one guy’s long-sleeve shirt. Not surprised it got hung up and forgotten; it’s where they’ll find it if they come back. Wonder if their work has anything to do with the fluorescent orange spray paint that appeared a couple weeks ago on grass, groundcover and mulch around that pole. Between the pole and the anchor, I reinforced the oregano’s warning stick with others in hopes it won’t be stepped on again.

Three roma tomatoes were ripe enough to pick, plus a handful of “Tommy Toes” as my grandfather called cherry tomatoes. Some of the previously picked batch will be good on a salad…

How about that lunch? – j

havin’ a garage sale now

8:10 a.m.: Our esteemed first customer is browsing the various offerings of our first Madison garage sale. Signs went up at both ends of the street last night. A.J. is set to sell cups of lemondade from his wagon near the sidewalk, while the rest of our wares are spread along both sides of the driveway on makeshift tables. (The most creative one of these involves two garbage cans, a couple of short boards, plywood a coworker was discarding, and beach towels.) She’s been quite conversational, asking A.J. about his favorite things to do. He just carried her purchases across the street to her vehicle, and is filling her bottle. I hope our coworkers don’t mind paying ten cents for the “cool sips” promised in the daily office announcements email.

Dy suggests doing something of value – not blogging – to make the morning count. Can’t mow, but I do need to trim some branches back from touching the roof, and earwigs are wandering past the bleach solution I need to refresh around the outside of the house. She’s begun a litany of reasons she doesn’t do garage sales:

  • You spend lots of time pricing things and setting them out to sit around for hours just to make $20.
  • You have to watch people slow down their cars as they pass along the street, deciding by the barest glance whether or not to stop and see more.

Despite the frequent traffic and the almost constant blasts of roofers a block over, a dark mouse made itself heard poking around the corner of the garage. Dy is not impressed, but it stopped the litany.

Two more customers drop by, a guy who must know what he’s looking for and doesn’t see it here, and a neighbor we met when cutting down our hedge last Saturday. We marvel again at the timing of that exploit, with the city brush trucks arriving just as we finished. Arey’s jewelry is attracting some attention now, as she shares a trick with an admirer.

The neighbor’s expecting her roof replaced in coming weeks as well, so she and Dy are comparing roofing companies with similar insights. After an April hailstorm across the area, an estimated 30,000 households in Madison are anticipating roof replacement. Sample hailstones I retrieved from the back yard melted later by accident, but I’d swear they were up to 2.5 inches in diameter. Insurance is covering the vast majority of the costs, but just the building permits should pump millions into city coffers at $150 a pop. The staccato of air-fired nails must be music to some ears.

More neighbors and customers are trickling through. A.J. is wandering around waving a sign advertising “A.J.’s Store.” Arey makes her third sale, surpassing all other departments combined so far. T. has set herself up as cashier for A.J. and the general merchandise, quickly and correctly computing correct change. One of her classmates from this past year shows up with extended family, so we get to tentatively practice some Spanish.

If we had a boom box out here, it would be playing Pat Terry from his 1983 album Film at Eleven – either “Yard Sale” or “Fighting Like Cats and Dogs.” Had to pause typing to help finish the doughnuts, a special treat from last night’s lemonade supplies run. Dy announces again that this is the last garage sale she’ll do; next time, the kids are on their own. Between moves and the outgrowing of clothes, seems we’re frequently downsizing as a household – aiming to travel lightly in a number of ways.

Between visitors, several of us test the limits of this Bluetooth keyboard. Now the kids are trying to see how far a drooping branch will loft one of them after the other two pull it further down. There will be less branch to trim as a result. And lots of those little green hopping bugs are wondering how to find their way from the grass back to their preferred aerial habitat.

Later: We ended before lunch, with time to clean up, bag the majority of stuff going on to Goodwill, take down signs and visit a more serious garage sale at least a block north. Managed to split the remaining earnings equitably over lunch, after setting some aside to benefit others. Now it’s on to cleaning…or delaying it by posting this. – j