Friday, December 19, 2014

Cattery...

Cattery...  Our basement cattery is now full of cats!  It looks much better that way.  There are five black cats in here, plus two multicolored ones.  Six of them are wandering about, but one (Kama) is in jail (one of the carriers) because he's picking on the others.  We may be putting him on Prozac (seriously – it works on cats, too).  Some photos:


Teasel folk...

Teasel folk...  A few weeks ago I shipped my mom some genuine Utah teasel seed pods.  Around here they're considered a scourge, and my neighbors (who saw me harvesting the seed pods) were very puzzled.  They tend to think of gasoline and herbicide for teasel; harvesting the seed pods was ... not sane.  I didn't run into a soul who saw those seed pods as fodder for crafts. 

My mom, however, had some crafty ideas.  At right is the little teasel folk “family” she made for us, sitting on our mantle.  She also made another similar family for us to give to a certain somebody.

So far it's the only thing that looks like Christmas in our house.  All our Christmas decorations are buried somewhere in the piles of boxes strewn throughout our house...

Progress report...

Progress report...  Yesterday Debbie and I were quite tired (see previous report for the reasons why), so we were lazy and didn't do all that much.  I did manage to get my truck unpacked, along with a bit of Debbie's – but the heavy stuff in her truck is still in there.  I'll get it unloaded today.  I think :)

When I looked outside our house yesterday morning, I could see that the gas had not yet been connected to the barn.  That was bad news, for sure, as the heat was supposed to have been connected this past Monday.  I called my builder, and he told me there was a leak in the gas pipe.  He was coming over to fix it later in the day.  He and I worked on it in the late morning.  The leak – a very slow leak – turned out to be in one of the “stab” fittings between the polyethylene pipe and a riser.  Those fittings are not repairable, so he had to purchase a new one, saw off the old one, then install the new one.  That did the trick, though – the leak is cured.  The plumber, inspector, and gas company are supposed to be here today to hook it up.

While we were gone this week, more of the barn's interior was sheathed.  It's now about 2/3s done.  The four interior doors arrived today.  The barn is getting close to being finished.  Once the heat is all hooked up and plumbed (early next week, I hope), we can keep the inside above freezing and we'll be able to finish it off with ease, even if it's really cold out.

Today I have a 450 lb. “kit” arriving: two stainless steel cat isolation cages.  The shipping company told me that it's got a total of nine boxes to deliver today, with the heaviest ones weighing 125 lbs. each.  Seven of those boxes contain “hardware” – I'm envisioning several gross of bolts, nuts, and washers for me to assemble.  Sigh...

Progress report...

Progress report...  Ok, I forgot to post the detailed report of our adventures on Wednesday.  So sue me!  Here it is, a day late...

We got up at 2 am, and Debbie went out to the living room, alone, to capture the cats.  She went alone because four of our eight cats flee from me upon sight; if I had gone out we'd never find them.  She caught one kitty and put it in a carrier – and instantly all the other kitties went into full panic mode.  They hid in obscure places, all of them difficult to extract them from.  They ran.  They hissed.  They even struck out at Debbie.  Oh, my.  It took her an hour and a half to corral the eight of them.  We had figured on about fifteen minutes.  Not a good start.

Right about then it started to pour, with heavy rains of the kind seldom seen in Jamul.  It was 40°F and pouring ice cold rain.  I had to pack the last of the pet gear in the back of my pickup (all in plastic boxes), then put a tarp over it all and tie it down.  Naturally I had trouble getting it all to fit, and we kept finding last minute things to put in.  I stuffed, adjusted, and stuffed some more.  I pushed, shoved, and squeezed.  I kicked and jumped up-and-down on some things.  Finally I got it all in, and got the tarp all arranged.  Then I had to tie the tarp down.  The nylon braid rope soaked up the rain water like a sponge, and then became almost impossible to handle with my near-frozen fingers.  Finally I got it all lashed down, and we got ourselves on the road – but not until 6:30 am, instead of the 3 am we'd been hoping for. 

We expected to run into bad rush hour traffic in San Diego, and we did – heading west on the 52, going up and over the big hill before the Santos Road exit.  But that didn't actually take all that long, just 20 minutes or so, and then we mostly broke free of the traffic.  The next time we hit any slowdowns wasn't until we were on the I-215, heading through Riverside.  That eastern edge of the Los Angeles area generally has pretty bad traffic at 8:30 to 9:00 am (when we were going through), but we didn't hit much at all.  We were zooming up the big hill towards Victorville before 10:00 am, and after that we never hit any traffic the rest of the trip.  Yay!

The dogs, as expected, were a complete non-problem.  The three field spaniels were in the rear seat, asleep, for the entire drive.  Within seconds of the wheels rotating, they were down and snoring.  Race (our border collie) was in the front passenger seat.  He did sleep a little bit, but most of the time he spent with his head on the center console, staring at me adoringly, just waiting for me to pay some attention.  When I gave him a pat or a head-scratch, he basks in the attention, then gently licked my hand.  For several hours my right hand was soaked :) 

We expected the cats to make Debbie's trip a living hell.  We had eight cats in five carriers (three of them were doubled up with “buddies”).  Each carrier had puppy pads (basically giant disposable diapers) in the bottom and small litter boxes.  We didn't feed the cats for 12 hours prior to leaving, but they had access to water.  As we loaded the carriers into her truck, there was much yowling and complaining, most especially from Jahaur, who sounded like he was positive we were about to skin him alive.  We thought that sort of yowling would go on for the entire trip, as we've experienced on previous trips.  Also, other cats we've traveled with have always done some combination of peeing, pooping, and puking – usually all three at once.  As you might imagine, that leads to some ... unattractive ... odors in the car.  In the pouring rain, opening windows would be a bit problematic (soaking the cats was unlikely to improve their mood).  I felt great sympathy for Debbie, but both of us figured that if I were to drive the cats things would be even worse – my mere existence horrifies four of our cats, and my presence would be even worse.  As things turned out, though, none of these things happened.  The howling and yowling settled down after just 15 minutes or so.  Jahaur was very stressed (panting) for the first couple of hours, but was fine after that.  There was no peeing, pooping, or puking – none at all.  Debbie's trip wasn't quite as pleasant as mine with the dogs, but it wasn't actually unpleasant.  Yay!

We got clear of the rain as we approached the Nevada border, and had good weather the rest of the way up.  We stopped several times to walk the dogs, and on our first stop we had our lunch.  It was rather a special lunch for us.  The day before, Debbie had stopped in at the Bravo Cafe.  There Manoli and his family gave Debbie an emotional good-bye – we've known them now for over fifteen years, watched some of their kids grow up and work in the cafe.  We've eaten a great many fine meals there over the years.  Yesterday Debbie got a “sandwich kit” for chicken salad sandwiches.  Manoli's chicken salad sandwiches have to be seen to be believed.  He makes the salad fresh for each sandwich, chopping roast chicken, tomatoes, onions, and more.  The bread he uses is made in abnormally large loaves – so when he slices it, the resulting sandwich fills a normal sized dinner plate.  He serves them up with a couple dill pickle strips.  Unless you've starved yourself for, say, three days, then there's no way you can eat the whole thing.  I got through about three quarters of mine, Debbie about the same.  The dogs each got some chicken salad, and the crows and sparrows got the leftover bread.  I'm going to miss the Bravo Cafe, and especially Manoli and Rosio and the rest of the gang...

We stopped in St. George at the Freddy's there, and got a small chocolate malted shake.  Yum!  We walked the dogs a couple more times, stopped for gas in Cedar City and Farmington, but otherwise we just drove.  We rolled into our Paradise driveway just after 10 pm.  With the time zone change, that works out to fourteen and a half hours of travel – not a bad time at all!

Then we set up all the dog and cat stuff in the house.  There's a lot of stuff to set up :)  Litter boxes, dog beds, and lots of little details.  Then we hauled all the cats inside, still in their carriers, and getting mighty worried.  Cats really, really don't like new things.  When we finally got them all in the cattery (except for Jahaur, who was in our bedroom), we opened their carrier doors.  None of them budged – at that point their carriers looked like home compared with the scary new cattery.  We “encouraged” them to get out, and within a half hour or so they were finally exploring a bit.  We let Jahaur out in our bedroom, and he reacted about the same way.  By the time we went to bed at about 1 am, though, he was making himself at home.  The dogs, of course, couldn't care less that they were in a new house.  So long as we were there, they were happy.

It was a long, long day.  We finally got to sleep, but then we were awakened by the phone ringing at 6 am.  There aren't many people stirring in Paradise at that hour, so we were very surprised to be getting a call.  It turned out to be our neighbor Tim D., calling to find out if we were ok.  He was worried because when he looked south toward our house, he saw the flashing lights of emergency vehicles all over the place – several ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks.  We knew nothing of this; we'd slept through all the sirens and commotion.  Later, after daylight, I walked down to the scene of the accident, roughly 200 yards south of our driveway.  There were skid marks, ruts on the side of the road (on our property), and some small car parts, shattered glass, and tail light fragments.  We don't know anything at all about what happened or who was involved...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Progress report...

Progress report...  Just a quick one because I'm tired - more details tomorrow.  We made it, and all the animals are fine.  The cats calmed down fairly quickly and Debbie had a reasonably comfortable ride.  The dogs did what we expected: they slept through the whole thing.  The most interesting event with them was some synchronized snoring in two-part harmony from Mo'i and Miki.  We got a very late start, as nearly everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.  Instead of leaving at 3 am as planned, it was 6:30 am – perfect timing to hit both San Diego and Los Angeles traffic, which we expected to be bad because it was raining.  Miraculously the traffic wasn't bad at all, especially along the I-215 (where it can be really awful).  We made it up here in fourteen and a half hours – the second fastest trip we've ever made. 

We arrived just after 10 pm MST, and we spent the last two hours setting up the animals.  Seven of our cats are ensconced in their new cattery, and are busy exploring it with big round eyes and crouching postures.  Everything is scary :)  The dogs are penned and crated.  The last cat – Jahaur – is busy yowling as he explores our bedroom, but he's starting to settle down.

We're here.  We've moved.  We're no longer Jamulians – we're Paradisians!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Progress report...

Progress report...  We've packed up all the little things we'd left on the last trip – a few changes of clothes, pet things, forgotten this and that.  As I write this, Debbie's off on some errands and a goodbye lunch with a close friend.  When she returns, we'll be stuffing our two pickups full of the boxes we packed, tying it all down, then going to bed early to prepare for an o'dark thirty departure in the morning.

The pets are looking quite confused.  The dogs wander around as if asking us just what the hell is going on.  Race (our border collie) in particular looks concerned each time a box goes out the door, and the house gets a little emptier.  The cats, other than Jahaur (our Savannah cat), seem to spend most of their time searching out new hiding places as we methodically eliminate all their old ones.  Jahaur is in some sort of denial, we think.  He comes out of the bedroom, sees how we've laid waste to the house, and runs back into the bedroom to hide under the bed. 

Little do the cats know that things are going to get much, much worse in the morning.  We've got five cat carriers lined up in the living room.  The three kittens, all tightly bonded, will go into one.  Koa and Kama, also tightly bonded, will go into another.  Then Jahaur, Maka Lea, and Kapua will each get their own carrier.  It's easy to predict that the yowling and lamentations will be (a) loud, and (b) heart-rending.  The level of cat distress will be at about 17 on a 1-10 scale.  And that's when they're still in the house!  Once they're in the car, and the car is moving, we're expecting the volume to increase considerably, and that various foul fluids and solids will be ejected – some at high velocity – from all three orifices on each of eight cats.  That's twenty-four foulness emitters in total. 

Debbie will be driving that vehicle.  I will be in our other truck with the four dogs, who will be asleep with a look of utter happiness and contentment on their mugs.  It will be quiet and peaceful, and the worst olfactory event I expect is an occasional dog fart.  Debbie is driving the “cat truck” because we're both certain that if I was driving, the four newest cats (who still won't let me approach them) will be even more distressed.  Probably the only way I can really help is to be sympathetic when Debbie calls me, which I expect her to do quite frequently. 

It's going to be a long day tomorrow.  I suspect it will also be a day that severely tests Debbie's attachment to felines...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Well, we have a winner...

Well, we have a winner ... in the contest for most obnoxious service call when leaving your home: DISH.  The customer service representative I was connected with spent a lot of energy (and time!) trying to get us to agree to some sort of DISH service in our new home.  We are not interested, as I told him from the outset, but nonetheless he kept trying to sell us on one package after another.  Nothing I said had any effect until I finally got slightly rude and loud.  That worked, except that at the very end of our conversation, he tried one more time!  I'm sure the customer service people are indoctrinated to do this, but from a customer's perspective this is royally obnoxious.  After this experience, I will do my level best to never do business with DISH again.

Progress report...

Progress report...  Yesterday was a sort of slow day, with a bit of recovery for me after that far too intense drive back from Utah with the behemoth truck.  We did pack a little bit of what remains here at the Jamul house, but without much enthusiasm.

We met with the new owners (Stacy and Moon W.) to do a final “handover” to them.  They had lots of questions about where things were, how they work, etc.  We also gave them a key, and made arrangements for all the services that needed to be turned off or transferred (power, phone, etc.).  We surprised them with a cash gift – they've been so nice and understanding this past couple of months that we wanted to recognize it somehow.  They're much younger than us, and this will be their first house – they're obviously very, very excited about moving in and making it their own.  Despite that, they've been extraordinarily patient with us and our receding turnover estimates.  We also knew that they were watching their pennies very closely, and that they just barely qualified for the mortgage – so we figured a little extra cash would be appreciated.  Their faces told us we were right :)

For dinner we went to Hana Sushi in El Cajon, our favorite sushi place near Jamul.  I had the large sashimi combo, and now I'm kicking myself for never having ordered it before.  It was so good!  The big assortment has 8 different kinds of fish chosen by the sushi chef, and this time two of them were things I'd never had before.  One of them was a serious treat: white tuna, which I'd never even heard of.  Delicious!

Today we'll be doing more serious packing, and final walk-throughs on the house to make sure we didn't leave anything behind that we care about.  I'm having lunch with a couple of old friends today, too.  This morning has been consumed with shutting down services to our house, and transferring them to the new owners.  It's rarely enjoyable when dealing with customer service departments of large companies, and this is no exception.  Can you say “eternahold”?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Codewords...

Codewords...  A new quarterly publication about programming.  I haven't had time to read the first issue yet, but the article's titles sure look interesting!

I must be a bad person...

I must be a bad person ... because I laughed until I hurt when reading these...