Monday, October 12, 2015

Mischief on the Hoof

Ben is a bad boy. Behind that innocent obedient facade lurks mischief.

I visited Ben today, pulled him out of his paddock for a long, relaxing grooming, fed him cookies, and put him back out. Then I sat for a while in my car, doing stuff, when....

Bang. Bang. Not loud, not fast, but bang... bang... from the direction of Ben's paddock.

I looked out the windshield over toward the paddock gate. There was Ben, standing parallel to the fence, pushing his nose in between the gate and gatepost, shoving at the gate. The chain and snap fastener held, though the gatepost wobbled with each shove.

I'm told that Ben makes a habit of testing his gate to see if it's been left unlatched, and has been spotted more than once ambling about the barnyard, nibbling grass or headed for his stall, where he knows there's hay waiting. Apparently (I've never been there to witness it), being an elderly fellow who cares more for fodder than freedom, he doesn't take off running when he's escaped, just goes in search of food.

This behavior is even more clever than you'd at first think, since the gate opens inward and he'd have to figure out how to maneuver it out of his way, rather than just shoving it forward.

I wonder whether Ben bothers when there's snow covering the grass.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

This is getting out of control....

The window man is coming on Thursday to final-measure the windows for manufacturing; I’ll also be able to discuss with him exactly what needs to be cleared away for the installers to work. But why not get a jump on that? I’ve already taken down the blinds, after all. What’s next?

What’s next, yesterday, was hauling out from under the living room windowsill a small three-shelf VCR cartridge storage thingie; plucking out the few tapes I wanted to save; bundling up the rest to chuck out; hauling all the chuck-outs and the shelves to the basement. Then it was on to the tall narrow black bookcase where I kept more VCR tapes. I took them all out and dragged that to the dining area on the front side of the condo.

There I pulled out a three-tier wicker corner shelf from where it nestled next to a three-tier glass-front bookcase; took everything off it, sorted out the keeps/chucks, cleaned it, and found it a new home in a niche next to the china cabinet. (It just fit!) I pushed/pulled the glass-front bookcase and the two-shelf open bookcase next to it (without removing the books) a few inches along the wall, slid the black bookcase into the vacated space, carried all the saved tapes from the living room to the dining area, sorted them into categories, and reloaded the bookcase. Did some dusting and cleaning of every thing and area I’d worked on, and there it was! More prep work done, and the attacked areas looked more open and airy and light.

I looked at the dining table. Hmmmmmmm..... But no. Not right then. Had other things to do and I was tired anyway.

Today, though; today I decided to go ahead and take the central leaf out of the table. After all, it’s just me here, right? It’s not like I’m throwing dinner parties, after all. So I cleared away all the stuff that had accreted on the table (it’s such a convenient place to put stuff down when I come in, after all), wiped it down, then tugged the sections apart and heaved the heavy leaf out. Got it propped next to the closet, then turned back to reassembling my now circular little table; put a judicious selection of stuff back into place; disposed of or rehomed other stuff; and put the two least-damaged chairs back under it.

Ah, yes; least damaged chairs. I inherited the dining set from my mother, who did not have cats. The seats are upholstered, now sadly stained, scratched, and cat-haired; the backs had once had woven wicker inserts, now more or less shredded. Time to replace them! I’ve found an all-wood, hopefully catproof set online at a reasonable price and will be ordering them: Arlington side chairs, black back and legs with a java seat. The veneer on the table is either walnut or dark-brown fruitwood, so they should look okay with it.

So I horsed the two immediate-reject chairs over toward the basement stairs, then turned to put the leaf into the front entry-area closet, opened the door, and....

Half an hour later, the closet floor was swept, the leaf was propped up inside, the Shark vacuum was back in place, and several years’ worth of old plastic UPS delivery-protection bags (you never know when they might come in handy!) were out, either stuffed into one bag for recycling or stuffed with the jackets, scarves, gloves and so forth I’d hauled out of the closet, decided I’d never wear/fit into again, and bundled up for the St. Vincent de Paul collection bins at the church just down the street.

I threw all the bags down the basement stairs, then horsed down the chairs one by one. Now the bags are in the car, the chairs are in the back of the basement waiting for their turn on trash day (only one large item other than the barrel per pickup, so I’ll be doling stuff out for a while), and I am done.

Well, except for tweaking the area rug under the dining table, trying to get rug, table, and chandelier all aligned just right. But other than that, and deciding to wait till tomorrow to vacuum....

Holy guacamole, what a difference in the dining area! So much more room! So much more open and airy and bright it seems! The table looks tiny and I’ll have to get used to that, but it’ll be good discipline to not let stuff accumulate.

Not sure how the cats feel about it, though. Some of them like to perch on top of the china cabinet, and to exit therefrom by leaping down to the table. That’s not going to work so well now – it’s a smaller target and farther from their launching pad. Oh, well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"Thank you; I'll do it myself."

I'm going to have seven double-hung windows replaced in my condo, 30+ year old windows that desperately need it. The sale's been made, the installer will be coming out shortly to take final measurements, and then it will be about eight weeks to get them fabricated to be installed in probably mid-December.

Meanwhile, six of the seven are in pairs with blinds that I inherited from the previous owner. Those blinds would need to come down before the new windows can be put in, and the installers don't do that. Given the privacy of my location, sun direction on either side of the building, and so forth, I don't really need them, so might as well take them down now. I kind of dislike them anyhow -- not the bitter hate I have for the old windows, drafty gaps, difficult opening/closing, clumsy metal storms and all, but a casual contempt for their dust-collecting uselessness (the cats have chewed half the cords into oblivion).

Now, taking them down would be a pain in the butt, awkward, and not easy for my fat old self. So I called a contractor who did some minor job for me a few years ago to ask if he'd do it. Sure, he said, but I don't have my appointment book here. I'll get back to you.

Yeh, right. That was several days ago. Screw that. I'm tired of obsessing over it; I'd like to move on to some new target for my OCD, please.

So this morning I hauled the stepstool out of the garage, brushed the cobwebs off it, grabbed a couple of screwdrivers, and DID. IT. MYSELF.

It was indeed an awkward pain in the butt, a strain for my fat old body, I’m sneezing from all the long-neglected dust, I need to change my clothes, my hands are still trembly from the effort – but it’s DONE. The windows are revealed, the hanging plants are back up, and the carcasses are tied up into one long filthy bundle in the basement, awaiting disposal.

I just hope the trash truck will take them away tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

So Very, Very Good

Self-indulgence tonight: I'm treating myself to some aged Gouda. Very aged Gouda. Gouda so aged, it's firm and crumbly when you cut into its intense yet soft orangeness inside the rind; smooth and yet crunchy with crystallization; and the flavor? Deep, rich, complex, worlds beyond any common supermarket Gouda you've ever had, a vintage wine compared to grape juice. I eat it in tiny nibbles, to stretch out the ecstasy as long as possible.

This... is Gouda for the gods.