The penguin is my hero

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and couldn't get back to sleep. So, I decided, with all of my 3am-inspired wisdom, to take the garbage and recycling out to the curb, instead of getting up at 7 am to do it.

So, in my jammies and bedhead hair, I turn on the porch light and grab the recycling bin. I mean, really, who's going to see me?

The cops, that's who. Yep, I'm half way down the driveway, as a cop car slows right down at the curb.

What did I learn? To always get dressed and brush my hair when leaving the house? To not do chores in the middle of the night?

Nope.

I learned, if you want to rob a house, do it in cutsie jammies and use a recycling bin to haul out the goods. The cops took one look, and drove off. Really, it's fool proof!

Mr. Potato Brain strikes again

I have a silly dog. A weird dog. A bizarre dog.

I have a dog who, once the snow starts to melt, will search out that last bit of snow to pee/poop on. He did it last winter. He's doing it again this winter. It's like grass is simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Hmmm...

You can buy trays of grass for apartment dogs to use.

I wonder if there are more dogs out there like Kip.

And if I could make money selling trays of snow.

Shipping would be a bitch though.

I have a silly dog. A weird dog. A bizarre dog.

But he's mine, and I'm keeping him.

Tornados, fridges and a father's work ethic

You can tell a lot about the integrity of a person by how well they paint behind their fridge.

This piece of wisdom first popped into my mind sometime late on Easter weekend, 2006.

I had recently bought a townhouse, and decided to take advantage of the 4-day Easter weekend to paint the bathroom and kitchen. 2 rooms, 4 days - no problem, right?

Like most things when it comes to home renovations, it took longer, and cost more than I had anticipated. Things came up - like the trip to the Home Despot to but a step ladder - just so I could paint that corner of the kitchen over the cabinets above the fridge. And the fact that the bathroom took 5 coats (Note: DO NOT listen to the clerk at the paint store that says you do not need tinted primer when painting red).

Things came up. It took a long time. I was tired. It was late at night, and I was on the 2nd coat of the kitchen, when I came to the fridge. Not a hard thing to move. But, I was tired. And there was already one really good coat of paint behind the fridge. It would be so much easier to skip it. And really, who would know?

I would know.

Every time I looked at the fridge, I would know. This is one lesson my father instilled in me, even if he doesn't realize it (Gee, thanks, Dad!).

If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing right.

If you don't have time to do it right, you won't have time to do it over.

I don't recall my father ever uttering those words. He taught more by showing and doing, than speaking. Which explains the treehouse he built for my sister's children - every angle square, every inch measured, every thing right - because he would know. It explains many things that my dad has done over the years. And, it has lodged in me, apparently. Since the wall behind the fridge got that second coat of paint.

So, what does all this have to do with this house, and with tornadoes??

There was a bad storm this past week, that spawned tornadoes in Oklahoma, and killed at least 8 people. That same storm hit here, resulting in high winds only, thankfully.

The house was fine - except for one piece of siding that half blew off the front porch wall. Because it had never been nailed on. Simply clipped into the piece below and the thin topmost strip.

Not a big deal. Easily fixed. The roof didn't leak. No windows were broken. No one was killed.

But I'm annoyed. I HATE fixing things that others couldn't be bothered to do right in the first place. I don't mind doing things. I don't mind fixing things that have broken, worn out, etc. But to fix something, redo something, repair something, simply because of someone else's lack of work ethic, annoys me.

And it seems to be epidemic. From the mechanic who didn't put the plug back in the oil pan in my car, to the pizza maker that forgot the mushrooms; from the shoe store clerk that couldn't be bothered to call the other location to see if they had those boots in my size, to the cable company that can't be bothered to show up on time, or even call to say they are running late.

It's everywhere. And it annoys me. And there is nothing I can do about it.

Except always paint well behind my fridge.

House perks

It's now day 100. Time for a list of the things I love about this house.

1. The location.
2. The fact that is is literally steps from the lake shore.
3. A lake shore that has wonderful walking trails all along it.
4. And a beach about 5 minutes away.
5. The fact that in warm weather, I'll be able to fall asleep to the sound of the waves.
6. The original woodwork throughout the house.
7. And the fact that, except in one room, it is NOT painted.
8. The large yard.
9. The 4 big trees in the yard (even though 1, or maybe 2, will have to come down).
10. The fact that it, although only ~1300 sq. ft., has room enough to entertain.
11. And has a formal dining room.
12. The front porch. A front porch seems so old fashioned and neighbourly. Of course, I most likely will never sit out on the front porch. But I could if I wanted to.
13. The fact that the one bedroom upstairs is large enough I can cleave off enough space for a 2nd bathroom - good for those 2 am bathroom calls!
14. The windows - large and plentiful.
15. And the fact that they are relatively new, so I don't have to replace them.
16. The fact that I actually have windows on all four sides of my house that open (having lived my entire adult live in either apartments or townhouses up to now, this is a novelty).
17. The fact that the cross-breezes generated by those windows, and the proximity to the lake, should be enough to cool the house in the summer.
18. The fact that there is an air conditioner for those days those windows and breezes aren't enough to cool the house.
19. Have I mentioned the location?
20. And the walking trails?
21. That Kip loves??
22. And that this street isn't a main street, and so isn't busy, but it's close to a main street, and all the amenities there.
23. Such as take-out pizza.
24. And Wal-Mart.
25. And there is a great hardware store only a few minutes drive away. I have a feeling I'm going to be spending a lot of time, and money, in that hardware store.
26. The highway is also only a few minutes away.
27. Which cuts down the time spent driving to the closest Starbucks.
28. The fact that the closest Starbucks is ~20 minutes away, which will save me money.
29. That I can spend at the hardware store instead.
30. The climate - after 10 winters with -40 F being a regular feature, it's is warm here - relatively.
31. And once the house is insulated, it will be warm inside as well!
32. The fact that every room is so ugly/poorly renovated, that it really is going to be easier to tear everything out and start with a clean slate, instead or trying to make it work with what's here now.
33. And the fact that it is going to take a LOT of work to get it all fixed...

...but I still think it's worth it!

House peeves

I have lived in this house for 99 days, and these are the things that have driven me nuts every one of those 99 days.

1. Little to no insulation. I realize the house is 80 years old. But it has been renovated at least twice in those 80 years. Did no one consider insulating it?
2. Not enough electrical outlets. Ditto the renovation remarks - the electricity has been updated, so why not add more outlets while you're at it??
3. Electrical outlets that don't work. I must try to fix that one of these days - if I remember where my circuit tester is...
4. Walls that hurt when you brush up against them. Walls should not hurt - so please never stucco the inside of your house.
5. Did I mention the no insulation? It's been a cold winter.
6. Ceiling fans - I hate ceiling fans.
7. The fact that all the bedrooms have ceiling fans...
8. ...but no wall switches to turn on the ceiling fan lights.
9. Mini blinds - I hate mini-blinds.
10. Especially broken mini-blinds.
11. Or mini-blinds that don't work properly.
12. The laminate floor in the bathroom.
13. And the fact that the floor is swelling due to the moisture.
14. Which is why you never put laminate in a bathroom.
15. The parquet floor in the kitchen, part of which was ruined at one time, and very poorly repaired.
16. The fact that a poorly repaired parquet floor has many loose wood pieces...
17. ...that are considered doggy chew toys.
18. Did I mention it's cold??
19. And that my gas bill for this winter is going to be insanely high?
20. Even though I keep the thermostat set at 65 F most days?
21. And 55 F at night?
22. Not counting those days when the furnace couldn't keep the house at 65 F.
23. The kitchen light switch is at the back of the room, so you have to walk through the dark kitchen to turn it on.
24. The horrible green carpet that is installed throughout the house.
25. The horrible carpet that really smells.
26. And that I'm afraid to clean, since it might just disintegrate.
27. The fire hazard I've created with the many, many extension cords running everywhere.
28. The fact that it's been so cold, but I still have mosquitoes in the house, thanks to the small lake I have in the crawl space.
29. The fact that I have to heat the crawl space to keep the pipes from freezing.
30. The fact that the heated crawl space supports an entire ecosystem apparently - mosquitoes, mice...
31. The fact that the front porch has a ramp instead of stairs. I'm not sure why that bugs me, but it does.
32. The fact that so many things were installed/fixed/upgraded poorly or just wrong - I don't mind doing things, but I hate doing thing over because someone else couldn't be bothered to do it right in the first place.
33. And the fact that it is going to take a LOT of work to get it all fixed...

...but I still think it's worth it!

Winter Wonderland

Just a few more pics from yesterday's walk - although cold, it was a nice sunny day. And at least one of us was wearing fur.

Lake Erie generally freezes over in the winter, being the shallowest of the Great Lakes. An ice boom is deployed every winter to prevent the ice from flowing down the Niagara River and damaging the water intakes for the hydroelectric power plants. This isn't the best picture, but you can see the open water that is immediately downstream of the boom.


Kip on the walking path - it's nice that it's maintained throughout the winter!

A few short months ago, this was all sand. Hopefully, it won't be too long until it's back to sand!



The ice and snow build-up on the shore line, caused by the lake. That's Buffalo in the background.


It's pretty in winter - but I still can't wait for spring!

Brags at -12 C

I am proud of the Kipperdog - and of myself. Let me explain. Kip is my first dog, my starter dog, the dog I need so many do-overs on... but I'm learning. The first year I had him, I listened to the "positive-only" trainers - the "ignore bad behaviour, reward good behaviour" ones. And this may work for some dogs. But it doesn't work for Kip and I. And it took me a year, and a lot of advice from some great dog people, to make me realize that there is no one way of training that works for every dog and every trainer. And that no training tool is cruel - it's the mis-use of any training tool that can be cruel.

Long story short, I now have a dog that can walk off-leash, can do a recall, and can generally behave well in public. Is he perfect? No. Do we need a lot more work? Oh yeah!! But he (and I) are miles ahead of where we were a year ago.

Today, although cold, was sunny, so I took the camera along on our walk. And taped this:


video

Is it a perfect heel? No. Is it a perfect recall? No. Neither would win any points at an obedience competition. But it is a dog that is heeling, off-leash, outside, and then doing a recall. And I am proud of Kip. And of myself. We are a work in progress, but we are getting there! It's a good day.

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