Saturday, May 31, 2008
I covered the gaping hole in the floor with homemade flooring (which has since been varnished and looks better than this. I'll be kit-bashing a second-floor railing to cover the ends of the floor boards.
First order of business, stocking the beer fridge. Here you can see that Ev has chosen Sierra Nevada IPA as the beverage of choice for building a Duck Dome. Now, it's off to power up the miter saw and cut some wood!
When I got home, Ev had built two sawhorses, assembled the base of the dome and cut most of the remaining 8 foot 2X4's. They still needed to be measured and drilled for the carriage bolts, and then we started to assemble the walls.
What odd angles. What counter-intuitive configurations. What peculiar contortions we had to get into to attach things. After getting the first two "walls" attached, we stood back to take a look. Okay, we can totally see where it's going ...
The additional of three more 2x4's made it substantially sturdier, and added to it's whimsical appearance.
With the sun sinking quickly in the west, we got a couple more walls and top rails attached before it got too dark to work, then stood back and said, "It's good! It's big!" We aren't at all sure how we're going to put the roof struts on, since we're very short, but now we know how to build the next structure ... the screened gazebo!
The ducks will have room to put in a second floor entertainment loft, and that'll be nice for them, don't you think?
Friday, May 30, 2008
Obviously, we're not going to make it this fancy for the ducks, but we are going to make that basic size and shape. I will, of course, post pictures when it's done. In fact, if I can remember, I'll post pictures as I go.
In other news, Katie won a regional poetry writing contest at school, best out of all the high schools in Southern Illinois, for a poem she wrote about an egg salad sandwich. I'd like to say she gets her literary talents from me, but I suspect she gets them from her father's side of the family. I'm afraid she just gets her weirdness from me.
Anyway...we're proud of her!
I'm headed to town to buy all the necessary materials...lumber, bolts and beer. Wish me luck!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I've taken some pictures and videos of the ducks in the past few days, but I can't seem to find the misplaced cable to upload them off my camera, so just have to believe me when I tell you the ducks are funny, charming, entertaining and HUGE. We bought them a bigger pool yesterday, the 8-foot wader that holds about 400 gallons of water, so they're only getting it dumped and refilled once a week, no matter HOW disgusting it gets! (Do you hear me, ducks? I mean it. Crap on the grass ... and shower before you get in!)
We think we've got their genders figured out, but we're using the "best guess" method at this point. By our best guess, there seem to be an even number of boys and girls, and the girls seem to be bigger and louder than the boys. The loudest and bossiest of them all seems to be a female. She bosses all the others around; always has to be in charge of whether they should all eat or run or swim or sleep; and she's the one who quacks and squawks like she's being killed, so I'll run outside in a panic ... and find her standing under the water spigot demanding that someone turn on the sprinkler so they can shower and then play in the resulting mud puddle. She is one loudmouthed, demanding, controlling bitch! I named her Hillary. : )
The Oduckas (Michelle and Barack ... the black ducks, you know) are getting very pretty since their iridescent feathers are coming in. I haven't named the rest, but I'm considering calling one of the boys Gregory Peck. (And yes, Cedar, I remember that one of them is supposed to be named after you ... I'm waiting to see which one seems the most like a Joisey duck.)
While Ev was out in the shed working on her project today I finally went out and got myself the hobby table I've been needing and spent most of the day working on my dollhouse. One of these days I'll take it's picture. I'll even upload it, if I ever find that damn USB cable.
Other than that, I've been pretty much hyper-focused on the presidential campaign. This is my first experience with being a news and politics junkie and I'm finding that it's like any other addiction ... the highs are euphoric, the lows are crushing, it takes up too much of my time and energy, it forces me to get on other people's nerves and it returns my devotion with stress and anxiety. At least it's not an expensive habit. Honest, I've only sent Obama small donations!
Monday, May 26, 2008
I woke up this morning to this comment:
Hey - are you guys still alive? I miss your crazy real-life stories. What's happening with the ducks? What's happening with you all? Hello? Hello?
I had actually told Lori yesterday that I'd been away from the blog for the last six weeks or so - since Cory's death - because I couldn't think of anything to say except, "I'm still sad." I checked in to see if I'd be ready to go bad to the blog, and it was pretty much the same.
"Yup. Still sad."
So I did what I do when I feel emotionally unbalanced: I took some time to get back into balance. I spent more time alone...working in the yard, watching the ducks...and listened to my head. I gave myself time to feel sad and bitch about the unfairness of it all and consider how it would be if it were me or Lori that dropped over dead with no warning. I gave myself time to wallow privately, and then I returned to my life. I'm still sad for Cory and I find myself absurdly concerned for how he's faring in the ground (he liked the sunshine), but I'm back to thinking about other things now.
So here's what we've got going on:
We had a bunch of family over yesterday for food and beer and conversation. When the crowd got a little overwhelming I slipped away for an hour's worth of yard work. If you're ever at a family shindig here and you see me trimming trees and pulling weeds, don't be alarmed. I'm just full up on people for a while.
I bought the wood for a new project. I was planning on working on it today, but it's been pouring rain since last night. Even the ducks are a little overwhelmed by it. Here's a picture of the project, though.
I'll post a picture of it when it's done. See you all soon!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
The kids have grown by leaps and bounds over the past week. They're very feather-y in the tail area and the tops of their wings, most of them have their breast and belly plumage, and a couple of them have major flight feathers coming in. It's harder to see the cayuga's feathers, since they're replacing black down with black feathers, but the rouens are getting more pretty brown and black feathers every day.
They're also much friendlier and some are downright playful. They'll eat anything out of my hands, and then peck and play with my fingers and my jewelry. They other day they were taking turns getting me to gently hold their bills and pull them around the pool.
This week they figured out how to hop down out of the shed in the morning and let us herd them into the daytime pen instead of having to be ferried there by hand, one at a time. They have no idea about hopping back up into the shed, so going to bed at night was still a matter of carrying them --quacking and peeping and bitching all the way -- until last night. Last night they realized they could hop over the low block walls we put up in the shed to keep them contained, and as fast as I could carry one to the shed another one would hop back out and run out into the yard. I finally chased them all down and pitched them over the fence into the pool again so I could consider my options. I made the executive decision to herd them into their fully-enclosed hutch, which we weren't planning to do yet, and even though it was a little crowded they seemed to fare just fine overnight. Ev did have to get up earlier than she wanted this morning, because they started quacking as soon as they could see the pool in the dawn's early light instead of sleeping in like they were doing in the shed.
Now that they're staying outside all the time I'm a lot more worried about predators. We have just about everything here that likes a nice duck meal, and I'm not going to be any good at all at dealing with what predators leave behind, so I'm trying to figure out how to more fully enclose their pen with some type of screen over the top ( against hawks and owls) and make sure there are no small openings (weasels), latches that can be pried open (raccoons) or screen that can be torn open (foxes and coyotes).
Motherhood is hard and worrisome!
Friday, May 02, 2008
At 3 o'clock this afternoon, I stepped out the back door of the lab and turned left, headed for the bathroom. I passed a young man in the hallway, and it took me a moment to realize that he was the same young man I'd seen in my front yard 3 hours earlier.
"I know you!" I said. "You were in my front yard a few hours ago!"
He blushed cutely, looked at the floor, and said, "Yeah. My sister's having a baby."
I'll admit, I briefly considered that this may be a brush with Fate, and this poor flustered boy could possibly be my son-in-law one day. In some countries, driving a girl's Jeep is considered a marriage proposal, you know. And then I remembered that if he had to drive that crap-ass Jeep, he was clearly too impoverished to marry my daughter, the National Merit Scholar.
Oh! Did I forget to mention that Katie is a National Merit Scholar? Not only is she poised to become the first member of our family to graduate high school (But not, oddly, the first to get a college degree. We all do that, eventually.), but she's actually going to do it with her head held high. Huh. The ability to see a task through to the end? She must get that from her father's side of the family. Dogged bullheaded stubbornness? That comes from my side.
Do you know why I'm a Biologist? Because it was the only class I ever got a C in in high school. Imagine, if I'd sucked at English I might be a famous writer today.
We have a funny relationship with education here in Nowhere.