Fire!

Dec. 8th, 2016 10:43 am
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
Last night I was sitting on the living room couch and I looked out the front window and noticed something odd. Flames. Flames, across the street, in the backyard of the house next door to the library? That neighbor is a retired single lady and very nervous - I can't imagine her having a bonfire at 10pm on a Wednesday night in this cold weather. Or indeed at any time.

I went outside to peer at the fire from the porch. Yes, definitely a fire over there. I went across the street and determined it is not in the neighbor's yard, though - it is farther away and not even visible from the slightly lower elevation of the street. Seemed like it was on the other side of the railroad tracks, which runs along the back edge of the neighbor's yard, and is elevated about ten feet higher than her yard. What is on the other side of the track? Well, there's a sewage treatment plant, and a park, and a Mcmansion subdivision that you can't get to from here without going a couple miles round. In summer the subdivision can't be seen from here, but with the leaves off the trees some of those houses have become visible from the second floor windows. Is someone in the subdivision having a really enormous bonfire? You'd think their HOA would have something to say about that.

By this time it had been about ten minutes and the fire hadn't grown larger or gone out, which implies it's controlled. But I was still concerned enough to call the fire department.

It turned out this is a methane burning thingie over at the sewage plant. I don't think it runs all the time since we have never noticed it before, and we have spent a lot of time gazing out from the front porch. But it is still burning this morning.
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
I have been seeing the same dentist for nearly 30 years. Last time I saw him his hands had gotten scarily shaky. I was glad not to need any fillings that visit. I was hoping he would retire before I had to choose whether to ditch him or have my teeth drilled by shaky hands. Well, I just got a call from someone who has taken over his practice. He has retired.

I see no reason to continue driving back to the neighborhood I lived in 30 years ago, to see a dentist I don't even know, when there are several dentist offices within a block or two of my current house. Time to pick one, I guess.
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
Part of our project was to install a new concrete pad for the mailbox, next to the new sidewalk. But the actual moving of the mailbox had to be done by an official post office person. We have been waiting, and hounding the postmaster, and having the city hound him.

About an hour ago I watched a white van pull up. It had ladders on top and a small post office logo on the door. I was afraid he was only here to find an excuse to not do it, but after looking around carefully, he got to work and moved the mailbox!

He then did extra things, sweeping the base and oiling all the locks. And he cut off the four bolts sticking up from the old pad on the road shoulder, so no one will damage a tire on them. Nicely thorough, five stars.

The mail carrier has just pulled up and parked on the old base. I guess the tires he saved by cutting the old bolts off, are the post office's own.
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
Since we are both currently gimpy, we are trying a new thing. A local chain supermarket, Meijer, offers curbside pickup. We can go to their website, order up a pile of groceries, and pick an available time slot. For $6.99 they will have the bags loaded up and ready, and we can drive up and they will put them in the car at the appointed time.

They don't have it at the closest Meijer but it is at the one that is two exits farther down the freeway. And with only one good leg each I think it will be worth a few bucks and a few extra miles.

I am not brave enough to order produce or frozen food this way, not yet, but I did order some milk and bread. We shall see if they foist the items too close to the sell-by date onto us.

The next available pickup time is late tomorrow, so that is when we will go.

Edited later to add:
The curbside pickup thing worked quite well. They made one error: I ordered six bottles of Diet Dr Pepper, and they gave us five diet and one regular. I think this is a reflection of the way that shelf is commonly stocked - there are always intermingled bottles in the too-small space allocated to Dr Pepper, so this is an easy mistake to make. The milk and bread were not unusually close to the sell-by date.

One limitation is that it doesn't work for reusable bags. And in fact we discovered that curbside is delivered in paper bags with special printing on them. Interesting!

Altogether, I am satisfied enough to do it again.
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
On my work laptop. Grrrr.

My employer has a fancy contract with Dell where they are supposed to handle these things - in fact they are supposed to send a technician onsite within one business day. I think the phone center is in the Phillipines, based on the accents of these people. The guy could NOT understand "My A key is not working" but I finally got him to understand I have a keyboard problem, that just one letter has failed. I don't think it matters whether he can understand which letter it is.

He had a script for keyboard failures.

First he wanted me to reboot in Safe mode, and try an accessory keyboard. Well, my laptop is encrypted and my password has an "A" in it. And the accessory keyboard doesn't work till we get past the encryption screen. So I am dead in the water.

Next he wanted me to reseat the keyboard connector. But he could not explain how to do it. I asked if I take the screws out of the bottom and he said no, I should lift the hinge covers. I can't see how one would do this and he had no other instructions to offer. I will hafta go look for a youtube video.

And while the internal helpdesk claims Dell is supposed to send someone out here, in person, within one business day, that's news to Dell. The best I could get was to convince him to send a new keyboard for me to install myself, and it won't arrive until Weds.

Maybe tomorrow I will take it to Staples or Best Buy and see what they can do. Or make the trek to MicroCenter - it is an hour away but they have things, at least.
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
I just ordered several hundred bulbs for fall planting in the new yard. Crocus and daffodil, because we know they do well here. A few tulips, though not very many since the deer will eat any that we plant outside the circle of the porch light. Blue squill (aka scilla) which will naturalize in the lawn - it is endemic in the neighboring yards already, but rather than waiting for it to spread to us, we'll jumpstart it by putting some in - this house is supposed to look old fashioned and old houses have blue squill! I found there is also sqill that is white with blue stripes, and plain white - is the blue just that much more vigorous, or has no one tried the other colors? I got some of each and we'll see which wins. And I got a mixed assortment of asiatic lily bulbs.

Some things that are not bulbs can be planted in fall as well. I ordered a variety of hostas, and something called widow's tears, and some hydrangeas. Most of the places we want to plant things are shady, and these are all shade tolerant flowering perennials.

Lilac is supposed to be planted in the fall, too, but while I do want some lilac, I don't know where we can put it - it needs sun and we don't get much. Plus it's probably better to source locally so I can get a bigger starting size, so I decided against ordering it. We'll figure it out, and go to the plant nursery when we are ready.

Looking forward to a winter spent looking at gardening catalogs. :-)
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
Friday night we went to see "The Full Monty, The Musical" at the Encore Musical Theater in Dexter. I saw the movie it is based on, back when it was new. The version we saw Friday night, though, is set in Buffalo NY. I was glad not to see the actors trying to do English accents. Other than that the story is pretty much the same, though unfortunately no lawn gnomes were harmed. Instead they have a whole set of musical numbers which were not in the film. Lots of male singing roles, which is unusual for local theater. I thought they did a pretty good job and the singing was excellent. They used the lighting in such a way that I couldn't quite tell if they truly did the full monty or not. I suppose that also hews close to the film, which carefully left anything that might have gotten them an X rating, on the cutting room floor.

Last night we went to a wedding. Steve is friends with the bride's parents. I had never met either of them. But it was a lovely wedding and very emotional. The music at the reception was uncomfortably loud during dinner, and was turned up to painful when the dancing started, which I suppose was the cue for those who are too old, to retreat. Which we soon did. But I wished I hadn't become an elder, since it was very fun to watch. There is obviously a new dance everyone knows. I was not familiar with the song (couldn't even tell you what it was) or the dance but I got a huge kick of watching people do it in unison. And there were two young men, one black and one white, both very tall and skinny, who were putting on quite a show out there. I would have watched longer if I had thought to bring earplugs. Need to carry those next time I go to a wedding. Get offa my lawn, etc. :-)
elizilla: (dexter)
The city says they are going to take down the big maple out front. It is 80 years old and has too many dead branches and they have decided it is unsafe. It is on their property so we don't have any recourse. But we love that tree and don't want to lose it. I hope people don't blame us; we'd have stopped the chainsaws if we could!

The tree is on our side of the proposed sidewalk and is closer to our front porch than to the street, but it is on city property. This whole town is platted with the city owning 99 foot wide strips for even the small side streets like ours. So most residents here actually don't own very much of the land that looks like their front yards; the city owns it. Which means they own the tree.

They are also taking out a bunch of smaller trees. The place is going to end up looking shorn. :( At least we are allowed (encouraged (in some cases required)) to plant new trees on that land. We will have to study hard and pick good ones.
elizilla: (dexter)
Fireworks have been going off like crazy out there for hours now. I remember this happened before and I posted. One thing about LJ is I can look back and find out when that was. Is today the unknown pyro's birthday? It must be. The prior night of many things that go boom, was Sept 26 2015. Also a Saturday. Must be a hell of a party!

Helicopter

Sep. 16th, 2016 11:54 am
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
A helicopter is circling overhead. It is really freaking loud. I wish it would move along out of here.

It is not a black helicopter - it is red. :-) So no one needs to get paranoid. Just annoyed. It's also a pretty large one, much bigger than the life flight from the local hospital. WTF?

Shoo!
elizilla: (dexter)
We have seen no more indoor bats since the exclusion, and all the little rustling noises in the attic are gone.

I think it's working.
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
Due to weather the bat excluders didn't manage to do their thing until yesterday afternoon.

No bats came in last night. I hope that we have had them in here for the last time.
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
Yup, last night as soon as we turned off the lights and AC, a bat started flying around the bedroom.

He showed up so quickly, we think maybe he had been roosting inside somewhere ever since he disappeared last night. So, probably just the 6th bat reappearing. I'm going to call him #6.
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
That's right, last night we had two bats! The first one went out pretty easily but the other one just disappeared after flying around the bedroom a bit. We couldn't find him and since he was no longer moving around, we went to bed and were not disturbed by him again. Maybe he'll stir again tonight and wake us up to let him out.

The bat excluders start work on Sunday. So the end should be near. I wonder how many more we'll have in our living space, before they are all evicted?
elizilla: (dexter)
The critter control guy was here this afternoon. He found two places where bats are getting into our attic.

Bats are a beneficial animal to have; they eat a lot of mosquitoes. You don't want to kill them, and you especially don't want to kill them in your attic and leave a bunch of dead ones up there. So they exclude them by putting one way devices on the entries, so that bats can get out and can't get back in. They leave the devices on for ten days to give all the bats time to get out. Then they seal the entrances.

There are seasons when you can't legally exclude them. You have to wait for the young to get big enough to leave the nest. That date is usually August 15 but it arrived early this year due to the weather. Whoever manages these dates started allowing bat exclusion a week ago, and this company had 80 bat exclusion jobs lined up already. But they have gotten mostly caught up, so he can have a crew exclude our bats on Sunday or Monday depending on weather.

He says that bat activity is peaking at this season because when the young leave the nest, suddenly there are just a lot more bats around.

He can't tell us how they get from the attic to the interior of the house. Four of them coming in, is not enough to leave the markings he sees on the busier entrances. But if they aren't in the attic, they should stop coming into the living space.

Bat #4

Aug. 11th, 2016 10:02 am
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
I am still in considerable pain from my fall, so last night I went to bed early, before 10. I was in bed but awake for a long time, listening to this sound outside, it sounded like a horse eating grass... some animal must be out there making that noise, but what is it? Deer? Or could it be someone's AC? If so it is on its last legs. It's remarkable how quiet it is in Dexter at night, you can pick out all kinds of sounds. Anyways, the noise was definitely outside, no sounds came from inside the bedroom. And suddenly Steve called up to me that a bat was in the office. He opened the door wall and it eventually went out, like most of them do. No close encounters with light fixtures this time, and it never came upstairs. That was the fourth one this summer.

So how on earth did a bat get downstairs, without me hearing it fly through the room I was in and listening so hard in? We know they are in the attic, but I cannot think of any way to get from the attic to the downstairs, without passing through the master bedroom.

I called earlier in the week and made an appointment for the animal control company. They will be here today. It will be interesting to see what they say.

ADA gadgets

Aug. 9th, 2016 03:17 pm
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
Today these safety rails arrived. They were simple and easy to install without modifying any walls or anything, and they are fabulous. I think this is an item every household should have ready to throw on at a moment's notice, if someone is hurt or ill, or if you are hosting a visitor with minor disabilities. Just like people have thermometers and first aid kits on hand. They're not expensive and they fold flat for storage.

Seriously, go buy some.
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
Last night we had another bat incursion. This one was larger than the last one, or at least it seemed pretty large when it was flying around the bedroom. Maybe 8 or 10 inch wingspan. So we did the usual, open the doorwall and wait for it to fly out. And it did find its way downstairs, briefly. But instead of flying out, it came back upstairs and circled the bedroom some more, then went into the bathroom and didn't come back out. We eventually pursued it into the bathroom and couldn't see it. Where did it go? We turned the lights back off and listened carefully. There was a scrabbling noise in the bathroom, but not like it was flying. Was it banging itself against the window screen?

Steve went back into the bathroom and spotted it. It was hanging from the vanity light. Just sitting there. We decided to turn that light on, thinking the bat would not like it and would therefore start moving again. But it didn't. Steve poked at it with the fly swatter and it would NOT leave the light fixture. It made little bat screech noises and stayed where it was. We waited and waited and it scrabbled around but didn't take off.

Finally we realized what was happening. The tip of the bat's wing was caught between the decorative base of the light fixture, and the wall. Steve went and got a long fork, and pried the cover away enough to free the bat. It fell to the floor of the bathroom, not dead but completely spent. It just sat there.

So he captured it in a plastic storage container, and took it outside. When he tipped the container onto its side, the bat took off. I hope he recovered from his misadventure and ate lots of mosquitoes last night. I don't think we injured him with the flyswatter, but when we didn't realize he was trapped and we turned on the light to push him away, it probably got hot enough to seriously stress the poor little critter.

I suppose I need to get more serious and do something about these bats.

Wrong tile

Aug. 4th, 2016 12:29 pm
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
A box of tile just arrived on the UPS truck. The invoice has the correct part number but this is not the tile we chose. There's a current trend for interspersing brushed steel squares into mosaics of otherwise potentially harmless tiles, and that's what is in this box. Yuck. I guess some picker got the wrong thing, or they have the wrong thing on that shelf in the warehouse.

Fortunately Lowes is not difficult about returns, even for special order items, so there will be no wrangling about it. Back it goes. I hope they can find the tile we chose and send it to us. It's an accent tile so we only need five squares.
elizilla: (s10 sidecar)
This morning we had no hot water. Last night I could hear the water heater cycling (it's always been noisy) and wondered why it was doing that when no one was running any water. I guess I must have been listening to its death rattle. It's old and I have already had to repair it once. Not going to do it again; the price of repairs versus replacement just doesn't make sense. (Plus, last time it was electrical, a fried control unit. This time I think it's just the tank going bad, which you can't fix anyway and they all do it eventually.) Since I am covering for a vacationing colleague on the west coast today, I was free in the morning, to go to Lowes and order a new hot water heater. There was only one choice so I ordered it. They tried to get me on the install schedule for today, but they just called and it's gonna be tomorrow morning. Stay tuned.
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