Monday, January 29, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mystery Solved

Since I am usually rushing out the door in the morning, I fill the bird feeders at night, when I let Danny out to play.

I have noticed that the feeders are usually empty in the morning which is very strange, because birds (and squirrels) sleep at night. I thought it could be a raccoon or possum or perhaps the deer that are constantly in the yard. Everyone laughed at the idea of deer eating my bird feed.

The picture on the right is proof! As I watched, 2 deer came to eat the seed. They tilt the feeder and then stick their tongues in to pull out the seed. If it is tough battling the squirrels, the deer may be impossible.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Reflection on Forty

I don't remember the place and time, but somewhere in my 20's I read an article in a mens magazine that had a list of things to do by the time you were 40. There were a bunch of things on that list; some were reasonable, some made me laugh. One item I remember was "grow a beard". I'm not sure why I remembered that particular item after all these years, but for some reason it sticks in my mind. I'm normally a clean-shaven type of guy. When I was laid up a couple years ago, I tried to grow a beard, more out of necessity than a desire to change my appearance. The beard lasted about 6 days until my physical ability surpassed my desire for a beard. Check that one off the list.

I've known my wife longer than I haven't. Through life's trials and tribulations, she's been there. I've never looked back on that moment in 1986 where I knew she was the one for me and thought different. Not for a second.

I always try to do the right thing. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I let myself down. But I learn from my mistakes. I've left a job on principle, left a job under bad circumstances, and took a job for all the right reasons. I haven't made enough money to buy Miami yet, but then again, I didn't piss it away so fast either. I figure I'm kinda even.

I wish I could say I never experienced the pain of loss. Overall, not a lot, but more than enough. Life is precious and when a loved one is taken from you, it's hard to understand. I often think of those who have passed before me with a smile. I wonder if Danny is confused when I call him Jake?

My travels have brought me to the other side of the world as well as our own backyard. I've been in 27 of our 50 states. Granted, some were just changing planes, but I count that. We have a dream to rent a Winnebago and travel to the remaining states when we retire. I think we can knock off ten more states before then. No matter how far you go, though, there's no place like home. Except maybe Kiawah Island.

I don't know if I've lived up to my definition of successful. Then again, I think the definition of success changes as you grow older. It wasn't that long ago that I thought successful meant driving an expensive car, wearing the right clothes, and living in a nice big house. When you find you're the last leaf of Fall clinging to a tree, your perspective changes. That's the moment you find out that success means the love of family, friends, and strangers you've never met, coming to help for no other reason than you need it.

Will I be here in another forty years? I don't know and I'm not so sure I would want to know ahead of time anyway. Tomorrow is a gift; embrace it. Life is a mystery that I'm still trying to figure out.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

This can't be legal

Running the wire for my second hallway light, I encountered this beauty. It's a piece of sheilded wire connected to Romex with a wad of black tape around it. I'm thinking this should probably be in a junction box, but looking for opinions.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wanted by the USPS and IRS

Came home tonight and threw the tennis ball with Danny Boy for quite a while. Mind you, it was 17 degrees out, but he just couldn't get enough. As we were wrapping up, a sparrow flew into the garage and couldn't figure out how to get out. We tried to shoo the sparrow out, but he insisted on flying all around the garage except out the doors. Danny just sat there watching him fly around like the bird was there for his entertainment. We decided to back one car out of the garage to give the bird more room and he flew right out.

After that excitement, we came upstairs and opened the mail. The usual tax documents and junk mail along with a check I was expecting. We popped the pizza in the oven and headed upstairs to change leaving Danny roaming downstairs. On our way back down, there was Danny, ear deep in the mail. He had chewed through two tax documents and was starting on some junk mail when we caught up with him. Fortunately, my check was still intact.

After several serious BAD BOYs, we told him the next knock on the door might be the Postmaster General with a subpoena for destruction of government property. As you can see, he wasn't too concerned.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Uneventful Approval

Last night was the Wilton Inland Wetlands Commission meeting where our landscaping project was going to be discussed. I've been working for months with Brian Cossari at Hoffman Landscapes and Pat Sesto in the IWC to come up with a plan that everybody was happy with.

And was I prepared. I read the Connecticut Association of Wetland Scientists whitepaper on Vegetative Buffers. I also read and studied the Army Corp of Engineers Design Recommendations for Riparian Corridors and Vegetated Buffer Strips. I was ready for any questions.

A couple days beforehand, I prepared a brief two-minute talk explaining what we wanted to do. I wrote up some notes so I wouldn't forget anything and practiced it on Valerie.

Then the big day came. Of course, I was up at 04:30 because I had to be in New York City that day. And I'm fighting a cold. Still, I persevered and we toted our documents and landscape plans to the IWC meeting. We arrived at 7:10 and the meeting didn't start until 7:30.

As the meeting was called to order, we were the first ones up. I brought my notes up to the desk in the front, pinned my picture on the wall about 10 feet away, and started my presentation.

As I put the last push pin in my diagram, a horrible thought washed over me.

"Oh, sh%t, my notes are at the desk. I'll look like an idiot if I go back now."

So I winged it.

And it came out pretty good. Then I came to the point I was fearing the most:

"Any questions?"

You see, we've been to some IWC meetings just to observe the process. People come in and are asked a ton of questions which the answer is usually "Uhhhh, I don't know." Very intimidating, these IWC meetings.

But I was ready for the onslaught. The first question came and I swatted it down like a fly.

Then a commissioner spoke up: "I motion to approve with the normal special conditions."

Another spoke up: "I second the motion."

Boom, done. That was it.

Wondering today what the "normal special conditions" are and if they're normal, why are they special? Oh well, there are some things I'll never understand about local government.

I was almost disappointed that they didn't ask me about the Three Zone approach to vegetative buffer strips.

So now we get to start on our three day project that has taken 7 months to approve.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The right tool for the job

My Dad always says "There's a right tool for every job". In fact, he ususally follows it up with "There's a reason Norm Abram has 40 saws in his workshop!"

Just starting out as a homeowner, you're happy to even have something close to the right tool to get the job done. Sometimes that means hand saws, sometimes that means the cheapest drill at WallyWorld just to get the job done. This Spring, I broke down and bought a table saw to finish my cabinet shelves. I probably could have done it with a circular saw, but it wouldn't have been as pretty.

During the updating to the office and guest room I, I wanted to put some quarter round shoe moulding between the baseboard trim and the hardwood floors. The baseboard moulding got a little banged up when the floors were redone and I think it finished off the look we were going for. I did it with the table saw, but it took me a lot longer than I expected. It was definitely cleaner than cutting everything by hand, but still took more time.

Thanks to J&M&C&R, I got this super Craftsman Mitre Saw for Christmas. With guest room II almost finished, I knew I could put it to use really quick. I cut all the moulding in the picture in a little over 2 hours! Wow. That much cutting would have taken me at least three times as long with the table saw. A couple coats of trim paint tomorrow, and I'll be all done.

Christmas Loot

Among the many goodies that Santa brought for Danny was this rope toy. He couldn't decide which one he wanted to play with, so he grabbed them both (other new one to the left) last night. We finally tuckered him out about 9:30 when he went down for a nap where I caught him lying under the coffee table.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Browning Citori Lightning Field

Browning Citori Lightning Field
  • 12 Gauge
  • 28" Barrels
  • Invector+ Chokes
  • Manufactured 1997
  • Very clean bores
  • Includes 5 Choke Tubes (SK, IC, M, IM, F)
  • Very minor handling marks
  • Includes Adjustable Butt Plate (drop, toe in/out)
  • Includes Original Browning box