Jack

Jack

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Tech Support...?!

Here at Dell, we want to assure our customers that our tech support team is staffed by fully competent, highly skilled personnel. Each one has been rigorously trained in the latest hardware advances, and use only the highest quality repair intrumentation under strict 'clean room' conditions to ensure that your treasured electronics are in good hands and completely safe when you entrust them to us...

I mean, we'd never just plop it in the middle of the living room floor, hand a screwdriver to a six year old child and say, "Have at it!"...


Yes, she took that old, defunct computer completely apart. One screwdriver and 2 hours later, she had a pile of technological trash, and had a wonderful time doing it. :) I love that demonic expression...

Bunnyness...

...his name is 'Ace'.


He is my daughter's long-awaited (more than 3 years now) pet bunny. He is a Netherland Dwarf so he'll stay small, and he is a very tame, sweet little guy. When you hold him he stretches out and falls asleep, practically drooling on you.

For years now, everything with N. has been bunnies. Stuffed bunnies, bunny slippers, toy bunnies, pictures of bunnies, bunny shirts--you name it. The kid is more nuts about bunnies than I am about chickens, which is really saying something. The other day at the feed store we were admiring the vat 'o bunnies there (marked down from Easter prices of $50.00 down to $20.00, the high prices weed out the flippant animal purchases) with another couple. The man laughed and said, "Ours are cuter." Up perked my ears, as we have been telling N. since before Easter that she was finally bunny-ready. We soon found out that this family raised bunnies in their backyard for fun and profit, and the woman was steely-eyed about making sure we knew that she did NOT allow bunnies to leave before they were weaned. After talking with them we asked for their phone number to come and see the bunnies, which we did this morning. They had warned us that their backyard was a free-range bunny haven, full of holes and warrens. The place was Watership Down come to life! We grinned and told them they should see OUR yard, full of chickens. We felt right at home. The rabbits were very obviously healthy, well cared for and raised by knowledgable folks. Before we left they also pressed some avocados from their huge backyard tree on us, and we promised to retaliate with fresh eggs, which they agreed to. :)



Instant love...

Friday, April 28, 2006

Heartbreak

The high school that I attended was in a VERY small town (population 49) high in the Eastern Sierra mountains of California. Our school consisted of a gym, an office and nine classrooms, all stuck together in one giant building. It housed grades 9-12 and boasted a grand total of 100 students--of which 12 of those made up my class. We were all friends, even with the teachers and high school was marvelous.

I am one of those people that doesn't make many friends, but the ones I do have, I consider friends for life. All through high school I was best friends with two other girls.

Here's what one of them wrote in my senior year school yearbook:

"Being your friend this year was one of the main things I will remember about all my years of high school. My senior year was great, especially all the things we did together--only we didn't pull the fire alarms or plug the toilets like we had planned. Tell me your address when and if you move--write me or come back to visit and play some tennis, and if you get lucky you might win me (but don't count on it). Maybe we were such good friends because we're almost the same height! Well whatever the reason, we were the greatest of friends and probably will always be. The hardest thing about meeting new people and making new friends is saying goodbye. So let's not say goodbye, but so long for now and see you soon. Though we may be apart physically we will never be apart mentally. Never become a stranger or just two ships that pass in the night. Too bad we only knew each other for a couple of short years because they were the greatest, and longer would have been even greater. This time at school went by so fast and far TOO fast. I wish I could do it again just for the fun of it all, and I would have done everything with you the same only I would have enjoyed it all the more. Like the old saying you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone and this is so very true about our friendship."

Love you always,
Marcia '78

Marcia died yesterday.

She was only 45 years old and had, unbeknownst to me, been suffering for years from Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was talking with my mom, who still lives in that wonderful small town, on the phone tonight when she suddenly said she'd have to call me back, someone had come to her house to talk about getting a cemetary plot (mom is in charge of the local cemetary arrangements). When she called me back 15 minutes later, it was with the shocking news of who the plot was for--one of my best friends on Earth. I had no idea that anything at all had been wrong with Marcia, nor had my mom.

Marcia was a tiny little Paiute Indian girl and we did often joke about both of us being so damned short, especially since the other friend in our trio, D., was very tall. We called her 'Marsh' for short, which inexorably became 'Swamp'. Marcia was Salutatorian in our senior year, and besides being frighteningly smart as a whip, was pretty, truly kind and universally sweet to everyone. Everyone loved her. We all thought she would go on to college and do something easy (for her) like find a cure for cancer or establish world peace, she was one of those people that you just know are destined to make an earth-shattering difference in this world. Instead she chose to remain in the valley with her family, got married and quietly and happily raised a family of 5. I had moved to Southern California, but whenever I went up to visit my mother I would get in touch with Marcia to try to arrange for a visit. She always kind of shied away, being too busy or whatnot. Now I feel bad, like it should have tipped me off...?

So I spent this evening going through old yearbooks, pausing to point out pictures of my friends and family to my six year old daughter. Mostly she laughed and said, "What a funny picture!" With some of them I had to agree. While I was leafing through the yearbook, a program for the big multi-year reunion fell out of it. As I opened it I remembered that both myself and my other high school buddy had tried very hard to get Marcia to go to the reunion, which was held just a couple of miles (at the most) from her home...but she refused.

I also read the names of the people that had passed on that were listed in the program, and realized that now not only was Marcia gone, but also her brother, her sister and a cousin. I knew them all as sophomores and freshman in my senior year.

The next time I travel to that small Eastern Sierra town and stop by the cemetary that holds my father, I will also pay my respects to my departed friends.

This is the first really close friend I have lost, and I'm finding it a very disjointing, jarring and heartbreaking experience. What I want to do most right now is jump in the car, stop by Bakersfield just long enough to collect D., my other high school best friend, and drive up to my old small town. What I could do, how I could help...? I don't know.

I just know I want my friend back. I feel cheated.

Marcia said it best:
"I wish I could do it again just for the fun of it all, and I would have done everything with you the same only I would have enjoyed it all the more. Like the old saying you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone and this is so very true about our friendship."

Hug your friends, tell them you appreciate them and savor the good times now.

Marcia, my friend, I love you.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bleah

I'd like to exchange this week for another, please.

No, it wasn't the weather, the midweek rain was just enough to make everything muddy, and I discovered that one of my windshield wipers keeps falling annoyingly out of the bottom clip.

It wasn't the kid, either...although she did do time in the principal's office...again...

Mostly it was my teeth.

No, that's not right, either...it wasn't all of my teeth, it was juuuust one.

The one that needed a root canal.

I find this doubly annoying and a personal affront since I am a Registered Dental Assistant, and know all about all that stuff on how to take care of your teeth. This tooth didn't even have any fillings in it, for cri-yi. It simply started to hurt, got dramatically worse before my appointment for next week, and when I went in on Tuesday to get it checked out, needed a root canal. For added fun, he couldn't get it numb, either and had to keep poking away at me with the syringe. Sometimes all you can do is hang on until it's done, which I know from my years in the assistant's chair. So now I've got the classic swollen face, can't speak or eat, etc. Some fun.

I also have another of my chickens in the house, living out her last days. She is one of a set of identical twin sisters, and I think suffered internal damage from suddenly coming back into lay after many years--she's too old for such nonsense. When we got these two buff bantam cochin hens in 1996 they were already adults so we have no idea of their true age, but they have been with us for 10 years. Since we couldn't tell them apart, we named them The Chicken Sisters (after a favorite book of my daughters'). They are cute little buff-colored fluffballs and did everything together, they were never more than 6 inches apart. They even brooded a clutch of eggs together and raised chicks. We have never seen them peck at each other or fight.

I think at her age she's not going to recover. She is in the house and seperated from her sister for the first time, which we did not like to do, but the other girl was freaking out because of being in the house. We will keep her warm, comfortable, safe and loved until her time comes.

Other, more serious and depressing things are going on this week as well, all of which just leave me...tired of life. Some times are like that, and it's a struggle to find anything good.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Lily Passes

Lily was my Valentine's Day present in 2006. To heck with flowers, say it with chickens! She was a stunning adult white Sultan hen who was suffering from a VERY bad respiratory infection when we got her, doubly dangerous for a crested breed. She had to stay in the house for several weeks on antibiotics until it had cleared, but was obviously the worse for it and was never strong. She had no concept of getting the heck out of the way and tended to look a little too much like a pair of sweatsocks when she plonked herself down in the middle of the floor. Lily was very sweet and loving towards humans, but jealous of other chickens. Lily had her own idea of where she ranked in the pecking order and it was near the TOP, thank you. She 'talked' and chewed her words just like a Siamese cat. And Lily talked CONSTANTLY.


Lily picked fights with most of the other chickens, the roos included. Nothing serious, just enough to get the point across not to EVER mess with her. Because of this Lily ended up spending most of her time alone, and was having a bit of trouble coming to the horrible realization that she must now sleep in the coop with those other chicken-things. Instead, she always wanted to be in the house and at dusk when it was time to close up the coop, we'd find her waiting politely but a tad impatiently on the back porch for one of those idiot humans to open the door and let her in. Lily never really realized she was a chicken, and just decided to refuse to believe that particular nasty rumor.

We will miss her, she was only with us for two months but we just loved how special and unique she was.

Goodbye, darlin' Lil.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter!

Thankfully, none of the 7 newly hatched chicks from this weekend are anywhere NEAR this color...


NO, she was NOT amused...

This Is Strangely Fitting...

OK, I couldn't resist...


Your Famous Last Words Will Be:

"I dunno, press the button and find out."

Sunday, April 9, 2006

How Big IS This Little Guy's Nest, Anyway?!

Well, after taking Saturday off (I imagine it's some kind of Sparrow Union rule), our little guy had polished off another few inches of window screen today. We're up to 6 inches gone on the right side and 5 on the left, with the hole in the middle right slowly spreading to meet them:


Could be that he's told all of his little sparrow friends and they have all been having a whack at my window screen for laughs.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Ooh, me too! Me too!

Go to Wikipedia and look up your birthday (excluding the year). List three neat facts, two births (OK, I did three) and one death in your journal, including the year.

October 2nd

Neat Facts:
1836 - Naturalist Charles Darwin returns to Falmouth, England aboard the HMS Beagle after a five-year journey collecting biological data he will later use to develop his theory of evolution. (Go, Chuck!)

1959 - The Twilight Zone pilot premieres.

2001 - First palindromic MM-DD-YYYY date since August 31, 1380.

Births:
1800 - Nat Turner, American leader of slave uprising (d. 1831)

1890 - Groucho Marx, American comedian and actor (d. 1977)

1945 - Don McLean, American songwriter

Death:
1846 - Benjamin Waterhouse, Cambridge physician and medical professor (smallpox vaccine pioneer) (b. 1754)

Today's Progress In Sparrow vs. Window Screen...

He's been a busy little guy!


At least he's evened out the bottom to a level 3 inches gone all the way across...is there such a thing as an anal-compulsive sparrow...? However, he's also decided that a long strip on the right side of the screen halfway up must go.

Can't WAIT to see what happens tomorrow...

Thursday, April 6, 2006

WELL--! Here's A Surprise...

Chalk this one up to one of those well-now-I've-seen-everything moments...

Our house has a raised foundation and was built in 1952. I also don't think it's had any improvements since that time, so it is really showing it's age in some spots. This morning, after my daughter went to school, when I walked into the kitchen I heard this tiny little scrabbling, scratching sound. It came from the area by the back door that leads from the kitchen to the back yard. I walked over quietly and stood there a moment, trying to ID the sound.

"Ah HA!" I thought, "Geraldine the tortoise (currently hibernating on the pantry floor) is finally waking up! This MUST mean it's really going to stop all this bloody raining nonsense and be SPRING!" I toss open the pantry doors, 'cause if Geraldine is awake and moving about, you'd best be right spry with getting things out of her way, otherwise she simply rams right through them and makes one unholy mess.

Geraldine is still, slumbering happily on. The noise continues.

Oh, I know! The chickens are on the back porch and are pecking at the back door, wanting goodies! I open the door to see who it is.

Not a chicken in sight, never mind on the back porch. Hmm...

I close the door and wait. After a few moments, the noise resumes. Scrabble, scritch. It actually begins to sound a little like chewi...

"Oh, shi--dear!" I now think to myself, "It must be TERMITES IN THE WALL." Then it occurs to me that this noise is too BIG for termites. Larger, more unhappy alternatives to termites chewing on things in the wall come to mind. *shudder*

I sigh and put my ear to the wall, moving my head a bit to find out exactly where the noise is coming from. It seems to be coming from the bottom of the window, which has a closed venetian blind covering it, that looks out onto the patio. As I stand there, I further realize that the sound seems to be coming from outside! Now I remember that the circuit breaker panal and electrical meter are right there, and if Big Chewing Something is having breakfast in there, it's gonna be expensive.

I reach out with both hands and gently part the vertical blinds to see if I can get a peek at whatever it is. To my surprise (and his) I startle a male House Sparrow who was perched on the edge of the window sill. Not unusual, as they often light on the side of the house to feed on little bugs. He flies a few feet away and when I look closely at him, he has some nesting material in his beak. Just before he darts off to the birdhouse we have hung from the garage, it registers in my mind what the nesting material is.

It's strands of nylon window screen material.

MY WINDOW SCREEN.

The little &#@* has been yanking my screen apart by the beakfull! Since I open that window every day, I know it was fine yesterday. So here is a picture of what I found a 8:30AM this morning:


He had taken off three inches on the right side and one inch on the left, all the way across the bottom. Since the screen is ruined anyway, and I don't think it's harmful to him (it's not metal and quite soft) I'm going to let him have at it and measure his progress each day--that's why the ruler is there. :)

The really funny thing is, we had a similar hole develop on our sliding glass door screen a few feet away, and I had been silently blaming my 6 year old daughter for it, figuring she punched a hole with a toy or something.

Just...plain...weird.