Friday, October 23, 2015

The Old Gray Dogs, They Ain't What They Used To Be

Early this morning, I heard the sounds of dog battle from the front of the house. Otty was the only dog outside, but when I went out to investigate, I didn't see her or anything else. Last week she got all torn up in the face after an altercation with some varmint right after I let her out in the morning, so I wanted to find her to make sure she wasn't injured. A. found her shortly thereafter and said she didn't have any wounds or anything, so we figured she had chased something off and then we forgot about it.

Later when I called Cubby in for lunch, he came in and announced, "There's something scary under the front porch. It growled and rustled around when I was under there."

Immediately, I thought of Otty's skirmish early in the morning and her ripped up face last week, and I knew what was under the front porch.

So while the kids ate their lunch, I took the spotlight outside and stood by the north side opening to shine it under the front porch. Sure enough, there were the glowing eyes of a raccoon reflecting the light back at me from the south corner under the porch.


I called A. at work to let him know his gun would be called into service when he got home from work (he just loves to get those kinds of calls at work), and after the kids were done with their lunch, I told them they could see the coon. So we went back out with the spotlight. Unfortunately, Mia found us and immediately plunged under the porch.


I knew this wasn't going to end well. Not only is Mia getting up there in years (almost 10, which is pretty old for a collie), but she's been lame in one shoulder for a little while now. She's not exactly in prime fighting condition, and raccoons are fierce and aggressive fighters.

There was really nothing I could do except call Otty to help her. Otty came over and went under when I pushed her in that direction, but she came scurrying out again almost immediately, with Mia right behind her. I guess Otty had had enough run-ins with that raccoon and wanted nothing more to do with it.

The coon was still under the porch, and now Mia had a ripped-up toe. Great.

Though I was pretty sure that coon was not going anywhere while there was daylight, I still didn't feel very comfortable having the kids playing outside while it was under there. It was too nice a day to stay inside, though, so we went to the Punishing Playground, which pleased the children greatly. Jack was only partially enthusiastic, mostly because I thought his coat was in the car and it wasn't, so he wasn't as warm as he might have been. I did commandeer Charlie's hat for him--over Charlie's voluble protests--but he was still a little chilly.


There were no further incidents with the raccoon until the besuited assassin arrived home at 5:30 p.m. He changed into his killin' clothes, loaded up the .22, spotlighted the coon, aimed, and fired. Four times. That's how many shots it took to kill it. Apparently, raccoons have to be shot right in the brain to kill them, so the target area is only a couple of inches. Kind of a difficult shot while crouching and aiming into a dark spot.

It expired in the end, though, and after dinner A. skinned it in preparation for tanning.

Good riddance.

Breeding Contempt

Me and Charlie on the porch:

Me: I love you, Charlie.

Charlie: No, you don't.

Me: Of course I do.

Charlie: Well, I don't like you.

Me in the kitchen in the morning making chicken salad for Cubby's lunch, Cubby appears scowling:

Cubby: Mommy, I like it when Daddy is the only one downstairs in the morning. I don't like it when you're here.

All of us in the living room:

Charlie: Daddy is the best.

Cubby: Daddy is fun.

Charlie: I'm going to throw you in the garbage, Mommy.

This morning in the kitchen:

Cubby: I have to eat this nasty egg? You are a TERRIBLE COOK.

Motherhood: The most unappreciated job on the planet.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Soggy Triumph

Someone tried to steal our water pump from the lakeshore last week. We ran out of water on Thursday and I trekked down with the gas can to start the pump only to find that all the pieces of the outtake had been disassembled and, more distressingly, the plug on the bottom to drain the pump was missing.

Can't run a pump if it's draining water the whole time. Shit.

So I called for a water delivery. Defeat.

And then, this morning, A. announced we were low on water already, so no laundry or showering until he could get a new plug for the pump.

Shit again.

He thought he was just going to have to guess at the size, but then he remembered that the plug on the top of the pump that can be taken off to put in water for priming* is the exact same as the one on the bottom drain plug. So if I took off the top one and brought it to the hardware store, maybe the man there could find a piece of plumbing hardware to substitute for the missing plug.

And here's where we sing the praises of Small Town Living.

I stopped at the lakeshore on the way to drop off Cubby and Charlie at school and took off the piece I needed. After dropping off Cubby and Charlie at their respective schools, I brought the piece to the tiny hardware store in the tiny village and handed it over to Ted, the hardware man.

Yes, that is is real, actual name.

He found a substitute for me and rang it up. It was two dollars. I had exactly $1.45 in my wallet. He said that was enough and sent me on my way.

Blessings on Ted the hardware man.

I drove right down to the beach and left Jack in his carseat while I trekked to the pump. Thanks to an enormous cottonwood branch that has fallen between the road and the lakeshore, this requires bushwhacking through the brush--thereby getting covered in weed seeds--and then literally climbing over the fallen limb.

That accomplished, I plugged the bottom part, deciding that I should use the old plastic piece from the top, because it screws in tighter than the metal replacement and wouldn't there be more pressure on the bottom hole?

Spoiler alert: I was wrong.

So plastic piece on the bottom, water poured in the top for priming, new metal piece on the top, engine on, choke adjusted, pull the cord, and HOORAY! It's running. Except the hole in the top with the new metal piece was bubbling alarmingly, obviously not very tightly plugged.

But there was water coming out of the pump (as evidenced by the dripping where the outtake is connected), so I crawled over the tree, through the brush, back to the car (and an unhappy Jack still in his carseat) drove up to the house and checked the pipe to the cistern.

No water.


Back in the car, back to the lakeshore, back over the tree, through the brush. Turn off the pump, take off the top metal piece and the bottom plastic piece to switch them. Get the top piece on and realize there is actually quite a lot of water still draining out of that hole from the pipe. But I really couldn't wait on it to drain all the way (Jack in the carseat, you know), so I shoved the metal piece on and screwed it in, thereby spraying myself continuously with fountains of water.

Like one of those fun splash pads! Except not fun!

After thoroughly soaking myself but eventually managing to get the plug screwed in, I turned the engine back on, switched on the choke, and pulled the cord. It didn't start. I tried again. Nothing. Again again again . . . and then I realized, oh right. The engine was just running a minute ago. I don't need the choke. So I turned it off and the engine started on the first pull.

Okay! Over the tree and through the woods to the minivan (and a really pissed-off Jack) we go!

I had no great hope this minor adjustment would have done any good, and I was ready to turn right around and go back to the beach to turn off the pump in defeat. But what's this I hear? Is that . . . water rushing into the cistern?

Yes! Glory, glory, alleluia!

Except instead of saying something appropriately pious, I raised my arms in victory and said, "YES. IT'S A FUCKING MIRACLE."

I can be profane in times of great emotion.

That was twenty minutes ago. The water is still flowing into the cistern. I declare victory. Let's just hope the delinquents who tried to steal the pump in the first place don't come back.

* Priming means getting some water into the pump and pipes so there's enough to get the pressure going for pumping. At least, I think that's why you have to prime it. Something about replacing the air in the pipes with the liquid to be pumped. I don't know. I'm obviously no expert.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fun Fall Family Photos

No, I will not spell it "fotos," ever.


I took some pictures yesterday. Let's view them, shall we?

Turning the leaf pile into a leaf carpet, as per tradition.

Charlie still rocks the shades with serious attitude, albeit with less bling.

Nothing like a leaf-bed nap. (I find this photo a little creepy. Also, Charlie looks about six feet tall in this, which is also disturbing in a "look what the future holds" kind of way.)

HA! A photo of the elusive celebrity in which he not technically scowling! Not technically smiling, either, but it's the best I got.

Even a Mommy and Me selfie won't make him smile. He's a tough one, that Charlie.

This one, however, has no issues with smiling for the camera.

Or with smiling in general. Love that smiley Jack.

Cubby was at school, which is why he doesn't appear in these photos. Luckily, he doesn't know what he missed.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Stacking for the Soul

The MiL took Cubby and Charlie with her to church this morning just as Jack was going down for a nap. A. and I sat by the woodstove for awhile enjoying the quiet, and then A. went out to split some wood.  After a few minutes, I went out too, because I wanted to help him stack it.

I was not just being altruistic. I did it as much for me as for him. And here's why: The majority of my time is spent doing tasks that are physically taxing (hauling around a giant infant, carrying laundry up and down stairs, scrubbing grout) and deeply unsatisfying in their repetitiveness. The dishes must be done, every day, usually twice (though to be fair, the MiL does a lot of dishes, too). The laundry must be done, every other day, at least two loads. The kitchen floor must be swept, the rugs must be vacuumed, the household must be fed, and on and on and on go the tasks that feel like nothing so much as drudgery.

All of this wears me out without making me feel as if I'm doing anything of any lasting value.

But stacking wood? Yes, it is a little physically taxing, but actually doesn't cripple me as much as scrubbing the grout in the bathroom. Stacking wood means I'm outside, moving without encumbrance, and doing something that has a quantitative result. I can see the woodpile getting bigger. And I know that it will stay pretty big for a pretty long time. I don't have to stack wood again tomorrow, or the next day. The amount of wood that I can stack in half an hour will feed the fire for at least a couple of weeks.

And so I stacked. And it was good.