Dec 20

We had a visitor

I was having lunch when The Yankee sent me a text, from upstairs, to look out into the backyard. Her office overlooks the bird feeders in the backyard, and the maple tree that guards them. And, in that tree, a patient sentinel sat, this red shouldered hawk who watched them come and go.

Anyway, he stayed for a while, and I had the opportunity to observe him from our upstairs raptor blind. Enjoy!

Probably he was looking for one of the critters that sneak up to eat seeds on the ground. There are a few squirrels and at least one chipmunk and who knows how many moles. This hawk doesn’t want moles, but I’d like him to give them a shot.

I took 33 photos. And these are the best ones.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good shot of him flying off. He went in a hurry.

And he went without a snack.

But we did enjoy the visit.

I hope he comes back soon.

Hope you do, too. There could be a menagerie around here.

Nov 20

The week with bad titles

I’m sure this is some sort of king of the kitchen thing. Some sort of dominant cat of the kitchen island thing. Something I shouldn’t indulge — especially since he likes to jump to attack, who knows if he’s developing a penchant for leaping down to attack.

But he looks handsome doing it, so I guess that makes it OK.

Anyway, it’s Monday, so we check in on the cats and, as you can see, Poseidon is doing just fine. That’s a new posture for him. I hope it doesn’t take. That’s my breakfast and lunch seat, not his.

I will let him take naps in it at other times, however.

Phoebe is great, too. As you might know — or, if you have pussycats in your pad, you might have instituted something like — our failed rule about cats on the counter. Poseidon we’ll just shoe-shoe him off a counter. Or we’ll spray him with a nice little water bottle — which he actually loves, so you see, failed rule. Phoebe, however, we just pick her and hold her, which is a fate worse than nail clipping. But! We have the world’s greatest jailhouse jaguars and legal lions. They quickly found the loophole.

And we let this stuff slide. Any animal that can do the leg work on something like that deserves your approval.

Anyway, another Monday, another week. This is usually where I put something about the weekend’s bike ride(s) and so on. We did ride, a simple, basic, usually kind of ride, and it was cold. So I took no photos because retrieving my camera from within several layers of kit and two pairs of gloves seemed too risk at the time. But it was a nice ride.

And then I also worked on one of my little wood projects:

I’m toying with the idea of making a bowl. Everything, but the bottom, is coming along nicely. I’l; figure it out. In the meantime, it gives me a reason to stand in the garage next to a familiar bit of pareidolia.

It’s a perfectly natural phenomenon, seeing faces in things. It’s only weird if they answer you back.

Not to worry. Mr. Garagey is more the silent type.

Nov 20

Taking these days off seriously

Slept in. Went for a bike ride. It was gray and damp, just a bit of a chill. The Yankee had to do 35 minutes. I forgot to ask about the training idea behind 35 minutes. It takes about 35 minutes to get warmed up.

Anyway, I rode today in just some long cycling pants and a wind breaker and gloves. No gaiter, no gilet, just hoping body heat would get me by. After, you know, warming up.

I never know how to figure out cool temperatures on a bicycle on a chilly day. What is the right amount? And how can I carry the things I shed if I put on too much stuff?

And what’s too cold?

Let’s rephrase that. What’s too cold for the used, not-advanced, non-technical-at-all, cobbled together cold weather kit I have?

Anyway, we did her easy 35 minutes and I followed her back to our neighborhood and then did a bit more, at least as much as the remaining ambient daylight would allow. It was just 16 miles or so, and I kicked myself for not going out earlier. I learn a lot by kicking myself.

Strava tells me I set a PR on one little hill. You turn onto a path and go through two traffic barriers and a small parking lot and then up the road into a nice little suburban neighborhood. It’s a popular hill for cyclists because the bottom has a nice quiet bike path and the top opens up into going any number of directions. Just before I turned onto the path from one direction another rider started up it from the other. Before too long he was standing out of his saddle, dancing on the pedals as they say. I just sat still and stayed in the big ring and passed him, somehow.

I passed someone on a hill. I’m not even riding well, but I got over that hill nicely. Strava tells me I set a personal best on that segment. That’s fine motivation.

In the evening we talked to our friend in Canada, you don’t know her. Maybe you do. She’s a brilliant scholar and we’re all friends and I listened to her and The Yankee talk about future research and tried to occasionally contribute something to the conversation.

I also made some progress on new pocket squares this evening. It’s a two-step project, and after I finish the second step I’ll have 30 bright new colorful options to choose from. I’ll be cleaning up the bits of cloth and stray strings for months. Just in time for spring! A wonderful thought! Snow is in the forecast for next week.

Nov 20

A Monday post about Sunday

We went for a bike ride, because that’s what we do, and because it was an abnormally beautiful weekend day. Just the sort that is intent to try to trick you into thinking this is what the whole fall and most of the winter will be like. It won’t be, and that’s a shame. And I can’t get that out of my head, and that’s an equally big shame.

Did I mention it was a great day? Ridiculous. It was 80 degrees, far beyond what anyone here would expect, which is also a shame.

Anyway, we were going out to the lake, but changed our mind to take a slightly different route. Different roads, different traffic — only yelled at twice, by a dude that, feeling he didn’t get it right the first time, decided to let us get by so he could pass us and yell again — and different views.

It was described to me as a nice, easy ride.

I looked down at one point because my legs notified my brain that I was turning over ridiculous RPMs. We’re talking maximum watts, and I’m torquing the handlebars for all they were worth. And that’s how I found myself in a sprint, at 26 miles per hour, just to stay on the Yankee’s wheel.

We were also climbing a hill when that happened.

Down on the causeway:

And a bit of video somewhere between here and there …

Anyway, yesterday was a lovely day for a ride, and we enjoyed it. And we look forward to the next one. (And it better be 80 degrees again!)

I also got to play around with part of this wood carving project I started on Friday:

This is just a test piece. I’ll use a longer piece to create the scoop-bowl volume I want here, and I need to figure out some way to handle the bottom of the bowl. It’s quite rough in there, as you can see, and I’d like to clean that up without having to buy even more stuff. I think this is becoming a scoop for dry cat food, which was the suspicion I had from the beginning. And that needs to be 3/4s of a cup. But if I can get the volume right, smooth out the insides of the real piece and thin the sides and shape the bottom, I’ll have a nice piece.

Or just something else that never works quite the way I intended.

Oct 20

I made a thing, at the bottom of this post

Got the oil changed in my car today. I was many miles past due. The place here has the model where you park the car and sit in their waiting area and they drive it around back and do the work. I miss the old days, when you could drive your car into the bay and the tech guided you to get it just right over the pit.

I always liked seeing the enterprise of it. Hood up, exotic sounds made, shouted commands back-and-forth from topside and down where the real work is taking place. He just opened a valve and supervised gravity, of course, but it seemed mysterious if you don’t think about it.

I liked when they come along and open the car doors and push a shot of WD-40 into the door hinges. The smells of light industry! I enjoyed when they tell you how all the things look and the one guy would come around and show you the dipstick, “And the gentleman will enjoy a 10w30 this evening … ” presenting it like you were two steps above a table wine.

My favorite part was the participatory bit where they ran you through the headlights, taillights, brake lights, blinkers and horn. I gave a short curt toot on the horn. These people heard this all of the time and they didn’t need me to sit on the thing. Just enough sound so that the guy running the safety check can verify the horn is in working order. I took great pride in that.

The place here, though, you’re sitting in a small row of chairs. It seems like an even less pleasant idea these days. Fortunately I timed it well. There was one other person there and she left soon after I arrived. There are no magazines to look over. I suspect those went the way of the dodo when some manager realized everyone was looking at their phones anyway.

After about 15 minutes the technician came in with my air filter in his hand. Looks good, he said, but the cabin filter is so brittle that removing it to show you would destroy it.

Well. Let’s replace that. If there’s anything I need right now it’s properly filtered air.

He came in later and said the one he took out was the factory filter. Of course it is.

The lady at the desk then conducted the business part of the transaction. Fluids are good. Wipers are good. Everything is good, except two tires are aging.

Knew that.

One of them is basically bold.

Guess I’ll get that changed sooner than later.

We wound up talking about her child. Turns out she has a five-year-old. And kids are tough and he understands that he can’t do all of the things that kids should be able to do now. He’s back in school, and he gets masks. He even, she says, points out others who aren’t wearing a mask and wonders why.

You and me both, kid.

She says virtual work and masks are hurting him with a speech therapy program. You have to be able to see the teacher’s mouth for so much of that style of instruction, but if the pathologist is wearing a mask …

It’s just another one of those million things we don’t think about until we’re confront by it.

At television tonight, with all of the students in masks, of course, the sports gang produced their highlight show. Next week they will finally have some highlights! So far it’s been virtual interviews and some practice updates and now a story about how there will be no tailgating and a feature on the university’s brand new golf course. And, of course, this Saturday, there will be football.

It’s that unique and special time of year for fans, here in late October, when anything is possible because nothing bad has happened on the field yet.

On the talk show they previewed that game, IU hosting Penn State. The guy on the left, Drew, is the host. DJ is the one in the middle is a beat reporter from the newspaper and Haley is one of the station’s beat reporters.

As I said to her just before they sat down to shoot the show, the best part of this job is to watch the students develop their craft. It makes me smile, behind my mask, every time Drew starts this show. I’m also pleased to see how comfortable he’s become, considering how nervous he was when he began. DJ I had in a class early in his time on campus, and he’s showing himself to be a talented young writer and, he was good on TV tonight, too. And Haley is … Haley is just ready.

And all of three of them will graduate this year and we’ll be alternatively proud and sad and that’s just how this level of the game is played.

After TV there was a technical issue to take care of, and then home to clean up for dinner and the debate and then a little football. After all of that I went to the garage and worked on the card holder I mentioned yesterday.

I put some music on in my headphones and put my sound-killing headphones on top of those and my safety glasses around all of it and I broke out the belt sander for a quick pass at 60 grit. Then I took the glasses and the sound-killing headphones off and listened to music while I sanded the rest of the thing by hand up to 800 grit.

And this is my new ID card holder:

It’s not bad. It’s probably a quarter inch smaller than my other ones. My ID card and five business cards make a nice, snug little arrangement. You don’t want things flying out all over the place when you are trying to fish it out of your pocket.

Here, again, is one of the originals:

You’ll note that this new effort also has the fancy curvature at the top. I’m very artisanal.