Friday, July 31, 2009

Our Furry Dependents

Dante, while still quite skinny, has stretched out to the point that he is on track to be the length of a semi by the end of the summer. We had no illusions that he was a “pretty” cat when he came home with us, but his mangy coat has sleeked out with time, so he’s less homely than when we adopted him.

Now for his misbehaviors. He is teething, which means he will chew anything. He will wake me in the night (and get kicked out of the bedroom) for nibbling on my hair. Or Eric's nose. He will chew on mail or the covers of Eric’s books. He will crunch on wooden doorways or imperfections on our walls. He will gnaw on metal cabinet knobs, watering cans, wrought-iron furniture, and bases of rotary fans.

And he will crawl into small spaces – into baskets on shelves with little clearance, inside our recliners, underneath the nonexistent space below end tables, and in desk crannies.

While on my desk, he will cut across my laptop, or take a rest mid-keyboard, and his chance keystrokes have pulled up search boxes with the following terms: ‘apsodf’poi09888888888888asdffffffffffff.’ That file wasn’t found on my computer, much to his chagrin. I’m waiting for him to send an unintelligible email or delete my hard drive.

Our cats are still getting along as before. Dante acts as the stereotypical little brother, wanting to tag along and follow Augustine everywhere. When they come in from the screened-in porch, I still haven’t gotten over the fact that Dante will match his pace to hers as they trot down the stairs, only to pounce on her as they reach the bottom.

Augustine takes his play fighting in stride, but periodically we will hear a hiss from her when she’s had her fill or he’s being too aggressive. She won’t choose to sleep next to him, and she often takes his arrival as a sign that it’s time for her to leave – you can practically hear her sigh of disgust – but sometimes he’s caught snuggling up to her as she interrupts her nap to groom him.

And at least she hasn’t abandoned all of our rituals. For the first few weeks, she wouldn’t even cuddle with me if he was in the same room, but that has since resolved.

Dante is also acting as the bully, which doesn’t bode well since he’s already nearly her size. He will shove her away when treats enter the scene, and he’ll do his best to sabotage Augustine’s window lounging. But Augustine is deferential to him, whether out of her maternal nature or general exasperation.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Spinning Wheel Update

I thought I’d update you to the status of my spinning wheel, as I realize you’ve all been holding your breath for word on its fate.

I chose to begin my search via Craigslist, posting a help wanted ad for a handyman/carpenter. A couple days went by with no word, then someone quoted me a price of $200 minimum to fix. His plan was to simply buy a part online and tweak it to my homemade wheel, which I could do myself. His grammar and non-existent punctuation didn’t go over well with this former English teacher, so when I asked about his experience and qualifications, he replied that his grandfather used to repair 18th century furniture. I wanted to ask if his grandfather was still around to fix my wheel, but instead kindly thanked him for the quote and got rid of him by stating that wasn’t in my budget at this time.

Then someone who owned his own shop and was in possession of a couple spinning wheels contacted me. When I gave him specifics, he thought it might cost $50 to fix. He was hired!

Last month I dropped off my spinning wheel with him, and this week he sent me some progress photos that had me grinning happily as I envisioned spinning on my new wheel. I feel so fortunate to have found someone who knows what he is doing -- he’s asking me about the ratios I want! -- and takes pride in his work.

Also, as an added bonus, the spindle that you see there is one of twenty or thirty that came with the wheel, which means I can fill up as many as I need to before plying, and it was one less thing my handyman had to make.

I'm going to run to a local shop to pick up an Ashford maintenance kit and get the band and hooks to him, and I think we'll be in business before long.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Anniversary at the Fair, Part Two

While taking in the local county fair (much more akin to what was available at our state fair than my small-town-Iowa experience), I was drawn to examining the 4-H projects.

Several categories were familiar to me, like sewing, photography, and baking (although the latter was enhanced with a "Microwave Foods" portion).

Woodworking was another familiar category. Look at this roll-top desk.

And this beautiful piece was another stellar example, although compared to my fair growing up, the woodworking entries were particularly sparse and small in scope. Word has it that the overall projects had decreased in number from past years, due to the early dates of the fair as well as the hurting economy.

But I was struck with the new (or new to me) categories. Take, for instance, "Scarecrow."

Or "Architectural Model." I chose my favorite instead of the random LEGO scenes that didn't make sense to me, although this one only warranted a red ribbon.

Here's an example of "Farm Toy Scenes."

And three "Gift Wrapping" examples.

Finally, our favorite category was "Recycling," where students repurposed broken or incomplete items. Here is a bureau transformed into a snake aquarium.

Eric enjoyed this purse made from records and lined with fabric inside.

I marveled at this paneled screen transformed into a puppet stage.

Are these categories new to you as well? Or is this where I learn my small 4-H chapter was keeping me in the dark when it came to nontraditional categories?

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Anniversary at the Fair, Part One (or "I Like Ducks!")

Today marks our sixth wedding anniversary, and it coincided with the local county fair, so we partook in the festivities.

Please enjoy my participation in one of the duck races. I volunteered at Eric's urging, but he didn't have to do much to convince me:

Since my duck won the race, I reprised my role in the finals round, but all I won in that race was the honor of being doused by the little girl next to me who was urging her duck on.

In my next post, I'll share some of my favorite 4-H project categories.