Going soft…

I posted on Facebook last week about a couple of deer hanging around the front yard. Someone, several someone’s actually, provided the obvious recommendation for how to resolve that issue expeditiously.

Don’t get me wrong, I love deer bologna, jerky, and steak, but the truth is I’m not sure I’ve got the motivation any more to take the time and effort involved. Part of me gets more pleasure from watching them foraging in the yard than I’d ever get from their meat.

I’m not anti-hunting by any stretch. I like knowing I can field dress a deer and gut a fish of it comes to it. I like knowing I have the ability to put meat on the table. Maybe I’m getting soft-headed in my old age, but the idea of putting one in the crosshairs and pulling the trigger when I don’t have to doesn’t have the same appeal it may have done a couple of decades ago. Plus, sitting up a tree freezing my ass off has absolutely never held any charm at all for me.

That said, I’m glad there are still people out there doing it, because there are a couple of good sized bucks that like to crowd the road on my drive in to work. I’d much appreciate it if someone could put them down before one of them ends up in my grill instead of on it.

Clawed back from nature…

This won’t mean much to you, but since I’ve been working on it almost since I bought the house it’s one of those things that means a hell of a lot to me. You see, I’ve been trying to claw back about 500 square feet of back yard the pervious owner let go to the woods. Although 400 square feet is hardly worth a mention in man’s great efforts at deforestation, I’m taking it as a great achievement and point of personal pride.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time clearing brush and then deciding which trees and saplings to take to make that corner feel like part of the yard without clear cutting it. Although the heavy lifting was finished early this spring there were a few stray stumps that deviled my ability to bring in the heavy lawn care equipment.

Yesterday morning’s temperate conditions proved beautiful weather to hammer down the stumps with a maul and an ax – and marked the first time I could get the riding mower into that section to keep things cut down to a more yard-like style. It’s still filled with weeds and some of the native mountain laurel looks like it could develop into promising pieces. Considering where it started, I’m well pleased with where we stand now. After beating nature into submission with both blunt and sharpened steel, yesterday was the first time a cut and trim started to fall inside the realm of regular weekly lawn care instead of being a “special project.” Give it another two years of carefully tended growth and it should be a fine little plot of land.

Because virtually none of what takes place outside of my fence line ever feels like it’s ever completed work, I feel good about this small win.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. False enthusiasm. When someone departs the workplace, it’s traditional to say a few kind words on the occasion. That’s easier in some cases than others. The sticking point is, I have a hard time saying things I don’t mean, so if you were a royal pain in the ass in the time we worked together, don’t expect that I’m going to have glowing commendations just because it’s time for you to move on. That level of false enthusiasm isn’t my style. Sometimes the only positive thing you can say about someone is “he’s gone.”

2. Pollen. I know trees have to fornicate. It’s part of the circle of life or whatever. I just wish science could come up with a way for them to do it without the whole ugly mess getting in my eyes, clogging my nose, and wrecking my throat two or three months out of each year.

3. Time. My relationship with time could generously be described as “well ordered.” Others might call it slightly bent towards fanaticism. Still, with clocks and lists, I aggressively manage my waking hours in an effort to cram as much into them as possible. That’s why it caught me off guard when someone asked me if I had scheduled any time off for the holiday. I was perplexed, right up to the point where they helpfully pointed out that Sunday is Easter. It had totally slipped my mind… but as a holiday that doesn’t isn’t of the extra-day-off variety, I think I can be forgiven. The more concerning bit is that it’s Easter already and the year has given no indications of slowing down at all.

Home sweet home…

Jumped two deer on my walk down to dump my bucket of trimmings. Before 8:30 my totals were up to two deer, half a dozen squirrels, a woodpecker, several humming birds, and sundry others. Add in yesterday’s box turtle and I am reminded entirely why ended up here instead of back in a cookie cutter shoulder to shoulder subdivision.

Duck… duck…

One of the perks of working where I work is that the whole area is something of a wildlife refuge. Eagles, turtles, deer, all manner of animals are at home inside the fence. Of them all, perhaps the most obnoxious is the Canada geese that never seem to know what side of the road they want to be on. That’s bad, especially if their wanderings happen to intersect with a road you’re trying to use. It’s like the little hoodlums can sense when you’re in a hurry and take great pains to subvert your efforts.

When they’re on the wing Canada geese are majestic enough; flying in their “V” formation, honking like there’s no tomorrow. On the ground, there’s nothing majestic about them at all. They’re winged shitting machines with no regard for anything or anyone.

I bring that up because this morning the entire walkway from the parking lot to the front of the building was peppered with goose feces. Hundreds of piles of reeking, slimy, stepped in goose turds. That’s what greeted me on the way into the office this morning. If I’d have been caffeinated enough in that moment to realize the universe was sending me one giant, stinking warning sign about what the day was going to be like, I could have avoided great angst and gnashing of teeth today. I’m going to be taking that as a lesson learned.

Mooning…

Time was I’d drag myself out of bed at all sorts of wild hours just for the possibility of seeing something cool in the night sky. Tonight’s blood moon would definitely qualify as one of those things. Until I started checking out the times of best viewing and doing the math on how much cloud cover there was probably going to be here on the east coast at 3:07 AM EDT. Getting up in the middle of the night to watch something live streaming on my iPad just doesn’t have the same effect. Some things are meant to be done live, preferably with a steaming cup of coffee and a touch of Irish to help pass the time. Since tonight’s show looks like it will be clouded out, I’m going to have to take a pass and satisfy my curiosity with seeing the stream after the fact. It’s a little disappointing that I’ll be missing nature’s big show, but since there will be three more chances in the next year and a half, I’ll roll the dice on seeing the next eclipse, or the one after that, or the one after that. Surely the weather can’t conspire to block out all four of the harbingers of the end of days, right?

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Nature. I’ve never made any bones about not being a hippy tree hugger. I like the idea of the outdoors… as long as it’s neat, and orderly. Wandering around in the woods looking for a place to poop isn’t high on my list of things to do without a damned good reason. I like to think of it as the difference between enjoying an English garden and enjoying the rain forest. Both have their role to play in the great scheme of things, but I really only need to be involved with one of them. Being a practical man, I know that I need nature to cooperate with me from time to time, though. Basically, what I need it to do is stop throwing thunderstorms around every afternoon so I can get some stuff done outside. Stupid nature. Why can’t we control that foolishness yet?

2. Lunch. I use to enjoy a wide range of lunch options – assuming you consider a score of fast food joints and gas station sandwich shops different enough to count as “a range.” Part of my furlough survival plan was to reduce the cost of lunch by bring it from home. It doesn’t sound like much at first blush, but $200 odd bucks a month adds up respectably over a few months. Now that I’m bringing chow from home, I’m thoroughly bored with everything. I’m philosophically opposed to being one of those people that brings in home cooked leftovers to reheat for lunch (throwing good food in the microwave is pretty much on step above reheating it on the engine manifold – sure it’s warm, but it probably tastes like ass), the options do tend to dwindle. There are only so many ways to be creative with salads and sandwiches when you don’t run your own deli counter or just happen to keep a lot of exotic ingredients on hand. When this furlough is over, I may never touch finely sliced roast turkey breast again. Ever.

3. Shipping. I’ve never exactly been known for my patience and I’ve been spoiled by features like Amazon Prime that default all of my purchases to 2nd day delivery. For a few dollars more, I can arrange for an item to be at the house in less than 24 hours. That’s the kind of service that makes me happy. Then there are the surprising number of things I order online that don’t have an Amazon Prime-like option for rapid shipping. They want to take my money, wait two or three days, and then get around to shipping my item by standard mail so it will take an extra three or four days to arrive safely on my doorstep. Maybe it’s just me but a seven day interval between flash and bang feels a bit like an eternity. They say patience is a virtue. Apparently “they” are idiots.

The rites of spring…

It’s the time of year again. The neighborhood is full of whirring lawnmowers (except the house behind mine of course), the plants are blooming, and everyone seems more or less ready to get on with the warm weather. Being completely anal retentive, I’ve been planning for this moment for the last two months. The lawn equipment has had its oil changed, blades sharpened, and a supply of premium fuel laid on. Spring isn’t so much about enjoying nature as bringing it to heel after it’s months long free for all during the cold season.

Since it’s been nice enough to live with the windows open in the evening, I haven’t started fiddling with bringing the air conditioners back to life… that was until I started to “un-winterize” the a/c unit the cools the entire downstairs. When I wrapped things up for the winter, I was pretty confident that I had killed off the mold that had been growing inside the unit. Sadly, I was wrong. This wasn’t a new fight, of course. I had waged holy war on this mold almost since the day I moved in, kicked on the air, and wondered “what’s that God-awful smell?” But I thought I had finally struck on the right combination of vinegar, bleach, and random HVAC cleaning supplies from Home Depot to set things right. As I mentioned before, yeah, I was most definitely wrong.

To help set the stage, you need to know that this is the single biggest window-mounted air conditioner that I have every personally seen. It’s so large that it’s actually permanently bolted and caulked into the window. Sure, technically it’s a window unit, but it’s basically like having a central air condenser bolted directly to the window. Seriously. It’s big. If I had to bet, I’d guess it’s 300 pounds easy. And that’s really where the problem starts.

You see, every website on earth tells you that to properly clean mold out of a window air conditioner, the first thing to do is take the unit out of the window and remove the metal housing so you can access the interior spaces where the nastiness is building up. Since this beast is bolted to the house, something tells me these particular directions are not going to apply. Even if I could do any of that without demolishing the window itself, there’s not a chance that I could pull it off as a one man job, which brings us to my point… It’s time for yet another awkward conversation with the landlord about appliances and the need for regular preventative maintenance.

I foresee our talk going something like this:

Me: The air conditioner in the living room is full of mold.

Landlord: Did you clean it?

Me: *rolls eyes* Of course. The mold is inside the housing. It needs to be disassembled and cleaned properly.

Landlord: You can’t do that?

Me: No.

Landlord: That’s going to be expensive.

Me: Probably, but less expensive than me buying a new air conditioner for the living room and deducting it from next month’s rent.

Landlord: %$#*

Me: *smirk*

That conversation should be taking place any time now. It happens less and less often these days, but it’s one of those friendly reminders that living in someone else’s house still sucks.

Telling tales about the end of the world…

I was really warmed up to take the worst that Mother Nature could dish out… and as usual, Mother Nature turns out to mostly be a pansy. Her worst, at the moment, would appear to be denying me access to cable television and high speed Internet. Both of these are annoyances to be sure, but not quite the mayhem and chaos we had been promised earlier in the week.

I know there are flooded basements, trees downed, and homes lost out there, but for most of us in the all-Irene-all-the-time news cycle, all this experience has really served to do is reinforce the already strong notion that weather is almost always over-hyped and under performing. That’s a pity, because the time in the future when calls of imminent destruction go out and it’s not just a drill, most of us are going to shrug, go on about our business, and think we’ve seen it all before.

There’s got to be a better way to handle these things than the media going crazy and making every story a tale of the end of the world…

Just when I thought I was out…

So, it’s been no secret that I’ve been trying to get set up in my new job for the better part of the last three months. Management, circumstances, and just pure dumb luck have all conspired against me at various points and now, in a personal affront, nature (that bitch) has decided to throw her hat in the ring… Every tried to leave a job in emergency management during a natural disaster? Yeah… good luck with that.

Anyone out there need an exceptionally well-qualified logistician or need a campaign plan written for taking out those damned pesky neighbors? I’m totally on the market.