Thursday, March 29, 2007

The view we don't have

This is the view we would have of Mount Baker (on clear days) if everyone to the east of us for a mile or so cut down all their trees. For the record, allow me to state that I am NOT advocating having all those trees cut down! I would be very saddened to see that, the 'improved' view would not be worth the destruction of habitat, not to mention the loss of privacy.

But it sure is a pretty mountain...
Remember, Vote NO! Mt. Baker Eruption. For the kids' sake.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Locking Mailbox

We finally got around to installing our new locking mailbox this weekend, and yesterday I got the stickers to put the numbers on it. It sure is nice to know that our mail is all safely locked up so no identity theives can get at it - an ounce of prevention, etc.
Of course, we don't know if any of our mail ever did get (or ever would have gotten) taken, but the neighbors have told us that they used to lose their magazines and newspapers a lot, so now most of them pick up their mail at the post office. I'm MUCH too lazy to stop by the Post Office on my way home every day, so we ordered this mailbox from Oregon Trail Box. We looked at several different ones but Cary wasn't satisfied that they would keep our mail safe enough. Plus, this one is made of extra heavy metal, so it is supposed to be baseball-bat proof, which will probably come in handy. Better to pay a little more for that up front than to have to replace the whole thing some day.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Biggest Pecker

We woke up this morning to an awful sound. It was like a jackhammer starting up inside a tuba. It quickly became apparent that it was coming from our chimney pipe. I went outside to look, and found this fellow perched on top of the chimney cap, happily banging his beak on it and looking pretty proud of himself:
He's a male Northern Flicker, and it's mating season. Aparently a big part of proving that you are a very manly and attractive male Northern Flicker is making the loudest pecking noise you possibly can (although I should point out that, heard from outside the house, the noise was not nearly as impressive as it was from inside). As my dad says, it's how they "prove they are the biggest pecker around." It seems that when given a choice, today's modern flickers prefer chimney caps and metal roofs to the old-fashined sound of a snag or hollow tree. I guess I don't mind if he uses our chimeny (he's not likely to damage anything), but I'd really prefer if he could wait until after we've woken up in the morning before getting started on his sexy racket!

After the rain...

No, this is not a picture of a forest fire. It's yesterday's sunset. After pouring down rain all day, the clouds broke to the west of us and we were treated to an absolutely epic sunset. The clouds were moving really fast across the sky, it honestly looked like time-lapse video photography. We had several good friends over for a bbq, so we all stood around and watched the sky for the 15-20 minutes that the sunset lasted. It was really a nice moment. I later tried to convince everone that all our sunsets are as cool as that one was, but no-one fell for it.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Rain Gage

I picked up a cheap rain gage on a whim at the hardware store the other day, and it's really incredible to see how much rain we've gotten since then! A little over 2 1/2" total has fallen in the last 3 days, and it is still coming down steadily. You may be thinking that that's an awful lot of rain, but it's actually probably pretty average for spring around here.

Its really fun to have a tool to measure the rainfall, instead of relying on visual clues like the size of the moat we have to cross to get from the driveway to the front porch. :)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cary's New Job

This isn't really house related, but I thought I'd post a little about it anyhow...

Cary started his new job as a groundskeeper at the Bayview Cemetary on Monday, and so far it's really going great (despite the cold & rainy weather). The first couple of days were mostly orientation, equipment maintenance, and the like, but yesterday they got out and started cleaning up the piles of windfallen branches that came down during the winter. The cemetary has a big industrial chipper, and the crew spent almost the whole day chipping branches - they filled their dump truck up twice!

Once they get past the branches, it sounds like the job will entail a LOT of mowing, trimming, edging, and otherwise caring for the grass in the cemetary, along with gravedigging and setting up headstones. Cary actually dug his first grave yesterday, just a little one for a cremation burial. For a die-hard fan of the show Six Feet Under (which he is, even if he tries to deny it) it's a pretty sweet situation. Plus, he's working outside, right next to his favorite park (whatcom falls)... and since it's a city job, it's stable, pays well and has a nice benefit package. I'm so happy for him!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Kitty Time = Nap Time

Our three cats are settling in to the house very nicely. Mostly, this means that they lounge around all day, getting up every now and then to check the food dish, eat if it's full and complain if it is empty. They love the radiant heat, it's like kryptonite to cats. This is the effect it typically has on them: From left to right, that's Iggy, Sprout and Sanford.

Every now and then they escape the clutches of the radiant heat and go outside to explore, hunt, and/or answer nature's call. Sanford is the most adventurous; the other two rarely leave the porch. He's a notorious killer of small critters, and when we used to live at the apple farm he would bring me "gifts" nearly every day - nice succulent baby moles, tender frogs, and plump field mice, arranged neatly on the little rug at the foot of my bed. So far, no "presents" have made their way into the new house, but it's probably just a matter of time.I'd consider "belling" him if he wasn't also extremely good at taking off collars - 10 minutes or less! So far, he's just really enjoying spending time sitting on the cedar fence and watching the birds come and go. Hopefully if/when he starts hunting again he'll stick to rodents and leave the robins alone...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

1/2 price pottery sale!

We now have FIVE beautiful huge ceramic pots! One round one in varigated green with a bamboo-leaf motif, two conical blue & black ones, and two traditional-flower-pot shaped ones glazed green on the top and left unglazed on the bottom. We also have a couple of big bags of potting soil... now we just need some plants! or some seeds. Haven't decided what we're going to grow yet, but the idea is to have some pretty flowers all blooming at wedding time. :) With that in mind, we might have to go back for even MORE pots this weekend...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sunburst Cha-Chas

The guys from three-sixty design came out this morning with to put the finishing touch on the house: the sunbursts (referred to by most of the guys as Cha-Chas) for the gable ends. In a heavy St. Patrick's Day downpour, I should add. One of the guys found a FIVE-leaf clover behind our house, which he was pretty stoked on. I hope that makes up for having to work on saturday in the rain!
The sunburts were cut & assembled quite a while ago, then taken to be primered and painted... and I had pretty much forgotten that they were still in the works! Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. The house looked good before, but it really looks great now, as you can see: They aren't overly ornate or frilly like on a victorian (which wouldn't suit me OR the house at all), but they sure give the house a nice finished look, don't they? What a nice surprise! Now I guess it's back to our regularly-scheduled weekend house cleaning... :0

p.s. Look at all that firewood! Cary's been busy this week...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sharp & Pointy

Things you don't want to have a lot of in your driveway:
Cary and I were out walking around this evening, looking at signs of spring and enjoying the last light of an absolutely beautiful day, when he noticed one of these sharp & pointy metal triangles in our driveway. They look like they were snipped from a downspout or some flashing. We started looking around and collected a good-sized handfull of them. Yikes. They must have just recently come to the surface, maybe because of the recent heavy rains, because neither of us has punctured a tire. We'll have to keep an eye out for any more sharp surprises that might show up.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Another sign of spring

Pussy Willows!

Just to the south of us there are daffodils, crocus, hawthorns and ornamental plums coming into bloom. We're maybe a week or so behind Bellingham. But for now, at least we have the pussy willows to show us that spring is coming. Well, we also have the puddles.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Playing in the mud

Today Cary did a bit of mucking around. The rain here has been abundant and somtimes a puddle forms right around the septic tank. Cary expanded my little channel to lead the water toward the swamp and not the house.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Shiny New Propane Tank

We finally have a 500 gallon propane tank! We had an old 250 gallon tank before, and while it was plenty big when it was just supplying the shop heater, it was too small to keep the house supplied with enough pressure, especially when the weather got really cold.

The new tank is much prettier than the old one too, all shiny white and new. Besides good looks, the split to the two supply lines was done in a much more permanent way, on the old tank the second supply line was just stuck on and the lid couldn't be closed. It was supposed to be a temporary thing, but for whatever reason we couldn't seem to get the old propane company to come back and give us a bigger tank with a permanent two-line hookup. We switched our propane company to Whatcom Farmers Coop, and they have given us great service so far.
Here's to not having to fill this monster very often!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Frog Explosion

Yesterday was an extremely nice day, with temps in the mid 60s, a light breeze, skies sunny & clear. The air was just balmy, and it stayed that way late into the night. It aparently felt like spring not only to humans, but to the entire frog population of our swamp. Last night we were treated to quite the chorus! I'm not certain exactly what kind of frogs we have, but at least some of them must be pacific tree frogs, who you can hear singing at this link.

Spring is coming! :)

9:45 Update: I looked up a bit more info about the Pacific Treefrog while waiting for the east coasters I work with to finish their lunches, and found some interesting facts I thought I would add here.

For one thing, it's a famous movie star. This is becuase it is the most commonly heard frog in California, and its call is known throughout the world because of its extensive use as a nighttime background sound in Hollywood movies (even those set in areas well outside the range of this frog, which is pretty much restricted to the west coast of N. America).

It comes in a wide variety of colors: green, tan, brown, gray, reddish, cream. Most often it is green or brown. It can have stripes, spots, and dark or light patches, and sometimes yellow on the legs and belly. So what looks like many different kinds of frogs in one pond may actually all be pacific treefrogs.

Except Pacific Treefrogs are not really tree frogs at all, they're actually a Chorus Frog. But...
"We (actually the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, the Herpetologists' League, and the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists) have decided it best to call our local loud mouths, the Pacific Treefrog, Pseudacris regilla. So, we're going to acknowledge that the species is not a treefrog, it's a chorus frog. But, we're going to concede that the vernacular doesn't have to be an accurate reflection of phylogeny and go with the traditional, well-recognized name, Pacific Treefrog."

-Kelly McAllister, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
They don't live in trees, although they may climb up on them to sing, pose for pictures, or to hunt for food. They are chiefly ground-dwellers, living among shrubs and grass near water. They have large toe pads allow them to climb easily, and cling to twigs or grass - they can even climb up vertical glass!

Such cool little frogs, I'm glad I took the time to check them out. :)

Monday, March 05, 2007

At long, long last...

We have DSL! Let me say that again, for emphasis: We. Have. DSL. And it only took 3 months...

This is the first-ever post entered from the comfort of my home office. And although I am sitting at the desk to type this, if I wanted, I could take the laptop and go out on the porch, or sit in front of the fire, or upstairs to the bedroom and type it from there, 'cuz we gots the wireless conectivity, oh yeah. It's all hooked up, and it's all working*! Woooooo! Finally.

This here 21st century gadgetry is pretty cool. We're frickin' lucky, people. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go mix myself a celebretory gin & tonic...

*actually, I don't know if the crossed wires thing ever got resolved, so maybe its not all working. But MORE of it is working!