Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dodgy deal

The Sergeant likes cars and is very happy to have a decent garage in which to work. If the weather is bad, I have dibs on the indoor parking at night, but he can use the space for projects the rest of the time.

Helping to bleed the brakes is a rite of passage for anyone in a relationship with a car geek, he says.
"Push it down slowly. Hold it. Let it out. Push it. Hold. Release ..."

That's bonding, American-style.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cold war

We really had hoped that the dogs and the cats could reach some sort of detente. So many people told us, "Oh, they'll work things out!" But at least one friend reassured us from bitter (and deadly) experience that they don't always.

So here's how the animals spend much of the day. The dogs watch cat TV and the cats watch dog TV.
I'm now talking to woodworkers to get a permanent, attractive gate built at the bottom of the stairs so we don't have to step over something every frigging time we go up or down.

On the bright side, it confines the cat hair to the upstairs, so people with allergies can still come visit.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The bees are dead or gone

I don't know what happened. They were fine just days ago, coming out in groups for orientation flights, and zooming off for water and early pollen or propolis.

But I did notice their doorway seemed really dirty. They usually keep it pretty clean.
Yesterday the Sergeant wondered why there wasn't much activity, despite the warm weather. Just a very few bees coming and going.

I opened up the window today.
Looks like nobody's home.

We'll open the hive itself in a day or two and see what we can see. It's very sad.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Oh, those poor, sad pigeons. Evicted from their cozy nest under the back deck, they decided to try again – this time on a tiny ledge over the front door. I took this photo with my cellphone a couple of nights ago.

There was a narrow slot there into which the pigeons started packing nesting material. Big enough for eggs, I guess, if not for a whole pigeon.
Enter the bird spikes. They're not all that sharp, but they are enough to deter a pigeon from landing.
Even psycho zombie pigeons, if the box is to be believed.
Now they keep fluttering around the front door, occasionally landing on the ledge with Walter the fake pigeon. But they don't stay there long. The glass on the back makes them too nervous.

Where will they try to build next? Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

You know what would be awesome?

A cheeseball time-lapse movie. This jar lasted three days.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ghost bud

My houseplants are lucky the Sergeant moved in, since I have a black thumb for anything green indoors. He's much more conscientious about watering and such.

Case in point: The amarylises (amaryli?) that I waited too long to stash in the lightless cellar for forced dormancy ... and then forgot about.

I was rummaging in the deep freeze the other day when this one (on top of the freezer) caught my eye. Whoa!

Just goes to show you, plants really do want to grow, no matter what.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wanna go for a ride in the car?

Sophie never thought anything good could come of a ride in the car. But Jackson and Lucy are enthusiastic commuters. We make them wait on the sidewalk until the coast is clear.
When I say, "OK!" they rush to hop in.
I am very glad for my Subaru Outback, with enough room to hold two poodles comfortably, plus passengers and gear as needed.
Most often when the dogs get in the car, they're going to go for a walk around Washington Park, or even better, to the off-leash park. Jackson gets very excited and lets us know it.

We are bad to encourage him but that's how it is.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Springing forward

Yeah, losing that hour of sleep is a bummer.
But it means more time to enjoy such pretties, if you're not an early riser.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Angry birds

The duplex next door used to be Pigeon Central, until the owners got bird spikes installed in most of the abundant nooks and perches. So what happened? The pigeons moved over here.

Two pigeons in particular, who set up housekeeping in the space between the kitchen roof and the upstairs deck. There was a gap just large enough for them to squeeze through on one end. They built a nest and raised at least one set of babies (Peep! peep! peep! Flutter flutter!).

Finally the Sergeant hauled out his air compressor and blasted air in from the opposite side of the hole. Out popped the pigeons and on popped a piece of wood to block access.

Oy. The dramatic cooing and flapping that has ensued! They might have had eggs, but not babies (no peeping). Still, they hang about projecting pathos, bobbling across the deck, attempting to hover around the edges, looking for access. Pigeons are not built to hover, but they do their damnedest.

It almost makes feel sorry for them. Well, no, I do feel sorry for them. But they'll just have to rebuild somewhere else.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Deb takes the cake

Isn't that the most awesome cake ever? Even more so because it was baked by one cow-orker and decorated by another. Not store-boughten, but a moist, delicious carrot cake that I want to make myself one of these days (I wheedled the recipe).

Deb is quitting office work to be an urban homesteader. She became a Master Gardener, built a greenhouse, got some chickens, and will get some bees from me once swarm season rolls around.

Sweet, eh?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Drinks of Jamaica

What's a tropical vacation without a fancy drink or two? Or ten? Left to right, top to bottom: Red Stripe beer at Lyming, rum and Ting (a grapefruit soda) at Bromley; Guinness stout, fresh coconut at Reggae Beach; Planter's Punch at Jamaica Inn, Daquiri shot at Reggae Beach; Dirty Banana and Pina Colada at Jamaica Inn; Ginger Beer and Magnum Tonic at Ratty's Auto Repair and Lounge; Mojito at Miami International.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Enver and Reba

The kitties get short shrift here on The Kittalog, despite the feline-friendly title. Not because I don't love them, but they're much less willing to sit still for photos.
Reba is a dilute tortoiseshell. Her brother Enver is a tabby. They both came from a feral colony and were almost too old to socialize. Hence the notched ears: When cat rescue folks do catch-and-release of ferals, they will notch the ears to show the cat has been fixed.

When I first met Enver and Reba, they were exceedingly skittish. It would take them several days to warm up to me enough for me to even look at them without them fleeing in terror.
Now Reba runs into the bathroom and hops on the window seat to ask for petting when I am there. That's her safe spot, where jealous Enver won't hassle her.
Enver is a total glutton for petting. He's also a very big boy, at 21 pounds to Reba's 13. He likes to have his belly rubbed. He purrs loudly, meows and makes biscuits. I am careful not to startle him; he's got wicked claws.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Casa Bonita, Casa Bonita!

Even if you're not from the Denver area, you might have heard of Casa Bonita. It's a favorite of the creators of "South Park," and they even created a whole episode about it.

If you grew up here, you probably went to Casa Bonita many times as a kid. But if you arrived here as an adult, it's worthwhile to make a visit, just so you know what people are talking about.

The place has been there more than 30 years, and little has changed (or been updated) in that time.

Yes, there are cliff divers, who make the 30-foot dive into the deep pool.
The odor of chlorine permeates everything.

There are also mariachis, who sounded great! And the space is big enough that they aren't overwhelmingly loud.
We got seated in one of the "caves" rather than next to the waterfall, which was fine by me – you could actually have a conversation.
The place is renowned for its bad food, but I thought my chicken fajitas platter was OK, and the sopapillas for dessert were tasty. Our waitress was friendly and reasonably efficient.

When we were done eating, we spent another couple hours wandering around the place, playing video games in the arcades, watch the cliff divers and magic show, and generally marveling at the cheesiness of it all.

If you you have a chance, you should check it out, too!
Casa Bonita
6715 W Colfax Ave
Lakewood, CO 80214

Friday, March 04, 2011

The dog park

Sent this from my cellphone. The landscape looks all devastated because it was clearcut by the Army Corps of Engineers. That section of river valley is just below Chatfield Dam. If the dam breaks, the water is supposed to spread out and not carry a bunch of trees and such downstream.

When it was all trees and bushes, it was nice habitat for kingfishers and other river birds, and pleasant to walk through. It'll grow back eventually. They only clear it every 10 years or so.

Happy Hour at Home: Mojito

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know I like mojitos. They're so refreshing and tasty, and I like to see how different places make them. They're also quite easy to make at home.
You need:
  • 1 to 2 oz. rum
  • 1 oz. simple syrup (mint-infused is best)
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 5-6 mint leaves
  • Fizzy water (club soda, Perrier, San Pellegrino, whatever)
Muddle (i.e. gently mash) the mint leaves in the first three ingredients, add ice, top with fizzy water and stir to mix.

Traditionally, white rum is used, but dark rum is quite tasty, too. What really makes this drink, for me, is the minty simple syrup. Boil a cup of water, stir in a cup of sugar and then add several springs of mint and let the whole thing cool. Strain out the mint and store in the fridge.

When your mint is buried under winter snow, go to the Asian grocery and get a big bunch for $1.50. Put the stems in a cup of water in the fridge and a plastic bag over the top and it will last a while.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Renewal by Andersen: Doin' it wrong

At the home show a couple of weeks ago, I scheduled a one-hour visit from Renewal by Andersen, a national window-replacement company. Two of our bedroom windows are original to the house (built in 1894) and very rattly and drafty. Others are newer but inefficient and hard to clean. I wanted to get an estimate on replacing them.

The sales rep showed up, looked at the windows and ran through his spiel, then wanted work up his estimate right there.

"Your hour's up and we've got somewhere to be, so just email them, OK?" we said.

Nope, can't do that, he said, sales office rules. Have to schedule another visit. But he might be able to get us the numbers in the meantime, and then we can cancel the second visit. Well, OK then.

Not only do numbers not arrive, I get a concerned call from the sales office because they've checked the property records and discovered my husband's name on the title too, when they thought it was just me. WTF?

The more I thought about this, the madder I got. So this morning I called to cancel the follow-up appointment. "Something came up and I can't be here. Can you email me the estimate?" I said.

"No, we don't work that way," said the fellow on the phone, who also made an aggrieved comment about my canceling on short notice.

Well, guess what? If you don't work that way, you don't work for me.

And now I have to start all over again.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

I need your opinion

Looking at smart phones. Which do you prefer, Droid or iPhone? Be specific, please.