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Stuff & Nonsense & Natter

Wednesday already? At the same time, the individual days this week really dragged. Anyway, to recap last week:

Robin passed his test and has his CDL learner’s permit-like thingy. He’s been making paper flashcards of the information he needs to memorize, as he prefers them to the flashcard iWhatsit app Ron shared. Ron’s been driving around the training yard and nearby industrial park and hasn’t squashed (m)any cones.

Stayed home last week Tuesday – more weather and tree sex misery. Took a nap, then Ron dragged me out to the yard to get some fresh air and sunshine. While there I tried drawing a tractor-trailer in perspective, and got a drawing lesson from one of Ron’s instructors, who was formerly a Fine Arts instructor. Very nice guy, very helpful.

Got lunch, got home, and finished the drawing that had been in the works for a couple weeks – “Morel-ia Pythons”, see MrsMorelia.deviantart.com

On Saturday I picked up some interesting crayon/pencil things that work like watercolor crayon/pencils when you apply water, except once they dry after applying water and turning them to ink, they’re permanent. I got them to do backgrounds. I’ve done some experiments with them.

Saturday afternoon/evening we went to BrookCon, a party at a friends’ house. I drew a sad red panda with the ink crayon/pencil things mentioned above (which I applied water to when we got home), the room we were in, in songle-point perspective, and a snake. Sunday I colored the snake, and am very pleased with the result – “Shy Baby Beep” on DeviantArt. Over the weekend I also started a larger version of “Shai-Hulud and the Fremice” And on Monday I drew a fish (not a snake!) and colored it. The proportions are a little off for the type of fish its supposed to be, but overall its clearly a reasonably realistic fish.

Yesterday was the regularly-scheduled Cleaning Fairy visit, and there was much rejoicing, yay!

Ron keeps thinking about being an truck owner/operator. Robin seemed un-interested, but it turns out the issue was the paperwork. Which we’d be hiring an accountant for, at least for doing taxes. But they’ll start out wherever as company drivers for a while first. Started doing preliminary research on trucking companies for them to look at in more detail – name, do they offer A-Z, etc.

The rain over the had the sump pump running and running and running and running. The basement flooded again, but not too deep, and the pump seemed to be gaining. We went to Menard’s on Sunday and got another pump anyway – the plan was to install it, with the float at a higher water level than the existing one as a backup/heavy load pump, when there was a break in the rain.

Didn’t happen Sunday (weather), or Monday (Ron and Robin were busy with other things), but they did get it done yesterday. Currently we have just the new pump, and the old one desperately needs to be de-gunked (can’t even *find* the intake, explaining why it was struggling with the water in the basement, a certain amount of which is inevitable) and possibly replaced. And we need to check and clean the sump pump(s) at least yearly, as a certain amount of crud is going to get into the sump and build up on the pump. The new pump is 1HP, and is probably overkill. While installing it, Ron did all the necessary work so that we can put the old pump or a replacement in fairly quickly/easily. Which I think we’ll do, if only for peace of mind.

Another Week

Last week Robin registered for CDL training, and Ron sent him all the study material he’s been using on his iWhatsit. Meanwhile, Pizza Workplace has been giving him extra incentive to move on. I think coincidentally, but not sure. Ron also mentioned that if they do team long-haul we will be getting lawn fairies. Yes, yes we will.

Ron’s driving training time doesn’t begin until next week, so he’s somewhat thumb-twiddly this week, as he’s finished his class time and taken his written tests with the Secretary of State – so now he’s theoretically certified for doubles, triples, tankers, and hazmat.

I started a larger, color version of another one of my snake drawings. This time I’m re-drawing from scratch, due to issues with the computer on Friday when Ron spilled water on the mouse and Wacom tablet, and un-related mis-behavior on the part of the Adobe Creative Suite. But I had a lot of changes to make from the original anyway, so starting from scratch was not a big deal. I got it sketched in pencil Friday night, and that’s where it still is.

Saturday we shopped – groceries, and for the project of moving the ball pythons to tubs, which meant Ikea, Menard’s, and Ace Hardware. Yes, Menard’s and Ace would seem to be redundant, but Menard’s only carries lighter-weight zip/lamp cord than Ron wanted for wiring up the heat tape.

I thought we were going to work on setting up the tubs Sunday, but we went to Brookfield Zoo instead. Ron took lots of pictures of scaly and feathery things – we went to The Swamp, Birds/Reptiles (formerly perching birds, the big long building), and Scales and Feathers, which is more birds and reptiles, and has free flight in the whole building. The otters weren’t out on display at The Swamp, so we saw no furry creatures.

My plan for Easter dinner was a butterflied/boneless leg of lamb on the grill, with cucumber/onion/yogurt salad. That didn’t survive contact with the grocery store. Eurofresh didn’t have any of that sort of lamb roast, and lamb shanks and chops weren’t calling to me. So Robin and I had lamb-burgers, and Ron had blue cheese burgers, and they were cooked under the broiler because we were all feeling lazy. But I did get the salad made, we all had our burgers in pita bread, and Robin and I put salad in the bread with the burgers, and it was yummy. Note to self, next time get dill so we can make the salad even more tzatziki-like.

Kajura is developing into a busy-body snake. They often pop out to watch what’s going on in the bedroom, especially in the evenings. Settling down, but one day last week they tried to bite again. Well, succeeded in attacking my thumb and holding on and a little gnawing action, but not in actually breaking the skin.

Buford shed last week, and then ate for the first time with us. He was also out and about a couple days ago, during the day. We didn’t see him out, but I know that morning before I left the substrate was in a relatively even layer over the whole enclosure floor. Not so much by evening. Not sure what he was doing, but he cleared a significant chunk of his enclosure floor.

Ron did start on drilling tubs last night, demonstrating that our plan for the rack will work.

Random Title

I finished the color version of Kajura (tiny baby water python) on a mushroom on Saturday. I tried highlighting Kajura with a metallic ink, which was not a complete success. Oh well, didn’t know how it would work until I tried. The mushroom, however, I’m quite pleased with – I’m happy with the shading, and I’d picked up some titanium white thick acrylic paint to do spots on the mushroom, and they came out really well (easier to do opaque white spots over the background than to leave the spots un-colored).

Had a MuseCon meeting on Saturday, where I drew a couple more silly snake pictures, to go with the silly snake pictures I did last week.

Ron got his new DSLR (a Canon mumble mumble) last week. He is very happy. The low-light/high-ISO capability is impressive. Unfortunately, he’s suffering the pain of early adoption – Adobe hasn’t updated support for this model (he’d pre-ordered to get it when it hit the market), and may not for a couple months; which means that he has to use the Canon software, which do sucketh, verily, instead of Lightroom (or Photoshop). There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth about this.

In other snake news, I’ve decided to move the ball pythons to tubs in a rack, and give less shy snakes the enclosures they’re in. To that end I have a stack of bus tubs, heat tape, and hides. Well, the hides aren’t actually for this project, but they came from the same place as the heat tape. Hopefully this coming weekend we can pick up PVC pipe and things to make tunnels between pairs of bus tubs. Which will all make sense when its done.

Ron has about 4 hours of class time left in his CDL training, and will be starting the driving portion of the training later this month, unless somebody else misses a scheduled time and he can get in earlier. Robin is also considering CDL training, pending some current-job things.

If either one of them decides to do long-haul work, I may be getting a service in for mid-day dog recesses. If they decide to do long-haul as a team there will definitely be mid-day dog recesses. And Nyar the skink will be re-located at least to a more accessible spot (for klutzy Moms) in Robin’s room.

German proceeds in fits and starts. I bought the Rosetta Stone software yesterday, even though conversation isn’t a particular goal of mine, as I wasn’t doing too well on my own. I think it’ll help get the basic vocabulary and grammar back into my head, after which reading on my own should go better. Ron’s been using the Rosetta Stone Spanish lessons and liking the program.

Had a bad case of ennui yesterday. We got breakfast, groceries, put groceries away, and then did . . . a whole lot of flopping around. And changed water in the aquaria, which is mostly flopping around and keeping an eye on water levels. I think partly it was the weather – as in a bit humid and fairly warm. When I came downstairs this morning it was definitely cooler than last night, but still 76 F.

Not a Lot Going On

It’s been a fairly quiet couple of weeks in terms of doing stuff. I’ve worked on doll clothes, but not so much as to (re-) aggravate my wrist. Dogs have been pretty good. Fish are fish.

Snakes have mostly been eating, and the ones that haven’t been haven’t been worrisome (in shed, etc.). Bruce is getting to be a big boy – the growth in length seems less dramatic than the girth, but his proportions haven’t changed. I think Nageswari is liking the larger enclosure, she was out soaking last week Thursday and again today. Lummy continues his dead tortoise impressions (napping sprawled out).

Got some more cleaning done on Sunday, me in the dining room, with Robin’s help, and Ron worked on the spare bedroom. Both rooms are getting closer to usable, more natter about the dining room on the Otter blog.

Don’t Wanna Go Back to Work!

When last we met, I’d been shopping on Friday for various things. Saturday morning Ron got the shelf put up, and the helicarrier and a few other legos put on it. And naughty dog(s) had broken my terra-cotta horse (collateral damage, I believe). Fortunately, Robin was able to repair it, and its up on the shelf out of range of further dog shenanigans.

Ron’s tummy was acting up on Saturday, so we didn’t get snake cages cleaned. We did get the new cage put together. Twice. Because I screwed up the very first step, which we didn’t realize until the end. D’oh! We did not stay up until local-midnight.

Yesterday Ron installed heat on the new cage, and muscled it into place. Then we cleaned cages and moved snakes around. Haku and Diaval went into the new cage, the ball pythons shifted to cages that are higher off the floor, and Henry and Caudimordax came down lower – ball pythons are mellow, so dealing with them while on a stepladder is easier than with the more active boys. Dizzy and Nageswari moved to Diaval and Haku’s old cages (size upgrade), and Danger Noodle moved into the Cambro tub Nageswari was in. The tub is still in the bedroom, so hopefully Danger Noodle isn’t too upset by the move and keeps eating well.

Friday night or Saturday morning I noticed that the shelves the snakes are on in the bedroom was leaning, and shoved another piece of furniture up against it to prevent further leaning. The plan is to move Wonambi’s cage to the top of my dresser and put the garb on the shelves instead, but we ran out of energy to get that done yesterday.

After cleaning all the cages, and then the living room (there was shredded aspen from one end of the room to the other), I got a shower and clean clothes and felt human again. Just in time for Xap and R to come over. Fortunately, because of all the work in the morning and early afternoon, dinner plans were easy – 7-layer salad that just had to be assembled, roast beef tenderloin, and pre-made pies. And I put Robin in charge of the pies. It was all yummy.

We considered going to see “Rogue One” today, but failed to work up enough energy. Probably a good thing, as Ron’s currently out helping get a broken car (not ours) to a garage. Robin was helping someone move some furniture around, and is now upstairs, probably painting miniatures. Dogs are sleeping on the couch with me. I think the dogs are worn out from having me home all last week – this is day 10 of vacation.

I’d really rather not go back to work tomorrow, but that whole need for a paycheck thing . . .

Post-Christmas Vacationing

I took this week off, and have done . . . very little.

Tuesday morning I cleaned up the desktop computer desk. Not the whole thing, but enough that I can use the computer without going up a tree. Wednesday morning I made a Mexican turkey pot pie with the Christmas turkey leftovers. Ron came home early both days, and we did not much together. Although on Wednesday the new snake enclosure arrived, as well as Ron’s new banjo.

Yesterday I went to the Field Museum. Ron dropped me off at the train station, I took the train downtown, killed some time at the station, and then got to the museum a little while after it opened. The first special exhibit I went to was the Chinese terra-cotta warriors/tomb of the 1st emperor. It was good, and I was actually able to get some good pictures with my phone – although the space overall was dimly-lit, the exhibits themselves were well-lit, and non-flash photography was allowed.

After that I went upstairs to another history about the history of China. I was going to get lunch after that, but looked at the lines at the entrances and decided to do the tattoo special exhibit, and then a smaller special exhibit of Native American artwork on the way out.

The cafe was swamped, so I grabbed a couple things that I didn’t have to wait for, and actually found a table.

After lunch I decided I was done, and checked the shop associated with the terra-cotta warrior exhibit for an exhibition book or DVD, and found none. I did get a little silk pouch for Ron to keep his loom knitting stuff in, and a small terra-cotta horse replica. At the main museum shop I actually got out empty-handed.

The lines at the south entrance were insane when I left – all the way out the doors and most of the way down the steps – maybe half-dozen shy of the bottom down those big long shallow steps.

Got a taxi back to the station, and got on a train home with a couple minutes to spare. Ron picked me up at the station, and I went home and collapsed. My left ankle was definitely cranky about being dislocated mumble years ago.

This morning I did some shopping – I ran to Arlington Heights and got two bales of shredded aspen for snake bedding (planning to change them all tomorrow), and then to Menard’s in Palatine. I got PVC and fittings to make jungle gyms for some of the snakes, a shelf for Ron’s helicarrier, and a couple plumbing bits for an actual repair.

Christmas Report

Christmas was good. Friday evening we went to Xap’s and hung out and snack and talked with various people. The weather on the way there was crummy, sleet and snow, but much better on the way home.

Saturday morning Ron and I went out and did some last-minute grocery-type shopping. The original plan was to do deep-fried turkey on Christmas day, but given the weather report, we re-scheduled for Christmas eve. That meant I did side dishes on Saturday – sweet potatoes, dressing, and gravy. Ron made a giant molasses cookie from a mix, spiked with extra molasses. Robin worked until 7:00, and we had dinner when he got home.

After dinner we did presents. I managed to surprise Ron! I got him a Lego S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. We got Robin a couple new cargo vests and a gratuitous pair of shorts (since I was ordering the vests), and cash for a kickstarter we was thinking about, but he had to repair his car. Robin gave us skeletons – a werewolf for Ron, a jackalope for me. Ron and Robin got me a bookbinding goodies and a guitar. And Christmas day Ron ordered a gently-used cello banjo that popped up at Elderly Instruments. Yes, we may have Instrument Acquisition Syndrome. The dogs got meat off the turkey wishbones that were boiled for stock for gravy, and non-stuffed squeaky toys (we’ve had the toys for quite a while, but they didn’t know or care about that part).

Christmas day was somewhat lazy: Ron spent pretty much all day working on his helicarrier. Robin was painting miniatures. I played my new guitar and worked on text layout for a book project. Tanami helped some with the book. Dinner was what we’d originally planned for Christmas Eve – potato sausage, mashed rutabaga, and a apple-cranberry pie that we got from Heybeck’s and I put Robin in charge of baking.

Today Ron worked on his Helicarrier, and finally finished it. Robin painted minis. I played my new guitar and took a nap with a snuggly Tommy. It was a good day.

Lazy-ish Weekend Natter

Didn’t have any significant plans for the weekend, and didn’t do anything super-noteworthy.

Last week Thursday was our Christmas party with the Chicago office (and people who made the trip up from Springfield). We had it at Lou Malnati’s, so I expected the food (salad, pasta, two kinds of pizza, and dessert) to be good and wasn’t disappointed. I think most of us were pleasantly surprised when the wait-staff served the pizza – they’d cleared a table to put it on, and we’d expected self-serve, and it to be a traffic jam.

The drive home Friday night was sloooow. I should have stopped partway home to clean the ice off of my wiper blades, but I made it home safely, as did Ron. Robin made it to work, but . . .

. . . when work, Robin whacked a curb and badly mangled one of the rims on the Kia. Ron went to get him, and they elected to wait until morning to deal with it, since he did it in the parking lot and got the car into a space. Saturday morning we went over, Ron and Robin put on the spare, then we followed Robin to the tire place to drop off the car to get a new tire and rim.

Got food, came home, sent Robin off in my truck to get money to pay for the four new tires he decided to bite the bullet on, plus a new rim. Then Robin set up the Christmas tree. Eventually the car was ready, so we dropped Robin off, and then proceeded to PetWhatsit with Gimli in tow, to get Gimli a coat. He’s got such a thin, silky coat, and is all muscle, that he needs it.

Found a couple decent options. A medium was too small in the chest (he’s filled out, Ron had to let his harness out all the way, and it was still a little snug), so he ended up with a large. It’s a little long, but otherwise ok. Plain, boring navy blue, no goofy fru-fru other than a zipper down the back. Gimli was funny when we checked out, he took a cookie nicely from the cashier, but dropped it. Twice. I gave it to him, and he ate it. He’s not too sure about this coat thing yet, but I think he’ll get the idea.

Sunday we went out to Jo-Ann for more yarn for Ron, and to the grocery store. As we were getting in the truck Gimli ran outside and woofed at us – I think he was telling us he’d like to go shopping again. We also bleached all the snake water bowls, de-scaled some with vinegar, and changed water in the fish tanks, practiced guitar/banjo, and I did some dishes and folded laundry. Yes, a very exciting day.
I also made a book over the weekend, but I’ve decided to move bookbinding natter over to the Otter blog.

Drafting Table Success

I got the dining room sufficiently cleaned Sunday morning to bring the drafting table in. More natter about that on the Otter blog.

After we finished with the table, and went to Ace for a couple things, I was capital-D done, and we ordered from Siri Thai for dinner. While we were waiting Tommy and I were flopped on the chaise section of the couch with Tommy’s head on my shoulder. I asked Ron if we looked content, he replied that we looked asleep. Which was not far from accurate.

Today was the downstate office’s party celebrating the holidays and one of the people retiring, starting at 11 AM. Then at 1 PM was a DNR awards ceremony – and I was due to get, IIRC, a plaque for 25 years served, er, service. To get to the party on time would mean leaving by 7 am, which would have meant leaving the house 6-6:15. To say I was Not Enthused about the entire trip would not be incorrect.

Therefore, I really couldn’t complain about yesterday’s snow. I was going with two co-workers, and the texting probably began about 6 last night. About 8 we finally decided to cancel, and there was much rejoicing at my house. The roads weren’t at all bad this morning, but other than missing the chance to say goodbye to the retiree in person (unless he comes up for our party on Thursday), I can’t say I’m sorry.

Blah Blah Blah, Natter-Cakes

Things have been pretty quiet since I last posted.

I thought I had the text-formatting done on the book of Kipling poetry, and then decided to add 4 more pages and un-squeeze a couple pieces. Which left some blank pages, which I filled with a list of the titles in alphabetical order. I also went through and added little decorative swashy things in at the end of each piece – not for decoration, but to say “the end”. If I’d only picked poems that were one or two pages (which could go on the two sides of a spread) I wouldn’t have needed the swashes, but a bunch of the poems do run multiple pages.

Also debating illustrations. I looked at iStock for images, and tried to look at what Dover clip-art collections we have electronically. Unfortunately, the “Dover and Other Stuff” drive has been getting moribund for a while now, and while it could still be read from, it was a really really slow. In frustration I pulled up the Best Buy website and looked at what external drives were in stock locally. $140-ish for a 5 TB drive. That’s enough capacity for the Dover drive, the Drobo (a RAID), and the couple other drives in the drive farm. Sold! $150-ish with tax.

Which put the book project on hold while Ron was backing up all the drives to the new one (ChronoSynch for the win!). That finished last night, with only four files damaged/missing (from the Dover drive) – but three of the four we have zip files for that include the originals, and the fourth can be easily re-downloaded from iStock (as we could the other three). So now we need to go through and do some cleanup and re-organization, and in the not-too-far future pick up another drive to back this one up to.

We did have some excitement last night, when Tommy made an unauthorized expedition out of the yard. Fortunately, Ron was able to follow his baying to the next street over and Tommy was quite willing to go for a ride. Looking at the small gate last night, that was my first suspicion of escape point. Ron and Robin checked the entire fence in daylight today, and we’re thinking that was the spot. Ron adjusted the gate, but we’re still keeping the beagles on cables at the moment.

Next up: actually posting to the Otter Necessities blog!