Brain fried

I think many folks in my group at cisco are getting the same brain fry as I seem to… its no wonder why seemingly simple stuff I’m trying to do is turning into a real production. Fraley noticed it yesterday when he came up to help me finish off the irrigation for the garden. Once we got organized, finishing off the installation actually went pretty smooth and now the plants are happy. It doesn’t help matters that its allergy season and I’m feeling miserable from that (Allegra-D helps, but damn, I know exactly when its wearing off).

I need a break… I’m feeling like I got premature Alzheimer’s or something.

The best Saturday EVER.

You know, it was one of the best Saturdays I’ve had in a while. Jen-Jay came over and we did a lot of nothing. I warned her not to expect anything, really, today was a stay home and clean up stuff day. So, we cleaned stuff, and then we giggled at Art, then we drank some margaritas and tried to fancy up the chicken coop.

I think the margaritas needed more tequila, but the blender…man oh man! Check this shit out:

***NOTE: actual margaritas consumed did not come with lime slice. Lime slice added for viewer benefit only***

This thing doesn’t blend with stupid buttons that tell you what the result will be (whip, blend, crush, frappe). It blends in freakin’ RPMs people!!!! Up to 20,000!!!! How awesome is that?

So we drank margaritas and watched the dogs play. Q is fitting in quite well.

He pushes Dretti around and stirs the shit quite a bit.

But Dretti is much bigger and keeps the little dog down

But Q is smaller and gets his punches in while Dretti is trying to maneuver:

So that was fun, cleaning shit, drinkin margaritas and watchin the dogs. Next on the check list? Poke fun at Art. Well, sort of just snicker at him mostly. My husband is…..obsessive compulsive (at best) and a complete clutter bug (at worst). Add to that he is very easily distracted and that just makes him a lot of fun to watch.

A few more margaritas and we went to work fancyin up the chicken coop to put half of the chicks we raised (in the freakin’ BATHROOM) out into.

Art rototilled, Jen and I fussed with ghetto lattice. That’s ghetto, as in, been used someplace else on the property and is now finding it’s final resting place on the coop. Ghetto, as in, not really in the best shape. Ghetto, like, falling the fuck apart. But it got done.

But not without a lot of giggling and more poking fun at Art.

As you can see, Jen helped more than I did.

I took a lot of pictures.

It was warm, everyone got thirsty

Jen and I took lots of breaks to do, well, nothing (that’s the best part)

In the end, the chickens were turned out of the spare bathroom (wire cage, people, no I do not have chickens free ranging in my bathroom. I have no fucking bathtub in my bathroom, but I do have fucking chickens. Sigh) They like their new digs, there’s bugs to be picked, dust baths to be taken, and mud to be splashed in. Awesome for them.

Us? Well, Jen packed up Tweak (the cockatiel I begged her to adopt/ she begged to adopt) and headed down the hill. You think that hill is fun sober? Try it after a couple of margaritas. Art finished up the chicken set up and moved on to draining the hot tub (le eww, it was gross I think. I wouldn’t actually know since I stopped going anywhere near it a week ago). I lit some charcoal and bbq’d some very good chicken (apricot abodo chili glaze, tres magnifique, if I must say so myself). We popped a beer, ate some chicken and are currently watching the Tivo’d version of the San Jose/Detroit game.

Life, people, does not get better than this. Friends, dogs, booze, sunshine, good food and hockey. Oh, I am a happy woman. Oh yes I am today. I only wish more of you could have been here, you would have loved it, I’m pretty sure. If there were more of you, we woulda worked less and drank more, I promise. All y’all, get yer asses up here. There’s more booze in the pantry and the weather forcast is all awesome all the time for as far out as they’ll dare forcast! I’ll cook, we’ll get drunk and tell stories. Hell, we drink enough and we’ll MAKE stories!

The worst road trip….EVER.

Remember my little problem with saying no??? Yeah, me too. Well, one last favor…a road trip up to Eureka to pick up a greyhound that was won in a court battle to get it out of the tweaker home it was living in (the woman who bought the dog was convicted on meth charges..a felony) A FAVOR for my breeder, a favor to be done for gas money only (because I’m so nice, right?). Uh. Yeah.

Total distance = 312 miles each way (you do the math, oh, okay…624 miles total)

Travel time = 6 hours each way (that’s 12 hours not including the vet visit)

This is a lot of gas, and a lot of my time. An entire day. I was going to make this trip in one day, because I didn’t want to waste 2 days of my time doing this thing. Drive out, pick the dog up at the vet that it was being held at, get the health certificates and other vet shit, and drive back. A total of….estitmated, about 13-14 hours. Okay. Not hard, right? I should have known when I got down my road and to the freeway and discovered I had left my wallet at the house. Because of the legal issues…no ID = no dog. Drive home, get wallet, cuss a lot. Everything going well, even start to think “Hey, this ain’t so bad” as I reached the redwood forest on hwy 101. The redwoods are awesome, amazing and very peaceful. I start to relax, and even smile a little. You would have too, if you had been there with me.

There were lots of religious references along the side of the road. A mural featuring a gargantuan baby jesus on the side of a barn. Christian graffiti (serious, buildings tagged with some serious Jesus-fitti) A place that advertised ‘Carvin’s for Christ’ and boasted lifesize chainsaw sculptures of bears, eagles and, well, Jesus. It seems these folk really love Jesus. A lot. I mean, a whole lot. The north coast of California, a place to settle if you love the Lord and crystal meth (that’s the other specialty up there, if you didn’t know)

6 hours later, I’m picking up the most gorgeous dog I’ve seen in a long time (and the pricey-est, estimated value including legal fees = $8000)

Turn around, start driving back. Stop, get Art some smoked salmon, a latte for the road. Bronco is full of dogs. Dretti and Dee, Q and Toni (in the crate; I’m not letting $8000 worth of dog free-float around in my truck) I’m feeling pretty accomplished, if a little behind schedule. I figure I’ll be home around 10-ish. On the road, making good time. I’m hungry, stop to pick up dinner at a little eclectic italian / mexican diner in Garberville. Pizza, I’m told, will be about 30 minutes. Craptastic. Oh well, I’ll just sit and watch the locals. Oh my, talk about bottom of the genetic barrel. Garberville is where folk come to hide from society and it’s pesky expectations of personal grooming. So I wait. I go get cash and some coffee, come back, wait some more. Talk to Helen. Wait. And HOUR LATER the waitress, who has been staring at me for like, an HOUR asks “Honey, are you waitin’ for sumpthin?” Uh, yeah, the food I ordered, FROM YOU PERSONALY, like an hour ago???? Oh, it’s right here. Gee, thanks. Grumble. But it was most excellent pizza, but then, I hadn’t eaten all day, so cardboard might have been most exellent too. On the road, pizza and diet coke in hand, wanna go home. It’s 7:00. I’m really behind now. ETA: 11:00ish. Making good time…watch out for the cops, they are everywhere pulling people over. CHP has nothing better to do. Sheesh. So in an attempt to forewarn a few folks speeding into a trap, I flick my highbeams at them a few times. Fucking big bad mistake. All the gauges on my console go bugshit, the radio sounds drunk, the Bronco starts to buck and hitch. Oh uh-uh, no way. WTF??? It’s totally loosing power on a decline of a hill, then it lurches and seems okay, then it’s not. We play this game for a mile or two, loosing speed the entire time. I panic and pull to the side of the highway. There is no side of the highway. I’m 1/2 in the slow lane, half on gravel with a guard rail and a drop off. I’m pretty sure if I stay here I’m getting hit by a semi-truck the minute it gets dark, guaran-fucking-teed (remember, no power for emergency blinkers). As I decided to try to make it to a turn out, the gauges went back to normal, if only momentarily. We made it about another 5 miles to a turn out (thank gawd) in the middle of BF Nowhere. And I do mean nowhere. No cell coverage. No houses. No nuthin. I got out and peered under the hood, as if perhaps something obviously broken would just jump out and scream “Hi, I’m glaringly broken, yet simple to fix if you have a little McGyver in you. You gotta paperclip and a piece of Juicyfruit gum? Let’s get to fixin’ little lady” But no such luck. Everything looked exactly as dirty and non-descript as it did the last time I popped the hood (gawd only knows why I would do that, but I’m pretty sure I did at some point in the recent past) I wiggled small things and thumped on the battery connections (which were sparkley clean to match the relatively new battery). I sighed and listened to the river and raised an eyebrow at the dimming light. Again, I peered into the sooty guts of my beloved Bronco. I reached for the alternator (yes, I know what it is and where it’s located) and burned my knuckle. Ouch. Fucking alternator.

At this point I must state that I was pretty sure it was the fucking alternator that was to blame for my prediciment. I’ve witnessed alternator death before, a long time ago, and the death-throws were shockingly similar. It’s something you never forget, indeed. Sucking on my burned knuckle, I surveyed my surroundings again, this time with keen attention to detail; redwoods (a lot of em), river (the eel river, north fork I assume) directly on the other side of the highway, nice wide turnout (oh, thank you thank you), someone’s pickup truck parked about 100 yards north of my pathetic position), more redwoods (duh), no cell coverage (fuck me runnin’). Conclusion: I’m fucked. Majorly fucked. By now, it’s almost dark. I sigh and get back in the truck. Maybe the CHP will see me with my hood up and my emergency blinkers on (which worked, albeit weakly, as long as the key was out of the ignition). Maybe someone would stop, maybe they wouldn’t be a carload of tweakers

or a serial killer on vacation who loves his work enough to make an exception.

I sit back and contemplate my situation. I think about crying. I don’t…yet. I wonder how long I’ll be here, alone. I wonder how long it will be until the inside of the Bronco is as cold as the outside. I have the dogs, they keep it pretty warm and I have the entire back of the Bronco lined with poofy dog beds and a blanket or two. I could sleep with them, I guess. It’s dark now. I’m getting more concerned, nobody is stopping. I see the lights on the truck parked up ahead of me go on. Maybe that person will be normal and kind, maybe they will see me. And so that person did. He pulled his truck up and asked if I was okay. “No, no I’m not” was my response, and then I wanted to cry. I explained what I thought was wrong, and my dog situation (I couldn’t leave them and walk anywhere, even if there was anywhere to walk to) and the no cell coverage situation. He kindly offered, in a soft southern voice, to go up to the house and call triple A and the CHP. He said he felt bad leaving me there, but it didn’t seem there was anything else that could be done. I agreed, and thanked him for his help. He said he would go call and then check up on me later to make sure they got there. Long story short: kind dude called a total of three times, checked up on me 4 times between 8pm and midnight, the last time he surprised me because he was on foot with a flashlight. It seems that in his rush to come check on me again, he backed his truck INTO THE LAKE coming down his driveway. He wanted to let me know that the tow truck was on the way, but it was going to have to get his truck out of the lake first, if I didn’t mind, that is. By this time it was midnight and nobody (except a carload of tweakers) had stopped. Fortunately my hero was there when the tweakers stopped to “check things out”). Everyone needs a hero now and then, this dude was mine that night, for sure. He even called Art to give him the dope on what was happening. I do have to say this: I don’t care what this man’s personal history was, I don’t care what he does for a living, who he associates with, or what his demons are. As far as I’m concerned he was a damn angel that night and kharma owes him a big one, on me.

The tow truck did show up, at about 15 past midnight. The CHP NEVER SHOWED UP, NOT ONCE. Triple A did tow me (although not to where they were supposed to, but well enough, a motel in Laytonville.) I was 18 miles from Laytonville, an a hell of a lot more from the last town I passed north of where I was stranded. The next morning I straightened things out with triple A and they towed me to Ukiah, complete with stories of a tow truck operator by John a man with no appearant dental plan. I learned all about how California tow companies on highway 101 have the highest bids on traffic fatalities nationwide, but really the tow companies don’t like them cuz of the smell and you know they hafta keep the vehicles indoors and ya can’t clean em up cuz of evidence and the CHP gets real ticked if ya leave the vehicles outside you know. And oh so many more stories, each and every one of them more colorful than the previous one. 45 minutes worth of stories. John liked to talk, oh yes he did. On to Ukiah and Dorseys Auto Repair where a mechanic with no concept of dental care confirmed my accurate diagnosis of a fucked up alternator and fixed me up right nice (turns out it was the original 1994 alternator “looks like you gotcher moneys worth outta this one fer sher). I got home around 7pm.

Safe. Exhausted. I fell asleep half dressed on the bed and didn’t wake up til Art got home at 10:30. And then fell asleep again until morning.

No more road trips for a while. And even then? Art is banning the Bronco from anything but the most local of trips. Hmmmf. It has a new alternator…what else could go bad? Geesh. He of little confidence.

Meet our houseguest

Toni the Tiger, or as I call her, Toni-Two-Tone. She is a ‘rescue’ from up north in Eureka. I did a favor for my breeder. A favor that did not go so well, not so well at all. In fact, it went really rather crappy. And it made me appreciate my teeth, a whole lot. But more of that later. For now? Meet Toni Two Tone….she’s staying over until tomorrow morning when she flies out to Colorado. We’re going to let her sleep on the bed tonight, she will NEVER get to do that ever again where she’s going. Kinda sad, I think, but a better gig than where she came from up in Eureka.

She’s worth a hell of a lot of money, somewhere close to $8,000 (after all the legal fees and other costs associated with getting her out of the situation she was in). Makes me a little nervous, but hell, she’s a dog. And a really sweet one at that. So I try to ignore the price tag on her head and just drive her like she was a rental. 😉 She’s a good girl. Art likes her too.

Please to be meeting Q

Yes, Q. As in the the man who never failed to provide James Bond with an escape plan. The gadget man, the brilliant mind that devised the most intreaguing toys, the funny man who often upstaged Bond in any given scene. There were many Bonds, but only one Q.

That is what I named the little Italian Greyhound we brought back from Arkansas (he originated from a puppy mill that housed over 500 dogs in Missouri) He was a throw away. He’s only 4 months old. The miller couldn’t sell him so she was tossing him out. Like so much trash. The miller told the rescue lady we were working with to either take him with her now or she would “get rid of him herself”. I can only imagine what that meant. And so, he ended up in our van, on my lap when I wasn’t driving. He was an unintentional interloper, and now he is Q.

I’m not sure what I was thinking. Maybe I was thinking about Medina and how much I loved that little dog, how much I miss her. Maybe I was thinking that a little dog would somehow make missing her a little less ever-present. I don’t know that I was thinking. I mean, there were hundreds of people who would have snatched him up in an instant when we got back with the rest of the rescue dogs. And Art isn’t especially thrilled about a third dog (no matter how small it is, a 3rd dog is a 3rd dog). I mean, he really is not thrilled, as in, “No, we are not keeping him” not thrilled. As in, “hmmmfff. No. ” not thrilled. Dretti is completely pissed off with me as well.

I’m not sure why I want to keep him so much, other than he has a really nice temperment and really does seem to be pretty smart (for a little dog; I dislike most little dogs, I’m a big dog person). So we’ll see how long it lasts. He better house train quick, or his little ass is outta here. He’s catching on, but not before he peed on Art’s new pants today. I told Art not to leave bags of crap on the floor, did he listen? Noooooooo. Oh nooooooo, no he din’t.

Q is small. As Dretti is quick to point out.

He has discovered people food. Okay, he discovered people food the second day we had him in the van somewhere around Amarillo, TX. He ate half of my sandwich and tried to break into Stephanie’s bag of M&Ms. It’s been downhill from there, he’s a little pig. He has no shame when it comes to stealing food.

He and Andretti are especially fond of tortillas.

So that is Q. Bubba-Q as Stephanie called him. Q-ball as Art calls him. To me, he is just Q, clever and funny. You know, as of now. The rest remains to be seen. Art may make me give him away, you know, throw him out in the cold, give him to someone who wouldn’t give him the wonderful life of small dog leisure he could have here. Make him go out and get a job. He might just do that. I dunno though. He does have a name, and he DID sleep on Art’s lap last night while he played x-box. It’s a start.

I really should get the right tools

Sometimes, its probably worth an extra drive down to Sears or Home Depot to get the right tool for the job. For example, when drilling thru stucco. Somehow, I managed to brainfart today and not think about the fact that I needed to drill a 1″ hole thru the outside wall to hook up the water to Lisa’s garden beds. So… I started with a 3/8″ concrete bit I had – so far so good. But I didn’t have anything larger. So… out comes the cheapie hole saw bit. After about 5 mins, it was worn down to a nub – and almost catching fire it got so hot. But it did manage to pretty well outline the hole I needed, so a hammer + screwdriver got the finish the job. Scratch one hole saw. The pipe is installed tho, and the water to the house is turned back on, so all is good.

Oh yea, and those “all in one” sprinkler kits? They don’t include the wire to connect it to the valve timer/controller. So much for “all in one” – hmpf.

Pound of flesh

Its that time of year again – tax time. And what better weather for it than drizzly grey skies 😛
I guess it keeps me inside and focused on doing the taxes rather than finding something far more interesting outside to build, dig up, plant, etc, etc. Lisa is away for the weekend, helping with a dog rescue effort in Arkansas – some puppy mill breeder is going out of business and she helping a friend rescue some of these dogs, bring them back to CA, get them healthy and then adopt them out.

At least the weather tomorrow will be good – I’ll finish the irrigation project(s) that are underway.

Initial results from new solar gear

Its cool to now actually be able to see the real output from our solar investment. Today was the first fully sunny day and the results looked pretty good:

The downward spikes in the graph generally are indicative of clouds that are blowing by briefly blocking the sun. On the 2nd inverters graph, there is an odd drop to 0W for about 5-10 mins – it looks like the inverter or the data monitor rebooted for some reason.

We generated 55 kWh today which on a monthly basis would be ~1700 kWh if every day were this sunny (which isn’t going to happen all year).

I’m be interested to see how well this much power output varies by the temperature, since the solar cells drop in efficiency as they heat up.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with it all – its cool to be able to be more independent of PG&E.

Upgraded solar equipment

I signed us up as a beta tester for the next generation solar inverters and monitoring gear a couple weeks back and the installers came today to get it all set up. After quickly running a network cable to the generator shed where the inverters are, the guys disassembled the old ones and racked in the new ones. There isn’t much visible diff but they are supposed to be more efficient and have a slightly upgraded display. But the cool thing is that I can now monitor the power output every day via their website and see just how much power we’re making (and hopefully saving on our power bills). Unfortunately, they don’t yet have the raw data available for download, so I can’t put up a graph on our website here. But, given a few hours, I should be able to reverse engineer it 🙂

while Art was digging ditches…

I finished digging through the mountain (small hill) of grandma’s boxes in the carport. They’ve been there over a year, today was the last day. And oooohhhh the treasures I found! Piles of pictures of somebody’s garden, box after box of old magazines (circa 1984 Sunset and Bon Appetit, National Geographics, etc), Another box of mayonaise and lipton ice tea jars (?), books about Jesus, books about how to do everything yourself, bags of popourri, nail polish remover, boxes of bandaides and asperin that expired in 1990. Boxes of even more books (readers digest condensed books were a favorite) and, hold onto your seat, old telephone books. That’s right, the yellow pages. I’m still in a state of mixed emotion…irritation, awe, frustration, resignation and now, with the discovery of this next item….childish delight!!!

Yes, it is encased in real ACRYLIC for it’s protection (it’s fragile, you know). It has FIBER OPTICS, it is….advanced.

I remember seeing these in the mall in, like, 1985, and thinking “OMG, I so want one of those!” They were glowing and shifted color constantly….and I was 14 and easily impressed, obviously. But now, here it is!!!! In my home, on my kitchen counter. Ohhhh, I can’t wait until dark so I can turn out all the lights and be completely blown away by it’s fiber optic goodness!!!!!

Thus opens a new chapeter in home decor for me. I need a whole room dedicated to shit like this. And the deeper I get into these boxes, the more that idea may become reality. It’s going right next to my shiney black multi-vagina.

UPDATE: It’s dark now!!!!!! Looooookkkkk……


AND!!!!! It plays music!!! “We’ve Only Just Begun”. AWESOME!!! Art took one look at it and had, for once, absolutely nothing to say. I mean, he tried to speak, but I guess he was just blown away by the beauty of it all. And then….I turned on the music. Suprise! He found his voice. Something to the effect of “ohhhh, no no no no no…..oh fuck no…turn it offffffffff, turn it off!” I guess he doesn’t like music.