Saturday, December 20, 2008

Who needs television?

A "free" day can hang on some like a burden, but not me. On the one hand, it's an opportunity to do nothing, and I'm always up for that. On the other, why waste it? My free day included a project, a chore, and an emergency.

First the project.

The original plans for the new room included a spot for the litter box, but I did not want it out in the open. Enter the "cat washroom" from Plow and Hearth. It arrived the other day, but some (all) assembly was required.

It was well packaged and the instructions seemed straightforward. Step 1 was easy.

Step 2 could have used a bit more exposition or a better illustration, because at Step 3 I realized I had already goofed. Then it was smooth sailing until Step 7.

Notice something missing? The door was supposed to be attached in Step 6.

In situ. Not sure why a cat needs a towel rack - shoot, they don't even need toilet paper because what else is a tongue for? - but what the hey.

None of the litter boxes from my current collection will fit inside, so I have not introduced Fern to her new potty spot. But I was hoping to feed her on top of the thing. Currently, she will eat only out of the dog's bowl, which creates some logistical problems. So far, she is not thrilled with my idea, plus is cranky from being hungry. In a battle of wills with a cat, the cat usually wins, but I'm going to give it a few more days.

Now, the chore.

One of our addition's residents clears our streets, so when I saw him go by, a wave of slush curling up from his plow, I realized the time to shovel the driveway was now. Fortunately, the aforementioned neighbor opened up the end of my driveway for me, after expressing amazement (for the third year in a row) that I don't yet have a snow blower. My next door neighbor wandered over, shovel in hand, to ask me if I could catsit for them. Then he felt obligated to help me. (This neighbor owes me about 99 favors already.) Still, I made me some muscles by the time I was done.

That picture makes my driveway look longer than the 50 feet it actually is.

Yesterday's post included a photo of my ornamental grasses encased in ice. I was amazed that the one near the porch was still upright. Well, I bumped its supporting structure while shoveling yesterday and it fell into a heap.

Last, the emergency.

Around 8:30 last night, I let the dog out. She has a habit of peeing on the patio, so I followed her out to chase her into the yard proper. While waiting for her to do her business, I heard this small beep...beep...beep. It was coming from the gas meter. Huh.

My first inclination was to ignore it. After all, if I had not gone outside, I would not have heard it at all. (Am I the Queen of Denial or what?) Then I Googled "gas meter beeping" but that was not very helpful. So I went back out and listened. Yep, still there. I stuck my head down closer to the meter and SMELLED GAS!

Even I know this is an emergency, so I went back in and called the gas company. Help was on the way.

Thirty minutes later, help was still on the way. This is when having a hobby comes in very handy, as I was knitting furiously and nervously while watching out the window. Maybe I wouldn't have been so nervous if I hadn't seen the following photo in Friday morning's Journal Gazette.

Yep, broken gas line. Knowing that not only does a gas line run to my house, but gas mains also run along the utility easements on both the west and north sides of my property did not help.

Finally a very nice, personable, good humored (and good looking!) fellow showed up, the kind of guy that generates confidence in his abilities and his expertise. He too heard the beep (I'm not crazy!) and determined that there was a leak (still not crazy!) and it was before the gas meter, so I was not paying to pollute the atmosphere (what good luck!) He tightened down a joint, which helped, but said the meter and its external plumbing would need replacing. My case was a "grade 2" emergency; in other words, not a must-fix-now emergency but a should-fix-soon emergency. He assured me I was safe, I could use my gas appliances, etc. and they would try to fix it Saturday.

Which brings me to issuing a blanket THANK YOU to all the people who cannot spend the day making couch dents while the weather goes to hell. Initially, I was grateful not to be a paper deliverer or a truck driver, completely forgetting about the medical professionals and public safety personnel and utility workers who keep us safe in not very safe conditions. Time to stop whining about my job, where I work in a nice, clean, warm, friendly environment.

P.S. In between all this fun, I did view some wildlife in my own backyard. Mr. Squirrel had to abandon the Telephone Wire Highway and snaked through the back roads of the privat hedge instead. It was still rough going. And while I was idly watching the usual juncos, sparrows, house finches, etc. a huge HAWK flew into the the yard and perched in a shrub. His prospective meals flew off as soon as he showed up, and soon he left as well. Wish I had been less stunned and more reflexive in a photography sort of way. He was a beauty.

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