17 June 2014

Take It To The Bridge

Together with a dozen or so present and former colleagues, Ryan and I handed out water and Gatorade to roughly 8,200 runners in the annual Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole Run last Saturday. We manned Water Station #3 at the top of the Hoan Bridge. It was a wee bit early, we started at 5 AM, but the spectacular view more than made up for the hour!

Handing Out Water to the Runners
Hoan Bridge
Hoan Bridge Up Close
Lake Michigan
Milwaukee Art Museum

16 June 2014

Ryan And The Electric Eel

Sounds like the name of a band, doesn’t it? Or a children’s movie perhaps, a funny TV show, an exciting book? It’s not. It is a tool, a very burly one. They can be rented at your local DIY store to clean up your sh*t. Ryan’s favorite thing to do on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

We are having some issues in the basement. Every time it rains the basement floods. Every time we shower the basement floods. Every time we flush the toilets, the basement floods. Basically anything involving water will cause our basement to flood. The sump pump we purchased is not up to the job because of the silt that blocks the water intake and causes the pump’s motor to overheat.

Egged on by my cousin and me, who were raised to attempt everything yourself before calling in the professionals, Ryan rented the Electric Eel: a burly machine that pushes and rotates a sharp object attached to a steel cable down the drain and cuts up whatever is in its way. Then you pull it back out, insert a bigger sharp object and do it all over again. Until the obstruction is completely gone and your water flows freely again. Sounds easy enough, in theory.

The reality is a little different. First off, you don’t stick the Eel down the drain in the floor but open up a pipe that connects to the main line, usually located closer to the street. The Home Depot guy told us the blockage is always in that pipe. In our case we found out there was nothing to open up. We found a pipe going down into the newly poured cement floor at the front, but it is not capped off. That can’t be good. When we looked inside, we could not see anything alarming. We figured the blockage was probably not there, but in the part that’s under our floor. If that pipe had been blocked, then our basement would have flooded from there as well since it was not closed off.

But what do we know, we’re not professionals, and the tool was paid for, so we stuck the Eel down that pipe anyway. We pushed the line down as far out as it went, about thirty feet. Then we hauled it back in. That was the fun part. The engine had some trouble pulling all that weight, and Ryan had to give it a hand. Hanging directly over the pipe, he got up close and personal with the contents of the sewer. He was not happy and very vocally so. It did stink, I’ll give him that, but Lola’s diapers were so much worse. What was truly awful though, was the brown splatter flying off the cable when it rolled back up onto the reel. I held up a piece of cardboard to catch most of it, but not all.

The worst part of it was that it didn't do any good. The water pooling in the drain was still there. Nothing had changed. We had only proven to ourselves what we already knew: we are the exception to the rule and our blockage is under the house. And for that we need a professional. So we hauled the heavy-ass machine back up the stairs, hosed it off, and took it back to the Home Depot. For the time being, we’ll take short showers and hope it doesn't rain. Oh, the joy of home ownership.

13 June 2014

All Cats Look Gray in The Dark

Now that we have traded in the trendy industrial neighborhood for a residential one, we run into typical residential issues. For instance our neighbors have cats, just like we do. And their cats are curious, just like ours are. So when they see the basement window ajar, to accommodate the hose pumping out the flooded basement, they venture inside to explore our home. And no doubt, help themselves to the cat food in the kitchen.

While the humans are very friendly towards the neighborhood pets, the animals are not. The older, grumpier cat in particular. Sandman howls at the intruders in a way that makes your hair stand up straight. Naturally this occurs in the middle of the night. And when he’s chased them off, he turns on the young, happy-go-lucky cat relatively new to our household and howls and hisses at him. Makes for long nights, I tell ya.

It has made me wonder if Sandman’s eyesight might be failing. I cannot discuss this with Ryan because he does not want to consider the fact that his boy is fourteen years old now, a most respectable age. But being an older cat comes with some problems. When he thinks no-one is looking, he obviously has trouble with jumping onto chairs. He has stopped hunting a while ago. He will walk straight at me but jump with four feet in the air when I call his name.

The other night he walked up to Fluffy ever so cautiously, with his ears flat against his head. When he was about a foot away from him, he visibly relaxed in an “Oh, it’s you” kind of way and walked off. That really convinced me he can no longer see very well. There is no visible sign of cataracts, or any other obvious eye problem. Perhaps I should perform some of the cat vision tests I found on the web. Yes, they do exist and no, they do not involve a chart.

Then again, we just moved into a new house where nothing is where it should be. And Sandman is not bumping into any boxes or furniture. Perhaps he’s just grabbing his chance to beat up the little pest that has forced him to share snuggles, attention, and food. I wouldn't put it past him. Most likely things will settle down when we unpack all those boxes and the house starts looking more like a home instead of a warehouse. It will certainly improve my mood.

04 June 2014

Back By Popular Demand

I was recently requested on Facebook to do a little blogging. I guess I should if I mean to keep this online diary somewhat up to date. And in truth, we have had some big changes around here since my last post. (My butt is all better, by the way, though it took a lot longer than seven to ten days.)

Big Change One

Santa Claus brought Lola a kitten for Christmas. She really, really, really wanted one and he caved, knowing that Sandman is still not a fan of her and she does love animals so. Fluffy, who also goes by the name Junior, is a cute little puffball. Contrary to what the book says about Birman cats, he is a very vocal cat. We try to train him to be quiet, by spraying him with water when he gets out of control, but it does us little good. He does seem to have developed a love for bathtubs and holds no grudges whatsoever about the water. Sandman has warmed up to him, after pouting for a little bit, and while they do not snuggle, they do play together every day.




Big Change Two

After many frustrating and fruitless attempts to find gainful employment in Milwaukee, I have finally returned to work. I too work for our friendly local cable provider now, just like my husband. After two weeks of intense training, I am learning the job on the job. I am in the quality control business now, where my attention to detail and somewhat anal tendencies are put to good use. It’s fun. I like my colleagues and for the first time in my life, I can ride my bike to work. Not that I have, but I could if I wanted to.

Big Change Three

We have moved. Again. As soon as it became obvious we would be staying in Milwaukee for a while, we started looking for a place of our own. Our apartment was fabulous, but the price tag was not, and there were a few other things as well. We bought a cute little house a couple of blocks down the street and we moved into it last weekend. You would think with all this moving experience we would know better than to underestimate the job, but no. However, it’s done and the place looks like a hoarder’s paradise. After three days of searching for it, I have finally located the missing coffee maker. Next on the docket is creating a path to the cable outlets so that our friendly local cable provider can transfer our services.

So much for the most recent adventures from the Southside. I am sure there is more, and who knows, perhaps I will be a little more disciplined in the future and post on a semi regular basis again. Maybe even include a few pictures. Just as soon as I can find my computer. And the charger. And my camera. And the cable to connect my camera to the computer…

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