Friday, June 25, 2004

One Lonely, Sick Dogwood

For the last week or so we've been watching the grass grow in our yard.
Sounds about as exciting as watching grass grow, right? The lawn is
slowly coming in, but I've slowed down the amount of water I've been
giving the yard. The problem I've had is that when I try to move the
sprinklers in the yard the ground is so soft that I end of sliding
around and leaving big footprints. I've been watering a bit less in an
effort to get the ground to be a bit more solid. The funny thing is the
lowest, wettest part of our yard is growing the best. I was concerned
that I was overwatering the front and side yards, but from the
appearance of the backyard (which I've barely watered because the water
runs downhill to that point and pools) I should still be watering a lot.

It's kind of a no win situation. I can water more, but then I end up
screwing up the yard when I have to more the sprinklers. Argghh.

Our dogwood is struggling too I think. With all the rain we had received
in the previous month our landscaping didn't get in as soon as we would
have liked. At that point we were home every weekend. The week before
we're supposed to leave for Chicago to go to a wedding we got our
landscaping. It also ended up being one of the driest weekends of the
summer. Despite the sprinklers coming on twice a day while we were gone
I don't think the dogwood got enough water. The leaves are kind of
folded in half, and red on the edges. It definitely got stressed while
we were gone. I've been watering it every evening when I get home. I'm
hoping it will recover.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Weekend Past

Ellie and I got to spend a great weekend in Chicago. We drove down from Michigan on Friday, leaving at about 12:30pm. Normally it takes about 5 hours to get to Chicago. This time it took 7. Things started out smoothly, but as soon as we tried to get on the Skyway (I-90) in Indiana we hit construction. Without droning on and on about traffic (which would probably be more boring to read about than it was to sit in), I’ll say we got to see parts of the city that we hadn’t ever seen. We actually got off the Skyway in Indiana right before the big bridge and got on US 41.

We got to drive through the south section of town, which from appearances is a bit rougher than the part we’re used to spending time in. It was actually a rather neat drive through downtown, rather than the normal race along the Edens Expressway. We drove right along the lake, and eventually got up to Lake Forest for the rehearsal about five minutes after everyone left the church. We ended up going to the rehearsal from there, which was only a few minutes away.

I recall when I was a young tyke and didn’t like sitting around the table at dinner. I never understood what they could sit around and talk about for so long. Somewhere along the way I must have become an adult, because now those are the times I really enjoy. Sharing a drink, and good story, a fine meal. It seems to me now that these are the moments that make life so much more than mundane.

The ceremony was quite nice. It reminded me of what things one should aspire to in marriage, and renewed my desire to work together with Ellie. I was actually a bit disappointed I wasn’t sitting next to her, as I was trying to record portions of the ceremony from a position in the church that wasn’t where everyone was sitting.

The reception was a great deal of fun. It was a bit taxing to drive to downtown Chicago from the north side of town, then to have to drive back that night. Ellie was nice enough to do the driving back to our hotel though. Once again I was reminded of our wedding and how we enjoyed it. It’s only been two years since the occasion, but being at one really refreshed it in my mind.

Sunday was an easy drive back. We stopped in Grand Rapids to see my Dad for Father’s Day. Had another meal (Panera Bread) and some conversation. I’m quite excited for he and Susan’s move to a new place. I’ll be a bit sad that the old house on Northshore is going to be sold, but I’m also realistic about it. I wasn’t going to be moving back, and the house was much larger than my Dad needed. Dad and Susan bought a new place that is in Spring Lake in a little subdivision. It’s set on a nice little pond, has a great three season porch that looks over the pond, and is across the street from the development’s clubhouse. I’m sure Baby C will really like being able to visit there.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Weekend Update

Yesterday was a great day. Ellie and I got up and decided to leave a
bit early to drive to Grand Haven and go to church there, since that
would allow us a few more hours out there with my brother. We had a
nice conversation as we drove.

The mass at St. Patrick's was, in Ellie's and my consensus, mundane.
The funny thing about it was as she and I were driving home I was
about to say "Gee, that homily was just so mundance," but before I
could say it Ellie say almost the same thing. Is this one of those
situations where married couples start to finish each other sentences?

Rob is leaving for Texas A&M some time this week. He doesn't have a
car to get down there yet, nor has he decided on a place to leave. I
teased him that there are probably some nice underpasses down there
that he could stay under. This is just right in line with the way Rob
functions though, and he always seems to come out ok. Mom's house is
coming along too, Rob helped her put down a tile floor in the kitchen.
I remarked that it looked great. There is a lot more left to be done,
but looks like a good start.

Dad's house is undergoing renovation as well. He's going to want to
sell it relatively soon I think, so he repainted the entry way
(white). The house was full of carpenter ants though, a kind of creepy
reminder of how our house was last week. His was worse than ours
though. There must have been 20-30 squashed ones on the top floor. I
didn't bother looking downstairs.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Little, Black, and Creepy

We have an ongoing battle at the house. For the most part I like animals and insects. I love rats, like mice, dogs & cats are great. I get along well with spiders (I like them because they eat flies and mosquitoes), to the extent that when I find one inside I’ll be careful to carry it outside and release it without injuring it. There is only one creature I can think of that I have a serious distaste for: Carpenter Ants.

Of course, that would be what is now trying to set up shop in out house. Monday was probably the first day it was really warm outside. We got home Monday, the evening was moving on. Ellie and I began to make some dinner, but I kept finding ants running around in the kitchen. I probably squashed 5-10 in the kitchen. This bugged (pun intentional) me, but I wasn’t disgusted until I got to the master bathroom. There was probably 10 of the buggers crawling around on the floor. I squashed every one, but they kept coming. Crawling out of now where, coming from behind the shower curtain, crawling one the wall! Agghh! A nightmare for me.

Ellie and I hopped in the truck and drove up to Target, where I picked up some insecticide. When we got home I whipped out the spray gun and walked around the house, squirting the poison along the base of the house where the foundation meets the siding. In the corner of the house nearest the bathroom I saw the creeps crawling up the foundation and going under the siding. I proceeded to thoroughly blast the area with the spray, and squirted the ant holes in the ground for good measure. Any of the little black beasts that crawled around got a hefty dose too. I’m really hoping they didn’t set up a nest in the house.

I suspect they came around scouting for food, and this might have been the start of a “satellite” colony. There is a wooded area behind the house, from which I suspect my invaders are coming from. That’s probably where the main colony is from. After doing some Internet surfing, I decided I wanted to pick up some of this:
  • Bug Whacking Kit
  • . Unfortunately Ellie nixed it, since it’s $40. We compromised and decided to stick with the stuff we already got (bait traps for the house, nasty spray for the foundation of the house) and see if we still have a problem in a few days. If so, then I think I can justify the expense.

    That whole night I was twitching in bed because I kept thinking they were crawling on me. I didn't fall asleep until some time after 1am. We saw one on the bed before we went to bed (the one unfortunately escape the Colin North Crushing Grip O' Ant Death), and I think it got in my head like a 2 years old who saw a scary movie. This time I couldn't chant "It's only make-believe" though.

    Monday, June 07, 2004

    This happened last week. I've been intending to post it and forgetting. Here goes:

    Saturday morning began normally. Marley, our cat, decided she had waited long enough for food and that the humans better start waking up, so she hops up on the bed and starts to loudly announce her presence. We try not to immediately feed her in the morning because it would seem to reinforce this behavior, but yesterday I hopped up and went to the basement to feed her (where her food bowl is). Once I got down there I found that the plastic ware that we keep her food in was empty, so I had to go out to the garage to retrieve some for her.


    On my way back into the house I thought I should give Ellie a kiss to say good morning, so I walked straight back to the bedroom with Marley's food bag in my hand. Only once I got into the bedroom did I notice the holes in the side of the bag, and only because a mouse was wriggling for its life through the hole to escape I am sure it thought was certain doom. Our conversation went something like (I can't recall perfectly, so this is my best attempt at what we said) "Uh oh, there is a mouse in the bedroom."


    Ellie: "WHAAAAAAAAAT! I'M GOING TO KILL YOU COLIN! DON'T BRING IT IN HERE."
    Colin: "It's already in here."
    Ellie(rather frantic, slams bathroom door to keep the mouse out): "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU BROUGHT A MOUSE IN HERE!"
    Colin(sheepish): "It was in Marley's food bag. I just saw it hop out." The mouse is now hiding under a pile of dirty clothes in the corner.


    Now I feel quite bad because I didn't realize Ellie was afraid of mice. I'm not afraid of mice, we had them for pets when I was a young boy and I commonly work with them in the lab.


    I spent the next half hour being outrun by a mouse until it ran under the clothes again. I pushed the clothes down to hold it still, gently picked it up by the tail, and walked to the front door. The mouse got tossed out of the Chez North, and I told him that we didn't want anymore of their type around here. I then proceed to move furniture and vacum the bedroom to try to pickup any scared mouse excrement that had been left behind. Eventually Ellie settled down, and now life has returned to normal.