Sunday, March 30, 2008

March Madness

Here we're looking at the tail end of March and I have not achieved my major project goal for the month. Sigh. I have managed to weed through the books and the movies, but the music is a much larger project than I thought. There is also the possibility that I made it a bit bigger than it needed to be as I decided that all the tunes on the computer fell under the organizational umbrella. I took it upon myself to properly categorize the 7,000+ media files on my computer by their proper genre and make sure the songs all had complete information on year, artist and album. I think I may have bit off a touch more than I could chew on that one. I started out by classifying each song into a specific genre but abandoned that idea rather quickly and just decided to do it but artist. I'm still not done and doubt I ever will be as I keep adding songs on an almost daily basis. Damn you ITunes!

The basement has defeated me. I will admit it right here and now. But honestly, who sees the basement but those of us who live here? It's not THAT big of a thing, right? We did have a bit of a setback, call it a delay, the other day when we realized it was unseasonably warm in the basement. Charlie is the one who tracked the source when he leaned against the brick wall that forms the ash pit for the fireplace and announced it was hot. I'll admit to scoffing at him and thinking he was completely mental but upon checking it out for myself, had to apologize for doubting him. Hmmm, the ash pit is hot, we haven't had a fire for weeks, so what the heck is the deal? Trooping up to the living room and opening the fireplace doors, we discover, much to our dismay, an alarming amount of heat emanating from the fireplace without a flame in sight. Oh dear, might be time to call someone. Fortunately, I live in a town with a volunteer fire department and we know most of the guys quite well so getting someone over was really not a problem. It took him less than a minute to tell us what the problem was (a smoldering fire in the ash pit) and another twelve seconds to let us know there's really nothing to do but let it run its course and enjoy the temporarily lower heating costs. Several days later, we undertook the cleaning of the ash pit. Wow, now there's a project. First of all, I know the previous owners of our house never cleaned the damn thing out. How do I know this? you may ask. I know this because the water heater was installed directly in front of the tiny door that allows you to clean out the ash pit, rendering it un-openable...I think my assumption is a safe one here. So now we have to call both the gas company AND our friendly neighborhood plumbing contractor to move to water heater. Suddenly, this is no longer a free and simple undertaking. In case you're wondering, $250 to have this done. Yippiee. Check written and happy plumber gone, we turned our attention back to the original chore. Dan and Andrew (my older child) are elected to perform this particular task, mainly because I said so and Charlie would have WAAAY too much fun mucking about in a pile of ash. After about twenty minutes and three LARGE garbage bags filled with ash are removed, Dan declared the job not so bad and nearly done. The floor of the ash pit was bare and pretty well swept out, looking good! Then Dan tapped his tiny shovel against the side of the pit and the whole scenario changed. What we had accomplished in those twenty minutes was to carve out a hollow space at the base of a well compacted column of ash. When the base is hollow, the column shall not stand. I bet you can imagine what happened next. The taps of the shovel acted like a tiny earthquake that dislodged whatever remaining integrity the structure of ash had left and the ensuing WHOOSH of collapsing ash was our very own pyroclastic cloud erupting from the basement. The mad scramble for the stairs, both to escape and to get the basement door shut to protect to rest of the house was reminiscent of the stateroom scene from the Marx Brothers' "Night At The Opera". After the dust had (literally) settled, we made our way back into the pit to assess the situation. Oh my...this is a bit of a pickle. Several hours and about a dozen large garbage bags later, we cautiously called it a day. And we've decided that we will be clearing out the ash pit every spring, without fail. I mean it. I am now faced with a difficult decision, do I bag the basement and move on to the April project? Or do I rollover the basement and move April's project to another month? Hrrmmm, gonna have to get back to that one.

In other news, I have a friend who has recently acquired a Myna bird to complete her menagerie that already included three cats, two dogs, several other birds, a couple of horses and a llama (don't ask). At this point, there aren't any fish or reptiles involved, but I can feel it coming. She's thrilled about the bird but I don't think the rest of the critters feel quite the same way. For starters, I think they're a bit jealous (that new toy thing) and the fact that the bird has a rather extensive vocabulary is a little disconcerting for the non-verbal animals in the mix. She thinks it's hilarious that the bird has already learned the dogs' names and likes to call them to come from time to time. I doubt the dogs are as amused as she is about this new trick. I have decided that Terri needs help, and fast. I feel an animal intervention coming on, soon.