We have an old clock in the front foyer of our house that we inherited from Kish’s Mom. It’s a lovely piece of craftsmanship from days gone by, with careful wooden carvings and delicate clockwork mechanisms. It’s a bit temperamental, too. It needs to be wound, pursuant to a yellowed set of instructions kept inside the clock cabinet, and only Kish can do it in precisely the right way.
But what I really like about the clock is its sound. On a morning when I wake up early and come downstairs, like this morning, the sounds of the clock fill our quiet, darkened home. The steady ticking, the whirring made when the hour or half hour are ready to be struck, and finally the hollow gong that marks the passage of another 30 minutes — these are reassuring sounds that are good company for the early riser.
Ask not for whom the clock chimes. Why, it chimes for me!
There are tangible benefits to having a talented artist in the family.
Yesterday Russell presented us with a combination birthday/Mother’s Day present: this very cool granite piece for our backyard flower beds. He made it using a machine that project a stream of high pressure water and a sand-like substance and can cut through just about anything. The shaped pieces of granite then fit together to form this beautiful three-dimensional sculpture that shines brilliantly in the morning sunshine and changes in feel and appearance as the sun moves across the sky and shadows play upon its surface. We love it and think it fits perfectly in our yard.
We returned from our brief trip to Austin to find our bushes blooming, bees buzzing around the plants, the smell of freshly applied mulch heavy in the air, a gentle breeze, and a warm sun to heat the backs of our necks.
It is an absolutely perfect spring day in central Ohio. Masters be damned! I’m sitting outside and reveling in the best weather we’ve had in forever.
We have a tiny, pod-shaped patch of grass in our backyard, and right now it’s got about the worst case of yard mange you’ve ever seen. One area appears to have died entirely, experiencing complete plant structural collapse into a kind of hard brown thatch with only a few healthy grass plants here and there. Elsewhere we’ve exposed section of dirt and grass plants with colors ranging from a kind of puke yellow to a sickly green. Let’s just say it’s not the kind of lush grassy field that makes you want to walk barefoot and lie on your back watching the the clouds drift by.
The culprit is a wet winter, with lots of unpredictable temperature spikes and drops — and our little dog, Kasey. The back yard is Kasey’s preferred pre-bedtime venue, and the tiny size of our yard means her efforts have had a much more concentrated impact than would be the case in a bigger suburban yard.
Time to call in the professionals!
Last night when we got home from dinner we heard one of the most reviled sounds ever heard in an American household: the once-a-minute “chirp” that tells you that your smoke alarm battery is dying.
At least, the smoke alarm manufacturer calls it a “chirp” — but it’s nothing like the happy, carefree, burbling utterances of songbirds in springtime. No, the smoke alarm “chirp” is more like fingernails on a chalkboard or the insistent barking of a hungry dog. It’s a sound consciously designed to be so incredibly annoying that after a while you can’t stand it any more and must act immediately to stop it.
Smoke alarm manufacturers realize the “chirp” must be as annoying as possible because the act you need to perform to stop it is even more reviled. No one, but no one, is eager to change the batteries on their smoke alarms because it’s never a simple process. Let’s see … which chair is likely to be tall enough to allow me to get to the alarm if I teeter on the arm and really stretch? And once I’m up there, figuring out how to unlock the alarm from its lofty perch so the battery can be changed is a pain in the ass. Even worse, the batteries for the alarms are always tucked away in some weird configuration. Our unit had the batteries in a kind of sliding drawer that didn’t fully extend, requiring me to use a table knife to extricate the batteries. Fortunately, this unit took AA units that we actually had in the house — which is a one-in-a-million shot.
And finally, the piece de resistance — reinserting the alarm to its base on the hallway ceiling and relocking it. Every homeowner knows the frustrating reek of failure that usually hangs over this final step in the hated process. Four out of five American homes feature smoke alarms hanging by wires, or bases left empty of the alarms themselves, or bases torn from the ceiling when the homeowner, arms fatigued by being held directly overhead for minute after excruciating minute, finally lost his balance trying to perform the delicate placement, thrust and twist that the manufacturer’s evil engineers require.
Today, at least, the responsible thing got done, without incident or injury. I’m proud to say that we now move forward as a once-again chirp-free household.
We’re reaching the end of the growing season in Ohio — at least, I think we are. You wouldn’t know it by the bright green growth spilling out of one of our planters. This spectacular botanical specimen has long since exceeded the natural boundaries set by its terra cotta home, and now is growing like crazy in every direction: up and across the steps, along the side of the house, on the bannister, and around all of the other planters. You wouldn’t know that the plant is in a pot that is perched on a bench, which is now completely covered by the rapidly growing green leaves.
I’m getting to the point where I wonder what the house will look like when I get home at night — or even whether any house will be visible at all.
This year we decided to do some work to the bed in front of our house. It was okay in its former state, but the bushes were getting somewhat overgrown and we thought the bed had a crowded, cluttered look. So, we decided to eliminate the two-tier design, dig out the big bushes (except for the one right next to the stairs), and go for a more spartan look. In the process, we also decided to expand the brickwork to create a space for a wrought-iron bench and some planters.
We’re happy with the results, which allow you to see more of the house itself and also will give us room to plant some flowers.