Monday, September 29, 2008

I Feel Accomplished

I'm not sure whether I should be embarrassed or proud. I mean, it doesn't reflect too well on my housekeeping skills, but at the same time, how many green thumbs do you know who can grow something in their sink drain??



I think it's a tomato. We often wash Zachary's hands and face in the bathroom sink downstairs and he likes tomatoes, so lots of tomato seeds have washed down that drain. Tomatoes are fairly easy to grow (at least, they rarely fail to sprout), so that's my guess. We'll never know, though. After taking the picture I pulled it out and threw it away.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Snake Update

We learned from some friends at church that the black snakes are very territorial and will eat other snakes, including venomous ones. I did some research online, and I'm pretty sure our little "friend" is a Black Racer. There are more pictures here. Nothing I've read online says that they'll eat venomous snakes, so I don't know if it's true or not. I haven't seen it since yesterday morning.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Our Newest Resident

Our newest resident is an unwanted one.


Beau was quite eager to be let inside the house and when I opened the door I realized why: there's a snake in our yard! It's about 3 feet long and 1/2 inch in diameter. After a little while the snake slithered away and went down a hole in the ground next to our patio. Curtis tried flooding the hole with water, hoping it would drive the snake away.

This morning I went out to get the ladder to return (from trying to get the cat out of the tree). Since the ladder was in the backyard, I decided to go around that way instead of back through the house. When I got to the edge of the patio, there was the snake! He was warming himself in the sun on the grass. He saw me at the same time, which weirded me out a little. I came back in and got Curtis' attention just in time for us to watch the snake go back down "his" hole. Great. It looks like the water didn't drive him away.

I'm pretty sure it's not venomous, since it doesn't have the triangular-shaped head. Of course, that doesn't change our caution level! It just makes us feel better about letting the cat out this morning (Beau, not Riselle. She's grounded. We did let Beau out the front, not the back. We know that he knows how to get around to the back, but it made us feel a little better.)

I wonder if Beau caught it and brought it to the yard? I'm not sure why else it would be here. We're not the closest yard to the wilderness to our north. He has brought us animals before. Remember the chipmunk?

So I've found a couple options after surfing online: We could call a wildlife service to come take care of it, or we could buy a snake trap and remove it ourselves.

So I called Lowe's, to see if they have a snake trap (instead of paying $30 to have one shipped to us.) The gal said they didn't. Then she paused. She asked where the snake was. I told her that one had taken up residence in our backyard. She gave me the following recommendation: Take the yolk out of an egg and insert a fish hook with some line tied on. Tie the line to a tree or something and leave the egg out for the snake to eat. When the snake swallows the egg, it'll be caught on the hook. That's how they used to get snakes out of the chicken coop.

Living in Tennessee is great :) I wouldn't get that kind of service if I called a home improvement store in California!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Never Again

Well, I met my objective: the cat is no longer in the tree and we didn't have to pay anybody to do it! Yesterday morning, during Zachary's nap, I went to see if I could coax her down. I had borrowed a neighbor's ladder, but when I got there, I realized that the ladder was nowhere near tall enough to do any good. I also met the guy whose property the tree is actually on. He had to go to work, so he didn't stick around for very long.

I tried using the hose to spray the cat, thinking it might force her down, but the water didn't reach. While I was out there, a neighbor came out to play with his dog. I went over to talk to him and ask if he had a tall ladder. After a little while he admitted that he did. He brought it out and set it up. It was a really tall, extension ladder. Perfect! I climbed up and continued calling to the cat. She didn't move. I climbed back down. After some time of calling to her from the ground, she got up the courage to move closer to the trunk of the tree. Then she actually got to the branch below the one she'd been on. I was really encouraged! I climbed back up the ladder and kept calling to her. She was now sitting in a fork of the tree quite close, but I couldn't reach her. She showed no inclination to try to move down further. The guy was holding the ladder and suggested I come down and he try going up. Maybe he thought he could grab her, being taller? So he went up the ladder, and he didn't stop on the 4th or 5th rung from the top, like I did. He went all the way to the top, and Riselle was almost within his reach! Unfortunately, she was so scared, she lost bladder control, and then retreated back up the branch. He came down off the ladder and I went up again. This time, I went all the way to the top too. But she had retreated too far, and then she jumped back to the branch she had been on. Silly cat.

So with the cat exactly where she had been when she started, we gave up for the time being. Zachary's nap wasn't going to last much longer, so I had to go in.

After lunch, Zachary went down for his afternoon nap, and I again headed to the tree. I brought a can of food with me, since she was panting and was hungry and thirsty. I thought it might help lure her down. Nope. It didn't do any good. She hardly even looked at me. Her eyes were half closed and she was hardly meowing anymore. I knocked on the guy's door, to see if he could set the ladder back up, but he didn't come to the door. So I just stood in the yard under the tree, holding the open food can, calling to the cat.

After a little while, the guy came out to play with his dog (I wonder if he thought I had gone away again. I didn't hear a car drive up and I don't think he could see me from his house). I asked if he could set up his ladder again, since I had food to try to coax her with. I was afraid for a moment that he wasn't going to, but then he went into his house to get it.

I went up the ladder and held up the food can, calling to her, but she wouldn't look at me. She just sat there, panting. I was rather frustrated! For one thing, why did she go up the tree? Didn't she learn her lesson last time? Secondly, why was she so high? There were lots of branches, why did she think she needed to be on such a high one? And why wasn't she trying harder to get down? I didn't like spending all my Zachary-free time standing in someone else's yard, trying to coax my cat out of a tree!

From the ground, looking at the tree, I started to analyze how close the branches were to each other and how feasible it might be for me to get a little closer to the cat, maybe convince her to try to climb down again. I said something to the guy about, "I wonder if I can get closer to her." He responded, "I don't see how!" So I climbed up the ladder again, but instead of stopping on the top rung, I began to climb the tree. The ladder just reached the lowest branches, so getting into the tree wasn't very hard at all. I got to the branch she had climbed down to and positioned myself so I had one arm free. I began calling to the cat and reaching for her. She moved closer to me, yay!! I continued coaxing and she continued her slow progress until she could sniff my fingers and then I could pet her head. Soon she was close enough that I managed to pick up her.

So there I was, way up in the tree, holding on with one hand and holding a cat with the other. Let me make sure the picture is clear in your head. This is a very tall tree. I'm easily 50 feet in the air. The tree has several branches, but it's not very dense. If I fell, not much would break my fall. It's not a very large tree, however, and it was a windy day. Every time the wind blew, the tree swayed, significantly. When I thought about it, I completely understood why she didn't want to move! It was really scary! I found myself breathing hard and actually panting! There was a moment of panic when I didn't know how I got up there and I didn't know how I was going to get down. But I, unlike the cat, realized that since I had gotten up, I would be able to get down. The moment passed.

I started to think through my descent and realized that I could not do it with a cat in my arms. I needed both hands free to get down. I said something to that effect to the guy on the ground. His advice was, "Well you gotta. You gotta get down." I considered dropping the cat. I was afraid she would be hurt by the bushes, though, and abandoned that thought. I also realized that someone had come out of the one of the houses, so I had two onlookers. She was a little more helpful and suggested I put the cat on the branch that I was sitting on. After a little maneuvering, I got her to hang onto that branch and then I repositioned myself below, intending to pick her up and repeat the process. As I picked her up, she kinda grabbed onto me and climbed on my shoulders, but didn't seem to want to jump to any branch. "Hmm," I thought, "this could work."

With the cat sitting on my shoulders, leaving both hands free, I climbed back down to the ladder. A couple times the cat tried to sink her claws into the tree, but I managed to keep her on my shoulders. I got to the ladder and climbed down. When I was almost at the bottom she jumped off of me and headed straight for the dense bushes. I was not the least bit concerned. The guy was holding the ladder for me and didn't say much. I don't think he knew what to say. It's not every day you see a cat so well-behaved!

I'll tell you though, I never want to do that again!! Don't get me wrong, I used to love to climb trees! There's something exhilerating about getting up there all by yourself and being so high up. But I never want to climb down with a cat clinging to me. Not only was I concerned with getting down without falling, but I was constantly worried about her (a) jumping back up into the tree, (b) losing her balance and digging her claws in worse than she already was, or (c) causing me to lose my balance and both of us fall out of the tree. It was absolutely nerve-wracking. Climbing down a tree requires looking around to find the best place to put your foot, but with a cat, you don't have the same freedom of movement because you don't want her to jump or fall. A couple times, I was blindly reach with my foot, uncertain of where the branch was, and hoping my foot would find it!

So, the cat is out of the tree. She came right home and filled her belly. We haven't let her outside since. She obviously didn't learn her lesson, but we've learned ours. She can't be trusted! Time to dig out her harness and leash!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Cat Saga Begins Again

Our little kitty cat didn't come running home for her dinner this evening. Can you guess why not? If you've been a semi-regular visitor I bet you know the answer. That's right, she's stuck in a tree again!! Aargh! Obviously somebody didn't learn their lesson. Either she didn't learn her lesson about trees or we didn't learn our lesson about letting her outside unsupervised. You can read about the previous incident here and here.

At least it's a different tree. She's about as high up as she was last time, but this one has lots of branches. It doesn't look like it would be nearly as difficult to get down. She may be a little traumatized from the last time, because she didn't even try to crawl down when I tried coaxing her down.

The tree is in someone else's backyard. I knocked on the door, introduced myself, explained that my cat is stuck in their tree, and asked if they had a ladder. The guy was on the phone and couldn't be bothered. He just sorta shrugged and pointed at his neighbor's house, I guess suggesting that I ask them for a ladder. As I left the porch to ask the neighbor, he closed and locked the door again. I wonder if he realized that my cat is stuck in HIS tree. He certainly couldn't have cared any less. Fortunately his yard doesn't have a fence, so I don't have to bother him again.

Tomorrow afternoon, if she hasn't come down on her own, I'll try to borrow a ladder from one of our neighbors and see if I can coax her down. The objective this time is to get her down without having to pay someone to do it!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fire-truck

Sometimes Zachary practices walking with his fire-truck and sometimes he likes to sit on it. More often he'll face backwards on it; I think it's easier for him to get on that way.

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Video taken 09/22/08; Zachary is 12 months

Monday, September 22, 2008

Out of Gas

Have you ever watched the movie The Mummy? Remember the scene where the flesh-eating scarabs clean a human body down to the bones? I was reminded of that scene while driving around Nashville this weekend, except instead of bones being sucked dry, it was gas stations. By Sunday afternoon, there was not a gas station in the entire city with any gasoline.

Here's what happened: Nashville is at the end of a pipeline coming from Houston, TX. When the hurricane came through Texas, Houston lost power. So the refinery wasn't sending any gas through the pipeline. It took a while to affect us, but this weekend, Nashville ran out of gas. Now, normally, when the demand far exceeds the supply, the price should go up. That's basic economics. However, because of "price gauging" laws and fear of public outrage, the gas stations didn't dare raise their prices. So instead of everyone being able to get a few gallons in their cars to make it another couple of days (albeit at a higher price) some people filled their tanks completely while others are out of luck. Absurd.

By the way, if anyone's a Firefly fan, did you catch the reference in the title?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Walking!

Zachary's first steps! In the first video we try to help him stand some more. In the second he takes two steps!





Videos taken 09/14/08; Zachary is 12 months

Friday, September 19, 2008

Standing

Zachary's learning how to stand on his own, with Daddy's help. (By the way, notice our new gate blocking off the kitchen area. It's a "Super Play Yard" we got off of Craigslist for 1/3 of the retail price!!)

By the end of this video, Zachary decides it's more fun to NOT stand.


He stands for a couple seconds in this one! After that we have "gumby legs"

Videos taken 09/11/08; Zachary is 12 months

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's The Coffee

Last week (I think it was Thursday) my coffee made me really dizzy. So I didn't have any for the next few days. I was plagued with headaches (withdrawals) and didn't get very much accomplished. This morning I had a cup (or two) and I'm so full of energy! I feel like I can accomplish anything today. Everywhere I look, instead of being overwhelmed by the clutter, I feel empowered to take it on! The headaches and lack of energy aren't worth it, and I don't care that I'm addicted - coffee helps me get things done! (I did try black tea in the morning and it did not have the effect that coffee does.) Besides, aren't there health benefits to drinking a cup or two of coffee every day?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sweet Kitties

I went in to check on Zachary (who was supposed to be napping but was quite wide awake) and there were two kitties in the room with him! Neither one usually hangs out in there, whether Zachary's in there or not. One was on the changing table (and is still there) and the other was on the rug. So sweet of them to keep Zachary company while he naps!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Vroom vroom

Zachary will tip a stool over and sit in it to play with something. I pointed it out to Curtis while I was making dinner and he made a comment that Zachary thinks it's his little car. This gave him an idea....

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Video taken 09/11/08; Zachary is 12 months

Do you see the orange thing in Zachary's mouth? That's his favorite "people". He got a whole bunch of old-style Fisher Price people for his birthday. His favorite one is the wooden, orange one. I guess the wooden ones taste better? As a Cutco rep who educates customers on how porous wood is, I can guess why.... I also find it fascinating that it's the only orange one. We call it a "spigot" because when it's in his mouth, he drools uncontrollably! As you can see in the video, he doesn't give it up easily.

Beau Cat

Beau was feeling in a friendly mood! He doesn't usually hang around (unless we're watching a movie, then he MIGHT curl up with us). But I guess the lure of chewing on baby toys was too much for him. I couldn't believe he actually let Zachary "pet" him! And he let him do it long enough that I was able to film it!!

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Curtis is blowing in Zachary's face and making him laugh. I don't know why Zachary thought it was so funny!

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Birthday Toys

Just show the boy once how to do something....

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Video taken 09/08/08; Zachary is 1 year old! (as of 09/09/08)

Silly Boys

I love how Zachary mimics Curtis! Too cute.

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Utensils

Zachary's about had it with letting us feed him. Either he feeds himself with his hands, or he plays with his fork.

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Video taken 08/26/08; Zachary is 11 months

Water Baby

Zachary found a puddle of rainwater and was just too happy to splash in it! His t-shirt was soaked. (and if you think the diaper looks funny, you're right. The velcro on the diaper cover wasn't holding well.)

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Video taken 08/26/08; Zachary is 11 months

New Toy

Zachary got a new toy to help him learn to walk.

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Videos taken 08/25/08; Zachary is 11 months

Petting Zoo

Zachary loved the petting zoo at the Wilson County Fair. The high pitched squeals in the video are from him!

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Video taken 08/16/08; Zachary is 11 months
Our 5 year Anniversary!

Pianist

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Video taken 08/15/08; Zachary is 11 months

Saturday, September 6, 2008

First Birthday Party

Zachary's first birthday party was a success! We broadcasted live via ustream.tv and had 10 computers watching the stream! We even had a microphone set up so everyone could hear what was going on, although it's not a very high quality mic. We recorded the whole thing. It should start playing automatically at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/all-about-zachary If it doesn't, it's the most recent clip. I'll get pictures up at shutterfly soon!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Live video

Okay, we're trying something new. Since we have a webcam, I thought we'd try streaming live video. I found a website and got everything hooked up. The URL is http://www.ustream.tv/channel/all-about-zachary. If there's nothing live being broadcast when you go to the link, there are a couple video clips from earlier today. I don't have a microphone, so no audio at the moment. We might have one around here somewhere. What do you think?