I blogged a couple months ago about the tadpole project my son and I undertook. It was a lot of fun for us both—at first. We watched with great excitement as 50 or 60 slimy little tadpoles turned into 50 or 60 slimy little toads. And then the algae started rotting, and the tank started stinking. Then Jack’s bedroom started stinking and the last four toads died. I brought the last three tadpoles back to the koi pond where they started.
Like any kid whose parents let him watch too much TV, Jack is sure he’ll die if we don’t buy him every darned toy he sees advertised. Whenever he gets into one of those greedy hissy fits, I know I’ve been negligent. So I turn off the TV and try real hard to think up another interesting diversion that doesn’t involve his sitting slack-jawed on the sofa.
One product he’s been begging for though seemed like a good idea. It’s the Bugville Butterfly Treehouse, and he was very excited to get one for his birthday last week. I made a quick trip to a local nursery that gives away free caterpillars (no doubt as an inducement to buy their $34 caterpillar/butterfly habitat), and we’re now anxiously awaiting metamorphosis.
So far we have only a couple problems: I passed on the $34 habitat, but bought a $5 parsley plant (our new Black Eastern Swallowtails will eat only parsley and fennel), and a beautiful $15 book to help us identify other caterpillars and butterflies, and plan for our butterfly garden.
The only other thing I’m troubled by is the amount of excrement these little buggers produce. I don’t believe for a minute that Jack’s going to take care of cleaning the cage out daily, so I guess I’ve created another job for myself besides taking care of the dog, the cat, the cat’s disgusting litter box and a tank full of fish.
By the way, that fish tank has three new inhabitants: three baby kois hatched in the algae we brought home with the tadpoles.
Things here in Tallahassee have gone completely Fay-wire. Depending on where the measurements were taken, we received anywhere from 12 to 26 inches of rain from Tropical Storm Fay. For a while there, we were getting two inches an hour—hour after hour.
Last Friday, during the first hours of the storm, a lineman died when a tree fell on him while he worked to repair a downed power line. Another man was killed in a storm-related car wreck. Just a few miles north of us, a 12-year-old Georgia boy—a member of a local aquatics team--drowned in what would ordinarily have been just a dry, shallow ditch. Small businesses are still closed while the owners slog through knee-deep water trying to save undamaged inventory. Farmers have lost their crops and livestock.
Five days after the first of the tropical storm hit town, the rivers have finally crested. We still have major flooding and road closures. Exploding sewer mains have closed several of our main roads, and just today, a hole four feet around and 10 feet deep closed another. There has been major flooding, voluntary and mandatory evacuations and prolonged power outages.
We were lucky at my house and suffered no damage. Immediate neighbors have trees and limbs down. The power in my neighborhood was off for only three hours on Saturday, but because my husband is obsessed by solar power and alternative energy sources, we didn’t suffer a bit. We had lamps, fans, computer, and TV service throughout. It wasn’t a great way for my son to spend his 7th birthday, but it could have been worse.
Not everyone we know was so lucky. One of my husband’s coworkers has (so far) been four days without power. Another of our friends lives in one of Tallahassee’s prettiest neighborhoods, directly across the street from a pond that is the centerpiece of one of the city’s prettiest parks. But until the floodwater recedes, he can access his house only by parking on a side street, and cutting across three of his neighbors’ back yards.
And here comes Hurricane Gustav, slowly building momentum as it heads into the Gulf of Mexico. There’s no telling where it will make landfall, but all indications are that it will be at least a devastating Category 3 hurricane; Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane.
I keep thinking it surely won’t land here; we’re still slogging through a slow recovery from the last storm. It just wouldn’t be fair—as if tragedies ever are. South Florida and the southern Gulf coast have been hit by so many storms, and the mortgage crisis has already crippled that region, so they should be spared, too.
Then I think, maybe it will hit Texas, but they already suffered record-breaking flooding earlier this summer. Louisana? Mississippi? If the weather gods are in the least compassionate, those states should never again be targeted by another storm.
Tallahassee usually escapes the wrath of hurricanes; the last was Hurricane Kate in 1985. Maybe it is our turn. Maybe we were blessed with a tropical storm as a warm-up exercise --no way could you call it a dry run. After Fay, more people will take the warnings seriously and lay in provisions, head for the shelter, or leave town all together.
My genius of a husband has already rigged another portable power supply to keep the refrigerator up and running. And he’s busily putting together similar appliances for four of our friends…just in case. I’m stocking up on canned goods, tarps, etc., but what I really want to do is take my family and head for my friend’s cabin in the mountains of North Carolina.
I've always found astrology pretty entertaining, and there do seem to be groups of characteristics common to people of specific signs. I'm not especially knowlegable though, so I have to ask -- have the stars aligned malevolently to create frustration and despair in my life? Any other Aquarians out there suffering similarly?
For instance, nine months after a fender bender, my husband finally found an affordable headlight lens ($40 versus $400) for my Volvo station wagon. Woo Hoo! But he couldn't figure out how to put it on, so we put it in the shop. They had to remove the bumper to do it, but for $127 it still seemed like a bargain. Woo Hoo!
But they messed up the cute little headlight wipers (it was a used car; I didn't order them), so now they stick straight out and the front of my car looks like a catfish. Not such a big deal though, right? Wrong.
Apparently this has caused some electric/electronic problems, the "Check Engine" light is on, and the thing is running badly...sometimes. Saturday it was giving me the message to "Slow down or shift up" while the "Check Engine" light was blinking frantically. (How do you shift up from Drive?) Turn the car off. Turn it back on. No problem, car runs great again. Woo Hoo!
You can guess what happened when I began the drive to work this morning. So back to the shop it goes.
But that's only part of what makes me think something in the stars has gone retrograde.
We finally started painting the dining and living room. Ceilings first, of course. Woo Hoo! Before we could even get the furniture back in place, we noticed that the paint was peeling off in one corner. No wait...that's paint and plaster. Hey! What's this big wet spot on the sofa? That's right, the AC handler in the attic isn't draining properly, so before we can do any more painting, we have to work on the AC handler and its drain line.
Fortunately, in times of stress, I like to dig into tedious challenging projects like stripping wallpaper. Score it, steam it, scrape it. Works like a charm...usually. Most of the wallpaper (and, oh, was it ghastly wallpaper) came off pretty easily. But not the faux brick stuff on the far wall. Score it again, steam it again. Nothing. Add highly toxic wallpaper remover and steam it again. Nothing. Turns out the sweet old lady who owned the house before us applied contact paper to the walls. Not even Goo Gone will get it off. (Why would I be surprised...it didn't take off the glue she used to put down carpeting in the bathroom, either.)
Unable to withstand any more frustration, I did a little internet research, and apparently there are a lot of daft people out there using contact paper on the walls! The trick to removing it? Apply heat. And, good news, I own a blow dryer! Woo Hoo!
At least I used to own a blow dryer. I burned it up removing contact paper at 11:00 last night. Still...only a little more contact paper to get off the area above the cabinets and I'll be done! Blow dryers are cheap. We'll just tile over all the paint and plaster that came off with the contact paper. No biggie. And the burns on my hands will heal in just a couple more days.