And a Kitten Named Phoenix

October 9, 2021 4:42 pm

Two weeks after we picked up London from the shelter Jess brought home another kitten, Phoenix, that she couldn't live without.

She's a total scaredy cat. She hid behind the dryer in the laundry room for most of her first 48 hours at home. Then Jess used cardboard to block it off and forced her out into the rest of the house. It took several days, but she eventually became more comfortable in the house. She's still a scaredy cat though. She'll let Jess and me pet her if she's in the right mood, otherwise she'll bolt if anyone gets close. After the girls go to bed, and the house calms down a bit, she'll come sit next to one of us.

She and London had a difficult time at first. London was not interested in having a new cat in her territory. There was a lot of hissing and we've been keeping them separated to try and make the bulk of the house into neutral territory. And we seem to be making progress. London has switched to being more playful and less aggressive. Phoenix still mostly runs away though.

Here's each of them today after chasing each other around for a while:

A Kitten Named London

September 18, 2021 4:56 pm

A couple weekends ago we went to the county animal shelter and looked at the cats and kittens they had that were looking for homes. We picked out a tuxedo kitten (~3 months old) and Jess brought her home on Wednesday after she was spayed.

The girls have been ecstatic. Heather went into research mode and checked out books from the library all about cat behavior, how to play with them, how to care for them, and how to train them.

Her name in the shelter was "London" and we decided we better keep it to avoid an endless argument about what her name should be.

She came from the shelter litter-trained (yay!), with most of her vaccinations, and micro-chipped. But she seems to have picked up an illness before coming home because she's been sneezy, a little snotty, and a little lethargic. But we had her checked out on Friday and she seems to be doing a little better today. The vet prescribed some antibiotics and she gave my leg a good scratch while we were trying to give her the first dose (one of her hind legs got loose), but we're figuring out the trick to getting it done without blood.

She likes me (or at least my body heat) and will happily snuggle up on my lap or against my legs while she naps. She'll happily nap next to Jess too. She's still getting used to the girls and the girls are still getting used to her. They're a little too excitable and fast moving to make her fully comfortable.

Here she is sleeping next to me this morning, before her flower collar arrived:

Fort Bragg 2021

August 21, 2021 4:10 pm

Back in May things were really looking up. Jess and I had been vaccinated. Infection rates were declining. We were optimistic about being able to take a small vacation over the summer since we've done mostly nothing since March 2020. I looked to book a room at the motel we like in Fort Bragg and their first availability was in mid-August. So we booked it.

Then the summer actually happened and we watched as vaccination levels stalled out and infection rates soared with the delta variant. So we became a little hesitant about taking our trip, but our plans were to be outside pretty much the whole time except for our motel room and so we decided to go for it.

We drove out to Fort Bragg on Friday, Aug 13. We made it to Oakland before Jess was feeling really carsick so we got off the highway and stopped so she could get out, recuperate, and take some Dramamine. Then we sat in a lot of traffic all the way through Santa Rosa for some reason. We eventually made it out there, got checked in to the motel, walked along the beach a little, and ordered a pizza to eat in our room for dinner. The county had a mask mandate in place and compliance levels seemed to be fairly good.

The motel wasn't serving breakfast, so breakfast on Saturday (and every other day) was toaster strudel, cereal, and yogurt that we brought with us (we brought a toaster). Saturday morning we had a reservation to ride the pedal cars on the Skunk Train railroad. I picked up some sandwiches from Subway and packed them for lunch and we rode the rail line up into the woods. The bikes have electric assist-motors so it was quite pleasant to pedal along up into the woods away from the noise of town and not get too worn out while doing so.

The company that runs the tours is building a little event space in the woods that's really only accessible by rail. We stopped there to eat lunch while they turned our cars around for the return trip. Minus the construction noise, it was a really nice spot. Deep in the woods and shady. We ate our lunch at a picnic table and then walked around for bit until it was time to head back.

Since the rail lines fall under DHS/TSA railroad regulations we were all required to wear masks while on the ride, which is probably a bit silly since we were quite well spaced out, but presumably the railroad regulations were written with passenger cars in mind and not bikes, so, whatever. It really wasn't a big deal, because wearing a mask isn't a big deal in the first place.

Once we returned from our ride we walked down to the ice-cream shop for dessert, then back to the train depot to look at the gift shop (once their next train ride left so it wasn't crowded with people). Then we went back to the motel and down to the beach.

After some time of playing about, Corinne got knocked over by a wave she didn't see coming and needed to head back to the room to warm up. So Jess took her up and I stayed with Heather for a while longer digging a hole ('cause that's what one does at the beach, I guess).

Dinner was burgers from Jenny's Giant Burger eaten hunkered down in our motel room.

On Sunday we went out to the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, which is a regular destination when we go to Fort Bragg. We walked around for a while and then went looking for lunch. Heather continues to successfully grow in her garden.

After bailing on a couple of options due to being crowded with nowhere outside to eat we ended up in the slowest McDonald's drive-thru lane ever. I think it took over 30 minutes to get through. We took the food back to the motel to eat.

Then it was more beach time for the girls while I napped in the room. We had more pizza for dinner and another trip to the ice-cream shop. Then we walked along the trestle bridge after dark as a novelty for the girls who are rarely up after dark much less out and about.

Monday morning we packed up and checked out. We stopped at Glass Beach to look around. This is an area of beach which use to be a garbage dump. Now timthough by the time we were ready to leave it was about lunch time so we ate our one and only meal in a restaurant. There were only two other customers in the restaurant (which was a "full-size" restaurant, lots of space) and they had signs like this up, which actually made me feel better that they were taking things seriously:

We had our lunch and then drove home. And that was our trip. Our only real vacation for 18 months. And it looks like that's going to be true through quite some more time now.

School starts on Tuesday--thankfully with a mask requirement in place and vaccination requirements for the teachers/staff. Given how much exposure the girls are likely to get this year since the classrooms will be at regular capacity for full days we bought the girls some new masks that are supposed to help protect themselves from others as well as protecting others from themselves. Finding certified masks is a crap shoot--especially looking for things that fit kids properly, but the masks we bought don't seem like they can be worse than the ones they've been using. They fit more snugly at least.

Hopefully the emergency authorization for the vaccine for kids 6+ gets approved soon and we'll be able to have the girls vaccinated before too long. Maybe even get to go trick-or-treating for Halloween.

Megan's Family Visits

August 7, 2021 7:17 pm

Megan and Chad drove their family across the country in what I can only assume was their own personal version of "Organ Trail" (the zombie-apocalypse-parody game of Oregon Trail--traverse the country, avoid the infected swarms).

I took Wednesday off of work and we met up with them in Fairfield. This would have been before Jess ended up in the ER that evening, see the previous post for that story.

We did the self-guided tour of the Jelly Belly factory:

After the tour we went to Fentons in Vacaville for lunch. It was not apparent to us before ordering our ice cream that their sundaes are massive. So we ended up with a lot of ice cream, but we made a valiant effort to eat what we could. So note, Fentons sundaes are to be shared by at least two people.

After lunch we spent a little time at Nut Tree Plaza in the shopping center where Fentons is. They have a little train to ride, a carousel, a playground, and a real old-fashioned, injury-inducing, merry-go-round. On the carousel, Corinne's wildest dream of riding a flamingo came true:

The high temperature in Fairfield was forecast for 83F, which would be fairly pleasant. I made a mistake in assuming that Vacaville (10 miles north) would be about the same. But Vacaville was 99F and so hanging out at Nut Tree Plaza lost its charm fairly quickly. Once we'd had our fill of the heat we headed back to Livermore and Megan's family headed back to Elk Grove.

New Floors!

July 5, 2021 11:50 am

After almost 9 years, the task to replace the worn-out carpet in the living room & hallway as well as the peeling-up roll-vinyl in the kitchen finally found itself at the top of our priority list for home improvement projects. We also did the hall bathroom and the laundry room.

After several weeks of research we narrowed down the product line to a Luxury Vinyl Plank product in a faux-wood finish. It looks good, has a nice non-plastic feel to it, and is supposed to be super durable.

In terms of color we would have liked something light, but warm. Apparently warm is not fashionable at the moment and "greige" (grey/beige) is. So we considered a bunch of options looking for something with a grain we liked, a beveling we liked, and a color we could live with. We saw some really nice colors in the showroom only to discover that in our own lighting they looked very different.

We eventually picked a Shaw Floors product which is branded as "Invincible H2O - Charleston Place Plus - Coastal Path" by Carpet One. It's marketed as waterproof and virtually indestructible. It's warrantied against tears, rips, gouges, stains, cracking--pretty much everything for as long as we own it.

But enough of the text, on to the pictures!


As they began ripping up the carpet in the living room and hallway, we discovered that underneath was old hardwood in a nice honey stain. It was in not terrible shape, but not great either. Out it came so the floor could be leveled properly for the LVP. And $1000 worth of OSB later, the subfloor was ready to go.

I was still working out of my closet and the hall bathroom was torn apart, so we all did a lot of climbing in and out of our bedroom window to get around the house.


The bathroom needs to be finished by having the pedestal to the sink reinstalled and the transitions from LVP to carpet need to be finished, presumably that will get done next week.

A whole lot of stuff got stashed in the garage and our bedroom during the project. And since the house was already torn apart, and it was very apparent how filthy the carpets were, I rented a carpet cleaner on Friday and spent Saturday getting everything nice and clean.

Now we just have to put the whole house back together.