Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Going Batty

They're back. The bats, I mean.

We've always had a few in this house; they've generally made their home in the garage rafters safely tucked away from view. Every now and then we'd see one, bouncing up against the window into the garage in pursuit of insects. (Really, don't ask--I know it's not normal to have a window looking out into one's parking structure, but that decision was made long before we moved in.)

It's not a huge deal to me that we have bats in the garage, though it does get annoying to find bat poop and pee all over everything that lives out there. The bad part is that somehow they seem to occasionally find their way into the house, and once they're in, they can be a bear to ferret out.

It's not so bad if you catch them when they're flying; Emily's broom handling makes Barry Bonds look like a sissy. But they only fly late, late at night, and hole up during the day. If you're lucky, you can find a concentration of droppings and locate their hidey-hole that way. Or you can make a bunch of noise and if you're lucky they'll hiss at you in return. But mostly, you just have to resign yourself to the fact that while you're snoozing, they're running around your house, dancing techno or hunting insects or whatever they do. But mostly pooping and peeing.

So they're back, as witnessed by the spoor left in our under-construction family room. And I feel like Jack Lemmon did in Grumpy Old Men, that these Walter Matthau-esque bats are the bane of my existence, that no matter what I do, no matter how many I catch (and I do catch them--in fact, I've got one in a jar in my freezer as I type), they'll always return to laugh at me.

At least I haven't gone so far as to do what some friends of ours have done. After finding bats in their house, and after learning that they can carry rabies, they went through the entire sequence of rabies shots. Yikes.

Headed for South Dakota

Tomorrow, Emily and I leave for the great state of South Dakota. We're headed to the Black Hills, where we'll participate in the Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon. It's a marathon run on a rails-to-trails gravel path, that finishes in downtown Deadwood. Here's a photo from last year's marathon:

As you can guess, it's more scenic in SD than it is here in central Illinois. I'm really looking forward to running through the trees, alongside swiftly flowing water, through cool mountain air.

One of the advantages of the rails-to-trails route is that when the path was laid out some hundred-odd years ago, avoiding hills was the primary motivation. It's just too hard to get a train to climb steep or rolling hills. But hills are hills, and you can't wish them away, so the compromise that was reached for the 26 miles I'll be running on looks like this:

It's going to be a rough first thirteen miles, but hopefully the last half will make up for it.

Emily and I will also be doing some sightseeing while we're there, including visits to Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument, as well as a full day of looking at other attractions. We'll update you once we return.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Construction Project

We recently decided to remodel the rooms in the back part of the house. The previous owner used these two rooms for his State Farm Insurance offices, and when we moved in, they were decorated with indoor/outdoor carpeting and brown paneling. We painted the paneling as a temporary measure, and are now finally getting around to tackling the rooms head-on.

Currently (or at least as of three weeks ago) the two small rooms are separated by a big closet that hides an old brick chimney. (The sticky-outy corner along the left edge of the photo is the closet.)

We decided to take out that closet and chimney, and make one large room with built-in bookshelves at one end and a woodburning stove at the other (right in between the two windows). And while we're at it, we're reroofing this section of the house.

Don't get me wrong -- when I say "we," I mean the guys we've hired to do all the work.

So things are moving along fairly well. All the walls, flooring, and ceiling are off. The electrician has wired in new lights. And part of the bookshelf is framed.

We've ordered the stove, picked out paint colors (goldstone and lucy, if that means anything to you!), and looked at wood floor samples. And, of course, you can't have a lovely new room with college furniture (which we're still using how-ever-many years later). So we picked out a new couch and love seat.

The construction mess is fairly well contained, though dust manages to filter under doors and seep through plastic sheeting. And everything from those back two rooms is now sitting in our living and dining room, including a couch, two desks, two filing cabinets, and about 700 books. And the cat food, water, and litterbox are now in the kitchen until the basement is accessible again. Yick.

It'll be nice when this project is over...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Emily's New Wheels

Well, it was time...

Emily's little red Honda had 160,000 miles on the ticker, and though we'd still been repair-free, it was becoming obvious that another winter or two would be hard for it to bear. And we were looking for a car with four doors, just in case a "little Grant" happened to come along. So here she is, Emily's new, 2006 Toyota Corolla, affectionately dubbed Yoko:

We got it with two (count 'em, two!) miles on the odometer. And, though we still seem to be unable to spend more than $20k on a car (and believe me, there aren't many cars you can get into for less than that these days), we managed to convince ourselves that power door locks and cruise control were worth the price.

We turned down power windows, though. Didn't want to feel pampered.

We're back!

After a long haitus following the hacking of our beloved alnemgrant.com, we've decided to resurrect our blog. No particular reason. We don't have anything especially brilliant to share. We're not going away for another amazing year in paradise. We just like the idea of a regular venue for communications.

So here we go.