Category Archives: House and Farm

Small Towning it

I put a bird feeder up, and made sure that I could see it from my seat at the dining room table, just like the setup I had in our Kansas house. It’s the little things that make a home, don’t cha know. It took about a whole 10 minutes before a Nuthatch showed up and it’s been Chickadee and Nuthatch central ever since. My intention with the bird feeder was to provide an alternate lunch for a certain Downy Woodpecker that’s been rat ta tap tapping on my house. Today Woody finally shows up but really couldn’t puzzle out how to get food out of the feeder. Pecking everywhere on the clear plastic tube, but never in the opening where the seed was. I stood at the window shouting at him “No you idiot! Quit pecking at the clear part, look for the hole, you moron!”

I wasn’t the only one watching this spectacle. The neighborhood Finches were hanging around, with their beaks agape, marveling at a bird that couldn’t find food at a feeder. Picture Helen Keller stuck on a sneeze guard, groping around for the buffet. Finches have notoriously short attention spans and after a full minute of watching this, swooped in, kicking Downey Dunce right off the feeder, who promptly went back to chewing on my house.

Small town living, they said, would be “different” than living in the remote wilds of Kansas. Since we had a stone house in Kansas and couldn’t see our neighbors, if a stupid woodpecker tried pecking at our stones, I don’t think I would have heard it, ‘cause our walls were 2 feet thick. But if I did, I’d dust him right off the house with my kitchen 12 gauge. Not saying I don’t have that same 12 gauge installed in our kitchen here, but the Grove Citians (we live in Grove City, pop 637) frown on that kind of thing in the frozen and civilized North. Comes under the Minnesota Nice rules, which ironically is another dang reason why we can’t have nice things.
All of which has got me singing “All I want for Christmas is a pellet gun, a pellet gun, a pellet gun. All I want for Christmas is something silent and sneaky, so I can wish a retarded woodpecker a Merry Christmas.” Yeah, I was reaching on that last verse, but I’ve always been a function over form kinda guy.

New Zip Code

Yeah, I know, it’s been awhile. Being without internet has certain drawbacks to one’s life style. Oh, who am I kidding, it just plain sucks. You’re left with reading the local papers and watching TV for drawing clues as to how far off into the rhubarb our society has gone. The good news is I still have most of my hair. I had the Mrs cut it short so I couldn’t yank it out while screeching at the boob tube. The bad news is the “Smart” TV has threatened to sue for hostile work place conditions. Such is entertainment in the frozen north.

Yup, we made it to Minnesota in one, slightly bedraggled piece. And a very big thanks to Paul and Julie Sutton and Bill and Carla Barnard for helping to load up a 26 foot U-Haul that got stuffed to the gills with all of our things. Some of the boxes that came out of the back of the shop had been patiently waiting to be unpacked since 1998. I figure they’d waited this long, another couple of months should be no big deal. Just imagine their (the inanimate contents of the boxes) surprise when they find out 19 years have gone by and, what do you know, we’re still in Minnesota, about 7 miles from where they got packed up originally. Probably another hostile workplace in the making. Take a number, buddy and the line starts behind the TV.

So, what have we been doing and where did we land? Let’s answer the second question first. The wife’s mother lives in the little tiny town Grove City, MN. She also has a sister and her husband that live there. And housing is quite affordable in little tiny towns of Minnesota, compared to big, sophisticated places, like say Litchfield. Grove City’s population is 635 and Litchfield’s is around 6648. And Litchfield has grocery stores and modern things like that, hence housing is so much more pricey. So the Mrs told me we are going to live in Grove City. I asked were the grocery store was. She said Litchfield, which is 7 miles to the East. Hmm. As I was starting to give her my frowny face look, she popped up with Grove City has a bar AND a liquor store. Well then, let’s start unpacking.

And that brings up where we are staying. The other day, our insurance guy asked us where we were sleeping or were we just homeless. Sarcasm up here, is as natural as breathing. So, I told him he pretty much nailed it, we are mostly homeless, but insured. If you read the fine print, you’ll find that we are staying with the wife’s sister, for which we are very grateful. Technically, we are homeless until Nov 2nd, when our nephew sells us a house that is currently a rental. Yes, our nephew lives around here too. I figure all the family together has a sizable percentage of the population for this little town. Plus all the people that we know and knew from 20 years ago. The trite little saying of “you can never go home again” might be true, but you can get pretty dang close, if you ask me.

Our soon to be new house was built in the Craftsman style, around 1910 or so. I’ve been told it’s in good condition and still has all the built-ins and woodworking that these houses are known for. 3 bedrooms, 1 bath upstairs and plumbing in the basement for another bathroom. New roof, new boiler, new windows, new block foundation. It also sports 2 one-stall garages and a large yard. One of the big got to haves in Minnesota is living close or on lake. This place has lake side access and a beautiful view of Chicken Lake, so check that one off the list. I honestly have not seen anything but the outside of this house, but my wife assures me I will love it. This is starting to feel like an HGTV segment of let’s buy a house you haven’t seen and, did I mention I ended up selling most of my woodworking tools cause I couldn’t fit them in the moving truck. Do much more with much less, will be the name of the show.

Well, that brings you up to date, without delving into the gnarly details and you’ll have to excuse me, it’s time to yell at the TV again. I just about consider it an aerobic exercise with all the shouting and wild gesturing I end up doing.

Fat Lady wants to sing

And that’s a wrap, folks. All things requested by the buyer are completed. As I was coming off the ladder, a fat diva marched up to me and demanded a stage so she could sing her finale. I told her “Sorry toots, we got no stage and I’m not building one just for you. You can check with the Mrs in the house to see if dishes need done or something useful like that.” You can imagine how that went.

Yesterday, the mail man drove up and wondered just what the heck the long yellow strap was holding down. I told him that it gets windy in these parts and I wanted the roof to stay on until the new owners took possession. It was actually holding my ladder from sliding off the roof. I was going to use rope but these straps hold 3300 lbs and the rope we found was only rated for 200 lbs. Since I had 3 straps, 27 feet each, I hooked it to the ladder and ended up anchoring it to the wife’s vehicle. The chimney install turned into a day and a half of more fun than you can throw a stick at. In fact, so fun, I’d rather not do that particular job again, ever.

At the end of the first day I made sure the wife knew not to drive off without checking first to see if the car was connected to the house. She assured me that that would never happen, but earlier in the day, we saw a picture on the internets of some chick driving down the freeway with a gas hose still connected to her car. The wife then told me she almost did that once, hence my harping about making sure to drive away without dragging the house down the road, with her.

So yeah, I know, it’s been awhile since I posted anything. I’ve been busting my butt to get done and get outta here and not much time for anything else.

About a week ago, started training the dog to put away his wild coyote ways and transition him into a town dog. The first few days were confusing, but he’s always been good about learning new things and so far, he’s still a good boy. He developed a habit of mournful howling when he got left outside and wanted to come in. Since my idea of a town dog is a good boy and quiet to boot, we bought a training collar that prevents barking. It’s from the same people that made a training collar for long range control. We’ve already been through that program and this new collar is just like the old collar. Since dogs think somewhat logically, dog logic, this new collar, in his mind is the old collar with new features. The moment I put it on him, he became A Good Boy. Meaning, no running off, smelling this or that. Just sticking close and listening to me.

I have been putting it on him first thing in the morning and it wasn’t until yesterday morning that he discovered the new, no bark or howl feature. The collar has a learning algorithm and steps up the correction only if it needs to. Ole Sweet Pea was outside, in the early morning dark and decided to mournfully howl, just a bit to express his displeasure at being left out too long. I was upstairs, putting some heat on my back and heard him start his routine, which suddenly cut off, after about the third note. He didn’t make a peep after that. And since the collar had learned his voice, today when he tried to howl, he got a half howl out and stopped. Since he’s not yelping, I know he’s getting a vibration that doesn’t hurt him. Just like the other training collar. So we’ll end up with a good boy that’s quiet and well behaved and everybody else’s dog will be barky, jumping on ya, and general pains in the butt. Living in town is like that.