Monday, March 19 2012
Today several Phoebes arrived from wherever they go in the winter. The change from general silence and the sound of wind to constant declarations of "Phoebe!" changes the ambience of the outdoors noticeably, as does the arrival of mosquitoes (which showed up about two days into this freakish warm spell).
At one point today I heard Ramona the dog barking loudly, so I ran downstairs and found one of the Phoebes had flown into the house and was trying to escape through a closed window. I managed to capture the little guy in my hands, take him outside, and let him fly away. He flew to a branch maybe thirty feet away and continued to make his distress call ("Peep! Peep! Peep!").
Meanwhile Ramona has been digging holes in the garden, which doesn't bother me except for all the dirt she's been throwing on the cars and onto the bluestone path. One of the main advantages to having a bluestone path is that it makes it difficult to track dirt into the house. So today when I caught Ramona digging in the garden, I scolded her with a stern "No!" and she evidently got the message, because the next hole she dug was in the yard. She dug all the way down to bedrock, which sounds impressive except for the fact that the soil was only about five inches deep at that spot.
At first Eleanor had seemed somewhat non-plussed to have a new canine sister. But in recent days she and Ramona have been spending lots of time playing. This involves lots of simulated mouth-to-mouth combat, complete with gentle bites, fake wrestler tackles, and plenty of sneezes so everyone knows it is in good fun. Eleanor, though, has also been coughing a lot lately, particularly when playing, so today we had Eileen the vet come out and take her off to an office where xrays could be performed. The result was that Eleanor has a slightly-enlarged heart (which could account for the coughing) but it wasn't anything serious.
Gretchen had wanted to give me a blacksmithing class for my birthday, but the class ended up being canceled for lack of students. So instead Gretchen had ordered me an expensive gift that I'd playfully asked for, a hobbiest 3D printer called a Makerbot Thingomatic. At $1100, a Makerbot is an expensive toy. But I've been making good money at my web development job, so why the hell not?
The Makerbot arrived at the post office today and the box was so big that the mail man gave us a slip telling us to pick it up. I hadn't looked at the slip carefully, but when Gretchen got home and did, she saw it was the Makerbot. This was only about two minutes before the post office closed, and it's about three miles away. I found myself driving 65 miles per hour down Hurley Mountain Road while Gretchen called down to be sure they'd stay open a couple extra minutes. The post office woman was taking down the American Flag as I arrived, but there it was, the Makerbot.
Back at the house, I opened the box and stared with dismay at the bags containing hundreds of bolts, nuts, motors, and various electronic bits and pieces. Then there was all the laser-cut plywood that would form the Makerbot's chassis. Where to begin? "It was nice knowing you," Gretchen declared as she went off to watch teevee. I wouldn't be watching Jeopardy tonight, that was for sure.
Following the online instructions, I managed to build the first big component, the automatic build platform (complete with conveyor belt allowing pieces to be ejected as they are built so the next thing in the queue can then be built.
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