Tag Archives: Collette

Operation: No Snooze

I’m trying to wean myself from┬áthe snooze button. For years, I almost never snoozed – doing so was usually an early indication of impending illness or being up way too late.

But I fell off the wagon a couple of years ago, and with working at home, it’s gotten ugly. One snooze, two, three, four… suddenly I’m waking up 40 minutes later than planned. I started adjusting my alarm time to account for the inevitable snoozing.

I’ve never been a morning person, but this is ridiculous.

So I decided one of my 2012 resolutions is to stop doing this. Sure, 20 extra minutes of sleep is nice, but I could just set the alarm 20 minutes later and know I’ll get up the first time.

Unfortunately, the first week did not go smoothly. Eleven glorious (glorious!) days off work, coupled with the season’s coldest weather, made Tuesday morning kind of brutal. I woke up with the alarm, but laid in my warm, cozy bed, just listening to the radio for 30 minutes, stretching and trying to figure out my next day off. (Memorial Day, unless I take vacation days.) It didn’t help that one of the first things I heard was the newscaster saying the current windchill was -3 degrees. But I didn’t hit the snooze button.

Wednesday took a different turn. When the alarm went off on another very cold morning, I rolled over to turn down the volume, thinking I’d stay in bed until the news ended (about 4 minutes) and then get up. I didn’t know that the cat was curled up against me, as she often does when it’s really cold. I might have kind of squashed her. She didn’t react well, biting my pajama-clad arm as it reached for the alarm. I recoiled my arm, smacking myself in the face nice and hard. A few seconds later, I tasted blood. A bloody nose is really an excellent motivator to get out of bed, however cold. I can’t really blame the cat, though: I wouldn’t react well if something much, much heavier woke me from a dead sleep by crushing me.

Thursday and Friday morning were uneventful: I woke up, turned down the volume, listened to the news while stretching achy muscles, and then got up.

Hopefully, this means I have quickly conquered the snooze button with just a bit of bloodshed.

Which of your resolutions hasn’t gone quite as planned?


The Stuff of Nightmares

I got home late last night and dumped my stuff in the hall. I had been following the Blackhawks’ Game 7 via Twitter and wanted to watch the final period live. As usual, I walked through the mostly dark house to grab some water in the kitchen.

When I walked back through the dining room (the center of my main floor – you have to walk through it to get to any other room), I finally turned on the light. And then I saw the cat puke.

It wasn’t a huge deal, as the cat does occasionally hairball, especially as she sheds her winter coat. And she has a knack for doing so on the dining room rug, just inches from the much-easier-to-clean hardwood.

I grabbed a couple paper towels and the pet stain spray, knelt down, and recoiled in horror.

There were scores – nay, HUNDREDS – of ants crawling in the puke pile. Beyond the pile, the conga line of ants extended at least 3 or 4 feet into my home office.

I had seen a couple scout ants over the weekend and made a mental note to put down traps and shake some of the powder outside, if it ever stops raining. (I’ve been down this road before.) But this meant war.

I corralled the cat and locked her safely into the upstairs portion of the house. Then I went to work, killing the conga line mid-step and scrubbing away all the evidence. I sprayed a bit between the back door and its storm door, and as soon as it stops raining and dries out, I’ll go hunt for a hill in the backyard.

But when I laid down to sleep, I kept picturing the swarm, pulsing and undulating across my dining room. Shudder. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

This morning, there was no evidence of the ants. I’m pretty good about keeping food wrapped up, and they seem to mostly ignore the cat food. Hopefully with some┬ávigilance and the right outdoor chemicals, there won’t be a repeat.

Hoodie Weather

I love hoodies. I love when evenings are just chilly enough to justify cuddling into a nice, fleecy hoodie, but not so cold that the heat needs to be on. Over the weekend, I had the windows cracked open just an inch, letting in the crisp fall air and making a hoodie a must.

At night, with that autumn air sneaking into the bedroom through a barely open window, the cat curls up against me, purring as she burrows into the blankets. The nights are lengthening, and hibernation season is approaching. It’s nearly time to swap out my summer bedding for the winter down, though the flannel sheets will come much later.

I spent yesterday walking through Bluff City Cemetery as part of Elgin’s annual Historic Cemetery Walk. As we followed our period-dressed guide through the cemetery, leaves crunching under our sneakers, we shuddered when the sun hid behind the clouds and the wind picked up. We climbed the hills to hear tales of those who shaped Elgin, and it grew chillier as evening approached and the clouds thickened. I was wearing a hoodie over a long-sleeved tee, but found myself wishing I had grabbed a thicker version as I pulled my hands into the sleeves.

The one downside of fall is that hoodies usually also require socks, and I hate having my feet enclosed. This year won’t be as foreign to my feet, as I’ve worn socks for running all summer.

For now, I’ll enjoy my hoodies. I am not nearly as enthusiastic as parka weather!

What’s your favorite time of year?

Basement Gaps

Collette LOVES the gaps in my basement walls. I’m always afraid she’s going to get trapped some day! I’ve sealed up some of the worst offenders, but every now and then, when coming downstairs, I’ll suddenly see eyes peering at me from the ceiling.

More windows

One week into summer (going by the Memorial Day standard), I’ve got nearly all of my windows at least quasi-operational. Yesterday, Don helped me with the living room window which, while pretty (its wood is stained to exactly match the rest of the living room), is a trainwreck as far as operation is concerned. The sashes are so old that it doesn’t reliably stay up without the aid of a stick – a concern due to the cat.* This is also one of the worst as far as wind and cold leakage, compounded by its location directly behind the couch. Opening it in the summer requires a delicate ballet of sliding the storm window up to balance on top of the new screen – all while holding the window itself up so it doesn’t come crashing down. Plus, to reach it, I have to balance on the back of the couch. Having a second set of hands is immensely helpful.

The only windows still not operational are the upstairs bathroom which is still sealed shut (and also sashcordless), one of the paired back hall windows (which has a horribly rusted and broken screen), and the larger of the office windows (which has no fitting screen). Oh, and there’s one more in the back hall that I can’t reach, since it’s perched above the stairs, so it’s a moot point anyway.

I plan to scrape the last of the removable caulk from the upstairs bathroom, though I hope to soon have the money to completely replace the whole bathroom. The way the window’s frame is bisected by the wall with the shower plumbing, replacing that window requires a ton more work – one that a new bathroom can fix.

Overall, by my count, I have four new windows in the house (two each in my bedroom and the kitchen), six old ones in the main living area, two in the basement, and a whopping eleven geriatrics on the porch. The living room window is first on the list for replacement, and I’ll also replace the two cracked window panes on the porch. From there, it’s up to budget.

*Right after I moved in two years ago, the cat was hanging out in one of the porch windows that we knew was sashless but “seemed to stay in place just fine,” in the words of my ex. One morning, we heard the most blood-curdling yowls. The window had fallen and trapped Collette. In her haste to escape, Collette’s back paw had gotten stuck in the window, and she was hanging, dangling, flaying her other three paws against the wall, trying to get traction. Once we freed her, she slinked off to drip blood all over the new carpet and didn’t walk normally for a couple weeks. To this day, she occasionally stops and shakes out the affected paw – I think it was likely a broken toe. Since then, if a window lacks operational sashes, it either remains shut or is firmly propped into place.


I have more ants. Last weekend’s attempted destruction of the giant ant hill and its satellite barely slowed them down – they’ve rebuilt in full, and I daresay they’re even bigger. Last night, I spied a handful of ants in the dining room, along the baseboards, carrying a crumb of food. I discovered my can of ant spray was empty, so I Windexed them to death.

This morning, while brushing my teeth, I looked down into the backyard from the guest room and could plainly see the larger ant hill from my window.

This means war.

I went to Home Depot and bought weapons for a triple-pronged approach: good old-fashioned spray (“kills on contact!”), bait traps and some powdered poison that supposedly will take out the hills once and for all. Hopefully tomorrow will be rain-free so I can bait the hills.

Update Sunday afternoon: While getting ready to head upstairs for the night, I noticed a moving black crumb on the kitchen floor. It was a mass of ants – easily 20 of the little buggers – who had united to hoist a piece of catfood and carry it back to their lair. Now, Collette’s not always the tidiest eater – she often drops a piece or two of food to the floor right outside her bowl – but this was a good 3-4 feet away. Such power!

We sprung into action, first locking the curious cat upstairs, away from the pending poison, along with her food and water bowls. We sprayed all the kitchen and dining room baseboards with the new ant spray, laid down bait traps under the fridge and stove, and called it a night.

Mysterious critters

Sometimes, I come into the kitchen and find Collette sitting on the floor, staring up at the exhaust fan/vent with rapt fascination.

The old-fashioned Air King seems to elicit the same response among my friends: “My grandma has that same fan in her kitchen!”

I’ve never used it all that much, since I’ve never previously had an exhaust fan. Really, I only flip it on when the smoke detector (the one too close to the stove) goes off.

But increasingly over the past couple weeks, Collette’s interest has been piqued by rustling and rattling coming from within the fan. My guess is that some critter is trying to build a nest in the vent part that protrudes outside. I went out to investigate it a couple weekends ago, but learned just how high up it is – I didn’t think about my house effectively sitting half a story above ground level. At the time, the ground was much too icy to consider safely using my ladder to climb up and have a look. Now, the ground’s too soft and muddy – I don’t think I could stabilize the ladder sufficiently to be safe.

Too bad I can’t just send Collette up there. I’m sure she’d take care of the uninvited guest, lickity-split.

There’s a certain slant of light…

I’ve worked from home three days in the last week, nursing my ankle by avoiding the treacherous hill climb. It’s been nice working from home. I’ve burned through a ton of work that requires more quiet concentration than the office can provide, and the extra 90 minutes of sleep has been divine.

Even better, though, is the rare chance to enjoy my house in the sunshine. After such a dreary winter (fourth cloudiest on record, with only 31% of the possible sunshine), it’s been cheering – and revealing – to sit in the house without needing to turn lights on. My home office is particularly sunny, especially with the sun reflecting off the fresh snow. And it’s fun watching Collette migrate from sun spot to sun spot – top of the stairs in the morning, office floor mid-day and then the office chair in the afternoon.

On the flip side, the sunlight revealed gobs of ceiling cobwebs and the extent of the dusty neglect plaguing my bookcases.

Perhaps that’s what Emily Dickinson meant when she said the slant of light on winter afternoons “oppresses, like the weight/Of cathedral tunes.” Maybe she was a lazy housekeeper, too. As a spinster (did she own her home?), did she stay on top of her dusting?


It’s currently three below zero, with a windchill about 30 below. I’ve been in heavy hibernation mode all weekend – other than a run to Meijer for groceries yesterday, I haven’t left the house. I slept way in both days this weekend – 11 on Saturday, 10:30 this morning – took a nap this afternoon, hung out on the couch to watch tv, and yet, I’m exhausted. There were a million house things I could have done – I keep meaning to pull out the fridge and stove and clean behind them, and it’s about time to play musical pictures in the living room – but instead, I did absolutely nothing.

Oh, well. Cabin fever has set in. February sucks.

Time for bed under my pile of blankets. I’m sure the cat will join me and purr the night away.