A Visit From Ricky

DSC_7552Kids are funny things. So are raccoons.

When my oldest was little — let me interrupt myself here to mention that my oldest turned thirty-six yesterday. Thirty-six! Can you believe it?

Anyway, about thirty-three years ago or so, one of Emily’s favorite books was about a raccoon who used to raid a family’s garbage can until they started putting food out for him. I believe they called the critter Ricky. One of the kids in this fictional family suggested putting food on the living room windowsill in the evenings so Ricky could look in the window and watch TV with the family as he ate. They joked about it being his TV dinner.

2014-01-23 18.08.38
Emily’s World-Famous TV Dinner Spoon

Emily didn’t know what a TV dinner was because the only kind of frozen food she was familiar with was the stuff we raised (or shot or caught on a hook) and put in the freezer. But she started calling her baby spoon her TV dinner spoon, for reasons only she knew.

Remember baby spoons? I guess mothers still use them, but nowadays the spoon’s bowl is coated with a weird rubbery protective stuff. I don’t like them because they’re not as slim and easy to slip into a tiny mouth. Neither the book nor the spoon are pertinent to this conversation, however; I’m just rambling. (And looking for photos to illustrate the post.)

The fact is, I haven’t blogged for a shamefully long time, so I thought I’d share with y’all an interesting experience we had this morning.

It’s winter! (I’m demented enough to consider that a good thing.) It’s delightfully snowy, and the low temperature was about -8 F this morning. Being a dear sweet man, Craig went out to start my car and clean it off before I planned to leave for work. (I’d have done it myself, but he’s nice like that.) He came back in just as I was putting my gloves on — but he came in the front, rather than the back door we usually use. Because when he’d gone out the back door earlier, he was accosted by a raccoon, and he thought it best if we both used the front door instead.

This is not a raccoon, but it's a cool picture.
This is not a raccoon, but it’s a cool picture.

Yes. Accosted by Ricky. The little bandit came out from where he had been hiding in some vines against the house, and when he saw Craig, instead of running away, Ricky came toward him. Craig stopped and took a step back, and Ricky ran down the basement stairs. Very odd! As he was telling me this, we looked out the back door to see if Ricky was still there. He was.

Note: Ricky may be a female, Ricki. But for our purposes, we’ll spell the name with a “y.”

As we watched, Ricky came out from the vines, walked in a circle, and went back in. Craig tapped on the door, and the raccoon came out again and looked at us, then went down the basement stairs again, whining all the way. It didn’t seem sick or injured, but it definitely wasn’t acting like a normal raccoon.

I wish I’d taken pics of it because it was really cute. But instead, I went out the front door, got in my car, and took off, leaving Craig to deal with the situation. Because I’m nice like that.

If we’d been in Ohio, we’d have contacted the county game warden. But apparently there is

This is not a raccoon either.
This is not a raccoon either.

no such thing here in Maryland. Craig’s phone adventures landed him at some state office in Annapolis, and they gave him a local number to call. But when he tried, it rang and rang with no one anwering. After a half dozen fruitless attempts, he tried calling the local State Police. They said they’d send someone out.

About ten minutes later a Statie appeared on our doorstep. Craig explained the situation, then brought him out to the back porch to observe Ricky through the door. The bewildered beast was still up to his weird antics, walking around in circles, in and out of the vines, up and down the basement stairs, chattering all the while. When Craig opened the door a crack and then closed it again, Ricky came up on the back steps and looked in. The officer said he’d never seen a raccoon act like that before and suggested someone may have been feeding it. That would explain why it wasn’t afraid of people, but not why it was hanging around our house.

Craig apologized for calling the state police out for something like this. He said, “When I lived in the country, if I had a problem with an animal I could take care of it myself. But I didn’t figure I could do that here.” The officer agreed. “No, you don’t want to do that here.” He said he couldn’t put the raccoon down himself, either, because it didn’t appear to be sick or injured. Instead, he gave Craig another number to call, which was for the local Animal Control people — but their office didn’t open until 11:00, and it was only about 10:30.

cvr_12_1390418172
I have no idea what this picture is of, but it’s too lovely to not use. I could so write a story incorporating that scene.

By the time 11:00 came around, however, Ricky appeared to have gone. Craig didn’t see him leave, but he did see tracks going down the snowy driveway, and we haven’t seen him since. We hope he found something to eat and a warm place to hunker down, but we may never know what became of him.

People who feed wild animals aren’t doing them any favors, because it causes the animals to become dependent. If the people then go out of town or stop the feeding for other reasons, the poor critters, no longer able to fend for themselves, are left to wander in the cold crying with hunger, like Ricky was doing this morning. Depriving him of his TV dinner is like leaving the family dog with an empty bowl.

Imagine if we had a little dog. If we’d let Fido out this morning, Ricky would have made short work of him. What if the raccoon had approached a little kid who didn’t know better than to try to pet it? Cute as they may be, wild animals are just that — wild animals. We file7601271517297shouldn’t treat them like part-time pets.

I really should use my camera more often so I can illustrate posts with photos that have something to do with the subject. I also should update my blog more often. I frequently think, “I’ll blog about that” but then I don’t do it. Maybe someday I’ll quit clowning around and get serious about it.

 

 

 

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New Things Galore

jan 1Sometimes we roll into a new year with a “same old, same old” sigh. Same bills and responsibilities, same frustrations and problems. The only thing new is the date.

That is not my situation this year (save for the same inconsistency in my blogging). Having recently moved into a new home, we’re meeting new people, learning our way around our new town, continuing to work toward completing our new kitchen, settling into a new church, and embarking on new endeavors.

Let me share with you the events of this year so far.

New Year’s Day was laid-back and unremarkable, so I won’t remark on it. Let’s jump ahead to January 2.

I awoke about 5 am and, after drifting in and out for about half an hour, decided I might as well get up. It was earlier than necessary, but people were coming between 8 and 9 to put in the new kitchen counters, and I had to be somewhere (more on that later) at 9, so I couldn’t have lain in bed too late. Might as well jump into my day at 5:30, since I was awake anyway.file0001664698124

My usual morning routine involves showering followed by a time in prayer and Bible study for an hour or more, depending on where the Spirit takes me. Then I eat breakfast, check my email, and then brush my teeth, fix my hair, make the bed, and proceed into the rest of my day.

Yesterday, however, I hadn’t been in my prayer time very long before Craig interrupted me. “Where’s the kitchen faucet we bought? The counter people are going to need it.”

Hmmm. I distinctly remembered buying it, and I had a clear recollection of making it available to the guy who came to measure for the countertop. But I couldn’t recall what we did with the faucet afterward. My memory’s not always the greatest, but usually, even if I can’t remember where I put something, I have a recollection of handling it, at least. That is, I’ll remember thinking, “I’ll put this here so it doesn’t get lost,” even if I don’t remember where “here” was, exactly. But in this case, I drew a complete blank.

I’d have preferred finishing my time with the Lord before looking for it, but Craig was already actively searching and I knew I’d never get any rest if I put it off, so I joined him in his explorations. We searched in every likely place and then moved to the unlikely ones, scouring every cabinet, closet and shelf, behind and under every piece of furniture, in the attic, main floor, and basement. When none of this searching so much as jogged a memory for me, I concluded the faucet wasn’t in the house.

But where could it have gone? We asked ourselves if the guy who’d measured for the counter might have taken it with him, but decided that wasn’t likely. He was just the measuring guy, for one thing, not the installer. For another, it seems he’d have told either Craig or me he was taking it, but neither of us had any recollection of that happening. I wondered if the cabinet installer had accidentally put it with his things when he’d cleaned out his clutter. We discussed whether he, or we ourselves, had mistakenly hauled it away while disposing of construction debris.

Craig felt it had to be in the house, and I was convinced we’d thrown it out. But either way, we needed a faucet before the counter was installed, and it had to be the same as the one file000640302511the measurement man had seen, to be sure it fit. So, after finally finishing my Bible time and fixing my hair, I went to the store at 7:30 am to buy another faucet. (Craig couldn’t do it because I’d picked it out originally and he didn’t know what I’d chosen.)

A short time after I arrived home with it, the installers came. And, as you may have already guessed, they had our faucet with them; the guy who’d done the measurements had taken it with him after all.

While the installers were setting up to get to work, I did the same. I didn’t “set up” to go to work, though; I got in the car and drove to my first day on a new job.

What?

Quit your squawking, and I’ll tell you about that. It’s pretty cool.

A few Sunday mornings ago, Craig was reading the paper while we had breakfast. We planned to go to church that day at Eckhart Baptist, which we’d visited once and liked well enough to go back to. Meanwhile, thinking it would be nice to have a part-time job (for something to do as well as to replenish some of the money we’ve been taking out of our savings for this kitchen project), he scoured the classified ads. “Hey, take a look at this,” he said, and showed me an advertisement for a part-time administrative assistant at Welsh Baptist Church in Frostburg.

The job description looked perfect for me. Frostburg isn’t far from our home. And a review of the church’s website showed it to be a church that’s in line with what we were looking for in a church home. So we decided to check it out that morning instead of going back to Eckhart Baptist. See the end of this post for a brief report on that visit.

Without boring you with the details, I was hired for the job and started on January 2. Moreover, we like the church and plan to make it our church home.

So, like I said, I went to work yesterday morning. I’ll only be working only four mornings a week (9 – 12), so a little after noon I left the office, stopping at the Food Lion in Frostburg to pick up a couple of things I’d seen in their sale ad. When I came out with my purchases, it was snowing heavily—not flaky snow, but those little balls of snowy ice. Never fear: I drive a Subaru. I arrived home without incident, prepared to settle in during the wintry blast the meteorologists were forecasting.

Turns out we didn’t even get enough to cover the ground. I’m not complaining, but after all the hype, it did seem a bit of a let-down. But the counter was installed by the time I got home, and it’s lovely! By dinnertime, Craig had plumbed in the sink, so the new addition was as functional as it was beautiful.

Craig’s not a fan of plumbing, and that project, though simple, gave him the expected difficulty. Hooking up the faucet wasn’t too much trouble, but the drain posed an unusual problem. He got the strainers into the sink all right, but when it came to screwing the nut (is that what you call it? that white plastic thing attached to the bottom of the strainer) attaching the strainer to the drain pipe, it wouldn’t go on. How hard can it be to screw a big nut onto the threads? It was easy to reach, easy to hold, easy-peasy all around. But no matter how he tried, he couldn’t get it started.

2014-01-03 17.49.25Okay, I’m not very handy, but I know how to screw one threaded piece onto another. Move aside and let me try. But, no surprise, I had the same trouble he did. What gives here? I worked on the left sink until I was exasperated, then I moved to the right sink. Same problem. Craig tried again with the same non-result. I took another stab at it on the right side, and—whoa! Got it! It went right on. Cool! Shift to the left side and do it again. Except… it still wouldn’t work. He finally got the one on the left to go on, but I don’t think I’m exaggerating: it took the two of us half an hour to screw those two nuts onto those strainers.

Once everything was in place, it was time to run the water and look for leaks. Holding our breaths…

I checked everything carefully, and told Craig, “Wow, did you ever mess up. I can’t find any leaks anywhere.” I checked again after washing the supper dishes, but again, I found no problems. Obviously, something is wrong. I’ll have to keep checking, but surely, something has to leak somewhere.

When I first came home and before tackling the plumbing, Craig had some Big News for me: the flooring installer had called to say they’d be coming tomorrow.

That was Big News for two reasons: 1) I’d been told by the store a few days earlier that the vinyl wouldn’t arrive until January 14; and, 2) I had to wait until the floor was installed before my stove could be installed, which meant the stove’s been sitting in the living room for the past few weeks, unusable. I’ve been getting buy with small appliances (Crock-Pot,  microwave, electric wok, electric deep fryer [which I used for simmering things, not frying in oil], and electric roaster), but I missed having a stove and oven. When they told me it would be more than two weeks before I could use the thing, I felt a bit frustrated. So when Craig told me they were coming to lay the floor tomorrow, it had me jumping for joy.

2014-01-03 11.10.06They’re installing the floor even as we speak. When it’s done, we’ll bring the stove in from the living room and hook it up, and… I’LL HAVE A KITCHEN!

It won’t be completely finished, though, as there are a few small things still to be done, such as tile backsplash. The important thing is, it will soon be fully functional for the first time since we bought the place.

As exciting as the completion of the kitchen project is, I’m even happier that my search for a church has come to an end. I look forward to learning the office job, but mostly, I’m eager to see what the Lord’s planning to do at Welsh Baptist Church, and I feel honored to have the opportunity to be a part of it.

It’s truly a time of new things!

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