30 December, 2008

Louis Sullivan on the Prairie, We Visit a Jewel Box Bank

It's been a crazy, whirlwind holiday week. We spent Christmas Day at my uncle's up in Racine Wisconsin. I don't think I've been to his place since we closed on our house last winter, so I found myself poking around his addition as if for the first time, seeing how it was constructed. He had added a family room sometime when I was in high school with a half bath and a separate wood-lined sauna. I've been trying to figure out just how we can add a sauna to The Box House, but there's only so much square footage available. Still, I was intrigued with the fact that there is a shower in the sauna as well, allowing the tiny room to do double duty. I neglected to take photos, so maybe next time.

It was kind of funny seeing my cousins--the earliest Christmases I can remember feature us playing with our new toys under the Christmas tree. This time, we sat around the tree talking about building inspectors, home renovation projects, and DIY improvements!

Boxing Day found us on the road for the nine-hour trek to Kansas City to see Ted's family. We got a really, really late start, so the roads were clear of traffic. We did run into some absolutely crazy weather, however. The temperature steadily climbed from 50 to 70, and somewhere in Missouri the emergency broadcast system kicked in on the radio to warn us of tornadoes and torrential rains ahead. Within 15 minutes--I'm not kidding, it was that fast--the temperature dropped from 70 down to 33. We watched in amazement as the thermometer dropped before our eyes. Just outside of Kansas City, the skies opened and we were pummeled with rain. But we did make it to Overland Park in the suburbs safely. I know it's Kansas, but tornado warnings in December seem a bit extreme.

The trip was pleasant, although much too short. All-too-soon we were headed home. This time we took the Iowa route, stopping in Grinnell, just east of Des Moines, to stretch our legs for an hour or so. We knew that there was a Sullivan-designed bank in the downtown area of this college town, but had never seen it before. We do love Sullivan, and mourn the fact that a number of his buildings have been lost, including the Pilgrim Baptist Church, destroyed in a careless fire. So we were kinda excited to see this bank. (Those who are unfamiliar with architect Louis Sullivan, check out the biography on Wikipedia or peruse the books Louis Sullivan: The Poetry of Architecture or The Early Louis Sullivan Building Photographs, which features this bank on the cover.)

Sullivan designed a number of what have come to be known as Jewel Box Banks. There were eight of them in all, and all are still standing. Based on the photos I've seen, this is my favorite.

By the time we got to Grinnell, it was already four o'clock, so the winter lighting wasn't great for taking pictures. So here's one from the bank's web site:

And a historical view:

Another recent view:

More details of the ornamentation can be found here. Unfortunately, some moron smashed the eastward-facing winged lion a few years ago:

We saw the pieces in the lobby, and, according to the Poweshiek County blog, bank owner Wells Fargo is looking into options for restoring or replicating the terra cotta figure. There was a guy working on the building's exterior while we were, but he didn't seem to know much about the details of the restoration. And I did kinda want to go, "Arrrgh, what are you doing?" when he propped his ladder against the remaining lion. But he was friendly enough, and seemed very proud of the bank, telling us how the ornamentation he was working on was installed before he was born.

Sullivan always gives me shivers!

We spent about an hour prowling around downtown Grinnell, exploring other historic buildings, and then jumped back into the car to head home. Well, we had to stop at Mom's other house first before we got all the way back home. The new tenants are moving in this weekend, and we still need to clear out a few things. So, after being on the road all day, the last thing I wanted to do was pack up the car with more of our junk, but what can you do?

The new people were there this evening to bring some of their stuff in early and begin setting up. It was the first time in 31 years I had to ring the doorbell to get in--well, with the exception of those times I lost or forgot my keys! What a strange feeling to have someone else answer the door, and even stranger that I'm not really free to wander around wherever and however I want!

Oh well. It's not really our home anymore, anyway.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!

Carson Pirie Scott & Co. building designed by Louis Sullivan. State and Madison, Chicago.

25 December, 2008

Al Capone's House for Sale

Being a Chicago girl, I'm well aware of the impact Al Capone had--and continues to have--on the city. In 1997, I did a round-the-world backpacking trip with a friend from college, and wherever we went--India, Egypt, Thailand, Nepal--people would say one of two things to us: "You're from Chicago! Do you know Michael Jordan? He's the greatest basketball player in the world!" or "Chicago! Al Capone! Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh!" (That last bit was a simulated Tommy Gun.)

Before moving here, we lived a few miles south in Uptown, a northside neighborhood whose heyday was the 1920s. Gangster history there abounds. The Green Mill jazz club, about two blocks from our condo, is probably the most famous. It was owned, in part, by Al Capone's henchman "Machinegun" Jack McGurn. McGurn was a murderous bastard, who cut up comedian/singer Joe E. Lewis pretty badly when he refused to renew his contract with the Green Mill. The story plays out in Frank Sinatra's movie The Joker is Wild.

Anyway, I'm always amazed by the infatuation people have with Al Capone, and how they can romanticize the prohibition-era activities of his and other gangs of the time, yet complain bitterly about the gangs currently plaguing Uptown. They're pretty much the same, in my mind.

That fascination is playing out tonight over and over again on the local news, as Al Capone's House, a two-story red-brick building at 7244 South Prairie Avenue, will soon be on the market. I'll be curious to see how his notoriety will drive up the price, already estimated at $450,000. In a serious housing slump where few things in the city seem to be moving, I bet this one will sell.

Image courtesy Chicago History Museum. Original caption: Exterior view of the home of Al Capone, viewed at an angle from across the street, located at 7244 Prairie Avenue in the Greater Grand Crossing community area of Chicago, Illinois. An automobile is parked along the curb in front of the house. DN-0088054, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Annual Humiliate the Animals Photo

Mom dragged out some old holiday pictures this week, and among them was one of her dog, Harley. "Fuzzy ol' man," I smiled when I saw the photo, marveling at how gray he looked here. It's not how I remember our Harley at all. I remember him as a frisky young pup, a mostly-black-lab-with-a-bit-of-springer-spaniel puppy that my dad found at Pet Rescue in Bloomingdale, near their house. The photo is from 2006, Harley's last Christmas with us. He had reached the respectable age of 12, not bad for a big dog.

Like many families, we keep up certain traditions during the holidays. One is to eat herring at Midnight on New Year's Eve, an old Polish custom said to bring luck for the rest of the year. (New Year's Eve was also my grandmother's birthday, and she taught us the tradition.) Another tradition is the annual "Humiliate the Dog" picture, where we dress up our critters in bows and other holiday finery and make them sit still for a photo.

Here is another photo of Harley when he was seven or eight. You'll notice his martyred expression didn't change much over time. He was never particularly happy with getting dressed in his holiday best, but the rest of us thought it was hilarious.

Harley always got a treat afterward for putting up with us; a big rawhide bone or a delicious pig ear.

We had planned on dressing up Maggie this year, but our groomer beat us to it. She comes to our house in her mobile dog-grooming van. We decided earlier this year to have her come to us, because Maggie--who was abused terribly by her first owner--is very much afraid of cars, and panics if we leave her anywhere. Maggie knows the groomer's van, and tries to drag us back inside when she spots it, but settles down well enough once she's inside.

This time, when the groomer brought Maggie back to the door, she handed us a holiday card as well. And look! The picture on the front is of Maggie! What a nice surprise!

She looks about as un-merry as can be! When she came back into the house smelling like dog shampoo and wearing a tartan scarf, the kittens didn't recognize her, and went scurrying away, hissing and growling. Poor Maggie! The jaunty little scarf didn't last.

And now with the kittens, the tradition is morphing into a more general Humiliate the Animals one. Mom brought home these adorable kitten costumes, and I waited until they were napping to put them on so they wouldn't struggle. No way I wanted to combat those claws.



They do not look happy. I don't blame them. There's no dignity in jingle bell collars or Santa hats. Hee hee.

Do you ever dress up your pets in silly costumes? If you have a photo you'd like to share, you can either mail it to me at blog(a)compassrose.com or post a link to it in the comments section. I'll include them all here.

Happy Holidays, y'all!

23 December, 2008

Box House History

Inspired by Andy at Building a Better Bungalow, I got a free 14-day trial membership to Ancestry.com to see what I could dig up from the 1930 Census regarding The Box House, which was built in 1925, 1926, or 1928, depending on which records you believe.

It was a little more complicated than just plugging in the address. For whatever reason, that wasn't working. I would get an "address unknown" sort of message. I found another source online that indicated what enumeration district our street fell under, and then pulled up that document on Ancestry.com, checking it page by page until I found the address for The Box House.

Well, I found out that both units of our two-flat were occupied by renters during the census. The downstairs unit, the one we're currently occupying, had a George and Ethel May Tetlow who lived here with their children, George Jr. and Betty Lou, and George's mother, Nellie. Nellie was born in England, and Ethel May's family came from Canada. George was, unsurprisingly, the breadwinner of the family, working as a salesman for an oil distributor. Checking back to the 1920 and 1910 censuses, I found out he had worked as an auto mechanic and a chauffeur. It seemed he always lived within a few blocks of The Box House.

The upstairs unit, which we are currently renting out, also had tenants back in 1930. George Melberger, originally from New Jersey, worked as a department manager for an insurance company. He lived at The Box House with his wife Claudia and his daughter, also named Claudia, age 15.

Both units were paying a rent of $75 a month, which is $968.26 in today's currency. It was the cheapest rent reported on the block. The other rental properties on our street were renting at $88-$110 a month. Most of the houses were owner-occupied, most of the people in them American-born, and most had foreign-born parents. The block seemed primarily English descent, with a smattering of folks of Belgium and German heritage. Each household had at least one radio, and everyone could read and write.

I couldn't glean who owned The Box House from the census info, but it seems obvious it was built as an investment property, as both units were rented out shortly after it was built. I recall one of my neighbors saying The Box House and the next two properties were all built at the same time, so it's possible that one of the owners of those houses owned this one, too. But that's pure speculation. I'll have to dig deeper and haul myself down to the library and/or historical society for the next phase of research.

21 December, 2008

Deck the Halls with ... a Leg Lamp?

It's finally beginning to look like Christmas at The Box House, with decorations ranging from classic to kitsch, but all of it beloved and infused with special meanings to our family. So let me get you a mug of Ted's famous hot buttered rum and I'll give you a quick tour.

Ted and I drove over to The Home Depot in heavy snow showers last week to pick up this year's tree. There's nothing like trying to determine the quality of a particular specimen when everything is covered under an inch of snow, but the snow lent a festive atmosphere. We even upgraded to the $24.95 tree, still way cheaper than the traditional Chicago Christmas tree lots. So what if they spray painted parts of it green, and who cares if they might have dabbed a little extra pine fragrance on it (I'm convinced they did, but can't confirm it)

After the branches relaxed, it ended up a bit unbalanced. Oh well, I still love it. For me, a real tree is necessary. I know that for many people a fake tree is easier to put up and take down and you won't end up with needles everywhere. But I like that people have been decorating their homes with live greenery for thousands of years, brightening the winter darkness with symbols of life and fertility.

The top of the tree is a mixture of old and new. The star is from my first Christmas with Ted; the elf climbing it is one of several from my childhood.

Mom added the Santa. He's a bit bedraggled, and the tree we got this year is a bit small for him, but he is older than I am and has been on every one of her trees. It wouldn't be a proper Christmas tree without him.

The wooden elf ornament next to Santa is one my mom painted when I was little. We still have the entire set that she picked up at a craft store. Turns out, Ted's mom had painted the same set when he was a kid!

Other favorite ornaments include my first stocking, a bootie knit by my grandma:

And this "new favorite," which my Mom found on etsy.com:

There is a smaller tree in the dining room, our "Candy Tree," decorated with gold foil chocolate coins, truffles and more. Angie the Angel sits at the top of the tree; mom's had her out every Christmas since she was a little girl.

Even the spirit house Ted and I picked up in Thailand a few years ago gets the holiday treatment.

Look inside, and you'll see a tiny Christmas tree and presents. My mom made these when I was eight or so for our doll house Christmas rooms.

Our fireplace is a big ol' fake one. We have arguments about whether we should just take it out, as it would expand our decorating possibilities, or leave it because it's an original house feature. The cast iron electric fireplace dates to the 1920s and produces light, but no heat. Seamus has decided its one of his favorite new perches, but he's getting heavy, and I'm afraid he may break the "realistic" plastic logs."

We took down the usual odds and ends that seem to find their way up on the mantle and put up my Fontanini navity and a small selection of Mom's nutcracker collection.

But the most over-the-top thing we have is the Leg Lamp, which sits proudly in our living room window:

If you haven't seen A Christmas Story with Peter Billingsley, you'll think we're crazy. But it's one of my favorite Christmas movies, and a leg lamp just like this one features prominently, as does a Red Ryder BB rifle. (We were ecstatic, by the way, when we found a Red Ryder BB rifle in the basement earlier this year.)

I think that's going to be it for the decorations this year, but I do have a pot of wassail simmering upstairs, and we'll greet the fruit trees in the backyard with it later tonight for the Winter Solstice. I'll post the recipe for that tomorrow--cider, wine, and brandy! What could be yummier?

14 December, 2008

Atlas Homewares, Jonathan Fong Style, and a Bit of Mod Podge

I found some terrific knobs on clearance this weekend to use on the dresser I found in the alley. Normally $6.30 from the Atlas Homeswares Signature Scroll collection, with the clearance and an extra coupon, I paid only $1.79 a piece at Lowes.

The ones I got are coppery, not pewter, but you get the idea.

I'm thinking of decoupaging the dresser. Who cares if I haven't cracked open a jar of Mod Podge since the fifth grade? Ted hates the idea and I don't blame him; most of those projects we made in grade school looked exactly like magazine pictures awkwardly glued to a box. I did a bit of surfing online to find some good examples and stumbled upon Jonathan Fong's Web site.

Look at these kitchen cabinets! He used posters of Warhol's work. Here's the before:

Now, I'm not stylish enough to go for an entire kitchen...

...or even a door, such as these examples I found in an article in the Seattle Times, but I think I can do a dresser, no?

Here's one I liked from Plaid Enterprises:

Start small, right?

And then I might tackle this cat condo project, also by Jonathan Fong:

13 December, 2008

What Do a Gaggle of Goddesses, an Antique Admiral TV, and a Doorknob Have in Common?

After a year, I had given up hope of ever finding what I did with the knobs to my 1940s Admiral television. For well over a year we've been looking at the partially assembled television, despairing that we'd ever locate the one-of-a-kind knobs. I was convinced they were lost forever. But tonight, while clearing out boxes in the basement in preparation of removing the last bit of skanky ceiling board, I found them, hurray! They were packed away with an assortment of odds and ends from our condo kitchen. Why I thought that would be a good box to have packed them in, I don't know.

Isn't it a beauty? It's dated 1948, if I recall correctly, and stands about waist high. I won the TV on eBay and drove all the way over to the Quad Cities to pick it up, which is about three hours one way from Chicago. The cabinet is made of a single piece of bakelite, so there was no way I was going to trust that to a shipping company. I read somewhere that it was the largest piece of bakelite ever cast, at least up to that time. Mom and I gave the TV to my dad for his birthday. After he passed away, I ended up with it. It now sits in our dining room, next to the sideboard. It was working pretty well until a couple of years ago, when the picture disappeared. One of these days, I need to take it in for a proper restoration.

Other goodies in the box include a doorknob from my bedroom of one of my first apartments in Chicago. Yes, I admit it--I stole it. I was a foolish stunt by a 24-year-old. The apartment was this kinda run-down three flat circa 1910 located in the Southport corridor before it became cool to live there, and the landlord was a bit of a jerk. Okay, a major jerk. I know I should feel guilty for going to Ace Hardware and buying a plain doorknob to swap it out with, but I don't really. (They later gutted the house completely.) I'll probably use it on my office door at The Box House, if I can get it to fit.

But this is what really makes me smile! My collection of goddess magnets (and a coupla gods) that I got on clearance from Sacred Source, a great little online store with all sorts of figurines from world mythology and religion.

And that picture of Ted? It's the first one I ever saw of him. Would you believe we met on Match.com seven years ago this month? Well, we started corresponding then, and met a month later. Remind me to tell that story sometime...

What's Up? Chicken Butt.

Silly kittens often sit in their food dish while drinking their water. They are oh-so-tolerant of having their butts cleaned of chicken gravy, but they must've still had a faint odor of Fancy Feast about them, as Maggie suddenly lost all uneasiness around them and came in for a good ol' sniff. I think it's what finally broke the ice, as dog and kittens are fast becoming friends now--although they won't sit still long enough for me to photograph all three of them!

Are y'all getting tired of kitten pictures yet?

Bella and Seamus, aka Silent Bob--when he meows, no sound comes out!

10 December, 2008

Condo Tenants...Grrr. And Ted Saves Us $500 on Furnace Repair

Well, the temporary fix on the furnace at the condo failed. On Sunday. The tenants called to let us know today. Wednesday. WTF? We had stressed that the service guy's fix might only be temporary, and that it would take a few days to get the new part, but that they were to call us ASAP with any problems so we could get it up and running, even if it's only another temporary fix. I don't get it.

Ted did do the permanent furnace repair himself. Midwest Appliance Parts of Chicago had the piece we needed for $105, and he spent a grand total of 15 minutes swapping it out. AAA Heating and Cooling of Chicago wanted to charge us $685, including labor.

We'll probably do this kind of thing again in the future, i.e., pay for the service call to diagnose the problem (in this case $95) and then buy the necessary parts ourselves. With a savings of nearly five hundred bucks, it was worth a little extra leg work.

But isn't it frustrating when contractors jack up prices to this extent?

07 December, 2008

Carrier Furnace Repair, or Landlord Woes

A few days after the boiler went out for the tenants' unit upstairs, the furnace went out at the condo. Only, the tenants over there didn't bother calling us until today. Saturday. They were without heat for two whole days. Did I mention it's only 15 degrees in Chicago? Me? I would have called the landlord immediately! As the landlord, I'm thankful the pipes didn't burst from the cold.

When we got over to the condo this afternoon, the floors were like ice. I had kicked off my shoes so I wouldn't track snow into the unit, and then I said the heck with that, because my feet quickly became so numb I couldn't stand it. And I have a very high tolerance for cold. How could they have lasted for two days???

The furnace is a Carrier, although I can't remember the model number offhand. We read the error code and narrowed down what the problem was, but, unlike the boiler, we didn't think we could fix it ourselves. So we called in the pros. Our usual go-to HVAC guy said he would have to order parts, as he didn't have anything on hand, and so we--shudder--picked someone from the phone book, because I was without an internet connection and couldn't check Angie's List for recommendations. So AAA Heating and Cooling of Chicago came out, and fairly quickly, too.

Well, the repair guy examined it for only a minute or so (I'm not kidding) and diagnosed it as something with the inducer. Of course, he didn't have a new one on the truck, but said he could get one Monday. Then he told us it would cost $685. Yup, for a spare part. He did get the thing working again, but told us it would be a temporary fix, that it would probably blow out again, and we really needed a new part. We were still reeling from the knowledge of how much this would cost, and said we'd like to think about it. He said unless we made a decision to go with the work now, this very minute, he'd have to charge us a second service call on Monday. Ted stood firm, despite the pressure, and said we'd let them know then, but would go with the temporary fix for the weekend. The service guy finally relented and said if we call Monday, he'll make sure we didn't get charged for a second call.

When we got home, Ted did a cursory search on Google and found the part for less than a hundred bucks--don't know if that's brand new or reconditioned. It looks fairly easy to install, just a few screws and hooking up some wire. I think we can do it. As long as the temporary fix is holding, we'll check with a few local stores on Monday and see if we can just pick up the part and pick their brains regarding installation. At the moment, however, I'm thinking that AAA Heating and Cooling has a tremendously large profit margin built into their pricing. I'm not sure we'll call them back either way.

My personal theory as to why the furnace shut down is this: When we got to the condo, we found that 85% of the floor registers were covered over with furniture or closed completely. That had to be wreaking havoc with the motor, I should think. So I left the tenants a note that they'll have to rearrange their furniture to uncover those.

*Sigh* I wish we could just sell the place and be done with it.

But enough of that. Now, it's Kitten Time!!!

See how sweet they are? Sleepy little babies. But don't let their calm demeanor fool you. These guys are little terrors, getting into absolutely everything. I forgot what it's like to have such young kittens! Trouble, trouble, trouble. But there is nothing sweeter than little kitten kisses and tiny little mews, so I'll forgive them just about anything.

04 December, 2008

New Windows for the Basement, Work We Contracted Through Angie's List

We cheated. We didn't replace the basement windows ourselves. For only the second time this year, we hired a contractor to do some work on The Box House.

Earlier this past spring, we removed the overgrown yew bushes from around the house, giving them away on Craig's List to whomever wanted to dig them out. When the trees were gone, we discovered that our basement windows were essentially falling out:

That's not quite true. We knew they weren't in great shape, but from inside the basement, you couldn't really tell just how bad. Note in the next picture how there is greenery growing behind the glass. (Hmmmm, on closer inspection, I think that's some wayward late-season mint. We had it growing everywhere, and enjoyed an abundance of mint juleps over the summer. The storm window is no doubt acting as a green house.)

Regrading the yard helped with some of the garden encroaching inside, but with the bushes gone, anybody walking by could see how bad the windows were. Blow on them too hard, and they'd fall off. In fact, after a storm we'd go outside, pick them up off the ground, and set them back in place. Pull them off yourself, and you could rob us blind.

Of course, the rooms where Ted and I have our offices, and spend a good part of the day, had security bars. Unfortunately, if there was ever an emergency from within, these bars would prevent our escape.

The old windows were quaint and old-fashioned. They swung up and inward, attaching to a hook on the ceiling.
Unfortunately, the windows and frames were kinda rotted, the glass was thin, and they leaked like crazy. You could feel a breeze coming in through the closed windows. Restoration wasn't worth it for a number of reasons; the windows weren't really quality to begin with, and we wanted egress windows that we could open quickly and easily--without struggling to open them and hook it to the ceiling just to get out.

We knew we were losing a lot of heat through these windows. At the end of last winter, when we moved in, we worked in the basement in our winter coats because it was so darn cold. So we wanted to replace all the windows and get them hooked into the security system before winter settled in again, and knew we couldn't do it ourselves quickly enough. Besides, they are oddball sizes and needed to be custom made.

After interviewing several companies and gathering estimates, we settled on Scientific Window of Chicago, which we found on Angie's List. Although they said it would be six or so weeks before they could install the windows, they were here in three and a half. A crew of four came in and got it all done in a day.

We chose slider windows. They can be opened to let air in without having to maintain clearance in front of them, and the glass can easily be popped out for quick egress. We didn't really lose much in the way of light coming in.

Overall, we're pretty happy with the work. It was freakin' expensive to replace everything at once, don't get me wrong. But to replace 13 custom-sized windows ourselves would never have gotten done. Anyway, heating cost savings in the next few years should balance it out. It's not quite as cold in the basement with the winter winds now properly blocked.

This pic with Ted is before they finished cladding the exterior with aluminum.

The finished product:

Sometimes, it's worth hiring out the work.

03 December, 2008

Mom's Latest Quilt, a Farewell to Our Lawn Care Guy, and a Shout Out to My Very Talented Man

I love showing off Mom's quilts.

This one is her latest, which she's giving to her lawn care guy for Christmas. He's cut the grass and shoveled the snow at her other house for more than a decade. They have a better-than-average contractor-client relationship; she's been invited to his family's house for dinner, and he knows all about our family and our new adventures at The Box House. But now that we found a tenant for the house who is willing and eager to take on the outdoor chores himself, we can't see fit to continue with professional lawn care, even though we really, really like the guy. We'll definitely miss him! (If you're out in the Bloomingdale/Roselle area and need a recommendation for lawn care, let me know.)

On the kitten news front, the furry babies seem to be making themselves at home. Here's Seamus just hanging out with Mom while she works at the computer...

Maggie was having a difficult time accepting the kittens at first. We call her the Omega Dog, because she is the most submissive creature we've ever seen. For the first few days after the kittens arrived, she would try to avoid them. If one looked at her directly, she would turn away, refusing to make eye contact. She'd hug the wall, eyes averted, if she needed to get past, or whine for one of us to get her. She stuck to me like glue, constantly craving reassurance. Usually she'll nap next to me, this weekend she napped on top of me. All of her behavior indicated she was making herself submissive to the kittens. And she seemed to have lost her spark.

But today there was a noticeable shift. She sat next to the kittens on the floor; she even went into downward dog position once. I found all three animals alone together in our bedroom. They weren't interacting, but they were all sitting on the bed in a row. And now Maggie wags her tail like crazy when they're around. Okay, not every time, but there was a definite lack of whining today and more tail wagging and I could walk through the house without a shadow. I think she's trying to make friends now and it helps that the babies are so laid back. It would be cute to see all three critters snuggling together. The kittens themselves are very curious about her as well, especially her tail, but she's so big compared to them that I think they're holding back a bit.

And finally, I just have to publicly proclaim that I'm a lucky, lucky girl to have a guy like Ted around. The heat in the tenants' unit went out, so we went to check the pilot on the boiler. We tried relighting it twice, but it wouldn't stay lit. My first thought was "let's call the heating guy" because really, I have no clue about these things. But Ted somehow figured out it was a faulty thermocouple, went to Home Depot for a new one, and popped it into our ancient boiler, saving us a service call. I think I'll bake him a pie tonight!