Sunroom & Siding

Last year we decided to commit to something we’ve been daydreaming about for a few years.  We wanted to add a 3+ season sunroom to the house and replace the house’s vinyl siding, soffit, and fascia. We contracted with Crown Construction and we are very pleased with the whole process and the finished job.

Interior of sunroom addition.

The sunroom has a radiant heat floor, is well-insulated, and uses triple-pane energy-efficient windows.  We hope we can use it year round. So far it’s been a joy and we’re using it extensively.

Replacing the vinyl siding is something Lori, in particular, wanted to do.  Close up it looked cheap, extensive insect nests were populating all the gaps and crevices, and some bad installation was a real eyesore in some spots.

We chose to replace with engineered wood and changed the color while we were at it. The very skilled and experienced guys did a great job.  It looks as good as we dared hope.  The big surprise is how tight everything is, eliminating the fly and wasp issues.  The combination of the wood and the backer board they used also very noticeably makes the house quieter.  We’re also aware of a drop-off in micro-drafts during windy days–we’re hoping this makes a big difference in the winter.

Finally, we also replaced the siding around the front door with a stone facade which we like a lot.

Financially this overhaul may only add to our tax assessment and insurance costs and do very little to enhance the value of the house here in upstate New York’s perennially dismal housing market.  But at least it was expensive.

All told, it was a great quality-of-life investment and an efficient way to get rid of some of those burdensome retirement savings.

Done With Film

The last time I shot a roll of film has to be at least 20 years ago. I’ve kept my favorite cameras expecting to dip back into film photography at some point.  It’s not going to happen. My interest in film has grown vanishingly small.

That reality combined with our renewed effort to get rid of stuff means the cameras are all being permanently retired after each provided many years of reliable service. So long (and good riddance).

A Tribute to Meeko

Meeko enjoys a nice Fall morning on the deck (railing).

Meeko, our beloved cat of 21 years is no more, yielding to inexorable mortality.

Fundamentally she was an archetypal cat, effortlessly mastering essential cat skills. With an almost comical level of athleticism, she could climb almost anything. Two stories up the house, plucking at window screens to be let in at 3am was routine. She was a disturbingly successful and prolific hunter for many years, often attempting (and sometimes succeeding) to bring her trophies into the house. She was highly independent but always came home to keep tabs on us, supplement her mouse-and-bird diet with cat food, and seek out a warm lap for a nap. And use the litter box–she didn’t like to do her thing outside for some reason.

Other traits made her unique. She was terrified of young children, Kirby vacuum cleaners, and cameras pointed at her. She was very clever, learning how to open certain doors herself. She was also very smart. For example, she learned early on that we disapproved of tearing up the furniture upholstery. But the lesson she learned was she shouldn’t do it if we were awake. At night when we were in bed, major un-upholstering projects were undertaken–we lost several pieces to the landfill from her accumulated destruction. But we never caught her doing it in the act because that would be wrong.

She hated trips to the vet. Getting her into a cat carrier was a multi-day highly-stressful operation for us. We would quietly conspire some elaborate choreography to surprise, distract, seize, and cage her. She apparently understood our scheming whispers because she was always aware of the plot and made every attempt to foil it. We had to wear protective gear to avoid all the extra arms and legs with razor claws that she seemed to sprout. She learned to spell too–we couldn’t say “v–e–t” without her going on high alert. At the vet she was difficult to get out of the carrier and, once out, she made every effort to get back in. All was accompanied by loud howling until she was finally home and safe again. The vet said everybody knew when Meeko was visiting the clinic.

Meeko equally loathed being fitted with a flea collar or being dosed with flea medicine. This, too, required secretive plotting and special equipment to attempt it safely. The emergency room number was on speed dial. It sometimes took many tries over several days to accomplish the objective. Achieving the difficult task meant jubilation and great relief. Until next time.

In every case, all was forgiven and forgotten as we settled back into friendly relations, especially after we showered her with extra treats and attention by way of apology.

Meeko used to visit me while I was sitting at a desk. She would climb the back of the chair up into the gully between the chair back and my neck. She would sit there grooming herself and sometimes me on the back of my neck. It felt like being worked over with a small wet wood rasp. She eventually would squirm around a bit to settle into a nice comfortable position to take a snooze. I was reluctant to move at that point.

She also enjoyed joining me outside to take out garbage at 6:00am Tuesday mornings. She would join me on strolls into our woods or fields. She didn’t need me around to enjoy some quality time sitting on the lawn tractor in the garage.

Meeko had many toys over the years and she would play with most of them at least briefly, especially those that moved by themselves or were laced with catnip. But the one toy she stuck with her entire adult life (we don’t recall when she first got it) was a plain round ball covered in multi-colored fabric. She would bat it around and sometimes howl while carrying it in her mouth. We never understood the appeal but it was her constant diversion. We were always amused by the variety of places the ball would appear in the house, especially in the morning. A few times it was floating in her water bowl and had to be dried out before going back into service. Sometimes it would be left on one of our chairs as if she wanted us to know she was thinking of us.

Small cardboard boxes were another big hit. Package deliveries of the right size resulted in small boxes left on the floor for her. She would hop in, taking her little sports car for an imaginary spin–you could imagine her thinking “vroom, vroom!”

She became increasingly social in her later years. Her eyesight and hearing declined–the allure of outdoors ebbed and she insisted on spending more time with us in daily routines: slow petting descents together on the stairs in the morning, head-bumping and rubbing in early evening, and finally some quality petting, grooming, and snoozing every evening in front of the TV.

Eccentric behaviors emerged. She developed a habit of placing one front paw in her water dish while drinking (maybe to hold it down?). When she was done she would shake her paw splattering water all over the wall, floor, and herself. We were constantly toweling off the Meeko water park.

Right up to her last minutes she was devoted and affectionate. It’s brutal not having her around any more but she left us a supply of smiles to last the rest of our days.

Muddied Waters

Our annual Spring paddle on Owasco Inlet took an unexpected turn as we returned to shore. Lori stepped out of her canoe into a few inches of water over thick mud, couldn’t move her feet and promptly fell over into the muddy water.

Lori expressed her dismay with a long string of loud obscenities. I was looking at the reaction of a group of young Mennonites on the shore and carelessly ended up in the same fate (and the same mud).  Unfortunately for me, I had a devil of a time getting up and balanced as my feet sank into a foot of mud; I toppled over a few times before finally floundering to shore. Lori was torn between laughter and concern.

When my canoe capsized during my struggles, it dumped my camera into the muddied water.  It took a little more sloshing about to find it and fish it out of the muck.

I’m always well-prepared for the possibilities like this–I have a waterproof padded case for the camera.  Only I neglected to latch the lid so the case and camera went their separate ways during the melee.

We were both muddy wet messes and so was all our gear.  We squished through the process of loading everything up on the car and prepared for the long wet drive home.

It took a couple hours to clean everything up when we got home, the car was a mess, and my camera is officially toast.

Other than that, it was a lovely Spring day on Owasco Inlet.

Twenty-One and Tuckered

Meeko, our beloved cat, celebrated her 21st birthday today.  She’s doing remarkably well for her age (aided by several expensive prescriptions). She’s not as spry as she once was: no more feats of leaping or deadly hunts. But she still runs up and down the stairs a couple dozen times a day and spends much of her waking hours howling recommendations on how we can improve our service to her. Her favorite present today was the cork from her celebratory bottle of Prosecco–she merrily batted the cork all over until it rocketed under a sofa.

We estimate she’s now on the 14th of her nine lives. Quite the little role model, that one. Happy Birthday Meeko.


Our Friday evening tradition of enjoying a martini continues unabated through these trying times. We’re studiously observing shelter-in-place, social distancing, and wearing face masks. A martini (or quarantini) interferes with none of that but can take the edge off the pandemic, if only briefly.

Meanwhile, Mother Nature keeps things interesting: this morning we woke to four inches of a fresh frosty coating of snow on everything. As our winter of discontent melts away, we are drawn back to the stress and despair visited on the world by the virus. We’re doing fine for now but are deeply concerned about the plight of so many others, now and for years to come.

Our quarantini toast was to you last evening: Buona salute!

Anniversary in Aurora

Lori and I had a wonderful overnight-er in Aurora NY at the Aurora Inn to celebrate our anniversary. It wasn’t quite as spectacular as last year’s anniversary in Venice but we thoroughly enjoyed our stay, a fabulous dinner, and then a wonderful walking tour of the town to learn about Aurora and its evolution, particularly its transformation under the singular vision of Pleasant Rowland.  We will be back.

I’m Hanging It Up

It’s official: I am now retired from my (brief) 2-year career as a court clerk. It’s been fun and interesting working in our town’s court and seeing the New York State justice machinery working on the front lines. I leave with a deep respect for the fine people working for our town–they’re uniformly devoted to doing the best for the community and are a pleasure to “rub elbows” with.

I’m sure I’ll be seeing them again when I stop in to pay taxes, tweak some court software, or appear for a speeding ticket.  Meanwhile, I’m having a blast continuing my education at the Corning Museum of Glass and readying for my next career as a “Glass Guide” (docent).