Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's Like Herding Cats...

While I was at work this morning, Doug sent me a text, "Your doggie just herded the cats into their room. It was kind of awesome to watch."

For those of you that have forgotten, Denali is an Australian Shepherd. Her mom (and dad, RIP Spur) work(ed) a 25,000 acre cattle farm in New Mexico. So, she comes from working herding stock.

We've had the two cats since before she came to live with us. The cats were kittens when we got them and we had a dog then, so the cats are used to dogs. There's usually no problem with them.

I've never seen Denali herd anything except for a gangly 13-year old boy at the dog park, who thought it was fun to run through the park, holding a stick above his head and watching a pack of dogs run after him. Did I tell you this story already? Well, Denali saw the commotion and felt like she needed to take control; she ran straight across the park. She did not circle the group, but instead ran right in front of the boy and tripped him. UP in the air he went. He flipped, heels over head and landed flat on his back. His glasses went flying off his face and landed 5 feet away. I apologized to him and his mother, but also warned him that there are "herding dogs" in this park and running around like he did would bring out the instinct in these dogs and it could happen again. He kept his running to a minimum after that. (He also told my dog, "I don't like you" as he continued to tease the other dogs with the stick and she followed ALL his commands. After a while, he saw how awesomely obedient she was to his commands and he finally gave her a chance.)

Evidently, this morning, my monster-cat, Ula was up on our stove. DSC_0333 We don’t allow the cats on the counters or tables, but they get up there when we’re not around or not paying attention to them. Poor Ula. He’s so naughty. He gets into EVERYthing. We often call his name curtly and it has conditioned Denali to go “on alert.” Usually she just goes to find him and gently pounces on him to say, “Hey! Stop that!”

I don’t think Doug even saw Ula on the stove until after Denali got agitated. He said Denali saw Ula on the stove and went into herding mode. I’m not sure how it all happened but she also rounded up the other cat, Mr. Whiskers DSC_0211_crop(typical cat, happy to lie around all day; he doesn’t usually get into too much) and sent them both into their room (a small nook off our kitchen that has folding louvered doors; we keep their box and food in there. We also lock the cats up in there to keep Ula out of everything at night and when we leave the house.)

After it was all over, Doug was so awestruck, he gave her a “cookie.”

Friday, March 4, 2011

Projects and Door Chimes...

Our house was built in 1975 and needs a lot of TLC. When we moved into our house 4½ years ago, there were these rectangular contraptions plugged into two receptacles. Somehow, we managed to figure out that they are wireless door chimes. The box for the original door chimes is still hanging on the wall in the front hallway, but we soon found out it was not working. A-ha! This must be the reason for the wireless ones, probably purchased at Wal-mart. The wireless contraptions turned out to be pretty handy; we put one in the basement and one in the den. If someone came to the door while we were upstairs, they’d just be out of luck (unless they banged on the front door.)

Sometimes, interference would cause the wireless contraptions to ring. I’d go to the front door to greet my visitor only to find nobody there. Ring-and-Run??? Silly kids. I’d go back to the den and the contraption would ring again. Check the front door, nobody there. Sometimes the thing would “ga-dink, ga-dink, ga-dink, ding-dong!” I don’t know what was up with it, but I just figured it was interference of some sort.

Doug’s been out of work for about 2 months. He’s catching up on projects around the house that he let slide when he was working out-of-town. He took down the paneling in our little hallway between the front hall and the kitchen; there’s a door between the two halls, a door to a bedroom, a door to a bathroom and the door to the basement, as well as the opening to the kitchen all in that little hallway. Oh, not to mention the ceilings in our house are covered in that d@mned “popcorn” stuff! We’re replacing those, too, as we go along. He hung sheetrock, taped, mudded, sanded, primed and painted the walls. He removed the popcorn and sanded the ceiling, painting it a bright smooth white. He’s in the process of replacing all the door trim, but while he waits for coats of paint to dry, he takes on little tasks. Replacing the water line to my new refrigerator; replacing the guts to a constantly running toilet; attacking that door chime box on the wall to see if we can remove it. He doesn’t announce to me which project he’s going to tackle each day; he just waits for me to come home and “discover” what has changed.

Yesterday when I got home, we were discussing what to have for dinner when the doorbell rang. I didn’t feel sociable so I asked him to see who was at the door.

“Me?” he asks.

“Yes. Please?” I responded.

So, dutifully, he heads to the front hall, opens the door and checks. After a minute, he comes back in the kitchen, “there’s nobody there.” And the doorbell rings again. He heads back to the front to check. This time, I follow. Still nobody.

“Oh. Well, maybe it’s the door chimes acting up again.” I say, and remind him how sometimes there’s interference in the wireless contraptions. I hear something inside the house that almost sounds like wind chimes, but my hearing is failing and I dismiss that I heard it from inside the house; surely it was a neighbors’ wind chimes. Still hearing something when I step back in the house, I stop and listen. I’m still hearing the chimes, I think. But I’m not certain.

Doug asks, “what are you doing?”

“I’m listening. I think I’m hearing something.”

“Oh, you can’t hear anything,” he chides.

“I know, right? So, I *thought* I heard something like chimes in the other room.” The chimes are still going… he opens the door between the two hallways and I hear it clearer. It’s the wireless contraption in the den. “See, I *thought* I heard something. That contraption is just acting up.”

Doug heads into the kitchen and I head out to the front porch. I’m curious. I think I’ve tried this before, but I want to try it again. Usually, while there is interference, and the wireless contraptions are doing their own ringing, pressing the doorbell button at the front door does not work properly. I thought I’d try it again to refresh my memory that that was the case. I look at the doorbell button. Funny, I don’t remember it having a light in it. (In my brain, I shrug my shoulders; but, I don’t physically shrug.) I punch the button. “Dinka-Donk!” Brain registering… not the sound I was expecting. Press again. “Dinka-Donk!” Brain saying, “What tha...?” Brain re-registering… The circa-1975 door chimes are working!

Doug is standing in the doorway between the two hallways, grinning. He pulls out of his pocket, the old, non-lighted doorbell that goes with the wireless contraptions.

“YOU BRAT!” I exclaim. “You Brat! Oooh, you’re such a brat!”