Random Thursday: The Weekend Edition

Photo: Granite outcropping with a cloud backdrop

I put up an owl box this morning and thought it important that you know about it.

Debbie decided that we don’t have nearly enough owls in our life (as in, we have none) so she ordered a screech owl box from OwlReach. Of course, it didn’t occur to us to check ahead of time to see if we’re even located within the range of screech owls, The Official Owl Box Motto: Women Owned, Owl Lovedbut research in advance of disbursement is overrated; just ask any government agency. Fortunately, we do happen to be in the middle of the range for the Eastern Screech Owl, which I’m pretty sure is the species that motivated Vinny Gambini to burst out of a cabin, handgun blazing, when it interrupted his sleep.

Perhaps you’re wondering why we need owls, and that would be clear evidence that you don’t live in a neighborhood where squirrels outnumber all other species of life — including ants — by a factor of ten. Our fervent hope is that an owl or two will convince our squirrels that our neighbors’ houses offer amenities more compatible with their preferred lifestyles, i.e. “continued.”

Anyway, here’s the new owley installation:

Photo showing owl box mounted on a live oak tree beside our house
Don’t be confused; the one on the tree is the owl box…the one on the ground is the armadillo box. Neither is occupied at present.

So, yesterday I decided to do our neighborhood a favor and prune some dead limbs from a large yaupon and a small Texas mountain laurel at the front entrance of our community. I may have mentioned before that I’m serving on the board of our Property Owners Association (POA). Our POA board is takes a pretty laissez-faire approach to most things; it helps that almost all of our owners take pride in the neighborhood (and also that the City is adept at playing the bad guy so we don’t have to, although it doesn’t have to do that very often either). But the board does actively undertake various tasks on a volunteer basis that would otherwise require us to spend money.

I loaded a bow saw, a pair of long-handled loppers, a pruning shear, and my battery-powered chainsaw into the bed of my pickup and drove to the entrance. Most of the work was easily accomplished with the bow saw and the pickup bed was quickly filled with dead branches. All that was left was an eight-inch diameter trunk of the laurel. I had anticipated that and that’s why I had the chain saw.

I grabbed said chainsaw, walked over to the tree, and went through my usual mental checklist:

  • Leather gloves: check
  • Chain properly tensioned: check
  • Oil reservoir filled: check
  • Chain kickback brake engaged: check
  • Ready to saw: check

I then pulled the trigger…and suddenly learned an important lesson about using a battery-powered chainsaw: the actual presence of a battery is somewhat essential to its operation.

Yep. In my haste to get going, I had walked right past the line of batteries on the shelf, grabbed the chainsaw from the garage closet, and walked back past the same lineup of batteries without, you know, getting one.

Luckily, the blade on my bow saw is sharp…much sharper than my mind…and in less time than it would have taken to drive back to the house and return with a battery (but with significantly more sweat equity), I made the final cut.

As amusing as you might find this, it’s even more amusing (and by that I mean “embarrassingly sad”) when I admit that this isn’t the first time I’ve done this. Uh…not even the second time. 😬

Speaking of birds, I’m hard-pressed to think of a sadder or more puzzling sight than these bird feet sticking out of the grate surrounding our back yard pecan tree.

Photo: sticks that look like a bird's feet
Quite a predicament, eh?

Ha! Just kidding. Those aren’t bird’s feet…they’re just tiny branches that dropped from the tree and landed weirdly. Surely you weren’t fooled. And I wasn’t either, the first time I saw them. Really, I wasn’t. Kinda. OK, it freaked me out a tiny bit.

I’m sure you’re aware of the popular definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. (BTW, did you know that that declaration is attributed to none other than Albert Einstein?) I doubt that there are many exceptions to that definition, other than at the craps table, but I discovered one on my own yesterday (yesterday was quite a day, y’know?).

We have a DIY security system from SimpliSafe. I’m not sure why; the only crimes around here are committed by small mammals, but I guess we like our security even securer, so we have it.

It’s been relatively — almost completely, in fact — trouble-free, but recently our outdoor wireless camera stopped working for no discernible (to me) reason. It appeared to be capturing video properly, evidenced by the clicking noise and flashing light when we walked past it, but we couldn’t access the camera’s images via the SimpliSafe app. I diagnosed the issue as a network connectivity problem: it was no longer communicating via our wifi setup.

I followed SimpliSafe’s instructions for troubleshooting network connectivity. I followed them over and over. And over. And, once again, over. The camera would just not kiss and make up with the base station.

This went on for a day-and-a-half. I had just about reached the point of doing the unthinkable. No, not throwing the camera in the creek; that was one step further down the list. But I was resigned to calling SimpliSafe’s tech support group where I would be forced to talk to a person. Let’s see: throwing away a $100 camera vs. talking to a person. Man…talk about a difficult choice.

I decided to try ONE. MORE. TIME. I fired up the app, followed the step-by-step instructions, pressed the magic button which promises connections and unicorn smooches, and — voila! — the hitherto unheard and always disembodied voice emanating from the base station said connecting camera. Or something equally reassuring; I’ve already forgotten.

I have no explanation, other than the base station has achieved sentience and acquired empathy and understood my desire to chuck the whole thing into the creek and out of self-defense, bowed to my desire.

The lesson here is clear: don’t give up. And, also, welcome our AI overlords; they only want what’s best for us…as long as it’s consistent with their algorithms, of course.

Meme: Staring bird, obviously miffed
Not my bird. Not a screech owl. Probably.