Thursday, September 30, 2010

The road loves you

This heart is embedded in the Tarmac in our subdivision.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Roof Cat #2

I can report that the balcony retrieval method works excellently. In fact, Bandit got there before I did!

Garden Cats

Gratuitous pictures of S&B in the garden...

The grill

The brick oven

Of course the brick oven has a wonderful big drinking bowl on top at the moment. Nice clean tap water is so boring in comparison, don't you think?

Desperate Cats

Here is a typical morning in our house, bearing in mind I won't let the cats out when it is still dark. Current sunrise is about 07:10.

05:29 - Smokey wants to go outside.
05:30 - Alan and I feed the cats and sit down to breakfast.
05:45 - Alan departs for work. I hold Smokey otherwise he will escape into the garage.
05:46 - Smokey really wants to go outside. Meowing commences.
05:58 - Meowing is louder.
05:59 - Meowing is very insistent.
06:10 - Bandit decides she won't be a part of this and goes back to sleep. If she can, with all this racket going on.
06:15 - Intermittent, yet persistent meowing is spelled by prowling back and forth around the dining room, scratching the carpet to get my attention.
06:30 - Other ways of getting my attention are explored, such as attaching claws into my feet. Meowing continues. I explain to Smokey that I can't make the sun rise any quicker, but he doesn't seem to care.
06:45 - Meowing subdues slightly while Smokey and Bandit engage in some fighting.
06:50 - Bandit takes over mewing for a while to give Smokey a rest.
06:53 - Smokey is back on the case.
07:00 - A path is being worn between my chair and the door.
07:09 - Bandit walks over and mews politely to tell me the sun has risen.
07:10 - I let them out. PEACE reigns again.


Roof Cat

There I am, sitting at my computer, idly gazing out of the window, when I spy Bandit ambling along the roof. Wha..?

Outside I go, and there she is, looking all smug, saying 'Look where I am!'.

A bit of mewing, but all is basically well. However I figured I should probably entice her down. My first ploy was to go to the guest room window, which opens out onto the first floor roof. I should point out our house is in two levels, but the ground floor is wider than the second floor, so the first floor roof encircles the house. Upon reaching the guest room, I can't move the insect screens. Although Bandit comes up to say hello and sniff my hand through the mesh, I can't let her in that way.

Plan B - go round the back to the balcony and see if she will come round and jump up to it. This might have worked, but as soon as I reached the balcony, the heavens opened with a torrential sudden heavy rainstorm. This is Bad, because the water cascades down the roof like nothing else.

I dashed downstairs again, to find Bandit in the only place she could go - under the slight overhang between the two roof parts shown in these pictures. She was tucked up underneath the joist, as far as she could get in there, to stay dry. Lots of mewing ensued!

So, to the garage, to find some stepladders. I assembled our big ladders into as tall a stepladder as I could build, and put it as close to Bandit as I could get it. Climbed up, but Bandit was too far above me to be able to pluck her off, so I presented her my shoulders, and gave her lots of encouragement. This was punctuated on Bandit's part with more mewing. She got the hint though, and after some deliberation jumped down onto my back. She clung on while I descended the ladder, at least for a few steps; she jumped off as quick as she could. I guess a human back isn't as steady a platform as a cat would like.

Meanwhile, enter Smokey. A very wet, drenched Smokey! I have no idea where he'd come from, but he'd obviously been as surprised by the rain as we were. Here they are, sorting themselves out:

I dare say this won't be the last cat adventure...

Monday, September 27, 2010


Here's a picture I have been wanting to take for ages. Check out all these guys! Not sure what they are eating - dead deer and rabbits are the usual fare. Vultures are great, they perform a very useful service!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Alan's Brick Oven, Part 2

Here is some more progress on the brick oven!

Since you last saw it, Alan has put cap stones onto the wall of breeze blocks. We filled the corners with concrete before glueing the stones into place. We used a concrete bonding glue which is very strong.

Yesterday we went to the store and bought copious amounts of wood, which Alan used to make the frame for the top slab.

Here's the inside frame, before Alan put the second half of the board in:

And then he built the outside of the frame. So this entire thing will be filled with more concrete.

We then have to buy some heat resistant slab bricks to lay on top of the plain concrete, which will become the cooking surface.

More to follow, in time...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Alan's Brick Oven, Part 1

Some of you will have heard Alan and I talking about the brick oven Alan is building in our back garden. This is going to be an Italian-style bread and pizza oven.

Here's a few pictures of the construction process...

The hole we dug for the concrete slab. It is 8" deep in the middle. We actually raised the mesh height slightly after this pic was taken.

Here's the truck we rented from Home Depot.

We needed its 3000lb load capacity, and it still took us two trips to bring home sixty 80lb bags of concrete.

We didn't have time to take pictures during the concrete pouring process. We got into a system of working. Alan would heft a bag of concrete into the mixer, I'd pass him a measured bucket of water, he poured that in. Mix for two minutes while I get another bag. Pour out the concrete into the hole; I get busy with the spade and spread out the concrete while Alan hefts another bag... This was bloody hard work and we demolished some beer afterwards, I can tell you.

Here's the slab five days later, after it had dried out.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we got some bricks. Here's the first layer.

Of course, no building work can be done without feline supervision ;-)

Three rows...

Fourth and last row, with angle iron to make the support for the opening. Note the difference in shadow angle; we can put only one row of bricks in our car at a time, so between the third and fourth row was lunch and the journey to the shop and back.

The bricks will get concrete poured down their holes tomorrow for strength, and then we start framing up for the slab to be poured on top.

Watch this space...