My mom sent a phone-taken photo the other night of a bird and asked me what it was. It wasn't a very good shot, so I kept guessing smallish birds of prey. Finally, somebody there told her that it was a Snowy Owl. Why did my mom get to see a Snowy Owl across the street from the dive bar where she was partaking in happy hour when I've been driving all around the state looking for them? That is the way of the Snowy Owl. Grr...
In a jealous rage, I went outside and looked for my friendly neighborhood Screech Owls. I got a few nicer photos of them. They don't have eggs yet, but, eh-hem, they're working on it...
Look who lives across the street from me! Matthew & I were out walking and saw a couple taking pictures at something in the sky. It was this guy-- an Eastern Screech Owl. He lives in a large tree across the street.
Last night, I heard him whinny, so went to check him out again. His partner came out, too, and they sat on a branch together for a while before she disappeared back into the hole.
About a minute later, a squirrel skittered down their tree, and the male went after it, missing. Then, the female came out of the hole and went after it, also missing, but I didn't see the squirrel after that, so I'm not sure where it ended up. I love my neighborhood!
Of course, it's hard to get a good photo of him, because he only hangs around at night, but I'll keep trying!
As you may recall, my CO levels were a bit out of whack last week. The furnace guy came, built us a shiny new furnace, and all was well. Except the furnace wouldn't turn on. So, I told the landlord, and he said he'd take care of it. Then, around 8pm, I thought it would be good to tell the neighbors that the heat wasn't working. We agreed-- it was in the 80s, so not a huge problem.
At around 10:30, Matthew & I were in bed and thought we heard a knock at our door. We decided not to answer. Then, we heard some loud noises outside and the backing up of a large vehicle (the kind that beeps to let you know it's backing up), and we thought maybe someone was coming to tell us we were being towed. I decided to check, and saw that the neighbor upstairs was letting the gas guy into her apartment. Apparently, she'd heard the furnace kick on and thought she smelled gas.
The gas guy wanted to look at our furnace, which is easiest to access through our apartment. I let him in, showed him to the basement, pointed him to the light, and as soon as he pointed his flashlight into the furnace, a bat started swarming his head.
Me? I said, almost calmly, "bat!" and went back upstairs. The gas guy? "F*ck!, Holy Sh*t! Oh my god!" and he ran up the stairs, slamming the door behind him. It was pretty hilarious. I told the gas guy he could head on out since his gas meter was reading zeros, and that I'd call the landlord about the furnace. The next day, the furnace was fixed (eh hem, the thermostat apparently just needed a new battery...).
And the bats? Well, I wanted to go down there and get rid of them humanely, but just kicking them out won't solve the problem. The critter people will need to come and figure out how they got in and fix it. So, that will happen today or tomorrow.
There've been tons of bats flying around our neighborhood lately, which makes me happy. In theory, I think bats are adorable and important to the ecosystem. In my basement, I think otherwise.
And after the extensive google image search I just conducted, I'm not sure I find them all that adorable. I'm officially a little creeped out by them.
Last week was ridiculous. My schedule was so flooded that I can't believe my head's still above water. But here I am, breathing still. Many of the things I've been up to seem worth mentioning, so I will give them each their own post, starting first with Arts Day, because it happened first in the week (kind of).
I stumbled upon Arts Wisconsin, a state arts advocacy group, through facebook, through which I found their website, through which I learned that Arts Day was approaching. What is Arts Day? Well, I had no idea, but it sounded like something I needed to be a part of, so I signed up and went to both the actual Arts Day and the pre-day arts leaders' advocacy conference.
Here's what Arts Day is all about: It's a day when artists and arts advocates (people in charge of non-profits, teachers, patrons, etc.) come to Madison from around the state to speak up for the arts. You make appointments to meet with your legislators and tell them why the arts matter. Not to you, but to your community-- their constituents. A lovely idea. Sadly, most of the legislators were tied up with bill-passing and such, and not many of us got to meet with them. We were encouraged to keep in touch with our legislators regularly on our home turf. This sounds like a good idea to me.
If you'd like to know more about how you can speak up for the arts, no matter where you are, learn here: Arts Action Toolkit.
A selection of arts advocates enjoying
muffins and listening to speakers talk
about the role arts play in communities.
If you're in Wisconsin and are associated with the arts in any way-- you have a kid who likes to dance, a parent who writes, a friend who paints, you stop by a community art store sometimes on your way home from work, etc.-- you should go to Arts Day next year. The pre-Arts Day event was more intimate, and I got to meet amazing people who are doing great things for the arts in places like Rhinelander and Woodruff, WI. If you can, I urge you to go to both. You'll meet amazing people and learn why the arts matter in your community and their importance throughout the state.
A few days ago, I thought I smelled gas in our backyard, but what do I know about how gas smells? Then I thought I smelled it the next day in the front yard, so I sent Matthew thither, and he didn't smell it. On Saturday, a very nice person walked by our house and smelled it, so he/she called the gas company, who sent a friendly man to investigate. He informed us that our carbon monoxide level should be in the hundreds at most, and it was in the thousands. (Now we have a new furnace.)
At the time of this discovery, I was heading out to see my cousin, Josh Lepak, perform in Titanic, the Musical. It's not the movie version, but a more historical telling of the story. I started crying as everyone boarded the ship (some of them carrying children or puppies), which happened in the first five minutes. It was a bleak way to spend such a blue-skied afternoon (it was in the 60s!). However, after having seen my cousin Josh's performance as the Phantom of the Opera, I wouldn't have missed seeing him again. (I'm sure I'll have to spend much more than $10 to see him perform in the future.) Here's a clip from Appleton North's Phantom performance.
I've been more visually inclined as of late. I watched Bridesmaids, which I enjoyed primarily for the mom with teenage boys-- there should be more films that make fun of raising teenage boys-- and Contagion, which was good only because they didn't try to make me empathize with characters before killing them off, which meant way-less weeping and panic than I would have expected from myself. (Although, I'll admit, I did almost cry about the monkey in the cage and was near hysterics during the preview for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.)
Despite my occasional teary outburst, the sun is shining, the cardinals are singing, and the backyard bunnies are getting busy beneath my bird feeder, so things are wonderful. Or actually, maybe reverse that: Because things are wonderful, there are occasional fits of weeping.
There was that half-month of writing, during which I wrote everyday. Since then, my word input-output ratio has been way off. So, to catch up with language, I'm reading The Sociopath Next Door and finding it easier than usual to read non-fiction. Yesterday, I read this wonderful article about teenage hysteria in New York Times Magazine. You should check it out for the beautiful photos if nothing else (taken by Gillian Laub, who has a remarkable sense of person and color and composition).
I have this song in my head and it's relevant to nothing in real life except that I'm so busy that I can think of nothing but Willie Nelson. Except also, I think a friend recently told me she dreamed he was trying to hook up with her. (Upon further consideration, I think she actually said Lenny Kravitz. I don't know how I would confuse the two...the confusion might be syllabic in nature.)
Finally, I've recovered and caught up with life after AWP. I would talk about my AWP experience, but the only people who really want to know about AWP go to AWP, and if you've been to AWP, you don't need someone to ramble on about it, so I won't. I will mention that I sat in on some good panels and some bad panels. I heard D.A. Powell read, which was fantastic, and went to a great reading by folks from Black Lawrence Press (check out Lisa Fay Coutley's chapbook) and Devil's Lake (check out everything in this magazine).
As part of the recovering process, I spent all day yesterday cleaning out my closet. It's a large closet-- it doubles as Matthew's office-- so there was quite a bit to organize. I still haven't gone through any of the maybe 30 books and magazine I collected at the bookfair. I just finished unpacking yesterday. It's been slow-going, but I'm getting there.
I mentioned before leaving for Chicago that I wanted to live there. When I got to the city, I was gung-ho, looking at apartments and such (by which I mean looking in apartment windows and dreaming about living in said apartments). On my last day in city, I was packing and watching this show on HGTV where this guy went to fix a house on a lake in Canada. I decided maybe we should move to a lake in Canada instead. And own goats. (Notice a pattern here?) Of course, this means we're in the right place now. Madison is a nice mix of Chicago and Canada... if only there were the sunshine of San Francisco.