Last year, an enterprising bird made her way into the nook of an awning overhanging my backyard. She spent weeks collecting twigs, and building herself an impressive little nest. After constructing the nest, she laid an egg in the center and my awning became something of an incubator for bird life. That would have been fine, had it not also become something of an outdoor toilet for the mama bird. Before long, I was up on a ladder tearing down the nest and wiping down the beams with a soapy rag. I thought that would be the end of it, but now that spring has come again, another bird has made her nest in this cozy nook. She’s also made a mess of my backyard, which means I’ll have to evict her from the premises. I might even install bird spikes to make sure she doesn’t come back.
Archive for the ‘Marmaduke’ Category
I don’t know why, but seeing the inside of Marmaduke’s dog house creeps me out. Maybe it’s the dark shading on the walls and ceiling. Maybe it’s the curly-haired doll with the bugged-out, vertiginous eyes. Who knows, it might just be the simple fact that a Great Dane is hoarding (and no doubt defiling) a family’s Christmas presents. But I suspect the reason I’m weirded out has more to do with my expectations of comic strip dog houses. Take Snoopy’s dog house, for example; it functioned as everything from an airplane to a bachelor pad and the fact that we never saw inside just made it that much more interesting. Marmaduke’s dog house, on the other hand, turns out to be nothing more than a few dingy planks of wood.
I’ve heard a lot about banks refusing to loan money to people, but my experience has been just the opposite. A little less than a year ago, my wife and I were able to secure a home loan on very reasonable terms. When we contacted companies to remodel our basement, they assured us that we could finance the entire (fairly expensive) project with no money down. And when we called a heating contractor to service our boiler, he told us he could simply replace the whole, unbearably ancient, unit and offered us a three-year payment plan on the spot. Fortunately, we’ve been wise enough not to sink ourselves into debt, but it seems like the opportunities are still there for people who just don’t feel like being frugal.
How did Marmaduke get stimulus funds? Well, if he’s anything like me, he purchased a home and applied for the first-time homebuyer’s tax credit. If it weren’t for that $8,000 from the federal government, I’d still be living in an apartment and saving up for a down-payment. I wouldn’t be writing checks to my mortgage holder, my homeowner’s insurance company, my basement contractor, or my favorite hardware store. I also wouldn’t be paying property taxes. As a homeowner, it sure feels like I’m contributing more to the economy than I was as a renter, and if it took a little push from the federal government to get me there, then so be it.
Today’s Marmaduke provides a snapshot of the weather in Chicago this weekend. Saturday was cold and rainy, which would have been miserable enough for spring even if we hadn’t been treated to hours of wet, heavy snow later in the evening. Temperatures rose throughout the day on Sunday, causing the snow to melt quickly and flood the streets with slush. It could have been worse. I could have been stuck in Fargo, North Dakota where melting snow has caused massive flooding and evacuations. But even though we just got a dusting, it was still enough to put a damper on the weekend. If I had a tail, I’d have dragged it through the snow just like Marmaduke.