Five days deep

When I left last you it was July 4th night when the annoying sounds of backyard pyrotechnic wannabes was all I heard, terrifying Elsa in the process.  Friday was less physical labor but still way too busy nonetheless.  After doing chicken chores and weeding I went out in the truck to make stops at Home Depot and Costco.  The biggest purchase at HD was a proper wheelbarrow, something believe it or not I did not own.  The closest thing I had was a small and definitely not heavy duty plastic yard cart that somehow has lasted at least a dozen years.

I figured the wheelbarrow would come in handy for future sod pallet deliveries as well as countless other home chores.  At Costco, along with groceries I dropped another $100 on a replacement UPS since the one I bought not so long ago for my main workstation shit the bed.

During the morning I was doing everything I could to get Kristen the chicken to eat and/or drink.  She has been going downhill for at least a couple weeks.  By now we are quite familiar with the signs, withdrawal from the other hens, lack of energy, and not showing normal interest in food.

We gave her a dose of dewormer earlyish on to see if it would help.  We also have been giving her probiotics mixed in with food that she loved so much that she would still eat like yogurt, berries, and watermelon.  Kristen has had rounds of feeling off before, in fact she laid a lash egg around a year ago which is normally a death sentence, however she has always managed to bounce back. We hoped this would be another example of it.

So up until Friday she was still eating and drinking albeit not as she should.  She even was up on the perch Friday morning, which she got onto herself without assistance Thursday night.  But as I was doing the chicken chores I could see she was really weak.  When I walked up to her and picked her up without her even trying to struggle I knew it was bad news.  I accepted that she was unlikely to pull out of this nosedive.

Birds try to keep up a good face right until the very end and Kristen was a fighter.  However later in the afternoon I saw she was motionless in the same spot I had placed her earlier to get her out of the rain.  She was gone.  As is always the case, I cried when I realized she was dead.  I always have an emotional reaction to one of our birds dying but Kristen was special in a lot of ways.

She was one of the chickens that without a doubt knew her name.  When we would say it, even if we were a few feet away she would often squat down, expecting some sort of interaction from us.  When her sister Stephie mysteriously disappeared she took Stephie’s place as the outcast in many situations.  Ironically when Daelin the rooster was running wild attacking any hen he could get his beak on, Kristen was the last one that would go toe to toe with him and fight him.  I’ll never forget when she stared him down, flared out her neck feathers and then tried to jump on his back.  Eventually she stopped fighting and ran away from Daelin as well.  It was actually Daelin chasing Kristen that was the straw that broke the camel’s back and moved us to re-home him asap.  We simply could not tolerate him trying to harm our little angel, Kristen.

I buried Kristen in the back of the property with the other birds, about half of which got dug by predators.  In order to hopefully avoid that I dug a grave approaching three feet deep and we wrapped her body in burlap and a plastic bag.  As one final counter measure I grabbed a dozen palm fronds from the fill pit and covered the grave with them.  I was very sad that we lost her but in some ways glad it happened when we were home instead of Saturday when we were gone all day long.  My feelings about animals in general make chicken ownership a much more emotionally wrenching experience than it would be for most.

Later in the afternoon I tasked myself with replacing the mower blades.  When I was finishing up the mowing on Thursday I noticed the deck was sounding loud.  I figured the badly beat up blades were out of balance.  When I replaced the bad blades with new blades I fired them up and expected everything to be great, it wasn’t.  The one side wasn’t spinning normally and I even heard them making contact with one another so I turned it off immediately.  My current theory is the blade spindle on that side is bad.  I just happen to have an extra one laying around somewhere so I am hoping to get a chance to try swapping that out tomorrow.  Having the tractor down for any prolonged period of time during summer is not a manageable situation.

Late in the afternoon I dropped off Elsa at Ali’s place.  Shugs was there.  They agreed to watch Elsa for us until Saturday night while we went to Supercon in Miami.  There are five human beings in the world that Elsa trusts, myself, Cindy, Katie, Ali, and Shugs, that’s it.  Anyone else sends her running to a corner to hide.  I felt badly leaving her there of course but she had the three other dogs to entertain her and I knew she was in good hands.

Friday night we did our final prep for Supercon which is a shadow of what is required when you are going there in full cosplay mode.  Instead I just picked out the shorts and World of Warcraft shirt I was going to wear and made sure the Tesla was charged to full.  I set a 6:15 alarm for Saturday so I could go out and clean up the chicken coop before we left.  We pulled out somewhere close to 7:45 as we wanted to try to arrive as close to the show opening of 10AM as possible.

The drive across state in the Tesla went pretty flawlessly.  I utilized auto pilot for the vast majority of it.  The feature makes highway driving nearly stress free as the car does a great job of transporting you quickly with a large, automatic safety barrier in place.  I had nightmare ideas about parking for the venue but we wound up finding a lot that was no more than a 10 minute walk from the convention center which cost $20 to park all day.

Cindy and I have been to a number of “cons” at this point and my initial impression of this one was that they had their shit together.  We moved through the check in process very quickly and before we knew it we were walking into the main exhibition areas.  Getting there early meant we got to have a couple hours where you weren’t elbow to elbow with human beings at every turn.  As the day wore on the crowds got much more dense.

Even so the convention center is absolutely humongous so even though the inner cris cross rows got maddeningly busy, you could always escape to the outer perimeter which had room to breathe.

I originally thought we would be going to a few specific events that were on the schedule.  One of the coolest was a Hearthstone tournament that unfortunately was cancelled for some unknown reason.  We did sit in on a panel of some voice actors for a bit but the majority of our time was split between walking around while doing people watching and checking out the exhibits.

In years past we bought very little, if anything at all from the cons.  When we were in costume it seemed like every 30 seconds we were being asked to pose for another picture, thanks to the incredible job Cindy did with the costume creation.  This year with no picture requests we spent a lot more time looking at stuff.  I actually bought about a dozen old comic books, just to read and have.

There was a point in my life that comic books brought such anticipation and excitement as a child.  I had a TON of comic books that I think got unceremoniously sold at a yard sale eons ago in PA.  I am looking forward to thumbing through the pages of my new collection.

The celebrity list this year was not as impressive as some other cons we have attended.  Cindy was excited to meet Jon Cusack who was originally supposed to be there but later bowed out.  Cindy did go up and say hi to one of the actors from The Office.  While she was talking to him I was within spitting distance of George Takei, who surprisingly had next to no one in his line.  I should have just walked up to him and said hi, but since he was selling autographs for $70 a pop I felt like I would have been somewhat of a dick to try to get some free interaction with him.  I think in reality George would not have cared at all and would have been fine with the gesture.  Of course I know him from Star Trek but I really did not really start liking him until he became a regular on the Stern show.  He is responsible for some historic funny moments.

We headed out of the convention center around four.  The plan was to find a supercharger, eat dinner as the car charged and then head home.  Well this sounded simple but turned out to be very frustrating, from a lack of information.  Cindy and I navigated to two spots designated as super chargers in the app.  However both times the only thing we saw were parking garages that you had to pay to enter, well that can’t be it, right?

Well when the third location once again took us to a parking garage I said f it, I guess we will go in.  I grabbed my parking ticket and started to ascend the garage.  On the third level we found the chargers, finally.  It seemed crazy to me that I had to pay to enter a parking garage to supercharge but as I thought about it more, I was in Miami, free parking does not exist.  We hooked up the car and walked to the street to look for something to eat.  We were in the Miami Art district.

The car said it would only take 45 minutes to charge back to 90%, we were in the high 20’s when I plugged in.  We found a decent place to eat but literally had to throw down our food, the car charged that fast, so fast that I upped it to charge to 100% to buy us more time.  We got back a couple minutes after the car had finished, supercharging is pretty amazing.

The drive back across the state went smoothly as well.  We picked up Elsa from Ali’s.  It sounded like she had a great time.  Elsa got her first ride ever in the back of the Tesla.  I have a dog cover I bought for the car awhile ago but this was our first chance to use it.  It was a very fun but exhausting day.

This morning after chicken duty and paying my bills I wanted to get an EUC ride in.  However Katie and Daniel had asked if I could help them wall mount a second tv, this time in their bedroom.  I decided to combine the two things together.  I told Cindy we could load up the truck with the tools I need but then I can ride on the Monster to their house while Cindy takes the truck to get coffee and meet us there.  She wasn’t thrilled with the plan but it killed two birds with one stone.

The less than great part of the plan was it required me to go on a section of Everglades Blvd that doesn’t even have an appreciable shoulder on the road to ride in.  I had to ride that section for a few miles.  Luckily since it was Sunday morning the traffic was light and I didn’t have major issues.  Hanging the tv went well, I think that is the last thing they will need from me, at least for now.

This afternoon we got out to see a matinee showing of the new Spiderman movie, something I had been looking forward to ever since seeing Avengers Endgame.  Unfortunately I was disappointed with the effort.  I don’t want to spoil things for others but there was just a lot of things that were dumb in the movie to me.  I am never a fan of scenarios where the viewer is tasked with constantly determining what is real and what is fake.  It wasn’t a horrible movie but it definitely was in the bottom third of the Marvel movies I have seen.  I’d give it a B.  You know the movie isn’t great when the post credit scene is the thing you found most interesting about the entire experience.

We have gotten a ton of rain the last few days.  We were pretty dry before this wet onslaught and my freshly laid sod appreciates it but I am hoping my last two days of staycation have enough good weather where I can get some outdoor stuff wrapped up and maybe have a chance to get some more PEV riding in.


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