bunny_hugger's father met us at the door of the rented house. We'd taken longer getting up there than we wanted, and he'd been asking for the house's access code as much as three months before the weeklong trip was to start. He had bad news for us. The hot and cold water lines into the washing machine were reversed, so selecting 'cold' washes gave you hot and vice-versa. Just as had been the case last year, and just as he had insisted bunny_hugger warn the houseowner about, and just as she had warned the houseowner about last year. I confess I will get singularly-minded about odd stuff at times, but this seemed to me odd before-you-get-into-the-house news.
Also peculiar but lower enough priority that I didn't realize what was going on until the last day we were there: someone left a debit card behind. I had assumed it was the homeowner's, leaving it as an in-case-of-sudden-emergency thing to trusted houseguests. Also I couldn't imagine trusting houseguests like that. But, no, it was someone else's, a previous guest's, and dealing with that became one of those things to be dealt with.
First goal: set up Columbo's area. As before we figured to set up his enclosed pen in the kitchen, on the rougher wood floors, with a tarp and fleece underneath in case he had accidents. Minor obstacle this time: they'd put a table in the kitchen. That could be folded up and moved away, although it was one of those tables engineered so that every obvious attempt to fold it up was somehow wrong and would cause table leaves to go flying out at your toes. But we managed, eventually, and with toes intact to get Columbo set up and looking dubiously at this strange new room.
Some stuff in the house was changed, as would happen over a year. bunny_hugger and I went upstairs to claim the same bedroom we'd gotten last year, the one with the west-facing windows since, without curtains on anything, mornings could be unhappy. The little writing desk that had been a perfect spot to rest my laptop was gone, without replacement, and that was a bother since then everything would naturally plug into a heap of consumer electronics on the floor.
Other changed stuff: the speakers were gone! The living room was rearranged a little, so we could easily find the DVDs and all. But the TV was moved to a different wall, and the stereo was there, but the pretty good quality speakers weren't. Best we could figure was to put the sound through the flat-screen TV. This spoiled stuff like playing our iPods' music; it's not like the TV would give appreciably better sound than our iPods directly, especially given we would usually be in the dining room or on the porch. We had nasty fears that the speakers were stolen sometime in the year since we'd been there. (Also while we were fiddling around I saw the over-the-air TV got that digital substation that shows Mystery Science Theater 3000, but who had time to watch?)
bunny_hugger and I went to the Tom's supermarket in Northport, to get provisions for the week. The supermarket was of the opinion that they were closing at 8 pm, and they overruled the web site which held that 10 pm was the closing hour. Well, we got some reliable stuff, like pop and coffee and what would be plenty of half-and-half for us for the week but wouldn't last bunny_hugger's parents through Tuesday and all that. bunny_hugger felt rushed by the lateness of the hour. I didn't figure we were in any trouble for shopping, especially since we didn't dither around asking for help finding obscure items, although the store's offering help wheeling our groceries out to the car didn't help her sense that they wanted us out out OUT.
In putting groceries away we discovered a box of cans of Diet Squirt in a cabinet over the fridge. Left over from an earlier guest? Surely. Left over from us last year? ... We ... could not rule that out. The diet version of an eccentric choice like Squirt is definitely the sort of thing we would buy.
In the evening bunny_hugger, her mother, and I played a round of Mysterium. This is a card game bunny_hugger had recently gotten. The gamemaster --- bunny_hugger in this case --- is a ghost, sending visions to a team of psychics to solve her murder. The visions are these cards of surreal, dreamlike images. Ballet-dancing rats on a clockwork boat, a scythe cutting down Stonehenge pillars, a millwheel tethered to a hot-air-balloon basket floating above a field of carp. Stuff like that, although I'm just making up those examples. The challenge is to communicate through this. bunny_hugger's mother and I could talk about what we understood our visions to be, which gave bunny_hugger some help in tailoring future cards to see what kinds of things we would key in on. (I'm prone to seeing dominant colors or compositions of scenes as important, for example, and will miss stuff like ``maybe the field of javelines suggests the murder weapon was a needle?''.) Happy to say, we won, solving the murder and presumably, in-universe, causing some good benefit to result.
Sometime in the night afterwards, if I remember right, bunny_hugger's brother arrived, and we briefed him on everything that had got set up, and he noted what a large rabbit Columbo was. And we were all, at least, set up for the week.
Trivia: Moses B Cotsworth's early-20th-century perpetual calendar was known in the United States as the Eastman Calendar, as Kodak founder George Eastman was a great proponent and supporter of Cotsworth's reforms. Eastman insisted on giving credit to Cotsworth. Source: Marking Time: The Epic Quest to Invent the Perfect Calendar, Duncan Steel.
Currently Reading: The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution, Alex Storozynski.
PS: poking around Cedar Point!
Mean Streak's lift hill, part removed, as seen from the Judy K train on the Cedar Point and Lake Erie railroad. Doesn't that look like a partly-completed Roller Coaster Tycoon scenario?
The cleaning log for the Cedar Point and Lake Erie railroad's Frontier Trail station, the other station. Clearly not a log that spends much of its time being sat upon.
Another close-up of the Mean Streak, with part of a hill just gone for the sake of conversion into Steel Vengeance. Again, this is such a Roller Coaster Tycoon scenario challenge: ``rebuild the missing pieces of this roller coaster to make an excitement level 6.0 or higher ride''.