Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ridin' the Storm Out

OK - Can we be DONE with rain for a while? Just for a while? I know by July when my grass is burned up I'll be beggin' for rain, but right now, I'm sick of it. Sick to death of it. Don't care if I ever see it again.

Most excellent friend Chele was having a graduation party for stepson Cody (YAY Cody!)on a day "sporadic showers, no torrential downpours." Uh-huh.

It was sprinkling as I arrived. That shifted to a light rain and then ... winds that blew off tablecloths and nearly toppled the canopies they had set up. A strong, drenching rain. So much for no torrential downpours. It continued to rain on and off during the evening and I had quite the light show on my drive home. And the closer I got to the river, the more spectacular it became. Had I been in a position to get somewhere to take pictures, I'd have loved to try and capture shots of the lightning I was watching. It was amazing.

We really needed this rain -- NOT! The ground was already saturated earlier today, so I can just imagine how it will be tomorrow. I want to work on the shrubs but they are completely soaked. Thinking that it just isn't going to happen. Maybe I'll try to set some stuff up outside and do some painting instead. It's not supposed to rain tomorrow.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Yards Are Nice ... Sometimes

I b*tch pretty mightily about yard work. And why not? I hate it. My grandfather always said that yards were useless. They would have a purpose only if they were "blacktopped and parked on."

The older I get, the more that old man's point makes sense and sounds good to me. But ... then are times like this evening.

Toby the Cat, desperate for friendship of creatures of any kind, was thrilled to at least for a brief moment have not one, but TWO bunnies in his front yard. He likes to sit in the front door or in the kitchen window and chatter at whomever or in some cases whatever (once, a plastic bag that happened to blow into the yard) will sit in his visual range.

I had just enough time to fire off a single shot before both bunnies darted over to the neighbors. Clearly, they came for the clover. The blacktop? That probably wouldn't attract too many.

This is what I got, shooting right through the full-view storm door.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pick a Pattern

I think I've settled on the patterns that I want to use on the porch and walkway. I guess you are supposed to use the same for both; I'm not really sure. I think this basketweave is just the ticket for the porch but because the walkway curves (see inset of This D*mn House below my header), not sure that will work as well there. At least not with me doing it.

I know that I don't want to do a herringbone on either one.

What might work best on the walkway is the running bond pattern. This picture even shows it on a curved walkway. And, it uses the words "one of the simplest" to describe it. I think I'm sold. Seriously, what really got me on this one is the illustration shows multi-color bricks which is what I'm going to be working with. I really like how that looks. I think it's going to be great with my dark gray house. (Yes, I need to update the photo. I've got to get the shrubs in order first or I expect I'll come home one day to find the one closest to the walkway on the right sitting on the sofa and watching TV.)

I'm getting psyched about the job. Hoping I can get started before the excitement wears off.

We'll just have to see what else Mother Nature has in store.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Redneck Restroom

When we bought This D*mn House, unbeknownst to us, we inherited at least 1,000 yards of silver duct tape. The previous owners were in love with the stuff. It's like they were related to Red Green. (If you ever caught that show on PBS, you know he refers to it as "the handyman's friend.")It turned up in the oddest places.

Inside the kitchen cabinet to hold on a towel rack. Holding the cardboard in place that should have been insulation for the attic fan. Anchoring the heating duct in place in the dining room. And, my personal favorite: attaching a broken ball to the pump in the toilet tank. And that's just a few examples.

So it was with great disdain when I brought out the duct tape tonight to do a quick fix. And of all things, it was to do a temporary repair on the toilet seat. It cracked. And if you've sat on one in just such a way to get pinched ... not fun.

I have a spare seat someplace because we got an extra since the seat matches the beadboard with the same panel strip pattern in the bathroom. I just don't know where it is right now nor do I feel like dragging out tools to actually change it right now.

So, the toilet seat has the lovely added touch of duct tape. Nice redneck restroom I got there. But hey, at least the tape is white. Right?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Locked Inside My Camera

I finally got that "mystery roll" of film developed. It's funny because after switching to digital just over a year ago, I haven't had that same anticipation of "What'd I get?" In this case, it was more "What did I shoot?"

As it turned out, some pictures from Christmas 2006, a handful of shots of Ozzie and Toby (VERY cute ones, by the way)and finally, a few shots during last year's flooring project. In one, you can see the carpet still on one half while the new laminate is in place on the other half. In another, you can see how bad the dining room hardwood was and why I chose to not tackle resurfacing that.

Just another reason that BEFORE shots are great to have. Thanks to finding that roll of film showed that "durings" can be pretty cool, too.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rain, Rain Go AWAY!!!

So, it’s the third day that I’m off -- and a third consecutive day of storms. I’ve been trying each day to mow and/or cut the shrubbery, but to no avail. Meanwhile, the midigit LOOKS great. So nice to have my finger back instead of a massive bruise attached to the end of my hand.

It still hurts though. Some dormant nerve endings have apparently awakened during the healing, and with them, some not so pleasant feelings. So having this time off has been helpful.

But now I’m itching to get something DONE. Anything.

I did round up some more bricks yesterday (100 more, baby, bringing the total to 320) and got the paint from the Behr sale that ends today. And bought food and got mom some stuff as she hasn’t been well for a while.

For now, I have stopped staring at my to-do list (with nothing crossed off) and resorted to watching TV, something I never get to do on a weekday! I got tired of watching murder and mystery and switched to something a little lighter like Jon and Kate Plus 8. If you’ve never seen it, they have twin girls who are 3 years older than their sextuplets (3 boys, 3 girls.)

I’m on my third episode and have been alternately wishing that I had kids and thanking God that I don’t. I think I would have been happy with the twins and just stopped. But hey, they wanted kids … And as my dear fantastic high school friend Cindy says – she, mom of an older girl AND triplets – “Which one would you give back?”

They really are pretty amazing. The mom can be kind of a b*tch. There are times I’d like to reach through the TV and pop her one, so not sure how the dad restrains himself sometimes. (I’m sure there have to be lots of off-camera issues because from what you see on the show, the dad is pretty great. Deals with it all a whole lot better than 99 percent of the guys I know would. They’d have already been years past divorce court!)

It's still cloudy, the radar is showing more rain moving in. My grass remains unmowed and I'm still watching.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Box Happy

So remodels for both bedrooms are on the to-do list. We're doing them in the same toille pattern.

There will be wallpaper on the top half and beadboard on the bottom half, separated by chair rail. Border is going up along the edge of the ceiling in my room. Carole is getting crown moulding. She is getting black, I am getting burgundy. It will look great once it's done. Looking forward to getting both done. Maybe by Labor Day ...

Another of the new additions will be a bunch of matching material boxes. Carole got them at Hobby Lobby on a recent excursion. She went totally box happy and got just about every one of them that she could lay her hands on. We were lucky in that they came in the very colors we will be using.

They will be great because neither room has much of a closet to speak of and both are rather small. These boxes, in a multitude of shapes and sizes, will not only match but will help with some extra storage. You've got to love that.

Maybe this is an option for your storage issues. The Stylish Nest tackled just such an issue in its blog. Joann's and Michael's also have a good selection of stylish boxes and baskets. One is sure to fit your decor.

Friday, May 23, 2008

This Old House

So I got to look at my first issue of This Old House magazine. Can I tell you that I feel SO much more sane now? I am not the only crazy DIY-er out there! I feel like I have found my brethren. Except these people are serious. I'm an amateur at best but they make me look like I haven't even hit novice yet.

This whole issue was about different people and their projects. There is so much good information in there. I'll have to share some wisdom in a future post. Another great thing the magazine revealed was a new Web site for more of my kind, The site describes itself as being designed for the "dwelling obsessed." Is that me or what?!

Since it's supposed to be pleasant tomorrow, and really warming up after that (close to 90 both Sunday and Monday, with rain likely later Monday) tomorrow will probably be a yardwork day. Not just mowing either. I'll have to take on the shrubs. Need to buy some cheap plastic dropcloths to throw under them. That's the easiest way I know to pick up clippings. We'll just have to see how the finger holds up.

Once that's done, I can probably update the photo for This D*mn House. (The current photo is from last Memorial Day, and prior to last summer/fall's new paint job.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Long Weekend Ahead

Some of my colleagues are packing bags, heading out of town to enjoy the long weekend ahead. Not me, even though I'm getting a weekend longer than most. (Tacking a few days of vacation onto the holiday.)

I had planned to start work on the brick walkway but I don't have all the bricks and, more importantly, I'm not sure my left hand is up to the task. Partly, that's because the job includes tearing out the existing concrete walkway. Yeah, my purple/green/maroon still swollen finger can really swing a sledge! (As I type this, I'm laughing because I just got my first issue of This Old House magazine. They have a section called Around Your House and a promo says "The Day I set the Porch on Fire And Other Disasters." It SO sounds like This D*mn House!)

Lawrence is coming on Tuesday and I'm not sure what jobs Carole has picked out for him. In the meantime, I'll be doing some yard work and trying to get the first of the two bedroom projects started. And since it's Memorial Day weekend, there's a Behr paint sale, of course.

So, there is one big trip on my list during the next week: Home Depot, here we come.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


No, my finger doesn't have me howlin' but the full moon does.

I think there was a full moon last night. I caught a glimpse of tonight's full-looking moon and it reminded me that I tried to shoot the full moon in March. Snapped this from my front porch.

Yes, scenery geek is alive and well ...

Entirely Too Much Junk

We've always gotten a steady stream of junk mail at This D*mn House. We just seem to be getting more than our share this week.

Case in point -- since Saturday, we have received: at least four unsolicited credit card offers; about three different cell phone plan offers; pleas for money, accompanied by return address labels, from the U.S. Humane Society, the Audubon Society, and the Disabled American Veterans; just pleas for money, no labels or anything else, from the Grey Wolf Foundation, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Alzheimer's Association, and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Oh, lest I forget, offers for a water purifier, a new/used car on-the-spot-loan, and satellite TV. And then there's assisted living centers, the AARP, and a variety of insurance plans, all targeting my mother.

Where DOES all of this stuff come from? I just wish I had the postage that was used to send most of it!

Not trying to dis any of the organizations. I have supported and will continue to support several of them. I'm just starting to feel like the posterchild for cause-related donations!

And don't even get me started on catalogs ...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hand Jive

Is it possible to flip "the bird" to your middle finger? If so, I would very much like to. The swelling and discoloration persist and the injured midigit (my new word, a combo of middle and digit, pronounced mih-dih-jit) has been a thorn in my side all day. I can't very well take the Rx drugs at work since I'm betting they'd like to pay me to be conscious. And the Tylenol I took at lunchtime did nothing. Nothing.

The only thing that provided any peace at all was putting the thing on ice. I'm not supposed to do that for more than 30 minutes every few hours. So what's the solution?

The worst part is that the medieval midigit made my pinky finger hurt, too. Now, most of the rest of my hand has followed suit. I know … whine, whine, whine. As if I have it so bad. Especially now as I sit waiting for the Rx to take effect.

I found myself moved to tears last night by photos of the earthquake victims in China on the news. Incredibly, there are still miracles happening along the way. And people aren't the only ones who made it out alive.
Makes my pain seem pretty miniscule indeed. But, who knows? Maybe in the smallest way, the universe's preocupation with my hand will distract it from torturing one of those poor souls for a while.

It would be worth it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Talk to the Hand

It was a good weekend. Brick-a-bracking on Friday night yielded 150 new bricks at a premium sale price. Saturday was scrapbooking -- which included an impromptu trip to Michael's, courtesy of most excellent friend Chele -- and housekeeping.

And then there was yesterday. It was a gorgeous day, so attention turned to outside and mowing.

It was a good temp but a bit windy. That made both bagging and sweeping difficult. It also resulted in an injury -- yep, that's my hand in the photo -- that had me starting the week in the local ER.

It happened as I was wrapping things up. I have to fold in the handle on the mower to get it into the shed. I had it in the shed and one side loosened while I worked on the other to fold it down. I had just loosened the second side but before I could reach over to the first and fold it in, a strong gust of wind hit the shed door which in turn hit the lawnmower, dropping the bar down -- catching my middle finger right between the two pieces of bar.

The first 20 minutes or so were excruciating. Surely, the top of my finger was going to just pop straight off. I ran cold water on it and wrapped it in a towel with ice. It eased slightly, so I drove the yard waste to the dump.

I thought that keeping ice on it and taping it down would help but it didn't. The swelling and discoloration were both worse. I decided around 6:30 to just go on to the ER.

The good news: It's not broken, so it won't take as long to heal. The bad news: It can't be drained to alleviate the swelling and pressure. So, it probably would hurt less if it was broken, according to the doc. It's splinted and I have to keep regularly icing it through tomorrow. It could be up to a week before I notice a "marked difference" in the swelling.

The better news: It's my left hand, so it's not as limiting as it could be. And they gave me drugs. So, I was able to get a little rest earlier today. Something I didn't get much of last night. So, here's to a good night's sleep.

Uplifting Conversation?

Last week, I entered an elevator car where two people were having a very gorey discussion. "Aw man, there were guts everywhere," one young man said to the other. "It was awesome."

I'm hoping that they were talking about a movie, a video game, or something that didn't involve animals of any kind, human or otherwise. If not, there are some real psychopaths working in my building.

Friday morning, I walked into a conversation that had started outside the elevator and walked on with me. I guess I was just tuning out the usual chit-chat, but as I prepared to leave the elevator at my floor, my ears couldn't help but perk up when I heard: "But the chef is finally out of jail."

Now that's a story I'd have liked to hear.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Downside of Buses and Baseball

It’s days like this that I’m grateful that we have a feisty bus driver.

She’s not afraid of traffic. In fact, I think the traffic should be afraid of her. “When that school bus goes, I’m going with him,” she says boldly to her passengers. And at this point, I’m wondering if it might not be wise to go sit on the other side of the bus.

Yes, that’s right. I’m on the bus. (By the time you read this though, I will already have been to the grocery store, had my dinner, and be comfy on my couch at home.)

I got a new computer at work yesterday. The thing is almost laughingly small. It weighs nothing because the DVD drive is external. Seriously, it can't weigh more than two or three pounds. (Yes, I am easily amused.)

Not that I'm complaining. It will definitely make life easier for the commute. But if you look at this computer and then compare it to the new TV-sized flatscreen monitor they replaced my old dinosaur with, it makes for an interesting juxtaposition. That's all I'm saying.

I’m in traffic hell because the Cardinals followed their new MO again today: blow an early lead in the final innings. As if I wasn’t already mad enough over this. (Edmonds link.) If they had kept their lead and won, they wouldn’t even have had to play the bottom of the ninth – ideal for a day game at home – and this traffic would already have been long gone.

I guess I’m just grumpy today. Must be all the rain. The forecasters are saying NO RAIN for the next five days. They had better be right this time!

Hours later ... I am, indeed, at home now and comfily (new word) settled on the loveseat. My belly is full and I'm just a little cold still from getting semi-drenched earlier.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I'm Always Chasing Rainbows

I am a scenery freak. Beaches, blue skies, lush forests ... Snap, snap, snap. I'll try to take a picture of it. I'm still trying to get a really good rainbow shot. I've gotten a few in the past few years.

This is my latest attempt. After I finished the lawn on Saturday, it started to rain. It rained for about 90 minutes -- and then the sun started coming out. I knew there would have to be a rainbow somewhere. I found it, just above the house across the street. Luckily, I had the carport to shelter me while I shot it.

Later that night, the weatherman said the rainbow lasted less than 5 minutes. Guess I'll just have to keep trying for the "money shot."

T to the Power of 2

I talk a lot about Ozzie, my almost 11-year-old Yorkie. He is definitely Top Dog. In fact, he's the only dog. This D*mn House, however, is also inhabited by two other boys, both cats. The incomparable Tigger and Toby.

Tigger is the eldest. I call him the "grand old gentleman." He's been hanging around for almost 16 years. There's a tree that separates the lot we divide with the neighboring property. Tigger was the proverbial kitten stuckin the tree in June 1992.

My mom, recuperating from a car accident, kept hearing a kitten cry. I was running back and forth from a work assignment to check on her and, during one of my stops, heard the cries. I thought it was a bird at first. But, it was Tigger. Once out of the tree, he walked across the porch and through the door like he owned the place. I tried to get him a home, then tried to get a shelter group to do it. They almost succeeded. Almost. So, after an unsuccessful adoption attempt, I just took him home.

In July 2006, just a few weeks ahead of the monster storm that took most of the shingles off the roof and left us without power for a week, the cries of a kitten were heard once again. Oddly enough, they came from almost the same spot where Tigger had been found 14 years earlier. But Toby was not in the tree. He was about 10 feet from it though. I'm convinced that our lot is a staging area for stray cats.

Tigger has the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen on an animal except for maybe a Siamese or a Husky. They are this unbelievable deep green. Just gorgeous.

And Toby is just "pretty." There's no other way to put it, even though he's a boy. We've always found him a little on the effeminate side which is why Mom commonly refers to him as Toby Marie. He is bunny soft and he keeps changing colors, varying between a slate gray and a light gray. His eyes, which were once a bright gold, have now changed to green.

At the moment, he appears to be all boy though, waking me with his yowling every day between 3 and 5 a.m. (He’s desperate for a girlfriend. I would gladly provide him with one – or with a trip to the vet – just to shut him up.)

Toby and Ozzie get along fairly well but Tigger hates them both. That’s why he is the Lord of the Lower Level. If he ever got within a breath of either of them, it would be a forensic file waiting to happen.

Tigger does like people, just not other animals. In fact, he likes both Lawrence the handyman and Carl the HVAC guy. These days, he spends most of his time sleeping or otherwise basking in the sun of his window perch. Occasionally though he will surprise me by attacking one of his toys and running through the basement with the vigor of a kitten.

I hope that vigor sticks around for a long time to come.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Comedy of Errors

My mother called me at work this morning. OK, she called me several times. On the last of these calls, shortly after 12, she was yelling … at me! She had just gotten home from the pharmacy after a trip to the doctor this morning. "Do you know how much this cost?" she bellowed. I was afraid to find out. Look, ma, I didn't write the script, or fill it, or tell you that your insurance doesn't cover it. Stop yelling... at me!

"I'm sorry. I'm just so upset," she said resignedly. That bothered me worse than the yelling. "I'm going to just take this stuff back."

"Yeah, ma, that's good," I said. "You can really spend that money when you're dead. Now just go take your medicine." I knew my evening was destined to be spent going through paperwork to find out what the problem was.

Instead, when I got home, she was on the phone. The pharmacy had called her back. Their bad. Her total bill: $13.45 -- less than 10 percent of what she paid this morning. Kudos to Steven at Walgreens for going the extra mile to get it right.

Not many people have my cell number. It's a device that, while I appreciate having it, I mostly view as a necessary evil. Very rarely will you ever see me using it for superfluous conversation.

So it was kind of odd that when I turned on my phone as I was leaving the office that I got a tone and a text note telling me I had a message. "Hi," my mystery caller says as I retrieve the message. "This is Dr. Blah Blah's office and we wanted to let you know that your appointment will have to be rescheduled. Doctor has surgery that day, so he won't be in the office. You can call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx to set it up." I didn't recognize the doctor's name and the call-back number had an up-state area code.

Someone screwed up. The funny part? My message says who I am. And I'm clearly NOT your patient!

I didn't think any more of it until the phone rang earlier tonight at This D*mn House. "Ethel?"

Huh? That one caught me off guard. I don't even know anyone named Ethel. "No, sorry. You've got the wrong number." I was already taking the receiver from my ear when the caller queried, "You sure?" I resisted the urge to tell her yes, I was sure, 'cause she went shoppin' with Lucy -- but should be home soon because she told Fred she'd show an apartment to one of Ricky's friends.

I wanted to, but I politely said yes and hung up. (If you didn't get that you're either too young or you just never watch Nick at Nite.)

Clearly, a bad day for the number-dialing public.

"You're going to love this," says my mother. (When she says this, I rarely do.) "A fencing company called today." Apparently, this was a company that The Home Depot said would call us yesterday to make arrangements to come out tomorrow for an estimate.

As it turns out, the company that HD contracts with, doesn't use HD materials so they don't have the fence we want. (Yeah, I always want the guy who I send business to to not use my product.) The topper: We want to put up 8 panels along the back of our property, separating it from the easement and alley. "We don't do a straight line," says they. "We have to do the whole fence." And you do no straight lines?

Still shaking my head about that one.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Blown Back Into History

A few weeks ago, I watched the first episode of the HBO miniseries John Adams. I'd heard really good things about it and the first episode delivered. I just haven't had a lot of time lately to catch up on the remaining parts.

But today, I was roused rather rudely at 6:15 a.m. It was rude, in part, because I'd stayed up with mom until nearly 3 a.m. watching movies. And it was just generally rude because it was both 6:15 and Sunday. I was roused by rattling windows, lines flapping against the house, and a whooshing noise I've become accustomed to all too well in nearly 22 years at This D*mn House. Strong winds are common along the back of the house where single-level homes and an open alley offer no resistance. In the past, the violent wind has torn off a shutter or two. And, a few months ago, it ripped one of the blades off the outside fan.

Driving rain and winds kicked in Saturday night. The winds got progressively worse overnight, topping out with gusts of 55 mph. I first went to the kitchen window to check the status of the pine tree in the backyard. It has survived its share of battering the past few years and looks it. I'm afraid it won't withstand much more. I begged a few months ago to have it cut down, but Carole would have none of it. I thought for sure that today it would topple, taking both the power and phone lines with it. But my fears proved groundless. (Sometimes it's good to be wrong.)

With the ugly weather and because mom didn't feel well, we were homebound today. While she rested, I cleaned house and decided to pick up on the John Adams series where I'd left it on Saturday. 62- 78- and even 89-minute intervals flew by. And I finally made it to the end. (The seven-part series chronicles the events leading to the American Revolution and a more abbreviated history of the first 50 years of the United States.)

I'm not a flag-waving or flag-wearing patriot. But, that said, I truly believe that, in spite of all her flaws, America is still the best thing going. I just believe that during its 230+ years it has had the misfortune of falling into the wrong hands. This series really brought that home for me. It also brought to life some of the stories I've uncovered in my family genealogy. The ancestor on my mother's side who voted for George Washington. The ancestor of my father's who was, supposedly, murdered around 1781 by a marauding Tory while his wife looked on.

The miniseries gave a great look at the birth of the U.S. from those who made it happen. These are iconic names in U.S. history -- Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton -- but with their underbellies exposed. No matter how great these men were, at the end of the day, they were just that -- men. And some of their actions were ruthless, and self-serving. Not at all like the folks I heard about in history class. These were people who largely had lawyer and farmer as their dayjobs and who probably were only too happy to return to those jobs at the end of it all.

If you have the chance to see it, don't miss it.

Where Is Spring?

It's been unusually cool and damp this year. I'm ready for the 70- and 80-degree days. We had more warm days in February than May.

Mother's Day is supposed to be pretty ugly. And I hate that for all the moms. Seems pretty unfair -- especially considering that it falls under Mother Nature's department.

I gave my mom her Mother's Day gift -- an iPod Shuffle -- about a month ago. I've never been good at hanging onto gifts. But I only did it this time because I was afraid she was going to buy one on her own. (She has a habit of doing this right before a major gift-giving occasion.)

I opted for the Shuffle because it only has four controls. (Carole has serious technology issues.) I got her a docking speaker so she could listen to it outside the car and charge it without a computer. It requires very few steps to operate. Exactly what I wanted.

She seems to have the car set-up down, but she still doesn't get the speaker. "I don't think it's working," she told me. "I tried to listen to it the other day and it didn't work. The light came on, but there was no sound." I quickly determined that the light came on on the iPod -- not the speaker. Maybe if that little button that says POWER had been pressed, the speaker might have come on.

You've just got to love mothers. Especially mine. And especially today.

Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Buddha Belly

How can you see this and not just crack up? This is my boy Ozzie's "Buddha belly."

He loves to lay on his back and go to sleep. Sometimes, all four legs are straight out like sticks. If he is laying like this and still awake he LOVES to have the Buddha rubbed. It's a pretty regular thing.

Last night as we were settling in, he gave me the Buddha belly. So while I rubbed it, I jokingly made some wishes.

Two of them (well, very nearly two of them) came true. Let's just say it was a pretty good day at work.

The third wish ... well, I won't know for sure 'til tomorrow night.

C'mon Powerball!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Is It Friday Yet?

What IS it about this week? ENOUGH already!

Let me clarify. It's not that it's been bad, really, just crazy busy and jam-packed with activity. And both Toby and Ozzie, who are both usually good-natured and not too problematic, have been babies from hell. Regular little minions of Satan. :-) I keep threatening to stuff both of them into the trash.

Is the moon full?

The grocery store was phenomenally busy. But, it was $10 day ($10 off a $50 purchase)so there was no way I wasn't going. You've been to the grocery store. You know how much stuff costs. And please, it's not that I'm cheap. I just really, really, really hate to pay more for something than I have to. It especially ticks me off if it's the same exact thing.

I've never seen so many people using calculators and redeeming coupons as I did tonight. (I started clipping coupons when I was a kid. My grandmother was almost religious about them.)If that isn't a clear indication of how tough things are for the public at large, I don't know what is.

I was pretty proud of myself. In addition to the $10 off, I had $3.55 in coupons AND I got a coupon for two cases of water. That alone is worth $8- $9. Booyah!!!

The downside is that there were people in there tonight who I know were spending every cent they had -- and probably more. One family in particular put a picture in my mind that I could have lived happily without. And it made me feel awful.

So I did something to make me feel better.

The post office sent a card last week promoting a food campaign that they do each year. They'll be picking up non-perishable items on Saturday. I set a bag out when I got home and started filling it.

I don't know what my neighbors will do. But when the mailman arrives at This D*mn House on Saturday, a bag will be waiting. Did you get a card for a similar drive in your neighborhood? If you did, I hope this was a reminder!

If not, why not run a bag past a food pantry in your neighborhood? Someone will be very glad you did.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

WWW: Bric(k)-a-brac(k)ing

For this week's Weekend Warrior Wednesday feature, I think I've created a new word: brick-a-bracking. It's a verb that means brick-hoarding. Came home from The Home Depot with every Holland paver they had (71) in the trunk of the 'Bird.

I'm starting to prepare for the long dreaded and long postponed porch and walkway project. And since the Home Depot's version is nine cents per brick cheaper than their competitor, I figured I'd save a few bucks. Lowe's, however, will likely get the lion's share as I have two dollar-off cards (one for $10, the other for $25) that expire Sunday. I hope they will have enough supply that I can use them both.

I'm starting to hoard because even though I already had about 100 bricks before the latest trunkload, Memorial Day weekend is not that far off. I'll get off early on Friday, have the holiday weekend through Monday, and then tack on two days of vacation. So, I'll have plenty of work to do and a little extra time to do it in.

Mind you, we still haven't started Carole's bedroom yet. And, except for wallpaper paste, I already have all the materials for that. In fact, the basement family room more closely resembles a warehouse than a family room right now. I also have to disassemble the existing daybed and assemble the new one. And that's while trying to keep up with yard work, the one major downside to warmer weather.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it all. But it will all look good when I get done, right? Stay tuned ...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Prom Is in the Air

If you've got high school upperclassmen in your house, you've no doubt either just had or are preparing for that annual rite of passage that is prom. It's the subject of a variety of Web sites and a constant topic in the news this time of year.

I've gotten some photos recently from a few friends whose young'uns are startlingly all grown up in their prom attire. In fact, the photo here was shared by my most excellent friend Chele. Her stepson's prom was over the weekend. (Prom. Wasn't he just 9 or 10 like five minutes ago? Sheesh!)

I had to laugh because this column really took me back. I remember my prom (I only went senior year). It was sooooo long ago we didn't even live in This D*mn House! My first high school friend, now my dear lifelong friend CP, (she of the appliance-shopping misadventures at Lowe's) and I both worked at a downtown department store. We used our discount to pick out tuxes for "our boys," both of whom were good sports about it, considering they were past high school. My date was more than reluctant, initially refusing to go. My argument: Someone will be taking me to prom. Somebody will be kissing me goodnight. If it's not you, well … I won.

It was a great night. All of my friends were there. The chicken was rubbery. The music was blah. (It was the '80s and I was riding the alternative wave. I don't think I've ever gotten off of it.) But it didn't matter. We all went to a friend's house for an impromptu after-prom party. Her parents were out of town and might not otherwise have known we were ever there but pictures materialized during a bridal or baby shower some years later. My friend's mom, seeing the d├ęcor in the background of these photos queried, "Isn't that our house?"

It was the first time in my life that I had permission to stay out all night. (Seems appropriate that CP was there. She and I would be together on many more future all-nighters. Many times, she got me to work at a grocery store by my house within minutes of my start time -- 6 a.m. on Saturday, 8 a.m. on Sunday.) I made the most of that first night. After the party, we watched the sun come up on the riverfront before heading home. Late spring nights can get cold and at some point, he had given me his leather jacket and a black dress scarf.

I slept with that scarf tucked under my pillow. Ahhhh … young love.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Good News and Bad News

The good news: Someone claimed Saturday night's $179-million Powerball jackpot.

The bad news: It wasn't me.

When the Earth Moves

And I don't mean in a good way …

With the news of another local earthquake this morning, although much less than the one of a few weeks ago (2.6 vs. 5.4), I felt inclined to share some tips from FEMA on what to do during an earthquake.

We weren't alone, either. Between yesterday and this morning, the San Diego area also had a minor quake and the southern Philippines had one classified as moderate (4.8). And on Friday, similar moderate quakes shook Alaska, Indonesia, and New Zealand. There's a whole lotta shakin' goin' on.

Apparently, the things I always remembered being told to do are 100 percent wrong, meaning I was more likely to end up dead if a mondo quaker hit. (I was always told that you go outside. After seeing this stat -- Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls-- I'm thinking that wasn't such a good idea.)

One of the tips is to stay in bed if you're already there at the time. (Boy did I blow that one! When This D*mn House was rocked last month, I immediately jumped from my shaking bed.) The exception: If you're directly under a heavy light fixture. Then, you should move. On second thought, I'm thinking that moving wasn't so bad. Since my bed is right next to a window, I don't think I'd want to be hit by shards of glass.

Just passing along what could be useful information if the earth's plates continue to shift with their current frequency.

On the Bus with Jay and Silent Bob

I'm a strong advocate of public transportation. From This D*mn House to where I work, it's a convenient option. I can work, read, sleep -- whatever I want -- and not worry about traffic. And since my company now buys me a monthly pass, there's no good reason to not take advantage of it. Besides, a few blocks' walk at the beginning and end of the day sure doesn't hurt me any.

That's not to say that some of my fellow passengers don't occasionally make me rethink that option. On Friday's ride home, there was just such a duo. Let's call them Jay and Silent Bob because in all actuality, there was a resemblance, minus the silent part. Silent Bob was on crutches, seriously favoring his left leg. Jay, who also had a beard, had a leather jacket and backwards ballcap on. Bob, meanwhile, had a sweatshirt emblazoned with NEW YORK on. Its sleeves had been severed at the shoulders, exposing the dingy white sleeves of the T-shirt he wore underneath.

Neither Bob nor Jay had bathed in a while. In addition to body odor, they were filled with the scent of cigarette smoke and wrapped in an aura of stale alcohol. And when I say aura, it really was such a repugnant and overpowering smell, you almost could see it. Both of them were clearly drunk. The beauty of the scene that was unfolding before me was that I heard very little of the exchange between Bob and Jay, Bob and the bus driver, and Bob and a young black girl who made the mistake of sitting directly across from him. The iPod is a truly beautiful thing.

Because we had five minutes before departure from the station, Bob decided to take a smoke break. He almost lost his balance, but finally made it up onto the crutches and off the bus. Both he and Jay ignored the driver several times when she said we were leaving. When she closed the door, they appeared to get the message an,d both clambered toward the bus, Jay taking a few awkward steps, the last of which nearly toppled Bob. They corrected themselves, almost in unison, in a quasi-coreographed maneuver that defies modern physics before slowly getting back on the bus.

Bob was animated and chattering non-stop. The bus driver was clearly disgusted, so Bob turned his attention to the young girl. I saw her nod politely, and mumble a few short phrases. She finally switched seats. Mercifully, I never heard any of their discussion.

When Bob pulled the cord to call a stop, it wasn't until he wobbily stood up and started this series of dance-like maneuvers, that I realized he had no left leg. He was trying to work his lower thigh back into some kind of prosthesis. Jay was clearly annoyed waiting for him and because the iPod was in between songs, I very clearly heard Bob say: "Dude, if you don’t quit lookin' at me, I'm gonna take this thing off and hit you with it."

Now that might have been worth seeing...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

YorkieTalk Cooks

No. It's not a book on cooking dogs, cooking with dogs, or even exclusively on cooking for dogs.

The official Yorkie Talk cookbook is a compilation of more than 500 recipes for pet lovers and the pets -- primarily Yorkies -- that they love. (Hence the sub-title you see in the picture.) Inside this book, you'll find hundreds of recipes ranging from tangy appetizers to mouth-watering desserts. The books are $18+ $3 shipping and handling. All proceeds go to You can click here to buy one or just let me know and I'll make the arrangments for you.

There are some recipes, too, for those among us who -- either for health reasons or for fear of poisoning by substandard Chinese food products -- choose to homecook for our pets.

I discovered Yorkie Talk almost a year and a half ago when my own beloved Yorkie was seriously ill. I went looking for information -- where else? -- online. I found a minimal amount of information about the illness. But I did find a lively, fun, and mostly generous and kind group of gals -- and even a few guys -- who are in some cases even nuttier about their dogs than me! You don't even have to have a Yorkie to love this site.

The cook book was an interesting project. I helped edit recipes. I didn't contribute any. (What? The whole two or three things I can make?!) Even though I'm not a cook, there are some of these that I am just going to HAVE to try. It's a really good compilation for the experienced, novice, or relatively curious cook. It makes an excellent gift, too. And if you're looking for something different to cook for a coming summer gathering, this might be just the thing to get!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Got Rugs?

For those of you familiar with last year's flooring saga, you know that there is no longer any carpeting upstairs at This D*mn House. There are just a few area rugs.

But with major overhauls planned for both bedrooms, a few new accent/area rugs are needed. Target and sometimes even Kmart can be places to get a good-looking rug without spending a fortune. (And when you have Yorkie feet and cat litter that are going to trod all over it, it's just not worth plunking down big bucks for such things.)

You are by now also familiar with my penchant for online shopping. So, a few weekends ago, I spent a good deal of time checking out online rug outlets. Mom had seen some rugs in a catalog (one of the millions that This D*mn House receives each year) but thought they were too much, especially when you added in the extra shipping charges the company wanted. I discovered

They had the right sizes and colors at a great price AND with FREE shipping. It's hard to pass that up.

Rugs can be really expensive. (I was shocked and I'm not shocked that easily.) So, suffice it to say that I got two rugs for less than what one would ordinarily cost. And since they seem to always be running a sale of some kind, you're bound to find a bargain.