Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Best Medicine

The mother and I's shopping trip started out great. The weather was so awesome. What a joy to be driving with the window partially open! The warmth of the sun felt great.

We made a rare trip to Tar-jay, hit Deals, cruised through Dierberg's and made a quick dash through Michael's.

Sometime after the first stop, my head started throbbing. By the time we'd stopped to pick up dinner, I was miserable. We made one more stop on the way home and I thought I was going to have to turn the wheel over to the mother. It was that bad. And it got worse.

Once home, I was able to quickly eat and take some meds. Forty-five minutes later, I was napping. I got up about 90 minutes ago and you can't imagine the difference! I am so relieved. I don't remember the last time I felt this good. I'm not sneezing, coughing, or blowing my nose. Amazing.

Here's hoping it holds.

Bright, Sunshiny Day

The mother took one look at me last night when I walked in and almost immediately called her friend. She postponed their get-together yet again.

The last three nights haven’t been good ones. Two nights ago, it was largely Toby’s fault. My sinuses were an underlying cause – of course. Night before last, it was all sinuses. Last night, since it was Friday, I took a Benadryl so I actually got some sleep. I'm still tired though. And congested. (Like this is new.)

Now I have to go and get stuff. That includes drugs to dry and deal a lethal blow to this crap. And you know what? Even though I could probably go back to bed as I type this, getting out is going to be a joy.

THE SUN IS OUT AND IT’S 41 DEGREES!!!!! They’re forecasting 50 for a high! That’s right. 5-0, baby!

I am ecstatic. SO very sick of winter. I need a beach. And a Margarita. Or three. Seriously.

Well, I guess I’d better get dressed so I can soak up some sunshine. YEAH!

Friday, January 30, 2009

My Seven-Figure Income

I had to laugh when I came across this news item earlier regarding Wall Street bonuses. In part, I found it humorous because of the need to try and justify some of the outrageous salaries some of these people make to begin with. Except for the ones who are crooks, I don't begrudge them what they make. Just don't try and convince me you really are worth all that, 'kay?

Regardless of how you try to explain it, a bonus that is easily 10 times your salary is more like the lottery than a bonus. You see, in middle-class America, a bonus is a percentage of your salary – not the other way around. So the gist of the article is, “All you folks who don’t have six-figure incomes just DO NOT get our seven-figure bonuses – so let’s explain it to you so you can see how we are so worth all of it.”

The other reason I laughed is because I got a weird email this morning. It was prompted by my casual mention of a bonus in my evening post yesterday – and a mention that shed doubt on whether I’ll actually get one this year or not. For some reason, this dear disgruntled reader has confused me with a Wall Street type.

The email said: “Do you work in a bank? If you do, you are a sleezeball who doesn’t need one anyway. Now that they are getting taxpayer money, can they not afford to give you a bonus because it would look bad? I hope you were listening to what the president said. He hates you.”

Hmm. Well. OK, nutjob. Since you didn’t have the guts to send email from an account that doesn’t reject my replies, let’s clear some things up. First, I do not work in a bank. And second, even if I did, that doesn’t make me someone who is/has been/ or will benefit from TARP money.

Third, the bonus I mentioned usually represents a small percentage of my annual salary. I assure you, it is statistically impossible for that to amount to a seven-figure –even a five- or a six-figure— bonus. And, if you’ve been reading, you know I qualified for last year’s stimulus check. (It helped pay for the nice new fence Lawrence and I put in back in July.)

Guess what? I’ll qualify for one this year, too, if it’s approved. Do the math, nimrod. Besides, why the hell would I live in a tiny, 2BR, one bath home if a single bonus could more than afford me something three times larger? And why would I take on all of these massive, insane projects in an effort to save a few bucks to fund the next thing? You know, like ripping out a sidewalk. In 100-degree heat. With a sledgehammer. Dolt.

Oh yeah. And, the President really, really hates me. Pardon me while I laugh some more.

Friday Morning Musings

We’re almost through January! Is that possible already? Of course spring can never come soon enough for me. Right now though I think I will be happy with the time change so that I’m not leaving home at sunrise and coming back at sunset. It’s not that far off either. March 7 or something like that.

I’ll admit though that watching the colors of the sunrise take shape, as I’m doing now, is a bonus for hangin’ out with the chickens.

And things are improving. While the sidewalk and driveway at home remain virtually impassable, the streets and sidewalks near the office are all but clear. They are so much better in fact that I walked down the street and got lunch yesterday. First time in weeks. The amazing thing was that at 27 degrees and with sunny skies, it actually felt pleasant!

I didn’t venture out after my allergy meds last night and I’m paying the price this morning. Congestion city and cough central. It’s times like this that I really miss having Walgreens just a few blocks from the office.

I’m not sure what the weekend plans are. The mother was supposed to have a friend come over tomorrow, someone she hasn’t seen in years but reconnected with over the holidays. (She was actually going to come last Sunday, but in light of me being unwell and the weather really sucking it, they postponed.) I thought she was going to talk to her about it again this week but as far as I know, that conversation never took place. I guess I’ll have to wait and find out.

After next week, I think I’m going to seriously look at when I can take some vacation time, so that some of our projects can get under way. I was looking around the warehouse that our family room currently is and I desperately want to do something about it.

In other words, after nearly two years of continuous projects with almost no down-time, I'm ready to have my house back. Maybe by fall that will be possible.

Maybe.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Time and Money

A few hours ago, I got an email confirming that Missouri had accepted my state income tax form. Yay!

So, within 20 hours of starting on my taxes, I:


  • Finished them

  • Filed them electronically

  • Received confirmation that both federal and state forms were accepted

This morning I was all pumped up about having filed by Jan. 28. Well … I apparently filed on Jan. 26 last year. And here I thought I had set a new record. What a slacker!

I did get a pleasant surprise while filling out the federal form: an addition to my standard deduction because I don’t itemize. Apparently, they are giving up to $500 for a single filer and up to $1,000 for a couple if you paid property taxes in 2008. So that pushed my refund up even higher.

Overall, I’m getting back more than I anticipated when I did a cursory calculation based on my last pay stub of 2008. BOOYAH!

It will be interesting to see what projects this money will go toward in 2009. Usually, this money, coupled with a bonus from work, dictate the bulk of our DIY budget. I’m not banking on the latter this year, so I’m not sure just how much we’ll be able to do. The mother will be kickin’ in, too, (but retirement doesn’t actually pay well and her insurance keeps going up) so we might be able to eke out other things for the kitchen including appliances, some kind of stone countertop, and ceramic flooring.

Things I know it will be used for include:

  • The remainder of the materials needed for my bedroom redo. Namely, beadboard, chair rail, paint, and trim.

  • A new mattress for the mother as part of her bedroom redo.

  • The Michelangelo Project

  • Materials to complete the exterior pimpin’ of the shed

  • Shoring up the driveway. This will involve pouring concrete along the outer carport edge, jacking up and building up the foundations for the columns along that side.

  • Chemicals and materials needed to clean, seal, and fill in any gaps on the porch and walkway to both maintain it and deal with efflorescence.

  • The “Lawrence Fund” for the things that require his expertise or assistance (like the driveway)

I guess we’ll have to see just how far we can stretch the budget because there are several more things I would like for it to cover such as:

  • Replacing the fiberglass bathtub liner (circa 1995) with ceramic tile, carried out onto the bathroom floor.

  • Framing, insulating, and drywalling the cinderblock walls in the laundry room and its closets.

  • New flooring in the laundryroom and its closets.

Doing all this stuff takes time and money. I’ve definitely got the time. January is on its way out and I’ve still got a whole year’s worth of vacation time! Now we’ll just have to see about the money.

Uncle Sam Speaks

I've been struck by a feeling of giddiness that has nothing to do with the Special K I just polished off, even if it does have the red berries in it. No. I think this kind of joy can only be associated with having filed my taxes on January freakin' 28th, thankyouverymuch!

My W-2s came in the mail yesterday and I just couldn't help myself. I jumped online and got 'er done last night.

I filed them at 9:21 p.m. and within 90 minutes, I had an email acknowledging that both my federal and state returns had been received by their respective agencies. I guess the giddiness is a direct result of the email at 6:11 a.m. today to let me know that my return has been ACCEPTED and gave me a projected date for when my money will hit the bank.

I've been using www.taxact.com for quite a few years now. The process is pretty easy, especially if you throw a few bucks their way so they import all your previous year's information AND transfer it all to your state return. All you have to do is change the numbers --unless you've moved or changed jobs or got married or had a kid, none of which applies to me.

It's an extremely user friendly process. It took me about 70 minutes to do both federal and one state return, and that included going through a review process TWICE on each return. Not too shabby. I've been filing early pretty much the entire time I've been e-filing, but this may be a record!

The process isn't completely over yet, though. I still have to file with my resident state. Living in one state and working in another becomes a real pain in the butt at tax time. Even that has gotten easier with e-filing though. But, since that return doesn't mean any money back for me, you can bet I'll be mailing it on April 15.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Winter Cottage

Isn't that what it kind of looks like?I shot this while I was waiting for the bus this morning. When I was reviewing the handful of shots I took, that’s how it struck me: a little winter cottage! It was before first light, so it's pretty dark but I think that adds to the winter feel.

It’s supposed to start warming up tomorrow. I’ll believe it when it happens.

It was flurrying this morning and the wind was blowing around a good deal of snow off rooftops and off ungaraged cars where the drivers didn’t bother to push it off. So the snow action is almost as rampant here as in the ones I shot last night. And doesn’t the road look really different from the Tuesday morning shot? You could actually see a road on Tuesday. Not so this morning.

Remember when I said my feet were soaked? Well, here’s why.
As I walked from the porch to the street, the snow was pushing up under my pant legs and jamming into my boots. The process repeated once I reached the sidewalk on the other side. That's where I grabbed this shot. See how deep my prints are?! That's because of not only all the snow we got, but because the snow plow has buried the sidewalks.

Luckily, I remembered to pack a pair of shoes and some dry socks.

When I get home, I'll just go through the same thing all over again in reverse. Unless the snow fairy cleared my drive and walkway ...

The Antithesis of a Snow Day


My feet are soaking wet from standing calf-high in snow. It’s still flurrying a little, but the snow itself stopped a few hours ago. I’m guessing that we got somewhere between 6-7 inches, maybe a little more, including the sleet from Monday night and yesterday. If it was still snowing, I would be firmly planted in the livingroom. But it’s not, and the buses are running, and pretty close to on time! That doesn’t leave me much in the way of an excuse to stay inside.

Even so, getting across and then down the street was a bee-otch to say the least. I nearly fell twice but with the mother watching from the window, I knew I’d never hear the end of it if I did.

Unlike yesterday morning when most of the main arteries were clear or a little slushy, today they are totally snow-packed. The road crews were at it all night but it didn’t do them much good. The snow was coming down hard, starting right around the evening rush hour.

The trip home was treacherous, but our brave driver Linda kept her head. She got us through a few miles where I know it was pretty hard to see. And, on roadways where it looked like after the morning rush, everyone had just gone home and let Mother Nature have her way with them until evening.

I’m not sure what my most excellent friend the Monkeygirl’s plans are for today, but I think she is onto something here. Maybe if enough of us get on board, we can push this through.

Clearly, with my love of snow, I’m all for it!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dreams and Depression

Remember those cabinets I was talking about visiting the other day? Well, I had a dream about them last night. They were IN my kitchen! (Yes, I lead a rich and imaginative fantasy life.) It required a complete reconfiguration of how we have things now, assisted by the fact that I was dreaming and my 85-square-foot or so kitchen suddenly became much larger.

I truly hate our current cabinets and the lack of storage space in them and would love to just rip them right out of the wall. But then reality sunk in and I realized that is not real likely to happen this year, courtesy of our economy.

Speaking of both reality and the poor state of the economy … I’m going to have to stop looking at news clips while I eat lunch. This one, about a family of seven done in by the father, pretty well cinches that. On top of the story yesterday about the 93-year-old man – which I’m still not over – this pretty much drew tears.

And if my mood isn’t quite dour enough, it’s been an incredibly gray day today. While we haven’t gotten the much heralded second phase of snow yet, it’s starting to arrive. It was sleeting off and on all day and it flurried some earlier, but now the flakes are starting to fall.

This might be a good night to go pull that bottle of wine out of the refrigerator. The sad, decade-old almond-colored refrigerator, of course, because we can’t get the pretty stainless steel one to fit without moving heaven and earth.

It Looks Pretty

Yeah, it looks pretty, but I still hate it. Snow belongs on Christmas cards and at ski resorts.

I am a sole passenger on the bus so far. Looks like some of my fellow commuters either got an earlier start or just stayed home.

Most of the local school districts cancelled classes today. It’s not really that bad. We ended up getting about a half-inch of sleet followed by an inch or two of snow. Just enough to make the roads sloppy and slick and not enough to scare people into slowing down. Sounds like a fairly lethal combo to me as the temperature is in the teens and we aren't getting above 20 today.

What’s impressive is that my roadway, and so far, most of the ones through town, are quite clear. That's a view from my door. You can actually see the roadway.

I saw on the news earlier, many of the highways and thoroughfares both south of here and on the other side of the river remain snow-packed. Kudos to our street department guys, even though the snow plow kept me awake off and on through the night.

The snow isn’t done yet, though. They’re saying it’s going to start up again pretty soon and won’t taper off until this evening. Luckily, I made it from the office to the bus stop before the sleet kicked in last night. The roads were icing up along the way, but since I get let off out front, I only had to navigate from sidewalk to front door so it wasn’t too bad.



I don’t think I’ll be so lucky tonight. I think there will be plenty of snow to slog through by then. I just wish it was sand.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Beyond Cold-Hearted

I know times are tough, and after getting our utility bill last week, I have become a power nazi. (It was bad, but not as bad as I had feared.) Even so, after reading this horrible, unbelievable, and unconscionable story at lunch today I will NOT chide the mother for repeatedly cranking up the heat. As long as I’m not sweating, she can keep it as warm as she needs it.

In Illinois, there are laws restricting the utility company’s ability to turn off power during certain times of year or when it’s a certain temperature. Do these same kinds of laws not exist in Michigan? It’s January for Chrissakes and this is the mid-freakin’ west!

How in God’s name do you allow an elderly man to freeze to death INSIDE his own home? HOW?! And what’s worse, it sounds like a city official quoted in the story is trying to pass off some on the blame onto the man’s neighbors. Did they turn his power off? I don’t think so. In most cases, how would they even know? It’s not something you’d expect someone to go and tell all of their neighbors either. (If you couldn’t afford to pay your bill, would you want all your neighbors to know about it? I know I wouldn’t.)

The actions of this utility company are nothing short of criminal. They were judge, jury, and executioner, condemning this man to a “slow, painful death,” according to the coroner. This was a 93-year-old man who had no one to make sure he DIDN'T freeze to death.

I don’t think any of my neighbors are in this spot but I guess I had better be paying a little more attention even though none of them are elderly and live alone. (The couple next door is a few years older than the mother but they have each other.) So I guess the bottom line is that if you think something like this might be happening, check on your neighbor and intervene if you have to.

I can’t stand the thought of anyone else suffering such a horrible fate.

Dreaming of Summer

I try really hard to find the good in this ridiculously cold weather and the only real consolation I can hit upon is not having to do yard work.

It’s cold and a little slick this morning from the all-day flurry fest that was yesterday. Luckily, it sounds like I may already be home or at least well on my way there tonight before the snow hits. We’re looking at 3-5 inches tonight with another 1-2 throughout the day tomorrow. Oh, joys. *rolls eyes*

We have plenty of food in the house, so by the time we should need anything else, the roads should be clear. I’m grateful for that. I made my way out yesterday and all of the main roadways were in pretty good shape. Of course, everywhere was packed with people doing exactly the same thing I was—stocking up ahead of the snow. (Even so, there was a remarkable amount of bread and milk on the shelves which is surprising as those are usually among the first items to go.)

Though I bundled up, knowing that it would be cold this morning, it’s still quite chilly on the bus. Considering that it’s Monday,and a nasty one at that, I’m just glad that it showed up at all!
I’m almost afraid to say it, but I actually do feel a little better today (emphasis on a little). The neti pot seemed to help some last night, so I guess it will become part of my nightly routine again. Let’s hope it continues to do as much good!

Wherever you are, I hope it’s warmer there …

Sunday, January 25, 2009

S-N-O-W

It occurs to me that snow is a four-letter word with good reasonCheck Spelling. I hate the crap. And it's been flurrying all day. Enough that the ground is covered. More is coming. Tomorrow.

Sounds like 3-5 inches between tomorrow night and Tuesday. Did I mention that I HATE the crap?

For now though, the house is quiet. As I am many times, I'm the only one awake, watching but not quite engrossed in Charlie Wilson's War. The mother is asleep on the couch, no doubt dreaming about her refrigerator. Screaming Cat from Hell (otherwise known as Toby) is asleep on one side of me. Ozzie is asleep on the other, occasionally thrusting a leg forward as he chases something in his subconscious.

And my nasal passages are in a revolt that can only be described as agony. I guess while I'm in the shower, I'll attempt to use my neti pot. I've tried just about everything else. Nothing else has worked, or at least not for very long.

When I dubbed this stuff The Plague, I was only half-kidding. The mother doesn't appear to have it ... yet. I hope it stays that way.

A Doomed Love


The mother is in love. She is in love with a frame just above 5'8. And his waist? Just beyond a 32. A nice, healthy size. Ah, and he does sparkle so!

He sparkles because he is stainless steel. You see, he is a refrigerator. She has been talking about this refrigerator for months. She started again in earnest yesterday when we stopped by both Home Depot and Lowe's. (We regularly visit both the Thomasville cabinets we wish we had, and this appliance on which the mother has become so unfalteringly fixated.)

But it is a love as doomed as that of Newland and the Countess Olenska. (From the Age of Innocence, the Edith Wharton classic, which is on cable right now.)

The very thing that makes it so attractive -- stainless steel aside -- is the thing that kills the deal: the dimensions. It will not fit in the kitchen. Not without removing an upper cabinet and at least 2 inches of the countertop. To put it succinctly, that ain't hap'nin.

The reality came with a flyer that one of the Lowe's associates was kind enough to send home with us. I had written down the measurements previously and done the measuring but her bubble remain unburst. But standing in the kitchen today, clutching the flyer as I measured, the facts were irreputable. It's too tall. It's too wide. (Not to mention how friggin' expensive this thing is. I can overlook that. It's stainless and we've had our current fridge for more than a decade.)

Even so, while the flame may not burn as brightly as it once did, it burns still. Like a newly jilted lover, the mother remains in the delusional state. He can still come to live with us. The kitchen will be his ultimate home.

The finality of it has yet to sink in. God help me in the meantime.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Meltdown at Michael's

The mother felt a bit better today, and so did I -- at first. So, boldly we ventured out to get some necessities and some not so needed items ahead of a snowstorm expected Monday into Tuesday.

Stores were packed, so I can only assume that everyone else had the same idea. We got groceries and household items and I had a frustrating and ill-fated trip to Kohl's in an attempt to replace my previously lost gloves. You'd think it was April already. No real selection of gloves to be had anywhere. What IS the deal?!

Then we went to Michael's. Surely you recall the mother's foray into turning everything -- but most specifically the front door leading -- into gold? Now she has moved onto the new lamps. (She insists they're too bronzy. Whatever.) She has almost killed the original bottle so today's trip was to restock.

But, alas ... there is none! I thought the mother was going to have a kitten, right there in the middle of Michael's. She had a minor meltdown because they have ceased to carry it. This meant only that she couldn't leave the store with it. Not that it couldn't be found. (And she calls me impatient ...)

I, of course, know that there is the Internet. So, there is almost no product out of my reach. And, not only do I find it, I find it for a better price than Michael's ever dare.

Now, if I can only find something to rid us of The Plague.

What Became of George?

Not that George. That George made it to Texas and is probably barbecuing or roping a horse or something. No, this isn't a political rant.

This George was born around 1825. One of his sons (another George) was my paternal great-grandfather. This George was a soldier. And while some of his regiment made it to Texas (Hempstead) where they mustered out, I'm not sure if my George did.

One thing I can do -- while resting and trying to keep my mind off the fact that I still gurgle when I breathe, when I can breathe -- is to pick up some of the genealogy trails I've let go cold during most of the past year.

And earlier tonight, I got some info that creates yet another question: Did my great-great-grandfather die in the Civil War? It certainly seems possible. I have his "muster" record, courtesy of the Illinois State Archives. He certainly did join up in the summer of 1862 as all able-bodied men were compelled to do at the time.

George, a 37-year-old farmer who was light-haired, short (5'7), and had blue eyes, went off to war -- but did he ever come home? I don't know. And after reading the history of his regiment, it's a more than fair question. The history says that more than 800 men from a four-county area comprised this infantry unit. But late in 1865, barely half of them came back home. While they saw very little enemy fire (there was some and that did claim some lives), this group of largely farmers was plagued by disease and the elements.

According to a history of the regiment, before they were officially called into service, they were kept in a camp for a couple of months -- without tents, uniforms or guns. And in the late fall (this is Illinois, so it's um, cold,) with no tents, an outbreak of measles claimed at least 100 of the troops, killing quite a few of them. Was this George's fate? Or, a year later, when the group was sent south and the rainy season caught them while they were deep in the swamps -- killing quite a few more soldiers -- was this where George's life ended? Or, despite a lack of discharge information, did he actually come home from the military and die perhaps of injuries or illness he contracted during the war?

It's bugging me. There's no one to ask and I can't seem to find a casualty list. All I do know is that when George's father drew up a will in September 1867, just a few months before his own death, George was already dead.

I'm learning lots about this line of my family, but this is one of those gnawing missing pieces. I've been lucky in the past to have my ancestors all but lead me to them. (It's funny how that happens sometimes -- like they want to be found.) Maybe this will be another one of those instances.

George, what happened to you?

Friday, January 23, 2009

A New Toy?

I'm hoping so at least! Assuming that the Plague ever leaves This D*mn House (the mother is now sick, too) and we can get back to our regularly scheduled projects, I'm hoping that I might be armed with a new tool AND a hardware store gift card!

That's because our friends over at One Project Closer are having another great tool giveaway. You can check it out and get in on it yourself if you'd like by clicking here.

That's right. They're giving away a new Skil Power Cutter (Model #2352-01) including charger and a $25 gift card from the home improvement center of your choice. I'm thinkin' Lowe's because I'm still going to need that beadboard.

But, I'm thinking this little Skil cutter will come in handy when I get around to the Michelangelo Project. Can't you just picture that baby zippin' through the polystyrene ceiling tiles? I know I can. So even if you enter yourself, wish me luck!

Happy cuttin'!

A Really Short Week

Wow – It’s Friday. Really?

I guess spending three days in bed will twist your sense of time a bit, no? At least it’s not as cold this morning as it’s been. In fact, I think it’s actually colder on the bus than outside. But, sadly, that all changes tonight.

Yesterday’s glorious 50s are history. Tonight, we’re going back into the teens and we’re not getting too far away from them all weekend. (Upper 20s to maybe 30 at best.) Brrrr. Welcome back to winter! I’m grateful for even a brief respite though because I hate winter so much.

Last night nearly mirrored the night before. I thought I could get around it by plopping Ozzie in bed with me to start with. No. It was so warm last night that what’s usually a nice comfortable snuggle was unbearably hot. So, just about the time that I decided we both could probably use a cool drink (2:45), the shower started. What is with the mother and these 3 a.m. showers already?! I mean, where is it that she has to go?

Luckily, unlike the night before, I fell back to sleep rather easily. I had strange dreams, though I don’t remember much. The one I do remember involved this gorgeous home on Long Island that I’d seen on House Hunters last night. That was some decked-out place – all $800,000 worth of it. But hey, I was dreamin.’ Obviously, it made an impression.

But when the alarm went off, I awoke in my tiny room, in my tiny house in the Midwest, nowhere near the shores of New York. It was a fun trip though while it lasted.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cute Shoes and All


Even though I still feel like crap in a sack, it can never be a completely bad day when cute shoes are delivered to your door. Thank you, Kohls.com! What a nice little pick-me-up.

Of course, it bears mentioning that with those cute shoes came two pair of brown ear warmers – one to replace those I recently lost, and a second pair as a back-up. (Hey, they were both brown. They were both on sale. I could use both. And, I had a gift card. How's that for the ultimate in justification?!)

It’s also important to mention that while I needed the ear warmers this morning, by the time I left the office this evening, I could almost have gotten away with wearing said cute new shoes comfortably because it was a balmy 54 degrees! (I think it may have gotten up to 56 or even 57 earlier though. But alas, I need a pedicure first so cute shoes are out for now regardless of the weather.) Whatever the temp was, it was nothing short of glorious. I ran across the street to the bank mid-afternoon and was wishing it could stay this way. It’s going to get cold again though really soon.

And I guess I should clarify: It wasn’t a bad day, really. Just a lot going on and I don’t feel like I accomplished half of what I needed to much less what I wanted to get done. I guess it’s all just part of trying to battle back from the bug. At least I shouldn’t feel alone. I know of no less than 10 other people at the office who either are or have been fighting it.

Sniffle, sniffle

My nasal passages are as raw as roadkill and I probably don’t feel too much better than a roadkill victim, but I’m up and at ‘em. (Or as one of my colleagues likes to say, “You’re vertical.”)

The cold hitting those nasal passages has been about the worst of it so far. Well, other than being worn out by just getting dressed and across the street. I even got to bed early, but I wasn’t able to stay asleep all night. Ozzie was alternately biting and then gag/coughing which woke me up about 3 a.m. Then he kept throwing himself down in various spots of the room, all with a loud unceremonious thud.

I’d adjusted to all that noise when the mother decided it was a good time to take a shower. That wouldn’t be bad except the bathroom is only about 10 feet from where I sleep. So I got up and both Ozzie and I took quick bio breaks before slipping back into bed. That seemed to quiet him but I couldn’t get comfortable again. The last time I saw the clock it was 4:30. The alarm followed less than an hour later.

So, I’m slow and tired and a little wobbly, not to mention still very snuffly, but staying home for a third day just isn’t an option. So, in I go.

On a side note, Jayne’s remedy from over at The Kelly House (the one where you put Vick’s Vap-o-rub on your feet and then put on thick socks) seems to keep the cough away. I used it yesterday morning and I didn’t cough all morning. In fact, when I got up at 2:15 p.m., I still hadn’t coughed! Yes, I’ve been very good about taking Benadryl and staying in bed. I didn’t even log on a second time at all yesterday except to do a few things for work. Then, right back to bed.

Here’s hoping this stuff lets up soon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thank you, C-SPAN2

Courtesy of C-SPAN2, I got to see the swearing in and the inaugural address in its entirety. So, I feel all caught up now. I also still feel like crap in a sack so I'll be spending another day in bed. Here's hoping this is the last of that, too.

The speech was powerful though not his strongest. But in that speech, and in all his exchanges throughout the evening, our new president repeatedly asked for everyone to be engaged and involved. I have never heard anyone ask so much for a true government by and of the people. Now it's time to get to work and see if the effort can outpace the rhetoric.

I'm way behind on reading blogs but I'm sure there's a lot out there from those of you who got to see it all in real time and I'm looking forward to reading those.

As for me, I can honestly say that I can't think of a time in my life where these words have ever meant more to me:
One nation, Under God
Indivisible
With Liberty and Justice
For All.

Yeah, there's plenty of people out there who aren't feelin' it and I can't help but feel a bit sorry for them. It's going to take as much effort from as many of us as possible to turn things around and I for one am signing on, ready and willing to do my part. Right after I blow my nose.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Missed History

I am so p*ssed off that I slept through the inauguration! Damn cold. I stayed home today, thinking it best that I spend the day in bed as I was still running a fever last night.

I took a Benadryl which managed to both dry up some of the goop AND knock me out. Both were good things. I just hate that it made me miss out on this historic day.

Now I'm just hearing that they just took Ted Kennedy out of the luncheon on a stretcher. Seems like there always has to be something to dampen the brightness. (Not that I'm a huge fan of Ted Kennedy though I think he has done some good things, but I fully sympathize with his recent health battles.)

Speaking of health battles. I am starting to cough again so I guess I need to deal with my own. That said, off to take drugs and probably crash and miss even more of the presidential coverage.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fluids and Rest

This is NOT the way I planned to spend my day off. I continue to alternately sneeze, blow my nose or cough. Though, I guess it was better than having to use a sick day. Based on how I feel right now, I may have to do that soon enough.


I've been in bed or on the couch all day and I steel feel like complete crap. I'm resting as best as I can and I'm taking cold meds and drinking a lot but nothing seems to make it too much better. And routine things like caring for the animals or doing a few dishes just wipe me out. (Getting all the trash out this morning really did me in.)


So I guess I'll just continue with the fluids and rest bit and hope for the best. For those of you who've battled this bug already, I tender my sympathies. And if you haven't had it already, my wish for you is that it stays that way!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

AHHHH-CHOOOOO!

All my plans have been sidelined by the cold that's been brewing most of the week. I had a rough day yesterday, a baaaaad night last night followed by another not so good day. When I'm not sneezing, I'm blowing my nose. And if I'm not doing either, I'm coughing.

I have slept little, mostly because, even propped up, I can't really lay down. (That sets off an immediate coughing fit.) Really loving life about now.

So, looks like I'll be spending some time assembling the remaining lights, disassembling the boxes they came in, and getting all that outside for tomorrow's trash. The mother hasn't felt much better than me, so all of the storage tubs remain in their current spots.

As for me, I'm downing some more Nyquil cold capsules. Here's hoping they help.

The Mystery Box

We unwrapped the mystery box tonight. it was bigger than all the lamp boxes put together. And it's not something for upstairs.

It's for the family room.

It's a new mantel for the fireplace. (Also something that was not on my radar screen. But, the price is right, and, once it gets a coat of stain on it, will nicely match the new day bed.)

Forgive the picture quality. And there's too much crap downstairs right now to set it up and do it justice with my own camera.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Bargainator

I pride myself on getting the most for every dollar. I rarely pay full price for anything and it's only if it's something we're in desperate need of or just one of those finds that you know you can't possibly live without.

But when it comes to driving a hard bargain, I'm afraid the mother is the reigning queen. She went to great lengths to prove it once again last night.

As I rounded the corner at home, I saw a delivery truck in front of This D*mn House. Two guys were unloading boxes. As I pulled into the driveway, one guy was making another trip. They smiled and waved and promptly disappeared as I parked the car. My online purchases from just the other night appeared to have arrived!

The mother opened the door as I stepped on the porch and we dragged it all inside. She was like a kid on Christmas. She had a lamp box open before I could even get the door closed up. Immediately, though, the mood grew somber. "Um, this is not right." I glanced over and the shade she was holding looked like the one I'd ordered. She was holding a harp with the finial attached. It appeared to be resin with a brass finish. "This is supposed to be crystal," she said, shaking the finial in her hand.

Crystal? I didn't remember seeing anything about crystal. True, the floor lamp has a crystal accent, but I didn't recall anything about crystal where the table lamps were concerned. I glanced at the photo in the catalog. The finial in the picture didn't look crystal, at least not to me. Then the mother's index finger smacked down on the description beneath the lamps. The very first words? Crystal finial. This doesn't look like crystal, does it? Nope.

In the second box, the finial is not only crystal, it doesn't even have a brass finish. It has a bronze one!

So the mother got one the phone and rang up customer service. They started to protest. Then she directed them to the catalog page and the description on it. "Yes, but nothing came up online to point out this was an error. No one called to say there was an error. All I know is what I'm reading in the catalog," argued the mother.

Then, the arguing ceased. She got put on hold and a few minutes later, after a string of uh-huhs, I hear her say: "Yes, that would be good" and she shoots me a thumbs up.

A few minutes later she turns to me and says: "They're crediting $42 to your account." I stood there, mouth open, jaw hanging, in complete awe of my mother, The Bargainator.

Since they weren't going back, I went ahead and assembled one of the lamps, giving it a trial run in its new spot. Yep. Looks like it belongs there already. Still have to completely unpack the other two lamps and the mystery box.

More on that later...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Coincidence? Maybe Not

Am I channeling the mother or what?

I’ve been blogging about getting organized and deChristmassing and sharing some of our better ideas on storing things this week, right? Well, with a long weekend ahead (Monday is a holiday) I’m thinking we’ll start on her bedroom or my bedroom maybe.

No.

She wants to pull all of our stored stuff out, go through it, pitch, repack, and realign. How’s that for freaky? This means we can start to reclaim the family room.

As an extra added bonus, I get to put together the new bookcase and the new daybed for the family room that’s been sitting downstairs wrapped up for several months. We'll still have all the materials for the bedrooms hanging around down there, but at least there will be some semblance of order.

Those are the plans anyway. We’ll see where that goes.

But right now, I'm just going to relax. This five consecutive days of work stuff has worn me thin. (After all those short weeks. And of course, now we get one more ...)

Blog Love Lacking

If my blogs were children, my other blog would be the proverbial "red-headed stepchild." In fact, it would already have been taken into protective custody by DCFS because I had neglected it for more than eight months!

That changed yesterday when I revisited and started catching up and pulling out family tree records. Genealogy is a hard task. For those of you who have been tracing the roots of your houses, like Jayne over at The Kelly House, you know how hard to locate – and often inaccurate – historical records can be. And houses don’t generally move around. People do.

And the folks who did censuses regularly got names and ages wrong. When you can even read what they wrote down. (Why did they employ some of the people with the most illegible handwriting EVER to record this historic information?!)

So you know what I’m up against.

And, add to that equation that I am doing multiple lines both maternal and paternal. (Someone shoot me now. It would be more merciful.) And then, there are those wonderful ancestors and their siblings and cousins who just HAD to name their children the SAME NAMES -- repeatedly. Yeah. Let's confuse the hell out of everyone looking for us 150 years later!

But, now I have a new option to occupy the time on my bus commutes …

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Let There Be Light(s)


The mother comes out of left field with a lot of things. This now includes the purchases she asked that I make online last night. New lighting for the living room was not on my “we need to buy this now” radar, but apparently, it was on hers.

She asked that I buy a set of this table lamp and one of these matching floor models.

I guess it’s about time. The current lamps are about six or seven years old now. And there is not a floor lamp in the living right now. That’s something I welcome though since the room can be like a cave.

I think they’re pretty and I’m sure they’ll do the job. I’m just a little concerned because the catalog description says they take a single 100W bulb. Not sure if that means it will accommodate a three-way globe or not. I’d be very unhappy if not as we usually have them on the middle setting, except during reading, when it’s on high. Sometimes at night or when we leave, we use the low setting. I guess I’ll find out.

She had me buy something else, too, but I’ll save that for another post. And, according to email, all of these items are now on their way to This D*mn House. Man, that was quick!

Perfect Weather!

Yes, the 1 or 2 degrees it is right now with a wind chill of about -15, is perfect weather -- if you are Santa Claus, a polar bear or an Eskimo.

Being none of the above, I'm finding it to be less than optimal. Instead, I feel like the little brother in A Christmas Story. You know, the kid who couldn't put his arms down ... I'm one of those people who don't care how stupid it looks. Is it warm? That's all I care about on days like today.

A whole bunch of school districts canceled classes today. Didn't even see a school bus all the way in. All I could think last night when I saw the closed districts scrolling at the bottom of the TV screen was: Can they cancel work? Pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaazzzzz!

I guess I should look on the bright side. there are other places that are colder. Like Chicago. North Dakota. Much of the northeast.

Yeah. I'll find some comfort in the fact that it's going to warm up soon. After all the sun is out, so that's going to help, right?

Not so much. It IS going to warm up. In fact, tomorrow I'm thinking short sleeves might be in order since we'll actually go above 20. But today? It's going to warm up to -- now get ready for this one --

8.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trashin’ Regular Storage Containers














Here’s a mistake I will never repeat if I am lucky enough to ever go house-hunting again: remember to evaluate storage space.

How many closets are there? How big are they? Are there places to accommodate additional storage or where more closets could be built such as an attic or basement? What about outside? Is there a garage, shed, or both?

But that’s only the first part of the evaluation process. The second is to visualize all of the areas that you currently have for storage. How do the ones in the home you’re looking at measure up?

Are you sure?

It may sound like a bunch of elementary questions but I know firsthand that it’s too easy to get caught up in looking at room sizes and features and location issues to have something as mundane and simple as a closet blow right on past you. And the loss of even a single storage space can make more of a difference than you think. So, while you're comparing square footage info, make sure you factor in how much of this is storage space -- or could be.

At This D*mn House, there are three closets upstairs. However, most people have kitchen cabinets larger than any one of the three! So, we rely a lot on the basement and the storage shed to hold things. That’s why around this time last year, Lawrence and I built a closet in the family room. The mother managed to fill it with (mostly) her clothes over a weekend and I get to keep my scrapbooking stuff in a small corner. We have another walk-in closet in the laundry room and that brings me to something we do where you have room to stack but want to spare some floor space.

(Not that we have any floor space in there, but only because we’ve been adding those long, clear, horizontal storage boxes and some of what I call the “coffin-sized” blue plastic ones in recent years. These hold seasonal decorations, off-season clothing, and old curtains and rugs.)

We use a combination of trash cans, too, many of which look like these. I line them with bags and then fill them. Once full, I put another trash bag (folded) over the top and stuff it down over the sides before putting the lid in place. It seems to keep things in pretty good shape. The square-shaped ones are great. They hold a lot and, if you have the ceiling height, let you set a round one safely on top of it.

What’s fun is you can even color-code these. Green for Christmas. Orange for fall or Halloween. Black for clothing. And you thought they were just for trash!

Not Fit For Man Nor Beast

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN ST LOUIS HAS ISSUED A WIND CHILLADVISORY...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO 12 PM CSTTHURSDAY. AN ARCTIC AIR MASS WILL PLUNGE INTO MISSOURI AND ILLINOIS LATERTODAY. TEMPERATURES TONIGHT WILL DROP TO BETWEEN 5 BELOW ZERO AND 5 ABOVE ZERO AND GUSTY NORTHWEST WINDS OF 15 TO 25 MPH CAN BE EXPECTED.


THE COMBINATION OF BITTERLY COLD AIR AND GUSTY NORTHWEST WINDS...WILL RESULT IN DANGEROUS WIND CHILL LEVELS FROM 15 TO 24BELOW ZERO UNTIL MIDDAY ON THURSDAY.


This is taken directly from an advisory issued this morning. I am SO not up to this.


I can give you a recommendation though. To replace my lost ear warmers, I checked out Kohl's.com because they didn't have them in the store. Guess what? SALE!!! Regularly $25, these little beauties are now $10 each. I could never find them in brown so this is marv. SCORE!

Playing Julia Child

I don't cook. Or, more correctly, I don't cook much. I have my small repertoire of things I make including a few entrees, and some sides and appetizers.

So, cold and dog-tired, I go home last night and ... cook. (This had been planned for. Thought it would be a good night to crank up the oven as it was about 21 degrees when I got home.)

When I was a kid, the mother got this recipe for a mock spinach souffle. (Why is it a mock? I'm guessing maybe because it doesn't have a real crust. But I don't know. That's how much I cook!) Anyway, the recipe called for spinach, something I didn’t like as a kid and never really have. Being resourceful, the mother substituted broccoli, which I’ve always loved, and a long-standing dish at This D*mn House was born.

So I made a batch of blueberry muffins and then got busy with the soufflé. Yes, that's right. I spent an evening in the kitchen. Write this down. Except for Thanksgiving (which is one of my other specialties) you will NOT find me in there. Unless it's to paint, put up wall paper, etc.

That said, I didn't even log on last night. I was too tired by the time I got done cooking and then cleaning it all up and putting everything back. I even ended up napping briefly after dinner.

The good news is that tonight will be leftovers. And, I'm not doing ANYTHING else. Well, maybe ordering some stuff online for the mother. (And I have no idea what it is. God help me.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cop Magnet

I’m starting to feel like a cop magnet. Seriously.

I end 2008 with a cop drama unfolding 10 or so yards away – and I don’t even know it. So why did I think I could make it through two whole weeks into 2009 without it happening again?!

While this time was much less dramatic, it was just as odd. In nearly 30 years of bus-riding, I’ve never had anything like this happen. We’re trundling through town and a police car, lights flashing, speeds up alongside us. Then as we stop for a red light, the squad car makes a hard right directly into the path of the bus.

An officer jumps out and runs up to the bus door. I’m sitting toward the front so I hear the officer say “I need to check your passengers.” There I sit, laptop in hand, but he breezes right past me as a second officer boards. The first officer shouts back to the driver: “Have you had any couples – a man and a woman – get off the bus in the last few minutes?” I knew we hadn’t and the bus driver shook his head vigorously.

On hearing that, the officer turned back around to the seven or so stunned passengers. “I’m sorry, ladies, we didn’t mean to frighten anyone,” he began. “We received a call though about a man holding his wife on a bus and we just aren’t sure what bus.” The officers spoke briefly in hushed tones with the driver and then they were gone.

It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, after hearing both last night and this morning about a local case on the news where a suspected murder/suicide had taken place after the wife filed a restraining order.

As for this morning’s case, I hope that a) it was all a misunderstanding or b) that the police found the right bus and no one was harmed.

Just Not My Night

Last night was clearly not my night. I guess I can chalk it up to lack of sleep.

I did some running around with the mother last night, trying to ensure that we had plenty of everything in the house ahead of a cold front that rolled in overnight. (Apparently, so did everyone else as many of the shelves were already uncharacteristically bare.)

During one stop, my ear warmers disappeared. I walked the store again, checked customer service on the off chance that someone may have turned them in, but no dice. Bummer.

I was already uptight about that when I get a checker who is clearly among the most clueless I’ve ever met. Maybe it’s because I worked in a grocery store during college (one of my three part-time jobs), but I’m particular about packing groceries. Most of the time, I don’t have to worry because checkers usually understand that you don’t bag cold, wet items (like, say cottage cheese) along with a paper box of crackers or cereal or Tylenol. They also seem to understand that you don’t mix cleaning products with food items. Period. Ever. This gal understood none of that.

Then, she proceeded to argue with me informing me that I had not purchased a product corresponding with one of my coupons. In a case of adding insult to injury, instead of pulling up the register tape and then just keying in the coupon code, she turns to me and barks: “Well, can you find it?”

I was so ready to explode it wasn’t funny. Somehow, instead of completely losing it, I managed to mutter through clenched teeth, “Perhaps I could if there was some rhyme or reason to how these items were being bagged.” Now she was pissed. Tough.

After several minutes of rummaging, I was able to produce the item in question. Yeah. Read it and weep, baby.

Then we stop for food. In a drive-thru. My gloves had been in the trunk where the mother had placed them after I’d removed them and given them to her during the rummaging incident. I put them on while I was loading the car. I had to take them off to get money out of my purse. I figured they had fallen into my lap or at my feet when, on the way home, I failed to spot them. Again, no dice. They vanished.

So, in about 30 minutes, I managed to lose both a set of ear wraps and a pair of gloves – hours ahead of some of the coldest weather we’ve had in a decade. (We may go below zero. Today’s high is bout 20, but 20-30mph winds make it fee between 1 and 10.)

I was not amused. The good news is that I have other ear covers and gloves – just not in that color. So, in the interest of staying warm, I’ll have to be mismatched for a few days ‘til I can replace them. I managed to make it home without losing anything else.

It just wasn’t my night. Maybe someone who could really use them will find them.

Monday, January 12, 2009

5 Things I Re-Learned This Weekend

This weekend was as much about getting together with cherished friends and having a good time as it was about scrapbooking. (I honestly believe it was more about the first.)

However, there were some things I saw firsthand that I think apply not just to scrapbooking but to any project whether it’s home improvement, work-related or scrapbooking. And while most of these seem like common sense, sometimes I think we need to say them in order to acknowledge that we know them. This weekend forced my hand in that respect.

While the five lessons directly apply to my scrapbooking habits, I’m going to try harder to incorporate all of these into other facets of my daily life. I am hereby launching the AOP JR. program!

1. Assess. Do you even know what you have or what you need? These are two very important questions. While we took our annual trip to Archiver’s per usual, I swore myself off of ALL THINGS Christmas. (Organizing on Friday night led me to find all kinds of items I had long forgotten purchasing or being given.) This same principle applies when I go to do a DIY job. I have a ton of hardware: nails, screws, bolts, nuts, etc., in a variety of sizes and finishes. Do I ever look through these to see if I have a quantity that can be used for another project? Yes – but not always. This means I sometimes come home and use half a package of screws or nails and I when I go downstairs to store the leftovers, I find an unopened package of whatever I’ve been using. One of my chief goals for this year: Use up as much of what I already have as possible.
2. Organize. I’ve always known that getting organized is key to accomplishing almost anything. Once you know what you have and what you need, organize tools and materials in a way in which you can find them. Occasionally, I’ve even endeavored on a large scale to do this not only with my scrapbooking, but also with my DIY projects, and at work. Oh, sure. You can definitely run on auto-pilot. You can be spontaneous in the long-term and still accomplish a lot. However, you could probably accomplish a lot more if you knew where each piece of needed material or tool was located along the way. (Search less. Work more.) The hard part: continuing to follow whatever system you establish as new pieces or tools come in and others depart.
3. Plan. Think it all out. I do this almost to a fault with my home projects. Doesn’t mean it always goes the way I plan it, but it gives me somewhere to start and to go from. And, it forces me to revisit steps No. 1 and No. 2 and modify them if they need it. I’m proud to say that I used several pieces of paper and a variety of embellishments for pages I had already thought out. And, because I do much of my journaling with the computer (via textboxes), I can declare nearly 10 events or activities in 2006 – for a total of 27 pages – officially complete. I’m almost through June!
4. Justify. This is a toughie. I often reward myself with scrapbooking store adventures, so I know there is no way I can – or should – cut that out completely. However, I do need to exercise a little restraint and not walk out the door with everything I LIKE. I’ve already sworn off Christmas entirely. My rule for the near future for everything else is this: If you can’t justify it, you can’t buy it. And I’m not going to settle for just any ole wimpy justification either. (I’ll get medieval with myself if I have to.)
5. Regroup. You’ve done 1-4. What did you find out? This is important because if you’re like me, you get knee-deep into your project (whether it’s DIY or scrapbooking) and something doesn’t work, doesn’t fit, doesn’t look right – whatever – and you tell yourself, “Oh, I’ll just come back to this.” No you won’t. (If you’re like me, anyway.) Two years later, if it’s not something that seriously impedes progress, it will still look the same. (In some cases, it is something that seriously impedes progress.) Either way, if you do cut yourself some slack, don’t leave it open-ended. Seat a deadline –and stick to it!

I re-learned something else, too. To me, it’s more important than all the other five, so I saved it for last: FRIENDSHIPS MATTER -- STAY CONNECTED! We’re all busy with families, jobs, homes, the daily routines, and all those unexpected things that throw everything and everyone into chaos. So, we can’t go hang out with each other as often or for as long as we’d always like to.

So?! That’s not an excuse. There are still lots of ways to stay connected. Technology gives us a TON of alternatives. Fire off a quick email (a personalized one, not one of those FW: Subject letters). Send a quick text. Or, go completely low-tech and drop a Hallmark card in the mail.
Some of these are free. Some cost a couple bucks. All require just a few minutes.

But in every case, the ROI is more than worth it.





Numb

Except for being completely exhausted -- or perhaps because of it -- numb is about as close as it comes to describing my state of mind today. And we all know how I feel about Mondays anyway.

Last night, after finally getting Ozzie settled (he clearly suffered some serious separation anxiety over the weekend) and unpacking what would amount to a week's salary of luggage if I were carrying it by plane, we tuned in to the Golden Globes.

Except for the Oscars, I'm not big on awards programs. In fact, I generally avoid them. The mother enjoys all the red carpet activity, but I'm just not into any of that. I was too tired to lobby for anything else, so I just sat their Stoically, with Yorkie in lap.

Something that delighted me, however, were all the accolades heaped on HBO's John Adams. I watched this back in May after initially wrinkling my nose when I heard who was playing the title role (Paul Giamatti). It's not that I dislike him, I just had a hard time seeing him in this role -- until I watched it. Last night saw me applauding his win in the best actor (TV) category, one of about four I think I counted for the miniseries.

It's lengthy but well worth the time investment if you've not seen it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Homecoming

When I got home from work Friday night, I didn't make it all the way in through the back door when Ozzie promptly overturned his waterbowl, sending a minor flood across the entire kitchen.

I feared a repeat performance when I arrived home this evening after being away for about 45 hours. Instead, he was a barking moving target. But now he is lying beside me, curled near my hip, content to have me back within his visual range and furry reach.

I had an incredible weekend. In fact, that seems much too weak a word to describe Friday evening through late afternoon today. Thank you especially to The MonkeyGirl for once again being my roomie and making this such a wonderful way to start a new year.

And thank you to all those fearsoCheck Spellingme women who laughed, ate, cropped, shared, sang, traveled, joked, danced, snacked, shopped, searched, loaded, unloaded, and pooled money in Powerball with me. (We didn't win. But guess what: NEITHER DID ANYONE ELSE!!

So, I can't retire yet and I DO have to go to work tomorrow. I haven't yet downloaded my pictures from the weekend so there are some incredible laughs in my immediate future -- and something I'll laugh at again and again as I preserve in the more distant future.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bloggin’ by the Bathroom Light

Yes, that’s right – comin’ to you live from Scrapbook Escape 2009 at a location about 25 miles from home base. It’s quite early, especially for a Saturday, but hey, I got things to do, right? And, as a general rule, I am historically a horrible sleeper in hotels.

The MonkeyGirl and I are bunkmates. She is still trying to sleep (emphasis on trying.) Poor thing. She is currently being disturbed by my erratic sleep patterns. Luckily, we are night people so she and I were the last dogs last night, locking up the room downstairs where about 15 of us are spending the weekend amongst our photos and all things scrapbooking. I say “last night,” but in reality, it was but a few short hours ago.

This is not a bad hotel. I remember very distinctly how much I liked it last year. Somehow, this year I think we’ve gotten a room that could use some help – in a big way. Not only are the beds, well, hard (read: mortuary slab), the sink in the bathroom is a homeowner’s worst nightmare. The caulk below where counter and basin meet is in desperate need of replacement.

Jeez. You can take the girl out of This D*mn House, but I guess you can’t take This D*mn House out of the girl!

Let that be the last word for now. I need to get showered and dressed and EAT (one of the other inherent beauties of this weekend event). And then, it's bag to 2006 ...

Friday, January 9, 2009

I Take It All Back – Almost

I feel really bad about raggin’ on the bus driver this morning. I’ll take almost all of it back.
Almost. Here’s why.

The bus was still in my visual range when I realized that my cell phone – the cell phone that I’ve not yet had a week – was not in my coat pocket. I hurriedly rummaged through my bag to make sure I hadn’t stuck it in there even though I keenly recalled shoving it into my coat pocket. Not there.

By then, I hear the bus pulling away from the stoplight on the street where it had just turned. I look up to see another bus right at the stop. I run to that bus and who is driving but the morning bus driver I had until last week! She smiles and waves and then noticing my expression, throws open the door.

I ask her if she can ask my bus to stop. It’s not an easy request to honor but she goes through it. I explain that my cell is on the bus and tell her where I was sitting. A few minutes later, she says: “Yeah. He’s got it. You want them to take it in?” In is the bus center, about 4 miles from my house. No, says I. I’d rather just hop the bus and grab it. Otherwise, in addition to everything else I need to do to officially get my weekend under way, I’d have to drive out there and get my phone!

She can’t communicate directly with the other bus but a few blocks later, we discover my bus is directly in front of us. She tells dispatch and a second later, the bus pulls over. We say goodbye and I fly the half-block over to my original bus. The driver walks off the bus and extends my phone toward me. I thank him.

Part of it was guilt and part of it was his realization that I am now standing 10-15 blocks away from where he originally let me off. “Where exactly are you trying to get to?” he asks. When I tell him, he says, “Hop on. I can get you back there.” And he did. RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE DOOR. (Which isn’t a stop. Or even near one.)

I felt a little bad because I’d put him through all this rigamarole. Then, he told me that this was his day off. He’d gotten called in at 4 a.m. He hadn’t gone to bed until a few hours earlier because he’d gotten a call from his mother who’d gotten lost trying to get her sister home from a chemotherapy treatment. Said sister had gotten sick during this journey … I don’t think I need to explain more. His night sucked.

And his day didn’t really start any better than mine. Aw, hell. I’m feeling particularly generous. I’ll take it all back!

I may or may not post any more this weekend. That remains to be seen. All I know is that I hope the ride home is infinitely more uneventful than the ride in!

Let’s get this weekend started …

Hey Dumb@(#*!

Riding the bus is good for the environment. It saves a lot of wear and tear on the car. It saves on gas (though with prices what they are now, that’s not much of an argument). It gives me time to write (like I am now), or to read, or to work. Or even to sleep.

I couldn’t do any of that if I were driving! And, I feel good about the positive impact. But some mornings, it doesn’t seem worth it. Take this morning for instance.

I’m going in early today because I hope to also leave early. (So psyched for my weekend it’s scary.) This means I have to also leave home earlier and since this isn’t a bus I ride every day, I get to guess about which time to expect it. Turns out, I was out there earlier than I needed to be, but that was OK.

The bus rounds the corner and shows no sign of slowing. I start waving frantically. Still, no slowing. I run into the adjancent traffic lane (where luckily there are no cars) and continue to wave my arms as if I’ve caught myself on fire. Dumbass bus driver WAVES BACK and drives on.
Figuring he can still see me in his rear view, I continue waving. Finally, a block down, I see the flash of a brake light. He finally stops. I jog up the block. “We don’t normally pick up here,” he says as I board.

“That’s strange. The bus an hour from now does. So does every other bus that goes by here since P. Road is closed,” I fire back.

“Well, they weren’t picking up on this road the last time I drove this route,” he snarls back, braking in just enough time to pick up a gentleman that I know rides this bus every day.

I couldn’t help myself. “If that’s the case, then WHERE exactly would you pick up all the people who live on this road, since they can no longer go to P.Road?” At this point, Mr. B. chimed in.

“There will be two ladies at the church a few blocks up.” He should know. Unlike dumbass driver, HE is on this bus every day.

Sure enough, the two ladies are there. A block later, another lady. That’s five people along the road “where they don’t pick up.” Clearly, we all didn’t just decide it would be fun to stand out there before 6 a.m. in the cold for the hell of it. Apparently, I and at least four others expected the bus to stop along that road.

Dumbass.

OK. I’ve ranted and that’s out of my system. If it were any other day but today, it might be harder to shake off. But not today. Not today.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

List-Happy

Apparently, I’ve gone list-happy today. I have no less than five lists going right now.
My lists have lists! One each for two different grocery stores, one each for two different retail stores, a list of things I need to finish at work, and a list of things I need to do to wrap up prep for my weekend plans.

If I’m this tired just making and trying to keep up with each list, what kind of shape will I be in if I should actually do all this stuff?! Sheesh.

Seems like I might need to adopt Cozi, an online calendar service that Jayne over at Dainty Digs blogged about recently. Because it also offers some kind of list keeper – the coolest function of which is it will text message you your latest list should you lose or forget it – now might not be a bad time to check it out.

Now I need to add to my list: temporary filling mix. My filling from a few weeks ago – it fell out this afternoon! They said that it might happen, even a day or so from when I was there, so I guess I should be happy it lasted a few weeks.

But damn! Couldn’t it have waited until after the weekend?

My Pin-Up Boy

I need to get a picture of this and share it. It’s too stinkin’ cute.

I said sometime back that Ozzie got a feature spot in the YorkieTalk 2009 Calendar. Well, my copies arrived yesterday. My darling baby (sorry, I am prejudiced where he’s concerned) is in May! Even if they did get our residence state wrong, it’s still too adorable.

Because he is so popular, I guess I’m lucky that he lets me stay in the same house with him. Thousands of copies of the calendar were distributed around the world. (Seriously, YT has members all over the globe. I’m always amazed when I see just how many countries the site reaches.) Yep. He’s famous. And yep. I guess I would have been one of those stage mothers.

It was fun to look through and see so many of his friends! The MonkeyMama is so very right: Yorkies do rule the world.

Meanwhile, I’m getting more and more excited about the weekend. By this time tomorrow, I should be downright giddy! Crop Camp is just HOURS away. Isn’t it wonderful to have friends that you are so eager to spend the weekend with?!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Michelangelo Project


I’m not planning to try to carve a 21st Century version of David. (Cutting all the bricks for the porch and walkway is about as much of a foray into stone-carving as I can handle for a while.) Nor am I planning to create anything as grandiose as the Sistine Chapel, but …

There is a common bond though: Ceilings. After much research, review, and many discussions with the mother, we’re planning, at some point in the very near future, to resurface the ceilings in the bathroom, kitchen, and downstairs family room. We're going with tin-type ceiling tiles, or the look of at least. The plan is to use one product in the kitchen, and another for the bath and family rooms.

Because the kitchen will need backsplash as well – and I don’t want to attempt a metallic paint job on a surface that will likely need very regular cleaning – I’ve opted for a finished and somewhat sturdier product. (The mother wants to put stainless steel in the kitchen. We’ve already purchased new cabinet hardware and faucets. Appliances will be next. UGH. Hoping that’s something that can be afforded this year!)

For the bathroom and the family room, I’m going with unpainted styrene from Surfacing Solutions. They offer four different patterns (that’s the picture) in the 2x4 size tile. (These you can nail or glue up. They also come in 2x2 size for T-grid/lay-in installation.) I’ll be gluing these up using white or translucent adhesive. I thought about double-sided tape – because that’s one of their recommendations –but I’m afraid you might be able to see that through the panel.

I sent for samples of the two on the left back in the fall. I think we’re going with the second pattern from the left on both the bathroom and family room ceilings. The bathroom is small, but the family room? Ouch. This will get a little pricey at $12/sheet. But it’s a whole lot cheaper than the option for the kitchen. (If you buy at least 100, the price drops by $1 per sheet. I won’t need quite that many.)

This will really help brighten the space in the bathroom as well as the space downstairs. The POs did a half-assed and horrible job of finishing the basement. I corrected their flooring and wall woes more than a decade ago. However, we’ve managed to just live with the ultra-shoddy taping job on the ceiling. We’ve been talking about it for years and before we got wrapped up in all of the simultaneous big, outdoor projects last year, we had planned to do it then. (Yeah, best laid plans and all that …) Then, back in August, it became clear that we might have to drill through the ceiling to put in the new dining room outlet so that pushed the idea even further onto the back burner. So, now that I have those lovely three new holes in the ceiling, it seems like an even more appropriate time to tackle the job.

For the kitchen, we’ll either go with Armstrong ceiling tiles from Lowe’s or true tin from American Tin Ceilings. Neither one is cheap (almost double the styrene option) and I’ll need to buy trim, too.

At least the kitchen is small.

Slooooow Going

The mother has started deChristmassing but it’s a slow process. Between keeping an overly watchful eye on Ozzie (who is doing much better, thanks!) and battling her own aches and pains, progress is marginal at best.

I’m hoping that tonight I might be able to get everything in from outside within 15 minutes or so. It was drizzling last night and I was just wiped out so it didn’t happen last night. I was even in bed, brace yourself, at 10:45. That is more than an hour earlier than my usual turn-in time!

I even got some sleep, which is a really good thing, considering that I’ve got plans this weekend. That’s right – it’s finally here: Scrapbook Escape, that wildly amusing, women-only weekend. It’s my goal not to be too tired to enjoy it. I am SO ready for it. (Except for having all of my photos printed, my laundry done, my bag packed, and snackage purchased.) But, that’s what the next two nights are all about.

I’m still doing some year-end stuff at work, which I’ll be very happy to wrap up this morning. So, this seems to be a week of preparation, endings and beginnings. And then, it’s back to house projects later this month. Well, I did just begin a new year of vacation days …

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hammer Time

Before you go all '80ish, begin sing-rappin’, and dancin’ around in tent pants that could safely house a country’s worth of refugees … it’s not that Hammer.

It seems our friends over at Charles & Hudson have announced a new award, The Hammers. Here are the only rules: Our goal is to discover new sites with great content that we're hopeful can help you with your own home improvement project.All blogs are eligible even if their main focus isn't home improvement as long as they regularly share great insight on do-it-yourself projects.

Hit the link above and nominate a worthy site – or sites – by Friday!

It would be hard to nominate just one because so many of you are not only amusing and encouraging, but helpful, too! I'm thinking ...

Is It Tuesday -- or Monday?

Mother Nature must’ve forgotten to flip her calendar –it isn’t even Monday. That is the strange part, I thought, as I carefully and very gingerly maneuvered into the yard, shying away from the sheen of ice that glazed my brick walkway this morning.

It took a few extra minutes to reach the sidewalk, remain standing on its icy surface, and then wait ‘til I could safely cross four iced-up lanes of roadway. It took so long that I had just reached my destination across the street as the bus turned the corner. Here’s hoping that that block between the bus stop and the office isn’t ice-covered.

The bus is unusually full this morning. There are at least 10-12 others aboard, about eight of whom got on before me. Highly unusual. Even after emptying at the central depot, we’ve picked up about as many as got off. My quiet little bus is becoming popular. UGH.

We don’t appear to be sliding much, which is good, but then the driver is going slowly and braking cautiously. (Update: we just did a crazy-ass slide but stayed on the road, as we passed a police scene where someone else wasn’t as lucky. Just looks like they crashed the curb and maybe a signpost though.)

Poor Ozzie. Sunday night, he made an awkward jump from the loveseat and appears to have injured one of his back legs or feet. Nothing seems swollen or tender to the touch. I think he just twisted something. (He did this a few years ago while charging down the basement stairs.) I saw a little improvement last night, (after a day of mostly staying off of it and of no jumping) so I’m not overly concerned, but we are still watching him.

The mother is babying him BIG time. He is eating this up, believe me. Sometimes, I know he’s smarter than we think he is. This would be one of those times. He’s going to milk it for all it’s worth. He is SO pitiful though. If he’s not any better by tomorrow, I guess he will have to go to the vet.

Cross your fingers that this isn’t the case.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bathtub Blues

Here's a tip if you're considering a one-bath home: DON'T.

This is only occasionally a problem for us, but when it is a problem, it's problematic in a big way.

I need to recaulk the tub. Not a huge deal -- except just about every product out there requires a dry surface to start and 48 hours to cure. That translates to three days minimum with no bathtub use. Unless you're someone who could give a flip about hygiene, that's a problem.

While I'm at it, the mother is now suggesting that I reglaze the tub. Well, I would have to caulk first since you need to FILL the tub to caulk and somehow I don't think you can have water in the tub while you reglaze it ...

Right now, I am trying to figure out when would be a good time to take on this task. And I'm thinking it might be the coming MLK weekend. Not sure I'm up to reglazing. That's a "we'll see" thing. The caulking, however, has to be done. And soon. The temporary job I did a week or so ago is just that -- temporary.

Anyone ever used one of those DIY glazing kits? Interested in what your experience has been.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lights Out

I hate this time of year. The one thing that makes winter tolerable for me -- at least its earliest portion -- are the lights and other decorations of the holidays.

Now it's time for them to all come down.

It's going to look bare and empty at both home and work and I am not looking forward to it.

We had the lights on all day (the tree, prelit garland on the fireplace mantel, and the little gift boxes outside) since this is their last hurrah. I'm not sure when exactly they'll come down (we usually leave things up through Epiphany which is Tuesday).

But whatever day they're gone, it doesn't matter. I'll miss them just the same.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Going to the Dogs


Coal the Labrador got to make his guest blogger debut following in the footsteps of our Yorkie pals Wylie and Marcel. So, it only seems fair that Ozzie gets to put his two cents in – or so he says. (Because he's older than all three of those guys combined. Hey, that's HIS reasoning, not mine.) So here goes Ozzie’s first meme!

What breed are you? I’m a Yorkie through and through but I have the constitution of a Doberman, especially when the mailman comes. My Co-dee (better known as NV to you) says I’m part moose.
How old are you? I’m a very young 11.5 years, thank you very much.
What is your full name? My Yorkie papers say I’m Sir Ozmund, but my girls named me Ozmund Anthony. Everyone calls me Ozzie though.
Do you have any nicknames? TONS! The Moose is the most common one, but that has become a whole bunch of other names including Mooberry Hill, Mooman, Mooby Doo, Mooie, Mootie Moo, and just plain Moo. There are some other ones when I’m bad, but since this is a PG-rated blog, I don’t think I should say ‘em.
Where do you sleep? Anywhere I want. I have my own bed and I start out there every night. Sometime before the alarm goes off or on the weekends, I bunk with the Co-dee. (That’s my favorite place.) After she goes to work, I go hang with the mother or else I lounge on the sofa. If the Co-dee is gone, the mother is my stand-in.
What is your favorite thing to do? Eat. There are only a handful of things I don’t like: shrimp, mushrooms, and tomatoes are chief among them. A close second is play. I live for squeaky toys or talking toys!
What is something interesting/unusual about you? I am one popular dude! There are a ton of Christmas cards on top of the entertainment center. They came from dozens of states and even from foreign countries. Guess who most of them were addressed to? Just guess! Oh – and I’m a calendar dog. I got a feature spot in the 2009 YorkieTalk calendar. But a lot of my Yorkie buds did, too. I think it’s cool.
Who is your best friend? The Co-dee. I would walk through fire to get to her. She feeds me, plays with me and fulfills my overwhelming need to snuggle.
Did you go to obedience school? I went to puppy kindergarten when I was about 6 months old. I graduated – with honors. It didn’t take though.
Can you do any tricks? I make food disappear. And I can destroy any squeaky toy ever made. It’s a hobby of mine.
Consider yourself tagged! Let your furry friends speak. And if you do, leave us a comment and let us know!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Non-buyer's Remorse

I should have bought that.

Why didn't I get that (fill in the blank) at (choose a store)?

I had it in my hand, but I just couldn't justify spending the money.

If you've ever uttered these or phrases like them, you may have suffered from non-buyer's remorse or the condition of wishing to hell you'd bought something you saw while out shopping. I don't suffer from it much. At least not firsthand.

But I suffer from it regularly via the mother.

At least one of every two shopping trips we take together, those words emerge from mother's mouth. It was with the idea of resolving non-buyer's remorse that led to a last-minute adjustment in plans this morning.

I had asked the MonkeyGirl if she could meet me to pick up a bookcase. She graciously agreed. We were tentatively scheduled for mid-morning, but the mother was anxious to return to a store we'd been to yesterday and buy something she hadn't (which I'd told her to THREE TIMES). Since she's on vacation, and since she had to pick up her new pup at the groomer's, MonkeyGirl welcomed the time shift.

The mother had a successful shopping adventure, we found some items we can use next year, and we had good weather all the while.

The MonkeyGirl and I had an equally successful adventure, happily getting the bookcase loaded. Not until after I made an ass of myself in the checkout because my debit card expired -- on Dec. 31. I HAD a new one, but it was at home, unactivated. But the MonkeyGirl loaned me a few bucks so I could get my crap and then pick up the bookcase. (I HAD money at home, but I'm so accustomed to using my debit card anymore ...)

At home, I made an equal ass of myself after we had carried the bookcase downstairs by falling out of the backdoor. I was reaching up to slide the clip across (the one that holds the door open) when I lost my balance and subsequently tripped over the towel across the threshold, to block drafts. I had about two seconds to respond so I managed to not fall all the way back and slam my head. Instead, I broke my fall with my butt and my left hand/wrist/elbow. Luckily, the MonkeyGirl was there to grab the uninjured hand and pull me back on my feet.

Yeah, I'm feelin' it. Ouch. Grace was never one of my virtues.

But a good day with both the mother and the MonkeyGirl ... a perfect mix of family, and friends that are family.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome 2009!

For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning." -- T.S. Eliot


Happy New Year, everyone! Am I the only person who just can NOT believe that the old year is gone already? Who wants to place bets on how long it will take me to start writing 2009 or '09 on checks or other dated materials? (Insider info: It's usually at least a week.)

I HATE New Year's resolutions, so I'm not making any. I think that, by design, they set us up for failure because they are usually clouded by some grandiose imagery of how we think things should be. (One of my regular quotes to the mother is that there's a world of difference between should be and is.)

Instead, I'm going to make myself a promise. I'm going to promise myself a better year in 2009. That's not to say that 2008 was bad. It had its difficult moments to be sure, but all in all it was a pretty good year. Part of that was luck. Part of that was a basket of blessings. The other part was just sheer determination on my part.

And that is where the key is. That determination -- on my part. It's easy to curse our luck or to blame others for our shortcomings. But, the bottom line is, at the end of the day, the only person responsible for your happiness is YOU. Sure things are going to happen that you can't control. (Physical injury, a death, a job loss.) The deciding factor though on whether these things make or break you is all in how you react to them.

I am impatient. I am a brooder. My emotional quotient is like a sponge that soaks up both the positive and negative energy of others. I tend to set the bar way too high -- and then wonder why I couldn't reach it. Conversely, if I'm not that keen on doing something, even if it is well within my skill set, I pick at it or avoid it when I know what I should do is attack it head on.

So, as we start this new year, I plan to make the most of all that has been given to me. For those things I enjoy, I plan to enjoy them tenfold. For those things that are, well, ugly on a good day ... I'll tackle them harder and move through them quicker. I'll try to be more patient. I'll work against the negative energy that I am often so quick to absorb. And, I'll attack the job at hand with gusto, whether it's something I enjoy or loathe with a passion that I reserve for few things. If I start phoning it in, I'll call myself on it instead of just giving myself a pass. I've been given many gifts. To abuse, or worse yet, not use them at all, exceeds sinful.

Will I fall short of the mark? Probably. But I have to believe that if I seriously commit myself to the paragraph above, 2009 can't help but be a stellar year.

And it all starts now ...