Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Now that the rain has finally passed, we spent just a bit today putting a few decorations outside. I hope the whole TWO trick-or-treaters we’ve had so far really appreciated them!



And whatever you’re doing or did this evening, I hope it was fun.
Just make sure to keep that Jack-o-lantern lit.

All night.

The Culprit

I came home last night to find several things.

1) The mother was only slightly exaggerating.
2) The water heater was fine.
3) There were no leaks in the walls.

This pointed the finger in one direction: the sink and the overflow pipe! Touched the end and found it wet. Ta-dah. Luckily, more than half of the water that had been backing up in the drain had rolled directly into the sump pump hole. I bailed out quite a bit of it and turned to the handy dandy Shop Vac to get the rest.

I found with disgust that our ginormous ShopVac that I'd bought last year, apparently came WITHOUT a foam sleeve for water pick-up. WTF?

I swabbed and scrubbed the floor and set up the dehumidifier. On today's list of things to do is to buy the missing foam sleeve and suck out the remaining water. Then I can clean the cache hole and this chapter will be closed.

A-men!

Friday, October 30, 2009

I Didn't Shoot the Albatross

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink ;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

Honest, I didn't shoot the albatross. I swear it. (The act that supposedly triggers all the woes of the mariner in this poem I loathed in a freshman lit class in college.)

I don’t know how many boards have shrunk but I do know that where the laundry room is concerned, water is supposedly everywhere. Quoth the mother. (Seriously hoping this is a case of one of her infamous exaggerations.)

She thinks it’s the water heater. The water heater that we replaced less than 18 months ago. It’s either that, or one of the basement walls sprang a leak. I’m leaning toward the latter though I won’t know for sure until I get home to check it out. Reading about all these complaints with relatively new GE water tanks leaking, she could be right though.

My preference is that there is nothing wrong with the water heater OR the wall. I'm rooting for a clogged kitchen sink (which has caused overflow in the basement before) or that the storm drains were temporarily overrun (which with all this rain is not farfetched) and THAT caused the overflow pipe to kick in. At any rate, issue diagnosis is one of my specialties and I guess I'll get my chance to see soon enough.

Whatever the cause, it’s not good. And definitely NOT the best way in which to start off the weekend. Of course, this kind of stuff ONLY happens when I'm incredibly exhausted, too.

Here’s hoping for a quick and easy fix!

Comfort Zone

We all have a favorite chair or sofa that we allow ourselves to sink deeply into. We may nap there. We may be perfectly at peace there, holed up with a good book. Or maybe there’s a sacred pair of sweats. Put those on and the rest of the world rolls off of you.

Well that, folks, is the way I feel about the nearest and dearest of my friends. It doesn’t matter if it’s been five days, five months or five years since last I saw them. (The only thing that ever seems to change is the size of the kids.) So there I was last night, nestled ever so deeply into that emotional armchair, clad in my virtual sweat pants.

Life is complicated and sometimes gets downright difficult. But this? This is the very definition of easy. Simplicity personified.

A little over three and a half hours never passed so quickly. It might as well have been 10 minutes. The calendar may have read 2009, but there we were, channeling 1979, 1983, 1990. We made time stop in its tracks, even if only for a little while. All these years later, I'm still awestruck by the connections that one stupid building (that the mother forced me to go to for four years) has made in my life. How? Some people go their whole lives without these bonds.

I pity them.

The rain, which never seems to end lately, hammered Pearl as I headed home from CD’s last night, but I didn’t care. My mind was energized. My heart revived. Give me your damndest, Mother Nature. Go ahead.

I’ve got friends.

Long Way to Go

One of the things that the mother’s recent obsession with clearing things up and organizing them has brought to the surface is the number of things that are still undone. It’s kind of depressing when I think about it.

One thing I’d hoped – and hope each week, waiting patiently for the flyers to come out – is that Home Depot would have had a sale on special order flooring by now. I need to order new thresholds for both the kitchen and the bathroom. I need a different kind for the bathroom than what was on there. For the kitchen, I need a new one for two reasons.

First, it never matched the laminate exactly to begin with but that was OK since the vinyl planks were a different color entirely. It was one I had bought (getting as close to the laminate as I could) after one of the bedroom pieces had to be recut and there wasn’t enough of the matching stuff to do the kitchen. Second, it got split in two during all the moving of appliances.

The bathroom floor isn’t finished either. With each trip in there I’m reminded of the fact that I still need to regrout in a few spots, use the sanded, colored caulk around the bath and short wall (and see if I will need to lay down individual hex pieces if the quarter-round doesn’t cover), and of course, remove the last of the grout haze. Yeah. Seriously fun stuff.

That is on my weekend agenda. That, along with skim-coating walls. And who knows? I may even actually get some wallpaper up in there.

Ideally, it WILL stop raining. This would be ideal so that I can cut both the quarter-round and the upper wall trim. We got faint glimpses of the sun on Wednesday night – and an all too brief glimpse of it yesterday morning. It’s done nothing but rain since. We’re well over 10 inches for the month, the wettest October in recent history.

OK. We broke the record.

You can STOP NOW, please!

Poetry

I'm making up for last night's absence by overloading (and unloading) all my thoughts at once.

Rain, rain GO AWAY.

You suck.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Priceless

If you have furry family members, I don't have to explain what a great source of comedy they can be. It's entertainment you just can't buy a ticket to!

On no shortage of occasions, I think I have described or mentioned what a weird cat Toby is. He rarely meows. He tends more toward “chirping,” these brief little high-pitched vocalizations that sound more like Morse code than a language.

He’s NOT a lap cat by any stretch of the imagination though he worships the mother and is usually hangin’ within 10 feet of her. He likes to walk up to her and touch her with a paw to get her attention. And sometimes, like last night, he is content to sit on the sofa with her, a pillow or two (where the mother likes to keep her feet) propped between them, and watch television. Like this. Seems pretty comfy, doesn't he?

He's relatively content to stay that way -- unless you accidentally startle him. (If you look up “scaredy cat” in the dictionary, you’re liable to find his photo.) This dude is definitely on edge. It’s a tendency that’s become even more pronounced since the arrival of the kitten.

But, assuming he isn't startled, he will sit quietly and watch television. Occasionally, he will give one of us a strange look (usually while a goofy commercial is on.) Kind of eerie sometimes the way he reacts with such human qualities.

And that's what makes this so hilarious. (At least to me. And, admittedly, I'm easily amused.
Tell me he doesn't look like he's saying: What? Can't a guy watch Hardball without you pointin' that camera at him?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Around the 'Net

On days when I spend a lot of time online, I almost always run across good reading material without really looking for it. It usually becomes something to lunch by.

That said, here’s a few things I found that I think you might want to check out:
· I found this article quite apt as the mother is on a one-woman crusade to get as much project clutter cleared up as possible. Things have started to disappear from all over the house. (A mixed blessing, considering that the mother sometimes doesn’t remember where she put things. I’m STILL looking for the spare battery I bought for my laptop!)
· Weather.com has been running a really good list of seasonal tips all year long. Here’s a cautionary tale about checking your roof before the weather breaks and a look ahead at their suggested home maintenance activities for November.
· In a rare bi-partisan effort, leading Democrat and Republican senators are calling for an extension of the $8,000 home-buyer credit that’s set to expire at the end of the month. With the needed support, the measure could last until April!
· BobVila.com has some good safety tips to prepare for the thundering herd of trick-or-treaters that are just around the corner. (Thanks to Charles&Hudson for retweeting this link or I might have missed it!)
· You can never have too many resources when it comes to taking on DIY projects from buying products or materials to doing the jobs themeselves. I’ve learned a lot online from blogs, articles and videos. Apparently, I’m far from alone. A survey by Web stat analysis site Compete.com shows that DIYers are visiting manufacturers’ sites in record numbers this year and explores why they are going there.

Bridging the Bridge Logic Gap

It’s NOT raining. And the bus is going McKinley Bridge instead of the usual route (which we did yesterday and spent a good deal of time snarled in traffic). Slappy is his particularly over-happy self in announcing this to his passengers.

All good things. So the day gets off to a decent enough start. I'm hoping there's a theme there.

I’m still having a hard time understanding the concept of how vital everyone keeps saying it is to have a new Mississippi River bridge and yet it’s perfectly logical to CLOSE one of the lanes we currently do have into the city. (The MLK reopened last week after closing for about 10 days so that one of its two westbound lanes could be permanently closed.)

Both the MLK and the McKinley have seen fatal accidents in the past year or so. This led them to recently put a raised line between the two lanes of traffic on the McKinley Bridge. Why couldn’t they have done the same on the MLK? I mean it’s not the bridges’ fault – it’s the drivers. In people, you generally can’t fix stupid or reckless.

People are going to continue to drive too fast. And sometimes, they’re going to do this while they’re drunk and/or stoned. I’m pretty sure that’s why we have laws against both.

Put a cop out there. Issue a few tickets. That would have been enough to slow at least a few people down. And it would have been a hell of a lot cheaper (and smarter use of tax dollars IMHO) to have done that every day for YEARS than to have shut that bridge down and paid construction costs to close a lane.

But that’s just me. I only ride the bus. What do I know?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Addiction

I’m a sucker for snacks. I tend to go in cycles where I have one or two things for a while before switching to something else as my “regular” treat. For the last week or so, I’ve been addicted to something I’m calling Halloween Mix. (Yeah. Not original.)

At our all-day scrapbooking event earlier this month, fancy hand-made boxes featured a mix of peanuts and candy corn that, once I rediscovered it at home, I couldn’t stay out of. Once that was gone, I wanted more. So I made my own. It’s quick. It’s simple. It’s good. But be warned: It’s addictive!

Here’s what you need:
1 big or 2 small bags of Brach’s Autumn Mix (Couple types of candy corn with the little crème pumpkins. These are on sale at Walgreens this week!)
1 jar Planter’s dry-roasted peanuts
¼ to ½ cup of raisins (I err on the larger portion.)

I put all this in one of those rectangular Ziploc containers, snap the lid in place, shake the hell out of it and voila! Instant seasonal trail mix. And, a perfect combo of sweet and salty in a single serving. You may even want to monkey with it and tweak to your own tastes. For now though, I think I’m sticking with this blend.

Just remember, I warned ya.

Turning Back

Even though I’ve known this for months, it occurred to me with a renewed sense of urgency that this weekend is when we turn the clocks back. Don’t forget!

I forgot – once – back in the day when I had to be at my grocery store job at 8 a.m. on Sundays. It was one of the rare occasions that I hadn’t been out with my friends the night before so it wasn’t as bad, just frustrating for the first 15 minutes or so when I was trying to figure out where the hell everyone else was and why no one was there to let me in!

It used to be that the time change coincided with the “monster” Halloween bashes that my former boss (and a colleague today) used to throw. For years, we used those extra hours to drink witches’ brew and howl at the moon. And it gave me an extra hour to spend as someone else like Cleopatra, a devil, Santa Claus, Catwoman or Clarence Thomas. (If you don’t know who he is, Google him and you’ll quickly get why my date was Anita Hill and a Coke can was a needed prop.) Ah, youth!

I still love the idea of getting that extra hour added to my weekend. I just think that it comes at a terrible price: having to both go to work and come home in the dark FOR MONTHS! I don’t mind one or the other; it’s the both part that kills me every year.

I guess it’s also just the compounded interest for having light so long during the summer. I’m not about to give that up. I love having light well past 8 for most of the summer. What do you think?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Border's, Bargains and A Blueprint

“I want to go to Border’s.”

This was part of the mother’s shopping trip on Saturday. And am I going to discourage a trip to a book (and music and DVD) store? I think not!

When I was a kid, I vividly recall the look of disdain I would get from the mother when I always preferred to hang out in the book section while she clothes shopped. (Not that she minded the reading. Education was always made a priority. I just think she wished my interest level in clothes had been parallel to that of books.) The mother had never been much of a reader. Until the last five to 10 years. I like to think this is one of the better ways in which I have rubbed off on her. (Leave a cereal box in front of me and I will invariably read it. Been that way since sometime around age 3 when my sainted grandmother started turning the tables on me and making me read to her. I’d already been a dedicated newspaper reader for years when I started delivering it at age 10.)

So, off to Border’s (among several other stops) we went. Her motivation was to get some books for my cousins’ kids – my godmother’s grandchildren – for Christmas. We found those in abundance. The mother found a few things she liked and me? I could have bought the store! Well, most of it anyway. But, I exercised a great deal of restraint instead.

There was one book though on the bargain shelves that almost immediately caught my attention, Do It Herself, by Joanne Liebeler, an early co-host of PBS’s “Hometime,” one of the original DIY industry television shows. It was neatly packaged with a multi-pocket toolbelt. But even that didn’t immediately sell me. I slid the book out of the nifty little plastic handle bag and as soon as I flipped it open, the page that greets me says: “Give your cabinets a face lift.” Thumbing through I saw chapters on flooring and painting and an illustrated list of “essential” tools. I burst out laughing. This thing reads like a blueprint for This D*mn House!
Notice the cover. What’s THAT she’s sitting on? Well, that cinched it. I had to have it. (And it was only five bucks.) Not to mention there’s an entire chapter on wiring, including a step-by-step to changing light fixtures – something I might actually learn from. I still need to spend a few more minutes with it, but I can tell you, I am getting way more than my money’s worth! If you find it at a Border’s near you, definitely buy it.

The mother, arms starting to fill up with books for the young’uns and the occasional novel for herself, spied me flipping through my find. “You want that? I’ll get it for you?” Well, gee. Thanks, ma!

Now if I can just get her to start requesting trips to Archiver’s …

That Was Quick

Hard to believe it’s Monday again already. Seems like it was just Thursday five minutes ago and I was staring down the prospect of a four-day weekend.

I didn’t get anything finished. I hate that. I had such high hopes for the weekend. But, I think I failed to mention that we also “reclaimed” the basement landing and stairs. That may not sound like much of an accomplishment but the roughly six square feet of space that are the landing, together with the first two or three steps, work something like a mudroom in a bigger home. It’s the first place you stop both leaving and entering through the backdoor.

That means it has become a virtual dumping ground for even more tools, hardware and paint supplies. It also makes it infinitely harder to navigate what I have termed “the stairs of death” leading to the basement. The steps are steep and jut out and in at such angles as to make carrying anything of significant weight a nightmare that you would sooner not have.
That said, that makes its clearing a real accomplishment.

But, now it’s back to work which, I’m healthily happy to return to as some new projects are on the horizon, much like the absolutely gorgeous sunrise I’m staring at right now. Let’s just hope no rain chases them away as quickly as the sunrise seems to have dissipated.

Setting my hat toward having a great week. You do the same!

Reclamation

The weekend was in large part about reclaiming things. It didn't get my bathroom finished, mind you, but it has made the house infinitely more livable.

On Saturday, the mother made me take her shopping AGAIN. (Yeah, I know.) We went to several places (including hardware stores so it was justifiable DIY time) and spent a lot of time in Borders. (More on that in another post.)

That night, she began trying to reclaim the dining room, currently chock full of not only DIY materials, but Halloween and Christmas gifts. She put in a major dent.

On Sunday, we reclaimed the kitchen counters (freeing them of paint tools and supplies, tools, hardware, dropcloths and other odds and ends). Some of the items that will ultimately live there were put into place. BIG change. Huge.

We continued reclaiming the dining room and almost -- almost -- found the table again. I began trying to reclaim my room by doing a boatload of laundry and starting the summer-to-winter clothing transition.

And Sunday night, I reclaimed Ladybird. She'd been staycationing in my late uncle's garage after having visited the carwasher and getting some paint touch-up love from the mother. That gave her a lot of time to really dry and kept her out of the d*mn rain that just can't seem to let up for more than 24 hours at a time. REALLY getting sick of it. (This is officially the wettest October on record in St. Louis. As of late Sunday night, we had 8.55 inches for the month with no sign of stopping and several days still left in the month.)

It was strange to see Ladybird's spot empty for so many days. I feel bad for her now that she's left out in the rain. Poor thing.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Not To Be Outdone

Still working on that trim and on those walls. The mother twisted my arm -- OW! -- and made me go shopping. I know. Yeah, again.

But that was only after I'd gone to the post office and done a bit of painting. I'm entitled, right? Well, all that aside ... we haven't talked about Taz for a while. I haven't posted any new photos or any more pleas for a home for her.

Today, the mother bought her a mat for her food bowls. I think the mother has come to the conclusion that this little girl isn't going anywhere. I still wish she would but things have calmed down a bit. Maybe they'll continue down that path.

In the meantime, Taz seems to be healthy. And happy. And really, really cute. Here's some proof. (Not to be outdone by the photos earlier of the Tobinator.)



Lazy Bones

Things have been moving kind of slow around here. I'll blame it on the rain. It rained ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT Thursday almost without stopping.

It's still quite gray out and very windy. I think Toby has the right idea.




All I got done yesterday was painting a little trim for the bathroom and working on one wall. And I got some packages ready to mail. I'm going to try to be a little more diligent today. Try to be. But it's hard when everybody else looks oh so comfortable.

I need to go to the post office and get this party started. But d*mn. He sure looks REALLY comfortable.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Whole World’s Gone Mad

Geez. I’ve had the TV on for an hour catching up on world events. Within the first half hour:
· They found that missing little 7 year-old-girl from Florida in a Georgia landfill.
· A 15-year-old is fighting for his life after he was set on fire following an argument – over a bicycle and a video game. The youngest suspect is 13!
· There are no suspects in the stabbing death of a 20-year-old college football star in Colorado.
· A man ran over his teen daughter and some of her friends to punish the girl who was not following family morals. Seriously? Has he never heard of "grounding?"

Good God. I guess I should be thankful that most days I don’t hear all of this stuff at once anyway.

The news and the rain are conspiring to ruin my mood. I need to turn off the TV and get off my ass and go start doing some work on the bathroom. (I’m off work, so you knew that it HAD to rain!) Means I can’t work outside so I guess I’ll try to get set up and see if I can’t paint or work on my floor or SOMETHING.

I’ll try to catch up with you guys later. (Like visiting all of you and updating comments here. It’s just been a wild couple of days!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Feels Like Friday

Today is my Friday for the week. I’m taking vacation the next two days My plans are to work on the bathroom but the mother has added so many other things to the roster I’m not sure how much of that I’ll be doing.

The sky is so pretty this morning. Some of the only consolation for being up and in motion this early is the privilege of watching the sun break through the clouds and rise in the sky. That’s also one of the only consolations of the colder weather. I’m not sure what atmospheric change accounts for it, but the morning sky seems to be a lot prettier when it’s colder.

Yesterday is a blur. I went in a bit earlier so that I could take Ladybird to the carwashers and get her weatherized. That will be one last thing the mother has to do. They do such a great job and this time was no exception.

Work was really busy and I had a good day. I even got to leave early, got out ahead of the traffic (for the most part) picked up dinner for the mother (surprised her with fish; not my thing) and made it to the DMV to renew Ladybird’s plates. And I still got home before I would ever have left St. Louis under normal circumstances.

That gave me some time to pay attention to Pearl whom I’id neglected to wash over the weekend. And I need to add a correction here: Yesterday's temps got into the upper 70s! 7-0! (Wish it would stay that way.) So I had just enough daylight and warmth of the day left to get that job done.

It was nice to stand across the street this morning – noting, of course, that the carport is NOT falling down – and admire the TWO clean cars sitting there. Yay!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beautiful

It was beautiful today. Sunny and 60s and the fall colors are starting to pop out all over the place. Like here.
And here. I'm loving the reds and golds and yellows mixing in with the last of the greens.

Fall mananges to elicit SO many different colors from the plant life. It's one of my favorite things about the seasonal change. (OK maybe one of the only things about the season that I DO like. That, and getting to wear some of my favorite sweaters again.)

It's almost impossible to walk past a window in our building and ignore the changes going on. It's as if the colors, which have lain dormant so long, have suddenly and magically appeared again.

I love downtown anyway but nothing compares to the colors that emerge in both spring and fall. They are so magnificent they even manage to make a landmark, one that I mostly take for granted because I see so much of it, even more beautiful. Check this out.



Charity Begins at Home

Dear Humane Society of the United States:

I have been a faithful member for several years. During the past two years, I have made additional contributions both nationally and at the state organization levels.

I have been a lifelong pet owner and need no convincing of the intrinsic value of having furry companions as family members. But HSUS is just one of the animal groups I support and animals are just one of the charitable efforts I contribute to each year. So, I’m politely asking you to BACK OFF! I don’t need you to send me solicitations for more donations EVERY SINGLE WEEK – sometimes multiple times within the same week. Stop with the gut-wrenching stories. I don’t need any more guilt trips in my life.

And the kicker? Sending me a letter asking me if I got the unsolicited mailing of the week before! (I have to think that the cost of paper and postage alone that you could save would do a world of good for some needy creature.) I know times are tough and I’m sure you genuinely need the help. Message received. Loud. And. Clear.

But, charity really does begin at home. I have to tell you that the three furry residents currently in our care are three less that you might otherwise have had to contend with. They all eat. (Better than I do, I might add.) They all need veterinary care. (No $15 co-pays for this crew, either.) The latest is a kitten who is nearing 16 weeks. She’s been with us for about 10 of those. Her vaccinations, the extra litter and food account for whatever other donations I might have made to the animal circuit for this year. And you can’t put a price on the upheaval and aggravation factor of taking on yet another stray.

So please, have some mercy and don’t bug me again until next year – and in Q2 at that . Thanks.

Monday, October 19, 2009

TSA Trauma

I think enough has been said about the mommy blogger and her TSA trip. I don’t want to cast aspersions on either or give any more mileage to that incident.

Instead, I think one of the best things that has come out of this is that maybe the TSA will take a long, hard look in the mirror. If that many people could react that quickly and so vehemently to an alleged infraction by the government agency that stands between you and your next flight, what does that say about their current public image? Lots. And it ain’t good.

I can certainly understand why. I know a TSA agent and while he’s a really great guy, he told me that the way the rules get enforced depends on where you’re flying and who’s on duty. What one agent may let drop, another will go three miles over the line. Good to know.

The last few years, I haven’t flown much. But before that, I was a flyin’ fool. I’ve had my own set of run-ins with the TSA. The first occurred in 2003. I had on a suit where the jacket was actually the top. It has a false panel that gave the illusion of a blouse underneath.

The friendly TSA agent (read a**hole) decided I had to remove my jacket. The first two times I politely explained that it was my top, not my jacket. The third time I said, “If I take this off, I will be standing here in my bra. And I’m not standing here in my bra.” This immediately set off a firestorm. Three agents came to escort me to a corner office. A female TSA officer asked that I take off my jacket.

As it turned out, all I had to do was unsnap the false panel. Even that revealed a little more of myself than I felt comfortable doing with a stranger, but I didn’t have to strip. Everyone was relatively nice.

Fast forward to 2006. I’d had a really bad business trip. The first leg of my flight had been delayed. The second leg was running late, too. Of course, I hadn’t had dinner and the one thing I wanted was outside security. So I went and grabbed dinner and came back. As I stood in line, which had gotten quite long, agents were walking along and pulling out about every 10th or 12th person. Apparently, I was whatever that lucky number was.

I got walked off from the crowd to be hand-wanded. But first, I had to remove my belt, my jewelry and of course, my shoes and put my computer into one of the tubs. They had three or four other people waiting to be wanded ahead of me so my carry-on, my computer, my jewelry and my shoes all came through the conveyor well ahead of me. There I was, sitting on a chair 20 feet away from the conveyor where my computer was teetering closer to the edge with each push of a tub. When it became obvious that one more push would send it to the floor, I slowly rose from my seat.

“Please sit down,” a friendly agent barked.

“May I please get my computer off the edge?” I asked politely. “It’s about to fall.”
“You’ll be done in a minute, just stay in your seat,” came the answer.

A huge carry-on was heading for the tub. It collided with my computer and, had I not already been halfway to it when I got the response, it would have hit the floor. It fell into my hands instead. The agent practically leaped over the conveyor. “I said …”
“Hey, this computer helps me make my living,” I said. “It may not mean much to you, but it means a hell of a lot to me.” I gently laid it on the empty table at the edge of the conveyor and returned to my seat. When it came time to get wanded, I “accidentally” got cracked in the head with the wand. Yeah. Accidentally.

I know that the TSA doesn’t make the rules. And I know that sometimes, they get a bad rap. But even if they did no wrong this time (and I think even their own tape would dispute that) it shines a light on a much greater problem. The rules are stupid. Their enforcement is arbitrary and the people who oversee this operation could use a refresher in people skills.

Back to the Grindstone

It feels strange to have spent an entire weekend the way that “normal” people – or the way that I imagine those who aren’t in the throes of remodeling projects – do.

After Saturday’s full day of adventures, I got to bed late. I got up early (considering how late I’d gone to bed) started doing those household things that we all do, taking care of the zoo, and then got ready to shop with the mother. Oh yes. We did. Finally.

She nearly has all of the Christmas shopping done. And this is late for her – she’s usually at this stage in the game in late August. Makes me sick. I've barely thought about what I need to do. In fact, I'm still struggling with getting a Halloween/birthday gift mailed! (Not helping is the fact that I now have all the contents ready, I just grabbed the wrong bag this morning to try and find an appropriate box to pack it in. Sigh.)

Any day that I get to go into a scrapbook store is a good one and yesterday qualifies. Logged a few minutes in Archiver’s and found some great, round plastic containers in their bargain bin that will help free up some space in one of my scrapping bags. I made that transition, using one of the new containers, last night and it worked great!

The weather was also gorgeous all weekend. It was cloudy and cool Saturday but it got sunny and climbed into the 50s. Yesterday was sunny and pleasant. And today? That starts a warm-up that will have as at or near 70 the next few days. YAY! I am SO excited. But, having the cold weather last week meant that the grass didn’t grow. That meant I didn’t have to mow over the weekend. Ahhhhh.

But the lag in activity was only temporary. I’m taking a few vacation days later in the week which means work will be busy the next few days and then I’ll be solidly busy with the house again. I have a date with a bathroom. Not one I’ve been looking forward to either, but one I hope that will put one gigantic slash through a major “to do” on my list.

It was an awfully nice break though!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Really Good Day

I had SO much fun yesterday! It is incapable of measurement or to convey how fully and completely it touched me.

Scrapbooking with the MonkeyGirl, her BFF, MamaMartha and Harriet was awesome. I don’t remember the last time all four of us (long-time veterans of the winter weekend odyssey that is Crop Camp) were together, but it’s always fun when it happens. And 2010 will mark 12 years of it. TWELVE! Wow.

And there is nothing that compares with gathering as many of my high school brethren as possible for our school’s annual trivia night. Of the eight of us, we usually average a healthy four. Fifty percent is not bad at all! Last night we had Mr. and Mrs. Monkeygirl, Mr. and Mrs. PB, Laura (sans her mister), PB’s sister, MonkeyGirl’s MEF, and me. We actually had FIVE graduates on hand as PB’s sister is an alumni, too.

Some of the questions were hard. Some of the questions we had a 50-50 shot at. Some questions we just didn’t answer (but didn’t get penalized for thanks to this year’s addition of mulligans). Other questions, someone at the table could answer right off. Still others required teamwork with someone starting the answer or giving credence to half of it – and someone else providing the rest.

We didn’t go home in winning position, but we didn’t do badly either. And yet, the PBs went home winners in a BIG way. During a silent auction (held in tandem with trivia) they scored a new family member: an adorable puppy! They were going back and forth all evening to make sure they had the high bid. And they were quite excited when, at evening’s end, they were declared the winners!

The big winners were the little PBs: 9-year-old triplets and their 13-year-old sister. Can’t wait to see what they name this little cutie and how excited and happy they are to have him. (And this was a puppy who was rescued from a Tupperware container in an alley, along with his siblings shortly afer birth. I'd say the puppy made out pretty well, too!)


Yeah. It was a really good day.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Play Date

Hmmmm ... Weekend plans that don't include This D*mn House. Write this down folks!

Pearl and I will soon be on our way to pick up the MonkeyGirl for a day of scrapbooking and a night of trivia. Later this morning, we'll be hangin' with Mama Martha and Harriet. And tonight, PB will be joining us for trivia. And maybe Laura. (Sadly, CD can't make it.)

It's kind of like bringing the blog into 3D but without all the projects. I am so psyched.

Now I have to get dressed and out the door! Have a great Saturday everyone. I know I'm going to.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What ‘They’ Had to Say

I read a lot of blogs. No, really, a LOT. If I tried to comment on all of them, all of the time, I would have no time to work (whereby I would not be able to pay my bills, or eat, vital to survival, and Internet access, which is just about as vital); would have no time to work on This D*mn House (and since I wouldn’t have any money, I couldn't do any projects so it would be a moot point anyway; not that I would have had time for my own blog, You get the idea.

But … as I’ve been reading, every once in a while, someone writes something that I either a) am deeply moved by b) am completely and uncontrollably amused by or c) am so in sync with that I find myself nodding (as if the writer could see it). So I thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be awesome if I shared some of these great lines with all of you?”

And so I did. And mind you, these are just some of them and just from the last month or so! I’ve linked directly to the blog post (rather than the site itself) that each excerpt came from so you can go and read it in all of its glory. Besides, if you aren’t reading these folks already, perhaps you should be. (And no, they aren’t all housebloggers either!)

*From Jen over at Casa de Lovely: “Nothing gets you feeling better about impending bills, permits and smelling like cat pee than destroying things with a hammer.”
*From Elaine at Bless This DIY Mess: “Just when we think we’re closing in on a kind of closure—a pretty little before-and-after diptych to post—instead, little tornadoes spring up all over the house.”
*From Liz at A Constructed Life: “Until I had a baby, I did not know that my neighbor across the street leaves for work at 4 a.m., that cable becomes almost 100 percent paid programming after 3 a.m. and that our daily newspaper arrives promptly at 5 a.m. every morning. I have watched numerous sunrises while holding my daughter and have yet to see a single one more magnificent than she is.”
*From Stacy Horn at Satan’s Fur Puppets: “I read though all of Toshi’s online diary yesterday and made myself cry. His death is hitting me harder now than it did at the time and it really upset me at the time. I saw sad then, but it feels inexcusably tragic and wrong now. I think I appreciate more how short a time we have to begin with and how much people who die young are gypped.”
*From Maggie at Okay.Fine.Dammit: “The last two winters are a black and heavy snowfall on my belly, not the clean redemption kind, not the fairy tale film kind, but rather the messy sludge, the suffocating sort, the deep, ugly freeze that holds me powerless with a predictability that makes me feel murderous.”
*From my MEF the MonkeyGirl at Chirping Monkeys: “No offense to the grandmas out there, but I figured I would be closer to retirement when I became a grandma and would be doing things like attending bus tours with my friends rather than hitting the local pubs and listening to alt rock.
*From KayO at Dear Dominik: “I drove six blocks to Dobbs - on a now REALLY flat tire. It sounded awful. I passed a couple of stadium groundskeepers in a golf cart and hollered out the window, "I know!" - lest they chase me down to tell the dumb broad that she had a flat.”
*From Brian at The Cheek of God: “Blogs like mine are the materials of solitude. And those of us who do this with no hope for immediate monetary gain become deliberately myopic, choosing not to focus on how far the words reach or on how broadly the ripples may spread, but instead are content with the nearness of the task at hand, the crafting of these invitations that we hang on our digital doorposts.”
*From Star at Star, Simplified: “A rubber mallet is good for things where a metal hammer would hit too hard or leave a mark. You can use it to pound stakes in, to force parts together and to break things apart. It would make a super weapon for either throwing or conking heads. Sometimes I just like to walk around swinging it because, if you have a rubber mallet in your hand, people aren’t going to mess with you! It gives me a macho sense of power.”
*From Vicki at NotSoSAHM: “There’s a difference though between the simple lines of modern furniture or getting rid of all your personal belongings down to 100 items (and that dude totally copped out) and living a truly simple life. … The only room in the house that is heated is the kitchen. They’ve been forced to have indoor plumbing (that right there would have sealed the deal for me. No indoor toilet? Vicki will not be Amish, thankyouverymuch).

This was too fun. Hope you thought so, too. You know I’ll have to do it again!

A Dose of Drama

Yesterday morning was cold and damp. (What else is new? This is fast becoming our new norm where weather is concerned.)

My bones were aching and I just did not want to get out of bed. I beat the bus to the station and was treated to a strong dose of alcohol and body odor – with a glaze of rain thrown in – courtesy of one of the passengers waiting for the bus going in the opposite direction. (Thank God for small favors.)

Pelted by rain, the acrid smell of the passenger still burning my nose, I lumbered onto the bus. It was warm for a change. This is good, I thought. My mood began to lift as I settled into my seat. It didn’t last long.

Instead of going across our detour bridge, which is essentially a straight shot, we had to divert even farther from our regular route to get ditched at the train station. Usually, I don’t mind the train. But, having this sprung on me, on a day when everybody and their brother was taking it, too, because of the closed bridge we normally use.

Sardines come to mind. We were jammed so tight just inside the door that standing up, I could barely get enough of a bar to grab a hold of. Like a Weeble, I wobbled – but I didn’t fall down.
At the second stop, a young black girl boarded. Hugely pregnant, she had poured herself into a bomber jacket. She did not look well. There were no seats. Oh, except the one where some bonehead had his bag sitting. On a train. Crowded to capacity. JERK! (Had I been able to reach him through the crowd, I so wanted to tell him this personally.)

Someone finally did give up their seat as the train lurched into motion. She half sat, half fell into it. Within seconds, she was writhing and moaning, clearly in the throes of a labor pain. She nearly fell into the floor. I heard someone ask, “Should we stop the train?” The response: “We’re beyond that. Get an ambulance.”

A woman standing next to her and just in front of the callbox began frantically pushing the button. The plan: have an ambulance dispatched to the next stop. My stop. I heard the woman introduce herself to the young girl and say she’d be there to help her. I assumed she was a nurse. (I later learned she actually works at a bank with one of my fellow bus passengers! I may even get to find out what the baby was.) Apparently, the young woman had been to the doctor the day before. Only 5 cm dilated, he sent her home. She decided that yesterday things were worse so she was taking the train to the hospital. Poor thing!

As I made my way back to the surface, I passed the young woman and her new entourage of women who were helping get her above where an ambulance would ultimately arrive. Man! There could have been an extra passenger on that train.

Once at work, my morning evolved into a cyberdrama leftover from Wednesday’s power outage. I was still unable to get email or use the Internet. I was among a dozen or so who had something on our computer docks that got fried. Luckily, I had a temporary connection until the part could be replaced late in the afternoon. Luckier still, it ended up being a productive day in spite of it all!

And, that gets us to Friday … YYYYIIIIPPPPPEEEEE! I groaned when the alarm went off but before I could even switch if off, one word drifted across my mind: Friday. *smiles*

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Striking Back: Kiss My Brass

The mother has a penchant for gold. Gold accents. Gold leaf. Polished brass accessories and fixtures. For the most part, I think I must be genetically predisposed to liking them.

A major departure lies ahead in the kitchen though where brushed nickel will be replacing the brass. (The brass does look weird with all that stainless steel in there.) It’s definitely the right choice, too.

But, in the bathroom, we’re not losing our brass shower door enclosure nor the porcelain/brass fixtures on the pedestal sink.

In fact, the new shower fixtures are a nice complement to the new white tub surround. (The old one was an almond/beige color.) And, the handle matches the sink's.



So I get mighty tired of hearing the design “experts” *sarcasm* automatically decry anything gold as “outdated.” And I’ve seen this happen a lot lately. And it has annoyed the hell out of me. (Obviously.)

What they have to understand is that some people like brass finishes. I’m not a huge fan of rubbed bronze but I’ve seen some rooms with faucets in that finish that I thought were quite pretty. Just because it's not what I'd pick, doesn't make it outdated. It’s all a matter of personal taste.

And, there are people like me who loathe shower curtains. I think they are just drapes for germs to hang out on. Not just the ones to catch the water, but also the decorative ones these experts seem so fond of hanging around the tub and allowing to puddle onto the floor. (Do you really want MATERIAL draped day after day on the floor in a bathroom? Not me.)
I nearly blew a vein when the mother wanted to put a black drape up in there. During the bathroom wallpaper stripping, I managed to rid it of the black curtain bar that was in there so I certainly hope we’re past that phase!

I happen to like our "outdated" brass-edged doors and enclosure. And not just for its looks; I find it more sanitary. I can spray foam cleaner on it. I can take the steamer to it. I can spritz it with Lysol. No shower curtain could withstand that for long and still keep looking good. And I happen to like our new fixtures. (Though I’ll like them a lot better when we get whatever replacement parts we need to make them work properly.)

The historic look of brass and the combo of brass and porcelain on the handles will provide a perfect “pop” for the black and white contrast the bathroom will ultimately sport.

Go ahead and think it’s outdated if you want. I don’t care.

So there, HGTV/DIY designers. You can kiss my brass!

What Can I Do? Here's 5 Things!

What can I do? I’m just one person. I can’t make a difference.

Luckily, there are events like Blog Action Day to illustrate what just one person from all around the globe can do – collectively. So, what is it? “The purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a discussion. We ask bloggers to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important issue. By doing so on the same day, the blogging community effectively changes the conversation on the web and focuses audiences around the globe on that issue. “ This year’s topic: climate change.

It’s about more than talking though. If we’re going to preserve what is rapidly becoming a fragile environment, we have to do something. And you know what? I think it starts at home.

Here are some things that you can do right away. Some of these won’t cost you a cent – in fact, a few will actually save you money. Others may require a little capital outlay initially, but the ROI is more than worth it.
1. Park the car. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for every 100 gallons of gas saved, one less ton of CO2 is emitted. Consider public transportation, carpooling, biking or walking instead. These options also reduce the number of cars on the road, limiting traffic backlogs that generate even more CO2 as they idle.
2. Shut it down. Not using your computer? Log off and out. Turn off lights when you leave a room. Unplug items like small appliances, game consoles and battery chargers when they’re inactive. Plugged in, these devices continue to sap energy even when they’re turned off.
3. Stop the flow. The EPA also says that up to 41 percent of indoor water use goes right down the toilet – literally. (Roughly 8 percent more water than is used for BATHING!) If you’re doing or considering a bath remodel, make a low-flush toilet a feature. Or, for an existing commode, you can also buy tank kits that help minimize water usage. Also, repair or replace leaky faucets. That drip, drip, drip can add up quick.
4. Show your support. Patronize companies who take environmental responsibility seriously. Snub those who don’t. Let them know it and why. They aren’t likely to change existing practices until it affects their bottom line. As consumers, if enough of us voice concern, we have the power to do that.
5. Think Energy Star. Looking at new appliances or need a new water heater? Look for the Energy Star compliant models. More efficient refrigerators, ranges, water heaters, dishwashers and dryers can pay for themselves in energy cost savings.

I know that all of these things are possible because, on some level, I do or have done them! So, what can just one person do?

That is up to you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In the Dark

Work was interesting this afternoon. Our entire building was without electricity for nearly two hours!

I was able to undock my laptop and continue working on a few things, but I had no Internet access, no email, and, after 50 minutes, no telephone.

The MonkeyGirl was kind enough to look online and see if this was the case anywhere but at our office. (Thanks to texting via cell phone. But my battery was low, too. D*mn! I’d meant to plug that in this morning.) Nope. Just us and maybe another adjacent building or two.

Right after I came to that conclusion, the building’s announcement system came on to tell us that it was a power company issue and they were working to correct it. No other explanation. No idea when to expect service to be restored. Perfect!

I’m among the lucky who have windows so I could stay in my office, though with our gray skies, there wasn’t even much natural light. There are emergency fluorescents in the middle of each floor, so those on the inside wall – without windows – at least had somewhere lit to congregate.
I also had one of those little squeeze lights handy so that you could get in and out of the restroom without killing yourself. (No lights at all in there!) I purposely stuck it in the back of my desk drawer after the last power outage. It got some use today.

When we were about 10-15 minutes from being sent home for the day, the power came back on. About 10 minutes after that, the phones came back up. But, we were unable to use our computer network for the rest of the day. No email. No Internet. No file access.

This was still the case when I left for the day. Fun times. At least I wasn’t on deadline for anything, but I do have things that need to get done just the same. Oh well.

To borrow Scarlett’s line, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Torn Between Two Ladders

Wait. I’m sure that’s a song. Torn between two ladders, feelin’ like a fool. I’d buy both of you, but I couldn’t store the two …

Or something like that.

I’ve been looking longingly at ladders (say that five times fast; dare ya!) for some time. The mother and I pretty much settled on the Werner line of telescoping ones because of the many things it could be used for both indoors (for the hallway to Heaven inside the backdoor) and out (think gutters, carport roof, etc.) It would mean we wouldn’t have to forever be borrowing from the neighbors’ collection of varying heights.

The mother was so sold on it she was going to surprise me with one for my birthday – but they didn’t have any in the store. Then we got busy with other things and forgot about it.

Supposedly, these things fold down small enough that they don’t take up any more room than our standard six-footer. Well, Amazon had to relight that fire by sending me an email directing me to their home and tools section. (D*mn them!) But, it looks like Home Depot might even have a better deal. And I could get it delivered free, no hassle to get it home!

That’s not where I’m torn. I can’t decide whether I should get the 17’ or the 22’ version. That doesn’t seem like a big jump, and the price difference is only about $30 yet it’s almost a whole “me’s” worth of difference. It seems like there’s a good mix of reviews on both sizes out there, so either one would likely do the job.

Considering our storage issues (the 8x10 shed that doesn’t have a lot of open floor space) I’m thinking less is more. Or, at the very least, enough.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

‘Pimped’ – The Final Episode

In all the chaos that was Project Genesis, I realize I never did share with you the right proper pimpin’ that Lawrence did to literally top off all my work on the storage shed. So, without further ado, here’s another (and hopefully final) installment of “Pimp My Shed.”

We’ll start off with a recap. You may recall the saga of the storage shed that started last fall. I managed to get the inside shored up with new framing and plywood walls and did the same thing for the outside rear of the structure. We even got the backside painted. But then that’s where work stopped. Until this spring.

I spent some vacation time siding the outer walls. (Thanks to my fab friends CD and the MonkeyGirl, I was able to bring home most of the PVC vinyl boards I needed to complete the residing job.) This is what the shed looked like back in April.

Then, I got it to this point – completely sided – and the mother came behind me and painted. After that, I added the trim. (Crappy, but it’s white, it’s fastened, and it keeps the water away from the trim gaps!) That was at the end of July.

Then, while I was up to my eyeballs with Genesis, I had Lawrence apply the finishing touches – the special order vinyl scallop siding is now all used. We had just enough! (This matches the scallops on the front of the house – over the porch – and on both sides. That's the job these few sheets were left from.)


And there you have it, my completely pimped-out shed. It’s still a little rough (Lawrence did a lousy caulk job) and I have some screwheads to paint over, but … it’s done! You know, I think this is going on my list of projects to enter in that contest!

Are We There Yet?

I did make it home last night but today – since it’s not a holiday – will be the true test of how this temporary route will work.

There are several new riders this morning and all but one of the regulars. It’s a pretty good crowd going on this adventure. Yesterday, we had a brief snarl on the interstate but other than that, we glided on through. Much better than the round-about way we go under ordinary circumstances.

You’d think that the route that has the shortest distance AND that spends the least amount of time in traffic would be the route of choice. It would seem it would use less gas and put less wear and tear on the bus, thereby saving money. Apparently, the transit district doesn’t see it that way. Good thing I’m not driving the bus, huh?

I need to see about rounding out the rest of my vacation for the year. I usually take the day after Christmas every year but since it falls on a Saturday this year, that’s not necessary. Think I’ll take that Monday instead. I either have five or six days left. It would be great to take a pair of them this month since we’re supposed to warm up again (between 60 and 70) after this weekend. That would give me some nice weather to paint and cut boards outside!

And I need to do both to finish the bathroom, and the mother will want to clean and paint Ladybird, so I sure hope the National Weather Service is right.

It would be nice to hit “normal” temps for this time of year again! Keep the 40s and 50s until next month ... at least.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Buy Me!

The weekend wasn’t a complete waste of time and effort: I bought a pumpkin!

I couldn’t stand it. While I was out shopping Saturday, this one SCREAMED at me. I’d walked past quite a few displays in the past couple weeks but this one practically reached out and grabbed me. So into the cart and then into the trunk it went.

I don’t know whether I’ll have the proper venue in which to carve it (also known as Bridget’s annual Pumpkins and Powertools party), but I figured that even if not, it can hang around through autumn. So, B., what's the verdict?

Trouble was that thing was COATED with dirt. I managed to knock a good chunk of it off in the box it came out of and even scraped a bit more of before I got to the car. Since I had Pearl, I even wrapped it in plastic. No way was THAT going uncovered into my pristine trunk! It’s a good thing I hadn’t yet drained the hose (and still haven’t; probably in the next week though). I sprayed it down yesterday and let it dry in the sun.

While it only got into the 50s, it was sunny and there wasn’t much wind. Overall, it was quite comfortable. So, in sweats, flip flops and a hoodie, I managed to wash Pearl, clean off the pumpkin, clear some stuff out of the shed and started to sand a few more of the kitchen cabinet doors.

I had time to do this yesterday since the mother decided not to go shopping after all. (The cool, damp weather has really been affecting her and not in a good way. Add to that, her friend who lived about a mile down the road, the one I could rely on to get her out of the house from time to time, just moved to South Carolina last week. I think the latter rather than the former is responsible for most of her discomfort.)

I also managed to pick up a few d*mn leaves. (Which reminds me. My dear friend CD sent this great column in Newsweek to me the other day. It made me belly laugh.) And I carted off Saturday’s clippings to the dump.

I even had a chance to backtrack through some of the past year’s projects and match them against categories in the Repair-Home.com project contest offering up 17 different categories. My porch and walkway – which you’re probably getting tired of hearing about and seeing – are currently their Featured Project of the Week! So, it’s already in the running. (Yeah, I know. I’m doing it again, so quickly after going down in flames in my last attempt.)

I’m even mulling over what other categories I can enter in, especially if I can get a few other projects (like the bathroom and the cabinets) done in the next few weeks. With all the crap that goes on and has gone on around here in just the past year or so, I’m bound to have something that could win one of them, right?

Check it out, you might want to enter, too. Each category will have a winner of a $100 Home Depot gift card and a grand prize winner (chosen from five overall projects) wins $1,000. Good luck!

It's SO Monday

The bus driver just asked us – the lone three passengers on this dreary banking holiday – which bridge we’re supposed to cross. Um, which one of us is driving the bus? Scaaaaary.

That query is due to two factors. First, this is a driver who does not drive this route regularly. (In fact, I’ve never seen her before.) Second, today is the first day of closure for the MLK Bridge. Because drunks and speeders can’t manage to not kill themselves and/or others on that bridge, the state has seen fit to CLOSE a lane of traffic. While they do that, the bridge itself will be closed for at least the next 12 days.

Lovely as this forever alters my commute. Getting to work will now be quite interesting.
While we’re supposed to be taking my beloved McKinley Bridge, something I don’t know why they don’t do anyway, Interstate 70 is apparently jammed there today so it’s pretty much a crapshoot as to how we’ll get there. Or if we’ll get there.

So, if you don’t see any more posts for a while, start looking for the big green bus that is either stuck in traffic or driving around aimlessly. Chances are good I’ll be on it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Basics

When the going gets tough, the tough ... go shopping.

Yes, that's right. Preparing to go shopping with the mother. So, all I've managed to do this weekend is get the yard cut and trimmed (trimmed for the LAST TIME this year, thankyouverymuch). And I went household shopping.

Now the mother wants to go shopping. Mind you, I really should be doing something with that bathroom. But, I did push yesterday. Hard, too, considering how bad my left forearm and hand were hurting. On part of my household detail yesterday, I bought a pack of heat wraps and some heat patches. Niiiiiiiice. Doesn't make it go away, but certainly helps a lot.

So, another weekend with little done.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Anti-Nap Conspirators

Ozzie did not hear his archnemesis, the mailman. My baby is getting old. Sigh.

It's cool (just beyond 50) but the sun is out and there's little wind so I shall soon go out and confront two of my most hated things: the weed-eater and the lawnmower. I'd rather go take a nap.

I got up early with the kitten to find that the mother had things well under control. I decided to go back to bed for a few hours. While I stayed in bed for about 2.5 hours, I ultimately slept less than an hour thanks to:
- the mother communicating with Toby and the kitten
- the kitten getting rowdy on the other side of my wall
- Ozzie trying to push me from my own bed
- the neighbor repeatedly revving the engine on his roadster and later, his motorcyle
- another neighbor's dog, who was clearly in OUR yard feet from my window, barking his a** off
- kids on the corner screaming at glass-shattering levels.

The irony is that now that I'm fully awake and have been busy doing things the past few hours, the mother, the kitten, Toby and Ozzie ARE ALL ASLEEP! And the neighbors? Nary a sound.

So, once my work is done, and assuming that the shower cooperates enough to successfully clean me, maybe I'll go after that nap again.

Friday, October 9, 2009

lt's Never That Easy

I should have known when I got a really fast response to my query on the bathroom tub/shower faucet that things wouldn't be as easy as they seemed.

To their credit, Van Dyke's Restorers, where we bought the faucet and many, many other things through the years, were great. Initially, they said they would send me a similar unit to use for parts as they apparently no longer stock the exact same item. Great!

Then, I get an email saying they don't have anything they can send me. But they did refer me to the manufacturer, provided me warranty information and the model number of my purchased faucet. That was very helpful as I think our paperwork accidentally got tossed during the chaos of the marathon tub surround installation back in July.

The good news is I now have the schematic for the faucet kit so we can use that to determine what part we'll need to replace. The bad news is that Lawrence is on hiatus for a few more weeks at least. Ugh.

So far though, with some careful prodding, the shower has been semi-cooperative. (We're getting hot water and a steady stream but the pressure is down because about a third of the water escapes through the faucet. I can cope with this. For a while.

Cross your fingers.

It’s Not OK

If someone broke into your home, intent on hurting you or your family, you’d defend yourself, right? But for millions of people all over the world, this sense of self-protection isn’t there.

That’s because the person inflicting or threatening the harm didn’t break in – they have a key. They live there. And their intended victims are their spouses, girlfriends, children, sometimes even their parents. Don't think it doesn't happen in your tight-knit circle. Statistics are grim and show that 1 in every 4 women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime.

I’m writing this because October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, I implore you to get help for yourself or for them. Get out. Get the life you deserve. Believe me, though it's not easy to do, I know it can be done.

Because – as the badge for Violence UnSilenced here on my page says – home should always be safe. VU, a site dedicated to helping those who have suffered violence in its many forms, started earlier this year. MaggieDammit, who is a powerful and beautiful writer, and an abuse survivor, got the ball rolling giving a voice to those who’ve seen the dark side of domestic abuse and either have left it behind them or are trying to.

The idea is that not only is this speaking up and speaking out cathartic for those who share their stories, but that those who are in these relationships might see a glimmer of themselves there — and know that it’s possible to get out.

I know of what I speak. I saw this played out regularly as a kid. As an adult, I’ve seen how it severely influenced decisions I’ve made and how I repeatedly put myself into less obvious abusive scenarios (as in I was never hit). Unfortunately, it took several years for me to recognize this but the good news is that I did see it for what it was.

Domestic violence at its worst can be a death sentence for those who are trapped in it. On average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day. Every day. Still think this isn't an important issue?

Domestic violence can be a perpetual curse unless the cycle is broken. Children who are abused or witness abuse can grow up to be abusers or victims. This is what they grew up with. This defines “normal” for them. And that violence doesn’t always have to be physical – it can be verbal or emotional, too. That’s one of its most insidious forms because victims seem to lessen the severity because they have no bruises, no cuts, no broken bones.

This happens but somehow it’s always “OK.”

Well guess what? It’s NOT OK. Ever. Read this great interview that Maggie did earlier this week that talks about how, slowly, the shame and taboo surrounding this issue are lifting.

Someday, maybe sites like VU won’t have to exist. In the meantime, I’m glad to know it’s there.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Diagnosing "DIY Overload"

Not that any of this applies to me, but you might be in DIY overload if:

  • Most of your shoes collectively bear more color samples than the average hardware store paint department.
  • The grand opening of a Lowe’s is huge news around your house. HUGE!
  • You discover that the kitten’s favorite new play toy is a self-drilling screw she found on the floor.
  • Your kitchen cabinets hold very little food – but grout, caulk and construction adhesive are there in abundance.
  • The expiration of an unused big box hardware store coupon can induce tears.
  • Plastic, a blanket and the legally-required red flag live in your car trunk. Just in case …
  • Your favorite holiday or birthday gift is a Home Depot gift card.
  • The best piece of literature you read all week was a Harbor Freight flyer.
  • You tell time by: “The hardware store opens/closes in x hours.”
  • You let a gym membership lapse because 50-pound bags of concrete are enough of a work-out.
  • Higher education consists of in-store “how-to” lessons.
  • Your latest fashion statements are latex gloves – in COLORS!
  • Hearing “If I Had a Hammer” evokes feelings of patriotism.

A Wet, Whiny Wimp

Note to self: replenish sock supply.

Today’s weather is a carbon copy of Tuesday’s, except it’s a bit colder (low 50s versus low 60s). I’m pretty sure I have some dry brown socks tucked away. (I used the black pair on Tuesday.) I’m not nearly as wet though, which is a good thing.

I woke in the night (courtesy of pouring rain and a growling dog) in pain. Imagine the worst toothache you’ve ever had. Now, transfer that pain to a bone in your body. Yeah. That’s how my left hand (from fingers to elbow) feels today. It doesn’t get this way very often but when it does …OUCH! I had a very hard time going back to sleep and an even more difficult one getting up once I did.

As a kid, I broke that arm about six times (give or take) and once in two places. My doctor (who cared for me starting with the second break at age 7 until his retirement when I was 27) told me for years that he didn’t think I’d have much use of that side past age 30. Fooled him, huh?

I used anti-inflammatories for several years but they ate my stomach up so bad I had to stop taking them. All these years later, I’m wary of starting again. (Have you heard the commercials for some of this sh*t? They might as well just market it as “designed to kill you.” We have a family friend who is having health issues now courtesy of one of the drugs I took briefly. I’m glad I stopped.)

So, it’s just plain old ibuprofen this morning. That is bad enough for you, but I try not to take it very often. Hoping it will at least take the edge off.

I’m a lousy typist at best and with an almost non-functioning hand, it’s even worse. It’s taking longer to correct my mistakes than to write this. Wimp! I’ll quit whining for now.

Wishing you all safe and dry.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The 50/50 Shower Situation

It was nearly midnight and all I wanted to do was take a shower and go to bed. Apparently, that was too much to ask for.

Our shower faucet has only been in place a few months, part of the effort that was the disaster of replacing both them and our old tub surround. Even from day one, the handle on this "anti-scald tub and shower faucet" has been difficult to turn. It required adjustment – which Lawrence did -- so that we could even get HOT water. (Everything to that point was lukewarm at best. Not ideal to shower by.) One handle controls both hot and cold so you're pretty much stuck dealing with it.

Things were OK after that -- for a few weeks.

Now, the handle is completely out of whack (continues to run when you turn to off. you have to carefully edge to a certain spot to make it stop.); the diverter will NOT turn on the shower most of the time. In fact, more water usually comes out of the faucet than the showerhead when it DOES manage to work. This was what happened to me the other night. After about 20 minutes of fiddling with the diverter and getting varying levels of water to stream from the showerhead, I gave up. I lathered up and rinsed off with what water I could get.

What sucks is that I had Lawrence look at it last Tuesday when he was here and while the handle was tight, the shower came on fine. He said he didn’t see anything wrong with it. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

I did manage to get it to work for the mother and then I had to get up and make sure it was turned off as she left it in a position where it continued to drip. That will get old fast. Very fast.

The faucet doesn’t appear to have any markings and though I found the order confirmation in my email, it doesn’t bear a brand name either. And, to further complicate things, the item number listed on the order sheet no longer exists in the seller’s current online catalog, though one with a slightly different number and handle do remain available. I’ve emailed them to see what info they can provide me with.

I also downloaded the schematic of a Delta model that looks eerily similar to ours so I can try to understand the terminology I’m reading in some responses given to people voicing similar problems online. I don’t think that getting a hot shower at the end of a long day is asking for a lot.

I guess we’ll see. Anyone had a similar experience?

Fallin'

It’s very brisk today (low 40s) and my bones are absorbing the cold. Brrrr. The chill on the bus isn’t helping. I feel like a much heavier jacket is in order than what I’ve been wearing. Thank God it wasn’t like this yesterday! (Pouring down rain, but nearly 20 degrees warmer.)

Is it any wonder that so many people are sick? One day, you need the A/C. The next, you need the furnace. Speaking of which, if you haven’t thought about it lately, this might be a good time to change your furnace filter.

I just changed ours over the weekend. Our furnace is currently set up to run a time or two early in the morning and overnight if needed. Seems awfully early, I know, but we’re having quite the run of below average temperatures.

The positive note is that those temps are finally affecting the lawn. You may recall I decadently neglected to mow over the weekend and yet the yard only looks a bit tall, not scraggly the way it usually does in just under a week.

It’s only going to hit about 60 over the weekend and I really need to weed eat one last time this year. Ugh. And I probably should fertilize the lawn, too. 'Tis the season and all that crap.

I also need to start thinking about draining and storing the hose. I think I saw that Monday night we’re supposed to be flirting with freezing. Nice.

Man, I seriously need to live in warmer climes. A child who was born on a day when the temperature was 100 degrees was not cut out to survive below 50 degrees! C’mon Powerball.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

D*mn, I'm Lucky!

Voting in the One Project Closer Before & After Contest continues in earnest. It will go through Friday.

So, am I lucky enough to be leading the charge? Hardly. The vote counts are starting to get a little nuts and I'm getting passed up left and right. In just the first two days there have been one dog fight after another and surprise votes appearing out of nowhere. It will be fun to see how it all shakes out.

But even I'm smart enough to see that it's well beyond my reach. And I'm OK with that. I knew going in that the competition was fierce. I'm still proud as hell of my project, even if it manages to come in dead last.

Why then am I lucky?

I'm lucky because I have enough people in my life (virtually and in real-time) that I could ask do something ... and they did it, in short order. (I managed to get my first hundred votes yesterday.) I'm lucky because even people who didn't vote for me have made their way to the blog. Some of them are even staying by subscribing to the feed or becoming a follower. Some have even left comments.

Some of the people whose help I enlisted, people I see on a regular basis but just don't talk to a whole lot, sent me the nicest e-mails sharing their own DIY experiences and marveling at some of the projects around This D*mn House. I learned something about them -- they learned a lot about me -- and hopefully that was as good a thing for them as it has been for me.

While I won't be declaring victory as the number one contestant, you can d*mn well bet I'm declaring myself a winner. And I got something better than the prize that was up for grabs.

Thanks, everyone. You guys are the greatest!

Slogged

I think I have dry socks in my bottom desk drawer. I’m usually good about keeping things like that on hand. Today I could really use them.

Thunderous rain awakened me sometime during the night Ozzie growled and came to the edge of the bed to be picked up. He fidgeted and continued growling and after some initial tossing and turning, I fell back to sleep.

When I got up hours later, it wasn’t doing anything. But about 15 minutes before I left, another thunderstorm , complete with a light show, rolled through. It kicked into high gear just as I closed the door behind me. Perfect – on a day when I didn’t want to get out of bed anyway!
The good news is that it’s much warmer this morning than it’’s been or it would be beyond miserable.

After an occasionally harrowing drive cross town, here I sit, sleepy and water-logged …. And hopin’ for a dry pair of socks.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dreams

Maybe it was the full moon that faced me high in the sky when I opened the back door to cart out the last of the trash this morning. Maybe it was waking to find the television tuned to an exploration of the Titanic. Or maybe it’s just waking from hours of dreams I can’t remember on a Monday morning, a day that usually finds me moody already.

Whatever it was, it all collectively got me thinking about dreams. Initially, about the dreams of the Titanic’s third-class passengers, many of whom were filled with dreams of a new, better life in America. Dreams that would end abruptly and tragically at the bottom of an ocean almost a century ago.

Then, there’s the American Dream. If you have a job and a home, we’re living it, people! It’s something almost too precious for words. Some of us know the stories behind our homes and my hat’s off to those of you who are digging in search of it. For many of those early occupants, our homes literally were the stuff their dreams were made of.

If you built your home, then you’ve realized a dream. You can appreciate what a true achievement it is.

Far too many people in this world, however, will not only never own a home, they don’t have a roof over their head today. And likely won’t tomorrow. Next week. Next year.

That’s what tomorrow is all about. It’s World Habitat Day and the goal is to bring awareness to the problem of homelessness.

I encourage you to visit the site, write your own post and DO something. Make a donation to a homeless shelter. Sign up as a volunteer. Whatever you do, you’ll help someone get a little bit closer to a dream called home.

HELP!!!

A few months ago, I entered The One Project Closer Before and After Contest. I won the weekly prize. (I finally got to enter the porch and walkway that I didn’t finish until last year’s contest had ended.) Starting today though I’m in the running for a grand prize versus all the other weekly winners from this year’s event. And that’s saying a lot. WOW!

That’s where you come in – and where I need your help. Could you please visit them here and vote for me? I’m up against some considerable competition, including my good blogger buddy Why S? from The House on Red Hill. So if you can’t vote for me, vote for her!

It looks like you can only vote once (doesn’t appear this is a daily voting option) so if you could pass this along to some of our other friends, I’d really, really appreciate it.
And even if I don’t win, you know I’ll be back next year to enter that kitchen and bathroom! To steal the old Bartles and Jaymes line: “Thank you for your support.”

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Something Got Done!

I haven't been a completely lifeless blob this weekend. Close, but not completely.

Remember how the grocery store was on yesterday's list? Yeah, well, I was going to go last night, but I would have had to be able to get up to get the prybar that it would have taken to remove my a** from the sofa. So, I opted to horizontally commune with furniture instead.

Today, I did the running, came home, put things away, and then got outside to the job I put off yesterday: mortaring bricks under the column base and then filling in the gaps with driveway patch. Fun stuff!

In a totally decadent move, I did NOT mow the lawn. I didn't even do a full wash of Pearl either. (I know. Shudder.) She really wasn't dirty. Instead I wiped her down with this detailing spray that Meguiar makes for use between waxes. Ah, there's my shiny girl!

Not a whole lot to cross off the list. But at least something got done.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Response

UPDATE: I've corrected my gender faux pas thanks to your tips! *blushing in a not good way* Apologies to the late Mr. Kilmer. Make that Sgt. Kilmer who was KIA in World War I.

It was cool and overcast today. In addition to being sore and tired. Not much motivation to go outside and do the job I'd intended. So I slept and lounged instead.

My only productive activities for today will be feeding the animals and going to the grocery store. Yeah, not much. Unless you count creative activity.

I was whining about leaves yesterday. My dear friend PB took me to task and left me a comment with Joyce Kilmer's classic tree poem. I decided to offer a response of my own. One longer than a comment style. I'll even throw in a pic of the two saplings I mentioned yesterday, one of which already shed its leaves. (I picked those up with the mower last weekend.)



Now, for my response.

I know that I shall never see
The full beauty of what is a tree.
A tree whose leaves do fill my yard
Removal from the rocks is hard!
A tree that winds do clear all day
And blow its billion leaves my way
A tree that may in Summer fall
When stricken with a lightning ball.
And then with extra force could hurl
Itself upon my precious Pearl.
And neighbors with their power blowers
Send me what escapes their mowers.
So leaves are raked by fools like me
Joyce Kilmer can just stuff his tree.

Deepy Sleepy

Ahhh ... I officially made it through the week! In addition to my paycheck, I have earned the right to sleep in.

It's going to be very cool in the morning, so for the job at hand -- finishing out the newly excavated driveway surface that gave us access to the columns in the carport --starting later in the day will be a good thing. And there's the added bonus that I can sneak in a few extra hours of ZZZZZZs, ideally to continue to chip away at the deficit I created earlier in the week.

The mother and I went shopping tonight. We had some birthday gifts to get and some house stuff to look at and buy. Came home with appropriate gifts -- and 12 bricks, a bucket of driveway patch, two tubes of driveway crack filler and a thing of grout. (I hope the mother doesn't mistakenly wrap any of those up. Can you imagine the look on the recipients' face?)

So now that I've done all this talking about sleepin' in, I've really built it up in my head and psyched myself out. Maybe it's time I gave it a try. Nite, nite ...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Leaf Me Alone

I think it’s colder on the bus than it is outside! I’m not sure what Slappy has going on with the thermostat but I think a little heat may be in order. (And I was just thinking before I got on the bus that it was brisk, but not as cold today.)

The trees are still so green and vibrant. My grass still grows at a fairly alarming rate. The cooler temperatures don’t seem to have affected the vegetation. Yet.

That brings me to the thing I hate most about autumn: Leaves. You see, we have NO trees. A lot of shrubs, but NO trees. And every year at this time I seem to begin the never ending task of removing everyone else’s leaves from my yard and landscaping. Bag after bag after bag of them.

My neighbors cut down the two trees in their small front yard shortly after they moved in. A few years ago, they replanted saplings. This year, the twin trees are just sturdy and tall enough to throw leaves all over the place. They’re already making their way from the neighbors’ yard to ours. If I hate mowing, I hate leaves more. A lot more.

One night in the last week or so, House Hunters has an episode where a couple went outside to view a lovely, open lot behind what was a very nice house. The yard was completely covered in leaves. I gasped. I didn’t care how nice the house was. I wouldn’t know. I’d have already been back in the car after glimpsing that yard.

I like trees. I really do. I just wish they didn’t shed so much.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Validation

Every once in a while I see something that really makes me think. Remember in my “10 Things” yesterday, one of my “honest scraps” was that while life isn’t fair, it really is what you make it? Well, what if you could make it better – maybe even just a little bit – for one person at a time?

Yeah, it’s aspirational and corny and maybe even a little hokey. But so what? With the world in the state it’s in, I can’t think of a better time to give it a try. How could it hurt?

O.K. So back to what I saw.

Kspin has issued this interesting challenge: Send a message of encouragement, love, admiration or anything positive to “validate” one person every day in an effort she is calling Project Free Parking. She spells it all out here. Make sure you watch the video that inspired this. (It’s in her post.) It’s long and at times a little silly, but it made me laugh more than once. If you’ve had a bad day, DEFINITELY watch this!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a parking attendant like that? C’mon. You know it would. Go forth and be that parking attendant. You can do it because you’re great. You’re awesome.

And you’ve got really nice cheekbones.

On Hiatus

It’s cool this morning and damp, not cold like yesterday (mid 50s vs. upper 40s). And the sun isn’t even up yet. Not that you could really tell if it was, the cloud cover is so thick.

It’s supposed to be rainy today and it was sprinkling a bit when I walked out of the door. For Lawrence’s sake, I hope it isn’t a downpour. He’s looking forward to taking out his boat and doing some fishing for a few days, a little “last hurrah" to the season.

And so, the at least a month-long Lawrence hiatus begins today. He’s planning to fish, then he and his wife are visiting someone and then she is having surgery when they get back. He’s going to call me when he’s ready to roll again.

Even so, he won’t be completely without work for This D*mn House. Before he left, he loaded up the boards I bought that will make up the frames of the new faces on the kitchen drawers. (Some kind of dado bit on his table router will make the edge we need. I'm router-illiterate so I have no idea how this works.) Pretty cool, huh?

We may get severe storms later and they even said the dreaded “h” word last night (hail). It was almost as if the mother was reading my mind. “If it looks like it is going to get real bad and hail, we can always take (Pearl) over to Uncle Bill’s,” she says, literally taking the words out of my mouth.

Yes, my late uncle’s garage is car-free now as they sold his car two weeks ago. We have a door opener to it because the garage has been the mother’s base of operations while she’s been helping out over there painting and cleaning and trying to do some cosmetics to get it ready to sell.

The good news is that, at least for now, they’ve taken rain out of the weekend forecast until Sunday night. Works for me. That means I can do the bit of cosmetic work that needs to be done out in the carport. I need to start making a list of things I’ll have to pick up beforehand.