Monday, November 30, 2009

One Rung At a Time

After all this inertia where the house is concerned, I finally did something. I bought a ladder.

Merry Christmas to me! I ended up going with the 17’ Werner telescoping variety that I was mulling several weeks ago. Amazon had to torture me with a Cyber Monday ad and among the offerings was that little beauty – at $125.99. That’s cheaper than either Lowe’s or Home Depot (and Home Depot had it for $130 at one point). But, I don’t think I could have gotten it any cheaper considering that shipping (+$30) is free and there’s no tax. I think I got a pretty good deal.

Not that I plan to be using it anytime soon (we’re about to get our first taste of true winter weather a little later this week), but it will ship next week. So, we’re pretty much free to tackle the hallway (with the ceiling in the sky) at will. Of course, there’s always the bathroom and kitchen to finish first.

Which reminds me: I need to call Lawrence. We need to get those drawer fronts going and I have got to get him to change that dimmer switch in the dining room. (Yeah, I’m a chicken. I got as far as taking the switchplate off before I said, “Aw, the hell with it.”)

The Mother Makes Merry

For someone who doesn't get excited about Christmas, who mostly just tolerates the season, the mother does get into gift-wrapping.

I guess we'll just chalk it up to her own personal way of making merry. She spent a lot of time over the weekend wrapping presents. Here's a few of her creations.

She makes all her own bows, too. Me? Yeah, I missed out on that gene big time! I have a hard enough time tying a bow, much less making one! And if you get something from me that's actually in real gift wrap, not just covered with tissue, write it down. It might not happen again for a long, long time!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Too Much Turkey?

Clearly, I'm not the only one at This D*mn House feeling the effects of a self-induced food coma.

Four Days Go Quick

I can hardly believe it's Sunday evening already. Wasn't it Wednesday afternoon like five minutes ago?

Yesterday shouldn't count. I haven't mentioned that I managed to catch the mother's cold and I was miserable yesterday after days of hacking and sneezing. I feel a little better today thankfully. But it was gorgeous yesterday (OVER 70!) and I didn't even get out of my pajamas, all day. That's why I was so quiet yesterday. Sucks.

It was over 60 today, which was good. I did some more running around. Crowds had thinned a little over Friday's throngs but not by much. And I've started trying to sort out my own little collection of Christmas presents. Got a few wrapped, bagged and tagged.

The mother is zipping from one end of the room to the other in front of me, sorting out all of our family's stuff. This place looks like Santa's sled crashed in the dining room. I swear it.

Hoping we can get decorations up next weekend. That would be nice.

At some point tonight, I hope to check in to Google Reader again. I'm sure there are an obscene amount of posts waiting for me ...

Friday, November 27, 2009

What's Your Sign?

One of the bargains I picked up on today in abundance was throw blankets.

For our charity program at work, we have more than a dozen seniors and several of the requests for them have been for these personal-sized blankets. I managed to snag five of them this morning at the princely sum of $4 each. (By this evening, they were still on sale but at $6 each.)

I picked up a few other gifts that I knew were requested, some for kids, some for adults. So it was good to turn around and take the money that I'd just saved on one purchase and spend it on something else.

Really looking forward to officially kicking off the program this week.

So, what's your sign. This is mine:

Adventures in Shopping

I got up and got dressed. The mother did the same. We were out the door.

It was 3:20. A.M. It was dark. And it was cold.

We made our way to the back of the line. There were at least 100 people in front of us. Before they opened the doors -- at just after 4 a.m. -- there were at least that many more behind us.

Inside, it was hot, jammed and bustling. I slipped off my coat but the heavy sweater I'd worn beneath it was too much even. Eventually, though it was 30-something outside, I think they had to turn on the air-conditioning. We hurried through the store and it was tough to navigate armed only with mesh bags. (Carts were long gone.)

We wrapped up the shopping or at least I did and staked out a spot at the end of the a seemingly endless line. I stood in place for what seemed like forever while the mother would show up occasionally to drop more items at my feet.

I finally felt cool enough and the line began to move. The mother went to sit up at the front of the store. I scooted, dragged and kicked our purchases along the line. I even did a little more shopping while I was in line. My receipt says I saved $293 and some change. I think it's probably closer to half that, but still, not bad at all. Between a gift card and a 15 percent discount card I put $66 on my debit. BOOYAH!

This was only our first stop. We would hit four more stores and grab breakfast before heading home with a solidly-packed trunk. Once there -- at 9 a.m. -- we got settled in and then crashed.

This is a sampling of the day's finds.

We did a return trip this evening to stores in another town. The stores weren't nearly so crowded this time and we found all but one thing we were looking for. Except for a few things I might need for the charity program at work, my shopping is DONE for the holidays. YAY!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Maiden Voyage

So ... I got the stove to work! I had to run it for about 45 minutes to let it do a "burn off." And I found the manual. Lucky because what I printed out would not have helped me that much.

And then it was time to get out my pie crust shields.

If you don't own these -- and you bake -- you should. They are marvelous.

I think it came out pretty well. Whaddya think?

I swear right now I am so full I may never eat again, but then ...

Right now though I am grabbing a shower and a few hours of zzzs so I can go shopping! Yes, I'm one of those.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

There will be a lot of posts like this out there and yet none of them will be the same. Each of them will have a different story, a different perspective, a different deeper meaning behind them.

I'm thankful (in no particular order):

*To be gainfully employed at a time when so many others are not. And to have a job that (at least most days) I really love at a company that, for all its faults, is one of the best things going.

*To have friends that know me and still love me anyway. I've still never figured this one out and that probably makes me even more grateful for their constant compassion, companionship and camaraderie. There aren't words to adequately convey this.

*To have a family, small though it may be, who love me and aren't a bit shy about telling me things I need but don't want to hear. Their unwaveing support has given me more than I can ever hope to repay.

*To know the love of animals. Unconditional love in its truest form.

*To not be challenged by anything more serious than the occasional sinus or ear infection when it comes to health issues. I can walk. I can run. I can lift and carry more than half my weight. So many people cannot.

*To have a home -- and own it outright -- in one of the best countries going.

*To be free to marry -- or not -- as I see fit. In some cultures, I could be banished or even killed for this.

*And finally, that Al Gore invented the Internet (or Internets as Dubya liked to call it) so that I can share these thoughts with you. And that, for whatever reason, you keep coming back to hear me do it!

I am truly blessed on so many levels.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May your list be just as long and your table full both with love and kinship of those near and dear and a feast fit for a king.

Ready. Set. BAKE!

What did people ever do before the Internet? I know what we might be doing without it: no pumpkin pie, no roasted turkey. For days now, we've looked EVERYWHERE for the manual.

Granted, some of it seems pretty self-explanatory. But, this newfangled gadget has all kinds of features that I don't even have a clue how to use. With the rest of the kitchen pretty well torn up, we've not really worried all that much about trying to cook. But with Thanksgiving, the Super Bowl of eating, how can you get around it? Well, since this is the holiday where we don't travel all over God's green earth, there is no way around it.

Learn to operate the d*mn thing. Or starve. And with a ginormous bird thawing in the fridge as we speak, starving is NOT an option.

While I didn't find the exact manual for our new stove, at I think I found the one for its "next generation" model so those directions speak directly to my stove, too. Looks like I'll be hitting the kitchen later tonight to whip up some pumpkin pies.

And then, sometime tomorrow morning, I'll be doing the annual Tom Tussle whereby I prep, wash and wrangle a big-a** bird into the oven. And then ...


Or, as Young Tom, my grandfather, used to say: "You can call me anything you want. Just don't call me late for dinner."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Plucked from the Lost and Found

I kind of started a holiday theme with this morning’s post, so it seems I should stick with it. It would seem that I’ve found my holiday spirit! (Though it still doesn’t seem like Thanksgiving is a mere hours away.)

Every year I think there is no way that the recipients of our holiday charity program at work could possibly break my heart because the ones in the year’s prior already had. And every year they break my heart all over again! This year is no exception. I finally got the last of my needs’ list submitted today and I spent a good chunk of the afternoon trying to translate those into gift tags for people to select from.

The good news is that I work with a bunch of really great and generous people. The better news is that these families who have asked for so little will find themselves showered with so much. We have four families and about a dozen senior citizens to help this year. For most of these people, all they are asking for are food, blankets and cleaning supplies or maybe a coat. Well, I think they may find just a little bit more … *grins*

Yeah. That holiday spirit is accounted for now.
Claim #7F3N6J4DYNDU# (No that's not a claim ticket number for my holiday spirit! It's a code to prove to Technorati that I really do write this blog!)

Missing: Holiday Spirit

The mother is slowly starting to feel better. She’s begun to wrap Christmas packages, something she’s been anxious to do for almost a week as this is generally an activity she has all but completed by Halloween.

We’re also starting to talk about Christmas decorations. First, I need to clear the dining room out a little bit. Then we can talk about decorating. I don’t think we’ll have guests this year which is both a blessing and a curse. I think I can manage the driving this year though as my "sleigh" has gotten a serious upgrade. They’re forecasting a green Christmas (works for me) so we’ll load up Pearl and away we’ll go!

We’ll also have to find everything again. We’ve had so many projects under way since last year, it’s kind of tough to remember where everything went or got temporarily moved to. I’m guessing we’ll do about as much outdoor decorating as we did last year, especially if December will be warmer and relatively dry.

I’ve noticed that quite a few people have taken advantage of this month’s mild weather to decorate. Houses all across town are lit up night. I don’t mind that they’re getting an early start. I adore holiday lights and decorations.

And yesterday, on my way into the office, I noticed that this beauty is up in all of its glory, too. (If you can't tell from the photo, that's a two-story tree!)
It really IS beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Wonder when it will start to feel that way.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It’s Monday – Where’s YOUR Bird?

At lunch today, I overheard two young girls talking about Thursday’s big meal. One, a newlywed, was preparing for her very first Thanksgiving and expecting about 20 people. She sounded quite nervous.

“What do I do if I like burn the turkey up?” she asked her friend.

“You go out for Chinese,” the friend said, not missing a beat. This made me laugh because I immediately thought of the family in A Christmas Story. I heard “fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra” in the back of my head the rest of the afternoon.

They chuckled, too. Then, the friend got deathly serious. “So where IS your bird?” she asked her chum. The look on the girl’s face was priceless. She paused and then finally said: “It’s, um, in the freezer.”

She barely completed her answer before the friend’s drilling began. “So, how big is it?” This time, the response was quick: “It’s like HUGE! It’s 20-something pounds.”

Uh-oh. I could see it coming. And then it came. The friend sliced her like a dagger: “You know that turkey should be in the refrigerator, right?” Another priceless expression. I was starting to feel bad for her.

By that time, my lunch had arrived so I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation. Trust me though, it’s not one you want to be a party to if you’re the girl expecting 20 people for dinner and your turkey the size of an 18-month-old is still in the freezer on the Monday before Thanksgiving!

Granted, she can still get by. Much better for her that this conversation was today and not tomorrow or, God forbid, Wednesday

My “bird” is resting comfortably in the bottom of the new refrigerator. But, I’ll have a bit of reading to do before he makes his way into the oven – not on turkey preparation but on HOW to use this new appliance! (We’ve used the stovetop exactly once and the oven, never.) I’m no Betty Crocker, but this is one meal I’ve got down. Believe me, if I can do it, you can do it.

I just need to learn how to use this stove!

If you need some turkey tips, new recipes or holiday entertaining advice, you can always check out one of these sites:
· Turkey Roasting Hints and Tips
·’s Turkey 101
· Your First Thanksgiving Dinner
· Thanksgiving Menus
· Cooking Safety

Slackin’ – Not!

For all the playing around I did on Saturday, I did twice that much in getting things done yesterday.

I washed and buffed both cars. I ran the mower, collected nearly three bags of debris and took them to the dump. Rather than wait for the inevitable, I raked half my neighbors’ yard to get the leaves that would no doubt come my way.

I ran and picked a few things up for the mother who is still not feeling that great. I unloaded the car which probably doesn’t sound like much unless you know how packed it was with scrapbooking gear and with stuff I picked up on the way home Saturday.

I caulked around the posts on the deck and around some gaps in the doors and windows. (Stay tuned for a full review on this.) I drained the hose and rolled it up into the keeper and covered up the faucet. We’re supposed to get lows at or near freezing later this week, so I got this done just in time! We may even get flurries by Thanksgiving. Ugh.

I did three loads of laundry, cooked for the animals and got trash ready for this morning.
I literally sank into bed last night.

I’m glad to have gotten several things done and that I could take advantage of yet another unseasonably warm (60+) November weekend. Sure wish these would last all winter!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The To Do List

Yesterday was a play day. I cropped with the MonkeyGirl and we dropped in on the MonkeyMama, sewwhat.

It's kind of interesting to witness two generations of talent. The MonkeyGirl is forever coming up with some creative scrapbooking endeavor. She is currently working on a babybook for her new granddaughter. It has a rubber duckie theme.

So what did she do yesterday? With her handy, dandy Cricut and a variety of colored paper, she made a Frankenduck (for October) a durkey (rubber duck as a turkey)and the beginnings of reinducks (for December). I wish I'd had my camera!

Sewwhat, as her handle suggests, is forever in the throes of a sewing project. She is almost always doing multiple plays at once, plus, she made Halloween costumes for her grandchildren this year. I got to be privy to her costuming room, a temporary hang-out for about 100 costumes, because someone in the troupe is moving soon.

And I even got to see her handiwork in action. To say I was awestruck would be saying too little.

My grandmother was a seamstress and a tremendous cook. Those genes clearly didn't make it into my system. I told sewwhat that if I were left to clothe myself, I most likely would be clad in tin foil! Or, maybe sheets. (I once fashioned an old bed sheet into a respectable toga as part of a college Halloween costume.)

So, I'm always amazed by those who can make clothes. Especially when they make them so quickly and to such specifications. Thank you both for letting me bask in your creative streaks!

Today is a day for me to put some of my talents (or at least my concentrated efforts)to work. I have cars to wash, a yard to mow, leaves to rake and maybe a few holes to caulk. There's about 10 other mundane tasks on today's list.

Oh, and I'm still on Clara Barton duty. (Thanks for the many well wishes!) The mother looked and sounded awful earlier this morning. She's resting now. I hope that helps.

Well, my neighborhood is alive with the symphony of lawnmowers. I'd best go join them.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Wondrous Sky

Do I really need to say anything about these? Nah.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, I Love You

What. A. Week. Seriously.

Work has been like a cyclone. (Not a complaint, just an observation. I prefer it this way.) It’s left me neither time nor energy to do anything on the homefront all week. And now, I’ve got a couple other things to add to the list.

First, the mother is sick. She was down almost all day yesterday. I’ve not heard from her today so I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I’m hoping it meant she was finally able to sleep. Second, the dimmer switch in the dining room is broken making the light difficult if not impossible to use. I’m not sure if I’m qualified to change it o not; electrical is the one territory I don’t venture into if I can help it.

It finally stopped raining and the sun even came out today. However, it was cooold last night. So cold that there was frost on Ladybird’s windows this morning. That’s only the second time this fall so far. Luckily, it got up near 60 which it’s supposed to do again both Saturday and Sunday while also remaining dry, thankuverymuch.

I’m planning to crop with the MonkeyGirl tomorrow but Sunday I need to get my duff out there and deal with the rest of the leaves. I was assessing all the neighbors’ trees last night and about 75-80 percent of the leaves from all their trees are down. I also need to take advantage of the warmer, dry weather and try out some products I received from our friends at DAP. Stay tuned for more on that.

Speak Up About New Guidelines

Is it me, or has some segment of the medical community declared an all out-and-out war on women in this country?

The already controversial “new guidelines” regarding mammograms and breast-screening generally want to take this out of the “routine” category. Now they want women to only get pap smears every couple of years. Since when did M.D. start standing for mighty dumb?

In both cases, it’s supposedly because of the “low incidence” of cancerous tumors that either exam identifies. Well, if you happen to be among the women who fall into that “low incidence” category, I guess you cease to matter.

I know a few women who fit this "low incidence" category. Chances are good that you do, too. Do you think they don’t matter? No? Me either. Clearly, Breast Cancer Awareness really is so last month.

Granted, the guidelines don’t apply to women who have family histories of breast or cervical cancer. But what about all those women of varying ages who have no reason to suspect they’ll fall victim to one of these horrid diseases?

In recent days, I’ve seen dozens of women on the news show circuit, some who found cancers in their 20s, others closer to my age give or take a few years, who are only alive today thanks to those “routine” screenings.

As a woman who falls into that black hole of the age 40-49 set that is now being told such screenings aren’t necessary, I’m a little pissed off. Especially when there’s data that shows that 17 percent of breast-cancer deaths occur in women age 40 to 50. That’s roughly 1 in 6. Oh well. Write them off.

Cheers to Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He took this issue on the other night and did everything but call it stupidity. Most other doctors I've seen though don't seem to be raising a ruckus about it.

I can see the stage being set for the insurance companies to start denying annual coverage for these visits and tests. Just about every major health insurance carrier has decried my view as “hype” and said that no one is rushing to change their coverage policies. Yet. Give it time.

You see, it wasn’t all that long ago that mammograms weren’t widely covered, if at all. Mind you, at that time you could get insurance coverage for Viagra – but not for a mammogram. (I always found that more than a little ironic. Pardon me for pointing this out, but I think a woman might tend to enjoy sex more if she’s alive. I’m just sayin.’)

If you’re a woman – or a man who happens to love one – spout off about this. It really could be a matter of life and death.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


As a general rule, I prefer to shy away from bedlam. So I’m not quite certain how I usually seem to end up smack dab in the middle of it.

Of course, going to the grocery store tonight, I already know what I’m in for. Between the $10 off of $50 purchase coupled with discounted turkeys with minimum purchase, I’m thinking “riot” might be a more appropriate description of what I’ll soon be walking into.

Suffice it to say I’ll be jamming my way down crowded aisles and no doubt stuck in the continuously wrapping check-out line from hell.

Bah humbug.

At least the sun FINALLY came out -- and in just enough time to sink below the horizon. It was pretty though.

Countin' Down

Now that I’ve finally accepted that the holidays are so close (just 36 shopping days left ‘til Christmas!) I finally got around to starting the countdown for another major annual event: Scrapbook Escape. (Note the countdown clock in the right-hand corner.)

This annual weekend of all things scrapbooking (with all-nighters, lunacy and good old-fashioned fun) starts Jan. 8. Like the holidays, it is something I look forward to every year and something that requires almost as much preparation, just on a different level, as the holidays.

Usually, I have the countdown clock up and I’ve already started penning the annual parody song by October. We’re halfway through November and I didn’t have either of these things done. Now, the clock is up and the song is under way.

t’s just 50 days and counting. BOOYAH!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An Update

For the record, I love this picture.
It’s the very last frame I shot of Taz last Friday. Seeing it has had a little bit of sting to it the past few days. Especially since the mother is still pretty heartbroken about the whole thing.

I’ve even had lots of reservations about it since the weekend. This isn’t a reflection on Taz’s new mama, Sandra, as I’d have never turned her over to begin with if it was. We’ve just never given away any creature we’ve ever taken in. We’ve tried – but always ended up keeping them. Whether they lived a day or 17 years, they were ours for life. So now the mother thinks that we’ve “abandoned” Taz.

So I’ve been in kind of a funk about it, too. Until this morning – when this email (shared in part)greeted me.

Taz is amazing……she woke me up this morning smelling my face and purring for the first time. Last night was the first night she slept upstairs. I hadn’t forced the issue but was hoping she would come up on her own and she did. She did get into my big bedroom plant….so I had to chase her out of there a couple time...other than that, she has been perfect. Now that she is used to the stairs, I’m sure she thinks they were built just for her. She loves running up and down and even goes through the cat door so I can leave the big door closed. I do believe she is a very smart cat. She is getting more and more used to my husband…..she certainly didn’t mind him lying next to me as she joined us in bed last night.

Again, thank you for giving Taz to me…….I still miss Jethro so very, very much Taz is certainly starting to fill the void big time. … she is adorable and makes me laugh constantly…..which I need to do.

A HOUSE IS NOT HOME WITHOUT A PET….so now I have a home once again !!!!

*wiping tear* And as if that weren’t enough, she attached these.

Yeah. We really “abandoned” Taz, didn’t we? She looks like the portrait of miserable – not! If I didn't already, I now know I did the right thing.


I finally got some sleep last night. Finally. I’m still tired and probably could easily have turned off the alarm and not gotten out of bed, but I still feel a lot better.

The constant rain has put a dampness in the air that – combined with the 40-degree temperatures – is both thick and cold. I guess I’d better get used to it. It’s like another week of the October we had. Ugh. Where did my summer go?!

Holiday decorations are starting to spring up. I guess some people took advantage of last week’s nice weather to do their outdoor d├ęcor. I love holiday decorations; truly, I do. It just seems strange to see them again already. While the mother and I were shopping over the weekend, I kept hearing Christmas songs and it almost sounded foreign.

I guess I’m in denial that Thanksgiving is little more than a week away! Is that really possible? Really?

I’m woefully behind on so many things. I was hoping to have so much more done by now and every time I’m in either the bathroom or kitchen, I get a little more frustrated. I’m sure that’s part of my denial.

That’s my story anyway and I’m stickin’ to it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The "R" Word

I didn't post this morning because it would have been a griping, whiny little rant. I figure mornings are tough enough without inflicting THAT on anyone.

The rain continues to fall. Our dry respite was all too brief. And, it's been a cold rain, too. Lots of people at work have flooded basements. My assistant stayed home today to fight water and another of my colleagues had a sewer back-up. YUCK! I feel so sorry for them both.

And, after 15 years of dry time, our sump pit is filling again. That tells me that the water table is plenty high. That's no doubt due to the record rainfall of last month. But at least my water is going where it's supposed to.

On a happier note, I was invited a while back to submit the story of my brick porch and walkway (yes, sorry, you've GOT to be sick of hearing about it by now!) to their site. And so, now it's featured on Front Porch Ideas and More. Thanks, Dave and Mary!

There are a lot of beautiful porches and cool ideas on the site. Check it out!

Monday, November 16, 2009

What the Puck?!

I finally got a chance to go through my hockey photos over the weekend. Mind you, I should have been doing other things, especially considering how much else was going on, but I couldn’t help myself. I just had to see if they really looked as good on the computer as they did on the camera.

They did.
One theme I noticed – and one that took me by surprise – was the presence of the puck. In frame after frame, I found the puck rolling or gliding away or perched at the edge of a player’s stick. So, I decided to do two things things.

First, I’d be as good as my word and share some additional shots from Thursday night’s Blues’ game. And second, each of these shots has the puck visible someplace. Can you find it?
There’s no prize for this, beyond the satisfaction of having quite the eagle eye!

A Cameo by Lawrence

Part of the chaos of Saturday brought an early morning phone call: It was Lawrence. His wife’s surgery had gone well and she continues to recuperate. She is well enough that he could escape for a few hours to deliver some materials for a job he’s doing in St. Louis. He wondered if he could stop by en route to drop off a sample of the frame pieces he’d cut for the drawer front covers. He wants to make sure it fits before cutting "real" boards.

I didn’t think we’d be home when he came by but we were still a few minutes from leaving when he pulled up. He brought the piece inside and into the kitchen. He had used his router – with a dado bit – to build an edge that would hold a beadboard panel in place while slipping over the existing raised panel drawers. He seemed pleased with the overall fit.

This is hardly the finished product but I think you can get the idea.

Ideally, he’ll be back after Thanksgiving with the edge pieces and we can assemble and apply them then. He thinks his wife will be well enough to be left on her own for the day by then. He can finish cutting the drawer front frames in the meantime. (When we finished the carport project at the end of September, I’d loaded him up with the pine boards to be cut for the drawer fronts. )

I wish I’d had the chance to paint them first, then they’d already have a coat of paint on them going up.

Oh well. Another job on the to-do list! Right now, I need to work on retraining my focus and on finishing the bathroom.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dear Taz

Dear Taz,

I'm so sorry to have frightened and confused you so badly. I hope that the love and comfort you receive in your new home will absolve me from causing this temporary upheaval for you.

Thank you for being such a good girl when you entered the arms of your new mama. The tears that filled her eyes as she first hugged you and kissed your head made me feel so strongly that this was the right thing. Having so recently lost a long-time feline companion, I think you will be a wonderful way to fill the hole in her heart.

I know it will take time for you to adjust -- both to the change of scenery and the people within it -- but I hope it will be a happy adventure for you. I know that someday soon you will have the run of a house, one where you will be the center of attention. One that isn't filled with unfinished floors and walls, littered with tools and supplies and home to an insane cat that would enjoy nothing more than to make a meal of you.

Be nice to Sandra and be patient. She is a kind lady and I think you will find that she will spoil you almost as much if not more than we have. I sincerely believe that your patience will find you having everything you need -- and more -- or I would never have let you go. I hope that you understand this in the brief time that precedes the ever diminshing memory of the mother and I.

I know it won't be that long and you will forget us. But we will never forget you. And, if for some strange, unforseeable reason things just don't work out ... the door will always be open to you. We'll make it work somehow.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Retail Therapy

It was a gorgeous day -- sunny and in the 70s! Unbelievable for November around here. But it all ends tomorrow. The weatherman is promising us a week of rain starting tomorrow night. Lovely.

This was day one of an action-packed weekend. Tomorrow, it's a family event for work. I've volunteered to play photographer. The mother is coming along.

Today was an emotional day and we helped to wash that down with some healthy doses of retail therapy. I got to go to Archiver's. Anytime I get to go to a scrapbook store, it's a good day. So, I guess today qualifies.

Today had an extra little twist to it, too: the reappearance, albeit brief, of Lawrence.

I've alluded to so many things in this post, without telling you much of anything. Stay tuned ...

Friday, November 13, 2009


I keep hearing Clark Gable utter that line to Vivien Leigh in "Gone With the Wind" about having their daughter's "little duds packed." Maybe it's because we spent part of Friday night getting Taz ready for the trip to her new home on Saturday.

Her proverbial duds are packed. We are missing her already.

I spent almost 30 minutes on the phone with Taz's future mama on Thursday. She sounds like such a wonderful lady. When we touched briefly on her recently departed cat, she started to cry. Between that -- and the fact that she has been making preparations for Taz's arrival, including taking days off next week -- it has made me feel like this is definitely the right thing. I don't think Taz could have a better home even if she stayed here.

The mother is frantic. She's innately tightly wound and sensitive and this is going to be tougher for her than it is for me. And it's tough for me. Much tougher than I thought it was going to be. Now, before I start to cry ...

Ozzie spent the afternoon resting and spent the bulk of the day recuperating. (And most of that attached to my hip as I tried to do things with the computer.) During the evening, he sprang back into life. Thank God! So thank you for all the well wishes. They seemed to have worked.

More hockey pictures when I get a few minutes. I'm stunned by how many of them actually turned out well. The quandary now is which version to use of the ones where I seem to have the same shot over and over and over.

What Day Is It?

The day has gotten off to a rough start. Ozzie hasn't been well today. He's been a little off, but didn't seem like anything alarming, for a couple days. Today, he's sick.

I'm glad I'm home to deal with it and comfort him but it means none of the things I'd had on tap for today are likely to get done. Oh well. He's more important.

At least I had a really good time last night. The hockey game was lot of fun! I got some really good pictures. I was playing with them earlier and trying to determine just which ones should make the cut.

Here are a few. I'll have more to share later.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


There was a slight delay in getting home last night as this scene managed to block our buses for about 10 minutes.

While there were at least eight of us waiting for various buses at my stop, none of us saw the accident but we all heard it! (There's a parking garage ramp that effectively blocks view of this intersection from most angles.)

I snapped this within two minutes of impact. The respective parties were both already on their cell phones. It didn't look like anyone was hurt thankfully.

At some point the lead bus, off to the left where you can see just a bit of it, realized that it could in fact maneuver around the scene and did so ... before another accident could happen with cars that keep weaving in and around it in the intersection.

The Hockey Virgin

It’s supposed to get above 60 today but right now, it’s under 40. After being cold in my office yesterday, I took no chances. I have a waaarm sweater on today. Good thing, too. It’s cold on the bus.

I freaked Slappy (our three morning a week driver) out by standing across the street today. He bugged his eyes at me (not unlike Rochester of the old movies) and exclaimed: “What are you doing here? You live all the way out here?” I nodded at hooked a thumb in the direction of This D*mn House.

I usually drive to the station but I have plans tonight: I’m going to the hockey game with The MonkeyGirl. I was going to drive to work but since she graciously offered to drive me home, I’ll just take the bus into the office instead.

I’ve never been to a hockey game. My name just happened to be one to come out of the proverbial hat to win one of the six pairs of tickets that the company graciously donated as part of a charity program last month. And this is suite seating. And they’re going to feed us. Boo-yah!

I neither particularly like nor dislike hockey but I figure being in the suite would be the ideal way to see one. Especially for my first time. Whether you like hockey or not, that can’t be a bad thing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I whined so mightily last month about leaves that I’d be remiss to not give an update.

After a week or two of wading through a growing pile of leaves from the neighbor’s tree that straddles our property line, I came home on Friday to find that he had mowed the entire lot – and apparently used a bagger! (While he is good about mowing, he doesn’t use the bagger.) So, a completely leaf-lined lot was down to about 15 percent of what had been covering it. Not bad at all! I usually have to spend most of a weekend doing this every year, and with a combination of mower and manual raking, collect about 4-5 bags of leaves.

The front yard is still covered. I’ll be able to get that though, probably on Friday when I’m off. The backyard also has some stragglers but … the neighbor across the alley, whom I love dearly but who gets on my last nerve this time every year, was RAKING over the weekend. RAKING.

I was stunned. His usual leaf-removal method of choice is to let them all pile up against the double gate which opens directly onto my backyard. He opens them and then all the leaves blow over to me. They either hit the backyard or the lot that we own part of that just got cleared. That’s the usual M.O. But not this year.

And I couldn’t be happier.

George and John

His name was George. He was fair-haired and blue-eyed, a young farmer whose parents had come to Illinois shortly after it became a state. They’d come from his native Tennessee and settled near Illinois’ southeastern border.

He was married and had five children, the youngest barely 4. He was only 5’7 but had the constitution of an ox, a quality that no doubt came in handy while maintaining the 200 acres of farmland he owned in Pope County.

He joined at least one brother, several cousins, a nephew and brother-in-law to enlist in the US. Army. It was August 1862 and George was 37.

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles north, a dark-haired, dark-eyed Irishman had joined his elder brother and his family in another Illinois town, this one on the southwest border of the state, and a stone’s throw from St. Louis. John, barely 30, had come to the United States a few years earlier, crossing the ocean with a young daughter and son after his young wife had caught her sleeve on fire while cooking on an open hearth, dying of her injuries.

John’s family had railed against the British for centuries, and had managed only recently to escape a potato famine that left the country in starvation. He figured he knew a thing or two about fightin’ so he joined up.

As the boy did not survive the journey, John had only his daughter to kiss goodbye as he left her in the care of his brother and marched off to war. John never came back.

George may – or may not – have come home from the war. Less than half of his regiment did. According to a history of the regiment, before they were officially called into service in 1862, 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 infected 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 of Louisiana -- 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’d contracted during the war?

One thing is certain: When George’s father drew up a will in September 1867, George was already dead.

George and John likely never met. I can’t swear they didn’t. I wasn’t there. But, a century after the Civil War, their histories would forever converge in the forms of George’s great-grandson and John’s great-great-granddaughter. I would be the product of that union.

Today, as we honor those who valiantly served our country, I hold up these two men. They are among the millions who have died in defense of this nation.

I proudly salute them and all those who, as I type this, are protecting our country today. Let us never forget those who have died, those who have served, and those who serve us still. So many of those who served are among the forgotten today. Too many.

Do whatever you can to support veterans’ causes , not just today but every day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I’ve been chasing this day like a dog does its tail. Even before the alarm sounded, this day was miles ahead of me. By the time I got to work, the starting gun had fired but there I was, still standing firmly in place. Yikes!

I had all these grand plans for last night. Though I did manage to get a few things done, I ran out of steam waaaaay too quickly. I wanted to get back to the bathroom floor and maybe even spend a little time on the walls. Barring that, why not get a few more kitchen cabinet doors sanded and painted?

But no. After enjoying a leisurely dinner and watching a little TV, I spiraled into unconsciousness, napping on the sofa. Getting to bed late, a hectic work day, and then rushing around to both my and Taz’ appointments apparently took its toll. By the time I woke up, it was time to deal with our little zoo and get ready for morning. Too late to do anything productive in the house.

Tonight, I'm even more tired than last night. I'm not going to create any illusions for myself that I'll accomplish anything beyond animal care and personal hygiene tonight. I'm afraid that I may end up doing a repeat performance of last night.

So, for now I’m consoling myself with and living vicariously through the efforts of Jayne and the “marching chickens” that are appearing in her kitchen, of Elaine and Dylan’s kitchen that is competing in the Share Your Project contest, of Victoria and the bathroom that is materializing before her eyes (and from a cloud of drywall dust, no doubt), and of the pink haze that Leah is hoping to uncover in her bathroom.

Thanks, guys. I need all the inspiration I can get!

And the Verdict Is …

Despite a few minor delays, traffic last night was not too bad and I cruised through town, arriving nearly 10 minutes ahead of my appointment. Of course, it took me almost that long to park and get to the building so the timing was perfect. I was ushered right into an exam room and 10 minutes later, I was walking out with a script for a new nasal mist. (Cross your fingers that this works!)

Pearl and I flew across town and grabbed Taz from the mother and sped up the road. The vet’s office was jammed. There was a seriously obese Bassett hound named Ed sitting on the floor. He was snorting like a pig and so loudly that Taz stood up in her carrier. She was amused by the collection of kittens, all about her age, that stared back at her from a tall pen at the end of the room. (The vet works with the local shelter.) That seemed to put her at ease. Until the “greeter cat,” a big, caramel-colored male, both ears bent in odd directions, jumped into the seat next to us – and then onto the top of the carrier.

Anxious for my attention, he plopped back into the chair next to the carrier and rubbed against my hip. (He’s a sweetie and another of the vet’s rescue cases. Unlike the kittens, he’s not up for adoption; he lives at the doctor’s office.) His name is ALF. What a sweetheart!

While we waited our turn, an elderly lady came to claim “Charles,” a big, beautiful, brown tabby mix. He strutted back and forth atop the counter while she paid his ransom. Taz watched every move, clearly fascinated by the gorgeous creature.

When it got to be our turn, the vet once again checked Taz’s backside. “Nothing personal, honey, you just don’t look like a girl,” says the doc. That made me laugh. I reminded the doctor that she had done a doubletake when I first brought Taz in.

Taz was visibly frightened when they drew blood but she didn’t whimper, merely winced a bit. When she got her booster shot, she barely moved. Such a good little girl!

And, based on last night’s test, a healthy girl. No feleuk. No signs of any other kind of illness or disease for that matter. Thank God! In fact, the doctor declared her a “little moose” after she weighed in at a whopping 5.5 pounds! Wow – that little ball of grey fluff sure got big! Now there's no doubt where all that food is going.

So that’s the news of the hour. I’ll have to let her new mama know. I'm sure she'll be relieved.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Doctor, Doctor

I came in early this morning to accommodate two doctor visits this afternoon: one for me, one for Taz. I’m keeping a previously forgotten about allergist visit to see if he can upgrade my prescription.

While the weekend weather was oh so fabulous, this morning is cloudy and gray. I’d hoped that by getting in early I could share a “sunrise” shot instead of a sunset photo for a change but it was not to be.

Maybe it’s just the weather change or maybe I’ve gone through my drug immunity phase again. Whatever the reason, I hope he can find something to solve the persistent sneezing and post-nasal drip of the past few weeks. It’s gotten ridiculous!

So, I’ll be zipping by his office on my way through town toward home. Then, once home, I’ll nab Taz and head for the vet’s office which is a mile or so away. She’s getting her booster, a scan for feleuk and possibly a rabies shot. Poor thing.

Here’s hoping for good results for both of us! (Especially Taz as this has great bearing on her future.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Just saying that it was a glorious day, doesn't come close to describing just how glorious it was! Why can't it just stay like this? I so live in the wrong part of the country.

It got up to 78 yesterday and I don't know what today's high was but it was equally beautiful. I spent most of today trying to do all of the things that I didn't get done yesterday. I did manage to finish a lingering outside project by getting a second layer of driveway patch around the columns in the carport. That should wrap that up!

And then I patched some of the other cracks in the driveway. Luckily, there weren't many spots that were too bad. (Clearly, I did a good job before sealing it last year.) Unfortunately, I couldn't do the front half of the driveway because I knew my godmother was coming over -- but not when. I think it will keep 'til spring anyway.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Special Day

Without this date, I wouldn’t be here. It’s the mother’s birthday.

The mother is a pre-Boomer, born right in the middle of the war. Fate’s a strange thing. I guess it’s a good thing that the military deemed Young Tom “too old” to enlist at age 41 or he might have been overseas … and the mother would never have been. And by default, neither would I
Trying to buy things for the mother is d*mn near impossible. I’ve got a relatively good record, last Christmas not withstanding. (I bought her some jewelry she didn’t like. Oh well. I’m taking possession of it as she didn’t bother to tell me this until way past a time when I could have returned it.)

This year, I opted to not even try. She and I talked about it and about Christmas and decided that what is going into the house is enough for both of us. We usually get things we want (within reason) year round, so it’s not that big a deal.

But the one thing we always do for a birthday, pretty much without fail, is go out to eat. The mother has decided that she wants TGI Friday’s so that is what she shall have. I guess I’ll have to force myself to eat fajitas. Ouch!

We’re also going shopping so I’m sure I’ll end up buying her something. And that will be cool. No chance of getting something she doesn’t want.

It’s going to be an extra treat, too, as it’s supposed to be 74 degrees. That’s right. 7-4. In November. I love it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

At Last … With Conditions

There was something that would NOT let me put Taz in the furfiend column. Though I battled with it almost daily for a few weeks, it just wouldn’t. Like a huge mountain topped with barbed-wire. NO. You may NOT input that information.

I would start to scale the barbed wire and run away instead.

That something came last week in the form of a cryptic phone call. I thought it was a reporter at first and I was trying desperately to figure which thing that I’d sent out “about a month ago” and for which client that she might be referring to? Then she said: “So, do you still have that kitten?” Within minutes, one of my colleagues forwarded me an email trail and posed the simple question: “Do you still have Taz?” The two incidents were related and the lady at the heart of the request has decided to take Taz.

As long as she doesn’t have feline leukemia (FeLV), a lethal retrovirus that infects cats, that is. I’ve always known about feleuk but was never aware that it is so prevalent. (In part because we’ve had stray cats around my whole life and I’ve never dealt with it. The mother has – once – many years ago when it was first identified.) She is willing to pay for the test, regardless of the result. I won’t take her money though. Right is right.

This lady just lost a cat a month ago at age 14 so she’s not willing to risk another heartbreak. I don't blame her and completely understand her hesitancy. So, the FeLV test is going on Taz’s roster when I take her for her next round of shots on Monday. Cross your fingers that she’s 100 percent healthy! She sure seems to be. In fact, she has one of the healthiest appetites I’ve ever seen. Assuming that all goes well, we’ll meet up somewhere next week at a mutually convenient location for the great exchange.

I’ve been hesitant to bring it up because it’s still not a done deal. I’ve thought before that maybe this would happen. And it didn’t. So I’ve stayed quiet. I really want this to work out. Especially after an email I got from the lady yesterday started out like this: “I’m happy to say that the whole family has fallen in love with Taz. I have emailed her pics to all of my family.”

I’ve had a bit of anxiety since last week, since I knew that Taz really could be moving on to a new home. I questioned myself repeatedly. Is this the right thing to do? Really? Even the mother is back-pedaling a bit, now that the prospect is on the horizon.
But then I received another email from the lady last night that said in part: “I really look forward to meeting you next weekend and even though I will be so happy to have Taz…..I will probably cry when you hand her over because I will feel bad for you. I don’t know about you, but I get attached in about 2 seconds. Three pets can be a handful so I’m happy that you are giving Taz to me…..she will be a pampered kitty. I simply can’t wait. … Thanks again and have a great weekend and take good care of my kitty Taz.” (She even likes the name!)

Reading that melted any fears or doubts I may have had about handing her over.

Yeah. Everything has to be OK. This just seems right.

A Take on Tragedy

The shooting deaths of 13 people – and the wounding of dozens of others – at Fort Hood yesterday is a grim reminder of just what “harm’s way” can mean for the men and women who serve our country.

The shock of learning that both the shooter and the civilian officer who brought him down had survived the carnage – after both were reported dead – was a plot twist right out of a television crime drama. My heart goes out to those who are living this nightmare firsthand, surviving the attack, and to those who lost a family member or friend in the violence. Senseless is too light a word to describe this act of pure cowardice.

It’s sad enough when our young men and women are sent overseas to die. The irony here is that some of the casualties were on their way out, while still others had made it safely home from battle, only to suffer a violent death right here at home.

I don’t wax political here very often but this is one time I feel I have to. I sincerely hope that our soldiers know why they’re being asked to die because I’ll admit that I no longer do.

We went into a war more than six years ago, and countless innocent lives have been lost since. Some were our soldiers. Some were civilians. Maybe yesterday’s incident is a reminder of the campaign promises our president made to get us out of the Middle East. There has been bloodshed going on there for centuries. Are American lives worth sacrificing in a radical religious battle that nearly every other world power has confronted -- and abandoned -- at some point in time? Do we really need to continue to be a part of it? I for one don’t think so.

Though the Fort Hood shooting is an isolated incident, how many more people need to die? How many more bombings or ambushes is it going to take to show that we aren’t winning hearts and minds over there?

I say “enough already.” Get the hell out of there. The cost (in lives, in world standing, in dollars) has been way too high.

Mr. President, this was one of the key areas of change I’d hoped for a year ago. It’s time to put up or shut up. It’s time to stop the status quo of the previous administration’s failed policies. Maybe this last bit of bloodshed won’t be in vain. Maybe there's some audacity of hope in that.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Happy Marriage

In one of the gazillion email newsletters that I subscribe to (about 85 percent of them are for work) I got this link to a story about Stanley buying Black&Decker.

I think my tool habit is well documented. So, here's a toast to the happy couple. May they keep giving me more stuff to buy for many years to come!

Walking the Plank

OK, clearly I’ve got way too many projects going when I can’t distinguish vinyl plank flooring from vinyl beadboard. Apologies to Kate! What a goof I am.

Here’s the vinyl plank you were looking for.
It’s made by a company called Novalis. It comes in 4x36 strips. While it covers the same square foot of space as a 12x12 square it does it in a different shape.

Words can’t describe how much easier it was to work with this dimension either. I’ve put down more than my share of vinyl flooring and this was one of the easiest jobs ever.

People can talk trash about peel and stick vinyl all they want but I really liked this stuff. Yeah, it can be cheap looking, but I don’t think this stuff is.

I can’t tell you how many times people would stand in the dining room and look in the kitchen and say, “Oh, you put wood down.”
Only after they really looked -- or after I pointed it out -- did they notice it was vinyl. Even then, most people would lean down and touch it! Here it is in our old kitchen so you can see how it looks down.

Wow! I still miss it. That old refrigerator? Not so much! The floor served us well for more than three years. It was comfortable to walk on, very durable and easy to clean. I almost cried when I ripped it up to start prepping for the new porcelain tile. It’s thick but you can cut it with a utility knife. Yet another nice feature.

And I can’t say enough about how much better plank size is to work with than square. It made getting around the awkward edges that cabinetry and doorways create very easy to deal with.
I think both Lowe’s and Home Depot carry it. (And I’m pretty sure it’s Lowe’s because I just saw some of it recently.) It’s something like 98 cents a square foot. They sell in both boxes of 30 and in individual strips which can be pretty convenient.

That’s a little pricey for vinyl, considering you can get some varieties of porcelain at that price and even cheaper, but it’s worth it.

It comes in two shades, this one being the darker of the two. The other is more of a lighter oak color. I still have almost a full box of it and I’m debating whether this might not be a good option for the laundry room floor – when I get around to replacing the crappy tile down there.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why It's Worth It

OK. Here's a side benefit to the loss of Daylight Saving Time: I am usually sitting at my desk when the sun goes down. And, at this time of year there are usually some phenomenal sunsets.

So, I'll apologize now. You're probably going to see a lot of these during the next few weeks. Confession: I am a sunrise/sunset FREAK. Here's hoping you enjoy them. I know I did!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


One of the things that is just so d*mned cool about blogging is all of the interaction. I love getting comments that offer not only encouragement but occasionally good advice on projects and products.

I also love it when something I’ve done or tried can help someone else out. So, I couldn’t ignore a recent comment from Kate who was trying to find my entry on vinyl beadboard. Here it is, Kate! That entry has vendor information and a photo, too. While we thought this was a good product (made by our friends at Azek, who made the vinyl planks I resided the shed with) it was not the best choice for the project for which we were considering it. I just came across that sample and passed it on a few days ago. It was thick and hearty, slid together easily and still maintained a nice wood look.

I got another comment for a rather old post (from back in February) on my review of the Twin Draft Guard. That review still gets a lot of traffic from Google, something that has been increasing as the weather has turned colder. I liked the item and am going to buy another one soon for the backdoor.

George, however, had some billing issues with customer service and then he didn’t even like the product, decrying it as “garbage.” Well, I’m sorry that you had a bad experience, George. We bought ours at Wal-Mart, and nine months later, ours is still very much in use on the front door and still doing its job.

Sometimes, I need to listen when my readers suggest something. Victoria told me WEEKS ago to get some chemicals to remove the bathroom grout haze. I resisted. But, while the method I was using was working, it was SO time-consuming I knew I needed to try something else. While I didn’t get the exact product she recommended, I did find this at Lowe’s. I’m happy to report IT WORKS!

If I spend just a little time with it a few more evenings this week I should be able to declare the haze removed. Then, of course, I get to regrout in sections and put in the quarter-round before I can declare the floor complete.

Just so you know, anything I review, I buy. If it comes to the point where a company sends me something to try, I’ll let you know that. Not that that would make it any easier on them. I’ll either like something – or I won’t. And I’ll tell you either way!

I’m all about finding things to make DIY projects faster, easier and less expensive. I think that’s something we can all appreciate. So, please, keep the dialogue going!

Autumn Leaves

I couldn't help but kid the mother during her foray into outdoor fall decorating on Sunday.

Aren't there enough of the real ones around here for you? Do we need fakes ones? Seriously?
I honestly think that it looks nice though. It's very festive and just a precursor to the Christmas decorations that are *gulp* just around the corner!
Of course, it continues on the front porch, too, but by the time she'd finished on Sunday, it was too dark to catch a good shot.
I'll get one soon though. On a morning when I'm not running late, leaving my wallet at home or otherwise engaged in some form of stupidity.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Temporary Trade Off

I didn’t log on at all yesterday. It was a busy day but I used my extra hour wisely: I slept.
I did a variety of things all day without completing anything. If they gave out an award for that I would so win it. With honors.

The mother has been continuing the “reclamation” efforts. There’s still a microwave (and paint and tools) under the dining room table, and a kitchen cart in the livingroom, but it’s starting to look more like a house each day. In a way, it’s kind of scary.

Speaking of scary, we did manage to take down and put away the Halloween decorations. And the mother managed to drag more out – for fall. Since my pumpkin never became a jack-o-lantern, it fits right in.

I washed Ladybird. Poor thing had dirt and leaves encrusted along the sides after going down semi-flooded streets the other morning on the way to the bus.

And, I finally put away my laundry and started clearing out summer clothes. (About half of my laundry qualified.) Funny thing is, yesterday and now a second day of November seem to be warmer than most days in October. Go figure. You'll get no complaints here!

Of course, when I go home tonight, it will already be dark and by the time I get there, pitch black. This morning though the sun is out and it’s bright for my commute in. Sadly, that won’t be the case for long. So I’m going to enjoy it while I’ve got it.

I could be cruel and plant a John Denver earworm in your head. Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy. But I wouldn't do that, now would I?