Thursday, September 30, 2010


It’s the last day of September and it feels more like spring. Fine by me. I’ll take it!

It’s at or near 60, some 10-15 degrees warmer than it’s been on recent mornings. I’m grateful for that as I now have two jackets hanging on the back of the door at the office. Not doing me much good there, are they?

It’s supposed to cool down again though in the next few days. I’m hoping that it’s not by that much as I am taking some time off in the next week. I thought I’d use the beginning of the month to start whittling away at my remaining vacation time. I was stunned to realize that I’ve only taken HALF of it – and there are just a few months left in the year.

So, I’m going to fix that by taking Monday, Tuesday and Friday off next week, followed by the Monday after that. That means I’ll have two consecutive extended weekends. They will be anything but “time off,” that’s for sure. I need to work on the driveway before we lose the last of the warmth. And I need to finish sanding cabinet doors. (After more than a year, I’m sick of it. Completely. At least one project has to get done around here. Soon!)

Then it will be generally cleaning and clearing out. So, I see two trips in my immediate future. One will be to Salvation Army to unload us of those things which are no longer necessary yet in too good of shape to discard. The other will be to Hardware Heaven, (and likely, a total of FOUR different hardware stores.)

Yep. Just like the weather, things are warming up around here again!

Monday, September 27, 2010

And Fall Arrives

Brrrr …It’s 40-something this morning. Pitch black. Damp. Fall has clearly arrived. I am appropriately clad in sweater and jacket – but with open-toed shoes. (I said fall has arrived -- I didn't say I'd accepted that yet. My grip on summer is unclenching gradually.)

On the plus side, I was greeted with a gorgeous sky twinkling with stars when I took the trash out this morning. I hadn’t seen a night sky so clear and free of clouds in weeks.

It was a gorgeous day on Saturday. One I spent working all day in the yard. It actually looks quite nice. Even my neighbors (one one side of the block anyway) have all their edging done, too, so all of our yards look nicely coiffed.

Yesterday was rainy and cool. While the mother and I didn’t head out until early afternoon, it was still misting as we started our shopping adventure. While it eventually stopped and the sky even cleared and brightened a bit, we didn’t glimpse sunshine until we were on our way home, about an hour before sunset.

The seasonal change is wreaking havoc with my sinuses. The inside of my nose feels like someone has gone through first, with a mixmaster and quickly followed it up with a blow torch. I sure hope this is not another infection coming on. Unfortunately for me, that’s one of the hallmarks of fall.

The mother has painting on her agenda for the week as it is supposed to be dry and mild clear through next weekend. We’ll see if that forecast bears out. I won’t hold my breath.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Slow but Steady Progress

No beautiful views this morning. (Which is a shame in the wake of a full moon.)

Nope. Just a steady rain and black skies today.

The foundation is painted! When I got home last night, the mother was just finishing the side of the house, covered by the carport. That’s a good thing because it started raining sometime overnight. That means that all the paint not protected from the elements (meaning around the whole rest of the house) had at least 8 hours to dry. That’s a very good thing.

Between last weekend’s scrubbing, and a fresh coat of white paint along its base, the house is looking pretty good. It would look a lot better if the grass wasn’t overgrown. But that’s a job for tomorrow.

I don’t know that we’ll get anything else done beyond yardwork on Saturday. It should be a pleasant enough day (sunny and 75) but we’re supposed to be getting down into the 50s starting tonight. (Brrr. That’s about as cold as I want to see.)

Sunday is supposed to be a total wash-out which means it will either be a day of rest – or we’ll turn our attention inside.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Haunting View

"You have the heart of a writer and the eye of a photographer," one of my long-ago newspaper editors once told me. "That's probably why you ended up in journalism."

I like to think that assessment is true. My love affair with words has been lifelong. Almost as soon as I could tip a pencil well enough to make it move, I've been writing words. But, I've been a shutterbug most of my life, too. I owned a few cameras as a kid and have a small collection of childhood snapshots to my credit.

My love of photography was furthered through young adulthood by my love for a photographer. He definitely had some positive influence in making me better at picture-taking. (Turns out I had the eye of, but not the heart of, said photographer.)

I think (or I like to think anyway) that I am a better writer than photographer and that pictures are just a dalliance, not the true love that words are to me. But sometimes there are images I would nearly give my soul in order to capture just the way I see them. There are times that the picture really IS worth a thousand words. Today was one of those times.

As I walked across the bus station lot this morning, I saw it: the fully waxing moon with a smoky strip of gray cloud before it. And to top it off, I caught the best view of it just through two branches on a young tree at the bus station! Talk about perfect framing. The moon was situated just so, too.

If only I had known that the bus had broken down and we had a 10-minute wait before a replacement would come for us. That would have been more than enough time to set up a tripod and try like hell to capture what my eyes saw. I soaked it all in as the scene began to disappear, the nearly full moon swallowed almost whole by dark clouds on one half of the sky just as the other half was beginning to lighten, clearing a path for the morning sun.

Bits of the moon played peek-a-boo in the sky as the bus trundled toward downtown, teasing me, haunting me. Making me wish I could telepathically transmit the image in my head to a nearby printer ... Sigh.

Such are the limitations of human beings.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Trippin’ Over Time

And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun.
–“Time,” Pink Floyd

Or is it time that’s tripping over me? Hard to say. Whichever the case may be, I’m losing track of time. And lots of it. The easiest way to tell just how much time you’ve lost track of is to look at kids.

Take for instance that two of my dear friends, made grandmothers at an insanely young age, now have grandchildren that are each ONE YEAR OLD!!! (Little B in July and the MonkeyBaby just last week.)

The eldest of my oldest friends (she being the first one to get married and have a baby out of our high school gang of eight) is now mother to a 21-YEAR-OLD!!! I did the math and nearly went into cardiac arrest. 21? How the hell did that happen?

One of my cousin’s kids just turned 9. (She was born a week to the day of 9/11.) The youngest of my cousins’ kids, the-not-so-baby “baby” of the group? She’ll be FIVE this week!

And today … Well, not only is it the first day of fall, meaning that yet another summer has ended (one that I don’t even remember when it started), but it also means that another of my friend’s children is marking yet another milestone.

There’s a picture on a shelf in the family room of a rather surprised me (someone turned my own camera on me) holding an infant. He is small and dark-haired and unbelievably beautiful. But that was 1994.

Fast forward to today … He’s not so small (in fact, he’s quite tall!), still dark-haired, incredibly handsome and quite the jock. He is certainly not an infant! Where did this young man come from all of a sudden? Seems like yesterday he was pining for a golden retriever -- and got a baby brother instead.

Happy birthday, J! Good luck with your license. And try not to turn your mother gray.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sunny Side Up

If I had mowed the yard Sunday as I had planned to (before Mother Nature threw her little temper tantrum), the house would be lookin’ pretty good.

The mother has activated her perpetual paint brush and was out ‘til dusk touching up and repainting trim. I held the ladder for her and helped her reach one of the shutters. (I offered to do it but she shooed me away) I don’t know when she’ll get to the foundation. I think it’s supposed to be dry through tomorrow but around here, as Saturday night was a good reminder, you just never know.

It’s sticky this morning (humid and 74) so our summer weather continues. I’ll take it for as long as it wants to stay. It’s dark now when I leave and the sun is setting within an hour of when I get home. Summer is rapidly leaving the scene and I hate it.

I need to look and see when next month we go back to regular time. I really hate that as it will get me both leaving and coming home in the dark. Sigh.

On a positive note, the sky has a pink band running through it as the sun finishes putting on its face before emerging for the day. Maybe there will be a pretty sunrise ….

Yeah. That’s what I was lookin’ for!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Tagmaker

After trying my hand at card-marking with my new Slice, last week I did something that the mother specifically wanted: tags for some Halloween bags.

I had to make nine tags in all. I knew just the paper I could use: Halloween orange with black spiders and webs running throughout. I actually managed to cut 11 out of a 12x12 piece. The only bad thing was that there weren’t enough spiders on the page to allow for one to appear on each tag. The mother noticed this immediately.

“Why don’t some of them have spiders?” was the response I got when I showed her the finished products. I had a few ideas of things to do but it wasn’t happening that night, so I set them aside. On Friday night, during my evening adventure in shopping, I ended up having at least 20 minutes to kill before our carryout dinner was ready. I used part of the time to slink into Michael’s.

At first, I was very disappointed. I thought for sure there would be something in their Halloween selection. But no. Then on an end cap I spied some googly-eyed spiders. They were cute but not necessarily what I was after.

On a whim, I went to the “animals” section. Michael’s recently reordered their scrapbooking inventory, dividing it by theme instead of by type of product. It’s both a blessing and a curse. On this trip though, it proved to be a blessing.

I was just about to give up when I saw these Jolee stickers.
Aren’t they cool? There were three in a pack and there were exactly three packages left, meaning a total of NINE, just enough. And they were 40 percent off! It’s as though they were sitting and waiting for me.

The black spider comes with ornamentation but both the white and tan spiders look really plain. They looked plainer still once they were on the tags.

Suddenly, I remembered that I had removed – and kept – some orange stones from a decorative Halloween paper. (I wanted the area where I was putting photos to be flat and since that space would be covered, I scraped them off.)

I popped them on the tan spiders and voila! Cool. I was very happy.

I still have to find something to finish off the white spiders. I have some tiny rhinestones and some other colored stones to explore before making my decision.

What do you think?

I’m pretty happy with what can be done with two single sheets of paper, a few stickers and a few stones.
Yep. Lovin’ the Slice! I now have 11 design cards and two more on the way. (Both were great deals at 60 and 70 percent off respectively.) I think I’ll be getting to put them to good use. And I swear I will never again kid the MonkeyGirl about her obsession with all things Cricut. I’ve just been bitten by a bug of another size and shape!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mother Nature Changes Everything

Not long after my last post, I walked into the kitchen where the shuttered window remained open. As I neared it to close the shutters, it was like a camera flash exploded in my face.

It was lightning. The forecast, that on Friday had called for dry weather through the middle of the following week, had since been altered to include thunderstorms, some severe, on Saturday night, early today and again this afternoon. On the news, they were saying that places 30-40 minutes west of us were getting huge hail.


We’d left a few things outside with plans to use them again today. I slipped on my flip flops and ventured outside to put them into the shed. It was already starting to sprinkle. The lightning was constant and beautiful. Captivated, I lingered briefly to watch it up close and personal. Since it wasn’t really raining yet, I’d have loved to have set up the tripod and tried to capture it but I know that the mother would have thrown a fit. (It really wouldn’t have been smart, but it was soooo beautiful.) I can only remember a handful of times in my life where I’ve seen it like this, but even then, I don’t think it lasted for both as long or as spectacularly.

The thunder sounded like Armageddon. It and the lightning raged on for hours. I finally went to bed and managed to sleep in spite of it. The thunder has resumed this morning, bringing some rain but nothing major. I’ve not glimpsed any lightning yet.

The good news is that I didn’t wash the car. If I had pushed to wash it yesterday I’d be really angry right now. As it stands, I’ll be lounging a bit (I’ve already managed to sleep in which was delicious.) Even though I’d woke up early (thanks to the thunder) and grabbed some Tylenol while I was at it, I’m still a little sore.

I could turn my attention inside as it’s not like there aren’t plenty of things I could do. Somehow though, I think I’ll putter.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

This Clean D*mn House

Well, at least on the outside ... we spent the day washing it. I even made a major dent in scrubbing the fence.

This is something we normally do once a year, and usually if not during Memorial Day weekend, then by Fourth of July. It was delayed this year, in part to weather but primarily to the roadwork that has been going on sporadically this year. We didn't want to wash the house, only to have it immediately covered in destruction/construction dust.

But now the house is clean. At least for a day or two. But it is also ready for the mother to do her magic by painting the concrete foundation. I'm sure it will be on her agenda for next week.

On my agenda for tomorrow: Finish washing the fence, wash Pearl and yard work.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Laws of Leaves

I wish that I was in charge of making laws that govern leaves. It would be quite simple as there would only be one rule: DO NOT FALL IN MY YARD or anywhere else on my property. Ever.

For the past several mornings, I have watched single leaves waft down from trees as I drive into the station. It won’t be long before they begin to congregate in mass piles, many of which will be deposited in my yard. Ugh. (My hatred of leaves is well documented. I even wrote a poem about it last year.)

Some folks seem to be getting a jump on leaf management. Somewhere in my neighborhood the other night, someone was burning leaves. The smoke left a thin veil over the entire area. The acrid smell irritates my throat and lungs.

That’s probably why the American Lung Association has been fighting for decades against this practice. And, why it has been outlawed in many communities. Including mine. But for whatever reason, that doesn’t seem to discourage people from doing it.

Several years ago, I watched someone a block away building a huge fire to dispose of a massive pile of leaves. That particularly evening, the wind was pretty vicious. It turned the fire into an inferno, depositing flaming piles on cars and neighboring properties. At one point, the fire burned so uncontrollably, I thought their garage would go up for sure. Ultimately, someone called the fire department or I’m sure that it would have.

Another leaf disposal method that drives me insane and is just as illegal, at least in my town, is leaf-blowing. We have an ordinance making it illegal to blow debris – including leaves and grass – into the street. Yet several of my neighbors do it every year. Between their efforts and Mother Nature’s, I probably clear out a dozen bagfuls of their leaves every year. (We have no trees. Not one. We just get all the leaves.)

So, what are you supposed to do with them? My answer is to mow and mulch or rake and bag. (My community has a yard waste facility where they turn it all into compost.

As fall edges closer and closer (just a matter of days now) we’ll all be facing this annual challenge soon enough. Now might be a good time to explore your options, if you don’t already know what the laws are surrounding them. I wish that some of my neighbors would.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

That Email Wasn't from ME

Apologies to the at least dozen people who got some kind of a weblink via email from someone masquerading as This D*mn House. Google acted quickly, shutting down my blog for a while today. (Imagine my surprise while trying to log in and being greeted with a "this blog has been deleted" message!)

On Gmail, I was informed there has been "suspicious activity" on my account. That's when I saw the email that went out to a variety of individuals that are apparently in my Google address book. I AM SO SORRY. I am not sure how this happened.

So, if you see that email from my email address and it's without a subject line and contains only a Web link, PLEASE DELETE IT immediately!

A Little Cooperation

My legs and back haven't quite returned to normal from the yard-athon but I know that I've got a lot of work ahead for the weekend.

While I'd much rather be scrapbooking on Saturday (sorry, MEF), I will more than likely be scrubbing the house and carport down. Then, the mother can paint the concrete around the base and I can repair the carport ceiling and paint it. (During one of the winter/spring storms, a piece of wood trim was ripped off the ceiling, taking a good deal of paint along with it.

Looks like we can plan such outdoor projects as long as Mother Nature cooperates the way the forecast says she is going to. So, hey, c'mon Lady ...

After those projects, maybe some gingerbread and then it will be back inside to clear things out and ideally get back to the kitchen and bath projects that never seem to end.

On a totally unrelated note, I spied the date ... Happy Anniversary to the Monkeygirls on 4 years of wedded bliss. Love ya both!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Deal with Driveway Issues Now

One of the things I noticed during Sunday's yard work marathon was that the driveway is looking a little shabby. That really bites it considering that it has been not quite two years since I sealed it.

I'm going to have to look up the brand and avoid it in the future. (Because I'm sure it was supposedly a four or more years formula. Yeah. Right.) It sure doesn't look like this anymore! This is right after I'd applied the sealer in October 2008. Makes me sad.

And, before I sealed it, I did a lot of prep and repair work. Or I can imagine how much worse it would probably look. That said, with fall literally a few days away, now is definitely the time to do things like driveway repair. Old Man Winter will be blowin’ in before we know it. Sigh.

To keep an asphalt driveway both sound and looking good, especially one that is several years old like mine, annual maintenance is a necessity. You can’t leave large cracks exposed during the winter or you may not have a driveway left by spring!

A lot of people seal their driveways this time of year. You’ve still got time. Most driveway seals can be applied as long as it's 55 degrees or warmer outside. However, depending on how bad of shape your driveway is in, you may need time to repair it and to allow those repairs to cure before you can seal it. (This can take two days or even two weeks depending on what method you use.)

So, I offer these tips from a post I did a few years ago.

Can I Go Home Now?

All I wanted to do was go home.

While Monday had zipped by before I knew it, Tuesday dragged on and on and on. After adventures in yardwork Sunday, I came home Monday night to find that the mother had cut the three remaining juniper bushes and the mess was strewn out over half the yard – the yard I had mowed and gotten all the debris up out of barely 24 hours before.

I wanted to strangle her.

Instead, I bagged up the mess and loaded it and the other two brimming bags from Sunday and went to the dump. I made it there barely 10 minutes before it closed. The dragging, lugging and tugging was NOT fun, aggravating my already active pain points.

Still aching from Sunday, Monday night was torture. Each time I bent over to scoop up debris my back protested. So, on Tuesday night, my big plan was to go home and rest and do absolutely nothing else. I even snuck out of the office a few minutes early and snagged dinner. They managed to get my order done in enough time for me to make it to my usual bus stop. All seemed right with the world.

The bus was almost on time which was a miracle considering that ballgame traffic was beginning to clog downtown streets. But the good of it all seemed to end the second I got on the bus. Before I could even get situated, the driver laid on the gas, forcing her to stomp the brakes at the light a few feet away. A small container of mashed potatoes went hurtling to the floor, cracked open and dumped some of its contents. Sh*t.

I scooped up the container to salvage what I could and got a fistful of potatoes for my trouble. There I was, right hand covered in potatoes, left hand trying to find a napkin inside the bag with the rest of the food while simultaneously trying to keep that bag and my work bag from tumbling into the floor as the driver, hellbent on giving us whiplash, continued her race. I couldn’t locate any loose napkins but finally hit upon a plasticware set with a napkin inside. Have you ever tried to open one of those things with one hand? I’m sure I was producing quite the slapstick comedy by that point.

We were nearly out of downtown by the time I had managed the mess and gotten the bag securely tied and loaded into the seat. It’s at that point that I think I first heard the driver talking to HQ on her mike. “But there’s nowhere safe to pull over.” She got a garbled response and then muttered, “10-4.”

She gunned onto the 1-70 ramp and down the highway. At the exit, and just about at the foot of the bridge, she pulled the bus to the curb. The bus was leaking antifreeze and by this point, had none left. I’m glad she had the sense to insist that she didn’t try to make it over the bridge. It would have been much worse to have been stranded on a bus in the middle of a two-lane bridge at rush hour. As it was, we were blocking traffic trying to get to the bridge from the off-ramp.

While they did send another bus to get us, it was actually the next bus, 30 minutes later, that gave us a ride. (The bus they’d dispatched pulled up behind us as we were exiting the bus at the station.) Luckily, there were no trains or any other obstacles between there and home. It could have been a lot worse so I was grateful that it wasn’t.

It always seems to be the days you want to get home the most where you seem to get the least cooperation in making it happen. This has to be part of the premise on which Murphy’s Law is based.

Monday, September 13, 2010

13 Years Later

In early September 1997, I had to do one of the hardest things I've ever done: I had to choose to have our 11.5-year-old Yorkie put down. Scruffy and I had a love/hate relationship from Day One. (He growled at me when I held him for the first time -- and he was just two days old!)

It never got that much better after we picked him up six weeks later. But, as he got older, he mellowed a bit and by the time he got seriously ill, just a few weeks before his death, we'd gotten been pretty good chums for quite a while.

So, 13 years ago today, I was still devastated and convinced that I never wanted another dog. I never wanted to be put through that emotional turmoil ever again. But less than a week later, the mother was insistent and finally, that fateful Saturday morning, I agreed to go and look at puppies. Just to look.

How could I have known though that this would be the face that would greet me?

This would be the face that would snuggle my shoulder for hours, kiss me every time I asked, "Are you lovey?" and ultimately melt my heart during the course of a morning. I could not leave there without him. And, 13 years later, I'm so very glad I didn't!

At 13 weeks, Ozzie officially became a part of our family. That first week was quite rought. He cried ALL night, every night, no matter how we tried to console him. (I was reminded of this after getting a gander at ty'smommy's new babies.) We laugh now saying he'd cry like that if he wasn't with us!

He's not the brightest bulb in the pack, but he is one of the most loving creatures I've ever had the joy to be around. (Unless you happen to be the mailman.) He has a very healthy appetite and he likes almost anything (mushrooms and tomatoes not withstanding.)

He's no youngster anymore. He has good days and bad days. Some days he can barely walk. Others, he's as playful as any pup ever dared be. He's been there to comfort me on some very dark days and been only too happy to celebrate when brighter times returned. He continues to be my little shadow, no matter how he feels. He's the first face I see in the morning and the last one I see at night.

The bottom line: he adores me.

The feeling is certainly mutual.

On Burning Books, Moving Mosques

(Author’s note: I wrote this post last week. I had intended to publish it on Saturday. There was so much vitriol and insanity on the topic, not to mention changes, by Friday that I didn’t post it. Over the weekend, I saw so many great (including this from Why S? – and not so great – posts, I decided to go ahead and post my two cents. For what it’s worth, I give you this rather lengthy rant …)

“Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.”

-- Heinrich Heine

By the time I hit ‘publish’ on this post, the circumstances may well have changed again. But, at least for now, the “minister” in Florida who was planning a 9/11 observance of “International Burn a Koran Day” has either canceled or postponed the event.

Chalk up a point for rational behavior. Well, sort of.

He made this magnanimous gesture supposedly only after “securing agreement” that the controversial Islamic center, planned just a few blocks from Manhattan’s Ground Zero, would be moved. “We got what we wanted,” he proclaimed before TV cameras on Thursday (Sept. 9.) Really? Endangering the lives of our troops, hell of any American, and of giving the United States the image of a truly intolerant society. Is that really what you wanted? Nice going, Rev.

I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise from a man who admittedly has never read the Qur’an yet wrote a book decrying Islam as “evil.” Let’s make some assumptions then, based on this path of illogic:
· One of the most radical acts of terrorism ever committed on U.S. soil was committed by Timothy McVeigh, a former Catholic altar boy. All Catholics then must be terrorists.
· Then there’s the Army of God, self-proclaimed Christians with claimed members responsible for multiple murders of abortion clinic staff through shooting sprees and facility bombings during the past two decades. Christians who, on their website, declare those convicted in these crimes as “heroes.” We can conclude then that all prolifers are terrorists.
· For more than a century, the Ku Klux Klan organization has wrapped themselves as tightly in “Christian” tenets as they have in their trademark white sheets. They are credited with hundreds, if not thousands, of acts of terror, predominantly against African-Americans, but against a variety of others, too. Of all things, they burn crosses and bomb and burn churches. Yes, good Christians those guys. Even better terrorists. So, we could deduce that all Christians are terrorists.

Does it sound crazy enough to you yet? If it doesn’t , please note that I hoped it would.

What I find so ironic is that, using this same line of illogic, Jesus then could be declared evil, too. What the good pastor would know –if he’d bothered to crack the cover of the Qur’an instead of zealously wishing to set it ablaze —is that Jesus is covered in those pages. (One key distinction though: He’s recognized as a revered prophet, not as the son of God.) Now there’s a piece of “logic” I’d love to force feed the good pastor!

There seems to be all kinds of controversy and confusion. And despite the cancellation, there is a string of copycat burnings that will still go on. One of them is from the crazies out of Kansas who regularly heckle and jeer at mourners outside funeral services for fallen soldiers. Could we expect any less from these wingnuts? Probably not.

These are some of the same people who always get in on the “separation of church and state” debates, talking about how the nation was founded on religious freedom. Really? Oh. Wait. It only applies to your religion. Nevermind. I get it. How very patriotic of you!

The timing of these threats couldn’t be worse. First, it’s occurring during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Second, it’s gotten more attention thanks to the controversy surrounding the planned Not-at-Ground-Zero- but-within-a-few-blocks-of-the-site Islamic community center.

And finally, of course, is the pending anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy itself.

The images from different protests in recent days are both hateful and misguided. It frightens me that this is not only the “acceptance” we are showing to those Americans who also happen to be Muslims but to those all around the world. (Depending on whose numbers you believe, American Muslims range from nearly 2 million to as many as 7 million.) It would be a lot like having a grand wizard from the KKK as your front man.

What’s most frightening to me is that much of the world to which these images are being beamed does not understand the concept of “free speech.” If it’s being broadcast, then they are taking it as a wholesale view of the American government and its population, as the two are synonymous to them. Maybe that belief isn’t entirely misplaced. After all, we have a very vocal part of America who believes our president would gladly enact fundamental Islamic law, given the chance. *stops to shake head and roll eyes* A man who taught constitutional law for 12 years … Sigh.

A few days ago, I overheard part of a conversation that I just can’t shake. In it, one man told another man that he didn’t understand all the hoopla about decrying Islam. “It’s not like we’re threatening to put them in concentration camps,” he said to his buddy. I had to remove myself from the line because I knew I could not stand next to this man without creating a scene. Besides, I guess he has his rights to his ignorance.

I guess that history has taught us nothing. There are plenty of examples of the divisive role of religious beliefs throughout history. It has repeatedly been used as a means to vilify entire populations. The Romans did it to the Christians. The English did it to the Irish (insert several other ethnicities here). American colonists did it to Native American Indians. The Nazis used it against the Jews. Such is the arrogance of “my god is better than your god.”

And the quote at the top of this post? Quite prophetic, considering that Heine, a German poet, journalist and essayist, penned the line in 1821. More than a century later, in 1933, the book containing it was among some 20,000 set ablaze by the Nazis. (And I think we all know what came after that.) Clearly, religious persecution and intolerance has an established place in history.

If only we could leave it there.

Dead Woman Walking

I’m convinced that the only reason I am mobile today is through the miracle that is Tylenol. Even though the adult-proof cap was quite a struggle in and of itself.

And the only reason that I am on the bus is a combination of the traffic gods stopping me at only one light for a change (instead of half a dozen) and the previously reformed bus driver resorting to her old ways and is a few minutes late.

I hurt horribly thanks to more than eight hours of yard work yesterday. I took on the evil and way overgrown juniper bushes in the backyard, managing to tame five of the eight. (If I had my way, I’d have asked the Monkeygirls if they would do a repeat performance of removing Hell’s Shrubbery. But no. This vicious vegetation will be allowed to remain.) I do hate yardwork and needless work, like shrubbery, is the most vile.

Just as it was really starting to get dark, I rolled the mower back in the shed and did a look around to ensure I hadn’t left anything out. The mother, however, was undeterred by the darkness and continued her adventures in weeding. I tried to discourage her but opted instead to save my energy for something more useful. I hurried inside, lest I become dinner for the mosquitoes that were already biting while the sun remained up.

It was hard to get comfortable last night and the few times I managed it, it was impossible to stay that way. At one point I sprang awake, Not sure what awakened me but when I hit the snooze bar (which doubles as a light on the clock) it said 4:12. Just as I was getting comfortable and starting to doze, I was stirred by a very obnoxious train whistle in the distance. (The mother was recently lamenting that she couldn’t hear them anymore like we did at the old house where we lived a block and a field away from a trainyard. I wish she could have heard this one instead of me.)

So, I’m achy and sore, sleep-deprived and uncaffeinated. What kind of mood do you think I’m in this morning?

It's going to take a lot of Tylenol.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Cardmaker

I only worked (at my day job) two days last week. But they were long, eventful and jam-packed days with even more activity on the horizon for the week ahead.

So, after pushing for a few days here and for a few days at work, by Friday night, I was exhausted. I was in bed early and up early (for a Saturday) yesterday. I went on my own shopping adventure and the mother felt well enough later to request one of her own. So, it was run, run, run all day.

Last night though, I got to play with my Slice and try my hand at homemade cards. I've done this before on the printer, but never with the pain-staking piece by piece effort that goes into handmade. I think they turned out pretty good.

I was able to take advantage of my vast collection of scrapbooking flourishes on a few of them, but these were largely made using my growing collection of Slice design cards. I even got to incorporate my photography. (My full moon shot from a few weeks ago is featured on the Halloween card.)

I'm sure this is the first of many such adventures because it's so much FUN! It should bring some welcome distraction to everything that needs to be done around This D*mn House though I'm continuing to make slow progress there, too.

Friday, September 10, 2010

And the Prize Goes to ...

OK. It’s the moment some of you have been waiting for, the time I announce the latest giveaway winner.

Thank you for the comments, the tweets and RTs and blog entries. It is your participation that makes these giveaways happen.

Congratulations to … CD! She has won the $50 gift certificate to CSN Stores. (It seems only appropriate that should choose her entry number as the giveaway started last week on her birthday.) In our third and final giveaway of the summer, it is also the first time that a prize has gone to someone I know in real-time. I will be sending you instructions and other information to claim your prize via email.)

Congratulations and enjoy!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Catchin' Up

Apparently, there have been a few changes while I’ve been gone. Either that, or I’ve awakened in another world.

The jackass in the truck who usually takes up at least two spaces? Parked just as he should be, confined to a single space. I easily parked right next to him. Even the little red car that often parks ON the line was perfectly aligned in its space. Wow.

The bigger shock was that the bus pulled from the station ON TIME. Now, this is the driver who is late every day. Must have been some kind of shake-up while I was away. Of course, it has been a week since I rode the bus. (Last Friday, I drove.) Interesting developments.

It will be fun to see if anything has actually changed at the office. (or maybe not fun; I guess I’ll find out.) I know that I have at least one package waiting for me. (TWO Slice cartridges. Those were my most recent purchases. I haven’t bought any in more than a week. I may start twitching soon.)

Side note: I got quite a deal on that purchase because I turned some long unused gift cards into credit using It was quick. It was easy. It was painless. And they paid out the best of any of the three or four gift card swap companies I checked out. So, don’t let those cards languish until you lose them!

Yesterday, I was able to fill handle holes and sand cabinet doors. This reminds me, I never did tell you what I bought myself for my birthday. We’ve got a lot of tools to catch up on …

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Step Toward Organization

I eased into yesterday morning, but in its final hour, things took off.

I picked Toby's medicine up and then gunned north to take Pearl in for some work. I arrived ahead of my appointment -- and was there nearly 90 minutes past the promised time. But, in fairness, that place was like an insane asylum. They were apologetic and put two techs on the job to speed things up.

The good news is that it was a lovely day weatherwise and I was within walking distance of both a Target and a mall. I walked and walked and walked. I even got to browse, for nothing in particular, not something I do very much. I took the opportunity to pick up a no special reason card for a friend and MAILED it.

One thing I did happen upon during my visit to Target (pronouned Tar-zhAY)was pretty cool. It's a rather large accordion folder. Its cover is a collage of antique bills of sale, that's what really caught my eye. Isn't it cool?!

It had a notebook that matched it and I couldn't resist either of them. (Folder: $12.99' notebook: $2.50.) I thought the items were well priced.

While I was still in store, the longer I looked at it, the more I thought of our seriously over-burdened "bill drawer." I had to retrieve something from it the other day and I couldn't find it.

What I did find was a variety of crap and junk mail and long ago paid bill stubs. So, the biggest selling point for this purchase was its dozen HUGE folders. See?

These give you lots of options for organizing household items. I'm pondering a monthly system (since there are 12 pockets in total). Or, I could do categories like HOUSE, CAR, UTILITIES, WARRANTIES, HEALTH. Up to 12 different ones.

For things like utilities, I could purge the folder at least annually. And maybe biannually for all other categories. It would get all that crap and clutter OUT of the drawer, freeing up the drawer, and ideally, making the paperwork easier to find.

Another thing I haven't figured out yet is where the folder will live once it is filled. Hmmm. Well, I at least got through step one of trying to get organized and actually accomplish something during my time off. This purchase alone made my shopping adventure worthwhile.

And just a programming note ... I still have a FABULOUS GIVEAWAY going on. Be sure to enter soon as I'll be announcing the winner on Friday!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Repair, Replace, Repaint

Sunday was the day of clearing and cleaning. I cleared the yard of its overgrowth and edged the entire front including driveway, walkway and sidewalk. Then, I had to sweep up the mess.

It was not fun. And not assisted by my neighbor across the street, who, after watching me dutifully clean up the mess I’d created on my sidewalk, nonchalantly used a blower to spew his debris into the street. (I refrained from reminding him that this is a practice prohibited by ordinance.) An occasional strong wind brought large chunks of it my way. Nice.

While I was mowing, Lawnmower Man was cutting my neighbor’s yard. (Which was nuts because he had just cut it on SATURDAY.) He did a weird zigzag as he reached the edge of property and without lifting the blade, drove into my yard. I said nothing.

I ran my mower down the row again, hoping to erase the curly-Q. Just as I reached the other side of the yard, he did it AGAIN. This time, the cut was beginning to resemble a crop circle. I swore, gritted my teeth and ran my mower back along the property line, hoping to erase his erratic markings.

I couldn’t believe it when he repeated his madman’s path a third time. “Could you PLEASE stop doing that?!” I shouted, but I don’t think he heard me. I went inside to keep from killing him.

I ate lunch before resuming work. After that, I washed both cars. It was a full day.
Monday was all about repairing. I repaired the shed. I fixed the drain on the bathroom sink and cleared a clog in the bathtub. I won’t belabor this point as I really don’t want to discuss the disgusting mess I took out of that drain! Let’s just say I get why plumbers are well paid.

I also repaired the shed and did some minor paint touch-ups on both cars. The weather was sunny and warm today (we got to 90) so my wishes for the weekend were met. However, I should have clarified that steady 20 mph winds, coupled with gusts well over 35 mph, were not conducive to anything I was doing or anything I wanted to do. The wind would occasionally flip the trim I was trying to sand and paint. I finally gave up.

The wind persisted all afternoon. Sometime after 5, it relented and I worked until nearly dark at sanding some of the last of the cabinet doors. It was not at all the day I had planned.

Today is about more routine things but not specifically for the house. I have to get up early, at least for a bit, because it is trash day, thanks to the holiday. I have to take cans in for recycling. I have to pick meds up for Toby at the vet. I have to take Pearl to the dealer for recall work and warranteed maintenance. Not sure how much time all that will leave me for anything else. Sigh.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Getting Started

I have five days off. FIVE. I have lots of things I want to do and many others I need to do. It will be interesting to see how I fare.

At this point, I'm easing into my time off. But I'm getting ready to do go get some supplies. (There is next to nothing to eat in this house!) It was a rough week and I really need to shake it off. So far, the beautiful weather forecast is holding. So far.

I'm hoping to get a lot of things packed up and moved out of the way. My hope is spend at least some time on the bathroom and kitchen and make some noticeable progress.

But, I also have an untended yard to deal with.

So, Happy Labor Day, everyone! May your plans pan out, whatever they may be.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Don't Miss Out -- It's a Giveaway!

I love bargains. I think it must be genetic.

Several years ago, when I worked part-time at the former Famous-Barr, they would occasionally have “family days.” Your standard 20 percent employee discount (10 percent on electronics and a few other categories) suddenly became 30 percent. Combine that with some usually very good sale prices and it could be bargain central.

During one of these events, the store was having a HUGE cooking sale. The mother had her eye on a set of Le Creuset cookware. The stuff is not cheap now, nor was it then. Between the sale and my discount though, I think I could have scored the set she wanted for $60 or $70, a princely sum in early-1980s dollars, but a real deal. The problem was that the mother didn’t bring any of this up until I had already made other weekend plans.

So, being 16 or 17, I blew it off. I was hangin' out with my friends and the mother did not get her cookware. That's been more than 25 years ago and I still hear about it. Frequently.

What's the moral of this story? DON'T PASS UP A GOOD THING. You'll live to regret it.

That's why you MUST get in on my holiday giveaway. One winner will get a $50 gift credit to CSN Stores to spend however you wish! With more than 200 online stores to pick from, it shouldn't be hard to find something to love.

This contest will work just like previous giveaways. By helping to spread the word, you can earn additional entries. Winner will be announced on Friday, Sept. 10. So, make sure you have all of your entries in by 11:59 p.m. CDT on Thursday, Sept.9!There are THREE ways to get your name in the hat. Please note, while you can do all three, you can do each ONLY ONCE (for a maximum total of 21 entries). And please, no SPAM comments. They will be ignored. Here’s how to enter:
· Leave a comment on this post – 1 entry (post-related ONLY, please)
· Tweet this post’s link – 5 entries
· Write a blog post – 15 entries (your post must contain a link to the contest post)

So, if you win, what would YOU buy? Good luck and happy shopping!

(One fine print caveat: The gift card is good for merchandise only. It cannot be used toward shipping costs. Winner is responsible for any shipping costs.)