Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday Adventures

After my pre-dawn Thanksgiving shopping adventure, I came home, stayed up watching TV and talking to the mother (after displaying all my bargains) until after 2.

Because I still had pies to bake, I was back up by 9. Once I'd baked pies, I was on my feet most of the rest of the day preparing the rest of the holiday fare. Then, it was carving up the bird and cleaning up the mess. UGH. The good news is that it's just us so there's no one to notice the state of this house.

The bad news is that it takes just as many dishes to fix the stuff as if you had a crowd. Then, I was back in bed by 8, up by midnight and out the door by 2 a.m.! We did SO awesome that I’m still stunned. We were in and out of Kohl’s in UNDER AN HOUR. Kudos to Kohl's for passing out maps, having extra staff guiding people to the sale flyer products and helping to maintain a crowd.

We got LOTS of great gifts, more stuff for charity program, a few things for ourselves and even SNAGGED A CART!!!

We went to Target immediately after but it was bedlam, so we fled. Then we went to Wal-Mart where I got more toys. The lines there were shockingly short as everyone was waiting for the 5 a.m. electronics deals to start. Then we just sat in the car in front of Michael’s waiting for them to open ‘til 6. Got out of there by 7, grabbed breakfast, came home, unloaded and I was back in bed by 10.

I slept 'til about 1:30, puttered around the house for an hour or so ... and then got dressed and went back. Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment. The mother was having a severe case of "non-buyer's remorse" where by she didn't buy something and was now really wanting it (she does this a lot; it makes me crazy). And then, an item I'd bought two of -- one as a gift, one for me -- while still in the bag, hit the floor and totally shattered. I was pretty upset.

My return trip was MUCH better than the first. Kohl's and Target were a breeze and I got all I went for. They had the much desired item at Michael's for the mother and I got a few more things for me while I was at it. I even used some of my finds to make some cards earlier tonight, so all in all, a VERY good day.

However you spent Friday, I hope it was at least as good!

Friday, November 26, 2010

And the Madness Begins

OK. That's not entirely accurate. The madness actually started in the wee hours of Thursday.

Yes, I was at Walgreens in the final minutes of Wednesday night. I've never done a Thanksgiving Day sale before. But this one was for a good cause, our charity program. They had some hard to believe deals on namebrand toys from the likes of Disney, Leap Frog and FisherPrice. Otherwise, I doubt I would have gone out at 11:30 on the night before Thanksgiving. In a thunderstorm.

I also bought a memory foam pillow for me. I haven't used it yet but I'll let you know. While others were sleeping or prepping for their Thanksgiving meal, I was in line at Walgreens. I was lucky enough to be among the early arrivals. It was strange how empty the lot was when I pulled in. It wouldn't stay that way for very long.

Fifteen minutes later, it began to resemble a mob scene. Aisles were full and I have NEVER seen carts at Walgreens SO OVERLOADED. It was nuts. It made me question how smart a choice it was to be there when two shoppers began arguing over a single candle. And I saw more than one shopper eyeballing the Leap Frog toy in my cart, the only to be found on the shelf when I got there. But shoppers were otherwise sedate and polite. No violence ensued.

I got home safe, mostly dry, and with almost all I set out for.

It would be the first phase of Adventures in Holiday Shopping.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dead Phone Strikes Again!

This time last night I was just getting home from work for the second time.

I ended up staying later so I called the mother to tell her and to remind her that I still needed to stop to pick up a few Thanksgiving-related items. The line was busy so I called her cell.

When I told her I just wanted to say I'd be late and I wasn't going to keep her because I knew she was on the phone -- except she wasn't.

DEAD PHONE strikes again!

Ordinarily this would be just frustrating. Last night it was excruciating. I had plans to work on some stuff for work that couldn't wait 'til morning and that required me to be online. Uh-oh. Of all the bleepin' times.

I made a trouble report via my cell and went through the same stupid process I had in October when this happened. This time though, the automated system acknowledged trouble on the line. Since it wasn't until the next morning that service was restored when this happened last time, I knew I couldn't take the chance.

I drove back to the office.

It actually wasn't bad. XM was treating me to some great tunes and the 20-minute trip was quick and easy. I spent a little over an hour at the office before returning home. I had worked off most of the frustration by then.

On a whim, as I fixed my dinner, I picked up the receiver of the kitchen phone. To my utter shock, there was a DIAL TONE. This is some strange and frustrating crap!

Just like last month, a tech arrived early this morning. He could not isolate the problem. So, I'm bracing myself for next time it occurs.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Help

Joe has a history of abuse that compares to A Child Called It. Joe, 46, is illiterate although he made it through the 11th grade after leaving his abusive family at age 15. He and wife Mary are doing the best with what they have to parent their five children differently than he was raised. He works whenever he can find "fix it" type jobs while Mary provides in-home healthcare services for the elderly. Their income is very low to provide for a family of seven. Joe states his father burned whatever Christmas gifts they may have received from others when he was a child. You have the ability to help him once again experience the true magic and meaning of this beautiful season.

Every year, I think that there can’t be a family or person we will help that can possibly break my heart as much as a case from the year before did.

And every year, I am wrong. There is just an unbelievable amount of suffering in the world. Joe (not his real name) really hit me square in the heart this year. It’s a toss-up between his family and the plight of 10-year-old Jack (also not his real name).

Jack and his young half-sister have been bounced around from family member to family member to state care depending on the status of their drug-addicted mother. Before moving in with her latest paramour, the family was living in a car. She is now getting help and trying to establish a household for her children.

Sometime between the time I received this and last week, that all changed. The mother is back off track and the two children have been taken from her, but separated into two different homes. These kids are 10 and 7 and they’ve already seen more of the world’s nasty underbelly in their short little lives than some people will see in a lifetime. Some people have no idea how fortunate they are to be unacquainted with "the ways of the world."

These are just two of this year’s sad cases. The good news is that I know about them. The better news is that I have colleagues who are at least as touched by these stories as I am each year. And when I ask them to help me, 99.99 percent of them ask simply “what” and “when.” I am fortunate enough to be the name and face behind our office's annual holiday charity program. I’ve been active in the program for a decade now and heading it up in some way for about half those years.

I can’t fix Jack’s mother. I can’t wipe out Joe’s troubled childhood. But the best news? I can make this a MUCH brighter holiday and get 2012 off to a happier start for them. How can I do that?

Because I’m one bad*ss elf – surrounded by dozens of super-powered Santas.

(Photo of NV , yep that is yours truly, courtesy of The MonkeyGirl. Elf costume created by sewwhat – mother of The MonkeyGirl. )

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday, Monday

If I hadn’t seen so many people in my neighborhood raking leaves and/or putting up holiday decorations yesterday, I would never believe that it’s November. Especially not this morning as the mercury hovers above 65 at 6 a.m. and we’re supposed to hit the mid-70s this afternoon.

It poured briefly earlier --long enough and hard enough to wake me up. But it's not raining now so no complaints from me. I’ll take this weather for as long as I can get it. (I was SO meant to be born on a coast somewhere, a place where snow comes only in a can or on Christmas cards.)

It was windy and in the mid-60s yesterday. (The wind persists today.) I got just enough of a jump on the day yesterday to complete the touch-ups on Ladybird. I was at the carwash just before noon and buffing her down shortly thereafter. I was applying paint about an hour later.

I didn’t know that there was going to be a Phase 3 to the outdoor stuff, but there is. In between coasts of paint with Ladybird yesterday, I was working on it. I had hoped that, like our neighbors, it was going to include holiday decorations, but we didn’t get that far. It’s really looking good though. Maybe we can do that over the long weekend. (But not until the weekend because today’s summer breeze is supposed to collapse into all-out winter in just a few days. UGH.)

I forgot to change the dead batteries in my camera so I didn’t get any photos of the “new” stuff I put up yesterday, but since there’s still more to come, I guess that’s appropriate. Stay tuned…

Friday, November 19, 2010

Toys for Grown-Ups

As I sit here typing this, it is all I can do to maintain a straight face.

There is a Dyson commercial on TV and the mother is completely taken with it. “Oh, man,” I hear her say longingly. As I look up, I am delighted to see a particular canister model. Delighted because I know something that she does not: one is on its way to This D*mn House!

Yes, earlier this week, I took the Dyson plunge. (Sorry, Kenmore. You just don’t make the vacuums you once did.) I bought a DC23 canister for the mother. She doesn’t like uprights, so it had to be a canister. She’s been grumbling a lot lately about the compact Kenmore canister we’ve had for three or four years. And, I have to admit, it’s grumbling that’s completely justified.

So, it just happened that made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I had a 12 percent off coupon on top off a Dyson sale they were having. Bagless and with a washable filter, and for a price about $100 more than a high-end Kenmore, Eureka or Bissell, it was just too hard to refuse.

Yeah, it’s really hard to keep a straight face. Expect a review one of these days as I definitely plan to put this bad boy through the paces. I want to know I’m getting my money’s worth, that’s for sure.

This isn’t the only piece of modern technology to make its way to This D*mn House in recent weeks.

I recently marked my 10th anniversary with my employer. For this milestone, I got to choose an appreciation gift. I was torn between two things: a Kindle and a Garmin GPS system.

Some of my real world companions can attest to my lack of direction. It’s a frustration I can’t begin to describe. I’m not stupid and yet I am made to feel so on a regular basis when I try to navigate.

It was a hard choice to make but I ultimately opted for the Garmin. I didn’t expect it to arrive for a few weeks. And I thought it would come by mail. Instead, it appeared last week, on my desk! It didn’t come with a case – which is important to keep it from getting scratched up – nor with an AC adapter. I remedied that this week. In fact, the case arrived yesterday and the adapter is en route.

So, expect reviews in the not so distant reviews. Of course, where the Dyson is concerned, the most important opinion, belongs to the mother.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Friday, Right? D*mn!

It is cool and damp out this morning. (Low 40s, and intermittent showers overnight) The sky is cloudy and dark.

No stellar sunrises to witness today. And I feel like I was hit by a truck.

That’s due partly to being really, really busy (both at work and at home) this week and to a fire drill we had yesterday. That meant 19 flights of stairs out of the building, walking a few blocks and then standing around for almost 45 minutes before we were finally told we could dispatch to anywhere except back into the building. Luckily, it was getting onto lunchtime by then so I had no problem walking around the corner.

Returning to the building with my lunch, I was greeted by an overflow crowd outside. People were packing the few elevator cars in use and it was going to be a while. So, like an idiot, I jumped when building maintenance opened the first floor door to the stairs. (The other door where we exited leads outside and you can’t get back in there.)

I got a little winded after the first eight floors, but hey, I can handle it. (Did I mention I’m still recovering from bronchitis? Did I mention I’m an idiot?) I stopped briefly and sipped my soda before taking on two more flights.

10th Floor. Massive coughing fit ensued. Sipped my soda a bit more in between bouts. A few minutes later, I trudged up two more flights. At 12, I said screw it and used my access card. (It’s the first floor where I could exit the stairwell.) At the elevator, a nearly empty car picked me up. Hooray!

Today, I’m feeling leg muscles I haven’t noticed in a while. Moron.

Add to that that later in the day I hit the floor, directly on my tailbone. (Retrieving a pen that bounced beneath my desk.) I didn’t have as much chair behind me as I thought, thanks to bumping it with my foot on the way back up, and it promptly skidded out from beneath me. Crash! Yeah, grace isn’t one of my attributes.

It’s OK for the most part but bending down or getting up out of a seated position isn’t too much fun.

With any luck, I can make it through today without doing myself any more harm -- and maybe even manage to accomplish something. Here’s hoping …

Monday, November 15, 2010

Little Jobs

I certainly wasn't ready to tackle anything big, but after getting a full night's rest on Friday and an almost uninterrupted night's sleep on Saturday (just ONE coughing fit), I was ready to do something. And it's not like there aren't a thousand things competing for my attention. But, I wasn't ready for anything big.

So, I managed to complete a few small jobs on Sunday afternoon.

Job 1: Drain and roll up hose. We've been flirting with freezing for more than a week so I had disconnected the hose and temporarily stuck a bag over the outside faucet. I knew I'd want to use it after clearing leaves on Saturday to clean the mower down so I had been waiting to complete this task. Well, yesterday, I finally carefully disconnected and drained each of the two hoses then reconnected and carefully wound them onto the hose reel. I then got the faucet cover out of the shed and put it in place. Now I just need to remember to turn the shut-off downstairs to OFF for the season!

Job 2: Replace shutter. You may recall that the storm of a few weeks ago ripped a shutter off of the house, just outside my room. Well, while I was off last week, I helped the mother retrieve a spare she had saved from a previous shutter-shredding incident some years back. It had been carefully stowed in the laundry room's walk-in closet. Getting to it was quite the task but I did it. She did some caulk and paint touch-up in the meantime as this shutter is clearly a "survivor," the poor thing. At least it's something to put up back there until we look into all new shutters. (Maybe next spring. We'll see.) I got the ladder out and removed the screws that were still in place and then carefully balanced myself, the drill and the shutter until I got it aligned. Zip, zip, zip with the drill and the conspicuously bare spot along my window was bare no more!

Job 3: Take down clock. Several months ago, the mother and I had purchased a train-station style clock/thermometer to put outside. I didn't get it up there though until late September/early October. I'm not even sure I blogged about it. So, I guess you will get to see it after the mother gives it a bit o'gold accenting.

Job 4: Trash clearing. I broke up the old shutter and gathered up some of the rock bags from the mother's landscaping adventures on Friday and got everything ready to put out with the trash. (Monday is trash day.)

I was done in less than 90 minutes with everything, including the time it took to put the ladder away. Like I said, nothing big. But, at least some things got done!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Rainy Saturday

Thanks to the wind, the leaves are back ... after we'd only just cleared them. It's a vicious, vicious cycle.

After keeping me up most of the night Thursday, I was able to sleep through the night last night. It was SO thrilling. I was so grateful as I was feeling bad again yesterday.

This morning, I grabbed some breakfast so I can get my meds down. Gotta kick this stuff once and for all.

The wind is pretty steady and it's damp outside. It is near 60 right now but it's supposed to drop into the 40s during the afternoon. Not looking forward to that. Going to do a little running around today and then REST is on the agenda.

Got lots to get done tomorrow ...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Today's Lucky Number Is ...


That's the number that's True Random Number generator gave me to decide the winner of the Mother's Birthday Giveaway. (I select winners this way not to be impersonal but to be impartial as I know some of you in the real world!) Rest assured that my influence is nil. Random is random. All I do is tell it to give me a single number out of the total number of entries.

Before I tell you to whom that magic number belongs, I would like to thank ALL of you who entered. A total of 31 of you generated nearly 150 entries, making this our most successful contest to date. I genuinely appreciate the blog post mentions (there were four) and all of the tweeting that was going on out there. (There was lots!!!)

So, I offer my congratulations to GLORIA at the The Little Red House with the White Porch. Further proof that it only takes one entry to win AND that you can't win if you don't enter! Just a little advice to consider for future giveaways.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans' Day!

Military service is a pretty thankless job. This is particularly true for those who are thousands and thousands of miles away from home.

The military is quick to sign you up and train you. Even pay for your education. Unfortunately, they're just as quick to get you killed.

It sickens me to think of the many families this year who will visit our most recent veteran military force ... in a cemetery. There is nothing anyone can say to thank them enough for making the ultimate sacrifice. My heart truly goes out to you.

I sympathize, too, with the many families who still have loved ones in harm's way. Theirs is also a great sacrifice.

But sometimes, these vets are lucky enough to return to their families. Check out this link and you can see some of the greetings they got from their four-legged family members. (The first one is amazing and the one with the two Yorkies had me laughing hysterically.)

It isn't enough really, but THANK YOU, to the millions who have given their all to protect this country in its brief history. Thank you to those who serve us still today. And thank you to the families of these brave men and women for letting them do it.

I salute you all.

Completing Phase 2

I felt crappy on Sunday but it was the mother's birthday, it was nice outside and the job really wouldn't take that long ... so I persevered.

I've already noted that there were TWO projects involved in upgrading the front of the house. By now, you've likely seen Phase One, or the new mailbox. Remember? It looks like this.
OK. There's some things I want you to notice. See the old mailbox, next to the front door? Train your eyes around that section in particular. Focus in right there. Got it? OK. Now that you have that picture in your mind, take a look at this.
Yes, it's a new custom address plaque! The mother and I have been talking about one of these for YEARS. She decided to make the leap a few weeks ago. I went on a scouting mission and this was one of two styles that I liked. (It was the only style the mother liked that was available in anything other than GINORMOUS size.)

The mother threw me with the color choice (black and gold). See, I thought she had intended to paint the mailbox white. When I questioned this, she looked at me as if I had horns growing out of my head.

"White?! NO! I'm leaving it black. So, the plaque should be black and gold, to pick up the brass."

OK. Fine. Whatever. When I ordered it at Home Depot (using a gift certificate I'd received as a prize for the brick porch and walkway last year), I chose the black and gold option. I was dubious, but I did it. The plaque wasn't supposed to arrive until this week -- but it came in just 10 days!

When it arrived, I thought it was very pretty. But I was going to have to see it ON THE HOUSE before I made a final judgment. So, here's the new mailbox ... and the new address sign, together. Ah, very nice. They complement each other quite well. (Please ignore the paint touch-ups around the plaque. They were still wet when I took this picture!)

Then, the other day, the mother did this. Wait. Before you look, look again at the new mailbox. Got it? OK. Now look ...

The mother is FOREVER touching something up. Now you can see the gold and does it ever make it POP! OK. I'm with you, sort of. Accent colors really DO make a lot of difference.

Here's a view of the detail on the side. Believe me, it was a WHOLE lot of detail as she did this all the way around. It took hours. And way more patience than I could ever muster.

I think it looks pretty cool. And, now that the plaque is up, I'm starting to get the idea ...

Maybe I can finally see where she was going with all this. After weeks of wondering and hours of just "doing,"to get the job completed, I can officially render a verdict: I LIKE it!

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


As I walked out the back door I was greeted by a single twinkling star in one half of the sky ... and the earliest streaks of dawn -- in the form of pale orange and purple stripes -- in the other.

The star winked at me occasionally as I drove across town. Man, it felt good to be back in a routine! We spend so much of our lives wanting OUT of our routines. Maybe that's the upside of getting pulled out of them in a negative way like illness.

The sunrise was SPECTACULAR and I felt like it was a sign that this is going to be a good day!

I still have to catch you up on Phase 2 ... and on some touches the mother has added to the mailbox. Promise to do both soon.

Just a reminder. If you haven't entered the Mother's Birthday Giveaway, scroll down to that post and DO IT NOW. I'm loving hearing about everyone's holiday shopping progress!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On the Mend

I've fallen silent and the blog is neglected. Sorry.

Spending a second consecutive sick day at home. Went to the doctor yesterday and came home armed with drugs to find a raging sinus infection AND bronchitis. I feel a little better after the first few doses. Of course, with all the coughing, it's hard to tell.

It's heartening to see how many of you are getting in on the giveaway! Make sure you do if you haven't already. I'll be announcing a winner on Friday.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Mother's Birthday Giveaway!

Today is the Mother's birthday -- but the gift could be for YOU!

We spent the day running around yesterday because today I'm going to get to Phase 2 of the outside project. (It's her birthday; it's what she wants.) We were stunned by how packed everywhere was yesterday. You'd think there were only a handful of holiday shopping days left instead of nearly 50. Of course, the mother has all of our holiday gifts WRAPPED and almost all of them tagged.(I'm making more tags and it's turned into a joint effort between us.) But ... onto the giveaway!

In honor of the Mother's birthday, I'm giving away a $65 gift certificate to CSN Stores. That means you have more than 250 stores to select from to spend it. Consider it a jump on YOUR holiday shopping!

You could put it toward a drop leaf table, maybe a little something for the little ones in your life or maybe, taking a tip from This D*mn House, a new mailbox!

The contest will end at 11:59 PM Central Time on Thursday, Nov. 11. So get entered now. Here's how:
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)

LET ME CLARIFY ... The MOST entries you can get is a total of 21. You need only tweet once to claim 5 entries. Leave me a link in the comments. If you write a blog post, leave me a link in the comments and you claim 15 more entries. You don't have to leave me 15 links in the comments. You won't get more than 21 entries. I LOVE getting comments (and thank you for the many kind birthday wishes for the mother and get wells for me) ... but not spammed!

In your comment, I'd love to hear how much of your holiday shopping YOU have done already.

One fine print note: The gift certificate DOES NOT cover shipping costs.

Can't wait to hear your responses. GOOD LUCK!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Less Than 50 Shopping Days Left ...

Get a jump on your holiday shopping with Kmart’s Annual Family & Friends Event this weekend.

Kmart’s Annual Family and Friends Event is back online and in stores Nov. 7. Hardware, electronics, auto and more are 10 percent off for this once-a-year sale (includes regular-priced and clearance items).

With winter just around the corner, it’s a perfect time to finish up repairs and other projects, and it’s not too early to think about holiday gifting. Think TOOLS people! They carry the Craftsman line. Just sayin' ...

The nationwide sale will be online and in stores all day Sunday, except in a handful of states. In Utah, Idaho and New Jersey, the event will be today, Saturday, Nov. 6.

Kmart’s Family & Friends discount will be applied automatically at online checkout but for in-store purchases, please print out the flyer here:

Visit for more details.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Sorry Shape of Things

"To assume that just because I would like to elect a Republican president in 2012, or because he would like to have a second term beginning in 2012, we aren't going to do anything together between now and then just isn't correct."Sen. Mitch McConnell R-Kentucky

Yeah. And monkeys just might fly out of my butt, too. I guess he had a momentary memory lapse about some of his previous quotes and all of his actions in the past almost two years. Add this to the volumes of evidence for how full of sh*t politicians truly are.

I ask you, Mr. McConnell, “WHAT HAVE YOU TRIED TO DO TOGETHER THUS FAR?!” Um, nothing. Even when there were things that HAD YOUR IDEAS, you still said NO! Only friggin’ word in your limited caveman vocabulary apparently. And you’re SO worried about small businesses … that you voted against money to help them, too.

Meanwhile, you’re all about taking back health care reform AND Wall Street reform so that the banks can continue their sadistic screwing of the little guy. Oh yeah. You’re SO concerned and so ready to be cooperative. *Utters really nasty word that I won’t publish because people’s mothers read this blog.*


Get some balls, dude. I’m on YOUR side – and you’re beyond pissing me off. Way beyond. You are a smart guy. Use that brain for just a second: They DID NOT want to work with you when you had the majority. What in name of all that’s holy makes you even think they might want to be bipartisan NOW?!

I’m waiting for a rational answer because I have been unable to determine one on my own. You TRIED that tact for your first 18 months in office. IT DID NOT WORK. They shot you down at every corner. No. No. And HELL NO!

Let’s just say I’m in a very foul mood. In part, because this election has dismayed me. (Speaker Boehner. Really? Two words when uttered consecutively that make me want to retch. Gag.) And in part, because I’m fighting a sinus infection that kept me home yesterday. And I’m not going to make it through the whole day today. I feel like crap. So I’m really feisty and easily agitated. With what little voice I had yesterday, I was yelling at the television.

It would be hilarious if this wasn’t what was going to dictate all of our lives for at least the next two years. And maybe beyond – unless the Mayans are right and the whole place goes kablooey in December 2012.

I guess the good news is that people were at least smart enough to steer clear of Sharron Angle (even if it wasn’t by much), Christine “I Didn’t Go To Yale” O’Donnell, and Rich Iott (as in I ought not to dress up like a Nazi). But they did elect Rand Paul. *shaking head*

That’s what U.S. politics has reduced me to: yelling at the TV. Sad.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mystery Revealed: Victorian Mailbox

So, the previously described mystery project was installing this Victorian mailbox that the mother has wanted for ages. For the record, the old mailbox, still visible in this shot, has since been removed.

I'm not sure why this became a priority in the past month (I've long since stopped questioning the enigma that is the mother's logic) but this and one other project -- still to come -- have become something akin to life and death.

Pearl wore a hard hat for the initial task of Phase 1: Getting the mailbox home. The mother was SURE it would fit in the trunk or that the box section would detach from the base. (I should know better than to trust the mother on anything where measurements matter. I guess I never learn.) She was wrong on both counts.

While the box would have easily gone into Ladybird's trunk, it was nothing doing with Pearl. I finally had to spread blankets out over the backseat and then carefully wrap the box in another blanket to get it home without damaging my leather!

You should be seeing Phase 2 of this project quite soon as it arrived via UPS on Monday -- more than a week ahead of the date that was given to me when I ordered it! I'm looking forward to it as I can't wait to see how it all comes together.

As with most things I attempt, I wasn't really sure how I was going to do this. So, I just did it.

I dug the hole, threw in a few 1x2s scraps to make a rectangle, got the hose ready and threw in a bag of concrete. I ultimately used both of the 50 pound bags I bought. Once I got the concrete to a healthy consistency, I pulled out the 1x2s (which was a mistake because you can see how I sloshed concrete out onto the grass as I did a few more good mixes with the shovel).

I used a trowel to level the concrete out as best I could. Once level, I used my handy template to carefully insert each of the four hex bolts HEADFIRST into the concrete. (If I had it to do over again, I would have exposed more of the bolt threads as the bolts eventually sank a little farther into the concrete than I would have liked.) When it came time hours later to set the mailbox into place, I held my breath.

But all four bolts aligned with the holes in the base of the mailbox!!! As I mentioned though, two of them sank deeper than I'd hoped so the coordinating nuts are only tentatively in place. The other two, however, are rock solid.

So, in the past few weeks, I've added bases to the front porch columns and installed a mailbox in the yard. That wraps up Phase 1. Here's the end result.

Stay tuned for Phase 2 and ... for ANOTHER fabulous giveaway in honor of the mother's birthday this weekend!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I was going to write a completely different post. Instead, I’m going to keep it simple.

Think Ernest Hemingway. (Short sentences. Limited vocabulary. While the man was a great reporter and a good writer, I still think he is one of the most overrated in history. But I digress.)

After all, this country was founded on some pretty simple principles. Life. Liberty. The Pursuit of Happiness. Most of these have remained in tact through the centuries.

We can still freely speak our minds. And, unless you’re certain politicians (or would-be politicians) who don’t really get the Constitution and its respective amendments (isn't THAT scary?!), we still have a variety of rights.

I’m grateful for that.

But it’s Election Day. And it’s important to think about a few things.

I’m a little concerned by groups using the phrase “take our country back.” I’ve heard several pundits refer to this and query “Take it back – from what?”

But in my mind, it’s a different and even scarier question altogether: “Take it back – to where?” And if you listen carefully to their thinly-veiled platforms, it’s pretty easy to get an answer. Back to a time when slavery was the law of the land and women weren’t too far from that state.

Back to a time of intolerance and in-fighting. Back to a time where the haves and have-nots were more than clearly divided. Back to a time when there was NO middle class. None. You either had money. Or you didn’t. And God help you if you didn’t. That's not a direction we should continue to swirl toward.

Back to a time when you could pull yourself up by your bootstraps – if you were lucky enough to have boots. Back … I don’t want to see the country go back. Can’t we instead go forward? Let’s go forward, always remembering where we’ve been.

Yeah, the choices seem pretty clear to me. But that’s my view. This is my blog and that's my stand. I'll respectfully agree to disagree with you or gladly count you among the like-minded.

However you choose to vote is up to you. I’ll respect that and expect you to do the same. Being able to cast that ballot is a right, not a privilege. At least in our country. (And don’t forget, it’s a right that women haven’t yet had for a century.) Getting you that right cost a lot of lives and a whole lot of sacrifice. Don’t let it all go to waste.

There’s an awful lot at stake, all around this great country. And your vote could be the one that splits a decision. Before you cast your vote though, disgusted though you may be, I ask you to remember something that too many voters seem to have forgotten already: 2000-2008. It's as if they are a fairy story that never occurred. At least for some of us.

But I remember them. I remember them well. I know we didn't get into the current mess overnight. And it's important to acknowledge that we aren't getting out of it overnight either. It's important to recall who keeps saying "no" ... and, more importantly, why.

So go out and speak your mind in the ballot box.

I am.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween, Part 2: Oz the Gweat and Tewwible

I finished my mystery project at dusk on Halloween.

While I was still outside, I lit our jack-o-lantern. (It was still burning when I left for work this morning. Tradition keeps it burning until first light on Nov. 1. Yeah, that’s those superstitious Irish Catholics for you. )

We were the only house in our block on our side of the street to leave a porch light on for trick-or-treaters. (This really annoys me about my neighbors, but oh well.) The neighbors across the street lit jack-o-lanterns and turned on their porch light. This was their first Halloween in the house (having moved in at Christmas last year), so I was delighted to see them brightly lit!

We had a grand total of six trick-or-treaters. The neighbors across the street had at least 8-10 more than that, none of whom bothered to cross the street. (It is a four-lane roadway but when we were kids, that would NEVER have stopped us!)

Our trick-or-treaters arrived in two groups of three. The first trio were stair-step boys, all dressed as pirates. “We’re pirates!,” the eldest exclaimed, waving a sword. In the background, his dad was coaching him: “What else are you supposed to say?” He thought for a moment and then the boy of about 5 lunged toward the door again shouting, “We’re pirates!” The mother and I both lost it.

It was about this moment that Oz the Gweat and Tewwible awoke from his comfy spot on the loveseat and decided to charge the door barking at full volume. (If you’re a Stephen King fan, you’ll recognize this reference from Pet Sematary.) The youngest of the pirate trio began to cry and back away. I quickly scooped him up and deposited him in my room as the mother reassured the youngster.

I chided Ozzie before closing the door behind me. Stupid d*mn little dog, terrorizing kids. And on Halloween, no less! Doesn’t he just look like he’s saying: “What? They were KNOCKING on MY door!”

But I couldn’t stay mad at him for long. He’s too freakin’ cute!

The small photo is an "extreme close-up" as little Mr. Oz LOVES to put his nose on virtually everything, including the camera!

It's kind of blurry -- for obvious reasons -- but you can still see that it's him.

How I Spent Halloween

It was a nice day, sunny with temps in the low 60s. The wind kicked up occasionally, which proved problematic and times (and which left me with a nasty windburn) otherwise, it was beautiful.

I had some stops to make early in the day both to get some materials for the project du jour and to check out shutter options. (You might recall we lost one recently to a spate of nasty wind.)

When I got home, I chose this hardware and made this template. I realize it looks pretty primitive, but it did the trick.

Template in hand, I marked out the location, double-checked it with the mother and then started digging. Yes, I dug a hole in my yard on Halloween!

Think I threw someone in there? BWAAAHHAAAHHAAAA!

Well, I didn't. If you see the size of the hole, you'd have to conclude that they would either have to be cremated or a midget to fit!

So, no. No one was harmed in the making of this project. Except maybe me. (A little stiff today from all of the associated activity AND giving Pearl a spit-shine.) I really didn't have any idea what I was doing. Strictly guesswork like it almost always is. Even the Internet didn't offer me much in the way of assistance on this one. But, it turned out! Mostly.

Any guesses about what I did? Stay tuned!