Monday, March 28, 2011

Yo-Yo Snow

Look carefully, folks, because the view may not last long. This is what I found when I went outside late Saturday afternoon. In all, we got nearly 4 inches of snow Saturday. Even on the early evening news, they were telling people to stay home if they could; the roads were funky. But by early Sunday morning, it was already disappearing. By Sunday afternoon, you'd have been hard pressed to prove that it snowed at all, save a few clumps scattered throughout the yard and lingering in the shade of the trees.

It wasn't much. It didn't last long. But, it was enough to send the poor trees that had bloomed a very nasty message. Those poor things! Today, their blooms are brown and falling off. And the even more fun news? We get to maybe repeat this whole cycle again tomorrow!

Aw, c'mon already ...

I don't want it to be 90, but I sure do want to be done with this stuff.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jumping the Gun

It seems my pronouncement of spring was a bit premature. Oh, the calendar hails it. Hell, even the weather itself was indicating as much ... a week ago.

A week ago, I was running around in shorts and a T-shirt. On Sunday, I was miserably hot. And the house kept the warmth making it nearly unbearable and hard to sleep at bedtime. Monday and Tuesday, I didn't even wear a jacket to work. By Wednesday, I was wishing I had. And on Thursday, it was a necessity.

I awoke to sleet and snow yesterday. Yes, the dreaded s-word. And now, a winter weather advisory is just getting underway and lasts through tonight.


I need to get started on something inside anyway so I shouldn't hate it so much. It may actually be doing me a favor.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

To The Duuuuude

March 23. Throughout my childhood and first years of my young adulthood, it was a day to celebrate. But for more than two decades, it has been a day to recall. A day to remember. A day to fight back the tears that inevitably want to come.

It’s my dear “faux brother’s” 46th birthday. Unfortunately, Steven’s not here to observe it. He died a week after turning 22. To me, this is the very definition of patently unfair. He was such an awesome guy. He was sweet. He was funny. And, in the year or so before his death, he was downright adorable. (If you’ve seen Pretty in Pink, think Andrew McCarthy …)

He was my cousin, and a distant one at that (his mother and my mother were first cousins). But there was nothing distant about our relationship. We were the perfect siblings – minus the trappings of the rivalry that is commonplace between brothers and sisters. Our family jokingly called us “the twins” because we were born just a few hours shy of four months apart.

A few weeks ago, I remembered something I hadn’t thought of in forever. I used to call him “Duuuuuude” as a greeting. And he would comically respond with, “Saaaay, blood.”

I shouldn’t complain. I was lucky enough to get to grow up with him. The first six years were normal enough.
Having known each other since infancy and both of us having been only children, we were the best of buds. Then, an undiagnosed case of strep throat changed everything just as he was turning 7.

It attacked his major organs and shut down both of his kidneys. (One later regained function overnight and he became a case in medical textbooks.) Before the miraculous occurrence, he had been given two weeks to live. Two weeks.

He lived 15 more years.

He didn’t complain though he endured more than anyone, much less a child, ever should. I think partly because of his plight and partly because our parents were the way they were, we were both spoiled rotten. We got a lot of the same things at Christmas (yes, I was an incurable tomboy) and we always celebrated birthdays together.

When we were 9, I was supposed to get a brother. Shortly after my mother miscarried, his mother discovered she was pregnant. At 10, he got a brother. He promised to “share” him – and did.

He was funny and sweet and one of the best friends I ever had. And, all these years later, I still miss him.

If we really can see into this world from the next, I hope he can see how much. Happy birthday, duuuuuude.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


It is, at long last, SPRING! And I can barely contain my joy. The past few days, however, have been summer. Mid-80s for two consecutive days (after mid-60s on Saturday) and I fully expect that today will be a third day of this uber-mild weather.

MMMMMMMmmmmmm. I am lovin’ it! (And it ain’t McDonald’s.)

The mother has been busily decorating for Easter (stay tuned for those photos) and spent Monday clearing the sidewalk in front of This D*mn House of all the debris it has accumulated over the winter. And it was quite a bit. The streets here are just this side of rubble!

For now though I wanted to officially welcome Spring and all her wonderful features. Here’s a few that greeted me when I got home last night. (One of those features being that IT’S STILL LIGHT FOR A WHILE WHEN I GET HOME!!!!)

The Baby Bunny (as he/she) is known, and has been ever since it squeezed its little body beneath the fence last year when it wasn’t as big as my hand, was one of the first things to greet me. Here, Baby Bunny chills out under an obliging pine tree in my neighbor’s yard.

On the other side of This D*mn House, the tree that is just beyond our property line is in full bloom.

That holds true for that same neighbor’s flowers growing along the side of his garage.

Spring has certainly sprung and I’m a VERY happy camper as a result. OLE MAN WINTER you are OUTTA HERE! Don’t let the door hit ya …

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wearin' o' the Green

One of the biggest mistakes anyone can ever make in my presence is to insult my heritage.

"St. Patrick's Day is stupid," a middle-aged, paunch-sporting man at the bus stop dared to say as a few of us sportin' our green began to gather. "What's so great about the Irish?"

Boy did he pick the wrong girl to ask that question ... My answer went something like this.

The Irish have survived centuries of political and religious tyranny. Yet they could not be burned out, stamped out or starved out. They washed clothes, plowed fields, built railroads. Those that managed to leave Ireland's borders, never really left it behind. They carried their roots along, too, planting them all around the world. They've continued to take hold, many, many generations down the line.

I, for one, think there are a lot of great things about the Irish. And I'll thank you not to besmirch the rich heritage that Edward, Francis and John, and Bridget, Mary (I wrote about those two great ladies, each representing a different side of my family, in this post last year) and Julia gave to me. I can only hope that I have proven worthy of all the sacrifices they made so that I could be here. And then I walked away.

Two people applauded.

For a lot of people, St. Patrick's Day is about drinking green beer, wearing green clothing and occasionally donning some over-the-top costumes to go watch a parade. But not me.

Maybe this sense of nationalism for a place I've never even been is foolish. But not to me. It embodies all the many generations who came before me. And I'm proud to be part of their stock. The middle-class they helped foster is under siege (particularly at the state level ) all over this country so maybe some of that pride will help foster a movement to reclaim its rightful place. But that's for another post.

I think it's great that in this country we celebrate the Irish -- whether we are or not. And that it is one of the many celebrations for various nationalities that we have come to hold dear. It's one of the many things that make us a great country. I'm American by chance because someone, or several someones, decided to become American by choice. And I respect all those of any nationality who have done the same. Never ever forget where you came from.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Lighting Tip

Dusting out the cobwebs and returning … It’s been a while, I know. I’ve been busy with a variety of things both at work and at home. Lately, I can’t even keep up with the basics much less find time to jump back into house projects. (Stay tuned. That’s about to end soon. Very soon.)

That said, one of the things I recently had to do was buy new light bulbs for the over-the-sink kitchen light. It’s not the garden variety light anymore. This is the triple-light LED stainless steel version that Lawrence installed nearly 19 months ago. (Looks just like the photo minus one light.) One of the end bulbs had apparently burned out.

Though these are “long-life Xenon bulbs,” 19 months is a pretty good record considering that this light gets used CONSTANTLY. In its higher setting, it light up a good enough chunk of the kitchen that we don’t have to turn on the overhead to heat something in the microwave or wash a dish. In its lower setting, it keeps the kitchen lit overnight.

I wrote down the volts and did a typical stick-figure drawing of the bulb itself which is small, clear and has two protruding pins at the bottom. (It reminds me a little bit of the bulbs for one of my first cameras where you pulled the film out and waited for it to develop before peeling a layer of paper off to reveal the photo. But I digress.) Unfortunately, neither bit of information helped me. I found bulbs that looked similar but they looked stubbier. I finally scoured the shelves until I found a version of our actual fixture, though in white. I compared the packaged bulbs to the fixture’s. No. It still looked wrong.

During my search, I learned two things from a guy working in the lighting department at Lowe’s who finally appeared at the height of my frustration. “Do these bulbs fit this light?” I asked. “They look smaller.”

He assured me that they did fit though they were smaller. The first of my lessons: Go by the G rating. If it says it will take a G6, all G6 bulbs will fit. Same for G8. Good to know.

Secondly, since these are Xenon LED bulbs, it Is best to wear gloves or use a cloth while handling them. Apparently, body oils can interact with the Xenon in a not-so-good-way and significantly lessen their lifespan. (This is equally good to know because many cars, including Pearl, now use Xenon bulbs.)

And since these little suckers cost almost $4 each, I don’t think you want to do anything to jeopardize their working time!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shoes for Obama

I honestly would not want to be in the President’s shoes. That dude has my enduring sympathy … most of the time. But these days, I’m wondering just what size shoes the man wears.

That’s because after more than two weeks of workers in Wisconsin protesting the imminent removal of their rights to collective bargain, the President has barely spoken on the topic, much less joined them.

Really? C’mon, Mr. O. You said you were going to do this. I’m assuming then that your insistence on remaining in the comfort of home can mean only one thing: You own NO comfortable shoes. No tennies. No Dockers. No Skechers. No classic liberal Birkenstocks.

So, I am hereby establishing the Shoes for Obama fund. I’m going to scrape together enough money to buy the president some of those comfy shoes he promised to don. I’m going to consult my male colleagues and informally poll what they deem to be the most comfortable pair of shoes that they own. Then, I’ll send a pair out to the President.

Does anyone know his shoe size? Mrs. O., help me out here …