Thursday, October 27, 2011


It’s a sad state of affairs when you can’t leave something in your front yard without someone having the gonads to come onto your property and take it. But, that’s what happened last Saturday.

You may recall that I recently sealed the driveway again (watch for some product reviews to come). When I finished, I took my two sawhorses (metal, with legs that fold up into the base) out and put one at each of the driveway. I was a little concerned about the one at the edge of the alley. We have junkmen who drive up and down the alleys all the time and then there are mischievous kids who like to occasionally destroy property out back.

I had them up all last week and I had both cars parked in the yard. On Friday, I had Pearl washed so I wasn’t pulling a dirty car onto my nice, freshly painted driveway. When I got home mid-afternoon, there was no traffic coming, so I was able to stay on the four-lane roadway long enough to jump out and put the sawhorse into the front yard before bringing Pearl through.
I left the one in place out back and didn’t think any more about either one on Friday, planning to deal with it over the weekend.

When I came out of the house shortly before noon Saturday, the sawhorse at the alley was still in place. As I backed out of the driveway to run some errands, I discovered that that the sawhorse I’d put in the front yard less than 24 hours earlier – and which had still been there as recently as 12 hours before – was gone. Seriously?

It had to be scrappers. And why they took the one OUT OF MY YARD and left the one that was at the edge of the alley is beyond me. They physically had to walk at least 3 feet onto my property to do this.

It's not that it's a major loss, as frankly, I've been planning to replace them anyway. It is, however, sad commentary on just how brazen people are today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Saying Goodbye to the Moose

During the past few months, I’ve become accustomed to being awakened by a breathing alarm clock, emitting either a solid series of barks or a shrill, urgent yipe.

This morning, neither these sounds nor the digital alarm clock stirred me. I awakened to silence, five minutes ahead of the alarm.

As I’ve also become accustomed to doing, I padded the short distance to the kitchen where Ozzie has been camping for the night because the medication makes him both hungry and in need of constant potty breaks. The mother has the 2:30 a.m. (or so) feeding covered; potty pads take care of the rest.

But today, the clack of claws and low, rolling grunt of a greeting are not there. Instead, there is only an empty bed laying against the bank of cabinets. And that’s when the reality of all hits me like a freight train.

My boy is gone.

Yesterday was the day that I have long dreaded and yet known was coming since July. We had to let Ozzie go. The lymphoma had taken over. And while he was a super trooper, with new tumors appearing externally on a daily basis, I couldn’t relinquish him. He was still mobile and able to eat and anxious to be a part of everything around him.

Hell, two weeks ago, he dropped a squeaky toy at my feet!!! Unless you knew – or touched his tumor-riddled back or throat – you would never believe this dog was sick. In just the past week, it had become more visually obvious: tumors began to cover the top of his head.

On Monday, that tide started to turn. The mother, who has long been an opponent of euthanasia, began to soften to the notion. That was my first sign. There was also a noticeable shift in Ozzie’s behavior. A look in his eyes that went beyond tired, or even exhausted. It was more of a resignation. We decided that I should call and make an appointment yesterday. I did so with a great deal of reluctance, hanging up at least three times before finally waiting long enough for someone to answer. When he didn't eat yesterday morning (this dog NEVER missed a meal), that was confirmation enough for me.

It was ironic. Here I was trying so hard to hang onto a dog that initially, I had not even wanted.

We were less than a week past the loss of our first Yorkie in 1997. That occasion had marked the first time I’d ever had to put down an animal, despite having lost scores of them through the years. I had decided that day in the vet’s office that I never wanted another dog. So, it was not surprising when, by the end of that week, I balked when the mother wanted to “go look” at puppies. That Saturday morning though, I was in for a huge surprise.

When the alleged breeder (who was licensed, but horrible) first asked me, “Do you want to hold him?” all I could think was how that spastic little puppy, then 11 weeks old, was going to be a wiggle worm. Yet the second she handed him to me, he stopped moving. Before I could hold him at arm’s length (to avoid all of this puppy nonsense), he had nestled in the crook of my arm and gently flopped his head against my shoulder. “Are you lovey?” I asked this little 3-pound furball – and he promptly reached up and licked my cheek.

I was toast. There was no way I could leave him there. It was as if he knew that I was the one he had to win over. And he did. And while all of the animals I’ve ever had (with the possible exception of my childhood cat) have loved me, but always gravitated to the mother – her being something of a Dr. Doolittle – Ozzie was indelibly mine.

For much of the last 14 years, his was the first face I would see in the morning and the last I would see at night.
His face, pressed against the full-view storm door, would greet me most nights, a chaotic barking fit and happy dance to follow. He had a continual flow of energy and was my constant, ever curious, companion no matter what I was doing. Hey … whatcha got? Show me! Can I eat? Can I play with it? Where you goin?! Come back here! Nevermind. I'll come with ya.

One of many nicknames – though the most consistently used – was Moosie. (I had dubbed him “the moose” because he had grown so much in his first year, I was convinced we would have the world’s first 40-pound Yorkie. He actually got up to more than 16 pounds. I used to tell him that he was TWO standard Yorkies!) I never had children but I always joke that I have three "babies:" My boys (Oz and Toby the Cat) have fur; my girl (Pearl) has wheels.

But now, the Moo-Man is gone from my life. That is a fact. Yet, with an equal degree of certainty, I know that he will never leave my heart.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Driveway Debacle

During many afternoons in the past few weeks, I diligently repaired the driveway in preparation for sealing. Hard to believe, but it has already been THREE YEARS since the last time!

Rain and/or temperature drops and/or abbreviated daylight hours impeded my progress. I finally finished early last week. Or so I thought. (But more on that later … plus product reviews!)
Anyway, the driveway is now done except for a bit of touch-up work.

I wasn’t going to seal the driveway this year – only patch it. But, an unfortunate coincidence found me with all the supplies, a gorgeous fall day and an ill mother. Between her condition – and Ozzie’s continually deteriorating one – I couldn’t leave them, even though I was supposed to be going (with a nod to my good friend, KayO, on “supposed to”) to Croptoberfest a week ago Saturday and scrapbooking with my friends all day. I was bummed. I didn’t want to work at my online job. I couldn’t sleep. But wanting the two of them to rest, I needed to be quiet. Driveway sealing was a “quiet” job and it would accomplish something.

It was a nice day. I was able to start pretty quickly. About an hour into my work, two squirrels ran through the area I’d just finished. If it had been a few minutes longer, I doubt they’d have had an impact. But since I had just coated that area, there were their little pawprints popping through as the drying process began. D*MN! So, I rolled over the area again and went on about my work.

An hour or two later, a couple with a stroller – and a HUGE dog on a leash, in tow – walked by. The dog had a lot of leeway and as they walked by the drive, the dog bounded from our yard and into the driveway. While it scattered leaves and other debris, it didn’t do anything else. WHEW!!!
The true scare of the day came as I was approaching the halfway mark and the afternoon was winding down. It came in the form of a huge flatbed truck, hauling a completely-assembled, cottage-style storage shed. The truck roared up onto the sidewalk and all but pulled into the driveway, stopping short by a few mere inches. I dropped my roller and wildly waved my arms, all the while yelling, “NOOOOOOOO!” as I ran toward the truck.

The driver looked at me sheepishly and came to a halt on the sidewalk. My neighbors, mortified, were now standing at the edge of their driveway. “Any other day, guys. Any other day!” I yelled across to them. I would have gladly let the truck pull in so it could back into their yard – just not on my freshly-sealed driveway!

Another potential disaster averted! But then … the rain came and brought plummeting temps along. And it rained. And rained. And rained. And it barely got above 50.

I can already see a few patches where standing water took a bit of a toll. (After closer inspection over the weekend, doesn’t look too bad at all. I hadn’t yet done my touch-up! I have to that this afternoon so it has another day or – in 70-degree temps, thankyouverymuch – to get good and dry.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Feeling Disorganized?

I know I am!

Lately, life has been one spiraling ball of confusion, though, not all of it has been bad. But while I generally thrive within chaos, it's been exhausting -- even I’m ready to wave a white flag.

Apparently, it was Get Organized Week earlier this month. Who knew?!

Well, Emma did. She wrote to let me know that she had put up 50 blog links in honor of getting organized – and that This D*mn House was among them. We were included in a list of 10 DIY-related blogs. Thanks for the honor.

So, if you’re feeling disorganized, go check out the list. You might find something to help. I know I’ve found some good sites already.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday ToolTalk:

Technically, a canvas print isn’t a tool. It is, however, a great way to turn one of your original photos into a piece of art. (Never let it be said that at This D*mn House, we don’t talk about a multitude of ways to decorate your walls.)

I love photos. I love art work. I love Ozzie. So being asked try a free canvas print for a chance to combine all of these loves in a single product was a classic “Godfather” offer – one I couldn’t refuse. Thanks to Brendan at for extending this offer. (You can go to the website OR click on the image icon in the right-hand margin.)

This easy, five-step process moves quickly and offers coaching from beginning to end. The only thing they don’t help you with – and what ended up being the most difficult step for me – was choosing the photo to use. Otherwise, I was done within minutes.

I think it is fabulous – and a wonderful way to immortalize a happy and healthy Ozzie! (This is an 8x10; eerily, it's not that much smaller than real life. The fancy hanging hook is not included, though the print came with a picture hanger mounted to the back.)

The mother was thrilled, too, and is mulling photo options to have one done of Toby eventually.In a nutshell, here’s the process:
Pick your size. (There's a great variety, starting at 8x8, and including 8x10, 11x14 and additional standard and custom sizes.) Then,

  • Load your photo.

  • Make sure all of the image you want to capture fits into the designated box.

  • Choose a border – or not.

  • Put in your payment/shipping info.

Done. Just like that, you’ve created a masterpiece! What a wonderful, personalized piece of art for your home or to use as a gift. (The holidays are coming.)

Here are a few things to consider and/or do before you go to place your order.

  • Think about how you want to display the finished product. Let that location guide your size choice.

  • Easy Canvas Prints accepts PNG, JPG, EPS, BMP and TIF files up to 20MB. Choose the highest resolution version of your image possible. (During the process, the system will analyze your uploaded photo and will let you know whether its quality is good enough to replicate.)

  • If you don’t have an image of your own but could use something new for your walls, they have a gallery of images that you can pick from, too.

So, visit And while you're there, sign up to get great offers by email.

(Full Disclosure: Earlier this year, I accepted an offer from to try a free 8x10 or smaller canvas print or deduct the equivalent value from a larger size. As a result, I received the product described above for evaluation for free. I did not receive any additional compensation for participating in this program.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Awaking from the Silence

Hi. Remember me?

Just because the blog's been quiet, doesn't mean that things have been quiet at This D*mn House at all. In fact, that's the largest hunk of the reason why the blog has gone so dark lately. I've been trying to eke out every second of the good weather we've been having because I know it's destined to end all too soon. Today, in fact. *sigh*

That said, I'll be back this week with lots of news, photos and PRODUCT REVIEWS.

Hope you'll stay tuned.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Homeless in St. Louis

I frequently write about the beauty of downtown, the skyscrapers lined with incredible architectural features. Unfortunately, at ground level, some of the sights are not so exhilirating.

The pre-dawn hours in downtown St. Louis are when you are most likely to smell them. The odor of urine permeates the air outside the parking garages where many go to relieve themselves. Occasionally, this odor is masked by bleach that some poor worker was tasked with applying.

In the pre-dawn hours, you are most likely to see them -- in their entirety. They are sprawled on street corners, laying beneath overhangs, tucked into doorways, lining several feet of sidewalk. They are the homeless. They are innumerable.

Most of them have luggage now, not something I remember seeing in my youth. I frequently see them as they pack up for the day, stuffing blankets or sleeping bags into plastic bags, lashing the contents to a rolling suitcase or duffel. For the early commuters like me, this is regular morning sight.

But, every once in a while, something takes me aback. That happened this morning, when, from across the street, I spied this scene.

I couldn't help myself; I pulled out the camera. It had to be captured and I had to share it.

Of course, not 50 yards away from this scene, people were in a queue to buy $5 coffees. As I snapped a few photos, I watched a handful of people walk by without really taking in this scene. To me, it's a sad commentary on what this country has become ... and what it will continue to devolve to if we allow it.

If more people took the "There but for the grace of God" approach to the economy, I can't help but think how much greater a place we'd all call home. I've been feeling a little sorry for myself this week.

Now, I'm just ashamed.