Tuesday, October 30, 2012


So often in the past year or so I've been freaked out by something. So often that I should be used to it. Apparently, I'm not.

Today was no exception. This time though it was in a GOOD way. Guess who returns to work full-time on Nov. 15? Go ahead. Guess. I'll wait. Yes, that's right: ME!

After 14 months of keeping my chin up and my mouth shut, (16 months if you add in Ozzie's cancer diagnosis) I get something really and truly GOOD.

I'm not going to take it for granted. I am though going to enjoy a little bit of easier breathing. It's not like we've been destitute; hardly! But, it was a loss that pretty much wiped out my "disposable" income and brought my savings efforts to a complete halt.

I am humbled. I am grateful. And best of all, I am downright giddy! It's a feeling I could get used to.

So, to keep that feeling going, I'm going to "feed" it. And, I'm going to feed it a pumpkin pie Blizzard. Consider it a celebratory treat!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Worst Case Scenario

For the past few weeks, the mother has been on my case about two things: getting the shed doors fixed and getting Ladybird ready for winter.

On the latter, I had a "car episode" earlier this month in which I managed to find – in the space of 10 minutes – that BOTH cars had technical difficulties. I'm happy to report that both cars are once again mechanically sound, an experience that left my bank account a few hundred dollars smaller. But, neither was a "worst case scenario." Whew! And, I still have some to winterize Ladybird now that she is done logging hours in the shop.

On the shed … the weather hasn't been in my favor. I tried for almost two weeks to find the winning combination of 1) a day I could take off work (it's open enrollment season and year end, so very busy) 2) a warm, dry day and 3) a combination of 1 and 2 on which Lawrence was also available. Finally, yesterday was that day. What I thought would take a few hours took four times that. And, what I thought would be our biggest problem wasn't. It was worse. Much worse.

It was so bad in fact that Lawrence uttered a phrase about as negative as it ever gets with him: "That isn't good." Remember when I "pimped" the shed during 2008 (inside) and 2009 (outside)? Lawrence quickly added: "It's a good thing you did what you did or this wall might be gone." This wall referred to the outside front wall, on the side nearest the house. As he pulled away the last piece of plywood from the inside, I saw that the original wall had completely deteriorated, compromising both the outer and inner layers in which I'd encased it. OY!

And I thought the front beam, running adjacent to the opening for the doors, was the worst of it. NOT! For about the past year or so, the rotten wood has taken to raining down every time one of the doors is opened or closed. Not a good scene.

The good news is that Lawrence was up for the challenge and completely oblivious to the thundercloud that loomed above us, starting around lunch time. At that point, the shed was opened up like a tin can, with both doors and the wall in question removed. The sky began to blacken and the wind picked up with ferocity. "What are you going to do to keep the rain out? You aren't going to get those doors back on ahead of the storm," the mother said.

Lawrence, never missing a beat, both answered her question and ignored the comment that had followed it: "I'm going to shut the doors," he said matter-of-factly. I love Lawrence!

About 90 minutes later, he did just that.

We replaced the outer wall and part of the inner wall behind it. He replaced the door frame, put both doors back in, adjusted the main door so that the damn thing finally closes properly and then helped me carefully replace the outside boards. I now have some caulking and painting to do (hoping for a 65-degree or more day soon to do that) but the structure is once again sound. It was a lot of work, but man is it a great feeling to open the shed door and not have rotting wood debris raining on your head!

A Year

It's been a year …

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of life without Ozzie. Hard to think it's been that long. Other times it's harder to think it hasn't been longer.

How I have missed having this view of the world to greet me each day.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shades of Morning

The morning sky is falling into place.

It takes shape a layer at a time. A layer of purple, a layer of blue, a layer of orange. A layer of pink is thrown somewhat unevenly across the top. Peering at it from my 19th-story perch, it’s as if even the sky is amassing blankets (albeit mismatched, multicolored ones) to brave the brisk pre-dawn air.

I got an interesting perspective on the arrival of daybreak, hiking in from the Landing. When I hike in from that train stop, I am practically ON the river. The walk in leads me up an ascending hill that runs parallel to the Arch (and that makes my heart pound by the time I crest the top.) It takes me past one of the best preserved streets in downtown St. Louis. (Fourth Street, from Washington to Pine.) Well, one half of it anyway. Except for a modern-day parking garage interrupting at Olive, the half of the street that I must cross to looks almost exactly as it has since the 1920s. (And even then, some of its occupant edifices were already in middle age!)

The combined view of nature and historic architecture (and a sudden blast of wind in the 40-degree air) provide a better jolt than the tallest cup of caffeine. I am awake, aware and alive. Even briefly, it feels good to be in my shoes. (Especially since they are my black patent leather loafers that I have affectionately dubbed my “cop shoes.” They are far from the most stylish of my footwear but are among my favorites. An affable, though not always tactful, colleague once asked me if I’d been in the military since my shoes were so shiny.)

As I go to claim my coffee, Josh, the foreign-born clerk, is dutifully reading the morning paper aloud. As I shell out my money, he gets a serious look on his face. “Let me ask you something,” he begins. “If there is to be a cold front, should the temperature not be cold? Yet they say the temperature will be in the 70s.”

I don’t have a degree in meteorology but I do my best to convey a reasonable facsimile of what I heard the weatherman say last night: the front is supposed to move through rather quickly, being pushed out by warmer air. This seems to sate Josh’s current quest for knowledge.

And so, armed with coffee, I am off to pursue my own.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


It was a busy, busy, busy day at the office. And things didn't slow down when I got home.

The mother was dutifully painting the foundation. So, I joined her outside and got to a task that I didn't get to as part of the annual outdoor cleaning: the fence. Our eight-panel, vinyl privacy fence. Our fence that was filthy and, thanks to me, covered with black scuff marks along the bottom fifth from getting too close with the mower and weedeater.

It was a beautiful afternoon as the sun triumphantly emerged after a morning buried in clouds. And I spent it with a bucket, a hose, a full-size brush, a scrub brush and a fistful of Mr. Clean Erasers. Washing all eight 4x6 panels. Both sides.

This is Step One in repairing said vinyl fence. (The fence, which much like Pearl, was battered by golfball-sized hail during Easter Week 2011.) I have to carefully fill several holes and then caulk them. Luckily, it's only on about three or four of those panels.

That's tomorrow's to-do for when I get home. Fun times.

Monday, October 1, 2012

5 Signs of a Serial DIYer

Think you can spot a serial DIYer? Well, maybe you can.

Here are five warning signs to help you easily pick us out of a crowd. You might know (or be) a serial DIYer if ...

1. Disposable drop cloths have a permanent space on your shopping list. (And among the Top 3 items.)

2. Paint, fillers, caulk and adhesives have their own kitchen cabinet.

3. A drill is as permanent a bathroom fixture as the commode -- and used nearly as much.

4. Watching Doppler on The Weather Channel qualifies as "exciting television."

5. And finally, staff at the local Home Depot and Lowe's stores know you by name AND what you're working on.