Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This time of year it seems that every time the mail arrives (or email for that matter) there is another request for donations: Food Pantries, Toy Drives, Homeless Shelters. The list goes on and on. We pick and choose the charities that we donate to, looking for ones that do the most good in our own community: Preferably ones who operate with lots of volunteer rather than paid help. We do that so that our donations go the farthest toward helping those in need, because as we keep hearing, the need is greater than ever this year.

Need has always been all around us. We used to shop at a lot of thrift stores when doing theater, looking for props, costumes, or set pieces. But we were doing it for fun. And all around us we could see people for whom the thrift shop was their store of choice – out of necessity.

The Bearded One and I were discussing the huge amount of unmet need this year and deciding to contribute a little more than usual this holiday season and both of us remembered the exact same incident from many years ago:

We were looking for matching glassware at a Salvation Army Thrift Shop. Near the racks of men’s dress shirts were a young couple looking to be in their early to mid 20’s. They were looking for a dress shirt and tie for the husband to wear to a job interview. As they paid for their selections, the wife was looking at a rack of paperback books that stood by the cash register.

“Can I buy a book?” she asked wistfully.
“Yeah, you can pick one out,” he answered.
They were 25 cents apiece. When a single quarter is an issue of great importance, need is very great indeed.

I’m really counting my blessings this year.

Rufus and The Ninja Sisters

Note: The post below was written on 8/30/10. I just found it and am now publishing it. There have been many changes since this was written.

Why do we have 3 kittens when we agreed to adopt 2? When one of the adoptive families fell through, we were asked would we possibly be able to take 3. We have had 3 cats at times in the past and The Bearded One had finished a glass of Cabernet…..and he LOVES cats.

Rufus got his name from the lead character in the movie “ffolkes”. Stubble and his friends decided that the two female cats were “little cat ninjas” because of their stalking and pouncing (on each other and on their brother and on us). We googled “female ninja names” and came up with Katsu and Kimiko.

How quickly one forgets what kittens are like. Well, it maybe isn’t so unexpected when you consider that we have been cat free for nearly 2 years and that our cats are complete house cats and so tend to live long healthy lives. We have many years of living with adult cats who are more, um, sedate than rough and tumble kittens. The night before last, in the middle of the night, at least two of them pounced on my toes and began chewing…little monsters. I wound up putting on my thick Thorlos socks and they went away. No doubt because it isn’t as much fun to chew on me when I’m not screaming in pain.

They arrived on Saturday and proceeded to attempt to eat the carpet and attack the furniture until The Bearded One had the happy thought of moving their climbing tower into the living room. It doesn’t provide any additional ambience, but it has so far saved the furniture. The mini-blinds and verticals are permanently closed so that the kittens can’t get to the screens; they managed to badly damage one of the screens in the dining room before we figured out what they were up to. Stubble’s shower curtain is also a victim of climbing kitties. His shower curtain is a loose weave, though, so I should be able to “massage” the fabric back into shape. His bathroom door is staying closed, however.

Sunday night, the climbing tower got a little too close to the living room slider and before you could say, “wait, stop, don’t do that”, Rufus was on the top rail of the verticals “walking the parapet”. Stubble couldn’t reach him to get him down and when we finally got something for him to stand on, the kitten would just happily walk to the other end of the rail and laugh at us. He finally decided to get down on his own and jumped right onto the climbing tower – which is now in the middle of the room rather than by the window.

There have been the inevitable accidents when kittens didn’t find the litter box in time. They are in a new house that is bigger than the house that they came from and to be fair, they really don’t know their way around yet. So when we aren’t around to catch accidents immediately, into the laundry room they will go. At least for the next little while.

Their first vet visit is tonight. I will be taking Stubble as back up to help keep all three of them in play and out of trouble (if that is in fact possible). Because we were so late in getting possession of them, spaying and neutering isn’t far off. Maybe only a week or two. I’m not looking forward to the expense of two spays and a neuter, but the alternative is unthinkable, so we’ll just have to make do. It will be at least another 20 years before I can handle any more kittens!

Follow up: We quickly discovered that the only way to get sleep at night was to keep the kitties in the laundry room. They didn't seem to mind at all. Just last week we were able to release the kittens from their laundry room when we are not in the house. Of course, now they won't go into the laundry room at night any more and are sleeping with us, but being a little older, they are now perfectly fine bedmates.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Someone new moved to our neighborhood about 6 months ago. Actually "something". A big fat Raccoon. And he is menacing our property. He started with the lawn, digging up sod wherever he felt like digging. At first we suspected any number of things, but when Stubble and his friend caught sight of the beast through the family room window one night while playing a marathon session of World of Warcraft, we knew what we were up against. Our first volley was motion sensor lights aimed to cover the entire back yard. The Raccoon's answering salvo was our fish pond. He started by shredding the netting that covers the gazebo that protects the pond from local fish eating birds. He escalated by tearing up my water lillies. I replanted and he tore them up up again. The lillies are now residing in a water garden on our deck where I hope that they will recover from the trauma.
The Raccoon continued his vandalism, leaping from the top of our shed to the gazebo roof - where he fell through toppling the waterfall that feeds the pond. He has also eaten one of our neighbor's koi and a frog (tossing the uneaten half back into the pond).
This means full out Raccoon War. Last weekend we bought "poultry mesh" basically chicken wire made out of really tough plastic. We removed the damaged netting and attached the poultry mesh with hundreds of black cable ties..,.
I sincerely hope that this keeps the little menace the heck away from our pond. Time will tell. Wish us luck.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Little Bit of Fiction

I really can't think of what to write about so I'm posting a little bit of fiction that I wrote some time ago (and yes, it is copywrited)

The cast of characters:
Robbie: a 16 year old boy
Dannie: his 14 year old sister
Cathie: their mother
(ther are an "ie" family)
Tom: Cathie's husband, father to Dannie and Robbie
Sammy: the 6 year old staying with their family while his mother is out of the country
Stacey: Robbie's girlfriend
Ben: Stacey's little brother and Sammy's best friend

A Solstice Celebration

December was speeding by and it was time for Sammy’s school concert. Dad had something at work and so he and Mom couldn’t go, but Dannie and I went and I took Stacey and Ben with us. Ben wanted to see his new friend in the show and Sammy and asked Stacey especially if she would go too. It is really hard to say “no” to those big brown eyes. “Besides”, he told us, “there are cookies afterward”. The school had divided up the concert so that the first and second graders had their show on a Tuesday night, the third and fourth went on Wendesday, and fifth was all alone on Thursday. The kindergarteners did their holiday show for the parents during the day. From what Mom said, there had been previous problems with not being able to get all of the parents inside for the show and the show being far too long if they tried to do the whole school together. The show was pretty early so we didn’t do a real dinner first, just a snack and then we’d have dinner afterward.

We got to the school really early because Sammy had to get to his classroom an hour early. I couldn’t see why, they’d just all get restless, but I guess there are some people who come so late for everything, that they were afraid that half of the students wouldn’t get there on time. Anyway, Dannie stayed in the classroom to help Sammy get into his snowflake costume and Stacey, Ben, and I went to find seats in the cafeteria which also has a stage and gets used for performances.

The seats are very uncomfortable and close together. They had tried to decorate the room with lots of Winter scenes to make it festive, but there really isn’t any way to disguise a cafeteria. The concert was also what you would expect. I often wonder why there is even a piano on the premises because nobody can play it. It just sits there while they use karaoke CD’s to do all of the songs. At least it is a step above the old “record players” with old scratchy vinyl LP records that they used when I was in elementary school. Those must have been kicking around the school for decades and nobody ever bothered to convert them to a cassette tape or anything.

Most of the kids can’t sing. Well, they can sing, but not all together listening to each other and singing the same thing at the same time. It is almost painful and it is probably easier if you have a child on stage that you love more than anything else in the world. That way you can probably over look how bad it is. The classes come out one at a time and sing two songs each. Then at the end the entire two grades will surround the audience and we’ll all sing something together. That is how it has been done forever and no doubt when I am all grown and have children of my own they will still do it this way.

Sammy has been “fizzing , as Mom would say, about the concert for a couple of days now. He has even forgotten to “help” he is so excited. Dad loaned me the digital recorder so that I can record Sammy’s part of the show for his mother. We’ll load it on to the computer so that she should be able to see it tomorrow. She asked Mom to get Sammy a special outfit for the show and Sammy is really proud of it. It has a vest to match the pants, a long sleeved dress shirt and a clip on bow tie. He looks really cute in it, but I would never tell him that.

When Sammy’s class came out on the stage, Sammy was in the back row behind a really big kid. I couldn’t see him at all. I can’t believe that the teacher planned it that way. They usually have all of the little kids in front and the bigger kids in the back so that everybody’s parents can see. But no. We have a disaster here. Sammy is in the back row and his new outfit and his snowflake are all covered up by a bigger snowflake. I can’t record the numbers from here. Sammy’s Mom won’t be able to see anything and Sammy will know that she can’t see anything…it will be an absolute disaster.

I am lucky that I am toward the front of the audience. They haven’t started singing yet and I move toward the front of the room. So does every Dad with a recorder who has a child in that class. Dannie is hissing at me to sit down and just watch from here. I am hissing back that I need to get Sammy on camera. She is mad at me and she is embarrassed. I am embarrassed too, but I am darned if I am going to go home and tell Dad that I didn’t get the recording, because Dad will certainly think that I just didn’t try. Stacey is pretending not to know me, but it is pretty hard because Ben is yelling, “Hi Sammy, Here I am!” and waving like a flag in a breeze and Sammy, bless his heart, is waving back at Mike but not as wildly, because the teacher no doubt told them not to wave at their parents. Well, Ben isn’t Sammy’s parent so he is kind of doing as told.

I am toward the outside of the room and I need to get toward the middle so that I can get a shot of Sammy at an angle. They haven’t started singing yet. The teacher is still talking, telling all of us how hard they worked and how proud she is and how proud we must all be of all of them. She tells the woman running the CD player that she wants number 24 cued up. She announces that they will be singing The Snowflake Song. I am still moving toward a good position to see Sammy when the kids start to move. Darn. I was almost in position.

The little boys are moving down off the risers and onto the stage floor. Sammy is still in back. They start to sing “Snowflake, Snowflake, falling down….”

I am finally in a position where I can see Sammy. I have the recorder already running so that I don’t miss any of the song and I figure that now I’ll just try to focus on Sammy, but the boys are now moving to the music as they sing. Sammy and another boy change positions and Sammy isn’t on camera any more. If could get him on camera if I moved to the right but there is a man with a recorder standing there and I just can’t ask him to move.

I take a step to the left and move forward and I have Sammy centered in the viewfinder when they start to move in a circle.
“Snowflake, Snowflake, twirling round”
If I just stay where I am I’ll be able to get Sammy into the shot in a couple of seconds. There he is! Almost there! My mind flashes back to the first Star Wars where they are trying to take out the space station…Almost there, almost there. And then, there he is fluttering his fingers making the snow fall and all the time singing,
“Snowflake, snowflake on the ground, landing there without a sound.”

Now the boys are moving back to the risers and the girls are coming down to do their part of the dance. I can only suppose that the teacher didn’t want to have the boys and girls dancing together because the little boys would push and shove and the little girls would fall down and cry and that would certainly spoil what is meant to be a meaningful and memorable concert. I have lost Sammy again in the crowd. I wasn’t prepared for choreography.

The girls make better snowflakes than the boys did. They are dainty and delicate and falling gently,

“Silver white in the moonlight…” they sing. “Pretty and cold, sparkle silver and gold…”

Sammy is now back on the riser. I got a few good shots of the back of his head as he was moving and now I am trying to focus on his face for more than a few seconds. Luckily they are now standing still. They begin the chorus again,
“Snowflake, snowflake falling down”.

I have him. He is singing and smiling and looking altogether like the perfectly put together 6 year old boy. I have him in focus and am adjusting for a close up. And the song is over and the girls are taking their places again on the risers.

I have one more chance. The teacher compliments the class on how well they did and announces that now they are going to sing Frosty the Snowman.

Robbie is trying so hard to try to get a video so that Sammy’s Mom can see the concert. I was really embarrassed when Robbie started moving up front with the camera, but I guess I shouldn’t be because everybody else with a camera is moving too. They are trying to do it quietly, but with so many people moving there is definite rumbling and scraping as the chairs are nudged across the floor and out of the way. Some of the Dads and big brothers squat down so that people can see. Mostly they just stand in the best position they can get and film away. Sammy is now in front of the bigger snowflake, but he is next to a little girl who is trying to move to another position on the risers. I can only suppose that she is out of position and instead of just staying in the place she landed in after the snowflake dance, she is trying to get to her correct place. She is a very pretty little girl in a red dress with plenty of white ruffles. The problem is the big bows in her hair and the full skirt of the dress. She tries to cut in front of Sammy and he steps as far back as he can on the riser. Thank goodness they aren’t on the top. They are singing about Frosty coming to town and she is scooting in front of Sammy. Slowly, bit by bit as though if she moves slowly enough, nobody will notice that she wasn’t in the right place. From the side of the stage the teacher is frantically trying to stop her from moving, but the little girl is facing straight toward the audience and she doesn’t see. Sammy is now completely covered by hair bows and red dress. There is no way that Robbie will be able to get Sammy on camera.


If the little girl just moves a little more to my left I’ll be able to see him. She is finally to the right of Sammy and steps back into position, Sammy adjusts a bit to the left and all is well again. Just in time for;
“Thumpity thump thump , thumpity thump thump look at Frosty Go.”
I have him on camera, in focus on his face and manage to catch about 10 seconds of Sammy as Frosty goes over the hills of snow and the song is over. Dang.


Robbie, very wisely did not let Sammy see the video when they got home. Sammy was wild to see the show, but Robbie told him that he needed Tom to help him get it on to the computer. Luckily for him, Sammy wasn’t technically savvy enough to demand a playback on the recorder. When Robbie first saw the recording after he got Sammy to bed he was pretty sure that we couldn’t salvage anything worth watching, but when Tom got home and saw it he thought that we could salvage something worthwhile if we were creative. A marathon editing session ensued.

First, Tom and Robbie separated the sound track from the video. They cleaned it up in the computer, don’t ask me how, and it sounded pretty good for a school production done in a multipurpose room with people moving around. Then they isolated the parts of the video that showed Sammy clearly. They looped some of them so that they had enough video to match the length of the songs. They left in the teacher’s introductions, the boys and the girls dancing to the Snowflake Song, and the video that showed the back of Sammy’s head moving onto the risers after the dance. The little girl in the red dress will forever be standing at Sammy’s right and not crossing in front of him. Sammy’s Mom will probably realize exactly what they did, but unless Sammy tries to lip read and is successful, he won’t know that it took Tom and Robbie over 6 hours to edit something that looked like a pretty decent recording of a Holiday show.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Setting Myself Up For an Epic Fail

After making my intentions clear to all and sundry that I will be blogging daily during the month of November, I have already blown that promise. Usually November is my "slow" month at work and I can have "real" lunches where I can get out my memory stick and write for an uninterrupted half hour. Then when I get home, all I would need to do is edit and voila! A new entry (or another couple of hundred NaNo words). At least last year it worked that way. This year for some reason I am busier than I have ever been. I guess the stars or the planets or whatever are out of alignment.

I have to find somebody to blame (other than myself) so it is going to be the kittens. Feeding them, playing with them, cleaning the litter box, playing with them, etc. all of it involving the kittens. Yeah, that works for me.

In reality the probable cause is putting the house back together. When we went to the storage unit and liberated our books we also brought a box of "wall decoration": wooden Orcas, ceramic masks, family photos...it is a VERY big box. And it is calling to me, "Please unpack me - forget about that stupid laptop! We have been packed away for YEARS! You OWE it to us!" The objects in the box are very vocal and very emphatic. So as soon as this posts, I will try to ignore the voices while I watch MythBusters.

Ah, Discovery Channel - the REAL reason.

Monday, November 8, 2010


This will be a short post tonight. I was running behind today because of a medical appointment. In the last few years my blood pressure has been tricky. I am not one of those people who can just roll out of bed, pop my blood pressure pills and get on with my day. I have to check my blood pressure daily because there are some days when I can't take ANY BP meds.
Well, lately I have had a few days when even NOT taking the meds my blood pressure continued to drop - to the point where I wasn't passing out, but was really dizzy and couldn't walk around and function normally.
So...we are "investigating" the other medications that I take. I must take them separately, checking BP before and an hour after to see which ones may be affecting me by lowering the BP to dangerously low levels. I will also be cutting BP pills in half (half of what I usually cut in half). For the mathemeticians in the group, that would be quarters.

I am also to keep Gatorade around and if my BP drops below a certain point, I am to drink a Gatorade for the electrolytes followed by a BIG glass of water. And then another big glass of water. The Gatorade is to insure that I have enough electrolytes to keep the water in my system., I am also, after YEARS of limiting salt, to now INCREASE my salt intake, at least while we are figuring this out...

I'm glad that there aren't lots of tests to be done and that as a first step we are trying to figure out exactly what is going on....

The last time this happened, I wound up changing doctors. The new doctor said, "HOW much of this are you taking? This is enough ______ to drop a person three times your size - or a HORSE!" (exact name of medication deleted for legal reasons). I was being seriously over medicated. Now I am being medicated appropriately but still having problems.

I really trust this doctor and am sure that we'll get it all worked out. But it makes for a short post.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


This weekend was fun, Fun, FUN! We started putting the office and family room back together...which requires a little history. While the couch and TV have been up and running and the exercise equipment functional (but generally unused) and the computer that is our house server has of necessity been running 24/7, the books have been in boxes in a storage unit for much of the last 5 years. It all started with the painters telling us to "pack as if we were moving" and then get out..so we did.

As Stubble says, "Mom and Dad, you keep WAY TOO MANY books!" And we do. Once we own a book it is ours forever. It is a beloved friend and we will make a place for it in our lives forever....and that is pretty much not an exageration. We occasionally take books to Friends of the Library if we hated reading them or if we have no more space, but today we boxed up many of our "friends". We unpacked 10 cartons of books that were dusty and dirty and are actually preaparing to send 2 cartons of them away....and it was tough. Both the letting go and the dust.
I have had 2 showers during the course of the day because of my dust allergies. But the bookcases are now full and the room looks ready to live in.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I named it "Chris"

The Bearded One had some unused frequest flyer miles. He got this great little catalog of things you could buy with your unused miles before they expire and GUESS WHAT! There really were some nice things in there! For himself he got a 12" heavy duty DeWalt chopsaw. For me he got this nifty little notebook. It is a little Acer and I am in love. I should have thought of a better name than "Chris" for it, but when Stubble was setting it up for me it never occurred to me that I would have to assign it a name. What is this world coming to when you have to name your comptuer in order to set it up? Who thought of this? And why?
Anyway, at some point, I will think up a better name and change it. Maybe Norman, or George, or Barak.....
In the meantime I'm going to enjoy the "heck" out of it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

No to NaNo

Instead of doing NaNoRiMo this year, my personal NaNo promise to myself is instead of writing fast, to write in my blog each day. Let's hope I can do it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Instead of Blogging

Since I wrote my “Hurrying Up” post, I began prepping flooring non-stop. It is amazing how long it takes to get everything ready for carpet installation. Because nobody would tell us exactly what they wanted us to do to get the floor prepped (I suppose that they wanted to do the prep, but we expected the damage under the carpet would be huge and didn’t want to pay for a project of that magnitude done by a professional carpenter). The Bearded One went to a DIY website and downloaded instructions.

We needed to pull all staples and scrape up all glue. And then make sure that there were no gaps in the subfloor to cause excessive wear in scattered places in the new carpet. I understand that you are supposed to glue the carpet pad, and then staple only on stair treads but our carpet was BOTH glued and stapled and stapled and stapled and stapled some more. Everywhere but on the concrete slab in the family room. And that slab? It had animal paw prints in the concrete…ah well it must be those pesky beer bottles again.

I filled all of the gaps between the sub floor boards and then I painted on several coats of Kilz and then realized that I hadn’t removed the baseboards. After they were off there was drywall to repair…dang. I cannot recommend a Dremel Multi-Max highly enough. After the Kilz , more staples showed up on the clean white paint. In fact, I was still pulling staples the morning of the scheduled installation. Which was still incomplete 2 weeks later because the Mill shipped the wrong carpet.

Which brings me to a recommendation that I cannot stress too strongly: When you are purchasing carpet don’t just take a little sample. We bought a 1 foot wide 12 foot long sample and it has saved us a tremendous amount of heartache and expense. The carpet that was sent was very close in color to what we had ordered, but the quality was not right and if we hadn’t had that large sample so that it was evident to everyone, we might have had 5 -7 year carpet rather than 15 year carpet…..

The above was written on Thursday, September 2nd. It is now November 3rd. In the meantime, the Carpet Mill sent replacement carpet and SURPRISE! It was the same as the first carpet that they sent…obviously they have changed the spec for the carpet and it is not at all what we would want in our home. Home Depot has been wonderful in backing us up. When seeing the sample that we originally ordered and what we received from the Mill they went to the manufacturer to complain for us. Then they arranged for us to choose completely different carpet from a different manufacturer. We waited for two more samples and had to reorder carpet and wait for installation. At least the measurements are already taken! We still had our home entertainment center torn apart, all excess furniture was stored in the guest room (which you can’t walk across). The correct carpet finally arrived and was installed on October 29th and we are now in the process of putting the house back together. I can’t believe that this has taken so long!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Well, it has been 3 months now since Stubble graduated from High School – and the monetary crassness of the entire experience of Senior Year still rankles so I guess I need to tell you all about it.

It begins with the class ring. Back in my day, we got a gold ring with the school name and our initials on it and our only choice was what color piece of glass you wanted in it. Ah, but these days you need your choice of metal, your choice of stones, your choice of symbols that tell the entire world that you played basketball or volleyball or marched in the band. By the time the choices are made (online by the student in question) the ring costs upwards of $600.

“Mom! Can I have your credit card?”

Once the ring is here it is time for Senior Portraits. One for the yearbook – because the school demands one “official” pose and background. But why compromise the entire year for your Senior by not allowing a full 2 hour photo session during which they get unlimited costume changes as they express their “unique personality”. There goes anywhere from $1200 to $2000 or more by the time that you have chosen your prints. And once those “special pictures” have been taken there is the special yearbook “individual page” that presents a montage of photos that your student wants his friends to remember him with. Another hand held out to collect your money– this time $250. And the yearbook is such a bargain at nearly $100 in the first place.

Then there are the graduation “supplies” to be ordered. The cap and gown (“would you like the deluxe souvenir tassel with that?”) and the announcements with their inserts and name cards and the deluxe gold lined envelopes – all of them coming a la carte. We could also get commemorative graduation picture frames, book covers, sweatshirts, and an entire collection of everything we need for the graduation party from invitations and decorations to thank you notes.

This is a racket.

Now comes Prom and the local tour ships, banquet halls, and any attraction that can claim to make Prom Night “special” get to take their cut. Stubble’s Prom was on a cruise ship. The year before it was on an observation deck overlooking a local ball park….and then there is the limo, the dinner, the tux, the flowers in addition to the prom tickets….

OK, that is all over now, all classes have been passed and it is time for the Big Night. But there is one more hand reaching out for your hard earned cash – the local florists for whom prom didn’t make enough profit. Your graduate will be heartbroken if you do not present him or her with one or more leis to let them know how proud you are of them. “Would you like yellow or white?” And when you pick up your diploma following the ceremony? Inside is an order form so that you can have your diploma mounted on wood, or professionally framed. “Would you like the deluxe package? Your Senior will want a permanent memento of his High School Journey.”

All I can say is, thank GOODNESS that the college doesn’t do a yearbook!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

They're HERE!

Rufus and Katsu with the tower

Rufus the Mellow...


The Ninja Sisters




Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The True Value of an EngiNerd

Many, many years ago we lived in a lovely apartment with beautiful views or over an undeveloped valley and with 1200 square feet of living space. I worked nights and The Bearded One worked days. We lived in a part of the country where summer storms were both the norm and spectacular in one way or another.

One afternoon while I was home alone except for two black cats a storm came up. Before the sirens went off, announcing the severity of the weather system, I had noticed water spraying into the apartment from around the slider that opened to the deck. Being of sound mind, my first action was to move the stereo speakers away from the window and out of danger of being soaked. With the sirens still going off I grabbed both cats and a blanket and headed toward the entrance way under the stairs (and away from potential flying glass and as close to a basement as I could get). I was well clawed as I told my terrified kitties that I was just trying to keep them safe and it would all be over soon. They either didn’t listen, or didn’t believe me.

When the storm ended trees and power lines were down all over our part of the state. For 5 days. Or was it 6? We managed to get enough ice into our cooler that we could keep most of our food safe, but I do remember one meal that consisted of everything from the freezer cooked over the charcoal grill.

Living by candle light can be romantic when it is done for the right reasons and for one evening, but we quickly graduated to getting out the camping lantern and the Coleman Stove so that there was light to read by and a way to heat water for coffee. Finally on day 4 The Bearded One had enough. He brought in a car battery and hooked it up to one pole lamp. WE HAD LIGHT! It was a large capacity battery and had a full charge. I was enjoying the light of one electric lamp but lamented that I was missing the Friday night baseball game. Within a few minutes a small black and white TV set was also attached to the battery….

Our upstairs neighbor was a divorced father of two who happened to have both children with him that electricity free weekend. There was a knock on our apartment door and when The Bearded One answered it, our caller was that neighbor. He was there to prove to his number one child that “There wasn’t any TV at The Bearded One’s apartment either…” HAH!

Number one child to father: "Dad, I KNEW the "The Bearded One" would have TV!"

There is something to be said for being married to a living, breathing episode of “How Things Work”.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hurrying Up

We are the slowest possible remodelers. Well, there are probably folks who are slower than we are but we are certainly in the lowest portion of the 25th percentile. Partly it is because we “enjoy” doing things ourselves. As The Bearded One says, “I get such a wonderful feeling of satisfaction when we finish.”

Yes, that is true, but when the whole house fan is already 2 years off warranty when it is finally installed – there is something wrong. The first thing that is wrong is that we are busy people who have other things going on in life in addition to home improvement. We occasionally take a vacation, or meet friends, or go shopping, or oddly enough just want to enjoy a day at the beach. The other problem is that we aren’t getting any younger. If we work constantly on the house for long days, we would be permanently crippled. When we were younger we could tote and haul and strain for days on end, now after 4 or 5 or 10 floor tiles, The Bearded One’s back is screaming for mercy and Advil. If I have been sanding and scraping and sanding yet again, my hands and forearms will be completely useless for a day when it comes to things like removing jar lids or holding heavy objects like milk jugs.

But now we have a reason to move ahead swiftly. We have adoptive kitties waiting for the OK to come live at our house. One of Stubble’s friends has a cat that got out of the house before it could be spayed, with predictable results. The family doesn’t want to just drop the kitties off at the Humane Society. They would like to personally approve the adoptive families. We have been a ‘cat free home” for almost 2 years now and it is tough when you are feeling under the weather not to have a purring cat plastered to your back (or head, or feet). We readily agreed to accept two of the kittens. We just needed to get the floors done (old carpet ripped out, subflooring repaired and sealed).

Last weekend we rented a dumpster and Stubble and two of his friends and I removed all of the old carpet. We discovered less damage than we had expected, but need to remove 2 of the stairway landings. The first one was removed last Sunday and when the wood was removed an empty beer bottle dating back to 1971 was discovered – which explains SO MUCH about the things we find in our house as we remodel. Like the subflooring that completely missed a joist (but that is another story).

The family from whom we are adopting has graciously kept “our” kittens until the floor can be sealed but the kittens were ready to come to our house several weeks ago. And the temperatures are getting hotter. And the work we have to do must be done with the windows open. And The Bearded One had the temerity to suggest that maybe we should close up the house and turn on the air conditioning and just forget about paint this weekend….
So I am taking a vacation day tomorrow so that I can begin sealing the floors with Kilz at 6 AM…I can get a couple of coats on before we need to chill the house!

It's In The Bag

Disclaimer: This is one that I wrote some time ago and then completely forgot about until I stumbled across it in a directory that it was not supposed to be in. It is only about 3 months old…

For those of you who may have missed the (good) news: Santa Clara County (California) has banned toys in high calorie Happy Meals. Read all about it in this LA Times article.

To the gentleman quoted as saying, “If you can’t control your 3 year old…”
I say, “HA!” If you are trying to get errands run on a Saturday, the last thing you need is a full blown tantrum from the car seat set. And being denied that Happy Meal can bring one on faster than a cat comes running at the sound of the can opener.

Stubble was a Happy Meal Expert. He knew from TV which toys were at which franchise and he always managed to be “Hungry Mom, Hungry,” right in the middle of the Operation Saturday.
At first we were unsuspecting, it was late and we still had to get to Target, Home Depot and the grocery store. Of COURSE we picked up something for him to eat. We quickly caught on to his ploy when he would take two bites of the hamburger, eat three fries and spend the rest of the time playing with whatever toy was in the bag.

Our first step was to withhold the toy until the food was finished or until we were home, whichever came first. He would wait and wait and wait. The burger would grow stale and cold and the fries soggy and limp and still he held out. On the way into the driveway it was, “Toy! Now!”

The day that The Bearded One bought just a burger and drink and fries but no meal complete with toy was not one I really care to remember; except that I do remember it - in excruciating detail.

So our little one didn’t get obese, but his room was filled with cheap plastic toys and he loved each and every one of them even when they were identical. You could not get rid of ANY of them for ANY reason. They were his and they were precious. They were in boxes and gallon zip lock bags. They were under his bed and under his pillow. They multiplied like rabbits. Finally when he was about 8, he allowed me to box them all up and take them to a charity thrift shop where they sold bags of the toys for 25 cents each.

And the real irony of the situation is this: Now that Stubble is all grown up, he can’t eat fast food burgers because of stomach issues.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Everybody has days where they are so overwhelmed by what needs to be accomplished, that they are afraid to ask for help because if somebody says, “No” they are afraid they will dissolve into tears and be humiliated by the ensuing emotional collapse… You just hope and pray that somebody notices and stops to help. But mostly they don’t.
Other days you are on a roll and everything is going smoothly. You are working in a rhythm and somebody comes along to “help” and everything falls apart and you are instantly so angry you could spit….The Bearded One does this to me from time to time. Usually in the kitchen.
I was cooking at top speed, seasoning the sauce, browning chicken, chopping veggies for the steamer. Then I reached for my ¼ cup measure to add dry Marsala to the sauce. It wasn’t there. “Did you wash it?” I asked accusingly.
“I was just helping out by cleaning up after you so that you wouldn’t have a big mess after dinner,” came the reply.
Just. Don’t . Help. Sometimes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Orphans of the Storm

He was a little sable kitty, sitting in the rain under the tailpipe of a motorcycle. “Meow,” he mepped as the rainwater dripped on his head. The Bearded One and I were in college and had met living as neighbors in the same apartment complex. The Bearded One is a “cat person”.
“How did you get out here, little kitty?” he asked as he picked the little guy up. As he headed back into the building, another little sable kitten dragged herself out from under the apartment steps, she was dry but dragging her right rear leg. The Bearded One picked her up as well.
I was surprised to hear the doorbell ring at that hour of the morning. I was even more surprised to see The Bearded One in motorcycle leathers with a tiny kitten in the palm of each gauntlet.
“Here take them. I’ll give you $20 and you can go to the corner store and get litter and cat food. Then find a vet because one of them is hurt.”
At the vet that evening, shots were given to both and an x-ray was taken of the little girl with the limp. The Bearded One was assured that it was a broken hip, but that if we cut down a litter box for her and kept her quiet, nothing was displaced and she’d heal up just fine in a few weeks.
The Humane Society, however, said, “We’ll take the male, but we’ll have to put the female down.”
The Bearded One explained that he had a vet’s report that said that the female would be just fine and she had her first shots.
“We’d have to put her down.”
The Bearded One said, “F##k you,” and slammed down the phone. We now had two cats. Which was probably what the Humane Society planned on: What college student pays for shots and x-rays for stray kittens? A good adoptive cat parent, that’s who.
As I could keep animals in my apartment building but he couldn’t in his, I assumed custody. I sometimes wonder if that is why our relationship lasted – I had “his” cats.

Improving my Mood

This was how long it took for the endorphins to kick in this morning. Knowing that I am going to do 30 minutes on the treadmill, sometimes I still have to play “head games” with myself. “If you get to the end of this song, you can quit any time you want to.” “If you get to 20 minutes you can quit any time”. “If you can do 10 minutes at 4 mph you can quit anytime”.
Usually the endorphins kick in somewhere between 11 and 17 minutes and then I feel like I could go forever… but I have to stop to go to work.
This morning, no matter what music I used, no matter what speed I tried, no matter how I adjusted my breathing, my feet and legs hurt for a long time. They were saying, “Stop now! Really, we don’t want to do this! We really, really mean it! Haven’t you gotten the message yet? Stop Already!” And yes, I did warm ups.
Thank goodness this doesn’t happen often because I really rely on the workouts now. It only took a few months, but now if I miss my workout, I’m grumpy all day.
The impetus for beginning the workouts was my doctor saying, “Your bone scan shows that your bone density is low normal. You need lots of calcium and exercise.”
This finally made me realize that with my son turning 18 in a matter of months, he should be perfectly capable of getting himself out of bed, showering, and making lunch without my supervision. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “Hey, Stubble. You are on your own now in the morning.”
Stubble: “Whuh?”
Me: “I’m going to the gym to work out.”
Stubble: “Whuh?”
I fully expected calls from the school going, “Where the hell is he?” but it never happened. He was only late one single day when he was sick in the early morning.
Why did it take me nearly 2 years to figure out that if I left, he might just rise to the occasion? Sometimes they surprise you that way.

Endings and Beginnings

I watched Stubble get his heart broken a few weeks ago. From my bedroom window I could see him talking to his girlfriend of two and a half years in our front parking area. She was going to come over to swim and to have dinner with us. Instead she broke up with him.
When he came into the house is face was frozen and expressionless and his eyes were bleak,
“She dumped me.”
“Are you OK?” I asked, knowing what the answer would be.
He never cried, at least not in front of me, but he did let me hold him and rub his back for about 20 minutes or so before he got out his computer to remove her presence from his Facebook site. He couldn’t completely do it though, because they have been together so long that he would need to erase most of his pictures. It has to be hard. They had so many good times and he needs to remember those without having the memories depress him, but that will only come with time and distance.
It is trite but true that when one chapter ends, another begins:
Stubble started college this week. He likes his classes and professors. He’ll be on campus from mid-morning until late afternoon which will keep him VERY busy. He will be around people most of whom are starting out on their own amazing journeys into adulthood. It is an exciting time in his life and I am very proud of what he is doing – giving up a lazy summer to get a head start on his transfer program.
I wish him all the best and much happiness.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ignoring Rule Number 3

There are a few general rules of living that are universal:
1) You can’t drive faster than the car ahead of you.
2) Drinking your breakfast is NEVER a good idea.
3) Always get a good night’s sleep.
4) Wear clean underwear.
5) Eat your vegetables.
6) Look in the direction you are walking.
Follow these little gems of motherly advice and you can pretty well make it through life intact.
Yesterday I was bumped into by a student looking back over her shoulder as she moved toward the door. It was not a gentle bump. She was completely surprised and subsequently embarrassed. Was she looking back for a friend? Did she think that she may have dropped something important? Whatever the reason, there was nothing either she or I could do to avoid the collision.
I remember repeating general rule number 6 to Stubble over and over again as we made our way through his childhood. He was always looking all about as he moved forward at breakneck speed. Often with painful consequences: The unfortunate tree root on the dirt path; the unexpected bicycle on a collision course; the sign post that he just didn’t see. They were all there in his path waiting to catch him “not looking”.
‘Eyes Forward’ is a good way to live. Not that the past isn’t important and we shouldn’t remember it and value what we had, or that we shouldn’t glance side to side from time to time; but as we move forward, often at a rapid pace, we really need to pay attention to where we are going and the obstacles in the way. And I don’t mean this only in the “walking down a hall” sense. As we make our life choices, we need to be looking ahead figuratively. What are the possible consequences of that move across country, and if you try to go back to where you started again will it prove a huge disappointment? Probably. You have to keep moving forward toward something. It just may be something completely unexpected and unimaginable only a few months ago. That is what life is all about and it can be painful emotionally and physically, it can be messy and hard and, hopefully, ultimately rewarding.
I wish that I had really understood number 6 twenty years ago. I wouldn’t have wasted as much time.
And now, enough philosophizing for one night when I can't sleep...

Another Tale of Home Improvement

We bought the house with eyes wide open. It had been a rental property for 10 years, we were told. It had recently been “fixed up to sell” by the current owner who had bought it as an investment property. It was larger than anything that I had yet seen in California and we could afford it. And best of all, it had CLOSETS. Lots of closets. And big rooms. Some of the newer homes that I had been shown that were in our price range and were available to rent until closing were less than exciting.
One was a three bedroom, two bath home where one of the two bedrooms on the second floor had no bathroom access….one was lovely but had no usable yard…one had a bedroom with no closet and tiny, tiny rooms. We were coming from a 1200 square foot house with a full furnished basement. Meaning that we had 2400 square feet of “stuff” to move into our new place.
We knew that “fixed up to sell” meant that they had installed the cheapest possible carpet and that the “fresh paint” was probably not really high quality, but we wanted the square footage, the closets, the under house storage, the large attic, and decently sized rooms; so we signed on the dotted line and moved in.
Things held up pretty well for the first 10 years. We found out that there was a hole in the laundry room floor when a corner of the dryer fell through it, and sealing the asphalt driveway was an issue as the crumbling drive seemed to absorb the sealer like a sponge but it was no big deal. Following a scary wildfire, the shake roof was redone with something fire resistant. The garbage disposal finally blew its fuse for the last time and was replaced, but for the most part things were OK and we could live with it. Then at 10 years, we decided that we wanted to change a few things and the major renovation began.
Those of you who lived through the 70’s know the beauty that is “Mediterranean Style”. For those of you who don’t know, Google it, or just think DARK and ORNATE. We had been Home Depot dreaming for years, selecting which (light, simple) cabinets we would install and what color countertop we would like. When we got the contractor’s estimate for replacing the kitchen cabinets we were stunned. The entire budget for a new driveway, deck, and kitchen would be eaten up by the kitchen alone! When we recovered a bit from the shock, the contractor told us that refinishing the cabinets was an option also. When we found out that cost we decided to replace the back deck and the driveway and to tackle the kitchen ourselves.
Our original decision was to replace countertop and appliances and the cabinet hardware and just update a bit. That was affordable, that was doable. Then I fell in love with a black granite look laminate countertop. It would be WAY too dark for the existing finish on the cabinets, but WAIT! If “I” refinish them, maybe I can lighten the color enough that the countertop will look OK. We had planned on stainless steel appliances and had ordered a new dishwasher in stainless, but had cancelled the order when unexpected expenses came up. Which turned out to be a GOOD thing, because when I began the process of stripping the old varnish, what emerged was beautiful , heavily grained Red Oak. Stainless looked AWFUL with it, but black appliances were just the ticket. And the black countertop? Um, not a good match with the final cabinet color, but another granite-appearing salmon pinkish/rose with dark gray flecks, oddly enough called “Mesa Gold”, looked just right.

I had the casework stripped and re-varnished within 6 weeks, but then we were without doors on the cabinets for a couple of years as I stripped and refinished them in and around other projects and necessities of life, like doing laundry and cooking. Luckily we were able to find new hinges in the exact same style as the old ones, and found pulls that were exactly what we wanted (simple, solid antique brass). We found a double convection oven at a warehouse sale that was priced just perfectly, and the most expensive “appliance” in the kitchen turned out to be the big, black, Kohler sink and faucet assembly.
What I have learned from this experience is that for do it yourselfers, sometimes slow and steady is the way to go because your taste will change over time and once you have it all installed is not the time to decide that you have made the wrong color choices!
And that beautiful, Red Oak? When the cabinets were installed (40 years ago), they were put up, hardware was installed, and the black lacquer varnish was slapped over the entire cabinet, hinges and all. There was no stain on the cabinets under the hinges. Oh MY! There are many more shortcuts that the contractor took when building our house which will be the subject of future Home Improvement Tales.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


From time to time, I will tell stories from much earlier in my life; which requires a disclaimer:
Disclaimer: These stories are from a time more than a quarter century ago and are seen through the rosy mists of time. Any relatives reading these stories are sure to say, “THAT isn’t the way it happened”.
But so what; it is my memory and I’m telling it my way. All others are welcome to start their own blog.

Dad was a birder. Not the kind of birder who goes into the forests counting birds for the Audubon Society, and not the kind that takes long hikes with binoculars and a bound journal to record sightings. He was the kind of birder who kept 4 bird feeders in the well protected “L” of the house between the screened porch and the breakfast nook; A pair of binoculars stayed on the table, ready for use during that second cup of coffee on winter mornings.
The feeders were well stocked on a daily basis in the winter, and in the summer nobody cared that the part of the lawn where the feeders were sprouted all kinds of vegetation other than standard grass. The birds loved it and regularly provided an early morning show.
Another creature loved the feeders also: A squirrel. That squirrel would climb right up to the feeder and sit and eat. And eat. And eat.
Dad was incensed; His first purchase to “save the seed” was a circular piece of metal called a “squirrel guard” for each feeder. They looked for all the world like a protective collar worn by a dog following surgery, but upside down. In theory, a squirrel couldn’t get around the guard and the feeder was “safe” for the birds. The squirrel guards were duly installed, but the next morning the sight of Mr. Squirrel having breakfast greeted Dad.
After watching for several mornings to try to catch the squirrel in the act, he saw the furry little guy climbing up the downspout on the screened porch and onto the roof from which he could jump to the feeder. After fuming for awhile and telling me all about it AT GREAT LENGTH in a phone conversation, he cut a small piece of metal and attached it in the curve of the downspout as it attached to the gutter so that the squirrel couldn’t get to the roof.
Several days later the squirrel was in the feeder again. More observation led to the discovery that the neighbor’s maple tree had an overhanging branch that provided access to the yummy bird seed. Trimming the tree with the neighbor’s permission helped for awhile but eventually the squirrel was back in the feeder, feasting on the seeds.
Finally, probably at my mother’s suggestion, squirrel friendly food was purchased and left at the base of the feeders. The squirrel won.

Road Trip!

I guess I thought EVERYBODY took Road Trips for vacations. I didn’t realize that most people just went to a resort somewhere and lay around a pool doing nothing; Or maybe played round or two of golf or a game of tennis. As a child, our family took vacations that were work. We logged miles, saw lots of the country, EVERY historic marker in the Midwest, EVERY stand of old growth pine trees in Northern Michigan. And NO, I am not exaggerating.
Dad was a history teacher both by profession and deep down into his very soul. We could no more not learn something on vacation than we could fly to the moon. Now, don’t get me wrong, we did fun things like always stay at a campground that had at the very least a swimming pool and if everything fell perfectly into place, horses to ride. But we visited mines and ghost towns and national monuments. We went to museums of minerals and museums of dinosaur bones. We canoed and hiked and rode through the Soo locks. I have been to the Wisconsin Dells, the headwaters of the Mississippi, the Badlands, the Appalachians, the Mohave Desert, and Mackinac Island. I have wandered Washington DC and Colonial Williamsburg and Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. I have been to Art Galleries and Forts, cities big and sprawling and towns small and quaint. I truly believed that it wasn’t really a vacation unless you spent 3 – 4 hours in a car, preferably 5 – 6 every few days. We would be on the road for a day and then stay over to see the sights for a day or two and then move on. And there were SWIMMING POOLS and HORSES!
Now, I actually LIKE those kinds of vacations. And when Stubble was about 5 going on 6, we took him on his first Road Trip. This was the road trip where Stubble decided that his favorite thing in the world to eat was Clam Chowder. And eat it he did, morning, noon, and night. The entire trip he smelled vaguely of fish. We travelled up the Central Valley of California to Sacramento and the California State Rail Road Museum and the surrounding Gold Country, then across the state to San Francisco to eat our way across the city and enjoy everything that is wonderful about Fisherman’s Wharf, and then down the coast through Solvang…he had a GameBoy…we had LOTS of extra batteries: we were set. And DANG, heading up through the Central Valley, I never saw so many trucks of tomatoes in my life! Truck after truck after truck piled high with tomatoes; long convoys of them. And the condition of the road spoke to exactly how many trucks travelled that route daily. And DANG, Boys both big and little certainly appreciate trains…I thought we’d never get out of the rail road museum. And DANG, the Boys also like boats and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park was another day long affair.
This was also the vacation where Stubble flagged down his first cab. We had been told that the Imaginarium was not to be missed. And it wasn’t. An entire building filled with science toys. On the map, it didn’t appear to be very far from our hotel on Fisherman’s Wharf. We had spent so much on food and fun that, being extremely frugal for the moment I suggested, “Lets walk”. Well, the map should have been labeled as “not to scale” because it was an hour long walk to the Imaginarium. We spent most of the day there – just give us something that holds our attention and we will stay forever. It is how we get our money’s worth out of the entrance fees. The Bearded One probably had the most fun of all of us playing with prisms and mirrors and all sorts of fun physics inspired displays. For Stubble there were plenty of buttons to push and knobs to twirl. When it was finally time to walk back to the hotel, we realized that we would be walking all that distance into the wind and I decided that we were all TIRED. TOO TIRED TO WALK ALL THAT WAY. We tried calling for a cab with no luck and finally, reluctantly started trudging back to the hotel. Cabs went by, but they were mostly all full. One was empty and when The Bearded One raised his hand and waved, the cabbie immediately flicked on this “out of service” light…even though he was headed in the same direction that we were going. Guess he had a hot date. I had given up on getting a cab, but Stubble hadn’t. When he would see one go by, he would step over to the curb and raise his arm in a prefect imitation of his Dad. I tried to tell him that wouldn’t work when they all had passengers already, but he still believed that he could get a cab. And then, suddenly, a cab pulled up from behind us and the driver asked, “You guys need a cab?” He had seen Stubble trying to hail a cab and after he dropped his fair off a few blocks away, came back around for us. The Cab Driver got a BIG tip that day and Stubble was all swelled up with pride for hours. Sometimes all you really have to do is BELIEVE hard enough.
Toward the end of the trip, The Bearded One mentioned the fact that this was one of his best vacations ever. I asked what kind of vacations he had taken as a child. “Oh, we went to somebody’s farm”. Now what on earth kind of vacation is that?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sweeping It Under The Rug

When The Bearded One travels, which is not so often these days, “normal” routines go right out the window. When Stubble was little, it was an excuse to have Friday night dinners of Coke and Popcorn while we watched the latest Disney ‘made for TV’ movie. Nutritionists do not be alarmed; I made him eat an apple for “balance”.
It was more important to spend time together than it was to do laundry as long as we still had clean underwear in the dresser. At least that is what I told myself. In reality it was because I just didn’t have the time or the energy to keep everything spotless (um...relatively clean) when there wasn’t somebody to tag team parent. It was a standing joke that the kitchen got cleaned when the call came from the airport that the plane had landed.
I kind of miss those times. Now that he is all grown up, I don’t have a valid excuse not to cook healthy dinners, wash up afterwards, and do laundry regularly. These days, I’d sure like to have somebody to watch a Disney Movie with while the kitchen just quietly stays a mess.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Tale of Home Improvement

One. Little. Nail. Just one. “Honey, why don’t you pull that nail out of the drywall before we install the sink?”
We are installing a utility sink in the garage. For the years long renovation of the house, we have been using the large, black, (expensive), Kohler kitchen sink to clean paint brushes, and mix thinset and grout. Anything nasty that we need to do involving water has happened in that sink. So now, with only the kitchen floor left to tile, why on earth is a utility sink suddenly a necessity? I suppose, because it is a way to delay the installation of the HardieBacker for another week. No, not really. It is so when the tile goes into the kitchen, we have access to water in a sink big enough to fill a pot and wash a dish.
There was a plan. It was to get the corner of the garage where the sink would reside cleaned out, get all materials, and prep in advance so the installation would take about 3 hours and then the rest of the weekend could be devoted to backer board. Well, as with most plumbing projects, 3 hours proved to be a wildly optimistic estimate.
I kept to the plan. I took a couple of hours of vacation time to clear out the garage. It was quality time well spent with a trash can. Why on earth did we keep boxes of old cassette tapes that we haven’t listened to in nearly 20 years? Couldn’t tell you, but they are gone now. As are the 7 empty wine boxes we were saving for some unknown reason. I forced a midweek trip to Home Depot to purchase the sink, faucet, ABS pipe, new glue, 90 ° elbows, 45 ° elbows, copper pipe, shut off valves, solder, and couplings. We were all set to go first thing Saturday morning.
Our house is built into a hillside so that the main floor is at ground level in the front; there is an upper floor above the garage that houses the master bedroom suite, and a family room and half bath that open into the backyard on a lower floor. Under most of the house is standing headroom so that running new pipes is relatively easy; it isn’t like you have to tear up concrete or anything…
So, I suggested that the protruding nail be removed. It has been there since we purchased the house 18 years ago and when valuable household items were piled in front of it, I never noticed. But now that there would be a sink right there, it made sense to pull out the useless nail. So The Bearded One pulled the nail out and A STREAM OF WATER BEGAN TO SHOOT OUT OF THE WALL! ARRRGHHH!
Drywall removal was quickly accomplished with a Dremel Multi-Max (if you don’t own one, you should), soggy insulation was pulled out and it turned out that the nail had penetrated the trap in the washing machine drain.
We now have a 2’ x 2’ hole in that garage wall that is being “left open to dry”. There has been a new trap installed for the washer drain. The sink is in place and functional. Our son, Stubble, learned a lot about plumbing including how much fun a Bernzomatic torch can be. And it only took 6 additional trips to Home Depot to accomplish the job. Total time on the job: about 10 hours.
Next job: Patching the drywall. But that will be another Tale.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Ladies and Gentlemen, The Birdie has left the Building
How do you fill up your time when the nest suddenly empties? I thought I had worked through this when a girlfriend and a driver’s license arrived practically simultaneously a few years ago, but as graduation and college approach the question has resurfaced. With a vengeance.
I guess you try to figure out who exactly you are now that you have spent the last 18 plus years being “mom, Mom, MOM”. Finding a life outside of soccer, basketball, swimming lessons, singing lessons, band, youth theater productions, trips to friend’s houses, and tutoring is proving to be a bit elusive; much like trying to corral a cat who doesn’t want a flea bath. Not that I miss the endless driving, driving, driving interspersed with waiting, waiting, waiting one little bit.
In the “pre-Mom” time, my life used to revolve around theater, endless theater; production after production. Or music. Then came “Stubble”. I can count the times that I have picked up my guitar in the last 18 years on the fingers of one hand. Do I really want to try to get the calluses back? I don’t know. For the last decades many things “me” have been on hold. And at the time, I didn’t miss me. I was too busy trying to get Stubble to adulthood relatively unscathed and reasonably enriched. I waved goodbye as career gently drifted away, replaced by job because it made more sense at the time.
I have certainly made some positive changes. I have joined a Fitness Center and lost much weight and gained much stamina, but filling in all of the time with something that I find fulfilling is proving more difficult. I love baking, but friends and neighbors have said, “Enough, already”. I have started dancing again, but that takes up a few hours a week and I really am finding that I have no desire to do theater again. Life without theater? How does one survive it? Very easily, actually. I am very surprised at this, but I am past the age of moving from chorus to chorus again even if I get my dancing skills back. And when it comes right down to it, do I really want to devote weeks and weeks to rehearsals followed by weeks and weeks of performances? Yes, performing is a real thrill, but it requires a huge commitment of time to the exclusion of all else.
I love writing. I can do it in my own time and on my own terms. So here we are: Reclaiming Chris. One post at a time.