Saturday, December 31, 2011

...And the hits just keep on comin'

Well, it has been a week since move-in day, and while I busied myself with the task of hanging new drapery hardware and drapes, sorting through my wardrobe to determine what survived the fire and what didn't, and dragging broken down boxes and other move-in trash out to the curb, it would seem that my home has been plotting against me.

While taking a break from the aforementioned tasks, I headed down to my darkened kitchen at about midnight. While grabbing a beverage from the fridge, I hear a very slight, but very distinct tapping noise.

Water is dripping somewhere.

I check the door dispenser on the fridge... Nothing. I check the kitchen sink, and the connection to the dishwasher... Nada. I turn on the light in the breakfast room where there is no reason to hear any kind of dripping. The floor is wet. The boxes stored in there are sitting in a small puddle. The ceiling is leaking. CRAP!

That ceiling is immediately under the only full bath in the house, and nobody has showered since yesterday afternoon. CRAP.

After placing a cooler under the drip, I shut off the main water line to the whole house, and called the plumber and was told I did all that there was to do for tonight, and that someone would be out to assess the damage in the morning.

I have no idea what I did in this or any past lives to get this kind of karmic backlash, but whatever it was, it must've been a real doozy of a malevolent misadventure.

Basically, 2011 keeps kicking me, and it couldn't resist one last opportunity for disaster before packing it in and calling up his brother, 2012.

2011 can suck it.

I am hoping that 2012 is a much more upbeat and positive year for all our sakes! (Because lord knows I can't handle much more of this crap!)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Moving day!

It is finally here! After 5 long months, moving day has arrived!

My house restoration is complete (well, there are a few minor little touch-ups but those can wait,) and I can move back in!

Tonight's load included all of the clothes in my hotel wardrobe with the exception of my pajamas and fresh t-shirt and jeans combo for tomorrow's labors, all of the books I purchased while I was here, all of the new bedding, even though there are no beds there yet, and some miscellaneous odds & ends that just packed up nicely with other stuff. It seems like a pretty minor thing (and when faced with the task ahead, it is pretty minor,) but hauling all of that crap out of my hotel room, loading it into my car, and then unloading it and hauling it to second floor bedrooms, along with the new TVs and other items I'd squirreled away in a corner of the basement (adding another flight of stairs to the mix) is quite a feat! I am happy to have the help of movers to bring all of the rest into the house, but unpacking it and putting it where it belongs is going to keep me plenty busy. (I am so glad that I have fully recovered from my illness, or this would be literally impossible and I would have to Christmas in the hotel, EW.)

So then comes the hard part. After everything is unpacked I will have to determine what has gone missing, or was damaged and needs replacing, locate a suitable replacement, purchase it, and get it where it needs to be... You'd think that shopping for all new stuff would be fun, but on this level, trust me, it is a huge chore and I don't look forward to it!

Wish me luck! I fear I shall need all I can get!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Delays delays delays...

I've been working on the Vegas novella post, but I've been sick for the last week... And for the record, I don't mean I had a sniffle, I mean I had a nasty flu bug that rendered me useless and bed-ridden for the week. I literally only got up long enough to get an occasional drink of water, go to the bathroom, or puke that drink of water back up so hard that I peed on myself. (Really... I have no shame at this point.) I am not talking just a little tinkle like if you were to sneeze really hard... I'm talking puking my guts up so hard and continuously that I made a puddle... It was ugly.

And this week's delay is that I get to move back into my house on Thursday! So my efforts will be focused on getting some extra real work done so that I can devote home time to unpacking my life and resettling into reality outside of this stupid hotel.

...But you know me, I won't leave you totally high and dry! Here is the official video for a song that I am totally obsessed with at the moment. (The video is pretty awesome in my opinion as well.)

I'll get back to you when I can.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Back in action.

Before the break, I informed you that I was headed out to attend the funeral of a family friend. His viewing and services were the Tuesday and Wednesday immediately prior to Thanksgiving. When you're talking about the untimely demise of a young and seemingly healthy friend who was like family just days before a very family oriented holiday, and watching him be buried in the plot immediately above the sister you lost just over a year ago, you know it probably isn't going to be one of those holiday events that is memorable for its enjoyment, laughter and togetherness. It's far more likely that this is going down in the books for being memorable for all the wrong reasons...

Well, yeah...

So that is pretty much what we expected going in. And even those expectations were exceeded in all the wrong ways.

You see, after Cole's services, we went out to a family dinner because nobody wanted to be bothered with the effort to cook, and we knew we still had to do all the meal preparation for the traditional Thanksgiving meal that was planned before any of this transpired. We all came home from dinner. We all changed out of out mourning clothes into more comfortable attire so that we could do the meal prep in relative comfort. As we are doing the mixing, chopping, and pre-heating, suddenly the family dog starts making loud strange noises. We all go to see what is going on. The dog proceeds to have a massive hour-long seizure and expires.

Yeah... You read that right, the family dog had a massive seizure and died. Because, really, when it rains, it pours.

(I wish I could make this stuff up.)

And that was how this year, Thanksgiving became known as the "S----- Family Holiday Craptacular!"

I've been catching up on the work I missed when I left town unexpectedly to participate in the Craptacular, and I've been working on the Vegas recap for you. I haven't forgotten.

Keep it breezy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

On a break until after the holiday...

I got a call last night from my little sister telling me that I never saw coming. It started with the words that start so many horrible conversations, "...Are you sitting down?"



While growing up, there were 6 of us kids. Five of us were legally and biologically related, and the sixth was a family friend and only child who we regarded as a brother for all intents and purposes. From family vacations, major and minor events, holiday plans, weekend movie nights, to the mundane little errand running and grabbing a quick lunch, the sixth man was always a factor.

Last night, only one day after his 30th birthday, we lost our friend and brother, Cole Spinner.

Only a year and a half ago, when we lost our sister, Kim, Cole was the one who had provided the appropriately inappropriate laughter. He made us smile and laugh in the darkest moments and it was the last thing that any of us thought was possible. But that was Cole; when there was nothing to laugh about, no redeeming moment in sight, Cole made it ok to be ok for a moment. Cole was the glue that held a lot of us together, and while we are better for having known and loved him, the world is a worse place without him in it.

I will be on hiatus for Cole's services, and the holiday. I hope that you and yours have a wonderful holiday, and that you hold tight to the ones you love, and that you don't take them for granted. Be thankful that they are there, and that you can hug them, and that you can tell them that you love them even when they pester you and make you want to tear your hair out. There will come a time for all of us when that can't ever happen again... Make the most of it while you have the chance. Celebrate your family and friends, and friends that might as well have been family. Love them for who they are. Cherish the moments you have when you have them. In the blink of an eye it can all change and I don't want anyone to miss it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I promise you! (FOR REAL!)

You already know that I went to Vegas. What you don't know, (because up until now, I haven't told you,) is that I am back.

There is a post coming on the topic, but it took me a couple of days to recover, a couple of days to process my experiences, a couple of days to house/pet sit for my brother, a couple of days to strip 70 years of paint off of some doors in my house, (because the contractor was wanting to chuck them and replace them with some non-matching modern doors, because he didn't want to "waste time" with stripping them... And I was having none of that, so I did it myself) and it is taking a few days to put this post together because it is epically long. If you want it in installments, I can break it up and post what I've got so far, but I think full comprehension and absorption requires a dedicated mini-marathon of reading the events in text... It might be spectacularly boring to you since you weren't there, but you can stop any time. I won't even be offended, in fact, I won't even know! That's the beauty of internet anonymity!

Basically, this post is to let you know I survived Vegas, there is a post coming, but it is taking some time because I'm trying to make reading it even a little bit comparable to experiencing it, and that takes a little extra effort.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Sin city bound!

I leave for Vegas in the morning.

Basically, I am cheating on the hotel I live in with a better hotel that I only see when I take fancy trips out of town... And I have no remorse.

I scheduled this trip before I knew the misfortune that would befall my home, and after living in a hotel for more than three months, you would think that driving to the airport, hopping on a plane and going to stay in another hotel is the last thing I would want to do. You'd think that I would just want to go home and be done with it... And while there is some truth in that, the fact is that I know that there is no going home this weekend anyway, so I am going to live it up in the desert for a few days.

And it is going to be fantastic.

Don't worry, I still love you, and I'll take plenty of pictures and come back with great stories... Of course, seeing as this is Vegas we're talking about, there is a good chance that I won't be able to tell most of the best stories, but still, I will have stories... and surely at least one of them will be worth re-telling to you, and yet safe enough that we don't compromise anyone's confidentiality, because we all know what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas.

See you in a bit... You'll probably never even know I was gone.

Friday, October 21, 2011

This is the worst trip I've ever been on...

So nearly three months ago, my house caught fire... and for nearly three months I've been living in a hotel.

There is surely a contingent out there among the masses who believe that living in a hotel for three months would be totally awesome... Those people would be wrong.

The fact is that hotel living is not without its perks. I mean sure it is essentially like living in a furnished apartment. And sure there is a housekeeper on staff to do most of the menial housework like changing sheets, making the bed, vacuuming, taking out the trash, and wiping down the bathroom to prevent unsightly soap scum buildup. Then there are additional perks like the pool and hot tub, which I don't have at home. And all of that is on top of the fact that I can run the heat or the A/C as much as I want without having to worry in the least about the utility bills, while the A/C and furnace at home are both turned totally off, keeping the actual utility bills down to levels so low that the utility company actually called to ask if they could check the meter because the usage was so minimal. That's all lovely and all good... But let me illustrate for you the flip-side of this situation... At least the flip side as I see it... (Because I admit to some quirks that not everybody out there would totally agree with.)

First off, I can't cook a decent meal. That's not to say that I don't possess the skills to assemble a meal. I'm saying that the cooking setup going on here is worse than what I had access to in college. I essentially have a microwave, a fridge, and a hotplate. If you can't nuke it or cook it on a cruddy heated coil, you are going out to dinner. Sure the prospect of going out to dinner every night seems pretty sweet, until you actually have to do it... See, I actually like to cook. I like to bake, roast, and broil. I like to steam veggies, I enjoy grilling out back, and I find a certain relaxation in doing so... Also I derive a certain gratification from knowing exactly what is going into my meals. The control over the ingredients of a restaurant meal is minimal at best... I mean sure I can go to a sit-down joint and order a specific meal off the menu telling some baked out high school junior no salt or no mayo, but it never comes out right, and sure it will probably taste pretty good, but I can promise you it won't be prepared in the way I would prepare it, and that in itself is always a letdown. (I can't tell you how many different restaurants I've been to and found broccoli as a side item only to be completely disappointed when I actually get it in front of me... TOO MANY!) Mind you, the bills for all of the dining out have to be paid at the time of service, and the insurance company seems fine with letting those bills stack up so that they can just settle up when all of this is over in one lump sum... Personally, I'm not a fan of overspending on foods that I could better prepare to my specifications and awaiting remuneration at an undisclosed later date. Just give me a full kitchen and a full setup of proper utensils, and call it a day.

Then there is the fact that I actually enjoy a little light housekeeping... I am a stress-cleaner. I get a special kind of relaxation/zen thing going when I am scrubbing bathroom tile, or sweeping the floors. I like changing the sheets and wiping down counter tops. Its not that cleaning is the greatest thing ever. I am not compulsive about my cleaning regimen, but I admit to a certain level of gratification in revealing glossy clean surfaces which were previously soiled or cluttered with nonsense that should have been put away... But I also enjoy REALLY rocking out when I do it, and blaring the music here isn't really an option... This neatly dovetails into my next complaint.

These are not the thickest walls around. If the neighbors can hear me blaring the music, it also holds that I can hear the guest in the next room who happens to snore like a lumberjack, and I can hear the little high school girl upstairs who is practicing all of the jumps in her latest dance routine and the yappy dog going batshit crazy as its owner drags it down the hall umpteen times a day.

I could go on, seeing as I don't have access to any of my personal belongings, aside from the new items I've purchased since the fire... (Items I'm not overly attached to, unlike all of my stuff that has been stored away while the contractors continue to take their sweet ass time getting things done.) I have this weird bed that gives me a back ache because now I'm old and it partially moves off the box spring all the time, and crinkles because of the weird mattress protector they put on it, and all of the pillows suck, and well, I just want my own damn bed and my sheets and pillows and a mattress of an agreeable firmness... Clearly I'm starting to go off the rails here, so let's just say I'm ready to go home.

FOR REAL.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The task that never ends has ended... but you'd never know it!

So after a few weeks of logging, tabulating, and sorting, and spreadsheet-making, the inventory was completed. It was then submitted to the insurance adjuster, who promptly managed to sit on his hands and not do anything with it in the last several weeks. (Thus, I have had little to report.)

After meeting with him earlier this week, he finally admitted that he hasn't really been proactive about dealing with the 23 page single-spaced inventory. He did approve the expense for the new furniture that had to be ordered, (and not a moment too soon because the furniture has been selected for a couple of weeks now, and we've been waiting on approval to order it, because I don't know if you've priced out quality furniture lately, but that stuff ain't cheap! And apparently it takes 8 weeks for construction and delivery... So the earlier that order was submitted, the better!)

The adjuster also cut the checks to our contractor, so progress on the house has proceeded nicely. He did mention that the Christmas deadline might have been a little long, and that at this point it is looking like a Thanksgiving housewarming at the latest. The roofing, re-framing, electrical work, and insulating is all done. The siding and new trim on the upper portion of the house is mostly complete, and the sheet rock has all been delivered. That really only leaves hanging the sheet rock, painting, hanging new light fixtures, refinishing the floors, and moving all of the furniture and nonsense back in... And unpacking everything. I have been slowly assembling a workable wardrobe with what little money the adjuster has elected to throw my way so far and I am uncharacteristically optimistic about how things will go from here on out. I wholeheartedly admit that while the insurance adjuster has dragged his feet so far, he has been good in every other regard and even told the furniture store to just let him know if there is anything else we might need. He has had a pretty good sense of humor and been pretty willing to be reasonable on most any request that comes to mind. (Taking care of the hotel expense directly, handling questions from and paying for the crews that did the emergency work of collecting all of the clothes and other soft goods for cleaning the day after the fire happened, etc.)

I have busied myself with shopping, (a task I used to enjoy, but now find to be a bit of a chore,) office work, and clearing out the crap that was left behind in the basement... (Probably left behind because pretty much anyone can see that it really was crap.) Hauling damp boxes and moldy fabrics up out of the basement and out to the trash has been a nasty pain in the ass, but it was something that needed to be done even before the fire, so now that a lot of the nonsense was cleared out for treatment of smoke and water damage, it has been just a little easier to work with the extra space on hand.

That's really all that has been going on... Sorry it isn't more interesting or amusing, but that's my life at the moment.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The task that never ends...

So in my last post, I complained about my inventory, among other things. As the title here might imply, it is an ongoing challenge and just when you think you're over the final hurdle, the race officials hand down a ruling that says you've got to take another lap or two.

I should note that I'm not complaining about my plight as a means of generating pity. There are few things I find so loathsome as being the object of other people's pity. Even when my situation is bad, and even when I complain about it, it isn't ever for the sake of getting people to feel sorry for me. (I'm the first to admit that there are many people in far worse situations, and that in the grand scheme of things, I have a lot working in my favor.) The primary reason for my whining is generally to inform other people what I've been up to, and why I might be in a foul mood if I should happen to take a harsh tone at some point in our conversation.

So the latest update to the tale is that since the original tally of all the items in the house was completed, the next step in the process has been to take all those hand written notes and convert them into a readable format so that the insurance adjuster can actually decipher and dissect the list, and then decide what is going to be covered when all of this is said and done. A simultaneous hurdle in this step is that as I am typing up the list, I also have to figure out where to find all of the items were when they were damaged, where a suitable replacement can be found, and how much that replacement is going to cost given local market pricing. (Local market pricing means I have the dubious honor of going out to local stores and tracking down items one at a time and listing the cost plus local sales tax.) This is a particular challenge in a house populated not only with my more modern items, but also with a bevvy of antique items owned by my grandparents prior to my arrival. Pricing all my art supplies made me remember just how expensive all those art supplies were in the first place! (For some classes, I now realize that I spent more on art supplies in one semester for a single course than I spent on all of my other course materials for the same semester combined!)

I also get to talk to contractors about the repair process... What I want, what I don't want, what I would like to change since we've ripped out all of the plaster and have to re-frame the roofline and half of the upstairs anyway, might as well make any reasonable changes while they are at their least expensive and most hassle free!

Aside from the list, my life is boring. I pretty much do nothing but work on the list and other fire-related crap every "spare" waking moment. Nothing else to report. Hope you have a great day!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Just a quick update...

So after the recent events, there is not a great deal of new information to report, but here is what I have to offer, most of this is going to be fairly obvious and straightforward, but at this point, that's really all I've got left.

  1. Living in a hotel sucks. A lot.
  2. Living in a hotel that doesn't include the two channels I watch the most, (Comedy Central and CNN) because they are not deemed "family friendly" and having to get my daily fix of both real news and fake news solely through online outlets REALLY sucks. A lot.
  3. Completing a line item inventory of everything you own so that you can submit it to an insurance adjuster for approval SUCKS. A LOT. (Side note: I don't care who you are, or how you live, but I can guarantee you that until you have to do an inventory of everything one item at a time, you have NO IDEA just how much nonsense you actually own.)
  4. Completing said inventory in a house where the temperature hovers somewhere around 125 degrees because it has been taken off the power grid so that it can be entirely re-wired (it was an electrical fire, after all,) while the house is full of generator-run heaters and heat circulators in an attempt to dry out the plaster, in the middle of a summer heat wave is more than a little sucky as well.
  5. Finding out that the plaster couldn't be saved anyway and had to be ripped out the day after the inventory was done is more than a little irritating.
  6. Finding out that the contractors have ordered up a full-blown crane so that they can just cut off the entire roof and put it in a giant dumpster in sections is a strange combination of fascinatingly cool and horribly disconcerting.
  7. Watching all of the work that I've put in over the last 6 months be utterly destroyed by the fire, the firemen running in and out, and the water that they used to put out the fire was horribly depressing.
  8. Homeowner's insurance seems like an expensive hassle... Until you need it... At which point it becomes TOTALLY AWESOME. Spend the extra money on the mack daddy of insurance available to you, because if you ever have a claim of any real magnitude, you want to be able to know that in the end it is all going to be ok!
  9. That said, knowing that my house is going to be re-wired to current code, re-insulated to current code, having almost all of my home repair and upgrading projects handled as a result of this incident, (from a new roof, new siding, new plaster, paint, refinished hardwood floors, etc... The list goes on,) is TOTALLY awesome.
  10. While it might seem kind of awesome in theory to get to shop for all new clothing, fixtures, and furniture, in practice, when it has to be done ASAP, and all at once, it is a huge headache and becomes a chore much more rapidly than you think.
So that's the update. Now you know.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Well, that certainly fits...

I have long believed that my life was some kind of grand experiment with Murphy's law. I don't think so highly of myself in a religious sense to think that my life is comparable with that of Job, but I do adhere to the premise that most of the time Murphy's law is in full effect, and he is usually lurking around the next corner, waiting to catch you off guard, trip you, and laugh at you as you lay bleeding on the ground.

The latest adventure in the life of Liz is very much in keeping with this lifelong theme.

So what happened now, you ask.

Well, two weeks ago, I went on a nice little vacation to visit my best friend and her new baby for a week, and to help her in whatever way I could. It was a great little visit and a lovely little vacation. At the end of the week, I went to the ranch for my annual family reunion, and it was a great time as always. I came home, returned to work, returned to working on my house, priming the plaster that was installed in my kitchen while I was away, and generally got back to business as usual.

Thursday afternoon, everything changed.

As I was working on some paperwork for my boss, I noticed that the room was getting a little hazy. Knowing how hot it has been here in the Midwest, and that my ceiling fan is not only old, but also had been running for multiple days on end, I figured that maybe the motor was burning out. I went to open a window to vent out the room. Upon my arrival at said window, much to my surprise I see that there is fire in my gutter and on my roof-line just below that window.

Yeah.

Fire.

I grabbed my computer, my wallet, and my phone and I ran out to the front yard. Five fire trucks and four hours later, the upper floor of my home was a charred, steaming war zone, and the lower floor of my home was thoroughly soaked and continuing to drip heavily on pretty much everything that the fire spared. And with that, in addition to a large chunk of my home's structure, a lot of my stuff and 6 months worth of lovingly completed renovations went down the drain.

The fire department determined that it was the result of an old junction box that was over-taxed by the heat. Of course, the insurance company knows that such a ruling would mean that they would have to cut several large checks to contractors and me, so they brought in their own investigator who still hasn't issued his ruling.

So here I sit, in a hotel, in newly purchased clothing, because everything in my wardrobe is either a loss, or stinking of smoke. I will likely not be back in my house until Christmas if the initial time line that I was given holds.

Don't you wish you had my awesome life?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's day selections from the internet...

Sunday is Father's Day. Since I don't have any kids, I have no baby-daddy, so this is a holiday spent reflecting on my experiences with my own father.

Sure over the years we've had our differences. We've had big fights, harsh words, and ugly times in our past, sure. Hell, when it comes to politics, we pretty well just agree to disagree and try to avoid the topic altogether. When it comes to disagreements we've pretty well reached a quiet detente. We both pretty well know when to leave well enough alone. We still talk on the phone fairly regularly, we see each other as much as our busy schedules and geography will allow, and when we hang out, we sit down and chat over a few cold beers while I tell him about my latest home-improvement projects, and he tells me about his latest interim-administration job and where his new post has taken him this time around, and then we start talking about the good ol' days and he repeats some story about his childhood that I've already heard 900 times, but it hasn't lost its charm, and it makes him so happy to tell it, so I sit and listen, waiting for some new detail that inevitably appears with each retelling.

So this post is for the dads out there.

First off, a video that I cannot recommend highly enough!

We all know that Samuel L. Jackson is the baddest motherfucker out there, and so when it comes to finding a voice provide the audio track for the greatest adult-children's book ever, OF COURSE he was the only logical choice.



And secondly, a selection that I find amusing because I see my dad in so many of the pictures on this site. The only thing that prevents me from submitting pictures of my own father is that I have so many quality shots to choose from, and it hurts my brain trying to winnow them down before deciding what to submit for consideration.

So here's to all the dads out there, including my own... Throw some meat on the grill, sit back in the La-z-boy, crack open a cold one, and enjoy your day... And just know that we remember what you always told us, you brought us into this world, and you can take us out... We know... But I'm pretty sure we can all outrun you now... Not that we'll need to!

Friday, June 17, 2011

So this explains it...

"I don't know why I started writing. I don't know why anybody does it. Maybe they're bored, or failures at something else."
Cormac McCarthy

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Another day, another insultingly sexist conversation...

So, since noticing the pattern of sexist conversations I've encountered lately, in an effort to start ridding the male population of their sexist views, I have made a conscious effort to present a decidedly overly-feminine consumer image when engaging in typically more masculine shopping situations. I put on a reasonable amount of makeup, but make special efforts not to OVER-do my face or hair. I sport more girlish clothing, so that there is no mistaking that I care about my appearance, and there is no mistaking me as anything other than decidedly, solidly female. I do own a few skirts, dresses, flouncy tops, and one or two shirts with reasonable, (read: tasteful) sequin embellishments.

Now, to be clear, we're not talking anything over the top... I'm not going to Home Depot in a ballgown, nor do I own anything "bedazzled" with jewels. We're not talking flashy, whorish apparel. But I admit to deliberately playing up the feminine factor for personal research purposes.

I peruse the aisles of the auto parts stores, or head to the hardware department, and deliberately don't ask for help if I don't need help. Basically, I will go in, get what I need to get, and browse if I feel like browsing, but I don't make a big production of looking like I'm helpless and need guidance. Now, having worked in retail, I understand that many of these retail establishments have established customer-service-based policies that their employees are directed to follow. (Basically, if the workers aren't actively engaged in a project, and they see a customer who is not actively being assisted by another worker, they are generally at least supposed to ask if the customers need help with anything. I get it... That's why those interactions don't count... Unless the worker persists after I have waved them off... THEN IT TOTALLY COUNTS.) The latter is exactly how my most recent insulting interaction went.

While mowing my lawn, I found that the blade was not cutting to maximum efficiency... Seeing as I don't know any tinkers who sharpen mower blades instead of simply advising folks to just buy a new one, I just went to buy a new one. (Blade, not lawn mower.) I went to the establishment where the lawn mower was originally purchased. (The hardware department of a large department store.) Seeing as I had just wrapped up mowing the lawn, I was wearing nothing more feminine than flip-flops, jeans and a more female-friendly-cut v-neck T-shirt. I walked straight over to the area where the mower blades were kept. I grabbed the blade that I needed for my specific mower. I proceeded to walk away from the display and towards the nearest open cash register. Before I could make it more than three steps, a rather rotund store employee stopped me... The following is a very real transcription of the encounter.

The rotund male simpleton approaches all too ready to lend an unwanted helping hand.

"Can I help you find something?"

"No... I just needed a lawn mower blade. I found the one I wanted, now I just need to find an open register."

"Oh. Well, are you sure it is the right one?"

"Yes. I am sure. I double-checked the part number and everything."

(Note: the encounter should have ended right then and there, but judging by the next statement, it rapidly became clear that this guy was gunning for total evisceration.)

"Well, are you really sure? That particular blade isn't a big mover."

"Yeah, I already told you I was sure. Was I not convincing enough with my delivery?"

"Uhh, well, you know that's for an electric mower, right?"

"Well, call me crazy, but I figured it would work just fine for me considering it is the right size AND exact part number for what just so happens to be the electric-powered mower I use to lower the height of the grass growing in the little rectangle I call my lawn."

"Oh, so you have an electric mower?"

"Pretty sure I just said that. I mean I tried just throwing down more dirt to make the grass just look shorter, but I found that this is much more cost-effective, and I don't have to keep elevating the flower beds."

"Well, it's just that most people use gas mowers."

"And between rising gas prices, the push to go a little greener, and attempting to avoid unnecessary carbon emissions, I am pretty sure that my electric-powered model, while a bit of a hassle is equally effective at removing the unwanted portion of my lawn. I still have a rotary mower with no power supply at all, too... I tried getting a goat, but being inside the city limits the neighbors complained, plus he snored too loudly in bed."

"Well, a goat wouldn't really be all that effective at getting a consistent length over the whole lawn."

"And I see you don't understand sarcasm. Don't sweat it. It's new."

"Uhhh..."

(Around this time, what appeared to be a well-intentioned trainee approached from stage left. Based on my interaction with this second fellow, I think he was prime management material by comparison to that first doofus who had no business interacting with anyone... EVER.)

"Are you ready to check out, or is there something else we can help you find?" says the trainee.

"No, I think I'm ready to leave this establishment."

"Do you need any assistance with this product, or need help installing it? We have a service department here!"

"Well, thank you, that is the most constructive thing that anyone has said to me since I got here. I think I can handle the installation, but I admit that before I came here, I was having some trouble removing the old blade."

Doofus really thought this was his opportunity to shine!

"WELL... just remember, it is 'righty-tight-y, lefty loose-y' and you should be fine."

"Yeah, thanks. I know how nuts and bolts work. My problem is that the locking nut won't turn without also rotating the drive shaft, and my crescent wrench doesn't fit between the blade and the underside of the mower when attempting to grip the shaft... and there is no way to lock the drive shaft on this particular model of mower."

"Oh... UHHHH...." Doofus said while vacantly staring at my chest.

"Yeah, see, in addition to knowing which way to turn a nut, I also know those fancy mechanical words." I sharply retorted to Doofus, my words dripping with derision and disdain. Turning my attention to the more helpful trainee, I asked, "Any ideas for that particular problem?"

"Oh, well, if possible, try pinching the drive shaft with some pliers, maybe needle-nosed pliers if standard pliers won't fit. If that doesn't work, or you can't fit any kind of pliers under the blade, I'd say bring it in to the service department and see if they have any ideas."

"Thank you. That was the least insulting thing anyone has said to me since I entered this establishment. You have been very helpful... I hope that if you are on commission that you get credit for this sale."

"I'd be happy to ring you up right over here."

The trainee and I walked to the nearest register, with Doofus in tow, most likely to 'supervise' the trainee in the actual monetary transaction.

I got the new blade home, managed to get the locking nut off unassisted, and installed the new blade. Since then, my lawn is looking as lovely as ever... No thanks to Doofus the incompetent.

And while I have no doubt that Doofus is incapable of learning from this experience and checking himself before speaking to, and thus insulting ... well... ANYONE, I can only do my due diligence to present valuable learning opportunities whenever possible.

...And people wonder why I walk around being so continuously perturbed so much of the time.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Hello, ye olde interweb!

It has been a while. I admit that I have been lax in my duties as the gatekeeper of awesomeness known as the Fun Time Happy Hour. I will buy you all a round the next time we hang out!

So... The world has carried on, as it has been known to do, while I have been away, toiling and plotting my scheme for global domination. It is so nice to know that the world can be counted on in that regard.

I have once again asserted my power and awesomeness by fixing my own car ...again. (Note, this was a second problem, and not a failure of my previous fix.) This time it was the air conditioning. Seeing as we have come to the official start of summer, I figured it was high time to get my A/C up and running again. In fairness, it has been broken for well over a year, and since I don't typically mind rolling the windows down, I just didn't bother with it... I mean the heat still worked through the fall, winter, and early spring, so I was ok for a lot of that time... But remembering how I had to sweat it out all last summer, I figured I should probably just go ahead and do what needed to be done.

You might recall from my previous posting about fixing my own vehicle, you probably have a vague recollection of what was going on... If not, here's a refresher.

Almost 2 years ago, I was driving back down south after a trip to visit my mom, and about halfway into the trip my A/C stopped working. Ordinarily, that wouldn't have been a HUGE problem, except it was mid-afternoon, mid-August, it was the South, and oh yeah--my windows wouldn't roll down at the time either... and I still had a good three hours to go in my road trip. I had no choice but to sweat it out that time. And upon completion of that trip, the ability to roll down my windows was far more important to me than the A/C... Besides, with the A/C not running, I enjoyed better fuel economy, which was fine by me! So I fixed the windows. Not long after that trip was when the engine mount said sayonara, and we all know I let that go on rattling for WAY longer than I probably should have. But while I was having an oil change, and the mechanic was telling me about the engine mount being a serious problem that he wanted me to dump $500 on, I mentioned that my A/C had died, and that I wasn't sure if I'd just thrown a belt or if I had something more serious going on. The guy looked at it, and said yes, I'd thrown a belt, but it was because the pulley wheel was locked up... So that'll be another $300 to fix. HA! Isn't that cute!

I told him I wasn't interested in either fix once we got down to brass tacks, and I let both problems persist for a long time. Well, that engine mount is still fine, so my car is still purring like a kitten, and on Tuesday after work, I decided that I wasn't going to sweat it out for another summer... I mean I wasn't going to drop three hundred bones on paying someone else to fix it, but if I could fix it myself, I would happily pay for the new parts and get that shit handled. So, riding on the ego boost from my last fix, I waltzed into the auto parts store in my bright pink shirt, and the grizzled character behind the counter asked me what he could help me find as I browsed the shelves looking to pick up some WD40 while I was out.

"Hey, can I help you find something?"

"Yeah... I'm looking for some WD40 over here, but you..."

"Oh it's right ove..." He tried talking over me, but I had already grabbed a can and proceeded with completing my sentence.

"Yeah, it's right here... I was saying, while I was looking for the size I wanted, you can go ahead and pull me an A/C compressor belt and a new tension pulley wheel for my Nissan."

"OH!? ...You need a pulley wheel?"

"Yeah, and I need the belt that runs on it. Is that a problem?"

"Well, no, but how do you know that you need a pulley wheel?"

"Because I know that the one I have now is locked up, and would throw a belt... Which is why I need BOTH."

"Oh... Well, I mean do you know it's the pulley wheel that is locked up, and not one of the other wheels?"

"Well, the other wheels are attached to the drive shaft in my engine and the compressor in the A/C unit. The A/C unit wheel, I can still turn by hand with ease. And if the one attached to the engine wasn't working, my car wouldn't be getting really far, and I'd have bigger problems, wouldn't you say?"

"Oh. Yeah, I guess so."

"Was it the pink shirt that threw you?"

(Crickets chirped as he stood there dumbfounded.)

"So, about those parts..."

"Coming right up."

After this rather insulting exchange, and the bargain price of $55 bucks for the pulley wheel, the belt, and the WD40, I went home, laid down in my driveway, and fixed that shit like it was nobody's business... So now my hot ass is only hot in the best possible way.

And as I write this, it occurs to me that I have these intensely sexist and insulting types of conversations a lot lately... While I do have a problem with the remarkable frequency that I have to bitch slap a guy and put him in his place, I admit, it is kind of fun to verbally kick these guys in their teeny tiny junk, and take them all down a peg or two... It's either that, or I'm going to have to get my hair cut super short, stop shaving my legs and armpits, and make a concerted effort to embody every other insulting stereotype that would lead these fellas to believe that I'm not the delicate flower they take me for.

Monday, May 02, 2011

I thought this was the highlight of the evening.

With all that has gone on over the weekend, I thought this was really the highlight.



I was markedly less impressed by the fervor over the royal wedding, which I couldn't have cared less about, and the storm damage in Alabama takes the cake for the low-light of things. Fortunately all of my friends and family are safe, though I did have 2 friends who survived the storm by hiding in an interior closet while their upper floor disintegrated, and the rest of their house was reduced to rubble around them.

I was also unimpressed by the uproar in the streets over the late-breaking weekend announcement of Osama's demise. I mean I am glad that the world is rid of him, but by no means am I dancing in the streets in jubilation. Political assassination is not something to be cheering about, no matter who's agenda it serves. We're not a bloodthirsty country that rejoices in the death of others, no matter how loathsome... Simply staying at home and quietly nodding in justification is celebration enough. Sure the stock market will surge on Monday as a result of the news, but I still won't be able to carry my deadly nail clippers on an airplane, and I'll still have to take my shoes off at the security checkpoint. If anything, this will only result in greater resolve of people who hate everything the U.S. stands for... And the celebrations will only fuel the fire of their hatred.

I guess I'm just trying to see the big picture here, and it's not all as cheery as the reveling would lead folks to believe... But maybe I'm just a pessimist.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Let's chat about a really strange headline for a moment...

Please take a minute to read AT LEAST the headline of this article... The rest of the article is optional, but the headline should be enough to at least draw you in on a decent "WTF?!? factor"

Here it is!

While I am curious how exactly this transpired, I am exponentially more curious about what Pat Robertson has to say on the matter. I mean I know where he's going to stand on the topic in general, but I really want to hear the Pat Robertson soundbite associated with story.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

It's over, and it begins!

So the most ridiculous March Madness tournament in recent memory is over... And with it begins spring and my official start on endeavors in fixing up this ridiculous house.

Springtime means more than just working out in the flower beds and mowing the lawn. (Fun work by comparison!) It also means going through all the knick-knacks in this whole house, clearing out the closets and getting serious about what stays and what gets put out in a yard sale. Of course, when you move into a home owned by a previous generation of family, putting anything in a yard sale means consulting the rest of the family with a rather sizable inventory of items to see if anyone wants anything prior to the big sale. It gets rather convoluted and ridiculous to say the least. The basement has yet to be touched in any really productive regard... It has been consolidated into a relatively small area, (which is to say it has been boxed up and stacked in a rather ridiculous fashion in a lesser area of the basement instead of being spread more thinly across the basement as a whole... Of course, consulting everyone else in the family on this stuff means unpacking the ridiculous boxes to inventory so that everyone else can see what there is to see and going from there).
You see what I mean when I say that this gets convoluted?

It keeps me busy when I have an otherwise idle moment, and I keep telling myself that the worst of this process only has to be done once. Unfortunately, doing it once is MORE than enough.

I am hoping that the giant yard sale generates enough cash that I can spend the proceeds on replastering the kitchen and breakfast room... If there is anything left after that, the kitchen floor NEEDS replacing, and that's not going to be cheap... Especially if it is done right, (in proper tile,) as opposed to just a temporary fix in the form of a cheap sheet of textured vinyl like what is in there now. (I really don't think that we're going to generate that kind of cash, but hey, a girl can dream!)

So, sorry if you feel neglected. I am hoping things will calm down soon! I have no timeline on any of this because I have learned that the minute that I think I've almost finished with a project I discover a new curveball bearing down on me... It's a process. I admit to playing it by ear and learning as I go, but I think I've got a pretty good handle on what needs to happen.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nicknames

Several months ago, I was chatting with my BFF, The Admiral, about some things and the topic of nicknames came up. We talked about how she had maintained her moniker over the years, and dearly loved the title, and as the conversation progressed, we realized that neither of us could recall the reasoning for her being deemed "The Admiral" but no matter what, we knew that it didn't really matter anymore.

In recent months, The Admiral has found herself in a family way. To put it bluntly, she got herself all knocked up, and we here at the Happy Hour couldn't be happier for her.

So she and I were having a chat over the weekend and I decided that despite her changing family situation, rather than adopting a new, more maternal nickname or title, she would be allowed to maintain her current nickname. The reason for this being that as a mother and breadwinner, she would be the commander of her familial fleet. This reasoning was met with approval.

I further noted that since I had not been assigned a real nickname over the course of our friendship that I was taking matters into my own hands and appropriating a moniker of my own.

Generally speaking, I frown on the concept of self-assigned nicknames. They seldom have the genuine resonance to catch on the way you want them to, and often if they manage to catch, they wind up getting all twisted around and misused. So I ran it by her first. I wanted an official sign-off from The Admiral stating that she was on board before I made anything official.

Seeing as she has managed to grow up, get married, and start herself a little family, while I have managed to avoid most of the trappings of genuine adulthood, I selected, "The Artful Dodger" as my new title. It has further roots in my artistic pursuits, and that other aspects of my life are somewhat Dickensian in nature. It really is quite fitting. (And The Admiral agrees.)

So, with that, I became The Artful Dodger... And I invite you to give me any thoughts you might have on the matter.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Shot all to hell...

Let's get right to it. I LOVE March Madness. Every year I spend my winter Saturdays watching men's college basketball because I love it, and as I watch I hope, (though often mistakenly,) that the games I watched will provide some relevant insight when March rolls around... In the end, the games I watch don't matter. They never matter come March. I know that... And I still love it.

This year, the teams invited to the big dance have provided me with some SERIOUS entertainment. I mean we've had more nail-biter outcomes, ridiculous upsets, and just-squeak-by games in this tournament than any in recent memory. Sure my bracket has been shot all to hell, but let's be honest for a minute, with this year's final four lineup, SO IS EVERYONE ELSE'S! And since we're all up shit creek together, let's all just hug it out and acknowledge that even though we would have been better off burning that money we threw into the friendly tournament pool, but if nothing else, we have watched some SERIOUS basketball this year!

I mean sure, I still have BIG problems with the play-in system that they implemented this year, and I know I'm not the only one. And I am even more bothered by the fact that by making the final four, VCU is lending validation to the misguided system. But no matter what, all of the 68 teams came to play! (Except maybe Tennessee, but that is a whole other speculative matter.)

I know I'm not breaking any shocking news, but let's face facts here. This March has been full of surprises and even though my bracket looks like it belongs to someone who entered a pool despite never having watched a single game of basketball in their entire life, and who picked their winners based on something irrelevant like "better mascot" or "more appealing team colors" it must be said that I wouldn't have it any other way!

Man, I love this stuff!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In case you forgot...

I find it rather important to remind people from time to time just exactly how awesome I am.

Today I just got a somewhat more awesome. (Admittedly, I even amazed myself a little bit on this particular occasion!)

First, some back story.

A year and a half ago I was having some car trouble. My air conditioner stopped working just as summer was transitioning to fall... Seems easy enough to cope with, you say, the season is about to change, just roll down the windows when it gets hot... Yeah, but the master switch that controlled all the windows had been wonky bordering on non-functional for roughly 6 months prior to that. Incidentally, the air conditioner decided to crap out for real about 2 hours into a 6 hour road trip... in the middle of the day... in August. So basically it was really frickin' hot out, the A/C had just died, and I couldn't roll my windows down, and I had 4 hours left in my trip. UGH.

Not knowing where to go for a quick fix while out on the road, I struggled through the remaining 4 hours, sweating my ass off the whole way. Upon getting home, I figured it was time to replace the window switch at the very least. Being a thrifty gal, I went to the internet, did a little homework saw that it was an easy fix involving a little more than a screwdriver and a replacement switch, so I figured I could do it myself. I then ventured to the auto parts store got the part I needed and I changed it out. That was too easy to warrant mentioning. But fixing the A/C was a little more involved... I was due for an oil change so I went to the pros... Mind you, changing the oil is easy too, but since I had other issues, I figured the pros could diagnose it while they were already under the hood.

They looked at it, told me what was up, and so I know what's wrong with it, but I never did anything about it because I prefer to roll with the windows down anyway.

Skip forward in time about a week. (Still roughly 18 months ago.) I start hearing a rattling sound. Crap...

So I take it back to the pros attempting to pass the buck onto them saying, "I was just here, now I've got an unsettling rattle going on here... WTF?"

They took a complimentary look, to appease me, (and to cover their asses,) and 45 minutes later, told me that I had a bad engine mount.

"Yep, your engine mount is bad."

"Engine mount? As in, the thing that holds the motor part of my motor vehicle in the place where it needs to be? You mean that kind of engine mount?"

"Yeah... That about covers it."

"So, clearly this is an important part, what would that cost to fix?"

"Well, let me get an estimate written up."

[about 30 minutes later... I am incensed as they clearly know what is wrong, and how to fix it, and they are keeping me waiting for their own amusement... Also I had somewhere to be, and they were making me later and later by the second.]

"Yeah, so here's your estimate."

"FIVE HUNDRED SIXTY THREE DOLLARS!?!? WHAT?"

"Yeah... New parts plus 3.5 hours labor involved. That's the going rate."

"Ok, well, I have to be somewhere. In fact, I had to be somewhere 30 minutes ago when you went to get that estimate. So I don't have 3.5 hours or five hundred sixty three bucks to spend here at the moment."

"Oh, that's ok... We're getting ready to close anyway, there's no way we would get it fixed today."

"So, you have no intention of fixing it now... Interesting... (After a thoughtful pause to consider the exact subtext of the mechanic's previous statement, I continued) Ok, so, I get that this is an important part of my vehicle... But you're telling me that you're closing up, and don't plan on fixing it now anyway... So, are you implying that this is not a part that is so far gone that it is absolutely critical to fix tonight, and that my car is essentially more or less temporarily ok, as long as I can deal with that rattling?"

"Yeah, I mean it isn't un-drivable, you'll be fine for a while."

"Care to define 'a while' a little more clearly?"

"Nah, no telling really... You could hit a pothole tomorrow torque things all out of whack and be way worse off. Of course, you could be fine for a lot longer, as long as you're ok with that rattling, but I wouldn't advise any off-roading."

"It's a paid-off, ten-year-old four-door sedan... Not exactly off-roading material. As for things that could happen tomorrow, I could be hit by a bus, or consumed by a pack of wild dogs... I suppose I will have to take my chances at least until I can pay for the job."

"Ok, well, we'll see you then, I guess."

"MMM-HMMM..." (Which literally translated to, "At the rate you charge? Nope. Not a chance in hell.")

So skip forward to this past weekend. 18 months later, I am bothered by the rattling every day, and yet I have done nothing about it because I am fine with avoiding potholes if it saves me more than five hundred bones. I took a short road trip to visit my dad. As I pulled into the garage the rattling seemed to noticeably worsen. CRAP.

So I did all my visiting with the family, and drove home, paranoid about the worsening rattling. I parked my car, left it alone, did a little more homework on the old internet, and decided that surprisingly, it looked pretty easy, certainly not 3.5 hours worth of work, and if nothing else, it was worth a shot.

Not to bore you further, but I took out that old engine mount, (BTW, it was TOTALLY SHOT ALL TO HELL!) and replaced it with a spankin' new one. And BAM!!! My little vehicle is purring like a kitten again!

A fabulously timed ego-boost for me, because I fixed that shit all on my own using little more than google and a wrench!

So that fix cost me not $500, not $400, not $300, not $200, not even $100! It cost me a grand total of a glorious springtime afternoon spent working outside, a bruised palm, a cursory amount of frustration over some oxidized bolts, and $52 bucks for the new part.

So, yeah, I am a badass.

I am a reasonably attractive, intelligent, sports-loving, home-improving, car-fixing, badass, handy-dandy jack-of-all-trades marinated in awesomeness... Combine that with my fantastic sense of humor, classic aesthetic tastes, the fact that I can cook, and it kind of goes without saying that I'm going to make some man incredibly happy someday... Which is why I can afford to be picky.

In short, I am kind of a big deal...

BELIEVE IT.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bust...

So the Awesome post yielded no awesomeness. And that last post featured a video removed for copyright issues, so in short, the last two posts were total busts.

Sorry.

But buck up everybody! It's the most wonderful time of the year!

No, it's not Christmas... That's a wonderful time too, but I'm talking about something even greater!

It's the time of year where I dedicate time, energy, and attention to one fantastic end. I commit hours in advance to consulting by phone with my best friend so that we can mutually hem and haw over things that ultimately don't matter in the grand scheme of things. At this stage of things, let's face it... It is a quality diversion from all the horrible crap going on, you know, like the impending nuclear meltdown.

What is this wondrous event, you ask?


IT'S MARCH MADNESS!

I'll get back to you after I have taken in countless hours of NCAA hoops, sweating over the outcome of my predicted upsets, cheered for Cinderella teams, even though it will jack my bracket up, and essentially gorged myself on enough college basketball to hold me over until football picks up in the fall... You, know, if we all haven't perished in the looming nuclear holocaust.

In the meantime, I will be behaving like a raving lunatic, frothing at the mouth, and crumpling my bracket in frustration only to uncrumple it 16 seconds later to see if there is any mathematical chance I can salvage my dignity, sanity, or hopes of winning the family pool... I expect that you will either be engaging in the same foolery, or you'll be behaving like a normal person...

Of course, there is also the possibility that you will be quietly quivering in a corner, not far from a pile of your own excrement, praying that the nuclear-meltdown-generated zombies spare you in their quest for global domination... Or something.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

WANT



Despite the fact that this video excerpt is essentially an acid trip on my favorite television show, and that the message is essentially counter to my entire personality, I do still kinda want it as a ringtone... And by kinda, I mean REALLY A LOT!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Awesome things...

So I was made aware of this other blog where people are outlining 1000 awesome things. That is pretty awesome in itself... Makes it easy to locate a little awesome in the mundane any time I feel like I need a little more awesome in my day... Well, that page and this one... Basically they make me feel a little better about life. (Which is totally different than feeling better about yourself by pointing out the utter folly of others like this site, or maybe this one.

I've got a few things that I think are awesome in everyday life that they haven't covered:

1) When the shuffle mode on the iPod goes on a really great run of songs that just perfectly suit your mood or lift you out of a funk... Sure you can continually skip songs to get to the ones you want to hear more, but every once in a while, you pop that bad boy on, hit play, and BAM, instant musical success that just keeps getting more awesome as it progresses. For those of you old enough to remember tapes, think of it as the REALLY REALLY superior mix tape. You know what I'm talking about. The one where it was really evident that the tracks were carefully considered and arranged in a great order to maximize their awesomeness. (Yes, there are also plenty of great mix CDs, but it began with the tape dammit.)

2) That one day that comes along every season where you can officially recognize that the season is changing. You might not always recognize it, but when you do it's AWESOME... You step outside one day and you come to the realization that the new season is making its annual debut. Sometimes it's that first really genuinely sunshiny day after a long gray winter, or the first day where it's genuinely hot enough that you know in your bones that summer is here. And then there's the day after roasting all summer that you realize that it's sweater weather again and that you're about to spend weekends raking leaves and watching football (if that's your thing,) and as the temperatures drop, you can leave the windows open and shut the A/C off. Winter is a little trickier, because a little frost isn't really a strong indicator of winter... Winter is a seasonal change you can smell... It smells like firewood and even that is unreliable depending on how quickly the neighbors decide to get the wood-burning fireplace going... But there is a day in there where you just know. AWESOME.

3) Getting hit on (or complimented) by someone who you thought was out of your league... Married folks, this still applies to you. Nothing ever has to come of it, and yeah, that hottie might be turn out to be a total douche nozzle, but every once in a while somebody just hits on you or gives you a really great compliment, and it just lifts your whole day and makes you think, "Yep, I've still got it..." or if you're more humble, "Wow, I never knew I had it, but I guess I do." AWESOME.

Feel free to leave your own awesomeness in the comments... (Keep in mind I only worked up the ones I didn't see on the already REALLY long list, there is plenty of other awesome out there!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

If being me is wrong, I don't want to be right...

So I am going to keep this brief.

I don't want to be a grownup. Not at all!

Unfortunately, I think that's what is happening.

The other day, I got a valentine card from my dad. Sweet.
The card had $20.00 in it. VERY sweet!

Since I operate on a debit card based system most of the time, I don't make a habit out of carrying cash. The next day, I could feel that crisp $20 bill burning a hole in my pocket. So I went shopping! You want to know what I bought?

1 giant box of kitchen trash bags
1 bottle of conditioner
2 different kinds of bathroom/ multi-surface cleaner
4 rolls of scotch tape

Yeah.

As I walked out to my car, I realized what had just transpired, and I immediately drove myself to my mother's office.

"Feel my forehead!"

"Ok, why? Are you ill?"

"Maybe, just feel my forehead! Am I feverish? Do I have some horrendous disease? Am I going to have to move to a leper colony?"

"You feel fine and you look fine to me... Why are you here? Why do you think you're ill?"

"I just bought trash bags, cleaning products, conditioner, and tape with the money dad sent me as a valentine... I must be ill! Because I KNOW there is no other reason I would ever spend gifted money like an adult!"

"Sorry, kiddo. THAT. JUST. HAPPENED."

"CRAP! I DON'T WANNA BE A GROWNUP! AND YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!"

And with that last statement and a little stomping fit, I felt just juvenile enough that I was able to carry on with my day.

...And then I went and spent money (that I actually earned myself) on books, which is an age-neutral activity for me, but still improved the day as a whole.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Starts and fits...

So I finished painting in the office. And upon moving the bookshelf into the corner where I wanted it, I would have felt a reasonably warranted deep sense of accomplishment, but then I took a minute to look around.

My god! Is this my house? It looks like a bomb went off in here!

I surveyed the damage and essentially came up with the analogy that the place looked like I imagine a house would look if you left an 8 year old home alone for a week, only instead of hot wheels and sundae sprinkles strewn about, it was apparently the home of an 8 year old with a propensity for junk mail, bills, receipts, and dust.

I should note that I don't lend much credence to the idea that we should all be living in homes that are cleaned and polished to the point where they are ready for a professionally-styled photo shoot for "Better Homes and Gardens." I'm all for a home having a lived-in look where you're not afraid to touch anything, but good lord, being able to find a chair somewhere on the main floor that isn't within a foot of a pile of miscellaneous crap might be nice... And I couldn't do that. There was literally crap EVERYWHERE.

Apparently when I set my sights on one task, it applies blinders to every other household chore until the main task is complete. I mean sure I take the trash out before it starts to stink, but I can't really remember the last time I swept the kitchen floor.

And so, today at roughly 2:45 central time, it mentally hit critical mass. And as I attempted to pull the broom and dustpan out of the pantry, and was promptly assaulted by a falling griddle pan, it quite simply caused a mini-mental-meltdown. (Whoa, alliteration.) And this meltdown came at one of those inopportune times when I really would have rather been watching all the college basketball that was on, because its Saturday, and watching college basketball is what I DO on Saturdays in the winter months.

As I swept and mopped, I cursed myself for letting it all slide so much. I am usually so on top of cleaning up after myself as I go, not letting things get so out of hand that a meltdown is necessary, but today, at the expense of my preferred Saturday activity, I did chores like a real grown-up. Laundry is going, the bathroom isn't unsightly, the kitchen floor has been swept and mopped, (though the kitchen still looks like crap until I can get the rest of the bad paneling ripped out, and the walls replastered and painted.) And so the meltdown was quelled to a degree, at least momentarily. (The kitchen floor will be redone at some point in the not too distant future too, but in lieu of replacing the whole thing today, at least the existing surface is reasonably clean.)

I am so glad that I hate the commentator staffing the better games today, so that I can watch hoops and run the vacuum cleaner at the same time!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Every nook and cranny...

So I've made no secret of all the projects I've been working on around the house. I've cleaned out years of clutter and outdated items and papers. I've scraped and patched and painted and rearranged furniture. I've updated window treatments, and shower fixtures. I've scrubbed years of normal use off the items that I intend to keep around. I've moved furniture again. I've scrubbed soot off the stone face of the fireplace. I've pretty well exhaustively handled most of the visible areas of the house to optimize the fashion and function of the spaces on my extremely limited budget.

What haven't I done? Well... The less visible areas leave something to be desired. If it is an area that I have less-than-daily interaction with, it has admittedly taken a bit of a back seat. Sure, I cleared out the kitchen cabinets and drawers. Sure, I cleared all of the unusable nonsense out of the bathroom cabinets. And yeah, in a kind of fluke move, I did really clear out an area of the basement that can function as a bedroom in a real pinch... I mean there is a bed there, (two in fact,) and there are some shoddy paneled walls and a ceiling covering the pipes, wires, and duct work for the rest of the house, but it is still undoubtedly very much a basement, and not a long term solution for a guest room situation. That really only leaves the rest of the basement, the ACTUAL guest room, and most of the closets.

This became particularly salient to me when I went in search of my old yoga mat... I knew I had seen it in the office a little while after my initial move-in and settling period. I remembered seeing it leaning against the bookshelf after I moved the book shelf in there. I knew it was in the house. I looked in the office. (Mind you the office is in a particular state of disarray at the moment, as the office became a catch-all for spring yard sale items, and for my tools and supplies during previous projects, and all of that is also in a particular state of confusion as I have repeatedly moved much of the already confusing contents because I've also been patching the plaster and working on repainting in there too...) After nearly two hours of what I thought was a relatively exhaustive search, looking around the office, my bedroom, my closet, the entirety of the basement, even the trunk of my car. No luck.

During my initial survey of the office, (where I focused much of my attention since I couldn't remember moving it out of there in the first place,) I looked in the closet in there. I shifted around box fans that haven't been used since late summer. I lifted old coats that had been relegated to that closet to keep them out of the way until I can get rid of them properly.

After 2 hours and three re-checks of that closet, I found the missing mat in a box with the wrapping paper that I didn't pull out to use at Christmas time.

This all really just renews my need for the wintry nonsense to hurry up and get it all over with, so that I can have a yard sale and get all this crap out of here!!!

I know this post was boring. But come on, its either this, or we go back to dead air... Something has got to be better than nothing, even something this spectacularly dull.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dear Mother Nature, (an open letter)

I know that you hear the same grousing every year... "Oh, it's too cold in the winter!" and "Oh it's too hot in the summer." I know you must get tired of everybody giving you guff for the standard weather of a given season. I'm sorry about that... Take it for what it is worth and write off most of it as people being too lazy to be bothered with living in an area that has a climate that they find more agreeable. That's usually the case.

As someone who has lived in areas of extreme cold in winter and relocating to areas of extreme heat in the summer, as well as growing up in a land of reasonably balanced whole seasons, I'm not going to bother with such a petty complaint. I know you've got enough on your plate trying to convince the non-science-minded conservative politicians that global warming is real, and that it really is all our fault.

I'm not going to ask you to up and change the system that has worked for you for eons. I am however asking you to cut me a friggin' break when it comes to this snow! I mean, yes, it's winter, and I live in a climate that enjoys all four seasons and winter has its place. It's supposed to be cold. It's supposed to be dreary and gray. It's even supposed to have snow and ice. (And I'm sure you love watching all of the little kiddies rejoice in a day off from school so that they can go sledding on the nearest hill.) I'm fine with all of these things. I am just asking for a break on this snow thing... Sure it can snow. Sure it can be cold. But can you do me a slight favor and let me go a week without the snow? Can't you just double up a couple of these weather systems that are only doling out one or two inches and give me a week or two off? I mean if it ends up translating into dumping 4 inches all at once, that's fine with me. I just want a morning where I don't have to sweep off and scrape down my car. Clearly I don't mind the snowy driveway, or I'd have had it shoveled myself long before that punk kid came around to wake me up on a Saturday morning wanting me to pay him to do it. I'm ok with one or two REALLY BIG snow events where the kids can celebrate an early spring break and have a whole unplanned week off, I'm even ok with several small to medium snowfalls, but this piecemeal, a dusting overnight, an inch here, an inch and a half there, bullshit has to stop!

You're just teasing the kids with, "Oh it's snowing at bedtime, maybe you won't have school tomorrow," only to let them down when they wake up and see that the roads are clear and the lawn is covered with just enough of a dusting to piece together a piss-poor excuse for a two-foot-tall snowman. Either really lay it on thick so that we can really build a truly proud giant snow penis on the local university quad, or just don't bother. You don't have to hustle spring along or anything. The cold and gray days can stay for their seasonal duration, but just quit jerking us all around.

Thanks for your time, I hope you take this under advisement.

Lizzle

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A bleary-eyed Saturday morning rant:

To the kid who woke me up wanting to shovel the driveway, a few customer service pointers:

1 Don't show up before noon on a Saturday, its a weekend, people want to sleep in. Furthermore, you're 2 days late. The snow showed up on Wednesday night... If you really gave a crap about making any cash, you'd have been out on Thursday and Friday. (and don't you give me that, "But I was at school" bologna, I saw the local news, and we both know that you didn't have shit else to do either day because school was cancelled!) And further still, by Saturday morning, the folks who want their driveway shoveled have either shoveled it themselves, given the job to the other annoying teenager who had the brilliant idea to come out shortly after the snow quit, or have driven on it repeatedly turning it into ice, and thus something that you want no part in attempting to shovel.

2) Under no circumstances are you to pound on my front door like you're the police. Do you have a gun and a badge? No? Oh, you say you're only 15? Then quit pounding on my goddamn door like that! The only reason that the citizenry allows the police to pound on doors like that is that they are armed... And for all you know I am armed. frankly you're lucky I opened the door at all, let alone opening it without some manner of weapon in my hand, a la Clint Eastwood telling you to get off my lawn.

3) If I didn't answer the door after the first ring of the doorbell, three more isn't going to make me move any faster. One ring is sufficient. Those who intend to ignore you are going to ignore you anyway, those folks who intend to answer the door after the first ring will not respond kindly to your repeated and overzealous assault on that poor little doorbell button, and my last nerve... You're going to make more money and piss off fewer customers by learning to knock rationally or ring once, WAIT for a few seconds without continued knocking or ringing and when it is prudent to do so, just move on!

Oh and don't come back in the spring you little pissant! I mow my own lawn, and frankly, I don't trust you anywhere near my garage. Now seriously, BEAT IT!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A new week, a new project...

So last week, I busied myself with installing a new rain head in the shower. To anyone who has ever installed a shower head, I'm betting you're thinking to yourself, "Why on earth would that take someone a week to do?" Well, I'll tell you...

I initially found the aforementioned rain head while actually out shopping for other things... (Namely, a vacuum cleaner that actually sucked things up and didn't overheat in the process of doing said sucking, and thus didn't end up causing my house to smell like a slaughterhouse populated solely by dust and death.) So while I was perusing the aisles, I happened upon a rain head that was drastically marked down. (I assume that most of you have never priced rain heads; I assure you that they don't typically sell for anything near what my tight budget would normally allow.) So, having found this bargain, I snatched it up without a second thought. (I also got a new vacuum, and I have to admit, it is kind of badass since it winds it's own cord up when you're done!) Anyway, back to the reason my project took as long as it did. Upon getting home with my new treasures, I immediately went into the bathroom to install the new shower head. I was excited to give it a whirl!

Upon completion of the installation process which took a mere 5 minutes of my precious time, I remembered what I discovered the last time I installed a shower head in this particular bathroom. (I installed my other shower head pretty much as soon as I moved in because the grandparents were still using an unsightly variable spray head that looked like it had just stepped out of 1976, and based on the calcium deposits that made it spray every direction except onto the person standing below it, I found it likely that it had not been properly cared for or cleaned since it was installed all those years ago. But I digress... The lesson I learned upon installing the predecessor of the rain head was that apparently when this house was originally built, Midwesterners were considerably shorter than they are today. I figured this out because the shower arm, (the bit that pokes out of the wall through all the original tile that I don't want to go to the trouble or expense of ripping out and/or replacing,) sticks out through said tile at about 6 feet in height. If it stuck straight out, relying on a shower head to provide an angle, that would be fine by me. I'm shorter... and if I were to have tall overnight guests, they would have to be content to bend down to get their hair wet or pay for a hotel stay... entirely up to them. But the shower arm doesn't just stick straight out. It sticks straight out for about 6 inches, and then it has an unreasonably steep bend so that the end of the pipe comes out around 5'8" which is more problematic. Furthermore, if you add the drop of a couple inches so that a shower head can occupy actual space once attached to the end of the pipe, we end up right around 5'5"-ish, give or take. At 5'5"-ish, we're low enough that EVEN I would have to duck under it to get my hair wet, which is wholly unacceptable. (Especially when you want to get the full effect of showering under a rain head.)

So, I did a little homework. I figured out exactly what I needed to do to remedy this situation. (I even asked a plumber friend of mine about my options!) Upon completion of my research, I determined that a simple solution could be found at my local home improvement store in the form of an adjustable shower arm extender which affords me the opportunity to change up the height and angle of the original fittings.

Unfortunately we had a 2 day break in the action due to inclement weather and shoddy road conditions... Upon determining that the roads were sufficiently passable, I ventured to the same poorly organized home improvement store mentioned in previous posts. I found the part that I needed with relative ease. (Nothing like the tape and toilet seat debacle!) So I purchased the item at a reasonable price and went back home where I promptly installed it.

You would think that would be the end of the story, wouldn't you?

Yeah, you would be wrong.

After completing the installation (roughly a 10 minute process,) I turned the knobs on the extender to adjust the angle of the arm... And though I am not typically possessed of super-human strength, I managed to turn the knob so hard that it just flat out broke off. Knowing that I just bought the damn thing, and that for all I knew it was a freak occurrence due to a flaw in the metal, I returned to the store and exchanged it for a new one. Upon returning home, I installed the second one. I adjusted it, and had no problem. I then showed my mother how I had spent my day, and her inspection yielded a nod of approval. She then wanted to see it work, so she attempted to adjust it. And then SHE twisted a handle off.

Clearly this was a design flaw and poor manufacturing. So I took it back to the store, got my money back, and looked at a different home improvement store only to find the same poorly made brand. At that point, I said to myself, "I'm not operating on the 'third time is a charm method' I am going to look at reviews online and purchase one that is built to do the job right." And that's what I did.

Then I was abducted for three days worth of "we're going to improve your sour jobless mood with some sponsored retail therapy" shopping trips and lunches with momma, so yeah, the shower head was my only project last week.

This week's project: the office and all the horror that that entails! (The office has become a scary catch-all kind of room during my other projects, and was densely populated with odds and ends even before my other projects began.) So this week will be dedicated to clearing out the nonsense, repainting the white walls a far more interesting shade, and then putting the items back into the room in a more amusing and functional fashion.

You know what they say about idle hands!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Quote of the day:

The Admiral and I were talking about the recent mass-deaths of birds and fish, in Arkansas, Louisiana, Chesapeake Bay, and Sweden:

The Admiral: "I'm not buying the New Year's fireworks theory. I don't care what anybody says... Crows are some smart fucking birds. They didn't all of a sudden get confused by the fireworks of a podunk town! I have never heard of such an event around fourth of July, and there are a hell of a lot more fireworks going on then! ... Basically, I'm not buying into any theory that doesn't involve aliens, time travel, or the real answer of the apocalypse we all now know is apparently coming."

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Adventures in the home improvement stores continue...

So last week paint was on sale... So being the natural penny pincher that I am, I went shopping when the bargains abound.

And anyone who has ever bought a can of paint and intended to use it themselves knows that they shake it up in the store for a reason. The pigments are not an original part of the paint, so they can settle out, and they can settle themselves out faster than you might like. So in an effort to prevent a color-matching disaster, I have been very busy getting that mess up on the walls!

But back to the home improvement store adventures. I learned a couple of things about my local stores.

First off, they are not as intelligently organized as you might think. For example, when I went looking for new toilet seats to put in my newly refinished bathrooms, I went looking near the toilets. Mistake. The toilets are over by the bathtubs, I guess it's the porcelain connection. Not finding my quarry there, I figured ok, maybe closer to plumbing supplies? Nope. Not there either. So I passed by all the aisles of various pipe fittings... Hmm, maybe they are near the shower and faucet fixtures? Nope. So much for that idea. ...Now, I know what I'm after, and I know I am in the right store, and I know that the aforementioned store is a profit seeking entity that earns that profit by having the products one needs in this particular situation readily available to the masses. I don't want to look like an idiot having to ask where they keep their toilet seats, but hell, even if I did, I can't find anyone around to ask... So after a few minutes fruitlessly scanning the aisles, I found them. Where, you ask? Why, a mere 6 aisles away from plumbing and related fixtures, well past the electrical section, right near the water filtration units, of course. (The water filtration section including units intended to be installed under the sink, which, if you ask me would be better marketed if you put them near the sink and faucet fixtures... But what do I know?) So I am scanning the aisle of toilet seats and water filtration units, and I find an appropriate and affordable option. Mind you, I also ran across a significantly not-affordable option too. Did you know that there are toilet seats that are not encrusted with gold and jewels and yet still cost upwards of a thousand dollars? A THOUSAND DOLLARS! FOR A TOILET SEAT! JUST THE SEAT! NOT EVEN A WHOLE TOILET! Now sure, it will also function as a bidet spritzing your naughty bits with perfectly warmed water, but COME ON! OVER A THOUSAND DOLLARS? If I am buying that, I'm certainly not the one going out to the home improvement store and buying it myself or doing a do-it-yourself installation. If I am dropping more than a grand on a toilet seat, I am going to call some professional up, and they can get it themselves at some contractor's depot at half the cost and then mark it up to over a grand... INCLUDING INSTALLATION! (Though who would you call for that? There are electrical components involved for that bidet water to be warmed, so am I looking in the yellow pages for a plumber or an electrician?)

The second thing I learned in the home improvement store is that the products we have come to know and love have apparently been appropriated and renamed. For example, did you know that masking tape is no longer masking tape? It is now all considered "painter's tape." I learned this when I was in the paint department and asked where I would find the tape...

The clerk looked at me quizzically, "What? Like electrical tape?"

My impulse was to reply, "I am in a home improvement store's PAINT department asking for tape, and you instantly think 'electrical tape?' If you're that idiotic, you deserve your lot in life as a home improvement store clerk." Being that we just finished with the holiday season, I quieted my impulse and said, "No. I need masking tape... I'm not looking for the over-priced blue painter's tape though... I just need standard masking tape because I am not dealing with any delicate surfaces."

"Uhh... I don't know, but all of our tape is in that aisle down the way... See where the guy with the hat is?"

"The guy in the hat that is 30 yards away and walking toward us? Yeah, I see the guy in the hat."

"Well, it's down by him."

"He's walking down a main aisle here. Is it down by where he was when you pointed him out, or closer to where he is walking now?"

"Umm, well, sort of where he was before... But on the other side."

Impulse control fading out now, "Ugh... Never mind. You just don't worry your pretty little head and go back to leaning against that display there, I will find it on my own. You're doing a great job though... Who knows how long that display would have managed without you leaning there!"

(Now in my retail days, we were instructed to address product location questions by walking the customer to the location. Not by pointing to an area vaguely near where we're talking about, and certainly not pointing to someone who is in motion and who may or may not be near that location when the customer gets to the right area. Seriously... He deserves his lot in life.)

So I passed the guy in the hat. I kept going. I scanned the aisles and eventually found the right one, and there was plenty of tape. All the standard varieties, electrical tape, (strangely not in the electrical department, but that goes back to organization,) the over-priced blue painter's tape I expected, duct tape in colors I had not previously imagined, plumber's tape, (again, not in plumbing,) packaging tape, paper tape, and masking tape! VICTORY AT LAST! And as I examined the various widths of the masking tape, and the ridiculous pricing for the masking tape, and the packaging of the ridiculously priced masking tape in assorted widths, I kind of understood where the clerk got confused. Apparently now all tape previously known as masking tape is now packaged and sold as painter's tape. I must have just confused him by excluding the blue variety and referring to it by it's old name. Silly me.

I will likely post pictures of the improvements once things are closer to being finished as a whole... Right now everything is just a mess!