Wednesday, April 30, 2008

San Diego Here We Come!

A little known fact about San Diego: was discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of
course in German means a whale's vagina.

Todd has a conference in San Diego next week, and I am tagging along for the ride. So far our plans include hitting Sea World, and then seeing some family that lives locally. Unfortunately Todd will be attending his conference during the days, which will leave me to my own devices during the days to explore and visit on my own.

I may post while I am there, but then I might not--you just never know with me. In the mean time, guess which movie the above quote came from and post your guesses in the comments. It's an easy one.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Ready? Aim....


Spring has sprung virtually overnight here in Podunk, Rhode Island. It's been hot out to the point where I am wearing shorts all the time, and the windows on the house (the ones that aren't stuck shut, that is) are wide open to let the spring air in. The trees are starting to get their leaves and the birds are nesting. The flowers that the prior owners planted are in full bloom, and I went out and planted some more bulbs last week and came back into the house drenched in sweat from the early spring heat wave.

But they say about weather in New England, "If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes." Yesterday the temperature dropped, and we pulled on our flannels, fleeces and sweatpants. Todd went out and foraged for firewood, and we built our first fire in the fireplace. We don't even have the doors for the fireplace yet (it's still on order) but we were so bent on wanting to try out our new fireplace.

The house took on a woody smoky smell that instantly made us both homesick--we both grew up in houses that had woodstoves, woodburning furnaces and/or fireplaces. Every time we smell the smoke from one we both comment on how that is the smell of our childhoods. Now it's the smell of our adulthood, as our home now has somewhere we can burn a fire.


Next I will take you to Man Town. One of the more important criteria in our search for a new home was a shed that can be used as a workshop. Todd and I both have mad power tool skills, and we are constantly using them for boat projects and now house projects. The shed at the house is an ideal space for this workshop in that the floor in the shed is raised a few inches to that hoses from a central vacuum system and electrical can branch out to every nook of the shop.

When we were still in the purchase phase of the shop, we saw that there were electrical outlets wired to several spots on the floor, which made it great for putting the table saw right in the middle of the floor without having to run an extension cord to it.

When we moved in we learned that as he was moving out Mr. Doofus McAssholeton snipped every outlet from the floor. Not only did he snip the wires, but he cut the wires flush to the floor so that we cannot use the existing cable to wire up another outlet. We will have to run new wires to install outlets on the floor again. Observe:

Can you believe that?? I keep telling Todd that I am amazed Doofus didn't take all the lightbulbs out of the light fixtures. Anyway, we're handy people and wires can be re-run--we've moved beyond the annoyed and into the amused when it comes to little gems like this that Mr. McAssholeton left behind.
The last 2 weeks we have been working on setting up Man Town. Todd has been standing in the space, turning circles and letting the wheels in his brain turn to help him visualize the perfect workshop--where the benches will go, where the table saw, the router and the miter saw all go. We have constructed some fabulous workbenches and soon all the tools will be laid out on pegboard and perfectly organized.
When ever we have undertaken a home improvement project at our old house I would leave a little grafitti behind in an inconspicuous location. There is a small "B+T" surrounded by a heart on the wall behind the workbench in our old house. There is another one under the laminate wood floors we laid down in the dining room at the old house as well.
Here is my first piece of home improvement grafitti in the new house. It's on the wall just under the new workbench:

And now, I present Todd's fabulous new workbenches, here they are in concept:

Here is the near finished project. He still wants to make shelves under them, so that we can stash more tools, however.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Home Sweet Home

It’s been nearly a month since we’ve lived in our new house. Todd and I were very concerned about how the dogs would handle the move—would they pee all over the house because the house smelled like other dogs? Thankfully only Griffen peed in the house once, and Nemo hasn’t at all. Once our furniture arrived our dogs happily curled up on the familiar smelling beds and couches, and they seemed to be more comfortable with being in a different house. Though I look at them and I wonder what they really think about this situation. Do they wonder when they are going to go home?

When we were outside at the old house, we’d begun using the command “Go home” to tell the dogs to go back into the house. I remember the Saturday morning after the closing my eyes meeting Todd’s the first time I said “Go home” to the dogs. We smiled at each other, because it was the first time we’d called this house "home."

I, on the other hand, am taking a bit longer to feel at home here. We bought this house from a man who was reluctant to sell the house. It’s not like we stormed up the driveway one day and knocked on the door and said “Sell us your house or else.” The house was on the market for a good six months before we’d ever seen it. We figured that because the house had been on the market for so long that he’d be willing to sell it.

No, that was not the case. We entered into an agreement with the guy three times before we managed to make it stick. It took a total of seven months to get the deal to work out after numerous tantrums by the seller. Our friends and family thought we were crazy to keep dealing with this guy, because it is a buyer’s market in Rhode Island (and just about everywhere else in the US) and that if he didn’t thank his lucky stars for having such a willing buyer, then we should walk.

But we fell in love with the house. We looked at others and didn’t find another house in the 7,000 some odd houses that are on the market in this state. After the seller threw the February tantrum (he threw so many in this process that I’ve begun to classify them by month) I said to Todd, “I am so over this guy. If you want to keep fighting it’s up to you. I am done with trying to buy this house.” He kept working at it, and I didn’t want to hear about the drama involved anymore because all it did was make me mad.

Finally the seller, whom at this point I’d begun calling Doofus McAssholeton, cried “Uncle” and we managed to set a closing date—which he ended up delaying by two weeks after we’d signed the agreement because he apparently had forgotten to pack his things and wouldn’t be ready to move out on time.

We finally arrived at the closing, and the extreme drama continued right up until the moment he signed the papers. After he signed his share, he stood up from the table preparing to leave.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” the attorney asked him.

“What?” Doofus asked.

“The keys. You have to give them the keys,” she said sternly as she looked up from the mountain of paperwork that Todd and I would have to sign once he left.

An offended look passed over Doofus’s face, “They won’t need the keys. I’ve never locked the place and I’ve never had a problem. Besides, you guys are just going to change the locks, right?”

Every mouth at the table hung open. The attorney finally spoke up, “You need to give them the keys. The transaction is not complete until you give them the keys.”

He stood there seemingly confused at the concept of having to turn over the keys to the house he just sold. He relented, reached into this pocket, and then muttered something about how we should enjoy his house then stormed out of the room.

That night we slept in the house for the first time, before we’d had the chance to change the locks. Every single noise woke us from the sleep that seemed to be just a few inches out of our reach. The baseboard heater in the living room made a noise that sounded just like footsteps coming up the hardwood stairs from the basement. Every single noise made me paranoid that Doofus McAssholeton, the reluctant seller with who knows how many copies of the keys, was coming into the house to make trouble for us.

The next day Todd headed out to Lowe’s to get new locks and new garage door opener remotes, because Doofus had neglected to give them to us. This was also the day that I turned in from Beej the Fearless to Beej the batshit-crazy-paranoid. Every time Todd left the house, I’d instantly fled into a nervous panic. I was alone in the house, the phone wasn’t hooked up yet, and I don’t have a cell phone. Normally I would love to be alone in my vacant new house—wandering from room to room, daydreaming about the possibilities that paint and furniture would make real. No, I paced the floors in between cleaning the mess that Doofus had left behind. What on earth would I do if Doofus showed up? I couldn’t call Todd, or the police. Every time a car drove by the house my heart would begin to race until Todd returned home. Finally the phone was hooked up, Todd had changed the locks and reprogrammed the garage door openers so that they would work with our new remotes and I felt somewhat safer.

During that week a car with Massachusetts plates parked at the end of the driveway. It sat there for a good half hour, as I started nervously out the window at it and bit my fingernails down to nothing. I finally summoned some courage, stuffed the cordless phone into my pocket and walked down the driveway to get the mail from the box. I kept my eyes on the man in the car as I walked, and only took them off of him long enough to peer into the mailbox. He was sitting in the car talking on the phone—you know, actually using his cell phone responsibly and not using it while driving. I let out the breath I’d been holding as I walked back to the house, trying not to laugh at myself for being so paranoid.

We’ve since unpacked most of our things, bought furniture and slept here for 28 nights. Each morning I would shed a few paranoia molecules until I had none left. I’ve learned the house noises, and find them comforting instead of scary. After a seven month struggle I look around me and think “I am so happy we are here!”

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Too Much

I am going to summon Dave Matthews' song "Too Much" to help me with this post. At the moment I have "So much to say, so much to say, so much to say, so much to say," that I couldn't possibly express it all on my own.

"...I eat too much..."
Yesterday Todd brought home our fabulous new grill. He's had his eye on a Vermont Castings grill for a very long time, and we finally brought it home yesterday. On the way home from the grill store I popped into the market and bought him his favorite, rib-eye steak. I grabbed some turkey dogs for myself, as I am a recovering vegetarian and still can't sit down and eat beef. So while Todd was dignified eating his rib-eye, I was chomping down my hot dogs lamenting that I hadn't thought to buy beer nuts too.

Here's Todd manning his new grill:

"...I drink too much..."
Actually, lately this has not been true, despite the fact that our good friend Mike brings beer when ever he comes over to hang out in the hot tub with us. I am still fighting off a cough, which I've been told is a "bronchial spasm" and have been downing Tussionex every night so I can sleep through it. I haven't touched a drop of alcohol in the last two weeks for fear of ending up in a coma as I sleep.

Though I did plug in our beer fridge, and it is stocked with the beer we moved from the old house. I also unpacked whatever booze we have. I now have a fridge full of beer and a jug of vodka and orange juice in the house just waiting for my bronchi to stop spasming.

"...I want too much..."
I dedicate this line to Griffen, here he is in his single-minded wanting for someone to please just throw this damn frisbee:

"...too much..."
This line is devoted to the expulsion of our ancient woodstove. Here it is, on the day that we moved into the house:

If you look toward the bottom left of the stove, just to the left of the bottom hinge on the door, you will see that the seams on the stove are warped. Due to the fact that this stove has a hole in it, is ugly as hell, and that we would prefer to have a fireplace anyway we have decided to get rid of the stove. Then the clincher for this decision came when the chimney sweep told us that the design of the stove is extremely unsafe and is a house fire waiting to happen.

The stove weighs roughly 400 pounds, and it took us the better part of an evening to get the thing off the hearth, onto a dolly, out the door and to the curb. This was no small feat, and required the whole of the lobe on Todd's brain where all his MacGuyver tendencies are stored.

We very gingerly edged the stove off the hearth and onto the cart. Then we laid down plywood to protect the wood floor as we very slowly rolled it to the door. We discovered the stove wouldn't fit through the door, and had to very carefully turn it as it sat on the cart. We edged the stove to the door, and pondered how we'd get it down the stairs and onto the lawn. We laid down some 4x4's we had kicking around, and hoped for the best:

We gripped the cart as it rolled down the planks, hoping that it wouldn't topple over and forever remain implanted in the front lawn.

Next we addressed the matter of stove disposal. We decided that we'd haul the stove out to the curb and see if a passerby would want it. We have already discovered the scavenger tendenies of the people who drive on our street. We have discovered that we can put virtually anything on the curb and it will disappear within 12 hours or so. We hoped this would be the case with the wood stove.

Here Todd is making a plywood road from the house to the curb, so the stove on the cart would more easily roll away from our house:

You can see how far we'd gotten before I thought I break out the camera:

We tipped the 400 pound beast of a stove onto the side of the road, and rolled it onto the grass. We joked that we will be looking at this thing for the entire summer because nobody would be able to lift it even if they wanted it.
Within 24 hours the stove was gone.
Yesterday I hauled out a metal futon frame that the old owners of my house had left behind, and a TV stand made of pressboard and veneer that we don't need anymore. By nightfall, those were gone as well.
I am glad that somebody who drives on this street is making use of our cast-offs, which makes the recycler in me sing with joy.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mom with the Sticky Fingers

I had posted on one of Kevin’s entries about the spirit of my kleptomaniac mother, and thought I’d share a few of my mother’s sticky finger moments.

Mom wasn’t really a shoplifter, per se. She didn’t go into stores wearing a trench coat so that she could stash things under it. But she was a firm believer in the idea that she should not speak up when the cashier made a mistake in her favor. Years later I am still reprogramming the part of my brain that won’t speak up, so that now I actually do speak up when the cashier makes a mistake—even when it’s in my favor.

Now when I do speak up when I am in that situation, I can almost feel my mother’s hand on my shoulder and her voice saying in Polish, presumably so the salesperson can’t understand what the imaginary voice is saying, “Quiet! You’re getting that for cheaper!” By not speaking up, Mom collected a variety of goods including a camera, and a sled for one of her granddaughters either for free or for some drastically reduced price.

The Legend of the Blue Bin
Mom was notorious for finding useful things on the side of the road as she was driving along. Sometimes she’d find a bungee cord that was in perfect condition, or she’d find tools that had fallen off of a truck. One day, when cities and towns first started collecting recyclables with the regular trash pick up, she came home with a blue bin that said “Western Massachusetts Recycles!” on it. We didn’t have trash pickup at the curb in our town at that time, so we didn’t see trash cans and bins on the street in our neighborhood.

She burst into the garage after coming home from work and said “Look at this great bin I found on the side of the road! This would be great to keep all the garden stuff in, wouldn’t it?”

“Um, Mom? That’s a recycling bin. Somebody put that on the side of the road so the garbage man would empty it.”

“Oops!” she laughed. That bin is still in the garage to this day. I think it contains a volleyball, and various odds and ends in the garage.

Ill-Gotten Umbrella
Several years before the blue bin incident, when Mom used to drive a school bus, she used to go on an outing with the other bus drivers at the end of the school year. One year they all went to Boston for the day. In the afternoon it began to rain as Mom and the bus drivers were shopping in Fanieul Hall. She walked into the Swatch store to buy an umbrella. She stood at the counter and waited for the clerk to finish talking on the phone. She waited for several minutes, and the clerk never acknowledged that Mom was waiting. Mom didn’t want to keep her friends waiting, so she put the umbrella back and left the store, figuring she’d come back for it later.

Awhile later, she went back to get the umbrella. The clerk was still on the phone, and Mom waited with cash in hand for the woman to stop talking. Again, the woman didn’t acknowledge that Mom was waiting. “I know how I’ll get her to pay attention,” she thought as she turned on her heel, umbrella in hand. She walked toward the door of the shop, then out the door. She turned and saw the clerk, still chatting on the phone, and opened the umbrella to shield herself from the rain and kept walking.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Yay or Nay?

OK, Internet, it's honest opinion time.

A few years ago I bought this shirt, in an effort to funk up my wardrobe a bit. What do you think of it? Should I keep it and continue to wear it, or chuck it?

Here's a closeup of the pattern, nevermind the dorfy look on my face, as I am getting acquainted with the timer feature on my camera. If you look closely you will see there are 2 seams that make an upside down V just under my breasts.

Here it is from further away, with me accidently pulling off some sort of pout that I cannot explain.

Is this shirt outdated? Please be brutally honest because I don't want to walk around in it looking like a dork. Vote in the comments.
Thanks for playing!


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Can A Rash Spread and Get Better at the Same Time?

The creeping crud I picked up from the hot tub is getting better. But it’s spreading too. How is that possible. You'd think that when it's getting better it won't spread, right? It's now on the backs of my thighs, and I've seen a few more spots on my arms. It hurts a lot less, and I can wear jeans again without pain. On Sunday night I was completely horrified with myself because I wore sweatpants into the Chinese restaurant for dinner. I don’t like to go out in sweatpants, unless I am to or from the gym.

It looks like I have a million zits on my body. Because it’s so widely spread all over my body I’ve already used up one of the tiny tubes of ointment as of Monday night, and am now raiding Todd’s tube. Todd doesn’t have it as badly as I do; he has a dozen or so spots, where mine number into the thousands. I bought the ointment on Sunday and now need more. For some reason the pharmacy won’t let me refill the prescription because it’s too soon.

We have since drained the hot tub, re filled it, ran jet cleaner in it—which involved running it for 15 minutes, then letting it sit stagnant for an hour and running it again. The first time the jet cleaner was run the cleaner got so foamy it began to bubble out from under the cover and down the sides of the tub a la an I Love Lucy episode where Lucy puts too much detergent in the washer and ends up with a house full of suds. After the jet cleaner finished we had to drain the tub again, hose it down, and then refill it again.

Today the guy from the hot tub store is coming to check it out. I keep cracking up at the concept of having a “pool boy” at our house and what might or might not happen in the cabana. But then Todd reminds me that we don’t have a cabana. Not that the pool boy would come near me anyway, see above “creeping crud,” a “million zits.”


I need to get back into running. I ended up about 10 miles shy of my March running goal. With the move I haven’t run all week. Now that I have this rash I am afraid to run and chafe the sores with a sports bra or sweat on them. The days are going by and my mileage goal for the month is starting to become a joke. The moment this stupid rash is gone, I am getting back into my routine. Up the street from my house is a University of RI remote campus that is insanely beautiful. I will plot out a running route through there when I am ready to get back into it again.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Well, It’s Not Herpes

On Saturday morning I stepped out of the shower and noticed some tiny red bumps on my hips and stomach. I didn’t think anything of it, and figured my skin was breaking out because we have well water at the new house and city water at the old house. I got dressed and went about my day without giving it a second thought.

The red bumps got bigger. And then they spread down to my legs, up my sides, across my back, and a few showed up on my arms. They hurt when I touched them, and when my clothing rested against them. I went to the pharmacy late on Saturday night and got a tube of cortisone and took some Benedryl when I got home.

“Hey that looks like poison ivy,” Todd said, as I pulled out the waist of my jeans to show him.

“How the hell would I have gotten poison ivy on my hips? I am not walking around in the woods naked,” I snapped back.

“Well, the dogs can carry the oil. You touched them, and now you have it,” he replied, ever so patiently.

“Then I would have it on my hands, my face, my arms. Not my hips, stomach and back,” I pondered, looking at the bumps in the mirror, “And they don’t itch. They just hurt. Poison ivy itches like crazy.”

When I woke up on Sunday morning, the bumps were bigger. Todd noticed that he had the same bumps on his sides and back as well. We got into the car and headed for the local urgent care clinic—two degenerates infected with who knows what.

We both went into the same examination room, and waited for the doctor. We joked about what the clinic staffers must think about a couple having the same creeping crud symptoms. “OMG, they must think we’re swingers and caught an STD!” we howled with laughter. We showed the doctor our bumps and we figured out that it must have been bacteria in the hot tub. We got our prescriptions for antibiotics and antibiotic cream, and then headed for the hot tub store.

Sure enough, there is a condition informally known as hot tub rash. Hot tub rash happens when the bacteria is sitting in the lines for the jets, and is dormant. Then when you heat up the hot tub water, the bacterium thrives in that temperature and is just waiting for the chance to strike. The bromine levels in the tub were never quite high enough to kill the bacteria either. Thus hot tub rash is born.

When we moved into the house we did drain the hot tub, and Todd scrubbed it out. We replaced the filters, and bought new chemicals then refilled the water. Neither of us thought to clean out the lines to the jets, figuring that the force of the water and the filtration system would clean any dirt out of there.

We have since drained the hot tub again, and Todd bought some chemical that will kill the bacteria. We need to scrub the underside of the cover, and he has cleaned the filters already.

In the mean time, I will not set foot into that tub again until I look less spotty like a Dalmatian and more human again.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

All Moved Out, All Moved In

We're here at the new house! The move went well, though everything is still in boxes, and we are slowly tunneling our way out. We closed on the new house on Friday, then slept in the new house on Friday night. We bought an air mattress, packed up clothes for the weekend and made camp in the new place. As promised, here are the pictures.

This is our old house. Goodbye old house.

This is our new house. Hello new house. As you can see, we have a garage. I absolutely love having a garage, and we joke about how we got along without one for six years.

When we arrived at the new house we discovered that the seller left the house in a state that can only be described as just shy of being declared a federal Superfund site. It was filthy. There were piles of chocolate lab hair all over the floors, there was dirt on the floors. Obviously the first thing the man packed was his broom and vacuum. We spent the entire weekend cleaning the place, and it's actually still not completely done.
The first night we slept in the new house we slept in the family room, this room in the picture. The absence of furniture makes this room echo. Loudly. The filth collection in the baseboard heaters also makes it the loudest heater ever. For the entire night every time the heat kicked on the baseboards would make a loud snap, crackle and popping noise. We didn't sleep a wink, as the racket kept us up that Todd could only describe as "sleeping in a giant bowl of rice krispies." Despite the loud heater, this is our favorite room in the house.

This is the mirror mosiac I was describing in earlier posts, and the paint job in the radioactive orange room. See, it really is as awful as I had described. One of Todd's co-workers described it as "It's like being inside a giant Cheeto."

Here I am having fun with the awful mirror mosiac.

Todd on the hearth in our family room.

In addition to changing the locks and re-coding the garage door openers, Todd got the hot tub drained, refilled and up and running. We went for a soak on Sunday morning. I left my bathing suit on the deck railing, and it froze.

On Sunday as I was cleaning, Nemo found a new favorite place to sit.

This our future adventure staging area. All of our gear is now going to live in this spot in the basement. Picture racks of camping gear, 8 scuba tanks lined up against the wall, a rolling rack with wetsuits and drysuits hanging from it, pegs on the wall with life jackets and frame packs hanging off of them.
This is where the prior owners bred chocolate lab puppies. They just had a litter before the move, and this room smelled very badly. I have since bleached the hell out of this floor, and now it smells like the town pool

On Monday we moved the furniture in, and the boys finally feel at home. As I feared Griffen did pee in the house once, just after we arrived on Friday night. But now they have settled in somewhat.