Monday, December 14, 2009

Attention spammers:

Really, I'm not going to invest in your scams. Go away.

Please

If you pray, please send good thoughts to an old Dave Barry blog buddy of mine who is now also friends of my sisters. He just found out that he has prostate cancer and has to wait over a week for the appointment with his surgeon.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Twilight saga revisited

Yes, I have a stack of books--good ones, from the blurbs on the covers, or the pictures on the cover, which is usually what attracts me to a book (yes, I'm shallow.)--on my bed to read. There are hundreds in the bookcases. So in the last couple of weeks, I've reread Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. And I liked them.

Are they fine literature? Depends on what you call literature. After rereading the series, I don't see the reasons that many detractors say that they're so poorly written. Evidentally there's something universally loved in them, by tweens and moms and grandmoms alike. The Washington Post article that I linked to a couple of weeks ago said it well. I'm paraphrasing here because I'm just too lazy to look back and click on the link, but the gist of the thing is that it takes us (women) (okay, some women) back to a time of first love, innocence, not to mention that teen angst, depression, insecurity, etc. But the books really are innocent; kisses, hugs, snuggling, and it very strongly encourages abstinence. (For a few minutes I couldn't think of that word; all I could come up with was incontinence. That comes much later than the series ever goes.) I don't think that sex is even mentioned, much less implied, until Breaking Dawn, which is the only book in the series I wouldn't want my granddaughter to read until she's, oh, 30, but the first three are innocent fun.

For some reason it surprised me to discover that Stephenie Meyer is Mormon. A Mormon mom writes a series of vampire/shapeshifter love stories? Tom is Mormon, so I mentioned it to him. He said, why wouldn't a Mormon write it? She's human, she has a degree in English, so why not? Anyway, I think that maybe that's where the insistence on abstinence comes from. I'm really happy to see that someone with so much influence in the lives of teenage girls (and old{er} women) doesn't have her characters falling into bed, or the backseat of Edward's Volvo (although really, that car is much too small; maybe Bella's old truck?) or anywhere until they're married. Edward was very definite on that subject, although I think that Bella would have been okay with it.

So. The point is, who cares if it's good literature? In my opinion, it's good if it's something that I enjoy, that I want to reread, that takes root in my brain and rots it entertains me for months on end. I'll read the entire series again. I've started reading Midnight Sun, which is available as only a PDF file which cannot be printed and I hate trying to read stuff on a computer screen but the story (Twilight from Edward's point of view) is so damn fascinating that I'll have to read it anyway.

Once again I cried at the end of Breaking Dawn. It ends so perfectly. I was so sure, the first time I read it, that

***SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT*** (even though there probably aren't too many people around who want to read the series and haven't) (if you are one, then stop now, because I'm going to talk about the ending of the saga)


Bella was going to die. I simply could not accept that, and I seriously considered putting the book down before the last battle. Fortunately someone (Urban Mom, thank you so much!) persuaded me to keep reading, and I love it.

So what will I read now? I don't know. Maybe I'll start over. The whole Twilight thing has taken root and I can't get rid of it. I don't want to. I like the innocence of the characters (right, vampires and werewolves innocent? In this series, yes.), the whole story. The fantasy. No, not the fantasy inspired by visions of naked teenage abs, although that one is all right, too. It's the whole fairy tale that ends like a Disney cartoon.

And I love it.

More attention than I need

I guess I've hit the big time. I'm now attracting spammers. So far it's not a royal pain, but if it continues, I'll have to go to word verification to prevent them.

I have to check to see just what it is that they're googling; I'm kind of afraid to see!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Today's weather

Here (lifted from NOAA's website):

Winter Storm WatchHazardous Weather Outlook

Today: Snow and sleet likely after 1pm. Cloudy, with a high near 39. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Total daytime snow and sleet accumulation of less than a half inch possible. Tonight: Snow, freezing rain, and sleet before 11pm, then freezing rain between 11pm and 3am, then rain or freezing rain after 3am. Low around 31. South wind between 3 and 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New ice accumulation of 0.2 to 0.4 of an inch possible. New snow and sleet accumulation of around an inch possible.


Aaaaannnnndddd at our place in the Keys:

Today: Sunny, with a high near 80. East wind between 5 and 10 mph. Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. South wind around 10 mph. Wednesday: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a high near 83. South wind between 5 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.Wednesday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. South wind between 5 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

So, where do you want to be?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Why I didn't go to see "New Moon" again today













Chester's opinion of the snow:





It's mine, too.

Cause and effect

A teacher gave me this:



because this is on my office bulletin board:


Friday, December 04, 2009

Comedy of errors

and this time it is not my fault.

Xerox is no longer my new BFF. When the new copier was installed two weeks ago I asked how long the toner and staples would last, as they didn't send any extras along. The tech assured me that staples would last for at least a month. After only 5 days of use, the staples ran out. Monday. I called for more. The rep asked what product number I needed. I looked online, saw there were several types of staples for this machine, and told him I had no idea because I'd never ordered any. He kindly chose one for me and sent a box of four cartridges, which arrived yesterday afternoon. He was WRONG. They don't fit this particular machine.

I called yesterday and talked to a very knowledgeable, helpful, funny rep, who just happened to be born in Virginia, too. We bonded. She said she'd send out several boxes of the correct staples and would overnight one box to arrive today. She was my new BFF.

Seems that Xerox is having a quality control problem with their warehouse employees. The box that arrived an hour ago was suspiciously light. That's because it contained a plastic waste toner container. Not staples. Two numbers were transposed somewhere between the order being placed (my BFF had the number right) and being sent.

I hate having to call people. I think I've mentioned before that I absolutely hate talking on the phone. I think I can trace it back to early in my first marriage when I was stupid and naive and believed everything that I was told and my then-husband thought it would be funny to play a prank. He gave me a phone number, said they'd requested that I call, but he didn't know who it was. It was the local mortuary. For some reason this embarrassed me so much that I became phone-phobic. I don't even like to answer it unless I know who's calling, and in West by God Virginia we don't have caller id. At least, we don't.

Anyway. Back to my current problem. I called Xerox again and used my I've-been-pushed-waaaay-beyond-my-limit voice. The rep to whom I talked couldn't help me because they had to send me a new order without charging me. Turns out "everyone" in that department is at a meeting.

My stomach hurts.

Oh, and the toner that I ordered when I first ordered the staples? Came yesterday. And the first one in the machine hasn't run out.

I want to go to sleep.

Update from the Keys

Weather: 79 degrees and raining.

Health: ill, possibly flu. Going back to the condo to sleep.



Last night my stomach hurt so much that I thought I'd die. I couldn't straighten up. When I didn't die after half an hour, I went to bed. I figured I'd die or sleep. I slept. Fine today.

Overall, I'd rather be in Marathon.

Weather report from South Florida

Tom called at 9 last night as he left Orlando and headed to Ft. Lauderdale. (Someday I'm going to google to see if there really is a fort there.) He sounded far too happy when he told me that it was in the 60s there. It was 30 here.

It's supposed to snow here tonight.

*sigh*

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Lazy days

Nope, not just summer's lazy days. It's a way of life for me, unfortunately. I mean, not unfortunately for me, just for those who have to deal with me and my ways.

Tom's heading back to our place in the Keys early tomorrow morning, taking a load of stuff to Jennifer, then on to our place in the Keys to start demolition on the deck in preparation for the tenting next week (if still in place, the whole deck will have to be tented, too, and that just costs too much), moving the electrical box thingy, whatever it's called, so it's in the wash alcove in the kitchen instead of in the master closet. He's also taking more of our houseplants with him; they can't do much worse in the shade down there than they do inside during the winter up here. He's taking a generator, just in case. He'll have the electricity finally turned on after the box thingy is moved. The toilets have to have their seals or whatever replaced so they don't leak (not sure what's going on with that, since they weren't leaking when Tom was in there right after the auction).

Meanwhile, I'm up here in the cold, scraping ice off the windshield of the car, shivering as I drive to work. Okay. I don't scrape the windshield; I turn the defroster on and let it work its magic. I'm lazy.

Speaking of the Prius, I love it. It's got pep when it's needed, which isn't that often but it's nice to know the option is there. It's getting about 45 mpg and costs about $22 to fill it when it appears to be empty (still has about 3 gallons in there when it's crying wolf). I love the way it handles, it has a great stereo with 6 speakers, a cd changer, and (for now) XM radio. I know, I know. I hate Sirius since it took over XM, but it's fun to have anyway. So there. I said it.

Thanksgiving was a busy time with visiting family and family visiting and so on. My family got together at Betty's house and Tom's family got together at his sister-in-law's house 10 miles away, so we got to visit with both. Zippy was happy that his cousins Henley, Millie, and Benji came along to Betty's, and Deja and Snickers were at the Post's house. He was one tuckered out little boy, although not as worn out as he'd have been if his One True Love, his cousin Max, had visited.

My dog is gay, NTTAWWT*. Or maybe he and Max are just trying for dominance, which looks the same when it's two male dogs.

Tom's daughter and her boyfriend drove up from Ft. Lauderdale and stayed over the break. It was nice to have them here.

I've been knitting some Christmas presents (gee, aren't you happy you're related to me?) and working on a pair of black socks for me. I need black socks. I put clear silver-lined beads instead of working the hearts on one sock; unfortunately it looks better stitched than with beads, but what the heck.

I'm rereading Eclipse, for some reason. I'm enjoying it a lot more than I did the first time, probably because I can imagine the actors in the roles. As for New Moon the book, I think it's the hardest of the four to read since Bella is so catatonic through most of it. I like the movie more than the book, which is unusual for me. I may go see the movie again; Kara's been twice and will go if she's not worn out from grooming dogs 60 hours a week.

I'm looking forward to Christmas Break--oops, I mean Winter Break. I'm leaving for Florida after school on the 18th. I've only driven to Florida (Sanibel) once and figured that was enough and flew after that, but the Prius is so easy on gas that I'm going to try it again. I'll stop in Orlando on the way down and back, both to break the trip and to see the family. Maybe they'll go to our place in the Keys (read: if we can borrow the condo) for a few days, which would be nice. I think I'm going to go to the beach on Christmas Day. I've never had the opportunity to do that before. I don't think it gets much better than that!

On the work front, I have a brand-new Xerox 4595 to complicate make my job so much easier. It's twice as fast as the old ones, works a zillion times better, and jams only occasionally and it's really easy to fix them. I <3 it. It's so very fast that jobs are finished almost before I scan them and I'm having a hard time keeping them separate. But what a problem to have.

After 3, time to go home!



*not that there's anything wrong with that

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Moon on a big screen

Wow. It left me speechless.

Overall impression: I love this movie. Makeup is better (except Jasper's), special effects are dazzling (although that whole Edward glows thing still is cheesy; do they not get it?), KStew's acting is much-improved, Taycob's acting has grown along with his...his.....excuse me, where was I? Oh yeah. The kid can act, and act well. He actually had me feeling sorry for him when Bella turned away from him to run to Italy to save Edward, who was about to commit vampire suicide by dazzling a bunch of people, the very same Edward who'd broken her heart by telling her that she doesn't belong in his world and then walking off into the woods leaving her behind to wander hopelessly until she falls onto the mossy moldy-leaf floor of the forest and curls into the fetal position.

That Edward.

Kristen did a passably good job of portraying a totally dead-inside jilted teenage girl. Actually, photos from the movie show a truly empty, heartbroken Bella better, but she did well in the movie. I wasn't terribly impressed the first time around (Twilight the movie) although I didn't think she was as bad as most (women) (teens) thought; Bella isn't that deep a character. This time, she looks like she has a huge hole in her chest from Edward's leaving.

Somewhere (some magazine cover) I saw that Robward said something along the lines that, in these movies, his hair does 75% of the acting job. He's right. His hair is just scrumptious, although in this movie it's a little shorter and less tousled. It's still doing some great acting. I think that probably another 20% of the job is done by his square jaw and those thin, crooked-smile lips. Basically, all he has to do is stand in front of the camera, smile or scowl, and he's deserving of an Academy Award.

The vampires aren't as chalky-white as they were in Twilight, although their makeup still looks awfully thick. Robward looks a lot more natural; even Carlisle doesn't look like he walked through a storm of talcum powder, although he still looks exceeding unnatural, even for a vampire. Maybe I have a big more liking for his character this time around since I've seen him on that Showtime series a few times. Can't remember the name, but he plays a sex-crazed doctor who can't keep his hands to himself.

But Jasper: for the love of God, makeup artists, tone down the hair. It's far too poofy; it practically has a life of its own. And those lips, always pursed, always looking as if he has some big stick shoved up his butt and is afraid to smile for fear of dropping it.

Alice is a doll, always fun to watch. Rosalie is still a bitch, although we find out a little more about why she's a bitch.

But why was the movie so bright? I know that there weren't many vamps around, so they don't have to have such dull days so they can come outside, but New Moon is the darkest book of the series. Bella's depression, Edward's pain at leaving her (the bloodsucking scum), Jacob's pain at becoming a werewolf without any forewarning, his pain at having to stay away from Bella in order to protect her from himself, his pain because Bella just sees him as a friend. Not even a friend with benefits. It's dark. It's brooding.

Now, it's not all sunny and summery by any means, it's just not as dark visually as the first one was.

It was such a treat to see New Moon on a huge screen. I rarely go to the movies; the last one was Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I don't even remember how long ago that was. I saw Twilight first on our tv then on my laptop; the whole thing is definitely a lot more effective and enjoyable when the characters are larger than life.

I went with my niece, Kara, and her friend. We did the whole movie thing; $6 popcorn with "butter" that leaked out the bottom of the container and $4 bottles of water. Water. I should've brought a bigger purse and taken in some small bottles of wine. It would have been less expensive that way. Kara and Virginia are Team Jacob, while I'm Team Edward, so we disagreed about some fundamentals (cold made-up abs vs 108 degree real abs), but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Yes. Werewolves' temps run around 108. And vamps are cold and hard as stone. Didn't you know that? Did you want to know?

Friday, November 20, 2009

4 hours.....

*ducks and runs*

4 hours and 25 minutes......

Even I am finding this tedious.

Five hours.....
















Still no new copier, but I find that I care about that less and less.

So, Blogger, why are you being such a pain in the ass about linking?

Finally. Someone who gets it.

Pretty much sums it up.


Edited to add: Shit. Click on this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/18/AR2009111804145.html

Less than six hours......




And for those other obsessive-compulsive crazed members of Team Edward, this photo amuses me. It's from http://www.twilightheaded.com/.


Click on photo to get the full effect.

10.5 hours.......



*corners market on Shamwow (tm thingy)*

Thursday, November 19, 2009

29 hours......

.......Until

Dear US Preventive Services Task Force: Bite me.

So some task force has decided that women shouldn't be screened for breast cancer, or even do a monthly self-exam, because it's not cost-effective for women under the age of 50. Evidentally women don't get breast cancer and die from it until they're at least in their 50s.

Just who are these people anyway? It's not the American Cancer Society's researchers who've come up with this gem. I suspect it's a bunch of bureaucrats who looked at the bottom line and decided that the government won't want to pay for all those "unnecessary" tests once the government assumes the mantle of Health/Death Experts.

Do you want to let these people (and I'll go out on a limb here and say that I bet most of them are men) take care of our health care/insurance system? What's next, no screening for cervical cancer, or prostate cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, any other killer? What will happen when an elderly person needs a new hip or knee? Sorry, it has to go to someone younger who'll be able to take advantage of it longer? How about those really expensive injections of Lucentis that help to preserve vision in people with wet macular degeneration? Hey, that includes me. I guess that $2000 per course of treatment would be better used to what, give a new liver to some rock star? How about all those babies born so early that they'd die without medical intervention? How would you feel if your child or grandchild had some horrible illness with a relatively low rate of survival? Would you be okay with not treating that illness because it isn't cost-effective? Would the powers that be allow my oldest granddaughter to have SupprelinLA, at a cost of close to $20,000 per year, to let her have the opportunity to grow normally and not start her period at age 6? All kinds of health risks are associated with precocious puberty. Since those risks affect a small number of the population--mostly girls--should we just let a bunch of men in suits decide that the effort doesn't justify the amount of money spent, won't help enough people (read: girls) to make it worth the money?

What if it's decided that anxiety and depression aren't really chemical imbalances that are relatively easy to treat with medication? Will we be told to just suck it up and soldier on?

I'm scared.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Don't ask what the handwritten sign on the back of my front door says.

I've locked myself out of the house twice this week. It's only Tuesday, so that means I also did it on Monday.

I'm getting tired of forcing my way into the house. So I wrote a little reminder to my 6 a.m. self.

It's not pretty.

Damn you, Burger King

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just because I can

Four nights from now, I'll be sitting in a theater with my niece Kara watching "New Moon".







And we'll be drooling.

There's nothing better than aunt/niece bonding!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It is ours

The Cat House, that is. We signed the copies of everything that was emailed to us and faxed them back to the lawyer, then wired the money. It is finally ours.






















Let the wild rumpus start!

Joan's Special Day

I present The Wedding Stole.



Oh. And that's Joan and her husband, Scott, proud parents of the bride.

Monday, November 09, 2009

We bought a new car. On Crack. During the wedding.

You know how Tom gets aggravated at me for using the Crack while in public? Guess who was emailing during Liz' wedding ceremony on Saturday?

Back up a bit. On Friday, on the way to Mom and Dad's house, we stopped at three Toyota dealerships. We told them that we didn't have time to hang around, wanted to see their Priuses, and wanted them to email us their best price. I'm thinking we were a little unusual since we didn't really care what color it was (except no black or bright red) and we didn't want to play car salesmen's games. Stopped first at the dealership in Harrisonburg. They had one Prius, charcoal gray metallic, which we like. Asked for the best price by email.

Went on to Charlottesville. We walked in, a guy asked if he could help us, we gave him the spiel. He jumped up, showed us the six cars they had, took our email addresses and within 15 minutes we had a quote. Still nothing from Hburg.

Before the wedding on Saturday, Tom and the guys went to the nearby dealership and were given the royal runaround. Let's just say that Tom is a man of few words and he means what he says. The salesman, manager, and owner (for all I know) wanted his driver's license. He refused since we're not trading in a car. Then they wanted his credit card and social security so they could do a credit check. We're financing the car through a credit union, so no go there. He walked out. I think that by then Dad and the others were kind of milling around like they didn't know Tom. Anyway, couldn't get much of a quote from him.

If that and the Hburg place had taken him seriously, they might have sold a car.

Before the wedding started, Tom called and emailed Hburg and Chville, bargaining with them. Hburg wouldn't give, but Chville sent their best price by email, which Tom received as the ceremony started. He emailed back "Deal!", and we bought the car. On Crack. During the ceremony. It's a pearl white 2010 Prius III with a lot of bells and whistles. We pick it up this evening.

That, my friends, is the way to buy a car!

When I have time I'll post some photos of the wedding. It was wonderful, and Liz was such a beautiful bride.

Friday, November 06, 2009

We're off to see the Lizard

(with apologies to Betty, from whom I stole it, and to Liz, who really is called Lizard sometimes, but on your wedding day, you're not Lizard)

Joan's Special Day is almost here. The family is gathering, all of us making our way to Chester, some of us there already, some of us ready to leave in about 40 minutes. One of us doesn't have a whole heck of a lot of things to copy today, so she's wasting lots of time. Facebook can be accessed by Crack.

I've been knitting 7+ hours each evening trying to finish The Wedding Stole. I haven't done much of anything else for the last couple of weeks. (Like that's such a stretch.) I make stupid mistakes and keep making them when I try to pay attention to whatever's on tv (my current favorite is "My Name Is Earl". Even after this marathon knitting (thousands of beads, I tell you, thousands), I still have a good 15" to knit. It just isn't going to happen.

You see, I started the thing by following the pattern directions and knitting the first 15" without beads. They're only supposed to be on the very ends of the stole, and it just was ugly. So I started the full beading, it looked much better, and I decided to cut off the part that wasn't beaded (the middle of the thing was on a provisional caston so I could pick up and knit in the other direction when I finished the first half). That wasn't a particularly enjoyable job, but I managed to pick up the stitches at the beginning of the beaded part and start off in the other direction.

So. Yeah. It's going to be shorter than I'd like, I'm afraid. I have a couple of hours to knit on the way to Mom and Dad's house, but that only equals a couple of inches. I've gotten faster at "uploading" the beads, but each pattern repeat takes over an hour to complete. That's 8 rows.

I ran out of beads. I'd bought a ton of them in Key West in April and again in June but used them for a scarf or two and for A's socks. I'd bought them for Shipwrecked, the knitty.com shawl I plan to make at some point in my lifetime. I bought clear beads, silver-lined, black ones, and red ones to go with the yarn I had custom-dyed for the shawl. I ordered what I thought were the same beads on ebay, and they came really quickly, but they're the wrong color and size. I'll use them for something else. I was starting to panic last week when I had enough beads to get through a few more repeats, so I called Beads of Distinction in Key West and ordered another 50 grams of beads. They're just gorgeous. The owner only charged me $5 for shipping, but he shipped them out that day by Priority Mail, insured. $10. I'll buy more beads from that dear man!


This isn't a good shot, but it's about all I could get. It's hard to photograph that color yarn with clear beads. I'll get more at the wedding.

We've been looking at used cars. I insist on having a Toyota; I've had three Camrys over the last 20 years and love them. We debated getting an older one with many miles on it but a cheaper price, a newer one with fewer miles and a much higher pricetag, then decided that we might as well buy a new one while I still have a semi-decent income. Once we move to Florida, the car won't get nearly as much mileage put on it as it does now, and there won't be any mountains to cross, either, so we're looking for a new Prius. We might even buy one this weekend. Tom plans to start trips to Florida hauling stuff down and I'll have to have a car then.

Jennifer and the kids should already be in Chester; she was leaving right after school yesterday. They'll start back home tomorrow after the wedding so the kids won't miss more than one day of school. It's going to be such a wonderful weekend!

Someone is coming to look at the house on Sunday. We'll close on The Cat House toward the middle of next week. We'll be house- and car-poor until our WV place sells, with only a few thousand available to tent the place, tear off the deck, and fix the pool and a/c. Tom might rob his 401k next year to start more work on the house. Once the place over here sells, we can (more or less) finish The Cat House. Let's just hope that's soon; one more winter here is enough!

I'll leave you with some photos of The Cat House. If you have a weak stomach, be forewarned. It's not pretty.





Friday, October 30, 2009

In other news........

We knew it was going to happen, so I didn't drive the car if I were by myself, only if Tom was along. There's no cell coverage for half the trip into town, so I didn't attempt it when I was alone.

Tom was called at 6 this morning and asked if he'd sub at the middle school, which is less than a mile from my school. Otherwise I'd have been driving the truck and it would have happened another time.

We were about three miles from school when it started. The knocking got louder and louder and the car labored to make it up the hill. Fortunately we were at the top of the hill when the engine let loose a cloud of smoke and quit. We knew it was gone, so it wouldn't hurt to run it a little farther, would it?

It cut off three more times (once as we turned right on red without stopping) but we were able to coast into the school parking lot and got it into a safe place. It'll stay there until we sell it for parts or have it towed to the junk yard.

At least it happened at the top of a hill near the school. It could have let go on the mountain on one of the blind turns, or as we pulled out of our driveway in the middle of Dead Man's Curve.

$6000 divided by 3 years = $2000 a year. Not too shabby for a Camry that already had about 160,000 miles on it. This is not a good time to buy another car since we refinanced our WV home to pay for our place in the Keys and may be a little overborrowed right now. But we have to have something that'll allow me to go to and from work once Tom moves to Florida (probably after Thanksgiving, although we want to go down there before then for a week).

We've rented a Hyundai overnight so we can get home, get the truck, and drive the rental back in. At least that's only $45. And it's payday. All is well.

It ain't grand, but it's well. We'll survive.

Oh--please think kind thoughts toward my friend Trillian who was unexpectedly laid off this week. Her boss plans to rehire her as soon as possible, but it's a scary time for her.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In today's news....

WE GOT THE CAT HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!

You may reserve your rooms by emailing partycentral@ourplaceinthekeys.com.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wouldn't it be cool if......

HGTV or DIY would want to do something with The Cat House?

Nah, it would have to be HGTV. I don't Do It Myself.

Not that we've been told that the bank has approved the sale. That hasn't happened. Yet. I'm trying to stay positive.

So I wrote to HGTV and offered The Cat House as a sacrificial lamb. I mean, most of it's going to be sacrificed, mostly to the Gods of Finance, so why not?

It kept me occupied and out of trouble for 15 minutes, so it was win-win all around.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Slowly

From our "new" real estate agent in the Keys:

" Tom,

I have had several emails that they have been trying> to get some resolve. But no definitive word. "

Is the bank so desperate not to show a loss right now that they'd refuse a sale that's 1/3 of the last appraised amount? At least they'd get that much. Much longer and they'll have a derelict property that no one will want.

In other news, it's cold. Enough already.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So, what's new?

I don't really want to have to write this, but it's too much to hold inside. I don't want to jinx anything. I'm horribly superstitious.

On Friday Tom called the lawyer in Florida who'll handle the closing down there to see what was going on. The lawyer hadn't heard anything, so he checked with the auction company who told him that the bank that owns The Cat House has not approved the sale. Even though we were told two weeks ago that it HAD approved it. Now we're waiting on pins and needles. I so much hate not having solid ground under my feet.

Tom called the woman who originally listed The Cat House and hired her to be our go-between, as the bank will only communicate 1) with a real estate agent and 2) by fax. Love their customer service. We'd been told before the auction that they're notoriously hard to deal with. The only thing that we can think of is that, because they're located in southern California, they have no idea what two years of heat and humidity can do to a house that's sitting idle. (Add in the feral cats and it's really ugly.) In CA they can let a house sit forever without deteriorating. The agent is going to emphasize to them that the house is almost at the point of no return, and if they want any money out of it, they'd better let it go now. They must be owed a large part of the last appraisal which was over $340,000 and don't want to take that big a loss. If they keep on like this, they'll lose everything there. They'll have to sell it as simply a piece of land and someone will have to tear down everything and haul it away. I don't think too many people will take pricey burden on.

So we're in limbo again. We've refinanced our WV place so that we'd have cash for our place in the Keys, but at a higher interest rate and higher monthly payment. We wouldn't have done that if we thought we wouldn't get our place in the Keys.

We'd hoped to leave for Florida Saturday night after Last Train Home plays in town and spend the next week down there lining things up. I need a week in the Keys. At our place.

We didn't have frost until yesterday morning (which was also my sister Betty's birthday--happy birthday, Betty!) which is so unusual in our area. We almost always have frost by the 22nd of September, at the very least the first of October. Not that I'm complaining; I've enjoyed the reprieve. Have I mentioned lately that I hate cold weather and that I hate having such short days and long nights?

I've knit more on The Wedding Stole. It's looking so nice (even with the holes from places I've dropped stitches and can't figure out where they go). Less than three weeks now. I'm sort of half done, but I don't like the area where I followed the pattern and only placed beads on the selvedges. It's just too plain like that. I think I'll attempt to pick up the stitches where I first started the beading and use that as the starting point for the other half. I just don't like the plainless next to the sparkly beads.

Yesterday I received my copy of Mercury Falls by Rob Kroese (see and click on suitcase over there to the right------->) and started reading it. He's been compared to Christopher Moore which leaves him big footprints to fill. If you like funny, literate, insane novels, then you'll like these guys.

I'm hungry. It's too early for lunch, but I'm hungry.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A quiz that didn't lie




You Are Most at Home in the Bedroom



You're the type of person who finds sanctuary in your home. Your home is your private space.

While you may be a social person outside the home, it's very rare that you invite people into your home.



There's nothing like spending time alone in your bedroom - relaxing and reflecting about your day.

You truly treasure your time by yourself. You need to be able to recharge every so often in order to thrive.


Long time no post

Wow, I've been lazy. I've had a lot to say but I've been too lazy to actually put it into words and do the typing.

We are nearing the closing of the refinancing of our current place so we can set the closing for our place in the Keys. We're pulling out most of the equity to pay cash for The Cat House and fix the pool (priorities, you know), the a/c, and rip out the carpet and master bath and closet, pay for insurance (which will be exhorbitant, but what can you do), and have the electricity and water turned on in our names. After the place in WV sells (and the sooner the better) we won't have a mortgage! We should have enough to do a lot of the renovations we want.

Meanwhile, our '99 Camry has decided that about 230,000 miles is pretty much enough and is threatening to throw a rod or a bearing, so we can't drive it much. It's been a good car; we've had it for a couple of months over three years and have put a lot of miles on it. We'd replace the engine if we could find one cheap enough, but the only one available, it seems, is $4000 including labor and already has over 200,000 miles on it. The car isn't worth that much. For now I'm driving the truck to work. Nice because it's more comfortable and has a cd player, but it's so big and I'd rather drive something much smaller. Maybe after the houses are taken care of we'll be able to get another used car.

Several people have come over to see the property in the last couple of weeks, but no offers yet.

I've been knitting The Wedding Stole sporadically; it's probably almost half-done. I wish I'd started the heavy beading at the very beginning because it looks so pretty, but I didn't, and I'm sure not going to sew them on. I like the yarn (silk and cashmere) and it was so cheap ($6) on ebay. I'll use much more than that in beads. Since we're be heading to Big Pine Key as soon as we can close, I'll be near Key West and can go back and buy some more beads. I know I could order them, but this way I know what I'm getting. The wedding is Nov. 7, so I have to get cracking. I should be able to do a lot of knitting in the car, although on the way down we're leaving after a Last Train Home show and will drive the first 8-10 hours in the dark. I hope I can sleep; if not, I've got Twilight and the laptop.

B2 is loving kindergarten. The kid just lives life large in all ways. He's Mr. Confidence, Mr. Charisma, Mr. Alpha Male. He's quite a character. He spent two years being civilized in Methodist pre-school (they went into the "sintuary" for singing) so public school has been no big deal for him. He simply doesn't see the need, though, to practice his writing and counting and reading. He just tells the teacher "I don't want to do that." No anger, no yelling, he's just very sure that he doesn't want to do it. J asked his teacher if it's interfering with his learning; she said that he's very bright and is picking up all the concepts. Once he's got it, he's done, thankyouverymuch.

He's had some trouble with another boy in his class who seems to be a bully. B2 just tells him that what he's doing is wrong and to stop. And the kid does. It's a wonder that B2 himself isn't the object of bullying as he has some health-related issues that really make him stand out in a crowd. He's allergic to grass; whatever body part that touches it first breaks out in a rash which quickly turn to welts and then blister. It's pretty. So the child has to wear long sleeves and long pants with socks and running shoes in the Florida heat. (They're required to wear belts, too, with their shirts tucked in. On a five-year-old. Who outgrows his pants every couple of months.) So he's usually red-faced and extremely sweaty.

He also has a tendency to vomit copiously because he shoves food into his mouth at a high rate of speed. He always had. He is repeatedly told not to do this. Even the kids in his class now yell "B2, don't you dare! Stop that! I mean it!" and sometimes it works. He carries a little garbage bag with him all the time in case he needs to puke. And no one makes fun of him. They love him. They pay attention to his thoughts and generally go along. He's not bullying, I don't think, he's calm and apparently fair-minded.

This was not what we expected, but we're happy with it.

A is in the 4th grade and doing well. She's a broadcaster on their school news show and loves it. Last night she read a story to me and only stumbled over a few big words and she answered the questions in complete sentences and correctly. She's typing quickly and mispelling fewer words (spell-check, maybe? but not in her email. She definitely doesn't spell-check that.) Her emails are longer and more involved. What a difference moving to the poorest county in Florida and attending school there has made for her. She went from one of the highest income counties where the schools are new and pretty, where she had all kinds of trouble with bullies and teachers who said she was so far behind the other kids, to the poor county where things are old but where they try to spend their money intelligently, and she's blossomed. Straight A's. She's made lots of friends. (She was even asked by a boy if she'd "go out" with him. Mommy and Daddy said hell no. As you probably know, going out means hanging around together at school.)

We added a 10' x 10' deck to the back of the house and are enjoying it so much. It's one of those things that we wish we'd done earlier so we could have enjoyed it longer. And it would have been much bigger. Tom and his brother have done a lot of work, mostly finishing little things that they didn't finish when they built the place. A lot of junk has been packed or given away so there's a lot more room so it actually looks like someone lives there, not just stores stuff there.

Life goes on. I finally gave myself permission to enjoy the fall colors, almost too late. We aren't having the intense color that we have sometimes; there was an article in the paper about it that I didn't bother to read. But if it's the last time that I have to endure another fall and winter, maybe I can enjoy it.

We still haven't had frost in either WV or here in the Valley (Shenandoah). That's exceedingly unusual. We usually have a cold snap in the 20s of September then Indian summer, always frost by the first weekend of October, but none so far. Therefore there hasn't been Indian summer. I'm not complaining, just commenting. We didn't bring our plants inside until last weekend; usually we have to do that a good month earlier.

That's the news from this part of the country. At least, what I can remember of it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

New plan

Since our current house didn't appraise as high as we thought and hoped it would, we're going to take another route to pay for The Cat House.

We were going to take a line of credit (equity) and pay for it that way, but it would have an adjustable rate which could turn out really bad in the long run. No closing costs, but the interest could eat us up. Instead, we're going to refinance the thing at 4.9% for 15 years, which means the monthly payment on both places together will be about $600 more than we're paying now. We can manage that if I work until I'm 90 get a job in the Keys next school year and work a few years longer. There are still assistant positions open in several of the schools this year, so I'm hoping that I can get into one next August. Of course I have to have the summer off. I'd make half of what I make now and I'd have to work with *shudder* kids again, but I'd prefer that over staying up here another two or three years and being cold and in another state than Tom. Another state physically and mentally.

We won't be able to fix things up as quickly as we'd like; the plan now is to 1) make one bedroom liveable (upstairs guest room with tile on the floor as opposed to nasty carpet); 2) get the a/c running; and 3) get that pool going. We have an apartment sized stove that I never used and a small fridge that I did use; we'll haul them down and see if they work. If not, then we'll buy used and cheap to get us going. We'll tear out the cabinets in the kitchen so we can put down the new ceramic tile all over the house at the same time. The deck will be demolished right away and rebuilt when we have money. The toilets all seem to work and the bathroom upstairs isn't too nasty, so we can make do with that till we win the lottery rob a bank sell our current place and are able to start doing things right.

Lowe's has an online room visualizer which is helpful when I'm not cursing it remember to log in so I can save the rooms I put together. I did the entire master bath yesterday, couldn't save it no matter how much I cursed, closed it, then remembered that you can't save if you don't sign in.

The master closet HAS to be torn out and redone (that little mold problem) and we'd like to rearrange the bathroom anyway because it has so much wasted space. We'll put the bathroom where the closet was (in the very back) with French doors leading to the deck and the outside shower. When we actually have those two things. There won't be a window in there when it's rearranged. The bath will be 10' x 10' instead of the current 10 x 13. The closet will be between the bedroom and bathroom, not totally sure about the size but probably the same size as the bathroom. Smaller if we decide we want the bedroom to be bigger. That probably won't be necessary, though, because we'll have built-ins in the closet so we won't need any furniture in the bedroom but the bed and bookshelves.

When we go down to close (probably the last week of this month) we'll take a load of crap stuff with us, possibly the bed in the guest room, or at least the mattress, and if the place doesn't stink too much (tile in that bedroom, remember) we'll actually stay in our house in the Keys. Doesn't that sound nice? I'll be adding it to a lot of conversations; "We're retiring to our house in the Keys." "Oh, yes, we bought a little place in the Keys." "We're living in the Keys." Like that.

We'll have to have the electricity turned back on in our name, same with the water. We may take our little window a/c with us because that a/c unit in our house in the Keys won't be operational. We'll arrange for tenting the place (damn bugs, mainly termites).

I want this house to look really nice when we're finished, so I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and actually putting color on the master bedroom walls. Color that's not off white. Color that's sort of a dusty blue-green. Tom loves all shades of green, but they make me very uncomfortable. Don't know why. I'm trying to compromise with him by going the blue-green route. Darker walls. Maybe I'll sleep better then.

Maybe it's going to happen after all. I still can't quite believe it.

Monday, October 05, 2009

How do you spell relief?

The bank (that owns The Cat House) has accepted our offer on the house.

We had till October 19 to close on it, and we hadn't heard a thing from them yet, so today Tom called. They'll have the papers to us by October 12 (yeah, I've heard that before) and we'll have until November 12 to close.

Tom also called the guy who appraised our house three weeks ago and hadn't gotten his report in yet. He kept saying "tomorrow", but it never happened. Tom had called him several times, and the bank had called, and today Tom got the number. Problem is, it's about $40,000 less than what we're asking for it. Did the guy finally come up with a comp in our area (he'd said he couldn't find one) and just throw out a number that was low because he was tired of dealing with us? The real estate agent thinks we should get much more.

But although many people have seen the place, we haven't had any offers. Maybe if we drop the price a little it'll motivate someone.

So, we're relieved today that we actually did get The Cat House. We're not as happy that we can't take as much out of our present home to pay for it and start the renovations. We're hoping to be in the Zero Mortgage Club once we sell our WV place.

And I'm planning to spend two weeks at The Cat House at Christmas! IN the house! Tom won't be able to go down and start tearing off the deck and the carpet and getting the pool fixed as early as we'd hoped, but with luck (what's that?) by Christmas the house will have electricity, water, and a/c so we can stay in it.

Ahhhh, Christmas lounging around the pool. That's the way to celebrate.

Who's in?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'm feeling crabby today, so I'm gonna take it out on whatever I can. One of the copiers is jamming frequently (as in it usually ruins 5 pages for every 1 it copies); I'm fortunate that the stupid things are loud enough to cover my cursing.

I haven't been sleeping well. It's probably the usual September Stupids, which means it'll last until May or June. I'm going to look into vitamin D supplements; I think that it's caused by 1) school starting and 2) shorter daylight hours. Combine both and you have my job. I'm hoping that the move to the Keys will take care of the vitamin D shortage and that the September Stupids will respond to that. Hey, I can blame the way I feel on the part of the world I live in! I don't have to take any responsibility for my actions while I'm living here! I don't have to pay any debt to society for my stupid, illegal, and immoral actions!

Wait--I do claim responsibility for the choices I make. And I do have to deal with the consequences of my actions.

Unlike, say, an artiste whose name rhymes with Poman Rolanski.

From cnn.com: "Investigators in the United States say Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl in the 1970s. Polanski pleaded guilty (emphasis is mine) in 1977 to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, but he fled the United States before he could be sentenced. He settled in France."

And: "Filmmakers have reacted with outrage at the arrest. "As a Swiss filmmaker, I feel deeply ashamed," Christian Frei said. "He's a brilliant guy, and he made a little mistake (the emphasis is mine) 32 years ago. What a shame for Switzerland," said photographer Otto Weisser, a friend of Polanski."

And: "The French culture and communications minister, Frederic Mitterrand, said he "learned with astonishment" of Polanski's arrest. He expressed solidarity with Polanski's family and said "he wants to remind everyone that Roman Polanski benefits from great general esteem" and has 'exceptional artistic creation and human qualities.'" Again, my emphasis.

WTF, people?!?!? So people hold him in "high esteem" and he has "exceptional artistic creation and human qualities", he's a "brilliant guy and he made a little mistake. Not buying that. A little mistake is buying nectarines when you meant to buy peaches. A little mistake is forgetting to pack your lunch and having to skip that meal. A little mistake is not when one drugs and rapes a 13-year-old child, pleads guilty, and flees the country before he can be arrested, and doesn't return for 31 years, until he's finally arrested in Switzerland and returned to the US in custody.

That one word--guilty--says it all. The man admitted that he'd done wrong, that he'd taken egregious action, then the mf'er ran away rather than face up to his wrongdoings and pay for them.

(An aside: Doesn't the word "guilty" look odd when you write it so many times?)

And politicians and "artistes" are defending him? It's okay that he did that horrible deed over 30 years ago after his pregnant wife was brutally killed by the Manson gang? It was a little mistake that should be excused because he's so damned good at his career? He's had to suffer the loss of that career because he made some really stupid bad choices? Well damn. Pardon me if I don't shed any tears for him.

That whole not taking responsibility for ones own actions thing drives me absolutely nuts. I deal with it on a smaller--and less illegal--scale daily. Kids who have a bad home life act up at school, don't do their work, and when they're punished for it, it's not their fault. They curse their boss at Mickey D's and get fired, but it's not their fault.

Now I'm seeing where this is coming from. After all, if some big rap star can get away with murder or beats up his girlfriend, why, it's not his fault. And the stupid girl defends him. It happens every day here. Sorry, kid. No, wait, I'm not sorry. I have to pay up for my misdeeds. I have to own my "mistakes". I work to support myself and, apparently, any deadbeat who doesn't want to work. I've worked three jobs at once to keep food on the table and a roof over my head.

Okay, enough of that. I'm getting sidetracked.

So. Because this artiste is so brilliant, such a good man, he shouldn't have to own his actions, should be allowed to return to this country because it happened a long time ago and was a little mistake.

Can somebody please explain to me why this should be allowed?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cat House photos

I finally figured out that Snapfish is a decent way to share photos and tell a story at the same time, so I've been working on that in odd moments today. I've only got a few captioned. If you want the real story, check it out. When I'm finished. I mean, you don't want to miss a good story.

*UPDATE* The captions are complete. Enjoy. I mean, you certainly wouldn't know that the sixteenth photo of the carpet in the living room actually IS the carpet in the living room if I didn't tell you.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Crash

While I was talking to Mom (sharing the big news) I heard a terrible sound--the sound of a vehicle smashing into something. We live on a very bad, blind almost-180-degree curve and there have been lots of accidents.

I put the phone in my purse (with my camera), grabbed a bottle of water, and Zippy and I climbed the ridge to scout things out. It probably wasn't wise since I've had some kind of flu for a couple of days, but you don't hear a sound like that and not check it out.

I couldn't see anything from the top of the ridge, so we slid down to the driveway and walked to the road. Somewhere between the top of the ridge and the driveway the phone fell out of my purse. Oh well. I don't feel well enough to climb back up to look for it. It wasn't the cell phone; we don't have any service here anyway. I'd brought the phone in case I needed to call 911. While I was out climbing, Tom's daughter had called, so the house phone signal reached that far.

Sadly, a bunch of people from the DC area were out motorcycling the area and one had somehow lost control and flipped over the guardrail and way down the hill. He was caught against a cedar tree; his bike was not in sight. It must have continued way on down; the state trooper was climbing around taking photos. There were two rescue squads with paramedics working on the poor man; they'd gotten bags of ice around him (I couldn't see if it was his head or feet, but there was lots of blood) and were talking to him, finding out if he had any medical conditions, what prescriptions he took, had he lost consciousness. He said he hadn't; if it were me, I'd have been out and not planning to wake up any time soon. He was in great pain.

His friend stood next to me and told the story. They'd stopped in town less than a mile away and eaten pizza, then got back on their bikes to continue the trip. He said that as he came around the bend, he could see dust everywhere, then realized that his friend had wrecked. Poor guy could hardly talk. The injured cyclist's helmut was halfway down the hill; I don't know if it had come off or if the paramedics had tossed it there. They were strapping him to a backboard when I left. (The state trooper shooed us away.)

I hope that the poor man is okay. I can still hear bangs and crashes from that area; our driveway is dead in the middle of that awful curve, and the two ridges funnel the sounds right up to the house. People are still talking. I haven't heard the rescue squad leave yet.

That's the first accident there that I've actually "witnessed". About a year ago, a man hit a bear just around the corner, but we weren't home. Took out the bear, and the man wasn't expected to walk again. His son was just bruised, but evidentally the man wasn't wearing his seat belt and was thrown out. He's actually doing well now, still wearing braces, but he's walking.

So, is it worth it for me to go back out and look for the phone? No, I didn't think so either.

WE GOT IT!!!

How nervewracking! Someone online was bidding against Tom and I was so afraid it would go higher than we could afford. But we got it!!!

Now *all* we have to do is pour a lot of money into it and fix it up......

Nerves

The house sold to someone on the floor at the auction; someone was bidding online and I'm a nervous wreck! I'm just hoping that Tom got it.

I am so on edge.....

Today is the day. The auction is going on right now. To my surprise, it's being broadcast online and I'm listening to it!!!

"Ours" is one of the last few being auctioned, so it'll still be half an hour or so till they get to it.

Tom is there, ready to bid, ready to buy our cat house.

Keep your fingers crossed!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A couple of someones just dropped off two big copy jobs for tomorrow morning.

Yay.

But they will be done!!!!!

I dare you to ask me how my day's going.

Our receptionist has the flu, so she (thankfully) stayed home yesterday and today. She must really be sick, because she rarely misses a day due to illness.

Sunday night I got the call asking if I'd sub for on Monday. I always say yes. What can I say, "I really really hate doing that job and I'd almost rather be staked naked in the desert at noon on a fire ant nest"?

It was The Day from Hell, as usual. Soooo many kids coming in for cough drops, Tylenol, and Advil. I took every kid's temperature; even those who were rosy-cheeked or pale didn't have fevers. Rather, their temps were below normal. Damn. If it's over 99, we sent them home. I tell the kids time and again that if they've had anything to eat or drink in the past half hour the thermometer won't correctly measure, but they all say they haven't eaten anything or had anything to drink. Do they think I'm going to throw them out if they say they did?

As usual, the phones rang constantly, usually two lines at once while I was giving some sick kid meds. I truly hate that office.

The receptionist isn't back today; she called just before 7 to say she wouldn't be in this morning, which means all day. Thank the good Lord that I haven't had to work out there today, because I think I'd have walked out.

Because yesterday my sub copied only things on the "Monday" shelf. She. did. not. copy. one. damn. thing. that was needed for this morning. I almost never have anything on the next days' shelf when I leave, especially when it's noted that the teacher needs it first block. Even if they leave things on the counter that they need first thing in the morning, I'm always far enough ahead that I can spend the first half hour getting those things copied then stuff copied for the rest of the day. Right now there's nothing on any shelf because I've worked my ass off all day and I am CAUGHT UP.

She didn't put yesterday's mail in the mailboxes, either, and I'd specifically asked her to do that.

What she did do was leave half an hour before she was supposed to (especially with a shitload of this morning's copies sitting around).

I almost never complain about my job to my boss, and I never complain about being pulled to work somewhere else, but this morning at 7 freaking a.m. I was hot. Teachers were standing around looking at me with that "where the hell are my copies" look that they get if they think they're going to have to face their classes without their worksheets and tests. I quickly sized things up, started throwing them into the copiers, then sat on the floor and bawled like a baby.

Okay. I didn't do that. The bawling, I mean. I'm pretty sure that steam was coming out of my ears while I frantically got every.freaking.copy ready for 1st block. And I did it. Got the rest done by 8.

Angry. That's not the time to talk to ones' boss, but I did. I knew she'd hear from some angry teachers if the copying wasn't done on time, so I told her what happened. I then sent an email (not placing any blame, but leaving it pretty clear whose fault it was {not mine}) to the teachers apologizing for not having things ready when they came in. Because I almost always do.

This isn't a job that is fought over. It would drive most people crazy. I love it (most of the time) because I can let my mind roam freely while my hands are working. It's not a difficult job. I take pride in having things done ahead of time and even working in the copies of those who are constantly turning in stuff minutes before they need it (front/back, stapled, hole-punched, 65). I don't let much stuff sit just because I don't feel like doing it today. I get the job done quickly and accurately.

I was mortified that those papers hadn't been copied and weren't ready this morning. I know it wasn't my fault, but it's my job to make things get done on time. So I went to the top and told the principal and the executive secretary, who won't call that girl to sub again. I don't like to tattle, I'd rather handle things myself, but this was just ridiculous.

I've worked hard all day and have everything on the shelves for the rest of the week done. I like to have things done ahead of time. That last-minute scrabbling is hard on my nerves.

I hope that the main office receptionist is back tomorrow. I can't handle another day like these last two.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stolen sign?

Notsomuch.

Turns out it was removed by a WV state road crew because it was in their easement.

They couldn't simply toss it closer to the fence, or leave a note explaining.

They just took it.

Another one is now in place away from their easement.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Getting ready

Less that two weeks. That's how much time until we know if we'll own The Cat House.

I just bought Tom's airfare. This is the first time that Orbitz has had the best deal, what with that price guarantee thingy where they'll refund the extra if anyone else books the same flight through them for less. Yeah, it's a crapshoot, but since Travelocity and others offered the same fare without the guarantee, I went with Orbitz.

Because I did the booking and because I could.

Strangely enough, it is less expensive to fly out of Charlottesville than either Roanoke or Richmond, on these particular dates. Ch'ville is only an hour from work, while Richmond is 2.5 hours and Roanoke is around 1.75 hours. It's a smaller airport and easy to get to. I've only flown into/out of there once, and while I'm not nuts about flying on a puddlejumper, I'll do it.

It would have cost over $550 to fly from the airport closest to us. So, no.

So things are falling into place. We spent the long weekend working on our deck (which is SO nice to have!) and packing/getting rid of things. It's finally starting to show; rooms are looking bigger and moderately less junky. I've gotten rid of tons of clothes that don't fit or that I'll never wear ever again. All kinds of kitchen stuff is going. Got an extra? Mercy House or Goodwill. Ugly clothes? Same. Nana's table/chairs and china cabinet? Give to Liz. Midge? Joan'll take her in and care for her. (I honestly thought that I'd given her to Joan oh these many moons ago.) Christmas ornaments? Grandkids, whether they want 'em or not.

It's a royal pain, but it's gonna be worth it.

Some maroon stole our for-sale sign that was next to our driveway. WTF? I mean, I know it's West Virginia and people may have a different definition of "fun" than normal people do, but unless it's needed for patching that hole in the outhouse roof, not cool.

Knitting: Ten pattern repeats without too many screwups. They're there, but I'm pretending that no one will notice them. Still going with Spring Tulips (sorry, Elaine!) with markers every freaking 8 stitches. It's the only way I can make it come out even near right. At the end of this week, I'll pick a winner for the pattern contest since I'm using one I'd already come up with.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Happy birthday, baby boy!

He's 35 today. Geez, I'm only 25, how can that be?

He's always been easy, from my 35-minute-labor to this very day. I'm very lucky to have two wonderful children, and I'm very lucky that they married wonderful people. And each have two wonderful kids.

Okay, too many numbers for me to deal with.

Happy birthday, Kent!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Happy birthday, Joan!!!

And many more!!!

We've made it over the first hurdle!!!

The house inspector just called (from Key West. I am so jealous.) He thinks there's about three dumpsters'-worth of crap to haul away (flooring inside, deck outside; the entire deck has to go; it was built incorrectly and has been falling apart since the day it was finished), the house tented, and he estimates about $80,000 to renovate the place nicely. Not just renovate, but do it well. He didn't find anything structural that's bad and the plumbing and wiring appear to be okay. The pool seems to be okay, too. We won't have to get permits to rebuild, just to renovate, which are a lot easier to come by in the Keys.

His wife loves the place; they'd better not bid against us!

Now we have to decide just how high we're willing to bid, considering that we'll have to put that much into renovation, but we'd estimated the cost at $75,000, so it's not a shock.

I can breathe again, and my stomach has stopped hurting. For now, anyway. I love that property.

Cross your fingers!!!

Wedding Stole pics

The Wedding Shawl. Not this color at all. Can't get the beads to show (so far they're just along the outside edges).


More accurate color. 55/45 cashmere silk lace. I'm heading out to buy a lace needle, something I never thought I'd need.



It's affishul.



Tom, after I hit him with the cast iron skillet.

This week--so far

Can I please have a do-over?

These damn copiers have worn me down this week. They're taking turns being pains in the ass and I'm losing 4 sheets of paper each time one jams--and that's happening every four or five copies. And that's on the good copier. The one that was more or less fixed yesterday. Because I had to call the technician twice yesterday, once for each damn copier.

Bad one fixed, good one more or less worked without jamming too much. But, as fate would have it, the bad one broke down not ten minutes after the repair guy walked out of the school. Output tray one is unavailable, as are stapling and hole-punching. This kind of comes and goes, no rhyme or reason. I've spent today ripping sheets of papers out of the copier's guts, and I am so done. It's time for MY breakdown.

In other news, the cat house will be auctioned in a few weeks. Did I already say this? I don't have the energy to look back. We've had it inspected and are awaiting the report. If it's doable, then we'll bid on it. If not, then we'll have to gather our marbles and play somewhere else.

This is our baby. Our Cat House. It sits on a corner and has only one next-door neighbor. The lots behind these houses are jungle, and I hope they stay that way. There's one neighbor across the road to the south, but their house is diagonal from this one, and there's nothing directly across the street to the front. It's about as big a lot as can be found in our price range. You'll note the lovely green hue of the water in the pool.

So. Once we get the inspection report, we'll decide if we want to bid on it, and how much. Then Tom will fly to Florida to attend the auction. We've arranged temporary financing which will be paid off when our house sells.

Speaking of which, the for-sale sign was put up Friday afternoon and the real estate agent has already had more than 6 calls about it, from people who've seen it and other real estate agents. Today a couple drove up the driveway, so Tom gave them the tour. Our little deck is almost finished; we'll enjoy that. For a while.

Shawl-wise, I'm still persevering perservering working on the Spring Tulips pattern. I've gotten through three pattern repeats without too much trouble. I ended up putting stitch markers (from scrap yarn) every 8 stitches, or one pattern repeat, on each row. The pattern is even starting to show up in the knitting. I'll keep on with this one until it kills me or I finish it. I haven't ended the contest yet; I may still have to resort to something easier.

I don't have photos of the house on this computer, and I haven't transferred them to dvd yet, but once I do, I'll show a few of the cat house and the others we like.

Meanwhile, I think I'll beat up on the copier.


Day 8. 172 left.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 5

175 left.

Good copier ate shit and died this afternoon. Okay, maybe not really, but that's what I was thinking. It wouldn't get over its little temper tantrum ("internal motor failed" or some such crap) after I let it sit, turned off, for an hour. Usually that'll take care of it, but not today. So it can sit there and rust. I'm not calling the tech guy today.

I'll probably regret that on Monday. Or maybe it'll decide to play nice again if it rests for 2.5 days.

A new realtor (#3) is taking someone to see the homestead today. Have I said that before? I can't remember what I wrote last night. Zippy kept interrupting; Tom had gone to bed early, not feeling well (which was no doubt related to his head injury on Wednesday), and Zip just can't handle having me in the living room while Tom's asleep. It's supposed to be the other way around.

Where was I? Oh, the 3rd realtor had someone who wanted what we want to get rid of, and he asked if he could stop by today as they have three other properties they're looking at in the area. We haven't even signed with this guy; he's the first one who sounded like he had any idea about what/how to sell in WV. I'm hoping the guy will buy the place so we can get on with the next part of our lives. I feel like I'm living in this limbo; can't quite leave this place but can't go to the next. I'll feel better once things are more settled.

The cat house. The house that we want. The place we've been mentally renovating and imagining ourselves enjoying the pool. The house that's now has a sale pending financing. That makes me anxious. Dammit, WE saw that place in June, WE went through it twice, WE've been trying to figure out how to get it before it was sold. Actually, I didn't think it would sell.

If that one goes through, there's a back-up plan, if that one doesn't sell first. The other one is a bigger house although in odd rooms, such as a tiny living room that stretches across the front of the house (it's not very deep, although it would function just fine) and the dining room/kitchen stretched out the depth of the house along one side. It has 2 bedrooms with wonderful closets, a den/office, and three bathrooms. Yes. Three. It has a small yard, fenced with a low stone fence, a deck out back, a hot tub, a big storage building/shop, and an outdoor shower. No pool and no room for one, but this place has dropped so low that we could probably just pay for it outright after our house sells.

So. That's how it is going into the weekend. I'll be anxious until we buy a place, but I'll manage.

If I can.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 4 down

176 to go.

(Although my contract calls for me to work all of the "work" days and another 10 days before and after the teachers are working. Kids aren't there. As such, it's not work.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm about one frog from going garter

Or postal. Whichever works.

I started over The Wedding Stole, v. 3.2, again last night. Again, after the second row, I had two too few stitches. That means that I must have missed a couple of yarn-overs, but frogging back to find them is much too difficult with so many s2kpssos in the stupid row. I end up with a tangled mess. I'm too lazy to run a lifeline after each row. I'm guessing that I'll go to a garter stitch shawl and just add beads wherever I want. So right now, Elaine is the frontrunner for the prize.

This getting up before the asscrack of dawn is wearing me out. Even if I'm tired, I can't go to sleep until 10 or after. I'm up at 6, but not voluntarily. I'm fortunate enough to have a wonderful husband who turns off the alarm clock and lets me sleep (desperately clinging to the bed) another few minutes. He then gently tells me it's time to get up (and even calls me sweetheart), fixed a travel mug of tea, gathers my lunch and snacks, and hands it to me with a kiss as I stumble out the door, telling me to drive carefully. That's so sweet of him.

I like getting out of work at 3. It makes the evening feel a little longer. Now that it's definitely getting dark earlier, I'm always asking Tom what time it is and I'm suprised that it's only 8.

We're watching a lot of HGTV and DIY home-improvement shows, trying to get ideas for selling this house and gutting and rebuilding renovating the cat house. There have been a couple that have featured adding outdoor showers, which we'd like to have off the back of the master bedroom. It just seems to be the height of luxury to be able to shower (privately) (we will have neighbors, and I don't want to scare them) under the sun, moon, and/or stars. I might change my mind when it's really muggy, but I imagine that it'll still feel good to shower off after floating in the pool. We were in the Keys during their hottest and muggiest time of the year, and if there weren't mosquitos breeding in the concrete pond then, Monroe County must have a pretty damn good mosquito control program. A real estate agent told us to call the county if we notice mosquitos and they'll come out and spray for them quickly. I don't like the idea of being in all that poison all the time, but it's that or be eaten alive. After all, I did live in the Hopewell area for the first 6 years of my life and visited Miami every summer, so I was exposed to a lot of spraying in both places. We always had to go inside when the spray truck came around. We really wanted to stay outside and play in the nice, cool fog..... I wonder if that's what caused me to have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Betty has an immune system disorder too. I think that we can thank Hopewell's chemical plants and irresponsible storage/disposal of their products for our health problems. Joan was born in Hopewell, too, although she only lived there for her first two months until she returned in her 20s; she has migraines, skeletal/muscular problems, and she and I suffer from depression and anxiety. Maybe that should be that we have problems with depression and anxiety but our families do the suffering. Whatever.

We still love Hopewell, though, and have many fond memories of the times we spent there. I can remember going to Nana's house and getting a glass of water and watching the particulate matter swirl in the vaguely brownish water. Good times, people.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I got nothin'

My brain has checked out for the day. I couldn't even begin to come up with a catchy title.

I started knitting The Wedding Stole again last night. I got through 8 entire rows, one who repeat, before I messed up. You see, on that eight row, I thought, "I really should run a lifeline now," but I didn't listen to myself. As usual. Halfway through row 9, I was off by one stitch. One. Stitch. How can one stitch mess things up so much?

I'm trying the Spring Tulip stole on Ravelry, at least, I think it is. It looks very elaborate, but it's just a series of 8 rows of the same 8 stitches over and over and over. I was even starting to memorize it last night. I'm still listening to your suggestions and printing the patterns (when they're free) because I'm fairly certain that I'm going to mess this one up beyond tolerance too.

If I end up knitting something other than one you've suggested, I'll just use the ol' random number generator to chose a winner. I'm not going to put a deadline on it yet because I'll continue to mess them up for another month or so.

Another real estate agent toured the homestead today. We weren't very taken with RE Lady #1. She didn't seem to anxious to get things going. RE Lady #2 said not to replace the carpets, they're in good shape, just declutter and get stuff out of the house. We are having a 10' x 10' deck built on the back of the house, which will make it look a little more finished. We'll still paint, but not a whole facelift. She'll send comps tomorrow. I'm interested to see if her price range is the same as the first one.

I hope we sell this fast. We really want that house in Big Pine Key (one of these days I'll put up some photos so you can just how insane out of touch with reality anxious we are to get started fixing it up. I mean, how long will The Bank allow it to sit there, rotting away, with the value dropping by the second? The asking price dropped $45K during the four weeks we were in the Keys. Perhaps they're getting antsy to move it before they have a real environmental hazard on their hands.

The xerographic module for Bad Copier arrived, but I wasn't notified because no one seemed to notice that big box with Xerox written on it and my name in bold letters on the label. I stuck that sucker into the machine and I've been fighting with the copier ever since. It still wants to jam frequently. It's now making an awful groaning sound as it drags paper through its belly. It was nice and quiet last week for the half hour it's worked this school year. I'm caught up, but I'm exhausted from the battle.

B2 started public kindergarten yesterday. He'd had two years of church preschool under his belt, but I don't think that's equal to the task of molding him into a productive student. He's got his own ideas about how things are run and he is not afraid to insist. Authority figures don't scare him any. He loves the principal of the school, and he was introduced to the in-school suspension teacher and loves her, which really isn't in his best interests, but he doesn't know that yet. His first day went fairly uneventfully, as far as we know so far. He did have a littttttllllleee trouble being quiet while in line, which we expected.

His teacher just happens to work part time at Disney, and she just happens to have the job that B2 aspires to: tour guide on the Backlot Movie tour at Hollywood Studios. I'm sure now that he's convinced it's a match made in heaven. He's quite a talkative child, and I expect him to monopolize many of the school lessons--or attempt to.

A loves her teacher (4th grade) and her year started well. She had a bit of trouble staying quiet in kindergarten, but she's not the chatterbox that B2 is. It amazes me how much she's matured over the last six months. She now writes some long emails that make sense; she's writing a book of stories. She's learned to text (but not how to put spaces between words). She's a whiz at computer games and loves to read.

Forty-five minutes and I can go home. Can you tell how much I want to retire and leave work forever?

2 days down, 178 to go. This year.