Wednesday, December 30, 2009


We are back from visiting my older son Jordan and his wife Sophie—we had a very relaxing time. In fact, I actually slept in (for me): 7 AM Eastern almost every day! Of course that’s still 6 AM Central.

I lived in Nashville as a little girl, so we took a quick drive by the elementary school I attended for first and second grade. You can’t see it in this picture but the doors on the far left and far right are marked Girls and Boys.

We’d been told by Ben that we wouldn’t see Jade the cat because she was even more shy than our Chloe cat. Well I don’t know what Ben was thinking, that cat cuddled with me every morning, purring like crazy. Or maybe I really am the Cat Whisperer.

We had a blast baking and decorating cookies, although Sophie was by far the best cookie decorator. I tended to go for the slightly macabre (which won’t surprise Jeanne any more, right Jeanne?). The round cookie was supposed to look like he’d been in a fight but the stitches part sort of ran together so he looks like he has a black eye.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and please, a happy New Year

Kent and I won’t forget this year any time soon. Go here for the year in pictures.

And here’s a recap of our year:

Even for Boston, last winter was cold and snowy, and the snow remained on our patio until March 19. At least we don’t have to shovel a long driveway.

I ramped up my sewing, and made a lot of bags, toddler clothes and aprons. Wally helped.

Once things thawed out a bit, we turned our attention to our patio. One of the main reasons we bought this apartment over others we looked at was the very large outdoor space—well, large by Boston standards anyway. We moved bushes, added ground cover that can thrive even with little sun, and planted impatiens, begonias, herbs and ferns. We couldn’t enjoy the patio in June since most of June was very rainy and cold, but our work paid off later in August.

Ben and Jen asked us to visit at Easter and you better believe we said yes. Watching Alison eat (and dislike) her first Peep was hilarious.

My folks organized a family reunion in Estes Park, CO in July, which gave us the opportunity not only to get out of the chilly rain in Boston but also to catch up with family members, some of whom I hadn’t seen in decades. We also headed down to Providence for Waterfire—the city put platforms in the river and then lights huge bonfires on them. It’s a very cool spectacle.

In August, my best friend Kerry and her husband Brad came out to see us. Thankfully the weather actually cooperated, and we had a blast going to Fenway, checking out the Freedom Trail and watching Brad replicate a Man v Food event.

Throughout the year, I rediscovered how much I like baking my own bread, I learned to make yummy granola bars, and Kent became a pizza dough master. We also got more storage for our apartment, things like tall bookcases, a sewing cabinet that looks like a chest, plus an amazing new rug and a new chair.

On October 28, a 31 inch water main ruptured and flooded our apartment with about 18 inches of water. For the first three weeks, we stayed in Providence at a friend’s house, and I found the house my mother lived in when she was a little girl. Right now, we’re in temporary quarters waiting for the insurance company to approve the construction plan.

We spent our third Thanksgiving in a row with Ben, Jen and Alison. This has become a cherished tradition for Kent and me, and we love that we can spend time with them, celebrate Christmas early and just soak up family time.

Three weeks ago, Kent learned that AOL was eliminating the small company he works at. He opted to take the voluntary separation packet since the job was going away no matter what. Right now it looks as though his last day there will be at the end of February.

Two weeks ago, we learned that the trustees for our condominium association are being sued—and Kent is a trustee.

We’ll end the year on a better note when we head to Nashville to visit Jordan and Sophie the day after Christmas. We are looking forward to seeing them and putting the stresses we’re currently facing out of our minds for a few days.

Here’s to 2010—may it be a lot more peaceful not only for us but also for you.

With love,

Kent and Elizabeth

We are insane

We're heading to Target on Christmas Eve to buy a meat thermometer. We can't make my mother's amazing pork without it.

If you don't hear from us, send help.

Monday, December 21, 2009

To be fair

I want to dislike Boston intensely, I really do. In many ways, this has been the hardest city to live in both personally and professionally. I miss the smiles and friendly nods you get in the Midwest and God knows I miss working in my field.

But I need to be fair to Boston. Since moving here, I’ve been fortunate to meet some amazing people who have become good friends in ways I wouldn’t have expected having known them for just over a year. Let me explain.

We’ve been hit with a triple whammy this fall. It started with the water damage to our apartment (no change there, the construction plan still hasn’t been approved). Then almost three weeks ago, we got the news that Kent’s job and indeed the entire Boston office would be eliminated. Finally we were notified that the condominium association trustees were being sued by one of the homeowners—Kent is a trustee.

Since getting all that news, our friends and also strangers have rallied around us. The night of the flood I was entirely undone by a tough South Boston woman who took my order for our dinner, learned about our apartment damage and then hugged me and kissed my forehead like you would a small child. We’ve got friends who have been fasting and praying for us, and frankly that blows my mind. Others have helped us with expenses or have given us concert tickets so we could have a very special evening together. My folks sent us a care package of the most amazing cheese and crackers, along with money to buy wine—and strict instructions that money must be used for that purpose (I obeyed, Mom!). My friend Jeanne told me she’s sending me a book and I cannot wait to read it.

I am not a good enough writer to express how humbling and uplifting this outpouring has been for me. But I think I am making peace with Boston. It’s not the outwardly friendly town that Kansas City is, but I’m experiencing kindness and friendliness here when I need it most.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December snow

We had some friends over last night for a pot-luck cocktail party. All of them hoped the snow would start while they were there so they could see it from our huge windows. Alas it didn't start until sometime around 2 AM. I got this video about 6:30 AM.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Our big monorail cat

If you are familiar with LOLcats, then you’ve probably also seen the MONORAIL cat. Eddie is our monorail cat, and he started balancing like that at a very early age. While our office chairs did survive the water damage, they are in storage so Eddie has to make do with the chairs on hand. He's a big 15 pound cat and these chairs are a lot narrower than our office chairs. Eddie remains undeterred.

And here he is after his graceful dismount:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some people call me Maurice

Wally has a way of finding places to recline that are in keeping with his nickname, The Ginger Prince. He’s done so in all five places we’ve lived in his short, not quite three years of life. Boy that’s kind of depressing to realize we’ve lived five places since we got Wally and Eddie in June 2007.

Aside from the incredible view we have from this apartment, we also have an exceptionally comfortable bed. We aren’t particularly glad it’s a king size bed, it seems awfully big when snuggles are required. But it sure is comfy. In addition to being comfortable for us, the bed also has four pillows: two are normal pillows which are very soft, and there are also two king size pillows, equally soft.

So every morning when we make the bed, Wally finds his way in there and creates a throne worthy of a gangster of love.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Boston at night

I walked home from my haircut appointment Saturday about 6PM—it gets dark here before 5 in the winter, so most of the apartments were lit up and many of them had Christmas trees in their windows. In Kansas City, you could see some homes like that but because the homes were almost all single family, you wouldn’t see lots. But in the South End where I live, the apartments are pretty much all converted brownstones (see a short history on the South End here), so each building can have three or four or sometimes five apartments depending on how many floors the building has.

Walking past all the lit up homes always reminds me of one of my favorite Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, The Little Match Girl. It’s a pretty sad story, but any time I walk in the dark and see homes lit up, I remember the visions she saw as she lit those matches. Even though I’m not a poor little match girl, I feel as though I’m getting a sense of her last moments as she sees the fire, the feast and finally her grandmother.

Lest you think I was a morbid child, I also loved The Princess and the Pea. My mother says that’s only natural since I am as fussy and high maintenance as she was.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


The boys get the majority of attention in this blog. That's mostly because Chloe lives a very simple life. She curls up in a ball and naps, or else she's napping on our laps. Occasionally she'll spaz out and zoom around the place, and lately she's played more with Wally and Eddie. Otherwise she's pretty sedate.

A couple of Christmases ago, I realized she had an obsession with peppermint ice cream that rivaled mine. I've heard that peppermint and catnip are related, and that would explain her obsession; she's definitely a nip addict.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wally loves bags

And also here's the best ice cream ever:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Update and snow

I tried to post this yesterday but blogger's video upload feature kept getting hung up.

It's not a big update, because nothing's changed. The insurance company hasn't yet approved the construction plan so our housing situation remains as it was six weeks ago. If I don't learn patience now, I don't think I ever will.

We woke up this morning to snow, great big huge flakes getting blown by the wind. I'd thought the kitties would really love our wall to wall windows, but I think we are too far up for them to really see people or animals, so they don't get engaged with what they see. Well this morning Wally did. I took this video as the snow turned to rain, and consequently Wally was losing interest. Eddie wasn't interested anyway.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Elizabethology ahead

I posted a status update on Facebook regarding Kent’s job status—it’s looking quite grim, although he hasn’t yet received the “official” word. Add to that my two years of unemployment and our recent flood, and I think it’s clear why I said I was contemplating changing my name to Job.

But I was bothered by some of the comments my status received, the ones that were over-the-top positive thinking clichés. I don’t understand why people think offering clichés and platitudes would help someone who’s gotten bad news. I realize negative emotions and negative responses can be awkward to hear or see, but the reality is humans experience a wide range of emotions and some aren’t pleasant.

Of course Kent and I know of others who are in similarly dire if not worse situations. That doesn’t ease our situation. After all, pain isn’t graded, and this is our crisis right now. We are still reeling, and may be for a while.

I did get one completely fantastic comment: By the way, speaking as another one of the 10% families, you're allowed to have moments of wallowing in Job even as we all keep telling you to think positive. If you don't balance the two, you will go mad.

She is right and more than that, her words comforted me. She acknowledged the awfulness of our situation, and she didn’t tell me I would feel better tomorrow or even that everything will be OK. The sad reality is, we may not be OK. We’ll bust our butts to avoid that outcome, but the possibility is there.

So on to the Elizabethology bit. If you have friends who share bad news with you, don’t offer useless clichés. Just acknowledge the situation. Sympathize with them, and let them vent. Swallow the platitudes, or if you lack that discipline, at least write them down to be shared much later. Hopefully you will come to your senses before then, and delete the letter.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My cure

When I’m cranky or I’m not in a gracious mood (as my friend Kerry says), I find the only way I can begin to move out of that spot is by doing stuff. I’m not very good at sitting around and waiting; anyone who knows me will agree that patience has never been one of my strong points.

Well I’m sitting around waiting now. Our apartment flooded on October 28, five weeks and two days ago. Yes, I’m counting. We still don’t have an approved construction plan which means nothing has been done in the way of reconstruction. Worse, there’s not much of anything we can do to move things forward.

Kent’s company is in the midst of layoffs. You’d think we would both be immune to that stress due to the never-ending layoffs we went through while working for Sprint but that’s not the case. In fact I think this situation is a little worse since I don’t have a job—if he gets laid off things will really be rough.

So that’s why my mood stinks this week. Today I realized I’d better get moving or I was going to be really bad company this weekend. Fortunately the weather is absolutely gorgeous here in Boston (sorry, Nancy, hope you get some). Now we have coffee, the mail’s been picked up and sorted, cats have food, laundry is almost done, I replaced our collapsible cart we use to haul around groceries and I’m contemplating what to make for dinner. And yes, I’m in a better mood.

On Wednesday, housekeeping came. Apparently you get house cleaning every other week for your $4000/month rent. Wally did NOT like the housecleaners so he found a place to hide.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Two views

I took this short clip Monday morning. It's very quiet and peaceful where Ben and Jen live, and the trees are just beautiful.

And this morning, Kent got this clip for me. You'll hear street noise in this video because our temporary apartment is on a major street. We don't hear this kind of noise in our own apartment. (Edited to add that you hear all the noise because the window is open.) The view here is just amazing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My favorite sayings from Thanksgiving

Alison's verbal skills have increased exponentially since we saw her last Easter, and even since the family reunion in July. At Easter she would say, "Up! Up!" when she wanted us to pick her up. Now she uses a complete sentence. Here are some of my favorites:

"I hold you."
I think she said this because we would ask her if we could hold her.

"Cindy Lala." She's obsessed with all things princess and that's how she says Cinderella.

"Oh my goodness!" This one cracked everyone up. It's something Jen says and Alison just started mirroring it while we were there.

"Just two more seconds." She said this after her mother asked her to stop doing something so she could get ready for bed. Jen has no idea where she got this expression.

"I'm not a boring princess." She has some Gigi books, and GiGi is a princess, but as the book says, she's not a boring princess. Clearly, neither is Alison.

Ben and Jen told us yesterday that they figured yesterday would be all about Nana and Granddad withdrawals for Alison. Well, to be honest we have Alison withdrawals.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A very full day

Yesterday we toured the battleship Wisconsin (you can read about it here)—peering into the berths really emphasized how little each sailor could bring on board. I think they had minimalism down well before it became trendy.

This video shows both the view and how very windy it was. Alison didn’t seem to mind the wind at all.

Last night we put on the Christmas music and decorated the tree. After not having a Christmas tree the last two years, I was so glad to be able to participate in Ben and Jen’s decorations. Then Alison decided the box was a lot of fun. She wanted Smoochie in there with her, so I had to help him a bit.

I love this picture of Alison that I took when Jen and Kent were putting the tree together. She was determined to help, even though the branches were half her size.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Loving the visit

We got to Virginia Wednesday night and oddly enough, our worst travel delay came well after we landed. We sat for about 90 minutes on the James River bridge--no idea why, any accident had been entirely cleared by the time we moved again.

Alison loves to play dress up and princess, and she got Kent (Granddad) to play with her a long time yesterday morning. Jen snagged this picture, which shows that the sweet goofy side of Kent is sometimes just what a child needs. I should add that for some reason, Alison really didn't want to wear clothes yesterday. It was plenty warm enough to run around that way, Virginia isn't Boston after all.

Here's my favorite picture of me with Alison yesterday. She was a little uneasy when the other family arrived, which was kind of funny since she had been looking forward to playing with the other children. So she hung around the edges of the playroom while the kids played, and then we ended up getting dressed up in princess stuff. Aren't those butterfly wings she's wearing pretty cute? I would have loved to have had those when I was a little girl.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The recession’s not over

Most of the time when I submit my resume for a job opening, it disappears forever into the ether. Some companies send an auto-generated response acknowledging I’ve applied but that’s less common than you might think.

I’ve been given varied reasons why I haven’t gotten the job. Here are a few of my favorites.

“The job is too small for you.”
I was overqualified for this job but I loved what the company did, enough that I didn’t mind taking a step or two back. At each stage of the interview process, I answered the same questions about being overqualified. I thought I did a good job letting them know why I was interested in the position, because I really wanted to get a foot in the door. Apparently my foot was too big.

“The person who left the job came back.”
Dressed for the interview, I was almost out the door when the recruiter called me and said don’t come. Apparently the woman who’d left the job decided almost immediately she’d made a mistake and asked to come back.

“We’ve realized what we really need is a technical writer.” I interviewed separately with the two people I’d have been working with. During those two hours, I grew very uneasy about the job because the two of them didn’t agree on what they needed the person they hired to actually do. I asked them a lot of questions about what the immediate need was, what they needed from the successful candidate, and what their skills where. Ironically I am pretty sure I helped them pinpoint what they did need—a tech writer—while making sure I didn’t get the job.

And finally this week I got a new reason: “We have stopped all hiring.” This job was with the same company that told me the job was too small for me. I’m kind of proud of myself for trying with them again even though I was rejected once already. That should show you how much I like what the company does! They did some headcount reductions this year but their booked business for 2010 is good. They thought they were financially healthy enough to bring on another two trainers, but after a lengthy interview process where again I was a finalist, this week they realized they need to freeze all hiring for the foreseeable future.

For those of you who have jobs, be thankful. For those who don’t, I share your pain. And for all of us, here's a relaxing picture of Eddie. That cat sure knows how to snooze.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Things that say love

The tin I kept my bobbins in was below the water mark. I pulled it out anyway, and hoped that perhaps I'd gotten them out in time to be saved. I knew the thread would need to be discarded but the bobbins aren't cheap and I had enough that replacing them wouldn't be easy. Well as you can see, they were ruined. In the top right of the picture, the red stuff in the plastic bag is rust, and you can see rust on a couple of the bobbins, too.

I'd already asked my mother to track down an invisible zipper foot for my Bernina, since the Bernina stores near me had all gone out of business (which is why I thought replacing the bobbins would be a hassle). She found one, and very kindly picked up a sleeve of the Bernina bobbins too.

Today Kent and I were in Target. You already heard me complain about not being able to decorate this year, and Jeanne had the great suggestion of making a paper tree to tape on the wall. We were prepared to do just that when we found this tree. I didn't want to spend the $20 to get it, but Kent asked me if it would help our place feel more like home and more like Christmas. Well he made me cry in Target, and now we have a little bit of Christmas decoration here. The tree is supposed to be shatterproof; I'm sure the kitties will put that to the test.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

But I want to decorate

Two years ago, our home in Kansas City was on the market. In order to reach the widest pool of potential buyers and also in order to emphasize how very spacious our home was, we put up only a very few Christmas decorations. Mostly we hung our stockings and a couple of wall hangings my mother has made over the years. Even if our house hasn’t been on the market, a Christmas tree was out of the question. The boy kitties would have climbed a tree, eaten the branches and broken every ornament they could get their paws on.

Last year we couldn’t really decorate either. Our apartment is about 1,000 square feet so there’s no room for a tree and again, the boy kitties would have destroyed one anyway. So we settled for this.

Now we are in the temporary quarters and most of our surviving belongings are packed in storage. That means I can’t even put up stockings or my dinky ceramic tree or use the Christmas mugs I got for us a couple of years ago. Bah humbug.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quick update

We are heading back to Providence to collect another car load of our belongings. Kent got these pictures this morning. The view is of the Christian Science headquarters.

Monday, November 16, 2009

U turns? Really?

Dear Providence drivers,

As I leave you this week, I do have some questions I hope you can answer for me. You see, I’ve found the unwritten driving rules quite bewildering in the almost three weeks I’ve been here. So perhaps you can clear things up for me.

1. How do I know when you plan on making a u-turn directly in front of me? I don’t see a turn signal and really a turn signal wouldn’t exactly be appropriate. So am I missing something here? Do you do some sort of weird hand gesture or a head bob or something? Clue me in please.

2. In the same vein, why do you get angry with me when I don’t realize you are making a u-turn in front of me and I fail to yield to you? Is there a law I don’t know about that says anyone making a u-turn gets to go first?

3. Let’s not forget plain vanilla left hand turns—directly into oncoming traffic. Are you sure I’m going to stop? Because to the best of my knowledge, I have the right of way and you do not. Yet you turn mere inches from my front bumper and you get mad at me.

4. Pedestrians, you get a question as well—why, when there is a clearly marked cross walk half a block away, do you decide it would be better to dart across the street directly in front of my car? You don’t even have the excuse of bad weather. Are you that confident I’ll both see you and be able to stop?

Thanks in advance for your answers. I’m confident you can clear this up for me, and I remain hopeful I can leave without actually killing anyone.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The new cat perch

Apparently fairly simple cat trees with sides on the ledges are unpopular. I say that because I had to look at four different pet stores to find the replacement perch. This one is a little bigger than our previous perch and while I don't look forward to moving it on Monday, the cats' reactions were most gratifying.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I wanna go back to Egypt

It’s no secret that Boston hasn’t been a particularly good place for me to live, mostly because I can’t find a job. And even though I lived in a similar climate for three years while in Germany, last winter was tough. Between the heavier-than-normal snow plus us living in a basement apartment, I felt like I lived in a pretty solitary cave.

Mostly though I miss my friends, and I miss the tribal knowledge I have about Kansas City. Even though I’ve been gone for 18 months, if I were suddenly dropped back in KC, I’d still know where to go or who to call to get what I need. That includes things like doctors, dentists, good grocery stores, plumbers, electricians, and even volunteer opportunities. I don’t have that knowledge in Boston yet, that sort of thing takes time.

Oddly enough, I find myself longing to be back in Boston. Don’t get me wrong—I like Providence a lot. I just don’t know a soul here, and since we aren’t staying, I don’t really have the motivation to meet people. Plus I know more about Boston than I realized. And while I haven’t developed the extensive circle of friends I had in Kansas City, I do have friends—good ones, who have been so kind during this mess.

When I lived in Columbus, my friends from church had an expression they used whenever any of us would miss how we lived in the past: I wanna go back to EEEEEEEEEEgypt. You may recall that in the Old Testament, the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years before God allowed them to enter the Promised Land. And even though they’d lived in slavery under horrific conditions, they would regularly complain to Moses that they wanted to go back to Egypt. Now I won’t say Boston is as bad as living in slavery under a crazy Pharaoh, not by a long shot. It's also not the Promised Land. I still want to go back.

I'll close with a picture of where the boys like to spend their days when they aren't crying at me. It's not a big window but they manage to squeeze in there anyway.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The effect of stress on cats

I’m not one to humanize animals, but Wally is one stressed kitty. He wanders around down here in the basement, crying and crying. When I go upstairs even for a moment, he cries at the top of the stairs. He roams all night long crying and getting into things, and he’s inconsolable.

I’m not surprised, he’s always been more sensitive to change than the other two cats. And he’s the one who ran into the rising water—I’m pretty sure he was trying to get to his safe spot, the top of our cat perch. I’ve never seen such a terrified cat when he came scrambling back into the bedroom, and getting him into his carrier was really tough.

We have a soft carrier that’s pretty much worthless, it’s too small for any of the cats and it’s difficult to close and to carry. But Wally has used it before as a safe hidey hole so I am hoping he will do so again. I sprinkled some cat nip in the carrier and put in one of his favorite toys. Then I just sat by the carrier for a bit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Temporary housing

Yesterday Kent filled out the necessary paperwork to get us moved into temporary housing. While we have been very thankful to be here in Providence, the additional commute time plus our total isolation has just made the last couple of weeks pretty tough. Winter is coming and even though Kent takes the train, I still have to get him there and Providence is pretty hilly. And at some point construction will start on our apartment, and we'll need to be closer to hand as questions come up.

We'll be living at 221 Mass Ave which is in Back Bay and less than half a mile to our apartment. Use the minus sign (-) to get both places in view if they don't show already.

View Larger Map

Here's the distance from our apartment to the house in Providence:

View Larger Map

I don't look forward to getting moved but I do look forward to actually being there and getting settled.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

53 East Manning Street

My mother lived in Providence as a little girl, and she gave me the address. We drove there today to check it out and wow, it's a cool neighborhood full of historic houses in great shape. It looks as though the house was like the neighbors and was an upstairs/downstairs duplex, but it's been combined into one single family home. So there's a 51 East Manning Street but no 53 East Manning Street.

We took a short video plus a couple of pictures.

Edited to add that after conferring with my uncle, my mother says their address was indeed 51 East Manning Street. What a very cool neighborhood.

Demolition is mostly done

I took these four short videos yesterday that show what's left.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I posted a couple of these on Facebook but I'm still going to post them here. I took three videos so they wouldn't be too large to upload. The noise you hear are the huge fans and dehumidifiers going non-stop.

You'll hear me laugh in this one because I tripped over a trash can. I thought maybe I'd stumbled onto a Three Stooges movie.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

More water feature pictures

Your eyes are not deceiving you, the rug is floating. It protected the coffee table because while the legs got wet, the rest of the table stayed dry. The high water mark was between 18 and 24 inches, although that's not what you see in these pictures. We have or rather we had very tall baseboards, about a foot tall, and the water was way over the top of the baseboards. These pictures were all taken after the water had started receding.

Kent took this and the following picture while it was still somewhat light outside. The water got to the top of the bottom stair, which is an abnormally tall stair (the rest of the stairs are normal, it's just the last step that's a doozy).

This is looking in from our back door.

You can see how much dry wall has been removed. It's this way throughout the entire apartment, and of course the flooring is gone, also any insulation plus all the baseboards.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Miscellaneous thoughts in the midst of drying out

First, I am so very glad we had water and not sewage in our apartment. The water came from a water main under the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Claremont Park, about 75 yards from our building—so it was relatively clean. I’m sure we got a lot of street grime and oil and dog poop/pee, but we didn’t have floating human sewage or that kind of smell.

The main that broke was a 31” pipe and it created a huge sink hole as you can see. The city of Boston has been working there around the clock since the main broke Wednesday afternoon.

Second, it’s amazing how much damage just 18 inches of water can do. Our stove is fried, our freezer got water in it, as did the dishwasher. We are pretty sure the hot water heater is fried, and also our washer/dryer unit.

All our furniture is damaged, most considered beyond repair. We’ve asked that four pieces be restored because they can’t really be replaced: the coffee table and end tables that came from my mother, and the amazing armoire my mother-in-law gave us. Our bed frame will probably be OK because it’s metal but I won’t hesitate to toss it should it either rust or smell.

I have three pairs of shoes right now because I stored mine under the bed and in the bottom drawer of a dresser. Edited to add: the surviving shoes are a pair of running shoes, another pair of athletic shoes and my black knee-high patent leather boots.

Third, if you don’t have insurance on the contents of your home please reconsider that decision. Our insurance company is being amazingly helpful and all our clothing and shoes have been sent out for cleaning and possible recovery. Our next door neighbor didn’t have insurance on his contents, even though he’s a home owner.

The cats are finally a little calmer and that’s thanks to the kindness of a couple in our building. Tony and Peter also have a house in Providence and Wednesday evening they offered us the use of this home for the duration of our rebuilding process. That offer and their kindness really got to me and I admit I cried. So we are here in Providence—we drove down Thursday evening so we could get the kitties settled as soon as possible. They were still very freaked out Thursday evening but last night was a lot better.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Slight issue

I may not blog much in the next week or so. Then again I may find it to be a great way to relieve stress. A big water main ruptured near our house and all the garden (that's basement to you) apartments were flooded, including ours. I have no idea how long the clean up will take or what the final tally will be on damages. I'm pretty sure most of our furniture is a total loss. Oh and all my shoes. Anyway if I think about that too much, I'll cry and right now the kitties are pretty freaked so I better not.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Home again or bad, bad kitties

We are back after a really good visit to Tulsa, where most of Kent's family now lives. We had Christmas with them on Saturday--as we told Kent's mother, traveling from Boston in the winter can be a real gamble. By having our visit in October, we had a lot better chance of actually having our flights be mostly on time. And they were--mostly.

However the cats were not on their best behavior for our cat nanny. In no particular order, they did the following:

1. Wally took the Velcro off all the cabinets. He didn't eat the strips, he just took them off.

2. Naturally once they were off, he also got in all the cabinets and pulled things out.

3. Plus he got into the bathroom cabinet where he ate the plastic grocery sack lining the trash can AND slithered over into the drawer where we keep our toilet paper "safe" from him. I think the only reason he couldn't destroy all the rolls is because the drawer was full.

4. Eddie did his binge/purge routine and puked in several spots.

5. And on a positive note, Chloe decided that she loves the cat nanny and loved on her every chance she got.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


We leave for Tulsa tomorrow and I had to get the suitcases out today. That's actually a big ordeal because they are stored in the closet under the stairs. And they aren't at the front, either. So I have to empty almost everything to get to the dark blue suitcase. Apparently Eddie wants to go to Tulsa, too.

Edited to add: And then Wally had to get involved:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The grays

There’s no love lost between my gray kitties. Until we moved to Boston, Chloe really had no use for other cats, period. The move helped her thaw a bit but only toward Wally. I’m pretty sure that’s because while Wally will tease her, he’s not aggressive about it. If she gets too feisty with him, he backs off.

That’s not the case with Eddie. Our 15 pound fatty will chase her and pounce her and generally be extremely obnoxious and he doesn’t care if she hisses, spats at him or whaps him on his head—he doesn’t stop until he’s done with the game.

Chloe doesn’t kitty pile with either of the boys. At least not on purpose. Check out these three pictures: you can see Eddie knows darn well what he’s doing. He’s just lucky she didn’t really wake up.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Check out my banner

Kent created this for me for my Etsy shop. He's just amazing. The fabric is in my fabric storage cabinet and I love that he created a banner from the materials I use.

Getting ready for winter redux

It's cold enough now for quilts on the bed--I'm excited because I get to use the beautiful quilt my mother made for me. Because I love it so much, I've posted a picture of the whole bed plus a close up of the material and quilting. I'm so very glad that Kent isn't one of those weird men who think having pink in the bedroom somehow emasculates them. Pink doesn't emasculate men any more than black or brown make women less feminine.

Last year we hung curtains across our back door and also enclosed the stairwell leading up to the front door with insulated curtains. We found that the stairwell acted like a chimney so all our heat collected at the top of the stairs by the door, which did us no good at all.

This year, Kent did some reading about forced air electric heaters, our only heating method in the house. We can't really put in forced air or even a heat pump because the unit doesn't have any duct work so the cost would be insanely high. Anyway, Kent learned that these small wall heaters are quite good at heating small spaces quickly. One of our biggest complaints last year was that our office nook didn't stay warm, and based on what he read we finally understood why.

Take a look at the picture on the left. I've circled the office nook in red (it's called a dining room in the picture, which makes me laugh a bit); as you can see, it's rectangular, with an exterior door on the right side and an archway leading to the hall (and the stairwell) on the left side. The wall heater is on the long wall right by the exterior wall. Last year the heat just didn't stay in the space very well--it could go out into the living room or into the hall.

Yesterday we found curtains that match our living room curtains and the curtains we have across the back door. I lined them and Kent got them hung, and here's the finished product:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fat Talk Free Week

I ran across this week-long event through another blog I follow, and I like the idea enough that I'm posting it here and committing to the week for myself. I like the idea of being comfortable in my own skin.

The week begins October 19 and runs through October 23. You can read more about it here, here, and here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

These links are for you, Mom

The first article is about how to stop buying clothes you don't wear. And the second article lists the staples for every woman's wardrobe.

They are quick reads, I promise.

Edited to add that the author of the second article has published an updated list

PS If you aren't my mother, don't think I'm bossing her around. Her email crashed and this is the only way I can get her the articles--she was interested in them, I swear!

Pike position

Wally is the most limber of our three cats and he's the one I'm most likely to find sleeping in strange positions. Even though you see one eye slitted open a bit, he was well and truly asleep in this picture. The fabric you see on the chair is actually two pillow covers we no longer use. They are part of my kitty countermeasures--tools I use to keep kitty hair off the chair. It helps just a little bit.

I just took this picture at 11 AM, and had to add it. Eddie's head is completely unsupported, yet he's snoozing away.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I've wrestled with whether or not I want to launch an Etsy site of my own. Much as my mother doesn't like to make her quilts on spec, I am not sure I'd be up for taking orders for the sewing I do. I like to pick out the patterns and then find exactly the right materials that fit my internal view of how the item should be.

I also wasn't sure I wanted to sink a lot of money into fabric only to have my items sit there collecting online dust. But I realized I had enough remnants to make up some bags at almost no additional cost to me. All I needed to invest was a little additional money and of course time.

So the slide show on the left show the first five bags I've made along with close up pictures of the materials I used. Now I need to get an Etsy site established and figure out how to ship stuff should anything sell--oh and of course I need to figure out how much to charge.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The tube

We got this tube from Ikea. Although you won't hear it in this video, the tube makes crinkly noises very similar to a plastic grocery sack. The cats love to play in the tube and chase each other through it. Lately Eddie's been using it as a place to nap.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dear Kent,

I know we play the silly “I win” game all the time—where we tell each other that no, I win! But today’s the day I hope you’ll see the truth.

You say you win because now you love wearing your slippers around the house and because I brought kitties into your world. Fair enough, I did show you the kitty way and yes, I introduced you to the comforts of slippers. Oh and I suppose I’m to thank for your much improved diet.

But you’ve given me the things that really matter. I have a partner for life who thinks I rock. I laugh a lot more now. Plus I’ve really mellowed out a lot—if my sons are reading this, I know they agree. I’m less quick to get frustrated or annoyed, and I’m not nearly so insistent on everything being just so.

You have changed me, made me a better woman and really just a much nicer human being.

So clearly I win. Neener neener.



P.S. Happy anniversary.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Am I ready?

Winter is coming.

Our days are getting quite short; it’s full dark at 6:30. That will change when Daylight Savings Time kicks in but it will still get dark very early as December approaches. It’s not dark when I run about 7:30 AM but it’s not full light either. If the snow and ice hold off, I could be running in the dark.

I didn’t pack away any of my long sleeve T-shirts this summer. We just didn’t have enough summer to make the effort worthwhile. I did get out my summer dresses, though. I wore a couple of them twice.

I’ve fired up the crock pot—it’s soup season already. And I’ve gotten out my cooler weather running gear.

The cats are ready. They'll sleep through most of winter, usually in strange poses.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A surprise ending

This video was supposed to be about Chloe and her cute little snores. If you listen carefully, after I move closer to her you can hear her snores. The ending was entirely unexpected.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Whap, whap!

A month or so ago, I put Chloe on the top of the cat perch. She had been curious about it but had never actually worked up the nerve to get up there on her own. Now she loves it and spends a lot of time snoozing there.

This morning Wally wanted the perch but Chloe was already up there. For about 30 minutes, she successfully defended her perch by smacking and generally intimidating Wally. That's pretty unusual for Chloe, and I'm glad Kent was able to get this picture of her getting all fierce with Wally.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wally and the bed

Wally won't get under the covers with us at night, that's strictly Eddie's deal. That's not to say he won't ever get under the covers, he just prefers to do it when no one is in the bed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I've had seven major abdominal surgeries and after the sixth one I really got serious about getting and staying fit. The seventh surgery was to repair incisional hernias I had from all the other surgeries, and I have a synthetic mesh in my abdomen as part of that repair. Two years ago, I tore scar tissue away from the mesh while doing some intense yoga--as my surgeon said, in a battle between scar tissue and mesh, the mesh wins every time. It's never fully healed so I pay attention and modify a couple of abdominal exercises so I don't strain that spot too much. But I only need to modify a couple, generally ones that involve using both legs straight and raising and lowering them--that movement just puts too much stress on the scar tissue and I get immediate pain when I do it. But I can do pretty much all of my workouts without modification. As I said yesterday, I'm pretty fit now or so I thought.

I did the Core Cross Train DVD this morning and I'm going to feel it all day. Heck I feel it now. I had to modify quite a bit and not because of my mesh/scar tissue problem but because these exercises are hard. Whew. I can already feel my legs and it's not even 9:30 AM. Tomorrow's run should be . . . interesting.

I'll be doing this workout more, I intend to conquer it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The value of online reviews

I love customer reviews on Amazon, and I learn just as much from negative reviews as I do from the positive reviews. I use workout DVDs at home, so I rely on those customer reviews when I get new workout DVDs.

A couple of weeks ago, I realized I wanted to use my stability ball more. I have an abdominal workout DVD and one of the ab sessions is done on the ball. It’s pretty tough so I thought I’d get a lot out of other stability ball workouts. I scouted around on Amazon and found one called 10 Minute Solution: Pilates on the Ball. The reviews were mostly positive, so I turned to the negative ones to see what customers didn't like. Turns out this workout is not for beginners and you really ought to be pretty familiar with Pilates because the instructor doesn’t explain the poses, she assumes you already know them. While nice to know, those comments weren’t negatives for me. I’m pretty fit, I’ve done Pilates for almost three years and I definitely wanted a challenge. So I ordered that one and also Balance Ball: Core Cross Train.

I did the 10 Minute Solution one yesterday and wow, what a fantastic workout. Today was a run day and I sure felt my legs more than I usually do! I’ll try the Core Cross Train DVD tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The pink mouse

I really do not like the pink mouse. You might remember it's one of several toys the kitties have and is one of their favorite toys, probably because it's covered with fur. For a while, the kitties would bat that toy (and others, lets be fair) under the armoire. I solved that problem by having Kent use Velco to fasten a strip of wood between the legs that effectively blocked the opening. He painted it black so it really doesn't show.

My desk also sits quite low to the ground--since it's one of those console desks that you can hide behind doors, the desk isn't like a normal desk. So you see where this is going, right? Yes now that the armoire is blocked, the cats have turned to my desk. And the picture you see on the left happens probably a dozen times a day. Then the boys will circle my desk, roll around trying to get the mouse, cry like crazy, bat at my feet and then pull out my ruler, which is what I use to get the mouse out from under the desk.

This video only shows Wally and he's actually not being too bratty. But multiple this by 12 and ramp up the rolling, batting and meowing and you can see why I don't like that mouse.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The joys of allergies

Thankfully I don't have horrible ones like Kent--I've seen his eyes swollen almost entirely shut as he wept copiously and that's never happened to me. But around about September, I start getting the headaches, itchy eyes and full sinuses. What makes this situation a little unusual is that this season is also the start of my noisy head. After I blow my nose, my sinuses make whistly-squeaky-squealy noises you don't normally hear coming from someone's head.

At first I thought these sounds were audible only to me. Then Kent started telling me he heard them. Great. THEN I realized that the cats heard them too.

And that's what happened this morning. Wally was snoozing away on the perch, I blew my nose and the whistly sounds woke him up. In fact he glared at me. I guess he didn't appreciate being awakened that way.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy birthday, Mom!

I love this picture of my mother, taken by Kent this summer in Colorado. The colors are so vivid and she looks so relaxed and happy sitting on the hay. So here's hoping today echoes some of that for you, Mom.

Monday, September 14, 2009

At it again

A bored kitty is a destructive kitty.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's supposed to be a scratch pad

But instead he's drooled all over it and now he's eating it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another bag

I made this bag for my friend, Fiona, as a thank you for her hospitality over the last year. The Bible study I've been going to on Wednesday nights has met at her house all this time--we would eat dinner and then dig into the Bible. In addition to being just an all-around cool woman, Fiona also tries very hard to live with less waste and she has a real hatred for plastic shopping bags. So I made this bag for her. I included my hand in the picture so you can see exactly how big the bag is, because honestly it is huge.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Happy birthday, Rayna (oops a day early)

When Rayna was here with her family, I learned how much she likes pink.

We met up with Greg, Amy, Rayna and Shuler after they'd gotten settled in their hotel and were having a snack. I was wearing a lot of pink, and so was Rayna. But as she pointed out, her pink clothes were light pink and mine were dark pink. I whispered to her that I was wearing pink panties too, and she immediately wanted to know if they were light pink or dark pink (she always said both words--light pink and dark pink). As it happened, they were dark pink and so right away she wanted to see them. I told her I'd show her later but later wasn't soon enough. As we walked outside, she kept squatting down to look up my skirt and see for herself!

This is exactly the kind of stories aunts like to have about their nieces--it's funny, cute and in about 10 years it will embarrass her to death. Perfect! In the meantime, though, happy 3rd birthday Rayna, I hope it's filled with pink.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bad kitty

Kent and I were abruptly awakened last night by the sound of glass shattering, and we knew immediately it was a lot of glass. We keep a dehumidifier in our smelly closet which has really helped control the moisture and smell in that closet. But it's an irresistible place for Wally to contemplate jumping onto higher shelves in that closet.

That's exactly what he did last night, only he jumped onto an unstable perch--the box he landed on stuck out from the shelf by close to half its length. And on the box were nine glass votives, a wall clock with a glass cover and a round glass tea light holder that was about six or seven inches in diameter. Our closet floor is tiled, so nothing that fell survived except the cat.

Here's what's left of all those items.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Busy week

This week I:

Applied for a job with the civil service. Their application process is both lengthy and tiring. Coming from an industrial/organizational psychology background, I can say they do a great job isolating the skills, knowledge and abilities needed for the open positions. But the process was still tiring to me as the applicant.

Conquered invisible zippers. This is a big deal to me since I've always been frustrated by zippers and would rather make 15 buttonholes than put in one zipper. The picture shows the invisible zipper in my new skirt (it's on the ironing board). What's more, I made it with my quilting foot on my Bernina because I don't have the correct foot. I'm on the hunt for one now and then zippers will be mine forever.

Along with the zipper, I made a jacket and skirt. Well the jacket is 99% done. I need to sew on a button. I do love Vogue patterns, the attention to detail is remarkable.

Watched Kent turn into a Craig's List seller extraordinaire. In the last week or so, he's sold two rugs, a book case, our red chair and the matching ottoman. He's getting ready to list another book case on there too. We've sold these items as we've found mostly very inexpensive replacements that work better in our space.

Watched and helped Kent install new lights in our kitchen. Previous owners had installed a few can lights throughout the space but they are odd--the bulbs are set deep in the can so the light doesn't really make it out into the space the way you'd think it would. We had two cans in our kitchen, two in each of the halls and two in our living room. So in addition to being inferior can lights, there aren't very many of them. We tackled the kitchen first and found two halogen fixtures for $10 each. We are going to need to put in a dimmer switch now! I think in the winter I'll be really glad to have halogen, although they are a bit warm. We may try lower wattage halogen bulbs too.

Replaced our tall darker book case with new shorter book cases from Ikea.
Here's what it looked like before:

And here's the after picture: