Thursday, March 29, 2012

A pet peeve

So-and-so gifted me blah blah blah.

Um no. No no, that's not what happened. You either received a gift from so-and so, OR so-and-so gave you something.

Please, folks, for the love of God quit turning perfectly good nouns into verbs.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Reconstruction junction

Maybe the third time is a charm because we are getting to be quite good at this whole reconstruction thing. Everything starts on Monday, and while that’s almost a week away, I have a lot to do to get ready.

First up, the cats have to be boarded. They’re going to hate being at the vet’s, I know, and our wallets will hate it too. It’s $25 a cat a night and they’ll be there four nights. So I’m already waving bye-bye to $300 plus tax.

Next, I can’t stay in the apartment while the reconstruction is going on. I don’t yet have the results of the allergy tests my doctor ordered but it’s safe to say that even if I’m allergic to nothing, all that dust and debris from dry walls and floors won’t help my lungs any. My peak flow readings have improved over the last two months, and I am a fan of that trend continuing. So I need to leave. The problem is figuring out where to go on such short notice. I’ve recently inflicted myself on visited two sets of family and since then they’ve also had a lot of out-of-town company. So they are both out as options. I thought about going to England to see my sister but the tickets are over $1200. Yeah, that’s a budget buster. No decision on where to go yet but I do need to figure that one out.

Edited to add that I'm going to Denver. My other sister very kindly invited me out and I haven't seen her in about 18 months. It will be great to see her and her family again.

Kent won’t be able to eat in the apartment for at least the first couple of days because that’s when the drywall is getting replaced. Bostonian will tape up the openings to the unaffected areas of the house and move our belongings into those tiny places. There’s just no way Kent can cook when the house is in that condition. Plus I think he’d mostly be eating drywall dust. So restaurants it is.

He’s also got to recaulk our tub while I’m gone. The caulk failed and our first repair also failed. We think it’s because we used acrylic caulk instead of silicone caulk and also we probably didn’t let it cure long enough. So next week is the week for that.

And he’ll be cleaning out the Room of Doom ™ where our hot water heater is. That room most definitely has mold in it and also has some things stored in there which have succumbed to the mold. So out they all go while I am safely out of the house. 

As for those who have been following along with our story since January, the neighbor whose pipe leaked didn't have home owner's insurance. We had to file on our own personal property insurance so that the deductible for the condo association's master policy is covered. It's not fair, but it does let us get things repaired. At this point, repairs are more important to us than being right.

Monday, March 26, 2012


I read an organizational tip on a blog I stumbled across and have since forgotten where—basically the post talked about sorting through the household chores you want to get done each week and figuring out when to do them so you don’t have one day full of nothing but chore misery.

That sounded good to me because I’d been feeling the pain of laundry day otherwise known as the day that never ends. Our washer and dryer are charitably called compact. That means we do six to seven loads each week. It’s mostly our washer. I can wash a set of sheets or our towels or a blanket but I can’t combine any of that unless you’re talking about adding say a wash cloth to the sheets. The washer just isn’t big enough.

So I came up with my own chore list. Much like my weekly menu lists*, this list isn’t set in stone. It’s mostly a reminder that hey! I need to get these things done each week so Friday or Saturday isn’t packed full of housework drudgery. That means I may well do two loads of laundry on any given day, but I won't wait to do all six or seven loads in one day.

Here’s my list:

*I plan out our menus each week. Those meals will get made; they just may not get made on the days they’re listed. 

Edited to add That Tuesday's chore (wash lights) refers to laundry, not light fixtures. I'm not so obsessed that I'd wash light fixtures every week.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Could be a sign

Chloe doesn't kitty pile with the other two cats. They've tried their entire lives but she is not interested. Sometimes she'll be so soundly asleep that she won't realize Wally has edged up next to her. As soon as she wakes up and notices that another cat is touching her precious fur, she grumps at the offending cat and scoots out of there.

Yesterday she woke up to find Wally sharing the brown cushion with her and he was on her sacred bear. Yet she stayed there for about five minutes. That's a long time for a cat who has established clear no-touching boundaries.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Some of what I've made

In this picture, you can see the large bag I made for Jen--it's the same pattern I used for my pink bag only here I've used heavier material which will make for a sturdier bag. You can't see the lining, but it's a laminated version of the monkey material you see on the rest of the projects.

I didn't want to use a print for kids on the outside of the bag because after all, Jen is an adult. But she's also expecting her third child, so I tried to make this bag useful for carrying around things for her children. I put pleats on the bottom of the large interior pocket and elastic on the top so she can put sippy cups in there. I made it big enough for two cups, I think. The laminated material can be wiped off if/when things get messy in the bag,

I also made a baby blanket, three bibs, three spit cloths and a hooter hider for nursing.

And here's a picture of the two throw pillows I made for us. As you can see, Eddie approves. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Where the wild things are

This morning, I tried to collect some of the finished projects to box up and send to their recipient. I'd draped a jacket of mine over the projects to keep curious cats out of things. Only that strategy didn't entirely work since I found two cats curled up on the jacket.

I love how Eddie watched me very carefully while Wally studiously ignored me.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A mash up

No posting since Thursday because I've been working on a huge stack of sewing projects:

Nice floors, huh.
That mess is actually about 10 projects all stacked on each other. To date, I've finished five of them so I'm about halfway through.The cats, predictably, are entranced by the mess so at the end of the day, I have to carefully drape a blanket over everything so they don't get into things they shouldn't.

And here are two random, recent pictures of the greys. Chloe likes to sit on my lap staring at the computer and I managed to get a picture of her online obsession.


Eddie loves it when we watch TV and will squeeze his girth into the smallest place possible, almost always on me, and then fall asleep with a paw draped to indicate his ownership.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

You're the one

My friend Jeanne sent me this inflatable rubber ducky.We've got a whole meme going about punching ducks and she pointed out that it's hard to punch a duck if you don't have one.

I wondered what the cats would think about it. Since Wally eats plastic, I thought there was a chance he'd just eat it, especially if I didn't blow it up. So I inflated it. Here's how they reacted--watch for Eddie's tail whip at the end:

Last night I left it on that chair while we watched some TV and it really bothered Eddie. So I moved it to the ottoman next to the chair and he was happier. Wally continues to stay away, and Chloe couldn't care less.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Another birthday!

March was a busy month for me. Both of my children were born in March and I always though that was the perfect month for having a baby. It's not winter any more, not really, but it's not so glorious outside that staying inside with a newborn is torture.

Today is Ben's birthday. We don't have a lot of baby pictures for Ben. That's partly due to the second child syndrome but also due to the film developers losing two rolls of film from Ben's first two weeks of life. Remember those days when you had to get your film actually developed?

But I do have this picture. Now I will say that while Ben rapidly turned into a really cute baby, he wasn't all that pleasing to behold at first. He was three to four weeks early and looked a little bit like a deflated Jabba the Hutt (sorry, Ben, it's true). He's about two days old in this picture and the markings you see on his face weren't actually there. This is a photograph of a projected slide and the slide had gotten damaged. Otherwise, yes, this is how he looked then.

And here's what he looks like today:

Happy birthday, Ben!

Monday, March 12, 2012

There’s no place like home?

We had some friends (husband and wife) over Saturday night and at one point the conversation turned to the Midwest. Seems he feels obligated to go to Oklahoma to visit his mother, with whom he isn’t particularly close, and to bring his wife since they’ve never met. But he doesn’t want to go to Oklahoma and thinks they’ll have a rotten time because it’s Oklahoma.

I suspect his reluctance stems more from the less than stellar relationship with his mother. But he’s chosen to focus his distaste on Oklahoma. Among other issues, he complained about all the narrow-minded and bigoted viewpoints he thinks they’ll run into when/if they go. I think he thinks people just start out casual, social conversations with huge political stink bombs and let things devolve from there. I found it so strange. I think reluctance to visit—not move to, but just visit—a particular location is really weird and pretty narrow-minded.

One of the best things about my last job was the traveling I did to parts of the U.S. that I would normally never think about visiting. I went to Sheffield, Texas*, Tomah, Wisconsin, and Guernsey, Wyoming along with other places you might have actually heard of. And while I wouldn’t want to move to any of those three towns, I saw some incredible scenery and met some really nice people. I know myself well enough to know that I enjoy living in a more urban environment than those towns offer. I’m still glad I got to see them, and if I had a chance to visit other, similar places, you’d better believe I’d go.

*Sheffield is so small, it doesn't even have a Chamber of Commerce web site!

Friday, March 9, 2012


So if one more person tells me my resume is “very impressive” I will probably pitch a fit. Seriously. That’s like a woman telling a man who’s interested in her romantically that he’s a great friend. 

Kiss of death, people, kiss of death.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Milk carton rings

Wally loves it that I'm eating cereal in the mornings again because that means I'm buying milk. And that means he gets new milk carton rings on a regular basis. He carries them around the apartment and will meow at us to play fetch with him.

This morning, he had a blast batting the current one into boxes, but of course that stopped when I got the camera out.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What's in that shoe?

Saturday night, our friends Fiona and David came over for dinner. At their house, everyone takes off their shoes at the door and even though we tell them they don’t need to do that at our place, they do anyway. That night, I mentioned that given the condition of the floors (aka bare crumbly concrete) they might want to reconsider, but they were both more comfy wandering around in their socks.

After dinner, we all noticed that Wally and Eddie were inordinately interested in David’s shoes. By inordinately interested, I mean that both of them took turns shoving their little heads as far in his shoes as possible and using their front paws to pull themselves in even further. I have no idea what they smelled—David seems like a perfectly ordinary man and I can’t imagine he sprinkles cat nip in his boots. But the boys could not pull themselves away from his shoes.

Of course, every time we tried to get a photo or a video, they both immediately stopped what they were doing and walked away. So this picture is all I’ve got. Just imagine, though, two cats absolutely obsessing on those shoes as though they were precious treasures.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Of hand grenades

TLDR: I’m tired of all the crap.

Years ago when my older son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, another mother who went to our church was just absolutely devastated by the situation. She also had two sons and one of them had had serious health issues. For whatever reason, she completely identified with what we were going through. Maybe our situation allowed her to feel things she hadn’t let herself feel with her own child’s problems, I don’t really know. I do remember being surprised by her reaction.

Similarly, a few years ago, a co-worker lost his toddler daughter; she died in a freak accident in her babysitter’s home. That death just rippled through our workplace. For me, I immediately relieved Jordan’s fall from our babysitter’s window, his skull fracture and all the terror I felt then. At least two friends of mine took voluntary separation packages from our employer to stay home with their children because they couldn’t contemplate the possibility their children might also have accidents like that.

And here’s the point of today’s blog. On Friday, a friend—I’ll call her by her initials—was laid off. LAU and I worked together at Sprint. We share the same birthday and when we worked together, we were both finishing our bachelor’s degrees while still working full time. She was married and had two daughters and a son; her son was born prematurely, just as my younger son was, although hers was born much early. I don’t know that he was expected to live, but he did pull through.

Then one of her daughters developed cancer. I think she was four? I’m not sure. She underwent a lot of chemo and whatever else she needed and seemed OK for a bit. But the cancer returned and the daughter died. As can often happen, LAU’s marriage didn’t survive the death of her child.

LAU had done so well and stayed almost entirely off the bitter divorce bus even though she was truly mistreated by her ex. She’d been working two jobs to keep her house and seemed to have really turned the corner in just about every way. Now this.

Her news has devastated me. I am sitting here in Boston wanting to lash out at someone, anyone, on her behalf. My reaction is out of proportion and I imagine she would be as surprised by it as I was by my friend at church all those years ago.

But I’ve had enough. Enough bad news, enough with the economy, family illnesses, my own health situation, yet another round of water damage and destruction and more reconstruction and mess and chaos, enough joblessness, just enough, enough, enough.

Kent and I were talking the other night. We’ve definitely lived the “in bad times” part of our marriage vows. We’d really like a chance to live the “in good times” too. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

A birthday

Today is my older son's birthday.

He's five days old in this picture, and we had just been released from the hospital earlier that day.

When Jordan's dad and I looked at all the newborns in the nursery, we commented on how tiny the other babies' eyes were and how they had no eye lashes. Well compared to Jordan, their eyes were tiny and hairless but it didn't take long for us to realize that Jordan was the one who was different.

Here he is today:

Happy birthday, son!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Hanging in here

I’m still really tired here in Boston, but from everything I’ve read that’s part of having this asthma flare up. In fact, I think a lot of what I’d been attributing to lack of sleep ie constantly tired and just having no energy is due to the asthma. It’s been eye-opening to realize that all three times I’ve had severe coughing and exhaustion like this have each occurred after serious water damage to our apartment.

We had one documented case of mold—last May when our floors were being replaced for the second time, the reconstruction company found it, immediately left (Kent said it was like a fire drill) and sent in a mold remediation team. I’m pretty sure we had it after the flood in 2009 and of course the  damn hatch that leads into the mold room got left open in January for a couple of weeks. After the first flood, I had a very bad time with coughing in January 2010, so much so that I pulled muscles in my chest (but thought it must be a cold, everyone gets colds only um no wait, I actually don’t get colds). Last May/June I was in bad shape and got in to see the nurse practitioner for drugs so I could fly on my next business trip without getting thrown off the plane for coughing my lungs out. And of course, I had all those problems last month.

And on a very positive note, the condominium association’s master insurance policy has already approved the claim and cut the check. That means we can get moving with actual repairs, although I’ll need to figure out where to go during that time. I’ve been here during reconstruction before and the amount of debris in the air is truly mind- and lung-boggling. Still, this is real progress. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March is a worthless month

Dedicated to Jeanne, who hates February more than anyone I know.

I don’t mind February. It’s short month, even in leap year. Plus it’s got my birthday, a silly holiday (Groundhog’s Day), a federal holiday (Presidents’ Day) and a sappy commercial holiday (Valentine’s Day). February makes no promises about warmer weather, or sunnier days, you’ll hear no talk of plants starting to grow, or at least not usually. February deals you a straight hand—it’s winter, you’ll get snow or sleet or ice, or maybe cold, dreary rain. You won’t get false promises about spring coming in, or warmer weather or even very many sunny days. February plays it straight.

March is a different story. March is supposed to roar in like a lion and go out like a lamb thus leading to lovelier spring weather. Nonsense. What we get is more cold, dreary rainy weather and maybe snow too. Tiny little plants that may have finally poked through the ground run a real risk of getting blasted by frost here in New England or covered by a blanket of snow. And we have to put up with this month for thirty-one days. Then it’s April, where we’ll get slightly less cold dreary weather for another 30 days. Spring doesn’t show up around here until May, if we’re lucky.

Yes, yes, both my children were born in March and those are very good events to celebrate. They do help ease the pain (and honestly when they were born, I was too distracted by being a new mother to feel the full misery of March), but now that they are grown, it’s not like I can even really throw them a fun birthday party or anything. Nope, I get to suffer through the endless dreary month of March with no distractions. And don’t offer up St. Patrick’s Day either. That’s no holiday, it’s just an excuse for people to drink to numb the pain of this month.

It's raining today (of course), although the rain is supposed to turn to snow by 10 AM and we may get between one and four inches. Whatever, it's March and the weather is just going to stink. I'll be over sitting on the couch with a blanket and a book. Let me know when it's nice outside. 

(Interesting useless bit of knowledge I found while tracking down the poem linked above: lamb used to be called spring lamb because you could only get it in the spring.)