Monday, January 28, 2013

The litter box hack

So we did this in Boston and it worked well. We changed a piece of furniture so that it could hold litter boxes which helped contain the mess from our litter flingers. After we flooded the first time, we had a different solution which was perfect (purrfect?).

In the apartment we rented when we first moved back to Kansas, we just put the litter boxes in a closet. It happened to be in the same room as our office and things got a bit dusty from the flingers and from scooping. So we decided to do another litter box hack and here's what we came up with.

First, we bought a Simon sideboard from Pier 1. We had already checked the interior dimensions and knew our litter boxes would fit in there, if a bit snugly.

Next, I bought a roll of black wrapping paper and lined the glass in the doors with the black side of the paper facing out into the room. Hey, no one wants to look at cats pooping, right? Last time, I used scrapbook paper but the glass on the inside of the new sideboard is much bigger than 12" x 12" so I used wrapping paper. If you look carefully at the final picture, you can see that the wrapping paper isn't really matte. But that's OK, it still gets the job done.

In the meantime, Kent took the back off the sideboard and removed the center back post. It's there for stability, but the litter boxes aren't that heavy and only one cat ever goes in there at a time even though theoretically we could have two using them at once.

Finally, you'll notice there's a bit of orange peeping out from under the sideboard. That's the temporary rug to help the flingers' litter not get tracked throughout the house. I will find one that's less visible; a job for another day.

Scooping is a matter of opening a door, pulling out the litter box, scooping and then putting it back again. A small whisk broom takes care of interior flung litter and a regular broom gets under the sideboard.

With the doors closed
One door is open

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Productive weekend

Between the two of us this weekend, we:
  • Installed a wire closet system in the master closet (second bedroom will be next)
  • Hacked a Pier 1 storage piece to house the litter boxes
  • Unpacked all but about five or six boxes (those last few are the toughest)
  • Bought and put together a guest bed and two stools for the bar
  • Made two batches of soup (spicy vegetable and chicken noodle soup)
  • Did seven loads of laundry (how do two people get so many things dirty?)
  • Hung mini-blinds in three windows
  • And got massages
We had the patio door open today since it's quite warm and we had the oven going for our dinner this evening. The cats are absolutely riveted by the dog next door and have been by the patio door since I opened it, staring at the poor little dog.

And in other news, Wally (re)discovered the dryer. What's amazing about his discovery this time is that the washer is front-loading; he had to jump from the floor to the dryer opening above the washer. As you can see from this picture, he was eyeballing the top where I have the laundry detergent stored.

Friday, January 25, 2013

It's the little things

Like having a linen closet after eight years without one. Our new one isn't huge but that's OK, we don't actually have lots of towels and sheets. But I think Kent appreciates not having to store the extra set in his nightstand.

Or all the windows and light. The cats never seem to tire of bird watching, and I never tire of watching them do it.

A two-car garage. We didn't have a garage at all in Boston and paid dearly ($400 a month!) to park our cars on pieces of dirt.

Huge recycling bins. I've said it before but Boston lags way behind the Kansas City metro area in recycling.

A full-size stacking washer and dryer. We had stackables at our last home in Kansas City but they were compact so washing queen-size bedspreads was practically impossible. I think this washer has the capacity.

Granite counters. I love them. I loved them in Kansas City before we left, I loved them in Boston and I missed them until last Saturday.

In other news, we managed to go nearly a week before Wally discovered the toilet paper on the roll in our bathroom. I'd dared to hope that he had outgrown his need to destroy toilet paper but I was wrong. Last night I heard him making a strange noise in the bathroom and with Wally, that's never a good thing. This is what I found.

He's also obsessed with getting in the lower kitchen cabinets. We'll hear those doors banging away and we know that it's just Wally being Wally.

And we still have some boxes lying around the place. Eddie and Wally are both in and out of those boxes when they're not obsessed with birds, cabinets or toilet paper. This picture is a little blurry but you can really see how he likes to hide.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Back soon, I promise

With new house pictures and updates on the move and funny cat stories on how they're adjusting. In the meantime, work is incredibly busy and I meet with the CEO on Friday . . . stay tuned.

Friday, January 18, 2013

What's in your bag?

Today some friends were posting on Facebook about what kind of bags they like. Then the conversation turned to what they carried in their bags and then the conversation became the start of a blog meme.

Before I moved to Boston, I carried only small bags. I mean they were tiny. I had room for my wallet, lipstick, a phone, sunglasses and my keys. I reasoned that if I needed to bring more things with me, I could always toss them in the car.

That all changed in Boston—we walked everywhere and with few exceptions, we needed to be able to carry whatever we bought. So I got this bag in New York the week after Fashion Week in 2008. I’m not sure you can tell the color very well—it’s actually a dark slate blue and has been a great neutral color for me.  

Bonus picture of my gloves on the left
What I’ve loved about this bag is that it has just a single strap (double straps annoy me to pieces because one is always falling off my shoulder), the strap isn’t long so the opening is hard for a thief to get into, and the opening has a strong magnet that keeps it closed. Plus the two pockets on the inside are up fairly high and hold my phone and sunglasses perfectly.

And here’s what’s in the bag:

  • The larger pink zipper bag in the back has my phone charger (my work building is apparently made of lead because no one gets a good cell signal in there and all our batteries get sucked dry) plus my Zune (MP3) charger. I don’t usually bring the Zune into work, it’s in my car, but it’s nice to have the charger in case I’ve run the battery down.
  • The small pink zipper bag has a couple of different shades of lipstick plus a nail file and cuticle scissors, a couple of hair elastics and I think two aspirin.
  • The glasses case holds my reading glasses, and I’ve also got my sunglasses.
  • My wallet is the small blue thing you see; I got it at a Coach outlet store in Colorado in 2003 and love it to pieces.
  • My phone is above the wallet.
  • I have my fast-acting inhaler (which is pretty much empty and I need to get a refill), a packet of tissues and some kind of pain reliever we picked up in Rome when my head was killing me.
  • And my keys. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Stressed kitties

In a box:


And freaked out on the bed (all three of them):

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Through someone else's eyes

I read a blog post earlier this week about a woman who ended up having serious heart issues. She’d gone to the hospital three times previously but her symptoms were atypical (which is quite typical for women and health issues—we aren’t men) so no diagnosis was made. Fortunately the fourth trip resulted in her getting the treatment she needed.

But that’s not what I’m writing about, although the way women’s health issues manifest themselves is worth writing about – just not today. In the "gosh this is a small world" moment, I read a comment on that post from my mother. She posted something about Dad having been taught in medical school that patients will tell their doctors what's wrong, if only the doctors will listen. 

This particular blog writer lives in Cape, which is where my parents lived for 18 years. She'd been a high school teacher, which is how I knew of her. I didn't know she knew my dad or that he'd been her doctor before my folks moved to Idaho over 20 years ago. She replied to my mother's comment: 
I think that your retired physician husband was actually my endocrinologist for a time before you moved out west. I was so upset when you moved out of state.
I have to say, though, that he actually sought ME out before I was his patient. It was the night of Christmas Ball, and he was there for coronation ceremonies because his daughter* was in the court. I was her teacher. When your husband called me aside, I assumed that he wanted to discuss something about his daughter. I thought his daughter was delightful, and I was genuinely concerned that something might be wrong with her.
He started by first saying, "Don't tell me who your doctor is, but are you under a doctor's care?" For a split second, I thought that maybe he was inferring that I needed psychiatric help! He went on to tell me that my eyes were too dilated and that he could see that my thyroid was enlarged, and then asked if I was being treated for my condition. I told him that my doctor had prescribed liquid iodine. "Well, that's not enough," he said, assuredly.
He then advised me to go back to my doctor and demand a T3, T4, TSH, and iodine uptake test. I was so impressed that he cared for someone who was not even his patient, and that he took the risk to go out of his way to say something! Eventually, I became his patient, and then I went through separation anxiety when he moved. Just in case we are talking about the same doctor, please thank him. I have never forgotten his caring attitude.
I asked her if she minded if I quoted her here. She said not all. "Your Dad went out of his way to help me, and I am proud to be quoted as having said that." 

See, I know my dad’s a neat man. But to me, he’s Dad so I can still hear the dad who would tell me to get up, or eat my broccoli, or help with chores or well, you get the idea. Just a dad being Dad. This is a different side to him, one I wouldn’t have seen growing up and it’s really cool. 

*She's talking about my sister, Amy. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A reluctant convert

Do you use wish lists for your gift shopping? I've never really liked doing that, not even when Kent and I got married.

In fact, he had to talk me into us creating wedding registries (I refuse to call them bridal registries since we both got married). He pointed out that people would probably want to buy us gifts and they'd probably prefer to get us things we actually wanted. So I went along with it and we created one at William-Sonoma and one at Pier One. Neither were large or contained extravagant gifts but to my shock, everything on both lists was bought. Everything.

This year, I was behind in Christmas shopping and I resorted to using Amazon wish lists for folks on our gift list. I felt like I was cheating, but the recipients sure seemed to like their gifts. Well they did pick them out.

What do you think? Are wish lists good? Bad? Am I silly to feel like I ought to know what someone wants if in fact I'm close enough to them to want to buy them gifts?

Yes, that picture is a wish list of mine. It's for our new little yellow house if you must know and mostly it's so we remember what we want to get in the rush to get moved in. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The S word

Pretty sure my sister Amy will understand this post.

Growing up, our folks had pretty clear standards on what constituted being sick (and therefore being able to stay home) and what not feeling well meant. So if one of us kids were running a fever over 100F, or puking or had diarrhea, well then we were sick and could stay home. Simply not feeling 100% didn’t get us anything except a trip to school.

I've kept those same standards as an adult. I go to work if I just feel blah and I stay home when I'm sick and I keep my nasty germs away from everyone else. I only wish all the folks I work with would do the same thing but apparently some are indispensable and come to work no matter what.

I’m guessing that’s what happened to me. Someone just had to come in while sick and pass a gastro virus to me. 

I’m here to tell you that I’m sick. I’ve got the requisite fever, and I will not need to participate in a lower bowel cleanse to start the New Year (if you get my meaning). And I’m at home, where I belong. A very kind coworker is dropping off my laptop tonight on his way home (he lives in the same apartment complex we do) so that just in case I can sit upright tomorrow, I can get some work done.

Do you go to work when you’re sick? I mean really sick, not just feeling poorly? If so, shame on you!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Don't look back

Borrowed this meme from Harriet; you can read her take on it here.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
I lined a wool skirt I sewed. That was ground-breaking for me, although certainly not earth-shattering to anyone else.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Not really a resolutions person so this question didn’t/doesn’t really apply.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes – our younger son and daughter-in-law welcomed their second son, third child in June this year. We’d gotten to go to the ultrasound where his gender was revealed and were pretty excited about getting to meet him.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
A woman I knew in high school died after a very lengthy struggle with cancer. I so admired Rona for making the choices that she did – she kept on with treatment, knowing that at best it would only prolong her life. She chose that route because she still had teen-aged sons at home. I’m not sure I could have done what she did. Her Facebook account hasn’t been shut down – it was her birthday recently and seeing the reminder made me sad. 
5. What countries did you visit?
Aside from several trips back and forth to Boston to tend to our condo that was for sale, we also went to Italy, Jamaica and England. Kent and I are now officially considered oddities here in Kansas. We’re the ones who fly off to Europe for a long weekend and we’ll do it again next year, too.
6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
I’d love to feel as though I have enough time to do everything my job entails. This is the first time in my life where I just don’t know that I will ever catch up and stay caught up.
7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
  • Last week of Jan/first week of February: we were in Jamaica when I got an email from my best friend who told me my next job had been posted and I'd better apply for it.
  • Late April: the job was finally offered with a start date of May 14 . . . but the background check and drug screens weren’t completed for another full week.    
  • May 1: found an apartment online, signed the lease with great trepidation (hadn’t yet gotten word about the background check and drug screen).
  • May 3 in the afternoon: got the OK on the background check and drug screen. I started packing boxes the next morning. 
  • May 9: we loaded up the truck and my car and drove two 12-hour days to Kansas City, getting there late on May 11.
  • May 12: Movers unpacked our truck and we started unpacking boxes.
  • May 14: First day at the new job. 
  • June 15: Boston place went on the market the nano-second arbitration was completed on that blasted condo lawsuit.
  • September 7: closed on the sale of our condo!
  • November 24: heard from another trustee at the Boston condo that all the same BS has started up again and they are back in arbitration. We are so very happy to be done with all of that drama.
  • Mid-November: bought a house in Kansas and we’ll move in there January 15.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a cross country moved accomplished in five days. I knew I was good at organizing and moving but damn.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Boston wasn’t much of a success for me in terms of my career. I feel a little like I ran away.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Only my stupid lungs deciding that they are both delicate and diva-esque and do not want any particulate matter in them at all. I ended up having two pretty bad acute flare ups in 2012. It’s still keeping me from running which reeks.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Kent and I bought a serger, a huge upgrade over the one I’d bought previously. Although we haven’t yet had time to really get in there and use it, we are both looking forward to doing so in the new house.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? 
I remain so impressed with how both my sons are as husbands. It’s been an unexpected bonus of being a parent—I don’t know why I didn’t anticipate this part of parenting but I didn’t and I’m enjoying it.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Oh definitely mine. I remain a very impatient woman and will be struggling with that flaw for the rest of my life, I fear.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Moving and travel.
15. What did you get really excited about?
Coming back to Kansas City. I’m still awfully nomadic and I’m not sure I’ll ever truly settle down but it feels good to be here.
16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Ha – Call Me Maybe. What a catchy song!
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

  • Happier or sadder? Happier – I’m employed and so is Kent. That’s just full of win.
  • Thinner or fatter? Fatter; see above re my stupid lungs. I’m determined to be running again come warmer weather though. 
  • Richer or poorer? Richer and not just in money.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Relaxing when I’m home with Kent. He says (and he’s right) that I pretty much have to leave town to relax. I don’t want to live that way.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Getting all worked up about the Ferals, the Nastys and the condo drama.
20. How did you spend Christmas? 
For the actual day, we were at home. We spent this last weekend in Tusla with Kent’s mother.
21. Did you fall in love in 2012? I’m sure this will sound corny but I cannot believe how lucky I am to be married to Kent. So yes, in a way, I keep falling in love with him all the time.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
I don’t really watch TV. We watched some movies on DVD, rewatched SGT: 1 and Stargate Atlantis but other than that, I’ve got nothing.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
24. What was the best book you read?
Zone One by Colson Whitehead was quite good. Don’t be fooled by the zombie genre because it’s not at all typical for that kind of literature. In fact, it wasn’t zombie enough for my younger son.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Straight No Chaser caught my ear this holiday season, specifically their live version of The 12 Days of Christmas.
26. What did you want and get?
A job. Once the job was clearly not in Boston, I wanted to sell the condo without losing our shirts.
27. What did you want and not get?
Not a thing. I am very grateful.
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Well I’d have to watch films to have a favorite.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 
Spent it in Jamaica again. I highly recommend going someplace warm if you live in a cold climate and have a birthday in February. I don’t know if we’ll be going there this year, mostly because we will have just moved into our new place.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Oh maybe if the job offer had come months earlier? Or if I hadn’t had to stop running due to no oxygen? Otherwise, I can’t think of anything.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Fewer separates of high quality and in colors/patterns that all go together and aren’t black.
32. What kept you sane?
Well running would have helped keep me more sane.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
They all seem pretty silly.
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The TSA nonsense.
35. Who did you miss?
Once we left Boston, I really missed those friends.
36. Who was the best new person you met?
I’ve met a lot of very interesting people through work but honestly we’re still trying to establish good friendship here with people who are not an hour’s drive away.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
I’ve always known that you usually have to ask for what you want. This year I started doing it.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Well I could go with the obvious “Kansas City, Kansas City here I come.” Or “Ch-ch-changes.” But I think I'll go with something from The Wizard of Oz:
You're out of the woods, You're out of the dark, You're out of the night.
Step into the sun, Step into the light.
Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place
On the Face of the Earth or the sky.
Hold onto your breath, Hold onto your heart, Hold onto your hope.
March up to the gate and bid it open.