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Archive for November, 2005

(side note: yes, i’ve been quiet here. doesn’t mean it’s been quiet in my head or my life, but sitting down to write it out seems to have been beyond me lately.)

mmmm… went to a library meeting this morning, and Our Esteemed Chairwoman treated everyone to breakfast. i got a chocolate biscotti and a gingerbread latté, which may have been a tactical error, altho it was mighty tasty.

see, coffee and my stomach have not agreed for ages (ref: IBS). add to that, the last few days have been gut wrenchingly stressful… perhaps i should have gone for mint tea.

on the other hand, the aroma was enticing, and the taste was fantastic.

on the other other hand, ordering a large was certainly a mistake. about halfway thru the 28 ounce mug, i started to get a bit hypercaffeinated queasy. and i’m fairly certain i lost a few filters between brain and mouth.

on the fourth hand, the biscotti was wonderful. πŸ™‚

*sigh* speaking of food, i’m still thinking about Thanksgiving.

the actual day was an unmitigated disaster. i woke up a little late, was ready in some semblance of time, tried to motivate hubby to be ready, and found myself sitting behind the wheel of the car, an hour after we should have left, watching him check the mail and fish things out of his car in preparation for the drive. we were a full hour and a half late to my parents.

to his credit, my dad (who did the cooking and chauffeuring for my gram) didn’t throttle me. we were miserably late, which i see as an affront to their hospitality, and hurtful to my gram, who only has so much time in a day to visit. as it turned out, dinner worked out to be pretty nice. but walking in, apologizing to everyone, hugging gram, and trying not to snivel all over the place, then fishing out the calming drugs… bleach. (i also think i may have been overly forward in talking with mum after talking the calming drugs, but that remains to be seen.)

yech.

then there was Turkey Day #2. Little Man was with us for this one, and i had all day to cook at home. we also had a friend of hubby’s over, someone who deeply appreciates home cooking, and whom LM loves visting. (best comment: ‘oh, man… a meal that doesn’t involve paper bags and speakers!’) so. i had Happy Cooking Time, hubby had a friend over, LM got to perform an entire magic show for an appreciative audience as well as show off all the hamsters, and our guest was pleased as punch. that, to my mind, was a great day.

and while i’m on a food binge, so to speak, we recently went to Frank Guiffrida’s Hilltop Steakhouse. now, i’ve lived here for years. but for much of the time, i was a vegetarian, so the Hilltop wasn’t much of an option. sure, i’d heard about how good the steaks were. and every so often, i was amused by stories of people stealing the cows from out front. (note: not real cows.)

the triggering event was this: we got tenants that we like. and they moved in. and now we have a Small Amount of Income. so hubby and i decided to splurge a bit, with money we didn’t really have, but it still seemed like the right thing to do to celebrate.

oh. mi. lord. what a huge ol’ slice of 1972 that place is! drive up Route 1 in Saugus, turn around and pull into the parking lot (past the huge plastic cattle), and walk into an utterly, fantastically, wonderfully time-bound place.

the aroma of cigarettes still lingers. (as an ex-smoker, this isn’t a selling point, but certainly emphasizes the ‘time out of place’ atmosphere.) the seats are naugahyde. (do you know how many naugas died for this? sez my dad…) the panelling is… well, panelling. and the waitresses seem to have been working there for generations.

you don’t have to wear a sports coat, but it wouldn’t hurt. and the sound track? ay yi yi.

we had a complete and utter throw-back, indulgence dinner. rolls with real butter. chopped salad with thick, rich dressing. French onion soup! i don’t think i’ve ever had it before (see above, vegetarianism), and as an introduction, it couldn’t have been better – thick, rich, beefy, oniony, crunchy croutons, stringy, melty cheese… ummmm. i had a small steak, rare, with a baked potato (sour cream, of course, and scallions) on the side. hubby had a larger steak, with fries. and if we thought we could have had dessert without imploding, we would have. πŸ™‚

*sigh* given my battle with the waistline, food isn’t always my best friend. but sometimes, a good dinner like that is just what the doctor ordered.

remind me to tell you about the Chinese food escapade in the middle of the whiteout snowstorm this past weekend. πŸ˜‰

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meh.

so, here’s the current state of my (our) upstairs bathroom:

did i mention that The Plumber was one of the service people i made intimate aquaintance with lately? fortunately, hubby is comforatble doing drywall (wetwall?), and i picked up all the supplies he needs for the project. did i tell you the story of trying to fit a 4×8 sheet of Duraboard into my 5 foot wide car?

*sigh* gah. migraine yesterday, feeling like a crappy parent to Little Man because of that. haven’t gotten as much done around the house as i’d like to have gotten done. and the amount of detritus that accumulates in this house… ohmigod.

on the upside: four interviews in the last week, and another coming up this week. stepping past/thru the fear of interviewing is huge. and the more times i go out to interview, the better the odds of landing a job.

scored a free treadmill today. there’s a whole story behind that, but for now: free exercise equipment!

in revisiting past entries about this time of year, i’m reminded that the short daylight hours and cold weather bring on the roaring seasonal disaffection. i feel fortunate to have reached the usual point a month later than usual, and to have an awareness of what’s happening. doesn’t make it any prettier, but does make it easier to tag, label, and deal with.

apologies for the disjointed nature of the entry… late, tired, sad, and plumb worn out.

thankfully, tomorrow is a day to sleep in a bit, and we’ll be going to see our therapist, who is a balm to many wounds.

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(and semi, because heaven forfend y’all have to listen to the entire tape that plays in my head…)

i’m listening to Honey Girl (dwarf hammie) spin away on her ferris wheel, and think that i’m very grateful my hamsters are more compulsive than me. it’s only in measuring ourselves against others (people, places, things, animals, events) that we get a sense of our selves some days, i think.

and the hamsters… ye gods and little fishes. i lost james, and then we had to have the pest control people in to deal with the field mice. bold as brass, those mice! came out, sat down, did all but pull up a seat and get a drink. kills me that we had to put down poison, but as a homeowner, and looking at the damage to the wires et al… still makes me sad. don’t even ask me about the afternoon i found a small, dried husk of a mouse in my back hall.

anyway, james escaped, and i did everything i could to replace her before Little Man got home, because i couldn’t stand to tell him. but i couldn’t fix the problem, and i had to tell him, and it sucked. really, how much worse does it get than breaking your kid’s heart? after he cried a bit, LM asked if he could get a new hammie, and i’d already cleaned the cage in anticipation of just such a request. we went, and he picked out a dwarf hammie – exceptionally cute, and not likely to escape, as every container we have is bigger than her. (and i only feel a little guilty about laughing when the hammies pelt themselves against the side of the bin, trying to escape – they don’t get hurt, they don’t escape, and it’s a hoot to watch their efforts.)

and i’m not above bribery. LM not only got a new hammie (who, at this writing, is still here, and happy, and healthy), but two Siamese fighting fish.

of course, there’s a story there, as well.

i took a short cut. **bells and whistles go off** i thought that using the water treatment chemicals would make tap water safe – as it says on the side of the bottle of chemicals. but apparently, this is just a pretty story. and if you’ve seen the reconstruction of the water system in our town over the last year (revamping 100+ year old pipes, some of which are *wooden*), you would know exactly how foolish my trust in the label was.

as if it wasn’t bad enough that i contributed to losing two of his hamsters, i managed to off 4 of his fish. (don’t even ask for the gory details. and no, i don’t have pictures.) the first, we dealt with together. the second, i hid. the next two, not only did i hide, but i also hid all the evidence, went out, completely replaced the tank/gravel/plants and fish, and prayed that it would all look the same to LM. as of tonight, when he was feeding them, it seems to have worked.

oh, the lies we weave to protect our kids… did i tell you about the Tooth Fairy escapade?

random fact: bowling was invented, as far as we know, in Egypt, several thousand years ago. and why do i know this? because of my penchant for reference materials, and my insatiable curiousity. so, i was beta testing a game last week. and it had an Egyptian theme. and the closing sound effect for a round was a strike (amazing how distinctive a bowling strike sound is). and i thought, whaaaa? so. off i went, to research bowling. come to find out, the first known extant bowling set/lane/what have you was found in Egypt on an excavation. whaddya know? πŸ˜‰

yeargh… sooo cold tonight! and what is up with the weather? all i want are a few dry, warmish days in a row, so i can finish cleaning up the leaves.

oh! speaking of cleaning… we had another round with the boiler/heater. classic case of too many cooks… we were all (four of us) messing around with the boiler when each of us was in the basement. but apparently, none of us actually knew what we were doing, fiddling with various knobs. so… the radiator system was flooded, the boiler was at a standstill, and our tenants had no heat last week. gaaaaahhh!

*sigh* hubby dealt with it all the next day, and our tenants were great. our heater guy talked hubby thru it all on the phone…. and hubby dumped 100 or so gallons of steaming, nastygrass water on the cellar floor. thank heavens for the sump pumps (yes, that’s plural), the french drain, and the push broom.

feh. at least i made a dent in the compost heap (read: leaves let to sit too long in the driveway) last weekend.

god, i hate interviewing. i’ve had vivid dreams, bordering on nightmares, about this. (also dreams/nightmares about several other subjects. the odd thing is, hubby often gets up before me, and starts watching videos or DVDs about magic, since that’s his profession, so i’ll be sleeping and dreaming about, say, a house, where i may be a tenant, or looking with friends, or the landlord, and renovating, or moving in… and all of a sudden, i’m figuring out how to slice a card in half. verrrry surreal.)

but here’s the thing: i’m interviewing. and that’s a huge step forward.

and for every step forward, there are two steps back. the Holiday Season is coming up, and i’m feeling less than great about keeping up with family. yeah, i could say that i’ve had my head firmly up my ass for the last year. but that would just be a cop out. it really doesn’t take that much to keep up with family. (Honey Girl is running obsessive rounds in her cage.) *deep breath* but. and yet. still. why is it that i feel the need to put a qualifying statement in here?

because i feel badly. i feel badly that i’ve ever given less than my best to the people i love. i love them, care about them, want to know how they’re doing, want to support them, want to hang out and talk about where we all are…

And. Then Life Happens.

and i get sidetracked. please don’t think that i’m saying Life is an excuse. it isn’t. everyone i love is dealing with so much more than i am, and they’re still reaching out.

i guess what i’m trying to deal with is finding out how to balance all the details, and Be A Grownup, and keep in touch, and … and. And. oh, me oh my. the number of times i’ve wanted to call my parents, and apologize for testing/stressing them unintentionally, and thank them in spades for their patience, and just say ‘now i know’ has gone off the Richter scale lately. that, and trying to figure out budgeting, and owning a home, and finding a job…

yewfah.

*sigh* and hubby put up a few shelves in the back hall the other day, to create a cold pantry. even after i sorted everything out, filled the shelves and cleaned the kitchen? still looks like crap. note: i wanted to create a pantry because i’ve been pitching packages on top of cupboards for a while, and it looks way messy. i suppose there was a change, but i just couldn’t see it.

feh.

mewfah.

dang, but i hate being stressed out.

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ye gods and tiny fishes, but what a pain in the ass that is! it’s bad enough peeling one onion. peeling 50 or 60 teensy weensy ones? bleargh. i did it once, thinking it would be easy, and knowing that hubby would love it. never, never again. frozen foods exist for a reason. πŸ™‚

minor detail, tho, in the big scheme of things. in the last week, there’s been progress, derailment, happy moments, much pride in LM’s reading progress, frustration with the raking (and curse the oak tree across the street, which rocks in the spring, but rots this time of year), mice, hamsters, extra credit, interviews, bookings… and a sense of settling/progress, at least for me.

also, strat came thru his surgery with flying colors. he was verrrry loopy for the first day (and i’m glad i warned hubby, because he hadn’t seen anything like that before with his pets), but got increasingly feisty, and is back to eating anything and everything. i just need to remember not to feed him right after dosing him. you so very much don’t want to know how much strat can projectile vomit. nor do i, but i don’t have a choice.

more details to follow… just didn’t want too much radio silence. πŸ™‚

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ai yai yai. all that and a bag of chips.

god dayum, it’s been a tough couple of weeks! lots of good, but also much unsettled, and downright catastrophes.

*exceptionally deep breath*

life is good. life is good. life is good.

(right now, i’m chanelling Nina Simone, courtesy of a kickass CD my sis made for me.

Oooo, child, things are gonna get easier…
Oooo, child, things’ll get brighter…
Oooo, child, things are gonna get easier…
Oooo, child, things’ll get brighter…
Someday, we’ll get it together and we’ll get it undone;
Someday, when the world is much brighter.
Someday, we’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun –
Someday, when the world is much lighter!
)

it’s been really hard to see how good things are these days. and i could spend volumes explaining the last few weeks, but that’s only any good for me, beating myself over the head for several mistakes.

here’s the short (!) version:

V3r!z@n call a few weeks back, which resulted in a full day for a Vtech. ultimately, we got our phone jacks and the lines repaired, and are happy with the service. but… yewfah.

and then our tenants moved in. tenants! whee! yee hah! i love them – they are great, and friendly, and love the place, and want to make it their own, and have the Best Dog Ever. all good – we like them, they like us, Life Is Good.

but the complication is this: we told them the place was in move-in condition. and to my uneducated eye, it was. yes, there are always things to work out when you move in. but is was so much more than that.

in short procession, we had in The Heater Guy, The Gas Guy, The Plumber, and The Heater Guy, Redux. gah.

so. the tenants before (and i’m more than happy to spill their names if you want to check out a prospective tenant) skipped on all their utility bills, ran down the place, screwed up the washer/dryer unit, hosed the boiler, and fucked up the gas/water heater. … ah, i hated them before, but now i really have it out for them.

fortunately, our current tenants are very patient. we got the washer/dryer fixed before they moved in (redid the pipes, thank you hubby!), i cleaned the place and replastered, our heater guy fixed the boiler so they had heat, and the water heater… oh, you so don’t want to know the details, but suffice it to say, they were able to shower and cook a scant 4 days after they moved in. gawd, i feel like such a bad landlord!!

on the other hand, i really love how patient our tenants have been, and how much time/energy they have put into making the place theirs. it looks wonderful – and only sort of joking, i asked one of them if they’d like to redecorate our place, as it’s currently done in Early Childhood. πŸ™‚

*sigh* the plumber… ah, yeah, the plumber.

(sidenote: i am so happy to have a plumber, an electrician, a heater person, a pest control company, and a tree guy at my disposal. it makes all the difference to have people that you can call at the drop of a hat. i also got a great recommendation on a mason tonight. whee ha!)

so…*sigh* we called because of a few minor drips that sounded to me like my water bill going down the drain. and then All Hell Broke Loose. hubby was showering on the third floor, and i heard running water on the second. once i determined that i hadn’t left a faucet on, i figured out that water was running thru *the light fixture in the guest room* – the path of least resistance for the water, and the path of most hazard for my hubby.

god almighty… when our kickass plumber came over the day after i called, he went up to assess the situation. and when he pushed on the tiles *they fell thru the nonexistent wall*.

thru. the. wall. that. didn’t. exist.

that’s right, folks: the last person to do a repair didn’t put a backing board behind the tiles. so, pretty much, we’ve been sending shower water thru the structure of the house for *months*.

oh, how very much that sucks.

i couldn’t even walk into the bathroom to see what was going on when the plumber first tore things apart. instead, i decided to go shopping for supplies. i went to Targe, Pet Supplies, Home Despot, and Costco. the most entertaining part of the trip (for others, not me) was me trying to fit the 6′ sheet of Wonderboard into my 5′ wide car. after i swore loudly and vehemently in the parking lot (i’d tried for 20 minutes, let it be noted), one of the guys helped me out, and broke many laws of physics, for which i was very grateful.

and then when i got back, i decided to look. the project wasn’t any worse, but i knew that our plumber had done a yeoman’s job, and if i went to look, it would be at least a known quantity. and It Was Good. pipes were clean, sodders were neat, structures were pleasing. and i had hauled home all the supplies hubby needs to close in the wall next week.

so. positive: our tenants have heat. they have hot water, and a working stove. they’ll have a great heater lamp in their bathroom next week. they don’t seem to hate us at the moment. we have two silent (!) bathrooms, where i no longer hear our water bill sprinting down the drain. our mortgage is up to date, our bills are good, and i’ve worked out things with Town Hall re: property tax.

and in the spirit of Appreciating The Good: Little Man is doing excellently well in school. he earned his blue belt in Kenpo karate last weekend. he doesn’t fuss much with us (given that he’s 7, there’s a certain amount to be expected). we had a fantastic Halloween with him, for the first time in 3 years – as did his mum, so it was good all around. LM ate as much candy as he could on Halloween, and didn’t get sick. not only didn’t get sick, but went to bed on time. !! (thankful i didn’t have to peel him off the ceiling) my friends and family are happy and healthy. i have an interview tomorrow, and hubby has been landing gigs left and right.

mmmphrmph.

when it rains, it pours.

and don’t even ask me about the water flow in our basement – it approximates Niagra Falls. πŸ˜‰ as i understand it, it’s better than it was a few years back. but when you see your washer floating across the basement? better is a relative term. πŸ™‚

for the next few days, i’m trying to focus on cooking for my family, getting thru my interview, supporting hubby and Little Man, and getting all my bulbs planted before the ground freezes. yeah… it’s not so much about the first frost as the Big Freeze, right? Chica Beanie told me – if i can still dig in the dirt, it’s okay to plant. right?

hope so.

did i mention that i had to take my kitty in for major surgery yesterday? luckily, i qualified for a cosmetic surgery credit card – which also covers pet surgery – so i have a way to pay for all this. mostly, tho, it kills me that strat has to have one of his few remaining teeth yanked out. fortunately, he has a great vet, and he came thru the process with flying colors. hubby was more worried than i was, since he’s never seen a pet come back from a vet all wacked out on anesthesia/pain meds. but all my boys came thru the experience in good stead. now, i just have to work out feeding strat antibiotics for a few weeks… and figuring out how to brush his remaining teeth.

wish me luck. πŸ˜‰

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