Monday, April 30, 2007

Kind of a Spur of the Moment Project

I continue on my mission to slowly replace the crap in this house with decent things. It's slow going because I truly believe that things should be done right. Also because there is a LOT of crap.

Some of the crap came from my family (no offense to my family) but it's crap with good bones. It's mostly antique crap. It's crap that is in need of reupholstering or refinishing but it's good crap. A declining number of items are crap that even my possession-loving ex wouldn't bother to take, thrust upon us by his family. This is true crap. This crap basically consists of items they didn't want to pay to have hauled away and since I conveniently drove a truck and was married to a pack rat who would never turn down anything that was free they gave it to us. Slowly I have gotten rid of most of it. The only thing that remains now is the round butcher block kitchen table and the 2 chairs that went with it.

The problems with this table are 1) It was not finished correctly by his father and so needs major refinishing to be nice 2) It was not put together correctly with the stand by his father and so it wobbles and 3) 2 crappy 70's era chairs came with it - chairs that are far too low for the table so when you sit at them you feel like a small child with the surface of the table up under your chin. I despise this table and always have. And the chairs are part of the reason my old kitchen flooring became scratched and stained.

When I refinished my grandmother's kitchen table last summer/fall I moved the old table out to the front porch along with one of the chairs. The other chair I have been using as my desk chair. Now the carpet under it is messed up and stained.

Note the lovely chrome. Note the 70's caning for the back. At least the seat upholstery matches the crappy berber carpet!

I'm selling this crap at the next yard sale which I hope will be by Memorial Day but I want to sell it as a set so I knew I would need a replacement desk chair. Considering my desk is a true family antique that I refinished 20 years ago and my file cabinet was chosen to compliment the desk I wanted a chair that would be fitting to this admittedly hodgepodge group of furniture. I knew it needed to be wood. I knew I wanted arms. I knew I wanted rollers incorporated in a pseudo-antique look. I knew I could not afford a true antique so I started searching. I contacted the unfinished place where I got my file cabinet and inquired. The chair I was interested in was pretty expensive even unfinished and would take 4 to 5 weeks to come in. So I went on the internet and found I found a similar chair for $40 less and it would be delivered within 5 days.

Today it came. In a box. Looking like this:

Well crap. Another thing to put together and then finish. Guess that's where the $40 and 4-5 week difference comes in. Still, I am happy with the quality of the PIECES and figure I can get this done no problem.

Here's how it will look when it's together and finished:

Final observation. I am not a shoe snob. God knows I wear my shoes until they are so pitiful I have to throw them away in embarrassment. I have only rarely bought shoes that weren't on major sale. But I try to always buy quality shoes. A quality shoe, if cared for, can be worn for several years. I could be blindfolded and led into a Payless and I would know I was in the wrong place by the smell. Cheap shoes smell cheap. I would rather buy a good pair of shoes and pay for it and wear them for 7 years than buy a cheap pair and get a season out of it. Same for furniture. I stop into furniture places every now and then just to look around and get an idea and I can tell by the smell whether it's good furniture. Cheap furniture smells cheap and will only last a season.

Thank goodness this chair smells good.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Cat Toy

This thing is GREAT!

I saw a video on the net this past weekend and immediately ordered it. It arrived today. The tiny tiny hitch is that the ball which rolls around the perimeter of the scratching pad was supposed to flicker light. It didn't. But I called customer service immediately and they are sending a replacement. I highly recommend Drs Foster and Smith if you are a pet person. Good - really good customer service and so polite.

Anyway I did a bit more video and here it is:

Hoooooooo hooo! I can embed video! BTW I absolutely hate the verb "to imbed." It should not be a verb. Also "impact" should not be a verb. Something can have an impact on something else but cannot impact something else unless it's a metorite or something. Pet peeve.

Just tonight's video and grammar . . .


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Just Stuff

The baby robins have now flown. Monday morning I took the trash to the curb before it was light and they were there. By 9 am they were gone. I am so thrilled that my little house gave them shelter to grow and develop but so sad that I no longer have this delightful diversion. The nest remains. In their last couple of days, when they were so huge that I couldn't imagine how 4 of them were sharing the same nest, I sat and talked to them and told them to remember where they came from and to come back and visit. I hope they will.

Windows are now open 24/7 and the fresh air is nice. Most of all I enjoy cats on windowsills.

The storms that hit Texas yesterday will be moving in tonight so maybe we will get some much needed rain.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Found this tonight on a random surf:

gaga Adj. Insane, just a little crazy.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Baby Robins

When I came back very briefly from Japan in May 2005 I noticed a nest up in the eaves just below my roofline. It was a perfect birdnest but due to being overwhelmed with jetlag and getting the cats vaccinated and redstamped to fly back to Japan with me I didn't take much more notice.

Last year the nest was still there - it is a very sheltered location way up high and hard to notice unless you are a human and are inspecting your house for peeling paint.

This year I think I'm looking more to the sky and less to the ground and so I noticed when I saw robin activity - a couple who flew in and out and in and out. My hopes were high for this 2 year old nest. Soon the female started spending much more time in the nest. A week or so ago there was again constant activity and when I saw one of the parents fly in with a beakful of worms I knew the eggs had hatched but it's so high up I couldn't really see anything.

Two days ago I thought I saw some fuzzy grey feathers and so got my video camera out. I have only had this video camera about 3 weeks now. I bought it so completely cheap on during the last woot off and I have not used it much but have not regretted a moment of having it. It's a JVC mini DV recorder and I love it - it's almost as small as my 3 1/2 year old sony digital camera! NOTE TO SELF: Get about 3 extra batteries for it in case of travel.

Anyway, yesterday I shot a little of the 4 baby robins kind of hanging over the edge of the nest but about 30 minutes ago I noticed the mom and dad flying in and out and so grabbed the camera and planted myself and I got the most incredible footage (I'm talking like Spielberg now right?) of both parents swooping in and shoving huge clumps of worms down the throats of their young!

I have always thought I should have been an anthropologist/historian/midwife/landscape designer/dolphin trainer/interior designer/veterinarian/tap dancer/country music singer/lapdancer (yeah right) . . . now I think I should add nature documentary filmaker to that endless list. I used to think my list of interests made me flighty. Now I think it makes me well-rounded and whole.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Wow. Sister Susannah (the new age nun) told me about a year ago that I needed to make this blog a home improvement blog and document my projects. I think it has morphed into that now.
I have a very small project that needs to be addressed. Actually I have been addressing it for 8 years and nothing I have done has worked. This is truly a curb appeal thing. I need suggestions. I need brainstorming (which, according to my project management class means offer any suggestion that comes to your mind without editing, no matter how crazy it seems). I have this funky bit of dirt where my mailbox sits on the street:

It's about 12' long and at the widest point (where the mailbox post is) it's maybe 8" or 10" wide.

Here's the problem: whenever there's more than a light rain anything in this area is washed out and down the street due to a bad slope in the driveway. I first tried putting garden soil in there and planting it. Washed down the street. Then I put a heavy layer of pine bark mulch on it. Washed down the street. Then I tried landscaping fabric with river stones about the size of eggs on top. Washed down the street (in this case I would walk down the street after the rain with a big bucket to retrieve them but that got old very fast). Last year I planted a purple clematis at the base of the mailbox post. Over the winter most of the soil got washed down the street and now I have a struggling, sickly clematis and a lot of weeds.

I have no idea what to do with this area. It is an eyesore and I want to fix it. I refuse to concrete it all over. That is the only rule I have for this discussion.

This is on my May "To Do" list and any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Today was a bit difficult.

Jack has been concerned about his 16 year old Manx, Wilma, for about a week. She has suddenly been lethargic and her appetite has not been right. We pet people know when something is wrong. The problem is we don't share a language and so can't say "Tell me what hurts?" and get a recognizable answer. This is why I consider vets like my sister and brother in law to be angels. They know how to read the signs. Also cats breathe through it. Theay are the essence of Zen. If you have ever watched a cat give birth you know this. They will complain about anything unacceptable to them until it's something that you can't fix and then they talk. Or they are silent and just decline with acceptance.

Jack is the only other person I have ever met who has a manx. My Sonny is also a manx - about the same age as Wilma. They are a great breed - sturdy, and with a solid, beautiful body - No tail and the best back arch ever. Very much themselves above beyond the typical cat thing. When I met Wilma she was typical manx but acknowledged me which I considered to be manx acceptance to the fullest. On my next visit she allowed me to pet her and rub her head. I was accepted!

Today Jack emailed mid morning to tell me he had a vet appointment for her. At 12:20 he called on his way to the vet early - the situation had become very worrisome. 30 minutes later he called to tell me she was eaten up with a fast moving cancer. Cancer can move alarmingly fast in cats, especially older cats. The vet offered the option of surgery and chemo but Wilma was 16 and this would only have prolonged her life at great expense. Jack made the very wonderful and difficult decision to put her to sleep. If you have never done this you can't imagine what a selfless gesture of kindness it is. You want more than anything to keep this companion alive for your own benefit. But in the end there are times when this decision has to be made and in this case I know it was the right one. Still, it tears your heart out.

I have my cell phone programmed to meow as a ringtone and we always have laughed that it sounds like Wilma. When my phone has rung at his house we have to try to decide if it's my phone or Wilma. Running joke. Seriously it sounds exactly like her! Now I wonder if I should change my ringtone.

RIP Wilma baby girl! You were a good girl! Today you joined Sofie and Zach and Boo and Gracie and I know you are all playing happily.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Today's Mini-Project

The ceiling fan which was ordered January 16 finally delivered March 21. Of course I was caught up in all sorts of other things and put the box in a corner but today I installed it! Highly recommend. Great prices and free shipping. Also really great customer service.

I've installed plenty of ceiling fans but all have been the "budget builder" white bottom of the line things. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The one in my kitchen is perfect and I have no intentions of swapping it out. But the small white wobbly noisy thing in the living room had to go. Now that I've finally spent more than $40 for a ceiling fan I have to say that my take on the whole thing is the more a fan costs the more difficult the directions are. But I finally got it installed and I love it!

I finished the living room about 3 years ago but as of tonight it is a bit more finished:

These pictures are so cool to me because the fan blades look transparent! They aren't really - it was just moving when I took the shots.

I'm thrilled to knock another thing off my list. What a great enhancement going into warmer weather!

Speaking of lists - I might have mentioned this before but Sister Susannah (the new age nun) turned me on to tada lists about a year ago - I love it. I can make a monthly to-do list online. I can re-order the points. I can check them off when I'm finished. And they are archived so if I have a month where I sit on my butt and do nothing I can go back and look at what I did in a previous month and feel better. You can make any kind of list there. I even do sub-lists. I've always liked crossing things off of lists as I accomplish them and keeping a list makes me feel so organized and it helps me so much to think things out.

Also there is a blog I read that I have been meaning to share with all of you. It is a woman who does one (and usually more) daily Venn diagrams that are sharply funny and observant and plain wickedly smart. Add to your daily read. You won't be sorry. Unless you're an uneducated ultra conservative (isn't that redundant?) with a sense of humor like a fork.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

C'est Finis! (fudging just a bit)

It is now at an end. Not really because I still have a couple of outlets to change over but that is all. And I'm sure I'll make decorative adjustments along the way but my goodness this project is finished!

Tonight Jack came over for dinner. Jack is, I suppose, my boyfriend. He is sweet and nice and smart and funny and he treats me like I'm some kind of precious thing but most amazing is that for the past almost 3 weeks he has listened to me obsess about this project and has supported me all the way! Tonight I fixed the first meal in the new kitchen after so long nuking frozen meals and eating far too much fast food. I fixed a pot roast and salad and we sat at the table and it was just a superb night.

Here are a few final photos. I have no idea what I'm going to talk about now that this is all finished!