Friday, June 22, 2007

His name is Bill

This guy is Bill Bowles. He's taking 6 months off to travel the world. He's keeping a video blog which is about the most delightful thing I watch any given day. I thought this post was particularly worth a link:

Even Namibians know. And they live half a world away.

Sonny in the Weeds

Well lordy. All sorts of things going on here although not really. Just stuff on my mind.

Was a hard week of work after my week off. I spent all of Monday and Tuesday trying to remember what exactly it is that I do. Luckily Sam (da boss man) is patient and also he is in Sydney so I was able to take time and re-orient myself with my own job. Lots of stuff going on and it's all exciting. Sam "yelled" at me (via IM) during my week off for checking and responding to emails. Had I been in some exotic place I would not have done so but was just here at home so I felt the need to keep in touch. I'm just slightly twisted in that way.

Harvey was back through. He came in yesterday at about 4 pm and I got him to the airport about 10:30 this morning for his flight back to Osaka. What a total delight. I know the internet and people one meets there can be an "iffy" kind of thing and maybe I am really really naive but I read Harvey's blog for more than a year and based on his great posts I knew it would be OK. He was a great houseguest and we had the best conversations over the kitchen table and I wouldn't trade meeting him for the world. Also last night while I was on a conference call he sat on a rocker on the newly painted front porch and read and that meant the world to me! Don't ask me why - it just did! So if any of y'all ever get to Atlanta just look me up. I have a futon sofa and you are welcome!

Anyway, the whole purpose of this post was to show a photo of Sonny in the weeds. Sonny is my old boy. He is at least 17 now and maybe even as old as 18. The street I live on is posted 25 MPH but about 80% of the vehicles go at least 50 (local authorities have not helped despite repeated requests). Sonny is the only cat allowed outside because he is too old now to go over the fence. His pure complete joy is to sleep in the weeds all day and watch the birds and squirrels and chipmunks.
That is one happy cat. He won't be for long, though, because he needs a BATH!!! When cats get old they tend to stop grooming themselves and so Sonny needs a big washin'. I have the cat shampoo and a towel out and ready but I need to buck up my courage and stamina for a task like this. Might not happen until tomorrow. Or August 2009. Will try to take photos because it's so funny!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Porch Project Day Two

I'm checking back in because I know you all live for these updates and are all sitting there right now holding your collective breath waiting for me to let you know how it's going. Also I needed a break because even though it's just shortly after 11 am it's already hot.

So here's wha' happened. I'm eating my lamb chop and brussel sprouts last night and the night sky opened up and we had a torrential downpour. This is hysterically funny to me on a few levels. First off, the TV weather guys here in Atlanta couldn't give an accurate forecast to save their lives. My theory is that they spend all their time blowdrying their hair leaving very little time to look at meteorology stuff. All last week they told us it was going to rain. All last week it would cloud over and mist slightly for about 60 seconds. Yesterday was supposed to be a gloriously sunny day (which is why I planned to start the painting seeing as how I knew I would have to put everything formerly on the porch outside.

Which leads me to the second reason this is so funny. I am now the proud owner of two kitchen chairs which are currently listed for sale on craigslist and which are sopping wet (the seats are upholstered). Guess I will have to go in and change the listing today as I can't sell them now because they are pretty much ruined. And yet I don't mind at all. These are the hated ex-in-laws chairs that have been the bane of my existence for ever so long and I am very pleased to be able to put them on the street for pickup.

The final funny thing is this - remember I am using oil based paint? Which dries r e a l l y
s l o w l y anyway? Well when last night's rain hit the hot ground it created a humidity the likes of which I haven't felt since I was in Japan (the most humid place ont he face of the earth). So 16 hours after I finished the first half of the porch there are still some very wet places.
I had originally planned to have this project completed by tonight but looks like I won't be able to move things back onto the new floor until maybe Tuesday night (if the weather holds).

Anyway. So that you can all get on with your lives here is a photo update. This is the part that is trying very hard to dry that I did last night. It looks splotchy but that's just the parts that aren't completely dry. YET.

That's the part I did this morning before I took my break. I really like it when it's all wet and shiny.

Now I'm in dangerous territory. Now I'm at that point where I have to paint around the kitchen table (for sale on craigslist) that is far to heavy to move inside or outside so I have to paint around it then when the paint dries move it and then paint in where it was. Also I'm at the part where I have to back myself into the house painting all the while. And then wait for it all to dry which is difficult because I have the patience of a flea with ADD when it comes to these things.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Oh Lord

The green. Oil based. Paint.

All over me. Why oh why do I get more paint on me than on the object being painted? WD40 is the only thing that cleans it off well so I sit here on a Saturday night smelling like a mechanic.

Porch floor now about halfway done but fuck it all it turned DARK and I CAN'T SEE so this will be continued . . .

On a lighter more positive note the part that has been painted looks awesome!

Comedy of Errors

maybe I should say Comedy of total misjudgement. I always do this. I always start a project that to me seems to be a no-brainer quickie and then I get into it and realize I didn't properly assess the situation.

And so it has been with the porch-floor-repainting thing.

1. Yesterday I cleared most everything off the floor and I scraped the paint that was obviously peeling. Then I vacuumed thoroughly in preparation for hosing it all down prior to 10am today (the outdoor water use deadline).

2. By 9 am it was hosed off and scrubbed down. Then I cleaned the windows and the hanging lamps and the porch rockers. Then I went inside and waited for it to dry while I read this awesomely funny blog by this attorney woman here in Atlanta that Susannah turned me on to yesterday: After reading a few random posts last night and laughing my ass off I started mid-morning at the beginning of time and am now up to February 2006. I am still laughing. I didn't make it to the arts and crafts festival up on Main Street. Maybe tomorrow.

3. I went out every 30 minutes or so to check the drying progress and realized that the bare wood patches (see photos) would have to dry completely before painting which is something I didn't figure in.

Then I realized the water caused some extra paint-peeling up at the edge stuff so I got back on my hands and knees and re-scraped the whole fucking thing. Then I vacuumed all the scrapings off.

Can you see the remnants of white paint? This is from previous projects. My front porch is my "shop" by necessity. I so want it to vomit ferns and rocking chairs and candles and it ends up being the trash heap/storage room of the house. PEOPLE ON THE STREET CAN SEE!!!! I am so embarrassed.
4. I ate a turkey, tomato, onion and cuke sandwich for lunch. I love summer. I could live on turkey, tomato, onion and cuke sandwiches.

5. I took a nap for about an hour.

6. I started painting. When I went to Lowe's for the paint I took a paint chip. The last time I did this when I repainted the outside trim 7 years ago I must have been at Home Depot because they did some sort of laser reading on the chip and matched it exactly. This time at Lowe's I got a choice between two colors that didn't really match at all. Note to self - for paint matching break down and go to HD. Now that I have a little bit down on the floor the mismatch is glaringly obvious. Oh well. It's just a porch floor and the whole damned thing needs to be torn out and rebuilt anyway and this painting thing is just a band-aid until I win the lottery. Oh and also they gave me the oil based stuff instead of the latex stuff so I've already ruined one perfectly good 12 year old t-shirt (HA!) !

7. I started to sweat. It isn't terribly hot today and god knows painting a floor isn't the most physical thing I could do but I got about a 6' x 2' area done and was just dripping sweat and then I started smelling myself and got totally grossed out so I came inside and turned on the A/C and poured myself a glass of lemon fizzy water. In a minute I'm going to hop in the shower and then make a lamb chop and brussel sprouts for dinner. Then I might go paint some more even though it means another shower.

This porch painting might take a while.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Two Words (OK, maybe only one)

Space Bag. Or maybe it's Spacebag. Not totally sure and honestly it doesn't matter.

If you know me you know I spread the word when I find an awesome product. I'm thinking Birkenstocks (most comfortable shoe in the world), King of Sponge (most awesome cleaning product in the world and unfortunately only available in Japan in select locations), microfiber cleaning cloths (especially the one that does windows - you can do your windows using only water and avoid the expense and toxicity of Windex and they clean so much better). Now I have to add Space Bags to this list.

I don't put too much stock in most "as seen on TV" products but a few weeks ago I broke down and took my queen sized down comforter to the cleaners so I could put it away for the summer. After I dropped it off I was in Walmart for some yarn and saw space bags.

I have this really tiny house that has only two small closets plus one really really small corner closet. I have no place to store something like a down comforter. So I saw this Space Bag display and decided to give one a try.

Here is my queen size down comforter in a Space Bag with all the air sucked out:

Here's a side view:

The side view really doesn't do it justice. This thing is about 2" thick when it's spread out on the bed and although it is lumpy in the Space Bag it is folded over to be 6 layers (at least 12") and when I sucked the air out it's about 1/2" thick.

This is the "Jumbo" size bag. I could have done easily with a large or extra large. It fits easily into the top of my bedroom closet with plenty of storage space to spare.

On a totally unrelated topic Harvey ( arrived Sunday afternoon and I put him on a plane to NC yesterday evening. He'll be back through for a night before flying back to Japan. It was a delight to meet him and he was just the perfect houseguest. I am sure he was bored silly but since he was also recovering from jetlag I hope he will forgive. There were plenty of good conversations and the best part was watching Twilight Samurai - a Japanese movie I have with subtitles. He pointed out a couple of places where the subtitle was not a correct interpretation of what was said. It was absolutely wonderful. When I came back from Japan I brought this ready-to-make thing that I just loved to eat there. It is kind of a cross between jello and yogurt or custard. Very light, not too sweet - in Japan I bought it with aloe chunks in it and it was delicious, especially on hot nights. I bought it because I recognized the picture on the front of the box but have not made it because I can't read the instructions. He translated it for me and so I hope to fix it soon!

On another unrelated note I have most of the stuff cleared off the porch in preparation for painting the floor tomorrow. I will have to get up really early to scrub it first since I can't use water outside after 10 am. I've brought boxes inside and put furniture out on the patio and have scraped up most of the peeling paint. I really dread this project but I know it will look so nice when it's finished and since I am now wireless it means I will have a really great outside place to work when I work from home!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Front Porch Coup!

I decided to burn off some vacation time while Harvey was here. My plan was to try to get some yard work done but I haven't been too successful with that. I have, however, managed to begin cleaning my front porch of all the clutter. I have this shed up in the backyard. It's really old and falling down and the squirrels get in and ruin anything that isn't made of steel and since I have no inside storage space I've had half-used paint cans and boxes of paint brushes and sand paper sitting all over my front porch along with the old kitchen table and chairs and it's just been a miserable place to be and full of pollen dust and cat hair and trash.

Last week I had a brilliant idea - a deck box! You know, those heavy duty plastic things that people store outdoor furniture cushions in? So I went out and got one, got it put together, and now all the assorted tools and junk live there. What a difference!

Since we're in heavy water restrictions the next day I can use water outside is Saturday between midnight and 10 am so I plan to get up very early and wash down the porch and furniture. Then I'm going to paint the floor! By this time next week it should be looking pretty darned good and I will feel I accomplished something major.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Sleeping With Brad Pitt

You're going to have to follow me on this one.

I love what I call "elbows." I have very broad strong shoulders where I carry 90% of my tension and my favorite thing in the world is a good, very very very hard shoulder rub. My favorite thing is to sit on the floor in front of someone on a chair and have them grind their elbows into my shoulder muscles. It hurts and feels so good, it makes me lightheaded, it releases the tension - it is heaven for me.

Thursday morning I woke up with Brad Pitt giving me elbows. Why Brad Pitt? Good Lord I have no idea. He's pretty and all but my celebrity crush is John Cusack so why didn't I wake up with Johnny giving me elbows? Not that I'm complaining mind you. Elbows from Gomer Pyle would be fine with me but hey, if we're getting some from a hottie why not Goerge Clooney at least? I'll bet George gives wicked elbows.

Several years ago I got a professional massage every two weeks. During stressful times I would increase it to once a week. It was my luxury. I got out of the habit when I was in Japan and now it has been at least 15 months since my last massage. Maybe my dream means I need to go back to this luxury.

Or I could give Brad a call . . .

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Wireless and Excited

I've finally gone wireless! I'm sitting now at my sofa and writing this from my laptop. So cool. I got it hooked up and working and it took me a few hours to realize that now I can move my desk/PC anywhere I want. Not that there are a lot of choices. But at least I have some choices now. That's a thought for another day. For now I can blog at the kitchen table or on the porch or in bed if I want. Haven't tried sitting in the backyard yet but that's only because I'm still suffering from the bug bites I got last weekend (think they were very bad ants - more painful and swollen than itchy).

I've written previously about Harvey. Harvey is my Japan internet friend. He's American and has been living and studying in Japan for a long time. He just married a Japanese girl and is coming back to the US to take an exam and have an interview for a scholarship to continue his studies. I started reading Harvey's blog while I was in Japan and, well, he will be staying on my futon sofa while he's in Atlanta. He's just a really sweet, scary smart "kid" and I'm thrilled to be able to give him a place to stay. He'll get in next Sunday morning and I'm so excited to finally meet him. if you want to read his very interesting blog. Warning - a lot of J-language posts. Still, I find it so interesting.

Pay it forward! I think I never did. In Japan so many people, both Japanese and ex-pats, went out of their way to make me feel at home. A wonderful Iranian man, Paul Rhoumadi, who had lived in Japan for 17 years, even brought me a van load of furnishings (dishes, cooking pots, storage drawers, rice cooker, a small TV) when I moved to a new apartment when the cats came over and I moved from the furnished place to the empty place. I never asked. He just called one day and told me he was coming over with things to help me. Now if there is anything I can ever do I try to do it and so I am happy Harvey will be staying here for a few days. Harvey speaks fluent Japanese and so I do hope this will catapult me into resuming my self-study. My language skills have made no progress, I only just do enough to not forget the little bit I learned. I am a slacker.

On another note we're still having a little rain tonight. Just a little. Just enough that it sounds nice on the tin roof over the porch. It would have to monsoon for a week to make up for the deficit but any moisture is so very welcome at this point. At one point today I broke down and went out and shook my rainstick so I like to think my efforts brought this bit of moisture. I love my rainstick. You turn it and little things inside sound like rain falling. I kind of got mesmerized by the sound.

OK. Time for bed now.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Normally this would not be a post but we're 11" in the red here and watering restrictions and all and it's just been so incredibly dry. Even the weeds that make up my yard are brown and dead (for now - weeds always come back). We've been living with the smoke from the S. GA fires moving in every few days and nothing to wash it out of the air. And for the last 10 minutes it has been raining a bit!!! Not nearly enough but I'll take what I can get. Even if it doesn't make up for the huge deficit it will help to wash some of the smoke and smog out of the air.

Today I got slightly on top of the clutter on my front porch. I can't even imagine getting all of this out on the drive for a yardsale only to move it back in if it doesn't sell so this morning I listed a few porch items on craigslist and darned if I haven't already sold the fish tank and pocketed $15 for the effort. Now if only I can get rid of the round butcher block table and chairs . . .

Harvey (Japan friend) is coming in next Sunday so I cleaned the extra bathroom. I keep feeling strange because this is a small house and here I've gone and invited him to stay on the futon sofa with little to no privacy and then I think about Japan and surely he will be comfortable and feel like he's in a huge house. I know I did when I came back. I'm looking into pizza options around Atlanta since that's what he says he craves. In Japan pizza (Dominoes pizza - yes they do have Dominoes there) comes with toppings like octopus, corn and mayonnaise. For the record I must say I never tried it. I plan to find him an excellent meat lovers pizza in a top of the line pizza place. Then maybe a movie since Japan gets stuff about 6-10 months after it opens here and a matinee there can cost up to $23.00 just for the ticket. Must look into drive-ins that might still be open. When I first moved here there was a great drive in and I would get a truckload of friends together with iced tea and munchies and the futon from the futon sofa in the back of the truck and we had the grandest time. Unfortunately the best drive-in in Atlanta closed about 8 years ago - replaced with an over-air-conditioned 24-plex monstrosity. Honestly I'm such a hermit so it's strange to think about him staying here but at the same time so many people in Japan went out of their way to do kind things for me so this is the very least I can do. And from now on I will try to pay it forward.

This will be a busy week.