Monthly Archives: September 2011

Removeling

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So we knocked down a wall recently.  And there was all this extra space.   And we moved every item of furniture in the living room and dining room.  I call it “removeling.”  It’s like remodeling?  But not.

I was thinking about where we were three years ago.  We lived in The World’s Shittiest Apartment, which was small and run-down and featured trashy neighbors.  And we had to actually sue the landlords to get our deposit back!  Good times.

Have you ever lived in a two-bedroom apartment with three children under the age of 5?  Try it sometime.  It’ll make your life seem better when you stop doing it.  Trust me on this.

We were both in nursing school, struggling with a full time workload of classes, homework, and clinicals.  We both also worked at least 16 hours a week.  We drove one decent car and one crappy one, and we lived on basically nothing.  One night some jerk stole every towel we owned (except I think one?) out of a dryer in the Shitty Apartments laundry room, because evidently we were just not sacrificing enough.

We were both semi-estranged from our families because we’d bailed on our previous lives and immediately thrown our lots in together, and it turns out that your parents get kind of pissed when you do that, no matter how old you are.  They’re absolutely correct in thinking that you’re doing something really stupid and you never learn and WHY DO THEY EVEN BOTHER.

It was scandalous, and it never should have worked out, but it did.  It was a hard, hard time and I don’t know how we did it, but we did.  And we were pretty happy most of the time.  Love is like that, I guess.

But don’t try this at home, kids.  Actual Results May Vary.

A year later we ended up here, in the home of The Lovely Rhonda’s Previous Life.  Long story, don’t ask.  It’s a crappy tract house, indistinguishable from every other crappy tract house in the vicinity, but it has some good things going for it.  It’s on a nice hill, no view but the wind rushes through the big trees behind the house and makes a lovely sound, there are Very Loud Frogs nearby that really whoop it up in the spring, and it’s so quiet (except for the frogs).  The fenced yard is nice for kids, and it’s close to the freeway and stores and things without being too crowded.

But, as I say, it is a crappy house.  And when we took possession of it!  Oh!  The humanity!  The yard was overgrown and neglected, and yeah.  I could go on and on about the condition of the house.  The Ex-Mr. Lovely Rhonda was not particularly good with home improvement, let’s say.  We patched holes, we cleaned and cleaned and cleaned, we painted (with help from some extremely good friends) and we were happy.  The kids have their own rooms.  We have a yard.  Life is good.

Now we have all this extra room, suddenly.  Our versatile OCD friend Amber came over today and she and TLR moved furniture around.  I call it Amber-shui.  She’s got a knack for this kind of thing.

Suddenly our crappy tract house is spacious and inviting.  We can have friends over and they’ll have someplace to sit!  It’s like a miracle, except we made it happen ourselves.  With so much help.

Thanks, everybody.  It means a lot to us.

Blather! And stuff.

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So my cousin came over this weekend to hang out.  She likes to be useful, so in addition to sitting around playing computer games we also tend to do home improvementy things when she’s here.

Last time she was here we, meaning mostly she, lugged bags of pea gravel around and made a desolate weedy strip along one side of the house into a satisfyingly tidy place to store the various trash and recycling bins.  This time we tackled the yard in general, for The Lovely Rhonda and I are having a PAR-TAY this coming Friday.  First we’ll bore everyone to death with an Overpriced Cooking Gadgetry presentation, and then we will reward them for their willingness to sit through such things by serving beer and having a backyard fire to poke at while drinking the beer.  This is what passes for a good time in suburban America these days, folks.  I COULDN’T MAKE THIS SHIT UP IF I TRIED.

Actually, I’m really looking forward to it.  The Overpriced Gadgetry is generally very high quality and guaranteed for life, and though I don’t have a lot of money to sink into such things and neither does anyone else I know, there are some reasonably priced items to be had.  But that’s not what I’m looking forward to.  It’s just an excuse to get together, which IS what I’m looking forward to.  There will be food, and friends, and kids, and if people are inclined there can be games and such.

So, to prepare for this there was a certain amount of Yard Maintenance that needed to occur.  We have children (toys and junk strewn everywhere), and a large enthusiastic dog (Otto bombs), and there is much foliage.  Most of it is desirable, but of course that which grows the fastest and requires the most attention tends to be the volunteer sort.  I’M TALKING TO YOU, BLACKBERRY VINE.

So, my cousin came over.  Yesterday it was muggy.  It was hot, and sticky, and muggy, and I was tired, and yeah.  We were lazy bums.  We sat around and played the MMORPG of our choice and then she made chicken tarragon which was fantastic.  And then the children reluctantly went to bed and we played some more.

This morning the little dears were up early.  As was, it turned out, my cousin.  Once I was sufficiently caffeinated I joined her outside, and by lunchtime the backyard was looking pretty decent.  There was pruning, and digging, and weeding, and mowing, and pooper-scoopering.  To the tune of A 5-GALLON BUCKET of poop. My cousin deserves a medal, for it was she who wielded the Scooper of Doom.

Good thing we got an early start, because just as we finished the rain began.   It’s actually cool in here to the point that I almost wish I was wearing pants!

… Oh, stop it.  I’m wearing SHORTS.

Anyway, I thought I’d post something so amazing it was a whole year in the making.

I call it, "Absence of Junk."

You can just see the outline, in dirty crud, of where a cardboard box sat for a whole year.  In the box was a gigantic old dinosaur of a computer monitor that had formerly resided in the shed that we tore down.  Yes, that shed.  That one shed that we tore down.

YES IT WAS A YEAR AGO.  Shut up.

You can’t throw things like this in the landfill.  You have to load them tediously into your car and drive them to an electronics recycler.  The closest one is at the Goodwill.

YES IT’S ONLY A COUPLE OF MILES AWAY.  Shut up again.

But it’s so big!  And heavy!  And dirty!  Because it sat in a filthy shed for who knows how long, and then it sat in a cardboard box in my driveway for a year!

And I’m so lazy!

So the stupid thing sat and mocked me for a solid year, and today when I got up I decided that this was the day.

Okay, mostly because I also had some other junk to donate to the Goodwill, but still.  TODAY IS THE DAY!

And so.  Yes!  It’s gone!  WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME OMG.

I also moved the junk that was sitting there that I almost posted for free on Craigslist.  Free to good home: antiquated rickety wheelbarrow, annoying be-wheeled twirly tangly garden-hose-holder thingy, and three (not four, as might make actual sense) sawhorse leg assemblies.  Why, you ask, did I not post it?  Because the Ex-Mr. The Lovely Rhonda (he of The Infamous Sharpie Card) just bought a house and needs such things, and reportedly will be picking them up this week.

(He’d also like our entire complement of major home appliances but since we’re still using them, that’s not so much going to happen.  Sorry!)

Anyway, they have a lovely little corner under the arbor vitae to sulk in until they move to their new home.

So, to reward you for wading through all this blather about nothing very interesting, here is a photo of the cat.  Enjoy!

Mr. Stupidhead

Tumbling Walls

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So we have this spare room in our house.  This is because we spent last summer having a room built in our garage, a room which is a delicious haven.  We ❤ this room so moishe.

Anyway, we have this spare room and on the other side of the wall from it we have a very crowded horrible dining area.  Our long wonderful table is crammed up against a wall, and the children are forced to sit on a hard wooden bench.  That’s not going to change, because hello, they are children and have resilient little butts, but it makes it difficult to have any guests at all.

So we called everyone’s favorite siding-wallah, the esteemed Kenny, and asked if he’d some have a look-see.  If we could get it done on the cheap we’d be interested in perhaps removing the wall between the two areas.  He looked-saw and said yes, this could be done, and cheaply.  Plus he could put in a dog door in the laundry room.

OUR LOVE FOR HIM HAS NO BOUNDS.

So today he arrived and began EXTREME MAKEOVER LESBIAN EDITION.  Uh, truncated version.

Crowded!

YOU'RE IN THE WAY

First, like any good handyman guy, he put up a big plastic sheet to contain the dust.  This also served the purpose of sealing the rest of the house off from circulating air of any kind, which the dog took full advantage of by floating a series of air biscuits that defy description.  But I digress.  *cough*

Locking in freshness

Next he began the intricate process of taking the wall down.  This involved playing rock hits of the 80’s and shouting conversation to me through the plastic while he pried sheetrock off the wall to make sure he didn’t do something silly like cut through electrical wiring.  Presumably this wouldn’t be good, so I was okay with it.

Otto provides expert supervision. All he needs is a clipboard and a Starbucks.

Shortly thereafter, the wall came down.

Long live the wall!

I then had to make a trip to the store, because for some reason if I’m in the house when Kenny works on anything electrical it doesn’t turn out well.  In this case he only had to cap some stuff and pull dead wires through holes in the ceiling, but I wasn’t taking any chances.   In case you are curious, I got some dish soap and broccoli and dark brown sugar.

Shortly thereafter, Kenny finished working his peculiar brand of magic and we cleaned things up and here, after a brief review of the “before” picture, is the result:

"Before," again

 

AFTER!

Rabbit Goobers

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So today I ended up working from home.  It’s payroll and I have a ton of other stuff that needs doing, all computer-based, and our favorite siding-wallah Kenny was coming to do some stuff to the house.  (More on that later)  So if I’m going to be chained to a desk, it might as well be at home, right?

Eventually I stumbled blearily into the kitchen to fire up the French press for some of Mama’s Special Coffee (French roast with a heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder — sooo good).  It takes the water a few minutes to boil so I wandered over to the back slider to enjoy the bucolic Monday morning backyardiness of the whole thing.

And then I spied what looked at first, judging by color and size, like a deceased squirrel languishing on the cement of the back patio.

EW EW EW EW EW.

Then I looked again, because who couldn’t?  And found that no, it was not a squirrel.  It was a poor sweet little fuzzy wuzzy brown baby bunny rabbit.

With a precious little fuzzy white tail.

And also: no head.

At first I thought that maybe the deceased had been there a while, judging from the parade of local insect life to-ing and fro-ing all over the furry little corpse, and this gave me solace.  For this morning one of the cats had come into the house and insinuated himself into the bedroom, rolling all over me and rubbing what were probably fresh rabbit goobers all over my face.  If the body had been there for a while, it probably wasn’t Mr. At Least He’s Decorative.  He’s fairly incompetent so it would have to be a baby rabbit suffering from brain damage anyway, to end up in his bumbling clutches.

So, I surmised, it was probably the other manly male cat.  (I’m excluding our female cat Hermione only because she rarely leaves the house long enough to make any difference, and I’ve never seen her chase anything more interesting than a spider.)   Mr. Manly Man Cat did crash for an extended period yesterday afternoon on a shirt that had missed the laundry basket in our room.  Perhaps he’d had a lengthy chase with the bunny and then had to drag its lifeless body back to the patio.  Yeah, that was probably it.

Then I realized that The Lovely Rhonda had fed the dog last night and surely would have noticed a hairy little stiff on the patio, right?

So yeah.  I’m not sure I’ll ever feel clean again.

What to do with credit card offers.

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The Lovely Rhonda received a credit card offer today.  YOU’RE PRE-APPROVED!  It said.  And the interest rate?  Well, the introductory rate was halfway reasonable.  For a period of time.  After which it shot into the stratosphere.

I heard once that an unscrupulous person might take the postage-paid envelope and put some of the literature that came with the offer into said envelope and put it in the mail.

Obviously one would not wish to place anything with one’s name on it in the envelope, but unscrupulous persons tend to be crafty that way and would already know this.

Why is the flag on my mailbox up?  Oh, no reason…

When you care enough to scrawl the very best

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So the last Mother’s Day that The Lovely Rhonda spent with the Ex-Mr. Rhonda didn’t go so well.   Rhonda recalls that she was working that day, she worked in those days as a CNA a couple of shifts a week, and was in nursing school full time.  She also had two small children (ages 1 and 3).

Those of you who have experienced nursing school will understand that this is like saying, “in her off hours from the prison work gang breaking rock on the railroad with sledgehammers all day, she wrestles alligators down by the river for tips .”

I would like to note that there is a large deluxe grocery store about a half a mile away that sells chocolates, flowers, and greeting cards.  Yet this is what she was presented with:

I'll just leave this here.

It gets better.  The inside:

Because Mother's Day is all about YOU.

Now, to be fair, the grocery store was a WHOLE HALF MILE AWAY.  And then there would have been all those decisions to make: which flowers?  Balloon, or no balloon?  Mushy card, or humorous?  And which of these bottles of red wine goes best with chocolate?  WHO HAS TIME FOR THIS OMG.

She came across this little gem while packing to move out (and subsequently in with me, yes it was scandalous, shh) and showed it to me and I insisted that she save it for me to blog about eventually.  And today is that day!  Because here is the card that I received for my birthday from The Lovely Rhonda:

JUST A LITTLE JOKE HERE. Move along, folks, nothing to see.

And the inside, where she attempted to draw an owl because I like owls:

YES IT'S AN OWL. Shut up.

We were both very busy before my birthday and she talked about getting me a card, but I told her to buy me a latte instead.  And she did, and I also got this.

I sense the beginning of a ridiculous tradition…

Birthday Hijinx

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So I had a birthday last week.  It was rather low-key, in that instead of having some massive shindig we spent the day shopping and running errands and then went to see “Bridesmaids” which was so funny I nearly peed my granny panties right there in the theater auditorium.  This is what we elderly folk do for fun: push the incontinence envelope.

The children were all excited to have cake.  We punished ourselves by getting chocolate cake, because we don’t do enough laundry around here.  There was some discussion about lighting a chronologically accurate number of candles but since we hadn’t taken out the necessary permits from the fire department ahead of time, we were forced to go with a lesser number that symbolically represented the grand total.

Then came the gifts.  The Lovely Rhonda had already presented me with tickets to STORM LARGE for tomorrow night, and frankly the fact that she hasn’t as yet put my belongings in the driveway is the real gift here.

But the children.   Just before the cake lighting there was a certain amount of furtive craft-making at the table, and the results did not disappoint.  Ladies and gentlemen, exhibit A: the card from Elder Spawn.

Front

See the stink waves coming off the monkey?

Note the red curly hair.  That’s me on the left.

Not to be outdone, Rhonda’s oldest, Middle Spawn, made a card also.

Front

And I look like one too!

And again with the crazy red hair.  Where do they get this stuff?!

The  youngest is an avid Dora the Explorer fan.  She is only four years old and yet she crafted this wonderful map:

Who do you ask when you don't know which way to go?!

Now with rodents!

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So our manny moved out yesterday.  I’m sorry to say that it was the hottest day of the year thus far, or nearly so (like I care enough to fact-check this detail) and also that I was kinda snappy.  Snap snap snappy.  Hormones + extreme heat + other stuff = snappy.  Sorry about that!

Luckily a good friend agreed to come over and help, and for this reason the manny, and many innocent bystanders, live to see another day.  Really, I (and so many others) cannot thank him enough.

Today I’m home alone and taking advantage of this by sitting around in my underwear gaming and watching Friends re-runs cleaning the now-empty spare room.  I’ve already cleaned the area rug and dragged it outside in the stupid hot sun to dry and be relieved of the stink-molecules left by the manny’s venerable dog, Taco.  The original plan was to drape it efficiently over the swingset, but it turns out that a sodden, recently-wet-vac’ed 8’x10′ area rug weighs about a bajillion pounds (that’s 0.45 bajillion kilos, for you Canadian readers) and as mighty as my hormone-driven cleaning fury may be, it was no match for the rug.  I’m sure the neighbors enjoyed listening to my desperate grunting as I gave it my all, but in the end I was forced to lay it out on the grass.  The lingering aura of seething disgust should be all that is needed to keep the pets off of it while it dries.

I then vacuumed the room in preparation for cleaning the crappy carpeting.  Eventually we will have something a little less crummy in that room than industrial low-pile rug with no discernible padding, but for now this will have to do, and it might as well be clean.  Since I had the Suckerator 5000 running I went ahead and started vacuuming out the Multi-Purpose Room, a delightful combination of laundry, pantry and storage, and at one time our closet.

Oh, imagine my delight when I found a pile of shredded … something whitish?  And the unmistakable brown pellets of MOUSE INTRUSION.   And then!  When I moved a rolling tote aside — THE ACTUAL MOUSE.  Who was alive and well, and really miffed that I’d uncovered his little empire. He scurried back and forth a few times and then darted behind the laundry machines.  THERE IS NO ESCAPE, MOUSE FRIEND.  RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!  If I’d been faster with the Suckerator hose the mouse might be spending some quality time in the garbage can but man, that little bugger could scurry.

We had a mouse invasion once before but haven’t been troubled by the little dears since calling the exterminator.  It appears that the mouse may have gotten in some evening when the manny had the sliding glass door to that room open, as he informed me a couple of days ago that the cats had been camping out in the laundry room, which was unusual for them.  Now that the manny and his dog are gone, and so are the food and water dishes from the laundry room, the mouse’s source of income is gone too.  It looked like the mouse had been chewing the corner of the room in an attempt to get out, as the vinyl baseboard (the something whitish) has been gnawed but the wall behind it appears intact.

We have three cats.  Why do we have three cats if they can’t keep the laundry room clear of one stupid mouse?  *shakes fist in general direction of cats*

(FYI, the rug in that room was filthy and the rinse water was not just a deeply satisfying shade of chocolate brown, it contained actual sediment.)