Friday, January 30, 2009

Driven to Distraction

Just how distracted was I yesterday?

Distracted enough that I missed Ariana's dental appointment. I did not discover that we missed the appointment until 45 minutes after the appointment was scheduled.

It's not very often that I become that enmeshed in an activity that I lose total concept of time.

This time the activity involved downloading music onto Ariana's hand-me-down 8-gig iTouch.

Downloading music was a whole new world to me. In search to find music to download, I journeyed back to the days of my youth. Also, I ventured into unknown territory ~ downloading songs I never heard from bands (like Ra) that most people did not even know existed.

For the most part, I will admit that my exploration of new musical frontiers yielded some pretty good finds. In fact most of the music that I deleted from my play list were duplicates of songs that I previously downloaded.

It was a nice to experience musical memories that I had long forgotten about. And it was nice to download just the few songs from a specific band that I liked without having to commit to purchasing a whole album.

I think that I will be spending more time w/my new toy. I just have to make sure that I remain more mindful of the time.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ariana!

Where have all the years gone?

Today Ariana turned 20 years old. It's hard to believe that she's already that old. It sort of reminds me of the song from Fiddler On the Roof ~ Sunrise, Sunset:

Is this the little girl I carried,

Is this the little boy at play?
I don't remember growing older,
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty,
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn't it yesterday when they were small?

It was Ariana's wish to celebrate her b-day at the Tokyo Restaurant in Mattapoisett, at the Hibachi table. Joining the festivities were her Nana Carol, Barbara, Jeremiah, Ryan, and yours truly.

The weather was rather wild today ~ first starting off with snow in the morning and then changing over to rain later on in the day.

The roads were treacherous in the mid-afternoon, and there was some fear that the party may have to be postponed.

But within a couple of hours, the rain had washed away the snow and ice that were on the road. And the party was saved.

Yay!

Even though the reservation was for 6:30 PM, we had a slight delay in getting started.


It took Barbara longer than usual to get to the restaurant from her in job in Providence because the thick fog made driving a bit difficult. (It was a real pea soup out there.)

But once Barbara arrived, we were ushered to the Hibachi table.


Shortly after we were seated at the table, Ariana opened her present from Barbara ~ a lovely pair of pajamas.


Our Hibachi chef tossed and twirled his cooking utensils.

This is the part that I was waiting for ~ pyrotechnics!

To the right of the chef is Barbara, Jeremiah, Ariana, Ryan, and Carol (whose back is facing the camera).

Here is a better view of Carol.

We have Carol to thank for this festive occasion. The wonderful time that we all had at Tokyo Restaurant was Carol's birthday present to Ariana.

Here are more pyrotechnics as the chef prepares the noodles and veggies.

(You may have guessed by now that I like fire.)

The onion ring volcano is spewing a good head of steam as the chef is preparing the noodles, which were very tasty.

In addition to the pyrotechnics, this is the other occasion that I was waiting for ~ the restaurant staff beating on drums in celebration of Ariana's birthday. She even got a little dish of red bean ice cream with a candle on top.

Back at the house, we had birthday cake ~ strawberry shortcake which Ariana picked out.

After cake, Barbara brought in Daisy, her teacup Chihuahua.

Daisy weighs only 4 1/2 pounds, but she's a real cutie who has an exceptionally sweet temperament, especially for a Chihuahua.

It's too bad that Neil wasn't here to share in the celebration of Ariana's birthday. But he did call her this morning.

Ariana was still sleeping when Neil called. But she very quickly woke up after she opened the birthday present that Neil had sent to the house ~ a 16-gig iTouch. (Great! The means I get Ariana's old 8-gig iTouch!)

Also after we all got back from dinner, Ariana called Neil and put him on speaker phone so that we all could get a chance to talk to him.

All in all, this was a pleasant day.

And celebrating Ariana’s birthday the way we did ~ with just a small group at the Hibachi table at Tokyo Restaurant ~ was a much better celebration than what Ariana originally had in mind a few months ago, which was a big house party with one of her friends serving as DJ.


(Words could not describe how grateful I was for that change of plans!)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Way of Crochet

I didn't want to do any cleaning today. I wanted to crochet. And that I did.

I made giant headway in my afghan, pinning all the pieces to an afghan-sized sheet and stitching together the motifs that sat edge-to-edge to other motifs.

Now remains the challenge of filling in all the empty spaces. That's going to be a bit difficult because all the pieces are pinned to a sheet, and that requires a lot of maneuvering as I need to turn the piece whenever I come to the end of a row.

There's one thing to say about the rhythmic nature of crocheting ~ the mind starts to wander. And sometimes it wanders into places that one would not typically reach in the normal pattern of thought.

Today my mind wandered into such a territory. It was both exhilarating, and a little bit scary.

Flashes of thoughts and insights came to me that excited me.

However, I am not yet prepared to share these thoughts and insights until I process them further. After all, the direction where these thoughts and insights may lead could have either positively powerful effects or devastatingly embarrassing repercussions.

Like I said, I really need to think this one through before I am ready to make a public proclamation.

Sorry to be such a tease.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Washing Machine Woes

Ever since we had that Arctic deep freeze, the washing machine has been rather cantankerous.

Today it's been the most cantankerous ever.

Right now, I have a small pile of wet clothes in the washer sitting in a small puddle of water. I cannot get them out because the door is locked shut. No amount of finagling has been able to open up the seized door.

I was able to get the door open earlier. And when I did, I transferred a partial load into the dryer.

The reason why I transferred only a partial load was that the clothes were soaking, sopping wet.

The dryer has been running for over 3 hours now, trying to get those clothes dry. I'm afraid that it may take another 2 - 3 hours.

The reason for the washing machine's extreme misbehavior has been that the drain pipe is either frozen or clogged. Given that the problem started when we had that awful cold snap and that the weather has turned cold again, my guess is that the drain pipe is frozen.


(Though with all the animal hair that is found in nearly every load of wash, I would not be surprised if enough of it accumulated to create a clog in the drain pipe.)

I tried pouring a boiling solution of water and vinegar down the drain pipe in hopes of thawing out the ice and possibly loosening up whatever clog there may be.

No such luck.

All day long I tried running the just the rinse, spin, and drain cycle. But after so many minutes the machine would flash the same error code that it's been flashing all day" "F 02," meaning that a "Drain Problem" is present.

So what do I do now?

Do I call Roger the plumber again?

I cannot get my clothes out. And that means if they are trapped in the machine in a puddle of water, they will start smelling in about a couple of days.

At least I did manage to "rescue" part of the load, even though it means that it will take several hours for it to dry. But at least we'll have some clean clothes to wear in the meantime. Having packed away most of our clothes, we don't have all that many clothes available to wear.

There's always going to the laundromat. And that would certainly be cheaper than calling a plumber.

I cannot help but think that the Imp of the Perverse has had its hand in this washing machine calamity. After all, now that we're selling the house, now is the time for more problems to pop up.

I am going to have to think this one through and figure out what would be the most appropriate course of action. If I could do it without having to incur additional costs, so much the better.

But something tells me that my resourcefulness is somewhat limited in this situation.

And for the time being, that dastardly machine will remain unplugged.

Before and After

Today I was a bit more productive than the past few days.

First order of business was to bring Emi to the vet for her shots. Once that was done, I went to the town hall to get new dog licenses for her, Gypsy, and Gomez.

Afterwards, once the dogs had their new tags on their collars, it was down to business.

Today's order of business was to clean the cupboard under the long counter.


This is what it looked like on Friday.

And this is what it looked like today, after I got done cleaning and organizing it.

In addition to cleaning the cupboard, I cleaned and organized 5 drawers in the kitchen.

(I have yet to "attack" the "junk drawer." God knows what forgotten treasures I will find among the strata.)

And I cleaned up the tiny cupboard to the left of the sink ~ the one that had all those mysterious bottles from long forgotten eons.

I had also packed several boxes of kitchen stuff ~ stuff that I am not likely to be using between now and when we move to Texas. Or at least I'll make sure that we won't be having to use the stuff that I packed away.

We're going to be living very simply for the time being.

Nothing wrong with that. In fact, living simply is a lot easier to do.

Already Ariana and I have gotten used to living in a clean and clutter-free house. In fact, we discovered that we prefer it that way.

Everything is so much easier on the eyes. And it feels healthier, too. I feel as though we can breathe much easier, not having the weight of clutter pressing down upon us.

We've developed better habits when it comes to maintaining a cleaner and more organized environment. And let's hope those habits remain with us once we move and establish a new home in Texas.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Return of the Sloth

Some of the prehistoric giant sloths have been as large as an elephant.

I'm nowhere near that size, though sometimes I may feel that big after over-indulging at the all-you-can eat Chinese buffet.

While I did accomplish some work on Friday ~ cleaning out the dish cupboard and packing 7 boxes ~ yesterday and today were slothful days.

Yesterday started off with some promise of industry when Ariana and I went to the Plymouth County Correctional Facility to visit Nick.

Nick was doing as best as can be expected in such a place. He hoped to be released on the 17th of next month.

After our visit, we drove home. Feeling a bit sleepy, I went upstairs to take a nap almost as soon as we walked in through the door.

Having napped for a couple of hours, I had no drive or motivation to do any work, even though I knew that more cleaning and packing probably would have been a good idea.

It seems now that my house has achieved some level of neatness and freedom from clutter, I don't feel as driven to go on the big cleaning blitzes that I had just weeks ago.

Now I am enjoying more leisurely moments in between my major bouts of accomplishment.

After my nap I played some Mah Jong on the computer and then talked with Neil in Texas. While we were on the phone, I made a 3-way call to Roma and Tony so that Neil could talk with them, too.

Then I watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose while working on my crochet. (Being one who very rarely watches TV or movies, I am one of those people who cannot sit idly with my hands doing nothing.)

When the movie was done, it was time to go on-line and catch up with my emails, as well as email the recent pix I took of the house to my real estate agent so that she could include them in the on-line listing of my house. (My pix were much nicer.)

Then it was time for bed.

That was yesterday.

This morning Ariana and I went to church. Ariana came with me because today was Good Shepherd's Annual Meeting, and we needed extra warm bodies so that we could have a quorum in order to conduct church business.

Ariana's meeting participation consisted of falling asleep in the comfy chair in the church basement. I, on the other hand, played Mah Jong on my cell phone. But that did not stop me from adding my 2 shekels worth during the meeting and from voting on church issues.

Once church business was done, we stopped at the pharmacy and then drove home.

At home I followed my usual Sunday procedure ~ dole out the meds for the week and then read my newspapers.

This time, in addition to getting the Sunday Providence Journal-Bulletin and the Boston Globe, I decided to also pick up a copy of the Boston Herald.

I'm afraid that the Boston Herald failed to impress me. However, it had a good comic section ~ very important ~ that featured Brenda Starr and The Phantom. I hadn't read those comics in well over 15 years.

After reading all those papers, I really did not feel like doing anything else, not even crocheting.

It wasn't particularly warm downstairs. And even though I was not very tired, I elected to go upstairs ~ where it was much warmer ~ and take a brief nap to pass the time and assuage my boredom.

Now that's being very slothful ~ taking a nap when you're not tired.

Because I had gone upstairs late in the afternoon, my nap was brief. Gypsy made sure that I did not sleep longer than I had to by barking loudly downstairs and ringing the doggie sleigh bells on the door, letting me know that she wanted to be let out.

What followed was more of the usual ~ feeding the animals, taking out the garbage and recycling (this time without nearly breaking my legs), calling Neil, making Ariana something to eat, and going on the computer.

I figured on writing this blog because I was remiss in blogging yesterday. Plus, Neil looks forward to reading my blogs. After all, he's my number one fan!

Tomorrow I will have to bring Emi to the vet for her over-due shots. After which, I will head to town hall to get new dog licenses for her, Gypsy, and Gomez.

After that, who knows what I'll do.

Hopefully the day will be warmer so that I will not have to sequester myself upstairs.

In the meantime, those puffy appetizer thingies that I made for Ariana smell very good. I think I'll make myself a batch.

With one of the 7 Deadly Sins out of the way, I think I'll work on another one ~ gluttony.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Decadent Pleasure

I have one really decadent pleasure, and that pleasure only takes place during the cold months, and at no other time.

Had I lived in Arizona, I would have never experienced this decadent pleasure. But then, I would have not had any reason to.

So what am I talking about?

I'm talking about the clothes dryer. I use it to heat up my clothes in the morning and my PJs at night. Sometimes I will even throw in my slippers.

Nothing can describe the absolute melting ecstatic feeling of slipping into the delicious warmth of heated up clothing while standing in a cold room.

Even my feet sing for joy upon being clad by a pair of hot slippers fresh out of the dryer.

Once I slip into warm clothing, my body sighs a giant "aaaah!" of pleasure and goes into pure relaxation mode.

If feeling cold is something that can put me in a foul mood, cocooning myself with warmth is a sure-fire way to elevate my mood by several notches.

I have been heating clothing in the dead of winter ever since I was a young girl, living in my parents' house in Providence.

There we did not have clothes dryers. But we did have radiators.

Every morning I would drape my school clothes over a hot radiator, and then repeat the same process at night with my pyjamas.

Slipping into very warm clothing on a frigid day is a treat far better than chocolate.

I love the warmth, and nothing beats a warm cocoon.

Pictures of Clean

This blog is pretty much a photo essay of the cleaning work that I have been doing these past several weeks.

For those of you who have not been to my house recently, these pictures may come as a shock. And for any of you who have never been to my house, here's your chance to be a voyeur.

These aren't all of the rooms in the house ~ just the cleanest ones. Some rooms more cluttered because most of the packed boxes are being stored there.

We'll start off with the most recent cleaning activity that took place in the kitchen yesterday.

Here's the pantry ~ all nice, neat, clean, and organized. Before yesterday, you could not even walk into the pantry. Now look at all that floor space.

The kitchen sink area hasn't looked this clean and uncluttered in ages.

This used to be the cupboard where I kept the medicines, first aid supplies, glue, nail polish and other finger nail stuff.

The polish and finger nail stuff are still kept in this cupboard. I also put in it the stuff that I had on the counter, thus making the counter less cluttered.

The lazy-Susan on the left was a royal mess, with sticky spills from honey. The spice cupboard on the right was also a mess ~ but not anymore.

Had I taken a "before" pic of this cupboard, you would have seen dishes, glasses, bowls, and cups crammed everywhere. All the random cups, glasses, and dinnerware made it tough to maintain any sense of order.
As you can see, I pared everything down to the bare essentials.

The tea and coffee cupboard is much neater too. There's no longer a layer of spilled coffee grounds on the bottom shelf.

This cupboard used to hold a lot of plastic food storage containers, countless jar lids, along with some of our meds, the animal meds, sea salt, macrobiotic seasonings, and a few sundry items.

Basically, it was a "catch-all" cupboard.
Now this cupboard mainly holds our meds, first aid stuff, vitamins, along with everything else except for the plastic food containers and tons of jar lids.

I had totally forgotten about the left cupboard because I never used it. But even so, it still required cleaning and organizing.

The lazy-Susan cupboard on the right was a mess with a multitude of bottles and jars, along with sticky spills from the olive oil can.
But now, everything is clean and organized.

Here's Ariana on her bed.

I didn't take a pic of Ariana's room because there is still more work that needs to be done on it. But believe me, it's a whole lot cleaner than it used to be. For one thing, you can see the color and pattern of the rug in the floor.

This view is looking from Ariana's room into my room and through to the other end of the house. (I thought this was a rather "artsy" photo composition.) You just can't see the other rooms because the lights aren't on in them.

This is what my room looked like after it was cleaned out this past Wednesday. There's Gomez up on my bed. The door to the right leads to Ariana's room. The door on the left is one of the tiny closets in my room.

This view is from standing in front of the door that leads to Ariana's room. The mirror that you see is on the door of another small closet. There is an even smaller third closet with shelves, but you can't see it because it is behind the door that leads out of my room.

Here's the same view as before, but a little brighter and without Gomez on the bed.

This is the west wall opposite my bed, looking towards Ariana's door. Note the sloped attic ceilings and the tiny windows just inches off the floor.

Here's that same wall, but from a different angle.

This is the sink in the laundry room. You can actually see the top of the counter.

Here's a peak into the bathroom that's off the laundry room. (The bathroom is to the right of the sink in the laundry room.) The bathroom used to be wallpapered before I painted its walls and ceiling.

Here's the living room. I know that I had a pic of it in a previous blog, but I could not resist taking another pic, but from a different angle. The blue walls look SO much better than the previous yucky wallpapered green walls.

This pic is of the foyer-entrance that's just before my studio.

The plant that you see is my Dracaena marginata. It used to reach the ceiling before I cut it down and rooted the cut sections, which I planted when I re-potted the plant. I had that plant since 1982. It'll be coming with me to Texas because that plant had lived through a lot of memories.

This room used to be Neil's room, which used to be the master bedroom. There are 2 large closets in this one, one of them being a huge walk-in closet.

Here's Neil's room from another angle. That open door leads into the walk-in closet.

This is the linen alcove. You can enter Neil's old room either through the linen alcove (through the door on the left) or through the door from the room at the top of the stairs.

This is the workout room after Ariana and Jeremiah cleaned it yesterday.

These stairs may not look clean. But if you had seen them before, you would have risked breaking your legs going up and down them because Ariana had all sorts of stuff on the stairs and the landing.

The chill room is no longer cluttered with furniture and the detritus of youth.

This is the chill room from another angle. That hand chair was a birthday present that I got for Ariana from Archie McPhee. So many people tried to buy that chair when we had the moving sale.

Here's another view of the chill room.

That door, by the way, is the loft door, or what Ariana calls, "the door that leads to nowhere." The chill room is on the second floor, and the door opens up to just plain air. There is no deck or set of steps outside the door. So the first step out is going to be a doozy.


The front porch also got cleaned. And it was much easier to clean after the moving sale was over.

One more view of the porch.

At another time, I will have to take pix of the rest of the rooms in the house, plus the storage area between the chill room and Ariana's room.

(And we still have not yet even attacked the garage.)

But given the fact that this is a very large house, we busted our butts and did a lot of work to get these decluttered, cleaned up, and organized.

And there will be even more butt-busting to come.

Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Snake In a Tub

Ariana's friend, Chris, who is a licensed reptile rescuer and breeder came over today to help Ariana give her snake Bao a bath.

Bao often has trouble shedding, and the warm water of the bath helped in loosening up the dead skin.

Never having had a bath, Bao did not know what to make of it. In fact, she didn't like it and tried getting out of the tub.

But Chris gently persisited, and in time, Bao became more used to the water.

The bath did Bao good. Her dried skin came off easily. And she was nice and clean in the process.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kitchen Clean Up

The morning began like any other morning ~ feeding the animals and having my morning paper and coffee ritual. And because I had an appointment at 11:00 AM, I spent the time before I had to leave crocheting.

However, once I got back I got right down to business.

Today's project involved cleaning out the pantry and kitchen cupboards. Believe me, that was an all-day project. And even though I decided to call it quits shortly after 6:00 PM, there still remained some work to be done. But not much.

The first area attacked was the pantry. There was buggy food stuff to throw out, unopened food that I will never use to pack away to give to the food pantry, stuff to set aside to pack away, and mucho cleaning and organization.

That took a good long time. I found things that I did not even know that I had, such as cans of tuna and tomato paste.

After I was done cleaning out the pantry, Ariana and I left to pick up Jeremiah, who was ripe and ready to do some cleaning of his own.

Shortly after we came back, Carol stopped by for a brief visit and to bring some extra packing cartons. She was very impressed with the now-pristine and organized state of the pantry.

The next project involved the cupboards above the long counter and matching up lids to plastic food storage containers. There were far more lids than containers.

By now I had managed to fill a 55-gallon garbage bag, which I called a "body bag." There were already 3 bags of food to bring to the pantry.

While I cleaned in the kitchen, Jeremiah and Ariana set themselves to cleaning in the workout room, filling bags of trash, removing unwanted stuff to put across the street for free take-away (which occurred withing minutes), vacuuming the floor, and vacuuming the cobwebs off the walls and ceiling.

Ariana also did a couple of loads of dishes so that I will be able to pack away dishes on another day.

I also had Ariana got through the multitude of bottles of nail polish so see which ones need to be gotten rid of. I went through Ariana's rejects and selected the shades that I liked.


Afterwards, Jeremiah decided that he would have fun playing with the final rejected bottles of polish, while Ariana decided to apply some fake nails that I found and then paint her nails.

At first Jeremiah decided to just paint a plastic plate with the rejected nail polish. And when that was no longer fun, he took the bottles into the workout room and started splattering them, a la
Jackson Pollack (whose birthday Ariana shares, by the way), on a large piece of plywood, first taking care to place another piece of wood underneath it so that it the polish would not stain the floor.

Not being satisfied enough with the splattered nail polish, Jeremiah then took a can of spray paint and began applying it to his chef d'oeuvre.

At this point I had to butt in. The air was heavy with volatile organic compounds. I could smell them in the kitchen. Plus I was dealing with the fumes from the Greased Lightning. So I had to put my foot down and order Jeremiah to stop polluting the air.

Good boy, he listened.

Cleaning out the medicine cupboard presented another challenge in that I had to check the expiration dates of all the medicines, vitamins, and supplements. A lot had to be thrown out. And I found my wrist split which had remained missing for ages.

The 2 recycling buckets were past overflowing ~ so much so that I had to grab the giant green bin from the workout room. That bin was nasty and filthy. So that needed a good application of Greased Lightning as well.

Now I was ready to load the recyclables into that giant green bin. But before I could do that, Jeremiah grabbed it and started tossing it around such that he broke it by having a hole form in the bottom corner. I yelled at him. Chastened, he grabbed a roll of duct tape and patched the hole.

Once I filled that bin up with recyclables, I took the other 2 bins to use to paper and cardboard. There was a lot of cardboard to break down.

After the medicine cupboard was cleaned out, I worked on the lower and upper lazy-Susan cupboards. They were the nastiest ones yet, with sticky spills from honey and cooking oils.

Between the medicine cupboard and the lazy-Susan cupboards, I found more stuff to give to the food pantry. So now I had 4 bags for the pantry.

When the cupboards were all cleaned out, I reorganized everything. The medicines, vitamins, and first aid stuff went into the cabinets above the long counter.

And what was previously the medicine cupboard now held the nail polish, polish remover, cotton balls, and most of the stuff that I had on the counter underneath, such as cookbooks, and mine and Ariana's tax stuff.

I even cleaned out the little cupboard next to the trash compactor. Good thing I did. I forgot that our good meat-carving set was in that cupboard.

So now, the only cupboards that are left is that tiny cupboard to the right of the lower lazy-Susan cupboard, the cupboard underneath the kitchen sink (which is actually in pretty good shape), and the cupboards underneath the long counter.

All of that can wait for another day. I have done enough today.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sloth Takes a Back Seat

Industriousness reigned today.

There was no leisurely crocheting after reading the morning paper. Once the paper was done, I was out the door.

I stopped at the accountant's office to ask a tax-filing question, and then went to the bank, in the same plaza, to deposit a check.

My next stop was to the vet's office to get copies of the dogs' rabies certificates so that I could get new dog tags at town hall.

However, after finding out that Emi was overdue on her rabies, the dog licenses had to wait.

I made an appointment for Emi to get up-to-date. Also, I made appointments for 4 cats to get their shots as well. (Because of the costs involved, I scheduled 3 separate appointments, 2 weeks apart from each other.)

After that, I went home. There, I spent the rest of the morning on the phone making several business calls and paying bills.

Once that was done, it was time to take a brief lunch break.

And after my instant "Hot and Spicy Noodle" bowl, it was back to work.

Today, I finally tackled my bedroom.

There were some odds and ends to pack, stuff to relocate into another area, stuff to throw out, and a major dust buffalo stampede to rustle up.

Also, I took down the curtains that I hung across the room in order to divide my sleeping space from the rest of the room, thus creating a hallway of sorts. The curtains were mighty dirty and were immediately tossed into the wash.

Once the curtains were down, my bedroom underwent a major transformation. The room became large again. Whereas it was dark before, this time it was bright with the afternoon sun streaming through the tiny windows just inches above the floor.

All that was left to do in my bedroom was wash the floor and the woodwork. And I decided that I could save that task for another day.

In perfect timing, shortly after I was done with the my bedroom, Barbara arrived, bringing Ariana home. (Jeremiah was with them, too, but he was fast asleep in the front seat of Barbara's SUV.) With Barbara's visit, there was definitely going to be no washing of floors and woodwork.

Barbara visited for awhile, bringing Rocky, one of her dogs with her. Rocky, an adorable 3-year-old pug, has become as frequent a visitor to the house as Barbara. The dogs get to visit each other, too.

As Barbara visited, I picked up my crochet for the first time today and worked on the tri-color spiral design that I started days ago.

Barbara left shortly after Jeremiah woke up from his nap because it got too cold in the car. He was still sleepy, cranky, and impatient to get home.

Now it's after 5:00 PM, and the sun has recently set.

Other than the loads of laundry that are still washing and drying, I'm pretty much done with my work today.

This time I can feel satisfied with myself that I finally got some work done after spending a few straight days being slothful.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Morning Activity Followed By Afternoon Sloth

At 10:45 AM, Ariana and I left for the T.F. Green airport to pick up Jeremiah, who was flying in from Charlotte, North Carolina.

15 minutes on the road, I put on the radio so that I could listen to the
Inauguration Ceremony. I would have preferred to have watched it at home on my TV, but since I was driving, the radio had to do.

It took us about 45 minutes to get to the airport.

Jeremiah's plane had arrived ahead of schedule. Within 15 minutes we were back in the car, and still several minutes away from Obama being sworn in.

Rick Warren was giving the invocation as we were getting onto Route 95, heading back to Providence.

We were going to my mother's house. On the way there, we stopped at
Burger King to get some lunch, which Jeremiah bought for us.

I stayed in the car, listening to the ceremony, while the kids went inside to get the food.

Finally, I got to hear Obama get sworn in. He sounded nervous at first, jumping the gun in repeating the words. But he made it through.

The kids came out while Obama was giving his acceptance speech. And we got to my mother's before I got to hear the end of it.

Jeremiah was introduced to my mother. She liked him very much, saying that he was a very nice and pleasant young man.

Ariana and Jeremiah went into the living room to eat their food, while I stayed in the kitchen with Mam, giving her half of my
Angry Whopper and some of my fries.

We also had tea together. One thing about my mother, you always have tea at her house.

After tea, it was time to leave. Jeremiah was very tired from being on a plane since 5:00 AM this morning.

On our way out, we saw some of Mam's feral cats that live under the porch.

There was a petite tortoiseshell female who had an orange kitten with a short tail and a cute little smirky expression on his face.

A cat looking like a Himalayan ran out from under the porch, across the yard, and into the adjoining yard on the other street.

There was a black cat that refused to budge from under the porch.

Mam had me scatter some dry cat food on the ground, and she filled up a small plastic container with water and powdered milk.

None of the cats were brave enough to venture forth, despite the temptation of food. The mother and her smirky kitten remained peering out of the opening from under the porch.

Well, there was going to be no chance of any of us being able to pet the cats, let alone hold the kitten, who was really adorable. Perhaps that was for the best, especially since we already have 7 cats, 3 dogs, and 2 snakes.

On the way back, Jeremiah was full of silliness, a by-product of his being over-tired.

As I was driving, I noticed the overcast sky. It was bright and sunny in Providence. Yet we were heading into dreariness.

Because he was exhausted, Jeremiah wanted me to drop him off at his house. But first he felt like stopping for a cup of coffee. So we stopped at
Uncle Jon's in Marion to get Jeremiah a coffee and Ariana a cup of hot spiced cider with an extra shot of caramel. (Way too sweet for my taste.)

Having a full stomach, I did not get anything.

Having dropped off Jeremiah, we headed back home.

At this point, I was feeling a bit sleepy. So I went to take a nap.

I stayed in bed until it was time to feed the animals.

I checked on-line to see how
Gary from Mattapoisett fared on Bromance, which I missed yesterday because Barbara was visiting.

Well, it seemed as though Gary got eliminated. That was too bad. I thought that Gary was one of the nicest and most intelligent contestants on the show. Well, at least he made it through 4 episodes. There are only 2 more left.

When I was done with that, I went to make myself something to eat. And while that was heating up in the toaster oven, I checked on-line the episode of 13: Fear Is Real that I missed last week.

Even though it's a rather silly reality show, I find it intriguing. For one thing, how can people be that stupid and that scared? The stuff is not real. It's TV. No one's going to get hurt, let alone get killed like they do in the horror movies.


Don't these people realize how stupid they look and sound when they are screaming, shrieking and saying "I'm scared. I'm scared. I'm scared?"

(I know for sure that I would have never been picked to be a contestant for a show like that. Besides being well past the "beautiful 20-something" age, which is what all the contestants are, I would have been peeing my pants from laughter instead of fear.)

But that's what the show is all about ~ recreating the scary horror movie scenarios for the contestants to experience. The show does play on the contestants' psychological fears.

And as an added twist, a secret contestant has earned the privilege of being made a "killer," thus enabling him or her (I think it's a "her.") to assist the evil "Master Mind" in his task of "executing" the contestants.

I crocheted while I watched the episode. (Gotta get that afghan done, you know.)

So, the morning and the first part of the afternoon were fairly busy. The rest of the day was devoted to sloth ~ one of my current favorite 7 deadly sins ~ and more crocheting.

Sooner or later I am going to have to once more light a fire under my butt and do some more cleaning and packing. (I need to attack my room and the kitchen, especially the pantry and cupboards.)

Thank God that most of the work has been already done.

Right now I'm enjoying some R and R for awhile.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Light Bulb Moment ~ or ~ I'm So Glad I'm Smart!

Ariana told me that the bathroom light was not working.

Strange. It was working earlier.

Maybe the darn thing blew out. In that case, I would have had to remove the fluorescent tube and bring it with me to Mahoney's Hardware so that I would be certain that I got the right one. And that meant that there was going to be a bit of a wait before there was light in the bathroom.

In the meantime, we would have had to make sure that we took our showers only during the day, when there was light coming in through the window. And if we wanted to use the bathroom, we would have to have the door open and use the light from the laundry room.

The bathroom light also served as a night light. So that meant that I was going to have to use the light above the sink as a night light.

I went to put on that light, and noticed that it, too, wasn't working.

What a coincidence that light was out too.

I had a couple of bulbs in the electrical closet. So it was going to be a simple thing to replace that bulb.

As I unscrewed the bulb, I noticed that the bulb was burned out. Also the frosted bell glass diffuser could use some cleaning.

After cleaning the glass diffuser and replacing the bulb, I went to turn on the light.

Nothing.

Nothing?

I tried 2 other light bulbs, and it was the same thing ~ no light.

Don't tell me that the light fixture blew also? That meant that I was going to have to buy a new light fixture. And while I could possibly figure out how to replace a light fixture, I had NO idea which circuit it was connected to. I would have had to start flipping switches.

Perhaps I just better leave that light fixture problem for the new home owners to deal with.

In the meantime, I figured on removing the fluorescent tube from the bathroom so that I could have it ready to bring to the hardware store.

However, when I removed the tube, I noticed that it showed absolutely NO signs of having been burned out.

Oh?

Gee, I wonder.

Could one of the circuit breakers tripped?

Oh please! Oh please!

Please let it be that the circuit break tripped.

Our electrical closet has 2 circuit boxes. The top circuit box showed all switches in the "on" positive.

Yet, after moving stuff away from the door of the bottom circuit box and opening the door, I found my culprit. It was Number 15.

All the other switches were in the "on" position except for defiant Number 15.

I flipped Number 15 into the "on" position and crossed my fingers.

Let there be light!

And there WAS light!

Eureka!

Ha ha! I did my happy dance and sang "Oh! What a smart girl I am!"

(Well, not really. But I sure felt that way.)

I was happy that the no-light problem was something very simple like a tripped circuit.

I was happy for my "light bulb moment."

My inner geek revelled in its hubristic moment.

When Snow Can Be a Good Thing

Once again, last night Gomez decided that he wanted to go outside in the middle of the night ~ long after I had turned out the light and gone to sleep.

Wanting to get this over and done with quickly, I did not bother to put on all my layers for my descent into the Arctic cold downstairs. I didn't even put on my slippers.

In nothing but a tee shirt, my polar bear PJ bottoms, and bare feet, I led the miscreant mutt downstairs, bracing myself for a blast of cold air.

This time, however, there was none. Putting on the light to check the thermometer on the thermostat, I discovered that the living room was a surprisingly balmy 65 degrees.

How could that be?

I think it was the snow that we had yesterday. It sealed off the cracks through which the cold air made its way into the house.

My God! I was downstairs in bare feet and a tee shirt and didn't even get a single goose bump. Now that's what I call a happy event.

The downstairs remained warm this morning ~ warm enough that I felt confident to bring down my laptop to the living room, where I prefer to have it.

The day was sunny. There was no wind. The top of the snow had a thin crust of ice.

I had a morning appointment, and did not even have to bundle myself up when I went to warm up the car and then clean the crusty snow off my car. A chunk of ice fell into my boot, where it slipped further down as it melted.

Ariana came with me, because after my appointment, we were going to go to BJ's Wholesale Club, where I planned to do some shopping and get gas.

(We needed more Greased Lightning. Also, I wanted to get some disposable plates and cups so that I could pack away most of our dishes. It was getting tough for Ariana to find room in the cabinets for all the clean dishes.)

After we got home and put away the groceries, I shovelled the front walkway. The snow was melting, and was almost slushy.

I briefly thought about tackling the driveway, and decided against it. I wasn't up to battling with dense, heavy snow and chopping away at the ice underneath. Instead, when it came to my driveway, I planned on using the "New Bedford method" of snow removal ~ wait until July.

After coming in, I changed over the laundry. I was doing the bed sheets. It was about time to banish the dog smell and replace it with something fresh.

Once that was done, I settled in to doing some more crochet.

Because Ariana had an appointment at 6:00 PM, I wasn't about to get involved in a multiple-hour cleaning blitz. When I clean, or get involved in any kind of project, I need a large block of time. It's hard for me to get motivated when I know that my day is going to be chopped up.

Also, today was a good time to call my mother, especially since several days passed since I last talked with her. We had a lengthy, though pleasant chat. Afterwards, I called Roma to see how things were with her.

(Tony is still waiting to have surgery, this coming Friday, on his broken arm, which is in a soft cast for the time being.)

The crocheting continued after I got off the phone. I am determined to finish Carol's afghan so that I can start playing with the neat and colorful yarn that friends from the International Free Form Crochet group had sent me.

In fact, I am desperately chafing at the bit to get to those sumptious and delectable yarns. But in the meantime, I feel obligated to complete a promised and late Christmas present.

Less than 2 hours before Ariana's appointment, I heard a cell phone go off. Hey! Wait a minute! That ring tone was from my phone!

It was Ariana's doctor's office. The doctor had to go home sick.

Actually, that was good news for me. Not only did I not have to get into my car and drive down to New Bedford again, I could also crochet some more.

This time I was teaching myself how to crochet a 3-color spiral. It was looking pretty cool.

And just think, it was late afternoon and I was still crocheting in the kitchen, wearing only one more layer than what I normally wore upstairs.

Hey! When the downstairs is warm, I am happy. Life is good.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Garbage Moment

For those of you who enjoy the comic strip Rose Is Rose, like I do, you may be familiar with Jimbo's "garbage moments."

To Jimbo, taking out the trash is a transcendental experience, where he quietly stands under the stars and calmly takes in the awe of the Universe.

My garbage moment was light years away, and certainly not a transcendental experience.

For one thing, it got off on the wrong foot ~ literally.

I was putting on one of my boots when I lost balance, tripped over a garbage bag, and had poor Gypsy break my fall. But if it hadn't been for Gypsy getting in my way, my forward momentum would have probably had me tumbling down the stairs head first.

Instead, I just ripped the left knee on my jeans. And I suspect that I will have bruises on that corresponding knee, as well as on my hip, upper left arm, and left hand.

That's certainly not the way Jimbo Gumbo would have taken out the trash.

And after I put 8 bags and 4 burned-out fluorescent tubes on the curb, I most certainly did not look up to the stars and take in the awe of the Universe.

Besides, the stars weren't out. It was snowing. Again.

However, if it weren't for this "taking out the trash" prat fall, I probably would have not thought about Rose Is Rose.

Rose Is Rose is one of my favorite comic strips.

It's a delightful blend of fantasy and reality.


Pasquale has adventures flying around on his dream ship. Rose plays guitar to the birds in the trees, who appreciate her serenade. The drain monster is constantly thwarted from getting his snack of little kid toes.

One of the comic strip's most outstanding features is its positive tone and its cheerful outlook on the world and life in general.


There are certainly no ├╝ber-angst-ridden super heroes lurking around in Rose Is Rose.

Rose and Jimbo are still madly in love with each other, and they are devoted doting parents to their only child Pasquale.

In fact, I love how much Rose and Jimbo are in love with each other. When Rose finds a secret love note in her tea cup, there are times when I wish that I would find a love note hidden next to my tooth brush or in the pocket of my hoodie.

Rose and Jimbo's love is a playful romance. Love is meant to be fun, even delightfully silly at times. Yet, along with its fun, delight, and silliness, love is always up-front and unashamedly unabashed.

So I do confess, Rose and Jimbo's love speaks to my incurable (though repressed) romantic yearning. And witnessing their unique romantic playfulness sparks feelings of wistfulness in me.

As much of an unrequited romantic sap as I may be, there is also that other side of me that resonates with Rose's alter-ego ~ Vicki the Biker Chick.

Many of us have alter-egos. While mine may not be that of a biker chick, Rose's alter-ego is one that I can appreciate. And while I have not given myself the time to fully develop an alter-ego, I can safely say that my alter-ego would probably be just as edgy and ballsy.

It would probably have super powers, too.

Cocooning

Today was a day to stay home.

It was precipitating. First there was snow, then rain, then more snow.

And with the weather behaving thus, I had no desire to leave my house. Why! I even played hookie from church!

I figured with the messy state of the weather and the shortage of parking at Good Shepherd, I really did not feel like venturing out to see if there was any parking by the church.

It was just as well that I stayed home.

Linda called at 10:00 AM, when I normally would have been at church. She and Gordie were going to be over in an hour to take Ryan's stuff back to their house.

Apparently Ryan had changed his mind about coming to Texas with us. And with our pending move, it made little sense for Ryan's stuff ~ or Ryan ~ to stay at the house.

The only thing we have left of Ryan's is his sweet rat, named Dime. But even Dime will have to eventually leave.

The rat is so nice and lovable that Ariana told Ryan that we want to bring him to Texas with us. But Ryan said, "No way!"

Seeing that I did not go to church, and therefore did not run any errands today (nor pick up the Providence and Boston Sunday papers), the whole day was pretty much spent crocheting.

A snowy/rainy day was a perfect day for crocheting.

I started doing the crocheting in the kitchen, because today was nowhere near as cold as the past few days.

But come 2:30, I decided to take my yarn upstairs and crochet while watching Into the Wild on my laptop.

Despite it's expected sad ending, it was an interesting movie with interesting characters.

It even showed a place in California ~
Slab City ~ that I would some day love to visit.

I would especially love to see
Salvation Mountain. Not only is this enormous and eye-catching site one man's testament to Jesus and God's love, it is also a massive art installation that is constantly evolving.

Once the movie was done, it was time to feed the animals and then call Neil.

Unlike me, who was relishing spending the day cocooned in my house, Ariana was getting an annoying case of cabin fever. She had wanted to convince me to take her to a friend's house in North Dartmouth.

No way, Baby! I was determined to spend the rest of this day inside, not having to brave any elements outside.


Why, I don't even want to go outside to put out the trash for tomorrow's morning pick-up. However, I will have to force myself to leave the comforting warmth of my bedroom to perform that odious task.

Tomorrow will be another day ~ a day to emerge from the cocoon. But will I emerge as a butterfly? That will remain to be seen.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

House Listing

Well, the house has finally been listed on-line. But in order to see it, I cannot just copy and paste the web address.

When I tried that, the link took me to a page that was in Spanish, and that showed a property that was well over $600 million. That certainly was not my house.

So, if anyone wants to see the listing of my house, you first have to go to Coldwell Banker's Quick Search page. When you get there, just put "70861157" in the box that asks for the MLS #, and then hit "List." And there you go.

Now we just have to keep out fingers crossed, especially since the pix on the listing page display a multitude of sins.

But who knows. Maybe to someone this would be exactly the type of property they are looking for.

Sure, it needs a lot of up-dating and repair, but it is a house FULL of potential.

In fact, before Texas was even a thought, much less a tiny blip on the radar screen, it had been my dream to get the house fixed and renovated the way it deserved to be.

How I was going to do that was a different story, because we certainly did not have the resources to make that sort of dream come true (other than to try our luck with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition). But it was still a dream that I never lost sight of.

But now, with our pending (whenever that will be) relocation to Texas, I'll be trading that dream for another one that has yet to be determined.

In the meantime, I'm keeping my fingers crossed and saying my prayers that the means to materializing this new dream will beat all real estate sale odds and arrive before it's time to pack away the cold weather gear.