Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Big Blowhard

As I was putting the finishing touches on my last blog, I heard the throaty roar of the "Purple Blur" in my driveway.

Jeremiah had arrived.

And now he is busy at work with the big-ass backpack leaf-blower that he borrowed from his boss, making all those dead and dried leaves scurry for their lives.

I'm so very grateful for the help that I've been getting to make this place look nicer and more attractive.


These past two days have been busy days.

Barbara came over yesterday, and the two us worked at cleaning the kitchen. Barbara manned the broom and mop while I cleaned all the other surfaces.

Even Carol was over, helping out by weeding the front embankment.

In addition to cleaning, I brought out all of my plants on to the front porch, with the exception of the colorful coleus which I had grace the kitchen table.

I replaced the glass windows in the front and back screen doors with screens so that we could have some fresh air circulating.

After all, yesterday was a gloriously warm and sunny day. It would have been a shame to keep all that marvelously fresh air out of the house.

And I even repaired the broken tubular wind chime.

Today I spent nearly six hours flat out cleaning the front porch.

The front of the house was appallingly grimy. And I could not allow all that grime to stay ~ not with the open house that's scheduled for this coming Saturday. After all, I want this house to make a good first impression before people step foot into it.

My original intent had been to spray the sides of the house with a bleach and water solution in order to lighten the color. After all, that trick worked very well on the mildewy ceiling in the bathroom.

As I sprayed the diluted bleach solution, I could see the transformation taking place before my eyes. However, the bleach was also reacting with something on the shingles and woodwork. So, even though the front of the house did look much, much cleaner than it had before, there were also these large orange stains all over the place.

I could have been a lazy bones and left it at that. But I was simply not comfortable having all these orange stains all over the house.

So, with the failure of my "work smarter not harder" approach, I was forced to concede to my defeat and look for a more effective way to tackle those stains.

It looked like I was going to have to work harder after all.

Instead of just a spray bottle filled with diluted bleach solution, my arsenal now consisted of a spray bottle of Greased Lightning, scrub brushes, a bucket of clean water (that had to get dumped and changed frequently), two sponges, and a rag.

I sprayed on the Greased Lightning, scrubbed like mad, then rinsed it off with the clean sponges.

For the most part, the orange stains came off the shingles. However, it was a different story for the white painted woodwork and gingerbread at the top of the porch. The paint was so deeply cracked all over the place that the scrub brush just could not reach into all those tiny crevasses. And the brush could not reach into the narrow spaces of the gingerbread.

Finally I gave up. I've done all that I could, and I was getting tired. I decided to focus my remaining energy on scrubbing the deck of the porch.

With all the scrubbing done, I grabbed a hose and sprayed down the house, trim, gingerbread, and deck.

Soaking wet from the wind blowing the sprayed water all over me, I decided to call it a day.

I put away my arsenal, ate a hot Italian turkey sausage, and took a much-needed shower.

With all this work, I think I can safely say that I earned my keep today.

My Favorite Backyard Tree

This has always been my favorite tree in that its trunk looks like two lovers embracing. And in the spring time it is especially stunning with its delicate pink blossoms.

This tree is a survivor. The two flowering plum trees on either side of it had died and had to be cut down.

Unfortunately, this beautiful tree is slowly succumbing to the same fate as its former flowering companions.

Each year more limbs have died, leaving large gaping spaces in its formerly lush canopy.

And you can see that there are no major limbs at all on the back side of the tree.

But still, it's a very beautiful tree. And I want to remember this tree as it was because after we move to Texas I will never see it again.

Pissed Off Piss Pot Pete

This past Saturday the dogs and Stevie got an unexpected treat, courtesy of Attila.

Attila had been running around without his Piddle Pants, and I finally had an opportunity to slap them on his butt while he was eating away up on the wall shelf in the library.

In hindsight (pardon the pun) that was probably not a good idea. After all, a cool cat like Attila does not gladly suffer having his coolness compromised, especially by being forced to wear ridiculously and insultingly uncool hot pink Piddle Pants.

You can see how pissed off he looks.

Anyhow, shortly after I put the pants on him, I heard a crash in the library. In his extreme ire, Attila had knocked a very full dog-size bowl of cat food onto the floor.

All that very expensive prescription cat food everywhere!

I honestly did not feel like taking a broom and sweeping up all that kitty kibble and putting it back into the bowl with copious amounts of dirt and dust bunnies mixed in.

So, I took the lazy bones route instead.

I brought in the dogs and Big Fat Steve and put them to work.

That was one task that the feline and canine clean-up crew gladly took to heart.

Gomez very much enjoyed his cat food treat.

And Big Fat Stevie made sure that every single little crumb was picked up.

The next day, there was nary a kitty kibble crumb in sight.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A gorgeous day like today called for a picnic at the Miles Standish State Forest.

The 4 of us went ~ Carol, Ariana, Jeremiah, Jeremiah's dog Shady, and me.

Jeremiah has been going to Miles Standish ever since he was little. He knows the area well, and knows the best picnic spots.

Our spot was not too far from the water, which was sparkling crystal blue on this glorious sunny day.

Here's view of Curlew Pond from our picnic area.

Ariana and Carol are setting up the picnic table, with a menacing, machete-wielding Jeremiah approaching from behind.

Yeah, Jeremiah may look menacing. But lookout for the knife at the bottom of the pic.

Jeremiah's cooking the burgers while Ariana is roasting her hot dog on a stick.

The food looks about done. And Ariana's hot dog is nicely charred, the way she likes it.

No, Carol is not annoyed. It's just that the sun is very bright.

Here's Ariana with her hot dog on a stick and grill-master Jeremiah with spatula in hand. Sure beats a machete in hand.

Here's Jeremiah monkeying around in the tree.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Big Fat Stevie's New Look

Oh God! It's SO tempting pretend that I'm Mrs. Slocombe from Are You Being Served, and make a double entendre and sexual innuendo-charged comment about Stevie's current state of appearance. But I won't.

Anyhow, looking at Stevie's pic, you may be able to make a good guess about what kind of comment that could have been made.

Yesterday, I took Stevie to Petco for a bath and a shave. He really needed it.

Because Stevie is so fat, he cannot wash himself properly the way a cat of normal size could. As such, after several months of being unable to groom himself, Stevies's fur gets so dirty and greasy that it really discourages one from wanting to pet and cuddle with him. Not only that, his fur gets clotted with these tiny micro-mats that are really too small to be able to effectively remove with a de-matting blade.

Poor Stevie was so filthy that we really had no choice but to get him to the groomer toute de suite.

Unlike most cats, Stevie is a really laid-back cat. Travelling in a car is no problem for him. He just just himself comfy in the passenger seat, occasionally trying to make himself on my lap. But because I drove a standard, with my clutch foot having to go up and down several times, my lap was not the most comfortable place to sleep on.

Everyone loves Stevie, and that was no exception at the groomer. They loved him there too.

After I picked him up and paid for his bath and lion cut, I decided to poke around Petco in search for some Frontline flea and tick stuff.

So I grabbed a shopping cart and put Stevie in the basket. He just sat there, as mellow as ever, surveying the scene from his perch. Never once did he attempt to jump out. Stevie did not even squirm. He just stayed put, sitting pretty.

Doesn't he just look pretty in his large grey cow patches and lion cut? And now we cannot get enough of petting him and cuddling with him.

Some Anachronistic Internet Video Fun

I came across these 2 funny videos very recently that good-naturedly poked fun at two Internet giants ~ YouTube and Facebook.

God! Don't you just love it how (that ubiquitous) "they" nailed the 80s?

And if that wasn't funny enough, try wrapping your mind around having the Internet in the 30s in this amusing video about Facebook etiquette.

Wasn't that "computing machine" a hoot?

Take That, Swiffer!

No longer will I be a slave to buying new Swiffer WetJet cleaner solution bottles.

Swiffer USA thought it had consumers deep in its pockets by designing non-refillable bottles and pricing its cleaning solutions at outrageous prices.

After all, people were more than willing to pay these high prices for the convenience and efficiency of a Swiffer WetJet, which is actually more superior to a sponge or string mop.

But guess what?

Those bottles are refillable. All it takes is soaking the cap in a little bit of boiled water for about a minute or two to soften the plastic. Then wrap a dish cloth around the cap and twist. And voilĂ ! It's off.

Next, rinse out the bottle to remove all residue of the cleaning solution (so that you don't accidentally mix incompatible cleaning solutions), and mix up your own favorite cleaning solution. The cap pops back on easily.

I was SO tickled when I discovered this information on-line this morning, especially since I ran out of the cleaning solution while in the middle of washing the bathroom and laundry room floors.

Not wanting to run out to the supermarket before the mail came, and not wanting to delay my cleaning until it did, I went on-line to find out how to refill a Swiffer bottle.

I guessed that someone had already thought of a way to easily make that non-refillable bottle into a refillable one. And sure enough, I was right.

(Man! I sure love Google and the Internet! With them I can find out just about anything I need.)

In addition to finding out how to refill a Swiffer bottle, I also discovered what other people used in place of those expensive Swiffer pads.

Some people used old onesies that their babies no longer wore. Other Swiffer pad substitutes that worked were old tee shirts, old flannel shirts, finger towels and dish towels ~ basically anything that the Velcro strips on the Swiffer mop head could grip.

One of the great thing about these substitutes is that they can be re-used. Just throw the soiled pad substitutes into the washing machine, and they'll be ready for the next time you need to wash your floors.

Just think of all the dollars you'll be saving just by refilling your old Swiffer bottles and making your own Swiffer pad substitutes from recycled materials!

Take that, Swiffer!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Dumbfounding Disappearing Diaper Dilemma

It's a mystery that yet remains to be solved.

Late Friday morning, just before Ariana left with her friends, I changed the pad in Attila's diaper and slapped his fancy pants back on his butt. Then I left to go do the altar for the church's Palm Sunday service and run some errands.

When I came back, some 2 or 3 hours later, there was Attila trotting around the house, going commando, with his bell joyfully jingling.

Ariana was home at the time and insisted ~ to this very day ~ that she never touched Attila's diaper.

All of us ~ Ariana, Jeremiah, and I ~ have not yet been able to find the diaper. And somewhere in this house lies a (possibly laden) diaper that has escaped our sight and detection of my sharp and sensitive sense of smell.

However, Attila's free-wheeling fancy free days are numbered.

I ordered 2 more diapers on-line ~ one being a bright pink contraption especially designed for cats and the other a custom-made pair of pants in a jaunty leopard print. They should be here within the week.

Enjoy your days now, Attila.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's Official

The sun has not yet gone down on this rainy day.

I can hear the birds getting ready to roost. And in between the road noise, I can hear the spring peepers.

Yes! Spring is finally officially here!

I can finally pack my winter boots.