Friday, July 30, 2010

How to Clean the (Kiddie) Pool

Kiddie pools can get pretty funky pretty quickly. But what's the best way to clean them??
You can get down on your hands and knees in the hot sun and scrub n' cuss away. Or you can do it a little differently. Think Sam from Benny & Joon.

First - get on a nice thick pair of socks. I put on my fleece socks (usually reserved for rocking Birk sandals in the Winter) - they're purple and green and perfect.

Second - Get some good music & play it through headphones. If you don't have an MP3 armband holder & are lacking pockets, tuck the player inside your pants or underwear. This will provide double protection from water.

Third - Now take a hold of your soul!! -- sorry .. I wasn't really jamming to Kenny Loggins. But I was in the pool dancing kinda like Kevin Bacon.

Headphone (ear buds?) in, music rocking, socks on, I step in the pool and get to dancing. You wanna drain almost all the water out of the pool, but leave enough to slosh around just a bit. Or you can do this in a completely empty kiddie pool after a rain storm. Your choice, no rules set in stone.

And that is where I was this afternoon. Dancing like a fool in the empty kiddie pool with big, thick, fleece socks on that were soaking wet. Sliding around like Kevin Bacon in Footloose. Cleaning & boogeying.

I set the pool up on it's end to finish getting the gunk out. It's an inflatable pool & it was fun to shoot it with the hose, GIRL POWER ROCKS!, till it fell back over into place.

A pair of blueish-green eyes under a mop of red hair appeared in the window, watching me. I was now out of the pool, but I know I had been being watched for a bit. Benny & Joon came back to mind and I was letting my feet dance like muffins.

And .. there you go. A much more fun way to clean out a kiddie pool. Now, excuse me while I run to turn off the water, I think my pool floweth over!

Monday, July 26, 2010

From Grandma's House

The boys spent the night at Grandma's house this past Saturday night. It's always interesting to here the stories from the nights they spend there. I thought I'd share one of the latest ones with y'all. We're so proud.

The Scene: The outside patio at Grandma's house. Shannon, Tristan, & Grandma are hanging out. Grandma has a fast-food cheeseburger out there.

Grandma: Are y'all ready to go inside?

Shannon: Yea, cuz you're cheeseburger smells like ass.

Grandma: Shannon! Where'd you learn that?!?

Shannon: I didn't say it. My eye did.

Grandma: Ok, where'd your eye learn that?

Shannon: My other eye.

Grandma: Where'd THAT eye learn it from?

Shannon: Tristan.

... You gotta admit it, that kid is gonna have some really interesting excuses as he grows up!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Remodeling Update - yea..

I wanted to think of a cuter title. Like "Hell's Kitchen" but too many people know that as a tv show. Or "Dog Days of Summer" but I'm not upset with my dogs. So .. yea ...

The last time I blogged about the remodeling we were entering month 2. We now have not had ANY work done since June 24th. We haven't seen him since the 27th, the day we left for the beach, and haven't talked to him since either, despite numerous phone calls and even a couple of visits by his house. Wonderful.

We've had the City Building Inspector out. Apparently our house was VERY, VERY dangerous for us to be living in. The bastard .. I'm sorry, contractor, took the chimney down beginning on May 6th. It was an old brick chimey that vented the gas boiler heater and the gas-powered hot water heater. He was supposed to re-route it all and vent it out the side of the house & up the outside wall, above the roof. He never did. He capped off the old chimney at the kitchen floor with some wood, let it be, and hopped on to the laundry room. He NEVER went back to the chimney, meaning all those gases were just venting into the house. Luckily, we have LOTS of fans and a couple carbon monoxide detectors.
Per the City Inspector's demanding, we've now had the water heater temporarily vented out so that we all can still live in our home.

We've had to replace a piece of "wall" behind the kitchen sink because where he removed the laminate that was there and left it with the old, exposed walling, black mold had begun to grow. Again, not safe.

But what about Harmon?? Well, legally we've had to send him a letter letting him know that he has 15 days to complete the work (hey, his new girlfriend signed for the letter on the 15th, so let the countdown begin!) or give us ALL of our money back. Failure to do either will result in legal action being taken. --- Since I don't know who all reads this (he has seen the blog before), I will keep mum about the next steps there ... for now.

We've had other contractors in, trying to get estimates to finish the job. So far, the estimates have ranged from roughly $12,000 to between $20,000 & $30,000. Yikes!!

On an odd note, we've had two contractors who haven't given us their estimates yet! I called them both on Friday but havne't heard anything back from either of them yet. Not even an "I'm too busy" or "I simply don't wanna" call. If I don't hear from them soon I'll let you know. In fact, I'll be so nice as to let you know their names too. They're both local guys.

And that is where we are for now. Till July 30th .. which is, of course, only 5 days away. We had been taking bets on Facebook on when he would show back up & when the work would be done. There were a lot of "Never!" votes. I can't call it until all is said and done with, but I PROMISE there will be a winner or winners as the case may be.

In the mean time, since I didn't post any photos on here, feel free to amuse yourself (if you want to anyway) and check out the remodeling hell photos here: --- these are the photos of all the things left undone, done wrong, 1/2 done, fucked up, and things that left us lucky to be alive.

** PS ~ At this point I can very, very safely recommend NEVER EVER EVER hiring David Wayne Harmon to work on your home!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Optimism in the heat of Summer

This blog is dedicated to some optimistic friends, without whom I would cuss a lot more: Sadie (, Cat, and Ryanne.

You've heard of 'Love in the time of Cholera', well this is kinda like that. But harder. I think. I haven't actually read all of the book. And I can't convince Justin to watch the movie. But it feels harder, so it is .. at least in my mind.
Like I noted in my last blog, Summer & I don't get along. So, it is especially difficult for me to be optimistic when I am sweating my ass off. --- Actually, I wish it were that easy. All this sweating and my ass ain't shrunk a bit!

But how can I possibly be optimistic with everything that is going on???


*The clutter is SHEER LIVING HELL to be sure - actually, it isn't sheer, I can't see through it, I can't see a damn thing!! I can't turn around in this house without bumping into something. I can't find anything. I broke down into near tears because I couldn't find a saucepan, only to discover it was in the oven, which I thought I had looked in the other day -- apparently I either didn't look far enough into it or the gas fumes from me trying to put myself out of my suffering have fucked with my memory.
~But on the Bright Side ~ I am so fed up with the clutter this may well cure me of my cluttering ways. I am a clutter bug. And if it doesn't fully cure me it may well semi-cure me. Or maybe just cure me long enough to give the house a thorough organizing. Either way, it'll likely have a positive effect.

*After having lost the saucepan, and feeling like/knowing the house is a wreck, I have to admit to feeling like a complete failure as a housewife. Like I should be branded in the middle of town square and made to wear a scarlet letter 'F' or 'H' -- what fucking letter would you wear for that one??? Anyway.
~But on the Bright Side ~ Justin called me from Kroger's today. He couldn't find the aspirin. He said all they had was low dose. I assured him they had aspirin. Told him to look for something called "Buffrin" and that it was likely in a blue box. Then to look next to it for the generic stuff. He found it. Yes, I know I've gone through there a million times, unable to find something that I KNOW should be there, but explaining it to him made me feel better. Kinda like the time I had to walk him through how to use the Kitchen Aid mixer. Hopeless husbands make housewives feel accomplished. It's scientifically proven.

*The renovation is dragging on and on and on. I'm breaking out due to stress. The house is a wreck. I can't find anything. The kitchen is barely usable.
~But on the Bright Side ~ I can blame all the zits & break-outs, the insane clutter and mess of the house, all my stress, and my inability to have dinner ready on time on David Harmon .. aka the Magically Disappearing Contractor. And no-one argues with me. They pat me on the shoulder and offer sympathy & understanding.

*Foster, who turns 3 months old tomorrow & is almost as tall as our full-grown lab, and likely weighs close to 40lbs has out-grown his sleep-all-the-time puppy stage. He's now somewhere between the Toddler - 3 year old stage. He gets into EVERYTHING!! He brings plants in from outside. He has figured out how to unzip their eco-friendly dog beds, rip open the inside, and likes to chew on the "made from recycled plastic bottles" stuffing. -- Do I need to worry about BPA when he swallows that stuff??
~But on the Bright Side ~ His voice is beginning to deepen. If you've never heard a dog's voice start to drop, it is REALLY funny. Not as funny as the video clip of my little brother shrieking "STOP IT CARRIE!!" in a cracking voice, but still pretty damn funny. He also chases his tail, 'round and 'round and 'round. He trips. He slips and falls. He manages to sleep curled up around the toilet. He drools. He barks for food, sometimes just looking at the spot where is dish belongs and barking until we obey his commands. And, speaking of commands, he is learning them very well. And, he took his first full walk to the Farmer's Market today .. a little over a block away. Until now we've been having to drive there, get out and walk him around the market, and drive home. (English Mastiff pups aren't supposed to be walked very far when they're young because their bones & joints are growing so fast that, if they are exercised too much, you can damage them!) And, to top it off, he's still adorable as all get-out, so it makes up for him getting into everything.

*With everything else going on, the kids can quickly drive me up the wall. And I drive them up the wall. And they drive each other up the wall. My walls are full of tracks going up!!!
~But on the Bright Side ~ They love Tom Waitts song 'Big in Japan'.

They call it the "Silly Man Music" and will tend to, very randomly start singing it. Tristan originally would go through Kroger singing "Hey, but I'm Big in Your Pants" very loudly. It took a while to convince him it was "Japan" and not "in your pants". Misheard lyrics are twice as funny as the real ones.
Also, Shannon's learning to read has provided moments of peeing-in-pants laughter.

Shannon was reading this cup, from Outer Banks Brewery in NC, out loud. "Brewing, Cussing, Music." No, no Shannon, it's pronounced "Quiz-een" not "cussing." --- One day, when we open our brewery, I'm going to make that into a shirt - Brewing, Cussing, Music.

Here's to Optimism. And brewing, cussing, and music.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Heat & No AC

Welcome to Summer mother fuckers. Today it was 99 degrees in good ole Southwest VA. A couple of degrees hotter and we would've broken the record for the day. Personally, a couple of degrees doesn't matter that much. It is HOT!!!
We live in the Blue Nymph. A house that was built (primarily) in 1890. We have no central air. For that matter, thanks to our contractor, we have no heat either, but that is another blog. When we bought the house from my mother there were window AC units, but gradually they have found themselves new homes (thank you Freecycle!).
Let's get some things straight. I HATE Summer. I will like Summer when I have an in-ground pool in my own yard that I can take a dip in anytime I want to. Until then, I hate Summer. This is a stance I have had for many, many years now.
I also hate air conditioning. It's an odd hatred though. I LOVE cold weather. So, I have to admit to loving the suddenly cool air. But AC is false. And I hate it for that.
We aren't meant to be wearing long pants/jeans in the Summer. We aren't meant to be wearing UGG (UGLY) boots in warm weather. We have lost the sense of what Seasons REALLY mean. This is why I hate AC.
What I find truly both interesting and annoying is that people who bitch non-stop about the heat seem to think that, because I don't like AC and because I choose not to waste energy by having AC, I am not allowed to express displeasure with the heat in general.
To them I say "FUCK YOU!"
It IS hot. I don't think less of people who have AC because I am all too well aware of the fact that different dwellings hold heat differently and that all people have their own personal needs (and that is meant as needs, not wants). For example: this house is tolerable without AC in the dead heat of Summer. Our basement level apartment wasn't. The majority of Americans (people in general???) have forgotten that the type of dwelling you live in DOES matter.

But, that doesn't mean that it isn't hot. It doesn't mean I detest the heat any less. I am allowed to detest the heat and not buy into central air.
What do we do? We open windows. You know, those things you look out of at your neighbors to see what they're doing. We open them. We hear the birds sing and the crickets chirp, and we even smell the skunks' spray.
We put fans in the window. When it is cooler outside than in, we have the air blowing in. When it is hotter outside than in, we reverse the fans and have them blowing the air out.
We learn to stay still. We embrace being Southern and the slower pace of life. .... Take a deep breath ... inhale ... exhale ... feel the breeze and be grateful for it. We drink lots of water and find refuge in cooling herbs. Like mint. Hence Mint Juleps. Duh.
We collect rainwater so that we can attempt to keep plants alive, and we fill buckets with water as we're shutting off showers for the same reason (you'd be amazed how much water is wasted in the time between deciding your shower is done and turning off the water completely). We put hunks of ice in our dogs' water dish, especially now that we have a breed that is sensitive to heat.
We've moved our chickens back to their "Winter Chalet." They'll be blocked from the morning sun by the hops, from the evening sun by the pear tree, and they'll have the coop to flee to if all else fails. We will deal with, and learn from, any potential losses due to heat stroke.
We've hung up blackout curtains in the boys' room, though that doesn't stop them from sleeping shirtless or on the floor when the heat gets to be too much. We set up blankets and make-shift bedding on the wooden floors to keep them comfortable.
This is how we live without AC. We don't skip around, singing with giddy when the temperatures are near record breaking. But we do understand what it truly means to live in the environment when the temps get so high.
We don't spend the majority of our lives living and being in settings that are approximately 72 degrees and then bitching non-stop when it is hotter or colder than that. The walk to the car, or from the car to the store is so damn torturous isn't it???
Live it, embrace it, man-up and get the fuck over it. This is what the Seasons truly mean. Buy some seasonally appropriate clothing and learn to wear it. Accept the fact that it is hot. That you are sweaty, even when you've just gotten out of the shower. That the Summer isn't the same as what you were promised by the endless stream of Summer advertising throughout the Winter and Spring. That bugs bite. That there ARE bugs. That sandals are cute but sandals with heels are simply stupid when you're walking around in a wild field. Don't bitch to me about your sprained ankle and bug bites because you failed to dress for the weather and where you were. You won't get much sympathy here.
Welcome to Summer, bitches.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Remodeling ~ Month 2

The photos in this post were taken of the most recent work done. They were taken on June 24th. Seriously, no work has been done since then.

As you can tell, tile has started getting laid in the kitchen. At least something is getting laid in the kitchen, I just feel like I am getting screwed, and it ain't pleasant.

In some fairness, we were out of town last week, so no work could be done. Well, Harmon was supposed to be at his shop (aka home) building the cabinets for the back hallway and the island for the kitchen. Since I haven't seen him and haven't been able to get him to return my calls, I am not sure anything has been done.

The estimated work time was for 3-4 weeks. Not months, weeks. I realize things take longer than usually estimated, but let me just throw something out there: work would go a helluva lot quicker if Harmon showed up before 10, didn't take the hour or more for lunch, and stayed past three. Oh yea, and if he showed up everyday it would be nice too.

There is not one completely finished room or area. Everything still needs some degree of finishing. Right now the microwave and toaster are sitting in the back hallway, on TOP of the new freezer.
The flue for the boiler heater has not been put in yet, so should we hit a serious cold spell we'd seriously be screwed. The hood & vent for the stove hasn't been put in yet ... and I don't think it's helping a lot just sitting in a box in the back hallway, where it's been sitting for a month and a half now.

Needless to say, this has gone downhill and it has gone downhill very quickly. Harmon seems to be a truly cursed man whose ass is being kicked by Karma. First he's left his wife. Then there has been the various bouts of sicknesses (the flu bug, strep throat, high temperatures), then he's moved in with a new girlfriend & that place needs fixing up, back to pissed off ex-wife turning off his phone, and just today I get told that his step-mother had a heart attack "4 or 5 days ago" and so that is why he now can't answer the phone, show up for work, or return phone calls. --- The man is cursed with wicked bad luck I tell you. (FYI - I only found out about the step-mom thing because I went to his new apt. and knocked on the door until his girlfriend FINALLY opened it)

The work is truly gorgeous, when it gets done. But that's the kicker is that it isn't getting done. Work was originally supposed to START on April 19th or 20th. It finally started on May 6th. It's now July 6th and we have a Punch List with 28 things on it. Well, 26, two got marked off.

I am not happy. I am beyond not happy. I am way beyond not happy.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

When Obesity Ain't So Bad

~ This is NOT a photo of me. I didn't even take this photo. I borrowed it from here:

The majority of people look forward to Summer. Personally, I'm not that huge of a fan of it and don't intend to be until I have an in-ground swimming pool in my own yard that I can spend the day in as I please. But I digress.
Most people do look forward to Summer. And although most women look forward to Summer it also brings about a stressor that rivals only holiday dinners with extended family. Getting a bathing suit. Not only getting a bathing suit, but then having to wear the damn thing. In public. Suddenly, holiday dinners of 20+ family members only vaguely pretending to like each other seems like a flippin' breeze.

Once, before kids, I could confidently rock a bikini top and cut-off jean shorts. I wasn't brave enough to strut my stuff in the bikini alone, but with the shorts, I was able to strut. Big tits were a blessing, as was a fairly athletic figure.

Then came kids. Well ... it started before the kids. Working in a bakery with piles of cake tops around didn't help. Neither then did my new-found love of dark beer. That REALLY didn't help things. Then came the kids. And I was naive enough to think my stomach would return to it's fairly flat shape after I pushed the baby out. HA!!! HA HA HA HA!!! (Yea, I know, all mothers are rolling in the floor laughing at that one)

So, now I am wise enough to have my one-piece that has a little skirt on it. It is feminine and covers me up enough that I am not too horrified being seen in it. But still ... feeling OK with it in private is one thing, hitting the beach in it is another.

And that is about the time something dawned on me. There is an upside to the current obesity epidemic. EVERYONE is fat!

Years ago, I was up seeing Ziggy Marley play at a college. Someone commented on being self-conscious about the way they danced ("hippie dancing" for lack of a better term), but then they opened their eyes and everyone was dancing just as "badly" as they were, so who cares?
This Summer, I realized about the same thing. Everyone is fat. The only people who are rocking bikinis, or at least who are rocking them and SHOULD be rocking them (there are WAY too many people wearing them who have no business being in them!!!) are roughly 16 year old girls who haven't yet had kids or started really drinking. There is a very, very small percentage of grown women who can honestly rock a bikini, but they are a dying breed.

I am still looking forward to re-joining the gym and working out again. I want to get back in shape because of health reasons, not bathing suit reasons. But, until then, I am feeling a little better about hitting the beach as-is.

Guess there is a silver lining to every situation, even obesity.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Points of Nutcaseness

I'm introducing a new little feature of sorts that you're going to see on the blog from time to time. It's called "Points of Nutcaseness". I am to wonky to have Points of Wisdom, so this is my version of it. My little aha moments. The yea-man! moments. So .. here we go.

It's no secret that Justin is younger than me (I'll be 33 this year & Justin is 29). It is no secret either that he is young looking. I am glad he looks young, it is a wonderful thing and I think he's gorgeous.
However, what I do have issue with and take exception to is being called his mother. It's not like it's just happened once either. As of the current count (there is a chance I may have blocked out some moments), I've been called his mother FIVE TIMES!! FIVE FRIGGIN TIMES Y'ALL!! I've blogged about this before, so I won't ramble on too much here.

So ... what's my Point of Nutcaseness here??On a recent trip we stopped at a brewery for some samples. Justin, me, and the kids - the whole family. The brewery was AWESOME (check back, and soon there will be a link to the review of said brewery here). We saunter up to the bar, get the kids some water, and order a round of samples. Justin gets carded. I don't. The guy comments about Justin looking young and it being a good thing that he'll be grateful for as the years go on. And here it is ...

The Point of Nutcaseness ---- ALWAYS ID THE GAL!!!!

As I am sitting there listening to how great it is that Justin looks young, I begin to age. Maybe it's visible, maybe it's in my head. It had been a long drive to get to where we were that day, I was tired, but I was aging quicker than should be explained away so easily.That same night, we went out to eat, the whole family, and guess who got carded. Well .. not the kids, it's kinda obvious that they're underage. And not me, because apparently I've got sag lines & wrinkles that are bigger than either my tits or ass.

Anyone who is in any position where they have to id people should ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS id the gal!!!

You're gonna get better tips if you do. Id a gal who is 30 or older and, if she believes you really think she might not be 21, you've just made her night!! You've achieved something, by merely asking a simple question, making a simple request, that there is a multi-million dollar industry built around.
If she doesn't really believe that you think she might not be 21, she's still going to be flattered. Get a couple of drinks in her and the fact that she got carded is going to have her wanting to strut her stuff a little more, if she wasn't already!
At the very least she'll think you're just id'ing everyone to cover your own ass and she won't be offended.
But most importantly, no matter what guy(s) she's with, she wants to look younger than them!!!! Ok, obvious little kids aside, the gal wants to look as young as or younger than the guys she's with.
Id the guy and not the gal and you've just shot that hope & dream dead in the water dude. And, the more she drinks, the more she's gonna see herself age over the course of the evening. Guys may get beer goggles and see themselves as REALLY HOT when they're drunk, but gals too often will look in the mirror & see not a hot chick looking back, but the Crypt Keeper. The Crypt Keeper in a bad drag queen get-up version of themselves. Yea, it's friggin' scary.
Id the guy and not the gal and you've just ensured she's gonna see Drag Queen Crypt Keeper when she looks in the mirror.
As I sat at the bar of the brewery I didn't need a mirror. I didn't want a mirror. My hair was frying and frizzing, turning hideous shades (not the chic shades!) of grey. Age spots were appearing. Under eye bags were deepening. All moisture began evaporating from my skin and it began wrinkling up at a frenzied rate. My clothes were tattered and stained. I think I was suddenly wearing dirty & torn fuzzy slippers. --- I had no desire to linger long. I had much more desire to go find the nearest closet to hide in under covers.

So .. just trust me here .. ALWAYS ID THE GAL!!!!