Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Gift

Y'all haven't heard much about White Trash Bob lately.  I'm about to remedy that.

The other day he called me ten minutes before my alarm clock went off (he has a knack for doing that) and said in his usual irrepressible way, "Oh good, you're up.  Come to your front door.  I have something for you."  Thinking it was probably futile to explain to him that I wasn't really up, I shuffled to the front door in my jammies.  There stood WTB on the front porch, holding something behind his back.  I held out my hand for it and he presented me very own WonderBar!  Now I don't have to keep borrowing his, or using a hammer or my little prybar when a WonderBar works so much better!

Other girls can have their flowers and candy and sparkly things.  I'm happy with my WonderBar.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Nice Kitty...

My friend Milah says that Louis scares her.  Louis, my sweet little tabby, scary?  Just because he appears in the basement out of nowhere and seems to be able to walk through closed doors?  Look at that widdle kitty all snuggled up with giant Christopher.   He's not a scary cat.

Now this—this is a scary cat:

In this photo, Marie is expressing her extreme displeasure about my running the sweeper while she's trying to nap.  I have as little as possible to do with this cat.  She terrifies me.  Last summer, she bit me in the hand because a June-bug landed on her head while we were lounging on the front porch.  She believes, apparently, that I am directly responsible for the June-bug touching her—after all, it was my shoddy construction of the screened porch that allowed a gap large enough for a June-bug to pass through.  So she bit me.  And I took antibiotics for a week.  You may have noticed in the photos of the kitchen that there's no flap on the cat door.  That's because Marie didn't like it touching her when she went through it, so I took it off.  It was either remove it or listen to her yowling and attacking the cat door while I'm trying to sleep.  Marie lives in the box springs of my bed surrounded by her collection of ponytail holders, bottle caps, pennies, and bread-wrapper ties and comes out only to eat, visit the litterbox, and terrorize the other cats and me.  I discovered her lair when I up-ended the box springs to move it to another room and heard her treasures clattering down.  Then I saw the gigantic hole she ripped in the fabric of the box springs.  I would duct-tape it shut, but I'm afraid she'll kill me.  I have not yet put up the Christmas trees because she's claimed one of them as her territory.  She tore open the box and crawled in amongst the branches.  When I lifted the lid of the box, her eyes glinted at me and she hissed.  She was curled up in there like a rattlesnake.  I shut the box.  Maybe I don't really need a Christmas tree in the dining room.  Once, she tempted my neighbor Carl into reaching out to pet her. "Oh, what a pretty cat," he said. Marie doubled in size like a puffer-fish and ran sideways on three legs while trying to claw Carl with one of her front paws.  "That is not a nice cat," Carl remarked.  No, that is not a nice cat.  Not at all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Braving the Basement

I did it.  I braved the basement.  For most people, that's not a big deal.  But at my house, it requires a little prior planning and some nerve-steeling.  After all, the basement is the scene of the weirdness that happened this spring.  I haven't been down there since that happened.  Go ahead, click on that link, read that post, and then tell me you'd honestly spend a lot of time down there! 

So, once I get up the nerve to go down there, then I have to wrangle the three cats into the bathroom (the only room in the house with a door that shuts tightly), move my laundry room table to the other side of the room, and roll up the area rug that covers the trap door.  Then I have to yank the trap door up, catch the ring on it with the hook in the wall, and hope it doesn't slam shut and imprison me down there.  After all that, then I have to drag four boxes of Christmas decorations up the basement steps.  Make that five boxes—I forgot I bought another Christmas tree at one of the after-Christmas gigantic sales last year. 

And the weird basement did not disappoint.  After I dragged everything up the steps, I went downstairs one more time to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything.  "Meow," Louis said from on top one of the furnace ducts.  "You're supposed to be locked in the bathroom!" I said as I pulled him off there and carried him upstairs.  "How did you get the door open?"  When we walked around the corner, I heard the other two cats scrabbling to get out of the bathroom.  The door was still closed.  Hmmmm....

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cain't Keep A Man

This weekend has been...interesting.  A little unsettling.  Frustrating, even.  I was temporarily knocked for a loop, but now that I'm myself again I'll tell y'all all about it. 

As the more astute among you might've guessed from the title of the post, I find myself single again.  I truly have no idea why.  For the past several days he hasn't returned my phone calls or texts.  Maybe he didn't like the lasagna, cause that's the last time I saw him.  Since he's completely silent on the issue, I'm left to guess as to what went wrong.  That irritates and frustrates me no end.  Have the common decency to call me and say something like "It's just not working out" or "I met someone else" or any one of a hundred stock phrases that folks call on in this situation.  If it's one thing I can't stand, it's a man with no spine.

But what irritates and frustrates me even more than that is the attitude of some of my family.  I told one of my cousins, who is like a brother to me, what happened.  He said, "Face it, honey, you just cain't keep a man."  This is a little Southern-attitude town we live in, and my family tends to have a very traditional view of gender roles.  To say that a woman "cain't" keep a man can cover a lot of ground (she's most usually either a bad cook or a bad housekeeper) but it always, always means she has some glaring character flaw and it's all her fault that the relationship went sour.  A woman who can't keep a man is destined to be single forever, and in my family a single woman over the age of about 30 is viewed with equal parts suspicion and pity.  This I have known for years, so I should've known better than to go ranting to my mom about the situation.  "Well when you run into [Reed] in the future, I want you to be nice to him," she said. Why should I be nice to someone who can't give me a five-minute polite brush-off?  Because he's from a good family?  Because women are supposed to know their place?  Because in my family, but for a few notable exceptions, women put up with all manner of bad behavior just to stay married and eat crow once a week for supper?  Well, I'm sorry, but hell no.

Looking back on my short relationship with Reed I can recall several things that irritated him:  that my hands have calluses and a couple of scars, that I'm quick to speak my mind, that the sound of a fire engine's siren is usually followed my the sound of my phone ringing and one of the guys telling me what happened, that I have more tools than he does and am more handy, that most days I don't wear makeup, that I sleep til noon more often than not...  But all those things are who I am.  I can't change that—and more importantly, I don't want to.  It's my life and I love it.  I am blessed with a beautiful house and the ability to work on it myself, an unconventional job that I really like, a quick mind, and friends who love me just the way I am.  Someday maybe I'll find that one guy who loves me just the way I am.  Or maybe that's not what God has in store for me.  Either way, I'm still me.  Faults and talents and all, I'm still me.  And if being true to myself means that I can't keep a man, then I'm alright with that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kitchen Reveal

With the kitchen all but finished, I thought it was high time to show y'all some pictures. 

It's hard (at least for me) to take pictures of a room that really shows you what it looks like.  I guess if I was good with computers, I'd figure out some way to splice these photos together into one big panoramic photo.  But I'm not, so this is the best I can do.  These were taken in a clockwise direction around the kitchen.

Looking in from the dining room, and to the left.  New backsplash, new cutting board end of countertop, new countertops, new cabinet pulls, new sink and faucet, new wallpaper, and new plates with chickens on 'em.  (I decided on the plates instead of the vintage ads; I think they "go" better.)  New bread machine, which is not usually out on the counter like that, but I was baking bread when I took these photos.  Oh yeah, and a new can of pineapple next to the sink.  I'm just keepin' it real here, folks.

Looking straight in from the dining room door.  Here you can see a couple of the things that still need to be done.  The cabinet pulls on the little cabinets above the fridge still need to be traded out for the new ones.  The plain wood door there still needs to be painted white.  After that, I'll hang a bulletin board on it and a lot of the junk on the fridge door will be moved over there.  That door goes out to what was originally an open back porch and is now my laundry room.  Since the laundry room has no HVAC, keeping the door shut helps the rest of the house stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.  To the right of the calendar on the wall is the door to my bedroom.  (You can't see it in the photo; the other door you see in this photo is the pantry door.)  One other thing I need to do:  pick up that little saucer on the floor.  Marie and Louis eat their yogurt every morning from that little saucer.

The pantry door and other side of the kitchen.  This is the best photo of the wall color.  I knew I wanted yellow walls in my kitchen, but finding the right yellow was hard.  I didn't want it to be too light or too brown, and I think this color is just right.  Unfortunately, I can't tell you what it is because I painted the walls almost three years ago and didn't save the label from the paint can.  It's Ralph Lauren paint, and it might be Goldfinch...but don't hold me responsible if you buy that color and your room ends up looking like a school bus.

And finally, looking at the kitchen from the back porch door, into the dining room.  The kitchen door is the only door in the house without a transom above it, and the trim in the kitchen is the only flat trim in the whole house.  That leads me to think that this room has always been the kitchen, but I have no way of really knowing that.

And there you have it, my re-done kitchen.  You can see "during" photos here and here and a "before" photo here.  By the way, I realized as I was talking to my mom today that sometime this week is the third anniversary of my moving into the Kelly House.  I closed on the house and moved in the week before Thanksgiving of 2006.  What a long, strange trip it's been...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Got My Sleep On

Saturday morning I went all Betty Crocker-y and bought groceries, browned hamburger, and put together a big pan of lasagna for supper Saturday night—after having been awake all night at work the night before.  And then, because I was obviously delirious from lack of sleep, I texted Reed:  "I made a big pan of lasagna.  Supper at your place tonight before I go to work.  See ya about 4:00."  Four?  What was I thinking??

Then the cats and I snuggled up in my flannel sheets, I donned my little sleep mask (the one that has GO AWAY in big letters on it), put in my ear plugs (hey, the neighbors are noisy) and fell fast asleep.  Without setting an alarm.  Louis Cat woke me up at 4:40.  Oops.  I took the quickest shower ever, threw on some clothes, and ran out of the house carrying a big foil-wrapped pan of lasagna before me and holding my cell phone between ear and shoulder.  Reed lives next street over—down the alley, around the corner, cross the street, and you're there—which is mighty convenient when you're running almost an hour late and the lasagna's still unbaked.  I arrived on the front porch of his house, a little breathless, and full of apology.

"I'm so sorry.  I know I said four, and you probably packed up early at work and everything for me and now we're gonna have to rush to eat before I leave and I can't believe I forgot to set my alarm so it's a good thing Louis woke me up, and I forgot the salad at the store too so this is all there is, and did you turn the oven on?"

"It's alright," Reed grinned.  "I'm just glad you got your sleep on."

Friday, November 13, 2009


I usually do this on Thursdays, but time got away from me yesterday.  This list is different—and much longer—than in previous weeks.  That's because this week's list is a "homework assignment" my friend Jill gave me, which began as an assignment her counselor gave her.  I appreciate her challenging me to do this.

Things I am thankful for:

Having my own child, who is the only blood relative I've known all of his life
My beautiful daughter-in-law Sarah, who loves my son so much
Being adopted by parents who did their very best to give me a loving, safe, happy home
Having the chance to meet my birth brother, probable birth father, and to learn more about my birth family
Being able to hold the hand of my father as he died
My cousins in Illinois who made my childhood so wonderful
Having my grandmother with me until I was 19, and all the things I learned from her

My 1887 or so Queen Anne cottage and the ability to restore it mostly on my own
Living in a National Register Historic District
Having beautiful houses around me to look at when I go for walks
My Kia Soul with the houndstooth seats
The antique furniture my mom gave me
My grandmother's pearl ring

Having two friends (Jill & Travis) who really "get" me
People I've known since I was a child
My friend Michelle and her two boys, who always make me laugh
Stacy, who is the sister I never had
My boyfriend, who is always supportive and kind
Three cats: Marie, Christopher & Louie
Bob, who helps me on my house when I get in over my head
Milah, who convinced me to give church another try and gave me the phrase "spiritually fed"

Having a job with great pay and good benefits that allows me to afford my house, my bills, and still have some money left over for fun
A few co-workers who make me grateful that they aren't like the majority of the people there
A consistent schedule, which is rare in emergency services
The added projects that the Division Chief has given me

Finding not just one, but two, churches that spiritually feed me
UCC Prayer Chapel, so I can go to church online (when I remember)
Having a job that can save someone's life
A son who is a police officer and truly believes in the adage "protect and serve"
Working for preservation of historic structures in my hometown
Discovering that Sean's sudden & unexpected death taught me lessons about love & loss and may be the most terrible and important thing that's ever happened to me

Willa Cather
John Steinbeck
Smithsonian magazine
Ernest Hemingway
The poetry of Sylvia Plath
Walt Whitman
Old House Journal
Any book about the Trans-Mississippi front during the Civil War, women during the Westward movement,
Jesse James, or the period of history from about 1850 to about 1890.

Taking a long drive to nowhere
Browsing antique stores
Laughing with John
Netflix Watch Instantly
Walking around town in the middle of the night
Playing with the cats
Debates with Dylan
Crossword puzzles
Games on
Front porch sitting

My intelligence
The ability to restore the exterior of my house without seriously injuring myself
My recovery from the illness (still undiagnosed) that made me sick for 14 months
The tat on my left wrist that reminds me of Sean

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Very Nearly Done

The kitchen wallpaper is done!  I finished it up yesterday morning and then spent the rest of the day browsing through antique stores with my mom.

This means that the kitchen, after almost eight months, is very nearly done.  I just need to put on four more cabinet pulls, fix the piece of backsplash that one of the cats worked loose, paint both sides of the door white, and hang up the cool vintage (1940s-1960s) ads I bought yesterday.  Oh, and take photos of the finished kitchen since it's the one room in the house that is just the way I want it.

Next up?  I seriously need to deal with that pee-pee carpet...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chickens Marching

I almost finished the kitchen wallpaper today.  Just a couple more strips to put up tomorrow.  I might've finished today were it not for the two-hour nap I took in the middle of the day.  Kinda cut into the productivity.

Now it's off to my mom's for supper. 

Better Days

The past couple of days have been better as far as the peripheral vertigo's effect on my balance, but it's been such beautiful weather that I just couldn't bear to be stuck inside doing projects.  So, I played outside Saturday and Sunday and am forcing myself inside today to get something accomplished. 

Here's where I am right now with the kitchen wallpaper:

I hope that by quitting time today, more of the walls are chicken-covered.  Progress photos to follow.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday

My latest list of five things I am thankful for, in no particular order:

1.  People who have a sense of humor.  When I say I'm a fire and EMS dispatcher, I think what leaps to most people's minds is those terrifying, life-and-death calls you hear on the news sometimes.  We do get those every once in a while, but the majority of our calls are what we call "bread and butter"—ordinary medical calls like difficulty breathing, general illness, and chest pain.  Tonight a quite elderly man called 911 and when I said, "Sir, I'll just stay on the phone with you until the paramedics arrive," he replied calmly and politely, "Oh, that's not necessary.  Surely I'll live at least until they get here."  I love my job.

2.  The superhero that is Reed.  If y'all can stand just one more mention of the boyfriend....Last week I learned I might possibly have a chance to bid day shift at work.  I've worked nights for almost four years, but the possibility of working "normal" hours is tempting, so I debated the pros and cons with myself for a few days before telling Reed I was thinking about it.  He works days, but we haven't been together that long and I was unsure what he'd think of my even counting him among the reasons to turn my work schedule upside-down.  So, I laid it all out to him over supper.  He thought for a few minutes and said, "Of course I'd love to see you more, but the truth is that you have to do what's best for you."  Of course.  And now I know I'll have his support no matter what shift I bid.  I call him a superhero for good reason.

3.  My mom's inability to keep really good Christmas presents a secret until Christmas.  For years and years, my mother has started her Christmas shopping about mid-August.  When she finds something really good, she can't just stow it away until Christmas, try as she might.  Yesterday it was my turn for the early present.  I cut the tape on the box she hadn't even wrapped yet and inside...a Breadman bread maker!  Hooray!  I baked a loaf of bread as soon as I got it home.

4.  Baby Chase.  My daughter-in-law's sister had a baby girl two months ago, and one of my son's best friends had a baby boy just a few days later.  Dylan and Sarah have been baby-sitting a lot lately, and along with that has come a certain amount of baby fever.  I admit not being immune to it, either.  (Babies are just so cute and cuddly and sweet, aren't they?)  Monday night Dylan called me and asked me to come over.  When I got to his house, there sat he and his wife on the sofa, looking exhausted and a little shell-shocked.  "Um," I said, "I hear a baby crying."  Sarah looked at me a little tearfully.  "I know," she said, "and no matter what we do he won't stop crying."  I picked up Baby Chase and rocked him (it's amazing how these skills come right back to you) so Sarah and Dylan could eat supper.  As Sarah grabbed a second slice of pizza she remarked, "At least we can give him back in a couple hours when his mama gets here."  And Dylan said, "We are so not ready for kids of our own."  Lil Chase, I'm sorry you had such a bad tummy-ache, but thank you.

5.  Netflix Watch Instantly and FeedFliks.  I got a Netflix account because I am completely unable to return a video on time and the monthly fee for Netflix is cheaper than my late fees at the video store.  However, I'm unable to return a Netflix DVD right after I watch it, either.  It lays around my house for days, sometimes weeks, before I remember to mail it back.  It became questionable whether the Netflix account was really saving me money.  Then along came Watch Instantly, and I started watching movies on my laptop during down times at work and when there's nothing on tv at home.  Last week I learned about, a website that calculates your per-movie cost with Netflix.  Thanks to Watch Instantly, mine is down to 58 cents a movie.  Can't beat that!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's That You Say?

The reason why there haven't been any posts about the progress on the interior projects is because...there hasn't been any progress.

And there hasn't been any progress because I have been diagnosed with something called Peripheral Vertigo.

Huh?  What?

I went to the doctor because, three weeks after recovering from a cold, I'm still dizzy quite often.  Sometimes it's mild; sometimes the room spins around me like a Tilt-A-Whirl and I have to hang on to something—a table, a nearby superhero, a chair—to keep from falling over.  The doc says it's usually caused from an inner ear injury or an untreated ear infection.  And sorry, but medicines don't seem to help much.  And, oh yeah, it's permanent.  What?!  I have to be this way forever?!  Unsatisfied with that prognosis, I googled it...and didn't find much.  Anyone know anything about this stuff?

So anyway, the past couple of days have been Tilt-A-Whirl days.  Not conducive to standing on a ladder to hang kitchen wallpaper, which by the way is what I've decided to do first.  After reading everyone's comments, it seems to make the most sense to start with the smallest unfinished project.  And I will...when I can stand on the ladder without feeling like I'm in the eye of a hurricane.