Sunday, April 27, 2008

the hunters

I was working out in my garden this afternoon, and Oreo was hanging out with me. At one point, I looked over at him and smiled. He was intent on something, and I stopped what I was doing to watch. Oreo is so cute when he finds a job to do, especially when he is hunting. I couldn't figure out what was holding his interest, I assumed it was a bee or an ant. Then, I saw Oreo quickly backing away.

Oreo is not one to bow out, so I had to go investigate.

Earlier that day, Jeff had asked me whether I had seen the mole. I told him that I had seen some holes in my garden, but that they could be snake holes.

Yep, they were snake holes. Oreo had found the snake. A very big, ugly, slimy snake. Yikes!

I looked, and ran. Then, I went back and looked again. I saw its long body, but its head looked like a cobra. Instead of being long, and cylindrical, it had a spot that was stretched out. This was no everyday garter snake.

Jeff was watching TV, and I yelled to him through the window to come out and help.

Jeff went over to the snake, and pointed out some very unnecessary information. The snake had a frog in its mouth.

Well, that explained the giant tumor I saw in the snake's neck.

Jeff looked around for something to deal with the snake. Always resourceful, Jeff grabbed one of Oreo's weave poles.

At first, I though Jeff would just pick up the snake and move him far, far away.

From the way Jeff was holding the pole, I quickly knew he had other plans. I turned my head, while Jeff killed the snake with the weave pole.

At that point, I felt bad for the snake. He had just caught his dinner, and didn't even get to enjoy it. Poor creature. Ugly, gross and scary, but still a creature.

Jeff threw the snake over the fence, and went back to check on the frog! He was alive! A little bloody, but alive. Jeff prodded him and he hopped a couple times.

Jeff said to me, "You have gloves on, why don't you pick the frog up, and move him somewhere so that the dogs can't get him."

What???? I don't do that.

So, Jeff scooped Mr. Frog up with my trowel, put him in my bucket, and placed him safely over the fence.

So, the snake died, but Mr. Frog lived! Hooray.

Tonight at dinner, Jeff and I ate without talking. Jeff made note of it.

I said, "I'm thinking, are you?"

Jeff said, "Yeah, I'm thinking about the snake."

"Me, too!"

Jeff said, "I feel bad that I had to kill him, but I didn't want the snake to bite one of the dogs."

"I'm thinking about how I can make this into a blog."

I am so over feeling sorry for the snake, but I wasn't the one holding the deadly weave pole.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Theo!

Happy 6th birthday to Theo!

I can't believe you are 6! You have grown so fast. I am so proud of you, and am amazed at all the things you have learned how to do. I mean really, who can read books on their own at age 6? THEO CAN!

You are my favorite 6 year old ever!

Monday, April 21, 2008

a valued customer

It's been a busy time in our house, between the yard work, the bathroom remodel, work, etc. Before I went away a few weeks ago, I wanted to make sure all my bills got paid online, so I wouldn't have to think about them when I got back.

I pay all my bills on line. I love not having to pay for a stamp. Typically, I write the confirmation number on my paper bill, along with the day I am having the money withdrawn from my checking account, then I write the amount in my checkbook. I have it all down to a science.

On Saturday, I got a voice mail message from my mortgage company, telling me I needed to contact them immediately. They did not say why, so I assumed they wanted to sell me a home equity loan. I erased the message. They called again later in the day, and this time I decided to answer the phone (yes, a rarity for me to answer my phone). This time, a man was asking for my address and social security number. I got wary, thinking this was a phishing scam.

I asked the man,"How do I know this is really my bank I am talking to?"

His response, "Call the phone number on your bill, and ask for the collections department."

I said, "Collections department? I have never been late once paying my mortgage, in fact I always pay more than I have to! Why would the collections department be calling me?"

No response.

I hung up, and went hunting for my bill. I found it, and there was no hand written confirmation number. I checked my bank statement, and saw no withdrawal listed. I checked my check book, and found I had deducted the amount. So, I must have forgotten to actually make the payment online.

This is sooo unlike me. I am a stickler for being organized, conscientious, and reliable. I hate to pay a five cent late fee at the library. It's not the money, but the fact that I didn't get it back on time. I feel like I let the library down.

I had until April 16 to avoid a late fee. This was April 19. Gulp. I sucked it up, and paid it. I even paid an extra $10 to have the payment go immediately.

The fact that the collections department calls when you are 3 days late paying your bill, shows just how bad this mortgage crisis is for the banks.

Today, I called the mortgage company to make sure every thing was squared away. The woman told me that they received my payment, and everything was fine. She continued, "Being that you are a valued customer, would you be interested in....."

It's funny how quickly you go from being a deadbeat to being valued.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Here is yet another photo of our bathroom. Jeff got the door and window trim up today. It is finally starting to look like a real room. I have to buy some new curtain rods to hang up my curtains properly, but thought I'd post this to all those waiting for an update.

Now, we're off to have margaritas on the deck and watch the grass grow (hopefully).

Sabine's flowers

Woke up this morning to a halo of yellow daffodils around Sabine's tree. They were supposed to bloom on Sabine and Theo's birthday, but the warm weather has speeded up the process. I think they look so cheerful, and the angel statue seems to be at peace.

Friday, April 18, 2008

dirt, rocks, and mulch

The weather has been perfect this week. I have spent a lot of time outside doing some gardening and landscaping. I have done a lot of "ditch diving" for good rocks. Hard work, but very rewarding when you find a perfectly shaped and colored rock. I think I pulled out over 50 rocks from our creek bed in the past two days.

Jeff and I bought some mulch made from recycled tires. It looks great, and it is guaranteed to last 12 years! That will save us a lot of time, since we had to replace the bark mulch every other year. However, it now kind of smells like a tire store when the wind blows. But hey, rubber does grow on trees.

Now, if only I could get fake grass for my sorry back yard. Unfortunately, that's not in the cards (too expensive). So, much of my time has been spent desperately trying to get some grass to grow in my shady backyard. I rake, seed, water, repeat...so far, not much is happening. I have no patience for seeds. If this fails to work, the recycled tire mulch comes in a lovely green shade! I'm just not sure how I would pick up dog poop in that.

I don't really understand why I can grow plants with no problem, but can't grow grass. It must be the mole's fault.

The dogs don't care about grass. They love dirt.



http://picasaweb.google.com/sjpblair/April2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

give a dog a bone

Recently, I started giving Oreo some rawhide bones. None of my other dogs have ever showed much interest in rawhide. Oreo is such a doggie dog, I thought he might like it. I knew he loved to chew. It has proved to be a great way to keep him occupied while we are working on the bathroom or watching TV. He'll chew on one for an hour or two.

Yesterday, Jeff and I were watching TV, and heard a bunch of noise coming from our den. Misty was between us, so we knew it had to be Oreo. There is a lot of stuff (tools, silicone, bathroom stuff, etc.) in that room, so Jeff was concerned. I knew right away what Oreo was doing. He was hiding his bone.

I had seen Oreo "bury" his bone in his toy box. Oreo likes to bury it, put his toys back on top, then go back in a few minutes and "find it". I find this hysterical. I thought dogs only buried bones in cartoons.

This morning, I decided to look for the bone in the den, to see if I could find it. Didn't take me long. Oreo has stuffed it between the cushions of the couch. I decided to take a photo, but as soon as I took the first shot, Oreo quickly jumped up to grab the bone. Somehow, he knew I had discovered his hiding place, and wasn't taking any chances on me stealing the bone. I was shocked that he had remembered it was there, since over 12 hours had gone by.

Tonight, Oreo tried a few different hiding places. First his toy box, then under his bed in his crate, and my personal favorite, shoved behind the TV stand. Ultimately, he decided to just finish the bone.

Of course me, being the ridiculously proud mother of this dog, I see this all as another sign of Oreo's brilliance. He clearly has a lot of thought going on in that tiny head of his.

Monday, April 14, 2008

why do you do that?

Last night, Jeff was telling me how the cost of cell phone plans has gone up. Now, they are making $99 a month with unlimited texting sound like a deal. To us, this seems outrageous. To a teenager, it is cost effective, since they are texting almost all day long.

I told Jeff that teenagers are spending all the money they earn at their part time jobs on cell phones, download for their IPods, and tanning (white kids only). Jeff said, "Did you see that girl at the hardware store? Her tan looked so fake."

When I was in high school, a tan represented wealth. When we would return to school after February or April break, it was always obvious whose family had the money to go south. While the rest of us underlings, were still ghostly white.

It seems as though not much has changed. Even with all the warnings about skin cancer and premature aging, girls and even boys now, are spending booku dollars on tanning. Tanning itself is relatively cheap, it's the lotions and potions that they sell to boost your color and make it last, that make it expensive. Some lotions go for over $75 for 8 ounces. I've read that tanning booths are physically addictive. The lights they use actually increase endorphin levels, and once you start, it's hard to stop.

One student even has a tanning bed in his house. I asked him how that happened. He said, "My mother discovered EBay a couple years ago, and things have never been the same. One day, I came home and there was a tanning bed, the next day I had a new baby brother."

I think he was kidding about the brother, but the other students vouched for the tanning bed. Where does one store a tanning bed? Does it need its own room?

I have never set foot in a tanning booth. I have used "self tanners" in the past, but they are a lot of work. You have to keep reapplying, and then you risk getting strange dark spots on any skin where you have rough patches.

Now, I wear sun block everyday, even in the winter. My skin rarely sees the light of day without protection. I have stopped wasting my money and time on self tanners.

The other day, the principal was handing out our new ID badges. The person ahead of me looked at her photo and said, "Oh, I was so tan!" The principal said, "Everyone is tan, the photos were taken the first day of school."

I said, "I won't be tan in mine, I never go in the sun."

They both looked at me in shock. The principal, who always has a tan, asked, "Why, because you are so fair?"

This question always puts me in a strange predicament, as I don't want to insult the tan person! I just said, "Skin cancer runs in my family."

I get teased a lot for my vivid whiteness. Recently, I wore some shoes without socks, and a student said, "You don't go tanning do you?"

"No," I said. "Why?"

His reply, "Your feet look like Casper."

What I have noticed is that the only people who make comments about my paleness are white people. Never has a black or Hispanic student made any comment about my lack of color (although they have made plenty of other comments about my appearance, but that's another blog). In fact, the kids of color, are constantly questioning the white students who are tanning.

They say, "Why do you do that? It doesn't look natural." or "Why don't you just sit in the sun, why do you pay to get a tan?"

I always agree with them, and am glad to have someone on my side.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

gettin' there

Here is our new vanity.

We have our bathroom back! New and improved. Still have much to do - molding, trim, closet door needs to be hung back up, exhaust fan to install...but at least it is functional (and pretty).




bathroom comes together

Here is our newly grouted floor:

The toilet is finally back!!!!! You don't know how much I appreciate this toilet. We'll be installing the vanity after lunch. I'll post some more photos later.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I hate moles....

I just found an "I hate moles because" contest in my local paper. I submitted my "mole patrol" blog. The winner will get a $500 Lowes gift card. Ten runners-up will get mole deterrent products. I am kind of hoping to be a runner-up. I have my eye on a product called the mole terminator.

It looks quite deadly. I don't want to deter the mole, I want him to die.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

bathroom remodel #????????





This bathroom remodel is really starting to wear on me. It has been more than a month now since we began.

I am tired of having my all my toiletries spread around various rooms in the house. There are also tools, supplies, and fixtures (new and old) everywhere. Dusting has become my second job. Every step seems to create more dust.

We have spent this last week without a sink or toilet, while we wait for the floor tile to set. It takes a long time for it to dry when you keep your house temperature at 63 degrees. Yes, 63. We have saved a ton of money on oil this year. Enough to justify spending more money than necessary on towel racks, faucets and light fixtures. Although, with the money we saved by doing all the labor ourselves (ok, mostly Jeff's labor), we should have solid gold faucets!

I can't wait to get to work in the morning to use a real toilet, rather than the Alzheimer's commode in our basement. Not a good reason for wanting to go to work. Every time I use the bathroom at school, I notice the shoddy workmanship on the floor and wall tiles. It was installed less than a year ago, and already things are starting to fall apart. I notice the color of the grout and caulk. I notice the plumbing and crooked hooks on the stall doors. Things I would have never seen before.

The librarians at my local library all ask how the bathroom is going. They have seen dozens of books and videos being borrowed - from sheetrock to tile to crown molding. They know how I am spending my weekends, and understand when I have to renew the DVD's I took out. No time to watch them!

The fact that Jeff and I aren't in divorce proceedings yet is a miracle. One of us is constantly in a state of worry or anxiety about the current or next step not going well. Meltdowns happen often. We take turns. The good news is that everything turns out perfectly. We worry for no reason.


Luckily, we should finish most of the work this weekend, with the exception of the moldings and new exhaust fan. By Monday, we should have a fully functioning, new bathroom. My toiletries and cleaning supplies can return to the bathroom for good. I can hang my towel on something other than a bookshelf. My toothbrush won't be sitting next to my cookie jar. Heaven!!!!




Then, it will be on to the backyard...a little landscaping...maybe plant some trees...some recycled tire mulch...perhaps some new decking...definitely some margaritas in our Adirondack chairs!!!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

shelties at work

These are quintessential photos of my dogs doing their "jobs". Misty is always on the lookout, ready to alert me to any movement or noise. Meanwhile, Oreo looks for any excuse to play, run, and have fun. I swear he laughs!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

WARMTH!

Misty is smiling.

The temperature outside is finally warmer than it is inside! Ok, considering that I keep our house at 63 degrees, doesn't make that too difficult for the first day of April. I opened the windows to let in the 68 degree warmth.


Hope this nice weather isn't an April Fool's joke.


Speaking of which - it is Misty's 10th birthday. Perfect weather for a dog. She has spent the afternoon on the deck, and in the yard barking at everything that moves or makes a noise. That's her job. Oreo is doing his job, digging up my garden.


Misty keeps an eye out for the neighbor's dog, or anything else that moves.