Saturday, June 30, 2007
Saturday Photo Hunt: Sweet
So many meanings of the word "sweet" that I just couldn't pick one! These plumeria smell sweet.

A sweet girl really enjoying sweets!

This is the sort of picture that makes everyone say "Aw, how sweet!"

posted at 5:43 AM
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Wordless Wednesday

posted at 5:12 AM
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Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Making Progress
We were told that we had a couple of weeks while they worked on the outside before we had to have everything out of the way inside. So imagine my shock yesterday morning when the crew foreman told me that he needed to work inside! I bought a couple of days' time, but I am frantically packing things up and moving the big stuff into the dining room. The Professor is off on a trip to the Himalayas, so it all falls on me. But I got revenge -- I donated the Professor's dining room table, chairs and china cabinet to charity. Well, truthfully, he knew I was going to do it, although I don't think he was too thrilled about it. (It's only thirty-something, after all, but it's far from a classic.) Guppy and Storm came over and helped me move that out to the garage ... actually, now that I think about it, they moved it and I ran around in circles and tried to look useful.

Today the sun is shining and they are working on the roof. Here's what I came home to:

It looked like this on the back:

Bet you wish you had a guy growing out of your roof! They are putting up the framework for a covered walkway to the garage.

And this is my background music: nyraaaa, nyraaaa (the saw), bang, bang, bang (the hammer), fwwt, fwwt (the staple gun), punctuated by an occasional rumble from the air compressor. I'm sure it will grow old with time, but right now it really is music to my ears, because it means we're moving forward.

When I first got home, all the workers were resting. They were sprawled out on all my benches, and some were laying on pieces of wood. I really wanted a picture, but I was afraid they would think I was tryingto document laziness or something, so I didn't take one. But they were really cute. And the good news is that the foreman found my fabric coolers from Saturday. The crew deliberately hid them so they wouldn't be stolen. They did a great job of it!

posted at 3:14 PM
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Monday, June 25, 2007
Rainy Monday
They poured the concrete for the front and back porches on Saturday. My neighbors probably were not too happy, because they started making a lot of noise at 7:30 A.M. It was already hot and muggy, so I ran out and got a case of bottled water. The big ice chest was nasty inside, so I got out two portable fabric ones and filled them up with ice and the bottles of water. Then I went off to a remodeling show, which turned out to be less than I anticipated. When I got home, there was the freshly-poured concrete, there were the empty bottles in the trash can, but my coolers were gone. I am trying to stay optomistic and think that someone is going to bring them back to me. Otherwise, it will put a serious dent in the generous part of my nature.

There is a tropical wave in the Gulf of Mexico, so we are supposed to have rain most of the week. Guess they won't get much work done. This gives me a little more time to obsess over details. The builder said he would put a plate in the porch ceiling so I can hang a swing. Then he suggested two swings, facing each other. I am bouncing back and forth over that. One minute I think it's the greatest idea I've ever heard; the next minute I think one swing and several chairs that can be moved into conversation groups is the way to go. Feel free to weigh in if you have an opinion about it.

Okay, non-remodeling subject. After the disastrous evacuation last year in advance of Hurrican Rita, Houston has made a lot of changes to their evacuation plans. One of them is to register everyone who does not have a car so they can be picked up and evacuated first. Guess where they're advertising the number to call for registration? On electronic signs on the freeway, of course!

And you've got to love my mother's attitude. At 87, she has a lot of pain from sciatica, but refuses to take pain pills because she does not want to be in a fog all the time. I was exploring options with her, such as surgery, chiropractory, or acupuncture. She told me she had investigated surgery, but it's just not worth it, because it only lasts five years!

posted at 10:00 AM
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Friday, June 22, 2007
Can't get out this way! Can't get out this way, either!Can't even climb out the window!

But it's okay, I know a secret way out. I won't show you. It's a secret.

posted at 3:02 PM
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Wordless Wednesday:Stuff Everywhere!

posted at 8:28 AM
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Monday, June 18, 2007
Monday Musings
On Thursday, the builder surveyed the water damage in the den and loft, and concluded that it wasn't as bad as he feared. However, he, the Professor and the city inspector are in agreement that the roof needs to be rebuilt from the rafters up. Evidently the builder's foreman redesigned the roof structure on the fly, and everyone liked his plan. So we are waiting for the city inspector to sign off on it. One small problem: the Professor left this morning for a three-week trip to India. With any luck, he can get the drawings by email and approve them. I am totally immersed in colors, textures and features, and I don't really know much about what is actually holding the house up, so I am doing all I can to duck this part. But any choices to be made in the next three weeks will be mine, and if the Professor complains about them later, well, he should have stayed home. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Meanwhile, I have packed up some stuff and taken it to storage, and moved some other stuff around. There is a piano in my entry hall, an entertainment center in the master bath, a foosball table in the kitchen, and an air hockey table in the bedroom. Let's just say I can't leap out of bed and run blindly to the bathroom in the dark. Soon I will have to rent a U-Haul and move this big stuff into storage, but I'm trying to get all the little stuff first. And there is so much little stuff! Get rid of it, you say? How could I part with the tin can that Guppy covered with tissue paper when he was 2, or the drawings my grandchildren did for me, or the admittedly scruffy-looking wind chimes my mother gave me?

Saturday night Prof and I went to the ballet (we have season tickets -- God love him, the Professor is one of those rare men who enjoys ballet.) Sunday afternoon I took Present Storm, the Little Angel, Astro Princess and her two little cousins to the same ballet. Good thing I really love ballet, huh! It is such a joy for me to see people discover the beauty of it. This one was Coppelia, and if it comes to a theater near you, by all means take a little girl to see it -- it's lively and funny and there are no long pas de deux (whatever the plural of that is) to bore little kids. Afterwards, we always go to the green room where the kids can get autographs and have their picture taken with the dancers. Dancers have to pay their dues like everyone, so it's the up and comers not yet ready for prime time who dance the matinees. There was a big difference in the male leads, but the girl who danced the matinee has real talent and was almost as good as the star who danced the night before. I told her she did a good job and got a breezy "Oh thanks" in return. "No" I said, "you don't understand; I was here last night [at this point her jaw dropped slightly and her eyes widened] and you did a Very. Good. Job." This time her thank you came from the heart. I could tell she was really pleased by the compliment, and that made me feel good.

An empty boat washed up not far from here over the weekend. Just a couple fishing for the day. They found one body, but not the other. There has been a chopper flying low back and forth along the shoreline of the bay all morning; I'm pretty sure they're looking for the other body. It makes me realize how uncertain life is, and that I need to cherish every moment of mine. Even the ones where I stub my toe on the entertainment center in the bathroom!

posted at 9:34 AM
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Thursday, June 14, 2007
The Remodeling Begins

All the ceiling in the den and loft had to be torn out so the extent of water damage can be assessed.

Can you say "DUST"???????

The cats are taking it in stride so far. Chula spent several minutes staring at the pile of broken sheetrock piled on the porch. I usually can tell what she's thinking, but this time -- not a clue.

posted at 5:24 AM
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Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Paranoia, Self - Destroya
It seems that everywhere I go, all I meet are frightened people. Al-Quaeda terrorists are out to get them, wacko serial killers are out to get them, car jackers are out to get them, sexual predators are out to get their children. And they will insist that all these people are out to get me, too.

Okay, people can believe whatever they want. And they can arm themselves to the hilt, and advocate for kids to go to school with a gun strapped on -- I live in Texas, this is honest-to-God an argument I hear frequently. But when they throw away our constitutional rights with both hands, I have a mixture of anger, sadness and frustration.

We as Americans live under a rule of law. Our 6th amendment says that you cannot arrest and jail someone without specifically charging him and providing him with legal counsel. You can't make up a name, like "enemy combatant", and say that that justifies unconstitutional actions. As Donald Rumsfeld said, democracy is untidy. We live with some risk. You can eliminate all threats with a totalitarian government -- after all, Russia had no citizen crime when it was a Communist state. All they had to fear was the very government that was protecting them. This is exactly what Benjamin Franklin meant when he said "He who would trade freedom for security, deserves neither."

It isn't just the jailing of people illegally that bothers me. The 4th amendment specifically prohibits unreasonable search and seizure; certainly warrantless wiretapping, or for that matter, searching a car for drugs without probable cause, is a clear violation of the 4th amendment.

Then there's the indignities inflicted upon us at the airports. Take off your shoes, have all your liquids in a plastic bag, take out your computer, have your nail scissors confiscated -- you know the drill. But the moment the second plane hit the World Trade Center, the possibility of someone hijacking a plane and flying it into a building ended. Who would sit quietly in their seat and let that happen? Just like the people on the United flight, most of us would rush the hijackers and make sure that if we had to die, we wouldn't take any other people with us.

But people say "I'm all for it if it keeps us safe". Meanwhile, checked luggage is not x-rayed. If someone wants to blow up a plane, there's one way. Or bribe someone with security clearance to hide a package on the plane. And haven't all of us gotten to our destination and discovered that we had accidentally brought some forbidden object? For all the aggravation and indignities inflicted upon us, security missed it. Oh yeah, that's keeping us safe.

Anyway, why would a terrorist bother getting on a plane? All they have to do is leak a supposed plot, and we work ourselves into a frenzy. Shoe bombs? Explosive liquids? Blowing up JFK airport and the entire pipeline? (A physical impossibility, by the way.) I don't think Al-Quaeda is too bright, but they have figured out that there are a lot of paranoid people in this country. If they plant a suggestion, we will cheerfully give up more rights, inconvenience ourselves further, and cost ourselves lots more money.

Oh wait, didn't Al-Quaeda state long ago that their intention was to ruin our economy? Little by little, they seem to be doing exactly that, with our enthusiastic help.

I am not minimizing the things that have happened: the Murrah building in Oklahoma, the World Trade Center twice, the subways in Spain and England, as well as hotels and military bases around the world. These were all tragic events. But you cannot live danger-free unless you, along with everyone else, gives up every right in order to be safe. A good analogy, I think, is an animal in the zoo: completely safe, well-fed, possibly even a little bit happy. But who would choose a cage over freedom?

Statistically, we're all much more likey to die in a car accident than at the hands of a terrorist, serial killer, or even from contaminated food. But we all continue to drive. Our greatest fears are not rational, yet we are willing to give up our rights in the name of keeping us safe from them.

Just think about it.

posted at 9:22 AM
Comments (6)

Saturday, June 09, 2007
Saturday Photo Hunt: Shoes
Shoes come in all shapes and sizes!

posted at 7:33 AM
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Thursday, June 07, 2007
Thursday Thirteen
Thirteen decisions I have to make in the next few weeks:

1. Where shall we move to while the house is being remodeled? Should we try to get a big enough place to hold all our stuff, or just move into an apartment and get a storage shed? Will anyone give us a month-to-month lease?

2. What color do I want my kitchen counters to be? More importantly, do I want granite, quartz, concrete, ceramic, porcelain, or formica? [Do they even make formica anymore?]

3. What color do I want the outside trim to be? Our outer walls are concrete made to look like stucco -- Guppy calls it the tennis ball look -- so it really needs some color to the trim or the house is one big blob. But we are having a covered porch added, and I think the railings need to be painted white. I somehow have to blend white railings, off-white stucco and some color so it looks like it was planned that way.

3. Do I want to store my pots and pans in cabinets, drawers, or on an overhead pot rack?

4. I have a butcher block table that I plan to use as my island -- it's lower than a counter and much easier for me to work on. Guppy thinks I need a real island, with more storage. Do I?

5. What kind of windows do I want? The really expensive ones that will resist a hurricane without any kind of boarding up? Insulated? Attractive?

6. Lighting -- a new chandelier in the dining room? I'm actually still fond of the one I already have, which cost something like $82 twenty years ago, but it suits me. And we're talking about getting a much bigger dining room table, so we may need something larger. Or do they just get in the way?

7. What color should the walls be? I am doing the kitchen country French, so I know those walls will be gold. The Professor likes white walls -- I told him he can have them in his study, but I am having color. I am leaning toward red or orange in the dining room.

8. What color tile do I want in the bathrooms? Do I want to use the same tile on the floors, the walls, and the ceiling? I saw this in, of all places, a McDonald's bathroom, and really liked the effect.

9. I know I want hard wood floors in the kichen and halls. Den? Dining room? I'm not sure. I've pretty much decided to have carpet in all the bedrooms. Not only is it nicer to step on something soft 1st thing in the morning, but carpet acts as sound proofing, and it's much cheaper, too.

10. We have a small covered porch area on the side of the house, which mostly stores junk and the 2nd refrigerator. There will be some enclosed storage built there, which means the refrigerator has to move to ... I don't know. The garage? Inside the house, which means I have to move a closet around?

11. Then there's the master bedroom closet. The architects just threw up their hands and said to work it out with the builder about my sewing area and built-in ironing board. How much area do I need for clothes? How much for flat storage? How much for craft items?

12. What kind of fireplace do I want? I was thinking a nice wooden mantle with a brick hearth high enough to serve as seating. The Professor was thinking a stone fireplace would be just the thing. I am a wood and brick person, and for some reason stone turns me off. Do I stick to my guns and have everything my way? Do I give in and hate it forever?

13. And the biggest decision of all: should I run away right now, before all the insanity starts?

posted at 7:05 AM
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Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Wordless Wednesday
Too many possible captions -- I'll let you make up your own.

posted at 8:48 AM
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Saturday, June 02, 2007
Saturday Photo Hunt: Art
I like to bring home native art as souvenirs from my travels for a variety of reasons: it's usually small and light and easy to pack; I do some artsy-craftsy stuff myself, so I really appreciate the skill and effort that went into it; and, most of all, because I buy things at outdoor markets, I get to interact with the people. So here are a few:

Quilting from Hawaii

Weaving by the Shipibo tribe of Peru.

Molas from Panama.

On the left, a doll from Peru. In the middle, a doll from Africa (that still has a faint whiff of smoke), and on the right, a carving of African tribesmen. These may be my favorites because they are not sophisticated creations, just the product of imagination, effort and love. I love what is normally referred to as "great art", but in some ways I love native art even more.

posted at 9:30 AM
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Mitey Mite

Texas, United States

I am older than dirt, but I still feel pretty young & some call me the Energizer Bunny. I share a house with the Professor & 3 cats. Between us we have 5 grown children, all of whom are productive members of society (!), and 10 grandchildren. I have a job I love, a little money for the 1st time in my life, and so many more things I want to do than I will ever have time for.

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