Sunday, April 04, 2010

A JOYFUL Morning!

It's a gorgeous morning!
We're listening to the birds through our open kitchen window.
The traditional Easter Morning coffee cake has been baked and eaten, accompanied by numerous cups of hot coffee.
The house is semi-clean.
The laundry is done.
I beat L at TWO games of Wii bowling!
WE are hosting Easter Dinner.
My Mom WON'T be making dessert!
Our pork loin is rubbed and awaiting the grill.
Life doesn't get any better than that!

HAPPY EASTER everyone!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Epitaph

Ever since Junior High, I have had 3 best friends. We functioned well separately, but socially, we did everything together. The 4 of us were "close" friends with several other groups of "best friends" like us. None of us was the least bit "cliquey". We welcomed anyone to join us for conversation, giggles, or help with homework. In a class of 302, we were far from the "in" crowd, who openly mocked us. We all helped each other survive the cruelties of high school.

Several of our big group have re-established contact through FB. One of our friends, Sue, started a private Group page for us to privately chat about whatever is on our mind. We also have a monthly live chat. Sue named this group our Wine Club. Whenever Sue finds a female classmate on FB, she invites them to join our group. We're still not cliquey. My 3 best friends, and many of our "close" friends are members of the Wine Club. We also have several members who were casual friends.

One of our casual friends recently joined one of our ongoing discussions. This lady was quite shy in high school, but she always had a huge smile on her face. K frequently joined our group for conversation and giggles. Yesterday, K wrote her memories of all of us who were involved in this particular discussion.

Here's what she wrote about me:

"Your sense of humor, both verbal and non-verbal made Teen Years more comfortable. You never seemed to want to leave anyone out. You were approachable and when people left your company - they felt a little bit better about themselves and Life. You can be very animated in your own "Dry Humor Way."
Thank you for the smiles that lingered and brighten the day."

K's impression of the high school "me" brought tears to my eyes. The person she described, is the person I've always wanted to be. I guess I'm a success! I would be proud to have that paragraph as my epitaph.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Where Did February Go?!

The battle to get a decent internet connection into our house continues. We had a week, this month, where we couldn't stay connected for longer than 5 minutes! Tech support remotely tested our modem and decided a new modem would fix our problem. It did...for 2 days. We are no longer losing connection, but our speed is rarely above dial-up speed. Every time we call tech support, the DSL speeds up. This is just like having your car quit making that funny noise the minute you pull it into your mechanic's garage.

Sooo, what have I been doing with the time that I normally spend blogging?

We've made 5 trips to the dentist, 2 for Z and 3 for me. I've been without my bottom partial since November, when the tooth that the partial connects to broke in half. This meant that I could only chew with my front teeth....all through the holiday season. We finally got in with a new dentist, after our dentist retired, but it took 2 months to get an appointment.

I made 2 trips to the doctor. One visit to our GP, and one visit to a bone specialist. My shoulders have really been bothering me this winter. I feared rotator cuff damage. I was diagnosed with bursitis, and got a regimen of exercises to strengthen my shoulder muscles. The specialist said that I will probably need shoulder surgery in the distant future. That ain't gonna happen! I can't afford to take 6 months off from work.

I've been playing with my new camera, trying to learn all the settings. No new photos worth posting though. I really want to get a decent hummingbird shot this summer!

I've been puttering with all the electronic gadgets we have, that I haven't quite mastered yet. I finally figured out the slide scanner that L got me for Christmas several years ago! I'll post more on that activity later. I still want to convert more of my vinyl to CDs, so I can rip some more music to my MP3 player. I like to listen to my music while I'm working on our outdoor projects. I also need to finish reading the manual for the new phone we bought 10 months ago! I still don't know how to clear missed calls, or retrieve the caller-ID information.

Re-establishing communications with my husband. We've spent so many years working opposing shifts, that we've become strangers. We forget to take time to have fun with each other. The past few years, we've spent all of our limited together time discussing chores, home-improvement projects, and family problems. We didn't realize what a drag that has been...time for some FUN!

My favorite cousin, J, came up with her son and his family for a vintage snowmobile event.
A friend, who now lives in CO, came home for a visit. We spent a whole afternoon catching up and viewing all the pictures she's taken in the past 2 years. She also shared her infant grandson with me. What FUN it was to play with a baby again!

Facebook; what a mixed blessing! I found that my high-school friends had FINALLY advanced to the social networking age. Not one of them was connected when I got my first FB page a couple of years ago. I'm now re-connected with my bestest friends for the first time in 5 years! We've spent a lot of time emailing to catch up with each other's lives. I found that I can keep up with most of my friends through my FB homepage. This means I only have to load one page with our slow connection. The downside is that I'll have to wait until our connection gets fixed before I can view any of their pictures. Pictures and videos take FOREVER to load!

Well, that's what I've been up to in February. I hope to get my sewing machine out in March, so I can sew the new kitchen curtains...and catch up on the mending. I'll try to catch up with all of your blogs during our short bursts of decent internet speed.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

My New Toy!

For the past 4 yrs, I've been squirreling away all the Christmas bonus tips I receive from my regular customers. I've been drooling over every DSLR camera I've seen. I frequently window-shop online, but the cameras have always been too expensive for our budget. So, I started saving my Christmas tips in the hope that SOMEDAY I'd have enough money to purchase the magical camera of my dreams.

Mid-January I counted up the money I'd saved. I was surprised at the total: $800. I knew that this still wasn't enough to buy a camera. The last time I priced DSLRs, a body was $350, a 55mm lens was $200, and a 200mm lens(my MUST have) was $1000. Keep saving TSHS.

Out of curiosity, I went online to price cameras. They have really come down this year! There were actually 2 cameras that fit my price range. I spent the afternoon weighing the pros and cons of both cameras and finally decided on this. I got the camera and BOTH lenses for $644(no tax) and $4.50 shipping! I still had money left to buy memory cards, rechargeable batteries, card reader, and a case.

When the camera arrived, I ran to town to buy an SDHC card. Then I started reading the 312 page manual. What a piece of equipment!! Once I had the batteries, memory card, and lens installed, I searched the house for photographic subjects. Hairry was my first thought. He's always up for posing for pictures. Not this time! As you can see, Hairry was in the middle of a nap and could care less that I got a new camera.

My next thought was our bird feeder. I watched that damned feeder for 20 minutes and not one bird showed up! So I strolled through the house, experimenting with the flash and exposure settings. By that time I wished that the Christmas decorations were still up.

The most interesting shot of the day was of L reading the camera manual. *yawn*

A couple days later we got freezing rain, followed by 8 inches of wet, heavy snow. That weather was a nightmare to drive through and grueling to clean up, did make some beautiful scenery.

After the roads were cleared, I took a drive around the neighborhood. I stopped at my parents' house to show off my camera, and snap this picture of Shadow begging for peanuts.

For some reason, the apples didn't fall from my Boss's tree this year. The snow really highlights the red of the apples. I only wish the sun had been shining.

Wow, that anti-shake feature actually works! I snapped this picture of the snow on the restaurant roof after I'd been out in -20F temps without gloves. I was shivering and couldn't hold the camera still. I was amazed that the picture turned out.

We had a full moon this weekend! This is the first decent picture I've ever shot of the moon. I also took some shots of just the moon and sky. I want to experiment with layering those shots over other pictures.

The sunset setting on my camera was the perfect exposure to capture the blueness of the full moon at dusk!

The birds are back! I snapped these pics of Mr and Mrs Pine Grosbeak through the kitchen window. Mr G wasn't very cooperative. He wouldn't hold still. On the other hand, Mrs G posed quite well.

If you need to find me this winter, just drive through my neighborhood and look for the crazy lady with the camera around her neck, out in the cold at dusk and dawn, snapping pictures of inane objects

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Haz Floor!!

We put the finishing touches on our new kitchen floor right before Thanksgiving. We've been admiring our handiwork ever since. There were actually a couple of days that I got a stiff neck from looking down every time I was in the kitchen.

We bought the flooring last spring, when it went on sale for $.99/sq ft. This was a wise move as the price has been $1.29 and higher ever since. I also knew that if I didn't buy the flooring our kitchen floor would get put on hold for another year.

This is Tarkett flooring from the Boreal line, with a 25 yr wear warranty. We originally decided that we wanted oak-colored flooring, since we plan to stain our cupboard doors a darker shade. When Z and I went to buy the flooring we looked at the oak color, then we looked at each other and said in unison: "That looks like a gym floor." There just wasn't enough pattern or grain in the oak flooring, so we chose the walnut instead.

The reason we decided on laminate was because it's a "free-floating" floor. This means no glue or nails, and it can be installed over your existing flooring. When your floor wears out, you just dismantle it and install new flooring.

After watching many online videos and home-improvement shows, we thought that one person could lay this floor. After spending a Saturday prepping the room, we decided to start installing the flooring on Sunday. We then planned on individually working on the floor during the week, while the other one was at work. WRONG! This wasn't a tap together flooring. It was a new, "interlocking" flooring. Unfortunately, Tarkett enclosed instructions for the old-style, tap-in flooring.

We quickly discovered that the flooring strips had to be assembled, end-to-end, for the entire width of the room before the whole strip could be snapped into the previous row. We also learned that the ends have to be snapped together perfectly, or the strip wouldn't lay properly. This revelation destroyed our plans for a one person installation. There were places in our kitchen that required all 3 of us to snap a 15 ft strip of flooring into the previous row. Later in the week I went on Tarkett's website. The website has the correct installation instructions.
Note to Tarkett: You wanna try putting the correct instructions in the box of flooring?!

The first two pictures show our progress on that first Sunday. Our kitchen has a LOT of goofy angles to cut around which slowed us down considerably. The rest of the week we carefully walked around the flooring we had laid so we wouldn't chip the "interlocking" edge. The following weekend we put in 10 hr days and finished laying the 170 sq ft of new floor.

Because the floor is "free-floating", we had to leave a 1/4 inch gap around the entire floor to allow for expansion and contraction of the flooring to prevent buckling. I covered this gap with 3/4 inch cove molding. When I went shopping for the molding, I found solid mahogany molding that perfectly matched our flooring...AND it was cheaper than pine molding! This meant that I didn't have to stain the molding. All I had to do was apply 3 coats of floor polyurethane to the molding and I was done. It took me a week to cut the molding into all the goofy angles in our kitchen. Fortunately we have a compound miter saw, which is the BEST $69 investment we've ever made!

Here's a picture of Hairry with the finished product.
As we were laying the floor, we discovered that the flooring matched Hairry perfectly. Now we laughingly tell everybody that we bought the flooring to match the dog....doesn't everybody?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.....

No, these aren't repeat photos from last year. These are pics of our Christmas blizzard. We were only supposed to get 4-7 inches....we got 14-18 inches. The day after it quit snowing, the temps dipped to -35F for 10 days. So much for the forecasters predictions that we were going to have a dry, warm, winter.

We spent the last week trying to get the snow cleared from our roofs. I wrenched my shoulder clearing the roof vents, so now L and Z are trying to get the job finished. Temps are in the teens today, but it just started to snow again. It would be nice if we could break even for once!

My parents actually expressed their appreciation for us hosting all the Christmas festivities. Wonders never cease! We're hoping that we can continue cooking all the holiday and birthday meals. We really don't want to eat ANY meals over there. Z and I recently discovered that they're starting to store items in the cupboards that should be refrigerated.

I have several customers that are in the same condition as my parents. I'm half scared to drive anymore! One customer wore his winter jacket and gloves all summer. As soon as the weather reached -30F, he started wearing a sweatshirt jacket. This man's daughter has been trying to get him in assisted living, but her hands are tied up in legalities too.

We won't have any more days off until Memorial Day. I guess that's a good thing as we can't afford time off. Last week, business was fair at the restaurant. I don't expect this to continue. We have had many noon-hours where we only serve 4 people. A couple of times, in the past few months, Boss has had to cash in stocks to make payroll. Not good!

Now our electric, garbage, fuel, and water rates are going up. I also expect food prices to rise after all the cold weather down south. I don't know about you, but I could sure use some good news for a change!

We're taking down the Christmas decorations today. Christmas was the only thing I had to look forward to. Now it's over. I guess I'll keep myself busy de-cluttering and sewing for the rest of the winter to keep depression at bay.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Well, that explains that snowflake phenomenon. (SME, it was a bugger getting this package on the scanner!)

This year I'm once again sharing SME's hand-drawn wrapping paper with you. As promised in my Christmas post from last year, I bought her a new box of crayons last summer. She now has sharp crayons to create her amazing wrapping paper.

This adorable mouse is on Z's present. I know what he's getting and the picture matches his present perfectly.

L's package sports a "little" jab at his age from his daughter.

SME put a VERY pertinent message on her grandparents' gift. I hope the message isn't lost on them.

After work yesterday, Z and I stopped at my parents' house to pick up the turkey and other items they are providing for the Christmas Day meal we're preparing. Dad had chemo yesterday and they were both mentally muddled. I'm so grateful that they're allowing us to host Christmas dinner this year. Dad has to go to the hospital to have his chemo pump removed tomorrow. Between that and their mental states, dinner would have been a disaster!

Winter storm "Bertha"(When did they start naming winter storms?) is upon us. We're right on the edge of the storm, so we SHOULD get only 4-7 inches of snow. It's snowing pretty heavily right now, but so far there's no wind and the temps are mild (24F). I'm extremely grateful that my loved ones won't be traveling through this! However, L will have to blow snow before my parents arrive this afternoon.

It's now time for me to wake the guys. Then I will start cooking while the guys give the house a quick clean-up.

I wish all of my beloved blog-friends a very BLESSED CHRISTMAS with family and friends!