Thursday, December 28, 2006


Another Christmas has come and gone and I'm now mentally gearing up to return to work at the office. Blech.

Actually, I am very fortunate in my work situation. I have a lot of flexibility and tons of responsibility. When I do well, everyone thinks to say so and when I do not so well, they keep their mouths shut. It's a pleasant place to be, mostly. But, I'm just not into it right now. I want a few weeks off. Then maybe a few more. Ah, the post-holidays doldrums.

I'm tearing down the Greymas tree, as Len likes to call it, today. By nightfall, there will be no more reminders of the Christmas that was in this house. At least I'll have a little more room to move around. Decorations take up a lot of space, and I had to move big pieces of furniture around to make room for the tree and its accoutrement.

Len is on a bike ride to Rockmart today. One hundred miles on a December day: The joys of living in Georgia, where the sun shines bright and the high for today is expected to be 61 degrees.

Yesterday, Scully killed a squirrel in our back yard: A gift, I believe, for our guests, Betsy, Doug, and their hounds. She almost brought the writhing creature into the house, but I stopped her in time. The poor thing kicked upside down for a bit on the back deck before coming to its final rest. To add insult to injury, Len placed the little thing carefully into the poop bag just before the garbage guys picked up the week's load. Nice.

This weekend, we're heading back to Helen to enjoy another family holiday at Clark and Suzy's cabin. I look forward to it, but I also don't want the lazy days to end, and New Year's definitely marks the end of my days of sleeping until 9:30 a.m. Such is life.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Clean Dogs and Broken Bones

I try to bathe my hounds at least once a month -- more often if they encounter something stinky. Today was bath day for the greyhounds, since we'll be visiting family next weekend and we want everyone to be shiny clean. Maggie can get pretty darned stinky, but now she bathed and brushed and is the definition of gorgeousness. I know that at her next meal she'll get gunk all over the fur around her mouth again, but we'll try to keep that to a minimum this week. Right, Maggie?

Len broke his left pinky toe this week. How? By walking through the house. He stubbed the toe and broke it in three places. Poor guy. Not much they do except push it in the right direction and tape it there so it heals straight. This is his first broken bone. I have never officially broken a bone. I may have broken my big toe about twenty five years ago, when my dad slammed a door on my foot. The toe swelled up, turned blue and it was pretty painful, but I never had it x-rayed. It seems that -- other than our toes -- Len and I have pretty strong bones.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Holiday Cheer Begins Early

Every year when I put up my Christmas tree I cry. I cry for all the loved ones I've lost and for all the wonderful people and animals still in my life. I cry for happiness and sadness, but mostly for all my good fortune.

In a way, my tree is a reflection of my life. I never forget the friend or family member who gave me an ornament or the person or animal or life event that is represented by an ornament. When I travel, I try to buy one from any new place I've been. My many dogs are represented by them. This is why I cry.

Every year, I have a tangible reminder of my life.

The tricycle ornament my brother Pat gave me a few years before he died: I cry both because I love him and because he's gone. The glass dog playing the drums that I found in Maine reminds me of the best vacation I've ever taken. The snowflakes made by Len's Grandma, Anna, mean so much more now that she's gone. Long forgotten former co-workers who gave me ornaments as gifts are remembered again.

I'm having some girl friends over tomorrow and thought I'd put up my decorations -- if only because it's December and I'm entertaining. I rarely do this so early in the season, but after last Christmas was so blue for me, I'm glad to start the happy season this year. So, I'm feeling a little sappy today.

I think it's going to be a nice holiday.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

SAFF: The Anticipation Is Killing Me!

I leave for the Southeast Animal Fiber Fair on Thursday this week. This will be my first visit to Asheville, NC, and my first time at the fair. I cannot wait! I'll be hanging out with sheep and llamas and alpacas for three days, learning new-to-me techniques like spindling and needle felting, and trying to limit myself to just a few new hand spun, hand dyed luscious yarns. I'm about to bust!

My friend Linda and her friend (I haven't met her) Ruth and I will be staying at some funky log cabin hotel and we are each responsible for a breakfast. I've seen what they are planning and let me just say I'll be eating breakfast this weekend. Blueberry pancakes with apple sausages and fresh juices and that sort of goodness. Me? My breakfast will be homemade muffins, probably whole wheat banana walnut, because I like muffins, and I really don't want to spend too much time at the cabin cooking when I could be at the fair!

It's also leaf season in Asheville, so I suspect we will be enjoying the fall color extravaganza!

I'll take some pics of my new alpaca friends to post on my return.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I'm getting old...

Did I ever mention the time when a man on MARTA asked if the project I was knitting was for my granddaughter? That was a shocker. I know it's true there are SOME 39-year-old women who have grandchildren. But, I vainly thought that no one would think that of me just to look at me. Clearly I was wrong.

I told him no, that the sweater was for me and kicked him in the nuts -- then I boarded the northbound train. The nerve of some people.

I knit every day, but lately I find myself thinking about knitting more. I was at a wedding last weekend in Centennial Park downtown and a woman I know wore a very cool kimono-inspired dress. My first thought was, "I need to make that kimono-inspired sweater pattern I have." First, though, I have to finish Len's college-boy sweater, my crazy lace shawl, the dog sweater for Devon with only one sleeve left, the fabulous alpaca arrows and cables sweater for me, and about 6 socks to complete 6 pair. Oh, and finish finishing the 4 almost-there sweaters I found when I finally cleared the guest room of the moving boxes. Then, there's the felting projects I have half done. Too much to do!

We have another wedding to attend next week. This one will be a very traditional Catholic affair with all the trappings. Stand up, sit down, stand up again... at least there will be an open bar.

I'm crankier every day. Where did this come from?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Visiting Hours Are Open!

After six months as a storage closet, our guest bedroom is now a comfortable haven for weary travelers. At last!

I've been putting that project off for months, because I was a little overwhelmed with the floor-to-ceiling boxes we had stacked in that room. Where would they go? I bought curtains and rods and paint months ago. so everything was set. Except me.

Saturday morning, I played computer games until I was bored in an effort to put off the inevitable. Finally, I relented and asked Len to help me move the boxes into the living room. Emptying the room turned out to be pretty quick and painless. Then, I realized I had no roller -- so, without benefit of a shower and in my painting clothes I trucked off to Home Depot with a list of needs. I even had them cut 1x8 boards to lay under the box spring in the guest bed. That bed is an old iron jobby that is slightly wider than today's mattress sets. Without any support, the box was beginning to sag.

When I finally arrived home and got started, it was nearly 2 p.m. I really, really didn't want to paint. I started with that iron bed and spray painted it in the back yard with a flat black paint, covering the white with gold trim from previous decor. It looks really cool. I let it dry while I painted that darned room.

It had been so long, I'd forgotten what color paint I'd bought, so by process of elimination, I figured out which can hadn't yet been opened and used that paint. It's an old-fashioned green, like old Jadite glass. After painting, I ripped up the carpet and took it outside, where Len will deal with it while I'm traveling this week. The floor is pretty disappointing, just like the floor in our bedroom. A previous resident of this house glued carpet straight onto the hardwoods in those two rooms. Maybe we'll get the floors taken care of during Len's Christmas vacation.

I brought in the new bed and found the boxes of bedding and installed the new curtain rods and curtains. and viola! we have accommodations! Just in time, too. Suzy and Clark are coming next weekend to ride 6-gap with Len. Whew!

The best news is that I eliminated 4 of the biggest boxes with the bedding. Len just has to figure out a place for his hundreds of record albums and bike parts and everything will have a place!

Tomorrow morning at 6 a.m., I'll for NYC for two days. Hopefully I'll come home to a nice neat living room! Len, are you reading this?

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's Always Something...

As I type this, Miss Daisy is with Len and the Vet School in Athens. I hope the Great Oz (the cardiologist who never steps out from behind his sonogram machine) is giving her a clean bill of health and Len no longer has to truck her out there each week. Besides, she doesn't much like being poked and prodded at by vet school students. She seems to be doing great, though. Sweet little thing.

I'm back on MARTA after the summer of riding my scooter to work. Everyone in my office loves my new hairstyle, sans helmet head. Me, too. Plus, I get a lot of knitting done on the train anyway. I've been working on this lace project for some time. After, oh, eleven or so attempts, I'm getting pretty frustrated with the thing. I am more determined to complete it, since I've spent so much energy on it already. I'll miss a stitch and because the yarn is so delicate and fuzzy (lace weight alpaca) I can't just find the mistake and start from there. I pretty much have to pull the damned thing out and start over every time. There HAS to be a better way.

I finally brought something home from the pottery that I like. It's a nice bowl that I glazed in sky blue. It came out kind of an olive green with sky blue streaks. When I saw it on the shelf, I picked it up, wondering who made it so I could ask how they did it -- and the bowl was mine! Cool! It's awfully thick and heavy though. More practice...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Patsy Coleman, Rest in Peace

My aunt Patsy died on Saturday of Lou Gehrig's Disease, ALS.

Patsy was a lot of things: a mother, a wife, a housewife, a rape victim, a psychic, and a bit of a nutjob. When I was a kid, I thought she was the coolest person alive.

She and my mother were pretty close when I was a young child, and I remember her family coming to visit us a lot and our family going to visit hers a lot. Mom and Patsy and I would go for weekend trips -- just us girls -- where they would smoke and gossip and connive about the family and the world and I'd listen in. To my young ears, theirs were the most interesting conversations I'd ever heard. That's how I learned about my family history. It was during those conversations that I learned how my sister Paula was my half sister and that her mother died giving birth to her and her twin, who also died during the birth. I learned about my mother's first husband and the father of my sister Sunny and brother Patrick (Skeeter). We went to the grave site of my mother's first love. I believe his name was Bill and he died relatively young, maybe 40. I doubt my mom even remembers that I was there with her on all those trips. I just quietly tagged along because I thought those two women together were fascinating.

In fact, I can see a lot of parallels between their relationship and my own relationships with my women friends.

When I was around 8 years old, Patsy started talking a lot about reincarnation and psychic powers -- as in, she claimed she had them. And, she'd give me and mom readings and I swear I believed every word she uttered. I still remember her teaching me how to gather positive energy with my hands. My father was pretty sick at the time, and slept with an oxygen tank next to his bed. For years, I'd go into his bedroom at night after he fell asleep and gather all the positive energy I could and push it toward him. I thought I was helping him and in some way it made me feel good. I was so grateful she tought me how to do something for him.

Patsy came to visit us once unexpectedly and there was always a cloud of secrecy over that trip. She'd been injured and mom told us Patsy had been mugged. I was an adult before I realized she'd been raped and came to mom for support and comfort. That's still a topic my mom doesn't discuss.

We eventually moved too far away from Patsy to continue to visit so often, and she and my mom lost touch and never again were as close.

The last time I saw Patsy was in Ann Arbor Michigan. She and mom came to visit not long after Len and I got married. We were living in the rented green house on Fifth Street then, and they only stayed the night. She looked great and they were both happy.

About six months ago, mom told me about the ALS. I always meant to call or write Patsy, but never got around to it. Now she's gone.

I don't believe in reincarnation and the afterlife or psychic powers anymore, but I know you still did, Patsy. If I'm wrong and you can get this message, I've missed you, Aunt Patsy. Whether you knew it or not, you were a huge influence in my life.

Rest in peace, you crazy woman.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Prancing for Dinner

Daisy was a death's door two weeks ago. Now she prances for her dinner. She twirls, she barks her sad little soundless bark. She's a whole new whippet. The drugs have helped and we've been feeding her salt-free food and snacks. I even made her some chicken and brown rice (which Len thought was so good that he took it for lunch one day). She went back to the cardiologist yesterday, and her heart is smaller and she is generally on the mend.

I really thought I'd be making an urn for her at the pottery studio.

I'm glad that instead of an urn, I'm still working on the dinnerware. So far, I've made two bowls to completion. My tests have been good so far, and I've actually begun making the dishes now. The process takes weeks, because I have to wait for drying between stages and it's been particularly rainy here in Atlanta/Decatur -- when the weather is dry, drying is much faster.

So, I have the dishes designed in my head, but I still don't have the skill yet to execute the design exactly. Gotta learn more about glazing and the different clays. It's coming along. My job has been taking up a lot of my time these days (deadlines all hit at the same time -- yep, I missed one) and I haven't spent as much time as I'd like at the studio. After Labor Day, I'll be back to going several times a week instead of just 2. The studio is closed over the holiday weekend, so I'm hoping to have the energy to paint that last room.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


It's been a pretty traumatic week here in Decatur.

It all started last week when Daisy hurt her back and was clearly in a lot of pain. Len took her to the vet and she was tested and probed and prodded and after a day or so on the medicine the vet gave her, she seemed much better.

Monday morning I commented to Len that Daisy ate everything in her bowl and a big treat after -- a sure sign she was all better. But, that was the last meal she ate until Thursday. She was clearly uncomfortable and lethargic and could barely stand on her own. We'd never seen her like that and we were very worried. So, we returned to the vet, who was afraid to treat her for the wrong thing, so we took Daisy to the UGA Vet School in Athens for further testing and an ultrasound.

Yesterday, we met with her Cardiologist. She has always had a heart murmur, but it had never really bothered her until now. Turns out her heart is very enlarged and her valves aren't pumping all her blood and fluid in the right direction. She was very close to heart failure and she was close to drowning in her own fluid when we took her to have the ultrasound.

Last week's back pain was probably not back pain at all, but symptoms of this heart illness manifesting as what appeared to be back pain.

She is now on more medications than my mother (!) and we are to make sure she has no physical activity beyond getting up to eat and to go outside to do her business. Today, she's nearly back to her old self. Prognosis isn't really great for Miss Daisy. She is, after all, 14 years old. So our job is to make her comfortable and happy for the rest of her time with us. Shouldn't be too hard.

She's on the sofa now, where she's been resting all day.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Step One: Center the Clay

Like most 18-year-old dumbasses, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life when I started college. I had this teenage fantasy about becoming a working artist one day, so I began my college career as an "art major." I took painting and drawing and art history courses along with the basic required academics I needed to graduate, but found I truly *enjoyed* the pottery classes. A couple years passed and I got married (really, really young, but to the fabulously handsome and brilliant and good-natured Len, so it was a good long-term decision!) and we moved to Michigan, where I finished college. My first day on campus, I joined the newspaper staff on a whim, and the rest is history. I finished college with a journalism degree and experience as the editor of my college paper and as a stringer for the local papers. I have enjoyed a long and fulfilling career as a magazine editor.

Many summers, I took pottery classes offered through local continuing education services, but found those classes weren't giving me what I really needed: Time. Two hours a week for six or so weeks never got me anywhere. I don't think I actually finished a single project. I even looked into buying a kiln and all the ingredients, but couldn't justify the expense, when the fact was I had no real working experience.

Once we settled here in Decatur, I started looking around for pottery classes and found Mudfire Pottery. It is a potter's co-op, where you join and pay a monthly fee and they supply the rest. There are several people on staff, "rangers" they call them, who are there to assist when you need assistance, guide when you need guidance, and leave you alone when you need to be left alone. Pretty cool. I go there three or four times a week and work for a few hours and already I have improved my skills beyond where those summer classes ever took me.

Since Len and I no longer have dishes (we got rid of the Fiestaware just prior to our move from Seattle back to Atlanta) my first big project will be a set of dinnerware for us. Mugs, bowls and plates. I figure once I successfully complete a set of simple dinnerware, my skills will allow me to work on more ambitious projects like large pieces, and then move on to slab work. It's very exciting for me, like I'm fulfilling a life-long dream or something. It feels pretty good.

Now, has all this work with clay caused me to drop my knitting needles? Not at all. Currently, I have a cardigan, socks, a lace shawl, and a soon-to-be-felted bag on the needles -- and I work on these projects every day. Wow. Just call me Ms. Producer!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Helmut Redux

I've decided to return the helmet for a refund of the purchase price and eat the $40 in shipping.

The seller from Korea is not going to be happy he didn't return my shipping fees, though, because I will do whatever I can to get him banned from eBay -- or at least give him some grief. He claims he makes only $10 per helmut and that he has sold hundreds of them and mine is the first complaint. Not true. His most recent negative feedback is from a helmut buyer who expected the helmut to be wrapped in leather -- as stated in the ad. Faux leather is what he meant to say, apparently. Faux DOT approved is probably what he wanted to say in my ad.

He actually responded to my complaint by saying it was "nonsense." I was boiling.

I'll show him nonsense.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Buyer Beware

eBay is a wonderful place to find some pretty fabulous things. But, folks can really get ripped off on eBay.

Remember that adorable pink helmet I bought a couple weeks ago? It arrived.

I wouldn't feel safe wearing it while riding my bike on the Silver Comet Trail, let alone riding my scooter 40 mph down Ponce de Leon. It's flimsy, uncomfortable and too light to meet U.S. DOT requirements for helmets. Besides, to meet the requirements, a manufacturer must submit a sample helmet and, if the design meets the requirements, a sticker is issued for each helmet the company sells of that design.

This helmet does not even have a fake sticker attached. The seller outright lied in his ad. I sent him a message about it and received no response. So, I did something I've never had to do in the nearly 10 years I've been trading on eBay: Open a dispute.

So far, a file has been opened and an official e-mail has been sent to the seller. I'll keep you posted on how the process progresses.

Friday, July 21, 2006


It never occured to me that people would actually read my blog. My own mother doesn't bother to read it, and some friends have said their eyes just glazed over when I began writing about knitting socks. So, I figured only Len's folks and close family bothered.

Turns out I was wrong. And it freaked me out a little bit!

I went to my weekly knitting group last night (our first meeting in Kim's new store, Knitch!), and a couple of the ladies mentioned they actually read this thing. I was touched, and then a little nervous. Have I written something I'd regret them seeing? Do I sound like an idiot? They know I write for a living: Do they think I'm a sucky writer? Geez. I felt, well, exposed.

But then I thought to myself, "why even have a blog if I worry about what people who read it might think?" That's the point, right? You throw out your own thoughts for the world to see and 'tough' if they don't like you or what you have to say.

So go on, knit girls, read away. I'm actually flattered. Where can I find your blogs?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Daisy Eats Devon!

Yeah, like the little guy would allow that.

I was bored with the old look, so I made some changes to TFB. If Len can change his blog, then I can change mine.

I've been trying not to call Jackie this week about a couple italian greyhounds she has in "stock." Sergio and Prince Iggy Hop both have problems with their legs and need medical attention. The last thing we need is another Devon, but this bleeding heart of mine is making the little guys hard to resist. Maybe Len and I can just go to Macon this weekend and make a donation. Or, maybe we can foster one or both of them. Ah, who knows?

Sergio is the IG that is grey with white patches and Prince Iggy Hop is white with grey patches and has the blue collar. How can we resist? So hard...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

New Helmet for Megan

I bought a new helmet on eBay for my scooter. Nothing is wrong with my old helmet, except it is plain and white. My "new" helmet is modeled after an old Vespa design and was cheap, cheap, cheap! It's on it's way here from Korea now -- let's hope it doesn't feel cheap, cheap, cheap! It is DOT certified, though, so it should be good.

The scooter lifestyle is great. I take MARTA when it rains and scooter any other time. Len and I scooter for fun on the weekends, exploring neighborhoods in Atlanta. Saturday I took him to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. It really hops on the weekdays, with downtown office folks eating their lunches. This is the only place I've ever found outstanding bread and olives in Atlanta. You don't know how important something is until you don't have it anymore...

We rode through some questionable areas -- even saw a real-live drug bust -- but that's all part of city life. Not far from there, Len and I stopped to walk around a so-called in-fill neighborhood. A place where an old warehouse or an entire block of weary buildings are replaced with new residential. It was a cool neighborhood, actually. There were really nice row-houses (or town homes) in the neighborhood, as well as office space and retail space, with a street or so of very authentic craftsmen style homes. The developers did a nice job matching the architecture of the houses and other buildings to the truly old 20s houses across the street. Except these new houses were built much closer together. Also, until you looked around the side, you couldn't tell the new houses were actually like four times larger than the original houses. Price? Starting at $805,000. The people living in the old houses across the street must be counting their imaginary money.

Len is on his last trip to Seattle this week. He's probably relieved and a little sad at the same time. Hope he goes for a beer and the salmon platter at the Virginia Inn one night for dinner and off to Big Time for Beer and pizza another night.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Vegas, Baby!

I should rename my blog "Treats for Blogging" and perhaps then I will be a more reliable blogger. It's been a while.

I went to Vegas last weekend with my mom and my brother, Frank. The trip itself cost us nothing, air and hotel were free for all of us, so our only expenses were eating and gambling. We ate a lot of crumby food because it was cheap -- I had low expectations for the steak and lobster special for $10. It was okay, but I'd have preferred a great hamburger for $7. Alcohol, of course, was free so long as we were gambling. Frank, who had never been to Vegas was really intrigued by this concept. He asked me: "So, what's the deal with the free drinks?" I told him to tip the ladies $1 and he was good to go. He soon got the hang of it, and started asking for the better stuff: "Do you have Samuel Adams?" he'd ask. "Guiness?" Me? Water and vodka tonics all weekend. Mom even had a beer or two.

I astonished Len by arriving home with a few more dollars than I left with. Frank did about as well, but mom was the big winner with her $900 gain. I was actually down the last night by $150 and was pretty sick about it when I played a quarter slot (had been playing roulette all weekend) and won the 1000-coin jackpot. $250! I was redeemed. I played it safe the rest of the time and came home happy.

While at the roulette table one morning, Frank and I, playing our 50 cent chips, watched a young guy from Iowa walk up with his friends. They'd been gambling and drinking all night and were just about to leave for the airport. The kid dropped a $100 bill on red and doubled his money. His friends were in awe. This energized the kid and he played another hundred on black and won again. Now his friends were sure he was God. Kid got cocky and lost $100. Kid raised the stakes and won $500. This went on for a while and everyone at the table was really having fun watching this kid clean up. He walked away $1700 richer.

Too bad that's not the end of the story.

About a half an hour later the kid came back and dropped $500 on red. Lost. Another $500. Lost. I said out loud: "Go home with your $700 and be happy." But the kid from Iowa had to redeem himself in front of his buddies. Frank noticed that the last time he pulled bills out of his wallet, there was nothing left. Kid went home broke.

But, he's got a story to tell for the rest of his life, right?

Otherwise, we all had fun watching the Vegas sights. We saw an Elvis impersonator and an Al Green impersonator (yeah, who knew?). Frank and I did a lot of walking down town -- we stayed in the old area and walked through the Neon sign museum areas and looked for trinkets for his girls. I almost got an airbrushed tattoo -- just to freak Len out. Fremont street has become an attraction all its own, with a canopy covering the street with all the old-school casinos: Fitzgerald's, the Four Queens, the Golden Nugget, etc. It was 109 degrees outside, but in true Vegas fashion, the hotels were blowing cold air out under the canopy and it was actually comfortable. A half-block walk outside the canopy and Frank and I felt like we were actually on fire. It was hot.

That's Vegas, baby.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Product Review

I've painted a lot of rooms in my time.

Considering how cheap I am about things I can easily do myself and all the houses we've owned, it makes sense that I've painted so many rooms. I've used about every paint brand available: Pratt and Lambert, Anderson, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Ace brand, Ralph Lauren, and Martha Stewart (back when she hawked stuff for Sears). I have my favorites (Benjamin Moore and Ace brand) and a list of paints I will never buy again. Do not, under any circumstances, buy Ralph Lauren paint. The lovely colors can be matched at any paint counter and you can use a quality paint.

Which brings me to the reason for this blog topic. Until this week, I had never used Behr paint, available only at Home Depot. I figured you get what you pay for with paint, so I stick with paint I've used before and liked. But, the previous owner of my house left her paint behind and I needed to touch up some trim after painting the living room and dining room dark green. One coat of the cream-colored trim paint covered the dark green -- no problem! I was very impressed.

So, I bit the bullet, and bought a gallon of Behr Premium flat paint in the rusty red color for the big dining room. I used a half gallon. One coat covered the whole room and it's a nice, rich color. Wow! For less than $20 and about three hours work, I transformed a room.

It's on to the next room!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sweet Relief

About three weeks ago, my allergies really started acting up. They just got worse and worse. One night my lips swelled up with hives -- I spent days sneezing so hard my sinuses ached. No sleep, no peace. I'd gone to the doctor for new prescriptions, I stayed in rather than go out into the pollen-infested air, I resigned myself to feeling like this until the season was over.

Then Len suggested it might be the air conditioning. That's when I remembered the grocery bag full of cat hair I found behind the old appliances when the guys came to deliver the new ones. Cat hair and mold in the vents! That's it!

Most people who know me know that I have a strong allergy to cats. Not all cats -- I seem to be fine around some -- but when I get near a cat with the right kind of dander, I can't stay. Hives, can't breathe, itchy eyes. Misery.

So I turned off the air conditioning in the house. That was the first night I had relief. I've sneezed some, but no more than normal, since then, and my eyes aren't nearly as itchy and my hives are gone. Hurrah!

Sears is coming out on Saturday to clean all our vents and we will replace the filters. Until then, I sure hope it stays cool outside!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Living where the breathing is not so easy...

I'm on an Allegra high.
And, a loratidin high.
Yeah, and maybe with a little Benadryl thrown in.
If I break out the wine, who knows if I'll ever come to...

I'm having a really hard time with allergies this season. I don't know if it is because I've been consistently on Loratidin (Clariton-D) for the last several years and the effects have finally worn off, or this is just one mean allergy season.

I saw my doctor last week and she prescribed Allegra since the other seems not to be working. I've also got these great eye drops called Optivar to prevent the itching there -- I seriously look like a dope fiend these days. The Allegra seemed to be helping, but today was unbearable. My nose hurts from rubbing all day, and I'm out of tissue. I've been sneezing so hard my sinuses feel overworked -- if that is even possible. I can't really describe that feeling in my sinuses. Let's just say I can sometimes taste blood in the back of my throat. I know TMI, but, GEEZ, I need a little pity here.

I took my daily dose of Allegra at 9 a.m., a dose of loratidin at 1 p.m., and just swallowed an OTC Benedryl-type drug. (Len, if I don't answer the phone, call an ambulance.) I finally have some relief from the constant sneezing.

Pity me.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The night the lights went out in Georgia

Our power went out Friday night. I was loading the dishwasher when there was a good rain storm going, when lightning struck and we heard a lot POP and the lights went out. Since we have internet based phone service, we couldn't call the power company to report the outage, but Len used my cell phone (the only one with any charge) and called while I got out the candles. 10:30 p.m., the recorded message told us, so we opened another bottle of wine and sat out on the front porch to wait out the storm. Time passed and I got antsy, so I called the power company back, only to hear that the time had changed to 12:30 a.m. That's when we decided to watch a movie on Len's laptop. We decided on the classic "Undercover Brother." Suzy and Clark got it for Len a few years ago and it has been a favorite since. Well, I've been watching a lot of Food Network lately and recognized Jim O'Conner from "The Best Of" in a bit role in the movie. He plays Chad, a totally white guy. Fitting.

For Suzy, I'm posting a picture of my new hair. I know I look stoned in the picture, but really, it's just my allergies that are making me look that way. The hair seems much cuter in the mirror than it does in this picture, though.

The greatest news I have to report is that I have finally finished stripping the wallpaper from the small dining room. Today. Phew! Next step is to prep the walls for the "Mossy Shadow" color I chose -- the same color I painted in the living room. After painting, I will decide if I need to do anything about the damage. I did some pretty extensive spackling yesterday and I hope that repairs the gouges I put in the walls when scraping the paper off.

Once this project is complete, I'll work on the small bathroom, then the bigger dining room, and finally the bedrooms. Hurrah!

Sunday, May 28, 2006


It's been such a mild spring here in Decatur/Atlanta, that I had fooled myself into thinking the Georgia summers aren't as hot as I remembered them. Alas, I was wrong. It's Memorial Day weekend and I've soaked through two t-shirts already.

I'm still working on the ?!@#?%$ wallpaper in the little dining room. I have completed the two largest walls and have the smaller walls left to strip. When we visited Len's folks last weekend, Diane and I talked about options and she suggested textured paint to cover some of the damage the stripping has done. I think I'll go one farther and go back to my paintable textured wallpaper idea -- I really did a number on the top half of the walls (where I believe the paper had been glued on with some alien technology) and the textured paper will really cover that damage. I'll paint it the same color as the lower half, but add a little glaze to bring out the texture. One day, I will finished this blasted project.

I've given up on the idea of growing my hair long before I'm 40. When it is short, my hair looks really healthy (as healthy as dead cells protruding from a head can look) and shiny and well-kempt. But, the longer it gets, the more stringy and damaged it looks. I'd had enough this week, when the outside humidity made it impossible for me to get my hair to look nice. I have a big, giant round head, and a single pony tail looks terrible. Two ponies (Suzy's idea) were kinda cute, but since it was my ONLY cute option, I knew I had to make a change. So, I called a funky little hair salon near my house and told the nice lady who answered that I'd been trying to grow my hair, but it was time to call it quits. She told me a person canceled a 5 p.m. appointment -- and asked if I wanted it. YES! And, I left my office at 4 to give me time to get home and change before meeting the nice hair lady named Maggie who would change my look. I want to add that I felt a little odd leaving at 4 that day, until I realized I was the last person there!

I told her I wanted my hair to be cute, a little flirty, and able to withstand a helmet. Ms. Maggie delivered! My hair looks fabulous. It's much shorter -- just below my ears and mostly one length. I have many cute options and no hair on my neck to make me sweat even more!

I have other cool news as well. A woman in my weekly knitting group is opening her own store in Virginia Highlands. It's going to be a really nice shop, called Knitch ( She told me she was looking for part-time help and I would have to work at least one 4-hour shift per week. At last, my chance to get back into retail! Yes, I know, I'm one of those crazy women who actually LIKES dealing with people. We'll see, I may not have the time, but I'm going to try. I am really looking forward to her July 15 opening!

Len and I went to the Decatur art festival yesterday and picked up a couple small paintings from a local artist. They are pretty cool and I've hung them both in the living room. Only those of you who come to visit get to know the full story behind them. We also saw the work of another local artist who we bought a large painting from a few years ago. She had a version of the same painting we purchased on display. At first I was upset, but then realized that many artists do a series of the same object. Think about how many sunflowers Van Gogh painted. Anyway, I looked at the painting and saw that she was charging more than three times what we paid for ours a few years ago! We couldn't even buy the thing today! Since we bought ours, she has received best of shows and other accolades for her work. Whew! I never thought of our art as investments, but it is nice to see that others appreciate the same things we appreciate!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Highway Madness

We finished the building today. Len is bam, bam, bamming away at it right now since one side of his nifty little frame is a bit bowed, though. He's also following the instructions on how to align the doors nicely. He's making much progress. We saved so much money on the building (thank you Dekalb County for your crazy rules!) that I think we'll sod the whole yard. New sod and some pretty plantings here and there, and the backyard will be gorgeous! Historically, we have spent alot of time in back yards when weather permits, so adding gorgeous to the mix will be very nice, indeed.

The building is really very nice. It looks like a little cottage, with it's four-paned windows, carriage doors and clapboard siding. Not bad for plastic. It even features five skylights and two vents. A person could live in this thing.

After the building was complete, I followed behind Len (driving the Saab) on my scooter to the Lawrenceville Honda/Kawasaki dealer. It's time for it's first service and for the brakes to get checked. Unfortunately, the closest dealer is in Conyers at 16 miles away, but their service department is backed up for weeks. It took a while, but we made it the 26 miles to the Lawrenceville dealer. Only once did Len nearly lose me -- since we were on a downhill, I think he thought I could go a lot faster than I could, and another car swooped in between us. For the most part, though, the scooter's 40 mph limit was not a problem. Still, I really want a Vespa. A model that is a bit faster than mine and orange or pink or turquoise. Vespa's have such nice colors. I found a pretty spectacular pink helmet on line, too! Dare to dream, dare to dream.

Tomorrow is bath day for the hounds. We are going to Daytona next week to visit the grandparents, and the hounds will be sparkling clean for their visit! But, I may have to bathe Maggie twice. She likes to spend a lot of time in the dirt.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Master Craftsmen

Len and I are building the shed this week. It's a pretty cool building, actually. Picture a gigantic RubberMaid container. That's the material it's made of, but it has windows and gables and carriage house doors and faux architectural roof tiles. It would make a great playhouse for kids -- that is, if we didn't need the storage space and we had kids to play in the thing.

We planned to have a nice building built for us, but zoning and surveyors and codes stopped us from trying. Apparently, we have to place a storage building at least 35 feet from the back property line. At least we'd have had pretty easy access with that kind of rule -- we could walk off our deck right into the storage barn. So we are skirting the law a bit and are doing it ourselves so the officials are none the wiser.

First Len built a simple wooden frame, then we placed the frame on the most level ground in the area we want the barn, and filled it with 42 bags of pea gravel, leveled that, and then laid down the floor. So far, we've snapped in three out of four walls. Soon we can move the bikes out of the house. In fact, I think we'll have a formal dining room by Friday! Pretty exciting stuff!

Better yet, our guest room will soon be inhabitable!

I'm going to attempt wallpaper pealing again this weekend, and hopefully be able to paint the breakfast room. It's all coming along.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Macabre Sights, All 'Round

She killed another one today. This time, 'twas a mouse. Unofficial count? Scully Four, Small Furry Creatures, Zero. Pretty soon, I hope the mice and squirrels and cats and especially the chipmunks (the hardest hit) start noticing their numbers dwindle whenever they venture into this particular back yard.

Since my last post so much has happened. I saw Ben Franklin's grave. And the Liberty Bell. And Independence Hall. All in Philadelphia, where my company hosted their latest big event. I worked so hard that week -- and was so exhausted when I returned home -- that I don't really like Philadelphia. I think it's really to do with the hard labor and not the city itself. In retrospect, it seemed to be a nice enough place. I've been sleeping a lot since my return, and this just today began to feel like myself again. So what did I do? I painted the living room. Now I'm tired again.

The living room is a beautiful green now -- a color I wanted, but was a little afraid of, so I got two samples and asked Len his opinion. He picked my scary favorite and so it was decided. Whew! Len is in Seattle -- returning home tomorrow -- so he'll see the fruits of my labor tomorrow. But, I think it's safe to say it's a winner. The color is actually a darker hue than the one that had been on the walls (kind of a coppery brown) but brighter, so the room is not as drab. In fact, it's much brighter. I am so pleased.

I ordered curtain rods from that are a lot like the ones we put in the Seattle house. Also on, I found lined silk drapes in a great color. We bought the stuff for the Seattle house from Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware for something like $225 per window. A very similar look can be had from Target for $70 per window. I love Target.

Once it is complete and the room is put together, I'll post some pics...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Cats Love Me

But I don't love cats.

Upon arrival home one day this week, I hear a mewing sound. I have to investigate, because it isn't immediately obvious where the sound is coming from. Finally, I see the little furry yellow cat in the dogwood in our front yard. She has a little bell around her neck and she is terrified. Here little kitty, here little kitty, I say. I reach for her, she fretfully climbs downward toward me, and when she reaches me, uses me as a launching pad down.

It is painful.

The pain from the scratches on my arm and neck is only subdued by the sheer gratitude she shows me. She rubs all over my legs, like I am her hero.

That's how I saw it then, anyway. Now, with the scratches a few days old and itchy, I want to put a hit out on the cute kitty. Seriously.

Otherwise, things are great in "This Old House." A new fence, a new roof, and new appliances -- it's a work zone, but I CAN see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I think I'll be taking Fred's advice on the wallpaper removal. I'll let you all know how the product works.

At least the hounds are THRILLED with the new digs. Maggie just gave me a snuggle.

Yeah. That's what it is all about.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dog Can't Hold Her Licker

My ankle is shriveling up because Daisy has been licking it for the last ten minutes.

She is nervous because there are roofers atop the house hammering away. It's a very personal noise -- like someone is standing next to me, knocking on the wall. I could have all the blinds drawn, and be in a very private place, but the noise will still invade.

I arrived home late from work today and Len is in Seattle again, so I expected chaos in the house. The hounds were very happy to see me, and I noted one small Daisy-sized accident, but other than that, they seem to have returned to their pre-Seattle routine.

I fed them and took them out for a nice long walk. I met a new neighbor, Dennis, who has a dog and marveled at my ability to handle four at once. He saw me near the end of the walk. He remarked on Scully's and Maggie's pooping skills (simultaneous and on the same spot -- it was surreal, but very easy to scoop up) and mentioned he'd seen Len with them before. Everyone likes these guys.

Suzy and Clark were our first official visitors. They stopped in on their way home from Augusta on Saturday and had dinner with us. We LOVED seeing them and look forward to them coming for a longer stay sometime soon.

I'm not sure how late these roofers will be here -- it's already 7 p.m. and Len said it would only take a day. From what I can see, they have two days left on this job. I can't wait for them to leave. I want to hang out in the back yard with the hounds while the sun is still out. It's been such a lovely day.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Wallpaper? Who invented this crap?

Wallpaper sucks.

I actually plan to install a bit of wallpaper in my house, it's true, but in general, wallpaper sucks.

I remember scraping wallpaper off the walls of both the Michigan houses we owned -- hating every minute in the second house. The first house, thankfully, featured the kind where removal is relatively easy -- almost like the folks who installed the stuff said to themselves, "who in their right mind will like this after a couple years on the wall?" They thoughtfully made that stuff the peal off variety.

The Woods Road house only had two rooms with wallpaper, one big and one small, but in order to get the crap off I had to rent a steamer and struggle through that process. Those are three days I'll never get back.

But, beware the single woman in a house for twelve years. I say this because men don't care about wallpaper -- until it's time to remove it. Men do not choose this stuff--women do.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not a hater. Wallpaper can be cool. But not in my house. And, invariably, I seem to be the person who has to de-install this shit.

The woman who owned our house until March 8, 2006, apparently LOVED wallpaper. It's in the kitchen, it's in both bathrooms, it's in the hallway, it's in the dining room. I did not think about the consequences of these facts when I bought this place.

I recently began the process of wallpaper removal. I bought the Tiger, I bought DIF, I bought the special Tiger scraper. No luck. It seems I'll be heading toward the steamer rental store soon. The best I could do with the DIF and Tiger was a few half-inch-wide strips here and there on a wall.

There is a chair rail in the dining room. I'm not going to strip the paper below the rail. Instead, I'm going to install a textured paintable paper there and paint it -- then glaze it to show off the texture. Sounds kinda cool but will probably be something someone strips off with distain someday.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Progress at last

We've been in the house in Decatur now for nearly a month. Our stuff is here in relatively reasonable places, but we can't finish unpacking and arranging until the storage building arrives. It's not a big house, and we have ten bicycles perched in various places throughout the place and we live with four dogs. I'm feeling pretty frustrated because I have no where to move stuff out of the way of any painting and wallpaper scraping activities I'd like to do.

But, we did order the building, a 10x12 model that will hold all the cycles and garden gear and tools, etc., and will even have a loft for things like Christmas and other holiday boxes or whatever else we decide to store there. Our new privacy fence is scheduled to be installed tomorrow, which will really be nice in the mornings when I'm not properly dressed to take the hounds on a nature-call walk. It was really difficult for me last week when Len was in Seattle and I was handling all four at once, many, many times each day!

My birthday was last week, and we went to a nice little French cafe in Decatur called Cafe Alsace. We took MARTA the one stop to the square and then back and walked home from the station. It was pretty fabulous! I'm loving the lack of driving we do now.

But, speaking of driving, we do a lot of it on the weekends. We've been to Home Depot about a zillion times, and since we want to replace the kitchen appliances, we've been to the Sears scratch and dent store and Lowes and any other appliance store we can find. Once all this commerce is complete, I hope the car sits idle for long, long periods between rides!

Len got a subscription to Consumer Reports on line to research the appliances. After all the appliances we have had in all the various homes we've owned, we have a pretty good idea of what we like and don't like. Our kitchen in Smyrna was by far the very nicest we have ever had. I loved the powerful cooktop and the double ovens, but the dishwasher was very loud and the microwave was just odd thanks to its weird controls. Our range in Seattle had a nice oven, with pretty even heat, but simmering was not an option on any of the burners. Just like the burners on this stove in Decatur, the only option was boil high or boil low.

And, this is a personal choice, but I really feel that stainless steel only looks good on the professional series appliances like Viking or the Jenn-Air we had in Smyrna and the like. To me, a Kenmore range with stainless steel is like a house with brick only on the front. Why bother? So, we wanted black because it will flow nicely with the style of the kitchen.

We found a great GE Profile range. It has two ovens: An oversized oven on top and where the broiler or storage drawer would be on another range, a small oven. There are five burners with the continuous grate feature, or you can pull off the center grate and exchange it with a griddle plate. The burner under that grate is oblong. There are two super-powerful burners and a mid-range, and one with an ultra-low simmer feature. Best of all, Consumer Reports rates it a good buy!

After going through the CR site, I decided on a couple refrigerators and dishwashers -- all either Kenmore or Kitchen Aid, and we headed out to the closest Sears store. I didn't want to spend much more than $500 for the dishwasher, but the one I really wanted was a $900 Kenmore! But, on the CR site, I found a very nice alternative for $500 and planned to get that one. When we got to Sears, the one I really wanted, the $900 one, was on close-out for $550! It was a floor model and black! We snatched that one right up.

As for the frig, we were really limited by the height restriction from our cabinets. We found a very nice black side by side Kenmore that fits the space. The microwave that we already have in the kitchen, which happens to be black, also happens to be the highest rated of its type on CR -- so no need to get a new Microwave!

The coolest news, though, was if I got a Sears credit card, I'd get a 20 percent rebate on all Kenmore products I bought with the card that day. So,yes, I got a card! We'll get something like $300 back!

It was a great shopping experience! The new stuff will be delivered April 14. Hurrah!

Now, for Len news. He was accepted at Georgia State Law School! The reason that is such great news is that he had not yet been accepted to any Atlanta school when we moved here and in the back of my mind I started to freak out since the decision process was taking so long. Phew! Now we wait to hear from Emory and see what Len decides. Life is good.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Technology Problems

Wouldn't you know it: I had the same clunky old cell phone for three or more years and when I finally get a new, swanky hi-tech phone, it is one of the few in a defective batch. Yep, my new pink RAZR is one of the RAZRs that drops calls. ALL THE TIME. It was really annoying. So, I checked the internet to see if I could find out what to do about this problem, and Cingular's site tells me they are happy to replace the defective phones -- AT THE POINT OF PURCHASE. Trouble for me is, I moved last week from Seattle to Atlanta. Crap, I thought, I have to wait until Len goes on his next business trip back to his Seattle office to get a replacement. But wait, I had an idea -- maybe Cingular would take pity on me and let me do the exchange in Atlanta. I called, waited only a short time after navigating through their crazy system and was told, "No problem, we'll send you a new phone and include a pre-paid pack for you to send the old one back." Hurrah! It's a hassle to replace the phone, but these things happen. It's nice that Cingular has made it easy for me to make the exchange. Very refreshing!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Some Alone Time

We're here in Georgia now. Four days, twelve states, two colds, and four dogs later, we are here. Len was sick the first day of the drive, so I started us off. It took 40 minutes just to get out of Seattle, since we left in the middle of morning rush hour. We drove over the mountains, through the desert, back over the mountains, through some snow, and all the while the hounds were quiet and calm. I'm not good at driving during inclement weather at night, so Len handled the driving after dark through the "chain-up" zones in the mountains.

We stopped that first night in Livingston, Montana at the Livingston Motel Inn. The proudly announced on their sign that they accept pets and horses. You read right, horses. The place had horse stalls behind the rooms. It was actually a really nice place, run by a husband and wife team. It was very clean and offered really every amenity available in the chain hotels and then some.

Days two through four featured lovely clear blue skies and almost no traffic problems. We stopped in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on night two, Blytheville, Arkansas on night three, and drove by Graceland on day four before arriving safe and happy in Albany.

Had we not both gotten sick this week, it would have been an uneventful cross-country journey. We're feeling much better, thank you very much, now that we've had loads of rest on comfy beds.

Suzy and Clark have been spectacular hosts -- never a dull moment in a house with nine dogs in residence! Yesterday we went downtown to participate in the annual Mardi Gras Pet Parade. I personally feel Devon should have won cutest pet, but some little girl's dog got that one. Ashley's greyhound, Kelsey, won best dressed, so we celebrated a victory in our group! And, for dinner last night, Clark made a fabulous jambalaya. Yum!

As I type, Len, Suzy, Clark, and their friend Fred are on a long bike ride (we couldn't fit two bikes on the car with the roof pod, so we only brought Len's bike). I'm home attempting to recreate my famous pizza for the troops. I'm having to improvise, since my Baking with Julia Child is stored in a box on a Graebel truck somewhere. We'll see how well I can do without Julia's guidance!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Dogs Bark and Time Passes

Here I sit, in what is very likely my last hour in my Seattle basement office, waiting for a proof of my March magazine. The movers are here, taking all our worldly possessions away, and Maggie is barking incessantly at the other dogs for breathing her air. It's going to be a long drive back to Georgia.

The movers are very nice, but they have already damaged something -- they had trouble getting our green sofa out the door and they hadn't placed padding over the doorways. The fabric caught on the hardware and ripped slightly. I think I can easily repair it so that it is not noticeable, but Len and I were both there when it happened and you could almost SEE our hearts fall to our stomachs when we heard the ripping sound. The first casualty of the move. Let's hope there aren't any more.

Poor Len is sick today -- and he's never sick. He coughed all night last night and it's just not looking good for the drive for him. I'm really exhausted. We finished packing everything last night, but I had to do some work for the job. I interviewed a very nice man in Hong Kong at 5 p.m. (9 a.m. Monday for him) and since he was the last of the interviews for that article, I was able to complete it last night. This morning I was told it was "superb" -- a compliment I'd like to get more often, for sure! -- so that is one less thing for me to worry over on the journey home.

As soon as that proof comes on the magazine, I'll print it out, box up the computer gear, and head to the closing. Phew. Almost there.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The final stretch

Today was bath day for the greyhounds. We have one more weekend before the move, but I was afraid I'd be too overwhelmed to get them bathed then, so I went ahead with the torture. Maggie always amazes me with her mass fur production. It was everywhere. Scully took it like the girl she is -- resigned to it, just like when it's toe-nail-clipping time. There never was an easier dog to groom. Makes up for her crazy behavior otherwise. I'm waiting until the temperature is a little warmer this week before bathing Daisy and Devon. Those two really can't handle the cold -- even though I turned up the thermostat for the big hounds today.

They will all be clean for their visit with their aunt and uncle and their many cousins.

I'm packing up the kitchen and my office this week and Len is handling the garage. Amazingly enough, that's it. It has been difficult living amongst the boxes for these last several weeks, but we won't have some crazy crunch time just before the movers come, so it's worth it. Be prepared. A new concept for me.

Of course, I do dream of a time, oh, about five weeks from now, when our lives are back to normal -- whatever that is. All the boxes will be in some recycling pile somewhere and our stuff will be in their new home. I really don't want to do this again for a very long time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My Spoiled Girl

Sometimes a picture really says it all. Miss Scully is in her element.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Maggie Goes on Vacation

The people who are buying our house sent over their appraiser today. Mr. Bond, Mike Bond, asked if he could look around the yard. I just asked that he close the back gate when he was finished. Later on, I let the dogs out and looked over at the gate to make sure it was closed. It was, and I went back in to the house and started my lunch. I let three dogs in, figuring Miss Maggie was being here usual slow self. Several minutes later I called out for her outside. Nothing. I checked the side yard and behind the shrubs. Nothing. The gate was still closed. I went inside and checked the basement. Nothing. Checked the bedrooms. Nothing. Checked the basement again. Went back out back. That's when I saw that the gate wasn't actually locked, but ALMOST locked.

I hopped on the scooter and trolled the neighborhood, calling out, "Maggie, maggie!" I asked the mail lady if she had seen a greyhound. I asked the utilities guy if he had seen a greyhound.


Finally, I came back to the house and saw my neighbor, Darlene, in her yard and asked if she had seen one of our greyhounds. She said she hadn't, but pointed toward my house and said, "There's one."

A nice lady who lives TEN blocks away had driven up and had Maggie tied with a rope.

She said this was getting to be a second job for her, that she had returned a dog just yesterday.

I said I was very glad she had returned this dog.

Maggie, I hope you had fun today. You bitch.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I really like pink

I have a new cell phone.

I've been harassing Len about my phone for some time. My cell phone was 3-4 years old and came with the service that I took over from Len when his company provided him a phone. I'd been dutifully waiting until that service ran out so I could get a new phone for less money and a service that fits my needs. Then we moved to Seattle and I told Len not to get a cell phone since his company will probably provide one. Of course he went ahead and got a phone. Meantime, my contract had run out last year and I've been going month-to-month before deciding what to do. I didn't want to take his new service over (yes, he did get a phone from his company) because I didn't want to change my number, etc.

So, now that we are moving back to Atlanta, I wanted to get a less-expensive contract, etc., but my service is in Len's name so I couldn't make any changes without him.

That's why I'd been harassing him.

Anyway, the harassment finally paid off yesterday. Len went to the Cingular store and changed both our services to the Family Plan and got me a new phone with the same number. Best of all, I got the coolest phone available (I think so, anyway). A Motorola RAZR -- in PINK!

It's very thin, but substantial and has all the features I need and then some (I can take pictures -- I was so far behind the times!!!). And it's PINK! Very, very cool.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Pins and Needles

I haven't posted in more than a week because Len asked me not to blog about our Seattle house until the buyers have their inspection. I'm sitting now in the guest bedroom with all the dogs while the potential buyers are roaming around the house with an inspector. Len, I hope I held out long enough for you.

Anyway, yes, our house has an offer on the table. We placed a brief ad on Craig's List last Sunday and by Sunday night we had two inquiries on it. The first couple came on Monday, liked it, and made us an offer. We've had a dozen or so other inquiries since, so we probably could have held out for more from someone else, but these people were very nice and they made it easy for us. They want in at the end of February, which means Len can come with me to Georgia rather than stay behind until the house closing.

Coincidentally, we had our inspection on Saturday for the house in Decatur. Len flew out on Friday night and returned last night. A few things came up that weren't the best, but we're going to work it all out. The only serious issue is that the roof needs replacing soon. The owner has already offered a sum of money to take care of repairs, so I think we'll get most everything done except the roof. We will see.

It's a very exciting time.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

We have a contract!

Well, I did it. I bought a house! After a lot of drama that included losing an opportunity to buy a house by one day and viewing about thirty or so houses in East Lake and Kirkwood, I happily settled on a house in Decatur. I looked at a lot of crap. Really. Some of those places were uninhabitable, expensive, and situated next door to a crack house. I was very discouraged. The farther I got away from the area I thought I really wanted to be in, the cheaper the houses were -- but also, they were much more inhabitable. So, farther away I went.

Aside from things like a decent yard size for the hounds and enough space for our stuff inside, I really hoped to get a fireplace and a front porch. I was looking in East Lake and Kirkwood because I thought I could afford a house like that -- but it turns out if I could afford it, the house was either microscopic, or uninhabitable. Crap.

We found a decent place off a section of Memorial Drive that wasn't all that great, but I decided that was fine -- and planned to put in an offer on Friday morning. Karen, my favorite realtor lady, called first thing Friday to let me know the house had gotten an offer Thursday and the owners accepted. Huh? The place was on the market for months and it gets an offer the day before I planned to offer on it? Crap. I was even more discouraged.

Karen and I planned to meet Friday at 1:30 p.m. to continue the search. In the meantime, I made a list of houses I wanted to preview from the street and decide if I wanted to bother going inside. I hadn't looked in the area north of Decatur Square because I didn't see anything I liked that I could afford. But, there was this one place on Sycamore that looked kinda boring and small, but it was worth a look. I headed for Decatur and got onto Sycamore, but couldn't find the place. I noticed a "for sale" sign on a side street and drove by. When I got to the driveway, I really liked the house. When I saw the price on the flyer, I was really excited. I liked this place, I could afford this place, and it was in a great location. I couldn't wait to meet up with Karen!

I had some time, so I went to some other places on my list and met Karen in the very cute neighborhood south of Decatur Square called Winnona Park. We both loved the hood, and the houses were nice, but I told Karen we should really go by this house off Sycamore. We went and we both fell in love. Really. Karen almost couldn't contain herself -- when you spend nine hours in one day with a person, you get an idea what they like, and Karen really had me pegged. She'd also spent time with Len a few weeks earlier and felt pretty confident he'd like the place too.

We looked at a couple other places, but that one was it. I decided to make an offer. We did all the necessary stuff and she faxed it to the listing agent, who happened to be the owner's sister. Karen called the agent to see where we stood and was told the sister was on her way to look at the offers. OFFERS? Karen asked. Yes, the house, out of the blue, got three offers that day. What? Karen said that, by law, that realtor cannot claim to have multiple offers unless she has multiple offers, so we were pretty confident she was telling the truth. Crap. I reconsidered my offer and made it full price (which was still very reasonable, considering the comparable houses in the neighborhood) and I upped my earnest money. Turns out all the offers were the same except mine featured more earnest money. I GOT IT!

It's .8 miles from the MARTA station, just over a mile to Decatur Square, 2 miles to Emory Law School, 1.5 miles to the Dekalb Farmer's Market, and there is a Pet Supermarket .5 miles away. The location is ideal! The house has a cute front porch with the same kind of tile as Suzy and Clark's front porch. The place is a 1947 bungalow, it has a fireplace, a decent sized yard for the hounds, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a newly remodeled kitchen -- but the kitchen is TINY. But, it works and is nice. I am very pleased.

Now, we just have to sell this place in Seattle. Know anybody?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Rude Awakening

Here it is, the day before I leave for Atlanta to buy a house and I thought I'd get some clothes together for the trip. I've been wearing old jeans and sweatshirts lately, and I've already packed a lot of my clothes in boxes for the move -- just left out what I think I'll need in the next few weeks for work and home. Well, I haven't worn a particular pair of jeans since November because they are cropped and it's been too cold. I thought I might take them to Atlanta since it's warmer there. I tried them on today, thinking since I've been a little lax in the weight maintenance department since my class reunion (see previous entry with pictures of pizza), I thought I might have to wear them a day to give them a little stretch -- you know what I mean. I can pull them up and button them, but these jeans will not be comfortable on a five-hour plane ride. Crap. What have I done? They were PERFECT in November. Sweats are a terrible invention. Glad I found out now and not two more months down the road. I gotta pull that scale outta the box it's packed in. Crap.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Gimme a Break

I am pooped.

I've spent the last two days painting and packing and cleaning and I am exhausted. Len is at the laundromat, laundering things like king-size comforters that are too large for our residential washing machine. I just completed all the touch-up painting in the house and right after I finally get to take my shower for the day, I'm going to caulk the tub and the kitchen sink.

I ordered a nice sign for our yard today, plus a metal frame like realtors use and a nifty plastic box for the flyers. Have I mentioned we are going to sell this place by owner? We are going to try anyway. Since we've only been here a year, we haven't built up much equity. If we used a realtor, just to break even, we would have to get $45,000 more than we paid for the place 14 months ago.

The Seattle market is still pretty good, but I'm afraid it's not that good. Our starting price will be about $30,000 over what we paid -- in case someone comes with a buyer's agent we have to pay. Without an agent on either side, I think we'd be happy to get $5000 or so over what we paid last year -- that will help take care of the excise tax here in Seattle. I'll take pictures for the flyer later and will post a PDF for your viewing pleasure.

In the meantime, I've been back in the kitchen, making pizza -- we've had it a lot lately since I've been trying to perfect the crust. Len doesn't want pizza out any more since he says mine is so much better than we can get elsewhere. High praise! I include here a couple pictures of my latest creation -- whole, and a slice so you can see the crust is crisp enough to stand on its own. I rock!

Saturday, January 21, 2006


It's been an entire week since my last post, but since there has been so much activity in this house I have loads to say today. Actually, I think I'll let my pictures speak for me.

Our floors in the bedrooms desperately needed refinishing before we put the place on the market, so we had to bite the bullet and pay the $2500 to have the work done. Monday morning, two mysterious Russian men came to the house to begin work. I never got their names and one of the men never said a word to me. The younger guy did all the talking -- which is not saying much. A few months ago, I pulled up carpet in our bedroom to reveal that the previous owners had left terrible stains and paint on the floors before covering them with the carpet. I really looked forward to seeing what -- if anything -- could be done to make the floors like new again.

These two guys set to work and, except for all the noise, never bothered me. The dogs handled it all pretty well and stayed with me in the basement all week. Maggie didn't like the noise much, as it threatened her beauty rest, but none of them seemed scared or worried about all the activity going on above us. The two mysterious Russians sanded the floors, stained them, and slathered three coats of poly over them in four days. Tonight, Len and I get to move from the basement back into our bedroom.

In the meantime, the house is a wreck, with the contents of both bedrooms and the three affected closets piled high in our living room. I just noticed last night that you can see the piles through our front window. The piles of stuff, and the fact that folks are still coming by to buy things Len posted on Craig's List must make our neighbors really wonder what the heck we are doing over here. When we put out the "For Sale" sign in the yard this week, the neighbors will understand -- and probably be a little grateful to see us strange folk go!

The Russians finished the last coat on Thursday morning and now, two days later, the stench from the coating has all but gone away. At one point it was so strong upstairs that my throat hurt from breathing in the fumes. That's when the hounds and I went for a walk in the neighborhood for some wet, fresh air. In any case, the floors are complete, and they are magnificent. I can still see a couple spots where the stains were too deep to sand off, but I think that's only because I know where to look. The floors look new. The stain is nearly identical to the color in the rest of the house, too, so the floors don't look out of place. We are very pleased with the results.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Four Lenders Are Competing for Your Business

Yep, you got that right: Four lenders are competing for my business. FOUR. At least that was the message I got when I applied for a mortgage pre-qualification letter from the Three of said lenders have already contacted me in hopes to earn my business. Well, for once I'm in the financial driver's seat.

Lucky for me, my credit is excellent. Who knew? We learned last year when we bought this house in Seattle that someone had stolen my identity several months earlier and had taken out a phone in Detroit in my name. They racked up more than $1,000 in calls in one month and then skipped. When I found out, I called the phone company and sent them information showing I didn't live in Detroit at the time -- actually, I've never lived there -- and, voila, my credit was cleared of that blemish. It doesn't even show as a warning on my report. I'm very grateful to be married to such a good solid guy as Len -- I'm sure it's his influence that has made me so straight-laced and credit-worthy.

So far, it looks like the best rate I can get is 5.75%, but I haven't done any real research -- one point can mean a lot, so I'm not choosing the first good-looking loan that comes my way. I think I'll make them woo me before I decide.

Week after next, I'm returning to Atlanta for the big house-hunting trip. I have found several places that look wonderful on-line. But, I need to see them in person before making the big decision. My plan is to make an offer (or two) while I am there and hopefully come back with a contract in hand. I've learned my lesson and will be very aggressive in my offer -- how LOW can they go? There are something like 75,000 homes available in Atlanta right now. It's definitely a buyer's market.

Here in 98105, there are just 5 houses in the range in which we plan to list our house. That's very good news, especially since I personally would not look twice at any of those houses if mine was available. I really think we'll sell our house quickly for a price close to what we hope to get. Fingers are crossed. Toes, too.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Boxed In

Where is the camera when I need it? We had a bit of sunshine today (23 days of rain and counting), so I decided to scooter. The sunshine fooled me into thinking it was warmer than it was -- the moisture in the air cuts to the bone. Still, I wanted to soak in as many rays as possible, so I drove around a while thinking of ways to be productive. We needed clean newsprint for packing material, so I went to our neighborhood moving store and bought a 25 lb box. It was about 3 feet wide, 1 foot deep and 6 inches thick. I bought it before thinking it might be difficult to take home on the scooter. Turns out it was no problem! I laid it longways and tall on the tiny back rack and took a bungee to it. I wasn't winning any fuel-efficiency awards with that as a windblock, but it was secure and I was able to get it home easily and safely on the back of my ride. I couldn't find the camera to take a picture of this feat of genius for this blog entry. Bummer.

So, I started packing some more -- anything to get out of finishing the painting of that basement. Most of the knickknacks and pottery are now safely snuggled in together in several boxes marked "FRAGILE." Tomorrow, I paint.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Jumping Jesus on a Pogo Stick

Moving is a drag.

We're well into the pack and purge part of the move and it seems we have a never-ending supply of crap. We've gotten rid of chairs, a dresser, bicycle stuff, rugs, and other things I'd long-forgotten we owned and there is still so much we can get rid of. The crazy thing is we have carted some of this stuff what seems like 100,000 miles on various moves -- some has never been unpacked.

The ideal is to have only the good stuff shipped back. Anything good -- but we don't want -- will be given to GoodWill. Anything that is truly crap that no one will want is headed for the dump! But, I keep finding things that I don't really love and that are no longer my taste, but the item reminds me of some part of my life that I want to hang on to. Argh! I'm my own worst enemy!

The hounds know something is up, I think. Maggie has begun to follow me around -- very unusual -- and Scully and Daisy are even more needy. Especially Daisy. Devon is as oblivious as ever.

On a very positive note: Devon has made his weight goal! I should have mentioned this weeks ago -- but he's down to 12 slim pounds from 14.5! Good work, Little D! You get a Bravo! sticker!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hood Canal

Len and I went to a friend's cabin at Hood Canal for New Year's Eve (that's me pictured on their deck that overlooks the canal). Our friends Jeff and Steph are just wonderful people -- and I'm not saying this on the off chance that they actually find this blog and read this entry! Really, though, they are just terrific people. Truth is, if we were going to stay here, I could see us becoming very close. Jeff works for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation -- and it's so cool when he calls us, because the caller id on the phone says "Bill and Melinda." Steph is a vet. For the first time that day, we heard her stories from the time she was a large animal vet. Very fun stories about her shoving her hand... well, you get the idea...

The day before, we went to a party on Bainbridge Island celebrating the New Year and to say goodbye to yet another of Len's co-workers, Thomas. Thomas (he's German, so it's pronounced TOE-mas) is leaving the company to be VP of Clinical for a pharmaceutical company outside of Philadelphia. Congrats, Thomas!

Len's law school applications are complete, so now we wait. We've begun to pack our things and we have big boxes filled with our carefully packed stuff in the dining room and in the living room. Len is going to Atlanta this weekend for a work-related project, so he'll check out a few houses while he is there. It's starting to feel very real.

Len has been so successful selling our crap on Craig's List and on eBay, that I decided to try to sell a few things. I'll leave the cash in my PayPal account and use it to buy stuff later -- when I won't have extra money to spend. My first eight auctions ended tonight and I am happy to say I'm $435 richer tonight! Wahoo!

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year, New Life. Right?

I guess I can say it now.

Last year sucked. But, it was really cool, too.

We moved to Seattle in January. We loaded the four dogs into our wagon and drove from Atlanta to Seattle in three days. It was a hard drive that should have taken two more days than it did, but we wanted to get the hounds on solid ground as quickly as possible. I have very little memory of that journey -- except that Wyoming was most unimpressive.

After the move, we settled in to our new life on the West Coast. At first it was ideal. Everything was a new adventure. Len started riding really, really long distances with a bike club. He traveled alone over the mountains and through the deserts of Washington State on his bicycle. I joined a couple knitting groups. I settled in to working from home. This town is really beautiful and vibrant and exciting and interesting. It was fun.

And, then, it wasn't fun any more.

Len's job wasn't working out as he hoped and, in fact, it became pretty clear early on that the company probably wouldn't last long. It was difficult to develop roots in a place that I knew wouldn't be home for long.

I got really lonely. I'd find myself crying in the car on the way to the grocery store. I didn't want poor Len to know how I was feeling, but it was getting harder and harder each day. Then, one day he said he wasn't happy, that things weren't going well for him at work and that maybe this move was a mistake -- which I firmly believe it was not a mistake, but rather an adventure. But, finally! I could say something about how I was feeling. So, we discussed and considered and thought things through. When Len asked me how I'd feel if he went to law school, I was thrilled!

So, now we had a plan.

I started to enjoy Seattle again, knowing I wouldn't live here forever. We've been to Museum of Flight, we've gone to some of the surrounding islands and communities. We saw salmon jumping at Ballard Locks. When Suzy and Clark were here we did wine country and when Betsy was here we went to the mountain town where Twin Peaks was filmed. I've seen the Space Needle more times than I remember. I've ridden my bicycle all over this town. Now that I have a scooter, I've scooted everywhere.

We've met some fabulous people, too.

Okay, so the year hasn't outright sucked -- it's been pretty good, after all. We had a great adventure. I'm truly glad we did this. But, I can't wait to get the hell home.