Saturday, December 27, 2014

Snow for the Holidays

OK, it's just a little snow, and two days after Xmas, but I'm on holiday, so it still qualifies. The weatherman says we got about an inch, and it's melting pretty fast, but I got a few "picture postcards" out of it:

The view from our front porch.
The neighbors' pyracantha bush (nicely trimmed) with its bright red berries.
One of our desert willows and the wee short wall we had built to reflect
the "pyracantha" neighbors' wee short wall.
One of the great things about working for a state university is the two-week Winter Break. This year, I only had to use one vacation day to make a whole two weeks off. I got my car tended (30,000-mile check-up and a way-overdue wash) on the first Monday and have been luxuriating in time to read, sew, watch movies & HGTV, and mess around on the Internet since then.

Two of my Xmas prezzies this year are the books shown below:


Yes, at my advanced age, I'm going back to basic art class (figuratively--I school myself, as usual). I never really learned much about colored pencils, so now I have no excuse not to try. I hope my stupid hand tremor doesn't interfere; I do pretty well when cross-stitching, so maybe concentration helps. Anyway, I need a creative outlet, so I'm going to give it the old Girl Scout try.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


We had hoped that the lump on Annabelle's lower jaw was just an infection because the vet was able to extract some fluid from it, but we gave her all the antibiotics he prescribed and the lump never shrank appreciably. Sister A. had the impression from the vet visit last time that he didn't really think it was "just" an infection, but it was worth a try. A. took Annabelle back to the vet last Thursday to have the lump looked at again and, unfortunately, the news wasn't good.

The lump was a big tumor that had grown to an inch long inside her little mouth. We had noticed that she seemed to be having trouble eating and drinking. The vet said this type of mouth cancer grows and spreads all over really fast. We kinda knew this was coming and had talked it over. We didn't want Annabelle to suffer, so we decided to let her go over the Rainbow Bridge.

We'd only had her 2.5 years. She came to us as a refugee when her previous owner, the grandmother of a friend of ours, had to go into a nursing home (and, as it happened, never came out). She was a pretty thing, despite her runny eyes--mostly white with a calico tail and ears she stole from some other kitty, and one brown spot on her rump. She always greeted us when we came in the door, rubbing all over our shoes and jeans. She became very attached to A., and if A. stayed out in the yard too long working, Annabelle would "scold" her when she came in. She loved to nap on top of A's bed pillows, play with an old pink shoe lace, and follow A. all over the house. She also liked to sit on the back of the living room couch, watching the birds out in the yard and chirping at them non-stop. And each time she finished her dinner, she would proceed to stampede from one end of the house to the other, the thunder of her tiny feet on the cork flooring sounding like a herd of tiny horses.

She also threw up rather a lot, but we were getting that under control by only feeding her little bits at a time. She was not a self-regulating sort of kitty. :)

But now her health problems are all over. Annabelle is sitting on her Gram's lap, purring up a storm.

Have a good time, sweetie.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Plumbing and flooring done, cat situation in progress...

My bathroom and the floors in & around my bedroom were completely finished by last Wednesday. I very much enjoyed having my en suite potty back and all to myself that evening. The tiger stripe bamboo that was replaced looks exactly like what was there, and everything in my bathroom looks the same, so there's not much point in putting up new pix of it.

In the middle of the leak and repairs, we noticed that Annabelle, our youngest kitty, had a big, hard lump on the lower left side of her jaw, so Sister A. took her to the vet last week. The vet got some fluid from it, so we are trying antibiotics on her. Hopefully, it's just an infection and not a fast-spreading mouth tumor. We'll know by how well it responds to the antibiotics. We're pretty sure it's shrinking now, although the lump is still hard. If it's not all gone by the time she finishes her antibiotics, we'll have to get a biopsy.

In order to get medicine into Annabelle (because bagging her in a towel and trying to shoot it into her mouth with the dropper did not go well), we're feeding her stinky goodness with gravy and mixing it up really well. So far, so good.

Minnie and Sammi have caught the scent of meat, too, and are enjoying Annabelle's new diet now & then (sans antibiotics, of course). Minnie hasn't had wet food in so long, it's pitiful--I used to give it to her every morning, but stopped when I moved in with A. because she doesn't like the smell. Hmph. I may be rethinking that move--it's not really fair to Minnie.

Back to house stuff, we have a bit of insurance money left over from the repairs, so we're going to have Frank the Handyman build a wee, short wall along the west side of the front yard (can't really call it a "knee wall"; maybe an "ankle wall"), which will match the one our east-side neighbors have (except ours will be red brick, where theirs is blond). It'll look quite nice & neat. I'll get a pic of what I'm talking about next weekend.

Next weekend, WHEN I DON'T HAVE TO WORK AT THE LIBRARY, hallelujah, because they're having the September book sale & I am sooooo not a people-person, therefore will NOT be manning the cash register or whatever. Sister A. will work some that weekend--she can have it! I don't mind grunt work, but I draw the line at volunteering for hours of social awkwardness. I get enough of that at my real job. :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Plumbing/flooring update

The plumber's scanner guy did an ultrasound on our floors to find the leak, and it turned out that my vanity and all my floorboards had to come out, along with some boards in the hallway, the hall closet, and my bedroom. The plumber was able to jackhammer out a pretty small hole to get to the leak. That's the newer gray square to the left in the pic below.

The insurance adjustor came by to witness our travail and scared the crap out of us by saying that ALL of the flooring in all three bedrooms, the hall, AND the living room had to come up because it couldn't be matched. That meant every stick in those rooms had to be packed up and/or moved (for the third time, counting moving in and the previous remodel). I nearly had a heart attack. Fortunately, the reality isn't so bad--we were able to custom-order the same tiger stripe bamboo that we had put in before, and although it won't be the same dye lot (are floorboards dyed?), it'll be close enough and our handyman can feather it in with the previous boards to make it look good.

All the cork flooring in my bathroom has to be replaced, but cork is easy (and we were able to order the same cork as before). In the meantime, of course, my pot sits in my tub and the floor is nekkid.

The leak itself was fixed by the Wednesday after we noticed it. While working on the pipe in my bathroom by himself, though, the plumber had a bit of a problem. He turned the water on to test it and the pipe went a-gusher all over the room. He came running through the house to the back to shut the water off, chanting, "Not good, not good, not good." It was too funny! The problem turned out to be a pipe fitting that didn't (fit, that is), not another hole. He got it fixed properly the next day.

Speaking of the hole, here it is (two shots of same):

That tiny hole caused the entire problem and thousands of dollars worth of repairs.

By Thursday, the leak was fixed, the wet areas were drying out (we had big fans running day and night since discovering the leak), and we were able to move home after only six nights in the hotel. Sister A. was even able to do laundry at home that day. We were sure glad to be back in our own beds with our kitties, who were slightly freaked out from all the repairmen and neither of us being home at night.

My vanity is a little warped at the base, but Frank the Handyman says he can sand it down, paint it, and it'll be fine, so that saves us replacement cost.

The floorboards we ordered have already arrived and Frank picked them up for us today; they're now acclimating in the kitchen. Minnie has inspected all the materials--she's very efficient.

The red tube is a roll of underlayment. The big box isn't connected with the leak--that's a dishwasher we bought shortly before we discovered the leak. Yes, Miss I'll-Never-Own-a-Dishwasher (and that person is Not Me) finally decided she wanted one. We've decided to make up the cost of the dishwasher with a little of the insurance money, which means I get my savings back AND I still get a dishwasher! Woo-hoo!

Frank will start work on my bathroom and the flooring in about a week. I am soooooo looking forward to having my bathroom back!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Adventures in plumbing

We had a nifty surprise this week. On Wednesday, I noticed a spot of water in the hallway a few inches from my bedroom door. Because we have three cats, my first thought was a kitty misdemeanor, but it didn't quite look right and didn't smell like cat pee. I showed it to Sister A., we puzzled over it, then wiped it up, and went on out to dinner. When we got back...the water puddle was back, too.

OK, this is not looking good.

It looked even worse when I discovered water coming up between the floorboards in my bathroom, which, as the crow flies, is pretty close to that spot in the hall. I got a flashlight & poked around in the intervening areas and in the little closet space where the air conditioner/furnace and water heater live--no leaks there. A neighbor speculated that maybe the condensation line from the AC was clogged and shoving water where it's not supposed to go, but that appears not to be the case. We had a plumber out the next day and, yahoo, we probably have a leak in or under the slab under our house.

Double-plus ungood.

In this neck of the woods, since the end of World War II, many houses are built on slabs instead of over a basement or even so much as a crawlspace where a person could get to the pipes easily. I'm not sure why this was considered a good idea, since pipes have been known to spring leaks--especially 60-year-old pipes, like we have. Anyway, because of the location of this leak, our spiffy wood floors (that we just had installed two years ago) will have to be taken up in my bathroom and one end of the hall, and the slab will have to be jackhammered out in order to get to the pipe to fix or replace it. A guy is supposed to come out Monday to scan the floor and, hopefully, find out within 12 inches where the leak is. After that, the plumbers can start the jackhammer. Our kitties will NOT be happy that day.

This leak has required us to shut off the water to the house, of course, which means no showers, no flushing, no filling cat water bowls, no washing of dishes, hands, or anything else. For two ladies of a "mature vintage", the no-potty situation is the worst part (well, other than the hideous cost we were looking at!). As soon as we knew what we were facing, A. hopped on the phone to find out what our insurance coverage would be. Fortunately (BIG sigh of relief!), we'll be covered for all but about two grand. (We don't actually have such a sum on hand, but it's easier to find than, say, TEN grand.) And the cherry on top is that the insurance company has popped for hotel rooms for us until we can turn the water back on at the house. They'd also pay to board the cats at the location of our choice, but since the kitties use litter boxes (Minnie reluctantly, but she will if she can't get outside), they really didn't need to be uprooted. So we're acting as our own cat-sitters, going home now & then to feed, water, play with, and love on our poor abandoned cats.

The insurance company arranged for 19 days of hotel-living (separate rooms), but I sure hope it doesn't take that long! We should know what kind of timeline we're looking at by Monday afternoon. After the pipe is fixed, even if there's still a big hole in the floor of my bathroom (which is probably where the leak is), the house has two bathrooms so we can just shut that one off until we get the concrete poured and share a loo temporarily. Our favorite handyman will re-lay the uprooted floorboards; we have spare pieces of the tiger-stripe bamboo in the hallway and a piece of threshhold, so we should only have to buy a few pieces of the cork in my bathroom--if it can't be salvaged, which we don't know yet. We're hoping very much that the plumbers won't have to pull out my vanity or any other bathroom pieces, because that would lead to larger fixes. I think the insurance would pay for it, but still, what a pain.

The hotel the insurance company put us in is really freakin' nice--nothing we could ever afford! It's even got an indoor pool, which I intend to take advantage of. And a great breakfast spread, which saves us running back home & accumulating dirty dishes. Dinners may be a toss-up, but we'll try to keep it cheap. When we make our evening trip to the house, I'll put together my lunch for the next work day. And Alley will have her lunch at home while riding herd on plumbers, etc.

Except for the house getting torn up and the expense and the cats wondering WTF and the logistical challenges, it feels kinda like a vacation, what with the great housekeepers, the quiet, free HBO, and a king-size bed all to myself. And as soon as I turn the light off at night, it's PITCH BLACK! Sweeeet....

UPDATE: It would be nice if I could sleep normally, though. That would be very, very nice.... *grog*

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Another plan bites the dust

As you can probably tell (anyone who's reading this, which is no one), my photographic career came to a dead halt. It was actually part of an idea to promote fitness (mine, of course), to wit: go hiking, take pictures of critters and pretty things, lose weight. Well, that requires one to get up off one's hind end and actually go somewhere, which takes energy and/or enthusiasm, neither of which I appear to have. So I'll sell all the hiking and camera equipment (well, maybe not the last camera I bought--I kinda like that one) and move on.

Move where? Hard to tell. I used to be quite a creative person, but that appears to be all but gone. I don't know how to recover it. The lack of it leaves quite a big hole in my soul. Ennui is not much of a filler.

I'm still gainfully employed, thank goodness, and I think that job is secure...although my employer has proven rather too willing to shift employees from one department to another, which doesn't exactly make me feel comfortable in my already-uncomfortable little cubicle (which, after having a private office for at least 12 years, I still loathe). Guess I'll just keep working until they move me or I qualify for retirement or I just drop dead from stress, whichever comes first.

I often think about moving somewhere with mountains and trees (unlike West Texas), a smaller city/town, and working at freelance editing/proofreading from home. But I'm not a fool--I know that takes money, which I don't have because it's all in the house I bought with my sister a little over four years ago, and in the remodeling loans we're still paying off. In retrospect, that "partnership" was maybe not such a good idea. Not that the house is bad or in a bad neighborhood--far from it, it's the nicest house I've ever lived in, especially with all the improvements we've made, and the neighborhood is great. But Sister and I butt heads fairly often (mostly when she feels an urge to run my life) and I wind up feeling hemmed in and wishing (strongly) that I could be on my own again. I lived alone for most of my adult life and liked it just fine.

But she's on what is euphemistically called a "limited income", so...where would she go? For that matter, is there anywhere I seriously want to go? As Pigkiller said in Mad Max: Thunderdome, "No matter where you go, there you are." Can't patch a hole in the soul that way.

Anyway...just whining.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sky blue

See that blue? That's the blue I want to paint my Prius (currently black) after I get it paid off, which will be in ONE year.

That's actually a Prius v, and mine's a regular ol' Prius, but that's the color I want.

Yes, I am insanely bored at work right now.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New year, new... nope, same ol' me

I've had a very nice two-week Xmas break from work. I haven't done everything I originally intended to, but I did get in a lot of goof-off time, which is a good thing. Got to sleep until I was ready to wake up, read a lot, mess with the cats, and fiddle around online playing games and following a massive dog rescue situation in Washington (state, that is). I brought some work home (learning MS Access 2010 and fine-tuning an Access database I knocked out before the break) and actually did some of it, but nowhere near what I set out to finish. Meh--it'll be there later, and maybe the boss will let me cut out an hour or two a day to work on it. It's for The Good Of The Order, after all.

I don't make New Year's resolutions--nobody keeps them, anyway. I'm still fat & flabby, and I don't expect it to change anytime soon. At some point I'll get back out walking so I can keep up with my aspirations on my next vacation trip. At some point I'll get back to photography. At some point I'll feel creative again, maybe, instead of just working all the time and waiting for...whatever the hell it is I'm waiting for.

Gee, looks like I'm still a bit burned out on my job (or something). Time to remind myself how lucky I am to have a job.

The cats are all in good shape: Sammi is officially 10 years old as of New Year's Day, Minnie is 9, and Annabelle is somewhere between 6 and 8. None of them like each other, although Sammi will occasionally play chase with Annabelle. We're not actually sure of any of their ages, but those are close enough. If I can bestir myself, I'll try to get updated photos of them all tomorrow.