Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Perfect Isn't Easy

My plan for an easy move is to let go of my idea that it will go without a hitch. It won't. It occurred to me that since my bags are packed, I could gas up the car and keep going. I know a great hiding spot in Virginia.

Ahhh. In a perfect world, the staff would be doing this grunt work. Since I AM the staff, chief cook and bottle washer, I'd better get busy. Here is a little Bette Midler to entertain you. Hope your day IS perfect:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mood Rings

This morning, I awoke to this:

And this:

Which made me think of this:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

To-Do or not To-Do

I have little stickies everywhere. I'm running out of space, and after awhile, I tend to ignore my lists.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Foto Friday

Swing Time. I have a feeling there won't be much of this for a couple of weeks.

This is the back deck where a generous amount of firewood is stored beneath the deck. Too bad the fireplace is gas.

Here will be a job and a half: cleaning those windows, and if there is luck, getting them to open. The bubbly young teenager who lives next door told me there was a deck fire last year at this house, and there was extensive soot and smoke damage. Ah. That explains the color of the water when washing the walls. Yellow.

The landlord was kind enough to leave this for me. He must have known how much elbow grease would be required to spend on the windows and walls. He took pity on me and was really only thinking of our convenience.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Toilful Thursday

I love the kitchen.

My front door. There is wood as far as the eye can see in this home.

I'm pondering the tile work here. I own a couple of pieces of Pewabic tile, and I think this may be the real deal. I don't know where the fireplace screen is hiding. I may have to buy one. The stained glass picture was made by my sister Mareseatoats. It was the first thing, besides the Dyson that I brought in here. Eventually it'll be hung in a window to catch the light.

I took 800,000 pictures of the kitchen. I'm a little disappointed they took the oven that was in there and swapped it out for a Henry Ford Museum piece. I may replace this, but I don't know what I'll do when it's time to move again. Perhaps I'll just make do for now.

Sebba went over there today with her girlfriend and cleaned the house from top to bottom. She busted her behind and I'm eternally grateful. She's a good girl and cleans like 10 Merry Maids put together. She expressed concern over the carcasses of 3 moths that she found-she's worried about my wool (and hers too).

On a different note, I've gotten someone to work for me every single day except next Wednesday. Starting tomorrow at midnight, I'm officially on vacation. Yeah, right.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Doggone It!

Poor Dagmar-all dressed up and nowhere to go. She was a sweet Dachshund.

Within the story of my life, there are recurring characters. They share certain qualities and physical aspects: warm bodies with cold noses, undying love, faithfulness and a desire to belong. With some dogs, I've had to share more than I expected. Like Heidi, another Dachshund who had a penchant for my Thumbelina doll. She went through a false pregnancy then took to my dolly as though it was her litter. I couldn't get near that doll for weeks. Since I can recall, I've always had a pooch. I'll admit I've made some spur of the moment choices that turned out to be colossal mistakes, but for the most part, most of my dogs have been great.

This is Dagmar and Layla. Mom called Layla, Lollie.

On March 4th, I felt the door to being a dog mom slam shut. I was certain I could never love a dog again. It hurts too much when they leave too soon. My older brother had his dog for nearly 20 years, and when she died, he never got another. He meant it when he said he would not get a new dog. He spoils everyone's dogs, but he won't get a new one himself.
Layla and Hildagarde

For weeks, my husband and son have been secretively searching for a new dog. They want one and keep telling me we are a dog family. We're meant to have dogs. Until Monday, I'd steadfastly refused to even look at pictures they would send me. There I was on Monday, looking for something online when I clicked on an ad for a local shelter. The next thing I knew, I was drooling over pictures of dogs, each one cuter than the one before.

Stranger beagle dogs I met driving down a country road

I have no plans for immediately getting a dog. I think I need to let the dust settle, but the other day, I strongly felt the heavy door creep open just a bit. There is room in there to love another dog. That Moose sure looks like a charmer though this time around, I think I'd like a dog of more manageable size. Like Hitch.

We're getting the keys to the new house today, and I'm back to work tonight too. The movers are scheduled for Tuesday morning. What I'm getting at with all this hemming and hawing is if I'm absent from this site (or yours), I've run out of time. Don't send the sled dogs to find me-not unless they're hauling beer and carrying muscle bound men who know how to pack and move.

See you soon and I promise, if nothing else, I'll post pictures.

Hey Lady?

Can I move in too? I need a home.

Oh, Oh. Pick me-pick me-pick me!

My name is Hitch. I'd like to take a ride with you. I do not eat a lot and I'm a svelte 19 pounds.

Uhm. Hello. My name is Moose. It is not a reflection of how much I eat. To the contrary, I'm dainty and I think I'm a lap dog. I love to be held like the baby that I am.

Look at my sweet face. My name is Trooper. Look at my pretty brindled coat. I promise not to shed. Much. The neighborhood dogs told me you're moving to a city that loves dogs. I think I'd like to live there with you. Think about it, won't you? And don't think too long, I'm in a shelter that doesn't have a no kill policy.

All I can say is they're wearing me down.

I am spending the day with my favorite women. We are going to an ANRS conference down at the casino. We'll be the loud ones near the roulette table if you'd like to buy me a birthday drink. See ya there.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Moving Along

Wednesday, we get the keys to the new house.  Finally!  We'll start moving some things over there this weekend with Monday and Tuesday next week as the real move in dates.  A short four days later, my current residence will become Rachel's Place.

I made no progress on my to-do lists this weekend.  None.  I did however make progress on the thick and thin cardigan.  It awaits only sleeves and trim.  I'll start the sleeves today, but I'll have to knit them one at a time because they're knit from the top down and I only own one US 15 circular needle.  This has been a super fast knit until I got to the dark green trim where the stitches exploded from 60 to 180 and the 2 X 2 pattern slowed me down a bit.  I did cut short on the trim thinking the hem would fall in an unflattering spot on my big behind.  No sense drawing attention to such a place.

I did not find a shade of Cascade 220 that I liked for the trim, so I substituted this part with Mission Falls merino worsted.  It has a pretty sheen to it and I'm pleased with this change.  It's a beautiful yarn and I kept wondering what I could make next with something as soft as this. I have several things to finish before I go forward with anything new, including the green sweater and the pi shawl.  I'm a little flustered by the green sweater because the decreases in the upper arm make it just too tight.  I was warned about this flaw in the pattern by knitters who've been there on Ravelry.  Did I listen?  Nah.  If I would just sit still, rip out what's done and redo the sleeves, I'd be done with this.  

Now that I have some dates settled, I think the knitting may be taking a back seat for awhile.  Not for long though.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


This morning, the postal carrier brought me a most precious package. It was the urn I ordered from Debra (From Skilled Hands) and her husband Steve. Duke is finally at rest in a spot on my mantel, and this urn is a work of art. Sometimes when I'd look at my dog, I'd wonder how his black coat could appear to be such deep a shade of blue, so this piece is a great tribute to him.

I called to personally thank Debra for making this and we had a wonderful and long talk. It's funny, but from reading her site, I feel like I know her well. From Saturday's comments on my post, I'd say she's a fierce advocate and someone I'd like having in my corner. When I hung up, I had a feeling that in an instant, the world seemed a little bit smaller and more manageable. I made her a promise that I'd detour off my usual path the next time I travel to Virginia and come to meet her in person. I want to see her town that she so eloquently writes about every Monday.

On the day that Duke died, I got emails from quite a few people, including bloggers. One such email was from Brenda. She knew she had my address somewhere, but couldn't find it. Not wanting to wait, she scanned a beautiful card and sent it to me the fast way. I was so touched by her words of comfort.

A few days later, I got an email from a man named Steve Smith. Being a trusting soul, I opened the email he'd written to let me know that Amy had made a "fabulous donation" to his Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Montana as a memorial for Duke. I was flabbergasted. Like the Grinch, I think my heart grew two sizes that day. I'm touched to my core by the actions of people I know only through words.

Yesterday's responses to my post about lessons learned humbles me. Your words of wisdom and support give me the courage to plow ahead with all of the tasks ahead of me, including taking on government agencies. I'll do that Monday. Today, I'm going to reflect on the fact that indeed, this is a small world and we aren't so very different after all. We are all just trying to get by and if able, make a difference. Let me say here, you have all made a significant and positive impact on my outlook. Thank you for your inspiring words and deeds.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lessons Learned

We've had quite a lesson in economics and the disparity between the haves, and the have nots this week.  This isn't a post about politics because really, those guys are all the same to me and in my mind, they're all in bed together.  This is more a post about the bureaucratic nonsense I've been dealing with in trying to make this transition with my daughter.  

At the beginning of this month, Rachel's social worker came to visit with an agenda for me to accomplish in the coming month, beginning with applying for food stamps for her.  In Michigan, it's called a Bridge Card.  Outside of social security disability, my daughter has no income and needs to buy food once she is living on her own.  Line by line, we went through the 20 (or so) page application and filled out only the requested information with dinner plate icons at the top of the section.  This indicates the need for food stamp assistance.  We wrote in depth notes on the back of the application to explain her change in status from living with mom and dad, to assisted living.  I was told to take the completed application to the Department of Inhuman Services (DHS) and hand deliver it to a worker.  Being the good girl that I am, and full of guilt that I'm even asking for precious resources for her at a time like this, I did what I was told.  A lovely woman at the desk, in what appeared to be a war zone full of refugees, took my app and told me that this case would be expedited and my daughter should be getting $25 a week for food in no time.  And I, all smug now, walked out and checked the task off my list.

Fast forward one week to today.  There I am in my jammies with barely one sip of coffee consumed, when the DHS worker from hell called me.  She bitched me up one side and down the other, made me feel extreme guilt for even asking for these services, and told me "she doesn't meet criteria for expedited services because she won't be living on her own until April 4th."  In the meantime, I was expected to provide her food for her.  Duh. I was berated for failing to get her a State of Michigan photo ID and that she'll get nothing until I provide that.  Rather than scream back at her, I started to cry.  I am so overwhelmed that this wretched woman was easily able to send me over the edge.  Having nobody to really lash out at, I bit my husbands head off and made him go take care of this.  

My husband, who is at his own end of the rope trying to cope with my insanity (and fears my tears more than my sharp tongue), gathered the necessary documents including guardianship papers, school documentation and her MiHealth card.  He picked Rachel up from school and went to deal with Michigan Secretary of State for a state ID.  The non-verbal child with an IQ of 25 was of no assistance in establishing her identification for the strangers.  They just weren't sure we had enough documentation to prove who we said she was.  A conundrum for yet more bureaucrats.  Rachel was asked to sign her signature on her ID paper or she wouldn't be able to get an ID.  Please.  Don't they read this blog?  The only thing she does with paper is eat it.  After this, it was time for the photo op.  They redid this four times because she couldn't understand the instructions to stand still.  There was lots of this chiding with repetitive instructions like,  "young lady, stand still".  After what seemed like hours, my husband returned with a new appreciation for the asses I've been dealing with almost daily.

So you see, this is the real economics lesson I've learned this week:  Let's see how many hoops we can make the average person jump through for $25 dollars a week (like anyone can eat well on about $3 a day), while the rich just keep taking, and taking, and taking their seemingly never-ending millions.  Makes me ill.

Dear God-please give me the wisdom to deal with all of this red tape and the fools I encounter.  I seem to need an extra dose of wisdom for knowing how to cope with mean people.  While we're at it, a six pack of beer and tonight's winning lotto numbers would help too.  Amen.

In My Dreams

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing

Over the years, I've pondered why it was the rich and famous got admitted to the hospital for exhaustion: what made them so tired they required medical attention?  How do I get a rest like that?  I don't need weeks, nor a hospital stay-just a little dream time.  Now where are those packing fairies?  One just can't get good help these days.

Watercolor and drawing: William Blake

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who Could It Be Now?

The Universe is conspiring against me today.  First, Rachel only had a half day at school.  While I'm busy trying to get things done around here, I'm chasing her around the kitchen in circles.  The phone keeps ringing too, and I'm close to turning the ringer off.  The county wants to send a nurse over here to evaluate my daughter.  Her only openings are Monday through Friday at 4PM.  I can't tell you how many times I told this non-listener that I start work at 4PM and her appointment times are not convenient to my schedule.  I tell her I'm off all day Monday and Tuesday next week, and she tells me she's too busy to come out on those particular days.  I have pleasing fatigue.  I'm tired of trying to make everyone else happy.  Now, since we've known this day has been coming for months, why am I only now hearing from a very important nurse about her very important job and her very inflexible schedule?  I'm trying very hard to roll with the punches here, but why do people think I should be the one to do all the bending?  It's my damned house I'm giving over to the greater good of 4 young women.  Why can't these people try to work with me with just a tad bit more flexibility?

Just as things finally settled down,  and I sat down to knit another row started to get another box packed, I heard a car blasting the horn in the drive-two toots every 15 seconds.  This went on for 4 minutes.  Just as he was pulling away to go find someone else to torture with noise, I snapped a shot of the culprit.  Silver Lincoln.  Could it be? Yes, it's  Mr. Larger Than Life in the wild.  I wonder, and I know that's a waste of time, why he can't come to the door like every other human on the face of the earth.  I will not respond when I'm summoned in this imperious manner.

Last week, he did come to visit and brought 2 stale donuts and some ice cold coffee.  I was told by those in the know, that the coffee and donuts were meant for someone else he tried to visit.  I was his second choice when they weren't at home.  Nobody is fooling me.  I bet they were home and like me, were just refusing to answer the horn.  Let me just say, if there is not suitable fawning over the extremely kind gesture of cold coffee and stale donuts, MLTL's feelings get hurt.  There will be retribution for my failure to acknowledge him having gone out of his way to bring this to me-never mind that I was his second choice, and the real reason he brought it is he can't bear to throw something like this away.  God only knows what he wanted today, but I wasn't going to risk finding out.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Are you hungry?  How about a little piece of pi?

I know my own pi doesn't look half as tasty as the first pi, but behold the spiraling blob. It's not a metaphor for my life, at least I hope it's not.  It's my attempt at pi.  Or more precisely, a circular pi shawl.  I won't be so cheeky as to say I'm in control of this blob. I'm not. I'm just doing my best to put one needle in front of the other in order to go someplace pretty awesome, and to help avoid deep thinking.

Hey, who got π on the floor?

This has been an interesting process so far.  What began as nine stitches, doubles at rows 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64.  Although you can't tell from its blob-like appearance, that needle is now holding 576 stitches.  According to the Gates and Ladder pattern, I can keep going until I have up to a total of 158 rounds.  There aren't directions for what I should do at row 128.  I won't have pi anymore if I don't double my stitches at that point.  WWYD?  Double or not?  Since two rounds takes me about an hour (2 rows), take your time getting back to me.  I think we have some.  Time, that is.  In the meantime, I'm calling Rose.  She's the one who made me start this whole mess.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I've been making some headway with packing-at least that's what I keep telling myself. I know I have accomplished quite a bit, but it feels like I've done nothing. I keep getting sidetracked by things, like sweet pictures of the kids when they were little. I was going through a stack of photos when the enormity of what we're doing struck me. Hard. It was one of those early pictures of Rachel, the ones that I can look with 20/20 hindsight and see Autism's calling card. It was a time of sweet ignorance, when we knew something wasn't quite right, but had no clue what it would mean to us, or her. I'm always surprised by this seemingly never-ending grief for what might have been.

After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes
by, Emily Dickinson

After great pain, a formal feeling comes
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?
The Feet, mechanical, go round
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone

This is the Hour of Lead
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons recollect the Snow
First-Chill-then Stupor-then the letting go

Sunday, March 15, 2009


While Rudee and her husband were pretending to pack shifting piles of belongings from one area of the house to the next, Slaveboy was out at the zoo playing with his camera. Yesterday, his excuse was golfing on the first nice day of the year. He also took the picture of the peacock up above.

Even the cats were lounging.

I'm not moving anything that never gets used-like this eye shadow that has lived here as long as I have and hasn't been used in just as long.

I'm having a harder time with the few nice pieces I have, like the Shelly teacups and saucers, and the hand painted Nippon china that's really old. Or the gold champagne chalices from our wedding day-I can't get rid of those. The silver creamer and sugar bowl were my moms. I can't do away with those.

I'll use my Waterford champagne flutes when we move. I swear. I love champagne. Here's a heads up for those of you who like to buy me salt and pepper shakers for gifts. Don't. I have way too many and even though they're all cute, I just don't have any more room to house them all.

And me? I'm lounging now too. While channel surfing, I came across Moonstruck, and I'm watching that instead of packing. I think it's a better excuse than golfing or taking pictures at the zoo.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's Been a Pleasure...

Tonight I can finally say I've seen it all and because of that, my end may soon be near.  My husband was taking me to Wolfgang Puck's restaurant for a bite to eat, but we got turned around and had a hell of a time finding the place.  We were northbound on the Lodge freeway, just past Bagley (I know, we missed the exit), when I noticed a freeway overpass where people had set up house beneath the bridge.  I kid you not, there were two side chairs, and a heap of junk that was clearly someone's belongings.  So you see, since I've seen it all now, things could soon be over.  I didn't want to take a chance and not be able to say, so long.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Take the Good With the Bad

Everything in life should be balanced.  If we had no bad in life with which to compare and measure the good, how would we differentiate our experiences?  The stories of our lives would be painted with a single brush, and in a single color.    When I find myself troubled, I try to take what's bothering me and measure it against the most horrible ordeal I've experienced.  I count the day I sat in a psychologist's office, and heard his opinion of my daughter's chance for a normal life, as the worst day in my life.  I measure all other bad days against this one.  Some days and events come close, but few surpass the pure misery I encountered that day.  For the record, it wasn't the news he gave me, but rather his cold and uncaring delivery of his remarks.  He made me envision a bleak and horrific future for us all.  In short, he was an asshole.  At the time, I never told him so, but eventually, I did.  See Andrew?  You're still getting bad press for that rotten bedside manner you demonstrated 16 years ago.

With that in mind, I've waited to hear about my job for a month, while the entire time, I've been on pins and needles.  I measured my feelings against my bellwether day, and although I couldn't match how I felt on the worst day of my life, I was still incredibly worried.  With great relief and gratitude, I can tell you my job is safe.  I've spent an agonizing month worrying myself silly.  I've not slept through the night since we were given the news that we may be unemployed soon.  I'm so thankful that I cried when I was told today, but now I'm concerned, not for myself, but for other employees of my health system. Surely, something's gotta give.

I've been reading Paul Levy's blog about running a hospital.  He's proposed some interesting changes at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and a lot of what I've read makes sense.  He's also opened up unique forms of communication with the employees of the hospital that fosters open dialogue and problem solving.  These forums are for all employees, not just management.  I'd embrace some of his ideas in my own hospital because I don't want to see any person that works for my health organization lose a job in these times.  I would forgo my raise, and (some) personal time off if it made a difference for the financial health of my institution, and continued employment for my coworkers. 


Skirting The Issue

I'd like to point out that in order to procrastinate on packing this crazy house up, I've cast on for yet another project.  This began innocently enough whilst on a quest for the trim yarn to match the phat yarn I bought for the thick and thin sweater (it's almost ready for sleeves).  I wanted Cascade 220 to follow the pattern, and I'd found a perfect substitute with Mission Falls worsted weight.  Not one to be easily satisfied, I went to my second favorite yarn store to snoop around for some of what I really wanted.  Interestingly, both yarn stores are owned by nurses.  I think that's why I choose to spend my money with them.  

Well the owner of my second favorite store (we'll call her Rose since that's her name), was showing off a project she'd just finished with her own hand dyed wool, and the next thing you know, my bag was stuffed with 1125 yards of her merino superfine, and the pattern book to get the job done.  Surprisingly, I didn't realize how she shmoozed me right into that purchase until I was 5 miles away.  She even offered to help me with it if I got stuck.  Lace is not my area of expertise, try as I may, I always flub it.  Just ask last month's lace project that's still in a time out. I did not find the Cascade color I was searching for, but I did find one that was close.  I think I may be done making up for time (and yarn) lost while on my yarn diet.

I don't think I'm going to tell you what it is, as I'd prefer to make you guess.  What would start out on double points, and take every last yard of the wool to knit?  What do you think this wants to be if I don't mess it up?

Hows about a little close up?  This yarn is as smooth as the nape of a baby's neck.  I can't put it down, and I realize in part, it's because I have no idea where to start in terms of packing my belongings and scheduling the movers.  I have a list.  I have lots of lists with things to do.  In fact, I've started to-do lists for my to-do  lists.  Instead of getting busy, I'm following the mantra K3,yo,yo,k3,k3tog with dogged determination.  It's as if I've fallen into a state of disbelief.  Who do you think will pack my stuff up if I don't?  The packing fairy?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It Ain't Love in the Air

What a night I've had.  There was drama, there was craziness, there were worms, there was death and there was one ghoul.  No doubt about it, the moon is full.

The worms were found on a patient.  I've seen this before-parasites like anything that's rotting or decaying.  I could never be a forensic pathologist-let alone a forensic entomologist.  The bugs would do me in.  I much prefer the more deadly bugs one can't see with the naked eye.  Out of site, out of mind.  

The ghoul was the funeral home employee.   Some people who retrieve bodies for funeral homes have a ritual of leaving a rose on the pillow after they remove someone from a home.  I've thought about this for many months, and I can say that without a doubt, this just creeps me out.  Some may not mind it, but for God's sake, if it's ever me, I hope they don't do that to my family.  Is that supposed to make somebody feel better after the loss of a loved one?  I think it falls a little short.  Want to make my family feel better when I die?  Cut them a deal on the cost of the funeral.  That beats one lousy rose all day long.

Would the rose on the pillow seem creepy to you?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

La casa de Rudee

I find myself unable to show you any more pictures than this.  It'll have to suffice until we take possession, and then I'll give you the HGTV tour.  The realtor never got an opportunity to upload their other pictures before I snapped this place right off the market.  When I was in the middle of going through this house, the homeowner came home, and I'd have felt awkward taking pictures of his home for my blog with him standing there.  Say dude, could you just manage to smile a bit for Rudee's friends?

Look at that porch.  Isn't it lovely?  Can you picture having an ice cold beer, iced tea or glass of wine on that porch after a long day's work?  I can.  The house faces east so in the heat of the day, the porch will be shaded.  I'll have to put the bottle of sun tea out at the crack of dawn.

I have never made a decision so quickly in my life, but after speed dating this house, I have no qualms.  Here's what I know:

Built in 1913, this cedar house has a new kitchen, bath, paint job, roof and furnace.  All of the appliances are new (and I mean brand new), and so is the central air.  I could smell the still fresh aroma of a newly built deck.  The bedrooms are spacious- though the community rooms could be a bit larger.  There is a beautiful fireplace in the living room and windows all over the place.  I could bullet all of the finer points of living in this town, but I think I did that yesterday.  It's not as spacious as Charming was, but all in all, it has fewer warts, and it's $400 less per month.  That's a lot of yarn.

Here's a question for you:  if the house is of cedar construction, is it naturally moth proof?  

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Was There Ever Any Doubt?

I Don't Wanna Talk About It

Well I do want to tell, but I won't.  

Ok, I will, but only a little.

I put my offer in on that house yesterday.  I've got everything crossed that can be crossed, including my Ts, fingers and toes; now I'm just waiting to hear from the agent.  The house went on the market Friday, and  it's a race to see who gets approved first, then gets a certified check to the agent immediately upon approval notification.  Guess who has already been to the bank today?

I'm not showing pictures, because I'm beginning to feel cursed.  I'm hoping to change my fortunes.  How about if I just tell you about it and try to paint the picture with words?

  • It's a craftsman style home that has been well tended.
  • Hardwood floors throughout.
  • Windows everywhere you look=bright and airy.
  • Charming living spaces both indoors, and out.
  • Giant front porch has a swing made for two.
  • Giant back deck is only missing friends, family and the menu.
  • Remodeled bathroom upstairs that will accommodate men who are more than 6 ft tall .
  • Remodeled powder room on the main floor.
  • Remodeled kitchen with beautiful cabinetry, granite countertops, and new appliances.  More than one cook would fit in this kitchen-I realize this should have its own bullet point.  Just as readily, it will fit more than one dishwasher of the human sort.
  • Just a couple of blocks from my favorite yarn store.  Even a blizzard couldn't make me think twice about heading up there.
  • Add one more block to get to the hair salon where my stylist works.  (I just wanted to say I had a stylist).
  • Add three more blocks to get to the best Belgian restaurant outside of Belgium.  I can smell the mussels and the beer they brew right there.  Their Truffled Mac and Cheese makes me very happy.
  • Add three more blocks to get to the farmer's market.  It's a Saturday thang.  Lucky for me, I don't work Saturdays.
  • Hop in the car and drive the half mile to Trader Joe's.  You need the car only for the haul.
  • In the mood for a concert?  There are free ones in the park near city hall, or you could go to the music theatre 3 blocks from home.
  • Need to get to the freeway to go see a patient?  It's less than a half mile away.
  • Worried you shouldn't have had that 2nd glass of wine with dinner, because now you have to get home?  Well don't.  Worry, that is.  You walked to the restaurant.  Go ahead and finish the bottle.

Zip, Nada and Zilch

I got an email today from my brother about the state equalized value of his home, his tax burden in respect to that inflated number, and a question.  He wanted to know (very tongue in cheek), what were the chances that he could sell his home at the state's number.  Only one answer came to mind, and it was one of those answers I could hear my dad saying:

"Slim and None, and Slim slit his throat."  Gee, I guess that leaves None.

I had a good laugh over that one, but when I was a kid, it was the last thing I wanted to hear in response to a request.  I'm quite certain my brother didn't hear what he wanted from the tax man either.  The value of homes in this state is shockingly low.  When we sold my parent's home 2 years ago, I was shocked at how little we got, but in hindsight, I'm feeling blessed it sold at all.  I'm convinced that the person who bought it would be unable to get a loan for it with all the money woes these days.  We were blessed indeed.

The SEV (state equalized value) means nothing these days.  I know ours is roughly double what we could get for our own home right now.  The respective tax burden does not reflect the decreased values.  Shocking, I know.

Let me tell you how it will be,
There's 1 for you, 19 for me.
Cuz I'm the taxman...

Monday, March 9, 2009


I got on the scale last week and almost fainted. I knew that I'd gained a bit of weight over the winter, but sheesh, 14 pounds? I need to stop making pasta and baking lemon bars. Perhaps it would help if my brain could recognize one lemon bar as a serving size. Here's the thing, I always get through the holidays without gaining an ounce, and then it all goes to hell on January 2nd. Come the beginning of March, I get on the scale and panic. You'd think the snugger fitting clothes would be my first clue, but I usually find an excuse to explain that. You know, like someone dried my jeans on high heat and shrunk them. Again.

For two months, I've been eating my heart out to help me cope with all of the stress I'm facing. Interestingly, when I'm stressed in a different way, with something like a major loss, I can't eat anything. Since I don't eat when I feel this way, I usually find another outlet for my anxiety, like spending money on things I don't need.

While this month has pretty much sucked so far from an emotional point of view, it does mark the end of my self imposed yarn diet. I won 11 skeins of Cascade Jazz on Ebay last Monday, and although I found no joy when it was delivered Thursday morning, I've been showing the 1100 grams of brightly colored yarn a bit more appreciation today. Since I saved $100 by winning it on Ebay instead of paying retail, I took the savings and bought 2 pair of Keen's last night. They were on sale too and I think I saved about $80. One of them is a pair of Mary Janes that looked cute with my too tight jeans and my hand knit socks. The other is a pair of fleece lined, boiled wool slippers. How could I resist that? See how that works? I take the savings and keep on spending. I recognize that I'm using some discombobulated form of rationalization-much like the shrunken jeans-vs-expansion of my backside thought process. At this rate, I may be broke by April 1st. But what the hell, it's only money.

I know you can't tell, but this is a raglan top down sweater in Jazz, a thick and thin yarn. I cast on Sunday morning, and I'm already working on the body.

At 3PM today, I'll make a decision on the house. I'm seeing one last property that's--heaven help me--two blocks from my favorite yarn store. In fact, it's so close, I usually park near that house when I drive to the yarn store. Just think of how much I'll save by walking there. 

Fitted Knits Thick and Thin Cardigan, by Stefanie Japel

Top photo google images.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Something's Missing

It's just so damn quiet in this house these past few days. Last Saturday, I awakened to the sound of ferocious barking. There must have been barbarians at the door, or squirrels on the telephone line that crosses my yard. My dog had a hair-raising bark that gave fair warning to any who stood on his property. I miss the noise. I particularly miss the nightly ear rubs and his quiet moans and sighs of contentment. Oh! This is so hard that at times, it takes my breath away. My routines with him are broken, and so is my heart. For a couple of hours at a time, I'm OK, then I see something that reminds me of him, like these photos on my camera, and the next thing I know, I'm blubbering like a baby.

When we got Duke, it was really a poodle I wanted. A standard sized, fluffy black poodle. I'm not one to dress up a dog, or shave its hair in odd ways. I love the look of standard poodles with their fur all grown out, and generally speaking, this is a smart breed and easy to train. My son, who was a shy 11 year old at the time, told me, "if you get a poodle, I won't love it." I believed him, and researched hard for something else. I didn't want to risk getting a dog he couldn't love-or break an 11 year old boy's heart. It wasn't long before we were all piled in a car driving west to go meet our newest family member. He was from a large litter of very active pups, all of them barking, scratching to get out of their barn, and taken as a group, a little overwhelming. My son, delighted by all of the racket, sat in the middle of this melee of puppies, and was completely bewitched by the pup who climbed onto his lap and promptly fell asleep. There was no bartering, and no begging; it was a done deal from that moment forth.

Training this dog was difficult. He was not one to tolerate a crate, and when jailed in this manner, the entire neighborhood could hear his complaints. As much as I researched this breed, for some reason, I must have missed the part about their genetic issues. I think he had most of them. I missed the part about the chewing too.  It was incredible to watch him chew toys and watch him use his paws like he had hands with opposable thumbs.  He could untie the thickest of dog ropes with his teeth.  He didn't chew the ropes until he had them untied.  This boy chewed anything and everything in his path, but had a special hankering for expensive shoes.  Not everyone's shoes, just mine.  One day, I remember yelling at him over one particular shoe he chewed, long after the deed was done, and just like that, he never chewed another pair. It was as though something clicked and he finally got the message.

In his prime, this dog reached nearly 150 pounds.  He was huge.  When he was about 8 months old, I went out of town, and when I came home, it was like I was seeing this giant with new eyes.  It seemed that overnight, his chest had become massive in size, and finally looked to be in proportion to those long, long legs.  Maybe I was just seeing him with fresh eyes after a trip, but truly, I think he grew to immense size while I was away.  With his great stature, this dog was almost regal in his behavior.  He would go for walks around the neighborhood as though he owned it, and one of the few dogs he ever barked at was the Great Dane who lived a half a mile away.  It was no coincidence that the dog he chose to bark at was the only one bigger than him.    With the exception of Mr. Farmer's Kerry Blue Terrier, Duke never barked at other dogs.  He hated that terrier, almost as much as he hated the farmer behind us.

While other dogs avoided her, Duke loved Rachel unconditionally. They had a symbiotic relationship-she had the food, and by default, so did he. If she had something in her hand that he wanted, he would just take it from her. He never snapped at it, he just pulled it away from her, then she'd pat him on the head and go and get them more to eat. I was unsuccessful breaking the habit of him taking advantage of the weak.  These two worked well together. Even though she was unpredictable with movement, he was never skittish around her and trusted her implicitly. He taught himself to tell me when the bus was at the end of the drive.  He'd yip, not really bark, and this heralded Rachel's return home from school and thus, snack time. I don't know how Rachel feels about his absence here, or that she even notices it, but I think she does. When she came home from school Wednesday, I told her Duke had died. She came up to me and held my face in her hands, and hugged me. I think she knows, and just like the rest of us, she misses him.

Two years after I got this dog, I lost my dad. I went through such a terrible depression during those months that followed his death, that if not for this dog, I don't think I'd have weathered that time well. It was for him that I even got up every day.   I had to see to his needs even though I didn't care about my own. When I was feeling really down, I'd go lie down in bed, and the next thing I knew, I was being snuggled by a great big dog. Eventually, he'd fall asleep, and push me out of bed with those long, stilt-like legs. When I got up, he'd instantly awaken as though kicking me out of the bed was his plan all along, and now we had to go do something for him. Even up to last Sunday, his favorite thing to do was play hide and seek. I'd hide, and he'd search me out. No matter how hard the hiding place, he'd find me-as long as it didn't involve stairs.

With all of these big life changes upon me, I don't know how I'll weather these storms without my buddy. I've lost 4 pounds since Wednesday and also, most of my joy. My sister and I had a long talk the other night. Neither one of us think my Duke could have tolerated a big move and all the upheaval associated with leaving here. Perhaps the timing of all of this was meant to be. It doesn't hurt any less, but does ring true for me.

Duke's remains are ready to be picked up at the vet's office. I've been in touch with Debra (From Skilled Hands), and her husband is going to make an urn for Duke's ashes, and personalize it for me. Bless her little artist's heart, she's even offered to place his remains in the urn if I send them to her. I've never felt compelled to do this for a dog before, but I feel I owe it to him.  This way, he will have a prominent place in my next home, and this new chapter in my life.  

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Reading Between the Lines

Or, how to decipher a real estate agent's ad:

  • Traditional 1920's home in desirable neighborhood. (It's the smallest home with a great location, but check out that built in yarn storage system.)

  • Walk to town or lake. (It's too crowded to drive around and you'll get there faster on foot.)

  • This old house has been well maintained and includes a new kitchen with granite countertops and handsome cabinetry. (The house is ancient and the kitchen is the size of a postage stamp, but that's ok, there's much less floor to wash.)

  • Sun filled Florida knitting room off formal dining room, beautiful hardwood floors and abundant storage. (Abundant only if you use the knitting room for storage. Isn't that why there are free standing storage facilities?)
  • Updated bath. (Notice the singular to describe bath. It's the only one in the house. On the upside, that means it's the only toilet to scrub.)

Let's revisit the first bullet point: Nearby neighbors of this home include the ones who have been dead for a hundred years or more, and now reside across the street in the cemetery. Given the macabre nature of my calling, does it come as a surprise that I love walking around a vintage cemetery? I can promise you, I'll get to know them by their names and their headstones, and so will you. I'd have to join the My Town Monday group that Debra posts about and links to just to introduce all my new neighbors.

Of yesterday's shiny new home with the Jane Jetson bath, and today's vintage charmer, which one do you think I'll choose?

I promise you, the decision is at hand and you'll miss my house hunting escapades when I begin to write about packing, moving and separation anxiety. Don't say you weren't warned.

Friday, March 6, 2009

You Snooze, You Lose

I discarded the alternate title of the early bird catches the worm. It reminded me too much of the high price of my laziness.

As I was checking my credit report for my lease application today, I got an email from the realtor. As you can surmise from the title, and alternate title of this post, we didn't even get the opportunity to make an offer, and the house was leased out last night to someone who was better prepared. Although I feel an intense pressure to find a home, I felt no pressure to fill out the application yesterday afternoon and told the agent I'd do it on Friday. Damn, the place has had no offers since it was listed on December 5th. That's what I get for procrastinating and taking the time to wallow in self pity this week.

Just in case you can't tell, that's Brazilian cherry flooring. This floor is throughout the main living level of the home.

The search is on again. As I write this, my husband is driving past two other homes I looked at on Wednesday. We are not without options. Two of the places I saw were on my short list, and they're still available.

Not a soul has trashed this kitchen cooking a gourmet meal. I'd be the first, and believe me, I can trash a kitchen once the flour starts to fly.

There was one house one in particular, that I found stunningly beautiful. It's a brand new home in a mixed neighborhood of old, new, remodeled, and brand new homes. The builder has been unable to sell it, probably because of the deflated market and lack of vision for people moving into the area. It appeals to me because it is new. For the same reason, it worries me. I'd have to install all of the window treatments at my own expense. This seems to be the only wart I could find on this one. What do you think?

Now here is a bath suitable for Jane Jetson. Hopefully, it comes with an owner's manual.