Monday, July 31, 2006

What a weekend!

Let's's what has transpired these past few days:

Friday I closed on my house and bought a refrigerator (which will be delivered just after I move in August). Friday night I spent the night in said house on the futon I brought with me. Before I went to sleep, I had a rough outline of what I was going to do the next day with or to said house to get it ready to move in. Primarily this involved an extensive list of stuff to clean. I debated whether or not I wanted to paint a couple of rooms before I moved in my belongings. Tried to vacuum the house, only to discover the vacuum malfunctioned and tried to set itself on fire. Went out to dinner at a restaurant with actual waiters to have a celebratory dinner. It was yummy.

Got rained on several times throughout the day on Friday and found that the water from the driveway of the house runs up the sidewalk toward the front door. It appears to be trapped by the grass/lawn which is a bit higher than the sidewalk. I may have to look into purchasing a drawbridge to go with my transient moat. If I get a drawbridge, I'll definitely have to get a troll and maybe a dragon too.

Ate cherry tomatoes while standing in my garden.

Saturday began at 0300 with a lovely, loud thunderstorm and a hard rain. And the sound of water dripping onto the bathroom ceiling. First order of business: a shopping expedition to Lowe's. Definitely wanted to purchase the replacement flashing for the plumbing vent pipes since that's probably where the water was leaking into the ceiling. I also needed a ladder to get to the roof and attic and some caulk just in case the rain didn't stop and I wanted to try fixing the leak from the inside. Then I decided to paint the hallway (due to the unpainted patches in the drywall from nail holes) and the master bedroom (due to stained areas on the wall).

I got out of Lowe's with a bill under $500, but almost half of that was my new ladder. It's one of the transmogrifiable step ladder/extension ladder things. As a step ladder it's tall enough for me to tape off the edge of the ceiling for painting and to get into the attic. As an extension ladder, I can reach up to 22 feet when it's fully extended. Just opened up, it's plenty high enough to get me onto the roof. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

So I used the ladder to climb up into the attic. this was not my favorite thing to do. I have an extreme fear of falling. I have, in fact, been accused of levitation so as to avoid falling. When I stepped off a rafter and put my foot on the insulation at Mitch's house I left a lovely footprint in said insulation, but I did NOT crack the plaster underneath in the ceiling. Several years earlier Mitch had done a similar thing in a slightly different location and popped a lovely section of plaster out of the ceiling. He's still trying to figure out how I managed to not crack the plaster. I can't explain it either, but lightning-fast reflexes and a bit of levitation could just be the answer.

The attic is the home of my furnace. It is filled with blown insulation, which resembles pillow stuffing. This insulation is full of little tunnels, about the diameter of a mouse. Although I did not see any live mice (and only one dead one), I had a hard time not picturing the mice running through the tunnels or riding on little sleds through them. It really reminded me of an amusement park ride. Mousecapades? Mouse Mountain?

Someone installed lights in the attic, complete with a switch, which was handy. I made my way to the end of the attic, found the area where the water was coming in and found SUNLIGHT. This is not a good sign in one's attic, at least not when you haven't got a skylight or window installed. I moved the insulation a little away from the damaged drywall to try and assess how big the damaged area was, but I was a bit afraid I'd find a mouse nest, so I didn't move things too much. I did find that I could not get the tube of caulk anywhere near the spot I needed to fix and wouldn't be able to even get to the other vent pipes.

So, time to assault the roof. I really didn't feel up to this. I kind of hoped that the rain would continue so I wouldn't have to go up there, but that would have just meant more water damage. I really hate the idea of falling. Did I mention that? There isn't really any non-scary way to get from a ladder onto a roof surface and I really don't like the whole pitched roof idea. I keep waiting for my feet to lose their grip and to slide off the whole roof. It always looks so easy on "This Old House". Asphalt shingles lose their little gritty bits, which make you think you're going to fall off too. But I managed to not fall getting onto the roof. Got up to the top and was standing there when my next door neighbor came out their front door. I'm sure she thinks I'm nuts. Haven't been in the house 24 hours and already I'm fixing to jump off the roof. :o)

The biggest vent pipe had a HUGE crack in the flashing boot. I tried to be neat about putting a bead of silicone caulk around it, but I'm afraid that I ended up slathering it on by the end. The crack was just too large for a neat bead. I did try to stay neat for the rest of the top. The flashing on the other two pipes was also cracked, but not as badly. I will have to figure out where those pipes are in relation to ceilings in the downstairs and see if I need to replace more drywall. BUt not when the weather is 96 degrees and the attic is an oven.

Managed to get off the roof without falling. Also took down the ladder without dropping it on me or anything of importance (or anything breakable). I went back into the attic and found that the sunlight was now blocked. I'll take that as evidence that the leak is stopped for now. The drywall repair will wait for later. Right now there is an area approximately 2 inches in diameter which is completely destroyed, but the ceiling surface is being held together by the textured stuff sprayed on the ceiling. I suspect that if a mouse so much as trod on that area that it would cave in, scaring the crap out of both mouse and me, I'm sure. I probably ought to put something across that section of drywall in the attic so as to prevent just such a thing from happening. I don't care to give the mouse colony in the attic access to my bathroom or other human living quarters.

While I remembered to bring cleaning supplies with me to Jackson, I failed to bring any TOOLS other than the car toolbox, which doesn't have things like a hammer or pliers, but does contain useful car things like jumper cables. So I couldn't remove the metal dryer vent pipe and replace it with a vent pipe that has a COVER to prevent rodents, snakes, birds and fairies from entering. I also couldn't find anything I thought would be suitable for filling the hole in the masonry around the vent pipe. Right now critters the size of a small skunk or possum can get underneath my house. That's not a good thing, esp not when they die in there after we re-enact "A Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe. But I can fix that next week.

Taped off and painted the entire hallway and the bits of the laundry room which will show above the washer and dryer. Cleaned part of the kitchen and master bathroom. Used leftover paint to put an initial coat of paint on the stained parts of the master bedroom wall, just to see if one coat would cover it.

Found that the dark marks on the master bedroom wall bled through the paint. Decided to buy some Killz to fix that. Removed the tape from the areas I painted Saturday. Finished cleaning the master bathroom. Taped the master bedroom. Discovered that Killz is horrible stuff to work with. It's nearly impossible to stir up by hand (at least on a gallon can). Should have perhaps only bought a quart, but I was planning to paint the entire bedroom with it until I started messing with it. It spattered badly all over me when I used the roller. Of course, being oil-based, this is rather a mess to clean up too. I got the brush I used cleaned up pretty well and my hands too, but didn't even bother trying to clean up the roller.

Painted the pantry (mostly done by hand due to shelf brackets that couldn't be removed). Painted the vanity area of the master bathroom, mostly by hand due to the roller not fitting into most of the space. Parts of it will need to be touched up. Cleaned out the bathroom cabinets. Weeded the garden. Ate more cherry tomatoes. Discovered that the dark marks on the wall in the master bedroom may have bled through the Killz too. Or I may have been being sloppy with my painting and didn't get good coverage, but I don't think that's the case. Hopefully it will be ok with the actual paint over it. The area that got painted, then had Killz applied looked ok, so perhaps the reverse procedure will yield an acceptable result as well. Decided to paint the yellow bedroom a different shade of yellow, but I already have the paint for that in Champaign.
Had a minor panic attack when I didn't think I was getting enough done. I really needed to clean out some of the kitchen cabinets, but I didn't bring a step stool to reach teh top shelves and I didn't want to deal with the mouse poo in the lower cabinets. So I got something to eat (I wasn't hungry but hadn't eaten in over 8 hours) and went to bed.

Was feeling less overwhelmed after a reasonable night's sleep. Cleaned up the hallway bathroom, except for wiping out the vanity cabinet. Tidied up the cleaning stuff, cleaned my room, washed the pantry shelving. Took out the trash. Drove back to C-U.

Got a phone call this afternoon from the Allied Van Lines driver telling me he'd be here in an hour to pick up the motorcycles. A day early. Good thing I got back to C-U before 5pm. :o) Kevin, the driver, got everything documented and loaded the bikes with out any trouble. I felt a little sorry for the guy as it was so hot and he was just dripping with sweat by the end of the exercise. I was surprised that he got the semi around the corner from Webber onto Green St, but he only had to back up a tiny bit just once. And he pulled the rest of the way clear. W00t! One less thing to worry about.

Now I just have to pack up everything I own.... Not really looking forward to that, but that's just too bad. Today I didn't get much packing done, but I'm pretty wiped from the past three days of cleaning, painting and driving. Tomorrow the packing will begin in earnest. Right after I take my car in for service and finish up my last day at CPD.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

4 pm!!

That's the time I close on my new house tomorrow! W00t! I leave within the next hour to head down there. I ought to get in to town about 9pm. In the morning we'll do a walk-through. Then I'll start making phone calls about setting up a land line. I've already got the utilities in my name. I should measure the spot for the fridge in the morning and maybe buy the fridge tomorrow so they can deliver it on Saturday. Then clean up the place Friday and Saturday.

I wish I could take lots of boxes down with me, but the futon mattress pretty much fills up the back of my car. I'll have room for some cleaning supplies, an overnight bag and me. That's it.

Anyway, that's where things stand.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I like trying to sleep when there's a good, loud thunderstorm going on. I don't think it's raining hard, but there certainly is plenty of thunder and lightning. So far the UPS hasn't gone nuts though, so that's good. Last storm we had I ended up unplugging everything because the power surges were causing the UPS to shriek every 30 seconds.

Bike shipment update:
I have gotten a new company to ship my bikes. Federal has got the gig now. They've already called to confirm everything and nailed down the spreads on pick-up and delivery dates. I'm hoping the drop-off day will be before I start work. They might deliver it as early as the 14th, I think, and as late as the 21st. I start work on the 16th. Keeping my fingers crossed.... The new company charges more than the old company, but motorcycle buddy Ken says they're a good company and he recommended them, so I think it'll be worth it.

House closing:
It might actually happen on Friday. I think they've got all the paperwork they need now.

I won't get much moved down there on this trip though. I'm going to take my spare futon mattress and some linens so I can stay in the house Friday night. I don't know if I'm going to try doing a quick trip with a little truck next week or not. That would depend upon when Federal comes to get my bikes, bewteen the 1st and the 4th. If nothing else, I can make a trip down with a little truck and trailer my car after the "big" move is done. In any event, everything I own will eventually end up in Jackson.

Elsewhere in my life....
Plans to go see a movie tonight never materialized. I was going to go see something tonight, but got caught up in watching a video I got from the library and packing while I watched. Suddenly it was 8pm! I've got most of the living room packed now. About all that's left is to pack up my CDs (after I rip a few more to my computer and iPod) and knitting magazines. the rest is all boxed up. I moved my road bike and the trainer, so cleared up a bit of room to stack boxes by the comfy chair. Tomorrow I think I'll pack up the built-in china cabinet and the stuff in the corner next to it. I also need to go buy more boxes. Should probably pull the stuff out from under my bed and have a go at packing up the garage/gardening stuff.

Friday is recycling day. Gotta remember to put out the junk boxes from the basement. Need to make a trip to GoodWill too.

Knitting progress:
I'm down past the heel again on the 2nd candy-striped sock. Near as I can tell I haven't messed it yet. I've been checking pretty regularly and have put a stitch marker at the beginning of the row so I remember to change what I'm doing.

The videos/DVDs of the past few days:
Under the Tuscan Sun, 28 Days, Erin Brockovich, Enchanted April, A Walk in the Clouds, Possession, End of Days, Constantine. Definite themes of travel to Italy and the supernatural. Seems to be something of a chick flick thing going too, which wasn't intentional.

What can go wrong today....

Well, let's see....

The company which told me it would be happy to ship my motorcycles to my new residence has now, two weeks later, decided that it's too expensive to ship to that destination and they're no longer going to bother with the shipment. Why they didn't tell me that then, instead of sending me an estimate of shipping costs, I don't know. Now I get to figure out how to stick two motorcycles into a U-Haul truck I may or may not be able to get AND fit everything I own around them, hoping they don't fall over and get damaged or spill fuel everywhere. Yippee.

Mowed Mitch's freaking yard again. And got rained on. I will mow that lawn one more time and after that the grass is on its own. Grrr. (Yes, I probably need fruit snacks. Bite me.)

Anybody else want to dump their crap on me? It seems to be the day for it. I need a bigger shovel and a compost pile. Then we'd be in business.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Getting closer....

to becoming a full-fledged homeowner. W00t!

Today I arranged for homeowner insurance, got various bits of paperwork faxed to various other offices. I hate making phone calls to strange offices and talking to people I don't know. It went very well, from what I can tell. Beverly, the mortgage lady, thinks I might still make a Friday closing date, which would be cool.

I have cancelled the moving truck for this week though, just in case I don't make the date. I don't want to load boxes on the truck on Wed/Thurs only to find out the closing isn't happening. I can load some stuff up in my car, like the spare futon mattress and go with it. That way I can at least stay in the house Friday night. I've already made arrangements for the utilities to be transferred to my name by then.

Next I need to find a home repair company to fix the dryer vent stuff if that isn't already taken care of. I have decided on a fridge. With any luck I'll be able to buy it on one day and have it delivered the next.

This week at the Police Department:
A pair of individuals got busted having sex at 2am in a local park. Glad I didn't have to see that. And a six year old girl got out of school (or some other activity early), rode the bus home, but didn't know how to get from the bus stop to her house. Fortunately there was a guy painting a house nearby and she asked him how to get home. He apparently called the cops to report a lost girl and she was given a ride home by the officer.

A friend of mine is all bummed out right now. A relationship he was in recently ended and he's a bit depressed and indicated he mostly just wanted to hide. I've been in that same spot before. Only thing that really helps is time and occasionally gorging on junk food or movies. Perhaps we'll catch a movie some time. Beaming hugs at ya....

Another friend is being a bit of a jerk lately. We had a discussion last night about some behavior he has which isn't particularly productive or constructive. Today he calls me when I'm at the PD to talk to me about it. I explain that I can't really talk right then, so he wants me to just listen. Except that later in the conversation (20 minutes later), he wants me to answer questions which I really can't do. I try to explain that so he asks the questions in a different way. This is annoying and I probably didn't sound very nice when I said I couldn't get into that just then.

So later today I end up calling him about a different matter and he mentions the previous discussion but says he only has 10 minutes because he needs to go eat. I said that probably wasn't enough time. He says he won't talk about all of it, just wanted to make sure I wasn't upset. So the whole thing gets dragged up and in the middle of the conversation there's apparently a knock on his hotel door followed by some chick giggling and telling him she'll see him later. He says "ten minutes" and then keeps talking about whatever it was he'd interrupted before.

Only now he's telling me that he'd said he didn't have time to talk before, like it's my fault this got brought up again. It's not that he needs to eat dinner, it's that he's got plans with other people. I *TOLD* him that I didn't want to get into it if there wasn't time, but why on earth would anybody listen to me. Now I *might* get a phone call later this week because I've been told that he won't have time tonight now to talk because he'll be out too late. I guess it's only important if it doesn't interrupt anything he's doing. And he wonders why I get irritated and mad or don't think that he only talks to me when something better isn't available to do.

When do I get to be important? Hell, I'm just buying a house, moving two states away from anybody I know and starting a brand new career ALL BY MYSELF. I guess that's not particularly important or stressful. Certainly not enough that anybody would want to listen about it. I'm tired of giving and not getting much back. I'm tired of being told I'm important and that I matter only to find out that that is only true as long as something else better isn't coming along. Tired of needing help and getting voicemail which may or may not get returned, depending upon how bored people are. Tired of being told I'll get help when I need it only to find out that some how schedules never quite work out that way and help, even just someone to listen to me, never actually happens. Screw it. I don't need that crap. I obviously can't rely on people and I certainly can't trust them. I guess I'll just do it all myself but people better quit expecting me to help them with their stuff. I think I'm entitled to be a selfish bitch.

Grrrrrrr. And yes, I *did* have my fruit snacks today. Bite me.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Three inches forward....

Six inches back....

I don't know what it is about me and my knitting lately, but I'm doing absolutely NO GOOD at making forward progress. Today I got almost halfway down the foot of a sock and found an error in the lace pattern. The error was above the heel and it would have been noticeable to me (thus would have bothered me every time I wore it). So I ripped it out and fixed the error (the whole row was wrong, so I couldn't just drop down the offending stitches and fix it that way). The finished first sock of the pair is pictured at the right. I'm not sure the second sock will get finished at the rate I'm progressing....

At least I've only had to re-do this particular sock once. The red lace sock in progress right now has been frogged back several inches at least five times. I distinctly remember re-doing the heel at least twice. Most recently I was once again halfway down the foot and saw a big lace problem right across the foot just at the top of the instep. Where I'd see it every time I looked down at my feet. Sigh.

You know, there's something to be said for being unable to decipher one's knitting. Once you are familiar enough with what you're doing you can tell when you've made errors. For me at least the errors then become very glaring. It might pass the galloping horse test to a bystander, but the sock would be on my foot while I galloped by, so I'd still be noticing it. Perhaps if the bystander wore my sock it would be better. :o)

Of course, this means I have to knit more tomorrow to make up for the negative progress today. good thing I got some videos from the library yesterday.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The last day at work

Work-wise, not much exciting happened.

Last Call:
My last call at work involved an older gentleman whose dog had gone across the street. The patient followed the dog across the street, sent it back home and when he turned around to head across the street himself, he got his feet tangled up and he fell, striking his face on the pavement. He had a nice nosebleed, a laceration on the bridge of his nose, a split lip, a broken partial denture and probably a broken nose. But he was the nicest person I've talked to in a long time. His dog was very protective of him and kept barking any time my partner entered the house, but he didn't bite or growl, just expressed his unhappiness with the strangers in the house. Eventually he relaxed enough to let me pet him and then he lay down behind his person's chair.

What made me a little sad is that the patient is still struggling to pay off his partial denture which is now broken and he's got at least one other newly chipped or broken tooth. I worry that he won't be able to get his teeth fixed and then will have trouble eating. He did apologize for sharing his troubles and I assured him it was perfectly fine particularly since he's not having a particularly good day. I tried to get him to talk about the leatherworking he does (there was a partially assembled purse in a box in the living room), but a friend came over to give him a ride so time ran out. I hope he does ok and that the denture wasn't too badly broken. He seemed like a nice guy. He seems to be doing quite well living alone. The house was a bit untidy, but clean (whose house isn't?).

I hate it when nice people have bad things happen to them. Or even things that aren't really bad, but just make life harder. Nobody needs to have their life made harder and with older folks on their own it's sometimes the beginning of that slippery slope toward no longer being independent.

Saying Good-bye:
At the end of the shift everybody gathered for a group picture. I was fairly certain that at least a few people wouldn't be there since they don't particularly like me, but everybody was present. I don't know if any cajoing or invoking of guilt was involved. I don't think I care. The picture turned out pretty well. Doug is going to make prints for me and I'll be sure to put one on my desk at my new job. I got a picture of Smalls doing his best "Mr. Universe" pose in front of the ambulance too. Compton just covered his eyes and hoped that the passing traffic didn't notice our silliness.

I got a bit teary-eyed clocking out for the last time. I managed to make it out of the building ok though. Lost it in the car on the way home. This is the first job I've ever had where I was very very sad to leave. Everything else was just a job. In the past three years, the guys on my shift became my family and I really am closer to them than my actual family. Because we spend so much time together (12 hour shifts 3-4 times a week at a minimum and almost all major holidays), we get to know each other and each other's lives pretty well.

Most of what I learned from them has been good, some has been painful. I have learned to control my temper and to think about what I say before I say it. Tom demonstrated some excellent teaching/mentoring skills and general personal interaction skills. I learned to constructively address a problem with somebody instead of letting it fester and explode later (and it went well). I have learned that it's ok to be upset about something somebody did, but to not be upset with that person. I have learned that just because someone doesn't like something I did (or that I made a mistake) doesn't mean the person doesn't like me. I have learned how to have friends. My life has been made richer for having known them and I will miss them dearly. I really do hope that at least some of them keep in touch and even visit. I will certainly make the effort to keep track of them.

Today it was weird to not be at work. Already things are changing. I stopped by this morning to leave blueberry muffins for the guys as promised. Toby has taken over my space in the roster. It just didn't feel the same to be there. I'm no longer part of the shift. Mostly I think I'm envious, knowing that they're off running calls and engaging in the usual banter. It's been a pretty gloomy day for me, even though the sun is shining. Not having much luck keeping busy.

"The End of an Era"
Dr. Ellis was in the ER on Friday and I told him Saturday was my last day. He is calling my leaving C-U "the end of an era". I guess it is. I've spent 20 years here. More than half my life. Until I came to C-U, the longest I'd lived in any single town was 3 years.

I think I'm okay with moving on with my life, but it's a bit sad too. There's a lot of history here. There are people and places here that I will probably never see again. I'm trying to look at the change as being a big new adventure, but right now I'm exhausted with keeping tabs on getting the closing done on the 28th, packing, making moving arrangements, making utilities arrangements and that sort of stuff. Needless to say I'm becoming a big fan of The Nap.

Elsewhere in my life:
After completely ignoring my existence for the past few months, last night I was acknowledged by B and told good luck. He also told me to not do anything he wouldn't do, but since he'll do pretty much anything and not give a damn how it affects anybody else, how hard will that be? He's still a jerk and an absolute liar, but at least he can pretend to be a decent person on occasion. Maybe there is a tiny molecule of decency in there somewhere. Too bad it's outweighed by the rest of the BS. I have come to the conclusion that he meant exactly none of the things he told me during the six months we were dating. It was all just an act to get what he wanted. I don't see that behavior changing with any subsequent relationship he's in. Update: B and R are now being referred to as "Rode Hard" and "Put Away Wet", but remember, they're not dating either. And the Pope isn't Catholic.

World Freefall Convention!
The World Free Fall Convention opened a couple of days ago. This year the highlight is jumping the jet--Perris Valley flew out a DC-9. The first load of skydivers out of it yesterday landed several miles west of the LZ. There is a HALO jump available again this year. It's the only 30,000' HALO jump allowed in the US. W00t! Fortunately for the campers the weather has cooled off quite a bit. I *hate* camping when it's in the 90s.

Yesterday, a few skydivers wandered, limped or rode into the first aid tent (miscellaneous cuts and scrapes, some road rash and a twisted ankle). Later in the day, a skydiver missed the landing zone and collided with a tree, sustaining a compresion fracture in the lower back. With any luck they'll be back next year and jumping again. All the skydivers who sustained broken bones last year are back this year. Last year two skydivers were killed. Among my co-workers, the prediction this year is that 1-2 more will have a fatal accident. The average is one a year, usually some sort of skydiver error. The incident I was involved in last year I believe was ruled skydiver error (cutaway too low and reserve chute didn't have enough time to deploy).

But the convention is about having fun. The people there are pretty cool. Very outgoing, strong personalities and generally pretty happy. Living life on the edge and getting what they can from it while they're here. There's something to be said for cultivating that attitude, perhaps tempering it with some sort of statement about not hurting other folks intentionally while you do whatever you want. (Yes, I'm a hopeless optimist and altruist. I can't help it. I see no point in not avoiding causing other people pain where it is reasonably possible. This would be a fundamental difference between B and myself.)

I like watching the plane make its pass, then a few seconds later colorful parachutes blossom in the sky and float to earth. Watching it almost makes me want to jump too. Almost. I think my issues with falling would probably get in they way. Kelly and someone else from work are going to jump this year. Kelly wanted to haver her oldest son jump too, but he doesn't make the minimum age requirement.

A Philosophical Question:
Rather than sit at home last night, I went out to White Horse to hang out with Tom and Smalls for a while. Smalls asked me what it is about jerk guys (such as B) that enables them to attract women while nice guys, such as Smalls and Tom have difficulty getting women to go out with them. I didn't have a good answer for him, but it's gotten me to thinking. I think this is a variation on why the cute, brainless chicks get all the attention and dates when the smart, independent, opinionated and less attractive women like me get socially. We are, after all, too intimidating, or something. My problem is that I'm just one of the guys. That's always been the case. I'm not really a girl. I'm one of the guys, thus not someone they'd date.

I attempted to respond to Smalls' question and I expect I'll continue to ponder it for some time. I wasn't happy with my response. First, I expounded upon the smooth line of BS that is offered. Women want to believe that someone finds them unique and special. All those sappy lines in the chick flicks. We're trained to want to hear that and certainly everybody wants to believe that someone finds them to be special. I don't know if there are some folks who are extra susceptible to that or not. I certainly seem to be. Being rather honest and straightforward myself, I tend to believe what people tell me until it is proven to me that someone has a habit of lying, after which I never trust anything they say again. I do not assume that I'm being fed a line of BS when someone says they'd follow me to whatever job wherever it may be or that they can't imagine not being friends. Of course, in my life these statements have only ever proven to be lies.

Smalls mentioned that B isn't the most physically attractive of guys, but seems to attract women anyway. I tried to point out that women aren't visually oriented like guys are. Women seem to like a guy first, then find him attractive. Men have their attention caught by the physically attractive and then find out if they like the woman or not. Or perhaps the jerk guys just assume (mostly correctly) that many women have self-confidence and self-image issues and play upon those to get them to fall for them. Guys like Tom and Smalls just present who they are, as they are and other folks can take them or leave them. The weasel guys present a smooth exterior hiding a nasty interior. Of course the less obviously flawed person will be chosen. And the hot chicks always get the attention while the not-so-hot chicks get overlooked, even though we've got lots to offer too, just in a plainer package.

The more I think about the whole concept, the more I think I'm going to swear off dating completely. It's just not worth the effort. Better to just avoid the whole issue and skip the crash and burn part.

Friday, July 21, 2006


But, for once, the disaster and my life had absolutely nothing to do with each other. I am not complaining. Nope, not at all. It's good to be boring on occasion.

As if Wednesday's storms weren't bad enough...the East St. Louis area got pounded again today with thunderstorms, sustaining additional damage.

IDPH mobilized local EMS agencies and the State's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated. Read the official announcement. I got a page from work asking for volunteers to head down there. We got told to stand down though. If they change their minds, I might just have to go. It could be good practice for my new job. I figure since I'll be working for the state health dept in my new job, I might be able to put that experience to good use. Right now the concerns seem to be providing shelter and drinking water. I don't know how many more thousands of people are without power now. At least the temperatures weren't as high today as earlier in the week.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Revised evil plan...

Ok, so it's now quit raining. We got almost an inch of the wet stuff this morning. I have hauled some stuff from my storage space to my apartment. The rest of it will stay there until it's time for me to move. No sense in moving it twice and there really isn't any place to put it in my apartment anyway.

The old furnace departs....
The ancient old gravity-feed heating system in my present house is being replaced. There's a guy in the basement right now hacking it up into small pieces to haul it away. Needless to say, this is stirring up all sorts of rust, dust and other nastiness which is aggravating the heck out of my respiratory tract and may be the cause of a headache that just developed in the past hour. It's also just a tiny bit noisy.

I snagged the doors off the furnace. I think they're pretty cool looking. Would make good door stops, given that they're cast iron.

Baked Egg Souffle!
I had breakfast at Panera Bread this morning. First, I must say the atmosphere at the Panera at Neil and Marketview is phenomenal. The customer service staff are energetic, perky, cheerful and eager to help They greet each customer as though they are old friends. "Good morning! How are you?" They laugh, they smile, they talk to themselves, they even sing. They clearly enjoy their jobs and it's a delight to interact with them. They pass along their good humor to all the customers who enter the store. Today was my first experience with them for breakfast. I could see starting my day with them on a regular basis, just to get an early morning boost in mood and morale.

Several of the same staff were working the registered during yesterday's lunch rush. At 12:30, the line of customers reached to the door. The cheerfulness and smiles were still present. I have come to the conclusion that the reason this particular Panera is always busy is due to its excellent customer service. The other Panera in town has unhappy and crabby staff at best and rude staff at worst.

As for the food--I tried the baked egg souffle this morning. I had noticed it on the menu yesterday at lunch. It is described as something like fluffy eggs baked in our French dough. I wasn't sure what to expect. Something like a turnover, perhaps. The souffles are listed as having limited availability, so I wasn't even sure I'd get one. It turned out that I was in luck. I waited six minutes and got one straight from the oven. I ordered the spinach-artichoke version. I must say I really liked it. It was served in its baking dish--a 3 1/2 to 4-inch heavy paper tart pan. The crust (puff pastry?) was nicely browned on top and bottom and was very buttery tasting. The eggs were light and fluffy with bits of spinach and red pepper throughout. I don't think I detected any bits of artichoke, but it was still the best eggs I've had in a long time. I highly recommend it. They also have a four cheese and a spinach-bacon version.

As I sat at my table, planning my day, the busboy came by and said, "Excuse me, may I take your tray?" I replied, "Yes, thank you!" And received a "You're welcome!" and a smile.

At 9:43 the line was extending to the door again. Although it is obvious the staff were gearing up for the lunch rush and setting up the andwich-making end of the line, there are still one or two people patrolling the dining room--taking people's trays, wiping tables/chairs/benches, pushing in chairs, cleaning the coffee and beverage stations, etc. Despite how busy it is, there is no mess of milk or sugar spilled by the coffee dispensers.

If I were going to start a customer service-focussed business, I'd want to hire these people. Clearly the right people have been hired for the job, but some credit must also go to the store management team for encouraging and fostering this attitude in their staff. There is obviously an environment of respect and teamwork. I'm definitely going to find a customer comment card or find some way to comment at the Panera corporate website and tell them what I think.

Decorating the new house:
I realized as I sat at Panera digesting and sipping coffee that the color scheme in the store is something I could do in my house. One of the accent colors is the brownish-yellowish-green that is on my living room walls. Here that color is an accent on the ceiling with pumpkin, rust and yellow walls. I'd rather have my living room walls be orange or yellow, but for now they'll remain green. These colors are ones I associate with Tuscany. I don't know if that's right or wrong, but it's what I've seen in paintings and movies. It makes me think of lazy summer afternoons. I will have to see about stealing their color scheme off their website or boxes.

Speaking of my house, I'm wondering if I need to install a tiled area by the front door. Right now it's all carpeted, but I would think that the carpet by the door will quickly become dirty and worn. I don't think the door clearance will allow me t o put a mat right there on the inside. Certainly I'll put a good door mat outside the door, but once it rains, that isn't as helpful as it could be.

I found three fridges I like at Sears. I think my favorite is a 25 cu. ft., French door, bottom-freezer unit made by Amana (Model AFB2534). The single door version (Model ABB2522) looked ok too, but I liked being able to open the whole fridge up with the double doors. There was one side-by-side by Whirlpool I thought was OK. Usually they seem really small inside to me. It's also 25 cu. ft and has ice/water in the door, which is a nice bonus, but also prone to leaking and breaking. Have I mentioned that refrigerators are EXPENSIVE?

my evil plan----DENIED!

Well, I was going to update this morning. But a wee thunderstorm is driving my UPS insane. Methinks it's time to shut down the machine and go do something else. Mind you, my other things to do today were wash the car and haul boxes out of a storage space. Somehow I don't think that's going to happen either. Maybe I'll just go get a couple of videos and have a relaxing sort of day. Desperately need to clean and do laundry anyway.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Now that I'm a famous movie star...

I'll have to start collecting my entourage. :o)

Today was a long, hot and exhausting day. It would have been better if the day didn't start at 0715 with a call. Or at least if the call had been something besides a bit of overreacting/hypochondria. (The patient complained of a sore throat and claimed that my talking made her short of breath. The patient had had a throat biopsy the previous day, but was convinced something bad was going on because she was experiencing any discomfort and irritation at all.) Tom and I were nearly late to the taping of the commercial due to a different call.

We finally get to the hospital to do the commercial. We had expected a couple of little TV cameras and the hospital PR personnel. Nope. We got an actual film crew, complete with director, assistant director, lighting dudes, sound dude, a couple of camera dudes and some random lackey dudes. Took them about 45 minutes to get everything lit and staged how they wanted it. Then we met our patient, got him hooked up to the cardiac monitor, taped an IV line to his arm and started the taping. I hauled the patient out of the ambulance about 8 times. The only part of me that will really be seen much will be my behind and my ponytail. But that's par for the course. :o)

We had figured this commercial would be for local use. Nope. It's for the whole hospital system. That means it'll be shown in the Chicago suburban area, among other places. They took a bunch of still photos too of both Tom and I working on our patient.

After the shoot, I dropped Tom off at the courthouse so he could continue testifying in a personal injury case. Then I got to drive to Centralia to drop off a patient. My new partner and I were told that it was only an 80-something mile drive. Guess again. Try 148 miles. Only almost TWICE the distance we were told. We got back after 7:30 pm. I washed the million splattered Japanese beetles off the front of the truck, called it a night and went home. I'm exhausted.

But I didn't yell at anybody, even though I didn't have breakfast before work and I didn't have lunch until after 3pm. I didn't even yell at the patient this morning who told us that we couldn't help her anyway and we were just wasting her time if she didn't get to talk to her personal physician immediately. I didn't even ask her why she didn't just call him directly. I still haven't figured out how my asking her what was wrong made it hard for her to breathe. I figured that was more due to the fact that she didn't quit talking the entire 20 minutes we were with her, but what do I know. I'm just an EMT, not Dr. X, her physician.

Garden plan develops:
I think I have figured out the border of my potager. I am going to plant basil and either pink begonias, impatiens or some other sort of pink annual flower as the border for the main sections. I think a nice weeping cherry, cutleaf maple or perhaps a dwarf mountain laurel in the center would be a good focal point. Or I could just put a bit of statuary or a bird bath there. I know where I can get a good looking garden gargoyle. Or a copy of the Venus de Milo.

Elsewhere in my reality:
I had too much caffeine today. I am exhausted, but not sleepy. My mind is starting to race again. I have two days left at work, a billion things to do, and very few definite plans on when to do anything. this makes making shipping/moving reservations difficult. Tomorrow night I'm having dinner with the guys from work. Tomorrow is National Ride (your motorcycle) to Work day. I'm not working, but I'll ride anyway. Any excuse, right? :o)

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Weirdness of the World....

Chicken eggs will now be used for advertising. Next they'll have messages posted on the slices of bread or cheese.... (remember, it was my idea first, so you have to pay me if you want to use it for your product.)

At work:
Two different people came up to me today and told me I'd transported them to the hospital at some point in the not-so-distant past. I vaguely remembered one of the patients, only because I've only had three patients from the pork processing plant.

My boss asked if I'd participate in the TV commercial for our company that will be filmed tomorrow. Nothing like making a long-lasting impression, then leaving the company. I don't know how long it's going to take or what to expect, but I've been instructed to bring a spare uniform shirt in with me. :o)

Mitch had the first of his interviews regarding the security clearance he needs for his job. He thinks it went well and the guy who talked to him didn't seem to be particularly alarmed by any of the answers Mitch gave, but I'm willing to bet he's trained to remain nonchalant under the most alarming of circumstances. The kind of guy who would say "Oh, bother!" just after accidentally stapling his hand to the door frame with a nail gun. I, on the other hand, would probably yell and say bad words, even if it was close to Christmas and it might get me put on the "naughty" list.

I guess that was all of the real weirdness. It's hard to believe I only have three days left at work.

Garden plans:
I tried to plan my future vegetable garden today. I've been reading a book about The American Potager, which is really nothing more than a particularly aesthetically pleasing, yet functional, vegetable garden. The examples in the book are largely French, such as the potager at Versailles. Mind you, they've got a small army of gardening staff to take care of the *22* acre plot. I'll have to make do with only myself for staff and a much smaller space. But I'm now planning something a bit more imaginative than the standard garden rectangle. I'm thinking square divided into quadrants with a central focal point, possibly where a bird bath or other ornamental feature would be placed. And perhaps compass point-like triangles centered on each side. With a border of purple basil on some of the section. I'm trying to come up with another good border plant. The example potagers use boxwood hedges, but I want to be able to get my tiller in there at least once a year and I don't want to commit to the shape of the beds either.

The unillustrated blog...
No pictures today. I didn't take my camera with me. Only thing particularly photogenic or interesting was the "coffee cheese" I found when I got home from work. I apparently left yesterday's coffee (with milk) in its coffee cup. The apt was hot enough today that it curdled. Didn't smell all that wonderful either. Icky poo.

Eating my way through my fridge and freezer continues:
Dinner was a home-made mushroom pizza. I used straight tomato paste for the sauce. It worked out pretty well. Very intense flavor. It didn't spread all that well on the crust though. I completely forgot to add any herbs to the top of the sauce. Cooked it maybe a minute too long. the cheese was nearly too brown, but still very tasty.

Made another loaf of blueberry bread yesterday. I didn't add quite so many blueberries this time since Mitch reported his loaf was a bit crumbly, possibly due to the number of berries. It's not very crumbly, but I don't particularly like the flavor. I am coming to the conclusion that I just might not like the flavor of blueberries in anything other than the following: muffins, pancakes, fruit salad, ice cream, cobber and sometimes pie. Oooooh! Maybe I'll have to make smoothies with some of the EIGHT quarts of berries I still have in my freezer. (I'm going to turn purple before this is all over....)

gotta get to bed soon. Mr. DeMille will be ready for my closeup in the morning. :o)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I'm becoming nocturnal

I don't know what the problem is, but I'm only sleepy during the day time any more. That's rather unusual given that I'm solar-powered. My whole sleep schedule is being thrown off by stress, travel, a goofed-up work schedule and trying to give up caffeine too quickly. I think the cure will be to get up at 6am tomorrow even though I don't have to work and just stay up as much of the day as I can.

Today's bit of non-sleeping may be due to the diet Mountain Dew I had to kill my headache earlier this afternoon. It may also be due to the fact that I apparently spent 5 hours packing up the "scary closet" and part of my office. The scary closet is a combination coat closet, tool shed and crafts stockpile. Now it is mostly boxes and I even sorted through my tool, boxes. About all that's left to deal with in there are the big power tools (half sheet sander, circular saw, two jigsaws and a drill). Yes, I'm a girl with power tools. Just watch and see what I start to collect once I have a big, secure two-car garage to put it all in.

Continued to listen to Terry Pratchett's Going Postal on CD. I started listening to it on the last trip south. It's pretty funny and is hilarious in some places. Reminds me a lot of Douglas Adams and even a little of P. G. Wodehouse. Very dry sense of humor. I like Mr. Pump, the golem.

Speaking of books, I discovered that I own a copy of Pride and Prejudice. I tried checking it out of the library twice this summer but didn't have a chance to read it. I have listened to the book on tape when in the middle of my mosquito-rearing experiment/research. It's at the top of my list of classics to read real soon now. I started on a classics-reading kick several years ago and read quite a bit of Bronte, Hemingway and Edith Wharton. It was much better than I had expected. I feel the need to read something intelligent and weighty again.

Watched The West Wing while trying to wind down tonight. I can make it through about 2 1/2 episodes before I start to lose interest and my brain gets antsy. I'm almost to the end of the fifth season. I'm hoping to get through the sixth season before I move away from the Urbana Free Library. My new library doesn't have nearly the DVD or video selection that Urbana has. Heck, they don't have 1/3 of the books either. I was really surprised and somewhat disappointed. I suspect I'll be doing a lot of interlibrary loan requests and purchasing more books. (Like I need more books. I'm already short on bookshelf space.) The new library does, however, offer downloadable e-books and audiobooks.

But, if I need more bookshelves, that gives me a fine excuse to buy more of those powertools I mentioned before.... A girl's gotta have nice solid matching bookshelves, right? :o)

Landscape/Garden Design Plans:
Been going through oodles of garden design books. One of the is definitely way too involved for me. I don't care how much space I have, I am not going to install a planting with 218 different kinds of plants, even if that does include trees and shrubs. The actual number of specimens was almost 500. I'd need a staff to maintain the silly place. At least the author mentioned that in a similar design it take her and an assistant 5-8 hours on one day a week to maintain everything. I'm just not likely to have that kind of time or dedication. I could see maybe 30-40 minutes each of three days during the week and a couple hours on weekends. But not eight hours a week. I want more time to relax and pursue other interests, never mind the time to actually ENJOY the garden I planted. But the designs were beautiful and took into account the necessity of having blooms and plants of interest during all four seasons of the year. Most other design or planning books focus on a single season per design. I'm definitely never going to replant the silly beds three times a year. That's even less realistic than 5-8 hours a week of dedicated garden maintenance (not counting mowing the lawn or playing with the veggie garden).

Where does this stuff come from?
Packing tonight revealed that my computer accessories and peripherals are apparently multiplying in the dark. I have four modems, two switches, an external CD-RW and a bazillion cables. I thought I was being all sorts of organized a year or two ago when I bought a sweater-sized storage box at The Container Store to corral that stuff. What I need are three more of the darned things and I'm not sure even that would be enough. Every time I turn around there's another stupid device lurking. On the other hand, I can't think of any reason not to completely pack up my Mac desk and the office desk. I can leave out a selection of envelopes and stamps. The rest of it can go in boxes. The miscellaneous desk detritus and knick knacks are already mostly in boxes.

Tomorrow's packing task:
Tackle the corner china cabinet in the dining room and start in on the kitchen. Speaking of kitchen, I think I'm going to make more blueberry bread tomorrow and foist it off on whomever doesn't flee fast enough, like co-workers and colleagues. So, the Champaign PD detectives better be hungry on Wednesday morning. :o)

Other stuff to do on Sunday:
  • Get more small boxes from U-Haul. Perfect for books, software and heavy stuff. I think I have eight small boxes left right now. Need to buy some rope for securing all the boxes inside the moving truck too. Heck, while I'm there, I ought to confirm the dates on the truck rentals. Which reminds me, I don't know where my calendar is. I should find that.
  • Trying to decide if I'm going to take the books I no longer want to the used book store or to the library. If they go to the library, do I want to save them for the Jackson Library, which I think needs them more, or to the Urbana Library, which means I don't ahve to pack and move them. I hate selling books. It always makes me feel slightly guilty.
  • Go see Pirates 2 at 2pm.
  • Bake something with blueberries.
  • Clean what parts of my apartment I can still reach around the boxes, like the ever decreasing patch of carpeting. It feels/smells dusty with all the boxes.
  • Clean out my small storage space and haul the stuff up to my apt. That'll probably take two trips. But would enable me to get all of my holiday decorations and wrapping paper in one place for sorting and packing. I think I've got a rogue box of three-ring binders in storage that just needs to be recycled/donated.
That's enough for one day, right?


I don't wanna pack!

Ok. Now I'll go get some cheese to go with that bit of whine.

The last of the raspberries, as seen on my Cheerios this morning.

You know you don't want to do something when you go mow someone's lawn in the awful, humid, 90 degree heat index sun, instead of doing what you should be doing (packing). At least I did the mowing this morning when it was cooler. Now it's pretty steamy and even hotter. But I've had a headache half the day which could be from the heat/exertion/dehydration or could be from not having any caffeine yesterday or today. Caffeine problem has been fixed. I needed to feed the car anyway, so got me a nice Polar Pop. (32.1 mpg on the trip back north, with the AC running, for those of you who are keeping track).

Here are some photos of flowers in my yard and Mitch's yard. Aren't the day lilies just STUNNING?

After mowing, I went to the farmer's market and got some green beans and zucchini. I wanted to get sweet corn, but the corn trailer was nearly empty. That's what happens when you get there at almost 11am. S'ok. I'll get some fresh sweet corn sooner or later this summer.

I had to take a picture of the truck the "honey guy" drives. He's always parked in the same corner of the farmer's market and has been a vendor there for as long as I can remember. The truck is just the right color of yellow to make me think of bees. I'm sure that's intentional. It looks just like a baby beer truck in design.

Short-term "project"
I've decided to eat, cook or bake my way through everything in my freezer. I'm not going to try and haul frozen food to TN from here. Too much pain in the behind.

Unless all that's left is the blueberries. Those I'll take with me if I can't get them all eaten. I'm given to understand that my blueberry bread recipe is a pretty darned good one. I haven't tried any of it myself. I just baked it and shipped it off to Mitch, who reported that he and his co-workers thought it was yummy. So, if you've got ideas on what I can do with about 3 gallons of frozen blueberries, let me know.

Answer Lady, at your service. :o)
Got an entertaining phone call from Tom today. He informed me that just because I "got some high-falutin' job", that doesn't mean he won't call to ask me wierd or difficult questions. Tom's parents are in town visiting this weekend and his dad has decided to buy a new saddle. Tom couldn't think of any tack shops in the area, but figured I'd know, so he called me. He'd forgotten all about Pard's. That completely made my day.

In other news from Tom, Jeremy's team lost the championship baseball game. Rats! Tom and Leslie have also offered to pose for photos so I can put pictures of people I know on my desk in my new office. What they don't know is that I'm going to take them up on the offer. :o)

Friday, July 14, 2006

The soon-to-be backyard

The backyard, I discovered yesterday, is not completely fenced. There is no fence to the left of the house. I don't think this will be a particularly big problem. It is not, however, clear just where my property line ends and the neighbor's begins. I'd assume that it ends at the fence, but there's a ditch between our yards and it looks like they've been mowing up to the ditch.

The far corner of the backyard is shaded by several large trees which I was unable to identify (not that I tried very hard). Some landscape waste has been dumped back there and become overgrown. I think it would a good place to plant some ferns, hostas and lily of the valley among other shade plants. At present there seems to be quite a bit of poison ivy in there. Fortunately I'm not allergic to the stuff, so I really don't care.

I have checked out a plethora of landscaping and gardening books from the local libraries to get ideas on how to lay out the backyard area. I think some sort of path needs to be made from the deck to the pool. I don't think I'll tackle that any time soon. Flagstones would be nice, but that's gonna be expensive. Perhaps a gravel path. Then again it may not need any sort of path at all. I do think I might build a deck for the pool. In any event, I figure I won't start revamping things too much until next spring. That'll give me time to settle into the house, get used to the warmer climate and get a feel for how the property behaves under various weather conditions.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Passing Inspection!

Had another lightning fast trip south. Drove down yesterday and back today. Six hours and 347 miles each way. My car is certainly getting exercised. It's now up to 18,000 miles. Not bad for a vehicle that's almost 4 years old. For those of you still driving SUVs and trucks, I get 30-32 mpg on the highway and one-way takes about 7/8 of a tank of fuel. Try not to hate me for being efficient. :o)

Only took one wrong turn on the way back this time. We won't talk about how I couldn't find the bank earlier today, but I can safely say I won't ever be unable to find it again. Nor am I likely to not take a map of Jackson with me on the next trip. (Many thanks to Mitch for navigating for me via Google Earth.)

The not-so-itsy, bitsy spider web...

First, I have to show you what I found waiting for
me on my front porch this evening when I got home. I 'm not quite sure what possessed the spider to choose my porch as the perfect place to live, but I can't say that I disagree completely. The only trouble is that the letter carrier won't like it much. I'm pretty certain it's a federal offense to trap postal workers. I know I don't have a trapping permit that covers that sort of thing. I have since removed the web. Felt kinda bad doing that given that the spider was just finishing up its handiwork when I took the pictures. It's gotta suck to have to start over again. Pretty yellow spider. Three foot wide web. Very nice indeed.

Days of Watermelons and Roses...

Isn't that beautiful? I don't think I've ever seen a watermelon carved into a bouquet of roses. I think that's a guava chrysanthemum next to it. (At least I think that's a guava. I'm pretty sure it's not a mango.) Carl Jones is the artist's name. He was working on the watermelon at the corner table at Starbuck's this morning. Carl runs Premier Place Catering. I may have to send him e-mail and ask him where he learned how to do this stuff. I bet he makes killer jack-o-lanterns. I bet I could ask him questions about starting up Desserted Islands Bakery too since his card indicates he's available for business consulting. Woo woo! :o)

The Inspection:
The house has no major structural issues. Or any other major issues. Several things need to be fixed pretty quickly. The first is that the dryer vent tube has no exterior cover/louvers, etc. to keep out the mice, snakes, lizards, faeries that live in the yard. Furthermore, where the dryer
vent tube comes out of the foundation wall, there is no caulking/seal around the tube, so critters can get in around the vent tube and into the space under the slab (and probably into the walls). To complicate this even further, the interior opening where the dryer tube comes into the laundry room was never boxed in. You can see the back of the drywall on the opposite side of the opening and the studs in the wall. That should have been closed off when the house was built. Otherwise critters can have free rein of the house. Which they have done. Apparently there is evidence of a serious mouse infestation in the attic, based upon the poo found around the furnace and on the insulation. I saw lots of mouse poo around the waterheater (lovely place to keep warm in the winter, I'm sure). The plumbing vent pipes have worn/deteriorating rubber flashing boots on the roof. These will need to be caulked or replaced. I vote for the latter. Probably something I could do myself, but I may have a plumber come do it, so I know it's done right (and can watch being done too). Finally, the laminate floor in the kitchen has water damage in the area that would go under the fridge. The inspector recommends having the seller replace that bit of flooring. It should be easy to do and cheap. Sure, it's under the fridge and out of sight, but it's still messed up and needs to be replaced, preferably before another fridge goes in there.

On the other hand, we noticed today that the living room has been painted two slightly different shades of green. The upper parts of the wall aren't the same shade as the lower parts and other random patched up parts. So maybe I don't want them fixing the floor cuz there's no telling what sort of work I'll get.

But everything else checked out ok, so that's good (and a lot less to worry about). The house needs some minor maintenance work (mostly cleaning and touch-up stuff). Things that I can handle on weekends, like re-painting worn trim, treating the deck, cutting back overgrown shrubs and re-hanging the fence gates. I will be starting a collection of homeowner tools. Like a ladder. Given that there is only a single wall receptacle in the garage, I'm considering having another circuit installed and adding 2-3 receptacles on the other walls so I can run power tools more readily.

The backyard
It turns out there is no fence on the south side of the house. I'm also not entirely sure where my lot ends on that side. The neighbor there has a fence up, but it may not be at his property line.

The previous owners planted tomatoes in the veggie garden this year. That'll be mighty convenient when I move in a month and am looking for a snack.

There's also a raspberry bush behind the garden. And room for me to plant canes from the bushes here in Urbana. I don't think I'll get three pints of berries next summer like I did this year, but I ought to do pretty well the following year.

I think the soil is pretty sandy. It certainly is not the black loam I'm used to seeing. It's rather reddish-yellow. Could be sandy. Could be clay. Need to do some homework on that subject.

There is a junebug flying around my apartment tonight, in case you wanted to know. I'm *not* going to take a picture of it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The cardboard cubist sculpture develops...

Slowly, my existence is being taken over by brown boxes. This Uni Ted guy really needs to branch out into some different colors or something. :o)

Discoveries in the basement
I had thought that most of the boxes in the basement had random stuff in them from past moves when I didn't really go through the boxes. Not so. Most of the boxes in the basement are boxes I've been saving to move with. Nice heavy Apple monitor and CPU boxes. Very good for breakable things.

I also found and labelled the fleeces down there. Several were already in boxes. There are seven fleeces in the basement. Two shetland. One romney? One merino mix. One coopworth (another dark gray fleece from Hidden Valley). And two crossbreed fleeces that I bought from some 4-H kids on the internet. I can't remember what they are. Perhaps Romney cross? Plus some washed Romney and Cotswold (just a pound or two each). And then there are the seven fleeces in my living room: two black shetlands, one white shetland, one Border Leicester cross (i think that's what it is), one white coopworth and two dark gray coopworths (Hidden Valley strikes again!).

I think there are probably three or four fleeces in my storage space too. Methinks it's time to get some of the silly things sent off for processing. I'm clearly not going to be getting them done by hand any time soon. Besides, I can't imagine how long it would take to get all that wool combed and ready to spin, nevermind the time it would take to tease/flick it and wash it.

In other fiber news....
I didn't go through the dyed commercially prepared roving, but there's a nice big Rubbermaid bin of that too. I did find a number of WsIP and USOs. Started projects include Jo's Alice Starmore sweater (only 8 years overdue for her birthday) and my green ski sweater. Unstarted projects include the Fibonacci Rib pullover from KnitPicks, the Cascading Cables pullover from Amazing Threads, the Peacock Shawl from Fiddlesticks Knittting, a red pullover from KnitPicks' Wool of the Andes yarn to be made into a circular seamless raglan, which is an Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern. I'm going to be a good girl and not start any of those projects or any other project until I get everything fiber-related put away at my new house. I've got plenty of already started projects handy if I need a break from the packing or unpacking.

So, even in the absence of any yarn/knitting shop in the Jackson area, I think I'm set on the yarn/fiber front for at least a little while. One of my early "tasks" in the new house will be to catalog the fiber/yarn/fabric stash since it'll now have its own room and will all be in one place.

Tonight's Task:
Boxing up the rest of the books upstairs and starting in on the coat closet and sweaters. I'm trying to pick things which I am not likely to be using in the next month and which also won't end up just being boxes in the way. I could probably tackle a lot of the kitchen utensils too and the garage.

Cold update:
Lovely dry non-productive cough. Semi-stuffed head. Thank goodness for decongestants, tylenol and cough syrup (even if it does seem to make me stupid).

In other news:
I found out that one of my favorite docs in the ED died last night. Dr. Baird was only 66. He'd apparently been diagnosed with an aneurysm some time ago and the best guess is that it ruptured. Visitation is Thursday and the funeral is Friday. I'd like to be back in C-U for the funeral, but I don't think I'll make it.

Timing is everything

and my life needs more practice with it.

Timing and the Lawn
First, it only ever rains here when I'm going to mow the lawn. On the other hand, today's light drizzle means I don't have to mow, so I've gained a few more hours of productivity that way.

Timing and the Job...
Second, I found out this morning I'm being considered for what I would consider to be a DREAM job. The US Navy Environmental Health Command in Portsmouth, VA needs to hire three epidemiologist and haven't been able to find them. They got my resume from the Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education (ORISE) Fellowship Program. If only they had called me a month ago. This particular job would include working on global avian influenza surveillance for the US Navy and US Marine Corps. Plus doing routine data analysis in response to queries. Things like "what sorts of injuries are we seeing in troops returning from Iraq?", "Are the levels of antimicrobial resistance changing at military hospitals?", etc.

If only I didn't have a contract on a house and hadn't already accepted a job somewhere else.... But, then again, the ORISE jobs do not come with health benefits and wouldn't pay as well as the job I now have, which might be tricky living in the Portsmouth/Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA area. Maybe after I get 2-3 years experience doing this job, I could get a full-time permanent job with the Environmental Health Command. The ORISE gigs are only 1-2 years long, but it's my understanding that they lead to permanent hiring at least some of the time. It would have, at least, gotten me into the system and given me the opportunity to build oodles of professional contacts. Never mind the possibilities of travel. Of course, my brain would have seized on the first or second day of watching the ships and planes everywhere.

So I'll call Asha back on Monday and tell her that I have to decline the position, but that in a couple of years things may change as I am definitely interested in a position working with military preventive medicine.

Time is trickling on and I'm NOT DOING ANYTHING PRODUCTIVE!
Probably ought to go take a shower and get back to packing and paperwork now. I have about half of my books in boxes and have run out of book boxes. We won't even talk about the knitting magazines I haven't packed yet. (ugh!) I'm still tired and nauseous from the gallons of goo draining from my head. A dry cough kept waking me up last night. The post-nasal drainage seems to be slowing down a wee bit, but the head congestion isn't going away.

New Furnace!
Now that I'm moving, my landlord will be installing a new forced-air heating system. Right now there is an ancient gravity-feed heater. The hot air gently wafts up the vents, working off the principle of convection. It works pretty well, actually. Except for the two times the burner went out over the winter (bad thermocouple we think or maybe it just wanted a break). The old system will be torn out soon, so I need to get my basement boxes squared away and possibly covered with visqueen to keep the dust/soot/grime/miscellaneous bad powdery stuff off of them.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Another Week Away

Away from work, that is....

The weekend was a long-ish one. For starters, I've developed a lovely cold. I seem to only get two colds a year, right about 6 month apart. This is the July edition. I should be back to 100% health by the beginning of next week. And my two favorite medics were gone, though I did see Doug for a little while on Sunday morning and was able to tell him about my upcoming move in person. His shoulder is getting better. On a good note, I got to work with Kelly and Doug T, which doesn't happen very often.

Despite assurances some time ago that B and R are in no way, shape or form actually dating, the evidence does appear to be piling up to the contrary. I suppose overhearing him in a cell phone conversation tell her he loves her might be something of a giveaway. I am, suprisingly not feeling the need to set his pants on fire. He's not worth the match or the lighter fluid. I think they're fairly well-suited to each other. I wouldn't trust either of them as far as I could throw the 40' tall tulip tree in my front yard. I will admit that I'm going to be mightily amused when it all blows up in their faces. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before he goes back to his old habits of thinking only of himself. When he and I were dating, it only took him about 6 months to revert back to normal. I briefly debated warning R that B has only a fleeting grasp of the concept of honesty and courtesy, but a) I figure she wouldn't believe me and would turn around and tell B that I'm trying to break them up and b) she'll learn it better if she finds out the hard way. So, while I may lose a point or two in the failure to protect a fellow female from the stupidity of a selfish and self-centered man, I think it's the best course of action.

I'm debating writing B an e-mail, which I may or may not send him. I feel the need to point out to him that I never did, for one minute believe the 90 minute long explanation of how they weren't dating and how he'd "never do that to me because you just don't treat people that way". And point out that perhaps using the very same excuses he used when he told everybody that we weren't dating rather gives away the lie. I'd also like to mention that people like him are EXACTLY why I don't trust most folks and hadn't dated anybody in over 5 years. On the other hand, I must say that I'm particularly glad that this mistake only lasted 6 months and *I* was the one who ended it. So *there*.

The little, mean part of me wants to see his life self-destruct as a result of his bad behavior. I want him to know that he treated me like crap and that it wasn't ok and that I think he's an absolute jerk. Oddly enough, I kinda thought that about him when I first met him, just began to think that perhaps I'd judged things too quickly. Of course, that was when he was interested in getting something from me (a place to crash), so he was very attentive. When he no longer needed a local place to crash and I quit paying for everything suddenly his time became too valuable and his phone stopped working. Go figure.

Moving plans:
Making arrangements for a house inspection and moving trucks today. The inspection is scheduled for Thursday the 13th at noon. I've got some homework to do between now and then so I can ask informed, intelligent questions about how to manage the maintenance of my new house. I'll definitely have to ask if the house has ridge and soffit vents and where the water and gas line cut-offs are.

Gotta call the mortgage lady too and see what the next step is now that we've got a signed purchase contract. I know I've got a bunch of paperwork to send her. Will get that done in the morning.

Was cutting back raspberry bushes in her garden today. I have the scratches all up and down my forearms to prove it too! Ouchie! That's gonna really sting in the morning when I take a shower. While I was at it, I also deadheaded the rose bushes. I don't know what it is about the monster rosebush in the middle of the west side of the house, but it's got thorns the size of Cleveland. Naturally, it's also the largest and healthiest of the four bushes. On a less masochistic level, I deadheaded the coreopsis in the front of hte house and have collected more seed. I ought to be able to propagate oodles of coreopsis at my new house and give them away. I found three small raspberry sprouts that I'll dig up and move with me too. I think they'll be a good addition to the inside of the fence to the right (north) of the fence gate. That's a nice sunny spot. I think I might try growing some low-chill, high-bush blueberries too. And maybe strawberries. Can you tell I have a bunch of landscape/garden design books checked out of the library right now?

Tidbit of knowledge gathered from the past month:
If you put a cup of coffee in the microwave and accidentally put in 31:30, it essentially vaporizes the coffee. What is left of the liquid coffee is no longer actually in the cup, but is in a puddle on the floor of the microwave. So, my recommendation is to actually only heat the coffee for 1:30. That seems to result in the best of both worlds: coffee which is hot enough to be good to drink, but still remains in the cup when the time is up.

The latest behavioral change:
I am no longer enabling the "pity party" or victim mode in other people. I will empathize and sympathize, but I will not sit and listen to people wail about how horrible their situation is when they have no interest or effort directed toward getting out of whatever the bad situation is. It's just too draining and not good for anybody involved.

Need to get back to eating more healthy food. I ate junk quite a bit this past week. My tummy is a bit upset today. I don't really feel quite as perky as I usually do either, but that could be the result of my nasty cold and all the goo that's draining down the back of my throat. Ick.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

I've done it!!

Yes, that's right, boys and girls, I am now a home owner. Contract is accepted, signed and all that there. The deal closes on the 28th. After a long, drawn out and tortuous saga which I shall recount soon, I have managed to buy my very first house. In fact, I have bought the very house seen here. Not that you can really see much of it behind the tree planted in the front yard which is desperately in need of pruning or removal.

The Back Yard
My absolute favorite part of the house is the back yard. I may just decide to pitch a tent out
back and live there. Well, once the temperature and humidity drop to reasonable levels, I might. Here's something of a panoramic view of the backyard from the deck. The view of the yard from the left side of the deck isn't included beacuse I couldn't get it to all fit, so there's actually a bit more yard than is pictured here. The yard backs up against a farm, so I don't have to look at the back end of someone else's house, for which I am very grateful. I don't know exactly how big it is, but I'd estimate there's more than 1/2 an acre back there and it's all fenced. W00t!

And now the fun begins....
And the countdown to moving day is ticking away. I've got about a bazillion things to do. Fortunately I have the next week off from work. Unfortunately, I have a cold. Just when I need to be able to make LOTS of phone calls and make reservations for moving trucks, shipping my motorcycles and getting a hotel for the two trips I have to make down there before I get moved in for good. But, I have a house and I really really like it, so the rest is really just minor details, right?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July!

As always, I went to the local fireworks show. It was, as always, pretty darned awesome. About a 20 minute show, set to music and ending with a 3-4 min barrage of aerial bombs. Can't beat that. My ears are still feeling a bit odd. I like to sit up fairly close. I refer to it as being in the "ash zone". The wind actually blew the ash to the side, away from me, but in other years, you get to feeling kinda gritty by the end of the evening. For giggles, I tried taking a few photos during the show. I discovered it takes the camera a while to process the image, which is distracting and kept me from watching the show itself, so I quit the photo thing and got back to watching. But this picture turned out pretty well, if I say so myself.

My neighbor:
As my time here in C-U winds down, I have found myself pondering what things I will miss when I'm gone. One of them in my neighbor. There is an Asian family who lives in the house on the corner. As far as I can tell, there are three generations living in that house. The patriarch of the group is a rather distinguished looking gentleman, who is often found puttering about in the yard. In the mornings, he does exercises on the back sidewalk. He always waves or says hello when he sees me. Occasionally, he'll sing to himself as he works. He once showed me a small garter snake he killed while he was trimming the hedge in the front of his house. I like that he just goes about his business and doesn't seem to care that the rest of the neighbors might think he was nuts to be doing stretches, knee bends and arm circles in his backyard. He reminds me a bit of the Dalai Lama--always rather serene in nature and smiling bemusedly. A fine role model to emulate. The matriarch is often seen in the evenings taking her grandson (I think it's a boy) for a walk. He's now large/old enough to toddle along for a block or two. I don't recall seeing much of the mother. Dad works quite a bit, I think. Nonetheless, I'll miss them when I'm gone. I sort of feel like leaving them a note saying I'd enjoyed living next door to them these past five years, but they haven't a clue who I am.

Here is the beginnings of a list of places in I want to visit, based solely on the names of the towns: Spot, Hurricane Mills (nevermind that this place is hundreds of miles from any hurricane area....), Littlelot, Guys, Arp, Glimp, Gilt Edge, Bumpus Mills, Skullbone, Hanging Limb, Difficult and Nankipoo.

Moving plans:
I have decided to ship my motorcycles to rather than move them myself. I'm not going to bother with trying to secure them inside a truck. I can ship both of them on a trailer for under $500. That will be money well spent to not worry about the CBR getting damaged due to my inability to get her tied down appropriately (or having other stuff fall on her during the trip).

I have decided that I will drive down a small U-Haul for the closing, towing my car behind. I can move as many small boxes and small furniture things as will fit in the truck and get them out of the way. Then I'll have less to move when it comes time for the BIG furniture stuff. That would certainly eliminate any worry about having enough space for everything in a single trip. Need to reserve truck(s) tomorrow.