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Finally... RAIN... and lots of it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The ground is not longer hard and dusty, it is now saturated and softened. The plants are delighted, all standing turgidly at attention. It's good. I wanted this rain, I just didn't want it in my house.
The shoddy remodeling job done on my office by Fly-By-Night Houseflippers, Inc. is leaking.

This is where the wall meets the ceiling, just above the french doors (which open to the backyard). As you can see, the water leaking into my roof caused the paper to sag away from the drywall and drip down to where my portfolio leaned against the door, unzipped and gaping open. Almost all of my finished designs are stored in my portfolio, and all of my drafting vellum (in every conceivable size).
The raging storm was loud enough to wake me last night, and I was compelled to go to my office and check things. It's a good thing I did. Not only was water dripping from the ominous bulge in the first picture, it was also coming in around the top of the door frame

where you see the gap.
I moved my portfolio into the bedroom and pushed some towels against the threshold to soak up the water, where the falling drops were landing and gently splashing my nice rug. This morning, the rug is fine (wool is naturally water repellant) but I can't bear to look through my portfolio. It's still open; I didn't zip it closed. I can see the crinkled waviness of my expensive paper, indicating it had been damp but is now dry. I don't know whether the contents of the folio took a direct hit; it may have just been the splashing of the water falling from the ceiling and hitting the edge of the folio near the handle. I'm so overwhelmed with schoolwork right now I can barely keep it together. I can't work; I just don't need anything else on my plate, and stress is already eating me alive.
Ten weeks left in the semester. Between the plant buying trip to North Carolina, my spouse's two out of town trips, tuition, books, art supplies, my spouse's car breaking down, my truck getting a flat tire, my dental and hairdressers appointments, and a parking ticket, the past six weeks have cost us several thousand dollars. And this is on top of a couple thousand I spent on the backyard renovation - a project stalled by lack of money and bad weather.
At least my hormone level is good!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SECRETFUN 10/2/2010 10:35PM

  Good luck, hon! Whatever reserve strength I have I am sending to you!

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_UMAMI_ 9/30/2010 8:06PM

    Aw, sending virtual hugs and support.

If your portfolio survives, and you can stand to spend more money, I'd recommend saving it in some kind of digital form (sez the wife of an IT Director), w/ photos or scanned copies, etc. Not as good as the original, but at least all wouldn't be lost.

Hope things pick up for you. When the sun comes back out, have a nice Staycation with your hubs, enjoying your new backyard.


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MBSHAZZER 9/30/2010 4:05PM

    GAH!!! OK, I've finally encountered someone with MORE stress than me! Hang in there! Hope the leaks can be fixed and there is no permanent damage to your work.

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PHEBESS 9/30/2010 2:30PM

    OY!!!!!!!!!! I hope you call Houseflippers and get them to make repairs!

And depending on the cotton content of the paper, you can sometimes iron it flat. If it's heavy watercolor paper, you can tape it to a desk (formica-type top) - tape all around the edges - then wet with a brush or plant mister, and let it re-dry - this is how watercolorists stretch paper, and it will not only get rid of the ripples, it should prevent future ripples.

However, it has to be mostly cotton and/or watercolor paper - if it's vellum or 100% wood fiber, it won't work.

Good luck!!!!!!!!

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The quest for REAL ice cream

Friday, September 17, 2010

I guess I haven't been paying attention to ice cream lately, so when I wanted to buy some recently, I discovered that most "all natural ice cream" actually contains eggs. I was disappointed because I couldn't find eggless "ice cream".
It's not that eggs are unnatural, but REAL ice cream does not contain eggs. When you add eggs to ice cream, it becomes CUSTARD.
I am very much an ice cream purist. Ice cream is VERY SIMPLE, it is just a sweetened, flavored dairy product. If you add sugar (or any sweetening agent) to cow juice (half & half works best), you have the "stock"... the foundation. The only thing left to add is the flavor (vanilla, your favorite fruit, candy, granola, coffee, etc.). And you could even argue that THAT isn't necessary, but your result would probably be a little boring. Cold and sweet, but nondescript.
I was very pleased to discover that Turkey Hill All Natural ice cream really is ice cream, and not custard. Those eggs belong in omelettes.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PHEBESS 9/18/2010 9:54AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MBSHAZZER 9/17/2010 2:21PM

    Very true about the distinction between custard and ice cream. Turkey Hill totally rocks! I haven't had it in years - the stores where I live now don't carry it - but I fondly remember the mint chocolate chip! So good!!!

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Encounter with a scam artist

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This morning, at about 9:35am, I pulled into the gas station to fuel up my truck. Almost immediately, another vehicle pulled up on the opposite side of the pumps, directly next to mine.
A man very quickly got out of the vehicle and approached the pumps. As I swiped my credit card, he began talking loudly into a cell phone, telling someone a very sad story. He said he'd just come from the hospital and that "mom passed away last night". Immediately, I blurted out an audible "OMG". It sounded so tragic.
He went on to say he hadn't eaten, slept or showered in two days, because of his bedside vigil; and had only $3. left to buy gas for his long trip home.

I climbed inside my vehicle to fetch some Windex and paper towels to clean my windows, because they were filthy from yesterdays road trip across state lines. When I did this, the man peeked around the pumps to look at me, then abruptly hung up the fuel nozzle (without pumping any gas) and circled around to another fueling island, directly beside another woman who had just gotten out of her car to buy fuel.
This seemed odd, because the pumps appeared to be working fine.
Once again, the man jumped out of his vehicle and began a loud cell phone conversation. I rolled down my passenger window to listen. He was repeating the exact same story, word for word; acting as if he was about to fuel up, but not actually doing so. What on earth was going on with this guy? Something wasn't adding up.
When the other driver beside him got into her car and drove off, I watched in astonishment as this man circled the pumps AGAIN, pulled up alongside yet another driver who was beginning to fuel up, and repeated the exact same loud cell phone conversation, putting the nozzle into his tank but never pumping any fuel.
Suddenly it dawned on me: the man was trying to elicit sympathy in order to trick someone into opening their wallet to him!
Sure enough, I walked over to where he was and snapped a picture of him on my cellphone. When he saw me do this, he abruptly pocketed his cell phone (he probably hadn't actually been talking to anyone) hung up the hose, jumped into his truck, and sped away like a bat out of hell.

I reported this incident to the gas station manager, and to local police. I gave a description of the man and the vehicle, along with the license plate number (clearly visible in cell phone photo). The police aren't going to do anything, because "he didn't break any laws".
Ok, but this was not panhandling, this was a scam, wasn't it? If I'd made a video of what he did and put him on YouTube, I think it would have gone viral by now. I know he didn't ROB anybody, but isn't the whole point of a scam that you use false pretenses to get people to willingly hand you money?
It reminded me of the time my car was broken into. It was parked in front of my house. The glass was broken, there was a broken brick lying on the ground next to all the broken glass, and dozens of grimy fingerprints in the brick dust on the door handles, inside and outside of the car. When I asked the police if they would be collecting any of the prints, they said no, because "that only proves somebody TOUCHED your car, which is not a crime when you park on a city street."
Gee, thanks. Makes me wonder what's the point in reporting ANYTHING to the police when they act as if you're a busybody who imagines things. I guess Bill Clinton was telling the truth too: DNA on clothing doesn't prove there was DNA anywhere else. In fact, it kinda proves she was dressed, right?


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SYNCHRODAD 9/15/2010 10:09AM

    "In fact, it kinda proves she was dressed, right?" I have thought often about our "commander in chief" and how he disgraced the dignity of Presidency with his "inappropriate" behavior. I am surprised he didn't pick up on this obtuse angle for his perversion in listing something righteous out of what was unrighteousness. Your gas scammer was no different than the millions of Emails from people in Nigeria who are rich, but need help to get their money out of the country.

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_UMAMI_ 9/14/2010 10:09PM

    I'm glad that alarms went off in your head, and that you scared the guy off! (The theme to "Mighty Mouse" is playing in the background in my head: Here I come to save the dayyyyy!.)

I trust my instincts, too (damn straight after living in NYC for 11 years!). If a panhandler approaches me with my kids in the car, I look him dead in the eye and say, "Get the hell away." No, I'm not heartless, but I hate people that target "vulnerable" people (women, moms, elderly, disabled, etc.).

What irks me to no end these days is that police are underreporting crime, or misrepresenting crimes (as you illustrated), to keep their stats looking good. GRRR!

We need more vigilant citizens like you!

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MBSHAZZER 9/14/2010 6:13PM

    Good for you for chasing him off! People are just awful! Honestly, I have zero sympathy for anyone anymore - a few bad apples spoil the bushel.

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Hurricane Earl: cooler and cloudier, but not a drop of rain!

Monday, September 06, 2010

I've gotten used to the annual drought, or dry season we experience here. It seems to normally begin in late July and run through September. So for a couple, three months, we suffer. The lakes and rivers get very low, and water restrictions are initiated.
This year, the drought came early, by over a month. Couple that with the fact that it has been a summer of record-breaking heat and follows a spring with almost no precipitation, AND I had to remove two of the three large shade trees I used to have. The established garden is fine, but the many NEW plantings (since the tree removals in June) and my "research nursery" need supplemental water constantly.
I have about two dozen containers planted with various things, and I have had to water some of these twice a day, namely, the ones planted with lightweight soil-free media. Between those and the plants growing in the ground, I water every day, focusing on different zones each time.
Near the beginning of the June, I repotted some of the plants in much larger containers, and added native clay from my backyard. I'm convinced thay the clay soil was the only thing that saved some of them. And since I am a full-time student yet again this semester, for the first time, I've had some plants shrivel. I feel bad about it, but I had to prioritize. The worst of the brunt was upon the low value plants: annuals, and some transplanted tree sprouts that cost nothing. Amazingly, I haven't lost a single hydrangea, even as they roast in direct sun.
My landscape progress is stalled until I find an appropriate capstone for my new walls... who knew finding capstone would be such a challenge?! Lowes and HD both sell wall blocks- but NEITHER sell capstone to go with them! So customers are supposed to build lovely DIY free-standing retaining walls with these stones, but never FINISH the wall with capstone? Just leave the wall unfinished, forever? Or are they supposed to do all that back breaking labor to build the walls, then after all the hard work is done, hire a stone contractor to lay a cap course on the top of it? Something about that strikes me as RIDICULOUS.

I pray for another hurricane. I pray that it comes closer this time. At least, close enough for an INCH or two of some desperately needed rain. The situation is becoming critical.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PHEBESS 9/7/2010 3:47PM

    I'd send you some rain if I could - we're floating!!!!

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MBSHAZZER 9/7/2010 12:31PM

    Oh, we're drowing in rain here. I'll have a word and send some your way.

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96 degrees, and people are still out there jogging.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Ever wonder how people do that? I mean, go jogging in 90+ degree heat? I always looked at these people with a mix of perplexity and wonderment. I just assumed jogging was a choice, just like spreading out a picnic blanket in the middle of a lawn: you do it only when the weather is "nice enough".
I confess... I haven't jogged in a long time. I have all kinds of rationalizations for this, and the heat is a very frequent one. After last years milestone triumph of running a whole mile straight, I became sidetracked.

Yesterday, I drove my husband's car to the repair shop. It's been making those bothersome noises cars make when they need repairs.
My plan was to drop the car off and walk home. The repair shop is exactly 10k away.
While I had planned to drop the car off early in the morning, I was stuck at my desk for several hours, and couldn't leave until 11:30. When I started my six mile trek home, it was 11:49am.
I walked for a couple of blocks. The sun was fierce and the pavement steamy. All I could think about was how HOT it was, and how LONG it was going to take me to walk six and a half miles home. I tried to walk anywhere I found a shadow on the pavement, but on August 31st at 11:52am, there aren't many shadows being cast.
I have no explanation for what happened next. I'm completely bewildered by it.
For unknown reasons, I broke into a jog.

Yesterday, I jogged. In the middle of the day, at high noon.
It was by far the hottest weather I have ever attempted jogging in. The most ASTONISHING thing is, I did not become tired, and I did not become out of breath. My feet were so light, I couldn't even feel them.
While I was doing it, I couldn't believe I was doing it. No part of my body screamed at me to stop, as is normally the case. I had to talk myself out of it, because
1. I didn't have water
2. I didn't have money
3. I'm not in any shape to run right now.
The only thing I actually thought about was putting sun block on my face before I left home. Within a few short minutes, my mouth was sticky and dry. Sucking in air orally didn't help my thirst.

After half an hour or so, my spouse called. I wasn't expecting him to offer me a ride, since he was at work; but he did and I accepted. I calculated coordinates, knowing he was only 10 or 12 minutes away... but the coordinates I gave him were almost another mile ahead of me. Which would force me to run.
So I did. In August, in the middle of the day. Today, I'm sore. That's how long it's been. Actually, the soreness is probably more due to never being an accomplished runner in the first place.
Last night, I measured my route using an online map. I'd duplicated my milestone. I'd run a whole mile straight, for only the 2nd time in my life. And I bettered it by almost another half mile. Unbelievable!
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I can't believe I'm one of those nuts who goes out jogging on those ozone advisory days!
I'm sure that serious runners will tell you it's about commitment, not about choice; but as for me, I say the same thing about what I did yesterday that I do about all the other yesterdays: I have no excuse for it! I promise to do better!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PHEBESS 9/2/2010 6:56PM

    I'm impressed! 1.5 miles is great!!!!

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SECRETFUN 9/2/2010 5:39PM

  I am interested.

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SHORTY20 9/2/2010 12:34PM

    Great job Janine!

Unfortunately, I will be one of those crazy runners out there today. I just don't have any other choice. With my marathon less than 6 weeks away, I can't afford to skip any more of my longer runs. I need to get 8 miles in today, and the only time I can do it is around 4pm, when it is *seemingly* (at least to me) the hottest part of the day. I'm hydrating the best I can, and I will have water with me, so I'm hoping I can find some shady spots and not keel over!

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MBSHAZZER 9/2/2010 8:43AM

    Way to go! You know, just putting one foot in front of the other and repeating is about as complicated as it gets! Nice job!

FWIW, I don't mind heat and humidity, but the direct sunlight really runs me down.

Get some stretching in!

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JLPNURSE 9/2/2010 6:11AM

    Glad you ran but be careful! Up here it was a code red day which means it's dangerous for healthy people to be outside breathing that crap at an increased rate. I wonder if there are other (indoor) exercises you can do?

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