Friday, October 28, 2005

Hell no, we won't go

Remodeling has come to a grinding halt. The cabinet that was to take four weeks is now sliding into the fifth week with no new delivery date in sight. A call from the maker said it never made it on the truck. Well, does that mean they are letting it decided for itself whether to travel? Who's running that business. It's my fear that the woodwork has taken the people hostage and are planning so sort of revolt or at the very least, a protest. Take heed little cabinet, homeland security might not take kindly to a protest and as liberal as I am I feel you need to take your rightful place in my kitchen.

So this is what it feels like to be the oppressor, I think I need a shower.

Let them eat Yellow Cake

I think I saw the President. If watching two black limos with an assortment of black SUVs, police and California Highway Patrol whizzing down the freeway at a ticket-worthy 80 miles miles an hour, then it qualifies as a viewing.

I live near the Reagan Presidential Library and on Friday a new exhibit was dedicated. They've built a hanger and dragged Reagan's Air Force One up the hill for display. Us peons can see it next week because the President and his cronies had a "gala" grand opening. So this is why I think I saw the President--at the very least I saw his entourage--or it could have been a trained monkey, but I saw something.

I would not be true to myself if I didn't mention how disappointed I am with the current administration. It's not that I've never been lied to before but not to this extent. Listen, after 911 I never thought twice about invading Afghanistan but never did I understand the Iraq invasion. At the least they should have found Walmart-sized building full of weapons that could distruct the masses. What did they find? No, I mean someone tell me, what the hell did they find? I'm waiting--2000 families of dead soldiers are waiting, someone one tell us why we invaded that country. And please, don't lie to us. We're oh so very tired of lies.

But I did see him, blasting down the freeway in a big hurry to get there. Not to the place I want him to be but in a big hurry to be someplace. I'd like to think while he was speeding along he might have had a quiet moment to think about how Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby and lest we forget, Dick Cheney, might have gotten him into this mess--and how was he going to get us out.

On second thought, maybe it was a trained Monkey in the back of that limo.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Syntax: Something the religious right would die for

If tile setting is an art, which it is, we were lucky enough to get the Michaelangeo of the trade, Martin. Martin, pronounced Marteen, came to us though the carpet store and we were so lucky to have him on the job. He's a perfectionist with a wonderful sense of pride and a quirky way with English but we had no problems understanding each other.

"Your husband says to me, if I hurry and get the kitchen tiled he'll put the stove back and you'll cook us a well breakfast. Do you want me to hurry?" I told him no, I'd rather he take his time and breakfast could wait.

He brought Carlos, his helper and I don't speak much Spanish but I got the idea he was his apprentice. He would patiently explain what he was doing then end with, "capicsi" which is Italian for "you understand?" Carlos did most of the "dirty" work like mixing the cement, cutting the tiles and supplying Martin as he did his job. He seemed to have a lot of respect for his "hefe" and I never heard Martin raise his voice.

On the fourth day the job was finished except for cleaning the floor. I ran out to get donuts while Dan made a fresh pot of coffee. Martin was pleased to stop and have some with us. I don't think Carlos' english was good enough for him to chat because he stayed away and cleaned up.

Over coffee Martin talked about his country, Mexico. He was from Guadalajara, the old colonial capital and was quite proud of "his city." He came to the US because most of his family was here. His grandparents came in the forties but when old enough, their children, Martin's parents, returned to Mexico only to return after all their children were born. He was the youngest and came to study in the states and decided to stay. His father had always told him, don't be poor and marry someone just to make them poor, too. He took that advice "to his heart." Martin never married until one December, when a bit lonely around the holidays, he found the telephone number of a girl he'd dated in Mexico when he was in school. He decided to call and she was still there, still unmarried and they rekindled their relationship. After many trips to Guadalajara he convinced her to marry him and come to the US. He finally could marry her and not make her life worse.

Martin says he's forty and I thought his wife was a bit old to be single in Mexico. When I asked my friend Di if that was normal she said she probably lived with her parents and they had candles burning to an assortment of santos, saint's statues, to bring their daughter a good man. And, if at the end of the year this plea was not answered the statues were hung upside down. I knew a catholic women, not hispanic, who buried a statue of St Anthony upside down in her yard to sell her house. She said it worked, I think she probably turned a few shovels of dirt and made the yard look better.

I guess the Catholics never got over the Inquisition.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Don't look now, the sky is falling

It's raining in Southern California. I don't mean little mist of a rain but what the old folks call a "gully washer" and that is exactly what it's doing, washing the gullies. California has seasons, I don't care what Easterners say. We have summer, fire and landslide with a few sub-seasons like earthquake, pestilence and award shows.

It's not that we don't get much rain, we think we do, it's just we seem to get it on the heels of the wildfires which must be nature's way of cleaning up all that mess. The unfortunateness of this is people have houses on or below those burnt out areas and will bear the brunt of it all. So, if they dodged the bullet with the fires they'll also need to sidestep the mud. Good luck.

I was at Target yesterday in the middle of this rainstorm and when I moaned to the clerk about how hard it was raining, trying to be helpful, he offered an extra plastic bag for my head.

"Oh gee, no thanks, I think I'll just let my dignity get wet and run to my car."

It was my fault for forgetting, it's only water.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

From the mouths of old babes

I was in a meeting this week and an associate was really angry about the new chairs in her area. She has a bad back and was pretty disgusted with management's choice and was telling them just how she hated the seat, the back and height, she has to jump up just to sit on them.

There was a pause and this darling, older lady chimed in, "So, do you like the color?"

I bit my tongue.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hang on, it's gonna be a bumpy ride

On this bumpy road to a new kitchen we've come to a roadblock. Not the sirens-flashing cops-with-guns type of roadblock, more of a bump like those bumps in parking lots. One of the upper cabinets came damaged and can't be installed. It's the corner, needs to be installed first and the other cabinet will also have to wait. Who knew cabinetry was so familial. Problem is it might take a while to get a new cabinet but we drove carefully over this roadblock on to the next.

Phil and Dan call me on my cell and ask me to come home, there was a problem. Ye gads, what now? I was only a block away and was home in a flash.

Background: There are three, separate but joined together, wall cabinets all with glass doors for me to display my things that are pretty enough to show.

"Do you want a light in each cabinet, or just the center one?"

This has got to be a "man" question because I wouldn't have spent the extra money for glass doors if I didn't care if anyone could see in. Sigh.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

You sold the family cow for what?

Holy cow! I just found out what the granite counter tops will cost. I think I'll just glue twenties to the counter and be done with it.

I've always been a pragmatic soul buying name brands when it made sense (except for those designer sandals a few summer back but they were red--who doesn't want a pair of red Italian sandals) but just as happy with a bargain if it made more sense so why am I willing to fork out that kind of dough. Have I been seduced by the media to think I really need this stuff? I love to bake but could I roll pastry on a plastic sheet over tile and be happy? How to decide?

Nurse, get me Google

Google is a wonderful search engine-- it can even locate the pulse of this country.

Search the phrase "miserable failure" on Google and you'll be suprised how accurate a search can be. Check out the first entry.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Pssssssssstttt: did you hear something?

Last week we received eleventy-thousand dollars worth of cardboard boxes. I hope there are cabinets inside but I'm leaving them for Mr Heckendorf, the contractor, to open. He says it will only take two days to get them installed, three if Dan helps.

Honestly, Dan really has been a help, he's a plumber-electrician-dry-wall-guy that doesn't mind cleaning up. He added dry wall to his title just last week when he watched the kitchen get finished. He's taken that knowledge and is finishing the walls in the master bath.

The sink was removed and will go back after the cabinets are in but only temporarily because it will have to come out again for the counters. Dan is great to put it back in for me. He's done it so many times he could do install it in his sleep. That hasn't been to inconvenient but this has been a busy week and no time to cook anyway.

Word of advice. Don't let your sense of beauty over take your budget. I almost ordered the most wonderful tile for the bathroom at more than twice what I had budgeted. Always take a deep breath an then decide. It if is something you can't live without then find something to cut elsewhere. Just think of your budget like gas trying to escape from a box and it's your job to keep it all contained.

Got to go, I think Dan found another leak.

Friday, October 07, 2005

And, now a word from our sponsors

I've started a new recycle program that I hope catches on. It seems a waste of paper, those little cards that fall out of magazines, so I've started sending them back with a bit of my own advertising. I mean they've already been paid for by the company and the people sorting them are certainly a captive audience. Think of it as something like adverts on a bus stop bench.

Vote Democratic next time!

Bring our troops home!

Cheney is the anti-christ.

We spend bazillions each year on other methods of advertising, so this might catch on. Try it, it's fun.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A mother and child reunion

There once was a mother online
Who thought it would be oh so divine
To have her daughter and her
Write blogs about that Washington bungler
Now all they need is a snappy byline.

Read my daughter's blog, She's very political, which I love, and she talks about the dogs, which I adore but then, I am her mother.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Stick 'em up!

We had to get rid of our old stove and I found a company that would pick it up for ten dollars. I called and scheduled a pick-up and they gave me very specific instructions. It had to be in front of our fence but not at the curb. The ten dollars MUST be in the form of a check or the appliance would not be taken without it. They would pick-up on Tuesday before noon.

Dan and I were diligent with the instructions and had it in place Tuesday at 7:00 am, just in case they came early. When some guys came an hour later they loaded the stove and Dan tried to give them the check and they said, no, they needed cash. I was surprised but gave them the ten bucks in cash and off they went. Dan and I had other things to do so we left and when we returned had a voice mail asking where the appliance was. Evidently our stove was stolen and we paid them ten dollars to do it!

Life goes on.

Five across

What's a seven letter word for anguish, extravagance, sweat, tears, joy, divorce, compromise and satisfaction?


We decided not to move from our 40 year-old-house, not with the prices in Southern California, and remodel what we had. First, let me tell anyone doing this to plan, plan, plan some more, and then stuff those plans in the trash and start over because that is exactly what we did. Our remodel when through so many stages I think I'm going to be surprised once it's finished.

Second piece of advice is make a budget and be realistic. Hey, things cost a lot these days, especially the things that go in kitchens and baths. When you start be ready for the worst case of sibling rivalry you've ever experienced. If you get new floor then the walls get jealous, pout and, by the time they get their way, you've got Venetian plaster and crown moulding. If the dishwasher sees you've brought in a new range it packs its little racks and leaves--so of course--now a new dishwasher has to be added. You think car engines are expensive to keep running, try feeding fuel to the remodel engine. We make about eight trips to Home Depot a week averaging at least $100 a trip--well, you do the math--I could be taking a nice vacation where Sven would be massaging my tired feet.

Integrity: you can get it on craigslist

Funny what people ask for on There was a post from someone wanting an original Apple Airport card. I'd not used mine in years and when I opened the back of my ibook there it was telling me it was worth fifty bucks. Well, worth fifty bucks to someone on craigslist.

I made contact and let the person know I'd be in her area on Wednesday at the J.Paul Getty Center, I'm a docent there, and could we meet at a near Starbuck's? She also goes to the Getty and would meet me there. Perfect.
She finds me and explains she didn't find an ATM, didn't have cash and would I hold on to the card until next week. I made a decision on the spot that this was an honest person and let her have the card. Try it and if it works the way you want it to send me a check. Two people told me I just gave away the card but I had a good feeling about this girl. She's a teacher, points in my book already, and she teaches high school, well subs, which makes her close to sainthood.

She seemed shocked I trusted her but I've always felt the more you trust people the more they won't screw you. Hell, I've been screwed out of more than 50 bucks in my lifetime and if she came through then I'd have the money and a heartwarming story.

She has the card, it works and I have the check, she mailed it as promised and we have two people that feel good about humanity. Hey, it's a start.

The streets of Bakersfield or how I became retired

If they offer full medical benefits at 55, take it. Not many companies these days do. Mine did but my so-carefully-planned-retirement had an honest to God Catch 22.

"Dear employees, we are closing this office get out or move to Bakersfield."

Well, maybe they were a bit more PC with the announcement but you get the drift. Since I was less than a year from retirement I felt it necessary to make the move. I wasn't happy with the idea of moving but decided to buy a house in Bakersfield to make the time there more comfortable than living in an apartment.

At that time, two years ago, Bakersfield was one the the last affordable places in California. We never thought to sell our house in Southern California because one, it was paid for and we couldn't afford to move back because the prices have gone through the roof. My husband, Dan decided to stay and I'd move. We also both agreed, because of current tax laws, I'd need to keep the house for two years. It was going to add at least eight months to my exile but what money I made on the house would fund our remodel.

Let me describe Bakersfield. Hot in the summer which lasts from end of May until end of October and colder than you think in the winter with fog thrown in. Town motto: it's two hours from anywhere. Well, my version of the town motto because it was two hours from anything I wanted.

They discovered oil there in the late 1800s and the town hasn't been the same since. Agriculture is also a big part of the valley and as of late, dairy cows. It has so many cows that cow-air-pollution is becoming quite a problem. That's the methane created by all the cow waste. I know milk needs to come from somewhere, I'm a great fan of the cow and all its by products but they'd better start creating ways to dispose of this stuff before the central valley sinks under the weight.

In all honesty the people are nice and while we were there the pace of life was a bit slower. I'm not actually looking for that so it had no allure to me. The city had all the problems of a growing California city. Crime was a consideration, I know schools were although we didn't have an children. Like most cities today, drug, gangs and traffic were the big news topics. Murder seemed to be more popular what with all the groves of trees and fields to hide the bodies. Which seemed like a horrible place because most Monday's newscasts started with "Last night Kern County Sheriff's were called to the scene of a headless torso found in Arvin ..." I often wondered if the Sheriff shouldn't just hang out in the fields.

I'm actually being way too critical, I had a lovely house in a great neighborhood and a great job. Made some great friends but I didn't like the weather and I hated being two hours from my family, friends and house that I'd lived in for thirty plus years so it didn't matter what Bakersfield was like, I wasn't happy. I am happy now. Someone pays me to stay home, do what I want and write a blog so time spent in Bakersfield was just penance for living in Southern California.