I Am On A Budget. And I Have Some Addictions. These Are First World Problems. (Part Two)

So money is tight. I’ve told you that before. It’s okay, I’m not complaining. I’m learning actually. I’m pretty good at budgeting and stretching a dollar and I’ve always been the queen of planning. I view this era of my life as a challenge and as a growing process, so it isn’t bad.

Now that I have written the “rah, rah” section I will now begin the “huh, this is . . . fun” section.

Due to lack of funds (see above: Budget) and lack of dates (see entire blog: Single) I now occasionally find myself in the enviable position of having a Saturday night with absolutely nothing to do. Nothing. Not a thing. No thing. At all. Enviable, right? When that happens I’m not sure what to do with myself. Usually. However, lately I seem to have overbooked myself professionally and socially and so when I understood that I was going to have a weekend that did not include people in any format at all, I began to rejoice. Honestly, I was getting rather emotional and snippy as I had had no alone time in weeks.

Also, remember when I hired Ernesto, my house cleaner, and I was jazzed that he came every two weeks and folded my toilet paper ends into points? Remember how I loved him and swooned over his work? Well, I miss him (see above: Budget). My house does too.

These were my plans when I went to bed Friday night: to sleep as late as possible (7:00 a.m., baby! I am a sloth!), and to clean my miserable (miserable) wreck of a house. Do you think it is sad? Do you feel a little sorry for me? Don’t! It was marvelous!

Following is a list of what I accomplished:

Two carloads full of stuff were taken to Goodwill, some mine and some Kasi Starr’s. (There is another story here – tune in later for that episode.) By full, I mean there was room for me and that’s it. I could see out the front driver’s side windows and that’s it. It, I tell you.

The areas where one of the kitties vomited unspeakable things onto the carpet were shaved off with a razorblade. Gross. I’m currently not speaking to Murphy or Miss Kitty.

My garage is completely organized according to girl code. Boys, you have no dog in this fight. My garage is perfect. I do not need your advice about how to arrange my storage space according to your strict and non-negotiable standards of tool/garden object/car/cleaner areas.

The interior of my car was vacuumed and scrubbed.

The trunk of my car was emptied and vacuumed. I hope you guys caught that. The trunk. Of my car. That I have not really touched since April when I was laid off. Was cleaned out. It was sad a little. I had a whole life at that company and that whole life was stuffed into my trunk where I did not have to face it. But after I threw a whole bunch of that life away, I felt lighter somehow. Also, look at it!

Before

Before

After.  Ain't it beauty-ful?

After. Ain’t it beauty-ful?

I cut my thumb open with a vegetable peeler. Not only was I not cooking anything, but I had been whipping about a razorblade all morning with no ill results, yet the moment I washed the dishes, I nearly bled to death in the kitchen. It was a scary time.

I lost my car keys. How I did that in this spotless, completely organized house is beyond me. I don’t know how you guys stand me. Really. I can barely stand myself.

I organized my closet. And here, my friends, is Addiction, Part Two.

Wall One

Wall One

Wall Two

Wall Two

You see all that? Those are hoodies. I love them. I can never have too many. I am on the never-ending quest for the perfect one and despite what you see here, I have not yet found it. One of those hoodies was stolen from an ex-boyfriend. It was literally the only thing I kept from that relationship of one whole year and my whole heart. Two of them I stole from a guy I went on two dates with. Four of them I stole from Coach (you see how I’m his fake wife?). Martie recently purchased one that I covet and the minute she gives even a whiff of letting me borrow it, it will be mine. That gray one there in the middle, it’s my favorite. That Titan’s one has a matching scarf Madre knitted for me. That pink one is for sleeping. Madre tried to borrow the purple one for just a week or two and initially I said yes, but as she was trying to put it on, I kept pulling it off and not letting go and eventually she just gave up and stuck it back in my closet. Some of them are specifically for use in the gym. Some of them are for house cleaning. Some of them are for dates (as if). Some of them are to be paired with jeans on casual Friday. Some of them have matching socks and t-shirts although all of them look good with a lacy camisole. That one up there with the bleach stains? You should know that the zipper is broken meaning I have to wrangle it closed with pliers, and it is two sizes too big, yet I cannot seem to part with it. You want me to go on? No? Really?

What were we talking about? I think I got ever so slightly sidetracked with the hoodies and now have forgotten the entire point I was trying to make. But, uh, I’m on a budget (perhaps it was how you can have a no-money fun weekend? By cleaning?) and I have addictions and these are first world problems.

The end.

P.S. I also have a wrapping paper addiction and am on my second year of a three year wrapping paper purchase ban. I also seem to have great affection for the long sleeved t-shirt. If any of you forgot to buy me a birthday present and feel pretty bad about it, I could give you a few suggestions.

P.P.S. Also, pajamas.

Pass The Toilet Paper, My Toilet Is Fixed!

What an ordeal.  Have mercy.  The drama is really over.  I’ve waited a whole week before telling you, just to make sure. 

Before I tell you how that stupid ceramic bowl was finally repaired, I have some other stories.  About two years ago, Daddy-O and JiJi came for a visit.  While they were here, the handle on the potty broke so Daddy-O, being handy with the tools and the plumbing, trotted out to Lowe’s and purchased a new handle for me.  Upon taking the potty apart, he discovered that the old handle was merely loose, so he fixed that and gave the new handle to me for return to Lowe’s.  Being the good, obedient daughter that I am, I stuck that handle in the backseat of my car and drove it around for two solid years.  All my friends and my nieces, every time they got into my car, would ask, “Why do you have a toilet handle back here?”  Yet I never felt compelled to take it back.

Also, after I posted that last potty post in which I lost my mind with bad words, I received three phone calls from three very handsome men who tried to tell me how to fix it. 

Zorro called first.  He’s a friend from Alabama who would have come over the very first day to fix it had we lived close enough.  He instructed me to sit backwards on the potty, lid down of course, and take off the back so I could tell him what was going on.  Our conversation went something like this:

Zorro:  “Okay, look at the flusher and tell me what it does when you push the handle down.”

Jimmie:  “What’s the flusher?”

Zorro:  “It’s the mumblemumblemuble in the back.”

Jimmie:  “I go by color.  What color is it?”

Zorro: “Well it could be either white or black. It does mumblemumblemumble.”

Jimmie:  “Right.”

So we got a lot accomplished.

Then Javier called and the conversation went much the same way.  I’m so fun.

Then Daddy-O called, after consulting a real live plumber for help, but since our conversation tanked (haha, I did that on purpose!) due to my lack of knowledge of working toilet parts, we all decided that I probably just needed a new toilet.  Awesome. 

THEN! In one final hurrah, Freddie and her father (both engineers, btw) came to my house last week to fix that blasted thing.  Initially Freddie and I had conversations similar to the one above, and Freddie, who really gets me, said she would just bring her dad over to see what was going on.  It helped that I promised margaritas. 

I won’t drone on about how we fixed it but I will tell you that even the engineers were stumped, at least for a minute.  We did have to take it apart twice and there was much holding of tanks and much screwing in of bolts.  Mostly I stood around and looked pretty but I was there, offering support and reminding them of the single margaritas that I purchased for each of them.

Halfway through the evening, after we thought it was fixed only to be denied as we watched the water, once again, drain completely out of the tank in just a matter of minutes, Freddie’s dad said, “I really wish we had bought a new handle when we bought all the other parts. That would really help.”

I said, “I have one in my car.  I’ll go get it.”

I trotted out to my car and came back in brandishing my (nearly) brand new toilet handle.   Both Freddie and her dad looked at me, eyes huge, like anime characters.  “What? Why?  Jimmie?”

“Viola!” I said. 

Do you know how funny that is?  That I, Queen of all Things Sparkly, had a toilet handle in the back of my car?  I amuse myself.  Never underestimate me, people.  I will always pull through.  When will you learn?

In one final toilet comment, last week I had to purchase toilet paper for the first time in six months.  Between Phranke and my anonymous toilet paper donator (Jonquil!), I haven’t had to buy any in that long.  I have the best friends!

Also, who do you know that blogs about their potty as much as I do?  I should win an award.

P.S. So that no one gets mad at the handy man who fixed it last time, please know that he gave me some money back because it didn’t work.  Aces, man.  That was awesome. 

No!

Filth Flarn $%#!^&**^#!$%@ toilet!

The end.

%$#^&*^%!!!

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

Guess what works now?  My toilet.  Guess who fixed it?  Me!*  You may think me pathetic for being as ecstatic as I am over a working toilet but its been five months.  Levels this high of ecstasy far surpass any harsh names  you throw my way.  Besides, sticks and stones and all that.  I am too happy, happy over a porcelain seat with water that runs through it.  Murphy, too, is quite charmed.  His drinking fountain has been restored. Five long months with no properly working toilet and/or watering hole will do that to a person and/or her recalcitrant cat.  I’ve learned more about toilet maintenance than I ever cared to know and now feel a little greasy under my fingernails.

Guess what else works now?  My garage door openers. Both of them.  Guess who fixed them? Me!* I learned, all by myself*, how to reset those suckers.  It only took two years and some swear words and a new battery and the realization that the new battery was in upside down.  Now they work great and I can get rid of the one I’ve been using all this time that is held together by a rubber band once used to hold broccoli in a bunch. 

Guess what else I don’t have to worry about for a year or so?  My hot water heater.  Guess who figured that out?  Me!* I learned how to drain the water out of it and look for sediment, all by myself.* Turns out my house won’t blow up in a fiery explosion due to lack of working water heater, at least for a while.  This is good news. 

This is one of the happiest nights of my life.  I squealed like a little girl and clapped each time something was fixed.  Sigh.  I can go to bed content, secure in the knowledge that I am a grown-up who can fix things.*

*with the help of a handyman that I hired for the evening.  BUT!  I hovered over him a lot, which is certainly not at all annoying.  I watched everything he did.  I downloaded the manual for the garage door openers and told him which buttons to push and for exactly how long he was to push them.  I chose the code for the wall mount and I chose which button he was to mash on the opener.  I read the instructions on how to drain the heater and I followed him and his bucket of water on every trip he made to dump it.  Finally, I mooshed on the potty gasket which was fine but in the wrong place in the toilet tank.  I DID A LOT! 

In other news, it turns out that Seamus likes tool boxes.  He was all loved up on the handyman’s tool box, kind of curved around it and snuggling.  I wanted to take his picture for you but he caught me and ran off in embarrassment. 

So, anyone want to hire me for some general home maintenance?  I’d be happy to come over** and tinker around with your broken appliances.  Just let me know.

**with my handyman, naturally

UPDATED: So We Were Talking About Food . . . .

A quickie to get us started:  I babysat Pooh and Tigger this weekend.  I took them out to lunch Sunday after church.  Tigger had eaten her sandwich and was making her way through a bag of Cheetos when abruptly she’d had enough.  Halfway through a Cheeto she said, “I’m full” and threw the other half of the Cheeto back into the bag.  Who does that?  Who leaves half a Cheeto uneaten?  It was like Pee-tah was sitting right next to me and I almost cried, I miss him so badly. 

Anyway.

Remember me telling you about my garden I had a couple of summers ago?  I think it was three.  Yes, three summers ago.  I planted all kinds of things, some of which did well (those damn jalapenos) and some of which didn’t (I grew about 12 green beans from 6 green bean plants, total).   That garden was the result of a lot of hard work I did with a specific someone in my life.  We tilled and planted and weeded that garden together, at least for a while.  But then, like all good things, it came to an end and I was left to tend alone a giant planter full of vegetable plants, some of which produced actual fruit. 

Lord, how I cried over that stupid garden.  One day I got tired of crying over it, though, and I ripped every single plant out of the ground.  The Brussels sprouts, which had grown into tree-trunk like proportions were nearly the death of me but I wrestled them into submission finally and threw them, along with all the other plants, away.  What plants fit into my compost bin went there, and all the others went into the garbage can that someone kept stealing.  I honestly didn’t think about what went where until last summer when I realized that one of my tomato plants was actually thriving in the compost bin.  I saw all kinds of fruit budding but never really took the time to pick it, and so fed the birds for an entire summer.

Also, remember last year when someone stole my hose and I was all mad because I couldn’t water my lone lethargic and disgraceful tomato plant?  I barely got any tomatoes out of that plant which upset me a little bit.  I’d really like to think I have some of Madre in me but I reckon I don’t.  At least not when it comes to green thumbs.  This year, though, I got a new tomato plant, a roommate who is interested in growing things, and specific instructions from Madre on how to grow very good tomatoes.  You’d think I’d have done well yet would you lookit the stupid thing? 

 

Have you ever seen such a scraggly mess in your whole life?  I don’t get it.  I spend lots of time sweet talking into its leaves.  I prune it.  I give it water.  I bought extra special dirt that smells a lot like manure for it.  WHY? It’s been growing since May and this is all is has done.

Now would you lookit this? 

 

My tomato plant in the compost bin that is now three years old has produced all these tomatoes, more tomatoes than Kasi Starr and I can eat.  This crop is just from today!  What is going on here?  What is the lesson I am to learn?   That I should just leave stuff alone? That I should quit messing with all the stuff I want in my life and just let it happen?  I gotta tell you, I have trouble with that.  Control issues?  Yes, please, I’d like a double order. 

In other food related news, let’s revisit my spend-the-night-dance party with my nieces this past weekend.  I like to give Martie and Coach a date night every month.  We all get excited about it:  me, because I love those girls, those girls because I’m Cool Aunt Jimmie, and Martie and Coach because they get special married people time.  We exchanged the children from one vehicle to another and I asked with great expectations what Martie and Coach would be doing on their date night <eyebrow waggle>? 

Their reply:  “Going to Kroger!” 

I’m going to pause for a moment to let that really sink in before I ask this.  Is this what I have to look forward to if I really want to start dating again?  This right here?  A trip to a grocery store?  Is this what you kids do nowadays in the dating world?  Look here, man who is 6’5” with really nice teeth who can fix toilets and the like, I’m going to be ticked when you finally come along and ask me out on a date and we go to Kroger.  Unless it’s special. Is it special?  Ima let Martie and/or Coach and/or any other married person weigh in here and explain to me, in detail, why a trip to Kroger constitutes a good date.  I mean, I’ve had some doozies in my lifetime, sure, but I’m pretty sure a date to Kroger would have topped the list as “all time lamest date ever”. 

Perhaps I am missing something? 

UPDATE:  I forgot to include this and I really meant to because I laughed so hard! 

Email from Lynnette:  GAG! Plain Greek Yogurt is horrible! It is better for me, it is better for me, tell me!  GAGGG! 

You Can Now Eat Off My Floors

I just did the laziest thing ever. Or the smartest thing. Depends on how you look at it but I’m going to say it’s a little of both.   

I hired someone to clean my house.

Normally I’m not a very messy person.  Normally I’m very neat.  This was not always the case.  When Martie and I were little, we shared a room.  You could tell which side was hers and which was mine.  It was almost like tape had been run down the center of the room – the floor to the right of the “tape” was pristine and held Martie’s bed and dresser.  The floor to the left was chaos and held my bed, dresser, every outfit I owned, magazines, books, nail clippers that I borrowed from Madre and then had to search for in a panic when she asked for them back, stuffed animals, shoes, hair accoutrements, school books, notebooks, craft books, trophies, ribbon, and a lot of dust.   

Martie learned the neatness lesson the hard way.  Madre always said that we could do whatever we wanted in our room as long as it didn’t creep down the stairs (remember, we were in the sweatbox called the attic bedroom). Once it crept down the stairs, though, whatever was on the stairs and the bedroom floor was free game.  We were in high school, full of angst and daily drama about our clothes and hair, and one week our room became unmanageable enough that a bunch of crap ended up on the stairs.  Madre swept through the stairs and room with a few garbage bags and within 15 minutes Martie and I lost everything we had to wear, only excepting the clothes we had on and the unfortunate, unflattering, ill-fitting wardrobe choices still left in our closet.  Oh, you’d have thought the end of the world had come we were so dramatic about it.

It took us a few weeks to earn back everything we had lost and we eventually stopped looking like homeless people in school.  It was embarrassing and one would think after that sort of experience, one would learn to keep one’s room picked up.  If one were Martie, one would have learned it after the first time.  If one were Jimmie, one would not.     

After a few years of losing clothes due to stair creepage, I learned lessons and now like a home that is clutter-free and clean.  I don’t mind cleaning.  Some days I find it relaxing and kind of enjoyable.  However, judging by the state of the dust in my house, I have not found cleaning to be relaxing or enjoyable in recent weeks.  Evidence:

 

Eek!

I heard a rumor about a cleaning crew in Nashville that does such excellent work that you can eat off their cleaned floors and that they do this work for not a lot of money.  Needless to say, I called them up and begged them to come out and give me a quote. 

Want to know what will send you to the floor with embarrassment and shame?  When the cleaning man comes over and makes comments like this:

     “Ooh, look at all that dust!” – said with genuine excitement. 

     “Wow, that is some nice dust – do not worry.  We can get it.” – said with a certain amount of glee.

     “Maybe we should come more often at first, just until we get established.” – said with a slight look of panic. 

     “How many cats did you say you had?” – said in disbelief whilst looking at the accumulation of cat fur on everything.

     “Do not worry.  We can manage this.” – said reassuringly, as I melted in a pool of shame.   

Then you know what else will send you to the floor with embarrassment and shame?  When the cleaning man sends you an email after he is done cleaning your house detailing everything he had to do:

     1. Clean the carpet

     2. Dust the blinds and clean windows in every room

     3. Dust furniture, pictures, pictures frames and a big bed upstairs.

     4. Clean both bathrooms

     5. Dust the fan located in the living room

     6. Clean the main glass door at the entrance

     7. Clean the kitchen floor including microwave, stove and the white trashcan.

     8. Dust the AC unit vents.

     9. Clean baseboards and handrail.

     10. Play with the cats (just one) 

You know, I felt almost a compulsive need to clean last night before his arrival today, yet I restrained myself.  It wasn’t all that hard. I’ve practiced restraining myself in the cleaning arena for quite some time.  Plus I don’t really understand why women feel the need to do that – clean before the cleaning people come.  What is that? 

When I got home to survey my sparkling clean house, I noticed that all of my toilet paper had been folded into a point.  I suppose I’ve just hired myself a permanent housekeeper.  I luff him. 

This One Isn’t For Everyone. Also, Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I fully intended to write a more serious Christmas post and had one started.  I worked at it a couple of times but it never came together and on one of the most special of days, I didn’t want to turn in shoddy work.  Jesus deserves better than that on His birthday so it will wait until next year when I can hopefully get it right. 

I trust that if you are reading this, you survived the holidays and the ball drop.  I almost didn’t, you’ll be happy to know, because there is a story and I’ve written it up for your entertainment.  However, this post is not for the faint of heart.  If talking about blood makes you squeamish you should probably skip this one.  Seriously.  I won’t be offended. 

On my About page, I told you all about why I started writing in the first place.  I received a Christmas letter a few years ago that could most likely be classified as the worst Christmas letter ever.  One of the topics was “Illness” and in it, the author discussed in minute detail all the sicknesses her family had over the past year.  I got all arrogant and thought that I could do a far better job and write something that people would want to read so three years ago, I began that tradition.   

This year I wrote a beautiful letter detailing all that I had learned over the past year about home maintenance and the injuries I received in that learning process.  In all fairness, I only lost one toenail and had only one pretty serious bout of nausea when I learned how to snake a drain for the first time.  Still, I think Daddy-O and JiJi realized that I was going to continue to make small home improvements on my own and bought me two really nice gifts to help me along:  an electric screwdriver and my very own pocketknife (a pink one) which I had mentioned wanting more than once. 

With great excitement, I realized that my new pocketknife would be helpful in opening the mountain of gifts I had.  See, JiJi likes to use the curling ribbon on all her gifts and getting that off the package is no easy feat.  (She also likes to shop. See: mountain of gifts.)  I whipped out my knife, cut off the ribbon and promptly sliced my finger open.  The blade was so sharp and the cut was so clean that I barely felt the cut so it took a few milliseconds for my brain to catch up.   

“Oh,” I said and then realized that I really had quite a lot of blood to contend with.  Like really a lot.  I had cut the index finger on my left hand and so when I cradled my left hand in my right, I started collecting a nice little pool of blood in my palm. 

JiJi immediately sent Pooh and Tigger into the bathroom to get me something to compress the wound and off they went after staring for a moment in total fascination at the blood that was nearly fountaining from my finger.  From the bathroom we heard all manner of clanging and banging and opening of cabinets yet no child appeared with a wad of gauze or a box of tissues. 

Overall, I’m very good in a crisis.  I’m calm and level-headed when catastrophies happen.  I rarely panic until it is all over.  But this time we all became slightly panicky as the pool of blood became harder to contain, you see. I was starting to worry for the state of the couch and my clothes when someone, I can’t remember who, asked in exasperation, “Girls, what are you doing?” 

Tigger innocently replied, “Getting the first aid kit.”  Aren’t they the cutest?  They have learned all the safety rules and will be the first to yell “STOP, DROP AND ROLL!” when the smoke alarm goes off.   

Anyway, JiJi roared, “Just bring something,” and Pooh, after another enormous clang, ran into the living room with two squares of toilet paper. Two tiny little squares for the fount of blood that was now gushing forth from my finger and pouring down my arm.  Tigger finally dug out the first aid kit and brought me a tiny band aid.  I couldn’t help but think it was like someone set me in front of a full bathtub and gave me a single cotton ball and instructions to soak it all up.

We finally got me all squared away.  JiJi and Martie had a look at my injury, told me I wouldn’t die and slapped some band aids on it so tightly that I could feel my every heart beat.  Daddy-O said jovially from his perch in the living room, “Well. She’s bifurcated her finger.”  It was such a statement; it spoke volumes.  I don’t think anyone expected any less of me.  I do know that for the next few months, I will explain away every dumb thing I do with my new electric screwdriver by saying, “I lost a lot of blood that one time.  I can’t help it.” 

 

 

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