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.” 

 

 

Room

Have you guys read the book “Room” by Emma Donoghue?  I heard it was awesome.  This has nothing to do with that book, though.  Just thought I would share.

Following are some snippets of conversations heard from Jimmie’s bedroom, last Thursday night.

 “Ooh, I love it!”

“Hoor!”

 “I will cut you, bitch.”

“No, not that way!”

 “Dammit Murphy!”

“Jimmie! Let me do it!”

“Oh, God, did we squish Seamus?”

“Freddie, did you really drive over here in a sports bra and a blanket?”

“Jimmie, thank you for letting me fulfill my dream.  “

“No problem, Felix, thanks for fulfilling your dream in my bedroom.”

And then I went to work puffy-eyed and lethargic on Friday.

You guys do know that my Daddy-O has the link to this here blog, right? Get your minds out of the gutters, pervs.

Remember when I was painting my bedroom over a weekend?  That was merely the first step of a huge process called Operation: Jimmie’s Bedroom.  Again, minds out of the gutter. 

I decided a few months ago that I liked my bedroom but it wasn’t really mine.  I saw a movie in which the bedroom had a certain feel and I wanted that feel.  So I yapped about it to everyone and Felix perked right up.  “A feel?” he says.  And I says, “Yes, soft.”  And he says, “Give me ten minutes.”

And then the plans poured forth.  We talked about color and texture and paint and fabric and chandeliers.  We used words like “fresh” and “glam” and “treatments” and “oh holy crap, I can’t believe we are going to do this.” 

It has taken me months to decide on the comforters and sheets and assorted furniture items.  Several things have arrived in boxes since January and those boxes have yet to be opened.  Murphy and Seamus have set up their guest house on those boxes and it will be a sad day when they come home from work and find them gone.  Let this be a warning to you pets, that day is coming soon.  Prepare now. 

 I also had to choose paint colors.  By now, it should be clear to all of you that I’m a chick.  And while I think Lowe’s and Home Depot are marvelous places, I cannot amuse myself looking at every screw and nail and set of pliers in there.  Apparently every ex-boyfriend I ever had can, though, and all of my whining about “let’s spend time togetherrrrrrrr” should include the caveat “but not in a hardware store”.  Ahem.  I went into both Lowe’s and Home Depot with the idea of finding the perfect paint color and came out with every hue of blue, green, gray and purple they had.  Clearly, I like variety and can amuse myself for hours looking at every single paint sample in the store. 

I proudly showed my 52,000 paint chips to Felix who in a sudden lurch understood that maybe I needed more help narrowing than we originally thought.  I have a feeling that this was the beginnings of a slow panic for him.  I’m so distracted by shiny pretty things and I’m whipped about like a rag doll with every new thought I have.  Ooh, feathers!  Sparkly chandelier! Wow, modern stuff is awesome. . . . Fortunately for him I’m his favorite plus I’m nice plus I cook well so he’s been very patient.  Bribery works wonders.

After Felix narrowed my choices to about 50, I went back to Lowe’s and got more paint chips. Like I said, shiny!  And I taped every single one of those paint chips to my wall and invited Felix to come over and help me choose.  I wish I had a picture of that.  You would laugh hysterically at the picture of horror on his poor face.  We finally chose three of them, one for an accent wall, one for regular walls, and one for small designs.  Oh, it was agony.  (The funniest part about this is Martie and Coach were there also.  Martie took one look at the 68 paint samples on my wall and within about 30 seconds picked one that matched her bedroom décor perfectly.  Decision made. Done and done.  Were it that easy for me . . .)

Now I had big plans for taking pictures all the way through this process so that Felix could use it as a design book of sorts, in case he gets the chance to do this for someone else.  And I wanted to see the progress. But once I bought the paint, I went nuts. Best laid plans of mice and men, and all that . . . . so no before photos. 

I painted like mad for a solid day and then did touch ups for a couple of evenings. Meanwhile, Felix spent HOURS with some poster board and an Exact-o knife making a stencil for me. 

Progress

So the process on Thursday night went like this – feel free to interject the conversations from above wherever you see fit:

Felix and Jimmie leave work at the same time.  Felix arrives at Jimmie’s house before Jimmie does despite their leaving at the same time from the exact same location.  He runs to the house with giant stencil in a wad so that it wouldn’t get wet in the monsoon (again) and then waits miserably on the porch for Jimmie to arrive.

Jimmie arrives.

Jimmie and Felix lay the stencil out and ooh and ahh over it.

Jimmie opens a bottle of wine.

Jimmie and Felix sample cake that Jimmie made (divine).

Jimmie and Felix sample cake again.

Jimmie and Felix drink wine.

Jimmie and Felix have dinner.

Jimmie and Felix drink wine.

Felix mixes the paint while Jimmie hovers.

Felix demonstrates the proper paint application treatment. 

Jimmie tries to recreate it and fails miserably.

"Jimmie! Let me do it!"

Jimmie hovers for a while then parks herself on the bed, watching and looking pretty.  And drinking wine.

Freddie arrives wearing a sports bra and blanket.

All ignore odd attire and Jimmie and Felix and Freddie drink wine and feed Freddie.

Murphy discovers stencil and tries to play with it.

Felix has apoplexy.

Murphy settles in for a nap on the stencil.

Why is everyone freaking out?

Felix and Freddie apply the stencil.

Felix demonstrates the proper paint application treatment.

Jimmie and Freddie try to recreate it and fail miserably.

Jimmie and Freddie give up all pretenses of hovering and park themselves on the bed, watching and looking pretty. And drinking wine.

Felix works his ass off.

How come I'm all alone over here?

Jimmie and Freddie ooh and ahh a lot.

Freddie goes home with cake at reasonable hour.

Stencil bows up in odd places, prompting much cursing and yelling.

Jimmie and Felix wrestle with stencil. A lot.

Jimmie and Felix win and apply paint twice more.

Felix and Jimmie hop around like morons in excitement over paint treatment and lack of sleep.

Felix and Jimmie put bedroom back together and hop around like morons some more.

Felix leaves with cake in the wee hours of the morning.

Jimmie sighs in happiness a lot and stares at her newly painted walls.

Murphy, indifferent to the happy sighs, purrs loudly on Jimmie’s stomach.

The end. 

And here mes amigos, is the finished product, at least for this week.  The bedding is not included yet. I wish I were a better photographer.  More progress will be made but I will spare you the write up and just show a picture of the absolute finished room.  Don’t expect it anytime soon.

Squee!

What do y’all think I should do for Felix as a thank you gift?  In your suggestion thought process, please note that he also offered to come help me pick up a bed for my third bedroom and in the drive over to my house, he hit a curb and blew out his tire.  His man-truck had to sit on the side of the road for a while as Madre and I came to his rescue.  Here he was trying to do a good deed and the man-truck has a minor heart attack.  It only took him an hour of swearing and cursing and sweating to bring it back to life.  What’s the phrase?  No good deed goes unturned.  How do I repay him?  I mean besides purchasing more wine and making more cake and looking pretty, of course?

 

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