Sunday, May 26, 2013

Attack of the Home Improvement Gremlins

Warning: Ranting may occur in the contents of this blog.  Home Improvement + Fat Woman = ranting.  Yea, there shall be ranting in the valley.
The house the way it's supposed to be.
(Not exactly to scale.)
Recently we had some work done to our house.  This is always a fun experience because it's like a vicious cycle.  You see having something fixed in this house ALWAYS leads to having something else fixed.  Usually the something else fixed is expensive.  I'll give an example.  Contractor A walks in, says, "Great, I'll get to work.", works.  Then comes back for the payment and says, "Did you know your deck is pulling away from your house?"  Our response is: "Why no, we didn't."  Contractor A, who also builds decks, says, "If it keeps doing that, you'll have to have it torn down, and another one built.  The footers were put in wrong and erosion is making them move."  We say, "Oh, fab.  We were already planning on eating Top Ramen and two day old bread for the next year anyway."
The house the way the contractor says it is.
So we think about it and we think about it.  (Which hurt.  I'm not actually supposed to think about stuff I don't want to think about.)  We fixed most of the drainage issues.  (Haha.  It's like a Dutch dam.  Water keeps popping out of the holes you don't have your fingers in.)
I googled "Finger in the dyke" to look at
pictures of little Dutch boys sticking their
fingers in dams.  You wouldn't believe what
I got.  I should think more carefully about
search terms in the future.
At first I think, we'll dig out the concrete supports and put better ones in, all the while, the upper deck magically stays in place by itself.  Or we could get magical animals to hold it up while we pour the footers.

Oh, that niggling problem with physics and gravity.  Damn you, Sir Isaac Newton.  I hope you never invent a Fig Newton.  (Okay, I know.  Newton does not equal Fig Newton.  I'm not sure if that apple really bonked him on the head.)

(Hell and damnation, now I'm going to have to go look at the proper spelling of Isaac Newton to make sure I got it right.  I worship Google.  Also Bing.  Except when I'm searching for fingers in a dyke.)

Bad laws of gravity.  So I think, what can I do to keep the supports from slipping down the hill?  Elephants?  Nuclear tainted super chipmunks?

Say the hell with having a deck, knock it down and put up a nice set of steps?  (I like the covered deck.  It's one of the things I like most about this house.  You can go out, have a cup of tea, listen to the birds, escape HIM and HER, which is now what I'm calling my post-school, summer vacayed kid.)  (The kid is on summer break.  She does not understand that Mommy must write.  Things clash.  Very sad.  This is only the second day of summer vacay.  I have two chapters left to write in this book.  Veins in my forehead might explode.)
I know.  Nothing to do with anything, but while I
was looking for pictures of flying monsters I found
the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Apparently, he has a lot of followers.
Very weird.
No, it finally came to me while I was asleep.  Apparently I haven't got anything better to dream about.  A retaining wall built around the bottom of the supports will keep them from moving, and it shouldn't cost that much.  (Hahaha.  I said that, I actually said that, before we got some estimates.)

Next plan of action, acquiring estimates.  I called eight contractors.  EIGHT fricking contractors.  One called me back promptly and came out to give me an estimate.  He got an idea of what I wanted, made some suggestions and then said, "This is going to cost a lot."  Me: "Define a lot."  Him: "Oh, about eight to ten."  Me: "Eight to ten what?"  Him, cringing in anticipation: "Eight to ten thousand."  Me, much later, after I woke up: "But it's just a wall."  (This was more like a wail.)  More wailing ensued: "We're going to have a wall that's worth more than my car?  Wahhhhhh."  He then went onto explain why it would cost so much, adding, "But I'm just guessing at this point.  I'll do up an estimate and email it to you."

So whilst I was waiting for that, I waited for the other seven contractors to call.  They did not call.  In fact, no one called.  The first one didn't even call back.  I called him twice to get him going.  He finally sent me an estimate and it was for $6500.  I think I was supposed to be relieved that it wasn't eight to ten.   (THOUSAND!)

I called back the other contractors.  One eventually called me back, three weeks later.  By that time I had moved onto the five next contractors on my list.  The deck guy who originally told us about the deck pulling away from the house, mentioned that he had a friend who does retaining walls.  His name is Guido and he doesn't take checks, Visa, or MasterCard.  In fact, he doesn't take consecutive number bills and prefers twenties.  I think I saw him before on a poster at the Post Office.  Maybe.

So we finally got one to agree to do the work.  Allegedly.  It's supposed to happen next month.  We'll see.

Last week during a storm, water started pouring out of the electrical box outside.  Let's just say I was alarmed.  Electricity + water = badness.  Shocky, my-hair-will-look-like-Bride-of-Frankenstein badness.  We called the city and the city sent out a water department guy.  Maybe she thought the water department guy was best suited to deal with the water pouring out of an electrical outlet box.  I do not know.  The next day we called the city back and specifically asked for the guys who deal with electrical issues to come out.  He did and said he sees this all the time when it rains because the junction boxes are uphill from the house.  The water goes into the junction box and comes out on the lower end (my house's electrical outlet box) like a like electrical waterfall of doom.  (Don't touch it.)  He even opened up the box and showed me that the pipe that contains the wires was still full of water.  (IN WHAT FREAKING UNIVERSE CAN THIS BE A GOOD THING?)  The gist of the conversation was not to worry about it until the water goes so high in the box and reaches the hot spots.  The utilities guy used the phrase "hot spots".  I did not.  So since I cannot open this box (It's sealed shut so people can't mess with their utilities numbers and cheat the city out of revenues.) I'm not going to be able to see this happening until it explodes.  This leads me to a YouTube video I saw last night that will demonstrate what happens when electricity does bad things.

Onto the next contractor.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Stuff in my Life OR the Rant of Fat Woman Returns

I'm not sure where to begin.

Oh, yes I am.

HIM, otherwise known as my husband, and also sometimes known as Pain in the Ass Man, (and not in a good way), went to the doctor a little while back.  Why you might ask.  HIM had a pinched nerve.  Normally I would be compassionate and sympathetic, having had pinched nerves before, but, but but...  Okay, I call him on his cell phone to see how it's going at the doctor's office and HIM says, "Well, the doctor is concerned that my spine is weird and he's giving me an X-ray, and making recommendations for specialists and some other stuff."  HIM comes home with all these special instructions and medication up the hoo-ha.  (There's enough muscle relaxers to take out a small country.  Also I think they wrapped him in bubble wrap, but he took it off before he came inside the house.)  So what is the problem?

I went to the same exact doctor last year.  SAME EXACT DOCTOR.  Yes.  With a pinched nerve.  Do you know what I got?

HIM: "I have a pinched nerve booboo."  "OMG!  Mr. Bevill, let us massage your neck muscles!  Let us take an X-ray!  Would you like to rest and relax while we call an ambulance to take you to the next room over?  Would you like a margarita?  That nurse's name is Pinchy Cheeks Mary and she's very good at patient relaxation techniques!  Have some drugs!  Have some more drugs!"
How the Medical Doctor interprets
where the male patient points.
Me: "I have a pinched nerve booboo."  "Whateveh.  Do some back exercises.  Take some ibuprofen.  Loose some weight.  Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out."
How the Medical Doctor interprets
where the female patient points.

Really.  The only good thing is that now I have HIM's extra muscle relaxers so that I can take some the next time that nerve in my back decides to go all hinky.

Subject change: The evil perpetrating raccoon in our back yard has been captured and put into the Raccoon Relocation Program.  (HIM came up with that one.)  The problem: there's at least one more hanging out back.  They know where the bird feeder is and they're not afraid to unscrew the top to get to the seeds inside.  Dammit.

So we got a humane trap and caught one.  It was relocated to a safe spot where it could roam, and steal, and cavort to its little heart's content.  Happily I put the bird seed back out.  The next day there were little raccoon footprints all over the place and an empty bird feeder.  (I swear I heard evil raccoon laughter coming from the woods.  Bwa-ha-ha-ha!)
It looked like this except ALL OVER EVERY PART of the deck.
The only good part was that the coon could not open the bear proof garbage can with
the bird seed inside.  I was mildly surprised that the coons
hadn't carted the garbage can down the stairs and rolled
it out into the woods.
I am certain that raccoon number 1 did not hitch a ride back from the wilderness sanctuary where he/she/it was deposited some twenty miles away, so guess what, we have more than one.

The next day we catch the other one.  He's transported to where the first one went.  We read the Wikipedia entry in detail, hoping that the author is a real animal specialist.  Turns out sometimes they live in groups of up to four.  (The raccoons, not the animal specialists in case some of you were wondering.)  Glorioski.
Pretty sure this one is watching from the woods out back,
planning how to get us back.  Pret sure.
And I thought we would just put the cage out there, throw bird seed in it, and voila.  Problem solved.  Haha.  Nothing is ever that easy.

Now my back hurts from carrying the cage around.  Maybe it's a pinched nerve.  I could take the raccoon to the doctor with me.
Oh I know, it didn't really fit the theme, but I feel guilty about
transporting the raccoons away from their home and I laughed.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Lessons Learned as a Mother

As it is Mother's Day, it is apropos.  Before motherdom I was unaware of many things.  I firmly believe that I owe my mommy friends apologies from the time that I was not a parent and they were and I thought something nasty about them because their child interrupted them while we were on the phone.  (I did not understand!  I'm sorry!)  So here are a few of things I've learned.

1.  Baby poop comes in every color, shape, and consistency imaginable.  Blue, yes.  Green, yes.  Brown, for sure.  Pink, fuchsia, yellow, magenta, puce, some other colors too.  It's true.  Also just because your child weighs twenty pounds doesn't mean they're going to poop out a child sized turd.  No, they can go full metal jacket because it's an unwritten law.  If they didn't fill up their diapers (ALL THE WAY UP SO THAT IT SPOOGED OUT) at least on one occasion, it's because there was something wrong with their intestinal track.

2.  You can get by with five hours of sleep.  In fact, you can get by with three hours of sleep.  Sure there might be optical delusions happening and you might want to limit your driving of your car.  (The popo doesn't consider newborn and/or colicky baby as legitimate excuses for running a stoplight.)

3.  In direction correlation to number 2, cat napping will save your life.  One must learn to take naps when one can.  On the dining room table, of course.  On the living room floor surrounded by parts of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, oh yeah.  In the car while the kid sacked out in the back, hell yes.

4.  Babies can and will fall asleep in the car when you most don't want them to.  If you're going home with the kid and a nap is due, they will be asleep by the time you get home.  It's the law.  And carrying them into the house WILL wake them up.

5.  Do you remember all that stuff that Mom used to say to you as a child?  If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.  Because I told you so.  If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff?  There are starving children in China who would love to have that.  You know those things.  Well, you swore you wouldn't, but the truth is, you will say that.  They will pop out of your mouth faster than the Millennium Falcon on the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.  Furthermore, you will know you're saying these things and wince while you're saying them, but you can't not say them.  (Okay, who got the Star Wars reference without thinking about it?)

6.  It's okay to play every game with your kid.  Go ahead, try out the tunnels at McDonalds.  They smell like pee, but you may never do it again.
Okay, there wasn't something else about
baby poop but I felt compelled to
add this.
Happy mother's day, ya'll.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rainy Sunday Afternoon OR I am Bored, Bored, Bored!

Things to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon:

1.  Toilet flush.  This does not mean flush the toilet until you're bored with it.  This is a game invented by Cressy, our 9 year old daughter, or invented by kids at her school.  (I'm not sure I really want to know.)  One person is it.  The other people run like hell.  If one is tagged, one has to freeze until someone comes along and "flushes" your hand.  Lots of screaming, shrieking, running away, and panting heavily are involved.

2.  Cooties.  This game is a lot like toilet flush except one is it and has cooties.  Then one gives the cooties to other people by tagging them.  Then the one with the cooties has to chase the others until cooties are transferred.  Cressy's cat, Megaroy, was tagged several times.  He did not understand the concept of "cooties."  In fact, he thought he should watch us all from the stairs and then proceeded to lick his butt.  Oh, the excitement of the Fat Woman's house.  (I was looking for cootie related pictures to steal/copy/appropriate and found there was a military order of the cootie.  I am not making this up.  See here.)

3.  Watch Finian's Rainbow.  I made everyone watch the DVD.  I don't care if they don't like musicals.  I wanted dancing Fred Astaire.  I wanted to quote Og when he leers, "Fairy land was never like this."  I wanted to see Og singing about if you can't have the girl you love, then love the girl you're with.  I made the cat watch.  (Petulia Clark really can't act.  But she can sing.)  (Go watch it.  You know you want to.)

4.  Watch HIM play with his rocket.  (This isn't really dirty.  HIM was testing his rockets.  I even filmed it.)

5.  Name top ten movies of all time.  We spent ten minutes arguing over whether or not trilogies counted as one or three.  (Jaws is still my favorite.)

6.  Try not to think about penguins for twenty minutes.  (Can't do it.)
Moron Cat has conquered Old Green.
7.  Wander around taking inane pictures of the moron cat.  (I didn't do it.  It was totally Cressy.)

8.  Compute how many variations of drinks Sonic really can do.  (I gave up after three minutes.)

9.  Pretend you're a robot.  (Good for about 2.5 minutes.)

10.  Stare outside at squirrels who are sitting in your Adirondack chairs.  (Good for about 60 seconds or until the squirrel runs away.
11.  Write a blog.  (Good for thirty minutes.)

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