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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Diary of a Retaining Wall OR How We Bothered the Neighbors Again

Recently we were told that our deck is tilting.  We live on a hill and the deck is not supposed to tilt.  Consequently we had to put in a retaining wall down at the bottom of the deck so the deck would not become part of the back yard and float down the hill in a spray of dirt and cause the news media to take pictures of it in a morality story of what happens when you buy a house that is built on a hill.  (Or what happens when you have a run-on sentence.)
My rendition of our deck.
There should be a frowny face on the bottom here,
but I didn't feel like drawing it.
Last week, after chasing contractors down the street while waving money at them, the work finally began.  The neighbors looked on in dismay.  And the mayhem commenced.
Any minute I expect to get a knock on the
door from the kid with the dirt bike
asking to use our track.
The photo above is the road they created through our yard to get all the gravel, brick, tools, crap, blahdeblahblah stuff.  It isn't obvious but they made a big old dirt track through the minuscule landscaping we used to have. Notice the crappy heat pumps on the left.  (That's my next project as soon as money starts shooting out of my butt like a funky green rainbow.)
They wouldn't let me drive the bobcat
thingy.  It was probably because
I called it a "bobcat thingy."
The above photo is only part of the bricks and gravel they brought down from the street.  (Coincidentally, the neighbor catercorner to us is having his deck rebuilt at the same time so we had a case of dueling delivery trucks, which pretty much stopped up the neighborhood road and put us on the hit list for everyone around.  People drive their cars slowly past glaring at us.)  I'd like to point out that each of those bricks weighs 85 pounds.  I know this because the poor bastard who had to lift them up and put them on the loader, drive them down the hill, and then lift them out again told me three times.  I would go out and give him Gatorade, which weighs about 16 ounces.  (But I did it three times.)  Also I should point out that the amount in the photo above is is only about half of the bricks because the other half is under the deck and below the dogwood tree that is also tilting.
My MIL came to visit. If you look
closely you can see her sitting up there.
"Hi, Mom!"
The above picture is the right side of the deck, if you're looking at it from the yard.  You can see Cressy's tree house in the back, which isn't tilting at all.  The bats who live in the attic space of the deck get in from the top right corner against the house where that one little spray of green leaves is.  (If you look closely you can see the bats waving and hear them yelling, "Not getting us out of here, bee-yotches!")  Yes, Virginia, those are more bricks beneath the deck.  I couldn't get a picture of the guy who moved all the bricks because I thought he might not like it.  And also he can lift two 85 pounds bricks at the same time so I should just bring him more Gatorade.
Before we moved in the previous owners
had workmen put up these X's to help
shore up the deck.  It didn't work.
The picture above is the back of the deck as seen from the backyard.  It looks fun and cool but it's a big muddy mess.  I have a special pair of tennis shoes I've been using just to go out and dig out crap that we're doing to save money.  I've been washing them out and leaving them outside in the warm, moist Alabama air and now they smell like something died in them.  Needless to say those shoes will be going into the garbage when we're done.
I tried lifting one of the blocks when the
guy wasn't looking.  I couldn't do it and
I needed ibuprofen afterwards.
More bricks and the trench between the supporting posts and the left side is the first retaining wall they'll build next week.  Then when they're done with that, they'll build another retaining wall on the right side of the supporting posts.  Then we'll eat Ramen noodles for a year.  When people ask me why I wear a t-shirt with holes in it, I just say I spent my money on a retaining wall instead.  The tree to the right of the photo above is our tilting dogwood, which may or may not fall down.  We've asked it but it isn't talking.
I wish this wasn't fuzzy.
This is a photobomb that I got from the Internet because I was bored with putting up pictures of our yard project.  I should really say "Our YARD PROJECT" or "Our Fricking, Expensive, M-Effing Yard Project" or "The Primary Reason I Will Never Again Buy a House on the Side of a Hill Project."  Anyway, if you're taking a self portrait on some lake and a squirrel/chipmunk? poses in your photo, I think it's good luck.  All the squirrels and/or chipmunks in our yard have hauled ass for other latitudes.
Unsurprisingly I used this photo in another
diatribe about home improvement.
Think it was something about wall spackle.
My sister suggested I compare Our M-Effing Yard Project to the above photo.  We didn't get to bury bones of dead workers under it, though.  However, we did find bottles, cans, house construction waste, and other crap I couldn't identify.  (No cans of gold coins.  Jeez, the least we could find was an old can of gold coins.  Really.)
The kid doesn't really use the tree house.
I'm moving my office in there just as soon
as we get an AC unit in there.
While the guys were toting 85 pound bricks around, HIM, the man to whom I'm married, decided to build a drainage ditch next to the tree house.  He rented a ditch witch and proceeded to break six irrigation pipes and lost two sprinklers in the process.  It took longer to fix the broken pipes than it did to dig the trench.  However, I have since learned that when one breaks a pipe, in order to fix it, one must dig it out by hand in order to have enough pipe visible to be able to cut it off in order to put on a new connection.  By hand means digging with a shovel and then by hand.  Then two of the connections he re-did leaked and had to be re-did again.  Then the system had to be tested, the drainage hose put in, and reburied.  I'm not sure where all the dirt went because we didn't seem to have enough dirt to fill in the trench, even with the big ass drainage hose in it.  Anyway, my back hurts and there's about an inch of mud stuck to my stinky shoes.
Surprisingly there aren't that many photos of dirty shoes
on the Internet.  Who knew?
These aren't really my dirty shoes but what the hell?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Stuff OR An Asparagus Related Blog

Today I was thinking about writing a blog about writing a blog.  Then I relented and thought about writing a blog about my daughter's moron cat.  Then I thought about writing a blog about the fact that it's raining cats and dogs outside.  Then I wanted to write a blog about the fact that my husband won't try a piece of  asparagus because he has determined that asparagus is yucky poo and yet he tells our only child that she must chew and swallow at least one bite of new foods.  (Somewhere HIM is getting antsy because he heard the A word.)  So I did.
Who knew there's an asparagus festival in
Michigan?
This is probably the asparagus queen.
So I'm probably going to make fun of HIM for the remainder of this blog.  Why?  It's funny to me and it's my blog.

Of course, this is always fun, playing with autosketch and photographs.

Of course, it may not end for awhile.
Not sure where I was going with this.
I thought a flying asparagus was funny.
Maybe it's the muscle relaxers.
It turns out I have lots of photographs I can use for this theme.  (This is something that will probably haunt HIM forever.)

Just for a conversational difference, I'll insert something different.
There's something very funny about these asparagi or is it asparaguses?
Hmm.
But back to the theme of today's blog.  (It's "Asparagus is our funny but nutritional friend."  OR it's "How much can I tease HIM with pictures of asparagus inserted into pictures with him?")

Okay I think I'm almost all tapped out.  Whoops.  One more.
Baby got asparagus.

Okay, one more.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Guide to the Fat Woman Blog OR How You're in the Know

I've been blogging for a few years now.  My blogs usually have some sort of theme, although I go off track frequently.  (Off track, on a tangent, going south, you name it.)  Some people might not be willing to go back and read old blogs.  (Although you'd be missing some very good ones.  My particular favorite is The Stupidest Man Ever, but there's a few others that I'm fond of.  The Mystery of the Funky Green Poop stands out.  Super Deodorant Power et al is a particularly powerful commentary on why Fat Woman shouldn't be allowed in any supermarket.  But hey you can decide for yourselves.)

It therefore occurs to me that newer readers might not know all the individuals/subjects/rants that I commonly attack, er, molest, er, discuss.  Here they are, in no particular order.
Okay, this isn't a picture of me.
I've never actually owned a fur
bikini.
1.  Writer, moi.  If any of you all don't know that I'm a honest to gosh writer, then you should rush out and buy all of my books.  (Seriously, right now.  Mommy needs a new retaining wall for her deck which may or may not be falling down at any moment.)  Occasionally I will talk about reviews but I'm not supposed to read them.  For example, reading "Her Throbbing Question" on Amazon which is about one of my paranormal romances is always good for a giggle.  See that here.  Feel free to comment.  I do use the blog to make announcements about my writing, usually when something new comes out.
Still not me, but in the eighties I used to have big,
poofy hair and used sparkly purple hair gel.  I wish
I had a picture of that, but Easter egg woman
will have to suffice.  Savor the pastel moment.
Savor it, I said.  (I suspect you're not really
savoring it, but I'll let it go.)
2.  I like to rant.  (I LOVE TO RANT.)  I believe blogging is a way of letting everything out.  (Therapeutic blogging = good for you.  Well, good for me.)  Occasionally I'm forced to come back and delete the blog.  (I've done that three or four times.)  I usually have the husbandly one, also known as HIM, look over my shoulder and make sure I'm not crossing a line.  This is especially good because I've been known to rant about HIM on more than one occasion.  My favorite subjects of rantery as follows (and I make up words.)  a. home improvement contractors, b. doctors, c. dentists, d. poor customer service, e. HIM, the man to whom I'm married, f. my daughter's moron cat, who really is a moron, g. crappy neighbors, h. weird things that happen to me in stores, malls, and just about anywhere I'm happening to be shopping.  (The song from The Sound of Music just popped into my head.  "These are a few of my favorite things...")

Okay, it's not really me, but
on certain days, it could be me.
HIM once compared me to Bigfoot
and I've NEVER let him forget it,
thus I feel compelled to throw it
in here.  As I've said before, gentlemen,
never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever
and ever more, compare your
significant other to a Bigfoot.
(Just telling ya.  It's the safest
thing to do.)
3.  HIM, the one whom I'm pledged not to reveal his name, although I've probably done it anyway.  I think there was an initial agreement that I wouldn't use his name and HIM started to be the substitute.  But anyone who reads the blog, or Facebook, or my books, knows it because it's plastered all over it.
Still isn't me.  It's HIM in a rare
moment where he's communing
with beer and a balloon under
his t-shirt.  No, that beer
doesn't make your butt look big.
HIM is a frequent target of my blogs because he is also Pain-in-the-Ass Man, whose most powerful superpower is the ability to piss me off in three words or less.  (Sometimes he goes for the gusto and does it in fifteen words or less.  See Pain in the Ass Man Rides Again.)
Yeah, not me again.  But it could be me.  I think I look
like this first thing in the morning.
4.  My daughter.  She's nine now and her name is Cressy.  So far she doesn't mind if she's in the blog.  That'll probably change in the next few years.  ("MOTHER!  How could you?  How could you?  I'm running away to Bolivia with a biker named Shishkabob.")  (Now I want to name a character Shishkabob.)
Isn't that just the cutest thing ever?
A French fried walrus
or possibly
a French fried vampire.
It was McDonalds.  Anything
goes there.  Have I blogged about
McDonalds before?  I was once
banned from a McDonalds
in Manassas, VA.
(It was totally worth it.)
She also tells me stories that I occasionally illustrate like The Attack of Alligator Girl and the Zombie Kids, which if you don't read, you're really missing out.  That was followed by The Return of Alligator Girl, which for a sequel was pretty darn good.  Occasionally she tells me something messed up like her rationalization for the formation of the universe.  Or my personal favorite of how mountains are really formed.  (Giant space mosquitoes came down and stung the earth.  Pretty cool, huh?)  I don't like to pick on her much because I'm afraid she'll grow up, read all the old blogs, and decides she hates me.  (Funny how that doesn't matter with HIM, doctors, or contractors, huh?)
This is a computer drawing from Cressy and also not me.
Here she puts her artistic spin on the moron cat.
She really doesn't think he's a moron, but she
knows that I think he's stupid.  She thinks
I'm going to hurt his feelings if I keep it up.
So shhh.
5.  Also I blog about my in-laws, although I'm not supposed to.  (Sorry Mom.  It's like an obsession.)  I throw my sister under the bus upon occasion.  (I can't help it.)  My sister has a cat named Mellow who has starred in more than one of my blogs.  In fact, Mellow's due for a comeback.
One of my favorite pictures of Mellow.
(Mellow is a cat of goodly size who doesn't seem to like anyone.  I tried to bribe her with food but it didn't work.  Also she sounds like the Cat of the Baskervilles when she meows.  I'm not sure how to write that.  Try to imagine a hound baying on a swampy moor, except with a meow.)

So thusly you get the idea and most of you will be caught up and in the know.
Yes, this is me.  In a cave hiding behind
the stalactites.
Come back next week.  Same bat time, same bat channel.  (Or possibly a few days either way.)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Home Improvement Hell OR I Couldn't NOT Blog About It

So we went back to Virginia to see about our old house, which is now our rental house.  This is a nine hour drive.  All went fairly well.  The kid was occupied with the Xoom, the dsi, and watching Meet the Robinsons.  At the end, however, we were entertained with renditions of The Death March, the Star Spangled Banner, and an unnamed tune, all sung to a chorus of meows.  No words.  Just meows.  I think that was the part where I flung myself out of the car and into a ditch while the car was going 70 MPH.  (No, wait.  I just imagined doing that.  I didn't really do it.)  (Somewhere my mother is giggling in her grave.  "I told you one day you would have a child just like you and I would laugh," her ghost said at that moment.)

We counted 15 VW Beetles and 19 Cracker Barrels along the 679 mile trip.  Next time, I think I will make a column for all the fast food restaurants.  There was a slew of Wendys, a tribe of McDonalds, a spattering of Sonics, and a butt load of Burger Kings.  That is a shitload of French fries, let me tell you.

Upon arriving at the motel, we ate (from Wendys), and the kid wanted to go swimming in the pool.  (Of course.)  The motel had mysteriously lost its hot tub since the last time we were there.  (We spent a few days there last year and a whopping 57 days there when we moved to Virginia and were house hunting.  You'd think those people would remember us.  Really.)  They lost the hot tub and the buffet and added a Starbucks.  A Starbucks INSIDE a motel.  (I'm relating Starbucks to The Invasion of the Body Snatchers now except with vente lattes instead of pods.  Very insidious.)

The next day we headed to our old house, hoping that all would be well.  All was mostly well.  I was surprised that it was so well.  I should be thankful.  The tenants swiped the shower curtain rings and the washing machine hoses but amazingly all was whole and without holes in the walls.  Two closet doors were broken and a knob had mysteriously vanished, but hey, it wasn't too bad.

Then the dryer vent cleaner people came.  That was okay.  They also did the chimney.

Then the water heater guy came.  Although I had already paid for it, it was the water heater that keeps on paying.  Apparently we were so out of code that our water heater might just as well been a log fire and a kettle hung over the top of it.  After several hours of banging around while we chopped branches, fixed the closet doors, replaced filters, knobs, and made sure everything was okay, the guy was finished.  EXCEPT THE TENANTS HAD THE GAS TURNED OFF and we couldn't test the water heater.  AND THE GAS COMPANY COULDN'T TURN THE GAS BACK OUT FOR ANOTHER THREE DAYS.  AND THE WATER HEATER GUY JUST KIND OF, SORT OF, MENTIONED, WE WOULD NEED AN INSPECTION AND WE WOULD HAVE TO WAIT FOR IT.  Not only would we have to wait for it, but we had an 8 hour block because they couldn't be bothered to narrow it down to a few hours.

I went out to the car to cry.

So after my brief breakdown, we decided to go back to Alabama, where we would rest up and HIM, the man to whom I'm married, would return to Virginia to have the gas company turn on the gas and then he would light the pilot lights so the house wouldn't explode.

HIM went back today and got a speeding ticket for doing 80 MPH in a 70 zone.  He said the officer was younger than Cressy.  HIM was hoping that I would get a speeding ticket before him so he could giggle over it.  I haven't gotten one for thirty years.  So much for that.

Anyway, we've already rented the house out.  I loathe being a landlord.  I wouldn't wish this job on my worst enemy.

Going to see fireworks now.  Pretty lights will make everything better.  EVERYTHING.

Happy fourth everyone!  Don't speed.  Also don't park next to a van without windows.  Also, don't ever eat yellow snow.