Interstellar Adventures

August 13, 2007

Summer Decided to Show Up After All

Filed under: Elle & Zed,Interstellar Casa — by InterstellarLass @ 12:07 pm

After an extremely rainy June and a moderate July, August came around and so did summer. July’s hottest day was 96, but most days were in the 80’s. All of August has been 90’s, with yesterday rounding out at a solid, first-time-this-summer-ever 102F. Gag me. The rain slacked off, and the temperatures sky rocketed. My electric bill this month should be interesting. And I’m actually going to have to turn my spriklers on for the first time this season. I guess as summers go it’s been pretty good.

Elle and Zed spent another uneventful weekend at their dad’s. We asked Elle “What did you do?” Watched TV. “Did you go anywhere?” Not except my soccer game. Nice. Good quality family time. I barely kept the tip of my tongue I was biting it so hard. After Elle spent the month of July calling me and asking me if she could just come back home, I started asking what they do. They watch a lot of TV. Oh, and The Ex can’t afford more child support, but he just bought a new TV. Excellent. Priorities. Because now they have 3.

The kids start school in two weeks. I’m ready for them to go back. Last year they’d already started by this time, but the Texas Legislature mandated a later start because parents were complaining about starting earlier and all the long breaks schools were taking during the year. Still, Elle has an early release day at least once a month this year. I don’t understand why.

My bathroom is nearly done. The tile installers worked Saturday & Sunday and tiled the shower stall and the floor. It looks pretty fantastic in my opinion. We need our other contractor to come out and finish off the ceiling and side walls where we had to demo to put the new shower in. But other than that, we are nearly DONE with the big stuff. Next weekend the tilers will come back and lay the front bath floor. Projects are being ticked off the list. I hope to have everything done by the end of September. Counter tops are next on the list. We should have a new estimate from Lowe’s some time this week. Exciting! I’ll be glad when al the home improvement is done and we are able to list our house. I want all this over and done with. It’s very stressful, worrying and waiting and wondering. Which makes this weekend’s knitting quote of the day very appropos.

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt

July 31, 2007

Ninjas on Swamp Boats

Filed under: Family & Friends,Interstellar Casa,Mr. Wonderful — by InterstellarLass @ 7:14 pm

Pop loves The Dukes of Hazzard. There’s enough slapstick humor in there that he can enjoy the show even if he can’t hear it. He also watches the news and leans up to read the ticker on the bottom of the screen. Since his eyes aren’t so good either, it takes a couple of passes of the ticker for him to get the whole story.

Tonight’s Dukes episodes are from the Coy & Vance season. Right now I have the TV on mute and Pop’s just laughing away. No one likes the Coy & Vance year, but I guess Pop’s not as picky. Funny is funny I guess. And ninjas on swamp boats fighting with Coy & Vance are evidently humorous. Hughie just drove a little white VW bug through a sewer pipe. Chuckle chuckle guffaw guffaw.

The offer on Pop’s house fell through. We don’t know why. There’s supposedly another offer on the table too, but it’s not as good. So, we’re trying to save Offer 1 while negotiating with the guy on Offer 2 to make it more to our liking. This house selling negotiating stuff is no fun. I’m not looking forward to that part of selling our house.

And who knew it was so damn expensive to sell your house! There’s costs everywhere! And then turning around and buying one. And our realtor is so magnanimous…if we use her for both transactions, she’ll knock .5% off her commission fee. Fortunately where we are, housing prices haven’t been affected as bad as some other areas. But there is still a lot of inventory in our area both in where we’re selling and where we’re buying. We’ve looked (spied) at some open houses in our neighborhood and I think we’re going to be in a really good selling position in comparison. Nick got the vanity and new sink installed in the hall bath last night. Tomorrow I’m off while the door guys are here, so I can finish painting and possibly start tiling in there. It’ll feel really good to get a whole project done!

Nick sure is taking a long time to go to Starbucks…I knew when he took his cigar with him he’d be a while. Grrr. I want my latte! I’m so spoiled…

July 30, 2007

Pretty Soon We’ll be Pooping Outside

Filed under: Family & Friends,Interstellar Casa,It's Me, Lass,Married Life,Mr. Wonderful — by InterstellarLass @ 1:01 am

No, not really. I’m well assured that Nick will get the hall bath back in order. So, still down one shower, now down one sink. Hopefully we don’t have to pull a toilet. (Really, Nick is doing an awesome job with all my ‘honeydo’ projects. AND he made breakfast for me this morning. I love my husband. He’s just the best.)

We spent the day today between Lowe’s and Home Depot, looking at countertops, back splashes, bathroom vanities and cabinets, french doors, and various other things. We usually are Home Depot shoppers. But, we weren’t happy with the way they did the estimate for our counter tops, and so we went to Lowe’s to comparison shop. We found a counter top color in a different brand that they don’t carry at HD, so I’m glad we did it. And, based on my early estimates, it’ll be at least $150 less. I hope. But, the checkout girl at Lowe’s was so snarly, surly, and otherwise just plain grumpy and mean, I won’t look forward to shopping there again anytime soon. My basic evaluation is that Lowe’s has cleaner stores, but their customer service is far worse. HD is typically better on the customer service end, but sometimes it’s hard to find people. You know, the syndrome where there are 10 people around asking if you need help, when you don’t have any questions, and then when you do you look around and there is no one within five aisles.

So, I’ve painted the kid’s bathroom, and Nick is changing out the vanities, wall cabinet, and eventually, the medicine cabinet. Once HD gets one in stock that isn’t water damaged. If you’re looking for me on August 7, that’s likely where I’ll be…the date they’re supposed to get a shipment. After the vanity is installed, I’ll bust the tile out of the garage, and actually make some visible progress.

One Wednesday we have a contractor (FINALLY!) coming to the house to install the french doors. Hopefully mentioning that fact here won’t jinx the plan, and the guys will show up on time, complete the job on time, and not leave a gaping hole in my house.

Elle & Zed come back on Wednesday too. I’ve been missing them a lot. Thankfully the time seems to have gone by quickly. Nick and I have had some peace and quiet though, and we’ve been able to go to a couple of movies too. This weekend we saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I liked it of course. They’re really showing Harry take charge and showing the fact that he’s truly growing up.

Pop’s doing really well too. He had cataract surgery two weeks ago. His next follow up appointment is next week, and he’s happy that his vision is finally improving. It’s clear for the first time in a long time. Not a lot they can do about the fact that it’s an 86 year old eye behind there, but he’s pleased with the results. He’s had an offer on his house, which really puts the pressure on us to get things finished up around here.

Oh, and if you guys haven’t seen the video for the new Brad Paisley song “Online” you need to go check it out. It’s so funny! And I think I’m going to have to adopt Blake Shelton’s “The More I Drink” as my personal theme song. Kidding. Sort of. Mmmm. Martinis. And doesn’t Mr. Shelton just have the cutest dimples and blue eyes? I wonder if he’s single…my sister needs a good Country Boy.

July 13, 2007

Just call me Princess Vivian

Filed under: Interstellar Casa,Rants & Opinions — by InterstellarLass @ 10:14 am

Wow. Being a contractor just must be the life. Work when you want. Show up when you want. Or not at all. These guys must be raking it in so much so that they can afford to just not show up for jobs, blow off estimate appointments, and just plain not call you back.

What happened to common decency? Not wasting someone’s time? Calling when you are going to be late? Letting someone know that you need to reschedule? One hour late is NOT on time. You say you’re going to be somewhere at an appointed time then you should be there. And if you know that you’re going to be late – a clue…you’re 30 minutes from where you need to be and not ready to leave yet and it’s say, 30 minutes before the appointment time: YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE – then you need to pick up the damn phone.

I’m amazed at how people run their businesses. And I use the term business in the loosest sense of the word. They treat it more like a paid hobby.

I feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I have money to spend and people won’t help me! You get paid by the hour right? I have work to do for which I will pay you with money. But you obviously don’t want my money. And Angie’s List isn’t any help. I’ve called contractors with A ratings, and they’re just as likely to offend as the guy from Craigs List or the guy from the flyer in the coupon mailer. Jerks.

Anyone know how to rip out a sliding glass door, reframe and install French Doors? I’ve got the money. Seriously. Just call me. I’ll even buy you beer when you’re done. Just please…call!

July 10, 2007

Ow, Ow, Ow…

Filed under: Interstellar Casa,It's Me, Lass — by InterstellarLass @ 9:51 pm

Monday I had a root canal redone. Ow. My bottom lip was completely numb, and I was numb from my hairline to halfway down my neck, and all the way to my ear. It didn’t hurt then. Monday night wasn’t too bad. Tuesday morning I woke up with my jaw throbbing. Ouch. The 800mg ibuprofen didn’t hardly touch the pain all day. I have to go back in two weeks to finish the fill. I hope it stops hurting before then.

The kids have been gone for 11 days. I’m missing them bunches. I’ve seen them both briefly a couple of times. Thursday I get them for dinner and to spend the night. Can’t wait!

I spent the evening filling out forms and writing letters for Pop’s change of address and change of direct deposit. Oh, and getting his email set up. Had to upgrade his Hotmail to Hotmail Plus so that I could set up the POP3 connection to Outlook Express. That was not an intuitive process. The upgrade I mean. Plus I think the service wasn’t working, because I went through the same process 3 times before it finally worked. At least Pop’s online now. It was cute watching him peck out emails with one finger. I mean, he has nine others, but seems only one works for typing.

It’s still raining. Just not as much. Rather we’re having brief but intense downbursts. Instead of raining all day, it’s raining really hard for 30 minutes to an hour. At least it’s saving me on my water bill.

Nick and I spent the 4th of July with our brand-new pole saw. We gave our backyard monster tree a major trimming, cutting off two major branches and clearing a lot of low-hanging stuff. In fact, we filled up our driveway and side yard with the trimmings. After spending 5+ hours cutting, lugging and clearing, we were too tired to finish cutting the pieces down to size. Boy were we surprised and happy when the city came and took it all off as-is! And when the first 4-man crew held up the oncoming 4-man crew, all 8 of them were hauling the stuff off. We were doing the happy dance inside as they drove off.

I didn’t get as many other projects going as I would have liked, but I think we’re well on our way to making progress. Nick finished sheetrocking our shower. Well, mostly finished. He has a few trim pieces to put up before I can really start tiling, but he’s 95% finished.

The Vicodin I took 20 minutes ago still hasn’t kicked in enough. Hurry hurry, please. It hurrrrts. I’m whining. Yes I am.

July 2, 2007

It’s Quiet…Too Quiet

Filed under: Elle & Zed,Interstellar Casa,It's Me, Lass,Texas Life — by InterstellarLass @ 11:39 pm

Yesterday, being the 1st of July, means that it’s going to be rather quiet around here for a bit. Elle & Zed have gone to their dad’s for the month. I won’t see them for a week Thursday at the earliest. I made a schedule for the Ex with Zed’s timekeeper duties and Elle’s practices and games. I hope he manages to stick to it remember it. The kids are pretty smart though. They’ll remind him.

Nick and I both work tomorrow, then we’re off for the rest of the week. It’ll be a good five days to get things done around here. It’s actually a bit like deja vu. Last July we re-did both of the kids’ rooms while they were gone, and painted the front room. This July, we’ll paint bathrooms, Elle’s room (while we love it, we’re not sure buyers will like the sea-green and pink stripe), the living room, possibly the kitchen, install French Doors, and take down the ugly 70’s wood paneling and put up beadboard. And that’s the short list.

We’ve been looking at houses. There are quite a few that are potential candidates that would work for us. Only one is in our school zone where neither kid would have to switch schools. We’ve looked at a few areas outside of our city, but in the one area we looked this weekend, NONE of the houses had yards. What do builders have against grass? And there was one house in this really strange neighborhood. The street seemed normal, but then off the street there were five little mini-cul-de-sacs on each side of the street. On each of the mini-cul-de-sacs were six houses, crammed wall to wall and door to door. In my cross-over SUV, I felt like a giant driving down the streets of Safety Town. I’m not too keen on my next door neighbor being able to watch me eat breakfast from their own kitchen. There were a couple of homes that didn’t immediately get flushed, so we’ll see.

We had thought that Pop’s house would be sold by now. The neighbor was going to buy it. But, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished. We were going to sell waaay under-market and at a reduced realtor commission. But they held out and stalled and we couldn’t figure out why. Turns out the neighbor didn’t qualify, and he was stalling to a) get his brother to buy the house and b) to start work on the house before even buying it so as to not have a mortgage to pay and have the ability to turn it around more quickly on their own and resell it. Pop has been sending this neighbor money each month to compensate him for looking after the house and watering the lawn. Turns out he hasn’t been watering the lawn at all, and when the realtor went by to confiscate the neighbor’s key, the thermostat at Pop’s house was set on 50 and the AC was running full blast. Explains how his electric bill was so high last month – higher than when he ever lived there. So, now the house is listed for a fair market value and if the neighbor’s brother is still interested, he’ll have to pay the same price as the general public. A complete waste of three weeks worth of our time.

I hope you all have a great Fourth. I doubt we’ll have fireworks here, and if we do, they’ll be scattered and abbreviated. Rather like the thunderstorms forecast from now until next Tuesday. My yard is no longer draining. The ground is saturated. So far we haven’t been affected by any flooding. But a few more days of rain and a heavy deluge may just do us in. Nothing is able to dry out, and so our plans for Shakespeare in the Park aren’t sounding too appealing. Unless you like a wet butt and sinking your lawn chair into the muck. I think I’ll opt for a dry spot indoors somewhere.

June 28, 2007

14 hours later

Filed under: Elle & Zed,Family & Friends,Interstellar Casa,Interstellar Travel,It's Me, Lass — by InterstellarLass @ 9:35 pm

Thankfully, my flight home was uneventful. Except for the hour we sat on the tarmac after the plane parked in our gate blew his generator, thankfully on the ground. But we had to wait for another gate to clear. Tuesday wasn’t so great. After watching The Storm that ate Oklahoma ground our plane out of OKC, our 1:50 pm flight turned into an 8 pm flight on another airline. And when the baggage door came off the plane, another two hours later we finally took off in the driving rain. My knuckles are just now recovering their color. We finally pulled into the hotel 14.5 hours after we left our offices.

I’ve been traveling for three straight weeks. My frequent flyer mile bank has increased while my tiredness level has increased at an exponetial rate. Thankfully I’m done with planes and automobiles for the near future. One cool thing out of this trip though was that we discovered a new flight web site called Flight Aware. You can look at flight status information even for flights currently in the air. We watched our flight come in to the airport while we waited.

I’ve missed my kids and my hubby. Elle had a bit of an issue at day camp on Tuesday. She got into a fight. After a boy called her gay. After she got upset that he wouldn’t share his Cheetos. If only my problems were that small. Still, it’s wrong for her to get in a fight, especially with a boy, especially when she lands more hits. And on Sunday she and Zed go to their dad’s. I think she’s a little emotional because of that and the fact that I’ve been out of town so much. I haven’t been on a buiness trip in years, and to have three weeks full of it, it’s a little upsetting to schedules and such. So I wasn’t too hard on her, but did make clear to her that her actions were very out of line.

I know I’m sucking at keeping up with posts that are worth your time. I’ve been a lot busier lately, especially with a job, where, for the first time in a long time, I actually have a project that requires more than 5% of my mental function. Add that with monitoring the sale of Pop’s house, the planning of touch-ups to our house, and the browsing of available real estate, and I’m toast. I’ve thought about giving this up, if not for good, at least for a while. Maybe I won’t for now. It’s just a thought. But for right now, my 12 year old baby is asking for some cuddle time, which is rare, so I’d better take advantage of it while I can.

May 20, 2007

There and Back Again

Filed under: Family & Friends,Interstellar Casa,Interstellar Travel,It's Me, Lass — by InterstellarLass @ 10:27 pm

Or, the 37-hour turn around…

Despite the dinner and bottle of wine I enjoyed on Friday night, I woke up at 4:30 am Saturday and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was probably paranoid about waking up late with my mom ringing the doorbell at 7 am. Instead I was making wake-up calls to them to confirm they weren’t running late.

Our plan was to leave at 7. We rolled out at 7:03. That absolutely has to be a record for my family as the closest to being on-time and on-plan.

The drive was mostly uneventful. Texas to Oklahoma to Arkansas to Missouri. The hardest part was from Fayettville, AR to Branson, MO. There’s no real highway to get there, and so we drove on the twisty one-lane-each-way country roads. Got stuck behind a 5th-wheel for about 15 minutes, but thankfully traffic wasn’t heavy. I was riding shotgun at this point, and tried to sleep for a bit. But instead I got rather car sick. Not used to that kind of driving. Laying down at the hotel for a few minutes restored my equilibrium.

I hadn’t seen my aunt since last fall, and hadn’t seen my cousin for at least 5 years. The last time I saw him he was a gangly, skinny teenager. This time he was a tall, well built and handsome Marine. I was so proud. He gave hugs all around to everyone and was really happy that we all made the trip.

We also got to see my cousin’s other grandparents and an uncle, people we hadn’t seen in 20 years. They live in eastern Pennsylvania. Despite my aunt and their son being divorced for 20 years, they are still very involved in my cousin’s life, and along with my aunt were the only family members able to make it out to California for my cousin’s graduation from bootcamp. They are such nice people, and I really enjoyed talking with his grandmother. She was a war-bride, originally from the UK. Her brothers and sister all live there still, with the eldest being 97.

My uncle grilled filets for us, accompanied by baked potatoes and salad. We ate outside in their backyard. The weather was perfect. My mom and all her siblings were there, for the first time in a long time. Besides my cousin, my sisters and I were the only other ‘cousins’ there.

We didn’t talk much about his deployment. Where are you going? Where they tell me to. What are you going to be doing? Fixing stuff. How long will you be deployed? About 7 months. Yep. He’s a Marine.

I could tell he was happy we were all there. Actually a bit overwhelmed or embarassed by the attention I think. My aunt didn’t tell him everyone was coming until he was already there. But I think it meant a  lot to him.

This morning we saw them again briefly for breakfast. Then, there were lots of hugs, a few quick tears, and we were off. It was a happy occasion, not a sad one.

On the way home, we stopped by the storefront of a family run orchard. I bought some fig preserves, blackberry preserves, green jalapeno preserves (for Nick) and some fresh, organic honey. I can’t wait to taste these! I managed the helm all the way home, and tried to keep everyone happy. But 8 hours in the car, followed by 8 hours in the car made for a few sour moments. I was so happy when we pulled home into the drive at 10 to 8 tonight.

It was tough to make this trip, but totally worth it. I had fun spending time with my mom and sisters. It was wonderful to see my aunt and uncles and my cousin.

But I am so very happy that this weekend we are flying to ELP and NOT driving. Oh yeah. Forgot to mention that little tidbit. After discussions with Nick’s sister and Pop, we’ve decided that Pop going back to ELP is not an option. Soooo, we’re going to sell Pop’s house. And then we’re going to sell our house. And then we’re buying a bigger house. And Pop is going to live with us. I have a list of things to do. It’s a long and fairly expensive list. I may have to send Nick to the store again to do his brand of ‘grocery shopping’. Living on mac n’ cheese for the next few months should be easy, right?

Things are settling and normalizing for now. When the real work starts around here and the move happens, it’ll get all crazy again. I’m enjoying this brief moment of sanity.

May 7, 2007

Bone Tired

Filed under: Family & Friends,Interstellar Casa,It's Me, Lass — by InterstellarLass @ 7:36 pm

I think I hurt everywhere. Maybe there’s a spot right on top of my head that doesn’t hurt, but I’m not quite sure. I have worked my tail off the last three days.

Elle now has a room. Pop does too, and a new recliner. The garage has been cleaned out, and excess furniture has found a home in the space the cleaning created. Umpteen loads of laundry have been washed, dried and folded. We also made 1 trip to Goodwill and 1 trip to the city solid waste facility. We also visited Home Depot for some shower safety equipment.

Pop is a little concerned that he’s getting in the way. But it’s just everyone finding their groove and adjusting. My greatest fear is that he’s going to get bored. At his house, he had chores and his birds, knew where the grocery store was, and his favorite restaurants. Here, he’s commented that he’s useless. Today he emptied out the bathroom garbage. I made sure to thank him for that. I also told him that I’d show him our washer and dryer so he can do his own wash. That will give him something else to do.

Besides that, I’m not sure what else he can do. He doesn’t hear at all (sidenote: He’s actually enjoying Dancing With the Stars because he can see the dancing and not have to follow any plot.) his vision is OK, but not great. His hands are arthritic, and his walking is a little shaky. His hobby at home was feeding the birds. Here we have mostly grackels – I’ve seen a few jays and cardinals occasionally.

Thank you all for your well wishes. I hope to be able to get around and visit you all very soon. I just need to catch up on so much!

May 5, 2007

Home Safe, with Soup and Cereal

Filed under: Family & Friends,Interstellar Casa — by InterstellarLass @ 9:30 pm

Despite the intial plan to stop over in Midland or Abilene, Nick and Pop made it straight through in one day. I, of course, didn’t get everything done that I needed to do, but I was expecting an extra day.

We have soup, cereal, Kleenex, and toilet paper coming out our ears. If the second coming happens tonight, we’ll be sitting pretty.

Pop is temporarily set up in Elle’s room. Elle is sleeping on the couch. Her bed and room will be put together tomorrow. All the pieces are there…it’s just too late, and more stuff needs to be moved to the garage.

I think I’m going to like having Pop here…he bought beer before they came home. A man after my own heart. 🙂

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