Monday, August 29, 2011


Outside my window... the sunlight has made that subtle shift from summer to autumn.

I am thinking... I'll go mental if this week is as boring as last week.

I am thankful for... having the money to get my brakes fixed, even if I would much rather have spent that money on something more fun.

From the kitchen... I'm planning to make this vegetable curry for dinner tonight (for my dinner anyway; G won't want any and will probably have pasta).

I am wearing... black capri sweatpants and a navy blue tank top.

I am creating... a new look for G's bedroom. She wants all black furniture, so I've slowly been replacing the light wood stuff she's had since she was two. This weekend I bought and assembled a bookcase; now all she needs is a loft bed, which will probably be her Christmas present this year.

I am going... to see some Shakespeare later this week.

I am reading... Neverwhere

I am hoping... that G has an easy transition to junior high.

I am hearing... Ben Harper singing "Diamonds on the Inside" from my laptop.

Around the house... I think G is still sleeping (I've been in to wake her a couple of times, but she just goes right back to sleep). One of the cats is in her room and the other one is lounging on the floor of my room.

One of my favorite things... believe it or not, is cleaning the house. I don't like everyday chores like vacuuming and dishes very much, but I love when I can do the really detailed cleaning that I rarely have time for.

A few plans for the rest of the week: We have the aforementioned Shakespeare play to attend, plus an orientation and dinner for incoming seventh-graders the following day. I've been talking to P's cousin about getting together with her and her daughter on Friday - we haven't seen them in more than two years, even though they only live a 30-minute drive away - but I don't know if it will actually come to fruition.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...

This photo is exactly what I wish my life were like. I don't play the double bass, or any instrument, but in my fantasy world, I would, and I'd have a room just like that and sit around playing Beethoven symphonies all day long. Except between three and four o'clock every afternoon, when someone would serve me tea and cookies on the terrace that I imagine is right underneath that window. I guess in my fantasy world I would also have a maid. And a cook who knew how to bake shortbread.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Vacation, all I ever wanted

A short review of the first week of my end-of-summer vacation:

Had car problems
Was without a car for 48 hours
Registered G for junior high
Paid $450 for new brakes
Had repair crew in house for an entire morning*
Did work
Watched a week's worth of groceries vanish in four days
Did more work
Went nowhere except grocery store and post office

* The good part of this is that our air conditioning finally, finally works. It works so well that yesterday I thought "Wow, it's nice and cool in my bedroom; I think I'll lie down and enjoy it." Next thing I knew, I opened my eyes and an hour and a half had passed. I went downstairs and G was huddled under a blanket, shivering. Do your worst, California autumn! We're ready.

The bad part is that one of the repairmen asked to use our upstairs bathroom while he was here, and let's just say it wasn't a Number One. I know when you've got to go, you've got to go, and I could hardly send the poor guy to the service station down the street, but the idea of a total stranger taking a dump in my bathroom really bothered me at a visceral level. (Yes, I know, I use public restrooms that thousands of total strangers have used before me. It's not the same.) I need to go in and sanitize now that some time has passed - I couldn't bring myself to do it earlier.

** Yesterday morning I was lying in bed, drinking my coffee and reading my email, when I heard a loud buzzing/humming noise. Investigation revealed a large bee/wasp/hornet thing bumping around the inside of my bedroom window. I managed to trap it with my empty cereal bowl and release it outside, and then I heard the same noise coming from inside the wall behind my bed, near the electrical outlet where my bedside lamp plugs in. While I was taping up the open space in the outlet so nothing winged and many-legged could squeeze its way through, G called "Mom, there's some kind of insect on the wall down here, and I don't know what it is, and I'm not going close enough to find out." I went downstairs, and sure enough, it was another flying stinger. I couldn't catch that one, so I sucked it up with the vacuum hose of doom. I haven't seen or heard any more since then (the one in the wall buzzed a bit more and then stopped) but I did find about 30 of them lying dead on the little balcony outside my bedroom. If I don't post again, it will be because a swarm carried me away in the night and made me their queen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hot air

On Monday, I telecommuted so I could be at home to deal with the air conditioning repair guys, who were supposed to arrive at 9 a.m.

At 8 a.m., I got a phone call saying that the delivery truck with the new condenser unit was delayed and wouldn't come until 11.

At 11:30, I got another call saying that it might be as late as 1 p.m.

At 1:15, the phone rang again: "They'll be there within 45 minutes."

At 1:50, two guys finally rolled up and got started.

At 3:30, they announced that they had to leave (WTF?!) but the company's owner, who'd done the initial estimate, would be there in about 15 minutes to finish the job.

At 5 p.m., the replacement guy called me outside and explained that everything was hooked up properly, but that mice had eaten all the wires and insulation that ran under the deck and connected the condenser to the furnace in the garage. He said he would have to come back with a crew and crawl underneath to fix all that and install a rodent-stopping screen before the system would work. So, to sum up, the air conditioning still doesn't function, the furnace is now disconnected as well (not that we need it at the moment, but really) and I can't have the repair guys back until next week, when I'm on vacation and have time to deal with them. Oh joy.

During the course of this long, long day, we also discovered that it's like freaking Wild Kingdom under the deck. In addition to the wire-and-insulation-loving mice, the first two repair guys found a possum skeleton; and when one of the guys stuck his hand into a hole in the wooden steps leading down from the deck to the condenser, a gray cat came shooting out and nearly scared us both to death. (Apparently it was using the hollow inside of the top step as a hideout. Sorry about that, cat.) Thanks to our own two cats, none of these creatures have ever entered the house proper--if you were a mouse, you'd need testicles like cannonballs to dare poke your nose out with that pair of bloodthirsty killers on the loose--but just the thought of them lurking around out there gives me the shivers. Ugh.

Mind you, we haven't had A/C for any of the three summers we've lived in this house (the old condenser was the original c. 1985 model and was already defunct when we moved in), so we're in no worse shape now than a week ago. It's just having the promise of cool air dangled in front of us and then yanked away that makes it seem worse somehow. A friend of mine suggested that when the system is finally working, we should crank the thermostat down to 55 degrees and have a party with parkas and hot chocolate. Sounds good to me.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Welcome home

Thirteen ways to know you're at our house:

1. The area near the front door looks like a shoe store on clearance day.

2. You can't get a hamburger for dinner, or any other type of meat.

3. Fruits Basket is probably playing on TV somewhere.

4. Cats are watching you balefully from high places.

5. The shelves are stuffed with books, and all around the house you find open, face-down books in various stages of being read.

6. You can access the Internet in at least three different ways at any given time.

7. The reading material in the bathroom is a copy of Archaeology magazine, open to a page with a photo of a hideous unwrapped mummy.

8. Black is clearly someone's favorite color.

9. Someone else is clearly in love with jewelry.

10. The kid-drawn art on the fridge is anime-style.

11. It's an all-female house, but the older family photos include a tall, dark-haired guy with a nice smile.

12. It's okay to randomly burst into song if you feel like it (and if you wait long enough, someone will).

13. Someone will probably still be awake at midnight.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Mr. Sandman

Apparently that three-hour nap I took this afternoon was a bad idea, since it's 3:41 in the morning and sleep is nowhere in sight.

I wasn't intending for the nap to stretch out that long, and indeed when G was younger she would have woken me almost as soon as my eyes closed. But now she's twelve, and twelve-year-olds are crafty enough to know that if they wake you up, you might make them stop watching TV and clean their rooms or take a shower or something equally heinous. So, if I happen to doze off, she leaves me unconscious until I wake up on my own. In fact, she has literally tried to lure me into napping in the past by covering me with a blanket when I'm lying on the sofa, which seems all sweet and solicitous until you realize it's like throwing a towel over a parrot's cage. Hey, you're annoying me. Stop squawking and go to sleep.

The worst part? It works!

Thursday, August 04, 2011


Four weeks ago upon the stair
I met a man who wasn't there
He kicked my leg from under me least, that's the only explanation I've got for how I managed to pull a calf muscle, not by skiing or parachuting or zip lining, but by climbing the stairs in my own home.

I should say first that climbing stairs is hardly an uncommon activity at our house. It's a townhome with four levels connected by three flights of stairs, and you can't so much as get a glass of water without going up or down some steps. We've lived here for two and a half years and I have legs of iron. Or so I thought.

Ha ha! That'll teach me to think!

So on this night, I'd just sent G off to bed and was on my way upstairs to my own room. As I reached the third step, she called "Hey, Mom, come and look at this," and when I pivoted to go back down again, something went ping in my right calf. Imagine a big, thick elastic band breaking inside your body, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what it felt like. All at once, I couldn't put any weight on my leg, and it hurt like nineteen different flavors of hell. I said "AARRGHGHGHGH!" or something like that, and went hopping and stumbling into G's room, where I sat on her bed and tried to stretch and massage and do anything that might make the pain stop.

After a bit, it improved enough for me to hobble into the kitchen for some ice and then upstairs to lie down with my leg propped on pillows. While I was lying there, it occurred to me that if this was a really serious injury--which seemed unlikely, given how it had happened, but then there I was, immobile--I was hosed. It was after ten on a weeknight, I was home alone with a not-quite-teenage kid, and there was absolutely no one I could call to take me to the ER. The idea of teaching G to drive the car fluttered across my mind, and then I decided that since there weren't any actual splintered bone ends sticking out of my leg, I would wait overnight, and maybe my Jedi mind powers would heal me while I slept.

I wouldn't exactly say that brilliant plan worked, but I was able to get around better by the next day, though I still couldn't put my foot flat on the ground. I thought of gritting my teeth and toughing it out, but finally gave in and went to urgent care, where I saw a doctor who looked as if he'd just graduated from high school. (Does this mean I'm getting old? Probably. Dammit.) I described how I'd hurt myself and what the pain felt like, and then we had the following exchange:

Doctor: Are you a scientist by any chance?
Me: No, why do you ask?
Doctor: You're very meticulous about details.
Me: I'm an editor.
Doctor: That explains it.

He was a hilarious guy and I kind of enjoyed the appointment, even though he scolded me for not wearing proper walking shoes while injured--I had tried my best to choose a reasonable pair that morning, but was hampered by the fact that my closet is full of three-inch platforms and spike-heeled stompy boots--and suggested that I go out and buy some New Balance or Saucony trainers. Er ... no. The corporate dress code does not allow for that sort of thing. He also said that it would take four weeks for my leg to heal completely, and at the time I nodded and smiled and thought Yeah, sure. I'll be fine in a couple of days, tops. Well, he was right, because it's been four weeks today, and the last tiny lingering bit of soreness is finally leaving me. (Which probably also means I'm getting old. Dammit!)

So, to sum up what I've learned from this experience:

1. You can hurt yourself doing nothing.
2. Leg injuries take longer to heal than you think.
3. Doctors sometimes know more than you do.
4. It's bad not to know any of your neighbors when you might need a ride to the hospital.
5. I'm getting old.