Thursday, February 24, 2011

A day without sunshine is, like, you know ... night. -- Steve Martin

Between the lack of sunshine, and the overabundance of medical near catastrophes this week, it doesn't look like I'm gonna be posting much.  All medical issues appear to be working toward favorable resolutions.  The weather, on the other hand is crappy and headed toward completely unacceptable.  If I get a little sunshine (forecast for Saturday) over the weekend, I'll try to drop in.  I don't think we have any plans to go anywhere, so maybe I will try to write with Bud on the same side of the world as I am.  The forecast for today and tomorrow is for a cloudy, rainy, ugly, drizzly, gray, sodden mess.  Monday's forecast is for thunderstorms (welcome to spring in the Carolinas).  So, if I don't get any writing in over the weekend, I'll be sure to pop in on Tuesday, unless the weather changes AGAIN.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I do, I shall, I will ... whatever

So we decided to get married on New Year's Day, in honor of our first date.  There was another reason too.  Back in the early 1980's, there was such a thing as a marriage tax.  The U. S. Tax Code is an enormous, incomprehensible accumulation of convoluted laws designed to confuse even the most astute scholar.  No one knows exactly what's in the Code or exactly how to interpret any part of it.  However, in the early 1980's, married people paid a significantly higher amount of tax than singles on the same amount of income.  Even if you were married but filing separately, the tax rate was higher than if you were single.  So part of our decision about when to get married had to do with avoiding the marriage tax for another year.

We checked with the Magistrate's Office to be certain there would be a Magistrate available on New Year's Day to perform the ceremony.  The answer was yes, but in all likelihood we would have to be married in the jail.  Okay, we could live with that.  We contacted our friends Frank and Susan Simms, who were now living in Georgia, and asked them to be our witnesses at the wedding.  We got our heath certificates from our doctor verifying that neither of us was harboring any communicable diseases.  We applied for and were issued a marriage certificate, to be signed upon completion of the ceremony and filed with the Registrar's Office, thereby making the marriage legal.

Frank and Sue came up from Georgia and stayed with us at our house.  Tim decided to have a New Year's Eve/Bud and Carla Wedding Party.  The price of admission to this party was one bottle of sparkling wine (still known as champagne at the time).  We figured we'd go to the party and then sometime after midnight slip off to downtown Greensboro and do the deed.  Tim invited thirty or forty of our closest friends, or at least that's how many showed up.  We all proceeded to be very merry in ushering in 1983.  It was a fantastic party.  One of our friends arrived dressed as Father Time and his date was the Baby New Year.  She was wearing only a diaper.   She was 26 years old and an extremely attractive young woman.  She was a huge hit at the party.  There was much drinking and various other forms of merrymaking and by midnight most everyone was polluted.  Another of our friends appeared to be lost in a haze of his own making, so we tied a helium filled balloon to his belt so we could keep track of him.  Midnight came and went.  Bud and I decided it was probably not such a good idea to drive to the police station to get married in our current condition, so we postponed the plans for our wedding until after we'd slept off some of the partying.  We didn't mind getting married at the jail, but we weren't at all interested in being detained afterward.  We gathered up Frank and Sue and we all went back to our house sometime around 2:00 am, planning to catch a few winks and then get up and head down to the jailhouse for the wedding.

We woke up around 9:00ish, got dressed and started to gather up the things we would need for the wedding.  Oops!  We couldn't seem to find the marriage license.  We tore the house apart looking for the license.   On Thursday, Bud had been cleaning up around the house in anticipation of Frank and Sue arriving on Friday and he definitely recalled seeing the marriage license.  While he was cleaning, as he found papers and such that were not needed, he threw them in the fireplace, which had a roaring fire already going in it.  When we couldn't find the marriage license, we had no choice but to assume Bud had accidentally thrown it in the fireplace along with the other stuff.  I thought this might have been some kind of subconscious revolt, but he assured me he really did want to get married and if he had thrown the license away it was truly a mistake.  Well there was nothing to be done about it.  It was Saturday and it was a holiday.  No one would be back in the County Clerk's office until Monday, so that was the earliest we could try to get a replacement.  We had a quiet but fun weekend with Frank and Sue, but they had to go back to Georgia on Sunday and would not be able to stay to witness the wedding.

On Monday, during lunch from work, Bud and I went to the County Clerk's office to get a replacement license.  Well, we were dealing with government workers, so we shouldn't have been surprised at the ensuing chaos.  You would have thought no one had ever lost a marriage license before.  I know it's probably not common, but there is no way we were the first people in the history of Guilford County to lose a marriage license.  It took two clerks and a supervisor 45 minutes to figure out how to go about issuing a replacement.  The biggest problem they had was trying to determine what date to put on it.  The original license was issued in 1982, but it was now 1983.  They finally decided to use the current date.  What a bunch of imbeciles!  Once we finally got back to work after the debacle at the County Clerk's office, I called to arrange for a Magistrate to perform the ceremony.  Since it was now well into the afternoon of January 3rd, no one would be available until January 4th.  And, that's how we ended up getting married on the 4th.

We left work around 3:30 pm on Tuesday, January 4, 1983.  Tim and his then girlfriend, Vicky Hiatt, were our witnesses.  The four of us drove down to the County Municipal Building and went to the Magistrate's office, for a wedding at 4:00 pm.  Vicky was studying photography and had a really nice new camera.  She was going to take pictures.  She and the Magistrate got into a long, involved conversation about cameras and photography and the screwball Magistrate almost forgot why we were there.  Finally, he ushered us all into one of the courtrooms and started the ceremony.  I came damn near to bursting out in laughter when I looked over at Bud.  He was pale and breaking out in a cold sweat.  His leg was shaking like he was keeping time at a square dancing ho-down.  He did okay with the repeat after me part.  But when it came to "will you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to ......." (no obey anywhere in the wording for either of us), the wording was so lengthy he forgot how it started and he actually said "I do, I shall, I will ... whatever."  Then I really did burst out laughing.  Finally the ceremony was over, the paperwork was signed, and we were on our way back to our house, where Bud and Tim were going to cook us a fantastic wedding dinner (better than we could have gotten at any fancy restaurant).

Turns out there were no wedding pictures.  Vicky and the Magistrate were so wrapped up in their little conversation about cameras and film and photography that neither of them noticed they had dislodged the film so it didn't advance.  Ah well.  I can still see it clearly in my mind's eye.  Oh, and the original "missing" marriage license?  When we went to file the completed and legal one in our important papers, we found the original.  Bud had stuck it there so it wouldn't get lost.  Is it any wonder I love this guy so much?

Monday, February 21, 2011

A house is not a home

When last we left our intrepid heroine and her stalwart knight in slightly tarnished armor ... Oh, wait! This is real life. I get so confused sometimes.  This living almost all day in the virtual world, sometimes messes with my head and it takes me awhile to figure out what's real.  Let's start again.

So Bud and I became homeowners, but I'd be willing to bet our first year was unlike any other first year for any other person  buying a home.  For one thing, we lived in our new home for 11 months without paying a cent.  The man who built our home -- well built is a bit of a misnomer in this case, as our house is a prefab.  The man who owned the property on which our home was placed, actually owned a much larger piece of property and our home was built on the one acre in the uppermost right hand corner of his large property.  He erected our home in the middle of the early 1980's recession, and then was surprised to discover no one showed any interest in buying.  After construction was completed -- again not totally accurate so let's just say construction was almost completed -- the house sat empty for a year.  As the land is located in an area still pretty much countrified, you can image that it was downright desolate out here 30 years ago.  Thus, the house was an easy target for thieves who made off with the outside unit for the air conditioning system and the burners on the electric stove.  No, they didn't take the stove; just the burners.  I thought that was odd, but as I've never been much of a thief, it's hard for me to imagine what might have been going through their heads.  In any event, we moved into the house, with the owner's permission, before all the t's were dotted and the i's crossed, because everyone felt that would prevent any more theft or vandalism.  

Our landowner had a mortgage on his property.  I don't recall exactly how large his property was, but it was something like 30 or 40 acres.  When he decided to erect our house, he took out a second mortgage on the property to get the money for the construction.  It was his intention to sell us the one acre piece of land with the house and use the profit he made from the sale to divvy up the rest of the property and erect more homes to sell.  Unfortunately, like I said, the country was in a recession.  The terms agreed upon when we signed the contract to purchase the house were owner financing at 12% until such time as we were able to obtain a mortgage through a bank or other lender at 12%, at which time we would refinance through the other lender.  His mortgages on his property were also at fairly low rates, but as the country was now deep in a recession, mortgage interest rates had skyrocketed into the neighborhood of 18%-20%.  His bankers were nobody's fools.  They refused to allow him to break out just this one little acre from his package.  If he wanted to sell us this house, he would have to completely pay off both of his low interest mortgages and then refinance the remaining property at a much higher interest rate.  Sure that's a lot like robbery, but banks get away with it every day of the year.  So, our seller gave us written permission to live in the house rent free for a month until he could get his affairs straightened out and be able to give us clear title to this one little acre of land.  One month became two, then three, then four.  Each month he granted us the right to live rent free, in the desperate hope he would eventually find a way out of the morass at the bank.  After about six months, he started getting a little testy.  He wanted us to get a mortgage through another lender and buy the home and land outright.  Well, mortgage rates had started to drop, but they were still nowhere near 12%, so I pointed out to him that our agreement was to refinance, which we could not possibly do as we had yet to finance.  Each month he got testier and angrier and began to imply little threats through the realtor.   We, of course, ignored him because he didn't have a leg to stand on, and we had all the appropriate paperwork to prove it.  

I might have been a little more considerate of the man's position if it weren't for all the mess we discovered once we'd moved into our brand new, never been lived in  home.  Of course, the air conditioning unit needed to be replaced, at his cost.  We moved in on April 15, 1982.  He waited until mid-August to replace the air conditioning unit.  You do not want to know how hot and humid it gets in central North Carolina by mid-August.  Then he tried to replace it with an outside unit made by a different manufacturer because it cost less.  Fortunately the HVAC installer told him there was no way in hell to match up two different manufacturer's units, and he had to get the correct one.  But he still got the cheapest unit he could find and it only last five years.  He replaced the burners on the stove almost immediately, because that would have been an impossible situation to try to function without a working stove.  He had not, however, had the electrical inspection completed or the plumbing inspection completed on the house, so technically we were living in a home that was not approved for human habitation.  The first full day we lived in the house we discovered that only the bottom socket was functional on every electrical outlet in the house.  Not a single one of the upper sockets had electricity.  When we called the electrician out to find out what was going on, he discovered that one of the other contractors had found an electrical wire in his way while he was working and so he simply cut it into and left it dangling.  Once that was repaired (thankfully before we had any fires), we were able to get the electrical inspector out to the house and it passed inspection.  Unfortunately, the plumbing did not pass inspection, so we had to call the plumber to come out and fix whatever was wrong with that mess and then have the inspector come back to approve the plumbing.  No, we didn't have to pay for any of this, but we also should not have had to deal with any of this.  We both worked.  Someone had to stay home to meet with these guys for all the repairs and inspections.  It was not a good time for us.  Eventually, we got all the inspections done and approved and our home was certified safe to live in -- we'd only been living in it three months already.  There were other little nitpicky things that kept me irritated with our seller, so I was definitely not inclined to grant any mercy to him in his struggles with the bank.

Finally, after nine months, the mortgage rate for VA loans dropped to 12%.  As I was a vet, getting a VA loan should have been a piece of cake.  The only reason I decided to refinance before I had ever financed was to get the seller out of my life.  I was so tired of the man, I was afraid what I might do if I had to continue dealing with him on a regular basis.  I just wanted him to go away -- far, far away.  I wanted the house to be ours, to do with as we pleased, without worrying that somehow we might find yet another way to annoy the crap out of the seller.  I applied for a VA loan.  Well, that wasn't such a slam-dunk after all.  Seems I didn't make enough money to buy the house based on my salary alone, and they couldn't consider Bud's salary unless he was a vet or we were legally married.  

As we were sitting in the office of the financial advisor, I turned and looked my beloved directly in his beautiful clear blue eyes and said, "How do you feel about two years in the Army?"  He didn't bother to answer, so I turned to the financial guy and said, "Looks like we'll be getting married."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Man rules

My best friend sent me an email today with the following humorous list of men's rules (the comments in blue are from me and are not directed to my husband, but to men in general):

These are our rules!  Please note.. these are all numbered "1 " ON PURPOSE!  

1.   Men are NOT mind readers.  Well that's for sure.  You are also not listeners, even when I point to my mouth and say "watch my lips".  

1. Learn to work the toilet seat.  You're a big girl.  If it's up, put it down.  We need it up, you need it down.  You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.  Nope, not gonna happen.  If it's down and you don't notice, the worst thing that will happen is you'll pee all over the seat.  You can't hit the toilet most of the time anyway, so what's the difference.  If it's up and we don't notice it, we end up falling in and cold water on a warm butt in the middle of the night is not my idea of foreplay.

1. Sunday sports -- it's like the full moon or the changing of the tides.  Let it be.  Fair enough.  There are things I like but know you don't, and I don't expect you to share them with me, so go ahead and enjoy your sports.

1. Crying is blackmail.  I agree.  On the other hand, I'm a female and I suffer from clinical depression, SAD and hormonal imbalances (I know, I just lost all the men at the word hormonal).  Sometimes I just cry.  I don't mean it as blackmail, I just can't help it.  Just hold me close and tell me you love me and everything will work out.

1. Ask for what you want.  Let us be clear on this one:  Subtle hints do not work!  Strong hints do not work!  Obvious hints do not work!  Just say it!  Okay, but since you seldom actually hear what I say, how is that gonna help?

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.  Sometimes, but not when I ask "how was your day", "where are you going", "who was that on the phone", "what time are we leaving", and believe me I can go on and on with questions that require some response other than Yes or No.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do.
Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.  Again, I agree.  Men seem to be more direct and to the point, but it never hurts to show a little feeling in there at the same time.  The solution to the problem along with a hug will only mean more bonus points for you.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.  In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 Days.  WRONG!  I'm not sure which of us has the longest and clearest memory, but if you can drag up the past, so can I.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are.  Don't ask us.  I think I'm fat so I'm not about to ask you or anyone else for their opinion on that subject.

1. When you first wake up in the morning, wait 1 hour before discussing any issues.  Our minds are still re-booting and the "Hour Glass" is still turning.  Same goes for me, which by the way, is why I am up more than an hour before you each morning.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.  Of course you did (really, I believe that, of course I do, why would I lie), but depending upon our mood we may interpret it either way or both ways all at the same time.  

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done.  Not both.  If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.  Fair enough, if you will then stop telling me how to do things (usually without prompting).  To be perfectly honest, I'd be pleased if I asked you to do something and then discovered it had, in fact, been done.

1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.  I will, if you will stop trying to chat while I'm reading and stop interjecting comments into my telephone conversations (of which you have only heard one side) while I have a receiver covering one ear and a person talking in the other.

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.  Christopher Columbus was looking for the Orient.  Enuf said.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings.  Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.  That's mostly true, and some of you see only the three primary colors, black and white, and the three colors that are made when you mix the primary colors.  Which, in retrospect, might explain a whole lot of things about you guys. 

1. If it itches, it
will be scratched.  We do that.  DON'T. GET. ME. STARTED.  This could go downhill very quickly. 

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," We will act like nothing's wrong.  We know you are lying , but it is just not worth the hassle.  
Then don't bother to ask, since you clearly don't want to know. 

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.  Other than rhetorical questions, I rarely ask anything of anyone unless I actually would like an answer.  I can't speak for other women, but in that case, you deserve what you get.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine.... really.   Then why do I get "that" look, and the "you're not wearing that are you" question?

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as Football, Hunting, Fishing or having sex.  Yep, that pretty much covers the depth of your thoughts for most of you.

1. You have enough clothes.  Absolutely!  And your point is?

1. You have too many shoes.  Not I.  Many women do, but not I.  I hate shoes.  I may have too many pairs of flip flops but that's a totally different matter.

1. I am in shape.  Round IS a shape!  Which is why I say you need to be in better shape.  And truly the only reason I mention it is your health and the fact that I don't want to lose you.   However, since I am also round, this really isn't very often a topic.

1. Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; b
ut did you know men really don't mind that?  It's like camping.  We've had some hellatious misunderstandings over the years, but never once I have told you to sleep on the couch.    There are sooooo many other ways to get even. 

P I S S E D Off

This is gonna be short and not at all sweet but I gotta get it off my chest NOW.  What the Hell is up with banks?  If I get a large check, even if it is from a government agency, a well known insurance agency, or another banking institution, I cannot have access to that money for ten business days.  Supposedly this is so they can be sure there will be funds to cover the check.  Yea, right.  I know the U. S. Government is bankrupt, but they somehow manage to cover all their checks anyway and it sure doesn't take any ten days to figure that out.  What the banks want is to hold your money for ten days so they can earn extraordinary amounts of interest on it before they let you use it.

So why am I hacked off?  I wrote a check to the plumber yesterday for $1800.00 for the work he did in our bathroom.  The work was excellent and well worth the price.  However, it was 5:45 pm when I wrote that check and handed it to him.  As near as I can tell banks close at 5:00 pm and they also tell you all transactions made after 2:00 pm will not post until the following day.  So will someone explain to me exactly how it happens that when I logged onto my banking site this morning at 5:15 am, that $1800.00 had already been deducted from my account?  No it wasn't a pending transaction.  It was signed, sealed and delivered.  Gone from our account, but I'm willing to bet not yet available for the plumber's use.  No, it didn't overdraw my account.  No, I don't have to pay any extra charges because they took the money faster than greased lightning.  But it really, really irritates the stuffing outta me.

Just had to get that said.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The end of the repairman blues

For years while Bud and I both worked full time jobs, any type of repair work that needed to be done at our home became a scheduling nightmare.  Obviously, one of us would have to take off from work.  Unfortunately, it was rarely obvious which one of us should do that, since both of us had pretty intensive jobs that required our presence on a regular basis.  We tried switching off -- first my turn, next time his.  But that seldom worked out because whenever it was my turn, something would come up and I couldn't get away.  Or, the same would happen with him.  And then, of course, there are the repair people themselves.  They say they'll be there at 2:00 pm.  2:00 pm comes and goes -- no repairman.  2:30 pm comes and goes -- still no repairman and no phone call.  By 3:00 pm you're searching for a telephone number to call and let them have a piece of what's left of your mind, and lo and behold, the service truck pulls in the driveway.  Or, the repairman says he'll be there sometime between 8:00 am and noon.  Oh goodie!  I just love aimlessly waiting.  Especially on those occasions when the repairman was lying mistaken and did NOT get there between 8:00 am and noon, and did NOT call.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that problem is solved at our house.  Since I can't go anywhere, or do anything, and I don't have a life, I can be here to cheerfully greet every repairman no matter what day of the week or time of the day he/she/it chooses to appear.  They can't get my goat because I would have just been sitting here doing nothing anyway. Ha, ha, ha.  We have, at last, outdone them.  And now, instead of them being an inconvenience, they actually bring a little bit of variety and excitement into my day.

When we first bought our home 30 years ago, there was a hole in the wall behind where the clothes dryer was supposed to go, but there was no vent hooked up.  We have a basement and one side of it is "finished" meaning it has a poured concrete floor with drains and cinderblock walls.  The other side is still dirt filled, though you can stand up in it in many places.  The two sides are divided by a wall.  Bud hooked up the dryer vent so that it vented directly into the dirt side of our basement, and that's where it has been venting lo these many years.  Well, our HVAC unit is also installed in the dirt side of our basement.  This last time the repairman came out to do our spring preventive maintenance on our HVAC, he informed me the dryer was going to have to be vented to the outside because not only was all that lint a fire hazard, but the moisture from the dryer was causing rust to form on the HVAC unit and it would void our warranty.  We have had the same HVAC company for all of our needs for the entire previous 25 years.  They have installed two complete, brand new units here.  The first after we'd been here only five years, because the one our homebuilder installed was worthless.  The second because after more than 20 years, the first one they installed wore out.  They have serviced our system at least twice a year for 25 years, and more often in years when there were problems.  Now I ask you, after 25 years of regularly being in the dirt part of our basement, why did it suddenly dawn on the repairman that the dryer vent was an issue?  These things baffle me.  However, yesterday I had an estimator come out and tell me how much it would costs to have the dryer vented to the outdoors.  When he gave me the estimate, and I approved the work, he said they would call me and let me know when someone could come out, as this type of work is considered filler work and they do it whenever they can get around to it.  I said "fine, but not tomorrow.  We have doctors appointments tomorrow and won't be home.  Any other day will be great."  The phone rang at 8:20 am this morning.  It was the HVAC contractor wanting to know if he could send his men out to fix my dryer vent.  Do I speak a foreign language?  It's like talking to my husband.  The man only hears what he wants to hear.  But rather than delay this nonsense any longer, I told him sure, send 'em on out.  Our doctors appointments aren't until this afternoon, and he promised it would take only about two hours to complete the work.  So I got dressed and the cute young men who got stuck with the dirty work showed up less than a half hour after the telephone call.  They went straight to work.  The dogs, who were unceremoniously tossed out into the backyard for the duration, barked endlessly.  The young men hammered and clanged and made horrible noises as they cut a hole through the brick foundation to the outside.   And, yes, they were finished in less than two hours.  But it only took ten minutes for all that noise to give me an incredible headache.  Now they are gone.  It is peaceful until Bud comes to pick me up to go to the doctors appointments.  I hope I get my head to quit trying to explode before he gets home.

But tomorrow will be another repairman nightmare.  Odd things happen in 30 year old houses.  The toilet in our main bathroom has decided to start sinking through the floor.  I am assuming there is or has been a water leak that weakened the floor supporting the toilet, but I really have no idea why this stupid thing is trying to drop through the floor.  I have a plumbing contractor coming tomorrow to solve the problem.  I'm really very concerned about this toilet as it is the one Bud uses most, and he is no lightweight.  I don't want to have to try to fish him out of the basement if the damn thing decides to go all the way through while he's reading.  So tomorrow the plumber will come.  He will tear up the entire floor in the bathroom, replace any weakened joists and flooring, reinstall the old toilet (it's 30 years old and uses a lot of water on the first flush which I love because those low-flow toilets need to be flushed more than once to get the desired result) and lay peel-and-stick tile back down in the bathroom.  He estimates this will take eight hours.  I'm thrilled!  Eight hours of knocking, banging, hammering, etc., and eight hours of dogs barking because once again they have been relegated to the backyard for the duration.

I sure hope nothing else goes kaflooey.  Well, that's a wasted wish.  In a 30 year old house, things just need to be repaired regularly and often.  Oh the things we poor stay-at-home people have to endure!  I may take up drinking again.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

And now a few words from my critic

Again, this will be short because my thumb, though better, still hurts when I hit the spacebar.  I've tried typing but using another digit to hit the spacebar, but as I've been typing for 50 years, using my right thumb on the spacebar is pretty much ingrained into my synapses.

Bud decided to read some more of my blog posts the other night and found it necessary to point out several salient points where I erred in my memory.  I, on the other hand, find these to be relatively insignificant, but for the sake of accuracy will make the appropriate corrections.  However, when I snidely suggested to him that quite possibly I should run all my posts through him prior to publishing, he quite seriously replied something to the effect that his memory was better than mine.  I'm not even gonna go there.  We'd just end up in an unwinnable argument, so let him have his moments of glory.  Here are the places where he found issues in my posts:

When he was driving to Baltimore in the rental truck as related in Is God trying to tell me something, it did not break down near South Hill, Virginia but managed to get all the way to near McKenney, Virginia (a distance of approximately some additional 32 miles).  Also, he did not catch a ride with a man he met at a gas station.  He hitched a ride on the highway and the kind man who picked him up drove him to a service station so he could call me.

In the story about Bud trying to cut off his toe which can be found here Second date, I said I thought it was his left big toe he tried to cut off, but, of course, it was his right.

And in this blog post Special Olympics wheelchair racing I mentioned that Bud brought a handpicked bouquet of spring flowers when he came to visit me in the hospital.  He said to me completely out of the blue as we were riding down the interstate just a few days ago, "I don't want to burst your bubble, but Grandmom handpicked those lilacs I brought to you in the hospital."  Burst my bubble?  This guy is too much.  I knew that.  I knew that the day he brought the flowers to me.  I said they were handpicked; I didn't say who picked them.  He is so cute sometimes.

And, if that's all he can find to complain about so far, I guess I'm doing pretty good.  I suppose I should be glad he wasn't around for the first 30 years of my life or I would be back revising my entire history.  I love this man!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dont bite the hand that feeds you

I know, I know.  This post is supposed to be about legs & wings & stones.    Well, once again that story is being postponed.  On Friday my husky bit me.  He didn't mean to bite me, but that doesn't really matter since the end result is that he did.  Georgia has developed this irritating habit of snapping at Logan (the husky) whenever I let him out the back door and hook him up to his lead.  I guess it's because she knows he can't get to her since I have a firm grip on his collar.  So she'll come up, take snaps at his neck and then back away really quickly.  She does not do this at any time when he is actually able to retaliate.  Anyway, on Friday, she was snapping at him and he decided he'd had enough and turned around to snap back.  Unfortunately, my right knee was directly in his line of fire, so that's what he bit.  Now I know my knees are made of titanium, and it would take more than Logan's "leave me alone" snap to break one, but the skin and veins and muscles and stuff are real and they still can be ripped to shreds.  It really hurt and I now have bruises on both sides of my knee where his teeth clamped around it.  Fortunately, no skin was broken, though I came damn close to breaking Georgia's nose when I turned around and smacked her (not really, just a small reprimand for acting like a fool).

Then on Saturday, we went to Tim and Ann's for Valentine's dinner.  They have two dogs.  One of those dogs is Buddy.  He is part Chow and Lord only knows what else.  He's furry and has short little legs so he is only about two feet tall.  Buddy has never been the friendliest dog in the world, but I've known him since he was a puppy and have never had an issue with him.  He usually won't let people touch him, but I've always been able to pet him and rub his stomach and stuff.  But, I've also always known he just isn't the nicest dog on the face of the planet.  Well Saturday night, Buddy has some fuzz hanging out of the side of his mouth.  Without thinking about who this dog really is, I reached down to pull it out of his mouth.  I missed on the first try, so like a dumbass, I went back for a second shot.  And that's when Buddy said don't be puttin' your fingers in my mouth, and took a nice hard bite outta my thumb on my right hand.  His tooth went through right at the base of my nail.  It is not really Buddy's fault.  Yes, it would be nice if he wasn't the type of dog to bite people, but I'm smarter than he is and I was the estubido who stuck her thumb in his mouth.  It is also ripped apart on the back side, since dog's have upper and lower teeth, but the bite did not go all the way through.  Still, it hurts.  It hurts a lot.  And I hope I learned a lesson.  But this is as far as I'm going today with typing and using my right thumb to hit the space bar.

So, here's my thumb:

Note to self: Do not put your fingers in the dog's mouth.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday night date night

Tonight we are going to our almost once a month date for Legs & Wings & Stones.  I have tried, unsuccessfully, to post about this event at least three times in the past.  It's kinda like Jimmy Buffett said in Manana, "Don't try to describe a KISS concert if you've never seen one."  Well, I've been to Legs & Wings & Stones many times (but no KISS concerts) and I still have an awful time trying to describe it.  I'm gonna do better.  I promise, after tonight I will somehow manage to convey the true essence of L&W&S.  It is one of those things in my life I do not ever want to learn to live without.  I hope I can do it justice.  But not today.  I'll try to get this written before the weekend is over.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why? Why? Why?

I am more than a little befuddled today and I don't have any reason to be this way.  I did not take any pain medication before going to bed last night, and even though it was snowing when I got up this morning, I did not take any pain medication then.  It is not snowing any longer.  I don't have a headache any longer.  I have not taken anything other than my standard prescription drugs to control my blood pressure, crazies, GERD and arthritis.  None of them affect my ability to mentally function, yet for some reason I am totally in a fog and unable to find my way out.   So bear with me; it may be more than normally absurd in here today.

And, speaking of snowing.  When Bud left town on Monday, I checked the long range forecast to see what type of weather he would experience in Baltimore and what type of weather I would have to endure here while he was gone.  The forecast claimed it would be clear in Baltimore for the entire week, and it would be cloudy here on Monday night, then clear through Wednesday, with snow on Thursday.  I wasn't too worried about it since Bud would be back Wednesday afternoon, so if it snowed on Thursday -- no big deal.  On Tuesday, I checked the forecast again, and it had, of course, changed.  By the way, I use the Weather Channel Desktop program to keep up with the weather, with my NOAA weather radio for severe weather warnings.  Anyway, by Tuesday our forecast was for clear skies throughout the week.  I checked again yesterday morning.  It still said clear skies throughout the week, but when I made the map show me the entire US, I could see snow to the west and headed in this direction.  Since it was coming from the west, it didn't really worry me as the snow that comes over the Appalachian Mountains usually doesn't amount to much.  I just figured it would snow itself out in the mountains and that's why they were forecasting clear skies for us.  Then about 3:00 PM yesterday afternoon my head started.  I tried to convince myself to ignore it since the forecast said nothing was coming our way, but my head will not be ignored once it starts one of it's low pressure fits.  I did not check the forecast again until about 6:20 PM when I heard the weather guy on the TV say something about precipitation, and would it be rain or snow.  Then I checked my little weather program again, and those dimwits had changed our forecast back to snow.  Well Hell, I already knew something was gonna happen because my head said so.  Maybe I should get a job as a weather forecaster.  I'd be a helluva lot more accurate than they seem to be.  Fortunately, it was only about an eighth of an inch and it's mostly gone already.

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered myself a Snuggie.  Since I'm here all day everyday unsupervised, I get up in the morning, wash my face, throw on a housedress (my favorites are tie-dyed granny dresses) or slacks and a shirt, comb my hair, drink two cups of coffee and eat seven white cheddar rice cakes, brush my teeth, make the bed, throw Bud out the door, and then I have the rest of the day to sit.  Sometimes I try to do things like laundry or pay bills (which I can do sitting at my laptop).  But my list of activities is severely limited and totally controlled by how much the activity is gonna make me want to give back my rice cakes.  So usually I do a lot of sitting.  Invariably, getting dressed in the morning does not include a bra (since no one will see me) or socks.  It's winter.  Sometimes my feet get cold.  So I got myself a Snuggie so I could sit and wear it when my feet get cold to keep from having to find some socks to wear.  However, I will point out that my sister, Cathy, got me some outstanding socks for Christmas.  They are very warm, and even better than that, they are tie-dyed and very colorful.  She also got me a nice pair of warm, fuzzy cream colored socks, which I really like too, however I just really get off on colorful stuff.  But I save my socks to wear for those rare occasions when I get to go out somewhere, at which time I also wear a bra.  Anyway, the Snuggie I got was a very bold kinda royal blue.  Blue is Bud's favorite color and as soon as he saw the Snuggie he wanted it.  I had to order another one for me so I ordered green, as that's my favorite color and I ordered a regal purple one for in the van.  The Snuggies came today.  Will someone please explain to me why my postman put my mail (letters, junk mail, flyers, etc.) in my mailbox out by the road at the end of my 60' driveway, then drove all the way up the driveway to my house to deliver the package of Snuggies and a book I had ordered?  I realize he couldn't fit the box with the Snuggies in my mailbox, even though it is a large mailbox since we are on a rural delivery route.  He could have put the book in the mailbox, but he didn't because he knew he was gonna bring the box up to my porch so he figured he'd just bring the book too.  WELL WHY DIDN'T HE JUST BRING ALL THE MAIL?  Does it really make any sense that I now have to put on shoes and walk 60' down my driveway to pick up a bunch of junk he could have just given to me while he was here?  Am I missing something here?

And to end today's pointless ramble, I just learned something new.  I am always interested in learning new things.  I hope I never lose my fascination with knowledge.  However, somethings are a bit more useful than other things you might pick up all in a day.  Today I learned what moose knuckles are.  I had not ever heard the term before and one of my Facebook friends used it.  The context of his posting made me realize it was gonna be something shall we say naughty.  But, when I googled it, I nearly fell out of my chair laughing, and then there were pictures.  That only made it worse.  If you don't know about moose knuckles, you are going to have google it for yourself.  I am so infantile and easily amused sometimes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reality ... what a concept!

As I've mentioned before, I rarely watch television.  However, I don't live in a cave either, so I know what started with shows like Survivor has turned into a plethora of reality shows covering subjects from everyday boredom to stuff no one with a shred of common decency would discuss in public.  I have recently browsed a list of reality series.  Some of them astound, even me, and I'm pretty hard to overwhelm.  So, just for grins and giggles here are a few shows and a few of my thoughts on them:

Addicted:  TLC has announced it has ordered Addicted, a new Intervention-like docu-reality series that will follow individuals as they struggle with substance abuse before receiving help from an interventionist.

So I'm supposed to turn on my television and watch from the comfort of my living room the same "struggle" I can see anytime of the day or night if I just take a ride to certain parts of downtown Greensboro, or any other city for that matter.  I'd be much more likely to watch a show about how some of these people turned out AFTER intervention.

Brat Camp:  ABC tracked the progress of nine troubled young people -- including Jada Chabot, 16, and Isaiah Alarcon, 17 -- as they spent 50 days at the SageWalk Wilderness Therapy Camp in Oregon. Filming ended in January and show is airing weekly on Wednesday night.  Although it does not reveal how the participants turned out after the program, at least two have been arrested in recent weeks, E! Online said Monday.

These are not brats; these are not even juvenile delinquents.  These kids are criminals.  Four "brats" just like these broke into my home several years back and that's why we had to install a burglar alarm system.  Again, obviously, I don't need TV to see this type of action.  And it appears not everyone turns out so well after intervention.

Downfall:  ABC has announced Downfall, a new game show that will have contestants answering questions atop a Los Angeles high-rise for the chance to win $1 million in cash and prizes, will premiere Tuesday, June 22 at 9PM ET/PT.  Each Downfall episode will feature contestants trying to quickly answer a series of trivia questions over the course of seven timed rounds. In addition, facsimiles of all the prizes will be placed on a large conveyor belt with a pile of cash at the end ranging from $5,000 to $1 million. Once the cash goes over the edge of the building, the contestant is eliminated and the game is over. In each round, the contestants will try to answer the questions before their prizes and cash go over the edge of the 10-story building, causing them to crash 100 feet onto the street. 

I used to enjoy Trivial Pursuit, especially when we played in teams because Sports and Geography are my weaknesses.  And, I have been known to watch Jeopardy.  Actually, I'm best at Wheel of Fortune because I'm dyslexic and I always see words with letters missing or in the wrong place or upside down, so I am constantly trying to make sense out of even the simplest of words and phrases.  But, I have a little difficulty believing these people are dropping prizes and money off the top of a 10-story building in Los Angeles.  There would be such a mob of people down on the street trying to catch that stuff, and that's probably where I'd be, because I damn sure am not gonna be in front of a television watching this tripe.

Jingles:  CBS has announced the host and judges for Jingles, with former American Idol second-season finalist Kimberly Caldwell helming the new Mark Burnett-created reality series and Gene Simmons leading the advisory panel that will critique contestants who concoct commercial ditties for real products.

At least this might explain some of the insipid crap we hear these days.  Who was the Einstein who thought Gene Simmons would be the perfect person to lead an advisory panel, ANY advisory panel?  Come on!  Gene Simmons?  The guy from KISS?  Well, at least it's not a panel on how to dress for an interview.

Worst Cooks in America:  Food Network has announced Worst Cooks in America, a new culinary competition series that will pit hapless chefs against each other for the chance to win $25,000, will premiere Sunday, January 3 at 10PM ET/PT. 

Actually, I love this show.  I usually only get to see parts of it as Bud surfs through all the cable networks, but he watches a lot of stuff on the Food Network, so he'll stop here often just to see what's going on.  These people are unbelievable.  I don't even have a kitchen pass and I can cook better than any one of these contestants.  They taste their sauces and then put the used spoon back in the cookpot.  They play with their hair and then keep on going without washing their hands.  That might be okay in your own home (and even then it really depends on the circumstances), but not when you're competing and the judges are professional chefs.  This was actually a good idea for something humorous on the Food Network since most of their shows are pretty much serious.

There were many hundreds of shows on the list I was perusing.   I just randomly picked a few.

I guess it's true at least some of the human race is voyeuristic.  My best friend, who I consider to be smarter than the average bear, watches Jerry Springer.  I cannot even begin to imagine what would possess anyone to appear on that show.  Even if I were shtupping both my brothers, my brothers-in-law and my husband's best friend, I would not get on national television and tell the world about it while my husband stands backstage awaiting his opportunity to confront me and the aforementioned five gentlemen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Reconciliation, bah humbug

Over the past 62+ years of my life, I have managed to offend one or two people along the way.  No, really!  I see how you might think it inconceivable that I could be contrary, but in fact, I have been downright nasty on more than one occasion.

In spite of the fact that I have a smartass mouth, and am prone to witty little quips that are often sugar coated barbs, I seldom deliberately set out to offend most people.  Usually, if I don't like you, you know it.  Not because I told you what a blot you are on the earth.  You know it because I don't acknowledge your existence.  No one likes everyone.  I try to like everyone when we first meet, but I have to admit I'm an intellectual snob and if you open your mouth and stupid falls out, well I'm probably already looking for a way to get away.  I define stupidity as the ability to learn but the unwillingness to do so.  Ignorance, in my belief, can be cured by eduction (whether scholastic or in life).  Stupidity is terminal.

Yet, over the years I've managed to alienate a few reasonably intelligent people.  One such person is the girl/woman who was my best friend throughout all of high school and into our early adulthood.  We actually remained friends, though not nearly as close, well into middle age.  In high school, we were an odd couple.  Everyone thought she would go to college and have a career, and I would get married right away and have a dozen or so snot-nosed kids.  Well, she got married a week before she graduated from high school.  She worked for awhile.  But then she started having children and became a stay-at-home mom until her marriage went to Hell and she was forced to go back to work.  I got engaged about 18 months after I graduated from high school, but that all came to a screeching halt when the imbecile shot himself.  Then I joined the Navy, saw the east coast of the USA, got married, got unmarried, saw some more of the east coast of the USA and made a place for myself in the world of business.  No children, snot-nosed or otherwise.  So my friend and I found ourselves on very different paths, and soon all we had in common was our memories.  That sustained us for awhile, but I've never been much for holding on to the past.  My friend, on the other hand, could not let go of the past. She remained bitter about her divorce and she became bitter about others successfully finding a little piece of happiness.  I guess I got tired of her whining and her superior attitude and her refusal to listen to any suggestion regarding how she might make her situation more pleasant.  So one day I wrote her one of those emails you always want to write, but never intend to send.  Except I sent it.  And I do not regret it.  Needless to say, she was thoroughly pissed off, and her response was hot enough to burn up those little electrons that pass through your computer.  I still don't regret telling her how I felt, though I suppose I could have been a bit more diplomatic.  Still, after so many years of knowing each other, she should have known the only thing I know about diplomacy is how to spell it.  I left the situation completely broken for a number of years.  But then I decided to attempt a reconciliation of some sort.  Nothing major; I just sent her an eCard on her birthday.  I've done this for several years now, and received zero responses.  Her birthday is tomorrow.  I think I'll just let sleeping dogs lie.  She has no role in my life, and she hasn't had for many years.  I'm gonna give up and leave her to stew in her own venom.

Then there's this guy.  We used to work together, though he would tell you I worked for him.  I never did see it that way.  His position on the ladder was higher than mine, but the person I worked for was even further up the ladder.  Still he was smart, and quick-witted, and clever, and funny, and we got along extremely well.  Until things got a little bumpy in my real life.  I always made a huge effort to keep my home life and my work life completely separate, but sometimes that isn't the easiest thing to do.  I might not have been as sparkling or as easily amused as I normally would have been.  I might have been a little more easily hurt by the verbal jabs and sparring.  I might have retaliated a little more vehemently than I would have under different circumstances.  But I was still surprised when his reaction was a complete turnaround.  He went from being my staunchest ally to being my harshest critic in one swell foop.  It's been a few years now since we worked together, and I don't work any where any longer.  I found him on Facebook and sent a friend request; my way of offering a truce.  It was ignored.  Okay.  I can deal with that.  Several months later I sent a short email asking how he was doing and telling him briefly about my health issues.  No response.  I think I'll skip the third time.  Some people say the third time is the charm, and that certainly proved true with my marital status.  However, others say three strikes and you're out.  I think I'll just stand at the plate and let the ball pass me by.  I'll take that third strike looking.  This guy is a sure case of no reconciliation.

Two outta two; not bad.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What constitutes immediate family?

immediate family


Spouse, parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren, brothers and sisters, mother-in-law and father-in-law, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, daughters-in-law and sons-in-law. Adopted and step members are also included in immediate family. 

I just said goodbye to Bud and packed him off to the airport.  He is on his way to Baltimore because his brother's wife's father died.  No Dave Hoff does not qualify as immediate family for me or for Bud, but he certainly qualifies as extended family.  Mike Masek and Andee Hoff were married in August of the same year Bud and I married in January.  Bud and Mike didn't have much of a home life, so they considered each other to be the only family they had.  Mike was thrilled to accept Dave and Leda Hoff as his in-laws.  Over the years, when we would visit with Mike and Andee, those visits often included Dave and Leda.  Bud and I grew to love them the same as if they had actually been our family.  In August of 2009, we all visited Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for a "family" vacation, because Dave had been diagnosed with cancer and no one was sure exactly how much longer he would be with us.  We are all thankful for the year and a half extra time we got with him.  But yesterday it was time for Dave to move on.

Bud will be flying to Baltimore and I can't fly.  We could drive up, but as I tend to suffer panic attacks when exposed to noise, confusion or emotional influences, it is probably best if I just stay here in North Carolina so I don't cause additional problems for everyone else.  I'm sorry I won't be there, but Andee knows how I feel, and she knows I'm sending in my A-Team to support her.  Bud's the perfect shoulder to cry on, and the perfect guy to hold you up when your knees are weak and your spirit's broken.  And, I'll be there in spirit (though mine's a bit bent, spindled and mutilated too).

So today, I dedicate my blog to Dave Hoff: husband, father, friend.  You will be missed by so many.

Friday, February 4, 2011


It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

One of my favorite websites is Despair, Inc.  They are the creators of Demotivator products.  You can visit them here: Despair, Inc..  Whenever I need a good laugh, I go visit this site.  It helps me put things in perspective.

We are having rain/sleet/freezing rain today.  I'm cold, I'm miserable and my head hurts (of course).  Doncha just get so tired of hearing about my stupid head?

I made myself cry (a lot) yesterday posting all those oldie songs and thinking back on some of those memories.  Guess that was a kinda stupid thing to do.  So in the middle of my sobfest, Bud's doctor's office calls to tell me they need to speak with him immediately about the results of his bloodwork.  Bud was at a Dark Star Orchestra concert and I knew there was no way he would have his cell phone on him, so I just told them they'd have to wait until today.  I really get pissed off with this HIPAA crap.  I know they're trying to avoid giving out personal information to people who should have no reason to know it, but I'm his spouse for Pete's sake.  I guess some people hide things from their spouse, but that's not how we run our marriage.  Bud knows everything about me because I sure would hate for something in my past to show up and bite me in the ass because I forgot to mention it to him.

Anyway, he called his doc this morning, and we still don't know much about what's going on.  He is scheduled to see a hematologist early next week and I guess we'll get more answers then.  I've sent off an email to Cathy (my sister the doctor who I invariably refer to as my doctor the sister, causing people to look at me like I've lost another brick off my already short load).  Just one more thing to worry over.  I seriously worry about Bud's health because he has numerous health problems related to his obesity.  My life is so screwed up now with this SCDS stuff that I would be way up the creek without a paddle if anything were to happen to Bud.  I truly need a keeper.  I've always said Bud was a keeper, but that isn't exactly what I meant.  Well, we'll sweat out the weekend and wait for more tests hopefully on Monday.  Bud will be busy all weekend with his Wildlife Club and then the Super Bowl party at Temple Emmanuel, so I'll get to sit here alone most of the time and make mountains out of molehills.  The weather will be messy all day today and most of tomorrow, so maybe I'll just drug myself into oblivion until Sunday.  That'll take care of at least 2/3 of the worry time.

Have a great weekend to all my devoted followers (I think there are 11 of you now).  I'll try to quit being my own worst enemy and write something upbeat on Monday.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Some songs take you back...

... back to an exact time in your history.

I clicked on a link in Facebook today and it played a song from an upload on YouTube. The song was Unchained Melody by Bobby Hatfield of the Righteous Brothers. I was immediately transported to being 17 years old again and the Vietnam War was going full tilt. I had a boyfriend who was killed in Vietnam. He wasn't my boyfriend when he was killed because I was 17, and I was fickle. I didn't wait for him. Did that make it hurt any less. No, I think it made it hurt more. I'm not silly enough to believe he would have lived if I hadn't broken up with him, but the next few years of knowing many people who lived through and who died in Vietnam made me much more aware of how lonely and deserted the guys who served in-country felt. This song always makes me cry.

Another song  instantly takes me back to a Pink Floyd concert at Carter-Finley Stadium on the campus of North Carolina State University.  We were young (well relatively young) and we were drinkin', and smokin' and may have consumed a pharmaceutical or two.  We were having a good time.  We were invincible.  For the sake of conversation, I've pared down my vices considerably in the last 30 years or so.  The only way I could attend a Pink Floyd concert now is virtually.  But this is one of my favorites.

This next song  takes me right back to when we first moved from Maryland to North Carolina.  It was on the radio all the time.  This version was recorded at a fund raising concert in New York right after 9-11, but the original came out in the late 1970's.  This is not the best version by "The Ugliest Guys in Rock" but at least it does show why Jagger is so skinny.

I'm obviously not having my memories in any particular order today.  This song takes me back to high school.  I was such a drama queen.  Talk about hormonal teenagers!  Geez.  I had a lock on moody.  And Roy Orbison was my idol.  I could sit in my room and play my Orbison 45's and LP's and just cry and cry.  Maybe because he made so many songs about crying.  Roy Orbison had tremendous vocal range and several people have suggested it was as much as three or four octaves.  I don't know, but the end of this song sends chills up my spine.  Catch Bruce Springsteen's face at 2:20.

And how could I leave out my favorite group of all time.  This is when I fell in love with Justin Hayward, and it's an unrequited love to this day.  This song is probably their most famous, but I have virtually every song they have ever recorded.  This song immediately transports me to having just graduated from high school and trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life.

This song was actually recorded in 1959, before we moved to New Jersey.  I was 11 years old and thought I was so grown up.  These brothers had the most amazing vocal harmonies I have ever heard, even to this day.  They had so many songs I loved, it was hard to pick just one.  But every time I hear the Everly Brothers, I am transported to  a simpler time in my life.

My last song is from another duo who did some incredible harmonizing.  I loved all of their music when they were together.  I never cared much for either when they soloed (with a few exceptions).  My brother Joe died in early January a few years back .  Joe was very special to me.  As a Christmas present to him just before he became ill, we took him and his wife, Martha, to a Simon & Garfunkel concert in Atlanta.  The Everly Brothers were on the bill too.  Joe and I sat next to each other through the entire concert and sang every word to every song.  That is one of my most precious memories, and so Joe, I dedicate this song to you (though it's only Art).  I miss you so much.