Sunday, December 16, 2007

Decision made....

I've come to a decision regarding the house. I did look at others, both online and in person. The in person looks were for new construction. I looked at floor plans similar to mine as well as townhomes. I like the idea of a townhome, especially since the one I saw was geared more toward working professionals than families. The size wasn't bad, but by the time you account for stairs, and other layout features, the builders had sacrificed in the kitchen. Nice kitchens, just small. I'd prefer a bit more room in the kitchen since I like to bake and I'm trying to cook more.

The look sees were to help me determine what to do. What I decided to do was stay where I am... commit to this house. May sound strange, but given the current housing market and the fact that new homes are still available in my neighborhood, I don't think it would be all that easy to sell my house, especially with the problems I have right now. The only way that would work well for me would be if the builder bought it back and I don't see that happening. So, I'm staying put.

The builder is responsible for everything that is happening. Many neighbors have problems with their driveways, but most of their problems have occurred at the joints, where mine is cracked across the middle. The builder did send out an Engineer last Monday, after I stated in an e-mail that I was considering it. Actually, I think it was a technician and he had the personality of a limp dishrag. His demeanor reeked of "I've got better things to do than be at a new house determining if it's moving, but we have to accommodate the flaky female." He would have done the whole thing without talking to me if he could have. He only did a cursory look of the problems in the house. I pointed out the cracks in the brick of the house, but I'm guessing his "inspection" of the rest of the house was as lackadaisical as his "inspection" of the interior of the house. I asked his thoughts. He didn't have any. He said the sloping by the house was good. I just looked at him. He then said the sides did have some problems. His final statement. He'd take the numbers back to the office and someone (the way he phrased it, it's not him) would put them in the computer and then they'd know. The report should be to me this coming week. I won't be surprised if they say, nope, not a problem. And, then I'll probably have to go get another engineer, one that I pay, not the builder. We got more rain this past week. Several days worth and on Friday night it came down hard. As you can guess, the sides of my house are really soggy, I can see more seams showing up in the ceiling, one crack is wider, and one seam has now cracked. I'm not sure I want the builder to do the repairs as I feel some of them are due to poor workmanship. My alternative though, is to pay for it myself and I don't think I should have to do that. I'm really trying to hold out though until the cause of the shifting is complete, otherwise, I'll be repairing every six to eight months or so or figuring how large a crack I can live with while the house settles.

And, to firm up my commitment to the house, I celebrated my birthday by buying new furniture! Yep, three new pieces coming at the beginning of January. I got a new TV credenza (which should be much better suited for the size of the tv I got last year), a new coffee table (I've had my current one for almost 18 years and it was given to me, meaning it was old when I got it), and a buffet for the dining area. The buffet was the one piece I didn't think I wanted, but it's the one I'm the most psyched about. What storage it has! Of course, this means, I have to de-clutter some spaces, so that's what I'll be doing over my Christmas break. We have a week and half off, so after traveling to Louisiana for Christmas, I'll hunker down and organize my house in preparation for my new furniture. I'm also trying to program in time to visit with friends as well. Definitely looking forward to the time off.

And, for a kitty cat update. I finally got freaked enough about her and the bald spot she created that on my last visit to the vet I got a diffuser for Feliway. It's a hormone based product that is supposed to sooth stressed kitties. I call it kitty aromatherapy. I had no expectations, but was getting desperate. I think it's working! It appears she's getting fur in her bald spot and she's much more her "old" self. She's not hiding in her chair under the dining room table. She comes into the kitchen with me in the morning, follows me at night. And, last night, for the first time in almost a year, she helped me change the sheets on the bed. The Feliway isn't cheap, but if it works, I'll stick with it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Never take anything for granted...

We all know this. But, sometimes we're reminded in ways we'd rather not be. This past Wednesday, I learned that a friend and former co-worker's son had been killed in a car accident. When my dad died, planning his funeral was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I can't imagine having to plan your child's funeral. Nor can I imagine how hard it will be to celebrate Christmas this year and in future years without him. We naturally expect to outlive our parents, but the sudden death of anyone, especially your child, is particularly hard; unimaginable as a friend said. He had a wife and three small children. We know God has a plan, but when things like this happen, it's hard to see that plan and we never truly understand it. And nothing anyone can say or do will make the hurt go away. A hurt I know will be with them for the rest of their lives.

This time of year, we naturally think about the excitement - Santa Claus, gifts for family and friends,decorating the tree, church activities... This year, I'm reminded that while most of us are celebrating, many families will be struggling with loss. And, there is a strange twist in all this for me - he has the same birthday as my brother (though a different year) and will be buried on my birthday.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's Heaving!

What is heaving, you ask. My house! In case anyone has wondered what I've been doing for the past month (obviously not blogging), I've been trying to figure what was going on with my house. There was trip to a conference in South Carolina thrown in there, but this has taken up a good deal of my time.

And, the answer is the house is heaving. Currently, the four outer corners of the house are higher than the inside. As mentioned in previous posts, I've had some issues with the house. When ceiling cracks kept popping up and then seams started showing up in the ceiling (where the sheetrock panels meet), I figured it was more than normal settling. Have I mentioned the driveway? It's got a crack in it big enough to stand a small pole up in and it's not level. So, I took a walk around the house and looked closely. You guessed it. I've got cracks in the brick on two sides of the house. I've also popped two corner caps, but everyone says that happens and it doesn't affect anything it just looks terrible.

Given the fact that my one year warranty from the builder is approaching the end, I decided to have the house inspected. What an eye opener. Yes, I know they tend to go overboard, but even keeping that in mind it was still a little unsettling. The first house I owned was also new and I never had any problems with it. Certainly not to the extent that I got a home inspector out there. And, when I sold it six years later, the inspector basically found nothing.

So, what did my home inspector say/find? Well, the number of cracks I have and the number of seams showing up are NOT normal (ya think?). They are signs that the foundation is shifting. He said he has never seen a driveway as bad as mine, even on 30 year old homes. The drainage sucks, but I knew that and have been trying to tell the builder that for some time. They made a half hearted attempt to fix it, but it didn't do anything. Let's just say I'm really soggy on both sides of my house.

According to the home inspector - the gutters are installed wrong, the roof was put on wrong (and there are raised nails on a portion of the roof allowing shingles to flap in the breeze), and one of the post tension cables from the foundation was never cut and sealed (you can actually trip over it) and another wasn't sealed properly after it was cut (the builder didn't this was a big deal, but the home inspector did, so I'm not sure what to think). Those are the biggies; there were some other smaller issues.

The next step was to have a foundation company come and look. He's the one who determined it's heaving. Basically, it was built during a drought and then we got a LOT of rain. Add poor drainage to the mixture and you get a house that moves. It's not going to fall down around my knees, but I can expect cracks and other things to continue to happen until the house "settles" - in about 5-8 years. I also think some of my problems are due to poor craftsmanship. The builder is a good one. The only thing I can figure is they did a lot of the work on my house on a Friday afternoon.

Needless to say, I'm not a real happy camper. My first house was a breeze; that's why I bought new again. You don't expect these types of problems with a new house. I've requested the builder pony up for repairing cracks, etc in the house for an extended time. Not sure what they are going to do. Not sure what I'm going to do. I expect there will be movement again as we head into winter. Question is - do I want to commit to the aggravation of cracks and other fun stuff or do I want to bail? I just don't know right now. If anyone has any thoughts on the subject, please share. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Trees and other good stuff....

A week ago this past Saturday, I went tree shopping. I had a goal - a Little Gem Magnolia for my backyard. My friend LH went with me. The first nursery, which I had such high hopes for, was a dud. So, we toodled to Home Depot. Great sale price for a nice looking tree. Didn't include delivery or someone to plant it (it was about a 22-24 gallon tree; no way was I planting it, at least not properly). We heard a guy talking on the phone and he sounded like he would be the person to talk to about who to contact to get a tree planted. So we did. Very nice guy. Brother-in-law does landscaping on the side. His advice was that the trees look great, but people have had problems with them. He recommended a tree farm. We had a couple of hours till they closed, so we went. What a fun place! I like plant nurseries anyway, but this was bunches of trees in one place. Plus some yard art. Just lots of fun. The did have Little Gem's. They were a bit higher, but about the same size tree and their price included delivery, planting, mulching, and staking. Well worth it!

And, yesterday it was planted. My little backyard just seems complete. Of course, the two added bird feeders, bird bath, and twirly thingy help also. I added those on Saturday. Still waiting for the birds to discover us. Now the backyard doesn't look so empty.

The other good news is something that was expected, but came early. The same Saturday, I bought the tree, I got what I thought was my monthly car statement from Toyota. I opened it to find that it was the title to my car! My loan is paid off and I am now the total owner of my car. Woo hoo! Now, I can start putting that money in the property tax fund. Ahh, the joys of home ownership.

Friday, September 28, 2007

7 Random Facts...

A fellow blogger got tagged for seven random facts. She didn't exactly tag me, but I was curious to know if I could come up with seven random facts. Here they are:

1. I have literally moved cross country twice and made four major moves (to different states) in eight years.
2. I have lived in six different states.
3. I attended the 1986 World's Fair in Vancouver.
4. My current profession is my 3rd profession - I started out working for the Air Force (Civil Service) and then worked in the software industry.
5. I spent my childhood spending the week in the city and the weekends on my family's farm (complete with cows and gardens)
6. Sherlock Holmes remains my favorite detective
7. I rarely vacation, but have been to Mexico and Germany. Would love to visit Scotland and Ireland.

Well, there they are. I did come up with seven. If you see this and are of a mind, consider yourself tagged.

On an ending note, we rarely see anything about the World's Fair anymore, so I did some checking. Wound up in Wikipedia, of course, and found that the last one was in 2005 in Aichi, Japan. The organization that handles it is the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE). For the 21st century they moved to sanction expos every 5 years. In 2001, the US withdrew it's membership from the BIE. The US Pavilion at the 2005 expo was privately funded. Participation in the BIE is funded by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Complete Wikipedia article on World Expo's is here:'s_Fair#USA_membership

Sunday, September 23, 2007

If it's not one thing, it's something else....

Well, about two weeks ago, on a Friday night, I got in my car to head home after an evening out, and it was a little rough on the start up. I was a little concerned, but I made it home okay. Saturday, same thing. Now, I'm thinking about what could it be. And, then it hit me. The battery. The car is almost 4 years old, which means so is the battery. Sigh. I thought I'd wait until the following weekend to get it replaced, but after crossing my fingers and hoping it would start Sunday and Monday mornings, I realized that I needed to get it taken care of. I didn't want to go out to my car somewhere and have it not start. And, it was raining that Monday, so that wouldn't have been any good either. I took a couple of hours of comp time that afternoon and headed to Sears to get a new battery. Not as nice as going to a smaller business, but they are known for their batteries. Check that off the list.

That was Monday. That Friday was the day my cubicle was going to get installed. I've been there nine months, but at least I was finally getting it (I was in an open workstation; the other professionals in my department all have cubicles). We thought it would be in the morning. They started assembling in the afternoon around 2:00. To make a long story short, we had to move power poles we weren't expecting to, had to have a power whip installed for my cubicle (the original game plan was to use power strips from the outlet, but they would have been blocked by the partition wall, which is not a good thing), and move phone and data lines from where workstations were to where they were moved. Naturally, until this was done, we weren't working. In addition, the office designers ordered the wrong color overhead bin for me and a different colored wood (lighter). We all like the wood, so I get to keep it and be different, but the overhead needs to match the trim and everyone else's. We were first told a new one would be ordered. Friday, we were told the one I have would be painted. I had them install what we have because I need the lights underneath it. I may have gained a cubicle, but I've given up natural light coming into my workspace. It wasn't all wrapped up until the last Monday and I still am not sure what will happen with the overhead bin, but, in the grand scheme of things, given what we weren't aware of that we had to do, that really isn't too bad.

Then last week, I noticed that Kitty cat had sores in her bald spot, which does appear to have more fur. I probably contributed to that by using the spray the first vet gave me, but nonetheless I needed to get her to the vet to make sure it wasn't anything horrible. I did that on Friday. Bye bye to the last of my comp time. It wasn't anything horrible.

Then to top it off, yesterday I stopped by Origins and the Clinique counter only to discover both had discontinued the products I was wanting. And, neither sales person was overly friendly either. Nope, sorry don't have it. Especially, the sales person at Clinique. So much for the new Clinique. She didn't even know what I was talking about, made me feel like I was making it up, and kind of waived her hand at what they had and said this it what we have. I was so turned off by both sales persons that I doubt I'll look for replacement products from either brand. Origins does have a product I've used in the past that would be closest, but I liked the one they discontinued the best. However, by both of them not having what I wanted, I didn't spend any money.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Well, I posted recently about being re-energized for exercise. Which is true. And, even with the leg keeping me out of the exercise game for a week, I find I am still very motivated. Not only am I working out more, I'm trying to improve/hone the exercise routine and do more yoga.

The major improvement is I switched my gym membership to a new gym closer to my house (same club). Their equipment is the latest and they have weight machines by Hoist which involve the core as well as the muscle group being used. They're pretty cool. A big change, which is working nicely in the first couple of weeks, is that I do all my strength training at one time, rather than alternating days for arms and legs. This has cut down on the number of days I have to go to the gym (a major de-motivator for me as I hate packing the gym bag) and is giving me more nights to do yoga. And, this gym's pool (a salt water one) is not in plain view of the front door. I'm hoping to incorporate swimming once a week into the routine (start of this is dependent on when I get a swimsuit suitable for lap swimming).

In addition to this, about a month ago I got on the scales. Gasp! I knew why I felt like a beached whale - I was carrying around the weight of a whale! I checked out several options and finally decided on a free website called SparkPeople (SP). It's been 3 weeks now and I've lost seven pounds. So, I'm pleased. To put it in perspective though, I lost around 25 pounds about five years ago and kept it off for several years. Between Arkansas, the return move to Texas, and the loss of motivation to exercise these past few months, I gained all of it back and then some.

The SparkPeople site is aimed at helping you develop better, healthier eating habits. It also involves tracking what you eat, which in the past has not worked for me. Maybe it's because this is online or because it shows where the calories are coming from (fat, carbs, protein) and where you are falling in the recommended range. I'm a sucker for statistics. So far, no problems with the tracker or staying within my calorie range.

SP also has a fitness tracker, so I'll be moving a lot of my exercise chat to the SP site, but will post little updates here on occasion.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Not my week....

Just when you think things are picking up, something always happens. For me, it's been muscle spasms and then some. About two weeks ago, I twisted wrong or something after I got home and my back wasn't happy. I figured low key muscle spasms, so I took Advil and took it easy. It worked, by Sunday, the back was fine. Then, Monday, it moved to my leg. Practically in the middle of the day. I'm re-energized for the exercise thing (more on that to come), but try to do yoga on Mondays as that is a busy day at the gym. Well, the DVD player wouldn't work. I finally did a bit in the study using the computer's DVD player, but the room really isn't quite together yet and I did not enjoy doing in there. Tuesday, the leg was still bothering me, but I went to the gym. I rode the bike and did arms, plus stretching. I was kind of hoping that the exercise would help. Ummm... it didn't. By the time I went to bed, I was in pain. Throbbing kind of pain. Then to top it off, something blew the circuit breaker in the master bedroom. I tried all kinds of ways to get it back and couldn't. Aargh! Finally, I just went to bed.

Next morning the leg wasn't any better. If fact, it was worse. Just standing was a problem. I did go into the office, but decided that as soon as I could see the doctor, I was out of there. Fortunately, I got in at 11:30. Diagnosis - severe muscle spasms. She gave me muscle relaxers and pain medicine (which I haven't used). Getting the Rx filled was exhausting as by this time my leg just hurt all the time and was much worse when standing. I finally made it home. Called the electrician and he was here in like five minutes (I'd talked with the builder in the morning). I felt so stupid. It was the circuit breaker, but he got it on where I couldn't. They said that they are just really sensitive and there is a process for getting it back on. Apparently, I didn't do it right. They also checked the outlets in the bedroom just in case. Shortly after I moved in the same thing happened in the guest bedroom. I've never had circuits this sensitive before and think it might be a tad of overkill. After the electrician left, I ate some lunch and crashed.

I thought the leg was better yesterday, but by the time I got home it was almost worse again. I tried heat, but that didn't really help. I was off today (comp time from being on a Search committee at work, something I will never do again). I had plans, but the leg was still not good, so I took it easy most of the day.

I hoping that by Monday it's better. I'm really missing exercising, but the Doctor advised against it until the leg is better. And, it's probably what made it worse to begin with. I guess I'm learning patience.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Shortly after moving to AR, I left my keys (house and car) in the ladies room of a coffee shop on the River Market. Unfortunately, I didn't realize this until I was ready to leave. Friends, TW and spouse, and I had had a nice dinner and we wrapping up our first trip to the River Market. By this time, the coffee shop was closed. So, we asked for and received help from the police, who contacted the maintenance man, who did come and let us in. Alas, a good Samaritan had turned them into the office. Fortunately, TW still had my house key from kitty sitting and they were kind enough to drive me to my house (about a 45 minute trek) so I could get a spare car key and then take me back to my car. I thought I had a spare car key in my wallet, but I didn't. I do now. The following Monday, TW called and they did have my key, which she kindly picked up for me that day.

You'd think I'd learn from that experience. I thought I did - I'm extra vigilant about my keys. I thought that extended to my office key. Well, last Tuesday I arrived at work and couldn't find my door key. I assumed I'd left it on my desk as I did a lot of running around on Monday. Not on my desk. I started getting paranoid. Losing a work key can be expensive. Went home that night and checked pants pockets from the day before. Nothing. Got to work the next day and cleaned off my desk in a desperate attempt to find the key I was sure had to be there. It wasn't. That left one of two things - either I lost it in the parking lot or I threw it away (don't laugh, it had been a long day and I figured I could just have easily put in the trash rather than my lunch cooler). I did decide not to report it lost for awhile, in case it showed up. Sometimes, I do the weirdest things with something and then can't find it, only to have it show a couple of weeks later in the bizarre place I put it. I was hoping this would be the case.

I didn't have long to wait. Later that morning, the Police department called. Another good Samaritan had found my key in the parking lot and turned it in to the Police. The Police were able to check with the key folks and find out who the key belonged to. Then they called me. Talk about relief. The key ring is a large metal carabiner; I would have sworn that I would have heard it drop, but apparently I didn't.

So, I've been in the new job less than a year and I know where the campus police department is located. But, I have my key back and for that I'm terribly grateful. And, now, maybe a bit paranoid.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The joy of health plans...

Yesterday, I finally decided to get a prescription refilled. It's a cream for my face which does seem to help (I'm not blessed with really good skin). So, I called it in to my friendly Target Pharmacy. I ran some errands and then headed to pick it up. It wasn't ready yet, because my previous insurance had been canceled. That's okay, I gave them my new insurance card from current job. A few minutes later it was in the system, with only one little hiccup. It seems that with the new insurance my co-pay for this particular prescription is $75. You are not misreading. $75. I was shocked. The folks at the Target pharmacy are awesome. They, of course, know this is a lot of money, so they ask you if you still want it. This one I have to think about. They'll hold until the 8/13 which is when the prescription expires.

At my previous job I thought is was horrible that the insurance company had to approve the prescription before I could get it. It takes about three days, but they did and I got a lovely letter telling me it had been approved for a year. Personally, I don't think the insurance company should have the ability to disapprove a prescription, but they apparently do. Nonetheless, it was approved. My co-pay was $35. I thought it wasn't great, but it wasn't outrageous. Now it appears I don't need approval, but it's $40 more. The cost without a drug plan is right at $130, so there is a $55 savings. But, $75 is still a lot of money for a prescription. At my new job, the employee premium for insurance is paid by the employer. Well, they are apparently making it up in other ways. I find myself again wondering if drug plans are really a good thing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I have a project I'm working on and have told myself I will devote a minimum of 3 hours a week to it. This is in addition to my job and exercise (more later on exercise). So, yesterday I left work on time and got home with enough time for a few minutes rest with the kitty before hunkering down to work on said project. I didn't count on the noise. Behind the houses across the street from mine is an empty field (and the gas well). Apparently, they're going to build back there, though I can't imagine who wants to live that close to the gas well. They had heavy machinery going - they were working when I left the house and they were still working when I got home and they kept going until after 6:00 pm. And, the house next door to me is under construction (finally). It's at the bricking stage. So, they had their little brick breaking machine going and the Spanish radio station. Of course, the radio station had to be turned up loud enough so they could hear it, which means I could hear it. Oddly, I can't really hear much of the noises in the living room/kitchen, which is in the back of the house, but I can definitely hear it in the study. It was much more of a distraction than I thought it would be.

Then I come to work. I sit in a cube in the middle of a room that adjoins two other people's cubes. Right now I hear someone crushing ice at the refrigerator. The printer and microwave are behind me. The two people in the cubes next to me, I hear their conversations. They've started using headsets for the phones, so now when Person A makes a call, I not only hear her end of the conversation, but I also hear the person she's speaking to. Person 2 receives quite a few personal calls, which I hadn't noticed before and because she's using a headset, I now hear her radio since she no longer can use headphones. She does try to keep it low, but it's still distracting. This office is so open, you pretty much hear everything. Hard not to.

Today added smells to the list. A couple of people cooking their lunch in the microwave then someone with a different blend of coffee. Mix them all together and ugh.

Most days noises don't bother me, I can tune them out. Here lately though, person A's supervisor is at her desk often and that gets loud. Plus supervisor has what I've dubbed a monkey laugh and she does it a lot. Around lunch time, it was getting to me. It was all just running together. It's now gotten much quieter and I'm hoping it stays that way. Maybe when I get my very own cubicle and Persons A & B move over a bit in the room it won't be so bad.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pest contol....

Well, the pest control guy came on Monday. Bless his heart - he's very understanding. I'm fairly sure, though, that I'm not the only spider-wary female client he has or will have. He did tell me they are good for catching bad bugs. I acknowledge this, but I still get freaked when they are on the house and close to the front door. He agreed that that wasn't really good either.

At any rate, they put down a good perimeter around the house. Sadly, the dirt dobber nest on the light by my front door also went. I know you're wondering why wasps would not bother me if I totally freak about spiders. At first, they did. But, after seeing ginormous spider, I decided I could deal with wasps. And Ms Dirt Dobber was interesting to watch. I've seen the nests before, but never had I noticed that they open and close it (apparently what we view as a hole is a door) between comings and goings and it's basically just one. I was totally fascinated. There is now one building a nest on my garage floor next to the garage door I don't use (I have two of them, but that's another story). I've never seen one built on a floor, always they've been up high, near eaves or windows or on something higher up, like the light.

The pest control guy also suggested putting more sticky traps in the garage. Ugh. There is no chemical on them, which is a bit inhumane to me. The last two caught one ginormous spider and one field mouse. Friend BA came to help me dispose of them. The mouse was dead, the spider not quite. I may not like them, but I'm not into torturing them either. Beating it with a fly swatter and spraying it with bug spray if it gets in the house, yes, but not the sticky trap in the garage. Pest control guy did offer to come collect the traps, which I thought was very sweet. But, if I took him up on that offer, I'd probably become one of their most dreaded clients fairly quickly - the flaky, bug paranoid lady. I'd rather it not come to that.

Tonight I did see one spider walking across my yard. Yep, walking across the yard. Never seen that before. I don't think it was the size of ginormous spider. I'm not freaking. I'm going to remain calm and rely on said pest perimeter to keep it out of the house. I also had a small spider drop down almost right in front of me while sitting on my couch. How brazen. Poor thing, if it had stayed outside it would have lived. I'll be really happy when bug season passes.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

And the rains bring... spiders

Ugh. I figured when I finally got the pest control people to the house I was home free. I forgot to take into account the rain and critters wanting a dry spot. The past week it seems like I've been invaded - in the house and outside. The worst was when I saw a spider that I swear could beat up my cat. I can't stand them, but the bigger they are, the more freaked I am. I am fair though, if they stay outside, that's cool. But, I have called the pest control folks and they'll be back on Monday.

But, in an effort to ensure no more invade my space (I've killed several in the house in the past few days), I'm trying the sonic pest control devices that you plug into the wall. I've pretty much got one in every room. I'm not sure they really work, but I'm willing to give anything a go at this point.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Everything but the kitchen sink....

That's what it's felt like these past three weeks. At the end of June I headed to a conference in Washington, DC. It's been a while since I've been there and I enjoyed being back. Good roommate for the conference, which is always a plus and I got to visit family and friends as well, a huge added bonus. The conference was so-so, which was disappointing, however, with all the walking I did, I didn't have a lot of guilt about not working out. I walked A LOT. And, I did stairs. Steep escalators freak me out, so at the conference center, I used the stairs instead of the escalators. Since the exhibitors were on the lower level, there were a couple of days I did this more than once. Actually, I was pretty proud of myself. They didn't kill me, so maybe I'm not as out of shape as I thought I was.

Got back the Thursday before Fourth of July. I worked that Friday, then took the following Monday and Tuesday off. All told, I was probably in the office one day in a two week period. I'm not feeling guilty. The conference might have started on a Friday, but it went through the weekend to Tuesday. And, no comp time for the weekend conference time. Which is standard and not something I choose to dwell on. It just is. I'm terribly grateful that I get professional time to attend; I have colleagues who aren't supported in attending this conference, so they don't go or they use vacation.

My days off were spent doing a lot of little things. The Monday basically was set aside for all the repair folks to come, starting at 8:00 am. Who does that to themselves on a day off? But, I was desperate to have an A/C unit that didn't sound like it was preparing to take flight or was going to blow up. I now have that. I'm one happy camper. The mechanic showed up bright and early and didn't have to cut the sheet rock. This one actually felt the wall and could feel it hitting the wall. So, outside he went. He gave the pipe a really good yank to pull whatever was vibrating away from the frame and then moved the A/C unit itself a bit more from the house. Ahhh... it now makes the noise it's supposed to make.

The A/C guy was followed by the guy to repair the crack in the sheet rock in my bedroom ceiling. Alas, his English skills left a lot to be desired (read - he didn't have any) and I sent him away the first time because all he could say was "drywall" and for the life of me I was so focused on the A/C repair and the door ding that I forgot about the crack in the ceiling. Fortunately, the builder didn't. He was on his way over to mark the areas (he found more, which I'm not sure is a good thing or a bad thing) and tell the guy what to do. So, that guy was here about 2 hours doing that. The door ding repair guy arrived about 1:00. Thankfully, he spoke English (as did the A/C guy). Then, the painters showed up about 3:30. Well, the texture has to dry for about 12-24 hours. So, I asked if they couldn't come back the next day after 3:00, as I had to take kitty cat to the vet in the morning. They said yes. Of course, their English skills were lacking as well. Sigh.

So, kitty cat got a new scratching post, one of the cardboard ones, which she adored. Had catnip in it and she was all over it. Sounds cute. I got it for her on Friday. She liked it, it's much cheaper than her traditional scratching post (we've now gone through three), so I was happy. I thought it was cute that she rubbed her head and whole body on it and she used it to scratch. This is good, right? Umm... not really. By, Monday night her left eye was looking red and the skin above it was a little raw. By Tuesday morning, she just looked sad.. red eyes, red ears. I took my time getting ready to go as the appointment was at 11:00. No rush. The minute she saw the carrier, she was under bed. It's like 10:50. The vet isn't far, but if you've ever tried to coax a cat out from under a bed you'll know my dilemma. It just isn't done. In addition to said irritation, she was also in desperate need of a pedicure (thanks to a tendonectomy her front claws have issues and I can't always trim them). She's only beaten me once and I couldn't have it this time. So, with great guilt, I resorted to the fly swatter to get her out. She hates it. I did not hit her... just swooshed it a bit near her. She came out and then tried to hide in her favorite dining room chair. I could get her out from there. Yes, she screamed at me the whole drive to the vets. Naturally, as I was leaving for the vet, the painters showed up. I told them I couldn't stay. They said 12:00. I said how about 1:00. They said okay. I'm still waiting. Maybe I should try to improve my Spanish since apparently contractors don't see a need for their employees to communicate with the people they serve.

I did not like the first vet I took her too. I loved this vet. They aren't trying to sell all kinds of products or services. They trimmed her nails and then the vet gave her a good once over. She also looked at the not really healing bald spot on her tummy (yes, the same one from February) and it had little red dots. So, something was definitely bothering kitty cat. This vet did what I think the first one should have done. Gave her a shot of low dose steroids. I swear, by that night she was looking better. I did take up the new scratching post. I'm going to give it a couple of more days for her to recover, then I'm going to dump the majority of the catnip out and see what happens. At first I thought either the cardboard or catnip was causing the irritation, but now I'm wondering if something wasn't already causing a problem and I provided a really good all round scratcher with the new scratching post. At any rate, not only does she look better, but I do believe she's perkier. I thought after the fly swatter incident and the trip the vet, she'd be mad at me for the rest of the day. Bless her little heart, she wasn't.

I'd hoped to do some flowers for the yard and in containers while I was off, but while I was enjoying beautiful weather in DC, it continued to rain here, straight through the Fourth. So, I did stuff in the house. Now it's the middle of the summer and I'm reevaluating what kind of planting I'm going to do. But, I still got a little rest and some things taken care of on my days off. Now, I just have to get the painters back.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I hope it lives....

Well, yesterday, I planted a tree. Literally. My little Peach tree was not very happy in the pot and I realized it needed to planted... sooner rather than later. I knew it wasn't cut out to be in a pot, unlike my Colonnade Apple tree, and didn't plan on leaving it there for this long. I'd hoped to get it planted after firming up ideas with a landscaper. Alas, I've not heard from the last landscaper I talked with. I'm going to call her tomorrow and see if we can't get together in a week or so. Over the weeks and after some thought and some reading, my goals for what I want her to do have changed, but I still need a little help. The yard doesn't look really good in this picture. I wasn't sure for quite a while where I wanted to plant it, but yesterday this is the spot that called to me. It's slightly off center in the yard, but I can see it from the living room. It's also in the middle of the large dead spot in the yard. But, said dead spot is filling in.

As I said, I planted the tree. Dug the hole, filled in the dirt (used Miracle Gro's soil for trees and shrubs as I think it needs all the help it can get), and used the fertilizer tablets that came with it. I must have done okay, because it survived the storms that rolled through this morning. I'm terribly pleased with myself for getting it planted and hope that I didn't kill it. I did learn, however, that maybe I not geared for planting trees. It's made me re-think all the flower beds I'm envisioning back there. Not that they shouldn't be, just that I shouldn't be the one doing them. At least not by myself. I have no problems doing the actual planting, but I'm smart enough to admit when I'm not the best person to do something, that's why I have a lawn service to do my edging. I can mow, but I can't edge worth a dime. And, I'm not sure I'll be all that good at putting in a flower bed, let alone a lot of flower beds.

I've also realized why one wants the garage in the back of the house. It's much easier to have a potting place in the garage if you don't have to lug everything to the back. Course with a garage in the back, you have to lug mulch to the front, so I guess lugging is involved no matter where the garage is.

At any rate, the Peach tree is ensconced in the ground, my first permanent landscaping in the back yard.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Midnight service calls.....

The A/C saga continues. It's still vibrating in the wall in my bedroom and is driving me and the cat nuts. So, I asked the builder's rep to get the service people back out there. Usually he's pretty good. Apparently, he told them to set up a time with me. They called me last Wednesday afternoon and said they had some available THEN to do the call, was I available? Ummm... let's see... I'm at work, I told them. Oh, they say. Can we, oh, I don't know, schedule an appointment time I ask. Okay, they say. All our mornings are taken. How about Friday after 3:30 I ask? Okay, we'll see you then, they say.

I called them before I left on Friday. Yes, I was still on the schedule. I treated myself and stopped by Corner Bakery on my way home (one sandwich is lunch and dinner for me). And, I waited. I called at 6:00 pm to see if they were coming. Yes, however, they have been running till 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning they say. (I'm not kidding). So I asked if I was expected to stay up until 1:00 in the morning for the technician. No, I'm jut telling you that's how late they've been running. All I could think to do was say thank you and hang up. Totally insane.

Here's the kicker. The technician called me at midnight to see if I was still available for the service call. Uh... no. What are they thinking!? How effective is a technician who's been working all day going to be? And, the unit is outside and it's dark! I'd rather him not be relying on a flash light in the dark. I could understand this if the unit weren't working, but it's working; it just has some issues.

Personally, I think the darn A/C unit was installed sloppily and they don't want to deal with it or me. And, I'm afraid they may have to cut into the sheet rock to do away with the vibration. I don't want that, however, if that is what has to be done, I certainly don't want them doing it at midnight. I won't even go into the safety factor of letting a strange person into one's home at midnight.

I'm very curious what the builder is going to do now.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

I made my first trip to Louisiana since moving back to Texas over the Memorial Day weekend. Kitty Cat survived... she appreciates me so much more after an evening alone. I didn't get to see my Mom for Mother's Day, so this was a combined trip. And, since I can't use vacation days until I've been at new job for six months, this gave me a day to still get ready for the week and relax a bit.

It was a good visit. Shreveport is growing... crime is up, but the shopping that is coming in is reminiscent of the towns here in TX. And, even though Mom complains a tad about driving "all the way across town" (she doesn't live in Shreveport, but close), I found that with the parkways it's not a bad jaunt at all. They even had a Wild Birds Unlimited store. This has to be one of my absolute favorite stores. I'm even more driven to get the bird feeders set up in the backyard. I'm also going to design a garden in my backyard with the intention of attracting the birds. At first I couldn't envision what I wanted back there, but now I'm starting, too.

The drive up and back though was the interesting thing. I've done this drive for over 10 years and never had a hint of a problem. Going... I was behind a tanker that blew a tire. Fortunately, I was far enough back that there weren't any problems. Good thing since most of his tire stayed in the middle of the road. Then coming back...a truck had been having problems. As he pulled back onto the highway from the shoulder, he lost control. He fishtailed 180 degrees and angled back toward an on-ramp that, naturally, had cars headed for the interstate. I could only watch and know this guy was going to plow into someone. God was watching over everyone. The truck went up on the shoulder (very sloped), flopped onto one side, and then righted back up and stayed up. He missed another truck by inches. Fortunately, most traffic was well behind me and everyone could see the guy losing control (East TX is rather flat) and could slow down. I made sure others got out to help (they did) and continued on. It's scary to watch something like that and know you can't do anything.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A lot of little things.....

Well, the past week and half have been full of little things. First, the AC guy, who was supposed to come to my house on a Friday, didn't. I left work early and even called them twice, at about 4:30 pm and 6:00 pm to verify that he was coming. At first I was told the ticket was closed... they left a note on my door. I said, no that would have been yesterday. I've been here since 2:00 pm (he was due after 3:00 pm) and no one has been here. Oops... he found it. He'll be there. Same conversation an hour and half later. No AC guy on Friday. However, he did come on Saturday, which really surprised me. Turns out that the way it was installed, it's vibrating something against the framing or something in the wall. Ya think? And, how do they fix this? The AC guy tried moving the pipe from the AC unit to the house a bit and oochied the AC unit over a bit on the it's concrete pad. The result - it's not as bad, but it's still there. I'm thinking that vibration in the wall can't be a good thing and will cause some type of problem eventually. And now the programmable thermostat changes settings 15 minutes ahead of what I programmed. I'm thinking they'll be back at my house some time soon.

The people who are supposed to fix the ding in my back door didn't show up either. I re-scheduled for last Friday. Left work early, but was still running behind. Called them to confirm I would definitely be there, but might be late. Their response. The tech is still in South neighboring city and probably won't make it today. I'll have him call you. He didn't show and he didn't call. I'm tempted to live with the darn ding, but it's the principle of the thing. I've been trying since I moved in in January to get the ding fixed.

So, several items still remain from this last round with the builder. I'm going to continue thinking the house itself is sound, but this builder's finish out work I'm not impressed with. I doubt I'd buy a house from them again or recommend them to anyone. Really a shame, since they are supposed to be one of the better builders in the area. Makes you wonder.

Then I spent a weekend killing spiders. I don't particularly mind small ones (don't really like them either), but after killing several large ones, I called the pest control company. I could do this, since the one repair that did get done on time was the sheet rocking for the window above the door. I have tubes in the wall of my house where they spray. But, for the first visit they come out and treat inside the house as well. Service still includes treating the yard and outside the doors and windows. I'm very bug phobic, so this is a very good thing. He also knocked out two wasps nest, one which was above my front door. This guy showed up on time and did an awesome job. You always run the risk of seeing more bugs before less. So far, not in my house, but, ugh... some really big, thankfully dead, spiders on the porches. Moths, too, which is kind of sad cause I don't mind those. Never seen this many moths, though.

Exercise. Ack... not so good for the past couple of weeks. Had to be home early three times to meet repair people, plus some not so good weather equals very little gym time. I think I went twice one week and three times the next. On the plus side, while I'm still having some joint problems, nothing like when I was doing step aerobics. I'm hoping once things settle down with the home repairs, I can get back to a more regular schedule.

Not that I haven't gotten exercise in other forms. I have finally organized my garage! Naturally, I chose a hot, humid Saturday to do it and naturally, the rain and cold front moved through after I was done, but I got it done! Probably not as good as my Dad would have done, but he had some mutated gene for organizing that I don't have. I think he was just born with that ability and alas, he did not pass it on. However, I now have some usable space in the garage and can start going through boxes that were in storage and getting rid of stuff. That's the goal at least.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Exploding soda cans, alarm systems, and a stressed out kitty....

Well, last night my goal was to get to bed early so I could get to work early because the builder had arranged for warranty work to be done on my house this afternoon. Not to be. Right before bed, I decided to put a few more sodas in the refrigerator so they'd be cold for this afternoon. I dropped one, which is not an out of the ordinary thing. Well, it blew up. And, it set off my alarm system. I have a unit which is supposed to detect shattering glass (most alarms don't detect a broken window, just a window being raised or a door opening). Apparently, mine also detects exploding soda cans. It's a new system and is just a high pitched wail. It's awful. After I recovered from my heart attack, I looked for the cat. She was under the bed and there she stayed for quite a while.

I have a walk-in pantry and that's where I dropped the can. There was still soda in the can, so less that 12 oz got splattered. It was EVERYWHERE. I was amazed at all the places I had to clean soda up from. Thank goodness for the Swiffer mops... at least the floor isn't sticky. But, I didn't get to bed early. Kitty cat did eventually come out from under bed.

Today wasn't much better. One of the warranty jobs was someone to look at my AC unit. I'm not sure it's working up to par because it just stays kind of muggy in the house. Plus, in the master bedroom the noise is awful... this loud, grinding sound like something is going to burst through the wall any minute. All appointments were made for after 3:00 pm. Alas, the AC guy showed up at 11:55 am. I wasn't home. So, now I get to repeat this tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll both be here at the same time.

The other warranty work went okay, but while I have guys in the house with drills and hammers and blowers for texturizing the wall (short story - they forgot to sheet rock and finish the bottom of the window above the door), the yard guys showed up. It wasn't quiet by any means. Kitty was again under the bed. She didn't come out until she was good and sure everyone was gone.

The last warranty work had to do with my door knobs. Sounds weird and I felt like an idiot saying these door knobs feel "loose." (I did get second opinions before doing this). End result - the front door knob was installed wrong. It's been fixed. Three others actually have defects and will be replaced. It's nice to be validated.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Stormy Weather

Well, it's becoming a weekly thing and one I could do without. Last night we had severe thunderstorms. Up until yesterday, I'd had the good fortune to either be at home or at work and not in my car.

The storms were predicted, but nothing severe, so while it was overcast when I left work, I went to the gym. I'd missed Tuesday and was looking forward to a good bike ride and finishing my book (Curiosity Killed the Catsitter). Well, I did both. 35 minute bike ride to finish the book. I looked out the window at the gym to see that it was very dark. I should have left then, but it probably wouldn't have done me much good. I decided to skip the weights and just do sit-ups. Good thing. It was a little sprinkle on the walk to the car. By the time I made it to the main road to get home, it was POURING. I cross a major interstate almost as soon as I turn on that road and I could barely see it was coming down so hard. And, lightening. It was the surround you kind of lightening. Then the interstate intersection lights started flashing red, then they'd turn green. That made it a bit hairy. But, people weren't zipping and zooming like I've seen them do when it's "normal" rain. Then, a tornado warning - where I'm headed. I thought "what an idiot to be driving in this" but decided perseverance was my best option. It did let up after a while, but the water! I'm thinking "where's the flash flood warning?" Then, the radio announced the flash flood warning for my county. My thought was "ya think?" Again, everybody remained careful going through the water, which I was really grateful for. I thought I was home free when the rain let up. I wasn't. I was almost to the neighborhood, when the sky just fell out. Have I mentioned the wind? It was almost white because the rain was being blown completely sideways. I've never driven in anything like that and hope I don't again. Turning into my neighborhood, the trees near the park looked like what you see on TV when there are hurricanes. I probably went about 3 miles an hour because I simply couldn't see; I thought at that point stopping would probably be just as dangerous and just poked my way home. I gotta say I was really, really glad to have a garage to pull into. Home at last.

I ended the evening with no power. The storms had already passed by that time, so I thought it odd as I would have thought to lose power when it was pouring, but I guess it depends on where the power is coming from. At almost 10:00 pm, it flickered about 3 times and then was gone. Thank heavens I have a portable lantern so I was able to wrap things up and go to bed. I thought I'd know when it came back on, but apparently not. I woke up at about 2:00 a.m. and the power was on. I heard on the radio this morning that 300,000 customers lost power last night. The power company said they were finding trees not limbs on the power lines. Some people are still without power and may be for almost a week. It appears it took out a major transformer station (?) as well. They're calling in help from other parts of the state and Oklahoma. And, they said the winds were the equivalent of a category 1 hurricane.

This morning I could see bits and pieces of the storm. One traffic light on my route was still affected and a police officer was directing traffic. Branches and trash and other little signs that nature had really run through last night.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Exercise and supermarkets

It's beautiful today. Sunny and breezy and mild. This is especially nice since Tuesday severe storms once again rolled through the area. Even though I left work late (by almost an hour), I still went to the gym. I have a lot to do tonight and tried to talk myself out of it, but then I thought I'd probably just come home and watch tv. What a slug. So, I went. I rode the bike and finished off with sit-ups. I didn't do the full workout, but I still went and I'm proud of that. Especially since I tried talking myself out of it.

Last week was different, but some hard lessons. I did yoga on Monday, the step class on Tuesday and Thursday (when it's a Step Jam class, basically more pepped up), and the bike and free weights on Wednesday. After each step class I did free weights, either leg or arms, and sit-ups. Thursday almost killed me - literally. I've been having problems with my hips and I was just in pain after that class. So, I took Friday and the weekend off and decided to play the aerobics by ear this week. Well, with the storms on Tuesday and not feeling really well anyway, I just headed home. However, I did exercise Monday, Wednesday and tonight. And, I'm pretty sure I'll go tomorrow. That's four days and it ain't bad. I'm also going to aim for Yoga sometime this weekend. I used to do that Sunday mornings, but if Church Search continues (see previous post), I'll either be doing it really early or later in the day. The two churches I'm considering though have 10:00 services, which is a nice time. So, if I'm particularly energetic I could do yoga before church. Wouldn't that be nice?

You're probably wondering why the supermarket part? Well, this past Saturday, co-worker LH and I went to Central Market. It was my first time to visit one even though there was one available where I lived (in TX) before. Oh my gosh. What a cool store! They had a great patio area to enjoy lunch. We just got sandwiches, but they were very good and very reasonably priced. The weather was nice, so we got to eat outside. Although, they don't anchor the umbrellas that are at some of the tables, so when the wind gusted, which it did several times, these umbrellas fell over the table. Thank goodness no one got hit, but it added an extra dimension to lunch keeping an out for a falling umbrella. After eating, we headed inside, first stopping to look at their plants. The had a very nice collection of herbs. I've always wanted to do an herb garden. Plants aside, this is just a grocery store, which I really liked. They weren't trying to hawk clothes or office supplies or electronics or anything else. Though they did have a very nice selection of organic personal care products (shower gel, bubble bath, make up, candles). I was happy to see the organic personal care products as several months ago I started using organic products for my facial cleanser hoping it would help with my extremely sensitive skin. So far, so good.

Grocery shopping was just as fun. An awesome veggie and fruit area, along with meats. If you're in to wine they had plenty of that, too. My favorite isle was probably the chocolate/candy isle. Oh, the selection they had! Also, European cookies, including Hit cookies, which brought back fond memories of my trip to Germany many years ago. And, I lucked into flavored water, without sugar. So far, I've sampled three flavors and like them all. Friend TW and I liked Le Nature, but it became very hard to find upon arrival in AR. Haven't seen it since I moved back to TX either. This was a bit more expensive, but it is also 20 oz as opposed to 16 oz for the Le Nature. I've been taking a bottle to work as I'm trying to increase my water intake and reduce my soda intake. I was very proud of myself this afternoon, when instead of getting another soda, I drank the water and didn't miss the soda. Hmmm... maybe that means it won't take me long to develop that habit. It'd be good for me.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Church Search

Today began the search for a church in my new town. I've missed it. Before I moved to AR, I had a church that I truly enjoyed. For me, the test is the service itself. I went on Saturday night (same service as Sunday morning). There are times I just want to enjoy the service - the music and the message. "Involvement" is secondary. I did eventually find such a place in AR as well.

Oddly enough, I look two ways. Always keeping my eyes peeled while I'm scooting about town and also checking on the internet to find out about service times, beliefs/philosophy, etc. Generally, I'm on the look out for nondenominational. Alas, from what I can tell, a Saturday service is not going to be an option in this area.

So, this morning my friend, JB, and I visited a church. It had been enthusiastically recommended by a friend who had heard good things. Huge building, but pretty. It started out well. They were friendly, "registered" us as guests and gave us a brief tour. Then we headed to the sanctuary for the service. Big and circular (two levels) with the folding seats. You know, the kind that pop up when you stand up. Ugh. I prefer benches in church. Too much standing and sitting for those kinds of seats. But, that's minor.

The first thing we noticed was no program. Oh, they gave us a nice glossy "program," but no sequence of events, no outline, nothing. Very glossy, very pretty, but no information about the service. Sigh. The music starts. We enjoyed the music. Next thing we know, they're passing out communion. The pastor hasn't even gotten up yet or said anything. There has been a brief opening prayer. So, they pass out communion and folks just drink their little bit of wine and eat their wafer. I was aghast. Most services have a component for new believers. What does this tell them. I've never seen communion not led by the paster and not done by all at once. And, certainly not done in such a nonchalant way. Big turn off for me. And, we were told, they do communion every Sunday. This though, wasn't communion, at least not for me. Then they tithe (and sing some jazzed up tune during it). Then finally, the message. However, the reason I like an outline of the service is so you aren't constantly flipping back and forth in the bible during the message. The look up is distracting and I want to be able to focus on the message. Apparently, he was wrapping up a message on the book of John. And, it wasn't bad. But, I don't think this is the church for me. I'll keep looking.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Storms and Painting...what a weekend

Last Friday was a dark and stormy day. Literally. I worked through lunch so I could leave a bit early and hit the grocery store before the storms hit. You could look at the sky and know it was coming. I was just expecting thunderstorms. I underestimated a bit. Almost right after I got the car unloaded, the sirens went off. Sirens going off are not good. So, I turned the tv to a local channel and their sole coverage was the storm system moving the area. My city wasn't the only city that hit the sirens. Many places had hail the size of golf balls. Again, I very much appreciated my garage. This morning it was confirmed... three tornadoes touched down in the metroplex area, one confirmed to be an F1. It was amazing what people did with cell phones... one guy actually videotaped the twister coming towards him with his cell phone. It's amazing to me how technology is used in times like that; I'm not sure I would've been quick enough to whip out my cell phone and take picture.

As a result of the storms, we had a very chilly (highs in the 50's) and a very windy Saturday. Seems like every time I drive to my old stomping grounds the weather is horrible - either gusting winds or pouring rains. I'm beginning to wonder if God is trying to tell me something. The trip this time though was to help friend CD paint her very first house! She closed on Thursday. It's a great house in a great neighborhood. Makes me a little nostalgic. Not as many people were on hand as had been hoped for. I stayed for about five hours, but then I had to toodle. It's a hour drive now for me and I needed to head back. The winds though, wow. In places I drive on a very flat, open road. And, believe me, I can tell it when the wind is gusting. :)

I enjoyed helping her and felt like I didn't do enough. I wish I could have done more. Many rooms were painted chocolate, including the guest bath where they even painted the ceiling chocolate. We got a good bit of the priming done. I can still feel it in my thighs though. Since I did a lot of the priming near the baseboards and in the hard places for the rollers, I wound up doing what amounts to squats for about three hours and I can tell it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Going strong....

This just doesn't apply to me, but I'll start with me. Four times this week to the gym! Woo hoo! I think the weather helped. It was just beautiful until today. Today, rain with possibly severe thunderstorms (meaning hail) and possible tornadoes. Dark and gloomy. Days like this one should be spent sleeping in and lounging with the cat. The four times included two classes - step on Tuesday and last night the core board class. Heavens that class! It goes fast, but it is a workout! I stuck with the 3 lb weights because of all the movement. My short legs and the fast pace also make it hard to do some of the moves because of the width of the board, which is a bit frustrating. It was good to separate the two classes to two different days. I've done them together, but the room is just a bit too hot (or I'm just not in good enough shape!).

Speaking of the kitty cat. She appears to be doing better. Fur seems to be filling in the bald spot, but I'm still occasionally using the spray just to be on the safe side. I'm planning on cutting out the wet food. I should never have gotten her in the habit. She screams for it all the time and with the recent pet food recalls (my brand wasn't affected) I'd just prefer we go back to dry food and treats. I will say with the wet food she's not as interested in treats. But, I think she's just a tad to attached to it. My nerves will be shot, because I'm pretty sure she's going to be quite vocal in her disapproval of no more wet food. So, cross your fingers and say a prayer that my nerves can handle it. Cats seem to be pretty routine oriented, so I'm hoping it will only take me a couple of days to get us back to our pre wet food routine.

Remember the gas well that is going in basically across the street from my house? Well, I would've thought they would have been done by now, based on what the city told me. 45 days to put in a gas well. Granted it was wintry when they started, but it's been way more than 45 days. Well, Thursday morning I was awoken from a sound sleep by the loudest buzzing sound... at 1:00 am. It sounded like it was either in the house or the back yard. I actually got up to make sure that my a/c unit or some other thing wasn't about to blow up. Sure enough, the gas well people. My question, what possesses someone to do this in a neighborhood at 1:00 in the morning? Surely, it could be done during the day. Fortunately, it only lasted (at least the really loud part) for about an hour. I seriously considered calling the city again, but decided I would only do that if occurred two nights in a row. It didn't. Houses are being built across the street, so my view of the gas well is being obstructed. I almost miss it... not cause it's pretty, but because I'm basically a nosy person and like to keep an eye on what they are doing. :)

And, the landscaper who said he'd draw something up and get back. Yeah... he hasn't. Why am I not surprised Guess, I'll come up with a plan B and go from there. And, maybe that's the way it should be.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Good things...

Well, as of last Thursday, my yard has been mowed! Woo hoo! It's so much nicer to look at now, especially the back yard. Gone are the almost knee high grassy weeds. I've also put out the weed and feed, so in about a month, the weeds should start slowing down. We had a lot of rain last week, but I realized when I was leaving for work this morning that I need to kick those sprinklers back on.

I also spoke with a landscaper, who had some good ideas for the backyard. Very quiet though. He said he'd draft something up for me, but I'm not sure he thinks I'm worth the effort, meaning I may not be spending enough money at this time to justify his effort. We'll see. I'm coming to realize that unless you can (or want) to spend thousands, you might be on your own. A small disappointment though relates to the back patio. To extend it any decent length out from the existing covered porch will require moving a sprinkler pipe. Yikes.. not something I can do. Probably means I'll definitely wind up doing the patio last. And, of course a lot of it depends on him actually getting back to me. :)

The good news though (for me anyway), is that my not dead shrub is a Dwarf Crepe Myrtle! I'm so excited. If I got to choose shrubs that would be one of my choices. They bloom all summer long and then some. I'm just so darn pleased about that. Can't wait till it blooms.

Exercise last week was a bust. I did make it to one step class and then a normal workout day. Near the end of the week though, I was just exhausted. Couldn't really think straight at the end of the day and realized a workout probably wouldn't be worth much in that state. Given my itchy, itchy eyes, I think it's allergies. I did do yoga this weekend though, so that's three days total for exercise. This week I'm hoping is better.

And, in the "cool" department. We had tiny snow flurries last Saturday. Makes sense - it was Easter. It always gets chilly on Easter. Now, Spring can come.

Monday, April 2, 2007

What a week...

Well, the Texas drivers license arrived on Monday, so I guess I'm officially a Texan again. And, I realized that Texas has an ugly driver's license. Arkansas has a really pretty, rather cool drivers license, but not Texas. You'd think the Loan Star State would have something less bland, but I guess they put their effort into the license plates, which are cool, rather than the drivers license. And, this puppy doesn't expire till 2013.

It was a dreary day, with a lot of rain. I don't mind the rain, but Kitty Cat has managed to get a bald spot on her tummy, which I think is basically a hot spot. But, at any rate, I needed to make sure. So, I put her in the carrier and off we headed to the vet. She wasn't happy about the trip. It was her first car ride in rain and it does make a different sound in the car. I'm sure she was wondering if I knew what I was doing. After all the hair that wound up on me, I'm surprised she had any left. The vets were okay, but the displays in the office were all about stuff you could purchase - from id tags to senior check up packages. I did get a spray and so far I think it might be working. At least the "spot" isn't getting any bigger.

Exercise wise, I did okay. I did the step class on Tuesday, but because of the heat and humidity in the room, I opted to not do the core board class and instead did free weights. I'd done yoga on Monday and that included quite a bit of abs work, so I skipped the sit-ups and stretched. Thursday was my last session with the trainer. I think it went well and was worth it. Total this week at the gym was the 3 days plus yoga.

To top it all off, we got rain. A lot of rain. Not just Monday, but several days. Friday just poured buckets on the way home, but I still ventured out for a Pampered Chef party. I tried not to spend, but I did. Hopefully, good investments. At least I didn't have to venture out of the neighborhood in the rain. I'm also really appreciating having a garage again.

The rain though has really spurred the growth of my weeds. And the grass, but what I see now is mainly weeds. I've had the dickens of a time getting landscapers and yard services to call me back. But, I got a quote today and they are willing to do bi-weekly. So, they'll hopefully get it done this week and then I can get a lawn mower for the weeks in between. They'll do the edging, etc. I'm really very terrible with that. And, they'll go ahead and do the weed and feed treatment. Hopefully, the dead spots in the backyard will go the way of the dead shrub and not be dead. I've got such visions for the yard, but right now I'll be terribly excited just to get the first mowing done.

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's not dead...

Well, currently, the yard is a disaster. The back more so than the front, which I guess is good as no one but me sees the back. I don't have a lawn mower yet, or at least not one that will more the very high weedy grass that is back there in spots. I tried and woke up my allergies in the process. So, my solution was to get a lawn service in there to do the initial mowing and edging. Then I take over, having purchased my mower, and possibly have them come in once a month to mow and edge (I'm lousy at edging). I'd also like to get some thoughts/estimates on expanding my patio, planting my trees, perhaps enhance the front landscaping a bit, and maybe even some type of water feature. They must have crystal balls or something and know my budget isn't grand, because getting businesses to call me back has been difficult. I can understand the landscapers. Obviously, they probably prefer you spend thousands of dollars or it's not really worth their time. I'm hoping the lawn services are better. I spoke with one and it was positive, but she hasn't called back with an estimate. I'm going to the call back today.

The good news. While I was pulling the larger, more overbearing weeds from the front yard, I also pulled the random ones from the front flower bed. I got a very pleasant surprise. The dead shrub isn't dead! It's got all these nice pretty green leaves on it. I broke off what dead branches I could and will go trim it up better this coming weekend. I've never heard of shrub that died down in the winter. Perhaps it was too cold and it's just now coming back. At any rate, I'll pull out my trusty gardening book and see if I can identify my now alive shrub.

Now if that tree in the front yard would start getting some leaves....

Friday, March 23, 2007

It went down...

I met with the personal trainer last night. Allergies have been acting up, so I was dragging fanny a bit. Last night she re-did the initial measurements (they measure you at the start of your training). Since they were done the week before I started meeting with her, in about 4 weeks, my Body fat has gone down about 1 1/2 %. Woo hoo! Everything else remained the same. That's okay. I've just started back and it looks like I'm making progress. A little motivation to keep one going.

A side note...we did a balance exercise I'm not so fond of, basically because I have no balance! Just goes to show me that I need to continue to incorporate some type of balance exercise when our meetings are done with (I've got one more session). That what's I like about this gym's approach to training. It's not just about the weights, but also about balance and nutrition and a good combination of cardio and strength.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I did it...

Probably not what you think. This past Tuesday, in addition to the Camp 24 class (the one with the core board), I did the 30 Minute step class before it. I was surprised and pleased to learn that doing a step class is like riding a bike, you don't really forget how to do it. For the most part, I kept up. I did get turned around a couple of times, but I followed the routines pretty darn well for someone who hasn't done a step class in probably 6 or 7 years. And, I enjoyed it! Probably more so than the core board class, though that one has some nice toning and balance exercises in it. I'm even considering trying the 30 minute Step Jam class on Thursdays. Not tonight though as I meet with my personnel trainer. The room for the class was exceptionally warm and humid (and it takes a lot for me to say that), so I was very hot by the time I was done with two classes. But, I felt great.

It's been going well with the trainer. After tonight I have one more session. We went over a suggested nutrition plan last week. Gads... 4 meals. I've learned I don't do well with that. They also suggested egg white omelets. Uh no... I want the protein. I did decide I would no longer make my snacks sweet per se, but keep them on the level of fruit or yogurt or peanut butter crackers or something like that. I did get bananas and grapes at the store this week and was extra pleased to find Yoplait's Lite Thick and Creamy in Orange flavor. It's my favorite. I baked muffins this weekend (poppyseed), but over half the batter was turned into mini-muffins. I'm finding two mini-muffins is just enough for a quick snack. And, the grapes are the larger, sweet ones. I very much like grapes, but not the sour ones (no one does, I guess). So, I'm enjoying them. I've found this week that I actually packed too much food, so today I cut back a bit. I'll alternate the yogurt and afternoon fruit. And, I'm drinking water with lunch, so that's a step toward more water.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The insanity of it all....

When I moved to Arkansas, I had to select another bank for checking as my Texas bank was not in Arkansas. Well, I was never overly fond of that bank. Their online banking was set up for balancing, etc, like I would do that online. And, they use your SSN for your login to the online banking. Keep this in mind. I tried to change my address online since I am no longer living in Arkansas. Nope, no can do. You either have to go into a branch in person or send the request in writing. I'm sure this is for my protection, but you also have to include you SSN, a copy of your driver's license (front and back), old and new address, phone number. You can also fax it. Easy.... everyone has a fax machine in their home. Their e-mail politely apologized for the inconvenience. Just makes me all the more glad that I'm dumping them.

What just completely befuddles me is the use of my social for logging in, but I can't change my address online. All that I would get would be the darn statement, not rights to the account. And, hello, if someone get's my social, they can get into the account. I know someone it happened to (different bank) and their account was cleaned out. I also have a problem with the driver's license piece. Remember, I've got a temporary one (no picture) which I'm sure won't count in their book.

So, there's one up the road. I checked their hours. Lobby 9:00 - 4:00 M-Th, 9:00 - 5:30 F. Gads, I guess they don't want working people to visit the lobby. So that leaves Saturday, when they're open from 8-12. My Texas bank (thank heavens I didn't close those accounts) has lobby hours of 9:00 - 6:00 M-F and get this, 9:00 - 3:00 on Saturday. Much better. So, I get to wait until Saturday to go change my address. I see a Corner Bakery breakfast for a reward. :)

Then, just to complicate matters, I thought I'd call customer service to confirm that when I moved my money to good, ole, Texas bank, that it did close that account. It must have. You have to enter you SSN to ensure your protection (are we still laughing about that) for anything related to existing accounts and mine was invalid. I'm guessing that means the account is closed, but I'll call tomorrow during their business hours (yep, they aren't open by phone past 7:00 pm either) and confirm that I no longer have an account there. As you can probably tell, it doesn't break my heart.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Almost a Texan.... again

Yesterday morning I headed to the DMV to get my Texas drivers license. It's the last thing on the official list. The car has been inspected and tagged, the two things you have to do before getting your driver's license. I figured since it was spring break and I was there less than a half hour after they opened, it would go quick. Not really. It was full because it is Spring Break. I got number 61; they were on number 37. However, it really only took about an hour, so I guess that's not too bad.

Oddly enough, I was still in the system. My "old" Texas license would have expired this year. I always thought there was something between the states that one got canceled or something similar when you got one in a different state. I guess they just take the old one away. I left with a temporary one. That surprised me. I walked out the door in Arkansas with the driver's license in hand. The lady there said they see about 500 people a day in that office, so there's no way Texas will ever not issue a temporary license and mail the real thing. They just see to many people. I say it would have been nice if I could have just done it online since my old one was still in the system. Course, the picture was a bit old, but, hey, it was a darn good one.

I registered the car a couple of weeks ago. Arkansas did not take my old tags. What I didn't know was that if I told them I still had them, the old plates could have been used. They didn't tell me that till we were done, so I wound up getting new ones.

At any rate, I'm glad to have this all wrapped up. Done. Finis.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


You hear about accountability a lot in church - having someone you're accountable to for your actions. I've always been accountable to myself in that regard. However, when it comes to food, that's a different story. As part of my return to exercise and my desire to free the beached whale, I signed up for a few sessions with a personal trainer. Last night was my second session. Part of the deal is keeping a food log. Ugh. I have never liked doing this as it puts it out there in black and white. Her question to me last night was "so, what's with all the chocolate chip cookies?" Yep, I baked this weekend and they were my munchies for the first part of this week. Not good. I knew this, but it's also good to have someone say, uh, no, not that many. She was like, how about 2? I like that it's not a give it up mentality as that just gets you in trouble. I think I can do that. Well, I packed 3 this morning, but I also asked her about other options for the afternoon. Crackers are good. That's good - I'm a fan of Cheez Its. Fortunately, I don't do cookies in the evening. I think once I line up good meals, then my snacking should go down. I hope.

She also asked how much water I was drinking. Prior to moving to AR, I drank A LOT of water. During the commute, during workout, during lunch, in the evening. So, even though I'm the soda queen, I balanced it with the water very nicely. Gotta get there again, too. And, yes, I know more water will help me lose a few pounds, thus helping to unbeach the whale.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

24 Seconds....

24 seconds never sounded or seemed like a lot of time until last night. Why last night? I participated in my second boot-camp style class. Even though they refer to as Boot 24, it's more like an interval class. The class does 3 minutes of cardio and then 3 minutes of resistance training. 24 seconds before the end of the the 3 minutes, a bell rings (like in a boxing match). You think, oh good, we're almost done. Well, you can do a lot in 24 seconds. Several sets of whatever, in fact.

The class is done using a Core Board. This means you balance on it (as mentioned in a previous post). Last night I realized it's been over 6 years since I really participated in an exercise class. I'm not counting the "boot camp" I did last year in Arkansas for 6 weeks. At the end of the class we did balancing work on the core board. This means one leg. I was impressed that I didn't fall off. I realized this is good for me. This class is 30 minutes, so I'm thinking that I should either do the the step class before or the weight class after. I'm not ready to dive into 90 minutes of exercise, but may try to do the step class, also 30 minutes, that's right before it next week.

Yesterday, I also did 12 minutes on the stationary bike for warm-up, bringing yesterday's excise to about 50 minutes, including stretching.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Exercise, Week 2

Well, this is week 2 of my return to a gym and exercising. My goal starting out was three days a week and I made that last week. Unfortunately, it was Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and I'd really like not to do them all in a row but spread them out. Alas, I like not going on Friday. So, maybe Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. I used to go Monday, Wednesday through Friday. Something will work out. I may also work in a Saturday or Sunday for a 4th day.

I did do one of their classes. It's a 30 minute class and was done on what amounts to a balance board. The thing rocks and swivels and some of the moves are unique to the board and some are similar to step, which is interesting since you have to have balance to do it! I was just happy to complete the class without falling and breaking any bones. I'm planning to give it another go this week. After all, after going for a bit, I should become somewhat of a pro, right?

I'd also like to get back to doing yoga on the weekend. I've gotten out of the habit and I'd really like to get that habit back. It's good for flexibility. Hmm... maybe I should set that goal for starting this weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Yards and Moving

One of my favorite shows is House Hunters. This week they are doing new episodes all week from Florida. Last night they were in Naples. The couple chose the house I would have - great interior; exterior needs a bit of work. I moved into a new house when I moved to Texas and the backyard definitely needs landscaping. And the front a little as well. The builder called it a "deluxe landscape package." Ummm... I don't think so, but that's another post. Anyway, for the house the Florida couple picked they estimated $14,000 for the landscape. Ack! Granted they needed a fence and a good one will probably run about $5,000, but what would cost $9,000 in landscape. It had grass, so no sod. It needed some trees, but a screened porch was already there. They gave the figure for what they spent at the end and it wasn't quite that and it did look nice. Maybe trees run it up. I tend to plant small ones and watch them grow. Anyway, my budget is MUCH smaller than that, so we'll see what I come up with. The good news is that the show that followed, My House is Worth What? did say that landscaping in the back gives a very good return for the investment. Good to know.

Now, the moving part of this post. When the movers deliver your stuff, they are supposed to put the beds together for you. Generally, I was taught if they take it apart, they put it back together. Now, I have moved A LOT, including two cross country moves. I am not unfamiliar with moving. In the past, the movers have taped the hardware for the beds to the bed frames. Not this moving crew. We found the bed frame hardware in a dresser drawer wrapped in paper. But, we couldn't find the hardware to attach the bed frame to the bed. We looked in every drawer in the dresser and any other drawer we could think of. The driver was frustrated. He couldn't understand why it wasn't with the other hardware. My Mom and I wound up getting new hardware (bolts and nuts) at Home Depot. We knew I'd probably find them - someday.

Well, apparently we missed a drawer. Last night I found the hardware wrapped in a paper towel in the drawer of my nightstand. And, it was basically out of curiosity because I couldn't remember putting anything wrapped in a paper towel in there (we didn't have to unpack drawers for the move). I looked and there was the hardware. Guess I'll count it as a spare set for any future moves. I still haven't found the glass that goes in a lamp table and think it got delivered to the folks in Oklahoma (the delivery before me).

Personally, the load crew in Arkansas was a bit haphazard in my opinion. I almost think he did it on purpose. He was so very sure he knew much more about moving than I did. We were put off by his almost snotty attitude. The Texas crew that delivered was much better.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What's that noise?

Okay, I admit, after four days of listening to them drill a gas well, I'm a little paranoid. So at 6:30 this morning when I heard who knows what kind of engine sound, I admit I was a bit afraid that they were drilling again. That somehow they didn't finish.

Ummm... that wasn't it. Have I mentioned that I'm in a new neighborhood. Not all the houses are built. The cold weather slowed them down a bit, but apparently they are getting back into the swing of it full force. I'm all for this as I still don't have major warm fuzzies for the neighborhood. I think this will be resolved when it's "complete." They did just finish building a nice two story across the street and I noticed the past couple of days lot prep for two more. The noise this morning - a crane! I've lived in "being built" subdivisions, but have never seen them bring in a crane. Concrete trucks were also present (and generating some noise) and on the way to work this morning, a little further up the street was a backhoe. I doubt it will be a quite day there. Again, I understand the building and want them to get done. But, 6:30 am? I just hope they are a bit more considerate on the weekend. In prior neighborhoods with building going on, they didn't start till about 8:00 am on the weekend. And that was just basically hammering. Not a great start time, but better than 6:30 in the morning.

The fun will start when they begin building the house on the empty lot next to me. I'm both ready for it and dreading it at the same time.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Gym, part II

Well, last Monday I decided to go look at one more gym. Actually, it's the same gym (chain), one chain later, that I joined when I moved to TX the first time in 1996. From looking at their website, I had hopes. Several half hour classes in the early evening, 5:00 or 5:30, and a 6:00 yoga class one night a week. Most yoga classes are offered at 7:00 or 8:00 pm or in the mornings. Either I'm home for the evening or I'm at work at those times, so they never really worked for me. This gym also seemed to have a good variety of classes and it had a pool with sauna, steam room, and hot tub. I like using the sauna every so often. So, after work I stopped by.

I'm glad I did. I liked the gym. It's not as close to my house as I wanted, but it is easily accessible from the house and right on the way home. Also, they are building a new club very close to where I live and the membership can be transferred. Another plus, $5 off/month for President's Day and no contract. There was a joining fee, but it was reasonable and with no contract, I'm happy.

After two months of not working out, I'm easing my way back into it. So, I worked out one day last week and am hoping to do 3 days this week. One night I'm planning to check out the 30 minute "bootcamp" style class. I'm looking forward to getting back to regular exercise.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

They're drilling a what!?

I moved into my house in early January. I soon realized, in the field behind my neighbors across the street there was activity. The activity is the drilling of a gas well. Yep, a gas well. Smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood. Aside from the quandary of living almost on top of it, I heard today that one recently blew up in the metroplex area. Hmmm... really, who wants to live this close to a gas well?

I actually called the city yesterday because the noise was horrendous. Apparently drilling is noisy business. Very noisy. Think several 18 wheelers driving through your house in surround sound 24 hours a day. You still probably won't quite get how absolutely nerve wracking it was. According to the city and the information I found, this is a new venture for them and from what I could tell, they're still trying to get the ins and outs of the drilling process. They were great in answering my questions and getting back to me. I was told yesterday that by the time I got home, it should be done, but to call her back on Monday if there were any other issues. Oh, and by the way, they were going to burn off some kind of excess fuel, so it would look like there was fire, but don't worry, the fire department had been notified. That's good to know. And, if you haven't guessed, the noise was still there, at times louder than the previous 2 nights. All night. I left at 10 this morning for an appointment and got home late. The noise is gone. Finally. It's weird being this quite, but oh so pleasant.

Requirement is for gas wells to be 300 ft from a residence, school, church. I'm not too sure it shouldn't be further. There are also codes governing the noise, apparently except when they actually do the fracturing (? terminology). Joy. Someone could have told us. No one knew what was going on. Oh, and if I had known, would I have still bought this house? Honestly, I don't know. What I do think is I should have been told. But, hey, the builder didn't even know. And, frankly, they should have been told too.

Below are some pictures of the "torch" as I fondly dubbed it. It's gone now, along with the noise.

Photo using a night setting with the flash off.

Normal setting with a flash.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


I spent the better part of my day yesterday checking out gyms. I recently moved and am more than ready to start working out again. I've given serious thought to my own piece of gym equipement rather than going back to a gym, but thought I'd give a couple of them the once over.

I checked out several, including the local Y. Nothing really sang to me.

Then, I decided to check out the gym I used before I moved to another state, where they had no clubs. Years ago, I paid that whopping "lifetime" membership fee over 3 years. Over the course of several years, I moved a couple of times and at one point it "lapsed." Finally, I bought a house and one was reasonably close to me. I paid a fee to reinstate the membership and then had the very reasonable monthly fees. Okay, it was a bit more of drive than I wanted, but it was a fairly decent facility. Then after several years, another move. The move to the state where they had no clubs. So yesterday I pop in, show my old membership card and ask what it would take to reinstate the membership. Are you ready? Almost $500! Only $50 of that is the reinstatement fee. The rest is the dues from the 2 1/2 years of lapsed membership. Now, if I just dropped it cause, maybe. But, they actually expected that I would pay back dues for a membership when there were no clubs that I could have used. I was amazed. Or, I could just get a whole new membership. Umm... I had one that I paid good money for. In talking about various memberships, the lifetime membership isn't really offered anymore or if you want it you'll pay for it. But, for the same amount of money or just a bit more, I could get a whole new membership. The catch: three year contract and at the end, the membership is ended and you have to do it again. I'm sorry, but who knows what will happen in three years. I'm simply not going to commit for three years. The cardio area of the club was okay, the pool so-so, but the weights are in three different areas that are bleak at best. And, of all the options, it's the farthest from the house. Probably not going with them again. It just makes me feel like I'm being ripped off. I may not be, but that's still how it feels.

A stationary bike for the house is looking better and better.