Saturday, July 30, 2005


Interesting birthday this year. Not only did I get to spend it with my parents, daughters and son-in-law; but my ex and his parents and sister were there. This was just a coincidence as we were all at my daughter's to celebrate her receiving her Master's degree.

While I was opening my gifts, someone asked how old I was (I think it was my younger daughter who will be finding coal in her Christmas stocking this year). Her dad leaned over to his sister, Kris, to urge her to resond to the question with "You're older than dirt."

Side note about Kris. About 15 years ago, she suffered a brain injury and now needs constant care. It is my firm belief that inside her head, she's the same woman and fully knows everything going on around her. There's just a short circuit that prevents her from communicating, among other activities.

Anyway, after my ex urged her to say "Older than dirt", she automatically parroted "Older than dirt" in her painstakingly slow manner.

I quipped, "Remember, you'ren older than I, so you are even older than old dirt." I glanced over and caught her expression of mock outrage. There was a mischievous glint in her eyes, and I saw her working her mouth. She had a comeback for that, but she couldn't form it.

Later, I reflected back when my ex and I were still married and before Kris' accident. When there would be a family gathering at my in-law's, my mother-in-law, Kris and I had an informal tradition on the last night. After the kids and husbands had all gone to bed, we'd meet in the kitchen and raid the refrigerator. Then while we'd finish up the home-made ravioli, roast beef, various cookies and cakes, we'd perform a post-mortem on the visit. There would be a lot of joking around and we'd eventually wake up someone with our laughing.

At one point this past weekend, I asked Kris if she remembered those times. Generally, if you ask her a question, she responds, "I don't know", until you press her and she'll eventually give you the correct answer. But this time, she turned to me and nodded her head "yes", that mischevious look in her eyes again. She wanted to tell me something, but couldn't get it out.

I miss her.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Happy Birthday To Me

Today is my birthday, and I will be spending it on a road trip with my parents and younger daughter. We're driving across Misouri to attend my older daughter's graduation. She's getting her Master's in Math Education. I'm still amazed that two mathmatically-challenged people could create a math genius. Two negatives making a positive, I suppose.

Other items of note today: It is also Take your Pants for a Walk Day.

And...probably more important to most people, it's also Bugs Bunny's birthday.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


My sister came in town for the weekend to help me with unpacking, organizing etc. At the moment, she's napping.

But earlier she painted the pantry, then we went to Lowes to buy new shelves for the pantry. This was not the quick trip I thought it was going to be.

I just wanted some boards that were 16.5 by 35. Oddly, shelves apparently come in every dimension but what I needed. We finally made our choice, but needed help to determine how to fasten the brackets to the wall. I spotted a guy wearing a vest that said "Customer service, I can help with anything." Then the name "Doug". He was standing by a counter and tossing something in the air, kind of bored. When he saw me approach, I swear he looked annoyed. "Oh, darn. I'm going to have to do something" was what his expression told me.

We showed him what we were buying and asked how to fasten them to the wall. He told us we'd have to go to hardware and get something called "butterfly sinker."

We toddled off to hardware in search of said butterfly sinkers. I had a feeling "Doug" made that up; that there is some sort of running joke among the guys wearing vests saying "Customer Service. I can help with anything." We'd get to hardware and would ask for a butterfly sinker only to have the guy there slap his knee and laugh saying "Doug sent you, didn't he. That guy! What a riot."

Or, we'd end up with some kind of fishing tackle.

We went through a series of customer-service-I-can-help-with-anything guys who gave us varying degrees of help. We finally found an older gentleman who looked at the toggle bolts we had been advised to use (which also have the name of butterfly sinkers --go figure). He asked us more questions, then took the toggle bolt/butterfly sinker away from us, gave me something else that looked less scary and wouldn't leave as big a hole in the wall.

As soon Carol wakes up, we'll see if it works.

Of course, if I start banging on nails to hang some pictures in the hallway, she might wake up earlier.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Well, last night, I was not the one watching the bizarre comings and goings of her neighbors. I was the one being watched.

(images goes wavy, sound of harps as we go back in time to last night; about 9:45)

I'm trying to finish up the dishes, laundry and dusting before heading to bed. I take a few minutes to get ready for bed and throw on a thigh-high nightgown. Nothing else. I then take a load of laundry down to the basement, using the stairs I share with the family on the other side of the duplex. After starting that load, I fold the towels that were in the dryer and bring them up. Then I get to my door and....


Oh crap.

Meghan is at work until 10:00 and then is going jogging afterwards. After jogging, she and her friend sometimes go to her friend's house to talk about boys or watch tapes of The OC; so it could be midnight or after before she gets home.

My basement consists of two rooms; the laundry room and a semi-finished room that has a refrigerator, desk, table, two dressers and lounge chair. Sounds like I could comfortably wait there, right? OK, now imagine about 20 boxes, camping equipment, diving gear, biking gear, old computers, a treadmill and Christmas decorations crammed in with all of the furniture. Yeah, that's right. No room.

I go outside through the garage and look to see if any of the neighbors have their lights on so I can use a phone to call Meghan. I glance down at my nightgown and try to convince myself it can pass for a dress.

The lights are on at the next-door neighbors (not the duplex neighbors, J and his wife. The landlord told me they never answer the door). A woman in her 30's lives there. I saw her through her bedroom window the first night I moved in when she had her blinds pulled down to waist level. She was facing the window, and I know she's a natural brunette.

So, now I'm in her living room and seeing the rest of her, clothed this time; and she's seeing more of me than I really prefer. I stand with my arms kind of crossed in front of me, legs crossed, trying to act casual. I'm not pulling it off. Upon hearing my tale of woe, Liz is very sympathetic and hands me the phone. I get Meghan's voicemail and leave her a message. Liz offers to let me stay until Meg gets home, but since I don't know how long that could be and it's nearly 10:00, I decline and tell her I can sit on my porch until rescued.

So, I sit on the front porch and wait. It is a typical July night in St. Louis; hot and humid. After awhile, I realize that the porch light is shining on me like a spotlight, pointing out my stupidity to all the neighborhood. The light is also attracting bugs and they also seem to be attracted to the sweat on my neck and face.

I move to the lawn and out of the circle of light from the porch. J has worked out a deal to reduce his rent in exchange for mowing the lawn. Unfortunately, he has not done that since I moved in nearly a month ago. The grass is long and, it seems that tonight it is full of bugs crawling up my legs. I move back to the porch.

As it sit, I become aware of a large moth flying around the baskets of impatiens I have on the porch. After awhile, I decide it's a hummingbird. Then I realize it's not. It's a hummingbird moth. I've heard of them, but this was the first time I've seen one. I tell myself that if I hadn't been locked out, I wouldn't have seen it. OK, so I'm trying to find the positsive side of this. As I watch the moth, it starts to get blurry and I feel my head and limbs grow heavy. I remembered that I took a Tylenol PM before going down to the basement. It is kicking in.


In an effort to stay awake, I decide to walk on the sidewalk in front of my house. So I walk back and forth.....and back....and forth.....and back. I am amazed how many cars look like my daughter's in the dark. None of them stop, they all drive by. Back and forth....back and forth.....back and forth.....I see a car I'm sure is hers; but from a block away, I feel and hear the "boom boom" coming from the speakers. I think "That had better not be her." It drives past me and I think "What and I thinking!?!? I don't care how loud the stereo is. I want her here now!"

Instead....back and forth....and back.....and forth....I am stumbling some due to the Tylenol PM. From the back of my fuzzy mind, I remember the story of the mother of an acquaintance who had a mental breakdown and was picked up walking around town in the middle of the night in her nightgown.

I go back to the porch.

I hear the phone ringing in the living room. Since it is now about 10:30, it has to be Meghan calling to see if I'm still locked out. A few minutes later, the phone rings again. I stand at the window, look at the phone and yell out to it, "I'm still locked out! Do you think I got in and didn't call you? I'm not stupid!" I become aware of my situation and know at this point, I cannot win that argument.

The phone stops ringing and I sit down again to wait. A voice yells out, "Hello!" I see a man in a tank top and shorts walking across the lawns towards me. He introduces himself as "John" and explains that he is moving in two houses away. He doesn't want me to think he is some weirdo moving boxes late at night. Then he looks down at my nightgown which is now clinging to me because of the sweat. There are also bugs stuck to it. He stops talking.

I explain that I'm locked out. He pulls his eyes off my chest and looks at my eyes, then points to his house and offers to let me wait at his place. I decline, explaining that help is on the way.

John proceeds to tell me his life's story, which I really don't hear. I am too busy taking inventory. He is tanned, buff and somewhere in his 40's. No ring. Small tattoo on his right shoulder. Geen eyes? Or gray? Hard to tell. He continues to talk, but I am now taking inventory of myself and am too aware of my nightgown, the sweat, the bugs and the fact that I can feel my hair curling in the humidity. It is not a good look.

I think John is up to his college graduation, and my daughter pulls up. I get the "what have you done now, Mother" look. John says, "well, I see your key has arrived. Good talking to you. I'll be in touch." With that, he touches my sweaty shoulder, turns and lopes off across the lawns, disappearing in the dark.

I meet Meghan at her car, attempt to explain things as she stares at my nightgown and turns to look at the retreating John. As I walk back to the house, I see a full moon riding high in the sky above the house.

That explains it.

UPDATE: It is now the next night. Meghan just got home and walked in the door while talking to her sister on the cell phone. I heard her say, "Yeah, so does she use her time wisely and work on organizing the basement? No. I find her sitting on the porch in her nightgown --and nothing else-- talking to some random guy!"

I feel a disturbance in the force....much like that of offspring drafting commitment papers.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


The other night, I finished putting up the miniblinds. I had started this project before going on vacation and after the first couple of blinds , things had gone fairly easily. Monday night, I was going to put up the last two which were the ones to be installed in my daughter's room. God love her, Meghan is a tad (ha!) high maintenance; therefore, it should have been no surprise that her miniblinds were the ones to give me problems. To begin with, the windows were both 31" wide; but one of the blinds was 37" wide. Yet another trip to Lowes solved that.

The first blind went up easily. Then the last blind. The last screw. Jammed. It had about a half inch to go in and it stopped. It wouldn't go in and it wouldn't come out.

After the requisite amount of cursing, I went for the hammer and started working on it. I hammered at it. Then I tried prying it out.

The hammer broke.

It was now time to bring on the big guns. An old pair of Karen Scott chunky-heel pumps. One whack and it smacked that screw out of there.

At the next try, the screw jammed again, but it did come out MUCH easier. Then I moved the screw slightly to the left and was successful in completing the installation.

As my daughter and I stood back and admired my handiwork, we realized both blinds were about an inch too narrow.


And as I was putting away the drill, I found one of the drill bits had broken in half. That must have been what was jamming that screw.

The next day, we moved on to putting up pictures and wall hangings. That went fairly well, until I noticed that two small wooden shelves on either side of the Monet print above the piano are off by an inch. And I carefully measured and even used the level. But they were definitely off.

After checking the back of the shelves, I found that the holes were not in the same place; even though they are supposedly identical. To move either shelf would expose the holes already made in the wall.

I came up with an idea. My friend, Kathy, used to have a woodworking business, so I called her and she's going to bring over her tools and we're going to re-drill the holes in the back of the shelf. We're also going to drill holes in the back of the cabinet I'm converting into an entertainment center.


And since I have a professional helping me, this should go well, right?

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, July 18, 2005


In an ealier post, I had made light of neighborly nosiness.

I got to thinking more about that and developed a fair degree of empathy for my neighbors. They are two young kids with a baby living in only two rooms of their house because that is all the furniture they have. And for some reason, they avoid contact with other people; even to the point of only going in the basement at night.

Sad, isn't it.

Is there anything I can do? Something to think about.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Polly PI and I were outside playing hide and go seek. She snuck up behind me hiding behind the lilac bush, tapped me on the shoulder and ran away shouting "Tag! You're It and I'm The Girl with the Sparkly Pants!" She always switches games in the middle. I think it's her way of cheating to make sure she always wins.

(By the way, Polly is a former federal agent/former Medical Examiner/current Private Investigator and lingerie saleswoman at Carson Pirie Scott on State Street in Chicago. -- Some, all or none of the above may or may not have been made up)

So, here's my turn at this Internet meme (what's a meme?).

1 - Imagine it’s 2015. You are visiting the library at a major research university. You go over to a computer terminal (or whatever it is they use in 2015) that gives you immediate access to any book or journal article on any topic you want. What do you look up? In other words, what do you hope somebody will have written in the meantime?

I would look see if there had been any advances in mental health, both in the social acceptance of it as a disease and in the diagnosis and treatment. Then I would see if anything new has been developed to make it easier to cyberstalk old boyfriends. However, by 2015, my best bet for finding most of them would be to look through cemetary records....that is, if I could remember all of their names.

2 - What is the strangest thing you’ve ever heard or seen at a conference? No names, please. Refer to “Professor X” or “Ms. Y” if you must. Double credit if you were directly affected. Triple if you then said or did something equally weird.

Haha. I went to a forensic facial reconstruction conference so that I could learn to rebuild a face on a skull ---- Oh, wait. That was Polly's answer. I mean what can get stranger, weirder or neater than skulls? Um, I apparently slept through all of my conferences 'cause I can't think of anything. Other than finding new ways to conduct legal research, I got nuttin'. Oh, one kindamaybesorta interesting thing I learned at a seminar in dealing with work stress was tips on avoiding "Aunt Ninny". She's the voice in your head who only shows up AFTER you've made a decision and committed to an action. "Is that what you really want to do? How about this? Why didn't you think of that?" We were advised to ignore Aunt Ninny because you can never win with her in your head.

3 - Name a writer, scholar, or otherwise worthy person you admire so much that meeting him or her would probably reduce you to awestruck silence.

Maya Angelou. That woman is AMAZING!!!! All of the languages she's learned, her creativity and insight --- I am totally awestruck by her. I know someone who had lunch with her. This woman has a list of things to do in life and one of them was to have coffee with Maya Angelou -- and she ended up having lunch with her at Maya's home!!!!!

And, like Polly, I met Dave Barry along with Ridley Pearson. Beforehand, the three of us had a fun and sparkling converstion and they were so taken by my wit and charm that they invited me to join them and their wives later for drinks. When my Walter Mitty Moment was over and it was my turn to have them sign my books, I could barely remember my name.

I had a second chance the next night at an RBR concert. My friends and I were down in the moshpit and Dave comes dancing by with his guitar. I whipped out my cellphone to take his pic; only to get the message "memory card is full." I was so busy trying to delete enough to take a picture that I didn't get to enjoy the moment. My friend got to talk to him, and he told her that he had difficulty dancing, talking and playing guitar all at the same time, then he danced away, back on stage as my cellphone was asking me "are you sure you want to delete this file?" Booger!

4 - What are two or three blogs or other Web sites you often read that don’t seem to be on many people’s radar?

Christoblog Check out his columns and the Weekly Newz as well.

And Leetie; except that I wish she would update more often. (HINT!)

Now, who to pass this on to....


Mr. Fisher from Will Blog for Guiness


Marie, the multi-national in Barcelona from Two To Tango
.....have fun, y'all!

Friday, July 15, 2005

I'VE BEEN TAGGED - work in progress

For those of you coming over here from Polly's site to see how I've answered the blog meme she passed on to me, I will work on that tonight.

That is all. Please resume your regular 'net surfing.

Thank you.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


I got up too late to catch the 6:40 am bus; but decided if I put my makeup on at work, I might be able to catch it. I hurriedly showered, dressed, gulped my coffee (HOT!) and raced to the bus stop. I pulled my car into the parking space just in time to watch the bus pulling away. Flashing my lights and honking my horn did nothing except make people driving by look at me nervously.

Dang! I had 20 minute to wait; so I decided to use the time by putting on my makeup in the car.

Not going to do that again.

I got to work and looked at the results in normal light in the bathroom mirror. I'm surprised the bus driver didn't call me Bozo the Clown.

Monday, July 11, 2005


We drove to New York, and did have the opportunity to have a chauffeur, my sister's boxer, Jackson. We politely declined the offer.

We almost lost my sister to some dudes on Harleys.

After finally negotiating the traffic in Manhattan and reaching our hotel, we went out in search of lunch. We decided we just wanted to grab a sandwich somewhere. I pointed out a sign and said, "There's a Su--- er, nevermind." They were all curious about what I was going to say because I was hysterically laughing. I finally told them that I saw a subway sign. In St. Louis, that means a sandwich shop. I defended myself by pointing out that I was sure I wasn't the only one who has ever made that mistake

My sis and I at the Yankees/Oriole's game. My daughter was sure I'd have trouble with Yankees' fans because I was wearing a Cardinal's shirt. We had no problems, and we saw other fans in Cardinals shirts as well. Smart people.

My daughter and niece at the game.

Jeff and I at the game. I keep wondering what he's looking at on the back of my head.

My niece, sister and daughter sitting on FDR Drive waiting for the fireworks.

Macy's fireworks. My skills as a photographer didn't do them justice.

Being a hometown kind of girl, I will admit to having a soft spot for the fireworks over the Arch. (photo courtesy of St. Louis Post Dispatch)

The fake-purse vendors and other knock-off vendors found us. The final tally:
1 Fooey Viutton
2 Fucci
1 Fake Spade
1 Nada Prada
1 Fake Burberry
1 Foach wallet
1 pair of Fauxley sunglasses

The Nada Prada was the ugliest green purse I've ever seen. My sister bought it. She has a tendancy to buy purses in ugly colors. A number of years ago, she bought a huge hideous fuscia-colored purse. Her husband named the color "pu$$y pink".

As we were buying this stuff in Battery Park, the word went out and other vendors descended on us; it was like a feeding frenzy. Rolexes, more sunglasses, glass cases. We had to run for our lives with that ugly green purse of my sister's flying behind us.

My daughter pointing out dead ducks in Chinatown. Hope Fed doesn't recognize anyone. Um... come to think of it, has anyone seen Federal Duck lately?

Moon over the Chrysler Building? Oddly, no. There was no full moon that night. We think it was a raindrop catching the light. This picture was taken from the Empire State Building.

Central Park. Ahhhhhhhh.

My niece and daughter in the lobby of our hotel as we were leaving to see Spamalot on Broadway.

After holding up that heavy torch and tablet all of these years, Lady Liberty decided to assume a reclining position the day we were there. I don't blame her.

This is the Registry Room at Ellis Island. My daughter's great grandmother on her dad's side went through here with $5.00 in her pocket and 5 young sons at her side. This room could be filled with thousands people waiting to be processed. Can you imagine standing in this room for hours and taking care of 5 young boys?

The girls were a little cramped in the back seat on the way home.

My daughter decided to stretch her legs. I bought odor eaters at the next stop.

On the way home, we stopped for dinner at the Oglebay Inn and Resort in Wheeling, WV. Beautiful scenery and great food.

That was the last picture; but not the end of the trip. We got to the Cincinnati area around 1:00 am and decided we had enough driving. Unfortunately, we had difficulty finding a room at the inn. Of course, we had started our search around Exit 25 off I-71; which is the exit to King Island Theme Park. We eventually did find a room -- just as I was getting ready to call some friends in the area (hi, Lab and BrianB).

And now I'm home. Sadly, while I was gone, elves did not surprise me by getting my things unpacked.

We want to thank Jeff and Jackie for giving us a great tutorial on surviving Manhattan and the subway system; and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting Wurm as well.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

What a Tangled Web We Weave When Trying to Sort Out the Power Cords

Note to friends and family: If I'm inexplicably missing for a period of time, please come check on me at home. I've most likely been strangled by a tangle of power cords.

At the moment, I am unpacking from my recent move and vacation; not a combined activity that I would recommend. While engaged in these activities, it has come to my attention that my world has suddenly become ensnarled by power cords. For my trip, I had my suitcase for clothes, my bag for toiletries and makeup, my laptop, a bag inside my purse that holds my camera, cellphone, iPod and Palm Pilot (large purse). Just for those four items, I needed another bag for the powercords. Oh yes, and then there's the suitcase for my shoes, but that's another story for another day.

While getting ready for the move, I threw away a boxful of unidentifiable power cords. Most likely they went to long forgotten Ataris, Nintendos, Gameboys and cellphones. As I sit in my living room surveying the jumble of partially unpacked boxes, I see power cords dangling outside of several of the boxes. There are cords for telephones, various computer equipment, audio/video equipment and some that are still unidentifiable but seemed a waste to pitch them. And amazingly, very few of them can be used for multiple pieces of equipment. And if they DO fit, there are the dire warnings to not use a power cord from another source as it could damage the item. I don't know whether or not that's true and don't want to risk the expense of being wrong should I conduct an experiment to find out.

As it is, my new home is too old for all of the electrical needs I have. In my room I already have outlets claimed by the TV, DVD player, telephone, DSL equipment, computer equipment, clock radio and lamp.

The living room has lamps, TV/CD/DVD equipment and a phone that I thought was acting strangely. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. It occurred to me that it only worked when the lamp was on. It turns out that it was plugged into the same outlet as the lamp and that outlet is operated by a lightswitch on the wall. Oddly, that is the outlet that is closest to that phone jack.

Because most of the outlets are already in use, it's somewhat challenging to recharge some of my battery powered equipment. At the moment, my camera is recharging in the hallway, my cellphone is in my daughter's room, the PalmPilot is perched on the bathroom sink while it charges up and my iPod is recharging in the kitchen.

I do have powerstrips, but they require a three prong outlet, and there are some issues there as only two of my outlets are fixed for three-prong plugs. Plus, it seems the makers of the powerstrips haven't caught up with technology themselves. The holes are too close together on some of them. A power strip that should hold 6 plugs actually holds three because most powercords have plugs that are about two inches wide.

Wow, that's a lot of electricity. It wouldn't be surprising at all to find out that the real reason for the power outage a year or so ago in the northeast was due to someone recharging all of their electronic equipment.

The vacation from which I just returned was a trip to New York City with my daughter, sister and niece. We all shared a room, and had about the same amount of re-chargeable equipment, which necessitated a schedule for recharging.

There was a brief scare, on my part, when it looked as though I had left behind the powercord for my PalmPilot. When I attempted to use the cord that I thought fit it, I was suprised to see that it was labeled "Black & Decker."

Oh, and speaking of tools; sadly, I lost a shoe on the trip. A beloved Liz sandal, which will be greatly missed.

Services will be private.

But the Rent Check Cleared

One of my favorite parts of going on vacation is going back home, entering the door for the first time in a week or so. Having lived in this house for just 8 days before leaving on vacation, I still had that same sense of anticipation. True, I was kind of hoping elves had come in while I was gone and had unpacked everything. Additionally, since Meghan had left to work in the Adirondacks before I moved, this was her first time seeing the new place since the move.

Imagine our frustration when we couldn't get into the house. In my desire to ensure burglars couldn't get in while we were gone, I somehow ensured we couldn't get in, either. As we went from door to door, unsuccessfully trying each one, Meghan was beginning to doubt we actually lived here.

The front and side doors were locked with dead bolts that could ony be opened from the inside. I also locked the garage door. I had left through the back basement door, and that is how I expected to re-enter. For some reason, that door will not open. I was able to open the door to the garage on the other side of the duplex. They obviously aren't as careful (paranoid?) as I. We were able to get in to the house from the neighbor's garage.

BUT, I still can't open the basement door, and it took quite some time to get the garage door opened, even after it was unlocked. While we were gone, the landlord had painted the doors and apparently, painted them shut. Finally, with both Meghan and I working at it, the garage door opened.

But now I have to worry about the weak link in the chain; my neighbor's garage door. But if they did lock their garage door, then I could potentially be in big trouble.