Saturday, October 30, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
With his special skills in catnapping, light sleeping, drowsing, and snoozing, Franc is uniquely qualified to offer your furniture the Franc "Fattycakes" Kovach seal of approval. Seeing how completely he relaxes on our couches makes me (jealous that I work full time to support his habit) confidant I bought the right stuff.
In unrelated news, there are still backpacking pictures forthcoming. Our internet was down for a while, and we've had some other projects to tackle.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
- Check the weather. Pay attention to the percent chance of precipitation each day.
- Add those percentages. In our case: 30% Saturday + 40% Sunday + 30% Monday = 100%
- Multiply by three. From our formula, we now know that there is a 300% chance of thunderstorms over the weekend.
- Pack accordingly - and with a 300% chance of rain, bring your best attitude.
Abe was the one who bought the duck's back covers for our packs, the one who wouldn't negotiate leaving the tarp at home, and the one who told me "you need rain pants!" and came home with a child's pair that's still too long. And he was right.
(Pictures to come.)
Friday, June 11, 2010
Now, my top priorities are:
- Nap on the sofa.
- Nap on the armchair.
- Nap on the loveseat.
- Oh, yeah. Going to work.
Friday, May 28, 2010
- We bought a house -
- that came with not just a mortgage. We also got an outdated electrical system and several truckloads of furniture to get rid of.
- We put in the garden!
- which grew weeds much bigger and tougher than me.
- The cats got comfortable in their new home
- by getting sick, sick, sick.
- We planned to go furniture shopping,
- but my car broke down.
Sometimes I feel like there's an expectation that I should be clever here, but lately I've just not felt clever. So today I decided that's okay, and this is my blog, and I'll cry if I want to.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
And tomorrow is closing!
So you understand, then, that I am much too busy to blog. Unlike Franc, I'm not quite ready for the big move.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I wanted to stay there. I wanted to stay so that I could look at things like lawn mowers and flooring and cabinet hardware. We even looked at boards for our raised bed garden, and for a while. (Until I said. "Okay, I'm 'board.'" Because I am always that clever.)
So, please! Come to visit us in our new home. I'll take you on exciting outings to my favorite home improvement stores, and we can have lively debate about the merits of a 32" versus 48" cut. Or, you know. Not.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
My new summer goal is to have a reason to unpack that box, which I labelled "tiny clothes." (Kina, our girl cat, loves to sit on my tiny clothes box, like she's saying "I'm tiny, so these are mine. In fact, everything is mine, because I am in charge.") This means refusing the rice krispy treats, birthday cakes, and corn dogs that are served at work, and remembering two good reasons why I don't keep those things around my own house: they are not healthy, and they make my clothes so very tiny.
Speaking of what I am becoming, my hair is growing out of control. Today when I got out of the shower, I looked like a female, lighter-haired John Travolta - but without the leather jacket, because who wears leather in the shower? Crazy folk, that's who.
A seventeen hour trip to Asheville later, and voila! A little silver rabbit to call our own.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Only eleven days until we have a house of our very own! As you might expect, if you know us, Abe has been busy packing, I have been busy crafting "we've moved" postcards, and Franc has been busy eating our cardboard boxes. Kina has found more and more creative places to hide for the secret naps she likes to take, and is possibly more neurotic than usual: she stands at the door and meows for 15 minutes at a time, like she's afraid we'll leave her behind, so she wants to get a head start moving to our new house.
You are all welcome to come visit; please bring house plants.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
- dirt all over your house
- dirt all over your cats
- lopsided seed flats (I would be lopsided too, if Franc sat on me all day.)
- a lean harvest
Sunday, March 28, 2010
I had hoped to have rows and rows of tiny plants to show you. But the hard truth is that without a professional photographer (cough -Ben- cough) or a camera with a microscope to work visual magic, a seed doesn't do anything to brag about in just three days. I admit that I ran out of time/became too lazy after planting all those peppers to change my craft at the last minute. So this week, we have pictures only thanks to my parents, who let me dig random holes in their yard with very little notice.
Let me introduce the final craft of the National Month for them, just in time for your own spring seedlings:*
1. Pottery shards are perfect to label your herbs and veggies. (If you don't have any broken pots, I recommend Goodwill, or our cats would be happy to come over to break some for you.)
2. Find some children to collect flat rocks for you. Wash them thoroughly, and then use paint or markers to decorate them and mark them with veggie names. Use a couple coats of polyurethane or clear spray paint to seal.
3. For artsy garden markers, raid your local thrift shop for old silverware. Find some with cool, mismatched handles, and write your labels with a sharpie on the metal. In scientific testing I performed, permanent marker holds up to water but not hard scrubbing, so you should be able to reuse your cutlery again and again. (Good. I don't know how to grow mulch.)
4. Use scissors to cut the top and bottom off of an aluminum soda or beer can. Cut the can into strips. You can either cut these into regular-shaped garden markers (rounded on one side, pointy on the other), or you can create whatever shape you want, hole punch it, and hang it with wire.
5. Oh, your cats also chewed and destroyed your blinds? Before you throw them away, salvage what you can! Scissors and a permanent marker will make these into perfect plant markers.
*Did I intend to photograph all of them? I did, until I remembered that my blog photographer returned to Haiti and anyway, haven't your imaginations been dormant all winter? And gotten flabby?
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
It was Sunday night, and we had an online meeting with our realtor. We were tired, so we took the laptop into the bedroom and sat on the bed. We logged in to his meeting program, and watched his mouse all over the screen as we talked through details of an offer we were making on a property. I was sitting with one leg tucked beneath me, and realized my foot was falling asleep. I leaned back to move my leg, and fell out of bed.
Online meetings are hazardous.
We had some paperwork to take to the bank regarding our home loan. I remembered to take my W2's from 2008, my last pay stub, and even my glasses. We pulled up at the bank, parked, and walked in. I don't remember who noticed first, Abe or I. "That's weird. They must have redecorated." I turned around, looking for something familiar. "Abe. We're in the wrong bank."
Someone had already approached us. "Welcome to Wachovia!" We made a hasty retreat, got back in the car, and drove 25 feet to the bank we intended.
Buying a house has made me obsessed with home decorating magazines. At work, we have about 8 months of old 'Better Homes and Gardens' magazines (which should come with a warning: These products and remodels cost more than the home you're buying, Karen. Put the magazine down.). I have read all of them.
In August 2009, I came across this idiotic tip (p. 83). "A teacup or dipping bowl makes a pretty organizer on a desk, dresser, or nightstand. Check your cupboards - even a small, ceramic pet-food dish you no longer use can work." Clearly, the person with that idea has never met a pet, or at least has never met pets like mine. Given half a chance, Franc and Kina will chew the tops off the q-tips, the elastics for my hair, and the rubber bands we keep in the kitchen. Pets don't need an invitation - like putting it in their bowl - to eat your stuff. And unless you plan to spend your money on the interior of your cat, instead of your home, I suggest you organize your office supplies in a container with a lid.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
- a pair of gloves
- needle & thread
- three buttons
- stuffing (skip the craft store and buy yourself a $0.99 throw pillow at Goodwill. A single pillow still half-stuffed in the closet has so far supplied the insides for this little pup here and a whole flock of birds)
- Martha Stewart's free "Glove Animal" pattern: download here! There are also instructions for a rabbit, so if you get started soon, you could have a bunny in time for Easter.
The collar fastens with a hook and eye, like so:
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Pajama pants are great for all kinds of activities, like sleeping, yoga (for bonus points, make a matching bag for your yoga mat!), washing dishes, baking, surviving an earthquake, walking the cat.... If you don't already have a pair, you should make one. Or four. I made four.
With all that experience, I can tell you that the fabric for pj pants is great. I chose cotton flannels, and made a navy pair with little mooses, one with a blue cowboy theme, a pair with a hilarious print of bears, tents, and camping equipment, and one in a beautiful beige and tan plaid. Check out all the cotton flannels, and find something with a sense of humor.
Everyone makes pajama pants patterns - except maybe Vogue. I bought Simplicity 2541, because it comes with men and women's versions of the pattern, and includes pieces for a pajama shirt -- that, come to think of it, I am 99% sure I'll never use. But it seemed cost effective at the time.
The pattern is very easy to follow, and produces a great pair of harem pajamas if you don't cut down the length above the crotch by an inch or two... or probably three, for a woman's pair. (Seriously, this pattern is long in the crotch to pigeon-smuggling proportions.) Don't forget to add the length back at the bottom of the leg when you cut, or you'll end up with pajama capris.
I'm fresh out of clever things to say about this project, so get thee to a sewing machine to earn yourself a nap and the pants to do it in.
Monday, March 8, 2010
- Sedation. This will work best if there's some for you and some for the cat.
- A trip to your local Petco, so-named because you will go co-mpletely crazy before you leave... with $30 worth of organic cat shampoo, pet nail clippers, and useless toys that will interest your kitty less than an empty cereal box or toilet paper roll. That is if you're strong. The weak leave Petco with catnip "candies," perfumed body mists for pets, plug-ins for their homes that periodically release chemicals "calming" for cats, and homeopathic concoctions to slip in a cat's water to treat their "nerves." I think there's a special place for people who give roofies to their animals, and it's called the nut house. Although, let me get some... [See 'Things You May Need, #1.]
- At least two sets of hands
- At least two sets of towels
- Divine intervention
Use the expensive grooming tool you may have bought at your recent trip to Petco (or a cheap comb for people) to brush your pet as best you can. The hair you pull out now is hair that you won't have to clean out of your tub, so spend some time on this.
And then introduce your pet to the water. Don't forget your pet's inner Goldilocks - the water should be neither too hot nor too cold; it must be just right. Also, at this time put both sets of hands to good use.
Your heart may break halfway through the bath, when you see your pet reduced to a dripping, scrawny, broken-spirited thing. DO NOT LOOSEN YOUR GRIP. That is when they will suddenly extend a paw, grip the edge of the tub with the strength of 1000 men, and bolt free. At that point, you should give up washing the cat, and start washing your bathroom, which will somehow be messier than the kitty was to begin with.
I suggest using some kind of cup for rinsing - fill with bath water, then pour - rather than trying to force a live cat under running water, if you value your life. And speak in a soothing voice! It's nice for your cat and stress level. Then when your cat is rinsed, get ready with the towels!
Once you have your sopping wet cat bundled up, find someplace warm to sit, and soak it in. Literally, the water from the cat will come through the towel into your clothes. Figuratively, you should enjoy the moment. Change out the towel if you have to. Unless your cat is afraid of your blow dryer (Franc), you can use it on a low-setting to help them dry out faster.
I can testify that in the end, spring cleaning your pets is well worth all the effort, because what is nicer than a soft, frizzy, sleepy cat that smells like papaya pet shampoo? Maybe nothing.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
So to make up for Hallmark's amazing lapse, here on my super blog, I declare "Make It! March." Every Sunday this month, you can look forward to a featured craft. Or if you don't craft, you can at least look forward to consistent posting -- here for the first time ever! Either way, please get excited.
And welcome to this week's Yoga Edition, in which you will learn how to make Amy Butler's 'Nigella' Yoga bag, only better. This clever bag has three pockets - big enough for a water bottle and deep enough not to lose your keys.
Even if I'm the only person has ever dropped their yoga mat in a wet parking lot and watched it unroll into the mud, internet searches show that I'm not the only one who loves a bag for their yoga mat. Now look away from those bags, some of which are more awesome and less expensive than I expected! Because you can easily make your own custom bag, give it to your sister for Christmas, and wish you had kept it for yourself.
1. Get the pattern for free. (If you click, it will come! ...and as a pdf.)
2. Fabric shop. I used an outdoor decorating fabric (water resistant!), so it was sturdy enough to skip interfacing, and should hold up well in Haiti, where it went to live with Alexis. For the lining, after looking at every scrap of cloth in the store, I chose a simple light cotton with perfect tiny polka dots.
3. Read through the directions, and realize the pattern is borderline crazy, because it doesn't close at the top (they cleverly don't show that in the picture). But don't lose heart! You can decide that a yoga mat bag should really close at the top,** and just buy a little extra fabric. 1.5 yards for the exterior and 1 yard (+) for the lining will probably do it. Also, buy cord for a drawstring and a cord stop.
4. Get busy! Follow the pattern, except instead of creating a wide open yoga mat tube by sewing a hem at the top, cut the main pieces longer by several inches, and sew a "pocket" for your drawstring. Make sure you leave an opening to thread the cord through!
5. Take credit. I highly recommend the use of a cheesy "Specially handmade by..." label, so that everyone will know how clever and crafty you are, and you can have bragging rights in yoga class. Very zen.
* Did I suddenly become a talented photographer?! Unfortunately not. Credit goes to Ben Depp for the pictures. Honk if you think he should quit his day job to become my personal, full-time blog photographer!
** Dear Alexis, you had better be using the full length of this bag in order to show everyone the clever drawstring closure. Otherwise, I may be forced to come to Haiti and extradite your bag to my own closet.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
As much as those events totally sucked, it was my reactions to them that made this week so rough. I realize that I haven't acted like I believe in a God who promises helping grace (Hebrews 4:16) and kindness and mercy (Ephesians 2:4-7). And I'm not sure I've really believed in a loving God since the earthquake in Haiti (where my sister and her husband live). In church the week after the earthquake, I cried instead of singing. All around me, people were lifting their hands to a song that praised God for being powerful enough to move the mountains. The only thing I could think of were the people crushed under weight of those mountains when the earthquake hit. And then they sang "Blessed be the name of the Lord," and I cried out in my heart, because I don't know how to choose to bless God's name when he takes away everything.
I hope that God will teach me.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Well, screw you, car thief. Go to jail.
*Abe insists that I tell you his car was called Green Jellybean. Sorry, Ben, I know you probably find that humiliating.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Then they had the nerve to host a Mary Kay makeover party at work for the residents. Mary Kay told us that after twenty, we should be using a whole new kind cleansers and moisturizers. She recommended one called TimeWise. Are you serious?
Then at the maternity home I'm surrounded by girls born in the mid-nineties who are pregnant. They should have thought about unintended consequences, like chlamydia and making me feel old, before they jumped in bed with their older boyfriends.
* * * * *
Speaking of old, we're putting in an offer on a house that's older than me no matter what I look like. See, it's the cutest house ever featured on this blog, and I'm prematurely showing the internet as if it's mine! As I type, Abe is faxing the offer to our realtor, and I am getting carpel tunnel trying to keep all my fingers crossed and hit the right keys at the same time. It was built in 1926 close enough to my work that I'll be able to walk. Like it knew I was coming, all those years ago. Once it's ours (God, please oh please oh please!), you're welcome to come over to help us clean up the yard, replace the siding, polish the hardwoods, and finish the kitchen.
There's a voice in my head that tells me I'll be paying for this house until I'm as old as my clients think I am. I want to find that voice and make it eat wrinkle cream.
* * * * *
Yesterday I hit my ultimate Goodwill jackpot. I kept finding these beautiful high-waisted vintage wool skirts *with pockets *in my size.... which, I was alarmed to learn, was apparently a "10" back in the day. Anyway, some other 10-sized person had clearly just cleaned out their closet for my benefit - every single pocket had a neatly folded tissue in it. Gross? Maybe a little. I bought them all anyway.
* * * * *
Today I went to a workout class for the first time since um, Christmas...ish (making that size 10 come true!). The instructor seemed to have me confused with bionic man. "Only one more! Push it!" One more? I was already in the fetal position. She told us all to get a set of heavier weights, and a set of lighter weights, but that was a trick so we wouldn't walk out. We never used the lighter weights. She seemed to have control of time itself so that there were always ten more minutes - enough to do just one more exercise! Every time she said, "one more set!" I died a little inside. And if you were wondering why this is such a long blog post, it's because I don't think I can stand up.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Scary Cat has a meow so scary that I'm positive it means "I will slaughter you and your little cats too." His hair is falling out, and he is a little pathetic, like Arthur "Boo" Radley. (Incidentally "boo radley" is what we say in our house when we want to say "#%*#&." Abe started it, I think, which I love, because it's the first literary reference I ever heard him make, unless you count The Book of Bunny Suicides.)
I feel toward Scary Cat the way that I feel toward other unfortunate things that are outside of my control - a homeless man panhandling by the corner, children going to bed hungry, people wearing ugg boots or tights as pants. Those feelings, plus frightened.
Scary Cat used to run away when he saw me coming. He would meow his murderous "MEOWWWRRRR," glare at me, and run away. Today, I got out of my car carrying 100 groceries, and headed up the sidewalk. Scary Cat followed me. More like, hunted me. He crouched down low, and ran quickly. So I ran too. I thought I was safe for a second. When I hit the "lock" button and my car beeped, Scary Cat stopped for a second, startled... but only for a second. I am sort of ashamed to say that Scary Cat chased me up three flights of stairs, and is now crouched, waiting to kill me, outside of our apartment.
In French - or at least, in Cameroon - they have a word for these situations. It is "moeuf" (pronounced like "boeuf,"* meaning "get the boo radley out of here"), said loudly and rudely, usually thrown in the direction of a mangy street dog, sometimes along with a sharp kick to the animal's ribs. I always felt bad for the dog... until today. I wanted to "moeuf" Scary Cat all the way down the stairs, but it turns out American cats aren't familiar with the term.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Tonight, a volunteer group came to NYMMH to throw a party for our residents who've recently celebrated birthdays. They made jewelry, ate cupcakes, spilled juice everywhere, and had a truly talented balloon artist who made elaborate balloon hats, animals, and weapons (don't ask me, I didn't hire him. Also, a number of small boys were demanding swords).
All in all, it was a good time. And then, one of my residents motioned me over. With this woman, everything is an emergency, so I was sure she was going to tell me she needed to use the phone, or had to have a tylenol. Instead, she motioned me closer. "Ms. Karen, the balloon man keeps looking at your butt."
Sunday, January 10, 2010
We also have Abe's cold and a trial subscription to Netflix, so we've holed up most of the weekend. If you haven't already, I recommend you watch Food, Inc. Please clean your pantry and refrigerator first, though, or you may end up throwing away a lot of industrially-produced, over-processed foods, and then go broke at the nearest EarthFare or farmer's market.
I may now be a vegetarian, except for corn. No corn.
Also, we looked at houses today. Here are my two best stories: (1) One house had a pet door in the garage that I peeped in, until I realized there could be an oppossum in there, waiting to bite me. So I made Abe look. (2) Another house had all the windows broken, most importantly the window on the ground floor in the back. If I were only a tiny bit stupider, I would have climbed in for a convenient showing. But I was afraid of being arrested, meeting an opposum, or bleeding on my new carpet.
Here's what I think of house hunting so far: (1) If you're thinking about buying, first go to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home. It's got lots of good advice, and also anecdotal accounts of other peoples' experiences, which is almost as good as pictures. (2) Are we there yet? There are so many steps! We need to find out if someone will even give us a mortgage, for one thing (does it count against us that when they trusted us with cats, we almost let one die by an earplug overdose?). And we need to find out if all of the houses in Charlotte for sale are a good deal, with a good yard, in a good neighborhood, with a good pet door that will keep out oppossums. Maybe I should make a spreadsheet for that.