Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I Feel Rich

I was so busy telling you about my exciting, home-renovation-filled Monday that I neglected to regale you with the tale of our car crisis the day before. You see, on Sunday, Rachel and I were heading out to Costco to get her new glasses (this actually took 2 tries, because apparently it is customary to bring one's eyeglass prescription along when attempting this task - who knew?); but when we got to my minivan....

Remember? The 8-year-old minivan I chose to keep, so Larry could get the new car, just a few short weeks ago... key fob wasn't opening the electric sliding doors. And neither were the buttons inside the car. We had to push the doors open slo-o-owly. By hand. I know, first-world problem, but still.

Random yarn picture, because prettier than cars
"Was this happening yesterday?" I asked Rachel. Larry had used the van Saturday to transport a bunch of Civil Air Patrol cadets to a weekend workshop.

"Oh, yeah, we were opening them this way the whole time!" she said.

Nice of them to let me know...

So I spent the ENTIRE DAY worrying about the minivan and Googling repair costs and kicking myself for not handing Larry the old minivan and getting myself a new one while I had the chance (hey, Larry doesn't have to load and unload kids a zillion times a week. He'd probably NEVER use the sliding doors). I was reading quotes as high as $2000 a door, because apparently the cable eventually frays and somehow that wears out the motor, and I don't even know what I am talking about here, but hey, $4000.

And now I can buy more yarn...

Still, odd that both doors went at once, right? Right.

Somewhere along evening, I read that, if the electric isn't working, it's easier to manually open the doors if you set the master power door button to Off. So I went outside to fix this master power door button that I didn't even know existed - you know, the one down below and to the left of the steering wheel? Where maybe Larry's knee could inadvertently hit it?

Yup, it was already off. And that's how I saved $4000 on Sunday.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


It was a Parcheesi kind of day today, while Larry was busy destroying our basement (more on that below) and the contractor was hammering away upstairs in our dismantled master bathroom. I taught Susie how to play and we whiled away a couple of hours, whilst Larry hauled wheelbarrow loads of torn-up drywall out to the pickup truck he rented from Home Depot and then drove it all to the dump. I think we all can agree that Larry sure knows how to spend a holiday weekend.

It was also a play-with-your-yarn sort of day - when I wasn't torturing Susie with old-fashioned board games, I was busy photographing my yarn and adding it to my Ravelry stash. Susie saw me taking pictures of my recent yarn purchases and said, "Why are you doing that? That is really silly." But I think she's just mad I won at Parcheesi.

I also organized all my leftover sock yarn and started using it to knit a lap blanket. Those of you who do not play with fiber may not realize that knitters consider both of these activities to be a lot of fun. They are also useful if you are trying to ignore the fact that your husband is busy wrecking your house again.

Rachel decided to destroy my resolution to start eating healthy again (mostly because all the New Year's party candy is gone, but still) by baking a batch of vanilla scones and slathering them with butter. She says she just needed a break from homework, but I know better. She has it in for me.

They were delicious.

Our renovation crisis du jour: our bathroom contractor opened the box holding the shower head and handle-turny-thingy (I'm trying not to get too technical here) that Larry and I had already wasted an hour of our lives on (selecting and ordering it at Lowes was no mean feat) and discovered something was missing. "Where's the valve?" he asked, for all the world as if he believed I knew something, anything, about plumbing.

"What?" I said.

"This is just a kit," he said. "Where's the valve?"

"You mean the handle?" I asked. "The thing that turns off and on?"

"No, the valve," he said, waving the apparently deficient shower head around as he tried to explain. "The VALVE. Where is it?"

"Um, not here?" I guessed.

So I ended up running out to Home Depot to buy a whole new showerhead/handle-turny-thingy with valve. I mean, first I tried to find just a valve, all by itself, but the salespeople looked at me as if I had 3 heads. "That's special order," they said.

That gold thingy up there, on the left - that's a valve

They have an entire section called plumbing, full of things I don't even recognize, and none of them was a valve. Go figure.

Just the beginning...
And, last but not least, Larry commenced the basement demolition today, as part of his ongoing effort to insulate our entire house.

Oh, wow, that link reminded me: it was exactly 2 years ago that he ripped all the walls out of our living room and dining room! Good times, people, good times...

He also had the roofing guy by, to look at a vent pipe that may or may not have caused our bathroom ceiling to start dripping again, and Andy was also here, fixing said bathroom ceiling. So now maybe you can better understand why today seemed like the perfect time to bury my head in yarn and eat my weight in baked goods today.  Let ye who is without sin cast the first scone...

Saturday, January 14, 2017

On The Road

So, I came across this blog post about a week ago - you've probably seen it shared on Facebook, all about traveling across the US via Amtrak for only $213. In reality, it's about double that, if you want to get on and off the train at all; but the idea captured my imagination, big time. I mean, I have never seen the Rockies, I've never seen the prairie, I've never even been to Chicago. Susie is 11, which means that she still enjoys spending time with me (I know, that won't last) AND she is half-price on Amtrak for another few months.

Have I mentioned how much I love train stations?

So a plan was born: Susie and I (Rachel is also invited, but only if she doesn't glare at us) would get 15-day Amtrak rail passes, good for 8 stops anywhere in the US. We are planning to sleep primarily on the train, to keep things simple and costs low, with maybe a stay at a hostel in San Francisco thrown in there to mix things up.

We've spent a lot of time poring over this thing.

We are very excited (do you realize how much knitting I could get done on a cross-country train ride?). But here is where you come in: I need suggestions on what touristy things to see if I have, say, 12 hours to spend in a particular city. Fun sights, yarn stores, independent booksellers, iconic local food we have to try, did I mention yarn stores?  We're looking at Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, for starters. But we are open to other suggestions!

Also, we researched how long train rides between all these cities would take. You know what? This is a REALLY BIG country.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

I'm Not Even Going To Bother Titling This

Really? NO ONE was impressed by my post title yesterday? I was so darn proud of myself.

So, earlier this month, Theo spent a week with us on his way back from the Sinai before heading to Ft. Bragg. As is his wont, he brought his parents and siblings gifts from overseas.

We know what that means, right? It means that there are a couple of newcomers to what has become a considerable collection of camels.

Sandstone on the left, and I guess plastic on the right

These fine specimens join their fellows, featured on this blog a good 2 years ago:

Wooden ones, from Tunisia

I forget where this guy comes from

Leather, from Morocco

The saddles open up on these

Also, and totally unrelated, I thought that this was the year I had actually managed to pack up ALL the Christmas tchotchkes without leaving any behind. Alas, as usual, I was wrong. While I was cleaning up before history class this afternoon, I discovered these lovelies hiding on my dining room hutch:

A pair of left-behind candle holders

What's annoying is that we haven't used these in years, because I keep forgetting to get candles for them. And even if I did get candles for them, we probably wouldn't use them much, as I am terrified of open flames around children. The whole time they'd be lit, I would be shouting "Watch out!" and waiting for someone's hair to catch fire.

I'm a lot of fun.

So the question is, should I let these things knock around the house the entire year (as the Matryoshka Santa did all last year) or should I just give them away to someone who is less pyrophobic than I am? I can't decide.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Talking 'Bout My Renovation

Currently we have the bathroom contractor AND our handyman showing up at the house bright and early every morning. This means I have to be up, showered, and dressed before 7:30. Now, I know that most of you think that isn't that early, and really, I am usually awake and up by 7:15. But the pressure of HAVING to be up and completely dressed is a bit much for me, hardened SAHM that I am.

Yeah, I AM spoiled. What of it?

So, anyway, today I overslept until 7:10. I dashed around like a madwoman and managed to be presentable by the time our contractor walked in the door. He looked like hell. "I'm so sick," he said, standing in my hallway and breathing into my air. "I went home yesterday from here, took some Nyquil, and went straight to bed."

"Well," I said, drawing my scarf over my face, "feel free to go! No rush on that bathroom - we can wait!"

"No, no," he said, "there are a few things I can do today. I'll just work as long as I'm able," and then he headed upstairs to sneeze and cough in my master bedroom for a few hours. He even invited me up there to stand in the tiny gutted bathroom with his virus-ridden self and discuss where to place the medicine cabinet and the lights.

I am so doomed.

In the meantime, our handyman Andy was working downstairs, peeling wallpaper off the few walls Larry isn't planning to tear out. He was there for hours, and I swear it felt like old times, with his tunes blaring away in the basement and Susie running into the den to announce, "That's Andy music!"

See these doors? They took away at least 10 hours of my life.

I spent most of my day purchasing the proper shower doors (and returning the wrong ones we ordered last week), because spending plenty of money every single day is paramount when home renovations are afoot. I'm getting pretty darn good at it, too. At this point, whenever a college brochure shows up in the mail addressed to Brian, we replace it with pamphlets from the tile place or the snooty bathroom furnishings store. You know, just so he knows where the college money is actually going...

Mine, all mine!

And I am ending this post with a picture of the absolutely gorgeous fingerless mitts and Sockhead Slouch Hat that I received at our yarn group's Christmas Yankee Swap tonight. (We were all too busy knitting presents in December to have time for a party then.) I love these with a passion, because - even though I knit many pairs of fingerless mitts a year and even a few hats - I don't seem to actually own any of either.

Also, they look way better than any of the ones I make. True story.


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