Gracie having asthma put me into cleaning mode (and okay, my allergies have been acting up lately, too, so I did it for both of us). I did the normal dusting routine, but I also decided to go one step further and do the one task I dread most... taking all the leaves off the fake ficus and wiping them down with a cloth. It needed to be done... it was nasty. I tried the shortcut of putting them in a bag with salt and shaking it all around... but it didn't work very well, even in small batches... maybe it was supposed to be rice instead of salt... I dunno. So I just finished putting my tree back together. It looks a lot better now.

The pet piller worked just as well the second time as it did the first. I'm in love with that thing. And Gracie only coughed once today so the medicine seems to be doing its thing. Or maybe it's because I vacuumed behind the bed, and under the bedside table, where she hides. In any case, I'm a happy camper. I love my kitty insanely and don't like her to be sick.

Tomorrow I'm cooking for mom and dad, and maybe their neighbor, who is a cool guy that is pretty much a part of the family. When my parents eventually retire, and if they end up relocating, I half expect them to all end up in the same place. It would almost seem weird if they didn't. Anyway, my parents usually treat when we go to lunch on Sundays, so every once in a while I cook lunch for them because they won't let me treat otherwise, and it's my way of showing my appreciation (and sometimes expanding their culinary horizons). So today I went to the grocery store to buy steaks and shrimp, and I feel like I got a great deal - I bought a multi-pack of about 6 steaks, and my discount card saved me around $23. *smile* I'm going to cook some of Pioneer Woman's recipes: bacon cheddar biscuits, grilled steaks with bleu cheese sauce, and potato bundles. They all look soooooo yummy. And mom is bringing a cobbler for dessert. Oh lordy... I already feel miserable, lol.

Spent a couple of hours clipping coupons and watching werewolf movies on SyFy (the new bloody UPN) but spent most of the day cleaning and doing chores... one of those weekends. It was raining most of the day and I had the windows open with a candle lit, it was really nice.

I need to get my eBay clothes, patterns, and fabric out so I can photograph them to sell. It's ridiculous that I bought all that crap and now it's just sitting in my closet taking up space. I know now that I'm not going to sew on a regular basis, certainly not enough to attempt some of the amazing patterns I had to have. And the fabric I bought... very little of it is anything I can use. Problem is that I don't know what kind of fabric it is, so I'm going to have to put together bundles of color I think. The clothes? Some of them don't fit me because they're too big, or I just never wore them for one reason or another. I could donate them, but I need the money (and I'm sure some of it will still end up being donated).

I procrastinate a lot. If I get started I'm almost obsessive about completing a task, but until then... I don't even know why it is. Sometimes my excuse is that it's a workday and I won't have enough time, which is bullshit. There's plenty of time left in the day when I get home. I've somehow latched onto the idea that I can't do anything on a weekday. I need to get over that.

My electric bill has delayed my foray into lotion making because it was outrageous this month... I don't know how I can have new energy efficient windows, a new A/C, new appliances, and end up with a HIGHER electric bill. It just doesn't compute. And the days of having your meter checked for free are over, I think my provider said it would be $65 if I wanted them to check it. That's another reason I enjoyed today... I didn't run the A/C at all.

Oh well.
I really need some. I usually fall asleep with the television on, but last night there was a thunderstorm, so I turned the tv off because I wanted to hear the rain. The last time I looked at the clock, it was after two... my mind wouldn't shut down... that's why the tv stays on. Today Kristy's a sleepy girl who talks about herself in third person... that can't be good...

If it wasn't such an icky job, I would become a plumber. Twenty minutes... two guys... $140 (goodbye Oklahoma City, I miss you already). But both my toilets flush a lot faster, and no water comes out what I will now refer to by its semi-correct name - the cleanout something-or-other. Even the water from the bathtub drains more quickly. And I just got a call from the plumber. He usually he comes out himself, this time two of his helpers came out instead... he said next time it happens I should call the city, because the clog was near the main and it would be their responsibility to fix it... and they'll repair it, not just clean it out... for free. I appreciate his honesty, that's why I continue to use him.

I finally went next door and checked out the flipper house. I wish I had seen it before he started so I could make a true comparison, but I have to say, it looks really good. He's painted all the walls, remodeled both bathrooms and the kitchen (only thing I would change is to put a bigger bathtub in, cuz I luvs me some bubble baths and those tiny little ones just don't cut it), put in new windows and doors, and new fixtures. I really like the doors they added... they installed a back door to replace the side door, they walled up the side door so they have more wall space, and they replaced the windows that face the courtyard with a sliding glass door - which makes a hell of a lot more sense. They treated for termites, repaired the foundation, redid part of the ceiling where there was water damage, poured patios and repaired holes in the drywall, and next week they're going to put in the flooring. It looks downright homey, but good gravy that's a ton of work!

He also said there were mice everywhere when they first went in, so I correctly guessed where my two houseguests came from last winter. Luckily I have a cat who rid me of the problem before it became a problem. Two mice, two days... one dead mousey and one lucky one that I took pity on and tossed out the door on the condition that he tell his friends to stay the hell away from my house... seems to have worked. They were cute... but they were mice.

The contractor is such a nice guy. He's Brazilian and has been doing remodels since he was nine years old (with his dad). He offered to show me some of the other houses he's working on, apparently he works for these people regularly; after this house he has another one to work on. I don't know if I'll take him up on the offer... he's nice, but I don't know him so I don't trust him, and in all seriousness, looking at pretty new houses always makes me dissatisfied with what I have... even though I love my house, despite all the damn money it's cost me this year... Guess it depends on where the houses are.

He told me I should have about 5 years left on my roof, and gave me a couple of tips to help prolong it. He was going to give me a huge bucket of paint that he didn't use, and said when he went onto the roof tomorrow, he'd clean mine off where the pine needles have collected. If he follows through, he will have already done more for me than any of my ex-boyfriends... Either I need to flirt my butt off and snag this guy, or I need to keep this in mind next time I get into a relationship... I like it when guys do things for me! I'm the Queen High Mistress of the Universe - I deserve it, right? Right!

Note to Brian -- I didn't realize I had a problem until Sunday when I saw the water coming up from the ground. The gurgling happened once before about a year ago when they were doing something to the water lines, so I figured it might go away on its own after a couple of days . I thought the tank issue was a problem with the seal, not the sewer, because my toilet flushed. I called the plumber a day after I put everything together, so pthbbb -- I didn't exactly wait.
Yesterday I did diddly-squat.

Okay, not true. Not exactly. I made another disappointing recipe out of the Cook Yourself Thin cookbook... so far I've made four recipes... so far all four have sucked. This one actually made me want to vomit... and I'm not kidding.

I ended up surfing the net to find suppliers and information on how to make lotions, bath salts, and bath bomb fizzies. I tend to like scents that aren't readily available mass market, and I like the idea of controlling the ingredients that go into it, so -- if nothing else -- I would like to try it out as a hobby. But I would like it even better if I could turn it into a business. All of those things should have a decent shelf life, and I know there's a market there if you do it right. I'm thinking that if I do pursue it... a lot of people might get lotion for Christmas this year... I'm sorry, but things are tight right now and they'll just have to understand. More on that later. *

Funny thing happened while I was researching, I found several really interesting sites that were completely unrelated... that's how I think the internet contributes to short attention spans and ADD... you never finish anything because you're constantly distracted by other things. Information overload... but some good can come out of it, like that's good stuff...

So, accordingly, I updated my Random Stuff page to add the pages that I really liked, and then I realized categories were beginning to reveal themselves and I reorganized the page to reflect that. Got to check 'sense of accomplishment' off my daily list. J/K.

One really cool website I found was The Simple Dollar. I like the way the guy writes, and the information is helpful, too. I quickly got addicted and spent no less than two hours reading his blogs and following links. Another is a website that my cousin, Beth introduced me to a few years back, Pioneer Woman. She's hilarious, but my favorite part of her website is that she includes yummy recipes, and she takes pictures of each stage in the process so you can see it (and I reiterate that she's hilarious). I want to be her when I grow up. There are a couple of others, but those are my two favorites at the moment. Check out the revamped Random page if you're interested.

So I am, once again, considering the name change to Job. I have a new home repair issue to contend with:

Exhibit# 1 - My toilet tank has been refilling itself on a fairly regular basis for the past month or so. I thought it was a leaky seal and was going to go get a part to fix it... eventually. My spidey senses weren't tingling. They were just mildly irritated at the fact that I would have to make a trip to Home Depot, because I still don't know where they moved to and I suspect it's the hellish high traffic area down the road that's going to cause me a lot of unnecessary stress. I hate playing dodgeball, especially with my car.

Exhibit# 2 - The last couple of weeks there has been a whine coming from my kitchen faucet when I turn it on... I remember that sound calmly being referred to as 'air in the line.' Eh, there wasn't a sense of urgency... it sounded like something that would eventually work itself out. The spidey senses didn't give a crap.

Exhibit# 3 - The last couple of days as the water was draining from my bathtub, there was a horrific, guttural sound originating from my kitchen sink (scary if you're not expecting it and haven't yet identified where it's coming from). Now... my spidey senses are a little freaked out by the gurgling, but they still weren't catching on to the urgency of the situation.

I'm going to sue my spidey senses for negligence. It was all starting to add up but I was oblivious because a few months back they worked on the water lines and some of that same shit happened.

Where it started to get ugly was (Exhibit# 4) when I opened my blinds this morning and saw the water coming up out of the pipe outside my master bedroom. Two things became apparent to me at that point - 1) the toilet had just been flushed, and 2) there was toilet paper on the ground surrounding the puddle that was forming around this geyser... and it was unrelated to the spirited game of pass the plunger we played last weekend.


So I called my insurance company and filed a claim. I'm assuming this has something to do with my foundation repair, and I'm hoping it's covered. It occurred to me to wonder if, since I have three different policies (homeowner's, windstorm and flood), do I also have three deductibles? I've already met my windstorm deductible, so do I also have to meet the homeowner's deductible, too? If the answer if yes, then S of a B... that sucks.

And I think I actually shot my own self in the foot... I stopped donating to charities because I don't have the extra dough, but I did still attempt to do a good deed by starting the coupon exchange, and then this happens... Gawd... can you imagine what would have happened if I had gotten around to volunteering to work with Habitat for Humanity??? Hopefully this link between good deeds and bad luck will fade by the end of the year and I can get back to being a good person again... I really want to eventually do H for H...

So I'm thinking that with the gig having been pushed out a week, and this new development, that's God's way of telling me to forget about Oklahoma. I think it's also his way of telling me to sell all that shit I bought on EBay (and Cook Yourself Thin) last year, back to people on EBay... instead of letting it sit in my closet of shame, unused, gathering dust and guilt.

Or maybe Suze Orman put a whammy on me for not having an emergency fund...

Or maybe should have the house exorcised...

So this is my parting nugget of wisdom... if you don't own a house... if you're thinking it's a good investment... that you get tax breaks... that you build equity... IT'S A LIE, PEOPLE!!! DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE!!! YOU WILL NEVER GET OUT OF IT, WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT, AND WHEN YOU ADD UP EVERYTHING YOU'VE SPENT IT WILL SICKEN YOU!!!

Okay... I feel better now...
The house is clean. At least until the dust settles and the cats shed all over the rugs. It's almost embarassing how accomplished I feel once I've cleaned the house. And how much better it makes me feel. Clutter makes me antsy. I sound obsessive, don't I? I promise you, I'm not. I've pared down in the last few years and that's made it easier for me to give the appearance of order. Cleaning the house pays off quickly because it really doesn't take very long. Just don't look in the closets.

Today I was thinking about the upcoming dinner party. It made me think of my friend Christa, who used to throw the best parties. She made it seem effortless. Whether it was really the case or just the appearance she gave, she didn't seem to sweat the small stuff. The atmosphere was relaxed, the food was delicious and everyone had a good time. Most of the time she'd still be cooking when people arrived, or maybe that was because I always arrived a little early. She helped me grow in more ways than she'll probably ever know. I never had the courage to dance in front of other people until Christa coaxed me onto the dance floor; literally and metaphorically.

I love to cook. I love to have friends over. Unlike Christa, it does make me anxious. I think it's because, until recently, I was too focused on 'the rules.' The way I grew up was... mom invited people over... they showed up... we ate. There was a lot of stress involved in the preparation because everything had to be perfect. I'm trying really hard to break the cycle. To relax. Eventually I'd love to invite people over and still be getting things ready when they show up. Maybe even involve them in the process. I think that cooking with other people is fun. Right now though, I try to have it all done before they arrive, because I don't want them to see me freaking out. I'm getting there. I don't feel the same tension I did about the last dinner party. I'm still a work in progress. Until recently I was so afraid to screw up that I never invited people over at all... not for dinner anyway.

As you can tell, I do a lot of introspection... I like to understand why people act the way they do, even myself... maybe especially myself. Sometimes I worry that it makes me sound pathetic because I admit to all my neuroses, but mostly I think that a lot of people have the same questions, the same hangups, the same doubts, and they appreciate when other people admit to them. I always do, it makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only one.

Yesterday I fell off the wagon. I had two sodas because I thought the carbonation might make me feel better. Being nauseous, I also didn't hop on the treadmill. I did stick to the food part, and being queasy certainly helped me cut calories. Tonight I'm back on the horse, one soda, stuck with the food, and I'm about to hop on the treadmill and burn some calories. Crisis averted. =)
Dropped by the local nursery after work - 50% off, ah how I love those words... even though I realize it's all a scam... I feel like I've been working on the inside of my home and neglecting the outside... well the front of the outside anyway... the back isn't so bad. All I can say is wow - the ground is really hard right now. I planted about six or seven of the smaller plants (less digging, more payoff) and gave up for the day (though I might step back outside now that the sun is starting to go down). I'm going to have to do this in stages and hope no one is heinous enough to steal my plants before I get them into the ground. It was so bad that I stood on the shovel, balancing on it, hopping up and down, and that only shaved about an inch or two of dirt off the top, didn't really deepen the hole much. We need rain... what's really bad is that right before I gave up, I was digging in the flowerbed where the foundation repairs had just been made... that dirt should have been easier, but it was full of those white stones that used to be popular in the 70's, so it was hellish! Hellish!

I'm not built for that kind of labor... my arms and legs feel all rubbery. Don't get me wrong - I've worked hard before... lugging fence posts around, painting walls, tiling floors, tearing down an old pump house (which I thoroughly enjoyed doing by the way, I found my calling) - I'm not a wimp, but digging is not my strong suit. I think I only worked for an hour before I came in to eat dinner and guzzle some water... water is sooooooo good...

I was thinking that I need to make a bucket list. Not that I think I'm going to die or anything, but there are so many things to see and do in this world that I want to make sure I don't forget about any of them. Thing is, I forget about all the neat stuff out there and when someone asks me what I want to do I inevitably draw a blank. There are so many experiences that I haven't had; I want to try new things. I've never ridden a horse, never been skiing, ice skating, or gone on a sleigh ride. I haven't been to the Grand Canyon or any of the other national parks. I would love to go to Maine, take a windjammer cruise, go even further north and see Niagra Falls... My grandpa worked on the railroad but I have never (that I can recall) ridden a train. I still want to go to England and Italy and Greece. I want to take a helicopter ride, ride in a hot air balloon, go white water rafting. Sooooooooooo many things to do if I just had three things: time, money and someone to do them with. Life has a way of working itself out, so I'm sure I'll be able to accomplish a lot if I set my mind to it. Until then, I can dream.
Got up at 7:30 this morning to go to the grocery store with the intention of renting one of those steam cleaners, but decided to buy a rug stick instead. Pretty impressed with it. After I scrubbed the foam in, the rugs looked pretty good. I won't say they're soft and fluffy, but they're much improved, I got a workout, and I didn't have to go back to the store to return the nasty rug cleaner (or attempt to shove it into my trunk). It's great at grabbing pet hair, so that, if nothing else, helped greatly.

Made lunch... wasn't terribly impressed with the rosemary-garlic beef skewers with horseradish-cream. Sounded great, was kind of eh. Was easy though, pop them under the broiler and they're done in 6 minutes. So I think maybe I'll go Tex-Mex for the dinner party unless I can figure out something else to pair with the potatoes.

Then I painted the hallway. Pretty impressed with myself actually, I had to match the paint, and I think I did a pretty good job. There were more little white dings on the wall than I thought... tried to just touch them up but that didn't work. Scrubbed some adhesive off the floor from the a/c install. All in all, things look good again. Less shabby.

After that, I stepped outside and painted the trim around two of my windows. Not so sure about that. From far away it looks good... Closeup... I tried to be careful, but...  And the flowers will have to wait, I'm tired now, and by the time I get around to leaving the house it'll probably be dark, which is no time to be planting flowers. =)

Bought a corset for my halloween costume, had a gift certificate, so it was pretty cheap. Now I need to find a peasanty top to go under one of them and I should be set. I hate putting costumes together, I suck at it... but I hate the pre-packaged ones that cost a mint but are such incredibly poor quality.

All in all I feel like I accomplished something. Now it's time to print out the latest version of my story and see what needs to be edited... and take a nap!
It's Friday! It's Friday! It's Friday! I don't have big exciting plans, but it's Friday, and I can relax and unwind and that's all I care about!

I had intended to go to Shakespeare in the Park tomorrow evening, but I'm heading into town on Sunday and I don't want to drive it twice. I hate traffic. Hate it. So unless I get around to it next weekend, I'll probably miss out on SitP this year.
=(   <--- That's me pouting.

So my plans for tomorrow probably revolve around cleaning and touching the house up. My house feels grimy. What with all the window installs, the A/C, the foundation repair and exterminations going on lately, the house feels like it's covered with sawdust and dirt and grime (even though it's not actually that dirty... it's all perception). I'm feeling a little ambitious, so I think I might rent a carpet cleaner to clean my rugs and my loveseat tomorrow, and maybe repaint the hallway (with paint I already have) and/or get started on the vinyl trim around my windows (had to buy paint for the leaf guards so I may as well use it up, and since the trim doesn't exactly match the house...). It's not completely out of the realm of possibility that I'll trim some of the hedges outside and plant a few flowers now that the gutter is fixed and plants will actually grow.... it was pretty brutal to watch them get pounded by Niagra Falls every time it rained. Also need to put covers over the soffit vents, but I'm not going to do that just yet. And my houseguest is moving into her own place (not that I want to get rid of her, it was fun having a roomie), so I'll move my stuff back into the other closet. That should kill a day.

If not, I can always test pack for Scotland... I have way too much to pack this time and I probably need to pare down. It's going to be cold, and since I have no idea what a real winter is like, I've got coats and scarves and hats and gloves and sweaters and raincoats and long socks and fuzzy sleep pants... Now I'm starting to put a Halloween costume together and that's going to take up space, too. I need to leave room for the things I know I'm bringing back with me--important things like whisky and soap... twelve more weeks...!!!

It's been over two weeks since I last got a rejection... which feels pret-ty awesome if you care to know. The first round of rejections came quickly, I think they saw the word 'vampire' and simply didn't want to represent it, but I like to think that the remainder of my queries are being considered based on my writing rather than solely on the subject matter and that takes longer. Yep... I like to think that...

I also submitted a poem to Poetry magazine. What the hell, right? Why not? I may as well blanket the market and see who bites. And they pay. Money.

Also started planning my next dinner party. With all the home repairs out of the way I feel like celebrating a little. I like to cook, and dinner parties give me the opportunity to make things I wouldn't normally make for myself. This time I'm probably going to break out the horseradish escalloped potatoes... after reading about them over and over again as I edit the book, I'm craving them big time. And this time I have a mandolin so I can slice the potatoes uniformly... much easier than eyeing it and using a knife. I used to stress myself out but I think I've got the formula down now... make something that can be tossed into the oven, then I can relax and not be running around like a rabid clown when my guests arrive. I don't worry so much if the house is spotless anymore, I do what I can ahead of time to prepare and realize that no one is as hard on me as I am on myself... this may not be a big deal to most people, but the way I grew up, company = stress,and I'm bucking the system here!

Gonna go head to the piano and play for a bit. I've been doing pretty good on Rachmaninov's Prelude in C-Minor... first half... second half is a bear... two treble clefs, two bass clefs and I only have two hands... it's just not possible... (for me). My fingers remember where the notes are supposed to be, but if I try to read the music I screw myself up, and I'm waaaaaay out of practice. I go for long periods of time without ever touching the keyboard and then sit down and play almost every day and wonder why the hell I wasn't doing that all along. It's so relaxing. I hated learning to play, but once I got the notes down I began to love it, and when I started writing my own music I think that changed everything. I'm definitely glad my parents pushed the lessons... hated the recitals, and still won't play in front of most people, but I enjoy playing for myself.
A day off is not a day off when you're having your foundation repaired and you still have to be up and at 'em by 7:00 am, and you can't take a nap because of the jackhammers ripping apart your nice patio. Or the guy singing. The house is creaking... and it moves... it's scary... I keep watching the walls and windows, and I wonder about my a/c connections and pipes and ductwork...

So far no (apparent) damage from the fix (other than my patio). I keep watching the windows, because I have them opened a wee bit (to relieve the tension as suggested by the people who installed them) and I can see that the horizontal lines aren't quite parallel to each other. I'm assuming that will correct itself once the house is level. My already crappy floor still looks crappy. I keep thinking maybe I should just rip out the tile and put some of that concrete stain on it like I dreamt about one time... the glossy kind that gives it color but you can still see through it (like the black or cola versions on this page)  - then I can see cracks in my foundation really easily. I think it'd be really pretty actually. Right now I have crappy white tile that has a veneer on it because the previous owners went all out to flip this baby... (not)... it chips off and looks tacky.

Watched a couple of movies... Zack and Miri Make a Porno, pretty good, but very raunchy (you kind of expect that from the title though), and My Best Friend's Girl, also pretty good and very raunchy (but you kind of expect that from the big UNRATED VERSION stamp across the cover, and the fact that Dane Cook is in it). Made a baked potato for lunch, garlic hasselback potato to be precise, where you cut almost all the way through and fan the potato out with garlic slivers in between each slice and pour bacon grease over the top of it before you toss it into the oven. Pretty yummy. More satisfying than the frozen dinner I would have had for lunch if I'd been at work.

Well... hopefully they'll be finishing up in the next couple of hours (I bet they're ready to be done too... it looks pretty hot out there) and I can relax. I'm all tensed up until it's done and there's no water gushing from under my foundation.

Update: They're done and the crack in the grout is now almost invisible. Even more astounding is that some of the joint tape has almost straightened itself out... back to what it looked like before anyway... which was still crinkled in spots, but my inspector told me that is normal for houses this age (I don't know that I believe him now). The beam running along my living room ceiling is back in place. There was really only one door that didn't close, and it closes now (thank you to Greg for telling me to check that all the doors and locks worked before they filled in the holes). No cracks in my wall either. I'm pretty impressed. Broke, but impressed. Hopefully the patches in the concrete will be nearly invisible too... They got here a little after 7 o'clock this morning and they're leaving now (5:40). Long day... glad I don't have their jobs.

Allow me to introduce myself, my name (formerly Kristy) is (now) Job. If it didn't cost money, I'd look into changing it.

Today I met with a foundation repair company (well... not the whole company, just one friendly representative). My foundation is cracked. I need 12 piers. Piers cost money. I know the cost is 'reasonable,' but what I'm going through right now is not...

You know what else costs money??? A/C units... they cost money. Gutters? Money. Windows cost money. Soffits also cost money. Dryers cost money. Car batteries cost money, as do tires. Fences - not free. Exterminators to kill carpenter ants -  they cost money. And just so I have something else to look forward to, I'm sure that raccoon did some damage in the attic that I have yet to suffer for... probably something expensive and/or dangerous.

Someone out there hates Kristy.

I'm ready to start selling my eggs because I'm out of fucking money. I'm juggling so many credit cards at the moment, that all I need is a kitten and a chainsaw to make it slightly more challenging (and so entertaining that people might be willing to pay to watch the ensuing madness).

So, I will probably never leave my house again. I can't afford to do anything but sit at home eating ramen noodles and drinking chicken broth (the kind made from bouillon cubes). Or can a person live on tap water?

Things aren't quite that bad... but they're not good either. I keep thinking that if I had a nervous breakdown I could go to one of those nice mental health retreats where they let you ride horses and hang out by the pond, and feed you happy purple pills that look like smiling cyclops-es... (I'm doing that scales-of-justice thing with my hands as I consider this)

It's times like these that having ethics really annoys me; I could use a sugar daddy about now...