April 30, 2003

Water Main

The water main at our house broke today (or, more likely, last night, when I noticed a trickle of water running down the side of the driveway). My husband is busy dealing with plumbers when he should be teaching a class (hopefully the other instructor can manage on his own for a bit), we're stressing out about the cost and the likelihood that we won't be able to use the facilities until tomorrow, and my entire family has gone AWOL. In the age of cell phones and business lines, I can't reach anybody for advice. FART!

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April 30, 2003

You Need a Permit For Everything

After not being able to reach my family (most importantly, my dad or my brother-in-law, who know about plumbing and piping and digging), I called my husband back with my $.02 on the situation: I don't care about the cost. My priorities are getting the job done right, and getting it done quickly. Ideally, I'd like to be able to have a glass of water when I get home, and to take a shower in the morning. He said that he was leaning that way also, and that Plumber #2 (the one with the more expensive of the two estimates) was still there.

My husband just called to say that he'd called Plumber #1 back to ask about permits—something #2's estimate included, but which #1 had said nothing about—and was told that yes, "you need a permit for everything," but really they just raise the cost of the job, and then an inspector needs to come out and everything, and really you can get by without one, blah blah blah.

Ladies and gentlemen, Plumber #2 it is.

Al gave him a small deposit, and he's already gone off to get the permit and will be back and digging by sundown. Hopefully we'll be able to use the bathroom before we go to bed!

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May 6, 2003

New Haircut, and Bread in the Water Line

On Saturday night we finally got our water turned back on at the house, though Plumber #2 warned us to "watch out for bread in the line." Apparently he'd plugged the various pieces of copper tubing with bits of squished-up white bread to keep dirt from getting in the line. Of course, now there was *bread* in the line, and I'm not sure that that's any better. It certainly wasn't for the kitchen faucet, which clogged immediately; my husband had to get under there with a water jug and flush all the bread out before we could use the sink.

While he was busy doing that (and calling me out to turn the faucet on from time to time), I was busy in the bathroom, having a hair crisis. Usually I cut my own hair—until it's time for a completely new style, in which case I book a flight to Baltimore to see my sister and an appointment at Hugo Salon to see Toni. I'd been talking about getting a new cut for a couple weeks, but I didn't get on the stick quick enough before I had a hair meltdown.

Basically, I was standing in the bathroom after taking a (blessed-after-two-days-without-water) shower, and the thought of having to dry the overbleached birdsnest of a mop on my head made me run for the scissors. I shouted to Al that I was going to cut my hair (one last chance to stop me) as I combed my overlong bangs forward, and when he shouted "OK!" back, I started cutting. It took a few tries to get it looking like an intentional cut rather than an accidental butchering, and it still doesn't look as clean as Toni would make it, but it'll do for now. At least I don't have to blow-dry it anymore, or tuck a huge swath of bangs behind my ear. The spikes of the 90s are back, baby!

new haircut, May 2003

Posted by Lori at 4:43 PM
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May 14, 2003

Translation, Please

Al returned home from a trip to the store yesterday to find a notice hanging on our gate, telling us that our new water main didn't pass inspection. Reason:

Male PVC fittings may only be coupled to plastic female fittings.

I am unsure whether it is the gender or the genetics of our fittings that is the problem.

Posted by Lori at 2:25 PM
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October 25, 2004

We Take Halloween Very Seriously Around Here

[I'm obviously catching up on some pent-up blogging in between crying jags. This is my first day in the house alone without Annie, and I'm trying to cope with her absence by going about my normal routine and by sorting through cat photos for a post I'd planned to put together before I knew she was sick (look for that soon).]

I love Christmastime, and the cynical romantic in me (not to mention the chocolate lover) is fond of Valentine's Day, but my favorite holiday is Halloween. We were so bummed that we weren't able to move into our new house in Philadelphia in time for Halloween last year, as Al and I have turned decorating our yard and handing out candy into a much-anticipated geekfest.

We have several yard decorations that we collected in Mountain View, and it turns out that though we have no actual yard here in Philadelphia, our front "garden" is perfect for the tombstones. We (er, Al) put them up yesterday, and several people stopped their cars to comment. Today I've seen more folks, especially those with kids, walk by and point. So cool.

On Halloween night, we will alternately be handing out candy, blogging about the various costumes our trick-or-treaters are wearing, and tracking candy choices (Al's forte). Since Blogger, which I originally used to post our all hallows eve blog doesn't work with my new server, in the next couple days I'll be establishing a new a.h.e. blog using Movable Type. Stay tuned for that.

If I can just finish my costume in time, I will be greeting the kids at the door dressed as Patrick Starfish. (Right now my costume makes me look like a pink Klansman, but hopefully once I get the eyes and eyebrows painted on the hood, and the mouth pinned up, I'll be recognizable as a dumb-as-dirt cartoon character instead of a dumb-as-dirt racist.) Al will wear the yellow jersey I created for my SpongeBob costume back in 2000, which will allow him to concentrate his efforts on his candy charts and graphs rather than on costume design, while still dressing up (not to mention staying with the theme).

Posted by Lori at 4:39 PM
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November 22, 2004

Inept Already

So I don't remember if I mentioned this here or not, but a couple weeks ago, our washing machine broke. (A week to the day, incidentally, after our dryer had been repaired. Why, oh why, couldn't they have both broken—and been repaired—on the same day? I mean, they were obviously scheduled to break after four years, right? How hard would it have been to make sure that they broke on the same day?)

I'd been washing the second and final load of baby clothes (and drying a load of regular clothes) when I noticed a burning smell coming from the laundry room. Of course I assumed that it was the dryer burning, since that had just been fixed, and I wasn't entirely convinced that it had been fixed properly because the Check Lint Screen light remained on even after the repair. While sniffing around behind the dryer trying to discern from whence the burning smell was emanating, I noticed that the washer was in soak mode (that is, it was just sitting there, mid-cycle). I figured this was normal for delicates, but as I continued searching for the source of the burning smell, I realized that the washer had been in soak mode for a LONG TIME, and that the lights on the control panel actually indicated that it was Spinning, not Soaking.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we've found the source of the burning smell.

I ended up having to fish all the baby clothes out of the washer (which, thank god, had already run through the rinse cycle), wring them out as best I could, and dry them for about two hours. I then called Sears, scheduled a repair, and bailed out the washer *almost* all the way (the belly made it difficult to reach down to the bottom, and after carrying six buckets to the bathroom sink, I was tired). What usually happens when you schedule a repair with Sears (or at least, this was my experience with the dryer) is that the repair guy comes out, looks at your machine, declares that you need some part that must be ordered, and says he'll be back in a week. If you happen to get *our* repair guy, he will also call at 7:15 on the morning of the scheduled 8-12 repair window and say he'll be there between 7:30 and 7:45.

This is indeed what happened with the washer. After arriving at 7:45am last Monday, poking around in the control panel for a while, and asking to see my manual, the repair guy declared that we needed a new motor (something I could have guessed for myself, based on the burning smell and the fact that the washer would neither spin nor drain). He said it would come in a fairly large box and be heavy, and that he'd be back in a week to install it. (Keep in mind that at this point, we'd been laundryless for a week already.)

Twice last week I had to push my little-old-lady wire basket down to the laundromat at 21st and Sansom, contracting all the way, to do a total of four loads of laundry, so I wasn't the least bit annoyed when the repair guy called at 6:55 this morning to say that he'd be there between 7:15 and 7:30. Who cared that this man obviously had no sense of which hours actually fall between 8 and 12? I WAS GOING TO BE ABLE TO WASH CLOTHES AGAIN. IN MY OWN HOME. No tokens required, no funny smell on the clothes from the super-perfumed detergent the guy before you had used, no freaking out when a piece of your clean underwear falls onto the skanky laundromat floor as you pull your things out of the front-loaders. THIS is why you become a homeowner: To have your very own washer and dryer.

So the repair guy gets going around 7:30 this morning, and at quarter to 8 he comes upstairs looking for me. "Are you done already?" I ask, since it usually doesn't take him long to install parts. "Almost," he says, "but you've got something stuck in your pump, so I'll have to replace that too. I'm going out to get one off the truck [he actually had a part with him! it's a miracle!]; while I do that, can you find me a tub that's lower and smaller than a bucket?" I tried showing him a few options, but he didn't like any of them. He ended up asking if he could use a container that had a bunch of random desk stuff in it instead. I dumped it out, handed it to him, and said go ahead.

While he struggled with the basin and the pump, I asked how the pump could have gotten clogged. "Overloading the washer, usually," he replied. I assure you, people, that this is something I NEVER DO. And I certainly hadn't done it with the baby clothes load... hm, wait a minute. Baby clothes. Small items. Is it possible something small had been sucked into the pump? Those of you with psychic powers already know the answer, right? Well, for those of you without psychic powers, the answer is YES! Yes, it is possible that something very small can be sucked into the pump EVEN IF YOU DON'T OVERLOAD THE WASHER. That small thing turned out to be... a single blue sock. "Oh," I said, when the repair guy told me that the sock was the culprit. "I guess maybe I have to hand wash those?" "Nope," he replied. "Just get one of those mesh bags. See ya."

So it turns out that Sears is off the hook for not properly coordinating their washer/dryer breakdowns. They may have been at fault for the dryer, but it was me and my inept baby sock handling that took out the washer. I haven't even had the baby yet, and I'm already fucking up as a parent. This tip about the mesh bag wasn't in any of the books I've read so far (although it's true I haven't finished any of them yet). I called my sister to see if this was common knowledge among parents who do laundry, and she said, "oh, I knew about the mesh bag, but I always thought it was so you didn't lose the socks." Right, INTO THE PUMP. So for those of you pregnant or soon-to-be-pregnant people who didn't know about the mesh bag, now is your chance to buy one and USE IT. You'll save yourself a lot of hassle with Sears (or with the owner of the laundromat if you're doomed to do your laundry in public). And, of course, you won't be stuck with one mateless blue sock.

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May 20, 2005

Gah, What is That Smell?

No, it's not the diaper pail. This is more like a "we found the body when the neighbors called to complain about the smell" smell. I'm starting to wonder whether the guys who installed our new heat pump did a favor for a local mob boss or something.

Seriously, it's bad.

Posted by Lori at 11:53 AM | TrackBack (0) | Permalink
May 24, 2005

Recent Events

Remember how I said Austen's first food was paper? It's also been his second, third, fourth, and so on: If he's in the Bjorn when I'm opening the mail, he'll grab it and stuff it into his mouth with stunning quickness and force. (It reminds me a bit of a shark attack: one minute he's eyeing a solicitation from Capital One calmly, the next minute he's ripped it out of my hand and shoved it down his maw.) He regularly gnaws on paper towels, and he's made a meal of several napkins (to the amusement of both us and a waiter at Hamburger Mary's, and to the horror of my mother-in-law).

austen, snarfing down a napkin

The other morning when Austen awoke at 5:30 or so, I discovered that his sleeper suit was wet (yes, he'd had a bath the night before, and as usual, his diaper leaked; he's definitely not drinking the bath water, and we put a larger size diaper on him, so we're still going with the penis-in-the-wrong-position theory). I was too tired to re-dress him, so I stripped off the suit and onesie and tossed him into our bed semi-naked. I don't think I've seen him asleep half-naked since he was in the hospital, so I snapped a photo.

austen, unclothed

On Saturday we joined in a neighborhood sidewalk sale and managed to get rid of about half of the extra stuff that doesn't really fit into our lives/house anymore. Al snapped this photo about an hour in, I think:

austen and I try to attract customers

During the sale we also managed to snap photos of each other with the same enthusiastic smiles on our faces:

me at the sale
al at the sale

On Sunday morning we drove down to Virginia to visit Al's parents, and we spent the night so I could get to an appointment nearby more easily on Monday. We had some extra time before the appointment, so we stopped at a local mall and got me a new pair of glasses (I tried contacts for all of two days last week, but I found that I could neither tolerate them for more than two hours, nor see well enough to work, so I'll be returning them to the eye doctor tomorrow).

my new glasses

Upon our return on Monday evening we discovered that the rhododendron in our front garden had bloomed for the first time since we moved in 18 months ago. (Yay! It likes us! It really, really likes us!)

the rhododendron in all its glory

In honor of the occasion, I dyed my hair to match.

rhododendron hair

Posted by Lori at 10:46 PM
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July 18, 2005

Double Chocolate Cake

Today is Al's 38th birthday, and to celebrate the occasion I made him the most awesome double chocolate cake with truffle icing. SO YUMMY, if I do say so myself. It looks beautiful, too.


Happy Birthday, my love!


Posted by Lori at 8:34 PM
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August 3, 2005

Let's Sing Along With the Bees, Shall We?

The Beaner has a Pooh bear that sings (why is it that in-laws always buy NOISY toys for your kids? at least this one is cute...) a catchy little tune about bees: "The BEES in my shirt are shining brightly" — and here Pooh's shirt lights up with little bee outlines — "oh so LIGHTLY! shining BRIGHTLY! The BEES in my shirt are shining brightly, oh my twinkle BEES." Then Pooh says something like, "bees, bees, silly bees," followed by "Let's sing along with the bees, shall we?" (twice) and "buzz buzz buzz buzz buzz buzz buzz, etc." to the same tune. There's more buzzing (from the bees this time), a giggle, and an assertion that "oh, I think the bees LIKE you" before Pooh moves on to his second little ditty: "Bees twinkle brightly, that's what they do; bees twinkle brightly, that's what they do; bees twinkle brightly, that's what they do... and they also love to buzz." All very charming.

Until the bees invade your house, that is.

We knew our back deck had a bee problem as early as last summer, when I was growing tomatoes and peppers out there. Large wasps would hover around me as I watered the plants, and they stung my sister-in-law as she stood next to Al while he was grilling one night. We didn't know where they were coming from, but we figured there had to be a nest.

Ladies and gentlemen, there were FOUR. Al found them when he finally got the combination of time and weather he's been waiting for to tackle his deck projects. He went through a can and a half of wasp and hornet spray taking them all out, though four or five bees survived and hovered around his head, asking for spare change with which to pay for a room, while he painted the railing. A couple got in the house, but we were able to shoo them back outside.

Since Al had to move all the pots and outdoor furniture into the house to clear the deck for cleaning, I weeded out all the pots indoors while he scrubbed and painted outside. We agreed to put the white plastic outdoor tables—of which the bees seemed especially fond—out with the trash on Sunday night, though for some reason Al didn't put the matching chairs out with them.

The deck didn't dry in time to stain it on Sunday, and we decided we wanted to go with a different color of stain anyway, so the deck project was put on hold until next weekend. The pots, chairs, and decorative table all stayed inside (though I moved the three pots with actual flowers in them to the front garden). I was a little eeky about having the pots stay inside for so long because I found a weird little bug in one of them while I was weeding, but rather than have to re-prep the deck again next weekend, I figured I'd try to get over my bug phobia.

So Monday passed without event; the babysitter came and played with the Beaner while I worked in the living room with the pots. I didn't see any bugs. Then on Tuesday, while I was holding The Beaner and simultaneously checking my e-mail in the living room, I noticed a bee on the sliding glass door. I thought, "huh, I wonder how he got in here?" and started formulating a theory about the bee squeezing in through the weatherstripping between the doors. Then I saw another bee crawling on the sliding door track. I called Al and asked where the wasp spray was.

By the time I located the spray, stashed the Beaner in the Pack 'n Play in the bedroom, and returned to the glass door, there were no less than FIVE bees in sight. I sprayed them all, wigged out, and called Al again. He said he'd come home as early as he could, but since it was only 3pm, I was on my own for at least a couple hours. About 20 minutes later I spotted another bee crawling up the leg of one of the white plastic chairs, and a new idea occurred to me: Maybe it wasn't the tables the bees were so fond of. Maybe there was a nest UNDER ONE OF THE CHAIRS. Which, of course, were in the living room now.

I killed the bee on the chair and another that had been playing dead (but who really wasn't! faker!) next to the doormat with the spray, but I didn't want to ruin the lovely fabric window blinds by spritzing the one camped out there. I was also reluctant to use a fly swatter on him because a bee authority (OK, the guy who ran the lemonade stand at the Maryland Rennaissance Faire) once told me that bees can smell bee blood, and it drives them nuts—kinda like how sharks smell blood in the water and get all attack-y. If my theory about the nest under the chair was correct, then smashing the bee on the blinds could cause all his buddies to come swarming out for vengeance. Instead, I cowered in the basement and in the bedroom, hoping that the bees, who seemed half-starved and a bit lethargic, wouldn't realize that there were other rooms in the house (including a kitchen full of tasty treats like lemons and peaches).

When Al got home, he carefully inspected the white plastic chairs and confirmed my theory: one of them housed a fifth wasps' nest. He gingerly carried the chair outside, sprayed the nest... and watched another TEN bees fall out of it. He didn't manage to get the bee that had been hanging out on the blinds, but I discovered another corpse by the sliding glass door this morning, so I'm hoping all the little buzzers are accounted for.

Amazingly, none of us was stung.

I still can't get the Pooh bee songs out of my head, but now the words go something like this: Ohhhhhhhhhhh, BEES freak out Mommy, that's what they do; bees freak out Mommy, that's what they do; bees freak out Mommy, that's what they do... and they also love to nest. Bzzzzz!


Posted by Lori at 9:38 PM
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January 15, 2007

Getting Things Done with Al and Martin Luther King

Today is Martin Luther King day, and Al has off from work. I do not, and neither do M's mother or our sharecare nanny, Jess, so the Beaner is at sharecare as usual today. This means that Al is doing what he would normally do on a Saturday if he had any control over his weekends anymore: namely, hitting golfballs, running errands, and tackling the larger items on his to-do list, like cleaning out the storage room.

down the stairs to the storage room

The workbench has been groaning under the weight of impulse purchases from Lowe's and Home Depot, and the storage unit that formed the nexus of our stroller station from the days when I was a SAHM had become totally useless. (The stroller is still parked in there, but the system of bins and boxes I used to sort things that went into and out of the stroller based on where we were going or where we'd come from was less than obvious to our nannies.) And, of course, the storage room is also where we hang all our hockey equipment to dry and where we store our hockey bags; where the recycling bin and long-handled cleaning implements are; where the apple-picking wagon we only use in the fall is parked; where the hose we use to water the garden in the summer is coiled; and where the overflow items from the pantry and the bulk purchases of water, toilet paper, and paper towels end up.

before after
Before (taken in November with the FinePix) and After (taken today with the Canon)

I just went down to the kitchen to drop off a load of plates and mugs from my desk and to tell Al of a brilliant parenting-related post from Matthew Baldwin, and he pointed out some of the finer points of his latest organizing efforts to me. I should note here that Al is absolutely brilliant at fitting enormous amounts of stuff into incredibly small spaces, and he takes particular pride in his organizational abilities. He thrills in pointing out how he's rearranged things, and I always feel awful when whatever he's done doesn't really work for me. It reminds me of all the times during the Dreamweaver 1.0 development phase when Ken E. used to run over to my cube to show me the latest thing he'd coded, and I'd cause a crash within seconds. "WHY DID YOU DO THAT?" he'd say, and I'd reply that that was just the way I did things. I mean, I wasn't trying to crash the app; I was just accomplishing my task in a way Ken hadn't thought of.

The same thing happens with Al's organizing efforts all the time: The true test of whether things will stay organized is whether however he's arranged them will fit my workflow. Areas that only have to cater to Al's workflow stay organized longer; ditto places we share but where are workflows are similar. Sadly, those places seem to be few. The kitchen cabinets, luckily, represent one area of shared workflow, though I actually think that planning had more to do with it than luck.

I think Al made a good choice by putting my tea up front where I could get at it:

my stash of Stash

And he also, for the most part, didn't touch the spot where I hang my hockey gear (he did temporarily move my gloves and knee/shin guards to my hockey bag, but there's still room to lay them out to dry after practice tonight):

the hockey gear drying rack

Al is a big fan of bins. He organized our toiletry closet with them, and for the most part his system works well... except that he's grouped items differently than I would have, and sometimes the categories are a little ambigous. For example, does lip balm go under Dental or Skin care? Answer: There are a few lip balms in each bin. Luckily I don't need to find most of the things that are in labeled bins in the storage room; the labels are mostly for Al's benefit. "Of course I have a bin labeled 'Zip ties & Velcro, Compass & Car fuses, Bike tire kit'," says Al. "Of course you do," say I.

now that's organization "Tiny tools" "junk"

Aside from the cleaning and reorganizing of the storage unit, my favorite thing Al did today was hanging the towel bar/shelf that used to be in our master bathroom (and that came crashing down on my head one day when I was hanging a towel) in the storage room. I think it'll be a great spot to hang overflow hockey equipment, and Al has already stashed a wire bin on the shelf.

long-handled tools

As part of the reorganization there was also some weeding, obviously. Al unearthed an unopened box of granulated Splenda, some expired Stevia leaf packets (which I threw out), and some Splenda packets. He also set aside the Graco stroller rain cover that we bought as a backup to the one we wore a hole through when we were using it with the Snap 'n Go... and that we never used because The Beaner outgrew the Snap 'n Go not long after. I put both items on Freecycle and got six requests for the Splenda within 30 minutes; so far, there've been no takers for the stroller cover. Huh. Tomorrow I'll be freecycling a KVM switch and some chili. Want to take bets on what will go first?

Posted by Lori at 3:57 PM | TrackBack (0) | Permalink
June 6, 2007

More Swimming

Until we find swimming lessons (thanks, Marisa, for the tip about the Christian Street Y!) or a regular pool to visit (does anyone have information regarding rumors I've heard that some Center City hotels offer pool memberships to locals?), there's always the plastic baby pool that we picked up at Babies 'R Us for like five bucks. It was a total impulse buy; we sort of just shrugged and figured if the Beaner used it once, we'd have gotten our money's worth.

He's now used it not once but TWICE, and I suspect there are many more uses in our future. Hot Philly summers + a kid who loves to swim + a back deck just large enough for a baby pool = much fun for the kiddo. It's sort of the urban equivalent of suburbia's running through the sprinkler (something I grew up doing). And with the little cafe table and umbrella out there now, it's even fun for us. On Saturday I set up the pool, sunscreened up the Beaner, opened the umbrella, and brought my laptop out. I got a bit of writing done while he splashed around, and we both enjoyed the warm breezes and foot-cooling water.

In re-watching this now, I realize that he was asking me how to swim—as in "how is swimming accomplished, mother?"—rather than asking what I thought of how he was swimming. Duh.

And because I assume that if *I* cannot resist video of my child trying to soak the car (which was parked below the deck due to a garage door problem, now solved), you will not be able to resist such a video either, I present a second clip of the splashing. Come on, you know you want to watch it.

Posted by Lori at 11:13 AM
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November 15, 2007


I realized this morning that all the (non-work) projects on my list involve re-designing/re-configuring. Apparently I am in need of change. I want to rearrange my office, get a new chair, and get an L for my current desk so I have actual space for all my computers. Currently my MacBook is up on a pantry rack, both to keep it cool and so that I have space for two mice underneath; my personal laptop is on the too-high-for-a-seated-person project table; and my chair, which was bought for my old drafting table-style desk, is too high. My shoulders are always aching from hunching over.

We've been giving some thought to moving my office into the guest room, getting rid of the queen-sized bed in there in favor of a sleeper sofa, and returning my current space to its original sitting area status or leaving the project table here and using it as the craft area. I'd like that, since I lost my combo craft area/office when the Beaner came along. The trick will be Internet access; currently there's none in the guest room. There's a line running up from the cable modem in the basement in the Beaner's room (again, because it used to be my office), as well as a second cable modem hooked up to the cable line in there. We could move the second cable modem to the guest room and run all my connections through there, but we'd have to do some thinking about how everything is split.

Meanwhile, the frame for the Beaner's new bed arrived yesterday, and we've been thinking about how we want to rejigger his room to accommodate it. I didn't bother to get the dimensions of the bed or measure the room before I ordered it, so we're now wondering if the slide's going to work at all. Al has suggested moving everything out, Trading Spaces-style, and then reassembling the room around the bed. We might have to do that.

We also need to make some adjustments to the storage in the living room, and we're considering moving one of the Expedits down there and getting rid of the white dresser, which was supposed to be an interim solution (one I never liked). The living room and the entry hall both need fresh paint and photos or art on the walls. Oh, and speaking of painting, we still need to touch up a bunch of spots in the bathroom. I really want to get that finished and cleaned so I can take photos of it to show y'all.

Last, but not least, I want to redesign my websites. Both the avocado8 and the hockey blogs have gone a long time with their current designs (avocado8 has gotten some tweaks over the past couple years, but I realized yesterday that the hockey blog's last redesign was October 2005). This is obviously rather low priority, as they're working fine the way they are, and I haven't even been updating the hockey blog as much as I'd like to anyway.

I think the bottom line is: I'm in need of a little Autumn Cleaning, and I need to take 2-3 weeks off work to do it. Hrmmm. There's got to be a way to get this all done before summer.

Posted by Lori at 9:45 AM
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June 9, 2008

The Perfect Solution

We've been looking for (a) something to go in the "Christmas tree corner" of the living room, near the sliding glass door—preferably either a lamp or something that would hold a lamp; and (b) a place to store all my cameras, camera accessories, and film.

new storage cabinet

Enter the Pottery Barn Outlet in Lancaster, PA.

Al and I had split up to shop/watch the Beaner, and when we synced up again, he mentioned seeing a couple pieces of furniture in the Pottery Barn Outlet: one, a telephone table that might work as a camera/film storage unit, and another that might fill the corner in the living room.

I don't know why, but when he mentioned that the second item had drawers, I immediately knew it was The One without looking at it. We'd originally thought that I'd store my cameras and film in the dining room, since that's close to the front door, but I didn't see any reason we couldn't store them in the living room if this unit could hold everything. He mentioned that it was kind of expensive, but I thought to myself, "I bet it's cheaper than the price on the tag. I'll find out."

I spotted the thing immediately upon heading toward the furniture side of the store, and my hunch that it was The One was confirmed. The right color, the right size drawers, everything. I was willing to pay the price on the tag (already down about 40% from the original list price of $EXORBITANT), but I looked around for some sign that it was cheaper, and found one: 50% OFF LOWEST PRICE ON ALL BEDROOM FURNITURE. Since this was listed as a dresser, it counted.

The only question now was: Would it fit in the car? On the advice of the employee from whom I borrowed a measuring tape, I took the tag off the dresser before going out to measure the car. "If the tag's not on it, nobody else can buy it. You need the tag." I then measured the trunk of the car from every angle I could think of, but it wasn't clear that the thing would fit. I called on Al's superior measuring and spacial skills, giving him the measuring tape and going back to stand guard over the dresser.

While I was standing there, a woman came up to inspect it. I said, "um, I think we're going to buy this. My husband's just checking if it will fit in the car." She looked at me with the surprise and confidence of an SUV driver and said, "oh, it'll fit. It's not that big." Me: "Neither is the car." And we get better gas mileage than you, too, beyotch.

While waiting and praying that the thing would fit, I glanced down at the tag and noticed that the item code ended with these magical characters: 4CHO. Logically, I knew what they stood for (4-drawer chocolate dresser), but even more than the 50% off sign, THIS seemed to be the sign that this purchase was MEANT TO BE.

When Al returned, shaking his head and saying, "I don't think it will fit," I showed him the tag. "It says 4CHO, honey. It's meant to be. It's FOR US." Suddenly, I swear I could see a lightbulb pop on over Al's head. "I know how to make it fit," he said. "We can fold the seat down." Why this hadn't occurred to us before, I don't know—probably because we think of the backseat as Unfoldable Beaner Territory—but our seats do, indeed, fold down in a 60-40 split. All we had to do was move the car seat to the other side, and bingo.

I ran to the register, and the rest is history. We now have a perfect solution to my camera/film storage problem, a place for the gardening supplies I use most, a lovely lamp stand, and a piece that matches the rest of our living room. And the location has turned out to be perfect: I can step in and grab the 10D whenever I want to document the garden, and I always bring it back to its spot in the dresser when I'm done downloading photos. There's something about knowing it has a place that keeps it from languishing on my desk.

I always know where the cameras are now. I can keep an eye on my film stock and know when it's getting low. And of course, the gardening supplies being right next to the back deck is absolutely perfect. I was leaving them in that corner anyway; now, they're hidden from view, and the living room looks much neater. I couldn't be happier.

polaroid drawer
Polaroid drawer

35mm drawer
35mm drawer

digital drawer
digital drawer

gardening drawer
gardening drawer

Posted by Lori at 4:46 PM
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July 13, 2008

Sharing the Load

Last night, after a long discussion and a negotiation inspired by Al's experience living in a frat house, Al and I made a list of all the household chores that need to get done on a daily or weekly basis, and we divided them up between us.

Both of us had read an article in the New York Times Magazine about equal parenting while visiting our friends Tony & Maria in Massachusetts last week, and we've been mulling over the implications of that lifestyle ever since. Before we even returned home we resolved to divide up laundry responsibilities such that I washed my clothes and the Beaner's, and Al washed his and the sheets and towels, but it took a filthy Beaner/Guest bath sink to bring us to the point of list-making and general division of labor. I cleaned that sink last night with the exasperation of a martyr, and then I initiated discussions with the idea that I was getting stuck with all the icky household chores.

What's probably closer to the truth is that the house isn't as clean as it should be because each of us is waiting for the other to clean it. Each of us has our pet peeve areas, and each of secretly hoped the other would be as disgusted as we were, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for his or her hand in the mess, and just clean the damn thing up. Of course, our pet peeve areas are a bit different, so all the waiting was in vain, and just made us miserable and the house dirty.

I must say, there were some interesting moments as we made the long list of chores and then took turns picking items off the list for which we'd be responsible. There were questions raised about whether Swiffering the living room should also include the stairs up to the bedroom and the stairs down to the kitchen; whether dusting should cover all the electronics in the house or be divided up on a room-by-room basis; whether it might make sense to divide the house into living room and below and master bedroom and above. There were bouts of hysterical laughter and evil suggestions that standards of cleanliness should be determined by the person NOT doing a particular chore. There was a brief flap over whether chore completion should be measured every week on a specific day or whether each chore should have its own weekly calendar. But at a little past 11pm, we finally had an agreement.

There are still a few open issues, and we've resolved to evaluate how well things are working—does the division of labor seem fair, for example, and are all the tasks getting done to both of our satisfaction—after 6-8 weeks. Al suspects that at that point we might decide we need help, and he may be right; for my part, I suspect that I'll be more willing to just do my chores because I know they're mine rather than waiting for Al to do them.

If tonight's frenzy of cleaning is any indication, this might really work: We seemed to be in competition with each other to see who could check off the most items from his or her list.

Posted by Lori at 10:36 PM
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November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

There's chaos in the kitchen this morning as Al slices bagels, his brother grinds coffee beans, I mix Boursin and cream cheese in preparation for frittata-making, and the Beaner and his cousin races around the dining room-kitchen loop. Must be Thanksgiving!

I have no doubt that if we were eating in today it'd be much worse, but we're having Thanksgiving dinner out. (There will be 12 of us, and our dining room maxes our at 6.) To make up for the lack of home-cooking we're hosting brunch for 8, and taking our plates to the living room.

OK, back to the chaos... and the frittata.

Posted by Lori at 9:47 AM | Permalink
November 29, 2008

The Christmas Tree is Up

'Cause that's how we roll around here. When I was growing up we actually put the tree up on the day after Thanksgiving, so by that standard, we're a day late.

Posted by Lori at 2:02 PM
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January 5, 2009

Out, Damn... What Is This, Anyway?

Via Ratphooey: A LiveJournal group called unclutter_2009, the motto of which is "Relieving ourselves of a thing a day, every day."

I'm not sure I could keep up with the posting of intake and outflow, nor am I certain I could come up with 365 things in my home that I don't need (or maybe I'm just scared that I could), but it occurs to me that along with my 365 photo project, it might be fun to start a Flickr set devoted to things I got rid of this year. I started photographing (and sometimes writing about; see the scrapbook category) things that I'd only been keeping for sentimental reasons before tossing them several years ago, but this would be for the random junk, not just the sentimental stuff.

I think I have a new project.

Posted by Lori at 9:43 PM
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January 8, 2009

Listening to the House

Remember how I said I was going to sorta-kinda participate in the great junk-ousting of 2009? I did indeed start a Flickr set, which currently has one photo, a collage comprised of several small photos so as not to spam my Flickr stream with junk:

out 01.06.2009

More interesting (to me, at least) than what I've thrown out so far is how my house seems to be telling me what the weeding project of the evening will be. I'm actually excited to get home tonight (I'm working at Indy Hall today; more on that in another post, later) to see what the house will suggest.

The weeding pictured in the photo above was precipitated by a simple act: I wanted to put my new reusable mugs next to the basket holding my keys and other random stuff I take on my morning walks (film cameras, sunglasses, etc.). The basket was overflowing, leaving no room for the mugs. So I cleaned it out, removing expired coupons for film developing, coins that should have gone into the coin cup instead, random ribbons and receipts, a couple rubber bands, and a button about banned books that had fallen off an old backpack that Al uses more than I do these days.

I didn't want to throw out the button, so I moved it to the old "stroller station" in the storage room... and that's when the house Spoke To Me.

It said, "What the F*&^ are you doing? What's so important about this button? And WHY DO YOU HAVE A STROLLER STATION WHEN YOU HAVE NO STROLLER?" I promptly set about cleaning out and dismantling the stroller station and photographing all the detritus I found while doing so, resulting in the photo above.

Last night's cleaning was precipitated by a similar event: I wanted my new This Is Not a Paper Cup (suggested by Shani in a recent comment) with the other reusable mugs near the front door, but it didn't fit on the shelf with the others. I decided to clean off the top shelf, which had all kinds of random crap on it and was dusty to boot.

I removed the random crap, and then I dove under the kitchen sink in search of counter wipes to mop up the dust, vermiculite, and needles from the cactus that fell on me in 2007. What I discovered was that the bottle of Clorox wipes was sitting in a container of fetid water that had apparently leaked from the garbage disposal at some point in the probably-not-so-recent past. And the house spoke: HERE'S TONIGHT'S PROJECT!

I ended up pulling everything out from under the kitchen sink and throwing away about a third of it, scrubbing and disinfecting the cabinet, cleaning off the garbage disposal unit, vacuuming the kitchen, and then mopping the floor (because I'd dripped some of the fetid goo on it) in addition to cleaning the shelf by the front door.

I didn't take any photos of what I threw out from under the sink (or of the cabinet), but I did take what I hope to be one of 52 weekly Polaroids—of the vacuum cleaner—after I'd finished the project. I'll scan and post it tonight or tomorrow, when I'm back in front of my scanner.

I'm seriously giddy thinking about what tonight's cleaning/weeding project will be... and I'll find out soon—my Go Home alarm just went off.

Posted by Lori at 4:48 PM
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June 17, 2020

Books on the Bottom

A couple weeks ago I was attempting to multi-task: I was cooking a skillet of beans and broccoli while joining a Webex meeting on my iPad to review an early draft of one of my teammates’ WWDC presentations. I’d just connected—with mute on due to the cooking—and went to check the recipe for the exact amount of water to add when two of the four brackets holding up the top shelf of this cabinet—which used to hold all the cookbooks and a martini pitcher—suddenly gave way, breaking one of the wine glasses below and raining cookbooks on my shoulders. I started screaming HELP! HELP! while holding up the shelf to keep the martini pitcher from coming down on me too. My colleagues on the Webex didn’t spot the drama happening at the far end of the kitchen, but Al interrupted a phone interview and Austen a video game to come in and help me hold up the shelf and dig out from under the books. “In hindsight,” said Al, “the books probably should have gone on the bottom shelf.”

My knees were shaking for a good 10 minutes afterward, but I managed to participate in the meeting and finish cooking my lunch.

The run-up to WWDC means work has been practically non-stop since then, and the cabinet has remained full of shattered glass, and the cookbooks have remained piled on the kitchen table, until today. I stayed up insanely late last night to clear my to do list, attended two scheduled meetings this morning, and then blocked off the rest of the day to bake.

I always start a baking session by cleaning the kitchen first, which meant dealing with the cabinet. I removed the broken wine glass and the large pieces of glass, put the rest of the glassware in the dishwasher & ran it, vacuumed up the small bits, and re-hung the shelf. I then put the books where they should have been all along, moved the martini pitcher elsewhere, and re-shelved the glasses. I wish now that I had hung the top shelf one peg lower, but this will do.

Glassware and recipe books in a glass-fronted cabinet, with books on the bottom where they belong

Posted by Lori at 7:07 PM | Permalink