Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why so personal?

I've been noticing since we moved to Sunshineville that there are a whole lot of people driving around with vanity plates on their cars. I've never had a vanity plate in all my many years of owning cars. Mister C had them on his Bananamobile before we moved here. He has a bright yellow SUV style vehicle and he used to have plates that said BANANAZ. I came up with this for him because, as I told him, he was nuts for buying this vehicle in the first place. However, a bright yellow vehicle with vanity plates in lieu of a 20 year old for his mid-life crisis works for me. I don't necessarily mind vanity plates in and of themselves. I just have issues when they make no sense to me. I can understand BANANAZ. It's readable as is. I don't have to sit at a traffic light sounding it out to get it. Just today I saw one that said NICU RN. Obviously a nurse that works in the neonatal intensive care unit. Makes sense to me and I didn't struggle to understand it. But what about HRD2HDL? I think that the 20 something blond behind the wheel of this cute car was trying to say "hard to handle". But where's the n? Who wants to be "hard to headle?" Or how about PLNAPRV? Does it mean "plan approval" like he's in the business of granting approval of building permits? Or does it say "plan a pervert"? Could go either way couldn't it? The last one I noted today said WHJD4U. My first thought, based on their fish emblem, was that at least the last part means "Jesus Died For You". But what about the first two letters? "Woo-Hoo Jesus Died For You!" seems to be a bit exuberant about the death of our Lord and Savior. "What Has Jesus Done For You" would work I guess. The main point here (and I do have one) is that if you're going to have a vanity plate, it should at least be somewhat obvious to the common man. I shouldn't spend my time trying to figure out your plate. You're obviously trying to send a message, so make it clear. If I ever do get a vanity plate, I'm going to make sure it's easy to read and obvious. It's going to say ACRONYM.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Changing my view

I'm normally a pretty generous person. If I see someone in need and I have a way to help them, I usually do. Having said that, I hate all the begging for free stuff and handouts on Craigslist. When I go into the "wanted" section, I'm looking for people that want to buy things that I want to get rid of. When I place an ad, it's because I want to sell something. If I'm giving it away, I'm really upfront about that and it's listed in the "free" section. I cannot tell you how many times I have put an ad out there only to have some person respond with a sob story and their hand out. I think most (not all) of these people are scammers just looking to get free stuff so they can sell it. I'd probably be more inclined to give to them if they were honest and just said "I make a living getting stuff for free and then selling it." I can totally respect that.

But sometimes, times really are tough. Here in Sunshineville there are a large number of foreclosures and short sales and the like. The economy isn't the best it's ever been. I personally have sent my resume to numerous companies and never heard one word. I even resorted to sending it to all the temp agencies and still got no response. Employment is hard to come by right now. And this affects people. People just like us.

While Mister C & I were on our daily walk we got to see it first hand. As we were walking past a house, the man living there was talking to the representative for the local power company. She was telling him that he had one hour to go pay his bill or she would be back to shut it off. He had a toddler in a diaper standing behind him. It broke my heart. But what can I do? Even if I had the money to pay his bill, is that going to be enough to stave off the bill collectors? Will it just mean his power can stay on for another month, but he's still going to get kicked out for not making the payment? My first instinct is to help the guy out but I guess I don't know what to do to be the most helpful. I'm really at a loss. Reading it in the paper or on the Internet, it's fairly easy to just skim over the problems and say "hey, it doesn't affect me so I'm not going to worry about it." And that worries me because it reminds me of the poem by Martin Niemoller.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Life going on..

Apparently, I've been very busy the past five days. Too busy to blog anything. Very busy indeed. Doing what? Ummm, I'm fairly sure I've made my bed a few times. I might have emptied the dishwasher once. There was coffee, walks, buying a fish...well, I'm sure there's more I accomplished. I just don't remember everything. I did manage to empty three more boxes and locate the bolts for Master J's bunk bed so I can sell it. That was a huge thing. I was starting to think I had lost those bolts and was going to have to go through all the packing paper that I had boxed up to find them. Turns out I'm just an idiot (again) and had set the bolts on top of a box. Which I then put another box on top of. I did search through the boxes but when I went to look through the bottom box, I lifted the top box and the lid to the bottom box at the same time. So I didn't see the bolts on the lid of the bottom box. Today I took the time to remove the top box and there they were. I also sold my moving boxes today as well. Half of them got picked up a few minutes ago and the other half will get picked up tomorrow when the guy's brother can lend him a pick up truck. I'm trying to get a few more things out there yet today so I can clear out some room and bring in some cash. My hope is that I can earn enough money to buy myself a bookshelf. Turns out that it's hard to get decent ones for not a lot of money. I've been searching. Anything under $150 is either made of press board or pre-dates the Hair bands of the 90s. All I want is a very specific size, solid wood bookshelf that will not look out of place in the same area as my dining room set. You'd think I was looking for a left kidney made out of gold. Ah well, I'll keep selling stuff until the amount of money I have matches the amount of money I need to get what I want.
In other news, I mentioned above how I bought a fish. Since I went to cichlids in my big tank, there was no way to put a betta in there. Since I've had a betta (or 2, or 75) for the last eight years, I just figured I'd get one and put it in it's own tank. So I went shopping and found a giant betta. These guys are pretty recent to the wholesale market (they've been available from breeders for a few years now). Anyway, I found a cool one and he's now sitting on the table. And guess who's sitting next to him to keep him company?

Yeah, she's very helpful that way!

I also finally spoke with a friend of mine that I've known for about 17 years. Turns out I should have called sooner, that way I could have gotten the bad news a little bit at a time instead of all at once.

First, her husband lost his job and is struggling to find a new one in this down market.

Second, they had to put her dog to sleep because he had gotten so sick recently.

And third, her thyroid cancer is back. She already had the surgery to remove the nodules on Halloween. Unfortunately that was the easy part. The hard part is coming up in January. It seems that in order for the radiation treatment to work, she has to go off her thyroid medication for at least a week. This gets all of the medicine out of her system and allows the radiation to work. But this is a miserable task. When she went through this before, all of her friends signed on to help out on different days just to try and help her though. We would bring her food and make her eat at least a little. We would take her for a walk as far as she could go (maybe a quarter mile, round trip, on a good day) just to get her moving. We would sit with her and talk and listen and know that whatever we had going on in our lives was nothing compared to what she was going through. Your thyroid affects so much that we don't even think about. When you get totally depleted like she's going to have to do, you aren't hungry but you want to eat. You're restless and exhausted but you don't have energy to move and you can't sleep either. You just float along and everything you should do, you can't. And it is miserable. And I wouldn't wish it on anyone. And this time, I can't even be there physically to help her out because I'm 1500 miles away. So I'll do the only thing I can do, I'll ask the God of my understanding to take care of her. And I'll send her cards while she's going through it that she won't appreciate until after she's gone through it and recovered. I'll call her and most likely talk with her husband about how she's doing. And I'll pray some more. Because that's what she'd do for me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blonde moment

I did all my grocery shopping today for the next two weeks. I've started going to three different stores now. I get my paper products, chemicals & canned type food at a big name box store. I get my produce from Sprouts. Then I get my meat & dairy products at a "regular" grocery store. I hit the box store first, got everything I needed and dropped it off at home. Then I headed over to Sprouts for my produce. The parking looked a little full so I just took the first place I saw and started for the door. I walked in, grabbed a basket and started walking around. The first thing I notice is the Ortega taco shells. I didn't know they were organic. Hmm. Good to know I guess. I continue heading to the back where the produce is. As I walk through, I notice that there is an entire aisle dedicated to soda. What the hell? Boy this place has really changed since he last time I was here. Then I see another aisle that has nothing but Christmas decorations. What is going on? I finally get back to the produce section and it's pitiful. I mean just awful. Individually wrapped peppers and apples and tiny bags of salad. Holy mother has this place gone down hill. I notice a cooler of milk and it seems like the containers are really small so I go to check it out. Yup, only one quart containers. Okay, now I'm really confused. What happened to Sprouts? Were they taken over by someone that is completely clueless or what? In absolute disgust I start heading towards the front of the store to leave and that is when I start noticing all the signs everywhere screaming "EVERYTHING JUST .99 EVERY DAY!!!" And that is when I realize I have walked into the wrong store. I put my basket back, head out the door, turn right and walk 20 feet to the entrance to Sprouts. Just another day in my life.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

She may have met her match

I added more cichlids to my tank today. Nine more to be exact. So now I have a total of 12 cichlids in varying colors. Three of them are bright orange, three of them are neon yellow, two are yellow with stripes, two are yellow with spots, one is blue with stripes and Elvis will be bright blue, some day. They look pretty cool in my tank if I do say so myself (and I do!) The Antagonizer noticed the new members of the tank some time after noon today and immediately went over to check out the action. In the past, if she didn't have anything to sit on to observe, she would repeatedly jump up and try to catch the fish. Sometimes, she would bounce up and down a dozen times in a row, going from one end of the tank to the other trying to get a certain fish. It was quite comical. The fish would freak out and about run into each other trying to escape from the "paws of death that cannot reach us". Cichlids, apparently, are different. She went over to the tank and jumped a few times and they didn't scatter. They came closer. I had several plastic storage bins stacked by the tank that I haven't gotten around to putting away yet. She jumped up on those and started stalking the fish. But these guys, well, they stalk back. Pretty soon there were twelve little fish all bunched up, looking at her. They wouldn't scatter even when she attacked the glass. They just hovered there in their little gang and stared at her. They stared her down. And she got disgusted and left. Score one for the Cichlid Gang! I think I'm really going to like these guys!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I'm thinking back to a time when I had built in bookshelves, too many cabinets and a basement. I'm looking around at my house and wondering what the heck I was thinking when I collected all the stuff that used to sit in those built ins and cabinets and in my basement. I love classic books. I have a fairly decent start on my collection of banned books. Probably over a hundred at this point. And that's just the classics, that doesn't even begin to cover the not so classic. And now, they are sitting in stacks on the floor of my living room. I have a ton of pictures as well. They are also in my living room, leaned up against a wall. I have collected pieces of art like objects (think beaded lizard from Mexico, spear from some Arizona Reservation, etc.) from our travels. Those are covering my dining room table. I think I hit a brick wall on working around here. I am overwhelmed with what remains to be done. I need storage. Mister C went out and bought himself new office furniture before our furniture even arrived from the Midwest. It included two nice bookshelves. His stuff is put away. He doesn't see any reason to go out and buy a bookshelf for my books any time soon. Because his stuff is put away. My stuff is sitting on the floor. I can't walk around the left side of my couch in my living room because the three foot space between the couch and the wall is full of stacks of stuff. I may have to go to a few antique stores on Monday with Mom and search for a bookshelf on my own. I may have to use his own words against him "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission." I wouldn't usually do that, but I'm getting desperate. I need order. I need my living room (where my fish tank is) to be peaceful and serene. I need to not see the books, pictures and artwork that I love stacked on the floor like some sort of hoarder starting kit. I need serenity. Now.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Swimming over to the Dark Side

I've had fish for about the last eight years. It started out as one male Betta in a tank "for Master J". He may not have actually been born yet, I don't really remember all the details. I just know that I really wanted a Betta. He was beautiful and we named him Fred. Right around the time Master J was two, Fred started feeling his age. He started hanging out in the bottom of his tank and when he would try to swim to the top it was pretty pathetic. Luckily, his illness didn't last long and he died within 48 hours. Please not that I didn't say it was lucky for Fred. Anyway, not wanting to have to explain death to my child just yet, I rushed out and purchased a carbon copy and promptly named him Fred. When Master J saw him swimming happily around his tank he commented that "Fred got better!" and all was right with the world.

When we moved from that house to our next home, I went out and got a 20 long tank so that I could purchase some Bettas with pedigrees. I had my dad cut some pieces of heavy duty mesh to divide the tank into four compartments and ordered a pair of Bettas from a lady in California. She sent two extras at no charge so I ended up with two males & two females, each in their own apartment (as Master J always called it.) At one time I did spawn a pair and ended up with over 70 babies. I gave away almost all of the males and kept the females in a second 20 gallon tank that someone had given Mister C.

Then came the big tank. For whatever reason, one day I decided that what I really wanted was a big tank. Specifically, I was looking at a 75 gallon one. I figured out what it would cost and started saving my allowance so I could buy it on my own. Side note, yes, we both get an allowance. It's part of our family budget and we both get the same amount every pay day. It makes sense for us. Moving on. I gave up buying things like coffee and such so I could save more money. I must drink a lot of coffee because within six months I had over $800 saved for my tank. I told Mister C that I thought I was almost ready to go buy my tank and that we should probably start pricing things just to make sure. We went out that day and I definitely had enough. But, Mister C was being drawn to the bigger tanks. I tried to explain that I only had enough for the 75 gallon tank and I really wanted to buy it soon. It would take me months to save enough to get an even bigger tank. But Mister C had set his mind on the bigger tank and even offered to make up the difference from the family funds. Yay! Of course I agreed to that. So we ended up with a 125 gallon tank that day.

I set up my new big tank as tropical. I added some clown loaches, a few bamboo shrimp, catfish & the typical tetras. And my female Bettas. I also added a leporinus fasciatus. This community did very well together.

When we moved (again), I moved my fish with us. I added a couple of Albino something or others and the remains of a friend's tropical community. They were moving and didn't want to move their fish. Mostly they had a bunch of guppies. Which did not make it in my tank. They fit in too many other fishes mouths.

Then we moved (again) and since it was a cross county move I elected to give away my fish. About six months after we moved I finally set up my tank again. This time, Mister C was with me when I was going to stock it and he kept gravitating towards the cichlid section. I wanted nothing to do with them since they are notorious for being aggressive. No, I put my foot down on the cichlids, they would not dwell in my tank of peacefulness and joy. Instead, I ended up with a killer in the form of my new leporinus facsiatus. The first one must have been a male. He never did a whole lot. He mostly floated around looking tough. This one was an absolute killer. It searched for stuff to kill and eat. My tank became the tank of death as this fish ate it's way through whatever I threw in there. It ate 17 neon tetras and 5 female bettas in a matter of weeks. I ended up with seven fish that I could keep with her, all of them close to her in size. Nothing else would survive.

And now we've moved (again). Since this was also a cross country move (back to Sunshineville) I again elected to re home my fish and start over. I got my tank set up last week and have been running it empty since. Today I went over to the fish store to pick up some test strips to see how my water is in the tank. While I was there, I started looking at the fish trying to figure out what I was going to put in this time. A worker asked if I needed any help and I explained how I was setting up my tank again and starting over. When he found out how big the tank was he suggested cichlids. I related to him all the negative I'd ever heard about them. How they can only be kept with other cichlids. How you can only have one or two in a tank no matter how big. How hard they were to feed, etc. He then told me some things that basically refuted most of what I'd heard. He admitted that some were extremely aggressive (Jack Dempsey, anyone?), but not all. He told me that loaches make great tankmates for them. He explained that if they had places to hide I could have around 20 of them in my tank. The less aggressive ones were even easier to feed since they didn't require meat (although they will eat it). And the best part? The water that comes out of the tap in Sunshineville is pretty much perfect for cichlids. I am sold. Welcome to the Dark Side. I now have three new fishes, all cichlids. One of them will be a blue so bright and vibrant that it's almost cobalt blue. The other two will be a bright yellow with blue on their heads. Next week I'll be looking for some orange ones that I can add. I am so excited to finally get some bright colored fish in my tank. That's always been my one complaint with my tropical set up, most tropical fish aren't as bright as the salt water fish are. Now, I can have all the color, with none of the expense.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good Parenting 101

We have a list of things that need to get done in the morning by Master J prior to school. After the list is complete, he can do pretty much whatever he wants until about three minutes before we're supposed to leave. I set a timer to go off three minutes before we're due to leave so he has ample warning. As a side note, the timer is an absolute God-send. It gives him the warning without involving me and trust me, if I'm not involved it's better for everyone. I don't nag, he doesn't fuss, pure bliss. Anyway, when the timer goes off, he gets his shoes on, grabs his backpack and gets in the car. Or sometimes he gets his backpack and carries his shoes to the car. I don't really care what order so long as he, his backpack and his shoes are in the car on schedule to leave. This morning, after he got everything on his list done, he was reading on the couch until it was time to get going. The timer goes off, he puts his book down, grabs his backpack and then we have this conversation:

J: Where's my shoes?
M: I have no idea
J: Well, where do you think I put them?
M: I don't know. I don't wear them.
J: Mom, I can't find them!
M: I'm sorry to hear that. You need to hurry up.
J: I can't hurry up if I can't find my shoes! Please help me find them!
M: Dude, this is why I repeatedly tell you to put your stuff back where it belongs. I am always telling you to not just drop stuff where you're standing and this is exactly why. Now you can't find your shoes and you're going to be late. Please start putting your stuff where it belongs so we don't have to go through this.
J: Oh never mind, I found them.
M: Great, now go get in the car.
M (to Mister C): Where's my shoes?
Mister C just shakes his head.
M: I know, but where did I put them?
MC: You are pathetic!

Monday, November 10, 2008

This is why cats should never help with unpacking...

Not that I asked her to help or anything.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

So Mister C finally hooked me up

With my washer and dryer, that is. My washer got unhooked the week before we moved so that would be some time around the 18th of October. With the exception of several loads of laundry at my mom's of mostly Master J's clothing, I have not done laundry in just over three weeks. Three weeks. In a row. Do you know how much laundry can be produced by a family of three in three weeks? Especially when one of them is a seven year old boy? I did nine loads of laundry today. I have not washed the sheets yet. The pile of dirty clothes in my bathroom was counter high and spilling across the floor the entire length of the tub. It took me four loads just to realize that there was a laundry basket under it all. I never thought I would be grateful to be able to do something as mundane as laundry, but I am.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wonder what's in this box?

I have spent the past two days unpacking boxes. Well, that's not entirely true. I spent about six hours on Wednesday playing "All My Stuff Bingo". The game goes like this: A moving truck pulls up in front of the house and the boss lady hands you a pen, a clipboard and a piece of paper with the numbers 1 - whatever in little boxes. In my case, the "whatever" was 292. Then, as the the guys are taking stuff off the big truck, they holler out random numbers that fall in the range on the paper and you put an x on that number. Sometimes, two different guys call out the same number five minutes apart and you get to figure out why your number already has an x on it. Sometimes you need to use the little girl's room and when you come back seven number have been called and nobody remembers what they were. When the truck is empty, you look at your paper and realize that a bunch of numbers don't have an x on them. Then your job is to search frantically through the house to find items with one of those numbers stuck to it. These items are usually listed in the bill of lading as "Box - brown, square". It's very helpful that way. At the end of the day, when all your numbers have an x on them, your prize it that all of your crap made it to it's final destination. In that respect, I got a "Bingo". As the movers made their way to their respective vehicles yesterday, they all said kind and helpful things such as "Your work is just beginning, hee, hee!" I still tipped them in spite of that.

Once they left I started opening boxes. Mom was over and she helped me put Master J's room together. Let's just say the boy could never get another toy his entire childhood and he shouldn't ever get bored. In our previous house, he had a playroom for all of his stuff. Not so much here. In our previous house, we had a full basement. Again, not so much here. But we did manage to get most of it put away. I also managed to get my bedroom into some semblance of order as well. The closet is still a huge mess, but the bedroom itself doesn't look half bad. Today I focused on the kitchen. As of 11:00 tonight, I would estimate it at about 95% done. My kitchen table is clear and usable. My breakfast bar is clear and usable. Most of my counter tops are clear. There are no unopened boxes in this room. I had help in the form of Mom again which was nice. Mostly she took care of Master J for me. Did I forget to mention that he was home with a fever, sore throat and headache? Yeah, just in time for the unpacking, he turns up with illness. When Master J is truly sick, you never hear a word out of him so it was really pretty quiet today.

In the midst of all of the unpacking I had Mister C calling me from our previous town where he was sitting at a title company signing the paperwork to sell our house and buy our buyer's house. We are now officially landlords. I have great hope that this will work out for us and our soon to be renter. I have to say it's a little bit scary to be kind of hanging out there financially, hoping that some guy we've never met sends us money every month. This is where I have to have faith and trust that what we're doing is the right thing and that we're doing it for the right reasons. And that the adage about no good deed going unpunished isn't true in this case.