Thursday, December 29, 2011

What have we done?

For whatever reason today I ran across an article about Milton Rogovin dying at 101 years old back in January. It very well may have been something about all the famous people who had died in 2011, I don't remember and I can't find the article now to verify. It probably got recycled about five minutes after I finished reading the paper since I was trying to get things organized this morning. Anyway, when I saw the name I knew I was familiar with his work as a photographer but I couldn't remember exactly what he did. So I looked him up to be reminded.

Once I saw his pictures I remembered who he was and that he did mainly social documentary photos, a lot of which were done in and around the northeast. Mostly he focused on what he referred to as the "forgotten ones", the working poor. He had different series of photos of workers from the various steel plants, foundries, pottery factories and even Chevrolet. Also included were companies that produced furnaces, electrical items and made molds. There was even a series of photos of the miners in Appalachia. Tough, labor intensive jobs with less than ideal working conditions to be sure. I did a quick search on the companies that were listed and, not surprisingly, most of them are no longer in business.

The thing that struck me the most as I scrolled though his series of pictures is that the photos showed people who were poor, but they didn't show people who were broken. They showed people who were productive and that were taking care of their families. They showed people who were contributing to their community and society as a whole. They showed people who looked like they had pride in themselves.

And then I look at the groups of people willing to occupy town squares and parks for months on end to complain that they don't have enough and someone else has more. That they shouldn't be responsible for paying back money they borrowed to get an education and that they should be allowed to live in a house without paying for it. And I wonder how we could let ourselves as a country get to where we are at today just thirty years after most of those photos were taken. And I worry about what kind of country and conditions my son will have to endure in another thirty years. I won't pretend to know the answers, but I will say that nothing is truly free and anything worth having is worth working for. And anyone in a position of power that says otherwise is flat out lying to you.

If you are interested in seeing some of Milton Rogovin's photography you can go to his site here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I'm waiting for delivery of one more item for Mister C, but otherwise, I've been done with my Christmas preparations for a few days now. Lucky for me, Mamoo has graciously offered to have the family celebration at her house this year so I don't even have to worry about cooking. So the next few days are panning out to be somewhat relaxing. We are flying up to Fargo on Saturday to spend a few days with Mister C's side of the family but I'm not even really concerned about that because those gifts got wrapped and sent almost two weeks ago. Woo-hoo! Look at me go! Which brings me to the title of this post.

So for years I've had a love/hate relationship with to-do lists. On the one hand I think they serve a purpose in keeping me on track with what needs to get done. On the other hand, I struggle with the whole negative side of seeing everything I didn't get done still sitting on the list, taunting me. Telling me I'm such a loser because look, I can't even wrap up a list of things to do. I'm not as bad as SOME people (cough*Mister C*cough) that used to rewrite their list every night, removing the things they had done. I think that's ten times more negative than having a list with at least some things crossed off. To wake up every day with a long list of shit to do, I'm just not wired that way.

So I decided I needed a new way of doing things. And thus was born the "Ta-Da List". Instead of a list of things I need to do, I only jot down the things I actually did today. It's really quite simple and so much more positive. I wake up to a blank sheet of (iPhone notes) paper and I get to fill it with things as I accomplish them. At the end of day, instead of a crossed out sheet of paper (or worse, a brand new list of things to do) I can look over my list and see what I accomplished. The genius of this method is that I want to fill the blank page. So if I've gone a ways through my day and it's looking a little sparse, I actively look for something to do. There's always something that could use cleaning or doing around here.

So, is everything on my Ta-Da List a huge accomplishment? Nope. And that's okay. Because not everything on a traditional to-do list is either. And sometimes you just need to take credit for doing something, even if it was totally simple. So, sent out all of the Christmas cards? Ta-Da! Wiped out the microwave and took out the composting? Ta-Da! Dropped off books and videos to two different libaries? Ta-Da! (And I didn't even have to get out of the car for that one.) Wrote a post about my new Ta-Da List? Ta. Da.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Finally getting into the spirit

Well I finished writing my annual Christmas letter that never gets put inside a card and sent. Seriously, I've written one every year for almost fifteen years and I honestly can't remember if a single one has ever been sent out. Ah well, at least I have a record of them. Some day I'll put together a book entitled "Letters I Never Sent" and it will be a best seller. Don't steal that idea, I'll be watching you.

We also finally managed to decorate our tree. You know, the one that's been in the house for a week now. Master J and I managed to get lights on it the morning after we brought it in but we wasted a bunch of time putting lights on and then taking them off when half the string died after it was already on the tree. It happened on three strings out of three. At least the three strings with shotgun shells as covers worked beautifully on the first try. Yeah, about that little bit of Christmas cheer. Remind me not to send Master J shopping at Cabela's with Mister C any time near the holidays. Shotgun shell lights indeed.

And last, but certainly not least, I got all of the gifts wrapped for Mister C's side of the family. He boxed them up and slapped shipping labels on them all for me. He even put them in the back of my truck. All I need to do is get them to the UPS store and get a receipt and that little worry is off my schedule.

So now the only things left to do are to pick up a gift for the thirteen year old girl whose tag I pulled from our church's angel tree this morning and get a few more small items for Mister C and Master J and I think I'm done. Well, that and pull the box of Christmas cards out so they can sit on my kitchen counter for the next month waiting for me to put the Christmas letter inside before I give up and pack them back into the garage for yet another year. If I ever do get around to sending them out they'll be considered vintage cards.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Last of My Film Project

So this will be the last of the pictures that I printed out this semester. These four were for my final project. I ended up focusing on people who were characters. People who drew me in for one reason or another. People who you know just by meeting them that there's a story. I didn't always get their stories, but you just know they have a good one.

This gal was at an event where Music Man played. When I originally saw her, she was also wearing white cats-eye glasses. I think she set them down somewhere by the time I asked if I could take her picture.

This is Ernie Lizarraga. He was one of ten motorcyclists, on eight bikes, that were run over by a dump truck driven by a guy with meth in his system. Four people died, five were injured, he was the one with the worst injuries. I didn't know this when I saw him and two other guys with bikes in his driveway. I just saw someone I wanted to photograph. I got to meet his wife Lorri today when I dropped off the original print at their house. In the short time I spoke Ernie and his friends and family, over the two meetings, it's pretty obvious they're a tight group. I'm glad I stopped off to grab a few pictures.

This is Candi and while she is sweet, she's also a tough lady that can get things done. She was/is a client of mine, but she's also become a friend. I look forward to her moving to town so I can meet with her more than once every six months.

And this is Markus, from West Virginia, and his dog whose name I cannot remember. Markus is parked at the end of an off-ramp off one of the freeways running through town. When I asked if I could take his picture, he seemed a little hesitant at first but agreed when I told him it was for a class. I only had time to take two shots, this one was actually the first one I took. The film in the camera being wound forward made his dog look at me and I really liked that he was looking at his owner in this one. When I look at this picture I think that this guy is doing exactly what he should be doing right now, anybody else would have looked out of place. Not sure why, but that's what comes to mind.

So anyway, I do have one roll of black & white film left that I will be using up on Master J this weekend. There's a place across town that can develop the type of film I had to buy for the class. I'll miss doing the actual processing, but it might be a nice change of pace to just drop it off and then pick it up in a day or so.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Latest Goings On With Our Pack of Crazies

The Hooligan has a question...(he's very serious as you can see)

What would happen if word got out about how good your stupid chickens have it in the backyard?

I mean, you friggin heat up oatmeal for them when it gets below freezing (blech!)

Oh, a dove would move into the coop and refuse to stay out no matter how many times you removed it? And it would eat the free food, drink the never-ending water supply and hang out on the very safe from predators roost?


You didn't really think that one through did you?

I approve of this line of questioning.

So, yeah, a dove has moved into the coop with the girls and refuses to leave or stay out after repeated removal. But it gets worse. Because this morning when I went out to bring the girls their hot oatmeal (shut up, it's cold out) the stupid dove was not only in the coop, it was sitting on the back of Peaches. What. The. Hell?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Today's Accomplishment

Did I tell you that we hired out the painting of the pergola that Mister C built? My original plan was to paint the parts before the guys built it. The thought process being that once it was all together, it would be easy to just touch up the spots where needed and I wouldn't have to figure out how to crawl all over the structure. That was the plan. You know how well those go.

The main problem to working out the plan was that Mister C never actually purchased the parts until the day they built the pergola. Obviously I wasn't going to get away with having everyone wait around while I painted everything so it got built with the raw wood.

At the end of the very long weekend I looked at that pergola and and I thought "There is no way in hell I'm painting that thing!" I mean seriously, I had zero desire to figure out how to paint the top side of the lattice pieces with a brush. Realizing that his painter was rebelling, Mister C made the (only viable) decision to hire out the painting.

I did try to call Mark, the guy that painted our house a year ago. Mark was a neighbor that had a painting business and we'd seen plenty of his work in our neighborhood. He did an awesome job for what I would consider a really good price. He ended up short selling his house not long after he finished painting our house and moved to the other side of town. But I still had his number and I thought that surely I could have him come back to do this project. But unfortunately his number now goes to a message that says it's no longer in service. Sigh.

So I asked around and got the name of another painter, George. I called him and he said he could come out in a few days to give me a quote. The very next day he rang my bell and introduced himself. I figured, wow, this guy is on the ball!

The first thing he said was that he couldn't do the job for less than $500. Which seemed a tad high for the amount of work he would be doing. More so because Mark had done the entire house for about four times that amount. But I understand, he needs to keep his guys working and he has to pay them a certain amount. So fine, I tell him to send them out and get it done.

Fast forward a few days.

Now it's Friday afternoon, around 2:00, and suddenly there are four guys standing on my front porch. Sadly, only one of them speaks (minimal) English so the entire conversation consists of singular words and pointing. Awesome. Oh and here's a side note that I know from previous experience: Don't ever let workers start a project on Friday afternoon. Why? Because all they really care about is getting to Friday night and their favorite beer. And the only thing between them and that Friday night beer is your project. Which they will rush through and cut corners on. Seriously. I've had enough guys do piss-poor work on Fridays that I should know better than to even let them start. But they are here and they have paint and I think "Surely it will be different this time..."

It is not different this time (nor will it ever be.)

They come to the front door less than an hour later and announce (in singular words and with gestures) that they are done. And I need to go check out their fantastic job so they can go. So I send Mister C out to do so. And he is forced to point out to them that they have missed several areas.

Fifteen minutes later they are back at my front door. Mister C is now on the phone so I am the one to go out and check their work so they can be released to their beer. I go out, look at the area where Mister C had previously pointed to problems and it looks good (or at least somewhat painted.) Then I drag the guy's ladder over so I can see what the top looks like. The painter looks a little panicked at that but at least he holds the ladder. I get to the top and realize he hasn't painted the top of the trim board. At all. Not one lick of primer or paint. Oh, did I not mention that they were supposed to both prime and paint this structure? Yeah, that comes back up later. Anyway, I climb down from the ladder and the painter goes back up to paint the top of the trim board.

Five minutes later he's at my door again. Something strikes me as wrong but I can't pinpoint what it is so I head back outside to see what he's done. I see that he has "accidentally" taken the ladder to his truck. I mention that I need to get my ladder to see the top and he laughs about his "mistake" and goes to get his ladder. I climb back up top and see that there's paint on the top of the board. Yay! It looks like they finally get those beers after all. We give them the check and send them on their way.

At some point in the middle of the night I wake up and realize what was bothering me about the trim board with the missing paint. When I noticed it, I was looking at raw wood. And he was at my door within five minutes. Which means there's no way in hell he primed the board before painting it. Which means there's no way in hell he primed any of it. Grrrr!

The next morning I have Mister C get out our ladder and I go up to view the top of the pergola from different angles. From the front side (where I was the day before) it looks okay. But from the other side, it's very obvious that they only sprayed from the front side and didn't do it from all angles. And it also very obvious that I'm looking at bare wood, so no primer was used at all. Which really pisses me off.

I get that my little piddly pergola painting job isn't a high end money maker for anyone. But I already overpaid for it in the first place, why eff it up and go cheap on it? Why cut corners and do a half-ass job? Why piss me off? As a homeowner there's always a ton of little things that need to be done, chief among them are painting projects. House exteriors in Arizona are generally repainted every five to ten years. But beyond that, I have neighbors that I talk to, friends, family members. And most importantly, I'm a Realtor, I have clients and I know a ton of other Realtors who are always looking for good references. All of whom could have gotten a glowing review from me of your company's work. Conceivably hundreds of potential clients for your painting company now didn't get your name because you screwed up. Because you hired some guys that probably aren't really painters at all but just the guys you could hire for the least amount of money. Maybe they're really plumbers or electricians or veterinarians (not joking about that one, I had a client from Ecuador that was a licensed vet at home that worked for the local garbage company.) Whatever they are or were, they weren't painters.

After I got done yipping to Mister C about the shoddy work, he went ahead and called and left a message for George to complain. In his defense, George did call back immediately and promise to make it right. He insisted that there was primer used, just that he had it tinted to match the paint color. Which, I call bullshit on because I know the difference between raw wood and wood that has been painted but whatever, he says he's going to make it right so I'm good.

And he does send that same crew back out the next day. And they do whatever it is they do for at least thirty minutes. And when I check it out, it looks like they've at least got paint on anything. At this point, that's about all I'm looking for. So I send the painter on his way. And today, I went out and painted the end of one board that they completely missed, and repainted the trim boards. Because at this point I just wanted it done and done right.

And I will never recommend George's company to anyone as long as I live. And if anyone asks about his company I will tell them to avoid him like the plague. And if I have nobody else to recommend for them, I will at least tell them to make sure their project doesn't get started on a Friday afternoon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Garden Update

After leveling the gardens (again), watching Mister C adjust (and re-adjust) the sprinkler heads, and one last trip to Home Depot, I finally planted the strawberry plants today.

Up until now, they've been sitting by my kitchen sink, in the plastic bin I had planted them in two weeks ago when they arrived. It's probably good I could finally plant them in the ground though since they were already outgrowing the bin. Also, it turns out the nursery in Georgia, Willis Orchard*, gave us extra strawberry plants so I ended up with twenty eight to plant. Which is awesome. As a side note they also tossed in an extra blackberry and an extra raspberry plant in the original order as well. I don't know if this is standard practice for them or what but I can tell you that I was impressed that they did it.

After the planting, I spent a little time moving rocks from the piles in our side yard to around the raised garden beds. I managed five wheelbarrow fulls before I decided to hang it up for the day. That's hard work shoveling, moving, dumping and raking rocks. My hat's off to those that do this on a daily basis, I sure don't love it.

SO at this point we're really close to being done with the backyard. Move some more gravel, plant some vegetables and eventually put in two apple trees and that should be it. Oh yeah, I also ordered some grape vines today from the same company. I had to order six because they are so cheap that the two I really needed didn't add up to the minimum order amount. Luckily for me, Miss Lee said she would like some to put on her grape arbor so she'll be buying the other four. We will need to help her and Music Man reinforce or rebuild her arbor since it's been sitting empty for awhile, but helping family is always a good thing anyway.

Some day I might get to hang out on my patio with a no guilt about what I should be doing in my yard. In the meantime, I'll do a little bit every day and hopefully reap the rewards in a few months when I have my own bountiful baskets growing in my backyard.

*I am not in any way affiliated with nor compensated by Willis Orchard, I just really liked my dealings with them.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Latest Photography Project

I've been working on the final project for my photo class. It's a self driven, choose your own project type of project. So I've been flailing about for a week or so trying to pin down what I'm doing. I've narrowed it to "people", but that's about it. So far I've taken pictures of various shop owners, bikers, homeless guys and tattoo artists. I think I'm narrowing it down a little, but I'm still not sure on direction. I guess I'll see what shakes out this coming week since the project is due the following week. In the meantime, I did manage to get one decent picture printed out at last Wednesday's class.

The gal below, Leah, is a tattoo artist at the shop Inkenstein in the historic part of Glendale. She was gracious enough to allow me to take her picture on not one, but two separate occasions. I'm sure she wasn't completely comfortable having a stranger in her face taking an entire role of film, but she was game. Anyway, the one picture I printed was from that shoot. Also, since I'm working in black and white you can't see her hair color, which was bright blue and purple. Which was awesome.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this day of gratitude...

I'm grateful for the health of my friends and family and praying for those who are sick. I'm grateful for the roof over our heads and the food on our table and praying for those who have neither. I'm grateful for the opportunities available to us through education and jobs and praying that those who need them most will have them available as well. Mostly I'm grateful for everyone in my life who brings joy, love and friendship, and praying that I do the same for someone else.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Finishing up the Backyard

So if you remember back a few posts you'll remember that I promised to take pictures of the big pile of dirt on my patio. Well, I've waited long enough that now I can just do the update for the (almost) grand finale of the backyard project. That "almost" is there strictly because we haven't actually put all of the plants in. We're still missing our vegetables. But anyway, pictures!

Here's the pile of garden soil on my patio. It's not as full as it was because the day I planted the berry bushes I took about seven wheelbarrows out of it for the berry gardens. Also, the smaller pile in the background is the stuff Mister C pulled out of the berry garden so he could redo the irrigation. Which is somewhat messed up due to over abundance of sprinkler heads. But that's a story for another day. But anyway, look, dirt.

Here are the raised garden beds that Mister C and I built with our own two hands. Ignore that they are not lined up correctly and look lopsided. We hadn't lined them up and leveled them at this point in the process. I was just taking pictures as we went along. As you can see we built three beds, each one is eight foot by four foot for a total of...I'm not doing math so assume a lot of room to plant.

And here's Mister C admiring his newly filled in raised garden beds with their (over abundant) sprinkler system. What a beautiful sight, a freshly filled garden bed, ready for planting. But hang on, it looks like something IS already in the garden...

Ah hell, guess who found the nice soft dirt in the raised garden?

Mister C was not impressed with the girls antics. The dirt was flying for a few minutes while they all dug down little holes in which to bath themselves and then settled in for a nap. Like we spent building the beds, putting together the sprinkler and hauling three yards of dirt over just so they could have a place to hang out in style.

Wait, we didn't build this for the girls enjoyment? I'm shocked!

More pictures eventually, as soon as I move the strawberries from my kitchen window out to the garden and put some actual vegetables out there. Currently? Still a chicken playground.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

And So It Begins

The annual holiday begging has started on Craigslist. It seems excessively early this year, but maybe they're paying more attention to the stores than to the calendar and figure it's time. There are always people asking for free items on Craigslist, but the numbers increase the closer we get to Christmas.

For the record, I have nothing against helping someone in need. I've given away my fair share of food, clothing, gifts and money to various charities, food pantries, churches and individuals. I'm not talking about the people who are truly in need. I'm not talking about people that find themselves in dire straights due to job loss or some such. No, I'm referring to the people who make a living off the charity of others. And those who up the ante around the holidays to prey on people trying to generous.

Exhibit 1:

Free Motorcycle Wanted! (El Mirage)
Date: 2011-10-10, 11:25AM MST

Hi, I know this sounds crazy, but I need to cut down gas costs. I currently am spending over 300 a month on gas and can't afford it anymore. I am a single mom, working full time, and going to school. I need a fully working motorcycle that will get me to work and back. I can't afford payments, obviously, and don't have money saved up to buy one. I had one previously, but due to a divorce and a near bankruptcy, my parents bought it and my dad is trying to fix it up for himself. Between the insurance and gas money on that, I believe I will be able to save around $100 a month, and that is a wonderful thing for someone who has absolutely ZERO left over every month! PLEASE HELP! I know I am asking for a miracle, but I am praying that God will provide me with it! Please e-mail me at the e-mail address provided by craigslist or text me.

Thank you and God Bless!


While I appreciate the logic of trying to save money on gas by getting a bike, it seems like the high price of gas is the least of your problems. I'm fairly sure that God does not in fact supply free motorcycles. Especially not ones that are "fully working". Also, nice dad you got there.

Exhibit 2:

Date: 2011-11-12, 6:30PM MST


Ummm, maybe forgo the tree this year? Do you still have a string of lights from previous years? Because I've made a tree shape out of lights on the wall before and then taped paper ornaments inside the outline. It actually looked pretty cool and it didn't cost me anything. It should be noted that this particular lister has been putting various versions of this same ad up since mid-October.

Exhibit 3:

I need furniture beds,couches,tv etc - $20 (phx)
Date: 2011-11-13, 4:14PM MST

is anyone giving away any beds couches tvs household items. im in need of donations I do not have anything in my apartment, I do have a little cash maybe like 20 if anyone haz a heart please can u help this mom out call me xxx xxx xxxx

Okay, pulling the mom card is almost understandable, trying to guilt us by suggesting that if we don't give to you we must not "haz a heart" is less so. Asking for beds is acceptable, asking for tvs not so much. Also, Craigslist really doesn't limit the number of characters you use so you can actually spell out all of your words. And don't get me started on the lack of capitalization and random punctuation.

Exhibit 4:

Piano (PHX)
Date: 2011-11-12, 10:02AM MST

If anyone has a piano they would like to give away I would gladly take it. I can hire someone to move it, so you don't have to worry about damage to your home.

Wow, that's so nice that you'll hire someone to remove it from my home. I guess I should be grateful you didn't ask me to deliver it. But seriously, are there that many people giving away pianos these days?

I'm sure the number of ads and the feeling of desperation conveyed will increase exponentially with each week closer to Christmas we get. The week before Christmas will invariably be filled with people angrily complaining about all of the "grinches" in this town that must want the kids to suffer with no Christmas presents under the tree, blah, blah, blah. I'm not heartless, I just find it interesting how many people out there think that everyone one else should supply their houseful of furniture and holiday cheer.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Latest Backyard Projects

Last weekend Mister C invited a friend over to hang out. Okay, not really. What really what happened is that his friend drove over sixty miles across the valley just to help Mister C build our new pergola. His friend was even kind enough to bring his fourteen year old apprentice, aka his son Wes. Mister C has nice friends.

Anyway, here's a picture of the before...

And here's the end result.

I think they did a fantastic job, especially since I didn't have to lift one single board.

Today on the other hand, Mister C and I put together three raised garden bed frames and I did have to lift many heavy boards. But in the end it worked out pretty well since here's our final product (sans dirt currently.)

It should be noted that we moved the three boxes around several times (more heavy lifting) and ended up right back where we started. I guess I can't complain since I'm the one that had grand ideas of how they should be arranged. Sadly, I'm also the one who originally suggested the configuration that we started and ended with.

The girls found very the boxes very appealing.

The plan is to fix the irrigation tomorrow after church and then start filling them in with the three and a half yards of dirt that was delivered Monday. I had a picture of the pile on my patio but it disappeared so I'll retake it tomorrow as part of the garden finishing post.

At the end of the day I sat down on the front box and was almost immediately approached by Rocky who was looking for a place to roost. Unfortunately for her I had to get dinner ready so she was out of luck tonight.

And finally, there's been a lot of feathers floating around the place lately. I suspect there's some kind of molt going on. There's certainly a lot of fluffing and cleaning of feathers going on. Like this...

I'm fairly sure Wedge is giving me the evil eye for my lack of sense in taking pictures of her backside. Ah well, I'm sure she forgot about it less than two seconds later.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank you Veterans

For all you've done. For all you're currently doing. And for all you will do in the future to assure the people of this country the freedoms we so cherish. "Thank you" is never enough, but I say it with such gratitude.

Thank you.

Saturday, November 5, 2011



Friday, November 4, 2011

Skipping Gratitude, Going Straight To Greed

The three cats spent the first hour of their day today winding around our legs and running from the kitchen to the laundry room yowling at us. Eventually one of us (okay, it was Mister C) figured out that they had no food left. And there was no food in the pantry because I had run out last week. So, while Master J was showering I hopped in my car and headed over to Walmart to stock up and shut up the frenzied felines.

I've said before that I don't love this store. I think it mistreats it's employees and sells way too much cheap, foreign crap. But I digress. The main thing is that when I walked in the door I was greeted with full Christmas regalia. A huge decorated tree was by the door and the ten aisles that a few days ago were stocking candy and costumes were now loaded with Christmas candy and decor.

Are you kidding me? What happened to celebrating Thanksgiving? What the hell Walmart? Just. What. The. Hell.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Picture heavy update post...

So I hope your Halloween was happy in a scary, creepy sort of way. I'm becoming more entranced with the holiday every year, it's becoming my favorite holiday. It's not as commercialized as Christmas has become which is a huge thing. I love Christmas, totally love going to the service and seeing the birth of Jesus played out by the kids, but the rest of it is hugely corporate. Halloween is cheaper...a few bags of candy, maybe a new costume if Master J has grown a bunch, pizza for dinner. The house decorations take less than two hours to put up and take down. And I never have to cook on Halloween (see dinner plans above). Plus there's zero family/holiday related stress because really, how much stress can there be to show up any time before dark and eat pizza? So anyway, I enjoyed it immensely and so did Master J. We have way too much candy leftover however so I'm going to be donating it. Southwest Ambulance is doing a collection for the troops this Thursday in our area. I just need to bag it up and write a letter to accompany it and they'll take care of the rest.

Anyway, here's a couple of pictures of my pumpkins this year. And no, the pumpkin on the right does not say "MOM", it's supposed to say "NOM" as in "Om, nom, nom!" but evidently I carve words as well as I write them thereby rendering them easily mis-read.

And a chicken update. The Flockers are doing well, eating everything in sight and growing quickly. I let them out in the morning for at least an hour to scrounge around in the yard. Then in the evening, before dusk, I let them out again so they can stretch their wings and eat bugs. For the last week, my barred rock hen has decided that I'm her new roost. As dusk falls and the other five girls head to the coop, Rocky comes over to where I'm sitting, hops up on my lap and cleans her feathers for a few minutes before settling in. I always end up having to carry her to the coop once I'm ready to go in for the night. I have no idea why she does this, it's just yet another abnormal animal in my horde.

And since this is an update post, I'll post a few recently printed pictures from my class.

Here's The Antagonizer doing her very best impersonation of a baboon...

I know right? Crazy awesome impersonator that cat. The picture was taken through the screen, I was on the patio at the time.

And here's Miss Lee and Music Man's miniature Dachshund, the ever adorable Lola...

I think that's about all that's new for today. I'll try to post more regularly since I seemed to fall of the planet periodically through October.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Size Matters

We stopped at the grocery store last night after doing Movie Night at Master J's school. We were primarily there for one item but ended up buying a bunch of steaks that were more than half off. I think we got enough for the rest of the year but whatever. Anyway, while we're standing in line Mister C decides to pick up some Hershey's bars that are labeled as a two for one sale. Master J is perusing the candy and he notices the really big Hershey bars at the end...

Master J: Hey, these are called "King Size" candy bars.
Mirth: Yup.
Master J: Where's the "Peasant Size" ones?
Mirth: Hahaha!
Mister C: What did he just say?
Mirth: He asked where the Peasant Size ones are.
Mister C: That's really funny.
Mirth: Yup.

Did I ever tell you guys about the time he requested a "Rook" size bed? He was really into chess at the time.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Horse Races

I haven't been to the races in years, maybe decades. Today, Mamoo and I went to hear Music Man sing (and Miss Lee as well) at Turf Paradise. In between things, I got to watch the races. I'm not a big gambler so after picking three losers and one winner I was only down $2.60. But it sure was fun to watch the ponies run.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Night Special

This is what happens when somebody doesn't put the lid on tightly on their leftovers and I try to move it to make space for something else. Also, note that Tiberius has no issue with pushing his way to the front of the chow line even if it means going underneath the fifty pound dog. That cat has no pride whatsoever.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Karma, she is a quick b!tch

The kids had early release today and, as always, the principal sent out a voice-mail last night reminding everyone to be on their very best behavior after they got released. Apparently some of the kids did not get the message.

I picked up Master J and we went out to lunch and ran a few errands afterwards. One of those errands was to go to my least favorite box store, WallyWorld.

As we pulled into the lot, there was a large group of kids blocking most of one aisle and moving slowly across. They were not in the least concerned that they were impeding traffic being much too concerned with yelling and laughing loudly so that everyone would notice how cool they were. I parked at the first available spot and Master J and I walked passed the hoard and on into the store. Eventually the hooligans made it inside as well where they proceeded to ride scooters down the aisles, move items around, yell and laugh uproariously and make a general nuisance of themselves. We finished our shopping and headed out to our last errand.

On our way back home, we headed down the same street that WallyWorld is located on. Coming toward us was the very same hoard, now broken into two groups separated by about twenty feet. The first group was yelling and trying to get reactions from oncoming traffic. The second group was firing bottle rockets at each other and towards the traffic. Oh, so hysterically funny right? Too bad for them that not only are bottle rockets illegal in the city limits, but also that the white truck behind me wasn't just another car. It was a cop. A cop who flipped on his lights and pulled over immediately to confront the hoard.

I don't think I've laughed that hard in awhile. And when I was done laughing, I pointed out to Master J that even if everyone else is being an idiot, the best thing to do is NOT be an idiot. Because the odds are, you will get caught. And my guess is that in that situation it would have been much better to be caught by Mom & Dad.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tonsil Removal in Adulthood

Apparently it sucks big time.

Mister C suffers from sleep apnea and has since at least his early twenties. He was told way back then that he could have his tonsils and adenoids removed and it would very likely solve his problem. He did not have the surgery done then. No, he suffered with the apnea for two full decades before finally deciding to go ahead and get his tonsils and adenoids removed. Along with some minor nasal surgery via laser just for good measure. This was last Thursday morning.

As of tonight, a full three and a half days later, he is still miserable. His pain medication, while strong, wears off about two hours before he can take it again. And eating and drinking have become a painful chore that he has to endure in order to not become dehydrated. There's about a two to three hour period, starting about a half hour after he takes the medicine, where he's actually somewhat feeling pretty good. Otherwise, not so much.

As of right now, Mister C has put himself back to bed for the night. I'm staying up for as long as possible because I don't want to miss giving him his medicine at midnight. I'm hopeful that he will start on the upswing tomorrow. And until he gets fully healed I guess I'll be doing my best nurse impersonation. Having said that, if he continues getting cranky when the meds wear off I might start wearing a name tag that says "Nurse Ratched" to remind him who's in charge. Get better babe, or else.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Rewind

My sister, Miss Lee, putting on some lipstick while I stand in her tub trying to get the shot. The things I do for my class...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Street View

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Flockers are Growing

Either Peaches or Cream. I can't tell them apart unless they are standing next to each other.


Rocky in the foreground, Leia behind.

I believe this is Leia.

I just like their little tail feathers

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My first printing

So here's that picture I promised.

This is the first ever photo that I've taken where I've gone through the whole process from beginning to end.

I took it (obviously). I developed the negatives starting in the dark room and going through all the chemicals, agitations and timers. I made a contact sheet and then chose which photo to produce from that. Then (after many, many test strips) I got the right combination of time, aperture and filter. I enlarged the photo onto my paper and went through the chemical process of developer, stop-bath and fixer to produce the final product. So, recognizing that it's not some prize winning photo (cause I totally do recognize that), going through the process was so very, very amazingly cool. I feel like I did something, I didn't just push a button. So, yeah, totally loving film photography.

Also, I totally needed to straighten the negative out in the holder, whoops!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another Update Post

I can't believe I haven't posted anything in a week. What on earth have I been doing with my time? Well, we won't count today where I spent a good portion of my day looking up and watching Tim Hawkins videos and laughing my backside off. But mostly, I've been playing catch-up with life.

For instance, I finally got around to moving some plants into new pots this week. The pots we had all of our plants in had been falling apart for some time. They were those clay pots that apparently get weakened every time you water your plants. This starts by just leaving a little rust colored ring under the pot. It escalates to where little pieces are flaking off the pot. And it eventually ends up where large chunks are breaking off. So several weeks ago Mister C and I hit the home repair store and picked up some nice, environmentally unsound, fiberglass pots in colors not found in nature. We also bought some new soil in large bags that would tear open if I so much as looked at them. That weakness lasted right up to when I wanted to actually open them and get at the dirt, then the plastic would rebind itself and be nearly impossible to tear open. Anyway, two days of work later and I had moved all my previously potted plants to their new homes as well as moving the gladiolas and remaining calla lilies out of the garden that will soon be used for vegetables.

Mister C and I also finally got around to attending class to get our CCW license. This past Saturday we had Mamoo watch Master J while we spent five hours learning the rules and laws and practicing on the range. Which, by the way, was quite interesting. Because a few of the guys were pretty cocky when they got out there, until our instructor singled them out for their transgressions. Not to worry, he got after me as well, but at least I admit I'm no professional. But, there was a gal out there that was not in our class but was on the range with us that made me smile widely. We went up to shoot in groups of five and since there were eighteen of us in the class, there were four different relays. This lady was number six in each relay.

When we first got to the range I noticed this older gal up speaking with the instructor. She looked to be in her late sixties, maybe early seventies and probably eighty pounds soaking wet. Her dyed blond hair was piled on top of her head in a loose bun. She had red lacquered fingernails, full makeup and cat's eye sunglasses on. She was carrying a large, straw bag with her wallet, bottled water and whatever else it was she needed. Which in this case was her not so dainty weapon. Now, I don't know enough about guns to be able to identify what kind it was, I just know it was comparable in size and look to the one Mister C was using, which if I recall correctly is a 9mm glock. And man could this gal shoot. Since she was a part of each relay, she ended up firing sixty rounds. And I'm not joking when I tell you that not one of those rounds went anywhere except within one of the three target areas. Not one. Maybe she's a natural, although I'm sure she practices regularly to get that good. But however she does it, she was awesome to watch. She would be in a perfect stance, snapping her gum, he would blow the whistle, she would aim and fire. And it would be perfect. Man I love old ladies like this one!

The flockers are doing well. They're growing daily and feathering out nicely. They also have learned that when I greet them with "Hi girls, you want a snack?" there will be good stuff involved and so they come right over. While I don't think they'll ever be "pets", I do think good planning on my part will make removing their eggs a lot easier later I have no desire to have to fight my girls so I'd rather socialize them now while they're still babies.

Here's four of them in the snack bowl this morning.

My photography class has been really cool. I love the actual creation of pictures, it is amazing. I forgot my negatives at home the other night so I didn't get the chance to print out any pictures but hopefully I'll be able to do something tonight that I can post next time.

Finally, Mister C and I are taking an organic gardening class, which will be followed by a container gardening class. There's a ton of information to learn for us, and it's being presented pretty fast and furious. Hopefully between the two of us we'll get everything we need to get moving on our gardens.

I think that about wraps it up. Lots of stuff going on as well as lots of learning. So, it's all good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I've mentioned that I'm taking a black and white film photography class this semester that I'm really enjoying. Well last night we got an assignment to take a roll of photos at various times of day. We need the photos for Wednesday's class. One of the times of day he wants us to shoot is at high noon, or basically any time between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm when the sun is at it's highest and strongest. So I had this great idea that I would go to a nearby trail and hike so I could pictures of the sun on the rock outcroppings. Doesn't that sound great? I know, right? About 10:30 this morning I look at the thermometer sitting at 85 degrees and start thinking that maybe I should figure out someplace else to go photograph. But I can't think of anything that's appealing that I haven't already done. At 11:15 I get in my car with my camera bag and my water bottle and drive to the trail head. Before I get out, I check my car's thermometer and see the temps have risen slightly to 87 degrees. Not unbearable, yet. So I head out.

I haven't hiked in a good six months or better. And I'm pretty sure I've gained back most of what I'd lost the last time I was hiking. So, out of shape, overweight, haven't done anything in awhile, temps slightly uncomfortable and I'm carrying an extra ten pounds of gear on my back. Should be fun.

Now I have a methodology for hiking that gets me through most of the misery. It's a highly technical method called "don't look up." See, if I don't see how far I have to go, it's not so overwhelming. So I shuffle along looking at the ground directly in front of my feet and just take one step at a time. All I'm trying to do is get to one of the peaks in enough time to get some decent pictures. I will say that I didn't do as badly as I thought I would. But it wasn't pretty. Also, I didn't get passed by the normal train of people either. No kids, old people, morbidly obese, people on crutches or three legged dogs. Just a few people in reasonably good shape. So I didn't feel too badly.

Anyway, I got up to where I needed to be in plenty of time, took my pictures and headed back down. And would you believe that the downhill was actually worse? I think it's because the temperature had risen by that point and the sun was beating on my head. I hadn't had enough sense to wear the hat I keep in the car because when I started there was some cloud cover and I thought I would be fine. Not so much. At high noon there's absolutely no shade on the trail. I ended up stopping more frequently on the way down than I had on the way up. By the time I got to the bottom my brains were fried. Once I got into my car I cranked the ac and just sat there for a few minutes while I cooled off. The temperature had hit 91 by the time I got back to my car.

Obviously, for health reasons, I need to do this more often. Just a whole lot earlier in the day. And preferably without the extra ten pounds of cameras.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pulled in two directions

So I recognize that it's the ten years to the day after the attack on our home soil and the murder of thousands. But it's also my mom's sixty fifth birthday. Ten years ago I was sitting in my living room holding a six month old Master J watching in disbelief as the second plane hit the tower and then the ensuing collapse of both buildings. I didn't even remember until two days later that it had been my mom's birthday. Unfortunately for her, her birthday will now forever be tied to that horrible day. So while I believe it is so very important for us to not forget what happened to and to try and use it to make this country stronger in unity, I also want to make sure to give a shout out to my mom.

Happy 65th Mamoo. I love you greatly.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I really class up the joint...

So Mister C and I went out to dinner at a very nice sushi restaurant with another couple (D and L) tonight. We were enjoying ourselves immensely, both for the good food and the great company. It was a great time, other than our waitress.

Our waitress seemed to be either slow witted or simply unfocused because she would wander off and forget to come back. For instance, we arrived at the restaurant first and got seated. The waitress asked us what we wanted to drink and if we wanted an appetizer and we said we thought so but we hadn't looked at the menu yet so she said she would right back and then wandered off. Our friends arrived about five or ten minutes later and then had to wait another five minutes for the waitress to wander back and take their drink order. When she brought their drinks she asked about the appetizers and our friends said yes, but they hadn't looked at the menu yet. Our waitress said she'd be back and then wandered off. She eventually returned and got our appetizer order and then, taking into account her track record, we decided to go ahead and just order our entrees at the same time.

L asked a few questions about some entree or another and then, since we had ordered two large appetizers, decided to go with a seared tuna appetizer as her meal. She was very clear that she was having this for her meal, not the appetizer.

So of course, the first thing the waitress brought back was the tuna. L looked at it and decided it couldn't be what she ordered because first of all, it was being served before the other appetizers and secondly, because it wasn't seared at all. It was cold. L decided she was okay with it being raw as she prefers it that way anyway, but she didn't want to eat it before our meals arrived so she set it aside. Eventually the other appetizers and the rest of our meals arrived and we all dug in. Our waitress did manage to refill drinks once but otherwise was nowhere to be seen.

About two thirds of the way through dinner though, I felt something weird when I tried to move my feet under my chair. My foot seemed to be stuck on something and I couldn't untangle it. It turns out that my right shoe had decided that this was the perfect time to give up the ghost and die. The sole had completely separated from the rest of the shoe. Now, I don't feel too badly about their quality because I've had these particular shoes for at least fifteen years. But timing wise, it kind of sucked. We were sitting smack dab in the middle of the restaurant, surrounded by tons of people. So, I kept the shoe on for a little longer while debating what I should do. I seriously considered asking our waitress if she could bring me some black electrical tape or duct tape from the kitchen. But she had already proved to be less than a stellar communicator and I just didn't see her being able to understand my request and help me out without a big production that would draw even more attention to my predicament. I finally decided to wait until the end of the meal and then go ahead and ask her if she could bring me a bag, figuring that was a pretty simple request. My plan was straightforward, ask for a bag, remove shoes to said bag, casually walk out of the restaurant. So I ask for a bag.

And she says "A box?"
"No," I say, "a bag."
"A box? How many boxes do you need?"
"I just need a bag."
D says he would like a box. This seems to make our waitress happy. And then she points at my plate and says "A box?"
"Sure." I say. At this point I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get a pair of four inch heels in a to-go box but I'm done trying to request something that is obviously so difficult.

The waitress wanders off and comes back with two boxes and a bag. I assume you can only have a bag if you get a box. Whatever, I have my bag. But now, she's handing me a box as well. I don't really want to take my fried rice home with me but I figure I should probably just go ahead and box it up so I don't cause anymore problems.

First I try to shovel up the perfect circle of rice with my fork to put it in the box but it starts breaking apart as soon as I do. So I lift up my plate with the intention of scraping it into the box, only nothing ever works that easily with me. No, the huge plate is ungainly and evidently the rice is extremely slipper because it starts a slow slide toward the edge of the plate. Unfortunately for me, the edge of the plate isn't over the box, it's hovering over my lap. So, yeah. About a cup of greasy fried rice falls into my lap before I can get the plate over the stupid box that I never wanted in the first place.

So there I am with a lap full of rice, my unwanted box full of more rice and nothing but a cloth napkin to clean it up with. I don't want to make a huge mess of my napkin so I start pulling the rice off my lap by hand and putting it on the plate. Only now, the waitress who couldn't remember where we were for the majority of the evening has suddenly decided she has to bus our table RIGHT NOW! So before I can get more than one handful of rice onto my plate she whips it off the table. So I try for Mister C's plate but that is also whipped off the table. So the third bit goes on to L's plate before that gets removed. I never had a chance at D's plate so I gave up and started putting the rice into my napkin. It took a while but I finally got every last grain of rice off my lap (and chair, and purse) and into the napkin. I'm sure they were thrilled when they picked that up.

Which now leads to what to do about my shoes. I had my bag so I casually reached under the table and removed my shoes and dropped them into the bag. When everyone else stood up, so did I. I had my purse and bag of shoes in one hand and my unwanted box of greasy rice in the other. And I walked out like it was totally normal to be in an upscale restaurant with a greasy lap and barefooted. Because that's just how I do things.

Of course the best part is that after we walked out of the restaurant I looked for the nearest garbage can to get rid of my shoes and only after I had dropped them in did I realize that for anyone sitting inside the place it looked like I had just thrown out my leftovers as soon as I left the restaurant.

I don't think Mister C is going to take me back there any time soon.

Friday, September 9, 2011


So I'm sitting here with Mister C watching some show he recorded about Ronald Reagan and listening to the rain pour down. We haven't had a good storm in a while so I'm thoroughly enjoying hearing the thunder pound and seeing the lighting. However, I wasn't so thrilled forty minutes ago when I was on my way home from the store and the lighting started in force. Mostly because when I left for the store Master J had planted himself on a blanket inside the chicken coop to feed to feed them some tomatoes. Yeah, my only child sitting inside a metal cage in a lighting storm, awesome. But once I got him inside, and moved the babies to the garage so they didn't get wet, I could enjoy the storm. And now the hail has started pounding the garage door so hard and fast that it sounds like two drummers competing on Caribbean steel drums. It really is an enjoyable change of pace from the heat.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pinhole Camera

So this is my pinhole camera.

I chose an old container that originally held pork chitterlings. For anyone that is fanning themselves in horror at my abuse of a "vintage" item, get on with the fanning because this thing smelled like an old bag of pork rinds when I bought it. And, at least I'm using it for something. Blah, blah, blah, keep fanning.

Anyway, the first thing I did was to use a matte, black spray paint to cover the inside. Since it was a thousand degrees outside I decided to do this part of the project inside. In my kitchen. Now, in my defense, I did lay down a painting tarp on my kitchen island and I did work very carefully in order to not get over-spray on anything. And I did a really good job with that because not one black spot appeared anywhere except where it was supposed to (and my hand but that's washable.) However, did you know that the fumes from spray paint are kind of noxious? And that even if you turn the stove vent on super high and leave it on for an hour, it still kind of smells? Hm, learn something new every day.

Here's my camera all painted up. The tape in the lid holds the paper.

Then you need a lens of sorts. This is created by cutting a small hole (about 1/2 inch square) in the very center of the end of your container. Then, you take a piece of aluminum (or something equally sturdy) and you poke a pinhole in it (hence the name). Now, the exact size of the pinhole depends on the size of the container. There's a whole calculation involving the length of the container but basically in my case, the pinhole needed to be somewhere between one half and one quarter of 1/16th of an inch. So, in highly technical terms, small. After you've got a pinhole in the aluminum, you line it up to be exactly centered on the hole you centered on your container. For a "shutter" you can use a piece of black electrical tape.

In my case, the bottom of my container became the front of the camera and it looked like this...

The light sensitive paper goes on the opposite side, in my case this was in the lid and I attached it with tape. Because you're working with light sensitive paper you have to "load" the camera in complete darkness. So I shut the bathroom shades and barricaded myself in my closet with towels stuffed under the door and blocking the vent. Unfortunately I have a round camera with no obvious "top" and I really needed to know which was going to be the top so I could load my paper properly and in the dark this would be almost impossible. Lucky for me, one section of the lid had a scuffed area that I could feel and this became my top.

Once the paper is loaded and the camera is closed back up you can leave the dark and go find your subject. You set up your subject and your camera and when you're ready, you remove the black, electrical tape shutter and start timing. Since each camera is different, the exposure time will be different. I tried one minute, two minutes, four minutes and six minutes for each subject. When the time is up, simply slap the tape back on the pinhole, barricade yourself back in the dark and switch out the paper.

The biggest issue with this camera is that I don't have a true dark room with all the chemicals so I can't just develop each picture as I take it to figure out if it worked or not. I had to wait several days after taking the pictures to get back to the lab and develop them. What I figured out was that with my camera, the longer exposures were too long. The first three worked well enough that I could have printed a picture, but six minutes basically came out black. After all of that, when you go to the lab to see what you got you will end up with a negative of the subject.

You pick the best negative and then head back into the lab to produce the picture. The easiest way to explain it is that you take the negative and put it face to face with another piece of light sensitive paper, put glass over the top and then expose it to light. Then, you go through the chemical process again to create your picture.

Now, a couple of things should be noted here. Firstly, the pictures are obviously in black and white. Secondly, they are not razor sharp like regular camera. But, considering that there are no mechanics and it's really just a container with a hole in it, I think they came out pretty cool.

The coop.

Master J reading.

Not bad for an old chitterlings container and some tape.

*side note, the pictures had to be scanned in and sent to my desktop in order to get them on this post.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New abode for the Flockers

The chicken coop got delivered today!

It's not huge, only 4'x 6', but since I plan on allowing the girls time out of it every day it should be fine.

You can't see them but all six babies are in the coop, most likely huddled in horror in one corner. About an hour after I moved them into it they were roaming around picking at the dirt so I think they kind of like their new digs. I certainly think I'll enjoy not having to sweep off my patio every five minutes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fourteen Years

This is the only picture I could find of the two of us from around the time we got married, probably about six months in.

Note the bluish eye shadow on just one eye, evidently this was taken at the end of a long day.

Happy Anniversary Mister C!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Mister C and I have talked extensively about having some chickens around and up until recently the consensus has been that we don't have enough space in our yard and a coop would take up too much of what little we do have. Today we stopped by the local feed shop "just to ask about chickens" and what they require. It turns out that they don't require as much of a coop as previously thought so long as you can let them outside of it every day. And since our yard is surrounded by a six foot block wall...well...

Meet the girls....

(Clockwise starting with the brown one on the far left:
Leia-an Ameraucana; Rocky-a Barred Rock; Red-a Production Red; Wedge-another Ameraucana; Peaches and Cream-the two white leghorns.)

Yeah, I know, they're just chickens. And chickens are for eggs and eating and all that. But these are babies. And babies of any species are adorable. Especially when they fall asleep on you, which Leia did to me twice and to Master J once. The coop won't be delivered until Wednesday, so in the meantime, the girls are hanging out in a bottomless guinea pig cage. We're alternating them between the patio during the day and the garage at night (just in case of a wandering coyote.)

And of course Master J is just in love with the girls. Especially after I told him that chickens eat bugs. Even more so after he saw Peaches snag a spider and gobble it up in about two seconds flat.