Saturday, July 30, 2011

Post #500

And I'm suffering from writer's block. Can you believe that crap? I, who almost never run out of things to say, am at a loss for words. I thought this milestone would be more momentous, have more oomph. Or something. Instead, I will thrill you with an update post.

1. Real estate is picking up, but not in a good way. There are multiple offers on every house my clients want. Good houses go under contract almost before they're on the market for twenty-four hours. Buyers are still working with how the market used to be (about two months ago) and thinking they can low-ball offers and get their dream home. They might be right on properties that need work but the ones that are move in ready are going for well over asking price. Sigh.

2. I finally, just five minutes ago, finished painting my kitchen ceiling. As soon as I post this and grab a bite to eat, I'll be starting on the family room walls. Painting, the bane of my existence.

3. My child got accepted into the "gifted academy" in our local district. He would have to change schools in order to attend. Even though we weren't looking forward to him changing schools, we were very excited about him getting accepted. Until his new teacher sent out her welcome letter. When I saw what her curriculum for the school year was going to be, it seemed a little familiar. So I asked Master J. Yeah, he learned all of the things she mentioned (specifically the math) last year in his normal fourth grade. I'm going to speak with his current school about what their curriculum is for this coming year and if it's what I think it is, he'll be staying where he's at.

4. Remember the HOA issuing the "you have to wait 30 days for us to approve the thing we can't disapprove" letter? So that letter arrived on a Saturday. Mister C contacted our solar guy on Sunday and asked him to hold off on finishing up the project until we had approval. On Monday we got a another letter from the HOA saying "Go ahead with your project that we can't disapprove, we give you permission." Can't tell you how thrilled Mister C was to have to call back the solar guys and be told that they can't come back for a week because they started another project. If it weren't for causing unnecessary setbacks and delays our HOA wouldn't have anything to do.

5. Picked up my Bountiful Baskets again this morning and it seemed a little short. It's supposed to consist of six different fruits and six different vegetables each week. This week's basket contained:

1 5 lb bag of potatoes
1 head of cabbage
1 butternut squash
1 head of romaine
2 bags of green beans
2 tomatoes

4 bananas
1 bunch of grapes
6 peaches
4 plums
1 cantaloupe

So unless I'm counting wrong, that's six vegetables and five fruits. Unless they're questionable about the tomatoes and are counting one of them as a vegetable and the other as a fruit. Then I'm good. It's still at good deal to get all of that for $16.50, especially since it's all fresh and most of it's local.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

HOA Red Tape

So Mister C and I made the leap to getting a whole house solar system installed. We live in Sunshineville where there's about three hundred and sixty days of sunshine a year. Solar just makes sense.

A few years ago our state passed a law stating that HOAs could not interfere with the installation of a solar system. Effectively, they couldn't say that any homeowner couldn't install one, regardless of what their CC&Rs stated. It did say they could have some "reasonable rules regarding the placement of a solar energy device if those rules do not prevent the installation, impair the functioning of the device or restrict its use or adversely affect the cost or efficiency of the device."

The guy doing the install did have to send the HOA a request for permission to do the install but this is really just a formality and most HOAs just send out a "go ahead" notice the same day they get the request. Because at the end of the day they can't legally stop people from installing a solar system.

On Friday, the roofers arrived at five in the morning and started removing the roof tiles to set the posts that will ultimately support the framework for our panels. We are so excited about getting this done because not only is it an environmentally good thing to do but it should save us quite a bit of money over the long term.

Yesterday we got a letter from the HOA telling us that they were sending the request on to the architectural committee to get their input. It would be at least thirty days before they would even consider giving us approval. Additionally, they made sure to tack on that if we started doing anything prior to getting that approval, they would force us to undo what we had done and fine us on top of it.

Are you kidding me?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

An Open Letter

Dear Every Damn Store Whose Website I Have Looked At In The Last Week,

Wow, you sure have some great sites out there! I can't keep track of all the great things you've got going on. There's information about the history of your particular store as well as an entire company history. You've got links for how to have a career at your wonderful store and even how to get in on a franchise opportunity. For you stores that serve food, you give a link to full menus and even an entire breakdown of the nutritional value of every item on the menu. For clothing stores, I can now figure out every item you sell and in what sizes and colors you sell it in. You've been sure to mention your latest sales. You even offer a place to rate your store. But there is one kind of important piece of information that you've forgotten to provide in the vast abyss of information you offer? Not one link leads to this information. Not one little sidebar mentions this very important piece of information. What time do you open your doors?


The Woman Who Didn't Shop Today Because She Didn't Want To Waste Her Time Driving To A Store That Might Be Closed

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Vacation Wrap Up Part II

I took a ton of photos while on vacation. At last count I had over fourteen hundred of them. Now obviously I don't have over fourteen hundred great photos. I probably have three. But you would think with that many that I must have had my camera glued to my hand, ready and waiting at all times. Well, this post is more about the things I didn't get. The ones I missed. Sometimes by a fraction of a second, sometimes by a mile. Either way, things I have no proof that I saw while on vacation.

I didn't get a picture of the bald eagle that flew incredibly close to the ground while we were driving. I certainly saw it in plenty of time to get a fantastic picture of it. But I was way too busy gawking and the conversation went like this...

Mirth: Oh my god! It's a bald eagle! Can you believe that's a bald eagle? I've never seen a real live bald eagle actually flying before! That's so incredible! A bald eagle! Mister C, did you see the bald eagle?"

Mister C: No. Did you get a picture?

Mirth: Oh shit! I should have taken a picture of it. Where's my camera? Where's the eagle? Dammit!

I was switching back and forth between lenses a lot depending on where we were so sometimes what should have been an incredible photo op turned out less than stellar. Like when I used my telephoto lens to take pictures of things that were relatively close because that's what was on the camera when the opportunity arose. Like this...

My he has lovely muscle tone in his butt.

Sometimes Mister C touched things on my camera and then claimed he didn't. Like when I handed him my camera to take some picture out the driver's side window. When he gave it back it took me an hour to put it back to rights and in the meantime all my shots look like this...

I'm still not sure what he did but somehow the auto-focus was all out of whack, the camera was suddenly deciding depth of field and the all the pictures had a dreamy, ethereal feel to them that I wasn't looking for. After pushing different buttons in different orders and eventually setting it back to the factory settings and starting over, I got it back to normal. For his part, Mister C still claims all he did was take the picture. Mmmhmm.

Then there was this shot...

If you close one eye, squint the other, turn your head 98 degrees to the left, stand 100 yards away from your screen and pretend real hard you can see the mountain goat that jumped into the woods. Literally five seconds prior to this magnificent picture, that mountain goat was standing in the middle of the road as we came around a corner. Just standing there, waiting for us. And in the time it took me to scoop my camera off the floor at my feet and take the lens cover off while simultaneously pushing the button to make the window go down the damn goat took off running into the woods. Sigh.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Vacation Wrap Up Part I

We got home from our vacation on Thursday evening. Our original plan was to stop in Omaha for three days on our way home from Fargo. I had scheduled to meet with three fantastic women for various things (lunch, coffee, etc.) while I was in town. I was really looking forward to each and every meet up, but it wasn't meant to be. Unfortunately our host family started throwing up the night before we were set to arrive and hadn't improved by the time we spoke to them on Wednesday morning while we were headed south. After discussing it at length, we decided to make an adjustment in our route and head on home. As much as I would have loved to have seen everyone, the odds of getting sick ourselves was too much of a risk. I had visions of the three of us hanging out at various rest stops until we were well enough to move on to the next available spot. Not so much interested in the whole "Throwing up across America!" tour of 2011.

Anyway, we decided to try and make it to Colorado Springs on the first day. It was a looooooong day of driving. We didn't even eat at restaurants like we usually do, we just ordered and ate in the car. We were trying to avoid going on I-29 because we knew it was flooded further down the so Mister C found what he thought was a workable route. Then, we hit a spot in South Dakota where there had been flooding.

We turned on the two lane and I pointed out the sign that said "No Cars - Trucks Only". Mister C said "It'll be fine" and continued driving. We came around the corner and there was a guy fishing. From the road. Again, there was a sign warning that cars were not allowed. Again, Mister C said "It'll be fine, don't worry" and continued driving. We saw two workers adjusting the guard wires and I asked Mister C to at least check with them. So he did. He rolled down my window and asked how deep it was at the deepest point. The reply?

"It's two and a half inches deep on the center line (which we could make)." So long as no cars made us move to "our" side of the road where it was substantially deeper we should be okay. They also added that we would be fine so long as no trucks went by "like a bat out of hell like they usually do". Well, that's comforting. I thought that perhaps Mister C might decide to turn around. I thought wrong.

Mister C decided that turning around and driving an hour out of our way was too much hassle. We were going through. As a final heads up, just as we were starting down the road a trucker coming from the opposite side slowed to a stop and signaled for us to stop as well. He leaned out his window and said "You don't want to go down there, it's much deeper at the other end. You wouldn't want your engine to flood, better turn around now." Mister C politely thanked him. And then continued on our path to destruction. Now, obviously, I am typing this currently so I didn't get swept downstream, but it was more than a little unnerving to say the least.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating how scary it was...

Why yes, that is water across the entire road we're driving on. In our Honda Civic. You'll have to forgive the poor quality of the photo, I had put my camera into the trunk at this point thinking I was done with it. I thought about getting it out, but figured if we got swept away I didn't really want the evening news to open with a shot of me standing calf-deep in water, getting my camera out of the trunk so I could take photos of the danger we were heading into. Kind of the "Oh, look at those cute bear cubs over there, let me grab my camera and see how close I can get!" mentality that I try to avoid most days.

So anyway, we made it through and made it to Colorado Springs in one piece. Oh yeah, we also hit torrential downpours in Denver, followed by a hail storm once we got into Colorado Springs itself. Good times. But, we got a good night's sleep and had a great breakfast in the morning before heading back out on the open road. We got in to Phoenix by dinner time, picked up food at Chipotle and enjoyed the peace and relative quiet of our first night back home.

The next day consisted of laying about the place and doing laundry. And petting the animals which had obviously all been neglected for the previous two weeks*. Today was more of the same with yard work thrown in for good measure. We'll see what tomorrow brings but I certainly could go for another day of nothing before I pick up with the painting again on Monday.

*I'm just kidding Mamoo, I know you pet them all frequently and thoroughly and that they are all just liars.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Vacation - Day 12

Today is our last day in Fargo as we're heading out first thing in the morning. Since all the siblings, spouses and kids were in one location, the mil suggested we get a family picture. We loosely coordinated to mostly be wearing white shirts and I took a total of five pictures of the bunch of us in two different locations. Fairly painless and done in less than ten minutes. I am nothing if not efficient when it comes to taking photos. So here's Mister C's side of the family tree.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Vacation - Day 11

Nothing much again today. We only left the house long enough to take the dog for a walk and then to get a new screen cover on my phone because the original one (which was never put on correctly in the first place) was completely coming undone.

But we did at least get a family photo on my in-law's front porch.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vacation - Day 10

Well, today was Mister C's forty third birthday. Which I forgot until almost noon. Because I'm an awesome wife like that. Anyway, most of today was spent doing not a whole lot but eventually we meandered over to my sister in law's house for an early dinner of pizza. And got to watch a semi-decent storm come through with lots of lightning, but not a lot of rain. Ah well, at least it dropped the temps substantially around here.

And while we were hanging out over there I got to take a few pictures of my nephew.

Also, on the way to my sister in law's place, we stopped off to visit my husband's grandfather. Which allowed me to take a picture of four generations of the family.

And seeing Mister C's grandfather just made me wish his grandmother were still here. She was such a wonderful, vivacious woman and she always made me feel welcomed and loved.

Even though she was in her late eighties when she passed, some people just don't live long enough and she was one of them. Love them while they're here because you just never know.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Vacation - Day 9

No photos today as I never left the house or took out my camera. It's been a pretty low key day overall. Mister C's sister, brother and their spouses came over for an early dinner and to hang out for a little while which was great. I finally got to meet my brother in law and his wife's younger son who turns two in August. He's an absolute doll. He has Down's Syndrome so he's a little behind on the development timeline but he's crawling around really fast and making lots of noises. And he has a totally infectious smile that lights up the room.

On a less than adorable note, apparently a call girl posted my cell phone number as her contact information on the web somewhere because I got five phone calls and two texts in the space of an hour. She must have eventually figured out there was a problem because the calls and texts stopped as suddenly as they started. Looks like someone was trying to earn some quick cash for the weekend. And evidently I'm in the wrong profession because that's the most my phone has ever rang for business, even if it wasn't my business.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Vacation - Day 8

The day after the musical we hit Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora. The park is home to wild horses and bison.

A stallion with one of his colts (the mare is behind).

This bison seemed totally unconcerned that he was a star. Telephoto lens of course, I'm not completely stupid.

Three generations: my father in law, Master J and Mister C.

Probably my favorite photo of the whole trip.

Medora Musical

So yesterday, after going visiting Devils Tower in the morning, we drove all the way to Medora, North Dakota where we met up with Mister C's parents who drove out from Fargo. We had a fantastic dinner of steak grilled over a fire on pitchforks and all the sides you can imagine.

Then, we enjoyed the "Medora Musical" which has been going on for almost fifty years. It changes and gets updated every year so it's current but classic. I was really impressed, but Master J loved it. When the band played the first few notes of Patsy Cline's "Crazy" for the hostess to sing, he turned to me and said "That's Patsy Cline's song! I know this one!" And then he sat with the biggest smile while the hostess sang three Patsy songs. The very next number was "Sixteen Tons" and again, Master J turned and announced with a huge grin that he had that song too.

The special guest of the night was Sylvia Fletcher, a ventriloquist. And lucky us, she picked my father in law and the man sitting behind him to help her on stage. It was hysterical and kudos to my fil for being such a great sport. I wish I could have videotaped it but at least I got pictures!

My father in law is on the right (to Sylvia's left)

All set for the action...

Playing it up for the crowd.

He really was a great sport about being dragged up on stage unexpectedly!

Vacation - Day 7

Devils Tower from a distance. I had my camera on automatic mode today and I have to say I'm not so impressed with my results. I guess I could have taken the time to use a digital darkroom to fix things up but that sort of seems like cheating.

A climber going up the side. I'm using the telephoto lens.

The same climber, only now I'm using my regular lens. You can see him about halfway up if you look really closely.

Family photo of the day

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Vacation - Day 6

We drove from Glacier National Park to Gillette Wyoming on day six. On the way we stopped at Little Bighorn Battlefield.

Here's part of the cemetery of the non-native Americans. There are headstones for both men and women, from long ago up until more recently.

The monument to the soldiers who died at the battle.

One of the headstones for one of the native Americans that died during the battle.

And some random horses running through the middle of some small town we passed through on our route today. Based on the lead rope still attached to the last horse in line I'm going to guess that these are a group of runaways as opposed to some really cool wild mustangs running loose on the prairie.

Vacation - Day 5

This day was mostly about wandering around Glacier National Park. We almost didn't go here because it's so far off the beaten path. I am so glad we did as it's some of the most beautiful country I've ever seen. The road that goes through the park (Ride To The Sun Rd) was closed for repairs in the middle so we had to drive back around to get from one side to the other but what we got to see was just gorgeous. The best part was that because it's so out of the way (and there really isn't too much commercialism yet) there were far fewer people there than places like Yellowstone. And everywhere you look are views like this one...

An unplanned hike of almost a mile through grizzly country resulted in this. Totally worth it.

Hiking out from a different waterfall that we stopped at.

Mister C and Master J contemplating the amazing power of water.

Ground squirrel checking us out.

Family photo of the day.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Vacation - Day 4

Montana. It's a very long way between point "A" and point "anywhere else".

I'm pretty sure there are more cattle than cars but all the people were super nice.

Glacier Park Lodge where we stayed, built around 1912-1915.

I think some of the employees in the dining room may be under the impression that time is standing still because they were slow as hell. Seriously slow. Like, arrive for breakfast and end up eating scrambled eggs for lunch type slow. Sheesh, for a bunch of university students they sure as heck didn't have a whole lot of pep in their step. And I believe they may possibly have been having a contest to see who could drop the most silverware as at least three servers did so during our two meals there. I believe Lauren won hands down when she managed to drop an entire trail over a ten foot area, starting at our table, complete with melon balls rolling under the nearby tables. Way to go Lauren!

Also, our hotel had the world's smallest sink. If you weren't careful you could whack your head on the shelf while brushing your teeth.

*Although these photos are from day four of our vacation, we didn't have internet access until the end of day six. Sorry for the delay.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Vacation - Day 3

Happy 4th of July!

What would a vacation to the west be without a visit to Old Faithful? Which, by the way, is not very faithful. We saw it erupting as we were driving towards the area and when we got there we ended up waiting for over an hour and a half for it to erupt again. So much for every twenty minutes like clockwork like we were told as children. Having said that, we spent the time fairly pleasantly talking with a couple from New Hampshire that had arrived just before us.

And what would a visit to Old Faithful be without seeing a cat being walked on a leash? Evidently not all cats turn into furry lumps when attached to a leash. Looks like The Antagonizer may be getting a retest when we get home...

Emerald pool.

Really cool looking patterns etched into the land by the thermal pools high content of iron.

A bison that had just gotten done rolling in the dust of an uprooted tree. He was not nearly so impressed with us as we were with him. He actually watched us drive around while I tried to get some decent pictures.

Yeah, thank goodness for telephoto lenses!

Early in the day, looking pretty decent.

Towards the end of our day, after I had mis-stepped while climbing down to the river and almost killed myself trying to save my camera. The end result was a small scuff on the base of the camera (not the body of the camera, just the thing that attaches it to the tripod), one scraped up arm and one very large bruise on my backside.

One more family photo for the album.

Vacation - Day 2

This post was supposed to get uploaded yesterday but since we had not internet service I had to wait until today. Sorry about the delay!

Mister C at Rick's Spring, Master J is somewhere behind him exploring a small cave.

The water has been higher than normal due to snow melt this year. This is the footbridge at Rick's Spring which is unusable. Side note, the water was also running over the open path and it was freezing!

Somewhere in Wyoming, lots and lots of views like this one.

Grand Tetons

We saw this guy running along the side of the road as we drove into Yellowstone Park. My first thought was that it was a wolf, mostly due to the sheer size of it. It's hard to tell from the photo because I was taking the picture from the passenger seat across Mister C while we were driving, but this is about the size of a large dog (like German Shepherd size). But the muzzle bothers me because it looks more like a coyote. So, either a real wolf or a coyote on steroids, either way pretty cool.

Again, not really sure where this is but it's somewhere in Wyoming.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Vacation - Day 1

We headed out at 5:20 this morning and started north for the first day of our driving vacation.

Here's Master J looking bright and perky (much more so than the rest of us I might add.)

He didn't know I'm was taking the picture or he would have acted goofy.

Vermillion cliffs.

Burned tree on the side of the road. The wildfires have done a lot of damage the past few years but the amount of regrowth is really amazing.

The Colorado river, taken from the original, 1929 Navajo bridge.

The new Navojo bridge is on the left, the original one is the right. These two bridges are one of only seven land crossings of the Colorado for 750 miles.

Mister C with Master J on the Navajo bridge (you can't get out of your car on the new bridge.)

The bunch of us looking a little rough after the first six hours in the car. Only five more hours of driving after this picture was taken...