Archive for September, 2011:
Buying a house is always an adventure. You inherit all the things the last owner couldn’t (or wouldn’t) take with him. In my house in LA our garage held plywood, moldings, and a random door. The owner had come back once before we moved in to get his ‘valuables’ out of the garage, but all we could figure he took was the stepladder and a few rags.
Here, the previous owners were meticulous. They left us a contact list with all the services they used – plumbers, animal control, handymen, you name it. They showed us a stack of operator manuals for every major appliance in the house and a few minor ones (the ceiling fans?) There were two rolls of spare carpeting in the garage, along with the (usual?) collection of plywood and such. They even left samples of the countertops with stickers from the manufacturer and the installer on the back!
But best of all, in the front hall closet was a stack of paint cans. Though unlabeled, they had the usual paint smudges on the lids. I was ecstatic! All of these things were found or pointed out to us after we bought the house. Who could ask for a more organized hand off???
All was well except for the wallpaper. And there was some serious bad juju with the wallpaper. Think floral with bright colors. And then add some floral. Wait, there aren’t any stripes . . . we can have floral stripes. Just to clarify, every time we peeled wallpaper we found we were not so much removing as excavating. In one spot we found four different layers each telling a tale of an era gone by and each more hideous than the layer on top.
So I was thumbing through some old boxes the other day and I found a 3 ¼” floppy disk. It was blue, and had the white sticker with lines on it. If you are more than 14 years old, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you are under fourteen, well, then . . . it’s the ‘save’ icon on your Word documents.
On the sticker were three words: the title of an old novel I had started writing but never finished. My brain started working. This story had been shelved for later, in favor of a newer, betterer story that I suddenly had to start. But I still remember how it goes. All three books of it! And this story wasn’t anywhere on my current computer.
I knew I was holding in my hand 180 pages of old writing of mine. If you’re a writer you may be able to understand how I got 180 pages in and then abandoned the story. Excited at reading it (and maybe getting a chance to pat myself on the back for how far I had come?) I started looking at my new computer. As you can guess, there was nowhere to put this little 3 ¼” gem I had come across.
As I sat there, sad and lamenting the state of advanced technology, I came across another disk, with another batch of writing on it. Something from late college years. This time, I don’t think it mattered that I couldn’t plug the disk in anywhere; I’m pretty sure this was composed in Word Perfect.
I have come to realize something about the neighborhood kids . . . they are . . . hmmm. Shall we say, ‘not up to speed’?
I LOVE my neighborhood. I picked it, in part for the idyllic scenery it could offer my children. Safe streets, tag at the bus stop, kids on bikes. Only it isn’t quite working out that way.
Half the kids can’t ride bikes! When they should have had tricycles, they had motorized Barbie and Batman cars. One of the older kids has a motorized scooter, and another has a golf cart. Want to know another thing half the kids can’t do? They can’t tie their shoes! Yup, they have Velcro and never had to learn.
When my toy train set broke, we turned it over and looked at the axels. Wooden parts are easy to identify. My kids have GeoTrax, a remote controlled system that – while it IS amazing – is difficult for even me to explain to the kids precisely how it works. This tech-high lifestyle really showed, when a window jammed in our house years ago. My then-two-year-old daughter asked if it needed new batteries. *sigh*
We’ve all heard that phrase, and I think it was originally intended as a reminder to eat healthy. In my family, it’s used as a put-down (a good-natured one, but a put-down nonetheless.) But then I started looking at the things we eat, and I got to wondering. . .
I’ve had some of my kids’ friends ask why we don’t eat certain foods (like the cracker packs they sell for 50c at karate class.) After two years of graduate level biochemistry courses, my rule is this: if I can’t identify the ingredients, probably no one should be eating it!
Lately, though, I have been questioning even some of the things I can identify. I think a lot of us are familiar with this standard food used to get gum out of hair: peanut butter. Apparently, it’s just so greasy it breaks the gum right down and out it slides. Did you know you can make your dishes sparkle with a dash of lemon juice and then use that same lemon to remove stains from all matter of things? That is pretty common knowledge. Though it’s not a stretch to realize you can keep your hinges from squeaking with olive oil, you may be concerned to find that it also removes make-up and shines stainless steel.
I start to get worried when I see that vinegar will clean my house. It will make my glass clear and my surfaces shine. Lots of older people associate the smell of vinegar with cleanliness as it was apparently the cleaning agent of choice back before everyone had Windex and 409 in their closet. But when you add in that vinegar will also set dyes (like your easter eggs) and kill weeds (!) I start to wonder. What am I eating???
Don’t worry, the list gets even longer and more disturbing . . .