Archive for August, 2012


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Isaac and Year Seven

Please keep the people in the path of Isaac in your thoughts, along with the areas already impacted.  According to some news reports, the death toll is currently at 10 in Haiti, alone.

The projected landfall is Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning.  Wednesday will be the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, so this is going to bring back very bad memories for many people.  More than 1800 lives were lost in Katrina.  May there never be a repeat of that storm.

Take care and stay safe wherever you are.  Bye for now.  xoxo

Santa, Is That You?

Do you ever wonder what goes on while you’re sleeping?  Having a bug phobia, I’m convinced the bugs are in hiding, huddled up somewhere.  They wait until the lights are turned off, then they send one to crawl up to see if everyone is asleep.  Pretty sure that once they get the all clear, they have their way with the house.  The geckos have gotten in on the action recently, and I’m totally not cool with it.

A while ago, in the wee hours of the morning/night, I got a call from the surveillance company that there might be a dead guy in the middle of the street.  Apparently, some guy was riding his bike, fell down, moved around a little bit, and then knocked out.

Sure enough, there’s a bike in the middle of the street and a guy on his back with his arms and legs all askew.  He’s so lucky that no one hit him with a car because his bike is dark and so is his clothing, including his shirt that has “North Pole” written on it.

The police are on the way, some restaurant workers are just getting home, and another neighbor is leaving for the graveyard shift.  The police arrive instantly.  It’s a police officer several people know, so it’s all good–except for the guy in the street.

After he gets lightly nudged and some light shining in his face, the guy suddenly wakes up.  When he’s asked where he’s from, it’s a part of town that would be an hour-long bike ride, maybe longer.  He’d have had to go over bridges and all sorts of traffic.

The guy is asked what he’s doing there and for some identification, so he goes to reach into his back pocket.  He realizes he doesn’t want to give his identification because he’s got a warrant for his arrest.  The guy is offering this up freely.  He probably wants to run, but he can’t.  Turns out, he was telling the truth, and he did live as far as he said he did.

Someone breaks out their phone to share pictures of a car they’re restoring.  The floor boards are rusted out, so it’s like a Flintstone car.  Maybe it’s funnier at 4 o’clock in the morning, but it was hilarious at the moment.  Another person works at a really nice restaurant and invites everyone to show up later for dinner.  New neighbors meet old ones, and everyone is happy and safe.

Before going back to bed, I watched the surveillance video.  The guy was riding his bike and doing a great job.  The neighborhood stray cat just so happened to cross the street at the wrong moment.  Maybe it was actually the right moment.  I couldn’t tell if the cat cut him off or if he leaned down to pet it.  Either way, the stray cat might be behind taking out someone from the North Pole this year…it’s probably the busy season, too.

Cheers,

BelowSeaLevel

Gecko in the Machine

A couple of months ago, our coffeemaker stopped working out of the blue.  It wasn’t an ancient relic, maybe a little under a year old.  We only made one pot of coffee a day, so it’s not like we killed the thing.  It was annoying to have to buy a new one, so we didn’t put much effort into shopping for a new one–we just wanted some coffee.

Someone–not mentioning any names–made a pot of coffee a couple of days ago and didn’t push the carafe and basket into place.  This made a huge mess.  Coffee grinds were in every crevice of the coffeemaker, in addition to baked onto the warming element.  If the coffeemaker hadn’t been relatively new, I would have just thrown it away.  It was that much of a mess.

Before I go forward, I know it must seem like I either have some sort of pest/bug obsession or I live in a barn.  I don’t, I promise.  My bug/pest encounters are upsetting and make me feel like writing.

For some background to the story, several years ago, when my kids were toddlers, I was home alone with them while my husband was on a business trip.  On the first night of his trip, I was getting everyone ready for sleep.  I happened to go into my kids’ bedroom and as soon as I turned on the light, I saw something slither or scurry under the bed.  I was pretty sure it was a snake or something–a small snake, and probably extremely poisonous.

I told the kids to run out of the room–well, more like screamed at the top of my lungs while running in circles–and grabbed the closest thing I could think of, a can of Bengal.  I sprayed along the baseboards trying to find the thing.  Once I saw it, I really sprayed the poor little guy.  Why did I do it?  Panic.  Bengal kills flying insects but not snakes–especially not the rarest, most extremely poisonous snakes.

Turns out, after a friend answered my panicked call and rushed over, it was a gecko.  I guess I was the only person left on the planet that didn’t know these little critters existed, much less the difference between a snake and a gecko.  After given one of those, “you shouldn’t have done that” looks, my friend told me that those are symbols of good luck, so you should never spray one heavily with roach spray.

Few geckos have ventured into my home since that unfortunate and unlucky night.  I never go around wanting to kill bugs or anything, but I can’t live with them in my house.  I give them every chance to leave through an open window.  They don’t pay the mortgage or contribute one dime to the electric bill.  Still, I felt so horrible for spraying that poor gecko with Bengal that when I do see one, I try to get it in a box and take it outside to free it.

Sorry, back to the coffeemaker.  I spent an hour or so cleaning every nook and cranny that I could reach.  I peered into the water reservoir to be sure to remove any grinds that might have wound up in there.  I had been wiping down the coffeemaker and sticking my hands all up in the crevices.

As I’m looking into the deep water reservoir, I see something with a pattern, so I put my face closer to look inside.  My eyes scan to the right and there’s some little eyes looking right at me.  Yikes!  It’s a gecko!  I scream, throwing the coffeemaker against the back splash and slamming the lid down.  Yuck!  How long has he been in there?!  How did he get in there?  Did we brew coffee with that little guy in there?

One consolation is that he was alive, at least.  After hyperventilating, crying, calling people, then having a total breakdown from the trauma, I braved up and went back into the kitchen.  I would not hurt the gecko, no matter what.  Is this little guy giving me the chance to renew some good karma?  I hope so because I asked a very special favor from him.  I can’t tell you what it is, though, because it’s like blowing out birthday cake candles.  If I tell you, it won’t happen.

I unplugged the coffeemaker and held the lid tightly in place as I walked down the stairs to the deck.  This took a little more effort since stairs still give me a little trouble, not to mention holding the lid on a coffeemaker with a gecko in it.  I walked to my favorite plants on the deck and turned the coffeemaker upside down.  The little guy waited on the deck for a little while before he moved.

I waited with him and happily watched him eventually become brave enough to head off on an outside adventure.

Cheers,

BelowSeaLevel

Cautionary Caution Tape Tale

A house in my neighborhood recently sold.  Before katrina, it was a nice home owned by a stable family, but after the storm…it hasn’t been.  About a month ago, the newest owner moved in and hopes are high that normality and stability shall return.

It would be difficult to find a more inept, obnoxious, and just plain stupid person to own that home than the doofus that bought it and renovated it.  In this case, the new owner automatically starts off with the bar set pretty low.  Granted, the elderly couple that owned it at the time of katrina hadn’t renovated it in a while, but they also hadn’t been “hard” on the property, either.  It only had living area on the second floor, so it didn’t suffer any flood damage other than what is referred to as the raised basement.

To put it back in the housing stock would have been simple and easy, needing mostly cosmetic work.  That would have been lovely, but it wasn’t meant to be.  Conversations with the owner/destroyer were full of shock and awe.  He admitted to riding around town and looking at how people were building foundations.  The cherry on the sundae was when he nonchalantly said he caught a house on fire while he was working on the roof and considered fleeing the country.  That doesn’t exactly make one feel good, ya know.

He had a noisy truck that was audible from a couple of blocks away, so napping “workers” had quite a bit of advance warning to wake up and look busy.  Cue sleeping workers jumping up and grabbing hammers while wiping off drool as their boss pulled into the driveway.  It was not funny, however, that the renovation took a full year and was unsupervised the majority of each day.

I’ve written about the tenants, so no need to rehash that topic.  When the last tenants hurriedly packed up before their lease was up, actually leaving the country, the owner/destroyer was back to repair any damages and freshen it up for sale.  What should have taken one month, lasted for several.

His new truck was quieter than the last, but instead of noisy exhaust pipes piercing peaceful silence, his presence was known several homes away by loud banging, like a door was being knocked down and a home being broken into.  It wasn’t a burglar, though,  it was the big dummy trying to open the windows that he had painted shut the day before.  The problem is, he kept painting the windows multiple times a week.  Why?  I have no clue.  Maybe he forgot that he already painted them many, many times already.  He couldn’t open them because they had close to 85 coats of paint.  The paint was probably six inches thick and jamming them shut–every single day!  He never gave up, though, thinking one more coat of paint would somehow un-stick the painted-shut windows.

Anyways, it finally sold.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high, but I mean, come on, it couldn’t get any worse, could it?  There was always justifiable concern that the owner/destroyer might have surreptitiously or accidentally implanted some sort of dummy magnet deep into the foundation of the home.  He probably carries those around with him like we have spare change in our pockets and glove boxes.

The previous owner and every tenant that followed–drawn by the dummy magnet–had a semi-annual mowing schedule.  At this point, there isn’t any grass left, just weeds.  Years ago, the weediest weeds formed a foot-high carpet to suffocate any grass plugs that fought unsuccessfully for their survival.  It’s concerning that he might have slipped a non-mowing magnet into the foundation, too.  The new owner has paid to have the yard sprayed with weed killer to avoid mowing, so pretty sure the semi-annual tradition will live on forever.  Damn those magnets!

So, why am I writing about this today?  The photograph to the left is my muse.  Charlie Brown would feel better about his Christmas tree during the holidays, no?  Festivus pole gone bad?  Wrong.  Are you wondering what the hell it is?  It’s how one would know he/she has hired the wrong workers for a job.  Instead of hammering a pole or stake into the ground and using caution tape to warn of wet concrete, some workers hired by the newest owner grabbed a random stick that fell from a tree and draped it with caution tape as garland.  Let’s call it Christmas in July–just humor me, I’m a little late finishing writing this.  :D

If one has ever lived through a major renovation, one learns a great deal about construction.  If one has had the luxury of professionals in their field and also the heartbreak of hiring and paying people that wouldn’t know their bums from a hole in the ground, one develops a sixth sense.  Sadly, the new owner is only working with five senses…but he’s learning…quickly.

He hired a couple of guys to patch a hole in a wall, which is something anyone can do.  But when asked if they could redo the many things that the previous owner/destroyer/doofus had screwed up, they said that they knew how to do everything–electrical, plumbing, stucco, anything and everything.  Does that mean they know how to create an underground drainage system?  Of course they do!  They know how to apply a fiberglass patch and open a tub of Spackling.  Remember?

They have been there on and off for weeks doing two things–making mistakes and trying to fix mistakes.  Staring at each other for hours and circling the property several times, they seem surprised when they return full-circle to find things exactly the same as when they set off on their walkabout.  Eventually, after they got tired of looking at each other and creating ruts from their walking in circles, they finally found someone that could explain what needed to be done.

Fingers crossed that it works out well in the end, because I want the new owner to be happy.  You get what you pay for, though.

Cheers,

BelowSeaLevel, xoxo

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