Friday, May 30, 2014

Another one bites the dust

probably almost enough candles
So, my birthday is tomorrow.


Seems like ever year gets shorter and shorter until I’m having birthdays like every other month or something.  Is the Earth accelerating its sunly revolutions or something?  Sheesh.

I'm so old now that half a lifetime ago I was in grad school already, pretending to be an adult and having a marvelous time waiting tables at a fancy-dan restaurant, teaching microbiology to nursing students, writing up my thesis, and otherwise have a great time with a superior group of friends.  Ah, the Little Grill/Calhoun’s crowd - - good ol’ times.  HALF A LIFETIME AGO!  What has happened to the next 20-some years, anyhow?  Good grief, in another 20-some years I’ll be solidly in my ‘70’s wondering how I got to be THAT old, I’m sure.

What a kick in the chops.

To celebrate the ignominious occasion, Biff and I are going to see Mike Birbiglia at the Carolina Theater tomorrow evening.  Should be a good time.  It will be interesting to see how he stacks up against Eddie Izzard, who we saw last week.  Totally different performers, obviously; maybe I should do a ‘compare and contrast’ entry, like we used to do in high school.  I wonder if I even remember how to do a compare and contrast…I’m old, you see, and stuff like that gets ousted in favor or retaining the proper scientific nomenclature for stinkbugs (it's Pentatomidae).

Of course, my memory sucks anyhow under regular circumstances.  It takes me a minute to even remember what was for dinner the night before, so you can forget (heh) about me remembering stuff from childhood.  When I’m in the old folks’ home I’m going to be the one who is perpetually please at anything that happens day-to-day, even if it’s the same thing I’ve been doing every day for years, because I won’t remember it and it will all be fresh and new.  I’m OK with that, especially if I have this site and my old-school harcdopy journals to refresh my memory of what used to pass for a full and satisfying life.  Because it has been full and satisfying, you know, even if I don’t remember lots of it.  J

Hope you’re planning on having some fun this weekend, or at least not planning on hating every minute of it.  Chin up, folks, and let’s talk soon.

Tiff out.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I don't hurt as much as I thought I would

Ah, Memorial Day weekend, a luscious long weekend full of the promise of summery things like camping, or parades, certainly cookouts, and languid long afternoons spent relaxing and reflecting on the reason for the break from the daily grind.

Unless you're me and Biff.

Instead of relaxing and reflecting or doing any of those other marvelous normal things that Memorial Day weekend involves, we built at deck.  In Richmond.  Virginia.

"But why?" I can hear you say.  "Why give up a long weekend during which you could lounge and play to build a deck 120 miles away from the comfort of your own fully-stocked bar?"

One word: Friendship.  FRIENDSHIP.  (And some spendin' money, but friendship first and foremost)

You see, one of my dearest friends of long-term duration is doing a kitchen remodel, and hired Biff to do it.  "Hang on," you might also be saying (while interrupting the flow of my storytelling). "Kitchen does not equal deck, so what's the story here?"

The story is that first things must be first, and the First Thing in the kitchen remodel plan was to replace the charmingly rickety deck out back so that when the remodel time arrives the workfolk won't have to be toting large amounts of heavy and unwieldy stuff up carnival-ride steps and delightfully bouncy probably semi-rotten decking.  It's about safety, really, both for the workfolk and for my buddy and her daughter.  Can't have someone falling through unexpectedly!!  That's lawsuit territory!

And thus we began our work, confident that by Monday we would have conquered this initial task on the path to her new kitchen.  It's not a very big deck, so how hard could it be, after all?

Famous last words, of course.  Highly amusing, in retrospect, that level of innocence.

It wasn't unexpected that there was going to be some repair work done on part of the deck, as it was rather bouncy and in some places outright squishy.  That was on the radar going in.  What WAS kind of cute to discover that the original deck served as the ceiling for part of her basement, allowing moisture and dirt right into her house.  Isn't that adorable?  Just whang down some deck boards and who cares about little things like being weather-tight, right?  Pish-tosh on your notions of ensuring the boards don't rot out from accumulated years of exposure to moisture, that's something for future generations to address! That bit, the deck-as-ceiling-is-not-ideal issue, was primo on the list of things that needed fixing as you might imagine.  Good thing Biff is kind of a genius and came up with what should be a nicely elegant solution to the problem that will keep her basement from the elements for many years to come.  It just took some extra time devising the scheme, then figuring out how to best deploy said clever solution.  Nothing is ever as simple as it should be.

Throughout the weekend's process I tried to be as helpful as possible, but all I'm really good for is fetching things, holding a tape measure, and using an impact driver.  OK, I did also prepare meals, which is a strong positive on a jobsite.   I also learned how to use a post-hole digger (the clampy kind, not the spinny kind), which is not as much fun as you might think and involves lots of upper-body work, which I apparently desperately need given my staggeringly weak performance digging said holes.  It would likely have gone faster if I'd hired a troupe of trained squirrels to remove the dirt tiny handful by tiny handful.  A humbling experience.  Even so, I did give it my best, and thought for SURE I'd be very sore today between wrangling that awkward piece of equipment and using the very heavy smashy stick (tech speak, yo) to bust up the clumps of brick and concrete that were in the space here we wanted our new hole to be, but nope, apparently I wasn't trying hard enough because there's not as much pain as I'd imagined there would be in the shoulder region.  The bits that are talking more loudly are my hips and knees - because of all the stairs involved in getting up and down for fetchery or screwery (the deck-ish sort!) or cookery or bathroomery (they're on the top floor of her house) or simply to get into the house.  We are very much not used to all those stairs, which is another point to consider improving upon in my newly-evolving Get Thee Back Into Shape Plan, version eleventy-hundred.  And also - my thumbs hurt.  There is no clear explanation for this, and no way to work it into the GTBISP.

Achery aside, in the end it feels good to build things, to improve in a tangible way something that needed improvement, and when it's for a very good friend who appreciates the work and lets you sleep in her very own personal bed while she takes a mattress on the floor of her daughter's room, well it's a pretty good gig to have.  Even with the sore thumbs.

How did y'all spend YOUR holiday weekend?

Tiff out.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014


Things I've Done Since Arriving Home Tonight:

  • watered the garden
  • watered the porch plants
  • washed the dishes
  • unloaded the dishwasher
  • decided what's for dinner
  • started thawing the necessaries
  • fed cats
  • washed down kitchen countertops
  • poisoned ants.

I'm pretty proud of that last one, which is evil and wrong from a 'live and let live' perspective, but ants in my house are Uninvited Guests and thus must be fed a delicious, delicious last meal of homemade Terro before sending them off to their dreadful lairs to pass along the gift of DEATH to their colony-mates.

They love the homemade Terro (recipe below).

It was kind of cute, really, to see the upsurge in interest once the scouts had had their fill and gone back (not very far, evidently) to the colony to alert them that sweet death was theirs for the having if only they'd come out from that crack between the kitchen window and the moulding for a taste.  Little antennae kept popping out of the crack, waving around excitedly.

'Woo, Terro!  I've heard this stuff is RAD!' at least one of them must have said.  'I've heard about this stuff and it will MESS YOU UP!!  Woo!!'

Woo, indeed, tiny ant.  Woo, indeed.


Homemade Terro:

a shake of Borax (1/4 - 1/2 tsp)
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp warm water

Mix, then set out where you see the lil' darlins.

If it looks like they're croaking before leaving the bait, use less Borax.  If they don't go away after a couple of days, use more Borax.  Be prepared to have MEGA ANTS for a while until they get the message and skedaddle/die en masse.

Now I'm off to watch them drink up eternity, and cook dinner.

Tiff out.