Monday, September 20, 2010

Exploding Waterworks Batman!

Fact: I sometimes act impulsively without the thoroughness that would result in a task completed in a quality, thorough, and safe fashion.

Fact: I am not particularly intuitive when it comes to household tasks.

Fact: In a completely unrelated tangent, a beautiful orange bird is flitting around my bougainvillea right now, but it is very amazing and distracting. OHHH...another orange bird is in the palm tree.

Fact: If you google "Florida Orange Bird", you get thousands of images just like this one:

Do not be concerned for my mental health. This is NOT the bird I "see" in my tree.

Back to the story:

Working outside. LOVELY days this weekend...Igor sucked the humidity out of Florida (technical meteorological terms) and it was high 80's and pleasant. Sunday, I am cleaning the pool while Barry is chopping down the weeds that are attacking the previously mentioned Bougainvillea. It's rainy season, so we have to lower the pool water every few days. If the water is too high, the ickies on the top don't skim off through the pump mechanism do-hickey (more technical jargon...try to keep up!).

In order to lower the water, I attach this blue, flat, heavy plastic tubing to a pipe with a valve on the pump. I have a circle clamp that goes on first, then I wiggle the blue tubing around the pipe and under the clamp. I tighten the clamp, unroll the tubing (so the water drains toward the road), then open the valve and VOILA!

Voila or BOOM!, depending on a small detail....

I unrolled the hose, but didn't straighten it. It was flipped over several times especially near the far end away from the pump. I THOUGHT the force of the water would fill it and it would just unroll. This DID not happen. The water built up at the flips, sort of like a twist in a balloon. I ran down (accompanied by my happy dog, who thought I might want to play) and tried to UNTWIST the hose, but of course each untwist motion put an EXTRA twist in the areas further down that had semi-filled with water. I start to try to flip faster and faster and BOOM the hose EXPLODES in a SHREDDED MASS OF PLASTIC showering the dog and I.

Barry walked by, hauling weeds. He looked at me, the dripping dog, the gushing water, and the shredded hose and shakes his head. In a resigned voice, he comments, "I guess we now have two hoses, a short one and a long one."

THAT'S my guy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Feral Fun


Digging her nails into my legs, the cat leaps off the bed. The dog jumps up. I fall out of bed screeching "eowwwrrhhh" (sounding remarkably like a participant in the outside melee) when I hit my head on the bedside table.

The feral cats are having a rumble. I curse the cats, and try to get the dog to stop whining and come back to bed. It's easier to let Aiden run out, check the backyard for feline intruders, and mark the grass (hedge/table/bush/planter) to warn them he's on patrol.

When we first moved into our home, we would glance out the back window and see two or three cats draped around the pool, sunning and cleaning themselves. Oh, how swweeetttt, I thought...

Later we learned that our neighbor has been feeding these cats since after Hurricane Andrew. I use "these" loosely. Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992. We have lived here three years and only two of the cats we first spotted still frequent the area. Plus, new kittens show up every four months. I don't want to think about why our little local population never increases beyond 10, although I reluctantly note I have seen a hawk scoping out the local fauna.

The neighbor occasionally goes through an "I'm going to get rid of these cats!" phase. He sets cat-traps, then takes the cat in to a special vet that neuter/spays the animals for minimal dollars. He usually catches one cat. I picture the other cats, visiting it in the wire prison. "Psstt...Harry...pass it on. The tuna's stale and the treat is a trap!" These savvy street cats hiss and purr the word along, and neighbor Bob can't catch another cat for six months.

Currently, we have a preponderance of orange cats. it's quite the morning sight...six or seven orange, orange and white, and calico cats spread languidly across his driveway. So you can make fun party conversation, I'll share that it turns out most orange cats are male - over 75%. Who knew?

We have a lot of songbirds, and I've only found a mound of feathers twice , so the birds must be very aware of the cats. The mockingbirds are great - they dive bomb the cats (and dogs and people) when nesting. Fierce!

I didn't have much against the cats, except for the fact they kept leaving "presents" under the tree mulch (which for whatever bizarre and disgusting reason Aiden thinks are amazing dog treats), until a cat in heat made Paco girl crazy and he started marking all the windows and doors. If you have EVER had this problem, you know what a miserable, awful, unstoppable, horrible, stinky experience this is. EWWWWW!!!! Curse you Cute, Homeless Kitties!

Don't worry, I worked things out with Paco. He gets outside time to "let the ladies know he's available", if you know what I mean. Yes, he's neutered, no worries there. Just feeding the masculine ego -

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Birthday Reflections

In case you were wondering...


This is a good, solid number. My mom likes to tell everyone she is 29. I kind of like who I am for


so, don't mind disclosing the number. My favorite birthday mantra: It's better to get a year older than not get a year older.

I took a spinning class this morning, and totally tromped the younger woman on the next bike - you call that a climb? Crank it up sister! After class, I saw her pick up her toddler and baby at the childcare. Fine - don't sleep, chase kids all day, AND come to spinning. Gees. I'll need a nap in an hour...

I did run four half marathons in the past calendar year. I get a little mad at myself for all the years I said I couldn't run - one of the curses of growing older and wiser is becoming more aware of time wasted thinking about why I couldn't or shouldn't do something, instead of jumping into the activity and just DOING it ($2 to NIKE every time someone reads this blog). I guess that's what 'bucket lists' are about. I don't have a bucket list, because it makes me think about the 'bucket' part, and I'm not comfortable going there. I'm just going to try to do new things and not let age or fear turn me into a big "woulda, coulda, shoulda" woman.

In an attempt to make me feel better about being


(although I don't particularly need cheering up) Amy pointed out that at least I didn't own any light wash, belted-at-the-waist blue jeans. To those of you who do, apparently this is the fashion kiss of death. Run to the store, fast! And while you are there, you will, like me, learn a new word: Jeggings. These are leggings that are of jean-ish material. Jeggings. Write it down somewhere, and then throw it into a conversation. You'll be the cool old-person on the block. After living through the '90's legging era, I'm not too keen on going back, so no jeggings in my birthday bag.

By the way, I love facebook. I love all my birthday greetings. I'm telling you, it's my Mayberry. I see you on the street, you say Happy Birthday, and I feel connected to this bigger community and it is good. Then I go home, have some cake (my cake is always a peach pie)(it's my birthday and I'll eat pie if I want to...), and Barry serenades with his guitar on the porch.



Next stop, the big

5 - 0


Friday, September 10, 2010

La Cucaracha!

I think I've mentioned before that my best Miami friend, Patty, has been in Seattle, WA for a stem cell transplant.

After 4 1/2 long months, Patty and her husband Brant are coming home! Praise God!

While they've been gone, Chris (my 17 year old son) watched the house and Pepper the cat. Chris went over each day for an hour or more, sometimes spending the night. The object was making sure Pepper didn't go cat crazy without human companionship. I checked on the house and watered the plants once a week or so.

I had noticed a few Palmetto Bugs (Florida Giant Cockroaches clearly affected by a government covered-up nuclear event) in late July, but Brant came home and sprayed, so I thought all was well.

Today, Chris drove straight from school to a friend's house, then to the big rivalry football game (Jesuits v. Marists - who would God root for?). I went over to spend time with Pepper. While I was there, I noticed a few dead Palmetto bugs. Maria, Patty's friend who picks up the mail, came over with a broom. She had seen several bugs yesterday.

We chatted as we swept. Maria was puzzled - there was a lot of cockroach doo-doo in the bathroom, but no roaches. Earlier, Brant informed her that the roach problem was a result of the showers not being used, and to run the taps. Maria turned on the taps in the tainted bathroom and...


20 (MILLION) Palmetto Bugs came POURING out of the drain.

The horror!

I KNOW I will have nightmares tonight.

I ran into the garage and found bug spray. Several bugs seemed to sense trouble coming, so started climbing the shower walls to hang from the ceiling. YUUUCCCKKKKKK. Maria opened the shower door and I sprayed poison with maniacal fervor.

DIE, DIE, DIE you bugs of disgustingness!

Maria is a woman of great courage and a strong stomach. After the bugs finished convulsing, she scooped them up with her broom and gave them a dignified burial in the garbage can.

I contributed by squealing, "GET THEM OUT! GET THEM OUT!"

When I finished wiping the remains from the shower basin, I pointed at the large roach still clinging above. We mutually decided to give him a chance to make a run for it. I carried Pepper into the bath and said, "ATTACK!" leaving her perched on the bathroom sink, twitching her tail and licking her lips.

I won't worry if Pepper's food stays untouched tonight.

Is it okay if I end with one last, "BLLECCHHH!!!!!"?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rain, rain, rain

Google Miami - go ahead, I dare you!

OK, it probably isn't dare-worthy.

You will pull up multiple, beautiful images of sunny skies, blue-green water, boaters, and babes (of both sexes...there's something for everyone!).

I will not deny that winter in Miami is a paradise. PARADISE. Blue skies, mild temperatures, balmy breezes. Since we've been gone from Chicago, their winters have been nasty, and ours have been lovely. Well, there was a lot of complaining last winter about the extended "cold" (we had the heat on for a week! Horrors!) - and it did cause significant plant damage as well us some concussions related to dropping iguanas.

"Dropping iguanas??" you ask.

"Why, yes!" I reply. Iguanas are not native to Florida. When it gets cold, they sort of instantly hibernate, and fall out of the trees.

As all responsible pet owners know, if you can't take care of your pet and it seems warm enough outside for them to survive, by all means, let them go into the wild. I'm sure it's the course most recommended by PETA and the Humane Society - NOT.

This is why an alligator was recently caught in the Chicago river, why iguanas plummet from trees during cold spells in Florida, and why 150,000 Burmese pythons are destroying the everglades. We've nearly destroyed one of nature's most abundant habitats (Want to cry? Do some research about initial experiences of the Everglades - bird flocks that blocked the sky, the Florida Panther, abundant wildlife - then compare to today). This is why six feral cats are relaxing in my neighbor's driveway right now. I've been trying to get a picture for you, but whenever I approach, they scatter - which is odd, because when Aiden and I walk by, they stay in their weird I'm-cleaning-my-privates-with-my-tongue poses and stare him down.

hmm...that last tangent has confused me - oh, yeah, Miami weather. In the summer, it is hot. HOT, HOT, HOT. It is also rainy. Sometimes, it rains and rains and rains and rains. It has been raining, and raining, and raining for the past week. I'm a little crazy with it (ha! like I'm not crazy the rest of the time. It feels good to have an alternate excuse to hormones). We have had to lower our pool water twice and it is currently lapping at the top. SOOOO...if you are thinking of visiting Florida in the summer, be prepared! BRING AN UMBRELLA! But leave your iguana at home...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Do you ever...??

Do you ever try to find out something that you really have no business knowing but you figure, "Hey, why is there an internet if not to stalk my neighbors and find out if they got a divorce?"

I'm a terrible person.

Don't try to talk me out of it.

I am.

I know it.

BUT I was wondering, and I did think, "It can't be private if I can find it on the World Wide Web...and I don't want to ask anyone because that's gossip...and I don't want to ask my neighbor because that's snoopy and wrong and could hurt her feelings..."

Bad, uber-rationalizing me.

By the way, whoever said all information is accessible via the web may be right (did anyone ever say this?), but didn't say anything about the proficiency of the operator attempting such data-mining. Such skill appears to be critical. If I was Chloe on "24", I would tap a few keyboard keys and be able to control Russia while at that same time invading innocent people's privacy.

Other than Google, I did not try anything else. So, I have no clue. And I am embarressed and shamed.

In contrition, I decide to plaster my evilness on the web for all to know and mock. I turn myself over to you, the guardians of all that is right and good, for appropriate chastisement.

As an aside, I realized that we do this with celebrities all the time. I have now vowed never to click on the TMZ link. If I don't click, if you don't click, then TMZ will eventually not be able to pay the crazy photographers that chase these people around so that we can see if they look fat on the beach and can feel better about our own out-of-shape behinds. May God protect me from the day that my abs are worth an international uproar or I do anything Web worthy (other than this blog THAT YOU LOVE!).

Don't you hate it when...

Don't you hate it when...

  • Getting out of the car at the grocery, you step on gum and four garbage cans are 50 feet away! Either a consumer is leaving his/her vehicle and cannot manage to keep the gum in the mouth long enough to make it to the cans OR s/he passes the receptacles on the way OUT of the store and suddenly realizes s/he cannot POSSIBLY chew that piece of gum for a second longer and MUST spit it out despite the obvious inconvenience to shoppers walking across the lot.
  • You see someone pushing the grocery cart and s/he sneezes multiple times over the handles. By the way, if you DO NOT use the antiseptic wipes to clean your cart when entering the store, this is a major mistake!
  • No matter what line you pick at the grocery, the person in front of you has an issue. More than once here in Miami, I have been in line when the woman in front of me unloads her cart, remembers she needs another item, LEAVES (strolls, not runs, mind you), and doesn't return for five minutes.
  • You walk into the grocery while it is sunny and bright, you walk out when it is pouring rain. This is a typical Miami rainy season occurrence - you think I'd learn and always carry an umbrella. I have sort of learned - I have one in the car! NOT GOOD ENOUGH!
  • The cashier is tired and THROWS your apples down to the bagger and then gives you a "crazy lady" look when you object to taking home bruised fruit.
  • You bought four of those handy environmentally friendly bags, but you never remember to put them in the car (topped only by putting them in the car and not remembering to bring them in the store!)

Don't you love it when...

  • You return from the grocery store and your dog greets you like you've been gone for a year.
  • Ice cream is on sale buy one, get one free AND you have a coupon! It's like winning the lottery!
  • A really cute baby is in front of you in the checkout line (although this is love/hate for me, because the current climate does not let legitimately innocent cooing and playing with the baby without the mom believing one is a psychotic middle-aged kidnapper woman).
  • The store has taste booths that feature chocolate, wine, or both!
  • The roast chickens have just come out of the oven at Sam's Club. YUM YUM YUM.

Happy Labor Day!

Friday, September 3, 2010

I've got nothin'

Determined to stay on point with this blog...must make nothin' nothin'...HEY!

Did I tell you about the time I got the bikini wax?

No?? Great!

OH, you are yelling "NOOOOO!" as in, please do NOT write about this.

OK. OK. It is an interesting topic, if want you want my opinion.

This is big business in Miami. Salons set up just for waxing, nothing else. My attendant's name is Kathryn. She is from Puerto Rico and has worked for seven years as a waxer (waxologist?). I love her accent. She makes big bucks, even with the economic downturn (Hey, we got beaches and pools here! Some things cannot be sacrificed). I can tell this because she wears clothes I have only heard about on TV or seen in my dentist's office's fancy magazines (Why does he subscribe to Vogue? Or does one of the hygienists? Maybe his wife? Do dentists make as much as wax technicians? Probably not in Miami.).

I could talk about something mundane, like pedicures, but wouldn't you really rather hear about bikini waxing?

Hey, you don't need to shout! I get it! NO BIKINI WAX talk.

If I confessed to a lack of personal boundaries, would you be surprised?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

That Darn Dog!

Do you walk your dog?

I know a lot of people who don't. I've always been a dog walker. It's good for the dog and home preservation. I've only had two dogs - Buddy Mae, a 90 pound giant Airedale (sweetest soul) and Aiden, a 55 pound (most likely) bearded collie. Young, bored and full of pep, Buddy Mae once chewed off half the baseboard molding in my bedroom. Aiden is a...busy dog, if not properly exercised. He would gnaw shoes, raid the cat litter box, and occasional steal my dirty clothes from the hamper and shred them. Outside, if left to his energized devices, Aiden has dug holes the size of small moon craters and carried the dirt on paws and face across the patio and into the house.

One of my pet peeves is the "I don't pick up my dog poop" people. I HATE mowing my lawn and finding deposits made by other dogs. EWWWW. ERRRR. ARGGHHH! I have to pick up my OWN dog's poop - why would I want to pick up YOURS!? I was recently walking Aiden and a neighbor's dog pooped as we were chatting. I offered her my pocket bag and she said, "Oh, no, its biodegradable, why bother?!" Because it's gross and disgusting and simple common courtesy to do so!?

After getting her border collie, Lucy, my friend Nancy joined "Dog Scouts". Are you laughing? I would never laugh at Nancy and the Dog Scouts (tee hee hee). One of their promises was to always carry TWO bags on walks. Even if I giggle, I'm committed enough to the no-crap-left-behind philosophy that most days I started to double carry.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Be careful what you bitch can bite you in the behind!

SO, my IPOD is persnickety, and I have to turn the headphone wires around and around until I hit the sweet spot of sound. I was fiddling with this for the first five walk minutes, and must have inadvertently dropped the single bag out of my pocket. I discovered this when Aiden pooped and felt terrible leaving behind the mess, but grateful my dishonor was probably hidden - the offended home had foliage covered front windows. Hopefully, there's no Gladys Cravits peeking out at my canine faux paux. THEN, you guessed it, the great dog double doos, and I am now a marked woman in the neighborhood, the one with "THAT DOG" who leaves her messes on only the best lawns.

Mea Culpa. It will not happen again. Double Dog Swear.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Feminine question

Recently, I've been in two store bathrooms (hey, weak sue me!), and the "feminine product box" next to the toilet has been taped or bagged shut. What's up with this? What's a woman with a need to dispose of a...ahem...product of a delicate nature supposed to do? Is this a Miami area occurence, or an introduction of widespread muliebrous mayhem? (look it up! IS GOOD FOR YOU)

They're asking for some clogged toilet, if you want my opinion! Anyone else witnessed this bizarre trend?

I had a dream!

I dream a lot, so normally I wouldn't post a dream report. Sharing dreams is tricky business. What seems so amusing and amazing to the dreamer doesn't translate well to others over the breakfast table. I woke up chuckling, so today I'm giving it a shot!

I lbelieve my dream was brought on by my friend's move back to Chicago. Congrats on getting the house you wanted, Nancy! I had checked into to see the house, then spent a little time ( hour? Yikes!) cruising other listings.

In the dream, we were house-hunting. On entering the house, I see avocado walls, wallpaper, decorations...even the baseboard is painted avocado. I think, "Ann, you said you'd be willing to renovate. Keep an open mind!"

The house does turn out to have good bones. Soaring ceilings, beams (oddly reminiscent of the Tiki Singing Bird hut in Disney World), a big, if extraordinarily dated kitchen. Avocado, avocado, avocado. This could work....

And then Mr. Sandman twists the dial to weird, weirder, weirdest!

I open the door to the downstairs bath, and there is a man in one of those sort of square, handicap access deep tubs. The shower is raised behind the tub. The only way to the shower is through the tub. He proudly tells me this was a recent renovation.

I haven't found a toilet or bedroom, so I tell the realtor I want to go upstairs. At the top of the stairs are a large set of mirrored doors. "Oh!" I exclaim. "Storage!" Opening the doors, I find a large room with a few chairs along the walls, and a huge expanse of floor. The lights come up and IT'S A SKATING RINK!

Tub Man speaks from behind me. "How do you like it?!

Amazingly, I missed the SNACK BAR and skate rental desk to my left. Tub Man is working behind the counter.

"Is the rink open for business?"

"I only keep it open part time now that I've retired." Tub Man flips on the switches for the nacho cheese heater and popcorn machine. "But it's a town tradition, and important to all of us." He emphasizes the last words, giving us a pointed look. Apparently, purchasing the house means inheriting the rink.

Further down the hallway I find a dentist office and barbershop...what the????

The beep-beep-beep of the front door opening and closing wakes me up. It's 5:50 a.m. I have to laugh. I've seen some strange things when house-hunting, but nothing to compare to my Dream House!