Sunday, April 29, 2007

The kitchen is officially done.

Less bang than whimper; the guy from Handyman Connection finished the tile backsplash on Wednesday, but not before going over the sloppy paint job Wolfe Homes did around the windows with a razor blade. I've hired another outfit to replace the two windows with the warped frames, so that should be completed in mid-May. I faxed off my letter to WH today - and will follow-up with a copy by regular mail - including my "adjusted" invoice that accounts for my hiring others to finish their job. We'll see what happens. If they follow form, it'll be months before I even hear back.

I made a veggie-rice salad for K&R's barbeque last night, and was pleased that it all got eaten by the end of the evening. (We were all pleased that the dust storm stopped long enough to fire up the grill.)

The ingredients: "forbidden" rice (small-grain); halved grape tomatoes; grilled asparagus, mushrooms, and gold bell pepper; cubed Italian-style baked tofu; green olives; and a bit of dijon mayonnaise to hold it together.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

This is one of my three-day weekends (I work a 9/80 schedule, every other Friday off), and for a change I don't have much of anything I have to do - though I'm sure I'll start thinking of stuff Sunday evening- so I've been fooling around in the kitchen.

Yesterday I made a pasta salad: grilled red pepper and asparagus, raw brocolli florets, halved grape tomatoes, green olives, and hunks of edam cheese over those snail-shaped pasta, tossed in Shiitake viniagrette and sprinkled with almonds - yum!

Today I'm making use of some of the frozen huckleberries I bought online to make a childhood treat - huckleberry pie! Made a horrible mess of the kitchen in the process of making the crust - it's about 82 F indoors, too warm really to be making a pie crust, let alone one using Canola oil - but I had fun making a mess. And soon there will be pie. Huckleberry pie!

K & C dropped by this morning and we spent some time in the back porch. They have a baby Sonoran desert tortoise that they'll be looking for a home for maybe in the fall. It would help keep the weeds in my desertified backyard under control, though of course I'd have to fence off anything I didn't want it noshing on. And it's an easy-maintenance pet that the cats probably wouldn't eat. Well, it's something to think about - I don't have to decide now because the tortoise is still too young to adopt.

See, I can too write a pleasant post!


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Words cannot express how I feel right now. Music cannot express how I feel. Pushing a grand piano down six flights of stairs, now that would express how I feel.

This whole kitchen remodel business has disintegrated into a story of diminishing returns that I haven't had the energy to relate these past three months, and next week I plan to part company with my contractor as they guy I hired to finish their damn cleanup work takes over.


If you've been following this blog since the beginning of this sorry saga, you'll remember that, back in October, I had the same outfit replace the remaining single-glaze windows in the house with double-glaze. Even to my untrained eye the installation looked sloppy, and getting the project supervisor out to look at it has been a major effort with minor response. Today I had a glass guy - hired separately - come in to assess the mess. Not only was the installation bad, the frames are starting to warp, which is why the windows in the guest room don't close properly. Meaning that re-installing them isn't going to help; it's replace the windows or live with it.

So I'm going to have a real glass company install new windows, and I'm writing a letter to my contractor requesting that they refund that part of the job on my final invoice, and we'll see where that gets me. I hope I don't have to take them to small claims court, or Channel 12, or whatever. @#$(*$! I am so tired of fighting to get this work completed.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

I was astonished to come home today and find a realty sign in my neighbors' yard to the north. They only just bought the place a couple months ago, a nice older couple from Missouri who gave every impression that they planned to move in once their son finished fixing it up. I wonder what happened. It can't have been a fix-and-flip; I know what they paid for it (thanks to the brochures the local realtors drop off every month), and it wasn't below market for this neighborhood, so they can't be making any money off the sale.


I don't normally do New Year's resolutions, because -- well, I don't know why. I just don't. But I made an early resolution in December, in the spirit of getting-in-shape-to-hike-the-canyon, that I would add a third gym class to my routine, on weekends when I didn't go hiking. The idea is to establish good habits, so that when summer rolls around and it's too frakkin' hot for outdoor activities, I won't be sitting on my butt at home.

Well, Fitness Works has already thrown a monkey wrench into the works; they've cancelled my Monday BodyCombat class and now I have to figure out a new schedule. This Monday I drove to the other gym down in Higley for their Combat class later in the evening. The instructors were fine, but apart from being twice as far away it's a very large and noisy room, hard to see the instructor without craning your neck. What's more they blew out the speakers after one too many attempts to "pump up the volume". It was kind of weird, because the speakers weren't totally gone - it was more like aerobics to the muffled tune of the lous party your neighbor down the street is having.

So that leaves me with a Combat class on Thursday, which I could swing if I can get out of work a little early, and do Pump right afterward. The only other option is Sunday morning, but that would mean dropping my RPM class, and I really like the instructor; he's really clear with his instructions going through the routine.

Well, we'll get things sorted out. My schedule's going to be wacky through March anyway.


Monday, January 29, 2007

I just got one of those fake eBay phishing emails, but the Subject line was, and I kid you not, "[SPAM10] IMPORTANT MEMBER SERVICE INFORMATION" .

Some script kiddie needs to take off his training wheels...


Monday, January 22, 2007

Do you remember the original Ren & Stimpy show? Do you remember a song called "Happy Happy Joy Joy"?

Sara Lee is now using it in their commercials.

It is truly the Apocalypse.


Sunday, January 14, 2007


I blew off last night's freeze warning, because at worst all it ever means is that we're going to dip a bit below freezing and get a light frost overnight.

This morning at 7:00 is was 24 degrees outside. My backyard fountain was frozen solid. Still was at 10:00; I think it's thawed a bit since then. Peaseblossom has found a nice sunny spot on the floor here in the office, and the twins are up on the desk being extra cuddly.

Friday was my alternate Friday off, so I spent a couple hours at REI basically ensuring I'll get a big member dividend at the end of the year. The major purchases: new hiking boots (because the ones I bought in New Zealand 3 years ago are coming apart), a 38 litre backpack (because my dinky daypack isn't gonna cut it on my Rim-to-Rim), and a warm 3-in-one jacket (for my trip to Tierra del Fuego in December).

I've started making bookings for my big end-of-year trip, not because I'm anal but because it's hard to find a flight from Phoenix to Punta Arenas that isn't insane in terms of price, layovers, and arrival time. This first leg has been an interesting exercise in how much extra I'm willing to pay to get a decent night's rest before the tour starts. There was one itinerary that went via Toronto(!), reasonably-priced but had an 11-hour layover somewhere and arrived at 3:30AM. Most of the cheap ones were like that.

Then there were the cheap flights that didn't exist. Orbitz is good at those; they'll offer a screaming deal like $752, then when you select it you get a message that says the flight is no longer available, or the fare has suddenly changed to $38,753. Do the search again, and the flight reappears at the original price. (Same thing happened when I flew out to Concertino last year - smokin deal that evaporated when I clicked on it. Feh.)

Ultimately, the site that found me the best deals was SideStep, which searches a bunch of legit travel sites. I also got some advice on TripAdvisor on how much time to allow for customs & immigration in Santiago (a lot). What I'd really like to see out of a travel search engine is an option for maximum and minimum layover times. For example, I don't want to miss a connecting flight because there wasn't time to get through C&I, dash to another terminal, check in again, go through the security line again, and run to my gate. I also would prefer not to spend 24 hours sitting around the airport, if at all possible.


Well, it's 1:30 and the pond is mostly thawed, except for a thin sheet of ice on top. I re-set the solar panel (I'd put it face down this morning), and the pump is still working fine. The cats had a hissy brawl while I was working on this post, and are now back to their original positions.


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