Sunday, August 31, 2008

August Wordle

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Storm Damage

The Phoenix area has been on the receiving end of some major storms this week. One such storm hit late Thursday night. That one missed our area, but it hit the east Phoenix, Tempe, and the downtown area pretty hard. In fact, many historic homes--including one of my favorite mid-century era condo towers--sustained some very heavy damage.

But we got hit hard last night. Around 10:00, we got pounded with torrential downpours and very high winds. It was so terrible that I made everyone move downstairs until the storm passed. During which time, we were hastily throwing our patio cushions and chairs through the back door into the family room.

The extent of our damage was this wood slat that split and blew off our back gate. Our next door neighbor found the broken wood in his yard and leaned it against our fence.

Later, I discovered that a piece of aluminum flashing that holds a pipe vent to the roof had separated from the concrete tile. It was a scary experience for him, but Q was able to climb up there, pound the flashing down, and reattach it.
But we were among the lucky ones. All over the neighborhood the wind knocked trees out of the ground by the root. This one was taken at the Fry's parking lot down the street. Elsewhere in the same strip mall, a tree had fallen on a company truck for the pool supply store.

Quite a few homes in our neighborhood had major roof damage. The two houses pictured below have quite a few dislodged or missing roof tiles at the bottom edges. We noticed that most of the damaged roofs were constructed with barrel tile. Those of us with flat roof tile fared better.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Put to the Test

I have been allowing the boys to stay home alone for the last year or so. At 14 and 10, they're old enough to be by themselves for short time periods. They just have a few rules to follow. No using the stove (they can heat up frozen pizza or Chef Boyardee in the microwave if they get hungry), and no friends allowed in the house.
And for the most part, they've done very well. But their home alone preparedness skills were put to the test on Wednesday. Q and I were at the gym. We were gone for less than an hour.
On the way home, we stopped to pick up the car from the garage (Mustang needed a wheel alignment). While we waited for the car, Kyle called Q's cell phone. A neighbor boy had tried to bust his way into the house.
At first, "Carl" rang the doorbell and asked if he could come in and play. Kyle and Lucas told him that they're not allowed to have friends over then their parents aren't home. Carl walked inside and claimed that we won't mind if he plays here. Not true. When we say "no friends in the house", there are no exceptions.
Kyle and Luke got Carl to leave, but he came back a few minutes later. This time, he came through the back gate and let himself in through the unlocked back door. Again, the boys made him leave and they locked the door.
A few minutes later, they heard noises at the back door. Carl had returned. This time, he was jiggling the locked door handle. He was also licking the window glass, and was doing shoulder bumps at the the door, trying to get it open.
Kyle knew he needed backup. And the second he whipped out his cell phone, Carl saw that he meant business and took off. We haven't seen him since.
I feel bad for Carl because he is developmentally delayed. There are some issues with his family, and he's passed around alot. Our neighbors are friends of Carl's family, and he spends a great deal of time with them. He's also ostracized by other children. He comes here to play because we treat him decently...even when he rings the doorbell during dinner.
Problems and shortcomings notwithstanding, the boy still needs to learn. I'm very aware that he's been on the receiving end of much rejection. Even still, Carl needs to understand that it's not OK to come into peoples' homes when not invited.
As for Kyle and Lucas, thankfully, they weren't scared. If anything, they were afraid of getting in trouble for allowing Carl to gain entry in the first place.

Busy Week

My first week of school is done. I don't take Friday classes because I need one weekday to run errands, work at the boys' school, do homework, goof off, and just decompress.

In addition to my Monday/Wednesday classes, I also have History of Decorative Arts and CAD 2 on Tuesdays. On Thursdays, I just have CAD 2.

My decorative arts instructor is the same one I had last semester for modern architecture. EXCELLENT teacher. In fact, I was bummed when that class came to an end.

I met my CAD instructor last semester in passing when she complimented my hair. In fact, when she took roll on Tuesday, she remembered me as "the lady with the great hair". Funny, because the humidity that day proved otherwise.

Also this week, Q and I joined the gym. The community college near our house just completed a major expansion project that included more classrooms, a bookstore, a cafeteria, and a FITNESS CENTER! Yay! We were able to get community memberships for $85 each for the semester. That's way cheaper than a commercial gym. And the fact that the college gym is just two minutes from home is an added bonus.

Wednesday was Kyle's 14th birthday. When I asked him what he wanted for dinner, he asked if we could go out to eat.

"Yeah, OK", I told him. "Where would you like to go?"
His face lit up. "In-N-Out Burger!"

Aim high, my son.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, Kyle!

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day!

Today was my first day back at school. Since the college is over 30 miles away, and I have to there by 8:30, AND I'm traveling east during rush hour, I had to leave early. REALLY early.

I was out of the house shortly after 7, and arrived at campus with 15 minutes to spare. Traffic flowed pretty good once I got past the SR-51 interchange. Maybe I'll leave a tiny bit later tomorrow.

Anyway, my first class was Drawing and Rendering. I'd never had this instructor for any classes before, but "Clark" is the head of the department, and I met him last spring when I needed academic advisement.

He's an interesting character. He plays techno music during lab time.

My afternoon class was Space Planning. Since I was one of the last students to arrive, I got the second crappiest seat in the class. In order to see the screen during the PowerPoint lecture, I had to spin my chair around and take notes with a binder in my lap.

Like my rendering teacher, I met the Space Planning instructor last semester. She was teaching the lighting class that used the classroom before the materials class I was taking at the time. I would come in early to get some work done, and "Laura" was nice enough to let me use the computer if she was done lecturing.

I got home before shortly before the boys. I was impressed to find that all the doors had been locked and lights turned off. The only thing I found wrong was the breakfast dishes were still on the dining room table, but I can live with that.

Oh, and Jango was angry at me for being gone all day. She made her feelings known by screaming at me for a solid half-hour.

Tomorrow: History of Decorative Arts and AutoCAD.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

eCard Meme Madness

I "borrowed" this meme from Craig at RainbowDishes. The idea is to find 5 eCards from that describe you. And since I have a very difficult time staying within given limits, I chose a whole bunch more than 5.

This one's for Q.

My contribution to the meal is the dishes on which we eat it.

See above.

This is squarely directed at someone I know. Can't say who because I'm quite certain that this person reads this blog.

Jefferson Starship, anyone?

Yes, the years have hardened me.

I thought of Mark G. when I saw this one.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Cell Phones

Q and I got new cell phones last week. We chose the LG Chocolate because among its features is an MP3 player. Besides, we were able to get these phones with no money out of pocket under Verizon's "new every two" plan.
I chose the blue ice color, and Q got black cherry. I would have gotten pink had it been an option.
I'm still trying to get used to this phone. I didn't know how to turn on the vibrate setting, and the damn thing went off during a curriculum night presentation at the boys' school. Kyle's language arts teacher joked that she won't take the phone away--this time.

Meanwhile, Q found a program that allows him to make his own ringtones and import them from his computer to the phone via Bluetooth. He made me a ringtone of the opening bars of "Love too Good" by Jefferson Starship. Give it a listen--very '70s.
Then this morning, I heard the musical stylings of Carly Simon reverberating from my purse. As a joke, Q had changed the ringtone to the chorus of "You're So Vain".
My husband knows me too well! :-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Boring Day

I hate days like today. I was supposed attend jury duty. I scheduled no appointments and made no plans, knowing that it would take the entire day.

Yesterday, I called the jury hotline, as was instructed on the summons. According to the recording, every group scheduled for Wednesday, August 20 had been excused.

Apparently, there were no trials on the docket at the Surprise branch of Maricopa County Superior Court.

This is the third time that this has happened.

I should have been relieved. I mean, most people expend great effort to get out of jury duty. As for me, I was looking forward to it. The date chosen wasn't interfering with work or school. Jury duty is a process that I want to experience first hand, at least once.

So, with nothing to do, I went to the mall. I checked out the Fiesta selections at Dillard's and Macy's. Neither store had anything I had to have. There were no big sales on canisters, and neither store had pizza platters in stock.

I also checked out the summer clearance racks. Same story. I found nothing worth my money. I'm a little old to be sporting the backless/strapless look to school.
It didn't help matters that I chose to go to Arrowhead Mall in Glendale. Their store offerings cater mostly to toddlers, pregnant women, or teenagers. Or pregnant teenagers with toddlers.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Family Experiment

This is my last week at home before classes start. This semseter, I'm taking a full course load (12 credits), and two of my classes start at 8:30. Since I have a 30 mile commute in rush hour traffic, I'll need to leave the house before anyone else.

Because of carpool, Q also needs leave early. As a result, the boys will be responsible for getting themselves off to school.

That's where the experiment comes in. Every morning this week, I'm going to lock myself in my room and see how the boys do on their own. I'll be there, but I won't be there. I'll get up long enough to pack snacks and make sure everyone's getting their breakfast. But by 7, I'll retreat to my bed and tune in to The Adam Carolla Show. It will be as if I'm not home.

I know they're old enough to handle this. Many of their friends have been playing the latchkey game for years.

Today wasn't too bad. At 7:30, Lucas came in and needed his reading sheet signed. I reminded him that next time he'll have to catch me earlier. Or the night before. Preferably the night before.

At 7:45, I went downstairs and checked the garage. Kyle's bike was gone so he obviously gave himself plenty of time (school starts at 8:15). Lucas had also left in time to catch the bus.

The only things I found wrong were that the kitchen and dining room lights had been left on. That's not a big deal, but the front and back doors had been left unlocked as well.

We live in a very safe neighborhood, but that can't continue. I'm glad today was just a dry run.

If it doesn't work out, Q will just have to stop carpooling! :-)

A-Z Questions

Just like Craig, I'm not feeling particularly inspired about blogging. I like to think that it's just a temporary dry spell. In the meantime I'm going to fill out the same questionnaire that he did.
A. attached or single? Firmly attached

B. best friend? See above

C. cake or pie? Cake...chocolate with whipped cream cheese frosting.

D. day of choice? Friday

E. essential item? Debit card

F. favorite color? I have two: PINK and everything else (a la Fiesta dinnerware)

G. gummy bears or worms? Worms...the sour kind with sugar coating

H. hometown? Phoenix

I. favorite indulgence? Coach handbags. I like to remind Q that he's lucky I'm not a jewelry girl.

J. January or July? January...July is uncomfortably hot around here.

K. kids? Two boys

L. life isn't complete without? A reason to leave the house in the morning.

M. marriage date? October 26, 1991

N. number of brothers & sisters? 1 sister

O. oranges or apples? Yes

P. phobias? Widowhood

Q. quotes? I saw this one on a dish collectors message board: "Our grandmothers owned it. Our mothers threw it away. We're buying it back." I'm thinking of making it into a sign.

R. reasons to smile? Someones about to take your picture; both kids make honor roll; waking up and the first thing I see is Jango quietly watching me; Lucas scoops out the litter box without being told to do so; a great hair day.

S. season of choice? Late winter in Phoenix...perfect convertible weather.

T. tag seven peeps! I can't. Most of the people who read this blog have already done this meme (or a variation of it). Those who haven't think they're above this sort of thing.

U. unknown fact about me? I memorize the letter portion my friends', neighbors', and acquaintance's license plates.

V. vegetable? Carrots

W. worst habits? Being bossy, talking to myself, bragging, oneupsmanship.

X. x-ray or ultrasound? Ultrasound...I equate these with pregnancy--a happy occasion. X-rays are almost never good.

Y. your favorite food? This week? Chocolate and peanut butter ice cream.

Z. zodiac sign? Pisces

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Dishes: Meet The Stones

One of my favorite segment of the dish collection is the Ironstone, Amberstone, and Casualstone patterns. Ironstone was a restyled version of Fiesta that was sold for a few years before the line was discontinued completely. The Amberstone and Casualstone lines were grocery store promotions that were produced in Fiesta shapes. All were sold from the late '60s through the early '70s. We are a two-boat family. Here, my Turf Green and Antique old Ironstone sauce boats are pictured with Granada salt and pepper shakers in gold and green. I acquired a liking for the Granada pattern at the HLCCA conference last month, and have decided to incorporate it into the collection.

Cups and creamers.

Left to right: Casualstone covered sugar bowl in Antique Gold, Granada covered sugar bowl in green, Ironstone covered sugar bowl in Mango Red, Casualstone marmalade in Antique Gold, and Amberstone covered sugar bowl in brown. The Granada sugar bowl makes a nice stand-in until I find an Ironstone one in Turf Green.

From the outside in: Vegetable bowl in Turf Green, cereal bowl in Mango Red, and fruit bowl in Antique Gold.

Amberstone covered casserole that I bought at conference.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Weekend Plans

Finish the laundry.

Take Kyle to birthday party at Laser Quest.

Figure out how to load music onto our new cell phones without subscribing for more Verizon services. All the music I want is bought, paid for, and loaded on my computer. And I'd rather use that than buy the same songs again.

Try to understand Bluetooth.

Replace the hydraulic trunk struts on the Mustang. At Target the other day, I had a bitch of a time loading the car because the damn trunk wouldn't stay open. It didn't help matters that I was parked on a slight incline, but still...

Take Kyle and his friend to a Mario Kart/Wii competition at the local Play N Trade.

Grocery shopping

Clean out Kyle's dresser. I'll only do this when he gets the junk out from under his bed to make room for the bins I bought for his extra jeans and t-shirts.

Enjoy the pool. Drink a few daiquiris. When the buzz hits, I'll switch to frozen Pepsi.

Think of new post ideas. This blog is going stale.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Love It

I love it when we go to dinner at a nice restaurant, and nobody picks a fight, whines, or bickers the entire time.

I love it when Lucas gives me hugs for no reason.

I love it when a package arrives in the mail...even if it's just a textbook or lawn mower parts.

I love it when Q spontaneously invites me out for lunch.

I love it when I find Jango hanging out with Kyle and his friends.

I love it when a handicap parking violator gets his just desserts.

I love it when I have enough stamps on my punch card to get a free smoothie.

I love it when Q wears his plaid Orvis polo shirt.

I love it when I rediscover an obscure, almost forgotten song that I hadn’t heard since 1983.

I love it when the boys get themselves out of bed and dressed without any prodding on my part.

I love it when the weather is so perfect that we have no need for heat or air conditioning.

I love it when my nails are all the same perfect length.

I love it when Jango lets us sleep all the way until 7:30.

I love it when people at school seek me out for advice or help on an assignment. It makes me feel smarter than I really am.

I love it when I find 50% off coupons for Michael’s. Recently, I was able to buy a big box of Prismacolor pencils with one of these.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Paper, Paper Everywhere

Today was the boys' first day of school. They each brought home a very thick manila pocket folder that included two policy handbooks: one for the school, and one for the district.

There were also letters from the principal, school nurse, and district PR director.

And let's not forget the copies of: the attendance policy, school calendar, pick up/drop off instructions, PTSA membership form, unexcused tardies procedure, an authorization form that allows the student to be included in class photos, yearbooks, and other school publications, the parent volunteer training schedule, an application for the free/reduced meal program, and the August/September lunch menu.

Surprisingly, the medical and emergency release cards weren't included.

I knew these folders were coming. I spent Wednesday morning at the school with a bunch of parent and student volunteers assembling over a thousand of these things. At one point, Lucas was helping me count out stacks of 25 folders. He said the job was like "Bejing slave labor".

It didn't help matters that it was 85 degrees in the room.

Now that the folders are home, many of these forms need to be read, re-read, discussed with the student, signed by the parent, signed by the student, dated, and returned.

And then we have to sign and date another form, acknowledging that we read, re-read, discussed, and understand the above.

Since when did the starting a new grade become like closing escrow on a house?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

More Summer Reading

Today, we drove to northeast Phoenix to check out Half Price Books. I found one of the textbooks that I'll be needing for my space planning class. I also found these books in the clearance section:

Friday, August 08, 2008

Buyer's Guilt

In recent weeks, I have had some very good luck on eBay. My most recent acquisition is a vintage Fiesta carafe in cobalt blue. The auction listing didn't include a shipping cost so I wrote to the seller, and asked how much S&H would be to my ZIP code.

He quoted me $9. That sounded fair for an item of this size. So I placed my bid and won.

The package arrived safe and sound in today's mail. And according to the postmark, the seller spent $14.25 to ship the carafe to me. He had to eat that other $5.25. The ending price for the carafe was $9.99. Factor in eBay fees, and the seller made very little money.

I read may tales of disgruntled buyers who feel they are being gouged by sellers who heavily inflate their shipping costs. I was one of them when I got burned on a deal several years ago (details below). But I very rarely hear about buyers who got a break on shipping.

Shipping breaks have happened to me more than once in the not-so-distant past. I have won auctions or bought items from sellers who paid more in postage fees than they charged me. One such seller even reads this blog.

And I feel guilty when that happens. Usually I'm the first to brag when I get a giveaway bargain. But not when I'm so undercharged for mailing costs. I come away with a sick feeling that my good deal is coming at the expense of some one else's bottom line.

That's not that to say that I'm never overcharged. That has happened more times than I care to admit. Years ago, a seller tried to charge me $12.95 to ship a shoebox-sized package of Legos. And this was back in the days when shipping one of those freebie USPS Priority Mail parcels cost a flat rate of $3.50.

I managed to talk the seller down to $8.95. According to the postmark, she only paid $4.95. Neutral feedback was left. I could have left a negative, but I felt partly to blame for not seeking a quote before auctions end. I will never do that again.

So, when I'm overcharged for shipping, I get angry. But when I'm undercharged, I feel--at best--a slight twinge of guilt.

I'll take anger anyday.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Recent Discoveries

--Nothing jazzes up fried eggs like Pico Pica taco sauce.

--Modal bedsheets. Breatheable like cotton but WAY softer.

--Cinnamon bagels topped with honey-walnut cream cheese.

--Lucas reads the National Hurricane Center website everyday.

--I downloaded a copy of Midnight Train to Georgia only to find that it was already on my iPod.

--Jango has bad eyesight. This has been deduced by the fact that when it's dark out, she won't use her litterbox until we turn on the bathroom light. She also cries very loudly when we don't leave a light on at night.

--Betula sandals. The comfort of Birkenstocks but with flair.

--My boys know more Jefferson Starship songs than Elvis songs.

--While cleaning out my closet, I found a Banana Republic t-shirt that dated back to the days
when their offerings consisted of safari clothes.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sunday Funny

Saturday, August 02, 2008


I love eBay's "best offer" option. I just wish more sellers would use it. Thanks to this feature, this little goody is coming home to live with me.

So is this one.

And this one, too!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Technical Difficulties

This blog is giving me fits! Whenever I try to view it, I get an error message stating that "Internet Explorer cannot open the Internet site...".

And you, dear readers, may be seeing the same thing. At first, I thought the problem was related to last week's big crash. But Q can't read this site from his laptop, either. That means--I think--that nobody can. I had to access my dashboard by logging in at Blogger's main page.

I should point out that I can still read other people's blogs. So it's just mine that's having a problem.

Q has no idea what the problem is, or how to fix it. And that means just one thing:

I'm screwed.