Saturday, March 28, 2009

Just stuff

Finishing up! I was quite proud of myself with the plumbing job at hand. Actually it wasn't too bad except for the fumes of the plumbers glue and primer. Wicked stuff! The job took about 20 minutes and that was because I was being careful with the glue. So here it is!

All that is left is too replace the metal stud, insulate, and replace wallboard. To be on the safe side we have decided to wait until winter and just buy a nice piece of paneling to attach in the meantime in case the plumbing job goes bad.
I did use H&R Blocks CD Tax Cut to do taxes this year instead of them and saved. It was relatively easy. If you can do your own taxes the old fashioned way, send them in, and wait for your money your getting the best savings. The program allowed for 5 federal returns and one state return. So to get the most out of the software plan ahead to utilize it with other people filing taxes to save money. You can purchase additional states for $19.95.
Today I made some Parmesan risotto with fresh basil,onion, and garlic. Finding the Arborio rice was the hardest, and it was $6.95 a pound to boot. I have been to 5 grocery stores and finally found it. If you watch Hell's Kitchen you will notice that this is one of their staples as an appetizer, however if you don't eat alot use it for main course with a fresh salad and bread sticks.

Lisa has been sick most of the week with a toothache. She needs to get a root canal and the doctor she goes to can't see her until the beginning of the week. So I have been trying to make soft foods for dinner. Last night we had cauliflower and cheddar soup-not my favorite but it worked for her. She kind of knew what was coming and started on some antibiotics that they gave her. When I got those filled I almost passed out at the price. With her prescription plan it was $60.00 for 20 pills. Without the plan it would have cost $327.12. Are these people insane? I told her to ask for something else comparable if she can, these drug companies don't need to be charging exorbitant prices like that.

My sister in Washington State got a dog from the SPCA two weeks ago. She hasn't had a dog for some time and was getting lonely since my nephew went off to college. She adopted a Papillon (spelled right?) that is a year old and it sounds like she has her hands full. I'm glad she finally got one after waiting for so many years. She had an Akita that she bought when she was in Japan and he lived until age 13. She was so crushed when he died.

Well my Aero Garden has produced herbs but I do believe that the potted method offers up much better results. The basil and marjoram did terrific but I was disappointed with the others.

I have been pondering many things lately for some reason about life in general. The changes that come about within yourself as you age. When you are young you crave experience and wisdom with untarnished youthful outlook and energy. As you get older and wiser you crave youthful energy, but want to retain the wisdom you have learned. I know that there has to be a balance in there somewhere. Lisa and I both feel that there is a level of age discrimination in the workforce. I told Lisa she would have to dress more provocative to interview-what a dirty look I got! She said they would be hiring her on her credentials not her assets. I had to take her back twenty years ago when we were the inexperienced with some looks. Soon I will be ready for a little nip/tuck and will have it done. She on the other hands wants to age gracefully. More power to her! Just give me the credit card-ha, ha!

Why people think that someone of the age of 25 works better and has more stamina then a person of 45 is beyond me. I have seen this first class and can tell you that in my field that is not always true. We had a lady that was 73 years old that worked in the kitchen part time. Now she could not lift really heavy stuff like a man, but it was amazing what she could lift! She had done this for so many years, she was so fluent in motion that she could have cooked in her sleep. Not only was she experienced but she there on time, willing to work, not hung over from partying, and a team player. Imagine that!

I have a client that her husband just passed away in December. She was married for 36 years. Can you imagine the changes in her life? I try to spend extra time with her listening to stories, and do small things at no charge. Changing light bulbs and taking out her trash make things a little easier on her. This week I finished with the painting in her house hanging pictures and paintings in all the locations she picked out. As I was placing these on the walls I noticed that they were all done by her husband as the decades progressed. She had surrounded herself in the home with visible memories throughout the years of her husband. It was just a reminder of how fast life can change as you once knew it.

Well tonight is Earth hour at 8:30pm. During one hour everyone is to shut off their lights. At the rate our electric bill keeps going up I am considering buying a couple of hamsters and one of those big wheels. Better yet put Abbey on there with Lucy's dog Spunky and a squirrel on the other side and I could power up the neighborhood.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

knee deep

Busy, Busy, Busy! I think I need another brain. Trying to remember so much can be overloading in itself. We have been really busy with painting jobs and in the meantime I am trying to get the mowers ready, get taxes done (doing them myself this year because I am cheap or smart, last year it cost $330.00 to have them done), paint our kitchen, mulching, and help Lisa job search. In the mean time the car and truck needs detailing, we get a great day, get everything out, turn on the water outside and nothing. Come back inside to a pool of water on the floor. Pipe burst in the wall! This is the second time! We had the one wall finished by a contractor that did not allow room for expansion and made the wall to snug pressing on the pipe. First time he fixed it, this time we were so furious I wanted to see what was going on. Shut the water off, tore the wall out only to find that his fix was a piece of wood that he had wedged into the wall to give the pipe room had slipped out. What a mess, now it is plumbing 101. Washing machine hose burst and started leaking-geesh what next. Light cover on stove broke and I have made 10 trips to home depot. I have discovered some really neat things during this time.

A new ultra light spackling compound made by red devil that requires no sanding. Yippie! It is so cool. You just apply with a spackling knife to fill holes and cracks and wait 30 minutes and it is completely dry and ready to paint. Does not shrink or crack. Great stuff

Plumbers make entirely too much money. Complete cost of supplies to fix busted pipe was $22.46. This included a ten foot section of PVC, 1 angle, 3 connectors, and primer. Time to disconnect old pipe was 15 minutes, time to tear out wall was 1 hour including cleanup, time to install new is to be seen.

Popcorn ceiling spray. For a couple of years now I have been wondering how to repair and area on a finished ceiling. Now I know. It comes in a spray can for only $12.97 and is so easy to use.

When fixing or replacing bathroom or kitchen plumbing cartridges the cheapest place to purchase is Home Depot and the prices really vary with the most expensive being online. If you have Moen it is guaranteed for life and they will replace it.

Well back to work, still knee deep in mulch water, and paint.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

ax women of the Northeast

I have spent the last couple of days trying to recoup from work. For small jobs that are close I usually take care of those myself and may ask Lisa for a hand if needed. Well we were still getting over the soreness of that 600 pound stump when the same client asked for a tree to be taken down. It was rotten and looked pretty small (remember objects are larger than they appear) so I said sure-of course. To me it was no big deal, but to Lisa, you would have thought that we were cutting down a California redwood. Half way through cutting it nervous Gerty had me rethinking the process. That women had more scenarios playing out in her mind than I could take in. The tree would kick back and fall on us, the tree would shatter, it was going to fall on me before I could finish the cut, and she even tried to push it over before I made the cut far enough in. Can you picture two women trying to push a 35 ft tree over? I wanted to strangle her! Finally she calmed down and listened, I finished cutting and the tree came down like it should have. When it was all over of course we laughed at ourselves and she made me swear to her that I wouldn't take anymore trees down. The phone rang later with a lady that has a small dogwood that needs to be removed-hmmm!

I can not wait for warm weather to start grilling outside and eating healthier meals. I bought a huge pork butt to make pork and sauerkraut. It was a good price but actually to big for us, so I cut a huge hunk off rub it with seasonings, some liquid smoke, then slow roasted it for pork barbecue. Damn, I had pork everywhere. Containers of barbecue to freeze, sliced pork for sandwiches, pork and sauerkraut, diced pork for the dogs, and I still have pork left. It is a pigs revenge! Rarely do I over eat but when it comes to a meal with mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, pork, and sauerkraut that will usually entice me. After dinner we were all crashed in the living room with our bellies sticking out like it had been thanksgiving. That's when I realized that I was turning into my parents-oh,no!

So yesterday was St Patricks day which we always celebrate with corned beef, cabbage, red potatoes, and green beer. I did buy a very small corned beef this time. We went to the movies to see Last House on the Left which was good. I had not been to the movies for some time and realized how much I missed going. That big screen effect with the sound just makes the movie so much better. At the beginning of the previews they were showing some of the new TV shows like roommates and we laughed as they previewed Ax Men-loggers in the northwest. Maybe that's our calling, Ax Women of the Northeast.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Windy Valley

Farm life during the summer seemed to be filled with endless hours of busying oneself. Help pick the beans, pick the cherries, wash the vegetables, gather the eggs, and other chores my mother gave me to keep busy. We were getting ready to go for a visit to Baltimore to see relatives and I could not get there soon enough. We always gathered a bunch of fresh goodies from the farm to take with us. At that age you can't appreciate having fresh produce for your taking when you want it, but I recall my grandmothers expression of joy when Mom would take in her box of homegrown pride.
The trip to the city was always a day long affair and the best part for me was a place called Windy Valley. This would become a tradition for us that would last for years until it closed. You could smell the burgers cooking a mile away before you arrived. It was a kid's dream place to stop at. A wooden building that looked like it was straight out of the series Gunsmoke. You could almost imagine Marshal Matt Dillion standing on the porch waiting for Miss Kitty to come across the street. A small corral off to the side with all types of ponies saddled up ready to go. A petting area that you could get up close to the ponies and pick the one that you wanted to ride. They even gave you a real cowboy hat to wear while you were riding. People gathered outside at picnic tables enjoying burgers, fries, and milkshakes while waiting for their turn on the pony rides. The best thing about the burgers is that they were fresh, hot, and small with tiny bits of chopped onion on them. The bun was warm, tucked inside of a wax paper pouch with a man riding a horse while lassoing a bull in red and gold print.
They carried a small array of western wear and toys and the thing that I really noticed was the sheriffs badge. It was like a shiny shield of honor that made you the boss. I would daydream of having one of those badges and being sheriff of our town (the farm). Someone had to keep law and order or those varmits would surely get out of control. I had wanted one of those for a really long time and of course my own pony that I was told that would happen when I was old enough.
Then one hot summer day it happened. It had been a long morning and I was a little under the weather. So we made all of our usual stops but missed Windy Valley. My mother had promised that we would stop to ride the ponies on our way home. It was late after visiting with the sun was starting to set when the familiar smell of burgers and horse drifted into the window as we approached. As we pulled into the parking lot I noticed the ponies were unsaddled and being cooled down for the day. We were too late for the ponies. I was so disappointed but took it in stride. There would be a next time. Mom and I ate our burgers outside at the picnic table and watched as the ponies were fed some hay and oats and put into their stalls for the day. We got into the car to began the rest of our journey home when she placed a small white box on my lap. I saw that familiar gleam when I lifted the lid off the box, it was the sheriffs badge! I took it out carefully and examined every inch of before proudly pinning it to my shirt. It had turned out to be a good day and my mind started to drift as the night air pulled through the window of the car. I drifted off to sleep with the dreams of a small town, a pony, Matt Dillion, and Windy Valley.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Job Markets are they Fair?

The economy is bad, jobs are scarce turning the job market into an employers world of feast. The employer now has the upper hand with mounds of applicants to choose from. I have noticed some things that are now transpiring.

Wages are coming down. Yes,for a fact one of the facilities I worked for as a manager and knew what the initial hiring rates were I have seen the job advertised at a lower starting salary. Older employees are being let go while the retention rate of younger mid term employees are being kept while young new hires are being brought in at a lesser rate of pay. Employers are sitting on resumes and positions sifting through picking the cream of the crop. They want it all! Youth, experience, education, motivation, and dedication. I refer to this as the Stepford Employee. Have you ever really noticed some of the biggest corporations immediate managers? Talk about mania, damn I almost wanted to offer one a Valium (not that I use Valium-but he needed it).
If you are a young 18-26 built, attractive young female than you probably have the best chance of getting your resume at the top of the pile. I can just envision a cartoon with a big fat pig sitting at the head of a corporate desk surrounded by fellow cronies smoking imported cigars and sipping cognac. Squealing at the delight of others misfortune while they sift through the mounds of potentials waiting to grind the corn.Below a dungeon of chained workers bound by heaping credit card bills and high mortgages sweating in the stye of conditions that never get reported bound by fear.

What is missing here? Sincerity, pleasantry, being truly genuine, a combination of traits that makes us human.

What happened to the days of valued employees that retired with the gold watch, pensions (that were actually there), and 25-30 years of appreciated loyal service with dignity and high regard for the company that you worked for. There used to be a sense of pride when someone spoke about GE, General Motors, the State of, Bell Atlantic, and the railroads. Now after several years of employment and a large part of your life that you have dedicated to the job is in jeopardy. How can this be? Very simple hard fact. Sorry Bud, but you have grown older and cost us too much money. You can be replaced by someone stronger, younger, and cheaper. P.S We hope you invested your money wisely. Don't take offense this is just part of company restructuring.

Now from my past experiences I can tell you the market in some areas is not fair and bias. On the level that most of you probably would not expect.

The thing I have encounter the most has been nepotism. This has affected the right people getting the job and the reason for other employees not getting the promotion first. Even when in black and white employee handbooks and human resource guidelines nepotism is rampant in the workforce. Husbands and wives working together, mother daughter/son, and siblings. What comes out of this is preferential treatment and low employee morale. I have been witness to scheduling liberties, actual permitted and accepted low work performance, wrongful promotions and awards, and unexplained and accepted tardiness. We are not talking about small companies either. We are talking about the State of Maryland, a large 14 facility senior retirement home specialist, and another large senior institution. Now mind you these are facilities that are not private owned businesses. These employers are suppose to have all of their guidelines t's crossed and i's dotted. NOT!

I was once an idealistic person that thought the workplace was one that if a person worked hard, did their job, followed the rules, was enthusiastic and motivated they would succeed and prosper with the company they worked for. Well throughout the years the layers of that young naive woman have been shed only to find that only some of that is true if you are willing to turn the other cheek and overlook the other atrocities that go on. Problem with that is I was born a Libra. Oh my how the scales of justice weigh for true Libras. It is true that balance is important, justice must prevail in life, along with fairness in the job market.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The morgue

Have you ever had a a room in your home that you just don't use to often? A room that becomes detached from the house sitting idle waiting to come to life.

We call ours the morgue. A back bedroom that seems colder than the Artic, darker than the night without moon and stars, almost as sterile as an operating room, and so quite that it seems to be removed from all sound. Last year I decided to give this room a makeover to give it better character. We use it for company so we ensure that the dogs and cat never have a chance to go in there and keep the door closed. I often laugh when I am cleaning and the dogs come to the doorway and peer in like they have never seen the inside before. They will just sit there, watch and look around-strange beasts. This room actually has no scent to it. It is really strange, no wafting of food, man, nor animal. I had taken out the comfortable queen sized bed (dummy me)and replaced it with a new twin to make the room spacious. I painted and put up new matching curtains and bedspread with subtle end stand table lighting. It looks nice, but I am telling you that bed is like sleeping on a slab, what a back breaker!

So between the cold and the slab you look like hell and death warmed over the next morning when you come out of that room. That is why we call it the morgue.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring Fever

Such bums! They need to get a job! And their own bed!

I have been keeping myself busy to avoid that yearly uncontrollable urge that I get when this time of the year rolls around. I have never figured out why it happens to me, but it is the equivalent of a werewolf and full moon. To most it is called Spring Fever. Many will start cleaning, organizing, and changing the curtains to welcome the fresh arrival of flowers and warm air. For me it seems more primal, makes we want to do crazy and chancy things that kids do, but I have been good (so far). Well let's move on.

Of course the weather has been crazy here. March 1st it was cold and snowing, dumped 7 inches on the ground in 20 degree weather. March 7Th it is 73 degrees with the sun out. It was as if Houdini had been here. Now you see it and now you don't. I did get to use the snow blower and that was a trip in itself. Our driveway is not paved, it is gravel and on an incline. So as I start up the hill and there are rocks flying out of the shoot along with pine cones and small sticks. The neighbor looked horrified! So after about 2 hours the drive was cleared and we were able to get out. My horrified neighbor was shoveling her driveway which is just as bad as ours with the incline. Every time it has snowed her husband has been out of town. So I told her to use our snow blower and gave her a crash course on how it worked. I thought I would die laughing when she expressed concern that she did not want to break it! After all the rocks I mowed over. So all went well and we saved ourselves a great deal of back pain. The dogs were loving the snow and spent most of the day running around like wild banshees playing Frisbee. It is refreshing to me to get out when the weather is like this. I don't really mind snow and think it is beautiful to look at. That is of course until you have to drive in it. Fact: No two snow flakes are the same.

The Betta still lives. Ernie Borgnine (from the Poseidon Adventure). This is the first betta that I have had and I must say that they can be interesting. Since they are Japanese fighting fish you can not have two males together and only introduce the female when she is ready to spawn. Some quick facts: They do have teeth, they have the equivalent bite ratio that equals that of a Great White for their size ratio, they do eat bits of raw carrot, broccoli, green beans, mosquito larvae, and brine shrimp. and that they have an organ that allows them to breathe oxygen from the waters surface. It kind of funny to have dinner with him sitting in the middle of the table staring at you while your eating. I don't really think the cat has noticed him-that is a good thing.
Lisa's new coffee pot. After all the bitching over my coffee pot that she just hated with a passion we got a new one. I must admit this is convenient and the coffee is really hot. Keurig: just pop a prepacked sealed container into the top and push the button, 20 seconds later it is done! You can buy your own filters to use any type of coffee you prefer. She is in heaven, so I guess that is all that matters. Of course you can't have coffee without a Ravens mug.

I have been watching the NFL free agent signings. We were holding our breath that Baltimore would keep Ray Lewis. He did stay and we are set for another season of good football. You know I just have to say it Hainesworth-100 million dollars! Oh my god what an insane amount of money. I truly did not think that Dallas was going to keep Terrell Owens. Even Jerry can't keep up that kind of spending without the big wins. This year Romo better take'em to the playoffs or he will be out next. I do miss the Sunday games and now we have decided to go to our first ice hockey game. We will probably go to see the Philadelphia flyers since that is closer than Washington. It should be fun. We are gearing up for the Kentucky Derby! I would like to go there one year and see it in person. Here we have the Preakness and this year it will be much different. The Preakness has been known for the inside field party and wild inebriated participants that usually don't even know the race has started. They are cutting off the bring your own keg ideal and strictly using vendors. So no more bring your own bottle will keep things more on the sober side and race oriented.
I have spent a great deal of extra time with family members lately. My sister that lives in Washington State has called more often since her husbands shift has changed and she is lonely. She is experiencing the empty nest syndrome since my nephew went to college. It has been nice to talk to her more often, I just wished she lived closer.
My friend Jackie has been having a hard time of it lately with her son and his abuse of drugs. I know she feels lonely and scared. Her other son died of an overdose only just last year. She just can not make heads or tails of why this is happening. Nor her or her ex husband have any vices and have tried to raise their children up well. Her son has been trying to put her on a major guilt trip and it is such a shame because she does not deserve that. Makes me so mad sometimes that I just want to slap him. He is 46 years old living at home, not working, not helping, in legal trouble due to traffic violations, behind in child support, and addicted to prescription pain medication. He just tried to overdose this weekend and she called in a panic. He suffers from diabetes and a back injury that his doctors have been treating with high amounts of morphine, xanax, percocet, wellbutrin, and other garbage. This has been going on for five years now. Now that he is severely addicted most of the pain medication is not effective and he is abusing it which has led to bouts of severe depression and near fatal doses of medication. What are these doctors thinking? They need to re-evaluate people that have been on heavy medications after a certain time period and introduce the need for surgery to correct the problem and lessen the amount of pain and need for drugs.
It is like she is setting on a time bomb just waiting for something to happen. I find this so selfish of children to inflict on their parents. They should be taking care of the parent! He actually told her that it was her fault because she won't give him 35,000.00 to go into a treatment facility in Arizona. Now that is her retirement savings and who is going to look after her? Can you imagine! The more a think of it, the angrier I get. I tried to keep myself removed from the thought and just be there for her, but damn he needs a major ass whooping and slap of reality that he got himself there, he needs to be the one to get himself started on the road to recovery.
I have also realized that I never really comment much on those of you that leave comments. I do enjoy hearing from everyone and I do stop by and read what you have been up to. I don't always leave comments, but like to know how your doing and what life is like in other parts of our world. So stay well, enjoy life, and get ready for that Spring Fever!