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Archive for the 'Living My Life' Category

27 Apr

Tiny room, big furniture

The thing I miss most about our old rented house was having two large living areas. I’ve probably mentioned this before. Trying to arrange/fit furniture in our current small living room is like squeezing that ship into the bottle.

Hubby’s sister will soon be moving to Oregon, and during some of the early prep work, she asked us if we wanted an extra recliner-sofa. We wanted it, but would it fit? Hubby & I thought about it, measured, debated…and decided we could make it work. We moved the TV/buffet stand in front of the fireplace, and the new arrangement has been working out quite well. Especially for watching baseball.

living room

Now if it would just stop raining…seriously, it’s almost May, this is wonky on-again off-again weather for Calif…we’re more than ready to spend lazy, hot evenings lounging on our sofa.

25 Apr

Idle thoughts #0342

Rain, sun, rain, sun. The weather can’t make up its mind this April. I suppose when an area has become used to long drought periods, one tends to forget that rain in April, in California, is not actually abnormal. I do love rain, but I also love seasonal change. Today was very nice, however. Maybe we’ve seen our last major rain? One can hope.

Baby-kitty keeps hanging on. I’m becoming half-convinced that he’s going to outlive my two dwarf hamsters. He limps more and walks slower all the time, but he really doesn’t want to leave us. :)

I saw the cutest golden retriever in the backseat of a small SUV the other night. He was staring out the window with this sad, soulful, doggy expression that was adorable enough to make me consider dog-napping. Not a dog person at all, but certain breeds are very cute. If I were to ever get a dog, golden retriever would probably be it.

My mood has been decent overall, but motivation is still lackluster. Also been feeling more tired than usual. Probably allergies.
Decided to try a fixed-width format for the main content area of the blog. Don’t like it that much, but again, with today’s widescreen monitors it feels like the best solution…for the moment.

Baseball season has been going on for almost a month now. The Red Sox haven’t been doing too well overall, yet. All the changes, all the flux. I am happy for every win, however, and I’m happy for every exciting moment they have.
The Ortiz situation makes me sad tho. Times they are a changin’…

The SF Giants are doing pretty good too. And the A’s. But that’s probably the fluke of early season and small sample sizes. We shall see.

Was going to write something more comprehensive tonight as my first post after a long absence…post a few pictures too…but it’s become late, I’m tired and my brain is all mushy-squishy, so…maybe tomorrow.

21 Aug

Of cats and gardens

I love cats and always have. So don’t take this the wrong way:

If you live in a city/suburb and have multiple outdoor cats (more than 2 per household) and don’t care that they turn your neighbors yards into stinky, messy litterboxes, I don’t like you.

To be fair, here’s another gripe:

To whomever used 200pounds of small tanbark as decorative yard mulching for this house that we bought, I don’t like you, either.

The front yard has too many dirt areas near the front door and the windows, and the last month I’ve noticed the smell whenever I have the doors/windows open. It stinks and it permeates the house worse than my own cat’s indoor litterbox. I am not happy.

The entire area under front bedroom window was a litterbox, with the tanbark scrunched up in visible little piles of kitty-burying-activity. So I’ve spent some considerable time the past couple weeks trying to turn the front yard into an area that cats will not, generally speaking, want to pee and poop in.

Rocks as a groundcover in one spot. Shoveling most of the befouled tanbark into garbage bags and then more rocks and cheap cement pavers. That will do for a start. But after that, there’s the backyard, with more dirt strips under the back bedroom windows and all around the backyard fencing that need to be dealt with. Perhaps some chicken wire on the ground for those areas, because the backyard would equal at least a few tons of river rocks, and that’s a bit much to deal with. A long and tiring project. I know about the motion-sensor water deterrent thingies, but they might also keep the squirrels away - as well as humans - and while I’m currently really PO’d at neighbor cats, I still love squirrels. Same thing with the ‘get a dog’ ideas. :P

The occasional cat turd/spray is no problem…that’s life in the suburbs. But apparently our yard has become the claimed super-bathroom territory of the (one) neighbor’s 4 or 5 cats, and I’ve had enough. I shouldn’t have to clean up after YOUR pets simply because YOU don’t want to clean litter boxes in your own home and dump your cats outside. And you better believe if I see a cat in the yard, I’m chasing it away with a hose. And maybe a tossed shoe.

24 Jun

It’s amazing…

…to what lengths I will go to in order to avoid reformatting my hard drive. I used to do it once every year at the least, but once I realized how much more stable WinXP was over it’s predecessors, I started slacking. The last time I think I did a reformat was…um…three or four years ago. Point is, I need to reformat/reinstall XP, but I keep putting it off. Tweak the registry here and there, defrag constantly, and so on. It works…but no matter what you do, the system becomes more and more unstable. And the longer you go without, the more stuff you have to remember in order to reorganize the computing system back to the way you prefer it. I’m not talking about just backing up your “important files,” either. That’s easy. It’s more…

“Which settings did I tweak in Firefox, again?”
“Which things did I tweak in XP and how to do it, again?”
“What mods/patches did I use with that program/save game files/whatever again?”


Of course, the other bottom line in my case is that I also really need to build a new computer altogether. I keep almost doing it, but each time something (or my husband) convinces me it’s better to wait (more bang for your buck later). But frankly, there’s always a reason to wait…it really only, and always, boils down to “do I feel like spending money on that right now?” And unless you’re rich or a tech trend geek, the answer is usually “not really.”


09 Jun

Is BBQ with a gas grill really BBQ?

This weekend we finally bought an outdoor gas grill. We’ve talked about it before, but have been deterred either by price or by the fact we haven’t done much BBQing in ages. Oh sure, we used to BBQ a lot on the ol’ round charcoal Weber’s when we were in our early 20’s. First we had the Smokey Joe…a common staple among young adults who have little space and even less money…and later we bought the much larger ‘normal size’ Weber. Don’t ask me what normal size actually was, I have no idea. Probably a 22-inch grill diameter or something. But charcoal BBQ’s are dirty, and you have to deal with waiting for charcoal to reach the proper cooking state. Thus once our household income soared, our Weber became a black metal yard ornament which the squirrels and birds like to perch on.

Anyway…I hate cooking in the kitchen in summer. It’s often too hot and icky to be slaving over a hot stove. In the past, we’d get around this by ordering take-out food. A lot. We had a little more money to blow back then. Now our bills are bigger, the economy tighter, and our age is such that we’re more concerned about what we eat…so we’re trying to stop doing that. Problem: I still don’t like to cook in the summer. So…outdoor grill. Perfect solution, right? Perhaps. We shall see.

Our gas grill

As you can tell in the photo above, we chose a cheap unit that didn’t have a side-shelf on both sides…which makes the thing smaller, something I liked. It does have the side gas burner tho, just in case you wanted to heat a small pot of chili while grilling hamburgers. Frankly, I’d heat the chili in the microwave and doubt I’d ever use that burner, but whatever. Overall what we bought seems fairly sturdy, although for the macho-inclined, the $700-$1200 Weber’s were quite the showpieces. We weren’t ready to spend that much on what amounts to a flimsy-ish file-cabinet-like metal box with a propane tank attached to it, so we opted for a $270ish unit we found at Lowes. That still seems outrageously expensive for what it is, but that’s just the times we live in, eh?

So far we’ve cooked hotdogs and steaks. They were both all right, but the flavor just isn’t the same as charcoal BBQ’ing. I mean, essentially you’re cooking on a gas range/oven. Not much different than what’s in the house. Broiling a steak in the gas oven would taste about the same. However, I did notice that once there was enough heat in the gas grill to cause meat drippings to smoke, it improved the flavor. Smoke - and keeping the lid closed - is the key I guess. There is no leaping, high, open flame to char things over, so closed-lid/high heat charring is the method of gas grilling. At least if you want smoky flavor. Either that or buy those wood chips I guess. At any rate…it’s fun to try out I suppose. Whether it will actually save us money or keep us from ordering take-out remains to be seen.

And tomorrow, it’s chicken.

23 Mar

Lifes little updates, part 3,423,531

I was going to post a few more squirrel pictures and other odds and ends, but became distracted by:

1 - An extremely bad case of “Unmotivateditis” and mental “CrashandBurnism”
2 - A general lack of interest in “doing” anything besides staring at the wall.
3 - A simple but fun single-player PC game called Mount and Blade. It’s a strategy/rpg type game about medieval Kingdom relations/war/combat that is completely open-ended/non-linear. Great horse-riding combat, too.

I haven’t done much gaming in a while, but it appears that whenever I’m struck by a bad case of the first two things, I tend to retreat back into spurts of gaming. Mount and Blade is an easy game to pick up and then drop, repeatedly, with no plot or escalating “missions” to make you feel you have to finish right now. The game doesn’t even really have an ending, you could play forever. Anyway, I enjoy it.

–In other news, after looking at, then deciding not to buy, another used van similar to the one he already has, hubby decided to just have his van painted. His van has had a bad case of flaking-off paint for some years, and it had reached the point of a lot of rust on the roof. Not attractive. The van itself still seems to run ok, which is kind of amazing, really … and now it looks all shiny and new. Well, kind of. At least it’s not a rusting hulk anymore.

–The economic woes of the country are starting to be felt slightly by us, now. A pinch here, a pinch there. Nothing major like for many people, but it’s noticeable. At least gas prices have come down again. Not that we use much these days, with hubby’s work so close by now. I like to joke that if worst comes to worst, hey, at least I actually like Top Ramen a lot, and it’s still only 30-35 cents a package! Sadly, it’s a joke that’s more reality for many these days. Here’s hoping the economy won’t take another 2-3 years to recover enough to stop most job losses/stock crashes and begin to reverse, because by then even many of us with generally little woe so far could be hit pretty hard. Except, apparently, for some certain AIG honchos. Evil.

–During a couple of days where the sun was out and it felt like Spring - meaning I was in a fair mood - I did some weeding in the yard. The dirt patch near the front door had become a hive of weeds seemingly overnight. As I picked and shoveled them out, I came upon the realization that I don’t like empty dirt patches, and I don’t like tanbark ground cover. Oh sure, it’s pretty when new, but a few years later…plus, with all the leaves that fall here, when you try to rake them over the tanbark, half the tanbark comes with the leaves. It’s annoying. Not to mention, cats think it’s kitty-litter. So I decided rocks would be better. I cleaned up the area best I could, and dumped some extra tanbark leavings in another spot. We were going to get the river stones last week, but then hubby did the van-paint thing, so we put off the rocks for a moment. Which is probably good, since I’m a little undecided about whether I want just rocks or some big heavy potted plants in the middle, or that tree I’ve been talking about before. If a tree/pots, you’d need less rocks, see. Hmm. Well, we’ll see what I have the energy for, once another spurt of fair-mood activity hits me.

–Baby-kitty still seems determined to outlive his human owners. Ok, not really, since if he did, he’d be the oldest house cat EVER, but he is one determined senior kitty. Every time I think “uh oh, might be put-down time” he bounces back again and seems fine. A little wobbly and weak hipped, which means he’s beginning to have a hard time balancing while squatting in cat-litter (sigh) but … yup, he’s enjoying his time being the only cat in the house, and he means to enjoy it for as long as possible.

–I’m apparently allergic to hazelnuts. I was eating Nutella on a wheat bagel in the mornings, which is a chocolate/hazelnut spread. More chocolate than hazelnut, but they boast that there’s at least 30 or so hazelnuts per jar. Heh. I loved the stuff, and spent the last 4-5 months using it as morning snack. But then I noticed some rashy places on my face and chest that looked like tiny red pimples, but would periodically itch like mad and would not go away for anything. I finally figured I’d try cutting out the Nutella, and a month later, it’s much reduced. I don’t think it’s going away entirely, but it’s not like it was. At least it’s not the chocolate…I can still eat that with no problem. And walnuts and many other seeds/nuts don’t bother me. But peanuts began to make me itch a while back, and now hazelnuts. I think I could, like with peanuts, eat a few now and then with no issues, but eating something with those in it on a daily basis for a period of time is no good.

–The constant stream of new allergies as I get older becomes more irritating all the time, especially when I don’t know what it is causing the problem for a long while. Sometimes I can itch so bad from something I’m scratching my back on the corner of a wall like a cat. And despite all the “free” detergents they have now, I seem to still have reactions from those now and then, too. I think I’m also at least mildly allergic to all the dust the maple tree leaves on our street put out - more contact than nose, but some of both. For instance, after weeding the front yard and stirring up a lot of that dust, I didn’t shower or change clothes, and later that day I had some bad contact rashes on the torso. I’d guess from the dust getting into my shirt and through to rub on my skin. A few hours after showering, it calmed down and by morning it was gone. Sigh. I should live in a bubble.

Well, that’s enough babbling for one day.

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