Vacation Week

Last week was Vacation Week here in Maine. If you are picturing me lounging in the sun, fruity drink in hand, keep dreaming.  The only downtime I got was Sunday, between the hours of 12:30 and 2pm.  I didn’t see a single fruity drink the whole week, unless you count the orange juice I had to wipe off the windows when the kids missed the sink.  The one highlight? My husband also took the week off. Normally this would have rocked beyond belief.  But since we are LIVING THE DREAM of 250 year old home ownership, Vacation Week was Hell.

Highlights of Hell included:

Cleaning out the basement.  Normally I wouldn’t complain, a little tidying here & there, but our basement was so congested we had to rent a jumbo sized construction dumpster.  It arrived Friday afternoon.

Let the Vacation begin!  Our super duper olde house had some super duper olde wood in the basement.  As you can see here:

All the construction debris from upstairs had to be stowed somewhere.  Unfortunately, the recent rains which flooded our basement also waterlogged much of the discarded material.  Causing it to mold as well as rendering it ungodly heavy.  The rodent excrement peppering much of it was just a bonus.

It took us four days to haul everything outside to the dumpster.  And if the backbreaking labor wasn’t memorable enough, its aftermath was truly unforgettable.  Likely b/c of something I breathed in/touched/otherwise ingested while hauling all that crap, I spent two nights splayed across the bathroom floor, longing for death.  There is something about a severe GI upset that scars a person.  Twice in 3 days is enough to induce psychosis.

In between the wood hauling, full body chills & bathroom trips, we enjoyed nature.  And we didn’t even have to leave the house!  When you are Living the Dream like we are, you discover all sorts of things you never knew you had.  Like red squirrels!

OOOooOOOh!  Yes he (or she) IS VERY CUTE.  My older daughter was beside herself with worry and desire, both to save and KEEP the squirrel.  I am wild about animals. but frankly, I draw the line at eyedropper feeding an infant squirrel ten times a day for the next who knows how long.  After 2 days of trying unsuccessfully to reunite baby w/momma, we took him (her) to the nature refuge.

So, where was that squirrel hiding?!  Remember all that wood in the photo above?  Well, it’s reeeeaaallly hard to see, but there in the back you can faintly make out some wood paneling/shelves.  These walls/shelves were put up by the former owner, who had hoped to use the basement as a workshop – before realizing how high the water table is.  Back before we bought the house, our home inspector urged us to remove as much of this stuff as possible.  50 years of flooding hasn’t been good to this wood.  These walls/units were serving no other purpose than to 1) hold water, 2) mold, 3) conceal stuff.  Stuff like the squirrels who’d been living behind them.  As well as a lot of chewed up batting, poop, and potential structural issues – which, thankfully, we’ll now be able to see before they wreak havoc.  Here is the space with the beautiful brick archway exposed.

But the nature discovery didn’t end there.  Oh, no.  With all that work we’d been doing INSIDE, we hadn’t noticed just what a beating the outside had been taking.

When we moved in 8 months ago, we had a green lawn. Over the winter, the green naturally turned brown. As spring has sprung, much of the grass – mostly out back – has regained its verdant look. But the lawn out front?  About a month ago, these strange brown patches started appearing. Subtle at first, now downright ugly. Initially the dead grass fit the pattern of being urine burned. Along the edge the sidewalk, where dogs do their business. Or, as one neighbor suggested, it could have been salt burn from the snow plowing. Initially this made sense, until these brown patches began to grow, moving up from the sidewalk to the upper part of the front yard. My husband and I wondered whether it could still be dogs? But our neighbors are courteous, and we had such a mild winter. Surely, neither explanation could account for this, and no other yards seemed touched. The dead zones kept spreading and our concern grew.

I went out late last week to investigate. I brought along a heavy metal rake, and began first by poking, then by scraping the surface of the grass. The brown dead areas came off effortlessly, and just below the surface, to my horror, I found:

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!  WHITE GRUBS. Dozens and dozens of them. I spent some time removing the dead zones, which of course just so happen to be DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF OUR HOUSE. Facing the street. Where everyone can gaze upon them.

Ughhh.  Yes, it is UGLY.  Having had a mere postage stamp of a yard in Philly, we had no freaking clue.  How could we have possible hedged against a nemesis we didn’t even know existed?!  And so, we got to work.  Once again.  We spent time researching online, investigating natural and chemical pesticides, trying to determine the best course of action.  I wish I could tell you we did it the happy holding hands way, but this time – it was us or the grubs.  We decided to take the dirty route and poison them using Grub-Ex.  I did not want to do it, but dammit, we have invested everything we have & more in this house and I will not let some white grotty grubs take my beautiful lawn away.  OH NO.  Our next door neighbor lent us her spreader and we put that Grub-Ex down on every inch.  2 days of work and the lawn’s still ugly as sin.  But hopefully it’s on its way to health.  Time will tell.

The icing on the cake came at the least expected time.  I went to relieve myself and was greeted with this.

No droppings in the (lived in portion of) the house, no sign of them at all – then BAM! a dead one in the TOILET?!  When the mice are jumping ship, is that a sign?  Sigh..

A washer, a dryer, & a couple of cats.

Good morning all.  Today I need to get some things off my chest.  I know that life seems pretty peaches & cream here at the West Philly palatial estate, but let me tell you.  LIFE IS HARD.  At least when you like to complain.

Back in August we adopted two kittens. These kittens, Ziggy and Pepper, have now entered advanced *FRISKY* stage. So they spend most of each day shredding our leather furniture, hanging from the woodwork, killing countless potted plants and STALKING.  Just look at these photos.

Until recently, these reenactments of WILD KINGDOM had been tame.  But the altercations between Kiwi and the kittens have grown in intensity.  Yesterday I found my ox-pecking appendage of a bird cornered beneath a table on the back porch, the kittens primed for the kill.  Kiwi is so damn feisty and DUMB she actually FLEW DOWN TO THE FLOOR to have it out w/ them.  The bird is ornery.  She is jealous.  She REEAALLLLLLLLLY wants to kick their ass.  But if she doesn’t wise up soon, she’s gonna be 2 bites of meat for one of these cats.

We have tried a dozen different tactics.  Locking Kiwi in her cage – which she HATES.  Locking her in a room.  Which she HATES.  Locking the kittens in a room.  WHICH THEY HATE.  Letting them all range free – which they ALL LOVE but will lead to one or more deaths and/or maimings.  I have to face facts.  If we keep these cats, I will lose my bird.  and it will be ugly.

SO. Several months ago I posted about our dishwasher dying. WELL. Seems all our appliances have a 7-year life cycle, b/c wouldn’t you know? As of 3 weeks ago, our dryer’s done gone dead.  It was working fine – then BLAMMO.  Nada.  The thing just won’t turn on.  John has concluded the motor’s burned out.  And now, 3 wks later, the washer has joined it in solidarity. We’ve all heard of couples, when one partner dies, the other loses all will to live.  Apparently my washer-dryer were a match made in heaven.  No matter how hard I beg/plead/sweet talk to this machine, I trudge down to the basement umpteen times a day to find a tub full of water and half-washed clothes.  I fill the machine, run the sucker, and once it’s “done,” I check it.  Inevitably, the washer has somehow mysteriously completed the cycle w/out emptying.  HOW DOES IT DO THIS??  Go through spin w/out any spinning.  Or draining.  Or ANYTHING.

I know I am a throw-back to the 50s housewives of yore, But I love doing laundry.  LOVE IT. It is the ONE HOUSEHOLD CHORE (besides cooking) I enjoy.  I love the smell of fresh laundry.  The feel of it.  The sense of satisfaction only 5 baskets of neatly-folded clothing can bring.  And I love my laundry room.  Even though it’s down in the filthy basement where most people hate to go, it’s my home away from home – in my home.  I’ve hung the peeling walls w/ pictures drawn by my children.  Scenes of the African plain, animals, signs reading “I LovE you MoMMy, YOUR the BEST!”  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Rather than resent my family while I labor at their behest, I think fondly of them all.  My laundry room.  My happy place.  UNTIL NOW.  Now that both machines have broken.  BREAKING MY REVERIE.  Leaving me neither high, nor dry.

How one simple thank you can make a whole world of difference.

Hellloooo there! Hey!! How’s it been? I am so glad you stopped by. You’re looking good! So, did I just hear you click through from The Daily Dish?? Oh, you did? Why that’s terrific. Wow. THANKS! I welcome you all (*big hugs*) and find it incredibly rewarding to know that there are people out there who find even me (a stay-at-home-mom with a dry sense of humor, bizarre obsession with food and weird disease) interesting enough to merit a minute away from whatever else it is you do.

But I gotta tell you people that – lately, I am just not feeling the love. Yes, I KNOW you’re all reading my site, and downloading the recipes, and spending hours pouring through my photos. But frankly, it’s just not enough. Bet you didn’t guess I have a bone to pick today. Maybe a little axe to grind? Oh, you didn’t? Well, let me explain. You may think I’m great, and I may think I’m great, and my family most certainly does, and maybe that guy who saw my daughter pull my pants down at the supermarket (true story), but I AIN’T NO MIND READER! I have been hurting, people, and no one’s been bandaging my booboos! WAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Over the past days I have become increasingly cynical – well, I’ve always been at least semi-cynical, so that’s not quite what I’m getting at, but over the past days I have noticed myself wrestling with an increased level of stress and sense of dissatisfaction with what can best be described as (if I did work outside the house) my day job. You see, apart from being a fulltime mother and jet-setting entrepreneur, I have also been writing a low sodium cookbook for the masses, which a year ago I converted to electronic format and put online gratis for all the world to see and use. Now you must trust me when I say this has been neither easy, nor fun. Well, it has been sort of fun, but in that heavy work way where you know you shouldn’t be getting paid for having so much fun, but in my case I am REALLY NOT GETTING PAID. Anyway,

I am not nor have I ever been a “computer person.” I received my very first computer of my whole life this year for my birthday – and I am 35 (UNBELIEVABLE SEXY, not haggard and exhausted) years old!!! I didn’t even have my own computer through graduate school – we were still chipping at rocks, scribbling on slate boards and using those ancient overhead projectors and microfiche – not to mention SLIDE RULES for God’s sake. But happily over the past year I have taught myself some toddler-level code and my computer skillz have slowly been improving, but it’s been a grueling uphill battle. And apart from all of the computer blahblahblah, creating all of these recipes, purchasing the food and necessary supplies, cooking them, cleaning up after them, photographing, typing everything up, proofing it, and THEN converting all of it to HTML and publishing them on a website that – although humble and modest in appearance – I built from the ground up all by myself – and all FOR FREE, is DAMN EXHAUSTING. Try doing all of this while simultaneously entertaining, educating, and generally putting up with 2 rambunctious, over-the-top female types and YOU’VE GOT YERSELF ONE FRICKIN HARD JOB!

And yet, I have taken it upon myself to do this, not only for my own fluctuating sanity, but for the betterment of mankind. And all I’m asking for in return is a little thanks. A little acclaim. Yes, I know it’s hardly rewarding when you have to beg – but I’m sore people. I feel used – like that snotty tissue no one wants to pick up cause it ain’t theirs, and so I keep getting tread into the filthy restroom floor till the bathroom cleaner has to come and scoop me up – but you know she’s wearing plastic gloves and feels totally repulsed too!

What I am trying to get at here, people, is that if you love me – tell me so. If you love me, let me know. If you love me, say you’ll stay. If you love me, don’t toss me away! I am feeling NEEDY. I am feeling underappreciated. I can’t do this forever. for no pay and no nuthin. I can get a job you know! I HAVE DEGREES PEOPLE!!!! I know how to count on my fingers – and I’m not afraid to use them. I may be raising one soon.