March 28, 2012

And THAT is how I found myself creating a tutorial about indoor fountains.

You can all go over and thank my dear friend, Cora for this one....

When I blogged about the lucky bamboo being completely and totally root-bound and how I had to SMASH the pot to get it free a few days ago - she wondered why I didn't soak the dirt to soften it to make removing the plant easier and thus preventing me from breaking the pot.

VERY valid point.

It also made me realize, that in my quest to keep from over-burdening you with boring details, I left out some important points.  I didn't explain the plant and it's living environmental AT ALL very well.

Thus began an email exchange where I explained that the bamboo is a water-based plant so that there was no dirt to "soften."  She then wondered how I kept the plant upright in the pot, which led me to more explanations and I also mentioned in passing that it was also a "fountain."

She then replied, "No kidding???  How cool is that!!!  Were you able to get it all set back up in the same manner, with a new pot?"

Which led me to reply, in quick detail, how it was done.  Which led her to reply, "You need to do a post on this...or email me some pictures!  Please!!"

And THAT is how I find myself blogging about how to create a quick and easy fountain for your home.

Now, had I known that there would have been any interest at all in this little project, I would have taken pictures of the whole process last weekend.  But since I didn't and since I am NOT draining the pot and emptying it of its contents to recreate the process that I've already gone through more than once, we will just have to improvise with terrible, after pictures taken with the camera phone.

As a little background - I came across this idea somewhere on the web when I was researching feng shui some years ago.  I've always liked the idea of indoor fountains - the sound of the water on the rocks is SO soothing.  And according to feng shui principles, it is good for the "chi" in your home.  Whether that is a crock or it really works is debatable considering all that has gone on over here lately.  But I DO know that the majority of feng shui is just basic common sense design.  AND I like the sound of the water over the rocks.  So there you go.

Anyway, I found a similar thing online somewhere and adapted it....because their way was too complicated for me.

Materials needed:

A pot (with NO drainage holes)
LOTS of rocks (small pebbles/gravel and larger, decorative river rocks)
Water-based plant (such as bamboo)
Submersible fountain pump (can be found at most Home Depot/Lowe's type stores for around $20)
Depending on the size of your pot, you may need styrofoam or packing peanuts.

Another note - remember we are doing this Gigi's way (i.e., EASY).  You could get all fancy and drill a hole higher up in the back of the pot to run the electrical cord through - being sure to caulk the hell out of the hole to prevent leaking.  But WE aren't doing that.

If you have a smaller pot you can use the pebbles/gravel as your base in the pot.  If you have a larger pot, you would be wise to use the styrofoam/peanuts as it will keep the pot from being too heavy to move.

Center the plant on top of your base and start putting more (or begin to put) the pebbles/gravel in to anchor the plant.

Once you have enough pebbles in, place the submersible pump into the pot - letting the electrical cord hang over the lip of the pot (see?  We aren't all fancy about it).  Also make sure that the pump is kinda deep.  Because if you don't it will then spit water OUT of the pot in the middle of the night when you aren't looking and soak your table.

Ask me how I know this.

See how the cord hangs over the pot?

Now you will begin to place the river rocks in.  Your goal here is to cover the pebbles and the pump.  BUT you want to keep the pump's spout uncovered.  That is important.

The pump is bubbling away unfettered.  Horrible picture, I know.  But look at who are dealing with here.

Place the pot in the spot you want it and - THIS IS THE KEY - be sure the electrical cord hanging over the lip is at the BACK so no one can see it.

Add enough water to cover the pump's spout.

Plug in.

And viola` - you now have an indoor fountain.

Hopefully now that it has room to spread out the leaves will lose that awful yellow color

Just be sure to remember to "water" the plant often because if you don't evaporation will cause the pump to be exposed and pumping nothing but air.

Which will lead to the pump burning out.

Ask me how I know.

Oh, and you might also want to check on the plant every year or so.  Just so you don't end up with this....

Or this.....

Smashed pot

Now that you know how easy it can be; go make yourself an indoor fountain and let me know how it turns out.  And, extra points to you, if your husband walks around saying "We MUST have a leak somewhere!  Do you hear that?!" like mine did after I first made it.  Which I have to admit, I found kind of funny.

March 26, 2012

Go forth and spread some won't hurt.

Kindness.  It's been on my mind a lot lately.

And apparently, it's been on a few other bloggers minds too as I keep seeing references to it.  In fact Mama Kat just posted a video (one of a few - all of them are great but the one I'm referencing here is the third one) on her blog not too long ago.  And then, WildernessChic posted a beautiful post about "paying it forward" pretty soon after that.  And then, Mama Kat posted another video and beautiful words about not judging people.

Add to all that - the random acts of kindness I've seen all over the blog-o-sphere lately.  I'm lucky, I guess.  I don't see too many trolls out there on the blogs I visit.  If someone is facing an issue - whether it be sickness, depression, divorce or worse - I've seen a multitude of people reach out and try to lift that person up with good wishes, prayers or just words of comfort.

Do you know how much hope this instills in me?  LOTS.  There may be hope for humanity after all.

And then just today, I witnessed kindness in my own backyard.  Literally.

If you've been a reader here for any length of time, you may know that we aren't exactly in a "neighborhood." We are surrounded by neighbors - but technically we aren't in a neighborhood; we just reside on the fringes of two neighborhoods.  The neighbors we do have aren't exactly "neighborly."   Especially, the one.  Actually, that one could be described more as ...... be blunt, he's an ass.  In fact, before we even had the house built I pretty much knew what he was all about and figured we'd never be close....unless I was scratching his eyes out.  Which still may happen.  We'll just have to wait and see.  I will, of course, blog about it....most likely from jail.

The others, well.....they seemed nice enough - but weren't the type that you would actually get to know and have over for dinner.  They are more the "wave-at-you-when-they-see-you" kind of neighbors.  This was actually kind of a let down after our last neighborhood.  But what can you do?  Unfortunately, you generally can't pick your neighbors.

For the past two weeks or so, our lawnmower has been out of commission.  You see, Hubby tried to change the oil (or something) on it in an attempt at "yearly maintenance."  The problem with this, you see, is that Hubby only has the ability to "fix" things that are entirely made out of steel or some other unbreakable, non-delicate material.  Throw in little plastic bits and then you can forget it.  He will totally break the little plastic bits when he over-tightens or exerts any type of pressure onto the plastic bit.

Yes, think "bull in the china shop" and you will totally get the picture.

As a result of Hubby "fixing" the lawnmower we ended up with this.....

Why yes.  That IS our lawnmower - covered in a tarp - sitting in my backyard......for TWO weeks.

And have been waiting, ever since, for the replacement (plastic) part to come in.

(The tarp, in case you were wondering, is to protect this precious piece of machinery from the elements.  Let's hope it worked.)

In the meantime, my grass has been growing ever higher.  The two days of rain this past weekend has helped it along immensely, I'm sure.  It had reached epic proportions.  Which basically meant that I was convinced I would get bit by a snake or some other vermin, when I went traipsing through it to retrieve yard tools from the shed last Friday.

Yard tools, that I might add, would be better suited to being kept in the adjacent garage......I'm just sayin'.  Why yes, Hubby and I DID have a conversation about that, how did you know?!

Today, Hubby could not stand it anymore and got out the push mower with the intention of at least starting on the grass.  He gets major points for this because we do not have a small yard.  Here is just a portion of our backyard....

Add this to what you see in the other picture and that will give you an idea of the backyard.  And no, I didn't leave the porch to give you a better shot.  Because I was already in my pj's.  Don't judge!
Just as Hubby was starting to try and mow our lawn-mowing-loving neighbor (not that one; the other one.  The one that lives on his lawnmower all summer long - seriously.  I am not kidding.  We've joked that it is his way to hide from his wife) came riding over to the rescue.  And proceeded to mow our entire lawn (front, back AND sides) for us - just because he wanted to help, actually saying he'd love to do it (yeah, we know!) for us.

And that, my friends, is kindness.  And when you show someone just a smidge of kindness it goes a long, long way.

Whether it's a word of encouragement, a hug, or even just a smile.  That little bit of kindness will then go forth and multiply.  And that's what we need more of in this world - kindness.

You know what else?  Our lawn-mowing-loving neighbor, Mike (gee, it's only been what? 4 years before we finally got his name?) - he will soon receive some kindness himself.  Because guess who will be the recipient of some home-made goodness in the next few days?  Yes, that will be Mike, the lawn-mowing-loving guy, and his family.

Go forth and spread some kindness and see what kind of magic you can spark.

March 23, 2012

Well NO WONDER this house has been without luck lately!

Our "lucky" bamboo plant has been looking quite sickly lately.

Today was the day to figure out what was wrong with it.  I attempted to pull it out of the pot.  No luck.  I put both my feet on the rim of the pot and pulled - still nothing.  I tried digging around the edges - with no success.

In the end, I had to smash the pot on the driveway to retrieve it.  And this is what I found.

It was completely and totally root bound.  Yes, those are the roots.  Orange and in the exact same size and shape of the smashed pot.

That explains EVERYTHING.

Now the bamboo is happily settled into a bigger pot and it's roots are roaming free.  Let's see what happens.

March 22, 2012

Sometimes the early bird gets the parking spot....dammit.

It's only a parking spot.....or is it?

The company I work for has its own building, which means we have our own parking lot.  There is no "assigned" parking - except for the executives.  They have "reserved" parking at the very front of the building, of course.  They have chosen their spots and they all park - without exception - in the same spot every day.  

Which makes it easy for us peons to spot just which executives are in the building at any given time and might notice if we happen to be running a bit late; which gives us time to plan our evasive measures of making it to our desks unnoticed.

As I said, there is no "assigned" parking....but the rest of us pretty much follow the executives example and tend to park in the same place every day - we kind of look at it as a "perk" - sure it's not as grand as having your own "reserved" spot, but still it's something.  Plus it makes it easy to find your car when you stumble out of the building, blinking furiously in the sunshine after spending a mind-numbing day bathed in florescent light.

When I first started with the company over ten (!) years ago, I parked in a particular spot in the far end of the parking lot because it granted me easy access to my area.

Then about six or seven years ago when I moved into this department, I began parking in another area of the parking lot which was more convenient to my new area in the building.  

I can say with absolute certainty that I have been parking in the exact same spot for well over five years.  It is ingrained upon my very soul to park there.  In fact, my car has also absorbed this knowledge and will direct itself to that spot every morning as I drive into work half asleep and in desperate need of more caffeine.

Until recently, when my car self-guided itself to MY spot....only to discover another car there.

Someone has decided that "my" spot has now become "their" spot.  This is not acceptable to me.

At first I thought that it was surely a "new hire" and that they would randomly roam around the parking lot until they found a convenient spot.

Until I happened to arrive early one day and notice the person exiting their car - the very same car which was parked in MY spot and I realized that not only was it NOT a new hire but it was someone who had been here longer than me.  And hadn't changed positions recently. As far as I know, this person is still in the same area she's always been in.  What's the deal?  Why the sudden urge to park in MY spot? 

I was livid and plotting revenge

But what to do?  Something that wouldn't end up being an "issue" for HR?  Well, with that for criteria, all my dreams for revenge pretty much went up in smoke.

So, I gritted my teeth and dealt with it.  While trying to get to work earlier than her in order to claim MY spot.

And then?  Within the last month or so I witnessed something else.

Someone else - who has ALSO been with the company forever - has been vying for that exact same spot.

So now, I'm fighting TWO people for MY spot.  The spot I've had for over FIVE years.

And this new contender?  Her hours are earlier than mine.  The odds of me beating her to my spot are slim.  Unless I commit myself to getting up and out a full HOUR earlier.  

I guess I'm gonna have to find a new spot....or get out there this weekend and spray paint "RESERVED" on that spot.  Without security catching me on video.

I'm thinking y'all might want to start taking up a collection for the bail money now.....

March 18, 2012

How is it that I can be SO proud and yet so heartbroken at the same time?

The decision has been made.

If you follow me on Twitter (which is a totally pointless thing to do since I rarely tweet anything worth reading), and you have been counting you will know that Man-Child has been accepted to all the colleges he applied to last year, including the Number One school on his list.

Yes, we are very proud.  As is he.  Then it came time to make a decision.

He immediately ruled out two (and I breathed a sigh of relief.  Mainly because I didn't think the one would be a good fit for him and because the other one is more than three hours away!).

Secretly, Hubby and I were hoping for one school - even if it meant more money - because it is only an hour away - maybe less (depending on who is driving).

He continued to flip-flop between the two.  I even offered to take him back to both schools so that he could refresh his memory of both campuses.  He put me off - apparently it was too heart wrenching for him to spend the day with me sobbing and hanging on to his ankles crying "PLEASE don't leave me!" again.  Apparently, the first time around was really tough on him (if he thinks that was bad then maybe I shouldn't be the one to drop him off when the time comes?)

Last week, he claimed to have made the decision.  After all the waffling, I didn't believe him.  But today he made it perfectly clear.  He wants to go to the school other than the one we were secretly hoping he'd pick.  It's about two to two and a half hours away (depending on who is driving).

I have reminded him again about the beautiful school(s) we have right here IN town.  AND I even offered to drive him to school every day.  He wouldn't even entertain the idea.....the ingrate.

So I guess it's really happening.  Tomorrow we are sending off his acceptance and the deposit.  And by August he will be gone.

Out of the house.

Not here.

We will be alone and looking at each other and wondering what we will do now.

Little did I know that sending him off to kindergarten looking like this.....

All cute and sweet
 Would, twelve short years later, lead to this.....

All handsome and eager to jump ship

How are we supposed to adjust to a household of just two?  After seventeen years of having him here?  After seventeen years of "Mom!  Can you....?"  "Mom!  Will you....?"  "Mom! You HAVE to...!"

(oh sure, there were some "Dad!  Can you's" thrown in there - but not nearly as many, by my count).

After all these years of being US.  Being OUR little family.  We are now supposed to somehow just let him go?!

Pour me some wine and hold me.  I don't know how I'm gonna make it through this; especially now that I see it's really gonna happen.  He's really going.

And he will do great.  And he will be fine.  He will succeed and become the man that he is meant to be.  The man that we have spent seventeen years raising.  And he will make us even more proud.

But my heart?  My heart will never be the same.

Cutting those apron strings and telling him to fly is going to be the hardest thing I've ever done.

March 14, 2012

Apparently, I'm not "average".....or, the "average" woman is a lightweight.

Overheard while walking through the kitchen as Hubby is watching television in the living room....

"How many pairs of shoes does the average woman own?" (said by Steve Harvey of the Family Feud - who, by the way, is the PERFECT host for this show)

The contestant mumbles her answer....and Steve Harvey booms out "TWENTY-FOUR!  Survey SAYS? Twenty-four IS the number one answer!" (ding, ding, ding!  lights flash and alarms sound)

To which I reply to the television, "Then apparently SHE (the average woman) is a lightweight!"

At last count (which was done approximately two seconds ago), I have around eighty-nine pairs of shoes (and that's not even counting the various types of slippers (WHAT?! You need "summer" and "winter" slippers!  Hmmmm, now wondering if "slipper" socks count as shoes?  If so, the number might go up a few digits....) or the miscellaneous pairs that are lurking downstairs in the mudroom or garage that are used for just normal, every day kicking around.

Don't believe me?  Here's the proof of what is currently residing in my closet.

Sorry for the mess - but this is what I have to live with until the "shoe wall" finally gets built....but the pink stripes are place; just waiting.  See why he needs to hurry up and find a job?

This doesn't even showcase the shoes behind me that I forgot to memorialize in digital form.
My shoe budget has been SEVERELY limited due to Hubby's unemployment....much to the disappointment of my beautiful step-daughter - as she has been the recipient of many of my impulse purchases that didn't work out as planned.  Also the famous "shoe wall" that I was going to have him build has been put on hold indefinitely - which is why my shoes are so disorganized.

Excessive?  No, I don't think so.  Especially when I consider what all is MISSING from my collection..... *sigh* and the fact that I need EVERY. SINGLE. PAIR. of those shoes.

Otherwise, how ELSE would I ever get dressed in the morning?  Because EVERYONE knows you ALWAYS plan your outfit around the shoes.  Just ask Dorothy....or Cinderella....

March 12, 2012

The boys are back in town (yes, I know. Now that song is stuck in YOUR head too!)

The guys are home - now I can get a decent night's sleep.

WAY, WAY back in the day (i.e., when I was single), I never had a problem sleeping in an empty house/apartment.  But now?

After 20 plus years (really? Already?) of having someone else in the house - even if it was only an infant (only WAY back in the day) I seem to jump at every noise.  Hence, the not so good sleep of the past couple of nights.

Let's not even talk about how nerve racking taking a shower in an empty house can be! (Yes, that would be me - making sure ALL the doors are locked prior to jumping in for a VERY quick shower.....including the ones to the bedroom AND the bathroom - yes, I DO realize the absurdity of the fact that if they make it through the deadbolts downstairs they will NOT be confounded by the thumb locks on the interior doors - just let me have whatever gives me peace of mind).

But the very best part of having the guys home?  I get my car back.  (Yes, the very same car that I am convinced is a deathtrap will be the one that lands me in a serious accident.  Why?  Because apparently some genius decided that the frame of the car - at least around the windshield and side windows should be EXTRA wide.  To the point that I've almost run innocent pedestrians over many times because I couldn't see them - because they were hidden behind the EXTRA wide frame.  SORRY folks - no need to get snippy and flip me off, I couldn't SEE you hidden there).

See, the boys took my car on their little trip - to save gas.  Because Hubby drives a BEHEMOTH truck.  One that kinda looks like this.....

I didn't really mind driving the truck.  It drives great.  It has horrible gas mileage ($30 of gas gave me barely a quarter of a tank).  But the problem(s)?

The problem with Hubby's truck - other than the fact that it took me the entire weekend getting used to keeping that sucker in my lane?

First there is the fact that the driver's side window will NOT roll down more than a quarter of an inch (do you KNOW how detrimental this is when trying to order a diet Coke while in the drive through lane?) and then we throw in the added complication that the electric doohickey that let's you adjust the side mirrors has also quit working.

Then throw in the knowledge that backing this sucker up (without the added benefit of being able to utilize the side mirrors) is a pain in the you-know-what (to be honest, even WITH the side mirrors being readily available - it's STILL next to impossible to back this thing up).

Which pretty much meant that everywhere I went, I had to make sure I found a parking space that I could "pull forward."  And do you know HOW impossible those spots are to find when going to the local fast food joint to JUST get a diet Coke?

TOTALLY impossible, just for the record.

So now that they are home, tomorrow I will joyfully get back in my deathtrap car and get back on the road.

So if you are in my area and walking - be aware.  Be VERY aware.

March 11, 2012

While the boys are away, Gigi will play

The boys went to Asheville this weekend to visit my beautiful step-daughter.  I swear she must think I never want to see her since I never go - but to be honest, I treasure the quiet time when they are gone.  One day, I think she will understand.

It hasn't been ALL fun and games since they left yesterday morning.  No siree.  I've been a busy, busy girl.  The entire house is now spotless - it's heavenly.  I'm enjoying the pristine condition while I can because I know as soon as they return they will bring with them dirty laundry, noise, mess and general chaos.

But for now?  Listen......nothing but silence; except for the tap, tap, tapping of the computer keys.

There has been a little fun thrown in - I did some shopping.  Currently, I have been loving the navy and orange color combos that are hot now.  I don't know why this appeals to me since I generally never wear orange OR navy.  But there you go - apparently, now I am willing to wear them; at least together.  I guess I'm evolving.  

So I purchased a very cute orange skirt (on sale!) to go with a navy cardigan that has been hiding in my closet unworn.  Then puzzled over the shoes (of course!).  I began an obsessive search - at first thinking navy shoes would be the way to go.  And do you know what I discovered?  Two things.  One - navy shoes are extremely difficult to find and two, the ones I did find looked like old maid shoes.  Then it dawned on me that I have several pairs of neutral shoes that will definitely work.  Now I just need to wait for a warm day (hopefully this week) and for a miracle (that my legs will somehow no longer be that pasty winter white that is the color they are currently sporting).

I've also discovered Pinterest.  Well, to be truthful, I've been on it for a few weeks now, but haven't had the time to play with it.  This weekend I have.  And now?  Now, I am addicted.  Today alone, I have spent three two hours scrolling through.  And do you know what I've discovered (other than my new obsession for navy and orange)?

I am crazy.

And I have very expensive taste (despite the beer budget).

And I need to create a board entitled Things I Will Never Ever Make In A Million Years because I kept seeing things that looked great, but knowing me as well as I do, I know I will never make.  Like a white chicken enchilada recipe.  Really? Me?  We ALL know I don't cook! (but doesn't it look yummy?  I may have to print that one out and give it to Hubby).

I also saw a recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cupcakes.  They look sinfully good.  This is one that I may actually have to try, you know, in my bid to keep Man-Child closer to home when he heads off to college this fall.  I think these might actually keep him around.  Or at the very least, will make him want to come home every other weekend.

Thank you so much for all your kind comments on the last post.  I'm feeling a bit better and more in control at the moment.  Sometimes, I just get overwhelmed by it all.  It's nice to know that you are here with kind words when I need to let it out.  True friends, that is what you are. xo

March 7, 2012

It's not you; it's me (or why I haven't been around much lately)

I am sad.  I am sick.  I am angry.  I am devastated. I am frustrated.  I am low.  I am unhappy.  I am despondent.  I am disgusted.  I am bitchy.  I am furious.  I am hollow.  I am hopeless.  I am.......

I could go ON and ON with the descriptions of how I am feeling - because really, at the moment I am a roiling mass of them.  And not one of those descriptors would include the word "Pollyanna-ish."

Suffice it to say, I am NOT in a good place right now.  Which may or may not be why I haven't been posting (okay, it IS the reason I haven't been posting).

I know that life is not fair.  I KNOW this.  But that doesn't stop me from lamenting about it- because it's NOT.  This has been going on for almost TWO YEARS now; approximately one year and six months longer than I EVER thought possible.  I ask you, what have we done to deserve this particular fresh brand of hell?

I am fed up with the situation.  I am fed up with being stagnant.  I am fed up with worry and stress.  I am fed up with the effects of worry and stress that I see in the mirror every day.  I am fed up with wondering if we will have to eventually resort to cat food and whether or not Hubby can actually make it appetizing.  I am fed up with thoughts of Man-Child having to give up college before he even gets there.  I am fed up with having no forward movement at all - not even a one step forward, three back kind of movement.  I am fed up with having nothing to look forward to.

And, most importantly, I am fed up with having no hope.

Because, yes folks, that is where I'm at right now.  Completely and utterly devoid of even a flicker of hope.  And seriously, what do we have if there is no hope?  Nothing.

And what really, really has me in knots is that I can't lay the blame at Hubby's feet and say, "This is YOUR fault; fix it."  Because, despite me really, really wanting to lay the blame somewhere, it's NOT his fault and he IS trying to fix it.  He's trying his damnedest....without any luck.  And knowing that, just where do I pour out all that anger, sorrow and resentment?  Nowhere.  I swallow it.

And I stew in silence.  Crying in the car, in the bathroom at work, in the bathtub while the water is running, into my pillow as I try to drift off to sleep.  And he wonders just what in the hell is wrong with me now.

I figure by next week, he will be convinced that I've completely lost it and will call in the special "reinforcements".....i.e., the men in the white coats.

I cried yesterday when I read that another local company is laying off 685 people.  While I am upset that these people have lost their jobs; the reality is that I cry because that means that now there are 685 more people vying for those almost mythical, rarely sighted job postings that MY husband is trying to get - bitchy and mean, right?  I'm sorry.  I can't help it.  He's been out of work for almost two years; whereas they've been out of work for a day.  At this point, I am selfish and I don't care.

I realize that it might be that special week wherein each and every feeling is magnified by one thousand and ten - but even so, I feel pretty bleak....and truthfully, the feeling has been there for a while it's just that now it's been magnified by (you guessed it) one thousand and ten.

I know that tomorrow may bring a fresh perspective (or it may not - currently, I'm leaning toward the "may not" side; because that's just how it goes when you have no hope) and things will look better.

But now?  Now, it looks pretty dark from where I am sitting

I wasn't going to post this.  This was just going to be one of those "dump it all out there and delete it" occasions.  But then I read, Lisa's blog today, Spaghetti Westerner.  And realized that dammit, she's right.  I've been holding back.  From you.  From my family.  From my friends.  You know, the very same people who want to lift me up and help me through my moments of crises.  So here you go.  It's all Lisa's fault.  And while you are blaming her, take a moment to go give her a hug....she needs a few.

DEEP breath aaaaannnnnd Publish!