Monday, August 28, 2006

Can You BELIEVE It?!

Check it out!!!





And, on top of all that, the last two cabinets have been installed!!!

It turns out that the counter boys were too chicken to cut the hole for the downdraft vent system that we bought, so Husband's going to try to do that himself. You should have heard the man trying to break the news to me that the part he wants to have before he installs the vent won't be here for another week, and he doesn't want to risk installing the stovetop before he cuts the hole....

I'm hoping to have the sink installed tonight, though. I've lived with the Wal-Mart two-burner hotplate since December; I think I can manage another week without my fancy-dancey stovetop.

More later - for now, I've gotta go clean up the "post-construction trauma" left in the wake of today's activity...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Maybe Monday

Grrrr. The counter guys did not come today. I was told they would come today, and though I tried REALLY hard not to get attached to the date, here I am, disappointed that my kitchen won't be done this weekend.

When Husband called this afternoon, the woman he spoke to said that, "from the looks of the board, I'd say maybe Monday." Somehow, this does not offer me comfort.

sigh. The Universe serves up yet another lesson in detachment.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Big News (with pictures!!)

We have a new great room floor!!

After a bit of unpleasantness on my part last week (Mamma had a meltdown; it wasn't pretty), Husband enlisted Bowyer's help and ripped up, then reinstalled the wood in the great room! It's GORGEOUS!

I spent Friday out - first having lunch with my old graduate seminar group, then driving up to the hinterlands to spend the night with WeedWoman - and I didn't know that a floor install was in the plans. Bowyer came over on Friday afternoon and the two of them ripped the old floor up, rented the necessary compressor and staple gun, and bought the paper. What's the paper for, you ask?

We don't know, but the contractor who put down the other wood floors used it, so my men did, too.

The men managed to get through about a third of the job by the time I got home on Saturday afternoon. From there, we all worked well together: Bowyer worked the stapler and the big hammer, Husband did all the exact measuring, and I was the feeder, handing wood to Bowyer so he could staple it down.

We had EXACTLY enough wood to do the entire thing. See this little pile? Nine pieces. That's all we had left over. That's what you get when you're not too picky about how every piece looks ("Bah!" Bowyer said to yucky pieces, "Bury that one in an edge!") and you've got an engineer working the chop saw.

I am SO excited that things are really moving along now. The counter guys are supposed to come back tomorrow to install the finished countertops, which means I'll have the stove and new sink installed by Sunday (hopefully!). For all intents and purposes, my kitchen will be DONE; all that's left is the installation of some handles, a couple of high cabinets to install over my desk, and toekicks.

Then we move upstairs.....

Obadiah Parker -

A friend sent me a link to a completely silly video of a cat flushing a toilet and, after many convolutions, I found this. Go here ( for their website. I like the original of this song, but I LOVE this remake.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I'm Still Here...

..I've just been hectic-busy. I'll have a post for you in the next day or so - complete with pictures! There have been big doings at the Chili household, which is part of why I've not been posting with my usual frequency (and what the pictures are about!).

Keep checking - there'll be something here soon...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

It's ALL Relative


The Universe has a way of putting things into perspective for us, if only we're aware enough to see.

This afternoon, I got caught in a traffic jam on my way home from visiting a dear friend. Odd, I thought, since it was about two in the afternoon and, well, two in the afternoon isn't prime traffic jam time, you know? Then I noticed a thick plume of very dark smoke in the not-too-distant distance. Then the police car came roaring up behind us, making those of us in the left lane pull onto the shoulder to let him pass. Then, as I got closer, I could make out the flashing lights of a fire truck, a flatbed, and a couple more police cars (though, thankfully, no ambulances).

A car had veered off the highway and into the grassy median and, it seems, caught fire. Then proceeded to catch the median on fire. The entire car was a smoking hulk - I could tell neither color, nor make or model - and a decent patch of the grass between the highways was scorched and smoking.

I'm grateful for my car problems.

***this isn't a photo of the car fire I witnessed, but it's a pretty good facsimile...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It's Only Been Ten Years...

I was rooting around in the basement this afternoon. The dumpster has to go back sometime this week, so I've been wandering around trying to offload anything that needs to go in there sooner rather than later because, well, there may not BE a later - a truck might roll up the driveway to take my dumpster away any day now.

While I was down there, gagging on the mold and pitching irredeemably damaged books (SOB!), I found many, many pretty green boxes. Contained within those boxes are five piece place settings of our china.

Most of those boxes were recieved as wedding gifts in 1996 and have never been opened. We never had the space to keep such prettiness safe and, therefore, kept the boxes intact. We're fast approaching the finish line for the kitchen, though, and we've got OODLES of cabinet space now (and even if we didn't, we're going to have a cabinet that goes with the new dining room table, so there!). I'd like to find some of the finishing pieces - the veggie bowl and the platter - but very soon, we're going to be able to use our wedding china!

I haven't brought it up quite yet; the cabinets in which I'm imagining the stuff will eventually reside aren't permanently installed yet - they'll have to be taken down when the new floor is installed. The fact that there's a chance that the plates will see daylight for the first time in ten years is exciting enough to warrant a blog entry, though, don't you think?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

If Kids Controlled the Kitchen

I have two gorgeous girls - only one of whom eats anything beyond chicken nuggets, PB&J, mac and cheese, and pizza. Oh, and M&Ms. And chocolate chips. And we wonder why, at seven years old, she can still wear size 4T clothes.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Case of the Disappearing Chocolate Chips... which the true extent of Beanie's chocolate thievery is revealed.

So, remember a few weeks back when I posted an entry about my youngest daughter's surreptitiously helping herself to a pre-breakfast snack of M&Ms? It seems that her career in early morning chocolate boosting knows few boundaries.

We are slowly settling into our new kitchen. Even though it's not complete yet - we've still no countertops or toe kicks and five cabinets have yet to be hung - I've started moving things out of the basement and into the places where they will eventually make their home. One of the areas that's mostly settled is the baking cabinet, a long, wide drawer that contains things like flour, sugar, baking powder, various mixes, dried buttermilk and, yes, chocolate chips.

You should also understand that we've moved into the new living room. The old living room, which will be converted into a sitting room of sorts, is essentially empty right now, awaiting a new floor (I'll explain it all when the celebratory "The house is FINISHED" post, complete with photographs, is issued. Don't hold your breath).

ANYWAY, the girls were in the new living room this morning, watching PBS. I happened to be sitting in the old living room, doing my morning blog check, when I notice Beanie stealthily tiptoe into the kitchen. She silently slides open the baking drawer, then just as silently slides it shut with a hand to her mouth.

I instantly burst into peals of hysterical laughter, which startles the child so badly that she starts to cry. I asked her how long she's been performing that little trick, and she all but admitted that she's been pilfering chips since we moved them there, well within her easy reach, several weeks ago. Again, she 'fessed right up and I, amazed that I'd just witnessed this whole thing and still laughing at not only her skill, but just how damned cute she looked stuffing forbidden chocolate into her face at ten past eight in the morning, assured her that she wasn't heading for the rack as punishment for her crime.

I'm probably going to have to find a new home for the chocolate chips, though.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Strangely, This Doesn't Happen in Our House...

I still have to drag my small people out of bed in the morning. We've begun "practice" for the start of school - they're going to bed early and we're rousting them when we get up. No one likes it, but we've got to get in the habit, or school mornings are going to be hell.

We don't want that, now, do we?

(click the comic to see it full size...)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

If I Weren't Actually LIVING It...

...I wouldn't believe it.

According to the lovely, calm, even-tempered Ed at the body shop, my Hockey Puck isn't totaled, but has suffered a fair bit of damage, mostly to the undercarriage (sustained while scaling the stone wall) and hatch (sustained after experiencing the Newtonian law that says a body in motion stays in motion...). Even though the car doesn't LOOK all that bad - there are a couple of good scratches on the bumpers and a dent in the hatch, though not a major one - it managed to bend an axle on its trip and the frame is likely bent, as nothing in the back end fits together quite right anymore. Ed calmly explained to me that he's 99% certain that all the damage is contained to the area behind the back edges of the rear passenger doors, though, since everything forward of that maintains its lines. He could tell that the "crash" happened at a pretty low speed (because the parking brake was UP, People!) and assured me that he'd be able to repair the damage.

But that's not what this post is about.

So, I've got this crappy rental car to use while my precious little dinged-up Puck is in for the restorative work. It's a Chevy Cobalt. It's an automatic. It's bright red. Let me tell you a short little story; my husband is the one in the family who makes the "big" buying decisions - cars and computers in particular - because he does all the research and is, well, more particular about some things than I am. When I sent him out shopping for my car, I gave him these guidelines: "four doors, five speeds, not red, not yellow." ALL the rental cars in the lot were red automatics. What's UP with that?

ANYWAY, I've had this P.O.S. for exactly three days. Yesterday, we packed up and headed to WeedWoman's mother's place on a lake in the middle of New Hampshire (no, not the big lake - this fact will be important later in the story). We managed to get there just fine, though getting onto the highway is a bit of a challenge in this car because, well, it has no balls. None. It can't get out of its own way. While this is INCREDIBLY frustrating to me - who's used to a car with guts (and gears) enough to actually get the job done - it has taught me to be more patient with people who stop at the end of onramps. It may that they’re not just morons who don't understand the point of a "yield" sign - it could be that they just don't have the chutzpah to get out into traffic. But I digress...

We get to the lake and proceed to have a WONDERFUL day. It's getting late, we're getting tired, it's time to go home. We pack up the P.O.S., say our goodbyes, scratch the puppy one more time, buckle the girls in and turn the key...

Have I mentioned that I hate this car?

It wouldn't start. Instead, it made a HORRIBLE clicking sound that I was sure was the starter motor trying to self-destruct. We thought it might be that the battery was dead, so I checked to see that I didn't leave the lights or the radio on - I didn't - and, in fact, these things all still worked, indicating that there was still juice in the system.

Rolling my eyes heavenward, I dialed Enterprise's roadside assistance. I get Teresa on the phone. I explain my situation to her and she explains to me that she's going to order a tow for the car and that I can get a replacement vehicle from Enterprise on Monday morning. It's now Saturday afternoon. I'm in what could fairly be described as the outskirts of the hinterlands of New Hampshire - I'm not at the big lake - at the end of a dirt road, an hour away from home. Did Teresa have any idea how I was going to get my family back to our house? She said she could order a cab for me, too. I couldn't contain myself anymore and I laughed out loud. A CAB?! Are you kidding me? You don't know much about New Hampshire, Teresa, do you?

I’m not entirely sure how these roadside assistance places work, but I have my suspicions, based on my rather extensive recent personal experience, that they are mostly call centers based around major cities far from New England. My guess is that operators sit at computers and enter in the information the customer gives them, and those computers spit out information on both towing companies and repair facilities based on a program that figures physical distance between where the car is and where the facilities in question are located. I imagine a map comes up with the car at the center and a radius of so many miles drawn around it from which the operator chooses aid based on location. What these people don’t realize, however, is that the closest facility to the car in as-the-crow-flies miles is not necessarily the closest facility to the car in the real world. The roadside assistance people yesterday sent a tow truck from nearly 40 minutes away and were planning on towing the thing to a town which, as the crow flies, is about 12 miles away. Driving to this place in a flatbed, however, and requiring all paved roads, would have taken the driver north about ten miles and then south another ten. When I pointed out to the roadside operator that it would be far more convenient for EVERYONE involved if they towed it closer to home since both the tow truck driver and the rental facility were in that direction, she told me that this plan wasn’t feasible because it took them “out of range.”


While all this was going on, I asked her how she proposed I was going to get me home. That’s when she came up with the idea of calling a cab for us. I explained to her that, even if she COULD find a cab in this part of the country (which she wouldn’t have been able to do as there are only three cab companies in the state that I’m aware of, and none of them convenient to where we were), I wasn’t willing to PAY for whatever unreal price they would charge to come out and get us and drive us an hour home. She hesitated at that and told me that she MIGHT be able to get a supervisor to authorize payment, but she didn’t have a tone of voice that inspired confidence in me.

All in all, I was on the phone with roadside assistance for the better part of a half an hour.

The tow truck driver has been the only positive part of this experience. He arrived reasonably quickly and was personable, good natured and funny. He literally doubled over laughing when I told him about the cab (“they have NO idea where you are, do they?!”). He wondered why they wanted him to drag the car further into the hinterlands when there’s a Chevy dealership in the town he came from. He listened to the horrid clicking the car made when we tried to start it up and suggested he TRY to jump start it (“it's already busted; what’s the worst that could happen?”). When it actually started, he insisted on following us most of the way home to make sure nothing ELSE happened, even stopping along the way so we could add gas to the tank to make it home. In all the letters I’m going to write about the service I’ve received during all of this, his is going to be the only positive one and, should I need towing services again, I’m calling his company.

This saga ended this morning when I got into the car to go to work and, yeah, it didn’t start again. I took Husband’s car to work and told him to call someone to have them drag the thing away, that I didn’t want to even LOOK at it anymore, but he decided to tinker with it enough to get it started, thinking that there’s something wrong with the alternator and the battery just isn’t charging properly. He hooked it up to one of his fancy car starters and drove it to the rental lot where I met him on my way home from work. It isn’t just the battery, though; Husband said the car BARELY made it the six miles to the rental lot - it was shaking and hesitating and coughing and sputtering and changing gears in ways it shouldn’t be. The car is a dud.

While I was waiting for him to make it to the lot, I’d called the rental company’s 800 number to let them know what was going on and to tell them to suspend my contract and NOT charge my insurance company for all of this. I spoke to the representative for about four minutes before she put me on “a brief hold” that lasted more than half an hour (my cell phone has a timer). I ended up calling the company from Husband’s cell when he arrived and explaining to the person who answered THAT call that I was still on hold on MY phone. The second rep managed to get things mostly straightened out and then went looking for the other rep. I’m not sue what happened after that - I got fed up and discontinued the call after I passed 30 minutes.

SO. Hopefully tomorrow will find me with a new rental car - one that will actually run for more than a day or two. I’m really praying that this is the last bit of drama I have in this saga; I’m starting to get really, really tired.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I picked my car up from the dealership on Tuesday afternoon after its having had its 20,000 mile check-up. Knowing what the traffic over the bay bridge would be like at 4:30 in the afternoon, I decided to take the round-about way home and, on the way, Bowyer called me. Cell reception along the round-about route is pretty sketchy, and the call was dropped. However, the round-about way brings me, literally, right past his house, so I stopped in to see what it was he wanted.

I pulled up to his basement door, just like I've done two or three times a week for the last seven years. This is important, People; for the entire time Bowyer's lived there - seven years this year - I've visited AT LEAST once a week and have always parked in the exact same spot.

Anyway, I pull in and warn the girls that we're not going to stay long, so when I say it's time to go, there should be no whining or complaining. Punkin' Pie thought it might be best if they stay in the car and read, but knowing how Bowyer and I get to talking, I told them to come in for a bit (besides, it was hot in the car).

We meandered upstairs, I popped open a diet Coke and told Bowyer about the job interview, he told me about the rampant stupidity going on at his school, and we made plans to hide from the heat that was expected the next day. After about 20 minutes or so, I gathered up the girls, we said our goodbyes and headed downstairs. When Punkin' Pie got to the basement door, she screamed.


Sorry? What do you MEAN, "where's the car?"!!

Sure enough, Folks, the car? She was GONE.

Have I mentioned that Bowyer's driveway is a hill?

The parking break was insufficient to hold my little hockey puck in place. She rolled backwards and, following the rules of physics, yielded to the slope and curve of the driveway, rolled over a stone wall and came to rest in the woods. Observe:


I cannot adequately describe the yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach upon realizing that my car was firmly lodged in the woods. Three of the four tires were off the ground, and even if they weren't, there's no way I could have driven it back over the rock wall. Besides, I wasn't sure that the gas tank was still intact, so I wasn't interested in turning the key and possibly burning down one of my best friends' neighborhood.

VW Roadside Assistance, while polite, was not terribly helpful. I explained the situation to them - that the car was situated OVER a rock wall and with three tires in the air and that it would require some sort of lifting apparatus to retrieve it - TWICE sent flatbeds - one at about 8:30 (I called them at five) and one at 10:45. Neither truck operator would touch the thing. The second guy told my husband that "nine times out of ten, the customer overestimates the situation, so the dispatchers often send a regular truck instead of the heavy equipment. That's usually enough. You guys are the 'tenth' time - you need a boom truck."

It turns out, we needed TWO trucks ("I think I will need TWO wives...")

In the grand scheme of things, life is not too bad. The car isn't totalled, and my children WEREN'T in it when it took its little joy ride, thank the Universe. Of course, VW is denying ALL culpability in the incident ("we didn't do anything to the parking brake - you must not have pulled it hard enough") and we're going to have to get our insurance company involved. I'm still really stressed out about the whole thing, and am going to not only pull the parking brake with all I'm worth, but will leave the car in gear when I go to visit Bowyer.

But, ugh.