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Damn it

I should know better than to get happy about anything going on at work. I logged in today and literally half our department had been laid off. All the upper management, all but one of the lower management, and probably around a third of the peons on my level. There was no warning, no one knows anything, and those of us left have no idea who we're going to be reporting to or what's expected of us now. This sucks wet farts out of dead pigeons.

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We were just informed that our defined benefits pension plan is being frozen in June as part of ongoing cost-cutting. (We still get whatever we've accrued as of the cutoff date, but nothing else is going to go into it.) To compensate they'll be increasing the employer matching funds on our 403b. As far as I can tell this isn't going to affect me much, since I'm already putting enough in the 403b plan to collect the increased matching funds.

On the bright side, I just got possibly the best yearly review I've ever gotten. Raises are bound to be small this year, but I'm pretty much guaranteed the largest small raise. Modified rapture.

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Or I'm sure I will be tomorrow. We got up bright and early this morning and picked up some paving stones for the porch project, which meant carting half a pallet of them into the back yard. Then I spent the next couple of hours pruning the fig tree, digging up Mystery Tree and lantana seedlings, and whacking down the decrepit old section of spit rail fence in the front yard with an axe, and then digging up the posts. Then we took Bo for a walk. I feel I've gotten my exercise for the day.

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The house closed this morning, all the utilities were shut off this afternoon and the homeowner's insurance canceled, and all I have to do is wait for them to let me know the check is ready to pick up. It's finally gone. Hallelujah. Now all I have to do is fight my way through the jungle of Mom's new medical insurance, make an appointment with her lawyer to update her power of attorney, make an appointment with her dentist...well, at least I won't be bored.

I need to update my driver's license, too. One of the things I had to do re: house was go to the bank with my power of attorney to get the documents saying that the home equity line of credit Mom paid off ages ago was closed. When I gave them my ID, they looked at it and looked at me and asked if I had any other picture ID, and when I said I didn't, they looked back and forth for awhile longer and grudgingly allowed that maybe I was me. The picture's only about ten years old, but my hair is different and my glasses are different and my face is thinner. So I guess a trip to the DMV is in my future as well. :P

I was so busy with house stuff yesterday and today that I totally spaced my Herald posting night. :( I never do that. Bad Barb, no biscuit.

The other day something brought up the subject of one of my old unfinished Tower Mountain EQ stories, and I ended up pulling it up the last draft and looking through it. Looks like my Tower stuff has reached the "Oh dear God, this is awful! I have to revise this NOW!!" stage. (At least it hasn't reached the "Oh dear God, this is awful! I have to nuke the hard drive so no one ever sees it again!" stage.) And then I was a little sad, because the amount of effort it would take to fix it wouldn't be worth it at this late date – not so much the editing, but the getting of character approvals, and the fact that only six people would want to read it, if that. It was like pulling teeth to get the owner of several of the main characters to respond to my questions even back when we were both in the club, and nowadays it would be impossible.

It was also an interesting exercise in that I am now far enough away from the story that I can see that a character I was trying very hard to make sympathetic is coming off as an annoying author's pet. It's so easy to see that when other people do it, and so difficult to see when you're doing it yourself. I hope I've gotten better at it over the years, but I suspect that hope is a vain one.

Costco has started selling a cedar pergola which looks like it would be perfect as a base for what I want to do with the back porch rebuild. All the pieces are pre-cut and pre-drilled, and the description says you can install the roof panels without having to crawl around on top of it (which I was not looking forward to, as heights bother me). It would be simple to attach the extra two by fours needed to mount the Artistic Rusty Crap I've already got, and it would also be simple to build the faux-stone thingies I've already got up around the major support posts. We'll have to wait for March, when it will be available on their website, since Costco doesn't deliver from their brick and mortar stores, and we couldn't even lift the boxes this thing comes in, much less haul them home.

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Kathy's been in Florida visiting her mother for the last week, and I had made a resolution not to buy any groceries while she was gone, and try to use up stuff we had instead. This has led to some meal choices I might not otherwise have come up with. This morning for breakfast I made a sort of flatbread thing:

1 small piece naan
1 quarter cooked sweet potato
half a dozen slices pepper-crusted hard salami
about a cup of shredded broccoli/cabbage/kale mix
Feta cheese crumbles

Mash up the sweet potato and spread it on the naan. Arrange the salami on the naan, and sprinkle the kale slaw and feta cheese on top of that. Bake in 425 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes or until feta melts. It may sound a little odd, but it's really good.

I did break down and pick up a few items at the store afterwards, though. At my last checkup, my doctor said my blood pressure was low, so she took the diuretic out of the blood pressure meds I've been taking, and told me to buy a monitor and track my blood pressure for two weeks. That was a couple of weeks ago, and I finally got around to buying the monitor today. If I'm doing it right, my blood pressure is still low. I feel fine, though, so I'm just going to track it, turn in my numbers, and let her decide what to do about it. It's possible that since I've lost some weight, I don't need the meds any longer.

Did dishes, did laundry, decided to spend the afternoon doing yard work, as the two months off that Phoenix weather gives you from the endless round of mowing and weeding are just about up. The wild mustard and pigweed are in bloom everywhere you don't want them. The weather was absolutely perfect today, and I pruned the roses, did a little pruning on the citrus trees (very little; they really need the attention of a professional), raked the dead limbs out of the cactus, and pulled up approximately seven billion lantana seedlings, along with some volunteer queen palms and Those Things That I Don't Know What They Are, But They'll Turn Into Trees If You Let Them Go. I didn't get all of them by any means, but I can tackle some more tomorrow. Now my hands are all over lantana prickers.

While I was out there working, an elderly woman walked by with a small dog and asked if she could have some of the grapefruit. I said yes – we have far too many for us to eat, so we try to fob them off on anyone who'll take them. I ended up giving her grapefruit, oranges, bags to put them in, and a ride home because she couldn't manage the dog and both bags at once. She kept telling me how grateful she was and how generous I was and at one point said, "You're a Christian," in that colloquial way that means "You're a good person," immediately followed up by "You are a Christian, aren't you?" Not particularly wanting the discussion which would likely follow upon my saying, "Why no, I'm an atheist of long standing!" I answered that I'd been raised that way. Which seemed to satisfy her, thankfully. Awkward.

Later in the afternoon, a woman with two small girls walked by, and one of the girls said, "Oooh, oranges!" so I asked her if she wanted one. Her mother said yes, so I gave them one each, and they were very pleased and did not inquire as to my religious leanings or lack thereof. So it's not an inevitable consequence of handing out fruit to random strangers, at least.

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The house saga continues

So! Due to the supposed tearing down of the nearby apartments, first buyer wanted to back out unless we dropped the price a lot more, far more than I can afford to let it go for. (I have a minimum that I want to get after closing fees and whatnot.) So we broke things off with them. Our realtor said we'd have to disclose the apartment thing to any other buyers, but he did some investigating -- talked to some of the people at his office who deal with the investor side of the business, one of whom knew the owner of the apartments...

...who says no, she just put new windows and a new roof on the building and she has no plans to sell it or tear it down.


Now, our realtor says there is a chance that she's in negotiations to sell it and is contractually prevented from talking about it, but that's kind of an outside chance. He didn't say so in so many words, but it's easy to draw the conclusion that Buyer #1 was, perhaps, exaggerating a tad in the hopes we wouldn't check the claim. Regardless, we've done our due diligence and to the best of our knowledge the apartments will stand till the end of time and we don't have to mention anything.

Second buyer did come up on their offer, not as high as First Buyer's original offer, but sufficient, and then they said they'd waive the inspection if we knocked a couple thousand off that. So I told our realtor to go ahead with that if we could get the waiver in writing. It's less than I'd hoped for in an ideal world, but considering the condition and less than ideal location of the house, it's probably about as good as we'll get. As our realtor pointed out, if they go through with the inspection they'd probably want to take off more than a couple thousand. And I'll still meet my net profit goal with a little over. If this goes through we should close within two weeks, hallelujah.

Mom was saying the other day that well, if all the sales plans fell through, she could just move back into the house. HELL TO THE NO YOU CAN'T.

When I bought the Cat Frustrator the other week, I dithered over it a bit, because it was more expensive than other room dividers I'd been looking at for the same purpose. I finally decided in its favor because it was sturdier and nicer-looking. So far it has proven to be worth every penny. It hasn't totally eliminated the hostilities between Churro and Ma-san, but it's cut them by around 80%. Since I put it up, Ma-San has a little corner of the room mostly to herself, and she seems much less stressed out. She comes out and sits on the cat condo and looks through the grate of the Frustrator, and has even taken to curling up on the Evil Sheepskin in my chair rather than spending all her time hiding under the printer. She lets me pet her more, and was even purring at me the other day. Today she and Churro actually co-existed for awhile, her in the chair, him on the couch. If he makes a move towards he it's back to running and hissing, but it's more progress in the last two weeks than they've made in the entire last year.

Photographic evidence:Collapse )

And just because I'm curious, a small poll: If I am the Slayer and I discover that the personality of an evil, insane vampire is hijacking my super-strong body every time I go to sleep, while I am stuck in her weak, feeble vampire body, what should my reaction be?

A) Immediately tell my Watcher, so we can figure out how to stop it. Then invest in a lot of No-Doz.
B) Confine or restrain myself somehow before going to sleep, so that said vampire cannot possibly wander off in my super-strong body and, say, gleefully rip my mother's eyeballs out in a spirit of child-like inquiry.
C) Tell no one, do nothing, and write my body thief a friendly note directing her to by all means use my body to go kill things with, just, you know, only bad evil things, and trust that despite being, to the best of my knowledge, both evil and insane, she will follow my instructions to the letter.

I'm just wondering if I'm really the only person for whom C would not be my first choice....

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Buying a house is exciting

Selling a house is a huge pain in the ass.

Turns out that the apartment complex next to Mom's house will be torn down soon, to be replaced by a new building of some kind, which will take over a year. That made the buyer skittish, but after some wrangling, they're still in for the same price but an even longer escrow period. Urgh. We do have two other lower-but-not-insultingly-so offers that our realtor is responding to just in case we need backup, but I don't know if we can get them up as high as the first guy. And they want inspections, which would almost certainly drop the price further. I've been going back and forth with our realtor all day and signing counter-offers, trying to get them to up their offer and lower their standards. :P

Gotta say, though, that electronic signing beats the hell out of pawing through a twelve inch stack of paper.

Bo thinks he is completely cured, and is deeply disappointed by my failure to let him charge madly around the park. I just took him around the block yesterday, and today I think I will walk him down to Mom's apartment, which is a little less than half the distance we usually go, but should be enough to keep him from driving me completely nuts. Besides, most of the old ladies who hang out in the lobby love it when I bring him in. I don't know how many people down there get visitors. I know that two of the women at Mom's table have relatives who show up occasionally, but I don't see non-residents there too often.

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By popular request

A couple of people asked what the spool bed set looked like. It's all disassembled in these pictures, and it needs cleaning and restoring very badly, but you can get some idea of what a pretty set it was when it was new:


headboard.jpg footboard.jpg
Bed detail.jpg bed detail 2.jpg


Jennette T Clark Dresser.jpg
spool dresser detail.jpg spoll mirror.jpg spool mirror detail.jpg

Wash Stand
spool washstand.jpg
spool wash stand top 2.jpg spoll wash stand top.jpg
spool wash stand door.jpg spool wash stand door 2.jpg


spool table 2.jpg

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Bo update

After a round of poking and prodding, which Bo endured with somewhat less than Spartan stoicism, the vet concurs with the sprained toe theory. Bo can put weight on the foot if he has to, he just doesn't like it. The vet gave Bo a shot and some pain pills to give him for the next few days, and advised me to curtail any strenuous physical activity. So for the next few days, I will be driven insane by a dog who sees no reason why we should not go on his customary long walk HE CAN TOTALLY DO IT ON THREE LEGS LET'S GO DAMMIT.

We have two offers on the house, one way low, and the other right about where we were expecting, but they want a two-month escrow because the buyer's currently out of the country. Which is not a problem in and of itself, but I'm a little nervous thinking about what could go wrong in two months.

Waiting for the museum people to call so I can meet them over at the house to pick up the spool bed set. Mom wrote up a little history of it to give to them, but I think she's misremembering her dates. She says it was bought in 1868 as a wedding present for my great-great-grandmother, who married at 17. But my great-great-grandmother was born in 1821, so either the set was actually given to her in 1838, or, if 1868 is correct, then it must have been given to her daughter instead, who was born in 1851. I don't know enough about New England furniture history to tell which is right. Since as of 1933, when my grandmother acquired it, it seems to have belonged to one of her sons (my great-great-uncle) rather than her daughter (my great-grandmother) the 1838 date could be correct... but her daughter died some time in the 19-teens, so I suppose it could have gone from great-great-grandma Jennette to great-grandma Leora Gertrude to great-great-uncle Charles to Grandma to Mom. Regardless, damn, it's old.

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Damn it

It never fails -- Kathy leaves to visit her mother for a week, and something bad happens to one of the animals while I'm the only one here to deal with it. I leave the house, Bo is fine. I come back half an hour later and he's limping around unable to put any weight at all on his right front foot. And of course it's seven o fucking clock at night on a Friday and our vet is closed.

I can't see any obvious injuries, and he seems to be fine otherwise. He whimpers when I try to examine the pads of his foot, though, and won't let me touch them. I'm afraid that he's stepped on a tiny piece of glass or something. And he keeps hopping around like a three-legged maniac, giving me accusing "Why don't you fix this?" looks.

Damn, damn, damn. Luckily our vet does have Saturday hours so I can bring him in first thing tomorrow. If I can get him into the car.

And I'd just today paid off the last round of vet bills. Sigh.

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February 2016



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