Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How to Vaccum a Cat

Here are the Rules:

#1. Find a cooperative cat.*

#2. Give him a bath.

#3. Dry him off.

#4. Use the vacuum cleaner drapery attachment to fluff and remove loose fur.

*NOTE: Rule #1 is the most important.

*NOTE: Rule #1 is easier to follow if the cat is deaf and senile and has totally forgotten that cats are afraid of noisy vacuum cleaners!

This is Bo. He is 18 years old. He has just had a bath but he's already forgotten he had a bath so he's not mad anymore and he just thinks he's being petted:

Is that pathetic? Or hilarious??? Mike was being careful not to suck the entire cat into the vacuum hose; I'm behind the camera, and that's also my voice you hear in the background, laughing, so you'll want to turn your sound on!

Bo enjoyed it! And so did we!

Summer Projects

The last few days have been filled with manual labor of all kinds, and the next several days will be the same. Here is what we're working on:We tore out the old rotting wood & brick deck/patio two or three years ago, but then couldn't find the motivation to do the hard work of rebuilding. Just recently we finally decided to bite the bullet and get busy on it and, since there's a heat wave coming, it's the perfect time to work outside in the glaring sun!

We want all brick this time instead of a combo of brick and wood so on Friday we hauled home two truckloads of interlocking paving brick, 660 bricks in all, including 60 edgers. Luckily, Michael was here so he helped load (at the store) and unload the bricks (here at home), and stack them by the wall of the house:Because the ground was uneven, and the bricks need a foundation to rest on, yesterday Mike brought home two truckloadsd of crushed rock to spread and tamp down:Michael was away until Monday evening (smart guy!), so Mike did the work of shoveling two loads of crushed rock out of the truck and onto the ground, then spreading it around.

We've also been hard at work here: The cat garden, where stuff has been overgrown like crazy since Spring. The entire flower bed (way in the back in the photo) has been taken over by weeds, to the point that we weren't even sure exactly what "real" plants were still in there.

And not to mention this: Our very sad looking little cat cemetery. Yes, there are cats buried here, three of them. Each time we planted a cat we planted a different color daisy. We actually have four daisies planted here, but one of the cats, Callie, isn't really here; she didn't come home from the vet. Three other cats are here, though, O.J., Tony, and Leah; they all died at home.

Since gardening is a TAD easier than shoveling rocks and dirt I did a lot of it (so I could get out of the shoveling). Here I am in my ultra-cool gardening hat. Ok, it's really a sun hat for sailing, but it works for gardening, too. At least I'm wearing one! I look like a pinhead in hats, but I have to learn to wear them. With my skin type I can't be too careful in the sun. I trimmed and weeded the cat cemetery myself, but Mike did a LOT of the work in the cat garden. Between us we weeded all the flower beds, repotted plants, hung some plants (Mike made a plant-hanger out of rope, it's awesome), re-staked the tomatoes, cleared and leveled the ground under the succulents, the climbing rose and the climbing morning glories (both on the arbor), pruned the bushes and trees, moved stepping stones to be used underneath the potted cacti, mowed the grass, and who knows what else. We were exhausted, dirty, scratched up, and pretty darn happy with the results!

Our newly cleaned and trimmed cat garden! Here's a shot from inside the garden, looking toward the arbor:
Here are my much-happier-now cacti and my cheerful-again (& deadheaded) geraniums:And one of our many tomato plants, now staked nicely so it's not half-laying on the ground, and half-propped up by plastic chairs:
I was hoping we were done with manual labor for awhile but then today, this activity began: The tamping down of the rock and sand with a machine called the "Wacker." It rattled and hummed and vibrated and but it did a great job. Mike made me do some of it, too, but I didn't last too long before my arms gave out! Here's the final result:
NOW can we be done for the day? Nope, now arrives a truckload of sand:
I helped (a little) shovel this out of the truck and spread it around on the ground. THEN we got to stop for today. Tomorrow Mike will finished evening out the sand, making sure the plot is perfectly level and then . . .

. . . we get to lay bricks!!

Soon, we will be barbecuing outside our back door, on our very own brand-new brick patio, instead of out here:
Can't wait!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dang it, I've been Tagged!

I hate this tagging business that's going on in the blogging world. It's as annoying as those emails with the little questionnaires that you fill out and then forward to all your friends. Who starts these things anyway? And Why?? I almost never do them. You'll note I said "almost." If it's short enough, and I'm in a relaxed mood, and I like the person who sent it to me, then I'll participate. But I often don't forward them, instead I just send it back to the sender.

This Tag came from my sister, Kristen, who has an entirely different opinion of them. She actually LIKES them, and she says that getting tagged means you are part of the IN crowd. I've never longed to be part of the in crowd; in fact, just the opposite. I've always been sort of contrary. If everyone is doing one thing, I always go do the opposite just to be different. Of course, that hasn't won me many friends (or influenced many people) but the friends I do have are worth having 10 times as many.

Worse are the "tags" that are going around the business blogs, and often include some sort of bogus "award" that someone has made up. I will never participate in one of those - I don't believe for one minute that doing so would benefit my business or my business blog, and the time spent jumping through whatever hoops the tag requires, and then passing it on to 3, 5, or even 10 other business bloggers could be much better spent optimizing my website, working on marketing campaigns, specials or freebies, or writing my monthly newsletter (which you can subscribe to at the bottom of my website's homepage).

At any rate, Kristen, this is for you! The "Tag" is to List 3 joys, 3 fears, 3 current obsessions/collections and 3 surprising facts, and then tag 3 more people. Here goes:

3 joys

My family. I rarely socialize except for a few close friends. My social life mainly revolves around my family. I hate to miss any family get-togethers, no matter what it is. I just love hanging with them, all of them, any of them!

My cats, Scout and Jack. They are my little sweethearts, my playmates, and my companions.

Semi-retirement: It’s awesome! No more office politics or stress, my time is my own, finally the chance to run my own little biz, and my boss lets me take extended vacations!

3 fears

SPIDERS. Just last week at my podiatrist’s office Dr. Denten Eldredge snatched a HUGE spider off my neck. He’s my Hero! I had to put my head down on the counter to keep from fainting, I was sick to my stomach for two hours, and I had nightmares that night. I still break out in a cold sweat whenever I think about it. (Edited on 08/24/08: please note, I arrived at Dr. Eldredge's office WITH the spider; I did NOT acquire the spider AT his office! I know this because I had walked in the door, gone straight to the check-in counter, and the spider was already on me. Dr. Eldredge's office is NOT afflicted with spiders!)

Clowns & Monkeys: they’re evil and sneaky, and I hate them.

Dogs. Especially large ones, running around with no owner in sight. I seek shelter, climb a tree, or just scream.

3 current obsessions/collections

Photos: I have thousands, and I spend a lot of time working with them, organizing them, enhancing them, emailing them, blogging with them, and of course, digital scrapbooking with them.

Crafts: my sewing machine is out and the projects are lined up. I bought more fabric today for a twin-size quilt. I also have knitting, crocheting, and scrapbooking projects in work and queued up.

Reality shows, especially Dog the Bounty Hunter, Jon and Kate Plus 8, and Little People, Big World. What can I say? I love peeking into other people's lives.

3 surprising facts

I got caught shoplifting when I was about 10 years old. I stole a paperback book called “Sara Smiled” from Sav-On Drug Store in Redondo Beach, CA. The store employees scared the s*@t out of me by threatening to send me to jail, then said they’d just call my mom and dad instead. I was in terror of that phone call for days, but as far as I know they never called. But you can bet I never stole anything else!

I almost never answer my “land-line” telephone here at home anymore. Nine calls out of ten are telemarketers, surveys, political messages, or a scam. So, take note, friends and family – if you want to call me use my cell phone number! Oh, and I don’t answer the door either.

I am physically unable to vomit, even when I really, really want to. The only exception was a very bad case of food poisoning.

Now I'm supposed to tag three more people but I'm going to be contrary and only tag two: Judy and Kirsten.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Baja Ha-Ha 2008

Well, here we are, the Captain and Crew of Chat de Mer! From left to right, Michael, Leo (captain), Mike, and Deb (me). We're a compatible group of sailors with a mix of talents and skills that should serve us well on the 8-week sailing trip this fall.

This is the photo that Leo will submit to the organizers of the Baja Ha-Ha, along with a write-up of our group. It will also be published in Latitude 38 in either October or November, along with those of all the other sailboats. Last year 180 boats were registered and around 165 actually made the trip.

On September 10 there will be a get-together at the Encinal Yacht Club (that is, if it is held at the same place as last year) for everyone who is planning to go on the Ha-Ha. It's a nice way to get to know the other boaters, and maybe see friends from last year. Also, captains who have not filled their crew list, as well as people interested in crewing, can connect. It's a fun evening.

We have lots of prep work to do in getting ready to go; boat maintenance, new equipment to install, menus to plan, night watch schedules to figure out, not to mention all the provisioning. Our fishing licenses arrived in today's mail from Mexico's Fish and Game organization. I have to have one, too, even though I'm not planning on doing any fishing, just because I'll be onboard. Oh, and we certainly can't forget the important stuff like making sure Mike's speargun works. He's been testing it today in the front yard, worrying the neighbors.

I think he's planning to spear a shark!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Benicia Peddler's Fair

The Peddler's Fair in Benicia was packed, as usual, but at least the weather was the coolest (aka nicest) that it's been in the dozen years we've lived here. I always enjoy going to this fair, even though I seldom buy anything! The prices are a bit steep for us; I have to absolutely LOVE something to pay the asking price.Here's an exception. I'd definitely have bought this if I could afford it ($695.00, oy!) because I did LOVE it. It's a full-size bedspread made of white cotton and hand-embroidered entirely in redwork. Beautiful!!! And it was done in 1895, so it's very old, and it's soft and delicate. Oh, would I love to have it, but not at that price. The lady in the booth kindly let me take a photo but she drew the line at letting me unfold it very much. She didn't want it handled any more than necessary. Isn't it gorgeous?
There were tons of fun items to browse, including this collection of matroyshka dolls . . .
. . . spinning wheels . . .. . . old magnifying glasses . . .. . . and colorful dishware.
There was even a booth where we got our blood sugar and blood pressure checked -- free!
We also shopped the yard sales on the side streets and, as in years past, that's where we scored. I have admired these old leaded-glass windows for years and saw some at the Fair but they were just too expensive. At a yard sale on J Street we came across a guy selling three of them. Two had panes of glass missing and I wondered how hard it would be to get them repaired. The third, pictured above, had all its glass (one pane has two cracks), and was just very dusty and dirty. I asked the guy how much he wanted for it and he said "make me an offer."

Well, I'd learned a little about the art of bargaining in China so for my first offer Iwent very low, $5.00. Imagine my surprise when the guy shrugged and accepted it! We took the window and ran with it before he could change his mind!

Once I get it cleaned up it's going to be lovely and a nice addition to Snug Harbor (our home).

Friday, August 8, 2008

08/08/2008 the Olympic Games in Beijing

This photo was taken almost exactly one year ago. Rodrigo, Michael, and I in front of the Olympic Countdown Clock in Tiananmen Square, the very heart of Beijing. If you were able to read it in this photo you'd see it says 357 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 44 seconds until the 2008 Olympic Games.

And now the day has arrived. (Or, actually, officially arrived yesterday (to us) since China is 15 hours ahead of us. ) The Olympic Stadium, aka the "Bird's Nest," in August of 2007. It was still under construction at this time but still drew huge crowds of people who climbed fences and stood on each other's shoulders to get a look at it. Today, 91,000 people have filled it in order to watch the Opening Ceremonies.

I'm really looking forward to watching the Opening Ceremonies, and as many of the events as possible. It's the one time I watch televised sports, which I normally consider a waste of time (sorry, Dad). But these are the best athletes in the world, and well worth my time.

So if you're looking for me over the next couple of weeks you'll most likely find me glued to the t.v.

Let the Games begin!!