August 2004 Archives

Ciao, Baby!

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Off to eat lobster and lie on the beach being eaten to death by mosquitos for several days. More after Labor Day.

Kind, Sweet People


At 6:15am, we got a belligerent phone call from an asshole who insisted that somebody had called him at 10:40pm from this number. He refused to believe me when I told him he was wrong. I repeated what I'd said many times as he yelled at me over and over, insisting that i was wrong and somebody had called him and (I guess) woken him up at 10:40 last night. Finally, I said, in my "you're an idiot" voice, "Nobody here called you. You are mistaken. You are harassing somebody who did nothing to you. I hope that fits into whatever ethical system you subscribe to" and hung up on him.

It absolutely amazes me that somebody would be so mean and abusive when they're informed that they're mistaken. There are a hundred reasons why this number could mistakenly appear on caller ID, not the least of which is that there was a problem on the phone company's part in transmitting caller ID data. I mean, god forbid we should consider that the phone company might not be entirely infallible.

And then, having reacxhed a human who assures you that you are mistaken and nobody from this number called you, why on earth would you insist that they are wrong, that somebody called you from this number, and demand to know who it was? Is it more likely that the other person will give in and admit that yes, they called you, and they apologize sincerely for disturbing you by making a phone call that was unanswered? Maybe I should have said, "You know, you caught me. I actually called you last night to tell you you're a fucking dickweed, and you should get over yourself. But you didn't answer the phone. Thanks for calling back so I could tell you in person."

Let's not even start with wondering why you would want to wake somebody up early for the crime of calling you at 10:40pm, which is not so far outside of decent calling hours to provoke such anger.

I have indecent thoughts of using *69 to call the guy all day long, but then again, I have so many better things to do with my life than get revenge on somebody who woke me up early. I'm not sure what those things are, but give me a moment; I'm working on only a couple hours of sleep here.

So now I'm wide awake on less than two hours of sleep, though now that the adrenaline is leaving my system I'm starting to yawn again.


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Ana's been in a weird mood lately. First I caught her sleeping in the dog's crate, of all places (but she left before I could photograph her in the act), then I came downstairs this evening and found her licking John's weight set. I guess they were a bit salty or something:

Ana the perv

John's been turning the house upside down packing for his trip to Argentina. Four weeks of skiing and snow hiking (remember, it's winter there), blissfully far away from the chaos of the bedroom remodel. I have to admit that I'm looking forward to two weeks of enforced rest time on our road trip. Not that a straight-through drive from San Francisco to Maine is particularly restful, but comparatively speaking, of course.

No Drama Here

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I've been reading a bunch of other blogs lately where there's a lot of drama. People struggling with personal issues, trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, having trouble in relationships, having trouble making the rent.

I feel very detached from that.

Apart from being physically tired from doing heavy labour on the house every day, I have a remarkably stress-free life right now. School is work, but it's not as if I have to be in school every day. And it's not the same sort of work as trying to make a relationship work.

And heck, my relationship is not all that hard, either. We have our moments, but 99 percent of the time everything is perfect, so that 1 percent of the time when we're arguing about how drywall should be sanded (this is the sort of argument you have when you're renovating a house) doesn't rip everything else apart. I've been involved with people who preferred that that ratio be closer to 50 percent drama moments, and I have to say that I don't care for that.

So there's no drama here, except the occasional collapsing wall or disappearing cat. Sorry for being so terribly boring, but I admit that I prefer it this way.

Very Tidy


We had our small claims court date today, and the crazy former landlady didn't even show up. We got a default judgement for $800 more than I would have been willing to settle for out of court, and once we get the judgement paperwork we can collect. In theory she could contest the judgement, but she'd have to show good cause for not being present.

Afterwards I dropped my car off at Albany Tire to get four new tires and an alignment, in preparation for the great drive. I took the wonderful new 72R bus, which cu tthe travel time from Albany to Alameda by three quarters, and no I am not kidding. It was magestic.

Now I'm going to piddle around in the Front Bedroom some until the tire shop calls to say my car is done.

Legal Paperwork


I just spent a couple hours putting together paperwork and our case for our small claims case against our former landlady. Our court date is tomorrow, so this is sort of the result of procrastinating, but really, there's not much to do.

Now I have a huge pile of photocopied letters and the lease and all that, showing that we tried to get her to pay us and she refused, we gave her a lot of time to come up with money, and she still refused to pay us. She's made no attempt to pay before the court date, though of course she could show up on the day-of and offer to settle, and I'd take that. I just want my damned money at this point.

While I was out I went to the grovery store to get a few supplies for this week. We're trying to eat everything in the fridge before we leave Friday, so I didn't want to do a huge expedition, but we were out of milk and some other minor things. Noel left me this inexplicable supply list on the kitchen counter:

  • cardamom
  • honey
  • listerine

Um, whatever, dear.

Just What I Need


I impulse-bought another camera today. A Polaroid SuperShooter, which is an old-style peel-film Polaroid. Nice, colour-imbalanced photos with a sort of creepy softness to them. I figure it will be a fun way to do some small pieces with instant feedback.

I doubt I'll get to use it much before I go off to Calpoly; one of the limiting factors is my getting my butt in gear to go into San Francisco and buy obscure films at my favourite obscure film store. But I can have some fun with it there. The architecture department has their own photo lab, which I'm looking forward to using. I'm hoping they have some view cameras for loan to students; if not, I might have to take a view camera photography class.

It Was Bound to Happen


After days of eating drywall mud and sniffing paint, the dog has gone all weird on us.

First she greeted John by alternately jumping up and down (straight up and down: more a boing than a leap) in front of him and chasing her tail. It was all boing boing boing circle circle bite.

Then she insisted on following me up and down the stairs three times as I tried to hang a picture.

Now she's crashed out under Noel's desk, snoring.

Maybe she's pining for Simon.

Les Grandes Vacances


For most of the year, we've had these semi-nebulous plans to drive across the country with the dog and spend several days on an island in Maine with our dear friends Christo and George. So we've spent some time nailing down the exact dates (including a visit with my parents) and are planning the drive now, and as I mention it to more people, it becomes clear that either my friends have an iffy sense of geography, or they expect us to be taking an insane route.

We plan to drive on Interstate 80 from Oakland to New York City, where we will stuff ourselves stupid with fresh bagels. This takes us through, in order, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Then we're going to head North on Interstate 95 up to Maine.

So either some of my friends think we're planning to make the drive the centerpiece of the trip with lots of side excursions of more than a day (we're not), or they have a really whacky sense of where certain states are. I can see thinking Colorado might be on the way, but Oregon? I do not think so.

The real deal is that we want to get across the country as fast as possible. Both Noel and I have driven across the country before, and travelling in the middle states quite a bit, so we don't feel any need to make it an experience. We're primarily driving because taking the dog on an airplane in the summer is a bad introduction to air travel for her, and we wanted to bring her to Maine with us. It also enables us to visit more places for a lower cost than flying would, including a visit to my parents and drop-ins Boston and New York City. Also, we can pack all kinds of crap into the car that would be a pain to carry on a plane, like an accordion, my mandolin, and a bunch of crap I have stowed in my parents' attic and have promised to remove on this trip (or throw away).

So if you know us and want to hang out, the metro New York area and Boston are two of our stopping points, and pretty much nowhere else. Just FYI.

What Do Normal People Do?


In theory, I am on my summer vacation. This time is supposed to help me recharge, revitalize myself for a very demanding school year of nonstop work.

So how have I been spending my time? When I'm not doing construction work on the house, I'm do web coding for myself and other people.

I decided to redesign the Casa Decrepit web page a month or so ago, because I wanted less crap on the main page. All fine and good, except that I didn't spend enough time on the planning, started out without a good idea of where I wanted to go, then got wrapped up in other stuff for a month or so. So it's been waiting for me to get to it for a while.

As I tottered around on the ladder this evening, dripping mud into my hair as I put the second coat on, I wondered what people who don't have a giant house full of major renovation projects do in the evening. Imagine being able to sit down and read a book all evening, if you wanted! Or having a conversation with your husband that did not include rough sketches of construction plans! How would you function?

Apparently, thinking such things tempts the gods or something, because I ran out of drywall mud again this eveing only ten minutes later. I swear those walls suck the stuff up; I've just polished off the third gallon, and I could easily use as much again on the rest of the room.

I figured I'd sit down and work on the site a bit, since I don't have anything worth taking pictures of. I did some planning and plotting, got the home page functional, and destroyed the archives as the first step to making them more pure, or something like that. I still have to fix two templates, but we're almost there, really.

Running out of mud also gave me time to practise the mandolin, which is coming along nicely. I'm developing callouses quickly, which helps a lot; I can practise for ten minutes instead of three or four. I'm having trouble getting the hang of strumming just the two strings I need to, but practise also seems to help, there. Still can't tune that sucker, though. I had this brilliant idea that I would de-tune it and tune it to practise, and the result is amusing, at least, if not very pleasant to listen to. I can get the higher strings to sound OK, but the G sounds godawful no matter what I do to it. I suppose I could track down Noel's electronic tuner, but that seems like cheating.

Now I'm tired and sleepy, and I'm going to have a nice hot shower and go read a book in bed. Quite a change from staying up until 1am flinging mud around.

One Great Ache


My entire body hurts. I'm going to take a hot shower, then slip into my new pajamas and go to bed. Tomorrow's an early morning.

Weird Night


It was a weird, magical night.

First, John came in from tinkering with his bike in the yard and said he'd heard gun shots, punctuated by the sound of a mechanism putting another round in the chamber. I hadn't heard it in the back parlour, but he said it sounded like it was just up the road behind the house.

Then Rosie was very anxious to go for a walk, so when I finished my taping for the evening, I took her out. She was worked up, spent a lot of time sniffing and refusing to walk.

She found a dollar bill in the road. I'm saving it for her college education.

We saw two night herons in Littlejohn Park. One flew away right away, the other watched us until Rosie barked at it.

When we were almost at the house, we came across three teenaged boys riffling through a duffle bag. They crept off as we walked up, so I stood by the bag for a while until they walked off down the street, saying, "Some people are bitches." I brought the duffle bag home and called the police to come get it. It turned out to be full of notebooks full of music (the policeman went through it when he got there, not me).

A strange, weird night.

Roll Me Into the Next Room, Please


I just ate more strawberry shortcake than any reasonable human being should eat.

This morning, the new roomie John and I went to the Alameda farmer's market, and I made a series of injudicious purchases, starting with a large melon (fortunately, John likes melon, and he eats a lot, too).

I also bought an overflowing pint of strawberries, and six large pieces of shortcake (I only wanted two, but they came in packets of six). Which meant that on the way home I had to stop and get some cream, and dinner tonight was strawberry shortcake. This was a tradition when I was a kid, and I was recently re-reading a letter from my mom mentioning it, so I felt justified.

On the other hand, there's no justification for piling the plate as high as it could go with berries. Or for my wolfing the whole thing down, although it did taste pretty damned nice. The bought shortcake was not as good as my mom's, but it was creamy and tasty (I could have done without the sugar crust, as I was taking in plenty with the berries, but them's the breaks with storebought baked goods). And because nobody else was around, I was able to make the whipped cream like I prefer it: with only a tiny amount of sugar, so it's more buttery than sweet.

Now I am too full to return to my evening's task: taping and mudding the Front Parlour.

Blub Blub Blub


I had a sort of spa evening tonight. A week ago I bought a fresh face mask from Lush, so I used that, drank a big mug of cranberrry tea, then had a nice soak in a hot tub with a Big Blue bath ball, also from Lush.

The bath balls are much better when they are fresh. I've used a few after they've gone a bit stale, and this fresh one was definitely better.

I also allowed myself to give up on the crappy book I was reading and pick up the next one on my reading pile. That is A Round-Heeled Woman : My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance, which is delightful only 23 pages in (and a fast read). I found this book in a bookstore in England, with a sign over it saying it was about a proper English lady. In fact, it's about an American woman who is an English teacher, but that doesn't hurt. Also, it's set in Berkeley, which gives it some local flavour.

Now I'm going to make an attempt to get to sleep early, so I can get out the door and buy more drywall mud (I ran out this evening after the store had closed), so I can finish the first coat in the back parlour tomorrow. I will be almost done with this when Noel gets home.

What a Useless Day


I have this to-do list that is three pages long, and I decided to settle down to tackling some of it today. But the day got off to a late start because my shoulder has been acting up, and it kept me awake between 5:00am and 6:30am, so I slept in.

Then I had a hard time motivating myself to get going. I was going to do five things, I thought:

  1. Get fuel for car
  2. Take three sacks of papers to the shredders
  3. Get a new watchband
  4. Drop off proof of service at courthouse
  5. Take the dog to the vet for her leptosporosis shot

So I piled the dog in the car and set off. First I discovered that fueling station of choice was clogged with customers beyond value. I drove to the next one that had diesel, but they were charging way too much for it, so I decided to go up to the shredders' first.

I messed up the address of the shredders, but I did eventually find them, and that went smoothly. I got to watch my papers being shredded (along with my childhood diaries).

Then I managed to find a decent fueling station, but I realized as I was leaving that I'd forgotten the proof of service paper at home. So I set off for the vet clinic.

At this point, my shoulder felt the need to remind me that ibuprofen is good for six hours, not eight, and we'd all be happier if I took some more. So I got the dog through her shots and headed back home.

And when I looked through my 3-page to-do list, I realized that the shredding was the only thing on the list that I'd done. Damnation. At least the recent application of ibuprofen has taken effect, and I can go work on the taping and mudding.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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