Category Archives: Home

House Activity (Edited and Updated)

I’m trying to add some more media. I figured it out.



This is what the west side of the house and yard looked like before I got started.  What you can’t see is all the pup poop.





More Progress on the Decorating and Organizing Front

I wouldn’t say I enjoy it, but the challenge of getting stuff up off the floor has been interesting.  I got a few more things done over the last few days.


This is not the best photo — I tried to adjust for later ones — but it shows that I got the biggest painting off the floor and Dora’s favorite spot.  She really loves the bed.  With it being chilly, she snuggles in the morning and makes herself a nice nest from the comforter before we go to sleep.


One of Von’s paintings — it doesn’t really go with the brown/tan in the rest of the house but seems lost on the white wall.  I think it is one of the most interesting of her works.  The geometry of it reminds me of Picasso, if I say so myself.


After all these years, I finally went to Walmart and found a frame for the one on the left.  I later found that I could have bought the same thing from Michael’s.  Oh well.  It’s a yarn drawing from Ghana that a Syrian student gave me.  Most of what I have to decorate with has either been given to me or entrusted to me.  Like the other of Von’s paintings on the right.  It’s so dark that I couldn’t get a good picture.  It looks like ghosts, so I put it over my bed.  My aim is to be a ghost from now on.


The Girls


Pretty Caroline in the better organized room — I cleared out the boxes today.


These are the curtains I dyed.  They are very pretty and the sunshine kind of glows through them.


The Murph.  I dyed other covers for the couch and chair.  This binkie is protecting the other covers from the dirt-bath pup.  I bought it when I first got to Tucson, not realizing that it would work for this purpose.  Lucky me.


More happy framing thanks to finds at Michael’s.


The Latvian Horse painting.


The two little watercolors on the right are the only thing I ever bought.  The painting on the right was a gift from a Syrian student of mine who is a famous painter in his own right.  (His father was as well.)

I got the window film up on the other western small window while waiting for the The Great British Baking Contest or whatever it is called.  I have one more episode of True Detective to watch on the disk I have.  It’s a good show — maybe a bit too self-indulgent on the philosophy side for me.

I’ve decided that there is not much point in trying to find a good restaurant here in Tucson.  There’s one good pho place I found, but as far as Mexican food, not much in the way of authentic — it’s mostly for white people.  Sigh.  I’ll keep trying.


After getting the garage roof repaired weekend before last, today I finally got the ceiling fan installed.  It’s really pretty and will not only keep  the area cool, but will also be a solution when I come home late int the wintertime to feed the kittens, since it has lights.

The guy that came out today was not the one I usually deal with.  That guy has moved on and no one seems to know where he went.  I like and trusted the first guy, so when the second guy said my main box was dangerous, I just said ok.  I know that I will eventually need to have more electrical work done, I don’t think that the massive repairs the first guy did last spring were for naught.

In other news, I gave crazy wound-up Dora some of the Calms Forte that Roberto bought for her, or rather me.  She’s been zoinked on the bed for hours now.  Even Tammy and Murph barking didn’t rile her up.  I’ve checked on her several times.  At first she seemed confused, but later she just  had her open-eyed sleepy girl thing going on.  She also seems to be slowly making a little circle on the bed.   Given that I had some stranger here today, all the pups are very quiet now.  This worries me a little, but I think Dora will be ok.  And just as I type this, sleepy Dora trundles into the living room.  She probably needs to pee.

And with that I will sign out.

I have a dilemma

The weekend before Christmas or somewhere around in there, my family had our cooking day, and when I left the house, I left one lamp and a little radio on.  Just to keep the pups company.  When I got home neither was on.  I checked the power cord, etc. and the plug is dead.  I can deal for now, but I would rather have it working.

I paid in advance earlier this year to have an outdoor ceiling fan installed in my garage without actually having the ceiling fan because I wanted to find one NOT made in China.  Well since the plug went out, I did some more research and just couldn’t find one. I wanted to call the electrician out to change the plug and install the fan.   I pulled the trigger on a very cheap fan and hoping that the vagueness of the website would turn out to be something not made in China.  It arrived and I was wrong.

I haven’t called the electrician yet.  Today I see that a question I left on a fan maker’s web site was answered.   Their fans are manufactured in the USA of imported parts.  I can live with that.  The company is Fanimation.  I can get that fan, along with a light kit, for just a little more than I paid for the Chinese one.  I could get it online or I found a local store that sells their products.  The problem is that I have already gotten rid of all the paperwork for the fan I bought.

In writing this post, I think I should check Amazon again.  I bought it there, along with signing up for some special thingy that got me free shipping which I don’t need anymore, but maybe it has something about returns. . .

Even though I’ve already broken down the box the fan came in, I still have the one the dehydrator came in, so I could send it back.  I’ll figure this out by Friday.

Today was a rain day.  Poor miserable outside kittens.   Tomorrow won’t be such a rain day, so I can clean the garage and work in the yard.  Friday will be another rain day, so I can go out and look at fans, mail back the fan I have if I can and look into some crushed gravel for the walkways between the beds.

If I can’t send the fan back, I’ll sell it, along with the tiller and generator in the spring.


I’ve often wondered when the facility that I can recall bad memories will be out-stripped by the good memories flooding back in every day.

I think I am reaching that point.

Today was a good day.  I got all of my shopping done and am now just waiting on the online purchases to get here — I’ve cut it close, but even if the big gifts don’t make it, I have backups.

Building new memories and letting go of the most troubling ones is not something that I think I can do over night, but I’ve made a start.  Roberto is right — making memories of family and togetherness is what I should hold onto.  Those sweet girls — my nieces — are the future of our family.  While at times their idea of me is something of a clown — they count on me for funny stories — I teach them things that they don’t get to experience in their suburban lives.  I’m a little exotic for them.  Like when I gave them trinkets that my students had given me.  I’m pretty sure that my oldest niece is the only girl in her school with a shoulder bag from Kazakhstan.  My middle niece screamed last Saturday that she wanted me to be her teacher.  Sadly, I had to tell he since she speaks English, that wouldn’t happen.  But in another way, I teach her and her sisters every time I am with them.

Better memory building is what I need.  It’s what I am doing.  I never want to forget my dad.  Perhaps I can imagine him with us on these great granny cooking days, too.  Perhaps I can see him with the girls.  My dad was always the funny one.  Perhaps I am filling in that missing piece — as best I can.

Almost Vacation Time!

It’s about damn time.  Tomorrow I have to stay home and do nothing until about 2:00 (survived my dental procedure, but just have to rest and per my dentist’s instructions “not make any major decisions” for 24 hours — which means Christmas shopping is out of the question).  Then it’s back to work on Friday — I’ll try to find the top of my desk and filing cabinet, prepare for the new session as much as possible and clean out my email (worst chore of all).

What Christmas shopping I have left should be easy and take maybe next Monday morning to do.  I still need to ask about what to get a couple of family members and one friend, but otherwise I have already done most of my shopping online.   My Christmas shopping has morphed over the years.  For years, I waited until Christmas Eve to get everything done.  It was fun and it was easier in some ways — I relied solely on inspiration and what was left at Sears orMontgomery Wards.  For the years that I worked retail, I shopped exclusively by catalog.  Everybody got stuff from PBS, Newport or Sears and maybe JC Penny.  I like shopping online, though I can’t get everything that way, and at times it is impossible to determine where something was made.

There is one gift that will have to wait until Christmas day.  Inspired by the Hallmark books that let you record yourself reading them, I have decided to get some software and a decent microphone so I can record my mom reading my nieces’ favorite books.  It’s an activity that is very important to her and very enjoyable for the girls.  And it will be something they can listen to and follow along even when mom is not there.

Saturday is our big 4th Annual Cooking Great Grandmas’ Recipes Event.  My little family gets together and cooks delicious dishes from both of my grandmothers.  It’s mostly the sweets both of them made around Christmastime, and then a dinner favorite from one or the other.  In years past we’ve had sour cream tacos, frito enchiladas, and homemade pizza with pineapple.  This time around I am in charge of dinner.  We will have chicken fried steak with cream gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans and plain white bread.  (I’ll try to remember to take pictures and then post them on Sunday.)  After all the cooking and feasting is over, we’ll go out in the street to wait for Santa Claus to ride by on a firetruck.  This may be the first year that my youngest niece won’t be scared to death of him — we’ll see.

The rest of my vacation — outside of Christmas Day — will be devoted to developing and implementing my plans for the front and back yards.  I’ve got to lay the pavers for the puppy run on the right side of the fence in the front and deal with all of the wood chips from the crepes I had removed.  I also want to build a planter for my small lemon tree.  Figuring out how to more effectively deal with pup poop is going to be a challenge.  Any ideas are greatly appreciated.  Cleaning the ditches will be a necessary but dreaded chore — one I will probably procrastinate about.

The back yard will involve more clearing of weeds and undesirable plants (including 4 or 5 palms that threaten to up-end one corner of the house).  When we first moved in here, there was a ton of bamboo growing along the back fence and it was slowly tipping over the old shed that was back there.  I managed to clear it all out, so even though eradicating the palms looks like a daunting task, I know I can do it.

The plans for the raised beds are coming together now that I’ve read more of Year Round Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers for Metro Houston. I’ve decided to go with a base of 8x8x8 concrete blocks and 6′ cedar fencing pickets for the top, secured by rebar.  I may make one bed taller — two pickets on top of the blocks — and one bed just with blocks — to see which works out best.  Putting in the pond is still just in the imagination stage — I’m not sure if what I imagine is possible, so it needs more thought.

I’m really excited about the winter holidays this year!

I hope that your holidays are filled with joy.

Snow — The Morning After

After worrying about the outside kittens and somehow tripping two breakers (after it got dark), we awoke early to a very cold crisp morning.

Tammy peed in the bathroom.  I’m surprised that was the only accident since none of the pups would go out after about 9:00 last night.

Some picks — this from yesterday afternoon:

Harry checking out the little cubby I moved from the garage:

I put a couple of towels in the recycling bin, too.

Sad Gray & White Kitty showed up for some dinner.  Harry wanted to play.

Then surprise!

I set it up again, but this time without the milk crate.  As of this morning, it looked like someone had slept in it at some point.

Frost on my plants this morning:

Looking down the street:

Snow still on the roof:

Snow Murph:

Junebug, up early, hungry and playful:

The sun is shining now, Dora is barking in the front yard, and I’m off to look for more outside kittens.

UPDATE!!!!!!! Sleepyheads Harry and Braveheart finally showed up for breakfast.

I have a plan!!!!!

It’s taken me long enough, but I now have a plan for the front yard, back yard and house.

Now it’s just a matter of materials and scheduling.

I’ve decided to nix the St. Augustine left in the front yard and go for morning glories on one side and wisteria on the other.  I’m thinking of cementing the street side of the ditch and planting Mexican Heather on the sidewalk side.  The front yard will get the most native ground cover I can find, and mulch will replace the raw dirt.

In the back yard, I will prepare it for raised beds for vegetables.  Cinder blocks for the first level and then cedar for the rest.  I want to get the garage area opened up and make it a place for coffee in the morning and grilling in the afternoon.

Inside, I want to get the columns installed and the living room painted.  Then on to fixing the cracks from the leveling and eventually remodeling the bathroom.


And posted without one single stolen picture.  (I find that right wingers tend to think it is ok to steal the work of others.  They have no idea of the value of work or talent.)