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Showing posts from 2010

Christmas 2010

The first thing Phil did after we got home from our Christmas celebrations was vacuum the studio. Phil’s been asking for a Dyson since we got married and this year all his wildest dreams came true. The old-fashioned Hoover Elite wasn’t good enough for him—something about the canister and bag reminding him of his childhood vacuuming chores.



The first thing I did when I got home was go into a semi-panic about the clutter from the Christmas loot. But after 2-3 days of rearranging, shifting, and throwing out old stuff, the house is back to normal and I’m sad. The traces of Christmas are starting to blend in with the rest of my house. We received such wonderful gifts. Jessica gave us two plants that sit on top shelves and will one day cascade. Terri gave us new bathroom towels, which inspired Phil to go buy towel hangers, a soap dispenser, toilet paper holder, new shower curtain, and a $5 mirror that looks like it’s from a fun house. My tea basket is full to the brim with teas that Jacob,…

Scorekeeper

Around the Taylor living room fire, we counted up the points for the day. Without a doubt Thorpe got the most. She made the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, salad dressing, and sweet potatoes. She swept the kitchen, served mulled cider, and employed Hiromi—when the grad student came out of her room for air. Thorpe also directed the clean up. (But technically all Thorpe’s points belong to me because she is my servant. I like to let her feel like she’s earned a little here and there for herself. But if she ever tries to cash in her points, she’ll discover the truth.)

Grandma Taylor and Teri’s scores closely followed Thorpe’s. They provided the green bean casserole, ham, pickles, rolls, bubbly drinks, breakfast bacon, tea, salad, olives, and pumpkin pie. Grandma Taylor also gets points for directing the after dinner Yoga exercises and for sticking around until 7ish when we ate at 4:30. Phil got a point because he’s my husband, and Papi got a point for leading us in a round of thankful…

Wires and Fractions

Tonight Phil and I watched the airplanes as we constructed a frame for our bathroom mirror. The cumulous had the weatherman telling us it would rain, but we didn’t feel a drop. The planes however were unusually low. They wove in and out of the clouds as we watched. Phil and I felt like we were whale watching in Baja, except we gazed up for a glimpse of a 747’s belly.

The weather was perfect for being outside: sunny and blustery. But we spent the morning indoors trying to figure out how to move a light switch and plug over 5 inches. The original switch/plug location was directly under our off-centered bathroom light, which is next on the list to move. Our plan is to hide the old light hole with our mirror frame. But this meant we had to move the old switch/plug over 5 inches.
We had a pretty good idea how to do this, but when I pulled off the light/plug cover, I found madness. I drew a detailed diagram and called my dad before trying to do anything else. He made sense of it and …

The Pros and Cons of 336

If fall comes in the form of rain streaks across my window, I’ll welcome it. But if it just brings shorter days, annoying students, and sore throats, never mind! Give me summer or give me death!

Too bad I can’t stop the seasons. We’ve got rain. The ants know it. But I’m willing to put up with them if I can listen to the pattering outside. Phil has put up with the ants marvelously well, but only because he imagines the ants taking our poison to their queen and feeding it to their un-hatched babies.

We keep the raisins and nuts in Ziplocs in our cupboards. The honey and syrup are in the fridge. That’s the problem with living in a converted laundry room. The ants can’t tell that this is a house.

We’ve lived in 336 square feet for a year now, and here are my complaints.
-We’re always tracking dirt into the house. -If Phil’s watching clips online, I have to too. -We can’t have more than two people over for dinner. -I’m afraid that an alley mugger will break into our office/living/dining ro…

Do You Know The Author?

I think I might be writing about this pre-maturely. If this doesn’t work out, I’ve got to blame myself. If it does, God has demonstrated his faithfulness.

A little over a month ago I wrote the following conversation in my story between two characters: King Austin and Master Downing. Downing has just returned from a potentially life threatening adventure, which has led to the very best of situations.

“How did you know?” Austin started.

“Know what?”

“Know that any of this was going to happen: that you’d make it back safely, that Noom would choose to fight for us? How’d you know?”

Downing shook his head. “I didn’t.”

“You didn’t?” Austin stopped pacing. “You mean you just gave yourself up to the thieves without knowing if they’d kill you or not?”

“Yes.”

This was too much for Austin. It didn’t make any sense. Was Downing just that reckless? “But you could’ve died!”

“Yes.”

Austin threw his hands up. “Master Downing, you don’t make any sense! I saw you giving yourself up to those thieves like you we…

Sight to the Blind

My Irish Breakfast tea tasted like Lawry’s Taco Seasoning the morning we came back from our vacation. The tea and the seasonings were zip locked together during the fumigation. The apple jelly’s top wasn’t on all the way, and it dripped down my loose-leaf Oolong bags and pooled on the bottom of the plastic sacks; and the bottle of picnic-sized balsamic vinegar leaked black dots on my spice jars.

The burning-red Kangaroo Paws that I’d planted below the freshly painted staircase don’t look like they’re going to make it. Their leaves are half crispy; their flowers, all faded. The Boston Ivy is a stubby bush again; all its fingers that had crept over the ugly wall outside our studio door are chopped. The furniture was sprinkled with dust; dust bunnies rolled over the laminate flooring upstairs.
I guess nothing can be good after coming back from a vacation like that. Nothing at all. Phil and I have been suffering from post-vacation blues. I want to see the mountains again. I want to hear …

I Know How It Ends

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

     “Poor boy! How little you know about things! Mr. Coleman’s lost all his money, and your father has nothing to do, and we shall have nothing to eat by and by.”      “Are you sure mother?”      “Sure of what?”      “Sure that we shall have nothing to eat.”      “No thank Heaven! I’m not sure of it. I hope not.”      “Then I can’t understand it, mother. There’s a piece of gingerbread in the basket, I know.”     “O you little bird! You have no more sense than a sparrow that picks what it wants, and never thinks of the winter and the frost and the snow.”      “Ah—yes—I see. But the birds get through the winter, don’t they?”      “Some of them fall dead on the ground.”      “They must die some time. They wouldn’t like to be birds always. Would you, mother?”     “What a child it is!…

The Divine Comedy

Our back alley is often awake with the clinking of glass bottles and the crunching of aluminum cans, the whack of the closing trashcan lid and the squeak of cartwheels. They say the early bird catches the worm, but in Uptown, the 4 am Hispanic finds the most recyclables, especially on trash days.

I have a new respect for garbage now that I’ve written two articles on waste for my children’s literature course: one about where sewer water goes, the other about landfills. Here’s an interesting fact for you: before the recession, Puente Hills packed 13,000 tons of garbage into its landfill a day. Now, it averaged 7,000 tons of garbage a day.

The head of the Green Waste Department said, “People aren’t throwing away their old furniture anymore just to get new ones. They’re keeping the dented things because they don’t have the money to buy new things.” Now isn’t that the picture of wealthy Americans? We buy, not because we lack, but because the old one is dented. It’s more likely that Americ…

Craig's List

The mocking birds were busy all-night and so were we, but I don’t think our neighbors heard us as kindly as they did the chirp-chirp, whoop-whoop, and deedoo-deedoo of the mocking birds. Our noises went more like ratt-tatt-tatt, errrrrrr, bang-bang, twang, vroom!


Our four-car garage is becoming a two-car garage so our renters can have a garage space of their own. This is good for them, but tricky for us. We’ve shifted all our household items, unused furniture, and tools to one side of the garage. How in the world did we accumulate so much stuff? I felt the sudden urge to get rid of things, and Philip was kind enough to let items go for unreasonably low prices.

Craig’s list was the mode: a hanging microwave that came with our stove for the front house ($25), our mini-fridge that we took off Luke Shackelford’s hands when he moved out of Jacob’s ($35), a full-sized fridge that Robin and David gave us after we left Beverly ($40), Dale’s childhood book shelves, desk, and nightstand ($50), an…

Yappy Dogs and Faulty Homes

My brown curls smelt like smoke today: burnt plumb trees and leftover construction wood. Phil and I had a fire in our brazier last night and it was romantic even with the Whittier helicopter trying to land on the nearby hills, our tenants watching T.V. with the windows open, our neighbors sprinklers going off, the ice cream truck playing Christmas carols, and the sirens of the 911 calls responding to Aunt Betty who choked on her potatoes—or so Phil says. I think the sirens are for domestic violence in the apartment complexes located between Hadley and Broadway. All the local sex offenders live there.

I was thankful that that yappy dog across the alley was quiet. It yaps non-stop from the time I get home until about 5pm: a squeaky yap, like the sound my Junior High students’ desks make when they rock them. I’ve done almost all I can do to shut that little wiener dog up. I’ve called the police twice. Phil’s called once. I’ve left a note. I printed material about how to recognize an…

Phil's Projects & the Battle with Taurus

Philip and I are project people. And since we have a house with endless tasks, sometimes the projects come and go faster than we can report. Here's an appetizer of all the activities.

1) Phil's been putting together a succulent picture. He made the frame out of scrape wood, scrounged around for some chicken wire—he got some from Ed Morsey and found the rest covering a vent on our house—filled it with soil, and inserted the smallest succulents we have. He shoots the thing with a spray bottle everyday to water it. The final product will hang on the wall and supposedly won't fall apart because of the roots. We'll see about that one. In the meantime we've got to let the thing sit for 6-8 weeks before it's ready for vertical hanging.

2) Our little laundry shack needs attention, so I took on replacing a rotting roofing board. I learned: that roofing has fiberglass in it so wear gloves, that each sheet of roofing is nailed in below and above the next overlapping shin…

You're Old And This is A Gas Station!!!

With a collection of poison pimples on my chin and one smack in the middle of my forehead, today wasn’t a day to feel beautiful. Nevertheless a contractor in his mid-thirties kept staring at me while he pumped gas into big white truck. Eventually he came over to me and said: “Hello, my name is Joe Smoe. I’m a contractor with such and such, and I noticed you over here, and I wanted to tell you that you’re really beautiful.” “Well thank you, but you know I had no say in the matter.” “I don’t see very many people around as beautiful as you.” “Thank you, but you know real beauty is on the inside.” “Ya, but how can you know unless you get to know a person. Maybe I can take you to lunch sometime.” “Um, I’m married.” “Oh.” “Yep. I’ve been happily married for awhile now.” “That’s great.” “Do you know what the secret to a great marriage is?” “Communication. You got to communicate.” “Are you married?” “Divorced.” “Why didn’t it work out?” “We didn’t have good communication. I ma…