Friday, April 29, 2005


A couple of months ago, as we drove by the local elementary school, we saw that they had used plastic cups in red, white and blue to spell out the word COUNTDOWN, followed by a colon and then a number. (I wanted to take a picture of this for you all, to give you the full effect, but I can't get far enough away from it to fit the whole thing in the frame and still get a clear shot.)

At first I just assumed that they were counting down until the last day of school, but at some point, enough of my math skills were in the same room for me to figure out that we were going to hit zero way before the end of the schoolyear. It was around this time Pukka noted that they seemed to be counting down to our anniversary. the math on this worked out correctly, but somehow I doubted the little ones cared much about commemerating our marriage. This led to much idle speculation about what master plan the third grade set had for taking over the world. Finally, last week, my curiousity got the best of me, so I emailed the school secretary:

To: nice elementary school secretary lady
From: nice, non-threatening, child-loving, but not in a creepy way, me
re: Countdown to what?

Every day, my husband and I drive by your school on our way to and from work, and we've been spending the last couple of months speculating about what you're counting down to. I found the school's website this afternoon and was hoping I'd find an answer there, but couldn't locate one. Maybe you could help us out? We're hoping it's not anything drastic since we only have a few days left! :)


my nice and oh so professional sig that was recently dictated to me by the corporate empire that will soon be paying our mortgage

The next day I got this reply from the school's webmaster:

To: the lady asking the weird questions of the school secretary
From: really nice webmaster guy
re: Countdown

Ms. Turner,

Thank you for your recent correspondence. Thanks for looking up the
website, and for inquiring about the countdown.

On Saturday, April 30, our school will celebrate a new piece of playground
equipment. Some day, when you drive by, you might notice a large piece of
equipment for the kids to climb on.

Thanks for your interest!

sig of the really nice webmaster guy

Isn't that cool? So now we all know. No littles bent on world domination, just a cool new addition to the playground.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The full story, in case you were wondering

Tuesday at 3:05 pm, our realtor emailed us a listing that looked promising, mostly because it included an indoor pool. Since that time, "It has a pool!" has been the beginning and ending statement of practically every conversation we've had. Pukka was scheduled to leave town Wednesday morning and not return until Friday evening, but we decided that we didn't want to wait until the weekend to take a look at this house. We've been having trouble moving fast enough to get what we wanted, and this time we wanted to do everything we could to make sure someone else didn't buy it before we had a chance to even decide what we wanted to do.

So we asked our realtor to set up a showing for just me. Our plan was that I would take a look at it, and if it looked OK, we would schedule a second showing this weekend when Pukka was home so he could see it as well. We figured that way we could at least get our foot in the door. She asked if I could come over at 9am on Wednesday (yesterday). I said I would be there. Then I asked Pukka what time he was actually leaving for Chicago. Turned out he wasn't leaving until 10am, so he would be able to come along. I don't even want to think about the number of times "It has a pool!" came out of my mouth that night.

Yesterday morning we arrived at the house at the specified time. It's in a nice, quiet part of town, only a block away from the Jr. High and a couple of blocks from a big park with a rec center (including another pool!). From the outside, the house is a dark brick one story house (it's a ranch, but it doesn't really have that long skinny look I typically associate with ranches) and there's nice big mature trees in the yard. As we walked up to the front door, I pointed out the lush old-fashioned rose to Pukka, and it grabbed at my hand with thorny fangs because I just couldn't resist touching it on our way in.

Inside, things were essentially as we expected them. There's no basement, so everything is on the one floor. There are three bedrooms of varying sizes, but all fairly usable with a good amount of closet space, especially for a house that old. One bathroom of decent size. Separate living room, dining room, kitchen and family room areas. And of course, there's a pool. The pool is indoor in-ground. It's supposed to be 3.5 feet at the shallow end and 5 feet at the "deep" end (we did not test that out!). It's not really big enough to swim in -- I would probably hit the far wall on my second stroke -- but it would be excellent for pool parties and just generally cooling off in the summer. Also, there's a fireplace in the family room, so we'd also have special features for winter entertaining as well. The kitchen is a little small, mostly because it's filled with appliances, including the washer & dryer, but it should be workable. The dining room has one wall filled with built-in bookcases/cabinets. There's nice patio and garden spaces in the back yard and the back hedge is lilacs that were all in bloom (just for us, of course).

We stood in the kitchen and talked about it, I wandered back through the house while we talked about it, we sat in the dining room and talked about it some more. Overall, we really liked it. It will probably not be suitable for us in the ultra-longterm, but for the near future, it will be really nice. I always thought I needed to live in a house with a basement, but did I mention that this house has a pool? Finally we decided we wanted to make an offer.

I drove Pukka back to work so he could leave for Chicago and then I drove over to the realtor's office to start signing papers. I left there around 11:30. I went home and waited. Then I got tired of waiting, so I took a nap. At 2pm, I woke up because the phone rang. It was our realtor, and she said our offer was accepted.

I was so excited! I couldn't wait to start telling people, but I thought Pukka should know first. He was going to call me that night, but I wasn't sure I could wait that long. So I called the hotel to see if they would pass a message to him at the convention. The woman that answered the phone said he hadn't checked in yet. So I asked if they could give him a message when he checked in. She said they would and so I explained that we had made an offer on a house this morning and it was accepted. She said, "Oh, that's great news!" and told me they would give them the message.

So imagine Pukka, checking into the Hyatt, and they tell him he has a message. When I talked to him later he said that initially made him a little concerned. Then they gave him the message, and he was so excited too! He told everyone who would listen about our new house (and swimming pool, of course!).

Barring any unforeseen difficulties, we'll be closing June 21st, so there should be a pool party before the summer's over! Woo hoo!!

Around five last night, I stepped out to get our mail and saw that there was a piece of paper taped to our door. It said that the property management company was planning to show our unit tonight at 6 pm. Now, I probably haven't mentioned this before, because it's not really something I'm proud of, but both Pukka and I tend towards the slobbish end of things, especially when we're stressed, which we have been lately. And I'm a giant pack-rat in a human body. Suffice it to say that our place was nowhere near ready to be seen by other people.

I called the property management guy to hand him a clue, hoping he'd have an empty unit to show or some other backup plan. He just told me, "I'm sure it's not the worst I've seen." It was all I could do to keep from snorting in derision.

I just bought my first house. My husband's out of town. All I wanted to do was go out and have a little fun and celebrate. Instead I got to spend my night panic cleaning. Fortunately, Tigger's girlfriend was kind enough to stop by and lend her assistance and we got the worst of things taken care of.

Yesterday was quite the day. I'm really looking forward to the weekend.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Room with a pool

Do you remember the incident with the Lustron home, where I wandered around for days afterwards saying, "It's made of metal."??

Well, now we've met a house about which all I can say is, "It has a pool!"

Ok, so that's not entirely true. I can say other things, but the pool factor is always included: "Yes, I know there's no central air, but baby, it has a pool!" "I really like the closets in the bedrooms. Hey, did you know this house has a pool?" "There's no basement, but if a tornado comes, we could hide in the pool!" "Do you smell the lilacs? I bet you can even smell them from the pool!"

Yes, we found a house, in our price range, with an indoor pool. Who knew these things even existed?

And yes, I signed all the papers to make an offer about an hour ago.

I'm so nervous, I think I'm going to throw up . . .

. . . but hey, it has a pool!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Blogroll updated

I've needed to update the blogroll practically since I first created it. But I kept getting bogged down in who to list and how to organize them. Finally, I gave up and went with the simple -- most of what I have bookmarked, listed in alphabetical order.

So, to the right you'll see what I was reading as of about a week or week and a half ago. Things have changed recently at work which mean I may not have so much blog-reading time on my hands anymore. We'll see what happens with that. In the meantime, enjoy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


So fairly early this morning, I'm sitting at my desk at work, looking at my computer monitor (because that's what I do when I'm at work), when I see something moving out of the corner of my eye. I tell myself that that's impossible, and myself answers back, "Dude, I'm serious about this!" So I look over and there's a mouse starting to make his way up my wire book crates.

Yeah, there was a mouse.
On my desk.

And I was completely wigged out by it, not because I was afraid of it or anything but because a) I don't want it getting in my stuff and b) what if it makes a run at me?

Let me just repeat: yuck.

So I wheeled my chair back and just looked at it, dumb-founded. Fortunately, it noticed me looking at it (good thing about prey animals) and decided it was time to move on. So it runs across the back of my desk and goes down the crack (thank God I'd already wheeled back or I think I would've lost it at that point) and into my neighbor's cubicle.

I got up and walked over there to see if I could see it, but it had disappeared. "Dude, just so you know, there might be a mouse in your cubicle." He was a little more disturbed by this than I had expected. He's usually the guy in charge of killing the bugs for all of the girly-girls down here, so I didn't think it would bother him too much. I think it was because I told him that it could walk on our (fabric-covered) cubicle walls. I can't say that I blame him much. Mice on the floor are one thing. Mice that could launch themselves onto any part of your body are freaky!

Of course, our conversation attracted the attention of some co-workers, including one of the supervisors, C. She called the head of the center and he's going to get an exterminator to come out, so I guess that's the last we'll probably see of that little guy.

The weirdest thing is that I'm not 100% sure it was a mouse, because it looked bigger than I think of mice being. When I said that, C. really freaked out. "Like a rat?" she asked. "No, more like a gerbil," I told her (which was true). So now they think I'm nuts.

Monday, April 11, 2005


Andrea Dworkin passed away this weekend. After years of being told what she'd thought and said, I had the fortune to hear her speak in person about five years ago. I certainly didn't agree with everything she said that night, but she did give me a lot to think about. Whatever you may think of her, she was definitely one who spoke her truth. If nothing else, that's a lesson I could stand to be reminded of most days.

Susie Bright says it (and more) better.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

It's Metal!

Saturday, Pukka and I stopped by an open house in town. We'd seen pictures of the exterior on-line and it didn't look very appealing to us, but since it was open, we decided to stop in and check it out.

We met the realtor in the breezeway and introduced ourselves. As I walked into the living room, she asked, "Have you ever been in a Lustron home before?"

"No," I said, the question having little meaning to me as I took in the fireplace in the paneled living room and the open kitchen. Behind me, I could hear Pukka saying, "This is a Lustron?!?"

It was about this time that I notice the hallway, and I finally began to clue in to what we were talking about. "The walls," I asked, "are they . . . ?"

"Metal," she finally finished for me.

Metal. It was all made of metal. The walls. The doors. All of it. At some point I looked at her and asked hopefully, "The roof?" "Metal."

Oh. My. God. It was just . . . metal. Words fail me.

I made the mistake of trying to open a door to look inside a closet. The grating of metal on metal greeted our ears. "Can you imagine when we have kids?" I asked Pukka. "They're going to get mad and start beating on the walls." I demonstrated. It was not a pretty sound.

As we walked into the bathroom, having completed our round of the bedroms, Pukka said, "Well, at least it looks like our bed would fit." (We have a king, and finding a house with a master bedroom large enough to hold it has been a bit of a project.) "You know, I hadn't even noticed," I told him. "Because everytime I walk into a room, all I can think is, 'Oh my god, it's metal.'"

Needless to say, we won't be making an offer. The search continues.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


As I was growing up, my dad worked at a factory as a data analyst. In fact, just about everybody in town worked there in one capacity or another. At that time, they would shut the plant down for two weeks every July and virtually no one had to work. This time was commonly referred to about town as "Cat vacation".

Our family always went to visit my dad's parents and sister during that time. We would all pile into whatever car we owned at the time -- in good years it was a station wagon, or eventually, a minivan, but for awhile it was three kids in the back seat of a Buick Skylark with no air conditioning -- and we would drive. We would drive, and drive and drive. We stopped occasionally at rest areas, where my mom would feed us peanut butter crackers for lunch, and my dad would entice us to run around until we were exhasted. Then they'd load us back into the car and we would drive some more.

It takes about eighteen hours to drive from my childhood home to Richmond, Virginia, where my grandparents lived, and we did just that every year of my childhood that I remember. In my memory, those summer trips were epic. Many of our family adventures stem from that trip -- the time dad forgot to lock the cartop carrier and our stuff ended up strewn all over the interstate, the year my brother was sick the whole trip, the time our hotel reservation got lost and it took forever to find a place with a vacancy, the year we took a five foot stuffed rabbit along for the drive.

But eventually, we'd come to my dad's parents' house, and then things became different. My dad's folks were Southerners through and through. Papa was a preacher, tall enough to touch the sky, and always bigger than life. Mimi was above all things a lady. She took us to museums, tried to teach us a little poise and the nicer points of etiquette. Things at their house were quiet, genteel.

I remember sitting on Papa's lap in his wing-back chair in the library. I was old enough to be too big for most laps, but he was a big man and I was his first grandchild and always a little girl in his eyes. He'd pat his knee, enticing me to join him. I remember the smell of him combined with the scent of the leather of the books. I would lay my head on his shoulder quietly and he would watch the news.

As we sat together, I would try to synchronize my breathing with his, inhaling as he inhaled, exhaling as he exhaled. I imagined that if I got it just right, our breaths would remain in time while I was away. For all of August, September, and October, our breathing would be in synch. In November, December and January, we would be thousands of miles apart, but breathing in concert. February, March and April would find us still breathing alike. We would continue this way through May and June, right up until the time I saw him again in July.

I don't remember ever telling him my plan. I think it was a way for me to try and connect as a small one to a man I never really felt like I understood. At some point, I realized the failings of it all on my own and stopped.

But still, sometimes late at night, I try to match my breathing to Pukka's, inhaling and exhaling at the same pace he does. Even now, I still believe in some way it will bring us closer together, connect us.

Friday, April 01, 2005

What I didn't miss

Today Pukka & I ate at Taco Hell for the first time in probably well over a year.

We had been boycotting in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. The boycott actually ended earlier in March, but I didn't clue in until Monday of this week. The goods news is that the workers picking tomatoes now get a penny more per pound of tomatoes, which amounts to some crazy insane increase in their standard of living (I remember it being 33%, but I can't find the stats to confirm or deny that now). And it's costing YUM! (Taco Hell's parent company) 100K annually to do it. That should be a drop in the bucket to them -- it never ceases to amaze me how far corporate America will go to make a buck.

Anyway, when I first swore off the Bell, it was hard. They were in our regular lunch rotation, and for a long time habit would find us heading towards their door. Eventually that passed, but there were some commercials that almost did me in. For awhile we'd find ourselves tempted whenever we were visiting another town. Then we'd remember that our local place wasn't the issue, but the corporation as a whole. Fortunately it eventually became habit not to go there. All of our friends knew better than to suggest it unless they wanted a lecture on the plight of agricultural workers in this country.

Then we flew to Oregon in December, with a layover in Vegas. And in the airport (or at least the terminal we were in) there was literally no place to eat but sit-down restaurants and Taco Hells. Our layover was not long and I was starving. I said to Pukka, "You know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas . . ." He took pity on me and found the one place that had hot dogs (a questionably better choice).

So today, we walked into the place free and clear for the first time in forever. I stared at the menu, trying to find my old favorites and decipher the new choices. I finally made my order, Pukka made his, and we got our chance to enjoy what we'd been denying ourselves for so long.

And I've got to tell you, it was crap.

But it only cost us eleven dollars, so we'll probably be back.