Monday, April 26, 2010


So we did it.  We ripped up the carpet in the living room and the hallway and put down a floating hardwood floor.  It is not quite perfect--I discovered a scratch and also a place where the pattern of the board we put down got too matchy from row to row and it annoys me.  But it is still really quite nice.  We are very pleased with the floor and with ourselves, naturally.  Of course, we could never have finished it all in a day and a half if it weren't for help from friends and David's dad and his wife.  If I were to type out the story of the entire process--the in-laws, the thunderstorm warning and tornado watch, the lights flickering, the pounding rain, the blood spurting from David's finger, the whining dogs--it would take far too long.  Also, it's not really that exciting, except maybe for the part where I dropped the F-bomb while describing how pissed I would be if a tornado ripped off my roof and ruined my new floors.

So instead of a narrative, I offer you our floor make-over in pictures:

The Before Pictures.  
Carpet is dingy and gross.  Home to pet hair and dander.  Stained by wine, pizza sauce, nail polish, dog barf, puppy pee, and probably some other spills of varying levels of grossness.  Happily, Buffy is on TV.

 Cleared out the furniture and stacked it in the back room.  David and I managed to do this all by ourselves on Friday night.  Do we know how to have a good time on a weekend or what?

Pulling up the carpet.  Not pictured:  Me, pulling out HUNDREDS of tiny staples.

Hardwood floors revealed!  Perhaps we can just refinish this cute parquet flooring and not have to do this project at all...

Hardwood floors revealed to be seriously damaged and filled in in two different places by large plywood boards (Little Mac reclines on a pillow near one such board)Guess we'll be putting down new floors after all...

Or maybe new red carpet!  Just kidding.  This is the underlayment.  It is essentially tiny styrofoam beads taped to red plastic.  Nice and cushy.

Our friend, Max poses with David.  We love to take advantage of our friends.  We paid Max for his hard work with Lee's Fried Chicken and some steaks.  We definitely got the better end of the deal, but don't tell Max.

David's dad Joe gets things started.  As he would say, "Now we're cookin' with grease!"

The corners get tricky.  Three heads are better than one.  Or four, as I was always happy to offer my opinion.  Or call my dad.
About halfway done.  
David moves stuff around.
Cooper supervises.
Finished floor!  Waiting on baseboards.  And would you believe that we didn't have to cut any of the boards to make skinnier pieces at the sides?  We had a perfect fit of five-inch boards across the room.  It was a miracle.

Cards game on TV.  Life as usual commences.

So, there she is.  Put back together.  Looks just the same, right?  Only without the carpet.  Now we just have two more rooms to tackle...  The hardest part was the prep work--putting the boards down was easy and actually kind of fun.  Like a puzzle where you can create your own pattern.  I did my fair share of the manual labor, we just don't have photographic evidence of it (will remedy when we move on to the other two rooms). 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sporty Girl

I have never played organized sports.  That's right.  I have never been on a team.  I have never participated in an athletic competition beyond games in PE class.

Full disclosure:  I went to a volleyball day camp in third grade.  I had no desire to play volleyball after that.

I am just not a sporty girl.

My parents never pushed me to play soccer or softball or anything like that and I never had any desire to do so.  I wanted to act in community theater plays.  I wanted to take dance lessons.  Putting on pretty clothes and getting to wear make up?  Yes.  Wearing ugly uniforms and getting sweaty?  Not so much.

I don't think my parents expected me to be good at sports because they are not very sporty people either.  They didn't really play sports (I think my dad might have sat the bench in high school basketball and my mom's greatest sport moment was setting the record for the bent arm hang in sixth grade but, let's be clear, you don't have to have hand-eye coordination for that).  My parents don't watch sports on TV either.  So I just never had much of an interest in anything sporty, beyond occasionally recreational activities.

My equally non-sporty best friend kicked my ass at tether ball.  I was never more than mediocre at four square.  Playing kickball with my mom in the backyard taught me that when someone is running toward you, ready to tag you with the ball, you should stop in place and scream.  Playing baseball with my dad ended when he hit a foul ball that broke the window in someone's condo.

So part of the reason I suck at sports is genetic, and part of the reason is that I was never shown how to do it right.

I learned the proper form for running because I read a book about it in fourth grade.  It didn't make me want to run, but it told me how to do it.  Landing on your heel, rolling through your whole foot and pushing off with your toe.  Arms bent but relaxed, keeping time with your feet.  I went through a running phase in college (it lasted about fifteen minutes) and a friend jogging with me commented that I had good form.  Yeah, because I read a book about how to do it.

Other skills, though, were just completely beyond my capacity even if I knew how it should be done. I went to school with a girl named Lori who was a natural athlete.  She was remarkably talented at every sport.  She was not especially tall but she was fast and incredibly coordinated.  She was the star of the girls' basketball team in high school, and she was the star of our PE class long before that.  (She was also a serious tomboy and I used to pity her haircuts when we were in middle school.)

I remember in fifth grade we were playing kickball out in the middle school parking lot.  I had been assigned to left field or right field or wherever the ball was not going to go.  Some other soul who, like me, probably would have preferred to be reading a book rather than standing in the outfield, was in the opposite field.  Lori was playing center field because she could basically catch anything from that position.  The other outfielder and I were just expected to stand there.

A kicker for the other team launched the ball high up in the air and toward the outfield.  Instead of watching the ball, I watched Lori run toward the ball.  It was as if she knew exactly how and where it would arc and fall.  She raced to that spot, then kept her eyes up as she shuffled in place, weight on the balls of her feet, knees bent in a slightly crouching position, hands spread wide, elbows bent at her sides.  She waited patiently, reached her arms up at the last moment, and the ball dropped right into her hands.

My ten-year-old self stood in the outfield, marveling at this technique.  It was so different from my instinct and what I had been taught (no offense, Mom).  A ball flying through the air at me prompted me to:

(1) stick my arms straight up in the air in the direction of the ball.
(2) run around in circles as I frantically tried to guess where the ball might fall, trying to account for how hard the person might have kicked it and also wind speed and direction, and finding such calculations impossible to make because, obviously.
(3) close my eyes.

As you might have guessed, this technique was not very effective.  This technique got me assigned to the furthest, quietest corner of the outfield where I would be least likely to embarrass myself. 

Now I saw, watching Lori, how it was supposed to be done.  In theory, I could totally field a popfly to the outfield.  But in reality?  Not a chance.  I don't think I have ever in my life caught a fly ball in the outfield.  And I expect I never will.

And that's ok.  Because, honestly?  There are so many other things I would rather do.  Even in fifth grade.

*This post brought to you at the suggestion of Monica, who was a sporty girl and got the college scholarship to prove it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What was that thing Oscar Wilde said about club membership...?

Clearly he had never been to Sam's Club.

Or maybe he had.  Because there are a million things I hate about Sam's Club--rampant materialism, conspicuous consumption, etc., etc.

And yet there are a million things I love at Sam's Club too.

My mom is always mocking us for buying things in bulk for our two-person household.  It is true that we don't go through instant rice so fast that we really need to buy the gianormous box of rice, but David cannot resist the bargain of bulk-purchases.

Today he told me that he'd picked up a surprise for me at Sam's.  This was waiting for me in the kitchen:

Proof that good things come in threes.  Or fours, if you are into your electric toothbrush.  Which I totally am.

You might be thinking that a three-pack of Nutella would be just about as exciting as Sam's Club gets.  And you might be right (unless you're buying the extra-big wine bottle that won't fit in a fridge). 

But now it turns out that David is using Sam's to address one of my new food issues. 

As I might have mentioned before, I sort of have food issues.  I just get very grossed out about certain things.  Like dead animals.  I am also trying more and more to avoid heavily processed food with lots of chemicals.  Of course this means much picking and choosing (Organic apples:  Yes.  Organic grapes:  Too expensive.  Make my own bread?  Yes, that is what the new mixer is for.  Cheetos are on sale?  Excellent.).

I get a little crazy about certain things.  Like I have to buy free-range, vegetarian fed eggs.  Other things (like Cheetos) I force myself to relax about.  (Because life without Cheetos?  Sad.)

So the new issue is that recently my cousin Amanda (who has already convinced me never to eat microwaved popcorn again) mentioned that pre-shredded cheese is coated with chemicals that keep the little shreds from sticking together.  Ew, right?  I mean, why ingest extra chemicals when I could just shred the cheese myself?

So then I said something to David about this, along the lines of "Rather than buying shredded cheese in BULK, we should probably shred our own cheese."

He announced tonight that he has a project for me:

 Who's the weirdo with two huge blocks of cheese?  Reader, I married him.

So now you can call me the Shredder.  [Insert Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle joke of your own]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How About Cheese and Crackers?

After spending the weekend in Louisville, I got a warm welcome home from David and the pups.  Little Mac seemed especially glad to see me.  Her expressions of affection were, as always, sweet and short-lived.

David had worked hard all weekend--coaching baseball, washing cars, doing yardwork--while I spent two days eating at fabulous restaurants, browsing in quirky bookstores, drinking beer at a minor league baseball game, and watching the fireworks explode and the drunk folks dance at Thunder Over Louisville.

In an effort to show my appreciation for his hard work and to demonstrate how much I really missed him over the weekend, I volunteered to make David's lunch.

Please note that I hate making lunch.  I loathe it.  There is something that seriously grosses me out about fixing food you're not going to eat immediately (sole exception:  picnic food, in which case you merely need to slice cheese and cut up fruit and make sure you remember to include a corkscrew for the wine).  Normally when I have to take my own lunch, I just take leftovers.  No fixing necessary.  In a pinch, I'll put peanutbutter or Nutella on a graham cracker, but mostly I want to take things that don't have to be fixed.  (No leftovers?  Then an apple, string cheese, crackers, hummus, carrots, and a cookie.  Preschoolers and I like the same lunch and I am fine with that.)

BUT I offered to make David's lunch because I love him so very much that I am willing to make ridiculously enormous sacrifices.

So I asked what he wanted for lunch tomorrow.  He mumbled something about a roast beef sandwich.  I don't do that well with deli meat, but this is about sacrifices.  For love.

Ham is on top of the meat drawer so I yell, "How about ham?"

He makes a sound that I assume is acquiescence.

I slice the french loaf to make it sandwich sized (not messing around with pre-sliced bread here, folks, this is the real deal in lunch fixin's).  I ask what kind of cheese he wants.  He says provolone, which I think is sick and wrong on a ham sandwich but no point in arguing so I slap some provolone on the bread.  I open the ham and start slapping it on top of the cheese.  I seem to have forgotten how ham smells.  It is intense and I don't care for the smell.  I gag a little, but just quietly to myself.

Then David hollers from the living room and asks for dijon mustard.  I say, "Sure!"

Then I look down at the ham and see there is a pink slime on it.

I yell at David and insist that he come in the kitchen and look at the ham.


I explain that it has pink slime on it.

I keep looking at it.  It is super gross.  It smells really hammy.  And slimy.  Like lunch meat.  Only slimier.

David walks in and peers closely at the ham.  He declares that it is "probably" bad.

I proceed to dry heave in the kitchen sink.

Then I tell David--between retches--that he will need to make his own lunch.

He tells me I am mentally unstable.

I ask if he married me because I reminded him of his mother.

Then I wash my hands with scalding hot water to get the ham slime off.  And once more to get the scent of ham slime off.

And I think David will continue to make his own lunch.  Unless he wants to eat cheese and crackers.  It's really better for both of us that way.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lettuce Has Flavor

I know, stop the presses, right?  But seriously, I can't be the only one who didn't realize that lettuce has a flavor.  A flavor all its own, not taken from dressing or other veggies you throw in the bowl with it.  Like a distinct flavor you can taste.  As it turns out, lettuce tastes green and cool and...  tangy isn't the right word, but there was almost a sharpness to it.

Yes, we had our first garden harvest today!

Our garden bounty.  I trust you are suitably impressed.

I went out on the deck with a pair of scissors and I snipped leaves from the "salad mix" and the "red leaf lettuce" window boxes.  I rinsed them in the sink.  I spun them in the spinner.  I tore them into small pieces and put them into two bowls.  The weirdest part was that this didn't seem weird at all.  It felt perfectly natural for me to go outside and grab some plant leaves out of the dirt and eat them.  Who would have thought?  (Besides, you know, like everybody in the world until about fifty years ago or so).

David grabbed a leaf-bit from one of the bowls popped a plain piece of lettuce in his mouth.  He chewed a moment and then made a face and said, "Oh, no.  It's bitter."

Then he finished chewing and looked thoughtful.  Bitter wasn't the right word at all.  "It just has a taste," he said finally.

I gave it a try and I had to agree.  At first the taste seemed unnatural.  Why this flavor, Lettuce?  How can this be?  You have no dressing to give you flavor!  What is this taste?  What?  You mean lettuce is not a bland, tasteless vehicle merely intended to transfer ranch dressing from a bowl to your mouth and give it a little crunch?

This knowledge is enough to blow my everloving mind.

We still added the usual stuff to our salads--banana peppers, a bit of shredded mozzarella, and Zia's Italian salad dressing.  And they tasted...  great.  Fresh.  Crispy.  Flavorful.

Yes, lettuce has flavor.  And it tastes good.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hi, Honey. How was your day?

David's car is the in the shop. (No, really. It's great because we LOOOOOVE to spend money on car repairs. Seriously. Love it. Favorite. Best treat EVER.)

So yesterday I had to pick him up from the high school when baseball practice was over (I love how that makes him sound like he is 14 instead of coaching 14-year olds). This car trip marked the end of what had felt like a grueling afternoon--the professor I'm TAing for asked me to read three different critical articles and select the one I wanted to teach next Tuesday but to let him know by today so he could make the announcements to the students on Thursday. Seemed like a simple task at the time.

Reading the articles was not the problem--it was getting my hands on them. I already had a hardcopy of one, so that was easy. The professor sent the second one as a pdf attachment. But forgot to attach the attachment the first time, resulting in another e-mail exchange and much fingernail tapping as I waited for the next e-mail to come through. Another one was a chapter in a book on the reserve list in the library that I (stupidly) volunteered to check out and scan into a pdf, which required checking out the book and returning it within a 2-hour window.

Ordinarily this would not have been difficult. But this happened to be the day that the air conditioner was not working in the English department office so I was sweating through the dress I'd worn to teach in. And then the copy machine (which also serves as the office printer) had decided NOT to print the 23-page e-mailed pdf except in truncated versions of the first three pages. The department's computer/printer consultant dude was there but he and I had some kind of communication problem because he could not understand that half-pages of text were NOT what I was trying to print and he kept asking me if I wanted them and I had to keep saying NO because I actually CANNOT read them when the second half of every line is MISSING. I ended up having to go down to the basement to print the pdf after fighting with the copier for about 30 minutes (in between waiting for other people to make their copies so I could go back to using the copier as a printer).

To make matters more annoying, the first scan I made of the 30-page book chapter didn't go through so I had to go to the end of the copy line and wait for other people to finish and then start all over, scanning page by page. And did I mention it was HOT? Like 85 degrees in the office.

All of this took about two hours in total, which meant I had to scurry back to the library to return the book on reserve and then trudge back to office (still sweaty!) and pack up all my stuff before walking to catch the metro. I'd intended to get home from campus around 4pm and mix up something for dinner so that David could throw it into the oven while I was at 5:45 jazzercise, but instead it was 5:00 before I got off the Metro--just in time to hop in the car and go pick David up at the high school.

I was sweaty and disheveled and cranky and kind of hungry and so when David got in the car and asked me how my day was, I launched into the entire series of events already mentioned, ending with, "It was really just a TERRIBLE and FRUSTRATING afternoon and now I am hungry and tired."

I waited for David to say something sympathetic about, you know, how HARD it is to be an academic, and how technology is a monstrous beast out to ruin my life, and how the department really should pick up my dry cleaning bill because normally I do not SWEAT so profusely in dress clothes.

Instead, he looked at me and said, "I got vomited on today."

Let the record show that I know when to admit defeat. David had a MUCH worse day than I did.

Monday, April 5, 2010


David and I have cleaned up a few messes since we've lived in this house.  Messes that always seem to occur at the worst possible times.

There was the night that we were both worn out from long, tiring days and we were--at long last--winding down in the living room with Chinese take-out, TV, and a bottle of red wine.  I had my glass of wine on a TV tray next to me when Little Mac jumped up on the sofa (she wants nothing to do with us until we have food).  It was one of those scenes that I could see unfolding in slow motion but I was powerless to stop it.  Mac hit the TV tray on her way up and the glass of wine went flying.  In the aftermath, it looked like I had picked up the glass by the stem and just flung the contents across the room--wine was all over the carpet and had splattered up the opposite wall.  Our long, tiring day got even longer as we busted out the carpet cleaning supplies, the steam cleaner, and the magic erase for the wall.  We ended up reheating and eating our Chinese food about an hour later.

When Cooper was a puppy, we'd only had him a few days when we spent an entire Saturday outside working in the yard.  It was another long, exhausting day, and before we collapsed into bed that night we put Cooper in his house (we kept insisting that we were crate training him).  He was whining and whimpering and I knew there was no way I was going to be able to fall asleep, no matter how physically tired I was.  I told David to just get Cooper out of his house and put him in bed with us.  The sweet puppy snuggled up happily between us and we both sighed with relief and prepared to get some sleep.  That lasted about 30 seconds, because then Cooper peed all over the bed.  All over the sheets, all over the comforter, and a little bit on David.  And so our good night's sleep was delayed further as we had to get out of bed, strip off the sheets, treat the mattress cover and mattress with water and puppy-pee cleaner, blow-dry the cleaned-up wet spot, and eventually remake the bed.

This last disaster, though, was a mess of catastrophic proportions and this time I couldn't blame it on a dog. Like the other messes, though, the timing could not have been more inconvenient.

David didn't have to work on Good Friday so we were heading out the door Thursday night to drive to his grandparents' for Easter weekend.  Our bags were packed and we were getting ready to load the car when I glanced down at my flip-flops and decided my pedicure could use a touch up.  I grabbed a bottle of nail polish to throw in my bathroom bag.

I keep my nail polish in a plastic tub with a snap-on lid on the top shelf of the hall closet.  I used to keep it in the fridge but that became a hassle because it turns out that the tub took up room we actually need for things like food and wine and beer and ketchup and Crystal Light.  So now the tub lives on the top shelf of the hall closet, sitting on top of its lid because it is so full the lid won't fit on it anymore.

Anyway, I rummaged through the tub of polish, grabbed the bottle of Cajun Shrimp nail polish and shoved the tub back up on the top shelf of the closet.  As I turned to step from the hall into the bathroom to put the polish in my bag, I heard a terrible noise.

In that split second, the tub evidently got hung up on its lid that was loose up on the shelf somewhere and instead of sliding back into its place, the entire tub tipped forward, flipped over, and fell out of the closet, crashing onto the floor and spilling its contents.  Not to mention breaking a few bottles of polish.

Not one, not two, but FOUR bottles of nail polish.  Completely broken and splattered all over the carpet.

And not clear nail polish.  Or Bashful Pink or Galapo-Ghost or Blushing Bride or anything light colored.  No.  Of course it was the darkest, deepest reds and maroons.  Shattered and splattered.

I had a couple of moments where I stared in horror, then started screaming, "No!  No!  Oh no!" and then David came running.  I think I started crying then because he looked so horrified but then he was nice about it and said it was an accident. 
I figured that since it was nail polish, the only way to remove it was nail polish remover.  So I grabbed my bottle and a white cloth and I set to work immediately. 

But the remover only smeared the polish around. 

Now I was feeling panicky.  The remover wasn't working and my carpet was ruined.

It was time for Plan B:  Call my mom crying.

My mom has the wonderful ability to be both sympathetic and level-headed, so I sobbed the situation to her over the phone and she suggested Google.  So she and David simultaneously Googled "How to get nail polish out of carpet" while I kept at it with the ineffective nail polish remover because it seemed better than doing nothing.

We got a list of recommended solutions from anonymous Internets and David was off to the store.  He returned with this:

And then we started experimenting.  Acetone nail polish remover (the kind used to remove fake nails) turned out to be the winner.  So David went back to Target and bought all the bottles they had.  We ended up with five total.

Clean up was a painstaking process--pour a little bit from the bottle into the cap.  Pour the capful onto a small area of the spill.  Daub and dab and soak up the color with a paper towel while cursing and trying not the inhale the fumes and vowing to never paint your nails again.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  

For three and a half hours.  I do not exaggerate. 

The fumes from the acetone got really bad, so we paused to open all the windows, turn on the fans, and tie winter scarves around our faces.  My fingertips were sore all weekend from scrubbing and digging into the carpet.  But at least we were making progress.  

After we'd soaked up as much as we could, we put Oxyclean in the steam cleaner and went over the mess again.  It's still not perfect, but it's about as good as we're going to get. 

We left for David's grandparents' house the next morning.

Over the weekend, we made a visit to Home Depot and checked out the laminate and the click-and-fold hardwood flooring.  We've been talking about replacing our (not very high quality) carpet for a while, but this might have been the impetus we needed. 

Happy Spring

It has officially sprung.  (Can you spot the spoiled rotten puggle in this picture?)

Every tree should be this pretty, don't you think?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pictures Not Taken

We went to Silver Dollar City on Saturday afternoon.  It was a beautiful spring day in Branson and Silver Dollar City was alive with daffodils and pottery-making and the frying of foods.  We neglected to take any photos, but entertained ourselves by pointing out scenes that would have been photo-worthy.  These included:

* A couple making out near the kiddie rides section wearing matching camouflage shorts.

* A young girl smoking a cigarette in the designated smoking area of the park with her baby on her lap.

* A family all dressed in Aeropostale clothing (and you thought it was just for juniors!).  Especially photoworthy:  the Mom had had an augmentation that distorted "AERO" so that it was barely legible across the woman's chest.

* The miraculous moment when my earring flew out of my ear on the powder keg roller coaster and I caught it in my hand.  I am not sure how it would have been possible to photograph that but it was awesome.

Easter weekend started out with a mild catastrophe (details to follow in subsequent post) but ended up being a nice couple of days spent riding roller coasters and drinking beer and walking the dogs by the lake. 

Tomorrow, of course, is another major holiday 'round these parts.  Cardinal baseball opening day!  This calls for tofu dogs and microbrews.  Also a play by play of Thursday's disaster.