Monday, February 28, 2011

mea culpa

Yesterday was my dad's 84th birthday. I did not call him. I did not send him a present. Yeah, I feel bad about it. I sent him a birthday card, a post card, and his regular letter. I briefly considered sending him a potted plant, but when I asked Ben what he thought about that idea, he quickly vetoed it. And he was right. Last spring I took my dad some branches of blooming forsythia in a vase of water. They sat for weeks on his radiator until I removed them. Needless to say, they were quite dried out and dead by that time. I don't know why he left them like that, but he did. Maybe he figured I put them there, I could move them.

Dad doesn't make it easy. There is nothing he needs, but more importantly, there is nothing he wants. Last year, every time I went to visit him, I took him something. A new sweater. A beautiful quilt for his bed, which even Dad thought looked quite pretty. Soft, colored t-shirts so that he would quit wearing his white undershirts to dinner. I never saw him wear the sweater or the t-shirts. He returned the quilt to me and told me it was too heavy to sleep under. So he wears old sweaters over his undershirts, just like he always has. His bed is covered by a cheap, unzipped sleeping bag from Walmart. I never took him flowers again, needless to say.

Ben tells me all the time I should call my dad, and he is probably right. But I don't want to call my dad. He has never been good at talking on the phone, and he is even worse now. He has no small talk, nor is he interested in mine. That is why, really, the letters I send him on a regular basis are the perfect way to communicate with him. He can react to them - or not - any way he wants, and I won't ever know it.

These are my rationalizations for not calling my dad or sending him a gift for his birthday. Pick whichever one(s) work for you. They don't quite do it for me. On the positive side, today is the last day of February. Hooray for that, anyway.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

changes in latitude... you know how the rest goes

A quick check back into the old archives of "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is" shows me that last year at this time I was bemoaning cold weather and ice dams and how much I hate February. I gotta say, I still don't like February, but out here in Maryland, it's not so bad. The temperature was in the 50s yesterday and it was bright and sunny. Today and tomorrow the forecast promises sunshine and temperatures in the mid 60s. Can't complain about that!

We did have a warm, sunny day on Monday, and it was wonderful! I opened all the windows, and even left the big sliding door to the back porch open. I mean, there are no bugs this time of year, so why not? Rufus was a bit confused by the open concept, however, and at one point he just walked inside and stood at the door looking out at me. I wiped down all the furniture on the porch, but I believe it is still too early to put the cushions out. I bought some flowered wellies a couple of weeks ago, so I put those on and strode about the wet, muddy backyard with impunity. I was, you know, on poo patrol, but I didn't hardly mind with all the sunshine and fresh air.

The down side of the unseasonably warm weather was that the regular weather had to come rushing back later in the day. The wind picked up as the day progressed, and by evening, the gusts had turned to steady, heavy blowing. The power went out briefly as we sat down to dinner, but we were fortunate, indeed, that it came right back on again. I heard the wind blowing throughout the night, and I was glad that we weren't back in our house on Grove Avenue, surrounded by big, old oak trees.

The wind had done its damage all the same, though. When Ben went out to leave for work in the morning, he noticed the gate to the backyard was wide open. When he went to investigate, he saw that the latch had been blown right off the gate by the buffeting winds. How lucky we were that Rufus had not noticed that when he went out for his early morning constitutional! He would have been gone, and we would have never even known it. The workmen came and repaired the gate yesterday, and I really doubt that we will have a problem with it again. The screws they installed were literally three times longer than the ones that did not hold. Yeah, the fence was expensive, but included in that cost was the maintenance we expected - and received.

So, yeah, it looks like it's going to be a beautiful day today. I believe I'll go out and enjoy it. Hope you have a good one, too.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

time on my hands, a new post on my blog

I don't know for sure, but I have to assume that everyone hates having workmen in their house as much as I do. I need to say straight away that I have not had a single unpleasant experience with any of the workers personally. They have all (so far) done an outstanding job for us, have been efficient and polite, and have cleaned up after themselves. Still, I hate it. I can't go anywhere for one thing. Now, I hadn't planned on going anywhere in particular today, but, still, I can't go if I suddenly want to. I could go to the bank, it now occurs to me, and deposit the check that I finally received from the Interstate 77 Auction House. (More than we had anticipated, thanks for asking.) I could go to the library and pick up the two books they have on hold for me - which I could then read, of course. I could return the curtains that I bought at Target yesterday that are totally wrong for the basement windows, but that helped me to determine what would be right. But, alas, I can't do any of those things.

Today the workmen are here laying ceramic tile in our foyer. I guess it is a good thing that the fence installers have failed to show up for a second day. Otherwise, I think there would be a serious lack of space in our short driveway and in front of our house. These things happen for a reason, eh? Although, I truly have to say that our back yard is a sea of mud where the workers shoveled the snow away on Monday, and I don't blame them for wanting to wait for that to dry out a bit. My shoes are seriously coated with mud from the time I had to go out and get Lucie yesterday. Little shit!

The first thing the floor guys had to do was remove the vinyl floor covering that was there when we bought the house. It wasn't bad as vinyl floor coverings go (other than the mysterious holes right in front of the kitchen door) but it was vinyl floor covering. So that is out of here. They spent a great deal of time trying to get rid of all the squeaks in the floor boards. I know they were doing this because I would hear squeak, squeak, squeaky-squeak, then a bunch of pounding. Squeak, pound, and repeat. Next, they must install the Wonderboard©. Do you wonder what that is? So did I, but that is not how it got its name. It was explained to me that the Wonderboard© will save the tiles from the dreaded "trampoline effect" during which the tiles could crack and break. After that, I assume, the tiles will go down.

I probably should mention that our adventure with the floor tiles actually began last night when Ben and I drove over to Home Depot to pick up all the materials necessary for this project. You know we don't have a truck of any kind, but the delivery of materials would cost an extra hundred dollars, and we thought to save that money for another day. It was a great idea, really, but that darn Wonderboard© was just too big to fit in either of our cars. So we had to pay for delivery, anyway, although it only cost fifty dollars instead of a hundred. So I will consider that we saved fifty bucks by loading our little cars down last night with 300 pounds worth of flooring materials, driving it home, and unloading it.

Needless to say, I am eager to see what our foyer will look like with new ceramic tiles instead of the old vinyl flooring. It will probably totally be worth a day spent in my bedroom with the dogs. We have already replaced the light fixture in the foyer, but have not yet re-painted the dark slate blue walls. This house is already much darker inside than our old house was, and we need to lighten and brighten in here. I know our living room will never be as bright as the old one - window walls on both ends of the room will do that for you - but it can be brighter than it is now. And this time of year, we need that. 'Cause it's winter here in Maryland, too, and I'm telling you, it feels and looks like it. In here, though, it looks fresh and lovely. You should see it. No, really, you should come and see it. Did I mention how lonely I am? A topic for another day, perhaps.