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We have been on an odyssey of home update the last month.  This is a continuation of the quest to make our home salable when we finally decide to sell out when we need to downsize.  Last year we totally remodeled the main bathroom, and MAN does it ever look good!

When I had my hip replaced that bathroom was so cramped I could not even get my walker in there.  Fortunately the vanity had a counter I could lean on in order to get to the toilet, but that certainly was not ideal.  Getting a wheelchair in there was impossible.  Well, it is no secret that neither one of us is getting any younger, and “things” have a way of happening. When we decided to remodel that bathroom we wanted to make it handicapped accessible.  Just in case.

In order to accomplish that feat, we had to borrow space from the guest bedroom by changing its closet into bathroom space.  As there was no one using it, that was no big deal.  Well, except for the part where we had to move the filing cabinet that lived there into the family room.  Anyway, a bedroom without a closet is no longer a bedroom, it is an office or a bonus room.  In order to make this a three bedroom house again, we needed to provide that room with a closet.

Hence the big remodeling project.  We put a wall all the way across the family room in front of the existing wall and cut holes in the hall wall and the bedroom wall to form closets.  At the end of the new closet in the bedroom, we made a nook that has a built in desk.  After all that, we painted the new walls and closets.  Having the wall with the closet and desk painted and not the rest of the room made it look very tacky indeed, and since all the stuff was mostly out of the room we decided we would paint the old surfaces too.

Now, in my life I have painted a LOT of things: new construction, remodels, apartments that are being re-tenanted. I know what the procedure is.  If you are painting new construction, you wipe all the surfaces down with a damp or tacky cloth to remove the dust.  If it is old construction, you must wash the walls thoroughly.  The best stuff to use to wash old walls is Trisodium phosphate, TSP for short.  It has the virtue of etching old paint and getting it ready to receive a new layer at the same time that it is removing grease, grime, mold, sometimes the old paint, and the detritus of everyday living.  After you wash the walls, it is important to also rinse them down as well, to remove the last residue and the TSP that stays on the wall.

If you are painting new construction, it is a very good idea to prime the surface before you apply the paint to it.  That way, the relatively inexpensive primer will fill the pores of the sheetrock, or sheetrock mud, or wood, rather than the comparatively expensive paint you use for color and decor.  Also, the paint will adhere to the primer better than to the porous surface beneath.

If you do not do the crucial step of cleaning the surface you are going to paint, your paint will not stick to the wall.  Or it might stick, but it will not have a good bond with the old surface you have just covered with paint, and it may bubble up later on.

I am also a believer that when you are going to paint, you should use the highest quality paint you can afford, because your results will look better and last longer.  Accordingly, I went off to our local paint emporium and purchased the highest quality semi gloss latex paint they carried, had it tinted to my specifications and brought it home.

I spent several hours washing the walls of the back bedroom.  During that process I discovered that the last person who painted in there had used some sort of exceedingly cheap paint.  While I was washing the walls to remove grime, I also was removing large sections of paint as well.  I scrubbed hard, using a green scotch pad, and rinsed dutifully.  When the area was dry, I got out my sand paper and I sanded all the area as smooth as I could to feather out the edges of the existing paint.  Jim put some primer on the area, and also in a corner where there had been some particularly dirty issues more recently.  While he was doing that, some of the existing latex paint bubbled up and separated from the wall.

We scraped that mess off, and discovered that the wall under the bubbling old paint had been moldy when painted, and definitely had not been washed.  Or anything.  Well, we thought we had identified all the problem areas and corrected them, and proceeded to put the first layer of paint on the wall last night.  No problems.

Today, it was time for the second coat and the ceiling. While I was painting the walls and the trim around the windows and the baseboards, Jim painted the ceiling, bless him.  A couple of hours later  we had finished the job and stepped back to admire our work.  I began to clean up, taking the brushes off to the kitchen to clean them, and the paint pan, and roll up the drop cloth.  All that stuff, you know, that you do when a big job well done is completed.

I stepped back to admire the newly painted walls and saw a horrible sight developing right before my eyes.  As I watched, bubbles were forming on my newly painted wall where the new paint had adhered to the old paint and that old paint had decided that being washed and rinsed and sanded was not enough to loosen it, but my $40/gallon paint was certainly able to do that job.

I know exactly what is under that brand new paint and the old paint.  More mildew and dirt.  Tomorrow I will have to take my scraper back in there and scrape off my brand new paint in all the areas it bubbled up, and then WASH that old wall clean, sand the edges to feather them out, prime the area and paint it all again.  I know I have to do this because the lovely guys at the paint emporium instructed me on how to address this situation.

We had an interesting conversation about it, actually.  Apparently, there are a large number of people who think that if you want to paint a wall you just buy some paint and paint the wall.  Then they come to the paint emporium and complain that the paint isn’t performing the way they expect it to, i.e. bubbling up and/or peeling off.  Cleaning the wall never occurred to them.  And apparently, hairspray is a particularly egregious thing to not clean off your walls before you repaint them.  Who knew?  Certainly not me, I never use the stuff.  In fact, the only time I have ever used hairspray in my life was to stabilize salsify seed heads so they could be used in flower arrangements.

I am pretty sure I know exactly what the scenario was vis a vis this situation.  This house was on the market, and the Realtor came by to look it over.

“Oh my goodness,” she exclaimed, as she looked around the back bedroom.  “This place will never sell with that mold growing on the walls.  You need to do something about that PDQ.”

And so, the lovely homeowner bustled over to Walmart and purchased the absolutely cheapest paint she could find, came home and slapped it up on the wall without any preparation whatsoever. Problem solved.

Until now.  I’m telling you, I am not harboring particularly loving feelings towards the person who provided me with this trap to deal with.  But deal with it I shall.

People just amaze me sometimes.

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On the Gulf Coast

Spent a couple of days driving down to Padre Island.  Great shelling on the shore!
We brought a lot of shells back to the condo and discovered (much to our dismay) that we kidnapped a surf hermit crab.  It was coiled way back up into its shell, very well hidden.  Back at home, it warmed up.  It has been really cold down here…today it was 33 with some sharp wind.


Anyway, it emerged and started exploring.  We have it confined to an aluminum pan and tomorrow we will take it back to the seashore.  Meanwhile, we have discovered it is very happy to eat egg shell and the rib bone section from the barbecued chicken is a real hit.


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On sharing

I don’t remember the period of my life when my mother was trying to teach me how to share.  Perhaps it is just as well.   From what I have observed, little children have a strong concept of “MINE” and there is a certain amount of angst in the process of learning to let go of something you perceive as your own and letting someone else use it for a while.

This can be a very dangerous thing, you know.   Sometimes you share a favorite toy and the person you let use it breaks it.  I have seen this happen, the sorrow and tears are very real.   The trauma…  hopefully not life-long.

Sharing can be as simple as letting another child use your toy, or it can be a political-social arrangement like communal living, or it can mean commingling your assets when you marry.

I know of more than one couple who have tried married life without commingling their assets.   There are a lot of studies on this subject.   It is illuminating to read the lawyer’s view on property sharing in a marriage, and then go to the sites run by relationship counsellors and read their take on the matter.   The New York Times put a very cogent article out about this subject not that long ago.

That goes right in line with an article I read several years ago written by a prominent relationship counsellor.  He said that in his experience, 100% of the marriages that he knows about that began with a prenup wound up in divorce.   His stated position was that if you wanted your relationship to work, you had to be all in.   You cannot be successful in a relationship if your bags are packed; a prenup is basically your bags packed and waiting by the door.

Jim and I have always shared.   As soon as we started living together, and before we even got married, we opened a joint bank account.   Both of us put all our money into that account.   When we got married, we also opened a joint savings account so that we could make far-reaching plans.  We have always filed our taxes jointly, even though towards the beginning we performed the exercise of comparing joint filing to filing separately to see which would be more beneficial in terms of refunds.   After a while, the effort of comparing just seemed to be too much, and we stopped.   It never made that big a difference, anyway.

Recently Jim and I were discussing this aspect of our relationship, and his comment was “I looked at it as a vote of confidence.”  We know about couples who not only did not commingle their assets, they actively worked to keep everything separately.  Some of them did this to the extent that their spouses did not even know how much their income was.   How is it possible to be so distrustful and secretive and call yourselves married?   I don’t know.   

But this distrust of people’s motives comes up in other aspects of life as well.   I have known groups of people who began their lives as idealistic hippies wanting to live together in peaceful communes.   They had much the same experience that the settlers at Plymouth Colony had with their communal living arrangement.   There were people who drew from the communal supplies but never contributed anything to the gardening, cooking, cleaning or building.  

The experience of living with such people have made the survivors very cynical.   I recall being instructed by one such person many years ago that they did not want to do favors for people.   Because what if they never did any for you?   How would that be fair?   This person could not understand how I might want to do her a favor just because I cared about her, that there was no quid pro quo implied by my actions.   

And even if their was a quid pro quo, would it be so terrible to be asked to help me out sometime in the future if I needed help?   If Jim died, would this person tell me to contact social services for help, to go to a professional counsellor for my grief rather than listen to me and hug me while I cried?   Is this person really a friend?   How do we define friends anyway?

I could go on and on, but I guess I’ll just say that when we decided to share our bank accounts, and when we decided to have one shared email account, that did not mean we were idiots.  It meant we loved and trusted each other, and have no reason to keep secrets.  

When we do favors for people, we do it because we love and care for them, not because we are going to present a “bill” in the future in the form of a demand for a favor in return.  We are not the Mafia.

People who don’t understand these things I just feel sorry for.


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I was taking Ruby for her walk the other day and happened to be listening to a radio show that was talking about the year Gracie Allen ran for President.  It happened sort of by accident in 1940.  They played excerpts from some of the shows, and I about wet my pants listening to George Burns interview her.  Gracie went on a whistle stop tour too.   

I was inspired!  “I want to run for office!” I heard myself shouting.  Ruby pulled her head back in the open window in the back seat and chuffed at me.  “What political party should I run under?”  I asked her gaily.  She stuck her head back out the window, so I continued my train of thought silently.  

Given my Libertarian leanings and past, there was no way I could compromise my principles far enough to run as either a Democrat or a Republican.   I had met and hobnobbed with members of the Alaska Independence Party back in the late ’70s right after I graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and they were way too whacko to join up with.  One of our other very good friends was a income tax protester who wound up spending time in prison for his principles.   He never gave up his rights to the Fifth Amendment.  

The other thing is, I’m a lapsed Libertarian.  I have developed what they would deem distressing Socialist tendencies in my old age.  But the Socialists would never associate with me becuase I sort of believe in capitalism.  Less than I used to but I still haven’t broken the habit yet.   After all, I do have shares in a mutual fund where my IRA is.

I have long thought we humans need to band together as brothers and sisters and friends and neighbors and help each other.  We need to provide Health Care (oh no I am descending into Capital Lettersland. . .) and some other socialist stuff like that.

Last night we went out to Jay and Jeri’s and had dinner.   We brought lasagna that was made using leftover spaghetti sauce that was made using leftover meatloaf.  The pan of lasagna that we took with us was leftover from Friday night’s dinner.  So it was leftover leftover leftovers.  And it was really good, too.  We also took a loaf of fresh made bread and a salad we just picked from the cold frames.  

That reminds me, I have promised Kristen elsewhere in the blog that I would post pictures of the cold frames and the support leg arrangement.  I need to go take a picture of that so I can post it, and and the same time brag heavily about my salad patch today.  Be right back.


Okay.   This is what the garden looks like when you enter the gate. Take a moment to notice the compost tumbler.   There are two of them set up out there.  In the left background you can see the cold frames standing open.   See the horizontal bar that connects the legs?  Before Jim tied them together, each leg swung independently in a most whimsical way.  The holes for the wing nuts were so old, they weren’t very tight any more.   The coldframes are about six feet wide, and so it required a quite elaborate dance to put the frames down at night.   Now you simply stand in the middle and control both legs with one hand while you gently lower the glass lid with the other.

The cold frames will get me out in the fresh air regularly and help me prevent osteoporosis by providing me with regular weight-bearing exercise.  But I digress.

Coldframes closed:


Cold frame open.  Notice that we had to build extensions for the old frames to sit on because the mustards and arugula in the mesclun got so tall.


We eat some really good salads, I can tell you.

Okay.  Now back to politics.  After we had eaten dinner, which began with shrimp sauteed in a white wine sauce Jeri whipped up, she and I ran over to Buffalo to pick up ice and other essential supplies.  When we got back, Jay informed me that he was going to corrupt Jim, fill him full of whiskey and a couple of cigars.  I told him to go right ahead, and Jeri and I proceeded to corrupt ourselves to some extent, although we mostly drew the line at the cigars.  Oops.  That’s not true, I smoked a cigar for a while.  I couldn’t do the whole thing though.  I think I had some sort of wild idea of showing solidarity with Jim so he would know I wasn’t going to get on his case for getting stinking drunk and indulging in tobacco.  (I’m still trying to throw off my Puritan ancestors’ influence.)

We went through a rather rowdy discussion of what we thought would be the results of Barack Obama philandering the way Slick Willy did during his administration.  This culminated with Jeri posing as Michelle grabbing Barack’s balls in an iron fist while he stood at a podium making a public apology for his crimes.

That is when I got on a roll about how I was going to run for office someday.  Only, the problem is, I have SUCH a checkered past.   I mean, I’m gingham in all shades of the rainbow.  

Anyway, here is the gist of my announcement of candidacy:  I’m running for office in 2012.  I’m runing as the candidate for the Party Party.  Let me get one thing clear.   “Yes, I had sex with that man!  Now, can we talk about the issues?”  

Oh I can just imagine the first press conference after my announcement of candidacy.  I walk on stage, they greet me and I sit down in the comfy chair across the desk from the anchor.   Then the curtain behind us opens, revealing a very long line of men and a couple of women.  Many more than you can count quickly, let’s not get into details of the numbers.  I recognize quite a few of them immediately:  The Beautiful Soprano, Ivan the Terrible, Soldier Boy, Sailor Man, Wolfman Jack, the Gypsy.   The Terrible Twosome is there as well as the Pair Of Jocks from the swim team plus a miscellaneous lot of musicians and theatre majors.   I start to indulge in a pleasant reminiscence about days gone by when I am jolted back to reality by the dulcet tones of the anchor.

“Ms. Candidate.   Did you have sex with any of these men?”

Now, imagine me reclining on a couch in my friends’ living room in full declamatory phase here.  This is sort of what I said to Jeri.   I was not able to stand up, the couch I was sitting on had swallowed me up.   Jeri was laughing hysterically, and both the boys stopped their heated political diatribes  discussion to listen to me as I went off.

“Yes, I did have sex with that man!   As a matter of fact, I probably had sex with all of them at one time or another. Let me see,” I muse, as I imagine getting up from my comfy chair and walking along the line of men standing there.   Some look amused, some a little embarrassed.   “Oh, yes.   I had sex with him! Mmm.  You too.   Mmmmmmm-mmm.    That was a nice time, thank you very much.   Yep, I believe I had sex with this one too, only I’m sorry I can’t remember the name because he was such a selfish and unimaginative lover I never went out with him again.   Don’t call us, we’ll call you!” I say scornfully to the hapless fellow as I pass on down the line.  Quickly bored, I turn back to the anchor.

“And before you ask, yes I smoked pot.  Didn’t everybody at one time or another? What’s the big fucking deal anyway?   I can’t even begin to imagine how many ounces have passed over my lips in one form or another over the past three decades.  Hell, I even grew it a couple of years.  Stadiums are filling as we speak with myriads of potential witnesses to our debauchery.   Before you ask, I just want to say I also snorted cocaine for a short time.  I decided then that white crystalline powders were not for me; I am not fond of the headache.   I dropped acid once, that happened at a Grateful Dead New Year’s Eve Concert at the Oakland Coliseum in the late ’80s.  

So you’d better have a pretty huge venue for the potential witnesses.   That pool will include a large number of musicians of all sorts (Of course Slick Willy inhaled!  He was a sax player for god’s sake!) scattered all up and down the West Coast from the deepest south of San Diego clear up to the Puget Sound area, as well as almost every male theatre major in the College, Alaska area during the years of ’73 and ’74.  Even one of the gay ones.

Can we talk about the issues yet?  No?  You have more questions?  How intrusive into my private life are you prepared to get?

No.  I never had an “abortion” per se, although I have sufferred through several miscarriages spontaneous abortions as my body rejected the unviable creature that was developing within it.  Those tore me up, I really wanted to have a kid, but I was stuck in the traditional “have a baby and raise it up” version for quite a while.   I am so happy and proud and grateful to have the man we have as our adopted son.  

I’ve known several people who did have abortions, and they agonized and meditated over their decision.  I believe they made the approprate choice at the time, and support them in their decision and the need to make that decision.   It is their body, and their life, and until the fetus is born and can survive on its own without medical intervention, it is a parasite upon a woman’s body, lives within her sucking all the  energy it needs to survive out of her very bloodstream.    When this process is carried to a successful conclusion, with love and desire for the new soul being provided a housing, it creates a bond of love that is lifelong.  If it is done willy-nilly, the bond is lifelong as well, but very twisted.   That being within the mother is fully aware of all her emotions.  Think about it.  What kind of a human will you turn out to be if you know your mother did not want you? 

Now, lets see.   I always lived by the motto that I am not going to allow any one to rule me by guilt.   I have  looked at many people during my life and said, “You can not blackmail me.   If you decide you want to tell what we did, then I will tell everybody first, and louder.”   I’m sure that there was a famous person back in history that said, “Publish and be damned to you!” but for the life of me I can’t remember who it was that said it or what the occasion was.

As a consequence of following this rule, the other Prime Directive “Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You,” and the Axiom “TANSTAAFL” (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch), you will have lots of smut to giggle over, many orgasmic sex scenes to sit through.  You will attend hilarious parties developed around a theme food (like chicken)(or taffy pulls), some amazingly beautiful music of all genres, art gallery openings, political rallies.  You will not find any assaults, battery or murders.   I did steal candy from the Kraft display in Safeway when I was very young.   

I’m running as the candidate for the Party Party.   Our platform is:   Be Nice.   Have Fun.  Don’t Pollute.  Don’t Hurt Anyone.   Take Care Of Each Other.

WHAT??!!  You want to know what religion I am?   Well, I can tell you this right now.  It is not any one of your male dominated organized Guilt Trips.  I am a pagan, I practice Wicca (which by the way is an old word meaning “Wise Woman”) and I have already experienced being burned at the stake out near Toledo Spain during the Burning Times (oh, by the way, I believe in reincarnation too) so you can’t scare me any more.  I’m a witch.  Get over it. Deal with it.

Now that we have dealt with all the things that all the judgmental bastards out there in Religionland think make me unqualified to be your leader, can we please talk about the issues?

Vote for Me!  Thank you, and have a nice day.

I’m Esmerelda Hibblesfinck and I approved this message.

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An old joke

 Well, honestly.   Jim is off to Lowes to buy another water timer for the garden.   Sometimes I wonder about myself.   I was wanting to hook the two short hoses we have in the vegetable garden together and then attach them to the sprinkler for the root cellar mound garden.   So what I did instead was make one hose into a circle that made a looping mobius strip around the hose that was attached to the timer, and walk off with the whole twisted mess.   When it all came up short, I gave it a good yank and snapped the timer off at the spigot.   Well, at least the timers are fairly inexpensive, and we have gift cards for Lowes.   My dear husband didn’t even yell at me or make me feel dumb for what was a pretty silly error.   And I have a college education? 

It reminded me of a very old joke for some reason.  

 It seems that one day a couple of old farmers were leaning on the fence, talking. 

“Hey, Jeb,” says the first old fellow.  “I saw in the paper today that your kid is doing right well up at the Big City University.”

“Ayep, he is,”  replies Jeb.   “We’re real proud of him.”

“I guess you should be.   He sure has a sight of letters after his name now.  What do all them letters mean, anyhow?”

“Oh, you mean all them initials?  Dr. BCU Graduate, B.S., M.S., PhD?  That stuff?”

“Yeah.  What does that mean, anyway?”

“Well, Zeb, you know what a Dr. is, right?”

“Yeah, Jeb, I know that, but what about the other stuff?”

“Well, Zeb, we all know what B. S. is, don’t we?”

Zeb chuckles a bit, and says, “Well, yeah, Jeb.   Everybody knows what B.S. is.”

“Well, you got that straight.   So I guess M.S. means More of the Same.”

 “That makes sense.   What about the PhD?”

“I figure that must stand for “Piled Higher and Deeper.”

Thank heavens I have a B. A.!   Wonder what that stands for???


Okay.   I said it was an old joke.   Then my visit to my dermatologist reminded me of the definition of specialist, which I also love, and is not original with me.   A specialist is an expert who has learned more and more about less and less until finally he knows everything about nothing.  

Know any people like that?  

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