Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I know - it's only rock and roll, but I don't like it.

We had a bit of shaking and quaking today. There I was, sitting in my office, minding my own business, and then it all started moving. And kept moving. And kept moving.

It wasn't violent but it was definitely a good shaking. I couldn't decide whether it was better to crawl under my massive Mission-style desk or to crouch beside it. If the roof caved in, I might not be found if I were under the desk. But if I were beside it, I wouldn't have the protection of the desk.

I chose to crouch beside the desk. But at the same time, I reached my inordinately tiny hands up and onto my keyboard to IM my boss "we're having a hyuge quake." "I might get out of here."

She was simultaneously IMing me, asking me if I could feel it (actually testing to see if she was at the epicenter. She wasn't. Far from it.)

I hate sending typos, even in IMs.

At 5.2, the quake wasn't as huge as I'd interpreted. In the end, I didn't get out of there.

Cell phone service was dead. I didn't reach K for hours. But he was able to get to the house and confirm that all was well, including the kitten. Thank you. I'm so glad the brick fireplace and chimney are gone. More about that in a later post.

While looking through the news stories later, I found the following of interest. All were taken from Yahoo News Photos.

These are bricks from an unoccupied building in Pomona. This could have been the result of our former fireplace. Ouch!

Yahoo describes this as - Traffic flows through downtown Los Angeles after a 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck

Traffic flows? Really? Well, if it takes a quake, it takes quake . . .

The text that accompanied this photo was - A dog walks through a coned-off portion of the street as a leaking water main is worked on at the intersection of City Terrace Drive and Eastern Avenue in East Los Angeles.

Now here's one thing of many that I love about Los Angeles, more chihuahuas per square inch than any other city in the U.S. So, if you love chihuahuas, this is the place for you. But why is this little dog wandering around alone? That part disturbs me.

Yahoo News described this photo as -
People have lunch in a plaza in downtown Los Angeles after a 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck at 11:42 am local time, July 29, 2008.

OK, here's another thing I love about LA - when there's a picture to be taken, nothing seems to faze us. Unless of course rain is in the forecast. In that case, to hear the news pros tell it, all hell is about to break loose.

With this photo, we're told - A customer is turned away from a Macy's store in the Canoga Park area of Los Angeles which had to be closed when broken water pipes caused flooding July 29, 2008, following a magnitude 5.4 earthquake in Southern California centered in the Chino Hills area

I'm sorry, but the fact that there is a HUGE PILE OF RUBBLE beside the store is not enough to deter her compulsive shopping?

I love LA.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Top 5 Totally Uncool Things About My 'hood - #3 in a series

Who was stealing our papers?

Was it this guy?

I say “was” because we finally decided to just cancel our weekend delivery. I was fed up with the thievery and tired of waiting the 30 to 60 minutes it took to get a replacement. Plus I simply didn’t care to support that loser’s Sunday reading.

K and I relished weekend mornings on our front porch, reading the paper and keeping an eye on the parade of pedestrian traffic from atop our hilly perch – procrastinating work on the house.

Why didn’t the thief just steal a paper from Starbucks? There are always a couple of papers lying around there. He wouldn’t even have to buy a cup of coffee. The Starbucks is inside a Laundromat. He could just pretend he was waiting for his laundry.

When I canceled our home delivery, I theorized that I would just walk around the corner and buy a paper; but that plan never happened. Instead, we just live in ignorance. And maybe get more done on the house.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just Say "No!" to Granite

In case you haven't yet seen this story, read this:

Anybody thinking about installing granite counter tops should think again.

Someday, I might just cook something

I've been a bit tardy in reporting on this past weekend's accomplishments. For one thing, the new refrigerator was delivered. Delivery was promised two weeks ago and postponed two weeks in a row. Apparently, there's been a nationwide shortage of left-hinge refrigerators. And though I'd feared a Laurel and Hardy's Music Box* calamity coming up our 17 steps, all went well. Two nice (and strong) young men hauled our new Whirlpool without incident.

What a beauty! - all black and shiny and the glass shelves untouched by the gooey bottoms of ketchup bottles.

Bye bye old almond colored fridge. You performed admirably for 16 years,

. . . unlike your predecessor who gave us only about 4 years of service. Stupid loser former fridge. Just because we kept you in storage for 2 years while we went off to live in Germany, that was no reason to conk out on us when we needed you most.

But before you shed a tear for our faithful old refrigerator, let me tell you that she is NOT going to a landfill or a used appliance reseller. Oh no! She is destined for a glamorous life in the theatre. She will live out her remaining days in The Arts District where K and his crew work hard bringing arts to the people. Brava, Almond! Brava!

And, in other kitchen news, K has been installing the first of the kitchen cabinets. Some uppers -

Some lowers -

And very, very soon, I'll no longer need to keep my few "kept out" dishes in the oven -

More appliances to come next weekend.

* This scene from The Music Box is well worth watching.

This Oscar-winning 1932 classic short was filmed only a few blocks from our house. In fact, on an evening stroll just this last weekend, K and I stopped at the the bottom of these steps for the first time and saw the plaque commemorating the site.
I'm just glad this wasn't the fate of the new fridge.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bye bye old trash can

You have served us well. We'll no longer be needing your services.

Now that the major construction is complete, at $72 per billing cycle for two waste containers, we've decided that we can get by with just one container.

So the City of Los Angeles will pick you up tomorrow morning and take you away from our little home.

I asked K which of the two would be relinquished. He said, "the older one, of course. It's old and tired; it's done it's job. Why wouldn't we keep the newer one?"

Did I mention I have a birthday coming up?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Question - How is a floor NOT like a violin?

Answer - A violin is meant to be bowed; a floor is not. It seems that the living room floor has settled around the perimeter. Less so in the middle. Not exactly ideal for a game of marbles or snooker. Or laying hardwood flooring.

Leveling the house is out of the question. Friends had a horrible experience with their plaster walls cracking all over the place.

K was initially concerned the difference might be as much as an inch. In reality, it’s only about a ¼". I thought that maybe we could plump up the edges with padding. Guess not. An installer guy was here yesterday to have a look. He suggested sawing a bit off the joists. What joy.

I really wanted to buy the flooring this weekend.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pottery Barn has reached inside my brain!

. . . and I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit. I’m supposed to be the one stealing ideas from Pottery Barn, not the other way around. But today, I opened up the daily diet of catalogs and what do I see but this . . .

This so-called “Edison chandelier” was my idea for lighting my dining room. I didn’t want a fixed centered lighting fixture. I wanted something more flexible to accommodate the expansions and collapses of the table that will seat anywhere from 6 to 12. So, I thought, why not go with the rustic quality suggested by the cow creamers and just hang bare bulbs at various spots around the room, but radiating from a center point that may or may not center over the table? The bulbs can be moved closer or farther from the center, depending on the size of the table that day.

Now, everyone will think I copied from Pottery Barn. I want to go on record here and say I didn’t. I was here first. I admit, it’s not a truly original idea. One sees similar arrangements in restaurant patios all the time. But as a home fixture, it’s not yet overdone.

And I’m thinking, at $399 from PB, not likely to be overdone in the home anytime soon, either.

But I just wanted to go on record.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Die Yuppie Scum

While picking up dinner yesterday, I noticed a young hipster dude in the restaurant with a t-shirt that said in big letters "Die Yuppie Scum."
Did he mean me? First of all, I am no yuppie (young urban professional - the term is so old, it needs explaining again). I can't be a Yuppie since I am no longer young. Yes, I'm urban, but only peripherally professional.

The "Die Yuppie Scum" phrase has a history I needn't detail here. But this is cute. Anyway, because I'm so tragically self-centered, I thought he meant me, even though I am, technically, not young and only peripherally professional.

But how does he know me?

Does he know I'd just ordered a stainless steel range with convection oven, even though, in all likelihood, it will mostly be used to warm packaged food from Trader Joe's?

Does he know I was thinking of ordering this table from Crate and Barrel for the sole purpose of using it as a surface for the mixing of cocktails?

Does he know about my collections? The cows . . . ?

The Anglophiliac memorabilia?

The Victorian-era fern prints?

Does he know how I curse the too loud ranchera music, the overly-amped rap, the insistent ice cream truck tunes?

Does he know that I do NOT consider tagging an art form?

Does he know how much I wish for the demolition of the crappy Von's down the street that sells moldy bread and cheese, to make way for a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's?

Does he know the past reputation of this neighborhood and how if it had not changed so much in the past 10 years, if the gangs had just thrived, he probably wouldn't have the nerve to live here?

Probably not. He was probably just wearing a t-shirt.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Happy Anniversary to me and THoRH

Today is my one year anniversary as a blogger. I just happened to recall it in the middle of the afternoon. I really haven't much to say about it, other than in my very first post, I encouraged wagering on my completion deadline.

I hope none of my readers lost much.

Doing my part to boost durable goods orders

I don't know about consumer confidence but I'm personally confident that my 15 year old almond-colored refrigerator and the white stove that came with the house won't be sharing the kitchen with my new black cabinets.

Nothing better than a 3-day weekend for appliance shopping. And so, stimulus check clenched in my greedy little fist, shop I did. Stainless steel gas range, stainless steel range hood, black dishwasher and black refrigerator are on their way. I'm not sure I want to see the fridge hauled up the 17 steps. Might be amusing. Might be horrible. I hope the event doesn't become fodder for a clip show devoted to funny videos.

While I was shopping, K spent the weekend finishing the painting. All the interior painting is now complete.

The back wall behind the stairs is now tasty Hubbard Squash, to tie in with the wall space above the fireplace.

I like this little test patch in the kitchen. It looks like a little hut.

After the first coat, the test patch is still visible. The 2nd coat took care of it.
Cabinets will go over the while areas.

I took this just because I liked the image. I'll call it Deck Chairs with Shop Vac. Maybe I like it because it reminds me that one day, we'll rest.

Now that the violet (Mythical) is up on the two rooms of the kitchen, the color choice isn't as scary as it once was. I'd hate to have to tell K that he would have to re-paint because I'd made a horrible error in judgement. I know you can't tell this just from the pictures. You'll have to trust me. It'll be great with the black. And it's only two walls.

This picture looks like the kitchen of some crazy old hippie couple. Which we're not. I must wear shoes at all times.

I've done my part. What have you done lately for the economy? Remember, don't fear fear itself. Live with confidence. Go forth and spend.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Thomas Jefferson, American Homeowner

Don’t think you have much in common with Thomas Jefferson? You probably don’t. 1) He was a slaveholder 2) He was the main architect of one of the weightiest documents ever written and 3) He was President of the United States. You’ll never experience the first two and odds are against the third. You’re also unlikely to ever have your visage depicted on a coin, even one as humble as the nickel.

But, Thomas Jefferson was a homeowner and it took about 40 years to complete his dream home.

And, he died in serious debt. So, maybe many of us have more in common with him than we would like.

Happy 4th.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hearst Castle, Pink Flamingos and Rounding Up Cows

Last week, we celebrated our 25 years of wedded bliss with a drive up the Central Coast, and a visit to someone else’s unfinished house, Hearst Castle. William Randolph Hearst built his estate on a 40,000 acre ranch. The main house has 38 bedrooms, 30 fireplaces. Then there are the guest houses. That’s ambitious. I was happy just to get our one guest bathroom done. I’m glad we don’t have any guest houses to worry about. Sort of glad.

The gardener at work

The pool was re-done something like six times. Now I don't feel so bad about making a bad decision about the bedroom doors.

The reasons for his failure to complete the project ranged from his incessant modifications to delays brought on by WWII. Finally, his plans fell victim to "failing health and advanced age." The chilly hand of Father Time spares no one. Did I mention I have a birthday coming up?

Thank you to Jenni and Jennifer for their kind birthday wishes. It’s actually in August. We might be done by then. ??? I guess I’m still young enough to be a little delusional.

When you go to Hearst Castle, you stay in the village of Cambria. Cambria doesn’t have a lot to do there. Unless you like antiquing. And we like antiquing. Good thing. Because there’s really nothing else to do there. Of course, we visited the elephant seals, but there’s only so long you can look at elephant seals. It looked like a sunny day at the beach, but in reality it was cold and windy. Really, really windy. Layers of fat works well for some beach bods.

The Sunbathers

So anyway, in all that antiquing, we came away with 3 more cow pitchers.

The new additions to my herd

I had planned to slow down on the cow collection. But we liked them all so much. I especially like the little one. She’s so cute. And the Hershey's one was made in 1983, the year we were married.

We visited the local cemetery in Cambria. We also like visiting cemeteries. This is my favorite pic from there - -

Why not spend your eternity under the legs of pink flamingos?

In our first idyllic hours in Cambria, I was actually looking at real estate ads. Then, once I realized that no restaurants served dinner after 8 or 9, I came to my senses. My biggest non-traffic complaint about Los Angeles is that so few restaurants serve dinner after 10 or 11. I suppose I could check the real estate pages in Transylvania.

From Cambria, we went on to Paso Robles. It was like our Sideways tour. We did some wine tasting. Not as much as I thought we would. Wine tasting is like watching elephant seals. There’s only so much of it you can do in a single day. You’d think there’d be only so much dining you could do too, yet we seemed to do plenty of that there.

In Paso Robles, we did more antique shopping. K bought some Tinker Toys but there were no cows of interest. And yet, thanks to a rodeo event in town, the air was redolent with cow.

It’s good to be home; where the air smells of diesel and there are least a couple of places I can still get a decent supper and a vodka martini at 1 am.