July 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Emil funny, friends, Lori
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July 3rd, 2014 · 3 Comments · Austin, Lori, travel
We needed a little getaway, but the calendar gods were not smiling upon us. So, instead of a mini vacation for a night or two, we took a micro vacay just for the day.
I picked Colorado Bend State park. It wasn’t too far out for us to miss our obligations, like visiting Mom. I did note that there is nothing fun to do in the Brazos Valley, so we could make double use of our trip to Bryan. No wonder we always left there to go to Austin or Houston anywhere else. CBSP is a primitive park, so the vast majority of the park is left all natural and untouched.
Our primary task was to hike the ~1.5mi to Gorman Falls. It’s fed by a spring & the waters pour over limestone to create a beautiful piece of nature. My iPhone photos do not do it justice!
They mean it. The hike is strenuous, especially on a hot day. (I think it was 97? during our hike from ~11:30am to 2pm.) Water is essential. Gatorade, as it turns out, was a bad idea. The sugar seemed to attract more bugs. We had resisted using any bug spray for fear it would make us hotter. The terrain is rough, there is some climbing and it’s ~3 miles round trip with up- and down -hill hiking both ways. I stress this because we saw two guys without any snacks, and an entire family with their dog and just one tiny bottle of water for them all.
The early view from near the trailhead.
the hike down
about Gorman Falls
the downhill climb
Our view during our picnic lunch.
The springs are protected, so you can’t get in them. And the river is gross; you don’t want to get in it.
What’s worse: uphill or down?
After some much needed time in air conditioning, we drove through the rest of Colorado Bend state park. Camping is quite primitive (no electricity), but the tent sites are right along the river. After we left, we stopped at Bob’s Bad Burgers & General Store for a drink.
The next part of our adventure took us to Lake Buchanan. We saw it a few years ago when this current drought really kicked off. It’s not any better. Every marina and “waterfront” neighborhood is just sad; the public boat ramp is totally useless.
Remember when boat ramps went deep into the water? This one ends several hundred feet (we guessed a mile) before the water’s edge.
Fishermen have made “roads” on the former lake bed so they can get to the water’s edge.
A bluebonnet. In JULY. Growing against an old tree stump in the former lake bed. Bluebonnet. July. Wrap your brain around that one!
Upon leaving Lake Buchanan, we saw a bonafide zebra ranch. Their gate security was insane–I guess it’s a good place to pull pranks–so we didn’t stop for any pictures. As if the bluebonnet wasn’t a crazy enough sighting. then, just about the time we were over the crazy stuff, we saw another pair of zebra’s at another ranch. Are people entering zebras into rodeos, now, or what?
Down the highway a bit, and separated by only a dam, Inks Lake is full and thriving. Campsites were all in use. People were skiing and swimming. Many “bundled” rafts and giant floaties created make-shift party barges in the middle of the water. We walked the little trail to Devil’s Waterhole to watch the teens and college kids jump off the cliffs. We picnicked on our supper while we enjoyed the entertainment. Yes, that’s right: two picnics in one day!
On the way back home, we stopped a Scooters & Shooters (or: as one patron declared, they need to drop the initial S’s and call it Cooters & Hooters) for a drink. We were lucky enough to meet the owner and his girlfriend. They were finishing up an audit (where they are having to prove they pay their 14% liquor taxes; the local uptight fundies ratted them out for something they didn’t do.) and talking of their upcoming trip to Sturgis. Of course.
We topped off our #MicroVacay with a dip in the pool at home. Pretty good for a $34 “vacation”.
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June 13th, 2014 · 18 Comments · critters
[Update: Pekny is now missing. He ran her off, apparently. Then, Marble went missing for a couple days. Late one night as we were headed to bed, I heard him warbling on our front porch asking to come in. This emotional roller coaster has to stop. He needs a home different than the one we have.]
[Update 2: we have a maybe/trial home, but I'm not expecting it work. He has claws and she has a leather couch. Marble really needs a barn and mice to chase. For those of you with friends who have a farm/ranch, please ask around to see if someone needs a good barn kitty.]
Marble is a 4yo Bombay cat (black with bright yellow/golden eyes). He’s super affectionate and will demand attention when he needs it.
Likes to be around people, will lay on floor stretching and showing belly for petting.
Likes to sleep with people when napping or at night.
Will talk to outside critters through window, laser pointers, and people.
Been an indoor cat since adoption.
Uses a litter box (though a cat door to a controlled area) well.
Eats both dry and wet food, not picky about brand, has been fed chicken and turkey, mostly.
The few times Marble has been around a dog, he was quite curious and wanted to meet them; did not hiss, just smelled and attempted to rub on their legs.
We adopted him from the Austin Animal Shelter when he was 5 months old.
Marble has grown to be an assertive cat towards our other
two cat. He picks on them her and tries to dominate on a regular basis. This has kept the other two cat s from having a good home; one cowers in hiding 100% of the time.
Marble is fixed and current on all his shots and tests.
Favorite non-toy: straws.
Favorite Movie: How To Train Your Dragon. He likes to emulate Toothless.
Favorite thing to do while prepping for taxes: help.
Favorite way to sleep: “on” the next warmest critter
Favorite element: fire.
Favorite weather: sunbeams.
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We got presents for #DomaLuza on Tuesday! Merry gift-giving time to us!
The new fridge/dryer/microwave were supposed to arrive between 12noon and 4pm, but they called and asked if they could come early due to some cancellations. So, I hurried to haul all the stuff out of the soon-to-be-old fridge while they worked on the microwave. In less than 2 hours, we had a new set.
Our cheaply-made refaced cabinets weren’t sturdy enough to support the top bracing (something our other one didn’t have), but Emil found a piece of wood to reinforce the joints and the problem was quickly solved.
The Home Depot guy gave us all the specs on all the installs but one: he didn’t ask if the dryer was in a garage. Technically, it needs to be on a platform to keep it and the car from being on the same plane. Since we were $6 shy of saving another $100 with our purchase, that would have been an easy add-on. I’d go back, now, and ask them to retroactively add it to our purchase, but I don’t want to get the installation guys in trouble for installing it without. And, after using it just one time, I realize we need some height, so we might build something…maybe.
Oh it’s so pretty! I’m learning how to arrange our stuff differently in the new shape, but it’s a nice unit. We had to call a plumber to come fix the water valve. Today, Emil hooked up the long water line we bought. We’re putting the new fridge along the wall of the kitchen because it’s too big for the nook, so we also have some conduit running along the baseboard. We just need to pull three pitchers of water and three batches of ice to flush all the new out. We turned the pantry back to the cooking side of the fridge. And, some of the “loose” stuff we had in the kitchen are now in the nook that the old fridge left behind. Bonus: I can reach/use those upper cabinets.
Bonus: Water Test
Because we agreed to let some company test our water, we’ll get a $20 gift card to Home Depot. Maybe we’ll also find out why our water tastes so bad.
December 2nd, 2013 · No Comments · Blue Lime
A this year’s #gdgt event at South By Southwest, we saw a couple of brands of wireless sound bars. They are sleek and powerful. Not only to they emit great sound, but they also eliminate a few cables.
For Emil’s birthday he picked out an affordable model that was also on sale for Black Friday weekend.
Media wise, we lost three speakers–left/right & center–the receiver I hate, the CD player we never used, and one remote. Furniture wise, we lost one media cube and came real close to losing the small media tower, too. We also lost approximately eight wires.
We gained the bar itself, one wire, and one remote. Pretty neat trade. I think we gained one wire.
The new sound comes with some very handy settings: “night” balances loud action with quiet dialogue; another keeps commercial volume down. Most importantly, the little detail sounds are far more apparent, painting a better picture of what’s going on in the scene. We watched part of The Thing (the prequel) last night and already like this so much better than the setup we had…..which is now on Craig’s List.
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November 19th, 2013 · 3 Comments · Blue Lime
We have several motion activated lights around #DomaLuza . I like them in places like the staircase and bathrooms. It’s nicer than turning on a light. The tiny little LEDs are perfect. Battery power keeps them small.
Our closet light, however, was a caged, bare-bulb, pull-chain. On one if our many recent trips to Lowe’s or Home Depot, we found a motion light for only $12. It’s now our closet light. So, we upgraded from one bulb to two. And, we can adjust it for only when we’re in the closet. It even sets for as little as 5 seconds or as long as 8 minutes. Perfect!
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Relocating the cat box
Our cats have a “house” for their litter boxes. They go in on the side, but we can remove the top for scooping. We built this setup when we moved to Austin because our balcony at Riata was rails instead of walls…and we didn’t think Sosta or Purrrrrl would go. We also wanted to use the patio, so we wanted to cover them. And, there are rules about what can/can’t be on the patio, so we had to make it look like furniture. It’s been a great box everywhere we’ve lived since.
When we moved here, the back corner of the shop/laundry area in the garage seemed like the best spot for it. It worked for a while, but it’s just not anymore. We had the idea to add an exhaust fan to it and vent the air from it out the front under the garage door (where there is a gap in the weatherstripping). Emil bought a fan, reducer, and vent hose online. We picked up a jig saw, and in one short afternoon, he assembled it all while I rearranged the rest of the stuff that had been in that spot in the garage.
It’s funny how moving a few boxes around can change the chi of a space, but it made a huge difference. And it’s just a garage! The cats don’t care much for the sound of the fan, but we think they’ll get used to it. And, it’s on a timer, so if they can hold it, they can avoid it.
Black Friday comes early
After the garage was finished, we headed up to our Home Depot for our second appliance-shopping trip. Home Depot started their Black Friday sales way early this year….so people could get their homes ready for Thanksgiving. Since they aren’t making it all Christmassy, I think it’s smart marketing. And, I guess it got Emil’s attention, too, because we bought a new fridge, a vented microwave, and a new dryer. We don’t need them for Thanksgiving, and he’s off a couple of days in early December, so we’re having them delivered on the 2nd.
The stainless refrigerator is a French Door setup with a huge tray for party platters. I don’t care much about the stainless microwave (they all function the same to me) and I hate the built-in vented kind, but we can’t afford to lose the counter space. The fancy-schmancy dryer is white….and we were about “this close” to getting the matching washer, too.
How all this came to be is that the microwave will die ~any day. We had hoped it would die while under warranty, but it’s been most of that time and isn’t seeming to behave any worse. It took over 3 minutes to heat a cup of soup today, but it works…it’s just old. The previous owner bought a fridge too small for the space, so it’s digging a hole in the wall and many of the drawers are cracked/chipped from being forced in and out for cleaning. Recently, it started making a growling sound. The dryer takes two cycles most times and it horrifically mangles fitted sheets. So, we figured one would die in the first year, but that hasn’t happened and this is the time of year to buy appliances at good deals.
We’ll have to switch the fridge and pantry locations in our kitchen. The notch for the fridge is just too limiting. Smaller fridges are actually more expensive. And, even our free-standing pantry that the previous owner gave us is too tall to fit in the nook. We’ll pick up another cabinet at Ikea or something. It will look a little funny for a while, but if it functions better that is all we care about.
So, merry early xmas to the cats, to us, and to #DomaLuza
[I've almost given up on the dresser we bought with the idea of turning it into a kitchen island. I just can't see how I can make that one work. I'm still tinkering with the idea, but we'll probably have to sell that dresser and hopefully get back our money.]
As the first cold front moves in , we are winterizing. We’ve already built a couple of fires. But to save money, we’ve opted for wood instead of using the gas that’s in our fireplace. Last night Emil ordered a quarter cord of wood; it will be delivered in the morning. Today I cleaned out the fireplace so that tonight we can remove the gas burner and cap off the gas line.
I also wrapped all the outside plants in plastic in hopes that that would serve as a greenhouse.
We also have plans to both vent and relocate the cats’ litter box.
Busy busy at #DomaLuza !
October 10th, 2013 · 2 Comments · Blue Lime
- So new that portraits were not yet made.
- Not a scratch anywhere, yet.
- The first payment hadn’t even come due.
- We picked up the license plates on Wednesday, October 9th.
- Though Emil determined that it was a “he”, we hadn’t even thought of a name.
Backstory: We got a new car about seven weeks ago. We were due for a service but the site showed a huge sale on 2013 models. We upgraded to some snazzy new features that our 2011 model didn’t have, got a smaller payment, and got back into warranty, too. We got the Zoom-zoom Mazda loyalty discount, again. It was truly a win-win-win-win….and a no-brainer decision.
…and then after a little break at Opal Divine’s, we headed home for the evening. The sun was very bright just before sunset, so I reclined my seat. We were sitting at a red light when I felt immediate back pain and Emil’s glasses flew off his face, folded “closed”, and landed in the floor in front of my feet. We also had two gift cards and a name tag in different “cubbies” and they went all over the car.
A woman who spoke so little English she didn’t know hazards/flashers/blinkers or lights hit us with no brakes. Her excuse: the sun was in her eyes. Well, then brake. I feel a little bad for being mad at her, but did I mention the car is brand new? She knew better than to ask/tell me anything. Weird thing was: the very moment was likely the angriest I’ve ever seen Emil. …but she politely asked him if she could call her sister. He told her to call whomever–with an implied “the fuck”–she wanted.
The accident comes eerily close to the 1-year anniversary of when LG gave her life for me. State Farm was on top of what they can do until Geico connects with them; Dusty called us this morning just to make sure we were okay and to see if we needed anything.
I’m sure we’ll know some kind of damage number by Friday or Monday depending on how busy the body shop is. Judging by the parking lot, I’d say Friday. There were a lot of cars ready to go home.
All her air bags deployed…so I guess she hit us at at least 25-30mph. It sure felt like more than that. Her side airbag/curtain did not deflate. I had to hold it out of the way tot turn on her hazard lights.
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It’s been a year (& little) since my grandfather passed and since our vacation this direction last summer…and thus since we’d been “home”. Of course, Paris has never felt homey to me and hasn’t been my home since the day I left for college…other than a couple of very-temporary summers.
This trip is for my grandmother, Mama Bee. We arrived surprised to find my mom in attendance. Last time we were here, she either forgot we were coming or didn’t care to see us. I never heard from her, so I assumed she not only forgot, but also never had the “oh shit!” moment after the fact.
Anyway, dinner prep/post caused me more concern for my mom’s physical health. Neither Emil nor Mama Bee noticed what I did, so maybe I read too much into her trembling while carrying a plate of rolls. She was polite & seemed to be distracted-at-worst…I’m sure by the permanent elephant-in-the-room.
After she left, Mama Bee showed me some keepsakes, including the shadow box that was her Xmas gift to herself. It contains all of my grandfather’s military insignia & medals.
We talked until midnight…trying to solve all the problems…& then when I went to shower, I found the beaded bluebonnet ornament she hung in the guest bath. It’s from around the time we got married, so it’s been in there a long time, but I always forget about it & seeing it mis-matched against the wallpaper she picked when they built this house alway makes me smile…
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