Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's not you, it's me.

I've been cheating.
Forgive me - I'm a blog whore.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Day 2: Seven bandaids and counting

We arrived in London yesterday morning.
Or was it 2 days ago?
Well, at some point in the near past, we flew, like, 73 hours.
Since we've arrived we have probably walked an excess of 200 miles.
This is us after walking approximately 132 miles, right before we walked another 91:

We might look happy, but there are blisters the size of silver dollars on my feet.
Oh the price we pay for acting touristy and stuff.

Monday, April 16, 2007

We have since sterilized the kitchen thoroughly

Around here I might be known for mentioning a teaser about something I might write on soon.

And then not writing about it.

Not something I’m proud of. But I’m going to claim creative license on this one and just say that sometimes I’m just not in the mood to write about certain things.

Or, I don’t remember. Which could probably qualify as more of a creative amnesia than creative licensing.

In the case where I’m just not in the mood – let me just say I am sparring you. When it comes to writing, if I have to force anything it’s not only painful for me but the reader as well.

That’s assuming I have any readers.

And at the rate I’ve blogged around here – it’s probably safe to say I may have only one left.

Hi Mom.

What I’m getting at in a round about way (me? taking forever to make a point?) is that sometimes I’ve been known to hint at posting a story soon.

And then not.

And then asked to get right on it by what readers I DO have left.

And I still don’t.

Except today? I think I’m going to actually come through on a story tease I made in my previous blog about our hole digging escapades!

Not to be confused with Icecapades.

Yes! That’s right! I mentioned something about poo on the wall – and now? Why yes! I’m going to FOLLOW THROUGH and actually elaborate in a blog today.

Why you ask?


Generally not a moody girl – but when it comes to my writing I most definitely can be.

Which is probably an indication that if I ever wanted to pursue writing as a career (ha!), then becoming an alcoholic may be the best thing for me.

Ok, poo on the wall.

I’m going to try and err on the side of brevity here as I’ve already managed to blather on about god knows what for god knows how long.

Totally unlike me I know.

We had been in our new house for a week or two. Upon moving we had made a few large appliance purchases – one of which was a washing machine.

I, being the very excited ex-apartment dweller, wasted NO time in purchasing laundry equipment as soon as the ink dried on our loan papers. In fact, I was SO excited about NOT having to do laundry in a public laundry room EVER AGAIN, that I had stood protest against our ever growing pile of laundry in the corner of our bedroom.

And I waited patiently for Trevor to find some time to hook up the new washer in our kitchen.

Finally the day came, and our washer was plugged in, hooked up, leveled, and ready to make me one VERY happywife.

About two loads in and the drain started backing up.

Thus begins what would become one of many UNINTENDED projects we would have going on around the house.

Bright and early Saturday we rented a professional snake – something that vaguely resembles a garden hose on a reel. Only the hose is made of metal with pincers on the end, and the reel is powered to whip the hose around in a frenzy similar to a snake prone to seizures.

We set it up in the kitchen, and Trevor began to thread it down the drain pipe until the entire 75 feet of hose had disappeared into the bowels of our sewer system.

He began retracting it and realized quickly that the reel is designed more to encourage a seizure from the hose than actually pull it out and wind it back up again. So with Trevor at the drain opening pulling the hose out of the sewer, and I at the reel feeding the hose back into the apparatus, we slowly retracted the hose out of the sewer line.

I have to admit that by this point we were mostly preoccupied with the anticipation of what we would find at the end of the hose, griped in the metal pincer.

Let me just make it clear – when I say “anticipation”, I don’t mean in an excited sort of way. More like “anticipation” in an *oh god what the hell has been clogging our drain and just how much is it going to make me want to vomit?* sort of way.

About half way into the hose retracting the kitchen took on the smell of a public restroom.

At which point we noticed our gloves were turning brown.

From poo.

Two weeks into home ownership and we were already playing with poo in the kitchen.

(A note to every sicko that typed in “playing with poo” in your internet search tool and got this blog: Sorry to disappoint – and no, there are no pictures.)

We persevered, Trevor continued wrenching the hose from the pipe, I continued shoving it into the reel. Until finally! The end of the hose appeared! And in the pincers?


Absolutely nothing.

Not to sound perverse, but I was really hoping for SOMETHING. Anything that would prove to us that all our efforts had not been wasted.

I looked at Trevor for guidance – a comment that might give me faith that even though the pincers came back empty, there was still hope that whatever the impeding object had been, it was dislodged and traveling down the rest of the sewer pipe.

He looked back at me, and then looked at the wall.

"There’s poo on the wall.”

I turned and looked at the hose reel and there, next to it, was a spray that traveled across the floor and up the wall like a brown rooster tail.


“Gross. Guess we'll be cleaning the kitchen.”

“Yea, that’s not all.”


“There’s poo on your leg too.”

So that trail of brown spray that went across the floor and up the wall?

Yea, it traveled across the floor on the other side of the hose reel, and up my leg too.

(2nd note to Sicko’s: I was wearing pants, and no – I don’t have pics of this either.)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's not a hole to China...

"So, the police just called me at work."

"Do you need me to come bail you out?"

"I'll give you one guess why they called."

"Our favorite neighbor doesn't like the trench we just dug in our side yard?"

"Gee. How did you know."

"What did they want exactly?"

"They wanted to know how long the hole is going to be there."

"Tell them it will be there as long as it takes to trick her to fall in."

We bought an old house. A 94 year house to be exact. And it has old pipes to go with all the other things old about the place. This would include the sewer pipes. Given that things were done a bit differently back when the house was built, there is quite a bit of updating that needs to be done on the pipes in order to make the plumbing a little more acceptable shall we say.

I will have to blog about the "poo on the wall story" soon, as I think it will highlight what I'm talking about here quite nicely.

But for purposes of finishing THIS particular story I will summarize:
- sewer pipe got clogged
- we snaked the pipe ourselves
- we got poo on the walls
...and my leg

I think that makes my point.

Moving right along.

In order to update our sewer pipe so it stops backing up, meets code, and appreciates the value of the property, we had to embark on a project known as "replacing the sewer lateral".

Which pretty much means we dig up the whole sewer pipe as it runs from the house to the city sewer line at the street and lay down a new one made out of new! modern! fancy! materials.

On the first day of the project we hired a team to come and remove the concrete path that happens to run over the pipe, and excavate the dirt underneath to expose the area so we could break out the old pipe and lay down the new one.

And because we are not stupid we hung a copy of the permit and a note on the door for the police officer we knew would show up to investigate because a "concerned citizen" was most likely going to call in and complain.

Hence why Trevor was called at work by a cop.

"Did he give you any shit?"

"No, we are completely within our rights. He just wanted to know when we thought we would be done so he could let her know. That and she's freaking out about the dirt on her driveway."

Did I mention that part?


The sewer line happens to run right on our property line next to her, and the space there is VERY narrow.

Which means all the dirt that got excavated? Yea. It's lying on her property next to her precious driveway. Not ON her driveway - she still has plenty of room to back out - just NEXT to her driveway.

Which gives me great pleasure.

We came to find out a few days later from another neighbor that the Crazy old Lady is concerned about the hole that some "weird people" dug in her yard. She was worried that they would never come and fill it back in.

You know...those crazy bands of freaky hole-diggers that roam the Bay Area looking for driveways to trench.

Well, at least she didn't think aliens were involved.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

WARNING: Don't go topless on our street

Things had been pretty quiet on Crazy Lady Lane.

We were settling in to our new abode at a comfortable pace. Crazy Lady next door seemed to be leaving us alone since her attempt at having our car towed.

Overall, things were getting to be quite peachy.

Saturdays around the Russell household usually consists of coffee and breakfast cozied up on the couch in front of a home improvement show. Sort of an early morning pep talk for the rest of the day. Feeling freshly inspired we’ll pull on our grubs and get started on the latest project that has our attention.

Around our house, that could mean any one of 237 projects we currently have going.

And on any given Saturday we could be working on 1 single project.

Or 22.

Because we have what I call PADD.

Or Project Attention Deficit Disorder.

(I self medicate with wine)

I seem to recall that the Saturday that I am slowly getting my story around to, was one of the Saturdays where we had at least 4 things going on.

It was late morning and I was walking out front, probably AWAY from something that was annoying me and in search of either something else to catch my attention, or Trevor – so he could fix it.

Out front I stumbled across Trevor and one of our neighbors.

This was very exciting at the time because up until now we had only briefly met two of our neighbors.

Being the new homeowner that I am I had all these delusions of moving into to our FABULOUS new house and meeting all our FABULOUS new neighbors. We would all become GREAT friends, invite each other over for spontaneous dinners on our patios, drink wine on Sunday evenings, share gardening tips, housesit for each other, and enjoy many a quaint conversations over the fence whilst holding gardening shears mid-prune.

Because pruning the lemon trees is #34 on our project list.

And thanks to PADD, a friendly neighborly conversation over the fence is an excellent way of distracting me from work.

So imagine my dismay when we move in, get ticketed and cited for towing on two separate occasions, and have only managed to get a couple “hi, welcome to the neighborhoods!” in passing in the entire month we had been there.

Granted it was the middle of winter and no one really hangs around outside with wine trying to coax you into their backyard on a Sunday evening with promises of a delicious meal.

Come to think of it, if anyone did that I might turn and run the other way.


What the hell was I getting at?

Seriously. People?

You have no idea what it is like to be me, and to try and blog.

I read and REread my work repeatedly.

And not because I’m anal.

Well, there IS that too.

But what I’m referring to is how many times I reread my work because I have gotten myself so off track that I have to recall what the hell my point was.

Not including all the times I reread my work just to make sure I like what I wrote.

So by the time I’m done with a blog and ready to post, I have in all likelihood read the damn thing at least 12-15 times.

And then I publish it – and go read it physically ON the blog.

And then?

You got it…I find something ELSE wrong and have to go and edit it.

Usually I’ve posted and reposted each one of my blogs at least 3-5 times.


And no, I don’t take any medications.

But hey, some people wash their hands repeatedly.

I’m perfectly happy to just read and read and read and read my work.


NOW I have to go reread what I wrote so I can figure out what the hell I was writing about in the first place AGAIN…

Ok, right.

So Trevor and a neighbor were conversing in our front yard.

Naturally I go and butt in because I’m excited that not only has a neighbor approached us, but he also seems enthusiastic and very friendly.

Definate possiblities for wine schmoozing on Sunday evenings. Or Tuesdays. Or Wednesday, Thursdays or Fridays evening.

Point is, I'm not discriminatory over which night of the week I drink wine. Or schmooze.

Our new neighbor John proved himself to be quite the valuable asset in just the first 10 minutes of making his acquaintance.

Having lived on the street – just 2 houses down from the Crazy Lady – for 10 years, he has quite the load of gossip.


He LOVES to gossip.

We learned many an interesting fact in our first conversation with John.

Crazy Lady was born into the house she currently lives in. Her parents took ill when she was young (probably 20’s) and she was forced to take care of them having been their only child. She never dated, never married, her parents died and she has lived in the house ever since.

(I'm thinking being a virgin has probably caused most, if not all, of her psychosis)

There was some vague recollection about an ambulance having a hard time getting to the house during an emergency that has led to speculation as to why she obsesses about her driveway and cars parked in near proximity.

We suspect she has never even had a job – possibly never even made it off the island.

We learned that she apparently has calmed in her old age. John recalled many times he had been ticketed just for parking on the street – never mind near her house.

When she’s feeling particularly spirited she’ll even throw kitchen scraps on your windshield as a means to convey how she feels about your car being there.

More prodding and we got even more fascinating stories…

Neighborhood kids used to throw a ball around on the street since it’s a quiet cul-de-sac. Until one afternoon 4 cop cars came screeching around the corner with their sirens blaring because apparently she had called 911 reporting that there were “men with daggers” in her yard trying to “stab her”.

We weren’t sure how much credit to give that story until a week later we met another neighbor – he shared a few Crazy Lady stories of his own, including a time he was playing ball with some friends when he was a kid and all these cops showed up because there had been an attempted stabbing reported by the Crazy Lady.

Lastly, John shared with us a time a few years prior that some person visiting a friend on the street had the poor misfortune to not only park RIGHT in front of the Crazy Lady’s house, but in a convertible with the TOP DOWN.

She marched right out front, threw her garden hose in the car, and turned it on.

We have yet to verify that story with any other neighbors, but people?

The bitch is crazy!

We continued to keep a sense of humor about her.

And Trevor never leaves the top down on his car.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The beat we live in.

Christmas came and went. We had no more cars ticketed, cited abandoned, or towed.

Overall, a good holiday.

Come Tuesday Trevor decided to take advantage of his day off and head over to the police department and see if he could talk to someone there about the recent “issues” we had been having with the crazy old lady.

We thought it might be best to start some sort of record in case we had to push any kind of harassment suit.

Now, keep in mind we have always kept a sense of humor about our neighbor. We are not stressed, freaked out, angry, frustrated, or pissed off.

Life is too short - and seriously? This is pretty freakin' amusing. By the time that I'm writing this (oh, like 2 months after the fact), we actually look for ways to push our limits with the old bitch. I mean, really. We're not going anywhere, she's probably going to live to be 110, so we may as well make this a little entertaining.

But, that being said, we also know how fine a line it is between being annoying in a psychotically eclectic sort of way and being a flat out pain in the ass that’s costing us money.

We know how important it is to make sure your ass is covered when they stop being harmless, and start getting expensive.

We’ve both dated people like that.

So, Trevor headed off to the small town USA police station to file some sort of record with the station and ended up actually talking to the police officer that “runs our beat”.


Apparently do we not only have just ONE cop that is in charge of our neighborhood…

But we live in a “beat”.

That’s right.

Very nice guy as it turns out.

A very nice guy that is very familiar with the “woman next door”.

Apparently she makes frequent calls to the police department for a whole litany of reasons. He informed Trevor to “not worry about it”, “she’s harmless”, and we’re “not special, she does this to everyone”.

Oh gosh.

And here I was hoping we were her “special” victims.

Now that I know that she treats EVERYONE like this, I feel used.

So basically, as long as we continue to obey the law, and refrain from parking 6 inches into a red curb, we should be ok.

For the most part that put our minds at ease. What anxiety we DID have about the issue anyway.

But we were not looking forward to the frequent conversations we would be having with the police – scratch that – this one cop guy, because we knew we would soon begin a lot of construction around the house.

And neighbors usually don’t like construction.

And neighbors that already suck and have the police on speed-dial?


We were starting to think we should keep a box of donuts and a fresh brewed pot of coffee on hand every weekend.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Abandoned vehicles and crazy math

I want it clearly on the record that we never actually wanted any ill will upon our neighbor.
A mysterious disappearance would have been welcomed. But we are for the most part GOOD people.
So when the ambulance pulled onto our quiet street, in our quiet town, on our quiet little island, we might have felt a little guilt for all the little snide remarks we had made at our neighbors expense over the past week.
But only momentarily.
I mean, come on! We're not fancy magical people! We didn't MAKE anything happen to her.
But there IS the bird story.
Another blog.
Make a mental note to remind to blog about the bird story.
So an ambulance pulls up outside our house and naturally we went to spy out our window to see what was going on.
As soon as I got to the window to inspect, our crazy neighbor was making her way to the back of the ambulance - fully dressed complete with shawl, handbag, and scarf covering her wily white hair. Within a few moments they packed up into the vehicle, and drove off.
And that was that.
And we, being the new neighbors on the block, knew NO ONE on the street to go and gossip with. By the time I had pulled on my shoes and jacket to go out and see if I could butt in on any sideline conversations occurring on the sidewalk, everyone had already cleared and gone back inside their respective homes.
Trevor and I were left to our own imaginations.
And over the next week, our imaginations had leaped to the most likely scenario - we wouldn't be seeing her again.
Let me illustrate with the following calculation - known as The Relative Law of Pneumonia:
(1 Old lady + 1 ambulance) / # days gone = % chance likely she will return
For example:
1+1 / 7 days gone = 28.5% chance likely she will return
That's science people.
Ok, maybe not.
I may have just made that up.
But I watch NUMB3RS and therefore consider myself a mathematical expert in all things elderly.
You know, I blame this nutty tangent on the coffee.
I am SO tired lately.
Which I blame on the washing machine.
The washing machine that is IN our kitchen and not in the basement.
Where the dryer is.
Make sense?
Yea, I didn't think so either.
Which is why we are building a laundry room in the basement, so the washer and dryer can be united as a laundry collabarating team!
The washing machine and microwave - not a great cleaning duo so much.
But the washing machine and dryer? Much better.
So, in the meantime, on the weekends, I am acting as an assistant contractor to my husband, part drill sergeant, part Nazi.
Hence the coffee.
Hence the weird mathematical chitter chatter.
Hence the awful digression into talking about laundry equipment when I'm trying to stay on the topic of our crazy neighbor and her joy ride in an ambulance.
But at least I haven't broken into rambling directives in German.
Ok, back on task!
Right, she was gone awhile.
Like, 10 days.
And we were SO sure she wouldn't be coming back. She's old and was taken away by ambulance - my money was on pneumonia and either hospitalization in an old person's home, or death.
I'm not going to sugar coat by the way - I've already veered off topic a couple times already and this blog is taking on great lengths, and finding a more discreet way of explaining that we believed she may have died will just take up more space, and require more effort on my part.
You know, like explaining how I won't sugar coat something takes up time and space.
Exactly like that.
Oh my god. What is WITH the random tangents today?
Let us circle back to the story.
Friday afternoon - the Friday before Christmas - our elderly little neighbor was returned to her house. I must admit I was pretty ambivalent about the situation. At that point in time we hadn't really interacted with her much, and therefore didn't know any better.
Know any better - meaning NOW, retrospectively as I write this, I NOW know better and believe it would have been nicer if she didn't return.
But at that point in time, being ignorant on her CRAZY ways, and being a decent person, I thought it was nice that she didn't die at least.
Even if she did have police on speed dial.
Ok, so remember this: it was late Friday afternoon.
Got it? You will need to remember this little nugget.
Saturday morning comes, Christmas eve, and Trevor and I were getting a few things in order before we head out of town for Christmas eve dinner...when Trevor discovered his car had been cited as an abandoned vehicle.
His car.
His well maintained, clean, relatively new car.
The car he drove to the ferry terminal the day before.
The car he drives to and from the ferry terminal every day of the week in order to get to work.
And the citation? Was of the variety reserved for those cars you see on the side of the road, with piles of leaves and garbage accumulating under them, usually of the old and beat-up variety. The very kind of citation that claims the car has been abandoned for more than 72 hours and will be towed and impounded at the owner's expense if it is not moved within 72 more hours.
Upon contacting the 800 # on the citation, Trevor learned a few interesting tidbits of info:
- The parking department was on vacation all week and therefore an officer was dispatched when someone (ahem) called in the "abandoned" vehicle. Therefore, they didn't "know any better" and just cited the car as abandoned.
- The person who called in the citation was "the lady neighbor next door"
So, to recap what happened:
- Crazy lady comes home from hospital at roughly 4pm on Friday evening
- Crazy lady calls parking enforcement Saturday morning, claims Trevor's car has been "abandoned" and asks that it be towed
Now, if we do a little math (bear with me here, this time it's not convoluted), we learn that 72 hours PRIOR to when the car was cited was...Wednesday morning.
Remember that thing about Friday?
3 weeks in our new house at this point and we've learned two valuable lessons about our neighbor:
1) she's very protective about her driveway
2) she's a LIAR
Fortunately our cities parking enforcement department is very understanding and we were let off the hook.
At the time I thought they were just laid back and nice.
But in hindsight?
We now know that they have had PLENTY of experience dealing with the "neighbor lady next door".