Saturday, September 26, 2009


Started out this morning by firing our concrete contractor. He's been with us since we started the house and did the framing, concrete, dry wall, finish carpentry and the exterior - or part of the exterior. The relationship reminds me of a marriage gone sour, where we are all so irritated with each other that nothing goes right. All respect for each other is gone and each party blames the other for the problems.

We knew we were taking a chance when we signed the last contract with him. We'd advanced him some money because of the economy, because we liked him and he'd been of help to us in a casual way, answering questions and giving us advice on certain issues. After the advance, when the balance of power shifted to him, he made it very clear that he was going to "hold us up" for
more money and generally make us dance on his string. To save the advance money, we went forward and since then, nothing has been satisfactory.

I've never liked having to fire someone and didn't in this case either. I've always felt that the shortcoming is mine...if I hired someone and made a poor choice, then it's clearly my fault when it doesn't work. So, I felt bad on that account. On the other hand I felt very good that we are free of this guy and his constant complaining and whining. He always underbid jobs to get them and then blamed us because he wasn't getting enough money. We couldn't win.

So now we are delayed a few weeks finding new contractors to finish the job, but that will be easy compared to the daily torture of dealing with Ken.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Today was my first day of physical therapy; educational, interesting and practical information was imparted over the first 60 minute session. My therapist got immediately to the task at hand and started giving me a battery of tests to nail down my specific problems which are gaze stabilization and the wide-stanced limp I've developed to keep upright. I have exercises to work on for both of these problems - simple but so obvious that they didn't even require much explanation. Now if I can just keep my focus on practise, I should be able to improve. Most valuable will be the gaze stabilization for driving when I turn my head quickly to see over my shoulder and check the other lane, I have a bout of dizziness. I'm hoping this can be corrected. It will also help with my parking problems. When I have to back out of a tight space and keep turning my head backwards and then to the front, I get dizzy and have to stop.

Yesterday at the parking lot in the hospital, I parked way off in the corner. By the time my therapy was finished, a big truck had parked in the space opposite meaning that I had to maneurver and manipulate to get out of my space. Of course, as frequently happens in a case like this, someone comes along who wants the space and is waiting. He sat there patiently watching me struggle and finally got out of his car and guided me out. I thanked him and told him I might have been there all day. He just smiled and I'm sure he thought I was just a nutcase who couldn't park.

Once released from the parking space, I drove down almost to San Diego for tile and found I was in the wrong place. To salvage the trip I looked at furniture. I think all the unemployed used car salesmen are now selling furniture. They sidle up and speak in a whisper, telling you they can "talk to the boss" and get a discount because it is a "special day", or "just for you". Talk about your sleaze bag salesmen. I used to get mad when they'd do this and say "what kind of idiot do you think I am" I just smile and nod and let them think I'm buying their baloney. It's almost more fun.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Concrete pouring and ZouZou

Big day today. We finally got our concrete poured after problems too numerous and tedious to recount. The day was filled with apprehension, confrontation, treachery disappointment. Sounds a little dramatic for concrete pouring nonetheless this situation shows how exaggerated and ridiculous things can get. After pouring once and having to jack hammer out half the job because the concrete set up too quickly, one would think the people involved would learn from the experience- but no. Some of the problems today were repeats of the same things that were done last time. The net of it is that nothing was learned. Same mistakes. We do have concrete but we also have
a big mess to clean up.

The bright spot in the day was the appearance of Tufty and beautiful little kitten. She wandered up from who knows where and sat on the very edge of the concrete apron. People were running all over, machines were grinding and chugging..everything that normally disturbs a cat was going on. She just watched. When I spotted her, I watched her in disbelief for a while and then approached, calling her. She rolled over for a belly scratch and started purring at first contact. Of course we couldn't resist feeding her and getting her some water (it was 100 out) and soon put her inside the house. She acclimated immediately. Richard and I realized that we really can't keep her...if she showed up three months later when we were in the house it would have worked out. We also feared that she was someone's pet so we put the following ad in our local epaper:

Ernest Hemingway referred to his many cats as "love sponges". Apparently a relative of one of these marvelous creatures found it's way to our place today. In the midst of a chaotic concrete pour with people running all over the place, this dainty little cat (about 4 - 5 months) appeared and took a front seat to watch the action. She greeted us, purring and rolling over for a belly scratch. Unable to resist, we offered a little food which was immediately wolfed down. Although she's not critically thin, it was apparent that she hasn't been getting "three squares".

We've had a lot of cats and rarely have we seen one so affectionate and so comfortable with people. We think she must be someone's lost treasure and we want to make sure she gets home. If she doesn't currently have a home, anyone looking for a very beautiful and affectionate kitten should check her out. Call us at 728-0309.

I have a picture to post later....she's a knock-out.

Within minutes we had a message from the fire chief at our local station saying they would take her as the fire cat and official
female mouser for the station. One resume, one job.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Richard and Buster

Buster boy was full of vim and vigor this morning running around the grove. He stopped and took a break with his favorite person who is still working on his blower rebuild.

Chipping away

It was a perfect day in Fallbrook, about 80 degrees with a cooling breeze. This morning, after a big breakfast of French Toast with five spice seasoning, I attempted to finish chipping the concrete off the retaining wall. In direct sunlight, the wall bounces heat back at'cha and I only lasted a couple of hours.

The Trex deck is finished except for the railing and we are almost ready to pour concrete. There is record-breaking heat forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday so I think we will probably pour on Friday. Meanwhile we have picked pavers out for the walkway.

Gail installed our "alien" spacecraft lights in the closet. When we open them the light goes on automatically.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Calle is born today

I woke up to a big surprise. Rhonda's baby Calle was born yesterday - she was going to be induced on the 19th but I guess Calle decided to arrive on her own. At 8 pounds 6 ounces she's a nice large baby and she has a mop of auburn hair. Apparently the delivery went very well - much easier than last time. Everyone is doing very well and Sammy looks so happy he could flip.

Rhonda's Mom should be arriving tomorrow and she's staying a week or so to get everyone settled in. That will be a big help for
Rhonda and Donny.

Happy Day!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Gale, our electrician and neighbor was hard at work this morning, installing a chandelier in the dining room, the security lights outside and getting organized. We are pushing everyone including him to move as fast as possible. After a year and and a half we are tiring of construction and want to get it behind us. Two people are coming to work tomorrow - the tiler and Ken, who is working on the deck and concrete outside.

Another saw broke today during the grove work. Honorato is apparently hard on the equipment. Richard had to rebuild the blower because he (H) mixed oil and gas for the 2 phase motor. Richard went to town to buy a replacement saw. After all, he had a quiet day because everyone cleared out before noon.

For dinner, chicken thighs and's refrigerator clean out day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The deadly tax deadline

Struggling today with myself to get my taxes done and sent to the accountant. Procrastination in this department is my hallmark and I never miss putting this off as long as possible. Why? Because I hate to intellectualize the amounts that I've sent to the government all year, much of which is squandered and mismanaged. Today our news is full of scandal - one of the Orange County state assembly reps has been exposed in a sleazy scandal. What's new? They all fall into that trap. I guess they think they are infallible. It's so discouraging and really disgusting in the state assemble. These guys have spent us into poverty/they've all been "bought" by one group or another and the really galling thing is all the legislation they pass every year. We have 1000's of stupid laws on our books which are written and lobbied for by these assemblymen who judge each other on how much legislation they can push through. Their constituents are largely uninterested in this legislation which just adds more to the load of the enforcement people and does little to improve the quality of life for most of us.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Here figgie, figgie

Lamb chops for dinner tonight with a fig and avocado salad. Everything was delicious
and just enough. The cats got to lick our lamby fingers and they enjoyed their treat. Very hot in Temecula where I went to pick up stone veneer facing for the garage front and a 96# bag of grout. The fork lift operator who assembled my items was on the chubby side and sweating profusely - I asked him about the heat and he explained that he'd just had his hose shower - has to do it every hour or so to be able to keep working.

A few appealing furniture stores I pass on my route home, had "clearance" signs on display so I stopped at one of them. The store was full of massive furniture - carved beds with huge headboards. They have little steps that you use to climb up on them like the beds of the royals were in Europe. Most of this stuff would overwhelm our house completely as I explained to the decorator. She assured me that a big piece in a small room can look great if you know the tricks. She was a charming little hing and literally buzzed with ideas. We walked from piece to piece and she gave me ideas for how such things could be ncorporated into smaller rooms. Very informative.

A Bosch washer and dryer were delivered today. The installers left their truck running for almost 2 hours stating that company policy allows them to keep the cab cool. Two hours? These guys were not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier but they did get things in place. We got an upgrade in the connection department because the first one they tried which came with the Bosch, stripped while they were installing it. The spin cycle is unbelievably fast - the washer sounds like it's going to take off any minute.

Good progress outdoors - the posts on the garage are almost finished and Ken has cleaned up a lot of the mess. Things are looking much better.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Dumb Poem

There's been a rumor that my little tumors now toast
Yes, it's true! and it's turning to goo! I can boast
And now may I smile? At least for a while, as I'm "post".

What was I thinking (or not)? I posted a question on the cyberknife
forum about how you can tell if your tumor is dying on the MRI's. Guess I lost control for a moment and decided to insert the above ditty on my question. I got deservedly's so bad. I thought I might get a laugh, but no - instead I got affirmation that I shouldn't expect to make a living writing poetry. No second career in this department, I guess.


Richard cooked up a semi-surprise post-op trip for us starting out in Shanghai on Oct. 5th. We fly to Shanghai and are staying in a small flat for five days. We board a Costa Cruise which stops in Japan (Kobe and Tokyo), in Taipei and ends up in Hong Kong on Oct. 24th. Three days later on the 27th we fly home.

There goes October, but we can use a change of scene and a rest. Even though our pace has been slow, the house demands are exhausting for me - I get about 12 good hours out of my brain after which it screams for rest. Flat on my back I can watch mind-numbing television until I fall asleep. I'm recently starting to be able to concentrate enough to read again. This week's book club is a good choice - "The Seal Wife". Parts of it are so good that I've completed reading them and turned back immediately to read the passages over again.

When I say I enjoyed a book, the natural question is always, "What's it about?". Lately the books I've been reading are very hard to classify as - mystery, memoir etc. The Seal Wife is a story of loneliness and yearning. The central character is a weatherman of sorts based in Alaska at the turn of the century. The author has an incredible ability to describe sensory experiences - so well that you are completely immersed in her scenes -smelling, touching, seeing and hearing. It's such a pleasure to read.

Farmers ? Market

Our first official farmers market took place yesterday in downtown Fallbrook. Of all the places that you would think a farmers market would thrive, it would be here as there is so much agricultural activity going on. However, the market was a dud. Only a few vendors selling jewelry and knick knacks. Not one produce seller.

The most interesting sellers there was a woman and her husband who raise goats, sheep and llamas here in Fallbrook. They shear the animals and then send the wool off for carding. She then spins the wool into yarn which they sell in hanks for knitting. The yarn was beautiful and expensive but very unique.

They were also selling wonderful greeting cards from a company called the Itty Bitty Witty Knitties in Idaho. The cards have a little tiny piece of knitting on the front and inside, an appropriate greeting/sentiment for the occasion. The knitting is done by deaf women in Kunming China; the women were formerly impoverished and unable to help themselves. The knitting project has brought them sufficient income to live decently and most importantly to learn sign language.